Tuesday, 27 November 2012

London house Prices

My son is renting a small ground floor flat -one bedroom, sitting room, kitchen and a bit of a garden - at the bottom end of the Fulham road for around £280 a week.  It is in a two story Edwardian terrace house so -presumably - the landlord is getting an equally good rent - or perhaps a bit more as it is a two bedroom affair - for the one above.  This would give him a gross rent of some £30,000 a year which equates to an open market value of this poxy house at around £500,000 (rent = 7% of value)
Given this exorbitant rent charge you will understand that I take a keen interest in the London property market - should I buy or should we continue to rent- it is the big question.  Savills kindly sent me a copy of their Residential Property Focus and in it they forecast that London Prime (though surely arse end of Fulham cannot be 'Prime' - can it ? ) will rise by 23.8% over the next five years.

Well all I can say is that if Savills are right it is good bye to London as a commercial centre because the cost of housing will have driven everyone out of London. Going back to my son's flat. If he was to pay the rent without any help from me (or from a lodger who kips in the sitting room) he would need to be earning £40,000 a year. That is actually quite a good salary but after travel and rent it wouldn't give him much more than £200 a week to live on.

Over the last four years salaries in London have stagnated or fallen, the financial sector has shed buckets of jobs and bankers bonuses are increasingly a thing of the past yet London house prices are up some 20% on 2008 - it is a joke.

At the end of the day London prices will have to reflect the ability of those who live and work in the place to pay for them otherwise work and people will leave the metropolis for more salubrious fields.  Yes I know foreigners are buying and keeping prices up but one day they will find that tenants strike and refuse to pay ridiculous rents.  London property is a bubble and my forecast for the next five years is -in real terms after taking inflation into account - a drop in prices of 25%

So take your pick - Savills or Fulford - it's your choice.     


Friday, 2 November 2012

Ash Die Back disease

A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house  

Eighteen months ago, when Rachel Johnston and her acolytes where campaigning to 'Save our Forests' I wrote a blog saying that 'if they where really serious about 'Saving our Forests' they ought to campaign, not to stop the sale of the Public Forestry Estate to the private sector but to stop the importation of plants from abroad, as the biggest threat to our woodland was not a change of ownership of some woods but the bugs and diseases which where coming into this country via the plant trade.

Well there was - surprise surprise- a deafening silence on this matter from Rachel and her chums and sadly what I predicted then has come true far quicker than even I anticipated with the arrival of Chalara Fraxinea, or Ash die back as it is now popularly known, in East Anglia and Kent.

I wrote a letter to The Times on the topic the other day which they kindly printed. It went as follows: 

Dear Sir

The outbreak of Chalara Fraxinea fungus in ash trees was entirely predictable and thus entirely avoidable.  It has happened because DEFRA has totally failed in it's primary function of protecting the biodiversity of these islands. I and others have been warning of the inevitability of this tragedy for some time but successive governments have refused to ban the imports of trees and plants from foreign nurseries which are the source of not only Chalara Fraxinea in ash but of the Processionary Moth in oak trees and of P.Ramorum in Larch. the excuse successive governments ministers have given for their failure to implement a ban on the importation of all foreign plant materials is that would be contrary to our obligations under the EU Single market. furthermore when I recently questioned DEFRA officials as to why, when they knew Oak Processionary Moth had arrived in this country from Holland they were still allowing imports of oak trees from that source I received the amazing reply, that, as now the Oak Processionary Moth was in the UK we could no longer ban the importation of trees which might carry further infestation.

It is only by the banning of all plant imports into this country that we can protect our unique biodiversity and it is high time this was recognised by the government. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Allan Mitchell -Plebs or Plods?

Well Allan Mitchell has gone and I don't much care as anyone who believes, as he professed to do, that spending more money on overseas aid whilst ruthlessly cutting the defence budget was a good thing is a very strange sort of Tory in my book.

But did he really call a policeman a 'fucking pleb.'  Well I don't believe he did what I think he actually called him was a 'fucking Plod.'  Now either the said policeman misheard or someone decided that it would in infinitely more damaging to the Chief Whip if the word 'plod' was changed to 'pleb.

Why is it more likely that Mitchell called the policeman a 'plod' simply because that is the generic name for uniformed policemen in the services and among plain clothes policeman. In fact if he had held his hand up and admitted calling the copper a 'fucking plod' the Police Federation would not have dared open their mouth as to condemn him as to do would have been to condemn the hole of CID.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Eric Hobsbawn

Now most of us, say 99.9% of us at a guess where, until he died at the ripe old age of 95 unaware of the existence of this evil rabid old Marxist historian. I was anyway and was amazed that the BBC devoted some five minutes of the Ten o'clock news to lamenting his demise. In the following days the newspapers where full of obituaries and Ed Milliband himself could not but mention that our Eric was ......'a man passionate about his politics and a great friend of my family.'

Well, yes, Eric Hobsbawn was 'passionate about his politics, so passionate in fact that he cheerfully admitted when asked in a TV interview    '.........in 1934 millions of people are dying in the Soviet experiment. If you had known that , would it have made any difference to you at the time? to your commitment ? to being a communist?'

Hobsbawn replied; 'probably not'

Now that is really someone being 'passionate' about politics- so passionate that you are cheerfully willing to condemn millions to their death on the oft chance that a social experiment will work. Actually Hobsbrawn's 'passion' rather reminds me of the 'passion' of the Nazis who indulged in genocide.  This putrid man is lauded as a great historian and thinker and yet he could and did somehow manage to write a history of the 20th century called 'the Age of Extremes 1914 -91' without mentioning the purges, the gulags or the famines which his Soviet heroes inflicted on their subjects. How can such a man receive such eulogies from so many when the central plank of his thinking was not just flawed but spawned such evil and suffering?  How can Ed Milliband get away with lauding the memory of a man who condoned mass slaughter and ethnic cleansing on such a massive scale? I don't know I wish someone would enlighten me.


Sunday, 23 September 2012

The affair of Andrew Mitchell, the Conservative Chief Whip neatly illustrates a lot of what is wrong with modern Britain.  Just to recap on the facts. Andrew Mitchell works at No.9 Downing Street, to get to his office he has to pass through a set of gates at the entrance to Downing Street. These gates where erected some time back, at great expense, to protect Downing Street from terrorist attack. He reportedly asked the policeman on duty to open the gates to allow him through and the policeman refused on the grounds that because he was on a bicycle and not in a car he would have to use another gate.   Understandably Mr. Mitchell called the policeman a F****** idiot/moron or pleb or whatever. 

So what does this incident show about the state of modern Britain?

1) The proliferation of footling little rules devised by mentally retarded officials
2) That the police and officialdom generally are overpopulated with people who consider that rules - however stupid - are sacrosanct and must be obeyed at all times to the letter
3) The desire of little men -like the policeman and his superiors -to 'sneak' and attempt to destroy a man's career  - a man who - actually - had very good reason to swear at them
4) The media love of enjoying a feeding frenzy over any minister who they think they can destroy.

What the media ought of course to be outraged about is that a Policeman should deliberately have impeded a very senior Minister going about the business of HM's government. further that his superiors, rather than reprimanding him for his arrant stupidity, should have publicised the whole affair to the press with the aim of getting the said Minister into serious trouble. In the old days everything would have been handled so much better, a quiet word, perhaps a bottle of whisky changing hands and that would have been that. Now though I suspect the Policeman is taking time off and attending trauma counselling from the shock of being called a F****** moron.  


Monday, 27 August 2012

Prince Harry

The historian Lord Macaulay (1800 -1859) wrote; "We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodic fits of morality."   Except today, in the 21st century, when over the last week we haver been nauseated by the sight of elements of the British Press enjoying themselves at the expense of a cracking young lad who most of us would be immensely proud to have as a son.

Last week I read a lengthy article in the Daily Telegraph by their arch prig -Peter Oborne - whining on about how Prince Harry by his behaviour had bought both the Royal family and the British Military into disrepute. Leaving the Royal family out of it  (though I bet Prince Philip is heartily glad that camera phones were not around in his youth) what sort of men does Peter Oborne actually think join the armed forces and willingly risk their lives so little worms like him can tout their poison in freedom?  Well I will let him into a little  secret. They are red bloodied boys who thrive on the high adrenalin which military life provides and love nothing more than having a bloody good party and if that involves playing strip poker with pretty girls all the better.  They are not in short anally retentive prigs like Oborne or others of his ilk who have enjoyed themselves writing sermons about Prince Harry's conduct over the last week.  

There was also a nauseous  leader in the Sunday Times which praised their sister paper - The Sun - for 'Its brave loan stand for press freedom.' For those who don't know the owner of The Sunday Times and The Sun is Rupert Murdoch, who also of course owns Fox News in America, and  who is on record as having a peculiar loathing for the Royal family.  Actually, of course, the reason The Sun published the photos has nothing to do with 'bravery' and everything to do with selling extra copies of its joke newspaper thereby putting more money into Murdoch's grubby pocket.   

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Kishanda - my wife -arthur my son

Actually I am not alone in my family in being able to write. My wife too is good with a pen and to prove it I append the link to her latest offering in the 'The Hidden Britain' supplement of todays Sunday Telelgraph where she expounds lucidly and humourously on the perils and pitfalls of being chatelaine of our house.  The good news is that my son, Arthur, has added his comments as well to the piece on his 'view of his inheritance' proving not only that the literary gene!  has been passed on but that the future of this house and estate are safe in his hands.    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/travel/hidden-britain/9480079/english-stately-home-fulford.html

Friday, 17 August 2012

Double Barrelled Names - A resurgence

One surprise from the Olympic Games is that the double barrel name is alive and well.  No longer though are double barrel names the preserve of the British Upper Classes ( not forgetting also those who aspired to be considered Upper Class) but now are seemingly enormously popular among Jamaicans.  Why this is I would be fascinated to know but every time a double barrelled name appeared on the list of athletes taking part in an event it was always born with pride by a Jamaican.

The hope must be that this resurgence of the double barrelled name will encourage those who, over the last thirty odd years, have discretely dropped one or more names from their full surname to once again take them up. Life will be infinitely richer if the likes of my old comrade in arms, Sir Ranulf Fiennes reverts back to calling himself; Sir Ranulf Twiselton - Wickham -Fiennes or Charles Clive once more rejoices in signing his name Charles Clive - Ponnsoby- Fane.        

Friday, 3 August 2012


A businessman once said; "I know 90% of my advertising budget is wasted -I just don't know which 90%."   Well I have news for the Department of Health and that is that virtually 100% of the anti smoking budget might as well  be ditched for all the good it does. As my children grow up I have observed with amazement that they all smoke to some extent and that virtually all their friends smoke as well.  While I also noticed at a party  a thirty year old army officer gave  that virtually all his mates where smokers - this despite sky high prices for fags and a constant barrage of propaganda.  Conversely hardly anyone over 50 now smokes (I gave up my 40 a day habit when I was forty nine) .

The lesson is simple. Abandon trying to scare the shit out of the young about ciggies as it does not work with them - they don't believe it will affect them for a start and smoking is simply just too much fun and too social an activity to give up.  Us oldies on the other hand are easily scared and are highly receptive to tales that nicotine makes us look older, causes our teeth to fall out and eventually ends up killing us one way or the other.

So the answer is for the Health Gestapo to concentrate its ads on the over 35's while taxing the shit out of the youth. The trouble with this policy is that most of my children and their friends are adept at 'rolling their own' and I strongly suspect that the majority of 'roll up' tobacco smoked in the UK is smuggled duty free into this country via lorry drivers etc.  So why not cut duty on tobacco?  It does not act as a deterrent to the young but it does act as an incentive to the smuggler. Cheaper fags wouldn't -I suggest cause people to smoke more - but it could cause them to smoke more legitimate ciggies rather than smuggled ones.  

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Country House Rescue -A mistake

You can't live your life without making the odd mistake and it seems now that I made a major one when I agreed to allow Country House Rescue to do a programme on us.  Lose some win some and we lost this one big time as our programme has certainly disproved the old adage 'That there is no such thing as bad publicity' wrong.

Allow me though to put things in perspective. Firstly for every one hour of  film shown on the TV there is nearly one hundred hours which lie on the cutting room floor. In other words -in simple language -it is all in the edit.

Secondly Simon Davis and his Director decided for reasons known only to them - to rubbish the house and our pricing  of events etc. They flagrantly hammed up scenes such as the one where Simon Davies pretends he has had to turn on three electric radiators in order to keep warm- it was actually a very warm night and one of those electric radiators is more than ample to heat a room. They refused to accept that houses such as ours are not hotels. We have no wish to be a hotel or to compete with them. We believe we offer something different which is the exclusive use of a great country house and that there are people who are willing to pay for such a unique experience. We had hoped Simon Davies would have some insight into helping us market our house. Instead he had no insight except to say 'go down market.' His idea of a 'pop up' cinema was frankly pathetic. In the local town you can enjoy a film in the comfort of an armchair with a drink in your hand at a superb cinema - why would anyone bother to pay good money to come to us and see an out of date film? OK maybe once for the novelty and because the TV cameras where present but not on a regular basis.

I could go on but I won't. As ever don't believe everything you see on the screen.            

Thursday, 24 May 2012


We have just come back from a short city break in Naples. So what struck me strongest about Naples?  Well the complete lack of any 'Health & Safety' for a start. Everyone charges about on scooters without, horror, helmets on, weaving through the traffic and, where necessary, mounting the pavement. No driver seems to bother with seat belts, everyone smokes, the streets are littered with rubbish and the buildings covered with graffitti, the police, especially the Carbineri, are extremley smart and well turned out (in sharp contrast to our slobs) and everyone seems very relaxed and happy.

Taking all the above into account I thought I ought to look up the average life expectancy of these Neopolitans when I got home as, obviously, they must all die very young and you know what- they don't !!  Italians actually live longer than us - the average Italian can expect to live for 79.86 years.  Why do they live so long? Probably because they aren't stressed out trying to avoid death by living theire lives according to the set of rules devised by such fatuous public bodies as The Food Policy Unit in Defra. This employs 70 entirely surplus to requirements Civil Servants whose role in life seems to be to warn us to eat less meat.  The Italians in contrast eat what they like, smoke what they like and drive how they like and live longer.  There is surely a lesson here for George Osborne as he seeks ways of cutting public expenditure and re invigorating the economy -and that is make a bonfire of all the 'nanny knows best'  departments and 'units' in the public sector - the savings in money would be large and you know what - we would probably all live longer and, even if we didn't, we would certainly enjoy life more. 


Monday, 14 May 2012

Save Our Forests 2 - Forest Research - A blast

Don't get me wrong I am strongly in favour of the Government reducing public expenditure -for instance is it really necessary for the taxpayer to fork out some £56 million a year on buying crap art for Government offices and hospitals - answer no -obviously -but we are still doing it.  Now to pay for all this dubious art cuts have to be made somewhere and where better than in an obscure department of which 'no one knows anything' and which does not have a vociferous screaming shouting BBC/Guardian reading lobby behind it - namely something called Forest Research.

Forest Research?  - Never heard of it - Get rid of it - Another F***ing QUANGO - Bollocks to it - There are no votes in F***ing trees - and so on - etc. -such -I imagine -are the typical comments which reverberate around the rarefied corridors of DEFRA and the Treasury.  So Forest Research is having it's budget cut by 25% - which - hurrah - will allow for continued spending on crap art for Government offices.  But actually perhaps the idiot Spelman - who is the joke minister in charge of DEFRA - and her colleagues ought - for once - to try and take a longer view of the well being of this country than just the next twelve months.

The primary task of Government should not be buying art of questionable ability but should  be defending the people of this country against enemies both physical and biological.  The physical side of defence is taken care of the by the armed forces - or what's left of them - while the biological defences - against human and plant diseases -is carried out by a variety of government funded institutions one of which is Forest Research.

Ok -I am biased - I love trees- hell I plant trees - oak trees which I will never ever live long enough to enjoy seeing in their prime two hundred years hence but which give me enormous pleasure to watch grow and - you know what - I would seriously like these trees to be allowed to reach maturity therebye providing numerous benefits to wildlife, the landscape and the eco system  and - eventually - being felled and making my great great grandson a tidy sum before being made into some marvellous piece of furniture.  That's the dream. The trouble is that dream may just turn into a nightmare - not just for me - but for all those who plant and nurture their oak and for all those who enjoy the sight of national tree in it's prime. I refer to an obscure disease called Acute Oak Decline of AOD.

Now I know memories are short and I am quite sure the idiot Spelman has no recollection of the catastrophe which hit the English Landscape called Dutch Elm disease ( I am not sure if Osborne or 'Our Dave' were even born then - but if they were I suspect they were still on 'early learning Lego).   Dutch Elm disease only occurred because of the gross incompetence of her department in the 60's.  Now her parsimonious treatment of Forest Research threaten another iconic tree - actually not just 'another iconic tree' but THE iconic tree- the English Oak.         

I won't bore you with the the details of this disease (look it up on the Internet). Nor is AOD the only threat to our unique Bio diversity.  In the West of the UK tens of thousand of acres of Larch trees have been felled because of a disease called Phytophthora Ramorum - imported into this country on Camellias brought in from SW China via Holland or -to give you another example - what about a particularly nasty pest called the Processionay Moth imported - once again - you've guessed it - from nurseries in Holland on semi mature fastigiata Oaks and now likely to become endemic in the sE of England - Oh - and in passing I must mention Red Band Needle which attacks pine trees- imported - weirdly -by our very own Forestry Commission who purchased a large number of Corsican Pine plants from abroad.

Yes we do love Free Trade and I am a firm believer in it but why DEFRA thinks Free Trade - and being a member of the EU - means we have to accept diseased plants from money grabbing nurseries in Holland which import much of their stock from China beats me.

Still no doubt La Spellman will take much consolation in her declining years that while the principal cause of AOD getting out of control and devastating the English Oak trees was her decision to cut Forest Research's budget by 25% at least by doing so it meant that her deaprtment could have a lot of not so pretty pictures hanging on the walls of their offices . 

Monday, 23 April 2012

A degree in Public Relations

"What's your daughter going to read at Leeds?" I asked.   "Public Relations."  was the answer.  "PUBLIC RELATIONS !!! "  I exclaimed " How on earth do you spend three years doing a degree in Public Relations?"

I have been thinking about that  over the last couple of days and still just do not see how you could fill three years doing a degree in PR. OK sure you need to learn a bit of French so you can find your way around a decent restaurant menu and I will admit that those from 'disadvantaged backgrounds'  may need to do an accelerated crammer in basic table manners. Also a knowledge of wine and how much you can drink before you become paralytic and are sick all over the journalist you are entertaining is vital, but does it really take three years at University to learn this?

So what else should a PR degree course teach. Well obviously an ability to write good English is vital and, more importantly, an ability to write an amusing press release which will appeal to the journalist on the receiving end of it and get him to either give you a call or just write the story blind from the press release.
When I was writing a regular property column for the Field magazine I used to get inundated with press releases and most were boring to a degree unimaginable unless you were a brain dead girl in PR.    

But at the end of the day if you want press coverage then you need to go out to lunch. And not one of those pathetic modern affairs which last an hour and everyone drinks fizzy water before going back to the office- no you need a proper lunch-with bags of alcholol -lasting most of the afternoon. Why? because after a lunch like that you have truly 'bonded' with your guest and from then on you will always be able to pick up the phone and get your story at least listened too if not acted on.

Thinking back to that three year degree course in PR at Leeds you know the really sad thing is that the one thing they probably don't teach is the miraculous benefits of liquid lunches.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Bats v men - a question of priorities

 A few weeks ago  thieves broke into a nearly complete house nearby and ripped out the underfloor heating system getting away with a few hundred pounds of copper pipe but causing some thirty thousand pounds worth of damage.  A day later one policeman turned up to 'take the details'.  Three days later not far away two dead bats where spotted lying in a road opposite a building site in a village. Four police cars turned up with seven policemen!  The building site was shut down immediately even though as bats are nocturnal and builders tend to knock off at 5 pm so, logically, it seemed highly unlikely, if not impossible, for the builders to have had anything to do with this major crime.  Bats thiugh are now more important than people. If you question anyone why this is so they quote the European Endangered Species Directive on bats.

Now personally I don't have anything against bats -although I do draw the line at sharing my bedroom with them - in fact I rather subscribe to a school of thought which says having bats in your roof space is a good thing as they tend to eat insects and bugs. They are, I am told , especially fond of the Death Watch Beetle, a nasty bug which is so virile that it will bore into solid oak and can cause enormous damage to ancient buildings. Apparently the Death Watch Beetle, when it sticks its head out of the bit of wood it is feasting on, makes a distinctive tapping noise, and Mr. Bat swoops down and gobbles him up there and then.

Having said all that it does strike me that we have got things out of proportion and I do doubt whether bats are nearly as endangered as their fans say they are. Could it be that we have all been suckered into believing they are endangered simply because they come out at night so few people see them? Certainly when I take the dogs out on a summers evening just when it's got dark the air is full of bats.    

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Old soldiers - a new role

I was at a very jolly reunion lunch with some old comrades the other day when one of them said :- 'you know it is really stupid having these young lads getting their legs blown off by IEDs it should be us - the old and bold - we should be out there in Afghanistan leading the patrols because - frankly - our legs haven't got many years left of good use in them anyway.'  There was 100% agreement round the table that we would all volunteer for IED detection duties if the army took us up on our offer. Then it also occured to me that, for those of us with problems with Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning, this was also -potentially - one of the best ways of being able to pass on your estate free of  IHT, as even the grasping HMRC does not levy IHT on the families of those servicemen who die on operations.  Now some may think that volunteering to go to Afghanistan with an aim of being killed purely to avoid the iniquitous IHT is going it a bit far and I would agree with that but - if you are wounded in the service of your country then - when many years later you do die- your family can still get away without paying IHT providing your doctor certifies that 'you died of war wounds' and as no one can say for certain that your life was not curtailed - even slightly- by the trauma of being wounded HMRC never challenge such a case.

There was an MP at our lunch who had to leave early as 'Our Dave' was going to address a meeting of Conservative MP's so we told him to relay our offer to the 'powers that be' -  Oh and also relay that we  were all on side re hitting the tax relief on charitable giving those who had experience of seeing charities in operation in such places as Bosnia being loudest in their contempt for them,    

Sunday, 15 April 2012

whining charities

So what's all the fuss about?   From reading the paopers you might imagine that 'rich men ' had been restricted in the amount they can give annually to Charities. Rubbish. Any one can give any amount they want to chatities it is just from now on you won't be able to claim tax relief on your charitable giving. And about bloody time too. Not every charitiy is a paragon on virtue, many in fact are pretty dubious and why we - the tax payer - should fund a charity selected on the whim of a rich man regardless as to whether that charity is actually doing something which is in the National interest or is, as many are, a mere gravy train whose principal aim is to keep the chief executive and his/her acolytes in the manner to which they are accustomed beats me.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Church and Easter

The odd thing about the Church is that every Easter it has a great opportunity to 'sell' itself to packed pews with the AIM of getting us to change from being , High Day worshippers only, to  becoming more regular members of the congregation and every year the it blows it.  

How many times over the last eighteen years have I - remembering Jesus's words- suffer the little children to come unto me - and forbid them not -  taken my extended brood to Church and had my spiritual contemplation ruined - not to mention those of quite a lot of the congregation as well - by my vain efforts to keep my children under some sort of control.  And how often, during some tedious part of the service, have I turned to my Bible and refreshed my memory with words of Jesus - who said;

 But when you pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do; for they think they will be heard by their much speaking . Be ye not therefore like unto them ; after this manner therefore pray ye.  And he forthwith taught his disciples the Lords Prayer .     

Now of course the Church, in it's wisdom, totally ignores Jesus's advice and your average church service is stuffed full of 'vain repetitions' not to mention 'much speaking' with the result that you are lucky, at Easter, to get out in under an hour and a quarter and vow not to put in another appearance till Christmas.


Saturday, 31 March 2012

George Galloway

Well hurrah for the voters of West Bradford. Now I don't suppose George Galloway and I would agree on much politically but at least he is a man with convictions, character, a sense of humour and enjoys a cigar. So, in other words, there is a lot of good in the man and he is a vast improvement on most MP's, on both sides of the House of Commons, who seem to believe in nothing at all apart from their pathetic careers.

Let's hope the election of George is not a one off but the start of a rebellion by the electorate against our anodyne political leaders of all hues and we will see more upsets in by elections to come -not to mention of course the Euro Elections when I am backing UKIP to sweep the board and give Cameron a very bloody nose.  

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Mrs Assad

There was a picture of Mrs Assad with her husband in the newspaper yesterday and very lovely she looked too. Not just good looking, but intelligent as well, judging by the copies of her emails released by a hacker  Of course she is a 'hate figure' for our 'right on' friends in our media and government but they ought to pause and think -where else in the Arab world can a woman be publicly photographed standing by her husband, in a dress with bare arms and a big smile on her face?  Certainly not in Saudi Arabia which, of course, is backing the Sunni rebels. Next to the picture there was another photograph of a pretty girl who is allegedly: 'a close adviser to Mr. Assad and who advises him how to present his brutal crackdown to the media in a positive light.'  Again I can't help wondering where else in the Middle East could a woman become head of media relations? 

Now I don't know what the future holds for Syria but if I was Syrian woman I know who I would be hoping would win the current Civil War, Mr Assad.  Meanwhile if Mr. Cameron is really so keen on democracy why doesn't he give the people of this country the chance to vote on - say - immigration - the continuing membership of the EU - or reform of that  Lawyers benefit- the  Human Rights Act - to name but three issues which if put to the people of this country would almost certainly produce results which go against what the cosy liberal London consensus believes in. A consensus which is every bit as Dictatorial in its way as that of Mr. Assad and has ruled this country ever since Margaret Thatcher left office.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Red Meat is Good for YOu

A fatuous body called the Harvard School of Medicine has come up with the finding that - according to my newspaper-  eating steak is bad for you - Wow! Not only that but that if we were to cut the amount of red meat we eat to only 42 gm a day (the equivalent of one steak a week) almost one in ten early deaths in men could be prevented. Wow again. Obviously-  if these findings had a grain of truth in them -there would be no Argentinians alive over the age of sixty as, for those of you who don't know, Argentinians are the world champions of red meat eaters consuming 55 kg per head per year - yes that is twenty times the amount the pathetic Harvard Medicine School boffins think is good for you- Twenty times! right so -obviously -there can't be many hale and hearty Argentinians around can there? Oddly there can. The average Argentinian male lives to 73.1 years, OK that is less than our 78.4 years but that discrepancy can easily be explained by the difference in GDP per person and the health care spend. /   

The same cretinous report also waxes lyrical about the dangers of eating smoked meats like bacon or scoffing processed meats like sausages and salami - so - once again -why are there so many Germans around nicking all the sun loungers when I am on holiday?  According to Dr Hu -co author of the report - they should all be dead well before they get to the age when they can afford to go on holiday because- as we all know - those of us anyway who have had the misfortune to taste German culinary efforts -  their entire life revolves round eating sausages and processed meats but - actually - the average German males lives 77.82 years, only six months less than your average Brit!

Lastly of course life is not about living for ever but about having fun and enjoying the good things that God has given us. So just remember when next time you wife tries to tempt you with a plate of ghastly spaghetti that the average Italian male only lives six months longer than the average Brit - but if the price of that extra six months is a lifetime of eating pasta pap then frankly - fuck it - eat red meat and have fun.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Francis Maude - a Nasty Tory

Francis Maude - a Minister in this weird government of 'all talents' we are currently afflicted with - maintains that the Tory party will always be seen as the 'nasty 'party unless it backs gay marriage, unmarried couples and does more to attract ethnic minority supporters. Now -there is a technical problem here- i.e. the nasty truth is that many ethnic minorities don't hold with Mr Maude's 'right on' attitude to gay rights or unmarried mothers, let alone gay marriage and, in fact, quite a few of these ethnic minorities consider gay anything to be a crime best punished by a particular gruesome and prolonged death while unmarried mothers are normally buried up to their neck in sand before everyone throws has fun throwing stones.  These inconvenient facts must cause any Conservative member keen to be seen to be a 'right on modern conservative' a problem. Does he embrace evangelical Nigerian Christians for example or the gay fascist marriage party?  Perhaps Mr. Maude could give us guidance on this issue.

Mr Maude's advocacy of gay marriage though has thrown up a another problem. By trying to placate one lobby he and David Cameron have unwittingly stirred up that sleeping giant, the Roman Catholic church and it's million UK members, not to mention the evangelical wing of the Church of England. The bad news for Mr Maude is that the issue of Gay marriage is not, as I suspect he and David Cameron thought, a non controversial affair, but is a highly controversial affair and - here is the irony - in their efforts to be seen as 'non nasty tories' Mr Maude and Mr Cameron have become 'very nasty tories' for those members of the Catholic Church and Church of England who oppose gay marriage as a matter of principle.          


Sunday, 4 March 2012


I just wonder whether Mr Assad is such a bad bloke as he is portrayed in the press and I just wonder how long it would be, if the 'good guys' won, before we were wishing he was still around running the show.  It is all very well Cameron and the rest of the chattering classes getting their knickers in a twist about the death of a British journalist and some civilians in Homs but frankly this is what happens in a Civil war and, if one side chooses to fight it out in a City, then civilians will get killed.  It is a moot point incidentally whether the Syrian army should get the blame for the civilian casualties, I would have thought the rebels, who deliberately chose to fight their battle in a populated urban environment, are the real guilty party.

Still let's assume the rebels end up winning  it is odds on near certainty that the government which follows will make his regime look like a nursery school.  Why? Because this is the history of virtually every revolution, especially a revolution which is supported by the likes of Cameron, the Sunday Times, the Guardian et al, in other words by people whose chief distinguishing characteristic is a total lack of knowledge of history and a pathetic belief that all everyone wants is to live in a Western Democracy and respect each others human rights.   Well the bad news is that, based on the track record of 'liberal' revolutions, the last thing the eventual winners do is respect any ones human rights.

So just going back in history we will start off with the overthrow of that unspeakable tyrant, King Charles I.  Oddly the Civil war is still mistakenly taught in our schools as a sort of 'war of liberation' by the downtrodden masses against a tyrannical king which of course it was not.  The end result was the abolition of Parliament and the imposition of a military dictatorship. Moving on to the French Revolution, much supported by the liberal intelligentsia both here and in France, the benign and rather incompetent reign of Louis XVI was very soon replaced by the Reign of Terror, and the rule of extremists.  The same of course happened in the Russian Revolution and, nearer our time with the over throw of the Shah of Iran, widely welcomed by all 'right thinking people' in the BBC and in most of the press - the Guardian of course being particularly enthusiastic. The end result is that in Iran woman caught in adultery are routinely stoned to death, homosexuals are strung up and everyone lives in fear of the religious police. 

A friends of  son (an adventurous boy) is just back from a visit to Syria and gives a very different picture of what is happening in that country than that provided by our biased media.  In particular he tells me of the fear of the minority Christian population about what their future would be if the rebels where to win.  Assad's Syria  is tolerant of minorities and allowes women great freedom, aspects you would have thought would appeal to our chattering classes. So why are they so anxious that Mr Assad's regime would be toppled and replaced by rebels supported by those known tolerant regimes like the Saudis and, I almost forgot, Al Queda?             



Monday, 20 February 2012


I am not sure that the appointment of the ghastly Les Ebdon as Gauliter in charge of the 'Fair Access ( a oxymoron if ever there was one) QUANGO is going to make a lot of difference in the long run.  I say that because an increasing number of the young and their parents are starting to realise that a University education is not all it is cracked up to be. Sure you spend three years drinking too much alcohol, shagging around and, quite probably, end up shacked up with the girl who will one day be your wife, but with tuition fees of £9,000 a year plus another £10,000 for lodgings and living allowance actually it is beginning to look a tad expensive especially as a 2:1 no longer guarantees you a job while a 2:2 is frankly worth a bucket of the proverbial.   Why is this? Well perhaps because most of those who are sitting behind the desk interviewing potential employees now are themselves products of the University system and know what most degrees are worth - i..e. fuck all - a big change from say only ten years ago when the chances were that the guy doing the interviewing hadn't been to University and thus thought it meant that you were intelligent and hard working  

The alternative to University is of course the University of Life.  Now as a graduate of this University with first Class Honours I have always upheld its merits not least because whenever I read about an entrepreneur who has made millions by setting up his own business the phrase -'left school at sixteen' - normally crops up while the phrase 'got a double first at Oxford' hardly ever does.  In fact you could make a very good case that the best thing you could do to get the economy going would be to demolish most of the Universities  and let the young take their chance in the big wide world as they used to when Britain was great.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

The High Street

Apparently there are over 14,500 empty shops on the High Streets of Britain's Towns and Cities - that is not counting the charity shops either - who as everyone in business knows - get them rent free in exchange for saving the landlords the cost of paying business rates on empty premises. David Cameron is so concerned about the state of the Britain's High Street that he appointed a TV personality - Mary Portas - to advise him on what to do. Actually - being a bit of TV personality myself I think he would have been better off appointing me - and here is what I would have told him. The High Street - as we know it today - is finished and good riddance to bad rubbish, because that is what most of the chain shops sell - either overpriced or dirt cheap depending on the strategy of the Chains management. Councils have not helped the High street either by making their town centres anti car and thus, not only putting off people coming to shop, but actually driving businesses out of the town centres as well. The old post war idea that the centres of market and county towns would act as shopping hubs is over and government has to accept that the future is Internet shopping or out of town shopping centres where you can park your car and enjoy your day outwithout living in fear of neo fascists parking officials.

So my advice is accept the inevitable and reinvent the High Street. First take all councillors and planners to look at cities where the High Street concept works, somewhere like Bath in fact. Bath works because it is full of beautiful architecture and - now this is the real revolutionary thought - people like to live in beautiful houses and -even more revolutionary - not in ugly badly built modern developments. People also don't mind living in narrow streets in terrace housing providing it is beautiful. Because people like to live in the beautiful houses, which proliferate in Bath, they create a demand for restaurants, bars, boutique shops, delicatessens, decorating shops etc. So the AIM should be to get prosperous people to move back into the city centres from the suburbs. The way to achieve this is firstly to allow offices to be converted back into houses and then to allow new build houses on redundant fifth rate post World War development- oh and don't forget to throw away all the 21st century 'planning guidelines' and go back to 18th century building densities and town planning practices because - actually - that is what people like - and actually -while we are on the point of building what people like - they also like classical architecture.

So get young professionals and the like living in the towns and cities again and a virtuous circle will be formed. They will demand services and shops and new life will be restored to the High Street and, because some of those shops will be extremely high quality people from outside the town/city will be attracted into it to visit, browse and buy. It is not rocket science, it is common sense David Cameron - so next time you want a TV personality to advise please give me a call - the advice will be cheaper and - though say it myself - a hell of a lot better.

Friday, 3 February 2012


Now I am thrilled that I installed a new central heating boiler. All winter to date I have begrudged the £12,000 which I had to spend on replacing my old faithful but now - hurray - it is finally earning its keep. Yesterday I turned it on for the first time this winter and as I write - in comparative warmth - I can hear it chugging away merrily next door - although - I hasten to say - that the warmth - welcome as it is - is really just a secondary benefit and not the primary  one, that is to ensure that the house is warm enough so that the pipes don't freeze and then burst - as happened last winter- which caused much grief.   Also I hope that this cold weather will persuade the flowers to go back to sleep for another month or so - only the other day I stumbled across a primrose which had unwisely decided that spring was here! I do not like my flowers to be out in February - let alone January.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Mr Heston's bonus

Finally Mr Heston got the message and generously gave up his bonus. Oddly there seems to be a school of thought in the City pages of the press that he has been subject to some form of witch hunt and journalists are saying that 'to get the best' it is necessary 'to pay the going rate.' Well hang on a moment, presumably all those bankers whose cretinous financial activities actually got us into this mess where - at the time - thought to be 'the best.' So on what basis is Mr. Heston judged to be the best? the same basis which gaves us our Fred ? or is it some other basis? I only ask because whatever his merits as a banker he seems to be a singularly stupid man not to have realised that his bonus was going to cause an almighty row especially as - to date - he doesn't appear to have achieved any real success at RBS which is still a sceptic tank bank full of underwater loans. The time for Mr. Heston to take a bonus is when he has actually turned the bank around - caused the share price to soar -thus enabling the us - the poor tax payer - to get back our £45.0 billion investment and - with luck -more besides. Do that and it would be mean to begrudge him not just a mighty bonus but a knighthood to boot. But till that time comes I would have thought he could rub along happily on his salary which is - after all - £1.3 million a year.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Wealth Managers

Will someone please explain what a 'Wealth Manager' actually does -other - of course - than help himself to a reasonable percentage of your wealth every year for his questionable services. Twice in the last week I have asked people what they do - to receive the answer ; 'Oh I'm in Wealth Management.'  Now I have a sneaking suspicion that a Wealth Manager is what used to be called a Financial Adviser which in itself was a euphemism for what was once a Life Insurance Salesman, who, if my memory serves me right was the lowest of the low in the financial pecking order and usually the refuge for the seriously thick and unemployable.

Now I admit that this is quite a clever move by the Financial Rip Off industry. After all there was no kudos in having a Life Insurance adviser and not much in having a Financial Adviser either but just imagine how impressed the neighbours must be when you casually let drop that; ' You have an important meeting with your Wealth Manager'        

Friday, 20 January 2012

Sir Fred Goodwin

I think virtually everyone, with the presumed exception of Sir Fred himself, is agreed that he should be stripped of his knighthood what though is a little sad is that now this process is carried out by some dull and boring committee. Not so in days of old. In 1621 two knights (businessmen coincidentally) were found guilty of exercising harsh monopolies over the licensing of inns and suffered the punishment of being publicly degraded.

'Sir Francis Mitchells sword and gilt spurs, being ornaments of knighthood were broken and defaced.......one of the Knight Marshals men...cut the belt whereby the culprits sword hung, so let it fall to the ground. Next the spurs were hewn off his heels and thrown, one one way the other the other. After that the Marshaks attendant drew Mitchell's sword from his scabbard and broke it over his head...'  Great stuff and done in Westminster Hall it would be standing room only with tickets probably changing hands for well over a hundred pounds.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Jeffery john, dean of st. Albans

Poor Jeffrey John is apparently throwing a bit of a wobbly over the fact that no one wants to make him a bishop because he is gay.  According to the Sunday Times he has hired a leading Discrimination lawyer and is threatening to sue the poor old church of England under the Equality Act unless they make him a bishop smartish. Well hang on a second. Just how many of the seven deadly sins is the good Dean guilty of here. So he is very cross at not being made a bishop so he is guilty of WRATH,  He is also envious of others who are bishops so he is guilty of ENVY not to mention PRIDE that's three so far though we must absolve him of LUST as he is apparently in a celibate civil partnership with his long term boy friend.  Still to be guilty of three of the seven deadly sins is surely a bit over doing it for someone who hankers after a bishops mitre, not to mention all those lovely embroidered vestments which you get to wear when you are made up.    

bankers bonuses

We will soon be entering bankers bonus territory and newspapers will already be preparing the headlines castigating the greed of the bankers.  They are of course right to do so but the banker bonus culture is just part of the excessive pay scandal not just in the City, or in Industry at Board level, but in football as well.  The difference in football is that the fans, who through excessive seat prices actually pay the wages, get to boo and insult any non performing player, and do so with vim and vigour.

Not so the long suffering shareholders of the banks ( that's us in the form of the taxpayer in the case of RBS) who are unlikely to receive any dividend payments for many years while the miscreants who largely caused the grief go on awarding themselves fat pay packets and fatter bonuses.  We are told that they need to be paid so generously because without their special skills the banks would be in even great poo than they are now. Well I wonder about that. I have met quite a number of these bankers over the years and, with the odd rare exception, have been singularly unimpressed by either their intelligence or their ability.  Years ago I found myself, for lack of any other candidate who was prepared to take the risk, running a beaten up Lloyd's reinsurance broker.  I very soon worked out that what, on the surface seemed to be extremely complex was, actually, extremely simple and once one had formulated a plan and got some good people in to do the work there was  very little for me, as Chief Executive, to do except to go out and have a good  lunch.   I mentioned to someone that I felt a bit guilty about this and they told me not to be so stupid as the role of a Chief Executive was to do himself out a job by ensuring he had good people working for him.  After that there was nothing to do but act as the Chief Salesman for the company and make a few decisions and if that meant having lots of good liquid lunches so be it. He was right of course, which means those Chief Executives who are paying themselves millions are ripping the arse out of the system as- if they really are working so hard - they have obviously failed in their primary task of ensuring that they have good people to do all the work - while if they do have good people to do all the work - getting paid millions for just having a lot of good lunches does seem exceedingly  greedy.