Tuesday, 19 November 2013

I have got a new hero - now that -in this modern world which is virtually devoid of heroes - is quite something. His name is Paul Sykes and he is the very rich Yorkshire businessman who has pledged his fortune to making sure that every one in this country understands exactly why we -in the UK - must leave the European Union.  Now according to the CBI, the club of 'big business' he shouldn't do this as they are fanatical in their desire to keep Britain in Europe. But you know there is a great big difference between the likes of Paul Sykes and the over promoted, over paid bunch of has beens in the ranks of the CBI - the difference -Paul Sykes built his company and his fortune from scratch - most CBI members got to the top of companies by climbing a greasy pole.

Paul Sykes is doing what he is doing because he is a patriot who loves his country and he is sick of seeing it give up its historic Independence and freedoms for the proverbial forty pieces of silver.  Unfortunately Nick Clegg - the moronic deputy Prime Minister- doesn't understand the meaning of the word patriotism (and people thing that Westminster was a good school!) . Apparently Nick Clegg thinks that wanting Britain to leave the EU cannot be patriotic because ; 'it would leave many people poorer, it would leave us weaker as a country etc.'  Well - actually - Mr Clegg -using your criteria - we would definitely not have gone to war in 1939 - nor gone to war in 1914 - as both those conflicts caused us no end of economic grief. But we did so as we honoured treaty obligations and to fight tyranny. Now a different sort of tyranny is abroad. It is the tyranny of unelected judges, the tyranny of unelected and unaccountable officials, the tyranny of the urban political elite intent on foisting there ideas and 'vision' on everyone in this land.  The destruction of these tyrannies is surely worth fighting for and that is why Mr Sykes (someday I hope him to become Lord Sykes or even Paul Sykes Duke of....) is my new hero.    

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Great Fulford Restoration - An Award

Yes - contrary to much belief we do actually have a restoration programme on the house - it is just that it goes in stops and starts and only happens when funds are available.  One of the most depressing things about owning a large house  is that you can spend large sums on vital 'infrastructure' such as the roof and the wiring but there are hardly any visible evidence that you have done anything! So the casual observer will still think the house is crumbling into the ground blissfully unaware that the lead work on the roof has been renewed - so no longer leaks - that the wiring has all be updated - so there is no longer a risk of the whole house going up in flames due to an electrical fault.

Finally though we have done something really visible and the effect is stunning. Our big Double Cube ballroom -or great Drawing Room (42 ft l x 21 ft x21) fell into total disrepair in 1810 when the ceiling collapsed. It had been constructed within the Tudor walls of the house and - to get the height-  my ancestor had removed a floor -cutting through tie beams etc. and fatally weakening the building - the result -disaster a hundred odd years later.

In 1960 my father carried out vital structural repairs to stop the whole of that side of the house collapsing but had little money left to spend on interior decoration and installed a temporary ceiling. Now at last I have got rid of it and realised a long held dream by replacing it with a truly 'shock and awe' baroque plaster ceiling created for me by probably the greatest exponent of the almost lost art of stucco and plaster work - one Geoffrey Preston - who I found - by a fluke - living and working down the road in Exeter! 

So for the last eight months we have all laboured to finish this great work  Geoffrey has created a ceiling to gasp at - pictures have been rehung where they last hung over two hundred years ago and my wife and I -with some occasional desultory help from our children have personally applied no less than four coats of paint to the walls - which has been very good for our figures and entirely satisfying. 

The end result was that we entered the finsihed room for the Georgian Group Architectural Awards - the Oscars of architecture - in the 'restoration of a Georgian interior' category and being on the short list hoofed it up to London to attend the awards ceremony at Chrisites.  Sadly we came second - beaten by a short head by Andrew Lloyd Webber's restoration of the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.  Still -as they say - I think - better to have tried and lost than never to have tried at all.   

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The rich are different for you and me

Scott Fitzgerald wrote; 'The rich are different to you and me.' to which Hemingway tartly replied; 'Yes - they've got more money'

Well I am not sure that's the whole truth.  Knight Frank - the elite London based estate agents - have kindly sent me their lavishly illustrated Autumn catalogue featuring properties they are selling.   The average price of of these places is around £10 million with a valuation of around £3.5k per sq. ft. being the seeming going rate in central London.  Flicking through the tome I was struck by how outstandingly boring most of the interiors where and that something was missing.  Then it came to me - there where no books or magazines anywhere to be seen.  The rooms where all clinical and sterile, perhaps reflecting the mindsets of those who have the money to buy. No clutter, no cosiness and definitely no books.  

So yes 'The rich are different from you and me'  - but Hemingway was wrong- it's not just that 'they've got more money' it's that they never read a book, newspaper or magazine.     

Monday, 16 September 2013

Devon & Cornwall Police inhabit a vast headquarters building on the outskirts of Exeter.  When I was a small boy the then Devon County police operated extremely effectively from a building a fraction of the size and, what's more, the police where highly visible in the countryside and on the roads. Now the police are all but invisible. There must be a sort of 'parkinsons law' for police - the bigger the headquarters the fewer actual front line policemen there are.

I am writing this after chatting over a cup of coffee with someone who comes in and does the odd building job for me. Somehow we got onto the subject of drugs and he told me that he was horrified when his boys told him that drugs where openly traded at their secondary school. He demanded and interview with the Headmaster and asked him if he knew of it;

 'Oh yes' was the answer ' but it is no worse than any other schools.'
 That 's not the point my man answered; 'why don't the police do anything about it?
 'Because the police are not allowed on the school premises unless they are invited in '
 'So why don't you invite them in?'

And so on. Both the police and the headmaster knew of the problem, both had decided to do nothing about it. There is no better advert for private education than that. If that had been the headmaster of a public school the parent would have complained to the governors and he would have been dismissed the next day. Everybody knows that turning a blind eye to petty crime leads on to greater crime and encourages more crime yet here was the headmaster of a major secondary school doing just that. Worse the police where equally uninterested.  

Friday, 13 September 2013

Syria - Three cheers for Putin

Well Hurrah for Putin - he seems to have brokered a deal which allows everybody to save face without anybody having to fire missiles at each other. That is a major achievement and.  Now - hopefully - Cameron and Obama will leave Assad to get on with the task of winning his Civil War and stop flirting with the idea of supporting the opposition which - oddly - include Al Queda and other extreme Jihadist Muslim groups - which strangely - I thought we had been fighting against for the best part of the last decade or so!

Cameron's emotional demand for Parliament's sanction to bomb Syria was apparently fuelled by pictures of dead children - well excuse me but if pictures of dead children are now to become a primary reason for Britain's armed forces (which Cameron has spent the last three years emasculating) going to war then they are going to be very busy indeed in the future. Actually I think Prime Ministers and Presidents should be more driven by real politic of situations than by emotion especially when lives of our own young men are on the line.  

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Egypt - something to cheer about

Well hurrah for the army. As the bleeding heart liberals wring their hands at the way the military deposed the 'democratically elected' Mr Morsi (he actually got only 25% of the votes of those eligible to vote) I rejoice and open the champagne. The army, quite correctly, have gone in hard and not pussy footed about. If a things worth doing it's worth doing properly and getting rid of Mr Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government was certainly something worth doing.  Egypt, under the so called 'moderate' Morsi was heading down the road to becoming a Muslim 'theocracy.'  His government had already started openly encouraging violence against Egypt's 8 million Christians as well as other Muslim minorities who it disapproved off.

I also have a shrewd suspicion that Mr Morsi and his friends where already giving much thought to ways to hang on to power without going through the tedious process of having to present themselves for re election, no doubt taking lessons from the history of most Communist and African dictatorships who managed to survive many years on the principle of one man one vote once.  They might even have been talking to the current President of Turkey who is also an Islamist and has taken the precaution of purging his army and imprisoning many generals on trumped up charges. This particular 'champion of democarcy' said once: 'Democarcy is like a train- you get off it when you get to yours station' a view I suspect that Mr Morsi would have endorsed.  

Tuesday, 6 August 2013


Hostess: It's a great secret, but I must tell you. My husband has been offered a peerage. 

Guest:  Really! That's rather interesting. We thought of having one, but they are so expensive, and we are economising just now .

The above from Punch in 1921.  Out of the thirty new peers created several seemed to lack merit except in so far as they have made substantial financial contributions to political parties.  James Palumbo, the night club owner, promotion to the ermine looked particularly dodgy.  He has given, it is true, more than £500,000 to the Liberal Party but it is difficult to think what other qualities he has which would justify his joining the House of Lords.  There is, of course, nothing new about cash for peerages. The Liberal Party in particular has form on this subject as Lloyd George pretty well financed his party by selling knighthoods, baronetcies and peerages.  The going rate then (1920) for a knighthood being £10,000 while a baronetcy would cost about £40,000 and, one suspects a peerage well over a £100,000, multiply by around 100 to get to modern day values.

Then of course there where no such thing as 'Life Peers' whilst now there is no such thing as a hereditary peerage or even a baronetcy on offer so one cannot directly compare the cost of getting a peerage say in 1920 to the cost of getting one now. However for those considering investing in a political party with a view to achieving ennoblement it does appear that the wise man should give money to the Liberal party. With a little bit of greasing it would seem that something between £500,000/£1.0m should, after a decent interval, do the trick.  Conservative and Labour peerages though seem, anyway from the current list, to be considerably more expensive while, frankly, giving money to UKIP looks a lost cause as the main political parties are making quite sure that they have no nominations - odd that - is the Liberal Party that same one which used to bleat at how unfair our system was - strange they are so silent about the effective disenfranchisement from the House of Lords of some 15% of the electorate.

Monday, 29 July 2013

London House Prices 2

A friend casually said; 'My cleaners looking to buy a flat in Fulham '

Me:  'Your CLEANER! I mean - a one bedroom flat in  Fulham is going to set her back at least £500,000!

Friend:  ' I know - but she owns a £1 .5 million house in Wandsworth' 

London house prices are now surreal. The boom goes on and is now at the stage when even normally sensible people are charging in - convinced they must get on the London property ladder somehow - however low and squalid the rung -otherwise their children will never ever be able to afford to live and work in London.

London property is a BUBBLE.  But - as with any bubble - it is very difficult to say -with any accuracy (a) How big the BUBBLE will inflate to or (b) when the BUBBLE will burst.  But burst it will because it has to.  Wages in London have not risen for the last five years -yet property prices have soared - ergo the poor London workers are being squeezed with more and more of their salaries being used to pay for somewhere to sleep at night. A scruffy room in a flat in a not that smart area of London is now £200 a week plus or around £12,000 a year.

My children will - I am afraid - have to put up with renting such scruffy rooms as I am not going to buy them a flat at these silly prices -but others are - I walked into a friends picture gallery recently and saw a gorgeous 17th century portrait of a boy with his dog and gun by a man called Closterman.  It was being sold - my friend told me - as the owner wished to buy his son a flat in London.   

Well my pictures are staying firmly on the walls - boom come and booms go - and my portraits of my ancestors have witnessed many - and will witness many more I hope before some stupid descendant pops them in Sotheby's to try and make a fast buck.    


Friday, 26 July 2013

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds - a racist charity?

The COE of the RSPB recently sent a letter to the Guardian railing against the granting of two licenses by Natural England which allowed for the removal on one estate of four buzzard nests and, on a poultry farm, for five birds to be trapped and relocated - note - neither of these licenses allowed ANY birds to be killed.  So why then did Mike Clarke state in his letter to the Guardian that; ' .....licenses have been granted to kill or capture adult birds?'  What he wrote was demonstrably untrue as he well knew - i.e. in plain language he - the Chief Executive of a major conservation charity - lied. Now as charities can claim back tax paid on donations from the Exchequer the RSPB is in fact part funded by all taxpayers -is it right that a part tax payer funded body should employ a liar as COE and should not the Charity Commission take the RSPB to task for lying?  I only ask. 

Ok - you say - so he is a liar - but how does that make the RSPB racist?  Well -one would assume - that an organisation called the RSPB would be interested in the welfare of ALL birds and not favour one breed of birds over others? Increasingly though - over the last twenty or so years - the RSPB has tended to favour raptors over all else. Now back in the sixties raptors - that is all types of hawk - were seriously endangered for various reasons - the use of DDT being a primary one. Since  those days though raptor numbers have recovered and now birds such as buzzards are thriving. . The problem - conveniently always ignored by the RSPB - is that raptors are just that -raptors. They live by killing other birds and mammals. The famous incident some years back when an ornithologist in Cornwall was delighted when a small bird alighted in front of his hide, which he recognised as a native from North America, it had somehow made the enormous journey across the Atlantic unscathed. He started photographing the bird when - suddenly - a buzzard swooped down and killed it.

The fact is that raptors kill other birds - not just game birds or free range poultry but all birds. Nature is not cuddly - as wildlife charities like to pretend - but red blooded and cruel. Just because a buzzard is a spectacular bird while a fox is a mammal does not mean that it should be immune from being controlled just as the fox is controlled.

Incidentally - talking of control of mammals and protection of birds - it would be interesting to hear the RSPB's  views on culling badgers. Everyone knows that one of the major reasons for the catastrophic decline in the population of all ground nesting birds is the increase in the badger population but the RSPB remains discretely silent on the matter of badgers as - of course - they are cuddly and therefor off limits to a charity which survives on donations from a gullible and ignorant public. 

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Nazis were Germans

I can't help wondering how the BBC is going to cover the First World War anniversary events - just how are they going to avoid mentioning that the war was fought against THE GERMANS?  I mention this because I have noticed that now - whenever the Second World War is mentioned -we were apparently fighting - not the Germans - but some people called the Nazis. Now - actually - that is like the Iraq people saying  - during the Iraq War -that they were fighting New Labour (Oh what bliss - Tony & Cherie in the front line - somehow I don't think even the Iraq army could have failed to blow that curious amalgamation of assorted free loaders, Hampstead thinkers, Champagne socialists and human rights lawyers to kingdom come).

In other words it is rubbish. The vast majority of German people were in favour of the war in 1939 even if they weren't in the Nazi party - the vast majority of the German armed forces were not party members. The vast majority of the German people were, in 1940, intoxicated by their victories. So please could we have an end to this new politically correct fiction that the 1939 -45 War was fought against the Nazis -it wasn't -it was fought against the Germans.     

Friday, 7 June 2013

Save our Forests 3 - a Legal solution?

The biggest threat to our forests is the International Trade in plants.  I won't bore you with the details - as  I have already done this in previous blogs - suffice to say plants are arriving in this country from all over the world - bringing with them diseases and pests which are causing, or threatening to cause - devastation in our woodlands.

The government - apart from lots of hand wringing and fine words - which - of course - butter no parsnips- as the saying goes -says it is virtually powerless to act as - under our EU treaty obligations we are unable to ban or restrict imports from fellow European states - even when those fellow European states are importing plants from China and such place before forwarding them on to us!

However it strikes me as bizarre that no one - has - as yet - explored the legal option - or even - as far I can understand from questioning Forestry Commission executives - even thought of it.  My point is simple - if a nursery provides a client with stock which is diseased or carries a pest then surely that nursery should be liable in law for damages.  The Processionary Moth - for instance - came into this country on consignments of semi mature trees from specific Dutch nurseries - we know the exact nursery - so why is no one taking them to court?

Similarly the outbreak of Chalara disease in Ash we know came in on diseased stock imported from Holland and Germany for planting out in the UK - why is no one suing the the nurseries which imported the stock or those on the continent which provided the diseased trees in the first place.

This - seeming - total absence of any form of legal liability for bringing in disease or pests - which may cost land owners and the tax payers many millions of pounds to try and eradicate or control - has resulted in the nursery trade for both forest and garden plants being totally cavalier and irresponsible in their sourcing of plant material.

Now imagine if someone brought a successful legal action against either a Dutch nursery or a UK nursery which had imported diseased stock from one.  The said nurseries would of course have to fork out many millions and possibly go bust unless they had sufficient insurance cover.  The effect, though, on the whole plant trade would - overnight - be miraculous - insurance underwriters would impose enormous increases in premium on those nurseries or landscape architects who fancied importing cheap trees from abroad. The nurseries in Holland would realise they had to clean up their act or - effectively -they would be banned from their largest market. In other words -One successful legal action - or even perhaps the threat of one - would have the effect of stopping the importation of suspect plant material without -in any way - breaching EU rules - a great result all round.  All we need then is for someone to start the ball rolling. I doubt it will the government or the FC but there must be someone out there in the private sector who has suffered a pecuniary loss from disease so has a bona fide case in law. Surely - funding and bringing such a case -would be a great opportunity for that mega rich charity - the Woodland Trust - to come of age and do something which really would benefit Britian's woodlands - rather than just talking about it..     

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Grey Squirrels & rabbits

This time last year I was over run with grey squirrels. Not just me either there was, for some reason, anyway in the South West of England, an explosion in the population of the grey squirrel with consummate appalling damage to young broadleaved trees.

What a contrast this year - a virtual dearth of grey squirrels.  So what has happened?  How can a species boom one year and bust the next - or was last years boom effectively the reason for this years bust? I long to know the answer. Oddly with the waning of the grey squirrel I have noticed a waxing of the rabbit population> I have never known so many rabbits and think back to my childhood when seeing a rabbit was quite an event - 99.99% of rabbits having been killed by myxomatosis.  an old friend worked in the then Ministry of Agriculture and told me that the boffins aim was to completely exterminate the rabbit in the UK. One day the phone rang in his bosse's office. Someone had seen a healthy rabbit in an orchard in Kent - down they all went - with dogs and guns determined to kill this lone survivor - after an exhausting day they ended up killing five rabbits and missing one or two as well.  They got back into their cars and drove back knowing that the rabbit would make a comeback one day - and - at Fulford anyway - that day has now happened. Bunny is back with a vengeance.   

Friday, 17 May 2013

Gay marriage - Equality - and Inheritance Tax Avoidance

Charles Moore wrote a brilliant article on Gay marriage in the May 11th edition of the Daily Telegraph.  In it he pointed out that the Act allowing Gay Marriage does not make failure of consummation a reason for annulment as, trying to define what exactly was 'consummation' in a gay relationship defied the finest Parliamentarian draftsmen. Similarly it was decided that 'adultery' in whatever form would not, in the context of a gay marriage, be grounds for divorce. In other words sex and the sexual act has no meaning within gay marriage. So far so good. But now for a small problem - the Equality Act.

The Equality Act causes several problems for Gay marriage but the principal one is that you simply cannot have one form of marriage for gays and one for heterosexuals. So if non consummation of marriage is no longer grounds for annulment and if adultery is no longer grounds for divorce effectively sex is no longer part of marriage not just for gays but for everyone.  It follows that if sex is not part of marriage the various acts which forbid marriage to close relations etc. are clearly outmoded. In other words there can be nothing - theoretically - against a father 'marrying' his son or daughter or a mother doing so.  Now as 100% Inheritance Relief is given to wealth left to a surviving spouse the conclusion is obvious. The easy way to avoid IHT is to divorce your husband or wife and marry your heir.

Now 'Our Dave' has recieved a terrific pasticng for his cackhanded attempt to bring in gay marrriage but are we doing him a diservice?  Is he perhaps instead secretly bringing in a measure which effectively abolishes IHT with the unwitting total support of  Liberal  and  Labour parties?    


Saturday, 11 May 2013


A thirteen year old boy was tragically run over and killed when crossing a B road from his school to the playing fields.  So far so ghastly but to add to the tragedy the school in their stupidity posted details of the boys death on their web site before the father had been informed, yet another classic instance of the dangers of 'instant' communication compounded -in this case - by idiotic and crass 'friends'  who - reading the website -began to send him texts and e mails of condolence before he had been told. What sort of low life people were these who thought texts and emails of condolence were appropriate in the circumstances anyway - couldn't they wait and write a suitable letter? 

Now I only know the details of this case as reported in the newspapers but what sickened me was that parents - who up till now had my total sympathy- had instructed lawyers and were now suing the school and wanting damages. Damages = cash so it seems we are back to the pre Conquest days of Anglo Saxon England and Weir Geld or Blood Money. The school has apparently accepted full responsibility but I wonder if it should have - surely the boy who died was really responsible for his death by failing to obey the most basic highway code of looking right, looking left and looking right again - before crossing.   As far as I remember this basic safety code is drummed into all children at a very early age.

Now though in this modern compensation culture world there is no such thing as an accident and seemingly no such thing as a tragedy in which the victim was to a great measure responsible - not anyway when scum bag lawyers gets going. The result of cases such as this of course is yet more 'Health & Safety ' yet more 'Risk Aversion' yet more cotton wool wrapped round children and adults.

Sadly -no matter what- accidents will happen and it is time the law recognised accidents as such and also recognised that individuals must accept responsibility for their actions.  

Monday, 6 May 2013

Clowns are winners

Isn't politics suddenly fun?  Oh how I have enjoyed the last few days seeing politicians of the main parties squirm as they try to explain UKIP's success.  Looking back I see it was February 2011 when I 'Came Out'  and announced to the World that I had joined UKIP - well we are on a roll now and have - what Americans politicians call- the Big Mo - momentum.   Next stop the Euro elections where the main parties can look forward to another good kicking.

Some thoughts;  Please can someone question Nick Clegg on the fairness of an electoral system which sees a party (UKIP) get nearly 25% of the votes but only 6% of the seats.  And - actually - isn't it time for Nick Clegg to offer grovelling apologies to David Cameron over his tantrum at the latters refusal to make membership of the House of Lords subject to election by a system of proportional representation?

Also did no one ever tell David Cameron and Ken Clark about the stupidity of insulting people with differing political views. So Cameron's description of those who vote UKIP as being; "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists"  is going to haunt him for some considerable time as it really ain't that smart to call some 25% of voters such names. As for Ken Clarke's fatuous remark - from -it has to be said - a politician who is surely well passed his sell by date - that UKIP voters are a bunch of 'Clowns'  that - I think - could be even more disastrous. Most people have probably forgotten that Lady Thatcher's sobriquet of the 'Iron Lady' was original an insult in the Russian media, indulging in childish name calling has a nasty habit of boomeranging back to hit the name caller slap in the face like a wet fish.   

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Lady Thatcher

A few weeks ago - just after the Budget -I came across this quote

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be re-filled , public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance."

The author was one Cicero, a famous orator and politician of the time of Julius Caesar. Like Margaret Thatcher he fell from power - but - it has to be said -the penalty for political failure then was rather greater than it is now as he suffered execution with his body parts being prominently displayed in the Forum.

At the time it struck me as exactly the sort of speech Lady Thatcher could have made and just the sort of speech that none of the political pygmies currently running the government could ever make - simply because they are too frightened of being hated ever to be loved. It was Lady Thatcher's great strength that she didn't care who hated her as long as she believed she was acting in the best interest of the people of this country- which she always was.  

Looking Cicero up on the Encyclopedia Britannica  web site I came across this:

...as a 'new man' a man without noble ancestry, he was never accepted by the dominant circle of Optimates  (Conservative Senatorial aristocracy) , and he attributed his own political misfortunes after 63BC partly to the jealousy, partly to the spineless unconcern of the complacent Optimates

How history repeats itself though no one, surely, would go so far as to to ascribe 'noble ancestry' to that mountebank Heseltine    

Monday, 1 April 2013

church attendance this Easter

Memo to the Archbishop of Canterbury - next time Easter Sunday and putting the clocks forward looks like coinciding get the date for putting the clocks forward changed. Getting teenage children out of bed and into church by 10 o'clock is a bugger at any time - but when the 'real' time is only 9 o'clock it is a real challenge!

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Eastleigh By election

I suspect the main effect of the Eastleigh by election result will be a sudden, and very welcome,silence from the Liberal Democrats on the 'unfairness' of the 'First Past the Post' election format.  It is all very well bleating about how 'unfair' and 'undemocratic' the First Past the Post system is when you would be the major beneficiary of  some form of Proportional Representation but hey - now - oh dear - those beastly UKIP people would get representation in Parliament - actually rather a lot representation too if the Polls are to be believed - rather more than us 'right on' Liberal democrats in fact - and that would never do would it?

 I mean you really can't let people like UKIP into Parliament - because they actually believe in something - something really horrible too -like putting their country first - like controlling immigration -like getting a grip of Human Rights abuse - like giving the people a referendum on Europe - like thinking - horror of horrors - that looking after our armed forces is a little bit more important than dishing out Overseas Aid to all and sundry.  I mean what they believe in is really disgusting - isn't it?

Because you see the Liberals - like all the current political establishment - are not really 'Democrats' at all.  If - by the word - Democrat - you mean governing according to the wishes of the people. It is -in fact - a very long time since politicians of any party bothered to actually take into account what people actually wanted.  No - today's politician - is like an old fashioned Nanny - Nanny knows best - so no matter how much you shout and scream there is nothing you can do about it because if you get rid of Nanny Cameron - you will get Nanny Milliband - whose medicine will be much the same but slightly nastier.  Except now there is a new kid on the block - UKIP - which actually stands for something - and oddly -an increasing number of people like what they hear.       

Monday, 25 February 2013

Invitation to View

I often receive requests from individuals asking if they can come and look round my house to which I reply yes - of course - but at a price.  After all  - as the Good Book says; "The labourer is worthy of his hire" and as showing someone round takes up at least an hour of my time - then my minimum charge is £150.  This may sound a lot but then a girlfriend of my wife's is getting divorced and is being charged £700 per hour by some grease ball divorce lawyer (is there lower species of life than a divorce lawyer?)  - so frankly at £150 an hour I reckon I am cheap at the price.  Obviously though this puts a tour out of reach of a lot of people so I  - together with some other house owners in South West England have joined together to do something called -Invitation to View.

This idea originated in East Anglia and is simple. Houses such as mine designate certain days and times when they are willing to show people round their houses.  People book in and pay in advance via the Invitation to View website and then turn up on the appointed day at the appointed time and get my undivided attention. It is good for me because normally there are between ten and fifteen people each paying  £15 a head for 'a tour and  tea' and good for people interested in crumbling piles such as mine which are not normally open to the public. Everyone - in other words - is a winner.    

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Mansion Tax

Living in what is undoubtedly a 'mansion' I am naturally a little nervous now that Ed Milliband has adopted 'Baby Face' Clegg's idea of a Mansion Tax.  For a politician the attractions of such a tax are easy to see.  There are , apparently, some 70,000 houses in the UK worth over two million pounds (out of a total housing stock of some 15.0 million)  of these 70,000 houses some 70% of them are in London and - though no one has mentioned it- some 70% of those in London are owned by fat Arabs, greasy Frenchmen, or criminal Russian oligarchs  and -those Brits who do own houses in London worth over two million pounds - are almost exclusively bankers - and we all hate them anyway.  So actually - for a politician - it is a no brainer - very few votes -if any will be lost - while - at a tax rate of 1% on values it is estimated that £1.6 billion will be raised.

Unfortunately though - for politicians - things are not that simple. If you bung on a tax of 1% on the capital values of any home worth over £2.0 million then something is going to happen and that something is that homes worth £2.0 million or more are going to drop in value probably by around 20%. Why?  Because that's how economics works. Add on an annual cost to owning a property and the value will shrink -that is why -incidentally - house prices in  the USA look cheap to us in the UK  - the reason they are cheap is that property taxes are very high in the States and that is reflected in the price.

So the mansion tax will not raise anything like what Baby face and Ed Milliband think as something like 50% of the properties they hope to tax will immediately fall in value below the £2.0 million threshold.  Then - of course- in rural Britain someone will have to decide what is a mansion. That might sound silly until you think that most houses worth more than £2.0 million in the country come with land attached - take away the land and the house suddenly becomes worth much, much less. So a monster mansion like mine would be worth very little if I tried to sell it with two acres of garden.  Add in the fact that a lot of such properties are Grade 1 listed buildings and you immediately fire up the Heritage Lobby which - after the fluffy animal lobby- is probably the most feared by politicians.

So actually 'the Mansion Tax' is yet another example of 'sound bite' politics to which -sadly - all three party leaders are addicted.  Have a brain wave - try it on a 'focus group' - then make a speech and get acres of newsprint and TV coverage- later -of course -in the cold light of day - harsh realities come to the fore - but by then you are trapped by your sound bite.  that - of course -is how Cameron became entangled with Gay marriage - Overseas Aid - the Royal Succession - to name but three of his more asinine policies.

Monday, 11 February 2013

NHS - What's wrong

Anyone who knows anyone who has had an elderly relative in a NHS hospital knows that the horror stories from West Stafford Hospital are not unique to that establishment.

Thirty odd years ago nurses where revered by all people as being angels in uniform - they were beyond criticism.   How things have changed. Mention nurses now and you are likely to be inundated with stories
which reflect badly on them and their profession. So what's gone wrong?

When I spent a week in my local hospital one thing struck me. I never saw the same nurse twice. The only human 'continuity' on the ward was provided by a super lady who did the cleaning and wheeled a tea trolley round. Now I am sure it is -technically - a lot more 'efficient' to allocate nurses to different wards etc, but if you have no continuity how can you have any pride in your ward and -if you have no pride in your ward - then you will do -being a humane being - the minimum you need to get by.  That -presumably - is why -at West Stafford - no one is being blamed or punished for the appalling standard of care because -to put it simply - no nurse was around long enough for any blame to stick.

So the first reform is to allocate nurses to wards as part of a team under the control of a Matron who has real powers of discipline. That way standards would rise - nurses would be accountable  - and- hopefully - pride in their ward and job would rise.

The real villain though is surely the Royal College of Nursing who - over the last thirty years have presided over a profession which has fallen so far - and so fast -in the public esteem. One of the key reasons for this has to be their insistence that nursing was a 'profession' and not a 'calling' and that therefor nurses should all have university degrees.   So let's throw nursing open to anyone who wants to do it providing they pass the necessary test and abolish the degree qualification.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

An ABC for Baby Patriots 1899

No wonder literacy rates among children where higher in the 19th century than they are now. They had great books like this from which to learn their letters. Brilliantly illustrated it contains marvellous rhymes like this one for the letter K.

K is for Kings
once warlike and haughty
Great Britain subdued them
because they'd been naughty

Or what about C;

C is for colonies
rightly we boast
That of all the great nations
Great Britain has most

Sadly much of it is now out of date but not everything - Surely A is still -just - true;

A is the Army
that dies for the Queen
It's the very best army
That ever was seen

Though not perhaps for much longer as 'Our Dave ' persists in cutting it to the bone so he can continue to finance his ridiculous obsession with Overseas Aid

But there is one rhyme which is still as true today as it was in 1899. The letter Q.

Q is our queen !
It fills us with pride
to see the Queens coach
when the Queen is inside

Anyway if you have children starting to learn their letters go on the internet and get this book - It is great . Personally if I was Mr. Gove I think I would make it a set book in every Primary School in the land. Children would not only learn their letters but a bit of history as well and then they might ask how- in just over a century -a great country could piss such legacy down the drain. Well the answer is simple -one word-  Politicians.  

Monday, 21 January 2013

First World War anniversary celebrations

The anniversary of the start of the Great War is already being hijacked by the bleeding heart liberals who believe that 'there is nothing to celebrate' and 'that the dead of both sides must be commemorated together' and other such rubbish. 

Well I don't agree.  There is a lot to celebrate.  First and foremost is the superb performance of the British Army in stopping the Germans dead (literally) in their tracks.  By doing so they prevented the defeat of France which would have led to the domination of Europe by Germany.

If you want to find out just how good the British Army of 1914 was then don't read the sort of drivel put about by the likes of Sebastian Faulks but a book by a truly brilliant historian, Lyn Macdonald,  who dedicated most of the last forty years to first hunting down survivors and then, when they were no more, their letters and diaries and weaving the resulting information into a series of superb books on the Great War.  Here, to give you a taster, is an extract from her book 1914 and is the account  of sixteen year old Jimmy Naylor a trumpeter with the Royal Field Artillery who witnessed the British infantry in action.

"He was saying , At four hundred.......At five hundred .......at threee fifty.......at three hundred. the rifles blazed, but still the Germans came on.  they were getting nearer and nearer and for the first time I began to feel rather anxious anf frightened. they weren't and indeterminate mass any more - you could actually pick out details, see them as individual men, coming on, coming on.  And the officer, still as cool as anything, was saying , At two fifty ....At two hundred ......And then he said ,ten rounds rapid!  And the chaps opened up - And the Germans just fell down like logs . I've never seen anything like it, the discipline, the fire discipline of those troops, I've never forgotten that, I was so impressed. As a boy of sixteen I was simply astounded. I thought, 'What a marvellous army we are!' The attack was completely repulsed - probably not for long but it was long enough for us to get the guns away. It saved us. "    

If that does not make the hair stand up on the back of your neck and your heart burst with pride at being British then you probavly live in Notting Hill Gate or Chipping Norton (or both).   

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Business Leaders

In my own small way I suppose I am 'a member of the business community'  so I am oddly annoyed when I read in the paper that 'business leaders' want the government to do something, especially when virtually everything these self styled unelected 'business leaders want is the diametric opposite of what I want.  Why is this I wonder?  Well it could be because the average time horizon of most of these businessmen is a maximum of say three years while mine is, anyway when I plant an oak tree, two hundred years. You get my point I hope. So when these drips warn Cameron against doing anything which might jeopardise our relationship with Europe they don't have the long term interests of the country at heart but purely the next couple of years P&L account. Similarly of course when they complain about immigration controls they are worrying about the supply of cheap labour drying up not of the long term social costs which uncontrolled immigration brings.

In any event the track record of 'business leaders' is abysmal.  A trawl through the newspapers of the past would reveal the 'business leaders' have very little judgement about what is good for the country or indeed for business. Business leaders for instance were loud in their desire for us to join the euro.  Enough said, but it would be better for their businesses if these self important prats concentrated their efforts on running them rather than telling the Prime Minister how to run the country.