Saturday, 2 June 2007

Prescott guys and dolls - hat tip Holy Moly

"Admit it, we're all going to miss John Prescott. From punching mulletted farmers with a left jab to punching his secretary with his tiny penis, he's been a laugh and a wholly amusing liability.

Visitors to his House of Commons office were pointed towards one of those old Russian-style dolls on the shelf which unscrew to reveal smaller dolls inside. The outer doll was a representation of ex-Labour leader John Smith, which housed a smaller Margaret Beckett.

Next in line was the fat, misshapen form of Prescott himself. On revealing his doppelganger, he would invariably cry:

"And that's the only time I'LL ever be inside Margaret Beckett!"

The cruise ship gig awaits."

Heehehe. Thanks to the lads at Holy Moly for that.

Friday, 1 June 2007

The joys of outwitting Nanny part II

If you've ever been on board a classic old wooden boat you will have smelled the wondrous aroma of Stockholm Tar. Made from Pine Oil, it's been used for centuries to coat wood and natural fibre cables and lines to waterproof them. I shalln't say it's a bit like creosote, because when someone said this the EU promptly moved to ban it. From September of last year, the sale of Stockholm Tar in the EU was made illegal. Except for the treatment of horse's hoofs, for which there is no substitute.

Now, the EU realised after making the law that Stockholm Tar wasn't at all like creosote, wasn't harmful and should not have been banned. But it was too late. Like Papal infallibility, the EU can't be seen to have been wrong. So the ban remains.

Yet it is still on sale in ships' chandleries across the land. The retailer is supposed to ensure it will be used for the treatment of equine hoofs and nothing else. So old salts pitching up in sowesters and sea-boots have learned to growl "A gallon of Stockholm Tar, please, dear. For my horse's hoofs."

The retailer pretends to believe them and the law is satisfied.
The joys of outwitting Nanny

Having been brought up by a normal pair of parents, I never underwent the Nanny experience in childhood. I always imagine Nanny as being well meaning in a rather dim-witted sort of way; not really worth a confrontation over some minor lunacy, one just gets on with things in a way that Nanny doesn't notice.

In the country we used to use a product called Cymag to control rats. It was, in fact, exactly the same as Zyklon B - cyanide powder that gave off cyanide gas when wet. It came in tins that could be bought off the shelf from the local farmer's store complete with a syringe full of adrenaline in case you got an accidental lungful of the stuff yourself. It was tremendously effective in killing rats and I never heard of a single human death over decades of use. It was banned, of course, from sale some years ago in the EU on safety grounds because it was, er, safe and effective, presumably. Or rather because some unusually imaginative Eurocrat had dreamt up a scenario in which young Gunter or Isolde steals the keys to the chemicals shed, climbs a ladder to the top shelf, takes the tin marked with skulls and crossbones and 'poison!' warnings, opens it and eats the contents with an EU-approved spoon. Anyway, I'm glad to report that a Suffolk farmer friend is importing eastern European cyanide and the rats of Anglia are again facing the final solution. The joy is that he is breaking not criminal law but EU law - if he is caught, the British government gets fined.

I've been busy over the last couple of days getting Raedwald's engine out for a re-bore and other stuff. The engine bay and bilges are in sad need of a heavy-duty degreasing. And I mean industrial. The problem is, there isn't a single product left for sale in the EU that is any more effective than using washing-up liquid. All banned on safety grounds. The Americans, thank God, are more grown-up about these things. I found a 'gray market' importer of an American industrial degreaser of astounding strength and ordered a (US) gallon. "There's no safety data sheet" the guy warned "Splendid!" I replied. "And after 1st June I'd have to melt rabbits in it before I could sell it" he continued, "New EU testing law thingy". Reader, I am an adult and am quite aware that this stuff will strip the flesh from my hand faster than a Pirhana if I soak my cuticles for more than a few seconds. I shall therefore take whatever precautions are necessary to keep my typing fingers intact, and spare the lives of innocent bunnies.

The Telegraph warns today that throwing your dog-end on the street will earn you a fine from one of the army of jobsworths that now patrol our towns in lieu of policemen. I've always thought dropping my dog-ends on the pavement was rather vulgar anyway, and for years have carefully dropped them down gully gratings in the road channel. I have checked the appropriate sections of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act (s.18(1) to s.18(3) if anyone is interested) and find that as the drain is not a place open for access to the public, I can quite happily continue to do this. Would that the chewers of gum do the same.

Robert Graves wrote:

Gone are the drab monosyllabic days
When "agricultural labour" still was tilth.
And "100 % approbation", praise;
And "pornographic modernism", filth -
Yet still I stand by tilth and filth and praise.

As the paper also reports today that the RSPB has banned the word 'cock' from its website, I wonder how long it will be before some minimally cerebrally equipped primary school head removes all trace of the children's rhyme 'Who killed Cock Robin?' from the school's shelves. Or references to stopcocks are replaced by shut-off valves. Sigh. I must remember to correct my host at the end of next year's rough shooting season when he counsels us "we're only shooting cocks this weekend".

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Gordon's take on comments

I've just had a quick look at the Dour One's 'Gordon Brown for Britain' site. There's a 'blog' section on which Oona King gushes unlyrically about the weird fella's achievements. Now, someone has must have explained to Gordon that it's important that there's a facility for visitors to comment. So there is. But to ensure that no-one makes the mistake of thinking the actual comments are important enough to be worth reading, they are rendered in a sort of unreadable vomit green in a small font. I think this pretty well sums up Brown's position on openness.
Labour just doesn't get 'Britishness'

A revival is made today in the Telegraph of the story on the Dour One's wish to see the introduction of a 'British Day' and flagpoles flying the national flag in every garden. Oh Lord. The socialists really just don't 'get' Britishness, do they?

Here are five pointers for the Lord Protector:

1. The flag doesn't have the same iconic status to us as 'old glory' has to Americans. We like to see it flying from public and government buildings, and most boaters happily wear the red duster, but flying one at home is, well, a bit un-British. One online flag retailer carries this warning for a union flag; "Warning: This flag is not suitable for burning as it scatters globules of molten burning plastic when alight. If you MUST burn a union flag, we suggest you purchase our printed cotton budget flag ..". Now that's British.

2. We are not a homogenous nation. The Welsh will always describe themselves as Welsh and the Scots as Scottish. If it is Broon's intention to try to prevent the emergence of a coherent English identity, a 'British Day' will have entirely the opposite effect; we have a healthy national antipathy to anything emerging from Whitehall, and a 'British Day' will undoubtedly be seen as a Scots attempt to downgrade St George's Day, which will then be celebrated more fervently than ever before. 'British Day' will be ignored.

3. If Broon is determined to go ahead with this, can I suggest 9th May as a suitable day? We already completely ignore this day as 'Europe Day' and it would make sense to ignore both on the same day, so that we can get on with things. There is nothing , really nothing, more absurd than the following pronouncement from the EU;

"Today, the 9th of May has become a European symbol (Europe Day) which, along with the flag, the anthem, the motto and the single currency (the euro), identifies the political entity of the European Union. Europe Day is the occasion for activities and festivities that bring Europe closer to its citizens and peoples of the Union closer to one another."

4. Thanks to a generation of teachers of an appalling level of personal ignorance in our schools, we have largely misremembered the reason for our festivities on 5th November. Instead of celebrating the safe delivery of our MPs from assassination, the nation now prefers to celebrate Guy Fawkes himself as a kind of folk hero in the Robin Hood mould who got full marks for trying to blow up Parliament, and failed heroically in a thoroughly British way. I like this particular version of historical revisionism, and therefore propose Guy Fawkes Day as our national day of festivities.

5. Finally, and on a more serious note, we already have a 'British Day' that is imprinted deeply in the national psyche; 11th November. Not a day for inane, prattling and artificial 'festivities' as Brown would no doubt wish, but a day of most solemn commemoration of the blood sacrifice of the men from every corner of these islands.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Shameless

On the day when it is reported that Japanese minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka has killed himself after having been exposed for claiming parliamentary expenses for an office that was in fact rent-free, our own Derek Conway MP continues to bluff it out. Conway has been exposed for claiming for his son as an 'assistant' on expenses. Last year he claimed £4,072 for car mileage between Westminster and his Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency in south-east London. The expense would have covered about 1,000 trips. Given that parliament sits for about 200 days a year, that's five trips a day. Liar. Cheat. Thief.

Conway is not alone. Scrutiny of most MP's expenses reveals that theft of public funds is widespread. How on earth can we convincingly prosecute benefit cheats in the courts when our legislators continue to escape criminal charges for theft of the same sorts of sums?
Alcoholic drinks to carry health warnings from next year

The Daily Record carries this story today:
TWO drunken Scotswomen were kicked off a flight from Spain yesterday after attacking an air steward. The pair were part of a group of 11 returning from a hen weekend in Majorca to Glasgow on an easyJet flight. Trouble flared when one of the party was told she was too drunk to fly. Her friend then launched a vicious attack on the male steward, leaving him needing hospital treatment. The pair, who have not been named, were hauled off the flight and quizzed by Spanish police at Palma airport. And they will now have to make their own way back to Scotland from the holiday destination.

Last night, one passenger said: "This group of women were drunk and completely out of order. They should never have been let on the plane".
"Hell Bonnie, ma heid hurts. D'ya think they'd give us an Irn Bru?"
"Och Fiona, if only those bottles of Bailey's had a health warning on them advising us of our safe drinking limits; we'd never have ended up in a Spanish nick."
"Ach weel. They'll let us out soon enough. Good job we're pregnant, eh?"

Sunday, 27 May 2007

'Sorry, the historic Falklands aircraft are, er, still in service'

Chinook helicopter ZA718, otherwise known as Bravo November, the sole aircraft to make it off the Atlantic Conveyor and a stalwart of the Falklands campaign twenty-five years ago, will be unable to take part in the commemorative fly-past in June to mark the end of the campaign.

She is currently in service in Afghanistan and can't be spared.

True.

When would you have said 'It's time to leave'?

The Times reports today that one of Blair and Reid's last acts will be to introduce 'wartime' stop and question powers for the police. This is being presented as a further safeguard against terrorism, but of course the police are not well known for their sense of discrimination in the use of 'anti terrorist' powers, unless you include an elderly holocaust survivor roughed up by Blair thugs, or a woman reading the names of the Iraq war dead, as terrorists. The police will of course use the new power to stop and question anyone on a trawl basis; I'll bet motorists will form a large proportion of those interrogated under this provision.

Blair also accuses those such as me who put civil freedoms before the fear of terrorism of making a 'dangerous misjudgment'. Ah yes. This is the same Blair whose judgment over every single critical security issue over the past ten years has been fatally flawed. Well, Mr Blair, some of us are not driven by your particular brand of naive narcissism, are not as dangerously self-deluded as are you, and appreciate that the value of civil freedom has a price that includes the risk of being murdered by terrorists.

The Observer reports that the police also want to extend the taking of DNA samples to everyone convicted of non-recordable offences - everything from dropping litter, dog fouling, speeding or not having a TV licence. One peer is even proposing that all DNA samples taken from new-born babies are added to the national database.

Perhaps we should all also turn up to have our skulls measured and answer long questions about our racial origins.

2007 also marks the 70th anniversary of the opening of Buchenwald. Today the name symbolises the horror of totalitarianism, but at the time Germany was told that the nation was menaced by Communist and Bolshevik terrorists, and it was necessary for national security to lock a number of people up under 'preventive detention'. No doubt politicians in Germany in 1937 accused those who opposed such measures of making a 'dangerous misjudgment'. And the building looked quite benign - how bad could it be? Amongst the German middle classes looking at press photos of the facade of Buchenwald, some will have commented "It's like a holiday camp. Too good for those criminal elements."

And one final snippet. A low-key police organisation was quietly set up last year; the Fixated Threat Assessment Centre. In German the words would all be joined together. This unit already has powers to order the indefinite detention of those it considers mentally unstable and potentially dangerous. Without needing the evidence required for a criminal conviction.

So when would you have decided to leave Germany? 1934? 1937?
Or would you have stayed?