Friday, 5 June 2015

Ελλάς and Россия

Or Greece and Russia, if you like.
  • Both have funny alphabets
  • Both have Orthodoxy as the main faith
  • Both like a tipple
  • Neither society is far removed from peasant structures
  • Both have more glorious pasts than presents
  • Neither is very wealthy
  • Both are quite, erm, resistant to baking gay cakes
  • The load-carrying capacity over rough ground of a greek grandmother and russian nanny is about equivalent at 200kg
  • Both peoples are a bit weird and scary when drunk
So of course Greece is turning to Putin for help; red blooded Greeks have more in common with Russians than with the effete quiche-nibblers of the Berlaymont.
(NB Meltemian please don't jump down my throat ...)

EU Referendum Dream Team

For the teams to lead the 'In' and 'Out' sides in the forthcoming referendum all barriers are down and anything is possible. Friends of Blair have let it be known that Bloody Blair himself stands ready to lead the 'In' campaign. I would urge all readers of this blog to support him in this. It may be just another ploy to delay Chilcot even further, to save him from indictment and criminal charge, but it is just as likely to be the product of Blair's overweening and utterly deluded ego telling him that he's the perfect man for the job. Bruce Anderson writes in the Speccie 
"Mr Blair has wasted eight years pretending to solve the problems of the Middle East. He has also wasted millions of pounds, and achieved nothing. He has exposed his own total ignorance of history and his megalomaniac overestimation of his own powers. Throughout this time, he also earned large sums on the American lecture circuit, speaking to rich audiences so naive as to believe he is someone worth listening to. Rarely has shallowness been so profitable."
The 'Out' campaign needs Boris. With a unique credibility and popularity, the blond buffoon would be perfect, slapping down upstart Euphile officials in fluent Latin. That's the two captains sorted. 

'In' Campaign - Led by Tony Blair with Alex Salmond as Deputy

'Out' Campaign - Led by Boris Johnson with Penny Mordant as Deputy

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Urban beekeeping and Nudist craft beer

It is something of a surprise that some of the country's top rated honey comes from London. Apparently our flower-rich gardens and extensive parks and green spaces make the city a sort of bee-heaven, assisted by the eagerness with which London's fashionistas have adopted this season's must-have; a beehive on their Notting Hill roof terrace. You can probably buy them at the Conran shop, or at a boutique bee dealers in South Molton Street, hand crafted in Norwegian Fir from sustainable sources for £1,500 a pop. The problem has been that as with the fashionistas' vinegar mothers (died) sourdough yeast colonies (died) and balcony herb gardens (died), bees need maintenance. What their owners actually want is a hive with a tap on the side to drain off the honey on demand, but it doesn't quite work like this. And the lack of maintenance has led to widespread swarming this year as new colonies with their young queens emerge from Notting Hill in search of new homes. This is placing additional demands on London's established allotment and park beekeepers to collect and re-house the Luvvie swarms. Hey ho. 

And news reaches me of a Jazz and Real Ale Festival (I had to be careful typing that) at London's main nudist colony, or naturist foundation as they prefer to be called. Details HERE. They don't mention bees, and I'd imagine that nude beekeeping is a step too far even for the South-east. Clothed persons can drink ale and listen to the jazz unless they also want a sauna.   

Apols for the lack of anti-politics polemic; either the silly season has arrived early or I'm losing heart.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Lions will be Lions

'Did Albert deserve to be eaten by the lion?' was once, I recall, a question discussed as moral theology. You may remember;
Now Albert had heard about Lions,
How they was ferocious and wild-
To see Wallace lying so peaceful,
Well, it didn’t seem right to the child.
So straightaway the brave little feller,
Not showing a morsel of fear,
Took his stick with it’s’orse’s ‘ead ‘andle
...And pushed it in Wallace’s ear.
You could see that the Lion didn’t like it,
For giving a kind of a roll,
He pulled Albert inside the cage with ‘im,
And swallowed the little lad ‘ole.
Whilst my sympathies are with the friends and family of the late Miss Katherine Chappell, 29, recently of Rye, New York, her case of death by lion must surely pose fewer difficult questions than Albert's demise. 

Miss Chappell had apparently ignored all warnings to keep the car windows closed and continued to photograph the lion that ate her to within just a few feet. In Albert's case, there were no actual warnings not to poke the lion with a stick and he enjoyed the illusion of safety because the lions cage bars were spaced to prevent lions exiting rather than boys entering. 
The Mother said, “Right’s right, young feller;
I think it’s a shame and a sin,
For a lion to go and eat Albert,
And after we’ve paid to come in.”
Whilst the lions in both cases should of course have been more considerate to paying customers, no matter how foolish, we must realise that lions will always be lions.  

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Outsourcing to Crapita doesn't make savings

Aditya Chakraborrty in the Grauniad has rather missed the point about outsourcing. Primarily because the poor fellow labours under the delusion that privatised services are free and only Council binmen cost money, thus he is outraged when Barnet's outsourced revenue services don't produce revenue savings. No dear, they won't. Crapita, G4S and their stable mates are experts at wringing profits out of public service contracts, whether from money-tree PPI or cost-squeezing simple outsourcing. They're contract experts and make their margins on all the additional charges having won the work on low bids for fixed-price core work. But if Barnet is doing things right, Crapita is only an intermediate stage.

One of the biggest costs to downsizing in local government are pension and redundancy costs associated with shedding staff with generous and protective T&Cs of employment. So Stage One is to transfer this risk out of the council. Risk in a contract should always be placed with the party best able to deal with it - and that generally means the Crapitas of this world. The second stage is to reduce contracts and contract scope until residual services are too small to be commercially viable when, unless they are statutory, they can be undertaken by the third sector and local volunteers to much public advantage.

The great exception of course are what are termed Childrens' Services - the armies of social workers who spend 75% of their time covering eachothers' backs in the event a child is abused on their patch. Until we find a solution to this, they will eat every pound of savings made elsewhere in councils.

NB - 
====
News of Charles Kennedy's death came in whilst I was writing. Shocking at age 55, it is perhaps not quite as shocking if his appearance on QT prior to the election was a clue. If losing his seat and watching his party nosedive drove him even deeper into the bottle in the last four weeks then death was just a matter of time. I love alcohol, but then I've always been the master and never its servant.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Is there any point to Labour any more?

It was with a degree of pleasure and Schadenfreude that I listened to the bitter four minute rant by Mark Steel and Jeremy Hardy on R4's News Quiz about a week ago; try for yourself HERE starting at about 7:40 in. Then we had John Prescott on 'Today' on the 25th rubbishing Labour's ideas of 'aspiration' like an old dinosaur. It's finally dawning on them that Labour got a good kicking from British voters, and they've now moved to debating it. 

The debate falls into two camps. The first asks 'what do we need to say to people to get power?' and implies that any mix of lies, policy and promises is needed just so long as it succeeds in tearing power from the Tories. The second asks 'What do we stand for in 2015?' and this is by far the hardest question for Labour to answer. A party advocating involuntary redistribution, advocating a Socialist central State, advocating enforced equality of outcome, is wayyy out of tune with British voters. 

And the audible anger and frustration of idealogues such as Steel and Hardy at electors for not sharing their utopian vision is also a good reason why people don't choose Labour any more; who the hell wants to be preached at by these two morally righteous prigs? Soon their time will come even on R4 and they will be swept away like the 'Buzzcocks'.  

So Long, Labour; it was nice knowing you.