Sunday, February 27, 2011

Royal Family or President?

In recent years I have been convinced that the Royal Family is an anchronism, with no place for a monarch in the twenty-first century. In recent months I've been similarly wondering about republics. I've also been considering how dry and functional modern life is becoming with work and money being the be all and end all, inevitable I suppose as Labour dragged us into the new puritan era. No room for fripperies, pure functionality is the order of the day.

Then today I read that the campaign against the Alternative Vote are launching a campaign using 'President Clegg' to scare people from voting yes in May. That really has scared me. Not against voting for AV, which I intend to do but remain open to persuasion, but at the prospect of Clegg one day becoming President of the British Republic. The only prospect more frightening is President Blair.

Wherever I look in the world presidents seem to be particularly grey and bureaucratic, or mad. The prospect of Sarah Palin becoming President of the USA is particularly scary. So maybe a constitutonal monarchy is the best option. They have little power but add a splash of colour in an otherwise grey and arid landscape and yes, they provide a link to our great history. And I do agree with dedicated monarchists, and always have, that in the scheme of things they cost very little.

So if I'm asked whether I would prefer Queen Elizabeth II or Tony Blair as head of state, I have no hesitation in answering. I suppose that makes me a monarchist again!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Libya and British Expats

Two psychopaths take to the dance floor.
One thing that has seriously angered me this week are the expats coming back from Libya and whining and whinging about what the government did do or didn't to help them.  They should be grateful the government did anything at all to help them under the circumstances.

I don't blame anybody for working abroad, especially in the last few years when we had to suffer Blair and Brown, and the Coalition aren't much better. But at least the current Prime Minister knows he's a prat and has the decency to keep apologising for it.

But we've all known for years that Libya is a shithole, run by a psycopathic madman. If you are lured there by the filthy lucre then I'm afraid you take your chances. Those expats chose to go and work for a regime that was responsible for arming the IRA for a couple of decades, was behind the Lockerbie bombing and still hides the murderer of WPC Yvonne Fletcher. What Gaddafi has done to his own population over the last few decades is anybody's guess.

So don't come home whinging when British Foreign Office staff and our armed forces, yet again, put themselves in the firing line to bail you out, paid for yet again from our taxes. I don't have a problem with the government helping UK nationals out of a hellhole like that, but every one of them who whinges should be walloped with a bill for the cost.

But there again, you look at the behaviour of successive UK governments towards Libya, and they have been no better than the whinging expats.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shock, Horror-Nick Clegg Is Right!

For the first time I've actually agreed with Nick Clegg on something. I'm in a state of shock.

He has accused Manchester City Council of being a 'slash and burn' council for making political cuts that illustrate why Manchester City Council cares nothing for the people of Manchester, and is only interested in scoring cheap political points.

They waste millions on absurd salaries for useless bureaucrats and pathetic politically correct schemes, but threaten to cut libraries and swimming pools.

But enough idiots will vote Labour in May to ensure that Labour continue on their wrecking spree. You get what you deserve Mancunians I'm afraid, and we call Scousers thick.

Full story.


I've just found these on YouTube and had to pop them on here. One of the best concerts I've been to James:

I feel better for that.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Islamic Extremism in the Middle East

As events unfolded in Tunisia, then Egypt I couldn't get as excited as many people in this country and elsewhere. Only those who have little life experience, or little awareness of history, could become excited as though there would be revolution on Monday, elections on Tuesday and good old fashioned democracy established on Wednesday. I was astounded at the naivety of the media and so many other people in this country.

It is arrogant of people in the west to assume that people elsewhere in the world are all desperate for our style of democracy. They are obviously not. What the demonstrators want in the Middle East is a whole range of things, as diverse a range of hopes and needs as millions of people in any part of the world.

But if we choose to ignore the danger of militant Islam taking an even tighter grip in the Middle East then we are stupid beyond belief. What did these people think the demonstrators holding images of Mubarak with the Star of David imposed on his face were trying to say?

Here is the report of the murder of a Catholic priest in Tunisia amid a rise in Islamist violence since the revolution there.

Here is an article from the Daily Telegraph by Anne Applebaum about the attack in Cairo on Laura Logan and the biased reporting of recent events in Cairo.

I'm amazed at the naivety and downright stupidity of people in this country who were so excited at events in the Middle East. I fear what may happen there, and its impact on the rest of the world in the next few years.

We can only hope.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Putting Down a Politically Correct Heckler

The modern day PC obsession with race is one thing that really bugs me. If the PC crowd kept their traps shut the BNP would get virtually no publicity, the only time they are in the news is when a PC loony gets all angry about them. Left alone, by both sides, 99% of us would get on perfectly well together.

I watched FC United on Saturday and they had People United Day. Another PC jamboree with kids coming out before the game with home made anti-racism placards. They seemed to miss the irony in the fact that all the black kids were grouped together, all the Asian kids together and so on. Why harp on about a problem where one doesn't exist, I have never witnessed racism at an FC United game. It patronises us all and I would be equally angry if I kept getting lectured about not beating my wife, or not kicking dogs in the street. I'm not racist, not a wife beater nor am I a dog kicker, so lecture people who are, not me.

So I really enjoyed the following video on YouTube where a politically correct, race obsessive gets her comeuppance from a comedian wrongly accused of racism by the loony PC heckler:

Did you get the fact that the heckler was part of the act, it was actually rigged to prove a point?

Well I liked it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Referendum on the Voting System-May 5th

We will be having a referendum on May 5th on the way we elect our MPs.

I have posted before here about the Alternative Vote system and there is lots of information, both for and against it on the internet.

Please take a minute to vote in this poll (side bar below welcome) on the changing the voting sytem.


To me some of the most arrogant people on the planet are the green/environmentalists. They are convinced that man is so poweful that we have it within our power to destroy or save the planet. The reality is that we are much more likely to be destroyed by the planet than the other way around.

So I wasn't surprised to read this article by James Delingpole about how the eco-fascists have destroyed the careers of Johnny Ball and David Bellamy.

They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions. I tend to believe that there are people who are just driven by hatred of other people. Not all environmentalists are like that, but certainly those who can treat other human beings the way Ball and Bellamy are being treated seem to be driven by a hatred of their fellow man, and the environment is their chosen weapon of assault.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Burglars Ain't What They Used To Be

I had to giggle while having lunch when I read about iron bar wielding burglar Lewis Patterson being shot by his victim Gary Holmes. Sadly it was only an air rifle, but the prat reported the incident to the police. Thankfully the homeowner is not facing any charges as a licence is not needed for an air rifle.

In the olden days such a miscreant would have got out of there pretty damn quickly, hidden away under his stone to lick his wounds and restore some self-respect. He certainly wouldn't want to draw attention to himself and his obvious inadequacies.

I suppose in these ludicrously politically correct times the burglar had words such as 'compensation' running through his tiny mind. But no, the scum is now spending eighteen months in chokey. Good riddance.

I look forward to hearing that Gary Holmes is to be awarded a gallantry medal.

Full story here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Fall-Rebellious Jukebox

I've had a terribly frustrating morning and wish that computers had never been invented.

On top of that I'm on a diet and have only had two rounds of toasted floaty bread for breakfast with black coffee. For lunch I had a tin of soup with a round of floaty bready and for tea it will be a pork chop with mash and beans.

So I've been listening to some comfort music and thought I would share it:

It may be the very strong black coffees that did it!

If you're wondering what floaty bread is here's the explanation.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The NHS, the Elderly and Blue Badges

Two issues have hit the news this week; how badly treated the elderly are in the NHS, and the abuse of blue badges for disabled people. Both anger me and that anger comes from personal experience.

Around five years ago my mother-in-law was taken into hospital suffering frm the norovirus. When I visited I was struck by the ovepowering smell of rotten cabbage in the ward and the corridors. I was also struck by the dress of the staff, I couldn't differentiate between porters, nurses and other staff, they all wore the same type of outfits, pretty scruffy in my opinion.

After she had been in a few days she fell. They x-rayed her and checked her out, just bruising apparently, in itself pretty bad for a woman in her eighties but these things happen.

But when we visited we found out that she had fallen because she had previously rung the bell for assistance to the loo but nobody came, despite ringing for many minutes. She had a 'mishap' in the bed. For this she got such a fierce telling off when staff finally appeared that she was terrified of it happening again. The next day the same thing happened. Rather than risk a bollocking from the nurses she tried to get to the loo herself and fell.

A few days after she had fallen I visited her and thought she was on her way out. She was in obvious pain, kept drifting off and had lost a huge amount of weight. The next day the doctor took my wife into a side room, obviously prompting fear of what news he was about to break. The news was that four days after her fall, and after much complaining by my wife that her mother was seriously ill and nothing was being done, they had loooked at her x-rays again. She had spent those four days with a broken hip that they had missed when they checked her x-rays first time.

They operated the next day but she can now no longer walk other than a few faltering steps. The only time she can leave the house is when my wife visits and puts her in a wheelchair to take her out. This is where big retail parks are a boon, my wife can park her car, put her mum back in the wheelchair and take her around the shops. Sometimes we take her mum and dad for a meal or a bit of an outing to the nearby park.

Around the same time a friend of mine was visiting an elderly relative in hospital. She was so ill that she couldn't pick up her knife and fork. After meals they took away her untouched food and wrote in her notes that she had refused food. She died and my friend, concerened at the poor treatment she had received, tried to get to see her notes. But they had been lost. They were treated in different hospitals, many miles apart.

When my mother-in-law is taken out car parks are used that have disabled bays. Thankfully many do not require the blue disabled badge, which she doesn't have. But we have become ever more aware of the shambles that is the current blue badge scheme. Not only are people obtaining them fraudulently but they are given out to people, who may be registered disabled, but really do not need a blue badge.

I know somebody who has a neck problem. I have no doubt it is uncomfortable but I didn't even know of it until I saw her parking in a disabled bay. She has an excellent job, so can afford to pay in a car park, and certainly has no mobility problem that means she can't walk any distance. Indeed I wonder whether her neck problem, severe enough to be registered disabled, could so restrict mobility that she is actually a danger on the road.

It seems to me that the system is currently so lax that a blue badge is almost a right if people have a disability, whether it is needed or not, and all disabilities do not warrant a blue badge. They are abused by people who get them merely so that they can avoid parking fees or so that they can park on yellow lines and in more convenient parking bays.

It has been proposed in London that only wheelchair users be issued with blue badges. And why not? Next time you see somebody parking on yellow lines outside the shopping centre, and there is no evident disability, just follow them for a while. It's extremely galling when they spend an hour trotting in and out of shops, up and down stairs but claim to be unable to park in the car park because they can't walk from the car to the shops. That was my experience with the friend I mentioned above.

It's about time we faced a few home truths and I hope that this government does something to address the obvious failings within the NHS and the blue badge system. We really must accept the truth and stop the politically correct delusion that all is rosy in the NHS garden.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The EU Gravy Train

The only MEP who seems to be actually working to make MEPs a thing of the past is my mate Nikki Sinclaire. OK she supports Liverpool, but let's not be churlish about that. This time she has been working with the News of the World to expose the corrupton of her fellow MEPs. Last week she had her EU Referendum Petition Battlewagon in Westminster.

Keep up the good work Nikki. Here is the latest expose of corruption in Brussels from the News of the World:
Tory and Labour MEPs in sneaky new exes ploy
By Guy Basnett and David Coverdale
February 13, 2011
SNEAKY British MEPs are claiming cash for a day's work in Brussels before scuttling to the Eurostar minutes later and travelling HOME.

We caught Tory Robert Sturdy and Labour's Peter Skinner turning up at the Euro parliament at the crack of dawn to punch their card to grab £258 daily expenses.

The allowance from struggling taxpayers is supposed to cover the cost of them attending official business in Brussels.

But our investigation found these grasping Euro MPs didn't stick around.

Instead they jumped into a plush official car, with their suitcases in tow, and arrived at the Eurostar terminal less than 45 MINUTES later before heading back to Blighty.

And they're not alone. Hordes of foreign MEPs are at it too.

This will outrage hard-working Brits who hand over £8.5BILLION a year to Europe - £137 per person - to pay for these pampered politicians. And it will be a huge embarrassment for Prime Minister David Cameron who in 2008 stepped in to clean up his party's expenses system in Brussels.

He said at the time: "Just as I expect our MPs to adhere to the highest standards, so must MEPs. The taxpaying public have a right to know how their money is being spent and politicians have a duty to ensure it is spent properly."

Disgusted West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire agreed to expose her fellow Euro politicians - who earn £80,955 a year NOT including expenses.

Working with her, we filmed on Fridays in the parliament buildings of Brussels in Belgium and Strasbourg, France. We found members from all over Europe exploiting the signing-in system.

Greedy MEPs were QUEUEING outside the Attendance Office even before it opened at 7am.

Of the 160 Euro MPs we filmed signing in before 10am, more than a third - 54 - arrived with overnight bags and suitcases. At least 25 left parliament shortly after.

Of these, we caught nine arriving at the airport shortly after, ready to fly home, as well as our Brits on Eurostar.

Ms Sinclaire, who runs campaigns from her website, said: "It's a disgrace. On a Friday, when parliament is virtually closed, MEPs still sign in for their £258 and then head straight for the exit doors.

"Many people don't earn £258 a week, but some MEPs claim it for a day when they're in for barely an hour. Taxpayers should know how their cash is being spent."

In Brussels, East of England Euro MP Mr Sturdy, 66, signed for his daily expenses at just 7:18am. And balding South East MEP Mr Skinner, 51, was close behind his pal, signing in at 7.40am.

The pair arrived at Brussels Midi station together at 8.04am, jumping out of a chauffeur-driven people carrier in good time for the 8.29am Eurostar. Two hours later we caught them at London's St Pancras station.

The Brits were caught on camera two days ago, but on other days of filming we found a string of MEPs turning up early to claim their cash in Brussels.

It was still barely light on January 28 when Polish Euro MP Jolanta Hibner, 60, wheeled her suitcase into parliament to sign in at 7.58am. We pictured her at Brussels Airport just 22 minutes later, ready to fly home.

Another Polish MEP, Adam Gierek, 72, signed in at 8.01am with a colleague. We captured him stepping out of a chauffeur-driven car at the airport at 10:51am. Then Portuguese Euro MP Ilda Figueiredo 62, signed the register at 8:20am before being spotted at departures at 10:04am.

And Spanish MEP, purple-haired Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, 35, wheeled her suitcase to the Attendance Office at 9:56am, before being seen at the airport at 10:20am.

In Strasbourg, despite screens showing no official business on January 21, dozens of MEPs claimed expenses in the early hours.

We caught Polish Euro MP Danuta Jazlowiecka, 53, signing in at 9.21am, wheeling a suitcase. Then, at 9:42am - just 21 minutes later - she arrived at Strasbourg airport.

There are only 134 days of official parliamentary business - which does NOT include Fridays - in a year, worth £34,538 in daily allowances. By also signing in on the 37 Fridays, each MEP can trouser £9,537 extra.

Mr Sturdy said he worked late on Thursday night and that a power failure at King's Cross would have made getting home difficult. He added: "I'm signing in because I'm doing my job. As vice chair of international trade I have a lot on at the moment." He admitted he "often" signed in on Fridays.

Mr Skinner said: "It is often the case I will work six days on the trot, some of which will be spent in the constituency. My first duty is to represent people across the South-East which is sometimes best done face-to-face"

But EU rules state the allowance which they claimed is supposed to cover expenses like accommodation and meals incurred by attending official meetings away from their home country on the day signed for.

Ms Jazlowiecka's aide told us: "It is not breaking rules to sign in and leave." And Ms Figueiredo's spokesman said it was up to parliament to determine what she could claim.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Vegan Football Fascist

Proper food!
Just when you think the football world couldn't get any more stupid up pops Dale Vince, proving once again that football clubs are just rich mens' playthings, stuff the fans.

Fans of Forest Green Rovers are no longer allowed to eat red meat, such as burgers and sausages at games because the owner of the club has an eating disorder, he is a vegan. What a pillock! OK, he's the owner, so he has every right to do that. But as a supporter of non-legue football he has just ensured that I never step foot inside that particularly poxy football ground.

Most games I attend I don't actually eat anything, I can go a couple of hours without having to chomp. But I do get pissed off with these people forcing their lifestyle choices on others. If you eat meat but go to a vegetarian friend's for a meal do you get meat? No you don't. When said friend comes to you for a meal do you serve them meat? No you don't.

A few weeks ago the pillock banned his players from eating meat. They are currently lying 18th in the Football Conference.

I'm really going to enjoy my seek kebabs and tandoori chicken tonight.

Full Story.

Well Done Coalition-It's A Start

I've attacked successive governments over the years, especially on the creeping police state that has turned the citizens of the UK into the most spied upon and watched in the world. But credit where it's due, the current coalition government has taken a smallish step in the right direction with the Freedom Bill.

I've blogged before about some of the most pernicious elements of Labour's police state here and here and yes, I would like it to go further and hope it continues, but for now, credit where it's due.

It's easy to be idealistic and criticise because things don't go far enough, and I'm often guilty of that myself. But there is the idealogical world and there is the real world. Ideology informs the politicians who have to adapt it for general consumption. To be too dogmatic about your beliefs only ensures that they never see the light of day. It might give the idealogue a nice warm, self-righteous glow, but achieves absolutely nothing. So I'm glad that the government has done something positive, and am pleased to say so.

Telegraph Online Report.

Egypt, The Middle East and Mealy Mouthed Liberals

The World's Greatest Democracies!
I only saw a few minutes of BBC Question Time last night thankfully. As usual it seemed to be Dimbleby allowing the liberal left panellists to talk crap, and then shout down anybody talking sense, such as Douglas Murray.

Last night the most guilty ideoligical nutter was Mehdi Hasan of, no surprises  here, the New Statesman. This character has such deep seated loathing for this country, and the West in general, I wonder why he doesn't just pick another country and get the hell out of here. If I loathed this country as much as he does I'd certainly be elswhere now.

Then there was the old dinosaur of social demoracy Menzies Campbell. For a total failure and utter nonentity to be regarded as the grand old man of the Liberal Democrats really says all you need to know about the junior coalition partners currently governing this country. No wonder he pronounces his name Ming. No, not the Chinese dynasty, although he is very old. I would add an "er" on the end actually.

Let's get Minger out of the way first. Talking about Islamic extremists he obviously had to make excuses for it by likening it to homegrown terrorists. So he set off on one of his rambling, patronsing spiels about what we experienced as a result of homegrown terrorists. Here we go, I thought, trundle out the IRA for a bit of moral equivalence with the Muslim nutters. But no, he stumped us all by declaring these terrorists to be waving Union Flags. Jackpot, Minger was talking about Loyalists in Ulster, not the IRA at all. Proof that the old fool really is going senile.

Now for Hasan the patronising, hateful, Western hating journalist from the New Statesman. Yes, I feel very strongly about idiots like this. He attacked this country for being patronising, pot and kettle that one, and being arrogant in thinking that Egypt and the Middle East are incapable of democracy. Apparently, according to Hasan this is obviously not the case. Oh really!

Perhaps we in the West should take a leaf out of the glowing haven of freedom, enlightenment and democracy that is the Middle East. You know, countries like Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and all the rest.

Or perhaps he was referring to Israel, the only parliamentary democracy, as we would recognise it, in the Middle East. But I doubt it, accepting a reality that goes against the left's ideological daydream isn't in their scheme of things. No, they don't like democracies that actually do what their people want them to do.

So what I saw on QT last night hit the two things that really annoy me at the moment. The inability of the political class in this country to condemn Islamic terrorism without drawing some moral equivalence with terror, perceived or otherwise, from non-Islamic groups. Even the English Defence League were attacked as violent, right-wing extremists in an effort to put them on a par with Islamic nutters. Whatever you may think of the EDL I'm not aware of them blowing up buses, trains, foreign embassies or flying planes into skyscrapers. Even Cameron was at that game in Munich when he made his feeble attack on multiculturalism, made feeble by his drawing of moral equivalence whenever he mentioned Islamic terrorists.

The second thing that is annoying me is the curent nonsensical drooling about events in Egypt. What it has shown is how damn tedious 24 hour news channels are. Do we realy need permanent pictures of Tahrir Square and the same old report being told repeatedly by some shirt sleeved reporter in a hotel overlooking the square. It's worse than being in a shop with music on a loop so you end up brainwashed with the same old sound  over, and over, and over again. This,  and Twitter, has produced instant experts. Deluded individuals who think Mubarak will step down on Monday, elections will be held on Tuesday and democracy will be entrenched on Wednesday. There you are, simple really, Egypt marching into the arms of democracy a la Saudi Arabia, Syria and all those other beacons of liberty in the Midde East. We in the West should really look on and learn, shouldn't we?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another Reason Why Prisoners Shouldn't Get The Vote

Another turd flushed away!
Another stinking politician, another Labour one, has been sent down. Another turd flushed away and another reason why prisoners shouldn't get the vote. Why should turds like this ever have any say, ever again on who rules this country?

Personally I don't think 12 months is long enough, 12 years would be nearer the mark. Additionally I think any politician jailed for corruption, Ilsley fiddled £14,000 of taxpayers money, should not only be barred from public office but should also never be allowed to vote again.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

BBC HD Trailer-Groove Armada

Every now and then music pops up on TV that just hits you, and you need to find out what it is. This time it was the trailer for the BBC HD channel, and the music is from Groove Armada I've discovered. So here it is:

And if you like that one I'm sure you'l like this one too:

Old Trafford and the Future of Test Cricket in the North West

There is no better way to spend a summer day than sat in the sunshine at Old Trafford watching Lancashire County Cricket Club. The football season is over, holidays are ahead and the outside world slowly disappears as does your pint of Thwaites as you watch the game unfold on the lush green turf.

Lancashire is one of the better run clubs with a high membership, excellent financial management and a sound youth development set up that produces a steady stream of top class players. Old Trafford is one of our historic county cricket grounds but is feeling its age. Redevelopment has commenced but much more work is needed to secure Test cricket in the North West and to secure the long term future of cricket at Old Trafford.

The plans for redevelopment have all been approved and the future was looking rosie. Then up pops a company based in Bermuda to use their corporate clout to protect their own business from competition. Another example of how, in Britan today, corporate business is the new religion and shopping centres the new cathedrals. The following is from the Lancashire County Cricket Club website:

The High Court action brought by Bermuda-based Derwent Holdings against Trafford Council over the re-development of Lancashire County Cricket Club’s ground will be heard in Manchester on Monday February 28th .

Derwent, owners of the White City shopping park near the Old Trafford ground, applied in December 2010 for a last-minute Judicial Review of Trafford Council’s planning approval of the club’s plans for a leading sports destination fit to host the 2013 Ashes.

Only recently, the club and its partners celebrated the confirmation by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government that their £70m investment plans to redevelop the stadium could proceed.

Now, LCCC Chief Executive Jim Cumbessays the court’s decision will be critical to the future of the club and also the future of international cricket in Manchester and the North-west.

“This will be a make or break decision,” says Mr Cumbes. “The stakes could not be higher. The club has spent £1.5m on costs associated with planning, advisors and in particular, Derwent’s delaying tactics. There has also been a £2m reduction in grants as a result of not being able to start the development programme as planned.

“If we cannot bring the ground up to international standard, the North-west will lose Test cricket and the Ashes for good. In addition, schools and young people locally will miss out on much-needed sports and community benefits.

“Our plans have been the subject of thorough and detailed consultation. They have been debated exhaustively both locally and nationally. There was a remarkable number of letters of support from ordinary Trafford residents and cricket fans – more than 900, plus thousands of website pledges.

“A key part of our plans are guaranteed local jobs for the unemployed, links to local schools and major community benefits. But Derwent seem to care not a jot about International Cricket, the image of Trafford, or the prospects for local kids and the unemployed.”

Adds Cumbes: “LCCC has been in Old Trafford for 150 years and is seeking to secure a future for International Cricket for the next century. Derwent’s action is about securing commercial gain at the expense of the LCCC’s sporting legacy for schools, community groups and young people in the North West. Mr Gubay is based in the Isle of Man tax haven and his company is based in Bermuda. People can draw their own conclusions from the contrast of interests.”

Alan Burke of Ask Developments, the Club’s development partner, says: “Derwent have tried every available means to kill our plans. They are notorious for having a track record for this type of legal action.

“Over the summer, Derwent aggressively pressured the Secretary of State to ‘Call In’ our scheme for a public inquiry, not once but twice. He looked at it carefully over a considerable time and concluded they had no grounds to their demands.”

The partners express dismay at the cynicism of Derwent’s recent last minute move given the tight construction schedule for preparing the ground ready to bid for the prestige Ashes Series in 2013.

Adds Mr Burke: “Derwent know we are facing a demanding timetable for delivery - their tactics are designed to have the maximum possible disruption to our programme and delivery of our funding package. They hope we will fail so they can progress their own commercial agenda.

"We have a funding commitment towards our project of over £5m approved by the Northwest Regional Development Agency. The terms of that agreement dictate that we must be clear of any potential Judicial Review action by April 2011 or risk losing that money. Such an outcome would be a disaster for the Club, Trafford borough and the North West. The only factor putting this funding at risk is Derwent's ongoing action. The very extensive delays we are incurring due to the very late nature of Derwent's challenge is not only extremely frustrating but fundamentally jeopardising our ability to call down this vital funding."

In addition to financial support from the Northwest Regional Development Agency, the LCCC plans are supported by Visit Manchester, MediaCity UK, Manchester United and Manchester City, Trafford College, MIDAS, AGMA (Association of Greater Manchester Authorities), the Shadow Greater Manchester LEP, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and the Manchester Hoteliers Association.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had confirmed that without substantial redevelopment, after 2010’s Test Match against Bangladesh there would be no more Test match cricket at Old Trafford and the future of international cricket in general there would be in jeopardy.

The current £32m phase of investment that is underway will deliver new pitches, stands, state of the art player and media facilities and an extension to the ground’s indoor cricket school and public areas. Two new grandstands and a re-furbished Pavilion will ensure a capacity of 15,000 capable of rising to 25,000 with temporary seating. There will also be floodlights and a screen showing action replays. All of this work will have to stop if the planning decision reached by Trafford Council in March 2010 is over-turned by the High Court.
I can only hope that the challenge is thrown out as frivolous. Or will another nail be hammered into our way of life by the bastardised form of capitalism that is corporatism? We'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Voting for the Alternative Vote System May 5th

This week I read that the BBC had banned reporters from referring to the referendum on May 5th on the UK voting system as a chance for "reform", as "reform" implies positive change and that could upset the campaign against reforming the system. Most of the establishment in this country support the status quo, or First Past The Post (FPTP), so it says a lot about the BBC. This led me to look further into what we are being asked to do on May 5th.

We currently elect MPs to represent a constituency based purely on which candidate gets the most votes. This means that the more candidates in a constituency the fewer the number and proportion of votes needed to win the seat. Under this method it is not uncommon for MPs to win their seats with only 1 in 3 voters supporting them. My MP in the Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency was elected on just over 40% of the vote.

Under Alternative Vote an MP would need at least 50% of the votes to be elected. You can still vote for just one candidate but you can also vote in preference order. So if there are five candidates you give your first vote to your favoured candidate, second to your second and so on. Votes are then counted and the candidate with the fewest votes drops out. His second to fifth preference votes are then redistibuted. The process continues until a candidate attains 50% and is elected.

Of course the AV system is not perfect, no system of voting is, but it beats what we have at the moment. I don't intend wasting time now on other sytems of voting becase they are not what we will be asked to vote on come May 5th.

There are obvious flaws in this system. The 50% vote could easily be achieved by peoples second preference votes going to the lesser of two evils rather than going to a party they actually want to vote for. If you have Labour, Tory, Lib Dem and BNP candidates do you, instinctively a Labour voter, give your second vote, against all your instincts to the Lib Dems to try and kick the BNP. Maybe even Tory for your third vote to kick the BNP against all your beliefs?

However, with the proliferation of smaller parties, as people become disillusioned with the big three, there will be clearer, positive options for many people in most consituencies. Tory/UKIP, Labour/Green and so on, giving people more positive options than in the example above.

For what it's worth I also believe that the AV system preserves the politicians link to the electorate in a relatively small, single member constituency. Yes, theoretically modern communication systems should alleviate the need for old fashioned MPs' surgeries on a Saturday morning. But remember, modern communications are developed by geeks and their systems prove how bad many geeks are at actually communicating with other humans. Try phoning your local bank, or virtually any big business, to find out how bloody frustrating and seemingly anti-human most modern communication systems are.

A great Winston Churchill quote springs to mind: "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried". That could also apply to AV, but until a better system is an option I will be voting for AV on May 5th.

Visit the Yes to Fairer Votes website for more information.

In addition, thanks to Dan in the comments section, here are a couple of other useful links:

Try Voting Using AV

A worked example from Fairer Votes Edinburgh

Monday, February 07, 2011

Voluntary Organisations or Quangos?

I get seriously weary when people in the voluntary sector whinge about government funding cuts. Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, retiring chief of CSV is the latest whinger.

There's a simple answer to the funding problem, get off your lazy arses and raise some money.

I have many years experience in the charity world and, without wanting to sound like an old fogey, the voluntary sector's not what it used to be. Under the last governmnent it was effectively nationalised with the feeble charity sector accepting pots of cash from the government which they proceeded to waste on ineffectual pet projects and ludicrously expensive consultants and senior staff. Which is why the real work of the voluntary sector effectively stood still under Blair and Brown, but voluntary bodies became more political and more dependent on the politicians. Like everything Labour touch the voluntary sector is now a useless, bloated bureaucracy.

When I was in a position where I was advising new groups on establishing themselves I always advised them to avoid statutory funding where possible, as money always comes with strings attached. Charites should be free from those restraints so that they can remain independent and impartial, after all, part of their role should be to influence, and criticise where necessary both local and national government.

In my experience CSV typifies so many voluntary organisations. They are good at self-publicising, great at boasting about how much they do, but in reality only exist to further their senior staff, such as Dame Elisabeth Hoodless. A few years ago I had regular contact with CSV and could never work out what they actually did, certainly they were the worst of many bad voluntary organisations I came across.

It's now time the government, and local councils cut financial contributions to voluntary bodies, preferably to zero. Or to put it in politcal language, privatise the voluntary sector. We can then choose which charities we support, rather than having our taxes pumped into charities that we would never support on a voluntary basis. They would then have to prove their worth to you and me.

Monday Morning

Monday morning always comes around too soon. So say Stealers Wheel:

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Manchester United FC-Munich, 6 February 1958

The Flowers of Manchester

One cold and bitter Thursday in Munich, Germany,
Eight great football stalwarts conceded victory,
Eight men who will never play again who met destruction there,
The flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester

Matt Busby's boys were flying, returning from Belgrade,
This great United family, all masters of their trade,
The Pilot of the aircraft, the skipper Captain Thain,
Three times they tried to take off and twice turned back again.

The third time down the runaway disaster followed close,
There was a slush upon that runaway and the aircraft never rose,
It ploughed into the marshy ground, it broke, it overturned.
And eight of the team were killed as the blazing wreckage burned.

Roger Byrne and Tommy Taylor who were capped for England's side.
And Ireland's Billy Whelan and England's Geoff Bent died,
Mark Jones and Eddie Colman, and David Pegg also,
They all lost their lives as it ploughed on through the snow.

Big Duncan he went to, with an injury to his frame,
And Ireland's brave Jack Blanchflower will never play again,
The great Sir Matt Busby lay there, the father of his team
Three long months passed by before he walked again.

The trainer, coach and secretary, and a member of the crew,
Also eight sporting journalists who with United flew,
and one of them Big Swifty, who we'll ne'er forget,
the finest English 'keeper that ever graced the net.

Oh, England's finest football team its record truly great,
its proud successes mocked by a cruel turn of fate.
Eight men will never play again, who met destruction there,
the flowers of English football, the flowers of Manchester

Friday, February 04, 2011

Top Gear, Mexico, A Fat Woman and a Smoker

In the last couple of days a few things have cropped up to create a bit of interest. I'm a bit on the porky side, I know I am. I used to be a smoker, twenty or more a day for thirty years, but I gave up four years ago. When I see my taxes being wasted on the NHS helping the weak willed to give up smoking it makes my blood boil. If you want to give up smoking have some backbone. My local NHS Trust is renting a shop in Lancaster for their "Smoking Cessation Team". If you really don't want to give up then carry on. Do not expect my bloody taxes to subsidise your lack of willpower and backbone.

Yesterday I saw a news piece about UK ambulances having to be adapted to carry the number of fatties they are having to carry. As I said above I am a bit porky, but I am making efforts to reduce my weight because I know that healthwise it's a good idea. I like to think I'm not stupid and can look after myself. My health is my responsibility, not yours and certainly not the states.

But I've seen an interview with a porky wench, and I mean seriously porky, who claims that obesity is an addiction and should be treated as such by the government and the NHS. Which means you and me through our taxes. Tell you what, I'm addicted to football, let's tax the porkers and use the money to subsidise my football addiction. No porky woman, you need to take responsibility for yourself.

Then the hat-trick, Top Gear is in trouble again. This time they claimed, tongue in cheek, that cars reflect national characteristics. So this is what was said when they reviewed a Mexican car:
“Mexican cars are just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight, leaning against a fence asleep looking at a cactus with a blanket with a hole in the middle on as a coat.”
They also said that Mexican food resembled "refried sick". I've worked in Mexico and that assessment of Mexicans is not far off the mark. And the food is actually quite grim on the whole too. Don't get me wrong I loved Mexico but it could be extremely frustrating, especially when people are late for meetings because the cock crowed a bit late. Yes that did happen to me on a couple of occasions, although most Mexicans do use alarm clocks.

But the point of humour is that it is sharp observation, slightly skewed. That the Mexican ambassador has nothing better to do than write letters of complaint about a motoring show to the BBC perhaps says it all about the Mexican ambassador. The fact that the BBC grovellingly apologises to the Mexican  ambassador perhaps says it all about the BBC.

Which reminds me of the old joke I first heard, told to me by a Mexican, when I was there in 1990:

An American tourist was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.

Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The tourist complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, "Only a little while."

The tourist then asked, "Why didn't you stay out longer and catch more fish?"

The Mexican said, "With this I have more than enough to support my family's needs."

The tourist then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life."

The tourist scoffed, " I can help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you could run your ever-expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will this all take?"

The tourist replied, "15 to 20 years."

"But what then?" asked the Mexican.

The tourist laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."

"Millions?...Then what?"

The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos."
Thankfully most Mexicans seem to have a better sense of humour than their ambassador in London.

MPs and Mental Health

I'm more than happy for every effort to be made to assist people with mental health problems. Sadly there are still people who think that those suffering from mental illness should "snap out of it". The reality is that it is every bit as much an illness as a broken leg. If you broke your leg you would expect to have it treated pretty rapidly, and so people with mental health problems should expect the best treatmen available.

What I do not agree with is the government's proposal to repeal Section 141 of the Mental Health Act. This part of the act disqualifies MPs from Parliament if they have been sectioned for longer than six months. Nick Clegg is proudly shouting about this measure, maybe because in over 100 years there have only been two MPs sacked under this act, and both were Liberal MPs.

MPs have responsibility for life and death decisions. They have responsibility for war and sending thousands of young men to death. Is it too much to ask that Members of Parliament should be of sound mind? Yes, Winston Churchill had his "black dog" and nobody would expect MPs suffering from depression to be barred from office. But Churchill's depression was different from being sectioned for more than six months, which is why, since 1886, only two MPs have fallen foul of Section 141. It is hardly being abused.

Taking a look at the other aspect of this issue would you be happy to have no representation in Parliament for more than six months? OK, there are lots of comedy opportunities here, but being serious I don't think, in an ideal world, any of us would or should be happy with that state of affairs. Certainly if your MP died in office you would be very angry if you had to wait more than six months for the chance to elect a successor, especially when a Parliament only lasts a maximum of five years, six months means no representation for one tenth of a Parliament.

Sadly Nick Clegg is once again playing gesture politics, trying to look so caring and compassionate. In reality he is showing how shallow and hypocritical our political class, especially this Coalition government, really are.

I wonder what would happen if the Prime Minister were sectioned for more than six months? Too right he would be replaced. But a mere MP? Well, he only represents 60,000 or so voters, we don't matter.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Manchester United and the Glazers

The Glazers are up to more tricks, and the footballing authorities, as they have done for years now, just sit back and let corporate plunderers destroy what's left of the professional game in this country. Here's what the Glazers are up to now:

By Paul Kelso 8:40PM GMT 02 Feb 2011

Delaware is rated the most secretive financial location in the world, and the change means that it will be even harder for supporters and media to establish the implications of the club’s corporate structure.

The most pressing issue concerning Manchester United’s highly-mobilised fanbase is how the Glazers managed to clear £249.1 million of payment-in-kind (PIK) loans that had been incurring interest at more than 16 per cent before it was abruptly paid off in November last year.

Delaware’s secrecy rules mean that the directors, officers and shareholders of the new company are unknown, as is the source of the money used to repay the PIKs.

The PIKs were controversial because they were secured against the Glazer family’s shares in United’s holding company, meaning that ultimately the club could have been passed to the hedge-fund lenders in the event of default.

The Glazers have declined to say how they paid off the PIK loans, and whether any debt incurred to do so is still secured against the family’s shareholding in the club or related entities.

Financial analyst Andrew Green, who blogs on football finances as Andersred, said the move suggested the Glazers were trying to obscure the source.

“It is almost as if the Glazers are trying to keep information about the PIK repayment secret,” he wrote. “Naturally we can’t ask the Glazers anything about this as they won’t talk to the fans and their employees in M16 don’t appear to know. In my view that is not how the biggest football club in the world should be managed.”

US-based sources have suggested that the Glazers have taken a new loan at a cheaper rate to clear the PIKs rather than turning to third-party investors or using personal cash. It is unclear what security they have offered against the loans, and with United apparently their most valuable asset there remain concerns that the club revenues could still be required to service the loans.

According to UK regulatory filings lodged with Companies House the new Delaware company, Red Football LLC, now owns 100 per cent of the shares in the club’s UK parent company Red Football Shareholder Limited (RFSL).

RFSL was the vehicle by which the PIKs were paid off, but is now hidden behind the new structure in Delaware.

Last November two new shares in RFSL were issued at a combined value of £249m. RFSL then bought two shares in its subsidiary Red Football Joint Venture, which owned the PIKs, and the money was used to pay off the loans.

Manchester United and the Glazer family declined to comment on the changes, but a spokesman said the Glazers remain the ultimate owners of the club.

From the Telegraph Online.

I don't have a dreamy idealised view of the past. I don't look back at the way football was being run prior to PLCs and Russian, Arab and American corporate raiders sailed in with their skull and cross bone flags flying. I remember United being owned by the Edwards family, City having old Mr Alexander in charge. But they, and the footballing authorities of the day, ensured that football clubs were sports clubs, first and foremost. They genuinely loved the clubs and, although not perfect, knew they needed the local communities behind them if the club was to progress.

I recently spoke to a multi-millionaire who owns one of our bigger clubs. He hates football and only attended two games at his club last season. He left both at half-time, bored. Can he really have the interests of that club at heart?

Did the Arab prince who owns Manchester City wake up every Sunday or Thursday of his life desperately wanting to know how City had got on the night before against Stockport County or Gillingham? I couldn't resist that one. Did the Glazers go to their American football club's games with little radios glued to their ears listening to United's games on the BBC World Service praying that one day they would own the club?

The Premier League, Premiership or whatever it's branded as today is a mirage. 'Customers' are paying an arm and leg to watch mediocre football because, let's be honest, take away the hype and the product is not brilliant. Witness the empty seats in the last round of the FA Cup. Manchester City, the world's richest football club could only muster 27,000 fans in the FA Cup against Leicester. Witness the empty seats at last night's games. A friend of mine was amazed that she could buy a ticket at Anfield for Liverpool playing at nearby Blackburn. Not only were they on open sale but over 1000 weren't even sold.

Last week I heard the depised David Gill, CEO of Manchester United, refer to United as "the biggest franchise in the world". So there we are, in the eyes of the people who run United, up there with KFC and McDonalds. It made me sick.

Since 2005 I haven't stepped foot in a professional football ground. Like thousands of others I now follow FC United. Yes I sometimes get pissed off with certain elements of FC United, mostly the politics, but that's what happens when a group of idealists get together. I know others who left United in 2005 when the Glazers arrived but are now following their own local non league clubs. And I doubt that any of us would ever go back to the professional game.

Somebody accused me this week of being a traitor and turning my back on my club. I was born in Manchester, followed Manchester United all my life attending my first game in 1965 and have watched them all over England and Europe. But I'm not an idiot. If I keep getting ripped off in a shop, I stop shopping there. If I get the squits every time I visit a restaurant I stop eating there. If the Glazers ask me to bend over while they shaft me I get out of their pretty damn quickly.

To me the ones who still pay to watch top flight football are mugs, but I still can't bring myself to call them traitors because I know and understand why many thousands of genuine fans just can't walk away from their clubs. Likewise I think the genuine fans understand why we have walked away from top flight football.

The ones who call us traitors and turncoats are invariably the plastic fans who jumped on the football bandwagon when Sky and the PLCs bought English football's soul. But don't worry, they'll be away from football when the hype fades and another sport becomes the cool thing to become a customer of.

Just read the article above by Paul Kelso again. Then give it a bit of thought.

You might also like to read The Beautiful Game? by David Conn. He might be a City fan who writes for The Guardian, but if you have any interest in football his book is a must.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Student Radicals or Pampered Brats?

There was the inevitable trouble in Manchester when the pampered brats, aka students, threw another temper tantrum. They think that their educatuion should be free, paid for by the taxes of checkout girls on minimum wage rather than their own taxes when they start earning over £22,000 or so.

What I found especially shocking was the treatment meted out to Aaron Porter, the Chairman of the National Union of Students. He had to be escorted from the rally at the end of the march by police for his own protection. His crime? He is a Tory apparently. But not being very bright the far-left students hurled anti-Semitic abuse at him too, thinking that the name Aaron is exclusively Jewish. Such nice people. Do you really want to waste your taxes trying to educate them?

They then started breaking up to avoid being kettled by the police. Kettling, if you don't know, is when the police surround a group and pen them in to stop them going on a violent rampage. This is because when they get tired of attacking the police and public buildings they go on the rampage atttacking businesses they claim don't pay a fair share of taxes. Presumably so the tax can be wasted on the students' pampered existences.

"What does mummy say?"-"Be nice to me or else!"
I accept the need for civil disobedience in extreme circumstances, tuition fees is not such a circumstance. Having said that let the students demonstrate but kettle them if it gets out of hand.

Putting it another way how would you feel if you were in Next with your kids doing some shopping and you were all terrified by a rampaging mob attacking the shop? That's why, when student demos, or any demos get out of hand, the police do what they have to do.

Over the decades I've been on many demos, none of which have led to the kind of violence we've seen in the current spate of student demos. If they had turned violent, and my parents had known I was involved, I would have got a good bollocking when I got home, even as a 21 year old student. But not these pampered little misfits, oh no. Today's students are defended by mummy and daddy who formed a group called Stop Kettling Our Kids.

Hardnosed far-left revolutionary thugs I might disagree with, but there is a grudging respect. Rupert and Tarquin hiding behind mummy and daddy when the police stop their fun? Do me a favour.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Egypt, Idealists, Conspiracy Theorists and Nutters

I had an altercation on Twitter today with an old political acquaintance. He is drooling over events in Egypt. Of course it didn't take him long to attack the USA, this time for evacuating embassy staff when, in his opinion, there was no violence in Egypt. When I pointed out that even the Turks were evacuating, that museums and shops had been looted, that buildings, police vehicles and offices had been on fire in the last week he claimed that was all done by the secret police. I always thought he was mad, that just proved it to me.

I'm no fan of Mubarak, with my limited knowledge of Egypt, and would probably be on the steets myself if I lived in Cairo. But I don't. I live in England, am a Christian and believe in freedom and democracy, and by that I mean western style freedom and democracy. From my position I fear what will happen when Mubarak goes. Look at what is happening in Tunisia. I suppose the mad idealists who think Egypt will be all cuddly, democratic and libertarian post-Mubarak will claim that this report from Reuters, of Islamic violence against Jewish people in the newly 'liberated' Tunisia, is also some kind of conspiracy.

Christians in Egypt currently face intimidation, violence and murder as reported here. How will Christians be treated when a new government comes into power with the support, to what degree is as yet unclear, of the Muslim Brotherhood? To pretend there is no danger of an extremist Islamic republic being installed in Cairo is to prove ignorance of the real world and stupidity beyond belief. To believe that a fundamentalist Islamic state in Egypt would be no threat to the west is also to live in a fantasy world.

I remember watching the Iranian revolution unfold in 1979. Then the Ayatollah Khomeini was waiting in the wings, or Paris to be precise. Egypt in 2011 has the Muslim Brotherhood hovering in the background. It's much more than a sense of deja vu that makes me concerned about events in Egypt. I also worry about the gullible idealists, conspiracy theorists and nutters in this country who think they will wake up tomorrow to find Egypt leading the world in freedom and democracy.

The Modern World

I saw a thing about Sir Norman Foster on breakfast news this morning. If you don't know he's the architect of such things as The Gherkin in London and the renovated Reichstag in Berlin. Of no consequence whatsoever but he was born around the corner from where I was born, but about 25 years before me. He was born in Reddish, Stockport, I was born in Gorton, Manchester. There any similartities end.

What I find depressing when I hear Norman Foster interviewed, and looking at his website, is how he rattles on about how the built environment adds to our quality of life, then builds with totally cold, characterless and aesthetically unpleasing glass and steel. His interiors all look like huge shopping malls, fine for shopping malls but impersonal and lacking any warmth for offices and public buildings.

Architects like Foster are turning the world into a bland, characterless glass and steel theme park where you don't know which city in which continent you are in. Do you know whare the building above is? Do you know what continent it's in even? Is it a public car park? Is it a shopping mall? Is it an office block?

Driving across Europe today you ee the same huge retail parks and business parks whether in Prague, Manchester or anywhere else. The detested yellow and blue monstrosities that are Ikea buildings always get my blood boiling. At least the Poles, the Belgians and others faithfully rebult their old towns after being destroyed in wars. In England we waited until after the wars to destroy what the Germans hadn't. That destruction, like some kind of cultural cleansing, continues today in cities like Liverpool and Manchester where swathes of traditional brick built terraced houses are being bulldozed to be replaced by characterless hutches.

I've rambled on before about the death of the traditional pub. Now our traditional markets are dying. All over the North of England market stalls lie empty. A vicious circle, people don't use the markets so traders give up. A half empty market stops people visiting the market and so on and so on. If people don't want markets any more fine, but what has happened to kill all but the biggest and most attractive markets such as Bury market? The answer is the supermakets and shopping malls.

Manchester City Council proved their stupidity by giving Tesco planning permission for a huge hypermarket in Gorton, on condition that a market is built. So you have Tesco, selling everyting from fruit and veg to DVDs, computers and clothes, and right next door a market with sky high rents, and empty stalls.

Bury market is superbly marketted as a regional market, virtually a tourist attraction and, as the home of black pudding, sells the best black pudding in the country. This has cushioned it from the threat of the supermarkets and shopping malls. When I walk from Bury market to Gigg Lane for the football I pass as many as 20 coaches from all over the north who have brought hundreds of customers to the market. For once a local council dseres praise.

Elsewhere there are markets such as Clitheroe, with empty stalls and plummeting trade. It's sad but within five minutes walk of the market there is a Sainsbury's supermarket, a Booth's and a Tesco. Not only are the markets being killed by the supermarkets, so are the high streets of England. My local shopping street now has little more than estate agents, takeaways and charity shops, and the supermarkets are selling Chinese, Indian and pizza takeaways so soon even takeaways may disappear. Carnforth market is largely a key cutting van with an occasional fruit and veg stall turning up.

We are all guilty, if guilt is the right word. We've all found the ease of the supemarket appealing to the detriment of the local greengrocer, butcher and baker. But it is sad that the local shops, another aspect of community, have virtually disappeared under the corporate jackboot of big business.

This is the modern world!

PS It's an office block in ye olde market town of Ipswich, Suffolk.