Saturday, 28 October 2006

Singing from the one hymnbook

Secretary of State Peter Hain is at the centre of a religious policing row after he appeared to agree with a statement that Catholic officers in Northern Ireland could be exempted from duty in Protestant areas. During a broadcast of 'Any Questions' on Radio Four Mr Hain also said it was a "regular feature" of policing in Northern Ireland that Catholic officers could be removed from situations where they were considered to be at risk.
Hang on one cotton-picking moment! I don't care what religion, if any, a Police Officer has. I expect all officers to fairly enforce the rule of law everywhere. I totally refute Hain's idea that Roman Catholic officers can get an opt-out of Protestant areas. If we follow that logic, can Protestant officers also get an opt-out of Roman Catholic areas? And what about atheist officers - shouldn't they also get an opt-out of any area where religious proclivities exist?This is SO silly. There should be no opt out for ANY Police Officer based on their religion. This is a form of institutionalised policing apartheid.

So, what was all that fuss about the Muslim pc who was removed from Israeli Embassy?

This is nothing to do with which policeman goes where. It is a heavy-handed and obvious way to try to get more left-footers into the political wing of PSNI. How many more political wings are there to be - Sinn Fein seem to be doing OK in holding the ring.

Just after we went to aid of civil powers, there was a problem with law enforcement in Belfast. No one was being put to process anywhere. Big hush-hush meeting at Knock discovered that almost universal RUC attitude was that if the people in Nationalist areas were excused the law, RUC would not enforce the law in Loyalist areas. Basically - they never did until we pushed joint-patrols down their throat.

Policing by belief could bring this situation back methinks.

Friday, 27 October 2006

Retirement. Yeuk.

Bit of a lazy day today. Late wake-up, late breakfast, easy get lunch and dinner; maybe eat out. Get in that easy chair that, together with what passes for television entertainment, guarantees attack by the narcoleptic virus. Then, warm drink, dipped biscuits, up the wooden hill. And why not? I have contributed to the common good in excess of my share and now live in retirement 1. Must have been satisfactory – I have the multiple pensions to prove it. There will be no more pensions regardless of Government brou ha ha concerning inclusiveness for oldies.
When my time came round many colleagues made the identical prophesy that I would have so many things to do that I would not have the time to do them. I'd already insulated myself from the instant boredom that I saw as retirement by setting up such a number of projects, surveys and committees that the company deemed my part-time presence was vital so I was able to enter the world of consultant which was also a job title paying far more than hum drum part-timer.
The clean break came about a year later and retirement – aka terminal boredom – was looking me in the face. The Final Journey to USA meant that much time akin to office hours was spent planning and then undertaking that two week round up of old stamping grounds. I had looked at Retirement communities in Arizona. Bans on children except at very limited times, speed mods on golf carts, gated – my dreams. Sadly, reality did not match aspirations.
The idea of running to catch up with commitments has not materialised. I am a dedicated potterer just dodging from one thing to another. I had never looked forward to retirement. As an adrenaline junky, how would I survive? Well, the human spirit is great and adjusts. Retirement Rules OK

1Interesting link here. Oldies. Calderdale. What to do for them. Calderdale was killing ground for Dr Harold Shipman who sent more than 150 people off into early after-life with his magic morphine needle.

Leadership - the Neu-Labour way.

My background as a leader was unorthodox. My service role was such that I could tell the guys what to do, when to do it and maybe even venture into how to do it but, as investigators, once beyond my door their individual decisions had priority. Management was there expressed by reviewing the results of their work and debating if it could be improved and, if so, where and how.
My civilian being was much the same. The abilities needed from the post clerk through to the resident engineer in a large and complex office were so different that one managed 'x' individuals or small groups rather than the department as a whole.
The thing I did try to do was emphasis that they worked for me and not some knucklhead who accosted them on the stairs. Any mistake they made was my fault in that I had not foreseen what happened and managed it away. I would never accept the “I did not know what to do (so did nothing” mantra. At the very least, they were expected to contact me with the situation. Most mistakes would be dealt with inside the team but if they had done deserved some official disciplining or additional training, that is what happened.
This self-aggrandisement is to show what I mean by being in a leader in a management position. Firm, not very democratic, individuals responsible for earning the rewards one receives. Why is this latter-day Drucker emoting?
We have an Education Minister. Of all things that he might be tackling in the abysmal education system kids of today's Oliver Twist society, he decided to focus on faith schools. We have a significant number of these where parents may be comfortable that their off-spring are receiving training in the subjects and manner deemed appropriate to their religion. So, scattered around like berries in the bush of education, we have little knots of 100% Jewish or Muslim or Catholic or Protestant schools. Roaming in the undergrowth, we have pellets of those of no faith, really minority religions and those whose parents are not sufficiently committed as to care how their children are dragged up/raised. So, the bold Alun proposes that faith schools will have to have 25% of the school population made up of these minority or unaligned children. Good idea I hear you say. With the knowledge we have of the wider world today, what could be wrong with Jew alongside Muslim, (Belfast) Catholics singing from the same hymn sheet as (Belfast) Proddies. Buddhists alongside dreadlocked Rasta kids. There are such people as devil worshippers whose children have to have an education regardless. Thankfully, someone saw the light. I suspect it might have been the Junior crystal interpreter to the wide-mouthed frog that is POTUK's wife. Despite her penchant for using her legal training to defend wacky individuals and ideas, she feared that her highly lucrative gossip tours to America might be put under threat by pressure of work in her day job.
Here again we see the traits of our rush-to-legislate political masters. Do not bother with anything that might gather information to formulate a policy that works as it comes from the box. Pass a law. Being in a hurry will excuse flaws in the wording or impossibilities in the execution of the new rules. After the climb down comes the excuses. Here it seems the spin is that the law was really intended to bring all parties to the debating chamber where they would come to agreement on how to attain the government's aim. This against the background where the media has been full of reports about the tremendous objection by RC and Protestants. This brings us back neatly to the Machiavellian attitude of my opening words. The Army in Germany decreed that we all had to learn German to improve relationships with the locals. I volunteered to go on the first such course. I had no personal wish or professional cause to use any German and was challenged by my boss who knew of this. “Why volunteer for something you will hate?” Reason – “I'll certainly hate it but would hate it a damned sight more if actually ordered to attend”
We now have another Comedy of Errors on the running order. The Producer is Fcukwit Hewitt and the cast is self-selecting even as I write. She was telling Bedtime Stories aka Gobment policy and suggested that there be an extra tax on drink to deter the rise in binge drinking. Apart from the fact that the caravan-dragging imbecile is our Health Minister (no don't laugh. It is cruel to mock the afflicted), tax matters are very very much the preserve of Gordy Brown as Chancellor. With fine Scots "See You" manners, he has had his deparment administer a swift kicking to her bed pan area. Obviously, the far from fair Patricia has not learned to ensure that Brain is switched on before selection Drive. What else might one expect of a Health Minister? One has only to look at the state of our Mental Health Services.
As a method to deter binging, it stands even less chance of success than other moves against the demon drink. In the shurly sum mistook orficer arena, one has to remember just how desperately our horoes fought to introduce 24 hour access to booze. Never mind righ hand not knowing what left hand is doing - here we have disassociation between index and ring fingers of the same hand.
On the subject of brains, I have been cogitating on the equation that looks something like Politicians - brain power of :: Pointers short haired - brain power of. Answer is abysmal :: awesome.
Yesterday, I treated my dog to a new toy. Ended up with a squeaky toy something like a dachshund. We played with it for a bit and then I left her to it. I heard her trot out of the kitchen and then a rattling in her toy box. She then came to me with two toys in her mouth. The new one plus an almost identical red one she has had for some five years. It had lost the squeak and she had given up on it. She remembered exactly where the twin was though!
When she goes swimming, it sometimes happens that the stick thrown into the sea is waterlogged and sinks out of sight. This is a winter thing mainly. She used to swim out and then get upset because she could not retrieve for me. I either had to call her off - which she resented - or throw a stick that was sure to float. Today I threw the first stick - one I had doubts of. Sable stood at the water's edge and watched the splash area. Sure enough, a sinker. She looked at me and, I swear, laughed. You cannot catch me with that she was very clearly saying. The average politician would have sold the new toy for a pittance and drowned alongside the wet stick.

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Confirming my opinions

Doesn't it feel nice when you get something right. What I said is confirmed by others. What a big head you have got Granddad

Down amongst the dead men

I was doing a troll around the darker depths of the Web this morning to see what was happening in the bottom feeders blogs. I came across the TalkTalk blog purportedly written by the Boss himself, Charles Dunstone. The back numbers don't even begin to describe how things were in the outside world. No mention of the rubbish that graduated to the call centres despite the vaunted 4 weeks of training. Nothing about the deliberate lies told by these agents as to routers/modem being 'in the post' whilst those answering email and running the web page were positive there would be a six week delay.

Commenting on the call centre performance reminds me that it is not only TalkTalk that fails in this respect. I had to try dealing with the O2 use-the-word-lightly service staff. Both are somewhere off shore - maybe India. Obviously the people who sold this sort of outsourcing came up with the line that English is an official language in India. Maybe so but it is not a required language. Those who do learn, inherit the version of English used by their teacher. The rythms are all wrong - every single sentence ends with a questioning tone so that one cannot determine if being asked a question or told something. Pronunciation is weird to say the least . Peter Sellers in Goodness Gracious Me mode. That is when they speak it. They have the same problem understanding English.

I found the answer last week was to tell the agent to write down what I said and then read it. I told her she should write down the answer and if it looked good, to read it to me. She had to refer something to her manager and I directed her to write down what she had to say and we agreed this before she put me into Muzak Hell.

It seemed to work but on a call charge structure where I was paying high rates I found it very frustrating to know that my meter was running to such little benefit.

I notice Dunstone has not updated his blog since 1st September 2006. Hopefully, he is off ether whilst waiting for a broadband TalkTalk line at home. That should allow him to describe what sort of Christmas he had in his very next posting

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Training to be a Neu-Labour spinner!

All Armies are the same

This is from an American - major in full time service. Seems even the world's elite have the same sort of problems. How long can we remain elite?

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Pound for Pound!
[Capt B]

Quantico, VA -- "Battlefields seldom change," I thought as I walked the perimeter of the Marine basic course and observed the deep foxholes, outposts, barbed wire, fields of fire, wet, alert young warriors, ankle-deep mud and always, the smell of gunpowder.

Continue reading "Pound for Pound! "
Here, John Glenn, Chuck Robb, and my cousin, former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, learned the basics of leading men and winning in battle, as did California's Governor Pete Wilson and tens of thousands of other patriots who joined up to serve with America's finest. None of the Vietnam-era presidential hopefuls passed through this crucible; they all dodged the draft to serve a high priority -- themselves.

At Quantico , Marines learn not just to kill, but to lead, to think and to absorb standards that stick with them for life. Character is forged in an environment where perfection is not good enough, where duty, honor and country are forever grafted onto their belief systems. That's why so many Marines lead the way in almost every pursuit in this land.

There's little difference between the current crop of Marines and the "Devil Dogs" I first met as a ten-year-old shoeshine boy in 1940. Then, too, they were sharp, salty and proud -- and they liked to keep their mahogany shoes glistening, which was good for business. They were not in the Corps because it was a job. They had joined up because for them, it was a near-religion, a compelling call to serve their country.

As I watched the kids who still have that calling dig in, I thought, "Nothing has changed since before Pearl Harbor ." The faces are still young, the minds eager, the bodies rock hard and the equipment clean and serviceable, though worn and old...very old.

The big difference between Marines and the Army, Air Force and Navy, is the Corps runs on the smell of an old oily rag. They're the poor cousins of the other, richer services. Col. James T. Conway's total annual budget for putting almost 3,000 officers through basic school is a lean $967,031 per year. The Army's "kiddieland" at Fort Bragg, built to baby-sit serving soldiers' offspring (71% of the family-oriented U.S. Army is married), costs five times as much; a month's per diem (hotel and food) for 300 USAF fighter jocks in Italy -- who are too princely to sleep on cots in tents as Marines do -- is about $1 million a month; the cost for a headquarters in Naples to deal with ex-Yugoslavia is $8 million a year, and boy, do the staff weenies there live high on the hog.

The Corps gets only six percent of the defense budget. This pays for 12 percent of the active forces, 23 percent of the active divisions, 13 percent of the fighter/attack aircraft and 14 percent of the total reserve force.

It doesn't take a whiz kid to figure out this is one hell of a lot of bang for the defense buck. Marines don't waste defense dollars. They're into lean meat, not blubber. Quality of life to leathernecks isn't pampering and frills, but a resupply of ammo on the high ground.

Defense Secretary William J. Perry knows his budget will be halved by the year 2000, leaving us with a broken defense machine. The Pentagon has got to trim now to be able to fight later.

Perry should find out how the Corps can do so much with so little, and ask: Why do Marine pilots sleep in tents next to their planes while Air Force pilots live downtown in plush hotels? Why does the Army have 200 major generals for only ten divisions? Why do Marine sergeants serve as navigators aboard Marine C-130 aircraft while majors do the same job in the Air Force? Why does the Corps have one officer to every nine Marines when the Air Force ratio is 1 to 4, the Army 1 to 5 and the Navy 1 to 6? Why does the Pentagon have more people now for a force of only 1.6 million than it had in 1945, when the force was 13 million?

The Corps is one hell of a defense bargain. Pound for pound, in these days when cost-effectiveness is so critical, the Corps provides by far the best value at the best price.

"If we do not protect our troops, why should they protect us?" - Major Frank Stolz

"Demonstrate to the world there is 'No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy' than a U.S. Marine."
-- J. N. Mattis, Major General, U.S. Marines Commanding General's Message to All Hands, March 2003

History revisited.

"When people look back on this time, I honestly believe they will see this as one of the finest moments of our century." Who said that? Well, a clue. It wasn't Churchill. On a scale of one to ten it was the man at minus twenty - this idiot whose career is highlighted here. Given his ability at mendacity he will put on his mock-Cockney accent and say that what he said was perfectly correct; it was just that it was only three years into the century. I cannot be bothered to deep research the writer of this article but the question that comes to mind is 'where was he when the poodle first ran to POTUS for puppy training?' What he has written today is interesting. It shows how politicians can suspend knowledge in the pursuit of self-aggrandisment. It was not, I hope, one of my prejudices but I had felt that for things such as dodgy assistant screwing, drunken driving into creeks at a place I cannot spell and almost everything that Tricky Dicky did, one had to rely upon Americans. No more. We have our own grown variety. I'm told one can find many strange plants in a sewer.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Press censorship

So, the commercial tv news producer has been barred from MOD support in Iraq. Whilst they may go independently and face the risks as did Terry Lloyd, this ban goes further. Individual soldiers will be punished if they speak to the isolated journalists. We have seen in the front-line TV reports from Afghanistan just what a soldiers' life is and heard from the horses mouth about the difficulties they face in terms of supply and back-up. Meantime, the self-imporant Ministers, Secretarys and even the POTUK himself will spin, lie and disambiguate to suit their own agenda. They saw what happened to Clarke at the Home Office when the cat of real truth got out of the bag.

There is another reason for this banning. Last week the ITN evening news programme did a series of reports on what happens to wounded and ex-soldiers. Traumatic stress mishandled, no attention to housing needs, medical treatment of wounded - all came under the spotlight. Grown men have admitted crying at the remark made by a down on his luck ex-sldier "We were proper people once". None of it was good for the government already on the back foot re the way in which the NHS was treating our wounded. This vindictive school bully attitude of the gobment does it no favours.

I care not what happens in Iraq. They had their chance and wasted it. It is the wrong venue or arena for any Global War On Terror. The blind coalition is being led by the blind incompetent and corrupt Iraqi government of today as to what is really being achieved. The whole damn place is not worth the life of one more soldier - nay, any injury to one soldier. No, better yet - not worth the life of an Army explosives detector dog. Everything the war touches it spoils. The premise - whatever it was in the way of WMD, regime change, AQ, oil, Democracy, keep terrorism out of USA, Middle East stability, von Rumsfeld's tight trousers, you name it, has been proven wrong. State a very short term date for leaving - something on a calendar and not in the mind of a duplicitous politician like B.Liar. Tell everyone what this date and time is. Then, with bands playing and flags flying, all troops and NGO together with private contracters move to departure points. Locals told to stay away. Do not even look on. Tell them that if they fail to do this they will be shot down there and then. Say it, mean it, do it. If the trouble that ensues looks to cause the rest of us any problem, well, surely we have long range missiles. Use the place for demonstrating to people like North Korea what real nucleur bombs can do. In the coalition homelands, make it very clear to dissidents that they are here on sufferance. Their demands, opinions and desired life styles are nothing to us. If they are scared to live in Syria, go to some other Arab state. This option would apply to anyone who stepped out of line. If there are indigenous people who want to change their beliefs to anything contrary to what Britishness or American means, they also should choose a new country to go with their new beliefs.

Longer re Short

I think I may have written here about Clare Short, the serial resigner. I had wondered if she knew she was committing political suicide when she suggested that voting for (Neu) Labour was possibly not such a good idea. It may well be that she was fully appreciative and just did not care. Her political life was going nowhere and she may well have known of a better place where life would be sweeter. Factors sometimes found relevant by those who attempt or attain suicide. Read the guest blog and see what you think.

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A better life than freewheeling in Westminster

Monday, 23 October 2006

I need to live longer

Almost every day it seems, one of the things to which my slightly demented brain has given credence, appears to have a truth in fact. Established by learned professors with much study and financial expense. I think my ideas on what is called Stress came to me one day whilst seated in the Smallest Room.

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Does Stress exist - she does not think so


this poem from a comment to an Observer article, by a poster styling themself as ''sbsmith'', October 22, 2006 04:41 AM.

Thought it was good, so am reproducing it here.

Liars you lied in word, in deed, & by omission:
you blamed Saddam for things that you had done & failed to do - the Shia insurrection,incited, left to founder – ‘sorry son!’with VX, sarin, stuff for nuclear fission -you armed him, supplied anthrax by the ton,you egged him on to fight Iran, then ditched him...& now you cannot find the smoking gun? too long past their use-by-date. ‘oh? fine!’(don’t bother to say sorry: just resign.) you lied about ‘eviction’ of inspectorsw whom the UN ‘withdrew’ - you wanna bet?phials, anti-poison-gas injectors,antidotes to dangers to be met,& posters: how to cope with radiationwere hailed as ‘proof of clear & present threat.’duty-bound to free a captive nation?(ever think of rescuing Tibet?)oh. it’s unfair to hold you to that line...don’t bother to say sorry: just resign. there’s some bad bastards, but it’s no use fretting -ex-Soviets Belarus & Kazakhstan.our ‘hatred of dictators’ could not threaten Suharto, Burma, Saudi, Pakistan.adjust the odds, it makes for safer betting; where standards are too high, let down the bar.For Chile we strained the rules, left Pinochet in;Somoza, Marcos, Franco, Salazar,we backed; who claimed their right to rule divine,& never did say sorry, nor resign.Afghanistan: ‘we’ll never walk away!’you left them unexploded cluster bombs like food parcels - they go off every day! -to add to 20 million Russian mines.& all the billions that you said you’d pay keeps war lords ruling as in former times.the bulk of it is mis-spent, gone astray,they don’t add up, the economic sums.‘damage limitation?’ not this time.don’t bother to say sorry: just lied about the poison factories; lied about their nuclear capacity;on links to Al Qaida came a freeze -‘Bush yes, Blair no (gulp gulp)’; it took audacity...‘45 minute standby’ - there’s a wheeze -‘imminent threat!’ in coping with this facet we might have bypassed other forgeries -‘uranium from Niger?’ sheer mendacity!you’ve been found out, you’ve overstayed your time,so do what Denis Healy said: resign you lied. you said it wasn’t about oil. you bellowed this until your face turned blue.& yet, available to any literate child: what Goldstein said to Bush’s cronies (whom,cringe-making, blatant, we will not imbroil)‘after the war the inverse will be true.’I quote the Wall Street Journal - your blood boil? mine does. we all could read it! so could you. maybe you did; it chanced to slip your mind? don’t even promise. do it now. resign.

This I perceive as Truth

Robert Orben
"I take my children everywhere, but they always find their way back home."

Are you worth saving?

There is an official study that has established each of us is worth just over £1.4 million. This is used to determine what, say, road improvements are undertaken with a view to reducing accident death. Roadworks cost £3 million and estimated to save two lives? Tough.

This is just a calculation of death costs. Doubtless there is another annexure that values most forms of disabling accidents. Just I have not found it.

And we have a medical costs watchdog recommending - nay, imposing cost controls on vital medication proven to extend life or life's compos mentis

Sunday, 22 October 2006

Christians have Prophets too

A quote

Here is the means of showing that the immigrant communities can organise to consolidate their members, to agitate and campaign against their fellow citizens, and to overawe and dominate the rest with the legal weapons which the ignorant and the ill-informed have provided. As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’. , Enoch Powell, April 20th , 1968

Nerd is a state of mind

I am nerdier than 41% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Small experiment

Try this. See if the link below in the Guest bit actually works. Be nice if so as it would allow wider dissemination of some things that listeners from deepest whereever do not get chance to hear.

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I've kept it just a straight address rather than a link.

Heard over the garden wall

This comes from a blogger rather than an official document so .... well you know what I'm getting at. Only the Bible claims to be Gospel truth. However, it does suggest that what we hear about turning things over to Iraqi control does have a number of yes but, no but about it. This was written by a NYT staffer after Mr Bush's video-conference day or two ago.
Details of the blueprint, which is to be presented to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki before the end of the year and would be carried out over the next year and beyond, are still being devised. But the officials said that for the first time Iraq was likely to be asked to agree to a schedule of specific milestones, like disarming sectarian militias, and to a broad set of other political, economic and military benchmarks intended to stabilize the country.
Although the plan would not threaten Mr. Maliki with a withdrawal of American troops, several officials said the Bush administration would consider changes in military strategy and other penalties if Iraq balked at adopting it or failed to meet critical benchmarks within it.
Frustration is growing among senior American military officers and civilian officials in Iraq and at the Pentagon with Mr. Maliki for his failure to move decisively against Shiite militias and on a wide range of other fronts. Even the implied threat that the administration would reassess its presence in Iraq may not be enough, senior officials said.In Baghdad, Iraqi leaders have been watching the discussions carefully and expressing uneasiness over the growing political pressure in the United States for a troop pullout.Tensions between Washington and Baghdad reached a new point on Monday when Mr. Maliki, who took office in May, used a telephone call with Mr. Bush to seek assurances that the United States did not intend to oust him. The White House said after the call that Mr. Bush had pledged full support for the Iraqi.
Mr. Maliki’s government has already announced its own set of benchmarks, including the establishment of a mechanism to disarm private militias. This week, the government removed commanders of the special police commandos and the public order brigade, both widely criticized as being heavily infiltrated by Shiite militias, in the first broad move against the top leadership of Iraq’s unruly special police forces.But the surge in violence in Baghdad and other places recently has prompted consideration of even more far-reaching steps. An American official said that one proposed plan was to give the Iraqi Army the lead role in domestic security, downgrading the role of police units.The Bush administration has emphasized building up the police this year so that they can take on the main role in providing security in many cities. The move would be another acknowledgment that the increase in sectarian violence in Baghdad and elsewhere has exposed deep problems with some police units, which have been blamed by Sunnis for carrying out sectarian attacks.
The decision about how far-reaching to make the blueprint is likely to be influenced by what Mr. Maliki and his ministers say they can reasonably accomplish. But American officials are discussing if they should specify whether Iraqi officials deemed incompetent or corrupt should be replaced, one official said. Officials are also considering a timetable for the Iraqi Defense Ministry to have in place systems for paying, feeding and equipping its units, jobs that are still overseen to a large degree by American advisers and by contractors, some of whom have not performed well, officials said.
So. that is the extent of the problem admitted by the Americans. If this is a route map to withdrawal, I'd echo the old Irish joke about the local asked for directions to another town started “If I was going there, I wouldn't start from here”
So what is it to do with me – an old and decrepit Brit? Well, our useless POTUK Billy Liar has tied us in with the destiny of the Americans in Iraq. He will play it strong here but he dare not risk upsetting that nice Mr Bush lest it destroy that understanding which caused him to lead us into this quagmire and kill so many mother's sons. Brit, Yank and – lest we forget – innocent Iraqis.

Wow! That's amazing

Seems that the Home Office bored with losing track of illegal immigrants, failing to appreciate just how many of them there really were, declaring people as violent and dangerous just before these people disappear off the official radar, have decided to go into the world of the bleeding obvious.

They have discovered that where race is a feature in a murder, nearly half the victims are white. And the point is? Confusion for those who go on about the poor blacks who are being offed left right and centre. Disgusted from Berkshire loses his bar room debating favourite about the murderous blacks. Does it matter who is killing whome in what proportion? Murder is murder regardless of whether the victim is black, white or khaki. Some action here by the Home Office would be nice. Old figures but I doubt there has been any disparate changes.

My daily reading encompasses some 200 blogs and almost all the online newspaper media. I am now coming to the conclusion that I will never understand what today's life is all about. To appreciate all the sadness, prejudice, ignorance, false pride and bitterness one would need to be a one legged, black, single parent lesbian mother of a disabled child, member of a minority religion, unemployed, child minder free individual living in a damp and dirty flat on a high rise sink estate. Everything seems to be about one of these multiple personalities. Oh - or maybe add ex-captain of England footer team and soon to be ex-wife of a Beatle.

Grass is greener on the other side

Guest thingy today is regarding a couple who plan to move from one side of a river to the other. From England to Scotland. Not exactly Mexico to Texas perhaps but they think they will face the same cultural and economic gains.

I went through the same process some five years ago. The cliche comment, I suppose, is And Never Regretted It. For us - cliche or no, it is the plain truth. I came here because I thought devolution would soon lead on to independence. From time spent working and on many holidays at the very top right hand corner of England, I knew I could endure any problems that London-based friends recounted to me.

It is just the quality of life. Nothing political. No 'we wuz robbed over the oil' sympathy. The choice and range of food is stupendous. I have no need to rail against Tesco; we shop at farm shops where the produce still has the earth on it or is that dark colour that properly treated meat has. No supermarket red lights there. I have had need to try the medical services both at routine GP and blue lights to A & E. Far far more satisfactory than the GP I had who communicated by speaking to his wife in a mix of Arabic and German and she then spoke to me. I knew enough of both to frame my questions but I was almost unique. My visit there to A & E at the time the ticker went slow kept me on a trolley for 5 hours with no more than 2 aspirin.

The people are very friendly. Within a year almost every tradesman in the village knew us by christian and surname, where we lived and recognised my dog as well. The chemist knows my weaknesses and medication better than I do. The GP recently gave me prescripton at a very elevated strength to short-circuit a deep deep depression. The chemist would not let me have it until he had checked with the GP that there had been no mistake and we both knew what might be a side effect. Dahn sarf, all one might expect was that the assistant in the chemists would wave the bottle of Night Nurse roughly in the direction of the trained person and that was all they cared.

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Mind you, I suppose coming from a wooden hut in Northumberland where even the frost freezes, Scotland will be an improvement