Friday, 19 December 2014

Women on the Front line

A Ministry Defence source says: 'there is a real desire among Ministers and the military to open up ground combat roles to women . There is a genuine hope this will become a reality by 2016'

So how many lies are there in that sentence. One at least - I have spoken to many soldiers of all ranks and have yet to hear any single soldier express any such 'desire' at all.  Anybody who has ever been a soldier knows this is political correct madness which will have a negative effect on the combat ability of front line troops. So why do it? well it is all part of the great 'Modernise Britain ' campaign so ably promulgated by our Prime Minister but I just wonder whether anyone has even thought of what risks women on the front line might actually face when push comes to shove and the bullets start flying - death or injury sure that is a given - but - frankly- I wouldn't want to be a woman front line soldier who ended up a prisoner of ISIS and I wouldn't like to be the Minister explaining how this state of affairs has been allowed to happen. .    

No doubt that same lying spokesman from the MOD will maintain that 'standards of fitness and strength and stamina' will not be jeopardised in pursuit of our Dave's aim of  making the army more 'inclusive' well pull the other one will you - because we all know that that is exactly what will happen.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

London house prices and Boris

On a visit to London I picked up the Evening Standard - two articles caught my eye. In one Sam Leith reported that ; "...even thirty somethings - the sort you would expect to be life blood of the up and coming fringes of the city - are fleeing to Birmingham, Nottingham and Oxford in search of affordable housing and agreeable lives."

Turning a few pages I came across a picture of a T shirt clad Boris Johnson (not a pretty sight) who was in Kuala Lumpur where - surprise, surprise - the developers of  Battersea Power Station are staging a road show to sell the properties to the Malaysian rich

Now I'm sorry but if I was Mayor of London I would be seriously concerned about Sam Leith's piece -which he wrote on the back of a report form the Office of National Statistics who found 60,000 people in their thirties left the capital in the year to June.  In fact so concerned would I be about the ridiculous level of house prices in London that instead of promoting sales of the Battersea Power Station development in Malaysia I would have thought his time would be better spent in lobbying the Prime Minister to look at bringing in legislation to either heavily tax foreigners buying property in London or to restrict foreigners right to buy in London - and by the by - don't tell me it can't be done because the Swiss do it rather well.

High property prices are not a boom - they are a curse. Walking round London last night through Kensington and Chelsea  whole streets are in darkness with hardly a light showing in blocks of flats or rows of houses - so many are now owned by rich foreigners as 'investments.' Simple Edwardian terrace houses in Battersea and Fulham are now routinely fetching well over £1.0 million making them unaffordable to all but the highest paid and all Boris does is promote more sales of London property to more absentee so called 'investors' -it is a bad joke.

Friday, 21 November 2014


Plymouth gin -is - surprise- distilled in Plymouth and is currently the only gin with a Geographic Indication (GI) which means that it can only be made within the city boundary and with specific ingredients.

Sadly the company was sold some years ago to the ghastly overseas conglomerate Pernod Ricard a spokesman  of which said: ".... the company has realised it is not in the best interests of Plymouth gin to retain GI status."

Pass the sick bag. what he meant is that to say is this:

"We smelly French want to exploit the Plymouth Gin brand and make as much money out of it as possible and the easiest way of doing that is by distilling it where it is cheapest and most convenient for us to do so - which is not -actually in Plymouth - as we don't give a stuff for Plymouth or it's people."

Could Pinault Ricard's determination to devalue the name and brand of Plymouth gin have anything to do with the fact that for generations it has been the favourite drink of the Royal Navy and -if you want a laugh - ask Google to list French naval victories over the Royal Navy- there just aren't any.

The people of Plymouth, the Royal Navy and anyone else interested in the unique heritage of Plymouth gin must unite to fight the ghastly French and ensure that Plymouth gin remains unique to Plymouth . 

Monday, 27 October 2014


A very bright daughter of a friend told me she was going to read Geography at University.  I couldn't resist asking her a simple 'prep school' geography question ; 'Where is the Gobi Desert?'   Now actually the Gobi Desert is not some tin pot little affair but covers some 500,000 square miles of Northern China as well as a fair chunk of Mongolia but she looked at me blankly and hadn't a clue what continent it was in let alone what countries . I tried another question; 'where is the Mekong river? ' another blank stare.

What on earth do they teach in schools nowadays?  When I did my common entrance aged 12 an important part of the paper was a map of the world on which you had to identify certain rivers, mountain ranges, countries and such like.  Virtually every twelve year old in my class would have been able to pinpoint both the Gobi Desert and the Mekong river on that map but this very intelligent eighteen year old couldn't do either.

And that perhaps is what's wrong with so much modern teaching - there are no foundations. No one makes children learn the names of countries, capital cities, oceans, and deserts in Geography any more, just as no one makes children learn the kings and queens of England and important dates any more. No one either - apparently - makes children learn poetry any more either but then the poetry which is taught in school is banal boring modern blank verse so it is hardly surprising everyone switches off in class.  Teach the children proper poetry - The Charge of Light Brigade by Tennyson, the Pied Piper by Browning or Lepanto by Chesterton to give but three examples and they would be a very poor lot of children who wouldn't be gripped and inspired but that would never do would it -these poets wrote poems everyone could enjoy without having them explained to them by so called experts so clearly they are not good and -even worse- they are not - that awful word - relevant    .

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Anniversary of the Hanoverian Succession

This coming Monday (Oct 20th ) is the 300 th anniversary of one of the most momentous events in British history yet no great parades through London are planned, no service of thanksgiving, not even a special issue of commemorative stamps.  Yet arguably what happened 400 years ago was one of most important occurrences not only in the history of Britain but in the history of the world. It was of course the accession of King George I, the Elector of Hanover, to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland.

Yet it so nearly did not happen. The Tories and much of the country at large hankered for the return of the Stuarts in the person of The Old Pretender, the son of the deposed James II.The Jacobites though lost through a mixture of indolence, overconfidence, and bad luck but it was a close run thing.  If they had prevailed and the Old Pretender had been crowned James III then the 18th century might have been very different. Instead of Great Britain becoming embroiled in war after war against France we might, instead, have allied ourselves with France against the likes of Prussia and Hanover. Think on that.  If France had been an ally then no French help would have been given to the American colonists in their War of Independence. Canada would have remained French, France would not have bankrupted herself in wars with Britain and therefore the French Revolution would not have happened.    

But instead of glamorous Stuarts we opted four hundred years ago for stupid boring Germans and by God they were all that and more. George I arrived with his two ugly mistresses, one of whom he created duchess of Kendal and the other countess of Darlington.  the duchess was tall and thin and immediately nicknamed the Maypole while the countess was small and fat and thus was called the elephant.

But it was to the sheer stupidity of the four George's, and to the first two's idleness in delegating all the business of government to such a clever man as Sir Robert Walpole, that caused the rapid transfer of power during the 18th century from the Crown to an elected Parliament and the development of that unique British invention - the Constitutional Monarchy.  Food for thought I think you will agree and surely one of histories big 'What If's' - is it worthy though of a celebration?  I cannot warm to the Hanoverians I'm afraid, they had no 'style' - no glamour- they were dullards all. No I am a romantic and the Stuarts for all their faults had style, they had romance and they were one and all glamorous so I for one would not be celebrating in any case but I am surprised that no else is.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Mansion tax and Property prices

Markets are supposed to be efficient.  But, just at this moment, London  residential property prices, seem to demonstrate that they are anything but.  The Labour Party is totally committed to the economically illiterate 'mansion tax' which they plan to levy on all properties worth over £2.0 million at a rate of 2%.  The Labour Party is also, despite it's inept leadership, quite likely to form the next government either on its own or with the help of what's left (not much I suspect) of the Liberal Party.

So - all things being equal- within rather less than a year a £3.0 million London house could be subject to a annual tax of £60,000! Now -in that event what happens to it's capital value? - come on thicko - think back to you basic maths and basic economics. It is going to collapse in value isn't it? In fact it is going to fall at the very least by just over a £1.0 million- taking it below the £2.0 million threshold but possibly by even more - why so?  Because all houses above it in value will also see their values collapse.  In other words the £5.0 million house which would, if its value did not change, carry an annual tax burden of £100,000 will also fall by at least £3.0 million.  Why the collapse in its value?  Because £100,000 represents an annual yield of 2.5% on £4.0 million.  In short you cannot expect capital values of London property at any level to be unaffected by the imposition of this ridiculous tax. So why are investors not baling out as fast as they can? It is a mystery to me.

An even bigger mystery is why there are 25,000 luxury homes either in development or planned with, a today's completion value, of £60 billion i.e. with an average value of over £2.0 billion.  Now it maybe that developers and owners of prime London property know something you and I don't - that Ed Milliband hasn't a hope of becoming Prime Minister, let alone Nick Clegg. I just wish I could be so sure.  But to me it looks like a hell of a gamble. After all -frankly -the upside in London property has to be very limited while the threat of a 'mansion tax' makes the downside a black hole.  

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The new History curriculum and The Nursery History of England

So the teaching of history is to be overhauled and all children in primary school are to be taught a chronological history of 'Our Island Story.'  Well three cheers for that.

But if this is to happen schools will need to buy new books and - as luck would have it - I have a copy at my elbow of the very history book which every single child should be given as a basic 'primer' of history.

The Nursery History of England is probably the finest history book ever written. And I don't mean the finest 'childrens' history either -I mean the 'Finest' full stop. What is so horrifying of course is that when it was published, shortly before the Great War, every child in the land was taught the basics of British History and knew the dates of the kings and queens as well as the dates of the key events in the history of our Island. Now - talking to my children's friends - or actually middle aged adults -I am horrified by their complete ignorance.

So what is so brilliant about the Nursery History of England?  In one word- it is pictures. Glorious technicolour pictures as well.  Open the book at random and on one page there will be two beautifully painted pictures of events in history while -on the page opposite- are two short explanatory paragraphs.  My sisters and I poured over this book in our childhood and -if I close my eyes -I can recall many of the pictures from my memory bank. King Alfred burning the cakes, King Cnut ordering back the waves, King John and the Magna Carta, the Empress Matilda fleeing across a snow covered landscape and so on. All the great stories are here.

All right -I will admit - perhaps some of the sentiments and views expressed may jar with some of our friends in the Urban Metropolitan elite.  Take the final entry which concerns King George V's visit to India.

One of the biggest countries which belongs to England is India.  It is very hot and poor English people do not go out there, but just a few English people who help to rule the country. There are a great many Indian princes. A short time ago king George and queen Mary went out to India, and the Indian princes went and bowed down before them to do them honour. Some of them brought presents, and it was a very fine sight. The king and queen wish India to be happy and all the other lands they rule as well.     

Great Stuff - and absolutely true.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Vote for Bob - or the hypocrites of the RSPB

At the bottom of the page on the Daily Mail on line there was an appealing photograph of a red squirrel with the strap line - Vote for Bob.

Now I love red squirrels so I clicked on the image and found myself transported to a web site that - weirdly-has nothing to do with red squirrels but is a campaign site for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).  On this website under the image of Bob the red squirrel was the following:

'I may be a small red squirrel but I have big ambitions. I want my young - and yours -to inherit a world where they can thrive .....'

Yes - well so do I Bob - unfortunately you are not getting any help from the RSPB - rather the opposite in fact. It would have been far more accurate if the RSPB -instead of showing the appealing picture of a happy Bob -had shown  Bob being torn to pieces by a ravenous goshawk.  The RSPB is - actually - a bird organisation and not a squirrel one and near the top of the list of birds the RSPB is most keen on is the goshawk which regards squirrels as a special treat.

So far so bad - but even worse is the sheer gall of the RSPB in using an image of a red squirrel when it has done absolutely nothing to help save this endangered species from extinction in the UK. The red squirrel is almost extinct in England and is on the retreat virtually everywhere with a few exceptions where - the energy and skill of a few dedicated people have caused the red squirrel to make a comeback -with -it goes without saying - no help from the RSPB.

The key to the survival of the red squirrel is the elimination of the introduced American grey squirrel. Yes - get rid of the grey squirrel and once again Bob could ' ..have big ambitions'  and '....want his young to inherit a world where they can thrive.' But that ain't going to happen unless we learn how to eliminate the grey squirrel.

So what exactly is the RSPB doing to achieve this aim? Is it funding much needed research into the habits etc. of the grey squirrel with a view to improving our knowledge of this rodent and thus making our control methods more efficient? No it isn't

Has it issued traps to all it's wardens in it's reserves with instructions to zealously pursue grey squirrels with the aim of wiping them out? No it hasn't

Has it actually done anything to help preserve the red squirrel as pat of the fauna of these islands -No it hasn't.

So how dare it use Bob's image. Well it is the RSPB and has a total contempt for the truth about nature and has long got away with a policy of being - at best - economical with the truth regarding the world of birds and beasts.    

Monday, 25 August 2014

ISIS and the influence of Focus groups on Policy

I can't quite get a grip on Cameron's Middle East policy - if -that is - he has one. A year ago he was mustard keen to bomb shit out of President Assad but now he hangs back and wrings his hands over genocidal activities of  ISIS and does nothing except go surfing at Polzeath.

Of course he may just be feeling a mite embarrassed about his track record as a 'war leader ' to date.  The bombing of Libya did indeed succeed in getting rid of Gadaffii but the result is a completely lawless 'failed state.'  Whilst if he had got his way and bombed President Assad into defeat the likely result would have been a total take over of Syria by the very fanatics who are now causing mayhem in Northern Iraq with massacres of minorities on a truly biblical scale.

Listening to our Foreign Secretary - the accountant Hammond - on the radio -I was truck by a phrase he used when asked about the possibility of British Military involvement. He categorically stated that this would not involve 'boots on the ground' because;  'he was not sure the British public would stand or it '

The scales fell from my eyes - now I know where our strategy is made - not in the Foreign Office - nor the MOD -or even in Downing Street - but in focus groups!  Strange how politicians hide behind 'the British people' supposed wishes when it suits them but but ignore them when it doesn't. So- to give two examples - immigration controls continue to be joke and the activities of lawyers feathering their nest from the Human Rights Act continues to be a scandal  but politicians do nothing about either.

Looking back to the 1930's most historians are of the opinion that if the Britain and France had reacted with force to the occupation of the Rhineland by German troops Hitler may well have fallen.  Movements such as ISIS need to be squashed early and not allowed to prosper. Sadly the only way to achieve this result is for 'boots on the ground' as - frankly - the Iraq army has shown itself to be a toy town joke and the Syrians are fully engaged already.

It is ironic that minority religious and racial groups who have lived and prospered for two thousand years or more are now threatened with total extermination.  So I suppose we must wait for some truly horrendous massacres to take place in the new 'Caliphate' before 'the focus groups' change their minds and give our politicians the go ahead to launch a proper military campaign. Beats me why we bother paying salaries to our supposed leaders - who do no leading but instead -react.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Julian Brazier

A friends son came back from his TA drill night the other day:

'You know what Dad' - he said - 'did you know that in the last six months more Brits have joined the Islamic ISIS than have been recruited by the TA.'

Well I think that is a really interesting statistic and one which -if true - is going to cause the new Minister for the Reserve Forces -Julian Brazier quite a headache.

The appointment of Julian to this important post is surprising as he does not wear a skirt and actually knows an enormous amount about the job he has been given. Here I must put my hand up and admit that many moons ago Julian and I played soldiers together n and his knowledge and enthusiasm for the Reserve army is enormous.

My first memory of Julian is of him getting out of his sleeping bag on some cold damp Welsh hillside and we all -in amazement- stared at him - as he was dressed in silk pyjamas. He soon learnt though.  

Cabinet Reshuffle - A big kick in the crutch to rural England

So now we really know what David Cameron really thinks of rural England. He has sacked the best Environment secretary there has been for aeon's and replaced him with a 38 year old bit of hot totty called Elizabeth Truss. Just how disastrous this sacking is for the countryside is evident by the way all the usual suspects have welcomed it - so step forward the Badger trust, The RSPB ,Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Wildlife Trust all organisations which are totally committed to ensuring that rural England is administered according to the ignorant prejudices of the urban 'hug a bunny' brigade. Well done Mr Cameron, you have just given everyone who lives and works in the countryside a very good reason to vote UKIP in the next election - if you don't give a fuck about us - why should we give a fuck about you?  

Friday, 27 June 2014

Suarez and that bite

I just can't get worked up over Suarez biting the Italian Chiellini. I actually think it was very funny and one of the highlights of the World Cup so far. Now poor old Suarez has been sent home in disgrace and banned from playing any professional football for yonks. Why? I mean what was his crime? It can't surely be 'bringing the gamer into disrepute' otherwise the entire board of FIFA would be banned for ever. So what makes 'biting' so much worse than all the other examples of 'professional' fouls, arm wrestling, shirt pulling, hugging, diving, acting hurt and other practises none of which seem to have much to do with football.

Also if biting Chiellini is really deemed to bring the game into disrepute what about Chiellini's attitude. If Suarez bit me in the shoulder my immediate reaction would be to flatten him - end of story. But not that drip Chiellini - who burst into tears and ran around looking for his Mummy.  How pathetic is that? and how bad an example to the hundreds of millions watching.

But then -frankly - that is what one might expect from an Italian I am afraid. Brought up as I was on a diet of historical  novels by the likes of G A Henty it is nice to know that the prejudices which he and other so deftly implanted into my young mind still hold good today. Europeans, especially Southern ones,  do not fight like men with their fists but like girls biting ,scratching and kicking and, when they lose, or get hurt, blub and run to Mummy.            

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Magna Carta and British Values

I am thrilled that David Cameron thinks knowledge of Magna Carta is a key element in the make up of 'British Values. I would though be even more thrilled if I thought he had ever read it, in particular that he had read and absorbed Clause 2.

For this clause is the one about Inheritance Tax.  Yes -I suspect very few people know that Inheritance tax (IHT) was alive and well in 13th century England, but it's true.  In the medieval world all land was technically owned by the king and only held by a baron or knight for his life. I say technically because the custom had grown that the king would always grant the land back to the deceased baron's heir providing he paid a 'relief' or 'fine' -in effect a medieval form of IHT.

King John had abused this custom by upping the customary amount paid by heirs to unheard of levels and it was this high rate of IHT which had incensed many barons who, just like most people today, wanted to be able to pass on their house or estate to their heirs.

The actual clause reads as follows:

If any of our earls or barons holding from us in chief by knights service dies, and at his death his heir be of full age and owes relief he shall have his inheritance on payment of the old relief , namely the heir or heirs of an earl £100 for a whole earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a baron £100 for the whole barony, the heir or heirs of a knight 100 shillings (£5) at the most for a whole knights fee; and he who owes less shall give less according to the ancient usage of the fief 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Our Defence - too important to be left to an accountant

About the only public institution still held in high regard by the British public are our Armed Services. So it is not surprising that the Minister of Defence - an accountant called Philip Hammond (where does the Conservative party find them?) wants to address this issue. It must, after all, be galling to be a member of a profession (politics) which is universally despised -but in charge of one which is universally admired. The solution is obvious - do something to further weaken the Armed Forces ability to do the job it is good at - which is killing our enemies.

Hammond you see is worried - not about the cuts to the Defence budget - needed to fund Cameron's pet Overseas Aid expenditure- nor about whether our severely reduced Armed Forces are effective, or about aggressive Russian posturing on the Ukraine. No he is concerned about something far , far  more important than that. Something so critical to our defence that he thought he ought to make a key note speech about and this is what he said:

" We have, frankly, a big problem. There is a big gap between what our society looks like and what our Armed Forces look like. The image of the military, I think, is still a macho image, the last bastion of male chauvinism. the reality is very different."

Yes Hammond thinks the time has come for women to serve in the 'teeth arms' of the army - namely the cavalry and the infantry.  Well that is an interesting idea but if he had cared to ask anyone in the Ministry of Defence they might have told him that at the behest of the last labour government trials of mixed sex units where carried out and the results where  absolutely conclusive - it didn't work.  

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Garden cities - a mistake

In order to house all the immigrants this and the last government have let into this country three new 'garden cities' are being planned for 'middle England.'  

Now why 'garden cities?' and what exactly is a 'garden city?' and is a 'garden city' a good idea anyway?

Let's answer the first question first because it is easy - if you are planning to cover tens of thousands of acres of land in little boxes why not choose a 'sounds good' 'sound bite' name for them and 'Garden City' fits that bill perfectly.

So what is a Garden City? Well, surprise,surprise the government doesn't actually know! The government apparently; ".... does not wish to impose any definition of what garden cities are."   You couldn't make that up could you.  You announce you are planning to build 'garden cities' but then admit that you actually don't know what a garden city is - even for this government that takes some beating. However Mr Clegg does think that perhaps a garden city might have 'biodiversity rich public parks' what incidentally is a 'bio diversity rich public park?' and how does that differ from say Hyde Park in London? - the answers is of course it doesn't it is just 'sound bite' civil service crap.

So the verbiage goes on but let's address the question of whether a garden city - whatever that means -is a good idea. I suspect most of us would think that a garden city will have a lower density of housing per acre than a normal city - obvious really - the more gardens you have the less houses you can get to an acre. But oddly I wonder if that is what people really want. Often I hanker city life. Being able, of a morning, to get up walk to a shop buy a newspaper and some milk and then wander back for breakfast.  Or, of an evening, being able to say to my wife; 'there's nothing on telly tonight let's walk to the cinema and then have dinner out.'  But garden cities are too spread out to offer you these advantages of city life instead Mr Clegg hopes you will get into your car and drive to your allotment which he thinks every garden city should provide for its residents.

Please -Prince Charles - will you do one more thing for us - give Mr Clegg a call and take him down to see Poundbury and explain to him why high density housing is so much more fun to live in that his ghastly 'garden cities are ever going to be.


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Healthy Eating

This has been a good week for me. Yesterday the Telegraph led with a story that one cup of Earl Grey Tea -which contains a Mediterranean herb called Bergamot - is just as good for you as stuffing yourself with statins whilst today it had a headline announcing that ten portions of fruit and veg a day virtually guarantees you, if not immortality, certainly a prolonged active life. Now I am writing this whilst sipping - approximately- my fourth mug of Earl Grey Tea and having just finished my third apple of the day, on top of three - small -oranges I had with my breakfast. Admittedly I share my oranges and apples with my two black Labradors, am I alone I wonder in having dogs which don't just love apples but simply adore oranges! But the clock has only just struck five and I have still got supper to come which will have a healthy quota of vegetables with it.

On top of fruit, veg and Earl Grey Tea I also treat myself to red wine at supper and now have at least one cup of green tea a day, a habit I have been introduced to by my daughter. Finally my wife and I both love olive oil and I have a fondness for smoked salmon and mackerel -oily fish which are full of something I think called Omega.g. Eating smoked salmon is far more palatable way of getting your Omega g than a disgusting capsule of full of  Halibut oil which I was forced to take daily as a child.

The good thing really is that I LIKE healthy food - looking at what I have written I see I have left out black chocolate and walnuts - which is not because I don't love them -it's just because I love them too much and - given unrestricted access would gorge myself and become fat.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Gay Marraige - Gay Divorce

So a milestone has been reached - and now past - Gay marriage is now legal.  Now for the next milestone - the first Gay Divorce!  For it was not only in the pubs and clubs frequented by the Gay community that this historic event was greeted with celebration - it was also in the hallowed halls and lodgings of Inns of Court where dwell that most despicable breed of lawyers - divorce barristers and their jackals -divorce solicitors.

I suppose it will be at least a decade or so before we can honestly say whether gay marriages are more lasting than straight ones. Currently some 42% of heterosexual marriages end up in the divorce court and it will be interesting to see if gays do any better but, even if they do, homosexual divorce will be a feature of our law courts in the future.

The good news for the vultures of the legal profession is that gays tend to be richer as they have no children to spend money on (normally anyway) - at the same time - when it comes to dividing up the assets of the gay couple- there will also be no children complicating matters and demanding that part of the proceeds should be reserved for them. 

Now, being the cynic that I am, I cannot help thinking that rich gays may be, even as I write, having their arms twisted by penniless partners into proposing marriage which -years later -they will sorely regret as they see themselves effectively robbed by, not only their ex partner but by a phalanx of greedy lawyers.


Monday, 3 March 2014

the Badger cull

Last week the BBC - who else - broadcast a claim that an independent report into the recent trial Badger cull found that it was 'ineffective and inhumane.'  Why the cull in the first place? Well badgers carry - and suffer from - TB (tuberculosis) .  If a dairy cow gets TB and you drink it's milk you are in danger of yourself getting TB. So all cattle in the UK are routinely tested for TB and any found infected -or suspected of having it (the tests are not 100% effective) are slaughtered.  In 2010 over 28,000 cattle where killed as a result.  It has long been suspected that the prime reason for the spread of TB among cattle is the expansion of the badger population as infected badgers forage and dig in pasture and thus spread TB to cattle.

Enough about the background - what interests me is why people are so angry about the culling of badgers. I mean most of the population seem quite relaxed about the need to cull and control deer, foxes, rabbits, grey squirrels not to mention rats so why is Mr Badger singled out for special protection? The answer is I don't know. All I do know is that in 1992 an Act was passed making it an offence to kill badgers and that since then the badger population has exploded.

Let's tackle the 'inhumane' accusation first.  Apparently - according to the leak - up to 5% of the badgers killed (by 'expert' marksmen) took more than 5 minutes to die. Now I find that statistic not only strange but frankly unbelievable.  If you shoot any animal and you wound it you do not just hang about and wait for it to die you put another bullet in it at once. Also badgers are not exactly difficult targets, with modern night viewing devices shooting, killing a badger cleanly should be a doddle and how-incidentally - did this '5 minutes' statistic come about. Was there an independent inspector at the elbow of the marksman - and did that independent inspector refuse to allow the marksman to give the badger a second 'coup de grace shot?  Frankly it all seems very suspect to me.  As for the 'ineffective' charge.  It is a little early in the day to call a cull designed to reduce the incidence of TB in cattle 'ineffective' 

What the badger cull row highlights is the fascist tendency of  animal rights groups - and bird rights groups for that matter. By fascist tendency I mean the belief that some animals or birds are superior to others - Eugenics in wildlife. So the RSPB believes that other birds are inferior to raptors -i.e. hawks, and is prepared to see any number of song birds sacrificed rather than approve the culling of a single Sparrow Hawk. Likewise the badger lobby cares nothing for cows needlessly slaughtered but sees badgers as some sort of 'master race' of the animal kingdom whose numbers must be allowed to increase regardless of the numbers of ground nesting birds whose nest it destroys or of the cattle it infects who must be killed


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Edinburgh - a potential Financial Capital City

The great and good of the financial world have been threatening financial Armageddon on the Scots if they vote to leave the UK but I wonder if that is right.  Savills kindly sent me a copy of their recent catalogue of properties for sale and I noticed;

'An elegant 5 bedroom townhouse on a charming listed crescent in Edinburgh's New Town conservation area. It has wonderful proportions, a superb roof terrace with outstanding views and delightful central gardens.'   Yours for £795,000 - yes only £795,000 in London the equivalent in the West End would set you back in excess of £10 million!

Not only can you buy a lovely family house for almost an affordable amount  but in Edinburgh there are virtually no Russians, no Arabs, no Chinese'investors' and - most important of all -perhaps - no French. Wow what a city? There is also a well educated and financially astute and able population. Add these factors together sprinkle on top the plethora of world class golf courses and grouse moors within easy driving distance, not to mention art galleries and oodles of culture and you have a potential cocktail which ought to prove almost too tempting for any financial company. The only blot on the horizon -of course -is Mr Salmond and his continual desire to show his economic illiteracy by opening his mouth and saying stupid things.  Remember though - the first Prime minister of Singapore -Lee Quan Yew - was a socialist and then - strangely- metamorphosed into the most capitalist of all post colonial leaders and built Singapore up into the financial power house it is today. Could the same happen to Mr Salmond if he ever gains the independent Scotland he craves?     

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

THE HERON - Penthouse or Shithouse?

I spotted this advert in the property section of the Sunday Times:  -

The opportunity to live in an exceptional space. Expansive residences
above the 30th floor with unparallelled views over London.
An outstanding specification and first class amenities throughout
Prices from £3.6 million   

This 'opportunity' is brought to you by 'the Penthouse Collection' at THE HERON EC2. The ad featured a  photograph taken from the inside of one of these Penthouses which, incidentally, featured a large pair of super sized binoculars pointing straight at The Shard -suggesting that one of the attractions of the Heron is that you can play 'Peeping Tom' on the equally mentally sub normal cretins who purchased similar 'penthouses' in that idiotic aberration of a building.

Actually I think that they shouldn't be called 'Penthoses' but - 'Shithouses' - because -if there is one thing which is absolutely certain -the sort of people who are going to buy into the Heron 'penthouse culture' are going to be absolutely top of the Premier League international shits.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Somerset Levels

I am a bit fed up with all the whining and whinging from the inhabitants of the Somerset Levels . Frankly it is  time they did some lateral thinking. For a start if you want to live in a house which is virtually at sea level why not build your house on stilts? It is not rocket science is it? Secondly let's be honest. The Somerset levels are just that - level - they are not -in short - a thing of great beauty or interest-  nor is the farmland of much value except, in the main, as grazing.

No the answer to the problems of the Somerset levels is not more dredging, drainage, pumping, and dykes but the opposite- flood it and keep it flooded. Imagine 30,000 acres of inland water. Forget the Norfolk Broads the Somerset levels could become a great holiday destination and revitalise the dormant economy of these parts. As for all those complaining house owners who whine about the fact that they are cut off - get a life and get a boat - and remember that waterside homes the World over always fetch a large premium. Make the levels into an inland sea and just watch property prices soar.

As for the cost it would - assuming compensation to farmers of around £5,000 per acre - be around about £150 million, chicken feed for an Agency which spent £31 million on establishing a bird sanctuary last year!