Ringo The Starr

I'm still working on a record of our sojourn in Manchesterland. Photos to follow.
In the meantime I recommend the new Ringo Starr compilation Photograph. Put a little Ringo in your lives. I was impressed by this review of the overlooked classic Snookeroo. Ringo himself has talked fondly of it. It was written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The lyrics (north of England etc) are quite interesting given the fact that Taupin (the wordsmith)was American and Elton came from Southern England (although his father came to work up here.

George is often the Beatle most underrated but we should remember our Ringo. August 18th 1962 means so much.

Guardian Gets It Wrong Shock

People often say to me 'Eric, it's all very well having a go at the Daily Mail, but that is like putting a bet on Jade Goody to win an Ugly Thicko competition. Well, today they have their day. I thought the following article in the sports section of The guardian was appalling. Not only is it pandering to the lowest common denominator but it is very lazy writing.


Chairman Blitz hires Hughes and kicks sensitivity into touch

Simon Blitz's claim that signing Lee Hughes was not a 'moral' decision is difficult to accept.
Lawrence Donegan
August 29, 2007 11:59 PM

Either the thespian community of these isles has a new Olivier in its midst or Lee Hughes, recently released from Featherstone prison into the promiscuous embrace of Oldham Athletic football club, really did mean it when he said this week that he would never forgive himself for the despicable conduct that caused the death of 56-year-old Douglas Graham in a car crash almost four years ago.
"I am not coming here [to Boundary Park and professional football] to be a hero," said Hughes, who served three years of a six-year sentence for causing death by dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident. He need have no worries on that score, at least not in the eyes of anyone who rightly judges that a man's ability to stick the ball in the net is a trivial thing in the greater scheme of life.
Nevertheless, Hughes's status as the principal pariah in an awful human tragedy may be under threat after the contribution of the Oldham chairman, Simon Blitz, who claimed this week that the decision to sign the player was absolutely not a "moral" decision. "For us it is a pure footballing matter," he went on.
Long experience has taught us not to expect too much in the way of good judgment from football club chairmen but this contribution from Blitz surely sets a new low.
Given that members of Graham's family had already publicly voiced their disgust at Hughes's return to professional football, the very least - or, rather, the very most - this buffoon should have said on the subject is nothing. That he said what he did, and that he said it on a day when he must surely have known that the emotions of the Graham family would be at their rawest, shows an absence of sensitivity, and a lack of respect, that could be interpreted as utter contempt.
As for the substance of Blitz's remarks, it would require us to accept that professional football is not bound by the same moral code as the rest of us. Of course, some within the game behave as if this is indeed the case, but it is not. And it most certainly is not the case if it means the feelings of a grieving family are overruled by the need for an English League One club to solve their goal - scoring problem. Are we being asked to believe that Hughes is the only available player in England capable of lifting the Boundary Park club out of their midtable torpor? And if other club chairmen embraced Blitz's approach and took it to its logical conclusion, where would we be ? Lee Harvey Oswald for Southampton? Mark Chapman for Chelsea?
The truth is that signing Hughes was absolutely a moral decision, but that Oldham and their chairman lacked the intellectual courage to defend it, probably because deep down they realised it was indefensible.
The player, reading a prepared statement, did say this on his own behalf: "I have served the sentence laid down by the law but nothing I can do or say can change what happened. I can only keep saying sorry although I know that is not good enough for some people." This is because "some people", though accepting the court's decision, happen to think three years is far too little for causing the death of another man in a car accident after a night out on the town and leaving the scene before the police arrived. It is because some people would argue that Hughes's debt to society would have been paid back in full if he spent the next four years - or however long his professional football career might have lasted - coaching football in the inner cities, or in another worthy capacity. Instead he has chosen to return to a full-time career in professional football, where his name on the Oldham team sheet will serve as a weekly reminder to the Graham family of their loss.
It is Hughes's right to make this choice, selfish though it may be, but it is Oldham's shame that they made it so easy for him to return to the game he has disgraced.

I once saw Lee Hughes play for West Brom, his home club against Tranmere at Prenton Park. After the match, we were astonished o see Hughes running away from the ground still in his WBA kit. It turns out that he had just learned of his father's heart attack and was getting a lift from fans as the team coach would not be leaving until later.

Nobody condones his actions. He killed a man. He injured another. However, the witch hunt which has grown since his release is irrational. I am, therefore, peeved that the Guardian allowed this populist nonsense to be printed. It is also disappointing because in the author's column in the paper edition, he makes an extremely good point in highlighting anti-Islam racist abuse in Scottish football.

The problem with the article can be summarised thus:

  1. Should our judicial system punish people harder because they have the capacity to earn money after serving their sentence?

  2. Should prisoners not be allowed to undergo rehabilitation?

  3. Should sentences be linked to career length? The article implies that Hughes should have to serve a further community penalty.

  4. It is crass to equate this crime with those of pre-meditated ones committed by Mark Chapman and Lee Harvey Oswald. Very bad journalism.

  5. The views of the victim's family are irrelevant. The law should not take them into account. If we were in that position we may feel different but the law must stand back from emotion lest justice judges one person's grief higher than another's.

  6. Hughes will be vilified by away fans when he plays for Oldham. (November 6th at Prenton Park).

Whilst it can be argued that the sentence was too lenient or that Hughes is symptomatic of a footballer with too much money, this article does neither. It is very, very lame. I was heartened to see that others commenting on the story felt the same. Hey, at least we can comment in The Guardian. Imagine trying to get a comment printed in the Daily Mail without wishing that Richard Litttlejohn was running the country. Oh, but I forget there is no bias. My friend told me.....

  • Please be assured that there is no editorial policy in place that would seek to prevent the discussion of both sides of the story and we value comments from both perspectives.
Tessa Batacharia Senior Communities Editor

The Asylum Lottery

It's been a couple of days since the rational and fair-minded Daily Mail has had a story on asylum/immigration but it comes up trumps today. It has chanced upon one of its favourite themes - wasting of lottery funds on foreign projects. The gist of the story is that a grant of over £400,000 has been given to an organisation to help successful asylum seekers claim welfare benefits. Unfortunately in DM Land, asylum and immigration are often confused into one.

Now, there can be a debate as to what the Lotto Good Causes Fund should be used for. We often see local projects which, on the face of it, seem to be suitable but are turned down. There is also the argument that such help should be funded from taxation. The Mail, however, does not seek to debate, merely to inflame hate.

There is also the rules that do not allow asylum seekers to work immediately. We have the potential of many doctors, teachers and business managers being wasted. The tone suggests that all those needing help are not literate. This need not be so. The Social Security legislation and process is very complex and ever changing. Having represented people at appeals tribunals I am fully aware of this. Also, lawyers specialising in other areas have little or no understanding. Many organisations that help people on welfare are voluntary bodies.

The DM bigots (as can be seen by the usual moronic comments) fail to understand that as signatories to the 1951 Geneva Convention on Asylum, we have a duty to these people. Don't forget this money is being utilised to help those that have convinced the authorities they are genuine. You can imagine how greater the furore would be if the money was to aid failed applicants.

Furthermore, we should remember the circumstances that brought this about. There was a collective guilt at the lack of provision given to those fleeing Nazi persecution. How often do we see the dead of WWII invoked to support an argument for increasing pensions or better health care. The irony is not lost. Take, for instance, our friend from Leeds :

They shouldn't be here, they shouldn't be getting benefits and we shouldn't be going out of our way to make sure they get them! Somebody PLEASE sort this mess out. Millions of men died in the two world wars and for what?-
Adam, Leeds, UK

Again I say to people in Leeds, if you see this cretin, point at him and laugh. He is a waste of air.
Compassion is alive and well and living in Hartlepool:
The lottery fund is supposed to be given to "good causes" sorry but helping asylum seekers to claim benefits is not a "good cause", most of them are only in this country to claim benefits that other countries they have had to pass through to get here would not give them.- John, Hartlepool

Given that the town became famous for the myth of a monkey being hanged because they thought it was a Frenchman, one wonders if there is any truth in it.

The actual article also quotes Ruth Levy of the Centre For Policy Studies. This is a right-wing think tank set up by Keith Joseph, the mad Tory MP whose prodigy was Margaret Hilda Thatcher. No mention is made of this. Most DM readers would be unaware of this and so give more credibility to the view as if it were independent. At least when Andrew Green of Migrationwatch is quoted it is more likely that people will realise he has an axe to grind.

The article also churns up previous misdemeanours. "In recent years, The Big Lottery Fund has handed out hundreds of thousands of pounds to help battered wives in Siberia and to a pressure group for prostitutes."

This is an interesting juxtaposition. Obviously no normal person would want to give money to help victims of violence or the oldest profession. I wonder how any mail readers actually use sex workers' services. Many are from Eastern Europe and are forced into this due to the pressures of the asylum process. Many are subject to assaults. Nothing to do with us, implies the DM, charity begins at home.
Of course this is the paper that employs Richard Littlejohn who said after the murder of Ipswich prostitutes, that they were "disgusting, drug-addled street whores" and their deaths were "no great loss". He added that for prostitutes, being murdered is "an occupational hazard" stemming from their own "free choice". Not a surprise is it?

Is it April 1st?- Peter Pan, Great Britain
Says the man with the made up name!

There is a ground swell of opinion that says we don't want any more asylum seekers until we have assimilated the present lot.Lottery money seems to be given to anything that seems too stupid for the Government to fund.Anything that stupid does not deserve funding.We have thousands of old people and disabled who would welcome funding, but don't get it, and what about the armed forces, I'm sure lottery funding would be welcome. It seems to be the criteria for Lottery money that the recipients have to come from an ethnic minority or outside the country altogether.- John Sizeland, Eccles on sea, Norfolk, England

You get the impression that Mr Sizeland could go on at length at this. Maybe he should get a blog. Or a brain. I am a nice person, really. If you meet me you'd be charmed I'm sure. I do not suffer fools gladly so I tend to vent my spleen at these people.

Whatever you call the fund the money is still being thrown away. Sack the lot of them and bring in Richard Branson in to run it- Roy Pedersen, Worcester , England

This used to be a standard answer to any question about improving everything in the UK, education, health, English football. 'If only Branson were running it....blah blah.' I'm sure that Mr B will be horrified to see some of his fans. There was the suggestion that the people could tick boxes as to where the money went. If this happens I will get a job in a newsagents and alter any DM buying lotto player's form to note asylum causes.

Simple answer: stop playing Lotto.- Jim, Sutton, England
from a simple guy.

The lottery should be for the benefit of needy British people only. The foreigners and scroungers get enough already...- Mark, Chorley, Lancs

I worked for a short time helping the 'needy' of Chorley. I now wonder if Mark was one.

What an insult to the people of this country! The money should be used to send them back!- J, cambs

Yet again the indigenous population who have worked hard and contributed for years are raped of their taxes, national insurance contributions, local services and the right to retire without working to the grave so that it can be given to those who haven't (and won't!).But hang on... think about it. After all, several million migrants can't be wrong can they - perhaps those indigenous ones of us who do contribute should follow their lead and migrate ourselves, taking our money and contributions with us. Our skills are highly sought and we are respected more elsewhere than in what used to be our own country. Now, where's that light switch?- Frank, Solihull, West Midlands

Frank has been reading my comments about light switches again. Note this idiot's use of the word raped.

Finally, the photograph also serves a purpose. It does not seem to be taken outside a DSS office but perhaps a detention centre. It is to give the impression of a long queue for the easy to get hand outs.

Birkenhead Park

Paris 2003

Poetry Corner: Football Pools

Poetry Corner

I was thinking about the apparent death of the football pools since the advent of the National Lottery in the UK. Although there are still ways of doing the pools online and in the bookies, Liverpool was home to Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters. The companies provided much employment in this area and the wealth of the Moores family (of Littlewoods) bankrolled Liverpool and Everton football teams for many years.

During the 1970s it was traditional for families to sit down in front of the TV watching World of Sport hosted by Dickie Davies with such entertainment highlights as wrestling and show jumping. This was years before Live football on Sky etc.

Apparently, the name of Tranmere Rovers was known to elderly women across the country as the draw specialists. Nobody knew where the team resided but that wasn’t important as they became the housewives’ choice to avoid victory and defeat in equal measure.
Then at about 4.50 the football results were read. People with no interest in the sport would eagerly await the scores to check their pools coupon aiming for the elusive 8 draws on the Treble Chance. In the Summer, Australian games were used with such exotic names as Wollongong, Juventus and Polonia.

This inspired the following lines as my poetic muse kicked in.

It Won’t Change Our Lives

Five minutes left to live like a peasant,
Eight draws are needed to make life so pleasant.
Wrestling from Rotherham and she yells at the baddie;
screams at the Haystacks and pleads, ‘Smash him Big Daddy!’

The choreographed farce that she finds oh so funny,
On the countdown to the outcome that’ll bring her the money.
Anxious, she scans through her coupon of ‘X’s,
and father looks on and imagines THAT Lexis.

Then the Mallen-streaked Davies comes onto the screen
to set up the quest for that Saturday dream.
Birmingham TWO…..Coventry NIL;
The Midlands derby won’t bank accounts fill.

Onto the Div. 2; the first having passed,
Will Sheffield equalise right at the last?
Three draws already and all on one line,
“Let Halifax tie and wealth would be mine.

But one late result, alas we must wait
for the teleprinter to seal my fate.”
Their far away battle was sadly delayed,
Not certain how they fared; no idea how they played.

Torquay and Cambridge, and Hartlepool too,
all level at 90, now what about Crewe?
The temperature rises as we reach Stenhousemuir,
two each, 2-2, all square is the score.

Hours seem to pass as we wait for one match,
For richer for poorer; four lives we can patch.
It’s over! It’s over! Down at Ashton Gate,
A penalty for Bristol by Little Man Tait.

Eight out of eight – it’s the big jackpot prize,
Claims: 24 points, we hear through the cries.
We’re mentally planning to use every penny,
A red car for Father, a brown horse for Jenny.

“We’ll be in the papers and say, ‘spend, spend, spend’,
Until the publicity (and cars) drive us ‘round the bend.”
The cheque’s on the way; the trips on the coast,
I glance at our entry I was meaning to post…….

It’s a sickening fact which I cannot ignore,
The right draws are still lying in the left drawer.

It may suffer from 14 year old's 'it was all a dream' syndrome ending but..........

A poem's a poem for 'a that.

Berlin - February 2005

Some photos from a trip to snowy Berlin a couple of years ago. Again. I'll add some notes of the trip when I find them.

It had been a longstanding ambition to visit the unified Germany's new capital and it is with some regret that I had not had the opportunity to visit prior to the fall of the Wall (Die Mauer). At the time of my visit, Berlin was covered with a thick blanket of snow. The cliche of Teutonic efficiency once again proved to be accurate as transport did not grind to a halt as it does in the UK. Despite the weather, I managed to pack a lot into a 3 day stay, taking in the usual landmarks and discovering some hidden gems. As with most of my sojourns, beer is always a factor; potophobia I do not have. Although Berlin has in recent years encountered financial problems, it still presents as a vibrant and exciting city. During my visit I wanted to see if there was a divide between the East and West (Ossies und Wessies) as there appears to be in the newly united country as a whole. The exodus of former DDR workers and students to the more prosperous West is well-documented, as is the economic cost. Berlin, however, afforded an opportunity to see the two faces in close proximity.

As any schoolboy know, JFK was funnier than George W. Bush when speaking in a language he was unfamiliar with. His famous speech at the western side of the wall, "Ich bin ein Berliner" literally translates as "I am a doughnut"! However, there is a long debate on Wikipedia as to whether this is the case. I have to say from the outset that I enjoyed Berlin immensely. Even though I was travlling on my own, there was never a sense of isolation or of being alone in a crowd.

Berlin does not feel like a major capital city in the same way as Paris, for instance. It is still quite reasonably priced and hopefully will not end up like the others. It has suffered financially in recent years but the city does feel vibrant nonetheless. Sightseeing is thirsty work so it is essential that every tourist tracks down some suitable hostelries to regain strength etc. I have listed the places I managed to visit together with some tips supplied by others. I was ably assisted by a couple of good websites but it is sometimes refreshing to stumble upon places by mistake rather than design. As I was hampered by the weather, (did I mention the snow?!) the latter came into its own. Berlin hosts a number of its own breweries but most pubs had a wide range of beer types.

Brandenburger Tor

The famous gate is an essential part of any tourist trip to the city. The landmark is often thronged with tourists so it was refreshing to be able to visit when the weather put off the hordes. As can be seen from the night photos, I was almost alone.
The Gate is the only original one left. and has a checkered and interesting history. It was designed by Carl Gotthard von Langhans who added the distinctive Quadriga (Victory driving a 4 horse chariot) to the top. It was plundered by Napoleonic forces in 1806 but later returned to its rightful place. It has been the focal point of many important rallies and events ranging from Hitler and Kennedy to David Hasselhoff!

The Brandenburg Gate looks spectacular at night and it is recommended to visit both during the day and after dark to get a feel of the contrast.
The landmark was subject to war damage and during the Cold War was left to decay in No Man’s Land. At the time of my visit there was a large mural depicting the scene after Allied bombs had found their mark. It was quite interesting as from a certain angle one could see the new and old merging.
The Gate is at the end of Berlin's most important thoroughfare, Unter den Linden. Around this area are lots of good restaurants and bars. Again much of this area was in need of repair and rebuilding after the final onslaughts on the capture of the city. It is commendable that it has been structured in traditional way so that it is difficult to imagine that the architecture is not original.


Another famous setting though not always for palatable reasons. The stadium was constructed for the 1936 Olympics and it still exudes a sense of history today. Although changes were made to the stadium for the hosting of the Football World Cup Final in 2006, it remains largely unaltered. The Olympic flame remains the centrepiece of the arena. The tradition of carrying the Olympic torch from Greece to the host venue began at these Games. Jesse Owens magnificently spoilt the Nazi Aryan supremacy dream with 4 gold medals. At first, I thought the Dirty Tricks Brigade had missed one victory off the Scroll of Honour but upon close inspection the relay win refers to the USA only.

When I turned up at the stadium, there was only a handful of hardy souls taking he guided tour, which involves a visit to the changing rooms and a view of the pitch. The ground is home to the Bundesliga team Hertha Berlin, perennial underachievers. Although it is very old compared to some of the new stadia built for the FIFA World Cup, it still looks impressive. It holds around 80,000 spectators. This should make for a great atmosphere but I'm not sure how this works when the ground is half empty, particularly as the fans are separated from the pitch by the running track.

The tour allows you to walk along the whole of the ground at upper tier level and you can visit the interior including the changing rooms and pitch side entrance.
As with many things, the price of entry for matches is much cheaper than the Premier League in England. Contrast the fact that you could watch Hertha v Bayern Munich for the same cost as Walsall v Darlington in our 3rd Division. There are still standing areas in the ground including the popular Ostkurve. I bought a Hertha shirt from the previous season bearing the name of Brazillian striker and hair colour devotee Marcelhino.

The Wall

The wall's dismal past is well-documented also. Not much of the original wall is in situ, having been either demolished or appropriated as souvenirs. One can also buy chunks of varying sizes from entrepreneurs, but let's face it, nobody can be sure it's not part of the central reservation of an Autobahn in Duisburg. (I wrote this years before the recent Mafia-connected killings in this city so this gives the phrase a more chilling aspect.) Lack of concrete evidence!

There is a pseudo-wall built near Checkpoint Charlie and whitewashed. Many of the foreigners I spoke with were of the misapprehension that this was part of the real wall. However, I understand it may be knocked down soon along with the memorial crosses to the victims of the wall as the land is owned by a financial company. Ah! the victory of capitalism continues apace.
Near to this spot is a long line of traders peddling anything from East German Army trench coats and slabs of 'wall' to Russian dolls and 'Find the Lady' games.

The photos probably do not convey the full horror of the divisive barrier but certainly show the grim nature of the structure. Not far from some of the last surviving remnants of wall is the spot where Hitler committed suicide in his bunker but this is neither signposted or easily reached. I thought I could make out the rough area from memories of TV documentaries and photos but wasn't sure. In any case, this was not high on my tour itinerary.

The Reichstag is another place rich in history. Situated adjacent to the Brandenburg Gate it is the main seat of government in the country. Of architectural note is the spiral glass dome designed by British architect Norman Foster, around which one can walk.
After taking a number of photos, I treated myself to an Italian meal at a restaurant on the Unter den Linden.


This is the TV Tower in the Eastern part of the City. It dominates the Berlin skyline. It was not completely visible when I was there due to the constant snowfall.


The Berlin Generator is situated outside the city centre in the eastern part. It is well served by trains and trams (Strassebahn) and this proved to be a godsend given the blizzard conditions I encountered on my trip. Most people who travel to this part of Europe will wax lyrically about how the trains run on time and this has always been the case in my numerous visits to Germany.

The Generator is quite modern and large. In snowy February there was, not unexpectedly, plenty of room. The situation may well be different in summer months but it does appear large enough to cater for such periods. There was a mix of ages in the hostel and there was a noticeable absence of rowdy teenagers. Whether this is always the case is open to question. Some groups appeared to be language students and some skiers. There is a bar in the hostel with reasonably priced beer and a pool table. In the absence of a karaoke night, I consoled myself with the easy task of beating everyone at pool. I think they thought I was a teacher due to my age. The hostel was a good base as it allowed for a late night drink after returning from elsewhere.

I initially booked in for one night as I was unsure at what to expect with sharing with up to 5 others in a dorm. This allowed for changing to a hotel should the need arise. However, I extended the stay a further 2 nights once I found it OK. I shared with 4 guys of Far Eastern appearance. They were always asleep when I crawled home and still in bed when I left each morning. Therefore, no problems encountered but it always remains a risk. I recommend taking an Mp3 player just in case there are loud snores in the dorm! Each room has individual lockers for valuables but I would always tend to take them with you during the day. More secure boxes are available for a few Euros. I have not been able to take any photos of the rooms (in the circumstances it looks a bit odd if people are sleeping and some English weirdo is taking snaps) but they are on the Generator web site. In the dorms they have bunks which is not to everybody's taste but fortunately I had mine to myself.

I did not make much use of the other facilities at the hostel, preferring to go into the city for the day. There is internet access and large TV screens which at the time were showing Champions League games. They had Arsenal's game on rather than Liverpool's so this perhaps gives an indication of the origins of the guests. On one night, I wore my newly purchased Hertha Berlin football shirt and this seemed to give some the impression that I was German. This provided some comic potential as a couple of young lads tried to speak German to me. I have to say that my German is very basic and I take it as a compliment that my accent has been taken as Dutch by Germans. However I can bullshit as well as anyone (working as a lawyer possibly helped). The guys then said that my English was very good! I also proceeded to give the boys a lesson in pool playing. Young people! Pah!


I am indebted to the excellent web site of Ron Pattinson for some of the suggestions for places to drink in Berlin. In order to do an in depth study, it would take more than the few days afforded to me. I did go in a couple of other pubs during the trip but they were not of any note and I cannot recall much about them and no notes were made.

Georgbrau Spreeufer 4, 10178 Berlin

This was an extremely enjoyable experience. It is situated in the Nikolaiviertel (a quarter near the Nikolai church and referred to as the cradle of Berlin) on the River Spree and no doubt it would be good to sit outside. Not in February! Downstairs I was able to get a good look at the brewing process with huge copper vats in a room downstairs adjacent to the toilets. The Berliner Gasthausbrauerien advertises 5 other local outlets all of which also brew on the premises. I was impressed with the beer selection, opting for the Georgpils and a Dunkel (dark) lager. I managed to talk with the main barman whilst there and he kindly gave me a brief tour of the brewing area together with a taste of the fresh nectar.

Helmut Newton Berlin

The eponymous hero of this bar, for the unitiated, is a world-renowned photographer of the female form. In tribute, some of his works adorn the walls of the bar. I don't know much about art but I know what I like! This bar is in an upmarket part of the city. Although I was not exactly correctly attired for the occasion, I persuaded myself that I should visit for a short time for academic purposes (grin). My long black cashmere coat helped disguise my lack of class to some degree as I was dressed for the weather rather than to impress. One look at the drinks menu is enough to warm the coldest visitor (it brings out a sweat).

The bar had a lengthy list of champagne with some at over £300 a bottle. I settled for a glass of non-descript Pils, which was by far the most expensive drink of the trip. I made the most of this by people watching and spotted a fascinating assignation between a middle-aged businessman and much younger girl. Look, I know I'm envious and she could have been his daughter but surely he shouldn't have had his hand there! Anyway, I managed to look totally touristy by taking a picture with the remote control. Viewers of a delicate nature should avoid thine eyes now (everyone else can order larger pics at reasonable rates). Not sure if Nannynet filters like it.
I'm always unsure as to whether or not to tip in Germany as there appear to be differences of opinion as to the correct etiquette. Some places include a service charge but they were rare. I don't tend to tip in England probably due to the crap service attitude (and because I'm tight) so I should have made do with my usual tip: Don't eat yellow snow! Given the prevailing wintry conditions, this was worth its weight in ice.

Zum Nußbaum Am Nussbaum 3, 10178 Berlin

This is also situated in the Nikolaiviertel and is literally a stone's throw from the church and near a souvenir shop with giant bears outside. Well, it's how the city gets its name.

Before mentioning the beer, it is worthy of note that the gents toilets not only had a chalkboard for budding graffiti artists (one had scrawled " Bush Go Home" as he was visiting that week, (strange how graffiti in Germany tends to be in English) but it also had a brilliant device in the urinal. This consisted of a football suspended by plastic that could be guided into a goal to encourage accuracy. This could be very popular during the World Cup and with those of us that like to visit toilets where the floor doesn't resemble the Nile.

The inside is quite cosy and the service excellent. it was relatively busy when I attended as it was lunchtime and there was an even mix of day trippers and local workers. As with many of the places I went to, I was the sole English voice to be heard, which is always a joy. My basic German managed to order a satisfying meal of beef and dumplings with sauerkraut. The beer was standard Pils but nothing spectacular. The snug atmosphere more than made up for this, as I was cold from walking around the area in the snow. Honestly, there were times when it stopped: when I was indoors usually.

I am given to understand that this pub was completely rebuilt after the wartime bomb damage. I am impressed with the way Berlin has so accurately recreated the past, thus maintaining a sense of history rather than tearing out the heart of the place.

Alt-Berliner Weißbierstuben Rathausstrasse, 10178 Berlin

Another great pub near to Alexanderplatz and situated in the Nikolaivertel near to the Rote Rathaus. This had the appearance of an upmarket cafe rather than traditional pub. There were many photos of pre-war Berlin adorning the walls. The stools at the bar were very tall but I decided to stay on one in order to converse with the barman. There were only a couple of customers in the place at the time (mid afternoon). I had a small glass of Berliner Kindl and a wheat beer before setting out for on another arctic trek. The barman was mildly amused to see an Englishman there in this type of weather. I noted back at the hostel that some people had stayed in all day rather than brave the elements. This seems a waste to me (like staying on a cruise ship and never going ashore) but of course, they could have been visiting for longer than me.

Cafe Thueringen

Thuringia is one of the lander states of Germany and this cafe/restaurant serves authentic Thuringen cuisine and drink. From Bratwurst mit sauerkraut to Dumplings. I also took the opportunity to have a Koestritzer Schwarzbier (a very dark black beer). It is about 4.8% and is my favourite German beer notwithstanding that it is sometimes seen as Frauenbier by some!

Stammhaus Friedrichstrasse 158-164, Berlin 1011

This is part of a very plush Berlin hotel: The Westin Grand. The Stammhaus is a bar cum restaurant and seems to be an attempt at creating a local pub inside the hotel. there is a also a more upmarket bar, Friedrichs. The place was quite full when I visited around lunchtime. I had a Kalbsfleisch buletten to eat and opted for a small glass of Paulaner Hefeweisse before trying the sweet Berliner Weisse Rot, which has syrup added to create the distinctive red colour. It is an acquired taste. The bar's situation in the affluent Friedrichstrasse was reflected in the prices but was not overly expensive (£1.85/2.60€ for 0.3cl) The food was very rich and could not be faulted.

To be continued

Tranmere Rovers 2 Brighton 0

Greenacre, Shuker

Another welcome victory for the Mighty Whites and another strike by Chris Greenacre. Yet again my pet theory of Tranny goals in the last 10 minutes not resulting in a points increase compared to the converse, proves correct. Shuker's injury time lob over the stranded keeper ended any chance of a Brighton comeback, but was largely academic. The result takes us to the dizzy heights of 3rd place. Leeds continued on their march from the bottom of the hill with a decent victory at Forest.

Coupled with a long awaited (3 weeks) triumph in the weekly trivia quiz for Team 'Mother And Child' on Friday, it has been a good weekend so far. There is the truncated Mathew Street Festival in Liverpool and the Wirral Food and Drink Festival to look forward to over the Bank Holiday period.

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

There is a poll in the Daily Mail at the moment about emigrating. This is connected to the current obsession with the number of people leaving these shores. The figure at the moment is 86%.

The question, would the last one to leave please turn off the lights echoes a famous headline in The Sun on election day 1992 when Neil Kinnock was Labour Party leader. These people still stayed here even after Labour won in 1997 (Phil Collins needed no persuasion to be a tax exile in Switzerland) and those on this survey will still remain here moaning.

If I thought we could get rid of these nasty DM readers I would willingly contribute to the one-way air fare. However, I wouldn't want to inflict them on other nations.
As regards the figures of immigrant and migrants, there is an excellent piece here on the 5CC site. This goes into great depth to show up the Mail for the manipulator of dodgy stats it is.

Cologne and Bonn : January 2007

Thought I'd start putting some photos on the site. These were taken in Cologne and Bonn in January of this year. My companion in crime was once again the well travelled Steve, who shares some of the blame for England's defeat yesterday. Members of the jury you are invited to look at the evidence. Twice the defendant left his seat in the Rose and Crown and twice the Germans scored. It is believed that he remained on his stool for the whole of the victories in 1966 and 1975. Various bondage techniques were utilised for the 5-1 victory in Munich.
Anyhoo, if I can find my travelogue notes I shall do my Bill Bryson bit later.

Cologne 2007 : Introduction

The trip to Cologne was booked in November 2006 after an abortive attempt to travel there earlier in the year. I managed to pick the only day in the year that Britain had heavy snow resulting in the closure of Liverpool John Lennon Airport . The cost with EasyJet was an incredible £21 return. There is an additional levy in the guilt felt at further damage to the ozone level. The same amount of money would barely pay for a rail trip to Manchester.

Cologne has been on my list of ‘must see' places in Germany for some time. It is twinned with Liverpool. I had travelled through the city before; I managed to visit the shopping centre in the main railway station for a couple of hours and beers. This, however, was the chance to spend a few days exploring the city.

One invaluable help to our trip was the guide to Cologne pubs by Ron Pattinson which can be found at (http://www.europeanbeerguide.net/kolnpubs.htm ), The Wcities guides (www.wcities.com) and the Metro program for the Palm PDA (www.nanika.net/Metro). (Not to mention my sub-O Level standard German!)

The Palm handheld computer is a great help as it precludes the need to take bulky computer hardware. It allows me to take and read notes relating to the trip, calculate currency conversions, and catalogue photos.

The Metro program is available for other formats such as Windows Mobile and is free! It is updated with details of local transport routes (trains, trams etc) for most cities worldwide. You can even get SatNav for these devices. However, as I don't use a car I've had to invest in new software that co-ordinates trips via footpaths, fields and subways. The latest Version 2.0 also includes updated information on uneven pavements (to avoid or sue over) and fast food container and vomit hotspots. But I digress.........

I was unsure as to whether staying in hostel/backpackers accommodation would be such a good idea. This was probably down to visions of some 1970s style youth hostel. However, the facilities in these places are quite good given the cost. I stayed in a great hostel in Berlin , which had cheap rooms, beer and internet access. The thought of sharing a dorm with complete strangers can be a daunting one. In Berlin, for instance, I was allocated a room with 5 Japanese guys. Every night I would come back to the room and they would be asleep. In the morning, they would still be asleep when I left so they may not have known of my existence. It was also very quiet notwithstanding the age group in the place. In any case, we decided to book a room for 2 rather than tempt fate.

And so it was that early on the Friday morning we set off for the airport.................................

From January 2007 Liverpool Airport's owners, Peel Holdings kindly decided to implement a new levy (the first in the country) for added security checks (£2 each way). This is in addition to the new fuel surcharge rate introduced by Mr Brown and the limits on hand luggage liquids (puts paid to my patented 'smuggling of cheap red wine in a ribena bottle to avoid exhorbitant prices on board scam'. Fortunately this was an early flight lasting 1 hour 40m, the security tax was not in place and the tax was not retrospective. I could go on for hours about the over-reaction of the authorities to the 'terrorist threat'. Suffice to say, any potential terrorists are probably laughing their collective bollocks off at the turmoill caused and we will all have to have ID cards. A little bit of politics there!

The flight was uneventful save for the "Welcome to Geneva" greeting upon landing. Ah! the life of a trolley dolly, international pop star or Rubber Chicken circuit US politician: if it's Tuesday it must be Tulsa.

The airport (known as Cologne/Bonn) is actually named after Konrad Adeneuer, the Mayor of Cologne in the pre-Nazi period. He was forced to flee by Hitler but returned after the war to become the first Chancellor of West Germany.

The city centre of Cologne is not that far from the airport, an inexpensive €2.30 covering the 20 minute journey by train. Passengers formed into two distinct groups upon arrival at the automatic ticket machines - the foreign visitors feeding in inappropriate notes whilst the natives hit the jackpot every time on the adjacent one.

Cologne Cathedral (Koelner Dom)

Cologne Cathedral is the major landmark of the City. It dominates the skyline of the city and is a good guide when negotiating your way home after a night out. It has survived despite the best attempts of Bomber Harris and remains under constant renovation and maintenance. The sheer size of this Gothic building demands a few hours to do it justice. There are guided tours available and it is also possible to climb the steps to the top to take in the view of the city. Throughout the day there are actual religious servies taking place and at periodical intervals, red-robed church officials rope off the main body of the cathedral to allow this to occur. Confession is also available for the faithful. The adjoining gift shop sells a number of items for the tourist including books and even photos of the German Pope, Rattzinger.

Basic leaflets outlining the layout and history of the cathedral are on display for an outlay of 1€. This seems to be based on honesty as there is a box for the money. Despite my aetheism, I found myself hedging my bets and duly counting out the coins. The same cannot be said for a fellow visitor taking the Spanish version! How costly that Euro may be in the final reckoning (even allowing for the fact that Spain does not suffer exchange rate blues as we do.

Whilst there we came across a Cologne tradition. On January 6th (Epithany) the city celebrates Three Kings Day where children dress up as the Magi and visit local homes to daub chalk on the door to promote good luck for the year. Some of the groups were accompanied by adult minstrels. Another bizarre sight when not aware of the meaning.
The Magi are of course very significant to the Cathedral. It is believed that they visited Cologne Cathedral and were eventually buried there in a shrine.

The Rheinenergie Stadion (home of FC Koeln) was used for several of the early games during the World Cup in 2006, including England v Sweden. I wanted to travel to Germany for the tournament but as put off by the high prices and the England intelligentsia section we call 'fans'. It seems that on the whole the supporters behaved well despite our usual disappointing showing. I was interested to hear locals' thoughts on the tournament, for which the Germans received universal praise for its organisation. From the people we spoke to, it seems that the English fans were, on the whole, well-behaved and friendly to their hosts. Unfortunately, when we visited, the Bundesliga was having a winter break so no games were available.

FC Koeln was relegated from the top division in 2005/2006. Despite this there were plenty of fans wearing their replica shirts which made a refreshing change from seeing the ubiquitous Bayern Munich shirts as in other parts of Germany I have been to.

No trip to Cologne is complete without a walk along the mighty Rhine. Although the river is less scenic in this section, it is still an essential place to visit. The weather and time of year meant that we were unable to enjoy a Rhine cruise and the cable car crossing near to the Zoo was also unavailable.

The Station Hostel helpfully provide 3 different tourist walks and we chose the one that followed the path of the river taking in the main bridges over the water.

Perhaps the best known and most distinctive bridge is the Hohenzollern Bruennen. This was rebuilt after being destroyed during the war. On each side of the bridge are statues of Friedrich Wilhelm IV and Wilhelm I (Deutz) and Wilhelm II and Friedrich III on the city centre side. Incidentally, the promenade on the Deutz side from the bridge until the Deutzer Bridge is known as Kennedy Ufer. Ich bin (eine) Koelner too! The bridge connects the old town of Cologne with the Deutz district, known locally as the Blank Side. Coming from Birkenhead I can understand their pain but as with the Mersey, the best views are from this side!

The Deutzer Bridge carries a heavy load of trains into the city. The railway station is one of the busiest in Germany. It is unusual to look at the bridge and not see a train entering or leaving the city.

Cologne Pubs

I was told that a visit to Cologne would not be complete without a trawl around its famous brewhouses where Koelsch is served. There is also the tradition of the Koebes bar waiters dressed in blue. These meisters of service pride themselves on being able to ensure a customer's glass is never empty even in a crowded inn. Remember that next time you are waiting for the privilege of ordering a drink in Wetherspoons etc. I am indebted to the excellent web site of Ron Pattinson for some of the suggestions for places to drink in Cologne. We did not manage to visit every place on the list but it provided a great base and also allowed for the discovery of others. The local brew Koelsch is far from the greatest beer produced in Germany. In many places it tended to be rather bland and unremarkable. The fact that most pubs serve it in 0.2l glasses does not help either. Most of the interesting pubs are contained in a small area in the old town.

The Brauerei Zur Malzmuhle

This was difficult to reach in the dark given the Heumarkt tram station in the vicinity. It was busy when we arrived and many were availing themselves of the various cuts of pork on the menu. We noted that Haxe, which had been listed as a house special in many a pub, was in fact pig's trotters. Yum! We had already enjoyed a sumptuous Italian meal not far from here so food was not on the menu so to speak. The beer was one of the highlights of the pub crawl as it had a distinctive flavour compared to the more blander Koelsch examples. Well worth a look.

Bier Esel

We managed to visit this pub twice on walks through the shopping precinct area. It was nothing special. The service was probably the slowest of all the places we went to. There seemed to be a bias towards the restaurant part of the pub and the kitchen looked quite busy. The menu indicated that most meals had been substantially reduced. The beer was from the Sunner brewery. However, the pub does provide a handy watering hole when trapped in the shopping area on a Sunday. (Surprisingly, the area was crammed with window-shoppers despite only food outlets being open. We came across an antiques/car boot type sale in the plush surroundings.

Peters Brauhaus

This was also one of the highlights of the trip. The place was very busy upon our visit and we were forced to stand at a strange shelf in the centre of the room. Other rooms were also busy and the surroundings are very ornate as can be seen from the picture below. The toilets were as expected here, immaculate. Most establishments employ the services of an attendant to maintain hygiene standards. To the newcomer the presence can be a bit off-putting.

Papa Joe's Jazz Bar

We visited this pub together with its sister pub. Both have distinctive décor. This had a small stage with live Jazz musicians. The lead singer had the broadest Scouse accent this side of Kirkby. I'm not a great fan of traditional Jazz but this was enjoyable as it was lively and a good finale to the night.
The second pub had a piano player. Either the piano need tuning or he was a great fan of Les Dawson's comic wrong-note style. There was also an animatronic duo which could be activated as a jukebox with songs such as Lili Marlene and Karneval songs.


This was an Irish pub which we visited to watch the Liverpool v Arsenal game. It was packed with sports fans. Strangely, it was not merely frequented by expats and tourists,. There was a large contingent of German Liverpool and Arsenal fans complete with replica shirts. The banter was largely friendly although this was perhaps the only place we encountered mild drunkenness and falling off chairs behaviour. There was one Liverpool supporter (in Karneval gear) who was bit of a pain with his constant singing but there you go. The pub served pints rather than the tiny koelsch glasses with Guinness and Kilkenny alongside Koelsch and Paulaner Weisse beer.

A good place to take in a football game and catch up with UK news but not for regular visiting. Prices were quite reasonable. Incidentally, my attempts to order in German were rendered totally unnecessary upon hearing the waitress's lilting Irish tones. I know, what else do you expect in an Irish pub.

Brauhaus Sion


Despite John Le Carre's description in his novel, it still comes as a surprise how unlike other capital cities Bonn is. It is only recently that Berlin has taken over the mantle. On the surface there is little to suggest how important Bonn was in economic and political terms. It gives the impression of an unspoilt little town. Much is made of the Beethoven connection but whereas Cologne has a plethora of pubs, Bonn is predominantly an eating place. We found it very difficult to find an old fashioned kneipe type pub. The University in the city is one of the most eminent in Germany.


Ludwig van Beethoven was born on December 16/17 1770. The original house in which he was born has been turned into a museum. As with Mozart's house in Salzburg when I visited, Ludwig was not in. There is also a Beethoven Walk taking in such places of interest as the monument above, the Minster, and the cemetery where his mother's grave lies. The statue was commissioned for Beethoven's 75th Birthday. an original score of the 9th (Europa) symphony is contained in the foundation stone. The words JCB and eBay spring to mind but this would be neither funny nor clever.

Bonn Pubs

The zum Beguestchen was the first proper pub we found. it served Kurfursten Koelsch. We made the mistake of sitting down at a free table only to be shouted out by a strange woman who pointed oout that it was for waiting staff. Therefore we ended up in the window watching the rain soaked shoppers outside.
Later we came across a Munich themed bar, serving Paulaner Weissbier and Pils. The barman was a friendly chap who took no time in making it clear his local beer was superior to the ordinary Koelsch. He also predicted Bayern Munich would beat Liverpool in the European Champions League. One day this Tranmere Rovers fan will be able to converse on the same level as those illustrious teams. One other thing to be said is that at least you get 0.5l glasses.

There are more photos to be uploaded to the above slideshow and further travelogue details.

England 1 Germany 2

A well deserved victory by Germany. (Jessica, I never thought I'd type those words!)

England v Germany

Only a few hours to go before kick-off. Although it is only a friendly, when it comes to matches between the two nations, the result is a matter of great concern. I hope to report a positive outcome later. Apologies to all my German friends but you are the enemy for 90 minutes! Anyway, the last game at Wembley before it was rebuilt, ended in a 1-0 defeat to Germany, so we owe them one.

I am reminded of the Monty Python sketch about Philosophers’ football (Greeks v Germans). Our team would be Locke, Bentham, Hobbes, Bertrand Russell and Katie Price up against Marx, Heidegger, Kant, Wittgenstein and Heidi Klum.

Let battle commence.

The Great Migrant Benefit Figures Fiddling

The previous post's message about Daily Mail Island is yet again brought home by another story attacking immigration through the use of dodgy statistics. The headline clearly invites the reader to believe that 1 in 6 migrants IS claiming WELFARE benefits. However, when you actually scrutinise the figures you will see that the number of people claiming benefits through unemployment is low. But the Mail is clever. It lets reader prejudice gloss over such factual niceties. Just over 4,000 out of 700,000 claim benefits for unemployment or homelessness. That's 1 in 175. The story had at the time of writing over 50 comments. Only one was criticising the story. Don't know how that slipped through..

Many of those cited in the figures are claiming so-called top up benefits like Working Tax Credits. Given the tendency for such workers to do low paid jobs, this is not surprising. Of course on DM Island any immigrants would not have a minimum wage or be entitled to extra benefits brought in by the Labour Government. Remember, the Tories opposed the minimum wage saying that it would cause unemployment. The reality is that it reduces profits for the capitalist piggies.


Strangely, after writing this, the headline on the story changed to reflect the supposed cost rather than the 1 in 6 figure.

Daily Mail Island

Inspired by the docufilm Super Size Me (where a diet of only McDonald's shit was consumed), a Guardian writer, Nick Angel has read only the DM for a month. The results can be see here. sometimes the Guardian justs make you want to make love to it. This is not always recommended as the ink is notoriously likely to come off.

A few excerpts are worthy of inclusion:

Millions of its inhabitants are malnourished, and danger lurks in seemingly innocent places - like milk, bread, and garden sprays. Ponies - yes, ponies - are slaughtered for the gastronomic pleasure of the country's neighbours. A Stasi-style surveillance state is secretly plotting to turn them all vegetarian, and to top it all there's even a Wicked Witch who - until very recently - exerted a malign influence over the nation's ruler.

And then came the next trial: actually buying the newspaper. As I entered my newsagent's on the first morning, my mouth struggled to form the words, "Daily Mail, please." It was as embarrassing as asking for haemorrhoid cream, and I realised how loaded your choice of newspaper is. If the Mail were a car, it would be a 4x4.

Most striking of all, a few days before the end of the experiment I realised that I had stopped worrying about global warming. For the Mail, it barely exists an issue - and certainly not as something to frighten us with - and this, surely, is the secret of the paper's success. Phantom menaces are given prominence over real ones. The anger it stirs requires no action, no moral or intellectual effort, but simply confirms existing prejudices. By painting the world as a dystopia, we cling to our own cosy certainties.

The comments section produced a couple of gems too.

How do you confuse a DM reader? Tell him asylum seekers kill paedophiles! Classic.

There is also reference to a Daily Mail Headline generator produced by a Chris Applegate, which can be found here. His blog is also worth a look. Go on, you know you want to!

Daily Mail Hypocrisy Again

I wonder how DM journalists ever sleep at night. I hope they all suffer the indignity of poverty in the near future and that they get Eastern European neighbours. Then and only then will they realise what it is like to be dependent on welfare, AND that the vast majority of foreign nationals here are law-abiding, hard-working and integrating. Anyway, enough of the rant and on with the evidence.

Cast your minds back to my post regarding the attempts by people not sharing the DM viewpoint and the racist post from one contributor and you can see why I am so pissed off with not being allowed to have my posts published. I also refer to the mealy mouthed response from the moderator. Of course as this would never happen at The Mail it allows them to have a dig at the BBC without the readers knowing about their own faux pas and editorial policy. I think this hypocrisy needs further airing.

More double standards in another attack on the Stalinist BBC. Or Bloody British Communists as DM eternal colonels would have us believe.

The whole article needs to be read for the full effect.

BBC forced to removed 'bastard' slur about Jesus from its website By
JASON LEWIS 18th August 2007

The BBC has been forced to remove statements from its website referring to Jesus as a 'bastard'.
It is the latest in a string of offensive comments that BBC editors have allowed members of the public to post.
The remarks have been allowed to remain for weeks, despite complaints from religious groups.

It has led to claims that the BBC is allowing its output to be hijacked by extremists while censoring anti-Muslim sentiment.
The remarks about Jesus were left as part of a discussion of the death of the Archbishop of Paris.
The debate had descended into an argument about the merits of Christians, Jews and Muslims when a writer, known as 'colonelartist', posted: "Are you a christian? You do know that jesus had to hide all his short life he lived in those promised land because his tribesmen used to call him fatherless, ridiculed him for being a B-A-S-T-A-R-D...'
He added: "Jesus...was also persecuted because the jews would never accept as their Messiah a person whose father was missing...'

The comments were allowed to remain for a week despite complaints. But after The Mail on Sunday contacted senior BBC officials, they were deleted.
Colonelartist is a regular contributor to the BBC site.
He has also written: "The jews in much remembered concentration camps had even better qualitity of freedom that these palestinians have...'
One website user wanted to see if BBC editors were allowing these offensive remarks to remain while blocking others. He wrote: "No one can surpass the Muslims for denial of their role in Terrorism and Suicide bombing." The remarks were almost immediately deleted.
The BBC has also been criticised for allowing allegedly anti-Semitic posts from a contributor called "Iron Naz'.
In a message left on the site for more than a month, Iron Naz says: "Zionism is a racist ideology where jews are given supremacy over all other races and faiths. This is found in the Talmud...which allows jews to lie as long as its to non-jews."
The remarks brought complaints from the Board of Deputies, the organisation that represents Britain's Jews and its Community Security Trust. They say the post draws on a discredited 19th Century text, the Talmud Unmasked, which is still distributed by neo-Nazi booksellers.
However, the BBC said the remarks did not merit removal.
A spokesman said posts were taken down if they were considered likely to 'disrupt, provoke attack or offend others or are considered racist, homophobic, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable'.
The Board of Deputies intends to pursue its complaints. Mark Gardiner, of the Community Security Trust, said: "The BBC obviously no longer recognises anti-Semitism. The BBC is a public body, funded by the British taxpayer. It has legal obligations."
Last night the Church of England also criticised the management of the BBC discussion sites noting that "voices of reason, compassion and charity seem to get little look-in".
A spokesman said: "Discussion - including robustly critical discussion - of any faith's doctrines and practices is an important feature of civilised discourse.
"But deliberately or recklessly offensive denigration of those doctrines and practices is unacceptable."

Then, the usual cretins queue up to comment:

When are we going to take the BBC by the throat and strangle it.-

E Pryor, Gravesend

I think you'll find that all BBC message boards are not moderated - edited - by the BBC itself. I'm sure that it has been sub-contracted to a private company and it would be interesting to see what qualifications or otherwise the people who do the moderation have and where they are physically located.- Baz, London, UK

In addition to this story there are another couple of beauties. Firstly, it has come to the attention of the DM sniffer dogs that custard creams have been demanded by asylum seekers being held at a detention centre. The implication is that they should be grateful for scraps the dogs leave and sleep in chains. Here are the usual sick views from the caring, compassionate and Christian Mail readers:

For goodness sake - send them all back to where they came from!- A. M., Dorset

Just what is being run here? A five star hotel or a detention centre? I suggest that if the inhabitants of the centre are unhappy, they should return to their place of origin.There are literally thousands of Britons on or below the poverty line and they can't even afford the luxury of a plain biscuit let alone custard creams. These people, if I understand correctly, have no right of abode and are subject to assessment by the authorities. Prison food with dietary consideration for religious beliefs is more than adequate.It is an absolutely appalling state of affairs when detainees are better looked after than the native residents of a country. This is political correctness gone mad.What next - limousines to the park on Sundays and personal masseurs with tailored clothing from Oxford Street?- Bob Down, Brisbane, Australia

Then another scientific discovery which turns out to be absolute crap. However, this has sinister overtones about the superiority of races and persons with blue eyes. Hmm heard that somewhere before haven't we. Ah yes, that nice Herr Hitler (supported by this very paper as he snatched power in the 1930s.

At least some comments have been made showing it to be scientific nonsense, but I get the feeling this is sour grapes from those with brown eyes. One or two posts hint at more worrying aspects.

Perhaps it is not eye color, but race?- Theodore James, U.S.

Do you realize that almost only white people have blue eyes?- Marco, Milan, Italy

This reminds me of controversy over race and IQ and in particular the furore surrounding the publication of the Bell Curve by Murray et al. More detail can be seen on Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve but the frightening aspects are the calls for the elimination or reduction of welfare programmes as such are seen as having a negative effect on net IQ levels. Social engineering by any other name. Dr Mengele your time is nigh, this might suggest.

Given the calls for tax cuts and the abolition of Inheritance Tax at the moment, these will have to be funded from cuts to public spending. You can see how this would sit so well with the greedy dullards that read this rag.

Finally, DM idiots are never ones to turn any story into a let's bash the Government and cut back on foreign aid, so here's a comment from Blackpool's finest inhabitant, Mr. Stanley. He gets extra marks for including the topical jibe about asylum seekers' biscuits. I think he knows how to spell 'spending', but he's just pretendind to be stupid.

Maybe we should cut back on the custard creams and spend money were it is needed? Let's look after the British people for a change, instead of fighting wars and spendind money on things that do not concern us, and we cannot afford.- Mike Stanley, Blackpool

It Was 45 Years Ago Today

Hulme Hall

On August 18th 1962 history was made at the above venue in the picturesque village of Port Sunlight, Wirral. Most of those present for the Port Sunlight Horticultural Society After Show Dance would not have known that the group topping the bill had just replaced their drummer, the popular Pete Best, with Ringo Starr.
This concert, therefore, was the first official performance by the Fab Four as we came to know them. The rest as they say is history.

I stopped by this venue today just to reflect on what started all those years ago (to borrow a George song) and listened to a Japanese Hi-quality recording of Abbey Road (ironically the last recorded album by the group)

Ticket and poster for concert

"And in the end the love you take,

Is equal to the love you make."

Gillingham 0 Tranmere 2

Greenacre, Davies

Our first three points of the season. From the radio report it sounded like we fully deserved the points. Another goal for the boy Greenacre and a peach from Steve Davies, apparently. Must look out for this on TV. After the disappointments of defeats against Leeds and Stockport, this was just the tonic we needed. Note to team: when you are 2-0 up you are allowed to concede a goal if that means getting it out of your system. Do not try this when drawing or leading by the odd goal.

I managed to catch the second half of Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich. Bayern ran out 4-0 winners. They looked superb against a side that finished above them in last year's Bundesliga. They did not seem to miss Hargreaves as they dictated midfield. There were some classy goals, the pick of which was a move beginning with a deft piece of skill in defence before sweeping the length of the pitch to score.

It is difficult to find Live TV on the internet but I managed it via Sopcast and TVU. Unfortunately, there are no plans for TRFC games to be shown.

Today is an historic day in relation to The Beatles. I shall post later as to the significance.

The Mirror Replies

I received the folowing email from the author of the Scouts story (see Mirror Crack'd) post.

Sorry it has taken me a while to reply - have been a bit busy. And I have taken your comments on board in the spirit they were intended. I certainly would not want us to pursue the agenda of the Daily Mail and I think, thankfully, we are still worlds apart. But the truth is thirteen of those registered for the jamboree were unaccounted for. It is correct to say the police said this was not suspicious - but that merely means because the youngsters are on visitors visas they had not yet overstayed their entitlement. In the recent past large sporting events have been used by some people to enter the country and then remain. We could ignore these facts but I don't think that does anyone any favours. I think the difference is that Mirror readers are intelligent enough to undersand that just become someone overstays their visa or enters the country iillegally doesn't make them the devil incarnate. It is a lot more complex than that and in recent years - unlike many other papers but especially the Daily Mail - we have repeatedly drawn attention to the reality of life for asylum seekers - stripping away the lies peddled by those with a distinct right-wing agenda.

It is impressive that the writer has taken the time to respond. I still think the story could have been less contoversial if it explained the situation better. However, it is heartening to see that comments are taken on board by the paper and its clear intention to distance itself from the Mail. A few years back the Mirror seemed to view the Mail as its rival rather than The Sun, which gave cause for concern. what is not in doubt is that The Mirror will continue to be left leaning. Given the circulation figures for tabloid papers it is more important than ever to offer an alternative to The Sun, Star and Mail.


Another dis-spiriting defeat away to League 2 opponents. A goal in 85 minutes (my theory is being proven right again) means no lucrative run in the Carling Cup. Memories of our 2000 Wembley trip seem as distant as ever. "We shall concentrate on the League (and other cups)", says anonymous supporter, stage left.

Daily Mail : Another Foreigners Story

(left) Was Jack The Ripper Polish?

It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
—Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

When I started this blog I convinced myself that it wouldn't turn into a rant against the evil Daily Mail and its barking mad readers. However, as I am a masochist I always read the DM online. In the past I was reliant upon seeing someone else's copy, but now I am affected by the radiation emanating from its cyber version.

Today, another story about foreign criminals rears its ugly head. The Mail helpfully included a league table of nationalities committing crime in the capital. It also had a clip art picture of a masked burglar in case any reader had any doubts as to what constitutes this crime.

I am trying to find the exact figures for the number of foreign nationals living in London in 2007 but there appear to be conflicting statistics. It is quite clear, however, that the number is a lot higher than the national figure. This is to be expected in any capital or major city, be it Paris, Rome or Sydney.

Wikipedia quotes the last Census of 2001 thus:

In the 2001 census, 71.15% of these seven and a half million people classed their ethnic group as white (classified as White British (59.79%), White Irish (3.07%) or "Other White" (8.29%, mostly Polish, Greek Cypriot, Italian and French)), 12.09% as Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or "Other Asian" (mostly Sri Lankan, Arab and other South Asian ethnicities), 10.91% as Black (around 7% as Black African, 4.79% as Black Caribbean, 0.84% as "Other Black"), 3.15% as mixed race, 1.12% as Chinese and 1.58% as other (mostly Filipino, Japanese, and Vietnamese). 21.8% of inhabitants were born outside the European Union. The Irish, from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, number approximately 200,000, as do the Scots and Welsh combined.

Although, Wikipedi can sometimes be less than accurate, it is clear that, allowing for an increase in the last 6 years after the entry of other countries into the EU, the figure of 30% is a good starting point.

Therefore, proportionally, the number of crimes committed is lower than expected. There are other factors to be taken into account such as social conditions. Whilst this in no way condones criminality, it is well-known that certain types of crime occur more predominately in certain areas. Indeed, it is often the poorer people who are the victims; not many thieves are Robin Hood devotees.

Foreigners commit 20 per cent of crime in London, say police

14th August 2007

More than one in five crimes committed in London in the first six months of this year were carried out by a foreign citizen, new police figures have revealed.
During the period there were 22,793 crimes in the capital for which a foreign national has been charged.

More than a quarter were violent offences, ranging from murder to assault. There were also nearly 6,000 drug offences, 414 sex crimes, 522 robberies and almost 1,000 burglaries.
The highest number of offences were carried out by Poles, charged with 2,310 crimes between the start of January and the end of June.

Jamaicans, Irish nationals, Somalians and Romanians - accused of more than 1,000 crimes - had the next worst levels of offending.

The figures, released by the Met under the Freedom of Information Act, will fuel debate about the Government's immigration policy.
Ministers insist the large influx of foreign nationals has significant economic benefits, despite concerns about the pressure on services.

But shadow immigration minister Damien Green described today's figures as disturbing.
"This is a fairly shocking side effect of the lack of control of our borders and the sheer numbers of people coming to Britain," he said.

The new statistics cover the number arrested and charged for "notifiable offences" - those which are more serious - and show a total of 106,678 crimes.
Of these, 82,459 were committed by Britons with a further 1,426 carried by people of "unknown" nationality, leaving foreign nationals responsible for the remaining offences.
Seven EU members - Poland, Ireland, Romania, Lithuania, France, Portugal and Italy, all of whose citizens are free to travel to Britain - feature in a list of the 20 nationalities responsible for the highest number of offences.

Among the Poles, 583 were charged with violent crimes, 32 with sex offences, 201 with burglary, 635 with theft or handling and 626 with drug offences.
Drug crime accounted for around half the Italian and French totals, while the Irish were responsible for the highest level of burglary with 403 recorded offences.
The main crime committed by Romanians, whose working rights in the UK are severely restricted, was theft or handling with 695 such offences.
Among non-EU citizens, Jamaicans have the highest level of offending with 1,750 crimes during the six month period covered by the figures.

Of these, 770 were drug offences, while there were also 425 violent crimes, 28 sex offences and 42 robberies by Jamaican passport holders.
The worst fraud total was recorded by Nigerians, with 275 crimes, while Somalian nationals were also among the most frequent offenders.

The Met's decision to begin recording the nationality of offenders follows a Home Office request made after the row last year over the Government's failure to consider more than 1,000 foreign national prisoners for deportation.

Then let the dogs out...................................(my snide remarks are in bold in parentheseis)

Anyone pointing out the many disadvantages of the Government's immigration policy is routinely pilloried as a racist. By preventing a national debate on this issue the Government is only storing up future problems. All it will take is a serious recession and the far right parties will have a field day. This Government overestimates British tolerance and underestimates the speed at which tipping points are reached. A Government that was more aware of British, European and World history, as well as some of the more recent findings of the social sciences, would adopt a far more cautious approach. It is not even true to say that we have always been tolerant. We only became so towards the end of the 19th century and even then only in a limited way. Most of the changes that have taken place since WWII have only just about managed to stay on the right side of the tipping point. So far, so good but professional gamblers know when to quit before their luck runs out.-

Mark, Poplar London England

(This pillock from London, England is a regular with his little Englander bile. He seems to imply that we should return to the middle of the 19th Century before our 'tolerance' got the better of us. What planet is this lunatic on?)

I am so glad at last somebody has dared speak the truth. But we are still letting them flood into the country, when are we going to learn.- Jacqui Weems, Southampton

(There's no show without Punch! When are you going to learn to use the correct PUNCTUATION, Jacqui?)

I can't wait for Richard Littlejohn to get his teeth into this!- Steve, Birmingham

(Littlejohn is probably wetting his thermal underwear at the very thought. Steve, next time I go to Birmingham, please stand near me so I can laugh and point at you.)

I feel better now.

Another foreigner in Britain?

The Mail also had a story which also appeared in the Guardian (see below). Rather interestingly, whereas the crime figures story had 22 cooments from salivating mongrels, there were no comments about the plight of immigrant workers. A collective "Fuck 'em" could be heard from the DM rottweilers.

Gangmaster shut down for mistreating workers

August 14, 2007 Guardian Unlimited

Forty Bulgarian workers were forced to scavenge for food in fields when their Cornish gangmaster failed to pay them for more than a month, it emerged today.

The Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) said it had revoked the licence of Baltic Work Team Ltd, of Redruth, after finding a "significant threat to the health and welfare of employees".
"They had to scratch around in the fields to find things to eat, there were improper reductions and we had to act because of the threats the firm was making to the workers," said the GLA chairman, Paul Whitehouse.

He told the BBC's Farming Today that the "terrified" workers were being threatened by their employer with being sent back to Bulgaria if they did not pay a £100 deposit.
"It is unacceptable that the workers were left to scavenge in fields for food as they had not been paid for 35 days," Mr Whitehouse said. "It was only through the intervention of the GLA that the workers finally got their money."
The firm had already had its licence revoked but was allowed to continue trading until August 24 at an appeal hearing. The decision to revoke the licence with immediate effect came after a second investigation into the firm.

"Baltic must stop trading immediately. I find it incredulous that a business who had been given the chance at the appeal hearing to put their house in order and re-apply for a new licence would not take this opportunity," Mr Whitehouse said.

Baltic Work Team Ltd has a right of appeal against the revocation of its licence.
Anyone who supplies workers to the agriculture, shellfish gathering, food and drink processing or packaging sectors in the UK needs to be licensed by the GLA or they risk prosecution and up to 10 years in prison.

It is also an offence to use labour supplied by an unlicensed gangmaster in GLA-regulated sectors. The maximum penalty is a £5,000 fine and six months in prison. The legislation was introduced last year.