The fixtures are out for Serie A.

I will now seek to see AC Milan (owned by not-corrupt-in-any-way Silvio Berlusconi) v Catania from Sicily.

This is a side not well-known to us in Britain as they have only flirted with the top level a few times. The riots after their local derby with Palermo last season resulted in the death of a policeman and the suspension of all Italian matches. I will keep quiet during the match in any event!

The Lesson

This is a great poem called 'The Lesson' by Roger McGough. In deference I have written the following:

I hope he doesn't come round my house asking for royalties;
for what are they, but costly loyalties.
He used to be
in a pop group you see.
The Merseybeat Scaffold
singing Lily The Pink
For a smile and a fee.


The Lesson

Chaos ruled OK in the classroom

as bravely the teacher walked in
the hooligans ignored him
his voice was lost in the din

"The theme for today is violence
and homework will be set
I'm going to teach you a lesson
one that you'll never forget"

He picked on a boy who was shouting
and throttled him then and there
then garrotted the girl behind him
(the one with grotty hair)

Then sword in hand he hacked his way
between the chattering rows
"First come, first severed" he declared"
fingers, feet or toes"

He threw the sword at a latecomer
it struck with deadly aim
then pulling out a shotgun
he continued with his game

The first blast cleared the backrow
(where those who skive hang out)
they collapsed like rubber dinghies
when the plug's pulled out

"Please may I leave the room sir?"
a trembling vandal enquired"
Of course you may" said teacher
put the gun to his temple and fired

The Head popped a head round the doorway
to see why a din was being made
nodded understandingly
then tossed in a grenade

And when the ammo was well spent
with blood on every chair
Silence shuffled forward
with its hands up in the air

The teacher surveyed the carnage
the dying and the dead
He waggled a finger severely
"Now let that be a lesson" he said

Roger McGough

Serie A

According to the Channel 4 site, the fixtures for next season's Serie A games in Italy will be announced in a couple of hours. The Italian League delays setting up the matches until all financial checks have been made. Apparently, the man from Del Monte, he say yes! so we await. I am due in Milan at the end of September so I hope to catch a game at the San Siro with either AC Milan (European Champions) or Inter Milan (Italian Champions).

Daily Mail: An Update

The article I referred to has had the offending comment from 'Enoch' removed, many hours later. I still have a copy of the original page cached (see above). Click on pic to enlarge. It still begs the question as to how it was allowed to squeeze through the moderation process.

On a brighter note, I decided to book a short trip to Poland for December. Maybe I will ask Jacqui Weems for some tips on carp fishing! Maybe there will be a Wroclaw branch of the Southampton Sturmabteilung.

Finally, good to see that we now have a Prime Minister who knows how to meet a US President without performing rectal surgery with his nose. Go Gordon!

Daily Mail: A New Low

Another Daily Mail rant today, I'm afraid. My views on this dangerous newspaper are well-known. Today, a new low was reached by the newspaper that supported the Nazis and Oswald Mosley's black-shirted fascists. An article was published in the Mail about alleged gang-related shootings in Manchester. The article may be found here although I wouldn't be surprised if it gets taken down.

One young man, Tyrone Gilbert was the latest victim, having attended his friend's funeral. Below are some of the comments published by the DM on its online section by so-called supporters. It is almost impossible to get a comment published if it goes against the usual editorial line of the DM, the article itself, or any of the usual contributors such as Peter Pan (yes, really), Mark from Poplar, Jacqui Weems (a weapon of crass destruction) and Karen (ex-pat) USA.

However, they do allow the sycophants and sanatorium inmates. The offending comment is in bold and the reference in the name is obviously to Enoch Powell.

Here are the Comments:

Umm - this is beyond belief. Humans yes or no? No!- Patrick, Hedge End, Hampshire

Every UK citizen should carry fire arms for protection.- Harry, Ipswich

Can we please clean up the streets? The police know all the dealers and all the gangs! Why do they pussyfoot around? Get in. Hit them where it hurts. It's a war. Why are they not allowed to fight it?- Steve Jones, Stockport, UK

I seem to recollect that Labour, in their first term after Dunblane, came along and put in place laws which were going to get rid of the gun culture, or have we forgotten? The guns they got rid were legitimally held weapon for sportmen and the likes, but the criminal still kept his weapons. Tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime.- Loris, Milan

Shocking. What has happened to my old home town? Wasn't banning firearms supposed to stop this kind of thing? Oh, that's right - they only took them off law-abiding Brits.- Nick Charles, Gold Coast, Australia

It now seems that all the bad guys have guns. It is about time ordinary police carry guns so that they can defend us and themselves.- S White, Leeds

niggers no doubt,I bet any money thay was niggers, who cares if they kill each othewr as long as they leave us whites alone. They could do us a favour by taking out a few pakis too- Enoch, Whitstable

The problem is that many Police Officers do not wish to carry weapons. Perhaps it is time to put armed troops on the street in the worst affected areas for the protection of the general public, together with a change in the law under which illegal possession of a gun means a mandatory life sentence of not less than 50 years imprisonement -no parole or amnesty etc.- Dg, Cheltenham

I knew Tyrone he had 3 sons and a daughter on the way! He also had a heart of gold. This article has made him out to sound much much worse than what he was. R.I.P Tyrone- Jay, Manchester

There are not enough Police to be seen on the streets, they are not dealing with the problem which is escalating, the problem is getting bigger. Deal with it now before it's too late. The courts should give very long prison sentences as a deterrent to others who think its 'cool' to carry a gun. It's gone on long enough.- John Harrow, Harrow UK

Eric says:

The DM may claim that they are not responsible for the comments, but it has moderators who can filter messages and edit posts. It must take ultimate responsibility for the comments made. It cannot use the defence of free speech on the one hand, whilst denying it to others. I think a complaint should be made to the Press Complaints Commission.

The Weems woman also had another go at foreigners again today. In a story about people allegedly fishing for carp to eat rather than for sport, she belched,

"It's a shame, but the only way would be for nobody to be allowed to fish. Anybody that gets caught face a massive fine, and if they are Eastern European then deport them for breaking the law of this Country. We have got to start getting tougher or we will lose all our traditions. "- Jacqui Weems, Southampton

What does this woman do all day? The story itself contained the slanted comment : Of 60 fisheries surveyed by the PCFA in England and Wales, 34 said they were regular victims of thefts and the problem had worsened in the last two years.
Of those, 25 thought immigrants were responsible for removing the fish for the table.

Comedy Classics

This is a list to be updated with links to comedy clips on YouTube. It's quite useful for me too, as it operates as a good bookmark. Suggestions welcome.

YouTube Links

  1. The 2 Ronnies : Fork Handles

  2. Monty Python : Fish License

  3. Bottom : Sad Ken horse race

  4. Emo Philips : San Francisco

  5. Rainbow : Adult version of Kids' TV show

  6. Harry Enfield : Father meets Son's boyfriend

Tour de Farce

Tour chiefs to hold inquiry into claims of unfair advantage

A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, goes the old feminist retort. Yes, Britain's waterways are getting polluted by people discarding their unwanted junk.

I used to have a bike. I still have something resembling one kindly donated/offloaded by Steve "It only needs new tyres." The current debacle surrounding the Tour has done nothing to allay fears that cycling is as drug infested as a Pete Doherty lookalike competition. One day, when the floods receed and the dove returns with the olive branch, I aim to get back in the saddle, inspired by the fact that by next year I should be the only rider left to compete.

Corrections and Clarifications

Our story in last month's journal about Edith McWhirter (left) winning our monthly competition should have read, 'Edith receives our food hamper prize' and not 'hamster'. We apologise for any confusion. The correct answer was, of course, c) Mussolini's aunt Sophia.

The caption on our lead story about President Bush, should have said, 'The President of the United States boards Airforce 1.' and not, ' Look at this monkey arsehole planning to bomb some more innocent people.' We apologise for this typographical error which slipped into the editing process. The work experience boy has been sacked.

We wrongly attributed the quote, " Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains." to Inspector Clouseau rather than the correct author, Rousseau. We shall no longer rely upon Wikipedia entries that have been edited on a Friday afternoon.

Get that cat out of here!

The nursing home cat that 'predicts' death

July 26, 2007

Guardian Unlimited

Oscar the cat, who seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die.
Oscar the rescue cat is not simply a welcome feline companion at the Steere nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island. According to a new report in a medical journal he has a remarkable, morbid talent - predicting when patients will die.
When the two-year-old grey and white cat curls up next to an elderly resident, staff now realise, this means they are likely to die in the next few hours.
Such is Oscar's apparent accuracy - 25 consecutive cases so far - that nurses at the US home now warn family members to rush to a patient's beside as soon as the cat takes up residence there.

"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa, an expert in geriatric care who described the phenomenon in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," Dr Dosa added.
According to staff at the nursing home, Oscar began patrolling the wards around six months after he was adopted as a kitten, observing and sniffing at residents before occasionally choosing someone to sit by.
Oscar appeared to take the task seriously and was otherwise quite aloof, Dr Dosa said: "This is not a cat that's friendly to people."
The Steere home is a dementia centre which cares for people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other ailments.
Another doctor who works at the centre, Joan Teno of Brown University, based in Providence, said she became convinced of Oscar's talent after he appeared to make a mistake.
Observing one patient, Dr Teno said she saw the woman was not eating, was breathing with difficulty and that her legs had a bluish tinge, signs that often mean death is near.
However, Oscar would not stay inside the woman's room and Dr Teno thought this meant his correct streak had been broken. Instead, it turned out her prediction was about 10 hours too early, and during the patient's final two hours Oscar joined the woman at her bedside.
Scientists remain uncertain whether there is any predictive basis for Oscar's talent, or if there are other factors at work, for example, an attraction to the warm blankets often placed on seriously ill residents.

And finally......

A woman was flying from Seattle to San Francisco. Unexpectedly, the plane was diverted to Sacramento along the way. The flight attendant explained that there would be a delay, and if the passengers wanted to get off the aircraft the plane would re-board in 50 minutes.

Everybody got off the plane except one lady who was blind. The man had noticed her as he walked by and could tell the lady was blind because her guide dog lay quietly underneath the seats in front of her throughout the entire flight. He could also tell she had flown this very flight before because the pilot approached her, and calling her by name, said,

"Kathy, we are in Sacramento for almost an hour. Would you like to get off and stretch your legs?"

The blind lady replied, "No thanks, but maybe my dog would like to stretch his legs."

Picture this: All the people in the gate area came to a complete standstill when they looked up and saw the pilot walk off the plane with a guide dog!The pilot was even wearing sunglasses. People scattered. They not only tried to change planes, but they were trying to change airlines!

thanks to Nicole for above.

Herr Kutz

It is the law in England that all hairdressers have to have punning names as above. Other examples are His and Hers, and Head Masters. This reminded me of an incident in Birmingham in my student days.

I went to a local barber's shop near the university (now closed down after they found the pie shop in the cellar). My flatmate had accompanied me as I always had an aversion to hairdressers in the same away others have to dentists.. I'd rather have my molars molested than my follicles flattened.

Anyhow, Flatmate was sent to the chair first, an apt description of the process. We shared similar hairstyles. He selects Chair 1 with Master Butcher Bryan the Barber. Teenager X struts to the centre stool.

Eric waits. He reads. "Oh, I see the Titanic's about to set sail!"
Next, his waiting room current affairs education is brought to a swift end. This is how all innocent and guilty condemned men feel.

'Nothing for the weekend?'

The first blow is Eddie's. Not so much the Barber of Seville than Saville; figureow than Figaro.
His own barnet is tells its own story; it is immaculately coiffured. Tonsorially tremendous. Beware.

'Would you loike it loike your mate, loike?'


Time passes. I exhumed my body from the chair after the British tradition of nodding appreciatively at the mirror proffered to the back of the head.
Aaaaaaagh! I almost said. My head had a flat top cut. I looked like a non-ginger Rick Astley.

And now........the punchline....................Eddie had thought Teenager X was my friend.

The moral of this story is always look at the potential cutters of your locks. Never let your head near the guy with the best haircut; the guy looking like a scarecrow is the one who probably cut it.

......Or should I say Norwegian Weird

DAILY MAIL 25/07/07

Norwegian princess wants to teach people to talk to angels

Norwegian Princess Martha Louise has announced that she is clairvoyant and wants to help people by teaching them how to talk to angels.
The 35-year-old trained physical therapist and daughter of King Harald and Queen Sonja said on a website for her alternative education centre that she has been communicating with angels since childhood.
The Astarte Education centre which she co-founded promises to teach students to "create miracles" in their lives "with angels and with your own force".

Eric says, " This is what happens when you allow Robbie Williams to mix with royalty."

Reminded of King Harald of Norway, I immediately thought about another crap advert on TV for Hastings Direct car insurance. I keep getting bombarded by these ads as well as bumf through the post. What is strange is that they have named their cute little character after Harold II, who won the Battle of Stamford Bridge (Chelsea tried to buy all the Saxons to keep on the hill but to no avail) but LOST the Battle of Hastings. There is much debate about what is being taught in schools in History but this is Lesson 1. The boy William of Normandy did do wicked things and became king of England. why would a company invest its future in a loser. Do Nike, Adidas et al ally themselves to the second-rate?

Maybe this could be a trend. We could have Waterloo Insurance headed by Napoleon, Bosworth Field trainers flogged by Richard III, and the next Election Highlights Video narrated by David Cameron.

It's Coming Home

There are times when you're hungry for success, but life's rich pageant seems to be moving towards you as slowly as the arctic tundra, and then the Black Dog of depression rests his moist nose upon your plate. Still, the new football season approaches and Eric's boys have informed him, via the auspices of the local freesheet, that they aim to win some games in the coming year. A season ticket is always a large investment for a small cichlid and there are no reductions for fishy followers.

Eric was sad to see the boy Robbie Fowler scrawl his mark on that Cardiff parchment, when he could have remained closer to hos housing estate, and become the second coming of Aldo. Maybe next season. Watch this space. Get down to Ladbrokes. Tell them Eric sentya!

The Serie A fixtures for the Italian football league are due to come out at the end of this month. I intend to catch a game in Milan at the San Siro (either Inter or AC Milan) in October.

Richard Littlejohn : An Apology (for a man)

He's at it again. In his latest column of hate, he refers to Cameron being in a mud hut in Rwanda. And we thought Bernard Manning was dead. No word on Jim Davidson yet. This ties in with yesterday's posting.

If anyone was in any doubt over his views on such matters, I would direct them to his oft-quoted comments in 1984 regarding the genocide in Rwanda, by black Hutus against black Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994 – he wrote,
"Does anyone really give a monkey's about what happens in Rwanda? If the Mbongo tribe wants to wipe out the Mbingo tribe then as far as I am concerned that is entirely a matter for them."

Surprisingly, when last I looked at the site, no comments had been made. Is this the case of Mail readers waking up to the crass nature of RL's views? Or maybe the lawyers have censored some of the more crazed supporters.

I watched the film 10 Rillington Place last night. I remember being quite frightened when I first encountered it. It is based on the book by Ludovic Kennedy, who campaigned for the pardon for the hanged Timothy Evans. A potent argument against the reintroduction of the death penalty.

It was 20 years ago today (give or take)

This is a link to one of my greatest and most traumatic moments watching football. I first attended a professional match at the age of 7. This was several years later.

At the time, I was living away from home whilst at college. I travelled back for this game played on a Friday night, aware that my team were one game away from oblivion. It was hard in those days to be a Tranny supporter, given that the other local teams Liverpool and Everton were the dominant sides at that time. Had it not been for the ban a couple of years earlier, it is safe to say that they would have been successful in the European Cup. Not so for the minnows of Prenton Park.

The catastrophic coupling of flamboyant Frank Worthington as player-manager, and an American owner (Osterman) had led to the club facing relegation from Division 4 (now League 2).

The club had been taken over by local businessman, Peter Johnson and, former player and manager, Johnny King had been handed the arduous task of preventing the unthinkable. Current manager Ronnie Moore had acted as caretaker boss, but had yet to find his feet as the man in charge.

Three other sides, Burnley, Torquay and Lincoln city were similarly embroiled in this fight to extricate themselves from financial oblivion. A fellow student was a Burnley fan and understood the reality.

The last match was against Exeter city. Average attendances had at this time been around 1200 but the town turned out to witness either the demise of TRFC, or the phoenix rising. The official attendance was given at less than 7000, leading to accusations that the gates were being fiddled. Given that there were queues around the block and the game was delayed for fifteen minutes, there may be some substance to this. It was unusual for the programmes to sell out.

I usually stood in the paddock area but had to queue with my father for a seat in the Main Stand.

The video uploaded to YouTube brings back great memories, although I remember little of the game itself, other than the goal and Exeter's shot hitting the crossbar. Oh, how historic a piece of wood can be.

The scorer of the goal was Garry Williams, a defender, from Ian Muir's sublime chipped cross. I had the honour of meeting GW a few years later. I probably owe him a drink.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Seeing the endless BBC News 24 streaming of people in boats in gardens, I noticed the weird juxtaposition of Daily Mail Readers' opinions on charitable donations and the appearance of Dave Cameron in Rwanda.

The Conservative leader is good at jumping on bandwagons, whether it be green issues or 'gettin' down with the kids', as he strives to portray his party as less right-wing. His strategy is risky as it alienates the traditional (i.e. lunatic) Tories, and by hanging onto Labour's coat-tails he is in danger of losing his grip (on reality?).

This Government, though far from perfect in its policy on overseas aid has made a significant difference. Cameron can thank this approach for the fact that he is welcomed in Rwanda.

The DM club of eternal colonels and sexually-frustrated housewives are out in droves; putting the world to rights. Here are a few gems from the usual suspects:

  1. Gordon can you stop spending our money overseas, and concentrate on the people that need it here first.- Jacqui Weems, Southampton
  2. Whenever there is a disaster like this anywhere else in the world everyone, throughout the country, is asked to help with money and blankets etc, but I have not heard anything about helping our own people in this terrible situation. Nor do I see or hear of any help coming from abroad. I thought America and George Bush were our allies.Little Britain is just abandoned by the world when we need help. Please remember this wherever the next disaster hits. Charity begins at home. Bring all the troops home from Iraq and everywhere else to help our own.- Marjorie Chappell, Milton Keynes
  3. It's about time we the people had a say, this Labour government always puts foreigners first. If there were floods in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India or Africa then money, supplies, water, food and the army would be deployed. 150,000 people in Gloucester have no water, hundreds of thousands in the north have ruined homes and hundreds of thousands more in rural areas are affected - are they not now a minority in distress? Yet the BBC tell us "tens of thousands are affected", and on the weather news bulletin said: "the rain may stop India" - what trite comments, they are so used to playing down the news for new Labour that we don't even have an accurate report on a national crises! Where is the help coming from? Why does not Brown ask for bottled water from France and borrow more helicoptors (sic) and boats? Why did he cut the flood budget last year? Next time there's an appeal for foreign aid on the TV my credit card will stay at home in my wallet!- David C Hamilton-Williams, East Grinstead

The barking mad individual from Southampton gets her hateful bile published all the time on The Mail's website. However, it is nigh on impossible to get a dissenting voice on this site. Charity begins at home for these Little Englanders, but you know that they don't give as much to charity as a proportion of their income as poorer people. Do we really think that the double- barrelled class warrior from East Grinstead reaches for his Visa card every time Darfur is mentioned on TV.

It is always incredible that such people decry other faiths and claim to be Christian. Charity begins at home, they moan. What is galling is the fact that so many people share this selfish and irrational view.

Whenever there is a natural disaster on this scale in the UK, the radio phone-ins and DM comment sections are inundated by the usual cries of 'charity begins at home' and ask why the Third World aren't holding pop concerts for the destitute of the 4th richest country on the planet.

On a lighter note (easy to say when completely dry) I noticed the inevitable comment from Dr. Foster on the BBC Gloucestershire website.

  • I went there, never again though go (sic) soaked!
    Dr Foster

People stop me in the street and say, 'Eric, that's alright for you to criticise these commentators, but you're a fish. you can cope.' A good point, well made. So, I have the solutions:

  1. We up anchor and take advantage of our island status. Then we can move like a giant caravan to more clement climes when the need arises. This would also have a positive effect on the UK tourist industry.
  2. We hear a lot about stealth taxes from Brown's critics in the DM inter alia. We should tax stealth as well. In addition, all DM readers will pay an extra Irrationality Tax.
  3. IMNARB Tax : Anyone who has ever said, 'I'm not a racist but.....' shall have their financial affairs controlled by a Government quango with Enduring Power of Attorney. This body will levy a 80% tax and give the person pocket money index-linked to the allowances given to asylum seekers.
  4. Households that light up their homes with garish Xmas decorations from November until January will be forced to use eco-cycles to generate electricity for their sane neighbours.
Footnotes for non-UK

1. An old nursery rhyme is :
Doctor Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain,

He stepped in a puddle, Right up to his middle,

And never went there again.

2. Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink.

Water, water everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.

-Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" 1798

Eye of the Camel

I once had to housesit for friends and in return was granted access to a vast array of channels on cable TV. Being particularly bored one night, I channel hopped and came across a multitude of religious programmes. Usually they were only viewed on clip shows extracting the proverbial out of them. On these comedy shows we were also introduced to reality TV shows, Jerry Springer's oeuvre and sadistic Japanese game shows. Oh how we laughed, but then we became engulfed ourselves with this lowest common denominator type of programme.

Fundamentalist Religious shows have, thankfully, yet to make it to mainstream, terrestrial channels. In the US though they are widespread and are now infiltrating our airwaves via Mr. Murdoch's handiwork.

I was reminded of these manipulative money grabbers by the death this week of Tammy Bakker/Lavalley/Messner. Although she was never convicted of any crime, she clearly reaped what her jailed husband had sewn. And to paraphrase Wilde, to marry one fraudulent man may be unfortunate, but to wed two is carelessness.

Whilst tales of gold-plated bath taps and air conditioned dog kennels may well be apocryphal, it still begs the question as to how people can be so gullible when it comes to televangelists.

Of course, if anyone wants to join the Eric The Fisher of Men (and Women) Sect, and send copious amounts of cash, then do not let me put you off.

Now that both Bakker and Barbara Cartland have gone, shares in cosmetics companies are sure to fall.

And it’s taken you so long to find out you were wrong

When you thought it held everything.

You used to think that it was so easy,

You used to say that it was so easy

But you’re tryin’, you’re tryin’ now.

Another year and then you’d be happy

Just one more year and then you’d be happy

But you’re cryin’, you’re cryin’ now.

Baker Street : Gerry Rafferty

Mike Read: An appreciation

People often stop me in the street and say, "Eric, why aren't you running the country?"
Honestly, this does happen and I have to tell them that I am awaiting receipt of the tanks from a seller on eBay with 45673 positive feedback comments. Also, Mark Thatcher never returns my calls. They also know that I am totally in touch with the word on the street, man.

For people outside the UK, we now have an elected Mayor for our (present) capital city. Current incumbent is Ken Livingstone (Labour cum Independent cum Labour). The Conservative Party (or Cameron's Conservatives as they were styled in the Ealing By-election) are looking into the potential of fielding Boris Johnson as candidate. It is difficult to describe this individual. Perhaps the best that can be said is that he is an intelligent buffoon.

If this alone was not an interesting proposition, we now see that he has the support of the heavyweight political genius Mike Read. No, not Mike Reid, what used to be in Eastenders, leave it out! Mike Read the DJ. The man responsible for Frankie Goes To Hollywood scoring a massive hit with Relax, when he decided to ban it from his radio programme. The man in charge of a Saturday morning kids show when a phone caller shouted out live to a pop group, 'Matt Bianco, you bunch of wankers!' Priceless.

Mike was going to stand himself. No further comment is needed to his article in The Guardian.

It provided a record number of comments. Warning! Do not read Read without having an irony bypass operation or drinking a lot of liquid.

Guardian comment is free
July 17, 2007 12:30 PM
I'm backing Boris

I've decided not to stand as mayor of London, but I'm getting behind the man who I hope will raise the city's profile and improve life for Londoners.

Last October, having spoken for the third time at a Conservative conference many influential and political figures encouraged me to stand as London mayor, resulting in many people in the party urging me forward.

Seeing a chance to make a real difference to a great city I thought it would be refreshing to go down a "people not politics" route and have spent a great deal of time at Westminster over the last six months.

It was not Boris Johnson standing that made me think twice at the eleventh hour, but the change in the voting system. Initially it was to be a telephone vote for the whole of London, before moving very recently to a written and online vote with nomination forms going to party members. Non-party members can vote but have to apply for a form and knowing how apathetic folk can be I believe this would, for me, narrow any chance of winning, as the Tory faithful are much more likely to vote for an established politician.

That said I'm happy to support Boris in any way necessary and have discussed the mayoral situation with his charming father, Stanley.

It's essential for Boris to be much, much tougher on the persistently antisocial, making sure that rapists, murderers and paedophiles have no place, and never will, on the streets of London, and will not threaten civilised society.

I've spoken to lots of young kids in gangs or "crews" as they prefer to be known and most want to get out of a way of life that gives them nothing. Get in there ... understand their problems and give them access to sporting facilities and the chance to make music, act, dance and write. Get them integrated into society and to realise its value.

I'd like to see Boris push for a police officer on every tube entrance/exit so that underground miscreants know that their exit route is effectively sealed. With work and leisure patterns changing, Londoners are keeping later hours than ever before so running the tubes until 2am, at least at the weekends, must be an option. Late night traveller safety for the likes of nurses, theatregoers, tourists etc would become a priority. Extended tube hours would also help eliminate illegal and unlicensed taxis.

Advocate phasing out the bendy buses. In a congested city why build an essential mode of transport lengthways? Double decker buses have always been more practical. Scrap the congestion charge and put the life back into London trading.
Broken parking meters should be free until mended. There would be concessions or monthly lottery for all those using electric cars in the capital.
Improve traffic light phasing (still a disaster after Ken's tampering) and introduce more "filter alternately" junctions. This is a less stressful and more successful way of keeping traffic flowing.

Monitor bus lane usage and possibly standardise times. Due to confusion and uncertainty, bus lanes are often empty even when it's legal to drive in them.
Build extensive underground car parks. Put all car parking underground. I've discussed this with major developers and it's feasible.

More than 30,000 UK playing fields have gone under Labour and despite Gordon Brown's (too little, too late) limp idea for a few sports coaches in schools, far, far more needs to be done.

I've had discussions with the Football Association who are behind my London Schools FA Cup idea. Several professional footballers have agreed to be ambassadors and a wealthy and private concern would be happy to get involved with the FA and me on establishing the blueprint for this. This would be a massive boost for London's young people and could be extended to other sports. Ken Livingstone recently said, "I'll be bored out of my skull" by the Olympics. That's not the man who should be the flyer of London's flag. This event should be a massive positive, not constantly portrayed as a negative.

Finally, in brief, explore more usage of the Thames, set up mayoral shops as an information point for tourists and to sell merchandise such as maps, London T shirts, flags, souvenirs and so on. Create a London laureate to extol the virtues of the city in song and verse and encourage more of the colourful fabric of London to come through.

Let's train traffic wardens to exercise common sense and reward Londoners who work hard, rather than hitting them with constant stealth taxes.
I have the blueprint set up and ready to go for an online newspaper with every word about London, written by Londoners or by people visiting the capital. It goes without saying that there are, of course, countless issues not discussed in this limited space!

As I've decided not to stand, I'm going to get behind the man who is. I'll be available, if needed, to help Boris raise London's spirit and profile and become London mayor.
Wikipedia - see if the word 'feasible' remains in the edits!

A Little Extra

Another great victory for Mother and Child in the Friday quiz. There was much embarrassment at the fact that we were the only people to answer the question about diphallic terata referring to a person with 2 penises. There is probably a good reason for knowing this trivia fact but it escapes me at the moment. Strangely, there was no question on Harry Potter. Anyway, more beer tokens for next week.

Torrential rain and severe flooding have hit the UK. We have been fortunate in this area even though we are surrounded by two rivers. Given the problems in London, perhaps it is time to move the capital up north. In these days of modern technology, it is not beyond us to separate different functions into different areas instead of being London centric. It seems to work in other countries.


Ever eager to sniff a bargain, I managed to book a £2 return fare to Birmingham via National Express. This was a chance to visit the city of my alma mater (Latin O Level comes in handy sometimes). It has been several years since I went there and it has altered dramatically.

As the rain continued to follow me, I was largely confine to indoor places like shops and pubs. When I was a student in the 8os the was a dearth of pubs selling real ale. Fortunately, this has now changed, although it was sad to see that Atkinson's Bar, which was part of The Midland Hotel, has long gone. It appears to be a Waterstone's bookshop. Potter has replaced Porter.

I returned to The Shakespeare, near to New Street Station and found that, apart from a lick of paint to the outside, it has not changed for 20 years. It still has the old fireplace at the rear of the pub. I made the mistake of using instinct when finding the toilets and ended up in the women's upstairs. I'm sure that the gents were there before. I also made the mistake of reaching for one of the newspapers on the bar. They were for sale rather than for customers. I was not impressed at the fact that they only had The Sun and The Times.

Anyway, a fine pint of Tim Taylor Landlord came in handy whilst sheltering from the rain. There was a boring lawyer standing next to me at the bar droning on about how he once had a major case in the Bahamas.

That reminds me of a recent computer test I took. It was to assess people's aptitude for different careers. mine came up as lawyer as the first choice, when I really wanted it to say Lion Tamer or Lumberjack (spot the Python reference).

The new Bullring shopping centre is very American in style and all the usual suspects are there in store form....Starbucks, Burger King etc. The outside of Selfridges is visually stunning and I aim to post some pictures later.

The centrepiece of the city centre is a huge fountain outside the city council HQ (The Council House). This was added in 1993 and was designed by sculptor and artist Dhruva Mistry. It is called River, Youth, Guardians and Object (Variations). The photo at the top of the posting is not this one but another near to the old town hall, which was home to the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. I had my graduation ceremony here and the CBSO, conducted by Liverpool born Simon Rattle (now of Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra), had its home here.

Not far from here is a newish real ale bar in the city. It is called The Wellington Specialist Real Ale Bar and serves up to 15 different real ales plus ciders and bottled continental beers. The pub is situated in an old bank but has been a pub in the past. The surprising aspect to this place was that as it did not serve food, you were welcome to bring your own and they supplied the plates and cutlery! The prices were a little steep but there was a great selection of unusual beers. I settled on a Hammer Head Stout from Milestone Brewery.
The pub has an old fashioned character to it, and the staff and clientele were extremely friendly. It is not hard to see why CAMRA voted it pub of the year for 2005 and 2006. It also held a Smokeathon night on the last day of June, hours before the smoking ban came into force.
A word of warning to those choosing to travel on National Express. They seem to have sent some of their drivers on customer hatred courses. Having availed myself of some ale during the day, I became the subject of Mr. Attitude's power trip. Obviously, he had smelt the dreaded alcohol on my breath. Where are the Polo Mints when you need them?
"Have you been drinkin' mate?" he interrogated.
"Yes," replies the eponymous hero.
"How much?"
"About 3," I underestimated.
" Well OK, but I don't have to let you on. So no trouble, right?"
The driver was of course within his rights to refuse entry but this smells of an over zealous approach.
Providers of services from hospital workers to coach drivers have a right to protection from anti-social and violent behaviour. The figures relating to attacks speak for themselves. However, respect will not be obtained from non-offenders if such a heavy handed approach is made. It is symptomatic of how we are dealing with current problems and can be seen with the knee-jerk reactions to airport security. In addition, I have the sneaking suspicion that had I been 7 foot 5 and with a number of others, this conversation would not have taken place. Alcohol is a serious problem in this country, but do not treat all drinkers as lepers.


Birmingham 2007

One Step Forward

I got itchy fingers and clicked on the Next Blog button. Like Mount Everest, it was there. (btw is it still the highest? I know there is some doubt as to longest river, with the Amazonian Tendency threatening to use crayon in library books that claim the Nile is longer, so it needs to be clarified for future quizzes.)

At first, it was quite an interesting way of passing thirty seconds. there is such a diversity of subjects which the erstwhile blogger feels the need to inflict on/gift the world, from countdowns to baby No.6 to Jamie's Second Life avatar's thoughts on this life. However, it was the site belonging to a chap from Spain whose mission appears to be to share (albeit artisticall in black and white) pictures of his bottom, that caused the alarm bells to shatter the peace. I'm sure there is a perfectly good reason for this venture, and not being able to understand Spanish, I cannot elaborate further. Anyway, be aware that that magic button can on the one hand bring you a riveting discourse on the nature of social development, but can as easily land you with one man's struggle with pants deficiency.


I've just discovered a new browser that integrates with your media playing. It is called Songbird and can be downloaded here. It allows you to play media files from your hard drive but also searches for music online including radio broadcasts. I managed to find a station playing Beatles music ONLY! I'm like a pig in shit.

Credit and Debt

If you've ever been so unfortunate as to be watching TV during the daytime in the UK, you'll have noticed that not only are the programmes crap, but the adverts are repeated ad infinitum. The infamous one at the moment is the one for Picture Loans. I think this is a subsidiary of the US Financial behemoth MBNA, who seem to require call centre staff for their Chester operation every week. Obviously nothing to do with high turn over of employees.

For those who have missed this gem, try You tube. There are a few variations on the theme but it is clearly aimed at people who a) do not work during the day, b) have debts, c) have bad credit records and/or d) have yet to complete the process of evolution. although advertising costs are lower for such channels and times, it clearly works for the company as they continue to bombard us with the ads. Two ads feature football as seen through the eyes of marketing people that have never seen the game. Dialogue such as, " I hope they don't cancel the football," tends to give the game away.

The most unpopular one, however, centres on the dimmest woman in NE England and her untidy son's scooter. Not only does she try to help the lad find this whilst anchoring her home to a loan at exorbitant rates, which is extremely rude, but she has to ask her moron of a husband to confirm how much they want to borrow. So, lots of thought has gone into their financial plans. perhaps this is why they're in the shit in the first place.

The ad works. It may be some post-modern irony and be memorable because it is so bad. However, it masks a serious problem. Debt is a frightening reality for many people. Only this week PM Brown announced plans to teach financial welfare in schools. These companies do not care who they lend to as long as the loan is secured on their property. Whilst continued growth in the housing market means there is often spare equity, this may not be the case as interest rates rise. remember the Thatcherite downturn of the 1980s? I spent many a day in the local county court acting for unscrupulous loan companies, who sought their pound of flesh in repossession cases. Often, this was for small amounts of defaulted payments due to unforeseen circumstances. Fortunately, I was able to quietly advise them how best to defeat the claim and the judiciary eventually came to side with defendants and people stayed in their homes. Not all were so lucky.

Picture are not the only culprits. another bugbear is the one with Carol Vorderman starring. She is the self-styled most intelligent person in the country (third class degree, sums on Countdown, annoying laugh, used to have a 3 page section on technology in The Mirror, very little of which she wrote, [her partner was Deputy Editor of said paper], multi-millionaire). Where is the morality of someone advising people to take out loans at high rates/long terms, when she is so rich. This is similar to the top models and actresses that fly their own hairdressers around the world advertising £1.99 shampoo for the plebs. Perhaps we get what we deserve.

Anyway, I started looking for spoofs on the annoying ad and YouTube did not fail me. This is my current favourite.

Friday 13th

Quiz tonight, touch wood

I'm off to the quiz tonight so I'm hopeful that the perennial phobia question will be apt and be Paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday 13th. It's been a few weeks since 'Mother and Child' have taken the beer tokens (notwithstanding the clearly-contrary-to-EU-law device of deducting 2 points from our score when we win). Even West Ham United didn't get this sanction and we all know they deserved it. I'm not paranoid or bothered, but as the late great Tommy Cooper said, "it's not the principle, it's the money!" Even cunning attempts to disguise our team name (mutter und kind, mere et garcon etc....even Japanese characters.....even a picture of a gorilla with baby) have failed to prevent this gross injustice. And another thing, there are never any questions about Russian literature.

Anyway, as with the trip to Ireland last week, we do now have the benefit of a smoke-free environment (and the Guinness is cheaper than over the sea). As a non-smoker, I'm quite pleased with the new law but was amused by the article by Liverpool writer Brian Reade in The Daily Mirror on 12/07/07. I understand that some nightclubs will be spraying special smells (good use of aliteration there) into the air to mask the B.O. of dancers and lechers.

Daily Mail Watch

Another classic from the boy Littlejohn and his rational acolytes. More " Oh you should be PM, Richard...............puke!" He's not obsessed with Islam at all. Just one problem with his diatribe. This country jails more people per head of population than any other in Europe and judges are not political appointments. Either he is ignorant of the Separation of Powers or chooses to ignore it.

The Fly's the Limit

We have been troubled by the sudden appearance of a large number of bluebottles (blowflies) in the house. This has involved the liberal use of rolled up newspaper (my republic for a Daily Mail) rather than relying upon fly spray which can harm the fish. We have tracked down the invasion to under the coconut welcome mat by the back door. It should say (except vermin and Jehovah's Witnesses). The pupae were duly despatched and hopefully this is the last of them.

Today's recommended albums >

Keane (Cover Versions) including Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Wonderful World

Ghosts (The World Outside)

Crowded House (Time on Earth) Like they've never been away. Entered UK charts at 3.

Feist : 1234 Catchy tune. not heard of her before but is getting airplay.

I hope to put excerpts from my novel in progress, Breakfast With Madness at various times in the future.

Ignoratia haud juris excusat

Daily Mail Rant

This newspaper has been a major bugbear for me for many years. On a daily basis it pumps out extreme right-wing bile with a frightening obsession with asylum seekers/immigration and single parents. I challenge anyone with a teaspoonful of compassion and rationality to read this filth without wanting to rip it up. Now the problem has become worse as it is also online. I fear for my laptop screen at times (as well as my currently normal blood pressure). Anyway, for months I have nursed an ambition to get my comment published on their website. However, if you look carefully at the comments you will notice quite quickly that they merely congratulate and genuflect before the writer of the article. Contrast this with the Guardian's Comment Is Free feature which allows any old nutter to post an opinion. Today's example is the column of the completely rational Richard Littlejohn. The worrying aspect is how many people seem to believe he should be running the country. Also, note the number of people that comment from overseas about their beloved home country. It is disgraceful that ex-pats are allowed to vote in our elections. They do not see the beautiful irony of hating foreigners, Europe and fundamentalism, whilst displaying the most hostile views from their shangri-la overseas. have a look at the 'thoughtful' comment of Peter from Sussex. Forget the fact that the UK is one of the top 5 countries in terms of GDP, just make an incredibly crass statement about not giving money to poorer nations because 'charity begins at home.' It is a fact that the biggest contributors to charities and good causes are those on low incomes and in less affluent areas. The rich stay that way because they are able to avoid/evade tax through accountancy measures and because they are as tight as the proverbial duck's body part. Barking mad and sycophantic

So, my challenge remains to get a comment published. I've even tried to use different names and email addresses but I've a feeling they can detect your IP address. This won't be the last tirade at the Daily Mail, but on a positive note, it does fit neatly on the bottom of your budgie cage and is super absorbent due to the amount of extra padding contained therein.

"His son is working for the Daily Mail; it's a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer." Lennon & McCartney

Limerick Photos

Limerick July 2007

Ireland's West Coast

Ireland July 2-5 2007

Just got back from a very interesting trip across the Irish Sea courtesy of Mr. O'Leary of Ryanair. He clearly has a problem with the British Government and in particular its doubling of fuel tax in a previous budget of Mr Brown (Prime Minister to his friends). Therefore the meek and disarming Mr. O' L decides to make a political point by offering selected flights for 1p. (that's each way.....I mean, return for a penny would be ludicrous.) This included taxes which the kindly and even more meek Mr O' L agreed to foot himself. Many hours he spent writing out in his own fair hand, individual cheques to HM Govt GB Inc. All this when our publicity-shy pop stars were convening across the planet for Live Earth (insert own carbon footprint comment here).

Anyway, conscience in hand, I purchased a flight, having availed myself of the tuppence found down the side of the sofa. I decided on 2 places yet to be visited: Milan and the West of Ireland. The Italian sojourn will be in September.

As usual the fates came to visit me; a member of the caring profession decided his religious indoctrination took precedence over his moral and professional duty. (hypocritic oath?) and security was tight at airports everywhere. This increase in security has already inconvenienced me before, curtailing my usual scam at avoiding exhorbitant onboard drinks prices. Oh yes, the red wine-that-looks-like-ribena ruse. This is how terrorists succeed; they do not have to kill or injure, only to interrupt the norm.

The flight to Shannon Airport in County Clare takes less than an hour (only about 40 mins in the air). As Ryanair is a no-frills airline it relies on hidden extras to generate revenue. For instance, it has a policy of charging for baggage placed on the aircraft and drinks and food onboard. They also have bizarre sachets of vodka, which look like they should be used on chips rather than supplying flight-calming liquor.

We based our stay in the city of Limerick.

Facts about Limerick:

1. It rains a lot.

2. It has been unfairly given the nickname "stab city".

3. Pubs are as plentiful as the rain.

4. People are very friendly.

In one of the opening narratives in Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt mentions that it always rains in Limerick. During our stay, the veracity of this statement was rarely troubled. Of course, it had been raining in Liverpool on the journey to John Lennon Airport. Yes, the famous pakamac came to the rescue on many an occasion (more of which later).

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare.

This was a day trip from Limerick, taking over 2 hours by bus and costing about €19. The service is infrequent so we intended to catch the return bus some 7 hours later. The driver knew the score and advised us of an earlier bus. Two hours later we were ready to trundle back home. The problem with this spot is that there is little to do other than admire the spectacular view and battle the harsh winds. There is a fort on top of the cliffs and a tourist centre chiselled into the rockface to preserve aesthetic values, but it is hard to justify a long stay. We were fortunate that the rain did decide to stop for a bit but it is now no longer possible to reach the outer edge of the cliffs. It seems that a few troubled souls took the opportunity to end it all at a scenic place and so the public are barred. cattle and sea birds are exempt. This is a pity as it would be good to have an official path along the cliffs.

The cliffs are believed to be the deepest in Europe and the view is certainly spectacular as seen by the photos above. Arriving here on Independence Day, we found it to be invaded by hordes of American tourists whose clothes laid battle with their voices for victor of loudness. I utilised my puerile sense of humour by sending surreptitious bluetooth messages to their mobile phones, to the effect that their foreign diplomacy was a bit questionable. According to recent polls in the States, it appears they might actually agree now. Talk about waking up to smell the..........etc etc.

Of course, I will not hear a word against former Governor G. W. Bush. He believes in peace as much as.......well, listen to this if ya don' believe it, y'all.

Limerick Pubs

Blackstuff for the Boys


Jam session at Dolan's

By great planning and cunning (=luck) we stayed near the Dock Road, on which this bar is situated. Wherever I am I always seem to end up near the Red Light area! Did not see any night workers possibly due to the weather. It would take too long to describe the place. Its own website does it so much better. It is also visible on Google Earth. Suffice to say, there have been many major artists playing here. For instance Kasabian played Wembley recently and also were here. There are also free offerings of traditional Irish music in the bar most nights. The bar has something for everyone.

We even managed to get TV coverage of Wimbledon here. Yes, it will always remind me of Maria Sharapova’s exit. On this occasion I was sad to see her behind (schoolboy giggle).

The Whitehouse

This pub also has a poetic license

We came across a great Irish pub whilst sheltering from the rain (as recommended by the red jacketed city guides we met by the castle.). It is known as both Gleesons and The White House. A pint of Smithwicks was our reward. We noticed that at the front of the pub was a small curtained stage with a large spotty bow tie. An advert for a poetry reading caught the eye, so we made a mental note to visit upon our return from the Cliffs of Moher.

The weekly readings have been up and running since 2004 and are compered by the imcomparable Barney Sheehan. There is a blog by one of the prominent members, Dominic Taylor, who has also written songs based on Angela’s Ashes. There is a link to the My Space site from the blog. Hey, no one that has Sinead O’Connor as a friend can be too bad!

I was cajoled into scribbling a few lines myself, but did not expect to have to perform it. The other poets (note the subtle use of ‘other’, implying I am Ted Hughes) were well rehearsed and subjects ranged from harrowing accounts of drug addiction to whimsical memories of hurling matches. Next time I will have more time to prepare and so the results should be better. For the record, my offering was about the rain we encountered. The local inhabitants took it in good humour. There are probably some areas where this would be a bad idea. Anyway, as with the rest of the area, people were very friendly. This is a night to recommend.

Nancy Blake's

This was several pubs in one; a tardis of an inn. From the outside it seemed quite small but it had a sawdust-laden front area, a small dimly lit bar, an old style snug, and a busy outside area for the tobacco takers. One of the places to be at night.

The Wicked Chicken

Be Wicked

Easier to say before entering than after leaving. It was a rarity in that it had beers different to the usual suspects of Guinness, Beamish and Smithwicks. It had a good selection of German Erdinger brews.

I Don’t Like Mondays

One pub we drifted into was, I think, The Black Swan. It was a bit dark and scruffy. A group of well-oiled old characters frequented it. It as not so much that they propped up the bar, than that the bar propped them up. One member of ‘The Monday Club’ improvised an effective pinball impression on his way out. The barman had a large cut on his head caused by a night out when his drink was spiked.

Later in the week we were in another pub (sheltering from the rain you understand) when I spotted a charcoal drawing on the wall of ‘The Tuesday Club’ members and we wondered aloud if there were such clubs for each day of the week and if the same characters were in every one.

More later......... I am constructing bit by bit as I learn

" But I learn Mr. Fawlty, I learn!"

King John's Castle, Limerick