Tuesday, 21 April 2009


Seems like the good old YOOKAY is messing up its kids: (see BBC report link below).


Yeah, as the poet, Philip Larkin said; 'They fuck you up, your mum and dad....' And how.

I was appalled on Sat night to learn from my daughter, returning from a party with some old friends from the local ('outstanding') state comp in Truro (and, purportedly, the best in county...) that half the girls - just 14 - had had bikehehindthebikesheds sex and thought it was Ok to keep a tally....I thought of those little girls who came to tea with us here, only a few short years ago.....Heartened, though, to learn that my girl thought they were a load of numpties, and even more heartened to hear that it was the children of lone parents (those whom Local Packet 'writers' like to lambast as being responsible for all social ills, esp here on the Celtic fringe, where teenage pregnancy can indeed be a career choice....) who were saving themselves till 16.

Monday, 2 February 2009


An unofficial oil workers' strike continues to dominate the news, visually enhanced today with news pics of the strikers in the blizzard that has shut down much of the UK's transport infrastructure over the past 24 hours and will continue to do so, it seems, for much of this week. The strikers are protesting about a policy of employing 'foreign' workers on the minimum wage- thus undercutting jobs for the 'British' (whoever they may be - not Cornish or Scottish or Welsh, we know that now...).

I don't know anything about the oil business, or the current state of industrial relations in this country, but I woke this morning in Central London to the sight below my window of a largish group of 'foreign' construction workers who had turned up for work at 7.30, huddled together in the snow (and it was deep snow too - not a stone's throw from Park Lane), waiting to clock on. The 'foreign' staff of the Club where I stay had all gamely turned out as well to give us 'ladies' our breakfast (although I was too lazy to go down for mine, being glued to the news channel for updates on the state of First Great Western trains). Marianna, the (foreign) receptionist, had walked to Audley Square from her flat in Swiss Cottage, there being no buses or Underground trains in London this morning - apart from a reduced service on the Victoria Line, that being the only Underground line to be entirely under the ground. In fact, the only people who hadn't made it in were the non-foreigners - in other words, the 'British'. How sad and pathetic this is, really. What is all this 'training' in aid of if it fails to give us any backbone? And why were there no buses? Apparently, they ran throughout the Blitz; but Mayor of London for the Noughties, Boris Johnson blustered an excuse along the lines that it wasn't worth spending taxpayers' money on gritters and snowploughs for such a rare contingency as the current snowstorm. Unlike somewhere like Finland, say, where I remember the buses running on time in the far north of that country in temperatures well below freezing. (In fact, I was sorely disappointed not to be able to claim a day off work in Kemi when the mecury dropped below minus 10 C.) Yet London, 'one of the Western world's richest and largest capitals,' according to ITN, had manifestly spent a fortune on the entertainment for the Chinese New Year celebrations in Trafalgar Square yesterday, a celebration that attracted a huge crowd (and Mayor Boris, who was speechifying), in spite of the snow flurries and the biting wind that were threatening the city a good 12 hours before the blizzard brought it to a standstill. PM Gordon Brown has seen fit to chuck billions of taxpayers' money the ailing banks and (latterly) the car industry. Not at snowploughs and bus crews, though. Snowploughs, it seems, are a contingency too far. In fact, no one would think it ever snowed or rained heavily in this country, in spite of our unusual weather's being such a staple ingredient of British social intercourse. Funny really.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

RECONCILIATION-RECRIMINATION: Nothing new in Northern Ireland...

Heated exchanges in the Northern Ireland provinces today, triggered in the main by the proposal to pay a per capita compensation of twelve thousand pounds to 'victims' (that is, surviving relatives) of bombers on both sides of the Terror equation and innocent bystanders alike. Curiously, twelve thousand pounds is also the projected per capita debt of British taxpayers in a recession that now places us top of the league of recession-hit countries - thanks, of course, to Britain's rise as a major financial services sector after industry and manufacturing were systematically run down under the Thatcher Revolution. But they might have run down anyway. These islands have been picked over for their collective natural resources since the late eighteenth century. We were the first industrialised nation, and the first to fall. And we were the first financial sector, and the first, it seems to fall now, inspite of inheriting bad debts from the subprime loans scandal in the USA. Has being the biggest global empire (and that fell) taught us nothing at all about collective hubris? Instead of whinging about all this, we should accept it, stiffen those upper lips and CARRY ON REGARDLESS. God grant us the sense to live by what we need (Aeschylus - the ancient Greeks knew a lot about hubris!)

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Loop the Loop...

I'm starting this blog to stop myself shouting at the TV set. Every night now, and especially with the Hot Topic of the great Recession, our news in the UK gets loopier and loopier. Our government today announced the latest in a series of increasingly desperate short-term measures to refloat the economy: to whit - two billion more pounds sterling chucked this time at the ailing car industry. Only a year or two ago, the same Labour Government was telling us we were driving too many cars and penalising everyone who drove a car with a bigger engine than my little old (really old) Nissan Micra. But the issue here is not about cars at all; it's about common sense - or lack of it - on a grand old scale. I object to my tax being used to bale out banks and other corporates. And then being told (for this will come) that there's no money in the pot for health and education - sorry, 'training'.

I'm no financial expert (though I did make one or two inspired investments in the good old days); but I can go with the sound-bite from a worker at the beleagured Nissan factory. How can chucking money at the MANUFACTURER help, he wondered, if no one is buying cars anymore? Well said. Surely the sensible long term view is to accept that the car industry as we know it is on its last legs (wheels?) anyway - except possibly in China, and that any available tax revenue should go to retraining those workers who will, as sure as eggs is eggs, be on the scrap heap when the tide comes in. Just like the miners in the 1980s or the steelworkers or printers and all those other innocent casualties of the systematic run down of British manufacturing industry in the last thirty years.

And it's no good the Tories weighing in here either for they'd do nothing at all - not the Party that stepped back and leered at the Miners' Strike; the party that doesn't believe in interventionist Big Government in any shape or form. Labour may have lost the plot and, for what it was worth, my vote today (after 20 years) but that doesn't mean I'd vote for the opposition. But the Brown Cabinet just doesn't hack it. It governs - sure: there's far too much of that these days and not enough inspirational leadership. I mean, just look at them...JUST LOOK AT THEM!

On the lighter side, the BBC came up with an item today about a holiday company that doesn't welcome 'chavs' called Shannon or Britney, consciously targetting middle-class clients with names like James and Alice.

Only in dear old Blighty...