Thursday, July 31, 2008

[fuel crisis] why not go maritime?

There was some great reading yesterday with Jam's story of the Cagots but today is equally interesting, with Gallimaufry's take on steam-powered vehicles. William Gruff came in with an interesting comment and an idea occurred to me, spurious at first, I admit but then I saw the possibilities.

It might just work.

1. All new road projects become canals, which take far less investment to construct - not the narrow canals of the past but broad "four lane" jobs with locks for the hills.

2. Existing roads can be converted over a twenty year period, thereby spreading the cost.

3. Small craft of the catamaran and junk sail [or lug sail] variety would be built cheaply, far cheaper than new cars and can ply the canals which link major waterways.

1. The fuel and construction sectors would never abide it.

Answer: They would if they had a stake in the canalization of the whole country ... plus fuel is simply losing all appeal as an investment. For those who didn't want to sail, crop fuelled putt-putts could be used as well.
2. The transport and cargo sectors would be decimated.

Answer; Why? Look how much more could be moved by water.
3. The whole pace of life would slow down unbearably, transport times, ordering of goods from another centre would triple in time and so on.

Answer: Yes. And what?
4. People would be forced into the very new-feudalism which libertarians are now railing against.

Answer: Yes, that's so. Three acres and a cow again. So, for that very reason, the globalists might just go for it, with available fuel swung into defence.
If one thinks about it, you could see how it would improve the whole mood of the nation - the noise, pollution, stress for the average person ... plus the globalists would be happy.

Also, Britain has a maritime history, the people are no strangers to inland waters. So why not?

[one question quiz] are you educated?

Who is Google's biggest client? [This means single user and including any new clients of the last few days.]

Answer is below in white.

The NSW Department of Education

[suez] end of an empire

This is the Wiki article abridged and paraphrased . You can read the whole thing through, view the summary below or just click out with a sigh. :)

The Suez Canal was opened in 1869, having been financed by the French and Egyptian governments. Technically, the territory of the canal proper was sovereign Egyptian territory, and the operating company, the Universal Company of the Suez Maritime Canal (Suez Canal Company) was an Egyptian-chartered company, originally part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

To the British, the canal was the ocean link with its colonies in India, the Far East, Australia, and New Zealand and the area as a whole became strategically important. Thus, in 1875, the British government of Benjamin Disraeli bought the Egyptian share of the operating company, obtaining partial control of the canal's operations and sharing it with mostly-French private investors.

In 1882, during the invasion and occupation of Egypt, the United Kingdom took de facto control of the canal proper, finance and operation. The Convention of Constantinople (1888) declared the canal a neutral zone under British protection. In ratifying it, the Ottoman Empire agreed to permit international shipping to freely pass through the canal, in time of war and peace.

In 1948, the British Mandate of Palestine ended, the British forces withdrew from Palestine, and Israel declared independence. Britain's military strength was spread throughout the region, including the vast military complex at Suez with a garrison of some 80,000.

[Then came the Islamic rise in Egypt and increasingly frosty post-war relations between Britain and Egypt.]

In October 1951, the Egyptian government unilaterally abrogated the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian treaty, the terms of which granted Britain lease on the Suez base for 20 years. Britain refused to withdraw from Suez. The price of such a course of action was a steady escalation in increasingly violent hostility towards Britain.

[Now followed the removal of the Egyptian monarchy, increasing Arab obstruction of the canal and a 1953-54 attempt by Britain to mend relations. They would withdraw the garrison gradually if they could influence the canal zone. Nasser was unpopular at home for this agreement and Egypt also saw Jordan and Iraq as a threat, those two being friendly towards Britain.

Now came Nasser's civil unrest and obstruction of Britain across the arab world, coupled with the Czechoslovakian arms deals, bringing vast weapons reserves to the middle-east and cutting the reliance on western arms.]

On May 16th, 1956, Nasser officially recognized the People's Republic of China. Washington withdrew all American financial aid for the Aswan Dam project on July 19th. Nasser's response was the nationalization of the Suez Canal.

After the American government didn't support the British protests, the British government decided for the military intervention against Egypt to avoid the complete collapse of British prestige in the region.

However, direct military intervention ran the risk of angering Washington and damaging Anglo-Arab relations. As a result, the British government concluded a secret military pact with France and Israel that aimed at regaining the Suez Canal.

[Now followed various meetings and then ...]

Three months after Egypt's nationalization of the canal company, a secret meeting took place at Sèvres, outside Paris. Britain and France enlisted Israeli support for an alliance against Egypt.

The parties agreed that Israel would invade the Sinai. Britain and France would then intervene, instructing that both the Israeli and Egyptian armies withdraw their forces to a distance of 16 km from either side of the canal.

The British and French would then argue that Egypt's control of such an important route was too tenuous, and that it needed be placed under Anglo-French management.

[Britain failed to inform the U.S., expecting that it would accede to the fait accompli. Israel began the attack on October 29th, 1956. It was messy but came to this point ...]

On November 3, 20 F4U-7 Corsairs from the 14.F and 15.F Aéronavale taking off from the French carriers Arromanches and La Fayette, attacked the Cairo aerodrome. Nasser responded by sinking all 40 ships present in the canal, closing it to further shipping until early 1957.

[However ...]

The operation to take the canal was highly successful from a military point of view, but was a political disaster due to external forces.

The Eisenhower administration forced a cease-fire on Britain, Israel, and France which it had previously told the Allies it would not do. The U.S. demanded that the invasion stop and sponsored resolutions in the UN Security Council ...

Part of the pressure that the United States and the rest of NATO used against Britain was financial, as President Eisenhower threatened to sell the United States reserves of the British pound and thereby precipitate a collapse of the British currency.

[Various embargos and the criticism by the Commonwealth at a time when this represented the last vestige of the Empire also pressured Britain. The pound was pressured and Eden resigned.

The main fallout was that France and Britain were weakened in international eyes, world power effectively shifted to the superpowers and France fell out with its allies, with some justification this time, promoting its own interests and supposedly giving nuclear secrets to Israel.

Could Britain have played it better?

Yes, of course. The leadership relied on the old Empire clout too much but that was understandable, given the history of Britain in Palestine and Suez. In this blogger's eyes, the most significant factor though was the refusal of the U.S. to help, coupled with its out and out obstruction in the end.

If Britain had brought the U.S. into the game, I doubt it would have altered much. There would have been equal hostility to America and though the military operation still would have been successful, Britain would have to have conceded the whip hand to the U.S. This was a slap in the face of Britain's prestige, which MacMillan acknowledged was the new reality in his willingness to accommodate the Americans from that point forward.

It would be nice to think that a Churchill, Thatcher or Ian Botham type could have steered a better course with a lot of "side" to it but one wonders how much better they would have done.]

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

[non news] sky beats it into shape

We were watching Sky News last night and this Anna Jones was trying to beat up the Los Angeles quake yesterday.

Well, it's not as if it is the first time its happened - I mean they were sort of forewarned, weren't they?

She had a local radio station type online and was asking if people were terrified or injured or whatever and he kept replying with words like "mild", "normal" and so on. She tried a few more descriptive words like "major quake" and "loss of life" but it was clear the local wasn't buying so she brought out her trump:

"Is this the one before the Big One Los Angleles has been expecting?"
... or words to that effect. We were smiling at her attempts to beat it up, all the while nice scenic shots of the city and environs were being shown. Suddenly the camera zoomed in on a puddle at a crossroads - could this have been due to the quake?

Giving up on that, Sky cut to Belgrade and waited for the 50 or so hooligans to attack the riot police. Again the reporter wasn't buying the sensationalist line. He spoke of expecting it and that it was far fewer people than the last time, mostly well behaved.

Poor old Sky went to commercial then came back with the 7.5 seconds when the police actually were using truncheons on hooligans who'd thrown bricks and a line like "violent clashes on the streets of Belgrade".

Reminds me of Python's Ralph Mellish sketch:

Scarcely able to believe his eyes, Ralph Mellish looked down. But one glance confirmed his suspicions. Behind a bush, on the side of the road, there was no severed arm, no dismembered trunk of a man in his late fifties, no head in a bag – nothing - not a sausage.

For Ralph Mellish, this was not to be the start of any trail of events which would not, in no time at all, involve him in neither a tangled knot of suspicion, nor any web of lies, which would, had he been involved, surely have led him to no other place, than the central criminal court of the Old Bailey.

Quality Aussie Poems Mate

I know that James likes poetry, so I thought he might like this.

While lions have their pride
Elephants take you for a ride
But a llama could be calmer
For a farmer who seeks karma

Beaut Mate

More here and thanks Authorblog: Verse And Worse

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Whilst we're on a theme of roses...

Whilst we're on a theme of roses...

I proudly present the White Rose, the Yorkshire flag.

Further to this, John, here.

Griselda writes of rugger, roses and rubbers

Introducing Griselda again, readers. You can catch her previous two posts here and here. Her website is here. A very warm welcome again to the columnist from the Greater Titcup Echo, in the west country.

More advice for the lovelorn

Dear Griselda,

You seem like a sensible sort of girl, a good sort a man could get along with – a girl with common sense. So perhaps you could explain my lady love’s recent moods.

I just don’t understand her any more. Only the other day, for instance, she went into a sulk forever because I hadn’t noticed her change in hair style. All right, it used to be waist length and brunette and now it’s cropped and a golden colour but still … how is a busy man supposed to notice these things?

Lately she keeps asking me what colour her eyes are – well, how should I know that? I hardly stare at them, do I? Even last weekend, she went beserk when she found that the Aber Rugger Club’s annual do was players and officials only and she’d gone and spent £500 on some dressy thing which hit the wallet pretty badly, I can tell you.

It took ages calming her down and I missed the sports results on the Beeb, damn it.

Everything came to a head yesterday when she asked me if I loved her and I said she was a part of me, almost part of the furniture, in fact. For some reason I had a chair thrown at me for that and it just missed poking my eye out.

I really don’t want to make a mistake now her birthday’s coming up sometime (she keeps dropping hints) and I’m at a loss what to buy. I thought maybe some Aber Rugger Club earmuffs might go well with her new evening dressy thing.

What do you think, Griselda? I’m at my wits’ end. If you can sort this one out for me, there’s a pint of Brains coming your way.

Dai Llewellyn-Jones

Well, Dai

I think I too would have been a little put out to be compared to furniture and you were probably quite lucky it was only a chair. My best advice is to watch this video below and by the way, mine is a Pimms N1, boyo.


Dear Griselda

I’d prefer to keep my identity to myself if you don’t mind but the thing is, it’s all so tedious.

Well, I suppose I should start at the beginning, yes. It’s all well and fine, you know, his ex-wife moaning about three in a marriage but those were exciting times, being the other woman, you might say.

And now?

I knew public life was never going to be a bed of roses, what with his sense of destiny and so on but I feel more than a little sympathy with Cecilia Sarkozy, I can tell you.

You’re probably wondering why I would be writing to a provincial rag like yours but your fame has spread beyond Lower Titcup, you have to understand – my son and yourself are both budding cookery writers, after all.

So the thing is – what to do? Perhaps you could throw this open to your readers.

Ex-Gloucestershire Lady

Dear Ex-Gloucestershire Lady

Well, as you say, it’s best to throw this open to the readers and without further ado, over to you, readers.

Love and kisses,


And finally, Griselda’s household tip to sign off with, stolen from Woman's Realm: Tips and Wrinkles [Pan, 1972]

Rubbers and how to use them. Make rubber gloves last twice as long: turn them inside out and stick plasters on the tips of the fingers. Before throwing them away, cut the cuffs into strips and they make wonderful rubber bands. Lastly, if you put a few drops of glycerine in water, this makes the rubber more flexible.

See you soon.

[illegal immigrants] to exclude or to house?

Please look at Welshcakes' current post on the incidents in the Cathedral. Illegal immigrants went into a church and occupied it, from which action police were then involved. Welshcakes concludes:

Does a country have a right, or even a duty, to look after its own citizens first? On the other hand, surely everyone has a right to be treated with some human dignity? What would any of us do if we suddenly found ourselves homeless through no fault of our own?
Many, many questions to think on and I have others too. I was reading in La Sicilia [dead wood version] how in Genoa there is also a bunfight over a proposed mosque being built.


Am I an extremist? I hope not, I really do, as I lived among muslims for 13 years, worked with and for them and can only say they were fine people in my eyes. There's no ingratitude here. There were mosques everywhere and I sometimes went into them with muslims and discussed their religion.

More recently, some readers know I was close to some Indonesian friends [and still consider myself a friend.]

One of the reasons for the Italian intransigence on Islam coming in is their observation of what went wrong in Britain. Having said that, I have now invited trouble upon myself. So be it. On the other hand, the plight of the refugees is a humanitarian one - these people need to have something to eat, they need to have the dignity to be able to just wash or lay the head down somewhere.

They are mainly muslim and their desperation to flee their countries or die is an indictment of those countries. I strongly suspect that the powers that be in those countries know full well what they're doing through their oppression - both offloading excess population and indirectly bringing Islam back into southern Italy.

Welshcakes took the point of view - how can a country say yes to a Christian church, yes to a Buddhist and Jewish but no to a mosque? My answer is that you have to look at the track records of each of these. I ask you now - would most Brits feel that the Jewish synagogue was a major threat to Britain? How about a Christian church? And so on. Of course not.

And why not? Assimilation of the group - most groups coming in do assimilate with the local society. Not necessarily adopting all so-called "British culture" per se but certainly willing to get on with life here as a Brit.

They don't demand special rooms during Ramadan or refuse to accept public housing because it is not to their specifications. Most religions and other groups coming in don't have houses of worship in which trouble is stirred up by extremists. Most don't even have extremists.

And don't forget the question of sheer numbers.

In the end, this question comes down to two things - firstly, are all religions and cultures equivalent or are there, possibly, some groups which really do have a track record of trouble coming out of them and export that trouble en masse? Secondly - is democracy their inalienable right, the right to incite etc.?

Or does the classic liberal maxim apply - freedom to do anything as long as it doesn't impinge on anyone else? The Italians have a fierce attachment to democracy but they've drawn the line at Islamic inroads along the British pattern. That's their decision. Democracy yes - but for registered citizens.

So to return to the poor boat people in the cathedral. Why would they have chosen to go to a Christian cathedral and not, say, to the local police station or hostel or mission for homeless people? Why would a group of muslims choose a Christian church to occupy? Minor point perhaps.

I don't believe we can trot out relativistic and equivalent positions without also considering track records of certain populations. For example, the Somalis are well known here for their intransigence. They can argue this out with the Italians - I'm just mentioning it. I'm certainly not getting into the Roms.

Whilst reasonable people would surely concede that the trouble comes from a small proportion of a population, it still happens though, doesn't it?

The Italians have decided that they don't want a bar of it and this is a proud nation which reveres its tolerance in these matters, which is evident in all other dealings with the Clandestini. But now a state of emergency has been declared in this country and no one really knows what to do.

I certainly don't know either.

You might like to look at my previous post on the Clandestini and Tony Sharp's post link within it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

[the doha dodo] logically impossible

The whole point in trade is that you get access to their markets and can access their technology, whilst protecting your own producers, e.g. in grain and minerals.

At a meeting like Doha, it's slightly ridiculous because each side is never going to concede protection of its farmers but at the same time, it wants access to the other nations' markets.

Pascal Lamy's 12% protection proposal is fraught because the very 12% each nation protects is precisely the one which the other countries wish to access. No one's going to settle for second best and offer their best to partners. China in particular is not going to do that.

Therefore Doha is still a Dodo, even before its official close.

[bart simpson] now the exhibition

From late July to August, you can see the exhibition inspired by Bart Simpson.

All you have to do is motor up to Glasgow, catch a flight to Iceland and ask at the nearest bar. Should be
well worth going to see.

Presuming you're crazy about Bart that is, as seen through Icelandic eyes.

[terrorist attack] perhaps

They may well be as claimed by Turkish security:

Police said they believed the attackers were members of a Turkish Sunni fundamentalist group, the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders Front.
... or they may not. There've been a number of instances of groups being slow to claim responsibility and that smacks of a broader destabilization plan. I always think one must look at the net effect of such a thing - whose attitudes does it harden and why would anyone want those attitudes hardened?

In other words, who are all the groups or countries who stand to gain overall?

I can't see the killing itself as the main object. On the other hand, there is a type of law-unto-himself person who just gets a kick out of seeing the big explosion. The sniper killings in the U.S. spring to mind here.

Might well be wrong.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

[british seaside resorts] one beneficiary of the recession

Rather pleased, actually, that many Brits are turning back to a long neglected part of their country - the seaside resort. Morecambe in particular holds an interest for me.

When it lost out to Blackpool with its greatly overrated illuminations, even the Winter Gardens, Frontierland, the Midland Hotel and the rest of it couldn't save it - that is, until now. Now the British holidaymakers are returning due to soaring costs elsewhere but it's a sorry sight to return to.

It's a bit like neglecting a trusty car which had served you well for some new-fangled piece of machinery, only to have to sell it and return to your old faithful, now half corroded and careworn but with a smile on its grill that you have returned.

Morecambe's tides made the news not so long ago with the deaths of those Chinese fishermen; it has always been a problem, necessitating a Queen's Guide to the Sands and yet ... and yet ... isn't that part of the adventure, like Lindisfarne on the other coast?

It would be lovely to see places like this drag themselves into the 21st century and offer some of the things overseas holiday spots offer, with just that touch of Britishness to them and a rich history to boot. Drop some of the tackiness and it could take off in the new millennium.

UPDATE at No Clue on seaside resorts.

UPDATE UPDATE at Weston-super-Mare

[justice] what lengths would you go to

Older readers would recall the Winslow Boy, the play by Terrence Rattigan, where a boy is wrongly accused of stealing and his father almost breaks his family in getting the boy exonerated.

Witness this one in the photograph. It was when a black soldier was accused of participating in a lynching and:

Despite their protests of innocence -- and the government's own secret investigation showing the prosecution's case was poisonously flawed -- the men were sentenced to hard labor and forfeiture of military pay and benefits, and were given dishonorable discharges.
Now they have finally been exonerated but at what cost? In Agatha Christie's Tuesday Club Murders and other stories, a similar theme appears quite often - that someone is accused but in this case is not punished but merely suspected for the rest of his or her life.

Example was the trusted servant whom the husband and wife then no longer trusted anywhere around money or valuables when a brooch went missing. She went to her grave, the servant, still under the cloud. Later the wife found her brooch down the back of a chest of drawers.

UPDATE Monday - the veteran who was the subject of the report has now died after receiving his apology.

[drunk passengers] rear deck urgently required

What the hell is going on these days? Here it is again:

Two drunk British women went on a rampage on a charter plane, trying to hit a flight attendant with a bottle of vodka and attempting to open a cabin door as the aircraft was cruising over Austria at 10,000 metres, police said today.
Just posted on that recently and so we have more evidence that we need a rear deck and railing on aircraft.

It's simple. Passenger gets drunk, is issued with an auto-opening parachute and food pack, then courteously shown the rear deck exit.

He or she does the rest.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

[saturday caption] add your comments

[the unexpected] never at a convenient time

Qatar interior from Wiki

I'm sorry to go on about yesterday's issue of the Qantas flight, when it has been blanket covered by the media but it still really chills me:

"Seeing the hole caused a lot of emotion. People were physically shaking. Many realised how close they were to their own mortality."

It's not just that I've done that run many times and with various incidents - it's something more.

I was once onboard when the flight took off on the second leg to Australia and they told us that a red light was flashing and they were returning to the airport. That delayed us and it turned out to be nothing.

Another was when we were about to take off [from Bangkok this time] and they then decanted us from the plane, all baggage was removed and placed in a large circle and passengers were asked to identify their baggage, open it and await inspection.

Yet another time, we were in the air and I was nervous for some reason. I told the stewardess [sounds really weak, this] about the feeling and she took me up to the cockpit where the flight engineer told me this was the flight which had indeed fallen 15 000 feet on it's last run to Australia from this airport. He explained that the autopilot worked on wave patterns in the air but sometimes these acted irregularly and the plane took some time to pick up on it. No one had been hurt.

More broadly, I was on a BA flight to Heathrow in 2000 and all was normal until we approached Heathrow. Suddenly we dropped 10 000 feet in a few seconds, the airbrakes outside the window shuddering but all the way down it had seemed a controlled drop and hardly anyone was badly affected.

The pilot had been told by aircraft control to immediately be at a different level and now he was told to loop round until a gate was found. What exacerbated it was when he came onto the intercom and said that if we cared to look out of the starboard window, we'd see another plane but not to worry. He'd also been asked to circle round London until a gate became available.

In April-May, getting away from aircraft for awhile, I was doing the usual routine, snug and secure in Russia, then found myself in Sicily in a whirlwind conjunction of events. I have to tell you that that was interesting but a bit jangly on the nerves. It's now possibly arising again in August, possibly not. It's up in the air [sorry for the excruciating pun].

Mortality - how things suddenly drop out.

How to prepare? You can't, simply can't. You just have to meet it as it comes. Promise not to get religious here but it definitely helps a hell of a lot to have some sort of faith as a way through. Also, I suspect all your pigeons come home to roost now too - as you've acted yourself, so it comes back on you now.

It might have just been an incident on a Qantas flight to Australia but it had me thinking very deeply about everything. Don't laugh but yesterday I was in the caffe sipping a coffee and watched them opening the bar in the roundabout between the caffe and the church. I saw the church door open and though I'm not Catholic, I went in there for a while.

Perhaps time to end this before it turns maudlin.

Friday, July 25, 2008

[flight] amazing how these things stay up there

Think they were pretty lucky but the procedures were obviously good.

[flying dutchman] on and on and on

Thinking about this lately:

The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that is cursed to sail the seas for eternity. It is often said to have a ghostly glow, and like many other supernatural entities throughout folklore, it is said to herald danger or doom for those who see it.

Quite a few sightings of the Flying Dutchman have been reported throughout history, and stories about the ghost ship's origins abound. Many versions of the Flying Dutchman story set the scene of the ship's loss at the Cape of Good Hope, the Southern tip of Africa.
Nautical version of the Wandering Jew perhaps.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

[your cash] in a shoebox in your cupboard

From the Asia Times:

Since a major effect of inflation is psychological, the fact that inflationary pressure has decisively moved back into the 1970s range is important.

At 5% per annum, inflation cannot be ignored. Investors cannot buy fixed-income securities without taking account of the fact that the principal of those securities will have devalued by more than half by the time they are repaid (if they are of 15 years or longer maturity.)

The combination of inflation and un-indexed income and capital gains taxes rapidly raises the tax rate on capital returns to an extremely high level, depressing still further the incentive to save.

For the layperson, this last seems the key to me - the disincentive to save. So in the light of this, what to make of Sackerson's post today, suggesting, via Mish:

The entire US banking system is insolvent.
In Russia there is a long tradition of keeping the money in a shoebox in the top cupboard, keeping it in hard currency and never trusting anyone's exhortations to part with it.

Griselda Writes ... Advice for the Lovelorn

Griselda Haveschott is the lady from Lower Titcup who opened her account as a guest blogger yesterday. You might recall her version of Stargazy Pie. True to her word, she's this day sent in part of her popular "advice for the lovelorn" column which she writes for the Greater Titcup Echo. She assures me that the two letters from the public below are as genuine as genuine can be.

Hello readers of James' blog, Griselda again with my July 22nd advice column in the GTE. James felt it might assist his readers with their personal problems as well:

Dear Griselda,

Please can you help me? Until a few weeks ago I thought I’d found Mr Right at last. This man is charismatic, witty, handsome and a wonderful lover. He brings me flowers and buys me expensive jewellery.

The thing is, though, that he won’t tell me where he lives or works and he won’t let me have his phone number – not even his mobile. He always leaves my flat before midnight and is never able to spend a bank holiday with me.

When he takes me out he makes me wear dark glasses, a high-collared Burberry and a headscarf tied just like the Queen ties hers. That’s not even fashionable, is it? And he says he has to keep his trenchcoat on and his trilby pulled down over his eyes everywhere he goes. I am beginning to think that we might look a little strange on Weston-super-Mare Pier in summer.

Do you think there could be a slight problem?

Mandy Eastborough
Love Lane

Well Mandy dear, we go back a long way, don't we and I know your thoughts on fashion. With the circle Her Majesty moves in, the Balmoral headgear is quite appropriate and you know there is still a vestige of loyalism in this country which likes to follow its monarch’s lead.

Now about your little problem. Are you talking about last Friday week when Brian came into the Brahms and Liszt with Jenny and while she went into the snug he was making eyes at you? Jenny tells me there was absolutely nothing in that, you know. No, I think perhaps you’re referring to another gentleman altogether and yes, there may well be a little problem there. Might I suggest you don your Queenly garb one more time, pop round to 51 Naseby Rd about 9.30 Saturday morning and have a quick peek?

Dear Griselda

Recently my wife and I gave a dinner party for eight at our new Tudor style near the north end of Rutting Forest. We'd toiled pretty much all day to produce the goods, only to have it ruined when one of the guests, who shall remain nameless, straight after the consomme, went out to his Beema for a CD which he then calmly came back and inserted in our player ... our player, mind ... after first switching off OUR background music, grunting, "Can't stand bloody Bon Jovi". Well, really!

What precisely is the etiquette regarding guests bringing music to get-togethers?

[Name withheld for fear of reprisals]

Ladies and gentlemen, Griselda now throws this one open to the readers for your thoughts on the matter. Should guests bring their own music, are we all being just a little oversensitive these days, could we not put up with our hosts' choice just for a couple of hours? Your responses gladly received.

Finally, two thoughts to leave you with, as I always do at the GTE:

Make sure you know where the main stopcock is in the house, that it is in working order and that everyone living in the house knows where it is. I pinched this from Woman's Realm: Tips and Wrinkles [Pan, 1972].

Also, I saw this in visiting some of James' blogfriends: Never trust a man with a beard.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A guide to the Yorkshire Dales - the jewel in the crown of Northern England

John Hirst reflects on the Yorkshire Dales:

A guide to the Yorkshire Dales - the jewel in the crown of Northern England

"The Yorkshire Dales is a region in the county of North Yorkshire in England. The Yorkshire Dales contains some of the most spectacular scenery on (and under) God's own Earth. Once you have set foot in a Yorkshire Dale, you will be touched with a magic that will stay with you all your life, as any local will tell you".

"Welcome to
digital Malham ...

On these pages you will find information on the areas of outstanding natural beauty which surround the Yorkshire Dales village of Malham.

We encourage you to take some time out and discover some of the geological treasures that lie within

Malham Tarn

Malam Cove

Janet's Foss

"Foss is the old norse word for a waterfall or force and Janet (or Jennet) was belived to be the queen of the local fairies who lives behind the the fall in a cave".

Gordale Scar

"To the north of the Mid Craven Fault in the Malham Formation is Gordale Scar, which was carved as a meltwater channel beneath the Devensian ice-sheet. The sides of this gorge overhang to a considerable extent, suggesting that there was once a great cavern, the roof of which has subsequently collapsed".

Stargazy Pie and how to improvise

Today, Nourishing Obscurity has a scoop.

Griselda Haveshott is a lady I met on my last trek through the west country of England in Lower Titcup, not all that far from Warminster at the local watering hole. When she told me she was the editor for practically everything at the evening newspaper, I just had to get her to guest post on this blog.

She took some persuading but here’s her first piece below without comment. Welcome, Griselda.

James has been corresponding with me for some time, I’m not sure why, and he asked me some time back to do a guest post on his blog. Well I don’t know but I said I’d give it a try if he’d edit it like so I wouldn’t look a complete twat. I write for the Greater Titcup Echo, the evening paper in Lower Titcup, down here in the west country and there’s hardly any time for my own writing, what with being the fashion editor, cricket correspondent and personal advice columnist, let alone Graeme Pollard, that’s my editor-in-chief, giving me the food and wine column as well now that Enid Barnes has left to have a baby and the twin boys are doing fine except for a slight bronchial complication with Justin, the younger by a half-head.

When I asked James what he wanted me to write on, he suggested women’s issues but I’m not the woman’s editor, that’s Bridget Proops, sister-in-law of the well-known Geraldine Proops, wife of Sir Raymond Proops the local squire round these parts although he’s sold off most of the manor and they’ve just kept up the Foss Hill house (we call it the Big House), overlooking Balsall Bridge over the Isk River. Actually, it’s just a stream really before it joins the Aster further down towards the lock but it’s quite pretty you know, the view from Squire Proops’s hill like.

I suppose the best way to open my account (my cricket writing shows out here) is to give you the recipe for Stargazy Pie. I’ve been accused by mean-spirited people of pilfering this from Jane Grigson’s Observer book of British cookery but it’s not, it’s mine, well some adjustments are mine anyway. And I never took nothing from Mrs. Beeton who’s not so pure herself when it comes to pinching ideas, is she?

Stargazy Pie

Roll out pastry for double crust pie plate. Cover the plate, brush the rim with water and roll out another piece for the lid. Keep it aside. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C or 400 degrees F.

Clean and bone the fish …

NB: Anyone who knows the west country knows that pilchards went out long ago and now all you get is mackerel so clearly you have to compromise here. I suggest pigeons. Yes, I know, I know. You can’t get squabs anymore so the best bet is the readily available wood pigeon. Not as tasty but there you are.

Here we need to go to Mrs. Beeton (Ward Lock edition) who say lop off the heads of a brace of pigeons, cut each of ’em into four and lie ’em on their bed of gore (no, that’s Wallace, i’n it?). Well, all right. Let’s do the chopped bacon and hard-boiled eggs. Well actually, you need to lay the pigeon bits down first, making sure the heads are sticking off the edge of the plate, gazing up at the stars, I expect this dish has to be prepared at night or at the very least, mid-evening.

Push the mix in between the pigeon bits, put the pastry lid over the top, pushing it down to the pastry below so that it forms a wavy effect as if it’s all at sea, this dish like. Did I mention you have to do a pastry base first? Brush with beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes, though as it’s pigeons like well you have to give ’em 15 minutes extra at a reduced heat.

Serve with a jug of Malmsey wine. If James will have me here again, I’ll be back in a few days with advice for the lovelorn: you should see the hanky panky down our way, what with Joe Kelly and Anita Proops the younger (she’s one of the Proops, you know) but that’s a story for another day.

James, how did I go first time? I wanted to put in a photo of the quartered pigeons you know but I suppose you know best and all the pictures are from Wikipedia like.

Didn't have a photo of the pie with the heads sticking out so had to follow this idea and have a porcelain head sticking out of the middle of the pie.

Crossposted at Griselda's new site.

[gore's spin] doesn't alter the phenomenon though

Tom Paine has posted this:

Al Gore is the 21st Century's Karl Marx. His influential presentation of pseudo-scientific gobbledegook and its adoption as gospel truth by the gullible masses (of intellectuals) will kill millions of the real masses and ensure that hundreds of millions more live their whole lives in unnecessary poverty because of arrested economic development.

His ideas justify ruthless centralisation of state power on "humanitarian" grounds and are therefore irresistibly attractive to politicians of a certain ilk, who will live high on the hog behind closed doors while their subject peoples suffer and die. Stupid mug punters will fall for the spiel because it's "for a better future." It will all collapse in chaos, with only Guardian journalists and British academics still believing in it when the scales have fallen from everyone else's eyes. The parallel is exact.
Yes Tom, no argument there. The climate change issue is being used to centralize power on humanitarian grounds. Unfortunately it doesn't alter the basic phenomenon itself, which I've posted on many times. There is firm evidence at least to counter head in the sand sceptics but the best evidence is to visit Russia or other northern area and see it for yourself. Moscow is too "city" to be taken as evidence.

The point is that it does exist but has been hijacked by the Gores for political purposes, one of those purposes, I feel being to discredit the whole phenomenon, which I see has happened in most of the sphere already.

It's more complex than categorical statements would have us believe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

[adriano celentano] wild man of italian music

Adriano Celentano was, I believe, the first Italian popular singer I ever heard, long before I started studying Italian here or plagiarizing Welshcakes!

The youtube below is my favourite from the wild man of Italian pop who has attracted severe criticism over many decades for his outspoken views and antics, at the same time enjoying great adulation.

Una Rosa Pericolosa

Non provocarmi mai
non provocarmi mai
o scoppia la guerra tra noi
son d'accordo ma
ma non marciarci sai
non distruggere
questo amore mai
è tutto ciò
che tu hai
quanti brividi dai
con quello sguardo provochi
Tu accendi i fiammiferi
che poi si spengono
e il buio ritorna
perché lo fai
ci son pericoli
che non si vedono
non sono evidenti
ti accorgi poi

Tu sei una cosa
pericolosa e preziosa
dipinta di rosa
che per il freddo non sboccia mai
nemici noi è un dolore sai
se giochi tu io non gioco più

I fuochi divampano
e accende il tuo fascino
non sai rinunciare e allora vai

Tu sei una cosa
pericolosa e preziosa
dipinta di rosa
che per il freddo non sboccia mai
nemici noi è un dolore sai
se giochi tu io non gioco più

I fuochi divampano
e accende il tuo fascino
non sai rinunciare e allora vai
oltre i limiti c'è l'ignoto sai
pensaci bene
o resti o vai
pensaci bene
o resti o vai
o resti o vai...

[velvet quiz] soft on your mind

1. The 1969 group, featuring Lou Reed and John Cale was the Velvet _____ .

2. The phenomenon whereby one is stuck in a well paid rut is known as the velvet _____ .

3. The story of the Brown girl who rides her horse to victory at the Grand National was known as _____ Velvet.

4. The art of velvet weaving probably originated in _____ .

5. Velvet's knitted counterpart is ___ .

Answers - highlight as usual:

underground, rut, national, kashmir, velour

[tennis, anyone?] tenth ball we've lost

Couldn't resist the above from Theo. Who'd be the ball boy?

Speaking of things ancient, which we weren't, Dick Madeley suggests that the:

Wormwood buttering rack, Edwardian rat-hair doormat, woodworm in French fluting and the set of wooden birthing stirrups ...
... are not necessarily an essential accompaniment to the modern bric a brac home, to which he adds:

I’m constantly amazed by the success of shows that get misty eyed over common-or-garden tat.
Well yes, Richard.

[silly season] bit of doggerel

With apologies:

Silly season, and blogging ain't easy
Fish are jumping, and our friends are high
We're far less than rich, and the news ain't worth looking
So hush dearest bloggers, don't you cry.

One of these mornings, you're gonna rise up singing
You're gonna spread your wings and take to the sky
But till that morning, there is nothing to blog on
With your readership already out on the fly

In a few days it's my blog birthday and it began in that season where the major bloggers who ordinarily run fiendish comment moderation and word verification now deign to remove them and actually make it easy for the poor reader.

It's the time when those who rely on the MSM for material reap a bitter harvest [mixing the seasons a little] and when the beach and other fine places are calling. What of the dogged blogger then - the day in-day out type who toils to attract the reader?

Here's a toast to you - to all blogfriends who perhaps lack the resources, perhaps lack the plans to visit exotic climes, who blog on and on into the starry summer night with the cicadas kicking up a din outside your window, with the humid wind buffeting their evening stroll to the pub or with those green and pleasant hills beckoning to be walked upon.

Here's to my fellow bloggers.

[top ten] political blogs to think over

Suppose the Top Ten UK Political Blogs would need to include Iain Dale, Devil's Kitchen, Mr Eugenides ... and then the thinking caps then go on as to who would fill the other spots.

Bloghounds' Donal, Steve and Andrew would be strong contenders for a start. What of our economics bloggers?

And will the Scots be allowed in?

Monday, July 21, 2008

[housekeeping] one day out

Looks like one of those paint by numbers pics but it is more likely real.

Major day in Real Life today so light blogging, hopefully later ... plus visiting.

For Bloghounders, can't process anything just now, sorry but other steering committee hopefully will.

Have a good Monday, readers.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

[day at the seaside] bloody hot

Marina di Modica

Not complaining, mind.

Following on from this morning’s post, arrived home and we’d been invited to the beach for the day. This might sound like a wonderful thing but not:

1. if one’s chest is as white as an old man’s flanks;

2. if one needs to be within range of certain facilities, at this decrepit age;

3. with the temperature rising into the high thirties;

4. if it’s envisaged by our deeply tanned hosts that we’ll lie around like lobsters for a few hours on a rocky outcrop near the end of the beach.

Blowhole at the Marina di Modica

We went down to Marina di Modica and it wasn’t half bad. The sea breeze caressed us, the sailboats were out, the base of a large umbrella was stuck down a rock crevice and provided moderate shade and it didn’t feel as hot as it was.

Actually, it was a shortish time, during which I saw an old brick factory from a century ago with blowholes below it which had been used for pumped water way back when, the area where the turtles lay their eggs in season, heard the story of the landowner – the last of the aristocracy – who sometimes loses so badly at cards that he sells off tracts of land which then become developed into villages and other good things and so on and so on.

We also saw the open air theatre which was originally intended as a swimming pool but because certain measurements went awry, they decided to turn it to its current purpose instead.

The place is where the locals go and there are practically no tourists, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, when the area was finally opened up thirty years ago, Modican families built holiday homes down there and very soon the kilometre or so inland was filled up with them.

This in turn meant that large scale western development was not really possible, foreign capital, in recompense, allowed to develop areas left and right of Marina di Modica.

Another reason was that the authorities have specific foreshore bylaws which preclude such development. For example, any dwelling along the coast is not allowed to be altered in style in any way – in other words, no modern renovations.

A third reason is the lack of reliable public transport to the beach area, making it a cars only affair.

View from the balcony of the holiday house. The split level is the thing here which gives a striking effect - that and the peach and pink coloured concrete.

So anyway, it was back to our hosts’ seaside house for an extended lunch after Welshcakes' leaping around the rocks like a gazelle but the Higham pegged out after that and was soon fast asleep on a recliner on a balcony shaded by a canvas awning and umbrella.

Next thing I knew, we were on the scenic route back to Modica where Welshcakes mercilessly, with cocktail sticks, punctured a chicken she’d rolled and stuffed and another sumptuous repast is sitting in the pan ready to be deep ovened as I write and sip.

How was your Sunday?

I liked the light and shade here - the neighbour's staircase providing shade for us and our balcony providing shade for the people below

[sunday olive tree blogging] the not so ordinary life

The church bells are currently chiming across the valley, all 100 of them, calling the faithful to prayer [or is that the terminology of another religion?], I'm about to head down the shady road for a coffee and croissant, to read La Sicilia in its dead wood manifestation and Sunday has begun.

Yesterday we went down to Consorzio again and the sun was fierce along the way. It's got now so that it's too hot by about 9 a.m. and it doesn't let up until about 8.30 p.m. - "let up" meaning that the shutters can once again be thrown open across the town.

We divided responsibilities yesterday, Welshcakes and I - she would concentrate on the food photography and I'd do more of the cafe itself. We'd both commented immediately on reaching our "under the olive branch" haven that the variegated light looked almost surreal on the tablecloths. Welshcakes qualified that by saying it was more impressionist than surreal and she may well have been right.

Click on the pics and see what you think.

That white linen table cloth and napkins, the scrumptious "pranza" or repast, the service, the Moretti beer and the trees and shrubs themselves, let alone the garden furniture - all conspired to let the previous hellish week's troubles ebb away. It was in no way hot under that tree - perhaps it was warmish.

On the way back up the series of tracks and roads leading up the hill, leading to our hillside retreat, it was bloody hot. One thing which impresses here is that they can take what are virtually concrete boxes with holes in them as houses, add some balconies and walkways between buildings, set the boxes at varying angles to each other and paint them in light shades of apricot and peach and the result is the picture postcard stuff you see on good stands.

If there had been sea, you could be sure it would have been azure.

To cap off the effect, they make much use of foliage of the thicker, overhanging kind, many planter boxes and pot plants and the result is pleasing to the eye. When I mentioned to Welsh that the steep hill simply adds to the overall effect, I did not receive the glance of agreement I'd hoped for.

So, down that path again this morning and may your morning be one of great relaxation and pleasure, free of life's vicissitudes - if only for some hours.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

[thought for the day] retrospective

In the light of Moody's admission of computer error:

A mediocracy does not believe in innate ability. It believes that anyone can be a philosopher, mathematician, or central bank chief — provided they have had appropriate training. A mediocracy does not believe in the value of thinking, or in individuals having innate powers of judgment. It believes in following procedures, making rules, ticking the boxes.

Fabian Tassano]

Fabian quotes the FT:

As one senior risk manager writes ... “we did express to senior management that we lacked the analytical skills ...” (FT)

[empire class flying boat] the need for a rear deck

"Oh for the days of the roomy Empire class flying boats that actually had an (inside) promenade deck." [Gallimaufrey]

That's as may be, Gallifmaufrey ... but I still feel the need for a rear deck and railing, lovely though the promenade deck was.

[salmonella] we know why but it doesn't matter

You remember that recent salmonella outbreak, where tomatoes were blamed?

You know - where the USFDA banned them and stores pulled tomatoes from the shelves? Well, the FDA has now decided that they are fine but are still not ruling out that they might not be fine.

So why would they lift the ban if they're not sure?

However, FDA and CDC officials have not absolved tomatoes as a possible cause of the outbreak and are considering the possibility that both tomatoes and jalapeños have spread Salmonella saintpaul.

Could there be a reason for doing this prematurely?

[one year as someone else] who?

The ever-sublime Bryan Appleyard is torn:

This woman is an inspiration to us all. She is living as Oprah for one year. I am torn between living as the sublime Richard Madeley or sinking into the dark heart of Elberry.
While the first lady wasn't actually shape-shifting into Oprah, still, the principle holds water.

Who would you be for a year? Gordo? Cherie Blair? One half of the McCanns? Mugabe with his opulent monster status? The aging Bill Gates?

Yourself [perhaps with a bit more cash under the belt]?

Friday, July 18, 2008

[air safety] planes need decks and safety railings

Here's a good idea:

An allegedly drunken passenger has attempted to open an exit door of a Boeing 767 while the plane was 35,000 feet in the air.

The man was abusive to passengers and staff on the First Choice flight from Gatwick to Cuba before lunging at the door in an attempt to lift the handle.
I believe WC Fields attempted similar in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break, stepping out onto the rear deck, losing his drink over the railing and toppling after it, to land softly in a clifftop garden where a naive young nubile was well and truly surprised.

With news of airlines finding new ways to cope with rising fuel costs, there might be something in this for them.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

[thought for the day] thursday evening



[good intentions] or cynical foresight

Coffee growing in Ethiopia

From Wolfie:

The road to hell is paved with good intentions they say and without a doubt large swathes of that continent are starting to do a very good impression but little do the well-meaning and generous natured here understand how much they are contributing to the continuation or indeed deepening of that hell.

On the one hand you have the multinationals plundering natural resources whilst lining the pockets of corrupt and cruel governments but on the other you have the toxic results of generations of multinational aid that has laid waste to the fabric of several African nations.
From the Independent, via Wolfie:

They are now — one way or another — virtually all giving aid to or investing in Africa, whereas Africa, with its vast savannahs and its lush pastures, is giving almost nothing to anyone, apart from AIDS.
From the Middle-East Forum, via Cassandra:

In the midst of the effort in Paris to bestow unprecedented sums of foreign aid on the Palestinians, there was little discussion of the unintended consequences — often deadly ones — of previous aid regimens. The recent history of foreign assistance shows a distinct correlation between aid and violence.

Perhaps aid itself does not cause violence, but there is strong evidence that it contributes to a culture of corruption, government malfeasance, and terrorism that has had lethal consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians over the past decade.
The most charitable thing to say is that it is sheer incompetence. The next most charitable is that it is dangerous incompetence and finally, that aid is given in the full knowledge of its consequences, under the current system of distribution and its known effects.

Wolfie and others take a hard line but stop a moment. You give 20 pounds and you think it is going to a poor child. Is it hell. Please take time to read all the related links on both sites and it is an eye-opener.

Compassion is in short supply these days but so are effective routes for aid to get to the right people.

[issues just now] posting when possible

Might be today. Might be some time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

[westminster brown] new impervious stock

Final PMQ was today. Incidentally, here is some of the new livestock with a mobile feeder.

Gallimaufry takes issue though with the portrayal of politicians as pigs.