Friday, 9 May 2008

SOME NECK……………………………………………………….

Churchill is accused of enjoying the war in “Human Smoke”, Nicholas Baker’s controversial history of World War 2 which was published this week. It would be surprising if he had not. His career until that date had consisted of a series of spectacular mistakes. To end it in a burst of martial glory which eclipsed that of his ancestor the Duke of Marlborough was a gift many a pensioner would envy.

It is some years since the historian Noble Frankland pointed out that Churchill believed air support on a battlefield would add a complication without conferring an advantage; that the Germans would be unable to break the French on the Western Front; the Japanese would be too cautious to enter the war and, if they did, Singapore would remain invulnerable.

According to Frankland, Churchill thought that neither submarines nor aircraft would pose a serious threat to battleships and that aerial mines would be better defence than radar. He was responsible for Gallipoli in 1915 and for the disastrous campaign in Norway in 1940. He sent the “Prince of Wales” and the “Repulse” to Singapore, ordered the bombing of Dresden and then condemned it. On the eve of Victory in Europe he summoned the Chiefs of Staff to prepare a plan for an alliance with the German Army for an attack on Russia. He famously agreed to a plan to bomb defenceless tribesmen and said he would not object to the use on them of poison gas.

Biographies of his mother show him to have been constantly urging her to further his career. Only her intervention saved him from involvement in a homosexual scandal in his regiment and his odious son recounted with glee how his father had slept with Ivor Novello in Leeds Castle when a fire necessitated guests sharing a bed. Asked how it was he replied, according to Randolph, “Very musical.”

Difficult not to believe that with him the pen was mightier than the sword when he got in first with his History of the War, making him his own most passionate advocate.

Another chum from broadcasting days is the Earl of Norwich, who every Christmas sends his friends “Christmas Cracker”, a collection of cuttings and quotations which have amused him during the year. On payment of a fiver to John Julius’s favourite charity ‘Venice in Peril’, for which he works tirelessly, I am allowed to reproduce them here. This one is worth every penny.

From an Exeter newspaper:

Donna Challice, a thirty-year-old single mother of three from Devon, has appeared in court accused of failing properly to recycle her household waste. Mrs Challice was being prosecuted for “contaminating recyclable rubbish” under the Environmental Protection Act. She has now been released on bail and will next appear on 5 June 2006 for a pre-trial review.

The Environmental Protection Act specifically states which types of recyclable items must be cleaned and placed in which containers on which days. Mrs Challice has been accused of putting items in the wrong bin on six separate occasions over the last year. She claims that the rules are confusing and that any offence that she may have committed was completely by accident.

Arthur Dimson, Director of Waste Disposal for the Exeter City Council, has dismissed Mrs Challice’s claim saying that:

“It’s quite simple really. On the second and fourth Monday of each month, plastics go in the red bins and aluminium in the blue bins. On the first and third Tuesdays of each month - providing there has already been a first Monday - paper goes in the red containers and other non-aluminium metals go in the blue containers. If there hasn’t been a first Monday, the schedule is pushed back a week. On alternating Wednesdays, glass goes into the red cans and miscellaneous recyclable refuse goes into the blue cans. On Thursdays, non-recyclable refuse may be put into either the red or the blue receptacles. All discards must be washed except clothing – which may be either washed or dry-cleaned depending on the fabric – and paper. Paper with coloured printing should only be placed in the red cans on the first Tuesday of each month. Paper with only black ink may be placed in the red containers on any other qualifying Tuesday. On weekends the bins are to remain empty for cleaning. These rules are all posted on the bottom of each recycling bin. So it’s not as if people have to memorise them.”

He added:

“Mrs Challice could wait until the weekend and look in the bottom of the empty bin to refresh her memory on the rules.”


It began as an April Fool’s joke. An online poll asked villagers of Audlem, Cheshire, whether they would like to break away from England and become Welsh. So far more than 66 per cent of the 333 respondents have registered support for the motion.

The village is nine miles from Wales and residents have long looked with envy at their neighbours’ free NHS prescriptions.
And for two more good reads try


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