Saturday, 20 August 2011


I had such a funny blog ready about how I woke up wih a black eve which I assumed was the result of nocturnal husband bashing but turned out to be dandruff of the eyelash.
Then I got this email from a tall friend;
I fell backwards last night (early this morning) in what the hospital will probably mark in the statistics as a "drink related" incident -- although I'm not actually sure what caused me to fall. Anyway, I banged my head on a flower pot and damaged my back and will be wheelchair-bound for about three weeks. I hadn't really appreciated what a long way it is to fall.
Another friend reported;
My daughter Rachael had to be at the Zoo - PR media manager - by 4.30am this morning, to sort out the Daybreak TV progamme - they were doing snippets from the Zoo.She was stopped on the car-park by two marked cop cars and an undercover car and she e-mailed us -
They started to tell me about a woman currently in custody who had a wish to stroke a big cat and could I sort it out. I’m thinking its 4.30am, its freezing, I’m stuck in a building with coppers, I’ve a film crew outside and you want me to deal with a nutter?? Not only that but my bra fell apart just as I was leaving the house this morning. It’s not even 10am yet.

I know when I am trumped so I decided to write about the riots;
If you want to waste your time ask a policeman what he was doing on the first night of the riots. We already know. He was making sure the greater part of London was a shoplifting free zone in the recent expression of teenage petulance. And I for one don't blame him. Apart from a triple murder, the heaviest riot charge in recent outbreaks has been manslaughter – against a policeman who was doing his job.

One of the many Metrolpolitan Commissioners who have been playng musical chairs in recent days offered a much more bizarre reason.
“If we had made arrests it would have meant we would have had to take policemen off the streets to fill in the necessary forms,” he explained.

With the best will in the world one cannot see why that would be a bad thing. Better, surely, than mass street photography and further massive overtime bills, searching for the shoplifters and arresting them and then going back to fill in the forms.

When Queen Victoria asked the Duke of Wellington how to get rid of birds flocking into the Crystal palace, he answered her in two words: “Sparrow Hawks”.

I have another two words for getting Tweeters off the streets. Digital Recorders. They fit snuggly next to the whistle and all the other toys the Politically Correct PCs carry. Out of the question, I suppose. They are succesfully in use in the US, where they arrest wrongdoers , bundle them into the police van and speak the arrest details into the recorder. When the tapes are full, they are collected by a single officer and are taken back to HQ, plugged into computers and the recordings are automatically transcribed.

How do the police know which details belong to which perpetrator? By using indelible ink to write a number on the offender's wrist with corresponding numbers identifying the tapes.

There is a second, even cheaper, solution. Reduce the form filling. Pre-1985 when the CPU was set up, one piece of paper sufficed. Now it takes thirty.
The situation in London was only returned to normality by borrowing policemen from other parts of the country. That means the 46 per cent of the front line policemen available in those parts of the country will be reduced even further.

“There's a hole in your bucket, dear Commissioner? ... Then mend it...”

My nightmare is being trapped in a broken lift with Fry and Starkey. Perversely both are teachers of enormous gifts. Fry's documentaries on language and Starkey's lectures on the Tudors were a joy to hear. Outsude that narow field they are a pain in that part of the anatomy they favour.

So I never thought I would leap to the defence of either.

Starkey was quite right. Our popular culture is black and has been for years. It's not always a bad thing. It has given the world jazz, the blues and a number of singers who illuminate our sorry age. Less happily, its extremes mesmerise youth. It has taken ballroom dancing back to the jungle, it has reduced the language of the young to pidgin and brought allure to the tribe as a unit. The problem is not with the blacks: it is with the young who take all of the bad but none of the good things we owe to the Caribbeans. Kindness, cheerfulness and spiritual values are just a few of their virtues.

None of the troubles had anything to do with race. The police could not control the riot because they were badly led. In the days when our bobbies were thief takers they would have waded in as they did in the provinces. Now they are led by sociologists. All could have been avoided by limiting immigration and assimilating those who do come to live here.

It is the same breed who are horrified at the idea of shutting down the social networks which rally the rioters. Why? Such behaviour is illegal once the Riot Act is read. Nor is it unfair to evict tenants from subsidised housing if one of the family is convicted of crimes against society. If the convicted is part of a family which has a history of disruptive behaviour, then kick them out. But by turning rioters into paupers and making innocent people homeless is a pretty sure way to increase the number of rioters. By the same token, the people who claim the sentences were too harsh on the two Northeners who planned riots that failed are wrong. Inciting riots is a serious offence and we have seen the results of such incitement: terrible damage, a policeman on a manslaghter charge and three murders.

I remembered the old Scottish tale of my father. "The Lord cast the sinners into the fiery pit and the sinners cried 'Oh Lord, I didnae ken.' And the Lord replied: "Ah well, ye ken the noo."

Have no fear. The world is rushing to our aid. The African Union today adopted a unilateral resolution to deploy army troops and care packages to England as looting and violence spread from London to other major cities. Spokesperson Charity Khumalo said: “We can no longer stand by while these savages tear themselves apart.”
The AU, meeting today in an emergency session to discuss the ongoing rioting in the UK, has declared that they will do “everything in their power to help bring civilisation to England”.
“It’s just so sad, you know?” said Khumalo, speaking from the organisation’s HQ in Addis Ababa.. “Sitting here and watching them on TV while their society implodes. We cannot in good conscience remain idle and let it happen.”
The spokesperson told journalists: “You look in the mirror and you see teeth untouched by modern dentistry. It’s heartbreaking enough to make anyone put a brick through a Starbucks.”


My chum the broadcaster Robert Robinson was always a master of timing. If he had to leave the stage he has graced so long with his presence, last week was the time to choose. I say chum but, though we often worked together on radio, we never met. The first time I interviewed him I was nervous because he did not suffer foolish broadcasters gladly. So I expected trouble when at the end of our interview the engineer announced the tape had not worked.

Robinson could not have been kinder. He did the whole thing over again. More than that, some weeks later on “Loose Ends” he praised a phrase I had used suggesting Switzerland was a fiction and the alps were folded up every sping when it became Holland.

Over the years we often worked together and between broadcasts exchanged letters and books . When I was dropped by BBC Wales for being English, he was the first to deride the decision publicly. A dangerous act for a freelance.

I loved his detective novel “Landscape With Dead Dons” and once asked why he did not write a sequel. His answer was as perceptive a piece of literary criticism as I have ever heard.

“Detective fiction is the literary equivalent of painting by numbers.”


THE only identifiably Welsh representative on a list of highly-paid public officials is a 73-year-old peer who spent years out of Britain as a businessman in Monaco. Lord Rowe-Beddoe appears on a list of more than 300 senior civil service and quango members released by the Cabinet Office as part of a UK Government transparency exercise. Between them, the people on the list are paid up to £60m a year. Lord Rowe-Beddoe is paid £35,000 a year for four days’ work a month as one of two deputy chairmen of the UK Statistics Authority, now based in Newport.

THE leader of a council which imposed controversial pay cuts on its workers was paid more than £1,800 a week from the public purse in 2010-11, it has emerged. Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Labour leader Russell Roberts picked up £58,962, including £1,177 in travel and subsistence, from his work as leader of the authority. In addition, he received £23,544 as chairman of South Wales Police Authority and £13,344 as a member of Cwm Taf Health Authority. His total remuneration from the three appointments was £95,860. Pauline Jarman, Plaid Cymru’s opposition leader on RCT, which is the second biggest council in Wales, said: “Council workers who have seen their terms and conditions cut by up to 40% will wonder how Russell Roberts has the cheek to tell employees that cuts have to be made, when he’s taking home £1,843 a week before tax from the public purse.”

Afghanistan is now open to tourism for the first time in 23 years. Many people will be curious to see it first hand, especially since it has been on television so much recently. ABDUL RAHMAN, Afghan Minister of Tourism, 2002.


His infant activities bring sunshine to my day.

"Your friend Jacob likes to play 'hotels' and, at breakfast yesterday, he offered me a 'menu'. I requested a full English, toast with marmalade, proper coffee  - and a dancing girl.
'I'm sorry, sir,' he said, 'we don't have dancing girls on a Thursday.'
I pretend tutted and he suggested, 'I have a lady in the kitchen and I could ask her to dance.'
After breakfast - porridge and toast - he asked for comments and I said the food had been good, but the service rubbish in that I had to make my own toast and wash the dishes - and the dancing girl was rubbish.
'I'll give you a refund on the dancing,' he said, 'and take it out of her wages.'
He's written a letter to himself this morning, as he says he never gets any post. And he's posted it.


My gin and tonic snuff is a qualified success but reports like this induce tears.

“LONDON, Bombay and Plymouth all have well established links to famous gins. Now Brecon can be added to the list after the Penderyn distillery took gold at the 2011 International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) – the “Oscars of the spirits world”. Made within the Brecon Beacons National Park, Brecon Special Reserve is infused with juniper from Macedonia, orange peel from Spain, Chinese cassia bark, Sri Lankan liquorice, Madagascan cinnamon, French angelica root, Russian coriander, Indian nutmeg, Spanish lemon peel and Italian orris root. It uses mineral water drawn from directly beneath the Penderyn distillery, filtered through 340 million-year-old rock formations. The makers of the spirit, until now barely known outside of Wales, said they were over the moon with the result. “


"I have a new computer which is taking time to adjust. You will be astonished to know that you have been given special status by the system - your Blog is automatically put into my junk mail box - but you have unique standing there, and I hope you will take it as a compliment - but the heading was not of my doing!
jean x
Made in China like everything else, I expect they have perfected a modem that rejects things the Government doesn't like. Damned clever people these Chinese.