Saturday, 19 November 2011

Ich Bin Definitely NOT a Berliner

Radio Fourceps’ obsession with science programmes is driving tenants of Skidmore Parva shrieking back to newspapers which are united this week in warning of a German takeover of Europe.

Bismarck invented my favourite drink, Black Velvet, a mixture of stout and champagne. Perhaps being part of the German Empire he envisaged won’t be so bad. Though I would not eat black bread and sauerkraut, not if Hell had me.

Poor Bismarck, he must be wearing out jackboots in Valhalla, kicking himself when he works out the cost of his own failed attempts at domination. The first try gave him the taste. When he won the Franco Prussian war France had to pay him an indemnity of 5 billion dollars. From then on things went downhill. World War One cost Germany 37,775 million dollars and World War Two was even worse. It brought Germany a bill of 414trillion dollars. He could have got 27 countries free if he had thought of inventing the Euro.

War making was an expensive folly and they wisely gave it up. America, alas, did not. Their efforts to bring democracy to the Third World at the point of a gun has cost them 6 trillion dollars, which would have repaid their one trillion dollar debt to China and reduced their total debt which stands at 14 trillion dollars. Make money not war is a slogan that has brought Germany the role that America has vacated. We would be debt free too had we not chosen to join them in their crazy adventures.

The end result? Europe, we learn, is run by the Frankfurt Group of eight men led by Angela Merkel and the only bonds the market is buying are German. This week, flushed with success at the peaceful invasion of Greece and Italy, they put us firmly in place when they ordered Britain to put up or shut up about funds to help bankrupt countries. We are anti-Europe as a nation but our Prime Minister has just agreed a two percent rise in the EU's budget, despite the fact the EU cannot get its accounts past its own accountants

It is worth remembering that it is not Germany’s industry that has put her in the pound seats. I was there after the war and I saw the amount of money the Allies poured into Western Germany to rebuild its economy. Industry was given massive grants to buy the best machinery, factories sprang up. The reason the land rover is build of aluminium is that our car industry was forbidden to use steel which all went to export and mostly to Germany. I was friendly with the editor of the Bielefeld News, a weekly paper which was given state of the art machinery when Allied Newspapers, for which I worked in civilian life, was produced on antique presses.

I was on leave when the Mark was devalued. The Germany I left was shabby, the shops were empty. I returned a fortnight later to an entirely different country. Shop windows filled with goods, restaurants doing a roaring trade. Signs of prosperity I didn’t see at home. I went to the Hanover State Fair which was a revelation. There I saw machinery and vehicles, wines and smart furniture, designer clothes; I even bought a dachshund. Things were on sale there that we did not see in Britain for many years. The Allies put Germany ahead of the game in a desperate effort to prevent communism getting a hold.

A few years later I returned to Germany as the guest of 616 RAF Squadron of jet fighters. When I saw the new Germany I knew who had really won the war

If Germany does decide to occupy she will find willing recruits to run Britain where this week a mother-of-three was fined almost £500 for dropping a cigarette.

Tracey John, 48, was smoking on her front doorstep when she was seen by a litter enforcement officer as she dropped the butt on the pavement outside her home.

Nigel Wheeler, service director for Streetcare at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council said: “Eco-criminals will not be tolerated. The illegal disposal of cigarette related waste is the biggest single problem throughout the area. As well as creating unsightly environmental conditions, the offence can attract vermin. The Streetcare Enforcement Team will do all in its power to eradicate this type of behaviour.”

A coroner yesterday issued a damning verdict on rulebook-obsessed fire chiefs who ordered colleagues not to rescue a dying woman trapped down a mine shaft.

Lawyer Alison Hume could have survived if rank and file firefighters at the scene had been allowed to do their job and bring her out, said Sheriff Desmond Leslie.

Instead, the senior officers’ ‘fundamentalist adherence’ to health and safety procedures and failure to take account of the extreme urgency of the situation resulted in the mother-of-two remaining at the bottom of the shaft in Ayrshire for almost six hours after Strathclyde Fire and Rescue arrived.

Fire crews refused to use a winch to pull her to safety because its policy was only to use the rescue equipment to save its own staff.

Ve haf vays of making you balk...........

The BMA, an organisation which will fit happily into a Gesundheit und Sicherheit (Health and Safety) culture seeks to make it illegal to smoke cigarettes in a car. They claim it results in concentrations of toxic fumes. Odd that. After five years research the World Health Organisation failed to find evidence that “second-hand smoke” was harmful.

My chum Monte Fresco offered this cynical but fair comment on the EU:

“Some years ago a small rural town in Italy twinned with a similar town in Greece.

“The Mayor of the Greek town visited the Italian town. When he saw the palatial mansion belonging to the Italian mayor he wondered how he could afford such a house. The Italian said: ‘You see that bridge over there? The EU gave us a grant to build a two-lane bridge, but by building a single lane bridge with traffic lights at either end this house could be built.’

“The following year the Italian visited the Greek town. He was simply amazed at the Greek Mayor's house, gold taps, marble floors, it was marvellous. When he asked how this could be afforded the Greek said: ‘You see that bridge over there?’

“The Italian replied: ‘No.’


We have been turning off Radio Fourceps quite a lot. The final straw was an apparently endless series of lectures on the brain. As the last programme faded into oblivion it left me confident I could undertake a simple trepanning, though I cannot think I would find a use for knowing how to stitch a human ear on the back of a mouse. Not for the first time I am left wondering where on earth the BBC goes for controllers. This new one is clearly the product of a laboratory, though obviously not one that specialises in brains.

In order to accommodate the science programmes the new Controller has moved more popular programmes from their pole positions to less listened-to tracts of the radio desert, the late afternoons. When I took over the “Archives” programme on R4 I had an audience of around ten million. Not because I was good. The “Archives” programme at 9 am followed the “Today” programme and benefited from their audience.

When years later Radio Wales wanted rid of me they moved my programmes from lunchtime to late afternoon in the vain hope that I would lose listeners. I imagine that is why an excellent programme “Feedback” which is critical of the BBC has been moved from lunchtime to late afternoon. It is not the only casualty. For reasons which have nothing to do with quality, the lunchtime news programme has been extended and a number of good programmes have been uprooted. I prefer the thinking of the early broadcasters who would occasionally inform listeners “There is no important news today” and put on a gramophone record. If I were controller I would replace all the “news” magazines with brief news bulletins. That would end a nice little earner for windy MPs and the organising secretaries of the various organisations for interfering with practically everything. I would also be glad to hear the new Controller’s excuse for airing the sexist “Woman’s Hour”.