Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Monday, 30 December 2013

From Damien Thompson's blog in the Telegraph (if it hasn't been corrected)

I never thought that I'd read that word applied to a person in the Telegraph!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Sales

Mrs EP wanted to go to the John Lewis sales. She had nothing particular in mind other than possibly getting some new bed linen, and I thought I would look round the electricals as I want a new radio for the lounge because the CD player and the cassette recorder in the existing one have decided to die on me.  On the way back, we would pop into the nearby Asda and get some milk.
So much for the plan.
We were about three-quarters of a mile from our destination when traffic came to a crawl and then almost to a dead stop. Perhaps there is an accident ahead, we thought. But realistically, traffic going to anywhere else but John Lewis was maybe a few dozen cars an hour, and after waiting for about ten minutes and moving a few cars lengths we decided that even if we got to John Lewis, shopping wouldn't be a pleasant experience.
So down the next side turning to Asda for the milk. But not only did we get the milk, but Mrs EP found a duvet set she liked, all without all the hassle of the scrum at a sale.

I still haven't found my radio; I want a FM radio with a CD player and some means of recording so that I can record programmes and listen to them later, usually in the car. The cassette recorder served me well over the years, but it seems modern radios record to memory cards, and I need one that records in a format that will be recognised by my car radio if the recording is transferred to a memory stick. Some apparently encrypt the recording in a format that can only be replayed on the original radio, and it is difficult to discover which record in MP3 format which the car radio requires (most claim to re-play MP3 recordings, but that is a different matter!). Hence my willingness to visit JL where one can normally get good technical advice, unlike some of the other majors who sell such items.

Oh well, clearly further research on-line is necessary.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Antarctic - Vessel stuck in non-existent ice!

Well, it would have been non-existent if one had believed the media and particularly the BBC during the past year or so. After all, how many times have we been told that the polar ice caps are decreasing in size and how many times have we been shown videos of huge icebergs breaking away from the ice-caps due to warming?
This is the Antarctic summer and there is so much ice that a research/cruise ship has got stuck in the ice in a normally ice free area of the Antarctic Ocean. Clearly the Captain believed the climate change models and not the conditions in front of him! A bit of an embarrassment that the global warming researchers aboard the ship had not expected!
A number of ice-breakers are racing to the rescue - I wonder whether they will get salvage money based on the ship's value, which would otherwise be a write-off if left stuck in the ice during winter.
This incident confirms what a friend told me after he had been on an Antarctic cruise a couple of years ago; the vessel was not able to go as far south as it had in the past due to ice, and they were flown off by the ship's helicopter to see the "sights".

Full details in "Watts Up With That" where they claim that the whole junket was a BBC/Guardian/ABC CAGW exercise, presumably aimed at showing how bad global warming had become.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Passive Smoking

The Telegraph reveals in an article by James Delingpole that research shows that the amount of harm caused by passive smoking is "statistically insignificant".
A large prospective cohort study of more than 76,000 women confirmed a strong association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer but found no link between the disease and secondhand smoke.
This is not a report written and published by the tobacco industry, but by no less an authority than the American National Cancer Institute.

So all that has been claimed about the dangerous effect of passive smoking is now shown to be untrue, and is the result of a statistically insignificant number of non smokers who got lung cancer. The number of people exposed to passive smoking who caught the disease was not statistically any different from those who had not been exposed to it.

Now I don't smoke, and prefer a smoke free environment. But some of my friends smoke, and as a result we are no longer able to enjoy an evening in the local pub, as popping outside for a cigarette makes it preferable for them to stay at home where they probably drink more as it costs considerably less. I never had any problems at our local, it is well ventilated and certainly I never came home smelling of cigarette smoke as I used to before smoking  was banned on public transsport.

But I am glad to learn that this exposure to cigarette smoke during much of my working life is unlikely to have had any significant effect. But I resent the scare tactics where non-smokers like myself have been led to believe, and may indeed have worried about, our lives being at risk in our later years due to exposure to cigarette smoke in our younger days.

The line now being taken by the anti-smoking lobby is basically that it doesn't matter if what was said is untrue because it has achieved its objective of reducing smoking in the country.

In other words, the end justifies the means.

Now where have I heard that before?

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


A Visitor Centre costing £27 million has just been opened at Stonehenge. It is located a mile and a half away from the stones and costs £14.90 to enter.
How on earth can a Visitor Centre possibly cost so much?
The new English Heritage Stonehenge exhibition and visitor centre in Wiltshire 
This cost £27 million ! 

It looks as if the builders left the scaffolding poles behind. If so they forgot to wrap them with the mandatory yellow and black Health & Safety warning tape! I suppose the fact that it was "Architect Designed" explains everything.

But even so £27 million! 
I can't visualise how it could cost £1 million, let alone £27 million. It is totally ludicrous.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Hospitals face fines over poor weekend care

"Hospitals could face multi-million pound fines for poor weekend care in a £2 billion plan by NHS England's medical director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh."
It has always stuck me as madness to fine hospitals because of the failures of those running them. All that fines do is to take away money which should be used for the benefit of patients, thus making an existing unsatisfactory situation even worse.

Surely it is those individuals responsible who should be fined, not the patients. There are sanctions which can be used against those who fail in their duties, but these never seem to be used by the powers that be. When was someone at senior management level actually fired? And what about criminal charges such as endangering life or neglect of duty in a public office?

It is the individuals responsible who need to be called to account, not the hospitals and patients.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

UKIP - A Racism Non-Story !

Headlines once again about "Racist UKIP", this time of all places in the Mail on Sunday.
A UKIP County Councillor, Victoria Ayling, is accused making a racist rant in a video in which she said that all illegal immigrants should be sent home, something, I suspect that most readers would agree with.
But more to the point, the video was made five years ago, in 2008, by her ex-husband when she was preparing a video in her bid to become a Conservative MEP. Yes, at the time she made it she was a member of the Conservative Party!

Seemingly, they had an acrimonious divorce following her husband's affair with an American ex-beauty queen, and, for reasons we can only guess at, her ex-husband has now chosen to release the original tape to the media. And as might be expected, some of the media, along with the usual gaggle of MPs and Quislings are in full cry shouting "racism" at the top of their voices. In fact there was nothing remotely racist in the published extracts as she didn't mention country, race or religion. Or has it now been decreed that the word "immigrant" is racist?

Remember that this was a video in the making before editing. I wonder how many politicians have sat down and written a speech without making any corrections or alterations. How many of those when they read it again decided to make further alterations for fear of upsetting someone's susceptibilities? I would suggest that almost every speech of any importance has been written and re-written before delivery, and that this video is equivalent of the first draft.

But, even so, if the video had been used without any alterations, there would have been no reason for offence. Looked at in detail, there is really nothing that Theresa May, the Home Secretary hasn't said, perhaps more tactfully, over the past month, essentially that illegal immigrants and refused asylum seekers should be sent back home, and that multiculturalism is dead.

Lets face it, in my opinion, Victoria Ayling said no more than what an overwhelming majority of this country is thinking, but is frequently frightened to say out loud.  Judging by the readers' comments on the Mail on Sunday website, most take the view that she has merely reflected their thinking and that she is certainly not racist. The publicity should get UKIP a few more votes at the next election!

The Telegraph takes a more reasoned view of what was said and clearly Nigel Farrage has not been bounced into denouncing what she said.
We need more politicians to discuss the issues related to immigration, not less.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Dominic Grieve QC MP

My MP is Dominic Grieve QC, the Attorney General. Until recently he was known by many of us locally as the invisible, silent MP, in that unlike other members of the cabinet he was very rarely in the news. But suddenly, he's in the news! Apart from the fact that he has appeared in person at various High/Supreme Court hearings, which seems to be rather unusual in itself, he has been making the headlines with a couple of rather contentious speeches.
First he criticises the Asian community, and specifically the Pakistani community, of being responsible for the increasing corruption in this country, and in particular for electoral fraud, for which he was roundly condemned by the PC brigade. (Reported in the Telegraph here)
Now has used a speech in Brussels to criticise the EU of a "Power Grab" against this country and warned the EU that the UK “will not shy away” from taking legal action to protect its interests.
(The Telegraph here  and The Mail here).

Now I am a person who always likes a good conspiracy theory, so I'm wondering what has brought about this change in our normally quiet, very politically correct and pro-EU MP.  He has one of the safest seats in the country, so has little to worry about in that direction. He abstained in the votes on both the same-sex marriage bill which he described as "ill conceived" and also on HS2, and thus is broadly in tune with his electorate.
So why the change? He's a QC and the sort of person who thinks carefully about what he is saying and I'm sure that his recent speeches haven't been made without very careful prior thought.
Could it be that he's looking at the possibility that the Tories might loose the next election?   
If so, the Tories would soon be seeking a new leader, and bearing in mind that a number possible contenders could loose their seats, Dominic Grieve could well be in the running. At least someone who "puts his brain into gear before opening his mouth" would be a huge change from the present leadership!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Expenses - Grab them while you can!

According to the Telegraph
Andrew Lansley, the leader of the House of Commons, has claimed £6000 in expenses for nights in London hotels despite owning a flat just a mile from Parliament.
He apparently owns a £1 million property in Pimlico, against which he had made numerous claims for furnishings, yet he still managed to claim £4,978 during the last financial year and a  further £972 so far in this financial year, for hotels in London.

MPs are allowed to claim overnight hotel expenses if it unreasonable for them to get home at the end of the parliamentary day, but how unreasonable is it to get from Westminster to Pimlico?

And MPs in general are wondering why the public dislikes and distrusts them so much.