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?"

Tuesday, 31 January 2017


I was reading yesterday about a teenage motorist who was in court for a string of motoring offences including knocking a cyclist of his bike and failing to stop.

In mitigation, his solicitor argued that he suffered from ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Surely anyone suffering from ADHD should be automatically banned from driving. After all, paying attention to your surroundings and what is happening is probably the most important aspect of driving and any driver who doesn't do so  is a great danger to others as well as himself.

Additionally, any person who is hyperactive is also a danger, drivers need to be calm and cautious in what they are doing.

In my view, ADHD is one of those illnesses which should preclude someone from having a licence.

Friday, 27 January 2017

President Trump and Theresa May

Those self-serving individuals who present their assessment of global politics in the form of a "Doomsday Clock" have decided that the world will be a far more dangerous place since President Trump was elected and Britain decided to leave the EU. They advanced it by 30 seconds so that it now stands at two and a half minutes to midnight (whatever that means).

This is rather strange, as for various reasons, I now feel safer.

Firstly, Brexit. This will mean that the EU will lose one of the internationally most important countries and will speak with that bit less authority. It will also lose a large chunk of its income, and unless the remaining countries are prepared to pay more,  it means that there will be less money to throw around and thus less attractive to countries like Ukraine where it was the EU's dabbling that led to the Russian intervention. Hopefully, without our support, it will not get involved in things that could lead to military intervention, making, in my view, the world a somewhat safer place.

Then comes Trump, very outspoken, whose actions so far seem to to indicate that he will actually do what he said he would do before being elected, a novel change! He wants to spend more on the military and updating weapons which is what any prudent leader should do. At the same time he says that America is no longer prepared to get into unnecessary wars, such as Iraq and Afghanistan and even that he will only support NATO if all the other members of the alliance pull their weight and spend more of their GDP on defence in line with the US.

When it comes to dealing with Russia, I don't believe Putin is stupid. He now knows that Trump means what he says and is unlikely to do anything which might trigger a forceful response. Both Russia and America have a common enemy in Islam and just as Trump wants to build a wall to keep out the Mexicans, Putin has to spend quite a lot of resources maintaining a watch on its southern borders which mainly face Islamic countries.

One of the other factors affecting the "Doomsday Clock" was Trump's decision to scrap many of the "green" requirements. He is going to allow coal mining, new oil pipelines, fracking and other activities which are frowned on by the "Greens". I believe that he is correct to do so. What is the point of closing down heavy industry in the US to reduce emissions (and create unemployment) when third world countries then start their own new industries, probably causing far more emissions and damage than previously. Countries want steel and whether it is produced in China, India or America, there will be emissions. I fail to see why bringing production "home" is a danger to the world and makes an iota of difference to the "Doomsday Clock", it will reduce US unemployment and ensure that the product is of the proper quality.

So on balance, my conclusion, which is the opposite of the "experts", is that the world will now be that little bit safer.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Theresa May's Vision of Brexit

Yesterday Theresa May made her long awaited statement as to what she meant when she said "Brexit means Brexit".  Some say we have had to wait far too long for an indication as to Britain's position, but surely this is Cameron's fault. He was so convinced that the country would vote to remain in the EU that no preparations had been made by the Civil Service for a possible Brexit vote.

 Most of the arguments to date have been over the so-called soft or hard Brexit options, the former appearing to me to be almost the same as remaining a member of the EU under a new name.  She  made it very clear that we wanted to control Britain’s borders and create an immigration system that “serves the national interest”.  And whilst we would like free trade arrangements with the EU, this will not be at the expense of us either having free movement of people or paying vast sums into the EU coffers. Most importantly, as far as I'm concerned, is the fact that the UK “will take back control of our laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain”. 

She also said that we do not wish to remain in the existing customs union as we would be required to have the common tariffs with the EU which are designed largely to protect various EU producers from world wide competition. She also pointed out that the existing customs union precludes us from negotiating our own trade agreements with other countries.

Most importantly she said that she prefers 'no deal' rather than a 'bad deal'. This, of course is something that Cameron would never have said which was why he got nowhere in his pre-referendum discussions.

Mrs May made it clear that existing EU laws which applied to this country would be enshrined into UK law and any that were no longer required would subsequently be repealed.  Whilst this would satisfy those workers who were worried about the possible loss of some rights that they had obtained under the EU, I am sceptical about the subsequent repealing of unwanted rules; no legislation ever seems to get repealed!

She said that she expects co-operation to continue on matters like security and other areas of mutual interest. Surely no one is going to oppose such an idea, although with the EU, who knows?

The Remoaners of course found fault with almost everything that she said. Clegg announced that he would vote down the deal in Parliament before talks have even started. So much for democracy, listening to the debate in Parliament and the electors views, 'No, I will vote it down regardless'. Tory MP Ken Clarke claimed that Britain could still find itself under the jurisdiction of the European Court as part of its new trade deal with the EU. And as usual Queen Nicola of Scotland had her moan about wanting to be consulted. They just won't give up and accept the result of the referendum!

Hopefully, regardless of what the High Court says, I believe that Parliament will vote in terms of allowing Mrs May to send the letter required under Article 50, as the alternative would be a snap General Election at a time when every poll suggests that the Tories would get a large majority.

Monday, 16 January 2017

EU Dictatorship

Donald Trump has said that Britain that we will be first in the line for a rapid trade deal with the US. Great, at least he doesn't want to put us at the back of the queue like Obama.

And the EU's response? Don't you even dare think of starting informal talks with the US before Brexit is complete.

Just who do they think they are?
Britain is a sovereign country, and as far as I'm aware we are free to talk to anyone or any country  about any subject. Why even Queen Nicola of Scotland is free to go and talk to whoever she likes, even if there were times when I'm sure that many at Westminster would like to stop her!

Mrs May should send our trade negotiators to Washington immediately following Trump's inauguration to start talks. This would at least show the EU that we are serious about leaving and running our own country without EU interference. If all goes well the deal could be in place to be implemented the day we leave the EU.

What is the EU going to do if we ignore their demand? Throw us out?
Yes please, it would be far quicker than lengthy talks and probably considerably cheaper.

I suspect that the French Official who demanded that penalties are imposed on the UK if we leave the EU but who has recently backtracked to say that France would want access to our financial markets might not agree; nor I suspect would the German car industry.

I think that on balance, the UK has a far better hand than the EU, lets hope Mrs May plays her cards wisely.

Monday, 9 January 2017


Hacking seems to be everywhere these days! The Russians were accused by the Democrats of hacking into their  computers; the Germans are claiming that the Russians have targeted international peace monitors in Ukraine; the Chinese appear to be hacking everyone; the list is for ever increasing.

But what's new? Surely this has been going on for years? What else are organisations like GCHQ and the CIA expected to do. What do we expect the Russians and Chinese to do? From time immemorial, countries have spied on both their friends and enemies. All countries expected that other countries would spy on their activities. Until the internet came along, you tried to recruit people inside government departments, which of course led to the Official Secrets Act with its severe penalties.

But all that is now 'old hat'!
Everyone seems to keep a record of everything they do on a computer which is connected to the internet whether this is needed or not. And once it is connected to the internet, unless you are very, very careful, anyone can hack into it. Why should countries bother to infiltrate spies into, say, the Ministry of Defence or Foreign Office, when the information is on computers and there for the taking, protected only by a simple password?

Not only that, but many with confidential data have it on lap-tops or other portable devices and use it in insecure locations. Just go into any local coffee shop with "free wi-fi" and see how many people are using computers. The banks like to stress the advantages of mobile banking but rarely mention the risks involved.

Why do individuals and governments take these risks? Is it really necessary for all computers to be connected to the internet? Is it really needed for work or is it for vanity? I use a computer dedicated to video editing, it's not connected to the internet, I download any software updates onto a memory stick using another computer. I don't need to worry about its security, Windows updates or even anti-virus software. This way the computer is faster and doesn't have problems of possible interruptions when rendering video or burning DVDs

Meanwhile, those in or close to government who need to use the internet should be asking whether their defences are adequate to defend against the ever more sophisticated hackers. Clearly in the case of the Democrats in America they were not; the password used by one well known Democrat was stated to be, surprise, surprise, "Password". It doesn't need Russians to hack that, I'm sure many a computer aware teenager would be able to do it if he had the mind to do so. After all, it is a British teenager who has been accused of breaking into the Pentagon's computers!

So next time we read about the Russians, or anyone else, hacking into a government computer, this is what we should expect. We should not be blaming the Russians but blaming those responsible for having a computer system that was insufficiently secure. We should also expect GCHQ or some other state organisation to be doing exactly the same; spying isn't a one way process.

Meanwhile, I would urge anyone who does internet banking to do it at home and, as a minimum, to encrypt any data stored on their computer using a suitable program and a strong password.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

New Year Mayhem

Or what the papers DON'T say!
If you believe what the BBC and most newspapers tell us, New Year was generally peaceful both here and in Europe at large. The worse thing that happened was that too many people got drunk and that the NHS was overwhelmed by the A&E admissions.

But Breitbart tells a different story.
First we read that the City of Augsberg in Bavaria where, as well as a spate of sexual attacks, revellers were also attacked and several properties were damaged by Syrian migrants using fireworks.
Then another report from Austria reveals that there multiple cases of sexual assault, violence, and attacks with fireworks committed across the country by migrants.
A further report from Germany relates that in Dortmund, a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church.
This, according to most of our media, was a generally peaceful start to the new year. Whether the locals where the above events took place would agree with this assessment is questionable.

Of course, the EU apologists will tell us that Breitbart is part of the new "alt-right" responsible for fake news, where in practice they are the people exposing the fake news that all went well over the new year. But in the case of the reports above they quote the local newspapers reporting the events, and even if you can't read German, the pictures and video tell their own story, just don't expect to see any of the videos on UK TV.

The good news today is that the British Ambassador to the EU has resigned. Much of the media, led by the BBC are trying to convince us that this is a total disaster for our forthcoming negotiations with the EU as he is the most knowledgeable person in the UK concerning the workings of the EU. He is also firmly in the 'Remain' camp and has been part of the message of doom, most recently with his leaked warning that it could take ten years to negotiate a new trade treaty with the EU.

I trust that when it comes to his replacement it will not be up to the Foreign Office but is let to the Brexiteers in the Cabinet. My choice would be Nigel Farage!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year

Slightly belated, but I've decided that it's time to start trying to write something at least once a week.
Last year was not a good one for Mrs EP and myself with us both having a number of health problems. Thankfully, the NHS, at long last, appears to have sorted things out for both of us, we are both feeling better and hopefully we can both look forward to 2017 with more optimism.

A slightly disappointing start to the year from a bell-ringer's point of view; this was the first year since WW2 that we have not been able to "Ring in the New Year" at our Parish Church simply because insufficient ringers were available; we now have only eight reasonable ringers along with a couple of 'apprentices' which is not enough for eight bells after allowing for absences due to sickness or other commitments. Only one of the eight ringers has not retired, and some young blood is essential if we are to keep the bells ringing for Sunday Service, weddings and other special occasions.

As far as we both are concerned, the highlight of the year was the vote for Brexit. A majority of those who voted saw through all the gloom, doom and dire predictions. The country is still here, we're not all starving and life seems reasonably normal for all of us except those who have to use Southern Rail. Fortunately, as I can still drive, the only time that I now use public transport is to attend the local hospital using my pensioner's bus pass, so avoiding the £1.50 per hour hospital parking charge.

To me, the most unexpected event of the year was the election of Donald Trump as the new American President. My reaction is that he was the better of the two candidates, but I simply can't understand why a country of some 320 million people couldn't find two better candidates. Nevertheless, we could be in for an interesting year!

The worse aspect of 2016 has been the rise of Islamic terrorism with major attacks in France and Germany. I fear for something similar in this country and am thankful that nothing has happened so far over the Christmas and New Year period.

So much for 2016. I would conclude by wishing my readers a Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year.