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25 February 2007


I'm baffled by the rumours coming out of the USA regarding the possibility of military action against Iran. OK, so Iran is developing nuclear capabilities. So what?! For forty years of "Cold War" the USSR was the biggest nuclear threat the "West" had ever faced, but that didn't lead us to pre-emptive military action against Moscow. Have we forgotten the meaning of the term "nuclear deterrent"? Don't we still have that capability?

I understand that a raft of senior military men in the USA have stated they would resign if such a mad policy was pursued. No doubt George W Bush could rustle up enough gung-ho cronies to put in their place. The next Presidential election can't come soon enough for me. There is no doubt in my own mind who the most dangerous man in the world is.

24 February 2007

Choking on Gas

A year ago I signed up to a deal with British Gas that would protect me from price increases for three years. As the price of gas, electricity and oil all seemed to be on a never-ending upward spiral this seemed to be a good deal. I agreed to a small price increase for gas and this would be fixed until 2009.

Guess what - this month British Gas introduced significant price cuts, but they don't apply to me.

It turns out that not only am I protected against price increases, but I am equally well protected against price cuts!

23 February 2007

Achieving Sainthood by the Back Door

The other day, in my capacity as a part-time taxi driver, I brought an elderly couple home from church. When we arrived at their house, the lady asked if I would mind going inside to help free their back door. She explained that it had been jammed shut for days and she and her husband were not strong enough to shift it. Naturally I volunteered to throw my shoulder against it.

She forged on ahead up the front drive, with me in close pursuit, leaving her husband behind to struggle as best he could on his two sticks. I expressed concern about his well-being, but she said, "Oh, he'll be OK.." and then as a kind of afterthought, "...unless he falls over."

Fortunately we all made it safely to the front door and went inside. I was taken through to the kitchen, and shown the offending back door. I tested it, and sure enough, it was stuck fast. I spied a key sitting on the adjacent window sill, picked it up and unlocked the door.

That did the trick!

18 February 2007

Quality not Quantity

I return to the Blogosphere after an absence caused in part by idleness and in part by illness. My recovery has been aided by the comments of two of my readers who have indeed been kind enough to leave comments confirming quality is more important than quantity. Actually I received a further boost from a THIRD reader (and regular internet friend) who sent me an e-mail to let me know she dips in from time to time. Modesty prevents me from revealing one of the reasons she does so, and in any case I didn't think my photograph was that good!

My wife and I have been on a spending spree, emptying the contents of our bank accounts in pursuit of a new 3-piece lounge suite, a dining room table and chairs, and a 37-inch plasma flat-screen digital TV. I think the greatest pleasure to be had from buying the furniture was the somewhat unusual degree of high-quality customer service we received in the show room, to the extent that I am happy to give a worldwide "plug" to Sinclairs of Scarborough.

As soon as we entered we were greeted with a big smile by a smartly suited jolly gentleman (no other way to describe him) who asked about our requirements and proceeded to show us personally every item of furniture on the two floors of the showrooms, with a full description and demonstration of all the features. (I was sorely tempted by a motorised reclining chair but I managed to restrain myself.) He was pleased to discuss our colour schemes and show us the items most likely to fit in. Strangely, although we looked at and sat in pretty well everything on display, we finished up buying the very first items he had shown us. How cool is that? Size up your customers' requirements, take them straight to what they need, then show them everything else to confirm that none of the other stuff is for them. We spent an hour in that shop, and I'd only paid for an hour's parking on a meter just up the road. Our salesman told us not to worry - he didn't think we'd have received a penalty ticket, but if we had, then they would "pick up the tab".

The TV is a major improvement on our previous model, and I'm still trying to get my head round how "thin" it is from front to back. I watched Prime Minister Tony Blair being interviewed this morning on Andrew Marr's Sunday AM and he was so much in the room with me that I was convinced he could hear me shouting abuse at him as he once again tried to justify the Iraq debacle. Marr's earlier interview with Art Garfunkel was far more pleasing.

Well, I may surface again in a week; remember, quality not quantity. (I think there's more of the latter than the former in the above!)

11 February 2007

Good Morning Ladies!

I've just been watching a discussion on TV about blogging. It is the new craze. It is the democratization of news presentation and analysis. It gives the ordinary person the opportunity to react with others on the issues of the day, whether they be big international events or something small in the blogger's personal life. It is so big that the "establishment" is now well into it, with TV presenters, newpaper journalists, and politicians producing their own professional blogs. It is said that the ordinary British blogger can attract an audience of up to 35,000 which is bigger than the circulation of some weekly political magazines. E-mails, site comments, and discussion threads are feeding the frenzy of debate amongst Joe Public. I reckon 90% of it is probably inconsequential rubbish (like this Blog) and a platform for the exchange of insults which you would probably not make to someone's face.

Still - the thought of attracting an audience of up to 35,000 is heady stuff, and with that in mine I'd like to say Good Morning to my own readers ... which, by reference to the regular comments this Blog receives, totals TWO. Good Morning Ladies! I hope you'll be the first to tell me that size doesn't matter - it's quality not quantity that counts.

Onwards and upwards.

06 February 2007

With Allies like these ...

L/Cpl Matty Hull of the Household Cavalry Regiment was killed in Iraq on 28th March 2003 by "friendly" fire from a US anti-tank aircraft. Last week the Oxford Coroner conducting the inquest into his death had seen a cockpit video recording from the offending aircraft. He was prevented from showing it in open court because the US military authorities would not allow it. He therefore, in some obvious anger, adjourned the hearing until or unless permission could be obtained through the Ministry of Defence. Such permission, however, could not be obtained because of US objections.

This is rare for me, but today I salute the investigative journalists of The Sun newspaper for getting hold of a copy of the video recording and publishing the full transcript in today's paper. I am pleased this has happened, not because I want to take a dig at the US pilots involved (it is clear from the transcript that they were horrified by what they had done ... "I feel sick" ... "We're in jail, dude" ...) but because the Pentagon has tried to cover up the evidence. The British convoy were displaying the internationally agreed orange panels on their tanks, indicating they were Coalition forces, and in addition to this, when firing started they released emergency flares indicating the same information.

One might understand the mistakes that can be made in the heat of battle, but surely somewhere in the command structure there must have been information concerning the whereabouts of friendly troops, and so the directive that the pilots were within a designated "kill box" is deeply troubling; so also is the apparent lack of recognition skills of the US military. There have been quite a few occurrences of Americans killing British forces, though not, I am pleased to note, any incidents of British forces killing Americans.

My criticism is principally against the US Military Authorities who have tried to keep the relevant information from coming into the public domain, much to the obvious distress of L/Cpl Hull's widow. One is tempted to say With Allies like these, who needs enemies?"

02 February 2007

The Price of Divided Loyalties

In the British Army there about 350 soldiers who happen to be Muslims. The shock news this week is the arrest, in Birmingham, of several young Muslims who, it is alleged, were planning the kidnap and execution of a Muslim soldier who has served time in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is said that a video of the execution would have been posted on the worldwide web. If all this turns out to be substantiated, leading to charges being made under anti-terrorism legislation it will mark a disturbing variation in the tactics of these religious and political perverts. The soldier under threat has been taken to a safe house under police protection.

It's a sad state of affairs when a group of your own countrymen threaten your life because you chose to serve in the Army of the country in which you were born and raised.