Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Q & A with Nick Clegg.... (via some geezer called Duggie Dowell)..

Questions sent, September 21st:During yesterday's conference speech by Nick Clegg he talked about abandoning your no tuition fee policy because of hard financial times...

HOWEVER, he talked very generally about where the policy would impact. For example, he talked about the need to act responsibly for the sake of the British people etc...
Am I right in thinking that he was only talking about tutition fees in England? (As I understand it, education is entirely devolved, apart from in England, obviously).
So if it is only about England that he is talking why did he never once mention England by name?

As the LibDems were supposed to be the party of honesty - how can Clegg do exactly the same as Brown and Cameron when talking about devolved issues - ie give the impression that he is talking about a British-wide policy when in actual fact he is only referring to policy in England

Also, I notice you have official Scottish LibDems and Welsh LibDems websites and organisations - but where are the English LibDems?

Two questions - I would appreciate an honest and unspun reply to both.

Answer received November 25th: Many thanks for your email to Nick Clegg MP. Nick has asked me to contact you on his behalf and I apologise for the delay in responding. I hope you will understand that, due to the sheer volume of correspondence that Nick has been receiving, it can take some time for us to reply.

Liberal Democrats recognise that the advent of devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland poses difficult questions for the governance of England within the Union. Solutions, however, are in many ways equally problematic. The ‘English votes for English laws’ solution is extremely complicated – partially because the Speaker would have to decide whether issues were England only; England and Wales; Great Britain; England, Wales and Northern Ireland; or UK-wide. Given the fact that changes in spending on English services which would be devolved in the rest of the UK directly affect the devolved administration’s budgets, this is by no means a simple question. More fundamentally, in situations where English MPs had a majority of one political colour and the House of Commons as a whole another, it would mean that the government’s writ would not run over most of its legislative programme. An English Parliament would address some of these points, and we would not necessarily rule it out. However, it does beg the question of why we should wish to create a new level of government covering nearly 85% of the population. This might be a logical response, but it does not meaningfully move power closer to the people, which is the ultimate point of devolution. Furthermore, given the different levels of powers allocated to the different devolved assemblies, inconsistencies would still remain. We believe this question should be a matter for our proposed Constitutional Convention.

Our own party structure has always had a high degree of autonomy for regional and local parties, before and after devolution. We believe issues should be decided at the most appropriate level close to our constituents. I hope you’ll understand that, due to the nature of the current devolution settlement, it can be a little difficult to avoid moving from a devolved issue (e.g. education) to a UK-wide one (e.g. taxation policy) at the moment – but Nick certainly didn’t intend to cause confusion and I do apologise if you were irritated by it.

Finally, with respect to finance – as the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland have devolved bloc grants, I hope you’ll understand that Nick can’t generally lay down Lib Dem policy on matters like tuition fees in Scotland. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the level of bloc grant in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is automatically linked to total ‘English’ spending, so reductions in spending south of the border will translate into an equivalent reduction in the devolved nations.

Thank you once again for emailing. Once again, I’m very sorry for the delay in replying to you.

Best wishes,

Douglas Dowell
Office of Nick Clegg MP

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cross-dresser goes cross-country.... and gets cross!

On Wednesday, I almost took out one of the nation's favourite comedians.

Eddie Izzard, currently pounding the roads of Britain almost went the way of countless insects, a few birds and a cyclist (it was his fault, honest!) in disappearing under my bonnet. Thankfully, this time, I avoided adding to my bonnet fodder count by managing not to mount the pavement and flattening him.

Eddie Izzard, here in Nowheresville, West Lancashire, doing his bit for Comic Relief? I mean, what are the chances? At first I thought he was alone in a loneliness of the long distance runner kind of way ('cept for the flag of St George strapped to his arm). But then I noticed the S Type Jag', the 4x4 with countless bikes strapped to the back, the weird motorised trap thing being ridden by a few hippie types....

We went back to get the Nikon.

By the time we found him again, he was a few miles up the road and into countryside. I reckon a certain amount of rules interpretation had been explored by Team Izzard - Had the back seat of that Jag' suddenly become all sweaty?

But even though he was in the country, Eddie was hardly alone. A camera crew had suddenly materialised - which along with the team meant there was a bit of a bottleneck on one of the most dangerous stretches of the A59 - one of the most dangerous roads in the country. Still, there's a celeb at work so who cares?

We drove past a mile or two to turn round and drive back up towards the Izzard show. Camera primed, foot on the accelerator Eddie had broken away from the group and was running in a walking kind of way towards us. He looked a tad grumpy and no mistake....

I'm multi-tasking. One hand on the wheel, one hand holding the Nikon, we're doing about 40 mph as we draw near...

I try to get his attention.

"Hey, Eddie baby, I love ya!"

"Piss off" said Eddie...

Must be a showbizz greeting thing.

Mean, moody, magnificent. Eddie against the West Lancashire skyline.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Craven ignorance?

TO: BBC Complaints Dept:

Countryfile - BBC 1, 26/7/09.
John Craven's report about Mink and the need to eradicate it.

25:10 into the programme, Craven said this -
"It's not just Alex who believes we should control foreign species to preserve our natural heritage, the English Government's wildlife advisory agency thinks so too"...

Sorry, did John Craven just say 'English Government'?

Clearly, all those years dressed in absurd wooly jumpers whilst anchoring 'John Craven's Newsround' has done nothing to hone his grasp of political reality.

For his and the BBC's benefit, England has no English Government. To be honest, England is hardly recognised as a country by anyone - least of all, the BBC!

And if we did have an 'English Government', don't you think we would only be voting in people to rule us who actually represented English people in English constituencies!?? (Last time I looked on a map, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath was a constituency most definitely in Scotland).

So, PERRRRLLLEASE do not insult me and 50 million other English people by telling us we have an English Government when we quite clearly do not. You are supposed to speak the truth unto nations - not pedal myths!

Just remember, England is the only country in the WHOLE OF EUROPE without any national representation - and that is a shameful indictment on the craven power-mad baggage currently loafing around in Westminster..... And we went to war in Iraq so we could give them democracy!!

'Double standards', don't ya just love them????

Please reply as soon as possible - and send Craven (along with all the other BBC journalists) on a crash course in politics.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Kim Cattrall, me - and a Bobby Ewing stepping-out-of-the-shower moment...

You know when something so weird happens in your life, you just cannot take it in. Something, if written in a soap opera you would think it so outrageously improbable - even for Dynasty or Dallas?..

It happened to me, my sisters and my Mum just 8 weeks ago.

It started, just like any Agatha Christie novel does with an advert placed in the personal column of a newspaper - the Liverpool Echo in early May to be precise. It asked whether anyone knew the wherebouts of a man last seen in the Toxteth area of Liverpool in the mid 1930's. His name was George Baugh. His surname is quite unusual - and significantly, it also happens to be my Mum's maiden name. What's more, she had an eldest brother who she called 'Georgie' - and as a young teenager, she was the last person in her family to see him storm out of his father's home and disappear down the road forever in the mid 1930's....

Our family are now living all over the place - and none of us actually saw the advert - but my youngest sister has been building our family tree for the past 20 years and has many times tried to find our missing Uncle Georgie without any success. One of her friends in Liverpool saw the advert and contacted my sister to ask whether it could be my long lost Uncle....

We reckoned that more than likely it was. But there was only one way to find out - ring the number on the advert.

We already knew a bit about Uncle Georgie. He was the eldest of 7 kids, was a bit of a tearaway and had been running away from home since his early teens. He had got married at an early age, and had three daughters to Marian, his wife. After he ran away for the last time, (leaving his wife and kids behind) we know he had tried to get into America but was refused entry. He spent a few months banged up in Ellis Island chokey before being shoved onto a boat home... That was over 70 years ago... since then, nothing until now.

We rang the number. It was a researcher from the BBC. They were producing a new episode of 'Who Do You Think You Are?' and they thought Uncle Georgie, my Mum and us kids were all related to their celebrity subject.

"So who is it then?"

They wouldn't tell us. The only thing they did confirm was that the subject of the episode was very, very famous...

Please God, don't let it be Derek Hatton or Jimmy Tarbuck or Cherie Blair or Les Dennis or Cilla Black or especially Keith Chegwin..... But maybe they're not a scouser? The awful thought comes into my mind that Jimmy Krankie is a long lost relly....

We ruminate. Then we cogitate. Our brains have never been so racked. Who the hell is it?

To be honest, I didn't care who it is - just as long as we feel honoured to call them one of our relatives. Footy genius, Stevie Gerrard would be good. We could have a kickabout in our back garden - and I could show him how fab my demon left foot is. Jimmy Page would be better, because if nothing else, I might at last get to actually see Led Zepp' live - possibly in my front room with a wall of Marshall speakers, a four pack, a bottle of Jack Daniels and a couple of cigarette lighters (for the Stairway to Heaven number)... Then maybe I could dig out my Son's classic Gibson Les Paul Studio electric guitar and me and Jimbo could have a bit of a sesh, jammin' the night away..... Sweet.

It wasn't either of them. Nor thankfully was it Degsy, Cherie or Cilla.

All they would tell us was that the subject was internationally famous, born in Liverpool but now lives in the states.

Blimey. Gobsmacking. We are related to someone internationally famous who now lives in the states!..

They ring us back. They want to come round and screen-test my old Mum with a view to interviewing her on camera for the programme. Not only that, if all goes well then the celeb will drop in to do a face to face with her!..

It's all going too fast. We're having difficulty getting our collective heads around this one... and they still won't tell us who it is!

All I can say is 'Thank God for Google'...

We type in Mum's maiden name and start working through all the famous people we can think of who were born in Liverpool. We are forensic in our search.

And then we find it. We find it but we cannot believe it. It ain't really registering.

Us, the Ordinary-Nobody family from Liverpool really are related to someone who has already been to the White House as a guest of President Obama. Someone who is instantly recognisable right around the globe....

It really is sort of getting to be like a plot from Dallas or Dynasty - improbable, not to say impossible! But it appeared to be true!

Amazingly, our relation is Kim Cattrall.

Although dying to blab to anyone we meet, we don't crack on to anyone (well, hardly anyone) - especially my Mum. The programme makers want it to be as natural experience as possible when she meets the people from the Beeb.

The researchers come round. They are impressed with my old girl. She's 87 years old but is still dealing from a full pack (including the jokers). Her recall of her long lost brother is undiminished by a 70-odd year gap. They tell my Mum that they would like to come round with a camera crew and the subject of the programme to do a few scenes. My Mum agrees.

Finally, I tell my kids that they could be related to someone famous. They press me, I capitulate and tell them who it is. Three nanoseconds later, my 25 year old son had shoved it straight onto his FaceBook page.

So much for discretion.

The big day comes - Spring Bank Holiday Monday to be precise and by now, my Mum has been told who it is. She invites us kids to her house to meet our newly discovered relation. Knowing that my Mum's house is a tad on the bijou side - and that around 20 people are likely to be tramping around inside, I reluctantly decide to decline the offer - in the hope that I might meet Kim in less fraught surroundings at a later date.

Three cars turn up the little street in Sheffield where my Mum now lives. Out steps the Director, two researchers, camera crew & sound man, make-up lady, minder and Kim Cattrall... Already in the house are my three sisters, a nephew, a niece, my Mum's younger sister and her daughter.

They are there for a couple of hours filming before they depart. Now is the time to take stock. Basically, my Mum is Kim's Great Aunt - her brother was Kim's Grandfather. That makes me her mother's cousin and my kids are Kim's second cousins.

We've kept a collective embargo on the information while the rest of the programme was being made. The reason being that there is one hell of a story to come out regarding my Uncle Georgie - alot of it is very very painful and upsetting to those concerned. We didn't feel it was our job to publicise the story - especially as we have only just found out about it all. It is really amazing - but not in a positive way. And to be honest, we were all very shocked when we heard what my uncle Georgie had been up to. After he left his wife - he laid low for a few years then remarried. In short, Georgie was a bigamist.

For my Mum it's closure. She was pretty much the last person to see her eldest brother as he did his last runner all those years ago and has always wondered what had happened to him. Well now she knows - where he settled and when he died. Last Saturday I met Kim's Auntie - she's another cousin of mine; and is Georgie's third child. She was really nice, as was her husband. They had loads of photos of their niece - including one with her and Leonard Nimoy playing a couple of Vulcans in a Star Trek movie.

We've heard that the programme is due to air on August 12th. My Mum is getting a private showing beforehand because some of the stuff the programme uncovers is a bit painful....

The process has been surreal, the story has been shocking and painful for all concerned - but I have to say how thrilled we all are to have discovered a new arm of our family - and yes, we do feel honoured to have Kim as one of our relatives.

Well, that's the story - I wrote this piece a few weeks ago and have been wondering when to whack it up on the blog. Well, I reckon now is the right time as the new series of Who Do You Think You Are? is about to start and a piece about Kim's story was featured in Saturday's Daily Mail magazine..


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Co op - good with food (but not with geography)...

Co op's latest BBQ advert - now reinforced with added flaggage - (Scottish and Unionist of course)...

Why not complain?
The Co-operative Group
Customer Relations
Freepost MR9473
M4 8BA


Phone: 0800 0686 727

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Just as if....

In tribute to the imminent disclosure of over a million MP receipts, West Lancashire poet Tom McDonald, inspired by Kipling's best known poem has penned the following tome....

Just as if...

If you can keep your houses when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
About your freebies of which there’s quite a few

If you can bait and not be tired of baiting,
When you tell the voters that you’d never tell them lies
If you are hated and care not of the hating,
When you’re up to no good and think that it’s wise

If you can scheme for light-bulbs and cracked plaster,
If rising damp in the swimming pool is to blame,
You could tell your bankers of this dire disaster,
Because you know that you and they are just the same.

If you don’t know the truth of what you’ve spoken,
With your twisted way of rigging complex rules
When you see the things we gave our lives to broken,
As we stoop and build ‘em up with worn out tools.

If you can make one heap of what you’re claiming,
And compare it with the hoard of Jonathon Ross,
And brood and start again at what you’re aiming,
And never breathe a word unto your boss.

If you can stake your claim for heating up the lawn,
And the contents from a horse’s steaming stall
Get paid for nappies, bath plugs, and for steamy porn,
While chandeliers swing gaily in the hall.

If you can talk with crowds and feign your virtue,
Or walk with kings nor lose the commons touch,
If neither friends nor Jeremy Paxman can hurt you,
And if some men count with, you but not too much.

If one’s denied as middleclass in classy mags.
And they say that person is not what he seems
Then how is it that he owns two brand new jags
And the place he lives has brand new Tudor beams.

If you would like your fortune to continue,
To serve your turn and keep you as a toff,
Don’t tell Joe Public what they think is in you,
Even though you’d tell these peasants to sod off!

If you can talk on telly for one minute,
About the rules and what you never hid,
Then yours is the oyster and the pearl that’s in it,
And what’s more, you’ll be an MP, our kid....

Tom McDonald, West Lancashire.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The default English First Minister says "It's oooor country!"..

..."This, the launch day of the 2018 World Cup bid. It's a great day for football, it's a great day for our country"....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Quakes in the Lakes....

This morning there was an earthquake measuring 3.2 on the Richter Scale. It was centred around Ulveston, South Lakes, Cumbria..... That isn't that far from Sellafield's family of expanding nuclear power stations and also the proposed underground nuclear waste dump at Copeland.

Although only small, this quake shows that there is seismic activity in the area around the Lake District - last month for instance, they had another quake measuring 2.8.

Do you think we should we be building nuclear stations and storing nuclear waste anywhere near what is becoming a potential problem area? After all, the projected danger time for the most radioactive waste to be stored is around 100,000 years - that's 25 times the age of Stonehenge - and quite a bit longer than a 5 year parliamentary term...

Still, in their various cabinet guises, the Miliband boys have assured us that everything is A-OK and there's nowt to worry about....... So that's alright then?

Geology extra!
- The most stable rocks in the UK are in the Cairngorms, Scotland. They are also amongst the oldest in the world, vying for longevity with the Laurentian Shield rock formation in Canada.

Politics, eh. Don't you just love it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A celebration...

Today is our day.
Time for a bit of tradional music from Carolanne Pegg - The mouse and the crow.

Happy St George's Day to you all.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hey, our Chief Exec' says it's OK to celebrate Englishness!

Bill Taylor, our local council's Chief Exec' is a larger than life character - especially for the staid types of West Lancashire.

Bill, resplendent in nice tan, designer spex and personalised number plate on his Range Rover is the type of dude who likes to keep up with the times. One of his current projects is a weekly video blog where he likes to tell it as it is to the West Lancashire masses.... The world according to Bill...

This week, Bill (a Scotsman by the way)expounds his belief that we should all celebrate our proudyness in being English - and hey, you too need not feel ashamed.

It was all going so well until Bill-baby said this -
'...Being patriotic is second nature to most Scots and Irish people, but sometimes it seems to me at least that English people have some difficulty in expressing their patriotism. Until recently, to be found waving a Union flag was to somehow be associated with far right politics. Fortunately, the ability to fly the Union flag and to be English is much more mainstream'

Bill, in my humble opinion, you should 1) invest in a book of flags 2) invest in an autocue for your videos.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nuclear sites announced.... where will they go I wonder?

Is this what the average Lake District fell walker will be wearing in 50 years time?

Possibly.... Anyway, great news!
List of 11 new nuclear sites released.....

10 of the 11 sites are in England, the third most densely populated country in the world!

Solitary token site announced in Wyfla north Wales, but due to vociferous local opposition from Welsh nationalists, it is expected that this power station will never be built.

HOWEVER, due to the passing of the new planning bill last winter, local opposition in England will not be allowed to deflect the government from their new-build zeal. That planning bill was obviously shepherded through parliament by the 'Aye' votes of Welsh, Northern Irish and especially Scottish Labour MPs.

All the government have to do is quote the mantra enshrined in the new bill.... And that mantra is... 'For the common good'... It means 'for the common good of the people of the whole of the UK'....

Yet again, England is left, bereft of any national representation. Yet again, it is England's few remaining green spaces which will bear the brunt of this massive round of toxic new builds - and all because we like to leave out tellies on stand-by..

And yet again, during the winter parliamentary session, it will be Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs who will 'legitimise' this process when they vote it through.....So that's alright then.

And as for all you people out there who believe that English local planners still have the power to reject the planning permission, think again. This extract taken from the super friendly Office of Nuclear Development website 'Hey, thank God for nuclear power!'...

'Developers may apply to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (an independent body set up to decide on planning applications for projects of national significance) for development consent for those sites which are found to be strategically suitable in the Nuclear NPS. Before a developer applies for permission it has to consult relevant Local Authorities and local communities'.

For those that don't know, the Infrastructure Planning Commission is a government appointed quango of yes-monkeys each with a wad of cash in one hand and a rubber stamp in the other. They have the power to impose anything Gordon Brown wants, anywhere in England.

Oh....... and just in case you were wondering where all the toxic nuclear waste is going to be buried? Got it in one! beneath the green sward of the Lake District...... William Wordsworth will be pleased.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Come, come......

Just one question.... Did Jaquii Smith's second-house hubby put a claim in for the bumper box of man-sized Kleenex to go with the porn double-bill?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gordon Brass-Neck feels our pain.....

This Q and A from yesterday's PMQs perfectly illustrates both the arrogance of the Prime Minister and the supine, roll-over and tickle-my-tum puppy-pleasing uselessness of yer average English MP. (Especially when tricky questions on English vindictiveness are raised)....

Mr. Fraser Kemp (Houghton and Washington, East) (Lab): Six months ago today, a constituent of mine, Claire Walker, died of cervical cancer. She was 23 years of age. Will the Prime Minister join me and Claire’s family, friends and supporters who are campaigning in London today in wholeheartedly welcoming last Friday’s announcement that there will be a full, independent and comprehensive review to consider the urgent case for the reintroduction of cervical cancer screening for young women under 25?

The Prime Minister: I appreciate everything that my hon. Friend said. Any family that is suffering because of cervical cancer—or, indeed, because of any form of cancer—has all our sympathies. We want to do everything we can to help, which is why we have introduced the vaccinations for teenagers—we have extended that programme and are ready to extend it further—and why the independent review that he mentioned will consider the case for making cervical cancer screening available to women under 25. It is our responsibility to look at all the available medical evidence about the risks as well as about the advantages of such screening. That will be done and I assure him that we take seriously the needs of anyone who is facing cancer at this time.

As I've said before - there ain't no case to consider by any independent jobsworth-quango. The case has already been proven for screening to begin at 20 - just like they do in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland...

Yet another opportunity lost to hold the administration to account by an English MP. But then again, maybe lives in England aren't quite so precious as those in Mr Brown's constituency?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jade Goody will be pleased.....

A panel of experts is to carry out an evidence review to determine whether women (in England) under the age of 25 should be routinely screened for cervical cancer, Health Minister Ann Keen announced today.

SPIN - "We are very proud of our cancer screening programmes in the NHS, which are internationally recognised as world-class." said Ms Keen.

REALITY -Yeah, but not quite as 'world class' as screening in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - which all start screening women from 20 years onwards.

SPIN - "Cervical screening saves around 4,500 lives every year and we want to ensure that our programme remains in the best interests of young women. Experts will review the latest available evidence in this area as well as consider how we can increase awareness of the importance of screening and encourage more women to decide to take up this important service."

REALITY - The tragic case of Jade Goody and the negative publicity it has generated has caused a problem for English NHS spin doctors. In order to try and diffuse the dawning realisation that all is not as equal as the sharing, caring Unionists would like us to believe, they have hurredly announced a review.

SPIN - 'The Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening will consider the latest evidence available, including evidence from the key cancer charities who will be invited to contribute to the review. The board of experts will then recommend whether it is beneficial for women under 25 to be screened'. The evidence review will be presented to Ann Keen later this year.

REALITY - Another 'long grass' exercise. By the time this snouts-in-the-trough quango eventually get back with the report, Jade Goody will be dead, the story will have disappeared from the celeb press, and Posh will once again be dominating the front cover of Heat magazine..

SUMMARY - The case is proven. There is nothing to find out because the Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish Health Services have already completed all the necessary checks and balances -and then committed those findings to paper. If the English NHS was truly interested in saving the lives of young English women, they would pick up the phone today, and get those reports delivered to English NHS HQ by tomorrow morning. Hours later, they would be announcing a change in the age of screening down to 20..... IF, they were interested.

Clive Anderson, Sarah Miles, English imperialism and me...

Clive Anderson,
President, Woodland Trust.

Mr Anderson,

I am currently a member of the Woodland Trust.

During a recent radio edition of 'Loose Ends', you interviewed the actress Sarah Miles. During the conversation, she expressed her pride in being English - and also bemoaned the fact that so many English people are apparently shy about celebrating their Englishness....

Your reaction was to utter a statement along the lines of 'Well, 200 years of English imperialism might have something to do with it'.....

As a proud Englishman, I was frankly amazed that you, a barrister and de facto, a supposedly intelligent man would make such a bizarre statement. Can you tell me when this 200 years of English imperialism happened? Do you mean the last 200 years and the days of Empire? If so, then you are mistaken. It was not 'the English Empire' - it was the BRITISH Empire'. Last time I looked, 'Great Britain' consisted of Wales, Scotland and England....

Maybe you were referring to the Middle Ages - a time when Scotland did more than its fair share of imperialistic invading...

Sarah Miles was right. Those born in England should be proud. Aside from coming second (behind China) in the list of nations responsible for the greatest number of inventions in the UN top 100 that have most benefitted civilisation, England has given much to the world. For example, England produced Magna Carta, the world's first document to formally set out the rights of the individual - a document much copied throughout the world, including the Declaration of Independence. And the 2 tier model of modern democratic representation originated in England, also.

England is a great country which is suffering grievously under New Labour. The only time people at the BBC mention England is to comprehensively rubbish it - and you appear to be no exception to that rule.

As you are a barrister, I am sure you would agree that we, the English should have our own national parliament. We are currently the only country in Europe without any national representation. No First Minister for us, no parliament - we aren't even allowed our own national anthem for God's sake!!!

I joined the Woodland Trust at the end of 2008 - I am passionate about the ever few remaining green spaces left in England (the 3rd most densely populated country in the world). However, I will not stay in an organisation which has as its head a man who apparently so flippantly rubbishes England.

Can you please explain your comment - your reply will decide whether I retain my membership or not.

Alfie the OK
Englishman (and therefore rubbished)
England (a country with no national representation).

Dear Mr OK,

Thank you for your E mail.

I’m sorry a remark of mine on Loose Ends has caused you so much distress. I particularly regret that it might lead you to disaffection with the Woodland Trust, an organisation you rightly identify as addressing an important issue.

When on Loose Ends Sarah Miles raised the question of Englishness, somewhat tangentially to the main thrust of our conversation, I attempted an off-the-cuff and, I hope, amusing explanation as to why England or Englishness might be unpopular.

If I had specified 200 years of imperialism I think your point, as far is it goes, would have been a fair one, as perhaps I would have been confusing England and Britain (or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , or in later years the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)– an error that almost everyone risks falling into from time to time – but one which I would have wanted to avoid in the context of the conversation we were having, however light-hearted.

In fact according to the BBC transcript of the programme I said

I think it’s a few hundred years of imperialism that have made England very unpopular.

This is vaguer, but I think more apt. In any event , I had in mind not just the years of the British Empire but also the centuries before that in which English kings, queens and state attempted, with some success, to acquire dominion over the rest of the British Isles and elsewhere. All in all I think there is a perception that Britain, and particularly England, has over long periods of history sought to rule parts of the world beyond its borders. While there is much to be proud of in England’s history it is perhaps understandable that this has provoked a certain amount of resentment in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and overseas.

Or perhaps there is some other explanation for the situation Sarah Miles identified?

With best wishes,

Clive Anderson.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Perfect Day...

On Saturday, we tootled down to Cambridgshire to meet up with our Son. He's joined the Army with a view to becoming a helicopter engineer and is currently completing his basic training. Pleasantries over, we decided to spend the day in the county town.

I've never been to Cambridge before. What a place. I haven't felt as English since we visited Bath last year. The centre is a synergy of fantastatic architecture, bicycles and Mensa'd grey matter in long wooly scarves. It was weird really - the place is one of the most cosmopolitan cities I have ever been in. There are students and visitors from all over the world - but at the same time, it is quintessentially English.

First stop was a look at the simply awesome King's College Chapel building. If anyone wants to see the best medieval building in the world then this is it.

From the wafer thin fan-vaulted roof to the enormous size of the beautiful stained-glass windows, this building is just sensational. Built in 1441 under the patronage of Henry VI, it is the zenith of medieval master masonary. So it was a bit of a let down then that we couldn't get inside because of a students' function. Never mind - there was always the pub.

And this being Cambridge, we ended up in a hostelry with an illustriously intellectual past. The Eagle is a gorgeous pub, ancient, heaving, warm. and hearty. It was the place where Francis Crick interrupted patrons' lunchtime on 28 February 1953 to announce that he and James Watson had "discovered the secret of life" after they had come up with their proposal for the structure of DNA. The anecdote is related in Watson's book The Double Helix and commemorated on a plaque next to the entrance. How civilised. The meaning of life cogetated and chewed-over on the back of a beer mat in an English Pub.

The place was absolutely stuffed to the rafters with the world's intellectual humanity. Behind us, a group of South American students were having a deep discussion about the culture of Sao Paulo. To the side, a dozen Chinese people chatted about the Science Fair and the lecture they had just attended. A middle aged bloke in a panama hat and a crumpled linen suit ambled into the courtyard and greeted a couple of friends smoking roll-ups.

"Hey man, how's it hanging?"...

To be honest, I think his mate was past caring how anything was hanging...

It's funny, but not one person talked about football - especially as the biggest game of the season was happening in the north west as we drank.

We strolled around the back street medieval lanes and ginnels. It sort of reminded me of Venice - you turn a corner and in an instant you've gone back in time 500 years. I was brought back to the 21st century by my Jerusalem ring tone.

It was my youngest Son telling us that Liverpool had just spanked United, 4-1.

Like I said, perfect day.

Overheard in our local last week...

Man to new Landlord - "So what's happening this St Patrick's Day then?"

Landlord to man - "Bugger all".

"What do you mean, 'bugger all'?"

"I mean, bugger all is happening here on St Patrick's Day. No stupid floppy big green foam hats, no stick-on beards, no blow-up Shillelaghs, no special Guinness promos - nothing."

"But why? Why aren't you celebrating St Paddy's Day then?"

"Because I am not Irish. Because I don't live in Ireland. Because this pub is not in Ireland."

"But you must! Last year, it was wall-to-wall green and white, the 'craic' was all over the place and everyone got pissed on Guinness and felt all lovely and Irish for the day."

"Not this year they won't - at least not in my pub."

"Well that's a bit of a shame - I mean, it's traditional isn't it..... to celebrate the saint's day?"

"That's right. And that's what we're doing on 23rd April."

"Ohhhhh right. St George's Day......Hmmmm. Isn't that a bit, you know......"

"No it isn't. Not at all. On St George's Day, we will be having the biggest damned celebration of Englishness this pub has ever seen. English beers, English food, English Morris Dancers and English Folk Music. Why? Because I am English, I am proud to be English, I live in England - and this pub is situated in Lancashire, which is a county of England. So be sure to tell your friends!"

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Compare and contrast....

It's great to see that the St George's Day event at Sandwell has been saved by the timely intervention of local businessman, Chris Kelly and his patriotic wallet.

To celebrate, my good friend Fred, a native Black countryman and English patriot sent this letter to the local wrags -

Dear Editor,
Declaration of interest, I am an Englishman and not a member of the BNP.

It is interesting to note the difference between the Stone Cross St Georges Day parade and Notting Hill Carnival. Both are run under Labour administrations.

Notting Hill Carnival:
An Ethnic Minority event.
3 murders, over 400 arrests. 190 offences involving violence, robbery and theft.
Over 400 injuries at one event and 94 people hospitalised. 2 shootings at one event.
Handguns, CS gas canisters and a stun gun confiscated before one event.

Public funding given.
Police costs £3,000,000!
£8.7 million pledged by London Development Agency and the Arts Council to provide a Notting Hill carnival Enterprise Centre!

Sandwell St Georges Day Parade.
An English Event.
Not one reported instance of any disruptive incident. One recognisable member of a rival party photographed walking quietly in the parade.

Public funding withdrawn. £10,000

Perhaps Sandwell Council would like to justify their actions.

Hey Jimmy, it's your round!...

Today, I shall be mostly trying to buy a couple of industrial sized off-licences in Berwick and Carlisle, stock them with bottles of ginger wine, nippy-sweeties, gallons of heavy and a favourite brand of super-strength lager. Because if this law is passed I dare say there'll be one hell of a marketing opportunity on our side of the borders....


Thursday, February 26, 2009

RBSgate - summed up perfectly by an unknown Englishman........

This taken from a BBC message board (amazingly, not yet taken down by the BBC PC PCs)..

One thing needs to change...

The Royal Bank of Scotland is no longer Scottish - with 80% of "UK" taxpayers being English - the English taxpayer is now the majority shareholder.

Time to change it's name to something more representative:

"The mainly English Bank"


"The English Taxpayers Bank"

by EnglandRise.

Friday, February 20, 2009

URGENT! - Please sign the 'Ministry Jobs' petition on the number 10 site...

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to amend the existing job descriptions of some of his ministers. With the advent of devolution, and the consequent reality that some Ministers of HM government now only have responsibility over England alone, we believe it is wrong both factually and descriptively for those Ministers to continue to describe their job functions as ‘Secretaries of State’.

The term ‘Secretary of State’ has a UK wide remit. A Secretary of State is literally a Minister acting on behalf of all the people of the UK state – as in the case of the Foreign Secretary (official title being ‘'Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs').

So how can devolved Ministries such as Health, Education, Transport and Culture, honestly be described as having Secretary of State responsibilities - when those responsibilities apply to England and England alone?

We think this needs to be rectified – and that under the terms of the Government’s contract of trust with the people, Ministers of devolved Ministries are currently misleading the public who elect them on both the scope and the magnitude of their positions by continuing to use the term ‘Secretary of State’. We therefore think the amended job title for Ministers of devolved responsibilities would more truthfully reflect their area of relevance – for example, ‘Secretary for Health in England’.
Note: If the job responsibility for a particular Minister also includes Wales then ‘and Wales’ can simply be inserted after ‘England’

Please sign up here - Name only please, otherwise, the number 10 petition police will delete your contribution.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Fred shredded....

It was immeasurably satisfying to see that over-arsed vain-glorious bully, Sir Fred Goodwin get his botty smacked during yesterday's Commons Select Committee session. What comes around goes around - and even though that bespectacled yob still has his obscene pension, his golden goodbye-wad and his massive collection of classic cars, Goodwin, famed for his draconian management style, axe man-like tendencies and narcissistic love of all things Freddish is now persona non grata in civilised society. In less enlightened times he and his gang of 4 conspirators would have been expelled from the city limits and tethered to a post outside so that the wolves could have their fill.....(if they could stomach him).

The Piranha has become the Pariah.

I once had the misfortune to have met that odious man when he was busily sacking lots and lots of people from the Clydesdale Bank - he was CEO there before getting the job at RBS. I have seen grown men cry after being summoned to his office for a dressing down and completely broken after being fed through the wringer by him.

My contact at the bank had a nervous breakdown. He ended up a nervous wreck - all due to the Shred and his Caligula-like tendencies. The man is a complete inadequate. And after yesterday’s inquisition, it was obvious to all that the Fredster still believes his own delusional view of himself. Yes he apologised, but no, he didn't think he was at fault - for anything, really.

I just wonder how long it will be before we see him get another high-profile post. Rumour has it that because of his love of classic cars and the sponsorship of Formula 1 by RBS, Goodwin has built up a lot of friendships amongst the sport’s management elite. Apparently, he is being touted as the successor to Formula 1 supremo Max Mosley, son of Oswald-the-fascist and lover of sadistic sex games with prostitutes. I suppose by giving Goodwin the job, Formula 1 could claim they were cleaning up their act..........

But maybe not. Maybe it’s a case of carry on regardless? Is there any difference between them? One is the son of a leading fascist – the other was seen as a fascist by his long suffering staff. Both appear to be fans of sadism – with Mosley it was a physical thrill while Goodwin was a fan of sadistic mind games on underlings.....

You never see them in the same room together, do you?

Friday, February 06, 2009

The LibDems - pedalling more lies and deception....

Yesterday saw the launch of the Liberal Democrats grand plans to 'fix' the class based education system in Britain.

I know that this new policy initiative applies to the whole of Britain because their leader, legover-lethario Nick Clegg said so -

“While fighting the recession is currently the top priority, Britain cannot afford to get stuck in thinking only of our present - we must plan for the future. This means the best education for the youngest children to deliver a truly free society.

"The enormous gap that still exists in Britain today between the performance of our most disadvantaged children and those from richer families is an outrage. The Liberal Democrats believe that every child should be entitled to the best possible education no matter what their background is".

I know that the policy applies to the whole of Britain because Ming Campbell, MP for North East Fife in Scotland said 'right across the country' on yesterday's edition of 'The Daily Politics'

I know that the policy applies to the whole of Britain because on the LibDems website, it says -

Nick Clegg announced radical new education policies to fix inequalities in Britain’s ‘class-based education system.’

And I know that this policy applies to the whole of Britain because on last night's BBC 6 o'clock news, ace education correspondent Rita Chakrabarti told me so by not mentioning England or English even once during her non-depth and factually crap report. (Don't you just love all that BBC impartiality?)

Except that this being post devolution Britain, it doesn't, does it? Apply to Britain, I mean.....

I found out that it only applies to England because - At the very bottom of the Lib Dems web article it says in tiny text -

This item refers to England. Due to devolution, detailed policy may be different in other parts of the UK.

I found out that it only applies to England because on yesterday's Daily Politics show, Ming Campbell used the phrase 'Right across the country' a lot. And we of the nationalist fraternity know that 'right across the country' is politician's code for England.

I found out that it only applies to England because Ming Campbell has a Scottish constituency with bugger-all to do with the education of kids in England - and therefore feels more than qualified to shove his nose into business that doesn't concern him. (Well, what else has he got to do?)

I found out that it only applies to England because I rang LibDem HQ this morning to get confirmation from a PR foot soldier that the policy only applied to England. "Yes, it only applies to England" he said........

STOP PRESS - Coming soon. A fly-on-the-wall video documentary on life as a particular kind of MP...

Friday, January 23, 2009


Just got back from dropping my Son off at the local College - and on the way drove past Southport's Magistrates Court. It's wall-to-wall snappers with telephoto lenses sticking out of every vantage point. There must be at least 100 of them, some on ladders, some standing on garden walls - and a few nutters have hired a couple of cherry pickers - and are dangling some 40 ft from the ground. A battalion of bright yellow-coated Rozzers are out in force to keep order as the papparazzi corps push, shove and manouveur in order to get the best angle possible for the shot...

And the reason for all this media scrummaging?

Stevie Gerrard and his two scally mates are due up before the Beak this morning for the little fracas in a Southport club a couple of weeks ago....

I mean, it's not as if there ain't any other news about, is it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's Barak Obama day, you'll find me behind the sofa.....

...or under the stairs, or hiding in the bog. Anywhere where I can escape the mantras spewing forth from every TV and radio station.


"Yes we can"

"We can fix it"

You know, it's funny but you just never see Barak Obama and Bob the Builder on the same podium, do you?

Yes folks. Today, Barak Obama is due to be sworn in as head honcho - and as our state run TV station is set to poodle servitude mode, you can be sure the 51st state will be celebrating more than the other 50 put together. Just to make sure, the BBC will (as per usual) have sent hundreds of commentators, fixers, camera crew, pundits and David Dimbleby out to DC to cover the great event. As per, the usual suspects will be wheeled out on this side of the pond to weep, blub, clasp hands and choke as the great man swears the oath of allegiance. David (I met him once and now he's my bezzy mate) Lammy, Keith (Nero syndrome) Vaz and Dianne (am I being paid for this) Abbot will no doubt mention just once or twice that Obama is the the first black man to get to head honcho level. But they needn't bother - because the BBC will have already stated it as fact at least 40 times an hour.

Except that he isn't, is he? He isn't black at all. He's of mixed race - as much white as he is black, as is Lewis Hamilton. Still, getting that wrong is more of a minor irritation compared to the expectation of great daring dos being built up by the BBC. They could almost be running a Barak Obama night on BBC TV tonight in celebration. Let's check the schedules -

7.00pm: Its a Barak Obama Knockout. Stuart Hall introduces a special episode of the zany show in which citizens of the 51st state try to build a 100 ft effigy of the big O out of foam sheeting and 6 ft square sponges - while being attacked by reactionaries armed with custard flans and water hoses.

8.00pm: DIY SOS, Obama Style. Nick Knowles and the DIY gang lean on their shovels in wonder as the 44th President rewires, rebuilds and makes good the entire world out of MDF, swags and matching throw cushions.

9.00pm. Credo. Today, our religious discussion group will tackle the vexing question: Who does God think he is, Barak Obama?

I just wonder how long before the blinkers fall off. How long before the whispering of long forgotten scandals is heard around the West Wing corridors of power. What if Obama has history - just like virtually every other Prez has had? For to get to the top of that greasiest of greasy poles, to rise to the head honcho job of jobs surely means, by definition that corners have been cut..... That dodgy land deal in Hicksville.... This affair with the blonde dolly bird..... The other agreement with cigar smoking men in smoke filled rooms.... possibly.

So that's why our telly will stay off, as will the radio. The newspapers have been cancelled and I am settling down to a loud and very long session with Led Zeppelin. My old mates Jimmy and Robert will help me forget all that hubris, forgot all that weeping and watery eyed sentimentality wobbling out of DC for the next 48 hours..

God Bless Led Zepp' - God Bless Amnesia...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tony Hart...

Sad to hear that Tony has morphed to the other side. He really did inspire me to take up a career in art - I used to watch him on 'Vision-on' in the early sixties.... I liked the programme - although it took me a while to catch on that the show was actually intended primarily for deaf people. I suppose the enthusiastic finger waggling by the lady presenter should have given me the clues - but 10 year old kids see what they want to... And anyway, I was watching in black and white.

The things I remember about Hart was his sticky-on smile - he always looked as if he was about to say 'My dear, how very nice to meet you', his checky shirts and his Adam Faith quiff. In those early days of Vision-on, when Morf was merely a distant thought, Tony would invite kids to send in artwork so he could stick it on his 'Viewers Gallery Wall'.... So I did. My 'Snowy Scene' was inspired by the winter of '63 when it snowed forever, and then some. For weeks after, when Tone would say 'And now, let's go to the wall to see some pictures from our very talented viewers' I would search and search for my picture.

Was that mine? That pic of a kid on a sledge with a bobbly hat? No it wasn't. The camera would weave a path around the wall, seeking out really woeful efforts from young Billy aged 8 in York and Denise aged 11 from Southampton. it was always accompanied by that legendary music..... Tum, te tum ta te tum, tum, titty tum, tum titty tum, tum, tum...... Tum ta, tum, ta tummm...........

It took me many, many years to forgive Tony Hart for not sticking up my superb work of genius of a snowy scene onto his viewers wall......

But I did, I had to - well he couldn't stick it up, if he never actually received it, could he? What really happened to my picture became apparent some 20 years later when I was clearing out my parents loft prior to them moving to pastures new. There, just underneath the water tank and 2 inches of detritus was my picture - signed 'Snowy Scene by Stephen from Liverpool, aged 10'.... Yes, she said she would post it for me. Yes, she said she would buy a stamp to cover the postage. Yes, she promised faithfully to do it, definitely, the next time she went to the shops......

Of course, my Mum never did. Post it I mean.

Tum, te tum ta te tum, tum, titty tum, tum titty tum, tum, tum...... Tum ta, tum, ta tummm...........

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Gordon's gang are all Scousers just for today...

Gordon's not happy - he's just been told someone has forgotten to pack the shell suits, curly wigs and sticky-on moustaches...

Yes, Brown and his cabinet of all the talents rolled into town last night for a B&E start in Liverpool. It's all part of their continuing electioneering roadshow to convince people that they really do care... "Day reellie do ker doh don't dee doh?"

How exciting, the great one and his cohorts are in my neck of the woods just for today - but in spite of the very best of efforts, Alfie has been unable to get a personal one 2 one with the great Macaroon. For some reason, he has failed to get an invite to the meet-and-greet sessions so adored by our beloved leader.... "Eh lar, j'wanna buy a boss ticket for de Boss's gig?"

Hey, but never mind, I am contributing to the event in other ways - specifically, the 200 grand plus it is costing the taxpayers in security, logistics, hotel roomage and the purchase of copious amounts of Ferrero Rocher choccies for this one day of grandstanding, hand-pressing and I-feel-your- pain four-squarynessing..... "Gizz them choceeze or I'll rob yer wheelz an' torch yer wheelie bin, yer Scotch twat"....

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

ITV's Planning Wars - an exercise in smoke and mirrors...

Last night's ITV's Planning Wars programme concerned itself with the imminent concreting over 'of Britain'. It majored on new must-have runways running straight through someone's front room, mega huge warehouses the size of Shropshire and 3 million new houses.

As per usual with such productions, they sanitised the info. England, the real target of this concretia was sort of buried and forgotten - much like the average English citizens democratic rights. According to the Gravelly-Voiced narrator, it was 'Britain' which was bracing itself for the flop of wet concrete on a verdant green belted landscape. It was Britain which was about to be trowelled into oblivion. It was 'Britain' which was about to suffer from the obscene new planning laws....

Even the guy from the CPRE - the Campaign to Protect Rural England, interviewed amongst a middle England rural idyll background failed to mention the dreaded 'E' word.

And so the media deception continues. The disinformation spews forth - England is Britain when there is bad news to be swallowed, England is non-existent when there is good....

'Films of Record' were the producers of the programme. That's the outfit run by Roger Graef - the guy who likes to big up his factually accurate credentials. What a pity that instead of telling it as it is, his production company elected to follow the usual new Labour snail-trail of fudge, inaccuracy and lies.

One day, the people of England will wake up and smell the coffee. I just hope that when they do, we still have some countryside to enjoy.