Category Archives: Culture

Barclays out of CONTROL?

A few years ago, I moved away from teaching and coaching the “soft” skills of management and have been concentrating much more on the “hard” skills.

One of the hard skills of management, which everyone running a department or process should know,  is one which appears to be missing in MOST businesses. It is the art of Business Control.

It is very straightforward: POPS.

POPS is a very simple but effective method of structured management thinking.

If the POLICY, ORGANISATION, PROCEDURES, SUPERVISION Business Controls had been applied to the Banking Industry, we would never have had a financial crisis.

“POLICY” is the high-level control and is the responsibility of the Board and Senior Management. They not-only put together the Policy but their duty is to ensure that everything which happens within the organisation is in keeping with Company Policy.

For instance, if  traders fiddle with interest rates and interest rates have been fiddled-with for years without anyone being brought to book – they may be forgiven for assuming that fiddling with interest rates is part of the bank’s Policy and culture.

“ORGANISATION” is about the people. Are the right people doing a particular job? Have they been trained? Have they been communicated with? Do they know what they can and cannot do? Is there a good Management Structure which can report up to Board level?

“PROCEDURES”  : For instance, is a trade or block of trades recorded and checked? Are there “snap” checks and audits designed to check that company Procedures are being adhered to.

SUPERVISION is a day-to-day control (so is the Procedures Control).  This control is the responsibility of the “one-up” manager. The one who is there not the one at meetings. Very often , things happen without day-to-day supervision. For instance, if a trader makes a few dodgy deals, a good manager’s responsibility is to (at least) make the trader know that he could be caught.

Here’s an example of how a thorough Management Audit which looks at specific Business Controls can unearth the REAL cause of an issue. It is also surprising how many breakdowns and corporate crises are the result of a bad or non-existent high-level POLICY control.

In 1987, the car-ferry, The Herald of Free Enterprise sank in Zeebrugge Harbour and 193 people died. There appeared to be a very simple explanation for the “accident”.   The loading doors at the front of the boat (through which cars entered the boat) had been left open.

However, a proper structured  investigation  designed to identify the Root Cause of the disaster was needed.

The doors were left open because one man was asleep when he should have pressed the button to close the doors. Therefore, the PROCEDURES control had broken down. The procedure was that when the boat was about to move, a button would be pressed on the bridge. That would trigger the man to press the button to close the doors.

The direct SUPERVISION control was  was non-existent because the man who should have pressed the button was managed by a senior man who was only in charge of ferry car-parking and not door-closing.

In addition, there was no PROCEDURE for anyone to confirm to the bridge whether the doors were closed or not. It was assumed that once the “close the doors”  button had been pressed, that the doors were closed.

The ORGANISATION control is about the people involved in the process. In this case, the organisation consisted of just ONE lowly manual worker who, on this occasion, was asleep. The  First Officer who pressed his button, immediately assumed that once he had pressed it, his job was over.

The last Control is the highest-level  – POLICY. This control is administered right at the top of an organisation –  by the Senior Management and the Board of Directors.

One may be forgiven for thinking that there is absolutely no way that such a high-level control could possibly have anything at all to do with someone forgetting to close the loading-doors on a ferry.

However, the Root Cause of the Herald Of Free Enterprise disaster WAS a breakdown in the POLICY control.

The Company’s POLICY was to turn the ferry around in 15 minutes.

Consequently, the man who should have pushed the button was tired because he had not slept properly for two days and was already asleep when the boat had docked.

As is often the case, the ultimate responsibility for the sinking belonged to the management.

Today, Barclays banks has a very similar situation in respect of its traders who are alleged to have manipulated LIBOR for purposes of profit!

Was there proper SUPERVISION? Were PROCEDURES in place to guard against improper behaviour? Was the ORGANISATION right? Were the traders only (as far as they understood) acting within Barclays’  POLICY? Did Barclays have a “SELL, SELL, SELL!!!” Policy which encouraged short-cuts and cheating?

A measured, thought-through approach is needed.

The reaction by the media and politicians already suggests that instead, there will be a free-for-all, accusatory, disorganised  non-process, preceded by the customary witch-hunt and a Lawyer Benefit in the shape of an inquiry.

What is REALLY NEEDED is a Management Audit delivered by a team of sceptics NOT PAID FOR by Barclays.

That is to say –NOT Pricewaterhouse Coopers and certainly NOT those Muppets at the Financial Services Authority.

The Older Woman Rocks….

There has been a lot of debate about the “older woman” TV presenter and the comparison between her and the young airhead “Autocutie”.

Thankfully, mature lady presenters are making a major comeback but one cannot help but wonder about the relationship between them and the new TV-types who seem to be mostly can-wearing teenagers with clipboards.

A couple of years ago, I met broadcaster Anna Ford and she was (and still is) a very beautiful lady. Her voice still resonated with the mellifluous lower-register tones of the professional broadcaster and  she exuded a velvet steeliness and confidence which I imagine would be frightening to most career-building media hobbits.

So is it about looks? No – but it is about age and what it has brought – and I do not mean wrinkles.

Here are a few  reasons why we should appreciate and cherish women who are over 50 and in this list, you will probably find the reasons why these women can frighten younger men:

1. They can run faster – because they tend to wear sensible shoes.

2. If you behave like an arsehole, they will tell you.

3. They no longer have wishy-washy views and will probably have developed proper healthy right-wing attitudes.

4. They are intimidating to young males with low self-esteem and are not impressed by 28 year-olds with  Media Studies degrees.

5. For every stunning 60 or 70 year-old woman there are two myopic, balding, beer-gutted males.

6. They are dignified so they will not engage you in a slanging match but will destroy you by sheer force of intellect.

7. Older women have had their fill of “meaningful relationships” and “long-term commitments”. Your professional or personal relationship with them is based on your merit.

8. They often have an undeserved reputation as “ballcrunchers”. Get past that and you’re “in”.

9. They will never accuse you of “using” them. They are using you.

10. Their already off-scale assertiveness is still developing and you will need to have had some serious coaching before you can deal with them satisfactorily.

11. They never announce that they’re pregnant.

So, when we think that the argument is about “ageism” it is not necessarily about a number.

It is more about the time-honed intensity of character and the fear of God that these women can instill in lesser mortals.

Insoluble Syria?

These kids are NOT sleeping. They’re dead.

Syria: Usually in a Civil War, the model is pretty straightforward: The Good Guys versus the Bad Guys.

In Syria, they appear to have adopted to European Union Organisational model with LOTS of Chiefs and even more confused “Indians”.

These are some of the various flavours of Syrian good and bad guys:

The Assad Government, the Syrian National Council,the National Co-ordination Committee, the Syrian Patriotic Group,the Free Syria Army, the Free Officers Movement, the Syrian Liberation Army, the Military Council, the Shabiha, the Martyr Hisham Brigade, the Ibn Malik Martyrs Brigade, the Maarratt al-Numan Martyrs Brigade, the Salhauddin [Saladin] Brigade, the Fallujah Brigade.

There is only ONE ultimate solution:

Arm the lot of them.

Then, when it REALLY kicks off, send in William Hague to “condemn” and “deplore” them.

As usual, the West has allowed the situation to develop too far, creating yet another insoluble problem.

Cave In  Assad!

Greek Texas Hold ‘Em

The Greek Syriza leader has the measure of the Eurozone sheep.

You may not agree with his politics but Alexis Tsipras is THE ONE that Eurozone leaders do NOT want to negotiate with.

They have been bluffing that they’re “ready” for a Greek Euro exit. It’s all talk!

They are NOT ready and Tsipras KNOWS IT . He also knows that a Greek exit (forced or otherwise ) would not-only create economic and banking havoc but that the after-shocks would be felt all around the world.

He’s willing to call their bluff because he realises that countries such as China  & Russia are standing-by and would immediately move in with investment.

Your call.

German Hypocricy knows no bounds – especially in respect of Greece!

Twice during  the 20th Century, Germany left Europe in a mess. Now, in the 21st Century, it is their intransigence rather than their high explosives which may once again create European chaos.

Germany had to pay reparations after WW1. However, after its defeat in WW2, reparation payments were NOT resumed. In addition, there was another outstanding debt comprising of what the German Weimar Republic had been using to pay reparations. They had to borrow to pay.

In 1953, an international conference decided  that Germany could could defer some of the debt until East and West Germany were reunified – although because a reunification was though to be unlikely, this was effectively a debt write-off.

By 1980 West Germany had repaid some of the debt although the remainder (according to the 1953 agreement)  would be serviced for another 20 years.

The final payment was due on 3 October 2010 which was the the 20th anniversary of German reunification.

Over 10% of this debt, about 20 million euros, has never been paid.

So please Germany, remember that Europe has shown you mercy on more than one occasion.

Time to return the compliment and defer the WHOLE of Greece’s existing debt for – what shall we say? 30 years?

….and YOU can pick up ALL  the interest payments.

(THAT, my Greek friends, is how to negotiate with the Germans.)


The Labour-Liberal Coalition is just about managing to cope with the constant rioting but at least immigration has been halted. No-one wants to move here anymore.

Head Minister Yvette wishes that she hadn’t defeated David Miliband because her life with the 30-stone Ed Balls ended as soon  as he had been defeated in the Leadership election by the elder Miliband. She had felt honour-bound to avenge her former husband’s humiliation and to everyone’s surprise, she had won!

Within two days had been texted by the Leader and asked to either form a government or go into exile to Melton Mowbray in the Mid-Shires.

No-one knows where the younger Miliband is at the moment. Rumour is that he is teaching English somewhere near Beijing – but these days – who knows.

Anyway, it was no joke having to go everywhere totally surrounded by large sweaty Security Guards in too-tight suits. Yvette hated that nearly as much as the Kevlar jacket which she seemed to take off only at bedtime . Even that wasn’t much fun any more.

She was soon to meet the rather wizened President of France. She briefly thought of President Lagarde in those good old days when she had been Head of the now defunct International Monetary Fund. The whereabouts of the money continues to be a mystery – but there are still lingering suspicions as to how well Germany (which used to be known as Europe) is doing.

As she climbed into the human-drawn bullet-proof rickshaw (the Ministerial Jags had been scrapped soon after the Petrol Wars) , out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of what appeared to be a familiar face. The features were still smooth – even after THAT prison sentence –  but the Buller Boy confidence now looked a little deflated and the sandwich board was not sitting comfortably on the 30 year-old hand-made suit. Sometimes, she thought that the post-incarceration humiliation phase of a prison sentence was a bit unnecessary but it did seem to teach some humility to those who were believed to need it.

The House of Parliament  used to be called Phoenix House and she was once again reminded of the historical episode thirty years ago when someone called Rupert Murdoch had a custard pie thrown in his face within these very walls! The incident had led to the destruction of the entire newspaper industry – Pre-Digi – and was commemorated by a sculpture fixed to the pavement outside.

She looked at the trio of figures. Maxwell, his wife Wendy Deng and pie-thrower Jonathan May-Bowles were depicted in life-sized splendour. Well….that wasn’t strictly true. The “sculpture” was by the Gunther von Hagens studios and rumoured to be no more than the plastinated remains of the three participants. However the bomb-proof glass case in which the sculpture was sealed made analysis impossible – plus there had been rumours that two of the figures depicted had been spotted in various locations – just like Arkle, Lord Lucan and Gordon Brown. Mind you, she mused, without any reliable news….who knows?

When she was awakened by the scream of a knocked-over tourist just outside the main entrance to the Virgin Westminster Palace of Fun, she shouted to the rickshaw pulling-team to stop. She noticed quite a few people wandering about amongst the potholes. They were all wearing those ill-fitting but mandatory jackets with “TOURIST” emblazoned on the back – although many of them were English and from only 30 or 40 miles away.

She decided to take a risk and see whether the person her team had knocked over was OK and stepped rather gingerly onto the pavement.  She reached into her gun-case for a handheld pot-pourri, as the stench of the open street was something to which she was no longer acclimatised.

A few years ago, this would have been what used to be called “an iOpportunity”. A digital image would have been taken of the Head Minister cradling an injured citizen to her Spanx-Kevlar bodice and the image would have been transmitted to everyone who still had an iDevice.

Unfortunately. Electronic signals were a thing of the past and citizens only wore “ the iBox” around their neck or waist for decoration.

However, it was soon apparent that the Tourist had a broken leg. Yvette turned and re-entered the Ministerial Carry-pod. “Deal with it, “ she snapped to one of her guards.

As the door hissed shut and she felt the shudder of the rickshaw slowly gathering speed, she fancied that she heard  a single gunshot….. in fact, as she proceeded, she noticed that there were lots of gunshots……

To be continued/

Greece and the Moneylenders

Today, there appears to be a general sigh of relief in Europe.  Stock Markets are climbing , driven by a new banker confidence. Positive noises are beginning to emanate from Eurozone Ministers. They are all looking forward to the approval of the latest Greek bailout. Will Monday 20th February 2012 really be the first day of the rest of our Euro lives?

Is it all over? Are we now scaling a slightly easier cliff to the upper plateau of Euro-prosperity? Will disaffected and now disenfranchised Greek people stay indoors and patiently wait 10 or 15 years while their “Neu” European Masters make things better?

Even Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble who finally came came blinking into the daylight a few days ago, appears to have been temporarily muzzled.

Politics are an illusion. The difficulty is in discriminating between the headlines, the expected conclusion and the most likely outcomes.

Today, it looks as if all that Greece has to do is meet the conditions imposed by Germany, Holland and Finland for its latest bailout package to be approved. Furthermore, it also looks as if they may be able to manage  to agree both the bond exchange programme as well as Greece’s debt reduction in one fell swoop.

That has been the real progress. During the last week, there was talk of a two-stage approval, beginning with the most important “victims” – the bankers and hedge fund managers being dealt-with first, followed by the Greek people. Most appear to be in agreement that both aspects can now be dealt with together.

However, Germany (one imagines with the full support of the government and Angela Merkel) continues to make those unpleasant macho Teutonic noises.

For instance, Steffen Kampeter the German Deputy Finance Minister: “This coming Monday, we will see whether Greece delivers or whether we will be forced to decide on another course of action, one that is not desired.”

Despite the posturing , the rhetoric and the barely-concealed German instinct to rule Europe, the 14.5 billion euro  Greek bond redemption will take place on March 20th. It was always going to take place – whether the entire Greek bailout package was approved or not. Even if it meant the cap being passed round the Eurozone – and we’d probably even find the United States and others making a contribution. Not giving money to the hedge fund managers and bankers was never an issue.

The real issue and rather alarmingly, the one which appears to have become the least important to the Eurozone High Command is the welfare of the Greek people. The Euro rulers have already showed the world that they would be quite happy to destroy Greece if they decided that it was expedient to do so.

Eurozone ministers spooked themselves last week on hearing that Greece would miss its debt-reduction goals.

Last year, Greece’s debt was 160% of Gross Domestic Product. This year , after being told to butcher its economy, Greece will probably deliver a reduced debt run-rate (by 2020) of only 129% of GDP. That is quite an achievement – bearing in mind the collateral damage.

However, Euro Ministers are experiencing the vapours because the set target was 120% of GDP by 2020. So what is the answer? You’ve guessed it. More Austerity.

The other unsavoury aspect of the Greek situation is that in spite of the whole arrangement being presented as a process of great charity, profits are being made. Profits are being generated from Greece’s misery.

The first 110 billion bailout in May 2010 was charged at an average rate of 5% per annum. That’s 5 billion euros! Even that was unsustainable because just like the door-to-door moneylender, Greece would be forced to borrow more, just to repay the interest…..and so on.  That rate has now been reduced to 4% per annum – but even so, it seems extortionate.

Euro moneylending is more Shylock than Mother Theresa – plus they do want their pound of flesh – unless of course, they are called Germany , Holland or Finland. They want several kilos of of the stuff.

They are the hawks – the hardliners and they appear to want to see Greece suffer,  to police Athens and hand-out bailout money like a stern uncle dishes out pocket money to his errant nephew.

What European Central Banks should do is simply return their ill-gotten Greek profits or at least direct them at Europe’s crisis programme. This should not be viewed as a profit opportunity.

Too many bankers and fund managers still view Greece only a profit centre.

In keeping with the Eurozone’s habit of creating rules “on the hoof”, there are discussions to fund an escrow account to guarantee that any bailout money goes to where Euroministers decide, thereby removing all management responsibility from Greece and its politicians.

There is one major issue which has not yet been ironed out – the Aladdin Solution – the “New Bonds for Old” proposal.

There are bondholders still resisting a debt-swap , so on February 21st 2012, Greece may be forced to legislate thus forcing those errant bondholders to accept a “new-for-old” arrangement.

What started a year ago as a simple bailout has now taken an unpleasant  politico-bureaucratic aspect which becomes more and more complicated with time.

The Greek people are quite rightly embarrassed by the way that they have been portrayed in the word’s media but one thing which they should always remember is that in spite of the fact that all their Eurozone friends have convinced the world that they want to help Greece – they really only want to help themselves.

They are the greedy moneylenders gathering round  a desperate family – having seen an excellent opportunity for profit.

I have a feeling that the happy ending will belong to Greece.

Greek party leaders seek deal as bankruptcy looms

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek party leaders on Tuesday will seek a long-delayed agreement on harsh cutbacks demanded to avoid looming bankruptcy, amid intense pressure from its bailout creditors to reach a deal, a general strike disrupting public services and thousands of protesters taking to the streets of Athens.

Heads of the three parties backing the interim government will confer with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on new income cuts and job losses, which Greece’s eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund are demanding to keep the country’s vital rescue loans flowing.

A general strike against the impending cutbacks stopped train and ferry services nationwide, while many schools and banks were closed and state hospitals worked on skeleton staff.

Police said up to 14,000 people took part in two peaceful anti-austerity demonstrations in Athens. The separate marches were to converge on central Syntagma Square, outside Parliament, which has been the focus of demonstrations over the past two years of economic pain.

On Monday, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos’ government caved in to demands to cut civil service jobs, announcing 15,000 positions would go this year, out of a total 750,000. The decision breaks a major taboo, as state jobs had been protected for more than a century to prevent political purges by governments seeking to appoint their supporters.

Athens must placate its creditors to clinch a euro130 billion ($170 billion) bailout deal from the eurozone and the IMF and avoid a March default on its bond repayments.

Among the measures the EU and IMF are pressing Greece for is a cut in the euro750 ($979) minimum wage to help boost the country’s competitiveness. This reduction would have a knock-on effect in the private sector – because private companies also base their salaries on the minimum wage – and even unemployment benefits. Unions and employers’ federations alike have deplored the measure as unfair and unnecessary.

“It is clear that there is a lot of pressure being put on the country. A lot of pressure is being placed on the Greek people,” Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said during a break in talks with EU-IMF debt inspectors late Monday.

He called on coalition parties to work more closely together.

“To save Greece … will involve a huge social cost and sacrifices,” Venizelos said. “On the other hand, if the negotiations fail, bankruptcy will lead to even greater sacrifices.”

“No one is as strong as Hercules on his own to face the Lernaean Hydra,” a swamp monster in Greek mythology, he said. “We must all, together, fight this battle, without petty party motives and slick moves.”

A disorderly bankruptcy by Greece would likely lead to its exit from the eurozone, a situation that European officials have insisted is impossible because it would hurt other weak countries like Portugal.

But on Tuesday, the EU commissioner Neelie Kroes, in charge of the bloc’s digital policies, said Greece’s exit wouldn’t be a disaster.

Kroes told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that “It’s always said: if you let one nation go, or ask one to leave, the entire structure will collapse. But that is just not true.”

Greece has been kept solvent since May 2010 by payments from a euro110 billion ($145 billion) international rescue loan package. When it became clear the money would not be enough, a second bailout was decided last October.

As well as the austerity measures, the bailout also depends on separate talks with banks and other private bondholders to forgive euro100 billion ($131.6 billion) in Greek debt. The private investors have been locked in negotiations over swapping their current debt for a cash payment and new bonds worth 50 percent less than the original face value, with longer repayment terms and a lower interest rate.

Greek government officials say they expect private investors to take losses of an estimated 70 percent on the value of their bonds.

The EU-IMF bailout will also provide an estimated euro40 billion ($52 billion) to protect Greek banks from immediate collapse. Domestic lenders and pension funds hold some 34 percent of the country’s privately-owned debt.

However, the bailout has to be secured for the deal with private investors to go ahead as about euro30 billion from the bailout will be used as the cash payment in the bond swap deal.

Greece’s coalition party leaders held a first key meeting on the austerity measures on Sunday, and postponed a second round of talks by a day so Papademos could complete negotiations with EU-IMF debt inspectors that ended early Tuesday.

The leaders have already agreed to cut 2012 spending by 1.5 percent of gross domestic product – about euro3.3 billion ($4.3 billion) – improve competitiveness by slashing wages and non-wage costs, and re-capitalize banks without nationalizing them. But the details remain to be worked out.

Creditors are also demanding spending cuts in defense, health and social security.

European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj Tardio said Monday that Greece was already “beyond the deadline” to end the talks.

Also Monday German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that “time is pressing,” and “something has to happen quickly.”

While Greece remains cut off from international bond markets – where it would have to pay interest of about 35 percent to sell 10-year issues – it maintains a market presence through regular short-term debt sales.

On Tuesday, the public debt management agency said Greek borrowing costs dropped slightly as the country raised euro812 million ($1.06 billion) in an auction of 26-week treasury bills. The coupon was 4.86 percent, compared to 4.90 percent in a similar auction last month, while the auction was 2.72 times oversubscribed.

Derek Gatopoulos in Athens and Gabriele Steinhauser in Brussels contributed to this report.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Quaint Liberals?

Quaintness pervades British Society – from our cute little village tea rooms, the genetically coded-in inferiority complex of the working classes, Barristers’ wigs to the way we run our Parliament and economy. We wear 21st century clothes which disguise 18th  and 19th century thinking.

For instance, India has a Space programme, nuclear bombs and an industrial infrastructure which will leave our economy standing in a couple of years. Yet we still see ourselves as “England Sahib” and attempt to dispense Colonial munificence to the natives by insisting that they accept our charity. They are embarrassed, they don’t want it but we feel that they ought to accept the £200 million-odd per year.

Remember how we felt in 1974 ago when the mad Idi Amin of Uganda launched his “Bananas for Britain” campaign because he’d heard that we were starving ? Mind you, at the time, the UK  was in a spot of bother. The oil crisis had sent the economy into freefall, unemployment was rising and industrial strife was worsening. (Sound familiar?).

The following Amin telegram was received in Whitehall:

“In the past months the people of Uganda have been following with sorrow the alarming economic crisis befalling on Britain. The sad fact is that it is the ordinary British citizen who is suffering most. I am today appealing to all the people of Uganda who have all along been traditional friends of the British people to come forward and help their former colonial masters. The people of Kigezi District donated one lorry load of vegetables and wheat – send an aircraft to collect this donation urgently before it goes bad .”

The politicians and Civil Servants both greeted the message with embarrassment and derision.

That is exactly how those  millionaire and billionaire Indians feel about the “peanuts donations” (their words) that we keep forcing on them.

But that is the very essence of our collective quaintness. We are oblivious because in our minds, we are still  “KING OF THE WORLD!”  We appear to be oblivious to the fact that  since 1845 (never mind 1945!), the world has changed.

We’re still like a maiden aunt handing a 5/- Postal Order to the nephew with an iPhone.

“But English is the world’s main-language” is the oft-repeated Mantra. Yes, because hundreds of years ago, we could sail boats. That meant that we could travel  and steal lots from the natives! Then we’d force-feed them God but more importantly – we taught them the English Language.

We weren’t “quaint” in those days. We were thieving and murdering conquerors with attitude. We used to have balls!

Now we are like the wheezy old duffer draped over a worn-out leather club chair, who likes to reminisce about the “good old days” and when being British “meant something”.

Great Britain consists of 6,289  damp little  islands in the North Sea – and only 803 of those  have what can be loosely described as a coastline. The rest are rocks sticking out of the sea.

It used to be said that the sun never set on the British Empire – but IT DOES NOW and like a rheumy-eyed old-timer, we should wake up and smell the Earl Grey!

There is one word which we treasure above all other : “TRADITION”. Our mentality dictates thas as soon as we have done something once, it has to become “tradition”.

Everything from the Christmas Turkey to the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace are “tradition”.

Why is there a ribbon on every MPS coat-hook ? “It’s for his sword, Dumbo! It’s TRADITION!”

“We vote Labour in this house -it’s tradition !!”

“You have to drink 10 pints and then be violently sick because…………” You’ve guessed it!!

I am listening to three Royal Commentators being interviewed on the subject of the Queen’s Jubilee. A great demonstration of synchronised obsequiousness borne of our love of tradition. ” The Queen does not see herself as a celebrity, she is far more than that….did you see those new photos of her….she wasn’t  just “Hollywood”…. she was….Majestic!!!”

The Brits absolutely worship the Royal family because……it’s TRADITION. It’s tradition personified.

No-one is suggesting that we should start , as the French did, by trashing the Royals. The French are almost as traditionally-minded as the Brits . That is why Monsieur le Président de la République is expected to behave like a king and why he lives in a palace.

Yet, the French have taken that important  one step forward from tradition and appear more modern and sophisticated than the Brits. They are NOT quaint. They have struck the right balance between modernity and tradition.

Why do we feel so uncomfortable in Europe? Why do we come across as outsiders? Geography is often blamed. “We’re an island…that’s what it is. We’re British!!”

Geography is to blame but it is not physical Geography. It is our mental, attitudinal Geography.

“We’re BRITISH, for God’s sake!”

Yes – we are British but we continue to treat Britishness as a virtue whilst we sit passively as the world around us grows and changes.

The government is ruled by the Conservatives (yes, even when the Labour Party is running things). They (the Conservatives) are VERY traditional. They are the Establishment.

Her Majesty’s Labour Opposition (see what I did there?) is ruled by the unions who are more conservative than the Conservatives.

Even those vast expanses of white nylon shirt displayed by overweight union leaders have become “tradition”. Their antipathy to any government has become traditional and in its own way…..quaint.

We are all drowning in a sea of tradition and quaintness – but there’s a surprising answer.

The Liberal Democrats are the United Kingdom’s newest and least-traditional bunch of politicians. But traditionally , they are  constantly squeezed from the Left as well as from the Right

Liberal Democrats do not make enough of their  “Democratic” credentials because they prefer the more traditional (and  quaint) “Liberal” – which actually doesn’t mean anything  to the average voter.

Liberal has two sets of meanings: Progressive, forward-looking, reformist, radical, libertarian, free-thinking, modern.

The second set of definitions or synonyms is the one with which the Liberals have been traditionally associated: Tolerant, indulgent, unbiased, broad, disinterested, unopinionated.

However, they do have one great advantage. They are neither in the hands of the traditionally quaint Establishment nor the quaintly traditional Unions.

That’s where our answer could be. Not necessarily in the hands of the traditional Liberal-Democrats but maybe in a new fired-up Democratic-Liberal Party ?

The quaintness has to go.

Franco-German Munificence!!

In January 2011, French President Nicolas Sarkozy proclaimed that by the end of the year, France was ready to implement  a financial transactions tax (FTT) to help poor countries. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel,  also expressed her support.

Sarkozy promised: “My conviction has always been that the FTT is the best form of innovative financing…. France is prepared to implement innovative financing mechanisms even if other countries should choose not to join. Because there is a moment in time where you have to go from discourse to setting an example.”

But, surprisingly, no agreement has yet been reached.

It’s urgent that France and Germany take concrete action to drive this joint proposal forward and to ensure that the revenues will be used to help reach the Millennium Development Goals.

France’s and Germany’s generosity is to be admired and we should do all we can to encourage this initiative, especially in the wake of such momentous upheavals within the Eurozone.

One trusts that our Prime Minister takes the time to gently remind the French and the Germans of  this more-than-generous gesture.

The petition is here:


50 Predictions for 2012

An economy used to depend on the interactions between consumers, commerce, politics and investors. Nowadays, we have to add banks (which used to be no more than a service industry) as an additional entity.

Keynesian economics are all well and good in a Steady State situation but we have well and truly entered times when Chaos Theory rules economics. Consequently, the motley collection of politicians-who-meet do not have the intellectual capacity to deal with what has become a multi-causal international problem with more parameters (known and unknown) than wines served at a G20 banquet.

My 2012 predictions are in no particular order, either in content or importance. They are random.

1. For several years, I have been writing about the Bank of England’s appalling forecasts. Finally, they have admitted that their forecasting model is wrong so they are spending £2.5 million on a new one. Their V-shaped recovery will become a straight-line depression and their 2% inflation forecasts will double.

2.  The prominence and dominance of Central Banks will continue to grow as politicians continue to struggle with sovereign debt.

3. Europe will continue  its recession with an estimated average contraction (negative growth) of -0.5%.

4. Sovereign monetary policy as well as the actions of Central banks will continue  to be driven by the same factor which has been dominant for the last few years: Political Ineptitude.

5. The European Central Bank has begun the process of Quantitative Easing and this will accelerate during 2012.

6. European Banks have 6 months within which to raise their Tier 1 Capital Ratios to 9%. This has already resulted in a Tsunami of deleveraging. This will continue to impact badly on economic growth.

7. Euro fiscal integration will continue to be discussed as will the ECB’s support for the (broken) bond markets.

8. Eurobond yields will continue to rise to record levels until even the Germans wake up to the fact that the whole thing has become unsustainable.

9. I continue to envisage the failure of the Euro which should have happened during 2011. There will be bank and government collapses.  French banks and the Spanish government will lead the way.

10. Contrary to what Mario Draghi has suggested, the ECB will leap into the Bond Market and begin to buy-up Government Bonds.

11. Italy will suffer massive Civil Unrest as the Monti government introduces unsustainable austerity policies and the economy is plunged into serious recession.

12. Spain is already in recession but more austerity will be announced .

13. The ECB will take centre-stage in Europe and will slash interest rates to zero (and below!).

14. The nonsense of the Bank of England’s “independence” will be put to the test with at least £150 billion in Gilt purchases during 2012.

15. The United Kingdom’s official unemployment figures will cross 3.5 million, producing an acceleration in forced sales and a subsequent collapse in the housing market with 25-30% wiped from house values.

16. UK consumption will remain weak, primarily as a result of increasing unemployment and a rising RPI.

17. Last year I predicted a UK General Election for October 2011. I now predict a General Election during 2012, following a vote of no confidence. The smart money is on Q2  – whilst the Conservatives continue to ride high in the polls and Ed Miliband remains Labour leader.

18. I predicted 2011 as the Year of the Riot. During 2012, every European capital will be affected by rioting.

19. America will make a surprising accelerated economic  recovery.

20. The next President of the United States will be…..Barack Obama.

21. Civil unrest will continue to accelerate in the Middle East as the people realise that they have been manipulated by the external forces of self-interest and that Western-style “democracy” is really not for them.

22. We will gradually realise that our intention to halt natural Global Warming was no more than a manifestation of our arrogance.

23. There will be  new Pope.

24. There will be an unusually high number of United Kingdom  by-elections.

25. Last year I predicted a Beckham divorce because I felt a momentous happening. They let me down by producing a baby (Harper Seven) instead. This year (for some reason), I see them setting up separate homes.

26. China will bail-out Italy from its economic woes. In return for gold. (Italy is the world’s 4th highest gold owner).

27. Gold will cross the $2000 per ounce barrier, then the $3000 barrier and possibly $4000.

28. FTSE  100 will cross 4000 on its way down and the Dow Jones will  hit 8500.

29. Nicolas Sarkozy will cease to be French President in May 2012 but his fate is very much intertwined with the Euro and much will depend on how long Mario Draghi of the ECB (the new man in charge) can help the politicians to string things out.

30. Turkey will be the beneficiary from  IPA (Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance), which is yet another Euro fund. 233 million euros have been earmarked for Turkey and will be spent on judicial reforms, climate change and environmental projects.

31. Turkey’s integration with Europe will produce an unexpected benefit to Greece. A non-economic excuse to leave the Euro.

32. When Greece leaves the Euro, possibly followed by Germany, a full-blown European recession will begin.

33. Last year I predicted a pre-emptive strike strike by Israel on Iran. It was very close but will happen during 2012. Uncle Sam demands it.

34. The United States will avoid a recession because consumers have begun to consume. However, much will depend on the volume of support America continues to provide to a broken Europe.

35. Crumbling economies will have a good effect on inflation and commodity prices will slide downwards.

36. The Euro will achieve parity with the American $.

37. If there is a “burst” of the Chinese property bubble, there will be a very sharp slowdown in China’s economic growth with a massive effect on commodity exporters everywhere.

38.  Greece will continue its death rattle until it wakes up and has the courage to exit the Eurozone shambles and default on ALL of its debt. Then it will receive proper support from unexpected sources and once-and-for-all break its links with Goldman Sachs.

39. The CIA-inspired Arab Spring will continue to become unglued as bloodshed in Egypt increases and the Libyans begin to wake up from the dreams of “democracy”. I foresee a Libyan Civil war.

40. There is only ONE logical end-game in Syria. An assassination and permanent removal of the Assad dynasty.

41. Britain and the United States have left Iraq and in keeping with modern tradition, it now looks more like a giant litter tray than the ancient  Cradle of Civilisation. Once again, Civil War, more bloodshed and extremists going “boom” beckon. No number of tin ballot boxes can prevent factional interests jockeying for position.

42. My favourite politician of 2011 will make a very welcome return to the European political scene and continue to annoy the Jedward of the Eurozone , Merkel and Sarkozy, now of course, known as Merkozy. Let’s hope that he doesn’t refer to Merkel as an “unfuckable lardarse” again. That  (quote of 2011) would be totally unacceptable!

43. ONLY because I am a great Harry Redknapp fan , I predict that Tottenham Hotspur will win the Premiership.

44. This is not a prediction but a hope that during 2012, somewhere a politician wakes up and realises that in any consumer-driven society, Quantitative Easing is best aimed directly at the consumer and not at the Prima Donna banks, who are not quite sure what to do with it anyway. Never feed a gambling habit.

45. In December 2012, the Chancellor and the Business Secretary (whoever they are) will ask the bankers to show “restraint” in respect of their bonus payments.

46. The United Kingdom’s Political Parties will BOTH realise that they have the wrong man in charge.

47. The Liberals will miss even more opportunities than they did in 2011 but will continue to make macho noises to impress the electorate and each other.

48.  The Labour Party will continue to support Ed Miliband and tell us that “Ed is a great leader and the man for the job” – until the moment that he begins to feel stabbing pains between the shoulder-blades.

49. The X-factor will be won by an entity with no discernible talent. (OK – that was an easy one!)

50. The skids will be bolted under the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Greece points the way.

Many have said that the defining photograph of 2011 was taken earlier this year, somewhere in or near Tahrir Square.  I disagree.

For me it is this image .

It represents the normally stoic Greeks shouting “Enough!” and trailblazing in a way which points to the inevitable and  over-postponed conclusion to the fast-failing Euro adventure.

Eventually, while the politicians and bankers play their increasingly convoluted monetary games,  the people WILL have their say.

Happy Christmas.

John Terry – white c***

Apologies if you find what I’ve written below offensive but I find both racism and moronic soccer players offensive.

John Terry allegedly called Anton Ferdinand, brother of Rio Ferdinand who replaced Terry as England captain, after Terry been shagging someone’s wife, a  “fucking b***k cunt”.

Of course, Terry claims that he has never aimed a racist remark at any b***k cunt but nevertheless still finds himself in deep water.

However, if he finds himself in real trouble, perhaps he can ask Wayne Bridge for a character reference.

The alleged phrase which Terry aimed at Ferdinand has only one unacceptable word (B***K).

Neither Anton nor Rio appear to object to the other two words used by Terry, possibly on the grounds of accuracy.

Bizarrely, had he omitted the colour reference, Terry would probably be in the clear and the whole episode would have been considered no more than  normal footballer banter – even though the phrase would have blown at least 25% of Terry’s vocabulary in one instant.

Furthermore, on consulting the Dulux colour chart, it seems that Terry’s assertion was chromatologically inaccurate anyway!

Hopefully, if found guilty, Terry will be stripped of both captaincies and sentenced to several days in a sun-bed.

Kim Jong Ill-judged?

Kim Jong Il’s death in North Korea will inevitably shift the focus of Western disdain to his son and president “elect”,  Kim Jong Un. Here in the West, his PR will very soon become as colourfully sneering as that enjoyed by his dead father.

Through no fault of ours, we have never really understood either the dead dictator or his people but, the North Korean cult of uber hero-worship appears to be so infused into Korean Society as to look totally genuine.

To us, Kim Jong with his bouffant hair and pigeon posture was a comedy figure but to his people, he was a god.  Did EVERYONE really love and revere him? Was he REALLY, like the Catholic Pope Ratz – an infallible near-deity?

We may well have  mocked the small man with the big ego whose pronouncements were sacrosanct  – but was he really any different to the Man from the Vatican with his pointy hat, red slippers and gold dresses? Was he any more ridiculous or ridiculed? Was he any less dangerous?

At least he didn’t claim to have a hotline to God or to perform miracles or accept the ramblings of the feeble-minded who believed that by simply being touched , they had been cured.

We would argue that you cannot fool ALL of the people ALL of the time but the fact remains that we do all need our heroes and the North Koreans’  hero was their leader.

Some may say that he was a “manufactured” hero – but doesn’t that apply to MOST heroes? Our own heroes are sportspeople and singers – in fact anyone who can have the word “celebrity” appended – no matter how tentatively.

Kim Jong was a political and spiritual celebrity. He gave his people focus.

OK,  so he had bought into his own image and had travelled the well-worn celebrity route of believing his own publicity but so what?

Was the publicity of his making?

The sad fact is that he presided over a beaten-down, brainwashed nation where dissent results in Stalinist-type reprisals. The Gulag Culture is alive and well.

Perhaps the comparison with the Vatican was NOT altogether fair. After all , the Vatican does not have Nuclear weapons. North Korea is now a potentially unstable country with REAL weapons of mass destruction and the ability to deliver them. Even its neighbour China will be hoping that the North Korean Generals can return their country to comatose and malnourished stability as soon as possible.

There has always been some suspicion that Kim Jong Il’s personality cult was mere window dressing for a sinister totalitarian military administration – just as Iran’s Ahmandinejad is the fluff and window-dressing for spiritually malevolent turbaned puppet masters of his own.

Today, there was footage of North Koreans wailing in their “grief” for their lost leader. Two things were very striking – there were no real tears and every single frame contained at least two military people in uniform, apparently standing about to ensure acceptably adequate grief.

Here’s a fine example of Korean “sincero-grieving” as practiced by the Korean Central News Agency:

Pyongyang, December 19 (KCNA) — Leader Kim Jong Il, the great father of the Korean people, passed away too suddenly.

The DPRK is overcome with bitter sorrow at the demise of the father of the nation who had energetically worked day and night for prosperity of the socialist homeland and the happiness of people all his life.

Its army and people’s loyalty and sense of obligation to him are now growing higher than ever before.

They are resolutely rising up to change their sorrow into great strength and courage with the noble sense of moral obligation and immovable faith and will to hold Kim Jong Il in high esteem forever and glorify his feats for all ages.

The hearts of all servicepersons and people are replete with the pledge to hold in high esteem the great Kim Jong Il forever and make neither concession nor delay on the road of the Juche revolution, the Songun revolution true to his behests.

The Korean people have suffered the great loss but are decisively rising up as they have Kim Jong Un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche and prominent leader of the party and the army and people of the DPRK who is standing in the van of the Korean revolution.

He is another great person produced by Korea who is identical to Kim Jong Il.

Quote Source: Korean Central News Agency:

Forget Exercise.

Has there ever been a less edifying sight than that of  a purple-faced executive in over-tight shorts and headband staggering around a squash court – pausing only to puke and get his pulse rate back to below 200? Well the good news is that scientists have shown that exercise can be a health risk to the middle-aged. Something that I have suspected for a very long time.

I have always argued that super-fitness is a very unnatural state. It is not 45bbp super-active athletes who enjoy the highest life expectancy – but the super-sedentary classical musicians. They spend a large part of their lives sitting on their backsides either blowing into something or moving one arm in a sawing motion over a piece of wood. Their only real exercise is when the lean forward to turn a sheet of music. They do not spend their time pressing weights, running round a track, drinking foul-tasting energy drinks, shooting-up anabolic steroids and throwing-up. That’s why they live longer.

Cartilage damage, pulled muscles, osteoarthritis, clapped-out knees and ligament damage are far less preferable than sitting –  the highest risk of injury being the occasional paper cut on a sheet of music.

Ask yourself – what would you rather do? Sit in a warm room, scratch away at fiddle, blow a cor anglais or would you rather put on a pair of rancid trainers, run ten miles before a breakfast and return to a glass of water, a puke and a Ryvita?

It’s good to see the scientists get it right for once.

There may be trouble ahead….

In my predictions for 2011, I suggested riots and civil unrest. Many said that I was being too pessimistic but Italy, Greece , Portugal and the United Kingdom have clearly shown that civil dissidence is on the increase. Tents may be pulled down, arrests can be made  and demonstrators dismissed as “trouble makers” but the mind-set cannot be destroyed – just look at the current goings-on in Egypt.  Potentially 2012 could become the MOST crucially important year in world history. It could be THE year of change but also the year of homelessness, poverty, hunger, civil unrest, violence, crime and martial law .

THAT’S where both Europe and the United States of America are  currently headed, unless the politicians act NOW.

Both the unemployed as well as the  overstretched taxpayers will join forces and destroy governments during 2012. It is not something that anyone really wants to either think or talk about  but the sad fact is that ALL the components for a nightmare scenario are already in place with citizens EVERYWHERE moving towards a militant mindset. Politicians would do well to take note.

Meanwhile in Europe, politicians within the Eurozone are once again sitting back and observing the Greek, Italian and Spanish regime changes, in the vain hope that a simple change of administration will somehow have an effect on tumbling markets and crumbling economies.  The Americans appear to be in denial as well as out of leadership and ideas.

The only possible explanation for the politicians’ intransigence is that there has already been an acceptance of catastrophe and that the only device remaining is damage limitation after the event.

October 2011 Eurozone Output

This is what they said:

1. Over the last three years, we have taken unprecedented steps to combat the effects of the world-wide financial crisis, both in the European Union as such and within the euro area. The strategy we have put into place encompasses determined efforts to ensure fiscal consolidation, support to countries in difficulty, and a strengthening of euro area governance leading to deeper economic integration among us and an ambitious agenda for growth. At our 21 July meeting we took a set of major decisions. The ratification by all 17 Member States of the euro area of the measures related to the EFSF significantly strengthens our capacity to react to the crisis. Agreement by all three institutions on a strong legislative package within the EU structures on better economic governance represents another major achievement. The introduction of the European Semester has fundamentally changed the way our fiscal and economic policies are co-ordinated at European level, with co- ordination at EU level now taking place before national decisions are taken. The euro continues to rest on solid fundamentals.

2. Further action is needed to restore confidence. That is why today we agree on a comprehensive set of additional measures reflecting our strong determination to do whatever is required to overcome the present difficulties and take the necessary steps for the completion of our economic and monetary union. We fully support the ECB in its action to maintain price stability in the euro area. Sustainable public finances and structural reforms for growth

3. The European Union must improve its growth and employment outlook, as outlined in the growth agenda agreed by the European Council on 23 October 2011. We reiterate our full commitment to implement the country specific recommendations made under the first European Semester and on focusing public spending on growth areas.

4. All Member States of the euro area are fully determined to continue their policy of fiscal consolidation and structural reforms. A particular effort will be required of those Member States who are experiencing tensions in sovereign debt markets.

5. We welcome the important steps taken by Spain to reduce its budget deficit, restructure its banking sector and reform product and labour markets, as well as the adoption of a constitutional balanced budget amendment. Strictly implementing budgetary adjustment as planned is key, including at regional level, to fulfil the commitments of the stability and growth Pact and the strengthening of the fiscal framework by developing lower level legislation to make the constitutional amendment fully operative. Further action is needed to increase growth so as to reduce the unacceptable high level of unemployment. Actions should include enhancing labour market changes to increase flexibility at firm level and employability of the labour force and other reforms to improve competitiveness, specially extending the reforms in the service sector.

6. We welcome Italy’s plans for growth enhancing structural reforms and the fiscal consolidation strategy, as set out in the letter sent to the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission and call on Italy to present as a matter of urgency an ambitious timetable for these reforms. We commend Italy’s commitment to achieve a balanced budget by 2013 and a structural budget surplus in 2014, bringing about a reduction in gross government debt to 113% of GDP in 2014, as well as the foreseen introduction of a balanced budget rule in the constitution by mid 2012. Italy will now implement the proposed structural reforms to increase competitiveness by cutting red tape, abolishing minimum tariffs in professional services and further liberalising local public services and utilities. We note Italy’s commitment to reform labour legislation and in particular the dismissal rules and procedures and to review the currently fragmented unemployment benefit system by the end of 2011, taking into account the budgetary constraints. We take note of the plan to increase the retirement age to 67 years by 2026 and recommend the definition by the end of the year of the process to achieve this objective.

We support Italy’s intention to review structural funds programs by reprioritising projects and focussing on education, employment, digital agenda and railways/networks with the aim of improving the conditions to enhance growth and tackle the regional divide. We invite the Commission to provide a detailed assessment of the measures and to monitor their implementation, and the Italian authorities to provide in a timely way all the information necessary for such an assessment. Countries under adjustment programme

7. We reiterate our determination to continue providing support to all countries under programmes until they have regained market access, provided they fully implement those programmes.

8. Concerning the programme countries, we are pleased with the progress made by Ireland in the full implementation of its adjustment programme which is delivering positive results.Portugal is also making good progress with its programme and is determined to continue undertaking measures to underpin fiscal sustainability and improve competitiveness. We invite both countries to keep up their efforts, to stick to the agreed targets and stand ready to take any additional measure required to reach those targets.

9. We welcome the decision by the Eurogroup on the disbursement of the 6th tranche of the EUIMF support programme for Greece. We look forward to the conclusion of a sustainable and credible new EU-IMF multiannual programme by the end of the year.

10. The mechanisms for the monitoring of implementation of the Greek programme must be strengthened, as requested by the Greek government. The ownership of the programme is Greek and its implementation is the responsibility of the Greek authorities. In the context of the new programme, the Commission, in cooperation with the other Troika partners, will establish for the duration of the programme a monitoring capacity on the ground, including with the involvement of national experts, to work in close and continuous cooperation with the Greek government and the Troika to advise and offer assistance in order to ensure the timely and full implementation of the reforms. It will assist the Troika in assessing the conformity of measures which will be taken by the Greek government within the commitments of the programme. This new role will be laid down in the Memorandum of Understanding. To facilitate the efficient use of the sizeable official loans for the recapitalization of Greek banks, the governance of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) will be strengthened in agreement with the Greek government and the Troika.

11. We fully support the Task Force on technical assistance set up by the Commission.

12. The Private Sector Involvement (PSI) has a vital role in establishing the sustainability of the Greek debt. Therefore we welcome the current discussion between Greece and its private investors to find a solution for a deeper PSI. Together with an ambitious reform programme for the Greek economy, the PSI should secure the decline of the Greek debt to GDP ratio with an objective of reaching 120% by 2020. To this end we invite Greece, private investors and all parties concerned to develop a voluntary bond exchange with a nominal discount of 50% on notional Greek debt held by private investors. The Euro zone Member States would contribute to the PSI package up to 30 bn euro. On that basis, the official sector stands ready to provide additional programme financing of up to 100 bn euro until 2014, including the required recapitalisation of Greek banks. The new programme should be agreed by the end of 2011 and the exchange of bonds should be implemented at the beginning of 2012. We call on the IMF to continue to contribute to the financing of the new Greek programme.

13. Greece commits future cash flows from project Helios or other privatisation revenue in excess of those already included in the adjustment programme to further reduce indebtedness of the Hellenic Republic by up to 15 billion euros with the aim of restoring the lending capacity of the EFSF.

14. Credit enhancement will be provided to underpin the quality of collateral so as to allow its continued use for access to Eurosystem liquidity operations by Greek banks.

15. As far as our general approach to private sector involvement in the euro area is concerned, we reiterate our decision taken on 21 July 2011 that Greece requires an exceptional and unique solution.

16. All other euro area Member States solemnly reaffirm their inflexible determination to honour fully their own individual sovereign signature and all their commitments to sustainable fiscal conditions and structural reforms. The euro area Heads of State or Government fully support this determination as the credibility of all their sovereign signatures is a decisive element for ensuring financial stability in the euro area as a whole. Stabilisation mechanisms

17. The ratification process of the revised EFSF has now been completed in all euro area Member States and the Eurogroup has agreed on the implementing guidelines on primary and secondary market interventions, precautionary arrangements and bank recapitalisation. The decisions we took concerning the EFSF on 21 July are thus fully operational. All tools available will be used in an effective way to ensure financial stability in the euro area. As stated in the implementing guidelines, strict conditionality will apply in case of new (precautionary) programmes in line with IMF practices. The Commission will carry out enhanced surveillance of the Member States concerned and report regularly to the Eurogroup.

18. We agree that the capacity of the extended EFSF shall be used with a view to maximizing the available resources in the following framework: • the objective is to support market access for euro area Member States faced with market pressures and to ensure the proper functioning of the euro area sovereign debt market, while fully preserving the high credit standing of the EFSF. These measures are needed to ensure financial stability and provide sufficient ringfencing to fight contagion; • this will be done without extending the guarantees underpinning the facility and within the rules of the Treaty and the terms and conditions of the current framework agreement, operating in the context of the agreed instruments, and entailing appropriate conditionality and surveillance.

19. We agree on two basic options to leverage the resources of the EFSF: • providing credit enhancement to new debt issued by Member States, thus reducing the funding cost. Purchasing this risk insurance would be offered to private investors as an option when buying bonds in the primary market; • maximising the funding arrangements of the EFSF with a combination of resources from private and public financial institutions and investors, which can be arranged through Special Purpose Vehicles. This will enlarge the amount of resources available to extend loans, for bank recapitalization and for buying bonds in the primary and secondary markets.

20. The EFSF will have the flexibility to use these two options simultaneously, deploying them depending on the specific objective pursued and on market circumstances. The leverage effect of each option will vary, depending on their specific features and market conditions, but could be up to four or five.

21. We call on the Eurogroup to finalise the terms and conditions for the implementation of these modalities in November, in the form of guidelines and in line with the draft terms and conditions prepared by the EFSF.

22. In addition, further enhancement of the EFSF resources can be achieved by cooperating even more closely with the IMF. The Eurogroup, the Commission and the EFSF will work on all possible options. Banking system

23. We welcome the agreement reached today by the members of the European Council on bank recapitalisation and funding (see Annex 2). Economic and fiscal coordination and surveillance

24. The legislative package on economic governance strengthens economic and fiscal policy coordination and surveillance. After it enters into force in January 2012 it will be strictly implemented as part of the European Semester. We call for rigorous surveillance by the Commission and the Council, including through peer pressure, and the active use of the existing and new instruments available. We also recall our commitments made in the framework of the Euro Plus Pact.

25. Being part of a monetary union has far reaching implications and implies a much closer coordination and surveillance to ensure stability and sustainability of the whole area. The current crisis shows the need to address this much more effectively. Therefore, while strengthening our crisis tools within the euro area, we will make further progress in integrating economic and fiscal policies by reinforcing coordination, surveillance and discipline. We will develop the necessary policies to support the functioning of the single currency area.

26. More specifically, building on the legislative package just adopted, the European Semester and the Euro Plus Pact, we commit to implement the following additional measures at the national level:

a. adoption by each euro area Member State of rules on balanced budget in structural terms translating the Stability and Growth Pact into national legislation, preferably at constitutional level or equivalent, by the end of 2012;

b. reinforcement of national fiscal frameworks beyond the Directive on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the Member States. In particular, national budgets should be based on independent growth forecasts;

c. invitation to national parliaments to take into account recommendations adopted at the EU level on the conduct of economic and budgetary policies;

d. consultation of the Commission and other euro area Member States before the adoption of any major fiscal or economic policy reform plans with potential spillover effects, so as to give the possibility for an assessment of possible impact for the euro area as a whole;

e. commitment to stick to the recommendations of the Commission and the relevant Commissioner regarding the implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact.

27. We also agree that closer monitoring and additional enforcement are warranted along the following lines:

a. for euro area Member States in excessive deficit procedure, the Commission and the Council will be enabled to examine national draft budgets and adopt an opinion on them before their adoption by the relevant national parliaments. In addition, the Commission will monitor budget execution and, if necessary, suggest amendments in the course of the year;

b. in the case of slippages of an adjustment programme closer monitoring and coordination of programme implementation will take place.

28. We look forward to the Commission’s forthcoming proposal on closer monitoring to the Council and the European Parliament under Article 136 of the TFEU. In this context, we welcome the intention of the Commission to strengthen, in the Commission, the role of the competent Commissioner for closer monitoring and additional enforcement.

29. We will further strengthen the economic pillar of the Economic and Monetary Union and better coordinate macro- and micro-economic policies. Building on the Euro Plus Pact, we will improve competitiveness, thereby achieving further convergence of policies to promote growth and employment. Pragmatic coordination of tax policies in the euro area is a necessary element of stronger economic policy coordination to support fiscal consolidation and economic growth. Legislative work on the Commission proposals for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base and for a Financial Transaction Tax is ongoing. Governance structure of the euro area

30. To deal more effectively with the challenges at hand and ensure closer integration, the governance structure for the euro area will be strengthened, while preserving the integrity of the European Union as a whole.

31. We will thus meet regularly – at least twice a year- at our level, in Euro Summits, to provide strategic orientations on the economic and fiscal policies in the euro area. This will allow to better take into account the euro area dimension in our domestic policies.

32. The Eurogroup will, together with the Commission and the ECB, remain at the core of the daily management of the euro area. It will play a central role in the implementation by the euro area Member States of the European Semester. It will rely on a stronger preparatory structure.

33. More detailed arrangements are presented in Annex 1 to this paper. Further integration

34. The euro is at the core of our European project. We will strengthen the economic union to make it commensurate with the monetary union.

35. We ask the President of the European Council, in close collaboration with the President of the Commission and the President of the Eurogroup, to identify possible steps to reach this end. The focus will be on further strengthening economic convergence within the euro area, improving fiscal discipline and deepening economic union, including exploring the possibility of limited Treaty changes. An interim report will be presented in December 2011 so as to agree on first orientations. It will include a roadmap on how to proceed in full respect of the prerogatives of the institutions. A report on how to implement the agreed measures will be finalised by March 2012.

Annex 1

Ten measures to improve the governance of the euro area There is a need to strengthen economic policy coordination and surveillance within the euro area, to improve the effectiveness of decision making and to ensure more consistent communication. To this end, the following ten measures will be taken, while fully respecting the integrity of the EU as a whole:

1. There will be regular Euro Summit meetings bringing together the Heads of State or government (HoSG) of the euro area and the President of the Commission. These meetings will take place at least twice a year, at key moments of the annual economic governance circle; they will if possible take place after European Council meetings. Additional meetings can be called by the President of the Euro Summit if necessary. Euro Summits will define strategic orientations for the conduct of economic policies and for improved competitiveness and increased convergence in the euro area. The President of the Euro Summit will ensure the preparation of the Euro Summit, in close cooperation with the President of the Commission.

2. The President of the Euro Summit will be designated by the HoSG of the euro area at the same time the European Council elects its President and for the same term of office. Pending the next such election, the current President of the European Council will chair the Euro Summit meetings.

3. The President of the Euro Summit will keep the non euro area Member States closely informed of the preparation and outcome of the Summits. The President will also inform the European Parliament of the outcome of the Euro Summits.

4. As is presently the case, the Eurogroup will ensure ever closer coordination of the economic policies and promoting financial stability. Whilst respecting the powers of the EU institutions in that respect, it promotes strengthened surveillance of Member States’ economic and fiscal policies as far as the euro area is concerned. It will also prepare the Euro Summit meetings and ensure their follow up.

5. The President of the Eurogroup is elected in line with Protocol n°14 annexed to the Treaties. A decision on whether he/she should be elected among Members of the Eurogroup or be a full-time President based in Brussels will be taken at the time of the expiry of the mandate of the current incumbent. The President of the Euro Summit will be consulted on the Eurogroup work plan and may invite the President of the Eurogroup to convene a meeting of the Eurogroup, notably to prepare Euro Summits or to follow up on its orientations. Clear lines of responsibility and reporting between the Euro Summit, the Eurogroup and the preparatory bodies will be established.

6. The President of the Euro Summit, the President of the Commission and the President of the Eurogroup will meet regularly, at least once a month. The President of the ECB may be invited to participate. The Presidents of the supervisory agencies and the EFSF CEO / ESM Managing Director may be invited on an ad hoc basis.

7. Work at the preparatory level will continue to be carried out by the Eurogroup Working Group (EWG), drawing on expertise provided by the Commission. The EWG also prepares Eurogroup meetings. It should benefit from a more permanent sub-group consisting of alternates/officials representative of the Finance Ministers, meeting more frequently, working under the authority of the President of the EWG.

8. The EWG will be chaired by a full-time Brussels-based President. In principle, he/she will be elected at the same time as the chair of the Economic and Financial Committee.

9. The existing administrative structures (i.e. the Council General Secretariat and the EFC Secretariat) will be strengthened and co-operate in a well coordinated way to provide adequate support to the Euro Summit President and the President of the Eurogroup, under the guidance of the President of the EFC/EWG. External expertise will be drawn upon as appropriate, on an ad hoc basis.

10. Clear rules and mechanisms will be set up to improve communication and ensure more consistent messages. The President of the Euro Summit and the President of the Eurogroup shall have a special responsibility in this respect. The President of the Euro Summit together with the President of the Commission shall be responsible for communicating the decisions of the Euro Summit and the President of the Eurogroup together with the ECFIN Commissioner shall be responsible for communicating the decisions of the Eurogroup.

Annex 2

Consensus on banking package

1. Measures for restoring confidence in the banking sector (banking package) are urgently needed and are necessary in the context of strengthening prudential control of the EU banking sector. These measures should address: a. The need to ensure the medium-term funding of banks, in order to avoid a credit crunch and to safeguard the flow of credit to the real economy, and to coordinate measures to achieve this. b. The need to enhance the quality and quantity of capital of banks to withstand shocks and to demonstrate this enhancement in a reliable and harmonised way.

Term funding

2. Guarantees on bank liabilities would be required to provide more direct support for banks in accessing term funding (short- term funding being available at the ECB and relevant national central banks), where appropriate. This is also an essential part of the strategy to limit deleveraging actions.

3. A simple repetition of the 2008 experience with full national discretion in the setting-up of liquidity schemes may not provide a satisfactory solution under current market conditions. Therefore a truly coordinated approach at EU-level is needed regarding entry criteria, pricing and conditions. The Commission should urgently explore together with the EBA, EIB, ECB the options for achieving this objective and report to the EFC.

Capitalisation of banks

4. Capital target: There is broad agreement on requiring a significantly higher capital ratio of 9 % of the highest quality capital and after accounting for market valuation of sovereign debt exposures, both as of 30 September 2011, to create a temporary buffer, which is justified by the exceptional circumstances. This quantitative capital target will have to be attained by 30 June 2012, based on plans agreed with national supervisors and coordinated by EBA. This prudent valuation would not affect the relevant financial reporting rules. National supervisory authorities, under the auspices of the EBA, must ensure that banks’ plans to strengthen capital do not lead to excessive deleveraging, including maintaining the credit flow to the real economy and taking into account current exposure levels of the group including their subsidiaries in all Member States, cognisant of the need to avoid undue pressure on credit extension in host countries or on sovereign debt markets.

5. Financing of capital increase: Banks should first use private sources of capital, including through restructuring and conversion of debt to equity instruments. Banks should be subject to constraints regarding the distribution of dividends and bonus payments until the target has been attained. If necessary, national governments should provide support , and if this support is not available, recapitalisation should be funded via a loan from the EFSF in the case of Eurozone countries. State Aid

6. Any form of public support, whether at a national or EU-level, will be subject to the conditionality of the current special state aid crisis framework, which the Commission has indicated will be applied with the necessary proportionality in view of the systemic character of the crisis

Gaddafi dead? Or Alive?

We don’t need any more sanctimoniously hypocritical nonsense about whether or not Gaddafi was “murdered in cold blood” or whatever….

Admittedly, because Gaddafi was not taken alive, the legal profession has missed-out on yet another Lawyer Bonanza – this one would have lasted YEARS. So perhaps a gunshot to the head was the best way to have dealt with old Muammar.

The fact is that when, on August 24th 2011, a Benghazi businessman offered a reward of £1 million for Gaddafi “dead or alive”, there was little chance of the Old Dictator ever having an Idi Amin-type retirement in Saudi.

I remember thinking at the time of the reward announcement, that it was a tad undignified and not very statesmanlike of  Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Chairman of the National Transition Council of Libya, to endorse the reward for Gaddafi’s head. Especially as Jalil used to be  Libya’s Minister of Justice.

Mind you, Jalil had been the very first senior Libyan politician to resign from Gaddafi’s gang  (February 2011). That resulted in The Gaddafi regime offering a bounty of  $400,000, for his capture.

Two days before supporting  the  “dead or alive” approach to Gaddafi, Jalil had said that people must “not take justice into their own hands”. He had also said that he hoped the dictator would be “captured alive.”

THAT will be Jalil’s big problem – how to prevent Libyan citizens from taking justice into their own hands.

Most will be pretty neutral on the “Democracy – no Democracy issue”. What they really want are the trappings of Western-style affluence.

So, once the big guns have been unbolted from the Toyota pickups and the AK47s handed-in and all 150 Libyan tribes decided to live in harmony – all will be well.

Otherwise, there will be a quite sudden slide into Iraq-type chaos as fundamentalists  in oversized vests start going “boom” in crowded places.

(Looks as if Libya is about to receive its very first lesson in Western-style Democracy. The United Nations Human Rights office has called for an  “full investigation”  into Gaddafi’s death. Their very first Inquiry! Witnesses, statements, cross-examinations……..not a bad consolation prize for the Lawyers!)

Eurozone decision-makers.

You know when an organisation, government or even a collection of governments is in trouble. The directors, senior management – the  leaders –  instead of  thinking strategically, concern themselves with day-to-day  issues.

Some call it Crisis Management.

That’s  exactly the zone in which  Eurozone politicians are currently operating.

I share the frustration of many others who have been watching the painfully slow process that Eurozone leaders have embarked upon in respect of the  terrible and complex financial mess which currently envelopes Europe. In spite of their rank, it would seem that many high-level politicians are incapable of reaching decisions within  an appropriate time-scale. Hence the sudden appearance of the ” kicking the can along the road“, ” into the long grass” and the other modern economic metaphors.

We are all frustrated.

The decision-making processes at National  and pan-National level are based on the depersonalised mechanistic value system of bureaucracy-based thinking.

However, we live in a very turbulent environment in which many activities – especially those affecting economies have become both differentiated as well as interdependent. In addition, there has been a  subtle change in organisational values which have become more based on humanistic-democratic ideals.

Political decision-making is now lagging behind and, under the guise of  “democracy”, refuses to become more adaptive and integrated in order to meet the rapidly changing economic and political environments which, from now on, will remain in a constant state of flux.

To put it simply – by the time politicians have provided a solution to a problem, they have been overtaken by the next issue which makes their initial solution redundant.

Decision-making groups should be thinking along organic rather than  mechanical lines and leadership and influence should fall to those who seem most able to solve the problems rather than to pre-programmed role expectations – especially those tainted by various flavours of political dogma.

We need adaptive temporary systems of diverse specialists, co-ordinated through say, non-political civil service link-pins to replace the current theory and practice of political bureaucracy.

Imagine, say our current economic issues being solved by individuals who are differentiated not according to rank or role but according to skills.

Certainly NOT politicians.

Currently, the same politicians who decide  how often our bins are emptied  or the number of hospital beds, are the same ones who make multi-billion economic decisions.

So, hopefully someone somewhere will have the will and the strength to realise that our present decision-making processes at “Macro (international) level” are outdated and ineffective.

The future is with more “Organic-adaptive” structures.

In addition, a combination of centralised and decentralised control mechanisms needs to be adopted – control mechanisms which recognise that , for instance, the various Euro states are significantly different from each other and therefore require different methods of both management and control.

Half-hearted attempts at control such as the largely discredited occasional bank stress-tests or toothless financial “authorities” are just that – cosmetic attempts.

The  solution to the flaky political decision-making process is not intellectual – it is organisational.

Publishing Crushed Nuts

“Crushed Nuts on the Cote d’Azur” is published on Amazon and on several other sites and is doing very well thank you – but it has been a long road to publishing.

I have been writing commercially for many years and have had articles, training material and a ton of other stuff published and been paid for it.

However, publishing a novel, as many of you who are reading this know, is nigh-on impossible. Unless you are extremely lucky, a “celebrity”  or have achieved some sort of notoriety, the chances of an agent or a publisher taking you on are near-zero.

As someone who is used to writing a few thousand words and then being paid, imagine how difficult it was to start receiving enough standard rejection letters to wallpaper an average four-bedroom house.

Then, several months ago, I was shocked to receive a letter from a Brighton publisher who LIKED my book. I had done the usual “Synopsis, a few sample chapters and letter” and probably like you, had grown used to the sight of my own envelope (the one with the fold across the middle) containing the unread script with the standard bland agent or publisher letter hitting the doormat.

This time it was different! I had been asked for the whole script!!!

To cut a long story short I delivered the script by hand and was told that they would be in touch in a few DAYS!!

An envelope arrived three days later. Contract? Advance? I was already imagining the Booker speech!!!

Alas, it was a letter enclosing a glossy brochure. Apparently, the publisher had several publishing “plans”. Plan A was very straightforward and consisted of the publisher picking up all the costs. I read on.

The publisher LIKED my novel but would like me to contribute over £10,000 towards the “printing costs etc”.  For that I would even receive a load of beautifully-bound copies of my novel for distribution to “friends and family”.

My Nuts were Crushed!

That was my “road to Damascus” moment. No more letters or calls to posh breathy women agents who “used to work for a major publisher”, no more rejection slips and no more damaged ego.

As someone who understands a bit about marketing and PR with a wife who used to be in direct marketing, we decided “Fuck the lot of them!”.

They won’t be around in a few years anyway and had I REALLY contemplated giving away a percentage in “commission”?

I knew that about HALF of the book market is now in electronic form so Amazon was the obvious way to go.

We had the book uploaded and selling on Amazon within half a day. The BIG lesson that I have learned since Day 1 is that price DOES matter and that the name of the game, if you are an unpublished unknown, is to get your name out there. Use the first two or three novels for the initial marketing but make it as easy and painless for your future fans  to download your book onto their kindle, iPad or PC.

Keep the price below ONE POUND!

Yes, I know that 100,000 words of hard slog seems very cheap but in business (that IS what you are entering!), you have a simple choice:

Low turnover with high profit OR, high turnover and low profit. Electronic publishing is a major opportunity for the latter!! Forget the agents! If your book is good enough, it WILL be picked up by a publisher.

The book “Crushed Nuts on the Cote d’Azur” IS semi-autobiographical and is based in the South of France where I lived for many years. (Photo above is me and  my son in the 1980s in Port Vauban (Antibes) before all the Russian gin palaces arrived).

The germ of any idea for a novel is somewhere in YOUR experiences. I had some fantastic times in the Med and met interesting people such as David Niven , Henry Kissinger, Roger Moore, Michael Caine  and many other celebs.

We went to the Cannes Film festival EVERY year and I used to see the Monaco Grand Prix from the aft-deck of someone’s (anyone’s) yacht. I knew which yachts were owned by the Mafia and which French customs officers were corrupt.

I was offered a job by Brigitte Bardot’s husband and was asked by a well-known British barrister if he could watch me screwing his girlfriend.  I spent a couple of years living on a yacht and worked undercover for a well-known insurance company which insures expensive yachts and ships. At some stage  these experiences ( and many others) will become mutated and appear in subsequent work.

Believe it or not, during those days, I had a proper job and a family!

You may be a  writer who has not had  the opportunity to experience and “touch” life in such a direct way. That does NOT mean that you do not have something GREAT to say. Your sources may be less glamorous and you may consider them mundane but if you are what I call a “looker” – an observer – it does NOT matter.

I ALWAYS carry either a Moleskine or CIAK notebook and continue to be obsessive about noting down phrases I hear or weird things which I see.  It’s almost a curse.

The only practical piece of advice which I shall pass on to you is to be humble enough to accept advice and criticism and don’t be “precious” about your work.

Once you have been paid for something, it doesn’t matter WHAT a sub-editor or editor does to it!

Good Luck.

“Crushed Nuts on the Cote d’Azur” is HERE.

Dans la merde or in der Scheiße?

Good to see Italy and Greece on top.

I just have a look at the European stock markets and on the surface everything appears to be quite normal.

The banks are doing especially well!

Today’s showing in the markets is the most clear indicator so far, as to the utter confusion generated by the intransigence and incompetence of senior politicians.

Today President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel are involved in pointless discussions with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. Why pointless? Because they probably all began their telephone conference chat with this afternoon’s communique already written.

Chancellor Merkel has expressed the schizophrenic views of the Eurozone. She has stated that the Eurozone will not allow Greece to default but on the other hand Greece will not secure access to the next 8 billion euro bailout unless new budget cuts are made.

Greece will be running out of cash in about three weeks.

Everyone, understandably, is beginning to feel frustrated and impotent at the pace of the so-called rescue package.

If the Eurozone is serious about the Greek bailout, the cash should be handed over today. That more than anything will placate the markets which must by now be feeling as if they’re on a bad acid trip. The current situation is certainly a candidate for the old 1960s hippie slogan ‘Stamp out reality’.

In reality though, the politicians will wish to leave all options on the table rather than make a move which could be catastrophic. The fact is that whichever move they make, there is bound to be either a national catastrophe or a pan-European catastrophe. More likely both.

That in turn will generate an American catastrophe ; the U.S has been teetering on the edge for many months.

There is only so much time that we can all just stand staring into the abyss.

Currently we are all keeping an eye on Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve, because we fully expect them to start printing money at any minute.

In fact we should be looking at the French because it cannot be too long before they make a similar decision – and they will probably ink their printing presses well ahead of the Americans.

If the French go ahead and print money in order to provide a cushion for the French banks against a Greek default and the Greek default overhead anyway, it will be the equivalent of them having unnecessarily dumped billions of euros.

Unfortunately, that’s the ONLY plan which the French government has.

Today, the United Kingdom has announced another 80,000 unemployed between May and July. That is NOT the sign of an economy in recovery. THAT is the sign of an economy still in recession. The official unemployment figure in now in excess of 2.5 million. In fact, the actual number has probably been in excess of 3 million for quite a while.

In recent months there has been a bit of Schadenfreude-induced gloating from the United Kingdom’s senior politicians and commentators in respect of the Eurozone’s woes. That will stop very soon –  as our meagre exports dry up because no-one in Europe has the cash to pay for them.

It is not just the Eurozone which is crumbling, it is EUROPE.

It is NOT just the European Economic Class System which is going to be everyone’s downfall. It is  NOT because the “HAVES” dictating to the “HAVE-NOTS”.

On a macro level, the vast socio-economic differences within the Eurozone do no more than reflect socio-economic differences within individual states.

They tried an experiment whereby the poor (countries) were expected to compete with the rich and as we should all know by now, this type of  “Faux cross-border Socialism” can never work.

There can always be “liberté” and “fraternité” between such disparate  states but there can never ever be anything even vaguely resembling “égalité” between the rich and the poor.

In the Eurozone, some are definitely more “égal” than others.

Currently, the more equal are terrified that the less equal will take them down.

(Personally, I believe that Greece will be allowed to default. Glad I kept those Drachmas!)

Casino Economics

After three years, the scales have fallen from our eyes and finally, the light has flooded in.  It has been long time coming but suddenly – an Epiphany!

The politicians,  bankers, economists and even the Central Bank astrologers have absolutely NO IDEA as to how to deal with the gradually building waves of a massive economic crisis which is about to sweep the world. They’ve been gambling that  random fiscal and economic measures would somehow provide a solution and make everything well again!

Money has been printed and distributed, bonds have been issued, promises have been made, false political visions have been shared and yet  the self-amplifying problem continues to self-amplify.

Some of us finally realised  that the Eurozone had run out of ideas when the German authorities temporarily banned “naked short selling” of Eurobonds. The action had absolutely NO effect. However,  it did demonstrate that the politicians (who initially blamed the bankers for the pit of shit that they had help to create) were now turning a rheumy eye on everyone’s new bête noire – the SPECULATORS!

Bankers were greedy bastards with large bonuses but now it was the turn of the “casino-banking” speculators. Spit!

In any crisis, it is always a good idea to look for the root or initial cause. In the case of the Euro and the Eurozone it was an ill-conceived plan which , without tighter integration of fiscal policies between states was doomed to failure.

Make no mistake, the increasingly pathetic bleating of the French and Germans in respect of the looming Greek collapse and default has absolutely NOTHING to do with Greece.

It is all about their joint delusive attempt  to prevent the inevitable collapse of their banks –  which are holding billions in Greek IOUs. Nothing at all to do with Franco-German altruism.

As the French and Germans intertwine, hug each other and panic, their assault on the “speculators”  and the markets , although understandable is also ironic.  Why? Because eventually, the Western-European begging bowl will be  waved at the markets and the “speculators” –  in the vain hope that they will lend the impoverished Eurozone BILLIONS so that the sacred Euro cow can be reprieved.

Biting the hand that could feed you is never a good plan but currently, the markets are dealing with increasingly desperate politicians who have painted themselves into a Euro corner with absolutely NO way out.

Euro and Western economies in general are in debt – both in the public and private sectors. Several countries are bankrupt.

The only REAL solution is GROWTH which unfortunately is NOT achieved by insisting that the weakest economies attempt to restore growth through the unusual and meritless medium of  The Austerity Plan.

Austerity gains you a lot of points with the rating agencies, makes it easier for you to borrow more but in the long-term, it is NOT a sustainable strategy –  as we  in the West are ALL about to discover. Overborrowing  is what caused the problem in the first place.

The economic affliction is the mire of public and private sector debt and uncompetitiveness into which  the weaker economies of southern Europe have sunk.

The cure should be to create an atmosphere for economic growth.

Unfortunately, the generally accepted (unproved but imposed) speculation  is to force broken countries to try and balance their budgets and restore economic growth whilst slashing expenditure and demotivating taxpayers through increased unemployment, inflation and the resultant decimation of tax-revenues.

It will NOT be long before the inevitable wake-up call is heard!

Casino economics does not work.

Bilderberg 2011

Wondering where real decisions are made? This is a list of attendees at this year’s Bilderberg Conference.

The conference is held annually with about 140 participants. This year the conference was on 11th June at the Suvretta hotel in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

If you scroll down the list, you will see familiar names. The Great Britain delegates’ list is particularly interesting. George Osborne was an attendee for a few years before he became Chancellor.

The list  is incomplete because certain delegates requested anonymity.

· Coene, Luc, Governor, National Bank of Belgium
· Davignon, Etienne, Minister of State
· Leysen, Thomas, Chairman, Umicore

· Fu, Ying, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
· Huang, Yiping, Professor of Economics, China Center for Economic Research, Peking University

· Eldrup, Anders, CEO, DONG Energy
· Federspiel, Ulrik, Vice President, Global Affairs, Haldor Topsøe A/S
· Schütze, Peter, Member of the Executive Management, Nordea Bank AB

· Ackermann, Josef, Chairman of the Management Board, Deutsche Bank
· Enders, Thomas, CEO, Airbus SAS
· Löscher, Peter, President and CEO, Siemens AG
· Nass, Matthias, Chief International Correspondent, Die Zeit
· Steinbrück, Peer, Member of the Bundestag; Former Minister of Finance

· Apunen, Matti, Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
· Johansson, Ole, Chairman, Confederation of the Finnish Industries EK
· Ollila, Jorma, Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell
· Pentikäinen, Mikael, Publisher and Senior Editor-in-Chief, Helsingin Sanomat

· Baverez, Nicolas, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
· Bazire, Nicolas, Managing Director, Groupe Arnault /LVMH
· Castries, Henri de, Chairman and CEO, AXA
· Lévy, Maurice, Chairman and CEO, Publicis Groupe S.A.
· Montbrial, Thierry de, President, French Institute for International Relations
· Roy, Olivier, Professor of Social and Political Theory, EUI

Great Britain
· Agius, Marcus, Chairman, Barclays PLC
· Flint, Douglas J., Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings
· Kerr, John, Member, House of Lords; Deputy Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell
· Lambert, Richard, Independent Non-Executive Director, Ernst & Young
· Mandelson, Peter, Member, House of Lords; Chairman, Global Counsel
· Micklethwait, John, Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
· Osborne, George, Chancellor of the Exchequer
· Stewart, Rory, Member of Parliament
· Taylor, J. Martin, Chairman, Syngenta International AG

· David, George A., Chairman, Coca-Cola H.B.C. S.A.
· Hardouvelis, Gikas A., Chief Economist, Eurobank EFG
· Papaconstantinou, George, Minister of Finance
· Tsoukalis, Loukas, President, ELIAMEP Grisons

International Organizations
· Almunia, Joaquín, Vice President, European Commission
· Daele, Frans van, Chief of Staff to the President of the European Council
· Kroes, Neelie, Vice President, European Commission
· Lamy, Pascal, Director General, World Trade Organization
· Rompuy, Herman van, President, European Council
· Sheeran, Josette, Executive Director, United Nations World Food Programme
· Solana Madariaga, Javier, President, ESADE
· Trichet, Jean-Claude, President, European Central Bank
· Zoellick, Robert B., President, The World Bank Group

· Gallagher, Paul, Senior Counsel; Former Attorney General
· McDowell, Michael, Senior Counsel, Law Library; Former Dep. P.M
· Sutherland, Peter D., Chairman, Goldman Sachs International

· Bernabè, Franco, CEO, Telecom Italia SpA
· Elkann, John, Chairman, Fiat S.p.A.
· Monti, Mario, President, Univers Commerciale Luigi Bocconi
· Scaroni, Paolo, CEO, Eni S.p.A.
· Tremonti, Giulio, Minister of Economy and Finance

· Carney, Mark J., Governor, Bank of Canada
· Clark, Edmund, President and CEO, TD Bank Financial Group
· McKenna, Frank, Deputy Chair, TD Bank Financial Group
· Orbinksi, James, Professor of Medicine and Political Science, University of Toronto
· Prichard, J. Robert S., Chair, Torys LLP
· Reisman, Heather, Chair and CEO, Brookings Institution

· Bolland, Marc J., Chief Executive, Marks and Spencer Group plc
· Chavannes, Marc E., Political Columnist,Professor of Journalism
· Halberstadt, Victor, Professor of Economics, Leiden University
· H.M. the Queen of the Netherlands
· Rosenthal, Uri, Minister of Foreign Affairs
· Winter, Jaap W., Partner, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek

· Myklebust, Egil, Former Chairman of the Board of Directors SAS
· H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway
· Ottersen, Ole Petter, Rector, University of Oslo
· Solberg, Erna, Leader of the Conservative Party

· Bronner, Oscar, CEO and Publisher, Standard Medien AG
· Faymann, Werner, Federal Chancellor
· Rothensteiner, Walter, Chairman of the Board, Raiffeisen Zentralbank
· Scholten, Rudolf,Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG

· Balsemão, Francisco Pinto, Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA, S.G.P.S.
· Ferreira Alves, Clara, CEO, Claref LDA; writer
· Nogueira Leite, António, Member of the Board, José de Mello Investimentos

· Mordashov, Alexey A., CEO, Severstal Schweden
· Bildt, Carl, Minister of Foreign Affairs
· Björling, Ewa, Minister for Trade
· Wallenberg, Jacob, Chairman, Investor AB

· Brabeck-Letmathe, Peter, Chairman, Nestlé S.A.
· Groth, Hans, Senior Director, Healthcare Policy & Market Access, Pfizer
· Janom Steiner, Barbara, Head of the Department of Justice
· Kudelski, André, Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group SA
· Leuthard, Doris, Federal Councillor
· Schmid, Martin, President, Government of the Canton Grisons
· Schweiger, Rolf, Ständerat
· Soiron, Rolf, Chairman of the Board, Holcim Ltd., Lonza Ltd.
· Vasella, Daniel L., Chairman, Novartis AG
· Witmer, Jürg, Chairman, Givaudan SA and Clariant AG

· Cebrián, Juan Luis, CEO, PRISA
· Cospedal, María Dolores de, Secretary General, Partido Popular
· León Gross, Bernardino, Secretary General of the Spanish Presidency
· Nin Génova, Juan María, President and CEO, La Caixa
· H.M. Queen Sofia of Spain

· Ciliv, Süreyya, CEO, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri A.S.
· Gülek Domac, Tayyibe, Former Minister of State
· Koç, Mustafa V., Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
· Pekin, Sefika, Founding Partner, Pekin & Bayar Law Firm

· Alexander, Keith B., Commander, USCYBERCOM; Director, NSA
· Altman, Roger C., Chairman, Evercore Partners Inc.
· Bezos, Jeff, Founder and CEO,
· Collins, Timothy C., CEO, Ripplewood Holdings, LLC
· Feldstein, Martin S., George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard
· Hoffman, Reid, Co-founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn
· Hughes, Chris R., Co-founder, Facebook
· Jacobs, Kenneth M., Chairman & CEO, Lazard
· Johnson, James A., Vice Chairman, Perseus, LLC
· Jordan, Jr., Vernon E., Senior Managing Director, Lazard Frères
· Keane, John M., Senior Partner, SCP Partners; General, US Army, Retired
· Kissinger, Henry A., Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
· Kleinfeld, Klaus, Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
· Kravis, Henry R., Co-Chairman and co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis, Roberts & Co.
· Kravis, Marie-Josée, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, Inc.
· Li, Cheng, Senior Fellow and Director of Research, Brookings Institution
· Mundie, Craig J., Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft Corporation
· Orszag, Peter R., Vice Chairman, Citigroup Global Markets, Inc.
· Perle, Richard N., Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
· Rockefeller, David, Former Chairman, Chase Manhattan Bank
· Rose, Charlie, Executive Editor and Anchor, Charlie Rose
· Rubin, Robert E., Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations
· Schmidt, Eric, Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
· Steinberg, James B., Deputy Secretary of State
· Thiel, Peter A., President, Clarium Capital Management, LLC
· Varney, Christine A., Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust
· Vaupel, James W., Founding Director, Max Planck Institute
· Warsh, Kevin, Former Governor, Federal Reserve Board
· Wolfensohn, James D., Chairman, Wolfensohn & Company

Neo Mushroom Management

The standard of senior management in the United Kingdom appears to be deteriorating at an alarming rate and it seems to be a comparatively new phenomenon.

It all started about four years ago.

Bank Directors had no idea that their banker-underlings were dealing in financial products that neither they nor their employees understood.

Lords as well as senior politicians were blind to the fact that  fraud was rife in Westminster .

Senior Newspaper executives did not have an inkling that their reporters were resorting to criminal methods in order to obtain a story.

For a while, Government has not felt able to make a major decision without the involvement of lawyers and inquiries. Gordon Brown started THAT craze and it  appears to have caught on.

Elsewhere, politicians continue to dance between the shower-drops because they have NO IDEA when something horrendous is coming down the economic pipe.

Senior Military officers don’t know that squaddies are brutalising and murdering prisoners.

Once a month, the Bank of England soothsayers come blinking into the sunlight to deliver their traditionally mysterious but fallacious prophesies.

Directors are directing but they cannot be doing it efficiently because they do not have the information or even the knowledge.

A Stygian blackness has descended.

We have what can only be described as a  “Reverse Mushroom” management problem.

Nowadays, it is not just ordinary people who are kept in the dark and  fed shit.

We sit shoulder-to-shoulder with our leaders.

The above is representative of the perennial management dilemma – especially after the solids have come into contact with the air-conditioning. Does a leader :

A. Admit that he or she DID know what was going on and accept responsibility?


B.  Allow the self-preservation instinct to kick-in i.e. plead ignorance, deny everything, apportion blame and live with the impression that they’re a lousy leader.


We’re in the Shapps!

House building in the United Kingdom has slumped to a 90-year low. Home ownership is predicted to slump to  approximately 65%.  The proportion of people living in owner-occupied homes is forecast to fall to 63.8% by 2021, down from 72.5% in 2001 and from the mid-eighties high of 74%.

According to economists, house prices are set to soar by 21.3 per cent over the next five years whilst rents are set to rise by up to 20%.

In some parts of the United Kingdom, 16% of home owners owe more on their mortgage than their property is worth.

Housing minister Grant Shapps said: “The trebling of house prices in the 10 years from 1997 has locked too many out of owning their own home.

“I want to see a period of house price stability so that more homes become affordable, but I am also determined that we pull out all the stops to give hard-working first-time buyers the help they need.

“That’s why I’ve held summits with lenders to encourage them to do more to help people take their first step onto the housing ladder, and I’ve launched the First Buy Scheme as a valuable alternative to the Bank of Mum and Dad for those struggling to get together that much-needed deposit.

“But we also need to get Britain building again. That’s why I’ve announced plans to release thousands of acres of public land for housebuilding.

“Despite the need to tackle the deficit we inherited, this government is putting £4.5bn towards an affordable homes programme which is set to exceed our original expectations and deliver up to 170,000 new homes over the next four years.”

Phrases from Mr Shapps such as: “I Want to see”, “Pull out all the stops”, “The help they need”, “We need to get Britain building”, “Announced plans”, “Set to exceed” all indicate well-meant sentiments  – a “politician’s intent”.  Even the “170,000 homes over the next four years” is preceded by the phrase “set to exceed” and not “WILL exceed”.

Incidentally, the ONLY thing that Mr Shapps promises to exceed are his own expectations –  which have not yet been delivered anyway.

Yes, there is a shortage of housing but  the ROOT CAUSE of this dire situation is not being treated.

Once again, I shall put it in plain English: The reason why the housing market is in a moribund state is because the banks are NOT lending money to building companies and they are NOT lending money to first time buyers – who incidentally are becoming a near-extinct species.

Mr Shapps may well have held “summits with lenders” but he has not yet given us any indication of any positive outcomes. Meetings do NOT solve issues – only outcomes. So, Mr Shapps, what have the banks promised on this occasion? Amounts? Terms ? LTV? Underwriting Criteria? Perhaps The Big Society Banks can help??!

So far, we have The Big Society, Enterprize Zones and now the The First Buy Scheme.

The first is still a mystery, the second contributes little more than mass relocations of existing businesses and First Buy-type shared equity schemes  do little more that frighten first-time buyers by the morass of  bureaucracy into which they are suddenly plunged.

Once again, the REAL solution is in the hands of the BANKERS.

p.s. I am  surprised by the fact that the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is still allowing itself to be pushed about by the banks. They used to be a very powerful organisation which played its part in controlling house prices.  The boom times prior to the 2008 crash turned the RICS into followers. They USED to be leaders. CLICK HERE

States of the economies.

The next economic and banking collapse is going to make the 2008 crash look like a slight adjustment.

Once-powerful Western economies are booking  quarterly GDP growths of 1% or less. For the non-mathematicians, that is within a rounding error of ZERO growth. So when you hear a Chancellor deriving solace from an economy achieving  a growth of say 1.5% which was “better than the expected” 1.3%, we know that they and we are in trouble.

Politicians and central bankers have exhausted their entire repertoire on a THREE YEAR attempt to put their economies in order whilst at the same time propping-up a broken banking system. None of it has worked!

They all know that the tsunami is coming but there is no high ground to run to.

European politicians are rushing about, turning inaction into an art-form whilst economies and banks  are merely standing on the trapdoor and holding hands hoping that somehow all this will go away and the entire system will somehow self-right. Their impotent prevarication can (and will) only result in two things – collapse and bankcrptcy.

Bankruptcy of governments, business and of private individuals.

Last week we had the very first example of a banker who more-or-less threw-in his hand, admitting that there was little-else that money could do. The Federal Reserve’s Ben Bernanke had the choice of either printing more empty dollars or not. The so-called Quantitative Easing 3 would have increased US inflation and made Investment Bankers happy. It would have enabled the bankers to further plunder the markets and create more of those illusory profits. They’ve been operating on that basis for two years now and perhaps Bernanke decided that enough was enough.

Mainlining money is never the long-term solution – it’s too addictive!

However, No U.S  Quantitative Easing   has simply accelerated the collapse of the United States economy.

Yes! It’s as clear-cut as that.

In the end, Bernanke took a leaf from the politicians’ book and decided to do nothing but sit and wait. NO mention of QE3 and no steps to promote economic growth.

He has decided to kick the the whole thing forward yet another month in the vain hope that Congress can deliver the next promise. THAT’S what you call a long-shot!

For the moment both Europe and the USA appear to be quite content to pause and doze in the middle of their joint economic tightrope until someone else (as yet unknown, probably China) comes along to coax  them out of their torpor.

Unfortunately, America and Europe are entwined in such a way that if Europe falls, so will the USA.

We used to dismiss the  PIIGS nations as the ones heading for the econo-slaughter house — Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain.  Their problem is very simple – they have debts so huge that there is absolutely NO prospect of them ever being repaid.  Their politicians  are also waiting for something miraculous to happen sometime in the future.

The Euro saviour WAS supposed to have been the “strong man of Europe”, the one with the largest economy – Germany. Unfortunately,Germany has also hit the economic buffers. It’s growth in this year’s second quarter was  just 0.1 percent!

France, Europe’s second-largest Euro-economy, has also ground to a halt. President Sarkozy’s has followed the UK route with huge budgetary cuts. That certainly looks good on paper and may lower deficits  but will  produce an  impossible drag on an already-waning economy. THAT will inhibit growth and ultimately lower tax revenues – which will inevitably result in higher taxation.

The United Kingdom’s Chancellor can take the credit for showing everyone else the way to economic stagnation through the triple whammy of  Government budget cuts, rising inflation and plunging consumer confidence. EXACTLY the conditions to discourage anyone from risking any sort of entrepreneurial initiative or borrowing from the banks to fund commercial expansion. That is, if the banks weren’t continuing to sulk.

Europe is frantically cutting spending in a desperate attempt to postpone the inevitable debt meltdown. Meanwhile  Washington continues to rack-up up its national debt at the eye-watering rate of more than 10 percent per year.

All that America has achieved so far is to have its credit-rating slashed by Standard & Poor’s while its local governments, states and cities frantically try everything from releasing prisoners early to selling off the family silver.

The ENTIRE Western economy has ground to a shuddering halt with the weird unwanted bolt-ons of climbing inflation and consumer confidence at near an all-time low.

So what IS the solution?

The solution is comparatively simple and should be attempted in stages.

The first would be to reconcile ALL sovereign debt.

Secondly,  the markets and banks would collapse – but at a controlled rate.

Thirdly, it should be admitted that the Euro and the Eurozone were both very bad ideas which developed into a grotesque sacred cow.

Then we could ALL start again.

The alternatives are greater budget shortfalls, greater deficits, even faster growths in  government debt, followed by  catastrophic collapses and Depression.

The former all require  political decisions of such magnitude that even the politicians have come to realise  that we do not have anyone  with even remotely the courage to  raise his or head above the parapet to take control.

So for the moment, it seems as if we’re knowingly headed for an economic holocaust.

So, unless the politicians wake up soon, we need to create hell and not wait for it.

From “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime,” lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931)

They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job.
They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,
Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Morton’s Fork lives!


Post-Saddam-type chaos in Libya will NOT be avoided. That’s nigh-on impossible.

One of the overlooked plans of the Iraq campaign was the Exit Strategy. Well, bugger me, the West has done it again in Libya.

The next major initiative will be the customary “Humanitarian Assistance” which is as good an excuse as any to maintain a military presence to ensure that the fuzzy-wuzzies keep in line.

THAT is going to be the most impossible task. The average Libyan’s loyalties are like this: 1. Family 2. Tribe  3. State Flag…….. In that order.

NOTHING but a totalitarian state can keep tribal factions in line. Government by Brutality appears to be the only way to stop tribes from killing each other. Saddam demonstrated that in Iraq and every other  state in the Middle East continues to suppress its people – but for very valid reasons.

Democracy is an anathema to tribal people. It is an alien concept.

In Libya’s case, the theory is that a fiefdom which has controlled many tribes through the medium of suppression can be turned into a democracy. Politicians may not have yet noticed that such a thing has never been done. It’s been tried on many occasions but so far, without success.

The most likely outcome in Libya is either the emergence of another authoritarian leader or the breakup of a country which was a western construct in the first place. It is a politically barren place with no political parties or constitution.

Meanwhile, the rebels are heading for Gaddafi City – SIRTE. One hopes that they all remember that the Tahoura Research Centre near Tripoli houses (or housed) the remnants of Libya’s nuclear programme. There are stocks of nuclear material which could easily be turned into a “dirty” bomb.

There has already been a half-hearted attempt to launch a Scud missile so hopefully, the rebels do not, once again find themselves on the receiving end, should Gaddafi supporters decide to surprise them.

Luckily, the BBC’s John Simpson has finally arrived in Libya – so all should be well. We don’t yet know whether he travelled across the desert with the Tuaregs or whether he is wearing the customary tea-towel on his head but after hearing of his exploits in Afghanistan, it’s possible. He’ll know what to do.

Meanwhile the next battle that  into which new Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril will have to lead his people will be the rather unedifying soon-to-be-fought campaign for Libyan reconstruction.

The cue for the Western  invasion is the phrase “Humanitarian Catastrophe”. Look out for that one.

p.s. The politicians appear to be surprised by the fact that, in spite of the announcement that the war in Libya  had been won, the fighting appears to be continuing. Just like Iraq.


There appear to be more and more self-appointed “GURUS”  on the Internet:  Finance Guru, Lifestyle Guru, Management Guru….the list is endless.

I used to be one of those but luckily managed to extract my head from my ass before it was too late.

Please don’t do it.

I now prefer the more modest “Messiah”.


Yesterday, I was listening to the BBC World Service when I was surprised to hear  a presenter use the word “Asyla” as a plural of Asylum. WTF? People who do that are nothing but pretentious scrota.

World Finance

Tomorrow, if Ben Bernanke announces that the Fed is going to print yet more “empty” dollars, he will be introducing yet more inflation into the US economy. Markets will recommence their downward slide and investors will all rush-off  in the direction of the  Bullion Markets.

If however,  there is no further printing of dollars and QE3 does not happen, the likelihood is that the American economy will collapse as investors all rush off in the direction of the Bullion Markets.

Either way, gold is the safest bet.

Meanwhile in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel is also between a rock and a hard place. If she agrees to fully support lame-duck Euro economies through the issue of the Euro Bond – so that countries such as Greece are able to enjoy unlimited credit at reasonable rates, she risks a rebellion back home from the Christian Democratic Party as well as from an electorate which does not wish to donate any more to broken Euro economies.

However, if there is no mechanism to support poorer Euro states, the Euro could collapse, together with the German economy.

By the way, it is time to start worrying about the world’s Stock Markets. Starting tomorrow.

Liberal Party

Today, Liberals are UP(!) 4% in the latest opinion poll. Does that mean that there may be a change of plan in Nick Clegg being handed a sexy European Parliament  job as a consolation prize after the 2015 General Election?

In response to emails concerning my dog…

I am sick and tired of receiving questions about my dog who mauled an illegal immigrant, two rappers, a hoodie-looter with hanging-past-the-crack tracksuit bottoms , three Sub-continent customer service clerks speaking broken English, one Member of Parliament, two policemen, three flag burners and a  taxi driver.


Those Swiss!

Press release from HM Treasury:

GCSE Results

Record results! Congratulations kids – another record year. You must have worked SOOO hard.

Here’s something for the cleverer ones to colour-in:

Survival of the Weakest?

Usually when there is any battle between two factions, the stronger of the two wins. It triumphs because there are more of them, they are better organised or have better equipment.

This is NOT the case in Libya. Without the NATO intervention, there is absolutely NO WAY that the so-called rebels would have conquered Gaddafi’s army.  NATO had to provide air support and effectively fight most of the battle as the rebels careered up and down the road in their Toyota pickups firing their guns into the air and posing for macho pictures.

So what happens now? Does NATO continue to hold the rebels’ hands? Once NATO backs off and the Gaddafi supporters wake up, they will soon realise that it would not take much of an effort to overwhelm the former rioters.

There are scores to be settled, relative seniorities to be re-established and government coffers to be plundered.

Tribal leaders will want to make sure that their people are heard at government level. Women will want to continue to be heard and respected.

For instance, it is only since 1969 that women’s rights have been on the agenda. Under Gaddafi’s predecessor King Idris, even the education of women was frowned upon and positively discouraged.

Without NATO, the rebels who appear to have Allah (but more importantly, NATO) on their side are a bit like the bespectacled playground wimp who has been adopted by the school bully. He can say and do whatever he likes to his enemies but only for as long as the bully is behind him. Otherwise, he’s in big trouble.

If , like me, you have always had a feeling that there has been something missing from the whole Get-Gaddafi production – apart from hubcaps – it was  a total lack of  any expression of idealism, binding ideas, political concepts or the future.

The rebels do not have common political beliefs. All that they have is a common enemy. THAT is what has been holding them together for six months.

Once Gaddafi is gone, the glue which held the rebellion together will be gone. There’s no stronger bond than that provided by fear or hatred of a common enemy. Then, new enemies will be sought. Unfortunately the new enemies will be former neighbours.

As I have said before, this has NOT been about the D-word (democracy). This has been about power.

Power is OK if you genuinely want to do something with it –  but it looks increasingly as if the Libyan Islamists are becoming the most influential group within the National Transitional Council. That does not bode well for “democracy and freedom” – especially for women.

It looks as if the school bully may have to stay-on much longer than has been anticipated.

Even post-euphoria, the “conquering” rebels will have over-high expectation levels. Within weeks, we should fully expect to see demands for better living conditions, more income and lower prices. The D-word will be consigned to the slogan drawer from which it should never have been taken and the Mullahs will slowly seep even further into Libyan society.

Those flags that everyone in Libya seems to be waving –  the plain green Socialist Arab Peoples Gaddafi-supporters’ flag, versus the rebels’ 1951 Independence tricolor  – where have they all suddenly appeared from? It’s as if boxes of flags magically materialised out of thin air!

Now what was it I spotted on one of the flags? It looked like a maker’s name…must have stood for Created In Algeria.

Can’t be! What a coincidence!

They’ll know what to do once the post-Gaddafi explosions start.

Libya: Freedom or Democracy?

Democracy is comparatively easy. Democracy, self-determination, having a say in the decisions which affect your life or whatever else you want to call it – can all be arranged comparatively easily. But there’s the much grander concept of freedom – for  citizens of both sexes.

Freedom is NOT a “Pick and Mix”. You either embrace it or leave it alone.

Democratic, educational, secular,  political, economic, entrepreneurial, medical, scientific, technological, environmental, artistic, philosophical are just SOME freedoms.

So, apart from being ruled by a self-obsessed maniac, what was wrong with Libya?

Libya used to have a higher  GDP than Russia plus free education and healthcare. The oil was about to be nationalised so that the Libyan people rather than the West would profit. Their national central bank operated in such a way so that it could NOT be exploited by the West. As far as the West was concerned, those were all very worrying developments which needed to be controlled.

Yes, Gaddafi was a thug whose main purpose was to amass riches for his own family and yes, there is poverty in Libya. There are hungry dispossessed people who feel that they were being unfairly treated by their rich, privileged  rulers. But those people exist all over the world. They still exist in Libya and will continue to exist long after Gaddafi becomes a mere memory.

Poverty, deprivation? Sometimes it would be a good idea for the USA, United Kingdom, France , Germany etc to have the mirror held up to themselves.  Just before they lecture others on inequality and deprivation.

Some say that it was the CIA which started the Benghazi unrest  as a result of Gaddafi’s proposed economic “adjustments”. Whoever was responsible is now an irrelevance. Suffice it to say that suddenly, Gaddafi went from being rewarded by the West for Libya’s “excellent human rights record” and being practically ravished by Tony Blair, to a despot who “slaughtered his own people”.

(That particular phrase was thrown at us so often that it became fact).

The West’s selective memory, illusion-mongering and propaganda are standard components used to excuse what has just been happening in Libya. It was always meant to be a war-by-proxy.

Gaddafi had to be deposed and no-one  from the West needed to get their hands too dirty! (William Hague: “It’s up to the Libyan people”. Yeah. Right! What he meant was “We can get those Libyans in their Toyota pick-ups to do all the dirty work on our behalf”).

Gaddafi was right in one very important aspect of the whole sordid affair.  It was all orchestrated for the sake of  self-interested domination by others – both inside and outside of Libya.

(Make no mistake – it was right that Gaddafi should “retire” but the handling of the whole affair did not exactly cover the West in glory).

So here we are : 22nd August 2011 – The Libyan people are (hopefully) about  to taste democratic freedom – just like ours. They will become proper free taxpayers and voters – just like us.

Eventually, they’ll become voters and taxpayers who pay to carry their economy to the point of  mind-numbing distress – but that’s OUR kind of freedom.

When I say OUR kind of freedom, I am of course not referring to those really “free” people who have knowledge of  subsidies, tax deferrals, loopholes and non-registered tax havens.

They already have those – just like us!

Usually, that sort of freedom takes a while to develop.

Proper freedom and democracy won’t come to our Libyan friends until their oil runs out.

So much to look forward to!

Riot Overkill

Looking at the increasingly worrying sentencing discrepancies, it looks as if Judges are sentencing people NOT for the mainly minor offences committed but for the fact that people participated in  rioting.  Opportunist pilferers should NOT be treated as harshly as those who torched buildings, vandalised or killed.

What is currently occurring is NOT justice – it is retribution.

That does NOT belong in the once fiercely independent British Judicial system.

They are acting like Cameron’s lackeys.

The inevitably violent?

We live in a  society where success is measured by consumption – the ability to buy. In recent years, the buying-game has  become a celebrity sport which is advertised daily in the media. The “haves” flaunt their riches whereas all that the “have nots” can do is look at the pictures and dream.

Eventually there comes a time when the hard realisation hits. You are NEVER going to either win the lottery or become famous. No-one gives a shit about you or your dreams. Then comes the day when you realise that even the mantra “Anyone can do it – anyone can become a success” is a lie  spouted by the few lucky ones.

You used to eye the Beckhams, the Royal Wedding, the Prime Minister and other rich people with envy but now you envy anyone who has a job. Like your father , mother and grandparents, you will live and die anonymous. History will never know you. You are a nobody.

Your grandparents didn’t give your own parents that most precious of commodities – the one which all decent parents give to their children – their time and love. Your parents (if you ever met them) deprived YOU in the same way.

Your parents assumed that you would do badly at school and  you didn’t disappoint.

Now, you are thick, inarticulate and poor. Just like the rest of your family. Your future is measured weekend-to-weekend. Anything beyond that is too scary to contemplate , yet it is already mapped out for you – right up until the day you die. You will live and die within a few hundred yards of where you were born.

Money is NOT a great motivator but lack of it is. It is the greatest demotivator of them all – bar none. It doesn’t matter to you because you will never possess it and neither will your own unfortunate offspring. You will be permanently and terminally poor – the only legacy which you will pass on to your descendants. After many generations, poverty and the chronic inferiority complex which only the poor understand  have been hard-coded into your genes. They will follow you for ever.

So what do you do to generate a bit of false self-esteem? You are incapable of surviving on your own but you do need to bolster your ego. You have no money with which to impress but you DO need to be admired. Your refuge is the only hiding-place of the poor brainless male:

The hotbed that is the homo-erotic haven of  The Gang.

Because you are among other nobodies, you can challenge and outdo each other. That’s lucky because there is absolutely no way in which you could compare yourself to somebody with an education or money in their pocket. You are stuck among your own – and there is no way out.

These  days TV studios are  full of overweight black social workers and scruffy white psychologists. They all (wrongly) believe they have the answer to your problems. The only trouble is that you do not see your lifestyle as a problem because you have never actually entered a normal person’s life. You have no idea about a warm loving home. In fact, you haven’t much idea about anything.

All the social workers and psychologists in the world couldn’t retrospectively give you what you REALLY need – a normal upbringing. It is too late.

Everything about us all is either Nature of Nurture or a combination of both. Nature has genetically programmed you to be a failure in ALL departments with the final flourish of the Lack of Nurture provided by your parents, cementing your character and outlook.

The Gang provides you with the means to exhibit some creativity – unfortunately, the only way that you KNOW how to express yourself is through the medium of violence – but only within the cocoon provided by your peers. That is because you do not have the social tools with which to be able to act independently.  You are even crap at being violent.

So in conclusion, my sad little hooded friend – you will inconvenience “nice” people for a few days. That will give you a taste and glimpse of an alien world to which you will never belong. You will touch shiny things that you have only seen in pictures and you will covet them –  but you will never really own them. Your escapades will make you even MORE bitter as you briefly taste how the rest of the human race has evolved.

We, on the other hand are looking at you with the wide-eyed wonderment of a young child on its first visit to the zoo. We knew that you lived around here somewhere but most of us have never seen you – our biological  cousins  who have once again confirmed Darwin’s Theory.

Traditionally, we have always either shot or caged a new species. In your case, because we live in enlightened times, you will be locked up for a bit, someone might study you for a while and then you will be released back into the wild of the inner-city.

Different species have always managed to live in parallel – as long as they respect each others territory. Urban foxes have learned to co-exist peacefully – why shouldn’t you?

Tell you what – you stay out of our lands  and we’ll leave you alone to continue your own evolution on the understanding that there will be times when you do feel the need to stray into our Land of Plenty in order to carry out the occasional raid.

You never know, there may come a day when you feel able to embrace our ways, even  learn the language and perhaps return to the main evolutionary flow.

One day, Homo Riotus Vulgaris may even evolve into a species similar to our own Homo Sapiens.

(Am loving the Nikes)

The Mass Murderer

Mass Murder by an individual  is undoubtedly the ultimate cry for help, the supreme statement as well as the pinnacle of  attention-seeking. There are no reasons or answers. There are no solutions. Like an earthquake, the shooter is a natural phenomenon which is appearing to strike with increasing regularity. Unlike the earthquake though, it is a phenomenon which can never be predicted.

Then we have the “Why?” question.  There is no answer. It is what is known as a multi-causal phenomenon. The symptom is without doubt psychological but the root-cause? We just do not know. It could be anything from childhood neglect to incorrect potty-training.

Nature or Nurture? Once again, we don’t really know.

The Mass-murdering shooter differs from his close cousin the Serial Killer in several ways. For instance, one demands publicity whereas the other shuns it.

Derrick Bird, the English shooter’s motives are still unclear. There was a little bit of bitterness and humiliation because he’d been told that a policeman was screwing his girlfriend but why the EXTREME reaction? What turned him into a Mass-killer? In truth, no-one knows.

The Norwegian shooter, Anders Behring Breivik hates Muslims and foreigners but the compulsion to kill was so strong that he did not consider either the outcome nor the personal consequences.

If both killers felt the need for fame or notoriety, they certainly have it but in Brivik’s case, the massacre did not end in the traditional way where the killer either puts a bullet through his own head or  is shot by the police.

One of the outcomes of a shooting episode is a government feeling that it has to “do something”.  Here in the UK, it happened after both the 1996 Dunblane (Hamilton) and 1987 (Ryan) Hungerford shootings.  The “something” that a government usually does is a modification to  gun-ownership laws. However, they should   have learned by now that most shooters and indeed most shootings are carried out with illegally-held  firearms.

So dies anyone have ANY idea what motivates this exclusive Evil Band of Brothers? Evil? No. That is meaningless because there have been many evil non-shooters. Research has shown the possibility of high levels of dopamine and low levels of seratonin – but are they a symptom or are they the cause? It doesn’t seem to matter how many and in which direction the brain is firing neurones or whether the individual has an abnormal limbic system – he is still an enigma.

The shooter is a rare animal and for that reason, the research is very thin. This time however, in Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian authorities have a captive shooter – and they should make the most of it.

There is SOME data. A shooter tends to be male, a loner who not-only feels alone but , more importanntly feels alienated. He has a score to settle and he is angry.

The difficulty is whether such a person has anger and eventually finds something to “hang” that anger on. Or whether his “mission” triggers the uber-anger.

The other phenomenon which all shooters share is that look and demeanour of someone who us “detached” from his crime. Very often witnesses have said “his eyes looked expressionless”, “He seemed very emotionless”.

Shooters tend NOT to be loving men with a mortgage, home-life and 2.4 children.

It has been established that serial killers as opposed to mass murderers derive sexual gratification from their murders. However, it would seem that mass murderes such as Breivik do not enjoy a normal sex life or a normal relationship. Serial killers do it for pleasure, power and for the ensuing chase. Mass murderers convince themselves that THEY are (or could be) the victim and kill only after having developed a quite logical reason for their behaviour.

The My Lai  Massacre in Viet Nam exhibited a very similar dynamic to the Norwegian  Breivik killings. The victims – about 500 men women and children (and animals) were slaughtered. The main driver of this massacre was 2nd Lt William Calley, a dropout and failure who achieved his fame by persuading the men under him that innocent civilians should be killed. This is the statement which Calley delivered during his court martial:

“I was ordered to go in there and destroy the enemy. That was my job that day. That was the mission I was given. I did not sit down and think in terms of men, women and children. They were all classified as the same, and that’s the classification that we dealt with over there, just as the enemy. I felt then and I still do that I acted as I was directed, and I carried out the order that I was given and I do not feel wrong in doing so.”

He, just like Breivik applied simple logic to a perceived problem and dealt with it like a psychopath.

Whereas serial killers are fuelled by the dopamine side of the brain, mass murderers run on cold personal logic. The difference between the two is the difference between a junkie and a logic-manipulator. One is looking for a “high” whereas the other is emotionally dead, angry and depressed.

Breivik would have been “set-off” by an event.  Something such as a personal loss which will have given him a “nothing to lose-everything to gain” mind-set. The “event” does not trigger immediate action but very often is the beginning of a sometimes quite protracted planning process.

Interestingly, mass killers plan everything down to the finest detail. Except how to escape. – Consequently, most of them die.

That is why the Norwegian Shooter should prove to be such an interesting specimen – and should be treated as such.

In the long-term, lives could be saved.

Murdoch, Fox and 9/11

Up to now, we, the British public have had our share of fun and entertainment at News International’s expense. However, the whole circus is about to move into a new and darker phase. The only brief piece of theatre (or should I say “farce”) will be the performance of the  Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee as it attempts to bamboozle the Murdochs into incriminating themselves. Or even better-still, to self-flagellate in front of the British population. I have news for them – it ain’t going to happen.

Not one of the Committee has any “big company” experience. Therefore there is a definite danger that they will not understand that in spite of the fact Rupert Murdoch   ostensibly runs the whole corporation, he probably was NOT aware of the fact that certain rodent reporters were behaving illegally. In the same way that a Prime Minister would not be expected to know that certain MPs were submitting expenses claims for duck houses and batteries for their wind-up torches.

Murdoch sits at the very pinnacle of a very large corporate pyramid which employs tens of thousands of people. Consequently, his only contact with the “shop-floor” is via several layers of management. That means that the information which he is fed is extremely selective. Plus, if any part of an organisation is performing “to-plan” or even exceeding targets, the questions asked by management tend to be of the gentler variety. Possible naughtiness is rarely on the agenda.

Directors and very often CEOs do NOT micro-manage; their focus is NOT on the day-to-day running of a department . They look towards the horizon. The weekly focus is provided by the supervisors, the monthly focus by the managers, the quarterly view by  senior managers and so on, up the pyramid. The Directors tend to devote themselves to the long-term strategic stuff.

Just like Army Generals, they have no idea that Private X screwed Private Y or that Private Z ran out of bullets.

A few years ago, I chaired a Citibank meeting and took to the stage with the UK board. I was the question-master and referee. Prior to this momentous and unique staff meeting, I had asked employees to let me have written questions well before the event  because I have always believed in a “no-surprises”  management culture.

The meeting progressed very well as I  invited ready-primed, chosen  members of staff to ask their pre-submitted questions. That enabled board members to demonstrate their “I can think on my feet” abilities, without the staff necessarily suspecting that it had all been well-rehearsed.

The meeting went so smoothly that we finished ten minutes early. The Chairman , who was sitting next to me turned to me and whispered,  “As we have some time, why don’t we take a few random questions from the floor?” I whispered back, “Mr Chairman – I don’t think that’s a good idea. I’m sure that they’ll all appreciate leaving the meeting a few minutes early.”

“Nonsense!” bellowed the Chairman. He stood up, grabbed the microphone and announced to the assembled staff “We have a few minutes…so…. are there any further  questions on maybe a few things which we have NOT covered? … Anything at all?” I could see a hand shoot up at the back of the hall.

“Fuck!” I thought.

Harry was a 65 year-old post boy who thought that management was “the enemy”. His moment had come. His 15 minutes! The Chairman had no idea who this person was. He pointed towards a smiling Harry.

I could see Harry pull out what appeared to be a ream of folded A4 from his inside jacket pocket.

“Mr Chairman. Are you aware that there are no bandages in the 5th floor First Aid box and that is contrary to……..” Harry went on an on…and on…., clearly demonstrating that this oversight by “the management” was yet another clear manifestation of the management’s and indeed the directors’ total lack of care or respect towards the staff. Harry was an ex-union man and made a very impressive speech which all but destroyed all of the goodwill which we had created in the previous 90 minutes.

When Harry had finally exhausted himself and had sat down to tumultuous applause, the Chairman turned to be and said: “Why the bloody hell was I not briefed on this?”

Chairmen have NO IDEA of what goes on within a business. They are interested in RoI, RoE, 5 year forecasts, cash-flows, share price etc. They don’t know or even give a shit about day-to-day operations.

That makes me suspect that Murdoch will be asked questions that he genuinely will not have the answers to. That is because his interrogators have neither the background nor the “feel” to understand exactly what goes on within a huge organisation such as NewsCorp.

Here in the UK, after more corporate obfuscation, a tsunami or PR, several newly-created lawyer millionaires and an inquiry, Murdoch will be rehabilitated, some of his ex-management team will be banged-up and by 2020, life will return to normal. THAT is how we do things.

The United States – that’s another matter. They have a darker tinge to the way that they operate.

Over here, the politicians have rolled out the Dowler family, Gordon Brown has made his assault on recent history and a few celebs have been upset. Nothing that a few quid, a bit of political sincero-talk and a good old-fashioned grovel from Murdoch won’t sort-out. Even Max Clifford should score a few grand.

In the States, it looks as if certain NewsCorp  journalists tapped and hacked the phones belonging to family members of 9/11 victims. That was a VERY bad sin! “Distraught” relatives of the dead are making public statements with accusing fingers already pointed at Fox News.

Anyone in America who lost a relative on 9/11 has a special exalted status – that of a latter-day martyr-saint-by-association. You cannot and should not mess with those people.

If Fox News – that video-comic of the American Right is shown to have abused this precious sainted group, it will lose its broadcast licences. THAT’s how serious life may become for the Murdoch Dynasty.

So at worst, next week’s questioning by Tom Watson MP and the Gang will be a mild entertainment – not just for us but for the Murdochs too!

Compared to what could be awaiting them in the States, this will be a walk in the park.

p.s. Rebekah Brooks has gone. In spite of the Murdochs wishing to retain her services and possibly persuade her to “take the bullet”, we have to remember that although Murdoch claimed that she was “one 0f the family”, she never was and never could have been. She was the hired help and as such, she was and remains expendable.

Direct Sales? No thanks!

We have imported many things from the United States – some good and some not so good. One of the most popular American business activities which we seemed to embrace in the 1950s and which is only now dying out, is “cold-calling”. That is to say, knocking on someone’s door and then attempting to sell whilst at the same time not quite hearing the word “No!”. Ask the “God sellers” – the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons – they’re the real experts.

Remember the old encyclopaedia and vacuum cleaner salesman of the fifties and sixties? Then of course, we had the Life Assurance salesman of the seventies and eighties, followed more recently by the double-glazing salesman of the eighties and nineties. Now we have the door-to-door “energy” salespeople who want to save you money by showing how to switch your gas and electricity bill.

“Foot-in-the-door” selling used to be great fun if you were a good professional salesman – and a nightmare if you were not. The more advanced “foot in the door” technique was the “head in the door”  – which meant that when the door was slammed, you could carry on  talking until you passed out.

Our real problem though, is that Brits are lousy salespeople and our natural shyness and inability to close a sale made cold-calling excruciating – both to the salesman and to the prospective customer. We are not genetically programmed for sales. We do not possess the “good” bullshit gene – only the pretend one.

Sadly, direct salesmen are a dying breed and nowadays, most initial contacts with clients are made either by telephone or possibly email. Nevertheless, it is still tempting for some amateurs to try their hand at the old art of door-knocking………..

If you have ever been a door-to-door salesman, what is written below may rekindle some old memories. If you are not yet a Direct Salesman but are thinking about it and have been promised unimaginable riches – don’t you wish that you’d paid more attention at school?

The rust-encrusted Vauxhall Nova with a very old “Tax in Post” sticker rattled past the seemingly endless handkerchief-sized front gardens. The single remaining wiper blade was having difficulty in coping with the solid sheet of sleet that appeared horizontally reflected in the dim headlights.

He tapped the petrol gauge nervously. He’d become used to the gauge reading ‘empty’ and he could now read it to the nearest half-millimetre. Almost instinctively, he knew that he had enough fuel for another 8.6 miles , as long as he did not drive above 45 mph in third gear. The Manager had made him promise that he would knock on fifty doors tonight and then meet him at a pub just round the corner at 9 o’clock.

Unfortunately he had been late starting because he could not find a friendly-looking door. (Only those who have “done it” will understand that reference).

Eventually, after driving up and down six more streets, he saw the door! Its porchlight beckoned to him! This was the one! He was drawn to the light like a moth to a flame. He could smell a deal! He would show them back at the office. At next Monday’s sales meeting, he would be the star. He would be the one who would be handed the bottle of cheap red wine. He would bask in the warm applause of his peers and tell them how he had pulled the deal off! They would look up to him and then it was just a matter of time before he was the top salesman. As he parked the Nova, he dreamed of drunken sales conventions in the sun and paid-for weekend breaks in country hotels…..and sex. Lots of it!

He parked the car on a slight incline away from the house – just in case the starter motor jammed again and wedged the front wheel against the kerb because the handbrake was not working properly.

As he stepped out of the car into the rain, his mouth felt dry, although his bladder felt strangely full. He needed the money! That commission cheque was his! Tomorrow there would be a sale against his name! He was a superstar!

As he stepped into the road, he turned up the collar of his cheap Topman suit jacket. He clutched the already soggy business card in a trembling hand. The combination of the streetlight and the warm glow from the porchlight cast a macabre shadow behind his shambling frame as he bent against the sleet on the short trip to the front door.

He paused at the door, straightened the business card and with a short intake of steaming breath, lifted the heavy brass knocker and smashed it on the peeling door. There was a loud silence immediately followed by a commotion and some shouting. He imagined that he heard something about a “ King Salesman”. Well, he was certainly one of those!

The light in the hallway lit a bit suddenly and the startled Salesman twitched in anticipation. SHOWTIME!

The door swung open and It stood before him.

“It” appeared to be a large biped clad only in a grey vest plus what had once been boxer shorts and It appeared not to have the full complement of chromosomes. It did not speak. It only looked.

“GOODEVENINGIREPRESENTCRAPENERGYCANIINTERSETYOUINCHEAPERFUEL..! choked the Salesman as he tried to control his bowels and wave his business card about.

The man looked him up and down, smiled, said “No thanks. Fuck off” and slammed the door in his face.

Ten minutes later, the merriment and banter in the Dog and Duck were briefly interrupted by the entrance of a young man with crazed-looking eyes and wearing what appeared to have once been a cheap Top Man suit. It now looked like a dishcloth with the collar turned up. It and the pathetic figure it contained slipped and slid up to the bar and stood very close to a man in an Yves St Laurent suit who was wearing a chunky gold bracelet on one wrist and a fake Rolex on the other. He spoke too loudly, having just consumed his fifth Scotch.

“ How did you get on then? How many sales did you get then? Bet you didn’t manage fifty doors.”

The Salesman faced his Manager, melting sleet running down his face and back. He moved one more step forward. He was now so close that he could smell the stale Paco Rabanne on his Manager’s quizzically quivering jowls.

Swiftly he brought his knee up.

Political Creep

Recently, military men and politicians have been talking about “mission creep” in Libya. There is a certain  inevitability about conflict escalation, yet in spite of tons of historical evidence, politicians ignore the phenomenon – at their peril. Mission Creep occurs when an invading power has only ONE overriding objective. It begins immediately after it has taken that first stride towards its military goal.

That first step is followed by a series of incremental shuffles which are driven by the failure to secure an early result. In Libya, warnings to Gaddafi were superseded by a “no-fly” zone, then bombing, then military advisors, then the deployment of helicopters, then the supply of arms to the rebels. As soon as the first NATO helicopter is shot-down and Gaddafi holds a few NATO hostages, the next step will be justified. “The situation has changed” reasoning will be deployed.

A single focus on just ONE end-game results in the protagonist doing anything to achieve his ambition because politico-military “tunnel vision” kicks-in. Western politicians believe that they have painted Gaddafi into a corner but in having done so, their inflexibility has meant that they have done exactly the same to themselves.

NATO views the Libyan end-game in very simple terms –  a dead Gaddafi. Some may say that there’s nothing wrong with that very laudable ambition but there are alternatives. There are always alternatives.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s focus is equally intense – to stay alive. The “big picture”, i.e Libya’s future is largely ignored because there is a dictator to be killed.

President Obama has been advised by his own people to “back off”  in order to allow minnows such as the United Kingdom and France take the lead in the Libyan “mission”. Why? Obama is essentially a man of peace and he knows  that there are alternative end-games in Libya but it is not politically expedient for him to explore the other options. His and the American government’s stance is further driven by public opinion and the rather flaky state of the US economy as well as the relative unimportance of Libya as a strategic jumping-off point.

Nevertheless, cigar-chomping generals are in the driving seat – and once they have a taste of blood, they are notoriously difficult to control. They do NOT understand the concept of  “reverse gear”.

European jets and helicopters are busy dropping explosives over Libya with an abnormal concentration having been dropped on Tripoli – specifically in the vicinity of   Gaddafi’s compound – all in the name of peace and protection of civilians.

Their lack of success and  increasing frustration caused by the failure of  their “Kill Gaddafi” objective will create battlefield escalation and a constant reinterpretation of UN Resolution 1973.  That means that the military invasion of Libya is a forgone conclusion. It is merely a matter of “when” and not “if”.

Toynbee or not Toynbee?

The daily circulation of the Sun newspaper is just over 3 million, closely followed by the Daily Mail at 2.14 million with the once-great Daily Mirror at a struggling 1.2million.

At the other end of the scale ( below the Daily Star and the Daily Record) , the Guardian limps in at 275,000 and the Independent at 185,000.

The Times, Financial Times, Guardian and Independent , together with the Daily Record  represent the bottom 5.

So who is writing for whom? What differentiates the Guardian from say, the Sun? Which is the more influential?

The reader ship can be split into three main groups:

1. Those who believe everything they read

2. Those who no longer believe anything

3. Those who critically examine what they read and form their judgments accordingly.

The above groupings are important because the decision as to who , for instance governs the country,  is in the gift of the numerically strongest group –  the first one.

It is the Sun and Mail readers who call the shots.

The thick and the credulous have inherited the power to make or break governments.

Here in the United Kingdom, the whole ‘mix’ is further complicated by the once-trendy but now dead-hand of the Oxbridge Socialists. The ones who feed  the Guardian and Independent readers.

During Tony Blair’s tenure, these middle-class ‘Beau monde’ Socialists had their admirers. They were even briefly identified as ‘Champagne Socialists’. Teachers, middle managers, council white-collar workers and media people decided that the new Beau Monde Socialism was for them.  After all, Chief Druid Blair was from a middle-class public-school Tory background, so it had to be OK for the aspirational classes to think of themselves as ‘Socialist’. For a while, the bandwagon creaked.

Now that Blair has disappeared, the High Priests and  Priestesses of Beau Monde Socialism are beginning to struggle because it is now perfectly acceptable to be and think like a modern Conservative.

Now they are neither Socialist nor Conservative.  Nevertheless, they should be identified as a unique political species.

The collapse in the Guardian and Independent readership  has been largely driven by the very transparent insincerity of that particular flavour of Beau Monde Socialism whose roots developed  around   heavy  pine kitchen tables and  Notting Hill Agas.  This posh Socialism was nothing to do with the working classes.  It was (and still is) merely a rib ripped from the side of traditional Socialism.

In the 70s and 80s , Beau Monde Socialism developed in the intellectually-castrated Oxbridge canteens and cafes where second-hand ideas led to a third-rate pretend- ideology .

This Elito-Socialism, as for instance practised by Oxford dropout and occasional Guardian Columnist Polly Toynbee already feels a bit anachronistic and is certainly out-of-touch with the far less polarised political thinking of today.

Last week, for instance, Ms Toynbee wrote a convoluted piece on ‘chavs’. Her primary purpose was to weave in a couple of book ‘plugs’ but the poor old dear nevertheless managed to show how completely out-of-touch  she is with modern word usage and the current social scene.  She wrote as if the word ‘chav’ was a class-insult aimed at the poor.

Fifteen years ago she may have been right but nowadays the word is used as a mild insult which merely flags-up a lack of style or possibly bad behaviour.

It would seem that Elito-Socialism froze solid in the mid-90s. Modern Elito-Socialists should sometimes look-up from their Ipads and Macbooks to listen and see rather than surmise and sermonise.

Theirs  is not the ‘dirty hands’ socialism of the Welsh miner. That seemed so uncomplicated just 50 years ago. This is a Socialism borne of Chardonnay-fuelled discussion and  the over-intellectualisation of borrowed (proper) socialist views which have somehow mutated into comfortable middle-class chatter – but always with a decent shot of Guardian-spawned pseudo-intellect and the odd hand-made metaphor.

Instead of a defence of Workers’ rights, you are far more likely to hear Chomsky, Engels or Howard Zinn slip into the conversation. The substance is in the discussion and the end-product is the misconstructed and often fallacious idea.

It was refreshing to have clear evidence of this dying and once never-noble political breed.

Meanwhile, the Sun reader grunts as he runs his finger along the words.  Polly who?

( I would have added that Middle-of-the-Road Liberal Conservatism is the new Black but Ms Toynbee may have accused me of racism.)

Sex, Brits and Injunctions


We Brits are not very good at sex but by God, we like to read about others doing it. There’s nothing we enjoy more, except perhaps witnessing a successful person’s life unravelling  whilst we  wallow in those delicious Sunday-morning waves of schadenfreude as we thumb through the weekend red-tops. 

Nowadays, publicist Max Clifford appears to contribute the first ten pages to both the News of the World and Sunday Mirror. It is usually sex-based showbiz dross with either a real or engineered theme of celebrity crisis. It can be anything from Jordan’s split hair to an Antipodean bimbette being excluded from a talent-show panel. However, by far the best kind of celeb crisis is the one which contains sex, infidelity and a broken relationship. We lap it up.

That is why the alleged Ryan Giggs affair with Imogen Thomas has captivated a nation hungry for any hint of celebrity depravity. If there is any shortage of filth – we can join-up the dots ourselves. Think about it – what do we have so far? We have a millionaire footballer with a wife and children, an inexperienced Welsh former beauty queen, a super-injunction-busting Member of Parliament who himself hasn’t been slow in the trouser department  and the undivided attention of a slavering media. Can we bear to wait until next Sunday?

The end-game will be the usual ” Mr and Mrs ……………….. ask that you respect their privacy through this difficult time as they try to save their marriage.”  Then we’ll have the obligatory advice from the Fleet Street Harpies along the lines of  “Should she leave him or should she stay with him?” It’s the usual script – only the main players have changed.

Our very synthetic outrage (how could he?) (the children) belies the fact that we’re glad. Any sympathy we express is sham. What we really want are all the gory details, we want to see those sentences with “hotel room”, “sex act” (usually a blow-job), “well-endowed”, six times (why always six?), “I loved him”,”he promised”,”he was gentle” etc.

So why do footballers and celebrities in general, take those risks?  The answer is simple – Money and Opportunity. In fact, the former facilitates the latter – especially if you are a young fit famous footballer with a permanent hard-on, a Black Amex Card and a Bentley. 

They say that erect prick has no conscience – and sad to say, that is true. Fidelity is not a state of mind or belief, it is a clause in a contract. Every person, given the right opportunity will screw someone who is not his or her partner. The difference between normal mortals and celebrities is that they are handed those opportunities over and over again. Opportunities which most ordinary people never experience.   Inevitably, some of those opportunities will be too difficult to resist.

The ONLY things which can ever prevent an individual from straying sexually are either deep-held religious or cultural beliefs which have instilled the conviction that certain activities can be wrong. Regrettably, these days that type of education has largely gone AWOL.

Nowadays, morality, morals and sexual activity are three separate concepts – no longer viewed as being an intertwined trinity.

To many, the sex act is a bodily function which does not need the veneer of either love or ‘right and wrong.’

The ones who dispense judgement on those who are ‘caught’  fall into just two  groups. Those who haven’t been caught or those who who have never had the opportunity. There is one final (minor) group which is rapidly approaching extinction – those who genuinely believe that sexual intercourse can sometimes be wrong or a sin and should never be played away from home.

Once a couple arrives at the ‘sex-by-numbers’ stage, it is often merely the lack of opportunity which flimsily binds them to each other. That is the time when sex truly does just become an ‘act’.  That should be a time for reappraisal and re-invention. However, unless the couple has that rare 100% bond which enables them to say to each other “I didn’t like that” or ” This is getting boring” etc. , tension , stress, frustration and the danger of straying are constantly self-amplifying.

Having said all that – we are certainly not in the business of sympathising with a footballer who screwed a beauty queen and created Twitter mayhem. The only thing to remember is that there are no heroes or villains in this  ‘whodunit’. Anyway, it has just morphed from ‘whodunit’  to  soap opera!

Let’s just not pretend that we’re not loving every single moment.

(By the way, those things that I said  about relationships and sex just applies to the others and not to you. )


What?! Mandelson for the IMF?

(Yes, yes! We ALL thought that it was a nose-bleed)

The Chinese have asked if Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson would be interested in THE  job at the International Monetary Fund!

Does a Pope crap in the woods?  Is the bear a Catholic?

It is difficult to understand the qualities that the Chinese admire in Western politicians. If you recall, they were great fans of President Richard Nixon, even after the Watergate bust. They’re obviously seeing something that is invisible to the Westerner.

As well as having been EU Trade Commissioner, Mandelson is our former Business Secretary and he is known as an excellent manager, administrator and shrewd political operator. So he does have (with apologies to Dominique Strauss-Kahn) previous form.

If the oleaginous Mandelson were to be handed the job ahead of sexy Christine Lagarde or bumbling  Gordon Brown, many, including our own Prime Minister would be reasonably happy – after all, Mandelson, in spite of his many foibles is a very smooth international wheeler-dealer.

Mind you, ‘ la cerise sur le gâteau’ would be that not-only the French but more importantly, Gordon Brown would throw all of their toys out of the pram.

French President Sarkozy is still developing his neo-Napoleonic image by having elbowed his way to the front of the NATO queue in order to enhance his recently acquired ‘decisive international statesman’ image by bombing Gaddafi. For balance, he and his wife are expecting a child. He has literally worked his nuts off in order to create a new shiny voter-friendly image for the forthcoming 2012 French presidential election. Make no mistake, the alleged DSK-rape affair is a massive bonus to his campaign.

Now he has the opportunity to install his “protégé” Christine Lagarde at the IMF. That will be yet another feather in his ‘chapeau’ plus Christine will be out of the way, charming bankers and politicians, thus removing herself from the local (French) political scene. Currently, Christine Lagarde is so popular in France  that if she decided to run for the French presidency, she would doubtless win.

Gordon Brown needs a job and when interviewed, he didn’t rule himself out – after all it’s £320,000 tax-free – he just tried to sound serious and statesmanlike. He’s definitely making a low-key play for the job. For instance, he had wasted no time in flying out to  South Africa, where he was launching a new High Level Panel on Education. Today’s interview had a backdrop of a classroom full of nicely polished black kids. That always goes down well with the media.

When asked about his candidature for the IMF job, he replied in his usual sparkly way “Any candidate to head the IMF needs to be appointed on merit”. When he said that, he probably didn’t realise that in that single sentence, he’d ruled himself out.

David Cameron would probably settle for anyone, as long as it wasn’t Gordon Brown – and for valid reasons. There is little doubt that Brown the Bully would try and ‘lord it’ over our  Coalition Government. After all, it is barely a year since he suffered his very public humiliation. Plus he does not possess the urbanity or chic of any of the other candidates. Management by Shouting does not go down well in the IMF environment and Brown has proved more than once that he is a natural backroom boy and not a figurehead.

Nowadays, the Chinese tend to get what they want. After all, even the mighty United States is in hock to them.

Right now, the Chinese want Mandy.

This is going to be a very interesting summer.

(While we’re waiting, Greece will just have to sign a few more IOUs.)

Gaddafi the Dictator-King

Muammar Gaddafi has probably been studied by the West more than any other post-war leader, yet, judging by the way that he is being treated by the anti Gaddafi, pro-rebel Coalition, it is plain to see that to them,  he is still an enigma.

Over the years, I have had contact with many corporate dictators and the behaviours which they exhibit bear a striking resemblance to those of Gaddafi and the only other comparable despot within the last few years – Saddam Hussein. One thing that I can report with certainty: they cannot be changed. Their behaviours are hard-wired.

Dictators rule by fear but ironically, they themselves are ruled by their own fears. Outwardly, they appear to have developed the symptoms of paranoia and as their career progresses, they believe (quite rightly) that there are fewer and fewer people that they can trust. Those feelings of universal mistrust eventually put them onto a self-destructive path which always leads to either their death or foreign exile. There is NO retirement home for them!

Gaddafi probably employs food tasters, doubles, sleeps at numerous locations and has all visitors searched. He definitely sleeps with a gun under his pillow because he constantly senses that it is only a matter of time before he is assassinated.

A dictator will do ANYTHING to remain in power – even if it means a diminution is status and financial or power-deals with the opposition. The overriding aspect and driving force of the dictator’s existence is POWER and its trappings. Too often, a dictator gives the impression of a messianic complex but in reality, compromise and compliance are often not too deep beneath the surface – if approached correctly. Having said that, they often genuinely do believe that they are on a divine mission. That belief can be so fundamental to the dictator’s makeup that  they are willing to sacrifice themselves in order to preserve their legacy for their descendants.

Whenever the West is upset by a dictator – even a benevolent one, they begin to think “regime change ” and “democracy”. The propaganda machine grinds into gear and soon the stock phrases are deployed: “massive violence”, “murdering his own people”, “he’s mad”, “….but he’s a survivor”,  “dangerous if cornered”, “talent for dividing his enemies”, “isolated”, “iron rule” .

Currently, the stock phrases are being applied to Gaddafi but if you think back just a few years, you will recall exactly the same phrases being slung at Saddam Hussein, as they will be to Assad of Syria.

Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, Gaddafi, Nasser and many others all used violence in order to retain power – although they didn’t always kill their enemies. For instance, Saddam would force his enemies to watch videos of their wives being raped or their children tortured. It was rumoured that Idi Amin would cut slices of flesh off his victims or their relatives and eat bits in front of them. Terrorism in its purest form.

Often it is most potent when the victim is not killed but instead given such an appalling story to tell that just hearing the stories keeps others in line.

Middle Eastern dictators are currently in the limelight and their opponents are right to be suspicious of   promises of reform because in spite of the fact that they may introduce superficial reforms, their inability to trust anyone makes it impossible for the dictator to work with anyone else apart from close friends and family.

Arab dictators sincerely believe in the moral weakness of the West and tend to reinforce that belief with demonstrations of their own piety in order to create a religious bond and empathy with their own people. Their belief in the superiority of Arab Civilisation is absolute. They see themselves as warriors defending  not-only their country but their faith against  Crusaders. The same Crusaders who used to  raid their lands every few hundreds of years but who nowadays arrive not-only with increasing regularity but with bigger and more powerful weapons.

Arab dictators such as Gaddafi know that the “soft” West will try to avoid the killing of civilians – hence the concept of the “human shield”. Tanks and guns are secreted in residential areas  in the sure knowledge that NATO will be too squeamish to risk blowing-up “innocent civilians”.

In many ways, fighting a dictator such as Gaddafi is an unequal struggle. He believes that he holds the moral, religious and “terror” aces. The “infidels”, “Americans and their Zionist friends” or just plain NATO are warmongers who are “acting illegally”. He may have a point. Gaddafi’s style of leadership is nothing new. He has been on the throne for 43 years and his current enemies have been perfectly aware of his methods for all of that time. They have known of his involvement in many atrocities – from Lockerbie to the various IRA bombings. Yet, the West tolerated him to such an extent that he became lauded as one who had made such progress that in 1988 he initiated the annual $250,000  Swiss-based  Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights. The first recipient was Nelson Mandela.

Less than one year ago, Libya was elected by a majority of its fellow U.N. members to serve on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council.

No wonder that the man (Gaddafi) feels confused and betrayed.

What he sees is the West siding with a bunch of protesting hooligans and terrorists who have no mandate or alternative to the Gaddafi regime. Protestors who began their campaign as a copycat version of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings and who, by the simple expedient of shouting “democracy and freedom of speech” have managed to persuade NATO to bomb what, until a couple of months ago was a friendly nation.

Many have learned that all they have to shout is “Democracy” and the Americans will come running with the rest of those spoiling for a fight trailing behind them.

Gaddafi knows that when the clarion call “DEMOCRACY!” is shouted loud enough, it distorts during its journey through the ether and take on an altogether different sound:


Sun and Drink….the sunshine reminded me..

The late Seventies and early Eighties were my Hemingway days.  My home was  a dark-blue , John Bain-designed pointy barely-floating box called MV Silver Bird. It was parked, or should I say it “leaned” near the Capitainerie in Antibes. Occasionally, mocha- faced Tuna fishermen in their borderline-seaworthy wooden boats would pull-up alongside and  throw a dead tuna onto the foredeck in exchange for a simple non-tuna meal and lots of pink wine. At other times my neighbours might be a couple of Scandinavian lovelies pulling in for the night in the old man’s ketch. The scenery was constantly changing and evolving.

We could spot the tourists because the ladies would shriek and fuck up the charter boat decks with their silly high heels. They liked to wear silk turbans and what was often a cross between a sari and an evening gown. They always had too much make-up and jewellery plus they were up for it. Gagging. We all stayed well away from them, their too-shiny  Rolexes and their orange-streaked faces.

The wine we used to drink in those days wasn’t the poncy stuff that tourists drank. It was the rough stuff, no cork but a plastic cap. Mind you, after the Ricard aperitifs, wine of any quality would have been wasted on our Gitane-cured tongues. There were times when four or five languages sat around the table – but that was not the point as I had already learned the difference between language and communication. We communicated through the medium of Pradel or Listel.

My deckhand and friend was on the run from the British police. He had spent several years in an Isle of Wight establishment and claimed that he had often played chess with one of the Krays who, apparently was “a good bloke”. I didn’t argue in spite of the fact that Crazy Chris and I had developed a “special” relationship. That of a master and Rottweiler-on-Prozac. He was the type of Rottweiler that I would only have taken for a walk on a long length of scaffold pipe. Too dangerous. He loved me and probably wanted to lick my face because I had given him a job without references, actually paid him at the end of every day and even gave him advances.

Eventually his dependence became complete. It became so total that one day he asked me NOT to pay him but to keep it until he “needed it”. I ended up giving him pocket money.

Occasionally, he would cadge a lift back to England on a borrowed passport to “do a job”. His very first offence had been for car-stealing and from what I recall, I believe that he had been a good old-fashioned “wheels” man. It was not something that he liked to talk about.

Early each morning I would stagger into the Bar du Port looking for temporary deckhands at Fr100 per day. In those days you could have a very good time for £10. Some of them would be drinking black coffees but most were clutching bottles of Kronenberg whilst the “sophisticats” would already be  on their second or third Fernet Branca and croissant. (If you’ve never tasted Fernet Branca – imagine liquidising mushrooms in vodka.)

Many of these rogues were ex-public school – only because most British plebs didn’t really know where the Cote d’Azur was –  and buses didn’t come that far. Some of us remember when both Antibes and St Tropez were fishing villages – before the tosserati arrived and Peter Mayle had written that ridiculous book which encouraged even more tosserati – this time with white villas and sovereign rings.

One morning, I had been looking for five or six people to rub-down the paint on the hull of a very large yacht. After I had hired three regulars, I clapped eyes on Chris who was to become  my personal bodyguard/helper/enforcer etc. He was sitting hunched over his coffee and baguette – in the prison manner – with his arms around and in front of his food. He didn’t look up. I shouted to him “Oi, do you want a couple of days work?”

Eventually, he looked up. His eyes were soft-grey bullet holes. He nodded.

Chris’s first day was uneventful apart from when one “hooray”, when on being handed a “Skil” sander said to Chris: “Oh I say. I prefer a Black and Deckah!” Chris threw him over the side. The electric lead had not been long enough to reach into the sea, so unfortunately, the boy survived. I only stepped-in when I believed that Chris was going to damage the idiot after he had been pulled back on board.

Lunch would be either in the Bar du Port or very occasionally at Chez Felix which was opposite – and this is the important part of the story. Lunch would always be accompanied by wine – usually ice-cold Provencal pink or possibly a beer-or-two.

Lunchtime drinking was not a big deal and it certainly was not what is known in the UK as a  “session”. It was lunch and it could take two or three hours.

The Brits tend to lose the point about three-hour lunches. We would start work at 7 a.m and often finished at 7 p.m.  We did not work when the sun was high.

Here in Britain, alcohol has always been a “big deal” and it is treated by many as a drug rather than a foodstuff.

There is an inordinate amount of snobbishness  and pretentiousness attached to wine-drinking. Children are warned off drink so by the time they’re 15 and old enough to drink, they know all about “units”, liver-damage and the theory of binge-drinking – which is handy for when they start work and can afford to get REALLY pissed. Even in school they  are shown examples of “what alcohol can do”.

The Brits find alcohol  a useful drug because they are a naturally shy race which needs booze in order to be interesting.  The saying  “In vino veritas” should be modified for us Brits. It should be “In vino, fiducia” – “In wine , there is confidence.”

Most of the population has probably been conceived with the aid of alcohol at some stage of the process. On the plus side, a lot of art has also been conceived in the same way.

There is another point which should be cleared up. Here in the UK, there is an urban myth which states that French parents give their children watered-down wine from an early age. They do not such thing.

I’d heard the same myth and when I tried to give watered-down wine to my young sons, they spat it out and asked for a Coke.

So, on one side, we have the French experience of a bunch of hard-working (by English standards) drunks (by English standards) who take long lunches. On the other side we have part-time bingers and drunks (by ANY standard) who eat crap sandwiches at their desk.

Which is better? I’ve done both so it’s not a difficult choice.

What of my friend Chris? Unfortunately on my return to the UK, he came back as well. I went “corporate” but  no-one would give him a job. So he stole a car, was nicked and helped the crime figures by allowing the court to “take into consideration”  lots of crimes that he could not have committed  (“The coppers asked me to TIC a load of stuff, so I thought what-the-hell”). As far as I know, he is still an occasional guest of the Crown.

I was reminded of Chris because he was the only teetotaller I ever knew. He screwed his life up without alcohol.

There’s hope for all of us.

p.s. A week after my return to the UK, I was sitting in a London restaurant with a French friend. The waiter came over and asked which wine we would like to order. My friend pointed to the “carte” and said,  “Thees one. Ze Peenk”. The waiter smiled and helped my friend. “We call it Rosé, sir,” he sniffed.  I ate my napkin.

(Life expectancy in France is 81.5 years. In the United Kingdom, it is 79.5 years.)

Gaddafi – mad, bad or “fitted-up”

Politicians are pack animals and their chosen mode of transport is the bandwagon.  They have now gathered around Gaddafi and individually are beginning to bite lumps out of him and then scuttling back to the pack  in order to give the next one the opportunity to rip-off another strip.  The name of the game is isolationism.

The United Nations is busying itself condemning Muammar Gaddafi while simultaneously, the UN Human Rights Council is about to adopt a report which praises Libya’s human rights record. The report  extols Libya for improving its education and  constitutional framework. Several countries have made a special mention of the new legal protections which Libyan citizens now enjoy and the report praises Libyas efforts in making human rights “a priority”.  

The report was put together as a result of the Council’s November 2010 session but now, because of recent and ongoing events in Libya, it seems that it was all a collective “mistake” ( by 47 countries).

UN Watch, a  Geneva-based quango, is demanding that  the report be withdrawn and “the truth” be printed. It seems that in a matter of days, Gaddafi has gone from hero to zero but more importantly, the principle of “doublethink” exposes the United Nations as an organisation which deals in expediency rather than truth.

A few days ago, with encouragement from the United States, the Human Rights Council council passed a new  resolution condemning Libya’s abuses in response to the latest unrest. The Council has called for an international inquiry and has  recommended that Libya’s membership of the Council be suspended.

We have accepted that Gaddafi is “mad”, “deluded” and “isolated”.  But that seems to be at odds with the rather unedifying sight, just a few years ago of Tony Blair trying to get Gaddafi in a clinch and the unbounded joy as BP signed a deal with Libya. Then we had the rather speedy release of Al Megrahi from prison because of his yet-to-be-terminal prostate cancer.

Gaddafi seemed to have been fully rehabilitated and the propaganda machine painted him as maybe a bit eccentric but definitely doing his best towards his people.

Yesterday, when  Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s Middle East editor interviewed the Libyan leader, Gaddafi confirmed that the people “loved him” and that his security forces had been ordered NOT to shoot at his people. 

Elsewhere, the Americans are talking about  Gaddafi “slaughtering” his people.

In propaganda battles of this type, the truth is often the first casualty. So where is the truth hiding?

The reportage from Libya is biased against the Libyan leader and most will say “and quite right too”. However, in the interests of balance, let’s look at another scenario – probably ficticious and purely an illustration of another view.

Imagine a leader who lives an isolated life whilst at the same time, delegating the day-to-day running of the country to his family and trusted aides. He is an ex-soldier and not even remotely interested in the more mundane aspects of administration. He sees himself, not as a dictator but as a figurehead. He is a titular Head of State, such as we have here in the UK . He does not manage – he reigns.

One day, his subjects hear and see demonstrations in adjoining countries and think “We can do that. That democracy lark looks good”.

The street activities in Egypt and Tunisia gave the ordinary voiceless Libyan confidence and resolve, courage and hope.  They prepare placards and go out onto the streets because they too want “democracy”. What they all REALLY want is the  affluence which so-called democratic countries appear to enjoy and a fair share of the oil billions which their leader mistakenly continues to  confuse with his own money.

An air force general and a head of security services both see an opportunity. The air force general orders one of his planes to make a couple of low passes and shoot a few rounds into the gathering crowd. He then orders a couple of pilots to fly abroad and denounce the leader. The air force general then resigns and calls a press conference, blaming his leader for giving orders to kill protesters.

The Security Chief is persuaded by a well-known secret agency belonging to a big Western power. He orders  troops to shoot a few more protesters, then resigns and denounces the leader.

Meanwhile, the leader is in his bunker, being fed good news by his flunkeys. After all, people who once gave the leader bad news mysteriously disappeared.

Ambassadors, diplomats and other senior people all over the world suddenly withdraw their allegiance and denounce the leader.  They resign for a variety of reasons, ranging from self-preservation to being participants in a bigger oil-conspiracy.

Meanwhile, the leader is wondering what all the fuss is all about. After all, he loves his country and specifically requested that his people should not be harmed. He continues to be fed good news and (not unreasonably) declares that the people all love him.

However, his son (who was once very popular among London’s tosserati) then blows his democratic credentials by waving a gun in front of a crowd and declaring that they will fight “to the last bullet”.

Although it is very likely that the leader’s supporters are still measured in millions, Western media continue to only interview individuals who are anti-leader. Close-ups of burning vehicles and bodies in the streets give the impression that many thousands of the country’s citizens have been “slaughtered”.  In fact, the big Western power now openly uses the s-word.

The world’s political pack closes the air-space over the leader’s land and his country’s money is stolen by the politicians who by now, sense that the leader is blissfully oblivious of the fact that he is terminally wounded and has no escape.

He has been totally encircled. The politicians have closed ALL the doors and then paradoxically, tell him to “get out”. Understandably, the leader feels very let down and betrayed  because a few days ago, the same openly aggressive  politicians used to be his friends.

The politicians are already slavering over the prospect of rebuilding contracts, mining, oil and of course….more oil.

So what of the bruised and battered “truth”? Well, that’s purely relative.

A few days ago, the United Nations were about to publish a report praising the truth of Libya’s new approach to human rights. Now, the truth is that they are dealing with a deluded murderer who kills his own people. A genocidal maniac.

The truth always depends on where you are standing.

….and here are a couple of reminders from the family album:

and of course:


The Halo effect.


I have dealt with politicians for many years and one of the first things that I learned was to distinguish between real ability and perceived ability. The Halo Effect.

Most politicians (except close chums of the PM) –  have to go through a selection and an election process. Once they are elected and become a Member of Parliament, nothing changes, except that they have a new job. Their abilities remain exactly where they were the day before the election but many seem to believe that they have become “canonised” and for some, “The Venerable” would fit far better than the pedestrian ” Hon member”.

So what is the Halo Effect? It is simply our mis-perception of someones abilities and traits, based on other abilities or traits. For instance, when you see a photo of a particularly attractive woman, you make a perceptual decision about her voice, her personality etc – all based on one small item of information.

We assume that tall people are more intelligent. We assume that someone wearing a Barbour and holding a Purdey shotgun will talk in a certain way and has a certain amount of money. We assume that if someone has one quality, we can load them with others.

If you have a child, you will understand that he or she assumes that dad or mum can do anything, from dressing a wound to mending Thomas the Tank Engine. To your child, you can do anything. Your halo is the biggest that it will ever be. To your baby, you are ALL halo!

In management and politics, many organisational mistakes are made – more so in politics because of the perceived attributes and skills of those who engage in politics. The motley mixture of ex-union men, solicitors, barristers and teachers who attend Westminster tend to play with a very narrow skill-set, yet in many cases, they imagine that have suddenly been blessed with the lot! 

In politics, because someone is eloquent, he or she can be imbued with an amazing array of skills. The sad fact is that important skills such as negotiating , organisational and management skills are NOT acquired through osmosis but have to be learned and trained.

I have met politicians who are embarrassed to be trained in ANYTHING because their ego and self-perceived status hold them back. That’s purely because of their belief in their own immortality and omnipotence. On too many occasions, they are promoted to fail  – and very often, they do. Hence the rather blunt instrument that is the Cabinet reshuffle.

If you think about it, the Cabinet Reshuffle is no more than a Prime Minister’s admission that he is not very good at recruitment and selection. I have often said to senior executives:  ” Either you promoted the wrong man, recruited the wrong man or have failed to manage him  properly. So whose fault is it that there has been a screw-up?”

When a Prime Minister promotes someone to a key job, he cannot do so purely on ability. Not-only have promises been made, advisers consulted, friendships cemented and length of service considered but there is also the question that president Johnson coined:

“Do I want him outside the tent  pissing-in, OR should I have him inside the tent, pissing out?” 

ACTUAL ability and the correct set of skills for the job is way-down a long list. Many boxes have to be ticked before something as mundane as “fit for purpose” is considered.

Which brings me neatly to William Hague. He is an excellent  speaker and as a result of making himself look a prat at the 1976 Conservative Party Conference, he became a “face”.

Now, 35 years later, all that he has behind him is a long political career without ever  having had the benefit of  having had to manage his way out of the sort of crisis that he was presented when British subjects needed to be repatriated from Libya.

But because he is a nice man, a good speaker and because of the title of Foreign Secretary,we assumed that he could complete the simple task of sending a plane to Tripoli without his boss having to apologise for what looks like a major screw-up and PR disaster. William is not ruthless enough to be a leader. He’s proved that once  already – and that includes leading the United Kingdom’s Foreign policy.

The “reciprocal” of the Halo Effect is the Reverse Halo Effect. Once someone screws-up one thing, we assume that everything else that he touches will be a disaster. That happened to Gordon Brown. 

Mind you, he was a History graduate, ex-University lecturer and was totally and utterly unsuitable for a management job. He would have been stressed to breaking point and this manifested itself in his total ability to make a decision. Once we found out what he was really like, his fate was sealed. Once he’d acquired the “indecisive” sobriquet, no amount of PR could help him. That’s the power of the Reverse Halo.

 Again, Brown was a thoroughly decent man but like Hague, not fit for purpose.

In the same way that Hague’s halo manifested itself during his 1976 speech, the Reverse Halo is now in place – then it’s down to nothing more than David Cameron’s humanity, loyalty,  patience and judgement.

Meanwhile, William has to be careful. Some of us haven’t forgotten the hat. Or the hair:

In the steps of Jesus?


Henry Bellingham, (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Africa and the United Nations), Foreign and Commonwealth Office, made a statement last week about the expenses incurred by the taxpayer as a result of Pope Ratzinger’s visit to the United Kingdom.

This was just a four-day visit and was promulgated as  not-only as a visit by a religious leader but because the Vatican  styles itself  as a sovereign state, the holy junket doubled as a State Visit. That meant  the men in frocks not-only delivered a bit of spiritual sustenance to the clamouring flock but broke bread in the company of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

For hundreds of years, Popes have lived  in the gilded Renaissance splendour of the Apostolic Palace. They don’t immerse themselves  in the daily travails of their “subjects” so they become strangers to both earthly humility and the economic limitations known to their flock –  until the very end – when they are buried.

Only then does it dawn on the Catholic church that the faithful need to be reminded of the Pope’s humanity. Consequently, he is placed in a simple cedarwood coffin. The coffin of a humble artisan. That modest box which always manages to look so  incongruous when it’s the focal point of the memorial service within the breathtaking majesty of St Peter’s Basilica. Much like the incongruity of old men in gold-threaded dresses telling us about a modest and poor Jesus who was sent “to save us” through the bizarre medium of the triple whammy: self-sacrifice, death and resurrection.

By the time our present pope lies in state, he will have completed his last costume change , been eased into his last designer dress , tilted his last handmade pope-chapeau and struck his last vaingloriously holy- heroic stance. The only real reminder of his primped popegotism will be a pair of immaculate red leather papal slippers. The peacockery will truly be over.

Pope Ratz will have lived the life – not of a humble shepherd or carpenter – but that of a full-on Rock Star. That is the spirit in which he met his British groupies (known collectively as CATHOLICS) when he flew in on the Popejet last year.

So what about the numbers for this four-day visit?

The total cost was in excess of £9 million, one third of which was towards media facilities. The cost of the aforementioned munch-out with the Queen was over £66,000 with a low-key supper with the Foreign Secretary coming in at a parsimonious £19,000.

The Taxpayer contributed £1.67 million for the open air beatification mass which honoured Cardinal Newman – after the required miracle had finally been identified.

 An American trainee deaconnamed Sullivan who suffered from Stenosis, says that his condition was cured after he offered up a prayer to Cardinal Newman. (Coincidentally, Pope Jean-Paul ll was beatified after a French nun was cured of Parkinson’s disease after she had prayed to  him).

The Catholics (and God) truly do look after their own.

 The full cost of Cardinal Newman’s Birmingham  beatification was well over £4 million but the balance was picked up by the church.

In spite of the Popemobile (transportation costs £34,000) and security,  insurance premiums added-up to nearly £147,000.  Although police and security costs were provided from existing budgets, the Metropolitan force forked-out £300,000 more than had been budgeted-for.

Airport costs were £60,000 and official baggage cost £34,500 to transport.

The pope’s entourage accumulated hotel, minibar and other accommodation costs of  £17,500

The £6.98 million costs of the state elements are being met by the public purse with the Catholic Church asked to reimburse the taxpayer by £6.35million for pastoral events.

Direct costs already met by UK Catholic churches are estimated at around £3.8million.

An estimated 500,000 people attended events during the pope’s four-day visit – but was it all worth it?

As a Public Relations exercise, it was worth a fortune to the Vatican because in spite of Richard Dawkins’ attempt to portray Pope Ratz as a cross-dressing baby-eating monster, the pontiff’s image was boosted.

He left the UK as everyone’s favourite uncle – after having arrived as a paedophile-harbouring Nazi Panto dame.

The Pope and his entourage could never understand the caricature that is the German accent – that is only for those with English as their first language. So, when Ratz addressed the great and good in Westminster Hall -in English – we were all waiting for the inevitable: ” Your Papers pleess!”….but sadly, it never came and even for us godless ones, he came across as a gently-spoken gentle-man.

There is little doubt that much of what the public saw was staged and the work of a good PR team. In other words, it was largely  a fiction. 

Purely on that basis, the Catholic church showed great consistency as its politics, pronouncements, ambiguities, image and beliefs all have that smoke-and-mirrors quality which – even after such a sumptuously bravura performance  –  paints Pope Ratz as a puzzle – a compelling but somehow emotionally-sterile enigma.


When you are very old.

So, where are your parents? Are you looking after them, keeping them active, taking them out to the Garden Centre or a drive round the countryside? Or have you forgotten them? Are they living on their own, pretending that they’re eating well and all you do is send the occasional birthday or Christmas card? Or, have you decided that your aged father or mother are beyond your help or perhaps they clash with your IKEA sofa and have become an embarrassment?

Perhaps you’ve bitten the bullet and put them  in a home and of course “They really love it in there. They’re with people of their own age and they are REALLY well looked after!!” Are you sure about that? Would you rather spend your old age with your family – your children and grandchildren or would you rather spend your last days in the company of other old, sick and drugged-up geriatrics?

For the moment, the choice is yours.

Here in the United Kingdom, we’re not very good with old people. Once they start talking crap and forgetting things , too often we feel that it’s time to hand them over to someone else. “What a lovely room, dad….and such nice people. You’ll be well looked after here!”. Can you imagine your aged mother’s or  father’s “euphoria” as the Old Peoples’ Home  door bangs shut for that first time and you finally breathe that sigh of relief. “It was for the best.”

Was it?

There’s absolutely no suggestion that the whole Care industry is bad  but it is just that. An industry.

An industry can feed our parent or grandparent and it can clothe and wash but it cannot relight the memories and emotions of the life that we once shared with them. Very often it is  emotional and spiritual “asphyxiation” which kills people and not any lack of food or drink.

Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham has just published a report about the NHS and its relationship with old people. She concludes that the “NHS is failing to meet even the most basic standards of care for old people”. Here are a couple of direct quotes:

“Mr D had advanced stomach cancer and wanted to die at home. When his daughter arrived to collect him from hospital, she found him sitting behind a closed curtain in distress. He had been left for several hours, was in pain, desperate to go to the toilet and unable to ask for help because he was so dehydrated that he could not speak or swallow. The emergency button had been placed out of his reach, his drip had been removed, fallen and had leaked all over the floor. At home, the family discovered Mr D had not been given the right pain relief and spent the weekend driving around trying to obtain the correct medication before he died”.

“Mrs H was admitted to hospital after having a fall at home. She suffered further falls while in hospital and broke her collar bone, but her niece, who was her only relative, was not told. Mrs H was transferred by ambulance to a care home. When she arrived at the home, she had numerous injuries, was soaked with urine and was dressed in clothing that did not belong to her and that was held up with large paper clips”.

Last year the Ombudsman accepted twice as many cases for investigation about older people as for all other age groups put together.

Old people can be very hard work and sometimes extremely annoying as well as a drain on our time. Just as we were when they were bringing us up.

We now have the medical ability to prolong life  and very soon we shall be able to prolong it indefinitely. Our contemporary attitudes and methods should be telling us that our sociological development is lagging some way behind our technical expertise and it does not look as if we’re making much of a realistic effort to bridge that gap.

Prolonging life  whilst NOT being able to preserve its quality results in the Health Ombudsman telling us:

These often harrowing accounts should cause every member of NHS staff who reads this report to pause and ask themselves if any of their patients could suffer in the same way. I know from my caseload that in many cases, the answer must be “yes”. The NHS must close the gap between the promise of care and compassion outlined in its Constitution and the injustice that many older people experience. Every member of staff, no matter what their job, has a role to play in making the commitments of the Constitution a felt reality for patients.”

The NHS Constitution? The mistreatment of old people has nothing at all to do with constitutions and has everything to do with natural human  compassion, decency and the moral obligation that we all have, to treat or senior citizens as equals and not as former human beings.

Recently, politicians have been talking about “The Broken Society”. They are right. It is because our society is “broken” that we treat our old people as figures of fun and inconvenience rather than behaving with affection and respect.

Our National Health Service would function much more efficiently if we were not in such a hurry to offload our parents and grandparents to be looked after by (often incompetent) strangers.

There are many old people still around who belong to a generation which was brought up to fear authority and through that fear,  learned respect for their fellow human beings. Nothing wrong with that – that’s all that they had at the time.  They are now being looked after by this generation which, in the main, has absolutely no concept of those quaint  “old -fashioned” values. A generation which does not respect its own parents and frightens old people (sometimes) to death.

What about the NHS’ failings described so eloquently bythe Ombudsman? In keeping with all the other NHS issues – it is a management problem which regrettably, from the preening 911-driving consultant to the non English-speaking nurse, does not exist in the form that it should.

So, when you’ve packed the old man’s case and driven him to a hospital or nursing home, just before you walk into reception, look at him properly. Remember.

Then, look him in the eyes and think.

I have included a Comments Box on this post for those of you who are either looking after old relatives or who may have had them incarcerated in an Old People’s Home.

The organogram.

This is a simple analogy, specifically designed for those new to management. The message is simple:

When top level people look down, they see shit. When bottom-level people look up, all they see are assholes.

This applies to every activity which has the benefit of a hierarchical structure – from politics and the army to manufacturing and the service industries.

(Our sister site, is undergoing a name-change and a revamp.)

Lie of the Tiger

“Hole in one”

 Tiger Woods has apologised publicly in a heartfelt, sincere, genuine and  earnest press conference written by his public relations company. The Act of Contrition took place before family, friends and a hand-picked audience. Tiger’s words have now gone to the world through  The Holy White Forest of Satellite Dishes  and have displaced all major tragedies and wars from the headlines.

Presumably, his performance will have been followed by him getting a few holes in. Sorry, but the jokes just keep coming. (Oops!) Impossible to resist. Public self-flagellation has never been carried-off successfully and all that was missing  from this particular show was the “dignified” wife. The formula for this type of event , although  well-established is still simultaneously cringe-making, insincere, tragic and funny. Celebrity pantomime at its best.

“I am so sorry”.   “What I did is unacceptable and I am the only person to blame.”  That latter line was a bit pointless because it has always been difficult to blame anyone else for serial adultery. We’ll never know what motivated him to develop the morals of an alley cat but the sad fact is that through his position and success, he had direct access to the sort of amateur hooker that most men can only dream of.

That old saying that when God created man, he gave him a brain and a penis but only enough blood to operate one at a time has never been more apt.

“Today I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find it in your heart to believe in me again.”

Really Tiger, there’s no point in asking the press for help because you’ve never liked the press and they’ve never  really liked you. The press will continue to be sceptical and that, in the long term is probably a good thing. It might help you to keep it in your trousers.

To put things into perspective , no-one died and no-one was maimed and it’s a pity that the Tiger’s horizontal habits can attract more media attention than the repatriated coffin of a young soldier who died fighting for his country. This time, the only lives which were ruined were his own family’s but the billion or so in the bank ought to take the edge off any discomfort.

What of the lives of the bimbos that he screwed? They have been the bit-part players in this saga – or more accurately, the chorus. Without doubt, their lives have been vastly  enhanced through being nailed by the Tiger. Their spreads with Tiger have been rewarded with spreads in glossy magazines. The only remarkable thing is that they all seem to conform to a single Identifit – Central Casting Caucasian Bimbette – and as repetitiously predictable as a long photocopier run. Incidentally, one would hate to accuse Tiger Woods of racism but he does not seem too keen on black girls – only leggy blondes with big tits.

Amnesic sponsors are already forming a queue, chequebooks at the ready while Tiger “mends” his marriage and  “spends time with those most important to him.” .  Oh yes, then there’s the not insignificant matter of the sex-therapy. It is no longer possible to have a high sex-drive and to want to nail anything that moves – nowadays, it has to be a disease ; an addiction. Money, success and power have always been powerful aphrodisiacs and only become an “addiction” when you are caught.

There’s nothing like a cry for help to soften even the most hardened and uncompromising critic.

Surely, an addiction only develops after one has become dependant and dependency is a function of frequency. That is why the sex addiction syndrome (which was probably invented by Michael Douglas’ publicist) is such a nonsense. Most men (and women) will screw if the right circumstances  and opportunities present themselves. Tiger was merely a victim of circumstance, statistics and mega-opportunity.

So, what’s the future for Tiger Woods? The future’s Orange, or Nike, or Gillette and will be provided by any number of already-slavering marketing departments. 

Meanwhile, his image appears damaged beyond total repair unless of course he does something  so utterly fantastic that it would totally overshadow his innumerable indiscretions – but it wouldn’t be easy and would have to appeal to middle America and its own addiction to home-grown heroes.

To paraphrase David Letterman:  “Perhaps if he were to bring-in Bin Laden on a golf cart and then land it in the Hudson river – that might be a start.”

In praise of Alcohol

Alcohol has not only become an occasional part of our lives but it has evolved into one of the strongest influences on our civilisation. As Homer Simpson said in his famous toast: ” To alcohol. the cause-of and solution-to all of life’s problems.”

Alcohol has always oiled the wheels of  our business, commercial, spiritual, political and social lives – and continues to do so. It can be harmless but it is also very addictive.

“Alcoholism is a disease”  is an oft-used phrase. It is NOT a disease. A disease is a natural occurrence, whereas alcoholism is a condition that is induced by poisoning the body and mind to such an extent that neither can function correctly without the presence of alcohol.

The suffix “ism” (unfortunately) lends some sort of quasi-respectability to self-poisoning and somehow fashions to abrogate an individual’s responsibility to himself.

Alcohol , in its thousands of beautiful shapes and flavours is a substance for all reasons and seasons. It  induces everything from affection and love, to vomiting, wife-beating and murder. That is how versatile it is.

We have well and truly popped the cork and released not-only the fun-bubbles of weekend binge drinking but also a mind and body-sapping genie that definitely will not go back in the bottle.

“Education is the answer”, “The Government needs to do something” and ” Don’t exceed the recommended number of units” are regularly trotted-out Mantras.

The problem of alcohol consumption – especially among the young, is that it is a problem without solution. It is too late. There are no quick fixes.

What does alcohol do for you?

1. It makes you feel good.

2. It makes you feel more confident.

3. It makes you wittier.

4. It makes you feel better-looking.

5. It makes you more attractive to the opposite sex.

6. If you are a man – it makes you tough and fearless.

7. It gives you a temporary respite from a shit life.

8. It gets you laid.

Those are just a few of the good things that alcohol does for you. The price to pay for all the benefits in the above list may be a hangover, a damaged liver or even waking up next to a monster. But like it or not, for most people, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Today, both political parties are promulgating their “new” ways of micro-managing the nation’s drinking habits as the result  of a report which claims that in England and Wales, over 40,000 people die every year from alcohol-related illnesses. (Presumably Scotland’s figures were omitted from the report because there just weren’t enough zeros available).

The Labour Party has suggested that proof of age is demanded by retailers from anyone who looks under 18. They also want to ban “speed-drinking” contests or other “promotions” and have tap water available in bars and clubs as well as offering “small measures”.  It would seem that originality continues to hold  Labour at arm’s length.

Not  to be outdone, the Conservatives want to give local councils the power to charge a levy on bars and clubs whose customers cause ” late-night problems”. (That will be a very tempting to any bar or club owner who wishes to remove the competition). The Tories also suggest more duty on “problem drinks” as well as shutting-down premises which break the rules.

Everything that can be tried by government and taxes to curb alcohol abuse has already been tried and failed. This is another example of attempted social engineering by legislation – and it is a waste of time.

I have seen alcohol abuse in our local pub, I have seen it at dinner parties, in the streets and even in the Members’  Bar at Westminster. My family doctor was a chronic alcoholic and our local priest wasn’t always as steady on his feet as he could have been. 

Alcohol has soaked into every recess of our society and until our whole society makes some attempt to “dry-out” – it is pointless in targetting young people whose excessive drinking is only so apparent because it is primarily the young whose natual habitat is the club or pub.  The very public nature of their drinking has made the young the primary target for a lazy media.

What about the sad middle-aged, middle-class lush who spends endless hours sitting in front of a television set, stamping out his or her own personal reality with the aid of a bottle of Chardonnay and ending each evening as drunk as a fiddler’s bitch, staggering up to a cold and lonely bed.

What’s the difference in attitude to alcohol between the studied arty lassitude of a secretly-alcoholic college professor sitting in the sunshine of a London  Embankment cafe, peering at the Spectator through his “demi-lunes” as he takes an occasional sip from his ice-cold Pastis and the naked aggression of the drunk sitting on a concrete bollard ten feet away , talking to himself and swigging  noisily from a plastic bottle of White Lightning. The only differences are probably £5000 per month and clean underwear. Their feelings towards alcohol are identical.

Alcohol is a friend to the young, the old, the poor and rich. It is society’s great leveller.

The majority of people who die of alcohol-related disease are not young – they are old.  At first, alcohol is their special friend and comforter and only becomes their enemy  when it’s time to die. Even then, they find it impossible to turn their backs on a lifelong chum.

So what’s the answer? There is no answer. Most of   those who look at life through the bottom of a glass do not end up in the gutter or in a body-bag.  Warning notices on bottles, increased taxation and fake IDs will do nothing to solve the “problem”.

Many years ago, alcohol could be bought in pubs and off-licences. That was the control.

Nowadays, alcohol can be bought anywhere so perhaps what at first appears to be a social issue is no more than a distribution problem.

Whatever the politicians decide, there is without doubt a certain symmetry to standing at the bar, cigarette in one hand, bottle of drink in the other and a helpful health warning on each.  


Ricky “Tumbleweed” Gervais

The 2010 Golden Globes gave Ricky “Tumbleweed” Gervais the opportunity to disprove one of the basic laws of life: “Throw enough shit at a wall and some of it is bound to stick.”  None of it stuck.

I have always believed that the sweaty-Womble-lookalike Gervais has perpetrated the longest and most successful con-trick that showbusiness has ever seen. His series “The Office” was quite funny in parts but although it “starred” Gervais, it is the genius of Stephen Merchant which made the series what it was.

Gervais’ appearance at the 2007 Wembley Diana Concert provided several minutes of car-crash television – presumably in tribute to the dead princess. He was appalling and yet, some Gervais “Emperor’s New Clothes” fans, who cannot see the sweaty fat one doing any wrong were saying things like ” Knowing Ricky, he probably screwed up on purpose.” No, he did not screw up on purpose and the proof was at this year’s Golden Globes.

I must admit that I had great difficulty watching Gervais performing the comedy equivalent of an assisted suicide and by the time the whole procedure was over, I had chewed through not-only the backs of my knuckles but a TV remote and the back of a sofa. It was painful. “Cringe-o-vision” at its spectacular worst.

He was the wrong man in the wrong place, telling the wrong “jokes”.  His manner and delivery may have gone down really well at a life assurance convention but not in a room full of millionaire film people – most of whom had perhaps seen him once in 2004 and  quite rightly, forgotten him.

Jonathan Ross is a bit naughty and at the height of his powers would have made the ceremony slick, topical and funny with just the right dash of irreverent affection – which Ross undoubtedly has for Hollywood and its inmates. Gervais is an outsider – a pretender without the class, wit or presence to drive such a ceremony anywhere except into the ground. He had no place on that podium which makes one wonder whether his agent is the same person who once sold the Eiffel Tower  to an American. That is how good his agent must be.

( If you want to present next year’s Globes or maybe the Oscars, you will find Gervais agent HERE.)

So Mel Gibson was convicted for being drunk about four years ago, Paul McCartney is a god in the USA so Heather Mills jokes are not funny, Colin Farrell was a hellraiser, Hollywood plastic surgery is sometimes mocked – but only in the UK.  Gervais attempted to squeeze doubtful humour out of old news and spectacularly broke Rule 2 of comedy:  “Don’t embarrass your audience.”

(The First Rule  of Comedy is hardly worth mentioning because Gervais has always worked outside the constraints of the basic First Rule.)   Rule 1 is : ” Be funny”

The hapless Gervais was reading his “jolly japes” and his total lack of comedic depth-of-experience was exemplified by his delivery of the punchline to the cosmetic surgery “joke”.  No timing, no delivery……nothing.  ‘Just looking at all the faces here reminds me of the great work that’s been done this year (pause) by cosmetic surgeons. You all look great. ‘

(One American critic described Gervais as  ” Surprisingly uninspired”.  Too kind.

Gervais has not only damaged his own reputation but it will probably be many years before the Americans allow their award ceremony producers to risk another C-list Englishman to mess with their religion.

You want Fame?


I am looking for one person who wishes to take part in an unusual experiment. One of my businesses is a Public Relations company. We normally only take-on projects which are guaranteed to make money but this particular proposed project is more of a bet than a revenue-generating idea.

We believe that ANYONE can be made “famous” or “well-known”, even if they have never achieved anything particularly mind-blowing. We are looking for a volunteer who would like his or her name out there but it has to be a person who has never had their name in the media.

It will not cost the volunteer anything – the only thing that we are looking for is that you should have done something reasonably interesting or if you have something interesting to say and that you are American.

If you are interested, please Tweet, or leave your email on this post with reasons why you wish to be famous and I will send you further details. Please RT. 

Twenty-one 2010 predictions

On 15th May 2008, I predicted the nationalisation of British Banks. 

On 20th April 2009, I predicted that by the end of the year the FTSE 100 would fall to below 2500

On 3rd November 2009, I predicted the collapse of the dollar and of the pound-sterling 

The first prediction has come to pass – in all but name. The third prediction is about to come true. The FTSE 100 prediction of 2500 was out by a factor of over 100% – so what happened? Quantitative Easing is what happened. Very few of us could have predicted that the Bank of England would start to generate free money, hand it to the banks and allow them to use it to gamble on the stock markets and continue to declare false profits.

Currently, the FTSE 100 stands at over 5400 but this value is totally unsustainable. It is a false dawn. Bankers are now daring to predict that we will not have a “double-dip” recession and that everything seems to be looking rosy. When the dollar and pound collapse and the pound is worth the same or less that the Euro, we will see some real (genuine) action on the world’s stock exchanges.

The critical time in 2010 will not be the first quarter but the second –  because Q2 will contain not-only the beginning of the new tax year but also the General Election and the frightening spectre of the Liberals holding the balance of power. The only good thing that would come out of such a result would be Vince Cable as Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Here are the 2010 predictions.

1. The collapse of the dollar and the pound – with the pound achieving a value of 0.9 Euros and the dollar achieving parity with the pound.

2. An accelerated move away from the concept of Anthropogenic (Man made) Global Warming.

3. The United Kingdom being down-graded by the rating agencies – based on its inability to service its current debts.

4. Bankers, Financiers and financial journalists will finally run out of metaphors to describe the apalling state of the British economy.

5. Conservatives will win the  General Election but without an overall majority.

6. Stock Market crash  .

7. 10% more British retailers to go out of business.

8. Arsenal to win the Premiership.

9. The beginnings of civil unrest in the United Kingdom. 

10. AFNAJ ( Artist formerly known as Jordan) hospitalised – inevitable progression. Woo Woo land beckons.

11. Another scandal involving Jeffrey Archer – it’s about time and will include at least one of his editors or maybe Jeffrey’s well-travelled trouser department or maybe the Kurds’ missing millions. We’ll see what we can do.

12. A well-known rock star will succumb to “prescription drugs”. (That’s an easy one because it is an annual event.)

13. The Queen will visit China. It’s about time and someone has to hold the begging bowl.

14. United Kingdom unemployment will be over 3 million.

15. At least one large bank will move its operations offshore.

16. The Americans will threaten to invade Iran. The Russians and Chinese will tell them to “butt-out”.

17. The cost of an  iPhone will be halved because of competition from Google and Android.

18. iSlate will be the “must have” 2010 Christmas present. (Apple has just bought

19. The Miliband brothers will be tasked with rebuilding the Labour Party.

20. Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah will write a book and become a television chat-show host.

21. Someone from Goldman Sachs will tell the world how Executive Order 12631 has been abused both to their and the US Government’s benefit.

Experts? You’re f*****g joking!


There is a class of individual in politics, industry  and commerce to whom people turn when they do not have the answers and that is the ubiquitous “expert”.

The experts  are the “shamen” of our economy and judging by past results – just as successful.

The experts are the ones who either predict global warming or perhaps another ice-age. They predict economic growth and economic catastrophe – sometimes simultaneously. The recent Copenhagen Conference of Global Warming had more experts per square metre than have been gathered for years and what a blinding success that was!

In spite of their seemingly random predictions, experts do all have one thing in common – they can be a severe drain on a business or even an entire economy. They wait for you to cross their palms with (lots of) silver and then they tell you things. There are analysts, forecasters and pundits of all flavours. They don’t make anything, they don’t start anything, they don’t create. They are an expense and they cost an economy billions. The frightening thing is that the cult of the expert is growing.

How many experts predicted last year’s banking crisis? Although, like bad astrologers, some are now claiming (in retrospect) that they did know that the world’s banking system was heading for meltdown.

So, before you ever hire an expert, do remember that their opinions are mostly subjectively random and the next time that you hear an investment expert or economist speaking, listen carefully to his language. Like any good soothsayer, he will talk in riddles, mysteries, parables and metaphors.

For instance, the economy will not “grow by 50% in the next two years.”  It is far more likely that the economy will be like “An airliner gathering speed along the runway, trying to take off against the bitter winds of global recession with all of us strapped in as reluctant but committed passengers”. 

Weather metaphors as well as natural disaster analogies are favourites to entertain and confuse us.

The Daily telegraph wrote: “The financial tsunami that has engulfed Wall Street since the weekend hit these shores yesterday”

The Guardian explains last year’s rush to dump shares: “It’s like having a fire in a cinema. Everybody is rushing to the door. You are rushing to the door because everyone is rushing to the door. Clearly, as a collective action, it is a disaster.” 

The Daily Mail: “This is about being in a bigger house in the middle of a financial hurricane. In the last fortnight we have seen financial titans falling like skittles.” 

Henry  Paulson was accused of “activating a financial Doomsday machine” and of turning “his guns on his own side”

A banker told The Times “The world is on the brink. The market is puking all over us”

All very entertaining you might think – and obviously harmless. However, the sad fact is that their chances of accuracy and consistency are very low.  Below are a few extracts from the media – gathered over six months. The significant words are highlighted in blue – they are not inventions but are direct quotes:


“According to official figures, UK retail sales fell in November.The figures came as a surprise to many economists, who expected consumer spending to fuel economic recovery.”

“According to official figures, UK public sector net borrowing hit a record high of £20.3 billion in November. The figure was the highest for any month since records began but was less than economists had expected.”

“Unemployment will peak at 2.8 million – lower than expected by economists.”

“The Treasury expects economic expansion of 1.25% in the fiscal year 2010, rising to 3.5% in each of the following two years.”

“US producer prices rose more than expected in November.”

“In the United Kingdom, more children than expected have had swine flu’ “

“UK borrowing ballooned by a higher than expected £11.4 billion in October”.

“The risk of blood clots after surgery is higher than expected.”

“Shares in Yell are heading in the right direction after the directories group announced a £660m cash call – bigger than expected.”

“British consumer price inflation slowed much less than expected”.

“N2O emissions from tundra peatlands higher than expected.”

“Householders will pay higher than expected water bills in the coming years.”

“Australia’s economy grew a lower-than-expected 0.2 percent in the third quarter, official data showed.”

“The number of applications by care providers to detain people who lack capacity is one-third the level expected.”

“Global demand for crude oil in 2009 will narrow by less than previously expected.”

“In the United Kingdom, 20,000 students have committed to taking the new diplomas courses which started in September.That is at least 20,00 fewer than expected.”

“The Government’s stamp-duty holiday on properties sold for less than £175000 has not helped nearly as many homeowners as expected.”

“The finished human genome contains even fewer genes than expected.”

“US private sector sheds more jobs than expected.”

“Global warming may kill fewer species than expected.”


There can only be TWO conclusions – experts not-only “expect” but they also appear to be constantly surprised.

Vomito ergo sum


If you feel something hairy in your mouth, followed by your underpants – swallow it all quickly.”

This is not the first time that I have written about the rather eccentric attitude that the Brits have towards alcohol. The capacity for alcohol, as in “He can really take it” or  “She’s got hollow legs” is widely misunderstood.

If you are a very healthy and fit person, your capacity for alcohol is quite low and the effects multiply. If  however, you are a regular piss-artist  and your insides and brain are totally screwed-up because of too much booze, your tolerance to alcohol is quite good. Nothing to boast about.

Government figures have been released showing that last year more than 800,000 people  were admitted to hospital for alcohol-related injuries and disease. No doubt, the Government will publish some irrelevant  edict in the vain hope of putting the brakes on our drinking but Spygun feels that they should adopt a more innovative approach.

The “So what?” approach. 

Homo Sapiens is a species with a death-wish and damaging our insides using the various forms of ethanol that we consume, is just another manifestation of our overwhelming need to kill ourselves. Leave us alone.

There is one other thing that the Government would be wise to remember. Anyone who has been pissing it up for say 20 years and is now the proud owner of  a liver which has the consistency of a house brick,  has paid for his hospital treatment through the duty that the Exchequer has robbed him of every time he walked up to the bar and said “Same again”.

The same applies to the lonely fat bird sitting on her sofa with a luke-warm “meal-for-one”, corkscrew,  bottle of Chardonnay and another one in the fridge. Leave her alone. At least she’ll be too pissed to remember where she left that box of Milk Tray.

We also hear that there are now more women drunks than 20 years ago. So what? Children are starting to drink alcohol soon after they have been potty trained. So what? Leave them alone.

“Don’t give children under 15 any alcohol” is the latest stupid government pronouncement.

Have a look at .  Very high VOM rating there as well. So what?

Click here.   Makes you proud, doesn’t it.

Spygun is not a piss artist but will defend to the death everyone’s right to kill themselves in any way they wish.

Anyway, where would stray dogs be without wino-vomit.

Gobbledygook awards

Congratulations.The Plain English Campaign has awarded the Golden Bull to the following (translations are provided in brackets):

Peter Mandelson: Perhaps we need not more people looking round more corners but the same people looking round more corners more thoroughly to avoid the small things detracting from the big things the Prime Minister is getting right. (MPs need better scrutiny – not more scrutiny)

The Department of Health: Primary prevention includes health promotion and requires action on the determinants of health to prevent disease occurring. It has been described as refocusing upstream to stop people falling in the waters of disease. ( Doctors can prevent diseases)

Equity Red Star Insurance: Any endorsement number shown in this schedule but not included in the endorsement appendix shall be deemed to apply and form part of the appendix the endorsements bearing such number(s) being attached or previously applied. ( The listed endorsement do apply to this policy)

Learning an Skills Development Service: The government calls insistently for more innovation. But doing things in a new way will not necessarily lead to better outcomes. So, what do we mean by innovation? We share the thinking of, for example, the Work Foundation, which sees innovation not ‘as a set of discrete and singular moments of change’ but rather as ‘a culture or process in which drivers of change are embedded in and facilitated by the strategic outlook of the organisation. To draw an analogy from nature, innovation may be thought of as the new season’s growth rather than a series of isolated bright ideas. ( It’s Change, init?) 

Dublin Airport: Neither the execution and delivery by the Consultant of this Agreement nor the consummation by it of any of the transactions contemplated hereby, requires, with respect to it, the consent or approval of the giving of notice to, the registration, with the record or filing of any document with, or the taking of any other action in respect of any government authority, except such as are not yet required (as to which it has no reason to believe that the same will not be readily obtainable in the ordinary course of business upon due application therefore) or which have been duly obtained and are in full force and effect. (This contract has you by the balls.)

Coca Cola: To outsource some aspects of our finance transactional processing activities… we will be transitioning certain transactional activities… there will be two primary impacts to your organisation… does not impact your current terms… aiming to minimise any disruption to our business, and we expect our performance levels to stabilise soon after the transition period. ( We will pay your invoice when we feel like it.)

JMJ Associates – Health and Safety Manual: Principle 4: IIF begins with a conversation for possibility… In the domain of safety, we have found people often do not distinguish between the conversations for possibility and conversations for probability, two vastly different conversations that produce vastly different results. Conversations for probability are common in organisational life, and they help predict the future based on what has occurred in the past. Conversations for possibility are much less common and they help us create futures that we could not have predicted from the past, something ‘making the impossible possible’. The language of probability owns the mind and the language of possibility owns the heart; once the heart has embraced what is possible, the mind will never see things the same again.”  (Shit happens. Be ready)

Balaclava Public School. Letter to parents:

Dear parent/Guardians,

The Grade 7 Science classes are nearing the completion for the unit Pure Substances and Mixtures. In this unit, students have been introduced to the Particle Theory of Matter, and to some of the terminology related to the field of chemistry. They have also been given the opportunity to explore, and conduct experiments related to the properties of solutions and mechanical mixtures. At this time all students are encouraged to discuss with you the content and expectations of the culminating task along with how it will be assessed. This culminating task allows students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills that he/she has learned throughout the module. Although students are responsible to independently complete this task, we would very much appreciate your assistance for the experimenting component, as students require access to a kitchen and some ingredients to develop their own mixture.

Thank you in advance for your interest and co-operation.

( Your child will be making cupcakes at home.) 

Warning No.2


You should be alert during the next few days. Do not open any message
with an attachment entitled ‘POSTCARD FROM HALLMARK’ , regardless of who sent it to you. It is a virus which opens A POSTCARD IMAGE, which  ‘burns’the whole hard disc C of your computer.

This virus will be received from someone who has your e-mail address
inhis/her contact list. This is the reason why you need to send this
e-mailto all your contacts. It is better to receive this message 25 times
thanto receive the virus and open it.

If you receive a mail called’ POSTCARD,’ even though sent to you by a
friend, do not open it! Shut down your computer immediately. This is
the worst virus announced by CNN.

It has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus
ever.This virus was discovered by McAfee yesterday, and there is no repair
yet for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of
the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept.





Just is case you haven’t heard. Be careful when shopping on line. So far, over 1200 fake sites have been closed-down. Most of them look English but are based in Asia. They sell decent-looking goods very cheaply. If you order something, you will either receive nothing or counterfeit and your Credit Card may be ripped off.  Favourites are anything with a designer label or electrical and electronic goods.

Remember, if it looks too good to be true – it is.

Office Christmas Party – Survival tips.

” Sex is like snow. You never know how many inches you’re going to get or how long it will last.”

More promising careers have been ruined during the Office Christmas Party than at any other time.

If your company provides a free bar then be doubly careful. Drink as little as possible.

Leave getting plastered at the office bash to the spotty office junior. He is the one who drinks to get pissed as quickly as possible and is after a good time.

You are not there to have a good time. You can have a good time when you have climbed the corporate ladder. But if you have been careless and had a skinful, that 17 year snake-hipped trainee accountant can look doubly devastating. Very tempting! If he has downed several vodkas and his inhibitions have gone AWOL and he comes up to you and says ” Come on – dance with me” dance with him – but keep your distance. Do not touch. No crotch-grinding or butt-holding. You may not think it, but you are being watched.

The most common mistake is the prat or pratess who has far too much to drink and then bumps into the boss who is at the bar ordering another bitter lemon. The scenario plays itself out something like this: ” Hey boss, how ya doin’ ?”

Boss looks round to be confronted by a shiny grinning red face atop a cheap suit who then shouts across the bar ” Another double, Carlos and ‘ave one yourself. So George – ‘avin’ a good time?” Boss looks uncomfortable because he has been in this situation every year for the last ten years and only his wife calls him George.

Idiot grabs the half-pint of G&T and looks at George’s bitter lemon. “Can’t take it eh George? What you reckon then George. Great bunch eh George. You know you’ve got a good team there George. Brilliant they are! What’s your Missus reckon to you coming to these do’s with all this young talent then? Eh George?”

George smiles meekly as Idiot puts his arm around George and breathes sick-smelling breath into his face. George smiles because he knows exactly what Idiot is going to say next. “We’re like a faaamily here ain’t we George? Eh George? Faaaaaaaaamly – that’s what we are, George.”

George nods and he also knows the next line: ” Don’t get me wrong George because you know what you’re doing. But I’ve got a few ideas that I’d like to tell you about………..”

And so it goes on.

Finally George escapes and Idiot says to his mates from the Post Room ” That George – he’s a great bloke. Had a really good chat with ‘im. He liked my ideas. One of the lads ‘e is! Good bloke!”

Inhibitions are GOOD things to have – especially at the office party. Drink enough so as not to appear too stiff but be careful.

Business talk of any description is not for the Office Party. Small talk is.

Small talk is talking about nothing through a process of interruption and association of ideas. You need to be a master of small-talk. There is no short-cut to learning small-talk and it comes only with practice.

Talking social bollocks is a deceptively difficult art.

During the office party, someone will ask your boss to dance – this is normally taken as a cue that the boss is “approachable” – “one of us”. When your boss dances , look away. Certainly do not laugh – find someone to talk to – even an Accountant. By this stage of the party even the Accountants will have loosened the top button of their cardigans. As you engage the Accountant in a fascinating conversation on P/E ratios and Return-on-Capital-Employed, look out of the corner of your eye and you will see an uncoordinated object flailing about on the dance floor. It will be your boss.

There will be those who will be taking the mickey out of the boss’s self-conscious contortions. Avert your gaze , concentrate on the Accountant and practice yawning with your mouth shut. If you do happen to catch your boss’s eye, smile, give a thumbs-up and then look away immediately.

If you do happen to meet the boss at the bar, make a point of saying “Saw you bopping away there earlier. Still fit then?”

“Been doing this for years!”

” I could see that! Wow!” you reply as you slither away.

Other simple-to-follow rules such as do not vomit or lose consciousness are self-evident but it is always surprising the number of people who seem hell-bent on screwing their careers up by spilling their alcohol after they have drunk it and then going to sleep.

Incidentally, you will be constantly surprised by the number of beautiful young things whose boyfriends are garage mechanics called Gary or Dave. They always have dirty fingernails and an earring. They tend to have the brain (and the conversation) of an Isopod.

” So you’re Gary? Mandy’s told me all about you”. Mandy giggles into her Bailey’s.

” Pleased to meet you, Gary. Bye.” – End of conversation. Easy.

If you do get stuck with talking to Gary, he will probably ask you “what motor” you drive. You tell him ” Just an M5 BMW” . Gary will then tell you that he once serviced one and that he drives a white psycho-nutter bastard Fiesta 1.2 Megaspeed with a million watt quad channel CD stereo which once made his ears bleed at the traffic lights opposite Waitrose. Just smile politely and leave. Do not be tempted to out-talk him. He is too stupid.

There may come a time during the evening when your boss stands up to tell a “story” or even tell you a “joke”. Only one simple rule to follow here – laugh. Throw you head back and LAUGH! Remember your boss is the wittiest person on the planet. Never ever attempt to out-joke the boss. If you do, the boss will just smile politely and make a mental note. And if he tells a naughty joke, do not tell one back. You do not know any dirty jokes until you make it to the Boardroom.

Many potential executives arrive at the office party in outfits which are – how can one put it? – embarrassing. Make sure that whatever you wear to work-related social events is in keeping with your image. You have nothing to prove to the youngsters in the office. There is nothing more excruciating than a thirty or forty-something trying to look like a seventeen-year-old raver.

Also remember that you may think that you are looking cool on the dance floor “doing your own thing”. In fact, if you are over 25, it is impossible to look good on the dance floor. You are still doing the one step that you learned twenty years ago – it is only the ingestion of alcohol that has distorted your senses enough to lead you to believe that you are dancing. You are not dancing – you are flailing your arms about, clicking your fingers and stepping from side to side. That is not dancing – it is being an arse. Keep it to a minimum. In the three minutes that it takes for Jeff Beck to bang through Hi Ho Silver Lining, you can move from thrusting young executive to sad loser.

One trick is to move as little as possible when dancing on your own. Keep you feet still and just concentrate on the beat – that way you limit the prat-factor.

If your waist-size is 30+ DO NOT kid yourself that you can ever look cool on the dancefloor. Not possible.

Many years ago, a small group of us decided to play a joke on the Finance Director – well he WAS an ACCOUNTANT and therefore fair game! We persuaded a lively little eighteen year old to pretend that she fancied him and that she should try to kiss him. Even though he was the most revolting specimen of humanity imaginable, he believed that this girl was interested in him. His moose-like ego was in sixth-gear turbocharged overdrive. He was happening!

The girl was primed to go off at a certain time. A slow number was playing and the Finance Director’s hormones must have been colliding at warp-factor 10 and the front of his trousers was giving a passable impression of a ridge-tent. The eighteen-year-old was whispering something into his scaly ear. We watched as, droolingly, he whispered something back.

Suddenly the atmosphere was smashed by the girl shouting ” YOU WHAT? That’s DISGUSTING! What WOULD your wife say!” She pulled away from him, shouted “GET LOST! PERVERT!” and clomped off across the dance floor towards our table. How we laughed! Mind you, from the following day, my expenses always seemed to take that little bit longer to be paid. Coincidence I suppose.

Lesson: Beware of sweet young things declaring undying love. At best it’s temporary and at worst it’s a set-up.

Even socially, you have to remain one step ahead of the opposition.

There may be occasions when someone that you work closely with will wish to take advantage of a social occasion to declare their love for you. You must treat all of these approaches with great sensitivity. It will have taken a great deal of courage for an individual to expose their emotions to you in such a way – pissed or not. They will be feeling very vulnerable. Deal with the matter immediately. Do not make the mistake of saying – ” Let’s talk about it on Monday – when were both sober.” in the hope that it will be forgotten. It will not be forgotten and apart from having given hope to someone, you will find it very difficult to deal with the matter when you are both sober and in the office. If the answer is YES I AM INTERESTED then say so and likewise if the answer is NO. Incidentally, the correct answer is the latter.

There are other pitfalls which can occur at the Office Party but if you remember that all-important rule that there is no such thing as an off-the-record conversation or unremarked action, then you will always make the right decision.

X-factor Stung

His Stingness

Sting has not been invited to perform on X-factor, so he has spoken because he doesn’t approve of the programme, although he obviously watches.

He said “I am sorry but none of those kids are going to go anywhere, and I say that sadly.”

Sting should know what he is talking about – after all, he has notched up 11 Grammys, two Brits, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and three Oscar nominations.

The ageing rocker demonstrated more insight with the observation that contestants are  “humiliated when they get sent off”.  He added: “How appalling for a young person to feel that rejection. It is a soap opera which has nothing to do with music.  In fact, it has put music back decades. Television is very cynical.”

 He also felt that the programme encourages the  participants to “conform to stereotypes, “  and that “They are either Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston or Boyzone and are not encouraged to create any real unique signature or fingerprint. “

“That cannot come from TV. The X Factor is a preposterous show and you have judges who have no recognisable talent apart from self-promotion, advising them what to wear and how to look. It is appalling.” 

He went on is real crumbly popster style: “The real shop floor for musical talent is pubs and clubs, that is where the original work is. But they are being closed down on a daily basis. It is impossible to put an act on in a pub. The music industry has been hugely important to England, bringing in millions. If anyone thinks the X Factor is going to do that, they are wrong.”

Sting forgets that it is the pubs and clubs that killed originality and created the wannabee Mariahs and Whitneys through the medium of Karaoke.

A spokesperson for the X Factor declined to comment. 

Sting enjoys a very successful solo career but his early success came over thirty years ago with popular beat combo The Police.

Sting is also famous for Tantric sex and has claimed that he can have continuous sex for up to nine hours.

There’s nothing new in that – we’ve all slept with a woofer after necking too much alcohol.

Otto Dix

Otto Dix was one of the great impressionist painters of the 20th Century and yet his work is often missing from the curriculum. He was German and his work was hated by the Nazis and designated Entartete Kunst (degenerate art).

In 1937, the Nazis held an exhibition of degenerate art. The exhibition included some of Dix’s most celebrated paintings, including The Trench and War cripples. The paintings were exhibited in several other German galleries and later burned.

Dix is most famous for his portrayal of inter-war German Society but what reminded me of his work on Armistice Day was his talent as a war artist. He portrayed the horrors of war with the kind of passion and insight which leaves photography gasping way behind in second place. More importantly, he drew and painted the German Army and showed not the ‘us and them’  differences but the shared squalor of war. It made the German soldiers appear indistinguishable from the Allies. Mud and blood-spattered boys in ill-fitting uniforms.

German wartime suffering has long been a taboo subject but today, President Sarkozy of France said this: “German orphans cried over the death of their fathers in combat just as French orphans did.”

My own first serious encounter with Dix was in 1992 at the Tate Gallery in London . To this day I remember a wall of trench-war pencil sketches and etchings. They were so powerful that I can still recall every one. He ws an expressionist but his Great War sketches displayed all the obscenity of war CLICK HERE. He painted and drew with a unique mixture of passion, realism, honesty, bitterness and despair.

After the war he continued to paint but his subject matter was more personal to him and by then he had dipped his brushes in the delicious palette of  eroticism CLICK HERE . What upset the Nazis was his representation of them as creators and guardians of a  society inhabited by caricatures and grotesques. His portraits managed to bring to the fore the social and moral distortions that were beginning to shape the inter-war German society and its psyche.

He portrays the futility of war better than any church leader or politician. Continue reading Otto Dix

Billy the Skid


Many years ago, I used to live in Antibes which is in the Midi region of France – between Cannes and Nice. One day, I was on a yacht in the harbour and happened to look across at the boat next door. A man appeared to be drilling a hole in his leg. I shouted to him, asking whether he was all right. He was an Irish shipwright and had been  cutting wooden plugs to glue into the deck of the boat that he was working-on. He’d just run out of wood and as he needed only one more wooden plug, he had decided to use his electric plug-cutter to extract a plug from his own wooden leg. We talked and went to the local bar for a drink. During a very long drunken evening, he told me the following story which he swore was true. Surprisingly, it was not about his wooden leg but about a friend of his. I wrote-up the story about 20 years ago and have only just found it again on an old disc. This is very, very sad story of BILLY THE SKID.

Billy was a very ordinary man – he was in his mid-thirties, slightly overweight, single and still lived with his aged mother.

His life used to be very simple and extremely ordered. Every morning, Billy would have a cooked breakfast, pick up his ham sandwiches and leave for work. He was a junior clerk in a small insurance office.

He would sit at his desk all day – he would even eat his sandwiches at the desk . On the dot of five o’clock, he would stand, put on his jacket, ensure that his bicycle clips were on properly, say good-bye to his employers and leave for home.

When he arrived home ten minutes later, his tea would be waiting for him on the table. He would kiss his mother and eat his liver and onions or his shepherds pie whilst reading the evening paper.

Then he would sit and watch the television until the pub opened.

He was normally the first in. He would order a pint and wait for his friends who would filter in during the next hour or so.

That was Billy’s life. Sad but uncomplicated.

This particular evening was to be the evening which changed Billy’s life and cause him to reappraise his whole lifestyle.

Billy and his friends spent the whole evening drinking lots of pints of beer whilst exchanging the same platitudes that they had been recycling since their schooldays. Then, about ten minutes before closing time, Billy had an urge to visit the lavatory.

He put down his pint and hurried through the crowd to the pub’s toilet. His timing was immaculate. In one movement, he turned, closed the latch on the toilet door, flicked his trousers open, slid the zip down and flipped down the wooden toilet seat.

The heavy seat crashed down onto the toilet bowl just as Billy’s ample rump reversed onto it. It had been close on this occasion. Seconds later, he’d enjoyed one of the biggest bowel movements that he could remember. He groaned, leaned forward and held his head in both hands. He imagined that this just had to be better then sex!

It was only when he was reaching for the toilet tissue that he noticed something. Although he had removed his trousers, in his tipsy haste, he had omitted to remove his Y-fronts which, needless to say were now full and weighing about half a stone.

” Shit!” he hissed rather appropriately and then “Shit!” again as he heard the familiar ring of the pub’s bell signifying that it was closing time.

(The following part of the story is a reconstruction as Billy was to spend the next two hours drifting in and out of consciousness.)

Panic caused Billy to attempt to stand with his trousers still around his ankles. He stumbled backwards and sat on the edge of the toilet seat.

However, the contents of his Y-fronts caused him to slip off the edge of the seat and onto the floor. As he tried to regain his balance, he managed to hit the back of his head on the low-level cistern, and sustained a deep cut. Billy also vaguely remembers grazing his fist on the toilet wall and he also recalls vomiting as he fell and lapsed into unconsciousness.

He ended up in a seated position, just in front of the toilet bowl . There was vomit down his shirt-front and the backof his head was seeping blood onto the toilet bowl.

Meanwhile, back in the bar, his friends, assuming that Billy must have gone home, said their good-byes and left. One of Billy’s friends thoughtfully finished the pint that Billy had left on the bar. The owner of the pub cleared up all the glasses and about half an hour later came into the toilets to hose down any mess. He was surprised to see a pair of legs sticking out from below the door of one of the toilet cubicles. He recognised the legs immediately.

” Billy!” he shouted, ” are you OK?”

There was no sound.

” He’s had a bloody heart attack!” the barman shook one of Billy’s legs and soon realised that there was no way that he would be able to drag Billy out of the cubicle. The solution was simple – he would have to break the door down.

The barman went into the adjacent cubicle and standing on the toilet, looked in on Billy. Billy was slumped against the toilet bowl and looked to be in a bit of a mess. The barman walked to the other side of the toilet and propelled himself at the door of Billy’s cubicle. The latch and lock were ripped from the doorpost as the door smashed inwards.

Unfortunately, at the precise moment that the barman’s shoulder connected with the door, Billy was regaining consciousness and began to sit up . Regrettably, at the instant that Billy sat up, the toilet door flew inwards and connected with his face and broke his nose. The whiplash threw Billy’s head backwards onto the toilet bowl where he sustained another cut to the back of his head.

Once again Billy was unconscious.

The barman soon realised that Billy had not had a heart attack and had probably been in some sort of fight. He dragged Billy from the toilet and with a little bit of a struggle, managed to pull up his trousers.

He plucked some toilet tissue from the holder and wiped-down Billy’s face, head and shirt-front. By now, Billy was once again recovering consciousness and as he attempted a more vertical position, he moaned occasionally.

However, he was not yet confident enough to attempt to stand.

“Wait here Billy,” whispered the barman unnecessarily, “Ill call you a cab. Your mum will sort you out!”

Billy mumbled through the blood and vomit.

” You’ll be OK,” added the barman rather optimistically.

Billy lay on the wet floor for another ten minutes while his clothes slowly soaked-up the stale urine and disinfectant from the concrete floor. He attempted to stand only once. Unfortunately, he slipped , landed on his left knee and cracked his kneecap.

The main toilet door swung open and the barman entered with another individual who took one look at Billy and said, ” I ain’t putting that in me cab. Sod off!”

As the cabby turned, the barman took out a twenty pound note from his hip pocket and held it out. ” He lives about a quarter of a mile down the road . We’ll clean him up. He’ll be OK”

Without a sound, the cabby took the note.

Between them they cleaned Billy up and pulled-up his trousers . The barman handed Billy a towel soaked in cold water and said ” Hold this on your nose Billy. You’ll be OK.” Billy nodded as he was helped to his feet and dragged through the bar to the cab. The night air hit Billy like a sledgehammer and in spite of the mild shock that his body was experiencing, he began to feel the onset of the ” whirling pits”. Past experience told him that if he kept his eyes open, he would not be sick.

Depositing Billy in the back of the cab was quite a struggle because Billy had difficulty in bending his left leg. He had also become very aware of the contents of his Y-fronts. Luckily, neither the cabby nor the barman were conscious of Billy’s predicament.

After the cabby had spread a travel rug over the back seat ” just in case”, they decided that the only solution was to somehow push Billy onto the back seat. They took a two-step run-up, each holding an arm. As they propelled him through the cab’s door, Billy hit his head on the door post and once again lapsed into semi-consciousness. However, the cabby managed to shut the door behind the twitching Billy.

The cabby fired up the engine and spent a couple of minutes listening to the barman giving directions to Billy’s house. As he selected first gear, the cabby said to the barman. “If he pukes, I’m coming back for another twenty quid. So don’t go anywhere for the next ten minutes. I might be back!”

” He’ll be OK,” offered the barman rather lamely, ” He’ll be OK”

By the time the cab was in third gear, the cabby felt a movement on the back seat and automatically looked in the rear-view mirror. The grinning apparition that appeared in the mirror caused him to swerve – until he realised that the hideous mask in the miror was Billy, his passenger.

The motion of the cab had awoken Billy and he had struggled into a semi-seated position because he was again beginning to experience the “whirling pits” and was about to part with the remaining contents of his stomach. He’d had liver and onions for tea, followed by three cups of tea, a steamed treacle pudding , seven pints of bitter and two packets of pork scratchings.

The cabby squinted into the rear-view mirror ” Are you OK mate? You look as if you’re going to throw u………….!!!”

Too late! The back of the cabby’s head took the first wave and by the time that the emergency stop had been completed and Billy’s face had come into contact with the driver’s headrest.

Billy’s stomach was now totally empty and Billy had yet another injury. The cabby had not strapped Billy into his seat. Mind you, had Billy’s forehead not contacted with the headrest on the back of the cabbies seat, his injuries could have been far more serious and he would not again have been merely semi-conscious.

The cabby leapt out of the car and in his haste, almost pulled the rear door from its hinges.

” Bastard!” he screamed as he dragged Billy out of the back seat by his legs. ” Bastard!”

The cabby then noticed the large wet discolouration on the back of Billy’s trousers. He looked at the spot on the back seat where Billy had been sitting. ” Bastard!” he screamed once again as he kicked Billy in the crotch several times. Luckily, Billy was feeling no pain.

There was a trail of smoking rubber as the cab took off, executed a perfect hand brake turn and headed back in the direction of the pub.

Billy lay by the side of the road and slept.

He awoke about twenty minutes later and although in a bit of a mess, he managed to stand and realised that he was only about one-hundred yards from his home. He began the long limp home and luckily for him, although long and  uncomfortable, the journey was otherwise uneventful.

He managed to find his mother’s house and it was not until he had managed to negotiate the front gate and was walking up the garden path that he had another dizzy spell. He fell into one of his mum’s rosebushes. Luckily he did have the presence of mind to hold out his arms to break his fall and only sustained slight scratches to his hands and face. It took him several minutes to disengage himself from the rosebush and in the process, he ripped his shirt, trousers and jacket.

Billy screamed and was dimly aware that the light in his mother’s bedroom had come on. Even in this confused state he knew that he should not disturb his mother. He fumbled in his pockets and eventually managed to find the front-door key.

Fitting a key into a Yale lock in the dark is never easy. Tonight the task proved even more difficult than usual but soon Billy was standing triumphantly in the front room.

He needed a cup of tea . Yes that was it! A cup of tea. Then he would sort himself out!

He dragged himself into the kitchen, filled the kettle from the kitchen-sink tap and put it onto the old-fashioned gas stove. At last he was back in control!

He turned on the gas and went to the cupboard where he knew the matches were kept. By the time he lit the gas there was only enough gas to cause a very minor explosion. The singed hands and eyebrows seemed a minor irrelevance as he waited for the kettle to boil.

Billy had only poured enough water into the kettle for about two cups of tea. He waited for a couple of minutes until the kettle’s whistle began its high-pitched murmur.

Billy smiled as he turned off the gas and lifted the kettle from the stove. His teacup was ready with one teabag and three sugars in it and he had even put the milk bottle next to the cup. He was sure that nothing more could go wrong.

They say that bad luck is merely a question of bad timing. Billy had a slight memory lapse. Unluckily for him, it took place in that one or two seconds when he was swinging the kettle from the gas ring to the teacup. Billy had forgotten that the metal handle on his mother’s ancient kettle had a tendency to become extremely hot. He dropped the kettle and began to scream as boiling water spilled from the kettle and soaked into the front of his trousers.

At that precise moment, his mother appeared at the kitchen door in dressing gown and curlers. She was holding a heavy broom. For some time now she had been fed-up with Billy going to the pub and coming back later and later and waking her up. Tonight’s racket was the final straw.

” Don’t…you…ever…dare…to…come…back….so ….late…. and wake….me…up….!” Each word was punctuated with a blow from the broom to the back of the cowering Billy’s head.

Billy could do little to defend himself and once again took refuge in unconsciousness. His mother left him where he fell.

The following morning Billy was admitted to the local hospital and still believes that he sustained the highest number and variety of injuries ever sustained in one evening.

More importantly, however, Billy is now completely teetotal but refuses to leave his room.

Tried “Hotlegging”?


Give pees a chance

Pissing in public has always been a great student sport. Shop doorways, car parks, lifts, telephone boxes, graveyards and many other quiet venues  have had their fair share. The secret is to do it discreetly and quickly.

However Philip Laing,  a 19-year-old student not only urinated over a poppy-wreath which happened to be on a war memorial but he was photographed doing it. His mum must be so proud – especially  as the photo was plastered over several newspapers. Needless to say, he has been charged by the police and has already been up before the beak.  

“The image of your urinating over the poppy wreath on the war memorial in this city will make most turn away in disgust, shock and sadness,” said District Judge Anthony Browne.

“It has undoubtedly distressed and upset many. The war memorial is a sacred and a special place.”

A contrite Laing, appeared in the dock wearing a poppy (bad advice!) and pleaded guilty to outraging public decency. The photographic evidence suggests that he did not have much choice in the plea department!! Technically, however, it was the moron who sent the photograph to the Daily Mail who really  outraged public decency. The Daily Mail then put the photo up on its website, so that even more people could be outraged. Nice work! 

The judge adjourned sentencing for reports, saying all options including custody, were open.

In mitigation, Laing’s lawyer said that the student  had drunk a bottle of whisky before attending an organised student drinking session and had no recollection of what had happened. Mind you, he was standing, had managed to undo his trousers and his aim appeared quite good.

The court was told,  “The disgusting and reprehensible act the defendant carried out was in no way premeditated, targeted or politically motivated,”  and  “His actions were sadly the result of having consumed large amounts of alcohol.”

Let us all hope that the poor boy is not banged-up or that his parents ( he’s a student) will not be fined too much. He appears to have been punished enough by the publicity and ridicule.

Unfortunately, we are in the uber-emotional body-bag induced throes of  soldier worship as a result of current military escapades; so pissing on a war-memorial may not have been the best move. Let’s hope that the judge remembers his own student days.

Laing was released on bail until the next hearing on November 26.



I’ve just been reminded of the old football-terrace sport of “hot-legging”. This sport was very popular  until all-seater football stadia were introduced – especially in Scotland. 

When attending a football match, it was a mystery to the uninitiated as to why so many spectators carried newspapers into the football ground. In actual fact, the newspaper was an essential piece of equipment, especially if you had been in the pub immediately prior to the game.

When you had the urge to pee and you were standing on an overcrowded terrace, it was a simple matter of discreetly rolling up the newspaper,  putting the far-end of the rolled-up newspaper into the coat pocket of the person immediately in front of you and directing your stream of pee into the other end of the newspaper.

Quite easy unless your team scored and the person in front of you suddenly started to jump up and down. Very painful (so I’m told). After a few minutes, as your efforts soaked through the lining of his overcoat, your victim would begin to experience “hot leg”.

Ah…. the good old days.

Bonfire Night

Lewes in East Sussex is the epicentre of bonfire and firework-related activities in the United KIngdom. Tens of thousands of enthusiasts of all nationalities pile into the town to watch the torchlit processions organised by all of the county’s Bonfire Societies.  Then, after the processions, it’s off to the various giant bonfires which are distributed around the outskirts of the town. It’s a fabulous evening with a really “safe” carnival atmosphere – only ever ruined by the OTT police presence. They do their best but most of them appear to be imported plod who don’t really want to be there.

And tomorrow? A thin pall of smoke will hang over the town as volunteers clean up the streets of tons of the most amazing mixture of debris – everything from bottles and cans, burger boxes, spent fireworks, burnt-out torches as well as the odd reveller. The vast bonfires will be still producing a surprising amount of heat but they too are tamped down as the town begins to plan next year’s bonfire night.

I love the smell of baked hedgehog in the morning.

Freaked Out Over SuperFreakonomics

The following article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on 27th October 2009. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author Brett Stephens. Brett writes the Journal’s “Global View” column on foreign affairs, which runs every Tuesday in the U.S. and is also published in the European and Asian editions of the paper. In 2004, Brett was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, where he is also a media fellow. Continue reading Freaked Out Over SuperFreakonomics

Back to the Future (again)

There is potentially great news in the banking sector- and about time.  The government is to create three new bank chains by selling-off divisions of RBS, Lloyds and Northern Rock. By 2015, our High Streets may once again see old and trusted brands such as the Trustee Savings Bank, Williams & Glyns and Cheltenham & Gloucester. Could this be the best thing that this government has done? It looks like it – but once again, the new policy looks contrary to what Gordon Brown was saying only last week when he commented on Mervyn King’s proposal to rationalise the banking industry. Continue reading Back to the Future (again)

Joint-up Government

Two executives at the Royal Bank of Scotland have been suspended after alleged corruption at its overseas mortgage operation.

The bankers were allegedly asking foreign estate agents for payments worth tens of thousands of pounds in return for referring customers. Many of the suspected practices have  taken place within the last 12 months and since the government bail-out.  Continue reading Joint-up Government

Naughty pirates


Who said this?  “Piracy and the taking of hostages is unacceptable in any circumstances. We call on those people who have taken the British citizens hostage to release them as soon as possible. They should abide by international law.”

Those Somali pirates must be really crapping themselves now that Gordon Brown  has told them that they should “abide by international law”. Gordon, you muppet – these are pirates and  NOT abiding by the law is not-only implicit in their job title but also in their job description. Kidnapping people is their JOB. Continue reading Naughty pirates

Didn’t he do well?

” Oh F*** it!”

  • Quite a lot has already been written about the Nimrod crash which killed 14 crew. Charles Haddon-Cave QC  who led the enquiry said that the crash happened because because “defence chiefs put cost cuts before safety”.  He also referred to  “a systemic breach of Covenant brought about by significant failures on the part of all those involved.”  and  “a story of incompetence, complacency and cynicism” Mr Haddon-Cave’s comments will hopefully be recycled as fitting epitaphs for this Government. Continue reading Didn’t he do well?

Cherie Antoinette.

“Let them eat a lorra lorra cake, chuck.”

Tony Blair has not yet broken cover and declared an interest in becoming President of Europe. The post will be created once the Czechs have ratified the Treaty of Lisbon. Gordon Brown has made a decision (!) and declared that he will be lobbying on Blair’s behalf, should Blair decide to put his name forward. Continue reading Cherie Antoinette.

A grapple for the teacher


The Internet compensation society is in danger of destroying the education system. Too-aware pupils know that they have the upper hand over their very vulnerable teachers.

More than a quarter of school staff (28%) have had a false allegation made against them by a pupil, according to a survey. Continue reading A grapple for the teacher

BNP or not BNP

  • President Obama has sent John Kerry over to Afghanistan to smack the back of president Hamid Karzai’s legs. It appears that the last Afghan election was conducted fraudulently. As a result it would appear that Karzai does not have the minimum 50% of the vote that confirmed him as the rightful winner. The needlessly macho-named Operation Panther’s Claw was a waste of time – although it was never clear how a bunch of soldiers (including 10 dead Brits) could make an election “fair” because the whole thing was run like a circus with guns. There will now be a run-off between Karzai and his chief rival Abdullah  Abdullah. Kerry, pontificating on Obamas’s behalf spoke of the need for a “legitimate outcome.” It would be interesting to speculate how recent history would have turned out if the same rules had been applied to the first George W Bush election.

Nick Griffin MEP Continue reading BNP or not BNP

Postman Prat

  • Royal Mail is going to hire 30,000 workers to “help” during the impending strike. Usually the  Post Office hires only an additional 15,000 staff for the Christmas rush. Let us hope that this blatantly provocative gesture by the Royal Mail management does not backfire. Let us also hope that in their haste, they do not forget to run proper background checks on the people that they hire and so keep the number of thieves and terrorists to a minimum. Expensive temporary labour plus the millions in lost revenue, plus the damage to the business does not, on the face of it look like the ideal plan. Adam Crozier, Royal Mail’s boss has taken a leaf out of Rupert Murdoch’s lexicon of nastiness. Remember when there was that big falling out with the print unions? Murdoch had an alternative workforce “ready to go” when the unions objected to modernisation and job losses. Where is that all-powerful print union nowadays? Continue reading Postman Prat

That was the week….

“Aren’t you one of those Fuzzy-Wuzzies that we’ve been hearing about?”

“Actually, I’m the Mayor of London.”

“Sorry, Doris.”

  • Diwali was celebrated at Downing Street . Members of the Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist communities were invited to Downing Street to celebrate Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, which promotes messages of hope and togetherness. Let us hope that the most important Christian Festival is also celebrated and acknowledged by the Prime Minister. Mind you, by next Easter, he’ll probably have other things on his mind. Continue reading That was the week….

Friday October 2nd 2009

  • Ethiopia has suddenly become the focus for all anthropologists. An ancient  skeleton was found in 1992 and it has taken 17 years for the research team to rebuild it. Why all the excitement? The skeleton belongs to an in-between species of humanoid about 4.4 million years old. It has been designated Ardipithecus Ramidus. It is not “the missing link” but by extrapolation, it appears that it is probably about 9 million years since the division between apes and humans. So where was John Prescott this week?
  • The East of England Minister Barbara Follett is to stand-down from Parliament. She is (was) Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism. Her reasons for leaving? Yes, it’s the old chestnut: “For family reasons – to spend more time with my family”. Heard her name before? She’s the MP who claimed £500 to repair a Chinese rug ( don’t we all?) and she also claimed £25,000 “for security reasons”. She has since repaid all of the money. So how could she afford to sign such a large cheque? Her husband is millionaire pulp fiction writer, Ken Follett. Barbara and Ken epitomise the “champagne socialist” and are chums of Tony and Cherie Blair.
  • Jobs for the boys. Former Northern Rock boss, Adam Applegarth is now an advisor to Apollo Management. They are an American Equity firm. Adam is advising them on the purchase of bad loans, including parts of Northern Rock bank, the former Building Society he brought to its knees. Perhaps a touch ironic but perfectly legal. He will earn about 200,000 per year which is a lot more than the thousands of people who lost their jobs at Northern Rock. It’s all very worrying.
  • Today, Ireland will vote in favour of the Treaty of Lisbon. It’s their second attempt. The Irish economy is currently in such an appalling state that they appear to have little choice. However, if they do not support the Treaty, then it’s curtains for the Treaty.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting that the British economy will grow by 0.9% next year. That’s about four times the current politicians’ prediction. House prices have returned to their pre-crunch 2008 levels, the FTSE 100 index is UP. As one of the few people who predicted nationalisation of the banks, I am still not sure whether to put the Bolly on ice just yet.
  • Vanessa George, Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen. They are the three baby-abusing perverts who are spread all over the newspapers today. Angela Allen is the one from Little Ted’s Day Nursery in Plymouth. She photographed herself sexually abusing babies as young as 12 months. Whichever prison they end up in, they are guaranteed some very close attention from other inmates. The burglars, drug dealers, fraudsters etc look almost honourable professionals next to these degenerates. I do hope that the other prisoners are not too gentle with them.

Thursday October 1st 2009

  • A survey has just been published of the world’s top  Broadband Countries – taking into account speed etc. The United Kingdom is languishing in 25th place. The top country? South Korea. Is this another indicator of the rise of the East and the slow eclipse of the West?. 

  • The Daily Mirror has adjusted its reportage of the Tories today – presumably in response to the Sun’s decision to back the Tories. It’s going to be a right mess leading up to the election. The gloves are off

  • BAE systems is about to be prosecuted for dishing out hundreds of millions in bribes. You may recall that when Tony Blair was in charge , there was a bit of a bribery scandal  involving Saudi Arabia, but as they say – all charges were dropped. There is one thing that both our Government and Judicial System would do well to remember and that is that greasing the cogs of commerce through the medium of bribery is normal in many countries – especially hot ones. Many years ago, I sold a yacht for a $1million to an Arab Prince and we shook hands on the deal and arranged to complete the paperwork the following day. That night , my phone rang. It was the Prince’s “Private secretary and advisor”. This is what he said: “Although the Prince is a very rich man, alas he is not a generous man. You will also understand that he always seeks my counsel and almost always heeds my advice. I have yet to advise him as to whether he should complete this purchase – but I am sure that we can come to some sort of arrangement.”  I was outraged! I told him that I did not make a practice of dishing out bribes and that I would report our conversation to the Prince. I never saw the Prince again. Some time later I realised that the Prince had probably been sitting next to his Secretary when he had made the call and it was probably his way of getting a few thousand off the price. I also recall another yacht-owning Middle Eastern client. Whenever we presented him with an invoice, I would ask the staff to make sure that it was itemised and added-up wrongly, but in his favour. Usually by either £50 or £100. Before handing over a wad of cash, he would add-up the bill himself, realise that it was incorrect , say ” Yes, that appears to be in order”  and pay. He was happy and I was happy but more importantly, honour had been satisfied, he had won a little victory and he always came back to us because he enjoyed our little game. We should NOT always be so po-faced about the way that other nationals  do business. It may not be pretty but it works.
  • Is it really the end of the Labour Party Conference? Thank You, God. Harriett Harman is not too chuffed about the Sun’s decision to support the Tories. She said: “Let’s face it, the nearest their political analysis gets to women’s rights is Page 3’s news in briefs.”  It’s only a matter of time before Harriet gets the call from Hugh Hefner.
  • At the Labour Conference yesterday, the jurassic Tony Woodley, leader of UNITE, was cheered when he tore up a copy of the Sun. One presumes that he had looked at the pictures first. He said: “I suggest the rest of the country should do exactly the same thing”. Labour should persuade more progressives such as Tony Woodley to give voice to their views – that way they’re absolutely GUARANTEED to lose not only the next election but several after that. During Tony Blair’s tenure these Brylcreemed 50s throwbacks used to be kept in a darkened room or padded box until after Conference. A dignified silence without even a platform-mention of the Sun would have been far more powerful.

  • Financial Analysts seem to be confusing the state of the FTSE 100 with the British Economy. The fact is that many of the billions invested in the Stock Exchange consists of foreign money. That’s where many of the profits are going – abroad. Instead of flying to Monaco to play the tables at the Casino, many foreigner “investors” are winning lots in the Casino that is the London Stock Exchange.

  • The FTSE 100 has experienced its biggest quarterly rise in 25 years. Once again, this  is being hailed as some sort of success. It simply means that lots of bets have been placed. The punters will be taking their profits soon. Then the Government can once again blame the bankers. Let’s hope that they don’t break the bank again.

  • Politicians are always saying that it is the Pension Funds and Insurance Companies  own most of the assets traded on the Stock Exchange. In fact, between them, they only own about 25%

  • Today the national minimum wage rises by 7p an hour to £5.80 and for 18 to 21-year-olds, the minimum wage increases by 6p to £4.83 per hour. This is also the day when the government legislation on “tips” has changed. From today it illegal for bars, restaurants and hotels to use tips or service charges to make up a minimum salary. That is all very well but in the grand scheme of things, it is a comparatively trivial matter and possibly not a terribly cost-efficient move by the Government. Especially as the Government has already conceded that the changes governing tips will lead to an estimated £60m in extra costs to ensure the legislation is implemented properly. The new code will also lead to higher National Insurance payments. This is an inflationarymove because bars , restaurants etc will simply “up” their prices to maintain their margins. The British Hospitality Association (BHA) estimates the new rules could lead to an additional £130m in costs and up to  5,000 job losses. There are those of course who feel that a tip should be a customer’s expression of appreciation for good service and should not be used by an employer to bring wages up to the minimum. Mind you, both the Federation of Small Businesses and UNITE are both in favour of the changes. The only people who will be really affected are the tippers and the tipees. The customer tippers will experience increased prices and the waiter tippees may suffer up to an estimated 5000 job losses. There is a saying: ” If it ain’t broken – don’t fix it.” Needless to say, one of the few groups who will not be affected is Politicians. You may have heard that when they eat out or stay in hotels – it tends to be on expenses. 


Wednesday September 30th 2009

  • So the Sun will not be supporting the Labour Party. No real problems there, except the usual one. Why should an Australian like Rupert Murdoch have any say in which newspaper supports which Party. The Sun is read largely by the drooling classes who are very susceptible but regrettably, there is very little that can be done. The Sun’s sister paper , the News of the World, no doubt is poised with some salacious Labour politician scandal ready-to-go.


  • The Sun will not just be pro-Cameron  – it will be strongly anti-Gordon Brown. The Sun will do the same assassination job on Brown as it did on Neil Kinnock . The Sun has a circulation of 3 million which means a readership of about 9 million – so  when the Labour Party says – ” it’s people who decide elections”  – they are not really being naïve because they know deep-down that seven months of relentless mickey-taking of Gordon Brown by the Sun will have a profound effect on working class views. Remember that this is the paper that helped Margaret Thatcher to power – they’re THAT good – and relentless. Incidentally, did you know that one James Murdoch is a pal of David Cameron? Coincidence? Er…No.

  • Today’s Conference speeches by Ed Balls and Andy Burnham are very likely to be delivered to a near-empty Brighton Centre. Quite right too.

  • One hesitates to dispense advice to Labour MPs but those who are screwing either their secretaries or researchers should beware  – at least until the First Thursday in May 2010. Whatever you’re doing that is naughty, illegal or vaguely interesting – stop doing it immediately. The News of the World will be releasing the hounds at any minute. For all you know, they already have their snouts in your dustbin.

  • Why was Gordon Brown banging-on about “change”? They’ve had 12 years. It’s a bit late with only a few months to go.

  • Gordon Brown has announced a referendum on how we vote in future – a subject always popular with minority parties. Which counting system will the referendum use? First Past the Post, the Single Transferable Vote or the Alternative Vote method? I think that Gordon looks like a Schulze Method man.

  • Good to see Martin McGuiness attending a Party at the Grand Hotel. Wouldn’t it have been ironic if someone had blown up the hotel – just like his IRA did in 1984?

  • 350,000 old people are to receive free home help. The only good thing about that is the fact that the £400 milllion cost is being made available by cutting some “bolt-on” NHS departments such as Marketing(!) and Communications. Get rid of them anyway.

  • Nero’s revolving dining room has been discovered in Rome. I’ve been in lots of rotating dining rooms in my time  – funnily enough, they usually begin rotating at about 11.00 p.m on a Saturday evening. We call it the “whirling pits”.

  • Tuesday September 29th 2009

    • Interesting statistic which doesn’t appear to be receiving the publicity that it deserves: In the United States, a house is foreclosed or repossessed every 7.5 seconds. As usual, the politicians are taking care of business at the macro-level, while the grass-roots are burning.

    • It is an excellent idea for Gordon Brown to take-on the other two Party leaders in televised debates. Any future Conservative or Liberal vote should be a “pro” Conservative or Liberal vote and not an anti-Labour vote. The Labour backroom boys, led by Darth Mandelson are obviously running a campaign centred-around the comparative inexperience and youth of the other two leaders. That’s fair, because that’s exactly what the Tories did  to Tony Blair in 1997. Admittedly, David Cameron and the Liberal David Whassisname look fresh and youthful compared to Brown – who currently looks as if he has been cage-fighting with his hands in his pockets but in spite of his comparative lack of political fitness, he is not to be underestimated. He will be boring but he will come out fighting. There will be blood. We’ll know by late next week whether David Cameron and George Osborne have steel and substance. Constant criticism and sniping at the Government by the Opposition is quite entertaining but when it comes to a General Election, we will need to witness views and hear policies. Having said all that, remember that PERCEPTION is king and if in spite of brand-new shiny policies from the Tories, the Labour spin machine manages to make David Cameron look like a shallow “oik” then the forthcoming election will be much closer that we currently perceive.

    • One of the ideas being kicked about at the moment is the saving of millions of Education pounds by  cutting teaching assistant jobs in schools. In the UK there are 40,000 teaching assistants – they’re the ones who sit in the classroom with “challenged” children or take them on zoo trips. They are all very nice people, I’m sure –  but a waste of money. Many of the children don’t need a glorified baby-sitter – they need specialist teaching. While we’re on the subject of cuts , I would take an immediate horizontal slice through the current Education Department bureaucracy and take-out all those school advisers – the ones in the designer suits with Series 3 BMWs. They are a waste of time but unfortunately , many are ex-teachers. 

    • Conference time is the time when politicians churn out populist crap in order to grab newspaper headlines and cheap applause. Gordon Brown now says that he will turn 11,500 Post Offices into the “Peoples Bank”. That’s what Building Societies used to be. There was one other bank which used to be popular with the “people”. Now what was that called?…… Oh yes, it was called the Trustee Savings Bank. Whatever happened to that? Here’s a quote from Gordon: “I want the Post Office to step in to help hardworking families to save and access their money easily with banking for the people in our neighbourhoods”. If Brown thinks that he is going to create a new banking system in under eight months, then perhaps Andrew Marr was right about the happy pills. Brown is obviously playing without the full complement of marbles. Oh yes – one final thing. “Hardworking” working class families need JOBS. They rarely save their Giro cheques.

    • Today’s the day that Gordon Brown will either  read the best speech of his life or stumble his way through the world’s most-boring and longest-ever suicide note. Whichever way it swings – there will be lots of applause, back-slapping and standing-up.

    • If you keep putting rats in a cage and keep adding rats, there comes a time when they start eating each other. The human equivalent is the run-down council estate. Weak rats are prey to the bigger and stronger rats. That is exactly the phenomenon which killed Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter Francecca. Mrs Pilkington was driven to such desperation through being goaded and verbally abused by a gang of young pikeys that she set-fire to herself and her daughter. Not the best way to die. Needless to say there will be enquiries, lessons will be learned, the Social Services will be exonerated, the Police will make excuses, the local Council will hold a press conference and make a statement. By now, the whole process is probably in an Operations Manual somewhere.

    • Jack Straw is surprisingly eloquent today. The trouble is that The Brighton Centre seems half-empty or as the Tories might say “half-full” or as the Liberals would say “too big”. Let’s hope it fills up when the leader performs. The Labour Party is going to play dirty this time. Straw mentioned Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act. This was repealed by Labour in 2000 and was the section of the 1988 Act which stated that a Local Authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality”. They should stop dragging up 20-year old legislation (under which there wasn’t a single prosecution). Homosexuality is not an issue in 2009 and “New” Labour is clearly demonstrating what little legislative success it has had in the last 12 years. Occasionally they still bang-on about 13 years of Tory Rule!!! Labour should fight on current policies. By the way, when Jack sat down, the reception was at best muted, at worst underwhelming. As the spin doctors might say: He received a seated ovation.

    • Fiona Phillips off the telly is speaking but she is having difficulty speaking because she appears to have  her tongue well-stuck up Alan Johnson’s well-groomed backside. She is acting, flicking her hair and simpering like a love-struck typist who’s just shagged the boss. At least Johnson, who looks (and sounds) more Bookie’s runner than Statesman has the good grace to look embarrassed. What the f*** was all that about? “Airhead introduces Postman Pat”? 

    • There is one session that we presenters and speakers like to avoid – if given the choice. It is the session immediately after lunch when your audience arrives full of food and drink and whose brains are temporarily in semi-shutdown as their stomachs begin the digestion process. We call it the Graveyard Session. Wonder who’s speaking this afternoon? Oh yes! Him! Perhaps the audience needs to be semi-comatose. If it isn’t, it soon will be.

    • I’ve just been watching a recording of John Denham speaking at the Labour Conference. Is it me, but doesn’t he look like a Conference League Football Referee? He’s another one who disapproves of David Cameron’s “Notting Hill” Policies. All Labour speakers are talking-up the social gap between the poor and the Conservative Party. A dangerous and desperate strategy. Only Mandelson has verbally placed the Labour Party firmly in the middle of the political spectrum but he also took the opportunity to accuse the Tories of lurching to the right as soon as they are elected. The Socialists are going to defend  that middle ground to the death. That is where the election will be fought. The Labour strategy appears to be to make the electorate perceive the Tories as a gang of inexperienced extreme right-wing Notting Hill hoorays.

    • Have you noticed how the Party that’s behind in the polls always accuses the BBC of “bias”. Today we have anti-Government bias – in the old days, under Her Thatcherness and John Major, we had BBC left-wing bias. Apparently the BBC is capable of bias in all sorts of delicious flavours and colours.

    • Gordon Brown has started his speech with a list of Labour achievements. That’s the first five minutes gone. He has obviously structured his speech very simply. The next list is one of his cabinet and their achievements. That will probably be another ten minutes. Luckily I have a hairdressers appointment at 3 o’clock. He’s just mentioned Northern Rock. Talking off-script? He started with a smile but has now forgotten it and his expression has returned to looking as if he’s defusing a Taliban bomb. I notice that his <pauses for applause> seem to be immediately after he has mentioned a large number of some sort and his intonation changes as if he’s saying “Crackerjack pencil! “He’s mentioned Harriet and Alistair but has now stopped naming Cabinet members. My current thought is that his speechwriters should be ritually disemboweled and fed to Darth Mandelson. His speech has now become the usual drone. As he is slagging-off the bankers, I fear that it is time to go. If you listen to his speeches, you will notice that he seldom uses adjectives or adverbs. I just killed a fly and wonder whether I should turn the Aga back on today, in  spite of the sunny weather. Our field was cut a couple of days ago but I just cannot summon the energy to cut the lawn. It takes two hours. Gordon Brown is still talking. He doesn’t like banks, does he? Surprising therefore that he’s invested so much of our money in them. I’ll record it and come back later after a couple of Bushmills. He’s just used the most exciting phrase of the whole speech – Economic Model. Enough. He’s off on his pre-leaked Post Office bollocks.  Low carbon Zones? He knows how to give his audience a good time.

    • What’s all this about “Middle England”?  Why don’t they just say Northamptonshire? Or do they mean Middle Earth?

    • In the USA, the Federal Housing Association has a leverage ratio ( What it owes compared to what it owns) of 50-1. Interestingly, that’s just about the same as Bear Stearns had on the eve of its collapse. The FHA insures about $750 billion in mortgage debt. In the UK, “leverage” is known as “gearing”. They are both euphemisms for debt.

    • Have you noticed that the £-Sterling is just about to achieve parity with the Euro?

    • An ASBO is an Anti-Social Behaviour Order and it is usually given out to pikeys and their parents. The trouble is that most of them are so thick that they probably think that an ASBO is a qualification which will be worth a few points on their UCAS form when they go to University to study demolition or vehicle hotwiring. I’ve just seen some ASBO-pikeys being interviewed and it seems that the sub-species favours a single earring and a tattooed neck (men) and the women have to be very fat with bleached hair. Their natural habitat is either a bus shelter or a stained sofa which faces a television. They only eat orange-coloured food – as long as it doesn’t contain fruit or vegetables.

    • Just saw a re-run of Sarah Brown introducing Gordon. She was good. She will be a major Labour weapon in the forthcoming General Election. I wonder if David Cameron’s wife Samantha is taking Powerpoint and sincero-talk lessons?

    Monday September 28th 2009

    • Excellent headline grabbing by that jug-eared gargoyle Andrew Marr. He is without doubt a supreme journalist but his questioning of Gordon Brown yesterday was inexcusable. Suggesting that Brown needs prescription drugs to get through the day, followed by Brown’s admission that he has trouble with his eyesight was a direction that no journalist should steer. There is a real danger that if the Tory Press goes down the  ” Brown’s a sick man and therefore unfit for office” route, there will be a swell of pro-Brown sympathy. Then, if the Socialists succeed in portraying the Tory Shadow Cabinet as a bunch of hoorays lounging about in the senior common room with David Cameron as a self-serving Head Boy, there is a very real possibility that Labour will retain office. Undecided voters are driven by PERCEPTION and not by policies  or past performance. Remember John Major’s victory in 1992? He was behind in the polls, yet in that year claimed the most votes in British electoral history. Leading up to the 1992 election, Labour had been ahead in the polls since 1989 plus the economy had entered a recession under the Tories. Yet Major won and remained in power until 1997.  He won because the electorate liked him and thought that Neil Kinnockwasaprat. Nothing to do with policies.

    • Alistair Darling is going to deliver his usual speech on bank bonuses. “Clawback”, “Unacceptable” “Deferred” etc.will all  make their appearances – as they have done for many months. Alistair Darling will “pledge” to clean-up the banking industry. The proposed Fiscal Responsibility Act sounds like another focus group creation and no doubt, there will be another Financial Services Act close on its heels. He is obviously working on the principle of “If you can’t win the argument – legislate”. It’s all a monumental waste of time but look on the bright side – we will be living in a society where the highest earners are footballers and pop singers. Something which our children can really aspire-to.

    • Gordon Brown says that he won’t  ”roll over”. I do wish that his speechwriters would give him words that he is comfortable with. What’s next? “I ain’t goin’ to be no Tory dude’s bitch. Shabba”?

    • Roman Polanski arrested on a 31-year-old warrant. Apparently in 1978 there was a plea-bargain andhewasto receive a nominal sentence if he pleaded “guilty”. The judge then reneged on the deal so Polanski absconded. Originally, Polanski has been charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14 but the plea-bargain reduced the charges to  a single charge ofunlawful sex with a minor. Polanski was six years old when WW2 broke out and like many Polish children who grew-up during the war, he was damaged. Add to this the horrors of the Manson murders and the killing of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, it is doubtful whether Polanski has ever been in what we might call a normal psychological state. However, the fact remains that he did horrible things to a 13 year-old girl and is a convicted criminal who probably still poses a danger. There is no Statute of Limitations for this type of crime but as his victim has forgiven him and so much time has passed, one hopes that the high-level diplomatic activity currently taking place will result in some sort of amnesty. There should be a White House statement soon.

    • The next Labour Prime Minister is the new the darling of Conference. Yes, Peter Mandelson earned a standing ovation and became the Labour Party joker today after delivering an appalling speech. He stumbled over the funny lines, his timing was out and his voice was its usual oleaginous drawl. However, the Conference highlight up to that point had been Alistair Darling and had it not been for Mandelson, they audience would have been engaging in synchronised self-harming. That’s how dire it had been. He is going to extend the scrappage scheme <applause>. Sadly, he appeared to be talking about motor cars and not the Cabinet. The scrappage scheme will keep the Japanese, German and Korean car industries going for a couple more months so let’s hope that their own governments can take over soon after that. 

    • Tomorrow Gordon Brown is widely expected to give “the speech of his life”.  That good eh? He’s probably in his hotel room practicing by reading the instructions on his Corby trouser press – that’s just about the level of excitement that he’ll generate tomorrow. But the Labouristas will clap and there will be a standing ovation. Is it true that the conference-hall doors lock from the outside?

    • Alistair Darling’s speech also had all the excitement of a talk on basket-weaving at the local WI . He obviously had gaps in his script indicating <pause for audience reaction>. Unfortunately, the pauses were more exciting and informative than the text. As expected he did some pointless macho posturing on the subject of bank bonuses  – in the certain knowledge that the whole thing will be picked up by “Boy” George Osborne and lost in the mountain of unfinished business that Labour will leave behind in the May 2010 rush to clear their desks.

    • The British Frigate IRON DUKE scored a decent stash of Colombian Marching Powder, weighing 5.5 tons with a street value of £250,000,000. Apparently , the fishing boat containing the stuff was sailing erratically and suspiciously. That’s Coke for you! The only worry is that instead of sinking the boat WITH the cargo, the frigate is now taking the cargo to New York. Let’s hope that H.M.S Iron Duke doesn’t sail up 34th Street all shiny-eyed and twitchy to tie-up outside Macy’s. 

    Sunday September 27th 2009

    • Just down the road in Brighton THEY are arriving for the Labour Party Conference – or should that be the New Labour Party Conference. Did we elect Labour or NEW LABOUR? Anyway, that’s  now just a technicality or a long-forgotten dream of how things could or might have been. Here’s a Labour FACT, given to me by a friend who used to be Chief Barman at the Grand Hotel. More Champagne is consumed at the Labour Party Conference than at all other conferences and he told me stories of vintage Champers being quaffed  – not from a young lady’s glass slipper but from PINT jugs. If I recall correctly, that particular incident involved a gang (?) of Trade Unionists. Now THAT’S Socialism.

    • You know things are bad within the Labour Party when John Prescott begins to look like a Statesman (comparatively speaking). When Johno was Deputy Prime Minister, he used to deliver those grammar-free rabble-rousing “calls to arms” which could have been such fun if we’d understood what he was talking about. This year it’s Harriet’s turn and it won’t be the same. It will be the difference between a drug-crazed, alcohol-fuelled multi-position shagfest anddoingitquietly, Missionary-style with the lights out.

    • Gordon Brown is to introduce a law which is currentl;y being referred-to as the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FSA) (running out of ideas,perhaps?).The Act will oblige all future Governments to reduce the country’s borrowing by a set minimum amount. Needless to say, the amount and timescale are yet to be decided – probably a commission or enquiry… So what will happen if a Government fails to repay the minimum amount in a given year? A fine? Arrests? I suggest firing squads.

    • The Labour spin doctors have decided that David Cameron will be portrayed as a shallow toff – a script and autocue-reading “hooray”. Normally, that would upset the Tories but then they remembered the alternative.

    • Quote from Gordon Brown: “By 2015 we want our country to be fairer, greener, more prosperous and democratic.”  Seems to me that we have several Labour admissions in that sentence.

    • Lord “Darth” Mandelson has referred to David Cameron as “hugely arrogant”. Not really much more to say on that one.

    • Mandelson has said that he believes that the forthcoming election is “up for grabs”. Yes it is – by the Tories.

    • Great interview in the Sunday Mirror today. Vincent Ross interviews Mandelson and re-defines the phrase “butt-kisser”. Perhaps a spin-job awaits at No.10?

    • Iran is launching missiles today. So, they have missiles and they’re developing the capacity to stick nuclear warheads at the missiles’ sharp-end. I am now off to have another “No shit, Sherlock” moment. I shall report when I’ve worked it all out.

    • Why are the authorities making such heavy-weather of Baroness Scotland and “CLEANERGATE”. If they announced an amnesty for all illegals, they would have to hire at least one Wembley Stadium to fit them all into. Leave the Baroness and her cleaner alone. Is it because she’s clever, female, attractive and black? Mind you, she is Labour. See what you mean.

    • Ken Livingston has just married. At London Zoo. There are some things which are way, way beyond parody.

    • “I want this so badly” “It’s been a great journey for me” “Singing is my life” ” I’m doing this for my (sob) brother/mother/ sister etc”  and ” I’m sure he’s looking down on me” The last one is about Simon Cowell. He’s not dead – just incredibly condescending.

    • Great quote from Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan “Shagger” Cole on Jo Wood. ” One of Jo’s big strengths is that she’s alive.”Considering how long she lived with Ronnie Wood- it has to be worth a mention and maybe a box of chocolates. We all hope that Ronnie Wood is reunited with Jo as soon as possible-he is currently risking his life. Some of those Russian girls will do anything for a bowl of Borsch and clean sheets. Anything.

    • In 2008, the NHS collected £112 million in parking charges. With such figures, perhaps the NHS should concentrate on parking and stop the healing and surgery  activities which probably distract them from where the REAL profits are. Perhaps a joint-venture with NCP beckons? Worryingly, £28 million was collected from its own staff. It’s a great wheeze. Tax the sick, tax their families and tax those who look after them. Who helped with the Business Model? Gordon Brown?

    Saturday September 26th 2009

    • The  American Fed has issued the following statement:   To provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets, and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve will purchase a total of $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and up to $200 billion of agency debt.”  Now we can watch the demise of the once-mighty American Dollar. Fund Managers and Investors will now start dumping dollars like confetti. A TRILLION is a million millions and in this case, it represents more Quantitative Easing or to be strictly accurate, the purchase of toxic assets with “printed”  i.e non-existent money. The sort that caused the global banking meltdown. This is a case of throwing bad money after bad.

    • President Obama has announced tough new capital requirements for banks as well as more stringent rules on bank borrowings. If you were to ask what these rules are likely to be or when they are to be implemented, the answer would probably be “We haven’t really decided but it will definitely happen later.”  They are saying that  the rules will be phased-in once financial conditions improve and recovery is “assured”. Leaders have been discussing a cap on bank bonuses for a while  but they still haven’t agreed any numbers or timescale. The only thing that they have agreed is that bonus payments should not be guaranteed for many years, should be deferred in part and should not exceed a percentage of the bank’s revenue. That is how vague it is at the moment. When the global economy has healed itself and both governments and banks return to generating profits, most of this will be forgotten because by then, the balance of power will, once again have shifted back towards the banks and the next boom-bust cycle will begin.

    • The least entrepreneurial profession of all is banking. There is a vastly different mental attitude between say, an entrepreneur such as Richard Branson and say, MervynKing, the Governor of the Bank of England. That rule works all the way down the line until we have the small local businessman and the small-town banker. Chalk and Cheeze. Incidentally, when I say “entrepreneurial” – I am referring to people who take risks with their own assets.  Just to reinforce the cultural difference – bankers will gladly take risks with other people’s money – especially in very large amounts – as evidenced by the cause of the current Global Banking crisis. However, when a local business goes to its local bank in order to borrow say £20,000 to purchase a machine, lots of fiery hoops are assembled for the business to jump through, fees are charged, personal guarantees are demanded, forms need to be filled out, cash flows and business plans are sought . So when a  small businessman goes to his bank – the MOST likely answer (especially nowadays) in “NO”.  Perhaps unknowingly, the banking profession is not-only killing itself but it is also slow-strangling the business community. The banker chose to work in a bank because he didn’t want the worry of not having a pay cheque at the end of the month, he did not want to work a 16-hour day and he didn’t want to cold-call  people in order to drive his business forward. What he needed from his life was predictability, order, neatness and a company pension. This is the paradox: The banking profession has managed to evolve itself into something which it was not designed to be and  it has managed to do it by what is known as the “Halo Effect”. There is a saying “Get them by the balls and their hearts and minds are bound to follow.”  Banks now have “business advisers”  ; mostly young people with degrees who cannot possibly have ever tasted the fears of an entrepreneurial businessman.  Bank management has developed a culture of self-importance and inaccessibility.  Remember the time when a bank manager tried to impress you in order to win your business? Now , you have to ask him to welcome you to his club so that he can look after your money. He is now doing YOU a favour – unless it’s ” I’d love to help you but the System  ( or those upstairs) say “NO”. The banking tentacles have moved further into he business community. Local Enterprise Organisations and  Business Clubs are now both Governed and heavily populated by more bankers. Entrepreneurial andmanagementadviceisbeingdispensed by a profession with little or no practical or first-hnd business experience or knowledge. That is the Halo Effect. Put simply, because the banker knows about money and has you by the balls, you assume automatically that he is able to dispense Tax Advice, Marketing Advice, Sales Advice, Organisational Advice, Training Advice, Recruitment Advice, Purchasing  Advice and any other Advice that you need.  The total power of the banking community is evidenced by the fact that Chancellors, Prime Ministers and even  Presidents are having to say “Please do something about your bonuses Mister Banker.”  Banking has developed into a multi-headed all-powerful Frankenstein. It is not a simple case of imposing a few rules. What is really needed is a massive cultural change within the banking industry and a massive perceptual change from both private and business clients. If you’re a businessman or work for yourself in any way, ask yourself – ” Am I comfortable with taking business or financial advice  and all the other captive-audience advice that they like to dish-out, from an organisation populated by people who obviously did not heed their own advice and lost billions but have no idea what really happened?”  WATCH THIS SPACE.

    •  I received a letter from a Member of Parliament today. He addressed me by my Christian Name. What’s going on? Paranoid? Moi?

    • The airlines appear to be learning from the banks. British Airways will be charging us again AFTER they have our business. We book a flight and then pay an additional fee  to get a seat. Genius! Can you bring your own seat and pay corkage?

    • There’s only one thing wrong with an Indian Summer. The Global Warming Mullahs will wake from their torpor and deliver the usual speech about our emissions. I think that 4X4 vehicles should be compulsory. Have to go now and have my dolphin steaks and light the coal fire.

    • In the last two years, 150 teachers have been sacked for sexual misconduct. A loss to the teaching profession but what a bonus for the Vatican’s recruitment team!

    • Gordon Brown has been voted World Statesman of the Year – mostly for giving away any leftover taxpayers’ money that Mervyn King has not given to the banks. Brown has been generous to Africa and quite right too. In addition, he has enjoyed many politicians’ or Pope’s ultimate wet-dream. An embrace from Bonio who , apart from being big in the dog-biscuit trade, is (apparently) some sort of Irish pop singer. He plays in a popular beat combo named after some American spy-plane. U2, I think. Crucial.

    • Remember Gordon Brown selling off the UK’s gold to China a few years ago? Who better to value, melt-down anddoitallover again with that pile of  gold Anglo-Saxon tat recently dug up in Staffordshire – wherever that is. Middle Earth?

    • There’s a very exclusive TV Club – the old dears who used to read the news and appeared on the Christmas Morecambe and Wise show in the 50s and who did high kicks andeithermarriedapolicemanorshagged Jon Snow or went to live on a farm in Scotland. Pretty soon, the pre-teens running the BBC andthecommercialchannel will be  playground-bullied into re-hiring these venerable oldsters.  Prepare for News at Ten to look like a re-run of Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 1.

    • In 1959, Typhoon Vera struck Nagoya in Japan. There was a 20 ft tsunami, 150 mph winds and 5000 people died. Did you know that they managed ALL that without Global Warming! They could do stuff like that in the 50s. We have a lot to learn.

    • TV’sDoctorGorgeousappearedtohaveeverything – but he was struck by the one affliction that even he could not cure. He lost the ability to keep it in his trousers. Marriage, Mistress, Divorce, Mistress, two-timed Mistress, Girlfriend.  Best of luck mate. The definitive case of “Surgeon heal Thyself”.

    • In an average week, I speak to 5 or 6 Chief Executives – guys I’ve either trained, coached or who I know personally. This week I had the most weird experience with a company CEO and company owner. He fancies himself as a “leader” but  is just realising that he has recently reached the upper limits of his incompetence. The stress-levels are phenomenal and I shall devote a whole article to him next week. Look out for it – it WILL be libellous!

    • Fantastic evening for crumblies. ITV is celebrating 250 years of Cliff Richard. He hasn’t changed one bit – apart from wearing Frankie Howard’s old rug. Well, it’s either that or a  very quiet ginger cat.

    Friday September 25th 2009

    Friday September 25th 2009

    • The mole who leaked the MPs’ expenses information to the Daily Telegraph has revealed what motivated him to do so – apart that is, from the £110,000 fee that he was paid. It now appears that his primary motivation was not money but the fact that serving soldiers were “moonlighting” at the House of Commons. They were working in the Security department and protecting the Civil Servants who were dealing with confidential matters – one of which was Members’ expenses. Apparently, it wasn’t long before the soldiers realised the extent and extravagance of MPs’ expenses and so glimpsed the comparative opulence and excesses of the politicians’ lifestyles.  The very people who represented them and who had sent them abroad to be shot at. The sums of money involved in the claims that they either saw or were told about were further amplified by the fact that the soldiers were doing this extra work in order to buy decent boots and body protectors and other items which would make their soldiering duties easier and safer. It is currently very easy for us to feel very emotional  when they hear stories such as this – but we should proceed with extreme caution because it now seems that the mole is trying to justify his actions in leaking the information. He appears to be telling us that he now feels vindicated because of the “poor” soldiers and because MPs have to-date returned over £500,000 in mis-claimed expenses. Planes bearing dead blown-to-bits soldiers, processions through Wootton Bassett and full-page photographs of a recently mutilated soldier paying his last respects to his blown-up dead buddy certainly do tug at the heart-strings. Great propaganda andimmaculatetimingbyourmole. Now the facts: The mole received £110,000 pounds from a right-wing paper. Currently each soldier receives Osprey lightweight body armour and£3500 – worth of state-of-the-art equipment – including boots and shoes. The mole’s motives for leaking the information would not be in question had he not accepted such a large amount of money – which one presumes has been donated to the Army Benevolent Fund. I am not a great supporter either of this Government or of the pointless shenanigans in Afghanistan but sometimes there are over-sugared pills which are just too difficult to swallow.

    • One question remains: Why were security men  -serving soldiers or not- allowed to either view or be given  confidential information.

    • China , India and Brazil are to play a more prominent part in G20 and will also have more IMF votes. Currently, China wields 3.7% of IMF votes compared with France’s 4.9%, although the Chinese economy is now 50% larger than that of France and  in spite of the fact that China has over 20 Provinces which each has a population greater than that of France. This looks very much like the dawn of the Eastern or New economies and the inevitable sunset for the once all-powerful West. Regrettably, not only is it a question of size and manufacturing power but the West is currently “in hock” to China. Chinese and Indian savers enabled all of us to be borrowers. Now economists are saying that the East has to create the same free-spending and borrowing consumer society that we have enjoyed for so many years: just look where WE are now! Are we really so well-placed as to be dispensing economic advice?

    • Another New Labour piece of legislation which has been languishing in the long grass for a while is the changing or possibly the removal of the Statutory Retirement Age. It is a shame that there are ex-teachers, ex-managers, ex-engineers who happen to be over 65 and who are now either shelf-stacking, working at B&Q or watching Countdown. What a waste. The Government says that the matter will be dealt-with in 2010, in other words, by the Tories. Meanwhile, at least 300 over 65s are taking ex-employers to Tribunals and yet again, lawyers have become involved. That is New Labour’s one big success – through their intransigence and incompetence, they have produced the best-ever Lawyer Job-Creation Scheme. The Brits have always been obsessed with 65 being their time to stop work, relax, take long holidays etc. Unfortunately in many cases it’s retire, sit around for a bit, die.  We are changing as a nation and it is not purely because of the recession or plundered company pension schemes that people wish to carry-on working. Our “retirement mentality” has gradually been disappearing and people genuinely WANT to work for as long as they can. OK, there are very physical jobs where at age 65, you’re clapped-out. For instance, building, mining or farming. You can punish your body to such an extent that by the time you are 50, you start looking forward to the day when you can stop. However, nowadays many of us are engaged in non-physical work which means that we SHOULD be as fit at 65 as we were at 45. Policies should not be driven by a Government with one eye on unemployment statistics because as usual, public opinion is against them. It’s now time for the Statutory Retirement Age to be abolished.

    • Iran is the world’s fourth-biggest oil producer. No wonder they need to make such a vast investment in nuclear energy. You never know! Or, could it be that the Mullahs want to produce nuclear warheads in order obliterate Israel and/or the USA. That’s not possible because the Koran says that Muslims want us all to be their chums. Here are three quotes directly from the Koran (or Quran if you know your Peking from your Beijing). Here goes: “O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” (5.51)  or :“So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates.” (47.4)  or “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement” (5.33) As I said – nothing to worry about. They’re just misunderstood. Talk of fundametalist Muslims being a bunch of fanatical murdering misogynist psychos is very naughty. They want to love us – as we love them. It says so in the Quran. Let them build their nuclear power stations bombs. It’s for our own good. Just think about all that cheap electricity.

    Nearly forgot: “O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand.” (8.65)

    • The often misunderstood and misinterpreted thing which suggests that when a  Muslim blows himself up for the cause , he will be rewarded in Paradise with 40 virgins to shag (presumably) -is wrong. Martyrs in Islam are classified as people who die for their religion whereas people who blow themselves up for women are dying for their own lusts. It’s Hell for them. Presumably you need to die with a hard-on. Not impossible – many men do, apparently.

    These are Iran’s main Nuclear sites:

    Thursday September 24th 2009

    • The Government has criticised the Football Association for not reforming itself. It has also asked the F.A to spend more time and resources on ethnics and women as well as telling them that they should provide better leadership. Perhaps when the F.A has completed its restructuring it can then give H.M Government a few tips. Talk about Pot-Kettle.

    • A recent U.S survey shows that many Americans think that Tony Blair is the British Prime Minister. Someone ought to tell them who the real UK Prime Minister is. Darth Mandelson.

    • Mandelson has been quoted as saying that Gordon Brown ought to “lighten up”  a bit. Not THAT smile again PLEASE!!!!  NOOOO!!!

    • What is it about meetings beginning with a “G”? Why is our expectation level do low? Is it because we know that the post-meeting statement has already been written? Is it because all previous meetings were such a monumental waste a waste of resources, time and money? Anyway – who DOES write that n-page statement which announces the next meeting in 6 months? Gordon Brown’s LAST such meeting.

    • Is it true that Obama snubbed Gordon Brown? Obama has had one-on-one meetings withotherleaders. Why not with our own Prime Minister? Is it because of the Megrahi affair or could it be because of the increasingly prominent sell-by date on Gordon Brown’s forehead?

    • Banks are currently reducing their assets and hoarding cash because of liquidity requirements. Put in simple terms, that means that the magic conjured-up money – the so-called Quantitative Easing is making it in through the banks’ back doors but the front doors remain only slightly ajar. READ REST OF ARTICLE

    • In 1998, the Saville Inquiry began its investigations into the shooting of 29 Civil Rights protesters by soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the British  Parachute Regiment. Five protesters were shot in the back and two injured protesters were run down by Army vehicles. Fourteen people died. This was the Bloody Sunday Massacre which took place on 30th January 1972 in Derry. The original Widgery Tribunal concluded that the  soldiers actions could be best described as “bordering on the reckless” . Unsurprisingly, the Widgery report was widely regarded as a whitewash. Hence the Saville Inquiry. Now we hear that the Saville Inquiry will report in March 2010!!! Apparently, there’s a printing issue that needs to be resolved. Once again , this 11-year inquiry brings into focus two great British institutions – queueing and inquiries. Not to mention a steady income for a whole “shark” of lawyers.

    • The anniversary of Lehman Brothers going down the toilet has passed anditisnowayearsincethesolidsreallyhitthe air-conditioning big time. For those who do not really understand finance – and who really does these days, here’s the deal. Politicians and bankers knew for at leat 18 months before the collapse that there was not enough cash in the system andthatmost, if not ALL banks were now standing on foundations of sand. It was only when Lehman had to admit that there was no real money – only paper ” instruments” which could be worth cash , that it was realised that the real currency that the banks had been  dealing-in was bullshit and promises. Politicians are now beginning to strike heroic poses as they tell us how they saved the banking system and that they only-just managed to avert a financial Armageddon. The real fact is that they knew what was happening all along and lived in the HOPE that somehow (they did not know how), the financial system would self-adjust or self-regulate itself back to stability . It didn’t and the solution that is being applied today is exactly the same as that which caused the collapse. Imaginary money. Eighteen months ago, bankers and politicians were HOPING that the system would sort itself out and that is EXACTLY what they are hoping for today. What is really needed is a total restructuring of the banking system but there isn’t the global political will to make that first all-important move.

    • There’s a (denied) rumour that Gordon Brown is going blind. Obviously we all hope that he is not. In spite of the fact that he has all the leadership qualities of damp Kleenex, he is a decent man. The rumour that he is blind has obviously been started by someone who is confusing his eyesight with his policies and management style.

    Wednesday September 23rd 2009

    • Apparently, there is a small but statistically significant rise in patient deaths when junior doctors start work in August. Perhaps the same survey should be done with slightly different parameters: Before pubs open and after closing time.

    • A friend sent me a cartoon yesterday which, for the first time, explained the constant Midde East conflict . Jewish man  looking up at the sky saying, “Now, let me get this straight God. The Arabs get the oil and you want us to cut the end off our what….?” 

    • This snippet explains better than anything the anonymous nature of the Liberals’ leader. Nick Clegg will be delivering the Leader’s rabble-rousing Conference for the THIRD time!! He will attempt to come cross as a TOUGH leader. Doesn’t compute, does it? He always looks as if he’s just taken a “NICE” pill.

    • Justin-lee Collins has said what many are thinking: Bruce Forsyth should have stopped TV presenting three or four years ago. There’s a touch of the Emperor’s New Clothes about the whole thing. So much so that no-one appears willing to say ” Brucie, you are now coming across as an old twat. Piss off”. Instead the poor old bugger is being patronised, allowed to be unfunny (obviously from the tumbleweed school of humour) and worst of all, he’s being referred-to as “sprightly”.An adjective every man dreads because it is THE word which signifies the beginning of the end. It is NOT a compliment. It means that you are past-it and when you attempt to tap dance avec embarrassing Sammy Davis Jr-esque gurning, you look like a swinging cadaver with a ferret up a wet trouser leg.

    • I have just discovered that Chas & Dave have split up.     p.s. I am writing this on Beachy Head.

    • Kristna Rihanoff whose Strictly Come Dancing partner is Joe Calzaghe celebrated her birthday yesterday. Rumour has it that Joe and Kristina have grown very close. I  wonder whether he had any difficuty in wrapping her present?

    • More meaningless military “sincero-talk”today. Acting Sergeant Michael Lockett was blown up by a roadside bomb in Helmand Province.  “There’s now a gap in our ranks that will be so very difficult to fill”  and  “Sgt Lockett’s raw bravery and seflessness cost hm his life but undoubtedly saved that of one of his soldiers.”  are just two more examples from the Army Book of Fine Words. Meaningless twaddle. Sgt Locketthas left behindastrickengirlfriend and three children aged eight, seven and five. “We take solace in the fact that he died doing a job he was born to do” was more puke-inducing bollocks – this time from his father.  Stop this pseudo-heroic crap and bring ALL of our young soldiers back here to the United Kingdom, where they belong. The Taliban certainly do not see these young soldiers as heroes  –  more like fairground ducks.

    • When will the Vatican be called to account over the tens of thousands of children that have been abused by pervert priests? The Catholic Church has been accused at the United Nations Human Rights Council of a systematic and long-standing cover-up. The Vatican is in breach of its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Handing out MILLIONS in compensation is really not the way forward. It’s customary to pay for sex up-front , not ten, twenty or thirty years after the event. Let us hope that one day there will be a time when the Vatican can close its child-abuse fund and get on with the business of religion.

    • Nothing about Gordon Brown today because he hasn’t said anything new or original. Situation normal. 

    Tuesday September 22nd 2009

    • Did you see Darth Mandelson being questioned on the subject of bankers’ bonuses last night? As Business Secretary, he has the power to stop the bankers in their tracks. But he cannot and he would not answer any bonus-related questions.

    • General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan has warned that the war there could be lost unless there is an increase in troops within a year. He is asking for an additional 30,000 troops.  This is truly developing into another Vietnam. Currently, there are 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, 62,000 of whom are American. Time to talk.

    • The United Kingdom is needlessly wasting resources by sending too many average and some downright thick students to University. In fact, there are too many Universities. Hence the current funding crisis. The solution is so simple that even an Education Minister ought to be able to work it out.

    • The worldwide recession and the resulting drop in consumer demand has had a profound effect on industrial production. That has had an unexpectedly welcome effect on greenhouse gas emission – it has fallen by over 40%. Perhaps the Global Warming Mullahs will take this opportunity to shut up.

    • Anish Kapoor, the 1991 Turner Prize winner has a solo exhibtion the Royal Academy. This event is unusual because Anish lacks the traditional qualification for such a exhibition. He isn’t dead. If you enjoy abstract sculpture and/or you like spouting pretentious arty bollocks, then this exhibition is for you. Here’s a nosegay from Anish himself: “That sense of the poem being put together as word objects relates to sculpture in a very fundamental way. Sculpture also has this ability to be what it isn’t. It’s kind of about the illusory and the real.”Quite.  Anish is very keen on vaginas so do look out for the odd wobbly red letterbox shape.

    • The media seem surprised that construction companies and builders have been ripping-off Local Authorities and other organisations which are spending other peoples’ money. It’s been going on for years. This is from April 2008 – CLICK HERE– and it includes a scene from the Coconut Club, which you will be hearing more and more about over the next few weeks.

    • This week is Climate Week – a crucial  week in the quest for a global climate deal. World leaders are meeting at the UN in New York and a G20 summit in Pittsburgh. Meetings such as this have been going on for a few years now so let us hope that the current series of meetings produces something that has been sadly missing from previous encounters. Action. In December the Copenhagen environmental conference will hopefully be the real turning point and turn meetings into agreements into action.

    • Global Warming: Predictions are made using computer models and although the general consensus is that Global Warming is occurring, there are scientists (the so-called “deniers”) who have alternative models which suggest that the Earth will cool before its becomes hotter. Regrettably, the religious-like aspects of Global Warming, treat scientists who deny Global Warming as heretics who are often lampooned andmarginalisedby both the scientific and political communities.  The latest of these is a   Professor Mojib Latif, from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel,  who has suggested that the long-term warming trend could be masked – perhaps for as long as 10 or 20 years – by a temporary cooling caused by natural fluctuations in currents and temperatures called the NorthAtlanticOscillation. It all seems to depend on which set of data is plugged into which computer model.  However, it is the politicians who are the true believers who only appear to read data which supports their dogma.

    • Helen Goddard , music teacher has been jailed for 15-months as the result of a lesbian affair with a 15-year-old pupil. How modern. Not nice – but definitely “of the age”.

    • Rumour has it that Louis Walsh, the Irish spud  and pop manager from the X-factor is going under the knife in order to improve his looks. There must be a long queue of knife-sharpening volunteers. Surprising that he hasn’t yet benefited from sitting so close to that pair of  BotoxedBookends – Simon Cowell and Danni Minogue – by osmosis.

    • Sir Bobby Robson’s Memorial service must have been an ordeal for Paul Gascoigne. There was only one photo of Gazza that the snappers wanted – and they got it.

    • This is the sort of medical research that we like:  If you have alcohol in your bloodstream, you are far less likely to die from a head injury, says Dr Ali Salim from Los Angeles. The findings are based on a 5-year study of 38,000 people. You can’t be too careful. Cheers.

    • Nothing in the Press about Jordan today. Max Clifford must be on a long weekend break.

    • Attorney-General Baroness Scotland is still facing an uncertain future. Gordon Brown, her boss is being his usual decisive self. This is what he said this morning: “We will have to find out what has actually happened and I will have to wait for that report this morning and she will want to answer the questions that are put to her. We will have to make decisions.”  Brown obviously has not been watching the news or reading his Daily Worker. The fact is that Baroness Scotland employed someone who did not have authorisation to work in the United Kingdom. In fact, her papers expired five years ago. As usual, the long grass is quivering in anticipation.

    Monday September 21st 2009

    • It now appears that Womens World  800m champion Caster Semenya was tested ages ago and there has been concern over her sex for months. The issue did not suddenly materialise at the last Word Championships. The whole thing has been handed so badly that there is every likelihood of IAAF resignations.

    • Baroness Scotland will probably resign this week. If every politician who made a mistake resigned, Westminster would be empty by now.

    • It looks as if Megrahi is going to be the first criminal to be retried on the Internet. We’re still awating an intervention from God and the miracle recovery. There has been one previous miraculous recovery by a convicted criminal. Ernest Saunders (1980s Guinness Scandal) was freed by a judge because he was suffering from Alzheimer’s. So far, Ernest Saunders in the first  and only recorded case of a total recovery from Alzheimer’s. The recovery took place soon after he was released from jail. Speaking of miraculous recoveries – Ronnie “released on compassionate grounds” Biggs has been seen out and about on his mobility scooter. Megrahi or Biggs? I’m off to Ladbrokes to make a small investment.

    • The Liberals are having their occasional rush of blood and putting themselves forward as a party of government. Remember David Steel in 1981? “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government.”  Forget it boys and girls. There’s Vince Cable and Norman Baker and after that it all becomes a bit anonymous. Nick who?

    • The Liberals want to tax home owners whose properyis worth in excess of a million. They will be the only Party whose policies will be derailed by a property crash andonthatbasisalone, this policy has the depth and solidity of  a closing-time back-of-a-beermat “I really lovvve you”  concept. They’re not sponsored by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, are they? This new policy is the Liberals’ biggest-ever lurch to the left. The sort of thing that New Labour would have done when they were Proper Labour.

    • The elephant in the room – the one that no-one is talking about is still there. I am of course referring to the economy.

    • Several big companies, including a couple of large builders as well as the Royal Bank of Scotland will be coming to market very soon to raise many billions. Watch those share prices.  Here we go again.

    • Have you noticed how Kerry Katona’s nose is looking more and more like Danniella Westbrook’s last nose-but-one?

    • The Education bods are gettinng a bit twitchy at Ed Balls’ suggestions of swingeing cuts in Education. It is the designer-suited BMW-driving “advisers” at County Hall who should think twice before renewing their gym membership or booking that holiday in Tuscany. CLICK HERE

    • I did not see Alesha Dixon’s debut on Strictly Whatsit but it sounds as if she had a list of pre-prepared crap written down, dispensed it quite randomly and personalised it by adding bad grammar.

    • Rules are being published this week which will exempt family and friends from being prosecuted after assisting in a suicide.  It is purely coincidental that these rules are being rushed through just before Gordon Brown’s conference speech.

    • Manchester City manger Mark Hughes is complaining that too much time was added on at the endofyesterday’sderbygame with Mancheser United.  Michael Owen scored Man Utd’s winning goal in he 97th minute. Hughes forgets that his team had the identical extra time in which to score.

    Monday September 7th 2009-Friday September 18th 2009

    Friday September 18th 2009 

    • There has been some concern that Romell Broom may have suffered mental anguish when two Ohio State officials failed to find a vein in order to deliver a fatal injection. According to Broom’s lawyer, Broom had suffered both “mental and physical injuries” and apparently became distressed and appeared to cry. Broom was convicted of raping and then killing a 14 year-old girl.
    • We’re too fat, we drink too much alcohol, we’re unfit, we ingest female hormones in our meat  and weedkillers from our vegetables and we’re too stressed. Paradoxically, our life expectancy is increasing.
    • Alistair Darling is engaged in a series of meetings in order to decide where spending cuts can be made. If you’re expecting decisions within the next few months – stop being so silly. Although professional pundits do now have the opportunity to make pointless predictions.

    • Andy Burnham is suggesting yet more NHS changes. The God of Change strikes again! This month’s idea is that we will all be able to choose our GP. I would like one that’s qualified, understands human anatomy and is sober.

    • Baroness Scotland should know that in a Court of Law, ignorance is no defence. Mind you, the Baroness is the Attorney General. Hopefully, hiring someone called Loloahi Tapui(clue!) with out-of-date papers was just an oversight and as such, does not generate a witch-hunt. Oh yes – there’s an enquiry. There’s always a feckin’ enquiry.

    • Suddenly, Jordan doesn’t want to talk about “the rape”. It seems that her PR people are running out of interesting stories. The only remaining possbilities are either  ” I was abused as a child” or “I was abducted by aliens”.

    • Bit of a “to-do” about  unofficial sperm donors. Apparently, ladies can contact a sperm donor  on-line, arrange a meeting and either be handed a container-full of the stuff or on occasion have it delivered direct through the medium of sex. Hence the phrase : “”Bottled or draught?”  Sounds like an excellent service as well as an interesting career move, although it could mess-up the old CV, especially if the CV is printed on a sheet of Kleenex. Just realised that if this type of work is a career, the phrase “hand job” begins to make sense.

    • How would the management at Student Loans UK feel if they were told that because of administrative incompetence, their September salaries will be paid at the end of October. They would probably be quite upset. Next question: How do young kids with the incredible stress associated with leaving home feel-when they’re told by Student Loans UK that their University grants will be paid “about” four weeks late? Why is the beginning of the academic year ALWAYS a surprise? For the record and to help Student Loans UK: The next academic year will be starting in October 2010. Hopefully, that’s enough notice.

    • Scientists at Newcastle University have produced human sperm in the laboratory. Didn’t know that there was a shortage. Just take a chipping hammer to any Confessional carpet.

    • Gordon Brown said today “Cooperation between nations at the G20 summit will be crucial to ensure global economic recovery”  That is probably the twentieth version of the same sentence . It is a truism and it’s boring. Here’s another sentence which I hope Gordon finds as interesting as his own deep thoughts: ” The sun is in the sky”

    • Here is a quote from this evening’s No 10 bulletin: “The Prime Minister is launching a brand new podcast series this week talking directly to you about the big issues of the day. The podcasts, which will be available on our iTunes channel andonYouTube, will be recorded at Downing Street or around the world when the Prime Minister is travelling.”  Wow! That Gordon Brown is so “street”  -using that Interwebthingytoconnectwith the YouTube dudes. Way to go, MC Gordo! Soon,  he’ll be buying a pair of those really cool Levi Strauss blue denim casual trousers with the turn-ups, copper rivets and the little red label. Sound! Should go well with the black brogues.

    • Remember what I told you about the American dollar going into freefall. Soon. Continue reading Monday September 7th 2009-Friday September 18th 2009

    A story for our times

    Three eminent gentlemen were on the 18th green -just about to complete an afternoon  of golf. There was an eminent architect, an eminent surgeon and their Member of Parliament. The men were accompanied by their dogs. They had named their dogs after the tools of their trade: Sliderule, Scalpel and Bullshit.

    The architect said to the other two, ” Watch this!” as he called his dog. ” Sliderule! Go boy!”

    Sliderule was a solid Black Labrador and he spent a few minutes rummaging in the undergrowth picking up sticks and within five minutes he had built a perfectly stressed cantilevered bridge across the stream adjacent to the green. The surgeon and the MP were impressed.

    Then the surgeon called his dog – an elegant Saluki. He commanded his dog ” Scalpel, go boy!”

    Scalpel also ran around and foraged in the undergrowth – occasionally he did a bit of digging  and within four minutes, he’d laid out a perfect facsimile of a human skeleton on the 18th green.

    The others were even more impressed.

    The politician then said “That’s nothing  – watch this.” He summoned his dog. ” Bullshit! Go boy.”

    Bullshit was a clapped out old Bulldog but he still had a few moves left.  On his master’s command, Bullshit ran around aimlessly for a bit, then he knocked down the bridge, ate all the bones, fucked the other two dogs, claimed some expenses and took the rest of the day off.

    Those damned rules!

    Elliot Morley MP did not “made a mistake” when he fraudulently claimed £800 per month for a non-existent mortgage. Likewise,  Andrew MacKay MP and his wife and fellow MP, Julie Kirkbride knew exactly what they were doing when they were claiming for two “second homes”. Two Labour Lords have allegedly been exposed as a couple of crooks who were willing to take cash in exchange for altering Laws. Again, these were not mistakes.

    The “It was within the Rules” mantra is no longer being trotted out because MPs have realised that Rules express no moral or ethical responsibilities. Chequebooks are being waved about, yet only just over £100,000 has been pledged by increasingly panicked MPs who are not promising the return of cash through any sense of “right-and wrong” because it’s far too late for that.  They ignored the concept of right and wrong and because they have been caught with their closed hands in the till, their self-preservation instinct has kicked-in.

    Andrew MacKay has fallen on his sword in order to  save his wife’s career because his has peaked. She should now be nailed as “accessory” and also asked to resign.

    That bug-eyed louche, professional Mr Clever-pants, Peter Ustinov wannabe and Royal butt-kisser Stephen Fry has offered an opinion and believes that it is all a storm-in-a-teacup and that “we’ve all done it”. No we haven’t Stephen. Mind you, Stephen’s been banged up for naughtiness so his judgement will always be suspect and hopefully he has learned a good lesson. Never talk to a reporter when you are pissed. At best, you end up sounding like a know-all uber-opinionated cab driver. At worst, an ersatz upper-class prat.

    By the end of this week, it will be the end of the beginning for our naughty MP chums  but also the beginning of the end for Gorbals Mick (Mr Speaker) and Gordon Brown, the er…Prime Minister.

    Brown is currently swaying from foot to foot wondering what to do . We have established that his decision-making is on the dodgy side and that he manages through the joint media of the “enquiry” (Macro Management) and the thrown mobile phone and shouting (Day-to-day or Micro Management). He has probably already exhausted his entire repertoire on this one.

    David Cameron has managed to overtake Gordon and will hit the first corner well in the lead because he has made a decision and ordered his MPs to get their chequebooks out and start reimbursing the Public Purse. Gesture Politics at their finest!  He too has a surprise coming because this is not about money any more, it is about the authority of our Parliament. Had the Party Leaders managed their troops effectively and had the grand chequebook gesture happened say a year ago the matter would, by now, be at the “tidying-up” stage. Instead we have what looks like a badly-written Crisis Management case study underpinned by empty words and blind panic.

    Meanwhile, whilst Cameron is temporarily cooling-off in the calming breeze of two hundred fluttering chequebooks, Gordon does what he knows. He looks in the direction of an enquiry. Any enquiry. The ideal enquiry for him would be a “Please make it go away, Mummy” type.

    Meanwhile The Speaker of the House, scarlet jowls quivering as the berates the most upstanding  (and innocent) MPs and sees everything that flies in his direction as a personal threat, also does what he does best. He fails to understand the gravity of the crisis.

    Make no mistake, the Speaker and Prime Minister are now standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the trapdoor and there will be a massive fight as all hands attempt to pull that lever.

    The next stage (hopefully) will be in the hands of the Police and the Inland Revenue.


    G20 bender

    These are the wines that were served up to the G20 delegates. The total bill for the wine was a bargain £6000 which is a small fraction of the total wining and dining bill which was approximately £500,000. Perhaps the taxpayer should be grateful. Here is the list:

    Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 1986 – 19 bottles @ £140 per bottle.

    Château Leoville Poyferré 1989 – 29 bottles @ £60 per bottle.

    Concha Y Toro Merlot Sunrise 2006 – 11 bottles @ £6 per bottle

    Domaine de Planterieu 2006 – 13 bottles @ £5 per bottle

    Nyetimber 1998 – 10 bottles @ £23

    Louis Roederer Carte Blanche – 2 bottles @ £35

    Fonseca 1977 – 5 bottles @ £137

    Chapel Down Lamberhurst Eatste Bacchus Reserve 2004 – 30 bottles @ £10

    Three Choirs Bacchus Estate Reserve 2004 – 17 bottles @ £10

    The G20 weekend of excess  produced a statement and a document which has already been forgotten.

    It was all designed to boost Gordon Brown’s image. He is now seen as the Walter Mitty of International politics.

    Hillsborough 1989-2009

    Brian Reade of the Dail Mirror has created a tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster and it was distributed with the paper on 15th April 2009 – the 20th anniversary of one of the darkest days.

    I had several attempts at reading Brian’s very moving piece. Every time I tried to have a run at it, a dark anger seemed to get in the way but I persevered – not as a Liverpool or Nottingham Forest fan and not because I was there but simply,  because I love football.

    All who love football share an indefinable bond, an empathy and even a language – which Brian expresses better than anyone.

    Yesterday’s most harrowing quote: “I used to be a mother and a wife. Now I am neither.” Although the hollow-eyed lady delivered those 13 words as a quiet, dignified  statement of fact – it was no less devastating…………….

    Please click on the picture for the tribute but before you do, see Brian’s short article published two days after the disaster – it is pasted below. The words are simple but if it was the red-white heat of his anger which  fired each furiously denunciatory sentence, who would blame him? He was there.

    This article was first published in the Daily Post on April 17, 1989 – two days after the Hillsborough tragedy.

    Nearly 100 people lost their lives on Saturday – because they didn’t count.

    They didn’t count because they were football fans and in the eyes of authority, and indeed the general public, that placed them beneath contempt.

    As I watched young policemen frantically trying to pump life back into corpses on ripped advertising hoardings, the shattering numbness of that night in Brussels returned.

    There was a difference. In Belgium we were riddled with guilt and shame. At Sheffield it was just deep, deep pain.

    But as men slumped heavily into their seats around me and threw their heads into their hands, the same angry word was being spat out through the tears: WHY?

    The answer is: Because you don’t count. Because society has allowed itself to view the football fan as a moronic caricature. And the people who make decisions are happy to play along with this image because it makes their jobs easier.

    Take the police on Saturday. Because of them, for the second year running, 28,000 tickets were allocated to Nottingham Forest, whose average attendance is 20,000 while 24,000 tickets were given to Liverpool whose average gate is 39,000.

    There were ticket problems last year and they were forseeable this time. The fans complained and Liverpool FC complained to the FA and to the police. Nothing changed. The decision stood. For “safety reasons.”

    It depends on your definition of safety. Mine does not include cramming one end of a ground while leaving enough space to play five-a-side on the opposite terracing.

    On Saturday afternoon as I looked down at the heart-breaking sight of bodies piled up on the pitch below me, to my left there were clear gaps in the huge bank which had been set aside for the Nottingham Forest fans.

    The families of the dead will not agree with the police idea of safety, especially as many policemen were assigned elsewhere. Ensuring safety.

    As the Liverpool fans drove off the M1 they were greeted by 20 to 30 police who pulled them off the road and searched their cars, vans and coaches for drink. For safety reasons. On the main road into the city all pubs were shut. For safety reasons.

    Your civil liberties go out of the window if you happen to have football in your blood.

    Outside the ground this year police say they saw large queues forming, so they opened the gate. For safety reasons.

    Inside the ground when people turned blue as the life was crushed out of them they pleaded with the police to let them out. But they were kept in their cages. For safety reasons.

    When people needed medical help as they lay on the pitch drifting near to death, the response of the police was to form a line round the terraces and across the pitch, and to bring on the Alsations. For safety reasons.

    The Alsatians got into the ground but the ambulances didn’t. Dozens more police were drafted in but the doctors and nurses weren’t.

    There was no shortage of boys in blue in the stadium but there was a critical shortage of oxygen machines.

    But then this was only a football match. You wouldn’t expect the authorities to have any contingency plans for dealing with people being crushed to death in a 50,000 crowd.

    No. Just keep the animals in check in their cages. That’s all you’ve got to worry about. That way there’ll be no trouble and everyone will be safe. And if there is trouble, well, they’ll probably deserve it. They’re only football fans. They’re only hooligans.

    I’m not critical of the average policeman who was on duty on Saturday. I saw many trying to save life and comfort the bereaved.

    But I’m criticising their bosses. I’m criticising the people on very big salaries who sit around tables making decisions.

    I’m criticising a society, led by a government, which has lost touch with what a real football fan is. You know football. The national sport. Watched by millions of normal people every year – 99 per cent of whom are as violent as the average crowd at The Odeon.

    Authority hasn’t listened to football fans. It hasn’t wanted to. It hasn’t had to. Because society has been happy to live with the myth that every football fan is a potential criminal.

    Well nearly 100 people have just paid the price for this woeful misconception.

    The Brown Delusion

    “Now down again. Slowly.”

    The G20 conference was the most orchestrated, pre-determined piece of theatre that we have had the privilege of seeing since the 1968 Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show. The primary motivators were to somehow please the banks, instill confidence in both the markets and the voting public and lift Gordon Brown’s approval rating.

    The three main devices  used were the over-wide smile , the already well-tried method of “let’s throw more money at it” and a long document.

    Make no mistake – this amazing show of unity was for the voters back home. Gordon Brown was being so transparently Party Political that the G20 conference should have been funded by the Labour Party. He no doubt he sees himself as some sort of latter-day King Canute in an M&S suit but he does not wear it well – the image or the suit.

    Barack Obama and his wife were the undoubted stars of the show – not because they are still new and shiny and unsullied by any of the recent banking shenanigans but because they are stars. Obama’s demeanour throughout was that of a modest thinking man who did not feel the need to stand either in the middle of the picture or at the front. Likewise, Michelle Obama did not put a foot wrong – although there was a moment when the Queen should have sent a flunkey to fetch a stool for her to stand on – such was the height mismatch between her and Michelle.

    The communique produced after the meeting is vague in the extreme but there are a few quite interesting items. The first is a sop to the Franco-German alliance – or as I prefer to think of it – Vichy 2. A Financial Stability Board will be established. One presumes that this will develop into the Global Financial Services Gestapo so that if there is any financial naughtiness or even naughtiness-with-intent – “there vill be reprisals!!”. One serious point that has constantly been ignored is the fact that the banking issues are more to do with financial bandits completely confusing incompetent bankers. Any Financial Services Authority will train its beady eye on the incompetent bankers. The bandits will continue to operate but with even more stealth and guile.

    The Head of the International Monetary Fund (currently Dominique Strauss-Kahn) will now be elected through “an open, transparent and merit-based selection process”. That simply means that any future encumbents can be  non-Europeans of any colour. Progress indeed. Likewise, the President of the World Bank (currently Robert Zoellick) can be non-American! Presumably, however, both will still be required to  attend the Bilderberg conference.

    Those are just a couple of minor concessions. The rest of the document reads as if it had been written a while back. It is full of non time-stamped “cut and paste” rhetoric, e.g.

    ” We have today therefore pledged to do whatever is necessary.” 

    ” We believe that the only sure foundation for sustainable globalisation and rising prosperity for all is an open world economy based on market principles.”

     “We are determined not-only to restore growth but to lay the foundation for a fair and sustainable world economy” 

    There is much more of this sort of turgid nonsense and padding which looks as if it was drafted by a Civil Servant from the Ministry of the Bleedin’ Obvious.

    The main single item from the whole circus was the agreement to recapitalise the IMF to the tune of $1.1trillion. One could argue that in these times of recession (and extreme poverty), all this could have been achieved through the usual channels without all the showbiz.

    Meanwhile, somewhere in the depths of a thousand bank strongrooms, there are “papers” which represent billions of dollars-worth of damaged assets. The surviving hedge fund managers  are ready for the new game. Incompetent bankers are still in place. Retailers are being strangled by a lack of credit. Manufacturers are shedding millions of jobs. Governments are printing money that they don’t have and the City screen monkeys are still confused.

    And yet today we feel optimistic. All because of several days of fine words and political sleight-of-hand.


    Home Sexretary

    What a laugh – Jacqui Smith’s husband has been watching porn movies at the taxpayer’s expense!!!! The red-tops are in a frenzy and poor Jacqui is both angry and embarrassed and there have been the usual mutterings of  “We will of course pay it back.” 

    “Schadenfreude” was invented for this situation.

    The fact is that the type of film that he has been watching is irrelevant. The real argument is about MP’s expenses. How many of us have never watched a porn movie? Admittedly, the fact that on this occasion, films “with an adult content” have been watched does add a certain piquancy but once again we are in a very British situation.   The sin is not in the act but in getting caught.

    Men enjoy watching porn movies but most men do not watch them with a box of Kleenex,  “spanking  the monkey”,  whilst drooling  down their grubby shirt fronts. Most XXX movies are   ridiculous and funny  – not seedy.  Sometimes the watching of porn is a social event. I have been to many “gentlemens’ evenings” where at some stage in the evening, after a skin-full, we have sat down and spent the odd hour watching filth with a nudge-nudge and a wink-wink. Great fun – and harmless and a bonding-session “par excellence”.

    I have attended these functions in the company of bank managers, solicitors, barristers, policemen, businessmen, high-ranking executives and all manner of “respectables”. Are we perverts? Not all of us.

    Womens’ attitude towards filthy movies is a bit different. There is a joke which asks ” Why do women watch porn movies right to the end?” Answer:  “To see if the couple gets married.”

    Let’s face it – a “Chick Flick” is all about romance, love, passion and fantasy. A “Boy flick” is about sex and violence . (I am only bracketing “sex” and “violence” together because that is the British convention.)

    Today, a certain Fleet Street Grande Dame has written that Ms Smith has been “betrayed” by her husband because the watching of porn is tantamount to unfaithfulness. No it isn’t.

    Several years ago, my secretary phoned me and told me in a hushed and embarrassed tone that a bill had arrived for a week-long stay at a hotel and she wanted to know what she should do about “the extras”. The “extras” consisted of a list of about twenty porn films which (apparently) I had been watching in my hotel room.  I told her to phone the hotel and ask them to “lose” the items from the bill. I then phoned the hotel myself and was pleased to discover that when I scrolled through the films (as you do) – every film that I scrolled through registered on their system and through a system fault, it looked as if I had spent the entire week watching porn. An attractive proposition but untrue.

    The point of the story is that at no stage did I feel that I should go onto the back foot and be defensive. There is no way that I would put on my slacks, shirt and pullover (the weekend politico-casual look), read a prepared apology from a piece of paper, apologise again and look terrified or ashamed.

    Richard Timney has apologised for embarrassing his wife but otherwise, he has nothing to apologise about. Neither should he feel embarrassed about watching porn – although, quite understandably he is –  but that is only to appease the pruriently frustrated over-50 females and the God Squad. 

    Jacqui Smith is as good a Home Secretary as there has been in the last few years so it would be a pity if (yet again) a perfectly respectable lady were to be forced-out by the lubricious hounds of Planet Media. No need to force her out – next May’s General Election will do that.

    Currently, the Labour government is on the run and of course anything that we can throw at them seems deserved but let’s please keep it in perspective.

    Bear necessity.



    We have entered a long-term bear market and equity prices are heading towards Ground Zero. All that Governments have managed to achieve so far, is to delay the decline.

    The currently established pattern is very simple – investors wait and see what the government is going to do. Then there’s a short Stock Market rally.  That is usually followed by another business admitting losses, bad debts or a cash shortage and shares move down again. Then the cycle is repeated.

    The whole thing is being dealt-with “piece-meal” because decisions are being made “on the hoof”  by politicians who always have one eye on opinion polls. The current economic woes are not a function of votes and governments should have taken a deep breath , sat back for two or three months and waited.

    That comparatively short wait would have resulted in the bankers emerging with their hands up and coming clean. Plus  there would have been time to properly audit the investment and commercial banks (that is where most of the so-called”toxic” debts reside).

    Instead, Governments and Treasuries all over the world allowed themselves to be spooked not for good business reasons but for political reasons. This over-protracted game of “pin the tail on the donkey” now looks as if it will never end.

    The initial funds that were gifted (yes!) to the banks represented a knee-jerk reaction by amateurs such as Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Their panic-fuelled decision had absolutely no basis in good business practice. The term “due diligence” did not come into general use until after five months of chaos. Due diligence was not practiced by the banks when they were lending or acquiring bad investments. That tradition was propagated by  this and other governments who handed cash to the banks as irresponsibly as the banks had handed money to the NINJAS (No Income, No Job or Assets) and dodgy businessmen.

    The amounts handed to the banks were based on a formula created in conjunction with the Financial Services Authority (FSA) – an organisation which itself is taking over £300 million out of the industry so that it can make sure that small-time brokers are completing their clients’ forms correctly, whilst at the other end of ther financial food chain, the big boys are still happily stripping money from investors and borrowers.

    The amount of money handed to the banks was calculated as follows: The FSA established what a bank’s safe capital level should have been, in excess of the Basel Accord ( a formula based on assets, capital and risk which establishes a capital asset ratio).  That was the simple subtraction that was carried out : the difference  between the Basel Accord calculation and what the FSA  had established as the safe capital level.  Due diligence which really means “Let’s have a proper look at your books”   was nowhere to be seen or experienced. Why? Because the FSA does not have the in-house experience to carry out a full bank audit.

    Good management practice should mean “no surprises”. The Government is being surprised at least once a week. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t costing us billions.