Greece is the turd………

I’ve just returned from 10 days in the resort of Pefkos, Rhodes. Crisis, what crisis? OK, some of the ATMs weren’t functioning, maybe due to lack of cash, but otherwise the only thing in short supply was rain.

Signs in the hotel encouraged visitors to post positive ‘business as usual’ comments on social media to counteract reports in the UK media. One of the big issues seems to be that the situation reporting from Athens and mainland Greece is not being separated from that of the tourist islands, where hard cash flow is inevitably not a great problem.

No, the greatest problem with visiting these beautiful islands is the same as it’s always been, and leads to the real question we should be asking the people of Greece – why can’t you build sewerage systems that can deal with spent toilet tissue?

The sign says ‘Do not put toilet tissue in the toilet, please deposit it in the small bin’. Now, without going into too much detail, I eat and drink quite a bit on holiday, and the bin is fairly small and…………no, not too much detail. ‘When in Rome…..’ is a great adage, but if we were in Rome we wouldn’t have this problem as the Romans had the provision of adequate arse wiping material disposal sussed when they built their infrastructure. So, I do exactly what I imagine (although not too much imagining) 90% of tourists do – I put my tissue down the toilet. It’s unlikely to be reported by the wonderful maids either as, if you think about it, it’s not really in their own interest to do so.

Anyway, the people of Rhodes are fantastic, as is the food, sun and drink. I’ll be back next year, whatever the currency, whatever the Daily Mail and Daily Express are reporting, and whatever toilet procedural instructions are printed on my hotel bathroom wall.download

Great news! More homeless!

My fellow villagers in Melbourn are celebrating a great victory as a planning application to build 199 new houses and a 70 bed care home has been turned down. Our parish councillors are crowing about the win, posting signs around the village declaring ‘Great news, application denied’.

The argument goes that the new houses would put too much pressure on existing services and village infrastructure, and the councillors still insist that they are “….able to show that we continue to welcome new housing in the village…” citing the fact that 74 new homes are under construction.

Of course, it’s not about services. It’s about NIMBY’s protecting their house prices and their little bit of Middle England. If houses come, so will services. Looking at it another way, if more houses are not built, existing services may diminish. Those complaining about the local roads becoming too congested are the same people who park on the double-yellow lines near the village centre causing traffic chaos.

(As an aside, the local councillors boast about the building of the ‘Melbourn Hub‘, an admittedly impressive project providing a community centre for the village. If they are really concerned about losing services, they should perhaps look at the catering provided at the Hub, which take valuable lunchtime business away from the local pubs and local businesses. And of course, the Hub is not subject to the same business rates and taxes.)

There’s a housing shortage guys. The country needs 300,000+ houses built over the next 12 months, and a continued programme of similar amounts over the next few years. 74 houses just doesn’t cut it. We need homes for our children, and our grandchildren. Of course the developers (Endurance Estates) are out to make as much money as they can – so negotiate and ensure that the village gets a good deal in return.

But what’s the point? The Melbourn NIMBY’s will shrug their shoulders and get back to washing their 4 x 4’s or flicking another page of their Daily Mail.

“199 new homes declined. 199 more families not on the housing ladder.’embrynimby

Should they stay or should they ..?

What’s your average floating voter to do? Firstly, we get this:Capture

Hopkins was, of course, referring to Ed Milliband. So, clear cut then, the cross goes in the Labour box. But then, just when all had apparently become clear, this happens: 123

And so it becomes a choice between exiling a selfish arrogant professional loud mouth, and an arrogant loud mouth comedian. Now I know where my tick is going on Thursday, but for those who are confused by all of the rhetoric and need a sightly better method of choosing than tossing a coin, this doesn’t help. On one side, I’m finding it difficult to find a Katie Hopkins quote I agree with. Maybe her comments on children’s names – calling your girl ‘Chardonnay’ is surely cruel, especially as it’s inevitably going to be playground-shortened to ‘Chard’ – but even then, Hopkins real point was: Capture3

But at least she does, in her own vitriolic way, display some humour – more than O’Grady ever has. Paul O’Grady is one of the ‘I’m funny because I’m a scouser’ brigade, developed by Jimmy Tarbuck, cultivated by Stan Boardman, and sadly alive and well in John Bridges. Lily Savage is a second-rate Dame Edna, just as O’Grady is a second-rate Graham Norton. (Wow, that is bad). But, there’s one overriding factor when choosing between the Hopkins and O’Grady: O’Grady likes, cares for, and financially supports, our four-legged friends. It’s clear that he is passionate about dog welfare and that fact, in my opinion, should be enough for a floating voter to place a tick in the red box. Hope that’s helped.

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End of the road

You cannot punch a colleague and expect not to disciplined by your employers. Clarkson’s sacking – or non-renewal of contract, not exactly the same thing – was the right decision by the BBC, especially as he was on a final warning.

However.

Imagine you’re a business where one salesperson brings in 60% of the revenue. A superstar. And that salesperson assaults a catering assistant whose crime was to fail to restock the smokey bacon crisps. What then? Sack the salesperson, knowing that business performance will drop considerably? Of course, you cry, it doesn’t matter how valuable to the business that person is, they should be sacked.

OK. What if Mary Berry punched a colleague? “Sack her”, I hear you cry. Although now maybe not with such enthusiasm. And do I hear a slight giggle as well? OK, she’s not on a final warning (as far as we know, although there are rumblings about an incident with  ‘herbal’ cookies on the last series of ‘Bake Off’), but I can’t imagine the Clarkson decision would have been different even without his first caution. It’s food for thought.

Clarkson is a childish oaf, whose love of deliberately goading and taking the piss out of the righteous and indignant PC brigade is a large constituent of his success and popularity. Personally, I enjoyed his humour. The BBC made the right decision but the way that they handled the whole affair means that they will lose a lot of money and, ultimately, that our licence fees will not go as far in their Clarksonless world. The knee-jerk reaction of pulling Top Gear immediately the incident was reported was thoughtless and strategically stupid from all angles.

Oh, I almost made the same mistake as much of the media when covering Clarkson’s last stand. I haven’t mentioned the victim. Well, I hope he’s OK and (big breath)……learnt his lesson. Which is, if you’re going to forget to organise a colleague’s dinner, make sure it’s that of a small, mild-mannered guy like Richard Hammond, not a 6 foot 5 inch volatile self-important oaf like Clarkson.

MaryBerry

Taking liberties

Leading civil liberty groups have declared that a terrorist attack in Britain is a price worth paying to protect mass personal data from being intercepted. Human rights groups, Liberty, Justice, Big Brother Watch and Rights UK (all with rather arrogant sounding titles), agreed under questioning from the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee that they would rather raise the risk of a terrorist atrocity in the UK rather than give the security forces the right to hack emails and other personal data.

Over the years all of these groups have done some great work, notably for the representation of women’s and gay rights, but so very often they deliberately fail to see the wood from the trees and disappear up their own, and each others arseholes.

As I write, a delegate on stage at the Liberal Democrats conference is being roundly booed for using the phrase “If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear”, a sentence always guaranteed to give palpitations to liberals of all political denominations, and yet one which represents exactly how I, and millions of others, feel about our rights to privacy in these days of terrorists threats. I really don’t care if some geek in Cheltenham is monitoring my eBay purchases or unsuccessful attempts to be funny on Twitter. If my replies to the ‘enlarge your penis’ spam emails I receive are intercepted I don’t care. I may even be serving my country by providing some much needed amusement to some poor bored spook locked away in a GCHQ basement.

So the question that needs to be asked to these ‘civil liberty’ groups is this: What exactly do you have to hide? The answer is rather sinister, and in plain sight. Matthew Elliot founded ‘Big Brother Watch’, Andrea Coomber is a director of ‘Justice’, and Isabella Sankey is Liberty’s director of policy.

Mixed up, their initials spell ‘I.S CAME’. I rest my case.images (16)

Pop goes civilisation……..

Pick the most unfunny thing currently on the planet and my brain turns it into a novelty 1980’s pop song.  I’ve no idea who first gave Mohammed Emwazi the alliteration ‘Jihadi John’, but I do hope his name was Gordon.

Lots of blame has been directed at the security forces for not stopping Emwazi leaving the country, but it’s almost irrelevant. He’s just the new IS poster boy, preventing him getting to IS wouldn’t have saved any lives. Sure, the propaganda blaming the UK for turning him from a ‘football-loving London university graduate’ into a murderous terrorist wouldn’t have been generated, but that in itself is unlikely to cause more young Muslims to be radicalised. Incidentally, I wonder if he still ‘loves football’? “Sorry lads, we need to delay our next barbaric act until this evening, the League Cup final’s on.”

As more young Muslims are being radicalised, and anti-Islam feeling and protests increase across the west, I’m reminded of the lyrics of another novelty pop song.

“It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, except for Lola.” Well, maybe apart from the ‘Lola’ bit.

You doth protest too much…….

I can’t imagine myself on a protest march. Although I hold fairly strong and sometimes non-mainstream and hypocritical views on a diverse spread of subjects – protection of wildlife,  bigotry, motorists rights, affordable housing – I don’t see the attraction, or the effectiveness, of joining hundreds or thousands of like-minded individuals stomping through city centres to draw attention to my beliefs. To be honest, many of my views wouldn’t fill a protest meeting in a telephone box, let along a large banner waving crowd marching along Whitehall.

So, I have little sympathy with the climate change marchers who are outraged that they may have to fund their own security on their tramp through Central London rather than being given the protection of our nothing better to do police force, funded by the taxpayer. The organisers have been told the police will no longer facilitate the temporary closure of roads along the agreed route, and that they need to hire a private firm to oversee it.

“Protest is a fundamental right”, so says Sam Fairbairn, national secretary of the People’s Assembly. Indeed, I have a fundamental right to drive on a motorway, but not to demand that taxpayers pay for my car.

He continues, “This will make it virtually impossible to hold a protest unless you have rich backers.”  Maybe, but with Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Bono among the ranks of vocal climate change lobbyists, surely they could muster the necessary financial support. And surely the marchers, these guardians of our climate, could also raise a few quid among themselves, given that none of them will have the expensive running costs of motor vehicles or the need to buy supermarket meat.

Yes you have a right to protest, but not the right to use the tax I pay to support your views which I may or may not agree with. Who the hell do you think you are? The under-funded Metropolitan Police probably believe that they have slightly higher priorities than providing traffic control for anyone who may wish to pursue their cause by congregating in public spaces – like fighting crime, maybe?

Fund your own causes, as I do. Which is why I’m paying for a room in a local hotel next Tuesday to protest about the downsizing of Wagon Wheels. I don’t envisage any public safety issues.

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