Archive for December, 2013


December 30, 2013 Leave a comment

A few days ago, I confessed to a young friend who was heading for a skiing holiday that I have never seen the point of sliding down a steep mountainside with a  floorboard strapped to each foot.

Reading this morning’s top news story, I remain unconvinced. Take care, Rachel.

Categories: General, Sport

Reaching out

December 30, 2013 3 comments

I have to give all credit to Lee Child. He has the priceless gift of keeping the reader engaged, and that’s what it’s all about. I’m halfway through the new Reacher, and last night I only put it down because I couldn’t focus on the page any longer.

And I never thought of Tom Cruise; not once.


Categories: General

Have a good one

December 25, 2013 5 comments

To one and all, the merriest of Christmases!

Categories: General

Yes please

December 23, 2013 1 comment

Not every holder of the office of Secretary of State for Scotland has been up to the job, but the current incumbent really has lowered the benchmark. When Alastair  Carmichael replaced the respected and popular Michael Moore, the word was that he would play a more forceful part in the Referendum campaign than his predecessor. In fact, as this quote from this morning’s media demonstrates, he could turn out to be the Yes camp’s secret weapon.

‘THERE is a real danger the UK Government would be forced to place guards at the Border if Scots vote for independence, a Cabinet Minister has warned. Alistair Carmichael, Secretary of State for Scotland, said the Scottish National Party’s immigration plans could make such a move necessary, even if Scotland did not join the European Union’s Schengen free travel area. His comments are the strongest warning yet by a Coalition minister that independence could lead to border posts.’

Fine. Carry on, Minister; you’re doing a great job.





Categories: Politics

Enough’s enough

December 23, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s been obvious to me for a while that Vince Cable would love Cameron to sack him. It’s time he was given his heart’s desire.

Categories: Politics


December 21, 2013 Leave a comment
Categories: Sport

Jobs for the HMRC boys

December 19, 2013 1 comment

My agent sent me an email this morning, advising me that from early next year HMRC will require him to provide them annually with details of all gross payments received on behalf of all clients and of all sums distributed to them, after deduction of commission. This applies to all agencies and will begin with the tax year 2012/2013. This seems to mean that the taxman is putting himself in a position to do a retrospective check on every client’s self-assessment tax return.

Well, fine: nice one, Mr Osborne. You might well find a few under-declarations, and claw some more cash into the public purse. However I am willing to bet that this extra income will be dwarfed by the cost of HMRC man-hours spent pulling it in.

Surely there comes a time when there is an assumption of taxpayer honesty, rather than the reverse. Or is it simply the case that HMRC is defending itself against future manpower cuts by creating irrelevant tasks? Ultimately, it is forcing business to spend even more time on pointless admin, at the expense, of income generation. Please tell me where that makes sense


Categories: Politics


December 13, 2013 3 comments

As the third Ashes test makes its predictable way towards another no-win situation for Engerland, I note that once again Alastair Cook lost the toss of the coin. He must be the worst tosser in world cricket.

This releases a bee from my bonnet, or would do if I wore one. The toss, and with it the choice of whether to bat or bowl first, gives  a great advantage to whoever wins it. Matches and series can be won and lost on it, and if one skipper loses five times in a row, well tough on him. Wouldn’t it be fairer all round if there was only one coin toss, at the start of a series, with the choice, to bat or bowl first, alternating thereafter?

Categories: Sport

Second thoughts?

December 13, 2013 Leave a comment
Categories: General

Whitewash on the way?

December 10, 2013 Leave a comment

I haven’t been saying too much about the performance of the England cricket team in Australia. I’ve been too busy laughing.

However, my friends will tell you that I have been predicting a severe humping since before the first ball was bowled.

Categories: Sport

Like here, please

December 10, 2013 2 comments

There is now a Facebook petition to save ‘Ripper Street‘ from the BBC’s ill-considered and indefensible axe. Like and share, please.

Categories: General

Rip it up

December 9, 2013 1 comment

I read at the weekend that 92% of Radio Times readers are opposed to the axing of ‘Ripper Street‘. The decision has been taken on the ground that the series doesn’t attract enough viewers, yet it still has two episodes to run. If those audience figures were to double for tonight’s and next week’s episodes wouldn’t the decision-makers at New BroadcastingHouse look more than a little silly? Tonight is an opportunity for fans of the series to fight back. Let’s spread the word on Twitter.

To keep the debate alive, I have a question for those in charge at the BBC. Given the millions of people who now watch telly through devices that allow them to watch one programme while recording another to be watched later, just how accurate are those viewing figures?


Categories: General

They don’t care

December 7, 2013 Leave a comment

We had a close call yesterday. Driving south on the A1 in Northumberland, in a line of traffic heading directly into the low, bright mid-morning sun, we had reached the Haggerston Castle caravan park when we were forced to pull over and come to  an almost complete halt, by two fast moving vehicles with emergency lights ablaze; they were acting as outriders for two long-loaders, also travelling at an unsafe speed, and laden with huge pre-fabricated steel structures which were considerably more than half the width of the single carriageway. No way should that convoy have been using that road, in any conditions. They represented multiple fatalities waiting to happen.

The incident underlined something on which Eileen had just remarked. Large stretches of the A1 between Edinburgh and Newcastle are no longer fit for purpose and  have not been for many years. It’s ironic, is it not, that while Cameron, the former Chancellor Alastair  Darling, and their cronies are trying to persuade us that we’re ‘Better Together’, the same men have shown no interest in providing a decent road to link the two capital cities.

Categories: General, Sport

Ripped off

December 4, 2013 1 comment

In common with my correspondent George (see below) I’ve just learned that Ripper Street is being canned by the BBC, because of poor ratings. And I am having a Howard Beale moment.

Does that mean that everything our hugely expensive public service broadcaster does with its annual taxpayer-funded budget of £5 billion, including its much-trumpeted ‘Original British Drama’,  is being measured against brain-dead pap like I’m A Celebrity Get me Out of Here? Seems so.

Every household in Britain contributes £145 a year towards the BBC, in  the expectation of quality programming. Nobody is forced to watch Jungle Jim on a Sunday evening, yet those who are daft enough to make that choice seem to have been given a right of veto over those of us who prefer entertainment that requires even a small degree of thought. It’s not right, and it can’t be allowed to stand.

Categories: General

Sinister Guardian

December 4, 2013 Leave a comment
Categories: Politics

Lady Gaga

December 3, 2013 5 comments

So we switch off the heating, switch on  the electric blanket and stay in bed all day?

Categories: General, Politics


December 3, 2013 1 comment

Outstanding Ripper Street episode last night, marred only by the casting of Paul Kaye, the guy from  those awful Victor Chandler ads, as Gabriel Cain, the crazed villain. All the way through I waited for him to ask for odds on Sergeant Drake surviving to next week.

Categories: General


December 2, 2013 Leave a comment
Categories: Sport, Videos


December 2, 2013 1 comment

It’s December and so QJ’s Mo-vember moustache is no more, and my Just Giving page is closed. Thanks to everyone who sponsored my whiskers, and contributed a nice sum to Marie Curie.

I might have kept them for a few weeks longer, but last Friday someone told me that I looked like Hulk Hogan.

Categories: General

Droning on

December 2, 2013 Leave a comment

This story may sound crazy, but it’s not. When I visited the Bernabeu stadium in Madrid a few weeks ago, they were setting up a stage for a performance event, and one of those things was flying around. They are among us already and they will multiply.

The other side of the coin is that is Amazon develops an ability to make unmanned deliveries right to your door, it will also be able to bomb the shit out of you if you upset it.

Categories: General