Monday, October 31, 2011

After the insulting way Sarkosy talked about Greek membership of the Euro on Thursday it was inevitable that the Greek government would hit back, although the referendum announced today was a surprise.

You cannot fault the decision - it will settle the issue one way or the other.

Newsnight discussing the resignation of the Dean of St Paul's

Have just watched Newsnight discussing the resignation of the Dean of St Paul's cathedral.

And despite all the tittering and high-camp reporting (across the media, not least from Channel 4 News earlier) it occured to me that the Dean has been much more subtle and clever than people are giving him credit for.

It is not those who can inflict the most, but those who can suffer the most that will endure.

Giles Fraser, using his resignation as a weapon, placed the cathedral Chapter "in the wrong" in the eyes of the media.  The Dean has now neutralised that resignation through his own departure.  The cathedral has, in my view, regained moral authority (which Giles Fraser should never have tried to take away).

Top Boy

Watching the first half hour of the new Channel 4 drama Top Boy, it is very leaden.

It is like a melange of subplots from various London TV "dramas" (maybe Casualty, London's Burning and Grange Hill) with all the characters interchangeable and every line of dialogue portentous.

Not worth missing Newsnight for (although it is repeated later on Channel 4 plus 1).
I am shocked that the Dean of St Paul's cathedral has felt compelled to resign.

Surely the government will have to intervene if this crisis cannot be quickly resolved.

I hope Giles Fraser is pleased with himself.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I watch the birds fly south across the autumn sky and one by one they disappear (as Justin Hayward would say).

Don't newspapers check facts anymore?

There has been a huge amount of coverage in the media over the protest camp set up outside St Paul's cathedral.

This coverage includes dozens of factual errors, including some howlers.

Don't newspapers check facts anymore?

For instance, in yesterday's Guardian Marina Hyde castigates St Paul for breaking one of the laws of Deuteronomy (  This comment is so stupid it is beyond stupidity.  The whole message of Christianity is that salvation through obeying the old Mosaic law (listed in Deuteronomy) has been superseded by salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  The fact that Marina Hyde doesn't know this is not really surprising (although she did go to a very expensive public school).  But I am surprised that no-one at the Guardian bothered to run her article through the fact-checking department.  Once again it looks as if she did a few quick Google searches then chucked the article together at the last minute.

In today's Observer Peter Stanford (a Roman Catholic and a commentator on the Roman Catholic church) tells us that he has discovered (through a quick look at a video in Church House) that the Church of England is all about social services, education and community life.  Except that it isn't.  Every Anglican communicant can tell you that the Church of England is about proclaiming the Gospel, and if it fails to do that all the secondary work it does is worth nothing.

So before Peter Stanford writes another insensitive piece about someone else's religion he should try to get his facts right.

Turning to Giles Fraser, (recently resigned) Canon Chancellor of St Paul's, I am bemused at how many times the media refers to him as "popular".  Popular with whom?  What popularity contest has he won?

Giles Fraser tells us (in the Guardian) that were the Messiah to arrive today he would be "born in the protest camp".  I am sure that Reverend Fraser is far more theologically erudite than I am, but I think he may have got some of his interpretation wrong.  It was not the protest leader Barabbas who died on the cross for us.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Effectively I had been demoted - the past week at work


I got to work early, intending to make a good start, but Ryan M (Operations Director) and Felix S were sitting on the edges of desks in the middle of the Marketing department talking so that I couldn't concentrate ("...tried to play on Saturday" said Ryan, "but as soon as I kicked the ball my foot went again... trouble is we have lots of sixteen and seventeen year old lads who want to join the team... I think my days are numbered...).

They eventually left when the working day began and other staff arrived.

Most of the day I spent in a "review" meeting with my boss Tom D.  It is obvious we do not like each other.  As I am leaving at the end of the year I no longer bother to hide my contempt for the way he operates.


The new combined Marketing & Research department has been allocated new space - still on the ground floor but with much more room.  This morning I drew up a plan of how I wanted the desks arranged, and ordered new cupboards.  Although I am leaving in a few weeks I feel totally absorbed in what the department is doing.

PR Officer Josie S looked so unhappy that other people in the offices became concerned.  She is recovering from an office romance (although the romantic element seemed to have been entirely one-sided).  I am unsure how to handle this, and so far have simply left her alone, although she hardly does any work.

The little work she does do is concerned with PR for the Operations department (all the departments have their own PR matrix).  As her former lover was Ryan M, Operations director, this has led to several low-level unpleasant incidents where she has been ignored or her work unfairly criticised.  This afternoon she asked Ryan M whether he had looked at a press release she had prepared and he told her rudely "Yeah, I took it home and threw darts at it".

I keep thinking she will snap out of it and become the person she used to be (diligent, capable, focussed on her work).


My meeting with Tom D on Monday had obviously lingered in his mind, and when he arrived this morning he walked past my desk and curtly asked me to come into his office (he said this without stopping - it was so rude it was comical).  In this meeting he told me that the merger of Marketing and Research would no longer go ahead, and that I was no longer manager of the Information team, leaving me just two staff to manage.  Effectively I had been demoted.

Then a meeting of all the Communications staff was held in the Board Room, and the new changes were announced.  A new Research manager is to be recruited, and the merger will go ahead under that person.  Everyone appeared to be stunned at this news, and the only person to speak was Caron in the Information Team who said:  "I'd like to thank Andrew for being a wonderful manager" (exaggerated, but a nice thing to say).


When I arrived at the offices this morning at 7.30 to my surprise I found Josie S also there.  When I asked how she was she told me "I am stupid" which was a mysterious thing to say.  I got myself a cup of coffee and superficially looked at the papers on my desk although for the first time I considered the possibility that Josie might do something genuinely stupid.

I spent some time with Ron J, the new Marketing Officer who has just joined the department, arranging his training.

Leaving at 3pm (justifiable because I had started so early) I went to another session at the driving range with Felix S and Ryan M.  Lovely mild afternoon.  I was able to drive some of the balls past the 100 yards mark (which for me is good progress!).


Ethereal mists over the fields as I drove to work.

A relaxed day at the NGO, mainly because so many people were away today.

The monthly PR report for October was prepared by Josie S and e-mailed to me to look over before it was distributed.  This report lists the media exposure the NGO has achieved over the last month.  It was very thin, and reflected the fact that Josie S hasn't been working very hard (briefly I thought of suppressing the report, but that might raise too many questions).

A conference I am helping to organise is going very well, and initial bookings are very strong - at least something is going right!

In the evening at home I worked out my finances for the month and things look fine for the future (which is why I am not too worried about the fact that soon I will not have a job).

Monarchies are examples of organic society

Right at the end of Dateline London earlier today they discussed the proposed constitutional changes announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia, and one of the panellists (whose name I forget) compared the British monarchy with Middle Eastern monarchies.

This seemed to me an ignorant and fatuous comparison.

Although in the 19th century there was an attempt to codify and standardise the concept of monarchy, this was retrospective philosophising that went down an analytical cul de sac. 

The point to bear in mind is that every monarchy is unique.  Monarchies emerged from the specific legal, judicial, religious, cultural, administrative and military narratives that communities created over time to organise their societies.  In this respect monarchies are examples of organic society (as opposed to artificial and politically-designed republican systems of government).

Although there are external comparisons you can make, the English monarchy was different from the Scottish and Irish monarchies.  The monarchies of the British Isles were/are totally different from continental monarchies.  European monarchies are fundamentally different to African or Middle Eastern or Far Eastern monarchies.

That is why the issue of monarchy is so emotive.  Leaving aside the superficial gush, monarchies are integral to community identity - it cannot be otherwise given the nature in which a specific monarchy has emerged.  Therefore it is not possible to end a monarchy without society breaking down for a significant period of time (the only example that might be counter to this is Hawaii, but the ending of the Hawaiian monarchy was the result of an American-backed coup and prelude to American colonisation so even this evidence is very partial).
The soi-disant Professor Green is so ridiculous he is a caricature of white rappers.

Can't see the point of him.

Why is he everywhere at the moment?

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Review Show reviewed Top Boy, a four-part Channel 4 series set in Hackney.

Kirsty Wark asked whether the drama is sensationalised - on the basis of this review the answer has to be yes.

Probably none of the reviewers have ever been in Hackney (the aitch is silent).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What pride Dr Giles Fraser exhibited in ordering the police off his steps!

It was obvious that Dr Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, would have to go.

He is putting a brave face on it, but after shooting his (unauthorised) mouth off at the start of the protest the outcome was inevitable and he is presumably jumping before he is pushed.

To recap: 

As the protest camp was set up the police moved in (as they do) and, pleased as punch, Dr Fraser ordered the police off "his" steps and effectively gave the protestors his blessing (oh dear, yet another trendy Rev trying to get down with the kids and getting it hopelessly wrong).

What he should have done was consult with his colleagues so that they presented a unified message.  Possibly offered an alternative patch of land for the protest camp.  Explained that the cathedral had to be kept open for the ordinary people (the Church of England is Established, it is not some run-of-the-mill sect that can do as it likes).

How often have I seen self-important middle management executives rushing to talk to the media without clearing things with the PR department first!  Then they are told off by someone more senior, and have to publicly recant everything.  And ever afterwards their credibility is shot to pieces and eventually they have to go.

What pride Dr Giles Fraser exhibited in ordering the police off his steps! - but pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). 
Not sure who is giving PR advice to the anti-capitalism protest camp.  Not only have they got their targets in the wrong place and their messages confused.  They have also brought about the demise of one of the most high-profile supporters (the public might laugh at trendy vicars, but they also have a secret affection for them).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

50% of Scottish people want to leave

At the Conference of the Scottish National Party, held last weekend, SNP leader Alex Salmond said:  "In my heart, in my head, I think Scotland will become an independent country within the European community" (by 2016).

However in an ICM poll commissioned by the Guardian newspaper 21st-23rd October 2011 only 39% of Scottish people want to stay in the European Union whereas 50% of Scottish people want to leave.

I have searched on Google but Alex Salmond does not seem to have been questioned on this major problem with the SNP's pre-eminent foreign policy objective (upon which all their other policies depend).

Why isn't Alex Salmond being challenged on the fanciful statements he is making?  Has the media in Scotland become cowed into submission? (he has the reputation of being a bully).  Are all the Opposition MSPs incompetent or ineffectual?

Even from hundreds of miles away I can spot this man is a clown!

The ICM research (see page 10)

PS for the record although I am English I regard both England and Scotland as my collective country and I am not happy that a gang of political chancers, peddling a discredited philosophy of nationalism, is proposing to walk off with part of it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Treasures of Heaven exhibition at the British Museum

Before it closed (a couple of weeks ago) I went to see the Treasures of Heaven exhibition at the British Museum.

One of the most important displays they have ever put on, it made me think deeply about medieval religion.

Bust reliquary of St Baudine - this item once contained blood from the saint, as if they were putting the blood back into a body.

Panel (painted by Bellini) from the door of the Bessarion reliquary - a "how to" guide on how the reliquary was to be used (postures to adopt, attitudes to take, devotional aura to be expected etc).

Illuminated Life of St Edmund, wonderful glimpse of the Saxon world (a monk kneeling before an ornate structure, the tiled room worthy of World Of Interiors magazine) - writing was regarded as a form of magic in the early medieval period.

An assortment of pilgrim badges - like a collection of Pokemon.

Bernard von Breydenbach's fabulous fold-out woodcut illustrated Journey to the Holy Land - perhaps envisaged as the flash of life's experiences at the moment of death (and he was very thorough including Alexandria and Damascus).

Very fine Hinton St Mary mosaic (were those apples?), although I disagreed with the blurb on the captions in this room.

Exceptional workmanship of some gold-glass roundels, especially St Agnus.

Shrines within shrines.

Reliquaries meant to be taken into battle.

A rock crystal window to the True Cross.

Helena in a stained glass window from Tattershall.

Exquisite relics from Constantinople (looted by the crusaders) including the small gold hand of St Marina.

Beautiful gold box of the martyrs of Trebizond (did Rose Macauley ever see this item?).

Humble earthenware flask from Abu Mina in Egypt - this was one of the most evocative objects of the whole exhibition, and still exuded holiness even after all this time.

Also from Abu Mina an ivory pyxis showing the execution of St Menas (Justin Timberlake in his curly-headed period).

Superb gothic shrine of St Amandus (as always, it was the gothic items that were most thrilling).

Box-shaped marble altar with irmunsul designs at the corners.

Relics wrapped in tiny bundles and labeled with parchment.

Bell shines from Ireland.

The Hedwig Beaker as good as Lalique.

The Franks Casket, designed to hold a Biblical text (you could spend a lifetime studying this one object).

Limoges reliquary of a very stylishly dressed St Valerie.

Reliquary head of St Eustace with removable top.

One of the stars of the show was the Reliquary of the Holy Thorn.

At this point I felt all reliced-out and left the exhibition, promising myself I would go back. But I didn't. At least I have the wonderful full-colour exhibition catalogue to read and re-read.

They are due another good kicking

French president Nicolas Sarkozy wanted to ban the United Kingdom from the summit on the Euro to be held tomorrow.

M Sarkozy should cast his mind back to the signing of the Lisbon Treaty.  All the other EU leaders knew that the Treaty was being pushed through the United Kingdom in a shoddy and undemocratic way, against the wishes of the population (according to the polls) and in defiance of specific electoral promises made by the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.  M Sarkozy was happy to sit back and see this anti-democratic abuse committed against the United Kingdom population (even though, as "good Europeans" he and the other EU leaders presumably had a duty of care to ensure that no part of the EU population was discriminated against).

Therefore it is ironic that M Sarkozy should now complain that the United Kingdom is able to interfere in decisions taken about the future of the Eurozone.

The United Kingdom would be justified in adopting a wrecking policy towards the EU until all the non-democratic impositions (since 1974) have been either reversed or given the endorsement of the people in a referendum.

I was disappointed at the defeat of the referendum motion in the House of Commons yesterday.  It seems that the political elite has learned nothing from the expenses scandal and they still think they can rule over the ordinary people by quoting the small print.  They are due another good kicking, and the national press should take the lead in delivering this (not least because it would be very popular and sell lots of 'papers).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Out-of-control immigration is adversely affecting society

I drove into the local town last night to collect my brother from the pub (I had not been drinking at all, although he was very drunk).

The time was about twenty minutes past midnight. 

Returning to our house (which is some miles out in the countryside) I became aware of a car following behind, neither accelerating, nor slowing down, nor turning off onto a side road.  I thought this might be a police car, so I was very careful to stick to the speed limit in the town.  Still the mystery car followed.

Out in the country I continued to drive at 30mph, wanting the car to overtake and leave me alone.

Instead it switched on blue flashing lights, indicating that it was indeed a police car and that I had to stop.

I stayed in the car as I am advised by someone in Surrey Police that if you get out of your car they can arrest you for "threatening behaviour" (I know this sounds laughable, but this is what I have been advised).

A policeman appeared at my car window and told me they thought I was acting suspiciously by "driving too slow".

How can 30mph on a country lane (deep dykes either side) be regarded as too slow?

I explained to the policeman that I was driving at that speed because I was being followed and I wasn't sure what to expect.

He then said "you're obviously not drunk" and went back to his car, turned round and drove off.

I was very angry at this incident.

The court pages of the local newspaper are filled each week with cases involving drink-driving by eastern European immigrants.  To cope with this the police are obviously stopping people at random, hoping to get lucky.  Another example of the way out-of-control immigration is adversely affecting society.
Difficult to see how MPs can vote against the motion in favour of a European referendum without compromising the principle of democracy.

If they compromise the principle of democracy they are only storing up more trouble for themselves in the long run.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I had a list of forty-eight important tasks I needed to get done - the past week at work


Returned from France through the tunnel (not driving myself - I was in someone else's car).  Across the Queen Elizabeth Bridge.  A brief stop at Harlow.

The rest of the day I spent doing nothing.


Misty drive to work this morning.  I felt very tired even before the working day began.  Luckily I found a parking space even though I arrived at the office just after 9.

I had a list of forty-eight important tasks I needed to get done this week.  Unfortunately meetings continually got in the way, so that progress with this list was slow.  Today was dominated by a meeting of the Working Group - I contributed to the discussion but I do wonder whether anyone understands what I am saying.

New Market Research Officer Jane started today.  Ostensibly she reports to Research Manager Felix S, but because he is moving departments she will actually report to me (the Research department is being merged with my Marketing department).  I was perplexed when reading her CV to see that she has no actual experience of market research.

As usual when someone new starts, the rest of the department took Jane out to lunch - this time to the William IV pub.  Beer and toasted sandwiches, and it was mild enough for us to sit out in the sunny garden.  Jane is aged early twenties, big blue eyes, light brown hair, slightly plump ("puppy fat" said Margaret), wide mouth, slightly flaring nostrils (particularly when you talk to her directly, as if she is trying to inhale the words you are speaking).

All afternoon Jane was talking to Josey S (PR Officer, recovering from a disastrous office romance).  Josey was supposed to be mentoring Jane and showing her how the department functions, but I suspected they were just gossiping.  Several times I heard the phrase "Ed Sheeran".


Media interview this morning, with a radio station wanting to talk to a director.  The only one available was Ryan M, Operations Director and we held the interview in the tea room on the top floor.  As usual Ryan M was not terribly erudite.  As part of her induction I included Jane in the interview as an observer.  Josey S also came along as she is meant to be PR Officer (although she hardly does anything).  After the interview, as we were going back downstairs, I heard Jane whisper to Josey "So that's him".

In the afternoon interviews for another Marketing Officer as Meryl (my deputy) is moving to different section of the NGO.  HR Manger Yasmin and myself held the interviews.  We saw five candidates, all of them fairly strong professionals.

In the end we decided to give the post to Ron J, a disabled person who has been working as an unpaid intern in the NGO (but I think a charity pays him a subsistence and had arranged the internship for him).  Ron J is aged 60, affected by a progressively debilitating disease.  He had previously worked as a senior manager in a commercial company, on a salary four times higher than the one we were offering.

"I think you just felt sorry for him" Jasmin said as I made the final decision.

Actually I wanted Ron J to be given the job as I think he will be an ally against my boss Tom D.


Boring sort of day.  Ron J able to start immediately, and during the morning I arranged his induction.  Tom D obviously does not like Ron, probably because he is more experienced than Tom and is able to talk to CEO Alec Pressberg as an equal.

A day when time seemed to drag, although I had plenty to do.

I felt very disillusioned about working at the NGO and thought about resigning before my contract comes to an end in December.

Leaving work at 3.30 (using up TOIL time) I went with Felix and Ryan to a local golf course and each of us whacked a bucket of balls reasonably competently in the range before playing nine holes of the course.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Alex Salmond, First Minister of the Scottish Executive, sees himself as a messianic leader

Full article:

It seems that Alex Salmond, First Minister of the Scottish Executive, sees himself as a messianic leader granted divine authority for his political programme.

The last political leader to make this claim was Tony Blair (also a Scottish person).

Historically, the "divine right of kings" was introduced into the informal constitution by James VI of Scotland (who became James I of England when the kingdoms were united under one monarch).  This divine right malarky led in turn to the Civil War.  Ultimately the issue was settled by cutting the head off Charles I - after which the divine right claim went very quiet.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Friends With Benefits

The Office film group, now down to just five people, went to see Friends With Benefits.

We don't choose the film until a majority vote when we get to the multiplex, which makes for some dud choices, but also some unexpected gems.

Friends With Benefits was an unexpected gem. 

Written by Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck and Harley Peyton.  Directed by Will Gluck.  Starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis.

Full of explicit anatomical references, the film seems to be about the absurdity of the carnal act.  The dialogue is funny, and the acting is well-timed.  Visually the New York sequences are superb (the Malibu ones less so, and in any case only extremely wealthy people can afford to live in Malibu).

The magazine offices were not messy enough.

On a cultural level the film achieves importance simply because of all the contemporary references it manages to pack into every shot.  In a way it is comparable to Fitzgerald's The Beautiful and the Damned (but with a happy ending, and without pushing the comparison too far).  The year 2011 looks glossy and glamorous in this film.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Police in Ohio in America

Did those police in Ohio in America really have to shoot so many endangered animals?  Was there no other option?  The suspician remains that these were just trigger-happy morons in a gun-saturated society.

The whole episode digusts me.

A Bengal tiger shot!

Disgusting behaviour.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Above:  the ramparts of the hilltop town were sheer, with no safety barriers.  If you slipped you would go right over.  People must fall over all the time.

Above:  the west front of Amiens cathedral (toured in the company of philistines).

Above:  Le Touquet in the evening.  In a local restaurant the menu was in French, but had a brief line in English underneath each choice.  I liked the sound of stuffed marrows and so ordered this vegetarian option.  A plate of long bones was brought to me, split open to reveal the cooked marrow.  I have seldom been so nauseated.  Everybody laughed.

Above:  in search of crusaders we went into the abbey church.

Above:  in a side aisle was a case of reliqueries.  Among the withered fingers and drops of congealed blood was a long-bone wrapped in silver but partially revealed.  All the nausea of Le Touquet returned.

La France profonde.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The "joke" has a very dark history

Back from France.

There was a heap of newspapers that had piled up while I was away.  I mostly skim-read the headlines.  But the Charlie Brooker article in today's Guardian made me stop and look more carefully.

The idea that the world is secretly controlled by giant shape-shifting lizards may sound hilarious but the "joke" has a very dark history.

David Icke has always strenuously denied that when he says "lizards control the world" he actually means Jews, but if you substitute the word Jew for the word lizard it does sound like the usual Jewish World Conspiracy clap-trap.

While Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker was Twittering last week that Cameron was a lizard the Guardian politics editor Mehdi Hasan helpfully commented (in the Guardian) about Cameron:  "his great-great-grandfather, Emile Levita, a German-Jewish financier".

In Norway in 2003:  "In a course held recently in Oslo, Baumann [an extremist] was reluctant to present antisemitic theories but a question from the audience must have sparked something off, prompting him to read a section from a book by David Icke, the British conspiracy theorist. Icke thinks the world is ruled by a group of Jews, who are really reptiles in human form, emanating from outer space to colonise the earth"

None of this stuff is new - there are thousands of other examples on the internet (John Buchan in The 39 Steps warned about master criminals being run by a "little white-faced Jew in a bath-chair with an eye like a rattle-snake").
Perhaps Charlie Brooker is just "pushing the envelope" like most so-called alternative funny guys.  Perhaps Mehdi Hasan used the phrase "Jewish financier" because it was essential background information to the piece he was writing.  Perhaps the Jewish-lizards stories circulating in Norway had nothing to do with what later happened in that country.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

There is NO chance of youth unemployment improving

Discussions on the Today programme this morning about the unemployment figures to be announced later today, particularly youth unemployment.

Very earnest analysis from Rev Lucy Winkett on Thought for the Day (saying "society" had to accept responsibility for youth unemployment).  Very profound analysis from Will Hutton and an academic (whose name I did not catch) about the impact of "the cuts".  None of these intelligent caring people mentioned the devastating impact migration is having on youth unemployment.

The reason there are no starter positions in the economy is because there is an endless supply of well-qualified experienced eastern Europeans taking the jobs.  From the point of view of employers it is a bonanza - why on earth would they employ inexperienced gawky teenagers (still slightly rebellious, still trying to develop their own personalities, still trying to live out their Hollyoaks expectation of society) when they can have compliant obedient eastern Europeans (often with degrees, often with years of experience, often undercutting even the lowest wage rates)?  Especially when the eastern Europeans can be dismissed at a moment's notice and in any case seldom challenge authority (50 years of communism has ensured a mindset where they do as they are told). 

I say the supply of eastern Europeans is endless because inward migration is going to continue at this rate unless and until the countries of eastern Europe achieve economic parity with the United Kingdom.

Therefore there is NO chance of youth unemployment improving until the free movement of labour in the European Union is stopped (and an opportunity to do this might be provided by the treaty renegotiation that is likely to accompany the crisis in the Eurozone, which will have to be ratified by a referendum of the British people).

The Rev Lucy Winkett says that "society" must take responsibility for youth unemployment.  Perhaps someone could remind Rev Winkett that every time opinion polls have asked the ordinary people ("society") about immigration they have always said, very clearly, that they don't want it.  This is supposed to be a democracy and yet for decades the overwhelming view of the people on migration has been ignored.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

He is too tainted

I don't see how Liam Fox can carry on.  He is too tainted.  And even if he managed to get through the current difficulty, the press would always be looking for more information about his "friend".

If I were advising the government on PR I would suggest sacking Liam Fox with maximum drama, accusing him of betraying his colleagues, with the Prime Minister loudly telling the House of Commons that dodgy politicians will not be tolerated and at the same time calling for an investigation into Cellcrypt's funding of the Labour Party (and ideally they would get Dr Fox's covert agreement to do this sacking as it would look better if he dressed in sackcloth and ashes and wailed mea culpa and devoted himself to three or four years of 'good works' that could later be rewarded with a place in the House of Lords). 

Then promote Rory Stewart to Defence Secretary as a counter to the "youthful" Shadow Cabinet reshuffle announced today (he has a very literate blog

This would achieve the following PR objectives:
  • It would put the government in charge of the story.
  • It would give the media a dramatic narrative (which is what they crave).
  • It would give a seemingly over-mighty "I can do what I like" politician a public kicking (which is what the people crave).

Monday, October 10, 2011

More than just post-modern

Recently I was driving past Wisbech and on a nondescript roundabout I saw this 1980s building.  Originally an office block, it is now an hotel.  Not sure who the architect was.

This is more than just post-modern, it seems to be a complete and authentic revival. 

Wisbech is one of the finest Geogian towns in England, although hardly anyone knows this.  The area has experienced excessive immigration over the last ten years, with many of the eastern Europeans unable to pronounce the town's name properly.  This has led to many locals referring to the town as "Wisbekistan".

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Harvest Festival evening service.

I felt slightly apprehensive that when the final harvest comes the fruitful ears of wheat will be safely gathered in, but the tares will be cast in the fire.

We don't often hear those lines.

"It feels like they are every month" I said defensively


Always in my mind today was the prospect of the Management "Awayday" tomorrow.  You would think, with all the cutbacks, these jaunts would be cancelled, but apparently they are justified because the NGO's managers need to get away from the office to do their "blue sky thinking".  So all of today I was working on the presentation I am to give tomorrow.

When I arrived in the office Margaret from the Information Team made me a cup of tea.

The Information Team (eight people, some part-time) are delightful people.  They report to me mainly because when their mini-NGO folded no-one else would have them.  Now there are rumours that they are to be "cut", and as I am leaving the NGO myself at the end of the year there is a sense that we are all going down together.

Equal opportunities training was held in the Board Room, all managers having to attend either the morning or afternoon session.  I opted for the morning, although I really couldn't spare the time ("We can ALWAYS spare time for equal opportunities and diversity training" I was told sternly).  The training involved historical "examples" that were so inaccurate I was aghast, although I did not attempt to correct the trainer - I would only make myself a target.

Operations Director Ryan M was in my session - he limped in having hurt his foot playing football at the weekend (his shoe was off, and he rested his leg on a chair, grimacing frequently).  The trainer made the mistake of asking him what happened.  Ryan M became very agitated:  "The Captain gave the ref a mouthful... my wife was on the pitch... everyone else was on the pitch... the team will probably be banned... I got my picture on the local paper's website... my foot is a lovely colour, do you want to see it..." (at this point he removed his sock, disgusting half the people in the room and fascinating the other half).

When the training ended there was that brief period when everyone was milling about and talking.  PR Officer Josie S came into the room, ostensibly to talk to me about something "urgent" (but it was actually a totally unimportant matter).  Until recently she has been having an "affair" with Ryan M, but although he was sitting next to me, and she was standing so that she was almost touching him (and did touch him when she swayed slightly) he completely ignored her.

Josie S looked so miserable that I distracted her by talking very seriously about the issue she had brought up, and gently leading her from the room.

Later she said to me "It's all starting up again".  This was a ridiculous thing to say, since he couldn't have been more uninterested towards her.  Later still she said "I am almost certain to be hurt and crushed again".


The day of the Management Awayday.  I have been working on my presentation for the past few weeks, and felt a little nervous as I drove to the country house conference centre (absurd really, as I will soon be leaving the NGO behind me).  I was so early I drove into the local town as far as the classical war memorial, just to use up some time.

We gathered in a comfortable lounge, low club armchairs (fourteen of them) arranged in a circle.  The usual civil servant "stakeholder" unobtrusively watching us and taking notes.  Although most of us were in casual clothes Ryan M arrived in a suit, needing to go to an event in the evening. 

On the whole I found the day oppressive.

We started with the presentations from each department, and my presentation was well-received and got good responses (I suppose because it was short, implied action, and had several new ideas).  My boss, Tom D, unveiled the new marketing structure, with myself as the key manager (although I am leaving - perhaps he has not taken me seriously).  CEO Alec Pressberg insultingly asked me whether I could manage the combined marketing and research departments, and I was very tempted to be rude back, but I kept quiet.

During the lunchbreak I was with Ryan M and Preston (Innovation Manager) at the tiny bar.  It was a mistake to have joined them.  Ryan M became inebriated after only one drink (perhaps the effect of the strong pain-killers he was also taking) and started slurring his words and talking aggressively about other managers in the NGO (all of whom were within earshot). 

The afternoon was horribly tedious.  Ryan M was defiant in his presentation, and became quite yobbish towards some of the female managers.  Praise for my work rolled in from several directions, including Ryan M (do I want his friendship? - he seems difficult to shake off).


I was hoping that today would be quite relaxed, but actually I felt very stressed (and overlaying everything is the world economic gloom, despite the fact that we are supposed to be a "safe haven").

Arriving a little after nine, I had to park my car on the main road since the office car park was full.

The marketing meeting, chaired by Tom D was incomprehensible - he went through the new organisation but seemed to be making things up as he went along. 

Afterwards I asked for a meeting with Tom D and I asked him why the structure seemed to have changed yet again.  He blustered on about changes CEO Alec Pressberg wanted to make.  Although in theory the fact that I am leaving soon should make me less caring about what happens to the NGO, actually I find myself becoming more concerned about what will happen (since the department comprises nearly twenty people now, and none of them can rely on Tom D). 

The world economy is in dire trouble, and yet everyone seems unconcerned.  Perhaps we have managed to sidestep everything.  Perhaps we will be able to muddle through as usual.


A photographer arrived from a regional magazine, and I had to quickly marshal a number of department heads to be photographed.

Later a meeting with Carmel, the Special Projects manager, to discuss marketing for her department.  She was very difficult.  Later she was difficult again about invoices, which led to several e-mails flying around the NGO. 


I was in the office early, before most other people, and Ryan M also came in, talking about his routine "Normally get up at quarter to six, rushing about making the tea, having a shower - normally I get shaved at night..."  I asked about his new kitten and he talked about his two dogs "We've had them since we were married... had them ten years... we don't have children..."

Later there was a big meeting of all the NGO's staff, crammed uncomfortably into the Board Room. 

I suggested having the meetings every six weeks instead of every month.

"They are every six weeks" several people told me in unison.

"Well it feels like they are every month" I said defensively, provoking a lot of laughter.

Later that night I watched Newsnight which included an item about an umemployed person living in a room in a hostel in the East End.  This feature has haunted me ever since.  And although I remind myself of all the assets I have (not least this house) I still cannot shake off the idea that I will end up like that myself. 

Friday, October 07, 2011

Will Alex Salmond be apologising

It was announced on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning that the credit rating agency Moodys has downgraded the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Will Alex Salmond be making a statement about this downgrade?

Will Alex Salmond be apologising for his role in this fiasco since it was his incessent blethering and boasting about the strength and power of the Edinburgh-based financial institution that contributed to the hubris of the Royal Bank of Scotland in taking reckless decisions, believing that they were truly the masters of the universe that Alex Salmond made them out to be?

Will Alex Salmond be commenting on the widely held belief that in this matter he has behaved like a donnert sumph?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

James Cusick and Cahal Milmo (writing in today's Independent)

I'm afraid I don't believe these diaries have been "lost".  We cannot have corruption in the police.  Otherwise they become just another criminal gang.

James Cusick and Cahal Milmo (writing in today's Independent) say "this is the first time the ICO has had to deal with such a high-profile disappearance from what should be a public archive."

Marina Hyde (writing in today's Guardian)

Why such nastiness?  It is very depressing to read invective of this kind.  And Marina Hyde (writing in today's Guardian) seems entirely oblivious to the fact that you could rewrite this headline "Idiotic journalist stars reflect our septic media" and it would remain equally valid.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A discussion on the Today programme this morning about why Sainsbury's might be doing better than Tescos.

My observation is that the experience of going to a Sainsbury store is more pleasant.  I have often experienced off-hand rudeness from Asda and Tesco check-out staff.  This has never happened to me in Sainsburys, and at no point have I left a Sainsbury's store thinking: I will never go in there again.

I have been going to Sainsburys every week for some years now, and although the stock may sometimes be a bit thin no-one has ever been rude to me.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Henry Mayhew warning back in the 1860s

Above:  I bought this on impulse - I would have bought Labour's Purple Book as well, but it wasn't in stock.

I am working flat out at the moment and am not able to follow the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester.  I can watch the highlights after Newsnight, but nothing during the day.  So I will not get to see Dave's speech tomorrow.

On the whole if there was an election tomorrow I think I would still vote Conservative.  I like "Dave", and the rest of them seem reasonably competent.  Especially I was encouraged by Stephanie Flanders' article

But just as I like individual Labour MPs but dislike their collective offering, so I tend to like the collective Conservative package but dislike individual Tories, especially the new intake (Louise Mensch, Nick Boles, Elizabeth Truss etc - they all seem so smug and arrogant).

One Tory I do have a lot of respect for is Iain Duncan-Smith.

I was half-watching Andrew Neil's highlights of Iain Duncan-Smith's speech yesterday.  Iain Duncan-Smith was saying that the previous government had allowed the immigration of new workers rather than attempt the (possibly difficult) task of training and motivating the existing unemployed people in Britain.  And at the same time I was reading Henry Mayhew warning back in the 1860s:  "A surplus of hands tends to change the employment of the great majority from a state of constancy and regularity into one of casuality and precariousness."

Monday, October 03, 2011

I have to say I didn't enjoy the Today programme this morning.

There was the inevitable intrusive musical piece.

Then an over-pretentious piece about children's fiction.

Then a complete non-story about how we are to have the way we measure time "taken from us" - except that it isn't, and the change they were talking about actually happened back in 1972, and the piece was so garbled and incomprehensible that I began to feel annoyed.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Unbelivably hot weather during the day, but when I wake in the early morning (about 4 am) it is so cold I am almost shivering.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Scottish Studies debate on the Parliament Channel

This morning, despite the sunny weather, I watched the Scottish Studies debate on the Parliament Channel.

I only meant to watch a little, while I had a cup of tea, but I ended up watching over an hour.

It seemed a classic Orwellian exercise ("He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future").

The language used by the SNP is interesting.  They maintain a headline commitment to mutliculturalism and diversity, while at the same time appearing to include coded messages that imply the opposite.  The Labour MSPs didn't really know how to respond to this (there was no meaningful contribution from the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats).

For instance, MSP Rob Gibson loudly proclaimed "Our proudly mongrel nation" but did so with a smirk, as if it was just a tool he was using.

MSP John Finnie talked about "the sacrifice of the indigenous people at Culloden".  Later he talked about "the British suppression of the natives of Skye".  This use of emotive and tendentious language rather undermined the claims the SNP were making that the new "Scottish Studies" would be impartial. 

MSP Paul Wheelhouse seemed to feel an obligation to mention his "Scottish ancestry".  But if Scottish people are "proudly mongrel" how can they have a coherent ancestry?  No-one seemed to notice this inconsistency.

The summing up by Education Minister Michael Russell included a rabble-rousing list of "let's talk about..." (but he didn't talk about any of the things he listed).  He also made frequent references to a number of fictional works (novels and films), which seemed to be a flimsy intellectual basis on which to base an education policy.  His closing sentence, shouted to the assembly, was "Let's show enthusiasm for where we came from" - but if they are "proudly mongrel" surely they do not come from any one place?