Even the ferrets have a better life than we chicken-keepers. Overnight the fierce frost returned and as we set to on the water-containers the snow began to fall. At least it is obliterating all the junk discarded over the past few days which suits we out-of-sight-and-out-of-mind adherents. But there the consolations end for we grumpy old men no longer see snow as a visual delight. Of course a snowbound allotment site is not new but last year it came in February and it was easier to bear given that Spring was around the corner. Now I eye it as I once, from behind the sofa, eyed Aunt Ethel who arrived early and stayed for ever.
But enough of chickens, we all have the distraction of the zillion secret US embassy cables to distract us. Today the Guardian, which was the initial recipient of the tripe, has a main headline telling us that Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, described Cameron and Osborne as being out of their depth. Now wait a moment, that is what the US ambassador said he said. In fact the cable in question didn’t say that anyway, it said that King had said that the Tory party (then in opposition) lacked depth. He also said that Cameron and Osborne lacked experience which, considering that they had not then had experience of government, was what Basil Fawlty called a statement of the bleeding obvious.
I have met and talked to Mervyn King. He is a facts man. What he is claimed to have said was, at that point in time, a fact. To now turn it into a great plot is absurd but the newspapers have to sell copies. We can therefore expect days of lurid headlines all purporting to reveal something sensational.
All of the cables have one thing in common. They were written by ambassadors or their staff. All love to describe themselves as diplomats which is really a posh description for spin-doctors. Yes they are bright people with self understanding but their objective in briefing their bosses back at home is to show themselves in a good light, people worthy of reappointment or promotion, people who know all that there is to know about the country in which they reside. Perhaps the best analogy is a prosecuting counsel. They slant the report to suit their case or to provide the recipient with what they want to hear. And they do it from memory for notes are not taken during their appointments.
The only exception to all this are the handful of cables that relate to real issues such as the security of nuclear products in Pakistan. Why such intelligence was transmitted through a system that legally allows over 3000 people access is beyond understanding. But those apart the whole shebang is gossip writ large. And one doesn’t have to be an ambassador to know that the version of an event or discussion varies dramatically according to who delivers it and their motives.
Fortunately for our ambassadors no one has yet decided to provide copy of the British cables to either WikiLeaks or The Guardian. Were they to do so you can bet your bottom dollar that our man in Washington would by now be reversing his ‘inside’ stories about President Obama. He would be seizing on a sentence here or there which could, when taken out of context, explain why his original report suggesting that the new man was the most popular in the universe was a little wide of the mark. It is all a game and, with the exception of the true security briefings, everything is probably ignored and filed unread.
Which is more than can be said for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He is said to be in hiding in London and is being pursued not just by the mad Sarah Palin who demands his execution, but also by Swedish prosecutors who wish to question him in connection with unrelated criminal allegations. Even the saner leading lights in the States are now also planning retribution so he is likely to be hiding at 10 Baker Street for some considerable time. The apparent leaker, Bradley Manning is less fortunate, he is already incarcerated.
To be fair most of this morning’s papers have given the whole affair only modest coverage. But the Guardian has decided to devote almost the whole edition to revelations about this and that supposed sensation. Even the fact that, according to an ambassador, Prince Andrew is supposed to have used a four letter word is seen as the equivalent to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
At one time I used to meet various foreign diplomats. Even when they told me the time I felt obliged to check my own watch. What they say is always slanted and what they say other people say doubly so.
Yes the fact of a leak of this size is a cause for concern but what it reveals is an excess of half-truths and total hogwash. Those bombarding us with this nonsense should seek employment in the ancient Egyptian art of making mountains out of molehills!
TUITION FEES ONLY INCREASE IF YOU ARE ENGLISH!
It is hard to understand the logic behind the announcements that Scottish students will continue to enjoy no tuition fees and their Welsh equivalents will be limited to £3,200 as against the proposed English ceiling of £9000.
How can this possibly be right when English taxpayers provide a giant slice of the funding granted to the devolved Welsh and Scottish assemblies? Clearly even the students do not understand for yesterday Welsh students staged protests to coincide with the ones in English cities.
Come to think of it the whole thing is becoming more bizaare by the day. Vince Cable, who drafted the new legislation, has now indicated that he may well abstain or even vote against it.
Aspirins all round!
WORLD CUP MORE IMPORTANT THAN SAVING THE WORLD!
With scientists warning that there is little time left in which to save the world from inundation and ultimate destruction one would have imagined that world leaders would have at least attended the climate change summit in Mexico.
But no! David Cameron was unable to be there due to his commitments at the FIFA world cup event. Is it me or do we seem to be getting our priorities wrong?
ASHES; BOYCOTT HAS THE ANSWER!
Few would argue other than that Geoffrey Boycott was one of the finest batsmen to play for England but entertainer he was not. Today he gave his view on the current Ashes series.
He doesn’t believe that either attack is good enough to bowl the other side out twice. Most people share that view. But he goes on to say that five draws would be enough to enable us to hold on to the Ashes. Ye Gods, I’d rather watch paint dry!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1 1979 2. Hanoi
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who wrote the 70s plays ‘No Man’s land’ anmd ‘Betrayal’? 2. Of which country did Robert Muldoon become prime minister in 1975?