Posts Tagged ‘Beeb’
The worst of the gale seems to have passed, all we have to do now is restore the allotments to something resembling their previous state. Very cold this morning but we have glimpsed the sun, even if its warm embrace seems but a distant memory. The weather over the past few days has sparked renewed interest in the hotly debated subject of global warming, it may have been this that triggered my overnight dream. When I recalled it Albert remarked that he much prefers his fantasies about Zsa Zsa Gabor, but we don’t get to select our dreams and mine would not have been top of my selections should such an option exist.
My dream involved the planet gradually surrendering to the marauding oceans. Probably inspired by David Attenborough’s final ‘Frozen Planet’ slot on the Beeb, I saw pictures of even the UK under water. The elected Mayor of a submerged London - a mad bloke with a shock of fair hair – was swimming from rooftop to rooftop offering solace, and a shiny-faced prime minister was promising a public enquiry. Pure rubbish. Or is it?
Almost unnoticed by the masses who are focussed on Cameron’s attempt to face both ways at the same time on the EU, and Rooney’s outrage at being suspended for merely kicking someone, a United Nations summit on global warming is taking place in Durban. We are represented by Chris Hulme, proof indeed that this is not regarded by our leaders as a high priority. Other nations too have fielded their reserves in the manner of Arsene Wenger in the Carling Cup.
This morning Mr Hulne let it be known that more than 120 countries now support a timetable towards a legally binding agreement at “some point in the future”. The summit has been a tense affair with accusations of “chequebook diplomacy” and protesters thrown out of the proceedings. But our man in Durban is hopeful even though he felt obliged to remark that it could “all still go pear-shaped”. Meanwhile sources close to the talks say that carbon dioxide missions were unlikely to start coming down before 2020 and Joseph Alcamo, the UN Environment Programme chief scientist, warned that unless emissions reduce sharply the world will be “locked in” to dangerous global warmings.
Europe deserves credit for pressing the need for action but the “big polluters”, America and China, continue to procrastinate. Hope for a Green Climate Fund, that would channel £60 billion a year to countries adapting to climate change, have barely moved forward. Poor nations whose only means of survival is to chop down the rain forests will continue to do just that.
Although Attenborough avoided any comment on emissions, what he showed was truly startling. At both poles ice that has been unchanged for a zillion years is starting to melt. One area the size of Yorkshire, where man and polar bears alike have walked since the beginning of time now resembles a patchwork quilt as the icecap splits and its depth reduces. The result is an unbelievably huge increase in water entering the oceans. If this trend continues we could see many low-lying areas of the world under water within twenty years ,and huge land masses likewise before the end of the century.
Of course one of the obstacles to progress in reducing emissions are the wealthiest countries where large influential groups contest the predictions of scientists. They may well be ancestors of those who once argued that the earth was flat, but they are dangerous. People with vested interests tend to believe what they prefer to believe.
Perhaps I am alone in wondering how it can be that almost every world leader is focussed on something else. The future of the EU, the Olympics, the Iranian threat, the Olympics opening ceremony, banker’s bonuses et al.
They are all important but doesn’t the fact that in just a decade or so we may all have to sit stranded on our rooftops make them all somewhat academic?
JOIN ME TOMORROW FOR THE WEEKEND QUIZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The area around the hen-runs has turned into a quagmire and that spell of sunny weather seems a distant memory. When we have to wade about in mud and muck, conversation does tend to be reduced to grunts. The result was that other than passing references to Cameron’s pledge of eternal freindship with Andy Coulson, and the inevitable threats made by the Murdoch crowd to Ed Miliband, there was little mention today of the replacement of the Screws by the Sunday Sun. What did attract out attention was the row that has broken out around TV’s new golden boy, Professor Brian Cox, he of the perpetual smile.
During a programme called ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’ the new age hero blotted his copy book by declaring that there are no ghosts and it is silly to believe in them. The Beeb was inundated with complaints that the programme was ‘unbalanced’ and Cox subsequently tweeted that “there are some utter nobbers out there”. Such language will have shaken the curtains in leafy Surbiton where the smiling scientist has replaced Cliff Richard in the heart of many a blue-rinse.
My instinct is to agree with his dismissal of ghosts. It is illogical and unscientific, such things are a figment of fevered imaginations. However, this disbeliever has, on a number of occasions, learned of encounters that simply cannot be explained away. Let me give you just one example. It relates to a hotel in the Midlands, one of those former ivy-clad grand houses from the 17th century.
Several years ago a friend stayed there. He is a scientist and, as is typical of his kind, refuses to believe anything that he doesn’t witness and cannot verify. To this day he still refuses to believe in ghosts, poltergeists or little men in green suits. However, he has an intellectual problem. He still cannot explain an experience he had that night on his overnight stay.
I remember his ringing me on the following day to report what happened. His room was on the third floor and the only access to the bathroom was through his bedroom. During the night he recalls half waking to hear a great deal of noise nearby, but he drifted off again having assumed that there were revellers in an adjoining room. When his alarm roused him he padded across to the bathroom. On opening the door he stood transfixed in horror.
Everything in the bathroom was smashed. The sink, the bath and the toilet were shattered into fragments and toiletries were scattered everywhere. My logical friend could only reason that for the first time in his life he had sleepwalked and become violent. But where was the sledgehammer? In a daze, he dressed and rushed down to the reception where he expected incredulity and a demand for payment.
Instead the girl on duty simply replied ” Oh God, that’s the third time this year!”. The duty manager was summoned and instead of hostility provided comfort. He reported that for some years there had been a series of such unexplained events and, having consulted various ‘experts’, the management had resigned itself to the fact that the old building was the haunt of a poltergeist.
My friend often revisits that night in his mind which refuses to accept other than a rational explanation. He cannot find one. In fact he has since called in at the hotel and has learned of five more ‘visitations’.
If, as Professor Cox suggests, my scientific pal is a ‘nobber’ I cannot imagine what that says about the rest of us. He plans to challenge the Prof to stay overnight in the Midlands!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S PUB QUIZ; 1. No 2. Simon & Garfunkel 3. Claustrophobia 4. Palm Sunday 5. Sunday 6. September 7. Fossils 8. Bambi 9. Bob Hope 10. Harry Houdini
People often ask why a group of elderly geezers commit themselves to raisIng chickens, indeed there are many wet and cold mornings when we ask ourselves the same question. But the answer is simple, we need a reason to get up. Not every pastime provides this when the curtains are pulled to reveal Dantes inferno, but the involvement of animals leaves no option but to groan and rise. We were mulling this over today in the light of news that the quality of care for the elderly and vulnerable in this country is rapidly descending to third-world standards and worse. Last night a Panorama investigation provided an insight into the performance of the private sector so beloved of Andrew Lansley and his pals. Clearly they are right to claim that switching to private companies will increase choice, what they didn’t tell us is that torture is on the menu.
As the result of a whistleblower the Beeb managed to install a reporter on the staff of Winterborne View, a care home near Bristol for adults with autism and learning disabilities. The home is run by Castlebeck, a company with a £90 million turnover which runs more than 50 such units. The company charges the NHS and local authoritiues up to £3500 a week to provide care for patients.
But what we saw last night, thanks to a hidden camera, was an appalling catalogue of cruel abuse. In fact a watching expert described what they regularly did as torture and one didn’t need to be an expert to realise that. Patients were pinned under chairs for long periods, had water poured over their heads, given cold showers when fully dressed, treated as punchbags…one disgusting abuse followed another. A woman apparently attempting to commit suicide was told “Come on I’ll keep the window open for ya. I like watching you lot try to jump”. Another member of staff said “If you are on your own you have to smash her”. Another chanted “Nein, nein, nein” as someone placed his knee across a patient’s throat.
Two things emerged. The staff were using vulnerable patients for their own sadistic amusement. The staff were untrained, poorly paid and totally unsupervised. It was, to quote the watching Professor Jim Mansell, the author of the Government’s policy on disability care, the worst kind of institutional care, the kind that was prevalent in the 1960s. “The staff”, he added, “ don’t think that these are human beings like them”.
To me the most significant revelation was that a large private provider seemed to have no awareness of what was going on. Lee Reed, the chief executive of Castlebeck, said that the staff should have been suspended but were not. As in any private company the prime objective is profit. Inspections, trained staff and a supervised code of practice cost money. Having once been a member of a Health Authority inspection team covering private nursing homes I have to admit that I was not unduly surprised.
The simple truth is that private companies enter the healthcare field to make profit and unlike, say, a retailer have no opportunity to increase volumes once all beds are occupied. So they can only improve their margins by providing less costly care than that tendered for.
This government is not alone in believing that the private sector is some kind of potential saviour for the NHS. The last government paid out millions to companies for operations they never performed. And amongst those that were carried out any complication was immediately passed on to the nearest NHS hospital. Caring medicine and maximum profitability are disastrous bedfellows.
The police are now involved in the situation exposed by the Beeb. That is good news. Equally pleasing is the insight it provided into the dark world of private medical care. Lansley’s plan deserves total opposition!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEAD QUIZ; 1. What my Heart Wants To Say. 2. Monkey 3. Ailurophobia 4. Turkey 5. Rudyard Kipling 6. One 7. Senegal 8. Theme from Harry’s Game 9. John Prescott 10. Fruits .
Today is F A Cup Final day. A magical day. A long awaited day. A day when viewing starts at 8.00am as the big build up begins. Not any longer!
F A Cup fever reached its peak in the Eighties, a culmination of many years of a public love affair with the big Wembley occasion. There was a huge TV audience and the BBC and ITV vied with each other in their attempts to ensnare viewers as the morning ticked away. The Beeb always won hands down although one suspects that the absence of irritating ads was a greater factor than the likes of Mel Smith, Griff Rhys Jones, John Cleese, Peter Cook and Warren Mitchell who were all pressed into service. There used to be a Cup final Question of Sport and, on some occasions, a snooker challenge. Programmes were on sale at local newsagents and small boys would hurry their breakfasts before settling down, programme in hand, to follow the drama. And come the 3.00 pm big moment every shopping centre in the land would be empty as even those who never watched football felt a sort of compulsion to share in the national sporting event of the year.
And now? The likelihood is that there will be plenty of gardeners on the allotments this afternoon, a contrast with days of old. In fact many of the soccer bent will probably tune in to Sky at 12.45 to watch Manchester United attempt to land the Premiership. If, having settled down, they decide to watch the mega-rich Arab-owned Manchester City take on the less financially endowed Stoke, there is no coverage by the BBC so it will be ads all the way. Millionaires on the pitch, Confused dot com off it!
Of course the supporters of the finalists will be all ears and eyes, but the rest of the nation has lost interest in the once magical F A Cup. In today’s world of constant TV coverage of virtually every top game, the thought of having stars in your lounge has lost its novelty appeal. And for those few that still feel that way the European Cup, the Premiership title, the play-offs, are all way above the old urn in order of importance.
The F A Cup magic has been on its deathbed for some time now, an early symptom being the tendency of the top managers to field lesser players in the earlier rounds with a view to focussing primarily on European and League matches. Even the once exciting giant-killimg acts have lost their lustre. It is less of a sensation when a non-league club beats a Premiership reserve team!
I grew up in the days when we watched the Final on black and white 14″ sets with the curtains pulled. That was the only live football we saw. Then came the period I have described when the magic was still there. Now the F A Cup Final is just another football match and, in today’s case, probable proof that loads of cash can buy success.
It rather reminds me of the death of Christmas magic. There again over exposure has blown the magic dust away. Perhaps there is somewhere a graveyard for magic that once was. I think that I would like to pay a visit if only to hear again ‘Abide with Me” and sleighbells in the snow before they were drowned out by Confused dot com and all the other commercial rubbish that assails us.
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; DIVORCE; “My wife and I pondered whether to take a vacation or to get a divorce. We decided that a trip to Bermuda is over in two weeks, but a divorce is something you always have”…..Woody Allen “Divorce is the sacrament of adultery”…….Jean Guichard “Divorce can be seen as the legal alternative to murder”…..Jeff Foxworthy “Honey, I’m going to miss you so much. It’s not just the sex, it’s also the food preparation”….Homer Simpson “I still miss my ex, but my aim is improving”…..Woody Woodbury “Why do divorces cost so much? Because they’re worth it”……..Johnny Carson “Alimony is the screwing you get for the screwing you got”…..Jim Davidson
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEAD QUIZ; 1. Steps 2 Radar Love 3 Bands of Hope 4 Four years 5 Printing (platemaking) 6 Pottery 7 1200(1196) 8 Stanley Bladwin 9 Portugal 10 Fungi
TODAY’S EGGHEAD CHALLENGE; 1. Who was the letter which revealed the gunpowder plot addressed to? 2 Which lecturer in philosophy wrote ‘The Second Sex’? 3 Which non-metallic element has the atomic number 6? 4 What was Marc Almond’s first solo UK Top Ten hit? 5 Made in 1975 with George Segal, ‘The Black Bird’ was a spoof of which screen classic? 6 In surveying, how long is a Gunter’s Chain in feet? 7 Susan Godfrey was the first victim of which atrocity? 8 In which city was the infamous Gatting and Rana Test Match flare up? 9 Who was older when he died, Jimi Hendrix or Marc Bolan? 10 In which film did Chaplain first tackle dialogue?
There is a heaven and we are in it! How else can one react to such a beautiful day to greet the start of the County cricket season, an occasion usually celebrated in dressing-rooms with rain, snow, or bad light guaranteeing no game but Whist. The multitude of hens seemed subdued, perhaps puzzled by the strange light in the sky. But not everyone was in good humour, as the children headed down the lane for school we could hear high-pitched voices raised in one of those ‘it’s all your fault’ arguments. Who does that remind you of, someone asked. Who? The politicians of course, was the answer.
I’m not sure who said it but it’s a fair bet that they watched last night’s Question Time on the Beeb. The main argument there centered around the NHS reforms and the lay members of the panel made interesting points. But the various ministers were, er, pathetic. A smart young blade in a posh suit called Hunt explained the Lansley plan away by claiming that Labour would have done the same. “Oh no we wouldn’t” yelled the Labour lady, whose name has slipped my memory. I found myself wishing the audience had joined in, in true pantomime fashion, with oh yes you would. It could have gone on for hours. The truth is that Blair’s government made attempts to bring in his private sector heroes and only fierce public resistance stopped it. But it is beside the point. Is everything that the coalition does based on the belief that they are no worse than the previoius lot? We had hoped they would be better!
This morning we have yet another example of the yoo-hah politics that have taken over. Cameron has had to intervene in the dispute between the treasury and Ministry of Defence. In truth he had no option since Osborne’s department seemed hell-bent on taking away every last penny of the defence budget whilst leaving the armed forces to fight two wars. Security experts Paul Cornish and Andrew Dorman have warned in the latest issue of ‘International Affairs’, the publication of the Chatham House thinktank, that the defence review is fast becoming “the fastest policy failure in modern British history”. Meantime, the senior Harrier commander in the Falklands conflict, Nigel MacCartan-Ward, has warned that the decision to scrap our only aircraft carrier will cost almost one billion pounds over the expected six months of engagement. What he thinks of the fact that HMS Cumberland, the Nimrod spy plane, and the RAF’s Sentinel reconnaissance aircraft (now in constant action) were on their way to the scrapyard when the Libyan situation exploded, is not recorded. But we can guess!
And how does Liam Fox and his cronies explain this mighty mess? They blame Labour, who of course blame them. The truth is that Labour messed up by adding £600 million to defence coffers for the sale of Typhoon jets to Oman without waiting to ascertain that the sale would go though. And over the past decade the M.O.D has practiced costly and disastrous procurement on a grand scale. But here, as with the NHS, the fact that Labour messed up is not the issue. The coalition studied the situation for many months and then took decisions that have left us unable to defend our own airspace let alone that of Gaddafi or any other madman that Cameron decides to attack.
To an extent the relationship between Tory and Labour has aways been a bit like this, a constant tit-for-tat battle between incompetent combatants. The sad fact is that it is getting worse and the amount of lies now being fed to a public weary of the lot of them could qualify for the guinness Book of Records. At the last election the big hope was that Nick Clegg and his Lib Dem MPs would bang heads together and introduce intelligent, grown-up debate.
But that idea died on day one when he made the mistake of appearing in the rose garden with his mate ‘Dave’. Now he is desperately trying to distance himself from ‘Dave’ and all his works, but no one is listening for when it comes to saying one thing and doing another he has set new levels.
Perhaps we should organise a swap. Let the squabbling schoolkids run the country and let the politicians go back to the playground. We wouldn’t notice the difference!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; HYGIENE; “My grandmother took a bath every year, whether she needed it or not”…..Brendan Behan “Armpits lead lives of quiet perspiration”,,,,,Patrick Murray “Why do they bother saying raw sewage?; Do some people cook the stuff?….George Carlin “A gentleman is someone who gets out of the bath to go to the toilet”…Freddie Trueman “Miss Debary, Susan and Sally made their appearance, and I was as civil to them as their bad breath would allow me”…….Jane Austen “Lady Badbreath, fresh as stilton…”…..Cyril Connelly “On the day there was a full chamber pot under the breakfast table I decided to leave”…George Orwell “I remember when pants were pants. You wore them for twenty years and then cut them down for pan scrubs”…..Victoria Wood
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. The Aswan Dam 2. Cholera
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which prime minister married Gladys Mary Baldwin? 2. Which prime minister was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire?