Posts Tagged ‘Daffodils’
Grey skies today but the colours of rebirth are everywhere. The forsythia around the allotments is a mass of sparkling yellow and the daffodils are raising their heads as if in triumph at surviving a dismal winter. The buds on the rose trees promise much and the snowdrops are hanging on as if reluctant to end their intro to Spring. The only thing missing is frogspawn in the ponds which is curious given that a mass of frogs have been perfroming their mating rituals for weeks. Is this a general trend?
Meantime we were truly sorry to learn from our faithful beat officer that his days of calling are almost over. It seems that over one hundred beat officers are to be withdrawn across the county and it is easy to feel concern when the Chief Constable says that anyone claiming that a large reduction in numbers will do other than lead to an increase in crime and a loss of public confidence is crazy. Yes there will still be squads of officers wearing body armour held ready to rush to any serious incident but that is reactive policing, most people have enjoyed the recent trend toward proactive practice with bobbies out and about amongst the community.
When I cast my mind back to those TV debates during the general election I recall Grumpy Gordon repeatedly asking David Cameron if he would guarantee police numbers. It seemed ominous then when Cameron continually refused to answer although his future stooge Nick did give such a pledge. Since then the prime minister has said that he is determined to protect the police front line. The dashing Home Secretary, Theresa May, has since repatedly referred to the plan for leaving ‘front line services untouched’ and the policing minister, Nick Herbert has echoed his boss. Howver there is a problem!
In response to a freedom of information request the Home Office was obliged to admit that it doesn’t actaully know what front line services are. Small wonder that the chairman of the Police Federation, Paul McKeever, has responded with incredulity. “How can you have all your policing policies based on the phrase front line without knowing what it is” he has asked. Good question. But the Home Office spin-doctors are never short of a few misleading comments and they reacted by saying that whilst the definition is unclear there is also a middle office and a back office, therefore the front line is everyone not employed there. And you’ve guessed it, the Home Office couldn’t clearly define those either, merely saying that the middle office includes a “variety of functions which provide support” and “the back one comprises finance and human resources”.
My knowledge of police work is akin to Eddie the Eagle’s medal winning but it seems obvious that if chief constables were to clear out the support structure the whole process would grind to a halt. There probably are some working practices that need updating but the only significant way in which workload can be reduced to front, back and middle is by changing laws that call for enough paperwork to constitute a danger to low flying aircraft if stacked. One arrest can involve an officer in hours of paperwork and the gorgeous Theresa has shown no sign of understanding this let alone legislating to change things. Any day now she will proclaim the police force to be a service and insist that the villains be renamed service users!
Being the bunglers that they are – one only has to remember the Forest sale fiasco to believe that – the coalition has contrived to add to the growing feeling of discontent by the police by announcing plans to slash pay, pensions and expenses. The timing seems questionable!
I guess that the negative public reaction to all this is down to the obvious bottom line. Clearly there is no such thing as a precise front line. Yes we will miss the comforting presence of our beat bobbie and his CPSO sidekick, and people in crime-ridden inner cities will feel very vulnerable when theirs vanish. But a force cannot function purely out on the streets for back-up services such as CID are equally important. The obvious bottom line is that police services are being slashed and even those who never encounter the police in any guise like the feeling that they are there, just a 999 call away.
As in all debates about ‘the cuts’ we end up with the contrasting views of Chancellor Osborne and Shadow Chancellor Balls. The former belives that the deficit must be cleared in the life of one parliament and that privileged sectors of society such as the banks and the corporate tax evaders must be protected with every penny saved coming from the public services and public. The latter believes that the deficit should be halved and that the banks and tax evaders should be hammered into the ground like old tent-pegs.
The truth probably lies somewhere between the two and that in theory is where the Lib Dems come in, but they appear to have no view other than that if Cameron shouts jump they ask how high.
Few of us are economists and even they disagree amongst themselves. All we know is that wiping out the police sounds a very dangerous thing to do at a time when domestic discontent and terrorism seems primed to reach new heights!
QUOTES OF THE DAY; “To write a diary every day is like returning to ones own vomit”…Enoch Powell “Good girls keep diaries, bad ones never have the time”……Tallulah Bankhead “Keep a diary and one day it will keep you”….Mae West “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train”…..Oscar Wilde “I took a speed-reading course and read War and Peace in 20 minutes. It’s about Russia”…..Woody Allen “Last time I went to Portugal I get through six Jeffrey Archer novels. I must remember to take enough toilet paper next time”….Bob Monkhouse “Many thanks for your book. I shall waste no time in reading it”….Benjamin Franklin “Poetry books are handy implements for killing persistent irritating flies”…..Geoffrey Grigson “T S Eliot’s face had deep lines. I cannot say the same for his poetry”…..Melville Cane “Journalism largely consists of saying ‘Lord Jones dead’ to people who never knew that he was alive”……G K Chesterton “There are four sexes; men, women, clergymen and journalists”…Somerset Maughan
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Viv Anderson 2 Notts Forest
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which was Britain’s first all-seater soccer stadium? 2 Whose grave was vandalised by anti-hunting sabateurs?
The daffodils are out and the Bluebells under the trees are preparing to join them. The snowdrops are everywhere and the birds are scavenging for moss as their thoughts too turn to the Spring. In fact morale on the allotments should be high for the worst excesses of winter are over and more and more members are returning to their plots. Sadly there is a constant shadow cast by members who have grandsons, or in one case sons, in Afghanistan. Two of them are themselves ex-army men and the term armchair generals is in regular usage. In fact it reached its peak when Cameron’s warlike stance on Libya coincided with news of yet more cuts to our armed forces. And today we learn that more redundancy notices are on their way, the long-awaited armoured vehicles are to be cancelled as is the fleetof Reaper and Predator unmanned drones that spy on and attack insurgents.
Military experts are calling for a halt to the programme of cuts before it is too late They point out that the only reason HMS Cumberland was able to help rescue British citizens was that it was on its way home to be scrapped. Our one remaining aircraft carrier is now at Portsmouth awaiting the same fate and our Harrier force awaits a similar fate. Yet even the oldest of the prematurely retired GR77 and GR9 Harriers have only used a third of their planned airframe hours.
What it all boils down to is the stark fact that our troops are now exposed to mortal danger and the defence of the realm is now dependent on the support of the French and American governments. One imagines that the tranquility of Bladon churchyard is disturbed by the sound of Winston Churchill turning in his grave!
For he not only understood a great deal about military strategy, he had experienced the sound of shots fired in anger. But like Blair and Thatcher before him, David Cameron has never served or experienced the consequences of decisions made by armchair generals. Would Thatcher have been quite so quick to pack off her Task force to the Falklands if she had ever witnessed a ship and its crew on fire? Would Blair have been quite so gung ho about invading Iraq if he had actually seen what just one smart bomb can do to a village community?
And now we have Cameron – another donkey eager to send lions into battle for a cause that has nothing to do with us, and for which we no longer have the military strength. Fortunately no other world leader took his posturing over Libya seriously and hopefully he now realises that playing politics with the lives of servicemen is immoral.
For generations our prime ministers have sent young men and women off to fight and kill and die. Many have returned in coffins, many dreadfully burned, many severely wounded in body or mind. Many who returned have faced an uncertain future as the armchair generals tear up the promises to employ or help them. Toy soldiers like Thatcher, Blair and Cameron have abused their bravery, casually thrown away their lives, all for the sake of their own preening vanity.
Of course there was no alternative in 1939 when these Islands face imminent danger. But that was then, now we have few planes, ships or troops. But we are not facing danger from without and Cameron should stop playing politics without understanding the awful outcome of what he does!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; ” A man without a woman is like a neck without a pain”….W C Fields “The more I see of men the more I admire dogs”……Marie de Rabutin-Chantal “A man in the house is worth two in the street”….Mae West “I once had a large gay following, but I ducked into an alleyway and lost him”……Emo Philips ” I remember when outing meant a family picnic”…..Rodney Dangerfield “” I was dating a younger man. I asked him where he was when Elvis died. He said he was in amniotic fluid”……Robin Roberts ” Cleanliness is next to impossible”…..Audrey Austin “Alimony is the screwing you get for the screwing you got”….Jim Davidson ” My best friend ran off with my wife, and let me tell you, I really miss him”….Henny Youngman ”Bagpipes are the missing link between music and noise”…..E K Krugar
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Wimbledon 2 Virginia Wade (1977)
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. What kind of animal is a Kermit? 2. Was Gilbert O’Sullivan American, British, or Irish? What song gave him his first big hit?
A flurry of snow triggered mass panic this morning. The fact that the December freeze was the worst for a century has not dispelled the paranoia and the chicken and ferret keepers alike see convinced that we will get another dose before the daffodils break surface. And you know what they say about being paranoid, it doesn’t follow that there isn’t something awful awaiting you. But for now a calm order has been restored and we were able to moan about something other than the Council’s invisible gritters. And what more topical subject could there be than VAT?
A couple of the gang once earned their crusts in accountancy and they are amazed that Osborne’s defence of the VAT hike has gone unchallenged. His case is that cash must be found to slash the deficit and no one is likely to dispute that. It is his argument that the only alternatives were National Insurance contributions or income tax rises. Rubbish is the view of my numerate pals. They contend that the chancellor is pandering to the powerful and by so doing has scored an own-goal. The VAT rise is unpopular and it will damage any green shoots of economic recovery. He is said to be cutting 500,000 jobs in the public sector, the VAT rise will make replacement posts in the private sector far less likely.
According to John and Alec the alternative was clearly to tackle the powerful, all the signs point to the coalition being scared of the big-spending lobbyists and particularly those in the financial sector. A couple of threatening speeches from Osborne and Cable were met with a barrage of threats about financiers heading for other countries and, hey presto, all is forgiven. The bonus tax levied by Alastair Darling was described at the time by most experts as too soft but compared with what is happening now Darling was the equivalent of Attilla the Hun.
Yesterday was a generally bad day for Mr Osborne. He returned from his widely criticised luxury Swiss ski break, which suggested limited self understanding, to find most of the national papers carrying adverts which portrayed him as ‘the Artful Dodger’, a campaign launched not by the Labour party but by the ’38 Degrees’ group which is non-political, already boasts 250,000 members, and alleges that the Chancellor’s family avoided £1.6 m.in tax Then he got himself into an awful knot in trying to explain why he believes that VAT is ‘progressive’ yet David Cameron sees it as ‘very regressive’.
Regressive indeed and the money that ministers are asking the public to raise could be raised in five minutes by calling the bluff of the richest section of the business community. So long as they shy away from this confrontation, and instead hammer the poorer sections of society, there will be widespread dissatisfaction. Few of us have the expertise of people like John and Alec but we know enough to realise that what is happening with banks is equivalent to pardoning the Great Train Robbers, letting them keep their loot, and applying a levy on everyone else to make up for the cash stolen.
The bankers have walked away from the debacle they caused scot free, with almost a trillion pounds of public money in their pockets. There was not so much as a compulsory lending ratio on their books. And the bankers rejoice. The big four are soon to reveal that some 200 in each of them earned over a million pounds last year. They have also rewarded themselves with personal bonuses of £7 billion over Christmas. That alone represented two fingers to the public and three times the money to be raise by the VAT rise.
There is no VAT or other transaction tax on banks. Money that properly belonged to share-holders and, in many cases, taxpayers , simply walked off the premises. It is as if a state-subsidised car manufacturer decided to allow its employees to take home half a dozen cars each Christmas!
Many of the cuts being applied by this government are justified for the waste of the previous regime was horrifying. Need an example? The multi-billion pounds NHS IT system that never worked will do to be going on with. But Osborne has fallen at an important fence. He needed to win over the public, to prove that we are truly all in this together. Visit any of the central London bars where the financial people gather and you will hear the popping of champagne corks.
They simply cannot believe that they have got away with it. And neither can the rest of us!
BUT IS AN AUSSIE THRASHING A GOOD THING?
England ended the day in a strong position at the Sydney Test. It is hard to know who to praise most in what has to be the fittest and most talented England team for many a year. The only slightly sad thing is that Paul Collingwood is nearing the end of his illustrious Test career, but there are a number of execellent young replacements waiting in the wings.
Australia seem to lack any back-up and, with the exception of the one brilliant spell by Mitchell Johnson, have looked a poor outfit. And that isn’t what devotees of Test cricket wanted to see. Yes, we longed for a winning series but we now worry about the effect of huiliation on Australian support through the turnstyles over the next few years. I worked in Australia and was surpirised to learn that not everyone down under is a cricket fan. Many are but I often sensed that the attraction was the regualar display of Aussie invincibility.
If the team continues for several years to look born losers will the support hold up? One prays so for already attendances at Test cricket in most of the other cricketing nations is falling away sharply. In India the crowds now turn out mainly for one-day cricket, Pakistan has real problems, West Indies have lost most of their support and even South Africa is seeing a swing to one-day.
The lifeblood of Test cricket has always been the Ashes but it is hard to see other than one-sided games for some time to come.
But our side can only play what is fielded against them and they have been magnificent.
SOCCER QUOTE OF THE DAY; Alex Fergusson was asked if given a gun with one bullet would he use it on Arsene Wenger or Victoria Beckham. He replied ” Could I not have two bullets?”
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Airey Neave 2. 1971 (February)
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who won the Nobel prize for peace in 1979 for her work in Calcutta? 2. Which country won 17 of 29 track and field gold medals at the 1972 Olympics?