Posts Tagged ‘Sunny Morning’
We old codgers are only too well aware of the need for political-correctness when commenting on Germany. We have learned to follow the advice of our guru Basil Fawlty and never mention the war, but this morning’s Daily Express seems to have no such inhibitions. When Albert arrived on the allotments this sunny morning, he delighted in showing us the front page that usually features Princess Di. “Germany declares war on our £” it screams. Perhaps they are working on the basis that they have only mentioned it once and may get away with it.
As I shall report shortly David Cameron escaped from his meeting with Angela Murkel with nothing worse that a clip around his ear, and is now safely back amongst us. But what he probably didn’t expect was that just after he had left, the German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble launched a near tirade on Britain for its relectance to be drawn into the new federal Europe being planned by his boss. He predicted that all Europe will one day use the Euro and that it will happen “faster than the British currently believe”. Dr Strangelove, as Dr Schauble is known in Germany, said that the UK ” will not be able to resist the tide of history”
His warning came amid a furious outpouring of anti-British sentiment in Berlin. Top selling paper ‘Bild’ asked ” What is Britain doing in the EU?”, another leading paper labelled Britain the “sick empire”. All carry reference to the Merkel plan for a new European Monetary Fund and a strategy to establish control over those countries requiring financial support, which means everyone except Germany itself. A sub-clause of the cunning plan is the centralising of power without significant treaty change, this enabling David Cameron to avoid a referendum.
The other thing that Angela didn’t mention to Dave was a second pronouncement from Brussels. The Commission plans measures to introduce an open-door policy to “facilitate and organise legal immigration” to EU nations from Eastern Europe, Asia and a string of North African countries. Tory MP Philip Hollobone was first on air to claim that “most British people will be absolutely horrified by this latest proposal from the EU..we are already full up and there is no more space for any migrants”. On that at least he is right, in a league table of world populations England is the sixth most crowded country.
And Mr Hollobone wasn’t the only politician to risk an entry in Dr Strangelove’s little black book. John Major, who sprang to fame for tucking his shirt inside his underpants, warned that the growing integration of the eurozone nations threatens democracy in those countries. It will lead to common control over budgets and fiscal deficits. The German’ support for a banking tax is a “heat-seeking missile aimed at the City of London” said the former occupant of number Ten. An unfortunate choice of analogy, but we follow his drift.
But even those of us who still listen to Churchill’s speeches have to confess that Germany is the only country in Europe, including us, that has manged its affairs well. Small wonder that its citizens are unhappy at the thought of using their hard-fought for reserves to bail out economic idiots. The result is that Angela Merkel is now widely acknowledged as the most powerful leader in the world bar Obama. The daughter of a Protestant church minister she was born in West Germany in 1954, but went east when her father’s job demanded it.
She was therefore schooled under the communist system of the old East Germany, and stood out at arithmetic, winning a medal at the “Maths Olympics” held to promote the brightest chilren in the Eastern bloc. After school she studied at Leipzig University, and went on to become a research scientist before moving into politics. There she has earned a reputation for toughness and few commentators doubt that the recent ejections from office of Papandreou (Greece) and Berlusconi (Italy) had a lot to do with her demands for financial prudence. Berlusconi in particular learned the hard way that vulgar insults about her weight and looks were inadvisable!
So back to Dave who, to give him credit, escaped almost unharmed from his meeting with the new European supremo. Fortunately he resisted the temptation, over lunch, to adapt his regular Basil Fawlty joke about “I say, Angela, these are marvellous hors d’oeuvres – hors d’oeuvres which must be obeyed at all times vizout kvestion”. He did however dare to stick to his idea of the European Central Bank bailing out the eurozone and he continually used the karate chop gesture that his spin-doctors have told him shows just how tough he really is. But it was to no avail.
Perhaps he was nervous. He knows what happens to elected leaders who call referendums that the Germans don’t want, so he made no mention of that before the pair posed for the farewell photo-call. They both switched on grins of the sort normally found on Hallowe’en pumpkins, then removing them the moment the cameras stopped turning.
But he escaped alive. Whether the rest of us will once the Iron Lady’s grip tightens is another matter altogether!
TEST YOUR SELF WITH THE WEEKEND QUIZ;
1. What is a pickled gherkin made from? 2. Which keeper was a winner in the first FA Cup Final decided on penalties? 3. What is the name of Britney Spear’s second son? 4. Pooh Bah appears in which Gilbert and Sullivan operetta? 5. Which Classic race is run over the longest distance? 6. Who was the brother of Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail? 7. What form did the head of the Sphinx take? 8. Which voice in singing is pitched between a tenor and a soprano? 9. Which birds collect in a covey? 10. Which now deposed leader led Iraq into the 1990s Gulf War?
Another sunny morning, clearly miracles do happen. But according to something called the Rapture Index, a sort of Doomsday Dow Jones, the world will end on May 21st, so we must make the best of it. The index editor, Terry James, of Little Rock, Arkansa, records world events and then factors them into a “cohesive indicator”. Many of his fans were on the streets yesterday carrying warnings of ‘Judgement day’. I’m less than convinced that my allotment colleagues are worried, although Elsie did say that she must remember to cancel her papers!
Of course had the predicted end arrived just a week earlier it would have spared Liam Fox the ultimate humiliation. The great and good of the Conservative Party, of right-wing persuasion, have rushed forward to tell us that we have just lost the greatest man since our Lord walked the earth. We humble chicken-keepers beg to differ.
On September 15th Dr Fox issued a statement; “Mr Werrity is not an employee of the MOD and has, therefore, not travelled with me on any official overseas visits”. That was a lie. On October 5th he stated ;” I have met Mr Werrity 14 times at the MOD mainbuilding over the past 16 months but not in an official capacity”. That was a lie. On the same day the MOD said; “Mr Werrity has never been part of Dr Fox’s travelling party when the Secretary of State is abroad on official business”. That was a lie. On October 6th Dr Fox said; “A number of baseless accusations have been made”. That was a lie. On October 9th Dr Fox said; ” I have absolutely no fear of complete transparency. There are underlying issues behind these claims and the motivation is deeply suspect”. That was a lie.
Just two days ago there was little sign of a sudden resignation. Yesterday it emerged from bank statements from Mr Werrity’s not-for-profit company Pargav Ltd that Mr Werrity’s trips around the world with Dr Fox were partly funded by a risk management company with close links to C5 Capital, an investment fund that backs security and defence firms and employs a former head of Special Forces. The accounts also showed that John Moulkton, a venture capitalist and donor to Dr Fox before the election, was one of Pargav’s backers. It then emerged that Dr Fox solicited the payments.
This was revealed by Mr Moulton. At the same time the media were establishing whether C5 invested in firms that stood to gain from government contracts. At that moment the Doctor realised that the game was up. In political circles it is said that spin is better than honesty. But only if the story concocted is not too economical with the truth.
But integrity apart the big question, as this blog claimed some days ago, was how could someone with such appalling judgement be in charge of servicemen and women whose lives depend on the right decisions, the rapid decisions? Sound judgement is obviously the key and, without putting the boot in unnecessarily, it has to be said that someone daft enough to take his friend around the world to meetings requiring security clearance and to solicit money to fund him from sources with clear conflicts of interest, is hardly the person you want in charge when the red telephone rings.
Hopefully Phil Hammond will prove to be a safe pair of hands. But the whole saga has done nothing to restore our lost confidence in politicians following the expenses and Murdoch scandals.
David Cameron clearly doesn’t understand that. In his comment on Dr Fox’s departure he made a strong point of Labour’s incompetent management of the MOD. I imagine he may be right but we are not discussing stock control here prime minister, we are discussing honesty and judgement!
TRY YOUR HAND AT THE WEEKEND QUIZ; 1. In which university city is the Bodleian Library? 2. In which book does Archbishop Aringarosa visit Castle Gandolfo? 3. “Uncle Tom’s cabin” was a novel which argued against what? 4. In the US what type of book is Webster famous for? 5. Who is the most famous manservant created by PG Woodehouse? 6. What was Muhammad Ali’s autobiography called? 7. Which Dorothy L Sayers’ creation was Harriet Vane’s husband? 8 Which children’s classic was written to encourage adult’s to be kinder to horses? 9. Which book by ex-intelligence agent Peter Wright did the Britsh government try to have banned? 10. What was the subject of Benjamin Spock’s most famous books?
ANSWERS WILL BE INCLUDED WITH TOMORROW’S BLOG!
Another golden, sunny morning. Someone up there must know that the roof of our new allotment building is still incomplete and the race is on to complete the job before the monsoons reach us. Even the hens seems unsettled by the chaos, egg production has plummeted faster than George Osborne’s economic recovery graph.
As often reported, we have a significant number of crciket buffs in our midst. And the mood at the end of the Test series against India is subdued. Yes, we are deighted that at last England is rated at the top of the world’s Test league, but we are worried that the whole future of Test cricket is in serious jeopardy. Frankly, the Indian matches were a farce. Yes, it was good to watch Ian Bell’s fluent batting performance, but it was hard to escape the conclusion that the Indian bowling attack would provide little challenge to any good club line-up. Worse still, with the honourable exception of Rahul Dravid, the vistors looked weary and totally disinterested. Like Sri Lanka before them, they posed no serious threat to a much improved England team and Test cricket is meant to be a, er, test.
With the exception of England and Australia, most of the Test-playing countries have become obsessed with the shorter form of the game, especially the Twenty20 version. India is a nation besotted by cricket but its massive following has fallen in love with the one-day game to the extent that Test matches are now a mere add-on. The players likewise, there are serious fortunes to be made in the Indian IPL quick-fire tournament and it has become for many spectators and players alike, the number one attraction.
Test matches in the West Indies now attract miniscule attendances, Pakistan can only play away from home, New Zealand attendances have plummeted and in Australia the unusual spectacle of a team incapable of beating a Co-Op egg has disenchanted thousands so used to watching conquering heroes. Even in South Africa there are clear signs of a drift away from five-day cricket.
Here in England there is still a passion for Test cricket but, given that every other side has declined so much, one cannot help wondering for how long people will pay good money to watch the sort of one-sided rubbish witnessed over the past few months.
One would like to believe that the international cricket authorities are giving all this a good deal of thought. But one doesn’t, because even there the powerful influence of the new age of quick bashes is taking on a stranglehold. We have already reached the point where Test series are being fitted in around one-dayers and twenty over games. We have already reached the point where players are jaded as a result of two much cricket. We have already reached the point where in an age of shortened attention spans the fans are voting with their feet.
Like most cricket fans I enjoy the Twenty20 matches and will certainly be glued to my seat come Saturday when the UK tournament reaches its climax at Edgbaston. But I constnatly remind myself that the stars would not be stars given no Test matches or County Championship games. If those go we will be into an age of sloggers and defensive bowlers and will have lost for ever the sheer beauty of beautiful strokes and brilliantly aggressive fast and spin bowling.
At its best Test cricket is an enthralling experience but already we are reduced to fleeting glances. Watching Anderson and Swann battling it out with Tendulkar on the final day of the fourth Test was pure theatre, with every ball and every nuance looming large. Sadly that was the exception rather than the rule in what was billed as the clash of the giants.
Interest in Test cricket can only be revived by top class teams and given that playing for ones country has now become a second priority for many international players that means less one-day cricket and more time spent on honing skills. Frankly I doubt if the will for that exists in an age when the quick buck is God.
But the demise of the longer form of the game is in no ones interest. Have we really forgotten so quickly those memorable Ashes, those heated battles with teams from the sub-continent? I fear so for asked to name the Test stars of today most fans would struggle for more than a dozen names having listed the entire England team.
Unless the International Cricket Council recognises that without the firm foundation of Test cricket the odds are that the game itself would wither and die, the future for the greatest sport of all looks very grim indeed!
TODAY’S GENERAL KNOWLEDGE QUIZ..TEST YOURSELF! 1. Where is fibrin found in your body? 2. What is the vegetable common to the Indian dishes of Aloo Gobi and Aloo Palak? 3. Which group had hits including “Homely Girl” and “Kingston Town”? 4. The word “ketchup” comes from which language? 5. Who presented “The secret life of the Manic Depressive”? 6. Who first took the much-covered song “Light my Fire” to No. 1? 7. With 7 goals, Lua-Lua was top scorer for which Premiership side? 8. Woburn Abbey is the home of which family? 9. What is a durian? 10. Which film starred John Cleese as an under-pressure headmaster?
A hot and sunny morning on the allotments! We wandered about in a daze for this was a very rare experience, the sort of day when Blackpool beach sounds like a treat rather than the equivalent of Scott’s last journey. It was also the sort of day to trigger thoughts of cricket. Right now those are not positive thoughts, and I am not referring solely to yesterday’s bizaare Twenty20 between England and Sri Lanka. Pieterson and Morgan apart, this England side couldn’t have beaten a Co-op egg! Why players such as Bell are excluded is one of the great mysteries of the age!
But far more worrying is the gradual takeover of the administration of world cricket by India. The International Cricket Council (ICC) is cricket’s equivalent of football’s Fifa. In every sense! The ICC is already heavily influenced by the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI), its present chairman is the former head of the BCCI, Sharad Pawar. Under the present rules there is a fixed term for ICC presidents and no one country can hold the office for two consecutive periods. At today’s ICC annual meeting in Hong Kong, India is proposing that once appointed a president can rule for life! Now that is even worse than Blatter at Fifa, he at least stages the occasional election, albeit a corrupt one of course.
Ridiculous, it simply can’t happen. Oh yes it can! As in the case of football many of the countries that vote scarcely play cricket. How can Argentina, Afghanistan etc be allowed to decide Test match schedules? But hovering in the background is Narayanswamy Srinivasan, the power in Indian cricket, the owner of Chennai Super Kings and the chief executive of India’s board. What he wants he gets. Remember the plan to reduce the next world cup to the top ten teams to eliminate all the one-sided and meaningless games that marred the last one? During a recent tea-break at a meeting in Singapore, the man of power talked to the various chief excutives who had just ratified the decision. When the meeting resumed the majority reversed the decision and the next world cup will be just as tedious as the last.
How is this overwhelming influence obtained? Geoffrey Boycott has no doubts. “Many countries that play cricket are frightened to death of India’s financial power. You’ve got TV stations queuing up in India to beam the coverage of their tours in to India and they pay a lot of money for that” says the outspoken Yorkshireman. He is clearly right, India has a vast audience for cricket and filming rights produce a bonanza for authorities often reduced to counting the piggy-bank.
So the odds are that this week will see a new order at the ICC with an Indian president taking the top job on a permanent basis. Two outcomes are obvious. The new umpires’ Decision Review System will be scrapped. It has proved popular with the fans but India has already refused to use it on the forthcoming tour of England. Of greater importance, there will be an eight week period each year when no international cricket will be allowed. This will give free rein to the Indian Premier League. That will be a financial body-blow to England. But even more important than that is the threat to good governance.
We all know from the scandal surrounding last year’s Test series with Pakistan that a cancer of corruption is spreading within the game. This emanates from Indian bookmakers who make fortunes, often in distinctly unethical ways. Millions of pounds change hands daily on such obscure things as the number of ‘no-balls’. The only body that can even attempt to keep this under control is the ICC. Need I say more?
The complex game of cricket is open to corruption like no other. It is already losing its reputation for fair play and a strong incorruptable ICC is the only hope. The idea that any single country should hold sway on a permanent basis is appalling, the idea of that being India, the home of cricket manipulation, even more so.
If this goes through Fifa will look a paragon of virtue by comparison. The English, Australian, New Zealand and South African delegations should walk out if necessary. That may only account for four votes but world cricket without the four would be less of a money spinner to say the least. India may hold all the power but matches played against Afghanistan and Argentina would soon show where the pulling power really rests!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEADS QUIZ; 1. Germany 2. Italy 3. Alan Titchmarsh 4. Gennell 5. Ernie Wise 6. China 7. Westlife 8. Potter 9. Holly 10. Colin Farrell.
HIGHEST SCORE SENT IN SO FAR; 8 BY J ROACH. HOW DID YOU DO?
A blustery but sunny morning as we wandered, in cynical mood, down the lane to the allotments. Cynical? Most of us are permanently cynical, this morning especially so, having just read that Clegg and Cameron had already agreed the changes to the NHS bill before the Sheffield Kid announced on yesterday’s BBC his intention to demand them. As we reached the gate, Albert remarked that expert though the pair are in the art of deception, they will need to produce something very special to explain the situation in Libya.
Almost forgotten it? Understandable, given all the things that have swept it from the headlines since we began our bombing mission there some six weeks ago. But we and the French are still bombing away. Bombing is perhaps the wrong term for we are mainly using missiles which cost a cool £850,000 per one-way trip. According to Reuters we have so far managed to kill or maim almost as many civilians as we have saved from Gaddafi’s wrath.
Shortly before the no-fly zone was imposed Barack Obama assured a bipartisan group in Congress that the action would take “days not weeks”. A week later he told the American nation the aim was limited to purely humanitarian ends. He refuted absolutely any suggestion of regime change. Two weeks later, in a joint letter signed by David Cameron and Sarkozy, he brazenly conceded that it was, after all, about regime change when he said “it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Gaddafi in charge”.
Perhaps that fits with the bin Laden execution. Assassination is now, apparently, the foreign policy du jour. Yesterday, the British defence secretary, Liam Fox, insisted that “Nato does not target individuals”. True, it goes for families. Just over a week ago they killed Gaddaffi’s son and three of his grandchildren. Much waving of American flags over bin Laden but on Libya the French and Brits will soon be left to bomb alone, for Libya is not a popular cause in the States and, having obtained his political pay-off from bin Laden, President Obama is poised to withdraw almost completely.
So here we are with a conflict supposed to last days, and was not about regime change, that has gone on for six weeks, cost a fortune in terms of lives and weaponry, and won’t end until the regime changes. Even as we prepare to negotiate a truce with the Taliban, Gaddafi’s offer of a ceasefire has been rejected out of hand. In the name of humanitarianism, the war must be prolonged. If need be for ever since there is stalemate on the ground.
Of course the bombing does have support to a degree from the United Nations, although many countries are now protesting that the French and British action is beyond that authorised. Many ask why not intervene also in Syria and Yemen, where many protestors are dying daily. There is no logical answer, only the one that the gung-ho French and Brits have already bitten off more than they can chew.
The only way in which they can exit without humiliation is to go in on the ground and some British ‘advisers’ are already there with the increasingly suspect ‘rebel’ forces. But it would need American troops to make up a strong enough force and that is unlikely. A prominent US senator in New Hampshire said ‘if the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of US troops is to prevent genocide, then we should have 300,000 in the Congo right now, where millions have been slaughtered. We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan. We would be staying on in Iraq”. The senator’s name was Barack Obama.
We can pontificate for ever on the Libyan ‘mission’. Unless we arrange an assassination or send in troops there will be no progress, only bloodshed. Surely we can only settle for simply imposing the no-fly zone however ineffective that may be. Right now we are edging into something that we cannot control and which cannot succeed.
The prime minister must tap in to his self-understanding. Hoodwinking Clegg is one thing, doing it to a watchful world an altogether tougher task!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; WRITING “ Your life story would not make a good book. Don’t even try!”…..Fran Lebowitz “Is there any living writer whose silence we would ocnsider to be a literary disaster?”……Cyril Connolly “Advice to writers; sometimes you have to stop writing. Even before you start”……..Stanislaw J Lec “Writing is the hardest way to earn a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators”….William Saroyan “Writing is one tenth perspiration and nine-tenths masturbation”….Alan Bennett “You, a writer? Listen, dear, you couldn’t write ‘fuck’ on a dusty Venetian blind”…….Coral Browne “There was a time when I thought my only connection with the literary world would be that I once delivered meat to T S Eliot’s mother-in-law”……Alan Bennett “Writing is not a profession, but a vocation of unhappiness”….Georges Simenon “Writing is like the oldest profession. First you do it for your own enjoyment. Then you do it for a few friends. Eventually you think, what the hell, I might as well get paid for doing it”…….Irma Kalish
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Francis Ford Coppola 2. Anthony Eden
TODAY’S QUESTIONS ; CAN YOU BEAT THE EGGHEADS?; 1. What kind of sculpture was originated by Alexander Calder, who died in 1976? 2. Who wrote ‘Whatever happened to Sex?’ ? 3. Asuncion is the capital of which country? 4. Which ‘Pop Idol’ star was born Jan 20 1979, in Berkshire? 5. Who had hits with ‘Take Your Time’ and ‘Got to Have Your Love’ ? 6. What is a paravane used for? 7. Dr James Naismith devised which game? 8. In which decade was Jeremy Paxman born? 9. Which worldwide magazine was conceived by DeWitt Wallace? 10.. To within two years, when were postcodes introduced to the UK?