Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year...

In much the same vein as last week's Christmas message, may I take this opportunity to wish all visitors to the Throne a very happy and prosperous New Year for 2008.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Arise, Sir Leslie...

One of my all-time favourite actors, Leslie Phillips, now a venerable eighty-three years old, is to made a CBE in the New Year’s honours list.

Indulge me whilst I recount yet again the line from Carry On Nurse with which he is most often associated…

Attractive Nurse (addressing Phillips): “Doctor Bell?”

Phillips (looking at her lasciviously): “Ding dong!”

A comedy classic.

I have only one quibble: it should have been a knighthood; they have been given out for far less to people far less deserving.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to one and all...

As I won't get the chance to do so again before tomorrow, may I take this opportunity to wish my reader and anyone else who has inadvertently stumbled across the Throne, a very merry Christmas.

I hope it brings all you wish for.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Well done, Alesha...

Well, I backed the wrong horse again...

I wanted Matt Di Angelo and his partner, (the delicious Flavia Cacace) to win the final of Strictly Come Dancing tonight, but it wasn't to be.

The show may be as camp as a row of pink tents, but I'm not afraid to say that I enjoyed every last minute of it.

Well done to the winner, Alesha Dixon - she was excellent throughout the series, bouncy, effervescent and very entertaining - she is a worthy champion.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Who would have thought that...

According to an article in today’s Daily Telegraph, men like to marry younger women.

Apparently, after a study conducted by Dr Samuli Helle of the University of Turku in Finland, the ideal age gap would see men marrying women about fifteen years younger than themselves.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think I can put the result of this research into rather fewer words.

No shit, Sherlock!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Today is Lancashire Day...

Assuming that my reader does not enjoy the privilege of being a Lancastrian, today, 27th November, is Lancashire Day. It was designated such in recognition of the fact that it was on this day in 1295 that the first elected representatives from Lancashire were called to Westminster by King Edward I (of happy memory) to attend what later became known as "The Model Parliament".

To celebrate the day, the following proclamation was read at Midday today by Town Criers throughout the county - the full County Palatine, that is, not the administrative rump left after the constitutional vandalism of 1974.


Know ye that this day, November 27th in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and seven, the 56th year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Duke of Lancaster, is Lancashire Day.
Know ye also, and rejoice, that by virtue of Her Majesty's County Palatine of Lancaster, the citizens of the Hundreds of Lonsdale, North and South of the Sands, Amounderness, Leyland, Blackburn, Salford and West Derby are forever entitled to style themselves Lancastrians.
Throughout the County Palatine, from the Furness Fells to the River Mersey, from the Irish Sea to the Pennines, this day shall ever mark the peoples' pleasure in that excellent distinction - true Lancastrians, proud of the Red Rose and loyal to our Sovereign Duke.


Hear, hear, I say, and my best wishes to Lancastrians everywhere.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Save your local: drink more beer...

Hot on the heels of the rash of scare stories put about by the health fascists and their fellow-travellers in the Government who are never slow to recognise a tax-raising opportunity, comes some interesting information carried in today’s Daily Mail and latterly, on the evening news.

According to the British Beer and Pub Association, (hardly independent, I know, but bear with me) the consumption of beer in pubs is at its lowest level since the 1930s, and is down by virtually 50% since 1979.

Even factoring in the sales of that cheap, canned dross they punt out in supermarkets and off-licences and the like, the sale of beer is still down by 22% over the same period.

I don’t know about you, but I have always thought that drinking is best enjoyed in the company of others in a pub, not sitting at home, hunched over a collection of empty cans or bottles. I know many people will disagree with me, but - as you will have gathered - I regard the latter as potentially far more ‘damaging’ than the former, as the drinking could, conceivably, take the place of the social aspect and become an end in itself.

As such, we should be very worried about the demise of pub-based beer drinking; all the more so in light of the numbers of pubs which are closing their doors forever, or being sold off for alternative uses in both urban and -possibly more worrying, given the lack of alternatives - rural settings.

Do we really want to end up living in a country where a night out at the local becomes a distant memory, losing yet another aspect of our culture in the process?

As far as I can see it, the answer is to freeze the duty on beer sold in pubs - not on alcopops, not on wine, not on spirits and not on ‘beer’ sold in supermarkets (twenty-odd pence a can for Tesco’s ‘value’ bitter, for God’s sake!), in order to encourage people to have their evening ‘slackener’ in the pub with friends.

And to answer your question, I am a lager, or sometimes, a cider man and I make absolutely no apologies for it.

Happy anniversary, Ma'am...

Her Majesty the Queen and HRH Prince Philip celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary today.

Many congratulations to them both on their Diamond Day.

May there be many more.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bad luck Scotland...

So the Scots fell agonisingly short yesterday evening of qualifying for next year's European football Championships.

They have my sympathy, because, across the length of the campaign -and again last night - they played well enough to have qualified.

I also have a good deal of sympathy with those Scotland supporters who point to the frankly ludicrous linesman's decision which saw the award of the injury-time free kick, from which the Italians scored their second goal, as the defining moment of the match. Quite what the Spanish official in question was thinking when he flagged for a foul by the Scottish full back is beyond me, other than to say he got it completely and indefensibly wrong.

However, that wasn't the only error by the officials on the night and it has to be said that two of the others directly benefitted Scotland; firstly when a second Italian 'goal' was disallowed for offside when the scorer was in fact onside and secondly when Barry Ferguson equalised for the Scots from an offside position.

All things considered, though, it was a good effort from the Scots, but sadly - and I mean that - not quite good enough and they won't now be joining England (fingers crossed!) in Austria and Switzerland next summer, courtesy, it has to be said, of the Israelis.

Come on England; surely a draw with Croatia at Wembley is within our capabilities... isn't it?

Sunday, November 11, 2007


A very personal post to begin with today, which I dedicate to the memory of a man I didn't even know existed until two years ago; my great uncle, Lance Corporal Frederick Pickup, who, together with 20,000 comrades, died (aged 24) on 1st July 1916: the first day of the Battle of the Somme .

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter learny od friends; and gentleness
In hearts at peace under an English heaven.

Rupert Brooke

Fred Pickup: like tens of thousands of others, gone, but not forgotten.

Wear your poppy with pride!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

DNA database and the police...

Just a quick one. The Daily Mail will insist on referring to the DNA database as somehow belonging to or being under the control of the police. For instance, their banner headline in Monday’s paper read “Police hold DNA of 4.5m Britons.”

Well actually, they don’t; the police don’t hold any DNA records at all and nor do they have access to the database. It is held and maintained by the Forensic Science Service and it is they who ‘hold’ those 4.5m records, under legislation broadened by this government.

The only role the police play is the gathering of the samples - in line with the law as it stands - which are then loaded onto the database, and exploiting the results of any ‘hits’ from crime scenes.

No more and no less. Don’t blame the cops; it’s not their fault.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Physician heal thyself...

I read recently that the local community in the Norris Green area of Liverpool has expressed ‘concern’ that the killer of Rhys Jones has not yet been charged with the murder.

On the one hand, I can understand them; wouldn't every sensible person want the criminal caught?

But the police haven’t got a crystal ball and they are somewhat restricted by having to obtain evidence of someone’s guilt before he or she can be charged. And where do you suppose that evidence could, or should come from? CCTV? maybe, if they’re lucky.

But isn’t the real untapped source of evidence the people from that very community who either saw what happened, heard the offender bragging, washed his clothes, or helped the offender dispose of the weapon?

The police cannot operate in a vacuum; they require the assistance of honest, public spirited citizens who have witnessed crimes to come forward and help.

So instead of pointing the finger of blame at their police, perhaps the community in question should start examining their own consciences and provide the evidence which detectives are waiting for.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lucky Sven...

Once again, the Throne has been a post-free zone for the last ten days due to the pressure of work.

I have, however noticed that Sven Goran Eriksson has been made the first Barclays 'Manager of the Month' of the new season.

Presumably for spending tens of millions of pounds donated by their highly dubious Thai benefactor and thereby achieving the dizzying success of three wins and two defeats out of five games.

I wonder what the managers of the four clubs which have had better starts than City think of that...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mandela: Sorry, not in Parliament Square...

I see from today’s Times that a statue of Nelson Mandela is to be erected in Parliament Square in London alongside those of Churchill, Disraeli and Sir Robert Peel.

Oh dear.

Whilst I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that he is a statesman of seminal importance in the history of Africa and especially South Africa itself, I cannot see why his political achievements deserve the erection of this statue in London.

Allow me to explain. Churchill was our talismanic leader throughout the dark days of the Second World War; Disraeli was our Prime Minister during the height of our Imperial power and Sir Robert Peel was, amongst other things and as every schoolboy used to know, the founding father of the modern police force.

For those who do not see my point, it is this. Those three men played unarguably significant roles in the history of this country; not that of another one several thousand miles away.

In my view Parliament Square should only contain statues of politicians who have performed great services to and on behalf of this country, not those of their counterparts from overseas, no matter how great their achievements in their own lands.

Don’t get me wrong; Mr Mandela’s undoubted position in the pantheon of African heroes is deserving of the highest recognition... Just not in the form of a statue in Parliament Square.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Diana: It's time to move on...

As my regular reader will already be aware, the Throne is a staunchly monarchist blog and whilst there is breath in my body, so it will remain.

However, that said, I am utterly sick and tired of reading, or being lectured to, about the late Diana, Princess of Wales. For goodness sake, the woman died ten years ago in a wholly preventable car accident, and we, as an increasingly emotionally incontinent nation, should just get over it.

For the record, she was not a saint in human form, but a thirty-six year old publicity hungry woman whose admittedly high profile marriage had collapsed some years before her death, much the same as countless others.

It is surely high time that all the hoop-la over her demise was brought to an end, if only for the sake of the two people still alive for whom her memory is really important; her two sons.

To all the other grief-mongers who take such mawkish delight in ‘preserving’ her memory, I say that it is time to move on. Forget the ludicrous water feature in Hyde Park, which actually looks like an over-sized horse trough. Forget the ridiculous conspiracy theorists, such as Mohammed Fayed and the mind-numbingly dull Daily Express and allow the woman to rest in peace in that small part of Northamptonshire denied to her by her brother - he of the aggressive, self-serving eulogy and money making Diana theme park - in her final few years of life.

Please don’t get me wrong here, of course I am sorry she died. Sorry that a life was snuffed out at least forty years too soon. Sorry that two young boys lost their mother in such awful circumstances. Sorry for the way mass hysteria virtually paralysed the country for weeks after her death.

But I absolutely refuse to bow to the lachrymose, wailing mob of Diana worshippers, who still cling to her ‘memory’. Let’s face it, relatively few of them ever met or really got to know her and to suggest otherwise is simply dishonest. As a consequence, I find their continued ‘mourning’ both manufactured and not a little self-indulgent.

Leave the remembrance to her sons; it was their loss, not yours.

And for God’s sake, move on!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I'm with Sheffield United on this...

I see that Sheffield United are intending to sue their namesakes from West Ham for some fifty million pounds; a sum the former claim to be the financial loss they will suffer as a consequence of their relegation from the English Premier League at the end of last season.

Let me nail my colours to the mast: I'm with Sheffield United here.

I know the present board weren't there when the unquestionably deceitful Tevez deal was done and, more importantly, none of their fans knew anything about it. But the fact remains that those in charge at West Ham United at the time this deal was done deliberately and flagrantly broke the rules imposed by the League and then lied about it when they were exposed.

As far as I'm concerned, the club should have been relegated from the Premier League as a punishment, not simply fined, or even suffer a points deduction; straight relegation, however hard that is on their fans. A similar punishment, you may think to the one suffered by Bury FC, who were thrown out of last season's FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player

Sheffield united were cheated out of their rightful position in the toptier of English football. Those currently occupying their place should be made to pay the full price and if that's £50m, so be it.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's been a while...

Regular visitors - if I have any left - will have noticed that the Throne has been silent for over three weeks. As usual, the main culprit has been a rather punishing work schedule, which until very recently saw me working regular ten or even twelve hour days every day for over a fortnight.

As a result, irrespective of the large number of stories upon which I would normally have commented, blogging became something of a lower priority than usual.

I am glad to say that the period of frantic activity on the work front (please don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job and I know that makes me a very lucky man) has finally come to an end and so, hopefully, normal service will be resumed.

Until the next time…

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I have to say this, I'm afraid...

I have held off writing this post for nearly three weeks in the hope that I would not have to write it at all, but write it I now feel I must.

Before warming to my theme, I acknowledge that what follows will not make comfortable reading - Lord knows it doesn't make for easy writing - and will probably provoke emotions ranging from disgust, to disbelief to sheer anger in those who read it.

My topic is the 'disappearance' of Madeleine McCann, the now four-year-old daughter of a cardiologist and his GP wife, who was - presumaby - abducted from her bed in the family's holiday apartment in Portugal, whilst her parents ate a meal with friends at a nearby restaurant.

Any parent, indeed any human being, possessed of even a scrap of decency will sympathise with the agony the McCanns are now undergoing, whilst their daughter's fate is unknown. It must be truly awful for them, to say nothing of what is, or what has, happened to Madeleine herself.

But having said that, am I alone in thinking that if her parents hadn't left her alone - with their two year old twin siblings - in that room, then this entire, tragic episode would never have happened?

I have seen the distance between the apartment and the restaurant the McCanns were eating at described variously as being fifty, a hundred, or a couple of hundred yards. However far it was, it was clearly far enough to prevent either of them, or the people they were with, from seeing or hearing an intruder break into the premises and abduct their daughter, irrespective of their half-hourly checks.

In other words, they were too far away and in the middle of their agonising sleepless nights, I suspect they know it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Poor Harry...

I've just seen on the news that the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt has announced that Prince Harry will not, after all, be deployed to Iraq.

Oh dear.

I'm sure there are sound operational reasons for his decision, not the least of which is the understandable concern over the increased risk to those he would have served with and the possibility of his being kidnapped.

I'm equally sure that the decision was not made because of who his grandmother, father and brother are.

At least I hope it wasn't; what a gift that would be to the republican cause.

Harry joined the army to be a soldier, not to be a desk-jockey; he joined to lead his troops wherever they were sent, including, if necessary, the possibility of his being put in harm's way.

General Dannatt's decision, which takes that risk away, may well prove to be the correct one for all concerned, time will tell.

Sadly, though, on a personal level, I suspect Harry will feel humiliated and even foolish every time he puts his uniform on; as if he is in some way unworthy of wearing it. I also think that he will find it very difficult to look his combat-hardened colleagues in the eye when they return to England.

I for one won't blame him if he resorts to falling out of nightclubs three sheets to the wind again.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cry God for Harry, England and St George!

A very happy St George’s Day to one and all.

I reproduce below the section of Gaunt’s speech in Act II Scene I of Shakespeare’s Richard II, from which I drew the inspiration for this blog.

It is, quite simply, absolutely priceless…

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.


I’m now off out to raise a glass (or several) to our patron saint.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Jacquie Oatley: why not?

Much debate and comment in the dead tree press and the sports media generally this week about the fact that Jacqui Oatley is to become the first female to commentate on a premiership football match this afternoon, when she describes the action from Craven Cottage, where Fulham entertain Blackburn Rovers.

As I have written here before, in those fields of human endeavour where matters of physical strength do not disadvantage women vis-à-vis their male counterparts, I cannot see why - if she has the requisite ability, which her bosses at the BBC clearly think she has - she should not take hold of the mike.

I wonder whether any of those who are criticising this decision similarly opposed the introduction of female newsreaders, or weather forecasters, because I can see no difference in their opposition to Jacqui Oatley other than their lumpen Chauvinism.

As an aside, has anyone else noticed the physical similarity between Jacqui and the actress Zoe Lucker, otherwise known as the scheming uber-totty Tanya Turner from the much lamented series ‘Footballers’ Wives’?

Yes, I know I’ve just undone my feminist credentials by making that observation, but you’ve got to say it as you see it, haven’t you!

Many happy returns...

As you would expect from the title of this blog, the Throne is staunchly monarchist.

As such, may I wish Her Majesty the Queen a very happy eighty-first birthday for today.

Thy choicest gifts in store, on Her be pleased to pour, long may She reign! May she defend our laws and ever give us cause, to sing with heart and voice: God save our Queen.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Bob Woolmer R.I.P.

If it wasn’t sad enough that Bob Woolmer, the former Kent and England cricketer and coach of the Pakistani national team, died at the tragically young age of fifty-eight, the sense of loss, most keenly felt of course by his wife and sons, can only have been compounded by the recent, almost unbelievable, revelation that he had been murdered.

It goes without saying that I wish the Jamaican Police every success in their investigation into the circumstances of this appalling crime.

I just hope that they identify those responsible as soon as possible.

When they do, I hope the savages in question are invited to join the Jamaican section of Lord Phillips’ geriatric lifers club. It would be no more than they deserve.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Another year older...

Once again, a number of days have passed since my last submission. I would normally - somewhat unconvincingly - claim pressure of work as the culprit for my lack of productivity, but I can offer no such excuse on this occasion.

No, the past week (and particularly the weekend!) has seen me celebrating my birthday in, shall we say, traditional style and as a direct consequence I was unable to see straight, let alone type…

So, no excuses this time, just a good reason!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Better late than never...

Despite finishing my last post with the promise that I would return before the New Year dawned, I signally failed to do so. On this occasion, I have no excuse, other than seasonally induced idleness.

In any event, may I wish everyone a very Happy New Year, even if it is already a few days old.