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.