Sunday, November 30, 2008

Beyond parody...

It is widely recognised that there is no end to the inventiveness of defence lawyers as regards the arguments they are prepared to use to secure their client's acquittal, but this one from County Kerry must surely take the biscuit. Put briefly, two men were acquitted of drink driving offences, because it was shown that they may have inhaled alcohol fumes from their own urine at the police station, thereby affecting their blood-alcohol readings, whilst waiting to provide samples for analysis.

How long will it be before someone tries that one in an English court?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Kevin Myers on setting the Irish national agenda...

Another excellent piece from the Irish Independent's Kevin Myers, in which he asks why the vast majority of Irish people have allowed - and in some circumstances continue to allow - the tiny number of Republican extremists in their midst to set the Irish national agenda.

Please read it all, it is well worth doing so.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Today is Lancashire Day...

Today is Lancashire Day, marking the fact that precisely 713 years ago, the county sent its first representatives to parliament. To mark the occasion, the following proclamation was read out by town criers the length an breadth of the County Palatine:

To the people of the city and county of the Palatine of Lancaster. Greetings!

Know ye that this day, November 27th in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and eight, the 57th 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.

God bless Lancashire and God save the Queen, Duke of Lancaster.

And as a proud and loyal Lancastrian, Amen to that, I say.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lance Corporal Frederick Pickup, 1891 - 1916

My mother's family hailed from Rishton, a small town of about seven-thousand souls, some four miles north-east of Blackburn. At the time of the 1901 census, my great-grandparents were living in the town with their son, Fred and their daughters, Clara and Kate - my grandmother.

Clara - my great aunt, and the only one of the three still alive when I was born - went on to marry a man named Frederick Pickup; and they set up home together in Harwood Road Rishton, no doubt entertaining hopes of a long and happy life together.

However, with the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Fred enlisted in the East Lancs Regiment and was despatched to France along with hundreds of other men from Rishton and the surrounding towns, to fight for his King and his country.

As I posted here this time last year, L/Cpl Pickup was killed, aged just 25, on 1st July 1916 - the first day of the Battle of the Somme - leaving Auntie Clara, as we always called her, a widow at 23 years of age.

It is due to men like Fred and countless thousands of others (including another 196 from Rishton alone) who gave their lives, not only during the Great War but in other wars and conflicts, that we can still (just about) call ourselves a free country.

And it is in memory of my great uncle Fred and his countless comrades who died in our name, that I will be wearing my poppy and maintaining a two minute silence tomorrow at 11.00am with a mixture of humility and pride.

I hope you see fit to do the same.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

He's done it!

Phew! Now that was close.

But Lewis Hamilton - an Englishman, of course - is the World Champion.

Congratulations, Lewis, your country is proud of you.