Thursday, March 18, 2010

It was sixty-years ago today...

Just a very short and rather personal post this evening.

Today would have been my parents' diamond wedding anniversary.

Sadly, my father died suddenly a matter of weeks after they celebrated their silver wedding and my mother ten years later virtually to the day; so there will be no big family get together this weekend to mark the occasion, more's the pity.

As you might appreciate, I couldn't let such an important anniversary pass without comment, or without raising a glass to them this evening.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy St Patrick's Day to one and all...

I'm in Liverpool all day tomorrow and won't get the chance to post on the day itself. So I hope my Hibernian readers will forgive me if my Irish (or rather Google translate's) is poor, but here goes:

Lá Tá áthas ar Fhéile Pádraig ar bith cuairteoirí ó Éirinn. Tá súil agam tú taitneamh as do lá.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ashok Kumar: Has history repeated itself?

Reading this account of the 'sudden, accidental' death of Labour MP Ashok Kumar, I am reminded of the untimely death in 1994 of another MP, Stephen Milligan, the unusual circumstances of which are still a talking point, even today.

I wonder, as respectfully as possible, if there will be similar revelations about Mr Kumar?

Of course, we will have to first await the result of the police investigation and then, possibly, that of the ensuing Inquest before we find out. But given the way the report is written, describing MrKumar as 'a single man', with 'no underlying health problems', adding that there are 'no suspicious cicumstances or third party involvement', I think it's a distinct possibility.

For now, though, the Throne sends its condolences to his friends and family.

Update 16.3.10

I'm pleased to be able to say that it would appear that my suspicions about the manner of Dr Kumar's death were unfounded. Just goes to show that putting two and two together can sometimes leave you staring at five.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

S4C: It's all Welsh to me...

I decided some time ago that I was not going to link to any article printed in the Daily Mail, because I had grown to dislike their brand of sensationalist, rabble rousing and ultimately irresponsible journalism.

So it is with that caveat that I link to this story from today's paper, albeit supported by this one in the much more reliable Daily Telegraph.

Why on earth is the taxpayer, 84% of whom are English, remember, subsidising a Welsh language television channel to the tune of £100,000,000 a year, which is all but ignored in Wales itself?

And on any reading of the viewing figures, it is largely ignored; because as much as 22% of its output (196 out of 890 programmes, or nearly a quarter of it) receives so few viewers that they are officially zero rated. More than that, though, only 16% of its programmes receive over ten thousand viewers (139 out of 890), meaning that the remaining 62% of its output is watched by between 1,001 and 9,999 people; or to put it another way, the population of one small village.

What justification can there be for continuing to subsidise this utter failure to the tune of £100m per year?

The channel should either be closed, or required to find its funding through advertising or subscription; the English taxpayer should not be forced to subsidise an unwanted failure for the benefit of a tiny minority of Welsh-speakers any longer, threatened hunger strikes, or no threatened hunger strikes.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The demise of the five pound note?

Has anyone out there been in possession of a five-pound note recently which didn't resemble the ragged specimen I picture at the top of this post?
The picture itself doesn't actually do this one justice; it is actually far tattier in the 'flesh' than it looks, to the extent that you could be forgiven for suspecting that it was a crude and artless forgery, printed on low grade tissue paper.
In fact, it reminded me very strongly of a school trip to Italy in the early seventies, when I remember being shocked by the tattiness of virtually every 500 Lire note (yes, it was a very long time ago!) I saw during excursions to places as varied as Milan, Naples, Capri, Rome, Pisa and Pompeii.
As I grew up, I began to think that the state of those Italian banknotes was symptomatic of a currency, an economy and possibly, even a country which had lost pride and faith in itself; it was a symbol of financial collapse.
Is the state of our smallest banknote a harbinger of similar things to come in England?
Or is it just that the banks won't put them in cash machines anymore, because it's not worth their while to dispense them, or more cynically, part of the softening up process required for the replacement of the five pound note with a new, shiny replacement £5 coin?
Or is it a combination of all three?
All I know is that whilst I wouldn't mind having a wheelbarrow full of ragged notes such as the one I depict, I can't remember the last time I had a crisp, relatively unscathed fiver in my pocket.
Anyone care to differ? And if so, where did you lay your hands on them?