Sunday, June 27, 2010

Come home England...

I didn't get to see very much of today's game against the Germans due to pressure of work, but ironically, the five minutes I did manage to catch encompassed our given-goal and the-one-that-never-was from the boot of the unlucky Frank Lampard.

But, irrespective of that clear injustice, what is an average German side simply swept us aside, scoring four goals in the process. I understand that it could easily have been many more.

I suppose in the final analysis the problem can be summed up in five words: we're just not good enough.

End of.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Daily Fail...

Compare and contrast these two articles, both of which purport to report the details of the case brought by the Candy brothers against Qatari Diar Real Estate over the collapse of the proposed development at site of the former Chelsea Barracks.

This one, from the increasingly shrill and irritating Daily Mail, would have us believe that the trial judge, Mr Justice Vos, personally 'admonished' the Prince of Wales for his 'unexpected and unwelcome' interference in the deal.


Let's have a look at this one from the far more reliable Daily Telegraph. As you will have seen, this article actually quotes the words used by Mr Justice Vos, which were " [the partners in the development] were faced with a very difficult position once the Prince of Wales intervened in the planning process".

"His intervention was, no doubt, unexpected and unwelcome."

You will appreciate the difference without the need for my emphasis. The judge wasn't personally calling the Prince's intervention "unexpected and unwelcome", he was paraphrasing what he saw as the attitude of those who had seen their hopes of a deal with the Qataris dashed.

More deliberate misrepresentation of the truth, in my view from the idle sensationalists at the Mail.

Why does anyone buy it any more?


Half an hour after publishing this post, I read this, similarly inaccurate, drivel on the BBC news page. More lazy and dishonest journalism in search of a cheap headline. I'm just sorry I wasted a couple of minutes of my life reading it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Come on England (3)

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see any of England's final game against Slovenia due to pressure of work (we have a very important presentation to manage next week and a large new project to deal with at the same time).

Perhaps, for the good of the nation, I should arrange to go in to work on Sunday and avoid even glancing at a television set between three and five o'clock that aftenoon, in the hope that my absence may inspire the team to overcome the Germans.

Worth considering, I suppose!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Here we go again. Come on England!

Well there's about ten minutes to go before kick off in the England versus Algeria game.
Once again, the magners is chilled, the ice is ready and I've developed a respectable thirst.
Here's to a better performance than last Saturday evening and a much needed morale boosting win.
Come on England!
Inebriation permitting, I'll be back after the game with an update...
Update 9.30pm
Very disappointing, I'm afraid. Let's be honest with ourselves, we weren't good enough - and nor did we deserve - to beat Algeria, did we.
Oh dear. Not a very happy birthday for Fabio, all in all...

Kevin Myers, the Paras and Lord Saville...

I have studiously avoided commenting on the publication of the Saville Report earlier this week for a number of reasons, chief amongst which is that I don't know enough about the events of what has become known as 'Bloody Sunday' to offer an opinion worthy of posting.

However, having lived and reported through them from the bullet and blood stained streets of Northern Ireland, Kevin Myers of the Irish Independent knows a great deal more about the history of 'The Troubles' than the vast majority of people on either side of the Irish Sea. As such, here is his slightly tangential take on the events of this week, insofar as they relate to the events in (London*)Derry in late January 1972.

I think you might agree that he doesn't spare either set of protagonists: the British Army (especially the Parachute Regiment) or Sinn Fein Ira.

Kevin Myers is clerly not a man who would hide his views in the hope of courting popularity...

(*Delete as appropriate, or as to taste).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Like the man said: It would appear they haven't gone away after all...

The potential implications for the 'Peace Process' in the north of ireland if the subject matter discussed in this story from Sunday's Irish Independent are massive; because, as I'm sure you will recall, Sinn Fein with their former IRA commanders to the fore, were only admitted to the 'government' of Northern Ireland on the basis that the IRA had permanently given up both its weapons and its wholsale criminal activities.

Well, if this story bears any resemblance to the truth, they have failed to live up to that requirement and by doing so would disqualify themselves from office.

That said, I'll repeat the Throne's stance as regards the position of the six-counties for the benefit of those unfamiliar with it. In my view, the time has come for the English - and I do mean the English, albeit in the form of the British government - to completely withdraw from the north of Ireland at our earliest convenience, allowing the people of the Province (or former Province) to choose for themselves whether to join the other twenty-six counties in an all-Ireland state, or attempt to go it alone as a small, semi-detatched statelet.

Quite what they would choose to do, I don't know and would not presume to advise them about, because I don't consider it any of my business, which is precisely the position I adopt as regards these allegations.

What I do find interesting, though, is that, as far as I can tell, none of the major newspapers or other broadcast media in this country has picked up on the story itself , even to the extent of plagiarising (or is that 'quoting') the Indo.

I wonder why?

Is it because the story is inconvenient in terms of their editorial stance (i.e. that nice, jovial Mr McGuinness can do no wrong), or because Kevin Myers was right all along in asserting that the vast majority of English people couldn't give two hoots about what happens in Ireland?

I can't answer that, but I would be very surprised if the DUP don't raise the matter with David Cameron this Wednesday lunchtime

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Come on England!

Like many of you, I suspect, I'm just settling down to watch England take on the footballing might of the USA in the first game of our World Cup campaign.

I am going to stick my neck out here and predict an English victory, either two nil, or possibly two - one.

I'll be back after the final whistle has blown to update my assessment. Unfortunately, whatever I write will probably be utter drivel (no change there then, I hear you all intone as one) because by that time, I will have put myself on the outside of about a gallon of Mr Magner's finest carbonated apple juice...

Come on England!

Update 9.30pm

Hmmm. Could have won it; probably should have won it, but we didn't convert our chances; then again, neither did the Americans. If this had been boxing match we'd have shaded it on points, but it isn't, so well done USA and well played Bob Bradley.

I think we can all agree that we'll have to improve if we want to stay in the competition for longer than a fortnight.

Anyway, back to my evening with Mr Magner...

What has she done to deserve it?

I have no particular antipathy towards Catherine Zeta Jones, but I have to say I'm puzzled by the fact that she has been awarded the CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

I say that because although Welsh by birth and upbringing, she has lived in Califonia with her American husband since 1996 - more than a third of her life - has two American children and herself effects something of an American accent.

I'm sure she'll be delighted to receive the honour and to take her husband to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen; but what has she actually done here, in this country, to actually deserve the honour? Because last time I checked, being born in Wales, being attractive and landing a rich husband about the same age as your father, weren't amongst the qualifying criteria; especially for an honour which is only one step down from a knighthood, or in the case of a female recipient, a damehood.

Dame Catherine?

Makes as much sense to me as Catherine Zeta-Jones CBE.

I also note that England's Puritan-in-Chief, Professor Ian Gilmore, has been knighted, too. He may be an illiberal killjoy, but he is also the president of the Royal College of Physicians, and as such his award is understandable and - though I say it through gritted teeth - deserved.

But Catherine Zeta-Jones?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Credit for early guilty pleas...

I fail to see how anyone, other than those who stand to lose out financially, (of whom more in due course), could disagree with Lord Justice Leveson when he suggests that suspects who admit their guilt at the earliest opportunity - i.e. whilst being interviewed at a police station - should receive a more significant discount on their eventual sentence than those who admit their guilt later in the process.

Doesn't such an admission at least suggest a degree of genuine contrition on behalf of the offender, rather than the confected version put forward on their behalf by a lawyer who has convinced his client to plead guilty because of the overwhelming weight of the evidence against him (or her)?

And shouldn't that genuine contrition, or remorse; whatever you want to call it, be rewarded in a real and tangible fashion?

I think that it most certainly should.

But then, as the article goes on to say, there are other eminent voices, such as Paul Mendelle QC, the Chairman of the Bar Council, who are vehemently opposed to the very idea.

Call me cynical, but I suspect that there may be just the slightest hint of self interest lying behind his remarks; because more early guilty pleas and fewer Crown Court trials would mean less business (money, to be vulgar) for him and his colleagues at the Bar.

And that aside, remember this: in the vast majority of cases, those under arrest on suspicion of committing a crime know full well whether they are guilty or not when they are sitting in the interview room and it is disingenuous in the extreme to pretend otherwise.

For those who are genuinely innocent of the accusation they face, or for those tiny few who simply cannot remember whether they are or not, due process of law, backed up by the all-important presumption of innocence is there to protect them.

I can't see a downside to this.

There again, I'm not a defence lawyer with one eye on a potentially shrinking practise...

Beautiful England (3)

Regular visitors will know that every now and again, I like to post images of the English countryside in all its glory.
I took this one in a clearing in the middle of a heavily wooded area just outside Great Harwood town centre, of all places.
I'm not too sure this photo does the view justice; it really is a beautiful place, even though it's no more than two hundred yards from one of the roads that connects the town to its larger neighbour, Blackburn.
That's one of the best aspects of Lancashire: wherever you are - and the county has is share of urban blight - you are never far away from outstanding natural beauty such as this...

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Two very lucky men and other knuckle-draggers...

I'm endebted to my local paper, the Lancashire Telegraph, for this story concerning the conviction of two men, cousins Azeem and Tabassum Shah from Nelson, for abducting three tipsy fourteen and fifteen year-old-girls, who they drove to a hotel twenty miles from their home town.

A further charge of 'engaging in sexual activity' with one of the girls against Azeem Shah was allowed to lie on the file.

Interesting expression, that; here's what it actually means, according to the CJS online database:
An offence not admitted to by a defendant may be allowed to lie on file if the
judge agrees that there is sufficient evidence, but it is not in the public interest to
have a trial, as the defendant has admitted other offences, and a further
conviction would make a difference to the sentence.

As you will have read, neither man was jailed, irrespective of the fact that the maximum penalty for child abduction - for that is what these girls were, vulnerable children - is seven years' imprisonment.

Bearing in mind the 'qualifying' criteria for an offence to lie on the file, are we to understand that HHJ Newell would not have jailed Azeem Shah on conviction for 'engaging in sexual activity', whatever that euphemism means, with one of them?

The comments attached to the Telegraph's story are highly critical of the lenient sentences these men received, probably because they strongly suspect that the only reason these two men - one of whom is a married father of two children, for goodness' sake - took the girls to that hotel twenty miles from their homes on an August evening because, in that charmingly innocent, but simultaneously damning phrase, they intended to 'engage in sexual activity' with them.

I think that the Shahs can count themselves very lucky indeed not to be in jail tonight, and if I were involved in conducting this prosecution, I would be busily preparing my appeal against this unduly lenient sentence even as I type.

But to conclude, irresepective of the fact that I think Judge Newell got this sentencing exercise quite badly wrong, too many of those condemning him for his leniency in the comments section lapse into nakedly racist language in doing so.

Shame on them; (if they are familiar with the concept) because not only do they reveal their ignorance, they also serve to undermine the very cause they are purporting to support, because anyone with a modicum of decency will simply ignore their rantings as the howling of knuckle dragging imbeciles.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Cumbria killings...

Inappropriate (how I despair of the capture of that word by the forces of ‘liberal progressiveness’) though it might be, with the details of the shootings in Cumbria only just beginning to unfold, I have a few observations to make about the enquiry which I suspect is just beginning to crank up in the county.

In doing so, I am conscious that the investigation into the thirteen deaths (remember, the murderer died too) is now a matter for HM Coroner for the area and in no way do I presume to trespass on his jurisdiction, or the police enquiry.

That said, I am bound to say that I am convinced that someone, or some institution, will eventually be blamed for ‘allowing’ or ‘failing to prevent’ taxi driver Derrick Bird from setting out on his murderous campaign; because as a society we seem to need a whipping boy to take the flak for every disaster, whether natural or human in origin.

So, a few areas I suspect will receive very close scrutiny:

1. Were the firearms Bird used ( reports suggest they were shotguns) lawfully held by either him or someone else?
2. If so, when was his licence last renewed and by whom.
3. Did the person who visited his home examine his firearms cabinet?
4. If they were not lawfully held, to whom are they registered?
5. How did Bird come to be in possession of both the weapons and a significant – enough to kill thirteen people and injure twenty-five more - amount of ammunition?
6. Had the guns been reported stolen?
7. Had any information been forwarded to the police, or any other body, suggesting that Bird was suffering a mental breakdown of any sort?
8. Was he undergoing any form of treatment for an illness which would have rendered his possession of firearms either dangerous or unwise?
9. Had any information or intelligence been forwarded to the police suggesting that Bird was planning any sort of criminality?
10. Was there some sort of index incident which prompted him to act as he did, out of anger, despair, jealousy or any other powerful human emotion?

These are, of course, but a few of the hundreds of potential questions which the enquiry will seek to answer.

I just hope that those answers stand up to what will rightly be the white heat of public and official scrutiny; because if they don’t, someone is for the high jump.

That's as maybe. For now, the thoughts of the Throne are with the families of Bird's innocent, apparently randomly chosen,victims; no doubt we'll find out the truth of what happened to them and why, in the fullness of time...

Kevin Myers asks why the English are universally disliked...

Regular, or even semi-regular visitors will have gathered that I haven't posted for well over a week. Once again, I'm afraid the twin conspirators of work, both formal and domestic have combined to deprive me of the necessary time to compose even my rambling and structureless.

However, not for the first time, my favourite columnist, Kevin Myers of the Irish Independent, has ridden to the rescue with another one of his neatly observed articles, in which he discusses the antipathy towards England and the English not just by his fellow Irishmen, but by virtually every other nation on earth, even our so called 'special' friends.

Hits the nail squarely on the head, in my view; but what do you think?