Thursday, 14 November 2013

Green light to build

Having finished studying prawn recipes, I was intrigued to Observe the Huffington Post story claiming that golf courses take up 'twice as much land as housing'.
Well, surely this is the best news of the week. At one stroke (geddit?) we could free up a lot of land for desperately needed housing, at the same time as removing a lot of middle-aged white boys with seriously bad dress sense from otherwise attractive landscape.

It's made of win. Women should be right behind this notion, as we all know how much golf clubs like women. Not a lot. The Royal Burgess, for example — the oldest golf club in the world — doesn't allow women to enjoy their hallowed acres. Heaven knows what catastrophe might ensue.

Meanwhile, housing is in very short supply, and we see the younger generation loading themselves down with enormous debt to get on the housing ladder. Like they haven't got enough debt, what with university fees and all. No, we need affordable housing more than we need playgrounds for balding bigots in BMWs. We will rise up, led by the Bollocks-Finder Generals, and take back the lost leys. We may have to shoot some of the most vocal protestors, but I like to think of it as a cleansing of the gene pool. We will, in a spirit of fairness, gift parcels of currently unused brownfield land to the golf clubs by way of compensation, and I hereby present a compelling vision of the future for them.

Clearly, this is the sort of environment that chaps who like pastel polo shirts, strange trousers and one glove really belong in. They can still do business deals, network like rutting ferrets and get some fresh air. They will give a little badly needed amusement to inner-city residents and perhaps even boost the local economy (by way of stolen BMWs). The occasional golf-ball through a window will be a fair price to pay.

Women, being sensible creatures, won't mind being excluded from this scenario, as they wouldn't want to be seen dead there. It's made of win, people.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Nottingham Town

There's definitely something individual about this city. I give you three headlines from the local news, all datelined 25 October 2013:

Carlton man with aquarium in his living room features on Channel 4 show

Nottinghamshire folk are among friendliest in Europe - it's official

Father-of-four threw lizard at man in revenge attack outside Beeston pub
It'll tell you something about Nottingham if I say that I grinned at all of those but wasn't very surprised by any of them.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

My bad

So the Government scorns Ed Miliband's idea of a 20-month energy price freeze while signing a deal for the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset (to be built by French and Chinese interests) that guarantees a fixed price – double today's price – for its electricity for 35 years.

No, I don't get it. I expect I'm missing some subtle detail.

Meanwhile, Facebook are again allowing videos of people being decapitated, although they're still apparently banning videos of women breast-feeding their babies.

No, don't get that either. Lacking in insight, me.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Someone wants shooting

See, this is what comes of spending a year in silent meditation, studying prawn recipes. Where to start?

A while ago, I offered up the concept of the Bollocks-Finder General. If we had them in office now, they'd have serious work to do. I'll have to be posting quite frequently to cover it all. Let's get under way.

The badger cull. 
Anyone who remembers the foot & mouth epidemic and the official response to it will know that politicians have no idea whatsoever about farming, wildlife, the countryside or the relevant science and statistics. But bless them, they're politicians, they're not supposed to know too much about anything. They'd be dangerous if they did.

However, Defra (the Department for the Elimination of Farming and Rural Affairs) should know something about all those things. More precisely, those paid by the taxpayer to work at Defra should know something about all those things, and should be able to offer sensible guidance to our politicians, much as those lovely Golden Labradors steer the blind around. But it turns out that Defra are more like Red Setters, the most notoriously bouncy, loopy, braindead dogs ever. One step ahead of the politicians, admittedly, but you take my point.

So we have a problem with bovine TB. The Guvmint feel it's become necessary to be seen to do something. Defra advise that some options are troublesome: vaccination of cows (illegal for various arcane reasons, most of them to do with money); vaccination of badgers (tricky, as they're not good at keeping appointments at the surgery); culling of dairy farmers (generally felt at Westminster to be a temptingly obvious answer, but the PR wonks were uneasy about how to present it).

So Defra concludes that the only option is to shoot the badgers. Those bastards wander round the countryside breathing on cows, you see. In trial areas 'trained marksmen' are encouraged to go and knock them off, following strict rules laid down by those nice people at Natural England. After a tense period during which lads with shotguns on zero-hours contracts (aka 'trained marksmen') are blundering around at night pursued by anti-cull activists with torches, the badgers move the goalposts. Although it seems a rather small number of badgers have been knocked off, that's OK, as according to Owen Paterson (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Fuck-ups) it's now believed that there weren't that many badgers there to start with, so they've got the right percentage. Only just in case, they're going to extend the cull period so the lads might be able to knock off more of the badgers they don't need to.

That's right. They have no idea what they're doing.

At this point, a Bollocks-Finder General would be hitting the doors of Defra HQ. If you were standing outside, as it might be quietly sipping a cup of coffee, you would after a few minutes hear a lot of shouting and a few gunshots. And maybe after that we might get some clarity of thinking on the whole subject.

But don't hold your breath. Unless you're a cow near a badger, of course.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Nurse, he's out of bed again...

Oh my. I settled down with a bag of prawn crackers and a glass of decent brandy, with a white cat on my lap, and look what happened. More than a year has passed.

The world seems strangely altered. There is much dust on my html console. My fingernails have grown rather extravagantly and my beard is unkempt. I'm not sure where the cat has gone. All of this may take some time to comprehend. Bear with me, won't you?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Olympic fail

Apologies for the long lacuna – life has been a bit hectic.

Here at the Observatory, we thought the Olympics coming to London was an embuggerance that could only have been surpassed by the Olympics coming to our own much fairer city. Howsomever, our electorally anointed ones (of all flavours) have pushed on with the idea, so we have to make the best of the multi-billion shindig.

When it comes to the engineering and construction side, we seem to have done pretty well. Very well, in fact. It's some of the soft stuff that's going pear-shaped. I give you, exempli gratia, the question of security personnel. The Guvmint having pimped itself once again to G4S for £300 million ("thanks, darling, same time next year?"), it seems there won't be enough trained personnel on hand. G4S have, it seems, "... encountered some issues in relation to workforce supply". Despite enormously high unemployment, and notoriously low pay for security staff, G4S have managed not to be able to fulfil this contracted undertaking. So the armed forces will have to step in. Well, it's not as if they have anything to do, there being only a couple of wars on. So that's all right.

Moving swiftly to Heathrow. OK, that's just my little joke – as if anyone could move swiftly to or from Heathrow – but moving on. Will we be able to get our foreign friends into the country to see the Olympics?

It seems that today a long queue waiting to get through border control at Heathrow started a slow hand-clap by way of weary comment at the more than two hour delay. Your man on the BBC report appeared to be American. Well, we accept his point; that kind of wait isn't acceptable, and it all bodes ill for the Olympic influx. That said, trying to enter America has become notoriously difficult even for people who don't look swarthy and have beards. Let's imagine the chances of anyone starting a slow hand-clap in the border control queue getting into the US of A? Lightning would strike first, I suggest.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Police and Crime Commissioners

I must apologise for the lack of recent activity. My analysis of who really runs the world evidently ruffled a few feathers – or should I say 'antennae' – and I had to spend the whole of February avoiding several large and threatening prawns. Fortunately for me, Mrs QO's countering tactics involving a wok and some hoi-sin sauce seemed to deter them, and I think I can safely put my head above the parapet to discuss the question of who will, after 25 November, really run your local police force.

If you haven't really noticed that in November you will be offered the chance to vote for a Police and Crime Commissioner, you aren't alone – some three-quarters of the electorate haven't twigged either. Your PCC will have the power to hire and fire the Chief Constable, set the police precept (a lovely word, isn't it? Much nicer than 'tax') and generally throw his or her weight around, setting policing priorities for the area. And receive between £60,000 and £100,000 a year, depending on the size of the local police force. And have a nice office, staff and an expense account.

Now, you may think this is A Good Thing. Popular accountability, my chance to influence policing in my patch, the democratic Dibble at last... well, that's certainly the Conservative line. They were hoping that some splendid candidates would spring forward, giants of community leadership, famous faces, big beasts of entrepreneurship, "... those who have built and led large organisations" as Nick Herbert MP said. And the cost of this bright new policing world is surely a snip at a mere £75 million.

Well, now. The Conservatives and Labour are intending to field party candidates in most if not all areas. So they'll be 'acceptable' politically, i.e., won't have an original thought in their head, will be great at kissing babies and doing the rubber chicken circuit, and won't have a proper big job to do anywhere else. The vast majority of candidates so far are local councillors, the lads and lasses with dodgy dress style who've been on the old-fashioned police authorities all these years, salivating at the thought of a much bigger payoff. Genuinely able independents are either busy running their large organisations, or appalled at the thought of having to kiss babies and do the rubber chicken circuit rather than get the job on merit, and are probably earning a sight more than is on offer. You can see who's up for it here, if you're interested. But I'm guessing mostly you're not.

But perhaps you should be. Policing in the UK is in something of a crisis. Morale is low among rank and file officers, resources are being significantly cut (except among Diversity Managers and PR departments), there's still a huge target culture despite what Kitten Heels says, and to this already toxic mix the Government is introducing political control and increased privatisation. Does that sound promising to you?

It may help if I summarise your options:
1. You get what you've already got, only it'll cost more.
2. You get something radically different which will probably be worse.

In either event, as far as the Guvmint is concerned, it will be your fault. You voted for the twat.

So have a think about your options come November, and have a look at your candidates. The good people of Humberside, by the way, have as one of their candidates one of the very few big names to have emerged so far, and I show him below discussing local affairs with a member of the public. Yeah, it's a cheap shot, I know, but it just seems emblematic of how this bright idea is likely to pan out.