Cutting Costs

The private sector has a bee in its bonnet about cutting costs, to the extent that it is also trying to pare its workforce to the bone.  Only by doing this, it is thought, will they recover to economic growth and stability. It’s accountant logic.  After a point, it’s also utter bullshit. Sadly, the public sector seems to be catching on to this fatuous idea too. Continue reading “Cutting Costs”

Thoughts on Brexit

I’m proud of what Great Britain has accomplished, which is why I was pleased that Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. I can understand why some might not have wanted to, and I think that Scotland needs greater autonomy (as do England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and their regions), but we are greater than the sum of our parts. Continue reading “Thoughts on Brexit”

Manifesto, the Lords (Politics #2)

Back in 2005, I blogged that I’d write up my dream party manifesto – and then I failed to write a single, solitary, sodding word.  In some ways, therefore, I think that I’ve performed rather better than Her Majesties Government over the last seven years.  Sure, I didn’t achieve much – but I buggered up far less than they did too.  And, Wow!, didn’t they just bugger it up!

Continue reading “Manifesto, the Lords (Politics #2)”

A Nuclear Future

There is no dispute that coal is a dirty fuel and also that coal generates radioactive byproducts too – radioactive byproducts which are largely vented into the atmosphere. But here’s the thing – you can’t actually make a bomb, dirty or ‘clean’ from coal ash. What’s more, if you wanted to dispose of the ash you could just stuff it back down the mine or quarry that it came from – we have enough abandoned workings after all. We just don’t have the political willpower to do so. Ash is largely safe – yes, I know about the heavy metals and other pollutants in the ash – but generations of Welsh communities have demonstrated that it’s quite possible to live your life and raise your family in the shadow of the ash pile. Perhaps not nice and yes, fatal if it slips onto your head, but ultimately fairly safe. Besides, after years of plant growth (yes, plants can grow on an ash pile – some even like it), the ash pile stabilises – and many of the nastier waste products get locked up.

Good luck doing that with current, and even next generation, Nuclear reactors. I’d rather live in Aberfan than Pripyat. Even the most vocal adherent of Nuclear has to admit that ash is easier to deal with than nuclear waste.

I don’t actually have a problem with building Nuclear – provided we know what we’ll do with the waste. And we don’t. We keep lobbing ideas around, none of which work so far, and the piles of toxic and radioactive waste continue to build. And the two Nuclear solutions which seem to be cleanest (Hybrid reactors – which would reduce the overall amount of high level waste – theoretically, they could ‘burn’ waste from other reactors, and burn old nuclear warheads, and Fusion) are either too expensive or too impossible with current technology or lack the political will to implement. So yes. Fuck new Nuclear until we do the job cleanly and properly.

But (whinge, whine, moan) we won’t have enough power if we don’t have nuclear! Boo Hoo. Turn your computer off at night. Buy less gadgets. Get rid of your energy hungry plasma TV. Recycle. Reuse. Use public transport. Problem solved. Sure, you’ll have less toys – but you’ll also have a cleaner world. You’ll thank me for it one day.

Public Transport

Let’s get the positive stuff out of the way first. I like trains, provided that I can get a seat.  I especially like long train journeys in first class – I get a reasonable cup of tea, a fairly peaceful journey and I can read the paper.

I hate the underground.  It’s smelly, stifling and there’s nothing to look at except for the armpits of ones fellow travellers as they grasp the hand rails (there’s never room to sit).

I hate buses but, since I live beyond the reach of the underground, they’re a necessary nuisance.  I particularly dislike many of my fellow passengers and, in particular, the spineless wimps who put up with hooliganism meekly – or, worse yet, thank me when I don’t.

Strangely enough, I don’t particularly hate the inconsiderate ‘yoofs’ who do so much to ensure that bus rides are as unpleasant as possible.  I was yoofish once and, whilst I never graffitied or listened to my music at disturbing volumes (mainly because I didn’t have the means), I’m aware that I was probably quite unpleasant in my own way.

No, I hate the spineless wimps who won’t stand up for peace, quiet and good manners.  Their excuse is inevitably that they don’t want to get stabbed or happyslapped.  What?  And I do?  I’m hardly built like a boxer myself – I’m in no position to defend myself from a knife or, worse, a gun.  The difference is that I have a healthy sense of perspective and I realise that the chances of being attacked are tiny.  Let’s face it, if they weren’t then such attacks would cease to be newsworthy. The streets will, I promise you, be far safer when everybody firmly (but politely) learns to say ‘excuse me, but would you please stop doing that (whatever it is)’.  Trust me. It works. But if you see me doing it and you’re grateful, please don’t thank me. Just remember not to be so much of a coward yourself next time.

Most of all though, I hate Ken Livingstone for giving free travel to yoofs – come on.  Make them pay like everybody else, and put the extra revenue into paying conductors – life will be so much more pleasant for everyone who has to use public transport.

Dear Jacques

This is an open letter of thanks to Jacques Chirac. I publish it here so that the good people of the world can see for themselves how indebted I feel towards him.  If you can’t remember this particular storm in a teacup, you can read the story here – How Jacques lost the Finnish vote for France.

English Version

Dear Jacques,

Thank you for your kind comments about the English, our cuisine and our trustworthiness that you made on Sunday.  Many of the more excitable newspapers in this country lambasted you for it, but I saw greatness in those words.  Who but a genius, a true lover of all Englishness, a man such as yourself, would commit political suicide and hand the glory of the Olympics to a rival nation?  In your infinite wisdom, you scuppered the Paris bid and handed the honour to London.

I have always been a Francophile, but now I am greatly in your debt as well (although I am quite untrustworthy, so I have no intention of paying up). You will always be welcome at my home, where I will be delighted to feed you stodgy stews and ready meals purchased from one of our many fine supermarkets.

Yours sincerely,


French Version

Cher Jacques,

Je vous remercie des aimables commentaires que vous avez passé dimanche dernier sur les Anglais, notre cuisine et notre fiabilité. Un grand nombre de nos journaux plus susceptibles vous ont raillé pour cela mais j’ai vu une certaine grandeur dans vos paroles. Qui d’autre qu’un génie, un véritable admirateur de toute anglicité, un homme comme vous, commettrait un suicide politique et passerait la gloire d’obtenir les Jeux Olympiques à un pays rival ? Dans votre sagesse infinie, vous êtes arrivé à torpiller les chances de Paris et passer un tel  honneur à Londres.

J’ai toujours été un francophile, mais maintenant je vous suis aussi tout à fait endetté (bien que je sois peu fiable et n’aie donc aucune intention de payer). Vous serez toujours le bienvenu chez moi où j’aurai grand plaisir à vous offrir des ragoûts bourratifs et des repas tous préparés, achetés dans l’un de nos excellents supermarchés.

Veuillez agréer, cher Jacques, mes sincères salutations,