Social Comment – 2012

Social Comment for the Year 2012

January 2012.

So what is happening in the first week of the New Year?

Things are looking up! My newspaper has gone up 11%, rail fares have gone up at least by 8% and the cost of crude oil is rising due to the threats of the Iranians to block the Strait of Hormuz.

Although it is calmer now (4th January), the winds have been high in the UK with Scotland again suffering the worst. It must be almost the norm to have your power cables blown down for some thousands of poor consumers.  Or not consumers; as they are at the moment.

The Stock Market has risen a little for a change but this is probably only a ploy by those that buy and sell shares and know which direction the move will be!  One of my New Years resolutions is to not to become cynical!

The South got the wind last night and this morning (5th January). Trees were blown down and high sided vehicles blown over. There are the remains of many shed roof felts all over the estate together with leaning fences and TV aerials at crazy angles. The rain was torrential.

Preparations are in progress for two big events this coming year.

London holds the Olympic Games for the first time since 1948. and our Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 60 year Jubilee on June 3rd; (incidentally and irrelevantly it was the same day that I was demobbed from the RAF). This was an event that may have completely passed her Majesty’s notice, unless she wondered ‘why the gap?’ at a London kerbside as she glided by in her state coach. Plans are being firmed for both local and nationwide celebrations. The Residents Association is aiming high in conjunction with the three schools and the local church.

The other event  “The Olympic Games” is to be held in July in London, for the first time since 1948. The usual rants have been apparent regarding over costs and delays; and what use will the facilities be when the games are over? As sporting activities seem to figure quite low in “must do” things these days I suppose it is a valid question. “Use it or lose it” we were told. I think I may be losing it about now!

The weather since the gales has been very mild, but at the weekend (12th. January) it will get cold again we are told.

News and developments from Europe; France and Germany that is, have been sparse to non existent. Ominous?

Friday 13th. January. Unlucky for some? If you are French, or even European you may think so.

Standard & Poor’s rating agency has downgraded both France and Austria from their AAA rating status whilst another six countries have also gone down a step, and in Italy’s case, two steps. Guess what? EU. stock values have sunk even lower. Greece is a little nearer to defaulting on its loan whilst its inhabitants continue to riot over the governments attempts to restructure and claw back some of their debt.  President Sarkozy; who is bidding for re election later this year is not very happy, and voices are being raised about the UK,s position. Not unlike football players lobbying the referee on a Saturday afternoon over a Red Card for an opponent.  As one of the effects of a downgrade is the extra cost of loans,  it is not to be welcomed. The UK could well be next!

Much has been discussed regarding the aim for the Scottish Devolution from the UK (particularly by Mr Alex Salmond). Confusion as to whether Scotland can act unilaterally or if the British Parliament must decide, and what form the actual referendum question must take are rife.

An Italian cruise ship  Costa Concordia has been holed and has capsized in the Mediterranean with the loss of 13 lives. (20 or so other souls are unaccounted for) The Captain has been blamed for hitting a rock 150 metres off his course. He says the rock was not on the map. 14 decks carrying 4,800 passengers and crew must surely have made the boat tend to be top heavy and a great big 50 metre hole ripped in the side tipped the balance.  There are reports of panic, with no evacuation practice having been carried out.  Some of the passengers claim that many of the earlier evacuees were wearing yellow crew jackets!  Again, according to later reports the local Coast Guard were telling the captain to get back on his boat as his passengers were panicking!   He claimed it was not possible as it was dark and the boat was listing!!!   He had unfortunately earlier fallen or been pushed into a departing lifeboat!   The Captain is now being charged. Manslaughter being the most likely result. He has admitted to being off course.

The Russian Mars probe; launched to retrieve data from its moon Phobos, that didn’t make it beyond Earth orbit and then would not talk to them, crashed its 13 tons into the Pacific 300 miles off the Chilean coast on 15th January. It was one of the heaviest man made objects ever to make an uncontrolled re-entry into earth’s atmosphere. It may also qualify in the Guinness Book of Records as producing the world’s largest splash!

One of the world famous iconic companies has filed for Legal Protection against Bankruptcy, or some similar US financial term.  Eastman Kodak US; that for the last 131 years has been the name most people will associate with photo albums and  shoe boxes full of pictures  of holidays and unidentified deceased relatives, has succumbed to progress, or rather their apparent lack of appreciation of change.   From my childhood I remember the cardboard Kodak Box camera with a shutter release on the side like a car handbrake, that loaded with a spool of paper backed film would record; sometimes not too well, the famous family events on small black and white prints that faded in the sunlight.  Then later came Kodachrome and Kodacolour that made the pictures more interesting, if prone to sometimes be a little unrealistic, colour wise.   Now, with every man and his dog having a mobile phone with a digital camera built in, film cameras have been virtually banished. The name will not disappear completely but many changes in product direction will need to be made.  The elephant’s graveyard of current photos will now possibly be on shiny discs stored on shelves and in lofts, or deleted into infinity.  Very few shoe boxes about these days!       The end of the “Kodak moment”?   Well perhaps not just yet.  The UK operation continues to operate.  It will need to adapt to a changing world, and quite quickly.

Our local Police report via OWL on 20th. January. that at least some of the perpetrators of the far too many burglaries that have taken place on the estate and its environs over the Christmas period have been arrested charged and remanded in custody.  It will be interesting to see if they are inconvenienced by the courts as much as their victims were. Don’t hold your breath!

China has bought a stake in Thames Water.  It has been suggested that the same country may invest in the new high speed rail link and other big UK projects.  What this will finally mean to the UK can only be guessed at.  Chop sticks in the Buffet car possibly and Crispy Duck curly sandwiches?

The papers of today, 23rd January. tell of us that the FTSE 100 has seen its highest January increase since 1989.  This is good news for those in private companies who are about to draw their pensions. It is a bit late for those whose companies have already gone down the drain though.  It is to be hoped that the up trend will continue, but if I were to revert to last years cynicism, I would say “don’t hold your breath”!

I had somehow missed the news that the long term discussed extension of the Metropolitan Railway to Watford Junction has been given the go ahead.  With new stations at Ascot Road and Vicarage Road behind Watford General, it is claimed the project will benefit some of the less fortunate areas of Watford.  A long viaduct will be built over Baldwins Lane, Rickmansworth Road and the canal and the project is due for completion in 2016.

It is reported on January 26th. that deaths due to Cardiac Arrest have dropped by 50% in just eight years. Helping people to quit smoking, managing high blood pressures and cholesterol and the improved treatment in hospitals for those afflicted, have all contributed.   I wonder if these figures are due for a spectacular reversal when motorists find that fuel has gone up to near £8 per gallon (for diesel). These unacceptable rises are due to the closure of the Coryton oil refinery in Essex, the EU embargo on Iranian oil and a strike by tanker delivery drivers over more pay. Panic buying has not helped the situation and several dealers have run dry.   The refinery is not receiving crude oil due to its Swiss owners going into insolvency. The plant would normally provide around 10% of the UK fuels.  It is thought that deliveries will resume soon but a sudden fall in fuel prices is a little less likely.

(January 29th.) In the week preceding my holiday I am looking at those area’s outside Europe where the news is being made and will develop in the next two months; and settled on Syria as the most likely hotspot.

The Arab League has it seems failed in its efforts to persuade President Bashar al-Assad to step down and the killing of protestors has accelerated recently.  The Russians are resisting a solid UN involvement; they suggest it is only a means towards international involvement beyond embargoes. Recent events suggest they may well be right, but they have not come up with an alternative answer to stop the conflict that so far has cost more than 5,000 lives.

The Iranian nuclear weapons conflict continues with various countries sabre rattling in the Strait of Hormuz. Several warships are patrolling the area. This has the makings of a far reaching conflict with no real winners.

Meanwhile in Libya, evidence of the torture of captives following their civil war has allegedly come to light. As I suggested before there definitely appears to be an “out of the frying pan” syndrome in the “Arab Spring” concept, which they seem; equally with the West, unable to control.

I hope in two months time there is only good news to report on the Middle East in general.

31st. January. The boss of RBS has turned down his near £1,000,000 share bonus after much lobbying. He will have to struggle along on his £1,200,000 salary. This thoughtful offer, does not effect the millions of pounds in shares put aside for him personally and his board members in the future. With his company, (now State owned) buying out a suspect Dutch Bank for £49billion that nearly caused RBS to collapse in 2008; it would have done so without a massive bail out by the government, us, how were bonuses earned at all?  Under most other circumstances being so far in dept would hardly qualify for a bonus. Quite the reverse I fancy.

London Underground staff has rejected a £500 bonus offer to cover their claimed extra work load in selling tickets and running the network during the Olympics. This item of news has an implied threat that could hold the games to ransom. Goodwill does not seem to be a consideration.

February 2012

I read in the papers this morning (1st. February), that the man in charge of RBS in 2008 when the wheels came off his company; who had 4 years earlier been Knighted for his services to banking, has had his knighthood removed by The Forfeiture Committee. As earlier mentioned RBS had accrued losses of £24.1b which forced the government to take a stake worth £45b or 83% of the company in order to save investors cash. This event is generally considered to be at the centre of the subsequent financial meltdown we are all suffering.   Mr Goodwin, was forced to leave RBS in 2008 with a pension pot of £16m that paid him £700,000 per year. He eventually agreed to halve his pension when public outcry forced the point.   Look out on eBay for cut price Ermine and a coronet!

With the January Transfer Window closed, Watford have lost Martin Sordell their leading scorer for 3.4m.  Nevertheless they managed to win 2-0 last night which brings their points total to 33. This is 9 points above the current relegation level in the Championship.

The two Manchester clubs share top place in the Premiership with 54 points each. Spurs are 5 points below them. Chelsea and Arsenal have a lot of work to do!

These are the final entries (4th February) before my holiday and the last week has not been a lot better news wise than its predecessors.

Prince William has flown to The Falklands to carry out a normal rotation as an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot.  That is what the RAF say.  The Argentineans on the other hand see it as provocation on the 30th anniversary of their last thwarted attempt to gain control over (their) Las Malvinas.  The arrival of one of our few remaining fighting ships has not helped to calm them down.  Is oil, rather than national pride perhaps the reason for their tangoing up and down?

At least 74 fans were killed and many hundreds injured in Cairo when, after a rare 3-1 win 13,000 home fans stormed onto the ground and attacked opposing players and their supporters.  Several players, some of whom were injured have decided not to play football anymore.  Subsequent rioting in the city around and in the station, caused many more causalities.  Suggestions are being made that the whole thing was politically motivated and follows the earlier revolution.  With mobile phones and the internet, this can’t be excluded.

India; whose economy is on the up,  but they still received a £328m aid package from us, with an economy definitely not on the up, are threatening to place a £7b order for fighter planes with France. I suppose we should not expect preferential treatment but if a country need millions in aid from us, where are they getting the billions to pay for weapons?

Another aid enigma.  We have increased our aid to Pakistan to £665m.  This is in the face of enough evidence to make it likely that the Pakistan government is supporting the Taliban, who are killing our troops!   Wikileaks has published an on line item from US classified documents that it is claimed show that Pakistan intelligence service has supported the Taliban with money and supplies since the 90s.   It is perhaps relevant to remember that Osama bin Laden was found in a large house very close to the Pakistan Military Academy.   It would be nice to think that someone in government is looking seriously at these so called aid packages. Another, don’t hold your breath situation?

The government is looking towards depriving some of the GCSE subjects of their status. The two used as an example are Nail Technology and Customer Service. It sounds to me similar to the Boy Scouts of my day, where the badges looked nice on the shirt sleeve but being able to light a fire or tie knots was not a great guarantee of other useful latent skills. I don’t think the Troop leader got a bonus for total badges won by his scouts either. Thoughts, “British Bulldog” was a great game.

At the beginning of the year the EU determined that Chickens would no longer be kept in Battery Houses, but given more freedom and room to move about. It would seem that the UK, as is usually the way, leapt into action before the date due and nearly all Chickens had a better life by this New Year, even if their eggs were a bit more expensive. The rest of the continent did very little. Hence cheaper eggs and less happy Chickens.   At the end of this year the EU sow will also have more room to move about in, but only if they are UK EU sows. Hence cheaper imported pork and less happy Pigs.

France I understand still transport live animals in conditions that do not meet the regulations or the creatures any comfort.   Their national fervour and pride also allows them periodically to blockade ports to prevent the competition getting in. Who said level playing field? There is a lot more to this story over the years.   Research it on the internet.

This is my last entry for 7 weeks + recovery time.   With temperatures here in Kingswood at -7degrees C , it is going to be a terrible shock to get used to +30degree. But someone has to do it!

It has not snowed to date in our area but it’s about.

Why am I here on the 5th February? Because the snow came yesterday evening and as usual disrupted everything.   Our flight is delayed 14 hours, so another night in the cold.

The Horns won again yesterday, now on 36 points. Arsenal scored 7!

Back at the keyboard at the end of March with many weeks of near zero relevant news. The BBC World Service does not seem to be too interested in the UK and being PC are very careful on how they comment on the various conflicts of the day.

Syria still figures high on the places not to be listed.   I believe the figure of 8,000 people having been killed in the year of protestation; mostly the protestors, or terrorist, as President al- Assad describes them.

An attempt by former UN President Koffi Annan to seek a peace treaty looks likely to succeed.   But it is early days as yet.

The Americans have excelled in their national pastime of shooting themselves in the foot.   In Afghanistan they have managed to burn pages from the Koran and had riots and a pair of senior officers shot by their own local security forces for their troubles. The second incident was the shooting of 17 locals by a rogue US soldier.   With the plan to leave the country to be policed and look after its own affairs within a couple of years it must be very doubtful of success.

Along the same troubled lines is the famine and unrest in Somalia.   For several years the Somalians have carried out maritime piracy around the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden.   Boarding ships, they have taken; and in some cases killed hostages.   Terrorist incursions into neighbours Ethiopia and Kenya have also caused deaths. A militant Islamic group appear to be behind many of the occurrences.   This is an area that will continue to be in the news.

The Iran nuclear weapon saga continues with the US placing more heavy sanctions on their export of oil.

Israel has made noises about more active attempts to stop the production of weapons.  This sounds ominous!

Rupert Murdock has brought out a replacement for the disgraced  News of the World. Called the Sunday Sun, it will be on the same lines as its predecessor without the sleaze and corruption?   Sounds like a rose by any other name?

These are my best efforts at updating the events of the last couple of months.   The various story’s will no doubt crop up again.

March 2012.

Arrived home on 29th March. to find petrol at 138p a litre and long queues at petrol stations as Unite and the Tanker drivers have threatened a delivery strike.   It would seem that the panic buying and hoarding of fuel was partially down to a rather silly statement from one of the government offices reference topping up your tanks and keeping fuel in your garage.   As the strike was only a threat and has subsequently been seen to not to occur until after Easter; if then, the publics efforts to panic buy and hoard fuel can really only be seen as a misjudgement on both their and the governments parts.   It is however a powerful political tool! And a good excuse for raising  the price of food and fuel.   We have seen these panic reactions before over such things as bread, and a classic; the explosion at Bunce Field.   If there was not a problem before there certainly is once hoarding takes hold.

The other horrendous news; taken out of context I’m sure, is the intention to put VAT on hot Cornish Pasties.  One would think that the product was the stable diet of most of the residents of the UK!   It seems the tax is to be placed on hot food sales, not just the emotive pasty.   Bakers believe the ruling may well break an EU law.   Well it would, wouldn’t it?

Whilst on industrial action I see a General Strike is taking place in Spain.   Like the Greeks they don’t like the austerity measures introduced to reduce their massive budget deficit.   Petrol bombs and rubber bullets in Barcelona and Murcia have thrown the country into chaos.   The majority of flights in and out have been cancelled.   I can see why they don’t like the action taken but it is their debt, and only they can get out of it.    Hopefully without selling their souls.

Just to add to the general feeling of well being, Stanstead baggage handlers will down bags during the Easter Bank Holiday period. Not wishing to inconvenience the travelling public of course?  ps (They have seen sense, or at least for now).

The UK economy has not made a hoped for move in the direction of recovery.   With some loss of credit rating the money we already owe is costing more.

A research team in the US holds out some hope that the terrible scourge of Alzheimer’s is to be tamed in the future.  A discovery hopes that a vaccine can be developed that will halt or slow the brain protein mutation that causes the disease.  There is currently no effective treatment.

Again we hear of Benefit Fraud costing the taxpayer £1.7b per year.   Several prosecutions have been made recently including one couple who, amongst other scams were receiving £2,670 per month, equalling 60% of the rent on their Chelsea Harbour apartment worth £1.8m.   He received four and a half years jail and his wife a deferred sentence.

Having returned to sunshine and temperatures up to 21 degrees, come the Bank Holliday, comes the drop of 10 degrees or so.  There is frost forecast in some places, and snow.  Typical!!

Today, 31st March, sees the opening of the Warner Brother studio tour, “The Making of Harry Potter” at Leavesden Studios.  They call it London!

The price of entry for a family of 2 adults and 2 children will be £83.   Not an inconsiderable sum under present economic conditions.   Put it on the card, that don’t count!   If you want merchandise; and who doesn’t, you can have a broomstick for £25 and a Professor Dumbledore gown for a mere £445.95.   I wonder what effect this tour will have on traffic on the local access roads?

The Horns beat Leeds 0-2 and now have 57 points.  They are 11th in the Championship. How about the play offs? That would be a turn up for the book.

By the end of the week Man United are 5 points clear of City.

April 2012.

By Sunday 1st April, and a little more meat on the Tanker strike bone.   Unite has agreed to meet the employers at ACAS and a group of lorry drivers aims to back up the action by blockading the distribution depots and motorways.   These latter are fuel activists and not directly supporting the aims of the tanker drivers. “  This time we will bring the Government down”, says the lorry driver’s leader.   The tanker drivers aims are for better conditions and much more money with a 27% increase to £54,000 a year; considerably more ambitious than the £12 a week (£624 pa) increase, and no improvement in conditions that I received notification of today, and I am a member of the same Union!   Long retired, of course.

April 3rd. sees one of our senior judges voicing his anger over a terrorist convicted of an airport bombing being thrown out of France but being given refuge here.   The man has been here for more than 10 years and has used thousands of pounds of our money to fight for asylum as he is stateless.   His conviction in Algiers for terrorism is the reason for us not deporting him.   The fear is he would be punished if he was returned!  What else should he expect?

On the 30th anniversary of the last conflict Argentina’s red headed firebrand President has made a speech describing the UK’s stance as “ridiculous and absurd”.   She had the tacit support from several of the South American governments but they all found something else to do when invited to attend her rally.   It seems Argentina is suffering; like many countries, with poor profitability and has reduced its armed forces by a considerable amount which would make another invasion risky.   Despite the oil! Britain maintains the islanders should determine their own destiny.

Some local news! I sat at the bus stop on the A405 today for some time before a kind local told me the number 8 bus had been rerouted.  No information on the posted time table of course.  This meant a long walk; for me, to Leavesden High Road. Would it have been too much trouble to post a message that this particular stop had been abandoned?  As yet I have no idea where the reroute now takes one of my hospital links to.

We have a hose pipe ban which followed fairly smartly a significant rise in the water rate. The ban covers much of southern and eastern England, and coming so near the beginning of the year suggests it will be with us for a long long time.

On Saturday 7th April. it looks as though another strike is in the offing before long. The NUT conference has recorded a yes vote on action.  Their bone of contention is much the same as everyone else’s in the country; pay more for your pensions and retire later.  It would seem to be a fact of life with the economy not doing anyone any favours.

Yesterday the ban on displaying cigarettes and tobacco products at all retail outlets came into force.  Smoking should no longer be considered a part of everyday life says the Health Secretary.  “It is the biggest avoidable cause of early mortality”.  It is also a drain on cash resources in many families.

Political correctness rules, OK. A nursery school has changed a 250 year old nursery rhyme to “Baa Baa little sheep”. (Apparently it was a protest against a hike in wool tax in those far off days before PC had been discovered).   Last year a pre-school in Oxfordshire determined that “Rainbow” should be a substitute for black.   I can make no further logical comment!

The children, or 50% of those surveyed, thought that Easter Sunday marks the birthday of the Easter Bunny.  The only other celebration for 40% will be the purchase and consumption of an average £17 worth of Easter Eggs.   The survey was carried out by Travelodge on 5,000 people for what it is worth.

Saturday saw the disruption of the University Boat Race on the Thames by one Trenton Oldfield, an activist for the Anti Elitist faction; on top of that he is an Australian; privately educated and from a privileged family.  He swam out to arrive between the two boats as they passed and likened his actions to those of the suffragettes but he unfortunately lacked the courage of their convictions by diving under and avoiding being hit by the oar blades.  On the restart of the race the boats clashed and an Oxford oar was broken leading to a virtual walkover for Cambridge. He has made comments that the Olympics may be targeted.   An official of the Oxford boating club regretted the 7 months of tough training the crews had been subjected too, all wasted by the selfish action of one man.

In Syria the UN-Arab League agreement with President Assad to end all fighting by the 10th of April. preceded by the removal of tanks and other equipment, has led to reports that the action has been stepped up, with tanks only repositioned not withdrawn.  Pictures show the bodies from an execution lying on a pavement with a pock marked wall behind them.   The world can only wait!

The latest news suggests that the Assad government will not honour the ceasefire unless the rebels give up all their weapons.  Recent history suggests this is A. unlikely, and B. unwise.

4th April. Following the ban on displaying tobacco products in retailers there has also appeared a lobby to remove all the advertising and names from the actual packets.  In the same breath alcoholic drinks were mentioned, these to by followed by fast food products.   It won’t be long before you require a very good memory before further enhancing your efforts to get lung cancer, liver disease or even more obese!   There is a noise from the same source that it was wrong to let McDonalds and Pepsi Cola be sponsors the Olympics!

Reference the riots of last summer, the man convicted of setting fire to the House of Reeves carpet shop and its apartments above; causing £3 million of damage and forcing occupants to leap from a first floor window, has been sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.   He had been seen looting Iceland and House of Fraser before asking a fellow looter to give him a light to torch the premises.   With 20 previous convictions, including armed robbery, he showed no emotion as he was led away.

There seems to be some hope that a settlement of the tankers dispute may be in sight. What will we do (safely) with all those cans of fuel in the garage?

I note that an estimated reduction of 40% of Brits eat out now.   They site poor service and hidden charges for such things as bread and unasked for bottled water.   Some are or were, spending £120 for a meal for two with wine.   I think terminal indigestion would result for me if I received a bill of those proportions.   And don’t forget the tip!!

A TV program the other night showed the lengths that Romanian con men will go to obtain card details and pin numbers at ATM machines.   Everything from fitting false fronts to the machines that scan and record the details with a camera or someone looking over your shoulder to collect your pin, or retain your card for them to recover when you go to report the loss.   Shipments of  blank fake cards were confiscated and arrests made, only for substitute crooks to fill in at once.   Another group from the same EU. country have been sentenced for robbing late night train passengers who fell asleep on their way home.   Millions of pounds are being sent back home to the Mr Bigs in Romania, who are seemingly untouchable.   A different type of foreign aid I suppose.

It is reported, that despite lapses from both sides in Syria; following the UN cease fire, a group of observers are going into the country.   All Volunteers I hope!   There has been some gunfire and the heavy arms have not been entirely removed.

A group of residents met the local press on the A405 to voice their displeasure at the removal of the number 8 Arriva bus service from the A405.    A link to Mount Vernon and the lower High Street is lost and the company did not bother to put a notice at the stops effected reference the removal of service.   For some, the stairs up and down either side of the underpass are a step to far.

12th April. The April KRA Newsletter contains a report on the AGM  held last month.Many local grouses resulted from the early discussions including the failure to replace No Cycling signs removed no doubt by cyclist’s, who took no notice of them when they were there anyway.  The steps to the Greenwood Drive underpass that are still barricaded despite Herts County promises to make them usable.  A number of people did not like the street lights being extinguished at midnight for security reasons and were unhappy that no detail had been made available on the spate of brake-ins that occurred over Christmas, particularly reference time of day and mode of entry etc. As mentioned earlier some arrests have been made but no detail is available of these either.

The officers were thanked for their services during the last year and most of them will again give their services this year.  An exception being the Social committee who have suffered a general lack of interest and forced cancellations.  They felt they could not carry on under these circumstances and were thanked for their many years successful service.

A KRA co-organised Diamond Jubilee event to mark the 60 years of our Queens reign will involve the three local schools and Jane Robson from the Baptist Church, and will take place on the Junior School playing field on June 1st.

These items are only a brief synopsis of the meeting.  Refer to the April Newsletter for more detail. Or better still volunteer to become a street rep, or Treasurer, or even Chairman!

A report on 18th.April. claims the International Monetary Fund have acknowledged the Euro is teetering on the brink of collapse.  Such comments as “possible disorderly default” and deep flaws” are being made as it is claimed that that Spain could soon be asking for a multi million pound bail out following in the footsteps of Greece, Portugal, and Ireland.   It warned that a euro meltdown would make 2008 credit crunch seem small indeed. “Devastating” was the word used.

Another report, from Harvard this time, so it must be pukka, claims that if we don’t worry and are happy and always look on the bright side we will halve our risk of a heart attack.  It is claimed that persons with a positive outlook will exercise, have a more healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, have lower blood pressures and be less obese! I wonder which comes first, cause or effect?

With assurances from Jordan that he will receive proper treatment in his trial for plotting bomb attacks there, Cleric Qatada, who has been deemed a national security risk in the UK, and Bin Laden’s right hand man in Europe can now be deported.  The end of the month has been given as the time of his deportations.  Having been here since 1993 when he arrived with a false passport and had his deportation quashed on more than one occasion I think we should wait and see.

Another strike, this time by health workers, is promised for next month.   Paying more, working longer and receiving less is what they are objecting to.  It looks as though these less than palatable facts are unavoidable in an economy that is very sick, and could get a lot sicker.

The “orns” drew again last night to bring their total points to date to 60.   In 13th position in the table there is no possibility of a play-off place but they have produced a better overall performance than many thought, with no money and the loss of some of their best players and Manager.

The man who killed a pensioner with a single blow; whilst the victim was attempting to put out a fire set in a bin during the riots of last year, has been jailed for 8 years for manslaughter.  The teenage killer left the victim; fatally wounded, to die, whilst he resumed looting shops and attacking police.  His mother; who cut up the distinctive sweatshirt he was wearing in the attack was given 18 months for perverting the course of justice.  The victim had suffered a fractured skull and died three days later.  The victim’s sister has said she forgives the assailant, and prays he will turn over a new leaf!

19th April saw the 2,062 fuel tanker drivers refusing the settlement negotiated by their union; and the companies they drive for, at ACAS last week.  With an average current wage of £45k pa they can possibly afford to “overwhelmingly” reject the offer; whatever it may have been that satisfied their union.

22nd April. Saw the Grand Prix run in Bahrain to a background of riots by the Shia majority against their Sunni rulers. Much throwing of petrol bombs and rocks resulted with claims of heavy handed retaliation during which one man died.  Despite the demands and counter demands that the race be cancelled it was run without a problem on the track, and Sebastien Vettal and his Red Bull team won it.

People are still dying in Syria despite the presence of the UN observers.  There appears a lot more mileage in this alleged despot, and much mistrust shown by both factions.

The petrol tanker drivers threatened strike has not gone away. The Union “Unite” has this time unanimously voted to reject a revised offer following further negotiations.   It was the drivers that rejected the last one!   Other statements from associated bodies suggest the aims are not solely directed in an improvement on the £45k pa current wage and health and safety considerations. Watch this space!

By the weekend of 28th April we have preliminary figures showing that the UK in is “double dip”, that is back in recession, we did not even achieve the modest recovery expected. “The spending cuts are to blame”; says one lobby, “we must spend”!  With apparently little money in the consumer’s pockets this would require them to borrow; which contributed considerably to the problems in 2008.   Many people are still paying back their debts now, or not paying them; just the interest.   There must be a mid-way between cuts in everything and the Lemming like rush to get in debt; because it is only on the card, not real money!   UK. Ltd in so far in debt as a nation that the fact some of the other EU Countries are a sight worse off does not give much comfort.

It was hinted during the week that the EU are working on contingency plans for Greece to go back to the Drachma. They could then devalue and become poorer, but more competitive.   Not enough thought went into inviting countries to join the economic union when it was obvious there was such a disparity between their economies and those of the big boys such as Germany. It is still going on, “never mind the quality, feel the width”.   I am sure there are as many answers as there are people to voice them; the only thing missing is the right answer. If such a thing exists?   In the mean time don’t throw away your old Drachma’s, Peseta’s, Escudo’s, Lira, and even possibly your Punt’s.  They may come back into fashion.

The conflict still continues in Syria with bomb blasts and shootings accounting for many deaths and injuries on both sides.  Past experience has shown that UN resolutions and sending in men in Blue Berets does not always have the calming effect intended.   The government claims the UN observer’s favour the rebels, the protestors counter claim that they ignore the atrocities carried out in front of them.   The alternative, once diplomacy has failed, is in the realm of nightmares!   We have had a few of those in recent years, none of which have produced a really lasting result; and in some cases, no result at all.

28th April and the end of the Championship season.  The ‘orns have finished with 64 points and 11th place after a 2-1 win in their last home game; a lot better than many predicted at the beginning of the season.   Reading and Southampton have gone up to the Premiership.

Despite the driest last two winters for years we have had the wettest April since the 17 hundreds.   Last night the rain was accompanied by high winds that have caused all sorts of damage to garden sheds and fences and to newly leafed shrubs.   We still have the hose pipe ban though.   The rain has come at the wrong time of year apparently!

May 2012.

The 1st May has us recovering from torrential rain and a thunderstorm during the night, which followed a lovely warm Monday.   There are flood warnings all over the south and many rivers have burst, or are about to burst their banks.   At least the weather is coming from the south east and not the north as it has been for a week or so.

Postal rates have just risen by 30% for 1st Class Mail from 46p to 60p, whilst 2nd Class has gone from 36p to 50p, a rise of 39%. The Post Office claim they have seen a 25% fall in mail levels since 2006 and have lost £1bn in the last four years.   By personal experience this is not the only thing they have lost.   I can’t see these massive hikes improving profitability, quite the reverse I suspect. More and more Christmas greetings will be sent by electronic means and posted letters will be something to forget; like analogue TV and reasonably priced petrol!

It would appear that 99% of the rain that goes down our drains finishes up via rivers, in the sea!   The claim is that the water authorities do not manage and store the water that is available throughout the year.   This year it has amounted to twice as much rain as in the long term average for April so the sea must be nearly full up!   The amount of water that can be taken from the rivers is strictly regulated, despite the fact they may be in flood.

The Environmental Dept have said that street standpipes are “more likely” next year if we have yet another dry winter.   Another snippet of news from the TV.    Thames Water admits to loosing between 25% & 30% of their treated water in leaks.   Other authorities are not much better.

8th May. The last week has seen wall to wall elections both local and continental.   All of which may have an effect on us.   In the local version the Conservatives lost a seat to Labour but the Lib Dems still have a 11 seat majority over the other parties.   Nationally the Lib Dems took a pasting and the Conservatives did not fare so well either.   The successful party was definitely Labour.

Boris Johnson was re-elected as Mayor of London beating his rival, ex Mayor Ken Livingston by a small majority after a fairly dirty and bad tempered campaign.

In France Sarkozy is old news. The new President is Francois Hollande who is a lot nearer the left and may well be a thorn in the flesh of German Chancellor Merkel. He describes himself as “a normal guy” which must put him at a severe disadvantage to start with in a group of far from normal EU leaders. He has said he wants to renegotiate for France fiscal arrangements in the EU and its national debt. Angela Merkel seem to not have heard him.  He is already making noises about embarking on a spending policy.

In Greece the ruling coalition has been removed and efforts are being made to form another one, with a position much farther to the left.   The party that won the most votes was unable to form an alliance and with a complicated voting system that is not easy to fathom; the leading party gets bonus points, the probable leader Alexis Tsipras has said he will be “anti barbaric austerity”.   Beggars and choosers seems an appropriate comment?   He also talks of a policy of spending (spending what?), and not paying back their already enormous debt. Who thought they would anyway?

As may have been expected the European market values fell at the election news in both countries.   There seems not very much that will make it rise at the moment.   See my previous comment reference redundant European currency notes. They could still do a reappearing act!

On a lighter note it was announced by the FA that Roy Hodgson is to become the New England manager.   This news flies in the face of public opinion. All the pointers were to the selection of  Spurs Harry Rednapp, rumour has it that he also saw an offer in the pipeline.   The general comments in the press have been generally uncomplimentary at best and downright personal and rude at worst.   It would be nice to see him and his new team successful; after all he has not come in on the crest of a wave.   The only way is up. We hope!

11th May. News of two car bombs in Damascus killing 55 people and a thwarted attempt by a suicide bomber in Aleppo to detonate 2,640 lbs of explosive has reminded the world that the Syrian ceasefire is in name only.   The 150 UN observers observed! There is little else they can do.   With both sides denying responsibility the Aleppo attempt was allegedly carried out by a non Syrian national, which is in its self must be ominous.

The latest KRA News Letter announces the cancellation of the Jubilee Party that was to held in the school playing fields on June 1st. Lack of ideas and help from residents and lack of time for preparation were sited as the reasons. Perhaps next time round?

As far as is known at present the Fern Way Party is still up and running. Several lady residents are working hard to get the rest of us slackers to join in. More strength to their tea pots and jelly moulds! An ambitious program has been issued and a prayer for good weather proffered.

The 12th May saw the most exciting culmination of the Premier League ever. With Manchester United and City going into their last games level on points but with the latter having a better goal average. With the end of normal time United were winning and City one goal down. In the five minutes of added time City scored twice and took the Premiership. The first time in 44 years they had been top dogs.

News on the 16th May from Greece is that the top three parties have been unable to form a coalition government and a new election will almost certainly result. It still seems likely that despite virtually everyone that was asked still wishing to retain the Euro they all said they should not adopt the financial restrictions set by Brussels and the IMF on their massive loans. Having their cake and eating it?

With the new French President meeting the German Chancellor for the first time yesterday the dialogue for a watered down version of the French austerity measures has begun. The French may well succeed where the Greeks fail.

A “hair on the back of the neck” instance on Saturday 19th May. A loud noise in the sky above Fern Way heralded the passage of the Red Arrows, in formation, and trailing red white and blue smoke. Only minutes earlier they had passed over the Queen watching at Windsor Castle. She was viewing an armed forces display as a warm up to her June Jubilee celebrations. The evening news showed a formation of other planes spelling out E 11 R across the sky. We can certainly do pageantry and pomp and display!

Another exciting football match this evening. Chelsea – the underdogs, travelled to Munich to play Bayern Munich on their home turf in the final of the Champions League Cup. Coming back from a goal down with a Drogba header of the highest quality the game was level after extra time and went to penalties. Against a German team – no chance!  Drogba scored the winner! I am not a Chelsea supporter by any manner of means but it was a gripping game and a great result.

The 20th.May saw a quite severe earthquake in Northern Italy. Several residents were killed and a lot of damage to property occurred.

22nd May and summer is here. Well it is at the moment and promised to last for a few days. Most things feel a little bit better for some sun and warmth.

Even more top level talks on the Euro crisis. The UK seems to have the backing of the IMF on its policies but Greece, and now France are the main dissenters and want to spend their way out of trouble. Here inflation has dropped to its lowest level for two years, but on the downside for those who have pensions and good news for those who have mortgages, the IMF boss has suggested the bank base rate should be reduced to zero. Where ever next?

23rd May. A ruling by the Strasbourg human rights judges has directed Britain to give prisoners the vote or face millions of pounds of compensation to the convicts. An overwhelming vote in Parliament last year against this concession will now be put to the test. Can the UK govern itself or not? The result should be interesting.

The 26th May and the sun is still shining brightly. It has been the longest period of brightness and warmth for ages. The plants and trees that were loathe to makem an effort have leapt into action. No frost now. Please!

The news from Syria is dire. A massacre of 100 plus civilians including 50 children, has taken place in a village named al-Houla northwest of Homs. Condemned by the UN. General Robert Mood. The head of the UN Supervision Mission has said,” “Whoever started, whoever responded and whoever contributed to this deplorable act of violence should be held responsible”. “This indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force is unacceptable and unforgivable.”   Unfortunately, although all the pointers must be to the Government forces of Basher al-Assad, no one can be sure who was the perpetrator or responder, apparently not even those same observers.   The violence is spilling out into the Lebanon. With their recent problems I’m sure they don’t want anymore.

England won their first football match under Roy Hodgson beating Norway 0-1. It was a lacklustre mistake ridden game with far from the full team involved for various reasons. I have said before, “the only way is up”, this was perfectly illustrated by last nights performance!

Another bit of UK pride went down the drain at the 2012 European Song Contest held in Baku Azerbaijan last night. Our entry, a gutsy ballad sung by 76 year old Engelbert Humperdinck took him to 25th place out of 26 contestants. Sweden won with a group of Russian Grannies coming second.

What a choice on the TV. England v Norway at football or the UK v most everybody else in Europe at the song contest. That’s what DVD’s were invented for.

The general consensus is that Greece will not stay with the Euro and contingency plans are being made by our government for the expected influx of a fair proportion of the disaffected Greeks into the UK. “It won’t be allowed” they say. If recent events are anything to go by then the border control plans still need quite a lot of work.

A Moldovan illegal immigrant deported three years ago arrived back in the UK, obtained a National Insurance number and work permit and crashed his Volvo into the rear of a pair of pensioner’s car at 100 mph on New Year’s Day, killing them both. This after a “prolonged, persistent and deliberate course of very bad driving”. Jailed for 9 years, he will face deportation on his probably early release. For how long this time one wonders?

The Olympic flame which arrived at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall just over a week ago following its flight from Greece escorted by royalty, (Princess Anne and David Beckham), has been to the top of Snowdon carried by Chris Bonington who surely is more used to something a bit higher. K1 and Everest for instance. I happen to know he carried it only to the summit, the rest of the journey was via the train!

Still a few more miles, 60 days and a lot more celebrities before the flame arrives in London on the 27th July for the opening of the games. The nearest it gets to Kingswood is on day 51 (8th July, “to be confirmed before visiting”) when it will travel from Hemel Hempstead to St. Albans along the A414.

29th May. Some of Scotland and Alex Salmond continue their attempts at devolution from the UK. Apparently at least one third of them say yes, and half currently still say no.

Another earthquake in Northern Italy has again caused damage and deaths.

With continuing loss of life and alleged atrocities in Syria they have suffered a storm of diplomatic protest. More than a dozen nations, including Britain and America have expelled Syrian ambassadors or formally complained to it’s envoys following last week’s massacre and summary executions. Kofi Annan the UN envoy has met el-Assad and told him that Syria is at a “tipping point”. The World waits.

On 30th. May, the sun is still shining although the temperatures have dropped considerably from last weeks 28 degrees centigrade.

Another near unbelievable PC interference seen in the papers today is the removal of the word “Dad” from a NHS pregnancy handbook. The reason, would you believe, is in order to not give offence to Gays and Lesbians. It is reported that the move is not as a result of any lobbying from the possibly “may be offended” parties. An alternative name was not offered and the PC options are frightening. At the moment this latest gem is confined to Scotland. I started to make comments but thought it prudent to leave them unsaid in case I offend almost anybody!

June 2012.

Saturday 2nd June. and the first of a four day Bank Holiday days. Pouring with rain of course and a lot more promised for tomorrow. With the Jubilee celebrations in progress I suppose we could have had a bet on the weather.

England beat Belgium at Wembley one nil in the second and last friendly before the European finals start next week. Not very impressive again in my opinion.

Comments are being made both sides of the Atlantic reference the necessity of military intervention in Syria where people are still dying by the dozen. This is one of those situations where recent history shows that there is little likelihood of a satisfactory result where forced regime change is attempted. Who would be the politician making this decision?

The 3rd of June. saw the real start to the Queens 60th Jubilee celebrations with a spectacular river pageant on the Thames. It had to pour with rain of course otherwise it would not have been a genuine British event.   My lasting memory of the occasion was seeing the royal party Queen included, bobbing up and down but with style and restraint as the London Philharmonic played the Sailors Hornpipe on a barge under the Royal stand.

On the 4th June we had a street party in Fern Way. Despite being fairly cold and with one heavy rain shower it went off perfectly. We met lots of people and had lots of chats together with a quiz, sing song and a marvellous supply of cakes. Well done to those that took the trouble to organise the event.

In the evening the Victoria monument outside Buckingham Palace became a stage for a superb Pop concert with laser shows on the palace frontage and a spectacular fireworks display to end the proceedings. A special day all-round.

Yesterday, (5th June) the last of the 4 day Bank Holiday, the queen travelled from the Mansion House to Buckingham Palace in her State coach in front of a rapturous crowd lining the way. After a while the estimated one million plus spectators were allowed to filter onto the Mall and work their way around to the Palace gates where after awhile the Royal Party came onto the balcony. The scenes of joy and enthusiasm were a pleasure to see. A flypast along the Mall of World War 11. planes was followed by The Red Arrows in single Chevron formation trailing Red White and Blue smoke.

Anyone who was not moved by the whole thing I feel sorry for.    GOD SAVE OUR QUEEN.

The Duke of Edinburgh had been absent for two days due to an infection. Perhaps he was watching proceedings on the TV. His name had been spontaneously chanted on the previous day at the concert.

Torrential rain and strong winds have caused some damage overnight (8th June), surface water courses and reservoirs are recovering to their near normal levels but the underground aquifers are still far from full. The hose pipe ban continues! Earlier this week a Thames Water 24” main burst and flooded out a section of the underground. How many hours of garden sprinkler operation did that equate to?

The situation in Syria appears to worsen by the day. Further massacres have occurred and Kofi Annan has proposed sanctions via the UN but both Russia and China object. The present state of affairs is definitely a no win situation for one party or the other, it can’t go on, but how is it to be stopped? A sectarian Civil war is now being mentioned as a possible outcome.

I understand it likely that the KRA has a new Chairwoman elect. More information when it comes to hand.

It’s still pouring with rain and its June 11th. Spain has asked for and received the promise of 81 billion Euros from Brussels to bail out its banks. This is being hailed as a “Victory” by some and the comment, “if this is a victory…… we don’t want to see a defeat” from others. The effect on the rest of Spain’s economy is beyond my financial understanding, (and possibly theirs), but there remains the question of a bigger national debt and possibly of ever paying it back?

Ireland are seeking up to 100 billion Euros to refinance their own banks, and Greece, having received several bailouts are both looking at what they see as better terms offered to Spain. And so it goes on!   Other financial news sees some German Banks having their credit rating reduced.

I should mention we have had severe floods and several flood warnings are still in operation for the South. Wales had the worst event where a caravan park was washed away. These events are becoming so run of the mill that they almost don’t rate as news anymore.

Cyprus is looking the next in line for an EU bail out request. It’s the banks again! It must be difficult to accept your bonus with one hand whilst seeking a bail out with the other. Perhaps the whip and carrot ratio is as unreliable as the banking policies appear to be?

A new Chairwoman was elected unanimously at last nights KRA Committee Meeting. The Association having been Chairless for well over a year, Elizabeth Norton who is a Deputy Head Teacher with science as her speciality will have a clean board on which to draw her plans. I trust she will enjoy her occupation of the top table.

There was further action set up reference Arriva’s decision to remove the Number 8 bus from its route serving the estate. Many complaints have prompted a meeting at the Town Hall on Wednesday between the Arriva management and our County and Local Councillors. Those that have lost their connections to the Lower High Street and Mount Vernon will be interested to hear the result.

England played their first game in the European Championship to a 1-1 draw with France. There were no real fireworks with a careful rather than explosive approach. We really need an inspiring effort to lift a rather flat UK mind set.

Nearing the 30th anniversary of the end of the war following the invasion of the islands by the Argentineans the Falkland Island residents are to hold a referendum on remaining British. The Argentineans are taking their claims for sovereignty to the United Nations.

On Thursday 14th June. it was reported that the Royal Mail, who have recently put up the cost of stamps by an enormous amount have told some city centre businesses in Doncaster not to expect deliveries if it is raining. A postman slipped on a wet pavement the other day. “Come and collect your own post from the sorting office” they were told. What other utilities and services will follow this lead? Police or Firemen perhaps.

The plans for the Treasury to loan banks £140b to enable them to increase the number of loans to businesses and the construction industry have met with mixed responses. If past experience is taken into consideration then the banks ability to make sensible and secured loans must be somewhat suspect. And it’s our money too!

Two countries have elections this weekend that have potentially momentous effects.

Egyptians vote for a new government and the two choices are, according to some observers, a choice between the lesser of two evils. That should produce an interesting result!

Meanwhile Greece will attempt to break the election deadlock reached last month. The several party leaders do not inspire a great degree of confidence and depending on the winner, if there is one, will determine if we see the Drachma back and possibly a lot of Greeks in the UK. It will not happen say’s the our government! No?

16th June. England beat Sweden last night 3-2. An exciting if not particularly skilful game. One up at half time they did their usual trick of gifting a couple of soft goal to the Swedes before scoring two themselves to give them a good chance of reaching the knockout stages of the European Championships.

The Queens Official birthday was celebrated with the Trooping of the Colour on Horse guards Parade. Another splendid spectacle with thousands of enthusiastic spectators. It really is a good year for the royalists with lots of opportunities to see our obviously loved monarch.

It is the London bus drivers turn to jump on the Olympic bandwagon. Their Union Unite, who have already forced bonuses for the Underground workers with strike threats have told reporters that their members are incensed and adamant that they will strike to disrupt the surface transport system before and during the games if they don’t get extra money. Others are getting cash, so why not us?

Whilst on the subject of strikes, our GP’s are to strike next Thursday because they are unhappy with their pension arrangements. With a very generous salary and good conditions and pensions many, many times greater than those most of us could expect, then there must be another motive. Or is there?

19th June. saw England progress to the quarter finals of the UEFA cup. They beat the Ukraine 1-0. This may well have been the game to force “Goal line technology” legislation. The ball was definitely over the line for an equaliser but the forth official, 5 Yards away, did not see it. I have yet to see these extra officials make a decision of any kind. England play Italy in the first knockout round at the weekend and will have to play a lot better to get through his one.

20th of June. and Greece has a new three party coalition government led by the New Democracy Party. We are told the aim will be to renegotiate the terms for the bailout but austerity is part of their plan. Another chance for a coalition to work?

The longest day of the year, 21st June. And the two day summer is over. Quite a lot of rain again during the night.

The GP’s strike today, the London Busmen strike tomorrow. Where am I on the rota?

Our Prime Minister is going out of his way to refute the claims of his Argentinean counterpart over the Falklands. He walked away when she waved UN papers in front of his face.    Let the Islanders decide in their referendum next year he says.

A rating agency Moody’s has reduced the credit rating of three UK based banks. Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays. It is not clear what effect it will have on us but you can bet your life it won’t be generally advantageous. The reason given was their exposure to escalating the Euro zone crisis. A Treasury minister has said we may be looking at another decade of austerity. That’s good news then?

The 24th June. has seen a further escalation of the atrocities being carried out in Syria. Hundreds are still dying and  a Turkish warplane has been brought down in the Med.

England are out of Euro 2012. After a very one sided goalless first 90 minutes plus extra time against Italy they missed two penalties in the resulting shootout. Any other result would have been a travesty of justice. The end of another dream.

On the subject of Football, it would seem that the Pozzo family, Italian owner of Udinese and Granada in Spain are expressing interest in buying the Hornets. Seems a bit up in the air at the moment. The new sponsor for the club is “Happy Eggs”. I can’t think at the moment of any publishable comment!

The 28th June. sees yet another financial/banking scandal reported by the UK Financial watchdog as “serious and widespread” misconduct; for which Barclays Bank were fined £290 million for manipulating key bank interest rates which affected the cost of mortgages and loans. (And profit). Apparently this has been happening for years and has become “accepted culture” amongst the banking fraternity. Bonuses could also be affected and a message to a colleague to call in a favour could make for considerable personal financial gain. Barclays are apparently not the only big bank implicated and what to me seems at the very least dishonest, and that is being very kind, has left plenty of proof via emails and instant messaging to back up the manipulation.

Where have the financial control agencies been? The Bank of England seemed to be aware, or at least they are now. Is this another of those situations where the boss was the last to know? We have had more than enough of those recently. The Chief Executive and three other Barclays executives are to give up their bonuses. This will save millions but not the integrity of the banking system!   I’ll end this item by quoting the published comment of the Bank of England governor who has called for a change in the UK’s banking culture, saying the customer has received “shoddy and deceitful” treatment.

On another front the City Regulator has said the four main banks have agreed to pay compensation for selling misleading and inappropriate deals to 28,000 small business customers who thought they were buying interest rate insurance. And so it goes on. The Prime Minister says we should go back to “good old fashioned banking”, whatever that is. It must be a better option than that seen now by everyone bar the banking boss’s and financial agencies!

 The weather in the North East and Midlands has been atrocious with golf ball sized hailstones and torrential rain which has flooded everything and broken the rail link between the North West of England and Scotland due to subsidence. A newsreel shot of lightning striking the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle is frighteningly awesome.   At the moment we are running at the second wettest June since recording began. We are not into July yet and the hosepipe ban is still on, even if you can find it under the flood water!

30th June. Egypt has its first civilian democratically elected president following the closely contended recent elections, he is Mohammed Mursi who leads The Muslim Brotherhood.    It remains to be seen if the old government military forces will work with him.

The sports pages confirm the sale of Watford FC to the Italian Pozzo family for £20m. Gianfranco Zola will hold talks with the club. It seems the Italians are taking an active roll in their new acquisition. I wonder what that means in real terms.

In Syria the killings go on. Kofi Annan has reached an agreement for a transitional government which will include all parties but no decision has been reached on what role the present President al-Assad will play. They should arrange free elections say’s Kofi Annan. Russia still insists that Assad should not be forced to quit. With the proviso that the new government should be formed on the basis of “mutual consent” we can only cross our fingers for its success.

July 2012.

1st July. Spain, as holders, won Euro 2012 by beating Italy 4-0. They completely dominated their opponents and look to be a continuing force in world football.

3rd. July. The Chief Executive has joined several other top managers by resigning his post with Barclays Bank following the disclosure of serious and widespread misconduct by share price dealers.

June has been officially declared the wettest since records were started. With an average of twice the usual monthly rainfall over the country and a lot more than that in several areas.

4th July. and some more news on the Big Banks Scam. Bob Diamond (ex Barclays boss) is to be grilled by MPs today but on the good side he is in with a chance of a £23m pay off. So it’s not all bad news for him then, is it? Members of both main parties are now allegedly implicated in the scandal if the papers are to be believed, details of which should come out via the Parliamentary inquiry that is to take place immediately. This story will run for a while yet, unless other bigger instances of “cynical greed”, “culture of cynical entitlement”, “crisis of trust and reputation” supersede it. These last quotes are from several published sources and were made by The City Watchdog Chief and Lord Turner of the Financial Services Authority. There are of course other damning comments available!

I should have mentioned last week that another Banking group RBS, Nat West and the Ulster Bank in particular in particular this time, had a computer glitch that meant salaries were not paid into accounts and withdrawals could not be made, in some cases payments were made twice. Apparently some customers are still not receiving proper service.

It’s still raining quite a lot and play at Wimbledon continues to be interrupted. Some of the woman are still screaming and grunting with every shot whenever they do get the chance to play. Or so I am told! Andy Murray won his quarter final match with hardly a grunt!

6th June. There are currently 100 flood alerts across the country with a promise that it will be the wettest day of the year with a months rain likely to fall in 24 hours. Our area seems to be a little less likely to receive the worst of it but it has been pouring nearly all morning.   The abnormal Jet Stream air flow route that is causing the bad weather is projected to last throughout the summer. The Olympics organisers will view this news with delight I’m sure.

9th July. Libya has held its first free elections. Like other Middle East first timers it is “suck it and see” as to the final outcome. A step in the right direction though.

I have been researching the actual meaning of “Coalition”, prompted by the news that the two parties forming our government seem to be less “joint action in a common cause” and more “if you don’t cooperate we will not support etc”. How two parties can agree over a period of time when they had both put forward very different manifestos at the General Election has always seemed a bit unlikely to me. It certainly does not appear to be a sum of strengths, more a cancelling out exercise.

Andy Murray lost his Wimbledon singles final. Federer made his win a total of seven. A very good effort by Murray but not quite good enough, it had been a long time since a Brit had even reached the final. There is always next year.

This weekend sees the launch of the KRA Website by Mayor Dorothy Thornhill. There have been a lot of setbacks over the past several years since it was decided the KRA should have a site and if it is any consolation the previous failures have been for a number different reason on each of four occasions. If it had not been for Ken Emmons efforts and persistence the project would have died a long time ago. My history/social comment efforts have been continued regardless of the lack of a forum and it will be interesting to see if they have been worthwhile!

The hose pipe ban has been lifted at last. Our area was amongst the last to lose it.

Several so called medical breakthroughs have been reported recently. Get rid of your flu in two hours with a Potent Nasal spray; the Man flu variant is not yet curable: eat what you want and lose fat with a pill: live to be 130 years old, and several other life changing discoveries. That’s if you are a Rat. They have not been proved or approved for us humans yet.

The ex Barclays CEO has voluntarily waived £18m of severance benefits and will take a years salary plus pension accrued. He also acknowledged that Barclays reputation had been “dragged through the mud” for which he apologised.

11th July. Gianfranco Zola has been appointed the new Watford FC Manager. Sean Dyche, who did such a good job when thrown in the deep end following the mass exodus of players and manager last year, has gone. That we are still in the Championship is very much down to his management of a thin staff and no money. He deserves a big vote of thanks.

13th July. Reports of another massacre of 200 plus residents of a small village in Syria have prompted condemnations from Kofi Annan and most other countries. With apparently no ideas on how to end the conflict the killings continue. The UN mandate runs out next week and no other plans have been made public.

14th July. and this web site was launched. Not by Mayor Dorothy Thornhill; who was stuck on the M25, but by Councillor Keith Crout, who was not!   Little to report on the actual launch, we now wait to see if anybody logs on to this self financing effort, and what feedback, if any, results.

It is now, on the 16th of July, only 11 days to the opening of the 2012 London Olympic Games on the 27th of this month.   Rather late in the run up it has been admitted by the private company contracted to provide security personnel that they are miles off their target numbers and 3,500 soldiers and additional police have been drafted in to make up the considerable shortfall. Even after several assurances that they had more than enough applicants last Wednesday’s meeting with the Home Secretary was told they were not going to be able to meet their contractual arrangements. The company CEO has apologised! Does that make it alright then?

The competing athletes start to arrive today. Many will enter the country through Heathrow where long delays at immigration have occurred recently. Add to these the people coming to watch and we will see if the problems that I have personally experienced have been overcome.   The M4 motorway linking Heathrow to London has had emergency repairs to cracks and is up and running again, together with some of its GAMES ONLY driving lanes.

The London bus driver’s strikes are suspended whilst the Union considers a new offer for carrying the extra passengers in London for the games. The offer seems to be £587 for most drivers with £700 for those from busy depots.

Security precautions from aerial attack have upset a few people who objected to having anti aircraft installations on their apartment block roofs. The Royal Navy’s largest vessel is moored in the Thames to provide 8 Lynx helicopters and support for Royal Marine and RAF Regiment armed personnel. With three supersonic Typhoon fighters based at Northolt it must be seen that the Government is taking security against attack very seriously indeed. What a world we live in!

Syria continues to see heavy clashes between protestors and the government forces, in Damascus this time. The Russians and Chinese will not support any action that they see as forced regime change so stalemate is maintained. This said, what are the options? I, along with most it would appear, have no idea. Iraq and Afghanistan have hardly been a shining examples of intervention.

There was more news today on the Higgs Boson or God particle as it has been called. This minute particle is believed to be the key to all matter, without which there would never have been a universe. It was born at the moment of the Big Bang we are told and ever since then has been hiding away. The scientists looking for it have built an underground particle accelerator shaped like a 27 Kilometre doughnut. In it they fire protons at the speed of light (or very nearly, I read) in opposite directions, to lose their no claims bonus with a head on collision in a chamber where all sorts of devices register when one Higgs Boson hits another Higgs Boson and releases a tiny flash of energy that lasts less time than can be sensibly measured.   The CERN doughnut device is called a Large Hadron Collider and it is situated under the Swiss French border at a depth of 100 metres. No doubt we will hear more of the eventual results obtained. I hope they don’t run out of Higgs Bosons first!

July 20th. and we have some more Bank scandal, HSBC this time. The accusation is that it was involved in money laundering and sanction busting, doing business with drug traders and with banks linked to terrorism.

The current Trade Minister (a peer) and past Chairman of HSBC, is being pressed by the Labour leader to answer to the House of Lords to the fact that he was aware of the banks involvements in 2005. The information came from a US Senate probe. This one will run a bit!

The threat of more strikes by London bus drivers is over. In addition to the offer made earlier they will split 50/50 the extra cash collected due to the additional passenger load during the games. Not to worry though, we are not entirely strike free. East Midlands/London train drivers are to stage three strikes from the 6th to the 8th of August which follow six days of strikes already held in a dispute over pensions. The action is being described by the company as “a kick in the teeth” for customer and the country. This last news came around the same time that Home Office border officials say they will also strike on 26th July; the eve of the games. With border controls already criticized this will not generate a lot of good will from the people flying in to the country to attend the opening of the Games.

I propose a new event, unique to these games in the UK. It will be named “Personal close range Adidas trainer shooting”. With only one entry, (us) and masses of practice it should guarantee a GB Gold!

The Hardware shop on the parade known as “Archer’s” has closed. The premises have been used for a similar purpose for as long as I have been in Kingswood and its closing will leave a hole for those little bits of last minute household needs on a Saturday afternoon. The original Charles Archer specialised in bikes in the day when they were most people’s main means of transport. I will not however be at all sorry to hear the last of that croaking Frog!

22nd of July. and news that British rider Bradley Wiggins has won the Tour De France. A first ever victory for a rider from England. After completing his 2,000 miles tour he will return to the UK to practice for his Olympic entry.

The Home Office have conceded they have lost track of or failed to deport up to 250,000 illegal immigrants who have been determined to have no right to stay in this country. This should guarantee some hefty Boss bonus’s. That seems to be how it works.

With the start of some of the football events prior to the big 2012 opening a South Korean Flag was displayed before the North Koreans played their game. They were not too happy and refused to play for over an hour. Wars have been caused by less! This could also have been the opening heat of Trainer shooting event!

26th July and the Home Office airport Immigration staff have lifted their strike threat for tomorrow for reasons not clear. Perhaps, but I doubt, it could have been related to the incident in Manchester where an 11 year old boy strolled away from his mother in a supermarket walked to the airport departure lounge and without ticket, boarding pass or indeed passport, boarded a plane bound for Italy. They sent him back the next day!

29th July. Last night saw the culmination of the Olympic torch relay. After a journey of 8,000 miles and 8,000 carriers who ranged from sport and other personalities to people from community services and just people, it finally reached the Olympic stadium via the State barge from Hampton Court and a speed boat for the final stage in the charge of David Beckham. It is claimed that in the flames 70 day journey after arriving at RNAF Culdrose in Cornwall it had been within one hour of 95% of the British public.

The opening ceremony was spectacular and innovative. The arena was covered in grass and resembled a rural “green and pleasant land” complete with farm animals and with Glastonbury Tor at one end. The entry of Isombard Kingdom Brunel and the industrial revolution saw big smoking factory chimneys rising from the ground and beam engines replaced the corn fields and sheep. This change took place in front of the audience which was estimated to be 1 billion worldwide.

The NHS scene included dozens of children in hospital beds and nurses taking care of them followed by the goulies and ghosties that haunt most children in the night in a strange bed. These visitors were chased off by a flight of umbrella carrying Mary Poppins. There were several children’s choirs to accompany the spectacular scenes.

James Bond in the shape of Daniel Craig visited Buckingham Palace to accompany the Queen, (the real Queen) via helicopter back to the arena, where they apparently leapt out and appeared to drop by parachute, her Majesty then appearing in the Royal Box!

Mr Bean was included in the Royal Philharmonic playing the piano in a rendition of Chariots of Fire. This seemed to please the Americans!

The lighting and effects were magnificent. I for one was delighted with the whole affair.

The athletes arrived and paraded the arena. 204 teams carried their flags and placed them on the Tor. They also took with them a copper funnel that was to be used later we were told.

We saw the flame arrive in the motor boat and it was collected by Steven Redgrave; he was one of the best bets for actually lighting the beacon but instead he handed it to a group of seven young athletes sponsored by some of the established performers and they carried it to the beacon.   The 204 copper funnels were by now attached to copper stems in the shape of an open flower and when lit the stalks expanded and rose upward to provide a spectacular beacon.

With the speeches made the games were on. I will leave others to describe the results. Except for any special British performances that is.

Following a very lengthy rendition of “Hey Jude” by Paul McCartney with the audience joining in, fireworks ended the ceremony that was devised by Danny Boyle and generally acclaimed as one of the best. There were of course one or two dissenters, but then we are British, aren’t we? My only concern was that much of the world would have known little of our industrial revolution. And quite right too!

The war in Syria is still killing hundreds with the main hostilities now being in Allepo its second and largest city. Helicopter gunships and heavy artillery are being deployed and claims and counter claims are being made by government and resistance forces. This is and continues to be a human disaster.

On the 30th July it was reported that 200,000 refugees have fled from Aleppo to escape the killing. A senior Diplomat has left the Syrian Embassy in protest against the killings.

It is a week since the spectacular opening events at the 2012 Olympic stadium and on this Saturday 4th August it has been another triumphant day for the Brits.   Six Gold medals have been achieved on this day eight: 3. in the Athletics, 2. in Rowing and 1. in Cycling. This makes the tally to date of 14 Gold’s and gives us third place in the medal table behind the USA and China. The feeling in the country appears to be lifted by the successes. There are more to come, I hope.

Our Woman’s and Men’s football teams have both been eliminated in the first knockout rounds of their respective competitions. For reasons unknown they both played well below their best. The men lost in a penalty shoot out which I think must be written in the rules somewhere.

The other news of the week has again been regarding the killings and atrocities in Syria.

Koffi Annan has quit as UN special Envoy as “finger pointing and name calling” among senior diplomats were making efforts for a peaceful settlement impossible.

The UN General Assembly has voted to condemn its own Security Council for failing to end the unrest in Syria as fighting rages. With China and Russia in particular opposing many moves the likelihood of success is not a healthy one.

August 2012.

Two times and distances are worth a mention today. 7th August.

In the Olympic Stadium Usain Bolt the Jamaican athlete has run a hundred metres in 9.63 seconds beating the Olympic record and winning the Gold.

The other journey was 350 million miles long and took eight and a half months to complete. The NASA’s rover vehicle named Curiosity has made a soft landing in the Gale Crater on the surface of Mars. Weighing in at one ton it was lowered the last few yards by wires from a jet powered hovering platform. The engineers are delighted and have received the first pictures. This is an epic event in space exploration.

In Syria several more top leaders including the Prime Minister have defected. The killings still go on.

8th August. The Bank of England has confirmed that their forecast of a very small growth in the economy for the last quarter was optimistic! In a double dip situation, heading for a treble, it seems very likely the Bank base rate will be cut next month. Apparently it was discussed this month. I am not sure how a zero interest rate works, but not to my benefit I bet.

Yet another bank, a new name this time, has been accused of arranging the finances of Iranian sanction busting deals. The US claim they have been put at risk to terrorist acts and drug and weapons deals. Named a “rogue institution”. The bank strongly rejects to the allegations made by the New York state departments Financial Services.

There seems to be nowhere to turn for sound and honest financial practises and the fact that this bank has seen its shares slump by 24% suggests that I am not the only one with those thoughts. The only problem with that is I don’t know if the share dealers can be trusted either.

12th August. A summary of the last week must be built mainly around the Olympic Games. They have taken over the UK, and in a nice way. People seem to be nicer in general and we are sharing in the athletes triumphs with some pleasure. Individual performances have been a real boost in a time when not much else in the country seems to go right.

Mo Farah’s 2 Gold medals were the track highlights and Gold’s in cycling, the boxing ring and on the water have been well earned and appreciated.   The first medal for a lady boxer was a delight. And so was her interview!

It was with some degree of disbelief that I read the BBC have issued an order to their staff to tone down their patriotic coverage of the games. The broadcasting staff has apparently been focussing too much on Team GB to the detriment of the cover for all the other nations!

I am grown up enough to not slander or libel important public servants but must remind those persons concerned that they work for the BBC. British Broadcasting Corporation that is! I don’t agree that the other countries efforts and successes have not been reported on fairly and the crowds have been extremely even handed.

I am also proud to be British but still rejoice in hard won successes of our competitors. I also sympathise with the losing competitors but unlike some agencies do not think that everyone should get a medal. I don’t see the USA and China playing down the fact that they have more medals than anyone else, nor should they!

The UK government is to provide £6m pounds of non lethal equipment aid to the Syrian rebels. I do hope that they do not find them used against us in a couple of year’s time ah la Afghanistan. How is the aid to be distributed?

The 15th August and the Games are over. The final night went down very well with the younger audience and there are only a few people who do not agree the whole affair has been a complete success.

Team BG finished with 29 Gold Medals and some epic performances. Only a few athletes have been caught abusing the drug code. Not as many in fact as those who disappeared before their teams returned to Africa.

The Post Office, or whatever they call themselves these days, have had a couple of bright ideas. A post box in every location where a Gold Medal winner lives has been painted Gold, and as each winner was awarded their gong a First Class stamp was issued with their picture holding a Union Jack. It is a shame that the stamp cost almost as much as the medal but the thought was there. A set will cost 29 times a first class letter postage. I think I will stick with my memories, they can’t be licked!

It has to be said that the weather was kind over the games period after a day or two of torrential rain. It looks to be on the way back to normal at the moment with gales and flood warnings back in the news.

Rail fare rises of up to 11% have been announced for the New Year. This will confirm the UK’s place as top of the rail travel cost league. Perhaps we could have a commemoration stamp for that as well.

The Standard Chartered Bank has agreed to pay £217m to the US as a settlement for allegations that it clandestinely processed £160b deals involving the Iranian government. The mind boggles!

I previously mentioned that the UK had currently given £280m in aid to India who have now announced a £50m project to put an unmanned spacecraft in orbit round Mars next year. I wish we could afford to go into space. But how would we pay for it?

With fuel prices on the rise again it is doubtful we would be able to afford to fill the tank even if we did build an orbiter or rover or whatever.

Prince Philip is in hospital again with an infection. He is of an age where things do tend to go wrong more frequently and has been advised to wind down a little. I wonder what kind of patient he is?

22nd August. and Prince Philip is out of hospital again. It would appear that he was still on goods terms with those seeing him off.

The Australian founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has taken refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. From here he holds press conferences arguing against his extradition to Sweden to answer charges of sexual assault. He is wanted in the USA and fears that his extradition would lead to his removal across the Atlantic.

Several South American countries back his action and all sorts of threats and counter threats are flying around. Why not just leave him where he is?

Ecuador’s President say’s Assange should respond to the Swedish charges but added, in his opinion they would not constitute criminal behaviour in Ecuador and any attempt to interfere with the Embassy could result in repercussions.  So there you are then! Why all the fuss? It certainly is not worth a diplomatic war. Why did he not seek asylum in his Australian Embassy and should our government not deduct the £50,000 per day that the extra policing is costing round the embassy from the not insubstantial financial aid given to the Ecuadorian government?

NASA has been very quiet about its Curiosity rover vehicle on Mars, but today there is news that it will attempt a drive around the crater in which it landed. It is to be hoped that they don’t discover the axles propped up on 6 pieces rock and the stereo missing. Although this could well go a long way in suggesting there indeed may be life on Mars.

The damage to a protruding wind sensor is thought to be due to debris blown up when the rocket platform lowered the rover and not to “Wing Mirror Syndrome”.

The Horns came unstuck last night on their first home game of the season after a great start with a late win at Crystal Palace on Saturday. Work in progress it would seem.

No mention of the weather as it has been almost normal over the last couple of weeks. It only gets a comment here because it poured down last night and the forecast for Bank Holiday Monday is not good at all. As I said, Normal!

Bank Holiday Saturday 25th August.

The mass murderer Anders Breivik has been ruled sane and thus guilty of the massacre of 77 Norwegian people; some by bomb outside a government office and 69 others, mainly young people, on an island where they were attending a rally. In addition 200 were injured. He refused to recognise the court and attempted to apologise to militant nationalist for not doing more but was interrupted by the court official. His sentence of 21 years has been greeted with both satisfaction and horror. He left the court with a stiff arm, clenched fist salute. I will not comment!

Who can forget; if they are  old enough to actually recall, the Moon landing of the 20th July 1969 when Neil Armstrong said to the waiting world as he set his first footprint on the moons surface, “One small step for man, one gigantic leap for mankind”. In a craft with less computing power than a modern mobile phone he navigated the flimsy lunar landing module to a flat spot on the surface with only seconds of fuel left. With Mars now in the news it has been announced that the hero of this Moon mission has died aged 82. His words = “Houston, Tranquillity Base here,” “The Eagle has landed.” are recorded in exploration history.

A torrential downpour with thunder and lightning just before the Horns beat Birmingham at Vicarage Road, a postponed game at Sunderland due to a flooded pitch and the game at Wycombe called off in the second half for safety reasons is perhaps an indication of the Bank Holiday weather so far.

Curiosity has not lost its wheels and continues to send back pictures of the Martian surface. A Daily Mail reader claims to have recognised a fossilised finger and an overturned shoe amongst the Mars rocks. I have never found a finger but have noticed dozens of single flip-flops on the beach whilst on holiday. I doubt there is a connection, but who knows as I don’t read the ‘Mail.

The 30th August and the opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympics Games in East London. With 166 competing nations the venues have a reported near sell out. 2.4 million have already been sold.

It is the biggest event so far in the history of the games which started in 1948 as a therapeutic exercise developed at Stoke Manderville Hospital for the; in those day’s, mainly spinal injuries patients, by pioneering neurologist Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann.

The flame, lit by Boy Scouts on mountain peaks throughout the UK was carried by relay via Stoke Mandeville to the Olympic arena and covered the last few yards in the hands of a very brave amputee Royal Marine Commando. Suspended on a zip wire from the Orbit Tower outside the stadium, he dropped 377 ft. to the floor of the arena. He had lost both his legs after stepping on a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. The torch was carried on by a visually impaired footballer and the lighting of the Cauldron was carried out by a lady who had won Britain’s first Gold medal in the 1960 Rome Paralympics games. The cauldron was a reduced version of the previous games to match the 166 competing nations.

The theme of the games is Enlightenment. If the ceremony is anything to go by, then the games will be fit for purpose! Stephen Hawking acted as guide on the portrayed journey; a sufferer from Motor Neurone disease he summed it all up with a call to challenge perceptions and stereotyping and “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet”.

There will be 17 days to witness the contestants following his ethos.

We have some new medical innovations. A pen like device will inject a tip, cooled by liquid nitrogen into a nerve that will make it hibernate and thus block out the pain signals from various chronic ailments. It is still under evaluation so we will have to continue keep our stiff upper lip and curse under our breath for a while longer.

In the meantime it has determined by a research team in America that four cups of coffee a day will reduce the incidence of Bowel Cancer.

Everybody over 50 should take Statins say’s an imminent Professor from Cambridge. With a claimed reduction of 10,000 fewer heart attacks a year, health watchdogs have reminded us that the side effects, including memory loss should not be forgotten! A bar of chocolate will help to reduce the risk of that stroke by as much as 39% is a claim made by the Guardian.

A large supermarket chain has been branded irresponsible for their cheap chocolate sales by anti obesity campaigners. Now there’s a choice for you! There must be a balance that sees the increase in stroke risk due to being fat balanced out by the reduction factor of the one bar a day regime. It may be easier to take up red wine drinking instead of doing the maths, but not necessarily healthier.

Marmite has been declared as a possible key to beating the deadly super bug MRSA. Niacin (vitamin B3) has been found to boost the body’s defences against Staphylococcus bacteria and improve the immune system. But it must be spread thinly! The news did not state if it should be spread on the infection or on your toast. But keep it thin, as there is a very thin line between the prophylactic and poison where salt is concerned. I should have mentioned that it has only so far been proved on mice!

England’s very successful cricket captain Andrew Strauss has resigned not only as captain but also from professional cricket. His team won the Ashes and successfully defended them; they also spent some time as number one in the international tables. Some rather silly texting, or tweeting from a now ex England team member, who was old enough to know better, must have had an effect on his decision.

India; who I remind you receive £280m pa. of aid from the UK which they regard as peanuts, is to pay over £1b pounds to the Russians for three frigates. Added to earlier news that £50m will be spent to send an unmanned space vehicle to Mars it sounds as though our Treasury / government has a few too many nuts as well!   It is ironic to consider that the UK (us) have to borrow the money and pay the interest to make the donation to a country that is a lot better off than us. Although a fair percentage of the Indian population do not necessarily understand this fact.   You can’t blame the Indian government for accepting the gift; peanuts or not, but the donors, (again us), who could well do with a very large gift from someone for ourselves surely will  find it difficult to justify.

The summer so far has been declared the wettest since 1912. The North West has been the site for more flooding over the last few days. We have been very lucky so far in the South East.

With nearly 500,000 new immigrants entering the country last year it is difficult to see how we can sustain these increases indefinitely. With housing, water and health services all on the edge, something must be done.   Other countries must share the burden if it is really essential that many populations find it necessary to leave their place of origin. There are a lot of other members in the EU besides us, although a fair percentage want to live in the UK. Why?

As of today 31st August, the act of Squatting has become a criminal offence. “Squatters rights” is no more. Up till now the owners have had to resort to the courts to get intruders to leave their premises which could take a very long time and be very costly. Added to these costs were the damage repair costs which in the main were not recoverable.   Some organisations have defended the right to squat as a civil liberty. It depends which side of the front door you are standing at I suppose.

September.

Speaking to the BBC, the new UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said he viewed his new mission as near impossible. This news on the 3rd of September. does not suggest another agreed cease fire. The last one did not work anyway. Both sides are still killing one another with no sign of an end to the alleged atrocities.

The 2012 Paralympics continue with a great deal of success for the GB team, with one or two disappointments. Nearly everyone in the team is on a high and the support is tremendous.

Reports from the big retailers suggest that those that came to see the main Olympics did just that. The shops had hoped for a bumper turn over but instead suffered a drop in sales. Bad for them, good for those that may be a little less in the red this month.

5th September. David Cameron has reshuffled his cabinet. It depends which paper you read on the final effect or bias. A third runway at Heathrow; which was opposed by the government, appears to be a major factor in the new jobs allocated, or at least the Mayor of London will tell you that is the case. A new alleged no nonsense Justice Secretary it is hoped, will help to recover the balance between the wrong doer and the wronged.

Yet another drug innovation. It could revolutionise the treatment for Type 2 diabetes and its side effects it is claimed. Researchers in the Highlands have found this additional use for an already licensed drug so it may find its way into use without lengthy trials.

The medals continue to be won by the GB Paralympic athletes. We are second behind a rampant China as of today. It appears this Olympiad has been at least as popular with the spectators as was the previous very successful event. If only we could stir up the same sea change for the economy!

The government has removed the need to obtain planning permission on house extensions up to an increased dimension. The idea is to boost the building trade and thus the economy. What it does not do is provide the cash to the owner to carry out the work. It is to be hoped that the estate does not become a nest of inappropriate developments with no means of objecting for the neighbours.

The Newsletter informs us that the attempts to get Arriva to reinstate the number 8 bus route to serve Kingswood continue. The local MP has been contacted. The latest committee meeting saw a number of those affected by the loss of this service to the estate put their point of view.

The most annoying factor to me is that no one knew of the change. I believe that the company have higher expectations of their web site than they should reasonably anticipate, if they think passengers log on every morning to find out if their bus has been rerouted and they can meet their appointment at Mt.Vernon Hospital. I would hazard a guess that a fair proportion of the mainly older passengers do not have the facility to log on anyway.

As a connected side issue; it appears that less and less can be achieved in this world unless you can go on line: have a mobile phone and are switched on enough to be able to use them. Oh yes, and depending on you actually giving a damn anyway!

The kids are back at school after their 6 week summer break. This event coincides with a call for strike action by a teachers union where 85% of 27% of the members voted yes.

Question 1. What is 85% of 27%?  Show your calculations.

The claimed erosion of working conditions and pay together with previous attacks on pensions are given for this well timed action threat. It seems to me that most people are suffering from the recession, I know that pensioners are. Although our holiday periods are somewhat longer we don’t have any levers to pull to make our point.

This report beggars belief! A Judge has praised a convicted burglar, saying, “It takes a huge amount of courage, as far as I can see, for somebody to burgle somebody’s house, I wouldn’t have the nerve”. Without leaving myself open to all sorts of suspect legislation I can find no way of expressing my disbelief and horror. I trust those with more media privileges than I will do it for me!

9th September. The 2012 Paralympics are over. With a closing ceremony that was both spectacular and emotional we saw thanks being handed out to everyone for what is generally considered to be the best Olympics and Paralympics ever. The athletes from all countries have thrilled their audiences and in turn have received tremendous support and encouragement. A total of 70,000 unpaid “Games Makers” have figured in both games and can now pack away their large plastic hands. Lord Coe did the “Thanks”, and he in turn warrants a big “Job well done” accolade.

GB came third in the medal table behind China and Russia. A great job all round! (34 Gold, 43 Silver and 120 Bronze).

On Monday 10th of September. a parade of 21 lorries carried the competitors from both games through London from the City to a rally outside Buckingham Palace. They received a splendid reception from the many many thousands of appreciative fans who lined the streets.

Speeches by the Prime Minister and the Princess Royal were followed by a mini masterpiece by Boris Johnson the Mayor of London. Although he appears to be always slightly confused he certainly put his heart on his sleeve today. He told the crowd that we should proud of our athletes, proud of the games and of those that built the facilities and did the organising, proud of the thousands of volunteer Games Makers and most of all be proud to be British. His comment that for the first time ever, passengers spoke to one another on the underground was a gem.

It has been a great summer for GB.

Andy Murray won the US Open tennis title last night. The first British winner of a major title since 1936.

We are the Champions.

The 13th September and the world is back to its less than pleasant ways.

The world of Islam has responded to a US film on the internet that contains subject matter they find objectionable.

In Libya the US Embassy has been attacked and the Ambassador killed. Numerous other embassies have been violated and dozens killed all over the world. Flags of several Nations have been burnt.

In Afghanistan there have been attacks on Camp Bastion; killing several US troops and destroying war planes. More killings have occurred with Afghanistan police and soldiers killing the UN troops they were supposedly being trained by. Known as “Green on Blue” attacks these incidences are on the increase. More British casualties have resulted from roadside bombs. Prince Harry is posted in Camp Bastion to fly Helicopters which must create more security problems.

This last item puts into prospective the refusal of some UK employers to allow employees to wear a silver cross at work for fear of giving offence, a decision backed officially! It can’t be true can it? Yes it can!

A presumably French photographer has managed to get topless pictures of Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. They have been shown in a French publication and also in Ireland. The Italians have promised to do a large spread soon. In addition to the ethics, or rather the lack of ethics in spying on anyone whilst on a private holiday, is it not reminiscent of the treatment received by Prince William’s mother that led to her death? Regardless of the couples status I personally would be very annoyed if some creep took covert pictures of me for financial gain. A Court action is likely in France but it will be a stable door job. It seems that I could not photograph a group of children in the UK, even if I was a parent, without fear of censure and possibly prosecution.

Yet another example of the lack of level playing field policy across the channel is the fact that whilst foreign heavy lorries do not pay to use our roads we pay to use theirs. Legislation comes at last to even things out. Why have we waited so long? It surely can’t be because we don’t want to offend our EU partners? Want to bet?

The mayhem continues on 19th September. Two young woman police officers were lured to a false burglary call in Hattersley greater Manchester where they were killed in a hail of 13 shots and a hand grenade attack. A man has given himself up after evading a massive police hunt and a £50,000 reward supported by a large poster campaign since a man and his son were killed earlier this year, again with a gun and grenade.

The man was arrested on suspicion of murdering the PC’s. Police have raided several houses where it is thought the man was being given refuge.

Yet another tragic incident that defies logical meaningful comment.

The man arrested on Wednesday has been charged today 21st September with four murders.

September 22nd saw the first day of sale of the latest and supposedly best yet Apple iPhone 5. Some people; with a need beyond my comprehension had queued all week, sleeping outside the Apple store in Covent Garden.

The picture in the paper showed a predominately Asian and very happy queue just before opening time with up to £700 in their pockets to purchase this new means of calling home and Tweeting their next door neighbour. They are not alone in wanting to be the proud owners. 2 million others world wide have placed pre-orders.

Another man who really coverts the new device is being hunted by the police suspected of stealing 252 of them; worth £170,000, from a shop in Wimbledon.

24th September and we have just had a whole months worth of rain in 24 hours. Added to this the South suffered near gale force winds of up to 85 mph. whilst Scotland. The North and Midlands had most of the rain, and of course most of the floods. Several roads were closed and property again was engulfed by swollen rivers. A young woman was killed by a falling tree branch in Kew Gardens. It would appear the culprit to blame is the tail end of tropical storm Nadine.

The forecast on the 25th September is more rain!

A ruling from the European Court of Human Rights has as at last seen fit to remove the block on the extradition of Abu-Hamza-al-Masri to the USA on several terrorist charges including kidnapping and organising a training camp in Oregon. With history going back to 2004 when he was first wanted in the US he was subsequently tried on many terrorist related charges in the UK including incitement to murder. A conviction on 11 charges led to a 7 year prison sentence. On appeal a court released him.

In 2007 preliminary hearings on his extradition were held and since then he has been effectively and positively been going until the European Court of Human Rights put on a hold pending further examination. That exercise only took three and a half years and resulted in a clearance to extradite.

But on Wednesday our own High Court has placed yet another temporary ban on his extradition following an appeal. If this fails a further appeal will be made.

In the meantime; and by past events this will be quite a long time, he remains in the UK on both benefits and with legal aid.

In fact the rain did continue, particularly in the North, and on the 27th of September many parts, including the Great North Road, were under water. York suffered badly from flooding.

I have not mentioned The Hornets recently in the hope that their very poor start to the season would be over. I regret it isn’t. Seven points only to date and only one or two places from the bottom of the Championship table.

There are so many new players that listening on the radio is not really an option as you can’t tell who is who. Is this latest buy-out going to work? And if so, for whom?

The conflict in Syria continues. Reports of daily killings on both sides. It seems very unlikely that the president will stand down and possibly even more worrying what would happen if he did.

Riots with petrol bombs and tear gas continue in Greece against the financial actions taken by the government to obtain the EU bail out.

Spain is going the same way by the events in Madrid. It is still possible that they will require a full bail out too. What the residents will think of the restraints imposed then I hate to guess.

Good news at last on the 29th September. The Hornets have won away at high flying Huddersfield 2-3.  Sounded like a good game which took them to a dizzy 6th place from the bottom of the league. Still a long way to go.

More great sports news on 30th September. The European golfers have won their Ryder cup match at Medinah in the US. The first two days did not go well with the Americans 10-6 up, but the last day and the singles saw a final score of 13½ to 14½.

Not only had we retained the trophy but had won the tournament. There was much hugging and a few tears as the team remembered in their victory Seve Ballesteros, who is much loved and missed by all golfers. This exhibition is possibly the only time in recent history that all the Europeans have actually pulled together to achieve a winning result. Politicians please note!

October.

Today, 1st October, sees the beginning for 9 million workers of a workplace pension scheme. With the current situation where millions are not paying enough into a pension and many of the under 30’s are not paying into a pension at all it is determined that the state will not be able to support the growing number of a population living to an older age.

It is thought that as many as one third of those automatically enrolled will opt out so the scheme will not help everyone. The events of the near future have been called an approaching pension apocalypse. A big word with big consequences in a fast changing world.

The Horn’s have won away again and leaped up to mid table.

A new franchise for the West Coast main line railway which Richard Branson and his company Virgin claimed was flawed when it was awarded to First Group has been deemed to contain ”unacceptable mistakes”. The Transport Secretary has cancelled the contract and suspended three civil servants and frozen the process of three other franchise bids.

The cancellation will cost the taxpayer £40million in compensation. The Department for Transport had made errors in calculations for future inflation and passenger numbers. Nothing important then!

The comment from the Transport Secretary that “the system has been flawed for some time” was very comforting. Not!  I have the impression that accountability has changed quite a lot since I had to make financial calculations?

Saturday 6th October sees the forth day running where Syria and Turkey have exchanged fire across their border. It is not obvious whether it was government troops or the rebels/resistance faction. Whichever way it is it not good news in an area that is in enough trouble as it is.

Abu Hamza has at last been deported to the US after he was convicted eight or so years ago here in the UK. Four other terror suspects were flown off with him to stand trial in the States for claimed offences reference terrorism. His council; who must be quite well off on the proceeds of the legal aid (estimated at £2.7 million) the UK has provided, lost the argument that Hamza required an MRI scan. The judge said the medical facilities in the US are excellent. And very expensive I believe. I expected the procedure would have taken longer as past experience has suggested.

On the 13th October the previous week has been a series of revelations and scandals.

The first scandal was on the 8% rise in fuel costs; just as it is getting cold. A rise in raw materials is the justification. A rise in profits is ignored.

The cost of food is on the up. With a poor harvest in the UK due to the abominable weather we have seen the worst drought for 50 years in the US and a heat wave in Russia, all of which has contributed to the poorest wheat yield since the 1980’s. It all boils down to us paying through the nose and will provide the excuse for most of the price rises, other than that of energy costs of course.

Many delayed allegations of sexual abuse, some committed on minors, by Sir Jimmy Savile OBE, KCSG  who died last October. They have come to light and built all week to a amazing level, 60 was the latest count. Other entertainment personalities of the 60’s and 70’s have also been implicated, with the BBC under attack for knowing of the position and not acting on it. It is all very dirty and will no doubt result in expensive formal investigations and even more expensive litigation and a final feeling that justice was not served.

The revelation that cycling hero Lance Armstrong; seven times winner of the Tour de France after surviving Cancer, is a drug cheat, has shocked the cycling world. It would seem that the US cyclist was involved in what is described as “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen” as identified by the US anti doping police. Other riders and officials have agreed that doping and blood transfusions were the norm for some teams. This news has saddened many amateur riders who saw Armstrong as a near god within in the sport.

The other revelation of the week was England’s football performance over lowly San Marino’s semi professionals at Wembley. Their opponents are tied for last place in the world rankings and although the score was eventually 5-0 the England team did not cover themselves in glory. Their opponents who defended with ten and sometimes 11 men and did not have a shot at goal managed to bottle up the England attack very successfully for a considerable time. Poland, their away opponents next week, must be quaking in their shin pads! I do hope I have got it wrong?

On the 15th October our Prime Minister and Alex Salmond of the Scottish Nationalist Party have signed an agreement that allows for a Scottish referendum on leaving the United kingdom. The question will be a straight Yes/No to going it alone. I have mixed feelings on the idea, perhaps the 16 and 17 year olds will be more positive.

The newspapers today, 17 October, report that French fishermen have encroached six miles into British territorial waters to fish for Scallops. This is after earlier in the week they harassed and reportedly tried to ram one of the British vessels legally fishing in international waters. The report is of 15 EU vessels, with at least six of them being French all illegally fishing and one Captain claimed it was like banging their heads against a brick wall where our government was concerned. This is another classic case of the UK obeying the rules, unfair though they may be, and the rest of the EU, particularly the French ignoring them. Level playing field. I don’t think so.

Two International football matches made the headlines last night. The first an Under 21 European Championship match in Serbia ended with a last minute win for England and a near riot after the whistle with racial abuse through much of the game. The pictures are horrifying. What will be done this time? Not a lot I suspect.

The second match was an England World cup qualifier in Warsaw against Poland which was postponed after the pitch resembled a swimming pool following heavy rain. It still took FIFA 65 minutes to make a decision despite the fact that the site was more suited to water polo. It seems that FIFA bureaucracy and a poor judgement on the weather forecast determined the roof of the brand new stadium would not be closed before the match and the design was such that it could not be closed whilst it was actually raining as it might fall down. Many of the 2,500 travelling England fans will not see the rearranged game today at 4pm. That is provided the tide has gone out.

The match in Warsaw was played in the afternoon of 18th October. on a pitch that looked as if it had been recently flooded! The English football matched the pitch. Flat with no bounce. It was a 1-1 draw.

The Jimmy Saville saga continues. Heads are starting to roll and his charities are changing their names. There is an awful lot more mileage in this story to come.

News today, 25th October is that the UK may be creeping out of its “double dip” recession. With the three previous quarters showing a drop in GDP there is a possibility that this last quarter will show a small growth. I am not holding my breath, yet!

The big six energy suppliers have been told by the government to make their charging policy simpler to understand. Currently there are so many different ways of reaching a total that is virtually impossible to compare different suppliers. Baited breath on this one too! It was later announced that EDF (my supplier) was raising it prices by 10%. It could not be much simpler than that, could it?

The Boat Race protestor who swam out and stopped the race has been jailed for 6 months and branded a “class war hypocrite” by the Judge. Protesting against claimed “elitism”, he smirked when sentenced. Well he would, wouldn’t he?

It becomes more and more apparent that the effort to turn Afghanistan into a democracy with a rule of law and self policing is likely not to be satisfied during the term left for its achievement. Both ours and the American servicemen are still dying in a brave attempt to train and guide but many of the deaths are perpetrated by local trainee policemen. What will happen when they are left to their own devices remains to be seen.

Launched in 1977 by NASA, the two Discovery probes have visited and photographed all the planets in our Solar System and Discovery 1 is just leaving our Galaxy and the influence of the Sun. It is still able to manoeuvre and send back data but there is not a lot to see in outer space between galaxies. It has a gold disc attached with information about Earth and its people, and even its music I believe. Who; in billions of parsecs, (however long they are), is going to find the disc and enjoy the Beatles we will never know. A Parsec is 3,261,564 light years long. How long is a light year? Don’t ask, but it currently takes 15 hours for a signal to reach the probe and of course 15 hours for the reply.

The Supermarkets are to print on their food products a pie chart to show percentage fats, sugar and salt. The big brand suppliers seem not so keen. Many shoppers will be more interested in BOGOF and Price Drop offers I fancy.

I learnt yesterday 8th October of a resident’s back lawn being mutilated by Badgers. Having suffered from the same destruction a few years ago when acres of trees were cut down in the cemetery, I visited with the aim of sharing defence methods and witnessed a level of destruction beyond my nightmares. That these considered cuddly, shy, cute little black and white animals could virtually remove the top layer of turf from a third of a nice lawn takes some believing. Although I suppose if we build houses and roads on every bit of green space available and remove their natural habitat then it is hardly surprising. The probable reason for the excavations are juicy Leather Jacket grubs and worms just below the surface.

Another big name has been detained 29th October following the allegations of abuse, sexual and otherwise against Jimmy Savile. Most of the investigations seem to surround the BBC’s lack of action at the time, some say condoning of the claimed known abuses. Lots more to come no doubt.

It would appear that Arriva will not give Kingswood back its Number 8 bus service. With twice as far to go to reach the alternative stop and the negotiation of two sets of stairs it is adding insult to injury to have to stand out in an exposed spot in the wind and rain to catch the Number 10. Why can’t the bus company move one of the 4 redundant bus shelters on the A405 to provide at least some shelter?

An enormous Hurricane named Sandy (30th. October) has hit the Eastern sea board of the US. A lot of damage has resulted and flooding has closed the New York Metro and Wall Street stock exchange. Loss of life has occurred and millions of properties have no electricity.

November.

The 1st November sees reports that The US Hurricane has claimed 80 lives and millions are still without electricity. This event clashes with the lead up to the Presidential election. Described as “On the horns of a dilemma” the two protagonists are torn between electioneering and trying to expedite the relief operation. Definitely a “no win” situation.

Another; now faded star in entertainment has been charged and released on bail for offences similar to those levelled against Jimmy Saville. Who next?

The latest bizarre accusations surround the verbal and perhaps racial abuse by a Premiership referee of Chelsea players during their game last weekend. In turn, the suspended official, pending investigation, is being advised by his professional body to sue Chelsea football club. If the players also wore microphones it would save the FA from employing a lip reader to monitor Match of the Day on a Saturday evening. The pot calling kettle black would cover the exercise I reckon.

After the loss of an estimated 25 million trees to the Dutch Elm disease of the sixties and seventies we now have another invader from the continent. This time it is an airborne invasion of a Fungus that kills Ash trees. It has already wiped out up to 90% of the Danish Ash trees and it would seem that we have been happily importing infected saplings from infected areas despite warnings from Forestry experts. It has of course soon become political and the parties will still be arguing when trees start to die in earnest. The Ash is the second most common hedgerow tree and accounts for up to 30% of our woodlands. The feared loss of this sort of percentage will have far reaching effects on wildlife in general and will add to the already threatened “green and pleasant land” we once enjoyed. I hope someone has over re-acted or has it wrong! The seriousness or otherwise may well be noted in years to come.

It is Guy Fawkes Day (5th November) Otherwise and almost exclusively known now as Fireworks Night it has been noisily celebrated for the past week. Yesterday, Sunday, seems to have been particularly popular.

I can record the Horns had a win on Saturday. The first it seems in a long time. The football played under Gianfranco Zola is considered good, but does not produce many goals. The other games have mainly been lost or drawn by the odd goal, and just before the final whistle. They are mid table, and not far from the bottom points wise.

It is confirmed the US Hurricane Sandy has killed over 80 people and a million or so are still without electricity in the New York area. It understandably caused the cancellation of the NY Marathon. The Presidential election campaign is nearing its end with both protagonists apparently neck to neck. I wish I could get excited about it!

Another ballot, this time in the UK is to elect a Police Commissioner. I don’t know where this one came from but four candidates from political parties are vying for the £75,000 pa jackpot. Do we need more political interference in police operations? I doubt the number of criminals apprehended, or more importantly prevented from re offending will rise. This is another wait and see operation and another one to not hold our breath on!

Awoke to the news today, 7th November that Barack Obama has won a second term as US President. It was close, that’s all I know!

The estate Badger invasion has spread, with reports that lawns have been attacked at the top of Appletree Walk. As the sett is actually on this part of the estate then this is not really a surprise. The advice from personal experience is make sure your fences are really secure, particularly at ground level, and don’t feed them!!!

The news from the EU is frightening. The proposal is for an increase of 1billion Euros (11%) in their budget despite the 2010 Merkel promise of no increases. Reports are rife of fraud and blunders resulting in billions of Euros wasted or misappropriated. The European Court of Auditors claim there were, “too many cases of EU money not hitting the target or being used sub-optimally”. Two quoted instances showed an even worsening rate of fraud and blunder, one being the fisheries and rural development, where the level has risen to 7.7%. For what, one may ask? Support for infringement in international and UK waters by the French for instance? The official auditors have seen insufficient honesty and noted continued mismanagement to the extent they were unable to sign off the EU accounts yet again. They found the same situation as has prevailed for the previous 17 years. Would you invest in a company whose official auditors had refused to confirm its financial integrity for the last 18 years? I wouldn’t. How do I get on the gravy train?

On 26th November. Just prior to leaving on holiday the Horns beat Leeds 1-6. Partly down to a Leeds sending off in the first half and a rather knee jerk reaction of using all his subs at half time the Leeds manager soon only had 9 men on the field following a nasty leg break. The local supporters were mainly unhappy, as I would have been if as an away follower I had to pay £34 to get in.

The BBC are in trouble again. This time for outing someone over alleged child abuse. The senior Conservative peer will sue it is reported and the fairly recent BBC Director General has done the right thing by resigning. Claiming he was not aware of the proposed contents of the offending programme suggests he did know what was going on anyway!

We have a newly elected Police commissioner. David Lloyd by name, he seems to have abandoned his party affiliations in post election comments, and as these were the only way to separate him from the three other candidates there is not much else to say. There were reported many spoilt ballots papers amongst the poor take up rate of those that actually voted. I can’t say it is surprising! Only 14.5% in Hertfordshire could “be bothered”, or had enough information to make a considered decision. In one polling station in Newport nobody voted at all. What did they know that we didn’t?

It is still raining on the 27th November and hundreds of flood warnings are out for North Wales and North east England. Thousands of properties have been inundated by overflowing rivers and other heavy drain off. The forecast indicates some improvements but in other areas the levels are still rising.

A related area surrounds the increase in house insurance costs. A 14% increase has been explained as being due to heavy payouts on flooding claims. The comment that Kingswood is most unlikely to suffer did not hold water! I suggested that should the flood start to flow up Greenwood Drive then raising an Ark would be more appropriate than raising the premiums. Guess where it got me?

It was announced by the Chancellor yesterday that the Bank of England, for the first time in its 318 years history will have a foreign born Governor. Mr Mark Carney is 47 and the current Governor of the Bank of Canada. His £600,000 pa. salary will be well earned if he can help the UK to get out of recession as he seems to have helped Canada. He has a lot of clearing up to do. It would appear that the selection suits most parties.

The Horns ended November as they started with a 1-4 win at Sheffield Wednesday against a team second from bottom. This had not guaranteed a win in the past so perhaps things are coming together. They now have 30 points that places them 8 behind the leaders, 2 behind the play off places and 17 from the bottom. Here is hoping the Christmas slump does not occur this year.

It is announced today that controversial plans to place a minimum price of 45p a unit on alcohol are to be proposed. The Home Office believe that it would help to kerb the drunken antics of especially young people on Britain’s High Streets and reduce the costs to the NHS for hospital care for those careless enough to fall over or get themselves into a fight. It does not mention the costs of obesity, type 2 diabetes and drug taking as a contributing a major cost factor. Will we soon have a minimum price on a Big Mac or whatever pill or powder is the current “must have” on a Saturday night and French Fries at 10p per a centimetre?

The Report commission by the prime minister to report on the actions of the press and police over the phone hacking scandal has been delivered by Lord Justice Leverson who was appointed as Chairman of the Inquiry. He appears to be recommending a continued self regulation by a new Press Standards body but with a form of legal oversight on the actions of the body, which would go against the whole concept of a free press some claim. This has shown another split in the government thinking. It is a complex report on a subject where surely some action must be taken following the disgraceful, sometimes cruel and criminal efforts previously made by some publications and their journalists to sell copies. However, the freedom of the press is a long held and important right which must be well considered before action be taken to reduce it.

In Egypt the new president; elected after the earlier revolts, has made up some new rules surrounding his sphere of influence. These are not seemingly liked a lot by the non Islamic citizens. Not back to revolutions already, surely!

December,

In Syria the killings go on. First one faction then the other is accused of atrocities and refugees continue to leave the country. Damascus is under attack currently 1st. December. and the airport has been closed.

On the 4th December the Judge who told a burglar that he was courageous for breaking into peoples houses has received a written warning by the Office of Judicial Complaints. They said “his comments have damaged the public confidence in the judicial process”. It is unfortunate that many other comments and sentences could well be labelled with a similar indictment.

Kate Middleton aka The Duchess of Cambridge has left hospital on 6th December where she has been receiving treatment for severe morning sickness and following the news of her pregnancy it has announced that a new law will be fast tracked to insure that whatever the sex of the newborn is he/she will be 3rd in line for the throne.

The Chancellor has said in his Autumn statement that the UK will lead international efforts to stop like companies such as Amazon, Starbucks and Google making legal “artificial transfers” of profits to a low tax haven and pay little if any Corporation tax in the UK. It has since been announced that Starbucks, who pay zero tax on their enormous turnover will rethink their tax policy. This could have something to do with a partial boycott by its customers. Other companies have suggested that they provide employment for a lot of people and should that not be enough? The other news was that we will have restrictions and cut backs until 2018 at least as growth has not resulted from the measures taken so far. A threat on the UK’s credit rating followed.

The Dandy comic was printed for the last time this week after seventy five years. I grew up with Desperate Dan and his Cow Pie. I doubt it will taste quite the same on line.

Belfast is at the centre of riots as its council voted to remove the Union Flag from the Town Hall and fly it only on 17 days a year. It has previously flown continuously since 1906. This action has not done a great deal for community relations it is reported. What will happen if the ban is further applied to the Cenotaph at City Hall in the New Year.

An EU official has commented that if Scotland becomes independent then they should not expect automatic inclusion in the economic union as they expect. They will have to apply.

A nurse at the London hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was a patient took what turned out to be a hoax call from two Australians DJ’s purporting to be concerned members of the royal family earlier in the week has been found dead. She unwittingly gave some details of the patients’ condition. Isn’t technology in the wrong hands a wonderful thing?

It is reported on the 5th December that the two DJ’s in the now claimed suicide scandal are suspended “out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy”. The nurse was married with two children. The Australian broadcasters had boasted about making international headlines over the “biggest royal prank ever”. They have certainly achieved their aim, but at what cost?

There have been further police interviews of household names over allegations and reports of sex abuse. Many of them go back 30 years plus and have only surfaced since the Jimmy Savile exposure. There is a lot more mileage in this story.

Britain and the US have warned the Syrian government about the use of chemical weapons against their rebels. The US in particular has said they will not stand by if such action is reported.

The death of a British broadcasting giant was announced on 9th December. Sir Patrick Moore has headed “The Sky at Night” for 55 years and many people owe their knowledge of the universe to him. He was the typical British amateur expert and his knowledge and fame led to him having as guests on his programme all the astronauts and astronomers of his day. He was the voice of space exploration for many and the moon in particular. His loss at age 89 will be impossible to replace, although it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to present his programme he carried on until the last. An icon!

The President of Egypt has withdrawn some of his extra powers but this had not satisfied the objectors and riots continue in Cairo.

Rioting is still taking place in Northern Ireland over the Union Flag removal. The police are taking the brunt of the violence and many have been injured and theirs and other vehicles set on fire.

The football match between Manchester United and City was marred by a pitch invasion and a coin throwing incident where Rio Ferdinand was cut just above the eye. This prompted lots of talk reference nets around the corners and other Draconian actions. The coin thrower has not yet been identified. That would be a start!

Also on Sunday 9th December two of our public spirited neighbours organized a Carol service outside their houses in Fern Way. About 50 people turned up and we sang all the favourites and ate Mince pies and drank coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Some people still care!

Another heart warming incident involved a big fella we met who had one white and one black trainer on. I pointed it out to him and he told us that he had four Autistic children and they felt safer if they could immediately recognize him. Not his face, but his feet. That puts our own problems into perspective.

Today  12th. December it is confirmed that North Korea has put a satellite up into orbit and the Western World up into a panic. Their first attempt had failed miserably after just a few minutes but this success has brought comments reference the North Koreans priorities, with a poor economy and many people with insufficient food. It may also have something to do with the threat they could soon reach the USA and other Western countries with nuclear weapons following their earlier successful test of a device. The trade embargoes imposed must seem a little less effective as of today.

Last night was the coldest this year so far recorded in our garden. Minus eight at breakfast time and a fairy tale scene with frost on all the trees and lawn. Heathrow was closed during the night due to fog. As a side issue it was announced by the final Gas and Electricity Company was to put up its prices to nearly match all the others. Inevitable! We now have a level playing field for choice but unfortunately they all have a different set of rules.

A massacre occurred on the 14th December in Newtown Connecticut in the US. A 20 year old shot first his mother then taking what is reported as her legally registered guns consisting of two handguns and an assault rifle, drove to a nearby school and shot dead six women teachers and twenty children under the age of 6; before killing himself. These are the bare facts as reported that hide the terrible effects on peoples lives and suggests the US thinks again on the right to carry arms. How on earth does a mother justify the legal possession of an assault rifle in her home?

The rioting continues in Ulster on 17th December. Police have been attacked with rocks and fireworks, injuring many. The earlier visit of Hilary Clinton seems to have little if any effect.

On 19th December, Norovirus which causes fever, headaches, diarrhea and vomiting has been reported as being up 80% from last year. It has caused the NHS to shut fifty wards in sixty hospitals and restrictions have been placed on visiting in order to reduce the risk of its introduction into so far uninfected hospitals.

More people have been interviewed regarding abuse following the Jimmy Savile episode.

Christmas presents valued at around £2,000 destined for seriously ill children have been stolen from Great Ormond Street Hospital. They have been replaced by an anonymous hospital supporter. The sentiments of the season are due to the obviously more needy thieves.

Comet, the High Street electrical retail chain closed for the last time today. It is likely the closure will cost us £50m in severance payments, unused holidays and unpaid VAT. These closure will provide even more premises for Charity Shops and Pound shops in our High Streets.

Much has been written regarding the funding proposals for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. The list shows that those sports that were successful this year receive improved support, whilst those that performed badly lose out. The total fund is nearly £350m. Should we support the winners or try to boost the under performers is the basis of the argument? One thing is certain, you can’t buy success or achieve it without hard work.

Christmas has arrived at last on the 20th December. The Round Table Father Christmas and his little band of High Visibility helpers came round in their 4×4 sledge this evening. We always look forward to this event.

It would seem the World did not end with the Mayan calendar running out on the 21st of December. With 5125 years since the last re-set date in 3114 BC it was thought that with a new re-boot back to year zero only believers would survive the update. The pilgrimage site of Tikai in modern Mexico saw many of the Mayan cult and not a few Star Wars fanatics gathering for the event. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, nothing happened. Recent Apocalypses and Doomsdays do not seem to have had a very high success rate and when one does actually occur there will be few left; if any, to report on it. Incidentally the next date for our promised annihilation is January 1st 2017 say The Sword of God Brotherhood, and hell fire will figure in this one. Unless of course you know differently!

The weather and flooding is again the news on 22nd December. Following prolonged heavy rain the South West is practically isolated. Train lines are closed and many towns and villages flooded for the second time in just a few days. South Wales is also under a lot of water. There are more than 170 flood warnings and in addition several severe ones too.  More rain is forecast over the weekend. These circumstances must feel like the end of the world to the people affected. A Merry Christmas for them is not a very likely possibility but they deserve our thoughts. There but for the grace of god…..

Last night 22nd December saw the final round of Strictly Come Dancing on BBC television. It was won by a 23 year old silver and bronze medal winning Olympic gymnast Louis Smith, to general acclaim. His professional partner Flavia Cacace had worked wonders with a man who had never danced before the competition.

Christmas day was not white this year but at times quite wet. The rain did not help all those people under water in the South west and the weather also prevented many from reaching their friends and relations in Devon and Cornwall, and of course those traveling in the opposite direction.

Despite the traditional London Underground strike on Boxing Day a reported 13 million bargain hunters countrywide spent £5.4bn and it is predicted that the sum spent will reach £10.4bn by the New Year. Boxing Day also set a record for time spent searching on line for internet bargains with 14 million hours spent on trawling the sites. Generally the shopping groups report a substantial rise in sales. It is to be hoped that not all of the purchases will result in plastic debts to add to those run up on last years Christmas spend.

The US. is trying to avoid a New Year Fiscal Cliff. Quite what it entails I am not sure but if their economy takes another dive I am sure we will know about it pretty soon. President Obama curtailed his holiday in Hawaii to try to get an agreement so it must be pretty serious. Brinksmanship again by the sound of things. Added to this our Chancellor has said the forecast for UK financial recovery is put back a year.

Now on the 29th December and it is pleasing to see that the Horns have not slumped disastrously over Christmas as is usual. With one loss, one draw and two wins, plus a postponed game due to a flooded Bristol pitch, they are now in the bottom play off position, 6 from the top with 40 points. Nice things are being said and written about their style of play which in all honesty is not the normal sort of comments they receive.

The US has failed so far (Monday 31st December) to reach an agreement / compromise on the end of the Bush arranged tax cuts that have eased the burden and held over spending cuts. An the 1st day of 2013 these postponed tax increases and big spending cuts come into force and are termed The Fiscal Cliff bringing with it much hardship to many people and businesses. President Obama is attempting to raise the countries borrowing limit which is set by law whilst the Republicans are resisting strongly. With only another day in which to reach a further compromise the Nero fiddling continues. The outcome will possibly be the first news of next years Social Comment and should it be of failure to reach an agreement then the UK will soon notice the difference in trade volumes with the US. Heaven save us from politicians and bankers.

Summary.

Well, so that is another year passed. It has been a pretty good one for UK.PLC although the economy has not improved and so many things appear to have been given the wrong approach. Worldwide news has invariably been bad with few if any really bright spots.

On the plus side the Queens Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics, both main and para were not only great spectacles but the games also gave us some great results and the feeling of being British and proud of it. Possibly the high light for me was the opening ceremony. It took us all by surprise and if it raised a question or two regarding the Industrial Revolution then so much the better.

The Middle East has seen continued conflict between governments and rebels. It is still difficult to determine which is which in many cases. Syria has led the field with Egypt not far behind.

Afghanistan continues to be a problem. How to change a people’s beliefs is perhaps a task too far. With a planned withdrawal of our troops at least the tragic deaths of our servicemen, often at the hands of the very people they are training to maintain law and order, should reduce.

Several history making events have raised my hopes during the year, perhaps the most intriguing being the successful landing of rover vehicle Curiosity on the surface of Mars and the two Discovery probes that are leaving our solar system after 35 years of swinging in and out of planetary orbits. Where to now?

During the year we have seen a few poorly judged and in some cases obscenely criminal acts by people on people. I have reported on them and see no good reason for repeating the detail.

The closure of the News of the World over the phone hacking scandal has resulted in a very expensive Royal Commission report that has implications regarding the freedom of the press. Other agencies do not come out of it very well either. It seems no one can be trusted to follow compassionate and humane lines anymore without the threat of legal action. Reports of Tweets and Texts slandering the recipients are now considered fair game. A report has said people should not be so touchy when receiving vile unsubstantial accusations written as fact. I don’t think so!

The local estate news is sparse again this year. We tend to not get too excited over trivia. One event that raised few hackles was the removal by Arriva of the estate bus service that meant doubling the distance and negotiating two set of steps and an underpass to stand at an exposed and unprotected bus stop to catch a bus into town. This route does not reach the Lower High Street or more importantly Mount Vernon Hospital. Approaches were made by both the Association and local Councillors. But to no effect

Archers has closed and for the first time in my memory we have no access to a local hardware shop. Many a minor disaster was overcome by a swift purchase of something electrical or of a wet nature. Currently the shop stands empty with all kinds of outlets suggested.

The markings on road junctions and indeed some of the signs have deteriorated to such an extent that an accident must eventually occur. It can not only be unfamiliarity with the road layout that produces vehicles from left and right pulling into Greenwood Drive without stopping or apparently looking.

The big news of the year must be regarding our weather. Gales greeted us for January followed by heavy snow and lots of disruption resulted from the heavy falls in February followed by a spell of Mediterranean warmth in March. From May on; with the exception of very few days in between, it has rained most of the time since then with the occasional gale thrown in. Flood warnings and actual floods have been seen in the South West, North East and North West and Scotland. The fact that these conditions ran concurrent with a hose pipe ban earlier in the year was particularly annoying. Consequent on the unfavourable conditions during April and May the Bees did not come out to fertilise the fruit tree flowers thus making for the worst crop in years. Food prices in general have risen due to either a poor crop or the farmer’s inability to harvest them due to the wet conditions. I can report a splendid year for lawn moss however. It is an ill wind…..

A happy to New Year to you all.

These are my interpretations of the facts as I see them and I am not the spokesman for the KRA or anyone else. Please do not publish this effort in part or as a whole without permission.

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Alan Orchard, Monday, 31 December 2012

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