Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Using the negative to a positive advantage

Tonight I watched a new BBC television programme called "That's Britain!" It appears from first appearances to be a mixture of That's Life (Esther Rantzen's flagship consumer affairs programme of the 1980s) and Watchdog which kind of took over from the 1980s until recently.

Part of the series conceptual idea is to represent the number of complaints on a given subject on a video wall. The bigger the word, the more complaints a subject has. The usual suspects pop up, road works, dog fouling and littering, credit cards and smoking. But at the end of this weeks episode "cyclists" appeared on the wall.

The issue had been raised because of peoples' concerns about the unlit section of cyclists we all see. It is a concern most cyclists actually share. I nearly saw an unlit rider get hit by a driver a couple of months back. It's dark, every sensible person puts their lights on, he being young and possibly naive did not and a car pulled out on him. I hadn't realised he was there either until I heard the scream, looked over from my own bicycle and saw this shadow swerve around the bonnet.

So is there any way we can use this to a positive social advantage? I think there is. Emailing the show as a cyclist and asking for a number of ideas to be investigated might mean a little education for some, and highlight some safety concerns for others. Here are some suggestions the show could look at:

- film at junctions and do some surveying on red light jumping (of both motorists and cyclists). Find out the behaviours and the numbers, and look at the risks. Is there any case history from red light jumping that they could cite? Do different vehicular users exhibit different types of behaviour (the things I have witnessed have shown that the few cyclists that do jump the lights slow down, treat the light as a giveway marking and edge over cautiously; however the few motorists who jump the lights do so as they change and accelerate into the junction at speed risking a collision with an early-green road user setting off from another junction).

- do a count of how many cyclists are lit, and unlit, and calibrate a percentage. How many people have been injured by unlit cyclists on average a year? How many get involved in collisions as a whole?

- do an educational piece on lighting and the law. What is legally needed to ride at night

Raise issues that may benefit us all and encourage cycling:

- Where to get cycle training from.

- Is it time for proper cycle infrastructure, Dutch style? Do we now need to divide up parallel routes? One for cycles to encourage an obesity-fight, reduce congestion, and tackle pollution; and one route mostly for motor traffic for those that need to travel the longer distances or make professional deliveries.

- Perhaps do a piece on how to cycle safely, the techniques and practicalities. How do you deal with HGVs and large vehicles at junctions? Why we should avoid the door-zone. How to make a right turn.

- Lastly how much money people can save by using a bicycle for short distances, the fuel saved, the fat burned.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The Telegraph probably wont publish my letter..

Dear Sir,

What a sad attack Lord Lawson propelled upon Sir Attenborough. It clearly shows that the Lord has had his fingers in his ears on this great debate. How can thousands of independent scientists and researchers possibly come up with the same conclusion if this were not happening? I am also slightly disappointed in the BBC for putting in an opt-out clause in the US sale of the programme. The US, probably more than any other Nation, needs to wake up to the very real damage that is being done to the environment, not just in terms of CO2 but also air, water and soil purity. 

If there were more people like Sir Attenborough the world would be a much cleaner, safer place for future generations and the one that currently lives here.

Many thanks!

DJ Cook

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Writing music?

I haven't written any in a very long time. It's been a while, as one heavy rock band once sang. I still have a full studio's worth of gear - guitars, pedals, stringed instruments like violin, synthesizer keyboard and software such as Live 6. I still have the MIGHTY Sherman Filterbank2.

The trouble is I ran out of space to move around. Not everyone has the luxury of a record deal, I tried for many years to attract interest. It was a strange situation to be in, other musicians understood the experimentation, but your average person didn't. It was either noise to them, annoying or even boring. Even a couple of other musicians, who I had a lot of respect for, went into a tirade that I used a particular effect too much, or a riff too often.

Strangely no-one ever complained that Coldplay used distortion on guitars too much, or about Dylan's harmonica. Stuff like that kills music for people.

I digress.

Every now and again I get this twitch. Today I heard some amazing music on youtube by a guy using a soft synth for orchestral music. The level of control available today meant it sounded just like it had been recorded by a real orchestra. Then some idiot ranted in the comments section about the software being "too expensive" and how it would be cheaper to hire a real orchestra for the day.

I wasn't aware the software was £25,000? It wasn't, it was £600, moron.

As a teen my musical tastes were eclectic to say the least. I attempted to trace as heavy a band as I could find. CDs had become reasonably cheap, there were still hundreds of small labels putting out music. There was a kind of twisted beauty in the early Marilyn Manson, Sepultura, Rotting Christ. I even got into Cradle of Filth.

What was odd, and indeed at odds, was my love of classical music. And blues. And prog.

Pink Floyd - I just didn't get The Wall first time I listened. I was 16, my Father needed a present and it had just been re-released for the first time on CD. I thought one of the tracks was a racist rant, in my naivety I didn't get the satire. The Planets, by Holst. How cool was that, a full-on dreamscape attempting to represent our solar system. Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Clapton, Jeff Beck - the power of the guitars, the voice, the words or the bands.

It was all good. I still get that twitch. Maybe one day I'll write a film score.

Why the Good shouldn't take the rap for the Bad

Imagine if you liked to wear a red t-shirt. You've worn this red t-shirt for a while now, it's comfortable, makes you look good, wasn't too expensive... then one day you see the news. A man has been killed by another, the "perp" was wearing a red t-shirt.

At first it means little to you. You carry on wearing it, but over the next few days the Nation goes belligerent. Everyone in red t-shirts are suddenly enemy number one, people draw stories of the indignant: "I was pushed out of the way in a queue at the supermarket by some numpty in a red t-shirt!"

"WHY!! Why are they wearing that shirt! It makes them stand out, they look ridiculous!"

"Who forced me to swerve my car!!? Guy in a red shirt!"

OK, so this sounds a little far fetched. Until you use a logical backstep and realise we as society have done this many, many times over:

"They are a rule unto themselves, to put it bluntly..." Cyclists

"...concerns about gang violence..." Hoodies

Who else? White Van Man, BMW and Audi drivers. Immigrants. Gypsies. Young people. Cops... I could go on. The intelligent among us have a duty to separate the good from the bad, and realise that people, not the things we wear or do, people in the very end of the matter are the cause of problems in this world. 

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Everything that is messed up about the world..

I have to say I support the Occupy protests. I'm not an anarchist myself or an anticapitalist (just as with a recent letter published on This Is Bath's website and in their newspaper). I'm just a bloke worried about my future, and the future of my family and friends. The world has changed to benefit the greedy and the liars and bullies who have thrown their weight around with the ethos that if we don't like it someone else will fill our shoes.

The beauty of the web is that the internet has made the world a small place, social networking (eg twitter and facebook) may have many downsides, but there is a growing consensus to use it as an educational, philosophical and cultural platform to debate. There are many people like you or I who have experienced something negative about education, employment or politics, by sharing these views perhaps it can trigger a solution.

What we are now seeing is a growing realisation that the way big business (banks, multinational corporations) and even public service (the NHS, the Police) is run is wasteful when it delegates a large proportion of its income, either through trade or taxation, to an elite. This elite are far too self-serving, they often have power to increase their own wage whilst they have frozen the pay of their employees.

We are fast heading for inequality of pay not seen since the Victorian era, and without its Quaker moral compass. The Quakers were fundamental in changing Britain for the better during that very era, they believed in hard work, ethics, helping and educating the disadvantaged. Even as an atheist I can appreciate those traits. Whilst in a time where the stereotypical banker was Ebenezer Scrooge the Quakers actually created a banking system that was fair to its investors/customers. They also used their wage to set up schooling for under-privileged kids, and work programs for prisoners so they could learn the value of hard work and receive its rewards.

If there is one thing the Occupy movement has been criticised for it is not having a definitive leader, or a definitive list of demands. This is both wrong and ill-informed. The demands are clear:

- enable cheap or free education for those not of status.

- actually force the banks to give some remittance - pay back for their damage. Many have gotten away with acts of criminal stupidity, cost people their homes and their jobs.

- fair pay for all! This is not just about a living wage for the lowest earners, whose efforts should be more highly lauded, but also a recognition that big business cannot keep throwing money at an elite like confetti at a wedding. No-one got married, if anything we need to divorce ourselves from this practice.

Currently pay is 145 time higher on average for the elite 1% compared to that of their average employee. There are heads of Trusts in public service, and top Councillors who have pay that is around £200,000. A comfortable living can be had from £70,000, remembering that the public sector is about public service. It is not a public service to suck off just the cream, but also half the milk.

Business, too, has a problem with this 145 number. It leads the many employees of any company to question if their work is truly valued and appreciated. It leads to a lack of trust between company and employee, where "company policy" becomes used as an excuse to sometimes belittle, and sometimes negatively control.

- Politicians, too, have to change. They have to represent the people, the voter. If they fail to do this (and Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats have all failed) people tend to look for a quick fix in far right, and far left parties. Since the expenses scandals they have still failed to appease the general public, is it any wonder voter turnout is at an all-time low!?

A failure to bring about change and equality could be detrimental to the UK. The last time we were this ignored we had the Poll Tax riots. Will we ever learn from history? Will the elite ever learn?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Confused? You bloody should be..!

Today put up an article on their website about "cycle-rage" and, I think quite rightly, it has spurred a lot of criticism.

In psychology there are tests designed to general what is classed as a "loaded answer". What this means is that a question is formulated in a specific way to generate a specific response. Psychology students will know well about this as it is a technique used to educate on how our minds work. It does seriously make me wonder if Confused have done this with the questions to generate the usual nonsense on "road tax" and red light jumping.

Shockingly the percentages do no have qualification as to how the result happened. For example: "A cyclist caused me to swerve in my car [31%]" This could indeed be the result of a cyclist running a red, or leaping from the pavement (I have seen it happen), however to generate maximum percentage they've perhaps been non-specific as it could equally mean the motorist hadn't been paying attention.

A practice that could well explain why cyclists get close overtakes.

22% A cyclist slowed down my journey and caused me to be late. Now it has to be said, there is a technical term for this: utter bollocks. A cyclist is in motion, you are still travelling. If my knowledge of my workmates is anything to go by people tend to be late because they didn't get up earlier enough, didn't leave earlier enough, poorly planned their route, etc.

Any number of factors can happen on the road. Everyone should prepare themselves for delay as this is the nature of road use, the fact is also that with so many private cars being used it is statistically more likely the other drivers that will slow you down, not the cyclists.

If only 5% say they had a collision that was caused via a cyclist, out of a 1000 motorist sample (a statistical irrelevance in all reality) - then this is a pretty low number. I don't doubt them, but these numbers say to me: rarity.

Look. We all see cyclists that have ridden on a pavement or gone through a red light - only 9% of their cycling sample want red light running to be legal, that means 91% of their sample probably appreciate why the light is there (and possibly why we shouldn't ride pavements). However! How many drivers run the lights, bump up on pavements to park or take a cheeky shortcut? I've seen this far more predominantly than cyclists, even with the sheer danger some motorists pose to everyone else when they see the light has just changed, they accelerate and fly through a junction.

Several junctions I know had the attribute where you wont be able to go on green because 3 or 4 drivers go through on the red. They perhaps have the mindset that "'s only JUST changed!" This is the wrong mindset to have, and one day a visually impaired pedestrian might step out on that crossing and get hit or killed by said driver.

25% want cyclists to pay "road tax" which in fairness is a Strawman. It doesn't exist, and at best it could be argued that Vehicle Excise Duty is a green levy on emissions. An attempt to convince motorists to buy less polluting cars, or indeed opt for cycling and walking, you might say. Perhaps should do more to educate their drivers and sample what exactly they pay and why? Education leads to tolerance, not repeating the same old spiel and patting motorists on the back and saying "there there!" as if they have somehow been victimised and treated unfairly.

14% of angry drivers want number plates on cycles. Key word: "angry." Point of logic: if this is the case then why haven't bad drivers actually been tackled more severely and in higher numbers? They do have plates, after all.

It is important to remember that any sample of 1000 is very insignificant when there are 32 million motorists, and a potential of 13 million cyclists (London School of Economics). True data tends to be garnered from constant analysis and bigger surveys.

Most cyclists do behave, but to denigrate those acting in a legal manner is dangerous - it leads to hostility. This has been happening for the past 10-15 years, so is it any wonder that their cyclist sample (who are in all reality most likely to be drivers too, given that they filled out a motoring-insurance survey) has experienced such negative attitudes from motorists such as swearing (24%), chased (4%), run off the road (14%), hit by motorists (13%) or their doors being opened without checking the way is clear (11%, though if you add these up technically that 23% being hit my motorists on their sample).

The sad reality is, despite their Gareth Kloet talking about respect and courtesy, this article does little to actually sort out the real issues. It just trots out the same old diatribe.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Big Solar Backtrack - The True Problem with Solar

David Cameron has a lot to answer for. He has made persistent claims about "the greenest government ever" yet even non-environmentalists such as myself can see glaring holes in this claim.

The 80mph motorway proposals, designed to burn even more fuel. The cuts to environmental government bodies, which it appears to have been done on the back of public opinion rather than that of the scientists who study anything environmental. Now the Government are cutting feed-in tariffs.

What essentially happened was that those with solar and wind power generators created a small amount of electricity and this was added back into the Grid. It shared the load between the powerstations and independent power production.

To me there are several issues with the cuts here: job losses as already stated by members of the Liberals and Greens, but also cuts that will stem future growth. How can technology develop if there is no money going into the industry? As it stands people like myself cannot afford solar panels for our homes, and as we all have experienced with previous technologies such as mobile phones, cars, televisions, computers etc - the MORE people who buy into said development, the cheaper it becomes.

With computers it was big business that bought and drove down the prices, spurring future progress. With solar power big business seems actively against it. However, to me, many large public and business buildings have great opportunity to install panels and generate power. Those that DID invest appeared to suck up the Government grants, when in reality this should have been reserved for ordinary home owners and smaller public buildings. Big business should be supplying their own damn panels.

Whilst there is no development and investment in this technology there will be no progress. Therefore the antis will continue to moan it doesn't work. Stalemate!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Today was a brisk morning, yet for some odd reason the birds were still out tweeting like a twitter fiend. I could hear the faint breeze whizzing through the vents in my helmet like a comet through the stars. Like a Tory promise to the working class slipping through the fingers...

So there I was approaching a left turn off the main road. Little in the way of traffic, it still being early I could see a pedestrian approaching the crossing point, a small traffic island in the middle of the road I wished to turn into. I had my arm out and slowed down to anticipate his crossing. He didn't so I turned, but as I drew parallel with him, he walking away from the main road, he stepped out into my path without looking or stopping.

Its a thankful thing, riding at walking speed, as cornering does tend to slow me right down. I braked, my cantis squealed. He poo'd his pants, yet I felt strangely compelled to apologise for scaring the guy. He stepped back and I continued upon my way.

All of this happened in a brief moment, an unromantic brief encounter you might say. (LOL)

He was not the only person to be scared this morning. Riding around a roundabout (probably the best way to navigate one, though I haven't yet managed to transmutate across one) earlier I had been following a young woman around (not in that way). As she approached the next junction a van driver did a rolling stop.

The trouble with a rolling stop and cyclists is we don't know if you're actually stopping, if you've seen us, or if you're just about to thrust the accelerator. She screamed, the van driver looked bemused in a "what have I done" kind of a way, and we both rode off.

The golden rule for me is this: if there is traffic already on the roundabout then just stop. Don't do a rolling-stop as it sends out confusing signals. And that is as true for drivers as it is anyone on the road.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Stupid Things Cyclists Sometimes Do

Today I tried to offer advice to a fellow rider.

Now there were two problems with this right from the off. Firstly I was tired, so what came out of my mouth probably sounded to this guy how English sounds to a dog. "Mwwwhheeezeeee blugghhhhhh hold backkkaaahhh...." Secondly I think he only heard part of what I said as I was managing to ride a little faster.

I first encountered this rider after leaving a roundabout and heading up towards a bend. He was a man in his late 40s I estimate, on a normal sit up and beg style of bike, in normal clothes and with a hiviz tabbard. He wasn't particularly fast so I rode past as it was safe and clear.

I pulled up and sat behind a white car at the lights further along. There is an ASL, but being only one car it would have been pointless in the extreme. Plus I could draft the car off the green when it finally did arrive, which is never long. As the light hit amber the Gent on the upright undertook both myself and the white car in the left-turn lane. From his position it appeared he was trying to reach the ASL and then head straight across the junction (rather than a left turn), however he was now in the driver's blindspot and almost clipped by the car as it set off.

It makes you wonder: will this cyclist one day make the assumption that cycling is "dangerous" and not see the link between his actions and the close-call?

So here is the message I wanted to convey. As he undertook - just hold back for 2 seconds, the lights will change very soon. I tried to say this as I passed for the second time, sadly it didn't come across as English, more dog. Sometimes its safer to sit behind a car, rather than fight to get to and ASL. ASLs are not obligatory for cyclists.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Bontrager Flare3 vs Knog Skink

Its dark out there. You need lights to be seen by others at this time of night (8:40pm) or if it is pissing down during the day. Most road users will actively look for lights and nothing says "bike" more than flashing lights.

The Bontrager Flare 3 is similar to a Smart Halfwatt, but this has two 0.5w LEDs, plus two side facing LEDs of less brightness to make you more visible to vehicles waiting at junctions. There are only two modes: steady with one of the 0.5w LEDs on, and a strobe flash where all four flicker on in a sequence.

The strobe flash works best when used with another light in steady mode. In my opinion Bontrager have missed a trick - they could have included more options. They could also have put moulding on the red plastic to diffuse the light at the sides and centre back as this would reduce glare.

The fittings are good. You can clip in with one or two permanent post clips, or there is the option of a silicone clamp that tightly fits the seatpost. The light is about £20 and can also be screwed in to a pannier rack.

The Knog Skink also uses a silicone clamp. In fact it is the only fitting option it has. Its tighter and more secure than the Flare and comes in a variety of colours. I do feel the white and clear silicones are best as they light up at the sides.

The Skink LEDs are less bright than the Flare, and there are only 4 (plus one next to the on-switch, oddly). I bought mine for £12, it has several flashing and one solid steady mode. Its also about half the brightness and not suitable for daytime riding where you feel the conditions dictate using a rear light.

Still, both lights are great for the money. There's no excuse for being unlit at these prices.

Why New Cyclists are Important

Much of the campaigning for safer roads and better access for cyclists tends to be done by the more seasoned cyclist, people who have ridden for a number of years. They have some insight into how the roads gave way to cars and junctions have changed, how inner-city traffic has increased, and how the road surfaces themselves have deteriorated.

So what do I mean by "new cyclists" and why are they important?

By new we're effectively talking about those most recent cyclists, usually riding for 2 years or less. They are typically less confident and less experienced, and more likely to give up cycling due to what can sometimes be the trial-by-fire nature the roads present.

Most importantly they bridge the gap between non-cyclist and cyclist. They have their most recent experiences and attitudes challenged by a new approach, their mindset still mostly non-cycling related this allows them to both see things sometimes in a new light and also to realise an empathy with the more experienced riders.

Nothing says "lets change" more than a new cyclist trying to ride a route they have previously driven and finding that the road surface is very uncomfortable or that a driver cuts them up. This is instant empathy.

It has been realised by many that space on the road is running out. In Southampton during peak periods you simply cannot get any more motor vehicles on the roads, with the exception of motorbikes who's riders do their bit for congestion - who should equally be encouraged as a benefit for longer distances and parking solutions. Cycling too, has its place in helping people get about quickly, efficiently and cheaply.

This is why we need to encourage more people to cycle, and show them that it doesn't need to be done in lycra or for a rider to get sweaty to see some kind of benefit. Why drive the car 2 miles to work when there are other options? It will in the very least save you a couple of hundred quid a year. Why sit in that traffic jam when motorbikes and cyclists are the only ones with momentum?

There has to be a better way. There is a better way.

I read a news paper article in February that said obesity operations had risen 70% on the NHS. This has been costing the taxpayer £20 million extra. Obesity related illness is costing the taxpayer £4.3 billion a year, obesity is on the rise. Surgery is not the only way to combat this, people cannot get fit and healthy driving to work and a sea change in culture is needed: change the way people eat, increase peoples' activity rates.

We were designed to move. Lets now give those who want to cycle the infrastructure that encourages them to do so at their own pace in comfort and safety, and without mixing with the motor traffic they so fear:

"...Cycling in London often feels very dangerous to me, too. Today I was riding along Gray's Inn road and a Royal Mail van travelling at too high a speed, almost clipped me. My heart was in my throat..."

We don't necessarily have to "Go Dutch" everywhere to achieve this, but a network of decent cycle routes, free from the majority of motor vehicles will be some way towards reducing obesity and putting more money in the peoples' pocket. In Southampton alone there are many parallel routes that could be divided up to create  motor networks and cycle networks, increasing the efficient flow of all traffic in the area.

New cyclists are that important.

Lastly, when someone moans "f***ing cyclists" it is the new cyclist who will most likely be listened to and give an appreciable opinion that challenges misconceptions.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Are you a member of T.I.T.S.?

Membership of T.I.T.S. is growing fast, and unlike most road user groups it isn't specific to one vehicle type (eg motorists using cars, trucks, motorbikes or pedal cyclists). There are many advantages to T.I.T.S. including getting there faster. (Where ever "there" actually is...)

To be a member all you have to do is the following:
- Ignore all red lights. They're for the little people.
- Blast past drivers who have pulled over to let priority traffic pass through.
- Pull out of junctions forcing all and sundry to jam on the brakes. Waiting is for mortals.
- Bi-pass those waiting for a parking space and steal it off them, and when they complain just laugh at them as if you simply do not understand.


Are you on foot and too important to stop? Then just wander into the road without looking - that bus has brakes, make him use them. It's your right, after all! Walk to work too distant? Then cut across peoples gardens by jumping short walls and fences. Getting on the bus, just carry on shouting down that mobile phone when the driver is asking you the destination, because after all - you're Too Important To Stop!


Monday, 7 November 2011

This is why people wont cycle!

Riding into work today I approached a red light. At the red light there is an ASL, with a "keep clear" immediately before it. No motor vehicle should be entering either of these zones whilst that light is on red, and one might even be fined for it if they did get caught (not that the authorities give a shit).

The first problem came from the motorcyclist who cut me up as I entered the "keep clear" to access the ASL. It turned out he was a learner so I let it pass. Everyone has to start somewhere and I had safely managed to avoid him. I sat in the ASL and waited for green.

Green came and the motorcyclist thundered past, sadly the imbecile behind him thought he too could squeeze through like a donkey's dick in a midget.

The thing is I had already taken primary due to the narrowness of the road (parked cars to my left, waiting traffic on my right heading the other way). Imbecile behind, with a drosophilia-dick for a brain decided to play Mr Toad and bang his horn.

"Where do you think I'm going to go? Levitate?!!" I said, already doing about 20mph due to the downhill stretch. "Wait until it is safe!!!"

He remained right up my arse for further 20 feet until an opening arrived. I was not pleased at this anal examination and as he passed he drew parallel, shouting incomprehensible oddities due to the windows being up, and waving his fist at me. He then pointed at the pavement, they always point at the pavement, perhaps this is why some cities have a problem with pavement cycling thanks to the saintly advice admonished by morons like this?

And yes, I'm not proud, but I did ask him to pull over and chat face-to-face. Strange how brave he became by driving off at speed and launching his car over a speed bump like an 8 year old on a BMX.


Saturday, 5 November 2011

What is this new Darwinism?

Go through any comments section on youtube or a news story about someone's luck escape and you're now bound to come across someone mentioning Darwinism.

Charles Darwin wrote pivotal ideas on how and why species survive and thrive, and why others eventually die out. Evolutionary biology later formed as a more solid theory and many ideas were subsequently proven through careful and repeated scientific processes and study.

The problem comes from idiots using a keyboard to write such messages as: "Stupid bitch! Got what she deserved, doesn't she know what Darwinism is? That's why intelligent people live!"

In one fell swoop they demonstrate their ignorance on evolution. Darwinism, if it exists IS the theory of evolution and the preservation of Darwin's understanding and ethos. People don't survive disaster because of intellect alone, luck plays a part, as does the judgement of others. Genes have no part to play in the death of someone who dies as the result of falling from a bridge, or being hit by a driver who has ignored the risks to others near a zebra crossing by going too fast.

We are no longer pivotal in Europe

It became glaringly obvious this week to me just how out of step we are with the rest of Europe. David Cameron had several meetings with Sarkastic and that German Gal, who to me looked like the popular kids in the playground. Cameron, some how, has found entry into their uber-cool party (perhaps he'd brought some beer that he stole from his father?). He stands there, all excited and tries to blend in, but just like any other uncool kid he stands out like a sore thumb.

Sarkozy - I seem to recall - even made a bit of a jibe at Cameron. A "why are you here, exactly?" We, the British wanted free trade and business links, but we didn't want to be part of a single currency. We don't fit in. Perhaps they resent us, and perhaps that's a good thing.

Comment made in several newspapers this week suggests that regulation of big business and banks is unworkable unless everyone else around the world does it too. This is a major cop-out. No-one is going to take a first step this way, it needs one nation to be a leader, to stick its head out from the arsehole of Europe and the World Economy and make a difference.

The British Government is here to serve the people - NOT big business, and the sooner they realise this the better. It is they that have destroyed the vote and lead to a record drop off in voting numbers in the past 30 years. I speak of all administrations here obviously. Constantly fellating the milky "goodness" of big business is to ignore where their hands are going, only to notice some while later that your wallet is missing!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Beware the "Poppy Nazi"

A new type of person seems to have crawled out from under a rock. This cantankerous and aggressive individual runs around at this very time of year interrogating people as to why a certain flower is not presently adorned.


I am all for supporting the British Legion. They are probably one of the Great unsung heroes of charity work. An elderly man I used to know, the man who cut my hair as a boy, was helped by them. He fought in World War 2, although he would never have admitted it - he was a hero.

Sadly my work uniform will not allow me to wear a poppy. It would simply get knocked off or caught on the machinery. My friends know that I give what I can afford, a few quid to the Legion and that's usually enough for us. Though I have recently been tempted to fit a large poppy to the bike.

What the interrogators have to understand is how those good Men and Women died due to conflict, they fought on bravely so that we would have freedom of choice in many aspects of life, and that includes the choice to wear a poppy.