Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Home Sweet Home

I had a wee sojourn to Englandshire this past weekend. The purpose of my trip was to hear the superb young tenor Jonathan Antoine sing. Unfortunately the concert was in Porthcawl, South Wales, though we managed to meet up with family enroute for a couple of hours.

My time was limited and it was decided the journey would have to be no longer than 48 hours.  Little did I realise, although I did some research on English motorway conditions, that we would be driving or stationary for 23 of these hours.

The trip to the border was a breeze, although there wasn’t enough to turn any of these white carbuncles which intrude upon our wonderful landscapes.  During the 500 miles journey I saw only 5 turbines moving. (The 5 is not a typing error).

However, this post is not about wind farms, but about the state of one of the main arteries between Scotland and England.

No sooner had we crossed the border at Gretna when we were held up for 95 minutes.  No explanation appeared on these overhead gantries. It was a local radio announcement that gave us minimal information.  

Once we passed the accident (a car had hit the central reservation barrier but there was no ambulance present so it didn’t appear as if there were any serious injuries involved), we thought ‘full steam ahead now’.  I realise it’s fatal to think positively on England’s motorways. Ten miles further on saw us grinding to another halt.  The problem this time was roadworks.  From that northerly part of the M6 to Bristol on the M5, 40% of the journey involved roadworks; all of which had a speed limit of 40 or 50 mph.  A journey which should have taken around 8-9 hours turned into a nightmare taking nearly 14 hours.  Our average speed was around 35mph I calculated.  

Here in Scotland another Forth road bridge is being built to ensure our traffic flows.  A solid infrastructure is essential to the prosperity of a country.  With the exception of the small section of toll motorway in the Midlands, the M6 and M5 have never been altered since their construction. With nose to tail traffic for hundreds of miles, is it any wonder the economy is in dire straights?  (I don’t believe Osborne’s predictions that it is improving).  Much of the traffic was commercial.  

Of course the greenies want us all to sell our cars and use public transport, but I would have had to change trains four times to get to Porthcawl and then pay taxi fares to reach my destination and the cost was much more than travelling by car.  That was on paper.  In reality our fuel costs nearly doubled because of the miles of nose to tail stop/start conditions.

When crossing the border on the return journey I was never more delighted to see the sign ‘Scotland’ and breathed a big sigh of pleasure.  Should I ever have to travel to the south/south west again I will fly, but right at this moment I’d be quite happy never to return further south than Penrith.

Why do people in England tolerate such poor roads?  It would seem the greenies, with their public transport policies, have won.  I’m sure those travelling on the buses I often saw alongside us, may have had different opinions.

The concert was wonderful by the way and worth the journey.  When this young man’s solos album is released in October, I think he will take the world by storm.  Quite probably this was the last time he would perform in a small, intimate concert hall and that’s why I was so determined to be there.  Vast arenas, in which the performers are the size of matchsticks, aren’t for me no matter how big the stage video screens. 

Friday, 8 August 2014

A Brief History of the Pound

Found on Facebook the other day, I thought this may interest some of you.  Haven’t checked the historical facts avidly, but from my limited knowledge, they seem fairly accurate.  Click image to enlarge as usual.

Editor’s note to JRB :  Could you please email me as I have some, hopefully pleasing, news for you.  Email address over there > >  Thanks.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Was There A Winner?

 I have yet to watch the whole STV broadcast of the debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, but what little I did see I found disappointing.

The other day I read Alex Salmond had ‘been taking lessons in delivery technique’ and I expect the leader of the Better Together campaign received similar tuition.  But the question is was it worthwhile?

Alistair Darling appeared to be his usual self -  just managing to stay slightly above the ‘boring’ threshold.  (The part of the programme I did see last night was when the currency for an independent Scotland was discussed.)

What was wrong with Alex Salmond?  I’ve heard him speak several times over the years and was always left feeling reinvigorated in my desire for  Scotland’s independence but last night Mr Salmond seemed to be sedated.  Where was his passion?  Where was his conviction? Surely he knew that Darling would push the ‘Plan B’ issue.  I was prepared for a feisty response, but was left feeling disappointed.

The currency issue matters a great deal to many of my friends.  It’s their main reason for swithering and I was hoping they would be more assured once Alex Salmond explained his policy last night.  Hope wasn’t enough.  I felt deflated.  His responses were adequate but lacked the usual Salmond persuasiveness.

It’s probably quite unfair of me to judge the debate on a 20 minute section, but currency is one of the most crucial elements of any country’s ability to stand alone.

There have been rumours over the years that Alex Salmond suffers badly from back problems.  Yesterday could just have been ‘one of those days’.  Unfortunately, the public are fickle and make no allowances for bad days.  

Then again, it crossed my mind he was over-rehearsed.  That can lead to a flat delivery.

What did you make of it?  Apologies to those of you outside Scotland who were unable to view it. For ITV to assume there would be no interest outwith Scotland is arrogant - to say the least.

Here is Craig Murray’s assessment of the programme.  Once I’ve watched all of it I’ll probably more or less agree with him.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black Black Oil

The quality is poor but the story excellent.  If you have one and a half hours to spare on a wet afternoon or evening then it’s worth viewing.

I’ve had this in draft form for a week, but thought the weather was too good for anyone to sit inside at a computer.

Rain is forecast here later today and TV is usually rubbish on Saturdays, so perhaps you will view it over the weekend.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Ban The Burqa

At long last a Muslim speaks out.  I agree with him, do you?

I’ve also found an interview Taj Hargay had with David Frost three years ago.  He was of a similar opinion then although the article writer alleges he was not an imam.  Does that matter?

It’s quite concerning how the radical feminist lobbies are progressing in the UK.  Back in the 60s I supported the calls for equality between the sexes but I had no idea then that, a few decades later, men would become so invisible in society.  

We are government mainly by men, but women now dominate society. Earlier today I read that 47% of babies today are born out of wedlock.  There is a noticeable absence of fathers in many children’s lives.

I digress.  Recently the European Court of Human Rights upheld France’s burqa ban, accepting Paris’s argument that it encouraged citizens to ‘live together’.  The case was brought by an unnamed 24 year old French citizen of Pakistani origin, who wears both the burqa, covering her entire head and body, and the niqab, leaving only her eyes uncovered.

She was represented by solicitors from Birmingham.  Why? Are there no human rights lawyers in France?

Belgium introduced a similar ban in 2011.

What are we afraid of? Ban the burqa. It’s everyone’s right to interact with someone by looking them in the face and any legislation should also include the necessity for the removal of face coverings, scarves, veils, turbans, helmets etc for security checks.  

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