09 July, 2006


Department of appalling jokes

The judge, uncharacteristically subdued, addressed the court on Monday morning.

"I fear I must offer you all my apologies for bringing you here today on a wasted errand. I wrote up my judgement in this case while at my country retreat over the weekend, but I now find that I must have left it behind when I set out for London yesterday evening. I have engaged the services of what I believe is known as a motorcycle courier but I am advised that the document will not be here until late afternoon. Court is adjourned until tomorrow morning."

As the court prepared to rise, a solictor's clerk, an ambitious and eager young man of humble north-country origins with a strong regional accent, spoke up from the well of the court.

"Fax it, M'Lud!"

His Lordship, who it has to be said was a touch deaf, peered unsympathetically at the young man over the top of his half-moon spectacles. The hostile stare stretched on and on and the young clerk began to feel rather nervous. Finally the judge's shoulders sagged, and he replied in a resigned tone,

"Yes, I suppose it does, young man."


The country would fall apart without them

This tale of the NHS from Dr Crippen (scroll down a fair way) (via the Devil). The good doctor's focus is on poor communications and ineffective management generally, but the following paragraph caught my jaundiced eye:
I sent Julie’s mother into hospital nine days ago. Julie is phoning me on her mobile from outside the ward. The nursing care is appalling. Most of the nurses do not speak English. The ones that do have suggested that Julie speaks to a doctor. She has spent all morning on the ward waiting to see a doctor, but none has come.
Presumably these hermanas incomunicadas are the "migrant workers upon whom our public services depend and without whom the country would rapidly grind to a halt".

08 July, 2006


The Boy King gets it wrong again

Today's Times tells us that the Tories are not just ready to soften their mildly anti-immigration policies but, it seems, to become actively pro-immigrationist.
The Conservatives will next week ditch hardline policies on immigration that were widely seen to have backfired at the last election.

As they attempt to create a more “civilised” approach, David Cameron’s party will consult ethnic minority groups in big cities and begin to extol the benefits of migration,...

By whom, I wonder, were their "hardline" policies widely seen to have backfired? As I recall it, the Tories got cold feet and started soft-pedalling on the topic for all they were worth about two weeks before polling day. What backfired, ie what caused them to lose potential voters, was their failure to convincingly promote and support the one policy that clearly differentiated them from the other two main parties, the Sandals and Sodomy Tendency and the Sultans of Spin.

In the forty years I have been entitled to vote I have never voted Conservative, either at national or local level. Before the final collapse of the post-War consensus, ie before the excesses of Thatcherism and NuLabor, I generally held to the view that (Old) Labour were better at national level, because they had a broader strategic, long-termist vision, while the Tories were better locally because they kept a tighter hand on the purse strings and were less likely to waste the punters' dosh on drop-in centres for one-legged Black lesbians.

But I've never quite been able to bring myself to vote for the Tories, even in local elections. At heart I'm an Old Labour man of the Gaitskellite tendency. Last year, with Howard talking tough on immigration and sounding as if he meant it, I was on the verge of voting Conservative for the first time ever. As will be plain from this blog and my comments to other blogs, I regard mass immigration as the single most important issue facing the UK.

Then the bastard chickened out and left me disenfranchised again.

02 July, 2006


Is this your used bus ticket, sir?

There are now, apparently, four London boroughs which have introduced, or are committed to introducing, penalties for failing to segregate recyclable rubbish. This is all very commendable, no doubt, but just how are they going to enforce it? How do they propose to identify the delinquents?

The actual crime, misdemeanour, antisocial act, offence against the common good -- whatever you propose to call it -- is to put recyclable material in with the residual non-recyclable rubbish which is destined for the landfill or incinerator. To demonstrate that someone is doing that you have to open up their nasty smelly binbag and rummage for paper, tincans, glass bottles and anything else which has been designated for recycling. What They will of course be doing in practice is following the less unpleasant course of peering into the householder's gaggle of council-provided brown, green and sky-blue-pink recycling crates. An empty crate will be taken as prima facie evidence of non-compliance, as indeed will the presence of any non-qualifying general rubbish helpfully added to the crate by one of the local herberts.

I look forward then to receiving my first non-compliance notice when my Borough decides to join the "Tough on rubbish, tough on the causes of rubbish" tendency. I have been assigned the full complement of council-provided recycling containers, but I ignore them, preferring to drop off recyclables at the bank of public bins next to the railway station. This is partly out of habit -- the public recycling point has been there for years -- and partly because, if I were to set out all of these crates and bins and use them, my poor little token patch of South London front garden would be more or less covered in the damned things.

OK, so the station is only 200m away and, being fortunate enough to be in full-time employment, I visit it most days of the week. But suppose I did start to use my recycling crates. You can't assume that I will generate every category of recyclable. For example, although I am notoriously unaverse to alcohol, I generally do my drinking down the pub, and they are kind enough to dispose of the resulting empties. The only empty glass containers emanating from my house in reliably steady quantities are those in which freeze-dried coffee is sold. Were I to suddenly develop an exclusive preference for tea, would I find myself having conversations with the local council's enforcement officer along the lines of, "Come on now, sir, you're not seriously expecting us to believe you don't use glass bottles and jars, are you?"

Perhaps there's a marketing opportunity here, selling packets of washed, pre-sorted rubbish to householders who are worried about not being seen to meet their recycling quotas. (Actually, now I think of it, something perversely comparable did feature in an episode of the Goon Show, where they were collecting dustbins' full of rubbish from the well-off and giving it to people in the East End (viz Henry Crun and Minnie Bannister) who were too poor to generate their own rubbish.)

"Next case. What's the charge?"
"Failed to meet his recycling target, yer honour."
"Fiend! Seven years. Take the blighter down!"

I await developments with interest.

[UPDATE 2006-07-12] Round One to common sense.

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