29 August, 2012



Bexley father arrested after driving boy accused of
shooting his son to police station

Oh yes?

A father who drove a teenager to Bexleyheath police station for shooting his 12-year-old son with a BB gun was arrested and thrown in a cell for seven hours.

Stuart Pettman, of Bexley Village, was arrested on August 19 by four officers in front of his 14-year-old daughter and had his fingerprints, photos and DNA taken.

Perhaps he said something to upset the policemen. Easily done.

The 43-year-old was trying to get justice for his son Oliver who had been shot with a BB gun the day before after being confronted by a group of youths in Bexley's Golden Acre Park.

And do we know anything about these, er, youths?

Mr Pettman told News Shopper: "One of them called Oliver racist.

Hmm. Well here's young Olly:

So then we must be dealing with Youths Of Implicit Appearance.

"Oliver said he wasn't racist but the boy shot him in the leg and asked 'did that hurt?'.

"When Oliver said no, he shot him in the back and asked 'did that hurt?'.

"He told Oliver to kiss his feet and when he refused he shot him point blank in the head.

Well, it has to be said: that is jolly uncordial.

After reporting the incident to police, the businessman decided to cheer up his son by taking him for a meal - but while driving through Bexley Village they spotted the youth who had shot Oliver.

Mr Pettman said: "I was very angry and grabbed him by his shirt and told him to get in the car and that I was taking him to the police station.

"I did shout because I wanted to shock him but shouting and swearing is not against the law."

Ah, the police were unhappy because of a demarcation issue. They were supposed to do that bit. Assuming they ever caught up with the "youth".

During his interview the boy alleged Mr Pettman had assaulted him and had a hack saw blade with him - which turned out to be Mr Pettman's keys.

Perfectly understandable. All a matter of which everyday objects one is most familiar with.

Mr Pettman has decided to move his family to Singapore following the ordeal.

He said: "This is just typical of broken Britain and I have had enough.

"I work hard, I don’t break the law, I’m polite, I try to do the right thing all the time and they treated me like a criminal."

I sympathize. But a bit drastic, to be honest.

Sarcasm apart, one worrying thing I take from this incident is the tendency of toerags of colour to reach automatically for the race card. OK, we know only what is directly reported in the News Shopper piece about the behaviour of Mr Pettman and his son, but I am going to make the assumption that Oliver did not in fact do or say anything to justify an accusation of racism. Outnumbered by a group of Youths of Implicit Appearance, that would have been foolish and the consequences probably rather more unpleasant.

If that is the case, then he was presumably accused of racism simply for being White. Forty years of official antiracism has taught "people of colour" who were born or at least educated in this country that they are victims and that their victimhood is the fault of White people. Whitey is to blame and anything you do to him is justified retribution.

If that attitude doesn't change, it's going to get "interesting" when this becomes a White minority country. The Righteous might like to start looking for a nice white country to escape to, or investing in bulk supplies of tanning lotion, or failing all that praying hard for the actual emergence of the choc-ice nation their fantasies are based on.

25 August, 2012


The bells, the bells!

I can't say I'm too impressed with Royal Mail's super up-to-the-minute plan for dealing with failed parcel deliveries — viz knocking on the neighbours' door and getting them to take it in. That does rather depend on the neighbours in question: we don't all live in pretty little villages where everybody has known everybody else (and all their business) for generations.

Both the houses on either side of me are bought-to-let places with a typical occupancy period of about a year. I've got to know the current tenant on one side — at the address I wrote about here — who seems a decent enough sort of cove. The person on the other side I've never seen. I've heard them banging about at odd times of the day or night. Oddly enough I do know their name, since I get a fair amount of their post — some of our postmen use the "close enough" delivery technique, leaving the actual recipient to make any necessary final corrections. I having been using gender-neutral language above, incidentally, because the unseen person next door has a Muslim name, probably of Afpak origin, and the gender association, if any, of the particular forename is unfamiliar to me.

The latest misdelivery intended for this particular neighbour was, er, a recorded delivery (to be signed for) item, just shoved through my letter box. I wonder what signature appears on the postman's tracking documentation for that one.

On the whole, when the postman cannot deliver something because I am not in to give a signature or to open the door for a packet too large for the letterbox, I am perfectly happy with my existing practice, which is to get the sorting office to deliver the item to my local post office (200m away from me) for collection. That service costs 50p per packet, which is peanuts, and the two-day delay can easily be quicker than relying on a neighbour. The last time I took in a delivery for a neighbour — the Persian lady who used to live in the house now occupied by the Afpak ghost — it took me 7 days to catch up with her.

OK, then, why is this post titled The bells, the bells!?

Well, I recently had a curious delivery experience. No, no, no, I don't mean I've given birth, which would be biologically "interesting" for a 64-year-old male, but I have taken delivery of a couple of items which needed to be signed for because of their high value. The logistical facilitator in this case was not the dear old Royal Mail or its heavy lifters, Parcel Force, but one of those numerous delivery companies which have destroyed the financial basis of the universal uniform-rate postal service by assiduously sucking out all the profitable traffic and leaving the nationalized rump to deal with the residual rubbish traffic, heavily subsidized by the taxpayer.

But the economic politics of the universal service obligation are a matter for another time.

It was quite a snazzy operation, in theory. I received text messages giving me a day's notice of the expected time of delivery to within a couple of hours. So I made sure I was in during the notified time frame, respectably dressed and ready to answer the door at a moment's notice and not swinging stark bollock-naked from the chandelier making Tarzan noises as I usually am at that time of the morning. The time came. And the time went. No delivery.

As it happens said delivery company has a website with parcel tracking software that sort of works, so I visited the site and checked on the status of my consignment. The log told me that the driver had called at a particular time, within the agreed timeframe, and that he had failed to gain access. In the notes field he had written the single word "bell". The delivery was deferred until the following day. Interestingly, there was no text message advising me of this. Clearly a high-tech system, but only a fair-weather high-tech system that doesn't manage actual problems.

Hmm. An incredible suspicion began to form. A bit of context is needed here. My front-door bell doesn't work. It hasn't worked for a while. This doesn't particularly bother me. When it was still working it always took me by surprise when it rang and made me panic for some unexplained reason. A knock on the door doesn't seem to have that effect. Doubtless the effect of some dreadful childhood trauma. Anyway, I'm in no hurry to get it fixed. But until I finally get round to removing the pushbutton from the door I don't want people pressing it and expecting an answer, so the button is taped over. Now the postman, the electric-meter reader (who still calls regularly despite the fact that I read my own meter — joined-up contracting there, EDF), the local Jehovah's Witnesses and every other unexpected caller seems to have worked out that the most productive strategy in the absence of a doorbell on the front door of a domestic property is to knock on the door.

But not this guy. So I rang the helpline and spoke to a nice lady who arranged for the driver to be told to do just that on his next call. To be fair, as he must have still been in the general area at the time he did actually call on the off chance a couple of hours later, rather than leaving the job until the following morning.

I'm having trouble getting my head round all of this. I keep asking myself, suppose I hadn't investigated the situation and called in with instructions on how to knock on doors, would the same driver have turned up the following morning, noted the absence of a working doorbell, and gone away. And so on until the procedure kicked in that returned the goods to the supplier as undeliverable. The mind boggles gently but worryingly.

Anyway, despite all of that I am now the proud possessor of a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S3 phone. That's going to be a bit of a learning curve for a relic who cut his computing teeth on the sort of room-filling machine you communicated with using a teletype — with printer output not CRT.

Some serious RTFM of the 181-page manual and lots of finger-swiping practice is called for before I feel confident enough to migrate the number across from my Nokia. At least I can I can visit Julia's site again, which the Nokia 5230's browser couldn't cope with after she changed the background image.

Ah the joys of the twenty-first century.

24 August, 2012


Tales from the Multiculture: a very angry man

I was travelling peacefully on the Greenwich and Woolwich line yesterday, surrounded by a modest sprinkling of general vibrancy, when a penetrating basso profundo voice hove into earshot. This was a Willard White-class voice which filled the carriage. The voice belonged to large middle-aged Black gentleman, scruffily dressed in the obligatory black clothing, dreadlocks, bulging angry eyes and a bottle of what was presumably alcohol in his hand.

He settled across the aisle and continued to apostrophize the carriage at large. What about was difficult to tell. It was unclear what language, if any, he was speaking. It sounded like an African language spoken in a Jamaican accent, interspersed with occasional English words — mostly the sort of English words which I suspect got this blog put on the "over 18s only" list by mobile-phone internet service providers.

Whatever he was saying, he was very angry about it. And he seemed to take a particular dislike to me. Whether that was personal or because I happened to be White and the closest target was uncertain. It probably doesn't matter, to be honest, but I did get the strong impression that whatever injustice or oppression he was unhappy about was definitely going to be my fault.

Just for a moment there I was almost tempted to get out my sexy new phone and film his antics for the wider audience, to add to the growing YouTube canon of angry folk on public transport movies. But then again, chummy was angry enough and volatile enough that pointing a camera at him might well have been to invite a damned good enriching.

22 August, 2012


Sauce goose and gander

The bus racist (as she will undoubtedly become known) has been arrested, largely, I suspect, as a result of the persistence of people like Casuals United who have pestered the police and the media and forced them to realize that the matter would not be allowed to drop.

Whether anything comes of this remains to be seen. On one level, I would prefer that nothing come of it, and that the police and CPS get on with something more useful. But then I'd apply the same thinking to the cases of Emma West (whose trial is currently set to resume on 5 September, I believe) and Jacqueline Woodhouse, who was banged up for 5 months.

Unfortunately the issue has become one of fairness, not justice or common sense. In all those interminable CiF threads about race, immigration and identity we are repeatedly asked to define "Britishness". Actually, Britishness can't be pinned down in quite the sort of terse formula that the internationalists always demand: it's a damned sight more than the warm beer and morris dancing they sneeringly propose and, more to the point, it's difficult to see clearly because, outside the fully colonized areas, we are immersed in it. Woods and trees, old boy, woods and trees.

But one clearly identifiable core feature of Britishness is the concept of fairness. The British will put up with all manner of crap, provided the process is perceived to be even-handed. And coming down ridiculously hard on White people for rocking the race-relations boat — sometimes in effectively life-ruining ways; remember the young idiot Liam Stacey? — while pretending that non-White troublemakers either do not exist or are excused by victimhood or cultural dissonance ... well, I'm sorry, the natives are not going to stand for that for ever.

The FA seems to have learned this lesson, fining Rio Ferdinand two days' pay for his careless endorsement of the choc-ice tweet. And believe me, calling someone a choc-ice for collaborating with Whitey is a damned sight more racist than Mr Terry's alleged outburst.

Look at it this way. Ashley Cole was accused of being a collaborator for testifying in support of John Terry. What should he have done then? Lie? Refuse to testify?

Time for a spot of whataboutery, eh. An altercation takes place between a Black man and a White man. Witnesses see the Black man strike the White man in what appears to be an unprovoked attack. But I was there earlier and saw the White man refer to the other as a "fucking nigger" and spit in his face, provoking the violent response. The question is, do I keep shtum out of solidarity with my White brother? Or do I come forward and turn myself into a ... well, whatever confection is white on the outside but black on the inside?

Now that is proper racism. Incidentally, was any action ever taken against Piara Powar, executive director of, er, Football Against Racism in Europe, over his coconut tweet? A White bloke in his position (well, Jeremy Clarkson excepted) would have been out on his ear.

Commonsense has failed. Time to reply in kind.

20 August, 2012


Whatever happened to...

Wenlock and Mandeville?

As a resident of the Olympic zone, I've enjoyed many benefits. Perhaps the most pleasing, still in place in the interlude between the proper games and the ripple games (Could you rephrase that?—Ed. Piss off, mate!—Author), has been the temporary traffic diversion which has led to the east-bound 177 and 180 buses calling at the Wetherspoon in Greenwich. An hour or so sipping Russian lager and taking the piss out of the old geezers, keeping an eye out along Creek Road as you near the end of the second glass. An energetic waddle to the bus stop immediately outside the door as the bus pulls in and you're away to Woolwich on your magic Stagecoach (or Go-Ahead London, as the case may be).

A welcome opportunity to take in the vibrant diversity of South East London, which you don't see quite as much of on the train or the DLR (though they're definitely getting there). The increase in the number of hijabbed muslimas is noticeable. The bus companies are really going to have to have a think about rearranging the seating to increase the size of the pushchair/wheelchair area, tha knows. Otherwise it'll be the great pushchair riot of 2013, sparked off by a vicious fight between a Polish mother and a Muslim mother over a pushchair space on a 177 bus. Mark my words — something must be done — innit.

Anyway, I digress. Despite their status as the expensively designed official mascots of the London 2012 games, Manlock and Wendeville have been nowhere to be seen. There's a few forlorn-looking 8-inch soft dolls gathering dust in the window of the main tourist tat shop at Cutty Sark, looking disturbingly like some sort of obscure and probably insanitary ethnic sex toy. And they feature on the occasional advertising poster exhorting you to buy Olympics-branded souvenir toot. Apart from that, the sporty duo are noticeable mainly in their absence. Maybe — hopefully — the organizers realized what an abomination they are and quietly sidelined them.

Now that at least would be a result.

Ah well, only a week and a half till it starts again. Myself, I'm looking forward to the 24-hour mobility scooter race.

16 August, 2012



While the rest of us have been watching the Queen's granddaughter riding a dancing horse, or pretending that we were watching teams of fit young totty swinging hockey sticks at each other purely out of academic interest — honest, officer, I'm researching zettai ryouiki as part of my Japanese Studies degree — all the while the Righteous have been working themselves up into a frenzy of indignation over an adverb.

I learn of this via Sunny-ji, who froths concisely at

Watch: CNN reporter – Sikhs targeted “unfairly”

to general applause below the line.

The underlying story is of course that one of America's numerous roving mad gunmen has attacked the congregation of a gurdwara in Wisconsin, killing six worshippers and a copper. Wade Page is no longer available for interview but, we are told, was a White man with a "9/11 tattoo" and "white supremacist" affiliations. The inference being picked up by the media is that the attack might have been in retribution for the 9/11 atrocity, something which, outside of the Truther community, is acknowledged to have been carried out by Islamist extremists. The perpetrator may have mistaken his Sikh victims for Muslims, or perhaps more plausibly decided that one bunch of wogs is as bad, and as culpable, as any other.

Unpleasant but by no means implausible.

So what's all the fuss about, then? The CNN newsreader described the Sikh community as having been unfairly targeted.

Well I don't know about you, but I'd take that in the same way as describing young Thusha Kamaleswaran's shooting as being unfair. Remember her? A 5-year-old child playing in her father's shop and caught by crossfire during a gang shooting. That was unfair. Unfair in the sense that life is unfair and arbitrary. Unfair in the sense that she was totally uninvolved in the grievance-match that inspired the shooting but happened to be, as the phrase has it, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And so with the shooting of the Wisconsin Sikhs. It was unfair on them, in some vague karmic sense, being shot for being bearded brown-skinned men with funny hats by someone who presumably had a grievance against other bearded brown-skinned men some of whom wore funny hats.

But that wasn't good enough for the Righteous. To describe the attack on the Sikhs as "unfair" is, apparently, necessarily to imply that an attack on the "appropriate" target, Muslims, would have been acceptable. White man, it would seem, speak with forked tongue. Everything he say is racist, however he hides it.

Hmm. There are times when a Jewish joke is called for. (Identifiably Jewish perhaps only in the sense that I heard it told by Milton Shulman, but it is very much of that genre.)

Mrs Goldberg buys her son the doctor a birthday present, a pair of nice silk ties. Come the next duty visit to the parental home, the son, suppressing his sartorial instincts in favour of filial piety and the knowledge that he will be under close inspection, selects the less horrendous of the two ties to wear.

As he enters the parental parlour, his mother looks him up and down and greets him.

"So, you don't like the other tie!"

Pointless to engage with the Righteous other than in guerilla warfare, I increasingly feel. They always have another tie with which to condemn you.

14 August, 2012


English as she is spoke

Asad "Adenoids" Ahmad, reading the London news on this morning's BBC Breakfast,

A national action plan to tackle child abuse through witchcraft is being launched today...

Well, I'm all for radical solutions if they're effective. Or does that sentence not mean what it appears to mean?

Ah! Parsing is such sweet sorrow.

12 August, 2012


Tales from the Multiculture: caught in the act

When I went down to Greenwich yesterday it was actually quite busy. The Olympic visitors outnumbered the policemen, REOs and the spectator assistants with the big pink pointy glove thingies for once. (Apparently the latter — the assistants not the gloves — fall under the category of "games makers". Coo-er!) The temporary pedestrianized areas were actually made use of and the tumbleweed had gone into hiding.

I was taking refreshment in the crowded Gate Clock when I heard a shout from across the room. A slightly aggressive shout. I ignored it. A certain amount of boisterousness is not unusual in pubs. Some more shouts followed. Whether they were words or not was unclear. There was certainly an element of threat. Was a fight brewing? I looked about and eventually saw the source, a man who was remonstrating with a group of men who were at first confining him and subsequently restraining him. The body language seemed to make it clear that he was not being attacked but being prevented from moving away. He continued shouting, indistinctly and in a mixture of plaintive and threatening tones.

My first thought was that chummy was having a fit of some kind, or that he was coming down after a particularly bad trip, or some other medically violent cause and was being restrained to prevent him damaging himself or others. Then the buzz came through that he was in fact a pickpocket (and/or bag-dipper) who had been unlucky enough to be spotted in an act of furtive non-consensual property transfer.

The shouting continued, with the struggling thief being forcefully but not unnecessarily violently restrained by a group of young drinkers, until the police arrived. Their entrance was unexpectedly dramatic. Greenwich is an Olympic venue, with posh horse dancing and such taking place in a temporary stadium in Greenwich Park. In consequence there are a number of armed police officers about, and it was two of these who responded. The arrival of these two gentlemen with what I guess were MP5s hanging from their necks — don't quote me on that, I've been looking at likely matching piccies on the Internong — well that made me a bit nervous. Chummy was absolutely terrified. He thought he was going to be shot.

A bit of firm, controlled shouting from the police — "Do not resist. If you do what I say you will not be hurt." — calmed him down. All of chummy's struggling and shouting suddenly ceased. He was calm and businesslike as he awaited further processing.

The humdrum business of questioning and statement-taking ensued, although there was a bit of action when some earlier victims of chummy's little spree came into the pub to add their complaints.

As to the multicultural® element, well we in Olympic London have been warned to expect the arrival of the world's finest pickpockets to ply their trades. Which climes this particular gentleman came from was difficult to pin down. He had a sort of not-quite Chinese appearance, Mongoloid central or east Asian perhaps: think Genghis Khan wearing a Harrington jacket. Who knows? Doubtless he'll be nicely settled in social housing in Deptford and sending his kids the John Roan school before I've finished writing this post.

An interesting experience. Two observations come to mind.

The first is the calmness and orderliness of the response. There was no panic or uproar. The miscreant was restrained by members of the public in a firm but non-retributive manner. Drinkers in the immediate area moved away to clear a space around the incident. Sean the manager arrived and took a general interest and supervised the safety and clearance of the area, while one of his deputies kicked off some kind of incident recording procedure. The rest of the pub either watched vaguely from a distance or just got on with what they were doing.

(Mind you, this nonchalance can go a bit far. I recall being in another pub in Drury Lane many moons ago. A chap was lying flat out on the floor, being attended by a rapid-response paramedic who had arrived on a motorbike. The paramedic was deploying various instruments and procedures. Eventually a proper ambulance turned up and a stretcher was brought in. There was no hurry and the two new paramedics hung around for a chat before loading up the patient — who had, it appears, already expired before their arrival. All this time the crowded pub carried on around the scene and occasionally had to be chivvied out of the way by the paramedics. As it happens, the late gentleman had fallen inconveniently and was blocking the way to the ladies' loo. From time to time women were casually stepping over his prone form to reach the facilities. At the time I was mildly offended by the general lack of reaction, but then again, everything was in hand and under control and there was nothing further could be done for the chap, whoever he was. Keep calm and carry on.)

Turning to my second observation, I don't know if chummy was genuinely frightened that he was going to get a hiding. Perhaps where he comes from he would. But was all the shouting fear or was it, wholly or in part, an act? Petty criminals, when caught, will swear blind their innocence even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Like everybody else I have been approached by street conmen on the streets of London. By street conmen here I mean the sort of arsehole who approaches you with some elaborate sob story the dénouement of which is a solicitation for money. I've been around long enough to be approached by particular individuals repeatedly. But when you confront them with precise details of their spiel and remark how unfortunate it is that they find themselves in their predicament so often, they actually become offended. Brazening it out seems to be a standard technique. It costs nothing, and it sometimes works by seeding doubt and by manipulating people's trained social responses.

Hmm. Maybe they should have given the Wetherspoons toerag a good kicking after all. Too damned civilized by half, the English.

11 August, 2012


Tales from the Multiculture: how wars start

Geezer — and I use that word advisedly — at bar rejects slightly frothy pint of lager and demands that it be topped up.

— Polish barman: You don't like head?

— Geezer: Not from another bloke, no.

Perplexed Polish barman concentrates on topping up the glass.

07 August, 2012



Somehow it's just not turned out like what I would have expected from all that science fiction and science prognostication that I read in the sixties and seventies.

Now if In the Night Garden had been written as an illustrated children's book in the 19th century — imagine the above executed as a Tenniel pen-and-ink drawing rather than as a colour photograph — then that is exactly how the locomotive of the Ninky Nonk would look.

Uncanny, I say.

03 August, 2012


Subediting for dummies

The remains of Australian outlaw and posthumous antihero Ned Kelly are to be handed over to his family for decent burial.

Fair enough. But in yesterday's Evening Standard (dead tree edition) a subeditor exposes a particularly tricky practical problem

Mr Kelly's youngest ancestors would now be in their 170s or 180s. Presumably they will now have to be exhumed and resurrected to execute his reinterment.

Mind you, I do like the phrasing of Ned's Wikipedia article

In August 2011, anthropologists announced that a skeleton found in a mass grave in Pentridge Prison had been confirmed as Kelly's. Kelly's skull, however, remains at large.

Remains at large, eh? I have the image of a skull hopping into an outback hotel.

— Tube o' Tooheys, mate. And just stuff all the banknotes in the till into my eyesocket. Or I'll bleedin' haunt ye.

01 August, 2012


Olympic gouging

No, not a particularly nasty form of freestyle combat newly added to the Olympic canon, but the opportunistic overcharging of visitors to "London 2012".

Greenwich is an Olympic venue, tha knows, with posh people riding horses round a temporary stadium in Greenwich Park. (Hey, if I tweet @ZaraPhillips and tell her "You really let your gran down there, girl!", d'ya think the police will knock my door down and arrest me? Coo!)

It's all very surreal. I suppose it's because I tend to travel about during the "off-peak" part of the day when those alleged huge crowds of visitors are safely ensconced in the stadium, but the trains — lengthened from 4 cars to 10 for the duration — rattle around empty, and the barricaded, temporarily pedestrianized streets of beautiful downtown Greenwich are more crowded than usual only in as much as they are full of mobs of stewards and spectator advisers (or whatever the fancy title is) milling around looking bored. I haven't been into central London so far this week, but I understand that tumbleweed has been spotted rolling along Oxford Street.

On my visits to Greenwich, I sometimes pop into the Mitre. Calling by on Monday, I found that my usual tipple had increased in price by 11%, from £3.60 to £4.00, for the duration of the Olympics. Apparently one or two other venues have hiked their prices, though I know that the Spanish Galleon (Shepherd Neame) and the Gate Clock (Wetherspoon) continue to apply normal prices.

To appease its regulars, the Mitre is quietly charging "recognized regulars" normal prices, reserving the rip-off prices, sorry, the temporarily-enhanced prices due to the additional costs incurred during the games period, for tourists.

I seem to drop between two stools here. I am not a regular in the sense of making the place my second home, but I do use the place often enough, say once a week on average, that I am recognized by the established staff and customers. (I wonder if there is a name in the trade for intermittent customers of my stripe.) If I were to continue visiting during the overcharging period, I expect that my "categorization" and the price I paid would depend which member of staff was serving.

Being charged the grockle price doesn't, in itself, bother me, either the price or the apparent "status" implications. But there is something distastefully underhand about it all. You might call it just the operation of the free market but I find something unacceptable, vaguely unBritish, lurking here. Putting up the prices to rip off unsuspecting tourists is bad enough, but trying to craftily square the circle with under-the-counter discounts for the suspecting locals is downright sneaky.

I shan't be visiting the Mitre again for the duration of the games. Whether I resume my visits after things "return to normal" remains to be seen. For what little it's worth, that's not an empty threat.

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