October 31, 2002

I want to share a personal announcement with my readers.
Today is my wedding anniversary. Four years ago today my wife Taney and I stood in a small church in Enfield, Middlesex and exchanged our wedding vows to one another in the sight of God, our Families and Friends.

I look back on that day and each day since with happy thoughts and wonderful memories.

A few simply words cannot do justice to my thoughts and feelings about my wife and our life together. I count my blessings each day and I start with her love and thank Taney for everything.

I thank my Family and Friends for their emails, e-cards and phone calls today, especially to my friend and one of our ushers Nick who sent an email that containing the following text. "The Bride was Beautiful, the Jag was Blue. Ah I remember all the important things" thanks Nick!

October 31, 2002.
It is Halloween and I have included a spooky story in today’s posting together with a fun item that local readers in the US may find amusing. But first, I want to be serious for a moment.

Ian Fletcher, wounded on the Sir Galahad, is one of the 150 Falklands veterans going to Port Stanley for Remembrance Day. The government has refused to help them to get to there.

This will be my first trip back since 1982. I've got mixed feelings - it'll be a very emotional experience.
It will be a pilgrimage for us, so we'll be visiting the memorials and battlefields as well as taking part in a Remembrance Day service. It's an emotional time for us anyway, but this year even more so as it's the 20th anniversary of the conflict
The only route into the islands is by civilian aircraft through Argentina, which isn't viable for us, or by RAF aircraft. We were unable to get an RAF plane - probably because the government doesn't want to set a precedent of flying veterans around the world - or even negotiate civilian rates for the flight. So we've chartered our own plane, which will be flown by a couple of Falklands veterans who are pilots.

Link here for the full story.

I am highly disturbed by this news story, especially given the current times we live in. I am very concerned that this gives a negative message to the members of the British armed forces who are currently fighting a war against terror in far lands.

Mr. Blair, the British taxpayers want our veterans to be able to pay their respects to their fallen comrades on battlefields where British blood has been spilled, regardless of where in the world this may be.
In this case politically international relations between the UK & Argentina have never been better.

Yet given that November 11, is Rememberence Day and Mr. Blair I have seen you wearing a red poppy in your jacket lapel, do you not understand why you wear it?

The Falklands War was 20 years ago, a conflict that cost the lives of many brave British servicemen, a war that remains very fresh in the minds of many taxpayers and voters. Just how much would it cost the taxpayers Mr. Blair?

As an individual I have one voice, this one voice has a message for all servicemen, from the allied forces fighting the war against terror. This message comes in the form of a quotation posted on London Chimes some weeks ago written by George Tselentis, Omaha Nebraska, USA. Sgt. United States Air Force Combat Defence, 1965-1970 (Separated), I truly cannot think of a better way of expressing my personal thanks for the job you do, and the job you have done in past conflicts.

To Tony Blair read these great words understand and then provide the assistance that is needed today and each tomorrow veterans ask for support from a grateful nation.

“As you patrol those parts of the world that are dangerous. As you patrol those areas that are to cold, and too hot. As you eat from a small packet not enough of a meal, but just enough to keep you going. As you see the enemy and do what you must. As you climb, crawl, walk, swim and jump into places very few of us will ever know. Know this: some of us have been there and we honour each of you every day by thinking of your courage and hardships. We know your names and will never forget your sacrifices. Strength and Honour”

I personally thank Sgt. Tselentis who kindly emailed me in the last week and with his kind permission reproduce his words.

Returning to the subject of Halloween "Haunted hanging pub on-sale".

First a Halloween Story...

It's Halloween night, and our young friend Sam is getting ready to go trick-or-treating. He wanted to be Darth Maul, but his grandfather decided that being a fuzzy bear was better.

But who will accompany him? His parents are out of town on a meditation retreat, and his grandfather is too old, so he'll just have to go alone. That's probably better anyways, since the kids from school would probably beat him up for dressing like a pansy.

As he leaves, he receives a stern warning from Grandpa...

Link here to find out what happens next!

(Thanks to Mac for finding this one). Check out the alternative ending too.

On a realistic note, One of the oldest pubs in Wales, where 180 people are believed to have been hanged in the 17th Century, has gone on sale. The Skirrid Mountain Inn in Llanfihangel Crucorney, five miles from Abergavenny, has been linked to Hanging Judge Jeffreys, who carried out mass executions in 1685 following the Monmouth Rebellion.

With more than just the spirits in the optics, the cynic I am might suggest this time of year is wonderful for promoting the sale, 65,000 pounds, bargain. (Probably for 80,000 they will throw in the village as well).
I am interested to know more about the Monmouth Rebellion, can anyone enlighten me?

Alnwick is the top place to live. – OFFICIAL.
Alnwick’s historic… Link here for the full story.

Bryn Athyn residents past and present are invited to email me on this story.

Taney & I both wish you a safe Halloween trick or treating. Our anniversary celebrations will include welcoming the local trick and treaters at our door.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 28, 2002

Start of the week and a number of issues to be blogged today.

Weblog Action Center.

I hope that this can be a place where we bridge the gap between the fine words of the Blogosphere and actions in the real, live, non-electronic world that we all actually live in. Because, after all, words are all fine and good, but in the end, it is the deeds that matter.

Link here: Today is day one at the Weblog Action Center and following the success of similar blog projects such as Blogcritics, I recommend both sites.

President Bush Phot-Op


This has to be the worst photograph I have ever seen of G.W and the fact that it is being carried by Reuters makes me think that someone not only got out of the wrong side of bed this morning but also set their clock the wrong way this weekend.

Major Storm hits North Western Europe.

Old news by the time you read this as I have a first hand account from North London today that apart from garden fence panel needing to be repaired, there is but a gentle breeze blowing in the suburbs.

The BBC reports that at least twenty-one people have been killed after gale force winds left a trail of destruction across the UK and north west Europe. Winds reaching speeds of more than 90mph wreaked havoc on roads and railways, with trees felled, power lines ripped down and cars overturned.

Weather experts said the storms, which measured force 10 on the Beaufort scale, were not the worst to hit Britain, and were less severe than those of October 1987.

"If anyone's found my tank, please give us a bell”.
Following the recent loss by McDonalds of a 25 foot-high inflatable replica of fast food mascot Ronald McDonald remains missing after it was whisked by high winds from a Newport restaurant last week. Embarressed Army chiefs are asking residents to keep an watchful eye out for an inflatable tank which was blown away in the strong gales in South Wales over the weekend.

The inflatable, life-size dummy tank was moored but not secured to the ground during a training exercise near Tredegar. 80 mile per hour winds tore the battle tank replica from its ropes and is now officially "missing in action".

Using the resources available to them a widescale search is underway including the use of a helicopter. Today a military spokesman said they were anxious to hear from anyone who may have woken during the morning to find a tank in their garden. "It is about the size of three cars. It would fill a big garden. When deflated, it takes three men to lift," the sergeant major told the BBC

The greater embarresment is that the inflatable tank is owned by the Royal Air Force and not the Army.

On a glib note, I wonder if the Ronnie McDonalds lost over Newport, linked up with the Tank, if that would make one big Mac Attack.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 27, 2002

Sunday Xtra - Did you change your clocks last night?

Did you? After a reminder from my parents in the UK during our weekly call I did.

I look forward to that extra hour cosy lay-in on a Sunday morning once every year. It is a golden hour. Except try telling that to the cats! The Friend household has three of which one Jaffa has made it his daily duty to wake me up. His paw bouncing off the end of my nose, or worse still a paw with claws down the back of the neck just below the hair line works particually well.

Don't get me wrong, we love our cats and feed them well. Just in their opinion, not enough. They can't read clocks, and have no idea about my golden hour. So at 8:16am I am writing this piece after getting up, feeding them, and having my own breakfast on a Sunday morning.

Leaf peeping.

As a Brit in Pennsylvania, I adore the fall colors on the trees and have been patiently waiting for this weekend forecast to be the peak weekend for the leaves. My wife thought me mad as we head out on a road trip yesterday in dark overcast skies after a heavy rainstorm the night before. Armed with the digital camera, and knowledge from the weather channel that the sun would be seen by midday, we head north to the Delaware Senic Drive starting north of New Hope PA.

It was beautiful.

After every bend, every crest we would be driving under a canopy of color as we drove alongside the river. The further north we headed the more intense the colors.

We passed Easton, and continued to head north, our destination was Mount Pocono.

My wife had selected a neat cross country route that took us up over the ridges into the clouds and back down the other side, hairpin bends and trees, millions of trees in all their fall glory.

We stopped at Lake Naomi and took a few photos before having a late lunch at Perkins in Mount Pocono. Our waitress was very enthusiastic and rather lost the plot when my wife asked for a hot chocolate with whipped cream and 2 sugar cookies. Somehow the waitress thought my wife wanted a cup of hot fudge sauce with whipped cream on top (Uck! Sweet covered sweetness with extra sugar). All was resolved in time. However kudos to Perkins this was the best service and one of the best meals I have had recently at a restaurant of this status.

As we left the restaurant we returned home down Route 611. The view as we decended from the mountain was breathtaking.

Nature is a wonderful, powerful thing.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 26, 2002

Weekend Posting - 1977: When Britain was on 'green alert'

Are you worried at the prospect of the UK's firefighters going on strike?
Well, it happened once before - in 1977 - and the country was plunged into a national emergency.
It was the year of the original release of Star Wars for those of us who need a gentle nudge in the memory banks, there was British fire crews national strike. I recall that a nearby neighbour in Gordon Road was killed in a fire during that time. I cannot recall the circumstances but I remember reading the local press reports that a Green Goddess fire engine arrived on the scene to a house engulfed in flame. This was one of the few fatalities by fire and has long since been forgotten.

At a similar fire that claimed the lives of children, a journalist wrote "Everyone realises only too well that with their primitive equipment the soldiers will be hopelessly ill-equipped to deal with a big-fire."

On these occasions during the national strike in 1977 and early 1978, for a 12 week period the police had to arrive on the scene first to confirm that there was a fire before the Green Goddesses which are the oldest working fire engines in the western world, were sent out.

Built in 1953, the vehicles were designed to provide a simple fire engine that could be used by untrained civilians in the wake of a nuclear war. The Bedford vehicles, which have frequently broken down in previous disputes, have a top speed of little more than 35mph.

Not exactly reliable!

Have we not learned the lessons in the past? The public in 2002 remain sympathetic to the fire service although polls indicate a high percentage against the fire service taking industrial action. The government recognize the pressure put upon them to resolve this current crisis as soon as possible, noting the last national strike in 1977 carried on into the following year and with November 5th, Guy Fawkes night there are hundreds of accidents involving fireworks across the UK simply waiting to happen on what is the busiest night of the year for the fire service.

Yesterday, Senior union officials have started holding talks behind closed doors as efforts continue to avert next week's planned firefighters' strike over pay.

The firefighters' are campaigning for a 40% pay rise, from just over £21,000 to £30,000. So far, local authority employers have offered only a 4% rise to the firefighters. Any more would have to be met by national government.

It is reported that strikes will last for up to eight days at a time, and are planned to take place over 36 days.

Returning to the location of the fatal fire in Gordon Road 25 years ago, this week the local paper reports.

The popular annual fireworks display at Copthall Stadium in Mill Hill could be in doubt this year because of safety fears over the firefighters' strike.

With firefighters out of action from November 2 to November 4, Barnet Council is now considering cancelling the display on Sunday, November 3. Peter Selwyn, of Barnet Rotary Club, is helping to organise the display. "I hope we can go ahead with the fireworks," he said. “Obviously we want the display to be as safe as possible,"

Barnet's schools have already been issued with safety guidelines, in the wake of the fire that destroyed Frith Manor Community School in Lullington Garth, Woodside Park, on August 22. With the fire brigade planning strikes from Tuesday next week and throughout November and December,

Barnet Council could not say which, if any, of its services will be affected. "The council has set up a working party which is planning to have in place appropriate contingency measures for the council's own services and those for which it can have additional responsibilities," a council spokesman said. "The council will work closely with its partners to minimise the effects of any disruption."

Old-fashioned Green Goddess fire engines likely to be based at the Territorial Army barracks in Barnet and Mill Hill will be on hand as the military deal with emergency calls.

Tube stations in Barnet will remain unaffected but 19 of the deeper stations, including Hampstead and Tufnell Park on the Northern Line, will be closed on strike days.

Sir Sydney Chapman, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet, said: "We have had the Tube strike, the council strike and now the firefighters' strike.

"This new strike action will be a made worse by the misery it will place on my constituents who use the Northern and Piccadilly lines, if the service is affected due to safety measures

And for my Finchley readers here is the only site for Gordon Road on the internet! Enjoy!

But on a serious and final note, let us hope that the negotiations with the fire service are concluded sooner rather than later. Further it is time that the Green Goddess fire engines are finally put into the museums they should truly be stored in on display to the public in recognition of the sterling work in saving lives they have done over 50 years.

It is also time for the government to make new contigency plans for future fire strikes, or better still avoid them being called in the first place. Mr Prescott, what price do you put on a single life?

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 24, 2002

Todays posting includes 3 topics.

The Case of the missing Mums.
The hostage situation in Moscow
The Beltway Sniper.

Starting with "The Case of the missing Mums".

It would seem that my front yard has fallen prey to a petty thief.

Sometime yesterday morning person(s) unknown helped themselves to two large Chrysanthemums pot plants on my front steps.

There is no evident rhyme or reason; our front yard has a good collection of Halloween decorations that were within an arms reach of the Mums. Yet someone evidently took the trouble to walk off with the plants, which as heavy and large as they were would have proved more than a single handful to carry off.

As my young nephew would say “Simply Crazy”.

I feel stupid reporting this to the local police, who I am certain have far more important things to deal with, so I have not reported this. But we have dropped a short note to our neighbors, to give them a “heads-up” that we have a petty thief operating in our street.

For the first time this week I have walked out onto the porch of an evening and noticed I could see my breath. With the first frost warnings of the autumn posted in our area on the Weather Channel, I wonder how much life the Mums have before the frost kills them off.

International News: Moscow, Russia.

I heard a joke the other day, if you have your very first work published does not make you a writer. If you produce your very first painting, it does not make you an artist. Yet if you blow up a building, why does it automatically make you a terrorist? Funny, I don’t think so.

I find it interesting to connect the countries on the UN Security Council and how their countrymen seem to be caught up in recent terrorist activity. In the last 24 hours a packed theatre in Moscow has been taken hostage.

The BBC report that:

Two other Britons are reported to be among the hostages, along with seven Germans, four Americans, two Canadians, two Austrians and two Dutch citizens. Ambassadors from several countries are now at the scene.

Other news sources place resident of other countries at the scene.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that rebels holding around 500 people hostage in a Moscow theatre planned the attack in "foreign terrorist centres".

In his first televised statement since the drama began on Wednesday evening, he blamed "the same criminals who have been terrorising Chechnya for the last few years" and said the authorities' main aim was to release the hostages.

This is evidently an on-going news story my information is from this link

Reports that a hostage has been killed may be incorrect. However if this is the case, in any hostage situation in the western world, when a hostage is killed the rules of the law enforcement agencies are altered to those where hostages are taken without loss of life.

“The Beltway Sniper”

I am somewhat hesitant to post this piece after the activities of the last few days. Yet if the President has been informed that law enforcement authorities are reasonably certain that they have the Beltway Sniper through his daily FBI briefing, then I feel somewhat more assured.

The arrests at 3:30am this morning is good news for the residents of the DC and surrounding area.

I sat and watched Fox News last night up to midnight EST as the information cascaded of the people they were looking for, the searches that were being performed across the US and the description of the blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice with New Jersey plates NDA-21Z, that was being sought under an all points bulletin.

The speed at which the Fox news agency were able to validate the information an hour before Chief Moose’s late night press call and monitor the situation in Washington State (on the west coast of the US), Alabama (in the South) and the east coast locations was impressive.

Certainly minute-by-minute more puzzle pieces are linked together as a case is developed and evidence is found. Link here for latest developments.

The Montgomery County Police, Chief Moose, the ATF and FBI have all come under attack from the talking heads on the media for lack of progress. Yet, the strongest critics have been silenced today when as through the coordinated efforts of the agencies working in a number of states and counties and the sharp eyed members of the public acted on information given to them by the police late last night resulted in the capture and arrest of the two men they were looking for, sleeping in their car at a rest stop.

As members of the public, there is still much we do not know about this case. However in time I believe the full facts will come to light as the evidence supporting the arrests will be made public.

For the last three weeks, this single news story has run on the news networks like a soap opera. I must have heard every possible opinion from a brace of “talking head” experts on every aspect of a news story with few facts that could be played over the 24-hour news networks.

The Sniper Story has overshadowed major news stories including the political run up to the elections in the US. It has overshadowed the “War on Terror” including the debate on the draft UN Resolution against Iraq.

Thank goodness that I have access through the Internet of other news worldwide to put both national and international affairs into perspective.

Perhaps from today, life can return to some style of normality, children can return to playing in schoolyards for the first time in a week or two. Classrooms can remove the shutters from the windows. School trips can resume, Brownies can meet again and after school outdoor sporting activities can be rescheduled without fear of a shot from surrounding cover.

Adults can mow their lawns, run errands to stores, go about their daily business, fill their cars and eat at diners without fear or trepidation.

While someone today will be drawing up papers to buy the rights to publish this story through books and film.

As an avid fan of crime mysteries, I would be very interested to understand the “break” that cracked this case wide open.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 22, 2002

No more second guessing, the Washington Sniper.

Another shooting at 6am this morning.
My senario is evidently way off beam as the two individuals arrested yesterday morning have not only been released but reports indicate the deportation proceedings are being set in motion. A case of wrong people, wrong place, wrong time for all concerned, except the sniper.

Early reports indicate that the latest victim was on board a bus. - The MO is consistant, this time public transport.

After having hopes raised yesterday morning only to have them dashed by 7pm proved one "rollercoaster" of a day yesterday, The clear fact that the sniper(s) are still at large and have another victim is simply sickening. The sniper seems to be taunting the law enforcement agencies, and despite the volume of officers on the ground and in the air, the sniper(s) still seem to remain under cover.

Now is the time that Chief Moose should offer up additional information to the public to help with the search.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 21, 2002

A big news day, worldwide and a long posting on a range of subjects
The Washington Sniper
Comments from the man in the street
Monash Gun Rampage
Direct Consumer Action against oil imports from the Saudi’s
Is Britain Dumbing Down?

Please scroll down to your interested piece, starting from here!

"The person you called could not hear everything you said. The audio was unclear and we want to get it right. Call us back so that we can clearly understand," Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles Moose said. Moose said he could not discuss the message further.

This raises a number of questions. With two people arrested this morning, who at 4:15pm this afternoon is Chief Moose talking too?

I have a scenario that I would like to share with my readers.

Following the shooting at the Ponderosa, a message was left for the police. This message contained a phone number. The police established a tap to this line and asked the sniper to call the number. This offered the opportunity to trace the call.

Monday morning, a white Plymouth people carrier style van pulls up at a pre-determined phone booth. A call is made and the process for a handover is negotiated to prevent any deaths through arrest. I suggest that the sniper may have a some form of hold over persons unknown and sent out hostages to meet with the police in a method to ascertain their actions.

These two individuals are still being held, possibly for their own protection. While someone, possibly the sniper remains at large and in some form of communication with Chief Moose's team in Montgomery County.

Meanwhile returning to my original posting...

At time of posting - No arrest yet! Law abiding residents cannot breathe a complete sigh of relief yet.
Police Take Two Men Into Custody

After waiting for an expected statement from Chief Moose lunchtime today, the message is clear from his absence “no comment at this time”.Unlike so many other crimes committed worldwide, the tens of thousands who live and work along the Beltway and I95 corridor continue to hold their breath until confirmation of one or possibly two arrests are given.

I live a couple of short hours from the northern locations of the beltway shootings. Logic dictates that from the pattern of the shootings, the sniper(s) are moving away from my home location. Nevertheless, I do look around when I take the walk to my local 7-11. I am cautious of the tree line a short distance from my local petrol station. I hear the words of my mother in the back of my mind “be careful”. That is what many living in America have been doing since the start of October.

The BBC News web page opened up a forum on the subject allowing everyone to post their comments and opinions from each side of the pond.

The first posting, is somewhat disturbing.

Originally we did not feel like explaining the sniper situation to our just-turned five-year-old son, so we told him the reason he had no recess was the threat of Hurricane Lili. This proved to be short-lived when the next day he announced, "It's not because of a hurricane. It's because there are bad guys hiding in the trees trying to shoot us." How utterly depressing. (Frank, US) Five year olds should not be scared of anything other than invisible monsters in the closet. Let alone be worried if a bad guy is going to shoot him down the street. Especially when that bad guy has already shot and wounded a schoolboy.

A second posting.

I live in Montgomery County, Maryland, where the first five sniper murders occurred. I respectfully take exception with a previous posting analysis that "the right to own a firearm is embedded in the American psyche likes a splinter of flint, jagged and immovable." This leaves the impression that all Americans own guns or support unrestricted gun ownership. Actually, many Americans support strong restrictions on guns and would never own one. (Kevin Edwards, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA) Shortly after moving to the US the brother of a close friend asked me if I had bought a gun yet. He was under some misapprehension that everyone in America owned or carried a gun. I have found that along the eastern shores of America, there is less gun ownership than in other states to the west. While there are already tight restrictions on gun controls in the US, there are good arguments that they should be stronger. Dependent upon the outcome of this case leverage may be brought by the lobby groups on both sides of the argument, yet I doubt that the right to bear arms would ever be outlawed in the United States.

Third posting - Heroes can be found everywhere.
I live in Falls Church, a couple minutes away from the Home Depot where an otherwise powerless loser murdered Linda Franklin. Moments after her shooting, a friend and I jumped into separate cars and immediately started combing the surrounding neighborhoods for the infamous white van. We obviously didn’t find the shooter, but we felt as if we had to do something as part of the DC community to help bring an end to this ridiculous waste of human life and suffering. (Russ, US). Since 9/11 it has become clearer that law-abiding people will do what they can. The simple act of going out to look for the white van may just have helped police break the case. It is natural when someone shoots that you duck down and keep down. This instinct has been key in the get-away of the sniper(s). Yet with an increasing number of victims, lack of clear evidence and airtight witness reports. It does not surprise me that law-abiding individuals would do what they could.

Monash gun rampage

A STUDENT armed with four pistols and a knife strapped to his body opened fire on classmates in a bloody rampage at Monash University yesterday.

Two male students in their 20s were killed in the 60-second attack.
Five people – including a hero lecturer who grappled with the gunman – suffered serious bullet wounds to their backs, shoulders, legs and arms.
Perhaps you have not heard this story. Melbourne, Australia, a country still in shock over terrorist activity on their doorstep in Bali. Have reeled again at this attack in one of their Universities. For the moment terrorist links have been ruled out.

Yet it is all too easy to think why Australians would think that terrorists could be within their borders. (Check yourself and see JUST HOW CLOSE GEOGRAPHICALLY Indonesia is from the northern coast of Australia).

Direct Action by the American Consumer
Subject: Gas (Petrol).

The following was included within a email from my sister-in-law. Generally I avoid chain-email, but this one does make a good point. The power of the consumer CAN make a great difference. Specifically I remind you of the oil terminal blockades by the people of Great Britain two years ago, who were protesting over the amount of tax included in the price of fuel.

With tankers unable to leave the depots, and gas stations unable to refill their pumps in a short space of time the country was brought to it’s knees and after the message of the people had been heard by the government, it then took more than two weeks for gas stations to receive new deliveries.
With that in mind please I ask my American readers to review the following and if you agree, cut and paste to others.

Every time you fill up the car, you can avoid putting more money into the coffers of Saudi Arabia. Just buy from gas companies that don't import their oil from the Saudis. Nothing is more frustrating than the feeling that every time I fill-up the tank, I am sending my money to people who are trying to kill me, my family, and my friends. I thought it might be interesting for you to know which oil companies are the best to buy gas from.

Major companies that import Middle Eastern oil (for the period 9/1/00 -8/31/01).
Shell................ 205,742,000 barrels
Chevron/Texaco....... 144,332,000 barrels
Exxon /Mobil......... 130,082,000 barrels
Marathon............. 117,740,000 barrels
Amoco................ 62,231,000 barrels
If you do the math at $30/barrel, these imports amount to over $18 BILLION!

Here are some large companies that do not import Middle Eastern oil:

Citgo 0 barrels
Sunoco 0 barrels
Conoco 0 barrels
Sinclair 0 barrels
BP/Phillips 0 barrels
Hess 0 barrels
All of this information is available from the Department of Energy and can be easily documented. Refineries located in the U.S. are required to state where they get their oil and how much they are importing. They report on a monthly basis.

Keep this list in your car; share it with friends. Stop paying for terrorism.............

But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of gas buyers.
It's really simple to do!! Now, don't wimp out at this point...keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!! .
Through mass circulation of this information the consumers can make a difference.

However, I warn you, the economy will take a hit. With the American economy in a fragile situation right now, the impact of direct action by consumers could also create a negative affect. Just a thought.

Is Britain Dumbing Down?
When I was in the UK, the hit TV show, Who wants to be a Millionaire was accused of dumbing down the questions to the US audience. Well the boot it would seem is on the other foot. A group based in the UK and the story is reported on the BBC.

One in 10 Britons cannot name a single world leader but can list up to five characters in television soap opera EastEnders, a survey suggests.

Long-term resident of Albert Square, Phil Mitchell, is apparently twice as well known to the British public as the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Pity Phil Mitchell was not on the ballot running against Saddam. He and President George W. Bush could have sat down over a cozy pint and discussed the weapons inspectors and the removal of Iraq from the Axis of Evil. “Sorted”

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 20, 2002

Subtle changes to the look of London Chimes.Put out the bunting, strike up the band! Tonight after a little trial and error I have FINALLY identified how to place links on my page. Expect an increasing list of links in the future.
Feedback always invited, please email me.
Time to pick up the ball and show as individuals we do indeed care very much.

Over the weekend, the subject of loosing sight of the needs of the American allies, in particular our friends in Australia has been brought up.

While it is all to easy to forget that the Australians were one of the first to speak up in support of the American people following 9/11 and remain one of the strongest allies. When the shoe was on the other foot in the last week, I understand that Australians are suprised at the silence from America following their losses in Bali, considered their own 9/11.

As individuals and this is not limited to just Americans but Europeans including the British have an individual responsibility to contact Australians directly to let you know you care.

To facilitate this request I redirect you to Glenn Frazier who has the following text and links to the right places to write to.

Bali: What You Can Do
I've heard from a number of Americans who, like I, saw in the Bali Massacre an atrocity against some of the greatest people on Earth. They mourn for the victims, Australian and other. Further, they wish Australia speed and courage in their reaction and continuing fight against terrorism. Moreso, they predict that such will be the case.

They also ask, "What can I do?"

Before you leave this page, PLEASE link here and be one voice of many supporting those who grieve in Australia. Follow this link that will lead methods of contacting the Australian media.

It is never to late to show solidarity. The Australia Herald carried this piece this weekend. US vow to punish guilty

President Bush has vowed to help hunt down the terrorists behind the Bali bombing. The US President said America stood shoulder to shoulder with Australia as it endured a grim day of mourning yesterday.
"You come together as a nation to grieve for the victims of those who were killed by the murderers in Indonesia," he said. "And our country grieves with you, and we suffer with you. "And we send our prayers to the families who cry, and we send our prayers for a speedy recovery for the injured."

Mr Bush promised to press ahead with America's war against terror and noted Australia's strong support for the year-long struggle triggered by the September 11 attacks in the US.

"Together we face an enemy which does not value innocent life, an enemy which tries to terrorise the free world into inaction. They will fail," he said. "Together we will hunt down the killers so that there's justice in the world. Together we will fight terror so as to keep the peace and to make the world more free."

At least two Americans were killed in the October 12 blast. The total death toll is expected to reach close to 200.

On a tagent...
It is to easy for those of us in America to be side tracked with the continue terror of "white van man" the beltway sniper in the DC and areas to the south. Halloween will be non existant in this area for the children unless the law enforcement agencies can find the clues they need to arrest the sniper or snipers. It is very sad to think that people in Washington have this thought, it is defeatist. Halloween is 11 days from now. that could well included another sniper attack that could lead to the evidence needed by the police to capture the urban terrorist. I sincerely hope that it will not take another 11 days and one or more sniper attacks to secure the arrest(s) that are sorely needed.

International news headlines show the Indonisian Terror leader sitting in a hotel bed surrounded by over a thousand angry looking youths who would do anything and are capable of anything to prevent justice and the lawful influence of a government that has cowered from the terror group.

Iraq in a bizzare twist has emptied its prisons.

I appeal to the news agencies, the news networks and radio programs to redirect your attention to the people that support America and need the support of America right now. It is too easy to focus on those of us who want to do us harm, but lets us take a moment and reinforce the message to Australia and all Australians. Lets make that message loud and clear.

I have no desire to hear that my sister-in-law, who is currently studying in Australia, is asked by her fellow students, DO THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA NOT CARE ABOUT US?


Here is a piece from the BBC that offers more than simply sentiment to the Australian people that the Brits as a whole have not forgotten them.

The dead and injured from the Bali bomb attack have been remembered at Sunday church services across the UK. Prayers were said as congregations heard how "serious evil" was to blame for the atrocity on the Indonesian holiday island.

Earlier Buckingham Palace led national mourning for those who died in the nightclub blast by flying the Union flag at half mast. In North London, the Acting Australian Commissioner Bill Tweddell attended a special mass at St Augustine's Anglican church in Kilburn. He spoke of how "serious evil was visited on innocent young people in Bali". Leading the congregation in prayer, Mr Tweddell called for peace in the world and an end to terrorism and oppression. The priest taking the Mass, Father Anthony Yates, said on Sunday they remembered those who died, were injured or suffering as a result of the act of terrorism. Some young Australians living in London were among the congregation. One young backpacker said it would take Australia a long time to recover from the atrocity.

Buckingham Palace's Union flag is due to stay at half-mast until sunset on Sunday evening. Occasions when the flag has been lowered are rare. These include times of royal deaths, such as Diana, Princess of Wales, Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother and King Hussein of Jordan. The most recent gesture was made in memory of the victims of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US. The Queen is said the have authorised Sunday's flag lowering, having already sent a message of sympathy to Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

All nationalities killed in the Bali bombings will be remembered at a formal memorial service at St Paul's Cathedral, in London on Friday.


In my thirst to discover what other people use there blog pages for, I have been surfing at random to see if there are some "great inspirational works" sitting out in hyper-space. With few exceptions, there is little out there that has caught my attention, let alone merits a mention by me.

One of the very worst, was nothing short of a personal diary containing facts and comments that I would be embarrassed for anyone to read let alone posting it for millions to access. Another painted there employer in a less than favourable light and the comments would lead to disiplinary action if the employer took the time to find the site.

As with email, be careful what you write, before pressing SEND or in this case PUBLISH.

Yet, a blog is a method of personal freedom, does that make blogging an art form? An interesting question. Picking up from an earlier posting on London Chimes if the purpose of art is to initiate a reaction, then the two blogs I found have done just that. While I am in favor of personal liberties and freedom of speech, I do question the appropriateness of the content. It is possible that London Chimes would not be of interest to the authors of these pages, then again perhaps it is. Who knows? One thing is for certain, without the technology of the web we would not have the opportunity to share our thoughts, personal thoughts and opinions with other individuals.

For the moment, I have the following arrogant statement to make.

"If it has not been written by a family member or is linked to through a family member then with few exceptions it is probably not worth reading".

If you disagree with this statement, email me with your evidence otherwise.
I would love to hear from you.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 18, 2002

Weekend Posting, on a Friday night!

I am sitting here surfing for some inane stories to seal off a week that has politically been a rollercoaster with more dips and downs than the the stock market. But before we get too depressed, I want to start this weekend posting with SPORTS!

I have been in the US since the summer of 2000, and it has taken until today for me to watch an American Football Game from the grassy sidelines. To be truthful it was not NFL but a high-school game as part of the Charter Day celebrations and at the end of the first half, the home team had a single point lead over the visitors who scored a touchdown with less than a second on the board.

To be truthful I didn’t stay to watch the second half, and have no idea who won. But from the good natured banter of the fans and the clean game that was played, regardless of which team scored most points football was the winner of the day in my opinion.

I am in the minority who considers Soccer (Football), a waste of space. I never had any enthusiasum for the sport as a boy and this has remained with me in my adult life as I have persued other more interesting sports. It is too early for me to say I have been won over by the American game and will become a couch potato following the Eagles over the winter Sundays, and I cannot admit to really understanding the rules or the playbook techniques. Yet I am certain that this will not be my last encounter with this game.

This weekend we have a family celebration, my brother-in-law celebrates his birthday today and his ever increasing family will be celebrating with him over the weekend. Mac, is responsible for bringing blogging to my attention, “a hobby” which I am sure for many is a great devourer of time and great fun as I know I have readers worldwide. Mac, Happy Birthday, and thanks for encouraging me to start London Chimes.

Last weekend, my wife and I dressed up our porch with our Halloween decorations, we have illuminated ghosts, gravestones, a huge spiders, a raven and several candle holders. We have as yet to purchase the pumpkin!

What's scary about Halloween these days is the amount you can spend on decorating. Time was when a plastic pumpkin on the step, a light in the window, and 69 cents' worth of spiderwebbing qualified as Halloween decorations. These days, the tab is substantially higher. The Philadelphia Inquirer had this topical story.

FRIMBLES, the next big thing.

Forget the endless talent shows on TV and the dreadful off-key songs you endure before the winners are announced after several weeks, I am giving you a heads up on the next big thing. Look out for the FRIMBLES and they will be heading with way in time from the direction of the UK.
For my british readers do you remember the Wombles of Wimbledon Common and ever earlier the Clangers? A Frimble is a cute cute, cuddly and colourful combination of both.
Link here for the full story from the Beeb and the pictures of the colourful group of stripy upright badgers whose goal in life is finding things. Add to the mix a chortling frog and a mole who doubles up as an underground librarian and you will begin to get a picture of the magical world of the Fimbles.

Childrens TV in the 21st century has come a long way, and for the Auntie Beeb is a highly profitable concern.

Children's shows Teletubbies, Tweenies, Bob the Builder and Noddy have propelled the commercial arm of the BBC to record profits. BBC Worldwide made £23m in profit in 2000, up 170% on the previous year, with sales of £587m, more than double the level of six years ago. Link here for the figures. Teletubbies might not make much dollars and sense to adults but who is LaLa now, where profits are anything but dipsy! (No apologies for the puns).

Before you vanish there are some other great items posted here this week and I urge you to check them out. Life in the Freezer is very interesting and the historical item on the first railway accident in the UK is well worth a read.

Have a great weekend all.

As always keep those comments flooding into my email box I really appreciate your feedback on the type of postings you like to read.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 17, 2002

Blog of the Week:(Probably of the Month!).

Are you feeling cold yet, started to turn on your central heating perhaps, pulled out that extra blanket? Then spare a thought for Gillian Hadley and her colleagues currently on assignment in Antartica.

Life in the Freezer.

There are some wonderful photographs and this site is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by London Chimes.

Here is an edited taster of her text...

I've arrived at McMurdo Station, Antarctica! Very exciting! We do have a phenomenal view of Mt. Discovery from our lab window. The experience of getting off the plane into this incredible, blazing white environment was intense. No windows in the plane so it's all a surprise when you come down those steps. We were fullly bundled into our extreme cold weather gear, but it didn't really seem all that cold. About 2 degrees F, but no wind. We were ferried over to town from the ice runway in this enormous ice-bus ("Ivan the Terra Bus"), tracked down our bags, had a little debriefing by the head NSF guy, found our dorm, toured around a bit and then had a surprisingly good dinner in the galley.
As I write, the sun is slooooowly setting, but will not actually set. For the next couple weeks it will be twilighty for a few hours around 12-3, but after that its one long day.

Would someone please pass me a Hot Chocolate!

Good Luck Gillian and your team.
Feedback always invited, please email me.
Dear Loyal Reader:
I have two extensive subject postings today, Clive James on Bali and a posting regarding the first rail passenger accident in the UK, a historical account and well worth the read. As always I welcome your comments. - Malcolm.

Bali – An Australian Perspective.

Clive James more readily identified as “that funny commentator on Sunday Night TV”, is a highly recognized journalist and columnist for the Guardian newspaper in the UK.

I personally have a great deal of respect for this Clive James, a man who has done much for British / Australian relations in the eyes of the mass population. I am a fan of his somewhat sarcastic perspective on us limeys and find his writing witty, intelligent and entertaining.

Needless to say this week his column in the Guardian is of a more somber note.

The shock wave from the car-bomb outside the nightclub on Kuta Beach in Bali went all the way to Australia in a matter of minutes. As soon as the young Australian survivors stopped trembling long enough to touch one button at a time, they were calling home to say they were all right. But there were some young Australians who did not call home, because they were not all right. The Australian casualty list is lengthening even as I compose this opening paragraph, and by the time I reach a conclusion the casualty list will be longer still. I owe it to my dead, wounded and bereaved countrymen to say straight away that I have no clear idea of what that conclusion will be. This is no time to preach, and least of all from a prepared text.

The full report can be read at this link, this lengthy column is required reading.

A matter of safety on the British railways, a historical account.

My stalwart readership will know from previous postings that before I moved to the US, I lived in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. A quiet place until last year the town made international headlines with a dreadful train crash at the station.

This week marks the anniversary of the Hatfield Train Disaster, a very short distance north of Potters Bar, the ripples of which were felt throughout the rail system for some time after.

The Guardian has brought to my attention a new book shortly to be available in the UK later this month. The Last Journey of William Huskisson by Simon Garfield.

It was a day of celebration - the first ever journey by train. But 60 minutes later, MP William Huskisson lay dying on the tracks, the inaugural victim of Britain's brave new world of railways.

This is what occurred, a vivid account of a historical moment in time that took the life of the first rail passenger. (From an abridged account of the book).

I was going to Liverpool to visit the site of another accident. It happened on the very first day of the railways, at the midpoint of the Liverpool and Manchester line on 15 September 1830. There had been other routes before, most concerned with transport of coal from mines to waterways, and the Stockton and Darlington line had caused a commotion when it opened in 1825, but the Liverpool and Manchester was the first inter-city passenger railway and the first to be driven entirely by George and Robert Stephenson's steam locomotives. It was also the first to draw the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, to its opening festivities, and with him came ambassadors, celebrities and envious engineers from the United States. There was also an invitation for 60-year-old William Huskisson, one of Liverpool's two MPs, who had fallen out with Wellington over parliamentary reform and saw an opportunity to make amends.

Huskisson was one of Britain's leading statesmen, a great advocate of free trade, a liberal Tory on the cusp of a reformist age. He was also the most accident-prone MP in history. As a child he was frequently laid up with chest complaints. Once, rising from his bed to do schoolwork, he fractured his arm. His horse fell on him just before his marriage. He was flattened by the pole of a carriage at the entrance to Horse Guards. When in Scotland at the residence of the Duke of Athol, he tried to leap the moat but missed, savagely spraining his ankle and lacerating the tendons of his foot, the wrench of both permanently altering his gait and ensuring it would be weeks before he was able to travel back to England. A while later he fell from a horse, and again broke his arm. He snapped it again not long after, this time by falling from a carriage. In 1827 he received what he called a 'decided attack of inflammation of the trachea', a condition that rendered his voice permanently raspy. His recovery period in France did not begin well: at Calais he tripped on a cable and cut his foot.

Huskisson was advised not to attend the opening of the railway. A few weeks before, he had been diagnosed with strangury, a tender inflammation of the kidneys and bladder, lending him a constant but unfulfilled desire to pass water. He had first experienced these symptoms at the funeral of George IV at Windsor in July, when he was forced to seek shade and attention in St George's Chapel. His medical men advised an operation, and it made him miss his re-election. One of his doctors was William George Maton, physician to Queen Charlotte and the young Princess Victoria, who told him to cancel all forthcoming engagements. But there he was in the leading coach as eight trains set off in light rain on a 33-mile journey to Manchester, witnessed by hundreds of thousands of excited onlookers on the banks and bridges.

There had been great opposition to the railway, not least from the canal owners, who feared an end to their monopolies and ludicrous profits (the journey took 36 hours by canal, but only two by rail). The project was initially rejected by Parliament on the grounds that it was unnecessary, and would cause irreversible damage to cows and human lungs. Its engineers were pelted with missiles and shot at as they worked, and they took six years to navigate a path through rock and fathomless marsh. The railway's greatest supporter in the Commons was Huskisson, president of the Board of Trade, who was convinced Britain would fall behind unless it exploited new technologies. This was a life-changing advance, transporting people, goods and ideas at a velocity undreamt of even 20 years before; no wonder his ultra-Tory colleagues feared its impact in those revolutionary years.

The opening parade had not started well. Wellington was late, and when he did arrive the cannon blast announcing the start of the ride overshot its mark, its cladding hitting a bystander in the face and knocking out an eyeball so that it hung by its moist sinews on his cheek.

For the first 17 miles the journey was an ecstatic affair. The Northumbrian engine pulling the Duke and Huskisson led the way on one track, while seven others followed on the parallel line, among them the Rocket, the victor at the Rainhill trials a year before. The carriages passed collieries and mills and stately homes, and when they reached Parkside, a little over halfway in their journey, the engines required a stop to take on more water. This was the only planned pause, and passengers were asked not to leave their carriages. And so about 50 people descended from the train. Among them were the Austrian ambassador, Prince Esterhazy; William Holmes, MP, of the Treasury; the mayor of Liverpool, Sir George Drinkwater; principal director of the railway, Joseph Sandars; and Huskisson.

It was five minutes to noon. They milled about, discussed the wonders of rail travel, stepped gingerly in the 4ft space between the two lines. Huskisson congratulated Sandars and suggested, according to Sandars's recollection, that he must be 'one of the happiest men in the world'. Holmes then called Huskisson away, and made a suggestion: the Prime Minister seemed in good spirits, and might be persuaded to forget old political animosities.

Huskisson and Wellington had seldom spoken since May 1828 when Huskisson had offered his resignation from the Cabinet on a point of principle, and Wellington rushed to accept it. But the climate had changed: Wellington needed Huskisson and his supporters to reunite the Tory party, wrenching itself apart then as now. The Duke had witnessed his unpopularity in the streets, and he would not have been blind to Huskisson's great local approval.

The two men agreed to a public rapprochement. Huskisson approached the middle carriage of his train, where the Duke was sitting at the front corner. Huskisson extended his hand. The Prime Minister leant over the side and shook it, and words of goodwill were exchanged. Then a shout went up. 'An engine is approaching. Take care, gentlemen!' The approaching engine was the Rocket. It was impossible to tell whether it was slowing down, but there was plenty of time to avoid it.

The men on the track climbed back into their carriages, or clambered up the embankment. Their task would have been easier if the Duke's carriage had been fitted with permanent steps like the others. Instead, the royal car carried a removable flight of steps suspended at the back and there was no time to retrieve them. Most managed to reach safety with ease, though some panic set in with the engine 80 feet away. Another cry went up - Get in! Get in! - as Prince Esterhazy was hauled into the Duke's carriage by his hands and jacket. Only Holmes and Huskisson were left on the track. 'Mr Huskisson [...] became flurried,' the Liverpool Courier reported, 'and after making two attempts to cross the road upon which the Rocket was moving, ran back, in a state of great agitation, to the side of the Duke's carriage.'

The Rocket seemed to be slowing. Holmes and Huskisson clung to the side of the Duke's carriage, but then fear overcame them. This carriage was 8ft wide, and overhung the parallel rail by 2ft. The remaining 2ft gap between the carriage and the advancing engine should have been sufficient to ensure safety, but Huskisson began to move about. He manoeuvred his good leg over the side of the carriage, but those inside failed to pull him in. Holmes cried to him, 'For God's sake, Mr Huskisson, be firm!', at which point Huskisson grabbed the door of the carriage, which swung wide open, suspending him directly into the path of the engine. The Rocket hit the door, and Huskisson was flung beneath its wheels.

'The engine passed over his leg and thigh, crushing it in a most frightful way,' the society hostess Harriet Arbuthnot later observed. 'It is impossible to give an idea of the scene that followed, of the horror of everyone present or of the piercing shrieks of his unfortunate wife, who was in the car. He said scarcely more than, "It's all over with me. Bring me my wife and let me die." '

The Rocket stopped several yards from the collision, and passengers jumped out and ran back to the spot where Huskisson lay weltering in blood. He observed his split limb with revulsion and astonishment as it shook beyond his control.

Huskisson took nine hours to die. He was attended by surgeons at a nearby rectory, and amputation was considered a hopeless cause. As he lay dying, the celebrities and directors on the track argued about how best to proceed. Wellington favoured a return to Liverpool, fearful of a restless crowd at Manchester (Manchester, despite its industrial prominence, was still unrepresented in Westminster ). But the railway promoters feared something else: bad publicity if the journey were not completed. Already a pattern was taking shape on Britain's railways. The first day's journeying had produced a terrible accident, the trains were agonisingly late, and the directors were huddled in a group figuring how best to avoid taking responsibility.

Huskisson's funeral shut Liverpool for a morning, with tens of thousands lining the procession from the town centre to the new St James' cemetery. Mourners spoke of a much-loved local MP, a man who served the future; they could not have known that history would remember him as a victim.

There are several memorials to Huskisson in the town, but the most significant is several miles out, just after Newton-Le-Willows on the Liverpool-Manchester line. Here there is a memorial on the accident site, raised up on the bank so that passengers of today may read of the horror and draw breath. Except they can't, because Parkside has disappeared, the intake of water neither a necessity nor a memory, and now even the slowest train rushes past, providing only the blurriest glimpse. The marble slab can be appreciated only if the train is delayed by a signal ahead, or if you slide down the bank on foot, a treacherous journey. It reads:
'This Tablet, a tribute of personal respect and affection, has been placed here to mark the spot where, on the 15th of September 1830 at the opening of the railroad The Right Honourable William Huskisson MP, singled out by an inscrutable Providence from the midst of the distinguished multitude that surrounded him, in the full pride of his talents and per fection of his usefulness, met with the accident that occasioned his death, which deprived England of an illustrious Statesman and Liverpool of its honoured Representative, which changed a moment of noblest exultation and triumph that science and genius had ever achieved into one of desolation and mourning, and striking terror into the hearts of assembled thousands, brought home to every bosom for the forgotten truth that - In the midst of life, we are in Death.'

In 1839 a parliamentary committee heard how engine drivers developed dangerous and unproductive rivalries. Adrian Vaughan, a signalman, described a scenario in which 'the many and varied machines with their individualistic drivers, owing allegiance to a variety of employers, plied to and fro without much regard for safety: collisions were common [...] When damage occurred there would then be a row between the various parties as to who was to blame and who was to pay.'

Today, 163 years later, you may detect a familiar ring. Huskisson is a symbolic figure for us now, a patron saint of calamity. On 15 September 1830 people gathered to witness one story but departed with another, and at the time it was hard to judge which was the more significant - the birth or the death. The accident continues to provide us with one of those big, charming metaphors of progress: it announced a new force in the world, and the Rocket became the ultimate symbol of the new machine; old men wandering across its path didn't have much of a chance.

Since 1830 there have been many other accidents on the rail network, these are but a few:
1879 The Tay Bridge collapsed under a train from Dundee, killing everyone aboard (estimated at 80).
1889 Armagh. The accident that led to the Regulation of Railways Act, having killed many children on a Sunday School trip.
1915 Quintinshill, Gretna Green. A train carrying a Royal Scots battalion collided with a passenger train, 227 dead.
1952 Harrow and Wealdstone. A sleeper train from Perth jumped signals and hit a local train, causing 112 deaths and 340 injuries.
1957 Lewisham. An express collided with a suburban train, killing 90 and injuring 173.
1988 Clapham Junction. Three rush-hour services collided, killing 35 and injuring 113.
1999 Paddington. A commuter train went through a red light and crashed into an express, with a combined speed of about 100mph. 31 dead, 244 injured.

Personal Commentary:
Day in, day out thousands of paying customers place their lives in the hands of Railtrack and the rail operators to safely take them from station A to station B. Travelling by rail is one of the safest means of transport, if not one of the most expensive in the UK. Yet when accidents occur, they are at speeds where damage to life and limb is sadly without doubt.

For those who remember the days of nationalized railways, fondly recall how everything seemed to work like clockwork. It is easy to look back through rose-tinted glasses, as statistics prove there are more trains now than ever before, with a small minority running behind schedule and being cancelled. Yet it is evident from the inquests following Paddington in 1999 that safety is being compromised with devastating results. Some months after Paddington a report was published on the number of trains driven through red signals, the report made for frightening reading.

Yet regardless of the reported dangers each weekday, I picked up my paper walked up the ramp at Potters Bar and caught the 8:11am to Moorgate, in the faith and skill of the driver I would arrive safely at my destination.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 16, 2002

In an effort to be fair and balanced.

I bring your attention to the following posting from Innocents Abroad

My joshing on a matter of protocol and how a Canadian sports star crossed an established line during HRH's visit to Canada, needs to be balanced. I do have wonderful aunt, uncle, cousins (one of whom is to be shortly married and a sister-in-law from Canada. So before any offense is taken I offer the full text from Innocents Abroad.

Keeping Up Appearances
When it comes to politics, I’m something of a republican, but as a Canadian, I’m also pretty much a loyal monarchist. In any case, Montesquieu long ago commented that Britain was more or less a republic under the guise of a monarchy – constitutional monarchy as we in the Commonwealth call it.

Judging by Canada’s warm welcome for the Queen and Prince Philip during their recent visit to my homeland, it appears Canadians in general are quite happy with their monarch as well. Appropriately, such outpouring of support did not go unnoticed by the great BBC whose web-site fondly announced: “Canadians Behind the Queen.”

Being the BBC, however, the article quickly headed downhill, displaying a host of foolish and unfounded opinions about Canadians that ultimately speak more to current British tastes than to the reality which is Canada. And so to the article.

First of course comes the line that the Queen is popular despite “calls from republicans for an end to the monarchy.” Unfortunately, yes, there were some wretched fools who couldn’t help but make hay out of the visit. Even more unfortunate was the fact that Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister, John Manley, was among them. In his typical, “I’m a pontificating idiot” posture, Manley let loose with a font of suppositions regarding the possibility of replacing the Queen after her earthly sojourn is done with a Canadian born pseudo-monarch. The monarch would apparently be pseudo because the position would be appointed or elected but not hereditary, and would, we presume, not be a lifetime post (this is especially to be hoped for since a lifetime post would translate into another bureaucratic position for some undeserving whelp who couldn’t handle the rigors of the Ministry of State for Sport). Manley even had some thought on possible candidates: Celine Dion for instance. I’m sure the tabloids would be all aflutter.

Moving on, the BBC proceeds to inform us that “even the Canadian press has been supportive.” Which in turn leads me to wonder why this should surprise our friends on the sceptred isle. Perhaps the BBC believes the press should act as mudslinger. Or perhaps the BBC feels we should all treat the monarch like some sort of sport or entertainment personality, fawning over every move while digging through her garbage for evidence of naughty goings-on. If that’s the case, then I’m sure the BBC would quite welcome Mr. Manley’s nomination of Celine Dion as pseudo-Queen.

Thankfully, the BBC royal correspondent does us the honor of interpreting, or better yet, deconstructing the root causes of the Queen’s popularity in the Great White North. And lest you think Canadians' admiration for the monarch lies in something so banal as respect for her office as sovereign, or patriotism, or recognition of her value as a national symbol, or even a sense of deference to history and tradition, the BBC is here to clear up that faux-pas. You see, Canadians like the Queen because she’s “different.” And how might she be different? Well, according to our insightful BBC correspondent, “In Canada, anything or anyone who underlines Canada’s difference from its southern neighbour tends to be cherished.”

There you have it, Canadians have an inferiority complex and that’s why we love our Queen. Like the Nobel Committee and Jimmy Carter, we rely on the Queen to make a statement about how unAmerican we really are, snubbing the uncouth and provincial republic across our border. I suppose this would explain why Canada’s republicans dislike the monarchy, except for the fact that these same republicans, like John Manley, don’t have much use for the US either.

But alas, there may be one reason left – apart from anti-Americanism – as to why Canada loves the Queen. Quoting none other than a Toronto Star style journalist, the BBC rounds off its piece with the news that the Queen may be popular because she’s now a “fashion hottie.” We may not need Celine Dion after all.

Now, I realize the BBC correspondent was playing a bit tongue-in-cheek, and indeed some in the more respectable British press criticized the Ontario leg of the visit for being little more than a soporific peon to sterile multi-culturalism. Still, one can’t help but see signs of what “cool Britannia” and the BBC are fast becoming in this article. Far from presenting a true representation of how Canadians feel about the Queen, the BBC turns the piece into a cheap, cynical caricature that serves only to highlight the provincial and petty nature of the BBC itself. Disdain for the monarchy, knee-jerk anti-Americanism and a pathetic attempt at wit combine to form a sorry piece that is neither humorous nor informative. In the end, all we have is the prattling of a BBC journalist and a snide comment about the Queen’s fashion sense. Don’t get me wrong, I love British sarcasm, or at least I did love it back when it was intelligent and ironic. Today, it seems substantially more trite. I can’t help but feel this reflects the state of a significant swath of contemporary Britain. So I suggest that Canada and Britain make a trade: we’ll take the Queen and Patricia Routledge, you can have John Manley and Celine Dion as it seems to be a matter of keeping up appearances in any case.

posted by Collin May at 10/16/2002 08:09:53 AM

With the greatest respect to Collin, I loved the comment about trading the Queen and Patricia Routledge, you can have John Manley and Celine Dion.

Feedback always invited, please email me.
The Independent is a great source of news from the UK for me, today it offers up three stories that personally interest me.

I am rapidly heading towards a milestone birthday. Do the maths, I was 6 when man landed on the moon and for some time after was set on a career as an astronaut, a British astronaut.

I consider myself fortunate to see humanity reach for the stars, the space race between America and Russia, Skylab, the shuttle program and now the International Space Station. I fully expect in my lifetime to see man land on Mars, that would be a fantastic achievement.

This is old news by a couple of days but the headline caught my attention.

British astronaut steps into space

The Astronaut Piers Sellers yesterday became the second Briton to have walked in space when he helped to make the final connections for a 14-ton, 350ft (100m) truss to the International Space Station.
Mr Sellers, 47,
(47, boy chance for me yet), began the six-hour space walk yesterday after two colleagues from the station had used a robot arm to move the girder in place from the payload bay of the space shuttle Atlantis on to the enormous floating structure, 100 miles (160km) in space.

The father of two is originally from Crowborough, East Sussex, but now has US citizenship (does a legal resident count for employment?) and lives with his family in Houston, Texas. (I guess a British astronaut from Pennsylvania does not really match, I’ll have to think about moving). He is the third UK-born person in orbit, after Helen Sharman and Michael Foale, who had their first space experiences in 1991 and 1992 respectively. Michael Foale was the first Britain to spacewalk in 1995.

It is all too easy to forget the names of the current group of international astronauts. Sure we all remember the names of the pioneers in the sixties, and have watched “The Right Stuff” hundreds of times, superbly acted by Scott Glenn, Ed Harris with a great supporting cast.

The next story and oxymoron if ever there was one: Pavarotti: not enough food in world

The cause of world hunger has an unlikely new champion – gigantic opera singer Luciano Pavarotti.
Anti-hunger campaigners have roundly condemned the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), a UN body, for enrolling Pavarotti."It's like getting Jeffrey Archer to promote honesty," said Barry Coates, director of the World Development Movement.
(Jeffery Archer, former Chairman of the British Conservative Party and renown author is currently serving jail time at her Majesty’s pleasure for being less than honest).

You can imagine the full text of the story, without a link.

And finally for this entry here is the answer of what to get the man who has everything.
At last, the definitive guide to keeping an elephant happy

Books on how to keep hamsters, yes; books on how to keep guinea pigs, sure; but a book on how to keep elephants? Believe it, because Britain's zoos published it yesterday.

The 160-page volume is believed to be the world's first comprehensive guide for the management of elephants in captivity, and it lays down modern welfare standards for the great beasts that many zoos of the recent past would have had difficulty meeting.
Link here for full story:

Now all you need to get is an elephant with a “Jumbo” sized ribbon around its neck to go with the book.

Feedback always invited, please email me.
Canadian breach of protocol

From the “silly stories” and lets face it, in the last week it is a pleasure to find a little relief from the top news stories that are wholly depressing I found this nugget of a story.

A Canadian sports star made an inadvertent breach of royal protocol when he asked the Queen if he could take a snap for the family photo album.

According to protocol, the Queen should not be touched in any way beyond a polite handshake.
For the full story and the offending photograph link here. Take a close look at the picture and the press corps in the background having a field day!

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October 14, 2002

And now Bali
We do live in troubled times.

I have read reports that over 30 Britain’s have been murdered by the terrorist attack over the weekend in Bali. This number is almost insignificant to the number of Australians who were on holiday and many on honeymoon.
(Link for updates from the Australian press).

I as millions of others over the weekend could only watch the unfolding scene of disaster. As time has passed only now do we start to understand of the sequence of events.

The terrorist model has been used before, two bombs. The first a car bomb designed to create panic as the crowds ran into the path of the second bigger bomb. The damage sustained and damaged gas tanks in the buildings accelerated the fire that followed.

From the reports I have seen on TV I can only conclude that much of the damage to life and property was from the gas explosions.


Unlike Finland there are some answers to this latest terror attack.

The “night club” area in Bali was a soft target. Australians, Brits and Americans, three members of the allied coalition against terror, frequented it.

Indonesia is a country that is over 90% Muslim, and has a troubled history of being a homeland to terrorist groups. Until now the Indonesian government has given a blind-eye to the comparatively small terrorist activities and has not formally recognized that they have a problem.

In the last 24 hours a minister has spoken out formally recognizing the problem.

Am I becoming intensities to terror activity? In the last week we have had to come to personal terms of the “Beltway Sniper” a bomb explosion in crime free Finland and now Bali.

No, I am not insensitive; I continue to be resolute that justice will prevail over this kind of evil. The Beltway Sniper will be caught, and the people responsible for the bomb in Bali will be identified and justice will be seen to be done.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 12, 2002

Death toll rises to seven in "act of terror" Location : Finland.

Full Story from Finnish Media.

A powerful explosion shook a crowded shopping mall in the Myyrmäki suburb of Vantaa, just north of the Finnish capital, at around 19.35. The area was at this time packed with shoppers and with parents and children attending a performance by a circus clown.
Part of the glass roof of the 130-store mall came down, and many of the dead and injured suffered both from the blast and from falling glass and debris. Eye-witnesses spoke of carnage and panic at the scene, as the main concourse filled with dust and debris.
All of the more than 1,000 people inside the mall at the time were got outside by 21.00. The building was badly damaged over an area of several hundred square metres, but is not believed to be in any danger of collapse.

What kind of a world do we live in when acts of terror performed by individuals affect the daily lives of ordinary people going about their daily chores. The news from the Washington DC area this week has toppled news on the unfolding Iraq issues from top stories regular bulletins, locally and nationally.

Now, Finland. A country reknown to be peaceful with compartively low crime statistics has found itself victim to the aggressive acts of a lone individual. Without warning a 20 year old student walked into a crowded shopping center, the second largest in the country and blew himself up killing others in the process. Why?

Check in with the link above for updates from Finland, I will.

Feedback always invited, please email me.
Iraq says inspectors can visit palaces

Just found.. in the Telegraph

Iraq's vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, said in an interview that Baghdad is ready to allow UN weapons inspectors to visit eight presidential palaces, a key sticking point with the United States.

"As far as we are concerned, the inspectors can search and inspect however and where ever they would like," he told the German Der Spiegel news magazine in response to a question as to whether inspectors could also visit the presidential palaces.

Full story

An interesting change of tactics by Iraq. As I understand the combined area of the Presidential Palaces is something over 12 square miles and includes many buildings. Perhaps the weapons of mass destruction (WOMD) that have possibly been hidden within the walls of these compounds have been moved to other secure locations away from the weapons inspectors.

Perhaps Saddam is not looking for war, if so, why has he stockpiled his arsenal of weaponry?
We can only conclude that this is but another move in a dangerous game of chess between Iraq and allies.

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It is a simple question. Only the answers are complicated. Not to mention numerous.
Should ABC, CBS and NBC have televised President Bush’s speech Monday night urging the prompt disarmament of Iraq?

Link here

Perhaps just because it is Saturday this story has surfaced. Nevertherless, given the importance of the speech last Monday night, I was most suprised that the main network channels did not carry the speech by President Bush. This item offers interesting arguments both for and against. Personally I believe that the networks should have carried the speech.

Feedback always invited, please email me.
Recommended Blog of the week.

I strongly recommend that you read THE LINCOLN PLAWG. Written by a fellow Brit who has interesting commentary on Iraq.

He kindly offers the following thoughts on the magic roundabout film.

Dreadful news they're planning to desecrate the memory of 'Magic Roundabout'! The Nigel Planer version was bad enough - but Kylie as Florence?! Shades of Steve Martin as Bilko....

Comments I agree with.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 11, 2002

White Van Man

In the UK to suffer the threats of white van man is nothing worse than road-rage, being cut-up on the road or being tailgated. If that is not bad enough.

White van man in Washington DC for over a week now has meant something far more sinister.

Sniper Shootings facts and timeline through Fox News.

Tracking the coverage of the latest shooting this morning at a petrol station would seem as if the law enforcement agencies may have unearthed the sniper as the location of the latest target is further afield than the other shootings. If this is the case, the sniper may well be outside his "comfort zone" of local geographic knowledge and more likely to make a mistake falling into the law enforcement net.

My Beltway-Brother-in-law in the DC area has told me today that everyone is pretty spooked.

If the sniper is shooting from inside his vehicle he is effectively driving his crime-scene away offering few clues to his identity. Yet the images of the law enforcement agencies controlling the exits to the main highways in the area, stopping every white vehicle gives a strong message to the sniper. Assuming of course that the sniper is actually using a white van.

The media are being accused of broadcasting the police game plan to the sniper, yet we know that the police are keeping several facts in this case to themselves. Certainly the tarot card link next to the spent cartridge is a clue, but it would seem given the number of shootings, many of the cartridges are unaccounted for.

The advice being given by the authorities to everyone is to be alert. To be realize that something is out of the ordinary, to record what you see descriptions of people and cars, registration plates (licence numbers) and then to contact the authorities. Through due diligence the sniper will be caught.

For those in the DC area who need to fill cars with gas, thay are advised to use pumps closer to the central hub of the gas station. Ideally they should use smaller residential gas stations rather than the large complexes on the highway system.

"Is this a terrorist? Yes, but not in the way we think of terrorist at the moment" a law enforcement agent has been quoted. There are laws in Virginia that can convict the sniper with the death penalty from this continuing crime.

From a personal observation, in my neighbourhood "white van man" is something of an oddity compared with the number of white vans seen in the London area every day. Despite that the road network around DC is chock-a-block with traffic most days, just how many white vans can there be out there?

Life it would seem is anything but normal in DC right now. I pray there are no more deaths before this person is under arrest, my thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed and with each and every law abiding citizen in and passing through the DC area, including my Brother-in-Law.

Feedback always invited, please email me.
“Time for Bed” said Zebedee.

In a world where childrens television is available 24 hours and day 7 days a week I certainly question the quality of the programs that are broadcast though cable and dish services in the US.

Recent statistics suggest that US children watch on average two hours television more each week than their British cousins. But what are they watching?

As an adult my TV viewing in the USA has reduced substantially to the time I spent being brainwashed by BBC1, BBC2, ITV, C4 and Channel 5 yet I am aware of the hours of cartoons and “gunk the kid” type programs that seem to be served up on the networks here in the US.

I fully support the educational friendly programs like Sesame Street broadcast on both sides of the Atlantic. A little muppet is a good thing, a furry brace (what is the collective noun for a group of muppets?) of muppets is great. There are also some great historical educational programs aimed at children that make strong efforts to strike a balance.

Certainly I have since grown up from the days of returning from school in the late afternoon and have very nostalgic memories of the after-school programs broadcast by the good old Beeb, The schedules were clearly established for younger viewers, Watch with Mother, Play School to the current affairs and childrens dramas for older children. Jackanory (tell a story) every weekday afternoon followed Play School, where for twenty minutes you would enter the magical world of books as the simple premise of having a complete story read to you over 5 programs supported with illustrations fostered imagination and interest in heading to the library to read the same and other books.

Monday & Thursday used to be the original schedule for Blue Peter the schedule has changed and I have noted the presenters are now younger (and hipper than I ever was), yet Blue Peter still offers an anchor of broadcasting excellence.

In my childhood Tuesday was the afternoon for Vision On, a TV program ahead of its time that offered something for children hard-of-hearing, that also was entertaining for every other child who tuned in. For those who can remember who can forget Johnny Morris and his Animal Magic, classic children’s television that was broadcast on the same day.

Friday, at five to five was Crackerjack, and a chance to divert to something a little more silly with big prizes like a crackerjack pencil to be won, and not an ounce of gunge. Custard pies perhaps, but no gunge and as I recall lots of cabbages.

Add to the mix BBC favorites such as Record Breakers, a program dedicated to reporting on and setting British and World Record achievements that were published each year in the Guinness Book of World Records. Originally hosted by the enthusiastic Roy Castle and the McWhirter brothers

Weekely schedules were intermixed with imported Hannah Barbara cartoons from America such us Scooby Doo, Top Cat, Funky Phantom and Wacky Races.

In my early teenage years the BBC created through the talents of Phil Redmond, Grange Hill a childrens drama based upon a fictional secondary school. The early episodes seemed to mirror the daily ups and downs of real kids in real secondary schools. As the series established over a number of years different writers and directors included plot lines that took a far more cutting edge yet serious and responsible approach to matters that affect school kids today, like drugs and teenage pregenancy. Looking back to my school days I the worst my peers ever seemed to manage was smoking behind the bike sheds, and one instance of shop lifting by a small group of boys at the local shopping center. They were caught and suffered the consequences.

Thirty years ago a little know broadcaster from BBC Bristol called John Cravens set about fronting John Cravens Newsround. A brief program that reported on news stories of interest to children. 30 years on is still broadcast bannered as CBBC Newsround. Newsround like Blue Peter is an award winning program that by its own merit deserves to remain in the current schedules.

The BBC have a web page dedicated to the 30th anniversary for those of you with fond memories of this program I invite you to view this site and remenice.

At the end of the childrens television each afternoon at about 5:40pm just before the early evening news was a five minute slot that over the years hosted classics such as Ivor the Engine and who can forget Captain Pugwash. Yet king of this slot was a dog called Dougal and the queen was a little girl called Florence, stars of a French program called the Magic Roundabout, which eventually brings me to the point of this blog entry.

Here is the latest update, Kylie Minogue is to star in "Magic Roundabout" through using her voice rather than her acting as Florence in an upcoming remake of the sixties children's classic "The Magic Roundabout", produced by film giant Pathe. Robbie Williams of Take That fame is set to provide the the voice for Dougal.

Moulin Rouge, oscar winning actor Jim Broadbent will lend his voice to Brian the snail and "Ab Fab" Joanna Lumley will be Ermintrude the cow.

Opportunities still exist for celebrities to vie for the voice of Dylan the spaced-out rabbit.

Perhaps the remake film will never reach the US shores, (shame) as it is currently scheduled to be aired in the UK and the original country of origin, France in 2004, and is reported to feature two new characters including a Zee-Bad-ee played by former Dr. Who Tom Baker.

Link here for the full story

I must recommend those who fondly remember the theme tune just before the news to play the link. Happy memories.

Meanwhile in my searh for links for this posting I discovered the BBC have a cult TV web page that includes some bizarre links for programs shown on British TV not just the Beeb. Sci-Fi fans and viewers of the sci-fi channel in the US will be interested in the protests by British viewers to keep Farscape in production.

Yet what I want to know is why John Noakes cannot be found when searching through the BBC web pages, even the Blue Peter page. That presenter did far more for Childrens TV (without being insured by them) than any other in living memory.

Well that’s far enough down memory lane for one year.

Comments are always welcome.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

October 09, 2002

Light postings this week.

No apologies for the light postings in the last week or two but I have found my time being taken with other tasks at the moment.

As the world continues to revolve, a new planet has been discovered, arguably as there is question over what actually defines a planet over other bodies in the solar system. The UN continues to draft and redraft an airtight resolution against Iraq. The sands of time continue to pass and the threat posed by the Iraq government is very real. Nevertheless, I personally doubt that the possibility of a smoking gun at this juncture is very small despite the Iraq having the capability and/or potential capability. Time and history will answer this question soon enough. President Bush has spoken to the nation, (in a very soft manner, contrary to written reports). He was not speaking to members of the House, the Senate or the majority of American citizens who have clear in their minds the actions and decisions that need to be taken. Instead this was a repackaged, reinforced speech delivered with some eloquence to the people in America who have yet to reconcile their thoughts.

Meanwhile on the domestic front we have some deranged sharpshooter terrorizing the suburban areas of Washington DC. I truly feel for the law enforcement agents who are trying to catch this terrorist. As news briefings are given every couple of hours there is little to report. Parents keep their children from schools; Starbucks and other restaurants have removed the outside seating at their restaurants. Life in Bowie and other burbs is far from normal.

There appears to be no immediate motive, no obvious connection to those killed and seriously injured, or to the locations where they were shot. There will be a continuation to the argument of the right of an American citizen to bear arms. Constitutionally that is unlikely to change. Nevertheless when this terrorist aimed and fired at a 13 year old boy heading into school, a line was crossed. This terrorist for that is indeed the crime they are committing in addition to murder and attempted murder deserves nothing less than the full might of ultimate sentence should they ever reach the mercy of a courtroom as the law enforcement agencies seek to remove this individual from there foxhole.

So what news story has gripped my attention from all this mayhem?

Wales, Great Britain: Police impound cars run on cooking oil

Police in west Wales have taken action against five drivers in one day for using vehicles run on cooking oil as part of a clampdown on the illegal practice. The motorists were stopped under new legislation, which makes it an offence to use the oil as an alternative fuel without paying a fuel tax levy.

It has been reported that a growing number of motorists are using the ordinary frying pan oil in their diesel engines to cut costs.
But such drivers face having their vehicles impounded if they do not pay a fine of £500 and persistent offenders face up to seven years in jail. The legal problem is, that by using 32p-a-litre cooking oil instead of costing around 73p a litre, they are not paying fuel tax. But they are committing an offence because all cars on public roads must pay fuel tax - and cooking oil is not taxed. Officers have launched a crackdown in areas and it is reported that six drivers were arrested and questioned at Burry Port. The Automobile Association (AA) has warned that cost-conscious motorists could be storing up trouble for themselves.
Oil fumes
"It could severely damage your vehicle if you do not follow the manufacturers instructions about which fuel to use," a spokesman said. Traffic police - dubbed "frying squad" officers - are sniffing out the tax dodgers because the fumes smell like chips cooking. One driver, who did not want to be named, said: "I've halved my motoring costs since I started running my diesel Subaru on cooking oil. The car runs just as well and even smells a lot better than diesel." The motorist was one of dozens who have had their cars impounded in the crackdown.

He said: "I was stopped by an unmarked car which had blue lights flashing. The officer went to the fuel tank, dipped it, and found cooking oil. "I put my hands up to the offence and the car was towed away. They said Customs would be notified." Legal powers given to the Customs and Excise mean that drivers are being forced to hand over £650 to get their vehicles back.
They can be fined £500 for using illegal fuel and charged a £150 towing fee.
A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesman denied earlier reports that six drivers had been arrested in the crackdown. "It is part of our spot stop-and-check fuel strategy to catch offenders dodging fuel taxes."
One supermarket in Llanelli confirmed it sold more cooking oil than any other branch in the country. Asda spokeswoman Rachel Fellows said: "We have to admit we do sell a lot of cooking oil at our Llanelli store, but anyone seen attempting to wipe out our stock with bulk purchases would be stopped." Customs and Excise spokesman Bill O'Leary said: "All cars on public roads must pay a tax on the fuel they use. “Evasion is a criminal offence and carries a maximum seven-year jail term."

Source BBC News.

Quiz: Know your Cockney Rhyming Slang?

Whatcha! Me old china welcome back to London Chimes.

Despite my Barnet and Hertfordshire BBC (ish) accent it is so easy to slip into something a little more cockney when talking with taxi drivers outside Kings Cross Station. Bless em. My wife was totally amused at my vocal slip from my normal accent on one occasion when we took a taxi from the rank outside Kings Cross. Ah well, when arriving off the train at Kings Cross, when in Rome and all that.

Here is a fun little quiz; I cannot admit to scoring 10, answers are at the bottom.

Cockney Rhyming Slang is alive and well with new terms being invented all the time, according to the new Oxford Dictionary of Rhyming Slang being published this week. But do you know a Raquel Welch (belch) from a Billie Piper (windscreen wiper)?

1. Which former secretary general of the UN is rhyming slang for a street name for cocaine?

A: U Thant

B: Kurt Waldheim

C: Perez de Cuellar

D: Boutros Boutros Ghali

2. One person meets another in the street and says: "Christian." Why?

A: Christian Slater. (See you later.)

B: Christiaan Barnard. (You're well hard.)

C: Christian Church. (I'm a copper and it's time for a strip search.)

3. Which one of these prime ministers is rhyming slang for a brand of pipe wrench?

A: Tony Blairs – Snares

B: Maggie Thatchers - Brachers

C: Harold Wilsons - Stilsons

D: John Majors - Stagers

4. If you've had a few Britneys, some Laurel and Hardy, some Winona, and then a bit of Calvin Klein, what would you be?

A: Kevin Keegan (vegan)

B: Elephants trunk (drunk)

C: Cream crackered (knackered)

5. If someone were to use the words "wind and kite" to describe BBC News Online, would this make us happy or sad?

A: Happy - it's slang for "really quite bright"

B: Sad - it's slang for a common impolite term

C: Neither – it's just slang for website

6. According to the new dictionary, if there's one radio presenter you really don't want a case of, which one is it?

A: Sara Cox (chicken pox)

B: Chris Moyles (boils)

C: Emma Freuds (haemorrhoids)

7. On the other hand, which agony aunt would many young people not want to be without?

A: Miriam Stoppard (ID card)

B: Marje Proops (Hula Hoops)

C: Claire Rayners (trainers)

8. You go out and you’re "Lee Marvin". Which famous Arab should you be looking out for?

A: Saddam Hussein (rain)

B: Colonel Gaddafi (café)

C: Omar Sharif (grief)

9. You intend to Chas 'n' Dave. Where?

A: At the cab rank (bank) – you’re going to save some rogan josh (dosh)

B: On your boat race (face) – you're going to shave

C: While on a Leo Sayer (all dayer) – you’re going on a rave

10. Which of these is not correct rhyming slang for a tobacco product?

A: An oily rag (fag)

B: Salmon and trout (snout)

C: Syrup of figs (cigs)

Here are the answers

1D, 2A, 3C, 4B, 5C, 6C, 7C, 8B, 9B, 10C.

Ah well plagurisum is alive and well, better post this to the old wind and kite.

Feedback always invited, please email me.

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