Sunday, September 28, 2008


Bizarre. After eleven years of serial cock-up the Government says sorry, let us put it all right. God, I wish we lived in a democracy. "We do.", I hear you say. We most certainly do not. We are governed (indeed, ruled) by an increasingly arrogant pseudo-elective oligarchy. The UK has never, ever, been a democracy (literally "people-ruled"). We now have an unelected Prime Minister presiding over nothing more than a kakistocracy. I just love the Cabinet Chorus: "We know it is bad here, but everywhere else is worse".
Phew. Thank God for that, eh.
The trouble with our Government is that they are addicted to their own nanny state. Democracy? Not even close.

But here's a question: If Brown and the crowd around him know best, why do they not put up huge pictures of him with the caption "BROWN KNOWS".

Thursday, September 25, 2008


This has been a really busy week at work. Relentless. One thing after another. Paperwork by the shed load. Irritating meetings. Timetable problems.

But a star has been shining through this week that makes it all worthwhile. Our international students have arrived.

To meet them is a humbling experience. Thousands of miles from home, seventeen years old, full of expectation, dreams, hopes. They engage in conversation in halting English, unsure of protocols, trying so hard to do/say the right thing without actually knowing what that is. Confidence without arrogance. Here for a year and then into a UK university (probably). Lots from China, but plenty from the Middle East, a range of Asian countries and a few from states in Africa.

It is great to meet them. It restores my optimism levels.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ebay worries me...

I love eBay. The whole "will it sell?", "will I win it?" thing. Great. Better than a brisk walk.

But I am worried.

Have you read the descriptions of the goods on eBay? Oh my God! Who writes these things? Semi-literate children? An infinite number of monkeys on typewriters? Apparently not; Joe Public writes them.

Joe has, it seems, never been able to spell, punctuation is a completely lost art and the whole act of creating a sentence seems to have skipped by. We are ultimately faced with a melange of text-speak, incorrect spelling and complete disregard for our beautiful language.

Does it matter?

Of course it matters! We communicate with others, in the absence of aural information, by written words. The spelling of a word is not optional in any sense. Words should be spelled correctly. This is one of those occasions when it is just as easy to get it right.

I know our language is changing. In my own lifetime there have been thousands of additions to English. Great. All for it. But when words are mangled and battered out of all recognition, we are doing something wrong. English is a superb language. We have traces of many other languages within ours. All the Germanic languages, the Romance languages, languages from the former British Empire - they are all there. English is a genuine polyglot. We should take more care of the amazing communication device that is English.

I blame the teachers. Oh damn; I am a teacher.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Favourite Joke

Favourite joke:
A woman goes into a bar and asks the barman for a double entendre.
So he gave her one.

You never know when you are going to fall under a bus and I'd feel aggrieved if you didn't know my favourite joke to tell at the wake. By the way "The Last Spring" by Grieg at the funeral; Okay? There won't be a dry eye in the house. It makes me cry now and I'm not even dead.

Counterfeit Coins

Interesting article on the news this morning: there are an estimated £30 million fake £1 coins in circulation. Usual wringing of hands followed.

So what?

Admittedly, the counterfeiter makes on what he/she does but after that; who cares? If I receive a fake £1 for goods or services and I pass it on to someone else for their goods or services it behaves exactly like a real £1. After all, a "real" £1 is not actually worth £1. It is a token we accept as being worth £1. The mint probably strike them out for a couple of pence.

Part of the problem is that our coins change every couple of minutes anyway. There are loads of different types of £1 in circulation. "Decus et tutamen", Scottish, Welsh, Manx, Jersey and plenty of others. It rather plays into the counterfeiter's hands.

If you identify a coin as counterfeit you are supposed to hand it in to the authorities; for which public-spirited action you receive precisely nothing. So next time you get a fake £1, hop in your car and drive the 5 miles to the police station, sit for 30 minutes whilst some already busy officer comes to deal with you and the seven glue sniffers you share the waiting area with, answer a shed load of questions lasting another half hour then drive the 5 miles back home. Ten miles of petrol (about £1.50) and an hour of your time (£6 at least) for nothing. I can't wait!

Next time you get a coin that you think might be a fake, try it in a parking meter. If it is accepted it probably wasn't fake. If it was fake then you will never know and you can't do anything about it. Anyway, parking meters are their own kind of robbery. Let's not get started on them.

Counterfeit, by the way, looks like a fake word. That "e" before "i". Very suspicious.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Battle of Britain Day

So, here we are on September 21st and - apart from a couple of desultory air displays and "The Battle of Britain" on Film 4 - there has been virtually no mention of Battle of Britain Day 2008. I don't get it. Across the 120 days of Summer 1940 the Third Reich got its first bloody nose and failed to subdue the British people. Consequently and subsequently, Hitler and all he stood for was defeated. And what do we do now? We forget it.

September 15th is loosely remembered as "Battle of Britain Day". I would bet that less than 1% of the British public knows this. More will know that July 4th is Independence Day in the USA; more still will recall a failed "gunpowder plot" on November 5th. The Scots will rightly remember St Andrew's Day, the Welsh will do the same for St David's Day. If the Irish do it properly, they won't remember St Patrick's Day the following day. St George's Day? Lightly remembered.

But Battle of Britain Day deserves better.

I am coming across as very nationalistic here and I'm really not. I am very pro-EU. I am certainly not anti-German; I love Germany, its people, places and language. It is my travel destination of choice.

But I am anti-Nazi and it remains a constant source of puzzlement to me that - given the chance - we would rather forget our "finest hour" than remember it.

Raise a glass to "the Few" when you remember. They are worth our memories and our thanks.

Genesis Chapter One

I suppose everybody starts their blog like this: Oh my God; What do I do? What do I write?

Well my dear world, you are in for some pretty dull stuff on this here blog.