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Archive for January, 2007

Giant penis etched into school garden with weedkiller can be seen from space. Sky has the story: “The unnamed pair of Year 11 pupils from Bellemoor School for Boys in Southampton, Hampshire, burnt the 20ft phallus into the grass as an end of term joke two years ago.”

Eye on the ball…

A Police officer, who was supposed to be guarding a wall damaged in the recent storms, was photographed by a passer-by. The officer was sitting in his vehicle playing a football game on a play station. The Metropolitan Police said: “The use of the games console was inappropriate and unprofessional. Senior officers are dealing with the matter.” The Sun has the story and a pic.

Shilpa is to meet the Queen, Blair and Gordon Turpin.

It was almost inevitable that Shilpa Shetty, Celebrity Big Brother winner, would meet politicians – but it was pleasing to learn that The Queen will also be meeting her. Mind you…the thought did cross my mind that Buckingham Palace is a bit like the Big Brother House – enclosed building, barred to the public, crowds cheering outside, heavy security and a curious collection of housemates… I exempt H M The Queen from my definition of ‘curious’.

Moving on…

I thought you might like to know that we could face a future without bananas unless drastic action is taken. I know this – because it was in The Guardian:

“It is a freakish, doped-up, mutant clone which hasn’t had sex for thousands of years – and the strain may be about to tell on the nation’s fruitbowl favourite. Scientists based in France have warned that, without radical and swift action, in 10 years’ time we really could have no bananas. Two fungal diseases, Panama disease and black Sigatoka, are cutting a swath through banana plantations, just as blight once devastated potato crops. But unlike the potato, and other crops where disease-resistant strains can be bred by conventional means, making a fungus-free variety of the banana is extraordinarily difficult.”

Have I lost my marbles?…

No…not yet – although it is, I am sure, only a matter of time. But…the Greeks have lost their marbles – The Elgin Marbles. Now school children in Greece are campaigning to get the Elgin Marbles back. The British Museum states that it is not ‘at liberty’ to give them back. I have some sympathy with the view that treasures plundered by our ancestors and forefathers should be returned to the original country – but, where would we be then? What would we have to put in our Museums? Judging by Time Team’s efforts at digging up wretched bits of broken pottery in most of their episodes (being re-run on Sky) – not very much.

Probably better to continue resisting? BBC story

And finally…

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day.
“In English,” he said, “A double negative forms a positive.
In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative
is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a
double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

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Punctuation… it is useful….

One for drafting ‘aficionados’
Notice the effect of the following Dear John love letter with different punctuation:

Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful.
People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever
when we’re apart. I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?

Gloria

Dear John
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful
people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever.
When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

yours,
Gloria

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Mirror…mirror…

After a run of bad luck (Motorbike accident with nasty injuries, tree hitting my house and tearing down all the phone lines, and falling down the stairs; breaking three toes) I have been telling people that I must have broken a mirror recently or at some point in my past.

Here is a mirror breaking story from Ananova to beat them all.

“A 2,500-year-old mirror worth £500,000 was dropped and smashed on a Chinese TV show. A model was showing the ancient mirror to the audience when it slipped from her hands and fell to the floor. It shattered into pieces, shocking the audience – especially owner Chen Fengjiu who was sitting in the front row.”

The show was stopped. The owner has not sued…yet.

***

The PI Brief Update Journal has decided to continue publishing my monthly column (First report) for them. I have declined an invitation to Canary Wharf, in case I fall out of the window – but, I suspect that I will have to do something fairly spectacular in terms of personal injury to repeat a report on the theme of personal injury. I have to ‘file’ my next monthly report by the 6th February. I am seeking inspiration. Any ideas on what I could write about?

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Incredible….

Sasuke is an astonishing athletic test held twice a year in Tokyo, Japan. Competitors have to complete four levels of increasing difficulty and increasing danger. I have never seen anything like it – a truly incredible test. Only two men have ever completed the course. Here is Makoto Nagano (33) doing the obstacle course. It is worth watching.

And, believe it or not, again from Japan…

Here we have a helicopter being used to open beer bottles.

I was amused to find that a blog linking to mine has a description of my blog. When the cursor rolls over the Charon QC link in the blogroll – up pops the tab: “Think Rumpole on crack.” Nearly knocked a full glass of Rioja over my keyboard.

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ASBOMan…writes…

It is important that all sectors of the community, interested in the English legal system, are given an opportunity to respond to the current crisis on prison capacity.

Tonight I was able to talk to the secretary-general of the newly formed ASBO Holders Association (AHA) who invited me to a secret location in London.

With his consent I recorded the interview. His lawyer and three council members of AHA, who were not engaged on official AHA business or activity on the streets of London tonight, have approved this report. I would like to stress that ‘Hamish’ (Not his real name) has not been paid for this interview nor has any donation, loan, gift or benefit in kind been given to Hamish or AHA.

This is what Hamish told me tonight….

“It is clearly not a satisfactory state of affairs when the home secretary is placed in a position where he has to write to the the Chief Justice of this country to advise that judges may have to consider alternative sentences to prison for those who practice criminality because of a shortage of prison places. AHA takes the view that the government of this country owes a duty of care to criminals – and those likely to be given ASBOS – to provide appropriate accommodation in a prison or other secure unit. Our members expect, when they go about their business, to do so in the knowledge, that if they do a job well, that their efforts will be rewarded and recognised with a prison sentence.

We believe that the Home Office, in failing to provide sufficient prison places, is ‘not fit for purpose’ and we shall be taking this up at the highest levels. On Monday we will be talking to senior officials at The Commission in Brussels to see if the United Kingdom is in breach of any European Union directives and, further, we will be bringing a claim in the European Court of Justice to the effect that the human rights of our members are being breached by the United Kingdom government’s failure to provide proper prison accomodation.

While I can understand Lord Phillip’s stating today… and I quote from The BBC news website: “The home secretary has not sought to instruct judges to stop imposing sentences of imprisonment.” It is simply not good enough. Interestingly, Lord Phillips is reported as saying “There is well and long established authority of the Court of Appeal that in such circumstances it is appropriate for the judge to have regard to prison overcrowding.”

Interestingly, a retired judge, Keith Matthewman (who does not share the view or opinion epressed by the Chief Justice) supports our view that the judiciary should have absolutely no regard to the administrative incompetence of the Home Office when considering sentences – and we approve his sentiments as reported today by the BBC – which I quote: “I don’t know any judge in this country who’s ever heard of this being said, that this is something that you take into consideration when you pass sentence,” he said. “You can’t take it into consideration. You’ve got to pass sentence on the crime.”

Our members need to know, when they engage in activity likely to result in a custodial sentence, if they are caught, that the full rigour of the law will be applied. It is simply not acceptable to us to be told by a judge that we cannot be imprisoned because there are no places left in British prisons. There is little point in our members engaging in criminal conduct if we are to be told that there is no risk. We may as well stay at home and watch Strictly Come Dancing or, in the case of our unemployed members, get jobs. Where would we be then?

No… we support the views of those judges who intend to disregard the advice given by the home secretary and we shall certainly be doing our best to find out where these more robust judges sit to ensure that our members are able to engage in criminality in a proper way; knowing that there are still parts of the country where it is worth doing so. I mean…. look at what happened with the looters of that ship which went aground in Devon. It was pathetic. No risk at all…. what pleasure is there in riding a BMW bike looted off a beach when the police wave you through. And as for those hoodies knicking nappies…. they should be ashamed of themselves. Only two AHA members were spotted on that beach and both have been expelled from the Association. ”

It was a surreal meeting and quite unexpected. I left Hamish – who took a call from a counterpart in France to arrange a trip to France next week so that English AHA members could test their skills against the French Police and Judicial system. Hamish told me ‘At least in France they have plenty of space in their prisons and their CRS boys really know how to give us a run for our money.”

In a long career, I have never come across such a bizarre situation.

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Anyone able to explain this paradox?…


The question is this: Why was a prison place available for a News of The World reporter (jailed for 4 months for plotting to hack into phone messages of Royal aides. The Sun) – yet no prison places were available for two paedophiles recently convicted, yet released by the judge (albeit, one on bail) because no space coud be found to imprison them? The Sun


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Hail to the Chief …. a state of the union, Friday night, peroration / rant… whatever….

Primus inter pares is clearly a doctrine which Lord Protector Blair has not been that interested in for some time – but one cannot help but admire the fact that he is (a) still PM (b) is taking all the flak and seems to be pretty relaxed about it and (c) will almost certainly (He is still young) go on to do more on the international stage. We are a tolerant and politically disinterested nation. When Prime Ministers leave the stage we tend to regard them more fondly – viz: Margaret Thatcher, Sir John Major (even after the revelations that he was interested in Edwina Currie), etc etc…and quite rightly so.

I accept, having decided to prescribe Tempranillo for my injuries tonight, and having had a few glasses with the Editor of an established political journal late last night, that I may be about to lose all perspective on current political events.

It matters not – because ‘qua Charon’ I do not have political ambitions, nor do I seek to be a ‘pundit’ on such matters. BUT… I have a feeling that Witchfinder-General Reid is probably out of the running for PM after the events at the Home Office this week (if he was ever a serious contender? – as I have believed for some time) and that we will soon have Gordon Turpin, The Highwayman, as PM.

*
The Sun pictured Reid without a brain in today’s edition – apparently. I gather Reid gave a Walnut Whip [Overseas readers: ‘Walnut Whip’ is a popular British chocolate – probably not 70% cocoa solids and absolutely nothing to do with ‘Le Vice Anglais’ ] to the person at The Sun who devised the competition to find the Home Secretary’s ‘walnut sized brain’. I say, apparently, because I rarely read The Sun – but a friend told me about the pic and the article.

I do not share the same view of Reid as depicted in The Sun. Reid may be a ‘bruiser’ – but he is, to my view, a clever man. Perhaps, with ‘hindsight’ , styling the Home Office as ‘not fit for purpose’ in his early days as Home Secretary, may not have been wise. What goes around, comes around – and Witchfinder is under pressure now. Good that Charlie Falconer, untainted by election pressures (and no longer unduly burdened by having to be Head of The Judiciary etc etc) can ‘come to the rescue’ by asserting that ‘we’ (UK plc?) have a problem in relation to the number of prison places and ‘that it may well be that we may not be able to imprison those who should be imprisoned’ for the time being.

Why don’t we use the Millenium Dome?… a perfect space – and one which Charlie has some experience of. Plenty of room… good light… reasonable security – certainly the equal of some of our open prisons.

What is clear to me – on this, Friday 26th January – is that Gordon Turpin is gagging for it… he has waited for years, since the famous dinners at Granita in Islington, to be PM. He has had to spend nearly 10 years managing the economy, in solitary confinement. Now he can emerge, like a butterfly…pure…, untainted by the Iraq war, untainted by Bush… to deliver us to the promised land and save our souls from perdition and the fires of hell and Al Qaedr et al.

It would not surprise me if Gordon Turpin meets Shilpa from Big Brother, in the not too distant future, for a photo opportunity… and I am sure that someone will tell him that beige chinos, however well fitting, and a blazer, is not a great look for him. [Curiously, I admired his refusal to wear ‘white tie and tails’ for dinners at The Mansion House.] As a Scot… I won’t be sorry to see a Scots PM (we have, after all, had union with England for 300 years) … and what other credible candidate, apart from Witchfinder Reid, have Labour got to put up, now, for PM?

It is just as well that I do not hold myself out as a political commentator. [Do you think Channel 4 might be interested?]

I will end this disjointed peroration by saying that I was horrified by the pictures of the new ‘military’ style uniforms for our ‘border cops’ – the Immigration service. Blue shirts, black ties, epaulettes? I rather liked the more subtle ‘civilian’ dress of our passport control officers. Much more efficient, subtly sinister…much more ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, Ian Fleming etc. The new uniforms will make our Immigration officers look like ‘Cold War’ quasi (or should that be ‘Stasi’) police officers… or, worse, traffic wardens. We do not need to have a uniformed Immigration service…. do we?

I may well need to delete this post on the morrow – on grounds of public decency. If you wish to complain… I am sorry that I do not have an expensive phone line for you to use – You may phone OftheWall or Channel 4. I am sure both organs of our State will be pleased that you have taken the trouble to ‘evict’ me, and, particularly so, in the case of the latter, in the light of their problems today with the latest telephone public vote on Big Brother.

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