Archive for March 23rd, 2007

Right to roam…

The ‘sneering’* face of George ‘Don’t call me Gideon’ Osborne filled the television screen. He looked over at the Labour benches. There weren’t many Labour MPs in Parliament. The Great Train Robber / The Highwayman / Stalin, whatever you care to call him, wasn’t there… *(A Press report used the term ‘sneering’)

It must be pretty depressing for a Shadow Chancellor to find 13 of Labour’s finest doing their best to fill the government benches and the Chancellor doing something more interesting than listen to Osborne’s response in The Budget Debate. “Yes, well,” said Mr Osborne “I suppose you’ve got some people here but not really the quality.”

Moving on…because Mr Osborne has not said anything so far during his time as Shadow Chancellor of the slightest interest to me. To other matters. The Lord Chief Justice has faced the press for the first time. He repeated his view, made in a lecture recently, that there was little point in detaining geriatric lifers in prison at £40k a go and then turned his attention to the increasing use of on the spot fines by Police officers for a range of offences, including theft and assault. Lord Phillips tok the view that this ‘ diversion’ was not appropriate in cases of assualt where the matter should be looked at by the courts to ensure that measures were taken to stop re-offending. On the spot fines? A rather unpleasant slippery slope in my view. I am not at all comfortable with Police having power to issue on the spot fines for crimes involving theft or assault. Also… there is the question of work for criminal lawyers.

An interesting article in The Times today by Alice Miles: We are celebrating the 200th Anniversary of The Abolition of the The Slave Trade. Alice Miles makes several points: (1) Isn’t it a bit early to pat ourselves on the back? (2) What about sex slave human trafficking and child slavery in other parts of the world (3) The abolition of slavery was also an early anti-racist measure (4) only 15 non-white MPs (13 Labour) in Parliament against 8 per cent as proportion of UK population (5) Black boys don’t do as well as black girls, who do as well as white boys, but not white girls (6) Have you ever seen the Prime Minister or The Queen with black advisers?

Yes… we’re getting there!

Reminded me of a cartoon I saw in a paper picturing Shilpa “Big Brother” Shetty meeting the Queen and asking “Is there any racism here?” The Queen replied “No, Prince Phillip is away.”

I left Chiswick the other evening in a mini-cab enroute to an obscure part of London called Camden. Obscure, that is, to the Afghan driver who asked me for the postcode of the house I was going to. I told him I had absolutely no idea of the postcode. He typed the name of the road into his Sat-Nav device and we headed off in the wrong direction. I was reminded of the story of the woman who drove her £96000 Mercedes into a ford, obeying her Sat-Nav, and a host of other stories involving idiotic Sat-Nav users. Recently, some goon drove a party of children in a coach to Hampton Court in Islington, a grotty cul de sac, instead of the famous Hampton Court Palace – farcical. A year ago, an ambulance crew picking up an ill person near Ilford, Essex, for a local hospital; followed Sat-Nav for 400 miles and turned back only when they were on the outskirts of Manchester.

I told the driver that we were heading towards the North Circular. He confirmed that we were. I told him that I had no desire, at any time, let alone a Friday night, to go on the North Circular and that we would be better off going on the West Way down the Marylebone Road and heading towards Camden when we saw the signs. I had to be fairly blunt about my wishes before he agreed to turn the Sat-Nav off and, eventually I had to direct him much of the way after he started to veer south off the Marylebone Road instead of North. I was tempted to tell him to type in a postcode I know in Edinburgh to help him find his way back to West London. Instead I drew him a map to get him back to Camden High Street. I am fairly sure his Sat-Nav device was switched on fairly quickly!

As a biker I agree with plans to stop the use of Sat-Nav screens while on the move in cars. I have to watch the road on my motorbike – to stay alive. I feel it only fair that drivers should not be using mobiles or Sat-Navs while on the move. Here endeth the rant…

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