Archive for August, 2009

The Independent reports today….

Mutilated for voting in defiance of the Taliban… grotesque and barbaric.  This is the future for Afghanistan? If Coalition forces and the Afghanistan army cannot make further headway?

What is is with religion: – a conjuring trick at best, a brutal tool of social control and fear at worst?  How many wars in the world today are being fought in the name of a god – who may well not even exist? (and, frankly, if god does exist – he ain’t exactlya barrel of laughs or a fun guy with this lot spreading his religion – it is unlikely, I suspect, that a woman would not be allowed to be ‘ god ‘ in this appalling interpretation of Islam.

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Blawg Review #227 is up…

Blawg Review #227 is up at The Inspired Solo. Sheryl Sisk Schelin has eschewed ‘themes’ and parodies the many blawgers (myself included)  who have used the Blawg Review concept of themes – mercilessly..

The problem with themed blawg reviews is mainly one of oneupsmanship — somebody gets clever with the Shakespeare, then the next guy has to go all Dante on you, and the next thing you know, we’re struggling to get through an irreverently witty translation of Innocent the III’s De miseria conditionis humanae and, really, who needs that? Right. We just want the good stuff from the blawgs.

It is a good read and she gives a wide coverage to topical issues – including ‘anonymity on the web’. I don’t actually care that much if someone is or is not anonymous when posting or commenting.  If I don’t agree with what they write, would I necessarily be more inclined to agree simply because I knew their name?  Would I think to myself….. I really don’t like this blog post by William Shakespeare but…hey…. he wrote Julius Caesar, Hamlet and the Scottish Play…. so… I’d better take note and start agreeing with the shit he is writing?  I don’t think so.  Shit is shit and the flies ARE wrong.

It gets the blood of a few friends of mine running and Dan Hull of WhatAboutClients? is one who has set up a “No-Wuss” zone for his blog… Stand, identify yourself and deliver is the mantra of those who deplore and decry anonymity. Fair enough….. but If I don’t like a comment posted on my blog posted ‘anonymously’ because it is ABUSIVE or rude about another blogger  I simply re-write what they have written to make them look dumb and link their “anonymous name” to a dodgy porno site…. usually deters people from being unpleasant to others on my blog…fortunately it is a very rare event anyway because I suspect that the nutters and others who have time to read my blog are of a liberal disposition or are pissed.)

I am not anonymous – I am pseudonymous, although if I wrote under my own name and called the blog after myself I would then be eponymous.  So as not to be synonymous, for who would want that?, I may start calling myself Hieronymous and just be done with it…

I’ll be back later, when the combination of neurofen to kill the pain from an unpleasant abscess (no dentists ‘abite’ over bank holiday near me) and Rioja has done the business,  with a post and maybe even a cartoon….

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Fortunately, the debate on the release of Al-Megrahi has been thoughtful, incisive and fascinating – whatever view you take on the decision by the Scottish Justice Minister to release Al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds. I have learned a great deal from the debate.  Inspired by Carl Gardner’s measured post (which I still agree with) I wrote what I hope was a measured piece, acknowledging my lack of knowledge of the Scottish Judicial process.  Since writing that blog post  I have had the pleasure of exchanging views with the author of LoveandGarbage, Advoc_8 (see the comments section in my original blog post) – Scottish lawyers –  and I have read the incisive views of Jonathan Mitchell QC, Professor Hector MacQueen and many others who commented on blog posts.

I came across this statement by Allymax on Ian Hamilton QC’s blog – make of it what you will. It is in the comments section and you will need to scroll down in the comments to find it.

See also – an astonishing situation where one of our leading QCs seems to have got it very wrong – Geoffrey Roberston QC is brought to account by Loveandgarbage and others – click here

OK… I do the occasional parody – but usually because I wish to express a view in a different way….. Do have a look at Allymax – the statement has been sent to every MSP!

Oh… and in case Allymax or others raise the matter… I am proud to be a Scot – I just happen to like people from all parts of the United Kingdom….and from ….many other parts of the world!  It comes with a forward looking view and a degree of optimism 🙂

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And so I woke this morning, the eve of the last Bank holiday until Christmas, and said… “Today I feel naval.  I shall go to the historic dockyard at Chatham and see a submarine.” And I made it so… as Captain Picard of another type of ship used to say… endlessly on Star Trek. At eight bells…armed with my Samsung Jet phone and a camera that works first time, I made sail for Chatham.

“Chatham Dockyard, located on the River Medway and of which two-thirds is in Gillingham and one third in Chatham, Kent,  came into existence at the time when, following the Reformation, relations with the Catholic countries of Europe had worsened, leading to a requirement for additional defences. For 414 years Chatham Dockyard provided over 500 ships for the Royal Navy.” Wikipedia

Among many other vessels built in this Dockyard and which still exist are HMS Victory, launched in 1765 – now preserved at Portsmouth Naval Base

William Camden (1551-1623) described Chatham dockyard as

stored for the finest fleet the sun ever beheld, and ready at a minute’s warning, built lately by our most gracious sovereign Elizabeth at great expense for the security of her subjects and the terror of her enemies, with a fort on the shore for its defence

I am pictured above on the open bridge of HMS Cavalier, in a rather epic rainstorm which gave added atmosphere and a very mild taste of what the Captain and his officers would have experienced in storm lashed seas of the Arctic convoys.  (There was no canopy in WW II.)

I went with John Bolch of Family Lore, who lives near the docks… and who’s excellent book “Do your own Divorce” is published today. In fact, we started our trip with a tour around the spy submarine HMS Ocelot.  I resisted the temptation to buy a small scale model of HMS Victory, a pirate flag, a White Ensign and endless other gift items in the Museum shop.

A submarine is no place for members of the Fatbastard Club.  It is extremely cramped down below and those of a claustrophobic disposition would not enjoy it.  I particularly enjoyed lugging my 56 year old  old git frame through the tiny circular openings in the bulkeads to get from one section to the other. I did it in the naval manner; grabbing a rail, swinging legs through the circular hole, slide through and grap a rail above the hole on the other side – t’was fun! It was not quite Das Boot in terms of slickness but Hans, my mate –  the Kapitan of a U-Boat that still sails the high seas – would have been proud of me. ( He used to visit me occasionally when I lived on a boat in Chelsea last summer.) It was fascinating to see a British submarine from our fairly recent past. Everything was crammed in. The crew of 70 slept in very small cots, only washed hands face and cleaned teeth (water in short supply on a three month voyage) and were reputed to have the best food in the Royal Navy. The Captain’s cabin is very small.  Naturally, I enjoyed looking through the attack periscope which gave a chillingly clear picture of a ship moored nearby.  The young lad from France enjoyed looking through the periscope as well.  His mother looked a bit tense and asked if it was OK.  I did not want to mention Sir Winston Churchill ordering the sinking of the French  fleet during WWII,  assured her that it would be fine,  that I’d be having a go after him and may even make  the sound of a torpedo being fired.  She looked at me, smiled, shook her head as if to say “Mon dieu… Les Anglais” This seemed to settle her.

I found the trip fascinating.  The tour guide was excellent and I am pleased that money has been found to preserve these important warships from our past and that they are so accessible to all.  The entry fee of £14 for a trip around the dock lasts for a year… and in three hours you will only scratch the surface of what this wonderful dockyard has to offer.

It was time to move to HMS Cavalier – the last surviving destroyer from WWII.  HMS Belfast, a battleship, is very much bigger and is based on the Thames in London. This was a very different kettle of fish.  It seemed so spacious after the submarine.  The Captain’s cabin was luxurious, as was his day cabin and the wardroom even had a fireplace.  It is painted in ‘Arctic Blue’ a blue-green-grey mix – no doubt to confuse the Turpitz or Scharnhorst or U-Boat commanders on the Arctic convoys.

I felt like Jack Hawkins in The Cruel Sea as I stood on the bridge.  A storm had risen quickly, as it can in these parts, and rain and wind lashed the open bridge as I gazed out over the two 4.5 inch guns to the bow and imagined myself scanning the seas for U-boats.  I felt quite at home.  Regular readers will know that I  live near water and spend much of my time, at my post, preserving peace for our country by scanning for U-Boats.  It is testament to my efforts that there have been no U-boat attacks in London since I started doing this!

I felt like a tourist – on his hols.  As I stood on the bridge of HMS Cavalier… I noticed the voice pipe through which the Captain would communicate with those below and thought to myself… that worked…. my Samsung Jet took me endless hours of farting about to get it to work (or, more accurately… to understand how it works) , more hours trying to get it to download pics to my PC (the software did not work) and eventually I fooled it into thinking it was using Bluetooth by hitting it with a hammer. Sorted.

I’m orf to splice the mainbrace, eat a square meal, drink a bit of rum and I may even do a hornpipe or buy a pirate flag on ebay later.  As Churchill once observed… the Royal Navy… rum, sodomy and the lash…. I am a bit busy to try the last two options. Have a good Bank holiday.

Sorry… didn’t manage to shoehorn any law in this week… perhaps something for the weekend? .. as barbers used to say after cutting one’s hair.

Best, as ever


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Insite Law Equity & Trusts FREE online resource

Insite Law Equity & Trusts FREE online resource Dr John Birchall has started to publish his Equity & Trusts free resources. Chapter 1 is up.

Have a look?

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Slayer of prawns…and other matters…

I am Charon… Slayer of prawns! It is my duty… they cause global warming and I eat a great many in my quest for Greendom to rid the waters of Britain and elsewhere of prawns. Well… I had little sleep last night and after my experiences earlier with a Samsung Jet mobile phone, I believe I may be hallucinating.  Pictured left is a gift from a good friend @jaffne, a woman of many artistic talents including making things from paper.  As you can see my prawn has a red flag.  The red flag features in my life – I do vote labour, I am of a mildly anarchic persuasion when the mood suits and I often wave a red flag at myself in my mind when I think I may be overdoing it – rather difficult for a man whose mantra these days is… Absolutely Nothing in Moderation.

I am looking forward to receiving Prawn with red Flag  by Jaffne 2009 in the post soon!  I shall return the compliment with a bizarre cartoon…soon.

I went to London yesterday  to perform the duties of a relatively sane person and do three more podcasts for my series for The College of Law.  I interviewed three women – all fascinating, all a pleasure to interview.  I can’t reveal too much yet… but they were extremely interesting interviews to do . All will be revealed soon when the series ‘goes live’ in late September.

I left the College of Law in excellent spirits and made my way to Goodge Street to meet a good friend and talk of many things. Inevitably, a bottle of Rioja for me and Fosters beer for him.  There is no accounting for taste but he is from South Africa and I call him Johnny Biltong. We then decided it would be a plan to return to his apartment on the river at Battersea – nearly opposite the boat I lived on last Summer at Cheyne Walk on the Chelsea side of the river near Battersea Bridge.  I could see little point in adding to South Eastern Railways problems by being over refreshed on one of their trains late at night, so we decided to talk on into the night.  It was about 2.30 – 3.00  am  that I realised that I would be kipping on the floor.  To be fair, my friend did offer to let me have his bed and he would kip on the floor – but as I have slept on a japanese futon for twelve years, the floor was just not a problem. Unfortunately, I woke at 5.30 with the sun and was up, bright as a button, if perhaps, a little unsteady as I put my desert boots on.  My friend needs sleep… and he had just returned from South Africa the day before – so I made my way along the river path to Battersea bridge, crossed over and made my way to The Chelsea Bun to have breakfast.  Breakfast improved my steadiness and I made my way to Victoria Station for the train to East of London on the Medway.

I was having a cigarette outside Victoria Station, still dressed in the clothes I wore the day before – black jeans, combat boots and a grey polo shirt (simply because I had not planned on being kidnapped by  Johnny Biltong so hadn’t packed an overnight kitbag).

…. and then I heard the words “Hello… “

I turned… astonishingly… there smiling beside me,  was my first interviewee of the day before.  I can say this –  the lady occupies very high office, in the legal sphere,  and loves cricket.  She was a pleasure to talk with during the interview.  There was I, doing my best not to look like Oliver Reed after a long night, smoking a fag.  “Good morning …*X*…. what a small world.” was all I could muster,  before explaining that I had met a friend for drinks the night before and had missed my train.  She laughed… chatted for a few moments and went on her way to work!  You really could not make it up… I think I may have got away with it as the adrenalin kicked in.

I returned to the Medway towns where I am living for the present – overlooking water with views of Upnor Castle, naval dockyards, gulls and cormorants.

Today was SAMSUNG JET day – Orange was sending me my new toy. It arrived at 11.00 ish.  I am reasonably competent with ‘techie things’.  I do all my own websites, graphics, can make films, edit them and do sound… but I am NOT a teenager. I don’t do text very often… I call people on a mobile… but I just had to have a smartphone… or what Samsung say, theirs not being a ‘smart phone’ but ‘Smarter than Smart’.

I don’t like instruction manuals.  I am a bloke.  I believe I can operate any bit of kit through farting around with it. The Samsung Jet defeated me.  The instruction manual may as well be written in hieroglyphics…. it made no sense and didn’t seem to cover any of the things (in a sane manner)  I was interested in…. like: setting up email without having a stroke, going onto the internet without having a heart attack, downloading a java twitter client without wanting to be waterboarded just to calm me down.

I struggled, I’m afraid… in fact…. I couldn’t even find instructions on how the bloody rotating cube gimmick navigation aid worked.  I was convincing myself that Orange wanted to give me a bad day and  had disabled the navigation rotating cube  (the BIG idea for Samsung Jet) just for ME…. frustration mounted…. I tried to set the phone to my wi-fi.  That took me fifteen minutes.  My remaining life may well be short… I could feel my will to live draining away…. and then I saw this in the instruction manual on page 61… and I am not making it up… I’d like to have been able to give you a picture I took of the page… but I can’t…because I obviously need to go on a COURSE and learn how to use this bloody phone to transfer pics by BLUETOOTH …. so  I am using my fingers to type out the details  from the “INSTRUCTION” manual…


You can simulate fake incoming calls when you want to get out of meetings or unwanted conversations. You can also make it appear as if you are talking on the phone by playing back a recorded voice”

There follows a whole pile of gobbledygook to tell me how to fake an orgasm… Settings —> Application —–>Fuckpiggery —-> Fake call —–> Fake call voice.
So… tomorrow, I shall be recording a fake recording using one of my fake voices (I dare not ask anyone I know in case they think I have really lost the plot) … so that I can sit in meetings and pretend I am being called by Gordon Brown or my psychiatrist…and have to leave immediately.
I haven’t done it yet… but I felt like running onto my balcony and throwing this idiotic device into the river…

So if you get a call from a Mr Fish…. he will be the best informed fish in Britain…  because he will have worked out how the Samsung Jet works without an instruction manual …he will have connected to the net to read BBC news..he will be sending emails to his friends, downloading movies, bluetoothing pictures of himself on a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and….  he may even end up tweeting using my Tiny Twitter account (which I did manage to get to work)…. You won’t be called by a Mr PRAWN …because I have just eaten him… with chilli and garlic.

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The BBC reports…solemnly… tonight….

1,000 cameras ‘solve one crime’

Only one crime was solved by each 1,000 CCTV cameras in London last year, a report into the city’s surveillance network has claimed. The internal police report found the million-plus cameras in London rarely help catch criminals. In one month CCTV helped capture just eight out of 269 suspected robbers. David Davis MP, the former shadow home secretary, said: “It should provoke a long overdue rethink on where the crime prevention budget is being spent.”

He added: “CCTV leads to massive expense and minimum effectiveness.

“It creates a huge intrusion on privacy, yet provides little or no improvement in security.

This is beyond parody… this is idiocy – I would find it funny … if it wasn’t quite so serious.  All those bun eating slackers sitting in warm booths watching us and only 1 crime solved per thousand cameras?  LUDICROUS!

I am grateful to fellow tweeter @MrsPBoutique for drawing my attention to this BBC story,

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