Archive for December 27th, 2009

On the 70th Day of Christmas…

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F**kART: The Complete Series… possibly

“Evil Dave” came from a well known web pic of David Cameron. Using my new *Painting by Numbers* technique; reducing tone and shape to essential colour blocks – I can knock these out quickly enough to stop me getting bored.  When I was in my early twenties one of my nicknames was ‘Risotto’ – ready in 20 minutes.  I tend to favour paintings or drawings which can be done quickly.  I blame all forms of government, modern technology and an inbuilt, but very British, tendency for shallowness and ephemera!

The split down the middle reflects my view that Cameron is, actually, a rather nice chap and  a true liberal;  but has to play Tory and do the business because he just happens to be our prime minister and leading a party, whose members, some of them, judging by their comments on blogs and other media, are orf the bleeding wall when it comes to humanity and caring for the interests of the wider community.   The title of the piece is a deliberate falsehood; consistent with the times we live in of smears, obfuscation, smuggery, Toby Youngery, venality, brutal self interest and crassness! (Just to get a few thoughts orf my chest)  – I don’t think Cameron is evil at all. In fact… I’d be quite happy to vote for him if he defected to Labour!

Having a glass or two and doing a bit on nonsense art (mixed media these days!)  keeps me amused.  I could be out raping the people of Britain by working in an investment bank or making things using child or foreign ‘slave’ labour and hedging my earnings offshore.  I’d rather earn a lot less and enjoy Britain.

This is LEG! – At the moment it is now in poster paint format and about 24 inches high….. BUT….  I am planning to turn it into a painting 6ft x 4ft.  This, I can tell you, is not going to be easy.  It is a friend’s leg, obviously – it is not easy painting one’s own leg… not even Picasso did it…nor Monet, Manet, Turner, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Mondrian, Constable, Leonardo Da Vinci Code, Damien, Nick Leg…. none of them…. not one great artist has ever painted their own leg…. I am not a great artist, ipso facto… I paint other people’s legs…. or only one of them… in these days of CUTS… BIG SOCIETY… *We are all innit to win it*… sorry…. *We are all in it together*….  That is all.

Coming soon…..

OK… as @infobunny tweeted it – it is her leg!  I am always discreet….. and did not wish to reveal the owner of the LEG!



A study in ‘Real Politik’ (2010)
Painting by Numbers in Acrylics on canvas board from a photograph

Charon demonstrates here a technique not often used by artists these days. In the good old days the artist would have hidden himself in a darkened room and used a Camera ObscuraCharon did not wish to paint while hanging upside down like Holbein , so used 21st century techniques to roughly the same effect…except he made it even simpler for himself.  Here,  he takes a photograph from the website of a popular politician, faffs about in Photoshop to make it easier to paint later, and then, using a restricted colour palette and a ‘painting by numbers’ technique, produces a graphic image of a popular politician in the prime of his decline.  It was then a relatively simple matter to stick a speech bubble on with glue.    It may be that this ‘work’ will attract international interest and will be priced accordingly when Charon returns from the bar in Chelsea where has now gone to reflect upon the meaning of art, life and the text he had from a well known footballer who sent him a picture of his penis.

I was a bit irritated this morning after phoning five accounts departments to see why they hadn’t dealt with my invoices as requested.  Two didn’t even have the invoice.  One said that the department had my invoice but had forgotten to deal with it and two of the departments were in India.  Dealing with accounts departments in India – outsourcing they call it – is wonderful for the organisation’s cashflow.  For the supplier who expects to be paid it is sheer hell dealing with them.  I gave up and reached into my fruit bowl for a banana.

It was at this point, as I peeled the banana, that I thought to myself…“If this banana could speak… what would it have said to the accounts departments?”  It was but a short leap to get my clay and paints out and make a talking banana.

What would the talking banana have said?   I can tell you… it would have said this….

“Get your farkin ass in gear and pay the man…. or the other bananas get it….Capische?!!”

Regular readers will be familiar with the fact that I am a 30adayDan in Smokedo. I still continue to practise the arcane art of smoking while I do weights and press-ups et al.  Now, a recycled elephant is in on the action.  Discerning viewers will note the subtle touch of using a match with the tip painted red for a Marlboro.

To be honest… I was a bit bored this afternoon.  There is only so much writing about Tort a man can stand.

F**K Nose?
Green nose, and playing card cut into a ? mark shape.

I appear to be having a *Nose* period… and to complement my recent Who Nose?... here is another…. more subtle… a sense of scale being provided by a pint glass nicked from a pub, possibly, and a bottle of orange squash – empty.  The 1960s retro kitchen tiles provide an element of kitsch… but they aren’t mine… sadly.  The King of Clubs playing card (cut into the shape of a ? mark)  – from the 1960s –  was a deliberate choice… but I won’t say why.

I’d like to be able to say that amusement at recent Coalition government pronouncements on Justice  prompted the thought ‘Who knows?”and inspired the ‘piece’ … but that would just be silly… of course our new government knows what it is doing…..



In The Collection of Alyson Jackson of Mish-Mash

Coathanger Lawyers, Biro on paper

Thinking of making life size Torso and head of a barrister out of wire coathangers.  I have quite a few wire coathangers.

It may be that I have lost the plot… but if there is one there… why not go and lose it?  Made a change from painting. Took a bit longer too. I’ve now got superglue and clay stuck all over my hands… and, a bit of blue and orange paint.  Classy!


It might help to explain that I enjoy science programmes where people dig up a skeleton from 2000 years ago, wear weird coloured pullovers  and make the skull look like Nick Clegg with clay… they use a lot of matchsticks when they do these *reconstructions*.

I would also like to put in a word for my *Green* credentials:  I wore those black reading  glasses for four years.  I stood on them when I was a bit over refreshed a couple of weeks ago.  I am pleased to recycle.  That is all.

Acrylic and white pen on board

Inspired by a science programme on BBC2 last night about who we are and  a section on neurons, I decided that I should do a painting of my own brain.  Inevitably, this did not take long.

The red wine flooding through my brain is picked up subtly with a lot of red paint.  The Mad Hatter Tea Party an entirely appropriate metaphor for part of my life

A larger version may be viewed here.

Other paintings in my F**kART series may be viewed here

PS… I am calling my neurons neurones…. OK with that?





Lapin! (2010)
Acrylics on canvas board


Lapin is a friend – a surrealist, photographer and voracious reader of books. I thought the PopArt style was about right and based it on a pic she took of herself recently.




Coalition! (2010)
22 x 18 Acrylics on canvas board

Cameron is portrayed as Captain America pastiche and the deputy prime minister, Clegg, as a spiderman type giving the bird with both fingers.  This is perhaps ‘inelegant’ – but some of his voters think he did by getting into bed with Dave.

Available for sale by arrangement!

Proceeds if sold go to fund the Free resources for students on Insite Law – although I may also buy a bottle of vino for myself to fuel the next painting! New politics – new transparency)

Charon Self Portrait (In Three Colours) 2010
Acrylics on canvas board
20 x 16

Charon, with new tache,  goes to a field in a yellow shirt and jeans on a sunny windy day in May and paints a glass of red wine.  That is all

Green! (2010)

Charon after a drink period
Spray can paint on board, matches, a cigarette and a box on board

On this day… when Britain had a change of  prime minister and government, I amused myself with creating a ‘painting’… well.. more of a collage.  It is, as with all my paintings, complete nonsense, but reflects attitudes to size and the importance and perception of size.  Is it a big box of fags (cigarettes.. not some unusual creature at Eton)  or a very small box of matches? Well… a bit like the Lib-Dems, sometimes… size really does not matter.


Nokiaman won the election

The final pic in the election series. I do drafts first on paper before painting sometimes.  Here is a draft… not painted yet… may never be.  There are two others – painted in acrylics and spray can paint!  Obviously – all three are modelled on artwork done by the real artists who create these wonderful superhero characters.  Mine are poor imitations – but kept me amused over the weekend.  Nokiaman… just had to be red.


CaptainCamCan: A study in working with fiends (sic)



Cleggoman:  A Study in Blue & Yellow



Pencil on paper

As the Christmas season began in early December, and work trailed off in terms of new work from clients etc, I decided to amuse myself  by doing some painting.  The F**kART series, a mildly surreal  ‘homage’ /  pastiche to / of  Britart ends on 31st December.  Here are all the paintings in the series in reverse order….. with the accompanying text.  I plan to stop the series on New Year’s Eve/early New Year … possibly and will add the new ones this coming week as I do them.

The Social Media Maven pronounces (2010)
Oil on Canvas

In the Collection of @ScottGreenfield

And it came to pass, when the Maven came down from the mount with the two tables of twitter rules  in Maven’s hand, when he came down from the mount, that Maven wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. And when @stephenfry and all the children of twitter saw the Maven, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

And the Maven said… I have been a stranger in a strange land…. and I say unto you…whatever you tweet…happens…


Will he ring? (2010)
Oil on Canvas

In the Collection of @abeautifulmind1

I don’t read comics now (I did as a child) but I am a fan of the art and, of course, a great artist: Roy Lichtenstein. I claim absolutely no credit for this other than a few brush strokes but I wanted one painting in this style for the pack!

Green Dancer
Oil on Canvas

In the Collection of @Little_Lawyer

“Charon does like to take a knife to a painting….”

Butchery Today


Let There Be Greed (2009)
Oil on Canvas

In the Collection of @MarkHendy

001:001 In the beginning God created bankers and the earth.

001:002 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was
upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon
the face of Canary Wharf.

001:003 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

001:004 And the Bankers saw the greed, that it was good: and they divided the
good from the overdrawn.

In the beginning: A history of British Banking

A larger version of the painting may be viewed here

I’ll Passmore on this (2009)
Oil on Canvas

In the Collection of @alison99

Geometry was a bit of a mystery to the young Charon – but over time, and through necessity, he came to understand the principles. Now geometry fascinates Charon more in the shape than the practical application and for the possibilities of optical illusion. If one looks at the two circles in the middle of the painting; soon one sees a cylinder, for the brain fills in the lines to connect the circles…and then the cylinders appear to change direction. I put this to Charon. He told me: “See what you like, mate…. When I look into the circle at the bottom left, I am looking down into a wine bottle and it has wine in it… this is good. When I look at the circle on the right, I am looking down into the bottle and there is no wine in it and I can even see the bar code. This is not good. When I look at the circle top right… it is the morning after and things, sometimes, are a bit bright. I have no idea who did the circles and geometry in the middle… it is possible that I may have been burgled during the night.”

Geometry Today, BBC Radio 4

A larger version of the painting may be viewed here

Other paintings in the F**KART series may be viewed here.


“We know….about Quantum Physics”
Oil and Spray can paint on canvas

In the Collection of @Oedipus_Lex

Some time ago, I had a most enjoyable – but very bizarre – evening in Battersea with Johnny Biltong, Tonto Popadopolous and George.  @Oedipus_Lex, a friend met through Twitter and, it is fair to say, a man who knows how to enjoy good red wine…and liberate it…  joined us.  It was one of those nights… in fact , almost an allnighter, where the conversation turned…. suddenly, to quantum physics and Black Holes – possibly because I had encouraged George to change the subject which he had been extemporising on, randomly,  for some time.

The use of Orange in the lower left section symbolises Swine flu and other viruses… yeah right!  I got luck with a spray can.


I decided that I wanted to mark this remarkable evening with a painting about quantum physics – which somehow, ‘captured’ the insanity of a rather loud and amusing evening.  It is also, I suppose, a small poke at ‘Abstractionism’.

A larger version of the ‘work’ is here


Red Dancing
Oil on Canvas

In the Collection of Amy

“Charon rarely draws or paints figures – largely because they are a bit more difficult than sticking fake jewellery on badly drawn sharks…but he has made an exception with this dancer based on a fashion designer style. Charon was having lunch, as he does most Sundays, at a local pub the weekend before Christmas. The team at the pub are great – they ensure that Charon can have roast chicken each Sunday even when it is not on the official ‘menu’.  One of the waitresses, Amy, who is doing Chemistry at university (Charon did Geophysics and Geochemistry for one short year many years ago) asked him what he was doing for Christmas.  ‘Drinking and painting’ was Charon’s reply.  When it became clear that Charon was not planning some orgy of DIY decorating and wallpapering over the festive season, Amy asked if Charon could do a painting for her.  While Charon was enthusiastic  about the possibility of painting a roast chicken he did feel that Amy might not be so enthusiastic about such a subject…. a  RED dancer seemed an appropriate theme!”

Sunday Lunch Magazine

A larger version of the painting is here


Christmas ‘09 (2009)
Oil on Canvas

In the Collection of Gerry Wateridge

“Charon spent Christmas drinking Italian reds, listening to Verdi and Puccini, and amusing himself on Twitter and Skype video. He had, he told me, been dreaming of a White Christmas but it was not to be. He couldn’t explain why he painted himself, based on a well known painting by Picasso, dressed in blue underpants and a vest – because he doesn’t have any blue underpants or vests.  He does, however, have red wine, rather a lot of it, and red and green feature strongly in his main ’studio’. I noted the use of a knife in covering a fair part of this canvas with paint.  Charon told me that he liked to use knives while painting… they did the business.”

In Conversation with Charon, Tuscan Wine Quarterly

A larger version of this painting may be viewed here


You’ll believe a man can fly – Riojaman! (2009)

Oil on Canvas

In the Collection of @Colmmu

“In this latest Marvel inspired piece from Charon’s ‘Superhero Period’ Charon achieves his ultimate ambition – transmogrification into a bottle of Rioja and superhero to boot.  The detail in building a cork into the headgear of the figure can only be marvelled at… not in terms of the brushwork or skill, for there is little of the latter in evidence – but marvel in the sense of….at what goes on inside Charon’s head.

Much of this painting was, in fact, painted while flying on a rather good bottle of … you guessed it… RIOJA…available at Oddbins and all good wine merchants £9.99″

Topers Monthly

A larger version of the painting may be viewed here


A larger version of the original painting may be viewed here

In the Collection of Geeklawyer (The painting…that is)


Barristerman! (2009)
Oil on Canvas

Charon read too many Marvel comics when he was a kid…and he likes Roy Lichtenstein….nuff said.

In the Collection of Diana

A larger version of the actual painting may be viewed here


Just when you thought it was safe to go back into an art gallery (2009)
Oil, Diamonds and Sapphires on Canvas

The original may be viewed here

“When Damien Hurst produced his diamond encrusted skull some time back, I remember getting a call from Charon.  It is fair to say that he was over refreshed at the time.  He asked if I had seen the seminal work by Hurst.  I told him that I had.  Charon said, enthusiasm clear in his voice:  “Fantastic nonsense.  I’m going to do a tribute.  I mean…how difficult can it be to stick a few diamonds onto a canvas and flog it? …..to some corporate and even add a bit of VAT to help the government?”

I heard no more of this ‘project’ until a few weeks ago when Charon appeared on the BBC Antiques Roadshow programme trying to get his ‘work’ valued for ‘insurance purposes’. Apparently this latest work’ is going to feature on one  or other, or possibly both of the daytime TV shows  Flog It and  Trash in the Attic fairly soon.  I am pleased to say, having spoken to Charon at a bar in Chelsea recently, that he has tired of sticking diamonds onto paintings which otherwise take him about ten minutes to do (excluding drying time, which he charges for by the hour), that he has moved on.”

James Scraatchi, Royalty & Hounds Review


Charon Cubist Sunday (2009)
Oil and bits on canvas
“Charon lives on the Medway.  From his balcony he can see yachts sailing by –  some with coloured sails.  Sundays are fairly lazy days for Charon – he eats a roast chicken every Sunday, cooked for him by a good chef at the local pub,  even when chicken is not on the menu.  When Charon is having a cubist Sunday it amuses him to be the only person in the pub restaurant eating roast chicken. He likes it when people at other tables say “That man over there is eating roast chicken.  It’s not even on the menu’. The Observer and Rioja feature every Sunday, ineluctably. The green post-it card is used by Charon to remind him to pick up ’supplies’ – cigarettes, Rioja, milk, general shopping and prawns. I asked Charon why there were fleur-de-lis on the blue panel top left.  He told me that he had a small  fleur-de-lis tattoo on his arse.  I made my excuses and left. I felt that I couldn’t intrude and ask him about the fish and the red and white tennis rackets.”

Chatham & Rochester ArtReview.

A larger version of the original painting may be viewed here.


Ben had been a bad boy in 2009 – so we had to extraordinarily rendite him
Oil on canvas (2009)

In the Collection of @mrcivlib

A larger version may be viewed here

The Snowman is well known, so I just could not resist a slightly twisted take on it.  Delighted that M CivLib was interested in taking this piece.

A friend of mine asked if I had a particularly difficult childhood.  I didn’t.  I had a good one, fortunately.  I may, however, have overdone the juice when I came up with this idea.


“Continuing his theme, and because he is a bit bored, Charondigliani was taken by the first snow of Winter today. He was also traumatised by Snow White and the Seven Investment Bankers many years ago as a ‘difficult’ child. .  Charondigliani’s use of his drug of choice – Rioja – was clearly an inspiration behind this ‘work’.  No automobile spraycan paint was used in this – but Charondigliani did use some chalk to create that subtle translucence so necessary to suggest a degree of bollocks in modern painting. Cokehead, Charondigliani’s parrot was also most taken with this painting. When it was first exhibited,  a Police Community Support Officer arrested Charondigliani under the Terrorism Act for being in possession of a ‘Class A’ painting. Fortunately, a senior Metropolitan Police Officer friend of Charondigliani was able to tell the PCSO to stop being stupid and go back to eating buns on street corners with his PCSO mates.”Police Community Support Officer Review

Snow White Snorting Coke
Oil and Chalk on Canvas (2009)


In the Collection of Geeklawyer

A larger version of the painting may be viewed here.


Charon’s series of Christmas Paintings start with a ‘homage’ to a favoured artist – Dali. The next Christmas painting will be ‘Snow White Snorts Snow’ in the style of Charondigliani.The Cross after Dali (2009)
Oil on Canvas

A larger version of the painting may be viewed here

In the Collection of @Jaffne


The Fuckpig
Oil on Canvas 2009
In The Collection of Paul West

“Charon clearly has way too much time on his hands during this pre-Christmas period.  This is largely because no-one wants to do any business with him because his clients are all attending Christmas parties or farting around on Twitter. This was fine with Charon because it allowed him to continue his ‘homage’ to BritArt.  In this very simple minded allegory, Charon nuances the subtlety of those least revered in our society at present – and who may not be with us for much longer: The Bankers.

Charon was amused by a cartoon he saw on the web – unfortunately the cartoon was too small to reveal the cartoonists name – but he has been able to capture the essence of the ‘genre’ here.  Charon is quite clear in his resolve that the painting bears no resemblance whatsoever to any person living or dead, whether to be found at Canary Wharf or, indeed, any bank in the British Isles.”

National Banker Magazine


Charonasso continues his ‘homage’ to F**kART with this latest  peice from his ‘Blue and Orange  pissed period’ – a self portrait with red wine glass.  As usual the artist has used automobile spray can paint to lay down a neo-ironic foundation and then, and this is clear from the brushwork, as the Rioja takes hold, paint is used with fervour, boldness and a lack of skill which brings to this work a degree of almost bucolic naivety.  The artist does know how to draw and is aware that eyes don’t in life appear as they are represented.  Scholars now believe that Charonasso was trying to signal to  other Masons that he wasn’t just ‘a’ Mason, but that he was two Masons in the one body. The painting is signed.Self portrait but was a bit pissed (2009)
14 December 2009

(A larger image is available here)

In the Collection of @bureauista


The picture above shows Fuckerflies – the first painting in the series and Erudite Elephants II

In his guise as a modern artiste Charondrian,  in his latest nonsense, reflects on the political creation of modern Africa as seen through the eyes of an erudite elephant.

“The white ‘Mondrian’ lines represent the linear boundaries between many countries in Africa.  The colours reflect the colours used in many african  flags today and the black handprint (Charondrians’s own) a metaphor for landgrab from both whites and blacks. The Elephant, as a species, will probably live on Earth forever. The spots suggest conflicts and trouble spots – but also hint that the fumes from the vandalpaint spray cans favoured by the ‘artist’ may have been getting the better of Charondrian.”
Loft Laggers Monthly Art Review

Erudite Elephant II – The Politics of Modern Africa

Oil and spray paint on Canvas 2009
(In the Collection of Natasha Phillips)

A larger version may be viewed here


Talking of dubious artwork….. I have completed another ‘painting’ in my ‘F**kART – a homage to BritArt’ series.  It is a portrait of Cokehead, my old parrot from a West London Man episode (Now in the collection of @jaffne) (You may view a larger version here)

Cokehead was a most enjoyable parrot – he enjoyed his life.
The remaining paintings are in the spirit of F**kART and include Erudite Elehpants 1 and, of course the three in the Fuckerflies series…

Following on from my ‘Fuckerflies’ series, as Christmas approaches and no-one can be bothered to answer their phones or are ‘ in a meeting’ (and it can only get worse as the Christmas party season gets under way), I am occupying part of my time each day by painting.  Charonaletto has many spray cans and enough paint and canvas to flood the art market with tat.  There is only one flaw to this ‘plan’.  I give the paintings away… but I do offer the recipients an option where I throw the painting away for them and save them the trouble.

‘Erudite Elephant 1′ (2009)
Oil on Canvas

In the Collection of @infobunny

The Elephant is at the start of a Nietzschean journey, which may turn out better than he thinks.  He first meets the Monkey – an avid reader of The Sun. The Monkey asks the Elephant what his thougt for the day is. The Elephant has two:  “The cautious seldom err’ and “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop’. (Confucius). The Elephant, being a pedant and a grammar nazi, corrects the Monkey’s English… and so the journey begins.

A larger version of the picture is here


While I can paint, after a fashion, I was told many years ago, by my Warden (They called the Headmaster a Warden) at the detention centre in Scotland where I was consigned on the Perthshire Archipelago,   that there was no money in art. He was wrong about that.  Damien Hirst has been taking the piss for years, relieving rich lawyers, bankers and magnates, industrial and advertising, of their money… in substantial amounts… and good on him!

As a ‘homage’ to BritArt and inspired by @infobunny and her recent paintings, I decided to amuse myself last night and late this afternoon. The works reveal absolutely no subtlety of colour, tone, design or, indeed, talent.  This is as it should be in ‘The FuckArt’ School’ which I founded late last night after dipping into a second bottle of the Bourbon King’s finest Rioja.  Typical of the Fuckart school is the use of spray paint used for repairing scratches on motorcars.  Charonaletto is the leading proponent of the ‘let’s get completely pissed and paint’ technique and he told the director of a Gallery in Chelsea (who has expressed interest in these two seminal works) “Vandals and Goths brought Rome down.  I’d like to have a crack at a bit of that as well and spray cans of paint as a base seemed an appropriate metaphor.”

There are two works in the ‘Fuckerflies” series

Fuckerflies I (2009) Acrylic and car paint on board: Charonaletto 1 December 2009
In the Collection of @infobunny (Click here for an enlarged view)

Fuckerflies II – ‘Dogging‘ (2009) Acrylic and car paint on board: Charonaletto 2 December 2009
In the Collection of @Sianz (Click here for an enlarged view)

The Final painting in the Fuckerflies series

Fuckerflies III – ‘You do not mess with these guys‘ (2009) Acrylic and car paint on board: Charonaletto 3 December 2009
In the collection of @colinsamuels (Click here for an enlarged view)

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I’ll Passmore on this (2009)
Oil on Canvas

Geometry was a bit of a mystery to the young Charon – but over time, and through necessity,  he came to understand the principles.  Now geometry fascinates Charon more in the shape than the practical application and for the possibilities of optical illusion. If one looks at the two circles in the middle of the painting;  soon one sees a cylinder, for the brain fills in the lines to connect the circles…and then the cylinders appear to change direction.  I put this to Charon.  He told me:  “See what you like, mate…. When I look into the circle at the bottom left, I am looking down into a wine bottle and it has wine in it… this is good.  When I look at the circle on the right, I am looking down into the bottle and there is no wine in it and I can even see the bar code.  This is not good.  When I look at the circle top right… it is the morning after and things, sometimes, are a bit bright.  I have no idea who did the circles and geometry in the middle… it is possible that I may have been burgled during the night.”

Geometry Today, BBC Radio 4

A larger version of the painting may be viewed here

Other paintings in the F**KART series may be viewed here.

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Postcard from the Staterooms-on-Sea

Dear Reader,

Well… a most enjoyable Christmas Day and Boxing Day but now, mercifully, it is time to move on.  There was a very interesting article in the Observer this morning…

Call for universities to charge well-off students £30,000 a year

Former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee says poor have been subsidising the rich for too long

Having been in the private sector of legal education for 25 odd years, and recently an observer of developments, it is worth pointing out that  students are used to paying market-rates for legal education at the Legal Practice or Bar Vocational Course stage with fees for those courses coming in at between £8500-£14500. Danny Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, said the “poor have been subsidising the rich” for too many years.  He is, I’m afraid, whether the rich middle classes like it or not, correct. He makes the point that universities are strapped for cash at the moment, that well off parents have been been paying substantial fees for private education and primary and secondary level for their children but resent paying for the most sophisticated education of all – the university degree stage; the stage that determines, more of ten than not, the future career and success of the student.

It is astonishing that those from poorer backgrounds pay the same at ther university stage as those from richer backgrounds. It isn’t fair and Blanchflower makes some valuable points – most, I suspect, unpalatable to those from richer backgrounds.  Will a future Labour or Conservative government have the courage to drive through reform so that the real cost of high quality education is divided more equably?  I am not holding my breath on this.  If anything, it will be a very long and slow burn.

In legal education at the LPC and BVC stage the fees are the same for all students – but some institutions do provide fee reductions in the form of scholarships and bursaries which, of course, cost the institution very little in real terms once the break even has been reached.  Interestingly, few, if any, institutions provide cash grants to students – so the institutional generosity is, arguably, more window dressing than natural charity to help good students – from any background. The big law firms pay GDL and vocational course fees and subsistence for their students and there are some fairly hefty scholarships available through the Inns for the brightest students. Other students have to fund their own education.   There is (or was) a reasonable prospect that students taking on substantial loans to pay for the vocational stage of legal education would get a good job or career at the Bar and be able to pay the loans back over time.Very few LPC and BVC providers, I suspect, run their courses at a loss and if they do, they should close them if public money is being used to support these unprofitable courses and students should be re-directed to other public or private service providers.  It is madness, in this time of austerity and cut-backs for universities to prejudice their position and resourcing in profitable or break even courses by running loss makers.

Before we start the serious stuff… my Tweet of The Week goes to Steve Shark for this…

A man who has been described as Britain’s most prolific shoplifter was jailed for one day yesterday after committing his 321st offence.

I marvel sometimes at the sheer incompetence of some people.  Here is a story about Britain’s worst shoplifter. Hopeless. “David Archer, 54, from Rhyl, north Wales, has served the equivalent of two life sentences as a result of his addiction to petty crime. He has been unable to spend 14 out of the past 15 Christmases with his daughter because he has been behind bars. Yesterday, Archer admitted in court to stealing two bottles of whisky from a store at Abergele. David Mainstone, prosecuting, said Archer had a “quite horrendous” list of previous offences and 155 court appearances.” Observer

I can only assume that the man pictured left is American and some form of judicial intervention, other than prison, was handed down.  I can’t see this catching on in Britain – boozed up blokes dressing up in women’s underwear is a British hobby  at Christmas Parties every year and in Pantomime…. I am advised.

Another ludicrous example of political correctness?

I am grateful to Fark for reading the Daily Mail – to save me having to do so…

The Daily Mail reports:

British Transport Police have dropped the word ‘Christmas’ from a national publicity poster to avoid upsetting people who do not ‘buy into’ the festival. The word was proposed as part of a slogan on the poster, which is designed to alert people to the extra number of transport police on duty over the festive period.The slogan – devised by an advertising company commissioned by the Transport Police – read ‘Christmas presence’, a pun on the word ‘presents’.

But in a move branded ‘bonkers’ by Christian leaders, the police’s marketing department decided the word Christmas could anger non-believers or people from other faiths who disliked its Christian connotations.Instead of scrapping the poster, however, the department merely swapped ‘Christmas’ for ‘Holiday’, so the slogan now reads ‘Holiday presence’.
The whole thing is ludicrous given that the shops are stuffed to the gunnels with Christmas tat from October onwards and, in any event, atheists, people from other faiths are more than happy to give presents to each other on Christmas Day… This Happy Holidays nonsense ‘started in America’ and is now a global problem’. (Gordon Brown phoned to tell me this.) Christmas is whatever you make it.  Does anyone really get offended in this country by seeing the word ‘Christmas’ ?

I quite enjoy taking pictures from the Conservative Flickr photostream and putting apprpriate or inapprpriate captions to them… but with this marvellous photograph I will use their own caption…. it isn’t political… it sends out a good message about british spirit and resilience, rings true and I liked the pic.

And finally… Afghanistan and a fascinating website I came across through friends on Twitter… well worth bookmarking for now and the future….

The Helmand blog is run by Major Paul Smyth from the UK Forces Media Ops team. The team is located in Helmand at Camp Bastion and the Task Force Headquarters and works to support the coalition forces together with the other government departments such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development.

Fascinating stuff – and a very interesting blog.

If you do fancy giving a bit of supportplease do have a look at a fantastic idea from the Royal Air Force which I posted on my blog on Christmas Eve… it really is a great idea.

That’s it for today… off to do another ‘black painting’…. a bit of maths and geometry….

Best as lways,


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