Saturday, April 29, 2006

Living With War!

U.N. Agency Says Iran Falls Short on Nuclear Data Save

Published: April 29, 2006

VIENNA, April 28 — Iran has drastically curtailed cooperation with nuclear inspectors over the past month as it has sped forward with its nuclear enrichment, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday.

Read: "Origins of the Great War of 2007"

You want rice with that?

Tens of thousands of Chinese net users are calling for Google to rethink its Chinese identity.

It's less than two weeks since the company announced it would be known as "Guge", represented by the ideograms for valley and song, which, it said, conveyed "the sense of a fruitful and productive search experience".

However, already in trouble over bowing to censorship demands from Beijing, the search engine is now facing flack for choosing a name considered by many to be awkward, nonsensical or even rude.

In a poll conducted by, 85% were opposed to Guge.

Soso, the leader of an online campaign against it, said: "When I first heard the name Guge, I couldn't help laughing. It sounded like 'fool', 'funny' and 'fart'."

Soso is founder of, a site which allows superimposition of users' own names on Google branding.

In what seems to be a sideswipe at Google's submissive attitude to Beijing one of the most popular alternatives is "Good Gou", which translates as "Good Dog".

Defence Sec in Drugs Bust

Cannabis with a street value of approximately 85 pence has been discovered by police conducting a routine security sweep at the home of Defence Secretary John Reid.

A spokesman for the minister denied all knowledge of the drug or how it came to be there.

Strathclyde Police said the resin, weighing less than 1 gram was found in a guest room.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Article in London Daily

ALERT - "If you, or someone from your family, have any plan to visit the US in a near future, I strongly suggest you to continue reading this text, where I describe the experiences I had in LA International Airport, late Feb 24, 2002."

Read the story.

Quickies from up North

Tayside Police have lost a bag containing a "controlled substance" with a street value of about £500.

It was being used to train sniffer dogs.

Not very well "controlled", was it?

A PRISON escapee has told a court he went on the run in order to cure his drug habit.

Drugs in jail are apparently "too readily available".

The judge give him an extra 40 days.

POLICE in the Highlands are hunting a serial sheep killer

More than 50 animals have been murdered on the shores of Loch Eriboll.

Sgt Hamish Grace said the animals appeared to have been slain where they lay.

He added that the Northern Constabulary were following a "positive line of inquiry".

There is no evidence of a sexual motive.

COUNCILLOR Lorna Shiels wants to clean up Edinburghs's lap-dancing scene...

"So look, it's like this: I've got nothing against sex and we all need to make a living, right? But there has to be some rules, you know, for the voters?"

"Hmm. I'm listening."

"Yeah. Good. Here's the way it is. One: no private booths; everything has to be done in the open..."

"What, everything? Are you crazy?"

"Two: CCTV cameras everywhere."

"You're serious, aren't you? You really mean it..."

"Three: the girls don't dance within one metre of the punters and you don't employ anybody under 18."

"No way, Councillor. It ain't gonna work!"

"Oh come on, it'll be voluntary, of course..."

Mr Stringfellow, 65, who owns the "famous Stringfellows" bars in London, said:

"The last thing I need is a battle with the authorities. I will be keeping a close eye on how the situation develops."

He added:

"If the establishment insists on bringing in all these changes then I won't be coming."

Neither will we, Peter.

EDINBURGH'S Saughton jail is top of the hit list for drug busts.

More illegal substance seizures take place there than in any other Scottish prison.

Toddlers have been running cannabis, heroin and cocaine into jails north of the border for years.

And last week Glasgow Lawyer Angela Baillie was jailed for two years for smuggling drugs into Barlinnie.

Scottish Nationalist MSP Alex Neil said the situation was a "matter for concern".

"The number of people peddling drugs in prison is still far too high," he said.

Oh, come on.

Surely there's enough business for us all to make a decent living?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Wake Up!

The following comments were posted on the This is Nottingham website in response to
an article containing criticisms of Nottinghamshire Social Services

my sister and her fella use class a drugs,so i rang the social services.wen they went round,because it all luked ok they closed the case same day,they always say the same,no funds to check em all deanna, nottingham

Im 14 and ive been through hell because of my mum and her boyfriend. me and my dad have been to the social services and the police to try and sort it out, but they have always believed my mum when she said her and her boyfriend never hit me. i really need something sorted out about this, because they are getting away with mental and physical abuse to me. can someone please help?
natalie, nottingham

A wake

David Greig once heard a rumour that he had died.

The 83 year old ex-fusilier still considers himself super fit but recently has found himself attending a lot of funerals, claiming to have once been present at five in one day.

"I'm worried I'm going to be the last one to go," he said, "and when I pop off there will be no one there."

His solution to the worry is to hold his own wake - before he dies.

The big day is June 24 and more than 100 invitations have already been sent out.

David's wife, Elsie, died in 1977.

Source Article

They're coming to take her away...

Ex-cop, Stephany Cohen has been contacted by dead football star Emlyn Hughes, who, it seems, wants her to set up an urgent meeting with Liverpool FC manager Rafa Benitez.

She has e-mailed the club to let them know but so far they haven't responded (surprise, surprise).

Miss Cohen, a spiritual healer and professional fruitcake, was last in the news three years ago with claims that aliens were giving her orgasms.

She says: " My body is like a car and if I let another person (or alien?) control the car then they control the car and the spirit."

Uh, yeah.

While Miss Cohen still keeps in touch with her extraterrestrial lovers her present priority is to meet with Mr Benitez.

"Emlyn Hughes' spirit would take over my body and then anybody would be able to ask questions," she says.

But its all preparatory to the arrival of the aliens, who are apparently from Andromeda.

"At the moment we are trying to build up my energy to speak to them."

If all goes well with her "energy" she reckons humans could be conversing with aliens, or "Grays", later this year.

Stephany believes the Grays have been interested in her for many lifetimes, including when she was Joan of Arc.

Slow workers, huh?

Source Article

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Dionne Hendry and James Bain were not what you might call the perfect couple.

Jimmy, a heavy cocaine user with gangster fantasies and an ambition to become a drugs super-barron, was a man with a volatile temper which could explode at any time, and Dionne often took a beating.

Fellow residents at Gilmerton Dykes Avenue in Edinburgh called them “the neighbours from hell”, and their rows and screaming matches earned them an ASBO last year, banning them from creating disturbance in and around their home on the otherwise quiet, well kept street.

When, after his latest assault on her last Friday, Dionne complained to her family, a notorious crime clan feared within the Gilmerton community, she could never have imagined the horrifying series of events about to unfold.

Within hours one of her relatives would be brutally slain in an Edinburgh pub, another would be critically ill in hospital and Jimmy Bain would be so badly beaten in a revenge attack that he may have suffered irreversible brain damage.

Former Scottish bantamweight boxing champion Alex Mckinnon, an organised criminal and drug dealer, was furious when his wife told him about Dionne’s latest ordeal at her boyfriend’s hands.

He and his brother in law, James Hendry, decided enough was enough and immediately headed to the couple’s home to give Bain a good dose of his own medicine, Hendry style: a lesson he would never forget.

However, Jimmy, knowing he was in trouble with the family, had gone underground so they paid his father a visit and made it plain that his son was due for some extreme grief.

When word reached Bain, already swirling in a nightmarish vertigo of drug-fuelled paranoia, he decided that pre-emptive action against his hunters was the only option open to him.

With two quick phone calls he arranged to “hire” a 12 bore shotgun and, after drinking a bottle of vodka and snorting the best part of a gram of coke, he and an accomplice, dressed in balaclavas and hoodies, headed for the Marmion pub in Captain’s Road, a regular Saturday night hang-out of the Hendry mob.

In the pub the two men coolly strode over to their targets, the way Jimmy had seen it happen in gangster movies.

Bain pulled down his balaclava, levelled the shotgun at Mckinnon’s head and loosed off both barrels.

But the drugged-up pair had made no plans for a getaway and Bain was soon being pursued on foot by the other Hendrys and their friends.

In a panic he decided to make for home; but his furious pursuers had predicted this move and were waiting there for him when he arrived.

They unleashed their full fury and smashed his head and face to a bloody mush, leaving him battered and unconscious in a garden, where he was found by police three hours later.

He is presently in a critical but stable condition at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and will face a murder charge, if he recovers.

His accomplice, Ricky Cosgrove, has disappeared and is rumoured to have committed suicide.

Detectives expect further violence.

Read Article

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

London Trawling...

An elderly man was treated for burns and smoke inhalation at St Gearge’s hospital in Tooting after setting fire to himself whilst refilling a petrol-fuelled lighter.

He had apparently been smoking.

Fire Crew Manager Quentin Day said the incident was rare and warned:

“Smoking a cigarette while refuelling a petrol lighter is not a sensible thing to do.”

Words of wisdom.

Wimbledon News

MICHAEL SPINK was so overcome by the birth of his baby daughter that he died nine times.

As the child was being delivered by emergency Caesarian section he collapsed.

“The doctor said ‘congratulations, you’ve got a baby girl’, but I didn’t feel anything. I was completely numb, breathless and coughing up blood”, he said.

Doctors discovered that he had contracted a virus, which had severely damaged the left side of his heart.

Wimbledon Guardian

SO SOLID CREW rapper “Megaman”, real name Dwayne Vincent is to face a third murder trial after a judge dismissed an Old Bailey jury.

He denies participation in the murder of Colin Scarlett, who was shot outside his home in Tooting in 2004.

It is alleged he urged Battersea man Carl Morgan to shoot the man by saying “burst him” before the fatal shots were fired.

In the first trial the jury had been unable to reach a verdict.

This time Judge Martin Stevens said he had to discharge the jury “in the interests of justice” because “material and fresh information” had come to light.

He told Mr Vincent: “I am deeply and personally sorry to have to deprive you of this trial.”

On hearing the news “Megaman” broke down in court and cried openly.

THE REMAINS of a Wood Green woman were discovered in her flat three years after her death, surrounded by un-opened Christmas gifts and with the heating and TV still on.

Her inquest at Hornsey Coroner’s court was attended by relatives.

Police said that she had probably died of natural causes and was only found when housing officials visited the flat because thousands of pounds of rent arrears had accumulated.

The Deputy Coroner recorded an open verdict.

ILFORD CID, unable to bring the perpetrators of a crime to justice, are appealing for the victim to come forward.

CCTV camera operatives witnessed the attack of a woman outside a bar in Ilford.

But when police arrived on the scene there was no sign of the victim.

Now they are trying to trace her as they are concerned that she may have suffered head injuries.

A CRIME BUSTING SPREE in Old Southall last week resulted in:

the issue of the first £80 fine for litter-bugging

the seizing of 3000 counterfeit Bollywood DVDs

26 untaxed cars reported to the DVLA

five abandoned cars removed

four illegally parked cars removed and impounded

an £80 fine issued for feeding pigeons

15 advertising boards confiscated from outside shops (because of no planning permission)

the removal of three tonnes of fly-tipped rubbish

a man arrested for hiding a knuckle-duster in his car bonnet, and another arrested for possession of drugs.

Susan Parsonage, Ealing Council’s head of “envirocrime” prevention, said:

“This was a huge success.”

Now we can all sleep safely.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Crisis? What Crisis?

It was my recent misfortune to have to spend some time in an NHS hospital.

The care I received was excellent and the treatment successful.

It was clear, however, that the staff running the ward were doing so under extreme pressure.

Agency workers with minimal training sometimes made up 80% of the staff quota, particularly at night.

Today, in the face of overwhelming evidence that the NHS is in serious trouble, Tony Blair and his government says that things are improving...

A POLL by the Royal College of Nursing of 660 nurses has found that 13000 NHS redundancies have been notified in the last 6 months.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt denies claims that the job losses are almost double the figure announced.

Almost 60% of those polled say that they don’t have enough staff to deliver the necessary standard of care.

But Ms Hewitt says that “so called job cuts” applied mainly to agency and temporary staff and are reducing a “very inefficient and wasteful form of spending”.

The NHS posted a deficit of £600m at the end of last month.

The RCN also questioned 260 senior nursing staff, two thirds of whom claim to be under pressure, with 40% saying they would leave their jobs if they could.

RCN general secretary Beverly Malone says that senior nurses are under resourced and under appreciated.

“They are working extremely hard in difficult circumstances, in a whirl of deficits and relentless reforms.”

Chief Nursing Officer Christine Beasley said: “ I would like to reassure them that the threat of redundancy will be contained to as few people as possible and in many cases changes will be achieved through cutting down on agency staff, freezing non-essential vacant posts and redeploying staff into other roles.”

YOUNG CANCER and leukaemia sufferers are frontline casualties of the cuts, as are the elderly and mental health patients.

In Taunton, Somerset, the local primary care trust has withdrawn funding promised to the cancer charity CLIC for a community nurse.

As a result, children with cancer and leukaemia are now forced to travel long distances for treatment.

And Avon and Wiltshire mental health trust has cut its number of beds to less than 40, meaning the frail and vulnerable now have to go further afield for treatment.

Close on 80 community beds in the Cotswolds have been closed to reduce deficits and a similar number have been lost in Felixstowe.

Due to ward closures in Skegness patients are having to travel 40 miles to Lincoln.

Minor injuries units up and down the country are being closed and those remaining are having their opening hours reduced.

Tory leader David Cameron told Adam Boulton on Sky News yesterday that the government had to realise the NHS was in crisis.

CHARGES of misconduct are proceeding against a senior house officer in Manchester.

The General Medical Council heard allegations that the doctor made no physical examination of a baby boy, who displayed “tell tale signs” of meningitis and later died of the disease.

Dr Kirsty Challen said says the family left the hospital before had time to “review” his condition.

The child and his mother waited at the hospital for seven hours it is alleged, but was only seen by the doctor once.

The consultation lasted only eight minutes.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Write about this...

“You know, I’m getting too old for this kind of life: the drug dealing and the stabbings, the slashings, the blindings and the knee-cappings. And I’m sick of getting mixed up with international gangsters, and hit contracts, murders, securi-wars, guns, Yardies and Essex-boy torturers, corrupt politics, crack-head hit men, knife-fights, terrorists… And I don’t want to go back to jail.”

“Sure. I can understand that, Paul. But, I mean, what else would you do? Sell insurance, maybe?”

“No. I’ve got it all worked out. I’m going to become a writer.”

“Hmm. A writer, eh. That’s sounds pretty good. But what are you going to write about?”

“Oh, you know, the drug dealing and the stabbings, the slashings, the blindings and the knee-cappings, the international gangsters, the hit contracts and the murders, the guns, Yardies and Essex-boy torturers and…”

At 16, Paul Ferris was a runner for Glasgow’s infamous Arthur Thompson firm, building a reputation for himself as a fearless thief.

He had a penchant for violence and a talent for emerging relatively unscathed.

In the 1980s, as Glasgow’s heroin market flourished, Ferris built his own firm and used legitimate business interests as a front for his drugs operation.

He was finally convicted of gun running in 1998.

He is now, four years after his release from prison, a best selling author, with his first book, The Ferris Conspiracy about to become a major feature film starring Robert Carlisle in the title role.

Next month he will appear at a literary event to be staged in Edinburgh as part of the Unesco Edinburgh World City of Literature festival.

Just 12 months ago there were underworld whispers that he was making a move on the Scottish Capital’s taxi scene.

Tory group leader Ian Whyte said: “I would hope that the council is satisfied that he is no longer involved in any criminal activities and really has gone clean.”


Just ask Tam “The Licencee” McGraw, or Wullie “Stripes” Mckinnon, or…

Bad Patriots: Roberta Woods

A 53 year old IT analyst and mother of two is to stand for the British National Party in up-coming local elections.

Former Tory voter and big Margaret Thatcher fan, Roberta Woods denies any suggestions that she is racist or has extreme views on immigration.

“I’m essentially a patriot,” she says, “but you are not allowed to be patriotic these days.”

Post Thatcher Miss Woods became disillusioned with the Conservative party, mainly due to its increasingly pro-European integration stance, and lent her support instead to UKIP and the Referendum Party.

Then, “I thought I should put my money where my mouth is and join the BNP.”

As you do.

Roberta wants to see Britain opt out of the EU. She also favours a return to capital punishment and advocates a tough immigration policy: “I’m not just talking about people from the third world but also Europe. There are too many eastern Europeans in this area at the moment."

The “area” to which she refers is Eltham, in south-east London; you may recall that a young black man called Steven Lawrence was brutally murdered here by white racists some years ago?

His killers have never been brought to justice.

Sadly Miss Woods’ views are increasingly prevalent in a large proportion of the electorate:

“The main parties always go against people’s wishes and I have had enough of it", is the sort of statement you hear a lot these days from ordinary voters frustrated by the current political climate.

We live in dangerous times.

Parallel lines

It was Queen Elizabeth’s birthday yesterday. I didn’t write much about it on the day and I’m not going to now. There’re just a couple of things, however, I’d like to get off my chest.

Did you know the Queen owns all the whales, dolphins, porpoises and sturgeons in the waters around the UK?

That she has sat for 139 official portraits, opened 15 bridges, launched 23 ships and sent her first e-mail in 1976?

And were you aware that buried somewhere on the moon is a microfilmed message from the Queen addressed to any alien life forms who might come across it?

When Dennis Gear, born on the same day as the illustrious lady, went into Borocourt asylum at 16, because he was “unruly”, they gave him a pair of wooden clogs, a tin plate, a mug and a spoon.

They didn’t have TV or radio, so in the evening he and the other inmates would play games.

“For supper we had cocoa and rock cake,” said Dennis. “In the afternoons we had a big dinner that was served through the hatch.”

Dennis ran away once but “a policeman caught me and brought me back.”

He was released from the hospital in 1984 having spent 40 years of his life there.

That’s all.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dennis Gear

On this day eighty years ago Dennis Gear was born prematurely at Dellwood Hospital in Reading.

On the same day, newly born Elizabeth York was visited by her uncle and aunt, the King and Queen of England.

Dennis spent the first days of his life in an incubator; history does not record who visited him.

In 1952 Elizabeth became the Queen of England.

By this time Dennis, who at 16 had been deemed “too much of a handful” for his mother, had already spent 10 years of his life in Peppard’s Borocourt mental hospital, an asylum for the criminally insane.

By today’s standards he had committed no great crime; they said he was a “naughty boy” and didn’t know what else to do with him. He was too young, at 16, to send to war.

After 42 years, in 1984 (perhaps significantly?), Dennis was released. He was 58 years old.

“I was pleased to get out of there,” he said, “but after so many years it was a big shock.”

Today he celebrated his birthday at the Phab Day Centre in Mount Pleasant, Reading, watching TV with his friends.

He enjoys John Wayne movies.

Happy Birthday, Liz!

Yippee. It's the Queen's birthday. She's 80 today.

God save the Queen.

What for?

A LONDON SUBURB is being terrorised by kiddie gangs, some of whose members are only ten years old.

Rocks have been thrown, windows smashed, pizza delivery men hijacked and shop staff attacked with knives and other weapons.

And, according to business proprietors along Old Church Road in Chingford, reports of the mayhem are being ignored by police.

Domino’s Pizza franchisee Anthony Tagliamonti said that one of his drivers had his pizza stolen by children armed with a knife and a claw hammer.

Another was stoned by around twenty five youths from the roof of an Iceland store while stuck at traffic lights.

Mr Tagliamonti is now having difficulties hiring delivery staff.

Rasel Khan, manager of Burger King, and staff at the KFC and the off-licence close to Domino’s also say they have been harassed and attacked.

“Every day they come in my restaurant and create problems,” said Mr Khan. “They try to break the glass in the front door and fight the staff. I’ve called the police so many times.”

Ian Duncan Smith, MP for the area and former leader of the Conservative Party, suggested the possibility of a racial element: 80% of Domino’s staff are Asian and a high number of ethnic minority staff are employed by the other businesses, while the gang members are all white.

Hey, smart thinking Mr Duncan Smith. Weren't you once a military man?

According to a police spokesman resources are allocated depending on where they are most needed and crime levels are higher in the south of the borough.

MEANWHILE south of the Thames, a mother, who is too frightened to be named, has accused police of ignoring the violent activities of a black gang known as T Block.

She said: “The police do not want to know,” adding that parents on the housing project, Thamesmead, may have to take matters into their own hands.

Her son, 17, has been robbed once at knifepoint and another time at the point of a gun.

His 18 year old friend was mugged for his mobile phone and cash and beaten by a gang of twenty youths.

Other incidents have included the beating of a 15 year old boy and the mugging of two 13 year old girls.

The woman, who has lived in Thamesmead all her life said: “We never had anything like this before. The more I speak to people, the more I find out what is happening. I was told the gang burst into one house in Thamesmead armed with chains and beat the son in front of his family.”

She added: “We have got to protect our kids. I am trying to get some residents’ meeting going. We are not prepared to have this gang run riot.”

Police at Bexley had no comment.

PUBS AND BARS in Warrington town centre are to ban hoodies, baseball caps and tracksuits on their premises after 8pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as part of a police-backed pub watch scheme.

The move follows similar measures adopted in shopping malls such as the Trafford Centre and Bluewater in Kent.

Hoodies are associated with street gang culture and many members of the public say they are intimidated by the presence of groups of youths dressed this way.

IN READINESS for the world cup, which begins in about five weeks time and will take place at venues throughout Germany, the Foreign Office has published an information pack of travel tips in which England fans are encouraged to learn German versions of their favourite football chants.

Hundreds of fans are expected to be in or around each stadium where England play.

Also launched by the F.O. is a credit card sized fold-out headed “Avoiding Penalties”, which offers translations for some useful phrases such as “Can I have a beer?”, “Can I have another beer?” and “May I pitch my tent in your back garden?”.

“HEY, HERE’S A GOOD IDEA. Let’s open a massage parlour in a middle class residential area of north London. Let’s call it Secret Knights Sauna and Massage and let’s have it open 24 hours at the weekend and between 5pm and 5am during the week. Shall we? C’mon let’s do it and see what happens.”

“You mean, sort of keep your enemies close type of thing?”

“No, I mean let’s move right into the middle of our customer base. Can’t fail, right?”

Unfortunately, though unsurprisingly, residents are worried that the new venture, which is at present a furniture shop in Ordnance Road, Enfield Lock, close to two primary schools, will lower the tone of the area.

The club’s owner’s insist that only massage will be for sale behind the closed doors (yeah, right!) but there is concern about what kind of people will be attracted to the premises (two headed people use these places, don’t they?).

An Ordnance Road resident said: “I am extremely frightened for the children and will be concerned for my own safety when it opens.

“I feel the area is likely to turn into a mini Soho, Seven Sisters or Finsbury Park. It will bring the peace of the area down and reduce the prices of our homes.”

But if Ordnance Road is such a great place to live why would you want to sell?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Enough with the cynicism already...

This post has a vague public service feel to it. I don’t know why, it just happened that way.

DEFENDING a 39 year old computer engineer charged with possessing child porn, a lawyer compared the offence to “trainspotting”.

Marc Dickson claimed his client had developed “a mechanism of storing information in file structure” because of his job, and that it had become habitual behaviour:

“It is almost akin to trainspotting,” he said.

Jan MacClory, Assistant Director of charity Children1st, condemned the comparison as “shocking, ridiculous and unforgivable”.

The defendant was jailed for two years and ordered to be placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

A REPORT published in the British Medical Journal last week concluded that Goths were more prone to pathological self-harming than other youth tribes.

The findings, however, were dismissed by Craig Steadman, one of a group of Goths interviewed by Sarah Robertson in Newcastle for the Sunday Sun newspaper.

Proudly displaying a badly scarred arm for the Sunday Sun photographer, Craig, 19, said:

“I put my hand through a glass window because I was p****d off and I’ve put cigarettes out on me because I like the pain.”

Thus far, though, he has drawn the line at suicide:

“I’ve never tried to take my own life.”

Not so a 16 year old fellow Goth who attempted suicide when he was 12 and who now routinely cuts himself “as a way of blocking out the pain”.

“I don’t think it’s fair to stigmatise people for the music they listen to or what they wear,” he said.

“You get some people with bandages on their wrists but they’re just attention seekers and they’d do it whether they were Goths or not. It’s not a requirement to hurt yourself to become a Goth.”

But it helps, huh?

HOW do you turn a paper clip into a hifi?

Easy. Darren Boyce has done just that in only two months.

Out with some friends for a drink one night, Gavin was challenged to follow the lead of an American who eventually traded a paper clip for a house.

Gavin set up a website for people to get involved and it saw 1500 hits in the first month.

The chain so far has been linked by a sandwich voucher, a bottle of wine and a bottle of aftershave, and Gavin has set himself a 12 month deadline to trade the paper clip up to property worth £1m.

Even if he doesn’t reach that he’s confident that “at the very least I could end up with a car to sell for the charity".

The organisation earmarked for the donation is Surrey-based children’s charity the Rainbow trust.

Visit to get involved.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I was talking to a stranger...

I’m talking to a stranger in a bar the other day (well, he’s talking to me and I’m nodding and shaking my head in what I hope are the appropriate places) and he starts to dis Scotland.

“You know, I’m a Scot,” I tell him.

His eyes narrow. “Oh yeah,” he says, blowing smoke all over my new wool suit. “Well you don’t look Scottish; more… Jewish.”

“So I’m a Scottish Jew,” I reply.

It’s true. I am a Scot, although I’ve lived in exile the best part of my life (and I do mean the best part), mostly in London.

And I do have a distant hint of Hebrew blood.

All of which is my way of introducing some posts about Scotland (and tobacco).

Can you smell the heather?

SMOKING was banned in public places in Scotland last month.

Yesterday an 85 year old Dundee man’s family blamed the ban for his death.

Jim Donachie goes to light up his customary cigar in his local bar and is told by the barman: “Sorry Jim, it’s the new law. You’ll have to smoke it outside.”

So, he’s walking to the exit and falls forward, striking his head on the bar counter. An ambulance is called and he’s taken to hospital. Sadly, he later dies.

Jim’s son, Stewart, is angry:

“If the ban hadn’t come in he would have still been here today.”

Perhaps, but for how long?

PRISON CELLS are exempt under the legislation because they are classified as “domestic spaces”.

Much to the displeasure of many prison officers, who are worried about the health risks incurred by entering the cells of prisoners who smoke.

They have been advised to ask inmates to extinguish their cigarettes and then to wait two or three minutes before entering.

However union leaders say each visit to a “smoking cell” should be entered in the accident book, and they have asked for tests to be carried out to determine how long toxins remain in an enclosed atmosphere after a cigarette is extinguished.

The Scottish Executive is aware also that Ministers could face damaging legal actions from non-smoking inmates forced to share cells with smokers.

How long, do you think, before the Executive is compelled to change the law?

A BARTENDER was punched in the face and had a glass smashed over his head at an Edinburgh pub as he attempted to enforce the ban.

“The guy was with a group who had been drinking for four or five hours,” said the victim. “He lit up so I asked him to go outside.

“He came up to the bar blowing smoke in my face and shouting ‘Who the f*** are you to tell me what to do? I can smoke where I f***ing like! He then punched me above my eye. I stumbled back and he threw a glass at me, which missed. He then threw another, which hit me on the back of the head.”

The assailant warned the barman not to take the matter any further, before drinking up and leaving the premises.

Lothian and Borders police are trying to identify the attacker from the pub’s CCTV footage.

Perhaps, as well as a smoking ban there should be some limit on how long drinkers are allowed to booze before being asked to curb their intake?

BOOTS say nicotine replacement products sales have doubled since the ban came into force, particularly in Glasgow, with figures for skin patches up 110% on last year.

Smokers can monitor their progress on the road to smoke-free lives using “smokerlysers”, which the company has installed in most of its major stores.

The tests may be free but the cost of patches and other products is exorbitant (I used them to kick the habit myself earlier in the year).

A survey by Boots indicated that smokers are willing to spend upwards of £100 to quit.

Everybody wins.

FINALLY… An Edinburgh Fringe venue manager has decided to rebel against the ban on smoking on stage, on the grounds that it “interferes with art”.

Appeals to the Scottish Executive from theatre producers were denied; it was suggested they use fake cigarettes with powder instead.
But many actors and producers have complained bitterly, insisting that they must be allowed to smoke “realistically” when their characters’ parts demand it.

Tomek Borkowky (a fine old Scottish name that), who runs the Hill Street Theatre at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and who stopped smoking 10 years ago, said:

“How do I react to a company that is coming from down south or abroad and they have smoking on stage? I have to ban the scene with the cigarette or break the law. I decided to break the law.

“This is an interference with art. It shows how our beautiful (???) politicians don’t think about the art and the theatre at all. They don’t give a damn. I will go as far as the European Court of Human Rights.”

I wish you the best of British luck, Tomek.

Monday, April 17, 2006


I need some feedback on this question:

What’s the difference, in media-speak, between “downbeat” and “offbeat”?

The word “ oblique” seems to link to both.

Sally Anne

On Wednesday March 22 detectives hunting the killer of Sally Anne Bowman issued a new e-fit of the suspect.

Sally, an 18-year-old part-time model, was murdered in Croydon, south London, in September 2005. Her attacker stabbed her several times, bit her and seriously sexually assaulted her.

DNA found at the scene forensically linked the killer to an indecent assault committed in nearby Purley Cross in July 2001.

The search for the killer is on-going.


In Hertfordshire:

A thirty-five year old plasterer is gazing into flames during a group meditation session at the Spiritualist Church in St. Albans.

He has a vision of a faceless man wearing gloves and a hooded top grabbing a young woman from behind.

He then sees a handbag with some writing on the side and, presumably with the aid of some kind of hoodooistic split-screen effect, some of its contents: a phone and keys.

At this stage other members of the group start speaking in tongues. Mention is made of lipstick or lip balm.

It becomes clear that someone from the “other side” is online; female, the envisioned accessories would indicate.

The medium declares her to be Sally Anne Bowman.

He later tells police:

“From the bedroom she showed me a park. In the park she showed me a small hill where there was a tree and a man kneeling down at the tree.”

The contents of her handbag, it transpires, are buried here; the man returns regularly, digs them up and looks at them.

“I was also given the name Justin, while in meditation,” he adds.

“She gave me the actual experience of being covered in blood. I was lying at an angle as if my back was in an arched position and the blood running up my face and into my hair. She also showed me a shoe print which had been left in blood.”

The spiritualist, Ben Murphy, from Watford, who claims to have had psychic episodes since 2001, says the dead teenager has given him vital clues as to the identity of her killer, and he is "frustrated" that the police have not taken him seriously.

Under Sally Anne's "influence" he has drawn a picture of the murderer, which, unsurprisingly, bears little resemblance to the police e-fit.

A Met spokesperson said: “We get a lot of calls from spiritualists, but we deal in fact.”

On April 2, commenting on the Sally Anne Bowman case in The Guardian, Jay Rayner wrote:

“Each day, as you go about your life, it's likely you'll make a guest appearance on at least 300 different CCTV screens. Britain now has more security cameras than any other country, yet their impact on crime rates is negligible, while our fear of crime is still rising. So have these screen saviours been a flop?”

Mr Murphy, it seems, would answer in the affirmative. He would have us lay the facts aside, abandon the technology, concentrate on flame-gazing.

Personally, I don't believe in magic and I'm sick to my stomach of phoney psychics and their impressionable disciples.

The dead are simply that: the dead.

They have ceased to exist; they will not return.

And the tragic victims of psychopathic killers do not use charlatans and superstitious idiots as conduits to their former loved ones.

Mr Murphy is a sociopath, and his fellow "spiritualists" are simple minded fools.

My deep and sincere sympathy to the family and friends of Sally Anne Bowman. May her killer soon be brought to justice, without the assistance of supernatural agencies.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Those who live by the sword...

So a Falklands veteran has been out for a drink with some pals and is going home.

He turns into his street and is accosted by a gang of youths looking for a rumble.

After a bit of pushing and shoving, this guy, who is no shrinking violet but doesn’t go looking for trouble, gets to his front door, shuts it behind him and switches on the tv, shaking his head and muttering something like, “Kids today, who’d have them?”

He’s just poured himself a beer and getting settled when he hears the shouting and the stones start hitting the window.

He loses it; he’s not having it.

He picks up a screw driver and goes out to confront the little darlings.

“Bring something bigger,” sneers the big guy with the baseball cap and the can of white lightening.

“OK,” says our ex-soldier friend.

He goes back indoors and reappears some moments later with this bloody great samurai sword, given to him by his father, also a one time military man.

The yobbos scarper.

Our hero decides to call the police. Just to let them know that there’s a bunch of trouble makers about who might end up giving somebody else a hard time.

The police come round, he tells them that he chased the youths away with a sword and they arrest him for threatening behaviour.

He’s given six months conditional discharge and ordered to pay £300 court costs.

What else can I say?

Before I talk about Accrington Stanley...

There's this other "football" story from Nottingham:

Two thugs have been jailed after they kicked a man's head "like a football". Sean Marshall, 36, was in a coma for four days after the vicious late-night attack which caused a fractured skull and broken jaw. A witness told Nottingham Crown Court it was the "most shocking thing" he had ever seen. Mr Marshall had his head stamped on and kicked by Mark Mitchell and Andrew Kontny.The father of two has been left with brain damage and is prone to constant mood swings. Judge Jonathan Teare said: "It is absolutely sickening and caused enormous physical damage. It could have been murder."

Great place for a night out is Nottingham.

Come On You...

Remember Thursday's post? Well, Stanley have not disappointed: the faithful will celebrate. This from the Accrington Observer:

ACCRINGTON Stanley have made history after victory against Woking saw them promoted to the Football League after 44 years in the non-league wilderness. We're giving you the chance to send in your messages of congratulations to the Reds.
There will be full coverage in the next issue of the Observer (21 April), which will also include the first of two special supplements celebrating the achievement.
The first supplement will look back at the historic season and the second will cover the celebrations.
For the second supplement, available on 28 April, we are inviting fans and readers to send in their own messages of congratulation. These will all be printed in the paper to make it a unique keepsake to treasure for life.

It warms my heart. No, really.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Buzz Off!

A controversial high tech “yob repellant” may be taken up by Macclesfield Neighbourhood Policing Unit.

The device, called the Mosquito, emits a high-pitched noise that can only be heard by people under 25. It is apparently so irritating that it forces gangs of youths to move away.

Locals from the Moss and Ryles Ward have voted anti-social behaviour as their new top policing priority, taking over from drugs.

PCSO Simon Martindale demonstrated Mosquito, along with Smartwater, an invisible burglar-detecting paint, to residents at a Community Action Meeting on the Moss Estate.

“There are certain trouble spots where the Mosquito could prove very effective,” he said, “like the Co-op on Belgrave Road. It could really help us crack down on anti-social behaviour.”

Special Constable David Gore, a medical Student, said: “I can actually hear it. Most of the time only youngsters can hear it but I can. It’s really horrible, really annoying.”

An anti-gang noise box used by a Spar shop in Newport was ordered to be switched off by Newport Community Safety Partnership last year because of fears that it breached human rights.

Inspector Garry Simpson said: "We are hoping to negotiate some additional funding and from a police point of view, I think it's a great idea."

However, prospective locations for the new weapon are being kept under wraps.

"I'm not prepared to say where we are looking at introducing Mosquitos at this stage," added Inspector Simpson.

The Co-op on Belgrave Road, perhaps?

Beyond our Ken

What Do Londoners really think of their outspoken Mayor?

He is an embarrassment to London and should shut-up39.8%
He has made the capital a better place to live in12.4%
The controversies are just a media beat-up9.9%
His comments are uneducated and sometimes racist10.6%
It's refreshing to have a politician who speaks his mind27.3%

Friday, April 14, 2006

News of the Loos

Whether you’re transgendered or simply enjoy cross dressing you need no long longer tolerate verbal or physical abuse when using public toilets in Croydon.

After two years of working closely with "the police and other transgender organisations", Aurora, Croydon's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGTB) police focus group, has had its Public Toilet Advice Plan (PTAP) for Trannies and TVs (TATS) officially endorsed by the Met.

It's entitled Which Loo? and if Croydon isn’t your favourite stomping ground don’t worry; the plan is set to be adopted London wide.

Happy days.

The guidelines, originally for men in the process of becoming women, can also, say those behind the scheme, be used by cross dressers.

It seems that transsexuals and transvestites have been getting a bit of a hard time, so to speak, when caught short.

One of the main movers, Rachel Cox said: “I’ve had the experience of a difficult situation when using public toilets in the past and it’s very humiliating and embarrassing.”

And a leading light of the Croydon transgender group Friends of the Firebird (???), Sandra Robinson, who has also been a victim of abuse while using public toilets, said she is “glad that the police are taking an interest in this problem because we have been trying to push the guidelines through for a long time.”

Tor Docherty, chief executive of Galop, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community safety charity, welcomes any increase in official awareness of the problems encountered by transgendered people:

“It’s really good that someone has looked at transgender specific problems. Transphobic crime is ignored and it needs to be taken further up the agenda."


Here are the official Which Loo? guidelines:

Before you use the loo think ahead If you are on a train use the unisex loo. Do not wait until your journey is over.

If you go into a pub consider buying a drink to avoid attracting the attention of staff.

Consider using unisex or disabled loos whenever possible

When you are in the loo avoid eye contact Especially if it is a gents. Ladies loos are more sociable and eye contact may help you blend in.

If you are confronted stay calm Do not get involved in a conversation or an argument.

Carry some documentation showing your acquired gender. For instance a driving licence, AA membership (???) or a medical certificate from your GP.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bad Patriots: John M Parr

Ahh, the letters page: a fertile seam which seldom fails to expose the true heart of the nation.

April 12 is, according to the author of "Happy birthday to our great flag" (Nottingham Evening Post, April 13), the "birthday of our flag, the Union Jack".

It is apparently 400 years old.

Heraldic artefacts are, I think, products of ideology and propaganda rather than the fruits of any given womb, but let's not be picky.

"What better day to remind ourselves," says Mr Parr, "of what the flag symbolises; it is British, and is embraced by all its British subjects."

We might also remind ourselves that Nottingham, in the East Midlands, is Lemmuel Gulliver country, middle England, the heart and home of the Little Englander.

Mr Parr goes on to relate how, watching the Commonwealth Games in Australia recently - presumably on television - he was moved to share the emotions of the British athletes "as they mounted the platform, turned towards the flag, while Land of Hope and Glory was played".

Now, as an Anglo-Irish/Scottish Brit I am probably one of those "British subjects" to whom he refers, although I don't like the term "subject" and am increasingly unsure of what being "British" means.

One thing, however, of which I am sure is that his flag signifies little to me that isn't related to colonialism, bad colour co-ordination or the BNP.

He alludes to his service career in "one of the past far-flung outposts the British army found itself in" and I concede my respect for his views, archaic as they are.

What prompts me to nominate Mr Parr, however, as today's Bad Patriot is his final, telling sentence regarding the piece of cloth in question:

"It is an icon to be treasured, protected and safeguarded from the malign influence of Europe."

Goodbye Mr Parr. May you presently shuffle off this mortal coil with all the dignity you deserve, secure in your ignorance and steadfastly xenophobic.

Glory Days

Accrington Stanley has always been a joke (to anyone who doesn't live in Accrington) but they're now only 2 points away from promotion back to the football league - after 44 years in the non-league weeds.

Everything hangs on Saturday's away match to Woking and Easter Monday's home game against Scarborough.

In anticipation of success plans for huge civic celebrations have already been drawn up.

Chairman Eric Whalley and manager John Coleman, together with the whole team, will take part in a grand tour of triumph around the town on an open topped bus.

They will then meet the Mayor and address the (anticipated) crowds from the Town Hall steps, before going inside for a civic reception.

Council Leader Peter Britcliffe said: "Stanley's journey to promotion has been truly magical... It's set to be a fantastic occasion... The whole of Hyndburn will be boosted by it."

Glory days, huh? But what if they lose? Watch this space.

Natural Born...?

So Darren's got his dad's handgun in a sock, and Jamal's favourite Mach-10 is wrapped up lovingly in his girlfriend's best Burberry scarf.

They're both stylishly kitted out in Red Herring boiler suits, hats and gloves.

Ryan, the wheelman, sports his new Hemmingway fleece (maroon with cream trim) and an unassuming pair of Nike trainers.

As they approach Gateway Import and Export Ltd, Wembley, they are ambushed by the Sweeney, in Oxfam bomber jackets and steel toe-capped workshoes from Millets.

A shocked Jamal drops his machine pistol, which sparks off a couple of rounds, scaring the living shit out of Darren, who promptly tosses his weapon over a fence into the canal and swears he has no idea who he is, who Jamal is or what the hell either of them is doing there.

Jobless Jamal, 28, from Upper Norwood, is sentenced to 10 years; Darren, also 28, of Hamilton Road, West Norwood, gets 11 (something to do with the sock?).

Ryan, the wheelman, 25, of no fixed abode, is nowhere to be found.