30 October, 2007

The Sun

I am an avid reader of the Sun's editorial comment 'The Sun Says'; this paper, though intellectually a tad lacking, influences the votes of its millions of readers. The Sun Says has for several months been having a go at Gordon Brown's failure to hold a referendum, and now is coming out in favour of David Cameron's immigration policy. Is this a major shift in loyalty, the first since 1997? Interesting stuff.

David and Abdullah

There's been quite a lot of self-righteous breast beating about the visit of King Abdullah to Britain. My own view is that if they're so nasty don't buy their horrid oil or sell them our planes. Ha-ha.

But the strangest thing is the absence of the Foreign Secretary from the talks. Normally it would be irrelevant and I wouldn't mention it but in this case I think we have to remind ourselves that David Milliband is Jewish. Here is his reason: that he and his we are adopting a child - in America - and that he has to be present there at that moment. This is the strangest excuse and the more I think about it the less I believe it. David Milliband has long term prime-ministerial ambitions, it should be remembered. What is going on at these talks?

A couple of things need be said: firstly it ill behoves a Cabinet Minister to decide he doesn't like British adoption regulations and to do it in the more relaxed USA.

Secondly, there appears to be a feeling among a large part of the Labour Party that foreign relations don't matter. Remember the late Robin Cook leaving the Queen on her visit to India so he could see his mistress? But the Saudi oil fuels British factories with British jobs, and the arms contract, whether you like it or not, provides a lot of workers' livelihoods.

This being a personal matter I reckon he is gambling no one will question him too deeply. But I hope we shall hear more about Mr Milliband's abandonment of his post.

29 October, 2007


The news is that the dollar has fallen to a new low of 1.4438 against the euro (although it came back a bit in later trading). The euro had been launched at around a dollar. So is this a good thing or a bad thing? And for whom?

The position of the US is that it has been spending more than it has been earning for some time now. It has a massive trade deficit. When it buys goods from China, it pays in dollars but the Chinese manufacturer is not allowed to hold dollars so it sells them to the central bank at a fiddled exchange rate with which it can't argue. The Bank of China then invests these dollar funds in American government stock (called T-bills). So China is lending the USA money to buy Chinese goods. The only way to get out of this deficit position is for the USA to devalue. Then the value of China's T-bill holding would go down (tee-hee) and China's exports to the US would become more expensive. But the Chinese weren't born yesterday, and their fixed yuan-$ exchange rate followed it up before it went down, and they are refusing to revalue. They may be forced to, however if the dollar falls against all other currencies; which it is trying to do.

Things are different for the euro. Consumer demand from more cautious European consumers has been much weaker than in the US. The euro-area's growth has been from exports (that is to say the factories have been working but non-Europeans have been buying the goods). And to keep your exports competitive you need a cheap currency, not one which is shooting up in value against the dollar, in which so many commodities from oil to wheat are valued.

So there was something of a race to the bottom - both the USA and the Euro trying to remain cheap - and it seams round one is to the US. I once read that the Airbus would be uncompetitive at 1.35. Presumably now it is losing money hand over fist.

Germany has in the past shown the way to manage a strong currency and export: go up market, keep your quality high, keep your costs low. It remains to be seen whether the eurozone can do this. If the dollar falls much further - and the US would like it to - there will be growing unemployment in Europe which will become a political problem.

Cut the regulation. Cut the taxes. But they won't listen.

27 October, 2007


There has been a lot of publicity in Italy given to a campaign to promote homosexuality as something you are born with rather than something you acquire. The campaign features a baby with a wrist tag marked 'homosexual' (rather than male or female). Now new research on worms says that where a worm is homosexual it is written in the genes.

Only worms, but I hope religious leaders are looking at this: if there can be shown to be a homosexual gene then it must follow that God made homosexuals. Which rather changes things.

To date though no such gene has been discovered in humans.

Interesting fact: A lot of people say hoe-mosexuality (hom as in dome rather than hom as in bomb) on the basis that it comes from the Latin homo meaning man. But on that basis a female 'homosexual', attracted to men, would be a heterosexual. Instead it comes from the Greek hommos, meaning 'the same' as in homogenised milk. So it's hom as in bomb.

I expect you all knew that.

Euroopean Cnstitution

The Economist (HERE) quotes the Euro-loony Centre for European Policy Studies as welcoming the fact that the text of the constitution is opaque, because those countries which ratified the constitution last time are going to be arguing that it is the same as the failed Constitution they supported so there is no need for a referendum, whereas those which held or were going to hold a referendum will be arguing that it is a completely different document..... and so there is no need for a referendum!

What amazes me is that anybody can support this anti-democratic buro-fascism for a moment.

26 October, 2007

Off the hook!

ANSA reports that Berlusconi has been acquitted of bribery charges (he was charged with bribing a judge not to sell a state food company to a rival in 1985, but after acquittal the prosecution appealed). That is not a misprint: he was charged with something 22 years ago and has only now cleared his name. Such is the speed of the Italian justice system.

Really this must improve if Italy is to be regarded internationally as a country governed by the rule of law.

In a separate development, the papers registering Clemente Mastella as a suspect in the 'Why Not' investigation have arrived in Rome. It appears they are concentrating on something particular to Mastella and not to the investigation around Romano Prodi.

So it seems the two ageing political leaders might well be off the hook together, just as people are beginning to talk of a general election in the near future. My advice is for them both to retire - innocent - and leave this one to the younger guys (people under 70)

25 October, 2007


It seems that someone has sent a letter to Clemente Mastella, enclosing bullets and threatening him if he doesn't reinstate de Magistris (the investigating magistrate who has been critical of him and whom he has had transferred from his post).

I have been critical of Mr Mastella but this sort of thing destroys political debate. Indeed it works in the opposite way, for now he will be seen as something of a martyr.

So Italian politics has lost none of its ability to shock.

24 October, 2007

Italian News

The first of a regular mid-week summary of the news from Italy.

- Prime Minister Romano Prodi says he has confidence in Clemente Mastella. Mastella is being investigated for collaborating with a group of businessmen to defraud the EU. This news is hardy surprising because Prodi is subject to the same investigation (although only for abuse of office) and because he is desperately in need of support for his coalition in which Mastella's Udeur party is a member.

- Standard and Poors the rating agency has confirmed Italy' s debt ratings but said that the prospects for fiscal consolidation (that means sorting out the excessive public spending) do not seem good, due to rigid labour markets, the structural weakness of Italian public finances and the ageing population.

- Italian children are among the fattest in Europe according to recent research

- Evaded taxes in Italy exceed 100 billion euros a year and the bulk of the evasion takes place in the services and retail sectors, according to a new report by the economy ministry.

- A new law concerning the duties of newspaper editors will not apply to bloggers says undersecretary for culture Ricardo Franco Levi.

- Roma and Inter Milan both won in the Champions League

- Fanatical self-publicist TV girl and consort of Flavio Briatore, Elizabetha Gregoraci, claims she cannot even have a coffee with a friend without it appearing in the newspapers. Whether this is a complaint or bragging is unclear

- An Italian, Paolo Nespoli from Milan, is in space, the first Italian for 6 years. The importance of choosing a Milanese is that it is only south of Rome that they refuse to wear crash helmets.

23 October, 2007

Life with the mafia

The Italian papers, and many of the British ones, lead with the story that the mafia is the biggest business in Italy. I don't know (and I don't think they know) but it seems certain it is the only one which is well organised and with a proper international outlook.

But Italians don't live their lives terrified of the bullet in the post, or the horse's head in the bed. Other than the flower sellers in restaurants (sent in to check how many people are dining so the payments can be fairly calculated) there is only one way it affects the lives of, I would guess, 99.5% of the people: the pizzo, or protection, increases the cost of the goods ordinary Italians buy. Where the mafia are strongest, ordinary things such as food, rent etc are more expensive.

If you close your eyes a bit you don't notice it; it's probably no more than the money wasted through idle civil servants or outdated labour practices.

That's why nobody does anything about it.

22 October, 2007

Habeas Corpus

It used to be that if the State hadn't charged you with anything after detaining you for 3 days, they had to let you go. Slowly this has been whittled away, apparently due to the post 9/11 terrorist upsurge, and the limit is now 28 days. Nearly a month. Now the police want it to be 90 days - three months that you can be held in a prison without even being charged, much less convicted.

The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has now admitted that there has not been a single instance since 9/11 where detention would have been necessary for more than 28 days. They just want the powers, you see.

If parliament lets this through it will have ceased to be the guardian of our liberties.

21 October, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

The Sunday Telegraph has separate articles from estranged couple Imran and Jemima Khan, the latter describing Benazir as 'a kleptocrat in Hermes headscarf'.

Even the highly critical Jemima, however, uses the term 'self-imposed exile' for Benazir's lengthy stay in a mansion in Surrey. It sounds as if she was absenting herself for the good of her people. In fact she was fleeing a series of corruption charges.

20 October, 2007

Clemente Mastella (5)

According to the ANSA News Agency, Clemente Mastella is under investigation for abuse of office and violation of the laws on membership of secret societies. Apparently the suspicion is that he and a group of politicians and businessmen conspired to misappropriate public funds into San Marino.

18 October, 2007

European Constitution

Mr Brown is off to Lisbon to sign us up to the European Constitution. He and Foreign Secretary Milliband say that none of the nasties apply to us - they have protected us with their red lines. They don't believe that and nor should we; they are lying. If you are interested in exactly what the red lines are worth see HERE. You can also sign the referendum petition at the same site.

Blair stitched Brown up by agreeing to this and so Brown has to support the Constitution and therefore can't allow a vote. We are being sold down the river for a piece of cheap politics.

The question is: what do we do now? Keep the pressure on; write to newspapers and MPs. A new opinion poll taken across Europe shows that 70% of Europeans want a referendum; but they won't get one. The political class want the thing adopted and damn the people. This is one of the most outrageous pieces of deception in living memory.


The plight of the poor Burmese could hardly be worse. A repressive regime which rejected the winning candidate in the elections, Aung San Suu Kyi, is kept in power by another repressive regime, China. The Chinese are not lovers of democracy, and particularly fear that the infection might spread over the border into the poverty stricken areas where the new wealth has not permeated. And China has interests in Burma: energy contracts which have privately enriched the Burmese generals.

Is this why the West does nothing, for fear of upsetting China?

There may be another reason. I once heard an interview with Aung San Suu Kyi and she was far from flattering about the West and its morality, loathing its materialism, loathing its interference in small countries which cannot resist. She took over this mantle from her father, General Aung San, who became a folk hero fighting imperialism. It may be we have little to expect from a regime run by her and that this is holding us back. Reprehensible, of course...

17 October, 2007

The Demon Drink

When they were trying to outlaw smoking, a number of people remarked that it will be drinking next. I confess I didn't subscribe to this view, but who knows? the first shots may be sounding.

A professor Ian Gilmour, for reasons, one can only suppose, of self-publicity, has sprayed the media with his views about alcohol consumption. Apparently the middle classes are at it. Some of them are drinking at the danger level of of three and a half bottles (per week, that is). The people of Surrey appear to be particularly guilty. Prof Mark Bellis, the director of the North West Public Health Observatory (did you know there was such a thing? Have a guess who's paying for it), suggested "substantial" increases in the price of alcohol could help to tackle the problem.

The first thing to say here is that these gentlemen really should try to get out more. I don't think I know anybody who drinks as little as this and we can't all be for the morgue at an early age. There is no scientific proof or even evidence that these levels are damaging, because there has been no proper study carried out. The second thing is to ask whether they had considered minding their own business. There is a nice little piece in the Mail (here)by John Mortimer 'The true sickness of our times is not that we eat too much, smoke cigarettes or knock off a bottle of wine in an evening. It is the ever-growing tendency of medical boards, Government officials, politicians and other groups.... to tell us how to lead our lives.'

As to Mr Bellis, here in Italy good wine is 1 euro a litre (52p a bottle) and plonk cheaper than that. And yet the Italians are living longer than the British. And you never see anyone drunk on the streets.

I suppose these ill-informed busybodies will only shut up when there is such a public outcry that the newspapers don't bother to print their self-opinionated drivel. We should start that outcry now.

16 October, 2007


So, Sir Ming has suddenly found himself with a knife between his shoulder blades. It can happen. He seemed like a nice old codger, although I couldn't have voted for him myself, having a prejudice against people who can't pronounce their own names (his is Menzies). I also have a prejudice against people who don't use their own names, like Alexander 'Boris' Johnson.

They will probably elect Nick Clegg, who is seen as very much the coming thing, but my view, for what it's worth, is that the only one of them who talks any sense is Vince Cable. That presumably will preclude his even standing. I should also mention that his name is in fact John. What is it with these people?

This will be watched closely in the other two parties. The Conservative revival, to seven points ahead of Labour in the polls, has come almost entirely at the expense of the Liberal Democrats. And no one knows better than David Cameron what a transformation in party fortunes can be brought about by a new, young, personable leader.

13 October, 2007


The Telegraph says we are sending more supporters to the Stade de France for tonight's match than we had soldiers at Waterloo. I'm not sure we can expect much help from the Germans this time, though.

Good luck to our chaps

12 October, 2007

Government Figures

Imagine any sort of organisation which has to account to members for where the money has gone - it might be a company or partnership, a golf club or the Church Fete. What would you expect to receive? As a very minimum, I should have thought, how much money came in (and where it came from) and how much went out (and where it went). And there are laws governing exactly this, in every aspect of life except government. Alastair Darling's statement, the Comprehensive Spending Review (or perhaps Revue since it has been a bit of an act) takes a long long time to get through (and costs £54) and really leaves you none the wiser. The last chancellor who gave both income and expenditure statements at the same time was Norman Lamont, but his were done on different bases anyway and so worthless. The only thing you can be certain of is that you will be kept in the dark.

What we do know is that growth appears to be slowing and that both the government deficit and the borrowing levels are right at the top of where they should be. Odd, this: Gordon Brown used to state clearly that government finances should be balanced over the economic cycle. This means running a deficit when times are bad and a surplus when they are good. To keep to this, Gordon even changed the definition of the economic cycle a while back, but even so he appears to have broken his own rule: things have been booming (he never tires of telling us so) and so we should be in surplus. But we're not.

What this means is that even if the government squeezes its revised figures into its revised definition of the economic cycle, we have no leeway. The extra money for education had to come from borrowings. So we have nothing left to fall back on if times get harder.

And times are getting harder. Already people are talking about a drop in house prices. This will make homeowners less free with their money, and they are in any case up to their ears in debt, so spending will fall, unemployment will begin to rise again and increased welfare payments will test the government's finances further. When Brown was riding high on the back of the previous government's prudence he often used to lecture us and his foreign counterparts on exactly this: 'the costs of economic failure'. Now his chickens are coming home to roost. He said there will be no spending without reform but he has poured money into unreformed public services, which are still awful; all that has happened is salaries have risen, Labour voting staff have been taken on.

It's time to tighten our belts; and Brown must fight an election in 2 years or so. He must be hoping we all have short memories. But I think he will be bitterly regretting his timidity about going to the country this Autumn.

Thank you, Darling

Meanwhile Alastair Darling 'fesses up. He admits that he has a mortgage with Northern Rock - which I described in an earlier post as a bank with Labour Party connections. What we don't know (yet) is if he had any savings with them - covered by the 100% guarantee from us taxpayers - or if he had the sense to put them somewhere safer.

Well Clemente?

Still waiting for the detailed denial from Mr Mastella

07 October, 2007

Clemente Mastella

See my blogs about Lato B and the F word, and Outrage of Sept 27th.

I have received a comment 'This is not true' which I have now identified as coming from Mr Mastella.

If he would like to write a detailed refutation of the allegations I have made I should be only too happy to publish it on this blog.


The word appears in every newspaper today (as a matter of fact it should be 'bottled out' or 'lost his bottle', the term perhaps deriving from the older 'no bottle' as in the American 'no cigar' meaning no good, or perhaps the rhyming slang 'bottle and glass'. But this is no time for pedantry). Even the Labour supporting papers are giving Gordon Brown a hard time. Something big has happened this weekend. As Andrew Rawnsley writes in the Guardian, the thing almost everyone thought they knew about Gordon was that he was a mastermind at politics. He has now lost this and his reputation as a leader in the space of a few hours.

Cameron has won a famous victory; almost no one believed the Tories could have won an election whereas in 2009 (Brown will look an even bigger fool if he goes in 2008) they might well.

Now the rest of us can get on with looking at whether there will be a financial crisis and the Tories can get on with exposing the Government's failings.

06 October, 2007


The Times has suggested he must be our most famous Peruvian immigrant (forgetting Joan Collins' husband Percy and Mario Vargas Llosa)

but can't people see? Or is this a nationwide conspiracy? 'Paddington' is pictured with a jar of Marmite, when everyone knows he lives off marmalade sandwiches. This is a fake, a base, cunning creature taking advantage of the weak immigration laws to impersonate a well known and much respected figure. There must be public outrage, steps must be taken.......


I am one of the founders of UKIP and stood for them in the 1992 Election (when we were called the Anti-Federalist League) and the 1994 Euro Election. I recruited Nigel Farage to the party, in a pub in Wiltshire. So I wish them well even though I no longer take any part in the Party. I believe the EU to be an expensive, corrupt, undemocratic shambles and have no doubt whatsoever that we would be better off democratically and financially out of it.

But UKIP has had its problems: internal party bickering, some pretty dodgy characters as candidates, and a bit too much noise on immigration (if this is going to be an election platform, and there is no reason why it shouldn't be, you have to control the language used, as David Cameron showed so well at the Tory Conference).

There are signs now that it is getting out of the rut. Nigel Farage is a good leader and trenchant speaker, the funding crisis shows signs of being behind it, and the immigration verbiage seems to be under control (5-year moratorium on economic migrants). Most people agree with them, if not on actually leaving the EU, on the euro and the constitution.

And the recent news is that Marta Andreasen, the whistle blower who was fired for exposing EU corruption, to the shame of Lord Kinnock and his appalling wife, will be the new Treasurer. Short of having your accounts signed off by the Governor of the Central Bank (and as a matter of fact I have my doubts about Mr Trichet) you could hardly do better. Is this a renaissance for UKIP? I hope so, if only to keep the other parties honest about Europe.

Election fever (2)

So..... what do we know?

Before the Tory conference it seemed certain that Gordon would call an election and that he would win it. The Tories just weren't ready and there were doubts about Cameron's leadership. After the Tory conference there has been a Cameron bounce and the Tory Party has seemed remarkably united.

Let me say now that if Cameron has pulled this off, giving his party more time to get its act together, he will have scored a remarkable political coup. And a lot of the credit must go to George Osborne, who is the election co-ordinator and also shadow chancellor: it seems from polls that what has really swayed the voters has been the proffered reduction in inheritance tax. He may look and talk like an irritating 12 year old but there seems to be some sense in him.

But I've said before, in my view Brown would be mad not to go to the country now, if only for the reason that things are going to get a lot worse. The British middle classes can put up with a lot but not the value of their houses going down. This is one of the things that did for Major and it is enough to finish Gordon Brown. And Brown knows what it happening: who better?

Total UK household debt was 164 per cent of GDP at the end of 2006. In the USA, widely regarded by international commentators as up to its ears in debt, it was only 140 per cent. If the present financial crisis brings something in the way of a slowdown - not even a serious recession - we are in for trouble. Don't forget the people who have been borrowing 100% of the value of their houses on 4 times or more their salary. They will be in negative equity, and those who lose their jobs will be bankrupt. They will vote accordingly.

At the first sign of recession the Bank of England will reverse its upward leaning on interest rates (almost everyone thought they would rise one more time to 6pct. Now nobody thinks that) and drop them gradually. But if the housing market has already suffered the jitters reduced interest rates will not immediately work through into house prices - fewer people will be buying or selling. The pound will fall and there might - in 9-18months - be an export led recovery. And this is not fancy: lenders are already tightening credit conditions and laying off staff. Many people in the City are forecasting a 20% drop in house prices.

A pick-up in 9-18 months. Now Gordon has to call an election by Spring 2010, and usually the press start jeering after four years of a government - Spring 2009. The timing looks bad for Gordon.

All this assumes that the Tories can keep united and learn that when confronted with an open goal you have to kick the ball in (too many cock-ups have passed without comment from camp Cameron over the last year). But Gordon will see that Cameron has learned how to keep the traditional conservatives in order - offer a tax cut. The press will be against him over this and over the EU Constitution and his chances could be slim.

He ought to go now while there is still a chance.

05 October, 2007

The Post Office

The service is poor, and far too expensive, the offices are a disgrace, the staff are lazy and the unions venal. If there is an election thousands could be disenfranchised by this shambles.

Incredibly, we sanction a monopoly on all letters costing under a pound. It's high time we took it away, sold the Post Office off in bits and exposed it to competition.

04 October, 2007

Election fever

Ben Brogan, one of the most astute and well-informed political journos, has come out saying there won't be an election.

This is all getting quite exciting.


Macmillan once said (I'm not sure the quote should be attributed to him, the old fraud probably copied it) that each morning he looked at the obituaries column in the Times and if his name was not in it he got up.

I was slightly bleary early this morning when I saw the obit for Tom Hodges. But I can assure my readers that after a series of diagnostic tests at least some life has been found. The late gentleman appears to have been a book buyer for WH Smith.


Cameron's speech seems to have gone down well. He seemed relaxed and someone saw his chief publicist sipping a drink in the bar at 10pm the previous night, which suggests the whole team were pretty laid back.

One thing no one has commented on is that as Cameron was saying that he wanted his three children to go to state schools the camera panned to his wife Samantha. She looked appalled.

03 October, 2007

Party Conferences

David Aaronovitch, writing in the Times a couple of days ago (HERE) managed to get all grumpy about the Party Conference Season and even seemed to regret the passing of Tony Blair ‘this has been a bad fortnight and I am now wondering whether the era of flawed statesmen hasn’t given way to the tyranny of the parish populists’.

I don’t really recall this era of statesmen, flawed or otherwise (it certainly didn’t include Blair, who used to say whatever his audience wanted to hear, sometimes turning 180 degrees within 24 hours if the audience was different, and all irrespective of what he in any case intended to do).

When I used to attend party conferences many years ago I saw them as a way of stirring up the faithful, often to Orwellian levels of hysteria. ‘You will hear a lot about consensus politics’ said Margaret Thatcher, ‘I believe there is a consensus when everybody agrees with me’. How we cheered.

Nowadays I look at Party Conferences with the cold eye of a Kremlinologist. So here is my assessment. The first two conferences were about positioning.

Ming Campbell of the Liberal Democrats made a better speech than anybody expected him to, portraying his grey hairs as a positive factor, but this did no more than stave off open rebellion. On occasions the Lib Dems have had some bite, with the extra penny tax to pay for education, proportional representation, the environment, the slitty-eyed sincerity of Paddy Ashdown. Nowadays they just seem to be an alternative party and the more meat the two majors give us the less well they will do. I expect them to lose several seats if the General Election is this year. 4/10 for Ming.

The Labour Conference was about Gordon Brown and nothing else. He didn’t even mention David Cameron and the Conservatives but gave us a tour de force of bluster and jingoism. Much of it had been already used by Bill Clinton but nobody really minded. For those who believe this is a time for strong leadership (and there are many) this will have gone well. Brown finishes his first 100 days and his first conference as leader looking immeasurably strong, his open arms welcoming everyone into the Big Brown Tent (for this is no longer really about Labour new or old). 8/10.

I have just heard David Cameron, in what must be the most important speech of his career and certainly the most important of the Conference Season. He announced at the start that he was speaking without notes (better, surely, to let everyone notice it for themselves?) and to his credit didn’t seem nervous. There were times when I thought he was drifting, and I was scoring him 6/10, but he said ‘at least it’s me’ and it was: a fairly eloquent tour d’horizon of what he is about. I particularly liked his repeated: ‘we can’t succeed unless we understand why Labour has failed.’ Cameron is about supporting the family, individual empowerment and making public services accountable to the people. I’m not sure how this plays in Middle England: I have a feeling it will be acceptable only if people are convinced the traditional state-directed provision of services has broken down. But Cameron is coherent and came across as warm and likeable. I was scoring him 8/10 by the end.

All the Tories have offered in terms of meat is cuts in stamp duty and inheritance tax. To be fair they can’t really talk about income tax and can’t get into an auction on public services. In my view it will be just enough to make the party faithful row in behind their leader. The other things people will remember at Election Day are no ID cards, a limit to immigration (carefully phrased without xenophobia by Cameron, far better than the Tories usually manage) and a Referendum on the European Constitution. This, with The Sun (SEE THIS) on their side just might be enough to stop Gordon calling an election. I still think he should but we shall see.

01 October, 2007


We have finally put the wine to bed. After crushing
fermentation - during which the wine bubbles frantically and the fermenting tank is hot - the new wine has to be drawn off the skins and pips which have been floating around in it, and these are then pressed in a traditional wine press to get the maximum colour and flavour out

The pressed skins are then taken to a secret location

boiled up and distilled to make grappa

The wine is strong and dark this year but in smaller quantities than usual. It will now settle for a few months while we get ready for the chestnut festival and the olive picking

Lato-B we reveal all

Further to my post on the Lato-B imbroglio, whilst selflessly seeking out all the news for my readers I do confine myself to the quality press

Corriere della Sera, one of Italy's most serious newspapers, anxious to keep its readership informed..

under the heading 'No al Voyeurismo'

managed to find a couple of snaps..