18 March, 2015

Andy Fraser

This blog says farewell to Andy Fraser, the best heavy bassist in the world. He joined Free at 15, having already played for John Mayall.

He had suffered a lot of illness, and died of AIDS. RIP

17 March, 2015

Political summary

The general election campaign seems to have begun in earnest at the beginning of January. Now, in mid-March, there are still seven weeks to go. For me it is one of the cases against fixed term parliaments: usually one of the big parties, maybe both, have a reason to string it out, diluting the message, so instead of a concentrated campaign you get months of meaningless guff, intended to nudge you rather than persuade you into voting one way or another.

There has been a lot of nonsense talked about debates. To the uninitiated it must seem as if televised debates are part of our constitution, mentioned in the Magna Carta, perhaps. In fact in our long democratic history we have only once had such debates, and that was last time. It is part of the American system because they only ever have two parties.

Debates never help the ruling party, since they can only show up other parties to a better effect. The only reason we had a debate last time was that Gordon Brown was so unpopular he had nothing to lose. In the end Nick Clegg did well. causing a surge in his party's popularity just in time for the election, only for it to decline immediately afterwards. The debate caused a completely misleading result.

Will there be debates this time? A debate with 5 or 6 parties would be an irrelevance but would harm Cameron less, preventing major challengers from hammering home their main points. 'Empty-Chairing' Mr. Cameron would not help anyone. He would go off and do something Prime Ministerial, like addressing Congress or coming up with a peace plan for the Middle East, and the debates would look like the squabbling of the also-rans.

Several polls are putting the main parties neck and neck, and I must say I find this astonishing if you look at the personnel involved. Milliband and Balls were, respectively, an adviser to the Treasury and Special Adviser to the Chancellor. These are the people who were saying 'Come on, Gordon, borrow a bit more. We can buy the votes of a few more special interest groups and our grandchildren can repay the debt'. It is surprising that the Labour Party even condones them.

But it all goes back to Cameron. In 2010 he missed a glaring open goal, failing to beat the hugely failed Gordon Brown. Now, against these two clowns, he has still failed to seal the deal with the British people.

In my view people find Cameron insincere. He could change opinions at the drop of a hat, being pro-Green, then referring to 'all this green crap'. He has been pro Europe and anti-Europe, pro-austerity ad anti-austerity.

Cameron is not what the French call an 'homme sérieux'. The Tories need a proper leader, not a chameleon.

Luvvie Fascism

One has interesting discussions with tailors. sometimes, but I really cannot imagine discussing In Vitro Fertilisation with one. Such, however, is the basis of a luvvie spat between Elton John and Dolce & Gabbana.

I suppose most of my clothes these days are made in Bangladeshi sweatshops but these people have never seen fit to express their views on this or any other important topic.

For myself I expect it makes me a bit of a dinosaur but I think it rather odd that two men in a relationship should want a baby.

What I think unpleasant, thogh, is people trying to force their opinions on others, boycotting Dolce & Gabbana's clothes because they don't hold the 'correct' opinins. It has a whiff of fascism.

12 March, 2015


I knew someone who affected Balkan Sobranie cigarettes, once. They were expensive and tasted like old socks, but they came in different colours.

Which got me thinking about the new plain packaging. All the manufacturers have to do is have their own colouring on the cigarette itself: gold for B & H, blue and white for Rothmans, red and white for Marlboro etc.

Which reminds me that if I don't give in to temptation, 1st April will mark 30 years since I have had a cigarette.

11 March, 2015

Jeremy Clarkson

Top Gear used to be owned jointly by the BBC and Jeremy Clarkson and a colleague. The BBC bought Clarkson out last year at a cost of millions.

The reason for the high cost is that Top Gear is very valuable property. It airs in more than a hundred countries and has made more than £100 million for the BBC. I heard there was even someone employed to copy Clarkson's verbal mannerisms into Pharsee, for the Iranian market.

Top Gear is nothing without Clarkson and he has a massive following worldwide. which does not include the politically correct lefties who run the BBC. The fans, amongst whom I count myself, don't much mind if Clarkson calls someone a darkie or (as is rumoured to be the current case) throws a punch at a producer.

We certainly don't want the show cancelled because the PC Lefties don't like him. We like the show; we don't much like them, an we deplore the flagrant waste of money that getting rid of Clarkson would represent.

10 March, 2015

The euro

I see that the euro has fallen to €1.40/£, which, interestingly, was the rate it was launched at in 1999 (bank accounts only).

I predicted at the time that it would last no longer than 15 years, so it has done better than I supposed, but I don't think anyone would call it a success.

Whose army?

The Americans are calling for increased defence expenditure in Europe. The fact is that they are tiring of defending an ungrateful but rich continent and would rather concentrate their efforts on the Middle East and the Far East.

The militarist lobby in the UK has interpreted this as a demand that Britain does not fall below the recommended 2% of GDP spent, although in fact Britain and France have been exemplary in maintaining their armed forces under difficult eonomic circumstances.

What America really meant was that Germany should come to the table. Its expenditure has been around half the requirement and its armed forces are in a terrible state of training and equipment. But the Germans prefer to let others defend them.

Britain should pull out of Germany as well.

In the middle of all this, up pops Jean Claude Juncker, head of the European Commission, to suggest that Europe, too, should have its own army.

Of course there has long been talk of a European Army and occasionally there are joint exercises, but it would be a nonsense without Britain's particiation, and fortunately we have refused so far. We should continue to refuse.

How would it work, Junckers's army? Would participation require unanimity so that Ireland, for example, which professes neutrality, could scupper any chance of it ever being used? Or would it be by qualified majority voting, which woud mean that several countries which were opposed to the Gulf War would have been forced to send soldiers?

Juncker wants this because an army is one of the trappings of nationhood. like a flag and an anthem, which he already has.

It is, however, an idea best avoided.