Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Great Olympic Debt Race

The Olympics are here at last and no event is more exciting than the great Debt Race. Nations have been in training for years to get up to the mark for this gruelling competition. Would-be champions line up to display how to break all previously known records of insolvency.
I really don't blame you if you have broken the habit of a lifetime and put a bet on this. So long as it was in the Euro currency you are not losing anything.
First out onto the track is plucky little Ireland, with total national debts of €124 billion. It doesn't sound much but with such a modest population the debt per citizen works out at €27,214. And since most of the citizens are leaving for Australia nowadays, that is unlikely to go down. Neck and neck with Ireland comes Portugal, with €154 billion. It sounds as if they are leading over Ireland but the handicap system takes number of citizens into account so that it works out as €14,555 per head.
A long-standing favourite in this race is Greece, whose national debt is about €354 billion. That's a debt per citizen of €31,407. Bookies note that despite the repeated bailouts by the European Currency Bank, and an austerity regime that has left people searching through bins for food, Greece is still lengthening its stride in this race. Greek deputy finance minister Christos Staikouras warned today on state TV: "Cash reserves are almost zero. We are certainly on the brink, we did not receive the aid tranche we were supposed to and we have the pending issue of an ECB bond maturing on August 20...."

None of them are really in the big league compared to Spain. At the last count, Spain's national debt was €732 billion, and while that is only €15,932 per citizen, Spain has been showing remarkable form when it comes to high unemployment, a slump in retail and productivity, an all-time depression in the holiday business that was the mainstay of its economy and a crash in housing prices. A contender to watch.
Rumour has it that Spain hinted to the German government a few days ago that a bailout of €300 billion euros would be welcome. Germany told them they quite understood the situation but it would be more proper to act after the new European Stability Mechanism is set up. When it does, it may have more pressing applications to deal with. Italian national debt is nearly €2 trillion, three times that of Spain. While this is still smaller than its GDP, it is rather too big to be hidden in a suitcase inside your wardrobe. And it could be upped without warning if some of its regions such as Sicily decide to default on their own debts to the Italian government.
Where will the money come from to set up the new European Stability Mechanism?
From countries like France, Germany and the UK of course, which helps us to roar into the lead in the debt race almost out of sight. France's national debt is €1.7 trillion and may rise if new Socialist premier Francois Hollande goes ahead with his programme of spending to kick-start the economy. The UK's National Debt stands at £1.2 trillion in sterling, pretty much neck and neck with France, and unless we sell an awful lot of pizzas during the Olympics our GDP won't be going anywhere for a long time. Debt per citizen: £19,329.
But there is one dark horse in this race. German National Debt is €2,020,157,266,154, i.e. €2 trillion and this is approaching a level of 90% of its GDP. It has borne the brunt of successive bailouts and is contemplating the very real prospect of losing its AAA credit rating. The new far-left leader of Greece has announced that it is very likely to default and leave the euro, and Angela Merkel's coalition partners are openly demanding that it be allowed to do so. If it does not, the entire Euro currency zone faces imminent collapse.


So it's not surprising that tickets for the great Olympic Debt Race are changing hands fast on the black market. Be there or miss the greatest sporting event of the century!

Monday, 30 July 2012

What Proves You Are British?

A French cabinet minister said last week that he thought the test for people adopting French nationality was too difficult because it expected them to be able to speak French and name the French national anthem.

Not to sing it, not even to recite all the words, but just to name it. And the test provides a multiple choice format with ..er.. three options. Other questions included, "Was Brigitte Bardot a film actress, fashion designer or female boxer?" This, according to Socialist minister Manuel Valls, is part of a right-wing plot designed to discriminate against foreigners and damage "social cohesion".

What test would you set today for people applying for British nationality? What makes you British? Clearly, the criteria have changed. It would be laughable to expect people to know who Oliver Cromwell was. Multiple choice options i) a politician, ii) a footballer, iii) the hero of Lady Chatterley's Lover? Other obsolete notions would be having a liking for roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, knowing the rules of cricket or being able to sing "Jerusalem". WTF?
If your grandfather fought in the Battle of Britain, you are probably Polish. If your grandmother plays the bagpipes, you are probably Spanish or Argentinian.
Maybe having a dog with a silly name is proof of being British, or does it matter more that you own a teapot (which you never use) and can make a Christmas cake?

Britain has changed. I would suggest the following tests. If you fit this profile you are probably British:
i) Being able to name all the main characters of East Enders from their photographs,
ii) Taking a regular holiday on the Costa Brava or similar Spanish resort,
iii) Being able to guess the price of a house or flat anywhere in Britain just by looking at it from the outside for twenty seconds,
iv)Knowing how to get from any London Tube station to any other London tube station without looking at the map,
v) Having a Beatles tune as your mobile phone ringtone,
vi) Being able to name six sorts of real ale and identify them in a blind testing,
vii) Having one or more blood relatives in Australia,
viii) Secretly preferring instant coffee to the real thing, which is more trouble than it's worth.

PS On a more serious note, while it is good to hear that Isimeli Baleiwai, the Fiji-born soldier who has served for 13 years in the British army, has now had his deportation order suspended, his problems are not over. The petition sponsored by UKIP seems to have had some effect and ‘Bale’ has been given limited leave to remain until his case can be reviewed but in the meanwhile he remains unable to work, access benefits or receive NHS medical treatment. There are many other servicemen who are treated appallingly under our present laws.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Fair Trade Begins at Home

The Fair Trade movement in this country has made great strides, defying the so-called laws of capitalism. Consumers buying coffee, tea, rice, sugar, chocolate and many other imported products willingly pay more for them at supermarkets, Oxfam shops and church sales. Christians have taken a leading role in this, as in so many other benevolent schemes. The Co-op has done its best.
But why is it that we only care about Fair Trade when buying from abroad? Pictures of African workers picking cocoa beans move our hearts, but then we go straight out and buy the cheapest milk we can in a huge plastic flagon, indifferent to the fact that the dairy farmers are producing it at a loss.
We take it for granted that the EU with its Common Agricultural Policy will look after farmers. In fact, it spends a vast amount of money in creating a total mess. The reason why our trade with non-EU countries is often Unfair Trade is that the EU puts up barriers. When looking at the high prices in my local Fair Trade shop in Headington, set up by Christians, I often have to say that I cannot afford them, but I feel I have done my best for Fair Trade by voting UKIP. The EU's tariff barriers and non-tariff-barriers are probably doomed (like the entire EU) because there is a World Trade Organization and it is gradually pushing its powers and declaring all protectionist schemes unacceptable.
While many farmers are subsidized, others cannot even make a bare living and more and more run at a loss. This is barmy. We pay £50 million per day in EU membership contributions, then we begrudge paying farmers a few pennies more for a pint of milk, just to cover the production costs. Yes I said PINT. Not 568ml. Denounce me, fine me. Send me gaol!
For at least twenty years I have bought my milk from doorstep delivery companies. It costs more (and I am not in a high income bracket I assure you) but it means that the producers can get a fair price for it. Supermarkets regard cheap milk as a "loss-leader", luring you in to make you buy other things. But no cows can live on air and that loss-leader mentality means farmers will just pack up their business. What then? Will we be able to import milk from abroad? Will we have to buy UHT milk from Poland? Probably. If there are any cows in Poland. And if you don't mind paying for the transport.
At my old address I got milk deliveries from the Co-op. Now I get them from a company called Milk and More.
It costs 64p a pint but it is delivered to your door and I think it is well worth it, especially as you can get a long list of other things delivered at the same time. In this hot weather I ask them to leave the bottles inside a cardboard box to shade them from the sun. You can get organic milk or cream delivered too.
If people thought more about Fair Trade here at home, our British farmers might stand a decent chance.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Furious Gays Call Each Other Extremist, Intolerant and Hateful

"Extremist, intolerant, hateful bile" is just one of the typical accusations thrown around by gays at each other on the website Pink News.
What started as an article about the Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv last month degenerated into a slanging match of Olympic standard. "Sickening...disgraceful...ashamed ....uncaring airheads...sheer hypocrisy...." were among the milder terms.
An Irish reader named Paddy kicked off with: "This disgraceful story and the reaction to it by people supposedly concerned about rights, Gay or otherwise, is sickening. What about basic Human Rights of the Palestinian people? It makes me ashamed to call myself a gay man and to be associated with such uncaring airheads."
He called the Israeli gays "A few dozen pampered Israeli queens" who "mince about in Tel Aviv," and he went on, "What the phuc is the matter with you people. Children are starving and dying in Gaza while all you can think about is a what amounts to a meat market in Tel Aviv….. Y’all should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves. Some I am not surprised at but there are one or two who have disappointed me greatly and you know who you are……Shame on you all…...Frankly you don’t deserve the air you breathe."

After that, the conversation got a little heated. One reader announced that Israel "flaunts Human Rights of Millions……" (presumably meaning flouts?) Several contributors said that they would call the reportage "pinkwashing", a neologism which apparently suggests that gay versions of events may sometimes be suspected of bias. Put it in your vocabulary books, children.
Paddy was accused of being a "a well-disguised racist" and another reader, named Gary, advised, "“you should take your head out of your ass, excuse me, you arse, and learn before you type some garbage that you clearly know nothing about.” This prompted Alon to write: “please keep it civil, even if you’re full of hate.
Samuel B. wrote, “It is often said on here that gay men can be incredibly self-obsessed, naive and ignorant – or deliberately blind – to inconvenient truths.”
I wonder where he gets that idea?

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

See the Pyramids While They're Still There


If you ever wanted to go and see the pyramids, don't delay because they may not be there forever.
The familiar site of the triangular mountains of stone in the Egyptian desert is something we take for granted. They were listed as among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Along with Cleopatra and Tutankhamun, they are synonymous with Egypt and part of its identity. Agatha Christie went there and set one of her most famous Hercule Poirot mystery stories there: Death on the Nile. Egpyt without the pyramids would be like Pimms without ice. But it is by no means certain that these tombs of the Pharaohs will always be there for any of us to go and see. Yes, they provide a huge tourist attraction but there are people to whom economic arguments are not paramount. Now that the Arab Spring has brought Islamic fundamentalists to power in Egypt, a big question mark hangs over the massive triangular mountains of stone.

When a devout Sheikh from Bahrain sent a message to the new Egyptian government asking them if and when they intended to pull down the pyramids, he was not just an isolated eccentric. The Egyptian Salafi party has long advocated getting rid of them or, ludicrously, covering them with wax (which in those temperatures might not last 24hours) The destruction of all pre-Islamic and non-Islamic buildings and monuments is actually a tenet of Islam and is orthodox. Allowing them to remain is classified as "haram" i.e. deadly sin, That's why the amazing ancient Buddhist cliff carvings at Bamiyan in Afghanistan were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. They regarded these ancient statues of Buddha as "idols" not as works of art or cultural monuments. They did not give a damn that some Westerners had labelled Bamiyan a World Cultural Heritage site, but blew up the whole lot using dynamite.

The same thing is happening right now in Mali with the the ancient temples and tombs of the city of Timbuktu. Yes, Timbuktu really exists, it is not just a word in a nursery rhyme, but very soon it might as well never have existed because its archeological monuments are being systematically dismantled and destroyed by Islamic fanatics of the Ansar Dine party. Ansar Dine is not terribly impressed by the fact that Unesco has designated these things Grade A heritage priorities. What is Unesco? Is it in the Koran? Ah, well, in that case...

It is recorded that earlier Muslim rulers of Egypt made many attempts to demolish the pyramids, and left scars on them but lacked the logistical capability to annihilate them. With the advance of science, that capability is now not in doubt. Doubtless a small nuclear device would do the trick.

I very much hope that all these reports turn out to be sensational hoaxes put about by rabid Islamophobics who have nothing better to do than organize a press conspiracy. [Don't forget to call them racist.] But just in case, just to be on the safe side, I think I will nip over to Egypt pretty soon and have a squint at the pyramids. After all, you never know.

Monday, 23 July 2012

How We Are Helping the Greeks

A friend of mine fell ill in Greece lately, and had to be taken to hospital.
He was taken to a hospital in Athens where he was given extensive emergency treatment. Greece has quite a few smart modern-looking hospitals built in the palmy days when they were getting generous subsidies from the EU, and thought their prosperity would go on forever. Unfortunately they now have no money, very few drugs, and a dwindling supply of equipment and necessities. Nothing can be repaired as they have no money. Lights and heating cannot be turned on as they can't pay the bills and in many cases they have been cut off. State-of-the-art computers and sophisticated devices cannot be utilized because there is no electricity and even washing the sheets is posing a problem.
Treatment on the Greek National Health service used to be free, but now under the EU austerity policy you have to pay for every hour and every procedure. Every drug and every day you are in there means a bill for the patient. It doesn't matter that you pay your taxes, you still have to pay for NHS treatment as if you were a private patient. Luckily my friend had taken out travel insurance that covered all this.
More than anything else, they are short of staff. Doctors, nurses and other health service workers are all facing cuts in their salaries and a rocketing cost of living. The result naturally is an exodus from the country. Greeks who have good qualifications are getting on planes and boats and going almost anywhere else in the world where they can hope to get a job. Soon the only people left in the country will be the unqualified, the old and the refugees from North Africa.
On the wall of the hospital my friend actually saw a poster advertising for Greek doctors and nurses to go to the UK. It was actively recruiting medical staff to go and work in England, in the NHS, leaving Greece in its hour of desperate suffering and Greek people to die uncared-for. It pointed out that under the EU laws of free movement of people, they did not need to get any permission or screening. They would not be subjected to a language test and they could start work the day they arrived. We are supposed to be helping them by handing over more and more £billions in bail-outs, and all the time we are busy poaching their medical staff and reducing them to the level of a Third-World country.
When will people here wake up and realize that the policy of completely unhindered movement of labour is not exactly an unmixed blessing? Possibly the day after they realize that to question it is nothing to do with "racism".
Few British people understand that the real reason our government has to close the Remploy businesses and takeaway the livelihood and dignity of disabled people, is that Remploy is against EU regulations. The EU sternly forbids government subsidies on the grounds that this is unfair competition. So the Remploy workers who want to earn a living and not be merely dependent on the dole are being made unemployed. The same stupid pointless rules are destroying our mail services and a long list of other things.
If the Greeks only had the guts to leave the Euro currency zone and the EU itself they could end the regime of austerity and get back democratic control of their own country. At the moment it is being utterly destroyed.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Squabbling Gays Call Each Other Bizarre Bigots.

It seems that the LGBT group of Oxford University students has broken down in disarray. Quarrelling, squabbling and insulting each other acrimoniously, they have fallen apart as a group and are incapable of running the expected calendar of termly events.
"Bigoted" and "bizarre" are among the names that gay students are throwing at each other on the LGBT website, where mutual intolerance is much in evidence, indeed it is rife. One student Alex Brahmham writes, "As one of the University’s largest and most important societies, LGBTQ, has crumbled down to only the core that depend on it and it’s time to ask why students have turned away."
He describes the mentality of the people who form these groups: "The closed cliquey dynamic equips those involved with an artificial sense of security and a bizarre expectation for this language to propagate outside the group. Suddenly anyone with differing opinions is the enemy and a threat to the precious safe space. These people are the real bigots."
He mocks their affected language and their determination to censor and suppress the free expression of others: "spouting words like ‘patriachy’, ‘genderqueer’, ‘ex-gay’ and every -ism and -phobia under the sun. Other words are either deleted or appropriated, like ‘queer’ and ‘slut’, and the new language is policed to a 1984 Orwellian level." He even questions their fundamental attitude that they are still victims and have nothing positive to be grateful for: "The University has a clear harassment code in place, and with good reason, but the ‘safe space’ bigots seek to overwrite this with their own code of conduct and procedures, which are ultimately poorly executed. Why must we gather to discuss negative aspects of our identities when there are so many positive aspects to celebrate?"
An anonymous student adds, "Regardless of the safe space issue, the lgbtq society committee has stranded its members this term. It has disabled posting-rights on their (our) facebook page, removing any possibility of spontaneous organisation, then only tabled half the usual number of events for Trinity."
The complaint adds, "I would have far more time for the professional offence takers if they did more (or even anything) to actually make lgbtq students’ lives easier in some way. If they think that it’s important to support the most marginalised then that’s fine, but I don’t see why they have to do that INSTEAD of holding weekly drinks events. There is no point at all in having high-minded abstract values if you cannot translate them into any tangible benefit for anyone who is lgbtq in Oxford."
He goes on, "I completely agree that whether or not it is offensive to be called a “girl” is a completely trivial issue.I hope that the president, whoever it is next term, has a better sense of priority than these clowns."
Tom Oakley explains, "Let’s be very clear: the in-fighting started when an 18-year-old female undergraduate objected to the use of the word ‘girls’ to describe other female undergraduates. Cue influx of people broadly accusing everyone else of transphobia, and lots of unpleasantness. People started accusing other people of doing stuff they hadn’t done, and of saying things they never actually said."
Dear oh dear, what a surprise. This is the same student group that so hysterically attacked UKIP candidate Julia Gasper for defending the traditional definition of marriage, and labelled her a "gay-hater". It seems they can't get on with anyone!


Thursday, 19 July 2012

U-turn Clegg Gives Jobs to His Cronies

We are told that the unemployment figures in this country are finally going down, and the government wants to take credit.
It's not all the Olympics, you know, although there are a few - just a few! - legal and British workers in the figures there. It's mainly caused by Nick Clegg spending £900,000 on fourteen personal advisors. Yes, they are paid more than £70,000 p.a. on average and all out of public funds. One of them Jonny Oates, gets £98,000!
In 2009 Mr Clegg said that political advisors should be regarded as the employees of their political party, not the state. Now he helps himself to public money for fourteen advisors and it all comes out of our taxes.
Most of these advisors probably have Libdem sympathies and there is nothing to prevent them making a large donation out of their salaries to the funds of the Libdem party. The money would be making a rather short journey from the public treasury straight into Clegg's funds for the next election, and all perfectly legal.

This is what I wrote about Clegg in April 2010 when I warned students not to believe his promises about tuition fees:-
With only a few days to go till the election it is vital to make all students aware that there is only one party that wants to abolish tuition fees immediately (not in the dim and distant future) and knows how to fund its promises too.
Oxford Brookes has invited Nick Clegg to speak tomorrow yet Clegg is a crook and a sham.
He's accepted £3.5 million in illegal donations to the Libdems and he brazened it out completely on TV Channel 4 to Jon Snow denying any wrongdoing. The donations came from tax-dodgers, non-domiciled citizens and people who got the money by criminal means. Don't let a man with only 5 years experience of being an MP and no ministerial experience at all, become prime minister because he is good at telling lies.
He has changed his mind about a referendum on EU membership, on Trident and on countless other things. You can't trust a word he says. The Libdems are notorious for expenses fiddling. They claimed everything from biscuits to a trouser-press on expenses.

The promise-breaking, the U-turns, the untrustworthiness.
Clegg's ratings on a graph look like the Big Slide in a kid's swimming-pool - whooosh, and down we go!
I wonder what £900,000 worth of advice looks like. No chance it will say "Get lost" I suppose.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Well Done, Baroness Cox

Caroline Cox is certainly one of the heroines of our time.
While most politicians are just up there for the money, the fat pensions and the freebies, she has spent her life slogging around some of the world's most dangerous and violent countries - including Burma, Nigeria and Sudan - doing her utmost for Human Rights.
After campaigning to raise £100,000 from Evangelical Churches, Baroness Cox, who is now 75, went to the Sudan and used it to recover and free over 2,000 slaves. She has used her training as a nurse and sociologist to work for disability charities world-wide and now she is bringing a bill in the House of Lords, the Arbitration and Mediation Services Equality Bill, to limit the power of Sharia courts in Britain in order to protect women.

Of Sharia law, she says, "The fundamental problem in the Sharia system is that it totally favours the man. I've mentioned divorce and child custody. As far as domestic violence is concerned, I've spoken to many women who have been seriously abused and they've gone to the Sharia council/Sharia court and they've just been told to go back and live with their husband again and give him a second chance. There is no protection order, no constraining order and I have spoken to quite a lot of women who have suffered that."

An idiotic website called "Islamophobia Watch" has made out that Baroness Cox must have some sinister motive for doing this. In fact, they say that to claim she is interested in "human rights" is "laughable".
In case you don't see what is so laughable about it, Baroness Cox is a co-founder of The International Islamic Christian Organisation for Reconciliation and Reconstruction. Hilarious isn't it?
She also is the founder and CEO of an organisation called the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust and in its cause she has travelled to Nagorno Karabagh, East and West Burma, East Timor, India, Nigeria, southern Sudan and northern Uganda. Ludicrous, isn't it? Are you all laughing?

If you still can't see the joke, spare a thought for Shiria Khatun, a Muslim woman and local councillor in Tower Hamlets, who got threatening phone calls from the local menfolk when she went out not wearing a burka. Threats were made not only against her, but also her four young children. "In one they warned they would dig up Shiria's parents’ graves and bury her there instead."
Jolly good laugh isn't it? Only a very strange person would imagine there was any "human rights" issue there.



Sunday, 15 July 2012

Work in Progress

If you were doing a job on a water-pipe underneath the road, don't you think it would be a good idea to start it on a Friday afternoon, and cordon off the entire width of the road so that cars can't get through?
Park a massive great JCB on it, with a pile of a couple of tons of sand, and attach a selection of signs to the barriers, advertising your company. Then go off for the weekend leaving the job unfinished and the road blocked until Monday morning. Great idea isn't it? After all, the people in the cars that arrive between Friday evening and Monday morning can all just turn around and drive around the block, can't they - what are they complaining about?
That's just what has happened here in Trinity Road this weekend, which happens to be the weekend of the church fete. Very helpful. Never mind, there is some good news. One of the many bollards placed along the pavement by the meddling council has been bashed right over and dislodged from the ground, presumably by a heavy vehicle that wouldn't have been coming up that way except for the fact that the other end of the road was cordoned off. It's an ill wind...

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

EU Funds Forced Abortions in China

>>>What the hell is the EU doing funding family planning services in China?
Can't China pay for its own social programmes?
Did you know that some of your £50 million per day paid to the EU goes on subsidizing the Chinese government's state-enforced birth control edicts which include carrying out thousands of forced abortions per year?
"Family planning" is something of an Orwellian euphemism when it really means forcing women who are seven, eight or nine months pregnant to kill their slightly premature baby. This is "family planning" without choice for the women, and it is enforced with the utmost brutality.
In June this year the case of Feng Jianmei found its way into the Western media. A married woman who got pregnant with her second child, she was unable to pay the massive fine for transgressing the one-child policy. So Chinese "reproductive health officials" came to her home in the ninth month, and forcibly injected her with chemicals that killed the baby. She then gave birth to the child and was photographed lying beside it, shocked and in a pool of blood. This hideous case finally drew attention to the injustice that is being carried out with EU help and EU money.


There are plenty of sources within China who confirm that there is nothing unusual about Feng Jianmei's case. Thousands of similar forced abortions are carried out all over China each year and most of the women are also forcibly sterilised at the same time.
Now two Polish MEPs have taken up the cause and are campaigning against this unacceptable practice. Alojz Peterle and Anna Záborská have tabled a resolution condemning the practice and questioning why we pay for it.

>>>BUT why did we ever pay for it? How mad is the EU system that takes our money here, leaving us to suffer cuts and austerity, while squandering funds on foreign "aid" of such dubious and negative kinds?
Truly the EU is the biggest machine for waste and rotten government ever invented.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Batty or What?

I went to a meeting of the local Parish Council yesterday.
Some of the items on the agenda looked a bit surprising, for instance a Risk Report on the local Allotments. What is going on at the allotments? Terrorist attacks? People growing crops of illegal narcotics? Clearly allotments are more dangerous than I realized.
And then a whole discussion about the problems of cutting down a dangerous tree at the edge of a playing field.
Why does it take a whole Parish Council to decide when and how to cut down a dangerous tree? Well, this particular tree can't just be cut down because it has bats breeding in it. Bats being a protected species, you can't kill them, move them or disturb them in the slightest way that could make them even the teeny-weeniest-little bit upset. It is actually a criminal offence to destroy any bat habitat or obstruct access to it, even when not occupied. Not even a court can evict them.
A bat's house is its castle.
It is a criminal offence to "Possess or advertise/sell/exchange a bat (dead or alive) or any part of a bat". So don't batter a bat. Don't think you can bump off a few bats, then sell their toenails one by one on E-bay. Don't make batwing soup. Don't try to swop a bat for a budgerigar, or advertise dead-bat trading evenings. You could end up in gaol.
In fact, the maximum fine is £5,000 per bat and as some roosts contain hundreds of bats, you could face a million pound fine for pulling down the roost of what the Germans call a "flying mouse".
However, if caught with a captive bat in your possession, you might wish to plead mitigating circumstances and these include:-
"Tending/caring for a bat solely for the purpose of restoring it to health and subsequent release, or,
Mercy killing where there is no reasonable hope of recovery (provided that person did not cause the injury in the first place - in which case the illegal act has already taken place)."
So if you find a poor injured bat and offer it shelter, but despite your best efforts and those of top surgeons, it is still in terrible agony, and never going to recover to live a normal bat existence, you may take out your shotgun, and end the creature's suffering.
In America you are allowed to use sonic devices to scare bats away and regain possession of your own home, but even that is illegal in Britain. There are various steps you can take if you need to carry out work in a place where there are bats. You have to apply for a special licence. To get this you have to have inspections carried out by qualified bat experts. Each inspection costs hundreds of pounds. Meanwhile the old hollow tree could fall down and injure somebody, but hell, they're not a bat so who cares?
To all intents and purpose, bats are sacred.
If bats took up their abode in the Olympic stadium we would have to cancel the Olympics.
Batty or what?!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

One of Those Grey Areas

Some may remember this summer for its deluvian weather and the melancholy wash-out of most social functions. We are going to have the worst fruit harvest in living memory because of the late frost.
Others may remember it as a depressed year when there was no good news about anything - from sport to the economy.
I will remember it as the year of the grey car. For some time now, everybody has been buying grey cars. Some of them may be called "silver" or "slate" or even "graphite" but they are basically grey. Whether they're Vauxhall or Volkswagon, Ford or Fiat, Porsche or Peugeot, Audi, Toyota or Volvo, the vast majority of newish cars on the road are now grey. It is a boring non-colour that expresses our national mood of dullness, depression and resignation.
Have we got chromophobia?
When you look for your car in a car park these days you are confronted by a vista of grey, grey and grey. It looks like an old black and white film from the 1930s. It is very confusing and I can't see the point of it. I like cars to be all different bright colours, preferably with jolly patterns painted all over them to make a statement. If all the cars on the road are the same colour, it makes it harder to identify a vehicle for any purpose. You can be standing waiting for somebody to turn up and you think, "Ah, there's a grey car, it must be them," but there are twenty other grey cars.
There must be many situations when a grey car is less visible than a brightly coloured one and therefore more dangerous. In poor light, mist, heavy rain or snow, a grey car blends into the background and that's inviting accidents.
I hope this phase passes soon. I want to see cars in cheerful shades of blue, green, white, yellow, red and violet, and people driving them with a smile on their faces.