Wednesday, 31 August 2011

On yer bike!

Yesterday I was watching a rerun of Francesco’s Italy, a charming programme following the journey of Francesco da Mosta around his home country. Last night he reached Naples. The busy streets were packed with mopeds and pushbikes. No one was wearing a crash helmet and often there were three to a bike or even young children riding on the crossbar of the pushbikes. As far as I could tell, no one was injured and the population of Naples hasn’t been decimated by this cavalier attitude to road safety.

Contrast this with the news that a father of a two-year-old boy was fined £200 for carrying his son on a crossbar seat on his bicycle in Burton, Staffordshire. The seat was bolted to the crossbar and further fastened using duct tape. The child was wearing a cycle helmet. Ghulam Murtza was handed a fixed-penalty notice by a police officer for the offence which he duly ripped up and threw on the floor in disgust. He was then handed another fixed penalty notice for littering.

Technically Ghulam was in the wrong as, according to the Highway Code, the bicycle hadn’t been adapted to carry a passenger, although one could argue that as the seat was bolted to the cycle frame, it was an adaptation. At court Ghulam was fined £100 for the cycling offence, £85 costs and the pathetic £15 victim surcharge that automatically gets slapped on any fine in this country, just so a bunch of quangocrats can enjoy fat pensions and gilded salaries by pretending to care about crime.

Meanwhile, cycling groups throughout the country are supportive of people being able to carry children on bicycles, as we’re all supposed to be going green and reducing our carbon footprints by using cars less.

However, the most chilling aspect of the story for me was the Orwellian weaselspeak from Chief Inspector Phil Fortun, commander of East Staffordshire Local Policing Team, which covers Burton. He said: 'It is our duty to protect people and ensure the safety of the communities we serve.

‘The bicycle was not made to carry a child in that way and officers took action to protect the young child from potential injury or worse, should the bike have been involved in a collision. The bike's owner was well-meaning in his efforts, but misguided with regards to the safety of himself and his son. Road safety is a priority for Staffordshire Police and we will continue to take the necessary action to keep all road users safe.’

They're only doing it to keep us safe. They could have had a quiet word with Ghulam if they really felt it was their business, but no... far easier to get the fixed-penalty ticket book out.

Makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it? Which way is Naples?

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Make your mind up

Barely more than a week ago the liberal-minded citizens of Hampstead and other leafy enclaves of progressive thinking were demanding that rubber bullets and tear gas be used to quell rioters and stop total anarchy sweeping the nation. Fast forward a week and some 3000 miscreants have been arrested and hauled up before the beak. Exemplary sentences are being handed down in order to show how serious society takes the matter of civil disorder. The courts have been sitting around the clock and magistrates have discovered that they do in fact have a backbone if the Department of Justice tells them they can impose tough sentences.

The latest hardline sentence to be handed down from the Crown Courts is a prison term of four years for two boneheaded youths who posted details of a riot they wanted to start, using Facebook. The riot which never happened thanks to the apathy of the good people of Northwich, was advertised on Facebook by the two youths with a time and a place for the mayhem being suggested. The two chaps who clearly are a little bit short changed in the intelligence department didn't even disguise their identity and so plod was able to track them down after members of the public became alarmed at a mob uprising in the commuter belt of Cheshire.

So now the two young men are starting a four-year sentence for inciting riot and already the good people of Hampstead are wringing their hands and muttering that the courts have been too harsh and that this is wholly disproportionate. The depressing thing is the inability of the liberal elite to make the connection with their softness and unwillingness to make examples of wrongdoers with the riots that broke out a week before. They seem totally unable to connect the two. It's no wonder we have so many problems when the great and the good that still largely run this country are so prone to panic and so quick to reverse their hardline views once the moment of danger has passed. No wonder our young people are confused about what behaviour is and isn't acceptable.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Yobbery knows no age or class

There's a marvellous piece in today's Telegraph by Peter Oborne pointing out how moral decay has set in to our society at its so-called top end as much as at the bottom. The article perfectly captures the sod-you attitude that seems to pervade our sick society. I got a taste of this for myself on Wednesday during a routine visit to the hospital...

I was due for an appointment at my local hospital's physiotherapy department. Fortunately there's a car park for people who are disabled and who can't walk very far to get to the hospital. As you'd expect, many of the people who visit the hospital are disabled and have a disabled parking badge. They vary in the severity of their disability and the demand for spaces is high. For this reason I set off early and arrived with at least 35 minutes to spare before my appointment.

I joined the queue of cars waiting for a space and turned my engine off. A couple of minutes later a car drove past me and the car in front and took a space that was being vacated. As you can imagine, I was incensed. I wasn't bothered about waiting I was just really angry that someone should  jump the queue... let's face it, until recently, jumping a queue is just about the worst thing you can do in Britain.

I got out of my car and walked with some effort over to the car driver who had just stuck two fingers up at the rest of us waiting for a space.

"Excuse me... What do you think you're doing?" I asked the rather prim and austere-looking woman who was doing her utmost to avoid my gaze as she rooted around for a wheelchair in the back of her car.

"I'm late for my mother's appointment," she said as if that was some sort of an explanation. I looked at the woman to try to see whether it was worth reasoning with her. She wasn't tattoed or pierced; she didn't look like she was a member of the much maligned underclass. She was (and I'd bet at least £200 on this) a retired school teacher in her late 50s.

"We're all waiting for a space and we all have appointments," I said.

"Well I had nowhere to park and I was blocking the road waiting for a space," she reasoned with a hefty helping of irritation in her voice.

I tried to explain that what she'd done was unfair and she just huffed and puffed and kept repeating that she was late and hadn't been willing to wait in the queue. I got nowhere with her and, in the end, just told her she was no better than a rioter.

"Oh get over it!" she snapped at me before marching off, pushing her mother in a wheelchair that she'd just pulled out from the car.

That woman was the epitome of the nasty, snarling and snappy middle class sense of entitlement that's every bit as ugly and selfish as the looters of London. Is it any wonder that the young look at the selfish ways of some of the baby boomer generation and take their cue from them?

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Time for change

Last night’s rioting in London and elsewhere in the UK was truly shocking. It wasn’t just shocking to see the devastation, the burning buildings and the total lack of public order, but it was shocking to see kids as young as 10 motivated to get out on to the streets to steal things as shallow as a new pair of trainers, a bigger plasma tv or the latest smartphone. Is that really the pinnacle of this generation’s aspirations? To get their hands on some tacky gadgetry! Is that what it’s worth smashing up your community for?

What really concerns me is the potential for further unrest and violence. If this is what these very young individuals are capable of at such a young age, what on earth are they going to be doing in ten years’ time? Ten years during which they will have gained little or no meaningful education, virtually no engagement with their communities and zero prospect of employment. This is surely a social menace waiting to happen.

And how has it come to this? How have we managed to create a society where pockets of people have no interest or respect for the place they live? How have we managed to produce a generation that’s happy to defile its own doorstep?

Part of the problem must surely be the chronic overcrowding of our cities; the transient populations and the breakneck speed of immigration that mean successive waves of newcomers have had little time to put down sustainable roots. We live in an age where many people don’t know their neighbours and have little wish to do so. The tyranny of multiculturalism which has created ghettos rather than communities may have been well-meaning, but the failure to create a cohesive society where everyone speaks a single language and shares a common standard of ethics and behaviour has brought us to the point where our streets are burning, shops are being looted and the vast silent majority is afraid to venture out from behind their heavily barred and locked front doors. This is no way to live. Something has to change.

We now need leaders with vision, optimism and hope. People who can take their snouts out of the trough for more than five minutes and who can help us build a more decent place in which to live; where those with courtesy and concern for their communities are rewarded and encouraged. It’s surely time for change.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Total bull

Long-time readers will know that I have a healthy disrespect for authority and an intolerance to bullying and overbearing officialdom. Imagine then how much I enjoyed receiving this from my friend Sam.

A Drugs Enforcement Administration officer stopped by at a ranch in Texas  and talked with an old rancher.

He told the rancher: "I need to inspect your ranch for illegally grown drugs."

The rancher replied: "Okay… but whatever you do don't go in that field over there," as he pointed to the field behind the officer.

The DEA official verbally exploded and screamed: "Mister… I have the authority of the Federal Government with me!"

He reached into his rear trouser pocket and removed his badge and shoved it under the rancher’s nose.

"See this badge? This badge means I’m allowed to go wherever I want… on any land I like! No questions asked or answers given! Have I made myself absolutely clear? Do you understand?"

The rancher nodded politely, apologized, and went about his chores.

A short time later the old rancher heard some loud screams. He looked up, and saw the DEA officer running for his life and being chased by the rancher's big Santa Gertrudis bull.

With every step the bull was gaining ground on the officer, and it seemed likely that the official would be gored before he reached safety. The officer was clearly terrified.

The rancher threw down his tools, ran to the fence and yelled at the top of his lungs…

"Your badge! Show him your BADGE!"

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Get a life!

Another day… and yet another slagging-off story about the BBC’s Top Gear motoring tv programme, courtesy of The Daily Mail. Now, I know Jeremy Clarkson can be a boorish buffoon at times but he’s undeniably funny and a breath of fresh air in the stultifying tyranny of political correctness that we’re subjected to in this country. Since when did people start having their funny bones removed? Has the whole country lost its sense of humour?

The latest nonsense from the Top Gear knockers involves the latest episode of the show, which was screened on Sunday evening. Presenters James May and Jeremy Clarkson were testing electric cars and in a very informative feature explained many of the drawbacks of these ridiculously impractical milk floats. Part of the film showed the evil pair discussing their findings. But rather than parking in normal parking bays, the diabolical duo parked in spaces reserved for disabled people - causing 'a storm of protest' from disabled motoring groups who said it was 'typical' of Clarkson.

Cue the demented rantings of complete nitwits with a humour bypass castigating ‘the evil Clarkson’. According to The Daily Mail: "It was as they stepped out of their cars - with Clarkson and May even standing on top of a disabled road marking - that shocked viewers realised they had parked in disabled bays."

Now the Mail doesn’t make it clear how many of these viewers were shocked, or how much medical attention they required following such a heinous crime. I'm more likely to believe that some bone idle journalist noticed the faux pas and decided to call up some professional offence takers who would supply a suitable quote to beat Clarkson with. The Mail clearly has it in for the overgrown schoolboy.

Clearly having sucked on a very unripe lemon, Jim Rawlings, of Disabled Motoring UK, was quoted in the article saying that he was sure that Clarkson 'wouldn't have cared' about parking up in a disabled bay. He said: ‘I'm sure the last thing on Jeremy Clarkson's mind was that he was parked in a disabled bay.’

Yes, Jim… and you’d know exactly what was going on in Jezza’s head, wouldn’t you?

He went on to say: 'The abuse of non-disabled people parking in disabled bays is rife, and with people like Jeremy Clarkson and James May doing this other motorists will just think they can just park wherever they like.

'People who are patently not disabled, like Clarkson and May, obviously didn't have a passing care that a disabled person might have needed those spaces.

'I'm sure Jeremy Clarkson especially would not feel contrite about parking in a disabled bay - it shows a lack of feeling and care and a total lack of compassion.'

Peter Lyne, of the Disabled Motorists Foundation, said it was 'extremely frustrating' watching non-disabled people park in disabled parking bays.

Clearly both Peter and Jim aren’t getting out often enough in their Motability chariots; certainly not often enough to get a reasonable perspective on life.

A Top Gear spokesman said: "Top Gear does not condone the misuse of disabled parking bays. The programme had permission from the owners of the car park to use the bays for a short period of time to enable filming to take place unhindered, and members of the production team were with the cars at all times. There were other disabled spaces available, and of course had anyone needed to park in one of the spaces occupied by Top Gear, we would have moved immediately."

Technically, I am a disabled motorist (although I don’t feel the need to belong to Disabled Motoring UK or the Disabled Motorist’s Foundation in order to drive my car) and I found the Top Gear item hugely amusing and wasn't offended in the slightest. Shame on The Daily Mail for this nonsensical piece of 'journalism' and as for the disabled motorists... they haven’t got a leg to stand on!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Hello again

Thank you for the lovely messages asking me to post again and to give you an update on how I'm faring. Things are going pretty well on the health front. My broken leg has finally fused and is now a single piece after two years of being 'non union'... I presume I can expect it to go on strike fairly soon now that it is 'union'.

The bad news is that I've lost nearly five centimetres of my leg left which means that I now walk round in circles unless I wear my special shoes to level me up. Now the long slog back to work begins. I am hoping to make another tv programme but these things take such an unbelievably long time to commission and arrange but I'm hoping something will turn up. In the meantime I need to turn my efforts to getting back to my writing and broadcasting work. It's not the easiest sector to get back into, particularly in the depths of stagflation, but I'm hopeful.

As far as the hospital food campaign goes, I managed to collect just over 4000 signatures for my petition which was sent to the Health Secretary. Unfortunately no reply from the government even though they've had it for five months. I suppose that tells us how important nutrition is to the people who manage our health service. It's probably time for me to embarrass the Health Secretary but I thought I'd wait until he started his holidays. Doesn't do any harm to keep them on their toes once they've departed for the beach.

I'll let you know what happens.