Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye 2006 and hello.................................

to 2007.

My last post on this forum for 2006.

See you all in a few hours time!

Pandora's Box

Just come across this brilliant site at Dr Simon Moore's Zentelligence blog. "Pandora" presents you with a way of choosing your favourite records. Basically, you're in control.

Seems a great new way of listening to your favourite music.

Radio broadcasters beware!

Papa`s Got a Brand New Bag

From 1966. What a performer!

James Brown - I Feel Good

This video is doing the rounds in the Blogosphere at the mo.

Balkan Bottoms

Once again I feel compelled to copy & paste from Richard North's site. This time the subject is the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EUssr Club.

At midnight tonight, with the dawn of the New Year, Romania and Bulgaria join the European Union, bringing it to 27 members. But that means more than them joining a cosy little club. It means that Romanians and Bulgarians have the right to enter our country. They do not, as yet, have a right to work here – unless they are self-employed – but who is checking?

It does mean, though, that their governments become part of our government. Romania and Bulgaria will supply officials, high and low, to the EU commission, which makes decisions on how we in England are required to run our affairs. Their ministers join the Council of Ministers, which decides which laws are adopted, and their heads of government become members of the European Council – and decide on "European" political strategy. For that privilege, we also pay several more billions into the kitty.

The funny thing is, I do not ever remember being asked - not by my government or anyone else - if I wanted Romania and Bulgaria as part of my government, giving their officials the right to decide on the laws that affect me. And do I mind? Hell yes! I do mind, very much indeed.

Accordingly, I will not be welcoming the latest new members into the "club". I would sooner they and all the rest celebrated our departure from it. In the meantime, they can - as the song goes - stick their blue flags up their .....

..........................Balkan bottoms?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Boring, boring accountants

This has recently been posted on "Gaping Void's Blog"

I like the bit about website. It's so true, all those professional firms out there making "a difference".

The "Nobody Cares" Manifesto For Accountants

* It's important to remember debits are on the left and credits on the right - nobody cares. Probably because the system was invented in 1494 and hasn't changed since.

* We work hard to earn letters behind our names - nobody cares. Importance isn't derived from academic achievement but what you do for others.

* ROI is an important concept - nobody cares. ROI calculations are something you do when you really don't want to help your client but to demonstrate to him/her how important you are. For which read 2.

* It's important to keep good records - nobody cares. Clients aren't in business to be administrators. If you can't figure out how to help clients then expect to be outsourced. Probably the day after tomorrow.

* A tidy office implies a tidy mind - nobody cares. A tidy mind is often compartmentalised to the point of tunnel vision. You don't see tidy at the edge of innovation. Which is where you should be when your clients come up with great ideas.

* Professionals should always wear top quality suits - nobody cares. How you look may be important if your name's Anina but it sure as heck doesn't matter when you're traipsing around a pig farm. You do that occasionally don't you?

* Your professional status among the community demonstrates integrity - nobody believes you. Professional status is over-rated. Those schmuks from KPMG in court on fraud charges sorted that one out once and for all.

* Adding value is the most important thing you have to do - nobody believes you. Clients can read a 1,000 websites and see that same vacuuous statement. Stuff your website with client stories, preferably written by clients and not some PR outfit.

6 things in 2007 - My Prophecies

1. The "cash for honours" row peaks in February/March.

2. Hezbollah will attack Israel again. (This time Israel will finish the job)

3. Political scandal in Australia.

4. Windows Vista launch unsuccessful.

5. Civil unrest in Iran.

6. Major earthquake in the southern hemisphere.

Iain Dale, Ellee Seymour, James Higham, Eastcliffe Richard, Shasinka, Stephen Pollard, Yid with Lid, Julia Buckley, Dizzy Thinks, Richard North, Chicken Yogurt, Franorama, Rox Populi, Beau Bo D'or,

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Another way to boost your website/blog traffic

Sorry Technorati.

25 peeps, yes 25 peeps is a site where you can post your mugshot. Then the rest of the Blogosphere and web have the opportunity to vote for you to stay there. Get it?

My fingers are firmly crossed and I'm hoping for more traffic here and here.

So as they used to say in Northern Ireland, vote early and vote often.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"The Russians are coming"

Alan Caruba highlights in his latest article how Russia still spies on the USA.

The Russians Have Never Stopped Spying on Us

It is not for nothing that Vladimir Putin, the president of the Russian Republic, is a former member of the KGB. From its earliest days, Soviet Russia maintained a vast army of spies around the world and penetrating the United States remained high on its list of priorities.

In 2001, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Robert Hanssen, a FBI special agent who was a Russian spy, judged to be one of the most damaging moles in U.S. history. As Bill Gertz, a Washington Times reporter, notes in his latest book, "Enemies: How America’s Foes Steal Our Vital Secrets—and How We Let It Happen", "Today, nearly 140 nations and some 35 known and suspected terrorist groups target the United States through espionage, according to intelligence officials."

"Over the past several decades, foreign agents have penetrated every U.S. national security agency except the Coast Guard. That includes the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Department, the State Department, and the Energy Department."

My thoughts turned to espionage as the saga of the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a former member of the KGB’s counterintelligence now known as the Federal Security Service (FSB) unfolded. In 2000, he had fled with his wife and son to Great Britain where he was granted asylum. He became an author and outspoken critic of the Putin regime.

Silencing the enemies of Russian ambitions has a very long history including the famed ghulags of the Stalinist era.

Americans these days are prone to worry about whether the government is listening into their phone conversations, despite repeated confirmations that the National Security Agency is listening to calls from overseas to suspected Islamic terrorists located here. The notion that everyone’s phone calls are being monitored is fairly idiotic given the volume and the utter waste of resources with which to spy on Americans who pose no threat of terrorism.

There was a bit of a flurry of outrage over recent remarks by Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, who suggested that listening in on our enemies, particularly those here in America, was a good idea since they intended to kill us all. Common sense like that always gets liberals atwitter. As some sage noted, the First Amendment is not a suicide pact.

Some lunatic Muslim convert, seized with "Instant Jihad Syndrome", was recently arrested by FBI agents after he confided to informants that he intended to kill a lot of people while they did some Christmas shopping in a mall. Kudos to the FBI.

However, Gertz notes that "The FBI has continually resisted efforts to change, even in the aftermath of the Hanssen case and the September 11 attacks. The need for change applies at all levels, from high-level officials to agents in the field." This is not good news. Indeed, Gertz asserts that, "The FBI has failed to protect its people, its secrets, and U.S. national security."

"Enemies" devotes an entire chapter to "Russia’s Aggressive Espionage" and this included planting a spy in the U.S. Central Command’s warfighting headquarters in Doha, Qatar, where he transmitted the details of the 2003 invasion plans to his controllers who, in turn, gave them to Saddam Hussein.

The two most devastating spy cases in recent times involved Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, both Americans and both of whom were spying for Russia. According to Gertz, "There are as many Russian spies in the United States today as there were during the Cold War." The book also documents Red China’s successful espionage program. ( but where does Gertz get his information?)

There is, in fact, no good news in Gertz’s book. "The CIA’s once-proud Directorate of Operations has been decimated by retirements and low morale. By 2005, the agency had fewer than 1,000 case officers in the field. Many CIA stations had been reduced to single CIA officers who acted as little more than liaison officers with local services."

On the cusp of 2007, this should signal why we probably do not know what Iran is up do. Or North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and a laundry list of nations and non-state groups like al Qaeda that would like to see the greatest experiment in democracy and capitalism come to a nasty end.

(I would have thought that the USA has invested in technology, which, in some cases, may obviate the need for personnel)

And, finally, Americans have just put the power of Congress into the hands of a group of people who would much rather "talk" to our enemies than kill them. Our enemies have no such qualms. As easily as they would kill Alexander Litvinenko, we can look forward to more efforts to encourage America to self-destruct.

(Who knows the real reason behind the death of Litvinenko)

The ancient Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, long ago wrote that the greatest skill in war is to defeat of one’s enemy without firing a shot.

The Center needs your support and will appreciate your donation to help maintain our communications program. If you prefer, send your check or money order to The Caruba Organization, 28 West Third Street, Suite 1321, South Orange, NJ 07079. Thank you!

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Godfather of Soul, James Brown is no more

JAMES BROWN died yesterday. He was 73.

Lyrics from one of his hits "Sex Machine".

Fellas, I'm ready to get up and do my thing (yeah go ahead!)
I wanta get into it, man, you know (go ahead!)
Like a, like a sex machine, man, (yeah go ahead!)
Movin' and doin' it, you know
Can I count it off? (Go ahead)

One, two, three, four!

Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Stay on the scene, (get on up), like a sex machine, (get on up)

Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Stay on the scene, (get on up), like a sex machine, (get on up)

Get up, (get on up)
Stay on the scene, (get on up), like a sex machine, (get on up)

Wait a minute!
Shake your arm, then use your form
Stay on the scene like a sex machine
You got to have the feeling sure as you're born
Get it together, right on, right on.

Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)


Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)

You said, you said you got the,
You said the feeling,
You said the feeling you got to get
You give me the fever 'n' a cold sweat.
The way i like, it is the way it is,
I got mine 'n' don't worry 'bout his

Get up, (get on up)
Stay on the scene, (get on up), like a sex machine, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)

Bobby! Should I take 'em to the bridge?
(Go Ahead!)
Take 'em on to the bridge!
(Take em to the bridge!)
Should I take 'em to the bridge?
Take 'em to the bridge?
(Go Ahead!)
Hit me now!

Come on!

Stay on the scene, like a sex machine!
The way I like it is, is the way it is
I got mine, (dig it!), he got his

Stay on the scene, like a lovin' machine
Stay on the scene, like a lovin' machine
Stay on the scene

I wanna count it off one more time now
(Go ahead!)
You wanna hear it like it did on the top fellas?
Hear it like it did on the top?
Hit it now!

Get on up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get on up, (get on up)

Stay on the scene, (get on up), like a lovin' machine, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)

Taste, (get on up)
Bein', (get on up)
Taste, (get on up)
Bein', (get on up)

Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Stay on the scene, (get on up), like a sex machine, (get on up)

You gotta have the feelin, (get on up)
Sure as you're born, (get on up)

Get it together, right on, right on
right on, right on, (right on, right on)
right on, right on, (right on, right on)
right on, right on, (right on, right on)

Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)

And then, shake your money maker,
Shake your money maker,
Shake your money maker,
Shake your money maker,
Shake your money maker,
Shake your money maker,
Shake your money maker

Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)


Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)
Get up, (get on up)

Can we hit it like we did one more time, from the top
Can we hit like that one more time
(One more time!)
One more time!
Let's hit it and quit! (Go ahead!)
Can we hit it and quit? (Yeah!)
Can we hit it and quit? (Yeah!)
Can we hit it and quit? (Yeah!)
Hit it!

I saw James Brown at Hammersmith about 20 years ago. Great gig.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

"Hello my darlings"

Another one of my childhood comedy heros, Charlie Drake, has left us. Who can ever forget "Mr Poo".

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Heathrow Airport Disaster

So Margate FC pitched up at NotquitesoShortLane this afternoon, hoping to pick up 3 valuable away points against a team called Ashford Town(Middx.) - who actually play in Stanwell not far from that dirty "Ali G" hole - Staines.

Ashford Town (who play in bizarre tangerine & white stripes) have a ground that is situated about 900 yards south of the main runway at Heathrow Airport. Immediately behind one of the goals is a fuel depot(see above pic) and fans can enjoy the whiff of those lovely aircraft exhaust fumes on most match days.
In fact, Ashford's miniscule home fanbase were heard chanting today "we are, we are, we are the negative carbon boys, and if you are a Margate fan can you give us a lift, we need some fresh air, fresh air" or some such bollocks like that.

After a frustrating first half an hour, normal service "resumed" when Danny Hockton smashed home a penalty. Moments earlier he had, himself, been brought down by the Ashford goalie, a slimey individual by the name of Burgess Hill. The bloody ref didn't even book him. Silly sod.

The huge Margate away support, who included Tony T. (See this) , were hoping to enjoy a cup of English Kerosene cancer inducing tea at half-time when the diminutive Ashford winger Scott "Tiny" Nohope somehow meandered between the legs of Justin Skinner then beat a worm before crossing delightfully for one of his colleagues to head home from 2 yards out. Little Scott was on cloud nine as was Burgess Hill, who then insulted a Margate fan by calling him something rather rude. A moment or two later the half-time whistle blew and the side who were sublime against Horsham and Hendon seemed to be out of sorts as they strode back to the dressing noroom.

The second half was more pulsating, as a result, the planes seemed to divert their path a touch so a clearer view of the game could be had - one of benefits of flying Al-Jazeera Airways from London Heathrow. Despite going close on a couple of occasions, kicking towards the "M25 end" in the second-half, Margate had to settle for a 1-1 draw. Not the best preparation before the Boxing Day clash-of-heads at Ramschavgate.

Luckily, there were no serious injuries to any of the Margate team despite playing against the aggressive Ashford Town side, who clearly get their inspiration from their Internet site's Webmaster, Mr Len Wellard!

So it's to be Ramsgate on Boxing Day. The two sides have not meet in a league encounter since the 1972/3 season. ( more on this here)


Air Pollution (Middx.) 1 Margate FC 1

Margate Football Club 2006/07 Season

Of course, we're now top of the league

Friday, December 22, 2006

What are the seven [7] best things you did this past year?

From James Higham........and these are mine

1] Bought a new computer and started blogging.
2] Agreed to trek in Feb 2007 for Breast Cancer Campaign (see my other blog)
3] Got involved in Blogpower with many of you.
4] Moved up the "meedja" ladder.
5] Didn't get another 3 points on my licence.
6] Had a fantastic weekend in Bordeaux in October and survived the Pyrennes in June!
7] Glad I didn't go to the World Cup.

Eastcliffe Richard
Frances Oapen
Dr Simon Moores
Lucy Mail/Ramsgate Tourettes
Julia Buckley
Stephen Pollard
Tim Worstall
Ellee Seymour
Pillage Idiot
Peter Wells' Coffin End Blog
Men are better than women
Onyx Stone
Chase me
Michelle Malkin
Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe
Gates of Vienna
Bel is thinking
The Spine
Petite Anglaise

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Top Tips for Blogging

These were outlined by a charming young lady from Adelaide called Beerli. Her Blog is known as The Talk of the Town.

The charming young lady on the left is supermodel, Kaja Wunder, who's the co-founder of The Button Club.

Ten tips for blogging

1. The length of the post is irrelevant. It’s the content and it’s a bit hard to judge sometimes what will take off. Readers often like different and quirky, but they also like to get stuck into some meatier subjects.

2. Pictures help. Readers react to pictures and it’s often the ones which stir a memory, capture the imagination or make them laugh which get the reactions.

3. One day you will go to your blog and you will feel sick. You will not want to blog. It’s like aversion therapy. Some people delete their blogs or blogs are left hanging in space. Know this will happen, that it feels awful but that it will pass.

4. Blog holidays are good. After a week’s break you come back just popping!

5. Get a stat counter which lets you see who visits. It is so exciting to know that someone has come in from Thailand or Greece. It really cheers you up to know there are people in far flung corners who come to read your blog.

6. Get an RSS feed going. It does improve the traffic.

7. Join places like Blog Lines, Blog Explosion and Blogshares. It gets your blog known, it makes you feel like a somebody and it helps you to create the connections which you wish to make.

8. Some of the best bloggers I have come to value suddenly just stop blogging. It can be very upsetting and you wonder what has happened. Expect to feel attached and be ready for the separation anxiety.

9. Don’t be frightened to ask for help if you don’t know how to do something or what something means. The blogosphere is full of kind , helpful people who do not make you feel stupid.

10. Link away! Ask to link your blog, let others link to you. That network can be crucial at times.

I think this is a useful list of do's for blogging. I also would like to add that Blog templates and the colours used therein are important considerations, particuarly if you are going to be "monetizing" your Blog.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Adsense for Internet Marketing

Google Adsense. If you are thinking about an internet business for your Blog or website and your really in to internet marketing, does Adsense work for you?

Sexy time in Margate!

My new friend in the Blogosphere, Franny Oapen, has just published this post about her firms Xmas bash.

It was held somewhere in Cliftonville. Now I have to tell you when I was a small boy, this sleepy part of Margate wasn't even affected by the Mods and Rockers invasion in 1964, nor the Beatles concert at the Winter Gardens in the previous year. But this is 2006, and the world of Borat and his "sexy time". Partial frontal nudity is now the norm.

How low we've sunk.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Starbucks Silliness in America

(Another beauty from Alan Caruba. This time he highlights whinging Yanks whinging about milk).

Here's a Caruba "extra", a commentary on a recent protest to get Starbucks to use "organic" milk. This kind of thing is part of the vast effort to frighten consumers regarding everything they eat and drink.

The “Organic” Milk Scam Continues

By Alan Caruba

On December 5 some Starbucks customers in New York and Washington, D.C., two major media centers, could look up from their double lattes and see a small group of idiots dressed up as cows protesting outside their favorite bistro. Unfortunately for the protesters, the media ignored their valiant effort to advance the interests of Food and Water Watch, but good news for consumers.

Food and Water Watch is a spin-off of Ralph Nader’s anti-everything Public Citizen, a self-appointed organization famous for its opposition to modern technology, corporations, and globalization. The silly people in the silly cow costumes were, in fact a marketing ploy to frighten people into believing that milk produced by cows that have received bovine growth hormones are a threat to the health of Americans.

Nothing in the many years that bovine growth hormone has been used demonstrates any threat at all, although the protesters described it as a “cancer-related hormone.” The growth hormone is a synthetic version of the natural cow hormone, bovine somatotropin.

In this insanely over-regulated nation of ours, any hint of a cancer risk would have pulled it off the market long ago. While science confirms its safety, the theater of protest goes on.

Americans are so distant from the actual source of how and where their food is produced, they often think it is some magical process that fills the shelves of their supermarket, their plates at restaurants, or their refrigerators at home.

In the case of milk it is the result of a lot of hard work by farmers and dairymen.

According to a 2002 U.S. Department of Agriculture survey, only about 22% of the nation’s dairy cows were receiving rsBST as an aid to milk production. If deprived of rsBST their production would go down while the hucksters of organic milk’s income would benefit.

It’s not about health. It’s about the dollars organic food marketers can wrest from consumers who are led to believe that it is healthier in some respect.

The simple truth is that milk always has been and always will be full of hormones, whether produced with rsBST or not! It’s made by cows, not machines.

The irony of this is that the human body naturally produces a comparable hormone called insulin, vital to good health.

According to Alex Avery’s blog, Milk is Milk, “Five years ago, the Organic Consumers Association had Starbucks squarely in its sights.” At the time, Starbucks stocked up on the “organic” milk and quickly discovered that managers were throwing away far more of it than they were selling. As Avery noted, “It is NOT consumers who were asking for premium priced niche market milk.”

This, of course, means nothing to Food and Water Watch, nor the Organic Consumers Association that organized the protests and a day in which consumers were urged to call Starbucks because, in the oily words of such fear-mongers, it is bad for cows “and may be bad for people.” The operative word here is “may.”

All fear campaigns operate off of words like “may, could, might”, et cetera. For now the cow costumes have been packed away and the creepy organizers of the protest are claiming victory.

For my part, whenever I see the word “organic”, I check to see if my wallet is safely in my back pocket.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs”, posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center,, a clearinghouse for information about scare campaigns intended to influence public opinion and policy. His new book, “Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy”, has been published by Merril Press.

© Alan Caruba, December 2006

There's always something to complaion about isn't there!

Broadcaster dies in car crash

(From the BBC News website)Talksport phone-in host Mike Dickin, known to listeners as "The King", has died in a car crash.

The presenter, who was in his 60s, was involved in a six car pile-up on the A30 on Monday. He was airlifted to hospital but was pronounced dead.

Dickin started his broadcasting career at BBC Radio Oxford in the 1970s, where he was the first presenter on the air.

He also broadcast on Radio 4 and LBC, and won an award for his coverage of the Lockerbie disaster in 1988.

The presenter, who broadcast from his home studio in Bodmin Moor, was known for his passionate, outspoken views.

Listeners dubbed him Britain's angriest man, but he was also known as "The King" because of his supposed resemblance to Henry VIII.

Last month, BBC's The World at One presenter Nick Clarke passed away from cancer.

Clarke presented The World at One, the BBC's flagship politics programme, for 12 years, taking the reins in February 1994. He resumed his work this summer after a nine-month absence to fight a soft tissue sarcoma, a cancer that cost him his left leg.

That's two great "radio voices" we've lost in recent weeks.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lembit you naughty boy?

So if we are to believe the gossip, Lembit Opik the crafty Liberal Democrat MP, may have had a dalliance with one of the "Cheeky Girls".

How will the weather lady respond?

How about this?

With thanks to the Adelaide Scot and his friend.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Website Cloning

Looks like certain individuals are having a sexy time with other peoples web sites. Instead of plagiarizing pop stars on YouTube, or copying someone's Wordpress blog, Simon Moore's has pointed out a most-recent scandal in the legal world.

The Matrix - Well Sort Of

I was caught-up in today's Observer news story that Matrix Chambers may have had to resort to legal action to defend themselves against internet pirates who are using Matrix's personnel, host of awards and high reputation in an apparent money-making scam.

Matrix called in the police after they became the latest victims of the growing phenomenon of cyber-cloning, in which a firm finds that its website has been copied by rivals. A previously-unknown outfit called Lando Attorneys, which purports to be run by two experienced barristers based in London, has copied the entire layout of Matrix's site and much of the material used to promote the chambers's services - including their description in the prestigious Legal 500 guide as 'arguably the finest concentration of talent at the Bar'.

I'm not quite sure the author understood what I meant by "website cloning" but it's a passable story and for once we cansit back and watch the lawyers fight it to a conclusion at their own expense.

It's always worth checking to see if your website/blog is being copied. There's a website you can go to for this purpose. It's called Copyscape.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Top Tip for getting along with the opposite sex.

1. Encourage them to Blog more.................

..............and that's exactly what I'll be doing with a certain young lady from Planet Thanet. The very charming Frances Oapen (above) has reconsidered her decision not to abandon her many friends in the Blogosphere.

I'm hoping for a face to face meeting with her at a certain football match on Boxing Day. You see ladies and gentlemen, Ramsgate FC, having clawed their way out of football's sewers have reached a level where they can now play, at their quaint(NOT) home ground of Southwood, their most famous neighbours, Margate FC.

(For my Maasai Mara Trek, I hope to be taking several football shirts. These will be handed out to local children, along with some other items. If I'm lucky, on Boxing Day, I'll pick up a Ramsgate FC shirt. I'm already on a promise to receive a couple from Arsenal, Man Yoo, and wait for it, one from Tonbridge Angels).

For the first time in 34 years the two clubs go head-to-head in a league encounter. In football season 1972/3, Ted "the traitor" Heath was PM, Iain Dale was still at school and Eastcliffe Richard was trying to make it in Hollywood ( or was it Cricklewood).

Top Tips for Sports Broadcasting on Radio (3)

As you'll be likely to work for long stretches at a time, ensure that

1. You've had a good night's sleep beforehand, and

2. Eat properly.

Remember, you are a performer. Think and act like such.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Post Office closures.

Taken from the UKIP website

Lost in the post?

The government was accused today of covering up the true reason why thousands of British post offices have been, or will be, closed.
In spite of all their explanations, they have not revealed the true reason behind the closures.

"The plain truth is that the scandal of these closures is directly because of a ruling from the European Commission.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage added, "Three years ago, this government signed away the Royal Mail's ability to conduct its own financial affairs."

The deal struck in 2003 allowed the government to provide £150 million a year to the post office, which has been extended by another three years. However, the costs of subsidising the service cost £4 million a week, which means a £58 million deficit every year.

"The three years is up and now we are having to live with the consequences. Yet the government still refuses to admit this is the real reason. Perhaps their explanation got lost in the post?"

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party said, "Why should we have to go to Brussels to beg permission to fund a service which is important to so many local communities; especially in rural areas? In spite of Alastair Darling declaring investment of £1.7 billion, he will still have to ask permission from the EU to do this.

"Thanks to the EU, the profitable services have been 'cherry-picked' whilst the small and rural post offices will get cut or axed.

"It's about time we stamped on the power of the European Union if we are going to address the problems facing postal services: they have consistently failed to deliver."

Treaty of Amsterdam , Article 88 demands that a national government seeks permission from the Commission to grant state aid.

EU Directive 2002/39/EC requires permission before any state aid can be granted.

The Postal Services Directive 2002/39/EC reduced the part of the postal market which could be reserved for the national monopoly

UK Independence Party: The only Party telling you the truth about the European Union
Privacy Statement and Terms of use (including use of content) All work © 2006 UKIP and other contributors

The Post Office Closures, or who runs this country?

Andrew Gilligan wrote a brilliant piece in the London Evening Standard on Monday about the scandal concerning the closure of our rural Post Offices.

The Devil wrote this.........................

Post Office closures: what nobody's telling us

Iain Dale has noted that a few thousand Post Offices are to close.
While Lord Stevens announced the findings of his inquiry into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Government announced that 2,500 Post Offices would close. Another good day to bury bad news.

Indeed; up to 3,000 Post Offices, mainly in rural areas, face closure but there is something that the government aren't telling you: can you guess what it is?

I shall pass you over to the lovely Trixy so that she can spell it out for you.
So, Alastair Darling is going to ask the European Commission very nicely if he can provide investment of £1.7 billion for the Post Offices, is he? It's so nice to know that these people we elect to run our country, who have recently decided they just don't get paid enough, can't even decide how they are going to spend tax revenue.
Mr Darling said the annual £150m subsidy to help rural branches stay open will be extended beyond 2008 until 2011.

What, however, Mr Darling doesn't say is that under Article 88 of the Treaty of Amsterdam, a national government needs permission from the European Commission to grant state aid, and under Directive 2002/39/EC, this permission must be granted before the aid can be given.

Can you imagine the grief Mr Darling would get (oh, if only he was a Captain) from dear old Tone' if he stood up and, perhaps, told the fucking truth about this post office debacle?

"Sorry, chaps, the European Commission says we can't fund post offices, even if they are the only facility in a rural area or tiny village miles from anywhere, somewhere that the elderly rely on. Sorry, but that's the way it is. They are the bosses now, and if they want to bend me over and bugger me with the Acquis Communautaire then they can."

If you look at the BBC News article that I linked to, you'll see not one mention of the EU's part in all this. Just for your enlightenment, let's hop over to UKIP's Press Release on the subject.
The Postal Services Directive 2002/39/EC reduced the part of the postal market which could be reserved for the national monopoly.

The breakup of the Royal Mail was actually initiated by an EU Directive.
Treaty of Amsterdam , Article 88 demands that a national government seeks permission from the Commission to grant state aid.

EU Directive 2002/39/EC requires permission before any state aid can be granted.

So, who rules in this country? Our elected government—awful, devious, dishonest, venal, little shits though they might be—or the unelected bureaucrats of the EU Commission. Well, I think that the answer to that question is becoming increasingly obvious.

So, can we leave yet?

Felixstowe to Margate "Coast",on BBC this evening

What a brilliant TV programme! I haven't seen any of the previous episodes of "Coast".

There were some great topics discussed in this evening's episode. They ranged from Felixstowe's container port and the programme finished at the place I was born. Margate, not the treacherous Goodwin Sands!

Well done BBC.

Global Warming

Sir David Attenborough has called for a return to war-time values as Lewis Smith in today's Times newspaper points out..................................

He hit out at 4x4s, electrical standby facilities and lights that are left on unnecessarily as he demanded a change in moral and intellectual attitudes towards climate change.

He said that even tiny amounts of wasted electricity were immoral because they put “our grandchildren’s lives in danger”.

“I grew up during the war and during the war it was a common value that wasting food was wrong,” he told MPs. “It wasn’t that we thought we were going to beat Hitler by eating every bit of gristle of meat, but it was accepted as wrong to waste food. People felt that widely, universally.”

Such attitudes, Sir David said, should be revived. “There should be a general moral view that wasting energy is wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny bit or a big bit. It’s a general attitude to life. We are putting in hazards for our grand- children,” he said.

Sir David made his call for change a few hours after the Met Office announced that 2006 was about to go down in history as the hottest in Britain since records began.

Is Sir David right, or is he scaremongering? After all, the Met Office records only go back 100 years or so? For all we know, climate change or global warming is a naturally occuring phenomenon. I'd also like to ask Sir David how his return to "war-time attitudes" will go down in the USA, the world's major user of fossile fuels, and in the emerging economies of China, India and Brazil?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

56% of Scottish people and Sir Martin Sorrell

Just returned from a breakfast briefing. The guest speaker was Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP.

He highlighted some corporate issues in his 25- minute talk. These ranged from international trade to Corporate Social Responsibility and the democratizing effect of the Internet.

One of the most thought-provoking comments he made was how, in his view, Britain was now back to 1984. Not in the Orwellian sense but the numbers of those employed in public service. He explained that at present a staggering 56% of Scottish people are employed by the Government.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

This stupid country (3)

Also from yesterday's London Evening Standard.......this time news about another stupid decision. You see the English never see the "big picture". Hardly surprising, we've people in positions of authority, who in my opinion, are small-minded, minimalist, short-termist and lacking in vision. This is certainly the case when it comes to town planning matters. Aesthetics never come into it.

Museum St, SW7

The three museums in South Kensington-The Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert - are a remarkable cluster of cultural and educational institutions. Nearby there are other buildings of considerable importance, from the Serpentine Galery in Hyde Park to the Royal Albert Hall. Yet this area is divided by busy roads-Exhibition Road and Cromwell Road-which makes it difficult to see the buildings as part of a coherent whole. It can also make it a bleaky experience for visitors.
An imaginative solution has been propsed by Kensington & Chelsea Council, Westminster Council and the Mayor. This would involve redesigning Exhibition Road and the area around to make itmlore welcoming for pedestrians. The road would lose its narrow pavements and would be redesigned with bold markings, which, it is hoped, would cause cars to travel more slowly. There would be provision for good crossings for pedestrians at major junctions and centralised bus stops and space for taxis.
Unfortunately, this scheme has been turned down for inclusion for the shortlist for the Big Lottery fund on the grounds that it concentrates too heavily on road enhancements. This misses the point, which is that the redesign is not intended to benefit motorists, but to make the whole area more accessible and to help integrate important cultural institutions into a single space. The cost, at £25 million, is reasonable. Now an appeal is to be made for £5million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, with the rest made up by the Government. This eminently sensible scheme deserves support.

Of course, whether or not it gets it remains to be seen. I agree with the columns main thrust. For those of you who have visited the Spanish city of Valencia, you may have been impressed by the location of various museums and an aquatic centre, very easily accessed, in the centre of that remarkable city.

This stupid country (2)

Our continued membership of the EU is now going to give the British Film Industry problems................from the London Evening Standard leader column of December 11th.


Encouraging films that promote British culture is a laudable aim. But there is a risk that new European rules that limit tax breaks will damage the industry they ostensibly seek to encourage. Films made in Britain must have a 75% British storyline or have british lead characters or be based on British stories in order to receive the funds. That could discourage Hollywood from using the skills of Britain's internationally respected film industry. The whole world loves British-made films, whether they are set here like Harry Pottter series or not. The tax regime should support both.

This is so typical isn't it. Let's put the wishes of unelected foreign bureaucrats before the interests of a very needy British industry.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Public Speaking is fun

My Toastmasters International speaking club, London Corinthians is going from strength to strength. I've seen people grow from a "shrinking violet" to competent speakers in a very short space of time.

Toastmasters clubs are a great way to meet new people, network and improve your speaking and presentation skills. I've enjoyed it tremendously. I've given talks on footbasll, broadcasting, radio commentary and have been lucky enough to advertise my "Margate to Maasai Mara" trek which I'm doing on behalf of Breast Cancer Campaign

Here is my Club's latest bulletin.

Newsletter for 30th November 2006
London Corinthians News
The Voice of the 'London Corinthians' Toastmasters Club
'The Greatest Public Speaking Club In The World'!


I wondered at the last meeting why I leave our meetings so nourished, excited and happy? The answer is that I see the meeting as being just like a nourishing supper; full of delicious components; learning new things, laughter, and the pleasure of seeing people develop and blossom. We have 3 new members joining our club to add even more delicious and exciting ingredients to the Corinthians Recipe for Success. A warm and joyful welcome goes out to Denis Goodchild, Kerry Naylor and Jonathon Palmer.

All of the speeches at our meeting on 30th November were brilliant, as always, but there was something unusual last Thursday. One of our speakers, Pieter Fourie, exceeded by far his previous speech, winning the ribbon for ‘Best Speaker’. He spoke with more pauses, clarity, and structure than previously and has improved greatly and quite suddenly. The secret of Pieter’s visible improvement became clear when he told of how he owed his success to his mentoring. We found out that Pieter had met up with his mentor in person and had the opportunity to rehearse it and take good advice. The end result was clear for all to see – the change in his speaking was VERY noticeable and his speech far exceeded our expectations for a Number 2 speech. Please read what Peter said:


Dear Corinthians,

It was a real honour for me to win the ribbon for ‘Best Speaker’ last Thursday. Do you know how I did it? Can you keep a secret? A while ago, I asked a great speaker at Corinthians to be my mentor. She agreed! We met up a few times so that I could rehearse my speech. She gave me many tips and a lot of good advice. Without her help, I wouldn’t have delivered my speech in such a powerful way. Fellow Corinthians, if you are serious about improving and delivering outstanding speeches, I encourage you to get a mentor!!!!

Pieter Fourie


There is nothing more powerful then. As we are all aspiring to be a great speakers and to keep a very high QUALITY of the club I would love to invite all mentors to take an active interest in their mentees and, whenever possible, meet up with them in person. This I believe will produce amazing results! Evaluators. Please call the person you are going to evaluate before the meeting. See how you can support them and find out where they want to improve.

Also, with QUALITY in mind, please remember that we now have a Competent Leadership Manual, as described by James Mills (our club Secretary) at our meeting. Please do check out the Notice Board section below to learn more about this great opportunity for self development and recognition.

We have our last meeting for the year on the 14th December. Please come and enjoy yourself. As we all know it is a very special night where most of the speeches and functionaries are the past presidents of this club! If you want to learn from the masters please come along and join us for a fantastic end to 2006!

your proud president

Gosia Gorna


Gosia Gorna, our President warmly welcomed our members and guests on another chilly November evening. In her introduction, Gosia told us how creativity makes life worth living for her and suggested to us that by ‘making small changes in your life, BIG things can happen.’

Graham Price was our Toastmaster for the evening. Graham’s theme for the evening was ‘Scotland’ in recognition of the fact that 30th November is Saint Andrews Day – St Andrew being the patron saint of Scotland. Graham invited all functionaries and programmed speakers to tell us what first comes to mind at the mention of Scotland. From the beautiful Scottish mountains, to deep fried Mars Bars and the famous Kilt (a ladies favourite), we had an interesting insight into what Scotland means to our members.

Daniel Clee was our competent Timekeeper for the evening, bringing humour to the role when, during his initial description of his duties, he promised to shoot anyone that went over time!! I am pleased to report that Daniel was a little prone to exaggeration on the night and his threats materialised in nothing more dangerous than the ringing of a bell for those that went over their allotted time. [see my tips section below for an article on timing]

Maria Rojo was our enthusiastic and generous Grammarian for the evening, bringing us a humorous word of the day (WOTD) ‘Tickle’ [ ]. Maria’s generosity was very topical as she brought a small bottle of Scottish Whisky as a prize for the most prolific user of the WOTD.

Alla Bida was our Table Topics Master for the evening, continuing and focusing on the theme of Scotland. Alla delivered a challenging set of table topics to our members and guests, tackling related subjects from shopping to golf and from food and drink to monsters! In a flash back to our last meeting, the Scottish James Bond actor Sean Connery made an appearance as Amy Jackson promised to give up a date with him to allow her mother to take advantage (of the date!), winning the ribbon for her efforts. Other participants were: Ian Millen, Denis Goodchild (new member), Kerry Naylor (new member), Matthew Pearlman (guest), Esther de Angelis, Jonathon Palmer (new member), Jeremy Jacobs and Gosia Gorna.

Lannah Carbonilla, was our Table Topics Evaluator and did a fantastic job of evaluating our table topics speakers. Incisive, analytical, with a great balance of recommendations and commendations, Lannah gave a masterclass in Table Topics Evaluation of nine topics and to time!! An example for all to follow in this role.

Maurice McParland brought his own brand of humour to his post as Sgt At Arms, welcoming eight guests (three of which became members on the night). As usual, our guests brought even more international flavour to the club, hailing from a variety of locations at home and abroad including France, Israel and Derby!


Mark Henderson, introduced himself formally to the club with his No 1 speech (Icebreaker),

In which he gave us an educational insight into his own origins; from sledging and skiing in the North East of England to working in banking in London, Mark told us how he had been held up by gangsters, charged by an elephant and had even met Brian Clough (a famous English football manager).

Pieter Fourie delivered his inspiring and highly educational No 2 speech (Organise your speech) entitled, ‘The Dream Stealer’. Pieter talked about the downsides of watching TV; the commercials, TV violence (by age 16 the average child has witnessed 30,000 TV murders!) and other things that he believes conspire to prevent us from engaging in other more meaningful activities, such as playing games, making music and engaging in conversation. Pieter urged us – ‘instead of watching ‘Friends’, go out and make some!’

Jenny Cutler, delivered a highly entertaining and educational Advanced Speech (based on vocal variety) entitled, ‘Finding the Neglected Voices.’ Jenny’s speech introduced us to the art of making the most of our voices with her F.A.C.E. (Fluency, Accent, Colour, Energy) method. The speech was packed full of practical advice for improving our voices and was illustrated with entertaining demonstrations of just how to get the best out of our vocal variety – great tips and advice for us all to take away and improve our speaking.

Jeremy Jacobs delivered the final prepared speech of the evening, an Advanced Speech (Leave them with a smile) entitled, ‘Screw You Jimmy!’ Jeremy told a disturbing, but nevertheless inspirational story of how he supported someone close to him through a family tragedy. In mixing heavy subject matter with a little light humour, Jeremy touched us all with a story of caring and solidarity in the face of tragic circumstances, leaving us with the thought that – “In life, it’s not about getting what you want. It’s about handling what’s thrown at you.”

Speech Evaluations – four excellent evaluations were given by Esther (for Mark), Gilly (for Peter), Amy (for Jenny) and Lourdes (for Jeremy).

General Evaluator – Dorothea Stuart (Riverside Communicators) finished off the evening with a good analytical and complimentary evaluation of the evening’s events. Thank you Dorothea.


Best Table Topic was won by Amy Jackson for the selfless act of giving up a date with Sean Connery to allow her mother to meet the handsome beast. (her words not mine!).

Best Evaluator was won by Gilly Cutts for her warm, analytical and encouraging evaluation of Pieter Fourie’s No 2 speech.

Best Speech was won by Pieter Fourie for his expose on the perils of television. A fantastic achievement for Pieter and endorsement of mentoring – but not forgetting that no matter how much mentoring you get, it is still the speaker who has to stand before the audience and deliver – and boy did he deliver!!


Improve your timing!

Did you know that ‘on average’ about 25 people + an unknown number of guests speak every time we meet at London Corinthians and that there are approximately 33 speaking ‘slots’ in the course of our two and a half hour (with break) meeting. Is it any wonder then, that timing is so important to the smooth running of our meetings? Meetings that run over time, reduce the time that we have to socialise outside the meeting room (such as getting valuable feedback from fellow toastmasters in the bar) and, for some, create transport problems as they risk missing buses or trains to get them home.

We have all suffered at the hands of speakers in the workplace that have far exceeded their speaking slots, shortening our coffee and lunch breaks and, sometimes, making our eye lids heavy with sleep. Such speakers are normally the ones that don’t practice what they have to say, preferring to take us all on a voyage of discovery – the kind of speaker that uses the same PowerPoint slides (full of useless detail) for every business address, allegedly ‘adapting’ for the audience. The kind of speaker that doesn’t respect his or her audience because they don’t take the time to do what they say they will, that is, speak for a specific time and no more.

The good news is, that Toastmasters can stop you from becoming such a speaker. Our emphasis on time is there for a very good reason. It forces you as a speaker to prepare properly. Speeches are generally short (5-7 mins) and so must be edited until they fit the time slot allowed. The end result should be good QUALITY substance – there’s no time for unnecessary words if you want to deliver a great speech. And a speech can’t really be great if you over run badly on a time that you have set as a target. No better is this illustrated than in the area of competition speaking. For example, did you know that in the Toastmasters International or Humorous speech contests held each year, if a speaker speaks for 1 second longer than 30 seconds after the RED light has been illuminated, they will be disqualified? They will not be told that they have run over, they will just not be considered in the voting for first, second and third place. Just imagine the hours that someone might spend on honing a speech – the ideas, the writing, the editing, the rehearsals – only to lose because you go over time. It must be heartbreaking – and it can happen to very experienced speakers – IF THEY DON’T PREPARE PROPERLY.

So, have I convinced you to focus on this aspect of your speaking for your next speech, evaluation or other functionary role? Let me help you a little more – have you ever timed a speech with your watch or mobile phone, glancing at it every now and then to see how you’re going and looking at the end to see your final time? Have you ever wished you could have the timekeeper right there in your living room? Someone to put the GREEN, AMBER and RED lights on for you while you practice your speech? Well today, I want to offer just that service to you. No it’s not me, as much as I would love to, my boss won’t give me the time off work! It’s much better than a real timekeeper – because this one won’t get so engrossed in your speech that they forget to time, or forget to start the watch or push the button for the light.

In my latest search around the internet I have found two great tools. These are software tools for timing your TOASTMASTER speeches. They can be used to practice your speeches. They are small and self-contained pieces of software which offer preset times for standard Toastmasters speeches as well as manual entry. But best of all they are FREE. Just download them to your PC or Laptop and you have a timekeeper that will serve your needs whenever you want to do a speech. Two versions are available:

Download ‘Time Toaster’ from:

Download ‘High Note Software – Speech Timer’ from

(You will need to enter some details including London Corinthians Club Number – 7951)

You’ll have to decide for yourself, which suits you best. The first version is more like the lights you will see at the club, but the second version (which changes the screen colours) features some encouraging clapping at the start and end of your speech – although it is very polite clapping; nothing like the raucous clapping, whooping and whistling at a London Corinthians meeting!

So, fellow Toastmasters, now you have no excuse. I look forward to discussing your use of these great tools in the bar after we complete our next meeting ON TIME!!!


Competent Leadership Manual

Leadership is something that is increasing required in society. We are facing and will face increasingly complex and challenging issues in all aspects of our lives.

Toastmasters International is an organisation that not only strives to develop great communicators, but also great leaders. Consequently a new Competent Leadership Manual has been created that enables Toastmaster members to further their leadership skills through the completion of a series of projects.

All these projects can be completed through performing a variety of roles at London Corinthians. All you need is a Competent Leadership Manual and a fellow member to assess your performance in a variety of situations. Upon completion of the 10 projects, you will be recognised as a Competent Leader.

For more information of how you can develop your leadership skills through Toastmasters, please e-mail James Mills (

International Speech & Evaluation Contests – Thu 22nd Mar 2007 – 7:00pm for 7:30pm

Two annual contests will be held at London Corinthians on Thursday 22nd March 2007: The International Speech and Evaluation Contests. The overall objective of the International Speech contest is for a speaker to inspire an audience. Length of speeches: 5-7 minutes. Contestants should have completed up to and including speech six of the Communications Manual. All members are eligible to compete in the Evaluation Contest where a speaker from another club will be evaluated by all contestants. Length of evaluation: 2-3 minutes.

We very much encourage our members to take part in these contests. Or, if not, to take on a functionary role at the contests. For further information contact the club President, Gosia Gorna ( or the Vice President Education, Kim Horner (

Do you have a Mentor?

You’ve read about the power of mentoring (above) - an amazing learning experience for both, mentors and mentees. Should you wish to have a mentor, please contact Esther De Angelis, our Mentoring VP (Email:; 020 7433 1619).

London Excalibur Advanced Toastmasters’ Club

London Excalibur Advanced Toastmasters’ Club meets on the second Wednesday of each month (7:15pm start) at the Cheshire Cheese public house near Temple. This warm, cosy club welcomes anyone at any stage of their speaking development. Whilst new members are always welcome, speaking/functionary slots are available to those who are members of other Toastmasters’ clubs. For further details, contact Alison Precious (Work: 020 7218 5670; Email:


If you have any suggestions or want to contribute to the Newsletter, please contact Ian Millen at and or on 07809 441145. Please use both email addresses together for Ian if you want to guarantee your message getting through.