Compare and Contrast

Yesterday was an interesting day in the life of UK Politics. There were two Select Committees sitting. One was hearing evidence from the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson claiming that he did not wilfully mislead Parliament and the other was Baroness Casey being questioned by MPs about her report on the Metropolitan Police.

Let’s look at the performance of Baroness Casey first.

She marshalls her evidence – note, evidence, not conjecture – and delivers it calmly and clearly. And what devastating evidence it was. The pause she makes before answering the question from Adam Holloway, the Conservative MP for Gravesham, is very telling and almost electrifying. It’s as though she cannot quite believe how stupid he is for not understanding what is meant by the term “institutional racism”.

Now contrast that with the performance of Johnson.

His defence appears to be be “I was told that the parties (some of which I attended in person) were not in conflict with the guidelines, so I didn’t mislead Parliament”. Or in other words “I am an idiot”. No, Mr. Johnson, you are not an idiot, but a narcissistic habitual liar with a huge sense of entitlement.

If there is any justice in the UK’s Parliamentary Democracy, he will be suspended from Parliament for wilful misleading of his fellow MPs.

Posted in News and politics | Leave a comment

Stepping Down from Heelwegs Belang

The annual members’ meeting of our local village community council, Heelwegs Belang, was held on the 7th March. I had been a board member for a total of nine years (three terms of three years) and the statutes rule that this is the maximum that I could serve, so I stepped down. The post of secretary has passed to another board member. Although no longer on the board, I remain as their webmaster and the IT department, administering the Microsoft 365 Business system for Heelwegs Belang.

When a board member steps down, it is usual for them to be formally thanked in the members’ meeting and presented with a bunch of flowers and a small gift. So I was expecting this as part of the proceedings of the members’ meeting. What I did not expect was that the Mayor (Burgemeester) of our Local Authority also showed up and thanked me for my work, not only for Heelwegs Belang, but also for my work in bringing the fibre-optic network to the area. He presented me with the obligatory bunch of flowers, but also a wünderkamer – a “cabinet of curiosities” artwork made by a local artist.

Photo: Roel Kleinpenning

I was also pleased that the board did not forget that another member of our community, Jan Geert, had worked with me on the network project, and he was formally thanked by the board that evening for his efforts.

The board presented me with a certificate proclaiming that I was now an Honorary Member of Heelwegs Belang.

Martin had apparently been plotting this together with the other board members for over a year beforehand. I was totally unaware of all this, so it all came as a total and pleasant surprise on the night.

Posted in Family, Society | 2 Comments

How to Foretell the Future Accurately

John Major, in this interview with Andrew Marr a few weeks before the Brexit Referendum in 2016, has been proven right in every respect. Brexit has proved a disaster.

Posted in News and politics, Society | Leave a comment

“Brexit is a Colossal Mistake”

There are still a few wise Tories, but unfortunately they ain’t in the shower in power at the moment…

Posted in News and politics, Society | Leave a comment

Brexit & a Clueless PostNL

We received a letter from the Dutch Post Office (PostNL) last week. It told us that they had received a packet addressed to us from abroad and that they were legally obliged to make a Customs Declaration on it. The letter further stated that there were no details on the contents of the package and that we needed to give these details online.

I went to the website ( and filled in the reference code given in the letter. I found myself faced with a series of questions:

  • Was this a purchase or a gift?
  • What was the nature of the contents?
  • How many items were in the package?
  • What was the value of the items?

Since we hadn’t purchased anything from outside of the EU recently, it had to be a gift, but since it was a gift, how the devil would we know what the package contained, how many items there would be, and what the value would be?

I said as much in my reply, and gambled that if it was a gift, the value would be no more than €20.

That seems to have satisfied PostNL, because the package landed in the letterbox today. It turns out to be chocolates sent as a Christmas present by my niece in Scotland. She posted it two months ago, and as evidence of the utter cluelessness of PostNL, she had a signed and dated Customs Declaration label on it stating that the contents were chocolates, and of a value that did not attract import duty. Furthermore, she had her return address on the package – why couldn’t PostNL tell us this, so we could have put two and two together?

By way of contrast, there was a second package in the letterbox for me today. This was a second-hand book that I ordered just last week. It also came from abroad, but since it came from Ireland (in the EU), it just tootled across to the Netherlands without generating paperwork and delays.

Brexit is a disaster, both great and small.

Posted in Family, Organizations | Leave a comment

Fireside Chats We Could Do Without

Thank heavens that Michael Spicer is on hand to pull aside the curtain.

Posted in Humour, News and politics | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas!

There’s too much going wrong with this sorry old world, but ’tis the season of joy and goodwill to all…

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Brexit Effect – the Facts

I see that the Financial Times has at last weighed in with a film on the effects (mostly malign) of Brexit on the UK Economy. Well worth watching – but depressing as hell as an example of seeing a country indulging in an act of self-harm…

Posted in News and politics, Organizations, Society | Leave a comment

UK Government in Chaos

Turmoil in the UK Parliament. Matt Green sums it up very well and exaggerates the situation only slightly.

Now that Truss has resigned after only 44 days as PM, the competition is on to find her replacement. Frankly, none of the candidates give me much hope, and I see that the appalling Johnson is likely to throw his hat into the ring. Be afraid, be very afraid…

Addendum: and Michael Spicer illustrates just how hopeless Truss was…

Posted in Humour, News and politics | Leave a comment

When Rude Gestures Are Appropriate

Apparently, the ex-Chancellor of the UK was somewhat upset to (allegedly) receive a “rude gesture” from an estate agent in his home constituency.

Personally, I think he thoroughly deserved it… He tanked the UK economy with his “mini-budget” and caused a tsunami of problems in the property market.

And let us not forget that he went to a champagne reception with venture capitalists as soon as he had delivered the “mini-budget”.

I’m somewhat surprised that he hasn’t been pelted with something by now…

Of course, he is not alone in causing this disaster. There will be more Brexit chickens coming home to roost before too long, I think…

Posted in News and politics | Leave a comment

Chris Killip Retrospective

Like me, Chris Killip was born on the Isle of Man. Unlike me, he was expelled from school at 16, but went on to make a name for himself as a world-class photographer. He died in 2020.

The Photographers’ Gallery in London opens a major retrospective of his work this coming week.

I came across this short film of him talking about his time spent taking photographs in Skinningrove, a fishing village in the Northeast of England. As a friend said to me: “one of the best talks about his own photographs that I’ve seen any photographer make… the humanity shone through”.

Posted in Photography | 2 Comments

Watering The Garden

Frighteningly close to reality…

Posted in Humour, News and politics | Leave a comment

Love and Hate

Here’s a talent…

And here’s a different cut of the same song and performer, with a cold douche of reality at the end…

Posted in Film, Music | Leave a comment

RIP Hilary

Hilary Mantel is dead. She leaves us a marvellous body of work, but alas, we will never be able to read what she still had to write.

Posted in Books | Leave a comment

A Fine Elegy

Elizabeth Windsor has died. Whilst I am no fan of the Monarchy, she served the country well. Jonathan Freedland has penned a fine elegy.

Posted in News and politics | Leave a comment

Out Of The Frying Pan…

So Liz Truss has been anointed by a small bunch of elderly, well-off, white men as the next Prime Minister of the UK. The silver lining is that at least the disgraceful Boris Johnson no longer holds that office, after having consummately trashed its reputation.

The citizens of the UK, I fear, cannot afford to breathe a collective sigh of relief with the coming of Truss. If she puts into practice what she has promised with her views on economic policy, we are likely to see things in the UK getting worse, rather than better.

William Davies, in the Guardian, has a good analysis of the flaws in Trussonomics. He appears to hope that Truss will recant, but my fear is that she believes her ideology to the extent that it will not just destroy her, but the country as well. Beware the true believer.

Posted in News and politics, Society | Leave a comment

RIP Raymond

The author and illustrator Raymond Briggs has died. Not unexpected, but a sad loss all the same. He warned us about it in his book “Time For Lights Out“.

Posted in Books | Leave a comment

Brexit: An Update

A parade of shits, charlatans and shysters (hat-tip to John Crace for this all too accurate description of this bunch of idiots who have irreparably damaged the UK).

Posted in News and politics | 2 Comments

Happy Birthday, Watson!

Today is Watson’s 13th birthday. He’s still pretty active for his age, and still likes playing games, but we don’t go on long walks anymore – a 15 minute walk is quite enough, he thinks.

Time flies, it seems that only yesterday he was a puppy…

Posted in Family | Leave a comment


“There will be no delays at Dover”…

Posted in News and politics | Leave a comment