For not upon these hills alone
The doom of sport shall fall
O'er the broad face of England creeps
The shadow on the wall.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

The England Project has moved

We can now be found at www.theenglandproject.net/mt/. Please update your links.

Friday, November 07, 2003

This just in

From my good lady Lynn:
Just back from costco, and despite my best intentions I have caved in and bought one "omigod I must have it" item. We are now the proud owners of one bright green snowboogie blade runner board. Big enough for two (well one adult, one child or two children but probably not two adults), with four handles and some serious street cred styling, it looks like it will fly! Memories of juddering down ....... on a kitchen tray persuaded me this was a must have.
I can't tell you how excited I am about bright green snowboogie blade runner boards.

Out of touch

Besides discussions on why our local state school is seriously underfunded I have also been hearing troubling things about the tests on 7 and 11 year olds. Now the NUT is to ballot its members on a boycott of those tests.
When the boycott goes ahead, no child's education will be disrupted. Instead teachers will be able to use their professional judgement to their pupils' benefit and in support of their primary purpose of educating children
That's the general message I have been hearing from my wife and parents of children at our local school. It's the teachers that know how our kids are doing and the tests (with all the structure required that leads up to those tests) are having a negative and constraining affect.

The governments response:
A boycott of tests would be a gross betrayal of children. It would say that we don't care how children are doing or how we can better help them in school.
That's contrary to the word on the street, or the cul-de-sac if you like.


Peter Cuthbertson on Michael Howard:
But Howard fought on against such people and proclaimed again and again that "prison works". In his three and a half years in the Home Office, he was able to prove this. His solution to rocketing crime didn't approach the sophistication of a postmodernist sociology graduate's thesis. There was little in anything he said about the need for all of society to take responsibility for its criminals and louts. He wasn't a slave to buzzwords about social exclusion and the like. His solution was to keep those who burgled, attacked and mugged innocent people inside prison so that those outside would be safe from them. Nothing is likelier to provoke liberal ire so much as a dash of common sense. The trouble for them is that under Michael Howard the Conservatives were able to reverse a historic rise in crime, Howard ensuring a reduction of 18% in the time he was Home Secretary.
It's such a shame that Howard was responsible for piloting the handgun ban (except .22 cal) through Parliament when he was Home Secretary. I heard his speech last night on the radio and thought it was good and I've been reading some encouraging things about him but it will be a long time before he can be forgiven for what he did to the sport of shooting.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

In Gordon's hands?

Melanie Phillips writes about the battle between Blair and Brown which seems to have become a little more public recently. She says that
The Prime Minister is now exposed, lonely and supremely vulnerable.
It seems to me that Blair's future depends more upon Mr. Brown's behaviour than it does on his own and I think that over the coming weeks and months we will see a more vocal and openly critical Chancellor.

The public have fallen out of love with Tony Blair and I suspect that the braying and neighing of barnyard animals will soon be heard coming from within the labour party.

Baaaahhhhd Tony.

Some poetic advice

From one Norman to another:
"They'll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark,
It's the sport not the rabbits they 're after (we've plenty of game in the park).
Don't hang them or cut off their fingers. That's wasteful as well as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man-at-arms you can find.
From "Norman and Saxon" by Rudyard Kipling via the excellent An Englishman's Castle.

The ban cycle

Labour MP Diane Abbott is urging the government:
to consider banning the manufacture, sale, transfer and importation of all imitation weapons which can cause a dilemma for police who do not know whether a firearm is real or not.
That's basically all the Auto-Electric, Gas Blow Back and Spring guns used in Airsoft skirmishing, a pastime in the UK that's growing in popularity. It could also see off the use of such equipment in the practical pistol discipline, which still survives in spite of government attempts to kill it off.

In many cases it could result toys like those in your kids toy basket being banned.

None of this will result in a reduction in gun crime, but at least it makes it look like someone is doing something. Why they can't just hold another amnesty is a mystery to me, after all those things are always fantastically successful.

Let's not mention the fact that the new anti-social behavior legislation makes it illegal to have in your possession a replica gun in a public place without good reason. That's only a law. What we need is something more solid like....like a law.

An oasis in the middle classes

I think that I live in a cul-de-sac that's somewhat of an oasis in a very middle class town. You see, even though everyone in the cul-de-sac thinks they're middle class, according to Ted Wragg in the Guardian we must be mistaken:
Sending a child to the local state school is seen by many middle-class parents as a betrayal of your caste. When my eldest daughter entered the local comprehensive school my wife was berated by a neighbour. Sacrificing your children for the sake of your principles was the crime.
You see, silly us, we all send our children to local state schools; how un-middle class of us. Come to think of it most of the middle class friends that I have send their kids to state school.

Holy crap, we're working class.

Via Peter Briffa.

Away from the middle?

Iain Murray, over at The Edge of England's Sword has taken the questionable Worlds Smallest Political Quiz. I took this some time back and came out centrist though this seems to have changed now:


I thought that I answered the questions on drug policy and movement across borders in a distinctly un-libertarian manner. No matter, it is a questionable quiz after all.

In the comments on Iain's article Alan states:
The World's Smallest Political Quiz would be better if it had more questions covering a wider range of issues.
That would make it the Worlds Slightly Larger Political Quiz or even, perhaps, the Worlds Biggest Political Quiz. The pressure for anything that includes politics to balloon and corrupt even the simplest of concepts, like quizzes, is all too apparent.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

The decisions we make

Queen ticketI once made a decision, many years ago, that I would keep the tickets to every concert that I ever went to. I'm not sure why I decided to do that but I'm glad that I did. I've ended up with a great reminder of my youth in the form of a framed picture containing the assembled tickets. Each one is like a little snapshot in time for me. Not happier days, just different.

It's funny; almost every ticket says No overnight camping, or something similar, and yet each concert had overnight campsites organised, with paid up entry (normally only a couple of quid each) and some even provided firewood.

It's like, you'd ask "Which way to the camping mate?", "Sorry, no camping here" so you'd look at them until they cracked. "It's that way sir".

Galaxies are like buses

Not only is the sun exploding but at the same time we are colliding with not one, but two galaxies.
An international team of astronomers has found a previously unknown galaxy colliding with our own Milky Way.
That's in addition to one discovered in 1994 doing a similar sort of thing. I must try to be strong just in case Kim is looking. Come on you galaxies, let's have you then.

Kim, like Ken, is wrong

Kim du Toit thinks that the process of male pussification is almost complete in Europe. He asks
How did we get to this?
The answer is simple; we didn't.

I understand where Kim is coming from but to use such a generous pussy dipped brush with which to paint us all is just asking for a trouble (ahem).

UPDATE: Kim wants men everywhere to go back to being real men
To open doors for women, to drive fast cars, to smoke cigars after a meal, to get drunk occasionally and, in the words of Col. Jeff Cooper, one of the last of the Real Men: "to ride, shoot straight, and speak the truth."
How often is occasionally? I hope he doesn't intend for me to cut down on the drinking.

Ken is so wrong

London mayor Ken Livingstone is dissing spidy.
Mr Livingstone said the protest, part of a continuing campaign by Fathers 4 Justice, did nothing to help Mr Chick's cause.

He added that Mr Chick, was "amply demonstrating why some men should not have access to their own children".

"He is a man who is putting his own life at risk, police officers at risk, other Londoners who may be passing along the road at risk," he said.
To me his are the actions of a man at the end of his tether with a system that he feels is unfair and is keeping him away from his children. His children Ken.

Anyhow Ken, if spidy is putting everyone at so much risk why have the police
decided to reopen the roads around Tower Bridge
I always thought that the closing of the bridge was an over reaction and it seems that the police now agree. Or has the crane, the man or gravity suddenly changed to make the situation safer than it was when the desperate Mr Chick decided to make the climb?

UPDATE: Melanie Phillips throws her hat into the ring:
But this problem is far broader and deeper than flouted contact orders. The whole justice system is institutionally biased against men and marriage. It is driven by an extreme feminist agenda, which stretches from the humblest family lawyer through the politically correct Law Commission to reach all the way up to government and the senior reaches of the judiciary.

UPDATE (7:30ish pm): The issue has just been discussed on Channel 5 news where the particular piece was introduced with the news that Mr Chick has come down. The newsreader stated that 98% of court cases end up with the custody going to the woman. Are we really saying that only 2% of men are capable of bringing up their children?" to which an invited expert said something along the lines of "No, no we can't say that. It's clearly an issue that needs addressing." I would say that Mr Chick has shown what direct action can do to highlight an issue. Ken, no doubt, is fuming.

The Victoria Cross: For Valour

I watched a programme last night on BBC2 called The Victoria Cross: For Valour. It was written, directed and presented by that bloke Jeremy Clarkson, which is always a good thing IMHO. The main thrust of the program was to describe how in September 1944, Major Robert Cain won what was described as the finest Victoria Cross of the Second World War. His story is amazing and its telling left me in no doubt that Clarkson was in total awe of not only Major Cain VC but also all the other VC winners, some of who had their stories told in brief during the programme. It’s only at the end of the programme that we discover that Clarkson is married to the Major’s daughter who had no idea that her father was a VC winner until after his death in 1974. They don’t like to talk about their deeds apparently, VC winners.

We also got to see a little bit about the history of the medal itself and how it is, and always has been, manufactured by a small London jeweller Hancocks Ltd, London, from bronze. Not just any old bronze either, but bronze from the melted down breeches of guns captured from the Russians at Sebastopol in the Crimea. We were shown what was, I think, the remaining chunk of this metal; enough to make 80 or so VC’s. It was locked away in a safe in a military storage depot somewhere in England. This amount of bronze itself is worth next to nothing, but because of its history and the use to which it was being put this particular chunk is priceless.

For more on the Victoria Cross see here.

BBC TV at its best.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Do the Australians really hate the English?

Not according to Professor Carl Bridge of the Australian Studies Centre at King's College London:
"It's because the English are seen as part of the family that they can be insulted round the dinner table. It shows the respect and rivalry that exists.
He has a point I think. I have an Aussie friend who enjoys throwing the odd insult; I know he doesn't mean it and that makes him mad.

By the way, in the article linked to above some French bloke says:
"The only memories I have of England and the English are unpleasant ones," muttered France's Imanol Harinordoquy. "They are so chauvinistic and arrogant!"
I think he means it. I don't want to seem arrogant but that's no great loss.

Quote of the day

After his Ignoble Disgrace, Satan was being expelled from Heaven.

As he passed through the Gates, he paused a moment in thought, and turned to God and said,

"A new creature called Man, I hear, is soon to be created."
"This is true," He replied.
"He will need laws," said the Demon slyly.
"What! You, his appointed Enemy for all Time! You ask for the right to make his laws?"
"Oh, no!" Satan replied, "I ask only that he be allowed to make his own."

It was so granted.

- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

Peter's monsters

Peter Hitchens declares that:
Michael Howard has been drafted in to keep the party warm for Michael Portillo.
I agree with him. I also think that's a couple of Michaels too many. I'm not sure I agree with Hitchen's starting paragraph though:
A squalid putsch and a series of dirty deals will not save the Tory Party. Nothing will save the Tory Party.
The tory party may not end up being the party that Hitchens wants but as an entity it is not finished yet. The public still thinks of the tory party as the party of low taxation and the only reason Labour are getting away with their tax and spend policies is because of the reasonably good economy. This will change, people will start hurting and middle England will stick New Labour good and proper. Maybe not this election; possibly the next.

By the way, I shall deny all knowledge of this posting if Hitchens is proved right.

UPDATE: Brian Micklethwait from samizdata.net:
This Labour government may limp back into office after the next election, but I believe that its days are now numbered.

Goodbye English Nature

It seems that the government is planning to abolish English Nature, the agency that is suppose to champion wildlife and geology conservation in England.
Ministers want the work to be taken over by a new body responsible for protecting the landscape and delivering services in local areas.
And I'm sure that they'll let us know how this differs from what English Nature does shortly. Honestly, I can't see the point. It is over 50 years old so perhaps it just needs the modernisation magic wand passed over it.
But environmental groups say this is a convenient measure, given English Nature's stance on some issues, such as its doubts about the commercial production of GM food.
Anyone hear that penny drop. Only someone as cynical as me could think that the government was just trying to vanish away a problem.
Tom Burke, on the board of English Nature, told the same programme: "It's potentially an act of barbarism. As far as I can see, what's proposed will amount to selling the biodiversity police to the agricultural mafia, and that's a completely outrageous proposition."
Mafia, vanishing away. Get the idea. Ok, there are two of us that think there's something of the night about this deal.
But Shadow Environment Secretary David Liddington said: "My fear is that the government just wants to get rid of an uncomfortable and inconvenient critic."
Erm, three of us.

Hey, look at that castle

I am at this moment waving at the figure that I can just make out standing in the castle ramparts. The drawbridge is up and there is a delightful smell of what could be roast beef wafting from the kitchens.
Hello, I'm searching for the Holy Grail.
I hope he doesn't already have one.

Do we really want to throw our lot in with the cockroaches?

Steven Den Beste, in a relatively short posting yesterday, attempted to crystallise why there’s so much friction between Europe and the USA.
Since then, those Europeans which Boyle refers to as "cockroaches" have been acting in their own self-interest, as have we. If we come into conflict, it primarily demonstrates how little we have in common.
He’s probably right, though a serious case of jealousy could also account for the conflict. Either way it does seem like Europe and the USA are in the playground squaring up to each other at the moment.
$ What did you call me?

An imperialistic bully.

$ Come here and say that.

Erm, no.

$ Asshole.
The Americans are not the only kid in the playground; look there’s little Johnny English:
£ What’s up here?

You keep out you American lapdog.

£ Come here and say that.

Erm, no.

£ Wanker.

It's nice to have a choice

Noelle Lenoir, France's minister for European affairs, has ordered all French schools to pin up a map of the EU and a summary of its constitution; the award of a "European citizenship" card to everyone who reaches 18; and the flying of the EU flag at all major sporting events next to France's national flag. Her aim is to promote awareness of the EU's "role in the management of issues and international crises".
Promote awareness of what?! Come on now, you're not fooling anyone. You just want an alternative flag to the French one - who can blame you for that?

Monday, November 03, 2003

Keep it in the family

It's all about the family business and nothing to do with the enemy class.
BSkyB has appointed media tycoon Rupert Murdoch's son James as its new chief executive, setting the scene for a bruising confrontation with shareholders.
James Murdoch's candidacy for the top job has been championed by his father, whose News Corporation media conglomerate is BSkyB's biggest shareholder, with a 35% stake.
Is this news? I don't know, but it does appeal to the cynic in me.

Holy cow

This album is brilliant. What's wrong with me?

It was only a few years ago that I was at a Motorhead concert. I've seen Metallica live, Queen's last ever tour, Deep Purple, ZZ Top, Clapton, Pink Floyd and it's come to this. Sweet Lord have mercy.

Free America

Petronella Wyatt thinks that the Americans have de-politically corrected themselves. She says that the Americans think there are:
more important things in life than hectoring people about their social behaviour.
and she suggests that the opposite is happening in Blighty.
The most extreme example of this unnatural shift is hunting. As a ban on hunting with hounds steals upon us, the Americans are hunting more than ever. This has been Virginia National Hunt Week, during which packs from all over the state take part in meets on the same day. I asked one of the participants why there were no anti-hunting protesters around wearing their placards and shouting the familiar abuse. He looked at me as if I had asked why there was not a herd of elephant nearby. ‘We don’t have any of those,’ he remarked. ‘No one ever disrupts a meet.’ Indeed, a group of jolly-looking cameramen were filming the hunt for a television station and, untypically for media types, were shouting out pleasantries as we rode past.
What about the guns Petronella, tell us about the guns.
Americans have become obsessed with the need to protect themselves. You can walk into a shop here — merely produce ID and proof of residence — and walk off with a shotgun. I nearly walked off with a mother-of-pearl-handled pistol — purely for aesthetic purposes — then remembered that there might be a tad of trouble getting it through customs.
Mother-of-pearl, very tasteful. One day I would like to visit this America. It sounds divine.

Sexy housing

Peter Hitchens is dissing property ownership:
The great British home-owning fetish has always looked like a dead end. Why do people think of their houses as assets?
Because generally that's what they are. Just because the price of a bigger house has also gone up it does not invalidate the fact that you now have an item (in this case a house) worth more than you paid for it.
So what have we gained? What do I care that the theoretical price of my house has risen? I live there. If I sell, I must either live on the streets or find another home, so the money is about as much use to me as if it were buried under 20 tons of ice and snow in the Ural Mountains.
You need to think of the long term Peter. True enough that most will be looking to upgrade their homes to bigger and better ones but this progression up the property ladder is not the end game of property ownership. The end game is when you decide to downsize, when the kids have left home and you no longer need the room. There's a whole lot of sexy assety goodness staring you right in the face.

Of course, you could have avoided this whole sordid fetish all together and rented a property instead. That way you could be really sure that you were property asset free. Much better.

You know what, this little chat about housing has got me all hot and bothered.

What would huggy bear say?

From this to this. Starsky and Hutch...
The 1970s cop show stars, normally associated with high speed car-chases, will be at the Caravan and Outdoor Leisure Show at Earls Court on Tuesday.
Let's never mention this again.

An iconic cycle

What has one small wheel, one big wheel, three gears and a bucket full of freaking attitude?

The Raleigh Chopper.

If there’s one iconic item from the youth of my generation this bike is it. You’d see the kids outside of the sweet shop sitting on their choppers, one foot on a pedal and the other on the ground, hand on the gear stick trying to look as cool as possible.

Some would have added tassels to the handlebars and others playing cards clipped to the wheels so that they would make clattering noises as the wheel turned. These kids knew that their bike was more than just a way of getting around. They were hard to ride, a little dangerous (doing a wheely on a chopper was a fine balance between cool points and injury) but the best looking bike on the streets.

So what can we say about the chopper today? What comparisons can we make between the youth of yesteryear and their choice of bike and the youth of today? What insight can we gain from the affect this bike had during its heyday?


The only thing we can say for sure is that this version is worth about £450 quid and I’ve got my old one sitting in my garage. Ha!

Quote of the day

I know that it's a bit early have a quote of the day but I doubt a better one will come to my attention today. If one does I'll be sure to punish myself.
I am not one who, to quote an American author, believes that democracy and enterprise have finally won the battle of ideas - that we have therefore arrived at the end of history, and there is nothing left to fight for. That would be unutterably complacent, indeed foolish. There will always be threats to freedom, not only from frontal assaults, but more insidiously by erosion from within. - Margaret Thatcher

Sunday, November 02, 2003

The Hunt

David Carr is reminded of a 'spaghetti western' by the pro-hunt movement. I've been receiving the Countryside Alliances grass e-route mailings since the early days of the organisation and have been very impressed with the sheer level of organisation and commitment shown by it and its members. They are a serious bunch of people who are, effectively, fed up to the hind teeth with the government and anti-hunt types trying to stomp on them. Their feelings are all too apparent so when David said:

It is still not clear whether the government will press ahead with the abolition of hunting in England and Wales (the ban has already passed into law in Scotland). But, if they do, and these people are good to their pledge, then they are quite capable of making life very difficult indeed for the authorities. In effect, a low-level civil war will be waged in the English countryside.
I found myself nodding in agreement.

When this does kick off you just watch the anti-hunt brigade bleat about how outrageous it is for the hunters to disobey the law, quickly forgetting their own law breaking as hunt saboteurs.

Saturday, November 01, 2003


The Group Captain runs a feature named Wanderings with my camera where he publishes a photograph that he's taken of an old bit of wood here and another of a throne there etc which seems like a jolly good idea to me. So I thought that I'd publish a photograph from one of my wanderings, this time from August 2002 taken with a Canon S20 digital camera.


Can you guess where this was taken? It's easy really.

The text files

If you're interested in the early days of the Internet and keen on its history you may find The Text Files interesting. They are a collection of text files from early BBS systems put together and maintained by Jason Scott who is keen to preserve the history that the files contain:
But I was there, and I played my part. There were things I saw firsthand and rumors I heard whispered on illegal telephone conferences late in the night, and there were a lot of words I read and a lot of places I traveled. I communicated with people who thought it was all a ridiculous joke, and others who thought they were refashioning the world, online, one message at a time. It would be foolish and, more importantly, a lie to say I saw and witnessed it all; I only saw a small part of everything that went on. But I think a lot of what I saw indicated what was happening all over the country, and later the world, and I want to share it with you.
Take a look around.


I wish I could make something like this up but, frankly, I'm not a comic genius.
MP suggests solution to Spam

Current email address is:


New address would be:


Sw1aoaa being his postcode and .co.uk so that we know where the email has come from so an end to .com though .com.uk would be fine.

Since some, especially children, might balk at giving their postcode in an email the postcode can be exchanged for a pin number so:

derekwyatt@aol.123456.co.uk or derekwyatt@aol.123456.com.uk

The pin code is held by the Information Commissioner's Office.

ISPs would have to be persuaded of the need to resolve jurisdiction of emails (14th Amendment US constitution) and if they can't, then EU and other governments would legislate.

So spammers would be traceable by postcode or pin number and country of origin.
Not only is the state not your friend, it is also round the bend.


Permalinks. Why don't they work in blogger? Would paying for my own host and blogging software prop up the class system?

Smell that coffee goodness

I laughed out loud I tell you. I caught Labour MP Diane Abbott on radio 5 live the other night trying to explain her decision to send her son to a private school when she has actively campaigned against others doing the same for their children.

To be fair to her she did admit to not having a leg to stand on (haha) and to being a hypocrite (haha) but she also said that:
Private schools prop up the class system in society
Frankly that's rubbish. It's just another service that some can afford and others can't.

This woman was worried that state education would not give her child the education that he needs so she paid for a better one; another class warrior wakes up and smells the coffee.