Friday, September 28, 2007

Plastic Bag Ban for London?

Please go here and give your opinions regarding a plastic bag ban (or levy) in London. There are only a few questions but the more people that respond to this survey the more likely the London Council is to see that this is an issue which Londoners care about and the more likely there are to introduce measures to ban or reduce plastic bag consumption in London.

Many thanks

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bloggers - 'Public Service Announcement'

It seems I am rather late to this story (having been somewhat busy recently) but better late than never.

It seems that two bloggers, Craig Murray and Tim Ireland, made blog posts concerning Alisher Usmanov. Usmanov is a Russian billionaire and now major shareholder in Arsenal Football Club. These blog posts were objected to by Usmanov’s lawyers. The webhost pulled the server on their blogs and Boris Johnson, Bob Piper and Clive Summerfield all ended up losing their sites because they were hosted on the the same server. Chicken Yoghurt states that they (Boris, Bon and Clive) are NOT associated with the dispute with Alisher Usmanov in any way.

I have little interest in the politics of Arsenal Football club, even though I live practically next door. Now however, thanks to Usmanov's lawyers, I have found out more information about the dubious past of one of it's shareholders than I care to know.

The following posts all link to this story, many in much more detail than I could ever hope to manage:

Curious Hamster, Pickled Politics, Harry’s Place, Tim Worstall, Dizzy, Iain Dale, Ten Percent, Blairwatch, Davide Simonetti, Earthquake Cove, Turbulent Cleric (who suggests dropping a line to the FA about Mr Usmanov), Mike Power, Jailhouse Lawyer, Suesam, Devil’s Kitchen, The Cartoonist, Falco, Casualty Monitor, Forever Expat, Arseblog, Drink-soaked Trots (and another), Pitch Invasion, Wonko’s World, Roll A Monkey, Caroline Hunt, Westminster Wisdom, Chris K, Anorak, Mediawatchwatch, Norfolk Blogger, Chris Paul, Indymedia (with a list of Craig Murray’s articles that are currently unavailable), Obsolete, Tom Watson, Cynical Chatter, Reactionary Snob, Mr Eugenides, Matthew Sinclair, The Select Society, Liberal England, Davblog, Peter Gasston Pitch Perfect, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe, Lunartalks, Tygerland, The Crossed Pond, Our Kingdom, Big Daddy Merk, Daily Mail Watch, Graeme’s, Random Thoughts, Nosemonkey, Matt Wardman, Politics in the Zeros, Love and Garbage, The Huntsman, Conservative Party Reptile, Ellee Seymour, Sabretache, Not A Sheep, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, The People’s Republic Of Newport, Life, the Universe & Everything, Arsenal Transfer Rumour Mill, The Green Ribbon, Blood & Treasure, The Last Ditch, Areopagitica, Football in Finland, An Englishman’s Castle, Freeborn John, Eursoc, The Back Four, Rebellion Suck!, Ministry of Truth, ModernityBlog, Beau Bo D’Or, Scots and Independent, The Splund, Bill Cameron, Podnosh, Dodgeblogium, Moving Target, Serious Golmal, Goonerholic, The Spine, Zero Point Nine, Lenin’s Tomb, The Durruti Column, The Bristol Blogger, ArseNews, David Lindsay, Quaequam Blog!, On A Quiet Day…, Kathz’s Blog, England Expects, Theo Spark, Duncan Borrowman, Senn’s Blog, Katykins, Jewcy, Kevin Maguire, Stumbling and Mumbling, Famous for 15 megapixels, Ordovicius, Tom Morris, AOL Fanhouse, Doctor Vee, The Curmudgeonly, The Poor Mouth, 1820, Hangbitch, Crooked Timber, ArseNole, Identity Unknown, Liberty Alone, Amused Cynicism, Clairwil, The Lone Voice, Tampon Teabag, Unoriginalname38, Special/Blown It, The Remittance Man, 18 Doughty Street, Laban Tall, Martin Bright, Spy Blog The Exile, poons, Jangliss, Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?, Imagined Community, A Pint of Unionist Lite, Poldraw, Disillusioned And Bored, Error Gorilla, Indigo Jo, Swiss Metablog, Kate Garnwen Truemors, Asn14, D-Notice, The Judge, Political Penguin, Miserable Old Fart, Jottings, fridgemagnet, Blah Blah Flowers, J. Arthur MacNumpty, Tony Hatfield, Grendel, Charlie Whitaker, Matt Buck, The Waendel Journal, Marginalized Action Dinosaur, SoccerLens, Toblog, John Brissenden East Lower, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Black AM, Boing Boing, BLTP, Gunnerblog, LFB UK, Liberal Revolution, Wombles, Focus on Sodbury…, Follow The Money, Freedom and Whisky, Melting Man, PoliticalHackUK, Simon Says…, Daily EM, From The Barrel of a Gun, The Fourth Place, The Armchair News Blog, Journalist und Optimist, Bristol Indymedia, Dave Weeden, Up North John, Gizmonaut, Spin and Spinners, Marginalia, Arnique, Heather Yaxley, The Whiskey Priest, On The Beat, Paul Canning, Martin Stabe, Mat Bowles, Pigdogfucker, Rachel North, B3TA board, Naqniq, Yorkshire Ranter, The Home Of Football, UFO Breakfast Recipients, Moninski , Kerching, e-clectig, Mediocracy, Sicily Scene, Samizdata, I blog, they blog, weblog, Colcam, Some Random Thoughts, Bel is thinking, Vino S, Simply Jews, Atlantic Free Press, Registan, Filasteen, Britblog Roundup #136, Scientific Misconduct Blog, Adam Bowie, Duncan at Abcol, Camera Anguish, A Very British Dude, Whatever, Central News, Green Gathering, Leighton Cooke (224), , Skuds’ Sister’s Brother, Contrast News, Poliblog Perspective, Parish Pump, El Gales, Noodle, Curly’s Corner Shop, Freunde der offenen Gesellschaft, otromundoesposible, Richard Stacy, Looking For A Voice, News Dissector, Kateshomeblog, Writes Like She Talks, Extra! Extra!, Committee To Protect Bloggers, Liberty’s Requiem, American Samizdat, The Thunder Dragon, Cybersoc, Achievable Life, Paperholic, Creative-i, Raedwald, Nobody’s Friend, Lobster Blogster, Panchromatica (251), Back off, man…, Dan Hardie, Krusenstern, Brendadada, Freace, Boriswatch, Fork Handles, Chris Applegate, Christopher Glamorgan, West Virginia Rebel’s Blog, Instapundit, Powerpymes, iDiligence Forum, Gizmotastic, Demos, Gary Andrews, Neweurasia , Never Trust a Hippy, sub specie aeternitatis, Bananas in the Falklands, The Sharpener, Virtual Light, Stu News, Scraps of Moscow, Danivon, As A Dodo, La Russophobe, PJC Journal, Mick Fealty’s Brassneck, dead brains don’t dance, A Comfortable Place, Bamblog, Robert Amsterdam, The Customer, No Longer at Ease, Rachel-Catherine, Humaniform, Mike Rouse, Chesus Yuste, anticapitalista, Aderyn Cân, Ulla’s Amazing Wee Blog (294), Ross200, Disruptive,, The Obscurer, A Lefty Down Under, Things I Learned or Made Up, Pickled Bushman, Persons Unknown (302).

Random Scary Thought...

... it's three months until Christmas. Where has this year gone?


I am now splitting my Monday evenings. On the first Monday of the month I attend the Fulham WI meeting. However, on the remaining Mondays of the month, instead of going home and watching Nigella I can be found helping at the cubs and scouts at my local Scout troop.

Telegraph article about an Islington cub scout pack here although my group is a different one in the area. Yes, we have some girls too and in the fitness challenge at yesterday's meeting easily beat the boys!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

Will be back with a proper post as soon as I am able but am up to my eyes in organisation at the moment: charity ball in December, hen party in January, masses to do at work, the list is endless.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Today is another 'blogging anniversary' - it is exactly one year since I placed a statistics counter on my blog.

This tracker has been the source of some interesting information regarding the reading habits of my 'readers'. I can see how people reached my blog - sometimes through rather amusing combinations of search words on google - and how long they spent reading the site. I have seen my average daily readers creep up and have noticed that that figure has hugely increased since I wrote something about the McCann issue.

It comes as no surprise to me that just over half the readers of this blog this year have been from the UK (55.6%) and that 15.2% are unknown. I was surprised to find however that people have read my writing from as far away as the USA, Canada, Spain, Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, Norway, Italy, Israel, Finland, and Germany. In fact, this blog has been read 7,638 times this year at an average of 62 times per day. I am quite amazed at that figure. I know it is not anywhere near the level of readership of some blogs, but for a personal blog which has no real continuity or theme, I find it pleasing.

The other thing which I was able to glean from the blog tracker was which pages are the most popular. Obviously tops the list, as anyone searching for it by name or following a link will come straight to that page. The rest of the top ten are as follows:

McCann facts?, McCann Questions, RMT & The Nigella Express, Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Out of the Tunnel, Carol Caplin & the WI, Sainsbury's Magazine & the WI, Book Review: The Time Traveler's Wife and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Again, a list which I do not find terribly surprising.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Global Cool vs Miller Cool

In July, Sienna was in India promoting the charity Global Cool.

On their website she is quoted as saying

"If you care about your planet, and want to do to something to help it, then you're in the right place."

In the last week or so she has appeared in the press photographed on a PR tour in celebration of her new clothing line Twenty8Twelve.

On the left she is in Toronto. On the right she is in New York.

For someone who supposedly cares so much about the environment, embarking on an intercontinental tour to promote a clothing line (which has no obvious references to being made in a fairly traded way in any capacity) seems an odd decision. A little hypocritical, if you like.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Female Football

Got home rather late last night after attending the launch party of a new fair trade fashion label. M and I made cheese on toast and sat down to eat it on the sofa whilst watching the end of the news. Once that was over we had the misfortune to continue watching something to do with sports and they were showing the highlights of the days Female Football World Cup. (I think thats what it was anyway).

They showed the England girls playing against Japan and losing a 2-1 lead in the last minute by a Japanese free kick. Watching those girls race around on the pitch in an undignified manner reminded me of the last time that I ended up watching this spectacle. On that occasion I noted how I felt that the female players brought a bad name to women and last night seemed to be no exception.

There was Kelly Smith tearing around, doing her best Keira Knightley in Bend it like Beckham inpersonation (only nowhere near as attractive) pulling off her (gold) boots to kiss them when she scored a goal. Obviously she was not content with the mere pointing to her name on her shirt which she indulged in during club football and felt she had to think of something even more arrogant and unladylike to bring to International football. And then, when she scored again, she pulled off both gold boots. What does she plan to do if they actually manage to win a match? It's bad enough the way that men behave when they play football, but women?

When interviewed afterwards many of the players all said that they hoped it would be an exciting match which will draw more viewers. Well, I certainly won't be bothering watching any more of their matches.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

McCanns - further questions

The McCanns seem to be surprised that they have been re-questionned and made suspects. I too am surprised - that this did not happen sooner. I would have thought that almost the first thing to happen in an investigation involving the disappearance of a minor would be to arrest, question and then charge or the release the adults who had last seen her alive. But then, nothing in this case seems to be done in the order that one would expect or answer the questions one would expect to have been answered.

The fact that it happened this way round, does I suppose make it into a bit more of an issue. The Portugese police suggested for months that they were not considered 'suspects', when it is now evident that this was not necessarily the case. I sincerely hope that whoever is making the decisions now regarding them as 'suspects' and whether or not to charge them has enough credible evidence to make the alternative consequences worthwhile. For surely any case involving parents as possible suspects in the disappearance/potential death of a minor will involve social services, and, in this case, as both parents are registered medical practitioners, of investigation by the GMC. It may not be a case of the McCanns not wishing to return to work - they may not be allowed to until the decision has been reached whether to charge them or remove them from 'suspect' status.


Not very impressed with Vogue or Conde Naste today. A subscription to Vogue is supposed to mean that the subscriber receives their copy of the issue a few days before the issue goes on sale on newsstands. I was expecting to receive the October issue of Vogue last Friday or Saturday. In the weekend papers, there were stories about articles in the issue, which went on sale on Monday. I have still haven't received my issue so I called the Conde Naste customer services line.

A recorded message informed me that there has been a technical difficulty and that all magazines would be delayed and should be received by 14 September 2007. This is not the first time that the has happened.

I also received an e mail last week asking if I wanted to review some perfume on my blog. I said that I might depending on whether I liked it. I was supposed to receive said perfume by the end of last week. If it does not arrive shortly I shall be naming the company instead of reviewing the perfume.

Friday, September 07, 2007

McCann Questions

Kate McCann has been named a suspect in the case of the disappearance of her daughter on 3 May 2007. This news has been splashed across the British press this afternoon. The BBC website shows the following as a timeline box. The BBC words are in italics and my questioning is in usual typeface.


  • Kate McCann tucks Madeleine into bed in their ground floor apartment.

  • Mrs McCann and husband Gerry then go to a nearby tapas bar, which has a clear view to their apartment, to eat dinner.

    The above picture was also published on the BBC News website but on 17 May 2007. I am not an expert but there do seem to be obstacles between the restaurant and the apartment. There is a swimming pool, loungers, what appears to be a fence. They may just about been able to have seen the apartment but what good would that have done? It would clearly take several minutes to reach the apartment from the restaurant.

  • The McCanns said in an interview they checked on their children every half an hour. At about 2200 local time Mrs McCann returns to the apartment to find Madeleine missing from her bed.

It has also been stated that Gerry McCann checked on his children at approximately 21.05 and that at 21.30 one of the males in the party offered to check on the McCann children when he checked on his own child/children, one of whom had been vomiting. It is alleged that this male only listened at the door rather than actually entering the room. It then seems that Kate McCann checked on the children at approximately 2200 and found that Madeleine was missing. That, to my mind, is not the same as actually checking on the children every half an hour. It also raises concerns in my mind that one of their party was happy to leave a child unsupervised that was or had recently been vomiting.

  • She goes back to her husband at the restaurant to raise the alarm and police are called.

This too is something that disturbs me. Allegedly there were three children there in the room that evening. We can be fairly certain that the twins were not taken and would have been in the room when Kate McCann entered and realised Madeleine was missing. Were they still asleep? Did she take them with her when she returned to the restaurant or did she leave them in the apartment? And if so, why did she leave them there when her eldest daughter seemed to have disappeared.

This story seems more and more odd. The parents state that they are drawing away from a media circus, yet they were happy to be interviewed by the Times this week. Each time they state their point of view there seem to be discrepancies. There are questions which no-one in the press seems to be asking. The parents seem convinced they did nothing wrong and repeatedly make the situation about them, not Madeleine. I hope that this new line of questionning provides some much needed answers, an end to speculation and a break through in finding Madeleine or her whereabouts.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Things I love about London

Things I love about London:

1. Walking through Lincoln's Inn on my way from Holborn to Chancery Lane each morning.

2. The ceiling in the Royal Courts of Justice.

3. Walking on Hampstead Heath in Autumn and sitting on the benches by the bathing ponds thinking in the peace and quiet.

4. Standing on Waterloo Bridge in the evening sunshine with the wind blowing my hair looking towards the city.

5. Reading the Evening Standard magazine on a Friday on the way to meet friends in the pub.

6. The open air theatre in Regent's Park.

7. Late night journeys in a taxi through the city.

8. The view from the Windows Bar at the Hilton on Park Lane.

This list is in progress.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

McCann facts?

Penny Wark writes in today’s Times that there is only one fact in Madeleine McCann’s case of disappearance – that she was taken from her bed. The rest, she says, is mere speculation. The article is well written, but I have to disagree. There are three facts of which we are sure: that Madeleine, aged almost 4 and her twin siblings, aged 2, were left on their own in the apartment whilst her parents ate supper, that this was not the first time that week which they had been left alone and that Madeleine disappeared from the apartment at some point between 8.40pm and 10pm.

I have hestitated to write about this fiasco; I would have liked, as I am sure everyone would, not least of all Madeleine and her family, for the situation to have been resolved quickly. But here we are, 124 days later with no more information and the same three facts. I’m not sure that it is worth debating the situation without any more factual information but given the interview that the parents conducted with the Times, despite saying last week that they wished to move away from the media circus, there are a few things which annoy me.

Gerry McCann states this:

“we know what we did and we are very responsible. It’s bad enough for us to have to deal with the fact that someone saw an opportunity – to then have elements sneering at your behaviour and making it look much worse than it was”.

I find it odd that a doctor can stand there and say that leaving three children unaccompanied in a foreign country in a rented apartment falls under the umbrella of responsible.

Kate McCann has been quoted saying that at worse they were naïve. Sadly, I think at best they were naïve.

She has also said:

"If I'd had to think for one second about it, it wouldn't have happened. I never even had to think like that, to make the decision. It felt so safe that I didn't even have to - I mean, I don't think we took a risk."

"If I put the children in the car the chances of having an accident would be greater than somebody coming in, breaking into your apartment and lifting a child out of your bed. But you never think I shouldn't put the children in the car."

Anyone leaving children unaccompanied is taking a risk. I find it odd that she can still be stating that she doesn’t think that she took a risk. I really don’t think that anyone is suggesting that she could or should have foreseen the danger of abduction. What she perhaps should have been thinking about are surely the other risks and dangers to a child, of which as a GP she must have been well aware, from awakening distressed and finding themselves alone to choking on vomit, to trying to get a drink and shutting hands in drawers or doors, or falling off something, or hurting themselves in someway or simply crying for almost half an hour before Mummy or Daddy returns to check.

There has to be more to this story.

UPDATE - I have just re-read Penny Wark's article and I notice that at one point she says this:

"As everyone is acutely aware, the reason we know so little about Madeleine’s disappearance is because she was abducted in Portugal" (my emphasis)

As she says at the start of the article, one of the few facts that we know is that she disappeared. I fail to see therefore how she can state as a fact that Madeleine was abducted and that the reason we know so little about the circumstances was because it happened in Portugal.

UPDATE 2 - The link in the comments box does not appear to work but can be read if you click here.

RMT & The Nigella Express

Managed to finish work at a decent time last night. My aim was to make my way to the September WI meeting on the New King's Road. Usually I get the tube but due to RMT industrial action there were no tubes. There were buses alright though, so I went to Fleet Street to catch one. I stood by that bus stop for over 50 minutes. 2 buses stopped. Those buses were only going as far as Waterloo. In the end I had to call and give my apologies and go home. The picadilly line was limping along with severe delays and we sat in the tunnel outside Russell Square for about 10 minutes waiting for trains to get out of the way at Kings Cross.

I was, am still am, furious. I am fundamentally opposed to strikes as a way to make a point or achieve decision making. They are, in my mind, akin to a toddler tantrum. I see no reason why the paying London public should have to suffer three days of misery because maintenance workers previously employed by metronet would like cast iron assurance that their pensions will remain in place and that there will be no streamlining by the administrators. Assurances have been given. TUPE no doubt applies. They are not the first workers to be facing this issue and they won't be the last. Jobs are not always as secure as we would like them to be. Striking does not really hurt Metronet; it is the paying passengers that suffer yet again. We suffered the effects of Metronet's appalling lack of ability to maintain the tubes, falling behind with repairs, allowing material to fall from roofs and impair lines. Derailments have occurred due to their incompetance. And now, the strikes.*

So I finally made it back to the house at about 8.15pm. I had not planned any supper because I had thought I would be at WI so I decided that salad and cheese scones would be the nicest supper. So easy to make yet so delicious, the way that the butter melts across the spongy surface of the hot scone, accompanied by ripe vine tomatoes and crisp gem lettuce, cucumber and spring onion, drizzled in the balsamic vinegar that we brought back from Italy. And I ate my food curled up on the sofa, watching television. A flick through the channels and settled on Nigella Express. I watched her going about her strange pretence of a busy lifestyle which involved taking taxis everywhere, including to the supermarket, but it was actually rather enjoyable to watch and the recipes looked fantastic. I think I will try and get hold of a copy of the recipe book to go with the series. I especially wanted to try the croissants and caramel sauce dish which she makes into a sort of bread and butter pudding and then curls up in bed to eat, clad in a black silk dressing gown. I imagine that there are many males who are not watching the series for the cooking.
*UPDATE - It seems that Gordon Brown agrees with me - that the strikes are completely unjustified. He even tells them to get back to work.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Do we really need a 7/7 inquiry?

I am desperately sorry for the acts of 7/7 and for the survivors and for the bereaved. I can entirely understand the 7/7 survivors groups need for answers. For the need for the government to provide those answers. I understand the need for details, to work out what was known and by whom and what can be learnt. What I don’t understand is what good collectively an Inquiry will do and who it will benefit?

The group says that they want the “Government to tell us the real truth about 7/7 and the events leading up to it”… that “this is not about compensation, or money, or blame, or stupid conspiracy theories - but simply about trying to save other people's lives by making sure the mistakes that led to the 7/7 bombers striking so devastatingly, killing 52, wounding over 700, impacting on thousands of lives - don't happen again”.

I can understand the need to want to save other people’s lives; for not wanting anyone to go through the hell which they have suffered. But what I don’t understand is how they think that the ‘cost’ (time, money, resources) of an inquiry will put the public in a better position.

Who will pay for the Inquiry? And who will conduct such an inquiry? Surely the resources being used in Counter-Intelligence should be used for current investigations, for protecting the general public right now, not poring over decisions made over 2 years ago.

What will it tell us? That they should have made different decisions? That there were clues and strands of intelligence which, given what we know now, with hindsight, indicate a more serious threat than thought at the time? I cannot see how it will give a definitive answer to which leads should be followed up, which people are more likely to be a terrorist threat than others. The Intelligence Services are, I suspect, making these decisions on a daily basis. I cannot see how the time and expense of an Inquiry into the decisions leading up to 7/7 is going to make them make ‘better’ decisions.

The Guardian says that “there were clues that, with hindsight, would have led to Khan, who led the July 7 attack, being identified as a threat. He was not, and the evidence of the errors points to a haunting conclusion: the bombings could have been prevented. It is the most serious missed opportunity we are aware of that counter-terrorism officials have been responsible for since the war on terror began. But there have been other mistakes in operations and in strategy”

For me, the essential words there are ‘with hindsight’. Lots of things are extremely obvious with hindsight. I can only imagine that there are millions of similar leads which could and have been followed up and which have not turned out to have lead to anything more sinister.

I agree that there are things that should be done differently. Ensuring the Home Secretary doesn’t make announcements before knowing whether they are correct or not might help. I just cannot see though how pursing a Judicial Review to force the government to carry out an Inquiry is going to make a difference to anyone other than the survivors group. And for that reason, I do not think that the expense justifies an inquiry.


I have said this before and I am sad to have to say this again. While everyone is entitled to their opinion and I welcome discussion and constructive criticism in relation to my posts, I cannot accept offensive comments and they will be deleted.

If you have something to say there are ways to say it which do not include swearing, insults or abusive criticism. Likewise, picking me up on my spelling is just unnecessary as is pointing out that I am middle class. I make every effort to publish posts which do not contain errors (factual or typing) but I am only human.