Tuesday, 29 June 2010

summer time and the living is easy


Life is good. After the grumps, the sun shines, it is warm and all is well with the world.

Well of course not the english football team. Nuff said.

We have had a fantastic couple of weeks. Social events, music, theatre, tv, reading, music good food and company. Excellent.

So where to start. Alistair and Nicola came up for the weekend and we had a very gentle time, but managed to get ourselves to the Walpole Arms, great food and wine. Huge advantage in that we went in their car!!

Then I had lunch with the Gianfrans, plus ride in the Masseratti, how grown up and growly is that?

Supper with the Wedges, garden perfect.

Tea with the Balls, supper with the Morphews, jolly discussion we were even able to discuss briefly, the unitary thing without a major diplomatic rift.

Carers week, launch at the Forum, High Sheriffs bash, good meetings of pretty well most of the organisations, all going really well despite the challenges.

On Thursday we are off to Yorkshire to meet Ian N. and do some walking.

Sad thing at this point is the sudden illness and death of Kenneth Graham. So sad, to hear of someone who was vibrant in January, when we saw him at Balmoral, and then such a rapid decline. Too terrible to contemplate really.

Anyway to pull ourselves out of too much introspection we are doing France and Spain next week, with Anita Heiss, should be a hoot. Bit worried about Sue and Anita off in the Mini Cooper S, off down through France in a sort of Thelma and Louise road trip, I trust without the same motivation and outcome.

Anyway it is nice to not have to sound off and be happy.

Friday, 18 June 2010


Well, what a charade.

The Congressional Committee, investigating the oil spill in the Gulf, is disgraceful. I fully understand the point that they are coming up to midterm elections, but the 'indignation' "I am insulted"  that they were not getting answers, is frankly pathetic.

When the rest of the world is genuinely keen to find out why, the CEO of BP was totally sensible to take the line he did, when he had to listen to an hour and half of lectures on how his company is guilty, now can you give us the evidence to hang you with? It was truly terrible.

The oil spill is dreadful. The deaths unforgivable. The damage to the economy and ecological system too horrible to contemplate. But they need solutions now not scalps. This is the not the time for a trial, and in fact the CEO is the person who is trying to deliver the answers. If in due course it is proved that he has been negligent then he will have to take the consequences. However the idiots on the Committee clearly have a simple politicians view of the way large organisations work. Please preserve us from such people.

With out the threats, the seriously bad litigious culture of the USA, and the tendency for everyone to jump on a damages bandwagon, then he may just have been more helpful. But what did these guys expect?

He first has to manage the disaster, then he is has to keep his Company solvent, he has a duty to everyone, including his share holders, of whom 40% are American. It is just not sensible to undermine his ability to fulfill these responsibilities.

Of course his style did not help with this Paxmanness interviewing technique. He was perhaps too calm. I personnally would have been inclined to show a bit of edge back.  But I fear there is a bit of a cultural difference here, but who would expect the Americans to make any allowance for that?

It was bad enough seeing our own politicians questionning David Kelly. That was too bad, but Congress makes our Select Committee, seem polite. Ours do seem to want to get evidence first.

However politicians generally are not equipped for this sort of task. Serious consideration should be given to limit their ability to call anyone to their Committees in the future, on the back of something going wrong. Leave that to lawyers who tend to be better at getting at the facts.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


There is much to consider. First the mind blowing nature of political hypocrisy.

Let me look for a moment at the USA. Obama is a great man. Or is he? Two issues are bothering me about his current regime.

First the BP disaster. OK so it is terrible. If it was caused by negligence then we need to know whose how and why? But in the meantime, where is the oil that is produced going to be used? The USA we presume. Who were the engineers engaged in the enterprise? Americans largely  we expect. 40% of the investors are American we are told. Who benefits by the Chief Exec being prosecuted or vilified, Obama I suspect. His statements are nothing but political opportunism.

Secondly, who seems to have authorised special forces to assassinate specific people? We are told it is Obama. OK so probably all USA Presidents have also authorised this to happen but what price the rule of law? It is simply not acceptable that any Country decides that their nationals can go around the world killing people in other countries. I hope that the UK Government will take every step possible to bring to justice anyone who commits this crime in the UK, whether it is sanctioned by the President or not. And indeed I hope that we would also look at whether he has committed an offence under our law. However uncomfortable that may be. Where capital punishment is allowable it should only be sanctioned after due process of law. We have enough of the cowboy approach to world affairs, that philosphy seems to cause more problems than it resolves. Obama is capable of so much better than this.

In the UK my concern is that our new Government ' the coalition' promised the lighter touch, local decision making, less targets, let the people at the front line have the power. Statement 1 from the new Secretary of State for Health is hospitals will be penalised for people who are readmitted within 30 days.  This is obviously a sensible objective but there are a hundred and one reasons why someone might be readmitted. If there is income or expenditure attached to events every detail thereof needs counting, anything that has to be classified and counted needs people to do it, and this adds to the bureaucracy, not reduce it. Where do these people live? Where do they get their ideas from? Who advises them? `It is just more of the same from a government that has promised to do different. Wrong!