Monthly Archives: October 2022

  • Bristol pavement parking petition

    p>Bristol Green Party is currently collecting signatures for a petition seeking to ban pavement parking within the city. It’s a major problem, particularly in those parts of the city where streets are narrow and footways (aka pavements. Ed.) are even narrower.

    Pavement parking makes it hard to walk safely, especially for those with disabilities, those pushing prams and buggies and those with low vision. People in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters are also badly affected. On top of this, the city is supposed to be promoting what’s called active travel, i.e. walking and cycling, as opposed to the use of tinned 3-piece suites, particularly those powered by fossil fuels.

    Pavement parking on Bannerman RoadPavement parking on Bannerman Road

    The text of the petition is as follows.

    To: Bristol City Council
    From: [Your Name]

    We’re calling on Bristol City Council to take action on pavement parking in Bristol by:
    1. Using its existing powers to ban pavement parking in Bristol now, where it can and where it’s needed; and
    2. Calling on the Government to strengthen councils’ powers to ban pavement parking where bans are needed.

    Sign the petition.

  • Robust systems?

    generic smartphone image
    Not safe in Troy hands
    Today the Mail on Sunday broke the news that the phone of one Mary Elizabeth Truss was hacked while she was Foreign Secretary before embarking on her disastrous seven weeks as the shortest serving prime minister of the English Empire (which some still call the United Kingdom. Ed.). The general consensus is that the Russians were the culprits and they were able to obtain private messages between Truss and foreign officials, including some about the Ukraine war.

    The security breach was discovered when Truss was campaigning for the Tory Party leadership in the summer, but was apparently hushed up on the orders of Truss’ predecessor, the equally useless disgraced alleged former party-time PM, one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who has since returned to his old habits of doing no work for his long-suffering constituents in Uxbridge & South Ruislip.

    It is also claimed that private conversations between Truss and her equally useless (and rapidly dismissed, serving less time in office than his boss. Ed.) Chancer of the Exchequer Kamikwasi Kwarteng criticising Johnson were also amongst the information acquired by the hackers, leaving the Britannia Unhinged duo at risk of being blackmailed. One has to wonder how much kompromat the Kremlin has on Truss, Kwarteng and other present and former members of the alleged government.

    Whilst all this is highly amusing to those of us on the left of the political spectrum, one disturbing aspect is the tone of the typical official .denial that a breach has occurred. According to The Guardian, a government spokesperson is reported as having stated the following:

    The government has robust systems in place to protect against cyber threats. That includes regular security briefings for ministers, and advice on protecting their personal data and mitigating cyber threats.

    Robust is another of those weasel words and stock phrases trotted out by officialdom when its shortcomings have been exposed.

    The adjective has two dictionary definitions, depending upon whether people/animals or objects/systems are involved:

    (of a person or animal) strong and healthy: and
    (of an object or system) strong and unlikely to break or fail.

    The only comment your ‘umble scribe can make on that is that the security breach would not have occurred had the government’s systems been robust enough, besides adding that if security is a major concern, Suella ‘Leaky Sue’ Braverman would not have been re-appointed as Home Secretary by this month’s Prime Minister only 6 days after she had been sacked by Ms Truss for a major security breach by using a personal – not official – email account to send privileged government information to a right-wing Tory MP and accidentally copying the message to another MP’s aide, who alerted Number 10.

  • Free digital workshops for over 55s

    Starting this Friday, Eastside Community Trust is organising a series of digital skills workshops for the over-55s from 12.30 to 2.30 pm as part of the Eastside Connect project.

    Eastside Connect is a peer-to-peer project that works with people over the age of 55, who live in Easton or Lawrence Hill. The project strives to harness the skills and experience both lived and knowledge base to enable participants to share and discuss their desires for what older people want to see and do in the area they live, either individually or collectively. We have a variety of activities, all asked for by those who attend such as “Cuppa to Connect” a time for tea and a natter, “Come dine with us” – a community meal and more recently “East Mingle” at Trinity Arts creating a way to connect through dance, music and discussion.

    Digital workshops poster

    The sessions are free and there’s the added lure of free refreshments, so if you’re free on Friday, an apprentice or fully qualified pensioner come along with your device – be it laptop, tablet or mobile phone – and problems and the delightful Gary and your ‘umble scribe will provide loads of useful advice and try to sort them out for you! 😀

  • Non-essential reading

    The corpse of the political career of one Mary Elizabeth Truss, briefly the English Empire’s shortest serving prime minister is scarcely cold and the vultures of the fourth estate have already surrounded the corpse and are tucking in heartily with the aim of depriving the gullible each to part with the sum of twenty of your English pounds; or so they would like to think.

    Harper Collins have somehow engaged Messrs Harry Cole and James Heale to draft her political biography.

    Screenshot of Harper Collons' forthcoming Truss biography
    That’s £19.99 too much.

    Cole’s Wikipedia page describes him as (journalist). Note the brackets; they are most important. Cole works for The S*n, so therefore cannot be a proper journalist. At this point, your ‘umble scribe is reminded of the wise words of John McDonnell MP, former shadow chancellor, as reported by Adam Bienkov of Byline Times.

    Tweet reads John McDonnell: I got a phone call saying I'm a journalist from The Sun. I said look you can be one or the other, but can't be both.

    James Heale is political editor of The Spectator, reputed to be the world’s oldest surviving weekly magazine. It also acts as a cheerleader for the Conservative Party.

    Your correspondent is wondering if, given the pedigree of the authors and their role to date as stenographers to the Blue Team, the original draft has been/is being written in crayon.

    Update 07/11/2022: The book is now out and Andrew Anothony in The Guardian has characterised it as “a 300-leaved lettuce that was past its sell-by date before it reached the shelves“.

  • Good news

    Alexander Boris de Pfeffel JohnsonGood news was received by your ‘umble scribe late yesterday evening: disgraced former party-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was withdrawing his candidacy for the Tory party leadership and this his bid to regain the premiership just three months after he had been ousted from 10 Downing Street in the wake of a mass resignation by no fewer than sixty government ministers.

    Since resigning as prime minister, Johnson has spent very little time doing the job he should be doing, i.e. representing the interests of his long-suffering constituents in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, speaking in debates and filing through the division lobbies to vote on legislation, preferring instead to take 3 holidays, whilst managing to fit in a lucrative public speaking engagement in the USA. On the return flight from his last holiday in the Dominican Republic, Johnson was reportedly booed by fellow passengers.

    Given his preferences, any sensible person would question what Johnson’s priorities actually are.

    AS per usual, Johnson’s priority is – as always – Johnson, as is apparent from his withdrawal statement, which was faithfully reported by this morning’s Grauniad and reproduced below.

    In the last few days I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who suggested that I should once again contest the Conservative party leadership, both among the public and among friends and colleagues in parliament.
    I have been attracted because I led our party into a massive election victory less than three years ago – and I believe I am therefore uniquely placed to avert a general election now.
    A general election would be a further disastrous distraction just when the government must focus on the economic pressures faced by families across the country.
    I believe I am well placed to deliver a Conservative victory in 2024 – and tonight I can confirm that I have cleared the very high hurdle of 102 nominations, including a proposer and a seconder, and I could put my nomination in tomorrow.
    There is a very good chance that I would be successful in the election with Conservative Party members – and that I could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday.
    But in the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.
    And though I have reached out to both Rishi [Sunak] and Penny [Mordaunt] – because I hoped that we could come together in the national interest – we have sadly not been able to work out a way of doing this.
    Therefore I am afraid the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds.
    I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.

    There are a number of comments one could make on Johnson’s statement.

    Firstly there’s the assertion at the very end ‘that this is simply not the right time‘. Indeed it isn’t. Johnson is under investigation for misleading the House of Commons, specifically for lying in the Commons chamber about the Partygate scandal. If found guilty, Johnson could faced suspension from the Commons (not a good look for a serving PM. Ed.) and if suspended would more than likely face a recall by-election, which polls suggest he would lose.

    Then there’s ‘I believe I am therefore uniquely placed to avert a general election now‘. Modest aren’t we sir? Johnson re-emerging as PM after having done more in living memory to disgrace the office (think of being the first serving premier to be sanctioned by the police whilst in office – and for breaking his own government’s regulations too – never mind lying to the queen to prorogue parliament, an action subsequently ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.Ed.) would be indicative not only of his but his party’s lack of integrity, morals and standards.

    Turning to the rifts in the Conservative party, Johnson remarks: ‘ I have reached out to both Rishi [Sunak] and Penny [Mordaunt] – because I hoped that we could come together in the national interest – we have sadly not been able to work out a way of doing this.‘ This is a well-aimed swipe at the 2 other leadership contenders, implying it’s their fault that the rifts in the Tory Party can’t be healed.

    Your ‘umble scribe doubts very much that with which Johnson tried reaching out to Sunak and Mordaunt was not an olive branch, but to ask them to withdraw and leave the field clear for him. When they refused Johnson issued the statement above,

    Finally, there is the widely reported claim – repeated above – that Johnson had the backing of 102 MPs. As a list of those 102 supporters has never been disclosed, this also must be regarded as more of Johnson’s dishonesty.

    PS: Never trust a man who combs his hair with a balloon.

  • Clowns and palaces, dogs and vomit

    Elizabeth Mary Truss, alleged Prime Minister of the English EmpireYesterday, one Mary Elizabeth Truss, inexplicably elevated to leadership of the Conservative Party by its members, resigned as the Prime Minister of the English Empire (which some still call the United Kingdom. Ed.).

    She was in office for a mere 45 days – the shortest tenure of any UK prime minister. Her nearest rival for that accolade is George Canning, who survived in office for 119 days before dying due to ill health in 1827.

    In her brief period of office, Truss proved just how incompetent and out of her depth she was in Number 10. In just 45 days Truss exhibited amply that she would be out her depth on a damp pavement, even though this was glaringly obvious during her time pretending to be foreign secretary (posts passim).

    In those few weeks, she has managed to do lasting damage, not least with a disastrous mini-budget, featuring included the biggest tax cuts since 1972, funded by a vast expansion in borrowing. This resulted amongst other things in a run on the pound, Bank of England market interventions and a rise in interest rates, particularly for those with mortgages to pay. This mini-budget cooked up by Truss and her then Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng; a budget from two passionate advocates of the free market that was roundly rejected by the markets themselves.

    How embarrassing.

    Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson The campaign to replace Truss has now started and, although no-one has yet announced any intentions to stand for the Tory leadership, one possible contender has already been mooted: the disgraced former party-time alleged prime minister, one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, a man whose journey to adulthood clearly involved the surgical removal of anything resembling integrity, whilst his narcissism was being force-fed like a goose destined to end up as the raw material for foie gras.

    Johnson’s term of office ended ignominiously with mass resignations – sixty in all – from his administration, during which 10 Downing Street became party central for politicians, civil servants and Conservative party workers during the coronavirus pandemic, the Partygate scandal.

    Johnson is still under investigation for misleading the House of Commons over Partygate. If found guilty, ordinary members of Parliament are suspended from the House, whilst government ministers so found are expected to resign their portfolio.

    Returning to Johnson’s buffoonery, there’s an old Turkish adage which seems eminently pertinent to Johnson, given his Turkish ancestry.

    When a clown moves into a palace, he doesn’t become a sultan. The palace becomes a circus.

    Upon his departure from Downing Street, Johnson memorably compared himself to Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a 5th century Roman statesman and politician who retired from public life and “returned to his plough”, only to return later to lead as its dictator.

    However, your ‘umble scribe believes that Johnson should forget any allusions to Cincinnatus* if he is seriously contemplating being a candidate to regain the Tory leadership. A more apposite comparison comes from the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament, Proverbs 26:11 to be specific.

    As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

    *Cincinnatus’ second term as dictator lasted a mere 21 days before his resignation. However, even a further 21 days of Johnson would be 21 days too many.

    PS: never trust a man who combs his hair with a balloon! 😀

  • Shropshire Star exclusive: Clun migrates 50 km

    Clun in the far south-west of Shropshire is quite a sleepy place with romantic castle ruins, some fine real ale pubs, a wonderful youth hostel in a former water mill and the Offa’s Dyke Path within staggering distance.

    It is a world away from Telford, the largest urban area within the ceremonial county with a population of 185,600.

    Nevertheless, Friday’s Shropshire Star reported that due to dodgy website tagging and editing, Clun has moved 50km (that’s 30 miles in old money. Ed.) and has now been absorbed into the unitary authority of Telford & Wrekin, as shown by the following screenshot.

    Screenshot of Shropshire Star article placing Clun within Telford

    The reaction of the good burghers of Clun to the news of the town’s eastward migration has not yet been reported. 😀

    However, the fact that the article’s tagging bears no relationship to the copy hints that the tags are edited by a different person to the one writing the actual report.

  • Twins?

    A couple of days ago, your ‘umble scribe escaped his normal stomping ground to visit the local castle in Caldicot (Cil-y-Coed) in Monmouthshire, South Wales, which has existed in some form since about 1100.

    Caldicot Castle entrance

    The tour of the castle and environs was followed by a splendid breakfast at the Aroma Café in the centre of Caldicot.

    Travelling back to Severn Tunnel Junction on the outskirts of Rogiet for the return train entailed joining the Wales Coast Path just past Caldicot railway station, where your correspondent observed the station sign was looking somewhat the worse for wear.

    Caldicot station sign

    Note the heavy peppering by air pistol or shotgun pellets.

    Your ‘umble scribe could not help but be reminded on what seems to be a tradition on Crete of taking potshots at road signs.

    Cretan road sign with ammunition holes
    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

    On Crete there is a tradition of firing off weapons at such celebrations as marriages and the island is also reputed to have the highest level of gun ownership in the entire EU. According to Greek news site Ekathiremini, there are estimated to be between 600,000 and one million illegal firearms on Crete, which has a population (2021 figure) of 617,360.

    Are Cretans carrying on a tradition of their homeland in South Wales or is this local traditional vandalism? Have your say in the comments.

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