Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Then and Now

May 2013: Lord Sugar attacks the EU, says Brussels is an obstacle to his companies’ success:

“When I started my business years ago, to take on the first person, the second, the third, was bad enough – but now we have a further obstacle to worry about: the political correctness of things, the claims culture, and the health and safety. It’s no wonder some small businesses say it is too onerous and they won’t hire anyone. I blame the fact that we are part of Europe. I blame the fact that the Government doesn’t have the guts to say to Brussels: I don’t like it, we should start taking control of our own safety and health regulations and our own claims culture. I’ve been told we can’t because we are in Europe. I say, enough is enough! We are Britain; we were once a great industrial nation and now you’ve turned us into a nation of ambulance chasers and moaners and wastrels.”

25 May 2016: Lord Sugar appointed government’s new business tsar.

31 May 2016: Lord Sugar lovebombs the EU, says Brussels is responsible for his companies’ success:

“I’ve been in business for 50 years. I’ve seen some pretty daft ideas in my time. And I’ll tell you one of them: Britain leaving the EU… When we entered the EU, it was a breath of fresh air for me. It opened up a massive market. I was free to sell to and buy from who I wanted and where I wanted. Honestly, that’s how my companies prospered… So, for the sake of Britain, I hope you trust me and my instincts, and, on June 23rd, vote to remain.”

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Brexit and the Cost of Housing

A non-influential think tank (on a good day that is) the Barrington Omniscient Lackadaisical Laboratory Of Claptrap Kick-ass Stuff has reported that leaving the EU will result in an overnight doubling, possible trebling of house prices for existing house owners. Whilst those wishing to purchase houses will have easy access to unlimited funds to purchase said properties thus solving the current housing crisis.
The detailed research (looking through the bottom of empty pint glasses) is not available to mere mortals. This methodology is radically different to that used by the Chancellor Of the Exchequer - he uses bottles of Chablis when doing his sums - but the results are equally valid (note that he is predicting an 18% fall in value when we leave).
Whether we will notice any of this as we are busy fighting World War 3, plagues of frogs and other stuff is anyone's guess. Still as Lord Barrington reportedly said, "Everyone is coming up with stupid predictions and forecasts so I thought that I should join in. My rubbish is as good as the next man's and that includes the current Prime Minister".
Make of it what you will, but remember you read it hear first folks!

Friday, 13 May 2016

RCET - Fifty Year on Reunion

Did you study engineering at Rugby College of Engineering Technology (RCET), which became Lanchester Polytechnic and is now East Coventry University between 1966 -70? We are organising a "Fifty Year On" Reunion. Please contact me if you were there then.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Why Play Rugby?

Copied from Rugby Old Bloke's Blog

A Poem for old rugby players………..
When the battle scars have faded
And the truth becomes a lie
And the weekend smell of liniment
Could almost make you cry.

When the last rucks well behind you
And the man that ran now walks
It doesn’t matter who you are
The mirror sometimes talks

Have a good hard look old son!
The melons not that great
The snoz that takes a sharp turn sideways
Used to be dead straight

You’re an advert for arthritis
You’re a thoroughbred gone lame
Then you ask yourself the question
Why the hell you played the game?

Was there logic in the head knocks?
In the corks and in the cuts?
Did common sense get pushed aside?
By manliness and guts?

Do you sometimes sit and wonder
Why your time would often pass
In a tangled mess of bodies
With your head up someone’s……?

With a thumb hooked up your nostril
Scratching gently on your brain
And an overgrown Neanderthal
Rejoicing in your pain!

Mate – you must recall the jersey
That was shredded into rags
Then the soothing sting of Dettol
On a back engraved with tags!

It’s almost worth admitting
Though with some degree of shame
That your wife was right in asking
Why the hell you played the game?

Why you’d always rock home legless
Like a cow on roller skates
After drinking at the clubhouse
With your low down drunken mates

Then you’d wake up – check your wallet
Not a solitary coin
Drink Berocca by the bucket
Throw an ice pack on your groin

Copping Sunday morning sermons
About boozers being losers
While you limped like Quasimodo
With a half a thousand bruises!

Yes – an urge to hug the porcelain
And curse Sambuca’s name
Would always pose the question
Why the hell you played the game!

And yet with every wound re-opened
As you grimly reminisce it
Comes the most compelling feeling yet
God, you bloody miss it!

From the first time that you laced a boot
And tightened every stud
That virus known as rugby
Has been living in your blood

When you dreamt it when you played it
All the rest took second fiddle
Now you’re standing on the sideline
But your hearts still in the middle

And no matter where you travel
You can take it as expected
There will always be a breed of people
Hopelessly infected

If there’s a teammate, then you’ll find him
Like a gravitating force
With a common understanding
And a beer or three, of course

And as you stand there telling lies
Like it was yesterday old friend
You’ll know that if you had the chance
You’d do it all again

You see – that’s the thing with rugby
It will always be the same
And that, I guarantee
Is why the hell you played the game!


It has been credited to Briton Ferry RFC (the rugby one not the Light Brigade, obviously) on the internet but I don’t know if that is true.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Law of Unexpected Consequences

Scientists have found electric, hybrid and other supposedly eco-friendly cars produce as much toxic particulate pollution as the “deadly diesels” they are meant to be replacing.

The tiny particles are produced by tyre and brake wear. This happens in all cars, including diesel and petrol, but eco-vehicles produce more because they are heavier, owing to the batteries and other parts needed to propel them. The extra emissions are roughly equal to the particulates saved by reduced engine use.

The added weight of eco-cars means that when they accelerate or slow down, the tyres and brakes wear faster, producing more particulates. The weight also whips up more particles from the road surface.

“We found that non-exhaust emissions, from brakes, tyres and the road, are far larger than exhaust emissions in all modern cars,” said Peter Achten, whose research is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

“These are more toxic than emissions from modern engines so they are likely to be key factors in the extra heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks seen when air pollution levels surge.”

Achten, who runs a scientific consultancy in Holland, and his co-author Victor Timmers, of Edinburgh University, used technical data from the motor industry and government research agencies, including direct tests of brake, tyre and road wear rates, to show that the non-exhaust emissions produced by a vehicle are directly related to its weight. They also built a database of vehicle weights.

“We found that electric and eco-friendly cars typically weigh 24% more than conventional cars,” said Achten.

The findings fit with anecdotal complaints from electric and hybrid car owners that their tyres wear out faster than on conventional vehicles.

The impact of non-exhaust emissions has long been suspected but is hard to measure. Scientists at Hertfordshire University overcame this problem by installing particulate air pollution monitors in the southbound Hatfield tunnel on the A1(M), which carries up to 49,000 vehicles a day.

They found each vehicle produced 34-39 micrograms of particles per kilometre but only a third came from the engine.

The rest comprised mainly tiny pieces of bitumen whipped up from the road, rubber from tyres and brake dust. In towns — where cars brake and accelerate more often — this proportion may reach 90%.

Such findings are a problem for policy-makers whose anti-pollution efforts have been focused on regulating engines. Professor Ranjeet Sokhi, of Hertfordshire University, who led the study, said: “This highlights the significance of non-exhaust emissions and a need for legislation.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the industry was working to make eco-friendly cars lighter. “Such vehicles have zero or ultra-low tailpipe emissions and have energy recovery systems, which limit the need for active braking, reducing brake and tyre friction that may contribute to particulate emissions.”

Toyota, a market leader in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell cars, said the firm had no data on particulate emissions from brakes and tyres but added: “An advantage of hybrid cars over diesel is that nitrogen dioxide and hydrocarbon emissions are incomparably better.”

Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at King’s College London, said one hope lay in changing the composition of tyres and road surfaces. “Non-exhaust PM [particulate matter] emissions are greater than exhaust and we do not have regulations to deal with these emissions.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said eco-vehicles still had huge benefits in cutting CO2 emissions.

Friday, 6 May 2016

The Right to Know

Do we have a right to know everything? If a public person has an "illicit" relationship do I have an absolute right to know or is the person entitled to privacy? What if the relationship is going through a rough patch and one of the parties is seeking solace elsewhere and then the couple get back together? Would revelation in the media help or hinder the reconciliation?
If the public figure is someone whose moral compass is part of his job; the Archbishop of Canterbury, an Inman, the Chief Rabbi, a Catholic priest then I would argue that yes I have a right to know. But if he or she is a pop star, an actor, a leading businessman then what right do I have to pry into their life?

If the person is involved in making public policy or has influence on it, or a public figure deliberately projects a public image that is at odds with their actual behaviour, then the public has an interest - as in a stake, an investment (actual or metaphorical).

If the person has no influence on public policy then there is definitely no vital public interest in knowing about their private life. If the person is a mere "celebrity" then any claimed "public interest" may well in fact be mere prurience and an interest in tittle-tattle.

I think the David Furnish case qualifies as being in the public interest to know about because he and his partner have had and continue to have an influence on public policy, they promote a lifestyle and project an image of themselves that appears to be at variance with actual behaviour.

Promoting the gagging of reports of misbehaviour of an actor as an affront to free speech and press freedom is a poor example, in my humble opinion.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

A Few Days in Devon

Last week we spent a few days in Devon opening up the lodge. On the way down we stopped at Salisbury Cathedral and saw the Sophie Ryder statues in the grounds. They were really stunning.



This is the statue that people kept walking into.

The cathedral


The lady in blue is not by Sophie Ryder


Black swan and cygnets (a few days old) at Dawlish

Proud parents


It was cold by the sea front

We did a brisk walk

Stourhead on the way home