Saturday, 26 July 2014

The Cheviot, The Stag and the Black Black Oil

The quality is poor but the story excellent.  If you have one and a half hours to spare on a wet afternoon or evening then it’s worth viewing.

I’ve had this in draft form for a week, but thought the weather was too good for anyone to sit inside at a computer.

Rain is forecast here later today and TV is usually rubbish on Saturdays, so perhaps you will view it over the weekend.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Ban The Burqa

At long last a Muslim speaks out.  I agree with him, do you?

I’ve also found an interview Taj Hargay had with David Frost three years ago.  He was of a similar opinion then although the article writer alleges he was not an imam.  Does that matter?

It’s quite concerning how the radical feminist lobbies are progressing in the UK.  Back in the 60s I supported the calls for equality between the sexes but I had no idea then that, a few decades later, men would become so invisible in society.  

We are government mainly by men, but women now dominate society. Earlier today I read that 47% of babies today are born out of wedlock.  There is a noticeable absence of fathers in many children’s lives.

I digress.  Recently the European Court of Human Rights upheld France’s burqa ban, accepting Paris’s argument that it encouraged citizens to ‘live together’.  The case was brought by an unnamed 24 year old French citizen of Pakistani origin, who wears both the burqa, covering her entire head and body, and the niqab, leaving only her eyes uncovered.

She was represented by solicitors from Birmingham.  Why? Are there no human rights lawyers in France?

Belgium introduced a similar ban in 2011.

What are we afraid of? Ban the burqa. It’s everyone’s right to interact with someone by looking them in the face and any legislation should also include the necessity for the removal of face coverings, scarves, veils, turbans, helmets etc for security checks.  

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Germany Proposes Another Nice Wee Earner

For many years I’ve been aware the UK was the only country in the EU which didn’t tax foreign heavy goods vehicles.

However, that has been finally amended and without any blaring trumpets, the legislation came into being on 31 March of this year. The charges in this country depend upon vehicle type, weight and the number of axles and range from £1.70 to £10 a day with a yearly cap of £1000.

Germany has a truck toll which charges per kilometre rather than the day. Obviously more money to be made for their coffers using this system.

Now the Germans want to go one better.  They are proposing a car toll in an attempt to make money from millions of foreigners. The excuse is that ‘it wasn’t fair that foreign drivers do not contribute to maintaining the roads’.

Alexander Dobrindt (above second from the right) plans to introduce toll stickers in 2016 for all cars using any roads in Germany, not just autobahns.  Foreign drivers will be able to get a one year, two month or 10 day sticker online or at filling stations and the cheapest option - the 10 day sticker - will cost €10 (£7.95). The plan is to adjust the car taxes of German drivers so as they will not pay more overall.

Dobrindt suggests the proceeds could produce €2.5 billion euros and he has little doubt that it will be compatible with EU law.

Considering the number of years the UK government has hummed and hawed about a foreign heavy goods vehicle tax not being in line with EU law - when l other EU countries had introduced it years ago - how long will it take Westminster to catch up?  

Monday, 7 July 2014


Team Scotland’s Commonwealth Games parade uniforms were unveiled the other day to a mixed reception.

Obviously no expense has been spared, as is usually the case when public money is involved, but there’s something wrong with these outfits. Is it the mustard socks? The lack of a belt or tie for the men?

The tartan is pleasant enough but it’s the blue that is wrong.  In the tartan the blue looks much more subdued instead of the chosen garish sky blue which obliterates the colours of the tartan.

The lassies’ frocks are a definite throw back to the 70s.  I remember wearing a similar wrap-round style then.

What was wrong with a well tailored modern shift dress in tartan for the women and a shirt matching the turquoise in the tartan for the men?

I’m presuming the bowler-hatted person in the photograph is the textile designer and artist Jill Blackwood who states the blue shirts and flowing wrap round dresses were inspired by the Saltire flag.

The athletes like their outfits of course - who would be crass enough to be negative about a freebie? 

To confuse you even further, there will be another tartan on display at the games. That’s the one created by school pupil Aamir Meymood (see below).  It will be used at ceremonies such as the presentation of medals.  I can only hope Ms Blackwood isn’t involved is designing the outfits using Aamir’s tartan.

It’s big and bold.  We’ll have to wait to see if it’s used in the traditional Highland dress manner or used casually like Team Scotland’s outfits.  I’ll be viewing from the comfort of my settee and the thought of battling through crowds has no appeal.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Bannockburn Live - It Certainly Wasn’t Lively

What we didn’t see

A group of friends and myself decided, last week, to treat ourselves to a day out at Bannockburn Live. One of the group knew people who were involved with the enactments and he said they would be top class.

We all booked our tickets online - at £22 a pop - and set off in jolly mood.  The journey took about an hour and we should have foreseen problems when we neared Stirling, but decided they were related to the Armed Forces Day being celebrated nearby.

As we’d booked too late for our tickets to be posted, we searched around for some form of kiosk for ticket collection. Nothing. Eventually we were instructed to join a very lengthy queue buying tickets.  It took one hour and 12 minutes to collect our tickets before we could enter the event. Some were ‘gasping’ for a coffee by then and queued for 15 minutes for the privilege.  I won’t mention the price.

To cut a long story short, we never saw any of the enactments.  We - again - queued for over two hours to enter the arena, when we noticed the cut-off point was way ahead of us. It was only by talking to others that we discovered a numbers for each event were restricted.

The poor weather contributed to our decision to cut and run. None of us fancied queuing longer in the hope we would see an enactment and one of the party was finding it hard going as she has limited ability walking.  She had enquired about seating prior to booking and was told there would be plenty seating all around. Untrue.

What a shambles it was. So many, like the eight of us, left feeling despondent and one couple had travelled from Dornoch just to support a friend who was part of an enactment group. They left in obvious disgust.

Today the event organiser ‘apologised if anyone was inconvenienced’.  How pathetic.

This could, and should, have been a splendid event particularly when £650,000 of taxpayers money was involved, but I should have done my homework more efficiently.  What I hadn’t realised was that VisitScotland and the private company Unique Events were the organisers. With years of client experience with VisitScotland I know they are poor at organising anything other than a wee shindig in one of their favourites hotels - such as Gleneagles. Anything more is beyond their capabilities.

Bannockburn Live certainly wasn’t lively for our group.  All that could be seen were queues and more queues.  What a waste of £176.  For a few pounds more we could have had an appetising afternoon tea in Cromlix House, Andy Murray’s hotel near Dunblane. There wouldn’t have been a queue in sight.

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