Category: Politics

Compare and Contrast.

A picture says more than 1000 words

Last week Rishi Sunak flew on a private jet to Leeds and back. He also did a quick trip to Scotland for lunch meeting with Nicola Sturgeon using the same method of transport. The taxpayer picked the tab for these two trips.

The “PM” clearly is doing his “green credentials” no good at all. Flying in private jets is not recommended by climate change experts

Meanwhile Greta Tuneberg was protesting in Germany against the expansion of a huge, lignite (brown coal), opencast mine.

Greta got arrested, but she was later released. Sunak got back in time for tea.

Sir Grayson Perry.

Well done Grayson Perry. He is to be knighted for services to the arts.

His Art Club tv series on Channel 4 was a real tonic during lock down. It kept us all sane.

He is an artist who also makes a point of not charging admission to his exhibitions and visitors turn up in droves as a result.

It is a shame that a knighthood these days can be had by a Tory party donor for a bag of cash.

So it somewhat devalues the honour given to likes of Grayson Perry who earned it, rather than paid for it.

Sir Greyson’s knighthood is richly deserved and it also gives him the excuse to buy a brand new frock for when he goes to the Palace to get his gong.

Good on him!

My days, it cannot be happening, can it?

The press reports about Boris Johnson has been given summaries of sensitive material via WhatsApp for administrative ease raises the question as to what the prime minister uses his red boxes for.

Somewhere to keep his colouring book and crayons?

Do they double up as his lunch box, or maybe somewhere to stash his party snacks?

Boris Johnson gets summaries of sensitive government material via WhatsApp

Pinch me.

In the week that fires still rage in Australia. Matt Hancock comes out with this on Radio 5.

I must be dreaming, did the really say this when asked if we should all be flying less?

This was posted 3 years ago time before the current PM was using a private jet like an Uber.

Climate Conferences and Contrails

Another Climate Conference in Madrid made think today:

Recycle/use less plastic

Eat less meat

Avoid air travel

Try to live car free

These are some of the things one could do to help save the Planet for future generations.

According to Greenpeace one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions and hence climate change is to “skip the airport” as air travel is so energy-intensive.

The UK is one of the biggest nations when it comes to consumption of aircraft flights. Admittedly we do live on an island, but Britons took 126.2 million flights in 2018. This figure is set to rise even further according to most forecasters.

Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Rachel Kennerley admits: “Some trips can only realistically be made by plane, but aviation plays a big part in contributing to climate change. So it is worrying if a significant proportion of the British public think that people should be able to travel by plane as much as they like.”

The Science is now out there. Check out for yourself and see what each flight produces using a Carbon Footprint calculator and remember it is not just carbon dioxide, but there are other pollutants produced by aircraft that contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Having flown a lot in the past, in ignorance of the eco-mess I was creating, I cannot really sit in judgement and start flight-shaming those that choose to fly in the future. But in 2020 I am not going to fly anywhere and make things worse. #flightfree2020

A train trip and then some.


It seems not that long ago, but in the Summer of 1989 and I was living in West Berlin. Spending a “year out” working in Germany as part of my degree course had been a fantastic experience, but now it was time to return to the UK.

It was a time of flux. People were leaving the Eastern Bloc in droves through the newly opened border between Hungary and Austria. Rumours were flying around about the political future, yet the Berlin Wall was still up and I needed to get back home.

The easiest way to get to and from the West was via Tegel Airport. That way you could avoid the hassle of travelling along the transit stretches of motorway or taking the trains through East Germany.

Nevertheless I decided to go by train, as I had to lug a fair bit of stuff back after clearing out of my flat.

At that time there was the only station that you could get a train out of West Berlin. It was called “Bahnhof Zoo” by the locals, it only had a couple of platforms, that were raised above the street level and it was a dark and depressing place.

The train I was due to catch ran overnight to Brussels. As soon as it arrived I jumped on and quickly sat down, dumping all my stuff in the first compartment that I came to. There was no point in getting settled, as the East German border control would be coming up soon.

The only other person already in the compartment was a young bloke, who was decked out in a classic “Chairman Mao” suit. He also wore a matching hat with the red star above its peak. The hat was as far better fit than his trousers, which were about 4 inches too short for him.

Like me he also had a fair amount of luggage. Most of his gear was stuffed into two huge laundry bags. The ones made of woven nylon that are virtually indestructible, but once the zip goes you have had it and they are rendered useless.

The East German border guards came on the train and checked our passports and visas without a hitch and then we were on our way. It turned out that “Chairman Mao” was in fact a Scouser called Gavin. He was on his way home to England as well.

The train we were on was from Moscow and Gavin had been on it from the start. I had a made up some food and brought some beer for the journey which we shared and we got chatting.

Gavin had been working as a nurse out in Australia on a short term contract and when it ended he just decided to come back surface rather than fly home. He travelled through Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand mainly by train. One thing he noticed along the route was wherever he stopped, no matter how remote it was, you could just as easily find someone selling cans of Coke, as you could get your hands on a bowl of rice.

He avoided travelling through Vietnam and Cambodia, but had to endure a bumpy bus ride through Laos in order to reach the Chinese border.

“What was China like?” I asked. “Totally alien. Like being on a different planet” replied Gavin.

Wherever he went he was just gawped at. China was only opening up after being a closed country for so long. Not many people would approach him, which made sense as most had probably not seen a Westerner before. They just stood and stared.

He was out there for almost a month, but knew it was time to leave when he realised he was talking to himself on the street one day. “It just got a bit overwhelming, and I also got tired of everybody spitting everywhere.”

So he bought a train ticket from Beijing back to the UK, which must have cost him buttons compared to today’s prices.

“Avoid the Mongolian dining car,” was his advice about The Trans-Siberian railway which in itself sounded an amazing experience. Gavin described one “Genghis Kahn” look a like who raced the train for a while on horseback just for a bit of fun, before wheeling back to his camp.

A mis-calculation of the journey time meant he ran out of clean clothes. Hence the Chairman Mao suit, bought as a gift for his Dad, was pressed into service.

The next morning we were able to catch the Jetfoil from Ostend to Dover. In the days before the Eurostar it was the quickest way to get over the Channel.

The train station at Dover Docks was dank, and depressing and a bit of a let down after the speedy boat crossing. The slam door train to London Victoria was old and grubby. Welcome back to Blighty!

To cap it all Gavin failed to impress the British Rail guard with his Beijing to Birkenhead rail ticket. Folded and creased, it had certainly seen better days. It was made from the waxy carbon paper that you used to see on the old style airline tickets. It had a few holes punched in it by previous ticket inspectors.

The guard stood there giving a clearly tired “Chairman Mao” a knowing look.

“No need to start on one mate” said Gavin in his broad Scouse accent, “Think about it. If that ticket has got me this far already, it will do you!”

Gentrification – The Sourdough Index

I went to buy some bread from a baker’s shop in a smart part of town the other day.

When I asked for a small “Wholemeal”, I was told that they had none. It was a not a case of running out, but they did not sell wholemeal loaves at all. The nearest they had to that was a “mixed grain sourdough loaf”.  One of three types of sourdough bread they stocked in the shop. It looked lovely stuff too.

Nevertheless I was a bit taken aback. Is this the price of gentrification?

Added to this I know the looks I would get if I asked for sourdough bread in my local bakers.

 

World Refugee Day

Today I read that it was World Refugee Day. Thanks to The Guardian newspaper for printing a hard copy of the List. This is a list of 34,361 people who have died trying to reach Europe since 1993.

This List is cold, harsh and to the point.

A hard copy was given away as part of a supplement with today’s (20 June 2018) print edition of the Guardian. I only came across it as a scrabbled around for the sport section of the newspaper.

It makes sobering reading.

You can download a pdf copy of the list here.

 

Classic one liners……7

Dennis Skinner was at it  yet again today. Unfortunately the State Opening of Parliament clashes with Day 2 of the Royal Ascot Race meeting and it is no secret as to where the Queen would rather be.  It is a perfect opportunity for Dennis to just do what he does best.

Even in what was a shortened ceremony Black Rod still came knocking on the door of the House of Commons to summon MPs through to the so called Upper Chamber in order to hear the Queen’s Speech. This is the way things work in our Parliamentary Democracy. The Queen sits in the House of Lords and tells someone to fetch the Commoners to hear what she has to say.

Not for the first time and hopefully not the last Dennis Skinner delivered yet another classic one liner.

Maybe we will not have to wait 2 years to hear the next one.

 

 

 

Even at the start of the clip you can see the thumbs up greeting from the MP for Bolsover to the man sent down from the Lords, so we could all see it coming.