Sunday, 13 December 2009
Eat too much, especially anything high in sugar or fat (you are on the road to obesity!)
Drink more than half a glass of wine (that is your recommended quota)
Put up decorations or lights (you might fall off the ladder)
Ring the church bells (noise pollution)
Sing carols in the middle of the road (you have been warned!)
Mention the birth of Jesus (you might offend a minority)
Give extravagant Christmas presents (you can’t afford it)
Make jokes (they will probably be politically incorrect)
Put a piece of silver in the Christmas pudding (someone might swallow it)
Set fire to the pudding (an obvious hazard)
Pull crackers (again, clearly dangerous)
Let off fireworks (too obvious for comment)
Kiss under the mistletoe (you might exchange a deadly virus)
Play silly games (you could injure yourself or others)
Attend a Boxing Day Meet (definitely not a government-approved activity)
Drive to see friends and relations (what about your carbon footprint?)
Put your rubbish in the wrong bin
My advice is to spend Christmas alone in a darkened room with an apple and a glass of water – but make sure you wipe that apple before eating it, and the water – surely not bottled?
Friday, 11 December 2009
So to all my faithful followers, all 12 of you (although since I seem to have inadvertently got myself on to the list and don't know how to get off it, it is really only 11), I wish a very, very happy Christmas, and a New Year full of hope for us all, and particularly the hope that we might get a new government that will put England back on the right path to contentment and prosperity.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Margaret Thatcher negotiated a rebate for us in 1984, to counteract smaller benefits in farming payments. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown agreed to abandon this rebate in stages, in return for a promise to review EU farming subsidies, but while we have kept our side of the bargain, the EU has signally failed to keep any of their promises to us.
We are ruled by people who have no idea about standing up for Britain's interests. As long as they keep their jobs, and can make vast amounts in lecture tours and directorships after they retire, the country can go hang.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
by Oliver Goldsmith
Ill fares the land, to hast’ning ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates and men decay;
Princes and lords may flourish or may fade;
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride,
When once destroy’d, can never be supplied.
A time there was, ere England’s griefs began,
When every rood of ground maintained its man;
For him light labour spread her wholesome store,
Just gave what life required, but gave no more:
His best companions, innocence and health,
And his best riches, ignorance of wealth.
But times are alter’d; trade’s unfeeling train
Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain;
Along the lawn, where scatter’d hamlets rose,
Unwieldy wealth and cumb’rous pomp repose:
And every want to luxury allied,
And every pang that folly pays to pride.
Those gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that ask’d but little room,
Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene,
Lived in each look, and brighten’d all the green;
These, far departing, seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
Monday, 7 December 2009
It is hard to describe this extraordinary museum, crammed with works of art of all kinds: hundreds of paintings, ingeniously displayed on pull-out hinged screens of Soane' own design, drawings, marble sculptures, bronzes, urns and sarcophagi, furniture, architectural models, something like 7,000 books, all set out apparently higgledy-piggledy in a series of rooms on several floors. Among the great treasures are the two series of pictures by William Hogarth, A Rake's Progress and An Election (the original paintings which Hogarth displayed in his studio to encourage the sale of sets of engravings), and three stunning Canalettos.
Nowadays they let you in even if it is raining, and admission is free. It is an unforgettable experience.
Friday, 4 December 2009
She was not the first person to instil in me my love of poetry and English literature – that was my father. But she certainly encouraged and nurtured it and presided over those all-important years of reading and learning by heart. Dear Miss Lloyd! She died only a few years ago, and I remember her with great affection. She was an inspiration.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
£760,000 for a "gender equal" cultural centre, which was never built.
£358,000 for a Marathon for a United Europe
£358,000 for a project to get children to draw pictures of each other "to develop active European citizenship"
£155,000 for a top Portuguese golf resort
£89,000 for a Spanish hotel chain
£72,000 to create a virtual version of the city of Malmo in the online fantasy world, Second Life. Only 40 people watched the opening of this.
and £6.3 million for a cultural scheme "to encourage people to think about European identities". This last included a donkey called Asino, who was trotted around Holland to be shown to primary school children. The donkey apparently wrote a blog, which included a description of him waking up under a tree to find other animals staring at him. It read: " I was embarrassed! Now I understand a little how people from different cultures may feel in the Netherlands".
And yes, that was £6.3 million.
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
The Royal Society, the oldest and greatest of our learned societies, was founded by Charles II in 1660, and the reigning monarch has always been its Patron ever since. To be elected a Fellow is a great honour, since the main criterion for election is "scientific excellence", though since 2000 there has been a category for Honorary Fellows, and previous Prime Ministers have also had the honour of election - recently Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher. It is currently based in Carlton House Terrace in London.
The Society awards medals, prizes and lectureships, it funds scientific research and publishes scientific books. It funds young scientists early in their careers and encourages foreign collaboration. It provides science policy advice to the Government and generally promotes public interest in and understanding of science.
To mark its 350th anniversary, the Royal Society has made available online some of its published papers. The site is called 'Trailblazing', and the current president of the Society, Lord Rees, says: "The scientific papers on Trailblazing represent a ceaseless quest by scientists over the centuries, many of them Fellows of the Royal Society, to test and build on our knowledge of humankind and the universe".
Monday, 30 November 2009
The total cost of Britain supporting Polish children is estimated at £24 million a year.
This is the result of regulations of the European Union, in the false belief that all member economies are at the same level, which they are clearly not. All these regulations do is to encourage people from poorer EU countries to go and work in richer ones.
Why are we handing our taxpayers' money to Poles who live in Poland?
Saturday, 28 November 2009
Here is a poem which perfectly evokes the season :
by John Betjeman
The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hooker’s Green.
The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
‘The church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.
Provincial public houses blaze
And Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.
And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.
And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad,
And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.
And is it true? And is it true?
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?
And is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,
No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single truth compare –
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
One reason is that we are living longer and that child mortality rates are at an all-time low, both Good Things. But the main reason is immigration. Every year hundreds of thousands of people arrive here to swell our numbers, both by their own presence and by the fact that the birth rate is much higher among first- and second-generation foreign mothers. All these people need houses, proper sanitation, education, health-care, jobs, pensions. The impact on our society and our culture cannot be denied, whether or not we are happy about the situation.
Can we sustain it? Roger Martin, the Chairman of the Optimum Population Trust does not think so. He says: "Britain's population increase is out of control and we are on course for a high-density, low-quality future where overcrowding and congestion are the norm and resource shortages, particularly of vital commodities like water and energy, are ever more pressing. Every addition to the population pushes this country further from sustainability and nearer to a position of extreme environmental precariousness. This is a future nobody wants".
We owe to it to our children and grandchildren to halt this frightening process, and we look to our politicians to do so. However, it is a fact that we can, and probably will, be forced by Europe to take MORE immigrants. Our own politicians, hampered by political correctness and lack of power, can do little. We have lost control of our borders and a bleak future awaits.
Sunday, 22 November 2009
The present production, which is by a small company called Tête-à-Tête, sticks faithfully to the original, not attempting to update it, rework it or send it up, and the result is an evening of unalloyed sunshine and pleasure, full of sparkling songs, happy and unihibited dancing, laughter and jokes. The young and talented cast all were clearly enjoying themselves, and the audience, many of whom, like us, were revisiting their youth, responded in kind. Truly a treat.
Saturday, 21 November 2009
"I had a horrible day with Colonel Pemberton at Pyrland Hall, near Taunton. He is a fiendish old imbecile with a grotesque white moustache. When I first saw him he was pirouetting on his toes in the road. He has an inordinate opinion of himself and his own judgement. He is absolutely convinced that Pyrland is the finest house in Somerset and he is doing the Trust a great service in bequeathing it. The truth is the property does not comprise land of outstanding natural beauty and is of insignificant size. Moreover the house, though large and basically eighteenth century, has been thoroughly Victorianised as to windows and rendering. .......... I was drawn into several acrimonious arguments with the old man, whom I cordially disliked, for he insisted on contradicting whatever I said. He gave me an exiguous lunch of bread and cheese, both hard as wood, a baked potato in its skin, dry as sawdust, and a watery apple pie with Bird's custard. Ugh! He expected me to return and waste the following day in discussion. But I had already made up my mind after the first half-hour of my visit. I could not have borne him or Pyrland an hour longer. Having hated me like poison, he was nevertheless furious when I left at 4."
Friday, 20 November 2009
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
Saturday, 14 November 2009
The Lord Mayor travels in the 252-year-old golden State Coach, and watches an RAF flypast before setting off. The parade begins at the Guildhall and includes stops at St. Paul's, where the Lord Mayor will receive a blessing, the Royal Courts of Justice, where he takes an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen, and Mansion House, his official residence. All sorts of events accompany the parade, which is three miles long. There are decorated floats, races, military bands, marching by, among others, the Honourable Artillery Company and The Royal Fusiliers, who have the privilege of marching through the City of London. The Great Twelve Livery Companies—the Mercers, Grocers, Drapers, Fishmongers, Goldsmiths, Merchant Taylors, Skinners, Haberdashers, Salters, Ironmongers, Vintners and Clothworkers—participate as of right; other Livery Companies participate by invitation, though the Lord Mayor's own company is always among these, as are representatives of the charities he supports. In fact there are 63 participating organisations - made up of 122 vehicles, 149 horses and 23 bands, and in the evening a magnificent firework display.
Thursday, 12 November 2009
No top to any steeple,
No company, no nobility,
This poem was written when London, in particular, was subject to the most terrible fogs, and November was the worst month for them. It is a little unfair on November these days, and here is photograph of what we expect and enjoy in November now.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Is there no end to it?!
Monday, 9 November 2009
The Ashmolean dates back to the early 17th century, to the enthusiasm of John Tradescant the Elder, who was Charles I’s Keeper of Gardens, Vines and Silkworms, a famous botanist and an avid collector of just about anything. His house, the Ark in Lambeth, full of his curiosities, was open to the public at sixpence a head, making it the world’s first public museum. Later his collection, by somewhat murky means, was inherited by Elias Ashmole, who eventually donated it to Oxford University. Over the years it has grown into the world’s greatest university museum of art and archaeology, and with its stunning redesign has truly entered the 21st century.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
by C. Day Lewis
What did we earthbound make of it?
Of vapour trails, a vertiginously high
Swarming of midges, at most a fiery angel
Hurled out of heaven, was all we could descry.
How could we know the agony and the pride
That scrawled those fading signatures up there,
And the cool expertise of those who died
Or lived through the delirium of the air?
Grounded on history now, we re-enact
Such lives, such deaths. Time, laughing out of court
The newspaper stories and the faked
Statistics, leaves us only to record
What was, what might have been: fighter and bomber,
The tilting sky, tense moves and counterings,
Those who outlived that legendary summer;
Those who went down, its sunlight on their wings.
And you, unborn then, what will you make of it -
That shadow-play of battles long ago?
Be sure of this: they pushed to the uttermost limit
Their luck, skill, nerve. And they were young like you.
Friday, 6 November 2009
It seems to me that this is an extension of the surveillance system, as well as another huge waste of money. We are already watched at every turn by an army of cameras and recording devices. Do we really want another layer imposed on us by Europe? What about personal privacy? And how legal would it be?
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
David Cameron has had to admit, quite rightly, that there is no point now in the Conservatives promising a referendum if he should become Prime Minister. This is a fait accompli, and there is little more we can do about it. We can either bow to this force majeure and watch the disappearance of a great nation, or we can do all we can to get out altogether, which will be so complicated that it would take years, even if we, as a nation, had the will to do it. The sad thing is that I think we do have the will, but no one ever asks us.
Monday, 2 November 2009
The summit's opening dinner cost almost £1 million, which works out at £23,000 per head. I think even Croesus would have found it difficult to spend that amount, but the EU appears to find it quite normal.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Saturday, 31 October 2009
“But ere your limbs are bent with age,
And ere your locks are grey,
The sport that you have loved so well
Shall long have passed away.
Too well I know, by wisdom taught,
The existence of my race
O’er all wide England’s green domain
Is bound up with the Chase.
Better in early youth and strength
The race for life to run,
Than poisoned like the noxious rat,
Or slain by felon gun.”
He goes on:
“For not upon these hills alone
The doom of sport shall fall;
O’er the broad face of England creeps
The shadow on the wall.
The woodlands where my race has bred
Unto the axe shall yield;
Hedgerow and copse shall cease to shade
The ever-widening field.
The manly sports of England
Shall vanish one by one
The manly blood of England
In weaker veins shall run
The furzy down, the moorland heath,
The steam plough shall invade;
Nor park nor manor shall escape –
Common, nor forest glade.
The sports of their forefathers
To baser tastes shall yield
The vices of the town displace
The pleasures of the field.
For swiftly o’er the level shore
The waves of progress ride;
The ancient landmarks one by one
Shall sink beneath the tide.
Time-honoured creeds and ancient faith,
The Altar and the Crown,
Lordship’s hereditary right,
Before that tide go down.
Base churls shall mock the mighty names
Writ on the roll of time;
Religion shall be held a jest
And loyalty a crime.
No word of prayer, no hymn of praise
Sound in the village school;
The people’s education
In England’s ancient pulpits
Lay orators shall preach
New creeds, and free religions
Self-made apostles teach.
Nor harvest feast nor Christmastide
Shall farm or manor hold;
Science alone can plenty give,
The only god is Gold.
The homes where love and peace should dwell
Fierce politics shall vex,
And unsexed woman strive to prove
Herself the coarser sex.
Mechanics in their workshops
Affairs of State decide;
Honour and truth – old-fashioned words –
The noisy mobs deride.
The statesmen that should rule the realm
Coarse demagogues displace;
The glory of a thousand years
Shall end in foul disgrace.
Trade shall be held the only good,
And gain the sole device;
The statesman’s maxim shall be peace,
And peace at any price.
Her army and her navy
Britain shall cast aside;
Soldiers and ships are costly things,
Defence an empty pride.
The footstep of the invader
Then England’s shore shall know,
While home-bred traitors give the hand
To England’s every foe.
Disarmed, before the foreigner
The knee shall humbly bend,
And yield the treasures that she lacked
The wisdom to defend.”
The fox does go on, however, to prophesy that this sorry state of affairs will not last:
“But not for aye – yet once again
When purged by fire and sword
The land her freedom shall regain
To manlier thoughts restored.
Taught wisdom by disaster,
England shall learn to know
That trade is not the only gain
Heaven gives to man below.
The greed for gold departed,
The golden calf cast down,
Old England’s sons again shall raise
The Altar and the Crown.
Again the smiling hedgerow
Shall field from field divide;
Again among the woodlands
The scarlet troop shall ride”.
I am not looking forward to the fire and sword, but it is reassuring to know that things will get better!
Friday, 30 October 2009
You can read the article on telegraph.co.uk/jeffrandall.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
The question is: can we honestly afford all this? We are the second biggest net contributor after Germany. While this money is pouring out of the country, we are in the depths of a recession, our economy is at rock-bottom, we owe more money as a nation than ever in our history, our soldiers are dying in Afghanistan for lack of proper equipment, we are all being asked to tighten our belts and advised by newspaper cookery pages on how to cook nettles - it can't go on!
More than 25% of voters in the European elections earlier this year voted for parties that want to take Britain out of the EU. Disaffection is felt throughout the country, and things are unlikely to get better. In fact they are likely to get much worse as the EU's grip tightens with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty.
Nobody can point to any benefit to this country from the EU - on the contrary, it is helping to ruin us.
Monday, 26 October 2009
Freedom of speech, freedom of choice and freedom of the Press
The Armed Forces
A strong and visible police force
The civilising effect of Christian values
Law and order
Private enterprise and personal responsibility
Marriage and family life
Discipline and sound teaching in schools (especially English history) and including the sine qua non of teaching English to foreign immigrants, whatever their home language
Good manners and thought for others
Respect for one’s elders
Tolerance of minorities
I do NOT believe in:
The European Union
The marginalisation and neglect of the rural population
High taxation and stealth taxes
Extremism of all kinds
Intolerance and banning things
The subjugation of women
The negation of our history and culture
The nanny state: being told what we can and can’t eat or how we should live
The Health & Safety Executive
Social workers removing children from their parents without really good cause
Inversion of blame – as when someone defending their life or property becomes a villain and the perpetrator goes free
Allowing such practices as forced marriages to continue in this country because we are too weak and appeasing to protect the innocent victims (see PC)
Teachers being sacked for disciplining unruly pupils
The compensation culture
Ridiculous sentences handed down by over-liberal judges
The police spending time and money on prosecuting clearly decent people
Surveillance of individuals and interference with private lives
CCTV and speed cameras
Excessive noise – especially very loud music played in cars with the windows open
Being called by my Christian name by people I have never met
Friday, 23 October 2009
The BNP has two members duly elected to the European Parliament (which is more than can be said for most of the people who now make our laws). Their following is largely made up of disaffected Labour voters, who do not believe that the Government has addressed their concerns, or ever will. For this Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and their governments are greatly to blame. Many of us agree with the concerns of these voters, though we would not go so far as to vote BNP. Our voices are simply not listened to.
As Voltaire said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Friday, 16 October 2009
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
The family was specifically excluded from the line of succession to the throne of England, Scotland or Ireland by the Act of Settlement in 1701, and since 1807 they have never tried to make a claim, and in fact discourage their supporters from doing so on their behalf.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Monday, 12 October 2009
Saturday, 10 October 2009
The north-west tower contains 13 bells hung for change ringing, while the south-west contains four, including Great Paul, at 16½ tons the largest bell in the British Isles, cast in 1881, and Great Tom (the hour bell). The bell is only rung on occasions of a death in the royal family, the Bishop of London, or London's mayor.
Although struck several times by bombs during World War II, St. Paul's survived, and indeed became a symbol of London's resistance to the Blitz, as shown in the iconic photograph of the famous dome rising above the smoke and flames of war.
Friday, 9 October 2009
Voices moving about in the quiet house:
Thud of feet and a muffled shutting of doors:
Everyone yawning. Only the clocks are alert.
Out in the night there’s autumn-smelling gloom
Crowded with whispering trees; across the park
A hollow cry of hounds like lonely bells:
And I know that the clouds are moving across the moon;
The low, red, rising moon. Now herons call
And wrangle by their pool; and hooting owls
Sail from the wood above pale stooks of oats.
Waiting for sleep, I drift from thoughts like these;
And where today was dream-like, build my dreams.
Music … there was a bright white room below,
And someone singing a song about a soldier,
One hour, two hours ago: and soon the song
Will be ‘last night’; but now the beauty swings
Across my brain, ghost of remembered chords
Which still can make such radiance in my dream
That I can watch the marching of my soldiers,
And count their faces; faces, sunlit faces.
Falling asleep …. the herons, and the hounds ….
September in the darkness; and the world
I’ve known, all fading past me into peace.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Thomas Cromwell 1485 - 1540 , by Hans Holbein the Younger
Monday, 5 October 2009
Saturday, 3 October 2009
Friday, 2 October 2009
Thursday, 1 October 2009
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Monday, 28 September 2009
Stowe: The Temple of Concord
Thursday, 24 September 2009
A fascinating new exhibition, Turner & the Masters, has just opened at Tate Britain. It seems that Turner, one of the greatest of English painters, was extremely competitive and liked to pit his skills against those of the great masters from whom he drew his inspiration. For the first time these directly competing paintings have been hung side by side, mainly in pairs. The result is enthralling. In most cases Turner comes out very well against the likes of Rembrandt, Titian, Canaletto, Veronese, Claude Lorrain and Poussin, though it has to be admitted that he does not match up on every occasion.
Many of the paintings have been lent for the first time for many years from great collections in Washington, Madrid or Japan, and as well as following the theme of the show, it is a great pleasure to see these wonderful pictures here in the Tate.
A Rising Gale by Van de Velde