Sunday, August 31, 2008

Quote of the Day... were putting your country first, would you put an untested small-town mayor a heartbeat from the presidency?
No, not an envious Democrat in the Barack Obama camp, but no less than David Frum, former speech writer to President George Dubya Bush, commenting on John McCain's surprise choice as running mate for the White House (from today's Sunday Times).

As the less-than-impressed Frum and other senior Republicans have pointed out, having an relative unknown as VP candidate rather undermines the Republican's own campaign slogan: ‘Country First’.

Few outside Alaska knew Sarah Palin before McCain unveiled her on Friday - including it seems Mr McCain himself!

McCain reportedly met the former beauty queen just once before choosing her as his candidate for Vice-President, in what is arguably the most important judgement call he has ever made.

Whether Sarah proves to be an inspired choice or a costly mistake will be a matter for the voters in November.

But, if 72-year-old McCain becomes President and dies in office, it would be Sarah Palin who would take over the most powerful office on earth and become Commander-in-Chief of US Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it would be Sarah's finger on the nuclear button.

Is that why they call America the land of opportunity...?

more later...if we're still here!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Senior Tory attacks our Olympic heroes...

While the rest of Britain celebrates our greatest Olympic medal haul for a century, a senior Tory in Boris Johnson's Mayoral team has launched a disgraceful attack on our athletes, claiming they have 'blood on their hands'.

Controversial Boris appointed the even bigger loose cannon Coleman to run London's fire and rescue service - despite being fully aware of his less than impressive record of gaffes.

Coleman hit the headlines earlier this year after claiming a massive £600-plus in one day for taxi fares - and racking up an expenses claim for taxi that was bigger than all the rest of the members of the Greater London Authority put together - including the Mayor.

Coleman's huge taxi-bill on the rates was despite being given a free pass on London Transport.

Cabbie Coleman, an openly gay Tory, also recently claimed that he has been passed over for high office within Tory ranks because of homophobia in the highest echelons of Cameron's Conservative Party.

He further shocked senior Tories by 'outing' former Tory Prime Minister, the late Sir Edward Heath who he accused of the rather unsavoury practice of 'cottaging'.

Coleman's latest outrageous comments stand in direct contrast to Boris Johnson's lavish praise for our Olympic heroes and is further evidence of the internal squabbling and outright chaos since Boris became Mayor of London.

Let's not forget Boris's helpful assertion - in writing - a couple of weeks ago that it was 'piffle' to talk about Britain being a 'broken society' - as David Cameron does at every opportunity.

Boris has of course had a chaotic start in his first 100 days as Mayor of London, losing a string of his high-profile appointments in controversy.

Still, at least the chaos under ex-Bullingdon-club member B-J, serves as a warning as what to expect if ex-Bullington-club member D-C ever got the keys to Downing Street.

But the more pressing question is can Boris afford to sack another gaffe-prone member of his inner cabinet...?

Watch this space...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Baby's body dumped with the waste...

Peterborough police have this afternoon appealed to a mother to come forward after a baby's body was discovered at the waste recycling centre on Fengate.

What a tragic end to such a short life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Peterborough coach in fatal crash...

The driver of the coach involved in today's fatal coach crash in Staffordshire is from Peterborough.

It was taking 71 fruit and veg pickers from Lutton Farm, Oundle for a day out to Alton Towers Leisure Park in Staffordshire. Police have confirmed that a Polish man was killed in the crash and three others are believed to be critically injured.

Boris's 'right hand' quits...

Boris Johnson has already lost two of the deputies he appointed in a hail of publicity after becoming Mayor of London in May - and today the man appointed as his right hand at City Hall just last month has resigned.

According to the London Mayor's website, Tim Parker was appointed from July 7th for a four-year term but he has barely lasted four weeks working with Boris.

Boris says he's not going to risk another appointment as First Deputy.

So now, as well as being Mayor, Boris intends Chairing the Metropolitan Police Authority, Transport for London and the new London Waste Authority.

On top of that he recently delegated his planning powers as Mayor, but then flip-flopped and took them back.

Chaos or what?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Olympian Julie does us proud...

Deepings Olympic athlete Julie Hollman says her Beijing heptathlon may be her last.

While 31-year-old Julie may not have been in the medals over the weekend, she can be justly proud of her achievement in competing on the Olympic stage, despite injuries which hampered her training.

What a fantastic athlete.

Her Dad John was sadly unable to be with Julie in Beijing after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. But the TV coverage of Julie's progress through the seven events on Saturday and Sunday was excellent and the commentators spoke very highly of the Deepings lass.

Well done Julie.

The Ugley women of Oz and Herts...

This rather bizarre story about ugly women running on the wires today makes me pleased I don't live in Mount Isa...

It reminds me of a tale I first heard in the early 1970s from my old friend, the late John Knight, who was Chief Sub-Editor on the Welwyn and Hatfield Times.

He had me in fits of laughter when he told about a story run in the Times about the Women's Institute in the village of Ugley near Bishops Stortford, who had grown so tired of the obvious jokes that they changed their name from Ugley Women's Institute to the Women's Institute of Ugley...

But now the Ugley Vicar disputes the authenticity of the tale.

So who do you believe...?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Will you still be up tonight for our Julie in Beijing...?

In the early hours of Friday morning British time, Deepings Olympic athlete Julie Hollman will be on the starting blocks at Beijing .

At 2.08am British time (9.08am in Beijing), Julie will line up for the second heat of the 100 metres hurdles, the first of the seven heptathlon events which take place over Friday and Saturday.

Less than 90 minutes later, Julie will be for the high jump, followed by the shot putt at noon British time, 7pm in Beijing.

She is due to complete day one of the event with the 200 metres heat at 2.36 Friday afternoon - 9.36pm Beijing time. Then on Saturday, she is scheduled to take part in the long jump, javelin and 800 metres events.

You can all Julie's start times at the official Beijing site which will carry a running total of the scores. There's also further background info at the
IAAF site.

I've already printed off all Julie's start times, together with her personal best performances in each discipline and those of the althletes she is competing against.

So get the telly warmed up and get cheering...

Go Julie, Go.

Another star year for 'A' levels...

Just seen a senior teacher from our local school beaming from ear-to-ear after seeing this year's "A" level results.

I've not seen the official results yet, but it looks to me like The Deepings Comprehensive has done the business yet again.

More later, but meantime, congratulations to all the students and staff led by Head Teacher Chris Beckett.

And don't believe a word of the poppycock from the ejits who claim that year-on-year improvements in results are because the exams have become easier.

The simple reason results are consistently getting better is that standards of teaching have improved vastly since I went to school. Education today is much more focussed on individual needs - and resources have been increased out of all recognition to even a couple of decades ago.

As a result, I believe children work far harder than in my day and have much better chances of being pushed to achieve their potential.

That has to be worth celebrating, doesn't it?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Deeping Athlete's leap into the Olympics...

Best of British to Julie Hollman from Deeping St James who has made it to the Beijing Olympics.

Julie's mum Carole and her sister Anne will be in Beijing to support her in the heptathlon event which is due to start next Friday.

Sadly, Julie's dad John has been diagnosed with lung cancer and is too ill to travel to China. He will be following events on the telly from the family home here on Church Street, DSJ.

Fantastic achievement to be representing your country at the Olympics. I'm sure we'll all be cheering Julie on to a personal best performance.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Local crime down by almost a quarter...

Contrary to the scaremongering headlines that would have you believe you'll be mugged every time you step out of your front door, the chances of becoming a victim of crime are actually falling year on year...

I almost missed this headline from the Stamford Mercury last month which highlights a massive 23.8 per cent drop in one year in local crime figures for the Deepings, Stamford and Bourne.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Having fun in Edinburgh...

Up in Edinburgh for a few days for the Festival, or rather the Fringe to be more accurate. Saw Tim Vine last night, in his very funny 'Pun-Slinger' one-man show. Tim, brother of Newsnight presenter Jeremy, holds the world record for delivering most gags in an hour - 499 apparently!

He more than lived up to expectations. Much more than a laugh a minute.

This afternoon, I'm hoping to see my old mucker Matt Forde in his off-the-wall comedy panel show 'On Heat'.

Get up here. Fantastic atmosphere.

Millions collected by Lincs speed cameras...

Lincolnshire's speed cameras have raised more than £7 million since 2003, according to statistics published by the Lincolnshire Echo thanks to the Freedom of Information Act.

Entrapment by a cash-cow or sensible measures which cut death on our roads...?

Cost of cutting bill for policing...

The cost of sending out new bills after the Government stopped Lincolnshire Police Authority imposing a record 78.9% increase is back in the local news...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ay Up Mi-duck, who's afraid of being a Yellow-Belly...?

Don't care what others say mi-duck, I'm proud to be a Lincolnshire Yellow Belly (albeit an adopted one).

I was born a Steelback (in Kettering, Northants), but grew up in Lincolnshire after the RAF posted my father here in 1958.

Apart from a five year break in the 1970s working in Bermuda, I've chosen to live in Lincolnshire ever since.

I don't think I speak with a particular Lincolnshire accent, but I have to confess that I usually give away my roots by addressing strangers with a friendly 'Mi-Duck'.

And I'm not changing now.

Not for Nowt Mi-Duck.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dead men can't walk free...

The clearing of Barry George of the murder of Gill Dando demonstrates clearly why the death penalty should not be re-introduced.

I trust those who wanting to bring back hanging will reflect on today's verdict which sees Barry George walk free an innocent man after spending eight years in jail.

Maverick Mark quits council...

Just heard that Mark Horn has resigned from with immediate effect as county councillor for Bourne.

Maverick Mark was elected as a Conservative but went Independent last month after a series of fall-outs with the controlling group - and Council Leader Martin Hill in particular.

Notably, he was the only Tory councillor to have the balls to oppose the 78.9 per cent increase in council tax for policing which was pushed through by the Conservative county councillors on the police authority and later capped by Government.

He claimed that the record increase demonstrated arrogance and was totally unjustified - and no doubt incensed Martin Hill when he was the only Tory in the chamber who refused to back moves to prevent the county council debating why the Conservative members of the Authority had supported the eye-watering increase.

Mark had even publicly called for capping - which of course added to internal Conservative party problems and pressure within the controlling group.

Last year, Mark strongly criticised Grantham and Stamford Conservatives choice of candidate at the next general election, describing all those shortlisted as:

wealthy, metropolitan, priviliged, bright young things...totally out of touch with ordinary folk...None of these ‘A-listers’ have any local connections. They are simply careerists looking for a safe seat.
He also stood up strongly for gypsy and traveller rights - and refused to take a populist stance over.

A couple of months ago he accused the Conservatives of losing control of the budget on care homes for elderly people.

I understand that he was recently referred to the Standards Board by Cllr Hill over an exchange of emails with my colleague on the Labour group Chris Burke.

I've 'locked horns' with Mark on numerous occasions in the council chamber - but I respected his outspoken views (most of the time!!) despite them usually being very different to my own. On occasion I've enjoyed a quiet beer or two with Mark when between us we put the world to rights...

Born in South Africa, Mark is a trained London barrister who was clearly too radical and too much of a handful for Lincolnshire Tories who never quite knew how to handle him.

Every time he stood up in a Council debate, it was always entertaining watching the faces of the all-Tory Executive who never knew what was coming next. They tried - but clearly failed - to contain him.

But Mark is also a real character who brought much-needed colour to council debates.

He stood up for what he believed to be right, refused to be 'whipped' by his own political group, and he will be missed by all sides.

I wish him well for the future.

(more later...)