Can you fly the flag correctly?


As an old Scout it’s immediately obvious to me that this Union Jack is being flown upside down. I find it annoying. But does it really matter or is just because I’ve become a boring old fart?

I can’t imagine Americans doing this and not just because it’s more obvious with their flag. It’s our national symbol. It ought to be treated with respect. But most people couldn’t tell you which way up is right.

Does it matter to you?

Oh, and the correct way is with the thick white lines on top on the hoist (the side of the flag nearest the pole).

Ebola and the Queen

This week we have heard of the astonishing bonuses paid to certain bankers. But my thoughts have about a group of people who do astonishing things without any prospect of significant reward.

Here is what I wrote to the Queen about them:

Queen Elizabeth II
Buckingham Palace                                            4th January 2015

Your Majesty,

I write to ask if you have considered instituting an award for services to humanity. You will be aware of the strenuous efforts to contain the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. A large number of people have volunteered to go there to treat those infected and as far as I know receive no extra money or other benefits for doing so.

The same is true of local health workers. I saw one woman on TV who collects and buries the bodies of Ebola victims in Sierra Leone. She earns £7 a day which I suspect is not much even there. She has to work in full protective clothing because the bodies are highly infectious, which must be very unpleasant in a hot country, and the slightest mistake could cost her her own life. Her neighbours avoid her because they are afraid of catching the virus.

Such people display a special kind of courage. It is not the adrenalin fuelled bravery of the soldier in battle. They face something they cannot see, hear, taste, touch or smell but which is as dangerous as a bullet. And they do it day after day, some of them for months.

I suggest a new award as none of the honours you currently bestow are appropriate. For example Knighthoods are awarded for “services to banking” or “services to politics”. From my position in society this means making yourself stinking rich at ordinary peoples expense or furthering your own political career. The people I am suggesting should be honoured have no possibility of fame or fortune arising from their selfless work.

Your Majesty is in a unique position to institute an award that is international and free from any political interference because you are head of the Commonwealth. Two of the countries affected by Ebola are in the Commonwealth. However I suggest that the award should be available to anyone of any nationality who puts themselves at risk for the common good without personal gain.

The Ebola emergency is not the only instance of this kind of public service. Dr. Abbas Khan could have stayed safely at home with his family in Streatham and earnt good money as an orthopaedic surgeon for the NHS. Instead he went Allepo in Syria to treat the victims of the war there. A very risky thing to do. He was arrested, tortured and died in captivity. We cannot help him now but an award acknowledging his efforts to help others might offer some comfort to his family.

I ask you to give this suggestion serious consideration.

Here is the reply I received:


Queen's reply

Well I beg your pardon Ma’am but I think you have missed the point. I wrote to you because I think this is best not in the hands of politicians. Right now the only thing that the Right Honourable Philip Hammond MP Secretary of state for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has on his mind is how to get the Conservatives re-elected.

Dr. Abbas Khan has been dead for over a year so the politicians have had several chances to honour him. Why haven’t they done it? More to the point why didn’t they do more to get him home when he was arrested?

The whole point is to honour those who are not noticed by politicians because they do things for the good of humanity rather than for personal wealth, power or prestige. They are therefore not the sort of people that politicians wish to be associated with.

Which leaves me with a dilemma. Do I drop the whole ideal? Think of someone else who could institute such an award? Or start a petition on to ask the Queen to think again?

Your suggestions are welcome.

£45,000 a year for having sex.

Family of 12 moved into new specially built seven bedroom home in Keynsham

By The Bristol Post  |  Posted: January 11, 2015

The Smiths

Read more:

This family are believed to be getting about £45,000 a year in benefits. Neither of the parents work. The council has joined two flats together to provide them with a seven bedroom home at a suggested cost of £150,000.

The average wage is about £25,000 p.a. Surely it is wrong for someone to receive more in benefits than they can be expected to earn? I thought that there was a cap on the maximum you could receive in benefits now. Is that not the case?

The welfare state was meant to be  safety net for people who suffered misfortune. But if you can get £45,000 a year just by having lots of children isn’t that abusing it?

There is also the question of climate change and the worlds limited resources. The best way to reduce your CO2 emissions is don’t have children.

Now I’m not suggesting we should stop people having children. It’s a free country after all. But wouldn’t it make sense to only pay benefits for the first two children? If you choose to have more, they’re your kids so you provide for them.

Health Police

SAM_0434The NHS may be in “crisis” but the Health Police aren’t affected. I saw this in the grounds of Southmead Hospital. Smoking is undoubtedly bad for you and I’m really glad to have given up. But it was a real struggle. I can’t help but sympathise with people who find themselves in hospital and have to stop immediately.

The sight of patients in hospital gowns standing outside the hospital with their drips is bad enough. But making them walk several hundred yards offsite in the middle of winter just to have a fag? Even smokers deserve some compassion doctor.

Truth is the first casualty……………

of the election. Yes, I know someone more famous said it was the first casualty of war but I’m writing about the campaign that started yesterday.

The Tories have produced a 60 page document proving that Labour have £20 billion of unfunded spending plans. Labour emphatically deny it. Will you read 60 pages before deciding who to vote for? Would you understand it if you did?

Most people have little faith in politicians. Do you blame them? How can you tell who’s telling you the truth? Adverts have to be legal, decent, honest and truthful don’t they? Well, there is an exception. Adverts to influence the outcome of an election are excluded from the code. Now I wonder who made that rule?

Did you know that there is nothing you can do to make an MP tell the truth? I’ve been active in the campaign to save Filton Airfield. Jack Lopresti, the local MP, insists it had to close because it wasn’t profitable. We obtained copies of the audited accounts submitted to Companies house by the company that ran it.

These clearly show a profit. Even in the last year of operation, when it had been run into the ground, it still made £1.6m. I would have thought that audited accounts were factual documents. But Jack Lopresti still insists it wasn’t profitable. He says “I understand Filton Airfield made profit in it’s final operating year because BAE were charging full market rates to Airbus to use the airfield”.

What other rates could it have charged? I wrote to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and asked if she could make him confirm the facts. The answer is no. It is not even illegal for an MP to lie to the House of Commons.

Does this matter? Well I think it does. I shall vote for Stephen Williams in May because as a member of the LibDems I’ve got to know him. He’s a thoroughly decent, honest, hard working MP. And I dread to think what the last four and a half years would have been like without fifty seven LibDem MPs holding the Tories back.

But what about the average voter? How do you make up your mind?

It’s time we had a way of making public figures tell us the truth. I’m not suggesting a charter for nit-picking pedants. Just that when they get something factual wrong they are obliged to correct it. I can’t see how we can have a real democracy without it.

What does “Green” mean?

Looking through the list of projects that have received funding as part of Bristol’s 2015 Green Capital events I can’t see many that are “green”.
I mean £37,500 to Treesong Bristol 2015 “To create music from fruit falling from a tree – will be set up as a public display and a series of performances”.

Or £50,000 to the People’s republic of Stokes Croft to “Install shipping containers at the Bearpit roundabout in Bristol and encourage local artists to debate green issues through art form and growing produce on the site”.

I admit I’m not an “arty” type – science has always been my passion so perhaps I’m missing something? But to me being green means protecting our planet. Reducing the poisons we pour into the air, water and soil. Preserving the habitat of plants, trees, animals, birds and and fish and thereby our habitat too. Above all it means cutting greenhouse gases so we don’t cook the planet.

I just can’t see how these projects do this. Even the worthwhile ones don’t look green. For example £41,200 to Playing out CIC for “Scaling up the work of playing out across the city to all neighbourhoods”.

Encouraging children to get outside and play is a really good ideal. Indeed if we want to win the 2026 world cup we need to get every primary age schoolboy kicking a ball around after school. But what’s green about it?

Stephen Williams did a really good job getting this money for Bristol but I think the “watermelons” have hijacked it. They’re going to make Bristol a laughing stock. Charlotte Leslie has already said “Bristol Green capital is a load of Green smoke”

Bristol West is supposed to have more Ph.Ds living in it than any other constituency. We ought to be able to make a real difference. We won’t.