Thursday 1st March 2012
Some years ago while renovating an old property we bought in Hampshire, I came across some unusual objects. The property itself consisted of a cottage, dating from 17th century, and a large towering Victorian building attached alongside it, creating one residence. The cottage had been made decent in 19th century, the old ships’ timbers in the ceiling, as also some nogged walls having been covered in lathes and plastered over. We took all these down and brought the old part of the property back to its original state. The house had precisely 12 fireplaces, only two of which were used more or less regularly. One4 of those not envisaged to be used was in a downstairs room of the old cottage (see photo). It was not attractive nor in keeping with the rest of the building. So I took it out. Behind was a simple hearth, of no great merit. This had been in-filled with rubble and it was among this that I found three phials (see image) These were witch phials, rather than bottles. One still had a cork in it, the one in the centre. This had almost certainly been filled with urine, there being dried yellow residues in the insides of the bottle. I have never cleaned them. This was done to ward off evil spirits.
I also found part of a Times newspaper dating from 1851, so presumably this was the date, or near enough the date, when the old fireplace was replaced. It was also most likely the date when the Victorian ‘’extension’ had been built. It is fascinating to conjecture that we can now with DNA analysis confirm who the owner at that time was. I say confirm, because I did some research and discovered the property belonged to members of the Harding family. There are still a good many Hardings around, so perhaps they might like to see whether they are descended from the Hardings of Lindford.
You may like to follow this link to an article by Brian Hoggard ‘The Archaelogy of Counter Witchcraft and Popular Magic’ : Beyond the Witch Trial: Witchcraft and Magic in Enlightenment Europe by Owen Davies and William de Blecourt, Manchester University Press, 2004.
The house was fascinating in other respects. On an upstairs room of the cottage a design had been stencilled onto a wall, rather than using, presumably because it was more expensive, wallpaper. Whilst I took the plaster off, i RETAINED SOME SAMPLES OF THIS WORK.
Beyond the Witch Trials:
I have followed this woman’s career with interest. She and my son used briefly to be an item, but then she was elected Tory MP for Bristol North West. She was tripped to be a young MP who was going places, indeed she was described as one of Cameron’s Cuties; whoever sought of that sound byte should be shot. Notwithstanding that I tipped her to become a junior something or other when we have the first serious Tory reshuffle. Her favourite area is education. Hmmm…. a little sullied that right now, I suggest, but who knows. I wish her well.
A friend of Charlotte’s is Nick Boles, my MP, one of Cameron’s inner circle. He is described as being of the Chipping Norton set. Where the hell is Chipping Norton? Is it up North? North of the Watford Gap? He is a founder member of the Tory think Tank ‘Policy Exchange’. However, Tories and thinking is an oxymoron. Nevertheless, he is undoubtedly a bright fellow, but his adherence to Cameron will not stand him in good stead. He can always change horses of course. I wonder if, being gay, he rides bare-back?
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CAMBRIDGESHIRE CONSTABLUARY?
What is wrong with them, I ask. I went to Peterborough police station to report a serious crime. An appointment was made for me with two police officers two days forward. On the day I was to see them I received a phone call telling me they could not see me. The reasons given were flimsy in the extreme. I reported them immediately to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and the crime has been reported elsewhere.
I have referred to David Cameron as a petulant schoolboy for some 7 years or thereabouts. I see the Tories now wish to tag Nick Clegg with that sobriquet. It won’t wash chaps, it just won’t wash. I do thank you for reading this blog, as I know some of the Tory party do..
I see that the French Government has decreed in their wisdom that the term Mademoiselle is no longer to be used. All French women are to be referred to as Madames. But were French women not always madams?
Wednesday 22nd February 2012
WHAT A MESS – THE PRESS
What a mess the press are in. How often have I made that comment. The Daily Mail in particular is losing touch with reality. They now claim credit for ‘exposing’ the scandal at the UK Border Agency. They of course did no such thing. It shows a certain desperation on their part wanting to claim credit for this, as also for much else. In fact they now have a column or two trying to tell us what they were the first to discover, expose, investigate etc. A desperate measure that no doubt reflects falling sales of the paper. Their statement in respect of the UKBA is arrant nonsense.
You first read an account of what is now printed by the Mail here, an account given by a whistleblower on this blog on 31st May last year. Yet the Mail will try and tell you they first wrote about this matter on Guy Fawkes Day 5th November 2011. It’s quite pathetic. Furthermore, I have criticized them before on more than one occasion.
I have seen the UKBA in action, over the years, something Daily Mail journalists should try and do sometime. I have on a number of occasions travelled using Eurostar only to find no checks being made in Brussels. I have seen the UKBA in action on the streets of London, where they have failed miserably to carry out their duties. They are indeed, as I have remarked here on more than one occasion, not fit for purpose.
I repost part of the evidence given on 31st May 2011:
The UK BORDER AGENCY – an utter disaster area
Much has been said about the UK Border Agency (UKBA), largely by Government spokesmen, who are trying to justify its existence in its present form and with its present management. It is not justifiable. Damien Green tells us it is intelligence led. Quite simply it is not. He boasts of the 1400 arrests that have been made over the past few months. That is but a drop in the ocean. He says it is not easy to trace the backlog. It is, if one has a mind to do so. He states that technology is being used to improve matters. Technology is not the answer. It is a matter of going into the field to find illegals. All one need do it go for a walk through Tower Hamlets, Hackney, walk down Green Lanes etc etc and one meets illegals on every corner. I do, why can’t they.
But it is the poor management of the UKBA and the lack of resources given to them that make them utterly useless, and that at a time when they are needed more than ever.
What follows gives but a little insight into the malaise affecting the UKBA. There is more to follow in due course. We have heard not only lies from Labour, which is to be expected, but also from this coalition government. Here are some facts in the words of a member of the UKBA staff:
Emails regularly sent to staff at Heathrow and other ports of entry instruct UKBA staff not actively to identify any passenger with internal concealments, ie drugs; this is because of staff shortages and funds to pay for overtime.
UKBA staff are paid on an annual hour basis. They are contracted to do so many hours a year. They don’t get paid overtime, any worked is taken off the total work hours allocation for the year. So, when it gets close to the end of the year and they have worked all their annual hours, they simply don’t turn up for work. Because there is no overtime being paid, there are no staff on duty (KJ: I personally have witnessed that on a number of occasions).
When a suspect illegal immigrant is apprehended they are processed and then have to be imprisoned pending their transfer to a detention centre. As UKBA do not have any holding cells they are placed into police cells; the Police Authority then bill UKBA for the night’s stay. The cost for this is anything from £120 to £1200 per night.
Should a suspect need to be moved from a cell to a holding or internment facility, UKBA does not have any security vehicles or staff to do this, they use OCS UK to do this. However, they in turn sometimes do not have vehicles and personnel in the right place to move the suspects, so they postpone the transportation. They are fined £75.00 for this delay. But since they have a contract for all UKBA security work, they don’t care. The fine is cheaper than moving vehicles and staff into position.. This means the suspect is not processed, the work piles up and the UKBA is wasting time which has to be made up later, all adding to the overall cost.
Over the past 3 years as people have left the UKBA, positions are not being filled. This has amounted to an average loss of the work force of 48%, yet the number of immigrant cases to be dealt with has not gone down. More work for less staff who are limited on the hours they can work per year. There is no overtime bonus.
A UKBA worker, who travels some distance to work, say a 60 mile round trip in his own car, only to find on arrival that there is no work for him to do, may well be sent home. He will receive just one hour’s work for this. This payment will not cover his time and petrol costs. This could happen seven days in succession and he would earn but one day’s pay, but incur a week’s travel expense! This happens frequently.
If the UKBA has an arrest to make, they usually go out with six officers. These outings, in the case of a suspected illegal restaurant worker, do not happen during office hours, but at night, when the restaurant is open. Now – should they find several suspects without paperwork, they then have the choice to arrest just the one they were after, or all the suspected illegal workers. This means that the team will spend many hours processing them, taking statements, gathering information etc. Do they get overtime for this? They do not. It actually comes off their annual working hours allowance. A crazy situation!
The staff at the UKBA has been consistently left holding the baby, sop to speak, their numbers have fallen, their funding curtailed and their workload has not been reduced at all. In fact, it has increased, more work with less staff, no reduction in workload, a two year pay freeze and most of all, a total demolition of staff moral. A recent internal poll of UKBA staff put job satisfaction at 3% and UKBA ability to handle the increased work at just 2%!
The recent news that children should not be kept in internment centres seems somewhat puzzling. Are these centres concentration camps? Are these mud huts or mosquito infested swamps? They certainly are not. Children who accompanied their parents should certainly be with them in the centres whilst their parent’s asylum cases are being reviewed. Each centre has a gym and a computer centre, and much else. Each detainee is given a cell phone on entry. There is a doctor there from 9am to 6pm. They can just walk into the surgery and be seen. I wish I could do that with my doctor. A nurse is on call 24 hours a day. They are fed and looked after, albeit it confined premises.
During the televised political debates Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg stated that 80% of immigrants to this country are from the EU and only 20% from without it, and they would be subject to any controls the Conservative may wish to install should they win the election. The actual figure for non-EU immigration is 60% of the total, a sizeable figure and complete misquote by Clegg.
There are cases of illegal’s being held for a year or more because UKBA cannot ascertain the nationality of the individual concerned and obviously the person will not assist the UKBA. They often have no identification or papers on them. There is no knowledge on which port of entry was used. The amount of time and money spent to find this out is paid by the tax payer (KJ: Staff are lacking expertise; it would be quite easy to ascertain an illegal’s nationality with the minimum of fuss)
One illegal claiming asylum said he was a taxi driver from Zimbabwe and was fleeing because of persecution. Yet he could not give the name of the road leading to Harare Airport. He couldn’t give the name of the road to the parliament. He was in fact an economic migrant from South Africa.
Other means to trick immigration include claiming that they are gay, especially from countries like Iran or Iraq where homosexuality is an imprisonable offence. One suspect who had a Polish partner was found to have had two wives and several children. It was then claimed he was bisexual. He was however not deported because the judge ruled that the case’s information was now in the public domain and authorities in Iran would find this out and he would be arrested if returned even though it was all a lie. Not bad eh?
Often Eastern European women marry Pakistani men for money so that they can enter the UK. One UK consulate in a Chinese region had to close its offices. It had 130,000 applications for visas for the UK. Queues stretched around the block.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The government does not know how to solve the problem and will not allocate the funds to do so and certainly does not want the full extent of the mess to be made known to the public. ‘We’re all in it together’… only most of us don’t know what we are in!
KJ: There is a lot more that will be posted on this matter.
Saturday 18th February 2012
CALL THE MIDWIFE
What a charming series, yesterday’s episode being the last. No doubt we shall have another produced for later in the year. I rarely watch television, but caught this some 3 episodes ago. I can understand why this has caught the public’s fancy. In part I believe it is due to the fact that we are an ageing population, and the over… what shall we say….50s view earlier decades with a degree of sentimentality. It is also they who statistically view more terrestrial television. We view the 1950s as an innocent period, far divorced from the harshness of today’s times. As for chummy, played by Miranda Hart, she is for me the most unlikely star of the series.
This current drang for retrovision is reflected elsewhere. I watched part of Upstairs Downstairs while I was at it, but found I could not relate to it. The original series were wonderful, something fresh and new in their day. Downton Abbey cannot really be accused of having copied Upstairs Downstairs, but the new series of the latter is certainly trying to cash in on the success of the former. It didn’t work for me.
CAMERON’S BAD JUDGEMENT
How many times has Cameron’s political judgement been called into question. Yet once again it is being done so. His appointment of Emma Harrison was a mistake, if media reports are to be believed. The man is incredibly naive and quite simply unfit to govern this country.
I saw images of the tack this woman’s company will be selling for the Queen’s jubilee. Are people really going to buy this junk? I fear so. It must surely be an embarrassment for the Queen.
GADDAFI IS DEAD, LONG LIVE GADDAFI
This along the lines of the King is dead, long live the King. I fear that Libya runs the risk of having another Gaddafi, or a number of little Gaddafis, succeed the old. Power corrupts, and now that the former rebels hold power, they are in part going down the same road as the man they overthrew. That has always been the case in the region. I see little real change taking place in Egypt, or even Tunisia. But should we expect that? I don’t think so. I have said it before, but to expect Western style democracy take root in the Middle East is quite fanciful. The same can be said for Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor should we get on our high horse here about our style of democracy. There are many more similarities between our’s and their’s than any here would care to admit.
Another suitable candidate for my Rogues’ Gallery is a corporate one, Barker Storey Matthews, the estate agent. In 2003 they carried out a valuation of land in the town centre of Bourne, Lincolnshire. They had been instructed by South Kesteven District Council, the council from hell. SKDC had been intent on forcing through a town centre development, for which they would have had to acquire a great many properties, and which needless to say (they heard it from me first) came to nothing. Over ten years were wasted in trying to achieve an impossible goal, a white elephant for the leader of the council Mrs L Neal. Indeed, this council has spent some £50 million of rate payers’ money in acquiring properties to develop, something they should never have been allowed to do. They are not property developers, as is well demonstrated by their abject failure in this venture. To get back to BSM, I was reminded of the valuation they had carried out when I met their Mr Richard Jones. Their 2003 valuation valued all properties very low, apart from the masonic hall. That was valued way above its intrinsic value, indeed it was sold last year to SKDC at £375k, which is quite astonishing for a non descript small, unattractive brick building, with little land adjoining. This has enabled the Bourne masons to buy another building on the edger of the town which will be much more suitable for meetings. I have no axe to grind with the masons, but this transaction has a rather bad smell about it in my opinion, indeed, an opinion shared by many.
BOXING IN A BAD LIGHT
The outrageous behaviour of Chizora and Haye should not go unpunished. For this to have happened in Germany makes it twice as bad. I hope both are banned from boxing for a period. Fining them has little meaning or impact.