Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Adelaide's lament

Strauss rolling the wrists. See: he can do it!

Well, there are some small hours of the morning last weekend that I'd quite like back if that's OK. From the moment I heard that Steve Harmison had decided that Freddie was a bit under-employed as captain, number six and strike bowler and thought he'd let him audition as wicket keeper as well I had a presentiment that things would not go entirely to plan. The scale of the humiliation was something of a surprise admittedly, but cricket seems recently to have by-passed subtelty in favour of ramming the point home. Last summer, for example, Sri Lanka were skittled cheaply and were set 400 odd to avoid the follow on. Result? They ended on 550-9 at close over three days.

Equally, Australia did not so much beat England as pulverise them. The question is where England go from here. The next Test, in Adelaide, starts in the early hours of Friday night on a pitch that is traditionally brown, slow and low. Martin Crowe, the former Kiwi batsman, used to say that only three things in life were certain: death, taxes and a hundred at the Adelaide Oval. In this light, England have made noises to suggest that they will play both spinners, presumably instead of James Anderson who looked as toothless as he always has since Graeme Smith tucked into him in 2003. If I were in charge, I'd have picked Jamie Dalrymple, batted him at 6 and played him instead of Giles. He's only over the way in Perth, so there's still time. Last tour it was in Adelaide that Harmison broke Giles's hand in the nets. I'm obviously not advocating such behaviour this time, but...

If England are to have any chance of winning they need two things: to win the toss and bat first, and for Steve Harmison to look like a bowler rather than an embarassment. Michael Vaughan managed to bat first in every match in 2005 save the first, which we lost. Flintoff's loss of the toss in Brisbane may not have been the critical factor last week, but there is no doubt that it played its part. England only win in Australia when a fast bowler excels (cf Snow, Tyson, Dilley and Larwood). If Harmison can't re-tune his engine we might as well hand the urn over now.

There are, however, four reasons to be cheerful:

1. Aging Aussies. There was a revealing photo taken in the Aussie dressing room in the aftermath of victory. All the Australian team except Hussey and Stuart Clark were sitting holding ice-packs to various parts of their anatomies (I'm not going to say where Warnie was holding his). This is a veteran team, whose two principal bowlers are aged over 75 between them. Glenn McGrath has been unable to bowl thanks to a bruised heel, Shane looked tired and frustrated at Brisbane, his victims largely dismissing themselves. There is a chance that 'Dad's Army' might be fragile. But then, of course that's what the Aussies said in the Rugby World Cup.

2. Batting Quality. You don't become a bad player overnight. The two players considered most vulnerable in the England line-up, Collingwood and Bell, both contributed the highest scores in the England innings, Collingwood in the second and Bell in the first. Strauss's dismissals, although careless, were the product of a specific technical error that he is too smart a cricketer not to correct. Cook looked solid in the second innings, and even Jones looked like a batsman. There is no reason they should capitulate again as they did in the first dig.

3. World Class. England have two world class cricketers in Flintoff and Pieterson. Both of them are capable of turning a game on its head in a session. Flintoff bowled well, for long spells, without a recurrence of his injury. Pieterson batted both sensibly and aggressively for 92 in the second innings. If these two fire, England are in with a shout.

4. Next Time? Even if England prove unable to draw or win the series, it's worth reflecting that the next time Australia come over here in 2009, they'll almost certainly be without McGrath (38), Warne (39), Hayden (37), Langer (38), Martyn (37) and Gilchrist (37), with an option on Lee (34) and even Ponting (35). So, 7 out of 11 of their starting line up would be over 35 if they toured again, while even Lee and Stuart Clark would be a long way the wrong side of 30. In contrast, barring injuries and unforeseeables, the only England player likely to be over the hill by the time the Aussies land at Heathrow would be Ashley Giles, who despite his nickname of 'Grandad' would be the third youngest player in the Australian side.

So, chins up eh? And Straussy? In Australia you either hook downwards, or get out. Mental note.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I loathe the BNP. I find their economic policies absurd and their racial policies repugnant. I would no sooner vote for them than I would support New Zealand at rugby. Almost everything about them, from their sharp-suited spivvishness to their shaven-headed thuggishness makes nauseates me. And yet I feel moved to write a post in defence of them. I was originally going to call this post 'In defence of the BNP' but worried that it might jeopardise my job. And that is the problem.

This morning, on the Today programme, in a discussion of the fight between the ghastly Mayor of London and Trevor Phillips, Trevor Phillips defended his history on racial conflict by boasting he had made it illegal for prison officers to be members of the BNP. Government ministers openly reflected that, in light of the acquittal of the leader of the BNP laws should be changed so that they could get him next time. It was mooted that no member could join the police or work in the civil service as a whole. The BNP is a legal political party. It happens to be a vile one, but I think much the same about Respect, and not much more of the Liberal Democrats.

It is deeply, deeply disturbing that we have become so intolerant of certain minority opinions that we are prepared to bend and even break our own rules in order to disoblige those that hold them. The best way to defeat the BNP is to treat them as a political party, engage on the issues and demonstrate their failings. To treat them as an illegal body, when they are not, goes against every fibre of the British legal system. I am rather surprised that I feel this strongly, after all I have a visceral dislike for them and all their works (a dislike I am deliberately emphasising, as a gesture of how craven I am on the subject), yet principles of liberty, of free speech and freedom of association within the law are far far more important.

If one is only free to hold popular opinions, to have mainstream views, to join respectable parties or to believe conventional truths one is not truly free. If we believe that certain thoughts should be outlawed, and that it should be easier to ban political parties because we dislike the views they espouse, then we really are becoming little better than that which we seek to silence.


Sorry about that, things just kept coming. Back for now though, and just in time to get mildly ticked off at the furore surrounding Tony Blair's expression of deep sorrow for the existence of the slave trade. Looking at the wording of the statement, it should have ranked high on a list of thoroughly non-controversial sayings:

I believe the bicentenary offers us a chance not just to say how profoundly shameful the slave trade was - how we condemn its existence utterly and praise those who fought for its abolition - but also to express our deep sorrow that it could ever have happened and rejoice at the better times we live in today.

So, slavery was bad - who'd have thought it? One good thing though, whatever this is it's certainly no apology. And quite right too. Demanding an apology, as a first step towards demanding financial compensation, for the slave trade is an exercise in fatuity so pronounced that one almost expects Ramsey Clarke to get involved. Quite apart from the fact, as Tim so eloquently pointed out ages ago, the basis behind compensation in this country is to put the plaintiff in position he would have been in had the event not occurred. Since West Africa is so much poorer and less healthy, it would seem that the descendants of slaves should be grateful rather than the reverse.

Simplistic as this might be (it is not unreasonable to suggest that, were it not for slavery, the economies of pre-colonial Africa might have been significantly healthier) it touches on an important point. What actual, quantifiable loss can these descendants be said to have suffered? The question is unanswerable because the loss is nebulous. If a man (or more likely a woman) has been enslaved he shoulf have the right to claim compensation, and his slaver should be imprisoned. But for his great-great-great-grandchildren to claim compensation is as absurd as my suing St Barts hospital in London because they operated on a distant ancestor in the days before anaesthetic.

Friday, November 17, 2006

When to pull up the ladder...

Keen (and possibly tragic) readers of the reptile will know that I am a keen cricketer who, if there was any justice in this benighted world, would even now be rendering the choice between the better batting skills of Giles and the more classic spin bowling of Panesar entirely academic. "Pick the Reptile", should be the cry, "his elegant off-spin action is beautifully complemented by his correct and skillful batting!" Even one such as I (grammar), however, know when to pull up the ladder.

The two 13-year-olds slammed triple centuries en route to posting an unimaginable 721 in 40 overs. While Manoj cracked an unbeaten 320 off 127 balls, Tumbi pummeled 324 off 116 balls during their opening partnership, which featured 103 boundaries.

Oooh sorry Skip, the hamstring's gone, you'll have to get someone else on...

Stunned by the onslaught, the St Philips' batsmen did not have the stomach to put up a fight and were bowled out for a paltry 21. St Peter's emerged winners by a record 700-run margin.

I was once playing a college match at Worcester, where the home side rattled up some 300 or so in 40 overs. I distinctly remember being put into the lake on the straight boundary (slogger!). In our innings I asked to be put at 9 or 10 so I could do some work (it was Finals year). Accordingly at 30 for 8 I strode majestically to the wicket. I think I finished on 10 not out, and we lost by 260 odd runs. This must be 5 and a half years ago and the scars are with me still. (It was OK, we beat Worcester in Cuppers that year and there was much rejoicing).


There's a fascinating article in the New Yorker about the history of cholera, and of the discovery of its casusation in London. I've seen the replica pump without a handle (and drunk in the John Snow pub opposite) and think the story a great example of the power of thought. Cholera is one of the most terrifying of diseases: it kills fast and horribly and leaves the victim conscious and suffering throughout. Since I know my mother never reads this blog, I can safely reveal my own (tangential) brush with the disease.

I was in Mozambique in the December of 1997, in the port of Beira, at one point beautiful, tree-lined tropical Imperial Portugual, but now decayed and dirt poor (but recovering at least). I was gapping, and thus smelly, pretentious and keen to explore. I'd travelled in a group of about six, hitching a lift across from Mutare in Zimbabwe, the last part in the open back of a lorry carrying onions (I think). I was the only one with any smattering of Portuguese, and even this consisted of speaking GCSE Spanish in a Sean Connery accent (I don't think Tim would approve). We were staying in a campsite on the beach and had been for a day or so when it was reported that cholera had broken out in the town.

It has a certain ring to it, that does, especially when you're 18 and immortal. After a quick straw poll we decided that the only sensible thing to do was to stay there, but to avoid drinking water, eating salad and having ice in our drinks. Why drink water anyway when litre bottles of Manica beer were so cheap. For those unfamiliar with the brand, it's a nice light beer, not too fizzy and not too strong. Or it's a very heavy beer, about 6-7% and liable to make you fall over. Depends on which batch you're drinking. How do you tell? You can't, at least not until you try and stand up. To their credit the state brewery is aware of this problem and remedies by not bothering to put an alcohol by vol. label on the bottles, presumably because they know it would be guesswork.

Manica beer as an alcoholic roulette wheel is to be recommended - it adds a touch of uncetainty to a pursuit that can otherwise be a bit predictable. As a straight swap for the stuff of life, however, it leaves a lot to be desired. We did leave Beira a couple of days later, as it happens, just as the cholera epidemic was starting to die down. A tropical storm came in and snapped our carbon-fibre tent poles. I'm going back to Mozambique in the summer (on honeymoon as it happens), and I'm really looking forward to it. Might stay off the beers though, wouldn't want a 10% special to spoil things...

UPDATE: Apparently Manica beer has since been bought by SAB Miller, cleaned up and transformed into 'a standard lager - golden and light'. Mixed feelings. On the one hand a unique beer has been homogenised, on the other I'll never again find a plaster floating in my pint. What was that about cholera again?

The implications of Sego...

Interesting times over the Channel, as Segolene Royal wallops her opponents on the left, Fabius and Strauss-Kahn, and takes the Socialist nomination for the Presidency. While it goes a little way to showing that the French left hasn't succumbed to the head-in-the-sand insanity that overwhelmed the British conservatives it does also have wider implications for the future of France.

The first is the implication for the right (or what passes for it in France). It should be clear that they have absolutely no option but to choose Nicolas Sarkozy of they want to avoid defeat. De Villepin, for all his aristocratic appeal and Napoleonic panache is pure electoral poison, while the proposal, seriously mooted by some, that L'Escroc himself should try to hold on for another term, presumably to avoid having to change the pin-stripes on his suits to arrows , should surely be dismissed as lunacy. The election should, therefore, be between Sarkozy and Royal.

The second key implication is for the left itself. Whatever Sego turns out to be, and she has been following the Cameron technique of saying little and looking different and fresh, she does not appear to be quite as ideologically calcified as her opponents. This may mean that some sacred cows can finally be slain. She has certainly been prepared to criticise public sector Unions: not a noted tendency on the left in any country.

Perhaps the most welcome effect of her nomination, provided it co-incides with Sarkozy on the right, is the probable marginalisation of Le Pen's Front National. So much was made of his making the second round last time, and on speculation that this time his time might have come, that the main reason he made it has been overlooked. If the Left was divided and weak, offering a variety of uninspired candidates, none of whom caught the imagination or provided anything but more of the same, or, worse, more of the old it is not surprising that a fringe candidate's 20% or so might eclipse them. If Royal can unite the left, she ought to be able to kick Le Pen into touch. Equally, on the right, if Sarkozy is nominated he ought to appeal to those on the right who, reaonably, disliked Chirac and wanted a tougher social line. Without appealing to the racist side of FN support, Sarkozy shouldbe able to squeeze its vote. I would be surprised if Le Pen did as well in the next election as in the last, and astonished if he were to make it to the second round.

The final point is one I have made frequently before. Both Royal and Sarkozy have acquired a reputation of freshness, of newness and of difference. This sets them out from the grey-suited herd of politicians, giving them a touch of stardust. It is what Blair had, and what Cameron has, that sets them apart from Gordon Brown, who painfully lacks it. It is, however, not remotely true for either of them. Both Sarkozy and Royal are career politicians. Royal has been in active politics for nearly 30 years. Sarkozy similarly. It is, in other words, a created political narrative that seems to imbue them with the most valuable political asset of all: freshness and difference. Count the number of times people say that the election of Royal (or Sarkozy) heralds 'a new era for French politics' or that they 'are a breath of fresh air' to the stale of scene. It's intoxicating, but it's untrue. Post modern politics.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gerry Ford

Is now officially the oldest ever President of the United States, having overtaken Reagan. My own impression of Gerry Ford is based almost entirely on nasty little cracks about his dumbness ('played too much football without a helmet', 'couldn't fart and chew gum at the same time' etc) with a side prize going to his cameo on on of the finest Simpsons episodes ever ('do you like football? do you like pretzels?').

In light of this article, however, I might just change my tune...

Oh, and Ford is also good for two (related) quiz questions:

1. Who are the only two U.S Presidents never to be elected to office; and
2. Who are the only three Presidents to become President without winning the popular vote

People answering GW Bush to the first will have points deducted.


There's been a nice little debate over in Hades about the precise meaning of the term libertarian, and whether it can only be used in an absolute sense: whether it is impossible for a libertarian to accept any sort of state at all. I tend to agree with the DK in that libertarian is probably not the ideal phrase to cover the sort of 'right-wing' opinions we share (more or less) and that the term 'Classical Liberal' would be far better had its meaning not been utterly trraduced by the shower of bastards in the Liberal Democrat party.

But the debate has opened my eyes to the casual misuse that lefties subject the term to. Take Anne Karpf in today's Guardian.

The libertarian line is that the state shouldn't intervene in private life. Quite a comical viewpoint in some ways, because many of those who express it have no hesitation in insisting upon vaccination, compulsory schooling or tougher divorce laws - all examples of how the state regulates our behaviour.

A good first sentence there. The libertarian line is indeed that the state should not intervene in private life. Therefore, by the same logic, those who insist upon compulsory schooling, vaccination or tougher divorce laws are not libertarians. If you look at libertarian as being on the opposite ideological wing to authoritarianism, however, then it can be seen that one can tend towards libertarianism without being an absolutist. It's a perfectly reasonable stance, for example, to believe that the state should have a monopoly of violence (ie an army) but not a monopoly of production. Such a view is more libertarian than socialism (in the old fashioned sense) while still accepting some role for the state.

Anyway, despite that, her sentence basically reads:

Libertarians believe that the state shouldn't intervene in private life. Quite a comical view actually because some people who aren't libertarians by my definition believe that it should.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Has anyone wondered?

Apologies for the forthcoming self-indulgent post, but sometimes questions occur and one wonders if there's an answer out there. I mentioned some time ago in that book meme that I was reading NAM Rodger's magisterial The Command of the Ocean, vol 2 of his trilogy on the Royal Navy. For various reasons, work and a sudden tendency to the frivolous being the most prominent, I'm still reading it now. It's a very well written and thought-provoking book, and quite hot on the fact that the role of the Navy isn't discussed nearly enough in non-naval histories of Britain.

While considering this, and reading on, it struck me that a case could very well be made that the Royal Navy was actually the driving force behind much of Britain's development, economic and industrial over the early modern period. The great shipyards at Chatham employed specialist workers on production lines, were far and away the largest employers in Europe and required significant degrees of finance.

The British system of banking, essentially borrowing from the people rather than individual financiers, was designed at least in part to cover the costs of the Navy; the last straw that broke Parliament's back in 1641 was Ship Money; the creation of a dominant empire was based on the naval gains of the Seven Years War, and protected and enhanced by naval dominance; the revitalisation of agriculture was at least partially sparked by the logistical demands of an enlarged Navy.

All very half-formed thoughts I realise, and as I'm no longer an academic of any shade I'm not going to be taking them that much further, but it's interesting stuff nonetheless, and makes the relative absence of the Royal Navy from social and economic histories of Britain somewhat baffling.

How big a loss?

Back to more serious matters, and the news that Marcus Trescothick is having to leave the Ashes series and fly home, after suffering a recurrence of the peculiar mental affliction that forced him home from the India series, is a bit of a blow for England without question. But how big a blow?

As a team man/bloke Tresco is one of the legends, perpetually helpful, unselfish and all-round nice chap; as a slip fielder he's up there with the best in the world; but it is as a batsman that he's supposed to earn his crust, and here the loss is perhaps less crushing.

Before this happened, the choice was widely felt to be, given that Fletcher had ruled that five bowlers were needed, between Bell and Collingwood at five, with Flintoff at six. Both have done enough to deserve their place, so the simple removal of poor old Tresco at the top, with Alistair Cook moving up to open and Bell going at 3 seems to solve this problem. Except. That Bell averaged less than twenty at 3 against the Aussies, and scored 3 hundreds on the bounce at six against Pakistan. Ideally of course, Flintoff would go 7 and be able to bowl his full quota, but then of course, if my uncle had tits he'd be my aunt.

One last story about Trescothick. As the cognoscenti (and indeed anyone who isn't actually blind) know, Tresco has an issue with foot movement, as in he doesn't. Batting in a biscuit tin as some say, and as the Aussies say, 'when you're rooted; you're rooted'. During the Ashes last summer, Marcus was a t a friend's wedding, who was marrying a Kiwi. At the reception he was dancing with his wife, when he found himself surrounded by drunken Kiwis all telling him to 'Move yer feet!' It is a testament to the basic good blokeness of him that he laughed and got a round in. I hope he's still able to.

Knee-jerk revelation

I am not the only one to be alarmed and offended by the response to the BNP trial result. That Nick Griffin was even tried is faintly absurd (though it pales by comaprison to the gay horse, racially discriminatory revving and threatening jelly baby cases), that he was found not guilty is reassuring. At least juries are not prepared to find people guilty of crimes because they dislike them personally, or their opinions. Sadly the Chancellor (and presumably next Prime Minister) as well as a potential future Deputy are not so liberal.

For Brown to rush into the public sphere and demand that, because Griffin's beliefs are 'out of the mainstream' there should be 'no place for them' and that the legislation would be looked at agin with a view to criminalising it is concerning on two separate levels. The first is the constitutional one. A man is found not guilty in a court of law after due trial by his peers. Since the Chancellor of the Exchequer dislikes the result he all but pledges to change the law in response. Concerning. His rationale: that opinions that are out of the mainstream should be criminalised? Deeply alarming.

Compare this to Margaret Beckett's statement that people who are sceptical about the science of climate change are like holocaust deniers and should be banned from the media? Exactly when did the baalnce in this country change from a liberal democracy to some bizarre thought-crime homogenised hole?

And the Pollster

Tim has already done a little fisking of this one, and the poor little Greek boy ((c) DK) has added his two drachma-worth, but just one bit specifically presented itself as a tooth-grinding example of why we shall never be friends.

Yesterday the thinktank IPPR published a timely report on four Savings Gateway pilots, where anyone on a low income can get 50p from the state for every £1 they save, up to £250. The pilots show more people saving. Rolled out nationally, it would cost the state only £180m - peanuts compared with the (inexplicable) £1.75bn state subsidy the affluent already get in tax-free Isas and Peps.

It's not just that she sees it as inexplicable that people should be able to set aside a limited amount of money without being subject to double taxation. What gets me is that she sees not being taxed on something as a subsidy. This is the antithesis of the truth: it's ridiculous to suggest that not having money taken away is the same thing as having money given to you. Man; I'm annoyed now.

Odd sort of criticism

Robert Fox has an article up about the Falklands today. Without wanting to get too much into the meat of article, which is about war reporting and embedded journalists, this comment surprised me somewhat.

The taskforce sailed in April 1982 with a band of 34 correspondents, cameramen and photographers. All were white, male, and carried UK passports. They were accredited with documents issued for the second world war and rules of conduct printed in English and Arabic for the Suez crisis of 1956. There was nobody from Europe, the US, or the Commonwealth - let alone anyone from Latin America.

Is he suggesting that the Royal Navy should have given sea room to Argentine journalists? Or what else is he suggesting. The Navy offered searoom to 30 odd journos, and taking any more would have meant leaving soldiers behind to make space. Since the Argentines wren't letting neutral journos into Port Stanley either, and there was no other way to get there, the number of journalists was by definition limited. They chose reporters from most of the wings of the British media. And the problem with this is? Rather weird.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Points illustrated

Just further to my last post, Simon Jenkins, The William Rees-Mogg de nos jours writes a piece with the first line, Americans think they are good at war and are bad at it; they think they are bad at democracy and are good at it. Now, this might seem a slightly odd statement. It would take a fairly peculiar line on history to demonstrate that the Americans are bad at war in the same way as, say, the Italians (i.e. not good at the execution of warfare) or the Germans (i.e. prone to catastrophic defeat). Jenkins does not, in fact, attempt to demonstrate this. He doesn't go so far as to mention warfare again in the article, which one might think goes a long way to invalidate his unsupported assertion.

And look down to the comments and what do we see? A string of commentors attacking Jenkins, not for the ridiculous statement that America is bad at war, but for daring to suggest that it even has a democracy at all. Diebold, chads, Bush lied, Rethuglicans, stolen elections, disenfranchised, Halliburton. It's like they've got a damp electrical connection: push the button and blue sparks fly everywhere.

Stocks to Sell!

In 2008 there are two industries that I would seriously recommend selling: Aluminium foil producers and green ink manufacturers. The reason being that, on the departure from office of George Bush (for certain) and presumably Tony Blair as well (although it would be quite funny to watch Gordon Brown's face if Tony manages to hang on that long), the heads of large numbers of weird Guardian-reading conspiracy theorists are going to explode, depriving the above industries of their most profitable customers.

Mark Steyn long ago diagnosed the Bush Derangement Disorder that affects leftists to a greater or lesser extent (I'm assuming that it finally proved fatal to A L Kennedy - haven't heard from her in a while anyway) but seriously, reading the comments section under any Comment is Free aerticle is like lifting a rock in the tropics. This piece is an absolute doosy as well, entitled as it is Saddam: a tribute. It's a predictably unpleasant piece - basically pulling the Castro line "but they had great healthcare" - but it's the comments that put the icing on the cake.

A few years ago, I don't think I would have assumed that the default left-wing position on dictators was that, provided they were anti-American they weren't just tolerable but actually a Good Thing. The problem with this internet malarkey is that it's not just the views of the sanitised left that filter through, but a glimpse is given of the core beliefs. The 'net seems to concentrate the belief systems for both right and left, partly through providing an echo chamber, partly through displaying unvarnished examples of what the other side is thinking. And from where I'm sitting (on the right, natch) the view is really not pretty.

A Fistful of dollars

The fairy blogmother of the British blogscene has had an interesting discussion going on the nature of currency, largely in connection with the advisability of a pan-European currency, as compared to the pan-United States currency. She asks if it was the case that different states issued different currencies, essentially different versions of the dollar.

This was, I think, the case in the early days of the United States, but it was certainly the case throughout the brief life of the Confederacy. Every two-bit town that had a printing press was running off Macon County dollar bills or similar. The acceptability of these varied widely, with Richmond dollars being considered the best (apart of course from pre-war US dollars), and others being variously discounted according to their provenance.

The result of all this was, sadly, galloping inflation and the collapse of the Southern banking system. Which doesn't go to show anything much apart from the fact that it is a bad idea to give local regional banks the power to print money. And possibly that, for a state to have power over its money supply, it must have political control over all its regions. Otherwise you end up with inflation, and a collpase of confidence in the financial sector.

Estate Riots

Laban has a slightly unbelievable story of mass riots in Cheltenham, complete with mass arson, violence, petrol bombs and other assorted goodies one doesn't generally associate with the seat of retired Colonels and their wives. One detail, however, was enough to reassure me that this was indeed Cheltenham rather than Clichy:

At 8.45pm another fire was lit behind New Zealand House and a fire engine rushed to the scene of a blaze which threatened to set the whole tower block alight.They were quickly followed by two police vans and four police cars as youths hurled bricks at police and firefighters.The jeering and aggression grew as the sirens swept through the streets and officers with dogs and riot gear spilled out of vans to be confronted by baiting crowds.Residents of neighbouring Rhodesia House took to the balconies to watch as police swarmed on to the scene.

Rhodesia House? It has to be Cheltenham! Anywhere else this would have been renamed Robert Mugabe House, or ZANU PF Towers, but not there. Maybe the next riot will be launched from Siam House or Portuguese East Africa Towers.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trick or treat...

A day late (and after an evening spent studiously ignoring the bell as well) but I'm not sure I'd like to wander around Edgware Road on a Tuesday evening in this costume...(hat tip to Tim Blair - the world needs more blogging Tims)