- Written by Patrick Street
....a slightly sideways look at last week’s news with author Patrick Street. In the last couple of weeks, that most exclusive day nursery specifically for the terminally demented has returned from its summer holidays. I refer of course to the UK parliament. It sat for a week, had a quick debate on immigration, a single PMQ’s and then adjourned for the conference season. No sense in overdoing it.
The first convocation up was the TUC conference. Nothing new to report here: same old same old: the brothers unanimously voted for the bloody eradication of the bourgeoisie, the re-introduction of non-contributory super-annuated pension schemes, chauffeured limos and council houses for full time union officers and the annual threat of monthly national strikes until Boris stops being nasty to Bob Crowe.
UKIP, newly anointed as the third most popular UK political party, were next and what a jolly time they had. Attendance was solid, not a seat to be had with none of the normal, Armani-suited camp followers and hangers on you find at other party conferences. More charity shop than Top Shop although the Campaign for Real Ale had set up a trestle table. A very British affair it certainly was. The most popular EU bashing act this year wasn’t, for a change, leader Nigel Farage, although he was on his usual rambunctious form but a new addition to the legion: the pugnacious Godfrey Bloom, a recent capture in the transfer market from the Conservatives. He started off by complaining to the audience, that this was the first conference speech he had given when he had not been hung-over, presumably a comment on the lack of hospitality: austerity and all that.
Mr Bloom, who is standing against Lord Prescott for the Humberside police commissionership, proposed giving Police the right to debag anyone who in future behaved like Tory chief whip Andrew “Pleb” Mitchell. Snortingly un-PC, Mr Bloom said that some of the current rules faced by the police were plainly ‘drafted by a committee of the retarded’. Crikey! He said coppers should stop driving top-of-the-range BMWs and start driving humble Skoda’s. Under him there would be no more traffic cameras, and any officer who arrested a householder for defending his home against burglars would be immediately put on a fizzer.
I reckon UKIP should come to a deal with the other parties to withdraw their candidate and give Mr Bloom a free run against Lord Two Jags. A straight contest between those two would be tremendous entertainment.
A question: Are there any words in the English language more soporific or depressing than: ‘Liberal Democrat Party Conference’? (Apart from “Hello, my name’s Gordon Brown, I’m your new neighbour,”). I doubt it.
There bash was held at the Brighton Centre, capacity 2000, average attendance per session up to Thursday, 200! A bit like Accrington Stanley playing at Old Trafford. Ah! But what a two hundred! The last surviving wrinklies of CND and Woodstock: grey beards and sandals: threadbare sports jackets with leather elbow patches and breast pocket full of ball point pens: most of the women wearing kit straight from a Tangier souk. I must digress here and confess to a pang of nostalgia. These depictions of your standard LibDem infantryman remind me of my old English master, Cyril Trotter, who conformed to all of these criteria, (apart from the women’s dresses) and who was for many years a Liberal town councillor. Sweeping down the corridor at well over six feet, thin as a snooker cue, bent forward thanks to dodgy spine with his gown billowing out astern of him he cut a comical figure, nicknamed Dracula, naturally, by us wags. Why I am I boring you with this? Well, even after two hours grinding away at Shakespeare, Kipling and Co. he had no problem getting we spotty youths to stay behind and discuss literally anything we wished, for as long as we wished.
Simply, he was a very interesting man. The complete antithesis of old Cyril is fellow Lib. Vince Cable, without a doubt the most un-interesting man I’ve ever seen speaking in public. His oratory on Wednesday really should have carried a health warning. For anyone watching with depressive and suicidal tendencies this surely would have been the tipping point. He mounted the stage like the condemned man approaching the scaffold, his manner about as mordant as the late Clement Freud doing Minced Morsel dog food ads in the 1970s. It was not so much a conference speech as a half-time team talk from the undertaker’s hired mourner. For the five minutes I managed to endure the man I could best describe it as the late snooker commentator, Ted Lowe, reading a weather forecast for fog. Quentin Letts in The Mail, had it pegged best of all. “Cable,” he said, “sounded like his family dog had scoffed his pet Gerbil.” In fairness, I suppose, he may have had something of substance to impart, I confess I didn’t have the strength of character to listen and find out. It may get worse, Labour and Tories on base in the next two weeks, Gawd preserve us.
On a brighter note, Aileen Hedges of Gravesend was sentenced to nine months in the pokey at Maidstone Crown Court after the court had refused to accept as mitigation that the Amphetamines, also known as “Speed,” found when the police came knocking were there to help her do the housework faster. Neither did they accept her excuse for having a large bag of Cannabis stashed in her fridge was to help her “come down” after the high of doing the dusting. The charge of also having 900 imported Viagra tablets in her possession was left open on file as the main defence witness, Aileen’s partner Geoff Collier, was unable to appear due to a serious back injury which, her brief insisted, despite the chorus of sniggering from the public gallery, was due to a recent motorcycle accident.
The Portugal News has been hosting, via its letter page, a bit of a spat between supporters and detractors of Kiss FM Disc Jockey, “Sir” Owen Gee. We were all thoroughly educated on the topic last week by a loyal subject of our gallant Knight, Mr. Peter Cain. In an interminably long and detailed dissertation on the topic, in The PT, Mr Cain explained that “Sir” Owen was awarded the “Knighthood” by The Duke of Bragança for services to charity in Portugal. What the detractors seem to be saying is because he hasn’t been elevated to the “real” knighthood, by Her Maj., he shouldn’t call himself “Sir.” Why not? People have always bestowed themselves rank and title. Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Lord Sutch, Lady Gaga, King Oliver, Dame Edna Everidge and Prince himself, to name but a few. The odd “Sir” seems a modest enough social elevation to me. Even the meteorologist who presents the weather forecast on “Sir” Owen Gees radio show has a rank. What’s his name? Ah yes. “Captain” Peter Cain.
Colombian airline Avianca, this week became the latest suitor to pull out of the “race” to buy TAP. The ever optimistic Portuguese finance minister Vitor Gaspar said he was still confident he could flog off the airline by the end of the year as promised. Also, he was reasonably confident the company would remain in Portuguese hands as the two of the three remaining interested parties, Ponta Delgada Flying School and Hugo Alvez Crop Dusters of Portalegre are both Portuguese registered businesses. The third bidder from Mogadishu had yet to deposit the €50 prospectus fee; although the company principal has assured Snr. Gaspar the money will be paid as soon as he receives funds he is owed for the sale of his wife’s Camel. Portugal this week had to pay €2 Billion into the Brussels black hole as their contribution to the European Stability Mechanism, a sort of international Christmas club.
This is the latest wheeze by the EU to fix the calamitous problems within the Euro zone. This kind of policy is known in pseudo Keynsian law as “the reverse bail out.”
The idea being that poor countries send truck loads of money to the rich countries, like Germany. They in turn buy lots of new second homes, BMW’s, Mercs. and Bosch fridges and become even wealthier and then bully the hard-up countries into accepting more financial hardship in return for loans they can never afford to repay. This was tremendous news for the millions of Portuguese already under the austerity cosh who believe, wrongly apparently, that their country is skint. Just goes to show you can’t believe all you read in the papers.
Have a good week.