Tuesday, 14 October 2014

What to do....

A terror suspect was considering an indiscriminate Mumbai-style attack and had an address for Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie, the Old Bailey has heard.

Well the address is not that hard to find. It is in Connaught Square, W2.

I used to live in Connaught Square, at number 23, right on the corner. That was in the days before anybody outside of CND or MI5 ever heard of Tony Blair....

But I suspect when they see this post, 5 will be frantically checking the records. Tossers.

Blair is, of course, the 'man' who launched us into a record number of wars. You might notice that his son and heir has never served in the Armed Forces. We have a name for such people......


Monday, 13 October 2014

I generally do not approve of capital punishment, but at times like this do I wonder why the security services are issued with firearms.... That this piece of vermin should be released and allowed to walk among Human Beings is a disgrace.

Brighton bomber Patrick Magee has returned to the town 30 years after his deadly device ripped through the Grand Hotel killing five people.
The Republican, who was handed eight life sentences in 1986, planted the bomb that targeted Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Cabinet during their annual conference in 1984.
Magee was back in the city to take part in a panel discussion following a screening of documentary Beyond Right & Wrong at The Old Market in Hove.
The programme follows the story of Jo Berry, whose father Sir Anthony Berry was killed in the explosion, and her reconciliatory journey with Magee.
He previously returned to Brighton in 2004 to take part in a panel discussion with Ms Berry. But Lord Tebbit, who was trade and industry secretary at the time, said he could not forgive the bomber.
The former minister was severely injured in the blast and his wife Margaret was left paralysed from the neck down and needing 24-hour care.
Writing for The Telegraph, he said: “I am often asked if I can find it in my heart to forgive the creature, Patrick Magee, who planted the bomb.
“That, of course, is not possible, for Magee has never repented.”
Staff at the hotel held a minute’s silence to mark the 30th anniversary of the outrage, which killed five seriously injured 34 others.
Magee was released in 1999 under the Good Friday Agreement – having served 13 years for the crime.


Saturday, 11 October 2014

Fat Cats...

“The whole of British politics has been shaken up in a way that the complacent Westminster class could never even have contemplated,” Nigel Farage said as Duncan Carswell was re-elected to Westminster. “Something big is happening here. People want change. They have had enough of career politicians in three parties who don’t even understand the problems they face in their everyday lives. People want real change."

Yes, Nigel, the nation has had enough of 'career politicians' it is true.
And what have you done for a living since 1999, Mr Farage? Ahhh.... you have been a career politician. 
You also employed your wife, contrary to your own undertakings, at taxpayer's expense. Even now, she is employed as an an assistant by a certain Ray Finch, who in the last parliament was himself employed by you as an assistant. That looks a bit dodgy, doesn't it?
And there was a story in the Sunday Times, a few years ago, alleging that one of your sons was on the payroll too....
Yes Nigel, those career politicians are milking the taxpayer for everything they can get... 

Thursday, 9 October 2014




I really do despair about the state of the English language media.

The following is from today's Telegraph (Oct 9th 2014).

"Mr Cameron has previously suggested that migrants from poor countries that join the European Union should be banned from moving to Britain, David Cameron has suggested."

I understand that commercial pressures have led to the redundancy of most of the real journalists, and that most copy, even in such journals as the Telegraph, is apparently sourced by interns from the wires. 

But can they not find one that actually reads that which they cut and paste?

It's no wonder the country is going to the dogs....

Monday, 6 October 2014

How the other half live....

I had to visit the Commune (Town Hall) today, to get a piece of paper stamped. Don't ask me what it was, I couldn't give a stuff, getting bits of paper stamped is an everyday part of life here in Belgium.

I live in that part of town where most of the embassies are, and it is a nice 15 minute walk to the Commune, so I don't get too stressed about it. I had a really nice stroll, stopped off at my local shop to pass a few minutes with my Sri Lankan chums, talked about cricket, and generally enjoyed the start to my day.

For the first time ever, I noticed the embassy of Madagascar in Avenue de Tervueren. It is very big. Very big, and very grand. There were a number of Mercedes outside - the kind you don't see in the showrooms- big limos with blacked out windows and diplomatic plates. Very impressive.

And all that for a bunch of cartoon animals.


Friday, 3 October 2014

Meeting Oleksandr Vilkul



My day got off to a good start.

I got to interview the former Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Oleksandr Vilkul, I was very pleased to have some time with him one hour before the start of his official press conference.

Ukrainian politics, and the dynamics of that country's political elite are often a total mystery to me, even after some years of engagement. But I make a point of engaging with both sides of the debate. And I am excited to say that today a wee bit of optimism is creeping in for the first time in many months...







Saturday, 27 September 2014

Die Partei ist Farage! Farage aber ist UKIP wie UKIP Farage ist!

If anybody doubted the extent of Nigel Farage's megalomania, then this should dispel those doubts.

Farage believes that Cameron recalled Parliament yesterday, to debate the possibility of military action against ISIS, in order to take attention away from the UKIP party conference.

No Nigel, he waited until yesterday because the Labour Party conference was taking place earlier in the week, and he needed the Labour MPs there to take part in that debate. The UKIP party conference was not relevant, because UKIP has no MPs.

UKIP is hoping to obtain its "first" MP soon, in the shape of one Mr Carswell. Apparently Bob Spink, who was once UKIP's "first MP" has been airbrushed out of history. He simply did not exist. I am so reminded of Nazi and Soviet propaganda tactics.
The sort of stuff we can still see today on Russia Today (RT) - the successor  to наше кино,
Bob, who crossed the floor from the Tories to UKIP was a decent chap. I liked him very much. He soon realised what the game was, and walked quietly away from UKIP. So the official line went from "Bob Spink - UKIP's first MP" to "Well, he was never really a UKIP MP..." The UKIP press office never let truth get in the way of damage limitation. The only difference is that then they used to be able to spell it.

This is a serious business, and the boys on the flightline in Akrotiri are getting geared up to go into action.

And Nigel Farage really thinks it is all about him.


Friday, 26 September 2014

A Chat With One Of My Heroes.....



It is no secret that I love Rock n Roll. I remember once being described as a "former Teddy Boy". That made me laugh....  Former? ... I think not.

Today I was thrilled to have a wee chat online with one of the great names of Rock n Roll - Dickie 'Bee Bop' Harrell. 


Dickie was the original drummer with Gene Vincent's Blue Caps. He played on the original recording of Be Bop A Lula way back in 1956


At this point, anybody who understands Rock n Roll should start to get a bit excited.
I won't go into great detail, but I will share just a few of Dickie's words with you.


"GENE WAS ONE OF THE BEST, HE COULD SING AND HE DID IT WELL. I DON'T THINK I ADDED ANYTHING TO HIM BEING SO SUCCESSFUL. CLIFF, JACK AND WILLIE MADE IT HAPPEN WITH THAT SOUND THEY HAD. ANYBODY COULD HAVE DONE WHAT I DID, WHICH IS VERY LITTLE.THE BOYS MADE THE SOUND AND GENE HAD THE VOICE. I REST MY CASE SIR. THANK YOU."


Those of us who love the music will know those names well. We will also recognise one of the most modest statements of all time. Dickie Harrell was absolutely crucial to the early Blue Cap sound. The drums and the background screams on Be Bop A Lula, the frantic energy of the first album Bluejean Bop, Dickie is the sound of the Blue Caps.


How wonderful it is to hear such modesty. How wonderful it is to wake up in the morning to find a message from someone I have idolised since I was about 12 years old..... Now there is a real star!





Dickie, incidentally, is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.  http://www.rockabillyhall.com/gvdickie.html







Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The First Day Of Autumn!

Its the first day of Autumn - my favourite time of the year. As one who likes to walk wherever possible - and Brussels is a very small city - over the last decade I have worked out pretty much how to get from any one place to another on foot whilst taking a route that includes as many parks and gardens as possible, I get a lot of pleasure from this time of the year.

My life is organised at the moment in such a way that I can take relatively large chunks of free time on most days, although it will not, alas, last long.

My thanks to the European Parliament for this great photo, which they published today.

The photo would have been taken right on the edge of Parc Leopold, not one of the largest of public parks it has to be said, but nice enough, and close enough to the parliament that for the last 10 years I have often been able to slip away from the office for some time to read my newspaper by the lake.

It is also the case that whereas we don't have great summers here, they do tend to last, and so I expect to be enjoying the parks and lunching al fresco for a good few weeks to come.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A Sad Anniversary



It just occured to me that today is the 5th anniversary of the passing of Piers Merchant, former journalist, MP, and indeed a former colleague from some years back.

I have many fond memories of Piers, in Brussels, Guernsey, London,and of many hours chatting and plotting on the telephone.

He had a wonderful, and somewhat naughty, sense of humour, and seemed able to make friends in an instant.

It was Piers who encouraged me to turn my working diary and research notes into a book - Putin's Legacy was published in late 2009.

I last saw him, and his wife, at a lunch in Brussels hosted by Roger Knapman and Tom Wise in 2009. It was an opportunity to bring together the nicest little team I ever worked with, as the parliamentary term was coming to an end, and we would all go our separate ways. It was, indeed, the last time we were all to be together, as Piers succombed to his illness shortly after.

I am, actually, the only one of the group who remains in Brussels to his day.

Rest in peace, Piers.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Happy Birthday, Buddy!


Today, September 7th, would have been Buddy Holly's birthday. He died tragically young in 1959 at the age of just 22.

He left behind a huge wealth of material, as well as great Rock n Roll, he recorded inspirational ballads, and pioneered new recording techniques.

We can only speculate as to what he what he could have achieved had he lived....

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Wrong Type Of Curtains

I've been a little quiet recently blogwise, as I am coming to the end of an incredibly turbulent month. Moving home, career change, and my daughter going away to university. All in the same month!

Since arriving in Brussels in 2004, I have always lived in what is known as the 'European Quarter'. I decided to move out a mile or so to a quieter area, Woluwe St Pierre. The problem with the European Quarter is that its in a state of constant development, its like living in a building site.


Where we are now is very 'Belgian', and I stick out like a sore thumb. But the people are very nice here.

And there is already a problem. Apparently my curtains are not in keeping with the spirit of the building. They are not white. One of the neighbours has curtains that are not white also, but mine are patterned, so that makes them worse. They are very heavy, custom made, and designed to last a lifetime. Belgian homes tend to have very high ceilings, and the whole front of the apartment is glass, so I guess they do tend to stand out a bit. But I will stand my ground!