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!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish.

I understand that Gerry Conlon, who was one of the Guildford bombers, according to former workmates who I would trust far more than I would trust Tony Blair and others of his ilk, has died. He died after an illness, presumably peacefully in his bed, unlike his innocent victims who were slaughtered publically and horrifically.

Conlan was absolved of his crimes, and I have nothing more to say on this subject, other than that miscarriages of justice can work both ways.



Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A Hideous Little Dictatorship...

That is how Brussels was described to me last night by a friend, as we sat with a glass of wine before the Belgian match last night.

About 30 minutes before kick-off, armed police entered Place du Luxembourg, outside the European Parliament. They were serving papers on the bar owners, in quite an aggressive manner. You see, the World Cup is not the big community event you might expect this time round. The local mayor has decreed that only the 3 Belgian group games can be watched outdoors.

The police were ordering the bar owners to switch off the big screens on their terraces the instant the game finished.

Now I don't want to think badly of my Belgian hosts - I have lived here for 10 years - but as a political scientist I have to tell you that Belgium does display distinct characteristics that we would normally associate with a fascist state.

This policy is clearly discriminatory, but that would not worry fascists. Let us hope that common sense kicks in, and we foreigners will be allowed to watch our national sides play outdoors.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Breakfast in Bloomsbury



Cartwright Gardens - slightly before my time!
To start with a whinge.... £50 for a return ticket from Birmingham to London with Virgin trains. There was standing room only - I found myself squeezed against the wall outside a toilet which was 'out of service'.The train left 10 minutes late, arriving at Euston 25 minutes late. Rubbish service you provide, Virgin bloody trains!

I arrived in London in time to meet crowds of celebrating Arsenal fans - a really good atmosphere, with Hull fans good naturedly joining in the fun. Well done chaps!

As I often do, I ensconced myself in Cartwright Gardens, my bedroom looking out over the statue of my esteemed ancestor and great inspiration, Major John Cartwright. After quite an intense week, it was just perfect to wake up listening to the birds, and to pore over the Sunday papers in the Gardens after a slightly too large breakfast.

There is something inspirational about Bloomsbury, in a bohemian sort of way. It has been, of course, the home to many literary greats over the years, Virginia Woolf to name but one.

The spot where the Major lived, and where he passed away in 182, having just received a final, ironically melancholic letter from his friend Thomas Jefferson, is now occupied by the University of London. I hope they get the same inspiration that I find in these gentile surroundings.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

A Bit Of Perspective Is Called For...

I am not going to glorify killing. I personally know what it looks like, I know what it sounds like, and I know what it smells like. (The latter being the worst).

But my hackles rise when I hear criticism of our armed forces - the best and most honourable  armed forces in the world.

If these allegations are true, then they indicate immature and insensitive behaviour. I hope that the officers responsible will act upon this, and I am sure that they will. It is not correct behaviour at all, and it does not befit our military, or our country, as I am sure that even our detractors will agree. Let us hear the story of the chap in the picture, who is highly likely to have been under attack, outnumbered, and in territory where even the most innocent of civilians would have been likely to turn on him with a butcher's knife if he were to go down injured.

However, compared with the beheading of innocent civilians by Al Queeda and the Taliban, (the alleged victims here), recorded for posterity, and broadcast with pride through social media, this really does pale into insignificance.

A lapse in military discipline does not compare with the barbaric behaviour of the Taliban.


Sunday, 27 April 2014

Now There Is Beautiful....

My love of Wales, and all things Welsh (especially the rugby), is well known. And so what a pleasure to hit the road this morning and head for Snowdonia. Sunday lunch in Bala, where I picked up a Welsh rugby shirt for George, coffee in Dolgellau, and dinner in Borth with the most charming company.

Back to work tomorrow....

Well Done Nuneaton Town FC!!

And well done to Lewis Moult, who managed to score a hat-trick, in Nuneaton's 3-1 victory over Dartford in the final game of the season.

I was lucky to be able to enjoy the game along with Nikki Sinclaire MEP, who sponsored the match, and the rest of the team. It was my first visit to the ground, and a very entertaining afternoon we had.

Bloody marvelous!