Wednesday, 25 November 2020



Sunset photo hastily snapped from a bedroom window yesterday evening. Autumn is a time of beauty but so often we barely notice. 

On the school run at this time of year we often see a beautiful sunrise with vast swathes of fiery colour streaked across the eastern horizon. Or early morning mist filling the valley like a silver grey sea with only a church steeple and a few trees rising above it. I sometimes think I should stop the car and take a photo, but never do. Too much traffic and things to do. Clock ticking, things to do.

Autumn tree colours seem to have been particularly beautiful this year too, but maybe this year hasn't been unusual in that respect. A stark contrast between the beauties of nature and the ugliness of human madness may be in the mix too.   

Poverty poverty slammed

In a recent article, Dr Nikki Splurgeon, head of Poverty Poverty Forensics at Fradley University, has slammed the government record on what she describes as “poverty poverty”.

“This government has failed miserably in its duty to bear down on poverty poverty,” she claims. She goes on to explain that it has “failed in its basic moral imperative to identify unidentified poverty hidden under layers of planet-hating complacency."

“This,” she says “is poverty poverty, the social poverty of blatantly ignoring ignored poverty. It is real and it is here now, here in our pathological, consumerist, planet-destroying midst.”

Dr Splurgeon does not pull any punches while attacking what she sees as a pernicious social injustice. “There is in this country a deplorable poverty deficit in that the full range of poverties has never been rooted out and dealt with as any decent, civilised country should be doing right now, today, this very second.”

Dr Splurgeon has certainly given us something to think about.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Neil Oliver: All political parties are 'self-harming'


This is interesting if you haven't seen it. TV presenter Neil Oliver gives his views on a number of topical issues, yet although his take on them is considered and quite moderate it is also damning. Things are bad when even a moderate view is damning.  

Monday, 23 November 2020

Thanks Boris

As we know, a sinister aspect of the coronavirus debacle has been the emergence of volunteer police informers. We are aware of at least two instances where this issue has interfered with the daily lives of people within our circle of friends, family and acquaintances. In our limited experience, this makes it more common than a serious coronavirus illness.

A previously amenable neighbour informs the police about the visit of a parent to a nearby house. The visit was legitimate within current rules but the police arrived on the doorstep and all had to be explained.

Family members stroll around a park, but as they are not in the same bubble, different groups within the same family decide not to walk together in case there are informers around.

Thanks Boris.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

No going back

Today we made a snap decision to buzz off to Matlock for breakfast. Getting up late to a sunny morning had something to do with it. Takeout of course, but off we went in the late autumn sunshine with the top down and very pleasant it was too. In these preposterous times we tend to take life as it comes and try to make the best of each day. A benefit of the coronavirus shambles I suppose.

Matlock was surprisingly busy but we managed to find a bench in the park where we enjoyed an excellent bacon cob and a coffee from our favourite takeout café. There was even a fair amount of warmth in the sun which had certainly encouraged lots of families to take a stroll in the park.

As Mrs H observed, it was almost as if the restrictive Sunday shopping laws had returned. As if people had temporarily lost the urge to wander round soul-free malls buying stuff they don’t need. It was good to see young families strolling around the park on a Sunday morning, but there is no going back. At this time of year many Sundays are wet, grey and cold and it was never a day of rest for everyone.

The ‘Fair Trade’ principle at work


We don't buy Fairtrade coffee, but the quality problem seems to be an old one.   For example -

A simple example illustrates this point. A farmer has two bags of coffee to sell and there is a Fair Trade buyer for only one bag. The farmer knows bag A would be worth $1.70 per pound on the open market because the quality is high and bag B would be worth only $1.20 because the quality is lower. Which should he sell as Fair Trade coffee for the guaranteed price of $1.40?

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Our Teflon Civil Service

Boris Johnson 'asked for Patel report to be palatable', source claims

Boris Johnson is facing questions about whether he tried to tone down an independent report which said Home Secretary Priti Patel broke the ministerial code by bullying staff.

Number 10 has insisted Sir Alex Allan's conclusions were "entirely his own".

But a Whitehall source told the BBC that Sir Alex had resisted pressure to make the findings more "palatable".

Yet we have already been told -

The definition of bullying adopted by the Civil Service accepts that legitimate, reasonable and constructive criticism of a worker's performance will not amount to bullying.

It defines bullying as intimidating or insulting behaviour that makes an individual feel uncomfortable, frightened, less respected or put down.

Ah - feelings again. What the Civil Service appears to accept is a spectrum of criticism from effective to ineffective, but if criticism is ineffective there isn't much else to be done. Apart from embarking on tedious and time-consuming HR processes presumably, but that will be part of the game. Not an unfamiliar situation.