Olympics & Hypocrisy by Me

Where do I start? With the Olympics and ending up with a personal matter of hypocrisy over the Olympics.

Tom Daley, the Team GB diver, who is only 18 years of age and already competing in his second Olympics today finished 4th in the synchronised diving event. You may think this is a remarkable achievement, especially when you bear in mind that earlier this year, his father died. The pressure upon someone so young, at their home Olympics and expected to win gold must have been immense.

At the halfway stage Daley and his partner were leading, but after a poor 4th dive, they ended up a slightly disappointing 4th place and missed out on the medals.

One sad individual has spent the evening posting sick, threatening and offensive tweets to Tom Daley. Examples of the tweets are below, and started with the top listed tweet.

@TomDaley1994 You let your dad down i hope you know that.

@TomDaley1994 I’m going to find you and I’m going to drown you in the pool you cocky twat your a nobody people like you make me sick

@TomDaley1994 you really didn’t try your best tommy you said you’d do your country proud and you let us all down rather support a tramp the

@SkyNews you fucking report me on the news again i’ll have you done for harrassment and a lawsuit you get me final chance you cunts

I’m not going to give this sad individual the oxygen of more publicity by revealing his name and getting him more followers. His first text is sick but his subsequent texts are without doubt criminal acts (the first is probably as well). This individual is going to find himself getting his collar felt if the police can find any manpower available that are not being used to prevent those evil cyclists of critical mass launching terrorist attacks on the “Olympic Mafia Family.” It can’t come soon enough for the sad twisted person.

Hypocritical? Given he can do nothing more than tweet abuse anonymously, and he is abusing someone who actually tries to perform.

Next – lets turn to the Metropolitan Police who employed several hundred officers to prevent Critical Mass carrying out their peaceful monthly cycle ride which has been running for the last 18 years without incident. They however cannot manage to employ enough officers to ensure they do not lose the keys to Wembley Stadium valued at £40,000.

    Olympic security farce as Wembley keys lost: First the G4S fiasco… now police admit to shocking stadium breach


  • Search teams hunt desperately for keys after they were lost during final preparations for the Games

  • Could cost £40,000 to replace the hi-tech laser key set

  • Claims similar incident occurred during Wimbledon championship are denied


    Police in charge of keeping the Olympics safe have lost the keys to Wembley Stadium.

    Scotland Yard admitted last night that it was to blame for the shocking breach.

    Search teams spent days desperately hunting for the keys after they were mislaid during the final preparations for the Games.

    Sources said it would cost up to £40,000 to replace the hi-tech laser keys. The latest fiasco threatened to further damage already fragile confidence in security arrangements for the Games.

    It also provoked a furious behind-the-scenes row between the police, Locog and private security firm G4S over who was responsible.

    But late last night, Scotland Yard admitted a team of officers mislaid the ‘internal security keys’ during last minute checks.

    Claims that a set of keys were lost at the Wimbledon Championships in similar circumstances were flatly denied by tennis bosses and G4S.

    It is the latest blow to Olympic security after serious questions were raised about the £284million Government contract with G4S to secure the Games. Military personnel were drafted in after the firm admitted it could not supply enough guards.

    More than £600million has been spent securing Games venues, using more than 13,000 police officers from across Britain.

    The Met said staff discovered the Wembley Stadium keys had been lost last Tuesday as final preparations were made for Olympic football matches at the venue.

    It originally said officers were ‘alerted’ to the loss at lunchtime, sparking a criminal inquiry over fears they were stolen.

    But a spokesman later admitted the keys had been mislaid earlier that day by a police team who had returned to check the venue several weeks after it had been secured and sealed by colleagues.

    The officers then spent several days at Wembley Stadium retracing their steps and trying to find the missing set of keys.

    One source said: ‘These were hi-tech laser keys which cost anything up to £40,000 a set as they cannot be copied. They are the same as you get at prisons.’

    A Met spokesman said: ‘On July 24, officers from the Olympic policing operation at Wembley Stadium reported that internal security keys which had been used by them as part of a search were missing.

    ‘Officers attended the venue to assist in the search for the missing items but nothing was found.

    ‘Detectives also went to ascertain if there was any evidence of criminal offences, however at that time there were none.’

    A spokesman for Games organisers Locog said: ‘These were internal keys, locks have been changed and the security of the venue has not been compromised in any way.’

    A spokesman for G4S said: ‘We have no record of losing any keys.’


    It is incredible that 180+ cyclists are arrested for riding their bikes. It is even more incredible that the incompetence of the Metropolitan Police Farce has caused more risk to the security of the Olympics than any cyclist could ever do. Perhaps the Met Police would be better employed in kettling their own officers than innocent members of the public.

    Incidentally, despite the video footage posted on my recent blog post from Critical Mass on Friday night showing the police kettling supporters just off Stratford High Road, their propaganda machine were denying it and claiming it was an unsubstantiated allegation made by those arrested.!!!!

    I thought the police were there to maintain order and tell the truth – clearly I was being naive.

    Now, lets look at the tickets for the Olympics. We have seen thousands of empty seats at all events. I have already commented on how  the opening women’s football match claimed 37,000 ticket sales, but the attendance was nearer 24,000. I notice that crowd sizes at the football matches are not routinely published. Last night’s Team GB game at Wembley was played to a substantially below capacity crowd, especially in the corporate seats.

    Equestrian seats

    Gymnastics seats

    It is difficult to get the truth about who these seats were allocated to, it seems some are allocated to sponsors, some to overseas countries which were not sold or returned  and many more are reserved for the IOC fat cats who demand seats reserved for them at every event, even though they can’t be at more than one event at a time. Their greed and arrogance in demanding tickets and preventing the general public getting tickets so they can have a seat at an event if they feel like going even if for only minutes is incredible.

    If these tickets were sent to overseas countries, you may wonder why they get prime positioned seats whereas the public in the host nations get the seats up in the Gods or as far away from the action as possible? Seems like the British public  would have got better seats if Paris had won the Olympics.

    Now, the problems about tickets are not unusual and happen it seems at every Olympics. I do not blame the LOCOG for this problem. The hypocrisy comes from people like Lord Coe in claiming that  the venues are filled to the “gunwales” and dismissed pictures of the seats as ‘holiday snaps’.

    Parents and friends of swimmers are said to have been refused entry to the Aquatics Centre, while relatives of tennis players have been unable to see matches at Wimbledon.

    Similar problems have been reported at Eton Dorney for the rowing and the ExCel boxing venue, where parents have only been allowed entry after drawn-out negotiations.

    The Met Police again feature in my hypocrisy list. This time for their failure to investigate or deal with a clear public order offence at Lords Cricket Ground on Sunday. See the article below

    Yet more pressure has been heaped on the London 2012 Olympics’ embattled security contractor G4S after one of their staff was accused of spitting and hurling verbal abuse at a serviceman drafted in to cover the gaps at the Games.

    The security guard is alleged to have called the soldier a “baby-killer”, in an apparent reference to his service in Afghanistan after the member of 35 Engineers asked to search him. The incident is thought to have happened at Lords cricket ground on Saturday, which was hosting the archery event.

    G4S said it was “urgently investigating claims of an altercation between a security officer and a soldier”. A spokesman said: “We take any case of improper behaviour by a member of our staff very seriously. We do not tolerate insulting behaviour and, where necessary, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.”

    The Ministry of Defence said the alleged incident was an “isolated occurrence”. A spokesman said: “We can confirm that there was an incident at Lord’s cricket ground on 28 July. The matter was reported and is being investigated by G4S.

    “This isolated occurrence is not indicative of the good working relationship between the military and G4S.”

    G4S has been widely criticised after it was forced to admit it could not provide all of the security guards it was contracted to deploy at the Games. Its chief executive was dragged before MPs to explain the situation and he agreed that the episode was a “humiliating shambles”, saying he regretted taking the contract in the first place.

    It emerged G4S banned its own executives from taking up corporate hospitality places during the Games after the Army was called upon to provide 4,700 personnel to cover the gaps it left in the Olympics security plan, bringing the total number of MoD personnel involved in the Games to 18,000.

    A high level of absenteeism among G4S’ staff and problems getting sufficient numbers of security guards on the roster for events, as well as criticism of the quality of its training have also been reported since the scandal came to light.


    Its a good job the G4S employee was not riding a bike or there would have been hundreds of officers there and held him for hours before bailing him not to so much as think about going to or towards an Olympic Venue.  So Met Police, why the double standards?

    Finally, what has been called by some the ultimate act of hypocrisy. Today, I took possession of a freebie ticket for the Women’s hockey at the Olympics this Thursday and I intend to go and to watch the event. I do not, despite Michelle’s fears intend to wear an Official Protestor Shirt, nor Nike trainers or a Pepsi T Shirt. Am I a hypocrite? I would like to say not. I do not have anything against the Olympics, merely the way the public are treated. I also  am not paying for the ticket and have been given it in recognition of the work I do in connection with a local children’s sports club and have done so for the last 12 years.

    Michelle has made me promise that I will do nothing to get myself arrested, ejected or on TV or in the media. I’m not sure she trusts me. I can’t think why she has such a low opinion of me. Actually, I can- she knows me too well.

    Watch this space….

    July 27th–The Day of Shame for Britain

    27th July 2012 should have been a proud day as the 30th Olympiad opened in London with Danny Boyle’s £27 million opening ceremony.

    The first part of the ceremony was supposed to be showcasing Boyle’s view of British history. This was the story of migration and immigration, protest and rebellion. From the land to the cities, the working classes were shown literally rolling the grass away from under their feet. However, it appears to the world that protest and subversion ended in 1913 with the death of Emily Davison at that year’s Derby under the feet of the King’s horse or in 1920s with the Jarrow March. Where was the depiction of the 1958 Race Riots in Notting Hill? or the 1981 riots across much of Britain? the Miner’s Strike?; the Poll Tax riots? There was no chance of last years riots featuring either. You could add any number of other civil uprisings to this list – all air brushed from history.

    I will return to the celebration on civil protest by the likes of Emily Davison and Emily Pankhurst later in this blog.

    There were some classic British parts in the ceremony. The James Bond scene with the “queen” and Bond parachuting into the ceremony was British humour at the best. Although, the helicopter appears to have left Buckingham Palace in bright afternoon sunshine and arrived at the Olympic Stadium some 5 miles away in pitch darkness. One can only presume Mark Thatcher was navigating!

    The Rowan Atkinson scene during the Chariots of Fire sequence was another example of British humour and was in my view a true showcase of the genre. Sadly in the spirit of the Olympics, clips of this have been removed from You Tube after the IOC claimed its copyright was being infringed. Hopefully this link is still working http://www.comedy.co.uk/videos/4012/rowan_atkinson_london_2012_olympics_opening_ceremony/

    The Olympic torch was made up of 204 separate kettles, each of which was brought to the torch by a competing nation. The torch itself was lit by 7 young athletes rather than by a famous name. Sadly, Sir Roger Bannister was not given the honour. The seven athletes chosen consisted of a rower, a swimmer and 5 track and field athletes. No space for any other disciplines. It may seem churlish, but why no hockey players, cyclists, sailors, equestrian, shooters etc.? I’ll return to the issue of the kettles later, but the torch itself was stunning and a fitting piece for the Olympics.

    The opening bell was rung by Bradley Wiggins, fresh from his winning the Tour de France last weekend. This again was appropriate given what else was happening that night.

    The Olympic flag was carried by amongst other people, Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered Stephen Lawrence. I’m not sure what she has done for Britain or the Olympic movement. Her son was murdered in a brutal attack and after many years 2 of the perpetrators have been jailed for their crime. However, every time she opens her mouth it is seemingly to play the race card and sadly seemingly to inflame racial tensions rather than reduce them. I know that is a view many disagree with, but conversely many agree with it. She was accompanied by Shami Chakrabati who is according to the IOC announcer, the founder of Liberty, the human rights group. Now given that Liberty was founded in 1934 and Ms Chakrabati was born in 1969, I think this is perhaps a little re writing of history (or a mistake).She is actually the Director of Liberty and has been for 9 years now. Her selection to carry the flag may been seen by some as a show of the British supporting the rights of the underdog and the right to protest. Alternatively, it shows how much brown nosing Shami Chakrabati does and how she is a disgrace to her role and her organisation. I will come back to this later in this blog.

    The run up to the Olympics was marked by fears of terrorist attacks. From the awarding of the Olympics on 6th July 2005 and the tube/ bus bombings the following day, through to the opening ceremony we have been told of the threats to our security from Al Qaeda. There was the farce over the G4S recruitment of staff to guard the stadium and their replacement with the Army.

    The Metropolitan Police took the security issue so seriously that they used extendable batons and pepper spray on a disabled ban on his mobility scooter who was trying to cross Black Friars Bridge in London some 5 miles from the Olympic Stadium. This after they tried, to stop Critical Mass, a monthly bike ride that had ridden round London for 18 years peacefully on the last Friday of the month, from crossing the river Thames on any river crossing in Central London.

    Critical Mass has been going since 1994 and is a celebration of cycling to some, a road safety campaign for others, a protest group for others and for yet others, it is a social event. I will declare an interest that I have in the past attended Critical Mass bike rides as a social rider to meet fellow cyclists. The rides are not organised and the routes are not planned.

    The House of Lords in a landmark ruling in 2008 in the case of Kay  (Appellant) v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (Respondent) [2008] UKHL 69 ruled that Critical mass was not a protest but was a procession that was customarily held and therefore not covered by S11 of the Public Order Act 1986.

    One of the features of Critical Mass is that it is a non violent movement. In its 18 year existence it has never been a violent happening.

    Despite all this, the police tried to invoke S12 of the Public Order Act  to prevent the event taking place. This in my view was an illegal use of S12, which requires the police to have reasonable grounds to fear serious violence or serious disturbance. On 27th July the Critical Mass website had called for PASSIVE resistance of police attempts to prevent the happening taking place.

    There is some incredible footage of police violence taking place on a disabled man on a motorised scooter who was part of the ride. Others have blogged on it and posted footage of it here and elsewhere




    "People have a right to protest. It is an incredibly important part of our democracy," the Metropolitan Police statement said.

    "What people do not have the right to do is to hold a protest that stops other people from exercising their own rights to go about their business.

    Now, look through that footage and think about the propaganda issued by the Met Police today. Look at the footage outside Tesco in Stratford and ask who it is who is blocking the main road from London to Stratford? The 20-30 cyclists there or the several hundred police officers and the scores of police vehicles. When you look at this question, you start to see that the police statement is a tissue of lies. Remember ?John Charles De Meninez who was armed, jumped the tube barrier, was carrying a bomb etc. or so the police lied immediately after he an unarmed Brazilian was shot in 2005 or Ian Tomlinson who had apparently never been near a police officer the day PC Simon Harwood attacked him twice just minutes before he collapsed and died. The Metropolitan Police are skilled at telling lies and deliberately issuing untrue and false information to get the public on their side before the truth eventually drips out later, but by then the public outrage has subsided.

    The last line of that police quote is interesting. Are we going to see the police arresting tube drivers when they strike because they are preventing people from going about their business. Note that use of the word business – this clearly shows what this is all about. The big business of the IOC and its commercial bribe payers sponsors

    The police tactic of kettling protestors is an affront to  democracy. They simply corral people and can hold them for many hours, without allowing them to leave, go to the toilet or even seek legal advice. Quite how this kettling is acceptable in a modern society is not clear. Sadly the Courts seem to think this tactic, despite being a clear breach of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the provision in the Human Rights Act against detention without trial (Article 5)

    Article 5: Right to Liberty

    (1) Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:
    (a) the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court;
    (b) the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law;
    (c) the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;
    (d) the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority;
    (e) the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics and drug addicts or vagrants;
    (f) the lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorised entry into the country or of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition.
    (2) Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reason for his arrest and of any charge against him.
    (3) Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1(c) of this Article shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.
    (4) Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.
    (5) Everyone who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this Article shall have an enforceable right to compensation.

    This kettling does not fit any of these exceptions to the right to liberty.

    As I said earlier, it is ironic that at the Olympic opening ceremony, every  team carried a kettle when this is what the police were doing to peaceful cyclists.

    Incidentally, look at the number of police officers at each clip, especially near Tescos in Stratford and on Bow Flyover as well as on the busses at Charing Cross Police Station. I thought there were concerns about security at the Olympics. So how can the police afford enough officers to outnumber a peaceful cycling happening by 5 to 1?

    Again, in the footage, at Charing Cross Police Station and at Tescos, notice how certain officers try to prevent the filming of what is happening. One may ask why that is? The police use filming of incidents to help prevent crime or convict perpetrators of crime, but seem to try by force to prevent people filming their criminal actions or simply their actions that portray them in a less than good light. At Tescos, it is noticeable that it is one officer only that tries to prevent filming. The majority of officers are helpful to the cameraman in showing their collar numbers.

    Many of those arrested were taken to Charing Cross, held there for 2 hours on busses with no access to toilets, food, drink or legal advice. Then many were taken to Croydon police garage and held their for several more hours before even being processed. Some people were held for up to 12 hours before even being allowed a phone call to a solicitor. Their crime? to have ridden a bike as they do every Friday in an event protected by a House of Lords ruling. Terrorists and murderers do not get held in such a manner, let alone those whose crime was simply riding a bike. Woe betide anyone who denied animals food and drink or toilet facilities for so long.

    Now, on their website, Liberty have the following statement on the front page

    In the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics, Liberty has warned of the impact on civil liberties.
    As the Games get underway we urge a common-sense and light touch approach to policing and the enforcement of Olympic regulations.

    Now, whilst Shami Chakrabati was brown nosing the IOC and the powers that be, the civil liberties of a group of cyclists was being denied their liberties and any dissention was treated in a way the Chinese authorities restrained from doing in 2008 @ the Beijing Olympics. What have been the response of Liberty since the events of Friday night? Yes, you’ve guessed it, not a word from Liberty at all. Seems like brown nosing is far more important to Liberty’s Director than actually fighting for the rights that Liberty are supposed to defence. A shameful dereliction of duty.

    This all reflects badly on the UK and makes it clear that the Olympics are simply about corporate greed and political image. All dissent must be crushed.


    Incidentally, not a single person arrested has been charged so far in connection with the critical mass ride on Friday. They have all been bailed to return to a police station on a date after the Olympics and Paralympics have finished, when no doubt they will be told no further action will be taken – how convenient….

    They have all been bailed on the following conditions

    • Not to go within 100 yards of any Olympic venue
    • Not to enter any Olympic-only carriageway, unless that carriageway is open to all traffic at the specific time
    • No to enter the Borough of Newham whilst in possession of a bicycle
    • Not to take part in any activity that disrupts the intended or anticipated official activities of the Olympic games

    Now, if that had been me, those conditions would prevent me from getting to work as I would either have to cycle through Newham to get to work or if I go by public transport, I would pass within 100 yards of of numerous Olympic venues. If you were arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving in your car, the police would not impose conditions on your bail whilst investigating the incident. However, ride a bike peacefully in London and this happens even before you have been charged with any offence, let alone be convicted of any offence.

    Remember these are supposed to be the greenest Olympics, and cyclists were used as part of the opening ceremony  as an art form, but use a bike as transport for commuting or leisure and you are treated like scum by that affront to justice from the Metropolitan Police on Friday night


    PS The spell check on this computer obviously isn’t stupid, it suggested SHAMI (as in Shami Chakrabati) should be replaced by SHAME. Very appropriate.

    Olympic Chaos–Day 1


    Well today marked the start of the London 2012 Corrupt Olympic Games. This afternoon saw the Great British Ladies team beat New Zealand 1-0 before a near full house of 38,000 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Yes, you read correctly that it was a near capacity crowd of 38,000 in a stadium that holds nearer to 80,000 normally. Its only in the world of Olympic double speak that a 38,000 crowd in an 80,000 seater stadium could be called a near capacity crowd. Strange that on the night despite claims of 38,000 tickets having been sold, the attendance was only 24,000. The authorities been lying? surely not?

    As ticket sales were so poor for the Olympic football, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) decided to close of parts of the football stadiums and call the reduced space the capacity of the ground. I wonder if the Mackems and Middlesbrough will be using the same approach in future season to increase their claims of the % of their ground filled each week.

    A later  game of the Olympic Women’s football proved just how incompetent the LOCOG and the IOC are. Before the game between NORTH Korea and Colombia started, video images were apparently being sown on the stadium screens. Except instead of showing the NORTH Korean flag when showing the pictures of their players, they showed the SOUTH Korean flag. Given the history of these 2 nations and the current animosity between the 2, a bigger insult could  not have been made. The BBC reports the story here. £9.4 BILLION pounds of taxpayers money and they still can’t tell 2 warring countries apart – its quite incredible. Wonder if they will blame this on G4S as well.

    Well, on a more personal level, today saw the opening of the Fat /corrupt Bribe Payers Lanes on the road, aka The Games Lanes. They became effective at 06:00 this morning and immediately caused chaos. I cycled to work this morning as per usual, but within the first 5 miles I ended up having to ride on the pavement in some stretches to get round the chaos and traffic jams caused by the Zil lanes and the re timed traffic lights. This was before I even got to where the lanes actually started.

    Once in Stratford, it was interesting to see the Zil lanes in operation. When I say in operation, I mean completely empty and being unused whilst traffic in the other lane( s ) remained gridlocked. A great waste of time and money as people are stuck in gridlock trying to get to work. The threat of £130 fines each time they go into the lane, enforced by CCTV and fines sent by post seems to be a deterrent.

    What was interesting though was that although the bus lanes have been suspended where the zil lanes are in operation (and there are signs everywhere stating this), the motorists did not stray into the former bus lanes. This was good as it enabled me to make progress to work. Getting nearer to work, I was forced to turn off the Embankment, as right turns are banned, and head over Southwark Bridge to the south side of the river and follow the road there along to Waterloo Bridge where I crossed back to the proper side of the river and headed via Aldwych to my work. Arriving at work, I had a damn good scrub in the shower, and used bleach to try and get rid of the dirty feeling from being in that unclean horrid place known as south of the river. Its cruel ad unusual punishment forcing people south of the river.

    Tonight, coming home, I decided to adopt a different approach to my travel. As in most places where the Zil Lanes are in places, the cycle lanes have been removed, I took the view that for my safety, rather than having near passes from motor vehicles and being forced ride in the gutter, my safety would be better served by riding in that expanse of tarmac with no motor vehicles using it – yes, the zil lanes. It was great to ride in empty lanes past all those poor motorists snarled up and unable to go anywhere owing.

    So today, I have breached the Olympic rules by using the Olympic logo and words like London 2012 etc. in this blog and have ridden on the pavement, ignored red lights and ridden in zil lanes. I’ll be expecting a 0500 knock from the Olympic Nazis and taken off to the Olympic version of Guantanamo Bay. If I stop blogging, you know why!

    On a personal note, its great to have Michelle, Josh, her parents and the dogs staying at mine. Its a highlight of my summer to have them here to stay. Not just because they have cleaned my house, cut the grass and tidied up the garden. Not only that, but I’ve had great food prepared and ready when I get home from work. I’m looking forward to Friday and the weekend to spend more time with them all.

    Reasons to Protest At The London 2012Olympics


    But it doesn’t. The Olympic Marathon had its route moved to Pall Mall because Tower Hamlets, the poorest borough in London, doesn’t quite make the right impression.


    It depends. Not people affected by the Games – only 25% of the Olympics workforce are from the five Olympic boroughs. However, Atos Origin, who run the volunteering scheme, are generating colossal profits from contracts. They’re less charitable to their workforce, who won’t get a penny for their time and energy.


    When the Athletes’ Village is turned into homes it will become part of the Stratford City development, now wholly owned by Westfield (after they bought out the other shareholders). Residents can look forward to having their environment controlled at the whim of a corporation whose reason for being is to sell stuff. Local business doesn’t really stand a chance in the long run.


    Yes, if you can afford them! The rest of the site which is being given over to homes will be developed by the Mayoral Development Company, Olympic Park Legacy Company. They promise 11,000 new homes, and 35% of them will be affordable. Only 675 of them will be social housing though, so if you’re on the list in Newham get ready to wait. The average wait is around 10 years.

    Previous Olympic cities, like Barcelona, Sydney and Seoul, have seen huge rises in property prices, forcing local families out of their neighbourhoods. This is already happening in London and thanks to confidentially agreements with the London Organising Committee of the Olympics and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) you won’t hear about it in the media.


    Well, not quite. Huge swathes of London roads will become dedicated ‘VIP lanes’ during the Games. Thousands will struggle to get to work for the whole 10 weeks. There has been little word on how much the public will have to pay in fare increases in future years.

    The DLR extension is finished but the new (old) platforms at Stratford International have been rebuilt out of wood. The cable car (officially the Emirates Air Line) that goes from not-quite-the-o2 to not-quite-the-ExCeL centre has beenfinished by the time the games happen. However, it broke down today after less than a month in operation. But at least it’s only costing the taxpayer £24million in exchange for Emirates to get their logo on tube maps for the next decade


    Well, yes, they are sending in the army and putting missiles on top of peoples’ homes, then forgetting to guard them. You’ll be monitored the whole time by hundreds of security personnel, CCTV and flying drones developed for use in Afghanistan. Stratford is set to be the guinea pig for yet more oppressive surveillance tactics. Studies show that CCTV does little to reduce crime, but a lot to create a climate of fear.

    The police also have a new temporary police station built on Wanstead Flats. Although planning permission was only sought for a temporary structure, it has been constructed as a permanent building – stealing a large chunk of public green space enjoyed by local residents for centuries.


    Not quite. The Olympic Park is built on a former landfill site. Excavations have disturbed buried toxic chemicals, spreading them into the land. Radioactive thorium from an old watch factory has also seeped into the water table. DOW Chemical, the company that bought Union Carbide (responsible for the as yet to be cleaned up Bhopal disaster) are major sponsors. Plus BP is the Olympics official sustainability partner. Their involvement in the Tar Sands is a glowing indicator of their lack of commitment to ecological sustainability and social justice.


    Well it is quite an investment. £9.3bn, according to the Olympics Quarterly Economic Report in May 2011. The original estimate in 2005? £2.4bn according to the Labour government. The most recent figure doesn’t include costs associated with the acquisition of land, remediation, government departments and quango spending. 10% of the cost for the Olympics will come from Londoners’ taxes and 67% from national taxes.


    Well it will certainly be promoting many things through its corporate sponsorship deals. LOCOG are interested in protecting their benevolent sponsors but seem to have little interest in anyone else’s freedom of speech or expression, even handing out ASBO’s to anyone opposing the games. Their crack team of branding Police will be enforcing laws expecially drawn up for the olympics which are far more stringent than any other trademark or intellectual property law. With everything from an "Official chocolate bar of the Olympic Games" through to banning anyone using the words "olympics’, "2012", "Summer Games" "Twenty Twelve" and many more, the games is more than anything an experiment in extending corporate control of social life.


    It will but the International Olympics Committee isn’t only interested in inspiring future athletes. It’s going for the gold and hoping to inspire as many people as possible to buy more stuff.

    It’s not quite clear what kind of future taxpayers are being asked to invest in. It seems to be one that favours a particular London vista – Pall Mall, oppression, privatization and the erosion of public space.




    The above is taken from the website of the Space Hijackers

    The Greenest Olympics–London 2012

    Well its nearly time for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.  Now, those who are alert will realise that I have already broken the law in the post.

    How? I hear you ask. Well believe it or not, it is a criminal offence to use the word “London” combined with “2012”  to promote your brand or product. Parliament  some years ago passed legislation to ban people using all sorts of words and phrases. So, I can’t tell you I will be working in London in 2012!

    Well – come prosecute me then.

    At 06:00 on Wednesday morning, the Olympic Zil Lanes become effective. What are the Zil Lanes you ask? Well as you know the Olympics are taking place in Stratford in East London and all the athletes are being housed there. However, the Olympic Village is not plush enough for the fat cats who belong to the most corrupt organisation I know- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) – they are even more corrupt than FIFA!

    Take for example – the following from the BBC Website


    The Salt Lake City bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics blew the lid on systematic malpractice within the IOC.

    An internal enquiry, launched after revelations from long-serving IOC member Marc Hodler, found clear evidence that up to 20 of the 110 IOC members had been bribed to vote for Salt Lake.

    Some had allowed the Salt Lake organisers to pay for their family holidays, others had jobs or university places found for their relatives.

    First-class travel was paid for and lavish gifts were the norm. One member’s wife was given free cosmetic surgery.

    There were clearly stated rules governing visits by IOC members to bidding cities, but they were widely disregarded, and there was little enforcement.

    Thirteen IOC members lost their positions in the investigations that followed.


    Hodler also said rules were broken in the bidding process for at least three other Olympic host cities over the 10 previous years – Atlanta, Nagano and Sydney.

    Hodler said claims or evidence of corruption hadn’t surfaced before because losing cities usually wanted to bid again, and didn’t want to rule out their chances by making enemies.

    Andrew Jennings, author of ‘Lords of the Rings – Olympic Corruption’, has been involved in several award-winning investigations into the IOC.

    Of the bidding process for the 1998 Winter Olympics, he wrote, "The best technical bid was clearly Salt Lake City.

    "They had everything in place…a vast convention and press centre; a 50,000-seat Olympic stadium; an Olympic village for 4,000 athletes and all the ski venues.

    "Nagano, however, was awarded the Games even though their facilities were hardly developed.

    "Frustrated by the process, the Salt Lake City team decided to play the game and doled out somewhere between an estimated $3-7m in favours."


    The wrong-doings have not been limited to minor IOC members.

    Kim Un-yong

    IOC vice-president Kim Un-yong was jailed for corruption

    Earlier this year, IOC vice-president Kim Un-Yong was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail on corruption charges.

    He was found guilty by a South Korean court of embezzling more than $3m from sports organisations he controlled, and accepting $700,000 in bribes.

    Kim was a dominant figure in Korean sport for more than three decades, promoting the martial art of taekwondo overseas and helping it gain recognition as a full Olympic sport.

    He was also credited with helping win the Seoul Olympics for South Korea in 1988 and was implicated in the Salt Lake scandal.

    The IOC executive board stripped Mr Kim of all his Olympic duties because of investigations by South Korean authorities and the IOC ethics commission.

    He was found guilty of embezzling money while serving as chairman of local and international taekwondo federations.

    The court also found him guilty of accepting bribes from businessmen who wanted to serve on sports committees.


    Juan Antonio Samaranch, leader of the IOC from 1980 to 2001, was accused by critics like Jennings of running the organisation like a private kingdom, of ignoring corruption within the IOC and of the blatant commercialism of the Games themselves.

    Samaranch, who reportedly insisted on being referred to as "your Excellency", earlier served as part of Franco’s dictatorship in Spain.


    Bribery was not limited to the bidding process for Olympic cities.

    At the 1988 Games in Seoul, American Roy Jones Jr came up against South Korean Park Si-hun in the fight to decide the welterweight gold medal.

    Jones dominated the fight, landing more than two punches for every one he took, and was almost universally declared to be the clear winner.

    But the judges ruled differently, giving gold to the Korean to the astonishment of neutral observers ringside.

    Jennings subsequently uncovered a report in the archives of the Stasi, the former East German secret police, by Karl-Heinz Wehr, a Stasi agent and former general secretary of the International Amateur Boxing Federation.

    Wehr said a Korean millionaire bribed senior boxing federation officials to rig fights in favour of Koreans.

    Morocco’s Hiouad Larbi, a judge in the Jones fight, admitted to newspaper reporters that he had falsified his scorecard.

    "The Olympics as a child really inspired me," said Jones.

    "It gave me something to reach for, it gave me a dream. And then the Olympics shattered my dream."

    Those fat corrupt officials and their corporate bribe payers sponsors want to spend the Olympics in the poshest hotels in Central London rather than near the Olympic Park.

    So what? you may say. Well there are several things. Firstly, who do you think is paying for the penthouse suites in these very expensive hotels? Do you think the ‘president of the IOC is paying out of his own pocket for his suite at the Park Lane Hilton? No, but perhaps the IOC are paying for the rooms? Fat chance, its being paid for by you and I out of our taxes. Why are we paying this? I wish I could tell you.

    Then there is the issue of the Zil Lanes. These are a condition of the awarding of the Olympics to any city. These are 30 miles of road exclusively for the use of the “Olympic Family” These consist of 2/3 of the road space on many of the busiest roads in London, e.g. The Embankment, Kingsway, Aldwych, The A13 etc. These lanes on already over crowded roads are taking the space from people trying to get to/ from work or people trying to do their work. Not only are these lanes in place, but most of the pedestrian crossings and junctions have been closed, so for example there are no right turns allowed for over 2 miles when heading west on the Embankment. This is enforced by actually blocking off the junctions to prevent turns. Woe betide any pedestrian who thinks they may cross the road, there are miles of barriers to prevent people daring to cross the road lest they slow up those cars in the Zil Lane carrying the members of the “Olympic Family”.

    Now, talking of the Olympic Family, who d o you think they are? Athletes, coaches? Well they are all staying at the Olympic village , so its not them. No, the Olympic Family are those corrupt IOC officials AND the guests of the corporate bribe payers sponsors. Pardon the language, but WTF are we doing crippling London’s traffic and with it the economy of London for these corporate freeloaders?

    “The Olympics will bring money into London” I hear you say. “They will bring lots of extra tourists”. Well, I hate to say this but that is complete tosh. There are noticeably less tourists in Central London during the day this year than previous years. Hotel bookings are way down in London than in previous years. So, it seems the tourists are not bringing money to London.

    Green Olympics I said in the title. Well We are repeatedly told this is to be the Greenest Olympics ever. Clearly, the removal of cycle lanes across central and eastern London and the closing of off road commuter cycle routes is all part of the green strategy as is the inevitable increasing of congestion by reserving up to 2/3rds of the road space for the corporate freeloaders.

    The inevitable extra pressures on road space, the introduction of lots of extra lanes closed to ordinary traffic, the banning of turns in many places and the removal of cycle lanes and safe crossing points will also lead to an inevitable increase in accidents in London and with it an increase in fatalities.

    Is having the Olympics really worth this? I can’t see any benefits in the long term for London.


    A group of which I am aware known as “Space hijackers” have been confirmed as official protestors of the London 2012 Olympics

    23 May 2012

    Locog: The unelected body in charge of the 2012 Olympic Games

    confirm our status as official Protesters!

    We are pleased to announce that on Wednesday 23rd May, we received official recognition from Locog that we are the "Official Protesters Of The London 2012 Olympic Games".

    In a bold and daring move Locog contacted twitter demanding that due to "Brand Affiliation" Twitter should immediately close our account. Twitter, the beacon of free speech which so vocally lent its support to the Arab Spring did, of course, what everyone expected and immediately kowtowed to the interests of big money and business. We, The Official Protesters, were immediately locked out of our account, losing access to thousands of followers, in a move designed to silence our dissent.

    Locog of course realised the benefit such a move would have to our fledgling campaign, as within minutes twitter exploded in support of us. No sooner were we off air than the phones and emails started flooding in. In a classic case of the Streisand effect, before we knew it articles were popping up in newspapers and blogs across the globe:

    The Guardian

    "Agent Bristly Pioneer also described the logo as a "social meme" that had become part of the London landscape. However, despite its ubiquitous presence, he said, it could not be used by ordinary people. "It’s like Voldemort – you’re not allowed to mention it otherwise you’ll invoke the wrath of Locog."


    Wired Magazine

    "The Space Hijackers, a group of anti-capitalist activists, launched a spoof "Official" Protesters of the London Olympic Games site in April. It’s intended as lampooning the fact that the Games seems to have an official tie-in product of every description — from chocolate bars to toothbrushes."


    Tech Eye

    "Twitter has bowed to pressure from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, or LOCOG, to shut down the Space Hijackers account."


    The Telegraph

    "it’s basically about a balance of commercial interest and freedom of speech and expression. We are not happy about this suspension."


    The Index On Censorship

    "One can only conclude that this is an act of petty, vindictive censorship, hardly in the spirit of plurality and inclusiveness the Olympics is supposed to promote."


    The Hollywood Reporter

    "London 2012 organizers complained about an activist group’s parody that used the trademark"


    The Drum

    "Commenting on the move Robin Grant, global managing director of the agency, said: “I’m shocked Twitter kowtowed to LOCOG by suspending the @space hijackers account. It’s good news that they’ve since relented, but bad news that @space hijackers has been forced to remove their parody ‘the Official Protesters of the London 2012 Olympic Games’ branding. "


    Media Bistro


    Occu World




    The Londonist


    The Daily Caller

    "…the event has become “a big corporate party” that most regular people are not taking part in"


    Malaysia Sun


    Wales Online


    Visits to our official protest site www.protestlondon2012.com went through the roof and we saw dozens of Twitter users change their avatar to our anarchist coloured version of the Olympic logo in support.

    Eventually after tense negotiations Twitter allowed us access back to our account, along with the hundreds of new followers that we had gained.

    We would like to thank Locog and the IOC for this official recognition and look forward to working with them to facilitate further protest in the future.

    Read more on the Space Hijackers at http://www.spacehijackers.org/

    Now, some of you may wonder at the tone of what I have posted here. I stand by every word I have said and defy the IOC to sue me if anything I have said is untrue or defamatory. However, I’m not sure it is possible to defame as corrupt an Organisation as the IOC or its members.

    Parent’s Tell the Truth?

    Well this weekend brought a bit of a role reversal for me. Instead of my parents looking after me and taking me out places on a weekend, they came down to my house for the weekend. It was my turn to look after them.

    I believe it was over 10 years since my parents had stayed down here at my house. The big bad city is too much to take for those from the sticks. The idea of electricity and running water is a frightening prospect!

    I’m being a bit unfair as they have been down to London in the last 10 years but just not stayed at my house when down here. Apparently Chez Spen doesn’t have enough stars for their liking. I think they are wrong, this place has at least 8 stars, and you can see them through the hole in the  roof above the bed in the spare bedroom. Even so, its warmer and more welcoming than my old place in Northampton that had a tendency to get flooded. Still, Northampton did provide some good memories.

    So, those days out at weekends in the past when my parents took us up the Northumberland coast, or to Witton Le Wear or wherever are reversed and it was up to me to entertain the old folks.

    Friday afternoon brought them heading down to London on the train and I met them off the train at Kings Cross to escort them to my home. Now I thought I’d cycle to work and collect my bike on Sunday when I dropped off my parents at Kings Cross – all sounds good doesn’t it? Well read on about this….

    So,  my parents arrived on time at Kings Cross. I think they were a little shocked to realise that the train wasn’t steam hauled. Anyway, we made our way round to Ilford and my home. We just had time for a quick wash and brush up before friends of theirs were coming round to see them and go out for a meal together. Tony & his wife Dianne are people my parents know through cycling. My dad and Tony met cycling for Great Britain in the Peace Race between Warsaw, Berlin & Prague. Tony and his wife live down near me, but  rarely get to meet up with my parents these days, so it seemed an ideal chance to meet up.

    Tony is still racing and was heading off that night to Maidstone and an early start from their for 2 days racing in Belgium. Living in the South East means it is relatively easy to find a race for his age group either in this area or a short hop away in Belgium or France. Sadly not something available to those living like my dad in the North East – see dad, I told you the South East has some plus points…..

    We went to a local pub that has a reputation for good steaks. The Dick Turpin pub named after one of the most famous locals. I have to say that both the food and the service was excellent. A place to visit again. Its several years since I had been there and I would hope its not so long till next time I dine there. Guess where we’re going Michelle?


    Whilst the 2 former team mates reminisced, I got the job of entertaining the ladies.


    Saturday was a bit of a wash out weather wise. We had planned to go up to Central London via Greenwich ending up in Green Park so my dad could see the Bomber Command memorial. Sadly the weather meant this was not going to happen. The rain was torrential all morning. It was so bad that we didn’t leave the house until lunchtime.

    Re- arranged plans were to pop to Tesco’s to get some milk and so I could visit the opticians. Simple enough you’d have thought, and so did I. As we walked into the store, there was some water on the floor. The roof leaking? Customers dripping water into the store? No, it was sewage from the drains flooding the store from the Tesco Direct section of the store. By the time we had got a coffee in the Cafe, the store was being closed and customers were having to leave via an emergency exit as the main door area was now under several inches of sewage.I’ve always thought that Tesco was a sh*t store and it seems that I have been proved correct.

    So from Tesco we went to Wickes so I could get some supports to fix the stairs and stop or reduce the risk of people falling through the broken step. Then we went to Aldi near Romford, or attempted to go there, but it was closed due to flooding. So we headed home via PC World and the several sections of flooding on the main A12. Its amazing to see what problems a morning’s rain can cause to the region, whether buildings or roads. Despite all these problems, the river behind the house came no where near to bursting its banks.

    The rain eased off on Saturday night, so after an afternoon watching the Tour de France, we headed out for dinner. Now, I should point out that I had cooked a meal for us all, but my folks would prefer not to eat my cooking. I’m mortally offended Winking smile, or to put it another way, I’ve got my lunch for the week sorted now Open-mouthed smile

    Before heading out for dinner, we had a bottle of champagne and my father had a smashing time, accidentally breaking a champagne flute in an unfortunate accident. Not to be out done, my mother managed to permanently stain one of my cushions. Not a little stain, but a large 3” diameter red/ black stain 9n a white cushion. How? No idea.

    It did however fulfil a promise my parents always used to make when I was a child. Back then, if anything ever got broken in their home by me, they would say that when I was older and had my own place that they would come round to it and trash my home and possessions. It may have taken them many years to get round to it, but they can always be trusted to stick to their word. Now, I should be fair and say the champagne glasses cost me nothing and the cushion cost £2 so the value of the damage is minimal.

    Actually, we went to a restaurant I’ve been to once before. Its a great Thai restaurant called the Elephant Royale in nearby Gants Hill. The food here may be pricey, but it is excellent quality. I cannot recommend it enough. (Michelle, if I can save up the money, I’ll take you there)!)

    Sunday brought much better weather, so I took my parents sightseeing. We went down to Greenwich and the Naval College and Market, before heading up into Central London to go to the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park. We parked in St James’ Park area and walked through St James’s Park and Green Park to the Bomber Command Memorial. Sadly St James’ Park and The Mall are a bit of a mess at present with Olympic Preparations. The Bomber Command Memorial however was worth the trip. It is a memorial to the 55,573 people who gave their lives in World War 2 for our safety and freedom.


    A long over due memorial to the bravery of these men.

    On the roundabout nearby at Hyde Park Corner there are memorials to all the Australian and New Zealand troops who fought in WW2. Of course, there is also the Wellington Arch and Statue to one of the greatest ever Britain’s, The Duke of Wellington.

    Also there was the following memorial, now looking weather worn, but no less moving


    Within a few hundred feet, there are all these memorials reminding us of those who within the last 100 years fought and died for our freedom. Let us never forget them

    With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,

    England mourns for her dead across the sea.

    Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,

    Fallen in the cause of the free.

    Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal

    Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,

    There is music in the midst of desolation

    And a glory that shines upon our tears.

    They went with songs to the battle, they were young,

    Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.

    They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;

    They fell with their faces to the foe.

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

    At the going down of the sun and in the morning

    We will remember them.

    They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;

    They sit no more at familiar tables of home;

    They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;

    They sleep beyond England’s foam.

    But where our desires are and our hopes profound,

    Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,

    To the innermost heart of their own land they are known

    As the stars are known to the Night;

    As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,

    Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;

    As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,

    To the end, to the end, they remain

      Next it was onto Covent Garden for dinner and then to my work to collect my bike and being efficient and organised, I brought in shirts and underwear for the week ahead. See, I can be organised and efficient. I then took my parents to Kings Cross and said a fond farewell to them. It was far too short a visit.

      Today, I was up and cycled into work. So, after my shower I put on my nice clean shirt and underwear, then realised my trousers were left at home – not to worry I had a spare pair at work. Sadly, the same could not be said for my shoes, jacket and belt that were all taken home on Friday when I met my parents. Organised and efficient? Not me.

      So, what have I learned this weekend?


  • We should never forget the sacrifices made by our troops in the last 2 World Wars and all the other conflicts, including Afghanistan, Iraq and 30 years ago in the Falklands.

  • My local Tesco’s store really  is a sh*t store

  • There are some good places to eat round here

  • My parents are true to their word – even if it takes them over 30 years to make it happen

  • I don’t get to see enough of my parents

  • I couldn’t be efficient and organised no matter how much I try.

  • Its now only a couple of days until Michelle, Josh and the dogs are coming to stay for a few weeks, and her parents are coming for a few days as well. Can’t wait for that.


    Finally, if my parents are reading this, use your railcards and book another trip back down here ASAP. I’d love to see you down here again.

    Stupidity & Madness Part 2

    Sadly, its not another  blog about the Nutty Boys from North London. This time the madness and stupidity is all my own doing.

    So, I got back to London on Monday and went to work. When I arrived home – after falling asleep on the train on the way home from work! D’oh! – I had to fettle my fixed wheel bike. I’ve not ridden it for a while and my touring bike/ commuting bike is in the shop for repairs. I sorted out what needed doing to it, mainly fixing a puncture and putting pump etc. on bike.

    First problem – I couldn’t get the tyre off the rim. Have you seen tyre levers being pinged across the room and heard some great Anglo Saxon language. Its a fact that lots of cursing and swearing assists the job.

    Eventually the tyre was off the rim, but it was badly cut and worn and needed replacing. I knew I had a replacement tyre for that bike. The problem was that I didn’t know where it was. I never realised there were so many places one could look for a tyre in a house. I eventually found the new tyre and was able to fit it without having to resort to cursing.

    Tuesday morning, up early and ready to go to work. Well, I would be if I could find my cycling shoes. Que lots of cursing and hunting before they were found. Next get my Garmin GPS device and fit that. No problems in finding it as I knew exactly where it was. What I hadn’t done was to charge it though – D’oh a flat GPS is not much use.

    Still, I had tome to charge the GPS whilst I tried to find where I had put my heart rate monitor. I remembered that I had carefully put it somewhere safe on Thursday night. All I had to do was remember where that was. The remaining few brain cells didn’t want to co-operate, so once again it was search the house time. [Note to self – it would be quicker and easier to search once for everything missing]. This time I was unable to find the HRM, so gave that up as a bad job.

    All that was needed know was to put on my cycling top. Oh no, another item I can’t find. It will be with the folded washing waiting to be hung up I hope – no its not. It was still in the washing machine unwashed from last week. It was nearly able to ride the bike to work on its own.

    So, eventually I was able to set off for work. I got 150 yards down the street and remembered I needed to take my work pass, so it was time to return home and get it.

    I did eventually manage to get to work, but when getting dressed after my shower at work, I realised I had forgotten my deodorant. Good job my colleague was there and lent me his. Then when putting on my socks, I managed to split one of them in to two pieces.

    I started to think I should have stayed in bed.

    Talking of bed, I woke up Wednesday morning and could hear the wind blowing.I laid there debating whether I would cycle to work in strong winds and after 5 mins or so decided I would not risk riding in the strong winds. After deciding my safety is more important and that by not cycling I could have 5 more minutes in bed, I suddenly realised that wind noise was the bedroom fan that I had put on last night to keep me cool! D’oh!

    I won’t mention my trying to cook jacket potatoes in the oven I had not turned on.

    I think the senility is setting in early! Am I too young to be going senile?

    Now one final thought, you may be wondering why I am suddenly blogging again. Well the explanation for this post is simple. Michelle is coming down for the weekend, and I am supposed to be decontaminating the house before she arrives with her white inspection gloves. So, its obvious that blogging is a great distraction from cleaning!

    Stupidity or Madness

    Well, this weekend, I’ve travelled over 800 miles by train and by car since leaving work on Friday night. Nothing like a relaxing weekend I hear you say and it was certainly nothing like relaxing. However, it was worth it.

    Friday night, I got the train to Newcastle from Kings Cross and then onto the local train to see Michelle. That part of the trip is always worth it.

    Saturday, brought a trip over to Gateshead to collect Michelle’s eldest son who had kindly agreed to look after her youngest son and the dogs whilst we drove down to Doncaster to the races there. We were staying in Barnsley where we met some friends and of course my son Tom.

    Last weekend, Michelle and I had been to the racecourse in York for a cycling touring club event. On the way back, we went into a lovely little village/ town called Boroughbridge. The river there had burst its banks and was quite spectacular.




    So, after the “apocalyptical rain storms” on /Thursday, we wondered how much worse the river and flooding would be this weekend. We went to the same spot in Boroughbridge as last week, expecting to find houses under water and roads blocked. Instead we found this…


    Yes, the river had retreated  considerably and was some 10-15 feet lower than the pervious week. Not what we were expecting!

    Anyway, onwards with our trip, and we were fortunate enough to take part in the highlight of the week for residents of Boroughbridge, the queuing up for petrol at Morrison’s’ petrol station. It seems it is a quaint local tradition that everyone parks their cars near the petrol pumps and takes as long as possible to fill up their cars. Even better if you can block access to a free pump with your car, without bothering to move to the pump yourself. Anyway, we eventually got some fuel and drove to Barnsley, checked into our Spa Hotel. I then took Michelle to the venue for meeting our friends, the local Workingmen’s Club (WMC)! no expense spared by me for Michelle’s benefit. I have to admit to feeling a twinge of guilt at taking her to a WMC when she looked so good all glammed up for the races.

    Now, I know that you are probably thinking that I’m not into horse racing or gambling, so why was I going to the races? Well the reason I was there was to see


    Yes, after the race meeting, Madness were to perform on a specially constructed stage. We arrived at the Races by 4:30pm just in time to see Madness who were due on stage at 9:15pm. So, what do we do in the meantime.? Yes – you’ve guessed it – drink!

    We started off with a couple of bottles of beer before it was time to start on the Pimms. The idea was we’d share a pitcher between two, but I’d invite you to examine the photographic evidence


    Lets start with this randomly selected couple who buy a pitcher to share. Whilst the male (lets call him John – names changed to protect people’s identities) finishes his bottle of beer, the female (lets call her Sue) finishes her bottle of beer and drinks the whole pitcher of Pimms herself


    Now, this couple seem to have got it better. They are apparently sharing a pitcher of Pimms. However, in  the following picture notice what the female does when the male’s attention is distracted


    Yes, as soon as the male’s attention is turned, she drinks all the Pimms.

    The morals of these pictures is:

    1. Woman have drink problems

    2. Women will rip their partners off and steal their drinks

    So, with  my alcohol stolen, I was persuaded to have a bet on a horse in a race. I put my money on a horse in the 6pm race on Saturday. I’m still waiting for it to finish and its now Monday! I should have known better than to back a horse called “Striding Snail”

    Well, I think they called off the search for my horse when Madness came on stage.

    A great 90 minute set by the Nutty Boys. Lynn managed to walk around in odd shoes- one size 1 and one size 6 and with a height difference of 3”. I’m not suggesting she was drunk but…….. For those who have never seen Madness live, you don’t know what you have missed. They are great live- well worth seeing. In fact they even manage to get me dancing – or was that just swaying with the drink.

    After the gig, we ended up back with Matt & Lynn at their house devouring a veritable takeaway feast – well Michelle did and I just had a carrot stick and piece of celery as I’m watching my figure.

    Back to the hotel and we crashed out immediately we hit the bed. Drunk ( well Michelle was!) happy and tired.

    A good night out and one I’d like to repeat again – thanks to all who were with us, Sue &John, Matt & Lynn and of course Tom.

    Got to give a special mention to Stewie for being there. Sadly we did not meet up with Dave with whom Stewie was staying and the other Doncaster Mags who were there.

    Sunday brought a return home after a stop for the diet breakfast with an extra side of chips at Morrison’s at Boroughbridge. Then of course once back home Michelle did us proud with a great Sunday roast dinner before time for a snooze. Then up early this morning to drive into Newcastle for the 0700 train back to London. (Thanks Michelle for getting up at stupid o’clock to take me to the station – you’re a star)

    So, all that travelling – stupidity or Madness

    PS Michelle, re this post, “Am I in trouble later?”

    PPS If anyone sees my  racehorse looking lost in Doncaster, can you tell it the race is over!

    Darlington, Portsmouth& Glasgow Rangers Football Clubs & Your Home Being Repossessed

    Driving in my car this morning, the radio was reporting news of a problem in the banking industry. Initially I was not paying much attention to the story, thinking it was more about the story from yesterday  involving Barclays being fined £290m for fraudulently manipulating the LIBOR rates. Then I realised that, no, this was another story about the banks miss selling SWAPS to small businesses and that thy were going to have to repay compensation exceeding that they have had to pay out over miss sold Payment Protection Insurance (PPI).


    I’ve not even mentioned yet the position of the banks in the economic downturn.


    It struck me that something is very wrong in the world of banking and it is time to face a few truths. So, where do we start to look at the problems in the banking system and is it just a banking problem at all?


    Lets start by turning the clock back to the 1980s and the deregulation of the banks – the so called big bang in 1986 allowed the financial services sector much more freedom from state control. This is turn led to the rise of the Yuppie – remember them. Making money was what it was all about. Greed was good as Gordon Gecko said.


    This self regulation and freedom from proper, stringent regulation allowed the chasing of profit to be the only thing people cared about in the financial services sector. Currency/ FX and other trader were feted as being some sort of hero with their multi million pound bonuses.


    Well those bonuses had to come from somewhere. It seems the banks didn’t care where the money came from as long as it came in. The shareholders got their dividends and the staff got their bonuses. What else mattered? Sadly, it seems that to those with their troughs in the snout nothing else did matter.


    One of the first signs that things were not all rosy in the financial sector came with the miss selling of endowment policies. These were monthly investment policies which we were told would pay off our mortgages and leave us with a surplus. However, the projections supporting the sale of such policies were based on the mega high inflation of the late 1970s and early 1980s. This was not reflective of interest rates over time and there was no reason to believe that these rates would continue.


    Banks got caught out after the PPI miss selling scandal broke. It became clear that banks and other financial institutions were selling  PPI alongside loans and convincing people these were necessary, or even essential to take out. Often they were sold to people who could not benefit from the insurance police – e.g. self employed people. Eventually, the banks have had to compensate people who were miss-sold such products.


    Then we have the miss selling of pension products… the lending policies that resulted eventually in the bubble bursting across the world and the current recession starting.


    Since then, just this week, we have the news of Barclays being fined and others being investigated for fraudulently manipulating lending rates to their own benefit to boost profits etc. Then today the miss selling of products to small businesses that I referred to above.


    So, what is being done about it? Well as the BBC reports….

    Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King has called for a change in the banking culture, saying that customers have received "shoddy" treatment.

    He added that bank leaders had "let down" the many honest and hard working people in the financial sector.

    Sir Mervyn’s comments come on the day banks were found to have miss-sold financial products to small businesses.

    It is the third major scandal this year, following manipulation of lending rates and loan insurance miss-selling


    … The Governor of the Bank of England is calling for changes in the banking culture. Well, forgive me for being cynical, but as Governor of the Bank of England throughout this whole sorry mess, shouldn’t he have been ensuring this did not happen. The blame for a lot of this can be put solely down to sloppy/ bad or even shoddy practices whilst on his watch. Its too little too late Mr King from you.


    So, you’ll probably be thinking that I am of the view that all the problems in the world are down to the banks. Well, if so, you would be mistaken. I do not blame the banks anymore than I blame you or the person next  to you.


    You are probably wondering what the football clubs in the title have to do with the above words. Well, all 3 football clubs got into financial trouble as a result of their greed and overspending. Portsmouth… well, where does one start. They have been into administration nearly as frequently as Darlington. Glasgow Rangers were illegally not paying the tax on the wages they paid their players, never mind the tax schemes they came up with to avoid tax.


    In the same way that bankers were greedy, so to were the fans of these clubs, the players and more especially the owners of the clubs. They spent money they did not have, in some cases to pay bribes (bungs) to get players to join/ stay at their clubs. Why? because they wanted to get their club to a higher level by any means possible – in another word- greed.


    The lot of many  (not all) people who find themselves having their house possessed is for the same reason, greed. They either bought houses bigger than they could afford or they spent their money on themselves instead of saving for a rainy day.


    People have changed since say the 1970s. Back then people saved up to get a deposit for a house. This involved making sacrifices, living with parents, not having wild nights out etc. Back then far more people were prepared to live in rented accommodation. It wasn’t seen by people as essential to buy a house.


    I watched an interview on a local news programme not so long ago when a female was complaining that her and her partner could not afford to save the deposit for a house and that the Government should help them. What was special about this interview? Well, the lady was drinking in a very trendy ( and no doubt expensive) wine bar and wearing designer clothing. Clearly she was having a good time- and why not. However, if she chooses to spend her money going out, then how does she expect to save up enough to buy a house?


    People hark back to the 50s, 60, 70s and even early 80s as being era when life was so much better financially, but was it? I would say its our changed values that contribute to our financial problems. Prior to the 1980s, people repaired things. TV sets lasted many years and were repaired when they broke down. These days we change TV sets, because there is one with a slightly wider screen or a flatter case, irrespective of whether the old TV works or not. In the 1970s, if you had one colour TV, you were lucky. These days, houses have TVs in most rooms. you can even get TVs for the shower.


    Have you ever stopped to think why street robberies were so less common in the 1970s? Well, its not because society has become more violent, but simply that  nowadays you have a mobile phone or more, an ipad and or ipod and other high value items on your person. Back then we had our house key and the change in our pockets. We have become more materialistic and we want it all now.


    When was the last time anyone you know darned socks or altered clothing to make them fit?


    This wanting everything now attitude is greed in another form and it is what the bankers were guilty of and what the football clubs were guilty of.


    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?


    So, am I suggesting that we do nothing regarding the situation if we are all guilty of greed? No, the big difference between the bankers greed and yours, is the number of people who suffer as a result.


    We need a proper, fair and transparent system of regulation for the financial sector. A fine of 1/6th of their profits for one year is not going to stop Barclays Bank. We need to ensure that their is personal liability upon the directors of offending companies. They will claim they did not know what was happening lower down the company and that it would be wrong to punish them. As directors however, they are happy to take the huge rewards for the success of their companies, claiming its down to them. So, similarly, they must take the blame for the companies failings as again it is down to them.


    The serious threat of lengthy prison sentences for offending directors would concentrate the minds of the directors on stopping the fraudulent and illegal activities of their companies. As for football clubs, the demotion of clubs several divisions will make people think. Darlington have dropped 3 divisions (on top of the one they were facing through relegation) for example and it has made people really think again about the attitudes towards the club.


    Darlington fans would say that they are being harshly punished (some may say) for the greed and miss management of their previous owners. However, to some degree the fans of all those clubs in financial trouble are partly responsible themselves. How is that, you may ask? Well, it was in part the insatiable demands for success from the fans (whatever success means to each club’s fans) that helps drive the clubs owners to overspend.


    Leyton Orient for example are owned by Barry Hearn who has ensured the club cleared its debts by selling land to build flats in the corners of the ground. He has decreed that the club will no longer spend more money than it earns. This means not paying transfer fees, limiting wages and reducing the squad sizes. This has not gone down well with some of the fans, BUT it helps ensure that the club will be around next year and will not face the spectre of administration or worse. The calls on some message boards for Barry Hearn to go are very short sighted and strange. Calling of someone to resign/ sell the club because they run it like a business and ensure it will survive in the long term is part of the cause of the problem.


    Fans are wanting short term success and ignoring the long term consequences of such short term-ism.This is also exactly what the banks have been guilty of!