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June 30, 2008

Eishhhhh Wena! Bad language usage can be lethal....

To read this you need to use a slightly modified version of phonetics ....

Eishhhhhhh Wena u must not understanding the henglish sandwige

Two men walk into a pet shop and go over to the bird section. Sonnyboy says to Umfan, "Dat's dem."

The clerk asks if he can help them.

"Yebo, we take four of dose beds in dat cage lapa side," says Umfan. "Put beds in a pepa bag pleez, baas!"

The two guys pay for the birds and leave the shop. They get into Sonnyboy's Hi Ace van and drive until they are high up on the hill and stop at the top of a cliff with a 500-foot drop. Sonnyboy takes the birds out of the bag, places 2 on each of his shoulders and jumps off the cliff.

Umfan watches as Sonnyboy goes straight down for a few seconds followed by a 'SPLAT'. As Umfan looks over the edge of the cliff he shakes his head and says, "Haibo, dis budgie jumpin' is too dangerous for me."

A minute later, Philemon arrives. He too has been to the pet shop and carries the familiar 'pepa bag'. He pulls a parrot out of the bag and is carrying a gun in his other hand.

"Heita, Umfan. Watch dis," Philemon says, and launches himself over the edge of the cliff.

Umfan watches as half way down, Philemon takes the gun, blows the parrot's head off, and continues to plummet until there is a SPLAT, as he joins Sonnyboy's remains at the bottom.

Umfan shakes his head and says, "Eish baba, me is never tryin' dat parrotshooting nider."

After a few minutes, Goodman strolls up. He too has been to the pet shop and is carrying the familiar 'pepa bag'. Instead of a parrot he pulls a chicken out of the bag, and launches himself off the cliff with the same result.

Once more Umfan shakes his head.

Hauw! First dere was Sonnyboy wit his budgie-jumping, den Philemon parrotshooting and now Goodman is hen-gliding!"

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:29 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 29, 2008

Believable rumours

Recently e-mails have been circulating in Britain, and no doubt the rest of the world about various things the government here is up to. Or not up to as the case may be. The problem the government faces, and this applies whether it is a polictician or a civil servant speaking, is that we no longer believe anything they say. We know they lie on all the big issues, so why wouldn't they lie on all issues? Facts, when they are incovenient to the party or the civil service, tend to get buried in irrelevant data in the hope that no one will challenge them.

This is why it is so easy for rumours to become believable.

A few days ago I posted an item entitled The Islamification of Britain. I was provoked into writing that partly by a rumour e-mail claiming the holocaust was not to be taught in British schools, and partly by my very real understanding of the fact that there is a definite bias in Whitehall and Westminster against the Christian Church (I have to say not helped by the extreme Evangelical and "Catholic" factions constant contrariness and threats of splits). Muslim organisations are favoured on a wide range of matters when it comes to Community development, social aid and even promotion of their religious views, some of which, I have to say, are decidedly offensive to Christians and others. I know that the stated object is to create an "inclusive" society and to "redress the historical imbalances" but the consequences are something Labour needs to consider very carefully. In this bias they have created an isolation culture for the Church of England and other Christian communities and fostered an "Islam is superior" mindset among many uncommitted to either. And not just on this issue - Ms Harman's latest Bill is a classic case in point. No one in their right mind supports inequality whether it is based on gender, race or religion, but now she is promoting a Bill which will enshrine in law "positive discrimination" forcing employers to discriminate against white males.

Yes, I know that is not the intention - but it is the way it will be applied!

Likewise the legislation Jack Straw wants to ram through Parliament allowing the use of anonymous evidence. We already have that in Children's and Family Courts and it makes it ever so easy for a lie to go unchallenged and for justice to miscarry. Yes, I do know what Jack Straw is concerned about, some very serious crimes are going unpunished because witnesses are being "got at" and intimidated, but there must be other sanctions that can be used here to deal with the problem - like better protection and less 'fishing' by defence attorneys who make very good use of the law which requires full disclosure. That too was intended to ensure that justice was done, but the complexity of the bureaucracy that went with it in Whitehall has made it almost impossible for the police to do their job and stay within the requirements of the paperwork. Any slip, any ommission, and the defence can scream "mistrial". The more the government meddles, the worse it all gets.

So, back to my original premise, why are the rumours so instantly believable? Put very simply, the governing class has lost the trust of the voters on everything from Europe to crime. Government reports are invariably biased to support the ideology of the day and the outcome the particular minister or department wants. Statistics are invariably abused and used to blind people to the fact that they are, at best, biased by the method of collection and meaningless to anyone unless seen against a background of analysis of a wide range of influences. So no one believes anything in a Report, since the outcome is frequently contradicted by the reality experienced by ordinary people on the street. The view from Whitehall is invariably rose tinted by the rarified atmosphere and the special glass in the windows. The media have also lost our trust, we no longer believe what we read in the newspapers or hear on the radio or see on television. We know it has been edited and biased to reflect the view of the writer and editorial policy and in the absence of that trust bond, we are prepared to believe rumours, especially those founded on a kernel of provable fact - as was the holocaust story. That story has its origins in a report that stated one school was shying away from setting the holocaust as a project at GCSE level.

The masters of the Nu Labour propaganda machine have only themselves to blame. They have corrupted Whitehall (It didn't take much!) and they have turned so many rumours into "fact" (Remember the BIG scandal of the kid with "Glue Ear" who couldn't get instant treatment? never mind the thousands who still can't get treatments for life threatening conditions under the same Party that gave us that one!) over the last forty years that we should not be surprised when people believe the lie and ignore the fact.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 03:28 PM | TrackBack

June 28, 2008

A real Star dies .....

This morning I recieved the following from a friend and colleague. Clive and Star were well known, Star being the nicest natured dog I have met in a very long time. Star was the UK's first dog trained to detect the presence of a range of accelerants (Flammable Liquids) in fire debris and his phenomenal performance has contributed in no small way to the resolution of numerous fires. Star will be missed by all his friends and fans, but I'm sure he will be waiting for his handler and friend somewhere - squeaky toy at the ready, to go and find some accelerants ....

Star at work. He indicated a 'find' by sitting down and placing a paw on the spot.

Star 1995-2008 It is with great sorrow that I report that “Star” is no longer at my side. He had been my constant companion for almost 13 years and had enjoyed a wonderful life before his health finally failed. Star was much loved by so many and had made an indelible contribution to the world of working dogs. He will never be forgotten. Clive G.

Star lived for his handler - and together they have left an indelible mark on Fire Investigation as a whole.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:54 AM | TrackBack

June 27, 2008

Multi-tasking a Myth?

It seems that it may well be. It doesn't necessarily mean getting more done and may mean getting less done even more inefficiently, There is a full explanation of this over at Skipjack's Blog in an item entitled The Myth of Multitasking.

He has kindly reproduced a lengthy article which quotes a number of sources in the world of psycology and makes for a very interesting read. I heartily recommend it to you.

Certainly it contains a great deal that confirms my own view that the "Multitasking" society in which we live is not as efficient as it is claimed to be, simply because, in order to "do more with less" we have just found ways to take short cuts so we can complete things and meet the targets set in the Accountant's Ivory Tower or the Boardrooms even more rarified atmosphere. Doing more doesn't mean actually achieving more - it usually means that we get a lot of half jobs done and frequently have to go back again and again to fix up and patch up what was botched the first time round.

As I said, read the article and you'll see what I'm yammering on about. Now. where's my next task .....

Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:16 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 26, 2008

We want a referendum Mr Brown

If you follow the progress of the Lisbon Treaty since the Irish rejection, you could be forgiven for thinking that the rest of Europe has been consulted and given a resounding "yes". At least you could if you didn't know that the rest of us haven't been allowed by our illustrious leaders to have any say at all.

I received the e-mail in the extended post from the Campaign Group lobbying for a a Referendum in Britain. It sums up rather nicely just how much our Leaders think of the electorates that put them in power. What they have forgotten is that we have never agreed to surrender our national identities or sovereignty.

We want a referendum Mr Brown, you gave us that assurance in the last election manifesto and you promised it right up to the moment you realised you had no chance of getting a Yes. What are you afraid of? Better still, what are you trying to hide?

Campaign News: 23 June 2008

1. EU leaders carry on with Lisbon Treaty regardless of Irish no vote

On 12 June, voters in Ireland rejected the EU Lisbon Treaty by 46.6% to 53.4% in a national referendum. Turnout was relatively high, at 53%.

However, despite the resounding no vote, EU leaders meeting in Brussels last week decided to press ahead regardless, agreeing that ratification of the Treaty should continue in other countries. They also agreed that Irish voters should eventually be asked to vote again, until they say 'yes'.

Despite claiming that they want to "respect" the Irish no vote, EU leaders across the whole of Europe have no intention of doing so. They are determined to press ahead with the Lisbon Treaty.

Here are just some of the extraordinary reactions to the Irish vote from Europe's leaders:

"They [the Irish] are bloody fools. They have been stuffing their faces at Europe's expense for years and now they dump us in the s***."

- Nicolas Sarkozy, French President (Times, 20 June)

"The Lisbon Treaty is not dead... It is imperative that they vote again."

- Valery Giscard d'Estaing, former French President and author of the EU Constitution (RTL, 19 June)

"I don't think you can say the treaty of Lisbon is dead even if the ratification process will be delayed."

- Jean-Pierre Jouyet, French Europe Minister (Reuters, 16 June)

"I am convinced that we need this Treaty. Therefore we are sticking with our goal for it to come into force. The ratification process must continue."

- Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister (Reuters, 14 June)

"Of course we have to take the Irish referendum seriously. But a few million Irish cannot decide on behalf of 495 million Europeans."

- Wolfgang Schaeuble, German Interior Minister (Deutsche Welle, 15 June)

"We think it is a real cheek that the country that has benefited most from the EU should do this. There is no other Europe than this treaty. With all respect for the Irish vote, we cannot allow the huge majority of Europe to be duped by a minority of a minority of a minority."

- Axel Schäfer, SPD leader in the German Bundestag (Irish Times, 14 June)

The Treaty "will be applied, albeit a few months late."

- Lopez Garrido, Spanish Europe Minister (Forbes, 15 June)

"The Treaty is not dead. The Treaty is alive, and we will try to work to find a solution."

- Jose Barroso, European Commission President (Press Conference, 14 June)

To see more, click here: http://www.openeurope.org.uk/research/irelandbriefing.pdf

This is an extraordinary refusal to accept the democratic will of the people. Ireland has been the only country allowed to have a referendum on the Treaty, and has said no. By the EU's own rules, the Treaty can only enter into force if all 27 member states have ratified it. Therefore, the Treaty should now be dead. It is completely unacceptable that other countries are continuing to ratify the Treaty in the hope of forcing Ireland to vote again, under pressure from the prospect of 26 other countries having ratified it. EU leaders are proving once again that they are simply unable to take 'no' for an answer.

In protest, last week we went to the EU summit in Brussels and held up giant letters spelling out ''NO MEANS NO" in the colours of the Irish flag. The stunt was televised on all the main evening news bulletins, including the Channel 4 News, the BBC 10 O'clock News and Newsnight. To see a picture of the event, click here: http://openeuropeblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/brussels-hearts-gordon.html

2. Petition against UK ratification gains 26,000 signatures in under a week

Following the no vote, we set up a petition on the Downing Street website, urging Gordon Brown to respect the Irish decision and stop ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the UK. In only 6 days, the petition received over 26,000 signatures, making it the fastest growing online petition. Click here to see it: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Abandon-Lisbon/

Many thanks to all those of you who signed our petition and sent it on to your friends.

Despite this, ratification continued, with the House of Lords last week voting in favour of the Treaty. The final stage of ratification in the UK will now take place once the Government has heard the verdict of Stuart Wheeler's court case, who is fighting against the Government's refusal to hold a referendum. The outcome of the case is expected this week.

3. What you can do now

Of all 27 EU member states, the Czech Republic is the only country which appears ready to accept the Irish no vote. Czech President Vaclav Klaus called the vote a "victory of freedom and reason" and said "ratification cannot continue", and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said, "The Irish 'No' is not of a lesser impact for us than the French and Dutch 'No'."

Despite pressure from all the other EU leaders at the summit in Brussels last week, Mr. Topolanek objected to a declaration calling for rapid ratifications in the seven other countries - including his own - that are yet to agree the Treaty.

The Czech Senate has stalled ratification to await a constitutional court ruling on the Lisbon Treaty and Mr. Topolanek said: "If the vote was today, I would not bet 100 crowns [about £3] on a yes vote."

Please write to Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, offering him your support and letting him know he is not alone, despite the immense pressure he is under from other EU leaders to continue to ratify the Treaty regardless of the Irish no vote.

You can contact him here: topolanek.mirek@vlada.cz

4. What happens next?

The Irish no vote has bought us time, but the struggle is far from over. The I Want a Referendum campaign team continues to fight the battle for democracy on all fronts. You can find much of the work we do at the Open Europe website - www.openeurope.org.uk.

From now on, we will also send you Open Europe bulletins, every fortnight or so. Open Europe is an independent think-tank which produces research on everything to do with the EU, as well as a daily summary of EU news, which you can sign up to through the website. You will be able to unsubscribe from the fortnightly bulletin should you wish to.

Many thanks for your support.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:09 PM | TrackBack

Tewkesbury revived ...

The BBC Gloucestershire is hosting a website entitled "Why I like Tewkesbury". Do pay it a visit and leave your thoughts on the site.

We still have some scars but we are back up and running and have a lot to offer.

Next month we plan to celebrate and give thanks for all that has happened to restore the town and those affected by the floods last year. It will be a good end to a difficult period.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 05:56 PM | TrackBack

June 25, 2008

Truth is often stranger than fiction ...

Is a truism that has some bearing on the reality of life - as I have discovered writing fiction. Yet every now and then you run into a true story that makes you sit back and wonder. In the extended post below is just such a story. I have followed up the links and it certainly looks the real deal, yet it is still one of those stories that you probably could not invent if you tried - and you certainly couldn't write it believably. Anyone who has read "The boy in the striped pyjamas" will understand what I am saying here.

It is this kind of amazing story though that fuels faith in many people and keeps hope alive even in the bleakest circumstances. Having read Herman Rosenblat's story I felt I had to share it.

August 1942. Piotrkow , Poland . The sky was gloomy that morning as we waited anxiously. All the men, women and children of Piotrkow's Jewish ghetto had been herded into a square. Word had gotten around that we were being moved. My father had only recently died from typhus, which had run rampant through the crowded ghetto.

My greatest fear was that our family would be separated.

'Whatever you do,' Isidore, my eldest brother, whispered to me, 'don't tell them your age. Say you're sixteen.' I was tall for a boy of 11, so I could pull it off. That way I might be deemed valuable as a worker. An SS man approached me, boots clicking against the cobblestones. He looked me up and down, then asked my age. 'Sixteen,' I said. He directed me to the left, where my three brothers and other healthy young men already stood.

My mother was motioned to the right with the other women, children, sick and elderly people. I whispered to Isidore,
'Why?' He didn't answer. I ran to Mama's side and said I wanted to stay with her. 'No,' she said sternly. 'Get away.
Don't be a nuisance. Go with your brothers.' She had never spoken so harshly before. But I understood: She was
protecting me. She loved me so much that, just this once, she pretended not to. It was the last I ever saw of her.

My brothers and I were transported in a cattle car to Germany . We arrived at the Buchenwald concentration camp one night weeks later and were led into a crowded barrack. The next day, we were issued uniforms and identification numbers.

'Don't call me Herman anymore.' I said to my brothers. 'Call me 94983.' I was put to work in the camp's crematorium,
loading the dead into a hand-cranked elevator. I, too, felt dead. Hardened, I had become a number. Soon, my brothers and I were sent to Schlieben, one of Buchenwald's sub-camps near Berlin .

One morning I thought I heard my mother's voice, 'Son,' she said softly but clearly, I am going to send you an angel.'
Then I woke up. Just a dream. A beautiful dream. But in this place t here could be no angels. There was only work.

And hunger. And fear.

A couple of days later, I was walking around the camp, around the barracks, near the barbed-wire fence where the guards could not easily see. I was alone. On the other side of the fence, I spotted someone: a little girl with light, almost luminous curls. She was half-hidden behind a birch tree. I glanced around to make sure no one saw me. I called to her softly in German. 'Do you have something to eat?' She didn't understand. I inched closer to the fence and repeated question in Polish. She stepped forward. I was thin and gaunt, with rags wrapped around my feet, but the girl looked unafraid. In her eyes,

I saw life. She pulled an apple from her woolen jacket and threw it over the fence. I grabbed the fruit and, as I started to run away, I heard her say faintly, 'I'll see you tomorrow.'

I returned to the same spot by the fence at the same time every day. She was always there with something for me to eat - a hunk of bread or, better yet, an apple. We didn't dare speak or linger. To be caught would mean death for us both. I didn't know anything about her, just a kind farm girl, except that she understood Polish. What was her name? Why was she risking her life for me? Hope was in such short supply, and this girl on the other side of the fence gave me some, as nourishing in its way as the bread and apples.

Nearly seven months later, my brothers and I were crammed into a coal car and shipped to Theresienstadt camp in
Czechoslovakia . 'Don't return,' I told the girl that day. 'We're leaving.' I turned toward the barracks and didn't look back, didn't even say good-bye to the little girl whose name I'd never learned, the girl with the apples.

We were in Theresienstadt for three months. The war was winding down and Allied forces were closing in, yet my fate seemed sealed. On May 10, 1945, I was scheduled to die in the gas chamber at 10:00 AM. In the quiet of dawn, I tried to prepare myself. So many times death seemed ready to claim me, but somehow I'd survived. Now, it was over. I thought of my parents.

At least, I thought, we will be reunited.

But at 8 A.M. there was a commotion. I heard shouts, and saw people running every which way through camp. I caught up with my brothers. Russian troops had liberated the camp! The gates swung open. Everyone was running, so I did too.

Amazingly, all of my brothers had survived; I'm not sure how. But I knew that the girl with the apples had been the key to my survival. In a place where evil seemed triumphant, one person's goodness had saved my life, had given me hope in a place where there was none. My mother had promised to send me an angel, and the angel had come.

Eventually I made my way to England where I was sponsored by a Jewish charity, put up in a hostel with other boys who had survived the Holocaust and trained in electronics. Then I came to America , where my brother Sam had already moved. I served in the U. S. Army during the Korean War, and returned to New York City after two years. By August 1957 I'd opened my own electronics repair shop. I was starting to settle in.

One day, my friend Sid who I knew from England called me. 'I've got a date. She's got a Polish friend. Let's double

A blind date? Nah, that wasn't for me. But Sid kept pestering me, and a few days later we headed up to the Bronx to pick up his date and her friend Roma. I had to admit, for a blind date this wasn't so bad. Roma was a nurse at a Bronx hospital. She was kind and smart. Beautiful, too, with swirling brown curls and green, almond-shaped eyes that sparkled with life.

The four of us drove out to Coney Island . Roma was easy to talk to, easy to be with. Turned out she was wary of blind dates too! We were both just doing our friends a favor. We took a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoying the salty Atlantic breeze, and then had dinner by the shore. I couldn't remember having a better time.

We piled back into Sid's car, Roma and I sharing the backseat. As European Jews who had survived the war, we were aware that much had been left unsaid between us. She broached the subject, 'Where were you,' she asked softly, 'during the war?'

'The camps,' I said, the terrible memories still vivid, the irreparable loss. I had tried to forget. But you can never forget.

She nodded. 'My family was hiding on a farm in Germany , not far from Berlin ,' she told me. 'My father knew a priest, and he got us Aryan papers.'

I imagined how she must have suffered too, fear, a constant companion. And yet here we were, both survivors, in a new world.

'There was a camp next to the farm.' Roma continued. 'I saw a boy there and I would throw him apples every day.'

What an amazing coincidence that she had helped some other boy. 'What did he look like? I asked. He was tall, skinny, and hungry. I must have seen him every day for six months.'

My heart was racing. I couldn't believe it. This couldn't be. 'Did he tell you one day not to come back because he was leaving Schlieben?'

Roma looked at me in amazement. ' Yes,' That was me! ' I was ready to burst with joy and awe, flooded with emotions. I couldn't believe it! My angel.

'I'm not letting you go.' I said to Roma. And in the back of the car on that blind date, I proposed to her. I didn't want
to wait.

'You're crazy!' she said. But she invited me to meet her parents for Shabbat dinner the following week. There was so much I looked forward to learning about Roma, but the most important things I always knew: her steadfastness, her goodness. For many months, in the worst of circumstances, she had come to the fence and given me hope. Now that I'd found her again, I could never let her go.

That day, she said yes. And I kept my word. After nearly 50 years of marriage, two children and three grandchildren I have never let her go.

Herman Rosenblat, Miami Beach , Florida

This is a true story and you can find out more by Googling Herman Rosenblat as he was Bar Mitzvahed at age 75. This story is being made into a movie called The Fence.

Wikipedia Link

Posted by The Gray Monk at 04:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2008

Greenpeace's "Green energy" Plan exposed as a sham

This article by a Professor of Physics is a must read for all those who might still believe that Greenpeace is a sane and sensible organisation with the planets interests at heart. Entitled "Without the hot air" it makes very interesting reading. My thanks go to the Gorse Fox for bringing it to my attention.

In summary, the professor has calculated what would be needed in terms of wind turbines, sea barrages and other "renewable" energy sources such as solar panels and found that even if we covered our island home in windfarms, ringed it with barrages to trap the tides and covered everything else in solar panels - we'd still have to buy energy (probably generated by nuclear) from someone else. Assuming of course that there was anyone still able to live here with all the turbines.

Just proves to me that Greenpeace is nothing but a bunch of charlatans, eco-terrorists and pseudo-scientists who like to trot out the scare stories regularly to keep the gullible entertained.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 05:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 23, 2008

Open Europe

No, not an oxymoron, a blog that is raising some very important issues our illustrious leaders don't want discussed.


Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:03 PM | TrackBack

Down the hole ....

My friends in South Africa have a big problem. Lack of maintenance on the roads (Alongside lack of expansion of services, lack of investment in infrastructure and a few other "lacks") has made any road journey an adventure. The roads have been damaged by heavy traffic - trucks far heavier than they were designed for - and the absence of any money for repair. So, cracks become holes, holes become dongas and eventually sinkholes. Some roads have become totally unusable I'm told and it is now not uncommon to find barriers set up around a hole with no plans to repair it.

A pothole victim waits for rescue!

As ever, the only thing the hapless residents can do is keep laughing about it.

I don't know who photoshopped this one, but I have to admit it is beautifully done. Thanks Christo!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 11:06 AM | TrackBack

Mugabe wins ....

Mugabe has won the battle of nerves and violence - his storm troopers have succeeded in calling a halt to the elections and now the hand-wringing in the West begins. But should we be accepting the blame for this very African problem? I'm inclined to the view that the answer should be no - except that our dearly beloved Nu Labour government feted and lauded this monster before he (and they) came to power.

Frankly, what is happening in Zimbabwe is a bare hairs-bredth away from happening in South Africa and several neighbouring states. Perhaps that is why the African heads of State are being so quiet - if Mugabe gets away with this, why can't they pull the same stunt when it suits them?

Why not indeed.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:42 AM | TrackBack

June 22, 2008

Islamification of Britain

In a stunning example of insensitive and crass stupidity, or perhaps deliberate signalling of their intent to marginalise everything Christian and to promote their Islamic credentials, Labour's placemen in the Department of Education and Employment (Another Oxymoron - education is so poor in this country now that employment isn't necessarily a consequence!), are turning a blind eye to the fact that some schools are not teaching pupils about the Holocaust. Reason, it upsets our Muslim adherents who deny that it happened. So now we are not to discuss the Holocaust because Labour's gurus agree with Iran's President and other Muslim "Scholars" that the Holocaust is a "Zionist Fiction".

Apparently it is sanctioned because teachers might face a "reaction" from Muslims. Tell that to the 6 million Jews who died and the hundreds of thousands of non-Jews who were also exterminated for their ethnic origins. Tell it to the 10 million Stalin and his successors killed in Russia - of course that didn't happen either, Labour deny that Stalin was a Bad Man and don't forget that card carrying members of the Labour Party were involved in handing over the nuclear bomb secrets to Stalin's people in 1949 - 1952. How can one challenge the fact that, once more, the Jews are being set up as scapegoats and Labour is up to their collective necks in this. The "Protocols of Zion" is once more being circulated in England, it is available through any Muslim sponsored bookstall and others sponsored by the most unlikely ally - the British National Party - I have even found copies in bookshops in London. Tell me that isn't offensive to Jews. Or doesn't that matter? For those that don't know, the "Protocols of Zion" made an appearance in the late 19th Century - initially in Russia where it is now known that they were written for the Tzarist Secret Police to enable them to carry out the pogroms against Jewish communities. Hitler used them as the foundation of his philosophy to rid the world of Jews and it is now being actively promoted and sold to the gullible (who Labour feel shouldn't be told of the consequences!) as the reason that Jewry should be suppressed by Islam.

What this reveals more than anything else is that Labour's agenda is to marginalise all those who don't agree with their anti-Christian and anti-Jewish doctrine of creating a state in which the Christian voice is marginalised and the way can be prepared for the Islamification of all our institutions. The announcement recently that the government is setting up a "Religious Focus Group" leaves me absolutely cold. It is nothing but yet another smoke and mirrors trick to give the Islamic community even more power over the rest of us since their voice will always be the one Labour bows to. The Christian stand-point for this Forum should be based on the findings of the study recently released (and notably NOT reported on by the Labour controlled media) that Christian Organisations and Church based social programmes are consistently excluded from government funding programmes and ignored by government Departments and Local Councils. There should be an immediate demand that that situation is made illegal - and the perpetrators brought before courts. In promoting this "apologiser" approach to the Holocaust, Labour is in the same camp as Stalin, Hitler and Hamas, to mention but a few genocide promoters and those who have denied, or still deny, that the holocaust happened.

Perhaps even more importantly, the teaching of the holocaust must be restored and made compulsory - with, preferably, visits to Aushwitz and Bergen-Belsen as compulsory parts of the curriculum. More Synagogues are desecrated, and more Jews assaulted in Britain every week than at any time in the past - and the perpetrators? Almost without exception from a small minority group from the very religion Labour is trying to appease. Is there any prosecution? We don't know. Why? Because our left wing, Labour controlled media don't report it - its "only a Jew" or its "a Zionist Institution" - so its a legitimate target to them. But let there be any affront to Muslims or to a Mosque and the whole press pack is howling for action and blood.

Labour constantly protests that it merely wants to promote "fairness" and "balance" and to allow Muslims the same freedom that Christians enjoy. What freedoms don't they already have? And what of Labour's next campaign? They now want to silence church bells - a coalition of "green" MP's and Labour anti-Christians want to ram through an Act that will make ringing church bells illegal as "noise pollution".

Its time to stand up to these dangerous commissars and send Labour into the wilderness for good. Roll on the election.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:48 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 21, 2008

Mugabe shows his hand

No surprises really in developments in Zimbabwe. The beloved leader, Robert Mugabe, the hero of the bush war against the evil white regime of Ian Smith, has no intention of allowing anyone to take the trappings of power away from him. Morgan Tsvangiri is lucky he is still alive - and as for his supporters, well, they haven' a prayer now that Mugabe has let slip his "war veterans" most of whom are far too young to have been involved at all in the bush war, and his police and military hardmen are now on the rampage.

Pity its taken this long for his neighbours to announce their disapproval. And even that is a pathetic little whimper which Mugabe will ignore completely. As for the likes of Hain, Harman and the rest of our own shower who hailed Mugabe as the "Liberator" and "Saviour" some thirty years ago - well, their silence speaks volumes.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:47 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 20, 2008

New Speak on the Euro-farce

Listening to the radio the last couple of days you could be excused for thinking that the voters across Europe have been given the opportunity to read, consider and have their say on the EU Constitution, aka The Lisbon Treaty. Our own dear Mr Brown was on yesterday proclaiming that the electorate must "trust" the House of Commons and "respect" their decision to ratify a treaty he first promised to hold a referendum on and now lies about, claiming it is a "new" treaty when everyone else says it isn't. Trust the denizens of the House of Commons? I'd feel safer handling the world's most poisonous snake or sitting down to dinner surrounded by lions.

Listening yesterday as I drove across country in horrendous traffic, I listened to that smooth talking Del Boy, Milliband, as he pronounced in New Speak, the EU mantra which translates basically as "The Irish will have to vote again and again until the get the answer right". In short, the voters of Britain and every other EU country don't matter a damn. Our Socialist Masters across Europe have spoken - we will be subsumed into the United States of Europe and like it.

That much was confirmed by the current Commission President, who basically said that the Irish will have to think again - or the rules will have to be changed.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:34 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 19, 2008

A sad journey ...

Today I must drive across country to the land of the Iceni and Boudicca to a funeral to be held in Essex. The wife of one of my former bosses, a valued and respected colleague, has died very suddenly of cancer. She did not have long before it claimed her, bare weeks in fact.

Her courage in the face of it has been remarkable, but then she was also a woman of deep faith and her instructions for her funeral are that it is to be a celebration of her life, not a mark of her death. We are in fact asked not to wear the traditional black ties or other signs of mourning, something that I personally find encouraging. Carole will be deeply missed by her family and friends, but her faith and theirs will sustain them. And, as Christians, we know we can look forward to being re-united in Christ.

May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A cautionary tale .....

Found at One Happy Dog Speaks - this cautionary tale (with pictures) of how on should be wary of that Christian urge to help the needy ......

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:54 AM

June 18, 2008

50 office-speak phrases you love to hate

Office speak is a reality, and not just in commerce and industry, it is most prevalent in the Civil Service, certainly here in England. It is my belief that it is the invention of the "Generalist Manager" cult currently destroying our services and our commerce and industry. The myth that someone can parachute into an organisation he or she knows nothing about and "manage" it is just that, a myth. I have seen far to many instances of it going badly wrong and of the trail of destruction these incompetents leave behind them to think otherwise.

The Postulant sent me the list in the extended post, which she got off the BBC website posting an article on a piece written by Lucy Kellaway on "Boss speak". George Orwell must be laughing his head off over this, "New Speak" made real - in the interests of "freedom" and "respect for minorities." What a joke - except it isn't really funny. Its serious, and it is not only blighting business and public service delivery, it is hiding the utter incompetence of the bunch of over qualified filing clerks who now proclaim themselves "Managers" - and haven't a clue what they are doing or talking about.

I will confess that from time to time I have contributed to this using my Buzz Phrase Generator. 999 translates into "Balanced Policy Contingency". I inserted that into a "business case" I had to write for an ignoramus trying to "manage" a technical function. I have since had it fed back to me in all seriousness from the fastnesses of Whitehall in a memo instructing me to prepare another report to include, you've guessed it, "Options for a Balanced Policy Contingency." Another one I am proud to have launched into this void of original thought and knowledge, is 911 "Balanced Organisational Flexibility" and 112 "Total Organisational Capability" both of which have appeared in various "briefing" notes from a certain nameless government department ......

Yeah, I know, I shouldn't mock the terminally stupid now should I.

That is the real problem underlying "Boss Speak". It hides the fact that the speaker is totally incompetent and utterly ignorant of the subject under discussion. By using this sort of obfusticating langauge they create a smokescreen that hides their ignorance. My revenge, and I suspect I am not alone, is to insert into any report or memo at least one equally vacuous and meaningless phrase which I know will catch the eye and give the recipient yet another phrase they can "drop into" a meeting or discussion with my colleagues who are on the look-out for it. "Buzz Phrase Bingo" we called it. Best of all, the user generally doesn't get the joke, probably because their language skills are as limited as their knowledge of any technical matter. And as evidence of that limited language ability I invite you to look no further then such gems of Manglish as "conversate" or "incentivise".

My pet hate is the idiots who speak of "premise" when they mean "premises" in relation to buildings or occupancies within buildings. Look it up in the Oxford English Dictionary you morons - a "premise" is a "previous statement from which another is inferred - an underlying assumption". It may also mean "an argument based upon a premise, to state or presuppose upon a ..."

There is NO singular for the word "Premises" which is the word which means "a building and its curtilege or a part of a building or its curtilege"!

Enjoy the list that follows - it shows just how bad the state of business is now it's run by filing clerks with degrees in filing .....

50 office-speak phrases you love to hate

Lucy Kellaway's article against boss speak Management speak - don't you just hate it? Emphatically yes, judging by readers' responses to writer Lucy Kellaway's campaign against office jargon (see link, right). Here, we list 50 of the best, worst examples.

1. "When I worked for Verizon, I found the phrase going forward to be more sinister than annoying. When used by my boss - sorry, "team leader" - it was understood to mean that the topic of conversation was at an end and not be discussed again."
Nima Nassefat, Vancouver, Canada

2. "My employers (top half of FTSE 100) recently informed staff that we are no longer allowed to use the phrase brain storm because it might have negative connotations associated with fits. We must now take idea showers. I think that says it all really."
Anonymous, England

3. At my old company (a US multinational), anyone involved with a particular product was encouraged to be a product evangelist. And software users these days, so we hear, want to be platform atheists so that their computers will run programs from any manufacturer."
Philip Lattimore, Thailand

4. "Incentivise is the one that does it for me."
Karl Thomas, Perth, Scotland

5. "My favourite which I hear from the managers at the bank I work for is let's touch base about that offline. I think it means have a private chat but I am still not sure."
Gemma, Wolverhampton, England

6. "Have you ever heard the term loop back which means go back to an associate and deal with them?"
Scott Reed, Lakeland, Florida, US

7-8. "We used to collect the jargon used in a list and award the person with the most at the end of the year. The winner was a client manager with the classic you can't turn a tanker around with a speed boat change. What? Second was we need a holistic, cradle-to-grave approach, whatever that is."
Turner, Manchester

9. "Until recently I had to suffer working for a manager who used phrases such as the idiotic I've got you in my radar in her speech, letters and e-mails. Once, when I mentioned problems with the phone system, she screamed 'NO! You don't have problems, you have challenges'. At which point I almost lost the will to live."
Stephen Gradwick, Liverpool

10. "You can add challenge to the list. Problems are no longer considered problems, they have morphed into challenges."
Irene MacIntyre, Courtenay, B

11. "Business speak even supersedes itself and does so with silliness, the shorthand for quick win is now low hanging fruit."
Paul, Formby, UK

12. "And looking under the bonnet."
Eve Russell, Edinburgh

13-14. "The business-speak that I abhor is pre-prepare and forward planning. Is there any other kind of preparedness or planning?"
Edward Creswick, Exeter

15-16. "The one that really gets me is pre-plan - there is no such thing. Either you plan or you don't. The new one which has got my goat is conversate, widely used to describe a conversation. I just wish people could learn to 'think outside the box' although when they put us in cubes what do they expect?"
Malcolm, Houston

17. "I work in one of those humble call centres for a bank. Apparently, what we're doing at the moment is sprinkling our magic along the way. It's a call centre, not Hogwarts."
Caroline Garlick, Ayrshire

18. "A pet hate is the utterly pointless expression in this space. So instead of the perfectly adequate 'how can I help?' it's 'how can I help in this space?' Or the classic I heard on Friday, 'How can we help our customers in this space going forward?' I think I may have caught this expression at source, as I've yet to hear it said outside my own working environment. So I'm on a personal crusade to stamp it out before it starts infecting other City institutions. Wish me luck in this space."
Colin, London

19. "The one phrase that inspires a rage in me is from the get-go."
Andy, Herts

20. "'Going forward' is only half the phrase that gets up my nose - all politicians seem to use the phrase go forward together. 'We must... we shall... let us now... go forward together'. It gives me a terrible mental image of the whole country linking arms and goose-stepping in unison, with the politicians out in front doing a straight-armed salute. Is it just me?"
Frances Smith, Toronto, Canada

21. "I am a financial journalist and am on a mission to remove words and phrases such as 360-degree thinking from existence."
Richard, London

22. "The latest that's stuck in my head is we are still optimistic things will feed through the sales and delivery pipeline (ie: we actually haven't sold anything to anyone yet but maybe we will one day)."
Alexander, Southampton

23. "I worked in PR for many years and often heard the most ludicrous phrases uttered by CEOs and marketing managers. One of the best was, we'd better not let the grass grow too long on this one. To this day it still echoes in my ears and I giggle to myself whenever I think about it. I can't help but think insecure business people use such phrases to cover up their inability for proper articulation."
Leon Reilly, Ealing, London

24. "Need to get all my ducks in a row now - before the five-year-olds wake up."
Mark Dixon, Bridgend

25. "Australians have started to use auspice as a verb. Instead of saying, 'under the auspices of...', some people now say things like, it was auspiced by..."
Martin Pooley, Marrickville, Australia

26. "My favourite: we've got our fingers down the throat of the organisation of that nodule. Translation = Er, no, WE sorted out the problems to cover your backside."
Theo de Bray, Kettering, UK

27. "The health service in Wales is filled with managers who use this type of language as a substitute for original thought. At meetings we play health-speak bingo; counting the key words lightens the tedium of meetings - including, most recently, my door is open on this issue. What does that mean?"
Edwin Pottle, Llandudno

28-29. "The business phrase I find most irritating is close of play, which is only slightly worse than actioning something."
Ellie, London

30. "Here in the US we have the cringe-worthy and also in addition. Then there's the ever-eloquent 'where are we at?' So far, I haven't noticed the UK's at the end of the day prefacing much over here; thank heavens for small mercies."
Eithne B, Chicago, US

31. "The expression that drives me nuts is 110%, usually said to express passion/commitment/support by people who are not very good at maths. This has created something of a cliche-inflation, where people are now saying 120%, 200%, or if you are really REALLY committed, 500%. I remember once the then-chancellor Gordon Brown saying he was 101% behind Tony Blair, to which people reacted 'What? Only 101?'"
Ricardo Molina, London, UK

32. "My least favourite business-speak term is not enough bandwidth. When an employee used this term to refuse an additional assignment, I realised I was completely 'out of the loop'."
April, Berkeley, US

33. "I once had a boss who said, 'You can't have your cake and eat it, so you have to step up to the plate and face the music.' It was in that moment I knew I had to resign before somebody got badly hurt by a pencil."
Tim, Durban

34. "Capture your colleagues - make sure everyone attends that risk management workshop (compulsory common sense training for idiots)."
Anglowelsh, UK

35-37. "We too used to have daily paradigm shifts, now we have stakeholders who must come to the party or be left out, or whatever."
Barry Hicks, Cape Town, RSA

38. "I have taken to playing buzzword bingo when in meetings. It certainly makes it more entertaining when I am feeding it back (or should that be cascading) at work."
Ian Everett, Bolton

39. "In my work environment it's all cascading at the moment. What they really mean is to communicate or disseminate information, usually downwards. What they don't seem to appreciate is that it sounds like we're being wee'd on. Which we usually are."
LMD, London

40. "At a large media company where I once worked, the head of human resources - itself a weaselly neologism for personnel - told us that she would be cascading down new information to staff. What she meant was she was going to send them a memo. It was one of the reasons I resigned - that, and the fact that the chief exec persisted on referring to the company as a really cool train set."
Andrew, London

41. "Working for an American corporation, this year's favourite word seems to be granularity, meaning detail. As in 'down to that level of granularity'."
Chris Daniel, Anaco, Venezuela

42. "On the wall of our office we have a large signed certificate, signed by all the senior management team, in which they solemnly promise to leverage their talents, display and inspire 'unyielding integrity', and lots of other pretentious buzz-phrases like that. Clueless, the lot of them."
Chris K, Cheltenham UK

43. "After a reduction in workforce, my university department sent this notice out to confused campus customers: 'Thank you for your note. We are assessing and mitigating immediate impacts, and developing a high-level overview to help frame the conversation with our customers and key stakeholders. We intend to start that process within the week. In the meantime, please continue to raise specific concerns or questions about projects with my office via the Transition Support Center..."
Charles R, Seattle, Washington, US

44. "I was told I'd be living the values from now on by my employers at a conference the other week. Here's some modern language for them - meh. A shame as I strongly believe in much of what my employers aim to do. I refuse to adopt the voluntary sectors' client title of 'service user'. How is someone who won't so much as open the door to me using my service? Another case of using four syllables where one would do."
Upscaled Blue-Sky thinker, Cardiff

45. "Business talk 2.0 is maddening, meaningless, patronising and I despise it."
Doug, London

46. "Lately I've come across the strategic staircase. What on earth is this? I'll tell you; it's office speak for a bit of a plan for the future. It's not moving on but moving up. How strategic can a staircase really be? A lot I suppose, if you want to get to the top without climbing over all your colleagues."
Peter Walters, Cheadle Hulme, UK

47. "When a stock market is down why must we be told it is in negative territory?"
Phil Linehan, Mexico City, Mexico

48. "The particular phrase I love to hate is drill down, which handily can be used either as an adverb/verb combo or as a compound noun, ie: 'the next level drill-down', sometimes even in the same sentence - a nice bit of multi-tasking."
B, London

49. "Thanks for the impactful article; I especially appreciated the level of granularity. A high altitude view often misses the siloed thinking typical of most businesses. Absent any scheme for incentivitising clear speech, however, I'm afraid we're stuck with biz-speak."
Timothy Denton, New York

50. "It wouldn't do the pinstripers any harm to crack a smile and say what they really felt once in a while instead of trotting out such clinical platitudes. Of course a group of them may need to workshop it first: Wouldn't want to wrongside the demographic."
Trick Cyclist, Tripoli, Libya

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:17 AM | TrackBack

June 17, 2008

Ignoring the electorate

It seems that, as is now standard practice in the EU Ivory Tower, the vote in Ireland will simply be ignored, in contradiction to their own "Rules". The Irish have comprehensively rejected the Lisbon Constitution, but Brussels says it will go ahead anyway, that the Irish "got it wrong" and will have to do it again until they get it right.

It seems that, as usual, the Oligarchs in Brussels simply will not accept the fact that their Utopian vision for Europe is not shared by us all. In fact most Europeans do not want a political union even though we all like the idea of a Europe we can travel in freely and work anywhere. That is an economic union - not a political one. Even the "dream" of a single currency has its problems, because different countries within it interpret the "rules" for their economies differently and having a centrally fixed interest rate is not universally good as it means that individual states cannot slow or stimulate their own economies. Talk to the Irish and the inflation they are dealing with on that one. The fact that the so-called Treaty is in fact an "amendment" list and not a new or consolidated text which makes it impossible to read the document they are asking us to just accept, was supposed to ensure that most of us would not have access to it. In fact only 3% of the original has been changed, the rest is eye-blind meant to confuse and hide the fact that sovereignty is being stolen and subsumed to the unelected and unelectable.

Much is made of the "strengthening" of the EU Parliament. Really? Just what powers has Brussels transfered to the Parliament? Well, less a power, and more a bigger rubber stamp really. So thanks, but no thanks on that one. The Commission will still "propose" legislation and the Parliament will "adopt" the proposals - but there is still no direct election of the Commission or of the "President of the Commission" - usually another reject from one of the member states. More jobs for the "boys" all round. A bigger, sleeker and more generous (with our money!) gravy train.

Brussels can afford to ignore the electorate since they are not answerable to any electorate. The Commissioners are appointed by the "Council of Ministers" another unelected body, although the Mnisters are, of course, for the most part, elected by the voters in their own countries. The problem there is that they are able to distance themselves from the fallout created by the Commssioners - "honest people! It wasn't us, its the Commission!" when it comes to elections, failing of course to remind us that they appointed the Commissioner concerned. And who are the Commissioners? Usually failed or disgraced politicians from the member nations, each one having a certain number they can appoint, usually apportioned on a contributions basis. Now comes the problem, Brussels based Commissioners are res[onsible for over 80% of all the legislation currently approved or considered in our Parliament. In short, Westminster is irrelevant, we might as well scrap our legal system and Parliament and just accept that Brussels has direct Rule over our affairs.

Recently a British business was destroyed by our own Department responsible for food, agriculture and fisheries on direct orders from Brussels. The Brussels team were deliberately misrepresenting and interpreting their own rules and data and despite losing two court cases ordered Defra to issue a Statutory Instrument proscribing the use of any material from a NAMED company. Not only was that an abuse of power, it was a direct and flagrant breach of our constitution! Unwritten it may be, but it is still a constitution and we have spent centuries defending the principles it embraces. So the Labour Party's spineless surrender to an unelected Commissioner and his cronies who directly beneftted from this act of treason is nothing short of betrayal of the electorate here in the UK.

So, according to Brussels, the "Ratification" of the Lisbon Constitution must continue. In short, the electorate no longer matter. Democracy is well and truly dead in Europe.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:32 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 16, 2008

A bird in the flue ...

Got up this morning to hear a strange fluttering in the living room. A quick search revealed nothing in sight - initially a relief, since only a week ago I found a distressed bird in this same room, eagerly watched by one Madam Paddy Cat as it perched on a model ship on top of my bookcase. Relief was shortlived, the fluttering was very definitely coming from behind the gas-fire - in short the idiot avian was inside the flue!

Now I had several options. First, check whether it is possible for something the size of a bird to get out through the vents at the top of the "fire". Those looked a little too small. So next option, how do I make t bigger. It seemed the only option was to move the entire fire. That meant disconnecting the gas, unbolting the "fire' from the wall and then shifting the whole thing out. That is a job for a gas fitter, not a D-I-Y averse ex-firefighter. So, back to the phonebook. First call to the 24 hour helpline for the RSPCA. Chocolate fire guard springs to mind for all the help I got there. Summed up it was "Phone Transco to turn off your gas supply - then remove the gas fire ....." Next, try to find a gas fitter. Several abortive calls later I stopped to make a cup of coffee and give this some thought.

Coffee in hand I was about to consider the next move when the phone rang. It took a few minutes to deal with the subject of that and then back to dealing with the bird in the flue .....

Back in the living room, the flutter of wings, at the door a disinterested cat. Madam glanced at me, flicked a tail at the bird and swished out of the room. Her entire attitude said, "You let the last one go - you catch this one!" I shut the door, removed the curtains and opened the windows as wide as I could. Would the idiot bird leave? Of course not. It perched on the model ship and peered at me.

Now I'm not a bird watcher and I'm certainly adrift when it comes to UK and European birds. I grew up in Africa and we have different plumage on most of the "similar" birds and there are some here I just don't recognise. This one looked like a starling, except it was brown, a deep chocolate brown with a long sharp black beak. I waved my hands at it and it took off - but not for the window! We chased from perch to perch until the idiot thing collided with the open windows frame - and darted off.

So now I know how the last visitor got in - down the chimney, which means that the bird guard up there is gone. A legacy of the stormy spring? Or maybe the work that was done up there by the Housing Association's people a few months ago. So how to get it back? Well, the HA (Who own the block in which I own a lease) claim its not their problem - except that my lease says they are responsible for the exterior and its fittings .......

This may take some time - and in the meantime I can expect more avian visitors I suppose.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:00 PM | TrackBack

June 15, 2008


Human Rights are something we often take for granted without really considering what these really are. Since the adoption of Labour's much vaunted Human Rights Act, our rights have actually, in this country, been considerably diminished. There are several reasons I say this and one is that our freedom of speech has been, and continues to be, curtailed. One of our senior Bishops and a team of lay and clergy in his Diocese recently published a study which found that Christianity is now seriously threatened in the UK by a combination of proscription on what one may say in regard to any other religion, but especially in regard to Islam, and by the fact that government ministers and departments focus all their social aid efforts through Muslim organisations and actively discriminate against Christianity.

Under current "Race Hate" legislation I could probably be prosecuted merely for pointing this out. It is refreshing therefore to find that our cousins on the other side of the pond have idiots who think free speech should be restricted. Reading a post in The Anchoress on the subject of freedom of speech I found this post entitled "Cling to the Bill of Rights". It is worth visiting and reading her thoughts on this important matter - certainly one that we seem to have forgotten in England under Blair and his closet of "single issue" merchants.

There is a very fine balance between suppressing free speech and preventing anyone from causing offence by expressing hurtful or damaging views. I agree with The Anchoress when she says that it may be almost as important for those views to be heard and held up to scrutiny so that they can be dismissed in open debate, as it is to ensure that the right to criticise is not restricted in any way. Free speech means hearing many things that I find offensive, but there is nothing more offensive to me than to be told I may not express a view or challenge a view held by someone because it "may cause offence" and is therefore proscribed. I find it particularly offensive when those telling me this and restricting my liberty are the same group who, in my youth, staged protests over their right to choose who could and could not teach them, play cricket here or trade with us. And when they weren't doing that they were smoking pot, strumming guitars and dancing round the stones at Stonehenge. Come to think of it, some of them still do! This is the "single issue" generation who hate to be confused by facts and who often get their prejudices confused with their morality.

The freedoms they seek to restrict are ones hard won by our fathers and grandfathers. They were won by the blood, sweat and tears of our forebears and they must not be given up lightly. Democracy is not a robust institution, the natural state of humanity is living under tyrrany whether we like it or not and in its present form it is barely two hundred years old. If we are not careful it will not last another two hundred years for it will have been strangled in red tape by bureaucrats and single issue campaigners who never look beyond their own narrow confines.

The Anchoress is right, the Freedom of Speech, no matter how distasteful the view of the speaker, is one of the most important pillars of our democracy. It must be defended at all cost.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 04:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2008

The Treaty is dead?

It certainly looks as if the Irish have killed it. But then, the last time this happened there, they held another Referendum with a slightly different question and got the answer the politicians wanted. Let's hope it doesn't follow the same path this time.

The Treaty of Lisbon is the EU Constitution in disguise no matter what Gordon Brown and his henchmen say. There has, according to my MEP been just over 3% change to the original document and that in only peripherals. Furthermore, the "new" treaty is simply a list of the amendments to the original - it is not a corrected document or even a comprehensive document. No one has published an "Amended Text", in fact the Commission has expressly forbidden the publication of such a text. Even that apology to democracy, our European Parliament, have not seen an amended text, only the original and the lists of amendments. In other words it is a scam. It is a pile of ordure and it stinketh to the heavens - but that hasn't stopped the unelected Commission and their bureaucrats from trying to sell it as fertiliser - "It hath much power and maketh the grass to grow" is how they have tried to hoodwink everyone.

Visiting the BBC Website I found hundreds of comments on the story of the Irish Referendum, perhaps the richest coming from Italians suggesting that the British should leave the EU now. Believe me we'd probably like too, after all we pay three times what we get back from it, most of that going to Italy and other basket case economies threatening to destroy the Eurozone. What was interesting was the number of comments from all over Europe saying "Good for the Irish, why are we all not being allowed to vote on this". Some apologisers for the Treaty insisted that it was such a complex matter that we should simply trust our "elected" representatives to sort it out. Oh yes? Which "elected" representatives would they be? Labour's stool pigeons elected with a total vote of 28%? The Unelected Commissioners? The Council of Ministers made up of self-important and self-interested con artists? They have a better understanding of the "technicalities" than we do?

We in Britain were promised a Referendum on this issue at the last election, the government have reneged on that for one reason only - every poll they have taken has shown a nation-wide refusal to give up any more of our sovereignty to Brussels. Brown will discover just how deeply we feel on this issue at the next election.

In the meantime we need to thank the Irish people for exercising their constitutional right - and killing the Treaty.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 05:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2008

Irish Referendum

How ironic that we in Britain are all holding our breath for the outcome of the Irish vote on the EU Constitution. It says a great deal about the state of democracy everywhere else in Europe that not one other government has the guts to own up to the subterfuge they are pulling here to secure themselves in power as "super-power" mongers and give their nations an option to determine whether or not we want to be a part of this Oligarchic Super-State.

Why Oligarchic? Simply because what this consitution does is "crown" one of the unelected nominees put forward by the equally unrepresentative Council of Ministers and the Commission as "President". It has echoes of medieval Europe and the Holy Roman Empire where twelve "Electors" (Kurfursts) - in effect, vassal Kings - "elected, the Emperor. Here we have the same process being proposed. The Commission and the Council of Ministers will propose an "annointed" one who becomes President. Why can the people of Europe not have a say in this? I for one don't want to have to accept as head of state someone like Tony Blair. We have a perfectly good head of state - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. And, frankly, none of the other "candidates" fill me with any enthusiasm.

As for the rest of it, can you imagine how our Foreign affairs will be conducted if they move to Brussels? It goes without saying that Israel will have a hard time from there on because the French have long been in bed with the Arabs and European sympathies lie in that direction more than any other. One good thing I suppose is that the "Single Issue" lobbies that so bedevil our national politics will be drowned in the realpolitik of Europe. That aside, and its the only good thing I can think of in this, we lose control of our military (A Frenchman is head of the EU Fleet in the proposals - yes the rattling is Nelson, Anson, Howe and St Vincent, not to mention Hood and every other famous Admiral!) and no doubt the Falklanders will find themselves sold off to Argentina pretty quickly too. Any Falklander reading this should maybe start to learn Spanish.

Unless of course, the Irish have rejected it. A slim hope perhaps, but our only one.

I do want to see Europe united and strong. I do want to see it play a leading role in the future of humanity, but I don't believe the political vision of the 1930's is the way to go. It is too bureaucratic, too centerist and far to socialist. I want a voice in Brussels and a strong voice in Strasbourg, not a puppet parliament in Strasbourg and a bunch of unelected dictators in Brussels who call all the shots. Above all, I want to have a say in who represents this new state as its head - and that would not be that complete moron Blair!

Come on the Irish - save our democracy!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2008


Found this hilarious story at One happy dog speaks. Its so good I have to share it - so follow the link to Humour for the dreaded Wednesday.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Good news

The sequel to Out of Time, entitled The enemy is within! has been accepted for publication by a small UK based publisher called Hallmark Press. Yesterday I signed the contract and now await the editor who will take on the book and correct my punctuation and possibly make suggestions for improving the text. And I am certain that there are areas that can be improved, so this is something I look forward to. Once that phase is complete it will be the turn of the typesetters - not as difficult as it used to be but still a vital part of the process since bad typesetting and proofing at that stage can ruin the reading experience for the reader.

The cover design is currently being developed - I have commissioned my brother and his partner, both excellent artists, Derek in particular being very professional as a commercial art designer, to create it. I am eagerly looking forward to getting the finished product in the near future and promise a sneak preview will appear here.

Tentatively a publication date of November is being given - just in time for you all to buy it for that Christmas present you want to give everyone you can't think of a suitable item for. Watch this space for developments!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:34 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 11, 2008

The nations children are demonised, stressed and criminalised?

So say our Children's Commissioners. I wonder which planet they live on? Presumably one with nice fluffy pink clouds? These morons should try living in my street. Its been peaceful around here for the last few weeks - because the gang that used to terrorise us all (Eldest was aged 13!) with their threatening behaviour, foul language (I use expletives occassionally - but these kids seem to have no other adjectives) and the violence they exhibited against other kids who dared to get in their way. They put one boy in Intensive Care and then pleaded "Self defence" when charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Well the good news on that was the Judge in the Crown Court didn't believe it either - and took note of the fact that between them they had a record number of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. He sent them down and we now have some peace in the street. Sadly though, they'll be out again soon.

I firmly believe that these "Children's Rights" champions have got it badly wrong - indeed the entire Children's Rights lobby have it wrong. The system they advocate of "reward/Penalty" simply does not work unless you are able to devote an enormous amount of time to it and follow it through rigorously. One slip where something is either not rewarded or punished undoes everything you have achieved. Penalties must be applied, and by that I do NOT mean the sort of belting with some instrument that leaves bruises or scars - but a sensible application of a penalty that is appropriate and meaningful to the child.

Chidren need to know where the boundaries are and those need to be firm, not flexible. Children should be listened too, but they do not have either the experience or the knowledge to be rulers. Parents need to be responsible and need to have the backing of the law in dealing with children who refuse to recognise others rights and the boundaries set by parents or teachers. I regularly have to watch one particular boy in one of the Abbey choirs who knows he can do as he pleases and face no penalty - his parents simply refuse to accept that the little darling is disruptive, rude and downright obnoxious. Frankly, I'd have slung him and his parents out of the choir a long time ago regardless of how good a voice he has - but they are big donors to the school the choir is attached too....... And therein lies another huge problem. Many parents today try to buy their kids good behaviour, a system guaranteed to bring disrespect and bad behaviour.

Children do have rights, but, as I was taught, the exercise of MY rights should never include depriving you of yours or of in any way infringing your exercise of the same rights. The balance has swung far to far towards the children of today having all the rights and the adult population being deprived of theirs. You cannot reprimand a child for fear of being dragged into court on some trumped up charge - because the little darlings all know exactly how to make accussations which will stir up a hornets nest. And because of the "protection" they then enjoy in court, and the fact that there is an automatic presumption of guilt if a child accuses an adult of anything at all, there is little or no chance of your receiving justice.

It seems to me that the "children" are stressed precisely because they are given no boundaries, there is no firm guidance for them on any aspect of preparing for adulthood from their parents and their role models are drawn from the alcoholic football "stars" who spit, swear and throw tantrums, or from the world of popstars and super models who snort coke, take other drugs and behave like the pampered brats they are. Of course they get stressed out at exams - we all do - but somehow there has to be a measurement of how little they have managed to absorb in the disrupted classes our "gurus" in the Department of Education insist must have "all ability" mixes.

If these things are to be addressed properly it is not for the state to address them. The solution is simple, the police, the teachers and the parents must be empowered to impose discipline. Yes the child can enjoy their rights - but they have to learn discipline in order to exercise self-discipline, they must have boundaries and understand those boudaries. You don't get either if you are counselled everytime something doesn't go your way, or from "anger management" classes if all they teach is how not to beat up the person who says "no". It is not acceptable to have a small group of out of control hooligans making life miserable for anyone else - their liberties and their "rights" must be forfeit if necessary to guarantee the rights of everyone else. Thirdly, our education system needs serious rethinking - preferably without the moronic bunch of "educationists" and left-wing ideologues trying to impose their unworkable theories. The kids are stressed because they are not being taught things properly and that is not the fault of the teachers but of the theorists who argue against the tried and tested methods which have worked for centuries.

Children in this country are demonised, criminalised and stressed - and no wonder. They are given rights their parents can't exercise and which they are themselves unsure of how to use and at every turn warned that all adults are sexual predators. They are bored out of their heads because all they can do "safely" according to the "gurus" is watch television, play video games or "hang out" in gangs. However, what I would like the Commissioners to answer is this - if the children are such saintly and well behaved model citizens as you seem to suggest, then why do they indulge in violent assaults on innocent passers-by, even filming their assault on videophone to share with those who missed their latest "Happy Slapping" of some poor person who happened across their path? Why do they vandalise peoples property and never suffer any penalty in courts which are a sick joke, dominated as they are by hippy social workers whose only stock in trade is to try to make out that it is the property owners fault for having something that the youff could destroy?

Somehow I don't expect an answer - after all, the Commissioners only purpose is to tell the rest of us how bad we are, not to find solutions of any merit to any of the problems they, and those they represent, create.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:33 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 10, 2008


Yesterday I had the pleasure of showing a man from the BBC Radio Gloucestershire station up the tower. He was equipped with a special camera which takes 360 degree pictures. The results can be found on the BBC Radio Gloucester page. There is a further set of 'normal' pictures taken with a stills camera in a separate gallery.

Do take the time and trouble to take a look. Maybe it will show you why I love this place and this area so much.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:57 AM | TrackBack

A typical example of what is wrong with our nation .....

Are the comments by Mister Rupert Everett to the Sunday Telegraph - which he is now desperately trying to amend. Too late Sonny Jim, you're on record as having nothing but contempt for the young men and women who put their lives on the line - at lower pay than you and your arty-farty chums and cronies pay Traffic Wardens - so you can exercise the freedom to speak out like that. Try saying that sort of thing in Iran, Russia, China or any number of countries who do threaten our freedom. The least you would get is a long spell in an unpleasant jail.

This creep is typical of the class that now control our media, our government and most of our town halls. That is why our soldiers and other service personell cannot wear their uniforms in public anymore - because scum like Mr Everett constantly drip their poison of anti-military garbage to the gullible. The Labour Party have long been the leaders of anti-armed services propaganda and there is a good reason for it. They HATE the military because they are afraid of the discipline and the loyalty the troops display to the nation and the country - not to the tuppenny-ha'penny politicians who might be in power at any given moment. In a world in the grip of some of the most unstable and dangerous regimes it has ever seen, we still have the vocal lobby in control in this country trying to reduce military spending below the pathetic 2% of Gross National Product that it currently is. Every time the military ask for better equipment or a new ship, aircraft or tank to replace the aging equipment they have - this same bunch of wimps and scum scream blue-murder that the money should be spent on more waste in Whitehall or even more waste in the sinkhole that is the NHS. Or even better - on more money being thrown at some of the Labour voting wastrals on permanent benefit. You know the ones - they have fifteen kids, have never worked a day in their lives and constantly demand upgraded housing to replace the most recently trashed property they have infested.

Personally I will not be wasting my time or energy attempting to see any production in which Mister Everett features. I heartily commend that course of action to everyone else as well.

By Sky News SkyNews - 1 hour 47 minutes agoRupert Everett has apologised for calling soldiers "wimps" and suggesting they went into the Army to torture prisoners.

He says his comments were "flippant and irresponsible" and never intended to question those who had lost their lives or limbs.

The 49-year-old star of My Best Friend's Wedding - and the son of a retired Army major - had been quoted in a newspaper criticising soldiers for whining.

He made his comments in an interview to publicise a documentary, The Victorian Sex Explorer, in which he plays the Army officer and explorer Sir Richard Burton.

Everett said: "In Burton's day they were itching to get into the fray. Now it is the opposite. They are always whining about the dangers of being killed.

"Oh my God, they are such wimps now!"

He told The Sunday Telegraph: "The whole point of being in the Army is wanting to get killed, wanting to test yourself to the limits.

He also said: "The whole point of being in the Army is going to war and getting yourself blown up. That and (urinating) on prisoners. Yet we all get shocked by Abu Ghraib."

Now he has issued a statement apologising "without reserve" to the "many in this country, and hundreds and thousands of others across the world who have lost their brothers and sisters, their fathers and mothers to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and all the countless others".

Everett, 49, said: "I never meant at any point to question the bravery of those who lose their lives, or survive, but without arms or legs.

"Just seeing these people in my mind's eye right now makes me feel a terrible anguish."

He said he was trying to make the point that "we still go to war, but actually we haven't the stomach for it".

He added: "My flippant and irresponsible behaviour arises from a deep frustration at the fact that we seem to be continually making war, dreaming up new ones, instead of doing everything we can to avoid them."

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:18 AM | TrackBack

June 09, 2008

Early Summer

Mausi always likes this time of the year when it starts to get warmer and you can feel that summer is just around the corner. Mausi has warded off the dandelions' attempt to invade her garden successfully and although the garden managed several time to run away from her and is still ahead of her this year the first flowers, clematis and roses, have appeared.

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One of several clematis plants that will eventually cover the gazebo completely and an early rambler rose

Mausi has already seen a number of slugs walking around the garden is they owned it and is trying to think of how to discourage them from having a banquet on the new plants. But ahead of the slugs another pest has arrived. Yesterday Mausi noticed that suddenly some plants seem to have been stripped of their foliage overnight. It has happened before but this time Mausi was able to catch the greedy little buggers redhanded with her camera:

Voracious caterpillars

Strangely the plant doesn't seem to mind having her leaves eaten once a year, it thrives all the same. And Mausi rather likes caterpillars. The first book she ever borrowed from the school library at the age of ten was about caterpillars and the close-up photographs of those animals were absolutely fascinating. Mausi hopes, the good meal they had in her garden, will help them turn into beautiful butterflies.

Posted by Mausi at 03:15 PM | TrackBack

June 08, 2008

Sunday's Sermon

Well, I'm preacher at the Sung Mass today. Its been a while since I last had this slot and I'm afraid inspiration hasn't been with me much of this week. Spending it tutoring a class on fire and explosions doesn't lend itself much to theology. My effort at assembling my thoughts for this set of readings (Genesis 12: 1-9; Romans 4: 13 - end; Matthew 9: 9-13 and 18-26) are in the extended post.

+ In the name of the Father,
And of the Son,
And of the Holy Spirit.

“It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick.”

A bit of a facer that – especially when aimed at a group who consider themselves the healthiest of the healthy in spiritual terms. Again and again our Lord points to the Pharisees and challenges their belief that their obedience to the “Rules” makes them pure. In essence Jesus is saying that they are just as “sick” as everyone else – perhaps even more so.

Our readings today highlight the role of “faith” in our spiritual journey and in our lives. We are told that Abraham never questioned God’s promise that in his old age and in the face of the evidence of his wife’s barrenness, that they would be blessed with a son. Likewise, his faith was justified by his obedience when told to move from the safety of his home city, with its amenities and availability of every commodity, for the unknown in Canaan. As I was reminded recently while visiting an exhibition of the lives of the early settlers west of the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky. Away from the manufacturers, away from the sources of raw materials, life becomes a very hard struggle indeed. If you cannot grow it, herd it or gather it – you go without it.

I would guess that Abraham at least knew that he would be able to buy some of the commodities they needed in Canaan and along the way, but there would have been some uncertainties – some areas where he and his would have had to place their trust entirely in God’s hands. Our gospel points to this “taking one’s faith and putting it on the line” in the story of the “Ruler of Israel’s” daughter. It will not have been easy for a man, probably a Sadducee, to take such a large, for him, leap of faith. This story is given even more point when one looks to Luke and finds the account of the Centurion, a Roman, not even a Jew, who is so convinced that Christ will answer his request that he says, “Only say the word …..”

The writer to the Romans reminds us sharply that faith, not the law, or adherence to the Law, is what God requires of us. This is what the Pharisees found so hard to understand.

Our gospel reading provides us with both sides of this debate in the story of Matthew’s response to Christ’s call, the healing of the woman and the raising of Jairus’ daughter. Matthew, called Levi in Mark and Luke, obeys immediately Jesus invites him to, no small step for a man charged with gathering the taxes. No doubt Matthew/Levi found being invited to follow such a reputedly holy Rabbi both intriguing and challenging. Small wonder the Pharisees in Jesus following found this upsetting – tax collectors rated among the lowest forms of grasping, self serving and corrupt members of the administration. Nothing much changes there then!

Worse, Jesus, this apparently “model” Jew, then sits down to eat with not just this shunned member of the community – but with all his cronies as well. To the Pharisees complete anathema to eat with any so debased and beyond redemption even if they were to attempt to become model followers of the spirit and letter of the Law. Yet Jesus sits down with this group and – in terms of the Law – makes himself “unclean” by his association with them.

His response to their horror at his behaviour must have set them back severely. Not only does he say

“It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick.”

But he continues

“But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

There’s another sermon just in that sentence!

There is both a warning and a direction in that statement. First, we are told never to consider ourselves so spiritually “pure” as to presume that we are among the chosen, for in that, we are relying upon our own efforts and our observances of our own sets of rules. Second, in order to receive mercy we need to show mercy. Why do we judge others by standards we barely keep ourselves? The Pharisees could see only the sinners in Jesus’ dinner companions; Jesus could see the frightened, seeking penitent looking for grace.

It is not the observance of the rituals that brings us grace, it is opening our hearts and minds to God and his wishes for us that gives us that gift.

The woman in the crowd is healed by her faith. She does not know Jesus, she is afraid to confront him and ask for the grace she needs. In any case her condition, in the Religious Law of the Pharisees, precludes anyone from having contact with her. To do so would make them “unclean” and require a lengthy ritual of cleansing before they could again join a congregation or make an offering in the temple. She hopes her touching the hem of his robe will go unnoticed – it doesn’t.

“Take heart, daughter. Your faith has healed you.”

Abraham and Sarah had faith, even though they recognised that a child was unlikely at their age. Their faith was rewarded, as the writer to the Roman’s reminds us, not through their own actions, but through faith and the grace of God.
In raising Jairus’ daughter, for whom funeral rites have already begun, Jesus again challenges those who place their hope in ritual or the application of the letter of the law – it is in the faith of Jairus that, in the grace exhibited in Jesus, his daughter will be restored to his family that he is justified.

As our reading from Romans tells us

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations.”

Jairus dared, in the face of death, to hope that his daughter could be restored. The woman in the crowd, dared to hope against all hope, even the shunned guests at Matthew/Levi’s dinner dared to hope that, in Christ, they too could at last hope for some spiritual hope – and they, unlike the Pharisees that day, were rewarded.

As we prepare to join our Lord in this act of worship and sharing of his Body and Blood we too dare to hope for the justification of our faith and the strengthening of faith as we face the world. John Donne’s famous sermon reminds us that we should not send to ask “for whom the bell tolls” because we are perhaps the very one it tolls for. We cannot assume that we are spiritually full of health, only the great physician can truly know that. Therefore his statement to the Pharisees applies to us as much as to them.

“It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick.”

We must therefore pray that the good physician will give us the grace to recognise our need for healing and to accept it from his hands.


Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 07, 2008


Yesterday was the 64th anniversary of the greatest seaborne landing ever attempted. By this time on this date the allies had established a precarious toehold in Europe and the fighting was fierce. Troops, munitions and equipment continued to pour ashore through the Mulberry Harbours and the breakout was being planned.

We need to remember the men and women who took part in this enormous effort, for the liberty of Europe, for the continuing freedom we enjoy and above all, for the dawning of an age when the democracies could develop and bring those freedoms to everyone. Sadly we know that those living under Communism had another half century of struggle ahead of them to win their right to freedom of thought, expression and choice. Even now, our freedom to exercise these things is under threat - and not just from the likes of Al Qaeda either. Our bureaucrats are just as bad as those of the Communist Regimes, endlessly churning out restrictions on our liberties, endlessly seeking to take to themselves powers that do not belong to them. They, and all those weakminded enough to fall for the mantra of "There must be Rules" are todays threat to our Civil Liberty.

The men and women who took part in the D-Day landings didn't do so in order to create a society frightened to speak out against its politicians. They didn't fight to create a society that has 20% of its workforce working in a totally non-productive bureaucracy created by socialist centralisers simply to control every aspect and reduce individual choice. It is time to look at where our "democracy" is going under our present political system and decide if we intend to allow the "soft socialism" of our intelligentsia to continue to dominate.

I'm pretty sure our father's would have said "No way!"

Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 06, 2008

Mugabe's "veterans".

Listening to the Zimbabwean government I am strongly reminded of Saddam's last days in power. His Foreign Minister seemed to have a problem with reality too. Mind you, a while back I commented here that you should not expect Mugabe's thugs to allow him to be voted out of power and I was absolutely right. They are so afraid of losing the "run-off" their puppets in the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission have engineered by manipulating the votes that they now don't bother to hide their campaign of terror from the rest of the world.

Sadly, unless the South African Military and some of the other neighbours are sent in to disarm Mugabe's thugs and confine them to barracks, the violence will continue until Mugabe "wins" the election. President Mbeki has shown himself unwilling to act against his thuggish friend and Zuma will not be able to do anything if and when he comes to power.

Mugabe's "War Veterans" are most of them far too young to have ever fought in the Bush War and are rather like Winnie Mandela's "Football Club" - thugs recruited simply to put the fear of Mugabe into anyone who dares challenge Mugabe. The biggest problem here is that Mugabe's people control the Police, the Judiciary, the Army and their Central Intelligence Agency. And he is fully prepared to use them against anyone and everyone - including Diplomats engaged in lawful diplomatic activity. Yesterday they tried to abduct, arrest and intimidate diplomatic personnel from the UK and the US. Today they have arrested Morgan Tsvangiri - how unfortunate that he could easily suffer a fatal fall while in custody - and the UN, the UK and the US bleat about it but do nothing. The only thing this thug and his cronies understands is the threat of annihilation. Learn to talk his language - or shut up and get the hell out of there altogether - and that includes the "AID" workers.

The only thing left to say is addressed to Whitehall and Westminster. You put him in power. You lauded and promoted him even though everyone of you knew he was a psychopathic murderer who ran "re-education" camps, organised abductions, ordered the murder of white farmers and their labourers and any and all opposition groups. You knew he had Maoist sympathies and operated one of the most indescriminate terror organisations in the world at that time - the Fifth Brigade.

Congratulations, you created a monster. Now tell us how YOU propose to deal with him.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2008

Getting noticed

Some time ago Amazon invited me to join a "Shorts" programme. This is a programme whereby an author contributes short stories to their sales section which are "e-stories". In other words, stories which are in electronic format and published through their programme. One of the requirements is that you have at least one published book on sale through their site. I joined and submitted several stories - all of which are available on their website - if you can find them.

There are two problems as I see it (Mind you Amazon may see this differently!) the first being that the stories are on sale ONLY to those who live or are based in the US. No one outside the US can buy them. There is no similar point of sale on the UK based website or, indeed, any other. Secondly, when you search for tags Shorts" on Amazon you get a wide range of things, including the article of clothing described by that word. When you do find the stories you find that they actually only list 46 pages of titles and these are in order of popularity starting at those "Rated" 23 or more and diminishing to those rated 7. Who rates them and how is not explained. Any stories rated less than 7 have no chance of being found unless you know the authors name since they don't generally come up on a title search and, of course, have no ISBN. I am sorry to say that my stories don't appear on the 46 pages and probably will not, therefore, ever achieve a rating that would lift them to those giddy heights.

I'm not at all sure why Amazon limit the list of stories like this. I am equally unsure of why the UK and European sites have no equivalent of the "Shorts" programme. Ongoing efforts to get noticed have managed to get a few sales in and I must say a huge thanks to all of those who have helped by posting a link to my book (and coincidentally to the short stories) on their blogs. I recently cracked a milestone in sales of the book and I know that it is down to the word of mouth and many friends I have who have been kind enough to promote it to their friends. Thanks to all of you.

Now the good news, Hallmark Press will be bringing out the sequel "The enemy is within!" within months and that will be accompanied by a marketing campaign. I hope you will all continue to support me in this effort and the enjoy the second book as much as you have the first.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 04, 2008

Buy this CD!

A friend of mine - Andrew Ian Dodge of Dodgblogium - and his wife have put out a CD. Kim is a comedienne and has appeared in a number of UK and US TV shows. The CD, entitled "The wedding EP" can be found here.

Andrew and Kim are, for those who don't know them, a fun couple with a good sense of humour. When he is not making music Andrew is writing and his Cthulu tales are pretty damned good. Why not give this latest bit of fun a whirl and try it out. You'll find that it can be downloaded as well - for less than a £1. Bargain! Even the CD at $4 a shot is a bargain .....

Oh go on - you know you're tempted.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 03, 2008

Historic house

Near Richmond stands a beautiful Georgian House, once the home of the Clay family, who, in their heyday owned all the land between the present house and Richmond - a long drive by car, never mind on horseback. The last, and perhaps the most interesting, member of this family's male line died in 1903 and the house stood empty and derelict for many years until the 1960's when the then Governor of Kentucky's wife managed to persuade those in power (and its owners) to preserve it. The house now stands in a park reserve owned by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and has been lovingly restored, even some of the original furniture having been recovered.

Clay House1.JPG
White Hall, the home of Cassius Clay. No, not the boxer turned Muslim.

Clay House2.JPG
The Kitchen, larder and Ice House were all detached from the main house.

The last occupant, one Cassius Clay, provided assistance to runaway slaves during the run-up to the Civil War - despite being himself a slave owner! As one of my friends described it, he managed to epitomise the tradition of Kentucky Hypocricy - the art of keeping a foot in both camps..... I think perhaps this is a harsh description, but he does seem to have been a colourful character. He is reputed to have kept the Sheriff at bay with a loaded cannon on at least one occassion and refused to allow his estate to be searched for runaways. It seems that his wealth ensured that prosecution wasn't an option for the Sheriff!

Clay House sign.JPG

Thankfully someone had the sense to preserve this fascinating piece of America's past.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 11:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 02, 2008

Broadcast Evensong

Yesterday afternoon BBC Radio 3 broadcast Evensong "live" from Tewkesbury Abbey. A very good congregation were treated to some stunningly beautiful music sung by Schola Cantorum Choir directed by Benjamin Nicholas and a virtuoso performance by Carleton Etherington in the Recessional voluntary. For the next few days, those who would like to hear it can go to the BBC 3 website and hear it on their iPlayer webcast.

Despite the braodcast, this was no concert. It was an act of worship, worship worthy of the angels themselves. I recommend that you listen to it yourself - you'll see what I mean.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:53 AM | TrackBack

Brookville Daily Photo

Abraham Lincoln - I kid you not - has a blog and his pictures are stunning.


Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:51 AM | TrackBack

June 01, 2008

Abraham Lincoln's birthplace

I had not known that Abraham Lincoln, generally considered the greatest President the US has known, was born in Kentucky. Like most non-US citizens, I suspect, I knew he had come from Illinois to the White House and never gave his birthplace or his family's circumstances a second thought. As it was he was born near a place called Hodgensville (Originally Hodgen's Mill) on Sinking Spring Farm. He was born in a single room log cabin in February 1818 and a replica of the cabin is preserved inside a massive stone structure celebrating this fact.

Lincolns birth farm.JPG
The Lincoln Memorial building which encloses the replica log cabin.

The farm itself was not the family home for long. By the age of seven the family had moved to another north of Hodgensville and then, before he was ten, to Indiana and then Illinois. The roiginal farm is now a National Park centred on the Sinking Spring and the Memorial cabin. These cabins are small - sixteen feet deep by eighteen wide - a size probably dictated by the size of tree log that could be handled by one or two men. The floor was compacted earth and the chinks between the logs were sealed with clay. The fire place at one end of the house was deep and stone built, providing cooking and heating for the family.

Sinking Spring1.JPG
The Sinking Spring itself, probably much the same as it was in Linclon's time except that it is now approached by means of stairs and enclosed by supporting walls.

Contemplating the cabin and the other information provided at this place, one cannot help but be struck by the fact that Abraham Lincoln is probably the only man in the history of the USA to rise from such humble beginnings (his father was all but illiterate and his mother was) to become head of his nation. I can certainly find no other President who has achieved this, almost every subsequent President - and certainly all his predecessors - came from landed wealthy famillies and could not be classed as "self-made" men.

A remarkable man in every sense of the word.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:49 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack