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August 31, 2008

A mechanical nightmare ....

Arrived at the Abbey last evening to take the Office and found the place in turmoil - the Mighty Milton was misbehaving badly! Something had jammed and the result was that only one of its four manuals could be played - and none of the couplers were working ......... And only half an hour to the service and a visiting choir and organist to boot.

A quick look inside the beast at the back of the console revealed the problem - or part of it. Somehow five keys had become jammed. Middle C on the Pedal and the Pedal "piston" coupler for the Swell to Great seemed to have got themselves interlocked. Inexplicably so had Middle C, C#, D and D# on the Solo Organ! These linkages are quite delicate, so having established that they could not be freed easily I had the Organ Builder/Tuner called out. He duly arrived at 1900 and it took almost forty five minutes for him to find out what was causing the problem and then to get at the problems and unjam them. It seems that the four keys on the Solo had managed to "jump" their restraining nuts, while the Pedal had somehow been trapped by the Coupler. Now the mystery is how it happened!

The Milton Organ's Console. With 4,611 speaking pipes arranged on 84 Speaking Stops it can be a beast, yet it isn't as heavy an action as might be thought. The Action is a "Tracker" mechanism with the keys on each of the five "Manuals" linked to the pipe valves by levers. THe Uppermost Manual is the Solo and Apse Organ, beneath it is the Swell, and then the Great Organ with the Choir Organ the lowest of the Manuals played with the hands. The Fifth Manual is the Pedal Organ played with the feet.

The "Tracker" linkages at the back of the manuals console. The jammed notes were in the middle of this interesting collection ....

In case you thought access was easy - the pipes on the left are part of the Swell Organ's "Clarina" - a "reed" stop, and there is only ten inches between them and the "Tracker" rack. Bumping one or moving it can throw the entire rank out of tune or render it unplayable.

Just in case you were wondering - the Pedal "Manual" contains forty-eight keys and the feet are also used to operate the array of "pistons" which couple and uncouple the different sections of the organ and change the "Stops". The three large pedals control shutters on parts of the organ which allow some sections to be quietened or made louder.

At least, once everything was restored to normal, a quick test run (Neither I nor the Organ Builder can play the thing!) simply playing scales on each "Manual" in turn showed that everything is functioning again as it should. Until we encounter the next challenge. I await the complaints on the absence of the Loop for hearing aids. We have everything else back at work - just the Loop defies explanation.

And this morning we were treated to a Virtuoso performance by Carleton, as usual making it look so easy as he thundered his way through a complicated suite by Vidor. How I wish I could actually play any musical instrument - but the organ most of all. Sadly I am musically illiterate when it comes to reading music and have absolutely no musical talent at all for any instrument. All I can do is sit back and listen - and just occassionally, have a hand in fixing the instrument so that the music can flow. I guess my reward was in listening to Carleton as he played this magnificent instrument. Guess I'll just have to be content with that.

Well, no one can ever say the job of Church Warden is a dull one.....

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

August 30, 2008


The Vatican has now issued a statement in which it alleges that the world is in the grip of growing "Christianophobia". In the extended post is the BBC's version of this statement, which, considering their own contribution to this in the UK, is pretty mild. Personally I have felt for some considerable time that there is a concerted and active policy in the UK government and among the left/liberal intelligentsia that infest the corridors of power these days, to stamp out the Christian legacy and, if possible, the faith. Of course it is not overt, they cannot afford to be open about it, but Whitehall now has "targets" for "representation by other faith groups" alongside their targets for ethnic and female representation.

The BBC and other mass media seize every opportunity to denigrate any Christian initiative and the literary field is laden with "best selling" authors like Dan Browne whose "historical" "facts" are widly misleading to say the least. Downright wrong is perhaps a better way of saying it. Anything which makes any faith, but particularly the Islamic faith, look better than Christianity is seized on and blown up to "prove" that Christianity is the root of all evil.

Well, maybe the Vatican's having come out and said it loud and clear will make the anti-Christian movement in the UK a little more cautious. You may be sure of one thing -0 there will be loud protests of innocence from Whitehall and Westminster on this - but they are as guilty as sin.

ROME (Reuters) - "Christianophobia" is a growing problem around the world and it must be fought with the same determination as anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, the Vatican said on Friday.

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's foreign minister, spoke in the wake of attacks against Christians in India that have left at least 13 people dead this week.

Mamberti, addressing a conference in northern Italy, said religious freedom was a vital part of international relations and human dignity.

"In order to promote this dignity in an integral way, so-called 'Christianophobia' should be combated as decisively as 'Islamophobia' and anti-Semitism," he said.

This week in eastern India, thousands of people, most of them Christians, have sought shelter in makeshift government camps, driven from their homes by religious violence.

Hindu mobs burnt more than a dozen churches and attacked Christians after a Hindu leader was killed.

Mamberti said the events in India made the issue of religious liberty today all the more pressing.

While Hindu groups accuse Christian priests of bribing poor tribes and low-caste Hindus to change their faith, the Christians say lower-caste Hindus convert willingly to escape a complex caste system.

Pope Benedict has condemned the violence against Christians in Orissa but also deplored the killing of the Hindu leader.

Italy's foreign ministry said it would summon India's ambassador to demand "incisive action" to prevent further attacks against Christians.

Mamberti said 21 Catholic missionaries were killed in the world in 2007 and lamented that the Christian population of Iraq was now down to about 500,000 from about one million before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Last month, Pope Benedict told Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that minority Christians in Iraq needed more protection.

The Archbishop of Mosul of Iraq's largest Christian denomination, the Chaldean Catholics, was kidnapped in February and found dead two weeks later.

The Vatican has often expressed concern that conflicts in the Middle East are greatly diminishing the Christian population in the areas of the religion's birth.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:12 AM | Comments (1)

August 29, 2008

Return from Liverpool ....

I got back from the Conference in Liverpool late this afternoon and have had a number of problems getting online. Nothing wanted to work and the computer seemed to be struggling to open some programmes. Three re-boots and a lot of angry swearing at it seem, finally, to have paid off. It has logged on and I managed to get to my e-mail.

Now I'm too tired to do much more, though the problems seem to have been on the BT end of the Broadband - the helpline is swamped which is a pointer! - and now I have aneighbour whose bonfire of garden refuse includes plastic waste. One day I shall discover who it is and send the fire and rescue service round to deal with it.

To make matters worse I was hit from behind by another motorist in congestion on the M5 going to Liverpool. The damage seemed to be just a scratch and a chip on the paintwork - so I didn't bother with any details and we parted. Now I discover that the crumple bar fitted behind the plastic bumper is buckled. Not a lot, but enough to warrant repair. And I don't have the insurance details or registration of the b*st*rd who hit me. My own fault I admit - and that makes me even angrier.

And so, dear reader, Good night!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 28, 2008

Berlin is always worth a visit

Early this summer Mausi had to go to Berlin again on business. But luckily this time she had a whole afternoon to herself to be spent as she liked. Mausi decided to pay the so called "Museum Island" in Berlin a visit.

It is a little island within the river Spree that cuts right through Berlin and contains a number of museums that are under restauration at present. Among them is the famous Pergamon Museum and also the Berlin Cathedral. The Cathedral took a direct hit through the roof during WW II in 1944. Between 1961 and 1989, when Berlin was divided by the Berlin wall, the museum island belonged to East Berlin. It took as long as 1975 until the East German Government allowed any reconstruction work on the church financed with money from West Germany, of course. And then only on the condition that parts of Cathedral had to be torn down first, never to be rebuild.

Western Entrance into Berlin Cathedral

In 1993 reconstruction work was finally finished and the church was consecrated again. It is a very impressive building. The foundation were laid in 1894 by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Cathedral were to serve as the Central Protestant Church in Germany, his own personal church and as a burial ground for the Hohenzollern family of which he was a member. In 1905 the building was finished and dubbed "The Emperor's Cathedral".

Interior of Berlin Cathedral with the Organ, Pulpit and Altar (from left to right)

Berlin Cathedral is not built in the traditional form of a cross but was designed as a central space in the shape of an irregular octagon surrounded by columns. There is room for 1619 visitors to be seated in oak pews. Standing inside the church the effect is stunning with the ceiling so high above you.

Wilhelm II wanted his Cathedral to be seen not only as a church but also as a demonstration of the newly acquired political influence and importance of the German Empire. This double purpose is expressed by statues of the four Reformers Zwingli, Luther, Melanchthon and Calvin on pillars along the Eastern side of the church and four Dukes, sympathetic to the Reformation, on pillars along the Western side. All Reformers are holding a bible, all Dukes are depicted with their swords.

The Sauer Organ with Philipp the Magnanimus on the left and the Reformer Ulrich Zwingli on the right

The Organ is a truly magnificent instrument. It was the largest organ ever built by the organ makers Wilhelm Sauer in Frankfurt/Oder. It has 7269 pipes, 113 registers, four manuals and one pedals. She is said to have the same tonal characteristics as a symphony orchestra. Mausi has bought a CD of an organ concert in Berlin Cathedral and she can confirm every word of the previous sentence. It is a magnificent recording.

Chancel of Berlin Cathedral

Another highlight inside Berlin Cathedral is the Chancel. The Windows are magnificent and only illuminated by natural light. When the sunlight shines through them they glow in a very warm and comforting light. The most striking feature in front of that is the gilt screen in front of them which shows the 12 Apostles.

There is a lot more to be seen inside and outside the Cathedral and it certainly requires several visits to take it all in. Mausi is looking forward to her next stay in Berlin - the Cathedral will definitely be on the agenda again.

Posted by Mausi at 06:15 PM | TrackBack

August 27, 2008

Harry Potter according to Bollywood?

I find it hilarious that an Indian Film maker can launch a movie entitled "Hari Puttar" about a ten year old from the Indian sub-continent who moves to Britain (allegedly!) and claim not to be trading on the "Harry Potter" name and franchise. Well, it's for Warner Bros to sort out through the courst - expensive though that may be. It will, no doubt be fun to watch - especially as Warner Bros are having to fight the case in Bombay.

In the meantime Warner's are about to launch the latest Harry Potter film - and I for one am looking forward to seeing what they have done with the Half Blood Prince.

Could the legal challenge be part of the pre-launch publicity? Perish the thought!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2008

President Brown .....

This was sent to me by a friend (Scottish - just to prove they have a sense of humour too!) this morning. Trouble is its so close to the reality of our political situation - and our American friends understanding of it from their media that it is almost documentary.

From our own correspondent

Gordon Brown flies into Washington, still an unknown quantity to most people in the U.S. despite his bizarre appearance on American Idol recently. In advance of the trip, profiles of the Prime Minister have been appearing in the U.S. This column tuned in by satellite to Eye-Witness News, Palm Beach , for a preview of the visit:

'Good morning America , how are you? This is your favourite son, Chad Hanging, reporting. The President of Englandland, Norman Brown, is arriving in our nation's capital this afternoon to meet with President Bush. But just who is this guy? Let's cross to our special correspondent Brit Limey.'

Hey, Chad . As you can see, I'm standing in the world-famous Trafalgar Circus, with the House of Fayed directly behind me.

So what can you tell us about Norman Brown?

Well, Chad , he has been President for some nine months now. He used to be Chancellor.

What, you mean he's, like, German?

No, that's what they call their Treasury Secretary over here.

And is he a Conservative, like President Tony Blair?

No, Chad . He's Labour. President Blair wasn't a Conservative, either. He only pretended to be.

So how did Brown get the job?

He just kept shouting at President Blair until he stood down.

But he won an election, right?

No, Chad , there wasn't an election. He did think about calling one, but decided against it because he was frightened he might lose.

How can you change Presidents without having an election? I mean, it's not like President Blair was assassinated.

That's just the way it works in Englandland. The leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Lords gets to be President.

So Norman Brown was elected leader of the Labour Party?

Negative again Chad , he did raise money and have a leadership campaign, but no one stood against him.

What, nobody? No primaries, no general election, nothing?

That's affirmative, Chad .

Let me get this straight. His party hasn't elected him, the country hasn't elected him, yet he still gets to be President. Sounds like a tinpot Commie dictatorship to me.

You could say that Chad . Norman Brown doesn't really like anyone being given the chance to vote on anything.

Someone must have voted for him, some time.

Oh, yes. He was elected to the House of Lords by his constituents in Scotlandland.

He's Scoddish, then?

That's a big Ten-Four, Chad.

So is he President of Scotlandland, too?

No, that's a guy called Alan Salmon.

Hang on, if Brown's from Scotlandland, how can he be President of Englandland?

That's just the way it goes in this crazy country, Chad . Brown can make laws for Englandland, but not for his own people in Scotlandland. Not that it matters much because Brown has signed away most of Englandland's lawmaking powers to unelected European bureaucrats in Brussels , Belgiumland.

That would be like stripping Congress of the power to make laws in America and handing it over to Mexico !!

I guess so.

How in the Hell did the people of Englandland vote for that.

They didn't. Brown wouldn't let them, even though it was a solemn promise in his party's manifesto the last time people were allowed to vote.

Couldn't the Supreme Court have stopped him?

Not really. The Supreme Court of Englandland is now in Strasbourg , you know, where the geese come from.

Isn't there any opposition?

There's a guy called Boris.

Sounds Russian.

I wouldn't be surprised, Chad . There are millions of Eastern Europeans living here now, mainly in Peterburl. Englandland has seen mass immigration over the past ten years, but no one voted for that, either.

What in the name of Ulysses S. Grant is going on over there, Brit? We're talking about the country which gave us Magna Carta, saw off the Armada, stood alone against Hitler and invented parliamentary democracy. How does Norman Brown get away with it? He must be one popular guy.

Far from it Chad . According to the latest opinion polls, he's the most unpopular President ever. His approval ratings are even worse than George Dubya Bush. There's talk about him having to stand down soon. He's already promised the job to some guy who works for him - name of Balls.

Say again, Brit, you're breaking up.


You're damn right there, buddy.

As I said, a little too close to the truth of how Labour sees their Prime Minister and how little say we actually have over what our politicians do!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 25, 2008

Somebody's having a laugh

The Abbey sound system has failed yet again. Friday we sorted it, Saturday it worked brilliantly, Sunday we had trouble with the Pulpit microphone and the Priest's Radio Mike. Today the Pulpit refuses to work at all and the Loop system has collapsed completely. We don't know why. No one has touched anything in the system at all since Friday other than to turn it on for use in services.

So now we are back to Square 1. Sound Engineers and more diagnostic work to be done - but one thing is for sure. It seems to be related to something on the line from the pulpit microphone and the Loop system. So, starting there, some wires will be pulled, the Loop scrapped and we'll just keep going until this damned thing does what it is supposed to do, when we want it to and as we want it to.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:42 PM | TrackBack

August 24, 2008

Science and religion

Reading the New Scientist letters pages for this week has provided an interesting insight into the minds of those who refuse to see any value in faith and write God off as a "fantasy figure not worthy of scientific consideration". Having watched Richard Dawkins make a real meal of trying to "prove" that all life is an accident and not influenced at all by any form of God - his catch phrase was throughout "Who needs a god to do this?" - I have to wonder what those like him are afraid of. They make such desperate attempts to discredit any form of belief system, but particularly any form of Christian faith, that one has to ask, why are they so anti-God? Are they afraid that their "Reason" might not be enough and that "faith" based moral codes may, after all, prove necessary?

The letters page has a section in which the atheist lobby are attacking New Scientist for giving column space to a report on the Templeton Foundations plan to use funding to try and scientifically "prove" that God is real. Personally I can't see them succeeding since every "test" they can apply scientifically is probably not going to give the results it would get if applied to something physical. Secondly, what difference will it make to those who deny God's existence? Not a lot I would suggest since that lobby will simply fund a raft of new research to "prove" that the results of the first set of research was flawed. Those who will not believe in anything other than their own reason are as blinkered as those who will not accept that much of the Bible is allegorical and must be read in context with the society that created it if we are to understand it at all.

As for the argument advanced by many of the correspondents who rain abuse on any form of faith adherence at every opportunity, that mankind does not need faith to exercise moral and ethical restraint, I would say that there are any number of examples of utterly depraved science based attrocities that defy any form of ethics or morality to refute their argument. Two examples spring immediately to mind - the work of a Russian biologist who attempted to breed a human/ape hybrid in the 1920's as part of the Great Socialist attempt to brred competitiveness out of the Russian people and develop a "model" "worker". It failed, thankfully. The second is the experiments of Doctor Mengele and others on twins and on human beings to determine how much trauma a body could absorb before death occured. All in the name of science of course, and no doubt supported by a barrage of "reasonable" arguments. Like the famous Socialist mantra that runs "Some must lose out in any effort to improve the lot of the majority." Well we all know who the losers are usually - everybody but the "leader" making that "rationalist" statement.

Christianity as we practice it and as it has been abused over the centuries, certainly has its faults, but it has given us a moral code and a set of ethics which have shaped the modern wortld and will continue to do so. In one sense I hope that the Templeton Foundation's experiments do find the "proof" they want - if only to be able to say "Told you so!" the next time I'm confronted with an arrogant "Scientific Rationalist". Given the speed with which our scientific knowledge is changing the great "truths" of science and the lack of progress in actually understanding some of the most basic matters that run our universe - I ain't holding my breath!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 08:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 23, 2008

What's that big yellow ball in the sky?

Having just mowed the wet lawn I'm now recovering from a bout of hayfever! The sun is out and its a beautiful day, no wind, no clouds and warm sunshine. I hope it lasts, we need to dry out a bit again after what seems to be daily doses of rain. Mind you, I'm not complaining, my hayfever is always easier when it rains - the pollen doesn't get to me through the water.

Mind you, its a Bank Holiday, ergo; it will rain at some point during the weekend, that is what Bank Holidays are about.

As for me, well I never travel on Bank Holidays if I can avoid it so I'm staying home and catching up on all the things I need to get moved forward, like filling in forms for insurance policy renewal, signing off the accountants statements, finishing the proof reading of "The enemy is within!" and ...... The list seems to be endless. Still, its a beautiful day and I need to go and get some essential supplies from Messrs Marcus et Sparkus' emporium on the High Street. Then I had better get back to the grindstone or it will be midnight oil again - and at the price of oil these days that just eats up any profit in doing the work.

Perhaps getting up and going to bed with the birds is a good idea.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 22, 2008

Phantom switches and phantom power ....

Today I should have been able to put aside all thoughts of sound systems and focus on report writing. No, that isn't how it works in this Monk's life anyway. The Abbey sound system decided it wasn't going to work - again.

I went down to check what was wrong and found that the two microphones which are connected by wire to the system refused to do anything. So did the Ambient Sound system and the Loop installed for those with hearing aids. Inexplicable since, before packing up yesterday everything was tested and everything worked. What could possibly have decided it wasn't going to overnight?

The Sound Engineer was contacted and after several phone calls and yours truly delving into the back of the system we solved the riddle. It took several hours, but we finally found the problem. The microphones, the loop and the ambient sound are all supplied by something called a Phantom Power Supply. Essentially it converts the signals and provides power to certain parts of the system which need a different voltage to everything else. Havingchecked its cables, its inputs and its oiutputs, the fuses and everything else we could think of - we discovered why it wasn't working. There is a switch. It was off.

Now here is the mystery. The switch is almost inaccessible, and when we packed up last night everything had been tested and was working - in other words that damned switch was "ON". Yet, this morning, it was mysteriously "OFF". This is not the first time this has happened either and its not the kind of switch that can be turned off without some form of actual contact with it and the application of a little force.

The mystery remains - but at least I now know exactly where to look first!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 21, 2008

Sound at last ....

The Abbey sound system is now working - it has taken all day to get it to a satisfactory state. Yesterday was washed out by a breakdown in the motor of a key technician, but the team assembled today on time and ready to go. It has been touch and go with a funeral and other services, but we got there.

We now have a sound system which does as it should. The Loop system for the hard of hearing works, though we discovered that it was set at a level of volume so high I'm surprised any of the users have a hearing aid left! It has been an education, but, Praise the Lord! It now works.

Wine, bed and sleep are the order of business for the moment!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 20, 2008

Sound systems and echoes ....

Buildings like the Abbey have some peculiar properties, not least an interesting echo at certain pitches of voice or instrument. That makes putting any sort of sound system into them tricky. We have a very good - allegedly - system in the Abbey, but it has some interesting problems and at the moment as you fix one, something else goes wrong.

Today will be a long and interesting day I'm thinking since I have to spend it with the sound engineers as they try - for the Lord alone knows how many-eth time - to sort out the Parametric Equaliser, the radio control and the radio microphones that cancel each other out, drop out for no apparent reason when in sight of a receiving aerial and so much more. Oh, and then there's the spaghetti in the back of the cabinet - which, frankly, I took one look at at and asked if that wasn't a part of the problem with everything interfering with everything else.

Interesting how the "experts" all went straight into defence mode, protecting their mystique with jargon and waffle - until I got angry enough to tell them they have one chance to sort it out or its the lawyers. Nine months of amplified mayhem is enough! I know enough about electronic communications systems to know when I can bag and sell what I am being told as fertiliser.

Der Tag is upon the Sound System!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 19, 2008

Motoring manners ....

Yesterday's trip down to Yeovil (Work, not pleasure!) proved interesting but also provided me with some opportunity to consider the behaviours of some of my fellow travellers. There were the usual lane dodgers, weaving, ducking and diving from one lane to another - and I have to say that the Highway Code is a bit out of date in my view on this - coupled with those who obey the HC and pull over to the "slow" lane when the road is clear ahead, even when they can see a huge lumbering truck barely a few hundred yards ahead and which they must pull out again to overtake. But its what the Highway Code demands! So we have enforced "lane dodging" as well as the cowboy version. And then you have the caravaners who travel so slowly even the trucks are forced to overtake them ....

Going down was fine until around Weston super Mare, then the rain started. Why do so many people in Britain drive nromally in the dry - and become idiots as soon as it rains? I drive like a fire fighter - I acknowledge that, but some people panic as soon as they get alongside a large vehicle throwing up spray. Instead of pushing through it steadily with the wipers on fast mode - they brake.

Coming home I had three close encounters as I overtook people and one of the drivers started hooting and waving his fists - after he put his indicators on AFTER I had started to draw ahead of him (I do watch my wing mirrors as I overtake!) and simply pulled out, causing me to swerve to avoid. If there had been anything on my right it would have been interesting. I took his number and reported it to the police who didn''t seem that concerned anyway, so hey ho on we go. I've noticed lately that this is a problem with a number of motorists on our motorways. You are right along side them when suddenly on goes the indicator and they immediately start to change lanes - expecting you to give them room.

Yes, I know I'm getting older and starting to be more cautious than I was in my misspent youff, but still, I drive with my eyes on what's happening around me - and even when I'm really in a hurry - try to consider the motorist overtaking me as well as my own convenience.

It must be my age!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 18, 2008

Even in the Grauanid now?

Every now and then someone manages to get noticed by the left wing mouthpiece that used to laud the Soviet system as "free" and "fair" - until even they could no longer ignore the bankruptcy of the Socialist Communist Model. They still refuse to recognise that Socialism is a bankrupt and bankrupting system, one which drags everyone down - except , of course, those who impose it, control through it, and have the levers of distribution in it. For those who don't know, the Grauanid is that well known Socialist newspaper which has the exclusive rights to all government job adverts. The Guardian got its nickname after a typesetter reset the banner in protest at proposals to modernise their presses.....

Under "Treasury Rules" ads for any Civil Service position or any position connected with an government department or agency may only be advertised in the pages of this socialist mouthpiece.

So it is with a little skepticism and some surprise that I learned that the tirade in the extended post was actually published in that newspaper. Their censorship of anything "Un-socialist" or "Non-PC" must have slipped badly that day - or perhaps it was far too intellectual for them.


I am tired of this nation worrying about whether we are offending some individual or their culture. Since the terrorist attacks on the 7th of the 7th we have experienced a surge in patriotism by the majority of Brits. However, the disgust about the attacks had barely settled when the 'politically correct! ' crowd began complaining about the possibility that our patriotism was offending others.

I am not against immigration, nor do I hold a grudge against anyone who is seeking a better life by coming to Britain, Our population is almost entirely made up of descendants of immigrants. (The Danes, Romans etc.) However, there
Are a few things that those who have recently come to OUR country, and apparently some born here, need to understand. This idea of the Brits being a multicultural community has served only to dilute our sovereignty and our national identity. As Britain's we have our own culture, our own society, our own language and our own lifestyle. This culture has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom.

We speak ENGLISH, not Indian, Urdu, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or any other language Therefore, if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language! 'Land of Hope & Glory' is our motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented. It is certainly appropriate to display it on the walls of our schools. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture.

If the 'Union Jack' flag offends you, or you don't like our QUEEN, then you should seriously consider a move to another part of this planet. We are happy with our culture and have no desire to change, and we really don't care how you did things where you came from. This is OUR COUNTRY,Our land, and our lifestyle. Our Laws give every citizen the Right to express his opinion and we will allow you every opportunity to do so! But once you are done complaining, whining, and griping about our flag, our lifestyle our government, or our way of life, I highly encourage you. Take advantage of one other great BRITISH freedom, THE RIGHT TO LEAVE.

It is time for Gt. Britain to speak up.

The person who sent me this added -

Will we still be the Country of choice and still be Gt Britain if we continue to make the changes forced on us by the people from other countries that came to live in Britain because it is the Country of Choice??????
Think about it . .

All I have to say is, when will they do something about MY RIGHTS? I celebrate Christmas, but because it isn't celebrated by everyone, we can no longer say Merry Christmas. Now it has to be Season's Greetings. It's not Christmas holiday, it's Winter Break. Isn't it amazing how this winter break ALWAYS occurs over the Christmas holiday? We've gone so far the other way, bent over backwards to not offend anyone, that I am now being offended. But it seems that no one has a problem with that.

This says it all!
This is an editorial written by a British citizen, published in a National newspaper He did quite a job; didn't he? Read on, please!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 07:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2008

Which Harry Potter character?

Which Harry Potter Character Are You?

Created by BuddyTV

I have to admit that this was a surprise - the very last character I expected to be ...

Posted by The Gray Monk at 06:42 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 16, 2008


One of the authors on FanStory a literary site I belong to, has posted an Acrostic verse based on the name PATRICK. It is dedicated to me on the FanStory site so I am very flattered. Here it is

Persecuted by his enemies he has risen above their immorality,
Always finding good, praying for each that falls in evil fatality.
Teaching his family forgiveness and compassion for others,
Radiantly showing all people love, all are sister and brothers.
In loving devotion he preaches the Word of the Lord with passion,
Calmly calling all to give thanks, and to show others compassion.
Knowing great tiredness, he works on nobley, though wearied and ashen.

I hasten to add that she has taken the virtues of the saint for whom I am named and not mine into account in writing it!

The last line is especially poignant for me. As I have researched his life and times, I have been forced to the conclusion that, in his latter years (He died aged 76 by the most reliable accounts) he must have been suffering badly from arthritis. Almost certainly some of the things he was subjected to in his slavery will have left their mark and returned in the form of bad joints, skeletal problems and even digestive complaints. A man of great courage and even greater compassion.

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August 15, 2008

The pig in the bath ....

A story told me many years ago which came back to me this morning as I mowed the hedge and made the most of the early sunshine and lack of rain falling from the sky, is worth sharing again.

A man is walking home from the pub when he comes across another man, a stranger to him, struggling to get a pig through the door of his house. Now, as you may know, pigs come in three basic sizes. Large, Xtra Xtra Large and XXXX Large! This one was in the last category and is the biggest pig our man has ever seen. So he pauses and asks the obvious.

"What are you doing with that pig?"

"I have to get it inside the house quietly. The wife's asleep and I don't want to wake her," the man with the pig replies, "Can you give me a hand?"

Well our philanthropist has nothing better to do and after three pints is feeling quite benevolent so he agrees.

Between them they wrestle the porker into the hall, then up the stairs and finally get it into the bathroom. By now our philanthropist's beer levels are falling fast and he is beginning to wonder about why the gentleman wants the pig in the bathroom.

"Help me put it in the bath," the Pig Owner whispers, "and then I have some good beer downstairs for your pains."

"That sounds good," replies our philanthropist, and together they get the giant porker into the bath and secure him there. Then they make their way downstairs and the beer is produced and shared. After several pulls on the delicious pint, our philanthropist is overcome by curiosity.

"Sorry to be nosy, but why exactly do you keep the pig in the bath?"

"Well it's like this you see," the other man replies, "It's my wife. Everytime I say anything to her, she replies 'Yes, I know that already.'" He takes another pull on his beer and says, "Well she gets up first in the mornings, and tomorrow she'll go to the bathroom and see the pig. And she'll come running into the bedroom screaming "There's a pig in the bath". And for once in my life, I'm going to say, "I know that already!""

Yeah, I know.

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August 14, 2008

The cause of family breakdown?

Now here's something that will get the PC Brigade up in arms I'm thinking. THE big revolution of the 1960's wasn't actually the Hippie movement or even the feminist movement, it was the introduction of The Pill. At last women had control over their reproductive cycles and could - ahem - 'enjoy' the same 'freedom' as men. But it seems that once again, modern medicine has messed up something without intending too. You see, according to the latest research into the field of human biological process, The Pill may be the reason so many men and women make bad choices when it comes to picking out their future husband or wife.

An paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of British Biological Sciences has revealed that our choice of 'mate' is governed by our noses which tell us who is and who is not genetically compatible with us. This is, apparently, especially the case with women, whose noses guide them to find a partner they can be compatible with. It seems that taking The Pill knocks out this built in Mate Sensor system and leads them astray! So, it seems that the contraceptive pill has freed us up in one sense, but has caused a possibly larger problem in another.

Could this be why so many marriages made since the 1960's have ended in divorce? One is forced to wonder, after all, modern medicine has caused an explosion of the human population around the world, directly exacerbating the strain on all manner of resources and increasing the chances of a major conflict in the not too distant future. It has also been suggested that this single development has done more to free women in our society from the biological constraints that have restricted their activities in a raft of occupations in the past, than any other. But now the question seems to be should we continue to mess around with our genetic programming in this way?

The trouble is that, like many other "wonder" inventions we have pulled from Pandora's Box - it cannot now be put back. The Pill is with us for the future - whatever the research says it is doing to birth rates, sexual orientation and a whole raft of social issues. Like the bomb, now we have it, no one wants to give it up.

PARIS (AFP) - Contraceptive pills taken by tens of millions of women around the world can disrupt the innate ability to sniff out a genetically compatible partner, a study released Wednesday has found.

Normally women are instinctively attracted, via their sense of smell, to men who have a dissimilar genetic makeup.

Overly similar gene profiles can result in difficulty trying to conceive a child, an increased risk of miscarriage and a weaker immune system, earlier research has shown.

A group of about 140 genes in an area called the Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) -- which helps build proteins involved in the body's immune response -- also plays a key role in odour through interaction with skin bacteria.

How these genes are expressed can help determine which individuals, unknowingly following their nose, find us attractive.

A team led by Craig Roberts at the University of Newcastle, England, conducted an experiment to find out if taking the pill influences odour preferences.

One hundred women were asked to indicate which of six male body odour samples they found most attractive, both before and after starting to take the contraceptive.

The male scents were drawn from 97 volunteers.

"The results showed that the preferences of women who began using the contraceptive pill shifted toward men with genetically similar odours," said Roberts.

The research not only suggested that taking the pill could induce women to pick Mr. Wrong, but pointed to the potential to wreak havoc in couples.

"It could ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships when women stop using the contraceptive pill, as odour perception plays a significant role in maintaining attraction to partners."

Oral contraceptives combine two hormones, oestrogen and progestogen, to inhibit normal female fertility.

The study was published in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Science.

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August 13, 2008

Greenhouse to Concrete?

A new technology has been developed and a California based company says it can turn CO2 into cement by simply bubbling the waste gas from a gas fired power station through sea water. You can read about it in Scientific American in the online version. It seems to me to be an emminently sensible way to go with this gas, after all, we need to meet the growing demand for electricity, yet the options for producing it are almost all polluting in some way. And according to Greenpeace we only have enough nuclear fuel for another 75 years.

Mind you we ran out of petroleum around 1940 if you believe the sort of "estimates" they usually run with.

It seems to me sensible to explore recapturing CO2 and converting it to cement. We need cement for the housing and structures our out of control populace demand and currently cement production requires the burning of limestone in order to produce the quick lime and slaked lime that goes into the raw cement mix. And that produces CO2! Now turning the CO2 into cement means no only less "Carbon Footprint" but it also means that we tie up the nasty stuff in a permanent bond that will keep it out of circulation.

Let's hope it works and, more importantly, that the bureaucrats and political a*s*h*l*s that usually delay or scupper any sensible solution don't get in the way this time.

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August 12, 2008

Organ recital

Had to introduce an organ recital today given by Dr Anthony Gritten, a renowned organist. I have met Anthony several times and always enjoy his programmes, but today had to be different. You see he asked me to "turn the pages" for him as he played. Whoa! For a start I am next to musically illiterate! I can read the Bass line - just - a legacy of having played the trombone some forty four years ago at school and sung - badly - in choirs since. But read a score for the organ? You're joking ....

He wasn't, so for the next fifty minutes I was perched alongside one of the UK's leading organists and desperately trying to follow the pedal line so that I could turn the page at the appropriate moment. Talk about nerves ....

The first piece was Louis-James-Alfred Lefebure-Wely's Sortie in G Minor. Most people will know his more famous Sortie in B Flat, but this one is, if anything even more fun, especially played by a master on an organ as magnificent as the Milton. And here's another tip - the organ sounds remarkable different when you are perched inside it! I managed to follow that piece reasonably well - though Anthony's nod helped, mainly because the pedal line is fairly distinct. The next item was apiece by Richard Francis who was present for the performance. The Prelude, Aria and Passacaglia was wonderful - and I only had one bad moment when the page refused to fold properly!

That was followed by eleven short movements by Guy Bovet, the Suite Pour Souvigny. This is the first time I have heard this piece and it was wonderful - but murder to follow correctly as the pedal line is incidental, but very, very distinctive. Fortunately it all worked out, I turned the pages as signalled and even managed to follow what was happening among all those notes. I was very relieved to find I had coped with this little challenge. Maybe I should now learn to read music properly - but on the other hand, I don't think I'll volunteer too often for this task.

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August 11, 2008

A funny old day ....

Spent the morning talking to people from the German television station ZDF. The funny part was that neither of them came from Germany and neither spoke a word of German. The interveiwer was the product of an exclusive English Public School and so was the cameraman. If anything his school is probably the best known of all Public Schools. Just shows, never judge a book by its covers .....

They were here to make a short piece on the rising problem across Europe of the theft of any metal that can be ripped from wherever it currently is and sold to a scrap merchant. The other person interviewed was the Operations Manager of an Insurance company that specialises in Church buildings and some of his information was, I must admit, a real eye-opener. I know I have often said that I might as well sleep in the Abbey given the amount of time I spend there - well, there are Church Wardens who do sleep in their churches just to guard against theft!

After that interview I had to go to another. This time it was one in which my suitability for ordination was under scrutiny. I think it went well, but I'm never a good judge of the outcomes from these so I won't be holding my breath. Anyway, there is still another interview to go through and then I still need the "Faculty" of the Archbishop of Canterbury himself to proceed. The Church of England moves incredibly slowly and in a very complicated dance it seems!

Getting home, I fielded three phone calls in short order, all of them for work. Again, I have had very little paying work for the last couple of months and suddenly I'm swamped. At least I should get enough from that to pay the taxman!

Hiho, a strange old day - and there's more to come!

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August 10, 2008

Busy Sundays .....

An interesting encounter with a Dutch couple who were visiting the Abbey this morning has got me thinking. They commented that they used to enjoy visiting Amsterdam on a Sunday - because everything was closed and there were no crowds. Now that is no longer possible because all the shops are open and the place is crawling with trippers. Their point was that with the secularisation of everything and the twenty-four hour, seven days a week trading, no one has time to rest, to take "time out" from the pressures of work, crowds, people and the need to earn enough to enjoy a frenetic "holiday" once a year - in crowded tourist destinations.

This touches on something which runs very deep indeed. The likes of the Boardroom denizens still occuppy their exclusive clubs and restuarants on Sundays and have Saturday and Sunday "at home" with the family and friends (Assuming Torquil and Henrietta are on hols from their expensive boarding schools) - but those they employ are never given that option. At least in the days when Sunday Trading was banned, every family had at least one day in the week when they could all take time out together. Not anymore. I wonder if it has even dawned on the denizens of the various Boardrooms, Whitehall and the Westminster parasites that this is a major reason families are falling apart? Fathers and mothers frequently work different shift patterns and so Mum has Monday off and Dad may have Wednesday off. That is how the law is interpreted - as long as every employee gets two days completely off in any working week - it can be ANY two days.

This is why we frequently see half a family in church and never see both together at the same time. It is also why one sees feral children running around unchecked on a Sunday. Both parents are probably at work! There was a great deal of sense in having one day in the week on which no trading was permitted. There is no need whatever for the likes of Sainsbury's, Tesco or anyone else among the mega stores to trade 24/7 - except the greed of their Boardrooms.

It is perhaps time to step back and take a good hard look at where their corporate greed is taking us.

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August 09, 2008

Personality Quiz

Which Battlestar Galactica Character Are You?

Created by BuddyTV

Well, many years ago I was a big fan of Battlestar Galactica, but the new version just hasn't got my attention in the same way. Still, it could be worse I suppose - I could have turned out to be Baltar or a Cylon clone!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 10:34 PM | TrackBack

August 08, 2008

Keeping posted

I have made several attempts to post something today, but it has been a busy one. Starting with a meeting which took up the morning, then the afternoon slipped by while I made sure I had everything recorded from the morning.

Well, I finally managed to cut the grass when my head could no longer stand the legal jargon, tech speak of reports and the constant searching for cross references. There does come a point when you wonder why you're doing something - and at that point the grass got a haircut.

This is now my Good Night. I think a drop of the proper stuff and my bed calls ....

Posted by The Gray Monk at 03:30 PM | TrackBack

August 07, 2008

Ramblings among my books ...

On my recent visit to Tehran I mentioned to my students that I knew some of the Quatrains of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the 11th Century Persian Mathematician, Poet and Philosopher. At the end of their course they flattered me with a presentation of a most beautiful illustrated boxed book of the Rubiayat.

Now I had better explain. Omar Khayyam's poetry was my father's favourite. He could quote it liberally. But the little copy of the verses that he had didn't have any illustrations. The large book I now possess has the most beautiful illustrations, the work of a Persian artist and each a work of art in itself. The book does not have all the Quatrains Omar wrote but it does have almost half of them and they are reproduced in five languages - Persian and Arabic on the right hand page, English, German and French on the left.

If you don't know the poems, here is one of his most famous:

"The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

It's worth looking up - this man of antiquity has a lot to say in our own age.

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August 06, 2008

All good things must come to an end...

Sadly, yes, and so Mausi's blissful time at the Monk's has ended and she returned to Germany yesterday evening. During the flight the weather cleared up over the continent and temperatures in Frankfurt were around 26 Centigrades. A real improvement to the 16 in Birmingham!

Today was even better with a crystal clear blue sky, sunshine and temperatures around 30 Centigrade. A quick inspection tour through the garden this morning told her that it had run away from again - must be the umpteenth time this year! Sigh! Especially the gazebo needed a clear-up. It was invaded by creepers and thorny berry bushes.

080608_gazebo-01.jpg   080608_gazebo-02.jpg
The gazebo - taken over by vegetation

Mausi, the cat, gave a helping paw as best she could. Every now and then, however, she had to find a cool place. Nothing like hiding under a wet towel on a day like this.

It might look stupid - but it is COOL...

Now the gazebo is ready to be used again and the berries made a very good dessert tonight.

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August 05, 2008

Tight schedules

I'm up to my ears in a big legal job for a large firm of legal beagles at present which is taking up all my time. Its boring and demands meticulous attention as I plough through the nine volumes of documents. And then I have to write a report on what I have found ....

And Mausi left this evening for her home so I no longer have her supplying me with coffee to keep me going. The drivce to the airport was interesting with pelting rain and heavy spray on the motorway. Thankfully we got to Birmingham in one piece, she caught her flight even though we were a little later than planned, and is now home in Germany.

And now its late, I've already managed to wipe out this post once, so to anyone out there reading this, Good night!

Posted by The Gray Monk at 09:32 PM | TrackBack

August 04, 2008

Sunday's Post

Yesterday passed in a blur. It was a feast of music - more than a feast, it was a banquet. But it was a long and demanding day as I did my Church Warden thing and tried to make sure it all ran smoothly. All of which left no time for a proper post.

Mausi will make an attempt at posting something more descriptive later - I am currently up to my armpits in crocodiles with a looming deadline for an important piece of work - not of the enjoyable kind.

Posted by The Gray Monk at 01:43 PM | TrackBack

August 02, 2008

Requiem eternam

Last night the MDS choir provided the background music to our Requiem Mass, the setting by Byrd is sombre and was stunningly performed. An added bonus was the Funeral March by Purcell, performed by the timpany and brass from the West end of the Abbey during the Offertory.

There is something in music which reaches into the soul and this music not only does that, it lifts one out of one's comfort zone and takes you to places you perhaps have not considered visiting within yourself.

For those who may want to follow up and hear this music you need to look for:

Mass in Five Parts - William Byrd 1540 - 1623
Introit - Burial Sentences - William Croft 1678 - 1727
Gradual - In the midst of life we are in death - Henry Purcell 1659 - 1695
Offertory - Funeral music for Queen Mary - Henry Purcell 1659 - 1695
Communion - Thou knowest Lord the secrets - Purcell
Post Communion - I heard a voice from Heaven - Purcell

Send not to ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee (John Donne, Dean of St Paul's Cathedral. A sermon on the death of a friend c 1647)

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August 01, 2008

European coercion?

It seems that the Irish are being blackmailed by other EU leaders into holding a new referendum - one which asks "do you want to stay in the EU? If so, sign Lisbon! If not, get out!"

The argument coming from Brussels is that they must sign or leave because it is "undemocratic" of them to hold up the adoption of the Treaty. Undemocratic? Which other EU country has had a choice on this? It is reported that Her Majesty is herself furious over the fact that she has been obliged to sign an acceptance of the removal of British Sovereignty and its holus bolus handing over to the utterly unelectable EU Commission and their poodles in the Strasbourg "Parliament". Worse, our Foreign Policy and our Defence will now be run from Brussels - with no reference to our national interests at all.

If the Irish are blackmailed into a second referendum on the lines Brussels wants, it will be the final proof, if any were needed, that the EU is not democratic and is totally divorced from the wishes and desires of the people it claims to represent.

Open Europe


Jean Quatremer: Open Europe poll won't change minds of EU governments - they want the Irish to vote again

Under the headline "24 to 1" Liberation Brussels correspondent Jean Quatremer argues on his blog that "the recent poll showing that 71% of Irish people are opposed to a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty has not had much impact in European capitals, since the wording of the question indicated that the vote would be on the same text. There is no question of that: either the Irish will be asked to adopt the Lisbon Treaty with ad hoc declarations responding to their concerns (like in 2002 for Nice), or they will be asked if they want to continue to be part of a Union that is governed by the Lisbon Treaty... This second possibility would clarify things: either you stay or you go, but you do not block Europe as a whole."

Italy has now ratified the Treaty, welcomed with a standing ovation in the Chamber of Deputies in Rome. Meanwhile, three countries have yet to decide on the treaty: the Czech Republic, which is waiting on a judgement by its constitutional court; Sweden, whose parliament will vote in November; and Poland, whose president has said he intends to wait until the Treaty's fate is certain before giving his assent.

David Quinn argues in the Irish Independent: "Here is why the Lisbon Treaty referendum was lost -- and if the Government does not address this, the next one will likely be lost as well: people are worried about the loss of sovereignty and national identity... the European Court of Justice, an institution of the EU, will gain immeasurably more power over Irish law if the Lisbon treaty and the accompanying Charter of Fundamental Rights is ever passed... We have to wake up to the fact that the more power we cede to judges, lawyers and other experts, whether they are based in Ireland or overseas, the less democratic we become. The heart of democracy in any country has to be the national legislature with its elected representatives, not the courts and the law library."

Coulisses de Bruxelles AFP European Voice BBC NZZ Irish Independent Quinn Irish Times Open Europe blog

UK faces looming electricity supply gap - families face £4,000 bill for renewables

A new report commissioned by the WWF and Greenpeace attacks plans to build new coal plants in response to Britain's looming electricity supply gap, predicted to reach 20GW by 2020. The report argues that if the UK meets its EU targets of sourcing 15% of energy from renewables (translating to 35-40% of electricity), together with a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, new coal plants will not be needed.

However, the FT notes that keeping the lights on without increased use of fossil fuels may not be possible if the UK fails to meet the EU targets - which all sides agree will be a struggle. Paul Golby noted in the Guardian yesterday that the necessary investment in renewables would cost the equivalent of £4,000 for every household in the country.

In the Guardian Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the Earth & Biosphere Institute, University of Leeds, argues that E.on's use of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme "won't deliver real cuts, as its own business case shows".

FT BBC Guardian Golby Guardian Lewis

Commentators analyze the failure of the Doha round

Following the failure of the Doha round of world trade talks, fingers have been pointed as to who is to blame for the breakdown. Open Europe's Mats Persson had an op-ed in Swedish daily Sydsvenska Dagbladet, arguing that the global food crisis illustrates the need for freeing up trade in agricultural products and that the EU must bear part of the blame for the break down of the Doha talks.

Philip Stephens argues in the FT that "the French president's language betrays temerity. In spite of all its manifest strengths - economic, technological, cultural, political - France, it seems, cannot stand on its own feet. Europe's leaders must protect the continent from the ravages of globalisation...The collapse of Doha, however, speaks to the failure of both sides to own up to the world as it is. On the side of the rich countries, particularly the US but no less many European nations, there is a refusal to acknowledge that globalisation no longer belongs to the west."

Economist FT Stephens Independent Hari Sydsvenskan

City fears "reactionary legislation" from the EU will exacerbate the downturn

The FT reports on the hostile reaction from the City of London, and the banking sector in general, to the European Commission's proposed increase in regulation. "Proposed changes could greatly increase the cost of capital across Europe with detrimental effects far beyond the financial services industry", said Stuart Fraser, chairman of policy and resources at the City of London, which will today publish its forecasts. These forecasts are expected to predict the sector's contribution to the EU economy by 2009 will have fallen by 8.3 per cent from the 225bn euros ($350bn, £177bn) of last year. Fraser goes on to say: "The message we're trying to get across is that it's a very difficult environment for financial services. What we don't need is regulation that will exacerbate the downturn".

Fraser also has a comment piece in the FT where he compares Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy's approach to the current problems in financial markets as using the "proverbial sledgehammer to crack a walnut".

FT FT Fraser

Russia plans to form a Gazprom-style state trading company for grain exports, raising fears that Moscow will use food as a diplomatic weapon, according to the front page of the FT.


Scottish sheep farmers fear that Commission plans to review existing transport legislation could pose a threat to their livelihood. The changes would cut driving times, restricting access to the Isle of Skye and adversely affect their sheep trade.

The Scotsman

Independent assesses the Conservatives in Europe

As part of the Independent's series, 'Preparing for Power', the paper has assesses the role Europe will play in a future Conservative government. The article notes that Europe is no longer the divisive issue it once was for the party. However, it argues that in opposition the party has not had to make the tough policy choices over Europe that it will have to face in government and implies that it will be difficult to live up to the expectations of the party's eurosceptics while in power.

The article argues that major problems for David Cameron over Europe include the opposition he will face from other EU member states in attempting to renegotiate the Lisbon Treaty and the UK's membership of the EU's Social Chapter.


EUobserver reports that almost 900 immigrants have arrived in Italy just days after the government declared a state of emergency over what it called an "exceptional and persistent influx" of clandestine immigrants.


John Torode: Turkey plans to annex North Cyprus

John Torode writes in The Spectator that new Greco-Turkish tensions in Cyprus are a real possibility. In light of the upcoming peace talks between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders, many now believe that Turkey has lost interest in a bi-zonal settlement, and is "bent on annexing the North". Former President Papadopoulos is said to have added fuel to the fire, by saying that the Turkish Cypriot leader Talet, is "Ankara's man." Furthermore, Torode argues that this outcome is likely to be accepted by the west, which wants to elevate Turkey as much as possible before its accession into the EU.


The Irish Independent reports that the EU mission in Chad may be extended for up to three months.

No link

Ultra nationalist Bulgarian MEP Dimitar Stoyanov was one of the five Ataka sympathisers arrested on Wednesday. The arrests caused clashes between police and other Ataka supporters in Sofia.

Sofia Echo

Rosemary Righter has a comment piece in the Times where she suggests French President Nicolas Sarkozy's return to his reformist election promises is not only supported by the French public but may change the face of France forever.

Times Righter

Tisdall: EU needs common defence

In the Guardian, Simon Tisdall looks at the recent report on EU defence from the European Council on Foreign Relations. He argues, "with a less well-disposed Russia once again prowling around the neighbourhood, the need for a coherent, organised, collective European defence that is neither reliant on nor subordinate to Washington could become painfully obvious."



A new poll by YouGov in the Telegraph shows a 22-point lead for the Conservatives. The poll also shows that Labour would not perform much better under any other leader including potential leadership challenger David Miliband. A Labour Party led by Tony Blair however would only be 9 points behind.

Daily Telegraph

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