Friday, 30 November 2012


I was in excellent company last night.  Sir Trevor MacDonald who needs no introduction, but got one any way from the Chair, editor of the Sheengate Titles Richard Nye, Claire Fox, the director of the wonderfully named Institute of Ideas (sounds like something out of Hogwarts) and Matthew Syed, illustrious columnist and writer of the Times and former Commonwealth table tennis champion I wanted to ask him about table tennis but felt it oddly irrelevant in context of the debate. Discussing if the media were friend or foe (it didn't specify to whom) this of course had been perfectly timed to coincide with the Leverson findings (pure fluke but that's timing for you).

Sir Trevor felt Leverson would change nothing, everything would be bogged down in committees and sub committees and nothing would be done. Ever.   Claire and Matthew felt if statute was put in place, it would potentially be very dangerous especially if you had the likes of Blair or Thatcher in charge again or some lesser megalomaniac.  As for my view, I think the politicians are playing a game.  They are losers all of them, we are the biggest ones (the punter, the voter, the onlooker), but to think they could come out and out say one way or another would be a nonsense and would take a great deal of courage, which they don't have.    When I look at politicians now I think of them as actors upon a stage, not meaning anything they are saying, not even understanding most of it, just reciting it.   I don't feel contempt because it takes courage to get up on that stage.   And Sir Trevor noted that many journalists and reporters now treat politicians with barely restrained contempt when they interview them. As Sir Trevor noted, at least politicians enter the process to do something of good for their community (although I think some do enter it for ego), something you can never say about those who work in the city.

And who will be in this organisation that will monitor the press?  Who on earth, on this earth is so honourable, so without fault, so incorruptible to be considered for this position?  A politician? No. A banker?  You're joking.   A policeman - perhaps.   I think you need a 'common man', or woman who has a sense, a common sense and an ability to see through the emperor with no clothes phenomenon of what is bullshit and what isnt, what is in the public interest and what isn't.   It isn't someone who has risen to the top. If this year has proved anything the shit rises to the top more regularly than the cream does.  Although I must say I do like Eddie George.   I think his contempt for the city mirrors that of my own, but then he deals with them on a daily basis so that's understandable.

In many ways the media has been it's own worst enemy.   Editors allowing for lazy journalism - the recent article about Canada in the Telegraph being an example.  I met the Canadian head of PR for lunch this week and she despaired that they usual cliche about Canadians came up without anything relevant or up to date on a country that had a government which managed to manage their bankers - something our politicians had not.  As she commented 'It's harmless but it's pathetic.'

Then there's the phone hacking which hacked into 'common man' rather than celebrity, who I am afraid I have absolutely no sympathy with. That includes the Royals, both the young and old.    They are sold to us as though we know them. We don't have a clue who they are.  We just think we do.

Editors encourage journalists to get stories, to hit the negative angles because they are told 'it makes better news' and people are more interested in bad news than good. I think it's been proven somewhere, with stats or something, but then so has a lot of things which turn out to be rubbish.   And all media are businesses so their bottom line is more important than anything else.   Associated Papers are making money, The Times is running on a subsidy, the rest of the papers I think are losing money. The BBC may have been dented but they are respected around the world and like the NHS should not be tampered with.   They should not be interested in profit and should aim in their production values at all times and at all cost.   Every panelist agreed on that point.

The weave between the institutions of the police, the law, the church, the city, the media, the royals, the politicians has become so entwined this is like a lover's tiff that will pass over because the end game is more important.  There is too much money, too much power and far far too much ego invested in these institutions for morality and integrity to get in the way of profit.   This has been a year of revelation but not revolution.  And if it were it would be the wrong heads that would roll.    

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


So the new chief at the Bank of England is Canadian. I love Canada and all things Canadian and he's been chosen for many reasons, although the mainstream media focuses on the fact that he didn't allow Canadian banks to get screwed in the same way our government allowed our banks to screw us.   Or perhaps more precisely the Canadian government didn't allow Canadian banks to screw Canadians the same way our government allowed ours to screw us.

He's ex Goldman Sachs so he allegedly knows what he's dealing with - although does he also think he's doing God's work?  Or does that just mean GS now has friends in high places?

And have they chosen a Canadian because they don't know who within the British financial system they can trust?  Reminds me of that film Where Eagles Dare when Clint Eastwood, who was playing an American lieutenant (or some such, he wore a uniform) was brought in to a secret military mission during WWII to help British intelligence Richard Burton, because the Brits back at HQ didn't know who they could trust.  Nah.  Too far fetched.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

don't get sick at home..

Next article on travel will be about what happens if you get sick overseas and if you are in the position - which countries are the best to feel lousy in, if you get my drift.   I'm writing about it because this evening I have spent nearly three hours in A & E as my son has a suspected head injury that hasn't really sorted itself, has some days and not others, and I'm worried.    So along we went and waited.  Eventually saw a nurse after an hour who asked questions then as time went on and on... and other children started to appear... I asked another nurse how long it would be and why it was taking such a long time.   She replied there had been some urgent cases with young children. I get that. That's fine. But it would have been good, courteous, intelligent to tell the waiting patients that they would be longer than they had hoped (I'd been in there with him on several other occasions and I know you wait but not and never this long, and it had on both occasions been busier).   And hey, what is a suspected head injury anyway huh?  As it was now gone midnight and past the witching hour for both I suggested the school medical centre would be a better and faster and more efficient option.  I had to sign a form to say we were leaving. They couldn't find the form.    I thought bugger this we're going. They eventually found the form and I said it would have been a good idea to just let patients know, and manage expectations about time.  The doctor told me 'I am the only doctor here tonight.'   Yup, I understand that, cuts and all but I said a nurse could have gone round and at least explained to everyone that there was going to be a long wait.   She laughed at me. "you can't expect to wait for less than four hours at A and E'.   I told her to tell the patients that to which she repeated the same thing.  So for those out there who want to go to Kingston paediatric A and E EXPECT TO WAIT AT LEAST FOUR HOURS TO BE SEEN.     They won't' tell you this of course.   So I thought I would.    ps.  they are faster in most countries overseas I am sure even taking into account the flight......  And if his head is not right I'm going back there.   I hope she's gone by then.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Disillusioned Relatively Ordinary Professionals Preferring Independent Employment Situations

OMG didn't realise Liz Jones lived in Brentwood. I went to school there but didn't live there.  (Ilford Essex me). Same school and year as Ross Kemp (very nice man).    But Brentwood is commuter belt, mostly wannabes who work back office in the city, or have made it and want to show off that they've made it.  They are predominantly traders, although as one investment banker I met last month told me, traders aren't real bankers. All things considered I'm not sure that's an insult.    I'm surprised LJ moved to the country as it takes a certain type.  I think author and columnist Daisy Waugh had issues as well when she moved and returned back to the city.    The city puts up with pretentious twaddle. The country has no time for it.    

As for LJ, she writes for the Mail. Everyone who writes for the Mail has it inbred in them to be antagonistic even if they don't want to be.   That Brick woman, who no one likes because she is too beautiful also writes for them. She lives in France I believe. I'm sure they hate her there as well.

Friday, 9 November 2012


I went to yoga this morning. It is my gin and tonic, my whatever drugs my peers are taking at the moment to calm their hormones and tolerate their partners and life in general.  I have Tim.  He is phenomenal. There are yoga teachers who speak in hushed voices, others who smell of all things chinky chinky recent visit to Indian Ashram, others who waft about in floaty stuff and can do back bends so their noses are up their own backsides.   But Tim's class is wonderful.  It's bliss. It's what the books on yoga say it should be and so often isn't.    But the thing that always, but always amazes me is his meditations beforehand.  He talks to me.  I know he talks to me. Or perhaps he's psychic.  Sometimes he talks about strength or focus or balance, but never the same thing.    And always what I need, I know I need.  This morning he said it was a prayer and boy have I being praying this week.  His words, his very words were 'Let go of someone who is negative. Thoughts that are negative. Throw them away.  Just let go of them.'  He has never said that before.   For the first time I wanted to stand up and ask the other twenty five in the class 'excuse me but do you all have 'issues' with your exes?'  As we are all 'one' perhaps they do.  Any way.   Namaste to everyone who reads this blog.    Go do some sun salutations and throw away your exes - metaphorically speaking of course.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


If anyone is about on 29th November I am taking part in a debate on the media in Richmond as part of the literary festival.   Entitled Media - friend or foe, and with Sir Trevor McDonald OBE and Matthew Syed, we will be debating if the media is a force for good or ill.   7.30 pm at Clarendon Hall, I think it will be fun mainly because as a travel writer I tend to write the positives but always be constructive (I am not one to believe in a melting pot of cultures or indeed that everyone is friendly where you go - they are not).   And in some places where tourists are allegedly welcomed that is blatantly not true. Anyway please come.


There I was driving through Richmond Park in the morning mist, mellow fruitfulness, deer antlers, sun blistering orange about the horizon, the frost tinting the trees, bliss, you get the idea.  Keats would have been inspired.  Turned on the radio which is stuck on Radio Four and can't get it off but that's ok as the other stations at the moment irritate me.   Teresa May was talking very hesitantly about an inquiry and how the government were going to have an inquiry into an inquiry.  About the inquiry into abuse at a particular home in North Wales to see if it was done properly.  Does that matter? Is that the point?  She kept going on about how child abuse was dreadful.  Using the most exotic adjectives.   Erm, hands up first person who disagrees.  She came across as crass.   There's a list on the internet with the names of those allegedly guilty. It took Philip Scholfield three minutes to find it. I still can't find them.   This is turning into a year of Revelations.  Just we're not doing anything with them, are we?

debut novel I loved - SECOND CHANCE

Check out the debut novel by Dodie Hamilton.  SECOND CHANCE.   Available on kindle it's a beautiful and haunting love story that will resonate I should imagine with a lot of you.  It's the sort of story that stays with you long after you've read it and you'll wonder what ghosts linger in your own past..