Thursday, December 21, 2006

Trump Forgives Miss America

Christmas is a season of goodwill , love, regeneration and forgiveness. So how fitting for Donald Trump to give the reigning Miss America Tara Conner a second chance this week.Trump,who owns the pageant had to take action when all efforts to curb Tara`s indulgences were to no avail. According to reports her antics were fast becoming legendary: hard drinking, cocaine abuse and dalliances with various suitors. Umm some lucky suitors indeed.

Miss Conner , you see forgot that with fame comes responsibility. Miss America is and should be a role model to young girls and such behaviour as displayed by Tara Conner runs counter to this ideal.Now that Trump has decided not to strip her of the title and arranged for her to attend rehab lets hope the queen learns her lessons and behave accordingly.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

New Rules For Taking Liquids Through Uk Airports

What exactly travellers can and can not take through airport security has been a confusing matter since restrictions were imposed.The Department for Transport has published a guide to the new regulations and has other advice to help intending travellers.

The Department put up full-page advertisements in the newspapers last week.Supposedly to intimate people with the state of affairs regarding the issue.Good on them.

Leos Are The Best Drivers

A recently conducted study of over 100,000 car drivers in North America has revealed that those born under the zodiac sign of Leo top the list when it comes to avoiding car crashes.The study throws up more intriguing questions though,for example,does it mean er er less women are Leos?

Every occasion i have been involved in a driving incident the other driver has been a woman. From the minor sprang to the total write off. Take this one couple of years ago.It was in the early hours of the day on a friday,stopped and waiting at the traffic lights,all a sudden bang,i was shunted from there to eternity by the car behind. Now that would have been understandable if i made an abrupt stop and the driver didn't have enough time to stop so unavoidably bumped into me. No,we were parked waiting for the lights to change. Thought i was dreaming. Jumped out of the car , ran to the rear,had a glance and pointed to the kerb....pull up.Ran back in the car and the lights changed,pulled up and she did same.Got out to have a good look but all was fine. Save for a slight paint scratch which some oiling fixed. She apologised profusely. Was she sleeping?

Then there was the School headmistress who had to go to her son`s house,pick her daughter-in-law,dash to the grandson`s school and drop mummy and son back home then get back to her school in time for some important reason.I was just joining the narrow road she was on with cars parked on either side when we came head to head,i stopped but she was just coming full steam ahead,her reaction was almost non-existent,even when i tried to swerve a little from her she followed me like a laser guided missile.The upshot is that there were no fatalities,daughter-in-law had whiplash and my car had a 2 grand repair bill.According to her that was her second accident in one and a half years.

However i used to know a girl, back in Uni days who could drive while having a face to face conversation with people seating at the back.

Some Glaswegian lady name Morag recently bragged to me she could reverse-park while putting on her mascara.Now beat that for know-how.

Monday, December 11, 2006

London Derby:Chelsea 1 Arsenal 1

Chelsea versus Arsenal was always going to be an exciting affair.Both clubs had a lot riding on that match:Chelsea had the record of winning at Stamford Bridge to protect while Arsene Wenger opined that the outcome of the match would determine if the Gunners could still nurture any realistic hope for the Championship this season. The encounter between the two London teams not only lived up to expectations but a cup final couldn`t have proved any more exciting. Ok i would have been happier if we won,but a point apiece is a fair result considering the brilliant display by both sides.

Seemed a lot of Arsenal supporters decided to invade the Bush Ranger on Goldhawk Road,Shepherds Bush (apparent due to the thundering celebration when Arsenal went ahead).The usually genteel and sedate ambience in there was shattered by a din of noise i thought "Oh my!We have so many traitors in west London here today".
Michael Essien`s riposte makes essential viewing.It should take its rightful place in football how-to manuals worldwide.Even my Arsenal-supporting friends had to acknowledge that goal.

And that 5"0 barmaid in The Bush Ranger!? Ummm she brings the notion of the chesty barmaid into the 21st century.Talk of being well packaged and served.I did not tell you that.OK?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Heathrow Gets Third Runway

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport are expected to get the nod from the Government in a matter of days. A new runway at Heathrow ? With all these talk about global warming,green house effect,the ozone layer,saving the environment and what have you? The dust is just settling on the brouhaha occasioned by the addition of a new terminal to the airport. I see the the Green army going into a frenzy on this one. Local stakeholders (Future Heathrow representing those who support the project and NOTRAG ,representing those against it) are already at each other`s throats over the proposal.

Isn`t this sending conflicting signals and messages. On one hand the government is saying it is concerned with the polluting effects of aviation yet it is building more runways. Personally i do not subscribe to that view that the world is in danger of extinction due to climate change. Yes,things may change due to the way we live now or due to any other factors.Some of the chages might be catastrophic but i am sure life will go on somehow. Living beings adapt. Some better than others.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

David Cameron: A Year On

David Cameron took over the realm of affairs at the Conservative Party a year this week. His job was cut out for him. He inherited a party left defeated,divided and moribund. The Conservatives failed to capitalize on the general disapproval of Tony Blair resulting, from among other things the Iraqi imbroglio. So Cameron was beset with reviving the party,aggregating and accomomodating the diverse views and personalities in the party and forging a way forward. All gravely important for the party to pose any damaging threat to Labour.

Has Cameron been able to pull these off? The jury is out on this. Time will eventually reveal.However to answer the question using the past 12 months as parameter it is quite right to say he still has a lot to do. Ok the Conservatives are no doubt in a better state they were say after the last general election when it seemed they were going to go the way of the dinosaurs.

Again under Cameron,they made massive gains in this May`s local elections.Gains if repeated nationwide would see them leaving Labour in a cloud of dust.But that was then.

Now,the steam has gone out of the Central Office engine. The speeches are getting blander if not inane,the so called core conservatives(mainly geriatric farts,pseudo bigots and deluded dogmatists who need to get out a bit more) want their party back and the media being the kind of bedfellows they are, are packing their bags and deserting the bride. Honeymoon over!Welcome to reality Dave! Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

The decision to out- Blair Blair is ridiculous and banal.Cameron has made a fatal error in thinking that by blurring the lines between himself and Blair {and invariably between the Conservatives and Labour} would be gainful.No. This is off putting and of course un-productive.
There are no well defined,appealling policies being offered to us as alternatives to Labour and Tony Blair. Matter of fact the Conservatives are trailing Labour in the polls.This despite widespread disillusionment with Tony Blair.

So on the whole there is still a lot of work for David Cameron to do to avoid that "big clunking fist" and being "on his feet,carried out of the ring".A word for the wise.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Pound for 2 Dollars

There is a maxim that when America sneezes the whole world catches a cold. If there is any truth in that statement then it seems we all better get ready for a flu pandenmic. The US dollar is at an alarming low against the pound sterling and this has immensely serious implications for the British economy in particular and the whole world in general.

Why did the dollar lose so much weight against the pound? The basic answer is the state or the direction of the US economy.Its sypmtomatic of an economy in decline at worst or at best at the initial stages of decline.Any stable,bouyant and well-balanced economy should and would withstand any onslaught that could result in such a drastic negative swing.So how does that impact us here.Well,it means for instance that it costs Americans more to buy from our exporters so they look for cheaper exports elsewhere,costs them more to holiday here so they vacation somewhere else and on and on ad infinitum.All with negative resultant effects on commerce and the economy as a whole.

The pertinent question now is what steps Bush and his financial advisers are going to take to rectify the situation.Do they take fiscal measures or wait and see if market forces will set in and bring the dollar to its ertswhile position? The world awaits.Meanwhile you might start stockpiling your dosage of Lemsip.Just in case!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Papal`s Visit to Turkey

Having been born into and raised as a Catholic, the Pope has always been and perhaps in a way will always be a revered figure to me. However,the office of the Papal has over the years started to hold less and less importance and it must be said reverence in my personal view.

I haven`t been to confession for almost 20 years,same for taking the holy communion and i havent been to mass for 15 years save for the odd New Year`s eve service but i still regard myself as a catholic. So it is with much regret that i have to say i have no time for the new Pope, Benedict Ratzinger. He was quoted,not too long ago as referencing a 14th century byzantine emperor who said islam never brought anything but evil to humanity. By that he meant war and destruction. Well i think christianity too has its fair share of blood to account for. Over the centuries atrocities have been commited in the name of both religions. Even as we speak the Catholic Church stand accused of shielding it`s priests accused of sexual assault. Millions are being paid out in compensation. When the shit hit the fan Ratzinger explained he was only quoting what was said. You only use qoutes that way to butress a point. Dont get me wrong i am no apologist for islam or moslems but that statement was most impertinent.

His submission before becoming the pope, that EU memmbership should be denied to Turkey because according to him islam is a different culture from that of mainly christian Europe,is so flawed and simplistic i find it hard to believe someone occupying that august seat would come out with such arrant nonsense. Check this from Rantzinger-

"The roots that have formed Europe, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe.

"There were the old Ottoman Empire wars against the Byzantine Empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. It would be an error to equate the two continents...Turkey is founded upon Islam ... Thus the entry of Turkey into the EU would be anti-historical."

Would someone please remind his holiness that this is the 21st century and not the 1300s.His papacy seems to be residing in some kind of time-warp and needs to be woken up. What happened or did not happen in those medieval times are nothing much than history. A collection of events and actions,which by and large are open to interpretations depending on which version or point of view you subscribe to. Moreso the values celebrated those days are not necessarily in tandem with today`s. What a nation`s membership of an entity as the European Union has to do with what happened there aeons ago really i do not know.There are set conditions for membership of the European Union and it is against these conditions that Turkey`s desire for European integration should be judged. Is the country geographically located in Europe? Is it a democracy? Sound economic policies ? Open to and able to withstand outside market forces? These are the factors that serve as the framework and the basis for inclusion in the Union and not some fisherman`s wife tales.

What does the Pope mean by `equating the two continents`? What does he mean by anti-historical? One can only deduce that his social,political and historical philosophy is disturbingly jaundiced. Disturbing because as the Pope he has a platform and a voice. The world listens when he opens his mouth. If what comes out is informed by retrogressive,seemingly reckless or myopic thinking then he runs the risk of losing the respect and ears of all right thinking, objective observers thus bringing further discredit to the Church.

The Turkish authorities did well inviting him to Turkey.Good on him for accepting the invitation.Only has to keep in mind this is 2006.

Brits Abroad

It has come to my knowledge that tourists from Britain have been making away with road signs from a particular small town in Austria. The local authorities there are obviously at their tethers end. It all has to do with the town`s name:Fucking.

Drastic measures are now being employed to ensure that the traffic signs stay where they belong and not end up stolen by visitors to keep as souvenirs.

Wonder what the Welsh would say about this.Heavens know they have some long,wild sounding placenames. Have to admit nothing beats Fucking in the embarassment stakes for a place to come from.Imagine little Angelica showing off to her nursery friends where she went with mummy and daddy over the weekend. Less said the better

Monday, November 27, 2006

Chelsea 1 Manchester United 1

Honours were shared yesterday when we went down to Old Trafford.Were they? Probably not.I think we won. Of course Mourinho reflected this view too. By drawing at Old Trafford Chelsea gained a point on Arsenal while staying `as you were` with regards to United. Ferguson would have loved to win that match most than any other encounter.Peter kenyon`s remarks earlier in the week that Chelsea was leapfrogging United in the world stage was not well received by the old soldier. So to win at home would have been a salient way of showing United were still a potent,dominant force. But they didn`t. No matter what Fergie says to the Press, he knows there are new boys on the block or should that be on the throne.The facts are evident,Chelsea won the last two Championships back to back and are favourites to retain the trophy.

With Arsenal languishing in sixth position and Liverpool stuck in mid-table this season`s trophy is a two-horse race{United and Chelsea}
and i bet my bottom dollar that come end of the season Terry will be holding that cup.

Property Millionaires

It's official London now has 46,668 millionaires.Thanks to the exponential increase in property prices over the decade. London is not the only area where many people have been rocketed into the millionaires` league.It`s a country-wide phenomenon.

This has serious implications though. Not least the issue of inheritance tax and capital gains tax.The former being the major thorn in the flesh of most home owners.The Inheritance Tax was designed to re- distribute wealth- basic argument for most taxes,whereby the Treasury creams off the estates of deceased wealthy people.Now that is not the case any more because more and more of us now fall in the `wealthy` category based on the threshold where the tax sets in.Presently,an estate(read property,since that is the single most valuable asset most of us have) worth less than £285k does not incur Inheritance tax,but go any higher than that and the taxman hits you with a whopping 40% charge. And there is the rub of the whole matter. Why should people work all their lives to pay the mortgage,renovate and maintain their properties then forfeit most of the accrued equity on such holdings to the government after their demise. The irony is the superbly wealthy for whom the tax was designed do not always pay.Why? How?

They have experienced professional tax advisers who handle their financial affairs. Chief of this is how to minimise their tax liabilities or even to pay nil tax where possible.Tax avoidance is not illegal.Tax evasion is! So get planning how to keep that profit from the taxman.

London2012 Olympics Budget Muddle

What is it with us and planning a project, delivering it on time and on budget?.Cue The Millenium dome,Wembley Stadium,NHS Information Technology infrastructure and many others.Now a week barely passes without ramblings from the seemingly clueless people charged with delivering such showcase event as the Olympics. No one seems to know what exactly is happening regarding a host of issues connected to the project.The Olympics Minister Tessa Jowel admitted that she has no idea.The certainty is that the Games would cost Londoners more. Considerably more! The original budget for the extravanga was something like £2.4b but now a sum of £3.3b is being mouthed. Analysts reckon we should make that £5b.Sighs.

Highly commendable of Vince Cable,Liberal Democrats Shadow Chancellor to put down a list of parliamentary questions regarding the issue.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ode To A Watering Hole

CUBA on Kensington High Street has shut for business. This is sad news indeed. I was informed of the impending closure during the World Cup. It has been a feature on High Street Kensington for years. It will always hold memories for me personally.Many a newly-met date have been convinced after the mesmerising dishes on offer in the restaurant followed by the hips-moving music supplied downstairs in the club.

As the years went by,the family came along(wife and two daughters)and the venue was where to go for a decent meal ,drinks and some footie watching.Im sure a lot of West Londoners will miss Cuba too.

From what i heard the club was bought by some Russians and would be replaced with a Russian restaurant.

Best Thai In West London

There is a little gem in a corner of West London i discovered lately.if you live in or around Ealing and you love Thai food then you are in heaven.Just make your way to Thandwell on Uxbridge Road,just by the intersection with Lower Boston Road opposite the Peugeot dealership.

Stumbled on this restaurant with a friend from out of town who is passionate about Thai cuisine,having spent time travelling around that part of the world.The food was authentic and exquisite.The decor interesting,simple and warm creating such a relaxing ambience.And according to my companion, is straight out of Thailand. Added to this was the service. Friendly,efficient and cordial.Great!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Was watching The Prime Minister address journalists earlier this week and he was in such a fiery mood i thought wow .There was a point he shot a journalist [who kept prodding him] a stern , piercing and menacing look that said `Thats it. Lets take this outside you so and so`. He could as well have because what he said and the tone he said it was filled with venom. He said something like `Do you mind? Thats all i am saying on the matter`.
Then came midweek and the Queen`s speech.Responding to the speech,Tony Bair let rip on David Cameron saying`The next election , it will be a flyweight versus a heavyweight, and however much he may dance around the ring before times, at some point he will come within the reach of a big clunking fist.He will be carried out........` What a fighting talk.
It begs the question what is happening to the Prime Minister? Ok this is just an allegory but the choice of such violence to depict what in his view will be the result of the next general elections and the ealier incident in the week is quite remarkable.Could it be he just stumbled on a copy of Scarface in which Al Pacino played a shoot-them -down -no- nonsense character called er er Tony.

Since our Tony is the most talented actor moonlighting as Prime Minister i see a successful career in hollywood beckoning.Afterall Arnold Swazernegger offered him a part in Terminator 4. How else can he show his hard-man credentials?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sex Appeal

Recent Polls show David Cameron is ahead of Gordon Brown in the sex appeal stakes.The Times/Populus show that women backed Cameron by 42% to 32% over Brown.Well no surprises there ,the dude is younger for heaven`s sake.No matter how you want to couch it Cameron is a hip Notting Hill uber-yuppie. An attribute that could not have been lost on the women populace. Remember comparing John Major and Blair in those days.I rest my case.
Only William Hague bucked the trend. He never swayed the female votes(well the male too) even though he is younger than Tony Blair.Ever heard of the oldest young man?

Still on the sex appeal issue, but now closer to home. I thought it was only me then i found a lot of people think so too.What am i talking about? Helen Mirren.Thats what.I hear she has just been voted the sexiest woman over 60.To be honest i do not know who conducted the vote or where but hey i dont care.That woman`s been making my heart skip a beat for decades.I careless if Helen Mirren is as old as Methuselah ,i sure would like to spend some time with her.Now did i really say that ? Kind of sad but hey i can`t lie.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Congestion Charging Could Cost £100m

Dont know what to make of these findings that the Congestion Charging Extension Scheme could cost £100m and be less beneficial -in financial terms anyway.Here is the story:

Home » News » London: Western expansion could cost £100M London: Western expansion could cost £100M

Sponsored by the Municipal Journal

Mayor Ken Livingstone has announced he will go ahead and double London's charging zone, despite doubts about the controversial scheme's cost-effectiveness.
The costs of expanding the zone westward could outweigh the benefits by £100M over 10 years, according to Transport for London's own analysis.
A separate assessment of the impact on TfL's finances indicates that it could be 10 years before the scheme breaks even.
Extending the daily £8 charge to the rest of Westminster and parts of Kensington & Chelsea in February 2007 ? four years after the first cordon scheme's introduction ? will cost £113-118M to set up, and a further £25M for traffic management.
TfL expects to cut traffic by 10-14%, while raising £55-75M in charges and penalties, depending on driver 'sensitivity' to the new charging area.
But a series of concessions, following a hostile public consultation, will erode the benefits and income arising for public transport. The discount zone for residents will be bigger than first proposed, and two more additions ? in Kennington and north Battersea ? are set to follow.
The mayor has also decided to end charging a half-hour earlier at 6pm from September next year, and give drivers an extra 24 hours to pay up, at a higher cost of £10, to avoid penalties.
Income from the current central zone will fall by up to £9M a year, while 'pay next day' loses another £8-11M in the short term.
TfL stresses that the extension will still raise £25-40M annually in net revenue, but that does not include the upfront costs and £11-15M a year for extra buses.
The number of drivers willing to pay has to be at the upper end of TfL's expectations, if it is to even begin recouping its investment within five years. That, however, would mean a cost/benefit ratio of less than one, and poor value for taxpayers.
Livingstone's statement admitted this would be criticised at a public inquiry, which legal counsel advise is not essential.
He was persuaded to go ahead because of the scheme's 'strategic fit' with his transport goals of cutting congestion and promoting public transport.
Livingstone said he regretted the 2% increase in central zone traffic but levels would still be 15% below pre-charging levels.
Kensington & Chelsea leader Merrick Cockell welcomed the 90% discount for all its residents, but insisted that congestion levels did not justify an unpopular move that would harm business.
His opposition was echoed by the AA, freight industry and business group London First.
London Assembly Greens predicted that extending the zone would again defy predictions of doom, while Transport 2000 saw it as a first stop to capital-wide charging.

Blogger Beta Is No Better

I normally steer clear of programmes in Beta stages.Experienced has taught me it is better to wait for all the problems that might crop up in the testing phase to be sorted out before installing such programmes.I wish i stuck to this dictat and not switch from the classic Blogger to this Beta one.Videos dont play anymore,the whole page takes longer to load , have to sign in first into the old Blogger then into the this one and what have you.

Only difference i noticed so far is the time it takes to republish.Just hit the publish button and it`s done.So little improvement for so much aggro.

So im just going to leave this Clinton video till Blogger sorts all the problems out and embedded videos start playing again on it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Clinton On War Path

Clinton seemed primed for this interview.Poor dude was just doing his employer`s bidding as pointed out by the former President. I think Clinton came out in a passionate,upfront and somewhat impressive light than the people at Fox might have envisaged. Though some say he lost his rags and bla bla bla. We see through his responses the inner workings of Capitol Hill.The various efforts made to neutralize Osama.Candid, passionate he was.Ruffled yeah,probably but measured.The allegation that he did not deal with the threat poised by Osama is a grave one.The upshot being he was negligent in nipping a growing menace in the bud,a menace which then grew to such level and might to inflict such carnage on America and Americans as witnessed on 9/11.We all know how high Osama rated on Dubya`s list.As Clinton said at least he tried , but what did the Bush administration do between the time he(Clinton)left office and the attacks?

I go a bit further, what has the administration done about Osama between the time Clinton left office and now.Nada,zilch,.Yeah that is right,nothing.Well, more or less. A man commits such attrocities against Americans , on American soil and 5 years on he is still breathing God`s air,honing his skills as a video director.Yet we have the American President beating his chests everyday,delivering speeches written by ideologues who, mostly need to have their heads checked.Mr Bush is on a trophy hunt and the prize is that vermin Saddam Hussein , so he had and has not much time for Osama.Personally, i do not dabble into the Iraqi issue anymore.Suffice to say i hold my nose anytime the American invasion of the country comes up.

I think a large swathe of America feel the same as i do and today they will make this known by voting en masse against the Republicans in the midterm elections.The Reps are set to lose the House of Represantives and would be very fortunate indeed to hold the Senate.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Prime Minister`s Question Time:Michael Martin vs David Cameron

What an interesting encounter it was between Michael Martin and David Cameron during this week`s Prime Minister`s Question Time.Cameron was going to ask The Prime Minister who he wanted to see as his successor but was prevented from doing so by Martin.On the basis that he should confine himself to relevant matters only.Cameron then replied `are you honestly saying ........` to which Martin to his credit wittily replied `everything said on this chair is honest`

Some people took umbrage at the Speaker`s action while some derided Cameron for his choice of word.The word in question being`honest`.I personally deem the exchange quite interesting.English as a language is very dynamic and contextual.A word can convey different meanings in different contexts.Honest, as used by Cameron in this case was not to question the integrity or call the Speaker Of The House a liar but to express incredulity.

There is a subtext here.Younger people mostly use honest in this way.`Honest` in this context has more to do with relativity and surprise than anything else.So when someone says`are you honestly......` they are not saying you are fibbing (well not necessarily) but more likely to mean `are you really,seriously,surely,positively saying...` . Well i consider myself a member of the younger generation in this instance.Yours truly turned the big 40 this August.

Cameron was just doing his job for asking the question and Martin was doing his in taking the action he took.What is notable and probably laughable is the fact that Cameron did ask the question afterall.So makes you wonder what the fuss was all about all along.Next time David Cameron should sneak such questions into other main questions.You can`t lose that way.The Prime Minister would have to give one answer or the other or ignore it.Either way it is in the public domain.As a seasoned politician he should know how to do this.Though seemingly dormant for now ,we know the Labour leadership issue is festering and would continue to do so.Not until the party chooses a new leader.By a process of election or coronation.

We also know the relevance of the question or why Cameron would want to put the Labour leadership imbroglio on the front pages again:The American mid -term elections coming up next week.All indications are that the Republicans are going to lose the House of Represantives and would be lucky not to lose the senate too.Why? George Bush.Mr Blair`s friend or who some more cynical people call his master.If as expected, Americans show there disapproval of Bush`s policies, notably the handling of the iraqi issue,by voting en-masse against the Republicans the backlash here would be immense for the Prime Minister.Chiefly the call for him to step down.

We wait and see.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Pubs To Be Football Free Zone?

Hey what is going on? Football and beer have for long been partners so what is one to make of talk that a lot of pub companies are asking for a refund on their TV licences and getting rid of the Plasma screens.According to reports family groups and football fans are two opposing customers and since the family group tend to spend more in Pubs than your average footie lover just out to see his team play,then the football fan has to go.What?!! Which pubs have they been going? Imagine these pub companies raking in millions just a few months ago,thanks to the world cup and now the football loving customer is a nuisance to be rid of.Sighs.

Personally i do not imbibe lager that much.As i revealed before i like one or two glasses of wine now and then.But nothing beats being in pub on a cushy leather sofa,glass of Campo Viejo or Faustino in hand watching Chelsea pummel another sucker club.So if all these killjoy pub owners stop showing football in their pubs what is going to happen? I see subscription to Skysports as the only answer.

To Veil Or Not To Veil

The brouhaha that greeted Jack Straw`s revelation that he asks Muslim women who come to see him in his constituency office dressed in the Hijab to reveal their faces was to be expected.Personally, i think the whole debate is a storm in a tea-pot.

If any Muslim lady chooses to cover herself from head to sole that is her prerogative. Some folks argue that foreign women living in or visiting Islamic countries respect the local sartorial code thus Muslim women living here should be made to dress like their Western peers.I do not subscribe to this view at all.Two wrongs do not make a right.If we were to adopt this approach,whereby the state decides what you can and can not wear ,what then would be the difference between the the UK and other authoritarian societies? We might as well substitute the Labour Party for The Taliban.Any state intervention in such matters to my mind would not only make us guilty of hypocrisy - denouncing authocratic,oppresive regimes abroad while borrowing from their philosophy when it makes us more convenient but perhaps more poignantly negate the most fundamental bedrock of democracy:the freedom of individual choice.

However,if a Muslim woman works in an environment that requires a standard uniform ,then i dont think she should be allowed to wear anything else but the uniform as worn by other members of staff.The choice is clear and simple- wear your Hijab or whatever you please but once you to work you must present yourself in accordance with the image policy of your employers.If the employer rules out covering your face then thats it.That is not bigotry or racism at all.
You have a choice of taking the position and comply with the stipulation or look for one that accomodates your fashion style.Period.

I remain somewhat skeptical of Jack Staw`s motives in raising the issue at this particular time the way he did.One thing i am certain of however is that politicians always seek to make gains from issues and causes.They are less concerned about real progress or solutions.I can hazard a few guesses why old Jack came out with the veil palaver but i wont bother.Know any?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Damien Hirst Guilty of Plagiarism?

A London resident,Robert Dixon claims celebrated enfant terrible of Modern British art Damien Hirst copied his work.Well nothing wrong in anyone engaged in the creative arts taking inspirations form an existing work but this particular case leaves a sour taste in my mouth.Mr Dixon claims his painting,True Daisy is not just a replica of Hirst`s Valium but a direct reproduction which only could have been achieved by tracing.

Put simply Mr Hirst laid his mitts on poor Dixons original design, got himself some good tracing paper, locked himself in his studio and went to work! Mr Dixon is just a former graphic artist and a former research associate at the Royal College Of Art while Hirst is of course probably the most celebrated and acclaimed artist around these shores at present.Meaning his works command million of pounds.This is the context in which the this affair is to be seen.

Friday, October 27, 2006

London 2012 Olympics

The boss of the Olympics Delivery Authority Jack Lemley resigned his appointment recently. Citing the need to devote time to his construction business as the reason for his action. I do not get it at all.The man knew he had personal business to attend to but took the job anyway.Not just any other job at that if it must be said.Its the whole Olympics infrastructure we are talking about here.Such time- sensitive projects can do without unstable overseers like Mr Lemley.

Londoners will be justified to be paranoid about the olympic project being delivered on schedule thanks to the Wembley fiasco.So this ship -jumping by the man charged with the task of making sure London has the right facilities for the greatest sports extravanga is to be viewed with some concern.On the brighter side , it is better he left now at this relatively early stage . I hope the Authority will find the right candidate for the position.One who has not only the pedigree but also will also be dedicated and commited to the job.

Meanwhile here is a link to the London Olympics website.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ballack, Chevchenko Break Duck

What a momentous and eventful fortnight it has been for Chelsea FC. Started with the drama at the Reading game.Having the two goal-keepers severely injured , then having to call in third choice goal-keeper Hilario for a match against possibly the most complete team in Europe at the moment.He was not only impressive but played his role in defeating Barcelona and putting us in the driving seat for the return macth.

Then came last week-end`s encounter with Portsmouth.We all know that a meeting with Portsmouth this season is always going to be a tricky affair.Harry Redknap is doing a good job with his army of veterans most of whom have been household names in bigger clubs and quite experienced.However the story of the day is the glorious fact that Chevchenko and Ballack registered their names on the Premiership scorers` list.God knows they needed that.Even though both were booked for excessive celebration i think the cards were well earned .They needed to celebrate.I always wanted Chevchenko to come to Chelsea for a long time .Maybe three to four years ago.I always fantasised Chelsea playing Chevchenko just in front of another player after my heart-Paved Nedved.No doubt about it Chevchenko is a class act. Quality does not get any higher than that.I hope now that he has broken the duck, we get to see what stuff he is really made of.

So you see how notable the past two weeks have been for the club? I wish Jose Mourinho will go easy on this conspiracy against Chelsea trip. I like him and i think he is good at his job but when he adduces everything that doesnt favour Chelsea to some conspiracies against the club, he belittles himself and the club. I noticed he complained about the cards given to Ballack and Chevchenko on Saturday for excessive celebration.He compared that to what happened at the Arsenal match where Fabregas , i think, did the same and wasn`t booked.Well Jose, referees are not consistent sometimes and every instance of inconsitency does not necessarily imply conspiracy. He knows as well as everybody that such celebrations do invite and are duly rewarded with a yellow from the man in black.So the point of raising that on such an epoch making day for the club in general and the two players in particular does not strike me as brilliant.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tesco And Under-Aged Drinking

I read a story in the papers how a 43 year old was refused service at the alcohol department in her local Tesco. Mrs Portbury (no pun intended,that is her name) went to get a case of lager with two of her kids in tow. She was refused the sale because the cashier feared she might give the said booze to her teen-aged son accompany her. Umm since when did Tesco cashiers became Social Workers i found myself wondering. Mrs Portbury promptly sauntered down to the nearest Sainsbury where her yearning to sate her thirst were granted.Good.

The incident has a familiar ring to it. A female acquaintance of mine from Glasgow was in London a few weeks ago for the 100% Design Exhibition. After a long day of exhibiting or should that be exhibition, what else would be as nice as a bottle of nice full bodied pinot or a rioja.Well i suggested my favourite tipple which is Campo Viejo Rioja.Nice red wine if there is any.My friend decided to take the short walk to Tesco and acquire this said bottle of wine.Happened that when our Glasgow visitor was in the queue , bottle of wine in hand, the cashier on the till was casting glances at her.Why? She thought. She didn`t know but her make-up was not smudged nor was any part of her anatomy not meant for public consumption on display .Well , maybe it is a feature of Londoners to shoot stares at ladies she decided.On finally getting to the head of the queue, the said cashier shot her the final arrowing stare , cast a glance at her hand(Rioja proudly held) thence informed her it was Tesco`s policy not to sell alcohol to under-aged people plus if she would like to purchase that bottle she was cuddling she would have to produce some identification. Did i mention this lady was a 34 year old designer from Glasgow?

So the penny dropped:Those stares were meant to tell her `what do you think you are doing with that bottle of wine`?. My friend who is of a good disposition explained who she was and backed it up with her ID.She felt quite embarassed by the whole affair. However she saw the funny side of the episode later. Thanks partly to you know what.

I know female vanity makes a woman glad if deemed younger than she really is .But 38-18 is a wide gap.So denying service to a 34 year while mistaken said 34 year old for an under 18 year old is not taking the biscuit but the whole Nasco corporation.

I am all for stamping down on under-age drinking but the balance has got to be right.The incident invloving Mrs Portbury and my dear friend are not acceptable at all.Imagine my friend didnt have any ID with her age on her that evening?

London Congestion Charging Extension

Well christmas has come early for our mayor Ken Livingstone.First he got his wishes to extend the Congestion Charging scheme despite considerable unpopularity of the scheme with businesses and residents.Most argue that the congestion charging has not really alleviated the chaotic traffic situation in London and some businesses complain of losing trade as a result of the scheme not to talk of the added expense on such concerns.Then Ken got his guilty verdict on the `Nazi Guard` brouhaha overturned on appeal. He was accused of bringing his office into disrepute by calling an Evening Standard reporter a Nazi concentration camp guard.According to him he would have been bankrupt if he lost the appeal. Can`t say some Londoners wouldn`t drink to that though. So the turkey is going to be big at chez Livingstone this chritmas.

Back to the congestion charging issue.From the 19th February 2007,the Congestion Charging zone will be extended to the west to cover Bayswater,Notting Hill, North and South Kensington, High Street Kensington, knightsbridge, Belgravia and Pimlico.

Points to Remember

There is still no charge for driving around the boundary roads of the whole Congestion Charge zone.

No charge through the zone from east to west along the Westway and from north to south along Edgware Road, Park Lane and Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Residents living in:Euston Road,Marylebone Road,Paddington,Harrow Road,Warwick Road and Earl`s Court Road may also apply for a resident`s 90% discount even though they live outside the zone.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chelsea Beats Barcelona

To say Chelsea has put London in the limelight in recent years is no gainsaying.As a frequent traveller especially in Europe,it takes only a few sentences after learning that i am a Londoner before the conversation involves Chelsea.Only Paul Scholes of Manchester United seems so popular abroad-strange that. Given the fact that he is not that celebrated at home.Anyway i am glad to be a londoner and a supporter of a club that brings pride to the city.

Last night`s Champions League encounter with our perennial `enemies ` Barcelona was always going to be a tricky affair. why ? With regards to the freakish incidents on saturday whereby Czech was stretchered off with a serious head injury then Cudicini was clobbered and had to be carried off too.Absurd or what? Two world class keepers taken out of action in the same match and having the small problem of playing Barcelona a couple of days after! Wonder why people say football management is a stressful job.

Well Hilario,the third choice goal-keeper proved an able substitute! Every time he was tested he lived up to the occasion.It was important to establish himsef early in the game as no make weight or a push-over because that would have increased Barca`s confidence and lead to pressure on him and his defence .This he did splendidly. I am confident he is a worthy member of the team.

I was petrified of rumours of Fabian Bartez being lined up for the post.Barthez?Ask for reference from Alex Ferguson first. I am sure Bartez was contributory to Alex Ferguson`s heart condition during his stay in United.So was quite relieved to find it was one of those urban tales thats nobody really knows who,where or how it started.Bartez on his day is as good as the best of them,but as bad as the worst on a lot of days for manager`s health.There you go.

Even though its only a one goal margin its still a very good win.If we can go to there and play as we did last night who knows we might even beat them 3-1 or something like that.We created a lot of chances last night . Chances so blatant they should have been converted.Matter of fact the scoreline should have read 3-0. Like i said we are not in a bad situation at all for the return leg.One thing is certain though Barcelona will score at home.

Go blues!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

London Fashion Week:Paul Smith On Thin Models

The London Fashion Week is underway and observers are waiting to see if the organisers would take a cue from their Spanish counterparts and ban uber-thin models from appearing in the show would have to wait a little longer.The usual suspects were on parade at the Paul Smith shows and others like BIBA: Those whose BMI would make the health police cringe.

Whats is peculiar about the Paul Smith show is the fact that his sartorial eminence Sir Paul had these stick-like girls strutting their stuff in his robes yet was talking about something needing to be done to fight the waif-is best notion in fashion.Talking about eating your cake and having it .

Saturday, September 16, 2006

BAA Advice On Travelling And Shopping At The Airport

To speed your up your journey through the airport, here are some useful tips on regarding what you can take through security, what you can buy in the departure lounge, and what you can take on to the plane.

What you can take through security
One piece of luggage that measures no more than 45cm x 35cm x 16cm.Certain restrictions apply regarding the contents of this luggage , please refer to for more details.

What you can buy in the departure lounge.
You can shop as usual, and take advantage of the wide selection of famous brands and great restaurants in the departure lounge.

What you can take on to the plane.
You can take everything you purchased in the departure lounge on to the plane with you, in addition to your one piece of luggage, unless you are travelling to the USA.

If you are travelling to the USA.
The only restriction after security is that you are unable to take liquids and the gels on to the plane .End

That is what the situation is as of today.However its been in the media that these restrictions will be eased sooner than later.What to make of this news i dont really know.With the likes of Ryanair threatening to take baa to court regarding the present situation, one would not be too off the mark to think this might just be a move to stall such court actions.Plus the fact that the idea would placate an ever increasing public angst.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Madrid Fashion Week And Thin Models

We learned earlier in the week that the organisers of the Madrid Fashion Week ,the premier fashion event showcasing the best of Spanish fashion design have refused to let any super-thin model take part in the show.The matter revolves around what is accepted as a normal weight for a healthy individual.According to them any model with a less than 18 body mass index(BMI) should keep walking .....dont bother turn up.

BMI?The fashion world is not really known for being erudite or concerned about anything besides what colour is in this season or who the next supermodel is.So such high falluting terms like BMI must be news to most in the industry.Lets face it its news to most of us as well.BMI is the proportion of body weight to height .It is calculated by multiplying your height then divide that by your weight.The United Nations recommend a BMI 0f between 18.5 to 25.That means any individual with BMI below or above this range needs medical attention.Er er maybe not quite but more or less.

So models like Kate Moss would not qualify to appear in the show because her BMI is not up to 18.I remember seeing a caption on a t-shirt somewhere last summer that read`feed kate moss`.How quaint.

There are however serious issues attached to this seemingly trivial affair.One is the human right/discrimination issue.Banned models may argue that they are being unjustly discriminated against.Another is the health concerns.By making this move, the Madrid fashion Week even though seemed to be acting under pressure from the government have brought into focus health issues like bulimia,its causes and its perception among young people especially impressionable young females.

By banning super-thin models from the show they are telling the world that you do not have to be thin to the point of being unhealhty to be deemed beautiful.A lot of young people put their health at risk to look like the thin models they see strutting the catwalk.

I hear James Blunt singing `You are beautiful`.Now where is that scale.I hope my BMI is not over 25.Must stop visiting that buffet in Shepherds Bush.I know for sure its not under 18.5.Whats yours?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Group Mortgages

First time buyers are being offered group mortgages by mortgage lenders.This is quite understandable given the rising cost of properties these days.The main issue here is the deposit needed to acquire a decent mortgage deal with any of the main- stream lenders.The average price of a property is now said to be £200,000 which is 8 times the average salary. So two or more people might pull resources together and apply for a joint mortgage.This might seem like a good idea at the start but anyone who has ever had a fall-out with a business partner or been through a divorce will know how unpalatable such matters can turn out.

HSBC said thier lending on such mortgages is up 50% on last year.This means people are signing up .Like everything else caveat emptor.
Blair On The Ropes

While The Sun got a leak about Tony`s plan to leave office,the `Tony Must Go` train was steaming towards Downing Street in full speed.Letters were being written,resignation seemed the order of the day-7 in total ,high powered meetings(slanging matches ) were held time and time again and finally we seem to know where things are heading.The Prime Minister we were told offered to leave within the next twelve months but the hawks were not having it.

Trying not to sound like a man under such intense pressure Tony Blair spoke to journalists today The Prime Minister told reporters this year`s conference would be his last as leader and that the Party should realize that the general public were not just by-standers in this issue of who their Prime Minister was .I wonder what we are to make of this .Was he just making a jibe at the backbenchers , reminding them that he was elected not by them but by the the voting public or was he looking for public sympathy and support?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Prime Minister Announces Departure Date

Tony Blair today revealed through The Sun that he would be leaving office next May.Some might treat this news with the utmost apathy while some other more cynical people might say good riddance to bad rubbish.One thing is clear though, not only has the Prime Minister made a lot of enemies over the years, he undoubtedly has lost a lot of respect and credibility. Both within the parliamentary labour party-especially the backbenches and within the party grassroots.As for the general public i think a large number cant help but wonder what exactly Tony is all about.A government characterised by spin,half truths,distorted facts and blatant lies.This Machiavellian approach to democracy is sadly what most would associate with a leader who otherwise would be a beacon for modern day democracy.What a shame!

The question now is, was the Prime Minister finally pushed to the wall by the hawks in the labour party who want him to set and announce a day to leave office or did he make these decisions on his own terms.

Now we hear some are saying they would like a leadership contest and not an automatic coronation for Gordon Brown.I wonder what Gordon Brown and his entourage would say about this.I think there might be trouble ahead for the Labour party.They have some thinking to do in the coming months.