Sunday, November 11, 2007

Religion Chinese Style

The Chinese never seem to have an apology for their repressive style of government. So unabashed are they about the lack of individual freedom in China they even vied for and won the honour of hosting the world for the 2008 Olympics. So the whole universe can come and witness first hand what life is like for ordinary Chinese citizens. The right to individual choice is an inalienable right every human being should enjoy. A right not enjoyed in China today.

I can not comprehend the fact that in 2007 someone could be imprisoned for being in possession of more than one Bible. Yes that is the law in China. What it has to do with the government if a man decides to fill his house with the literary efforts of some ancient chroniclers i fail to fathom.

So i wait in eager anticipation of the conundrum such draconian intrusion would throw up when the world descends on China for the Olympics next year.


I was at my old stomping ground Greenwich on Sunday. Not much has changed in the area. It warms the heart to see the Cutty Sark is being restored to it`s old glory. The ship has always been a notable point of interest in London.

The restoration is being financed by the Lottery Fund and the History Channel and is due for completion early next year.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Moment Of Truth Near For David Cameron?

The opinion polls have David Cameron dead and buried if Gordon Brown were to call the general election. Seems a lightyear away from the situation a couple of weeks ago when the Brown bounce lost considerable ounces and Cameron went on the rise. The Conservative leader sounded hollow yesterday delivering his speech at the party conference. Looking a bit worse for wear he revealed a raft of new policies. Now we know the conservatives would abolish stamp duty for first time buyers and raise the threshold for inheritance tax. Good. But would these new sweeteners be enough to stem the slide of support for Cameron and the conservatives?

Like someone remarked Cameron calling on the prime minister to bring the electoral fight on now is akin to a deathrow detainee clamouring for the executioner. That is a strong way of puttting it. Thought the Blair knockout prediction was scary enough. Only a divine intervention can save the Tory leader from this fate. Going by recent polls that is.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Channel 4 Axes Celebrity Big Brother

Channel 4 announced today that it axed the 2008 episode of the excreable Celebrity Big Brother. I do not know the principal reason for relieving our screens of this tomfoolery but i could not careless but have a celebratory drink. I have never been a fan of these so called reality television.

The genre is a fraud. Most of the so called celebrities are has-beens whose agents are looking for new angles to gain them publicity and revive their dead or flagging careers. And the show producers? Less said about that the better. Lets just say they have a script to which the characters in these shows are willy nilly made to work to. You get more reality watching a panto. I would gladly read the teletext backwards rather than watch programmes like Celebrity Big Brother.

I suggest they might as well get rid of Big Brother too. Such tawdry programmes would not be missed.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Boris Johnson For Mayor

I am not a betting man but if i was my money would be on Boris Johnson flying the flag for the Conservatives come next year`s mayoral election. I support the choice. I do not have anything against Bozza {as he is now referred to} but he is not having my vote. Not that i am a Livingstone sympathiser as well. I do not think Livingstone listens to the people of London or carry out the wishes of the majority of the city`s inhabitants and stakeholders. Unless the Liberal Democrats come forward with a creditable candidate with a half- decent chance of winning then i shall refrain from voting in the election.

What i would like for London is a charismatic,urbane,well travelled,business savvy character with a strong link to the city. Someone who knows the city well. Someone not shackled to or encumbered by political affiliations and ideology nor driven by the quest to make political gains or points. Someone who appreciates not only the need to sell London as a brand to the world so we can maintain a competitive edge over other world class cities, but also commited wholeheartedly to finding practical and lasting solutions to the challenges faced by Londoners.

Whose name comes to mind here. One Richard Branson. I think he fits the description of what kind of mayor i envisage for London. Proven business acumen,seen a fair bit of the world{owns a bit of it too}, is well conversant with London, has a fresh outlook and and is not lacking in charisma. Please Richard Branson, be our mayor.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Alan Johnston Freed

The kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston was freed earlier today. Hightime. We could do with a break from the gloom and doom occasioned by the weather and recent events in the country(flood wrecking havoc and attempted terrorist attacks).

It's highly immaterial what Hamas is or not. They delivered Mr Johnston and should be thanked for their efforts. His capture never made any sense in the first instance and i think Hamas recognised this fact.

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

BAE And Corruption

When is BAE going to shed this cloak of corruption it's adorned as a result of the Al-Yamamah deal with Saudi-Arabia? It will be a long time indeed before that C-word does not come to mind anytime BAE is mentioned. Some might even argue the company is tainted forever by the affair.

Not that the allegation has stopped BAE holding it's sway on and making tremendous inroads into the markets that matter, uniquely the American and Saudi markets . The manufacturing giant has a new deal known as Al Salaam to supply the Saudis with new 72 Eurofighter jets and just last week received approval from the Committee on foreign Investment in the United States for it's multi billion pound takeover of military ware manufaturer Amor Holdings.

The company has the government to thank for the pragmatic way it handled the investigation into the alleged payments to Prince Bandar bin Sultan to facilitate the Al Yamamah deal. One does not need a crystal ball to know that the investigation left to run its full course would have been gravely damaging to BAE in particular , British businesses and the British government in general.

It is however pertinent to ask at this juncture are there still such payments being made? Are there new safegurads to prevent a re-occurence ? Is the system more transparent now that any such `irregular`movement of funds would be too glaring and exposed for what it is?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Gordon Brown`s Cabinet

Nice guy Gordon eh? We now know our Prime Minister-in-waiting has been busy putting a team together for his government.What with the Northern Ireland job being offered to old Paddy. Shame though that he had to turn it down. I do comprehend why such a cross-party alliance(for that is what essentialy it is) would at best be cumbersome and at worst unworkable. Given for example the fundamental differences between Labour and the Liberals on matters such as the iraqi conflict. Not to mention the potential intra party rancour such appointments might bring about.

Cynics already point to Brown's broad based inclusive approach as just a masterstroke to weaken or break opposition when he eventually takes over in No10.I do not subscribe to that view at all. This is just the Chancellor trying to put together a team he believes he can work with and more relevantly up to the task.Not even the most cynical of cynics would question Ashdowns`s pedigree for such a position as he was offered.

Ana Paula Oliveira

Well that name most probabbly would not ring a bell.But remember where you heard it first. It belongs to a rare gem of a lady- a female footbal official. She is a notable linewswoman in Brazil. One of a few of her ilk there. Now Miss Oliveira is said to be appearing in the next issue of Playboy desnuda.

Some opine this might harm her career and ambitions as a referee but Miss Oliveira begs to differ. Matter of fact she has hopes of refereeing at the world Cup in the near future.The Brazilian Football Confederation has made it known it has no reservations about the lineswoman`s impending er er exposure. So Paula`s world Cup dream is still alive.

Can`t imagine the chants from leery fans anytime Miss Paula gives a decision. Especially to their team`s disadvantage.I think we need a Paula in the Premiership.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chelsea Wins The FA Cup

Honours were restored and respect shared when Chelsea won the FA cup yesterday by beating Manchester United 1 goal to nil.

It is of my strong opinion that had we not been plagued by the Petr Cech/John Terry drama we would have done the double. No question about that. That`s water under the bridge now.

The final analysis is that we ended the season with two major trophies and that can't be too bad.I wonder why Drogba made the front cover of the day`s official Chelsea Match Programme.Any guesses ?

PS: How come the old Wembley had a decent pitch and the new one can't.Telephone number sum spent on a playing field and the grass goes up in clumps like we witnessed yesterday? What is going on ?

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Blair Exit

The worst kept secret was officially out in the public realm yesterday. Of course it's the resignation of Tony Blair. Foes and friends alike have since been passing comments and holding up score cards. Its hard to score the Prime Minister less than 5 in all fairness.Which invariably means that even though he has not performed with distinction(vaguely admitted to and subtly blamed on `too high expectation` in his valedictory speech),Tony Blair passed.Without an iota of a doubt the Iraqi invasion and most poignantly his earthshaking performance in the House of Commons re the `45 minutes` claim proved to be damaging to his legacy.

The world is a stage and we are all actors. Anthony Blair has played his part as the
British Prime Minister for the past ten years and its fitting he bows out. I personally think it's no where near the end of the road for him.If anything it is the beginning. He has a lot on his side. How much would these multinationals pay to watch his accomplished theatrics and listen to his soundbites? Ok let the bidding start now. 250k.Anyone?

Monday, April 30, 2007

Face Of Fashion

I was at the National Picture Gallery this week and outside on a lifesize giant billboard they`ve got Kate Moss looking like someone in advanced stages of anorexia with the caption`The Face of Fashion`. Pardom me. The Face of fashion? Same Ms Moss of the white powder fame? Im no prude but i do not think Kate Moss has done anything to deserve such appellation. But thats debatable.

What is unassailable a fact is that it is shameful and and ill-advised for the boffins in the National Gallery to be party to such a campaign promoting so gaunt looking a model. What with all the talk about young impressionable women(mostly women) seriously harming themselves trying to live up to the image of beauty as portrayed by the fashion industry. And that is the crux of matter.

To have Kate Moss on that billboard at such a strategic position and at such a respected and well visited institution as The National Picture Gallery looking the way she does and adorned with that caption is a smack in the face for all interested in seeing a way forward and out of the `thin is beautiful`philosophy. All the billboard is saying simply, is you must look anorexic to be considered beautiful. That is not acceptable.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Conservatives And Mayor of London Election.

Two headlines are getting so boringly predicatble to me these days: Another bomb blast in Iraq killing ...... then someone turning down an offer to be the Conservative Party candidate for the next Mayor of London election. The issue wouldn`t have being that risible if William Hague didnt go on television last Sunday professing that the Party was not desperate for a suitable candidate for the seat. Not desperate? William please! Throw another one.John Major just said no this week.

Manchester United Wins The League

Yes United won the Premiership title today as far as im concerned. Chelsea gifted United the title by failing to beat Bolton . We started well enough and so confident was i in the balance of play that i wasn`t the least bothered when Bolton went ahead. Was taking a call from Morag then and i said `Hold on Bolton just scored but go on it doesnt matter we will beat them`. True we pulled one back then went ahead. Only heavens know what Mourinho said to them at the interval. Chelsea were just flat in the second half. Why did he pull Shevchenko off so early like that? It was a different team that came out in the second half. I was even getting embarassed when it seemed all we were doing was sending long balls to Drogba. Completely bereft of ideas.

With three games left in the Premiership season there is no way we can catch United now. A glance at the rest of Chelsea`s fixtures and United`s is enough to quell any fantasy or illusion of turning the tables against The Red Devils. We have Arsenal,United then Everton to contend with while United have ourselves and two of English Football`s finest, Manchester City and West Ham to deal with! See why i said United got the League today?

Personally i think we showed some spirit to be where we are now in the Premiership. The League was lost way back in January. I said so in my post then. Lets hope we play better against Liverpool in the Champions League return leg.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sarkozy vs Royal As Expected

The French elections result threw up no main surprises. In that Nicolas Sarkozy polled the highest number of votes 31.2% and coming in second place,Ms Royal with 25.9% of the total vote.What is quite remarkable is the high turn out of voters.This indicates that despite widespread disillusionment with politics and politicians people still made the effort to partake in the political process.84% of the voting populace took part in the election. This is quite an enviable figure.

So the dye is cast for a showdown between Sarkozy and Royal on May 6. I think Sarkozy is going to be the man in the Ellysee come May.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Have been following the French Presidential race with muted but ever growing interest.Its twist and turns will make a brilliant backdrop for a political drama. The main dramatis personae being the controversial UMP candidate Nicolas Sarzoky and the gaffe prone but sexy (yes,it has to be said) Segolene Royal representing the PS.Of course there is Francois Bayrou of the Centrist Party. Jean Le penn is still there kicking too. Only recently shot a salvo at Mr Sarkozy labelling him as not being French enough to be the French President.A reference to the fact that Sarkozy is the son of a Hungarian immigrant and a French mother of Jewish and Greek extraction.

Also recently,Nicolas is alleged to have made a pact with Chirac to let the him off the hook with regards to allegations of financial irregularities(fraud in short) if he wins the elections.In return he gets Chirac`s support for the fight for the presidential seat. A suppport that Sarkozy could undoubtedly do with.Even though all indications are that Mr Sarkozy is in the pole position at the moment Ms Royal can not be written off just yet.Come April 22 and finally May 6 all will be revealed.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Des Browne,The Press And The Navy

I have never been impressed by the Defence Secretary Des Browne.The recent fiasco concerning the freed naval personnel taken captive by the Iranians has only underlined any reservations one might have about Mr Browne. It`s now universally accepted that the naval officers were wrong to commercialise their experience by selling their stories to the Press. What has Mr Browne has to say? Not much other than he wasn`t informed before the decision was taking but only asked `to take note`afterwards. What did he do? Er er he did nothing. It was only after it generated so much backlash and disapproval that he thought fit to take action. Now the rule is to be enforced to stop future reoccurence of this inane and banal scenario. It is akin to locking the stable doors when the horse has bolted. On the whole the Defence Secretary comes across as not being in control of his department at all.

Without making light of the harrowing impression that could have been left on the officers` minds by their captivity i think the whole matter has been blown out of proportion.Bearing in mind that thousands of servicemen have lost their lives or been permanently damaged by injury sustained in this phony adventure otherwise referred to as war on terror,operation iraqui freedom bla bla or other nomenclature that catches Tony or Goerge`s fancy.So what has our Tony got to say about it all ? Of course the Prime Minister in his typical infinite self righteous moral highground mode went all rhetorical "Was it a good idea,No.Do i believe it would happen again? No. Were the people acting in completely good faith and honourably as far as the Navy were concerned ? Yes they were." There you go.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Spanish Armada

Barely a fortnight ago shareholders of ScottishPower rubberstamped the Scottish company`s takeover bid by the Spanish power company Iberdrola. ScottishPower joined the veritable list of British businesses now under Spanish control. Banco Santander took over Abbey National in 2004, 02 the mobile phone company is now owned by the Spanish telecom company Telefonica while the biggest scalp is arguably the takeover of BAA (British Aiports Authority) last year by Ferrovial.

None of these takeovers however evoked more emotions than this latest one. Once the European Union okayed the bid i knew Iberdrola had the deal in the bag. Convincing the shareholders as to the benefits of the bid was never going to be a hard task. When people stand to make immediate gains any other considerations or values tend to take second place. What was on offer was too tempting for the majority of the shareholders.So the overwhelming majority voted in favour. Just as expected i must say.

One wonders what next for the Spanish marauders.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Fortnightly Rubbish Collections

How does one make sense out of this report that The Department For Rural Affairs and The Envinronment(DEFRA) has given councils the greenlight to start collecting household rubbish once a fortnight as opposed to the present once a week collection.Is this a joke or what?

Given the stratopheric rise in council tax in recent years one would expect the goverment via the councils to aim for better and improved services for taxpayers. I remember moaning to a Greenwich Council councillor while a resident of that borough about the level of my council tax and the return i got for it. Now with this once a forthight collection the tax is going to be even less value for money.

The argument that collecting rubbish once every two weeks would help recycling is as banal as its cynical.As it is, London for all its glory is a lot dirtier than most capitals i have visited.This fact is not lost on many visitors from abroad. So collecting rubbish once a fortnight would only make the city more rubbish-ridden.What is the decency,logic or fairness in hiking up taxes then reducing the value and efficiency of same services for which the taxes are supposed to be meant for.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Chelsea Chelsea

What a joy to behold when Kalou netted the equalizer in today`s FA Cup Quater final against Tottenham Hotspurs.Spurs really came for a fight and we were not in our best shape. Something kept telling me though that we would not lose that game. I was right.
Hey if anyone has a baby boy this season i recommend the tot be christened Frank Didier Kalou. Ok Didier did not score but his well placed header provided the chance for a fantastic volley by Kalou. Plus Drogba`s been simply magic this season.
Did i say before that Essien be kept out of the 18 yard area? That boy is not a defender.When will Jose realize this. Jose should tell him to please stay clear of the box as much as possible. He is a briliant midfielder but his instincts are not of a defender.
Chelsea have shown within the last few days that they are not just a pack of preening overpaid primadonnas but a team that can rise to its feet when close to defeat. We are the Champions for God`s sake.The earlier these clubs realize that the better. I see us beating Spurs 2-1 in the replay.
The Hand And Flower pub on Kensington High Street was the impromptu last minute venue of the match.No regrets however: Charming barmaids;extra cold Kronenbourg 1664 ;Kalou levelling for us barely 5 minutes to go....Wasnt bad at all.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hygiene At The House Of Commons

We now know the reason why some MPs seem comatose during debates and why some seem to suffer from verbal diarrhoea:Possible food poisoning.
Recent inspection of the restaurants in the building revealed serious lapses in food safety standards.

Of all the listed sins,the one that really caught my eyes is sandwiches being sold four days after preparation.Four days? What would you expect from a man who just had a four day old prawn sandwich? Rubbish of course.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Carbon Offset

Ok the message seems to have gotten through to most of us that we not only need to change the way we live to reduce global warming but also must do our bit to improve the environment. How else to contribute one's quota to a healthier environment than carbon offsetting. Of course in principle it is a good laudable idea. In reality most do not grasp the complexity of the scheme while others do not set much stock by its integrity.
I find this piece in The Guardian about the issue most apt and interesting.

Manchester United 1-Lille 0

Last night`s Champions League match between Manchester United and the French side Lille proved to be a good showpiece for the game. Well as far as i am concerned. It proved what i have always said to those who claim there is nothing worth appreciating in a bunch of overpaid millionaires chasing after a piece of inflated leather. The game of football is as good as any opera.It's of such dramatic richness even Shakespeare would be appreciative of. Every genre of comedy is well represented in the game. Not only the players are on stage, the coaching staff and the fans too take part in this interactive open air affair the Romans would have envied.

Take what happened last night in Lille. First the French team had a seemingly legal goal disallowed in the first half of the match. Then came the free kick towards the end of the game. Luis Saha was fouled just outside the Lille 18 yard box,the referee whistled for a foul and as the French were just building their defensive wall Ryan Giggs whipped the ball straight into the net without waiting for the go ahead by the referee. Goal disallowed? Er er no. Were the Lille players in place,ready to defend the kick? No. Did the referee signal the go-ahead? Er er No.Were the French players right to feel aggrieved ? Yes,naturally.
So aggrieved were they that their coaching team signalled to them to leave the pitch. Which they did. Alex Ferguson was mad at his players for milling outside the field with the French players. He even seemed to shove Gary Neville. According to him Lille should be dealt with seriously by EUFA. I beg to disagree with Ferguson on this. Yes there were missiles thrown at United players after this but missiles probably would have been thrown anyway without the Lille bench calling their players off the field. They were angry at what they perceived as poor officiating with regards to the disallowed goal and the dodgy goal by Giggs. So i dont see why Eufa need to take any special action against the club. Of course emotions were high but that to me was quite logical given the events. If anything it just added to the whole entertainment value.

There is going to be a lot of pressure and temptation on the new Eufa President Michel Platini to use this match as a warning of what to expect under his regime.I know the game needs some cleaning up but this is not the occasion to flex any muscle Michel

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

London Letter Bombs

What is going on ?.First it was the IRA,that was kind of sorted out by Tony who then got bored of not seeing Londoners bombed to bits so invited the Al-Queda and just as we seem to be getting used to losing leg and limb for daring to venture out we have some fellow/fellows(yet unknown)aiming to maim Londoners by mail.

A pattern is emerging in the episode. Seems someone or some people with a grudge against the Government and its policy(read seemingly unjustifiable,indirect taxation of car owners) have decided to take matters into their own hands.The first attack was on the offices of Capita. An outsourcing firm that handles the payments for the congestion charging scheme. We know the extension to the scheme is coming in less than a fortnight. Could this be a protest against the extension?

The DVLA in Swansea has also been sent one of these mail bombs. Surely some very very unhappy motorist has an axe to grind. Sending mails to these places would not bring any fruitful result. It only places ordinary pen-pushers going about their job in serious jeopardy.They do not make the decisoions in these places. Sooner the mail bomber realizes this the better.

Sol Kerzner:Cat That Got The Cream

To say that most expected the super Casino bid to be awarded to the Millennium Dome would be a waste of breath. A respected blogger even said on his blog early on that day just before the bid was announced that he was so sure the Phillip Anschutz led consortium had the contract in the bag and if it transpired otherwise then he was a Dutch man. He's probably changed his name to Van Wrong by now.Can't be that bad being Dutch though. At least he gets to eat some decent cheese and visit cafes and bars that serve something a wee stronger than your average latte here.If he is of that persuasion that is.

Anyhow, now the dust has settled over the issue a peculiar fact has emerged.The London bid was headed by the joint team of Phillip Anschutz and Sol Kerzner(pictured above with ex-model wife Heather. Kerzner is a household name in luxury resorts and hotels. Nothing extra ordinary in that. What is interesting is that Mr Kerzner was not putting all his eggs in the same basket. While being a part of the London bid , he also aligned himself with Manchester. The rest is
history. Depending on your point of view Kerzner is either risk averse therefore not a betting man or a seasoned chancer on top of his game. Was he simply hedging his bets by spreading the odds?

No matter what conclusion one comes to there is only one unassailable fact:Sol Kerzner is the cat that got the cream.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Levy Re-Arrest

It wasn`t so shocking the re-arrest of Lord Levy yesterday in connection with the cash-for peerage investigation.Yes it was not indeed. The Police investigators warned us they were making bold and fruitful steps in untangling the web under which the whole saga is buried and warned meddlers like David Blunket et al to keep their mouths shut, steer clear of the investigation and let the Police do the task they have been charged with the way they deemed fit.

One does not have to be Einstein to decipher what really happened here. I know one is presumed innocent until proven otherwise but ummm i can say without a doubt that the parties are guilty as suspected. Of course proving who said what to who,when and where would be a very tasking if not impossible job for the investigators.So if the trail of information can not be pieced together in a manner admissible in the courts where is the case? The Police probably found this out and are now changing tactics and toeing a different line of investigation:Obstructing and perverting the course of justice.

Something is clear though at this juncture-things may get nasty indeed. When Angus Mcneil the SNP parliamentarian first raised the issue early 2006 no one would have imagined it would still be raging on till today talk less of snowballing into something that could define and /or defile a political heritage. That of Tony Blair in particular and the other principal characters involved in the investigation. For if charges were brought,a custodial sentence couldnt be ruled out and if this were to happen then the Prime Minister`s position,more than ever before would be untenable. Even a pachydermatous character like Tony Blair would have no choice but to bow out under those circumstances. As it is,some might argue that the whole episode has vitiated the ofice of the Prime Minister.We have a situation where the incumbent Prime Minister is interviewed almost every other week (well) by the Police in connection with crime. I know Tony Blair likes to break records but to break his own record? Downing Street has to keep issuing statements to assure us that the Prime Minister was interviewed by the Police but not under caution. Fair enough.Hope it does not get to that.Or worse!

Is Lord Levy`s arrest the endgame or just another chapter in the unfolding saga we have to wait and see.

Congestion Charging Extension Countdown

Despite widespread disquiet with the extension of the Congestion Charging Scheme in central London Ken Livingstone forced the idea through and this month sees the scheme starting in a sizeable swathe of west London. For a couple of weeks red C signs have been springing up on newly included areas. I must confess its kind of weird to see those dreaded C signs on streets which they never were before. There are even talks of confused tourists paying the toll to drive on these roads even though the extension does not start until the 19th of this month.

I do not believe the extension to the scheme has anything to do with traffic calming or congestion. Just a cynical way of taxing the public. The Mayor saw the immediate revenue potential in widening the scheme and thought wise to take advantage and raise funds. With the emphasis on `immediate potential` because respected studies have shown that it is not financially beneficial in the long run to extend the scheme.

One wonders then why, if there is no considerable concrete benefit to traffic flow in these areas and the cost involved in the long run Livingstone still decided to go ahead with it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Brits Lose £900m

I visited a Property Exhibition at the Novotel in Hammersmith last week. It was a bit muted compared to others i have been before. Seemed Londoners were still recovering from the excesses of the past weeks. All in the spirit of the festive season.

The main revelation is that Spain is no more a viable option for the new investor or bleary eyed retiree looking to cash in on the strength of sterling and relative affordability of properties abroad. Spanish house prices are now neck to neck with what obtains here.Thanks(or no thanks)to the unrelenting invasion of foreign investors in Spanish properties. A considerable number of whom are British.The new states of the EU are the hotspots now.With Bulgaria and the Adriatic states topping the list. Riga has a good ring to it!

There i was lumbered with all sorts of brochures with all sorts of architectural delights. Most were promptly offloaded into the nearest recycle bin.However the Overseas Property TV magazine proved to be a good read. One particular article quoted the currency specialist company HIFX as saying that the big banks charge up to 4% higher than specialised brokers thus emigrating Brits potentiallly lose up to £900m yearly transferring money through them rather than through the
small concerns.
In a mystery shop of high-street banks and currency
dealers,there was a massive £4,932.22 difference between the highest and
the lowest costs when buying 150,000 euros
. The wise thing is to seek sound financial advice from independent brokers before transferring any sizable amount of money abroad.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Naomi Campbell

The Naomi Campbell saga reached another landmark today.The model pleaded guilty to assaulting her former assistant,Ana Scolavino.She apparently hurled her Blackberry at the assistant injuring her skull.Surprisingly all she got was a meagre fine and community service.
These so called super-models need to come down from their dreamland and live in the real world.A number of them seem to live in a different universe from all of us .I read a piece in which Kate Moss went to a NO-Smoking venue but lit up and when this was pointed out to her by one of the staff there she said`F... off,do you know who i am ?` Imagine that.The poor soul should have told her`Yes ,i know who you are,that girl who someone designs a dress ,gives it to her to wear and walk down a platform`. What else is she? Naomi`s tantrums and outrages are well documented.To date Naomi is to court trouble.To work for her you`d better be fast and know how to duck.Miss Campbell shoud realise a Blackberry is meant for calls and e-mails and not performing surgery on craniums.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sloanes Square Up

A storm is brewing in the Royal Borough Of Kensington & Chelsea. The council wants to redesign a notable part of the borough-Sloane Square but residents are not happy with the new design for the Square. As a stakeholder and a frequent visitor to Sloane Square i thought i should add my voice to the dissent.

Basically the council wants to expand the pavements and turn the Square into a multi-lane crossroads at a cost of £6 million. Why? The money even though mainly coming from Transport for London,is still taxpayers` money and could be better spent on other pressing public needs. The visage of the Square as intended by the council one can not even bear imagining. Think a mini Spaghetti junction.

A more sensible alternative design is being proposed by Save Sloane Square -a group formed expressly to fight the council`s proposed designs for the square.

Chelsea Crisis

Oh men of little faith!What`s all this talk of Jose Mourinho leaving Chelsea this summer.The grapevine is abuzz that our Jose is not up to scratch and that Abramovich is intent on bringing Guus Hiddink in as a replacement.Ok Chelsea at the moment seems to be a shadow of the Chelsea of the past season but i do not think that warrants Jose to be sacked.Unfair critics may argue its Mourinho`s fault people like Ballack are not performing to expectation-that a good manager should be able to get the optimum best out of his players.Agreed.But you can take a horse down to the brook but can`t force it to drink.Managers can plan and plot all they wish but once the whistle goes its up to the players.I dont buy that guff that Ballack is so much similar to Lampard that its adversely afffected his play.What is the logic in that?

What is happening to Chelsea right now is not peculiar.Every club goes through this kind of affliction at some point.United were nothing special last couple of seasons,Arsenal had a not too salubrious start to the season and are just finding thier rhythm(ask Liverpool fans)To me Chelsea`s woes started with the sale of Gallas then compounded by the injury to Petr Cech and John Terry.The problem is basically that of defence:No cohesion,no understanding or any discernable sense of duty or purpose!

This will pass.It might be too late for this season though.Cech will be well and Terry will be back.That Micah Richards kid would be a salivating prospect at right back if we can prise him away from City.It will be dangerous to panick now and sack Mourinho.Changing Managers like disposable diapers do not augur well for clubs.Not in England anyway.The continentals are known for that but we all look at Real Madrid these days and wonder if that is the same club that won the European Championships a record 9 times.

Will someone please tell Essien to stay out of the box? Anytime he is 20 yards of the Chelsea goalmouth something calamitous happens.He is a strong midfielder with hard tackles and what have you but heck let him stay there.Was not going to mention it but lowly Wycombe too took advantage of Chelsea`s defence or lack of it yesterday.No prizes for guessing who was in the box when the goal happened.Yes ,one Michael Essien.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Muslim Swimming Session.

The Panjadrums ( stupendous ignoramuses more like it) in Croydon Council have harped on a brilliant idea that will go a long way in helping community integration and religious harmony. They have come up with a Muslim Only Swimming Session in a public pool. No woman is allowed and non muslim men may be allowed if they wear long trunks. A proud Council official was quoted`We are keen to ensure sports facilities are for everyone`.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Chelsea Can Kiss The Championship Goodbye

Jose Mourinho is not one given to pessimism or humility but anyone who saw his interview after the Reading game last week would see his countenance was that of a man on the verge of despair and hopelessness. The Special One is not that special after all. Jose said that much,well according to some redtops.I however heard him question the quality of his players. He said it was only one player scoring and playing well (most definitely Drogba) and that it was obvious that Chelsea lacked quality players. His hopelessness was expressed in the cynical way he touched on Joe Cole`s injury. He wondered if the injury was going to go on forever.

Oh my! But same players won the title twice Jose. The new ones that aren`t playing well you bought them remember? Forget all the talk about Chevchenko being pals with Abramovich , if Jose did not want him i dont think Chelsea would have bought him. Jose would have us believe anyway. Might be it was just a wrong choice of word. Or Jose meant that the quality of display was low and not that the players lacked quality. Anyhow something is clear, Chelsea are not playing well this stretch of the season. The sale of Gallas is now haunting the team.Injury to John Terry is another pain in the neck. Not to mention the Petr Cech drama. Juxtapose these and what you get is a potent potential for calamity.

Perhaps more than any other unit, the need for total understanding between the defence is crucial to match results. An understanding born out of playing together day in day out. This is lacking in Chelsea at the moment. That own goal by Essien in the Reading game says it all. What was he doing there ? What was Ashley Cole trying to do? There must have been more understanding in the Tower of Babel.
Of the regular back four we play now,with due respect only Carvarlho can be regarded as an experienced Chelsea defender(Championship winning back four). Ashley Cole is [money grabbing twat or not] quality but new and needs some time to really gel with the unit.Geremi is not a defender, he is a midfielder now seconded to defensive duties. The rest i dont rate!

So we have a situation where arguably the best goalkeeper in the world is out of action, midfielders are used as defenders, a new left footed defender thrown into the fray and a proven quality defender with driving force is crocked. Basically Chelsea have a back problem: Acute Spinal Paralysis. A problem so grave it might have cost us the Championship already.

In all frankness and honesty the Championship was won and lost on teusday night when Chelsea could only manage a goalless draw against Aston Villa. Manchester United may as well go ahead and place an order for the celebratory bubbly. Tons of it . For come the end of the season, the League title is heading north. Sighs