Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why do people entrusted with our money like to make silly decisions, then make it seem like they are doing us a favour? A couple of years ago the famous Routemaster buses could be seen gliding through the streets of London. An icon of the city. Globally recognised just like the celebrated red phone box. Then some smart alec decided the buses were to be pulled off the streets. Citing health and safety among other spurious reasons why we were better off without the eponymous buses. Now the buses have been  reinvented and reintroduced on our roads. At a whopping bill of £7.8 million for 5 units. Mathematics has never been my forte but I reckon that comes in at about £1.3m per bus. What a wind up.

Boris Johnson was in his most ebullient element yesterday while introducing us to our new expensive run around toy. Informing us how our lives will suddenly turn brighter, glamorous and our bank balances as lush as the rainforest  by catching a glimpse of the new Routemaster on our streets. Well not exactly in those words but something pretty akin to that.  I think all they needed to do was refit the old stock. Add new features like eco- friendly engines for example.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Kew Gardens

I have never been the greatest fan of end of year awards.  Im all for celebrating excellence and all that but the nomination and voting process in most of these awards are highly questionable. Take this year`s BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. The panjadrums at BBC Sports wanted to know the best sportsperson of the year so they asked  Nuts magazine. Among other exclusively male readership publications. So it isnt surprising that this year`s award list is made up entirely of men. Of course whoever wins the award will be a worthy winner. But the process is flawed. This casts a shadow over the whole affair. You have to be in it to win. Who is to say,  if the nomination process was more representative and a sportswoman was in the mix, she wouldnt come up trumps.

So I really dont know what to make of this news that Kew Botanic Gardens has just been voted the best visitor attraction in the country at the British Airways travel awards. Kew Gardens best visitor attraction in Britain?  I lived in Ealing which is just round the corner from Kew Gardens for a long time. Even though I passed the Gardens on my way to Richmond on a regular basis, I was never interested in it.

Why tourists head west in droves to sample the horticultural delights within Kew Gardens beats my imagination. Typically, one would have thought the major attractions in and around W1 would top the list of tourist attractions in the country. But then we dont know how British Airways got the nominees. All we have to do for now is celebrate Kew Gardens as the place to be for any savvy, in-the-know tourist.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

EURO Bill Veto

It was Harold Wilson who said a week is a long time in politics. What a truism its proved to be over the years. Barely two months ago David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy were on first name terms now the bonhomie has turned sour. I actually heard  Cameron refer to Sarkozy as Nicolas in a speech he gave sometime in October. Odd I thought. Normally we hear leaders addressing fellow leaders by their appellation. But it was hard not to notice Sarkozy blanking out Cameron last week in Brussels. We saw this video of Cameron walking towards the French President, who promptly cold shouldered him. Fair game to Cameron who behaved more dignified and lightly tapped Nicolas Sarkozy on the shoulder and went on his way. We all have friends like that. You know the kind of friend that thinks you are the best thing since slice bread as long as you agree with his opinions or wishes and help in fulfilling his needs. Once your wishes and opinions are at variance with his,  you are undesirable. He blanks you out.

However that there are no permanent friends or enemies in international politics or any level at any level of politics for that matter. The existence of our present government is a testimony to that There are only national interests. So Mr Sarkozy can sulk all he likes for now. Personally I'm not for or against Cameron vetoing the EU proposal. There are pros and cons to the argument. What the country needs is a simplified details of what the issue is, what impact such proposals might have on Britain and why we cannot accede to it. The Prime Minister has to get the message across to the British people himself. Not in a condescending or patronising manner but like I said in a simplified but detailed manner. Then and only then can we be in the best position to decipher whether he made the right call or not.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Silvio Berlusconi Turns Popstar

It didn't take Silvio Berlusconi long to find an outlet for his boundless energy and occupy himself. Barely a fortnight after stepping down from his position I hear he has released an album of love songs. Well, according to reports the ex Italian Prime Minister penned the lyrics to the songs sang by Mariano Apicella , a popular Italian singer and a friend of his. I haven't heard the songs yet, but anyone who has heard the songs should please let me know if I they are worth adding to my iPod playlist.

What next to expect from Silvio then? Judge on Italian  ex-factor?  A contestant on Italy`s Got Talent? Big Brother? The world is his oyster in this regard actually. Given that he owns a large swathe of the Italian media that should not be hard to arrange. Im not a great fan on reality television shows but one along the lines of Im An ex Prime Minister Get me Out of Here would be great to watch. There is no shortage of  possible contetants for such a show these days due to the wind of change blowing all over Europe and beyond. The spectre of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown jostling for our votes to win the contset is quite an appealing if not interesting one.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Westminster Council Parking Charge

Its been a while seeing an unpopular decision as Westminster council`s  plan to introduce new parking charges from next January. Not since the Poll Tax imbroglio. You know its serious when Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone publicly and unequivocally agree on an issue. They, like a multitude of people are against the new charges. Much vociferous opposition has been raised by a broad spectrum of the population. The business owners in the West End dont like it. The churches dont like it. In fact so strong is their feelings about the the issue that they plan to put up  thier own candidates come 1014 says Churches Together in Westminster. Didnt even know churches had a trade union. Theatreland is outraged. Club and restaurant owners are at arms. Even the government is not impressed. A view expressed by the delectable  Transport Secretary Justine Greening this week. But neither her, nor Mayor Boris Johnson can intervene. So all the perfectly coiffured one could do was urge the boffins at Westminster council to have a rethink about the issue.

The question is, given this seemingly unanimous objection to the parking charges, why is Westminster council going ahead with the plan? According to Collin Barrow, leader of the council no one likes government decisions that involve charges. Am with him on that. But the council surely should not be seen as engaging in extortion and putting businesses at risk. Which to all intent and purposes is the case here.

My own view is that the scheme has less to do with traffic calming and more a means to raise revenue for the council. Its not about traffic calming at all. If you want to know what night time traffic tailback is go to Madrid. A city I frequent and know fairly well. The amount of traffic in the centre of the city at these hours being targeted by  Westminster council is most definitely higher, if not double what we have here. Ideally I think the council should scrap the idea.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


The mudslinging goes on unabated in the UK Border Agency row.  The Home secretary, |Theresa May says she wasn`t aware what the Border Agency were up to talk less of giving the order. Brodie Clark says no. As I understand it she claims she only ordered a partial relaxation of entry checks. Like for travellers holding EU bio metric passports and school kids on trip. All to cut ques at points of entry. Sounds reasonable. But  we now know these measures were applied to non EU passport holders as well. Mr Clark maintains Theresa May gave the go ahead and was duly aware of what was going on. Someone is lying. It`s either one or the other.

Silvio Berlusconi Agrees To Go

 As expected, Berlusconi has agreed to go. The old fox failed to gain a majority backing in the lower house and was left with no choice but to throw in the towel. One battle too many for a man who has survived 50 votes of no confidence.

Mr Berlusconi agreed to go as soon as a new goverment is in place to carry out the reforms needed to see Italy through the economic malaise it faces at the moment. As things are it seems the country is going to be be governed by a coalition of  parties and technocrats. At least till elections are held and proper goverment established.

There are reports that one of Mr Berlusconi`s favourite amores, Franscesca Pascale was spotted driving into his Rome residential palace the night before the fatal vote and was seen leaving in the early hours of the morning. I say good on you Silvio. A man needs all the support he can get at such troubled times as these. Besides what are friends for?  Once all this tak of new goverment is done with, the old man can have his time and privacy to himself. Bunga Bunga party and all that without fear or favour.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


The Euro crisis claimed it`s first scalp yesterday. The Greek Prime Minister finally stepped down. How this helps the Greek situation only time will reveal. For now it`s just another chapter in the Greek economic odyssey to which we have been spectators for a year or so now. Mr George Panpandreou`s exit will at least bring new fervour to finding some kind of solution to the problems the country faces. Hopefully. Some might even argue that it will restore some confidence in the country`s ability not only to implement the needed reforms but to convince the people of Greece of their merits.

In Italy, folks are putting money on Mr Berlusconi suffering the fate as his Greek counterpart. We will know by tonight if that is the case. Mr Berlusconi has unequivocally made it clear he is not ready to go. The backbenchers are of course rattling up the hatchet. For Berlusconi the financial mess in Italy is an irritant he could well do without. He has enough people calling for him to go based on his personal conducts and allegations against him. What with all the lawsuits and whatnot. The questions is do the Italian people trust and believe him to be the man to see them through these rough times? He sure believes he is. Is he alone in this view?