Monday, 18 September 2017

An Apology.

The Thamesmead Grump was at the seaside last week and so isn't feeling all that grumpy at the moment. This is why I haven't posted anything lately.

Give me a few days back in Thamesmead and I should be back to my usual grumpy self. In the mean time, here are a few pictures I took while I was away.

Lyme Regis, if you haven't already guessed.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Wrong Trousers

Ms Nicky Cooper

Today's lesson children is the meaning of the

term "jobsworth".

Pedantic, pompous, doctrinaire, nit-picking, 

pedagogic, punctilious. Please add any others

you think may be appropriate. 

Following on from my story on 21st July about the petty minded stupidity of some head teachers and how their single minded obsession with pointless rules is damaging the education of children, here is another tale, courtesy of school Head Teacher Nicky Cooper.

According to this BBC report, Ms Cooper who is head of Kepier School in Houghton-le-spring has been preventing children from attending lessons because "their trousers are the wrong shade of grey".

This half-witted jobsworth is not only making a fool of the education system, she is enforcing a rather dodgy system where the Head Teacher insists on a particular type of uniform that can only be bought from a single supplier. Needless to say, it isn't one of the regular suppliers of school clothes but rather a small shop which charges premium prices for their goods.

The local authority responsible for appointing this idiot should remove her ASAP and make it clear to other heads in the district that their priority should be the education of children, not running a fashion parade.

Ms Cooper, in the mean time, might want to consider a career in car parking management, or perhaps, a park keeper, where her natural inclination for the literal interpretation of regulations would be more in keeping with the job.

An Ill Wind

Rush Limbaugh is not a name most British people will be familiar with: he is rather more well known in his native America where his right-wing loony radio broadcasts make popular listening among the knuckle dragging fraternity.

This week he has been sounding on about hurricane Irma, or, as he puts it, "a liberal conspiracy intended to convince the public that climate change is real".

Yes folks, hurricanes are no more dangerous than any other storm whose effect is not only exaggerated by the entire World's meteorological experts but they are also a plot by bottled water suppliers to make us panic buy their product. The proof of this is the fact that in his home town of Palm Beach, Florida (currently directly in the predicted path of the storm), they seem to have run out of the stuff.

Let's face it, if they can fake the Moon 

landings, they can fake this as well.

Ordinarily, it wouldn't matter what this idiot says were it not for the fact that millions of people buy into this nonsense. This anti-science, mumbo-jumbo, superstitious view of the World is gaining popularity to such a level now that it's able to cause genuine harm.

They are the same people who say that the earth was created at 9:30am on the 23 October 4004 BC; they are the people who claim that NASA faked the Moon landings; that vaccines cause autism; that GMOs are dangerous; that the World is run by a cabal of alien reptilian shape-shifters who drink human blood.

Our civilization hangs by a thread and these people would sabotage our future with their ignorance and stupidity.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Sadiq Khan, Jeremy Corbyn: the truth.

Jeremy Corbyn.

Seen here as Home Secretary and later as
Prime Minister slashing Police numbers.
You will notice how he has tried to disguise
himself as Tory leader Theresa May but if
you look carefully, you can see his beard
poking out.
There is currently a great deal of local consternation over the possibility that we may lose Bexleyheath Police Station as a result of spending cuts. As you will be aware, this is all the fault of Muslim Socialist London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. A proper (white) Tory, right wing, Christian London Mayor would have been able to implement these cuts without reducing staff or services simply by the power of his magnificent Toryness.

What Muslim Mayor, Sadiq Khan also doesn't mention is the fact that all these staff and spending cuts are the fault of the bearded Lefty Socialist leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.

It was Jeremy Corbyn who, when Home Secretary in 2010 told the Treasury that they had to cut Police budgets by 18% and who both as Home Secretary and later as Prime Minister oversaw a reduction in the number of front line Police posts by 21,500.

As is often the case, it's London that suffers the biggest cuts of all with the Metropolitan Police having to make savings of a billion pounds by 2020. It was ex Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe who in February this year warned that "the bottom line is there will be less cops."(sic). (He meant fewer cops of course but he's only a plod so we'll let him off).

People in Bexley Borough are quite rightly angry about the possibility of their centrally based police station being banished to darkest Sidcup and know exactly who to blame.

And who is going to be responsible for enforcing all those Sharia laws that Muslim Mayor, Sadiq Khan is planning to introduce? yes, I know he's already been Mayor  for fifteen months with no sign yet of his Islamification of London plans but we all know he's just biding his time till the right moment, you just wait and see.

Just Three Pounds a Month.

In just a few weeks, the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal will begin. I along with thousands of other volunteers will be collecting money for this armed forces charity, both on the street and in static locations such as local supermarkets. We rely on the good will and generosity of the public to carry on the work we do, supporting both serving and ex members of the armed forces and their families.

It's depressing then to read about the number of people and organisations who use the guise of charitable status to scam people out of their money. This article for the BBCs Victoria Derbyshire programme highlights the level of fraud associated with the charity industry and the number of individuals who will cheat, lie or use various loopholes in the law to persuade us to part with our money that we believe will be going to a good cause but will actually be going into the pockets of collectors and the people who organise them.

Part of the problem in my view, is the sheer number of registered charities in this country (over 200,000 of them), all supposedly supporting some worthy cause or another but almost impossible to monitor due to there being so many.

The fact is we are now inundated with appeals for "just £3 a month" from a seeming endless succession of TV commercials, all using exactly the same format. It starts with that tinkly piano music they always play when they are going to tell us something really sad then rapidly moves on to the competition between them with the "our starving African child has more flies crawling over his face than your starving African child"; or the "help us provide clean water to children in Pakistan so their government can spend it's money on more useful things like upgrading their nuclear weapons capability".

When I was a child, I only ever remember a few charities: the Poppy Appeal was one of them of course; I think we were also asked to put a penny into the lifeboat Appeal as well and there may have been one or two more. Now, you can't move for them and call me Mr Cynical if you want, but I can't help believe that a good few of them are nothing more than a money making scam or an excuse for us not to feel guilty that we don't make our governments do more directly to help good causes rather than relying on public subscriptions.

The Bexley Gazette.

I'm really pleased to discover a new Facebook page. The Bexley Gazette is a worthy successor to the News Shopper now that publication has decamped to God only knows where.

Describing itself as providing "enlightening and entertaining insights on the glorious borough of Bexley", the Gazette provides well written and well researched articles about issues that are important to local people and I encourage everyone to read and subscribe.

So far, they have provided much needed publicity to local small businesses, advice on local traffic holdups and have discovered some remarkable famous people with a local connection. Do take time to have a look at it.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Happy Anniversary

Radio Caroline
The UKs first ofshore radio station
began broadcasting Easter 1964 and

changed music radio forever.
There are two significant anniversaries being commemorated this week. The first event is the 70th anniversary of independence for India and Pakistan; the second is the 50th anniversary of the passing into law of the Marine Offences Act 1967.

While the first of the two probably has more international significance, it's the second that most affected me.

If you were a young teenager growing up in the early 1960s, the opportunity to listen to the music of your choice was severely limited. Records were expensive to buy; a standard 45 RPM single cost around 7 shillings (£6.72 in today's money) and an LP would cost up to £2/10 (£42 today). That was quite a lot out of my £4 a week wages. Then the equipment to play it on was equally expensive by today's standard.

The only access to music for most of us was the radio and in 1963 and at that time, there was very little air play of pop music; more or less nothing during the day and just a few programmes on in the evening, maybe a couple of times a week.

There was Radio Luxembourg but that only broadcast in the evening and the quality wasn't very good; it was broadcast from the Duchy of Luxembourg and relied on it's signal being reflected to the UK via an unreliable ionosphere.

"The Egg"
My Philips 834A wireless in 1965.
Suddenly in 1964 there was Radio Caroline. I think I discovered it by accident, trawling the airwaves on my trusty Philips 834A wireless. I inherited it from my Uncle Peter and all my friends called it "The Egg". I had a huge aerial strung the length of the garden plugged into it, (you needed something like that to get a decent signal from Radio Luxembourg) and I would like to spin the tuning dial from time to time and see what else I could pick up.

Anyway, here was a radio station playing non stop music all day; it was only daytime up to 6:00pm to start with, but it plugged the gap while I waited for Luxembourg to go on air.

The Huge popularity of the new (pirate) radio station, as they were soon to be called, brought a number of imitators and eventually there were a several of them bobbing up and down in the North Sea, each with varying degrees of success.

What made it even better was the fact that now, all sorts of bands could get air time as well, as the pirate stations broke the monopoly then held by the big four record companies; at that time these were Philips, Decca, Pye and EMI. If you were an artist and didn't work for one of them, you might as well give up as Radio Luxembourg played nothing else. Even the limited music coverage by the BBC was restricted to this seeming cartel.

It has been argued that this opening up of the air waves by pirate radio paved the way for the tidal wave of independent record companies  and new bands that emerged at this time.

The bad news is that the government really didn't think that people being able to listen to the programmes they wanted to hear was a very good idea and soon set about putting a stop to it. Up to then, radio broadcasting in the UK was governed by the 1949 wireless and telegraphy act which stations like Radio Caroline could circumvent by operating from ships in international waters.

Using a number of excuses including the claim that they caused a hazard to shipping and that their broadcasts interfered with other legitimate radio stations, they set about creating new legislation which would make it illegal for British citizens to service the stations; this would include supplying them with goods or services or advertising revenue. Technically, it would even be illegal for UK citizens to broadcast from them as well which meant that all the DJs would be breaking the law, although this was never enforced. It was even argued that under the terms of the new act it would be illegal to listen to them.

To be fair, some of the people running these new stations didn't exactly cover themselves in glory and there were a number of very nasty incidents culminating in an altercation in the house of Oliver Smedley (Radio Caroline's operator) between himself and Reginald Calvert (operator of Radio City) over a unpaid bill which resulted in Smedley's death.

Eventually, the act became law on 14 August 1967 and most of the stations ceased broadcasting on that day, leaving the original Radio Caroline with the medium all to itself again.

Several of the pirate DJs were recruited by the BBC for it's new station (to be called Radio 1, as it still is to this day) and the format was typically BBC in that their Board of Governors (made up almost exclusively of old white men (as it still is to this day) made sure that it upheld the true conservative traditions of the institution.

Records like "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin, (since used for decades as the theme tune for "Top of the Pops" and "je t'aime" by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, (since used a theme tune in a children's toy commercial) were banned as being not fit for the ears of impressionable youth.

This wasn't the end of the story of course. Radio Caroline continued to operate for a number of years and in fact, still does via the internet. You can find them by clicking here.

There was also a vigorous campaign to get radio deregulated. A number of pressure groups were set up and I remember wandering around Woolwich with a group of friends recruiting support for one of them.

As you know, eventually all that campaigning paid off and young people today have a huge choice of stations to listen to, broadcasting every musical genre under the Sun and no, the sky didn't fall.

WARNING - Do not listen to this record. No! No! No! It will leave you hopelessly corrupted.