This isn’t just food! – Birmingham Press

This isn’t just food…this is M&S food! At least that is what we were constantly told for a spell. As if we are a bunch of idiots who don’t know one end of a spatula to another. This advert drove the missus round the bend, particularly when I said the voice was all sexy and mysterious. Talking about my darling wife, a few days ago I decided to have a day off from being the objectionable and demanding husband – it’s true, I promise you!

The Idiot’s Lantern (ie TV) had been plugging us for weeks about all this cordon bleu job at  M&S food store – the truth is, somebody had bought me a multi-coloured rugby shirt for Christmas and I was taking it into M&S to get the money back. Rugby? Multi-coloured? Not me at all. Getting into ruck’s and sniffing other men’s backsides has never  been my style, apart from anything else, I’m a starched collar and double-cuff man myself.

Anyway, I cashed in the rugby shirt ie I was given a credit note and sauntered around for a few minutes wondering what to do next. As you know, ’shopping’ is not really my thing and frankly, I just get thoroughly confused with all the sparkling floors, shiny chrome clothes rails and sales assistants who look as if they’d do anything to work for John Lewis and have a slice of the action at the same time – I tried buying some sexy lady’s underwear in there once, that was an experience, believe me. I nearly started wearing the stuff myself, the assistant was so convincing. The missus kept checking my drawers for months afterwards too!

So, pants or socks seemed the only way out of my M&S credit note nightmare. Off I went, looking here and there, hither and thither, when all of a sudden the missus popped into my head. Why not do something all loving and appreciative for once, thinks I? Why not say ‘I love you’ without the words? Inspiration struck! An M&S supper for two! Different, imaginative, romantic, all for a few quid. This will put a smile on the wife’s face, I thought.

The following evening, I prepared a dining table fit for a Royal feast. Pukka table-cloth, best cutlery (even proper fish knives!), candles, the works. Guess what? The fish oozed spinach, which the missus hates, the chips had crinkled passed their sell-by date, the wine was dismally mediocre and the cherries in the pudding, were a definite no-go area. Now you know why, I don’t ‘do’ shopping and why I’ll never try and get on to a Mr & Mrs TV Show.

And to hell with a M&S supper for two! No-one ever bothers with these food programmes anyway. They like to watch them but that is just about it.

Police and Crime Commissioner – Welsh Press

Police and Crime Commissioner no less! I can’t see why we have to employ these people but nevertheless that is Government for you! I sent a complaint letter off to the police, a reply? They had done nothing wrong so to hell with you. That is the police for you. We’ve all heard the ‘that’s all copper’s do is sit at roundabouts all night in their flash cars, scoffing donuts’ and there may well be some truth in this. Actually, I’m quite partial to a donut myself, so far be it from me to criticise our uniformed protectors of life and liberty, after all they are entitled to some sweet tooth indulgence now and again like everybody else.

This latest political ‘Law and Order’ extravaganza, the Police and Crime Commissioner that is, does raise some rather interesting questions, not least of which is that damn great elephant shoving his way around the local nick, whose name, would you believe, is Mr Impartiality.

Now, ‘Old Labour’ Wales  is hardly renowned for its enthusiasm where ‘transparency ‘ and ‘accountability’ are concerned .One only has to think of the recent scandals at AWENA, the Welsh Universities, S4C, North Wales Care Homes, the Welsh ‘literati’………need I go on?  So, whilst this ‘Commissioner’ will be able to ‘hire and fire’, will they be ‘impartial’? The most critical quality of all, in my view anyway – and one which tends to take out any of those with a razor sharp political axe to grind, be they Tory, Labour or one of those who would rather drop food parcels instead of bombs.

I am reminded of an incident when I was a  callow and inebriated youth. ‘Banged up’ in one of Her Majesty’s Hotels for the night, I remember the words some wag had written above the emergency bell button just inside the cell door – ‘Ring For Butler’. The Police are indeed there to serve (and are paid handsomely for the privilege it must be said) but are they ‘impartial’?

There is a remote need for a Commissioner I have no doubt, but impartiality must be the name of the game. Impartiality and political neutrality. To conclude then, I also think a lady Commissioner is in order, and I am being respectful here, before any of you of a feminist persuasion start. ‘Woman’ in this context sounds far too rough and ready. After all, there are far too many men running the ‘Welsh Establishment’ as it is, and pity help the boyos in blue if the new Commissioner is anything like my missus, because if she is………….

Dive for cover!

Young ‘uns – Birmingham Press

I’m on the wrong side of sixty but nevertheless I accept that we live in a new world, a world where technology rules and where men are no longer supposed to be men. Indeed, it seems that masculinity is now down to how much gel a chap can spike his hair with, how often he waxes his legs (and other more intimate layers of skin, I’m told) and how much moisturiser he can get through in a week. Apparently, young shavers are now taking longer to dress than women.

The other evening, I just happened to catch this celebrity cook fellow banging on about how ‘we have had 3 natural births’ – I can’t understand what this has to do with his cooking, he should get on with the chopping and skewering if you ask me.

‘We’? I pondered.

Forgive me here, but if I’m not mistaken its usually women who have babies, but then I don’t use a mobile phone so maybe I’m missing something? I can’t be bothered with being on call twenty-four hours seven days a week and receiving daily texts insulting me – can’t say I’m bothered by the insults, I find them quite amusing to tell you the truth, that is on my email account by the way, Twitter and Facebook can all go and hang themselves; I don’t bother with these two creations of Hell either. But here’s the rub: Men have become feminised and soppy, and as for walking about with a baby strapped to my chest and a few teets sticking out of my back pocket, forget it. And as for the haircuts, well, I wonder how they can see anything at all with long strands of hair poking into their eyeballs, they just grunt in reply to a perfectly civilised question. Ignorance I call it – oh well mustn’t insult our young and intelligent youth, but you get my drift. Come to think of it, we mustn’t insult anybody these days, that is politically correct nonsense for you!

I’m old school and proud of it! I’m not so sure whether the missus is, though. She will probably shove me out into the cold if she reads this. Never mind though, I could use the rest! All the nagging and musing on my inefficiency where the shopping is concerned. Have you tried buying cheese and such like? It is a nightmare; it is never right when I trudge home in the wee small hours, this is why I try to avoid shopping at all costs!

Well, as they say, the bliss of marriage and a wonderful wife (she is wonderful really, putting up with me is an arduous task I must admit!!!)  

Nationalism – Welsh Press

Some time ago, I was giving a series of lectures on a cruise ship – I wouldn’t go on one if I had to pay for it, too many wheelchairs and so on, apart from anything else I have a strong aversion to feeling trapped by the Captain and his staff. 99% of the 800 or so passengers were Scottish, so you can imagine! Well, apart from the obvious buttonholing of my views on the referendum (which I sidestepped, I was on a Cruise after all, mustn’t offend the passengers and the like), one thing soon became clear: The Scots have no issues with their ‘identity’, indeed not once did I hear ‘I’m a Scot and proud of it!’. Makes you wonder what all this Independence is all about, doesn’t it? Devolution again!  How telling – I know I am going a bit deaf (what is new!), but I managed to hear every word, straining a bit but there we are! That is old age for you, like it or not it is creeping up on me. Wrinkles, floppy flesh etc.

Ernest Gellner wrote: Nationalism is the creation of a nation state where none before existed. And this is precisely what has been happening in Wales since devolution, particularly of the Welsh language variety. Instead of adding fibre to the Union and strengthening it, devolution has fractured and tried to undermine it. It has also been used as a weapon to ensure that ancient and outdated Welsh socialism rules forever in Wales, regardless of the norms of democratic liberty and accountability.

Nationalism is the clarion call of history’s most insidious terror. One only has to consider one of the main reasons for the first and second 20th century World War holocausts – Nationalism.

Here in Wales, we are constantly being bombarded with a thing called ‘the Welsh Way of Life’- by the family firm, BBC Wales in particular. Having lived all over the UK (and in other parts of the world), I am still trying to work out what this nationalist fantasy is all about? As Michael Buerk, the veteran broadcaster has pointed out: ‘Wales is not a country; it’s England with an accent and a good singing voice’, oh and not forgetting our corned beef pasties and laver bread! More to the point and on a personal level, I have lived in exactly the same way in Suffolk, as I have in Wales. Now no doubt, the trolling Welsh Nats will be after my tail again, but to date I have yet to kow tow to politically correct, minority tyranny and I most certainly will not apologise for having an opinion, albeit that it may offend some people.

It is a writer’s duty to offend and that’s that. So get over it…..and this includes the Welsh speaking Crachach!

PS Pupils have record A Level results this year – well, this is always the case. The Government makes it easier and easier to pass an exam, Covid notwithstanding. One wonders why we bother with exams in the first place, in my day (admittedly I am an ‘ancient’), if you obtained a grade A you were one of a minority. How times have changed.

Birmingham – Newspapers, Midlands

Birmingham City, what a mish mash of different colours, religions and backgrounds. It is a busy city, people going everywhere and not having enough time to look at their watches.  I used to work in Corporation Street. Dealing with insolvency and employment law, what a trial that was! Sikhs, Hindus, Blacks and Whites all struggling to have their say. Thinking of this, I am reminded of a fellow I used to know. He was a right hail fellow well met sort – particularly where women were concerned, he didn’t care what they looked like, if they had a heartbeat he was in there, of a polite inclination I hasten to add! I remember he used to get chucked out of a women’s home, black bags flying through the air and what have you. Come to think of it, on one occasion a women kept the wedding ring I gave him (not to get married you understand, I am not gay). It was designed and all that nonsense. A previous marriage of mine, before all of you moralistic people get all upset and howling from the rooftops, I divorced her, on her adultery it should be said. Ever the moral high ground, that’s me!

Be that as it may, another thing that has struck me lately is all this medical nonsense about allergies and things that can bring you to death’s door (well, there is a certain case for some of them). Can’t eat nuts, can’t eat pasteurized milk, can’t eat whatever it is on the packet. Has the country gone crazy or what? In my day, I appreciate I am ‘an old one now, but we never heard anything about ‘you can’t eat this or that’! All sorts go down my throat, from mossy strawberries and out of date bananas to a chunk of pate that is beginning to turn. Probably has something to do with all the alcohol I have imbibed in my time (I am only joking!), nevertheless everyone is on about allergies etc etc You can’t go out the house without worrying about something, on second thoughts I had better take that back what with Covid going on and all the illness and death.

And another thing – dear me, I am going on a bit here, aren’t I? Have you noticed how rude some of these youngsters can be? Not all by any stretch of the imagination but some need a good kick up the backside. I was in Tipton the other day and my friend’s son, a spoilt to death lad and overweight, he had a car in the drive, all paid for by the parents and his arrogance and cheek was overwhelming. He was a bad example of how not to bring up a child.

 And on this note, I shall leave it there. See you next time!  

Too scared? – Newspapers, South Wales

Everybody seems a bit scared to say the truth, odd isn’t it? Political correctness and its incipient know-towing to rudeness etc etc. Micky Flanigan and John Bishop have got it right, haven’t they? Say what you like and to hell with annoying those people who are unable to split their sides from laughing too much! I’ll give you some amusement (well, I’ll try!) while I am at it. The Carmarthen County Council is in the dock again – as if this is anything different, I hear you ask? Shouts from the rooftops but be that as it may. Now, about roads – New Street in Kidwelly I am talking about.

Kidwelly is named after a Welsh cowboy. He liked wearing wellington’s I am told, so the story goes anyway. I hate to remind you people but a while ago, I was nearly killed by a destructive argument with a car engine. A hit and run in New Street, I was the one that was hit. I was getting out of my car and bang, that was it. Brain surgery, leg smashed up and all the rest of it. Now the thing is, the young villain got off lightly – in my book anyway, but that is not the point. Where were the speed cameras? Where was the sleepers etc etc?

It is on a stretch of road which is notorious for cars and motorbikes going at high speeds. Last night there was a motorcyclist driving around the same location trying to break the speed record at will, or so it seemed, and this was at 12.30 in the morning!!! It is just plain ridiculous. Where were the police? It has to be a heaven-sent opportunity if one sees any police cars in the area – I haven’t seen one in years, the coppers are too busy eating their custard slices at roundabouts to bother with Kidwelly. And as for the Council, well you can use your imagination what I think they are doing. Something between nothing and we shall do it tomorrow. Typical.

This Council comes in for a bit of stick and I can’t blame people for getting fed up with them. If I had my way, I would sack the lot of them (well, that is a bit extreme, but you get what I am on about). You try and ring them and see where you will get – its Welsh, Welsh and nothing but (I can’ speak a word of it, like most people!). I won’t go on about the dilapidated state of the house next door, I have been on to the Council about this for years, will they do anything? Not likely, they will not even carry out their legal obligations.

The Carmarthenshire County Council, I have better name for them but this is a family newspaper, so I had better not!!!    

BBC Radio 2 – The Welsh language

On Tuesday of this week, there was an interview on the Welsh language, pros and cons as it were ( I have done the same interview some time ago, Jeremy Vine was exceptionally balanced then).They had a pro-Welsh language and an anti-Welsh language on.

The fact is the Welsh language lady ignored all the facts, indeed she was talking a load of old bollocks! She didn’t mention how the public sector is in a fine mess, in their insane effort to promote the language and recruit Welsh speakers(where are they going to come from, out of a population of three million???), she failed to enlighten her audience the cost to the tax payer for all the Welsh language translation (about a million plus for every local authority), she was remiss in not saying that all the costs to the tax payer for the Welsh publishing industry (they publish books that no-one reads), the Welsh Arts Council (seven of them going the the Biennale for just one Welsh exhibit, two thousand a piece each executive), the Welsh Books Council, Literature Wales etc etc And BBC Wales, that crass representative of media excellence is full of tax payer funded books by its employees (I never watch it) and it’s Welsh radio channel gets 15 million a year and BBC Radio Cornwall gets only 1.5 million a year – and they both have the same audience figures!!!

All paid for by the tax payer. The English are paying for the vast majority of this. And what about education? Carmarthenshire County Council has made all primary schools Welsh medium, there is no choice for the average parent. What happens to one of the main democratic principles – choice! Welsh is put on parents who neither want it, nor espouse it. The Welsh education system is crap, full stop. If I had young ‘uns. I would be off to England. The Welsh Labour administration (this is a curious fact, the rest of the country after the last election went Tory but what did Wales do? Labour increased its vote, put a glass eyed snake in power and see what happens. Labout again!) What has it done now, it has now made the Welsh language equal to English, for God’s sake!!!

She didn’t mention the fact that North Wales cannot understand the South, where all the population is and as for the Welsh culture/history bit, there is none! I was against Devolution in 97/98 and I am against it now. All it has done is to allow extremist to raise the nationalist flag. It is a total bloody joke. Come to think of it she mentioned those Welsh people who learn Welsh – most of them give it up, for it is too difficult, my own solicitor for one!!!

There are only three million people in Wales against a national population of sixty five million. Give me a break will you??? A ‘Government’???

And as for independence? This is a farce, where are the Welsh going to get fifteen billion odd??? And the Welsh lady forgot to mention, that it is only 15% of Welsh people who actually speak and read the language!!! Where would Wales be without the tax payer!!! Everything would be demolished, including the Welsh language. It is dying, so get a grip!!!

NB All the above can be corroborated by FOI facts that I have in my study.

Let’s do over the tax payer again!

Brian Meechan, the insipid man, is on BBB Wales news channel again. A few thousand pounds from the tax payer for a manuscript he hasn’t even written! It is a disgrace like the news channel itself. Many of the editors, presenters etc have all had tax payer handouts for books that don’t sell – the previous controller Talfan Davies gets a few thousand quid for a book that only sold a 100 copies. BBC Wales should be dumped into the nearest rubbish bin for out of control government expenditure. The elections are coming up, vote UKIP and destroy this be fangled ‘government’ of Wales.

Stroll on Swansea!SWEP

Re-vamped hotels, caravan parks and twitching RSPB eco-warriors, are now the name of the game in this ancient spot of tourist deliverance. Being an inhabitant myself of this sometimes surly town, with its charming mix of old and new minds, Chapel and High church optimism in a heretical world and faded Street blues, those who are attempting to bring some commercial reality to the place are to be congratulated, well, Covid-19 allowing!

But, and where Ruck is concerned as all you readers will know, there has to be a ‘but’, will all this well-intentioned effort pay off? It is certainly in with a chance, but only if those with commercial intent do it properly and with an eye to the outside world – after all, Swansea is hardly renowned for a cosmopolitan approach to things as I well know. Will the pubs succumb to micro-waved grub and vast plasma screens intent on abusing gentle conversation, be the order of the day? Will caravans determined to leave behind their detritus of holiday fun, be allowed to depart with a happy and forgiving Welsh smile? And will your average, silent twitcher be allowed to twitch without fear of intrusion and dastardly human interference?

Challenges indeed, one might think and not mention the disgusting Castle Gardens and everything else that is the town centre – a concrete jungle! What the Swansea City Council must be thinking of here beggars belief! They’re planning department needs a complete overhaul!

Far be it for me to put the boot in. I am an outsider, an interloping English speaking, irreverent heathen (and actually rather proud of the fact as it happens!) and one unfamiliar with traditional Swansea sensibility but one thing I do know, Wales’s only hope for future economic growth is leisure and tourism. This being the case, local businesses if they are to succeed, must cast aside suicidal Welsh insularity and deadly parochialism, otherwise projects such as the above will last a year and be no more. There is a huge and accessible market-place out there, from South America to China. How I long to see a few turbaned heads and mah-jong players stroll along the High Street, because then and only then, will I conclude that Swansea has finally said ‘Hello’ to the outside world.

Look beyond the Severn Bridge all you business boyos, invest and good luck!