This needs to be the work of a lone nutter, not a TV programme

A 74-mile long model train track is set to smash a world record when it weaves through the Scottish Highlands later this month.
The miniature steam train will set off on top of a plastic track which is fully recyclable and travel the distance while people tune in to watch the journey on television.
The scale model will travel through the Great Glen and eventually reach its final destination of Inverness, on Scotland’s northern coast.

The record attempt will feature in a new show called ‘The Biggest Little Railway in the World’ and volunteers will live in campsites as they assemble the track.
People are now being sought for the project in order to make everything come together without any hitches.
Producer Charlotte Armstrong said: ‘Filming starts on June 20 and we have five groups in place with around 10 or 12 people in each one.
‘Each group will be laying sections of the track and they will live in campsites along the route – very much like workers did when the Victorian railways were being built.

Grand, grand, idea. But these things really should come from an obsession. Spotty oik who decides to do it in honour of the Young Pretender or summat, with the monomania first being mocked and then gaining a groundswell of support. With a cliff hanger disaster, followed by a thump of the fist into the palm “I’ll just do it right this time.”

With Prince Philip on hand to mutter “Well done laddie, well done” as the train triumphantly wobbles down the main street of Inverness.

It’s just not British if it’s organised, is it?

That’s a lot really, isn’t it?

Intelligence officers have identified 23,000 jihadist extremists living in Britain as potential terrorist attackers, it emerged yesterday.

The scale of the challenge facing the police and security services was disclosed by Whitehall sources after criticism that multiple opportunities to stop the Manchester bomber had been missed.

About 3,000 people from the total group are judged to pose a threat and are under investigation or active monitoring in 500 operations being run by police and intelligence services. The 20,000 others have featured in previous inquiries and are categorised as posing a “residual risk”.

Err, yes, you’re right

English football’s axis of power has shifted south – where the wealth is
Anthony Clavane
The relegation of Hull, Middlesbrough and Sunderland, teams from former industrial powerhouse cities, reflects the country’s growing economic divide

And the reason the North was the centre of football (well, plus the Midlands and London) is because that’s where all the wealth was when it became a popular and organised sport.

It’s entirely correct to say that there’s been a regional divide these past 300 years in England (at least). But for the first 150 years the South, especially the South West, was on the wrong end of it.

One example – forgotten the decade as it was some time ago I read about it but probably 1830s, 1840s ish – farm labourer wages were 25 shillings a week up North, no rent to pay on the veg patch and potato field etc. Same time, rent to be paid and 8 shillings a week in Dorset. The North had to compete with the alternative jobs in the factories, Dorset was, even by the standards of the time, grossly poor.

Even Bath has guerrillas these days

They are the bane of road users around the country, causing countless damage to cars and endless cycling accidents.
Now residents in one of the UK’s most well-to-do towns have taken a novel approach to dealing with the scourge of potholes opening up in their streets.
So-called ‘guerrilla gardeners’ are filling the cracks and craters in their roads with pretty flowers in a very peaceful protest.

Of course, this being Bath they’re not like those elsewhere, not at all, that would never do.

Oooh, snigger, tee hee

We’ve all heard of desirable postcodes, but for locals in Bath there’s another must-have status symbol – the city’s dialling code.
Owners of new £865,000 townhouses in the city were furious to find that, rather than the Bath 01225 code, they had been given 01761 phone numbers.

Owners, who moved in last year, have also contacted the communications ombudsman after being given the dialling codes for nearby Radstock and Midsomer Norton.

It’s not actually Radstock, it’s Temple Cloud, which sounds rather better really.

Still could be worse, telephone codes could go down to a more granular level and they could have ended up with a Twerton code. And that would be really cruel, because that’s where those nicely expensive houses are.

This will only make sense to a Bathonian of course….you may or may not want to share your dialling code with Chew Magna but you definitely, definitively, do not want it to identify you as being in Twerton.

There’s fair and there’s idiot over reaction

England supporters who engage in sick chanting are finally facing serious action after the Football Association moved to ban those who brought more shame on the nation during their friendly against Germany.

The FA’s patience with the Three Lions fan base snapped following the singing that marred Wednesday night’s game in Dortmund, which took place hours after Britain suffered its worst terrorist attack in more than a decade.

Nine months after England were almost thrown out of the European Championship for rioting in Marseille,

What were they doing? Throttling Belgians? Pushing a wall over onto Italians?

Err, no, they sang a song:

supporters ignored repeated warnings to ditch the odious chanting for which they have also become notorious by performing the song ‘10 German bombers’ in front of what was a television audience of millions.

Wouldn’t say it’s a great song, the joke rapidly becomes repetitive and so on. But no, this is an outrage apparently.

There were 10 German bombers in the air,
There were 10 German bombers in the air,
There were 10 German bombers, 10 German bombers,
10 German bombers in the air.
And the RAF from England shot 1 down,
And the RAF from England shot 1 down,
And the RAF from England, RAF from England,
The RAF from England shot 1 down.

These verses are then repeated with one more bomber being shot down each time, the 10th verse becoming “There was one” and “shot it down”, until the number of bombers reaches zero. The last two verses of the song are:

There were no more German bombers in the air,
There were no more German bombers in the air,
There were no more German bombers, no more German bombers,
No more German bombers in the air.
‘Cos the RAF from England shot them down,
‘Cos the RAF from England shot them down,
‘Cos the RAF from England, RAF from England,
‘The RAF from England shot them down.

The FA should FO, nu?

And it’s even possible that the Telegraph should FO too:

“The chant, which mocks German casualties during the Second World War, “


This is all a bit difficult, this Swing Low, Sweet Chariot stuff really

It is a famous refrain and melody. For many in the United States, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” enjoys a hallowed status as one of the cherished of 19th-century African-American spirituals, its forlorn lyrics invoking the darkness of slavery and the sustained oppression of a race.

But here, across the Atlantic, the song has developed a parallel existence, unchanged in form but utterly different in function, as a boisterous drinking song turned sports anthem.


“Such cross-cultural appropriations of U.S. slave songs betray a total lack of understanding of the historical context in which those songs were created by the American slave,” she said.

Well, yes:

In the 1950s, at the same time that slave-era spirituals were having a reawakening as part of the American civil rights movement, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” was becoming a popular drinking song in the rugby clubs and pubs of Britain, where the lyrics were often accompanied by a series of bawdy gestures.

And yes:

But Williams laughed when asked if those pieces reflected a larger debate occurring in the rugby community. “The typical crowd that goes to watch the English national rugby team is not likely to be an audience that’s going to think hard about these types of questions or spend much time worrying about political correctness,” he said.

But here’s the thing you see. Aren’t we English entirely and solely responsible for the horrors of chattel slavery in the first place? So what culture are we appropriating if it isn’t our own?

How odd

A survey of nearly 2,000 people on behalf of the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) found that despite 81% of respondents saying they liked literature because it promotes empathy, only 7% of the 400 writers they cited were from black, Asian or minority ethnic (Bame) backgrounds.

A largely non-BAME population reads largely non-BAME authors. You’d almost think there’s something called a culture, wouldn’t you?

Hmm, perhaps not quite the way it might be done

A British grandmother has bought the apartment in Portugal where Madeleine McCann vanished for half the asking price.

Kathleen Macguire-Cotton, who is in her sixties, is believed to have bought the apartment in Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve for just £113,000.

Identical properties in the Ocean Complex have been on sale for £255,000.

Mrs Macguire-Cotton revealed she is often offered money by passersby to see inside the flat, but has always declined requests out of respect.

I could imagine a pretty penny to be made from organising such “looks”.

Actually, given the publicity, a living or two could be made I would have thought.

Doesn’t sound quite right, does it?

The Met Office is warning of significant disruption from gale-force winds and heavy rain in much of Britain as the balmy start to the week is due to be blown away by Storm Doris.

Doris? A storm called Doris?

Names are very strongly associated with fashion and thus the age and class of the person with that name. Commonly, a name will start out as a Royal one – or more recently very well known in some other manner – and then move down the classes over the years.

Yes, OK, Doris Day, Doris Lessing, but the current position of the name in the British iconography is about right for a great grandmother of no great status or position in life (other, of course, then being the matriarch). It’s just difficult to think of a Storm Doris, what, a storm of teacosies and chilblain plasters?

Yes, this does help

In short, it has proved a spectacular fall for a cheerful young Englishman who seemed to have been born with every advantage, although his mother insisted yesterday that reports her son had access to a £250m trust fund were “ridiculous, absolute rubbish”.

Cottrell was expelled from his boarding school, Malvern College in Worcestershire, and never went on to university, but he proved such a hit at Ukip headquarters in London that no one suspected he might be in trouble with the law.

His mother claimed her son, who will be sentenced in early March, was coping “surprisingly well” with prison life. “I think it’s the boarding school [experience],” she said.

Can’t recall where I first saw that joke though. Decline and Fall?