The English

The passing of Ye Olde Englande

This story can be read a couple of different ways:

They are the traditional pleasures of a British summer fair. But the spin of the tombola and the fun of the coconut shy are being eclipsed by the rustle of paperwork and the shuffle of the inspector\’s footsteps.

Village fete organisers say they are having to cancel events because volunteers are struggling to cope with the demands of officialdom.

It\’s the bureaucracy run mad, insisting upon pages and pages of forms for the simplest things:

This newspaper approached public bodies to ask what licences and other permissions would be needed for a hypothetical fete on a village green, which was expected to attract 750 people and which would feature standard attractions including a coconut shy, fancy dress parade, bouncy castle, home-made cakes and bands playing music.

One council press officer, asked to explain what was required, said: \”To give you all the information you need would take absolutely ages.

\”Unless you issue a formal Freedom of Information request, we won\’t be able to give all of it, because it really is that much information.\”

Or it\’s the insurance companies:

Many of the requirements arise because councils insist on public liability insurance and insurance companies, in turn, insist on health and safety guidelines being adhered to.

But we might think that the insurance companies are simply being used as enforcers for those reams of paperwork.

But there is something quintessentially English being lost here. And no, this isn\’t just rose tinted spectacles looking back at an England that never was. There really was a revolution here in the 1660-1690 period, something far more important than the events of the 1640s or 1688. Influenced by them, of course, but what it amounted to was that you no longer needed permission to do things.

You could set up a club, an organisation (unless, as is well known, you were a trade union) to do anything you wanted to and you didn\’t have to ask permission, inform anyone, get a licence, beg allowance. You just did it. It\’s this that led to the explosion in civil society. Sports clubs, coffee houses turning into insurance exchanges, book clubs, the Royal Society (they did get approval but they didn\’t have to have it) and so on.

It really was something very different from what happened in any other country at that time: heck, it was past WWII before you could set up an organisation of more than 25 Frenchmen without permission from Paris.

Burke\’s little platoons came directly from this freedom and it is precisely this freedom, this liberty, to get together with whoever you wish and do as you want, that we now call the freedom of association. And it\’s a freedom as vital to the maintenance of a free society as is the freedom of speech, about which we expend a great deal more ink and electrons.

In one sense it doesn\’t matter whether it\’s the bureaucracy or the insurance demands which is throttling it, something is and we need to stop that encroachement on our liberty to meet, gather and do as we damn well please without permission or approval.

In another, of course it matters which for without identifying the problem correctly we\’ll not find the solution.

Me, I say it\’s the bureaucracy, the insurance companies merely being the enforcers. So let\’s kill all the bureaucrats so that we can see another flowering of civil society, just as we led the world the first time around, when we were the first nation to actually have the freedom to have such a civil society.

Women are happiest at age 28

So we\’re told by Clairol:

Researchers discovered women feel most confident and happy with their love life and body shape shortly before they reach 30.

It is also the period in their life when they enjoy the best sex – but the happiness is relatively shortlived.


\”The age of 28 has been pinpointed as the time in a woman\’s life their hair looks the best, body shape is at its peak and confidence is at an all-time high.


The age at which people get married for the first time has continued to increase. In 1961 the average age at first marriage in England and Wales was 25.6 years for men and 23.1 years for women; by 2000 this had risen to 30.5 and 28.2 years, respectively.

\’Nuff said really.


Everyone knows HobNobs went to private school and then to Oxbridge along with their friends the Guardian journalists.

Whereas custard creams grew up on a sink estate and are probably robbing your car right now as we speak.



Am I allowed to make an Irish joke here?

Gangsters videoed their crime boss accidentally blowing his brains out with a handgun during a drink and drugs party, police revealed yesterday.

Philip Collopy, 29, a member of a feuding gang in Limerick, Ireland, apparently did not realise his Glock 9mm pistol was loaded when he pointed it at his head and pulled the trigger in front of shocked onlookers.

Which city?

… what a fucking shithole! It was like the set of Little Britain, stuffed with mongs, chavs, mobility scooters, bad drivers and fucking suicidal pedestrians. Plus the road layout was designed by someone who expected that people would all be travelling on Vespas or something.

I thought I lived in an utter toilet, but fuck me, it\’s like Portmeiron by comparison.



The British and queues

Kevin Tripp, an ME sufferer who had a five-year-old daughter, was punched to the floor as he stood by his trolley at a Sainsbury\’s store in south London last June. He collapsed to the ground headfirst and died of brain injuries.

Jurors were told that the 57-year-old had been mistaken for another shopper, who had angrily accused Antonette Richardson of pushing into a queue.

She was so incensed that she rang her boyfriend and summoned him to the store in Merton. Tony Virasami joined her within minutes, took Mr Tripp to be the culprit and said "Don\’t mess with my wife" before striking him "a most almighty" blow, the court heard.

Some take queuing very seriously indeed.

Something gun salute

The boys are letting off the big guns in the park again. Not really quite sure what it\’s all about so I had a quick look at the "on this day in history" part of my diary.

"Britain declared war on France in 1778."

Worth celebrating, certainly.


Posh pubs

So, my flatmate says, try out the posh pub around the corner.

So I did.

Apparently a posh pub is one where the clientele are fat birds with pearls. With expensive beer.

Not really my kind of thing.

Ho hum.

Minor point

and from an NHS that swallowed the GDP of a small country

That got me thinking. Just what country should we compare the NHS to?

Equaiting spending on the NHS to GDP isn\’t really quite right. For GDP is value added, not value consumed (yes, of course, the NHS does produce things of value, but not necessarily to the same amount as what we spend upon it. Everyone, but everyone agrees on that point. Even those who love the NHS…for they say that it\’s the most just, fair, efficient etc etc system possible, so it produces more value than what it consumes. Others of course think it produces less. ). But leave that aside.

NHS spending is some £110 billion a I think? Roughly speaking? Call it $165 billion (at a 1:1.5 exchange rate)?


Err, that\’s Hungary. Or Israel. OK, both small countries so fair enough.

It\’s also more than Venezuela or Nigeria….both big countries I think?

Or ten Albanias. Or, if you really want to boggle, 43 Congos.

That\’s actually a pretty good measure of wealth and poverty actually. We 60 million odd Brits spend more on our health each year than 43 times what the roughly 60 million people of the Congo produce in total each year.

Lady Antonia Fraser

In a final interview conducted in at his North London home in late October, and published just a day after his death was announced, he reveals his passion for cricket.

He once famously described the game the "greatest thing that God created on earth" which was better than sex.

A nice present to leave your widow, eh?

Otis Ferry

Contrary to popular belief, prison life is not tough, and in this namby-pamby society we even get our own televisions, although I have quickly realised that watching it is quite a punishment in itself.

As Evelyn Waugh pointed out in Decline and Fall, after a British public school prison holds no terrors.

Mr. Ferry was educated at Marlborough and Eton.


A total of 30 million Brits have foreign ancestors, with 23 per cent originating from Ireland.

Given that Homo Sapiens originated in Africa it would be true to say that 100% of Britons have immigrant ancestors.


As Always

A woman was told to remove her Christmas lights by a housing association worker in case they offended non-Christian neighbours.

Turns out that the council doesn\’t mind, the non-Christian neighbours are all in favour of them and the only person who was even vaguely worried about them was the housing association worker.

A few too many courses on racial awareness perhaps?