Sunday, November 25, 2012

The unspeakable Ms Thacker

News report:
A council is investigating a decision to remove three children from the care of foster parents because they are members of the UK Independence Party.
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council sparked outrage when it removed the children because the couple's political affiliation was seen as being at odds with the youngsters' European backgrounds. By the council's own admission the youngsters were happy and there was no question mark over the foster parents' provision of care.
Joyce Thacker, the council's strategic director of children and young people's services, said the decision to remove the children was taken after consultation with lawyers. Asked what the specific problem was with the couple being Ukip members, Mrs Thacker told BBC Breakfast: "These children are from EU migrant backgrounds and Ukip has very clear statements on ending multiculturalism, not having that going forward, and I have to think about how sensitive I am being to those children."

I am so outraged by Thackerism that for once I am at a loss for words.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


There's a moral here somewhere....

A sad September story

One morning, during my Aegean sojourn, neighbours turned up with a cardboard box and a story. They had come across a large bird being bullied by some crows. The bird couldn't fly, so it was trying to hide itself in a crevice in some rocks. Imagine my surprise when I lifted the bird out of the box and saw the bird above.
What a magnificent specimen, made more striking because of the extensive apricot coloration and the spotting on its front. A closer examination revealed that it was extemely thin, clearly hadn't eaten for several days, and that it had a badly injured "hip" rendering it incapable of lift-off or flight. Sadly, there being no veterinary service locally capable of dealing with birds, I had no choice in the end but to put it out of its misery, a melancholy task that I would not wish on anyone.
So, what kind of a Barn Owl was it? Seeing all that colour and spotting, I thought at first that it might be of the race guttata, but subsequent investigation of the literature - and a chat with my guru Barn Owl colleague P - confirmed that it was not dark enough, and in any case, the guttata range does not include that part of Europe. So, it was a variant of the nominate race alba ("our" Barn Owl). The lack of pectination on the third toe and the lack of moult suggested it was a young bird, and the extensive spotting on the underwing coverts (and perhaps the very dark facial "ruff") suggested that it was female. As to how it got its injuries, I can only guess. Unfortunately, this part of the Aegean has a shooting culture: anything that moves is game for the guns.
One good thing that comes out of all this is the fact that the neighbours who brought the bird to me cared enough to do so, and were as sad as I was when they finally heard that the bird had "not survived".

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Defined as "brazen effrontery". My favourite example concerns a young actor in Hollywood, who was having dinner with friends when he noticed the legendary producer, Sam Goldwyn, sitting at a table on the other side of the restaurant.
The young actor discreetly went across to the great man and said:" I know this is outrageous, sir, but I wonder if you could acknowledge me when you pass my table as you leave. It would so impress the people I am with."
Sam Goldwyn said "I admire your chutzpah, kid. Sure I'll do that for you. What's your name?"
And sure enough, as the producer passed the young actor's table, he slapped him on the back and said: "Oh hi, Charlie, good to see you again How're you doing?"
Charlie looked up and replied curtly: . "Piss off, Sam, can't you see I'm busy?"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Percy Morgan

I can't believe I haven't told you about Percy Morgan. A pillar of the community where I grew up, a pillar partly because he had a good suit and a motor car, but mostly because he was the choirmaster at the Methodist Chapel in Hadley High Street.
A remote figure for me, Percy Morgan was celebrated in our family because, after the service on a Sunday evening, he could be seen slipping into the Green Dragon by the back entrance, and the back entrance was visible to us from our front room window. No reason, of course, why he shouldn't wet his whistle after a vigorous bout of singing, except, again of course, because as a Methodist he had taken the pledge, ie, sworn off the demon drink.
This apparent hypocrisy delighted my atheist father, but it didn't mean a lot to me. In fact the limit of my interest in Percy Morgan were his two daughters, smashers both of them, but way above my station, they having a dad with a good suit and a motor car.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gangnam workout

I still haven't started my Phoenix Exercise Programme (lack of time? no, lack of enthusiasm), but I am now considering taking up Gangnam-style dancing. It could be the making of me. Either that or I will dislocate every joint in my body in the first ten seconds.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Watch out, they're everywhere!

I am deeply worried about the state of the nation. I have seen a certain famous personality on TV a number of times. I cannot name her, of course, but I will call her Jean Road-Carrier. From her physical appearance, her outlandish way of dressing and her vitriolic language, it is clear to me that Jean R-C is a witch. Appearances with other females on such dangerous programmes as Loose Women (the title itself is a giveaway!) lead me to the inevitable conclusion that the nation is at peril from a resurgence of witchcraft.
 Investigations into this evil phenomenon - and there have been precious few - are either ignored or suppressed by the powers-that-be, though whether through fear or collusion, I cannot say.
It is time to set up a special court to deal with these evil females, to bring them to justice and so protect the good citizens of this realm from the Powers of Darkness.
After all, it's a shame to have only one Bonfire Night a year......

Monday, November 05, 2012

Bird table, Florida style

After England's wettest summer in a hundred years, and with my fenland garden devoid of birds at the moment (not sure why), it was poignant to receive the above photograph from my Floridan grandson, Deniz. He and his father knocked the birdtable up from scrap wood, and in less than the time it takes to say "Cyanocitta cristata" - or "Cardinalis cardinalis" for that matter - they had birds feeding on it.
I say "poignant", but there are more brutal adjectives I could use....