Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Alcohol Price Rise: Party On!

Tories' message: no more "Drink drink drrrINK!"
Today, Home Secretary Theresa May unveils controversial plans to introduce a minimum alcohol price of 45p per unit. 

Conservative party officials say that currently, strong lager can be bought for as little as 13p a can, and a 2-litre bottle of gin for 29p. Last year too, figures claim, drink-related hospital admissions rose to 58 million.

North of the border, in Scotland a minimum price of 50p per unit has already been launched. It’s proved a popular move leading to spontaneous widespread teetotalism, while Scots are also starting to eat vegetables. 

But there’s been criticism of the plan from ugly freakish people, who claim their sex lives will decline if drink is made harder to obtain. Today too, by mid-morning coffee-time Google had logged six million searches from housewives in leafy Cheshire alone, for ‘moonshine’.

Supermarket ‘dine-in meal’ deals, which include wine, will also suffer when the hike comes in. M&S, Tesco and Sainsbury’s will all be affected. In far-flung Cornwall though, a mini-mart serving the rundown town of Camborne is fighting back. Owner Len Prole said: “This week we’re launching our £3.99 ‘Too Poor To Go Out, Ever’ eating-in dinner for two. You’ll get 20 cans of cider, some own-brand crisps and a pack of three Econodoms.  It’s great value; usually the johnnies alone are a pound a pop.”  

It’s not yet clear where the extra revenue raised by the increase will go, though the NHS is unlikely to receive any additional funding. From the House of Commons’ subsidised bar Prime Minister David Pillsbury explained: “The health service already does a fantastic job on its existing resources. In fact once no-one in Britain can afford to drink, we’ll be able to cut billions from NHS budgets. Now, trebles all round!”


Sunday, 25 November 2012

Old People At Christmas

"I'm 84, they never come ..."
500,000 elderly people in Britain will spend Christmas alone, a survey shows. Commissioned by the charity Hello Old PEople, the study examines attitudes of the young toward older folk during the festive season.

The survey revealed most young people wouldn’t be inviting elderly relatives to their Christmas meals or parties, and would rather befriend animals than older citizens. Many didn’t have time to visit an old person, especially at Christmas. Others said they couldn’t be bothered, or had a feeling elderly folk already received enough visits.

The chief reasons for older people being abandoned, say the youngsters, are their unattractive habits. Rudeness and tutting; mania for quizzes on flags of the world; a belief their anecdotes are worthy of film rights. It’s claimed many old folk endlessly bemoan the decline of common sense in modern times, and expect reverence simply because of their age.

But some young people did make visits. A handful were religious, others doing their Duke of Edinburgh Award. The survey also revealed affluent elderly people, especially those in bad health, received frequent calls from the young. The Enduring Old People charade is a well-known Christmas game, and can be lucrative.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Davidstow Airfield and Cornwall at War Museum

Fairey Gannet at Davidstow Museum.
The Davidstow Airfield and Cornwall at War Museum looks at RAF Davidstow Moor’s history, from its opening in October 1942 until late 1945 when the base closed down. Off the A.39 east of Camelford on the old airfield itself, the museum also covers other Cornish Royal Air Force bases, the Royal Navy around the Duchy, the Army, civilian services and the wartime home front.

Current pride of place goes to a rare ex-Royal Navy Fairey Gannet electronic countermeasures aircraft from 1956. Other exhibits include pilotless target drones, the deck gun from a U-boat, a tracked Rapier missile vehicle and the cockpit section from a 1950s Vampire jet trainer. As well as Davidstow’s history, the museum explores the Fleet Air Arm, Air Transport Auxiliary and the Royal Observer Corps; taking visitors back in time too are recreated wartime shops and the Home Guard exhibition.

The airfield still has many original buildings, including its old watch-tower, blast shelters and machine-gun ranges, while it’s not widely known that Davidstow was once home to Formula One motor-racing.

Annual special events include the War Machines weekend each July, which takes in weapons displays as well as exhibitions by the Cornwall Military Vehicle Trust. Airfield tours, group and school visits are available by appointment. For further information, check out  

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Phillip Schofield: Boy Blunder!

Hard-hitting journalist Phillip Bryan Schofield
I’ve never much liked Phillip Schofield.  For me he’s a bland Peter Pan figure, forever appearing on insipid daytime TV. As the Independent put it: “He is as anodyne as a ceramic ornament above a fireplace, and occupies more or less the same position in most people's consciousness".

But this week, Schofield interviewed Prime Minister David Pillsbury.  The usual form would be a soft cuddly sofa chat, during which neither would break sweat. 

Instead though, live on air and wholly out of character, Schofield suddenly went all investigative. He confronted Pillsbury with a list of people he’d found mentioned online as paedophiles. Inadvertently the camera caught the names of former senior Conservative politicians on Schofield’s list, and broadcast them to 1.2 million viewers.

Pillsbury was clearly caught off-guard, but countered pretty well. Asked if he’d be speaking to the people listed, he replied that Schofield’s grilling smacked of a “witch-hunt, particularly against people who are gay." Later, a statement from Downing Street put down the anchor’s action as a “silly stunt."  The programme, This Morning, has now made a grovelling apology for Schofield’s ill-starred gaffe. 

TV trial of real people based on internet rumour, the alleged crimes truly foul, conducted by presenters who moments later will be talking recipes or pop culture. That's frightening.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Anti-Gay Priest: " I Was Only Following Holy Orders"

A mad old bigot. There, how does it feel?
A furious row has erupted after Cardinal Keith O'Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, was named Bigot of the Year by gay rights charity Stonewall.  The church has criticised the award as “an outrage” and showing “significant lack of judgement.”

What has O’Brien done?  Recently he’s called off talks with the Scottish government over same-sex marriage, which is to be made legal. The new laws won't force churches to hold same-sex religious ceremonies. But O’Brien has compared the reform with the re-introduction of slavery, describing it as a "subversion of a universally accepted human right.”

The Cardinal’s also drawn a disgusting comparison between gay marriage and paedophilia, saying: "What if a man likes little girls? Can he adopt a little girl and then just have a little girl at home? We are working towards the destruction of any sort of moral standards.”

I have no affiliation with Stonewall, but I do have gay friends.  Some people, gay or straight, say the award will polarise and entrench opinions, others that attitudes such as O'Brien's deserve rigorous exposure. But the church’s interference in matters outside its dwindling flock, its belief in entitlement to speak for wider society, its appalling outbursts, can do it nothing but harm.  Of course I acknowledge Cardinal O’Brien’s expertise, as a Catholic priest, in the field of paedophilia.