TV Adverts Tour de France

I’m really old-fashioned, and only watch BBC TV – which doesn’t carry adverts.

For the past three weeks I’ve been glued to ITV4. It carries the Tour de France, and I love the drama of it all. It starts innocuously, then a few riders will break away from the Peloton (technical term meaning the main body of riders). Each day they cover 150+ kilometres, travelling at 30-45km/hr. Exhausting work, and that continues for three weeks. I’m full of admiration for all those involved. Not just the riders; there’s a horde of support vehicles, dozens of motorbikes, who provide support, water, cameramen, and police, and at least five helicopters. All of these folk buzz around the cyclists (they are much more than that, they are superb sportsmen) all day. It’s incredible that they don’t bump into each other, more often.

In this heat the Tour de France gives me the opportunity to fill a jug of water, perhaps the odd snack and to sit on my backside for about four hours. Constant attention is needed you never know when there will be a breakaway. Collisions do happen, and can be both damaging to the riders and spectacular.

It can be annoying. Given half a chance they will break for adverts. Not only are these banal they are repeated again and again. It makes me question the logic of TV supported by adverts. It’s even more ridiculous when you realise that companies like Sky charge monthly fees and then also force its customers to watch adverts. Who has gone mad?

ITV clearly buy the coverage from another company. That lucky bunch also give their signals to about 200 other TV companies worldwide. It makes BBC’s licence fee such a joy. Another way, used by many of my friends, is to pre-record the event, then replay without adverts. Some recorders will do that automatically, others allow you to revel in not watching adverts as they flash on the screen as you scoot towards the next portion of the show.

Whilst I’m in a moaning mood I’ll just mention the commentators. They are all experts, knowing all about cycle racing. They tend to forget they have an audience. The TV pictures move around a lot, hopping from one group of riders to another. The commentary does two things I dsislike. They don’t link their chat to me, and they assume that I know all the riders. Giving out rider numbers would help.

Must go, the Tour starts in a minute.

Felixstowe Future

We’ve been asked for our views of the future for Felixstowe.

When you live in a town it’s not easy to be objective. Generally most of us will say we love this town, especially those who were not born in Suffolk.


Like everywhere we have a fair majority of incomers. Not sure it’s local government planning to encourage well-heeled newcomers. There is a lack of so-called social housing, making it very difficult for our young folk to stay in the town. The old-style Council housing helped to ensure that link that allowed people to move as their lives changed. Market forces don’t allow for such flexibility.

We have the spectre of Trinity College in our vision. Trinity are the third-largest property owners in the country, having been given all the lands once owned by the Church by King Henry VIII. Every decade they have arrived in Felixstowe and built a housing estate, making a lot of money. None of that income is returned to the town. I have suggested, in the past, that the college should provide bursaries for Felixstowe children and 20 acres of land be set aside to create a Centre of Building Excellence. Both ideas have been rejected. Thats a pity because Trinity should form closer links. One French example is now printing houses, much cheaper than conventional methods, and this region has a real need to examine a range of options, and not, as at present, rely upon national housebuilders. They do little to enhance an area, and estates usually lack facilities, encouraging more traffic and failing to build communities.

The Council should encourage self-build. That will encourage local initiative and create character.

The Council gave Bloor Homes 17.5 acres of coastal land. As far as I am aware no money changed hands. The Council has consistently stuck to its line that this was a commercial contract, effectively meaning that the true owners of the land should never know.

It could be argued that too many of the Felixstowe South dwellings are now used as second homes. We’ll never know. The Waverley Hotel development produced a number of apartments. I understand that the whole development was bought by one foreign concern. A good indication of the state of our country today.

The Bartlet complex was left to the community by Dr Bartlet in 1918, built in 1928 to provide respite care for elderly people. That’s now gone without any substitute in place. We have ‘bed blockers’ in our hospitals instead. Many of the patients in our Felixstowe Hospital are from elsewhere. The Bartlet meanwhile has been tastefully developed.


There’s a decline in all services. Transport does not improve. With our town, and the Kirton and the Trimleys, together with the new developments, all using the same exit routes we are in danger of being strangled by traffic. It’s hard to leave town in the rush hour. With the increasing encroachment by the Port upon our railway it can only get worse.

That difficulty can be turned to our advantage. Once here it’s not easy to leave, so stay. Use our local facilities. Still too many shops are closing, even the charity shops are finding it more difficult. We need a local bus service that never leaves the peninsular. Too much emphasis is allowed for the needs of commercial operators. It’s time our local needs were acknowledged.

The shared space doesn’t work. Imagine being a three-year old breathing in so many noxious gases, to what advantage? There was an inspired suggestion made by the previous owner of the Wharf who saidt the ‘shared space’ area be turned into a covered esplanade, allowing open air restaurants and other facilities. She wanted to emphasise our Edwardian roots.

One fatal mistake made by the Council was to reject the escalator to bring people from beach to the town.It would help to keep the town alive, and could have generated income.

Another lost opportunity was the sale of the Spa Pavilion for £1. It is now clear it was a wasted opportunity, that could have encouraged much better use of that building. There is now no publicly owned public space where we can all assemble, although a large hall at the Leisure Centre could be upgraded, perhaps turned into a small theatre.

Plans now seem to include a new sports centre. A good idea, although we do have interests beyond football. The sailing club at the Ferry needs proper training facilities.

There’s a plethora of yellow lines most of which are, quite rightly, ignored. They are not necessary, and should be removed. In any event our police service no longer really exists on the streets.

There is a feeling that the Councils no longer represent the people. They have instead become intent on saving money or making money to cover their own expenses. We need a more active opposition, or a public forum where available money to be spent should be publicly broadcast, with public meetings where voters decide on the allocation of resources.

We had a Blue Flag Beach taken from us to save money. A form of madness, that was no better than the coastal engineering works designed to save our beaches, which are already showing that they will not work.

The pier development and Mannings Amusements are legacies left by a bygone age. They do little to attract people to the town. The Sunday Market is disappearing, probably for the best. Very few stallholders came from our town. A choice has been made: the southern end of the beach attracts traditional ‘kiss me quick’ hats whilst on the other side of the pier with the Alex, the Fludyers, the Golf Club and Felixstowe Ferry bringing a different clientele. How long that can persist is questionable.


There’s a naive belief that the Port is the lifeblood of the town. The Chinese owners are not interested in our town, but in exploiting the commercial opportunities offered by our location. In recent weeks we have seen the first moves towards automation with new cranes and container handlers. Look at Rotterdam to see the future for Felixstowe. As an employment centre it will now diminish. We need to create a business centre that does not rely upon the Port.

As retail shops decline online sales increase, which means a swarm of delivery vans, who cause disruption. Why do we allow such chaos. No home delivery vans should be allowed in Felixstowe. All should be sent to a warehouse, built to handle part-load shipments. From there we need a fleet of pollution free vehicles (are you listening Royal Mail?) that deliver to every house, every day. Reduce pollution, increase local employment, set a national standard, revitalise Royal Mail.

That’s enough. Ask again if you think any of this helps.

Relaxing Sunday

That’s what I hoped. It’s not really working out that way. I moved here nearly three years ago. Having some time to spare I decided to spring clean! It’s a bit late but I’m always slow. Started in the airing cupboard, where I’d thrown a lot of boxes, stuffed with those last-minute odds and ends I’d found as I was rushing through my old house on the last day. They’d not been touched since.

What a delight. As I took each item out of a box memories came flooding. There was a super-slim me selling books to a beautiful woman. Taken when I was at university, and we had just published ‘A Students Guide to Success at Geography’. A joint effort by five students at LSE.  I made the Guardian newspaper with an article I’d written about how boys and girls should apply to their college of choice. The Guardian had a feminist page in those days, and its editor regarded my entry as sexist. It wasn’t. That didn’t matter, the publicity meant we sold all our print run. It was my introduction to publishing. Sitting on the floor cutting and pasting copy to send to the printer, having written articles during college lectures.

There was a lovely bunch of photos taken when I led a scientific expedition to the Lake District. We surveyed all the upland water bodies (small lakes). We did a plane table survey: take two points to triangulate to a third unknown point. It’s a slow process, but accurate. In the Royal Geographic Society library I’d found a handwritten account of a British surveyor, with two Indian helpers, who’d walked from Peking up into Mongolia, in about 1880, surveying as they went. Fascinating. If I still paid the fees I’d use my Fellowship to find that text, and republish it.

We’d also taken a canvas boat, all rolled up in a tube. Looked OK until we had to put it in a rucksack, on someone’s back and walk up steep hills. Image a ten foot tall person, with no stability. It was perilous, and dangerous. As a result I designed a small catamaran, four pods, each of which fitted over a rucksack, and two poles. Back home I worked with an engineering student to make a prototype. We used galvanised tin, used to make ductwork, as I was then working as a quantity surveyor and had access to such material. Never did get it made commercially. It’s still an option, for one day.

I’m frustrated at present: the web site software is posing problems, and I can’t load any pictures, but I will soon.

The airing cupboard has left me a great assortment of gear. At the bottom was a box of kitchen cleaning materials and shoe cleaning brushes and creams.

I hope you’ll excuse me stopping now, as I have plenty of work to do in my kitchen, which is deserves a good clean.

World Cup

Immediate Reactions: Day Two


BBC radio commentators should not get so excited. They are there to communicate.Keep calm, talk with urgency and strength. Stop shouting.

On ITV there’s been a Scot (I presume) whom I find very difficult to understand. I’m lazy, and don’t want to concentrate upon speech when my eyes are watching football.

Can anyone tell me of a World Cup team (so far) that doesn’t have a player linked to our football league? Does that tell you something? How can we win when our league is peopled by foreign players? Anyway, are they allowed to take our money abroad?

Professional fouls

These continue to happen, and are increasingly tolerated. They spoil the game. Either

1) Send the offender off immediately, perhaps to a Sin Bin for a period of time, or

2) Allow all fouls without penalty. No matter what is said, some players and teams seem to rely upon such fouls.

3) Praise to Russia. They look as if they will do a good job. There’s no real reason to regard Russia as the enemy. They have a bad human rights record, but so do other countries; USA, North Korea, and Israel spring to mind.

4) Such international events should always be shown on the BBC. That remains our national broadcaster, and if you own a TV or watch online, you must have a licence. There’s no reason why other TV channels should be able to exclude the BBC just because they pay huge sums of money.

The Party’s Over

My dinner party was a great success. Snippets of that will appear as I scrawl my latest thoughts.

This week has seen the awful results of this Government’s decisions rising to the surface like plastic waste. Inward investment has been described as relevant, my local BBC TV Look East boasts that 59 new projects have been financed by foreign investors. The same day Jaguar and Rover announce they are moving production to the Czech Republic. The Czech’s are jubilant. British jobs, and our invaluable skills, will be lost in order to satisfy the short-term profit of a small coterie of investors.

Is it wrong to suggest that the national interest should come first? This is an era of globalisation. It has become one of exploitation. Privatised industries do not work. The much maligned nationalised utilities provided a better service at a lower price, even though the Treasury routinely stole any profit, allowing them all to degrade. Our NHS is slowly being starved, and privatisation allowed to creep in. Our retail industry is creaking, and will collapse unless action is taken.

It’s not a happy situation, and you all know I could rabbit on about the inequalities that are an ever-growing threat. Remember it’s not that many years ago that the industrial revolution condemned the poor to increased penury and the rich owners were allowed to wallow in their estates. Now they pass their mansions over to the National Trust, and charge the poor to see the results of their forebears labour.

National pride has been lost. There are glimmers of hope. Gareth Southgate may bring home some kudos from Russia. I hope he does. My dinner party this week was very successful. I now have a clean and shiny home, after 3 or 4 days of intensive domestic labour. Local shopkeepers have made a few bob, although restaurateurs are shaking their fists.

Shopping has been interesting. Supermarkets hide food. They want to sell ‘added value’ so everything is now gaudily packaged to attract the overworked customer. ‘Don’t wait in a queue’ a lovely sales assistant urges, ‘come here to the self check-out’. She doesn’t realise that her job will be lost as a result. We will buy online so that programmed slaves, like those stuck in a booksellers warehouse, can be exploited and make greater profits for owners and investors.

My antipasta went down well, even though my fridge and store cupboard now contains all the stuff I forgot to serve. Today I shall feast on asparagus, chicken kebab, and left-over mackerel. The slow cooker worked wonders on the shoulder of lamb, even though the young butcher made a hash of removing the bones. Herbs from the garden, a bottle white wine, and garlic (always garlic with lamb) had my guests cooing with delight. Just shows what eight hours sitting on a light bulb can do for their taste buds.

There is still joy in the world. The sun is shining. Young birds are exploring the garden. Cats provide sport for a water pistol (cats must realise they cannot kill 250 million birds without personal cost). I’m off to an old-time musical, at the local sailing club. Last week it was a bluegrass band.

Look local. Buy and enjoy local food. Relish the talents we have in our great country.

Dinner Party

Beverley Nicholls held three dinner parties a year. Not wishing to emulate his lifestyle, although he was very privileged, I do share his passion for food, and good company.

This week I shall host a small dinner party. That’s always exciting. My circle of friends is small, and most are beautiful ladies. Not sure why, I don’t feel like a lecherous old man, although that is just my own opinion. In any case I love my friends, even though I no longer have any desire to physically ravish any of them, however attractive they may appear.

It was a random decision. I knew I was going to be alone for at least a week, and my place needed to be tidied. That’s the first requirement: I must be motivated, spurred into action. A good friend says of me ‘he will do anything for others, but rarely does anything for himself’. I’m getting better; I now shower, shave and dress in clean clothes every day. I also try to keep my place tidy. There’s the rub!

However tidy I try to be it’s always untidy. Waste-paper baskets remain crammed, I know there’s a lump of uneaten brisket festering in a slow cooker in the kitchen; that I can’t be troubled to remove. Or perhaps I know it will be too much trouble? Books, papers, odd pieces of equipment, remain where I placed them, ages ago. I am a slob!

That’s one reason for a dinner invitation. I’m then motivated to tidy up my place. That always takes me much longer than expected, but I’ve learnt to start cleaning at least three days before the big event.

Slowly the tension rises. Planning a menu, I flick through the Web and my collection of books, ignoring the recipes provided by celebrity cooks; they are always too expensive, even if you can get past the turbot (excuse me fishmonger, do you have any turbot today?) and caviar, or truffles. Not sold in my local shops. They will then spend money on all those ‘extras’ that make the dish, usually costly items that must be used before they decay, and which the chef suggests just need to be sprinkled over the dish at the last minute. What shall I do with the stuff I don’t use for that menu? Wait until its grown an overcoat then add to the compost? Yes, that’ll do.

Menu planned. It’s now time to go shopping. My favourite butcher has just gone out of business, they pushed up his rent and rates beyond reason, and he’s scarpered. The other favourite is closed on Monday. I want a shoulder of lamb. Stupid of me really. This country now sends all its lamb abroad often still alive, to be slaughtered in the halal fashion by a man who’s never yielded a knife before. I shudder for those poor creatures. Upshot of farmer’s greed is that we can no longer buy our best lamb. It’s a disgrace.

I like shopping. Unfortunately my basic menu plan is corrupted as I waddle from one shop to the next, laden with more and more interesting titbits. Starter was to be smoked peppers on soda bread. I’d found the Spelt flour at home (used by the Romans, y’know). It has now turned to an array of antapasta dishes we can share. That’s quadrupled preparation time already. No ricotta to be found anywhere but I do find buffalo mozzarella, and pasta shapes going cheap. OK, there will be some modification. Buying the lamb must wait until tomorrow. I’ll put it into a slow cooker (suitably cleaned and sterilised), with loads of garlic and herbs. Hope I can get it boned. It’s a job I never relish, as I’ve never got one of those vicious knives held in the fist, in a stabbing action, used by butchers.

Pudding? I’ve invited three women, so it must be chocolate. A mousse, perhaps? I found a bottle of creme de menthe in the cupboard. I wonder if they all like peppermint chocolate? Not sure. They are a fickle lot, and I have to retain a memory of the likes and dislikes of each one. No mushrooms. No pork or beef, although she will will eat lamb and venison. Hmm. Fish can be difficult, and I normally have to ask as I issue the invitation. Shellfish is relished by some, hated by others. Best left, and anyway I’m thinking about pudding. Something chocolate. Hmm.

I bought some Sicilian cheese from a street market in Manningtree yesterday, so some goat cheese, a lump of  Cheddar, a few biscuits and grapes will see that sorted.

Nibbles to start: I have Quinoa crisps and olives. We’ll see if they work. Coffee maker better come out of storage, and I can then offer a selection of capsules. I’ll be prepared for the environmental sneers.

However the local supermarket (Waitrose!) has 25% off wines. I buy seven bottles: all are organic, online to be collected tomorrow Status restored. They will all bring wine, making ten bottles for four of us. Should be enough. They will all walk home, to be sober up!

Entertaining is so much fun!

Vicar’s Daughter has failed

We are all bored by the arguments within the Cabinet, and elsewhere, about Brexit. The current policy (if one exists) is looking in the wrong direction.

Nation State

The UK remains a class-ridden society. Those concerned with our future relationship with Europe tend to be those with investments or interests abroad. For most of us Europe is a great place for a holiday, if we can overcome the avaricious demands of budget airlines.

Our real concerns are with this country. Our government and the hedge fund man who shares the Vicar”s Daughter’s bed don’t think the same way. They want profit, from wherever it can be found.

It’s hard to buy British lamb because most is sent abroad, some still on the hoof, which is inexcusable for an animal-loving country like Britain. About half of UK businesses are now foreign owned, and we allow multi-nationals to take our money then craftily  base themselves in Eire (or elsewhere) and pay no tax in the UK. What’s the government doing about that? Cadburys was sold to a US company, who have changed the products, taken well over four billion abroad, yet failed to pay any UK tax. It’s a travesty.

What must be done now

Britain first. Let’s get our own house in order before we worry about the demands of others. We have enough folk to cope. What’s lacking is motivation. This government, controlled by a parsimonious Chancellor, led by a submissive woman who has achieved success by keeping her head down and avoiding conflict. We don’t need her now. We need strong leadership, with a clear vision of the future.

Unfortunately we don’t have a politician with those abilities.

Where are we Going?

One of the benefits of old age is that you no longer have really care. It’s a time to be dispassionate about the troubles of the world. In a foreseeable future we will no longer be here.

It’s a good time to tell the truth. In my town we have the largest port in the country. Last month they installed two cranes, this month they are taking delivery of eight contraptions that will trundle containers around the port. These all operate automatically. What will happen to the workers who operate these machines? They will disappear.

Nobody has mentioned the consequences of such robots arriving.

Yesterday I was urged to use a self-service checkout at a supermarket. The staff member, a lovely lady who needs her job, doesn’t realise that it may soon disappear.

The United Kingdom is getting more obese by the day. Look on the shelves of supermarkets. Food is a rare commodity. Processed food, with added value, now occupies most of the shelves.

Personally I’ve joined a slimming course. I just need to lose 100 pounds! I’m dismayed by the remarks of my fellow fatties; ‘I can’t do without something sweet’; ‘McDonalds do offer healthy options’; ‘I love pizzas’. So it goes on. They respond to advertising. None of them like cooking. Many watch celebrity chefs on the box. They all feel sorry for themselves, and are keen to place blame for their grossness elsewhere.

The power of advertising.

With March 2019 we will (apparently) leave the EU.The USA is poised to take over our agriculture and our health care.


USA Import tariffs

President Trump is playing a simple game, unfortunately there will be consequences. Looking back over his business career he’s not been too successful, there are a large number of failures. In business they can be regarded as normal, particularly if you are a large client.

As a national President he’s playing a dangerous game. Europe is larger than the USA, Chine is much larger, and don’t forget all the others, including India and the whole of South America, let alone the Commonwealth countries.

The USA may see itself as the major global player. It may get a shock. This could be the start of the end of US domination. There’s been tolerance of this ‘Johnny Come Lately’ but the worm will turn

We must wait for the measured responses that must arrive. They may not be obviously confrontational, but will show a growing resistance to US pressure.

Dangerously this Trump exercise could just be a bluff. For the UK the major markets that the USA wants to exploit are agriculture and health. We must vigorously resist such incursions. Our food is, by and large, wholesome and free from chemicals. US products are not so perfect. The NHS is sacrosanct, even if our present government believes it can be fragmented to allow private industry to grab attractive slices. Most UK citizens would baulk at the idea of an American style free access health-care.

This may be a time when the EU shows it has guts. It needs to fight back. Take USA out of the market and there’s still huge opportunities. Sanctions could, perhaps should, be imposed on the USA. It would be good to see a few bloody noses but that’s not what global trade is about.

It’s time to be more inward looking. To care more about this country.

Daily Express newspaper?

A look at the Daily Express website ( and all looks well. There’s a good range of reports, covering a number of topics. Look closely and you begin to see selectivity at work: yesterday 30th May 2018 the lead article was about cold-callers. It announced that the government were going to look at this menace, but no legislation was immediately planned. The front page picture showed a family of 20 children, with another on the way. Prodigious effort or not helping the over-population problem? The paper makes no comment.

Are these news? In both cases they are about to happen. News? I’m not sure. The rest of the paper is a mixture of tittle-tattle, mostly about celebrities, and sport. British people love sport, and they will pay for the privilege of seeing stars perform: very few are British, it’s rare for a footballer to have been born in this country, let alone in the town or city he is alleged to represent. Isn’t that something of a Pound Drain? They take our money back to their own countries. In Rwanda they are suggesting that Arsenal should carry their logo and are willing to pay for that dubious privilege, so something will come back, perhaps.

Should the ‘red top’ newspapers (and the Daily Mail) be allowed to use the name newspaper? It’s questionable.

I went to the Suffolk Show yesterday It’s always a nostalgic visit. The machines get bigger, especially the crop sprayers which have killed too many insects. I never have to clean my car windscreen these days. It’s dreadful destruction, and farmers now make money from oil seed rape, the bright yellow splahed all over our rolling Suffolk countryside.

Thunderstorms promised today, although they tend to miss our peninsular.