It seems nobody around these parts knows about Twelfth Night.
They all put their decorations up at the beginning of December, some even earlier. They take them down on New Year’s Day.
A drive from the edge of the town to my home yesterday found only a few houses with Christmas lights on, and in my road only one house in addition to mine had bravely kept their decorations until Twelfth Night.
I read this year that the Church recommends 17th December as the date for decorations to go up, although they themselves usually decorate churches from the start of the month. I don’t put mine up until about that time, with this year being the 19th.
It is a pity that people either don’t know or just ignore the traditional Twelfth Night.
I see I haven’t published any posts on this my original blog for a good many years. As I took on more and more subject-specific blogs, websites and Facebook and Twitter accounts I found I just didn’t have time for my own blog.
But every now and then I have wanted to publish something myself and have thought I should come back to Sepoy Agent. So I’m starting the new year by bringing the blog back to life. I have stripped out most of the old and no longer relevant posts from the past, and have just left a few.
From now on I will post as and when I have something I want to say, and I look forward to some good stories.
We really must make up our minds about the BNP. Then take a decision and abide by it.
Is it a recognized political party or not?
Here in Britain, the BNP is a registered party for election purposes. It is not banned. It is not illegal. It is permitted to put up candidates for election. If they are successful at the ballot, then they become legal councillors, MEPs and, probably quite soon, MPs. Once elected these people are entitled to sit in the chamber to which they have been elected; entitled to draw any pay or expenses and enjoy any resources which go with the job; entitled to their proportional share of committee places; and entitled to the services and everyday courtesy of the officials in that council or assembly.
That is what any other political candidate, duly elected, would be entitled to. As things stand now, a successful BNP candidate should be in no different circumstances.
Yet today we learn that the two new BNP MEPs are finding that nobody is prepared to sit next to them in the European Parliament, and that they believe they are being denied information and consultation afforded to other MEPs. Indeed the European officials have confirmed that they will not be consulting them on some matters.
If we believe that BNP members and candidates are such pariahs that nobody will be prepared to work with them at a Council, in Europe or in Westminster, then the position is quite clear. The law should be changed to ban the BNP from being a recognized political party.
This would, of course, interfere with an individual’s human rights to believe what he/she wishes, to stand as a candidate professing those beliefs, and to vote for candidates who support those beliefs. It would also open the door to future dictatorship where quite moderate parties could be banned.
But we can’t have it both ways. Either we allow the BNP to exist as it does now and afford them all the rights and courtesies afforded to other elected candidates, or we ban the BNP.
The news today about the East Coast Mainline was perhaps not unexpected. Although many of us will have hoped that another method of solving National Express’s problems could have been found – sale to other transport companies who had shown interest, for example – rather than nationalization.
The beautiful Lord Adonis says that he will offer the franchise for tender again. Hopefully he will. I would deplore any move to keep it in the public sector. We fought for years to turn back the clock on Socialism’s previous nationalizations. Don’t let it happen again.
But whatever happens to the East Coast Mainline, there was a nasty little threat in what the Lovely Peer had to say.
He said it was possible he would remove the company’s two other franchises. This is seen as punishment for making a mess of the East Coast Mainline, but lawyers (and the almighty Robert Peston) believe he may not be able to do that as the East Coast franchise is controlled by a separate specially set up company.
One of those other franchises is c2c which runs the Essex line out of Fenchurch Street to Southend-on-Sea, via Upminster and West Horndon, or around the Loop taking in Dagenham, Rainham and Purfleet, or Ockendon and Chafford Hundred, to Grays, Tilbury and Pitsea and then on to the seaside.
It’s a small operation – only fifty or so miles from London to Southend – but it’s a great little railway. It always comes near the top of the league tables. Its trains are very rarely cancelled. They are punctual and clean. There are always workers clearing litter from platforms and trains. The staff are friendly, polite and helpful. Inspectors patrol the trains regularly checking on tickets in addition to the automated barriers at the stations.
So, here’s one passenger, not a commuter but a fairly regular traveller, who says to His Lordship and his government colleagues, “Keep your hands off c2c”!
Friday was a momentous day! I changed my car!
Blue Babe had been with me for 17 years and 5 months,136,000 plus miles. Before him, I used to change the car every three years, but I fell in love with Blue Babe. Already I am missing his pop-up headlights and his great tilt and slide sunroof which I always have open at this time of year.
But the time had come. I have spent a lot on Blue Babe in the last couple of years, and now the exhaust needed replacing and there are some strange noises emanating from beneath the bonnet. Also I’m off to Durham in a week’s time, which will take six hours, and I was nervous about whether Blue Babe would stand up to it. I think he probably would have done. And even now I think I probably made a mistake in getting rid of him. It troubles me to think of him standing outside all by himself at the dealer’s place waiting to be scrapped.
Talking of scrapped, I didn’t get the Government scrappage allowance because I didn’t buy new. Can’t bear to think of losing so much value the instant a new car is put on the road.
I do – I think – like my new-to-me car. Couldn’t get a blue one. It is dark grey – cosmic grey!
But I am still heartbroken at losing Blue Babe.
I see it’s just over a month since I last posted. But it’s been a good one.
I’ve had two short holidays, both great, but it doubles the pressure before and after. Trying to clear everything up before going, then in the week in between, as well as doing the special job I came back for, trying to catch up on what had arrived while I was away and clear again before going for my second break. During that second break I didn’t even read the newspapers. Then when I finally returned, lots of meetings and catching up in between.
At last, a bit of light at the end of the tunnel, and I have to confess that I’ve spent a good few hours today reading up on all my favourite blogs.
There’s a lot I would have liked to comment on at the time, but probably a bit out of date now.
Still, here goes, and I’ll start by saying how great it was to see that my good friend, James Brokenshire, has been selected as PPC for Old Bexley & Sidcup. James was an outstanding candidate at Hornchurch. I’ve never seen anyone work harder, and he absolutely deserved to gain the seat back from Labour. He was heavily involved in the constituency, and was a fine MP. It was a tragedy that the boundary changes fractured Hornchurch into three pieces, each tagged on to an existing constituency, leaving nothing for the incumbent Hornchurch MP. Those constituencies which did not select James, as he began the round of trying to find another seat, have lost an excellent constituency member, but Old Bexley and Sidcup have gained one, (dv).
Amusing to think that a constituency which once had the grumpy and rather inarticulate former Prime Minister as its MP, will now have the delightful family which is James, Kathrine and the children!
Have just heard James Purnell, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, on Question Time.
The panel was answering a question about Scotland – Referendum – wee Wendy, and a member of the audience talked about Scottish members voting on English matters, but not the other way round; no prescription charges in Wales; and so on.
So little James bravely speaks up about the virtues of preserving the United Kingdom, and then says that with devolution they have tried other forms of government in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so they can “work out what is best for each country”.
There’s something missing here isn’t there? What about England? It seems we are not old enough or responsible enough to have the self-government the other three countries of the United Kingdom have. Labour doesn’t have to bother to “work out what is best” for England. We just have to put up with having Brown’s scottish comrades make the rules for us.
Just how blinkered are these people that they can’t see the unfairness of having a completely different constitutional framework for England than for the other three countries?
A Parliament for England now!