Tripping down memory lane as we scatter ashes on Exmoor

April 8, 2012

My late father had spent 18 months or so in a plastic box on the mantelpiece, and it seemed about time that he was liberated.  Exmoor was the obvious place, and that is where we went last week to find a suitable spot to scatter his ashes.

He was at school at West Buckland during the war, and our childhood holidays with him were spent down there, usually at Barnstaple. From there we could easily get to the wide sandy beach at Saunton Sands;  we would take the dogs to the dunes at Braunton Burrows where the sandy track, still called the American Road, showed traces of the metal strips laid by the US military when they trained there for D-Day, not so many years earlier; and we went up on to Exmoor. Thinking back, the Exmoor trips were for rainy days, because if the sun shone we went to the sea, and my recollection that it always rains on Exmoor was probably based on distorted premises.

Jaguar 3.8The early 1960s were  a good time for driving – petrol was cheap, roads were well maintained, cars had reached a stage of technical excellence and comfort, and relatively few people had them. My father had a dark grey Jaguar 3.8 with red leather seats, one of the finest cars of its time and much loved by bank robbers and others with an urgent need to be somewhere else. Read the rest of this entry »

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Driving the police up the wall at Fortnums

April 4, 2011

I am late catching up with last week’s Sunday Times and its description of the scene at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly during the recent disturbances:

Thirty police in riot gear went into the store to drag out protesters but others scaled the building and chalked “Tax the rich” and “Tory scum” on its walls. One played…a clarinet on the roof

So, thirty police did this, but others did that, is that the sense of it?  The only thing I am unsure about is whether the police who scaled the walls were wearing riot gear or whether that was only for those who went into the store. I reckon that shinning up walls, writing things and playing musical instruments is probably impossible in riot gear, so I conclude that the qualifying description “in riot gear” applies only to those who went into the store.What were the protesters doing meanwhile?

Let’s bring back Latin in schools, to make sure that serious newspapers keep their subjects distinct from their objects.

It was later rumoured on Twitter that a group of tweed-clad Old Etonians had trashed the Slough branch of Lidl in a reprisal raid.

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Amputee soldier can walk 400 metres so DWP cuts his benefits

July 28, 2010

A civil servant has decided that private Aron Shelton, who lost one leg in Afghanistan and may yet lose the other, should have his disability living allowance taken away after he struggled to walk 400 metres. You can read an article about it here and you may then like to focus on the quotation from the civil servant which appears at the end. It reads:

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘Aron Shelton’s case is under review and we recognise his brave service to his country.

‘This case is a stark reminder why we need a new assessment to decide if someone is eligible for DLA.

‘Under the current system we ask customers to supply us with the relevant information and, unless further information is requested, our staff will make a decision based on this. Eligibility to DLA, like all benefits, is set out in legislation and is not discretionary.

I wonder what degree of urgency is being given to this review and how long it takes to decide that the decision is wrong. How many civil servants have to read the file? How many tiers of management must it go through, do you think, before it reaches somebody is sufficiently senior to decide that a brave man who gave his leg for his country should have a car to get about in? And in what sense is the soldier a “customer”? Read the rest of this entry »


Revival of Oxford Agenda and Oxford Inciter Blogs

June 25, 2010

I am thinking of reviving my Oxford Inciter and Oxford Agenda blogs. This post appears on both of them. Both ran for several months until a couple of years ago when my day job became all-consuming.

The day job involves electronic disclosure or e-Disclosure of documents (electronic discovery, or e-discovery in every common law jurisdiction save England & Wales). My role is to educate and inform judges, lawyers, clients and suppliers about the law, the practice and the technology involved in e-discovery, and in marketing the ideas and services to others. The primary medium for this is a blog for the e-Disclosure Information Project, whose 250 or so posts in 2009 sometimes generated several thousand words per week. There is more than enough to write about on that subject, and optional things fell by the wayside. In addition to work in the UK, I spend about a month each year at conferences abroad. These trips simultaneously gave me a wider range of subjects to write about and less time to do so. It seems worth having a go at reviving the non-work blogs.

The subjects which I used to air in them – dishonest politicians, the creeping power of civil servants, the expensive stupidity of local government officers and the incompetence of railway companies – have worked their way into my e-Disclosure writing. This is not a drawback – I like comparisons and parallels, and my readers seem to appreciate the leavening of the rather dry legal and technical subject-matter with examples pulled from other areas of everyday life. There is, nevertheless, plenty to write about which cannot be turned to didactic purposes in my work blog and, besides, it is refreshing for the brain to cover other things from time to time. Read the rest of this entry »


Department dogs look like their jobs

August 15, 2008

It is often observed that dogs resemble their owners which, if true, would make me a handsome black chap, friendly to everyone he meets, always thinking the best of everyone and eager to please, absolutely none of which is true of me (nor, indeed, and perhaps fortunately, do I pee on every bush and rest my head on visitors’ knees under the table). Have you noticed, though, that public servants somehow acquire the characteristics which suit their jobs? Or perhaps people who look like that gravitate to jobs which suit them. Read the rest of this entry »


New Labour and BSI tree inspections

June 21, 2008

My post yesterday on the proposal by the British Standards Institute that there be compulsory examination of trees at three-yearly and five-yearly intervals (BSI urges new trough for tree inspectors) brings me a comment this morning:

BSI are running short of business at the moment, with many manufacturing companies going out of business. This is a bit of marketing for them. Like the article says, just to Labour’s taste

I thought it worth following up both strands raised here – the suggestion that this sort of nonsense benefits BSI directly and NuLabour’s view, if any, on it. Read the rest of this entry »


BSI urges new trough for tree inspectors

June 21, 2008

One of the most despised features of the Blair-Brown years is the number of busybodies who get their noses into the trough by inciting new inspection regimes in areas which pose no significant risk. The latest is trees which, the British Standards Institution urge, should be subject to checking by a “trained person” every three years and to a full “expert inspection” by an arboriculturalist every five years. There will, of course, be hefty fees payable for this. Read the rest of this entry »