Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Poor Taste Picture Post

 

I had intended posting about Borderline Personality Disorder but I'm too tired and with too little time tonight to give the subject the care it deserves.  Hopefully tomorrow. 

Instead I have a post which is neither topical nor in good taste but, hey, what do topicality and good taste have to do with this blog?  Don't answer!

Tonight I took the children and a friend out to a cafe - open until 10 - which we visit infrequently.  For about the last year or so they've had a photo hanging above one of the tables and I've always been tempted to blog about it.  Tonight is that night.  The cafe was really quiet when we were leaving and so with my new - my first- camera-phone I took a photo of the photo on the wall.

 

ModPhoto004                                 Photo ex S Luca (Edinburgh)

I'm sorry about the picture quality.  I sort of sneaked the photo quickly but, in case you can't make them out, Tony Blair is on the left and Jack McConnell - at this time Scottish First Minister - at the right front.  The original was taken two days before the elections to the Scottish Parliament.

Every time I see this photo I think, "Would I show this photo if Tony Blair had eaten in my cafe?"  No, I wouldn't.  Mind you, I can't imagine anyone would put up a photo today showing Gordon Brown eating in their cafe - he might not even get in the door.

Now I know you're wondering what's happened to the poor taste I promised you: it's just about to come.

 

If you remove the 2nd "n" from the legend you get a message which would make the photo well worth promoting!

 

Told you it was poor taste.

Good night

Monday, 28 July 2008

Sympathy for Gordon Brown

Yes, I do ...on a personal level. I may be one of only a few (or of only one) but I can't help but feel for him.

His whole life he has dreamt of, has worked towards, has fought and plotted towards, being Prime Minister. He found himself out-manoeuvred by Blair and Mandelson, had to take second place for 13 years and then last year the role was his. He'd made Prime Minister; he had reached his life's goal only to fail and fall so spectacularly. Devastating it must be for him. I'd have to be incredibly cold not to feel for him or anyone in this position.

Politically I have no sympathy. For years I hoped for his succession not because I was a supporter but because he was not Blair and everything he represented. I hoped for a major change but none came.

Now is his biggest test. Can he put the good of the Labour Party above his desires?

Politicians often talk about their party being more important than their future but what we see is the very opposite. There egos are so large, they are so driven that they equate what is good for them as being good for their party.

Now for Brown no reshuffle, no relaunch can save the party under his stewardship. If he fights for his future as Prime Minister he will drag the Labour Party further down. He must not do this. He should put himself at the mercy of his party. If they want him to stand down now he should do so. If they want him to fight an election now he should do so. If they want him to stay until 2010 and then fight an election he should do so. Whatever they want him to do he must do. This way, at least, he will be serving his party and he can leave with some self-respect.

Only if he does his party's bidding will he retain my sympathy.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Fatso Falls

 

Today (Friday) I've been bemoaning two facts.  Firstly, despite my last two posts (Lightweight etc and Contraceptive etc - each a humorous post - having been well received by some, those posts have coincided with two very low traffic days.  It's almost as though some potential readers knew they wouldn't like the posts before they had seen them.  I may be barking up a gum tree here but .... I have a feeling in my bones.

Secondly, I'd no more stories left.  My entire life and only two stories at which to giggle.  What a sad life to be so short of good stories but it was true.  I'd wracked my brains, but the cupboard was bare.  I had no stories .... but my bucket of cliches was still full.  And then, as though by divine intervention, a story, another true story, a simple story of failure. 

[It's 2 am.  I'm too tired to type. Two hours gone by and not one word done.  Leave until the morning]

"Fatso Falls" sounds as though it's a tourist attraction similar to the Victoria Falls but it isn't.  Not even close. 

I had just returned from Tesco with a small shopping, had put the shopping away and was about to talk broadband deals with elder child.  At last I'm getting round to broadband ...  possibly. 

Anyway we were in the dining room and I sat down on one of the wooden chairs. There was a crack, louder than when the toilet seat split, and the chair did not stop my bum but my bum - and the rest of me - kept moving.... downwards until I was spreadeagled on the floor on top of broken wood. 

Now I know the chairs are quite old and had been repaired a few times but this was uncalled for.  The chair might have had the decency to creak and groan and give me a chance to get off but instant disintegration was its fate and embarrassment was mine.

Do you think there's a message here that I'm a tad too heavy?

Now surely this will be the last of these posts!  There can be no more unless something happens today.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Male Contraceptive: A Sorry Tale

I'm still in the phase in which I'm struggling to find a serious post.  More than this I'm a long long way from writing seriously and so tonight I need to continue to write in a lightweight and lighthearted way.  My last post, Lightweight Posts - But Not This One!, went down well.  How will tonight's true story of a new, or so I think, method; an effective but unreliable method of male contraception be received?  There is only one way to find out.  Take the risk and write.  Fortunately there are no photos.

I'm going back a fair number of years to the time when the first Mrs Carr was on the scene.  This Mrs Carr has no role in the humour of this story other than she was the object of my sexual desires, as I was of hers, and in the end both of us were unfulfilled.

Not long after we married we moved to a house in the country a few miles up a single track road but still close to civilisation.  I loved being in the middle of nowhere where the night sky was black, I loved opening our back door and being in the country and I loved Mrs Carr so incredibly much.

I've just started and I've drifted away from my story.  Now our sex life was conventional but great. After so many years I can't remember any details other than one fateful night.

This night, as always, we were having sex on our bed.  Isn't it strange that I use the f--- word often as a swear word but I can't use it here.  I can't even use "s---"!  What a sensitive soul I am.  The missionary position.  How conventional!  I should say that back then I was a much finer figure of a man than I am today.  Not obese.  Not overweight.  Not a "fat bastard".  Not quite as "lean as a whippet" as Wolfie of Two Wolves mentioned in a comment to an earlier post of mine but slim and fit from playing football and hill-running.

There I go again blethering.  Get back to the story for God's sake.  Sorry!

Right.  There we were, on our bed, missionary position, Mrs Carr may well have peaked once already, I'm not far away, closer, closer

 

and then it happened a...a...g...g...h...h!!!!! 

 

What the fuck was that?  This wasn't a toilet seat cracking.  The wrong part of my anatomy was throbbing!  This was a cat with its claws in my big toe!  Silly bloody cat was trying to jump onto the bed and it was using my big toe as a rope ladder. 

Well, you can imagine that our sex was over.   There was only one part swollen now; my poor big toe. 

Soon we were able to laugh at our misfortune but happy that no more sensitive part was attacked.  Then we realised that we had discovered a new method of contraception.  This method - I know you're there ahead of me but I'm going to state the obvious anyway - we called "catus interruptus".  I know it's obvious; I know  it's crass; I know it's not funny now but it was incredibly funny that night.

Just once did this happen.  Once was enough.  We shut the bloody cat out after this when sex was at all likely.

 

 

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Lightweight Posts - But Not This One !

For some time now my posts have been lightweight.  I want a subject I can get my teeth into but I can find none.  Well, it's either that or I'm not motivated enough to find a subject.  I suspect this is the real reason: motivation - or the lack thereof.  I can't be arsed looking.  I want a post to appear on my pc as if by magic but this won't happen.  Guess I'll just have to wait until I come through this phase but while I'm waiting I may as well continue in lightweight  - and tonight in lighthearted  - modes.

Whilst in Oban on holiday we stayed at the Youth Hostel and in less than 1 day the staff must have been dreading our stay.

Within minutes of arriving  - we hadn't even reached our room - we had caused a major hassle.  Rather than traditional keys the Hostel used magnetic stripe cards.  The kids went ahead to open the outside door to the building in which we were to sleep.  "We can't get in!"   Rather than going back to reception, "Let me look" I said foolishly. "Perhaps the card isn't far enough into the lock."  Fool!  I pushed the card until it disappeared inside the lock.  NOW it was time for reception.  The poor lady on duty had to climb in a window and open the door from the inside.  This at least got us in but the main door had to be kept open.  We disappeared to Tesco leaving the lady trying to lift the hidden card out of the lock using an emery "stick".  I shouldn't have doubted her.  All was back to normal when we returned.  Phew!

I think it's safe to say that we were known to the staff.

All went well that night but soon more trouble.  First thing in the morning I was sitting on the toilet and I turned to reach the toilet paper.

CR...A...A...A...A...CK

What the ....  was that?"

Toilet seat split.  

I shouldn't have been surprised because this last year I've had an inflation-busting weight rise of about 15%.  Officially obese, that's me although fat bastard is probably much more appropriate.  Fortunately no part of my anatomy was trapped or damaged and the toilet seat did, at least, retain its functionality.

Downstairs I went, head bowed, face red.  "I've had another accident.  Toilet seat broken.  We're here for a week. What on earth will be happening by then?"  I must admit the staff were very good about it but I'm sure they wondered, as did I, what my next call to them would bring.

I'm pleased to say that the Carr family and the hostel survived the next 6 days without mishap - thankfully.  Somehow, I think the staff were glad to see us reach that milestone.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Late To The Party

Quite often in my blogging career - can you call something a career if it's a hobby and unpaid? - I have struggled with getting the layout just as I wanted it. Yesterday's post was incredibly difficult and I couldn't get what I wanted. Now I have downloaded Microsoft Live Writer which let's one type in WYSIWYG - as in a normal word processor - and so good layout should be much more easily achieved. Lots of you probably use this already but at least I'm at the party now.

To see if this is a good party or not I'll upload another couple of photos. Here goes.

A10

This is a black guillemot. Apparently they're not very common but they were lots of them very close to the Esplanade in Oban nesting in old drainage holes in the sea wall. The inside of their mouths are red but I couldn't get capture this: only managed to capture their red legs.

A11

I didn't realise that I had captured the two tone sea. I saw the cloud squashing down on the island and my aim was simply to capture that. The two tone sky and sea was a bonus.

Now this was really easy to set up; I adjusted the photos to the size I wanted and put the words exactly where I wanted. If this publishes as I see it in front of me then I'll certainly use this software again.

UPDATE: Publishing failed once but the post looks exactly as it did on my screen. The one thing missing is the inability, I think, of adding labels. I'll check that.

UPDATE 2: Blogger labels can be added. They are called "categories". You can even get the software to remind you to add categories to a post. So far, Microsoft Live Writer is fabulous.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Holiday - Pics

A few visitors have asked that I post some photos from our short holiday in Oban. Reluctantly I oblige. I may have a better camera now but I don't have more time or peace nor even the mindset do more than 'point-and-shoot'.













This highlights two of Oban's landmarks:McCaig's Tower or Folly and Oban Distillery, the home of Oban malt whisky - one of the Classic Malt range. Last year I discovered that I used to play football with the now distillery manager - 30 years ago. Unsurprisingly we're both slightly larger than in our heyday.









Iona!





I was sitting only yards from the jetty: a little beach with its turquoise sea. The photo doesn't do the scene justice.

















A view looking down Loch Craignish beyond Ardfern









Twice a day a sea-plane flies to and from Glasgow to Oban bay. This greatly magnified photo shows the 'plane at the start of its take-off.
















These high speed RIBS have become quite popular for tourist trips. This one - which I think was going round the island of Kerrera passed us as we took the
ferry from Oban to Colonsay. Again magnified significantly. We were on one last year - great fun.
















As we returned from Colonsay the wake and the sky gave this lovely pattern.






















I always thought that there was something strange about religion. This photo from just outside Iona Abbey confirms my views!































You may wonder why I show these last two photos. Well, after blogging for 16 months I think it is only fair to introduce you to our children: the older is white and the younger black!!

That's not fair! How could I describe my kids so? Shame on me! I'm having a joke. Really!!


The younger one is white and the elder is black. There I've been honest now!

Friday, 18 July 2008

Family Courts and Injustice


Earlier this year I came across an article in The Times by Camilla Cavendish with the headline "British Justice: A Family Ruined - a chilling example of our secret state where a mother and child are forced into hiding." I was so appalled by the story told that I intended to blog about it; I found other articles by Cavendish but, life being life, I never typed a word. Hidden away in my pc, the article would have lain had I not found that just over a week ago The Times launched a campaign - headed by Cavendish - to open up the Family Court's system to scrutiny and so prevent the miscarriages of justice which go unchallenged because of the secrecy under which the proceedings are heard and imposed on the parents which makes them unable to challenge decisions.

Today I wish to highlight the issues by showing one
article
in its entirety and with a series of links to other articles by Camilla Cavendish on the family courts.

"British Justice: A Family Ruined - a chilling example of our secret state where a mother and child are forced into hiding."

"Last autumn a small English congregation was rocked by the news that two of its parishioners had fled abroad. A 56-year-old man had helped his pregnant wife to flee from social workers, who had already taken her son into care and were threatening to seize their baby.

Most people had no idea why. For the process that led this couple to such a desperate act was entirely secret. The local authority had warned the mother not to talk to her friends or even her MP. The judge who heard the arguments from social services sat in secret. The open-minded social workers who had initially been assigned to sort out a custody battle between the woman and her previous husband were replaced by others who seemed determined to build a guilty case against her. That is how the secret State operates. A monumental injustice has been perpetrated in this quiet corner of England; our laws are being used to try to cover it up.

I will call this couple Hugh and Sarah. Neither they nor their families have ever been in trouble with the law, as far as I know. Sarah's only fault seems to have been to suffer through a violent and volatile first marriage, which produced a son. When the marriage ended, the boy was taken into temporary foster care for a few months - as a by-product of the marriage breakdown and against her will - while she “sorted her life out” and found them a new home. But even as she cleared every hurdle set by the court, social workers dreamt up new ones. The months dragged by. A psychologist said the boy was suffering terribly in care and was desperate to come home. Sarah's mother and sister, both respected professionals with good incomes, apparently offered to foster or adopt him. The local authority did not even deign to reply.

For a long time, Sarah and her family seem to have played along. At every new hearing they thought that common sense would prevail. But it didn't. The court appeared to blame her for not ending her marriage more quickly, which had put strain on the boy, while social workers seemed to insist that she now build a good relationship with the man she had left. Eventually, she came to believe that the local authority intended to have her son adopted. She also seems to have feared that they would take away her new baby, Hugh's baby, when it was born. One night in September they fled the country with the little boy. When Hugh returned a few days later, to keep his business going and his staff in jobs, he was arrested.

Many people would think this man a hero. Instead, he received a far longer sentence - 16 months for abduction - than many muggers. This kind of sentence might be justified, perhaps, to set an example to others. But the irony of this exemplary sentence is that no one was ever supposed to know the details. (I am treading a legal tightrope writing about it at all.) How could a secret sentence for a secret crime deter anyone?

Sarah's baby has now been born, in hiding. I am told that the language from social services has become hysterical. But if the State was genuinely concerned for these two children, it would have put “wanted” pictures up in every newspaper in Europe.

It won't do that, of course, because to name the woman and her children would be to tear a hole in the fabric of the secret State, a hole we could all see through. I would be able to tell you her side of the story, the child's side of the story. I would be able to tell you every vindictive twist of this saga. And the local authority knows perfectly well how it would look. So silence is maintained.

And very effective it is too. The impotence is the worst thing. The way that perfectly decent individuals are gagged and unable to defend themselves undermines a fundamental principle of British law. I have a court order on my desk that threatens all the main actors in this case with dire consequences if they talk about it to anyone.

Can that really be the way we run justice in a country that was the fount of the rule of law? At the heart of this story is a little boy who was wrenched from the mother he loves, bundled around in foster care and never told why, when she appears to have been perfectly capable of looking after him. When she had relatives who were perfectly capable of doing so. In the meantime, he was becoming more and more troubled and unhappy. To find safety and love, that little boy has had to leave England.

What does that say about our country? The public funds the judges, the courts, the social workers. It deserves to know what they do. That does not mean vilifying all social workers, or defending every parent. But it does mean ending the presumption of guilt that infects so many family court hearings. It does mean asking why certain local authorities seem unable to let go of children whose parents have resolved their difficulties. It does mean knowing how social workers could have got away with failing to return this particular boy, after his mother had met all the criteria set by a judge at the beginning. It is simply unacceptable that social services have put themselves above the law.

We need these people to be named, and to hear in their words what happened. We need to open up the family courts. We need to tear down the wall of secrecy that has forced a decent woman to live as a fugitive, to save her little boy from a life with strangers, used like a pawn in a game of vengeance. Even if the local authority were to drop its case, it is hard to see how Sarah could ever trust them enough to return. At home, for their God-fearing congregation, the question is simple: what justice can ever be done behind closed doors? And in whose name?
"

LINKS

Guilty until proved innocent
Family Courts are the B-side of the Law

The Rank Hypocrisy of Family Court Judges
Free the ‘Grandfather One’
British justice A family ruined
Family Justice: the secret state that steals our children
A Conspiracy of Silence

Family Courts: the hidden untouchables
Family Justice: What We Can Do to Protect Our Children
A Moving Response to Our Family Justice Campaign


Can't Keep Away .... Again

Not from blogging this time but from Oban! We were back in Oban yesterday - Thursday - to collect a lovely piece of furniture for Mrs Carr - wish it were mine. Solid bloody wood! Too bloody heavy for my ageing frame to carry! How I envy the eye to see beauty!

Rather than coming home immediately we spent the afternoon walking around the disappointing town centre but there are two businesses I am compelled to mention. I've never done this before: promoting businesses with which, I assure you, I have no connection.

The first is The Chocolate Factory: shop and cafe and chocolate-making. Not only is there a view to die for but they develop and make their own gorgeous chocolates (viewing is possible).

The second is the Richard Childs gallery - Richard is a landscape photographer. There are many well-known photographers with books of landscapes of Scotland but I feel that there is an artistic quality to Richard's work which makes it stand apart from all others. You can see his photos on-line at various sites but these 3 pages are particularly good (1 - two pages; 2 - twelve pages; 3.

If you are ever in Oban visit these two businesses and, if you'll never be there, visit them on-line.

I promise you'll love them both.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Bloghounds Target Met Already!

Bloghounds says to its bloggers, "[bloggers] most importantly would make a genuine attempt to link to fellow members at least once a week."

Now I'm not very good at linking to other blogs: newspapers are fine but blogs only rarely. But now once a week! This will be a strain. But things got worse, much worse. The first Bloghounds visit I made was to Blaney's Blarney. (Well that's my one link done for the week! Target met.)

Christ! We couldn't be further apart in politics, content or style. I'll never find a link here. He's far too "in your face". I say "he" but I know nothing of Donal Blaney and given that so much in the blogosphere is not what it seems I guess Blaney could be an apparently genteel old lady sitting at home sipping her tea and hammering away at the keys. For that matter, with my name - Calum Carr, which all readers know is my actual name!? - I could be the father of that well-known comedian / comic / TV personality - and I use these words loosely - Jimmy Carr. No, that's just too far-fetched. Some family secrets one doesn't dare even hint at.

Anyway I digress.

I just couldn't imagine ever finding common ground but ..... wait ...... what's this ..... YES!!! A miracle!! Both of us taking a similar stand on the suggestions that Ireland votes again on the EU Treaty - Donal - a second link in one week - and me.

Doesn't this just go to show that the world has always one surprise left!

Feat of Endurance


Another personal best on this blog on Tuesday! One visitor racked up 40 page views over 99 minutes - many
more than anyone previously. Definitely above and beyond!

I won't show their ISP details just in case .....




I can't imagine viewing 40 pages of any blog but 40 pages of this!! And there were more visits today.


Seriously though, whoever you are, I appreciate your being so interested that you took the time to view so much of my writings.

Many thanks.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Bloghounds and Blogpower

I am now installed as a member of the recently formed Bloghounds but I am retaining membership of the well-established grouping - Blogpower - and I intend to support both groups to the best of my ability.

I hope both groups flourish.

Of course, my blogging will remain unchanged. I know many of you will be disappointed to hear this!! :-)

Friday, 11 July 2008

Can't Keep Away

So much for not posting while on holiday. I'm back again but not posting on NHS. That definitely needs to wait until I have more time.

One more full day and then home again. Not to worry. Today was fabulous - for me anyway. Went on a 5h return ferry trip to Colonsay; one of the Inner Hebrides. Absolutely glorious scenery. Quite blowy but this didn't detract. No photos until I get home - if at all.

I'll fall asleep happy tonight!.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Last Post ....


until 14 July.

Sorry! I couldn't resist that.

We're off on holiday on Sunday for a week and so there will be no posts. After my splurge of 3 posts on Wednesday I had hoped to post on:

Self-Scanning Checkouts - God, I hate them!!
Childhood Reminiscences 5 - Transport and Travel [Note: This wouldn't be No. 5. but No. 4. Fool!!!!]

but, as usual, my thoughts exceeded my capabilities. The Checkout post may never appear but the Reminiscences certainly will be seen.



Where are we going?


Here are a few photos I took in 1986. We're going to the same place.

See how many you need to identify our des
tination. I'm sure you'll all find us. Just in case you haven't, right click on the last photo and check the Image Location: buried in there is the place-name.













Well done! See you in a week or so.


Wednesday, 2 July 2008

From Triumph to Torture: Mohammed Omer

John Pilger reports on Mohammed Omer's journey from Gaza to London, to receive a prize for his journalism, and back to Gaza.

The entire post is reproduced below.
Please read on and be shocked.


"Two weeks ago, I presented a young Palestinian, Mohammed Omer, with the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Awarded in memory of the great US war correspondent, the prize goes to journalists who expose establishment propaganda, or "official drivel", as Gellhorn called it. Mohammed shares the prize of £5,000 with Dahr Jamail. At 24, he is the youngest winner. His citation reads: "Every day, he reports from a war zone, where he is also a prisoner. His homeland, Gaza, is surrounded, starved, attacked, forgotten. He is a profoundly humane witness to one of the great injustices of our time. He is the voice of the voiceless." The eldest of eight, Mohammed has seen most of his siblings killed or wounded or maimed. An Israeli bulldozer crushed his home while the family were inside, seriously injuring his mother. And yet, says a former Dutch ambassador, Jan Wijenberg, "he is a moderating voice, urging Palestinian youth not to court hatred but seek peace with Israel".

Getting Mohammed to London to receive his prize was a major diplomatic operation. Israel has perfidious control over Gaza's borders, and only with a Dutch embassy escort was he allowed out. Last Thursday, on his return journey, he was met at the Allenby Bridge crossing (to Jordan) by a Dutch official, who waited outside the Israeli building, unaware Mohammed had been seized by Shin Bet, Israel's infamous security organisation. Mohammed was told to turn off his mobile and remove the battery. He asked if he could call his embassy escort and was told forcefully he could not. A man stood over his luggage, picking through his documents. "Where's the money?" he demanded. Mohammed produced some US dollars. "Where is the English pound you have?"

"I realised," said Mohammed, "he was after the award stipend for the Martha Gellhorn prize. I told him I didn't have it with me. 'You are lying', he said. I was now surrounded by eight Shin Bet officers, all armed. The man called Avi ordered me to take off my clothes. I had already been through an x-ray machine. I stripped down to my underwear and was told to take off everything. When I refused, Avi put his hand on his gun. I began to cry: 'Why are you treating me this way? I am a human being.' He said, 'This is nothing compared with what you will see now.' He took his gun out, pressing it to my head and with his full body weight pinning me on my side, he forcibly removed my underwear. He then made me do a concocted sort of dance. Another man, who was laughing, said, 'Why are you bringing perfumes?' I replied, 'They are gifts for the people I love'. He said, 'Oh, do you have love in your culture?'

"As they ridiculed me, they took delight most in mocking letters I had received from readers in England. I had now been without food and water and the toilet for 12 hours, and having been made to stand, my legs buckled. I vomited and passed out. All I remember is one of them gouging, scraping and clawing with his nails at the tender flesh beneath my eyes. He scooped my head and dug his fingers in near the auditory nerves between my head and eardrum. The pain became sharper as he dug in two fingers at a time. Another man had his combat boot on my neck, pressing into the hard floor. I lay there for over an hour. The room became a menagerie of pain, sound and terror."

An ambulance was called and told to take Mohammed to a hospital, but only after he had signed a statement indemnifying the Israelis from his suffering in their custody. The Palestinian medic refused, courageously, and said he would contact the Dutch embassy escort. Alarmed, the Israelis let the ambulance go. The Israeli response has been the familiar line that Mohammed was "suspected" of smuggling and "lost his balance" during a "fair" interrogation, Reuters reported yesterday.

Israeli human rights groups have documented the routine torture of Palestinians by Shin Bet agents with "beatings, painful binding, back bending, body stretching and prolonged sleep deprivation". Amnesty has long reported the widespread use of torture by Israel, whose victims emerge as mere shadows of their former selves. Some never return. Israel is high in an international league table for its murder of journalists, especially Palestinian journalists, who receive barely a fraction of the kind of coverage given to the BBC's Alan Johnston.

The Dutch government says it is shocked by Mohammed Omer's treatment. The former ambassador Jan Wijenberg said: "This is by no means an isolated incident, but part of a long-term strategy to demolish Palestinian social, economic and cultural life ... I am aware of the possibility that Mohammed Omer might be murdered by Israeli snipers or bomb attack in the near future."

While Mohammed was receiving his prize in London, the new Israeli ambassador to Britain, Ron Proser, was publicly complaining that many Britons no longer appreciated the uniqueness of Israel's democracy. Perhaps they do now.
"


Irish to Resit Their Exam

I know I've come late to the subject of the Irish EU referendum result but it is still a live issue. Today the Guardian records that Nicolas Sarkozy is "to try to cajole the Irish into staging a second vote on the EU's stalled reform blueprint."

If the Irish are given a second chance to see if they get the same result should the 19 countries ,which have already ratified the treaty, not go through equivalent processes - just to see if they all still get the same answer? It's only logical after all. Why should only one country get two chances?

I know! I know! I'm being silly. Students who pass their exams don't have to resit them. Only those who failed initially have to resit in a second attempt to pass.

But the Irish didn't fail. They gave one of the two possible correct answers.

I'm confused.


Chocolate Soldiers?


Patrick Wintour writes in the Guardian about a David Miliband speech, to be delivered today, in which the thorny issue of European military capability is raised. Buried in the article, Wintour writes:

"It is estimated there are 2 million soldiers in the 27 EU countries, and yet only 100,000 of them are equipped to fight."

Only 100,000 equipped to fight! What of the remaining 1,900,000 soldiers?

Are they chocolate soldiers?