East Midlands Today : Fox Trapped in Snowdrift

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the snowbound East Midlands, a fox had to be rescued by the emergency services after becoming trapped up to its neck in a snowdrift –

A spokesman for the Taxpayers’ Alliance commented – “At this time of austerity this is a grotesque waste of hardworking taxpayers’ money.  Surely this fox could have been left where it was until the snow melted?  And if it had to be dug out, surely that could have been done by volunteers?  As it this fox will soon be back in the fields and copses making a nuisance of itself.  If you ask me it’s health and safety gone mad …”

Incensed Mum commented

Will no-one think of the chickens!

Health and safety gone mad!!!! (not to mention Top Cat)

Baffling remark of the day,  in today’s “My media”  questionnaire in The Guardian –


The Guardian and Telegraph online.  I can’t handle physical papers – having a toddler around makes them a hazard.”

I have had a toddler around the house, and I can honestly say that at no point did it occur to me that a physical paper would be a hazard.  Hot irons – yes, kettles – yes, newspapers – no.  Perhaps she’s worried that she’ll be tempted to roll the paper up and whack the infant over the head with it, or possibly that – if the child is precocious enough to read – it’ll risk brain damage by reading some of the drivel the Grauniad publishes these days.  No doubt she has her reasons, but otherwise I’m lost.

Mind you, she also says –


I’m obsessed with Top Gear, although I’ve no interest in cars – the humour, the storytelling and the cinematography are all brilliant.”

The humour is subjective, but storytelling? – cinematography?  Perhaps she’s confusing it with Top Gun, or, indeed, Top Cat?




Top Cat

Top Cat

Dr. Heffer

I see from Monday’s Guardian that old companion of my youth Simon Heffer has been awarded a doctorate –

“Monkey also hears that Simon Heffer has been awarded a Cambridge PhD, in a rather unusual arrangement in which his 1998 biography of Enoch Powell was accepted in place of a doctoral thesis”

No truth, then, in the all too prevalent canard, promulgated by one or two right wing commentators, that some degrees awarded by English universities these days are scarcely worth the paper they’re printed on.

Country clearly not going to the dogs after all.

Hard-working gypsies put lazy commuter to shame

(No – not a recent headline from the Daily Express).

Buy my copy of the Big Issue this morning from the young girl who’s been selling it outside Sainsbury’s for – I think – a couple of years now.  She is – I’ve always assumed – a Roma gypsy (originally from Romania, I believe).  I’ve occasionally run into her- laden with a backpack of Issues – in the evening when detraining (dread phrase!) on the northbound platform at Harborough Station. 

I’d always assumed that she must live in Leicester until a letter to the Harborough Mail from a lady associated with the one of the churches pointed out that she actually lived in Birmingham, was – I think – 15, and was looking after her younger sisters.

Now I sometimes feel  that my daily commute to London is a bit of a slog, but I have to say that there is no power on earth that would compel me to commute to Birmingham on a daily basis.  Although – as the crow flies – it’s no great distance, by train it actually takes longer than it does to London: it’s quite likely – in my experience – that you’ll have to stand, the seats are damned uncomfortable and then there are all the horrors of New Street to contend with.  So hats off to her, I say.

Can’t help wondering how she can afford it, apart from anything else.  The Daily Express view would be that she must be bilking her fare, but – frankly – it would be a great deal easier to make one’s way on forged papers through occupied Europe from Colditz to a friendly port than to travel from Harborough to Birmingham without attracting the attentions of the much-feared Revenue Protection Team.  Unlikely to be true either that – on arrival in the country – Romanian gypsies are issed with free rail passes, in addition to their luxury apartments, free spectacles, lifetime subscriptions to Country Life and whatever else the Mail/Express axis alleges they are entitled to*.  So unless she’s a shape-shifter of some sort and can transform herself  into a pushchair or bicycle, she must spend most of her earnings on the rail fare.

Before this particular girl took over a slightly older Roma woman used to sell it from the same pitch.  Didn’t see her again until I went to Oakham for the – now sadly discontinued – Oakham cricket festival (or match, at any rate) and heard the familiar cry “Yoohoo Big Issue” – and there she was.  I think she’s the cousin (or possibly aunt) of our current vendor and presumably commutes in from Birmingham too – a more scenic journey, but lengthy too.

I do feel that this part of the world wouldn’t be the same without divers Egyptians at the fringes of its towns, whatever  their cavalier approach to planning permission.   John Clare, of course wrote about them “Tis thus they live–a picture to the place, A quiet, pilfering, unprotected race”  (for instance) ;  my Grandfather used to claim that he could remember gypsies living in Gipsy Lane in Kettering (now a fairly affluent area);  Rothwell too, I think, has its Gipsy Lane.




*If true then, obviously, IT’S POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD!!!

It is little I repair to the matches of the Southron folk …

The silliest place I’ve ever been told to stop smoking?  I think it has to be here –


(Any sign here of a “semi-enclosed space” – I think not.)

To get the full picture you have to bear in mind that this was on the Friday afternoon of one of Middlesex’s County Championship fixtures, so you have to imagine 99% of the crowd in the picture deleted.  There was a high wind blowing.  Half of the seats had no smoking signs on them and half – the ones to the right of what looks (from some angles) like a modernist sculptural depiction of poor Cherie Blair,  did not.  Being a law-abiding citizen, I went and sat in one of what I thought were the smoking seats – not within 100 feet of anyone else and any noxious fumes being whipped away into the air above St. John’s Wood – and still a very courteous young fellow trotted over and told me that (I’m sorry, Sir) smoking was not permitted in that stand.

At Grace Road, of course, you can smoke anywhere  you like.

Now I’m really not some swivel-eyed ultra-libertarian loon who demands the right to spark up in maternity wards and petrol stations, but I have to say this merits the comment –


So – how old do you think you look? (asks Tesco)


I notice – having dropped in there this morning – that Tesco are upping the ante in the drive to persuade the nation’s teens to become total abstainers.  Sainsbury’s already claim that they will challenge anyone who looks under 21 to prove that they are over 18.  Tesco now claim that they will do the same to anyone who looks under 25.

Now this – surely – is playing with fire – the potential for the giving and taking of offence (the exchange of offence) enormous.  I’d guess that most er … people between the ages of 25 and 30 (and older) would  hope to be able to pass for “early twenties” and would be offended if not asked for ID.  On the other hand, unusually well-preserved 35 year olds will rapidly tire of having to carry their passports round with them in case they feel like buying a bottle of wine.

On the other hand, though, possibly some scope for Leslie Phillips-style lounge lizardry – “I’m afraid I shall have to ask Madam for some proof of identity – she doesn’t look a day over 23” …   

And which teenager (which most of the assistants are) can tell the difference between 25 and 30 – or even 40 in a lot of cases?


“Sledge-tow dad could face jail : ‘I gave in to my son’s pestering'” – Harborough Mail

This is the man who was snapped towing his six-year-old son behind his 4×4 on a sledge when we had  snow back in February.  “This is so serious that we are considering a custodial sentence” says the magistrate.

I do hope not.  As a non-driver I’m not sure quite how dangerous this was, but as he was apparently driving for 500 yards at less than 8 m.p.h. presumably not desperately so.  More important, surely, is the effect it might have on the boy involved.  If he felt that his alleged pestering had led to his Dad being sent to prison I’d imagine he might feel – very guilty?  angry with his father? very – and lastingly – angry with the police and the criminal justice system?

I can see a prison sentence might act as a deterrent to other parents thinking of towing their children behind a 4×4 the next time we have a freak snowstorm, but in (emotional) cost-benefit terms, I can’t see that it’s really  justified.   

At this point it’s traditional to say IT’S POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD!!!  But it isn’t really – just thoughtless and cruel.