The Anonymous Widower

Dartford Crossing

I had to travel to Dover today and took some photographs of the two major bridges en route.  Here are some pictures taken at the Dartford Crossing. Those I took on the Medway Viaducts weren’t worth publishing.

Note the Littlebrook power station. It is oil-fired and was opened in 1981.  Perhaps, it should be gone now! It will be in its present form by 2015.  But at the moment it is one of the few power stations with a black-start capability.  That means it can be started without any external electricity supply.

If anybody thinks that I was taking these photographs whilst driving, then think again.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Who do I Support in Angola?

It is strange the rules you apply to decide which team to support in the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

Take Egypt against Nigeria.

Egypt is a country, where I enjoyed a good gluten-free holiday at Luxor and is somewhere I’ll go to again.  Nigeria on the other hand is a country I’ve never visited and from which I get endless spam, named after article 419 in their penal code. (To be fair to Nigeria, they are doing their best to stop the spam!)

But I supported Nigeria for no apparent reason!

Now, I’m watching Benin against Mozambique.

Here it’s Mozambique. 

I was in Trinidad and happened to be staying at a hotel, where there was a Speakers’ Conference of all the Commonwealth countries.  At breakfast I was in the queue with a guy whose badge said he was an official of the Mozambique parliament! 

But then they aren’t in the Commonwealth are they?

Oh yes they are!  And when I questioned the guy about it, he told me how important the Commonwealth were to his country in providing aid and specialist advisors. He made some comment about the Commonwealth sending a sole advisor who knew his stuff, whilst the UN sent one who didn’t with a useless entourage.

Another thing I remember at this conference was Betty Boothroyd, who was doing a sterling job at making everybody’s time a good and productive one.  She was always immaculately dressed and at breakfast I asked my wife, a barrister, who was the scruffy bloke with Miss Boothroyd. She choked on her muesli, laughed and said it was Derry Irving.  He was definitely second class to Miss Boothroyd!

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Sport | , , | 1 Comment

Africa Cup of Nations

Two years ago, I was very lonely, miserable and possibly desperate, as my wife had died.  If anything helped to get over the loneliness, it was football and in particular the Africa Cup of Nations.

For many nights in that January, there was entertaining football every night, played by countries who had a lot more problems than I had. So I watched and enjoyed.  It helped!

This year, I was looking forward to the 2010 cup in Angola.  In just ten years since one of the most nasty and vicious of African civil wars, Angola has progressed enough to be awarded the finals.  With Africa in the news so often for the wrong reasons, here was a reason to be cheerful.

But then we had the attack on the Togo players as they drove to Cabinda. Perhaps they shouldn’t have driven through one of the most dangerous parts of Angola.  But they did and three people died.  It is easy for us to say they should have flown, but then we don’t know the finances of the Togo team and flying is not as safe in some parts of Africa as it is in Europe and the US.  Remember too, that the Zambian team was wiped out in an aircrash in 1993. Did this influence the decision?

We will probably never know, but sadly the attack has cast a very sombre gloss over the tournament.

This quote from Thomas Dossevi of the Togo team will be remembered as it has a dignity and a maturity.

We are all heartbroken. It is no longer a party but we want to show our national colours, our values – and that we are men.

I can feel their pain and my heart goes out to everybody.

But football is proving to be one of the values of Africa.  It might even be some of those footballers, who in the end, lift some of the more troubled countries out of their problems of poverty, disease, famine, bad government, dictatorships and corruption.  Many are doing a lot more than their governments.

We must support them in every way possible.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Sport | , | 1 Comment

The Ban on Islam4UK

Organisations such as Islam4UK and all the other so-called Muslim organisations, that don’t like the way things are done in the Western World bother me.  But then so do right-wing so-called Christian groups and also those fake religions and cults beloved of celebrities with too much money and not enough common sense.

Most preach fiery hate to unbelievers like me and say we will rot in hell.  That by the way is impossible, as hell doesn’t exist, unless you are stuck on the M25 (put your favourite in here) at the time of a small bump, that the Police decide is worthy of an enormous investigation.

When these groups commit crimes such as murder, assault, kidnapping and extortion, then hopefully they will feel the full force of the law.

So why do they bother me?

Usually the charlatans at the top are clever individuals, who know how to stay out of trouble, by playing the law to the limit.  There are a lot of extreme political organisations, which are just as dangerous and use exactly the same techniques.

But their followers are often not so bright and in some cases can easily be encouraged to  do things that are very much against the law.  These are the ones that do the damage and those that led them on have all the excuses ready.

So Prudence has decided for popular reasons to add Islam4UK to the list of banned organisations.

I’d rather have them out in the open, than as a secretive underground organisation.

I thought this might be a lone view, but read Martin Bentham in the Evening Standard tonight.  Here’s the article.

Today’s ban on Islam4UK and its offshoots is certain to be widely welcomed but its impact is likely to be limited.

The reality is that Anjem Choudary, a lawyer proficient at staying in the bounds of legality, will continue to propagate his extremist message and, if anything, attract even greater attention because of the increased notoriety.

The previous ban on The Saved Sect and Al Ghurabaa was unable to prevent him and his followers reorganising under a different guise, and the same will almost certainly happen this time.

There is also the wider question of whether such an order is proper in a democracy. If extremists’ views, however abhorrent, do not breach laws such as those against incitement to murder and racial hatred, instead of seeking to stifle them it might be better to ignore them — rather than generating yet more publicity.

There is also one very powerful weapon that we should use against all of these people – humour.

Remember in the Second World War nothing was off-limits when combatting the Nazis. Just read this little piece about Spike Jones in 1942. We need him now!

All of these groups give splendid opportunities for satire, ridicule and just plain fun.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

Adding my Posts to your Web Site

I have no problem with people putting up my posts on their web sites provided they acknowledge who wrote it all in the first place.  I said as much in Electronic Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement.

Recently though, I’ve had a request about putting a link to a series of posts on my pages.  It was the Cambridge Busway, of which I write about fairly often, as I think it is a wonderful example of how not to manage a project. It is well over budget on costs, very late on finish time and short on the important small details.  That link is given below.

Click it and you’ll see all my posts on the busway.

So how would you add a link like this to your web site?

  1. Go to the front page of this blog.  Click here to do that!
  2. Click the tag you want from the tag cloud.
  3. Capture the URL from your browser and paste it into your web site.

It’s a bit technical, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s like swimming or cycling.  You never forget. 

Unless of course it’s swimming, which I can’t do!

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Computing | , , | Leave a comment

Musings on Gluten-Free Pasta

As a coeliac, I can’t have normal pasta, but there are some fairly good gluten-free ones around.

I do get Dr. Schar‘s pasta on free on prescription (I’m 62, so age does have some advantages!), but I’m not that good at cooking it, so it tends to be a bit hard.  As I’ve now got the hang of cooking rice, in either the quick Uncle Ben form or the more traditional one, I tend to avoid cooking pasta.

However, I have got a liking for Carluccio’s the gluten-free pasta on their menu that is suitable for coeliacs. Just click the link on the page indicated.  I had some of the Giardiniera today in their caffe in St. Pancras Station and it was excellent. I just wish that they would change the gluten-free menu more often and also do some liver too!

But hey, the pasta is always worth waiting for, even if it takes a few minutes more.  Does that explain my hard pasta?

The interesting thing though is that Carluccio’s seem to do only one type of gluten-free pasta with different sauces. And that is penne!

Could it be that gluten-free pasta comes better in the thicker varieties?

Recently, I’ve tried cooking some of the Doves Farm gluten-free penne and that was a lot better.  Also a friend has cooked me one her special lasagna using Dr. Schar‘s pasta and that was better than excellent.

I’m no cook and I wonder if anybody has any ideas.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Food | , | Leave a comment

Lundy Island

This little island has just been named as Britain’s first Marine Conservation Zone.

Lundy is an island I’ve always known about and is definitely on my list of places to visit.  This is because when I was a child for a few years we lived nextdoor to someone, who my father called “The King of Lundy Island”.  All I can remember of him is seeing him walking to the station after the house had been sold and a removal van had collected his belongings.

Was this Martin Coles Harman, who styled himself the “King of Lundy Island”, after he’d bought the island in 1924?

I can’t find any reference to him as living in Southgate in North London and he died in Oxted in Surrey, a few years after the mysterious King left.

He seems to have been an interesting man as according to this article in the Age in 1955.

London, June 23 – Mr. Martin Coles Harman, “king” of Lundy Island, in Bristol Channel, the financier who knew wealth, bankruptcy and gaol, sent a message from his grave yesterday to everyone in debt to his estate.

He said in his will “waive and destroy all I.O.U.’s.

His son, John Pennington Harman, was also one of the heroes of Kohima and won a VC in the battle.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | News, World | , , | 1 Comment

Cambridge Busway Art

It’s good to see that Cambridgeshire County Council has it’s priorities right on the busway.

They’ve spent a lot of money on an art work by a German artist for one of the unopened Park and Ride sites.

I wonder how many councillors and officers of the council visited the artist in Germany?  Hopefully none, but someone please tell me, so I can post it here.

Also, has anybody any idea when it will open?

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Freedom can go to Hell

This was written on a placard carried by one of the men who protested in Luton when the Royal Anglian Regiment paraded through the town. 

It may be out of context with what was going on or I might have got the wrong end of the stick, but I object strongly to anybody saying that my “Freedom can go to Hell”.  After all Prudence and his rabble have done enough to erode a lot of things that I used to be able to take for granted.

When protesters start saying things like this it is about time that the silent majority took action.

For instance some religious bigot wanted to take coffins through Wootton Bassett.  There was a simple solution to this.  Don’t ban him as it will only make him worse, but when he passes  everybody should line the road and then turn their collective backs silently and with dignity on the protest.

That would send a powerful signal all over the world to those who care about freedom.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | News | | Leave a comment