The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

05 October

If We Have To Pay That 5p Plastic Bag Levy Then Let It All Go To LOCAL “Good Causes”

AM38GT Man looking at bill in grocery store. Image shot 2007. Exact date unknown.

From now on any customer who wants a plastic bag at the check out of every large retailer will have to pay a compulsory 5p levy. The government hopes that this will reduce the use of plastic bags and help the environment.

Of every 5p paid under the new charge, 0.83p will go to the Treasury in VAT and retailers have been told they are expected to give the rest to good causes.

You can bet your Nectar card that the six figure boss of the RSPCA and his fellow big charity chiefs are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of shedloads of shekels being forklifted into their money chests via this plastic bag levy. Some of it might go to the front line but you can guarantee that a lot of it will pay for shiny new offices and extra bonuses for those vital “administrators”….

What’s more Cameron’s government will be getting a slice of the action with that 0.83p. No doubt Samantha Cameron will be persuading Dave to pump that into foreign aid or climate change gifts so that she can feel a warm glow inside at her dinner parties.

So how about we approach this from a different angle. Keep the “good causes” ploy but instead of funnelling it the charity fat cats why not insist that the money raised from the levy goes to charities that are local to each supermarket’s catchment area. Indeed most supermarkets already identify with local good causes.

Then, instead of the supermarket bosses deciding which good cause to support while schmoozing with fellow rotarians at the golf club get the customers who pay the levy to decide for themselves by copying the Waitrose way……giving them a plastic token which they then throw into one of three boxes identifying a local good cause. Every two months three new charities would be identified so that over the year at least eighteen organisations would benefit. Then, at the end of the year, each charity would have to publish, in detail, how exactly the money was spent and make the facts available on the supermarket’s website, in the local media and via a leaflet issued at each checkout.

Oh and Dave…..why not announce that you won’t be taking your cut from the levy so the whole 5p will go to local good causes.



23 September
Comments Off on BBC Question Time Audiences Leftward Leaning? Surely Not……..

BBC Question Time Audiences Leftward Leaning? Surely Not……..



The proverbial Martian who was observing Earth and listened to “Any Questions” on BBC Radio or watched BBC Question Time on TV could be forgiven for assuming that, ever since 2010 the British people have been groaning under the boots of a fascist/capitalist/fatcat banker clique and are crying out for a left wing messiah who will lead them to the promised land of rainbows, unicorns and money trees – and (quelle surprise), welcome hundreds of thousands of “refugees” with open arms

Outside in the real world, of course, that particular type of infantilism fails to resonate.

So – why the discrepancy? Alison Pearson, who recently appeared on one of the panels, thinks she might have the answer

After the recording, the show’s excellent host, Jonathan Dimbleby, sighed heavily and told me it was a constant problem. He and the whole AQ team found it immensely frustrating that Tories simply did not show up on the night to add their voices. The producer said it would cost £5,000 a week to pay someone to assemble a politically balanced audience

Maybe – but one anecdote in the comments painted a slightly darker picture

I applied to join the Question Time audience four times using different details each time. Three times I expressed conservative views and voting and I heard nothing. One time I expressed socialist views and voting, and was invited to take part. Only an anecdote, but perhaps it reflects a wider issue. Question Time’s audience is never balanced. Any Questions is always loaded by lefties who use forums or rely on union shop stewards to urge each other on to go along. But I suppose these people feel at home because the current affairs output of the BBC aligns so closely with their political stance

BBC being rather selective? That can’t possibly be true…can it?






22 September
Comments Off on Trump & The Pundits – Are The Maps Out Of Date?

Trump & The Pundits – Are The Maps Out Of Date?

Notice how the UK media have been very quiet about Trump lately. We were earlier told by the resident pundits that he would fade and the consultant class choice Jeb Bush (Romney 2) would be emerging as the front runner ready to lose gracefully to Hillary in November 2016 having been deserted by the base.

But the Trump “fade” (rather like the UKIP fade) hasn’t happened so far and the “experts” both here and across the ocean are worried. As with UKIP,the SNP and Corbyn it’s a new landscape and their maps don’t appear to be making sense. Seems also that their regular hires from the so called “conservative” Washington punditocracy who inhabit the legacy media and the think tanks are also beginning to hedge their bets.

But in the US it’s not just the liberal/left usual suspects in the MSM who are starting to get angry at their compasses – “conservative” websites are wondering why outsiders like Trump, Carson and Fiorina getting a combined 50% plus in the polls while assorted GOP governors and senators are in single digits.

I suppose it’s beginning to feel a bit like being in St Petersburg in December 1916……

18 August
Comments Off on Dan Hodges Throws His Toys Out Of His Pram Over Corbyn

Dan Hodges Throws His Toys Out Of His Pram Over Corbyn


You couldn’t make it up. Dan Hodges, the hack who resigned from the Labour Party a year or so back, breathes hellfire on those who have recently joined the Labour Party to take part in the current leadership election. Shocked by the fact that his recent broadsides have failed to break the Corbyn surge the man who spent three years demonising UKIP and its members has now thrown his toys out of the pram because he and his ilk are being demonised by Corbyn’s supporters.

Hodges talks as if he is a wise old political bird with a swathe of experiences on the doorstep, in committee rooms and the corridors of power.

He isn’t.

He was a trade union official – but unlike Alan Johnson he wasn’t a worker who over the years rose from the shop floor to elected office. He cut his teeth as an office boy for a Labour MP who also happened to be a wealthy showbiz celeb – and his mum. She then pulled strings to get him a nice little number in a union. Later (probably again via mum) he discovered the world of “campaigning”…i.e shadowy little political think tanks with charitable status funded by private institutions and public money and he specialised in playing the race card.

With this background he managed to slide into the world of scribbling and was adopted by the DT as their latter day Sion Simon, a pet Labour hack. As a result he has morphed into that most worthless of creatures the “political commentator”, a male Polly Filler who is tasked to put 1200 word into an empty space and generate click bait to give advertisers the impression that a failing rag has legions of readers.

Hodges on politics? Nah – I’d rather read Bryony Gordon on the importance of lip gloss in the game of getting a husband….


BTW….do read the comments underneath Dan’s article – best collective take down ever!!!!!!

28 July
Comments Off on My Mum’s Schooldays in 1924 and a Story of Friendship

My Mum’s Schooldays in 1924 and a Story of Friendship

My mum’s class in her South London elementary school in Brixton in 1924 when she was 10. Not all the kids were the same age because in those days classes were organised in Standards so you didn’t automatically move up each year.

mum's class 1924

One teacher, nearly 50 kids – as she was a woman her pay would be lower and she had to stay single because, if she married, she would be sacked.  No exams and most kids left at 14 but my grandmother thought mum should stay on for another year when she would be bigger! She was then apprenticed to a West End milliner because “women would always wear hats”….

mum's class 1924 - Copy (4)

My mum, Marjorie James as she was is highlighted in red in this pic and her friend, Phoebe in green. Phoebe was a Jewish girl who joined the school late. Mum didn’t know her but saw her crying in the playground on her first day surrounded by some of the kids taunting her and chanting “dirty  jewgirl”  She went up to her, stood beside her and told the others she was her friend and to leave her alone.

That was typical of my mum. She didn’t have much to do with church and I never saw her reading a book on ethics but she had a moral strength equal to fifty bishops. She believed actions spoke louder than words. “You don’t SAY right” she told me once when I had been rather unpleasant to someone else “You DO right!!!”

Mum and Phoebe remained friends until parted by death in the 1980s.

Here they are, strolling along the seafront ten years later in 1934….the girls are back in town….lol..

m ph ad 1934 - Copy

15 July
Comments Off on The Day I Became A Proper Teacher

The Day I Became A Proper Teacher


Forget a lot of the blah that today passes off as the definition of good teaching. The present obsession with targets, test results and exam grades is a quaint throwback to a rather old fashioned instrumental model of learning – the student as an empty bottle and the teacher as lab worker who picks up the jug full of knowledge and pours it in.

Like all instrumental models the pattern is flawed because it leaves out one key fact – you are dealing with humans.

Sure test results and exam grades are important as useful indicators of what has been learned but that is not the whole story of what education is about. Schools are also places where children learn how to act as members of a community and a teacher’s job is also to provide them with clues about social conduct. Hence the relationship between teachers and students is an important strand of that learning process.

You could call it the chemistry of teaching.

Sometimes it can manifest itself in quite an unusual way.

My first job was in a North London comprehensive school. I lived initially with my parents in Streatham. My daily commute was a bus to Clapham Common Station, the Northern Line to Camden Town then another bus to the school. During the 1960s Northern Line trains were often delayed  so sometimes I cut things a little fine and arrived in school just after the bell. It was a big site so by the time I reached my tutor group to mark the register I was running even later. Usually there were still kids milling about the corridors and my delayed appearance  did not appear to be noticed.

How naive of me. My card had been marked and the Head himself had decided to confront me at the scene of the crime.

Fate decreed that on the very morning that the Head hovered around our particular corridor I was even later than usual. I slipped in through a side door, dashed up the back stairs and ran into the classroom, got to my desk and opened up the register – and suddenly noticed it had already been marked. I looked up, obviously rather puzzled and one of the girls told me that the Head had come into the room and asked where I was. Immediately the worst case scenario flashed across my mind. The Head had marked the register in my absence and later that morning I would be summoned to his office for a grade A bollocking.

But the kids had obviously read my fearful face.

“It’s OK, sir – we knew you were late so we marked the register for you and told the Head you’d gone down to the history stockroom to fetch a book” said one of them

When later in the day I told Ted G, our Head of House – a grizzled LCC veteran – he just nodded and said “Well Dave, you’ve passed the most important test. Forget about degrees and certificates. The kids might sometimes still try to cause trouble but if they back you up in that sort of situation you have passed their exam with flying colours. In their eyes you are now a proper teacher. But if I were you I’d bloody well make certain I was a proper teacher who arrived on time.”

Good old Ted G. He taught me a lot about stuff that my teacher trainers never mentioned – what he called the chemistry of teaching. I was never late again – I got up earlier and left a margin for delays. I’m also, fifty years later, still in touch with some of those “kids”. I never was a softy or one for thinking that the classroom could be a democracy. But I always believed that young people should be treated with respect – and that working with them was a privilege and I never had cause to regret that belief.



18 June
Comments Off on “Never Mind The Kids – Go Out To Work” UK Govt Tells Mums

“Never Mind The Kids – Go Out To Work” UK Govt Tells Mums


Wow…something from an Anglican Bishop that would not go down too well at a North London dinner party? I kid you not…

Rt Rev Paul Butler, the Bishop of Durham, warned government policies promoting childcare were focused on the interests on parents returning to work and not what was best for children.

The Bishop was taking part in  a House of Lord debate about Samantha Cameron’s…whoops..David Cameron’s latest get-the-women-out-to-work-at taxpayers’-expense wheeze

David Cameron’s Childcare Bill offers to double free childcare for three and four-year-olds from 15 hours per week during term time to 30 hours. The Tories argue the measure will ‘help parents who want to work’.

The good bishop had the sheer audacity to imply that the so-called Conservative government’s plans were “putting pressure on parents and mothers in particular to be valued as economic units rather than having the most important role of parenting their children valued”.

He’s battling a lost cause, of course. We have been told that our rulers want another 500,000 more women in the workplace by 2016 and the new child care proposals will help the UK reach that target.


Who the hell said that? It’s a target we need to achieve and we need to achieve it, like, yesterday. Conveniently it’s a nice round number that can easily be remembered and constantky quoted, not like, say, 437,492. Whoever heard of a f###ing target like that?

OK – but why? What is the rationale behind that nice round plump quotable number?

It’s the EU, ennit….

According to the Treasury the target of getting nearly 500,000 women into work “would allow the UK to match the female employment rate in Germany and the second-highest overall employment rate in the G7 grouping of major economic powers.”2 The EU’s five year Gender Equality Strategy states that Europe has a target employment rate of 75% overall for women and men by 2020. 3 According to EU data4 the “UK was 1 of 10 countries to have reached the Barcelona targets for children aged 0-3yrs old. In the UK, 35% of children aged 0-3 were in formal childcare in 2011, although most (30%) of children were in part-time childcare”.

 …and those awkward mums who who don’t want to spend the pre-school years working but want to be at home caring full time for them are giving two fingers to the Barcelona target.

Trouble is that it’s not only the state that wants both parents working – there’s a whole raft of commercial interests that need parents to spend in order to increase profit. Spending is good and the advertising industry and its willing accomplices in the media exist to squeeze those extra pounds from our pockets and purses.

But ‘twas not ever the case. When we (both teachers) married in 1967 we knew we wanted a family but we were prepared to wait 3/4 years to put some money aside for the time when my wife would no longer be working. We had a mortgage for our modest suburban semi-detached that took a chunk of our income to repay but did not overstretch us (Building  Socieities in those days had very strict lending rules). During the four years before our firstborn we were very careful with our money. We went out to eat and/or drink very rarely. We did not take holidays but instead maybe went out on the odd day trip. Although we both liked to dress fashionably we were not slaves to style – and when the kids came along my wife gave up work to be a full time stay at home mum and we continued to be careful spenders.

Our only extravagance was a car. We’d seen mums struggling onto buses and trains with children and pushchairs and bags and  felt that a 1970s lower middle class family could do better than that. But it was not, of course, a new car. Like everyone else we began with a well worn second hand Ford Anglia. In other words (how old fashioned) we cut our coat according to our cloth. We “made do”…baked our own cakes, made our own squash, sewed a lot of our own clothes.

Eventually, once our second born started primary school my wife returned to a measure of part-time teaching and we were able to enjoy a few more creature comforts. But we never regretted the frugality of those early years. The love and interest and attention we (or rather my wife) was able to devote to our children could never be measured through quantifiable units – you cannot easily measure quality.

Today’s parents appear to be unwilling to make such sacrifices. A new car (or cars) seem to be de rigueur. Holidays abroad are simply a must-have. Restaurants and pubs now need to be children friendly so that meals can be eaten out and a lively social life maintained.

But this costs money – so both parents need to work to afford such goodies…which is why the government is pushing at an open door when, according to the bishop, it hints that a stay at home parent is…well…to put it bluntly a tad…unpatriotic…

 But debating the plan in the Lords, the Bishop of Durham warned the focus on childcare creates the impression ‘that a parent choosing not to work but to raise their child themselves is somehow not doing the best for the nation or the child’.

 Sorry, Bish old bean – you are just a voice in the wilderness…..(now where have I heard that phrase before?)


12 June
Comments Off on Raheem Kassam Was Farage’s Andy Coulson…

Raheem Kassam Was Farage’s Andy Coulson…


Nigel Farage has written a knife sharp article about TTIP.  It is great stuff and I agree with every word. The trouble is by being willing to have it placed in Raheem Kassam’s Breitbart London he appears to be signalling that RK is an OK bloke…and that is a big mistake.

How Farage can write for a website run by a weasel like Mr Kassam who over the last few days has been sneering at UKIP and saying some odd things about Farage himself is a mystery. His recent outburst in the Guardian proves that Suzanne Evans and co were dead right about Mr Kassam….he shouldn’t be touched with a UKIP barge pole.

Nigel’s choice of Kassam  was one of the worst decisions he has ever made. Just when UKIP was beginning to be treated as a serious party this clown jumped in and acted like a throwback to the fallow years before 2010. A man who has no backstory of election campaigning became Nigel’s campaign aide – and didn’t manage to win the seat for him.

The keyboard warriors who infest Breitbart love him – I suspect those of us actual members who tramped the streets for UKIP (and are nearest to the voters) despise him

Kassam is a carpet bagging keyboard warrior who wrote Nigel’s tweets and advised him how to sell himself to the electorate. His campaign was so successful that Nigel failed to win the seat. Mr K is now spitting bile about UKIP via the Guardian/BBC who are still having orgasms about yet another opportunity to denigrate the party.

RK is peddling the myth that a handful of UKIP’s top brass plotted against him. Not true….it wasn’t “a few jealous insiders” who saw him as an accident waiting to happen – he was mistrusted at all levels from HQ to local branches.

As for Breitbart London during RK’s absence James Delingpole and Milo Yiannopou‎los had started to turn it into a website that fulfilled Andrew Breitbart’s original intention of showing that right wing writers could be witty as well as keeping  abreast with cultural fashion. RK’s return and their departure indicates the likelihood that the more discerning readers will surf elsewhere and the site will attract the tinfoil hat brigade and Russian trolls….what a tragedy.

22 May
Comments Off on UKIP Should Reach For The Stars With A Ten Year 25/50 Plan

UKIP Should Reach For The Stars With A Ten Year 25/50 Plan


Nobody can deny that the last two weeks have not exactly been been the greatest for UKIP as we shot ourselves in the foot over Nigels “unresignation”, the dispute over Short money and some loose tongues  It was a gift to our enemies in the media (especially at the Telegraph and Mail) and we simply have to bite the bullet until it becomes yesterday’s news and the inevitable Tory “failure to deliver” starts to hit the headlines.

In the meantime UKIP must continue with the process of establishing a lean, mean and professional party apparatus if it wants to shift up a gear and capture those extra six million votes that would transform it into a serious political force. Nigel is perfectly aware of his own strengths and weaknesses and the need to establish a more collegiate approach to leadership so that it becomes Team UKIP rather than Team Farage but he was probably justified in cracking some heads together to restore order.

Fortunately over the last year or two we have built up an impressive cadre of activists – Paul Nuttall, Diane James, Suzanne Evans, Steven Woolfe (and yes..Patrick O’Flynn) all come to mind but there are others. They have proved to be able advocates and staunch defenders both on TV and radio and have taken a lot of the strain from Nigel Farage’s shoulders

But, despite the unwanted media attention, we must not forget that nearly 4m voters supported UKIP candidates in the general election, we have one MP and hundreds of local councillors – and the control of one council. The party is putting down roots but it is still a fragile plant. Consolidation must be the priority for the next year or two, not just at HQ but also at branch level. We need to encourage all our members to play an active role in their local branches and develop a seeding policy to set up new branches in fallow areas.

Above all we must ensure that we keep hold of those 4m voters and attract another 6m by 2020 – or, how about this, in terms of percentages…25% of the votes by 2020, 50% by 2025. Let’s call it UKIP’s 25/50 plan.

A fantasy – well anyone who said in 2010 that UKIP would get nearly 13% of the turnout in 2015 would have been sectioned so why not reach for the stars?

21 May
Comments Off on Food Porn……Toast…

Food Porn……Toast…

toast 2


I defy anyone not to want to head for the toaster after reading this from Chapter 8 of “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame

 “When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries”

11 visitors online now
1 guests, 10 bots, 0 members
Max visitors today: 18 at 02:58 pm BST
This month: 27 at 10-05-2015 09:56 am BST
This year: 67 at 03-09-2015 08:48 pm GMT
All time: 264 at 05-31-2011 04:37 pm BST

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: