Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

Protecting the Olympics

Swiss Rapier Missiles. Source Wikepedia: Nirazul

The Guardian newspaper today reports “Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the residents of the Fred Wigg tower had expressed “shock, anxiety and worry” over the prospect of missiles being stationed on top of their building, but they had been under “something of a misapprehension” about the nature of the equipment to be deployed and the risks deployment would bring.

“Yesterday David Forsdick, representing Philip Hammond, said the defence secretary was under no statutory duty to consult the residents, although an impact assessment had been carried out and the tenants’ human rights taken into consideration. Residents had no legitimate expectation that they would be consulted on issues involving the defence of the realm and national security.”

So, can we see the impact assessment? What kind of misapprehension about missiles on the roof might the residents have? To what extent is protecting the IoC and the Olympic event a defence of the realm?

Chumbawamba split

It probably comes as no surprise that I have consistently been a fan of Chumbawamba. I think that I have half of their 15 albums. I dumped all of my vinyl 15 years ago, keeping only 5. Never Mind the Ballots was one of the five. I saw them perform Never Mind the Ballots at the De Grey club in Hull. They were a little late turning up I recall, but they were sensational. Their shows were always spectacles and they stayed true to their radical left position (even when their followers strayed). Some great lines.

They have been a shadow of their former selves for a number of years in the absence of Danbert Nobacon, Dunstan and Alice Nutter.

I recommend the touching documentary on youtube “Well Done. Now Sod off” in two parts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiyy3dace2M&feature=related; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioTwFNu4Cdo&feature=relmfu

Whatever current and former band members wish for, I hope they get it. Thank you.

Royal Blue run 2012

Some of my closest friends know that I have some interest in buses. I have a bit of a collection of model buses, but those who have the real thing are special. I have never been a passenger on a bus run. The opportunity to join this year’s run was too good to let pass. So, we boarded a colleague’s 1961 Bristol MW on Friday morning (29 June) and headed out to Salisbury to meet up with a fleet of vehicles that once plied their trade between the South West and London.

It did turn out to be a bit of a tour of bus stations; notably Exeter and Plymouth. The drive through the villages and small towns with their tight bends and narrow entries and exits (the buses sometimes fitted these roads like the tube trains fit the tunnels) was delightful but more often than not frustrating. Whilst the vehicles in their heyday had the roads to themselves, modern tourism meant that we encoutered a lot of traffic in the opposite direction generating tight passing and a lot of reversing.

To illustrate the specialness of some of the owners, one has set up his own museum on his farm near Aveton; this was one of the stops on the tour – and memorable it was, too. Not only is there a collection of memorabilia with suitable descriptions and narrative, but also more buses. Hidden at the back of one of the barns was a truly immaculate Bristol Lodekka. Those in the know, know what I mean.

British design exhibition at the V&A

It is a little pricey at £12.50, but certainly interesting at a number of levels. There is the nostalgia surrounding design epochs and the objects that came to symbolise them. There is the learning – largely historical – about the objects and/or movements that encapsulate British design. And there is a great shared experience – I talked to more people at this exhibition than at any other I can remember. For example, at the balsa model of my former university, I met someone who recently visited with potential students and a former student who also went on to work at the university whilst I was there. A very nice encounter.

The exhibition is housed in three galleries. The first is a bit of a mish-mash of epochs, events and artefacts (e.g. the 60s, the Festival of Britain, transport/architecture). The second gallery revolved around popular culture – Bowie, Mary Quant, Factory records, etc. The final gallery, loosely representing innovation, had Concorde, the E-Type Jaguar, The Gherkin, Video Games and Dyson.

I thoroughly enjoyed my journey through the galleries (it took me over three hours) but I was left wondering what the point was. What was the narrative? Why these artefacts and not others? Even more disturbing, however, is the question, where to now? The innovation gallery was surprisingly uninspiring. It was rather sterile. On leaving the gallery, rather than walking into a new world of opportunity, one walks into the gift shop. Rather unfortunate, I thought.

The exhibition continues until 12 August. The exhibition’s video includes interviews with a number of designers featured, including Margaret Calvert who worked on the road signs and who admits that the little girl featured on the ‘children crossing’ road sign is her own image of herself as an eight-year old girl (with her little brother). The video can be seen from the exhibition’s website http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-british-design/

The case for lawyers to head up the banking inquiry

‘Bob’ – we are all on first name terms now – Diamond wrapped the MPs on the Treasury Select Committee around his little finger yesterday. Despite it taking 3 hours, it was an incoherent tame affair largely because there was no strategy to the questioning by the MPs. To be fair, they are not trained interrogators, but there were some rudimentary errors made. For example, Robert Peston on yesterday’s World Tonight programme asked, when did Diamond actually learn about LIBOR fixing – when he first read the report last week as he claims or earlier when he in 2008 claimed that all banks were busy fixing the LIBOR? If he knew in 2008, why did he not intervene? And why did he say to the Committee that he learned only last week? And why did the MPs not pick him up on that contradiction? The now infamous Tucker exchange was also unsatisfactorily investigated.

Click on Peston above to hear the interview.

If ever there was a case for a lawyer led investigation, yesterday’s hearing made it.

Diamond resigns, Cameron announces limited inquiry

Bob Diamond has this morning resigned as CEO of Barclays. Clearly, the reputation of Barclays is under some pressure over this LIBOR-fixing scandal. That said, one is still incredulous to hear shareholders this morning defending him – or at least his aggressive banking style that they think suits their dividend requirements.

Yesterday, David Cameron announced a parliamentary review of banking – or rather professional and cultural standards in the banking industry to be chaired by Andrew Tyrie. Tyrie is now doing some back peddling in light of Labour’s call for a more substantive review of banking presided over by a lawyer similar to Leveson currently investigating phone hacking.