Monday, September 25, 2006

A tragedy waiting to happen?


If you live in the UK it must have been impossible for you to escape the news of the high speed crash by Top Gear television presenter Richard Hammond, during filming of the series of Top Gear. In fact if you live anywhere in the vicinity of a television, you would have heard the news. So successful is the show, so if you live in Sweden, Australia, Ireland, India or Oman you would have come across Richard Hammond and what could be the best motoring show in the world.

The format is very simple, you have three presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, whilst being incredibly unlike each other they are in fact cast by the same mould. They are witty, clever very un-pc and anti-health and safety, at least on screen. They have a passion for cars and vehicles which you and I could possibly only dream about driving never mind owning. They convey a message which you and I agree upon, if you are in the target demographic of 25 – 55 year olds, why drive a Toyota Prius when you can drive Range Rovers or a Ferraris, to others this is known as midlife crisis, to me it is fun…

Combine all of this with a lot of cheekiness, boyish behaviour, stupid tests, such as how long does it take Jeremy Clarkson to kill off a Toyota Hilux pick up truck?...Thanks Jeremy, I was looking for a second hand of those and the day after your bloody show, the price doubled... There has been some very important test such as how far will a Mini “jump” if fitted with rocket boosters and placed on top of the Holmenkollen, ski jump in Oslo, Norway, something which I always wanted to know…or the race between and 4x4 against a motorised kayak on the shores of Iceland, a study which might be coming in handy one day if global warming is continuing…

So accidents happen that is a fact. People do everything they can to prevent accidents but since you are not in charge of moulding the tires, building the cars, the weather and so forth, there will always be an element of risk. For heavens sake risk starts the moment you get out of bed in the morning, it is a fact of life and we do not need a group of people with the titles Head of Health and safety to tell us that…life thought us that and our kids should be thought the same…

What shouldn’t surprise me, and it didn’t, since Great Britain is a nation which looks up to success stories, people that make it, but only to a certain level, once they hit that level they need to be knocked down, “put in place” and the “who do they think they are” attitude starts to form.

Having followed Top Gear it saddens me that other program makers are now calling for the show to be canned, on the basis that it is unsafe…? What a load of rubbish…They are calling for the programme to be canned because it would leave a gap in the market so they can push their own mediocre programs. Newspapers such as The Guardian were out of the blocks before Richards condition was known, but as always, The Guardian does their own thing and they do not listen to the public.

A week after the accident, Richard Hammond seems, according to reports, to be doing some progress and I am sure he is both deeply grateful for all the support and well wishes to him and his family as he is saddened to hear that the BBC decided to “move” the programme until Richard is better.

Is this only a ploy to allow “health and safety busy bodies” do their calculations in order so that they can put a final nail in the coffin of what once was the greatest motoring show on television? Or does the BBC have the tenacity to stand up against the calls for an end to the show by people who have a financial gain by it being canned?

Well there is of course another solution and whilst Jeremy might have a slight heart attack by me just mentioning it and I do not feel comfortable saying it… ITV…

Think about it of a second, the programme is without doubt based around the three presenters. They could take themselves a huge pay increase, get almost any slot they want, ITV would bite their hands off to get them onboard and the motoring industry would be lining up to give them what they wanted. The audience would put up with the stupid adverts, just in order to see the programme, without doubt...

Instead of making the programme down in Surrey, there are excellent facilities in Little Rissington, The Cotswolds, where incidentally the James Bond movie scene with the ice palace was filmed. Jeremy and Richard would live around the corner so it would cut down their travelling times and thus allow them to spend more time with the family, and their donkeys…should they wish to do so…and I could be hired to carry their bags in return of having a go every now and then in some of their more extravagant cars...

I am sure that we have not heard the last of this…

I would like to add that I wish Richard and his family all the best and let you know that there is a donation page started which you can access here… all for a good cause...

You can also follow Richards progress and email the Top Gear programme here…go on let them know what you think…

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A normal day in the Foreign Office


I am lucky that I am not Foreign Minster in this government because it would be difficult to keep up. Imagine the scenario…You arrive in the office in the morning when your senior staff brief you about the changes in Sweden, who is my new counter part over there again? What is the name again of the guy who is in charge? Who do we speak to about where the next Ikea is going to be placed and will our Volvo still be under the service agreement and so forth.

Then someone comes in and tells me that Ferenc Gyurcsany has told fibs to his people…Who? Ferenc you know the guy who is the PM in Hungary…SO WHAT, WE DO IT ALL THE TIME!!...Well…anyway he lied to his people and it was played on MTV…why is MTV playing out the PM’s lies…no not that MTV, Magyar Television the state broadcaster so now their offices have been torched and the people are asking for his resignation. What MTV?…NO the Hungarian people is asking Ferenc Gyurcsany, the Hungarian PM to resign.

This is far too much for me so before I go for my first G&T in the morning when some little snotty civil servant comes in and shouts, THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN OVERTHROWN!!…WHAT already? We haven’t put out a press statement yet? So who is now in charge, what does our ambassador in Budapest have to say…Budapest? says the snotty civil servant…Bangkok you mean? What on earth has Bangkok got to do with the Hungarian Prime Minster lying to his people, I say now starting to break out in sweat?

Thailand’s Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra was overthrown and the military have taken power, I am now informed…
How can one keep up with all of this?

You see lying to your people is so common in politics nowadays that we do not take a scrap of notice. When they are caught out, for heavens sake, a bloke goes with some rent boys, get caught then blames it on that he was going bald…and no-one flinches…apart from his silly wife who says…I will stick by him.
So normally lying and cheating is not a bad thing for politicians it was just bad for Ferenc and Thaksin that they were caught out…

Being completely bonkers is not a reason to loose power either, which has been proved by Saparmurat Niyazov, one of the nuttiest and still unknown guys around.
He is the self declared dictator of Turkmenistan or The Land of Turkmen as it is known locally. Up until 1991 it was part of the Soviet Union, when the Soviet Union was sent to the scrap heap an array of countries where founded, some by force and violence and some sort of just appeared.

You would not really be able to find Turkmenistan in the new 2007 Thompson Travel brochure as few people decide to travel there by choice.
Saparmurat is sort of just following what everyone else has done before him. Turkmenistan has a bit of chequered history.
In the 4th century Alexander the Great took charge, and he was only passing there on his way to India. Then the Arabs turned up in the 7th Century and it became part of the famous silk route. Move to the 12th century and you would find the Turks there as they tried to established control over the region and especially Afghanistan, which they held until Genghis Kahn turned up and took control of the Caspian Sea.

So all quiet on the front after that…you are kidding, infighting and “small wars” were fought until the 17th and 19th century when the various Persian Shahs got in on the act. Then in marches the British Empire and the October Revolution 1917 in Russia and subsequent in 1924 it became part of the Soviet Union…so there we have it…

Having been knocked about by everyone from Alexander The Great, Genghis Kahn and the whole British Empire you would think that the Turkmen would want some piece and quiet in 1991 when they established independence, and quiet is what they got…in the form of Saparmurat Niyazov, so quiet that we never hear about them in the press…even thought that they are the 10th largest cotton producer in the world??

So who is this Saparmurat and why does he deserve to be mentioned here?

Well you see he is a complete nutcase who rules his population, 5 million Tukmen in total, with an iron fist and a warped mind. For starters, he owns the papers and the television that is a clever move, now no-one can say anything bad about him, which is punishable by death or camps by the Caspian Sea, and we are not talking Butlins here…

Firstly his title should say it all "His Excellency Saparmurat Niyazov "Turkmenbashi", President of Turkmenistan and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers". The title Turkmenbashi, means "the father of all Turkmen" and he is the founder and president of the Association of Turkmens of the World. Well hey what a great club to be in “Sappy”!
Needless to say that he is bleeding the country dry, but that is only what expected of a dictator, everyone does it, his fortune is estimated to be in the region of $3,000,000,000. Not bad for someone whose major industry is cotton.
Then he went off and got all of his family members’ jobs in the government. He renamed the city of Krasnovodsk to Turkmenbashi after himself. Did he stop there…no way Jose, he didn’t like the bible or the Koran so he wrote one himself, the book of soul or Ruhnama (see picture top) as it is known locally and all studying in school uses text from the book to educate the people and make them love their leader.
He didn’t like gold teeth as it looked bad so he banned them urging his people to gnaw on bones, because he had not seen any dog with bad teeth…not kidding here, that is what he said.
He also banned long hair for men as this was western culture, which he despises so in line with that he went further and closed down all opera and ballet houses, western style universities is out, so is libraries and recorded music. He didn’t like the names of the days and the months of the year so he renamed all the days in the week and months in the year using his family members names…makes sense I suppose…see you on Anna 13th of Elisabeth…
He decided to build “new wonders of the world” and the first which was meant to be an Ice Palace ended up being an ice rink…not really a wonder if you live in Sweden or Canada…
His people are living in poverty, but he managed to spend $100M on a memorial for his mother…and a gold statue of himself in the capital which rotates so the sun always shines on him.
He shut down the hospitals outside the capital Ashgabat telling people if the were sick they could travel to the capital.
He banned all video games in the country saying that they were too violent for Turkmen to play.
He also needed to cut down on the civil list so he fired 15,000 health workers, school teachers and midwifes…
So what else is there to say about him…well he found some hair colouring one day and is now colouring his hair black, it was very grey at one point, this prompted him to recall the currency and reprint all notes with him being depicted having grey hair…who says a dictator cannot be vain…What a great guy…

Monday, September 18, 2006

No Pirates on my watch...


So there we are, the Swedes went to the voting booths in their thousands, in fact numbers indicate that 80% of eligible voters cast their vote...I wonder if Sven Göran Eriksson voted? The result, which followed was not really a surprise to anyone, well apart to some Social Democratic party workers, they are always disappointed, win or loose. Final result; the left had to make way to the right...dont say "I told you so"....well I did.…

The Prime Minster of Sweden resigned both as Prime Minster and leader of the Social Democratic Party, things to come for Mr Blair I presume...New Prime Minster in Sweden is Fredrik Reinfeldt (see picture left), the 41 year old leader of New Moderate, that is Tories to you and me.…All he needs to do now is to ensure that he gets his four parties together around the table, decide who will be doing what and get on with the job, a piece of cake if you ask me.

What is a little baffling is how the Swedes could have been so unfair and so unloyal to Mr Persson the former PM and his party, nothing to do with him getting hitched with a woman who was in charge of the monopoly off licence and accused of taking bribes...no...must be his charisma.

For starters, Sweden has the lowest unemployment in Europe. They have the highest welfare and their economy is better than they anticipated and projected. Taking all this into account and the fact that the Social Democrats have governed Sweden for a decade, apart from a 10 year break when the pipe smoking farmer in dungarees, flat cap and photo opportunities with him, clearing a field using a scythe, were the norm, they perhaps got a bit too relaxed about the whole thing...Or was it about the golden handshake which they get if they are kicked out of their job...they will keep their salary for a year then a nice pensions at retirement age...so they will really not be the losers after all.…

What about all of our friends in the "Vote for me as I am a fruitcake and your vote will be wasted" - category? I mentioned those parties in an earlier article because they really got some coverage in the press and they did go out and said that they would be the ones who would be negotiating today about forming a government. Well you will be pleased that the Swedes aren't that stupid, so they didn't buy into the hype and with the results now in I can let you know how they managed;

Swedish Democracy Party, neo Nazi sort of setup - total votes in the election 46,595 (why is it that guys like that always do well???
Feministic Initiative, women Lib with help from Jane Fonda, who visited and gave her support - 15,914
Pirate Party, free music and downloads, not enough free votes though - 10,775
June List, just wacko - 7,388
Hospital Party, the name says it all - 2,657
Unity Party, spread some love in politics - 8,740
Unique Party, Big brother contestant now in (or perhaps were in) politics - 76 votes

Considering that he did not run a campaign, did not pay for advertising, did not appear on television or radio, Donald Duck managed to get 41 votes...

So there we have it...Sweden did come to their senses, voted for a proper party and not the clown parties...it is a bit of a shame because it would have been fun following the development...

Photo © Peter Knutson

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cake or no cake?


This is going to be difficult to write without sounding like a teacher, or a lecturer but I will try to do my best not to. Something which did not grab the headlines here in the UK nor in Sweden, well we do have political turmoil at the moment in both places, UK with Mr. Blair and the question, ”Will he or won’t he?” and in Sweden this Saturday is the general election, and the left will probably make way to the right, something which only happened twice before, in 1976 when the Social Democrats had to give way to the Centre Alliance, nothing to do with Star Wars, saying that, the Alliance in Star Wars would possibly done a better job. The other time the left had to give to the right was in 1967 when the Swedes had to park their cars for two hours at 2 am in November, whilst the traffic scheme changed from driving on the left to driving on the right...

No the reason why the headlines had not been filled with the financial ruin of Nauru is because no one cares. They didn’t have it, then they did...they lost it got it back and lost it again…make sense doesn’t it?

Nauru is the world’s smallest republic, situated at 0°31’41.86”S and 166° 56’ 04.27”E in the South Pacific. It has a population of only 9,600 large citizens. Why is it that no-one cares I hear you ask…well you see once upon a time, not too long a go, they were one of the richest countries in the world per capita, and all of this because of Guano…or birdshit to you and me…

Lets do a bit of history, Captain John Feam, a British navigator sailed past Nauru in 1798 and names it Pleasant Island, take it he did not get ashore then with all those bird droppings…

In 1888 the Germans took control of the Island and believe it or not, a British firm discovered phosphate on the island so they start to mine it, sharing the profits with the Germans, have to be one of the first. Phosphate is a valuable resource used as fertilizer, among other things.

The Australians get a wind of this so they arrive and take control, until WW2 when…you guessed it…the Japanese turn up and want a bit of the action. Now the Japanese were not very nice to the Nauruans, they shipped a third of the population to Micronesia to work in labour camps and then an additional 500 died from starvation or bombings.

War ends, Australia is back but this time only as a keeper under a UN legislation. So life plodders on in Nauru and in 1968 they have had enough of the Aussies so they gain independence and elects their first president, Mr. Hammer DeRoburt.

Now, for the first time since 1798, the Nauruans have control over their country and more importantly their birdshit. They continue to mine the guano and sue the Aussies, New Zealand and Great Britain for lost royalties and compensation for mining damage, don’t ask me how the Germans missed out on that lawsuit…and they win, $73,000,000 from Australia and $16,400,000 from the UK and NZ combined.

Happy, rich and prosperous, life for the 10,000 inhabitants of Nauru is great. So during the 1970’s and 1980’s they splash out, having one of the highest standards of living in the world. So far so good…they have had a bit of turmoil with ownership of the birdpoo, but now hard working and successful Nauruans work away…well not really…they are rich and successful but working? No they hire immigrant workers to do all the jobs, whilst they spend most of their time watching television, living on a diet of junk food, quite common for us in the Western world, or go for spin in their car on the islands only road, which is about 7.5km long. Then one day in the mid 90’s disaster strikes.

Their birdshit is running out!!!

Not having invested their money in other sustainable businesses Nauru is facing financial ruin, as most of their money has been put away in daft financial schemes, been lost or stolen, so what to do…?

They have the financial wizardry and know-how so they decide…against better judgement, to set up offshore banking. Before long Nauru becomes a haven for dodgy financial deals and money laundering. In 1998 it is estimated that $70,000,000,000 was transferred from Russian to Nauruan banks, which is 700 times more than Nauru’s entire gross national product.

Needless to say that it could not last…you cannot run a business laundering money for the Russian mafia and Colombian drug cartels, it just doesn’t work, no one in the banking world wants to be your friend if you do that, so subsequently the banks were shut down. So now with no guano, no drug money things start to get tough on the island, the infrastructure is collapsing and they are starting to have serious payment problems. Supplies are cut off frequently, including the supply of fresh food.

Tough when you import 100% of all that you use. The population is now one of the unhealthiest populations in the world due to years of sitting down doing nothing. Australia got fed up by bailing them out and even cancelled their subsidised medial care. The Australians did do a deal with them…the Aussies said “We will pay you to set up a detention centre for asylum seekers.”

This has been a lucrative deal, but they still needed aid as they had run up debts of some $169,000,000.

So what next, well they are trying to make some inroads with Taiwan which of course angers the Chinese. Air Nauru’s only aircraft was repossessed by a US bank in December last year, which now makes it difficult for anyone wanting to get out of there, so…I don’t have any answers…more than… You cant have your cake and eat it…unless of course you are Nauruan then you will eat all the cakes and still want more…What is that all about?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Plain speaking...

I received a form from Tewksbury Borough Council earlier today regarding my Council Tax and I was intrigued by the marking and logo at the top right hand corner of the form, a Crystal Mark with the words Clarity approved by Plain English Campaign

Never having heard of this organisation I decided to have a look around and see what they are up to and I am stunned to find out that they are campaigning for plain English to be used in public forms.

They say; Plain English Campaign is an independent pressure group fighting for public information to be written in plain English. We have more than 10,000 registered supporters in 80 countries. 'Public information' means anything people have to read to get by in their daily lives. 'Plain English' is language that the intended audience can understand and act upon from a single reading.”

Well I have never heard anything as stupid as that…has this country resorted to having to explain what they mean by a pressure group telling us what we should say?
I speak some five languages and will understand two more and I learnt at an early stage, when I came to the UK, that my Swedish would not take me very far in London, apart from directing lost Swedish tourists to Debenhams Department store, and since that did not pay very much I had to speed up on my English.

I also understood when I asked for something or told someone something and got a response such as “I beg your pardon?” or “Could you repeat that?”, that I had to learn. So all in all, I hade to learn how to speak English to make myself understood and not sound as a lost tourist. I suspected that common sense would tell English speaking natives that if they were not understood they would have to change their language and follow the rest…how wrong I was…

The Plain English Campaign states that “by not understanding what the writer said makes us feel hoodwinked, inferior, definitely frustrated and angry, and it causes a divide between us and the writer.”

This is the part I don’t understand, because if I ever had a problem understanding I just said “excuse me I don’t understand what you mean, could you explain” and not once was I embarrassed to ask this, and not once did I feel inferior or angry. I have always known that you will need to adjust you language and vocabulary to the person you speak to and not the other way around.
People who do not adjust their language are the ones with the problem. If someone would continue to speak to me using words which I did not understand, I would simply start speaking to them in Swedish and this would embarrass them into taking notice.

So do we really need a pressure group making our language easier to understand? Or is this just another way of “dumbing” things down, will we in the future replace words such as “for” with “4” “See you later” with “C U L8R”…?

English people in general do not learn a second language because where ever they go in the world people speak English and people will speak in English to them. Something which I have noticed when I am abroad explaining to people I come from the UK. It is a different matter with the Swedish language, as “only” 9 million people speak the language and once you are bored with those 9 million who are you going to speak to?

But I also think that there is a lack of educating the students of today in English, companies are harping on about the lack of English ability among young people so educate the little blighters and ensure that whilst they are in the education system English is compulsory and set some standards, how hard is that?

Back to the plain speak lot…here are some examples of plain speaking from their website;

Before
High-quality learning environments are a necessary precondition for facilitation and enhancement of the ongoing learning process.
After
Children need good schools if they are to learn properly.

Before
If there are any points on which you require explanation or further particulars we shall be glad to furnish such additional details as may be required by telephone.
After
If you have any questions, please ring.

Before
It is important that you shall read the notes, advice and information detailed opposite then complete the form overleaf (all sections) prior to its immediate return to the Council by way of the envelope provided.
After
Please read the notes opposite before you fill in the form. Then send it back to us as soon as possible in the envelope provided.

Before
Your enquiry about the use of the entrance area at the library for the purpose of displaying posters and leaflets about Welfare and Supplementary Benefit rights, gives rise to the question of the provenance and authoritativeness of the material to be displayed. Posters and leaflets issued by the Central Office of Information, the Department of Health and Social Security and other authoritative bodies are usually displayed in libraries, but items of a disputatious or polemic kind, whilst not necessarily excluded, are considered individually.
After
Thank you for your letter asking permission to put up posters in the entrance area of the library. Before we can give you an answer we will need to see a copy of the posters to make sure they won't offend anyone.

So there we are…instead of using common sense we need a pressure group to tell us how to speak plainly, or shall we take note of the guy who was fed up with people who did not understand what “Private Car Park” means…bless…


(note: as I do not claim to have full control over the English language, please do not comment on my spelling or the use of wrong words…thank you)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Terrorism no longer a global problem?



Having returned two days ago from Sweden with Ryan Air I am astounded by the moronic “security” at the British Airports. Last week I arrived at Stansted airport prepared knowing before we flew about the various changes as we were kindly informed by Ryan Air via email. Here is what they said:
“Due to the ongoing UK government security restrictions, each passenger can carry ONE item of hand baggage up to 10kg and with maximum dimensions NOT exceeding 45cm (length), 35ch (width) and 16cm (depth). These dimensions include the wheels, handles, side pockets, etc.
N.B. These restricted hand baggage dimensions are smaller than our published hand baggage dimensions.
Passengers who arrive at UK airport with hand baggage exceeding the above maximum permitted dimensions will be required to check in the bag and pay a checked bag fee of £5.00 (per bag per flight) or if they are over the maximum 20kg baggage allowance per person, pay an excess baggage fee of £5.50 per kilo.
Passengers carrying hand baggage that is larger that the above dimensions will not be permitted to enter the security restricted area and will not be permitted to return to the check-in area. In order to ensure that you will be accepted for entry to the security restricted area, please ensure that you fully comply with the following:
Any cabin/hand baggage carried MUST NOT contain:
Any cosmetics
Any toiletries
Any liquids
Any drinks
Cigarette lighters
No gels, pastes, lotions, (e.g. toothpaste, hair gel, drinks, deodorant, shaving foam, aerosols, etc.)
Nothing must be carried in pockets.

Cabin baggage CAN contain the following:
Electronic equipment, including laptops, mobile phones and portable music and DVD players. Prescribed medicines in liquid/tablet form e.g. diabetic medicines. Baby milk and liquid baby food (the contents of each bottle MUST be tasted by the parent)
All electronic equipment will need to be removed from the item of hand baggage and screened separately.
Pushchairs and walking aids will be permitted but must be x-ray screened and searched”.

That is very clear so we packed accordingly, measured hand luggage, double checked that a tube of Colgate Extra Whitening Toothpaste or some of my Extra Hold Hair Gel had not accidentally sneaked into any of the bags. So there we were, ready to meet the check in staff, we had allowed for extra time for security checks so nothing was going to make us late or give us any hassle…

On arrival I was dumbstruck…now at this point you should know that I have checked in at some obscure airports in African countries, where passengers dismanteled their Smith and Weston and handed it in, former Easter European countries and I must say nothing had prepared me for the chaos which we faced. Firstly there were people everywhere standing like idiots, waiting to find out which check in desk they were going to use. Great here was the first flaw in my plan...I had allowed extra time, only to be told by Ryan Air stand there and wait for your designated check in desk to be displayed on the monitor…right…do you honestly think that I would stand and look at a monitor for 40 minutes…not in your life…so off to get some lunch…”it will be check in desk 81 it always is…has always been so why would they change it, I said”
Lunch consisted of some congealed pasta in a murky sauce, which you would not even use as pig swill, at a cost of £21.00 so I think Ponti’s should have a mention here, what a complete rip off…

Back at desk 81 a queue formed so we left most of the food, well it was uneatable anyway and staff smiled when we left…of course they did, they thought there goes another ripped of customer and we can serve the remains of their food to another sucker…

My system started to fall apart, the flight info at check in desk 81 did not say did not say Malmo, Sweden but Slobodobovich or something unpronounceable…Back to the monitors, find the desk and a 4 mile queue, which I cannot understand as a Boeing 737 – 800 only takes about 160 – 180 passengers depending on layout, so explain how that amount of passengers can form a 4 mile bloody queue…?

With the bags finally checked in and the new security questions "did you pack your toothpaste, do you have hair gel, could someone had the opportunity to put make-up in your hand luggage?" We passed with flying colours and were sent off to see a man about a measuring device, will you bag fit in this kind of thing, which of course they did as we had measured them before. But it was in this queue I started to loose the plot with my fellow passengers, a woman with a bag the size of truck insisted that it would fit and she hammered and kicked and pushed on the bag to no avail. Some gormless, cleaner with a new bib that said “I am here to help” stood there looking at her…and I thought this is the defence we have against terrorism…a gormless ex-cleaner who has been handed a new yellow bib that should have said “don’t ask me anything as I have no clue”.

In the scanning area we opened bags, took out laptops, off with shoes (tip for travellers, ensure that you have no holes in socks...) telephones you mention it went through the scanner.

So now inside the terminals secure area we were allowed to shop and browse around and what made me laugh was the fact that there were people sitting eating steaks with steak knives the size of carving knives, so airport security now thinks that terrorists will not steal the knives and attack the staff in the plane anymore? That is reassuring and even more ridiculous was the fact that my daughter told me that two shops were selling cigarette lighters, which was one of the prohibited items…

You will be pleased to know that the flight went with us and without incidents, apart from a bunch of Swedes looking for their seatnumbers on the flight...bless... they are so organised in sweden that it would be unheard of to have a sit were you want system...So after a couple of days in Southern Sweden it was time for the return journey and here is were things start to get really silly. There was no queue, of course Sweden is organised...We followed the rules to letter with the handbags and so on…no lipstick in my bag mate, I can assure you, so imagine my surprise when at Malmo airport checking in ahead of us was a family not of English or Swedish origin nor did they look like terrorists but they had 12 bags, mostly those colourful bags you can by at markets, held together with parcel tape. I thought, these people are not going on holiday to the UK, they are moving there…

The Swedes happily accepted all luggage and they carried their hand luggage onboard, which included a satellite dish...yes a massive satellite dish.., a receiver, and 10 other unknown boxes and bags…the sight was incredible, so here we are flying back into the UK, with half of GCHQ’s tracking devises and unknown quantity of hand luggage…perhaps the British Airport Authority are only concerned about outgoing flights, because terrorist would not go to Sweden first then fly into the UK take over a plane, using the steak knives they knicked at the airport restaurant, or blow it up as it arrives with their bogus satellite dish…or would they? Finally...on arrival in the UK we spotted one police officer at the airport...one...not what I would call an increased security state...but hey...then there were no incidents, so who cares...?