Friday, October 08, 2004

Quaint Customs…....

The Alfie crew are thinking of invading France in December. The alignment of Christmas, New Year and a big, big wedding means that severe strain is going to be put on the stitching of Gordon Brown’s pockets (with all the extra metal he’ll be collecting) – unless I can find an alternative source.

We are the most ripped off Country in the E.U. – And especially in the hazy world of alcohol. In France, the duty on a typical bottle of wine is one and half pence. In this Country it’s £1.55 – around 100 times more.

So, a day trip to a Calais hyper-market seems to be the order of the day – and thereby take advantage of the much trumpeted free market economy that stretches from Western Ireland to the Polish/Russian border.

There’s just one, slight problem. It’s the ‘declaration boys’..

The peaked capped, rubber gloved, KY jelly-toting Uber-Nazis residing in little huts at Dover. HM Customs are on a mission.

On a mission to stop the ‘smuggling’ of fags and booze into Blighty – and everyone is suspected. Just the other day, they nicked an 82 year old man, confiscated his car and poured the booze down the grid.

You can just imagine the conversation between the two.

Old geezer "What’s the problem, officer?"

Nazi "I don’t believe these 6 bottles of Ruby Wine are for your own use Sir – you’ll be dead before you can drink them all. So I have no alternative but to conclude that you are a dangerous booze-crooze smuggla. So spread 'em, matey boy - you're nicked "

When we were little, we used to play a game called ‘Smugglers’. Basically, one of you had the ‘contraband’ hidden about your person – the idea was you and your mates had to saunter past another group of kids who were trying, by skills of deduction (and bullying) to find ‘the guilty one’… It was here, on the fields of burnt out cars and cast aside mattresses that I honed my ‘little boy lost as Michael Owen’ look.

I’m as innocent as the driven snow, obviously. But for my inaugural Booze Cruise sortie, I’ll need some essential tools of the trade.

White Van with dodgy back tyre - check
Lilac shell suit with gathered, elasticated cuffs - check
Bling-Bling bog-chain goldish necklace - check
Staffordshire Bull Terrier called ‘Tyson’ - check
Sovereign Gold Rings – assorted - check

Right, that’s it – I’m good and ready to welcome the world of innocence, free trade ….. and meeting several thousand bottles of Asti Spumanti…..

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Question: Just how do you get ‘prostate’ and ‘prostrate’ to make sense in the same sentence?

Hmmmm, a bit of a tough one that. But after watching John Pilger’s hour long report last night on ITV, I reckon I can concoct a sentence with the two words in and make sense of it.

I haven’t really felt very proud of being British lately. The na├»ve values I was raised on – and passed down to my kids, seem less and less relevant in a world of connivance, double dealings, double crossings and double entendres.

Last nights show however, plumbed the depths - I was absolutely ashamed of being British. Pilger is, I know traditionally anti British in his reportage, but as last nights programme unfolded, I sat, dumbfounded as successive HM Governments connived to keep the loyal British Subjects of The Chagos Archipelago in the slums they have been condemned to.

Up to last night, I’d never heard of ‘The Chagos Archipelago’ – a beautiful, British owned pearl string of tropical islands, cloaked in the azure blue Indian Ocean. I had, however heard of its principle island, Diego Garcia. I knew it was now a static U.S. aircraft carrier, handy for kicking ‘aayrab ass in the mid east’ via B-52s, the carpet-bombing weapon of choice. I also remember watching a black and white newsreel in the ‘60’s. That old Government mouthpiece and part time gong holder in the original ‘Take Your Pick’ – Bob Danvers Walker was waxing lyrical.

The reel showed lots of smiling people boarding boats for "a new life in the island paradise of Mauritius". Cue wobbly patriotic music, fade out to the Union Flag fluttering away……. By God, it’s great to be British, people round the world really do love us, don’t they?

So I knew these people had been displaced, evicted from the Archipelago. But in my naivety, I thought they had willingly gone for the greater good – and been properly recompensed. That was then – and over the years, it dawned on me that they had basically been kicked out – and that it was a real injustice.

Just how much of an injustice was made plain last night. The good people of The Chagos Archipelago are residing in slumsville – in downtown Mauritius (well, at least those that are still alive are). They’ve been there for 40 years in squalor, in sewerage, in perpetuity if HM Government has anything to do with it.

In the year 2000, in the high court, the Islanders finally got a verdict that Harold Wilson’s Government – and all subsequent Governments have acted illegally in keeping them off their own property. The Islanders and their lawyers expected the then Foreign Secretary Robin Cooke and his much trumpeted ‘Ethical Foreign Policy’ to kick in – and kick out the U.S. Navy and Airforce, the KFC franchise and all the other accoutrements of Uncle Sam’s war machine. The Islanders started to pack their bags, they were going home!

Well no, not really. Not at all – ever. Because the USA are our mates. Because the USA are a staunch ally in the fight against whatever they tell us. Because they’ve signed a bit of paper called a ‘lease’ for the islands, Robin and his ethics decided the islanders could not go back. The reason they are now being refused access is because the islands are just too dangerous, Global warming is making the sea rise, there is lots and lots of sand on the beaches – and it could get in their sandwiches. The Islands also have loads of coconut trees, full to the brim with deadly coconuts – mix that with gravity, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Far better, concluded our ethical Government to let the Yanks (all 5,000 of them) live a life of Riley on a piece of coral they call ‘Paradise Island’.

Far better, concluded our ethical Government to let the displaced Islanders rot in the corrugated shacks in the backside of Mauritius…..

Back to the challenge of the sentence that started this post….
"I reckon, that when the United States of America come calling, we immediately fall prostrate to the ground and try to brown nose so much, we often get way beyond the prostate".