Sunday, April 08, 2007

Geek Quest for the Google Coloured Whelk

It appears that our coloured whelk Google bomb just might be starting to tick!

This is Kerry’s search result. Sadly my results don’t match this.

Friends! Yeomen! And errrm…. Whelk fanatics, lend me your ears!

I don’t want your ears really. Although I guess they would look on a nice mahogany mount hung over the fireplace in the billiard room. What I want is for you to make a blog entry for me as part of our Google Bomb experiment.

Simply copy and paste the part of this entry describing the different coloured whelks into your own (I’ve put a guide into the text), give it a heading, choose a photo if the whim takes you – just as long as you leave the list of the coloured whelks as is. This will help ensure that everyone’s coloured whelk makes it into Google without being eaten. You don’t even need to worry about the links because they will be maintained if you use the standard compose blog entry screen they will be copied over as well!

Thank you and HAPPY EASTER!


I am Magnolia Whelk.
Liss has decided that she is Magenta Whelk.
Lookwhatthecatdragged in is Periwinkle Whelk.
Mousepotato is Shocking Pink Whelk.
Blogiversarry girl, Kerry is Asparagus Green Whelk.
Sean is Burnt Umber Whelk.
Lee is Crimson Whelk.
Stu is Caspian Blue Whelk.
BJ is Vivacious Violet Whelk.
Eskimo is Ember Whelk.
Ali R is Turquoise Whelk.
Gypsy is Sage Green Whelk.
Chloe is Ocean Whelk.
Fuzzy Slippers is Aubergine Whelk.
Karma Chimera is Puce Whelk. More Power to Your Whelks!

===TO HERE===


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Magnolia Whelks and Miserable Failures

There is something rather unnerving about a closed whelk stall.

Getting yourself noticed.

My bipedal yeomen, the rather horrible truth is that I am stuck for a topic today. After following a set of instructions to make coloured egg bread, I appear to have decimated the kitchen and traumatised the cat. I almost wavered and gave you the link to enable you to have your own attempt, but there is enough suffering in the world already. Besides, I think that you have to be some kind of contortionist to make the stuff properly.

Yet again, I digress. In my search for a topic, I went to the BBC News website and started a leisurely surf. I wasn’t to be disappointed. I came across an article discussing “Google Bombs”. Now excuse me for the moment if I don’t give you any links, but I have my reasons. (Note 1)

Now hands up any curious yeomen who have entered their own names into Google to see what pops up? Quite a few of you, I would imagine. This could be because my imagination is impaired this morning and I am jumping to this conclusion based on the fact that I quite regularly indulge. Sadly, when I enter my name, the Senior Lecturer in organic chemistry at the University of Kent tops the list.

It could be a trick of the synapses, but I think I have known about the manipulation of search engines for some time. In the ‘olden days’ of the internet you could raise your site up the listings by repeating keywords on your page. I also knew that nowadays the search engines are more sophisticated and fooling them required more art.

I also knew that up until recently, if you entered “miserable failure” into Google and hit the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button it would take you here.

I just didn’t connect the two until I read this article on Google Bombs.

One of the very first missions for the Google Bomb Disposal squad.

Once the connection was made though, I’m afraid my mischievous streak kicked in. (Note 2)

If it really is that simple to fool the search engines, why don’t we give it a try?

I have a cunning plan - a geeky quest if you will.

We all choose a colour – I’ve chosen magnolia because it goes with my slippers. Then we all add the word ‘whelk’ to that colour. Then we simply add a link to each other’s homepage under that title. So, a link to my page would be labelled Magnolia Whelk.

Before you know it we should be enter our coloured whelks into Google and see our names high up the search results! By that I mean entering ‘magnolia whelk’ into Google will see my 360 page in the results – who knows, maybe even top of the results!

So, leave a comment under this entry stating your chosen colour and I will add the links – just remember to return the favour and link to my 360 page with the label Magnolia Whelk.

Would you look at that, the colour nominations are coming in already!

Liss has decided that she is Magenta Whelk.
Lookwhatthecatdragged in is Periwinkle Whelk.
Mousepotato is Shocking Pink Whelk.
Blogiversarry girl, Kerry is Asparagus Green Whelk.
Sean is Burnt Umber Whelk.
Lee is Crimson Whelk.
Stu is Caspian Blue Whelk.
BJ is Vivacious Violet Whelk.
Eskimo is Ember Whelk.
Ali R is Turquoise Whelk.
Gypsy is Sage Green Whelk.
Chloe is Ocean Whelk.
Fuzzy Slippers is Aubergine Whelk.
Karma Chimera is Puce Whelk.
OK, that’s it – the list is closed for now!

Now I better be off and have a dried frog pill. I have this horrible feeling that this post made no sense at all.

From 14th June 2006, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: Well, as I just wandered off to go do some little chore, I thought about this and decided that there isn’t any good reason why I don’t share with you a link to explain Google Bomb. There you go then, that was a link. Looking back at the text, I have totally forgotten what I was going to write. My brain is away on a different planet this morning. Perhaps I should wander off and dribble aimlessly in a cornerClick to return

NOTE 2: It is probably a shock for you to learn that I have a mischievous streak. Thankfully, I keep it very well hidden and hardly ever act upon it. If I did you would find me visiting your pages leaving strange or cryptic notes. On really bad days, when the haemorrhoids goblin is out and about tweaking the low hanging fruit, I have been known to deliberately grab at the wrong end of sticks or flirt outrageously. Click to return

A slightly bigger end image today to show you all a potato waffle recipe. Yes it is a disappointment when tasted too.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Free Range Potatoes

In France, they use pigs to hunt down the free range potato nests.

He’s not going to do another pig link is he?

I’m not sure how you arrived at Yahoo 360, but I came via a strange detour from Yahoo Answers. Yes, my alluring yeomen, I have entered and survived the captivating and frustrating maelstrom that is the Answers Portal.

While it seems that the vast majority of the questions are puerile or bigoted or downright strange, I still find myself returning there on occasion, hoping to find the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything or perhaps to find a question or two that I may answer to give enlightenment to some aspiring grasshopper

For obvious reasons, I have kept this rather idealistic and illogical craving quiet, preferring not to burden you all with my condition. I suppose I should really seek treatment, but sometimes, very occasionally, my twilight forays pay off and some little gem materialises or I find myself producing something a little different.

Such a thing happened this week, when I found myself presented with the opportunity to answer the question ”Where in the UK can we get Free Range Potatoes?”. My fingers twitched, synapses sparked, the small little cogs shuddered and before I knew what had happened, I had provided enlightenment. I share that enlightenment with you all today (with a few modifications).

Henry Charles Warbarton still farms potatoes in the traditional manner near Cromer in Norfolk. Manor farm covers around 240 acres of the North Norfolk countryside. Its unique position on the coast and the rich fertile ground, means he is able to raise a number of varieties. Never having used pesticides or herbicides on the land means that there are an abundance of wild pasta plants on which the potato thrive. Access to the sea means he can breed a number of the amphibious strains that can trace their ancestry back to their epic voyage clinging to the hull of Sir Francis Drake's flagship. (Note 1)

Such is the demand for his crops, Henry no longer conducts his own harvests. He finds there are always enough true food enthusiasts willing to come catch their own.

 Henry Charles Warbarton – a hero to foodies everywhere.

On special holidays, the more vigorous amongst you might wish to join the North Norfolk Legume Hunt (Note 2)and capture your potato on horseback using the traditional potato waffle - a net that inspired the design of the modern potato waffle.

In the height of summer there are also trips that enable you to catch the amphibious varieties off the coast. You will find all the equipment will be provided including lines baited with the finest cheddar cheese and butter.

Whatever your choices, it is a fun filled day out. Just remember that children should not be encouraged to hunt potatoes, as they can be dangerous when cornered.

From 14th June 2006, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: There is a lot of debate about just how the amphibious potato reached Britain. Although the majority of British children are raised on tales of the how the hardy potatoes clung to the barnacled hull of the Golden Hind as it circumnavigated the globe, the Spanish claim otherwise. They claim that Drake and attacked a galleon in the Bay of Biscay and looted the precious cargo. Whatever the truth of the matter, we got the potato and they were left with tortilla chips nesting in their bunks. Click to return

NOTE 2: The North Norfolk Legume Hunt holds the honour of being the only hunt exempted from the UK Haunting with dogs act. This is largely due to the arguments that range over the classification of the potato and the problems caused by feral potatoes.

Thankfully this has preserved this traditional practice which has been a rousing sight ever since the potato was introduced into the British countryside.

Farmers had to find ways to keep the numbers of feral potatoes down to stop them worrying the chickens and destroying local pasta crops. Without hunting, the farmers would be forced to hunt them down with mallets and mashers - a process that causes far more suffering to the wild spuds. Click to return

My cute little mascot has a neat trick, he can turn himself into a vampire potato. Not many people know that.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Privileged Poor and Horsehair Pancakes

Sir Peter Ustinov. 1921 – 2004. British-born actor, writer, dramatist, wit and raconteur.

A member of the privileged poor?

My animated yeomen, I need to select a particularly woody word for my state of mind today. You see, I am in a quandary. You may remember, I did a short entry about the origins of April Fools Day and it seems it failed to match my usual high standards. It seems that Sean not only knew of the origins, but was able to follow my synaptic tangents.

As all of teachers never tired of telling me (well those that were not carted of to the technicians area in tears) – I must try harder. So I set you the following conundrum. Why have I described Sir Peter Ustinov as a member of the privileged poor and what is the connection to today (5th April 2007)?

There is a huge temptation to pause here and hand the stick of chalk over to Sean and repeat another favoured phrase of my teachers, but I won’t. (Note 1)

Today is the last Thursday before Easter, the day of the Last Supper. While we all remember the breaking of the bread and the taking of the wine that are now symbolically taken as part of Christian Communion Rite, another symbolic gesture was widely followed in the early church – that of washing the feet of the guests. (Note 2)

So it is on the Thursday before Easter, some churches run a “Mandatum" ceremony where the clergy wash the feet of twelve specially selected members of the congregation (I’m not sure I would want to be in charge of the selection process though).

In the past one of the downsides of Kingship in Britain was that you had to get involved in the feet washing thing at the local cathederal. This was part of Maundy Thursday ceremonies. This all died out in 1736 and the monarchs instead handed out alms to specially selected poor people (although again probably selected on their ability to smell like fresh paint and ability to look reasonably presentable). The monarch would hand out a donation equivalent to the monarch’s age in pence. As Queen Elizabeth (God Bless you ma’am) was 80 last year, she handed out 80p to the selected poor people.

Maundy Money comes in red and white purses. It is specially minted in sterling silver – but is legal tender.

For rather obvious reason this is known as Maundy Money.

All well and good I hear you yell, but what has this got to do with Sir Peter Ustinov?

Well, up until the 1970s, it was customary for Maundy Money to also be given to the youngest students in Westminster School - an independent school with fees around £16 800 per year. Sean has probably already guessed it, but Sir Peter Ustinov was a pupil at Westminster School – although I cannot say if he received Maundy Money.

So, there you have it. Maundy Money going to the poor. I feel within my rights of describing the students of Westminster as privileged. So Westminster students (including Sir Peter Ustinov maybe) who receive the Maundy Money must be the privileged poor.

All that remains is to explain the horsehair pancake. This is a tradition at Westminster School and is no way indicative of the standard of school dinners there. On Shrove Tuesday, a pancake reinforced with horsehair is tossed over a bar and students fight over it. The student gaining the greatest weight is given loan of a gold sovereign. You really can’t make this stuff up you know, I found this wonderful fact courtesy Wikipedia).

Oh, Sean? If I bored you, I’m sorry.

From 14th June 2006, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: You may have gathered that for the most part, I had a rather uneasy relationship with my teachers at school. There was a certain tension in the air between us. They had this idea that I should accept what they say as absolute truth, while I believed that it was my duty to talk about anything but the matter in hand. My old geography teacher used to tried to counter this by handing me the chalk and saying “If you know so much, Holder, why don’t you teach the class?” Only he backed out when I rushed to the front with a look of glee on my face. Looking back on it, I think the teachers had the last laugh. Had I tried that little bit harder in school, I might now be feted as a “British-born actor, writer, dramatist, wit and raconteur” rather than a smart-arse. Click to return

NOTE 2: Personally this would kill any appetite I had for dinner. If I was honest, if I was invited anywhere it would kill the appetite of all my fellow guests as well as soon as I took my shoes off. Click to return

My cute little mascot is having a rest. Instead here is one for all you Easter Egg hunters from the UK.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Accountants Forcing Vacation Memories

A Margherita Map and history poster snapped during a visit to small museum on the Venezuelan island.

And the picture storm continues.

It seems, my venerated yeomen, that certain events cause you to look back wistfully to your last holiday. Today, I have been dealing with accountants. So perhaps it is no surprise that I find myself shouting “Infamy! Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!” (Note 1) You may, especially if you are an accountant, believe this is fanciful paranoia on my part – but it doesn’t make it any the less true.

The stirrings of the memories reminded me that I have not bored you with photographs from my cruise in the Caribbean for some time. So, if you need reminding where we got to, go have a look here. So, if you are sitting comfortably and having difficulty sleeping – I’ll begin.

For those hardcore insomniacs amongst you, you may wish to find alternatives to ’What I did on my holidays.’ (Note 2), but undaunted, I shall plough on.

 Approaching Margherita. Those two small hills are named after a heroine of the independence movement. Well after her breasts anyway.  As we were docking in Margherita this little boat went bobbing by towing other small boats. I know not why.

It isn’t much of a surprise for to learn that day five dawned with us approaching the Venezuelan island of Margherita. The feel of the island was so different from the Caribbean islands we had experienced up until then. There was more evidence of high rise buildings and there was a more industrious look to people on the dock. Though, as you can see from the shots taken on the approach, it wasn’t the most scenic of the islands. (Note 3)

I’d been quite looking forward to the visit to Margherita. After all, Venezuela tends to get a bit of a bad press from the Americans and I was hoping to get an idea as to what is really going on there. To be honest, there really wasn’t much chance to speak to the locals – and even less to talk politics. In the end we went on a ‘Natural Wonders’ tour of the island. In common to a lot of the islands visited, the major tourist attractions tend to be based around the natural environment.

 In the botanical gardens we came across this strange tree. There are three different coloured flowers on the same branch. In the botanical gardens they also had tortoises. Watch them go. You can sex tortoises by their shells. The base of a male tortoises's shell is concave.

The botanical gardens were interesting enough, but a little on the small side. The attitude towards the wildlife seemed a little cynical to our British eyes, but there are times when I think we tend to think more of our animals than we do for our fellow human beings. Not that I want to debate that just now.

The parrots were manhandled into posing with the tourists. It all seemed a little harsh and a touch cruel.

We got to taste a few tropical fruits and sugar cane syrup, all very pleasant – but the earth didn’t move.

We then got taken to a small shopping complex and given the change to exchange our dollars for firewater. I ended up with abottle of orange flavoured rum and a bottle of coffee flavoured rum – at $12 a bottle not too bad. However, for those of you with a shopping bent, Margheriata had the cheapest seed pearl jewellery we experienced – if you were prepared to haggle. For a socialist state, Venezuela has embraced some elements of capitalism with glee.

Heading out into the mangrove swamp by small boat. It was all rather quaint and unsophisticated. Fish eagle / Osprey pictured in the Margherita mangrove swamp.

The mangrove swamp tour was all rather sedate and somehow old fashioned. The facilities were basic as were the little boats that took us out into the swamp (which is really more like a big lake with clumps of submerged trees). The tour took us along a route that the locals had given a number of cute names like ‘lovers’ canal’ or ‘the virgins arch’ or some such. What surprised me was the distinct lack of any insects. I thought swamps were supposed to be crawling with them.

It was election time in Venezuela. everywhere we went on Margherita we saw election posters for Chavez. I asked the guide if there were any other candidates, he didn't give me a straight answer.  As if to demonstrate the lack of rainfall, here is a picture of the scrubland on Margherita.

It was election time while we were there. The whole place was decked out in Chavez posters. (Note 4) What struck me most was how arid the island seemed after the previous places we visited. Despite the obvious lack of water, they were still building tower blocks and roads wherever we went.

Margherita laid on a small group of flag wavers to bid us farewell. I thought it was a nice touch.

So here endeth Day Five of what I did on my holidays. TO BE CONTINUED… (eventually).

From 14th June, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: This being a quotation uttered by Kenneth Williams in the film Carry On Cleo. This brilliant one liner has just been voted as the best film one liner in a TV poll. Click to return

NOTE 2 : I have no doubt that some of you went and actually clicked on that rather strange link. It does make me wonder how long you explored that site. Yet when I was looking for that link, I came across a very disturbing old news item. Perhaps I should have just gone for an old favourite to wile away a few hours online and pointed you here. Click to return

NOTE 3: I don’t think I mentioned that the show the previous evening starred a scouse comic by the name of John Evans. It was a good show and funny (no doubt helped by the consumption of a few alcoholic bevereges). He could never claim to have a lot of modern material, but it was a good laugh. If only I could remember jokes, I’m sure I could have a damp patch on your chair. Click to return

NOTE 4: I did ask the guide if there were any other people standing in the election, but didn’t really get a straight answer. When I pushed the subject he said that everyone will vote for Chavez because he has stood up to the American oil companies. It didn’t seem to be a particularly comfortable topic for our guide – who was more interested in making sure that we came back again to spend more American dollars. Click to return

I used this picture on my last set of holiday photos. Given the ‘Infamy’ quote, I think it apt I should keep it.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

And the Cat Still Won't Go Into the Shed

The mystery branding of a couple of pieces of wood? What on earth is the connection here?

Corporate Branding taken to new lows?

Dear yeomen, as we hurtle down the carpool lane of life, we find ourselves at the signpost marking the start of a new month. As I stood at the window yesterday morning, sipping on a cup of the strong brown coffee that kick starts my day, I was able to watch as a tradition unfolded before me. I watched a couple of little boys gleefully running down the road being chased by their irate father, dressing gown gaping and waving a random kitchen utensil.

It is good to see tradition being maintained. For children of all ages, April 1st is a day when withheld allowances are the very least of our thoughts while we indulge in a few pranks for All Fools Day.

It does seem to be a very strange thing that on one particular day of the year, people are actually encouraged to lie and cheat. Plus, why on earth have I opened my entry with a picture of a piece of wood? Ah yes, as my longer serving yeomen have probably have already deduced, I’m off on synaptic tangents again.

On the 1st April, 1752, I wonder if George II had the general populace first celebrating and then roaring with laughter by declaring a public holiday and feasting between September 3rd to September 13th? (Note 1)

Sadly, I can find no record of such a royal April Fool jape. If history is to be believed, then it wouldn’t have been George II that would have been involved, but his Prime Minister, Henry Pelham, who also instigated a minimum age for getting married. All of this is very interesting, but doesn’t really help us with the synaptic tangents.

However, fiddling about with calendars has more to do with April Fools tradition than you may expect.

Back in 16th Century France, the start of the year was a thing for local interpretation. Some places chose to start the year at Easter, others at Christmas. Charles IX, the boy king, decided that it would be a good idea to have a standard start of the year on January 1st and issued the Edict of Roussilon which did just that (along with some rather boring bits concerning justice).

The world famous Spaghetti Plant – a must for every allotment and garden since 1967.

The French had the tradition of sending people New Year gifts. So when the date of the New Year changed, the date that presents got sent changed to. Of course, some of the French people didn’t particularly like the idea of change (and let’s face it change can be rather uncomfortable), So, to show their displeasure, they took to sending joke gifts and ‘paying calls of pretended ceremony’ (a bit like a joke first footing). (Note 2)

So there you have it a rambling explanation of why we play jokes on April 1st – or at least a rambling explanation of why I think we play jokes on April 1st.

Oh yes, the picture. Well, the great tradition of the prankster is slapstick humour -As the link above confirms so well. The opening picture is of a slapstick – the musical instrument from where this… errr… art form takes its name.

From 14th June 2006, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: Because in 1752 the British Empire (of which Merkins were still part) finally decided to catch up with the rest of Europe and switch from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar. In a rather pragmatic and wonderful switch over methodology they decided that there would be no September 3rd to September 10th that year. Thus denying the bulk of Virgos a birthday bash that year. Click to return

NOTE 2: In France you are not an ’April Fool’ but a ‘Poisson d’Avril’. I just through that I would throw that in. Just like I’ll lob in that Charles IX came to the throne aged 10, was in power for the massacre of Protestants on St. Bartholomew’s Day and is said to have died mad at the age of 24 Click to return

My cute little mascot would like to make it known that he would be an ideal first guest on New Years Day.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Whatever Happened to Thingamee?

Right now, I could really hammer a full English Fry-up!

What the weekend is all about.

Well, my slightly-yielding yeomen, There I was looking for a very particular picture to open up my blog when I came across that one. My mouth watered and I have to admit that I dribbled a little bit. Such was the way that my expression glazed over and I drooled into my keyboard, I thought that I was turning into Homer Simpson.

When I saw the URL of the link, I went an explored and I must admit that I got sidetracked. Here I am nearly an hour later, absolutely ravenous after exploring the site and recommending all of my sturdy yeomen who enjoy the odd bite to eat to visit the Food Pornographer. Don’t you just love the ring of that name?

Well, I have wandered off from my chosen path again. (Note 1) What I meant to do was open up with a nice punchy bit of prose to offer a kind of catch up to all the various bits and pieces that have appeared in my blog recently. If this were a TV show, this would be described as another chance to see – or more realistically a repeat.

For those of you who had a particularly heavy night and have yet to fully clear the fog clinging to your synapses’, I should warn you that I am going to be talking about Vulture Funds again – but if you are good, I might talk about other stuff as well. If I do forget though, I better say sorry in advance.

One of the most amazing things about my little foray into campaigning has been how little things happen that make nonsense of my cynicism. One major factor has been the reaction of so many of my 360 friends who have carried the story of Vulture Funds in their own blogs. There really are too many to mention individually, but one stood out both in terms of the research and the writing; that was Fabienne. Of course, I was going to post a link there, but somehow I managed to have misplaced it. (Note 2) Thankfully, I got some help and that got me to Fabienne’s wrap up on the subject.

You may also remember that I have been urging you all to sign petitions to register you displeasure at the way companies can use the law and put personal profit over matters of life and death in the developing world.

Then, you are a British resident (citizenship is not required), you can add your name to the petitions on the Number 10 website. Such is the delight of technology, there has ended up with more than one petition and you can find them here and here.

IMPORTANT : The number 10 website sends you an email to confirm your email address. Some junk mail filters treat this email as spam. If you don’t get a confirmation email with a link to confirm your signature – please check in your junk mail folder!

Anyone can sign the petition on has set up a petition on ipetitions.

At the time of writing, one of the petitions on the number 10 website had reached 115 signatures – enough to get a response from the government (eventually), while the ipetitions had reached 103.

A picture of a protestor taken during the G8 summit in Edinburgh. I wonder how many other countries would have allowed such fancy dress?

Like others, I wrote to my (UK) elected representatives using the Write to Them website. (Note 3)

Unlike Ian, I haven’t yet had a response from my MP. I kope that my MP, Phil Hope, will join with Helen Southworth in supporting an Early Day Motion on the topic. Although as Phil Hope is currently undergoing treatment for Hodgkins Disease, I would think he has other things on his mind.

Hopefully, Phil Hope will make a full and speedy recovery and be pickling up the cudgel against Vulture Funds soon.

Where reality and fiction meet in the night, exchange hasty fumbles and a perception is born.

The exchanges I had with my MEPs didn’t start off all that well. Although it must be said that since that blog, I have exchanged a number of emails with Roger Helmer and these could constitute a dialogue or even a debate. I wouldn’t say that we have reached a meeting of minds, but he’s come out top in terms of engaging with his constituent.

My other MEPs have been a bit like the Curate’s egg.

It came as no surprise to learn that Derek Clark liked to go on holiday with his caravan.

Bill Newton Dunn Liberal Democrat), took the line that it was somebody else’s problem and didn’t respond to any follow up emails. Derek Clark (UKIP), took the view that this was all the fault of the EU. (Note 4)

A minor surprise came in the form of Robert Kilroy-Silk. Given his rather chequered career and recent falling out with UKIP, I hadn’t expected as much as a reply, but he has raised a written question in the European Parliament.

As yet, neither Chris Heaton-Harris (Conservative Party) and Glenis Willmott (Labour Party) have yet to reply.

Some of my oak-hearted yeomen might be sat there scratching their heads at this point. At first glance, this doesn’t look like a rip-roaring success. The thing is that we are talking politics hear. Getting anything at all done is a bit like mating elephants. You need to create a lot of noise and kerfuffle then, if you are really lucky, many, many months later you will see results! So, I’m sticking with this and I shall keep plugging away and eventually something will be done! The fact that politicians know about the problem is a start!

From 14th June, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: I’m easily sidetracked by food. This time I found that I was totally unable to think about what I had intended to write until I had plied my growling stomach with something to keep the noise down. Even then, I began to wonder if I should have a little bowl of something next to the keyboard – just in case. Click to return

NOTE 2 : I’m sorry, I’ve had a cold. Click to return

NOTE 3: For any Merkins who wish to write to their elected representatives, you can write to your Senators and Representatives by following the links. If anyone still has outstanding urges to write, you can do no worse than write to different news organisations asking why thay aren’t giving the story more of a profile. Click to return

NOTE 4: Sadly, I’m forced to write Derek Clark off as a totally lost cause. Not only is he a retired Science Teacher, but he actually boasts that he goes on holiday around Western Europe by caravan. I should point out that I swing to the liberal view on caravan. I believe they should be banned from the roads in hours of daylight and that owners should pay exorbitant taxes on these hutches on wheels. Sadly, this hasn’t come about. Instead, when driving with the family, we do tend to boo and hiss any caravan we see on the road during daylight. Click to return

On one of the satellite channels I caught a re-run of ‘Yes Minister’. Sadly as true today as it was when it was first broadcast.

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