Showing posts from January, 2020

Promise to "Get Brexit Done" delivered

Britain has now left the European Union, with a deal, at 11pm this evening (Friday 31st January 2020) We are no longer bound by the EU trade regulations which prevented us striking formal trade deals with non EU members and are therefore now able to negotiate trade deals with other countries. The election promise to "Get Brexit Done" has been kept. The decision taken by the electorate in June 2016 has finally been carried out. There will be an eleven month transition period, finishing by the end of this year, during which Britain will continue to trade with the 27 member states of the EU on the same terms as when we were a member, while a new trade deal is negotiated. Today marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in the history of British relations with the EU and the other nations of Europe. There have been plenty of warm words on all sides about the wish for that new chapter to be marked by continuing friendship and co-operation. I hope those

A Brexit day competition

I'm a little disappointed with Spiked. They rightly point out that "Brexit Derangement Syndrome" has driven a lot of people do to do or say exceptionally very silly things. They've published an extremely amusing article which points out ten of them - but only from Remainers. When we all know that some of the other side are just as bonkers as the cases (correctly) lampooned in " The Ten maddest Remainer moments ." So here is a challenge to Remainers - and anyone else. Who can produce the funniest corresponding list of "Ten maddest Brexiteer" moments" to balance it? But here is the catch: they all have to be genuinely funny and loopy, not just an attack on something that you happen to disagree with or which annoys you even if I think you are right. So for example, citing the slogan on the side of that red bus , though I agree with you that it was misleading and said so at the time, will not be accepted. To start the ball rolling,

Brexit day

Well, the day which some have longed for and others have dreaded is finally here: today is Brexit day. At 11pm this evening Britain ceases to be a member state of the European union. To those who are delighted: enjoy the celebrations. There will be others, both in this country and the 27 countries who after today will not be "the rest of the EU" but "the EU," who deeply regret what is happening today. Let's not rub their noses in it. They remain our friends and neighbours and those 27 countries remain our allies. A third group, who may well be the majority, do not sit easily in either category. They include those who did not vote or never felt strongly about it, and those like myself who voted Remain but considered democracy more important than EU membership and that the decision of the people through the ballot box must be respected. There are also those, whichever way they voted in 2016,  who are heartily sick of all the arguments and political paralysis

Thought for the day 31st January 2020


Quote of the day 31st January 2020 - Brexit day

“The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning.  “This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act. It is a moment of real national renewal and change.” (Prime minister Boris Johnson - from the speech he will give this evening to mark Britain's departure from the EU.)

Six things which change in 24 hours time, and six things which won't

When Britain leaves the EU in 24 hours from the time of this post, here are six things which will change. 1) Britain will regain the power to negotiate trade deals 2) The "Department for exiting the EU" will close down 3) Britain will have no more MEPs 4) Britain will no longer take part in EU summits 5) New UK passports will go back to being blue and gold. (Burgundy coloured passports previously issued will still be valid until their expiry date.) 6) 3 million commemorative Brexit 50p coins will enter circulation. Here are six things which will not change yet - although in some cases changes may take place at the conclusion of the transition period at the end of this year, depending on what is negotiated in the trade agreement. At that time Britain will also will stop making our current contributions to the EU budget. 1) Flights, boats and trains will operate as usual. In terms of passport control, during the transition period, UK nationals will still b

Ethan Jones RIP

The Royal Marine who died following a training incident has been named as Ethan Jones. He was part of a group practising an assault from a landing craft on Tregantle beach, Cornwall, when he went under the water on 21 January. The 20-year-old was taken to hospital where he died on Friday. The Royal Navy is investigating the incident. His family said: "Ethan died fulfilling his dream and doing something he loved." They continued: "Joining the Royal Marines was something Ethan had wanted to do for as long as we can remember. He wanted to join the best of the best and challenge himself. "Ethan loved the outdoor lifestyle and was looking forward to serving as a Marine on operations around the world. We are very proud of all that he achieved." His death is a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who serve their country. Even in peacetime that service can cost their lives. We should never forget. Rest in Peace.

Quote of the day 30th January 2020


Midweek music spot: Home Free sing "Auld Lang Syne"

After voting to ratify Britain's departure from the EU on Friday, MEP's sang "Auld Lang Syne." Here is a Home Free performance of that song.

European Parliament approves Brexit deal

The last remaining obstacle to Britain leaving the EU with a deal on Friday was cleared today as the European parliament voted by 621 votes to 49 following an emotional debate in Brussels. After the vote, MEPs marked the UK's exit by singing Auld Lang Syne. The Parliament's Brexit spokesman, Guy Verhofstadt, said it was "sad to see a country leaving that has twice given its blood to liberate Europe."  He added that British MEPs had brought "wit, charm, and intelligence" as well as "stubbornness", and would be missed. The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said ratification of the withdrawal deal was "only a first step" towards a new partnership between the EU and the UK. The two should "join forces" in areas such as climate change, she said, and seek a close partnership following the UK's exit on Friday. "We will always love you and we will not be far," she told the UK.

Quote of the day 29th January 2020


Nicholas Parsons RIP

There are some people in every field of life whose longevity is such that it seems that they might go on forever. But in this universe, nothing does. One broadcasting legend who appeared to have been around since time immemorial died in the early hours of this morning at the age of 96, after hosting the show "Just a minute" for more than fifty years and well into his nineties, presenting his last programme as recently as 23rd September last year. The final whistle has blown for Nicholas Parsons, one of the best loved figures in entertainment. Besides "Just a minute" which Parsons hosted from its inception in 1967 until his death, he also appeared on or hosted a huge range of programmes, from "Sale of the Century" to "Doctor Who." While he was immensely funny, he came over as a very gentle, good-natured person who was a delight to listen to and will undoubtedly be greatly missed. Rest in Peace.

Quote of the day 28th January 2020


Emergency One Way Traffic Order, Main Street St Bees

As a result of a gas leak, Cumbria County Council's officers have put an emergency one-way traffic order onto a section of Main Street in St Bees, in the vicinity of the level crossing over the railway, which came into effect today (Monday 27th January 2020) and is expected to last for about five days. While the order is in effect traffic will only be able to drive South-East along this section of road. A diversion is in place and signposted for traffic heading North West which runs via High House Road, the A595, Mirehouse Road and the B5345 (St Bees Road.)

Music spot for 27 January 2020: Purcell's funeral music from March to Canzona


Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and is commemorated as Holocaust Memorial Day, on which we remember the Shoah (the murder of nearly six million Jewish men, women and children by the Nazis) and the other victims of the Nazi holocaust. To describe just the ten largest groups of other victims, listed in order of the number of people murdered by the Nazis, the victims of the holocaust included Jews, Soviet/Russian POWs and civilians, Poles, Serbs, People with disabilities, Gypsies, Freemasons, Slovenes, political and religious opponents of Nazism, gay people, and too many other racial, religious, political or social groups to list. Today we remember all those victims as well as those in other genocides such as those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Speaking at a national commemoration of the event today, in Westminster Central Hall, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I feel a deep sense of shame that here in Britain in 20

Quote of the day for Holocaust Memorial Day, 27th January 2020

"Even in the midst of darkness, it is possible to create light and share warmth with one another; that even on the edge of the abyss, it is possible to dream exalted dreams of compassion" ( Elie Wiesel , Auschwitz survivor)

Sunday Music Spot: "Lord let me know mine end" by Maurice Greene


Quote of the day 26th January 2020

"The M1 took 35 years from first proposal to its opening. Otherwise no significant transport corridor North from London has been built since Queen Victoria's reign. All our existing corridors, road and rail, are choked. As this century proceeds, with new housing new towns, new landscape protections, it's going to get harder to break through. Yet transport pressure is intense and must grow. This year a new corridor is nearing readiness. And having talked ourselves into it, we're now in danger of talking ourselves out of it again. We must be crazy." (Matthew Parris demonstrates that when he stops obsessing about Brexit he is still sometimes capable of hitting nails directly on the head in a Times article, " We owe it to the next generation to build HS2 .")

Boris Johnson signs EU Withdrawal agreement

Yesterday the EU withdrawal agreement was signed, first by EU leaders in Brussels, and then it was taken by Eurostar to London and signed by Boris Johnson in Downing Street. The agreement has been ratified and written into law by the UK parliament: it still has to be ratified by the European Parliament, and a vote is expected on Wednesday. Ratification was supported by the EP's constitutional committee last Thursday and the full parliament is expected to take the same view on Wednesday. Boris Johnson said that the signing "finally delivers the result of the 2016 referendum and brings to an end far too many years of argument and division." He added: "We can now move forward as one country - with a government focused upon delivering better public services, greater opportunity and unleashing the potential of every corner of our brilliant UK, while building a strong new relationship with the EU as friends and sovereign equals." The new EU Council President C

Erdoğan takes Turkey back to Old Testament times.

There was a time when he was elected Prime Minister of Turkey in 2003 when it was possible to see the country's current president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AK Party as a moderate, modernising force which could lead Turkey in the direction of being a successful and normal 21st century society. It's no coincidence that it was at that stage of his leadership of Turkey that British statesmen who were subsequently to end up on both sides of the Brexit debate - including both David Cameron and Boris Johnson -  thought that it was reasonable to hope that Turkey might join the EU. one of thye most damaging aspects of the EU referendum campaign was that comments on this subject which had been made in the first decade of the 21st century while Turkey was on the road to reform were repeated out of context in the following decade by which time the government of Turkey had completely reversed direction. Turkey is one of very few majority Islamic states - the most other obvious examp

Saturday music spot: Elizabethan Serenade

This piece of music is "Elizabethan Serenade" performed by the Ronald Binge orchestra. The paintings in the accompanying video are by Vladimir Volegov.

Quote of the day 25th January 2020


My political compass score

I seem to be becoming more socially libertarian with age. A social media post having given me the impression that the "Political Compass site had refreshed their questions, I took the test again this evening and got the following result Economic Left/Right: 4.38 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.69 In other words they put me to the right of centre on economics, but not quite so far to the right that I couldn't legitimately describe myself as "centre right" which is fair enough, but well into the libertarian quadrant, further "south" than I have found myself in the past, on social issues. It's no surprise to find myself in the lower right quadrant for those who are liberal in the classical sense of the word on both economic and social issues. But in the past I have usually been just below the line dividing the top and bottom halves of a political field on the "political compass" basis and this time I have come out nearly as far

Watching out for human trafficking in Cumbria

Open slavery was abolished in this country centuries ago. But the practice refuses to die and keeps taking new forms. Referring to training being provided by "Hope for Justice" on how to spot signs of human trafficking and modern slavery, Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: “Most of us think of slavery as a practice left in history. However, this is not the case.  “Vulnerable people who are looking for a better life are being exploited by criminals to work in horrendous conditions for little to no money and are being excluded from society.  “This is the most despicable exploitation of people at their most vulnerable and there is no place for it here in Cumbria.  “This training is essential for all agencies that may come in to contact with these victims as they have often been taught to fear authorities by their exploiters.  “I applaud this training and I am sure it will benefit those who have received it as well as the victims.”  Slav

Terry "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition" Jones RIP

One of the iconic comedy lines from my childhood was "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" For those who don't remember it, after various characters in one episode of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" had said things like "I didn't expect a sort of Spanish Inquisition about it," the "Spanish Inquisition" consisting of Terry Jones as 'Cardinal Biggles' and two other Python cast members dressed as Spanish soldiers would burst in, Jones would exclaim, "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!" and they would subject the person who had not been expecting them to various "tortures" such as sitting in a comfy chair. When the news came out that Jones had died earlier this week at the age of 77, Stephen Fry tweeted "Farewell Terry Jones. The great foot has come down to stamp on you"  (a reference to another Monty Python comic motif.) Terry Gilliam, with whom Jones directed the film &quo

The Manchester child abuse case disaster deserves far more attention

People who abuse children belong in prison regardless of the colour of their skin and that of their victims. No race has a monopoly of this kind of evil. Sadly there are child abusers in this country of every race, of both genders, and of every religious and cultural orientation. And every one of them if the evidence exists to do so, should be prosecuted. The disastrous mishandling of the case of the Manchester grooming gang, and the abandonment of Operation Augusta, is yet another sorry example of the catastrophic effect on our justice system wrought by a toxic combination of identity politics and cowardice. And the victims of this catastrophic failure have been some of the most vulnerable young people in our society. The fact that this cowardice continues is demonstrated by the inadequate level of press coverage of the horrifying report into what happened in Manchester, as Charlotte Henry rightly argues here . Let me be absolutely clear. White men who groom and rape child

Quote of the day 24th January 2020


Cumbria's MPs meet to promote interests of County's residents

New and re-elected MPs representing Cumbria, Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness), Trudy Harrison (Copeland), Dr Neil Hudson (Penrith and the Border), Mark Jenkinson (Workington) and John Stevenson (Carlisle) have agreed to continue their frequent meetings to promote Cumbria in Westminster. Workington MP Mark Jenkinson said: “I was pleased to see that there was an established mechanism for Cumbrian MPs to work together on joint projects; creating a stronger voice in Westminster for our county.  "Issues such as infrastructure have knock on benefits to other constituencies and this joined up approach can only benefit Cumbria.”  Carlisle MP John Stevenson added: “Cumbrian MPs have always worked together for the benefit of Cumbria, when they can find common ground and in previous parliaments this has paid dividends.  "I am pleased that these discussions and common projects will continue to drive growth and success in Cumbria.”  And Copeland MP Trudy Harrison echoed their t

EU Withdrawal agreement bill becomes law

Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal has become law after it received royal assent from the Queen, having cleared all its stages in parliament. Deputy speaker Nigel Evans confirmed in the House of Commons that the bill to implement the Withdrawal Agreement has now become law as the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the moment was a significant milestone. “At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it,” he said. The deal still has to be ratified by the European Parliament. Nevertheless it is now clear that Britain will leave the European Union on 31st January.

Quote of the day: "Scotland said no and we meant it!"

"Scotland said no, and we meant it" ( Ian Blackford , Westminster leader of the SNP,  at Prime Minister's Questions yesterday) He was talking about Brexit, but as the Prime Minister pointed out, the words are even more appropriate to Scottish independence: in the 2014 the people of Scotland were offered independence and by 55% to 45% they voted No. And they meant it. And it's about time the SNP listened to the people of Scotland, accepted the decision that Scottish voters made, and got on with the day job of sorting out the problems with the Scottish NHS, the Scottish education system, and the economy of Scotland instead of fantasising about another referendum. If they can't do that they have no business lecturing anyone else about democracy.

We have just had the best decade in human history to date ...

On most objective measures, the decade which has just ended was the best in human history. But we don't want to believe it. Our brains evolved to focus on protecting us against threats which makes us prone to a bias in favour or pessimism. Matt Ridley tweeted ironically yesterday that "If you asked chimpanzees whether extreme poverty has doubled, halved, or stayed the same by writing the answers on three bananas, they would get the right answer six times as often as people do:" More on this subject on the "Rational Optimist" podcast here .

Midweek music spot: "A walk in the Black Forest."


Quote of the day 22nd January 2020


Notes from today's marathon meeting of Copeland Local Committee

More to follow later this week, but today's meeting of Cumbria County Council's local committee for Copeland included the following 1) We had an extremely informative presentation on Universal Credit and what is being done to improve it and help people for whom it has not worked from the Department of Work and Pensions and 2) We approved next year's capital budget and a number of grants 3) We heard important presentations on Road safety and the county council's service caring for vulnerable children in Copeland and Allerdale 4) We also discussed the need for a better bridge over the River Duddon at Duddon Bridge, one of the least satisfactory points on the A595 (a road with many places which need improving) 5) Do Cumbria Libraries stock John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress?" Yes, the library does stock that book, there are at least nine copies which should be available. Watch this space ...

Monday is Holocaust Memorial Day

This coming Monday, 27th January 2020 will be the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auchwitz and will be commemorated as Holocaust Memorial Day. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend next Monday's national Holocaust Memorial Day commemorative ceremony in Westminster. The Duke will give a reading and the couple will meet Holocaust survivors and survivors of subsequent genocides. Holocaust memorial Day Trust chief executive Olivia Marks-Woldman explained that "Holocaust Memorial Day is particularly significant this year as we mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau," She added that "The UK ceremony is the national focal point for more than 10,000 Holocaust Memorial Day activities which are taking place in community settings from schools to libraries, and from councils to prisons. At every event to mark the day, people know more about the past, develop empathy for others, and commit to taking action to create a better future.&quo

Quote of the day 21st January 2020


One voter's journey from Corbyn campaigner to Conservative voter

There is an interesting article on Spiked and in longer form on her own blog by Alice Bragg on how she went from being an active campaigner for Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn from 2015 through to 2018, to voting Conservative in the 2019 general election. She has an interesting perspective. After describing how she became disillusioned with Labour and the Corbyn project she continues: "As I write this, I am acutely aware of the consternation this may provoke among other Labour supporters and activists. Many have spoken to me openly and honestly about the concerns they have about a Conservative government and the impact it might have on their families and their community. The simple answer is that I voted Conservative because I believe Brexit must happen as soon as possible. By denying communities their political will to leave the EU, Labour became incapable of representing them. And yet, I still believe Corbyn was the spark for a genuine and vital movement for change. Althou

Quote of the day 20th January 2020


Sunday music spot "O Thou the central orb" by Charles Wood


The left's "Trickle Down" fabrication

I see that Sir Keir Starmer, one of the candidates to take over as leader of the Labour party, has been repeating a very old fabrication - the idea that supporters of free-market economics believe in something called "trickle down" theory. He tweeted that the free market model has failed and that "trickle down didn't happen." This is misleading nonsense - "Trickle Down" theory is a straw man fabrication which left-wingers put up in order to knock it down, and bears very little resemblance to what supporters of the free-market actually think. The term was originally coined by American humorist William Rogers as a joke in 1932 and was initially used by Democrats in the USA to describe the policies which they claimed that US Republicans supported - a claim vehemently refuted by those same Republicans  - and it has now started to be used by left-wing politicians in Britain in the same misleading way. I have never heard of a case where a serious economi

Quote of the day 19th January 2020


Cancer Tests save lives

The earlier cancer is caught, the better the outcomes. Both the chances of survival for five years, and quality of life while one is still alive, are far better if cancer is discovered and treated earlier. That's why cancer screening for both women and men is really important: it needs to be improved and should be taken up. I was extremely disappointed to learn this weekend that the latest figures for take-up of cervical smear tests in North and West Cumbria is only 80%. 15,964 women who were eligible for a smear test did not have one. Next week is Cervical cancer prevention week and a number of campaigns are planned to spread awareness and encourage higher takeup. Every woman who is invited to have a smear cervical smear test would be very well advised to take it up - and already this year one caring business in West Cumbria, the playgroup Tot Spot repeated the offer of free childcare while mums have the test . The owner of Tot Spot, Angela Greasley, first offered free c

Bernard Wooley RIP

Actor Derek Fowlds, who played the civil servant Bernard Wooley in "Yes, Minister" and "Yes, Prime Minister" died yesterday at the age of 82. He was a wonderful actor and according to those who worked with him, a kind and lovely man. He had many of the best lines in the show, as in this clip in which he talks about defence capabilities: He was also a perfect foil for other actors such as Nigel Hawthorne, as in this scene where "Sir Humphry" explains how to get the result you want from an opinion poll: Derek Fowlds also appeared in "Heartbeat" and the Basil Brush show. Rest in Peace.

Saturday music spot: The Monkees sing "Last Train to Clarksville"

As a small child I loved the comedy show "The Monkees," which featured a band originally put together for the show, and shown here clowning around in two clips from the show. I remember watching and listening to this song and scenes like these. However, at the time I had no idea of the hidden bite behind the comedy in the form of the huge significant of the words at the time to contemporary young American men: Clarksville was where many of them had to report on being drafted before being sent to serve in Vietnam. Hence the line "and I don't know if I'm ever coming home" was a reference to the possibility of being killed in action.

Quote of the day 18th January 2020


Statement from Cumbria NHS confirming Accident & Emergency at WCH stays open

The  North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust has put out a briefing and media statement explaining that, although they are reviewing how to maintain Accident and Emergency service (A&E) at West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) in Whitehaven, there is no question of closing the service at night or at any other time. Lyn Simpson Chief Executive of North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC) said,  “The Trust is committed to the outcome of the public consultation made in March 2017 for a 24/7 Accident & Emergency provision at West Cumberland Hospital.” The trust has reaffirmed its commitment to the outcome of the public consultation to retain a 24/7 Accident & Emergency provision at West Cumberland Hospital.  The full statement reads as follows Media Statement Prof John Howarth, Deputy Chief Executive said, “We do have some forthcoming staffing challenges and so clinical leaders in the team are reviewing our current arrangements. 

Quote of the day 17th January 2020


Quote of the day 16th January 2020


Midweek Music Spot: "Blow, blow thou winter wind" by Thomas Arne


Quote of the day 15th January 2020


Quote of the day 14th January 2020

“It was very hard for me to believe that our people have been killed. Forgive me that I got to know this late. And forgive me for the 13 years I told you lies.”  (Resignation statement and apology to the people of Iran from Gelare Jabbari , in an Instagram post, after she left her position as an Iranian State TV anchor on becoming convinced that she was being used to disseminate falsehood and propaganda.)

Copeland Local Committee

As I posted last week, the January meeting of Cumbria County Council's local committee for Copeland will be held at 10.15 am at Cleator Moor Civic Hall on 21st January 2020. The meeting will be open to the public. The agenda and most of the supporting papers have now gone up on the council website here . (There are two more to follow.) I have been to a few council meetings in the last few months where the agenda was a bit light, in some cases so much so that one did wonder whether it would have been better to save public money by cancelling them, but this one is not light in any way shape or form. The agenda includes the following: 6. Universal Credit To receive presentations from representatives from the Department of Work and Pensions and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau on the functioning of the Universal Credit system and it's impact on local people. 7. Third Sector Waste To receive a presentation from the Executive Director – Economy and Infrastructure 8. Road S

Quote of the day 13th January 2020

"If you don’t believe in free speech for people who you disagree with, and even hate for what they stand for, then you don’t believe in free speech." ( Ricky Gervais on twitter yesterday)

Roger Scruton RIP

The family of Sir Roger Scruton have issued the following statement today: " Announcement 12th January 2020 It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Sir Roger Scruton, FBA, FRSL. Beloved husband of Sophie, adored father to Sam and Lucy and treasured brother of Elizabeth and Andrea, he died peacefully on Sunday 12th January. He was born on 27th February 1944 and had been fighting cancer for the last 6 months. His family are hugely proud of him and of all his achievements." Sir Roger was one of Britain's most distinguished academics. He managed to clear his name last year after being sacked as an unpaid government advisor after the New Statesman selectively quoted an interview he gave the magazine in a way which they subsequently accepted "did not accurately represent his views." Both the magazine and the government apologised to him. Rest in Peace.

Sunday music spot: "I Was Glad" by Sir Charles Parry


Quote of the day 12th January 2020


Saturday music spot: Händel's "Dixit Dominus" first movement


Quote of the day 11th January 2020

"What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should ban it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long." ( Thomas Sowell )

January meeting of the CCC Copeland local committee

The January meeting of Cumbria County Council's local committee for Copeland will be held at 10.15 am at Cleator Moor Civic Hall on 21st January 2020. The meeting will be open to the public. The agenda will become available here early in the week before the meeting (e.g. next week at the time of putting up this post.)

Friday music spot: Gluck - Dance of the Furies


Quote of the day 10th January 2020


Notes from today's meeting of Cumbria County Council

1) Near the start of the meeting there was a very good presentation by the Chief Constable of Cumbria constabulary. Her talk was well received and prompted half an hour of questions 2) This was followed by a presentation from the council of children in care. 3) Under questions I asked about the status of proposals under consideration by Durham County Council to introduce fluoridisation, which if it goes ahead will affect not just their own area but parts of several neighbouring authorities, including about 2,345 residents of Cumbria in the Alston area. The Portfolio Holder replied that Durham County Council has asked the government in mid December for permission to hold a consultation on this issue. At the moment they are awaiting a decision from the Secretary of State for Health, which they hope to receive by the end of January. There is a legal requirement for a thorough consultation with all the areas affected, which must take place over a period of at least 12 months a

Music to relax after a council meeting: Mozart's Piano Concerto No.21 ("Elvira Madigan") 2nd Movement


Quote of the day 9th January 2020


Midweek music spot for a wet January: "Winter" from Vivaldi's Four Seasons.


Quote of the day 8th January 2020


Tuesday music spot: Bach's Variations on "Wachet Auf", No. 1


Cognitive diversity

There was an interesting weekend essay by Matthew Syed in The Times a couple of days ago about  cognitive diversity with the title " The truth is that great minds don't think alike ." The point he was making is that if you are assembling a team of people to do a job then in the vast majority of  cases - with a few exceptions such as a relay racing team - the way to get the most effective team is to include a mix of different abilities and skills. The essay gives as an example of when this approach was used particularly successfully of the Bletchley Park codebreaking team which broke the Enigma codes. As well as great mathematical minds like Alan Turing the team at Bletchley was deliberately set up to include other type of thinkers, both men and women, and people with non-mathematical skills including people with skills such as doing crosswords. This intellectually diverse team was better able to crack the codes and get inside the heads of the German Enigma operat

Quote of the day 7th January 2020

"Hand on heart, did we deserve to win the general election?  "Probably not, so the British public got it right." ( Sadiq Khan , Labour Mayor of London. I don't often agree with Mayor Khan, but I'm certainly not going to argue with him on this one.)

Monday music spot: Overture from Solomon (Arrival of the Queen of Sheba)


Quote of the day 6th January 2020


Twelfth Night music spot: "Three Kings" from King's

Today is Twelfth Night, the last of the twelve days of Christmas, as the church starts to look to Epiphany, the arrival of the Magi (also known as the Wise Men, or in mythology the Three Kings.) So what more appropriate piece for the last music spot of this Christmas season than "Three Kings from Persian Lands Afar" sung by the choir of King's college Cambridge?

Swimathon 2020

I have signed up for Swimathon 2020, to swim 5000 metres at Copeland pool in Hensingham. Swimathon is the world's largest swimming charity fundraising event. Between 27th and 29th March, I will be one of more than 21,000 swimmers who head down to their local pool, or one of more than 600 swimming pools around the UK which are taking part, to raise money for two incredibly important charities. I have taken part in the Swimathon every year since 1994 to help a wide variety of important causes, but there is none more important than helping people living with cancer. Cancer Research UK, the world’s leading cancer charity is dedicated to saving lives through funding research to help prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Cancer Research UK are the only charity fighting over 200 cancer types but don't receive any government funding for their work, so their progress is all thanks to the support of people like you. Marie Curie provides expert care, guidance and support for people

Quote of the day 5th January 2020