WHY US? WHY HERE?

I cannot warm to Julian ‘Very’ Asstrange, the Wikileaks founder and all round ‘pain in the arse’!  With the Press and the Media having a quiet day at the office, we were flooded with pictures and reports of ‘Very’ Asstrange on the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy, spouting sanctimonious claptrap to a handful of his supporters.

He reminded me of those tin pot South American dictators addressing their adoring supporters,or those who had been paid a few pesos to be adoring, the sort you used to see on the balcony of the presidential palace in downtown Quito, sporting a ridiculous uniform straight from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta and festooned with self awarded medals.

Peron from Argentina was one of the first, quickly followed by Fidel Castro, whose contribution to population control was to bore his supporters to death, and more recently Chavez of Venezuela, who is barking mad.  And now, to cap the lot, we have ‘Very’ Asstrange in the theatre of the absurd, not in Quito, the capital of his adopted country, but in London.

Reporters Without Borders, a French NGO, ranks countries by press freedom, with Finland in first place, and Ecuador at 120 out of 179.  Interestingly, Sweden is in third place.

The reports of press persecution in Ecuador make for uneasy reading, and these reports come from such august bodies as Human Rights Watch, RWB and Amnesty International.  In short, if ‘Very’ Asstrange harbours any hopes of making the same London speech in Quito, he’s got another think coming!

Here in the United Kingdom, we have a proud tradition of offering shelter to those who have suffered persecution in their own countries.  We also have a tradition, proud or otherwise, of opening our doors to misfits, embryo terrorists, and benefits scroungers.  In short, we are too nice for our own good, so when ‘Very’ Asstrange, an Australian national, turned up uninvited after a questionable sojourn in Sweden, instead of sending him back home, we get stuck with him.  The long suffering taxpayer foots the bill trying to get him out, and just when we thought it was all over bar the shouting, up he pops like a bad dream in the role of the self made martyr.

Why us?  Why here? What have we done to deserve him?

Despite his protestations to the contrary, ‘Very’ Asstrange is short on good and reliable friends to march with him to the ramparts.  As if to prove the point, the absolutely ghastly George Galloway has come out in support, describing the sexual allegations against him as merely “bad manners”, and accusing his two accusers of a conspiracy against him.  With friends like that, who needs enemies?

It’s too late to storm the Ecuadorean Embassy, and the affair has been badly handled.  As things stand, the only option is to let him remain indefinitely in the Embassy until Ecuador gets as fed up with him as the rest of us.  If he pokes his head round the net curtain for a repeat performance, hose him down with a water cannon, and pack him off to Sweden.

One final thought.  Quito is Spanish for ‘I left’.  Hope springs eternal!

ONE FOR THE ROAD

There is a tremendous amount of complete garbage spoken and written about drink driving, and recent research by University College London is no exception. In short, these bone headed researchers, with nothing better to do than spend their grant, have found that by reducing the limit of alcohol to blood from 80 mg, the present limit, to 50 mg, would prevent 65 road deaths and 230 injuries a year. How on earth can they possibly arrive at these findings? As I say, it’s complete garbage!

It’s as ridiculous as saying that three quarters of all road accidents happen within 5 miles of the drivers’ home. Of course they do, as three quarters of all drivers are only driving 5 miles from their home and back, usually to the shops, or better still the pub, where access is denied by non-existent public transport.

Back in the eighties, the government asked a panel of ‘experts’ to devise a system of alcohol consumption which could then be converted into ‘units’. That same panel was then asked to apply ‘units’ to a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle, so X units per week was fine, but X + 1 units was life threatening, and from these “back of a fag packet” calculations arose our drink driving laws. And guess what?!? When these experts were challenged about their system, they accepted it was totally arbitrary and had no real foundation in medical science. But this system has been elevated to Elysian proportions, so when I go to my doctor complaining of an ingrowing toenail, I’m cross examined about the number of ‘units’ of alcohol I consume, and how many cigars I smoke, and if I inhale! I’m here to tell you that at £10 a time, I’m going to inhale!

But back to drink driving. These same researchers go on to compare our drink drive laws unfavourably with those of Sweden and the Netherlands, where their limits are lower, and consequently, or so the theory goes, they have fewer road accidents. Have you ever visited these countries? I mean, let’s get real! Sweden is buried in snow half the year, so there’s nothing better to do than stay at home, get tanked up on schnapps and listen to Abba’s greatest hits all day and all night long. And the Netherlands? Boring, flat as a pancake, and once you’ve seen one tulip, you’ve seen them all!

Common sense, a rare commodity in government these days, comes from the lips of John Fitzpatrick, plucked by Gordon from obscurity to become road safety minister, a post beyond his wildest dreams and a stepping stone to high office. He says, and I quote: “We are not convinced that dropping [the limit] to 50 is the right answer. Drivers who are between 50 and 80mg are not the ones we are most worried about. It’s the ones over 100.” Amen to that!

English pubs, the bedrock of our society, are closing by the score on a weekly basis, blaming the combination of drink drive and anti smoking laws. The pub used to be the last refuge of the hen pecked husband, a chance for a chat in a relaxed atmosphere, and putting the world to rights over a pint of mine host’s old peculiar. Most sensible drinkers know their limit better than researchers from University College or panels of experts.

Of course drunken driving is inexcusable, the more so if it leads to death or serious injury, as happened to the professional footballer who now faces at least 4 years in prison. What a pointless waste of lives. But to tar all of us with the same brush is insulting, as it has no basis in medical science or any other reliable measure. Talking of measures, make mine a large one!