Pedals in the East Neuk … a bike, a hill, fantastic views

Pedals in the East Neuk

Pedals in the East Neuk

Now at last the rain is fled
I pull my bike from in the shed
Give the tyres some pumps, a squeeze
Oil the chain and brakes, then ease …

… My way onto the gravelled drive
And pedal off, my legs alive
Scots breakfast a true power source
My knees transmit the motive force

Down the road thence to the climb
To take me up to views sublime
O’er quiet roads past rustling trees
And open fields where still my knees …

… Grind on my breath now ragged gasps
Thank God, a level bit at last
Now at the top in gentle breeze
I feast my eyes upon the sea

East Neuk view
My heart slows down as eyes delight
In landscapes, islands, beaches bright
And when at last I’ve seen my fill
I coast off down the testing hill

And hurtle where my legs did strain
With shaking speed a child again
A bend, a bump, a gentle skid
Then clang across a cattle-grid

On down rough track to where cars hustle
And brawny engines share their muscle
And watchful eyed I swift move through
My village far below that view

Homeward bound in traffic’s rush
I make the turn and gently push
Where bikes potential rests once more
Behind the shed’s wide oaken door

And peace remains inside my heart
The view embedded and now part
Of journey’s memory bright it stays
E’en now in mind it gently plays

I sit here, offer up my thanks
Oh lucky man …

© Mac Logan

view tweaked OPT

Land Registry and other UK asset sales … who steals our goose?

UK Asset sales

who stole the gooseSo it’s true: short-term issues drive out the long. Of course that’s no guarantee of good or honest decision making.

Okay, Okay, the Government is in a fix – austerity isn’t working. So they’re flogging (selling) our national assets to the private sector — a virtually guarantee of profitability to the buyer and a serious risk of disbenefit to the public. In a recent post: If the Panama Hat Fits … Don’t Sell the Land Registry I express my concerns.

Are you sure Austerity isn’t working?

What if Austerity-forcing-asset-sales is the Government’s strategy and working perfectly? Imagine an intention to transfer as many publicly owned assets, as possible, to the private sector for long-term milking. How so? you may ask. Have a read of this The Establishment: And How They Get Away with It. It’s a thoughtful eye-opener.

As we’ve known for hundreds of years:

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.
English Folk Poem (17 century)

I’n not alone with my fears, in fact I’m in excellent company:

“We believe that consumers and the economy would be best served by a model that promotes wide access to Land Registry data at cost-reflective prices, encouraging its use and commercial exploitation by a range of individuals and businesses.”

Is the Land Registry sale a good thing? If so, for whom?

How does Parliament, home of fraudulent expense claims and admitted incompetence build our trust and confidence? Similarly, how do the Financial Sector, creators of The Crash and, for example, breakers of their profit taking deal on the UK Post Office sale, win our hearts and minds? Should we allow them to dispose of another valuable national asset?

Not in the UK Competition Watchdog’s  view

The UK Competition Watchdog, or to give them their Sunday-best title: The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) objected to the sale yesterday. A sub-headline in the Guardian summed up the situation: Planned privatisation would grant new owner monopoly on commercially valuable data with no incentive to improve access, warns CMA.

“Our view is that a privatised, vertically integrated Land Registry [the government’s preferred option] would be unlikely to deliver this outcome, despite the best efforts of oversight bodies to regulate prices and write safeguards into a contract or licence.”

When I occasionally write this type of blog, I’m thinking of my grandchildren and the legacy this early millennial greed and incompetence mean for their lives long after I’m gone.

© Mac Logan

Long Goodbye – Tender Touch – Fearful Heart

Fearful Heart?

The first part shares the background to this work. The poem is below, entitled: Long Goodbye. Read it your way, background or poem first. I welcome your thoughts.

“Oh how wrong we were to think immortality meant never dying”  Gerard Way

light touch

hands touch hearts touch

It comes to us all: sometimes in an instant and for others in a dragged out trail, or should that be trial?

The visit to my doctor was routine. I’d had the needle the week before. No call is good news. My arrival meant no fearful heart.

Parked near the Surgery (doctor’s office), fiddling with my phone, I noticed  a car arrive with an older couple.

Slow progress

They took time leaving their car. They seemed disengaged, in a  world of their own. Their inwardness was like people travelling on the Tube in London.

Tender touch

Their gentle progress seemed almost fragile and, once inside, the perception never escaped me. Wife sat stiff, brave. Husband grabbed a magazine and studied. When Wife was called, Husband continued to study his journal. As Wife passed him, he reached out with swift, sure, support. They touched hands like a butterfly brushes a windblown flower. This was a private, fleeting yet powerful gesture noticed by me and, doubtless, God.

Fearful Heart

I let my attention wander and came back to Husband a few minutes later. He gazed at a page. he wasn’t reading … not there. When Wife returned they rose, rebooked and left with a slow step. I sat moved, thoughtful and felt the stirring of a poem. Here it is …

Long Goodbye?

Circumspect they leave their car
Unsteady feet, attending hands
Heads close as tango dancers

Bright sun shares kisses never felt
In a fog of mutual support
Their unrushed dance well timed

One hand grips rail, her other held
Slow steps rise to fateful door
Shoulders meet to balance

I follow in the wake of pain
And sit nearby aware, empathic
No talk fills their waiting

There he sits with magazine
Eyes stare focused on his lap
Reading not an inky word

The doctor comes and calls a name
She stands slow, when erect moves off
His strong help barely glimps’d

But I saw subtle hands connect
A low five of support, such depth
Years of love in a single touch

How many years their love withstood
Cruel slings and arrows, rocks and stones
Now entr’ng life’s departure lounge

For just a mo’ our eyes connect
Tendrils of fear escape control
And withdraw, fast as pounding heart

A brittle smile, a nod … alone
A caring head drops to stare at … nothing
He waits her soft return

She’s back, a new appointment made
Ginger steps move away, in hope
Or resignation, I cannot say

© Mac Logan

If the Panama Hat Fits … Don’t Sell the Land Registry

Camouflage is a game we all like to play, but our secrets are as surely revealed by what we want to seem to be as by what we want to conceal. Russell Lynes

If the Panama hat fits …

if the panama hat fitsA side benefit of the Panama scandal is the re-exposure of the Land Registry sale. The government wan to sell a profitable department. In private hands there is every chance Freedom of information wouldn’t apply and property transactions would avoid needed scrutiny.

Buy a bargain

Flogging the Land Registry came under the spotlight before the Panama leaks … if only just. The sale was vetoed by Vince Cable in 2014 … and it’s been on the Government agenda for a while. Of course, with Cable gone after the last election, it returned to the agenda, if not to a high-profile intent.
The Land Registry in England and Wales earns money for the Treasury. Last year it gave £119M ($169M) back to the UK Treasury. Naturally enough selling it is a government aspiration — ideology being what it is. Doubtless it’s an attractive proposition to buyer’s. One can question any long-term benefit to the UK.

Opacity is of the essence

Ever been bitten by a conspiracy theory? My initial feelings about the sale of our country’s assets hasn’t changed (it’s a training issue, not an incompetence issue). Faced with the Land Registry sale I didn’t experience more than my usual sentiments when I consider the wrong-headed waste of privatisation . I don’t believe the public ever benefits — but that’s for another day.

Sorely missed

Is it conceivable the people exposed by the Panama leaks only just missed the chance to have their property dealings obfuscated? Maybe, the government will sell the Land Registry off any way. If they’d had their way in 2014, what would we have not known about the scale, nature and ownership of the property market in London and elsewhere?

© Mac Logan

 

Kilts Endangered—North Carolina on My Mind

North Carolina on my Mind …

Kilts art riskIt started with a tickle, no sir not a trickle, from a pal in the USA.

She sent this cartoon to me via Facebook and asked what I though of the North Carolina situation.

At first I thought of gun-violence, but that wasn’t it.

Then I wondered if there’d been a natural catastrophe. Nope, not that either.

Then I spotted the doors. Funny? Ha Ha?

See this cartoon, Jimmy?

The inference is that we need multiple toilets in Scotland to ensure kilt-wearing people can go to the correct restroom. And then, perhaps due to an over indulgence in our national drink, and according to the illustration, we didn’t sign the doors right

Of course this isn’t toilet a problem for fearsome kilt wearers (start at 5:17 on the video). We go in the door marked for men. Women, who look delightful in kilts of all lengths use the doors marked for them. The significance is for other people, most notably in the USA, judging by my friend’s tease: Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia and others spring to mind.

There’s a poll at the bottom of this post — what do you think?

Cruel is as cruel does

TG Loo signI first came across a Transgender situation in the mid-80’s. The person concerned was a former military officer over six feet tall and built like a block of granite. Her femininity and gentleness was remarkable; also some of her tales of the military. I don’t know her background, but learned she’d had gender re-assignment surgery.

Leaving the military she joined  a public sector organisation as a seniorish manager. The trouble started when she transitioned into feminine clothes and changed her name. The men would no longer accept her in the mens-room and the women didn’t want her in their loos (UK word for toilets) either. They ended up building a TransGender convenience. Where people didn’t know, problems weren’t apparent. At work she became embittered and, as far as I know, depression and mental illness followed (maybe something North Carolina want to think about if they’re enforcing matters in their public buildings).

Don’t ask don’t tell

A couple of years back I attended an event in Seattle. My kilt brought a lot of fun and interesting conversations. No men ran screaming from a restroom although I have to confess I didn’t give it a try with the women’s equivalent.

People talk

Week before last I was in London at a professional meeting. Over coffee I talked with two women, senior people in their professional world. I’d reached over for some coffee and came partially into a conversation about a man who’d told a woman her underwear didn’t match her outfit, the conversation went something like this:

me: … didn’t match her underwear?

woman 1: that’s right, right in front of me … she blushed

woman 2: bit cruel

They didn’t seem outraged.

me: Was he using some sort of spy contraption? You know, like the mirrors on a stick the police use to look for bombs.

They looked at me, amused.

woman 1: nooo, silly, she’d got her skirt caught in her knickers and then she walked out of the loo.

woman 2: have you ever got your kilt caught in your knickers?

me: no, never

Woman 2: ahh there’s nothing worn under your kilt?

At my age there might be. Talk about feeding a punch line. If you get in touch I’ll share a series of answers. However it’s only worth reporting the conversation went down hill in PC terms … and we laughed a lot.

TransGender bender

Politicians will make all sorts of points and pass all sorts of laws and ordnances. Bottom line is: are the TransGender people victims or perps? By all accounts TGs tend not to be dangerous. I’m surprised how people who claim to be upright citizens can be so insensitive (watch the video).

For me, in any of the outraged States, I’d be more worried about the homicide rate than TransGender people. TGs are at serious risk in many situations.

In my society, I believe we include people of all sexualities and needs. TGs deserve every bit as much respect and acceptance. This year on the Voice TV show a woman represented TransGender folk with elegance and capability. Now, there’s an example of human worth.

© Mac Logan

Immigration—The Unaccountable in Pursuit of the Inelligible

At times, one of life’s greatest challenges is to stand up and speak out. I believe in healing and conciliation. That hasn’t changed. In this piece, there is anger, yet the challenge always remains to put such energy to constructive use.

These successful operations reflect our ongoing work … Assistant Director Phillippa Russell, the Northern Echo 

ready! fire! aim! MacL

Communication glitches …Unaccountable officials

The vans move quietly into place. The livery is shiny white paint above Day-Glo yellow stripes and a light/dark blue checker board below. Inside team member adrenalin flows in the acrid, humid air. Raiders sweat in knife-proof vests. Communicator ear pieces and underwear tickle with perspiration. Utility belts are stuffed full of interesting bits and pieces like a quality Calzone.

‘Back doors and exits covered.’
‘Check.’ Clear voice, fuzzy/hissy background.
‘Police support team stand by.’
‘Ready.’ Clear voice, fuzzy/hissy background.

Tension mounts. Someone farts. In the enclosed space Billy Connolly’s statement about flatulence in spacesuits rings true.

‘Go! Go! Go!’

All of our operations are intelligence led. Assistant Director Phillippa Russell … Immigration Enforcement team 

The Raid

The diners look up, bemused, as dark clothed officials enter. The operation is as commando-like as flabby-bodied, unfit officials can achieve. Of course, having police support makes a huge difference.

In moments there is a row of scared workers against a wall, including British, EU and non-EU citizens. in full view of the diners some are searched, finger-printed and interrogated. As these things go it’s efficient, achieves its operational target and the law is seen to be enforced.

A prompt press release provides smug are-we-good-or-what publicity for the press to share, not to mention the usual comments from Internet readers. You know, from supportive, to colourful, to racist.

A fourth man, a 30-year-old Tunisian, was escorted from the premises by immigration officers after checks revealed he did not have permission to work in the UK.

This information is untrue. He has permission. Something went wrong … the ‘checks’ by the sound of things?

Intelligence led

There’s vast scope for intelligence. Immigration Enforcement is part of the UK Home Office. Their powers include: forced entry, interrogation and arrest.  And that’s not all …

… since 2013 immigration officials have been granted the power to “property interference, including interference with equipment”, which can include planting a listening device in a home, car or detention centre, as well as hacking into phones or computers. The Observer 10 April 2016

This exercise seems a proper exercise of power: two Syrians, an Egyptian rousted then released and a Tunisian removed. However, no one is in custody.

The fourth man

The Tunisian is working legally. Oops! His (British) wife get’s a call and a check list interrogation that is: of a British Citizen (born and bred) by an Immigration Officer:

  • married? yes
  • when? 2014
  • de-da de-da de-da …

All questions are answered.

British Citizen asks why she is being interrogated
Immigration Officer says she must provide the required information
British Citizen says the Home Office already has all the information via lawyers; her husband is working legally
… Things go quiet
British Citizen says the Home Office has known this for several weeks
Immigration Officer says maybe the Home Office hasn’t managed to update their database just yet
British Citizen asks what Immigration Enforcement are going to do about it.
Immigration Officer gives answer of the day: ‘I don’t know’ re-states all required information must be presented to the police and hangs up.

Next day the police tell British Citizen it’s nothing to do with them. They are helpful and respectful. Their role is to provide support and protection for everyone as Immigration Officers do their duty, otherwise they’re not involved — they do tough work and are worthy of respect.

The Reality

For Immigration and the Police it’s routine—to the point where the same quotes from AD Philippa Russell have appeared in press releases for the past few months.

For the diners, this may have put some of them off their food, spiced-up the conversation of others and, maybe, added a sense of shame for the public humiliation of other human beings. Imagine, the nice waiter looking after you is humbled and disappeared in front of your very eyes.

It must be scary … being made to stand against a wall in front of onlookers; fingerprinted and interrogated? Probably so, for legals and illegals alike. Okay, it’s not the St Valentines Day massacre and, on the upside, we don’t drag ’em off and shoot ’em.

And the innocent?

The Tunisian man in question is in the middle of legal proceedings to determine his right to remain in the UK. However, delays are frequent and this isn’t the first cock-up either.

As mentioned, the local Member of Parliament became involved. She was given mis-information by the Home Office and therefore, wrongly, told this man to leave the country, immediately. At least in the MP’s letter the naughty official who shared the information is named [watch this space]. This person reported erroneous information to an MP. Tower of London stuff if you ask me.

Burying Mistakes Lite

It’s hard to imagine Immigration Enforcement would let even an innocent man return to the UK (one way of burying mistakes without killing them), even though the Home Office misled British Citizen’s MP.

I wonder what many months of bungling and bureaucratic bullying have done for this innocent man’s mental health. He and his wife have been serially psychologically harmed. He has never claimed benefits and always self-supported. They respect British law. They aim to start a business and will create jobs in the future. He is personable, capable and speaks several languages. He is loved by his British family.

Cruel Incompetence

I wonder if the Assistant Director of the Immigration Enforcement team loses sleep over the mistakes of her people, and collateral damage of the occasional screw-up. You can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs as they say. Assistant Director Russell says:

Using illegal labour is not victimless. It defrauds the Treasury …

Persecuting legal labour when intelligence fails isn’t victimless either, it harms people, people who may be paying the Treasury.

An innocent man, of the wrong ethnicity, was humiliated and his wife subject to hard-edged bureaucracy because the correct intel wasn’t there, an Immigration Enforcement equivalent of friendly fire. In this case:

  • Is the innocent detainee permitted to work in the UK? Yes.
  • Does he pay UK tax, NI and so on? Yes. Always has.
  • Did the Home Office have the correct facts? No.
  • Will the Immigration Enforcement release a statement about their screw-up? What do you think?

Suffice to say this isn’t the only cock-up in this sad situation. Assistant Director Russell labels her operation a success. Our present Home Secretary bangs on about such successes in Parliament, raking the coals of racism and hatred — a mendacious exemplar of a dissembling breed.

A Duty of Care

Of course our Immigration people are there to protect us, our borders and economy. It’s essential. It is a shame Immigration Enforcement’s data can be out of date and their PR is a bit amateur but, hey, so are their political bosses … and, after all, they are only following orders.

Do Immigration Enforcement uphold the best of our British values while they do their work? We don’t want to radicalize people … do we?

Kick ass

I’d like to believe that a few unaccountable, senior as possible, posteriors will get a *private* shellacking, but can’t imagine from whom. Come to think of it lining the naughty up against a wall and inspecting their credentials offers a certain attraction … although it might put the diners off.

One thing is for certain, as the AD says: these successful operations reflect our work. 

Am I holding my breath for the apology? What do you think …

© Mac Logan

PS: if any of this resonates with you … please pass it on. There’s more to report.

Erotic? Exotic? Despotic? … Different People, Diverse Urges

Urges? Well I Never

‘Just erotic. Nothing kinky. It’s the difference between using a feather and using a chicken.’ Terry Pratchett

Chickens and FeathersDifferent people diverse urges

I used to think a bisexual had wheels and handlebars, S&M were candy coated chocolate buttons, and sex was what potatoes came in … Then, a while back, someone told me about erotica.

At the time I was both honoured and diffident in my appreciation of an erotic author inviting me to guest-blog and giving me the flexibility to respond (don’t jump to conclusions) in my own way. Continue reading