rashbre central: July 2017

Sunday 30 July 2017

less of a cycle, more of a walk

Still no furniture, let alone bikes, so I decided to explore by foot today. My route was directly into the centre and then along to the wharf.

The predominant form of transport around the wharf today seemed to be cyclists of one kind or another, worthy of a quick iPhone snapshot.

Only a few more days and I'll be re-united with my own bicycles. Meanwhile, there's other forms of transport to explore.

Saturday 29 July 2017

indoor campsite

The latest furniture acquisition is these stylish chairs. I spotted them in Tesco and their combined price was a remarkable £10.

They are more or less our entire furniture collection at the moment until we are eventually re-united with the items currently in storage. Everything else was trucked away to a depot back in early May, so it is becoming difficult to remember exactly what will return.

The more streamlined living of the last few months has been oddly addictive, so it is possible that we'll be jettison yet more stuff as part of this relocation.

For now, I'm sitting in one of the campsite chairs with Radio 4 as accompaniment.

Thursday 27 July 2017


The new Trump communications manager doesn't disappoint.

Worth a modest $85 million, Scaramucci is an investment banker pulling $5 million in salary and another $4.9 million from his ownership stake in SkyBridge Capital. He blames that disclosure on a leak, although it was freely available as Public Financial Disclosure Report (OGE Form 278e), which he was required to provide, when first appointed.

In keeping with the ever more Don-like moves of the President, Scaramucci has already made the Press Corp an offer they can't refuse. He threatens to fire them all if they don't behave. A quicker way to help Trump get the swamp he desires?

An early Goodfellas style Scaramucci move was to plan to dismiss Michael Short for an alleged leak. Short quit when he found out. Mooch blamed “another leak” for early news of the firing — even though he himself was the person who let it slip.

Scaramucci told reporters,“This (the leaking) is actually a terrible thing. Let’s say I’m firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic.”

How to sound self righteous whilst making mistakes? Inverse virtue signalling? Who knows?

Next Scaramooch slid it up a gear in that Newsnight interview with BBC's Emily Maitlis. Creepy space invading patronising rhetoric accompanied with much front stabbing. Multiple 'shout at the telly' moments all within 11 minutes.

So, entertainment it might be, proper politics, it ain't.

Wednesday 26 July 2017


On the road again, having left our temporary apartment by the jetty. Now we are closing in on the new area. There's still plenty of interesting places along the way, like Alf Resco's, which is a fine place for a brunch.

We're currently in a motel, which could have been a prototype for that old Crossroads television series. Indeed, it turns out that this motel was the very first one built in the U.K. back in 1955.

The one we are staying in has obviously been refurbished since those days, and even Breaking Bad managed to incorporate a kind of homage to Crossroads in one of its episodes.

So above is the one from Albuquerque, and below is our current venue.

But only for a couple of days, then we'll be back in our own place.

Sunday 23 July 2017

an interesting locomotive turns up at the jetty

Today, breakfast on the beach seemed like a good idea, so we headed off to a nearby bay.

Despite all the news broadcasts about traffic jams and overcrowding, we found the area perfectly accessible and just healthily busy.

Back, later in the day, to the temporary home by the jetty. I glimpsed the top of a steam locomotive chimney that I didn't recognise. A kind of elongated shape. They'd brought a special train into the station. We're in the west here, but this was very much an east coast locomotive.

My inner anorak surfaced as I noticed the engine was decked out in British Railways LNER Apple Green, with a first carriage in a rhubarb and custard paint scheme.

This wasn't a normal preserved locomotive. Ask many train knowledgeable folk if they know the last BR steam locomotive and they'll answer with Evening Star, a 2-10-0 engine once immortalised by an Airfix kit.

But this one was later. Much later. Built well after the end of the steam era on the railways. The Pacific A1 named Tornado was built from 1994, and only completed in 2008. Truly a 21st Century steam locomotive.

Friday 21 July 2017

watch that train come down the track

I said I was staying above the train station, so here is a better picture from one of the windows.

It's raining right now, so the view isn't quite as clear into the distance. There's a black locomotive on its way to connect back with the front of the train. It's a GWR Hall class 4-6-0, but painted in the BR livery of black with red lining rather than the characteristic green of the GWR.

It's possible to zoom into that top picture, but here's more of a close-up taken at the other end of the line.

Thursday 20 July 2017

coal fired

It would be silly not to investigate the railway that is downstairs from the temporary apartment on the jetty. As well as the passenger ferry and the adjacent small car ferry, we have the steam trains departing about every 45 minutes.

It is even possible to check the approach of the next train via a handily positioned telescope, then saunter downstairs to be in time to catch the arriving train, whilst the locomotive runs around the rolling stock to the front ready for departure.

So what better thing to do than to head along the river and then out towards the sea, maybe to pause a while on a sunny beach?

Tuesday 18 July 2017

paperless office with reckless abandon

I don't really care whether David Davis returned to Britain after an hour or so in Brussels because of a Commons whip or because of the in-fighting for leadership.

That he returned at all after what was effectively his second day in the front-line for the Brexit talks is appalling.

He and his team may look unprepared without papers. But we all know has a special silver briefcase with secret locks and that thing about 'don't show papers to the press' etc. It's still just like the other day when he sat in Parliament trying to laugh off Emily Thornbury's challenges. It isn't clever, it's insulting to the electorate. He's not showing leadership, and his ex colleague and erstwhile EU sparring partner Barnier must be quietly smiling at the incompetence.

May is finished, although the Tories can't tip her out yet. Davis arrogantly considers himself in the running as a replacement, along with other comedy turns like Rees-Mogg, Johnson and Gove. Hammond is being heavily briefed against, so presumably we'll get a newbie or a stitch-up (possibly both).

The Brits can't have another Referendum about Brexit, but by now there must be a dawning realisation with the negotiating team about the futility of the process against the already dwindling time-frame.

Parliament will stagger on for a few more days but then hits summer recess. I'll be watching to see how much time Davis, Fox and the others spend doing actual Brexit things during the gap. No-one will be able to resist playing games leading up to the September conference season.

Most of Britain doesn't even notice all of this stuff; Game of Thrones has restarted and there's a new Doctor Who, as well as loads of sport to watch.

Meanwhile the UK is doing all kinds of irreversible things with no-one even tacitly at the wheel.

Corbyn's lot should bite the bullet on the 52:48, declare reckless endangerment of the country citing Cameron, Osborne, May, Johnson and Gove and put a stop to the madness.

I expect I'll return to this theme from time to time. I can't help it.

Monday 17 July 2017

finding my jetpack, oh okay, jetty

We've left the temporary barn now, moving instead to the temporary apartment close to the jetty. It wasn't very far, although the introduction of a ferry into the journey added a whole extra element.

And it was one of those ferries where the cars travel on one boat and another one alongside is used to pull it through the water and steer it into the right place.

Then to find the actual apartment, which is part of the recent series involving the shack in the wood and the barn with the alpacas. This one has a telescope, which is quite handy for looking at the steam trains along the jetty.

For a Monday morning, the train seemed very popular, and once I noticed it, I was able to get from the apartment to the trackside in good time to take a picture or two.

It also gave me a chance to discover the shortcut from the apartment to the jetty, which is all of two minutes away.

Not to mention the various other ferries that seem to ply the river. I'd better plan a route using some of them over the next few days.

Sunday 16 July 2017

tap turns on the water #CCS #SS7 #nothingtosee

Like a series of Homeland, Breaking Bad or House of Cards, I'm finding the the ongoing White House saga a bit too suitable for binge viewing.

One of Trump's old mentors, the rather unsavoury lawyer Roy Cohn, gave advice to Trump along the lines of 'Never leave a paper trail.' Other advice included the formula 'Attack, counterattack and never apologise.'

Paul Manaport, Trump's one-time campaign manager was also good at the 'no paper trail' idea.

That certainly seems to be the case, along with the Cohn formula.

Ironic then, if true, that Manaport's phone was subject to FBI surveillance.

An old 1975 phone routing protocol called Common Channel Signalling (CCS) is still used today as the basis of phone call interception, by re-routing the call (e.g. to a surveillance desk) and then onwards to its real destination. The protocol is supposed to be used for roaming and mast handovers, but the Americans with their Plain Old Telephone Service can also use it for wiretapping.

Now, there's a small group of peopler alleged to have had this wiretapping switched on Manaport ~(frequently at Trump meetings), James Comey (who Trump sacked from leading the FBI) who asked for it to be enabled on his own work phone and (oo-er, via Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

What I can't understand, however, is that if this was true, then where are all the recordings? The basic use of CCS-SS7 can TRACK a phone, the more extensive use would provide fuller surveillance, from which there should thus be recordings.

For Comey, I can understand if there's nothing forthcoming. He's ex-FBI and also writing a show-and- tell book. For Kislyak, it could be immensely embarrassing to be seen to be bugging a foreign diplomat. Manaport could be fair game, but there's nothing in the open.

So, given the scrabble to go to the meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and the lack of published files, it somehow suggests that Donny Junior's team were still short of proper information related to ways to assist their election prospects?

The complexities of this all require a proper flow chart or detective crazy wall to join things together.

Add in the curious Trump server (trump-email.com) which seemed to spend most of its life chatting to Alfa Bank in Russia and we start to have quite a three dimensional crossword. Of course, the investigations themselves are now polluting the findings. That server was spammed heavily just before it was taken down, which has helped to cover the tracks.

Incidentally, the server is back online now, but gives out droll error messages, presumably whilst monitoring who has taken a peek at it.

And now I speculate slightly. A combination of, say, a profiling database and a DNC campaign database would make a great start for who to influence. Ring any bells? That huge Facebook hack, plus the DNC database theft? But who to analyse it all? Trump's strategist Steve Bannon is a friend of Cambridge Analytica who could offer such services and - wait- are owned by Alfa Bank.

In the other direction such a server could provide access to funds (suitably laundered) which could then be used, say, by a botnet to create messages to those targeted voters.

I'd suppose I'd base the botnet in Russia although I could offshore it to say, Florida, for the irony.

And to keep things dramatic, Trump Junior has now retained Alan Futerfas as his attorney. "He's a good kid," as Trump Senior describes his 39 year old son, whilst helping him obtain the same veteran New York criminal defence attorney used by mafia crime families.

But. No tapes, no papers, no story?

Here's CCS playing 'tap turns on the water, See the water flow. Acorn makes a forest, see the forest grow.

Saturday 15 July 2017


An incidental feature of the temporary barn where we are staying is the range of bugs that appear inside from time to time. Butterflies, moths and an occasional bumblebee.

The bumblebees don't seem to very good at Velux windows. They can fly up to them but somehow try to push the glass instead of simple dodging out around the edges.

It's like an unseen force trapping them until we oblige by using a long stick to help pilot them back outside.

There's a similar unseen force pushing down on that Donny Junior character at the moment. I'll admit a certain fascination because of the way the 'information' is trickling out in stages. First Donny Junior didn't remember the Russian intel meeting which took place on 6 June 2016. Then he remembered it was with the Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya who didn't provide any information. It initially sounded like a private meeting. The later versions are now putting seven people in the room.

They include Jared Kuschner and Paul Manaport, but are now also beginning to show the presence of the casually attired Rinat Akhmetshin the 'alleged' ex Russian counterintelligence GRU agent who operates as a Washington lobbyist with links to the Fusion GPS pro-Russia group. Add Natalia'a translator and we get to seven.

There's also mention now of the the paperwork that Veselnitskaya is said to have handed to Donny Junior. That isn't coming from Donny however, its coming from Akhmetshin, who has decided to break cover on the whole situation.

It is supposed to include a printed out dossier of payments related to Democratic party intelligence leakage. Akhmetshin is even showing up on Wikipedia now, although it's not clear how long that will last because there's already a wiki note debating deletion of the page. I'm guessing it won't be long before the American administration tries to cover er tracks on Akhmentshin's modus operandi, not least because they would consider him to be a foreign agent engaged in lobbying. There's a US restriction own this through a declaration known as FARA. Although, confusingly, it also appears that Akhmentshin nowadays has US citizenship.

The difference between the trapped bumblebee and Donny Junior seems to be one of intent. The hapless bee keeps doing the same thing until the stick appears to help guide a route. For Don Jnr, the approach seems to be to try many different stories, even as a stick approaches.

Friday 14 July 2017

sometimes a real map is easier

We've a handy Ordnance Survey map pinned to the wall in the temporary barn. It's useful for looking at various routes around this area, with its filigree of tiny lanes, often barely a single car width.

If I had a bicycle with me I'm sure I'd be using the paper map for planning, because sometimes an OS 1:50000 can reveal things that are harder to spot on Google. Add to that the slow broadband here and the use of the map is a no-brainer.

Yesterday I passed a cyclist pushing his bicycle up a very steep hill. It was a long uphill drag with grasses swaying into the middle of the single track road.

The single and double chevrons and the contours of the map become a helpful aid for planning the best routes. Having driven several miles erroneously along an unmetalled surface I even resorted to a phone call to work out the best way back.

My sat-nav is usually pretty good, and a friend of mine even remarked that it had found a clever way through to a particular village - the kind of route that only a local would take. I'd amend that for some of the roads 'a local with nerves of steel'.

However, we are already noticing that some of the once-thought thin roads now seem considerably wider. As we routinely drive past a parked driving school car in a nearby village, we muse about learning to drive around here. I learnt to drive around London, so I guess it's six of one and half a dozen of the other.

What I do know is that we'll be blending a mix of urban, country and seaside once we get re-united with all of our stuff, some 40 miles to the north east.

Thursday 13 July 2017

move along, no dons here

Somebody told me there’s a trail of Russian dealings literally right at Mr Trump's feet.

They said that it started when, back in 1987, a Russian bought five of Trump’s condos in Trump Tower in one go. He was a Russian named David Bogatin and worked for some Russian oligarchs.

Suspecting fake news, I looked it up. It turned out to be true and Mr Trump was even at the deal closure in person. Now it all happened when the old Soviet Union had broken apart and the Russian mafia were taking their rake-offs from Russian state companies, like oil and transport.

They needed somewhere to park money as well as a way to launder it. Trump was one of the first to permit confidential buyers of his building assets. He wouldn't know anything about the other back-story.

Curiously, it is also said that the same Bogatin was later convicted as a gasoline bootlegger. I checked this too and and indeed the FBI did take back his five condos which were being used both to hide assets and from money laundering. Oh well, we live and learn.

I remember times in Russia when I’d see the small scale end of the gasoline bootlegging, with literally trestle tables piled with cheap fuel on sale in the street.

Now to keep things interesting, it turns out that Bogatin’s brother was also dicey and part of a $150m stock scam, working for none other than Semion Mogilevich, a tip-top Russian mobster, at the time expanding his empire in New York.

There’s no direct connection to Trump in any of this, of course. If he happened to sell some condos to a Russian mobster, it could just as easily have been someone else making the deal.

Something similar emerged when Trump Tower then became the host for another Russian mobster. This time Vyachelsav Ivankov set up as Moglivich's enforcer in another anonymous condo in the Tower.

Fair enough, but that’s not all. It turns out that the entire floor below Trump became used for illicit gambling and money laundering. Eventually the FBI raided it. Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, ran this operation and the FBI identified him as another Russian mobster linked with Semion Mogilevich.

Just because it's the floor below Trump's in one of his towers doesn't prove any link.

It's about now that Alexander Litvinenko, pops up. He’s the Russian intelligence agent who defected to London and was murdered by allegedly Kremlin agents with tea laced with radioactive polonium. I strongly remember this because I was one of the people British Airways called up for having used the same plane seat that Litvinenko had used. The relevant piece here is that Litvinenko linked Mogilevich with Putin, saying they had a good relationship since around 1994.

So now it's three times there's been a Russian mobster using Trump's tower to conduct business and each time there's a link an FBI most wanted mobster who is also a good relation of Putin.

I know, it's all circumstantial and coincidental. It’s just unfortunate that Moglevich’s name comes up in the background of Trump deals. Surely these mobsters are just using Trump’s organisation as an unwitting patsy? And treating Trump property as a kind of home away from home?

The same probably for Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, which was fined for money laundering under the auspices of Vyachelsav Ivankov. It was the biggest fine to that date, some $10 million, but could almost be regarded as a cost of doing business to the mobsters. Worse was Ivankov’s fate later, being gunned down in Moscow.

Oblivious to all of this, Trump's own business fortunes were struggling. At the end of the 1990s he owed billions of dollars and created that famous personal guarantee deficit of around $900 million, which became the basis of his ongoing tax write-downs "Because I'm smart", as he put it.

It was at the same time that Russia’s economy nose-dived and the oligarchs all needed to move money fast. A particular type of recipient became various lumps of Trump real estate, via Russian buyers and shell companies, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

It’s all circumstantial and just unfortunate that these things have been happening around Trump’s properties.

And I doubt Trump even knows anything about any of it. Oh No. Very No.

Wednesday 12 July 2017

don & co?

That Trump/Russia/Election story is one where I'm thinking some of Trump's old faux-buddiness may have backfired. Like when he was pretending to know Putin before they's actually met.

It's Don Trump Jr that has let the Outlook out of the laptop, with his 4 page email release. To be honest, I found its contents mainly a disappointment, filled with dreary meeting time rescheduling. No wonder Don Jr has the nickname Fredo, like the problematic Corleone son in the Godfather.

I can understand the main point that there was ostensibly an offer from Russia to dish some dirt on Hilary Clinton to the Trumps, and that Donny Junior, Jared Kuschner and Paul Manafort were only too pleased to hear all about it in a meeting. Naughty naughty, getting a foreign power involved in the American election. Naughty, naughty, naughty, not ever mentioning it to (for example) the FBI.

It begs the question about how many other inconvenient facts are lightly buried in the current US president's dynasty,

Unpick more of the story and it becomes a desperate scrabble for pre-election information. Firstly, when Trump was bragging about his link to Putin during the election campaign, it was clearly made-up. A false fact; what's that usually called? oh yes, a lie.

Trump did have a link to Russia through his sleazy Miss Universe contest, which was staged in Moscow. His link included Aras Algarov, the property billionaire with whom Trump was discussing a Moscow Trump Tower. The link also featured Algarov's son, a wannabe pop star called Emin. Oh yes, Trump is in one of the pop videos.

All of this leads around to the hustler promoter working for Emin Algarov, a vodka-powered Fred Flintstone looking Brit named Robert Goldstone. He suggested that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya could help the Trumps, but was probably operating at both ends of the fixer meeting.

Goldstone implied that Veselnitskaya had damaging information. He also implied that she was linked to the Russian attorney general (not true). TIt all looks like meeting bait and certainly worked when Veselnitskaya turned up at Trump Tower.

Now there's some other murkiness here, because of a related case involving Veselnitskya and a real estate tax fraud uncovered by accountant Sergei Magnitsky. He was locked up by the powerful people he accused of the fraud and then mysteriously died in prison.

It triggered a bunch of US sanctions against Russia because of the way Russian corruption appeared to be swept under the carpet. That's when Putin got involved, responding with a cessation of US adoption of Russian children.

What I get from just this part of the story (yep, there's more) is that Trump and family are not particularly choosy about the folk they consort with in Russia. They're also not that bothered about disclosure when they sail close to the wind.

Let's wait for the next piece when Washington based Rinat Akhmetshin pops up. Supposedly a former member of the Russian military intelligence services (GRU) and seemingly operating a business lobbying on behalf of Russian oligarchs in Washington.

The ironic part is that so far it really doesn't show any direct Trump link to Putin, nor real inroads to direct Russian power, but yet a kind of reflexive desperation by trumpites in their actions.

Maybe that will change when the towering stories of David Bogatin and Semion Mogilevich resurface?

And just peeking at one of the money laundering cases such as Case 1:13-cv-06326-TPG Document 381 Filed 10/23/15 (there's several) is like a glimpse into a first draft script for a Hollywood movie.

Tuesday 11 July 2017

terraforming for beginners

We've still another week or so in this barn, before we temporarily move to the railway terminus by the ferry. That'll only be for a few days because we are now on the latter stages of our building project.

I say that advisedly because today we've seen a huge down pour of rain. I haven't quite mastered the roof windows here and had them tipped just too far acting as mini chutes to let the weather cascade inside.

As for the journey to London. We are further away here, but there's some fast trains on whose route we've so far made four journeys. Even the Sunday service seems okay, although the local station doesn't open its catering until 8 am.

I'm less sure about some of the roads around these here parts. My car has those sensor beeper things and driving around many of the lanes they start beeping as if to say I'm too close to the edge. Friends with longer presence in the area tell me it's normal and that most cars have a switch to turn them off.

I'm still a long way from mastery of reversing that many around here seem to manage. They glance backward and then reverse at speeds I'd consider fast even when driving forward. It is a needed skill with all of the single track lanes. Of course, this is a consequence of us choosing temporary places away from it all. Roads and travelling should be far more straightforward in a few weeks.

We've also been watching the developments as the land around our planned destination is being remodelled by the Megaratheans. Slartibartfast would be pleased with the evolving results. There'll be a couple of new ponds and a diversion of the main stream. It's all looking rather brown at the moment, but will soon become a pleasant green colour, with added paths and foliage.

All part of a plan.

Monday 10 July 2017

a proper eton mess

Well someone has to eat our ad-hoc and barn-prepared pudding.

The slow wifi means that its taking longer to get the news here. I'm seeing that elsewhere people are asking about a leadership election for the Conservatives. The spokespeople are all saying "No" although based upon prior 'definitive' statements, they might as well save the electricity and ink.

So cynically, just before Parliament adjourns for their extensive summer holidays, we get the vote for the great Repeal Bill. Not since Magna Carta did we get something quite so vast. A kind of negatively framed Summa Carta Libertatum to switch all of the EU legislation back to UK, subject to its inevitable illumination with twinkling costs and changes from numerous expensive experts.

Not forgetting that £8bn-£10bn per year that UK currently contributes to EU, which they won't give up without a significant fight.

Mrs Maybe is now making overtures to other parties for consultations, but mainly as a way to shove legislation through when some of her own party are iffy about what is happening. Done differently, this could have been a thoughtful way to handle Brexit, but now it comes across as desperate measures.

May's own leitmotif is off key, stuck in a groove, like a defective android. Strong and Stable/No deal better than a bad deal/unborn chicken voices in my head, etc.

That's the problem with recent actions. They say one thing but then scrabble for any nearby straw to clutch.

Everything is as wobbly as a layered trifle that failed.

Some ingredients are being rescued but others just left to sink to the bottom. Instead of red lines we're seeing pink blancmange.

The uncertainties provide good cover in the negotiation because no-one will be able to tell the full outcome, particularly if a couple of maraschino cherries are divertingly placed on top of what will probably be renamed as an Eton mess.

Post Referendum and the recent election, we should have been able to see a way for UK Parliament to reinvent itself. Some chance. Even the startup sequence was delayed and fusty. The old party system is failing. The self-interested cooks are too busy arguing about the free booze to really worry about recipe. Some mould-breaking is required, perhaps from the newer entrants.

And alongside, in walk the Americans with a very, very big Trumpian offer. Very big. What's that old saying? If it looks to good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

Friday 7 July 2017

misdirection and dismemberment

That new Polly Toynbee/David Walker book about the state we're in makes for interesting reading.

I'd add an extra dynamic now, whilst the conjuror's art of misdirection is being applied alongside a tory ideology.

The misdirection comes from the lies of the Referendum campaign and simplified bullet points of the recent election. Now that a temporary parliament has been formed, we can expect the main stories (notwithstanding recent major tragedies and incidents) to be about the Brussels shenanigans.

Behind it all we have a few statistics indicative of the ideologue-led agendas running quietly behind the scenes. We could regard the UK as a system, which runs with a state budget of around £772 billion over a year. It is currently spending about £56bn more than it raises.

It was this overspending figure that Osborne was trying to reduce to zero and then to start to pay back the national debt. The excuse was about prior overspends, but the real reason for a temporary hike of the figure to £156 bn was the bail-out of the banks after their disgraceful and largely unpunished casino antics.

Osborne wouldn't liken the UK debt to a household borrowing for a house. But there's a clear point to be made around a mortgage. You don't have to pay it all back in one go and sometimes the cost of money is actually quite reasonable. Those with a doctrinal dismemberment agenda can step around this thinking to one of just reduction of the size of the state.

I can think of people like Osborne/Oliver Letwin/Cameron/Gove who are all a part of this small state agenda. Written into their thinking is the Tory target to reduce the state from its 1997 size of 45% past its current 39% down to 36% by 2021. Easy headlines for at least a few of the (increasingly outdated) newspapers. Much more about 'me now' taxation rather than 'we together' as a continuum.

I've just watched that docudrama about the tawdry Theresa vs Boris inner circle boys' club voting for their leader last year. May was portrayed as a surprisingly opinionated, directive person, compared with what we've seen in the few rare glimpses of her when not running to a robotic script.

If she is as aware as portrayed, then she'd be another one to add to that 'small state' grouping.

Where it all becomes damaging is that the headlines of state attack are so easy to write. Bloated mandarin departments? Why, yes, Minister, etc.

So Brexit generates the chance to rewrite everything, and it is provided to the henchos of the government departments, because those actual departments lack resource, skill, scale or whatever. So in step the parastatal organisations from the Big Four and beyond. Lobbied-up friends of the Cabinet. They get paid whatever happens and can create shedloads of interns to red-ink everything. Hoteliers at the gold rush.

It becomes activity rather than results and is a large outcome from the front-line negotiations.

A couple more numbers. The UK GDP is around £1,943 bn, with the total national debt at £1,638 bn so we can see that currently the UK runs at 84% National Debt as percentage of GDP. The population continues to rise, and at 65.8 million in late 2016, it has added 7.6 million over the last 20 years.

The question becomes whether a larger state needs more investment to run properly? I'd say it does. That's another part of the misdirection of the citizens by politicians. As well as using the parastatals to analyse and organise for the government departments, increasingly these helpers also run and award the contacts for the stuff that needs to get done.

This is further diffusion of the State into private companies. Who runs the systems that the biggest departments use? Welfare? Health? even parts of the tax system?

Get closer to the public's awareness and spot other organisations that became private. BT. Utilities. Railways. Most of London's transport. Some of these haven't gone too well.

There's a big element of fat cattery around many of these systems. They're also increasingly run by offshore interests.

Quick examples of de-stating include Arriva (German Deutsche Bahn) buses and trains nationwide, non emergency ambulances. Arvarto (German) local taxation and welfare, waste management. NHS already uses VirginCare and Care UK as well as stock market listed multinationals including UnitedHealth Group, Acadia Healthcare, Circle, Capita and Interserve.

UK Power Networks is owned by Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings,40%, Power Assets Holdings (Hong Kong), 40%, and The Li Ka Shing Foundation, 20%. That's only one of the UK power networks, but includes what was once known as the London Electricity Board, the Eastern Electricity Board and the South Eastern Electricity Board.

The unbundling occurs everywhere and the remaining big targeted sections of the pie chart comprise Pensions, Welfare, Education and Health.

It brings in the next point, which is euphemistically referred to as 'externalities'. That's the stuff that operates alongside the service or product and becomes an area for cold-hearted spreadsheet action. Examples include training, pension plans, pollution management, social costs of closures.

So it'll be time to watch the left hand whilst the right hand is waving around, although unfortunately recent evidence suggests it is easier to understand the illusion.

Tuesday 4 July 2017


So we've 'upped sticks' from the woods to move to the barn.

We have a rotating cast of players here, also joined by livestock ranging from chickens to alpacas. The alpacas have pointy ears whereas llamas are the ones with the banana-shaped ears if you're ever not quite sure what's in the field.

I'm told that jinksy llamas also make good guard animals for a herd of say, sheep, whilst alpaca are relatively timid.

I'm also one fence short of the herd here, so although the friendly dog comes around whenever the gate is left open, the rarer livestock are kept contained.

Our friendly weather folk have told us there will be thunderstorms today, but I'm mainly seeing the clear blue skies and sunshine. Just right for sitting on the grass for a leisurely read.

Sunday 2 July 2017

lazing on a sunny afternoon

Still swanning around in the forest, although tomorrow morning it's time to move on from the shack to a barn. It's a fair distance away and I'm already mostly packed ready for the journey.

This afternoon deserves some sunny downtime, and maybe even a trip to a nearby pub.

Saturday 1 July 2017

a very loud noise in the woods

Even in this temporary home in the woods there's obvious signs of adjacent civilisation. None so dramatic as the sound of a flight of jet planes passing by at low altitude.

I'm used to hearing planes and helicopters going about their business, but on Thursday afternoon it was different because the initial low sound just kept getting louder and louder.


I looked around the sky but couldn't see anything. I wondered why a jet plane had been allowed to fly so low.

Then, a few minutes later I heard a similar more distant sound, increasing in volume. I looked up to my right just in time to see a diamond grouping of planes banking in a curve which would disappear behind me.

This time I was aware that the sound level stayed constant and I realised that they must be turning behind me in a loop.

Sure enough, another ten seconds and I saw a block of tightly formed planes zoom through a hole in the trees and then a few seconds later a second smaller grouping.

This time I could see the planes clearly. The Red Arrows, which I assumed were at the end of a circuit from a display. No smoke trails, so it must have been the outer reaches.

I checked their calendar. They should be at Goodwood, but apparently the cloud cover was too low. Perhaps this was a substitute fly-past? Still a wow-inducing experience. They should be flying past again today in about ten minutes. This time I'll be prepared.

*Update: They just flew past on the way to their show, but were above the clouds.