‘Yes, we also noticed that amazing view of sixty Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs flying in perfect formation at five thousand feet’!
One of my pet hates are the F.O.B.T. (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals ) Machines, and their pernicious presence in betting shops up and down this once-pleasant land of ours. The Christian Institute echoes my concerns, and with the capability to allow a gambler with a credit card, together with an unshaken belief that the next spin will be ‘the one’ is always there, the addicts can, and do, lose eye-watering amounts of cash in a single session. The simple truth about gambling machines, mechanical (old school) or modern electronic types is that there is a bias, set into the very basic layout of the machinery’s innards, that the House always wins. A speedy review of the majors in gambling provide an interesting statistic, with the leader, William Hill, booking a massive $2.17 billions. Obviously the UK’s proportion of those earnings is smaller, but still substantial, and the tax take to HMRC is again, substantial.
I once worked in the commissioning phase of a Casino, and I can state, categorically, that the machines are as fixed as expected, the odds are set, and the House always wins. The manner in which this was shown was the view of three strong-armed casino staff members using flattened paddles, to wedge open an already crushed safe interior, stuffed with wads of cash so that ever more wedges of bundled notes could be shoved in, until the armoured bank truck appeared on the Monday morning, complete with armed escort, to transport the House winnings to the safety of a bank vault. But, as I was writing about a Government, our Government; I digress!
There has been, for years, ever since the lunacies of not only loosening the Gambling Law belt, we saw the surrender to the Gambling Companies, the vast expansion of casinos, and later the speedy avalanche both of online gambling; and the steady advance of these machines which hold a hook out, with a metaphorical carrot of winning based on the really silly idea of “It’ll be my turn on the very next spin”. My headline stated ‘How not to run a Government’ and I shall now demonstrate that very thesis.
With headlines such as “Gamblers in poorest constituencies are spending the most money” and “William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Paddy Power collectively making more than £1 billion a year from the machines.”, the Government was warned, years ago, that the scourge of the F.O.B.T.s was becoming ever larger, and that they should actively place exemplary measures in place to protect those who simply cannot protect themselves. So what did this truly caring Government do? They held a series of Committee meetings, with that same committee packed with MP’s who sat comfortably in the back pockets of the gambling companies, and decided to do: absolutely nothing! They then, stung by criticism from all quarters, decided to hold a Consultation; and asked, well, ‘What do you reckon? Should we drop the £100.00 top limit to £2.00; oh and what about Bingo prizes?’
They have the ability to Legislate, right now, and ban all those pernicious F.O.B.T. pieces of electronic excrescence from anywhere within the borders of the U.K.. But will they? Just think of all that lovely cash flowing towards the HMRC coffers which the Government must forgo if those machines are banned. And then you will see the redundancy notices handed out to the betting shop employees, who supervised, but never, ever warned a single punter that maybe he should quit, and cut his losses!
The Labour surrender was blessed by the Tories, and the tax take was too good to ignore!
Don’t get me wrong, I pay the ‘Stupid Tax’ alongside millions of others, but once a week, £2.50 is not exactly placing me on skid row, or anywhere near it.
I am, myself, speaking in purely personal terms, not a great fan of the Masons. I dislike the very idea of a secret society, or secret grouping of any type or character. The specific statement regarding Masons is that they might be a purely social club operation, made special by their peculiar regalia, oaths of loyalty and bonds of friendship; with a truly impressive operation in charitable endeavours; but they do tend to choose very carefully whom they ‘raise up’ . The Mason’s demur from the title of Secret Society; rather stating that they are a Society with Secrets. As the old saying goes, ‘You pays your money; etc.’ There is, however, the slimmest of chances that one Mason may seek to gain advantage in one particular area of British life, by appealing to another Mason for assistance above that which would normally be made available. The area is, of course, service as a policeman.
It is a fact that, certainly in the last three decades, some expose՝s or campaigns were published by senior policemen who, for one reason or another, felt they had been overlooked for promotion because of Masonic favouritism during the selection process. Another problem, ludicrous to me because of the attitude that states ‘there must be more black policemen because of the need for diversity’, is being blocked by Masonic policemen. A speedy check on certain BAME officers given advanced promotion would seem to stop that ‘diversity’ attitude in its tracks. A listing of serving police officers has long been mooted, but has been denied on the grounds of ‘Privacy’ and the Human Rights Act.
I believe that there remains a slim chance that, through a Lodge membership, a policeman, senior or junior, may be adjacent to, or friendly with, criminals who are also members, and obviously would be a prime target for corrupt activities. Because of this slim possibility, I believe that Police Staff, of whatever rank, should forebear the comradeship of the Lodge until they retire; that way, even the slightest whiff of impropriety could and should be disavowed.
Rape is an ugly word for a truly ugly crime. Suspects are usually charged with sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person’s consent. If the charge is made in a timely fashion, photographic evidence of clothing, bruising and other more intimate tests; with DNA samples available, taken, tested and categorised; along with tests taken on the suspect; the evidence alone is usually enough to convict: it no longer becomes a “he said; she said” category, and becomes a solid case, placed by trained police officers before the Crown Prosecution Service; who will, take the case through to trial. The cases become fuzzier, and more difficult to prove, when any length if time has elapsed, forensic evidence is no longer available, (Showering, bathing, underwear and clothing being necessarily changed, washed etc.) and it all comes down to the demeanour and statements of the suspect and his accuser, the wronged woman during the trial; and the impact of the evidence upon the jury.
But, it must be argued, what happens if there is a ‘culture’ of “We must believe her; if she says ‘Rape’, it must be Rape; lets throw the book at this scumbag, lock him up and throw away the key”? What happens if there is either a selective search through statements made on, say FaceBook; or even worse, if the accuser gives the police officer an ‘Edited’ series of messages, and that same police officer is either too dumb, too lazy, too ignorant or TOO COMPLICIT to check that she hasn’t taken out any or many incriminating messages which would ruin her case and charge of Rape against the male suspect.
The case goes to trial, the Suspect pleads ‘Not Guilty’, confident that the train of messaging will bear out his story that the sex was both consensual and welcomed; and then the boom is dropped on his head by the prosecuting barrister; when the ‘Abridged’ series of messages is presented to the Jury. When he protests, the prosecution barrister got angrier and louder and kept saying, “I put it to you that you raped this girl and now you’re lying to this court.”. Found to be Guilty as Charged, he was sentenced to 4 ½ years for Rape.
After a chance conversation with another inmate, he got his sister-in-law to log in to his Facebook account, and she discovered the whole series of messages still existing in digital form. When she showed the Facebook exchange to the officer in charge of the investigation, he said: ‘How did you know how to find the messages and we didn’t?’ I reckon the term ‘Pig-ignorant’ would suffice.
But you have not read the worst, most damning part of this story; even after the Defence and Prosecution were made aware of the total collapse of the evidence, he had to wait another two years in jail before release whilst his Appeal was being prepared. And his accuser? She is still free, still retains her anonymity;, and as far as is known, has not been charged with perjury, withholding evidence, or perverting the course of justice.
Two other Rape cases have fallen apart in the past few weeks, both where evidence had simply not been revealed, as is required by Law, to the Defence. The question which must be asked? Is there a shady pattern being revealed, case by case: or is this just really bad work by the fuzz?
A couple of weeks back, I watched a documentary about a musician; a cellist, and his family. But this was no ordinary musician, and certainly no ordinary family. It was a BBC documentary, so you have to register to watch something you have already paid for; and you have to state that you are a licence payer; but that’s just the bloody BBC all over! But, as usual, I digress.
The film covered the life of a most unusual family based in Nottingham, as all the siblings, from a six-year-old to a 20 year-old sister who holds the Elton John scholarship at the Royal Academy; all are both talented and dedicated to music; and the parents, whilst not being musically talented themselves, give unstingly of their time and family cash, to improve the prospects of their brood. The unusual bit about this family is, of course, that they are black. Whilst the plethora of black musicians goes unremarked, less than 5% of classical musicians are from ethnic minorities, certainly in Great Britain. But the shining star of this tiny constellation called the Kannae-Masons is Sheku; a young man, and a profoundly gifted cellist who won, aged 17, the BBC Young Musician of the Year last summer, the first black musician ever to do so. The film showed the way in which this large family works, somewhat like a machine turning gear wheels in harmony, as they go to school, or equally to get on the train on a Saturday morning to travel 200 miles to attend the Junior Royal Academy of Music.
Some may say that I write of this particular family because of my own long-time fascination and love of all things music of a classical persuasion; but I am afraid not. If I may explain. Intermingled with interviews and dialogue within this talented family were interviews and statements from a very different category of musician; and this one comes with her own loud megaphone aimed at, Black Identity, whatever that is supposed to be. Her name was Chi-Chi Nwanoku, the allegedly charismatic half-Nigerian double bass player who founded the Chineke! Orchestra, which comprises black and ethnic minority musicians from several countries. Her stated philosophy is to only feature black and/or ethnic minority musicians in her orchestra. Fair enough, if she is pushing her own philosophies with her own cash; but somehow I reckon she is on shaky ground if she pleads for funding from private or public sources including the terms B.A.M.E only, as I reckon that might just be skirting the Law.
My judgement of what a person, man or woman, does is quite simple; is he or she good at what he or she does. The colour of his or her skin has no part, and should have no part; in the process. So why this deliberate statement that ‘we are good, and we are black’? This talented ; no, not only talented, but approaching genius level musician is being drawn into a project which can only result in damage, both to him and to music, both classical and every other genre. The fact that the family is black and talented is, and should always be; irrelevant. If they find an audience for their music, both as individuals or as part of a larger group, they will be judged on their music, not for any sense of ‘Diversity’ box-ticking, or anything else. Has anyone bought a CD of Jacqueline Du Pre’s Cello playing because she was blonde, white and ethereally beautiful? Of course they haven’t; they bought that recording because of her playing, because she played as if an angel had entered her very soul, as if the music calls through the reverberations of the cello through which she still speaks, even though so sadly dead these many years. The colour of her skin means and states absolutely nothing, as it should with the rare and raw talent of Sheku Kannae-Masons.
If you believe that Christ was born in Bethlehem some two millenia ago, if you believe that He was and Is the Saviour of the world, tomorrow is the day set aside to welcome Him to his birthday. Whether you are Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Episcopalian, but certainly Christian across the globe this day; tomorrow you celebrate the Commencement of a journey which ends in first the squalor of a rigged trial, the sombre majesty of a Crucifixion, the realisation of a Roman Centurion that this was no ordinary criminal; and the triumph of Easter.
I took this photo yesterday afternoon at home, as the pix I took of the clouds over the supermarket car park, taken by a fairly crappy mobile phone camera, just did not do the majesty, beauty; indeed glory of a winter’s sunset. But as I took those pix, I stopped and considered what was all the hurry and bustle of the supermarket crammed, indeed heaving, with late shoppers intent on filling every last desire on their shopping lists, about? No-one stopped, as I did, and gazed at the glory which spread across the heavens. Was all this majesty placed there to remind us of the forthcoming birthday of the King of Kings: or was it a fortuitous coincidence of cirrostratus and alto-cumulus clouds, laden with moisture, which caught and reflected those golden-red rays of a winter sun? Did an all-encompassing Supreme Being decide that, across County Durham, for a few magical minutes, the glory that was Heaven be reflected across a Tesco carpark?
Or was it that, in that same glory of clouds; a reminder that that same Supreme Being is telling us that no politician alive had a hand in that glory, no politician who continually tells us that the Weather can be changed with Our Cash, no politician whose only self-imposed task is to get re-elected, and continually suckle at the public teat as they have done for decades in the past, and hopes to do so into the future?
I wish all my readers a Happy Christmas, free from worry, from want, and hopefully, in good health, both physical and mental, in the New Year to come.
Baroness Shami Chakrabati (title awarded for services ((in every sense of the word)) to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party) was being asked on BBC Today about the standards for police and the Crown Prosecution Service. As I normally give her a rather grudging respect, precisely because she is a lawyer, and rather a good one as well; I was expecting a straight answer to a straight question, which was whether the three rape cases whose prosecutions fell apart after late disclosure of evidence to the defence team was a ‘one-off’; or whether they were just the tip of a wider, national problem. Her reply, which should have been either the police were at fault in not doing their jobs correctly in the three cases under review; or there was a wider problem, which had to be addressed: was in fact a long, drawn-out splurge about ‘THE KUTZ’, as well as ‘OSSTERITY, LIKE’, and the awful way that the Police, as well as the C.P.S. are struggling with an overload of work because they aren’t getting enough money, and not enough people to do the work: and how awful the Tories are!’
Well, I’m sorry, Dame Shazzam, but you lost my attention after the first syllables of ‘THE KUTZ’; which is a pity, because you had some pretty good points when you were still an honest individual, working for Liberty, ; instead of a shameless shill for Corbyn’s Commies and Lefty radicals.
Shame about that; pet!
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