Personal and undiluted views
Winnifrith Family

1583 days ago

Saying Goodbye to my father...but, thank God, that was only a dress rehearsal: Good News from Warwick Hospital

The operation was set to start at noon so I headed in to see my father for quarter past eleven. In he wandered on his crutches wearing the most ridiculous surgical stockings and dressing gown. His garb invited ridicule but given the gravity of what was to happen I held back. 

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1641 days ago

Anelion - the name explained and my sister's panda

As you know, I head off soon for Greece and will be making a pilgrimage to the tiny village of Anelion in the snow covered Pindus mountains of Northern Greece. The aim is to see if my father's oldest Greek friend, Mike the Vlach, is still with us, as I explained here.

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1862 days ago

Visit to Paddy Leigh Fermor's House part 3 - My father holds Court

And so our party finally made it through the large blue door which marks the entrance to the house that Paddy built in Kardamili. Turning right along a terrace open on one side we found ourselves with the rest of the group in the library. This was all rather different from the Greek Hovel.

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1940 days ago

Happy Birthday Dad I've bought you a certificate to stop global warming

My two sisters are a politically correct duo with a tendency to be rather earnest. Both work in the public sector and are married to half Germans - the Krauts. It is fair to say that we take a rather different view on more or less everything. Of course we are all united in having one father who turns 78 today. Happy Birthday Dad.

My younger sister in particular has "form" when it comes to uber-PC presents. I think it was two years ago that for Christmas she gave her husband

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1949 days ago

Getting a haircut in Greece - helpful tips from my Father

Of course my father's most helpful tip on life is that you only need three socks. Wash one a day in rotation and you will never go wrong. Having three different socks can make the process even more idiot proof. That is not my father's tip, although he is often seen in odd socks, but it is me trying to take this way of living forward. 

Another handy tip from my father is to wait until you are in Greece - or even better Albania - to have your hair cut 

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2244 days ago

My father and I struggle to switch on the TV

It is just Dad and myself here in Shipston right now. My father wishes to watch the news and Dad's Army. Sadly my stepmother has, in the name of progress, bought a new TV. It has two remote controls. My Mrs bought us one with three. And as with her boxes of torture my father and I have now been struggling to get the screen to show anything other than "no signal" for half an hour. 

Bring back the good old days

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2327 days ago

My father and I are sent to purgatory by St Peter – thoughts on the rugby

The great day of reckoning arrives and as I wander along the road towards the Pearly Gates I catch up with my father who with his stick and poorly knee has been making slow progress. We chat and before long we meet up with St Peter.

Inside heaven we can see that it is just like Donegal in the summer. Green, wild but stunning. There is Brian O’Driscoll chatting away amiably with Darina Allen who is cooking up an amazing supper for all. Seamus Heaney is reading poems to Michael Collins. It is a free land. But St Peter shakes his finger and says that my father and I have been found wanting. I think that it is a bit harsh on the Old Man but accept that I have sinned and St Peter ushers us down a little path with a sign marked Purgatory.

As we prepare to enter Purgatory we can hear from inside drunken fools baying about Chariots while other imbeciles belt out the greatest hits of Max Boyce. I feel a tap on the shoulder and it is St Peter.  Fear not he says, suffering the unbearable crowing of both English and Welsh rugby supporters on the same day will not last long. You are only in purgatory for a short while. I smile. But then St Peter adds, it will just feel like eternity.

In the days of my youth

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2351 days ago

Tom Winnifrith snowcast from Greece

Shame on Paul Scott and other folks for thinking Greece was hot in winter. It is freezing. In this podcast I cover the actuality of snowfall in Greece and a few stories of my father, my Great Uncle David Cochrane and my own travels - including today's trek from Athens to the Greek Hovel - in Greece.

The map below might assist you in following what I am talking about. 

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2498 days ago

Paddy Leigh Fermor, The Mani and Kambos

Back in the 1960s my uncle visited the Mani on his first honeymoon. Oddly he and his wife were joined by another couple and within months his wife had run off with the other man. That is an aside. It took my uncle more than two days to get from Athens to the Mani so remote and cut off was the region. 

Here in Kambos the dirt track to Kardamili became a road back in 1965 (two years after that fateful honeymoon), roads south from there were built later. The man who brought this peninsular to the attention of the wider world was Paddy Leigh Fermor, a truly amazing man once described as a mixture of Indiana Jones, James Bond and Gerald Durrell.

Though incredibly clever, Paddy was no academic and so after being expelled from school (issues with a young lady) in 1933 he walked through Europe to Greece. Along the way he noticed that something was not quite right in Germany. When war broken out he signed up immediately and was sent into Greece since he spoke the language fluently. His most heroic exploit was in Crete where – with the partisans – he captured a German general on the North of the island and transported him across Crete to the South where he was lifted off by British Destroyer. The film, based on the episode, has Leigh Fermor played by Dirk Bogarde

In the war Paddy’s code name was Michalis. After the war he stayed on in Greece fighting with the Royalists in the Civil war. He refers to this in his two classic books on Greece

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2523 days ago

Bitten by a Duck in Kardamili Greece as the Mrs laughed loudly

As one leaves the small Mani town of Kardamili the road starts to climb steeply. On the edge of town there are a couple of fish restaurants, some slightly newer housing including the house that Paddy Leigh Fermor built for himself. My family stayed there once as my father knew Paddy – it just happened that this was the one family break to Greece that I did not go on.

Paddy left his house to the Greek State to turn into some sort of writing school. You would have thought that after a lifetime here he would have known better. It is slowly decaying, neglected by a State that, although bankrupt, can still afford to give anyone with a couple of olive trees an annual grant of 500 Euro.

The first of the fish restaurants as one heads up the hill is the favourite of the Mrs and I. The food is great, the wine flows, the waiters are friendly and efficient and the view over the cove below is magnificent.

On one side of the cove is a small working harbour used by fisherman. At night you can see the lights on the boats as they chug slowly home. A jetty provides a breakwater for the waves although nothing much happens o it other than bridal parties posing for photos. At the far end of the cove is a concrete jetty which is totally empty. If you have seen the film Before Midnight the final scene was filmed there as it became a seaside bar for just one night.

And so the other day we wandered down to the cove along a small road with not a human in sight. 

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2663 days ago

The Death of David Cochrane – more details, the snails and a question for my father

I am sitting in a little café in Delphi and have found a 95 year old man to chat to. He offers up two more details on the death of my great uncle David Cochrane in 1931, one of which begs a question for my father.

The first is just on how the body was found in 1932 a year after the death. It seems as if the folks from Desfina were on the mountain collecting snails. It is not just the French who eat l’escargot. And it was on the snail hunt that they found the badly decayed body of David. The consensus here is that he was buried in Delphi in the North East part of the churchyard where there are a small number of protestant graves from the 40s onwards. But as I have described before bones are removed after a while and that appears to have been what happened to those of David. I have checked that part of the yard in detail.

The question for my father is what happened to David’s Camera? It was found with his body and like his other possessions returned to England. Did anyone ever develop the film which would undoubtedly have had footage of his last few days in Desfina and possibly of his last walk? Possibly he was shooting the sort of photos I took two days ago when he slipped and fell.

Over to you Tom Winnifrith Snr…

PS A Young man said that they guy at the town hall in Delphi, who I cannot thank enough for his help, has shared my video with him on facebook. He says “ah you are the man…” If anyone has any more details I guess they know how to get hold of me. For my father who terms the internet Beelzebub, you see..it has some purpose. I will explain to him later what facebook is.

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2664 days ago

A Sad End to the David Cochrane quest – chatting to the priest in Delphi

On my way back from ancient Delphi I climbed the seemingly endless steps to the Church and graveyard here for one last look at the small cluster of protestant stones in the corner. As last time, there was no David. But on my way back to my hotel I bumped into George, owner of the excellent Hotel Pitho and we spotted the priest…in a taverna.

He had been told about me and we chatted. No Church records would have been kept of a non-Orthodox burial and as David was a protestant that meant one dead end.

I am certain that having fallen down the Delphi (not Desfina) side of Mount kirthos/Cochrane he would have been buried here. A letter from the foreign office to the then Sir George Young states that my great grandparents wanted him buried “locally”.

Thus according to Greek tradition his bones would have been removed after a couple of decades but after a while the box in the charnel house would have contained nothing but dust. I asked the priest what happens then? “A hole” said he. So that is it, the last remains of David went down a hole with the dust that was one other residents of the Delphi graveyard. His dust now mingles with the Greek soil.

And so there is nothing to take back from Greece to England. Nothing physical anyway. The photos of Cochrane Mountain and tales of how he is remembered via the mountain, even if fewer and fewer folks know the full story, go back with me. I know that various family members have already seen the photos.  This part of the story is now over. There is little more that can be discovered.

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2664 days ago

Video & Photos: Finding the grave of Great Uncle David Cochrane in Delphi – Part 2

My thanks to the officials in the Town Halls at Delphi and at Desfina today – both have gone out of the way to help me find out more about the death of my Great Uncle David Cochrane here in 1931.

There will be no grave to be found, of that I am now certain. But having a Mountain named after you is a pretty spectacular headstone. Today I stood on the spot from where he fell. And I learned of the last days of his life.

I relay that in the video below with pictures of my day also attached. The warmth and generosity of the Greeks in 1931/2 is matched by the warmth of the people of Delphi and Desfina today. I am keeping a bar owner up late sending this video back to London. But he says it is no problem. “It is an honour to meet a relative of Cochrane… a great man.” I am not sure that David was a great man but his name opens all sorts of doors for me here.

I reflect on some folks back in England in 1932 not with any great warmth.






The Cochrane Trail



The daisies that surround the top of Cochrane Mountain



The view of snow-capped Mount Parnassus from where David Fell



The view of Delphi from where David fell



Ilyas on the rock from where David fell



The drop



The drop again



The drop once more



The Cochrane Observatory

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2666 days ago

Finding the Grave of Great Uncle David Cochrane in Delphi: video 1: an amazing discovery

I have not discovered the grave of my Great Uncle David Cochrane who died here in Greece in April 1931 and whose body was found a year later. But I have trekked up to the cemetery here in Delphi (that burned off a few calories) and have made headway.

And thanks to George, the charming owner of my hotel I have also discovered Cochrane Mountain. In death David is remembered.

All is explained in the video and I attach three pictures as well which I refer to in the video.

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2681 days ago

Yippee – My Passport is Here: Greece beckons

I was starting to panic. My journey to Greece starts next Wednesday when I leave Bristol and until this morning the passport I ordered a few weeks ago had not arrived. Worse still, when I used the Passport Office auto-tracking forms it appeared that our friends in Cardiff had no record of me at all. But the panic is over, a brand new passport has arrived, with no record of my visits to Israel or the USA and so I could now go to Kurdistan to meet Gulf Keystone (GKP) if I wanted to. I don’t.

And so in a week’s time I must kiss goodbye to the cats and head to London. The Mrs joins me on the 3rd for her birthday. Naturally I shall not reveal which birthday it is. But your clues are that it is a round number, she is younger than me and although I thought she was in her late twenties when she first chatted me up by showing me an interesting article in the Guardian, she appears younger than she is.

Then it is UK Investor Show on the 5th, a hangover on the 6th (and a day with the in-laws who are coming to London for the show), supper with Matt Suttcliffe on the 7th, a hangover on the 8th and on the 9th it is off to my beloved Hellas for three and a half weeks of walking, writing and searching for the grave of Great Uncle David Cochrane. And if it is goat milking season I shall naturally be having another go at that too.

I cannot wait. Does anyone know if it is goat milking season or not?

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2691 days ago

Weekly Video Postcard #58 – Great Uncles, Great Rugby, Bob Crow and the deceit of the left edition

Inevitably I start this weekend’s video postcard with the Rugby. I am sure that most of my English based readers were cheering for France yesterday. To my Celtic brethren who were rooting for Ireland – I am sure that you can share my joy. Gosh it was nerve wracking. 

I then move onto the mysteries of my dead Great Uncles. If there is anyone out there who can track down Diana Norman, born 1915 who married (after the death of my Great Uncle Francis) a Mr Caulfield Stoker in 1947 (he then popped his clogs in Guernsey in 1954) I would be grateful. I can find no death certificate for Diana who would be 99 now but for reasons explained in the video and this article I am keen to track her down. 

I then move onto Bob Crow. I celebrate no death. Equally I do not mince my words and Crow screwed the poor working classes and that should be noted rather than simply eulogising Saint Bob.

This is a wider issue: how and why the left systematically keep the working classes poor and that this the main theme of this video.

My weekly financial video covers shareholder activism a major theme of UK Investor Show which is now a day less than three weeks away.  Tickets start to go out tomorrow. If you have not booked please do so at once HERE

You can watch my financial video postcard HERE

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2695 days ago

The Great Uncles in Greek Graves – far more questions than answers

My video postcard this weekend covered my plans to go to Greece after the UK Investor Show to track down the graves of my two great Uncles: Francis and David Cochrane. I think we have now firmly established that Francis is buried in Egypt (contrary to a family myth) where he died on December 21st 1942 from wounds received fighting the Germans. For him the great mystery is the odd circumstances of his marriage.

He married a Diana Norman in Paddington in the late summer of 1938. Apparently the witness at the registry office was the taxi driver. However despite living in Chelsea, two miles from my grandparents and fifteen miles from his parents, he did not tell anyone of his marriage until the summer of 1942 (my Grandmother’s diary confirms this) when, before leaving for Egypt he visited relatives with his bride of four years.

This seems very odd behaviour. Almost as odd is that this is the last time Diana Norman is seen – she had absolutely no contact thereafter with my family. I can find no record of her death so can only assume that she is either still alive (she would now be 99), died abroad or re-married and has died under another name. Investigations continue. My father and I are on the case.

As for poor David, he is certainly buried in Greece. I have today received two items from my father. The first is a letter to the Times from Mr Caclamanos of the Greek Legation in London. It protests in the strongest terms about the actions of Sir George Young, grandfather of the current Leader of the House and of my step-mother, who had taken up the case of David, insisting that he had been killed by brigands or by shepherds who, according to Sir George, routinely killed anyone who tried to stop their dogs barking.

The Greek states that “I understand that the contents of the letter and other declarations of Sir George of this subject, sent out in Press telegrams, have caused an outburst of protests in Greece, and they are considered an unjust and unfair comment of a sad, fortuitous event, which could not in any way reflect upon the reputation of a country justly claiming to be safe for tourists and travellers as any other civilised country.”

To his eternal credit, Sir George worked tirelessly on this case because his wife was my Great Grandmother’s sister. My father is indeed married to his second cousin.  The second item to arrive from Shipston is a rather sad letter from the Foreign Office to Sir George noting that, after a year missing, the remains of the body of poor David had been found in thick bushes with his passport, a cheque and his English money and gold watch. No brigands, no robbery, he simply fell down a ravine. 

This letter confirms that following the wishes of David’s father, “regarding the burial locally of the remains have been communicated to his Majesty’s Minister.” It seems that no-one travelled out to Greece for the funeral but the grave is almost certainly in Delphi or nearby. And thus it is to Delphi that I will be heading in April.

 

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2698 days ago

Weekly video postcard #57 – Reflections on the “Greek” Graves of my Great Uncles Edition

Rather a personal as opposed to a political postcard this week. For the next four weeks my life is almost 100% centred on preparing for the UK Investor Show on April 5. If you have NOT booked a ticket yet, shame on you – book now HERE.

But what to do afterwards? I shall be absolutely exhausted. I am already but slog on. And so it will be off to Greece with my rucksack for a month’s walking. Partly with the Mrs, partly alone as I search out the graves of two Great Uncles, the only brothers of my father’s mother who are meant to be buried there. I recount their deaths (1931 and WW2) and their stories in this postcard.

My weekly financial video postcard “Why do I do it?” sees me discussing why I “go after” companies on the AIM Cesspit. It can be viewed HERE

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2698 days ago

Come on Wales, Reflections on Ireland – Paul you are too calculating show Celtic loyalty!

My new Welsh friend Paul emails me before the Ireland match to say that he is rooting for Italy as part of some diabolical calculation allowing his beloved sheep-shaggers to win the Six nations Championship. Hmmmmm.

Despite a catalogue of errors Ireland utterly routed Italy yesterday. It was an emotional Dublin send off for Brian O’Driscoll, the greatest ever Ireland player. My father and I watched and as BOD was interviewed post match, the emotion poured over in Shipston-on-Stour as I am sure it did in every outpost of the diaspora. The way the points stack up, barring some utter freak, if Ireland can manage to defeat the hit or miss Froggies in Paris, the Championship is ours. Surely God wishes to reward his loyal servant BOD thus?

And now to Wales vs. England. For me there are no diabolical calculations. Indeed shame on you Paul for thinking that way. Paul says that he is so excited about today’s game that he cannot sleep. I would suggest that he tries counting sheep. But I guess that might make him even more excited. I digress.

I can put aside the fact that the mother of my daughter (Big Nose) will be sitting at home munching nuts nervously as she roots for Wales. I am beyond that for I also know that my daughter will be dressed in a Welsh jersey or National dress, belting out the National Anthem, passionately roaring on the men in red.

This is a simple matter. The Old Enemy are playing. Thus naturally my mind is wired to support the other side. I do not feel this way about soccer – in Ireland’s absence I will cheer for England in the World Cup for as long as its campaign lasts which will not be very long. I gather that England are 33-1 to win the World Cup. For those who do not understand betting that means that if you wager £10 on England you will lose £10.

No, this is just a rugby thing. I think of the swagger 

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2703 days ago

The punctual traveller at 4.47 AM – it’s in the genes.

When I was a child my mother’s wider family used to meet up at a restaurant in Marlborough in December for a meal and to exchange Christmas presents. I remember the hotel served an amazing brown breadcrumb ice cream. My grandparents would travel up from Dorset and my mother’s brother and little sister would drive up separately from London while Dad would drive us down from Northamptonshire.

My father takes after his mother and so we would arrive on the dot at 12.30 as agreed. We would then spend the next two hours enjoying the sweepstake organised by my father on which member of the Booker clan would be the last to arrive. Bookers do not do punctuality and it is correctly said that the only occasion at which they are ever on time is their funeral.

My father’s mother only once ever missed a train in her life. That was when she arrived so early that she caught the one before instead. My father operates on a similar basis and so when dropping me off at Moreton-in-Marsh he always allows plenty of time. Even though he observes a strict 20 mile an hour speed limit on all roads, more or less up to and including Motorways, I inevitably spend a good twenty minutes waiting on the platform at Moreton.

But I am as guilty of this obsession with not missing my train as is he. Regular readers will know that I catch the 4.47 AM from Bristol when travelling up to London as I am doing today. It is empty

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2712 days ago

My Tax Angel Revealed – It was my father impersonating me..Not so helpful Dad

I pondered at the end of January the mystery of who had filled in my tax return? Who was my angel? At long last it emerges who was the angel. It was my father. But Dad was not quite as helpful as it might seem.

We were both registered at the same address. He is Thomas John and I am Thomas John Zacchaeus. And so helpfully used my unique tax number to fill in his return. Thanks to the generosity of the Universities final salary pension scheme and to a few other little income streams the old man actually owes HMRC a few bob – I know because he has sent me his return to prove it.

I am actually owed money and so was quite keen to fill in my return but the HMRC started by insisting that I had done so already. When they called my father to clarify the matter he refused to hand over my phone number and berated them for their incompetence. For once I actually feel sorry for the Tax Man as it was not his error.

Finally all is sorted and I have just got a letter saying that the person who was squatting on my unique tax number has been shuffled on and I can file away. If there is any justice the file for late filing will be allocated to the TJ Winnifrith who owes HMRC money rather than to his son, the victim of this whole episode with his tax refund delayed.

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2714 days ago

Oxfam and the Floods – Let the Bankers pay

I have noted before that Oxfam is a charity not fit for purpose – it really does spout nonsense on a monumental scale. The latest clanger came on BBC Radio Oxford earlier this week – the link is here and the outbursts start at about even minutes in.

The Oxfam spokeswoman was one with two very stupid women – one from UKIP and a Lib Dem. Needless to say the Lib Dem woman agreed meekly with everything the Oxfam loony said. The UKIP old bag was again saying that the UK foreign aid budget should be diverted to help deal with UK floods. I have note before (HERE) how this is errant wolf-whistling economic claptrap. But her idiocy was easily surpassed by the Oxfam old trout.

She started by saying that the UK had plenty of cash to spend on the floods, after all Call Me Dave says “money is no object.” When a country has a deficit of £100 billion that is patently not true but if our PM (who is meant to be a conservative) is a Money Tree believer one cannot really be surprised that the deluded lefties of Oxfam are also Money Tree worshippers.

But then it got worse. Oxfam says that since 2008 UK bankers have received bonuses of £70 billion which is about £10 billion more than we have spent on foreign aid) so the UK bankers can afford to pay. Where to start

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2726 days ago

When did Ireland & West Ham both win on the same day last? Er…7 days ago

Last week I expressed my shock that Ireland and West Ham had both won on the same day and wondered when this happened last? You see, I am used to supporting sporting sides that are just not very good. Well blow me down Ireland and West Ham have now both put in back to back wins on the same day – when did that happen last?

For Ireland it was a home game against Wales. Such occasions usually prompt a post-match call between my father and myself “At least Olivia will be happy.” My daughter is like her mother (Big Nose) a proud Welshie. But not this time.

Ireland were ruthlessly efficient and made Wales (who are not hopeless) look just ordinary. The pack lead by Paul O’Connell was magnificent at the lineout, with the rolling maul and in all aspects of secondary play. The scrums were a bit of a mess but overall it was a powerful display. Throw in the kicking of Sexton and the tackling of the backs – and their strength under the high ball and Ireland looked really good.

Next up is the Old Enemy at Twickenham

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2732 days ago

Ireland & West Ham both win on the same weekend – when did that last happen?

As you might have gathered, teams that gain my support on the sports field can rarely be described as consistent models of success. West Ham, Northants CC, Ireland & Ulster at rugby, Eire at football and England at Cricket. The less said about the last on that list the better – for now I have decided that supporting the England women’s cricket team is less painful.

My big loves are, for my sins, Irish rugby and West Ham. For the former I can blame my father. For the latter I have only myself to blame. But this weekend both Ireland and West Ham won. I really cannot remember the last time this happened. 

At this stage of the season I usually have a conversation with God on the matter of sport. Heavenly father, will you allow West Ham to avoid relegation and as a trade-off I will give you that Ireland will not win the six nations. But would you mind terribly if we won the Triple Crown? I sense that God is not really interested in such discussions (although why he should have anything against Irish rugby is beyond me, surely he cannot support England?) and thus Ireland will probably not win the Triple Crown and as for West Ham? If the appeal against the red card shown to Horseface (Andy Carroll) on Saturday is successful – as I think it should be – we actually looked like a half decent side. 

Okay we are still in the 3rd relegation spot ( 18th) but in theory just one win would put us 11t

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2741 days ago

My father writes to the Guardian in Defence of Michael Gove & getting your facts right – the letter the rag did not publish

I do not understand why my father, the other Tom Winnifrith, puts himself through the torture of reading the Guardian since he admits that it is riddled with factual errors and that its opinions are generally idiotic. I think he does it at home to please my rather politically correct step mother before scuttling off to the White Bear to read the Daily Telegraph at leisure and with pleasure. 

But in reading the Grauniad a few weeks ago my father could not help but spot some glaring errors in one of its daily articles lambasting Michael Gove (who naturally has the full support of my father). So my father penned a letter pointing out the basic factual errors in the Guardian diatribe. It goes without saying that the Guardian has neither printed the letter nor corrected the errors. Pravda!

My father’s letter reads: 

Dear Sir or Madam, 

In deriding the unfortunate Mr Gove Michael Rosen refers to Horatio in Lord Macaulay's poem. There seems a little difficulty about the name. Horatio is Hamlet's friend and the first name of Admiral Nelson of whom like Macaulay Michael Rosen presumably learned at school. 

But Macaulay appears to have been studied less thoroughly. His Horatius is not "putting down rebellion" or "hacking away at insubordinate chiefs and their troops" and thus clearly bad like Macaulay putting down the Indian mutiny and those suppressing the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya.

These are Rosen's analogies but are not very accurate ones. Macaulay's Horatius was fighting the Roman tyrant Tarquin and his foreign Etruscan allies. Should he not have done so? And should not Mr Gove be entitled to defend the teaching of facts against the teaching of attitudes which then distort the facts as Michael Rosen has done.

Even the ranks of Guardian readers can scarce forbear to jeer not at Mr Gove but at Michael Rosen.

Yours faithfully,


Tom Winnifrith

 

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2768 days ago

My 12 year old Daughter’s shock admission – something no father wants to hear

And so it was a day or so after Christmas and my daughter was down in Bristol for Christmas Number 2. How about we pop along to the Conservative club for a quick drink I suggested, keen to lead young people along a path of virtue and righteousness.

But Daddy I have to tell you something about me first, she answered.

Oh Cripes thought I. “Will I be upset?” She responded honestly: “Daddy, you won’t like it.”

Oh double cripes.

What could it be? Might she have a boyfriend? Tried a touch of Nigella with her schoolmates? Could she be “coming out” already? After all she does live in Islington. Surely she cannot be pregnant? My mind raced through all these dreadful scenarios.

But it was worse.

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2796 days ago

Final Tom W ‘tash photo and appeal for Movember sponsorship

Thank heavens Movember is over. I do not know how men wear a tash all year round. It trickles, itches and is all round unpleasant. I shall be keeping my tash until the 7th December and a family event but cannot wait to remove it thereafter.

Having suffered for 31 days already perhaps you might care to sponsor my Movember efforts to raise money to fight prostate and testicular cancer.

You can sponsor me HERE

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2827 days ago

String the Striking University Lecturers up with piano wire – greedy bastards

I write as the son of a retired University Lecturer and the husband of a practising one, who is NOT on strike today. But many of her colleagues (some of whom I shall be meeting on bonfire night) are withdrawing their labour today. This is a politically motivated strike by greedy bastards who should be string up with piano wire.

Lecturers have a cushy deal. By your late thirties you can expect to be earning c£40,000 a year. You do not actually have to attend your institution of learning more than two or three days a week but can work from home. “Office hours” are not exactly those we in the private sector are used to. There is no 6 am alarm call and daily grind to hit your desk at work by 7 AM. Or even 9 AM.

Although nominal holidays are 25 days a year during the 20 weeks of vacation (plus reading weeks etc) lecturers do not actually have to er…lecture. They rarely have to pop into the factory and it is quite normal for them to spend the summer “working” from Tuscany.

It is almost impossible to be fired. Being lazy or useless is not enough. You need to be found guilty of gross moral turpitude which means some really heinous offence like reading the Daily Mail or having a picture of Nigel Farage on your wall. This is a job for life at the end of which there is a very generous pension scheme funded by the grateful taxpayer.

And yet the bastards are going on strike

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2838 days ago

Friday Caption Contest on a Sunday – the Church of England on Finance Issue

My father has done more than his fair share of work as Treasurer of the Shipston Parish. Its finances are okay – thanks in good part to my father handing over far too much of his dosh – but the finances of the wider C of E are a shambolic disaster. The reason is that it is a failing organisation – it keeps on losing customers to the grim reaper, other faiths and sects or to apathy and it is not replacing them.

One reason for this may be that the Church, like other once respected bodies such as the National Trust and the RSPCA seems intent on straying off its core patch. All three of these bodies have made themselves look ridiculous with their pronouncements on matters such as global warming and hunting of animals. But they just cannot help themselves.

And thus the Archbishop of Canterbury has today waded into the energy price debate telling companies that they should sacrifice profits by cutting prices ( prices agreed with the regulator) so folks are less badly off. Why not instead cut this Government’s ludicrous energy taxes imposed to help reduce our carbon footprint? Er…. Because the Church still thinks the planet is getting warmer (even though we are now in year 16 of cooling).

This is not a moral point the Church and the Archbishop is making but a political one.

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2856 days ago

Well done Olivia again – a proud father writes

Those who have been following me long enough know that my daughter Olivia was born at 1lb 4 oz just over twelve years ago. As such she has always been a bit of a miracle baby. But her triumphs continue to rack up. Her essay on the evils of the Euro got top marks and yesterday she learned that she had been picked for the U14 B side at her hockey club. So what you say?

Well A) we were warned that Olivia would always be small and may have breathing issues so any sporting triumph is a bonus.  B) Her hockey club is I gather, a rather top club. C) that is the U14sB. Olivia turned 12 just three months ago.

Olaf’s mum (Big Nose) was a county hockey player so I guess that is where she gets it from and I sense that Big Nose has pushed our daughter quite hard in this area. But the credit is all Olivia’s and yet again she makes me terribly proud.

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2865 days ago

Boycott Oxfam & The Independent – they are official global warning loons

I do not normally read The Independent as it is a dire newspaper pandering to deluded lefties like my entire family (bar step sister Flea and Chris Booker) by printing utter bilge. But, for your sake dear readers, I prepared the sick bag to read one stormer of an article today. It defies belief.

The headline reads: Aid groups warn of growing hunger and disease as planet warms

Fantastic, maybe those Scottish moors I bought to grow vines on will prove a stunning investment after all?

Greatly encouraged I read on as the Indescribablyboring newspaper continued:

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2870 days ago

My superstar daughter Olivia - warming the heart of her Eurosceptic Dad and Great Uncle

My 12 year old daughter Olivia has to write an essay for school arguing the pros and cons of the Euro for Europe. Showing a greater grasp of economics than 90% of the bien pensants political and media elite she concludes that there are no material pros and argues forcefully and coherently that there are lots of cons. For myself and her Great Uncle Christopher Booker, as well as her Farage admiring mother, Pinsent Masons partner Big Nose, this essay is a triumph.

For the rest of my family who are true deluded lefties and thus take the view that whatever Uncle Chris and I write, they automatically support the other side, this will be a watershed. A third Eurosceptic writer in the family...great news.

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2901 days ago

Christopher Booker on My Grandfather

My immediate family, bar uber-enlightened step sister Flea, are all deluded lefties and thus take the view that if Uncle Chris (Chris Booker) holds one view they should naturally take the opposite line. I tend to take an alternative view. Other than his one little blind spot (a failure to support the only democracy in the Middle East), Booker’s judgement is never wrong. On issues such as the global warming scandal, the EU and inner City development he has for decades been way ahead of the curve.

Today my mother’s brother writes in his Sunday Telegraph column about the West’s failure to appreciate the Islamofascist threat from Iran. Again he is bang on the money. Perhaps we should all have listened to the Israelis a bit more?

But he also picks up on my piece last week about the National Trust and how it is losing the plot. In that snippet he observes correctly why my father’s father, Sir John Winnifrith, would today have been disqualified from being head of the National Trust. It is a good and fair comment which my immediate family will find it hard to disagree with. But on (misguided) principle they probably will do so anyway.

To read my piece on the National Trust’s failure click here

To read Christopher’s column today click here

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2901 days ago

Northants wins!

In 1976 my family was living in a small village on the borders of Northants, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire called Byfield. Buy a mile one way and a mile and a half the other way we were just inside Northants. And one day I was told by my Uncle Chris (who was staying) and my father that we must all listen to the radio as something historic was happening.

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2909 days ago

The National Trust – a Respected Institution losing the plot & credibility on global warming

My grandfather, Sir John Winnifrith, was Director General of the National Trust back in the 1970s. Back then its mission was to preserve old houses and historic rural areas. It got on with the job. And as such it was a body worth supporting. Folks felt the same way about it as they did about the RSPCA. But both bodies have quite simply lost the plot.

I have covered the RSPCA elsewhere (as you can read here) but I am these days as likely to give it my cash as I am to give cash to the NT. And I suspect that many of traditional “core” supporters fell the same way. Having visited two of its properties last week let me explain why.

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2910 days ago

Finding my Grandparents Grave

 

A week away taking the next generation to Kent where my grandparents lived and I spent many a summer as a boy. We spent one day in the small village of Appledore to where my grandparents retired . There will be more on that later. My father asked me to check out the grave of his parents. The only trouble was that he could not remember where it was.

He insisted it was 20 yards behiond the church on the right. My step mother insisted it was on the left. Normally on matters such as who committed the war crime at the Black Hole of Calcutta or when was the battle of Agincourt I go with my Dad. On more practical matters like where did you leave your shoes or where are Dad's parents buried I go with my step mother.

But the deluded lefty was wrong. As was the other deluded lefty, my father. We refused to give up and at the last minute my father called to say "extension". Sure enough in a little patch away from the Church we found a whole new raft of graves among them that of my grandmother ( named after an Island in Greece when the world was not obsessed by lesbians) and grandfather. It is a simple gravestone as both would have wanted. The next generation laid a few flowers picked from the verge and we moved on.

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2932 days ago

The tomatoes are for my father..., the melons for google and tomorrow morning it is goat milking

My father can take a joke on most matters but is a little sensitive on the subject of the tomatoes he grows in Shipston on Stour. They have a tendency to be small and green. Perhaps if he and my deluded lefty step mother are right then global warming will rectify that. I am not holding my breath.

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2964 days ago

Happy Father’s Day – Yup

As a father and son I get a card and I make a phone call. I cannot say that I really go big on this. My father says, every year as we exchange a call on this day, “it is not a day of which I really approve”. Sure enough he has not, at 75, changed his mind.  Since I grew up with my father as sole carer I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. He knows that I know that. No-one could ask for a better father. But father’s day? A waste of space.

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2977 days ago

My busiest day ever on TomWinnifrith.com & the Downing Street Affair – asking Sir George

It seems as if Sunday 2nd June 2013 was the busiest day in the history of this blog – a happy first anniversary. More than 42,000 page impressions in one day is about the same as I enjoyed in the whole of the first eight weeks of this site.  Of course I know that it is nothing to do with this being my first anniversary and all to do with those magic words #DowningStreetAffair.

Right now I sit onboard the 21.42 from Paddington heading for a few days with my father and step mother, the arch deluded lefties of Shipston on Stour. I appeared to be in everyone’s good books for volunteering to baby sit for step sister Flea on Wednesday.  As an added benefit, by the time I had volunteered she already had another offer and so I am off the hook.

However I now appear to have regained evil son status by suggesting that my Step Mother phones her brother Sir George Young asking him for his take on the Downing Street affair. Apparently this was not considered funny – I was only kidding.

Apparently I am still suspected of selling some story about “wicked Uncle George” (being a Tory he is naturally considered wicked in my family) to Private Eye about 20 years ago. On that occasion I was blameless. But I suspect folks are right not to bank on my discretion were Sir George to spill the beans. Not that most of us won’t already know all by the morning as twitter and the foreign press force Call Me Dave to come clean.

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3009 days ago

Making Money from My Father thanks to UKIP & the Shipston poll

My father has already done his stint as part of the slick electoral machine of the Shipston branch of the party that wishes to block the deportation of Abu Qatada and now we sit back and watch the results come in tonight. To add interest we have six bets running. And it is at 5 Albanian Lekke a pop.

My banker is who will get a greater percentage of the popular vote: UKIP or the Lib Dems. The last national survey suggested the Lib Dems would get 14% and UKIP 22% just behind labour on 24%. I think it is pretty brave of anyone to admit voting Lib Dem but I suspect that even more folks are reluctant to admit to voting UKIP lest the local council snatch their kids or Ken Clarke accuses them of racism. So I sense the 22% might just underestimate the UKIP vote and so barring a miracle this is my banker bet.

I win 5 Albanian Lekke from my father.

I wish we had a bet on the South Shields by-election where the word is that both the Tories and Lib Dems will lose their deposits. Indeed there is a suggestion that the unofficial Monster raving Loony party (the one led by Nick Clegg) will in fact be beaten by the Official Monster Raving Loony party. UKIP will come second but I suspect a lot closer to Labour (in its safest seat in England) than it did in Rotherham.

How well UKIP actually does is down, I suspect to whether folks feel apathetic (Local elections do not count, all politicians are greedy sleazy tossers who ignore our wishes on everything, but I am off down the pub, staying at home waiting for the next Coronation Street star to be exposed as an alleged sex offender) or angry

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3013 days ago

Message to step sister Flea – Stand Your Ground vs Winnifrith family – do not vote for Abu Qatada’s pals

I gather that the local elections loom. My deluded lefty parents are keenly watching the contest in Shipston on Stour where they have a choice of 5 candidates: Labour, Lib Dem, Tory, Green and UKIP. My father tells me that the pro-supermarket protest vote for Labour last time will not carry and so that the nice lady from the Co-Op who flies the red flag will be battling it out for fifth place with the smelly eco-warrior. As such it is a three horse race between the Liberal and two parties which my deluded lefty family would not support under any circumstances: wicked UKIP and the even more wicked Tories.

My father has thus asked little Step-sister Flea to put up a Liberal poster. Since her young man would rather drink his own urine than vote Liberal since he believes in low taxes for those who work, hard work, etc, etc Flea is dithering. But Flea too believes in hard work and low taxes so, having admitted this to the deluded lefty collective that is my family, I’ll urge her to stand her ground publically.

Flea, just remember that the Lib Dems are blocking moves to allow for the deportation of terrorist loving Abu Qatada who costs this nation £400,000 a year and who would like to see you blown up. And it is the taxes from your hard work that go to pay his bills.  As you go to work tomorrow, dear  Flea think about where your taxes are going, that bloke outside the school gates who would rather “go fishing” than get a job. Think hard. On that basis: Flea I urge you to stand fast and vote with your conscience on May 2nd.

No go on. Go the whole hog. I do not care two hoots who you vote for in a secret ballot but why not annoy every single relative (including wicked Uncle George). A UKIP poster would look great in your front window.

 

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3025 days ago

Lady Thatcher’s Funeral – I shall be there: Light blogging for 24 hours

I had planned to leave London on Sunday but that all changed. I will be heading down to the Strand to mark my respects to Britain’s greatest ever Prime Minister – a woman who saved this country. A woman of principle. I am not sure how many folks will line the route nor if it will be disrupted by unkempt lefties, ignorant young people or worse but I shall be there anyway.

Lucian Miers is trekking up from the boonies to join me. I guess the crowds will build early so I shall work late at Real Man and then head off well before the crack of dawn to bag a place for Lucian and myself.

Uncle Chris (Booker) says that his wife queued to pay her respects at Churchill’s coffin and so this time I am there for the Booker’s who cannot make it. My own family of deluded lefties have rather different feelings but I guess I am also there for little step sister Flea who, to her credit, is a true child of Thatcher.

Afterwards I shall return to Real Man, feeling – I suspect – rather tired so it may be a light blogging day ahead.

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3036 days ago

Happy Birthday Tom Winnifrith

Not me, my father, 75 today and spending a couple of days in Lyme Regis to celebrate. My father is Thomas John Winnifrith, I am TJZ Winnifrith, my second sister TJA Winnifrith (you see the symmetry) and my third sister arrived, er…a bit later and so had to be named after a gorilla born in the local zoo that year – Naomi.

I digress, Happy Birthday to the man who brought me up single handedly from the age of eight. He will be celebrating with my step mother who is a very distant relation to the author most closely linked with the Dorset Town and on whom my scholarly father has written and lectured about now and again. I cannot say that I am a total Jane Austen groupie or that I’d opt to spend a birthday in Lyme Regis. Maybe when I grow up.

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3041 days ago

Who do you support in the Boat race and Why?

For me it is pretty clear. My father, mother and step-mother went to Oxford. And so did all their fathers and three out of four brothers ( C Booker went to the other place). I was born in Oxford and somehow managed to scrape a place there too as did my youngest sister Naomi. And so naturally I support Oxford. Evil Knievil was born in Oxford and his father taught at Oxford and Evil was (understandably) rejected by Cambridge. And so he too supports Oxford.

My sister Tabby went to Cambridge and so as well as supporting ideas such as global warming and welfare hand-outs all round she also supports the ‘tabs. There is a consistency in her thinking.

But most people who do not regard this institution as elitist nonsense seem to support one side or other and for the oddest of reasons. I cannot say that I have any great feelings of warmth for the City of my birth, the City of Lost causes. I do not really care who wins most Varsity contests. But the Boat race is a bit different. Come on the dark blues. Or is it the Light blues. I can never remember which is which. Come on Oxford.

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3048 days ago

Facebook in Real Life - the video

Brother in law James is a classical singer. He is not on facebook, twitter or skype and like my sister Tabby seems to regard the new media world with large amounts of disdain. But he did point me the way of this super trailer for an ENO production a couple of years ago: Facebook in real life. It is very funny. Enjoy.

 

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3048 days ago

25 Years On…Happy Anniversary to My father and Step Mother

And so I found my way to Oxford on Saturday to a party at the house of my sister Naomi to celebrate the 25th Wedding Anniversary of my father and step mother and also my father’s 75th birthday next week. My father and step mother are actually second cousins and eons ago when she was an undergraduate at Oxford and he a post graduate he took her to the Opera as a cousin-friendly gesture. 26 years ago they met for the first time in 20 years at the wedding of another mutual cousin. He took her to the opera again and within nine months they were getting married in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

It was a lovely sunny and warm March day. Ireland won a six nations match that day and I mentioned that in my best man’s speech. After 25 years of global warming we gathered to celebrate that day as the snow fell heavily in Oxford. It was my father and Helen’s oldest friends (a group he refers to as the Coffin Dodgers) plus my sisters (and husbands) and my step sisters and brother, young Tom. I am middle Tom. My father is big Tom.

I was banned from mentioning certain subjects in a gathering where I suspect myself and step sister Flea (pictured below) were the only non-Guardian readers.

It was a deluded lefty hothouse. And so I bit my lip and did not say to everyone how many inches of global warming was falling in the garden or raise any other controversial issues like, er… everything I believe in. And so conversation

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3056 days ago

Ireland Rugby Humiliation – what can I say?

My formative rugby years were in the 1970s watching on a black and white TV screen with my Dad. Why do we support the Men in Green is asked my Dad: they always lose? Well my father and I still support the men in green. He taught me to do so as his mother had taught him and we have had a great couple of decades. But it is over. The good times have officially ended and we return to what I consider normality. That is to say a battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

This season has been terrible. For the first 45 minutes against Wales we looked like world beaters. Since then it has been just dreadful. Frankly the Irish ladies team (who, I think, won their grand slam) have played with more passion and discipline and – at times – skill.

It is the end of an era. Not once have I had a chance to call Aunt Valerie (an Ulster woman) to share joy in a way that she cannot with her husband Uncle Chris, as Ireland have triumphed. Calls to my father have been sad as we wonder if those glory years – a twenty year period when Ireland were not good but great as opposed to the normal fare of brave also rans – are just over.

I am not even sure that I would describe Ireland as brave these days. Back in the 70s we would pray for the rain to poor down on Landsdowne Road. Keep it tight in the forwards and fight with passion, pray and hope. The late Moss Keane, Fergus Slattery, those were the days. In defeat those Ireland teams were brave.

And now?

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3062 days ago

Mother’s Day – Always a bit of a non day for me but do the last minute gestures matter?

As I wandered into the newsagents at 10.55 PM last night for 20 Marlboro Light there was a long line of lads, fresh from the pub, clutching cheap bunches of flowers and a card. It must be Mother’s Day. It is not something I have ever paid much attention to since my mother died when I was eight. I am not sure we ever did much in the way of presents before then – our family was into self-sufficiency rather than worldly commercialism – to celebrate the day, I think we brought mum breakfast in bed.

At school each year all the boys were made to make a mother’s day card. The teacher’s used to find my situation a bit embarrassing. Make one for your Aunt or Grandmother then? You know it is not quite the same. And so this whole annual excuse for commercial vulgarity always passed me by.

I wonder what the mothers getting a cheap bunch of flowers and a tacky card all obviously bought at the last minute think? Thanks son: nice to know that you spared an afterthought for me after getting pissed with the lads. Gee..I'm touched.

It seems as if every day is either a World something day or a day which allows us all to engage in crass consumerism. I find myself pretty turned off by both.

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3087 days ago

The Great Education Denial & Useless Michael Gove

According to my deluded lefty step mother Michael Gove is a wicked and useless man for trying (and failing) to change the exam system. The lefty belief is that there has been enough tampering and teachers and schoolchildren should just be left with some stability and to get on with it. Underpinning this is the assumption that ever improving A level and GSCE grades reflect the efforts of hard working teachers and students. If grades do not improve in any year it is a scandal, the exam boards must be investigated and it is remarks all round. It is hard to know where to start with this grade bubble.

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3088 days ago

Generate your own inane Guardian comments for free

My attention is drawn to a new website designed to assist those who read The Guardian and are stuck for suitable comments to post in its online section. This is obviously not a problem I’d ever face for two reasons but for the deluded middle class lefties in my family ( ie everyone bar myself and little step sister Kitty, I mean Flea) it could be invaluable. I offer you the first three random generated comments I got as a taster of what is on offer:

My holiday home in Provence is hardly a luxury! Why are the cis-sexual backlash movement intent on oppressing my right to fair-trade cocoa? Free Gaza now!

I was just the other day updating my blogroll on my iPad 4 when I realised. I would rather vote for the BNP than let my three year old eat anything sold in Asda! Unless we send out a clear message to the Bob Diamonds and Howard Schultz’s of this world they will never learn.

We were chatting over a coffee, simple filter, not Nescafe (baby-killers) and started to think out loud. The salt-of-the-earth type jobs some of my primary school classmates ended up in just don’t exist any more. It’s time for the working class to fight back

Try it for yourself HERE

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3089 days ago

Global warming now falling thick and fast in Shipston – am I travel cursed?

Every time I come here it seems to snow. My deluded lefty step mother, who ticked me off earlier today for referring to global warming as opposed to climate change, is now safely in bed. The cat & I have thus switched the heating on full blast as an inch of global warming, oops, sorry 2.54 centimetres of climate change has now fallen. Needless to say I am travelling back to London tomorrow and so expect wholesale travel chaos. I feel cursed.

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3090 days ago

I have abandoned the White Bear - sporting Disaster x 2 and now it gets worse

The white bear in Shipston seems to be populated by folk who support Aston Villa and England. Given that we are on South Warwickshire that should be no great surprise but as a West Ham and Ireland support I have had enough. And it is going to get worse.

West Ham lost 2.1 and were useless. This is the third time this season that we have given hope of a kickstart to useless sides (Reading, Wigan and now Villa). I hope that we stay up although that is by no means guaranteed. But surely no-one can want another season of this nonsense. At the end of May Fat Sam’s contract is up and he has got to go. West Ham will finish this season between 12th and 18th and with two early cup exits to our name. Enough is enough.

At half time Ireland are trailing and our captain could not catch a cold at the North Pole. So much for the Lions Jamie. My father is earnestly praying for divine intervention at Church right now but I fear the worst and if we are to be vanquished by the Old Enemy I’d rather watch in misery alone than surrounded by cheering England supporters. What next?

Oh, my sister Tabby and her family (England, Man United and deluded on all matters) arrive for supper. I have a long list of restricted subjects which I am not allowed to mention but she has none, I am under orders not to respond on any matter.

Postscript: No rows with Tabby. I bit my lip once but all very amicable. Her husband opined that only aristocrats read the Daily Telegraph ( theirs is a Guardian reading household, natch) and I was unable to hold back then generally all peace and brotherly love.

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3090 days ago

Ireland vs. England – God vs. Pub

Lo and behold a resurgent Wales beat the Froggies (who are now 0 from 2 but were pre tournament favourites), Scotland thrash Italy in what was meant to be the wooden spoon game and today’s match in Dublin could be the Championship decider. Although I would not rule the sheep shaggers (Welsh department) out yet.

England are, of course, the old enemy and when they arrive in Dublin full of swagger and arrogance as they do now, the desire for victory is greater than ever. And there is also the romance: in Brian O’Driscoll’s last season of six nations rugby might the men in green pull off a famous victory? If they play as they did in the first half against Wales they might win. Play as they did in the second half and there will be misery in Sheep Street, Shipston.

For I am back with my deluded lefty father and step mother. It is the former who brought me up to support “the Old Country.” For me tomorrow afternoon is a simple matter. Lunch. Then the White Bear to watch West Ham away at Villa. And shortly before 3 my father will arrive. I shall remove my West Ham hoodie to reveal an Irish shirt, we will switch bars and off we go.

My father has a dilemma. At 4 PM my step mum is preaching in Shipston Church. If Ireland are behind he will not want to watch and will head off to Church to pray for a BOD inspired comeback. If it is even Stevens he has assured my step mum that he will go to Church where he will pray earnestly for an Irish victory. So, I asked him: what if Ireland are 50 points ahead with 30 minutes to go: God vs. Pub, a chance to watch a famous victory with your son, the landlord ( also wearing green) and a bunch of miserable England supporters, or your second church service of the day? Hmmm. He admitted that would be a tough call. But it is – sadly – also an unlikely scenario.

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3097 days ago

Olivia won’t be happy – Wales vs Ireland

The past few encounters between Ireland and Wales have not made my father and I terribly happy. Our parting words after each recent let down have been “at least Olivia will be happy”. The mother of my daughter Olivia is a Welsh speaker, a dyed in the wool cottage burner and I am sorry to say that she has led Olivia astray in that she also supports Wales with a passion. She kindly says that Ireland is her second team but in post match calls in recent years she has not been able to contain her glee. Ha!

Ireland were magnificent in the first half, er…less good in the second. Brian O’Driscoll was inspirational. The Old Country were deserved winners and I will be calling Olivia ( and her mother) later to discuss. I shall try not to crow with Olivia. With her mother there will be no such restraint.

I did note one English reporter on the news commenting that after England defeated the poor Scottish team that the English should have no worries about beating France to win the six nations. He seemed to assume that next week in Dublin was a given. Such is the arrogance and swagger of English rugby right now. A home win in Dublin next week would be all the sweeter for that.

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3103 days ago

Delight in Sheep Street Shipston – should I flog my father’s house without telling him?

The Sunday Times has a feature this week on the top ten towns in Britain to live in because that they still have a thriving Town Centre having battled off the wicked supermarkets. Put another way: the top ten twee towns for the Middle Classes to live in nice houses and who cares about the jobless plebs who can’t get cheap food anyway. Naturally, following last week, Shipston in Warwickshire is in there. And as a bonus…

Perhaps as a reward for the leading role played by my step mother in the screw the plebs and Tesco campaign, Sheep Street where my father and step mother own a house is the most desirable street in Shipston. Naturally as a wicked right winger, I note the looming property bubble, I have put my father’s house up for sale without telling him. I will break the good news to him later.

NB. If comrade Kenner, Shipston labour councillor or any other dumb leftie is reading this, that last line was a joke. Following Brother Kenner’s last contribution here, I feel the need to point that out, patronising though it may seem.

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3105 days ago

Friday caption contest - Shipston on Stour Edition

I am not sure if this story is sponsored by the Shipston Middle classes who wish to deprive the Shipston plebs of affordable housing, cheap Turkey twizzlers and above all jobs, or by the coalition as we enter a triple dip recession.

On balance, having put Shipston on the map this one is in honour of the unholy alliance of deluded middle class lefties and Tory Toffs in Warwickshire who stopped Tesco from opening a store in the town where my father and step mother (deluded lefties) live.

I write about this here about 24 hours ago.

To win a “It’s Time to Leave” T-shirt which in this period of intense global warming will be extremely useful, simply post your entries to the picture below.

You can, of course, buy your own It’s Time to Leave T-shirt, sweatshirt, hoodie, mug or thermos flask in my online store here.

My entry is: “Someone spreads a vicous rumour on the Council Estates that the Shipston venison and pheasant shop is selling turkey twizzlers at half price in the name of diversity and choice”

Last week I asked you for your captions to this picture.

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3106 days ago

Breaking News: Deluded Middle Class Lefties and Tory Toffs screw the plebs and Tesco in Shipston

An excited email arrives from my deluded lefty step mother Helen (sister of Tory Toff Sir George Young) – Stratford Council in Warwickshire has tonight thrown out plans for a big Tesco on the edge of Shipston-on-Stour. The unholy alliance of deluded Middle class lefties and the Tory Toffs has won.

And so there will no new jobs created for the plebs on the council estates. The residents of Shipston will continue to be served by two Co-ops that are not that cheap and have a limited choice as well as by the two butchers where the Tory Toffs and my dad can buy pheasant, quail, expensive lamb and pork and not care about paying over the odds because they can afford it. The plebs who were hoping for a place to get a wide choice of cheap Turkey twizzlers will be disappointed.

So no jobs and no choice of cheap turkey twizzlers for the plebs. No planning gain which would have created some affordable and rented housing for the plebs. The articulate middle class lefties and Tory Toffs have won the debate and can still choose which butcher to buy their quail from and life goes on. The Tory Toffs are naturally wicked and hate the poor. We all know that. The deluded Middle class lefties are tonight celebrating preserving the “community” and “diversity” of this small market town. But it is a community that many folks are financially excluded from. It is a diversity the plebs cannot afford to enjoy.

It has made my step mother very happy. That makes me happy. But it was the wrong result for those at the bottom of the heap. Capitalism could have assisted them. When capitalism is blocked to preserve the vested interests of those who are affluent it always makes the poor poorer.

As a non Guardian reader I am not meant to care about the plebs. That is meant to be the preserve of deluded middle class lefties. But in reality….

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3109 days ago

Who is infamous Evil Knievil? And what is he doing now?

When the markets are plunging you tend to read quite a bit about Evil Knievil in the press. Every graduate trainee journalist wants to know what the UK’s best known short seller has to say. When markets are rising as they are now, he tends to fade from view somewhat. Of course you can get the greatest shorting opportunities when folks lose sense of reality in a bull market. But you can also do your conkers as folks can stay mad and shares can defy gravity for quite a while. So if you have not heard from the Great Bear for a while, fear not he will be back.

Evil Knievil acquired that moniker during his shorting of Maxwell Communications. The great socialist newspaper proprietor tried to silence his critics with lawyers letters (something all liars attempt) and so when sending out faxes to explain to dumb City analysts why the sums did not add up Cawkwell signed off as Evil Knievel. The publisher of his first book did not wish to get into trouble with the motorbike rider so made that Knievil. It stuck. Call up Simon Cawkwell and you just ask for Evil.

Like myself Cawkwell’s father was an academic. A distinguished one to boot. George Cawkwell was also an international sportsman (Scotland, rugby). His 23 stone son is no sportsman and no academic – he failed to get into Cambridge. That is not to say that he is not clever, just that he was never suited to the world of academia. Cawkwell trained as an accountant instead.

Although he still practices, for many years he has made a living from the markets. His ruin (other than eating and drinking far too much) is that he is a self-confessed gambler

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3110 days ago

The 8.04 from Temple Meade – more fun in the global warming

It was meant to be the 8 PM. But it was late. I am on my way to Warwickshire on family business. The main line up to Didcot seems problem free. After that it gets worse as it is snowing again. I think I can make it though by train to Moreton-in-Marsh but that is where my problems begin. My father is the world’s worst driver in perfect conditions. After dark? In the snow? Forget it. And so how to get to Shipston-on-Stour? This is an Agatha Christie murder in the Cotswolds vicarage in the bleak midwinter – sort of Roger Ackroyd but in Warwickshire.

Perhaps I might already have hidden my cross country skis behind the railings at Moreton and just speed over the hills to Shipston? There is more chance of that than of getting a taxi. Nine firms tried, four answered and that was only to say that “it is snowing, good night.” Maybe I might hitch a lift if there is anyone else mad enough to travel on a train into rural white-out tonight?

Let’s be realistic. I have booked into the Bell Inn for the night. A roaring fire. A stiff whiskey from the landlord who keeps looking out over the wintry fields with a worried eye. The mystery blonde woman of a certain age in the corner with her plain, but attractive, hen pecked daughter. And there is a report that David Mills has escaped from Tessa Jowell’s farmouse retreat near Shipston and is on the loose. Who is that Italian gentleman in the corner who keeps on mumbling about Rubies?

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3134 days ago

My 2012 Pig of the Year award goes to…

PrintThe temptation is to award this to those who (illegally) accessed what they thought was my home address and sent a malicious, inaccurate and spiteful lawyers letter (hence matter settled at no cost to me) to a Mr T Winnifrith who happened to be my aged and rather infirm father. It is only because I do not wish to upset him further that I have not yet taken this matter to the authorities. I know that those responsible receive this newsletter and hope that as they enjoy the Christmas break they consider just why Santa did not bring them anything this year. For this action I shall never forgive them. Christmas or no Christmas this was beyond the pale.

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3138 days ago

Merry Christmas to you all - what does it mean to you and me?

May I start by wishing all the readers on my own blog or the ten other sites to which I now contribute (going to eleven in January), a very Merry Christmas and – of course – a prosperous New Year. But what does Christmas mean to you? I have no idea. I know what it means to me and my family. For starters it is not just a holiday it is Christmas. I am simply not having a happy holiday or sending season’s greetings. Whatever your own personal views on religion you are getting a few days off work because you live in a Christian country and Jesus was born on Christmas Day. Get used to it and stop pretending otherwise.

Actually it is extremely unlikely that Jesus was born on 25th December, in 0 AD, in Bethlehem or in a manger. But that is another matter.

My family is religious. My step mother is a lay preacher and my father an enthusiastic member of the Shipston church although possibly the worst singer in Warwickshire. I was brought up to attend church and know the bible well enough. But try as hard as I can, and occasionally I have tried, I have never been a person of faith. I just cannot believe. I am not hostile. I leave that to my eleven year old daughter Olivia who has grown up with a mother who has a real hatred for the Church. Olivia is thus a proud Islington atheist. And thus three generations bring three views.

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3147 days ago

Saturday Music Medley – The Right Brothers, Christmas shopping for deluded lefties

The shock revelation that my deluded lefty sister Naomi is to give her poor husband Labour Party membership for Christmas naturally begs the question what do I get the rest of my family ( all deluded lefties) for Christmas, or Winterval as they would have it. And so my Saturday musical medley starts with a classic from the Right Brothers “

That is a pretty American list. Maybe for the UK my family and other deluded lefties might start with “Letters from the Chestnut Tree cafe” available at just £5 HERE. or perhaps with a selection of “It’s Time to Leave” T-shirts, sweatshirts and coffee mugs? Perhaps for folks who talk about the Malvinas (Naomi) a “Piss off Argentina T-shirt? The mugs and T-shirts are all available HERE.

Back to the music. A couple of other offerings from the Right Brothers who seem like a sensible bunch of chaps. I shall skip over “Bush was Right” and start with “Stop Global Whining” which is pretty self explanatory but does highlight the inconvenient truth of the medieval warm period pretty brilliantly.

Next up is one for the teaching profession: “Shut up and teach.”

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3149 days ago

My Family of deluded Lefties Shipston Update

I am again engaged on family matters and so sitting in Shipston with my father. He is aware that i am about to report back on today’s deluded lefty activities from my family. They are (with the glorious exception of little step sister Flea) utterly deluded.

We will shortly light the fire here. It is freezing. My Dad trousers his pensioner’s winter fuel allowance but amid a heated debate about global warming the actual heating is never switched on. I have tweaked the dial without telling him. It is still freezing. And so yesterday’s Guardian will once again start its useful life in a few minutes with Toynbee’s gibberish and the rest going up in smoke.

But there is, I am proud to reveal, another useful purpose for the BBC’s sister publication.

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3150 days ago

Oakley Update – Operation delayed but now completed - spending night at vets

Thanks for all the emails and the odd tweet. Oakley’s operation was delayed but his leg was finally removed later afternoon. He is spending the night at the vets and should be leaving there tomorrow. Tara – my other cat is not happy having spent her entire life with the Old Boy. But we are getting there. Thanks for all your kind thoughts. Roll on Christmas and recuperation for us all.

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3153 days ago

Victorian Christmas Street Fair Shipston

I am spending more time these days in Shipston-on-Stour in southern Warwickshire where my father lives with my (not wicked but just deluded lefty) step mother. I could not live there full time. The average age is about 97 and everyone seems to know who everyone else is. I just want to be left alone. But walking along with my father between the White Bear (his “office”) and home about once a minute there is a greeting of “Morning Professor”. Dad was not actually a professor just a senior lecturer but he looks the part.

Friday evening saw the Victorian street fair. Some folks dressed up in 19th century garb. There were clowns on stilts and a brass band blasted out all those Christmas carols you remember from childhood. Truly it was freezing and felt like it was very much the Bleak Midwinter. All the local societies had stalls. Naturally the Cats Protection League was my fave but

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3153 days ago

West Ham vs Liverpool Match Preview

Sign on, sign on, with a pen in your hand, and you’ll never work again. Sign on. Sign on.

Or perhaps given the time of year and a chance to think of those less fortunate than ourselves a few choruses of “Feed the scousers, let them know it’s Christmas time.” Actually I have no hard feelings for Liverpool. My Aunt Lucy’s family are all Liverpool fans and my sister was born there. She clearly picked up the Souse mindset in those early days. As a Doctor paid £50,000 plus for two days a week she fits in well: living off the state and not doing much work.

When football Santa grants me the chance to decide the league table, I won’t really be thinking about Liverpool. Naturally Santa and I will start at the top. West Ham to come first. Then Santa and I will head straight to the other end. The old man in the beard does not need to ask the first question. Spurs to finish bottom. And then

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3157 days ago

Ha! Christian Aid: Gotcha – you called the wrong Mr T Winnifrith on the £2billion day

My Guardian reading father is an incredibly generous contributor to Christian Aid. But still they want more. It is after all better to give than to receive and they are just helping to save his soul. And so once a week he gets a call asking him to up his contribution. Bad luck Christian aid. My father is at a funeral and so when you called today and asked for Mr T Winnifrith I replied truthfully that they were speaking to Mr T Winnifrith and…

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3157 days ago

It’s snowing! Big flakes of global warming in Warwickshire – Very Exciting!

Yup I know it is December so not really a shock (unless you are a total global warming nutter). And I know that it is a bit childish but there is always an excitement in seeing the first snow of the winter. It only becomes a pain later. And so at 3.30 AM as I work on a new book idea I look out of the window and there are huge snowflakes falling on Shipston-on-Stour.

I am again at my father’s house sorting out a few things. It is only about half an hour from the village in which I grew up. Snow lay thick on the ground and roads when I had my first driving lessons 27 years and eleven month ago with Mr Ceney. That was fun. A few years earlier snow meant a day off school if you lived in our village. Harbury was at the top of a steep hill and so it was sometimes too dangerous to try to drive down that hill towards Warwick. Yippeee off to Ufton Hill to sleigh down on a plastic bag.

And now the snowflakes are falling harder. The child in me wants them to settle. Step sister Flea’s very young daughters are staying the night and I know they’d love to throw a few snowballs at Grandpa tomorrow morning. Heck, so would I. The adult in me knows that I have to drive the Old Man into Warwick tomorrow and I am not sure I really fancy doing it on snow covered roads. I am torn.

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3162 days ago

Why cannot my Deluded Lefty Dad say no!

I have spent the day with my father at Shipston in Warwickshire. A landslide somewhere near Worcester meant that my route was a the “scenic” one but we have enjoyed a happy afternoon chatting about various family matters. Our conversation was, however, interrupted by a series of phone calls and knocks on the door – my father is a victim of his inability to say no.

First up was some bird trying to persuade him to fit new plastic windows and plastic doors. Given that his house was built in 1692 this was clearly a pointless call. Of course if Dad had told her that last time she called rather than just listening patiently and saying eventually “ this is not a good time” she would not have bothered with this call. Next up was Christian Aid to whom my Dad already gives a fortune by Standing Order. Christian Aid called to say it needs more to help starving people in Africa, blah, blah, blah. Unluckily for it, when it asked for Mr T Winnifrith it got me.

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3165 days ago

Cooking my Christmas Pudding – Damn the celebrity chefs it should not be that Hobson's choice

Today has been a day interrupted by my Christmas pudding. Last night I made it. There was stirring and making of wishes and today it has been steaming away happily for six and a half hours. In thirty minutes the heat gets switched off and it will be put in a cold dark place until I celebrate Christmas which this year, will be on Boxing day. I have always made Christmas puddings. I am a bit late this year but it is something my late mum used to do and it is great fun. For me Christmas sort of starts when I mix up a recipe.

This year’s recipe is a tad unusual in that instead of breadcrumbs I have a few oats in there. It tasted great when I scooped out the mixing bowl last night. It means the pudding is a slightly lighter brown than normal. I do not expect a crunch on Boxing day just the usual fruity taste (raisins, currants, apricots, apples, cherries with zest of orange and lemon) and obviously vast quantities of brandy. And then there will be a high octane brandy butter to go with it. I hope my cats like brandy.

But I read in the newspapers that for most folks the choice is not what to wish for as they stir but whether to buy the pudding of Delia, Jamie, Hugh or that loathsome man who advertises stock cubes like he really uses them in his 5 star restaurant.

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3168 days ago

Who Shot JR? Bing’s Daughter. But this time it really is RIP Larry Hagman

Dallas was part of my childhood. Who shot JR? The poison dwarf, Lusty Dusty. I remember it all. And JR Ewing was at the centre of it all. And, as you probably know, my cousin Jeff appeared in two episodes where he raped Lucy ( the poisoned dwarf). Not quite the highlight of his career ( I think that was giving Tatum O’Neill her first on screen kiss in International Velvet) but that made the Winnifrith family bond with the programme even stronger. We even had Dallas the board game. And so, today I really do mourn the death yesterday of Larry Hagman, the actor who played JR.

Hagman did actually hail from Texas and died there. He was, by all accounts, a bit of a character, downing five bottles of champagne a day as he filmed Dallas.

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3170 days ago

Trapped in Warwickshire by Global Warming

Remember a few years ago when the BBC and the newspapers were full of pictures of dry riverbeds across England? It was all down to global warming and was a foretaste of what was to come. Yup. Having come up to Warwickshire on unexpected family business I was this morning keen to make my escape to Bristol by train. But arriving at Moreton in the Marsh station I was told that flooding meant there were no trains from Worcester to Bristol or Swindon to Bristol.

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3171 days ago

The Guardian Newspaper has its uses...well one anyway (honest!)

I am staying with my father for a few days looking after him as my step mother is off in London to see wicked Uncle George. As I have noted before my family (little step sister Flea excluded) are a bunch of deluded lefties and so the paper delivered here every day is The Guardian. Imagine my horror at seeing Polly Toynbee’s face staring at me across the breakfast table in the morning.

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3181 days ago

When in Wales...

My weekend has been spent walking in mid Wales. I needed a break from non-stop writing. And as always I am one who tries to be aware of local cultural sensitivities and so when in Wales…do as the Welsh do.

Hence on Saturday afternoon

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3181 days ago

West Ham Win, go 6th and I cannot look at league tables like this

I had it down as 1 point at best. But Kevin Nolan returned to whatever St James’ Park is called these days to haunt his old club. West Ham defeaedt Newcastle one nil to record our first league win against the Magpies since October 31st 1998. Sam Allardyce ( sacked by Newcastle after eight months in charge) will have enjoyed the win. It seems to have been a close enough game and sometimes lady luck smiles on you. A good day at the office – the league away record now shows 2 wins, 2 defeats and a draw: no disgrace.

A test of how long you have followed West Ham is how you look at a league table. Naturally I start at the bottom. My daughter is now a fully trained supporter and in her second full season seems to think you start at the top.

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3183 days ago

Happy Birthday Bram Stoker – father of Dracula

Bram Stoker was born this day in 1847 In Clontarf Dublin – the place where I now and again play rugby with John Teeling. Like all the very best of us he is of Donegal Church of Ireland stock (on his mother’s side at least). His two claims to fame are that he stole the heart of a woman who was at the time dating fellow Dubliner Oscar Wilde and, his only great work: Dracula.

Clearly Mrs Stoker made a good call on dumping Wilde given that he clearly would rather have “batted for England.” But Stoker’s own sexuality has also been the subject of some speculation. Rather like my late godfather Roger whose first wife decided to become a lesbian and then the mother of his daughter made the same call, perhaps it was just that Mrs Stoker was drawn to a certain type of man.

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3191 days ago

Sir George Young, Baronet, Eton, Christ Church Oxford to reach out for the Tories to the working class

Sir George Young is the new Government chief whip. As it happens I know a bit about him as he is also my second cousin once removed and, rather more importantly, brother of my step mother Helen. And I see that he is now a founder member of a new group of Tory MPs which wants to “reach out” to “blue collar” Tories. The sort of people Young’s predecessor Andrew Mitchell might have described as “plebs.” Young’s qualifications?

Born in a stately home at Cookham, like his grandfather, father and brother he went to Eton then

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3194 days ago

Friends of Albania – no escape from the Health Nazis

As you may remember, having been booted out of the LinkedIn friends of Greece ( for pointing out that Greece was bust and uncompetitive – hardly a revalation) I am now a keen member of the LinkedIn Friends of Albania ( also LinkedIn West Ham Supporters, Friends of Israel, UKIP etc). But i am beginning to have second thoughts.

As it happens my Dad has bought my spare Albanian Lekke from me and landed in the country on Sunday night for a 10 day working holiday.

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3195 days ago

Downton, Dallas, Ginger & Rosa

Is this the last episode of Downton Abbey series three tonight? Maybe it is the penultimate one. But it is hard to see what shocks we could have left. After all it is 1920 so unless the IRA man takes time off from grieving to join the Irish Civil War or Lady Edith heads off to fight for Greece against Turkey it is hard to see what can go wrong. Bates is on his way out of prison. The ex prostitute is settling in well at the Crawley household. Predatory homosexual Thomas really must get his long awaited come uppance downstairs while simple but honest Mary the under-cook looks set to be handed the keys to a farm by the father of the man she married but did not love just before he died.

Non Downton lovers – in this show someone important has to die at least once a series. The pompous prig Matthew Crawley is trying to make himself more exciting by picking a fight with thicko Aristocrat the Earl of Grantham but he is failing. He and Lady Mary really need to emigrate.

In Dallas, the younger generation of John Ross, Chris, Elena and the mad wife of Chris are growing on me. News that Bobby/Patrick Duffy/The Man from Atlantis

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3198 days ago

Thought for the Day – Rev John Bell is ghastly

Hell’s teeth. By accident I find myself listening to the BBC for 30 minutes and I already deeply regret it. It was a mistake that I shall not repeat. My encounter is with the Today programme and first up was the Reverend John Bell from the Iona community who is just absolutely ghastly. He makes me dream once again of Scottish independence in the hope that this dreadful man would not then pollute the airwaves of a free Britain. Scottish independence or shutting down the BBC. Bell needs to come off air.

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3202 days ago

Why can’t we have the only referendum anyone cares about?

What do elected mayors, the Welsh assembly and the UK voting system have in common? Two things: The people got to have their say via referenda and no-one outside the Westminster bubble gave a gnats arse about the result. But there are a couple of issues which are far more important and which folks do care about but the Westminster bubble crowd will just not let us have our say.

First up is Scotland. Let the welfare-junkies vote on their future – I am all for it. But how about we also allow the English a chance to vote on whether we are happy with the current arrangements whereby we pay the tax and the welfare junkies spend it. Me: I am all for Scottish independence. It would be good for the Scots to have to stand on their own two feet and it would be great for the English not to have to pick up the tab for Scottish self-indulgence and fecklessness. So how about we get a say too?

Okay that is perhaps a pipedream. But there is a more important issue: should the UK stay inside the EU.

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3208 days ago

I am green AND a Global Warming sceptic

Everyone knows that I think that global warming is, as a theory, pure bunkum unbacked by evidence or science. And so it is not a surprise that Met Office data admitting that global warming stopped 16 years ago was greeted with a ‘Gotcha’ from me on Sunday. The response from one tweeter was “Yey! Keep driving 4×4’s, don’t recycle burn it, destroy forests, pollute rivers, Go man go. Must feel good knowing all a scam.” Au contraire you have got it all wrong. Being a global warming sceptic is in fact the green thing to do.

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3210 days ago

Happy Birthday Margaret Thatcher

This day in 1925 In Grantham Lincolnshire was born Margaret Hilda Roberts. The daughter of a shop owner and Alderman of the town, Maggie Thatcher went on to become one of the greatest leaders this country has known. She is a marmite figure. Everyone has a view. Before we come to that: you know where I stand on this one and so from me it is Happy Birthday Maggie.

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3212 days ago

Should I report a corporate theft to the Old Bill?

It seems that someone has obtained my home address in an illegal manner and used it in a way that caused immense distress to my nearest and dearest. With enough on their plate already this has caused real pain and anguish. And, the lawyer for those responsible has admitted that it happened. What to do?

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3221 days ago

Piss off Argentina T-Shirts really do Exist: The proof

I know that some folks reckon that our Piss Off Argentina T-shirts and mugs are a gimmick and do not really exist. Well they do and always have done. And here is the proof: I have today received five in the post.

One is for me (as you can see below). Two are for caption contest winners other than me. One is for David Cameron for the next time he goes to the UN. And we will be presenting one to the Argentine embassy in London shortly as a gift for that mad cow who is in charge of the Argies right now.

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3227 days ago

Nick Clegg gets it right (for once) – universal benefits must go

Life is pretty grim when Nick Clegg is the party leader who is closest to getting it right on benefits. But well done to him for saying that rich pensioners should not get free TV licenses, bus passes and winter fuel allowances. Of course he does not go far enough but it is a start.

Just a reminder. The UK will have the biggest budget deficit in the EU next year. For all the talk of wicked Tory cuts we are hurtling towards a situation where our state finances are in a worse state than those of Spain, France, Italy etc.

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3229 days ago

Yet Again, congratulations due to my good friend Zak Mir (and Mrs M)

Zak Mir was a late starter in the reproduction game but once he got going there has been no holding him back. And so once again I find myself congratulating him and Mrs Mir who gave birth to a boy on Friday, their fourth child. Having sworn to become a good Catholic when marrying Mrs Mir, I am sure that his Holiness is proud of how Zak has followed his teachings in at least one regard.

You are discovering my obsession with Venn diagrams. Rather like my LinkedIn isolation of being a friend of Albania, Israel and a West Ham Supporter, Zak also stands on his own. I cannot believe there are many Glaswegian, Old Harrovian Moslems now following a Catholic life. His Harrow education has left Zak barely literate,

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3230 days ago

West Ham Sunderland – I do not understand Fat Sam

My daughter loved the game and the chocolate pizza at Real Man Pizza Company afterwards. For me, it was great to be back at Upton Park. The same seat as ever. A bloke called Roger standing next to me as he always does. I know nothing about Roger except that we always shake hands and he is a nice chap. There were some new folks behind – Ulster Hammers. I am glad my daughter did not ask me to explain why those around us were chanting “She said No” whenever Titus Bramble got the ball.

West Ham conceded a soft goal. On balance we looked the better side and Kevin Nolan’s last gasp equaliser was the least we deserved.

The defence frailties continue to concern me. If our back four and goalkeeper keep on insisting on making howlers

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3231 days ago

150 minutes to first Upton Park kick off of the season

No more writing for me today. Something more important…my first home game of the season at Upton Park. In 150 minutes time my daughter and I shall be belting out “i’m forever blowing bubbles” as the teams walk on the pitch. If you are not a soccer fan you will not understand but that moment always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on end.

No doubt we will be whingeing about Fat Sam before half time “Same old West Ham, always taking the piss”. Yup I know it. But we have not been to a game for ages. We always chat about the score after every match. But this is it…off to the Boleyn we go. Then back to Real Man Pizza. Chocolate pizza for her. A drown my sorrows, glass of red for me.

Blogging (plus video + Tomograph) resumes tomorrow.

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3234 days ago

I am officially a friend of Albania at last – Madlands, Murderlands on the way

You may remember that I was evicted from the LinkedIn Friends of Greece Group for saying that Albania was a better value holiday destination than poor old Greece. This mortified me, as a long standing Hellenophile, but I know when I am not welcome and so two months ago applied to join the LinkedIn Friends of Albania group. This morning, in a frightening display of efficiency my application has finally been accepted.

I see that the trending discussion is on how to combat drug and alcohol abuse in Tirana. I am ready to contribute my two lekke worth.

I wonder how many other folks on LinkedIn are Friends of Albania but also participate actively in the Friends of Israel and West Ham United supports groups. I suspect that a Venn diagram of these groupings would show me all by myself

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3236 days ago

My Fellow West Ham fan Ben Bernanke – The Weekly Video is Live

Like me Ben Bernanke is always blowing bubbles. It is just that he does not realise that they eventually fade and die. Recorded before today’s rather dull nil nil draw at Norwich (only highlight: Nolan not booked) the weekly video is back.

Recorded in the back garden of my father & step mother’s house, forgive the relaxed attire. Step mother Helen is very kindly doing a wash.

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3237 days ago

Weekend TV: Downton is back, Watching for Great Aunt Joan plus Brothers & Sisters

And so the family weekend continues. I wake up feeling a bit hazy after a night hitting the hotspots of Shipston on Stour with my little step sister Flea (Felicity). If I lived here I would turn to drink in a serious way, with Flea leading me astray. A family meal with Dad, step mum, set sister Lulah and sister Naomi had gone before it. Only one sister and step brother Tom missing.

It seems that I am not the only person who adores the mind-pap US TV series Brothers & Sisters which starred Rob Lowe, Calista Flockhart and Sally Field – Flea is a fan too. It is about a dysfunctional family with six brothers and sisters (if you include Ryan) – the Walkers. Flea and I carefully explained the dynamics, some of which are political. The youngest sister and the oldest and youngest brothers (Kitty, Tommy and Justin) are Republicans. The father (William, who died in episode one) was a Republican. The mother and the other kids are ultra drippy, totally deluded Democrats. And their political allegiances drive the way they view life. I thought that I was the only non Guardian reader in this W family – although my father is a closet Telegraph reader and is, I am sure, at heart conservative in outlook although he’d never admit it.

But lo and behold Flea piped up with a political view for the first time ever, complaining that while – as a single mum – she works to support her kids (the dad is a deadbeat), other parents at her school opt not to work but live on a welfare funded lifestyle of beer, cigarettes and going fishing.

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3280 days ago

New Media Stats - Do you Believe 1 of them?

I rather sense that Facebook is the tip of the iceberg. In case you missed it the company has admitted that 1 in 10 of its (almost 1 billion) accounts are bogus.

Worse still, a customer has pulled its advertising claiming that 80% of the cash it paid over on a click per payment basis was for clicks generated by bots (automatic programmes). But I suspect it is not just Facebook where an obsession with headline users masks one or two issues.

I found myself celebrating this week as on Thursday I moved into the top 18 million Tweeters on this planet in terms of followers. By Friday I was in the top 17 million and by the time you read this I expect to be in the top 15 million. The power of my tweeting! My Chest swelled as I thought how, in 8 weeks, I have overtaken the vast bulk of the world’s 500 million tweeters in terms of following. Gosh I must be funny! Ahem. I then disovered that around 1 in 10 of those folks had not actually tweeted anything and had no followers at all. It appears that by the time my step sister Flea, plus my amour of 1986 Abbe and Karen, Colombia’s second greatest export after cocaine, had followed me I had already overtaken about 20% of twitter users in terms of following.

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3281 days ago

The Blair Experience – Have Not Albanians suffered enough?

I celebrated becoming one of the top 18 million most followed folks on twitter (titter ye not, after 7 weeks I have way more than the mean number of followers) by wandering off in search of the Mosque here in Sarande. More on that tomorrow but it was hard to find and I kept ending up at the synagogue (ruined for 1500 years). Perhaps that tells you something. Eventually, post Mosque, I got lost again and found myself at the tourist office where I enquired about buses to Butrint, my next stop and how I go from there to Zitsa. The place was also a bookshop and so I had a butchers. Dad, sorry to report that none of your Albanian epics are on sale.

Prominently displayed was Mein Kampf in both German and Albanian. What is the market for Hitler’s crazed blueprint for a Nazi world among Albanian speakers? I hope that it is rather small. And which Germans want a copy? Does that guy giving the interesting salute to the Kraut team at the Olympic opening ceremony, holiday in Albania and feel the need to brush up on the basics of racial purity? The mind boggles, but both versions were positioned where you could not avoid seeing them.

Under Hoxha the Albanians were not allowed any exposure to Western media bar the films of the late Norman Wisdom, known here as “Pitkin.” As far as I can see Wisdom only had one joke.

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3282 days ago

Conned by the Silver Surfer and his SEO Campaign – Thanks Dad

I am trying to find a map of Southern Albania and Nothern Greece to plan my trek over the border. Naturally I go to Google and enter that exact term. And I am offered an exact match. I click and what do I find but a long and worthy article on “Southern Albania, Northern Epirus, Survey of a Disputed Ethnological Boundary.” Gripping stuff. And its author? Dr TJ Winnifrith, my Dad, who has only just learned to use email.

Is this some clever SEO manipulation by the Society Farsarotul, the Vlach Society of the USA or does Google just think that all I am interested in is myself, Tom Winnifrith. If it is the latter, Google you are wrong I just want a bloody map. If it is the former, I am shocked that my father mixes with such SEO geniuses. Should you wish to read this excellent article by my father you can do so HERE.

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3291 days ago

A Pheasant in a Pet Shop & a Vlach from Oz by the Pool

I have just moved hotels. I need somewhere quieter to work and so after a few days near Corfu town I am back in a rather secluded little place down the coast. That is to say, Spiros has welcomed me back with open arms as I am back at the hotel that appeared to have only one room on the booking site but where I was in fact the only guest. It appears that there has been a massive pick up in trade and now, three of the 15 rooms are occupied. How many businesses in Greece can boast of a 200% increase in revenues in just a few days?

I leave my last hotel with a good stack of happy memories (no Swedish blondes sadly) but a couple are worth mentioning. For my father first.

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3291 days ago

Visiting The Corfu Synagogue – the Meaning of Holocaust

I have written before about Joe Levy, godfather to Olivia and my very good friend. We met when he was the handyman who looked after – among other things – a house in Swiss Cottage converted into six flats where I lived with Olivia’s mother. The two houses I bought/co-bought after that were redesigned by me and Joe put my ideas into practice. He is truly a faultless human being, bar his support for Chelsea. He was born here in Corfu and is, as you may have guessed, Jewish.

Yesterday I followed the sign to the “Jewish Quarter.” There is no real quarter just a synagogue which is in impeccable condition, is fully renovated and was being cared for by a rather fat old lady who was talking animatedly in Hebrew to some Israeli visitors. Needless to say she also spoke perfect English. The building is more than 400 years old. And in 1940 there were around 2000 Jews living on the Island – among them Joe Levy then still wearing nappies.

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3297 days ago

New Tom Winnifrith video – shooting up Google rankings

I check out Tom Winnifrith as a google search now and again just in case my new pal, pouting hackette Anna White has been a naughty girl again. And in the past few days I see shooting up the rankings a new video by Tom Winnifrith. Since I have not recorded anything for a while, this came as a bit of a shock until I discovered that like quite a few other google entries it refers to my Dad, the old silver surfer himself (Dr) Tom Winnifrith.

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3298 days ago

A sharp increase in the cost of smoking & Dodgy websites

No. Not the sort of dodgy websites so central to the training regime of Italian goalie Buffon, I refer to my hotel booking site. As I made my booking (no credit card needed, very handy) a message kept flashing up saying that I was pursuing the last available room and that 6 other folks were also looking at it. Cripes, better hurry up. Having been here for 24 hours it dawns on me that mine is the only room here that is in fact occupied.

So the pool is empty, there are no fat Germans/ Scandinavian pensioners on the sun-loungers, I have a dedicated service whenever I want a cafe frappe (milk but no sugar natch) or a diet coke and I have complete peace and quiet.

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3305 days ago

(Lack of) Service Culture, Internet frustration and Greece

Do not get me wrong, I adore Greece. Right now I am almost half contemplating not bothering returning to the UK at all. But nowhere is perfect and Greece has its faults (as you may have noticed). The deal used to be with Greece that things did not work properly/the food might have been a bit rough (though that has its charms), etc but it was very cheap. Then Greece joined the Euro and so now you suffer the downside but it costs you more.

My frustration of the day has been with the internet. My room does not have a connection to WiFi. The hotel explains that this is to protect guests from radiation. Er… right. And so while I can write offline in my room to send over copy I must go either to reception or to a cafe up the road. Each has its own distinct drawback.

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3316 days ago

Olivia is 11 – A very Proud father writes..

This is my personal blog and so if only one person reads this article (that being Olivia) I care little. But my daughter is 11 today, I am miles and miles away and I am terribly proud of her. She was a “miracle baby” in that she survived at all and although divorce has limited my contact with her there is not a day that goes by when I do not think of her, revel in her achievements and look forward to the next gripping instalment of her life.

Olaf was born a year into the life of t1ps.com.

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3319 days ago

Happy Birthday Branwell Bronte

There is a painting I own which my father jokingly says was done by Branwell Bronte. It is shockingly bad and rarely displayed. Branwell would have been 195 today and so happy birthday from one of weak Irish descent who likes the odd drink to another of stronger Irish descent who liked more than the odd drink . Who you may ask is Branwell and why do I care?

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3321 days ago

92% of Doctors are NOT Greedy scumbags

My sister and brother in law trained at vast expense to the taxpayer to become doctors. One is now doing a couple of days a week to ensure that she earns twice the national average wage and lolling around the rest of the time. The other is a full time classical singer. A great return for the taxpayer for the investment put in. Not. Most folks who train as doctors do actually stick with the profession. And why not? Trousering an average of £105,000 a year for a sub 40 hour week you get to retire on a pension of £65,000 – more than twice the national average wage. And most of that pension is paid for by the taxpayer. What a bargain (for the doctors), yet some of them want more.

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3326 days ago

To have a mobile or not?

A big decision. I was a late adapter to the world of mobiles. But these days it clings to me. Calls arrive late at night and early in the morning. I think my window of latest and earliest is 1 AM and 4 AM. It disrupts family life and meals but you cannot switch it off in case a call really is important. However, a Manx Telecom account is a luxury I can do without as using it in England is just ridiculously expensive. And so I shall soon junk the mobile and my current number. But do I bother with getting a UK mobile account? Heck my 10 year old daughter has one as does my 74 year old father although the latter has not yet worked out how to use this new-fangled device.

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3327 days ago

Doing Two Sets of Books at Real Man

No, no ,no not one for the taxman and one for us! Just a day on two sets of books at the restaurant. First up is my library. The most valuable books are stored safely elsewhere but I still have well over a thousand books picked up over the years which are now being housed downstairs at the Real Man Pizza Company on Clerkenwell Road. If you have a spare afternoon and fancy a read over a coffee or just a book to digest as you digest a chocolate pizza – you now know where to go.

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3328 days ago

Happy Father’s Day

Breakfast in bed. A pleasant lunch by the river and I am promised a final treat later today. All in all very good, only marred by the pain in the neck job of moving furniture into and around the house. I also called my father. We both view father’s day as a big commercial con so there is nothing more than an exchange of greetings but then we speak several times a week anyway and he has sent a letter every week or so to me for 20 years.

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3328 days ago

Greeks, Lesbians and Vlachs – why my fascination with Greece?

I am asked why am I so fascinated with Greece? In part it is a romantic thing – the idea of brave Hellas reasserting its independence and history – see my great hero pictured here. But it is more a family thing. My father’s family have been Helleno-nuts for 200 years. I shall touch on Lesbians, in that vein, below.

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3329 days ago

Beloved Hellas on the road to Hell

As you cannot fail to have noticed there is yet another Greek election on Sunday. The choice is clear: one of the two “old” parties (Pasok and New Democracy) which are both run by crooks and who will sign up to more austerity/another bailout or a variety of fruitcakes who will reject the EU’s kind offer. Some of the fruitcakes have some utterly repellent views on other matters.

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