Bill Gyles IS the weatherman!

Former Weatherman Bill Gyles’s (OBE) broadcasting career began in 1972 when he transferred to the London Weather Centre to become part of the team forecasting for BBC Radio moving to television forecasting in 1975. Here he talks to Jason McCrossan about the recent spate of bad weather that has hit Britain.

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Slippery Salmond – would you trust this man?

Union Jack and The Flag of Scotland
Union Jack and The Flag of Scotland

I came across this video today and it’s not only informative but also pretty humour too.  I cannot not vote in the Scotland referendum to break with the United Kingdom but if I could vote…I’d vote no.

This referendum is merely a vanity project and it is a shame that so much money is being spent on it at a time when real and substantial cuts are being made to public finance.

First Minister Alex Salmond
First Minister Alex Salmond

So, why I think we should NOT have an independent Scotland?

1)     The country can barely manage to muster an international football team – what hope of an army and navy?

2)     What was the last thing Scotland ever won as a nation? (outside of the commonwealth games – which had the help of the London Olympics team bidders)

3)     Who will pay for Scotland’s healthcare?
The 2011 Census showed that the number of people aged 65 and over was higher than the number aged under 15. The number of over-65s has increased by 85,000 (11%) since 2001, and now represents some 17% of the total population.   There were 230,000 people aged 80 and over in 2011, an increase of 19% on the figure of 193,000 in 2001.

4)     Who will pay for Scotland’s pensions? If you think the cost of the NHS is bad – just wait until they have to fund their own pensioners!

5)     Who will pay for the defence of Scotland? Truth is, Scotland can only afford a “token” army – so, if ever the chips were down…we’d jump back in bed with England

6)     What currency will Scotland choose?  As can be seen from the video – at first, Alex Salmond wanted to get rid of the Sterling shackles and opt for the Euro currency.  NOW, that the Euro is in meltdown – he wants to stay with England’s currency….hardly a credible response.  In a speech in Edinburgh George Osborne has said that England will NOT share the pound with Scotland.  Anyway, some argue that a reliance on Sterling would likely consign Scotland to an even weaker position that it has today.  “No currency and you simply become a colony of the Bank of England”.

7)     What about the UK’s national debt?   As pointed out by this Guardian article Scotland contains around 5.1 million of the UK’s 62.2 million people,  its share of the debt could be £81bn or greater.  Scotland’s net borrowing would be a parlous £19.3bn in 2009/10 – around 17% of GDP (oh & North Sea oil is not the answer)

8)     People would have to pay more taxes.  It is as simple as that.  The people of Scotland would have to pay more – to get less than they get right now (Salmond wants to keep the BBC – but why should he?)

9)     Could it join the EU?  Not according to the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso who said it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” to get the agreement of all existing EU members in order to become a new state.

10)    “Scotland would be better off alone”…that is according to Alex Salmond who I honestly believe has set about on this vanity project which is more about trying to get his name scribbled into a history book – than it has to do with what is best for Scotland and it’s people.  Already he has used what I would see as anti-English sentiments claiming   ‘People do become sick and tired of the succession of day-tripping Conservative ministers flying up to Scotland to deliver lectures and then flying back to Westminster again’.  Why shouldn’t George Osborne deliver a lecture in Edinburgh?  It’s ONE country! Worst of all the crap that comes out of Alex Salmond’s mouth is the drip dripping of anti-English sentiments.  It is a sure sign that he doesn’t think he win the vote purely on the basis of facts – so, he’s going to try and get people’s “yes” vote by anti-English racism.  There is already evidence that racism is on the rise in Scotland.

Finally, I have found an actual voting card that could be used in the referendum due to take place

Scottish Independence voting card
Scottish Independence voting card

An End To Benefits Street

james turner street
AKA Benefits Street

And so it came to pass that a programme which told it’s participants they were recording a show about “community spirit” and how individuals “were working together and helping each other in tough times” finally ended.  The fact that the programme makers lied to the participants (they filmed lots of working people and community events over 18 months that was just dumped) – doesn’t seem to matter as they would have been made to sign contracts waiving any rights to what material was used and how the show was edited (under the guise of – we are programme makers – we understand this process – you are poor and stupid…errr you are in need of some well deserving attention brought upon you and (fairy dust sprinkle) (annoyingly enthusiastic voice) – we can make it happen.

The series ended with a ‘live’ debate, involving  the participants and other interested parties including MPs and journalists who written some nasty stuff – about these benefits scum…I mean those people who claim additional financial support from the state.

Two of the documentary participants
Two of the documentary participants

Mass hysteria had been whipped up in the press and from commentators about the fairness of the welfare system and this programme was all the evidence they needed.  “It’s not fair that people should sit about all day doing nothing and then get paid money for it” they shrieked!!  Really?   so what do these so called commentators do with the rest of their 37 hours after they’ve spent just 3 slagging off lazy, idle, work shy scroungers into 500 words?  Does yet another afternoon lunch with Sebastian and Felicity for a skinny Mocha -chocca-latte -chino-frappo crapo chato – followed by attending yet another pretentious “must see” exhibition at a tiny art gallery – quaffing free champaign – really count as work?

The truth is, seeing laziness in others is easy.  Seeing it in ourselves – when we spend so much time flapping and “frapping” about from one “rendezvous” to another….not so.  And therefore I don’t rush to criticise nor condemn the people that channel 4 made minor celebrities out of.

Actually, I think on the whole they came across ok.  There are much worse streets out there where the people aren’t full of witty remarks and camaraderie – but nasty and truly awful to each other – where stealing from their neighbour is just as commonplace as stealing from the state.  Streets where the police only go when required and for whom society and it’s morals might as well be on another planet.

And then, like the benefits themselves – it all finished.  I’m hard pressed to come to a conclusion about what the merits or otherwise of watching the programme had on me – or for that matter, the general debate on welfare.  In the first episode I learned that if you want to try and shoplift something – try wrapping kitchen foil in the bottom the bag – as it stops…something….from doing…something… or something like that?  Then in the second episode I learned that gangs of european men come over here on a promise of easy work and easy money – only to find themselves in squalid conditions, working 12 hour days and only receive token payments for their labour.  When they try to report the dodgy gang master who is not paying them money  – and our police and state seem impotent in it’s ability to deal with the situation…”go after the bloody businesses where these men work and are being exploited” I shouted at the TV screen.  Nothing happened.

There were of course other characters:  the rather annoyingly chirpy church woman who is keen to transform James Turner Street from a rather downtrodden, ugly, messy street into a downtrodden, ugly clean-ish street; the guy who knocks on people’s doors selling things for 50p – hence why he is known as the “50p man” – but doesn’t have much luck and (capitalists look away now) seems to take pity on every other person he meets – and gives them stuff from his bargain box free.

Deirdre Kelly or White Dee on Benefits Street
Deirdre Kelly or white Dee on Benefits Street

Finally, we got to the “Live Debate” – hosted by Richard Bacon and stuffed full of people I think I’d heard of and faces I think I recognised.

This mass-debate was pretty poor – lots of uncoordinated shouting or cheering – depending upon what point was ineloquently made.  White Dee (it seems she prefers to be called Dee – real name Deirdre Kelly) was the only human from the programme that was allowed (or trusted) to speak more than one sentence.

There was the Minister for Work and Pensions – whose name I forget, but who used to be a fireman in a previous life (told us twice) and whom at one point, if I heard correctly, made a joke about shagging white Dee’s mum??  The Minister’s shadow Minister (do try and keep up) had been too busy to watch the programme (too many functions with free booze & cold sandwiches to attend) and so watch 3 of them that day and was appalled by stuff that I can’t remember and don’t care to regurgitate.

One of the interesting angles that came out of this debate for me was seeing those hard nosed columnists, who normally write whilst cocooned in the safety of their middle class homes – their venom slowly dripping onto the page – come face to face with those people whom they’d slagged off.  Being people on benefits – of course they had actually read any of the articles and so weren’t offended in the least – but Mr Bacon did try and get a bit of a confrontation going – alas there was nothing to bite.  The columnists didn’t want to say things such as “I wish you hadn’t had any children you couldn’t afford” or “I have not met such nasty dole-scum since one traveled on a train in London”.  More of this – commenter -v- commentee would be interesting.

James Turner Resident Dee Roberts (Black Dee)
James Turner Resident Dee Roberts (Black Dee)

The debate only had Richard Bacon as it’s thread and I didn’t feel he really managed to weave it together very well and generally it seemed the pre-production of it had been sloppy and lazy at best.  So, basically, it couldn’t have finished better.

Scottish Jokes

800px-Flag_of_Scotland.svg

My partner asked me to explain 99.9% of these jokes…

Most had me lol…& lmfao

Seriously.

Here we go….

**********

A teenage girl phones her dad at midnight and says: ‘Can you come and get me? I’ve missed the last bus and it’s pouring with rain.’

‘Okay,’ says her dad. ‘Where are you ringing from?’

The girl says: ‘From the top of my head right down to my knickers.’

**********

A Glasgow woman goes to the dentist and settles down in the
chair.
‘Comfy?’ asks the dentist.
‘Govan,’ she replies.

Dentist
Dentist

**********

Oor Wullie
Oor Wullie

What did the Siamese twins from Glasgow call their
autobiography? Oor Wullie.

**********

Did you hear about the lonely prisoner? He was in his cell.

Old man
Old man

**********

A guy walks into an antiques shop and says: ‘How much for the set of antlers?’
‘Two hundred quid,’ says the bloke behind the counter.
‘That’s affa dear,’ says the guy.

**********

Did you hear about the fella who liked eating bricks and
cement? He’s awa’ noo.

Brick wall
A wall

**********

After announcing he’s getting married, a boy tells his pal
he’ll be wearing the kilt. ‘And what’s the tartan?’ asks his mate.
‘Oh, she’ll be wearing a white dress,’ he replies.

**********
Ten cows in a field. Which one is closest to Iraq?
Coo eight.

A Coo
A Coo
Kuwait
Kuwait

**********

Three wee jobbies sitting on the pavement. Which one’s a  Musketeer?

The dark tan yin.

**********

Scottish phone box
Scottish phone box

A Scotsman in London is having trouble phoning his sister from a telephone box so he calls the operator who asks in aplummy
voice: ‘Is there money in the box?’

‘Naw, it’s just me,’ he replies.

**********

While getting ready to go out, a wee wifie says to her
husband: ‘Shug, do you think I’m getting a wee bit pigeon chested?’

And he  says: ‘Aye, but that’s why I love you like a doo.’

**********

What was the name of the first Scottish cowboy?
Hawkeye The Noo.

Scottish Cowboy
Scottish Cowboy

**********

What do you call a pigeon that goes to Aviemore for its
holidays?

A skean dhu.

Pigeon
Pigeon

**********

How many Spanish guys does it take to change a lightbulb?
Just Juan.

***********

A man takes a pair of shoes back to the shop and complains
that there is a lace missing. ‘No,’ argues the assistant, ‘look at the
label – it says Taiwan.’

***********

What about the Scotsman who lost his testicles in a
motorcycle accident?

The surgeon re-attached them with Bostik.

***********

Why was the Chinese restaurant so bad?
Because the chef was Low Ping.

***********

Old Bus
Old Bus

While being interviewed for a job as a bus driver, a guy is
asked:
‘What would you do if you had a rowdy passenger?’ ‘I’d put him off
at the next stop,’ he says. ‘Good. And what would you do if you couldn’t get the fare?’

‘I’d take the first two weeks in August,’ he replies.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland
Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Stroud FM Off Air

Stroud FM logo
Stroud FM logo

Sad news today – I heard that Stroud FM had ceased broadcasting due to a funding gap of £8,000.  The station launched it’s full time 107.9 FM schedule in 2008.

Since 2002, when the then Radio Authority licensed 15 so-called “Access Radio” stations, community radio has gone from strength to strength offering people in the local areas where they broadcast – something different to listen to – or not.  They offer choice.

Stroud FM broadcast area
Stroud FM broadcast area

It is this diversity of programming and choice that is on offer which make these community radio stations a rich addition to the often glossy but mundane non-stop, music pop; non-repeat, but all the same beat; non-interesting, ear blistering; 10 dull songs in a row groan-some guarantee.

I’m not saying there is not a place for glossy radio.  However, if I wanted to listen to non-stop music – I’d use iTunes.  When I need access to news – I don’t wait until the top of the hour – I go to the internet.  In fact, my iphone often reminds me how little texts I get by annoyingly beeping me news flashes – with my initial thought – wow someone’s texted me.

Any radio station is only as good as the content it pumps out – the stuff they do between the songs.  The great thing about community radio is that they genuinely try and fill the content gap between the glossy 10 in a row and make programmes that are that bit more local and a bit more unpolished.   From the local business to the zlist celebrity doing a one man/woman show in town – the beauty of community radio is in the voices that wouldn’t otherwise be heard.  And yes, it’s ok to get angry at the radio/radio presenter for what they say/don’t say.  That’s how we engage.

I visited Nottingham in January for a couple of days with my partner and we ended up in Manchester – at the weirdly opulent (money was sloshing around) Trafford Centre.  The one thing I noticed most when travelling?  That the radio stations I often landed on, and stuck with (range permitting), turned out to be community radio stations.   Of course, you can rightly point out that if that was the one thing that stuck out most on my journey –  I should get a bloody life and my partner should get another boyfriend.  With that, I cannot argue.

So, it is sad that another community radio station has hit the buffers and sank in the often choppy and vastly overwhelming funding ocean.  Ofcom is often good at initially supporting community radio stations – but most find that support dries up quicker than a free bar at a Scottish wedding – giving all an equal headache.

170px-DCMS_logo

It’s pleasing to learn that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have started their community radio consultation to relax the current financial restrictions on community radio – and other things too.

Let’s hope that something good comes from the DCMS consultation and that it offers greater support to local radio stations that might be small in size when compared to their commercial counterparts – but punch well above their weight in ambition.

Whether or not the relaxing of finance rules would have saved stations like Stroud FM – I simply can’t judge.  I’ll leave it to station director Richard Joyce to give some insight into what led Stroud to do the one thing that sends a shudder down the spine of all radio station owners/managers – switching off the transmitter.

Speaking to local newspaper Stroud News Richard said “It’s been a really difficult time for community radio over recent years with grants getting smaller and smaller, making it very difficult to keep going. We were struggling to put plans together for the future and unfortunately it got to the point where we just couldn’t continue.”

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Volunteers at Stroud FM

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentines-day-valentines-day-22236757-2560-1600

Today we are obliged to be romantic
And think of yet another valentine.

We know the rules and we are both pedantic:
Today’s the day we have to be romantic.

Our love is old and sure, not new and frantic.
You know I’m yours and I know you are mine.

And saying that has made me feel romantic,
My dearest love, my darling valentine.

by Wendy Cope (1945 – )

Got my valentines card through!

From my sweet boyfriend
From my sweet boyfriend

Holey Moly!

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So, the saga of the saggy middle motorway which lead to a rather aggressive 15ft hole opening up just near Sittingbourne on the M2 continues.

Geotechnical (a bloke looking down the hole thoughtfully) investigations are ongoing to discover what caused it to develop. Lucky it couldn’t have happened in a better spot as a few yards either side and it might also have swallowed up some poor driver with their car – and we can but guess that outcome!

Traffic is still slow and will be for the next few days whilst the men and women in their high-vis jackets – scratch their heads, point a lot and take great satisfaction in the fact that they are deemed important enough to peer inside, whilst the rest of the bourgeoisie  can do nothing more than admire the pictures 😦

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What exactly causes a sink hole?

I had absolutely no idea, then I found this graphic has helped to demystify this phenomenon somewhat!

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Sinkholes are part of the slow, natural process of erosion in limestone terrain that occur over thousands of years. These common geologic phenomena generally occur where the limestone is within a few hundred feet of the land’s surface

Source:  Inspiring Tech  blog

That said – there have been bigger sink holes…none of which I’d want to be living near when they open!!

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Sinkhole in Guatemala
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A different view of sinkhole in Guatemala
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Police Car Swallowed in Texas
Sinkhole in house
Eeek! Someone actually disappeared down that hole!
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What a glorious hole…the Great Blue Hole near Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Monday Matters 10th Feb 2014

Gyles Brandreth is Looking for Happiness
Gyles Brandreth is Looking for Happiness

On the show today, Jason speaks to writer, broadcaster and former MP Gyles Brandreth who is currently on tour with his one-man show called Looking for happiness. Gyles is a reporter on The One Show on BBC1 and a regular on Radio 4’s Just a Minute, his many books include The Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries and the No 1 best-seller: The 7 Secrets of Happiness.

Also on the show, the featured artist is Peter Gabriel who turned 64 years old during this week and Kyra has the gig guide and latest music news.

We aslo feature music from: Tom Petty, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Paul McCartney, Shivaree, MØ, Broken bells, Pink Floyd, Ultravox, Suzanne Vega and Jack Johnson.

And we give The Last Word to cultural theorist Stuart Hall who died at the age of 82 on the 10th February 2014.  Stuart coined the term ‘Thatcherism’ and profoundly influenced New Labour.

For more information about Gyles you can visit his website at http://www.gylesbrandreth.net/


Listen to Monday Matters with Jason McCrossan

Do you have vertigo? Yes, to the top of Shanghai Tower!!

Russian’s, as can be seen from the many dashboard CAM crash videos, are a crazy yet hardy lot.  The Russian version of a 3-a-day involves cigarettes, vodka and spitting.

Living up to that hardy reputation are Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov who have filmed the moment that they scaled China’s new tallest building – the second tallest in the world.

I actually get butterflies in my stomach from just watching this video.  Ok, maybe it’s because they are  “young” or maybe just “foolhardy” or maybe it’s because put simply…they are “Russian”. Whatever the answer, whatever the reason – I do have to admire their balls.

Oh and by-the-by 650 meters equates to 2,132ft!

On his blog Vadim writes: “Aware of the strict Chinese law, we prepared carefully and picked an appropriate date, the Chinese New Year day. At that time the security was less watchful, workers were on vacations, and cranes did not work. We got to the crane at around midnight. It took us almost two hours to get on the 120th floor by foot. And also, we spend almost 18 hours on top of the building, sleeping and waiting for better weather. The result you can see in our new video.”

His  blog is worth checking out, just for the pictures:

Vadim Raskalov’s blog 

Top of the Tower
Top of the Tower