Sunday, 30 September 2007

Max Biaggi Takes a One-Two

In the Italian round of the World Super Bike series and is now placed second in the championship.

The Roman Emporer is just 29 points behind Britain's James Toseland the leader, with a final round to go next week in France and 50 points on offer over the two races.

The ever popular Japanese rider, Noriyuki Haga goes to third spot and is 32 behind Toseland and breathing right down Biaggi's neck.

I've always followed Biaggi, right from his 250 cc Moto GP days and I was sad to see him leave the premier class. However, he has shown true grit to continue his career in the sport that made Carl Fogarty such a household name, back in the 90s and much as I'd like to see Toseland win the title, I'm hoping for an upset.

Either way, it promises to be a great weekend for production bike and a very close finish.

Go Max!

Current standings:

1. James Toseland (GBR) 396pts (8 wins)

2. Max Biaggi (ITA) 367 (+29, 3 wins)

3. Noriyuki Haga (JPN) 363 (+32, 4 wins)

4. Troy Bayliss (AUS) 341 (+55, 7 wins)

5. Troy Corser (AUS) 267 (+129)

Shanghai Surprise

Against the odds, Germany have retained their Women's World Cup crown by beating the impressive and skillful Brazilians 2-0 in today's final.

Whilst the Brazilians dominated the first half, the score remained 0-0; although Daniela crashed a fine 20-yard volley against the post early on.

The dead lock was broken in the 51st minute when Birgit Prinz, Germany's outstanding captain, scored a somewhat flukey goal as her scuffed shot squeezed under the keeper.

Brazil kept on pushing forward in search of the equalizer and ended up winning a penalty. Marta's poor shot was easily shot saved by Nadine Angerer, the German keeper and the Germans sealed their win when Simone Laudehr headed home late on in the game.

What is perhaps even more incredible is that not only are the Germans the first team to ever retain their title, they have done so without conceding a single goal. Truly remarkable.

I feel desperately sorry for the entertaining side from South America but I am really chuffed that Germany succeeded in winning. Well done to the entire team and coaching staff.

Now This is a First

North Somerset Council has cut a third of its £300 000 contribution to the Road Safety Partnership after declaring the group has lost sight of its original purpose and criticising the use of speed cameras as nothing more than a money making exercise.

They also blamed the Government for taking money generated by the fines to swell central coffers, rather than ploughing it back into local safety schemes.

A spokesman for the Council said: "What used to happen was all the money brought in from fines was passed straight to the local authority and the road partnership. But it now goes to the Treasury which creams some off the top, so it is a money-making exercise."

Good on them and let's hope more people realise the truth and follow their example.

A Blow to Drink Driving


Here's a good idea, DIY breath test machines to detect levels of alcohol are being trialed in public car parks around the country.
Drivers blow into a plastic pipe until prompted to stop and seconds later a reading flashes on a screen, telling them whether they can legally drive or not. The Alcolizer machine (shown above) uses the same technology as police breathalysers.
The Alcolizers cost £5 000 each, and every user is provided with a clean pipe to blow through. Some are free to use and others cost a quid a pop.
However, an almost sneering copper said: "We see a lot of these gimmicks. It is difficult to know how accurate they are. Our message would be: 'Do not drink and get behind the wheel. Full stop.'"
Yes mate- which bit about "using the same technology" as Plod have in their machines didn't you understand or are you suggesting your own kit is dodgy?

Listening In

It's the 1st of October tomorrow and not only will you need to be 18 or over to buy any fags, there is also another law coming into effect.

New laws will compel phone companies to retain information, however private, about all landline and mobile calls, and make them available to some 795 public bodies and quangos. Officials from the top of Government to lowly council officers will be given unprecedented powers to access details of every phone call in Britain.

Whilst the new rules will give police and security services access to phone calls in their continuing quest to combat terrorism, the information will also be made available to the tax authorities, 475 local councils, and many other organisations, including the Food Standards Agency, the Department of Health, the Immigration Service, the Gaming Board and the Charity Commission.

So much for the Data Protection Act...

Changing of the Guard

The guards at Buckingham Palace are famed for their "stiff upper lips" and ability to remain completely stone-faced whilst on duty, despite extreme provocation from passing tourists. Indeed, it has become quite a sport to make the guard lose concentration and crack a smile. There is always only one winner.

Except for one guard who was caught making "rude gestures" by an American holiday maker who happened to have her video camera at the ready. She has since posted the clip on YouTube under the heading "Buckingham Palace Plonker", and proceeded to describe the actions as "shocking".

What I find shocking is there will now be a witch hunt for the guy in question and who knows what kind of disciplinary action, all because he probably had a bad day in the office and got fed up of being taunted by streams of "witty and original" tourists.

As to the person who provoked him into making the gesture, the guard was quite correct in his description- she was indeed a wanker.

For the Good of the People

I recently mentioned that the Di & Dodi Show is hitting town and it has been suggested that in total, costs could exceed over £10 million- most of which will be paid for by the tax payer.

Princess of the People is most certainly quite apt after all...

I can't wait to hear what the verdict will be and how it's going to change the entire universe and how we get on with our lives.

*yawn*

Joined Up Writing

It takes the average Rozzer 25 minutes to fill in a stop-and-search form.

That'll be five minutes to complete the form and twenty minutes to find the box of crayons.

Standing Room Only

On average, a UK commuter will travel the equivalent of two and a half times around the globe over a full working career.

I wonder how long the same commuter wastes waiting for trains?

What's in a Name?

In 1989, nearly 20 years ago, Burma officially changed its name to Myanmar.

The name change was recognised by the UN and many other countries, such as France, Germany and Japan have since referred to the country by its "new" name- except the UK and America.

A statement by the Foreign Office says: "Burma's democracy movement prefers the form 'Burma' because they do not accept the legitimacy of the unelected military regime to change the official name of the country."

Perhaps, but if the UN are happy to accept it, I find it rather strange that both the UK and USA decide to ignore them. Again...

And whilst we're at it, Rangoon is now called Yangon.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

The Children Are Our Future

Bush, who famously promised to be the "education president" once asked the delightful question: "Is our children learning?".

During the week he was at it again with another grammatical error: "As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured."

I wonder where the rest of his brain goes when he gets the opportunity to speak in public?

Leave it to Santa

The infamous Oktoberfest has already claimed one hapless victim in Munich this week.

A German man who had been drinking heavily got stuck in a chimney for 12 hours whilst trying to climb into a friend's apartment. After finding his mate wasn't in, the guy climbed on to the roof of a neighbouring building at about 2.00 in the morning and headed to what he thought was a gap in the wall between the two houses.

Instead he found himself sliding almost 30 metres head first into a chimney.

Amazingly he was not badly injured, sustaining just grazes and bruising after the local fire brigade knocked a hole into the chimney and got him out later in the afternoon.

Wedge in Serbia


Just a selection of notes on offer here. The bottom note is approximately worth 8 pence...

Football? Massacre...

Werder Bremen beat Arminia Bielefeld 8-1 a short while ago.

Oh happy days...

Plodding Along

A copper who made a genuine mistake on his expense sheet and incorrectly claimed an additional £90 was cleared of 12 counts of false accounting and one of attempting to pervert the course of justice when the prosecution offered no evidence back in 2005.

Since then he sued Lancashire Police for racial discrimination and following a three year investigation, Plod have settled out of court, just two days before going to trial. To date the inquiry has cost Lancashire taxpayers an estimated £500 000.


Isn't it a pity that Plod don't show such dedication to all the cases it has to investigate?

Britain's Citizenship Exam

Introduced in 2005, it is the test that every immigrant must pass to gain British citizenship.

Of the 100 British born and bred people tested recently, not one passed.

How would you get on?

1. Why were recruitment centres set up in the West Indies in the 1950s?
A To recruit workers for textile factories B To recruit workers to build canals C To recruit workers to build railways D To recruit workers to drive buses

2. What percentage of children live within a step-family?
A 10 per cent B 25 per cent C 40 per cent D 55 per cent

3. When will the British Government adopt the euro as the UK’s currency?
A 2010 B 2015 C Never D When the British people vote for it in a referendum

4. What are the roles of the whips in Parliament? Select two from below
A Responsible for discipline in their party B To ensure attendance of MPs at voting time in the House of Commons C To ensure the House of Commons is always safe and secure D To keep order in the House of Commons during political debates

5. What percentage of Christians in the UK are Roman Catholic?
A 10 per cent B 20 per cent C 30 per cent D 40 per cent

6 When is Mother’s Day?
A The Saturday four weeks before Easter B The Sunday four weeks before Easter C The Sunday one week before Easter D The Sunday three weeks before Easter

7 How often does the Cabinet normally meet?
A Bi-weekly B Daily C Monthly D Weekly
8. When was the first census carried out in the United Kingdom? A 1785 B 1801 C 1851 D 1912

9. What type of constitution does the UK have?
A A legal constitution B A written constitution C An amended D An unwritten constitution

10 What proportion of young people who became first-time voters in the 2001 general election actually used their vote?
A One in two B One in three C One in five D One in six

11. During the 1980s, the largest immigrant groups to the UK came from which countries?
A China, Japan and South Korea B India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh C Russia, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine D United States, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand

12. What is the difference in the average hourly pay rate for men and women?
A 5 per cent lower for women B 10 per cent lower for women C 20 per cent lower for women D. No difference

13 How many members are there in the Northern Ireland Assembly?
A 108 members B 125 members C 64 members D 82 members

14. How might you stop young people playing tricks on you at Hallowe’en?
A Call the police B Give them some money CGive them sweets or chocolate D Hide from them

15. What proportion of the UK population have used illegal drugs at one time or another?
A One quarter B One third C One half D Two thirds

16. Who is the monarch not allowed to marry?
A Anyone who is not of royal blood B Anyone who is not a Protestant C Anyone who is under the age of 25 D Anyone who was born outside the UK

17 Why was there a fall in the number of people migrating to the UK from the West Indies, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the late 1960s?
A A weak British currency made immigration less appealing B It was becoming more difficult for immigrants to find employment in the UK C New laws were introduced restricting immigration to Britain D These countries were experiencing labour shortages

18 What is the purpose of the Council of Europe?
A To create a single market for members of the council B To create new European regulations and directives C To debate proposals, decisions and expenditure of the European Commission D To develop conventions that focus on human rights, democracy, education, the environment, health and culture

19 How many young people (up to the age of 19) are there in the UK?
A 10 million B 15 million C 20 million D 5 million

20 How many independent schools are there in the UK?
A 100 B 1,000 C 2,500 D 15,000

21 What year did women in the UK gain the right to divorce their husband?
A 1810 B 1857 C 1901 D 1945

22 All dogs in public places must wear a collar showing the name and address of the owner. Is this statement true or false?
A True B False

23 What is the minimum wage for workers aged 18-21?
A £3.30 an hour B £4.45 an hour C £5.35 an hour D £6.16 an hour

24 What is the population of Wales?
A 1.2 million B 2.9 million C 3.4 million D 5.3 million













Answers: 1 D, 2 A, 3 D, 4 A and B, 5 A, 6 D, 7 D, 8 B, 9 D, 10 C, 11 D, 12 C, 13 A, 14 C, 15 B, 16 B, 17 C, 18 D, 19 B, 20 C, 21 B, 22 A (true), 23 B, 24 B

When 10 Years Means 5, no, 4

Ministers are considering reducing the length of time that prisoners spend in gaol by 20% as an emergency measure to cut the total number of inmates and ease over crowding.

Thousands of prisoners would be released early after serving only 40% of their sentence instead of the present 50%.

Yes, an entirely reasonable solution. Never mind building more gaols, just let them out quicker- I'm sure the victims of the crimes will approve...





Latest figures show a new record number of prisoners now totalling 81 135.

And the Madness Continues

A 12 year old boy, who flicked a piece of cardboard with a elastic band at another pupil was charged with GBH (grievous bodily harm), in a process estimated to have cost taxpayers at least £10 000. After being arrested and bailed, the boy had to appear in court twice.

OK, it could have been nasty as the paper projectile caught the kid in the eye (although no lasting damage ensued) but GBH and a court case for a silly school boy prank?

The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) have since dropped the charges issuing the following statement:

“An alleged attempt to cause an eye injury has to be taken very seriously. When the medical evidence confirmed that there was no permanent damage to the eye, the charge was downgraded to assault. After further review a decision was taken to discontinue the case as not in the public interest.”

Ab-so-bleedin'-lutely it's not in the public's interest, nor was it initially.

Why is this type of incompetence still being tolerated?

The Water's Off

Thames Water was fined £12.5 million for failing to compensate customers for poor service and loss of water supplies between July 2005 and 2006.

It is to appeal against the penalty handed out by Ofwat, the regulator, and said that "paying the fine will divert cash from essential repairs".

Nice little cop out for continuing an already poor service and no doubt the customer will end up paying with increased bills to look forward to.




Under the Guaranteed Standards of Service, water companies must pay compensation to customers who have been let down. These guarantees are:

- £20 for a missed appointment or failing to reply to correspondence
- £20 for disrupted supply
- an extra £10 for every 24 hours without running water.

You're Screwed

German Rozzers have arrested a man who had been stealing screws form his job on an assembly line.

He had been stealing up to 7 000 a day for the last two years and selling his haul on the internet.

In total he got away with over a million screws, worth £76 000!

Retard

A guy who worked as an on-board trolley steward and who wanted time off work, decided the best way to achieve it was by making hoax calls about bombs being left in main railway stations.

Of the eleven false calls he made, nine were from his own mobile phone.

He was gaoled for two and a half years which means he will get quite a bit of time off work after all.

It'll be Ready in an Hour

You think you have problems with slow solicitors? Spare a thought for the person who used one for a job that should have taken around an hour to complete and yet he dragged it out for over ten years.

The solicitor was fined £4 000 and ordered to pay £3 000 in costs at a disciplinary hearing, after which he lamely said "it was something I was going to sort out tomorrow and tomorrow never came."

Well that's all right then.

New Rules for the Road

The new version of the Highway Code is now out. It's the first revision for eight years and the book has doubled in size with 29 more rules which raises 307 points.

A couple of the new rules include that on should not "show off" at the wheel and that smoking whilst driving is a big risk.

If you want to have a free look, click here.

Flash, Bang Whallop

The vast majority of deaths on British roads in 2006 were down to basic driver errors, a DoT ( Department for Transport) report has concluded. Simple mistakes were responsible for far more fatal crashes than deliberate breaches of traffic laws, such as breaking the speed limit or ignoring red traffic lights.

So why do we persist with these GATSO scameras which we are continually told are for our "safety"?

It's Official

Boris Johnson will take on Ken Livingstone in 2008 for the London mayoral contest after winning the primary election.

He polled 15 661 votes whilst his nearest rival managed just 1 869.

He said afterwards:

"The job of the mayor is simple — to get people to work on time, to ensure that people feel safe on the streets, to help people find a place to call home, to celebrate our diversity and to champion our success."


He could do well in the real thing next year.

Friday, 28 September 2007

X Marks the Spot

Bulgarian local elections are causing people big problems in Sofia next month.

There are over 70 candidates standing and the ballot paper is over 2 metres (more than 6 foot) in length. Officials haven't got big enough envelopes and as a result, they are going to have to import 11 million larger sized envelopes to "fit the bill"...

That Was a Mistake

I watched the Brazil v USA game yesterday and saw the amazing Brazilians absolutely annihilate the Americans.

Prior to the tournament, the Americans had been favourites to win; they are ranked number one in the world (how, I have no idea as the Germans are current World and European champions, but that's FIFA's rankings for you) and had not been beaten in 51 games, the reason for being ranked #1?

The Brazilians came to Shanghai on the back of losing to Argentina and most people didn't rate them. How wrong they have all been.

OK, the USA were reduced to ten "men" in the first half and for some reason they had decided to drop their number one goal keeper (rest her? Save her for the Final?) but the magnificent Brazilians played the Yank Burds completely off the park and at times it almost felt like it was the men's team playing.

Final score, 4-0 and I now really fear for the Germans who don't seem to have really started. Perhaps Sunday they may ramp up their game?

Watch the game for yourself when BBC 2 show it live at 12:45, Sunday 30th September; it promises to be a treat.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

WWC 2007- Germany Through to Finals

Germany beat Norway 3-0 in the semis yesterday and now wait to see whom they will play against in the final; USA or Brazil. Currently it's not looking good for America as they are losing 0-2 as we speak.

Despite Germany having scored 19 and conceded none in the tournament so far, they will still need to raise their game if they are to retain their world crown.

Remarkably they have now gone 529 minutes without conceding a World Cup goal, dating back to the 2003 tournament. The previous record was held by China at 442 minutes.

Either way, bring on "The Shanghai Showdown" and fingers crossed the Germans have one last game left in them to win- I'd be dead happy. :oD

Contra-band

Confiscated goods at airport security gates are claimed to be handed out and shared between Heathrow staff. A watchdog group has said valuable items such as expensive pens and perfumes have "disappeared".

The problem is due to transfer passengers arriving with two pieces of hand luggage at Heathrow having been allowed to take two bags on their initial flight. At UK airports they are restricted to just one when changing planes, leaving them having to hand over items they cannot fit into their one allotted bag.

They are given the choice of surrendering the item or, if they want to keep it, going back into the main body of the airport, checking the offending item into the hold and then re-checking back in. Due to tight connection times, few passengers understandibly take this option.

In response to the claim, a spokesperson said:

"Passengers are advised by staff to either check in items, proceed to the Excess Baggage Company (for a fee no doubt) where items can be stored for up to 30 days or voluntarily abandon them into secure bins, which are then destroyed off site*."

Now I wonder why I cannot entirely believe that? *Any proof they do?

Anyway, the whole problem would disappear if the UK simply fell in line with the rest of the world's policy of allowing the same amount of bags on board. Why does the UK always have to drag its feet?

Softly, Softly, Catchee Monkey

A minority of 40% of big companies still insist on formal dress in the office showing that age of wearing a tie to work is on its way out.

Smart casual dress, which includes a shirt but no tie, trousers (no jeans) and loafers (but not trainers), is also acceptable in more than half of the firms surveyed.

Good.

Now if only we could start to see a similar trend in schools we may be able to see the back of one of the most useless and restricting items of wardrobe to be invented.

Drinking to Forget

Is entirely inaccurate as drinking alcohol helps retain memories.

Scientists have found that moderate amounts of alcohol challenge the brain and it responds by improving the memory, whilst excessive levels of alcohol enhanced memories of highly emotional stimuli.

Further conclusions drawn from the study suggests that heavy drinking actually reinforces negative memories.

Now if I can only remember where I put the bottle opener...

Up, Up & Away

A helium filled balloon, which was released at a school fĂȘte as part of a competition to see which could travel the furthest from Manchester, England has been found- in southern China.

It ended up in Guangzhou, 75 miles north of Hong Kong, some 6 000 miles away.

The winner, who posted the balloon back is entitled to a free visit to Chester Zoo, but it seems he is quite happy to waive his prize.

:-)

RIP Bip*

Marcel Marceau has died aged 84.

The world-famous mime artist was buried in a simple ceremony with his trade-mark top hat and red flower placed next to his grave in Paris.

I hope it was a silent memorial.





*"Bip" was the name of his alter ego.

All Aboard

Asylum-seekers attempting to enter Britain is hardly news. But if you happen to stowaway on a lorry that was carrying my old mate BLiar's new official car into the country, that would be kinda funny, right?

Unfortunately for the four men who'd sneaked aboard, the modified car was delivered directly to a Plod garage in South London where they were discovered.

*titter*

Not Working on the Chain Gang

Having recently commented on the ridiculous state of the prosecution rates of criminals, it seems that even if a successful conviction is obtained, the sentence is far from adequate.

Particularly if the "punishment" is community service.

It seems that people are being let off their sentence as there are just not enough staff to supervise them paying off their debt to society.

Come to Britain, the place to be if you want to make a career out of crime.

Princess Di

Nearly 200 potential jurors are to be scrutinised to assess their suitability to sit on the inquest of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed. Once selected, the inquest could last up to six months.

The car accident in which both died happened ten years ago.

Not only do I question what good may come out of yet another investigation, but how on earth can it be accurate after 10 years? And what a huge waste of resources and money.

Let it go and get over it, for God's sake.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Memory Card

For our new camera is a 2.0 Gb jobbie and is capable of storing nearly 9 000 pictures!

And the price for the card? A more than reasonable £15, although we have paid slightly over the odds for the camera itself, compared to on-line prices. Swings and roundabouts, innit?

Shiny, Shiny



Cor!

After the turd of an Olympus camera gave up the ghost a couple of week's ago, look at what we've just bought. Our new, Panasonic "Lumix" FX-12. Flashy it sure is and it's tiny to boot. Good battery life, 7.2 megapixels, x 3 zoom (4.5 in optical mode) blah, etc blah.

Don't you just love new technology?

Hopefully we'll be able to suss out how to use the thing before we leave here; we've only got 5-6 weeks left...

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Road Up

A street in Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, collapsed into an underground building site and several houses fell into the ensuing crater whilst others were left tottering on the brink. Residents were forced to evacuate the nearby area but fortunately no one was injured.

The accident occurred on the weekend when construction work on a 27 m deep hole to help lay foundations for an office block disturbed an underground stream.

No other reason to mention this other than I've been to Zagreb and I hope everything can be sorted out without problem.

Personal Protection Insurance

PPI is sold with credit cards, loans and mortgages on the basis it will come to the rescue in times of crisis, such as illness or unemployment and it is supposed to offer peace of mind as it will cover repayments for a fixed period.

However, the vast majority of these policies are very expensive which merely generate a profit surplus for the finance companies, whilst the customers are being seriously misled about the cover. The companies pay out only 20% of the billions of pounds they collect each year in premiums.

The Financial Services Authority is due to publish its report following an undercover investigation that has found evidence that PPIs are being mis-sold.

What? An insurance con? Run by the banks? In Britain? I don't believe it...

Time For a Break

Think TV ads are already on for long enough? It's a pity the regulators don't agree with you then as they are considering extending the limit by a further five minutes.

Currently the permitted, average advert breaks are restricted to 7 minutes in an hour but this could rise to 12 minutes if Ofcom act in the latest EU directive.

Am I the only one who views these "figures" with scepticism? It certainly feels like it's about four minutes every quarter of an hour at the moment!



TV advertising in the UK is worth £3.47 billion and a 30-second spot in a popular programme such as Coronation Street or during a big sports tournament can cost about £50 000!

Burd Power



This is the poster campaign that is upsetting political parties in Poland. It depicts the newly formed Women’s Party showing off their better sides and it is intended to help drive out male chauvinism, which is rife in the country.

Amongst its manifesto, it wants free contraception, an increase in the number of gynaecologists, a right to pain-free birth, expanded child care, equal pay and pension rights.

Clearly this doesn't sit too well with some of their opponents, including the League of Polish Families, the Law and Justice party (the main group in the outgoing Government coalition and who have described the poster as an insult to voters) and off course, the Church.

Polish politics, says the party’s founder, the novelist Manuela Gretkowska, is run by men in suits on behalf of other men in suits. She added that they are "beautiful, nude and proud" and that the poster campaign is not in anyway pornographic as has been suggested by some.

Currently, the party has 3% of the vote, below the 5% needed for parliamentary seats but it is believed that as many as 60% of Polish women might be ready to vote for the party on October 21, in the privacy of the polling booth.

Let's hope so, it's about time the world realises that equality is not just a desire but a necessity and it needs to happen NOW.

Other interesting stats robbed from The Times:

— Polish women won the vote in 1918

— The number of women in the higher chamber of parliament shrank after 1989, when Poland rejected Communism. In 1985 it was 20%; in 1997 12%

— After the 2005 election 20.4% of MPs were women. In the UK, the figure is 19.6%

— In a 2005 poll, 23% of respondents said “gender discrimination” was the principal reason for the low proportion of women in Polish public life

No F**king Way

We are once again in a position to view BBC Prime here in Serbia and jolly good it is too. Most of it. How "Dad's Army" and "Last of the Summer Wine" can ever have got away with being classified as "comedies" is beyond me, but that is another subject entirely.

What I find puzzling is the censorship that is used in its programmes and not just before the watershed hours, either.

Every mild swear word is dubbed out including such minor words as "bollocks" and "arse"; great body parts that they are.

Contrast that to daytime TV on the other channels we receive that show all out action films mid-morning or early afternoon, which contain scenes of violence, sex and awesome adult language and it really makes you wonder.

Does television censorship really work? It's not as if the UK is such a model of perfect citizenship, is it now?

In, Out, Shake It All About

Britain has been confirmed as the second-largest net contributor to the EU budget behind Germany.

Without the rebate (won by Mrs Thatcher in 1984), worth €5.22 billion last year, Britain would be the biggest net contributor of all 27 member states.

Britain handed Brussels €12.38 billion after the rebate and received back €8.29 billion last year, a net contribution of about €4 billion.

Why can't this payment system be made simpler? Why pay in, then receive back a refund when it makes more sense to just pay in what the net figure for the year should be? Don't you just love red tape?

The Future is Bleak

I've never been a fan of the student loan.

I think it is awful to force students into debt, simply because they have a wish to learn and better themselves.

I also feel that some of the courses on offer are quite frankly, ludicrous and encourage mediocre people to obtain sub-standard degrees thereby diluting the whole achievement of passing your BSc or BA.

Therefore the latest proposal from the Conservatives, should they come to power (as likely as me being the next motorbike world champion) is of interest.

They have pledged they will "wipe out the student fee debt of every science graduate entering teaching" in an attempt to raise schools’ science performance.

With such blatant bribery and discrimination is it small wonder they will never win an election?


And I was so looking forward to my lap of honour at Brands Hatch...

Come Again?

Up until 2003 there was a set number of times an "A" (& "AS") level pupil could re-sit their examination.

This limit was subsequently lifted and remains in force today, despite the criticism levelled at The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's ruling. It is claimed that it makes passing the tests easier, the reasoning being that better grades can be achieved by sitting and re-sitting modules in "bite sized" chunks.

With some pupils now obtaining ten A grades at advanced level, they may have a point.

Still on the subject of exams then, another report has determined that whilst students work fewer hours at universities in England than elsewhere in Europe, they often pay higher fees. How does that work then? Paying more for less? Must be Rip Off England at its finest...



The report was by the Higher Education Policy Institute and they also found that some subjects demanded a weekly workload of only 14 hours whilst other courses required 46 hours.

The Cheque's in the Post

Remember the recent summer postal strikes?

The Department for Work and Pensions does as it spent £2.6 million on delivering benefit cheques by private courier.

Hang on. These is dole money for people who are unable (or unwilling?) to find paid employment and thus will have time on their hands. Why can't they be asked to collect the cheques in person from their local offices?

They must know the way as they sign on there every fortnight...




The Communication Workers’ Union, responsible for the PO workers, has called two more 48-hour strikes on 5th October and 8th October.

Going Up in Smoke

On 1st October, 2007 (next week) the minimum legal age for buying tobacco products is to rise from 16 to 18 years in the UK.

Anyone found selling to under age people risk prosecution and a fine of up to £2 500.

I wonder when the minimum age for purchasing alcohol will go up to 21? And exactly who is going to be checking up on kids buying fags? Our over worked Dibble crew? That'll help reach their targets...

Slap on the Wrist

Finally people are beginning to realise that the UK has a problem in that sentences being meted out by the courts are inadequate and that criminals are not being punished appropriately.

The Magistrates’ Association and The Criminal Bar Association are alarmed at the increase in the use of out-of-court punishments such as cautions and on-the-spot fines and are now pressurising the Justice Secretary to come with answers and act over the “disquieting” number of criminals not being punished in the courts.

Currently only one in eight crimes recorded by Plod in England (and Wales) results in a suspect being charged or appearing in court. Of the offenders who are brought to justice, fewer than half are dealt with by the courts and the magistrates’ group is highly concerned.

Too little too late?

Monday, 24 September 2007

Novak Djokovic

As just mentioned, we watched the Davis Cup match where Djokovic beat Guccione quite convincingly in Serbia yesterday to a packed crowd.

It was quite a sight to see the fans packed into the arena, all decked out in the Serbian colours bar a small handful, resplendent in bright yellow of Australia.

Following the match, Novak gave an interview to his fans and then, live on television switched from Serbian to quite excellent (as usual) English to address the Aussie fans.

He thanked them for turning up to see their man play and quite deliberately said that he understood it was their job to piss him off with their "support" and that he hoped that they would also understand it was his job to piss them off by beating their guy. All in fluent English and said with a wonderful smile on his face.

And he got the desired result too- for the first time they were speechless!

Imagine that going out live on the BBC? :oD


Result of Round 4 - N.DJOKOVIC (SRB) defeated C.GUCCIONE (AUS): 6-3 7-6(3) 7-6(5)

Our New Local

Is the Caffe Club and the owner is such a top geezer.

He had the tennis match on as Serbia were playing Australia in the Davis Cup and we got to chatting- badly; in a mixture of Serbian, English and German.

Next minute he sends over a round of drinks and just before he left, another round on the house arrived at our table. That's more free beer than we got in years, back at our local in Leigh and demonstrates just how generous people are here in Serbia.

We'll be back.

Tottenham Hotspur

Just to up date you on the latest fiasco at Spurs, we drew 1-1 with Bolton who were bottom and we now are third from last place. Not the best of starts for my team...

Southend climb into 5th place after beating Doncaster 3-2 and Bielefeld drop to 7th after their defeat to Schalke.

Let's hope the German Burds' Team can win and salvage something to smile about in the footie after a pretty poor weekend.

Mind you, it's sooo good to have the internet back, despite the results...

Yes, We're Back

Nearly a week off line and we're now good to go. Many thanks to all our friends who wasted time and effort in sorting this out (mistake at the ISP's end) but all is well again and after sorting out our back log, we should be back to normal tomorrow or so.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

New Moto GP Champion

And it's Casey Stoner, the young Aussie on his Ducati.

Despite only rolling in 5th in this morning's Japanese race (Capirossi won) Stoner is crowned the world champion as Rossi limped in at 15th spot.

Full story pop over to Mad TV (link on our home, front page) to get a proper report. I saw the race but the commentary was in Serbian and so I missed a lot of what was perhaps one of the most exciting races of the year.

Congrats to Casey Stoner and the Ducati Team- roll on 2008 for the next challenge.

Footie Round Up

Only brief details as we have no access to the internet- and how naked does that feel?

Bielefeld got thumped 3-0 away to Schalke and that ain't going to help their league position. No idea about Southend, but fingers crossed and Spurs play today against Bolton so expect another defeat.

England got dumped out of the Women's World Cup, losing to America 3-0 (mainly due to some really bad goal keeping errors) whilst Germany also won 3-0 against Korea. Next quarter finals get played today seeing Brazil take on Australia and Sweden versus China (I think).

Thereafter we'll see who lines up against whom in the semis and hopefully we'll see the Germans make it through.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Scores on the Doors

Donald Rumsfeld goes into brief President Bush and sadly reports that three Brazilian soldiers had been killed in the latest Iraqi hostilities.

Bush is speechless and nearly loses his composure as the colour drains from his face and he shakily stumbles to a nearby chair to gather himself.

After a few moments he whispers to Rumsfeld "just exactly how many is a brazilian?"


:oD

Taking Forever

Still off line and no closer to getting it sorted. One minute all was well (last Tuesday) and then it just disconnected without reason.

All the connections are good, there is power to the modem, the computer recognises it and there are plenty of flashing lights showing it is live and yet we just cannot use Internet Explorer or anything else. VERY FRUSTRATING!

We suspect that as the original contract is for 2 months (our length of stay here) they may have cut us off after only two weeks in error and so it shouldn't be too much of a problem to sort it out. However, when you are rely on others people to help, it just takes time. It's no one's fault, just one of those things.

Anyway, enough whinging on, hopefully it won't be too much longer and as soon as we get back in touch with the big world you'll be the first to know.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

All Change

Not sure if we have commented on this previously, but all the shops tend to be so relaxed about change.

If you're a few pennies short, they just wave you good bye and let you off. Ditto when paying back your change if you're slightly over the nearest whole figure.

Absolutely great as you don't end up with a pocketful of useless coins but it must be a nightmare cashing the tills up...

Cable TV

Not only has our internet connection simply vanished, so too do some of our channels on the television from time to time.

This is not something particularly unique to Serbian broadcasting but in general for Eastern European transmission, whether cable or terrestrial.

One minute you’re watching a programme and the next it is gone, to be replaced with a blank, black screen and the odd static lines, without forewarning or notice. Similarly, if you switch to a channel that was fine earlier, you may be greeted with the familiar image of nothing.

Nor does it matter what the intended programme is or was due to be; European football match, local television or imported programme- they all suffer the same, intermittent fault.

What’s even more noteworthy though is that no one seems to mind or worry about it. It’s just the way it is and people simply get on with it.

Life, it’s far too stressful to worry about minor irritations like that and it’s a grand old way to live it too.

Leader of the Pack

One unusual sight around town is the number of what appears to be stray dogs. I use the word “appears” because we’re not quite sure if they are all strays/wild as some wear a collar but they all are well groomed and look healthy and happy.

None are mangy, dog-eared (sic) or look worse for wear living out on the streets and they are extremely good natured, docile and friendly.

It’s quite common to see packs of around 7 or 8 all trotting through the town in the earlier hours of the morning and as soon as it gets busy, they just find their usual sleeping patch and curl up in the sun or anywhere warm, minding their own business.

Stamping Around at the PO

Having finally tracked a shop that sold postcards (and jolly good ones at that) and then getting arse in gear to write them, came the final hurdle- purchasing stamps.

In my fluent Serbian which has now reached stunning levels (trust me; people are totally stunned when I parlais local) I queued up and rehearsed my vital line(s).

“Osam marke da Engleske.”

“Erm, molim”

I finally get to the head of the queue after nearly 10 minutes (it is just s well they are open 12 hours a day, it is always swamped) and deliver my speech, faultlessly.

Big cheesy grin from the other counter and the guy asks if I am English. Affirmative, I reply wondering how I got rumbled- we’ll assume the accent may have been a bit dodgy, and he then rattles something off and all I can catch is the word “devet”.

Bugger- counter 10, the other side of the room. I queue again and eventually repeat the above steps to be told it’s counter 12. Maybe- I can only count to ten; badly.

She takes pity on me and wanders around the back to serve me and lobs over the required stamps. Taking the correct money out of the wedge of bank notes I grasp in my hand (the even have a 5p note here so big wads do not imply big wealth alas) she then asks me something again.

I suspect it’s not a date and guff on about being “Engleske” and she reclaims the stamps and calls over to her colleague. I guess I was given local stamps because following an involved debate they finally deduce that I need stamps to England and send out an exploration party to locate them.

It seems the need for English stamps is not great. This is confirmed by the Christmas theme wishing everyone a Happy Noel…

Anyhoo, I am once again traumatised by yet another PO encounter but at least these guys did it with a smile on their faces and we have now sent off our bloody postcards. Bliss, next time Macedonia and wifey is going in…

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Off Line

Having had fabulous broadband internet connection pretty much as soon as we landed in Kraljevo (in conjunction with our cable TV company) it has just given up the ghost and left us in the lurch.

Whilst we try and get to the bottom of this via our wonderful friends here, we shall sadly be forced off air for the foreseeable future but hope to be back ASAP.

Until later, folks.

Women Drivers

As you may well be aware, some parts of the world just aren't as open to sexual equality as others. Saudi Arabia is particularly one sided and even prevents women from driving; the only country in the world to do so.

It seems that enough is enough now and a group of women in Jeddah have formed a committee to lobby for the right to drive.

Unfortunately their marketing department (undoubtedly run by a man?) hasn't really come up with the snappiest of names for the organisation:

The Committee of Demanders of Women’s Right to Drive Cars.

They are due to deliver their petition to the Saudi King on the weekend and I hope they the get all the success they deserve.

However, I don't think they'll be selling their push bikes on eBay anytime soon...

An Apple a Day

Due to global warming, the green house effect, CO2 emissions, carbon foot prints or some other trendy excuse for man fucking up this glorious planet, apple growers are currently like pig in shit and very happy.

Because of the hot, early spring and subsequent rain throughout the British summer, they are expecting a bumper crop of apples (and pears for that matter) this autumn.

Expect prices to rocket then, to cover the additional cost of labour to harvest the extra stock, for the increased storage space needed and repeated runs to transport the fruit to storage and delivery...

On the downside the green vegetable crop is down due to flooding, which has denuded the pea crop by at least 40%. There are similar losses for broccoli, cauliflower, French beans and broad beans.

You can almost hear the kids groaning with disappointment...

Was That Too Cold?

The stethoscope, an instrument synonymous with medicine, doctors and nurses for nearly 200 years may now soon be a thing of the past.

Even the newest and most modern versions of the famous listening device just cannot compete with...

...the humble MP3 player.

Seriously, a bog standard, off-the-shelf music player is able to record a variety of respiratory noises simply by pressing the machine’s in-built microphone directly to a patient’s chest, resulting in a higher quality, clearer and purer level of sound previously unattainable.

It also has the advantage that the recordings can then be stored, sent to a specialist, further analysed using more sophisticated software, or added to a patient’s files for future reference.

What a great discovery. Top marks on this simple yet effective breakthrough.

Pigeon Poo in Venice

Having already cracked down on the tourists to Venice by banning take away food, picnicking, walking around "indecently" and even charging people a "view tax" (see previous posts in Archives), the next targets are the pigeons and their toiletry habits.

The mayor is fed up of the hordes of pigeons that are soiling its piazzas and damaging monuments and now wants to ban the throwing of rice. In addition, he also wants to prohibit street sellers from supplying the tourist with the pigeon feed, a tradition that goes back decades.

There may be a problem though. To sell the bird food, one needs a licence and that is only issued by...the city council.

I'm surprised the money grabbing mayor is not charging the birds a tax to fly around St Mark's Square...

Further in the Series of "You Have Got to be Kidding"

"Experts" warned that children could be left with scars from wearing socks that are too tight.

The so called "sock-line bands" are reddish, raised marks around the ankle or leg which can develop after wearing a tight pair of socks just once. It can also be caused by tight bands on the end of your strides although as to how I am unsure; how do you get your foot through?

Still, who am I to questions a learned expert?

At least ten (10!) such cases have been reported by dermatologists from France, the US and Britain and I can already sense the panic rising.

However, here at ktelontour we take such devastating news most seriously and so for those parents with kids who are dangerously close to sock-line bands, we have compiled a Get Well Plan, as follows:

(a) Try not to hyperventilate, keep calm and maintain your dignity.
(b) Do not allow your off spring to sense your distress; they may conclude they have been sired by mental retards and could disown you.
(c) Try to distract the attentions of your children with the offer of sweet treats, cash, a toy or even a trip to the pictures as a bribe to get them to remove the offending articles. Alternatively wait until they go to bed and then steal the killer socks from the laundry basket.
(d) Re-affirm your faith in God and pray. Pray like never before that it is not too late to prevent your child from acquiring life-long scarring and hideous disfiguring.
(e) Get to your local Primark and buy another pair of socks in the same colour but a size bigger.

Should you find that these guidelines have not helped, contact your local branch of the British Journal of Dermatology (the fucktards responsible for this investigation) to become the 11th reported case and bask in all the ensuing glory of getting mentioned in yet another high brow, top medical journal. You'll find the latest copy under the comics section at all non-reputable newsagents.

Opening Times

As commented on previously, the opening hours throughout Eastern Europe tend to be far, far longer and aimed to coincide with the public's working life.

Again here, we noticed the Post Office is ready for business from 07.00 am to 07.00 pm during the week.

Really first class service.

Monday, 17 September 2007

WWC 2007 On-Going

Both Germany and England played their last games of the group with both teams hoping to make progress to the next round; the quarter finals.

Happily the Krauts beat the host nation Japan 2-0 in what was a poor game, to win the group. However, if the Germans intend to retain their title (and one would assume that is the reason for turning up in China) they are going to have to start playing a far more accurate game and retain possession.

The amount of balls played directly to the opposition was criminal and against top notch opponents (such as the Americans and the Brazilians) they will get punished severely. They will also have to be more imaginative in their approach as pretty much everything seems to be played through the captain, Prinz.

She once again found the net and is now the top scorer in Women's World Cup history with a current tally of 13 and a personal haul of 4 in this tournament so far. Hopefully she and Germany will continue onto bigger and better things.

England on the other hand found their goal scoring touch and piled in six against the whipping boys (girls?) of the group. Despite being the current South American champions and having beaten pedigree sides such as the Brazilians en route, they have since discovered that European football is perhaps a tad stronger than expected and will now return with some painful memories. I'm sure they wil be back back though.

They did score a consolation goal, a corker of a free kick and this is cause for concern for the Brits. All three goals scored against them have been from dead balls outside the penalty area and questions have to be asked.

On the plus side and in contrast to their counterparts the blurks, the burds can score penalties which is a turn up for the books. They scored two from the spot with apparent ease in this game and maybe it's time to give the guys some lessons?

Onto the quarter finals next and we await to see who gets drawn against whom from Group B. The Americans and the Koreans seem favourite but the form book goes out the window when it comes to predictions in this tournament.

Who?

It seems that British performers are being forced to cancel American tours after they are being denied visas, often because American officials do not consider them famous enough.

Recent artistes denied visas are the singer Lily Allen, the bands the Klaxons and the Mystery Jets.

The Yanks may have a point.

Now if the Brits could reciprocate perhaps we can send back Lloyd Grossman and Ruby Wax and we can call it quits. :oD

Nosey Wine

Ever heard wine buffs prattle on about how their glass of vino smells of grass, hay, blackberries, leather, apple and other some such shite? And then they peer at you in a condescending manner when you mutter that it just smells like grapes or vinegar?

Finally we have conclusive scientific evidence that it is all bollocks and that people smell the world differently because of their genes. So it's got nothing to do with great expertise more so genetics, and the gene responsible has been identified as OR7D4.

So the only thing one can really smell when listening to a wine expert's opinion on the aromas of the wine is horse shit.

Scameras

Some snippets of info for you:

Amount raised in fines by cameras in 2005-2006: £115 million (£114.6)

Cost of running scheme: £100 million (£99.5)

Surplus from cameras: £15 million (£15.1)

Estimated number of cameras in the UK: Six thousand (6 000)

So, we have an annual profit of over £15 000 000 all in the name of "safety". Just exactly how is this money spent on enhancing the safety of motorists on the public roads?

Oh yes, on more cameras...

We're Not All Wombles

A growing trend I am more than pleased to see is that the war on littering is starting to gather momentum in the UK.

In the last four years, on the spot fines have risen by more than 300% going from ~7 500 incidents to over 33 000 and thus far, councils have collected in nearly £1 million in fines.

Outstanding and long may it continue. There is no excuse for littering whatsoever.

Finally, a Break Through

At last we begin to see common sense prevail (as opposed to the previous post where it is clearly out to lunch {sic}) and learn that "top-class" restaurants are forgoing their policy of insisting that patrons dress for dinner by wearing a jacket & tie.

What has brought about this change in dress code is unclear, but personally I hope it is down to the good people voting with their feet and simply going elsewhere. It's bad enough to pay exorbitant amounts of money for a cooked meal but to be then be told what to wear? Stuff that for a game of soldiers.

The number of places demanding that patrons attire themselves to the specifications of the establishment has tailed off so much that the Good Food Guide will not even make reference to it in the next version for 2008.

A case of "no jacket required" then. Jolly good.

Testing Times? Hardly...

According to the Government’s exam advisers, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has suggested that secondary school children should mark their own work and decide what their tests should cover.

It further recommended that pupils should be trained to set homework, devise marking schemes, and give “feedback” to classmates.

Pardon?

These people get paid to suggest these ideas and we allow this to happen? It's one way to achieve a 100% pass rate, I suppose.

The Microdrone

And here we have the latest in covert surveillance, the Microdrone, a miniaturised, remote-controlled craft that can hover high in the heavens to film what’s going on beneath.

It is just 24" (60 cm) wide between the tips of its rotors the flying "drones" are small enough to be unnoticed by anyone on the ground when they are flying at 350ft. They contain high-resolution video surveillance equipment and an infrared night vision capability, so even in darkness they give their operators a bird’s-eye view of any locations while remaining virtually undetectable.

The drones cost about £30 000 or can be leased for £1 000 a month and already almost half the country's Rozzers are dribbling at the mouth at the prospect and have made their infamous "enquiries".

And here's an added bonus to the Drone's functions, it is able to disperse a “smart water” containing a unique DNA code identifier, that when sprayed on a suspect will cling to their clothes and skin and allow officers to identify them later...

Big Brother is most definitely watching and now it has an eye in the sky too.

Anyone else starting to feel this is getting out of hand? I'll wager hard cash that someone will soon decide it will be an effective method of policing the roads against speeders (in the name of "safety", of course). Any takers?

Sunday, 16 September 2007

You Vill SMILE At Vonce, Ja

Something that I have always noted and commented upon is how miserable, surly and at times, down right rude, passport officials (well, any airport staff as it goes) in England are.

I appreciate that no one wants to look at criminal mug shots at three o'clock in the morning (should have done better at school then, eh?) and with the increased speculation of a "T" strike perhaps around the corner there is not much to be cheerful about. However, these people are the first point of contact to the travel weary tourist and deserve some kind of warm welcome.

It seems that I am no longer alone in this observation and there are about to be sweeping changes brought in as officials at Britain’s borders have been told to cheer up, smarten up and take some lessons in charm - from the Germans. :oD

To coincide with the introduction of new uniforms nationwide, the government has decided it is a good time to give officials a full makeover.

Taking their cue from Germany, which was previously renowned as the home of stern-faced officialdom, it went through a big transition in the run up to the 2006 football World Cup. Now it is recognised as hospitable and at ease with itself and the Brits will attempt to do the same.

Immigration staff will now be expected to balance strict policing of illegal arrivals against the need to give tourists a pleasant start to their visit.

Sadly we will not be in a position to witness the miracle make over and personalty transplant as we have little wish to return to the UK for a while, but I'm sure we'll get some feed back on it somewhere along the line.

Faultless Logic



Can't say fairer than that...

Sports Desk

Tottenham versus Arsenal is one of the biggest derbies one can imagine and as usual, the down trodden Spurs fan is always full of hope and expectation that this time it will be different and this time we will beat our rivals for the first time in sixteen previous meetings. Yeah, right...

Despite going in front after 15 minutes, we lost 1-3 (at Whitehart Lane no less) and we drop to 17th place, a single spot above the relegation zone. 4 points (1 x win; 1 x draw) from six games (so a potential of 18 points) is simply not good enough and I fear fro our manager Jol's future. Shame, I like the guy and he is a top coach; hell, he took us to 5th place last season but nowadays it's all about cash and the money men aren't renowned for their patience.

And for any stray Gooners hoping to gloat, the Arse went top of the league. Oh the shame.

Southend on the other hand have finally started to pick things up and won their first game of the season away to Oldham, 0-1. This unexpected bonus of three points takes them to 7th place in Division One and who knows, with a sustained run, perhaps we may be in with a shout of promotion next year? Let's hope so.

And in true ktelontour style, I've saved the best bit to last with Bielefeld taking a thumping 4-2 home win against Hansa Rostock to take them to 2nd spot in the Bundesliga. I think I may have to lie down; we're so high in the league I may get a nose bleed.

And Now For The Traffic

No review of the country we happen to be staying in is complete without a look at the traffic situation and without doubt, you are most certainly aware that motorised vehicles take priority over the humble pedestrian here.

You can be half way over a zebra crossing and still the cars piss past- on both sides! No one stops to allow you to cross and they only reluctantly do so when there is absolutely no chance of squeezing by without winging the victim.

You'd expect a pelican crossing to be better. It's not. Just because the lanes are controlled by lights, do not assume it is reasonable to cross over, even if the little green man says so. Take yesterday for example.

A grandfather and his three, young grandchildren crossed to the centre island and it was quite sweet to see the guy barking out instructions to his three wards, who were all holding hands. The lights were still on green and we all gingerly stepped onto the road (I tend to use the locals as a human shield in such circumstances) as a clapped out old VW Golf swept past at quite a rate, coming extremely close to the little girl.

Her grandfather became a man possessed and swung a leg at the offending car, making contact with enough force to make an almighty racket and potentially taking the rear wing near clean off. All the while bellowing "choice" words at the hapless driver- my Serbian is rather poor (at best), but even I could deduce he wasn't inviting him round to dinner.

The driver wasn't quite sure what was occurring at the time and must have assumed he'd hit something and began to open the door to investigate the damage to his car. On seeing the rather irate senior citizen, he quickly changed his mind, slammed the door to, locked it and make good his escape. And believe me, the driver was not exactly small either.

So, the simple exercise of crossing the road can be fraught with dangers in Kraljevo unless you happen to have your grandad as a chaperone. You have been warned.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Red For Stop, Green For Go

Fancy coming across that on your test...

More Paddy Bear

Having just mentioned the Duffed Up Bear from Peru and his TV advertising debut, it seems Paddington is the new (Marmite?) flavour of the month.

He is also set to enter the bright lights, camera, action world of film as it was announced that Warner Brothers are going to bring him onto the big screen. In a combination of live action and computer-generated imagery it will be produced by the guy behind the Harry Potter flicks and the story will be penned by the blurk who is responsible for the work of art "Mr Bean's Holiday".

Hhhhmmm, let's hope it captures the innocent delights of Michael Bond's books' original stories and doesn't turn into some kind of gurning, slap-stick buffoonery.

We shall have to wait and see.

If It Ain't Gucci I Ain't Bovvered

A woman who had her handbag snatched by a thief gave chase and after a brave confrontation she managed to grapple it back.

However, when she went to report the incident at the nearest Plod Shop, she was told by a WPC behind the desk that it was not a crime because she had got the bag back.

Unfortunately for the inept Rozzer Burd, the lady in question happened to be an ex-criminal barrister and used her knowledge of the law to ensure the case was passed on to a "senior" officer who decided to investigate further.

So, was it simply a case of stupidity, not wanting to complete reams of paperwork or just couldn't be bothered to put down her donut and coffee to listen to the demanding public?

Either way, it fills you full of hope next time you have to unfortunately report a crime. How's the law degree coming along?

Apologies

For once again highlighting Bush, but with such finds I feel it is my duty to point a finger and laugh at this moron:

"I think we can agree. The past is over."

"I have learned from mistakes I may or may not have made."

"It was just inebreating what the Midlands was all about then." (A slip on exhillerating)

"It's clearly the budget. It has a lot of numbers on it."

"The most important job is not to be governor, or first lady in my case."

"Will highways on the internet become more few?"

"Like your neighbor just like you like to be liked yourself."

"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? Laura and I really don't realize just how bright our children is."

"I was raised in the West. The West of Texas. It's pretty close to California. More so than Washington, D.C. is close to California."

"I propose that every city have a telephone number 119 -- for dyslexics who have an emergency."

"There ought to be limits to freedom." Said about parody websites of him.

"I believe that we are on an irreversible trend toward democracy and more freedom- but that could change."

"One word sums up probably the responsibility of any governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared.'"

"Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things."

"I have made good judgements in the past. I have made good judgements in the future."

"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."

"Illegitimacy is something we should talk about, in terms of not having it."

"We are ready for any unseen event that may or may not occur."

"For NASA, space is still a high priority."

"We have a firm committment to NATO; we are a part of NATO. We have a firm committment to Europe; we are a part of Europe."

"Who is to blame for riots? The rioters are to blame."

"The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation's history. I mean in this century's history. But we all lived in this century. I didn't live in this century."

"Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."

"It isn't pollution that's ruining the environment; it's all the impurities in the air and water that's doing it."

"It's time the human race entered the solar system."

It's claimed they are all true and accurate quotes but surely no one can be this retarded, can they?

Frozen Pizza

Here's an idea for pizza manufacturers.

How about providing a disposable, non-stick cooking tray that can be used in the oven for the pizza?

Simply place the pizza on said tray and then into the box. We can take the pizza from the box and place it directly into the oven without fear of welding the product to the oven rack, to the foil or any other home dish that seems to chemically bond with pizza bases.

Surely that is not asking for too much?

Ta.

At The Shops

Kraljevo contiunes to impress us and bemuse us at the same time, particularly on the shopping front. Some typical prices:

Ryveta- ~£1.20 a packet
Heinz Baked beans (the last in town)- ~90p a tin
Extra large, fresh, free range eggs- 5p/egg
Diet Coke- 40p/500ml bottle
A litre of wine- 75p

Crazy, wonderful place. We love it. :-)

The Best Result in the World Cup EVER

Is how the English commentator described yesterday's boring 0-0 draw between England and Germany.

What a shite-awful match.

Poor pitch, which chewed up at every opportunity and began to resemble a ploughed field, driving rain throughout most of the first and the entire second half and and England team selected without any attacking positions.

Clearly the game plan was to hold and contain and maybe score on the break?

It worked and bar the last 15 minutes, when the Germans realised it was going to peter out in a draw did they make some kind of effort to break through.

Nothing more to add- England can qualify if they beat Argentina (who narrowly lost 0-1 against Japan) and ditto Germany; they need a result against the Japanese to progress to the next round. Oddly enough, I'd prefer to be in the England's shoes and they must now be favourites to continue and really notch up "the best result in the World Cup- EVER"


PS: I suppose that having taken your first point against the current World and European Champions does count for something, especially as England have lost to Germany at each and every national game played to date. Well done England.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Fill Her Up?

You guys ready to see petrol stations advertising fuel at £1/litre?

It's on its way.

With oil prices gone past $80/barrel (~£40) and a 2p/litre rise in fuel duty from the Government it won't be long.

Mind you, if you think that's expensive, the equivalent cost for the same quantity of beer, made from mainly water and a few naturally grown materials is well over £5/litre.

How does that compute then?






The Treasury is expected to rake in £25 billion (£25 000 000 000 000) from taxes on fuel this year.

Oxfam Enters the 21st Century

Oxfam has set up an online charity shop with 50 000 items for sale, including donated clothes, books, and household items. It is hoped an estimated 120 000 donated things will be listed on the website by next spring.

What a good idea. I was always in our local Oxfam shop checking out the latest books and items and rate it as one of my favorite charity shops. Let's hope it is a success.

If you've never heard of it, have a look here: Oxfam for further details.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Sacrilege

The most famous bear to ever set foot out of Peru and renowned for his love of marmelade sandwiches and duffel coats is about to turn his back on his favoured sarnie filler and lean over to the Dark Side.

Marmite.

Today sees a new advertising campaign hit the TV screens in the UK where Paddington is seen using the new, squeezy bottles of Marmite; already a move away from the traditional glass jars and much cause of debate in its own right.

He tucks into a sandwich, loving its unusual, taste and then shares it with a pigeon, who is distinctly unimpressed, reflecting the spread’s catchy “love it or hate it” slogan.

No doubt this will displease some of the traditionalists but I'm for it- we can't have enough Marmite fans in the world.



The Paddington Bear adventure books have sold more than 30 million world-wide, and have been translated into 30 languages.

Staying With the Football

Best result of the night is without doubt Scotland's for beating France 1-0 at Parc des Princes , Paris.

Not only have they now beaten he French both at home and away (another 1-0 win at Hampden Park last October) but this victory takes them to the top of their qualifying group ahead of both Italy and France.

Imagine getting odds on that!

It really is tight in this group though- the top three teams are only separated by an odd point and so there is still plenty to play for.

Well done to Manager Alex McLeish, Captain Barry Ferguson and their team on a magnificent victory. Keep it up lads, you're nearly there.

Credit Where It's Due

England beat Russia 3-0 at Wembley last night and now go clearly into second place in their qualifying group, three points behind Croatia.

They still play against the Croatians, again at home, next month and whilst it was always going to be a tough game at least they will not be under so much pressure with qualification almost guaranteed now.

It's funny, whilst I am an out and out Germany fan most of my friends have always assumed I was anti England football. That has never been the case. I always look for their results and watch their games and naturally if the game is against the Germans, I know where my loyalties lie. However, it is good to see England succeed and progress to any Finals. Not having them there is always a slight anti climax.

Besides, there is no better feeling than beating the "Old Enemy" on penalties in the quarter finals, is there? ;-D

So well done to Team England and here's to seeing you in Austria/Switzerland next year. I still think McLaren is an utter oaf with the tactics of a 3 year old in the school playground, but even retards can get lucky, right?

Take our mate Sven as a prime example of sheer inadequacy; how lucky was he that he had the good fortune to negotiate a contract with the incompetents at the FA...

Pictures of Kraljevo

Can be found on Flickr now.

Unfortunately these are all we managed before our camera deafed out but it gives you an idea of what "home" is all about for the next couple of months.

Send Us a Postcard

We can now.

Having finally understand how to go shopping in Kraljevo there isn't much we haven't found.

Yesterday wifey came back with some postcards (logically sold in a book/art shop, where else?) and so we can send those out in due course to our nieces and nephews for their on going collection of where we have stayed on our tour. I imagine/hope it will grow to be quite a large set of cards in the years to come.

At some point we also need to track down a camera as ours is kaput and then, when we do find a suitable replacement, we have to work out how to pay for it. Life is full of little challenges. :oD

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Eye, Eye...

You'd have thought that robbing a blind guy would be relatively straight forward. No need to disguise yourself against identification, no risk of being caught once you make your escape and hardly much of a challenge from someone who cannot see.

At least, this is what a mugger presumed when he fancied nicking some poor blind chap's cigarettes in Berlin.

Wrong.

The guy turned out to be a world-class, blind judo expert and proceeded to kick the crap out of the would-be assailant.

Ha, ha!

Would You Like Fries With That?

It's official, dining out in London is now the most expensive experience in the world, outranking Tokyo, Paris and New York.

Average cost of a meal including one drink and "service":

London £39.09
Paris £35.37
Tokyo £35.10
New York City £19.30

And don't forget that is per head; we could eat out for a week going by those prices. Bon appetite.

Bunking Off?

Due to when Easter falls next year (Easter Sunday is 23rd March) and the schools deciding that their holidays will start on 4th April, "truancy" is expected to reach an all time high.

Teachers suspect that parents will take the opportunity to have a longer holiday by going away for the beginning of Easter and not bringing the children back to school for the remaining four days and the start of the official holidays.

The Schools Minister said that "parents needed to understand that even a couple of days off during the term could have a negative impact on their child’s progress."

Utterly preposterous.

What happens when a child is ill and misses school for weeks at a time? If it is indeed such a big concern, why not move the holidays to coincide with Easter then? And since when is it truancy if you are off school with your parents consent?

Another shining example of how this Government dictates to parents on how to bring up their kids with Nanny knowing best. Pathetic.

WWC 2007

Since the opening game in the women's World Cup (see previous post recently) I have become strangely addicted to watching more of the games and looked in on England's game with Japan yesterday. They are in the same group with Argentina and Germany so I was checking out the opposition and assessing our chances against the "old enemy".

It was quite a match.

Both teams began with trepidation but this was to be expected as they had never faced each other before but soon the pattern of play began to emerge with the Japanese playing the neater, feet to feet game and the English using their physical advantage and employing the longer ball tactic. Sound familiar?

Against the run of play Japan scored first with a well taken free kick in the second half and then England, being 1-0 down, started to panic a bit and their game became sadly predictable allowing the Japanese to quell any threats of an equaliser.

Until the last 15 minutes of the game when Smith, scored two impressive goals from close range within 5 minutes of each other. From 1-0 down to leading the game 1-2 with maybe five minutes to go, England were in complete control and looked to be cruising to a hard fought victory.

However, in the 5th minute of injury time, Japan were awarded another free kick from a similar position as before and once again they scored a quite magnificent goal to level the game with literally the last kick of the match.

Points of note:

  • Smith's goal celebrations. Taking your boot off and then kissing it is not only disgusting but also rather contrived and silly. Please show a little more dignity.
  • Burds hawking up a greenie for the cameras does not portray the fairer sex in a good light. So the blurks do it but what do you expect from Neanderthal Man?
  • The English commentators. The woman seems to have the IQ of pumpkin. Here's a thought love, you are paid to be honest so please don't kick off every second sentence by declaring that you are going to be. Nor is it necessary to repeatedly ask us if we know what you mean.
  • The guy seems to know less about women's football than Bush does about Foreign Policy. Blatantly cheering on English efforts will not make up for this fact and nor will taking cheap pot-shots at the opposition. Your patriotism is not under question but there are two teams on the pitch and at least try to show some vestige of neutrality.
  • A game is not over until the final whistle blows. To celebrate victory prematurely is not only naive and foolhardy but as was witnessed, dangerous.

So onto the big one; England against Germany on 14th September. Can England bounce back and progress into the next round or will Germany keep their momentum and continue their impressive start to this campaign? No idea, but I will be watching it with baited breath.

How Long Does it Take?

Last year, around about May time, Montenegro voted for a break away from Serbia and became independent. It was by the narrowest of margins (they need a 55% and got 55.4%) but nonetheless, the decision was made to secede and both countries went on their merry ways.

That being the case, why is it that everywhere I look on the internet people still refer to this area of former Yugoslavia as Serbia and Montenegro?

In particular the BBC is a big culprit; they of all people should be more accurate, especially as they have had well over a year to amend their records.

I find it all rather ill mannered and showing a lack of respect.




The last time Montenegro was independent was nearly 90 years ago at the end of World War I, when it was absorbed into the then newly formed Yugoslavia.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Gunning For Trouble

A copper who has been banned from every pub (all 30 of them) in Cardigan, West Wales following a fight in a wine bar during a rugby match, has been moved to Plod's armed response unit.

Yup, a guy who clearly has an aggressive temper and has violent tendencies has been deemed fit to carry a deadly firearm in the course of his duties.

Seems entirely reasonable...

Top Deck

What do you do if you're a bus driver and are made aware some of your passengers are smoking crack cocaine on your vehicle?

If you're the driver of bus number 47, you'd drive it right up to the nearest Plod shop and ask them to deal with the situation. Which is exactly what he did, only to be advised that Dibble was too busy and that he should ring 999 for assistance instead.

The offical response from The Filth:

"We can confirm that at 11.41* am last Tuesday, staff at the front desk of Lewisham police station received a report from members of the public concerning two males allegedly consuming drugs while on board a bus.

On receiving this report, front desk staff immediately reported the incident, which was graded as requiring an immediate response.

At that time, no Lewisham response teams were available due to policing demands, so the incident was assigned to mounted branch officers in the area at 11.51* am.

The mounted branch officers subsequently carried out searches of the area but there was no trace of the suspects."

Funny that, a mere ten minutes* went by and the druggies didn't even have the decency to wait to be arrested. Has no one any manners left nowadays?

Guinness is Good For You

That was one of the old advertising slogans favoured by Guinness in the past and now it seems it may well be.

It appears to reduce clotting activity which is a way to lessen the chance of heart attacks and can be just as effective as taking a daily aspirin.

Research shows it is the “antioxidant compounds” found in Guinness (and in certain fruits and vegetables) that can make the stout prevent heart clots, but this is not the case for lager.

Great- I am a huge fan of the Black Stuff but all we get to drink nowadays is lager...

Good For The Goose

The broadcaster, Sir Trevor McDonald, has been cleared by Ofcom of allegations of racism after he described the late "comedian" Bernard Manning as a “fat, white bastard”.

They ruled he had “obviously and intentionally drawn on Bernard Manning’s own style of humour”.

Quite right- how can it be racist if you simply tell the truth? ;-)

Home is Anywhere

But for one British couple, it is a Travelodge where they have lived for the past 22 years.

They say they never have to cook, clean, do the washing up or make a bed and they don't have to worry about heating bills in the winter. Every day they get fresh towels and sheets and they even give and receive Christmas, birthday and anniversary presents from staff.

Excellent, and I can see the attraction...





For our foreign readers, a Travelodge is part of a chain of basic hotels in Britain that cost around £40+/night depending on location and length of stay. To date, their stay has cost no less than £97 000 over the last 22 years.

The People Say

Nearly two thirds of the public are opposed to the 2012 London Olympics, preferring to see the money go on public services (such as schools and hospitals) and tax cuts instead.

Currently the estimated cost for hosting the games stands at £9.3 billion.

But what do the people know and how dare they even have an opinion...

HIPs

Amongst the turmoil and confusion that are the Home Improvement Packs (HIPs) this amazingly incompetent Government has revealed that most houses are getting an E energy rating. The ratings run from A (best) to G (worst).

It has been suggested to improve the rating of your property and jump up to category C (wow) you should implement "a range of energy-saving measures they could save £180 a year on heating, £60 on lighting and £30 on hot water".

Incredible, you pay between £400-£600 for the HIP and are given this stunning bit of inane information, that neither seller nor buyer has the slightest bit of interest in, because all either party wants to do is sell/buy the house.

How have these morons been allowed to introduce such a retarded law is beyond me. Oh hang on, it's because it's an environmental issue- of course, that makes it all worthwhile...

Monday, 10 September 2007

Lucky Number 11

Eleven has always been my lucky number and now I suspect there will be quite a few German football fans who will feel it's not a bad digit either.

Today saw the 5th Women's World Cup kick off in China and the opening game saw the Germans defend their World Cup crown against Argentina.

Whilst there is no direct correlation between men's and women's football as to the form guide, Germany are currently both World and European champions, a feat not even their male counterparts can boast, and Argentina came to the Finals as South American champions and thus no pushover.

Which makes the score line even more unbelievable as German routed the Argentineans 11-0 in the first match of the tournament, traditionally a boring and safe game!

Hat tricks to both the German captain Prinz, and Smisek and also a world record score, beating the previous best of 8-0, quite easily.

What makes it all the more interesting is that England happen to be in the same group and start their campaign against Japan tomorrow and then face the Germans on the 14th. Bring it on...

Spitting Distance


Just before the camera crapped out, we managed one final shot.

From the doorway to the tables is the distance we have to move to get a beer...
Hard life, innit? :oD

Well, That's That Then

Our camera has given up the ghost and is no more.

It was nothing spectacular or special to begin with, but it did what we wanted it to do and take pictures, simply and without fuss. Just about four mega pixels (even mobile phones have better resolution nowadays), it ran off AA batteries (it ate them at a ferocious rate) and the size of a small Shetland pony, it has no died without rhyme or reason.

What is annoying though is that it is barely two years old. It hardly warrants repair and thus it has become a semi-disposable item, which is pretty hard to swallow for a camera that should last way longer than that.

In case you're wondering what it is, it's an Olympus, C-460 Zoom del Sol and NOT ktelontour recommended.

It does however mean we can treat ourselves to a new camera at some point.

Pizza To Go

Things are definitely looking up as we have also discovered a take pizza palour for both sit in and takeaway pizza- surely the ideal way to finish off an evening after a couple of beers? Plus it is perhaps a three minute walk away from our apartment. :-D

We collected a Four Season for around £3.50 and can report back it was completely delicious.

*yay*

ktelontour Beer Index


Yes, it is starting to look a little congested at the foot of the table due to a recent spate of wonderful cheap beer, but we will soon be revamping it to make it a bit clearer. Watch this space...

The Price of Beer

After much dedicated research and selfless sacrifice, ktelontour can report that the price of a pint (500 ml) is a more than reasonable 80 Dinar, which is a mere 68 pence!

They have two local brews, "Lav" (I kid you not) and another named "Jelen", both around the early 5% strength mark. Of the two, we prefer the "Lav" although they also offer a wide range of imported beers.

However, I am not sure how they have structured their prices for the foreign beers as 500 ml of Becks (a premium lager in the UK, selling at around three quid a pint) costs 90 Dinar (~£0.76) and only 330 ml of Heineken (a rather bog standard and unimpressive lager) costs a stonking 180 Dinar (~£1.52)!

Still, who cares? We stick to the local brews and at under 70p a pint it's certainly not going to break our budget. :oD

Shopping in Kraljevo

Slowly we begin to get our heads around this idea of shopping here.

As mentioned, we have been having difficulty in finding a large supermarket and that is because there aren't any. They are more like convenience stores or the traditional corner shop and thus choice is a bit limited.

However, what one needs to do is go back to how we shopped in the "good old days" where every item of produce is sold by a dedicated shop owner.

We go to this massive open air, daily market which has all manner of fresh fruit and vegetable (but still no sight of lettuce; wifey is very disappointed), we now understand fish is only sold at a fishmongers, meat from a butchers and they even have chicken specialists.

Plucking up enough courage to mangle yet another fine language, we have thus far managed to buy fish and minced meat (from separate shops naturally) to enable us to cook a rather spiffing fish pie and yesterday I cobbled together a tasty bolognese sauce.

However, this shopping situation is completely odd as everywhere they have sports shops selling the latest designer labels in trainers and the like, top of the range electrical goods and vast rows of coffee shops, bars and bistros.

If Tesco were to land here, they would make a killing...

10th September

Is today and it is also our wedding anniversary, which is a mere eight* years old and traditionally called the bronze anniversary.

We only got married to have an excuse for a party and because I lost a bet- Tottenham got done by Newcastle (again) and so we did the deed.

It was gloriously hot and we had a lot of good friends come along and share our day with us. Then at midnight, everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to me.

What do you mean the present's in the post?



*Although we have only been married for eight years, we had already been together for over twelve years before that.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

One Down, Several To Go


Finally, England realise that they need to start winning games to progress to the European Football Championship Finals being held jointly in Austria & Switzerland next year.
They got a respectable 3-0 home victory against a less than adventurous Israel yesterday which takes them to third in their group, a single point behind Russia whom they play against on Wednesday, again at Wembley.
If ever there was a make or break match coming up, that has to be it as less than second will not be good enough. I hope we find the game on somewhere and also that I can find my Russian shirt...
The Germans breezed past the Welsh with a simple 0-2 victory also last night which sees them remain top of their group with a cushion of five points.
I watched the game and whilst the result was great, the match not so. It was lack lustre and dull at times but three points away from home are still three big points and I bet England would love to have a boring, mediocre victory over Russia in a few day's time...
Co-Hosts Austria and Switzerland automatically qualify for the Finals whilst the remaining 50* nations are split into 6 groups of 7 teams and 1 group of 8 teams. The winners and runners up from these 7 groups will join the two co-hosts in the Finals from 7 - 29 June 2008.
*Are there indeed 50 countries in Europe? Since when has Israel for example been in Europe? Next thing we'll have America taking part. Hang on, Bush already believes the USA is part of Europe...