James Miller


Thursday, July 29, 2004


Francis Crick

Sad to see that Francis Crick has died. The work he was involved in with respect to DNA will truly affect us all for the better in the future, just as it is starting to do in the present.

One wonders too, if more information will come out on the unhappy relationship between Crick, Francis, Wilkins and Franklin.


Dale Roberts Testimonial

25,000 people turned up last night to thank the late Dale Roberts for all he did for Ipswich Town FC.

Perhaps, football isn't always the money grabbing, uncaring industry, it's always painted in the tabloids!


Short Skirts

An interesting reply by Elizabeth Saltzman who is the fashion director of Vanity Fair to the question 'How old is too old for a micro-mini?' in today's Times.

When your thighs touch.

Seriously though there is a lot of point here, in that when your thighs touch, be you a man or a woman, it's time you did something about getting yourself fit and in trim!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Global Warming

Just because global warming may or may not be happening, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to take precautions and cut out energy use, travel smarter and less by using broadband and more efficient transport, insulate houses, use wave, nuclear and tidal power (but not wind), etc.

It’s like if you met this gorgeous bird in a beautiful hotel in an insalubrious hotel and she suggested spending the night together, would you take precautions? You’d be an idiot if you did!

Perhaps those who completely deny the existence of global warming and selfishly carry on are idiots. They probably would sleep with anybody at anytime!

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Birmingham International Station Car Parking

For the last couple of hours, I have been trying to find out about car parking at Birmingham International Station. The reason is that Celia has a case in Wolverhampton and feels that as the court is close to the station, it would be easier to use the train to cross Birmingham rather than the M6.

Other than the fact that there is 1200 spaces there, I can't find any other information, such as how busy they are, how you get there from the M6.

No wonder people drive rather than take the train!

Sunday, July 25, 2004


Robert Kilroy Silk

I've never met the guy, but I have from first hand some interesting insights.

He was Celia's tutor at Liverpool University in the sixties. Then he was a serious smoker of untipped Capstan Full Strength and it annoyed Celia a great deal. As did his attitude to all his students. (Interestingly, he now is anti-smoking!)

But then he was a champagne socialist and knew what was right!

I often wonder that he was actually before his time in that he was actually New Labour of the 'do as I say, not as I do' variety, but then I don't know as I've never met him.

I do know that his current party, UKIP are against everything my family has stood for for many years. My father was a strong European and I don't know how he would have voted in such an election, but I'm certain Kilroy would not have been on his list!

Friday, July 23, 2004


Tony and Mandy

They sound like an awful double act at Butlins many years ago.

Unfortunately, they are not and now the dreaded Blair has foisted his friend on us as our sole European Commissioner. Surely, we deserve better than having one of Tony's Cronies.

As we only have one Commissioner shouldn't we be able to elect who we want!

Thursday, July 22, 2004


Great Wall - Part 2

I was bringing an old friend to my house for the first time today. Just before we turned the corner where the awful wall is, I asked him would he comment on what he saw next!

The view fair took his breath away and what he said was unprintable.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004


Manhole Covers

Today, I had to buy a new manhole cover, as one had broken.

It reminded me of a story I was told in the sixties.

A friend, Dave Stringer, was a good cricketer for Edmonton in North London.

One weekend, their match was umpired by a man, who the previous week had officiated in the women's Test Match.

In the bar afterwards, someone asked the umpire if women wore any protection like a man's box. 'Yes!' said the umpire. 'And I was asked to guess what women cricketers call them! Manhole covers was the answer!'

There is also a quote about this from David Gower of all people.



Chelsea are the New Leeds

Leeds were always hated by genuine football fans. It gave me a lot of pleasure to see them relegated last year! I hope they free-fall to whatever the real Division 3 is called next season!

Ipswich have a nickname of The Tractor Boys, which actually started as an insult from Leeds fans. They were singing rude versions of Worsels songs, as they thought Ipswich was in Somerset!

Enough said!

But this season, who will Premiership fans like to take the piss out of!

Step forward Chelsea!

Let's prove that £192m can be wrong!


Road Charging

The Government has said it would like to have full road charging by 2014!

Then you might pay up to £1.34 for each mile you drive.

It'll never happen!

if this looked like being a reality, the Motorists Party would be formed and they'd win by a landslide!


Council Tax

We live in the country and get nothing except our bins emptied and a large amount of unnecessary planning usually of the No variety. We have no library within easy reach, no public transport that is of any use and never see a Police car!

So why should I pay more?

Council tax should be abolished and the Government should pay a per head charge to each council. That might mean increased income tax, but I’d put up with that!

On the other hand, if councils wanted more money, then they should be able to use any method they wanted. That would get people interested in having truly efficient councils!

They certainly aren’t now!


Walkers Gluten-Free Crisps

I get an update from Walkers about what crisps are gluten-free.

This week I got ‘sincere apologies’ from them, which stated that last week’s list was wrong.

This is an example to everyone.

Sunday, July 18, 2004


An Act of Kindness

We had some visitors to the stud today.

One was a man who had a lot of difficulty walking and used a stick. A couple of weeks ago, he had been to Royal Ascot and as he had a runner he was in the paddock before the race.

Unfortunately he dropped a stick and as he was unable to pick it up a kind lady in the paddock did this for him.

The lady was Princess Anne!


A for Andromeda

When the best sci-fi TV programs are debated they always forget A for Andromeda.

Written in the sixties by Fred Hoyle it introduced Julie Christie to the world!

The story would probably stand up reasonably well today! But then Fred was a Professor of Astronomy at Cambridge!

Saturday, July 17, 2004


Speed Cameras

On Friday I drove though East London. The speed limit signs were a mess and at times I was unsure as to whether the limit was 30, 40 or 50!

Road safety and keeping to limits must be a shared responsibility. Until the Government gets its act together in such situations and uses all speeding fines to improve road safety, rather than as a revenue device, motorists will never be persuaded to behave properly.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004


The Miracle
I went to the 2004 BP Portrait Awards and noticed that the first prize was won by Stephen Shankland, who painted his wife and son, Connor.
Connor is a baby who was born with a hole in his diapragm.  Just like my granddaughter Imogen.  At the age of two and a half she has just been discharged for good by the Royal London Hospital.
So even the most difficult of stories can have a happy ending!


Civil Service Cuts

So Gordon Brown reckons he can save £25bn by cutting 100,000 civil servants!


Most commentators reckon that this number will only save at most £5bn!

What he needs to do is cut red tape, but about all pass much simpler legislation that means that whole departments can be axed! People like me, who try and earn a crust, would then spend any time filling in meaningless forms. We might earn some more money which would mean we would pay more tax!

A classic case are the latest rules for EU farm subsidy. The system is very complicated and despite the fact it starts in November 2004, DEFRA hasn't even published the final set of regulations.

One thing he might consider doing is abolishing inheritance tax!

The tax doesn't collect very much as most people take advice which reduces their liability. Also as the comfortably off and upwards are increasingly living to an old age, they have more opportunities to dispose of property sensibly!

I would suspect that abolishing the tax, would have interesting side affects.

1. The rich would come here to die. They go to Italy now which has no tax and probably will force other EU countries to follow suit anyway.

2. Bright accountants would be forced to find other ways of earning a crust. They might even get involved in creating jobs!

3. I also believe it would create opportunities in places where housing is scarce for large houses to be split and rebuilt innovatively to create more dwellings, as there would be no inheritance tax to consider in the project.

But it would never be done by a Labour government!


Great Wall of Bradley

We live in a hamlet just outside the village of Great Bradley, which is about ten kiometres south of Newmarket. No-one would claim that Great Bradley is the prettiest of villages, being basically a straggle of houses along the main road between Newmarket and Haverhill, but there are plenty of well-kept houses and gardens and each year there is significant improvement.

That is until a few weeks ago, when an incoming couple removed a hedge from around their thatched cottage and replaced it with a two-metre high fence complete with matching electric gates. It might be perfect for an industrial area in a major town or city, but it is an awful eyesore in a village.

It is also probably against the planning rules, which state that no fence is allowed without permission to be more than a metre high, when it runs along the road.

This one will run and run, as I know that I'm not the only person to have informed St. Edmundsbury council.

Friday, July 09, 2004


Ingredients in Home Made Cakes

The Times published an editorial in which they thought it was wrong for all ingredients to be declared in cakes. And especially the home-made variety.

I was incensed as their editorial affects people who are coeliacs like me, who can't eat gluten, which is found in wheat or barley.

My letter to them follows :-

I am afraid that your editorial on the nation’s cakes is just plain wrong. And dangerous to some!

A few years ago, I would have agreed with you, but now after being diagnosed as a coeliac (at the age of 55 incidentally), it is absolutely important that I know what I am eating. I can’t eat any gluten, which is present in wheat and barley, so generally no bread, no cakes, no puddings, no pasta and no beer!

Luckily I am not a serious coeliac because if it was one delicious home-made cake could make me ill for a week. I usually get a day with an upset stomach.

But all is not gloom and doom!

Many restaurants and caterers know their allergies and cook accordingly. For instance on a GNER train, I asked if the sauce was gluten-free. The chef came and told me personally that it was and then checked again after the meal. That is service that everybody should expect and not just those who have allergy problems.

You quote Jill Dupliex. A few weeks ago, she gave a recipe for Strawberries Romanoff. This is a decadent pudding if ever there was one. And its gluten-free! We need more of these, so that we can die happy!

Some more enlightened companies; Tesco, Pizza Express, Kelloggs, Heinz, Sainsbury, Cadbury to name six from many are more than happy to disclose if products contain any sort of allergen. Others do not, so I avoid their products.

Incidentally, as I write this I have a letter on my desk from Walkers telling me which of their snacks I can eat.

Why? Because I suspect it means a lot more sales.

You say that it cramps a nation’s creativity! It doesn’t! It enhances it! Being of the wrong sex I have no need for the gluten-free HRT cake seen in a health food shop in North London! That’s creativity!

So to me and lots of others the contents of what we are eating must never be left unsaid!

Yours faithfully (but I feel something more vitriolic would be better!)

Monday, July 05, 2004


Multiple Occupancy Lanes

There is talk today about multiple occupancy lanes for motorways and other roads at peak times. But would it be better to charge instead?

Consider the success of the technology used to read number plates for the London Congestion Charge. It definitely works!

So why not have gantries at the charge points, which read the number plates and add a charge. The charge itself should be infinitely variable, so that say if the peak charge is two pounds between eight and nine in the morning, but then it graduates away until ten. (If you have a sharp cut-off then people will wait and you will get jams at that time.)

As the charge is accumulated to the number plate and now many garages have the same technology, then some could automatically add your charges to your petrol bill. Obviously, you would also have the option to not pay at that time.

Unpaid fines would have to be paid on transfer of the vehicle or on retaxing.


Overweight Passengers on Aircraft

We recently flew to Greece and in the next row was a man who was grossly overweight.

Everybody was very apprehensive that they didn’t want to share with him.

As he took up two seats he should have paid more!


Richard Baker

On the BBC they are celebrating fifty years of news bulletins. Richard Baker was the first newsreader.

My father’s printing works was on Station Road in Wood Green and many days, he used to see Richard Baker walk past on his way from the Underground to Alexandra Palace.

How many newsreaders would do that now?


Martin and Newby

This wonderful shop in Ipswich where you could buy any type of tool and useful hardware has closed.

This is a very sad day!

I used to have an office opposite and I can remember when they built the Orwell Bridge seeing the Volker Stevin van coming every day to replace tools dropped into the water!

Friday, July 02, 2004


Last of the Few

Driving out of Cambridge today, I went south on the M11 as I needed to see someone at Babraham. As I approached Duxford, the old WWII airfield, that is now part of the Imperial War Museum, I saw an aircraft performing aerobatics over the field.

As an ex-pilot myself, to see a plane flown well, is always something I enjoy. From a distance of a few miles, it could have been any single-engined aircraft. But judging by the precise flying, loops and rools, I suspected it was a specialist aerobatic aircraft. Perhaps it was a Yak.

As I came off the motorway, it did another pass.

It was a Hawker Hurricane!

The Supermarine Spitfire is always thought by most people to be the plane that saved the free world in the Battle of Britain. But it was only second fiddle to Sidney Camm's immaculate Hurricane.

It is so emotive, to see one of the most important aircraft in history performing as it should!

My other memory of the Hurricane was years ago when I was crossing the US airbase at Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire when another aircraft called up to do the same in the opposite direction.

The conversation was something like this.

Aircraft (Very clipped wizard prang) - Upper Heyword, this is Hurricane One. Request transit your zone.

Upper Heyford (Texan (?)) - Say again call-sign and aircraft type. Squawk One-Two-Three-Four.

Aircraft - Hurricane One. Type is Hurricane. Negative transponder.

Upper Heyford - Say Again. Call-sign and type is unknown.

Aircraft (Exasperated) - Call-sign is Hurricane One. Type is Hawker Hurricane.

Upper Heyword (After long silence! New Voice!) - Sorry Hurricane One. Mighty fine aircraft you have there! Any chance of a fly-by!

Aircraft - Hurricane One. Affirmative.

A few minutes later.

Uper Heyford - Hurricane One. Wow!

Hurricanes affect people like that!

Years ago on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, I saw a documentary about the battle.

It was French and it was considered controversial. Why?

Because it stated that we were selfish in calling the epic battle, where a few pilots in Hurricanes and Spitfires, aided by Radar and very strong backup saved the free world from the Nazis, the Battle of Britain.

They said it should have been called the Battle of Europe. It was!

Remember too, that up to twenty percent of those who fought were not British. They numbered Poles, Czechs, Free French, Americans and many others.

So you can understand why a lone Hurricane performing aerobatics is so important!

Thursday, July 01, 2004


Improving British Sport

Inevitably, when we fail at sport as we often do, there are calls for all sorts of changes.

Could it be simply, that when we are children we don't have enough time?

School finishes between three-thirty and four and for several months of the year it is dark!

But supposing we started school an hour earlier at eight in the morning instead of nine! And we could also move to the same time zone as the rest of Europe to get a second hour after school.

It might get children playing sport more. And then we might do better!

But it would also mean that there would be a lot less accidents on the roads.

It'll never happen! Because here in the UK politicians would rather throw millions at a problem than a simple solution!


Tim Henham

Perhaps in fact probably, he'll never win Wimbledon.

Does it matter?

After all he's been the best player we've had since Fred Perry!