James Miller


Monday, February 28, 2005


Improving Family Life

It not just families who need to be treated specially, it's all groups who have problems.

Some years ago I met a senior civil servant in the Department of Employment, who said that the best way would be to allow everyone, who pays another to do work for them to charge it against their tax. Provided of course that the payment is declared by the recipient.

As he said, millions fiddle it, so that your mother’s help is often declared as a secretary etc.

If this system were to be allowed, you’d probably find that the number of real jobs and taxpayers would increase considerably.

1. Pensioners would group together to employ others as gardeners.

2. Child care would be professional and much better.

3. If you had an innovative idea you could just employ someone to test it without the expense of starting a company.

4. If you were going through say cancer, then you could employ a nurse.

No-one has ever seriously run this through the economy. At the time it was discounted by the Treasury as they did not include the black economy in their model of the country.

As an aside my secretary works at home two days a week over the Internet. Why is new technology never discussed as a way of getting a better work/life balance?

Saturday, February 26, 2005


M6 Toll

Used it twice on the way to and from Wolverhampton. Seems to work well!

Thursday, February 24, 2005



The UK government has just started a virus alert bulletin at ITSafe. It uses what it call an 'ITSafe word' for security. Good for them.

I've advocated this sort of procedure for some time.



Premier Foods - Branston Pickle

BBC East are reporting today that Branston Pickle is on the list of foods contaminated with the Sudan-1 colouring.

So why is this not being reported on the Premier Foods web site?

I checked and it is. But only on the News page. And there is no link to the Food Standards Agency.

It should be on the front page.


Buying Road Tax

This is a nightmare round here, as it clogs the Post Office at the end of each month. They have recently cut staff and services, so a good service has been made bad at most times and appalling at others.

We only go into the Post Office for two reasons.

One is to purchase a very odd stamp for a letter to a very odd place.

And the other is to purchase road vehicle licence for any of our cars or horse box. Usually, you assign a wasted hour and a drive of fifteen minutes each way.

I just heard on the Simon Mayo program that they are trialling on-line buying of road tax.

About time too!


Maxine Carr

I wonder how long it would be before you get a hanger and flogger on the phone-in this morning! He says he speaks for ninety-nine percent of the population. Not me at all!

Thirty years ago my wife used to visit in Holloway and she knew Myra Hyndley. Interestingly, at that time, she was not the worst murdress in the prison. It was just that the press got their teeth into her and demonised her.

Now that Myra Hyndley is dead, they need another victim. And they have chosen Maxine Carr. Perhaps as well because she is out of jail and thus much easier to chase!

What a sick society we are?


Branston Pickle

BBC Look East this morning are saying that this is affected.

The Food Standards Agency does not list it and rather disgracefully Premier Foods Web Site says nothing about Sudan 1 at all.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Sudan-1 Colouring in Worcester Sauce

So what!

Yes it shouldn't have happened, but this one isn't that serious.

It's probably less of a carcinogen than smoking one cigarette!

But what is worrying is how long it took to discover it. Suppose, it had been some deadly toxin.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


House Arrest, Phone Tapping etc.

Can't see why we can't allow phone tapping and e-mail intercepts as evidence. Most other countries in Europe allow it.

Yet again we're out of step.

I'm afraid that I was brought up to believe that I always have the right to be tried by my peers, if someone thinks I've done something wrong.

After all, wouldn't Robert Mugabe think some of my sentiments were treasonable, if they were applied to his Government?

But what would happen if in my role as a web designer, I wrote a site for a group of nefarious people, who were perhaps creating a legitimate front for their protection racket and drug dealing? Supposing it looked like guilt by association, with the only evidence in my favour being phone taps of my conversations with the criminals, where we only talked about the web site. These of course would not be produced in court, as they would show my innocence.

But surely, aren't I allowed full access to all evidence, so that I can prove my innocence?

This must also apply to some of those in Belmarsh, as unless all phone taps are shown and tested in court, then justice does not apply.


James Dyson - Number 1 in the US

He may think he's the first innovative British company with the number one slot in the US market. But he's wrong!

We did it. And more so!

In 1976, four Englishmen, Richard Evans, Robin Lodge, Roy Brown and myself, started a company called Metier Management Systems to develop and sell project management software worldwide. The product was and is called Artemis.

We were number one in many countries throughout the world including the US, UK, Norway, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, Korea, Singapore etc. etc.

We sold the company in the mid-80’s and it is still going strong.

So don’t make statements without checking them first!


Ray Hammond

Just listening to Ray Hammond on Radio 5. Saying some very interesting things about Michael Crighton being very selective about the facts on global warming.

I'm with Ray!

Monday, February 21, 2005


Gays in the Military

Today's phone in on Radio 5 was about whether the Navy should advertise for sailors in Gay News and similar publications.

Why not?

And that was the view of nearly everybody who phoned in. Reservations were expressed about teamwork, but then if you throw any group together it is always a problem. Try reconciling a Norwich supporter with an Ipswich one!

Friday, February 18, 2005


Little Ways to Save Energy

When using less energy is mentioned, nobody ever talks about the savings of working from home or partly so.

I have worked at home since 1972 and note how costs have dropped consistently and especially now with broadband, which even reaches me in rural Suffolk.

I would estimate that working from home probably saves about 6000 miles driving every year compared to a normal work pattern.


The Fate of Foxes

As a countryman, who lives on a large stud near Newmarket, which is not hunted or shot for anything, I very much fear for the fox after the hunting ban.

When foxes are not hunted and therefor have no value at all for sport, then it will not be long before they cease to be seen in the countryside.

The shooting fraternity has been very quiet on this, but I suspect gamekeepers will quickly trap and shoot as many foxes as they can to protect their birds. Hunting may not have been a good method of control, but it did disturb foxes and keep them on the move.

But you have to remember that our foxes are rabies-free and thus quite valuable for the fur trade. Just as many foxes have disappeared this way in Ireland, most of our foxes will probably end in coats and stolls throughout Europe.


Drinking Whilst Pregnant

When my wife was pregnant in the late 60’s, she was advised by a very sensible older woman, that a brandy at night would make the baby sleep.

She didn’t incidentally.

But next they’ll tell us if you get out of bed the wrong way or too quickly, you might get caught in the bedclothes and break your leg!

Get a life.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Mitchell and Kenyon

If you ever get a chance to see this Edwardian film go for it.

It consists of 28 hours of film found in an old photographers shop in Blackburn in Lancashire. I saw it with my wife at Cambridge Film Theatre today and it is exquisite.

You see a typical street scene and amongst the ladies you’ll see someone who really does take her waist seriously. Not once but several times. In one scene there is a procession for a degree ceremony at Birmingham University. Lots of trim ladies!

The actual moving film which shows the girls as they turn shows that not all waists were natural.

The other interesting thing is that in the crowd scenes you’ll see the occassional black face. Something that the politicians of the right would have you believe were not in the UK in the 1900’s.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Charles and Camilla

Why all the fuss?

If they want to get married that's their affair. Not news!

I reckon they were told to announce it now, so that the papers don't have any space or reporters for the election. That way the real issues will not get discussed.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Ellen MacArthur

Well done to her!

But does she really need to be made a Dame? I suppose just like Kelly Holmes, it fits Blair's spin machine.

I always thought that sportsman got knighted when they either retired or got to the end of their careers!


Cleaners in the House

So cleaners in the Houses of Parliament are poorly paid and most seem to be recent immigrants.

It does strike me that this is a security risk, especially as every company I've ever worked for reckon that the cleaning staff are one of the key groups in checking that everything is OK with the building.

I wonder what the blessed Tony would do if one of these cleaners turned out to be an Al Qaeda sympathiser! He'd obviously blame the privatised cleaning company, rather than any of his lackies who made the decision to cut costs at all costs.


Why I'm Voting No in the European Referendum

I'm very pro-European and broadly support the new European Constitution.

But I shall not be voting for it! Why?

1. I feel strongly we should be in the Euro. It would be a firm sign that we are throwing ourselves in with the humane European ideals, rather than the cruel ones of the United States.

2. We should also be in Schengen, which allow Europeans to move freely within the European Community. If we are true Europeans, why should we have to show passports every time we cross borders. The French don't when they go into Germany and Spain.

Joining both would surely increase trade and get more tourists to the UK. Would you as a Frenchman come to the UK for the weekend, if it meant you had to change money and also show your passport. You'd probably go to Madrid instead.

So I won't be voting for something that doesn't include the things I feel important.

But there is also the fact, that I wouldn't vote for this wretched Government, which runs riot over human rights, imposes petty restrictions on business, takes us into pointless wars illegally and then bans field sports.

The sooner they are gone and are replaced by something more liberal, that will take the real decisions for the twenty-first century the better!

Monday, February 07, 2005


A Second Hand Memory of Denis and Margaret Thatcher

Listening to John Sergeant talking about Mrs. Thatcher and her fatal legacy, I'm prompted to write about a tale I heard probably about twenty-five years ago.

At the time I was working in Ipswich with Metier Management Systems and was invited to lunch by Reg Mayes, who at that time was the Development Office for the Borough Council. There were three of us at the table, the third being someone who was not a lover of Mrs. Thatcher!

I don't know how it happened but the third guy made a derogatory remark about Denis Thatcher. What he said I can't remember! Now at the time, Ipswich was very much a stronghold of traditional labour, so you would have thought that Reg would have shared the sentiments.

His reaction was quite different. 'Denis Thatcher was the best boss I ever had!'

Talked about stunned silence all round!

Reg then told how Denis had been his boss at ICI Dyestuffs in the 1950's. He told of how he chivied and cajoled salesmen with charm to do their best and how he'd been to the West Indies and Denis had been to South Africa. He felt that Denis's views on race were certainly not as portayed in the media, as he had been less than complimentary after that trip.

Lots more stuff than I can remember.

But Reg did think that Margaret Thatcher was Denis's ultimate creation. All he'd done is listen, watch, suggest and gradually iron out faults, just as he did with anybody who worked with him.

It may be that I haven't got this quite right as it was quite a time ago.

But it was a very interesting insight into what made Denis and Margaret Thatcher tick.

Remember too, there is also Neil Kinnock's reply when asked by Cliff Morgan on Radio 4, on how he put up with an idiot like Denis, when he got lumbered with him at a parliamentary gathering. Kinnock was interesting in that he said something like. 'I'm a Welshman and a great fan of rugby. Denis Thatcher has been a first-class rugby referee. So we talk and argue about it.' It was not the reply that had been expected and showed a lot of warmth must exist between the two men.

Perhaps Denis Thatcher was one of the most misunderstood people of the twentieth century.


Religious Creation Theory

What rubbish!

It makes me fear for the future of the world, if people try and foist that sort of claptrap on others.


Immigration into the UK

Let’s get real and scientifically correct over this.

Firstly, the biggest group of immigrants into the UK in recent times are from the old EU. We’ve got 250,000 French for a start!

Secondly, Robert Winder in his excellent book Bloody Foreigners, written in May 2004, predicted that due to economic conditions that immigration would slow down.

So the Government and all parties jump on a bandwagon that is actually going their way.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Five Points Clear

Are Ipswich going to get back where they belong this year?

Fingers crossed.


Phone Taps and E-Mails as Evidence

Why not?

The new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and Liberty are both in favour.

But the Government and MI6 are not!

I wonder if this is because if you look at parts of someone's conversation, you can probably prove anything. On the other hand if it were to be used as evidence, it has to be tested. Perhaps, a lot against detainees wouldn't stand up in Court.

Policemen have told me that if criminals knew that things they say on the phone could be used in Court, then they would resort to other less convenient methods of communications. So there would be more face-to-face meetings and even letters. All of which are easier to track.

But this this Government likes to manage everything. Including the prejudices of everybody, so that they are kept in power.

If the truth got out, then it might be more difficult.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


Judge Sentences Man Over Mobile Phone

Well not any judge, but Caroline Ludlow, who is a long standing friend. It was only a non-custodial case and the defendent, Aftab Ahmed, was stuck in a traffic jam.

So she decided that she'd sentence him over his mobile phone.

Apparently a world first and something that has been reprinted in at least 30 newspapers and web sites. But not so far any in the USA.


That is the link to the story on the BBC.

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Death By Careless Driving

This is a hard one to sort out.

Take what happened to me.

I was driving down a narrow suburban street with a row of parked cars on the right at about 20 mph, when I saw a black shape crawl and start to dash into the road from between the cars. Thinking it was a cat, or perhaps even a child, I swerved and just mounted the kerb on the left. There was a mother and child there and they'd seen the shape and she had pulled the child in, so I didn't come within ten feet of anything.

I stopped and wound down the window to check everything was alright. They both smiled and said yes. We all laughed as we saw that the black shape was not a cat, but a black plastic bag.

So no problem.


I was going slow enough, that even if I had hit the child, I probably would not have killed her. The visibility was very good and the mother and child were watching the traffic, so they saw the danger. etc. etc.

But what if they hadn't be paying attention, I'd hit a cat, swerved more, it had been raining heavily etc.

Would I have been able to stand up to a charge of death by careless driving? I'd have probably been found guilty as it was a child.

Now, most of the cases that are talked about in the papers are more than just a death. Often there is no insurance, no licence or the guy is disqualified.

Why not start with checking on drivers more often so that they don't commit the major offence? They don't because it would need more traffic police.


Martin McGuinness

If he is committed to the peace process, why doesn’t he tell the IRA to give up their weapons unconditionally, rather than use them to rob banks.

Isn’t it about time we put a three pence income tax surcharge on Northern Ireland, so that they give up their silly games and join the real world?