James Miller


Monday, October 31, 2005


Celia's Sausage Pie

The coeliac list has been a bit gloomy lately. So I posted this!

Here’s what I just finished off for my lunch.

Celia has made these for years and find that they freeze well and are a very quick meal to warm up in the AGA after we get home late.

She starts by baking some of Musks gluten-free sausages in the oven with an onion or two. You can add anything else you like at this point. Peppers? At the same time she boils and mashes some potatoes.

She then takes a large lasagne type dish and chops the sausages and onions, then mixes them with baked beans and a good helping of pickle. This is the one change she’s made over the years, in that the BB and pickle are now gluten-free.

The mashed potato is then spread over the top and then grated cheese is sprinkled on top. It can now be successfully frozen, kept in a fridge until needed or cooked immediately for about twenty minutes in the oven.

I’ve just reheated Friday’s remnants in a microwave for lunch. It goes well with tomato sauce too!

Sunday, October 30, 2005


God Hates Fags

I find this one of the most vile web sites I've ever had the disgust to see.

I can think of several reasons why this site should be banned; Fred Phelp's feelings that we in the UK deserve to suffer a million more deaths in addition to those of the seventh of July because of our support for homosexuality, his opposition to a woman's right to choose etc. etc. But mainly because he is an advocate of the death penalty.

What love for his fellow man is there there? Isn't Jesus supposed to be a man of peace, compassion and humanity?

But no I don't want to ban Phelps and his views.

I am a very tolerant man and believe that we should all be allowed to say what we want. The minute we start to ban weird and offbeat views we give them credibility and start to give rise to all sorts of conspiracy theories.

But sites like his, illustrate how difficult it will be to frame a law as proposed by Tony Blair about which web sites should be banned. God Hates Fags would be offensive to many in this country, the States and in all of rest of the world. But then I find many sites offensive and I suspect Phelps would find my views that way too.

Perhaps, it's a bit like the Mahatma Gandhi statement that "An eye for an eye and we'll all go blind". If we all banned what we want, then no knowledge would ever get disemminated and we'd still be in the dark ages beloved of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


The Evils of Second Hand Smoke

Recently, whilst walking out of Bury St. Edmunds, I thought I’d pop into a pub, have a drink and do a Sudoku.

The pub looked nice from the outside, but inside there was no food and everybody was puffing away. It was awful so I moved on and never had that drink! I just hadn’t realised how much the pubs I visit have cleaned up their act.

At least the inhabitants of the one I visited won’t put any drain on my pension! Even if they’ll increase my NHS bill!


One Cheer For Iraq

I'm a strong supporter of getting rid of dictators like Mugabe and Saddam Hussein, but am very wary of using force. I've always felt that Saddam Hussein could have been removed by clever rather than stupid sanctions.

But at least Iraq voted for a constitution that might work!

Let's hope in ten years time, we can all go and visit the sites of Babylon, Nineveh and other places.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Alternative Power

In about 1972 I worked as a consultant to Frederick Snow and Partners. Incidentally it was on the new airport/terminal at Aldergrove to replace Nutts Corner.

What was interesting was that the consultants were promoting a scheme to barrage the Severn, which has the highest tidal movement of anywhere in the world. Remember too, that this was at the time of the opening of the first Severn crossing.

Their plan was to put a barrage from Wales to North Devon, where it narrows again just below Portishead. A spine would then go up the middle of the river in a north-east south-west direction. Sluice gates would create a high and a low lake, with electricity being generated by turbines in the spine.

The advantages of this high-low barrage and central spine as compared to other tidal power systems, such as at La Rance in France are extensive :-

1. Because the power is generated by water passing between the high and low lake, electricity can be generated when it is needed and not when the tide is flowing.

2. It can also be used as a pumped storage system to store electricity, because if power is not needed, the generators can become pumps and they can pump water from the low lake to the high lake. Pumped storage is a technique that can also be used with wind power to sort out fluctuations.

3. Frederick Snow and Partners are airport builders and also felt that a major offshore airport could be built on the spine. Remember that the estuary runs the right direction for runways in the UK.

4. Another proposal would be to put energy consumptive industries such as petrochemicals and chlorine production on the spine, to keep them well away from centres of population.

5. It would also create a third Severn crossing.

6. Flooding on the Severn would be completely controlled.

As originally planned it would have created ten percent of the UK’s energy needs. Cost would have been large, but now that the UK’s economy is very much larger than in 1972, I believe it would now be very much more affordable.

The biggest objections are environmental, as the lakes would change the habitat along the coastlines.

I think that as you are going to deal with energy next week, you should take a good look at this project.

Do I think it should be built?

I am ambivalent because of the cost and environmental objections. I am a fierce opponent of wind-power because of the eyesore factor, cost and the fact that it only works part of the time. I am also someone who has hunted hounds in the shadow of Sizewell and moaned not at the power-station, but at the farmer who had taken all of his hedges out nearby.

I speak though as an engineer, who wrote the Project Management System, Artemis, that is used to create and manage most of these large projects. And also as a stud farmer, who lives in a hundred hectares of beautiful countryside.

So we have some difficult choices.

I feel that if we are going to have reliable electricity we may have to choose between nuclear, which I know is safe, but is vociferously opposed by a strident minority and schemes such as the Severn Barrage, which will also be opposed by a more local and much smaller group of people.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Foreign Lorry Drivers

About three years ago, my wife was in collision with a truck in Norfolk. It was a left hand drive vehicle from Holland and he couldn’t see her in the other lane as he cut across it on a roundabout with two lanes. She was left with a bruise on her breast where the air-bag went off.

A year later the same driver was prosecuted for causing death by dangerous driving in Suffolk. Did he fall asleep?

My wife developed breast cancer at the site of the bruise. She was lucky, detected it quickly and after surgery is now hopefully OK.



They were talking about fraud on the radio this morning.

Here's one of the best!

We were selling a system in Saudi in the early 1980's and the price was about 250,000 dollars. We always built a contingency in for the bribe as there is always one needed. But no-one had asked.

When the system was fully installed and working, the guy we were dealing with phoned his Saudi boss to say that everything was OK and he was going to authorise payment.

Not expecting anything, a few hours later, our engineer received a phone call, to say that the payment was downstairs. He went to the foyer expecting a guy with a cheque, but was quickly ushered out by an immacualtely dressed Arab to an armoured car. In the back was the payment in Saudi money, which has nothing big than a fiver.

"If you give me your bank account details, I'll count it and pay it in for you. Five percent will be OK"

That was less than we'd budgeted for!

Monday, October 17, 2005


Unreasonably Warm

It’s mid-October and the weather has been sunny for two weeks, the grass is growing like mad, the central heating is still off and for the next few days the temperature is almost nudging 20 degrees, with 10-12 at night.

Global warming?

Of course not!

Sales of SUV’s now account for one in seven car sales in London. All those people must care about the planet!



We breed racehorses and knew Alec Scott who was killed with a shotgun.

We also own a large stud and don’t allow any guns on the place, except for the licensed hunter who culls the deer injured in road and other accidents.

As someone who hunted with hounds for many years, it always strikes me that the Government had its priorities wrong, when it banned hunting, which never killed anybody. Perhaps we rate animals higher than people. Banning guns and replicas completely except for sport in a closed and secure environment would be something that I would welcome.

As an afterthought, the Police blame incompatible databases for not being able to create a National Gun Register. As a programmer, who analyses databases for a living, this is complete rubbish. It’s just that the Police and other government agencies never employ the right people to sort out this type of problem. They expect idiots and their preferred consultants who never deliver to do it, when they need to use entrepreneurial programmers, who might charge a lot, but get the job done.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Barrister's Pay

My wife is a long serving barrister who does family cases; mostly money and children.

She does her proportion of legal aid cases, but due to the rules being imposed is now earning less on these cases than she was a few years ago. What is worrying though is that new barristers are steering clear of this type of case. When those like my wife retire in a few years time, there will not be any adequate legal representation for those who can’t fund themselves.

Perhaps, the government should adopt an holistic approach, whereby they realise that by funding barristers and handling marriage break-up properly they will have far less problems in other areas.

Some hope!


Using Mobiles Whilst Driving

Probably not! Even with a hands-free as it’s distracting!

But shouldn’t drivers be banned from smoking at the wheel too! That is much more dangerous!

On a more general point, speed limits are always considered absolute by drivers. They are not and shouldn’t be. When I leave my house I go down a lane of dog walkers. If clear 30 is fine, but one dog walker, even on a lead, should reduce this to 20 or less.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Learning From The Past

I spent a lot of time in Felixstowe in the late 1950s and early 1960s and can still remember the marks on the walls of the houses which were flooded in the East Coast Flood of 1954.

Then in 1987 we were in the midst of the infamous hurricane.

In neither cases did we have any warning and the worst happened. We have hopefully learnt our lessons and things are now much better.

Will the Third World get the systems they need to mitigate the worst of the disasters? Not sure, as the United States knew of the problems in New Orleans and did nothing to rectify them.


Tales of Two Footballers

Football gets a bad press, but two heartwarming tales from Radio 5 Live last night.

Chris Birchall, who plays for Port Vale, is white and was born in England, but now plays International football for Trinidad and Tobago. His mother had been born in the Islands and lived there until she was nineteen.

He has now become the first white player to play for Trinidad and Tobago for the first time in sixty years. Everything has gone well.

The BBC are following Carlos Queiroz, the Manchester United coach in Mozambique.

Read his thoughts at :-



The Weather

It's going to be 23 here today. For October that's a scortcher.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


England Strikers

Why is Darren Bent not a shoe-in?

1. At Ipswich he proved he can play if required as a target man, being very good at getting long kicks out. So it was only the Championship!
2. At England under-21 level he has a formidable goal-scoring record.
3. In the Premiership he’s proved that he can score there.
4. He rarely gets booked and is very unlikely to get sent off.
5. He never dives, preferring to get up and put the ball in the net.
6. With Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard behind him, Owen and Bent would be lethal if balls were put over the top.

Don’t worry, but when England get to Germany, the two first choice strikers will be Rooney and Bent. The pace they both possess and their unpredictability with the ball will unsettle anybody.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


What Do You Say

One of the problems that many of us have is how do you refer descriptively to a person’s colour, so as to indicate something.

At the football at Ipswich, my neighbour and I, who like me is white and late 50s, often get lost for words, as to how you would point out a footballer on the opposing team. How do you say for instance, that black right back is good, without offending anyone?

You never have problems with your own team, as you refer to them by name.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Imperial Units

On the BBC today they were talking about the amount of shampoo nicked from hotels. It was 430,000 gallons in a year.

Why do they persist in using Imperial units.

It’s nearly 2,000,000 litres which sounds a lot better. Or 2,000 tonnes! With water 1,000 litres weighs a tonne. So much simpler! A tonne is nearly a ton!