James Miller


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fuel Taxes


What are people going to do when the fuel supply gets even shorter in the next few years and prices rise even more?

The writing has been on the wall for years and people should have taken action years ago. I still drive a lot, but my car does twice as many miles per gallon as the one I drove five years ago.

I’ve worked mainly from home since 1972 and in that time I’ve created two world class companies. Many companies can be organised so that employees work flexibly which saves fuel, but they still cling to old methods.

We must all change how we live our lives and I’m afraid it’s going to get worse before it gets a lot better. Those that change will have a much better life and those companies that don’t will fail and their employees will suffer greatly.

We can’t afford to ignore it and bleat on about high fuel prices.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Vehicle Excise Duty


This should be scrapped and replaced with a one-off ownership charge every time the vehicle is registered or changes hands.

Fuel duty however should be increased, so that we are encouraged to drive more fuel efficient cars. It would also mean that some of us would have decide to two vehicles; a small fuel-efficient car for everyday use and something perhaps larger or more special for occasional use.

I should declare an interest in that I own a fuel-efficient estate car and an immaculate eighteen year old Lotus Elan for sunny weather and special trips. It would be ridiculous if I had to pay a heavy road tax on a car like the Lotus which probably does about five hundred miles a year. Incidentally the Lotus is quite fuel efficient retuning nearly forty to the gallon, as the car is very light in weight, but it doesn’t have a catalytic convertor, so would probably be hammered by this so-called government.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rescued by the Indians


Breakfast was good in the hotel. I had a lot of fruit followed by scrambled eggs and some bacon. Nothing to upset me there at all. Incidentally, I've never eaten bread in the US after the first few times as it's crap. Well not crap! Very crap!

So I didn't spend too much time wondering about supper, as if breakfast was this good, then supper might be fine.

I had time to kill, so I walked down to the railway that links Pointe Claire into the city. Did I see any restaurants? Two! One called Le Manoir looked smart and promising and there was an Indian Takeaway called Sahib. So in an hour or so, I just saw two.

Coming back I checked a supermarket for gluten-free food. Here in Canada, it appears that you have to list every ingredient and give nutrional values, but you don't have to list the allergens. Pointless!

So I checked Le Manoir just in case. I didn't like it, so I knew it would have to be the hotel restaurant.

I asked the barman for the menu and he knew all about being a coeliac. Unfortunately, everything except a plain steak or a salad was out. I just didn't fancy either, so I went and saw if I could brave Le Manior. I couldn't.

So as a last resort I gave Sahib a chance.

I was rescued as the waiter assured me that everything was cooked properly with chickpea flour and I was treated to an excellent Chicken Jalfrezi. With a glass of wine the whole thing was twenty-one Canadian Dollars or just over ten pounds.

Not bad and they even had a replay of the Indian Premier League on the television. Great fun!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Here in the 51st State


I know Canadians get very angry when I say things like that, but here in the outskirts of Montreal, is there any difference to those of Houston, Detroit or Denver, except that the signage is in French.

I woke early to the noise of traffic on the Freeway and as there was thirty minutes or so before breakfast, I decided that a walk to stretch legs and blow away the dust of the flight would be a good idea. But of course no-one walks in the US, so it wasn't easy to find anywhere suitable. But at least I'll only be here for a few days.

I think now, that at nearly sixty-one I understand why I hated all those trips to the US with Metier in the 1970s and 80s. American Hotels, and this Holiday Inn, I'm staying in is the same, are generally soulless and you have to rely heavily on the car. You're trapped and I don't like that. I was of a generation brought up when kids could be truly free and do what they want.

America may claim it is the land of the free and it once was. But now it is trapped in its car society, that stiffles the life out of everybody and everything. Even here in this Business Centre in the hotel, I can still hear the traffic on the Freeway.

We must regain our freedom and soul.

Thursday, May 22, 2008



It appears that fans were ripped off.

When we went to see Ipswich in 2000, the day trip cost just over £300. This would be about £450 in today’s money.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Save the Post Office


Not likely! They are a waste of space. The large ones have queues to match and the small ones are a complete drain on precious resources.

I print all my postage from the excellent Royal Mail site and then hand the parcel to the postman. I get my vehicle excise duty on line and my pensions are paid directly into my bank. I’ve only gone into my local Post Office in the last couple of years, when I’ve an urgent parcel to post and it won’t fit into the letter box. They must love me as it’s already stamped.

What we must do is provide alternative services that work for those who can’t use other services. In rural areas, that probably means closing the offices and providing a mobile one on one or two days a week instead.

We have to get real about loss making services.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Travels With My Celia(c)


I'm writing a book called Travels with My Celia(c), which described some of the travelling that I did with Celia, both before and after my diagnosis with coeliac disease and her death.

This is an extract.

The Second Best Car in the World
May 12th, 2008

I say second best, as I’ll let you choose the best and you can argue amongst yourselves interminably.

In August 1990, Celia bought one of the last of the first series of the second Elan to be made by Lotus.

Celia already had a red one and as she liked that so much, she felt that as production was ending, to get a last one would see her in a nice car for a few years.

She loved that car and when she replaced it for daily use with an Audi A4 Avant, it found further use as the spare when our normal transport was being serviced or had broken down. Not that the latter happened often, but dear little K9WFF or Yellow Dog as she called it, just kept running.

She did about 70,000 miles driving between Chambers and Courts all over East Anglia and the only trouble she had was when a kid, cut the hood and stole the radio. But the new hood fitting superbly and it can still be raised and lowered quicker than any of those fancy ones you see nowadays.

For the last few days, I have had it back on the road and you realise what an amazing vehicle it is.

It still has the grunt and coupled with a light weight and superb handling, it can leave anything for dead. There’s the story of the nicked Sierra Cosworth that once had a go at me on the A66 in about 1992. And lost! And the driver got arrested! But...

It has an almost perfect use of space and coupled with wide doors, a lady can get in and out in a short skirt and maintain her decency. Drivers may rate an Elise better, but that car doesn’t have the everyday usability.

Lotus was always slated for the build quality of their cars. Drive it now and there is no rattle or shake and everything still fits as the day it was made.

And then to park it in the street with the top down is not to invite the theft of everything inside, but to receive admiring glances from everyone that passes.

One day, I’ll find a better car, but I’ve waited eighteen years so far!

Book Publishers are Bonkers


I have many friends who have real tales to tell, as they have risen to the top of their worthy professions and have received the acclaim of their peers, knighthoods, OBEs and awards that are a lot higher.

But can they get their memoirs published. No!

On the other hand any third rate politician with a knife to wield can not only get it published, but a lot of air time on the BBC.

No wonder when I go on holiday I read Nelkon and Parker. The plot’s better!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Letter to The Times


This appeared today.

Severn barrage needs bolder plans
Why not build an airport and industry while harnessing the power of the tide?

Sir, The proposal shown in your paper today is timid. We have an energy crisis, an energy storage crisis, a landfill crisis and an airport crisis in this country and I believe that if we use the resource of the River Severn properly, we can help to solve all of them. A proper solution would also mitigate the problems of flooding in the Severn Valley.

I have knowledge of the proposals put forward by Frederick Snow in the 1960s. He felt that a central spine with a high and a low lake would be the best solution. Turbines would run between the lakes and could provide power when required, but they would also be capable of pumping water back to store energy. In these days of wind turbines relying on winds that don’t always blow, this would be a sensible way of storing the energy from wind power and releasing it as required.

Snow proposed putting energy-based industries such as chlorine and hydrogen production on the spine — but his major proposal was to site a very large airport on it. Could it with proper engineering be built on landfill? After all, it does face in the direction of the prevailing winds and it would be several kilometres from any centre of population, so noise pollution would be reduced to a minimum. As Brunel designed the Great Western to be virtually straight for high-speed running, trains à la TGV could do the journey to London in well under an hour. We either dither or we formulate a bold vision of which Brunel would have been proud.

James Miller
Newmarket, Suffolk

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mortgage Arrears


My late wife was a family barrister and was always dealing with families, who through divorce or separation, had severe mortgage arrears and other debts, such as car loans.

She always advised clients to be honest, robust and early with banks and not ignore things until the last minute, when the lender had no choice but to take serious legal action. In many cases her methods resulted in a solution that was acceptable to both parties, because there was time to find that solution.

So whatever you do, if you have debt problems, act early.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Food Waste


My wife died in December and I now live alone.

I’m not a great cook, but I can do enough to feed myself adequately. I’m also that rare breed of man, who likes food shopping.

I try not to waste food, but often food is packaged for two and there is no loose alternative. As an example, I like strawberries and can never find a small pack. As there are probably millions of single households, could this almost be a ploy by supermarkets to make sure they sell more than is needed. I certainly throw away quite a bit of food, as I just can’t eat it.

On the other hand, I do have a lot of little freezer boxes to put the second chop or venison steak in the freezer.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Better Airport Parking


We've all dropped cars at airport car parks and then can't remember which bus stop we used. Was it L or B? Some people write the stop on the ticket but then a lot of us can't find a pen.

What is needed is a small ticket validator like you get on European buses to validate your ticket when you get on. It would be linked to a GPS system, it would know what the last stop was when you got on. So for a first part your ticket would be stamped with the bus stop.

But the stop would also be recorded on the ticket, so that when you returned from your trip, if you put the ticket in the reader, this would then inform the driver which stops were needed in the car park.

Hopefully, this would make the process more efficient.

Thursday, May 01, 2008



When Ipswich went to Moscow in 2001, we took 1500 supporters, many of whom like me went out and back in a day, so the hotel room problem may not be serious. But although they coped well at the airport with our small numbers, I doubt they’d be able to cope with over thirty times that many.

Incidentally, when we went the tour company organised all of the visas and gave us our passports back at Stansted when we left.

But my main worry is the Russian police. They were a badly-humoured bunch and I suspect they will not take good natured banter from fans very well. Let’s face it, Ipswich fans don’t have too much bad history, except possibly where Norwich are concerned.

At least Liverpool didn’t get through. And I say the latter as someone who went to Liverpool University and has a lot of affection for that team. The mix with Manchester United would have been too explosive.