Saturday, 4 December 2010


I remember watching aghast when the news came in that John Lennon had been murdered in cold blood outside his home at the Dakota Building on New York's fashionable West 72nd Street. This senseless taking of a life still remains vivid  in my mind as if the event had occurred more recently and it is a sign of getting old that I can recall what happened on the night of 7 December 1980 - 30 years ago. Had he lived, John Lennon would now have been 70-years of age.

Mark David Chapman, apparently for no reason at all except to gain some kind of warped notoriety pumped five bullets from a ,38 revolver into Lennon's back at around 10.50pm local time and the singer was pronounced dead on arrival at the Roosevelt Hospital at 11.07pm. Earlier in the eveing Lennon had autographed a copy of the Double Fantasy album for his killer. The world lost a talented, sensitive song writer - one of the 1960s great icons - perhaps the most popular of the Beatles and Yoko Ono became a widow. Chapman remains in an American jail having been denied parole several times. Finding the killer had been easy because Chapman had remained on the scene waiting for the arrival of the police. 

Lennon was cremated at the Ferncliff Cemetery, in Hartsdale, New York and Yoko scattered his ashes in Central Park.

Read The Guardian article on John Lennon
Read Ray Connolly's article on John Lennon

Monday, 29 November 2010


Although the nation may not be showing too many signs of progressing, the same cannot be said for my new book.

Following the success of ‘Imperial Airways: The Birth of the British Airline Industry 1914-1940′ published in October 2010 by Ian Allan, this time I have altered track to write about another of my interests; politics in a social history context. The new book currently has a working title BROKEN BRITAIN IN THE 21st CENTURY – The First Decade’ although this may subsequently change. The manuscript is well on the way to completion and I will soon be looking for an agent to assist me with finding a suitable publisher.

I have also launched a brand new Broken Britain blog to solicit comments on subjects readers may feel should be discussed in the book.  I do hope you will join me in discussing the major issues such as the NHS, the running of the railways, criminal justice, education, defence as well as some of the minor irritations that are affecting our lives.

Friday, 19 November 2010


At least David Cameron was quick to spot that he had made a classic error of judgement by hiring his 'private photographer' (see below) and has sent him packing back to the payroll of the Conservative party. No doubt he was 'advised' that he had been, shall we say, a little silly at a time when everyone else is being told to cut their expenditure. At least the photographer is free to take on other assignments - perhaps a Royal wedding?

It is comforting to see that the PM has seen the folly of his ways but more importantly he has been open enough to admit that he had made a mistake. Good on you Dave!

Monday, 15 November 2010


Aviation enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that the world’s last airworthy Avro Vulcan bomber (XH558) has received a further stay of execution after a solid response by supporters to an appeal for funding, The Vulcan to the Sky Trust reports that the success of their Winter appeal means they can now focus on developing commercial revenue streams to raise money so that keeping the aircraft flying will be less dependent on quarterly fund raising appeals.
Photo: The Chris Kennedy Collection
Only 136 of the iconic Vulcans were ever built and more than £7m has already been raised from donations to keep this amazing aircraft in the sky so that others might enjoy her awe-inspiring capabilities. But a constant flow of money is needed if this fantastic example of British military aviation history is to continue being enjoyed.

The Vulcan 558 Club was launched in May 1997 in response the public’s call to conserve the last Vulcan to be retired by the RAF.The mighty aircraft was very much a symbol of the Cold War and was one of three ‘V bombers’ designed to carry nuclear bombs to Russia had the Soviet Union launched an attack.Vulcan and the other two V bombers (Handley page Victor and Vickers Valiant) became a deterrent that probably helped prevent a 3rd global conflict. But in 1982 the Vulcan was used in anger for the only time when 7 missions were flown from Ascension Island to bomb the Argentines after they had invaded the Falkland Islands. The missions were supported by 13 Victor air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft on the longest-ever bombing mission until then that flew return sorties of nearly 8,000 miles (12,500km).

Friday, 5 November 2010


Prominent MPs certainly seem to have a knack of putting their feet firmly in the mire. While this might raise some public anger, it might even give some of us a rare cause to chuckle at their gross stupidity – but you know, the worst part is that they never seem to learn from any of this.

Brown’s monumental gaff when he called 66-year old widow Gillian Duffy a ‘bigot’ after spending some time having a perfectly reasonable conversation with the lady was unforgivable. That cost Brown dearly; and not only in terms of dear Mrs Duffy's vote. Yet, Harriett Harman seemed to have forgotten how her prime minister had exposed himself (in a non-literal sense) to reveal his character flaws when she referred to Danny Alexander, the Chief Treasury Secretary, as a ‘ginger rodent’ at the Scottish Labour Party Conference. Perhaps Harman considered it amusing to say: “Now, many of us in the Labour Party are conservationists – and we all love the red squirrel, but there is one ginger rodent which we never want to see again – Danny Alexander.” This was quite pathetic really.

But it was even more of a surprise when Prime Minister David Cameron appeared to have forgotten how we are all being expected to tighten our belts again amidst his promises for greater transparency and accountability when it was announced that his private photographer was being funded by us. The tale refers to a former Conservative Party employee, Andrew Parsons, once a Press Association photographer, who has been given a civil service post. In a rare moment of comedy, opposition leader Ed Milliband broke from his normal moribund quizzing of the PM to announce: “There’s good news for the Prime Minister – apparently he does a nice line in airbrushing” referring of course to the election campaign poster that showed Cameron as having been ‘touched up’.

Nothing much changes then in Parliament? It looks as if we are about to embark once more on the silly season when the opposition can do no better than to trade insults with the coalition. At least it helps fill the newspapers.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


We had the privilege of spending a night at a wonderful boutique hotel owned by Anthony and Peta Lloyd, a delightful couple. Set in 12 acres of well tended grounds in the Vale of White Horse, Oxfordshire at Kingston Bagpuize, the Fallowfields Country House Hotel is very close to Oxford and approximately 50 minutes from Heathrow. Fallowfields is the perfect venue for weddings, conferences, parties and is exceptional for short breaks for anyone who enjoys a cosy ambience, home comforts, quality service from hospitable staff and perhaps the most comfortable hotel beds you will find anywhere. The hotel is passionate about providing the best English produce, from the hotel farm or sourced locally whenever possible. Fallowfields own pigs, Dexter cattle, chickens and quail supply  much of what is eaten in the quintessential English restaurant is most of the seasonal produce is grown in the magnificent vegetable gardens and rare apple orchards. There is also an active falconry within the beautiful grounds. The cuisine is exceptionally fresh and creatively presented on slate plates; the wine list is particularly imaginative and individual, steering clear of the usual mass production vineyard labels that unfortunately permeate the lists of far too many hotels and restaurants. If you like to enjoy relaxing over a drink or three in front of an open log fire; prefer friendly informal family owned hotels to the impersonal chains, and feel the need to be pampered - then Fallowfields is definitely for you. I thoroughly recommend that you spend a few nights, visit the restaurant or pop in for afternoon tea. You will be pleasantly impressed by the experience.

Saturday, 30 October 2010


If like me, you were sickened by the recent Wayne Rooney debacle then you might like to consider my proposal for bringing some sanity back to the English game. Although I enjoy watching some of the continental talent that has enhanced our ailing game, the money that is now being coughed-up in wages and transfer fees for players, some of whom barely ever grace the field of play, has now extended beyond saturation point and has become obscene. Professional footballers in the top flight now compare with bankers for their selfish greed. I think it would be wonderful if we could put an end to this scandalous financial destruction of our national game to return to the standards of the past when footballers were admired for their talent, and not for the cars or their sexual conquests nor for the size of their bulging wallets.  
It says a great deal about the development of the game in our country that no English players have been included in the 23 short listed by FIFA as contenders to win the Ballon D’Or award. This should not surprise anyone because so little has been done to promote young English talent due to the dominance of foreign born players in the professional game. When it comes to senior English players; Rooney, Terry, Lampard, Walcott etc, although talented, rarely express their skills with the same consistency as Messi, Fabregas, Iniesta, Lahm, Xavi, Villa and dare I say, the precocious Ronaldo.Can anyone name more than one or two young English players that are likely to become world class? It is a crying shame because out their somewhere there will be players with the raw natural talent to succeed in the game if only the opportunities and resources were there to find and encourage them. If youngsters could be nurtured from the moment they start school, then we might be able, in time, to produce an English national side that could compete with the best. However before this can ever happen we must rid education of this misdirected belief that to be competitive is unhealthy and also find teachers that are qualified coaches. Perhaps this is the fundamental reason that Britain has ceased to be competitive in so many spheres, not just in sport?

Saturday, 23 October 2010


As a prelude to the book I am writing, I have posted a new blog to discuss the social and political issues of the Britain we live in today. The country has been dubbed 'Broken Britain' by the think tank Centre for Social Justice not without justification considering the changes in Britain's infrastructure that have occurred during the last decade.

Opinions are mixed. Whether you agree that Britain is broken or not more often than not will depend on individual circumstances. The poor generally will be on the 'front line' and most affected by cuts in social spending, inadequate housing, health issues and other factors, while the better off usually will be afforded protection from life's many injustices. But, we are all now in this together and none us can ignore the difficulties our country faces in the foreseeable future. One thing is certain; too many years of mismanagement, social neglect and personal greed must be addressed - and quickly.

My new book attempts to deal with the many social and political difficulties the Conservative-Lib Democrat alliance faces as they strive to make amends for the legacy of heavy debt the previous Labour administration created. Although they were guilty of a lot of things that have contributed towards the decline, not everything can be attributed to the former government. In the book I will be attempting to describe how mistakes and political events in previous centuries have, in part, contributed to the way our nation has evolved during the first decade of the 21st century.

I am hopeful that you will take an interest in this project and will visit my new blog and add your comments to inspire some lively debate. I am looking forward to your contributions.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


I often wonder how some companies manage to remain in business when they treat their customers so appallingly. Now, you would think that renewing a web domain name when it falls due would be a very basic procedure; and you would be right. But it is not as simple as you would think if you are a customer of 123.

When I was notified by automated mail from 123 that one of my domain names was due for renewal, as instructed, I logged in to the 123 site and attempted to access the control panel that SHOULD allow customers to process their renewals quickly and without fuss. But, after entering my password several times access was denied. I followed the instructions to change my password but all this returned was a page of error messages. I tried on several occasions over a period of days without success. I then searched the 123 website for a way to contact the company by email but this revealled nothing more than an automated page of standard questions and answers and as far as I could see, no mailing address is listed.

Saturday, 16 October 2010


Please read my new marketing book that I was commissiond to write on behalf of a c/lient to describe how to differentiate your business from others. Reproduced with kind permission of Growler.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


Wigan Athletic 3 Arsenal 2
After the midweek defeat at White Hart Lane had all but destroyed any slim hope of Arsenal pressuring Chelsea for the Premiership title, certainly no doubts remained after the visitors self-destructed at the DW Stadium this afternoon. Arsenal's injury torn side included 19-year old Craig Eastmond, a player not even officially listed as a member of the first team squad. The youngster defended well although Van Persie, was surprisingly left on the bench. When this season ends with the Arsenal trophy cabinet empty once more, some of Wenger's team selections are likely to be called into question. The Arsenal faithful who followed their team to Lancashire will be wondering why the Dutchman was not introduced until the closing minutes after he had contributed so much in so little time against Spurs. By then it was too late and Arsenal had cheaply thrown away a two goal lead to a resilient home side that was fighting for survival in the top flight. 

The flowing nature of the game promised to produce plenty of goals as both teams capitalised on the other's poor defensive work and misplaced passes. Wigan should have capitalised early after Fabrianski failed to intercept a ball that flew dangerously across his six yard box. The Pole, called in to replace Almunia who Arsenal claimed has a knee injury, lacked confidence and looked poor.This merely highlighted Wenger's need to buy a reliable 'keeper. Moments later Arsenal were awarded a free kick just beyond the Wigan penalty area. Clichy, who has scored only once, was an unlikely candidate to take the kick and the defender's effort went lifelessly into Kirkland's hands. The visitors had a worthy call for a penalty after a Wigan defender appeared to strike the ball with his hand but referee Lee Mason failed to react and Bendtner should have done better with a strange half volley that Kirkland and a defender jointly scrambled away.

Thursday, 15 April 2010


Arsenal went to White Hart Lane full of hope last night for the famous north London derby and should have been favourites to take all three points to dislodge Manchester United from second slot in the Premiership. But, the fixture failed to live up to expectations and Arsenal were sluggish and second rate to a Spurs side who were out to impress. Spurs had not beaten Arsenal for 10 years in a league fixture but they earned their just desert by robbing the visitors of any slim snippet of a chance to pressure Chelsea for the title. But Arsenal could have taken the lead in the opening minutes when Campbell, returning to the expected boos from the home supporters at his former hunting ground, had his effort blocked on the line by Benoit Assou-Ekotto. This was the closest Arsenal came to hitting the target during a first half that witnessed their usual precision passing falling short of the mark and by losing most of 50-50 challenges to a Spurs team that looked far more prepared for the challenge. 

Saturday, 9 January 2010


There is considerable concern over the number of innocent photographers; professional and amateur, that are being stopped and on occasions arrested, for innocently taking photographs in public places under anti-terrorism legislation. None so far has given any cause to suggest they had been doing anything illegal; most were white British citizens (a couple were Austrian tourists) who were photographing London city landscapes. But, police and support officers are starting to get heavy with photographers elsewhere in the country as well.