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.