Friday, 29 June 2012


The latest issues regarding certain banks rigging the Libor rate should not come as a shock to most people particularly in view of previous wrong-doing that has shaken our trust in the banking institutions. 

I know from personal experience of the type of things they get up to. At the time of my divorce from my first wife during the 1980s, amidst the turmoil that usually accompanies a marriage breakup there was however just one thing my ex-wife and myself did agree about. 

At that time I had an unsecured overdraft for my business account with Barclays that, as far as I was concerned had never been an issue either for the bank or myself. Suddenly, out of the blue I received a High Court writ from the bank demanding immediate repayment of the overdraft. There had been no previous discussion, no letter from the bank - just this unannounced writ. I telephoned Barclays London office to demand a reason for what I considered to be grossly underhanded tactics and was merely told that they wanted their money back. I won't repeat my reaction but let's just say I was more than a little angry by their attitude and their proposed court action. 

Subsequently my former wife and me were called to a meeting with a business manager at our local Barclays business centre whereupon we were pressured in an attempt to force us to agree to a second charge being placed on our matrimonial home. My ex-wife and I both refused to sign the charge papers that Barclays had already prepared because neither of deemed it necessary and, as it was, the overdraft was not for an overly large sum. However, under duress I agreed to convert this to a loan on a normal monthly repayment basis.
When it came to selling the matrimonial home following our divorce, we were confronted with a second charge on the property in favour of Barclays Bank. We both knew full well that we had never signed the second charge documents that Barclays had produced and advised our respective solicitors accordingly. My solicitor immediately wrote to Barclays with an allegation of fraud. This is exactly what it was because my former wife concurred with me that the signatures that appeared on the Barclays document were certainly not ours but had been copied from other documents by somebody in an attempt to make them look like ours. They weren't even very convincing forgeries!

When Barclays received the communication from my lawyers they responded by telephoning me. I was told by the caller, who refused to give his name, that he was speaking from the bank's head office. I was told in no uncertain terms that if I refused to withdraw the fraud allegation 'I would never work again'. I responded by asking whether I should take this threat as an indication that 'some personal harm would be done to me, or whether they intended somehow to put me out of business?'  The man responded by stating 'That will be for you to find out, if you refuse to withdraw your allegation'. I was left feeling totally stunned and from that day on I have never trusted the banks.

Sunday, 3 June 2012


I am grateful to my good friend Barrie Harding for his reflection on last night's England international.

The overall performance was better. But it was poor in Norway so the only way was up. Belgium are a good technical side but forty something in the world ranking because they cannot score goals. As they showed last night. Welbeck took his goal well but, as with the Young goal against Norway, it was pretty much a solo effort and not the result of good team play. And in both cases the defending was poor and certainly not up to the highest international standard England will face in the Euros. Other than that, Welbeck made no real impression even though Kompany wasn't playing. I like the look of Vertongen, even though he was playing out of position. Very calm and assured and left footed as a bonus. I hope Spurs buy him.

Defensively England coped well against a team that played in front of them and not around or behind them. And without a goal scoring forward Belgium had no outlet for their pretty football. Joe Hart still had as much to do as their keeper but mainly from long range.

Offensively it was only when Defoe came on and Belgium were a little more tired did we see any pressure play. With lesser teams  it is even more important that we maintain pressure on the opposition to get the goals and, while we can build that pressure, we cannot sustain it because our traditional game is based on bish-bash football. We lose the ball too easily and then have to wait to get it back and we suddenly find that pressure turned on us.

Roy is struggling to find the best team. He's not changing anything and that's understandable. He cannot make wholesale changes at this late stage but he can, at least, put players in positions where they are the most comfortable and the most effective. And so far he hasn't done that. Rooney is by far our best attacking weapon so don't have him chasing back to the half way line trying to get the ball back. If he wants to contribute then have him go wide, not deep, to put pressure on the other team. Put Gerard up just behind Rooney and let him make those runs beyond Rooney when he drags central defenders out left or right. Get Young wide, switching left and right as the attack builds to provide that width. With those three attacking the middle three can hold the midfield. Parker is now pretty much established and has good holding qualities but very limited in passing beyond twenty yards and usually sideways. With Barry injured but with two left sided full backs and the need to maintain balance he should play both. A creative playmaker is needed now but we don't have one.. Roy should resist using another wide player and is probably left with Milner to occupy (and that's all he does) the right side of midfield. This looks a very defensive team, and it can certainly play that way and be very solid right up to the last third of the pitch. It's here we have the problems - as most teams do. Scoring goals at the highest level is tough and England won't score many. We just need to score one more than the other side. So far we've done that in the two matches but, as I say, with individual efforts and not team play.