National Deep Rummage Team, guard owls, reducing travel delays, America discovered by Columbus

2 September 2018

What a state British politics has got itself into:  the government has left its goal unguarded for months and the opposition hasn’t yet managed to score even one goal*.  Instead, they’ve been arguing over whether their leader is or isn’t anti-semitic.  Sadly for Jeremy Corbyn, it looks as if it no longer matters whether he actually is anti-Jewish or anti-Israel or even whether his socks match, the only honourable thing he can do is step down and let somebody else have a go at pulling his party together again before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, his oppo was busy trying to dance in Nigeria, making it absolutely clear that there is something she’s worse at than holding her own party together but, to give credit where it’s due, at least she tried (an encouragingly common reaction this week to her efforts).

I was also delighted to learn this week that the seaborne division of the UK Border Force, which consists of 5 ships and 4 smaller coastal vessels that assiduously patrol all 7,000 miles of our coastline to stop illegal immigrants and substances reaching dry land, has a team that specialises in searching suspicious traffic;  it’s called the National Deep Rummage Team.  Lovely!

And, in Liverpool, there are reputed to be drug dealers who use eagle owls for protection rather than dogs so, if you’re likely to have a barney with one of them, take a kitten.

Other news includes plane journeys taking longer than they did a decade ago according to a report that claims the change is because airlines “pad” their schedules to create the impression passengers are reaching their destinations on time.  Anybody remember John Major?  One of his clever wheezes in the 80s was to fine train operators whose trains arrived late and the train operators’ response was entirely predictable:  they added several minutes to the actual journey time so fewer trains were ‘late’.

Incidentally, if you look at the Trainline website, you will see that the distance between Kings Cross and Finsbury Park is 2 miles and the fastest journey time is 1 minute (doubters can check this on  This assumes an average speed over the 2 uphill miles of 120 mph from a standing start at Kings Cross to a standing stop at Finsbury Park.  I think I’ve been underestimating the developments in rail services since I last commuted down that line.

Anyway, the airlines are now catching up and an investigation by ‘Which?” shows that carriers are adding up to 30 minutes to flight schedules.  This increases their chances of landing before the advertised time so they are less likely to be liable for compensation payouts.

The investigation compared average flight times for 125 routes operated by large airlines in 2009 with last year and found that 61% of 76 routes were now scheduled to take longer.  The worst offenders were British Airways with 87% of their flights slower, Ryanair with 82%, Virgin Atlantic with 75% and EasyJet with 62%.  Doesn’t it make you proud to see how much effort big business puts into avoiding compensating their customers for lousy service?

And finally, a plea to any gardening expert.  Our new plum tree (3-4 years old) produced a wonderful crop last year but only one branch fruited this year and no, it wasn’t bullfinches eating the buds on all but one branch.  Anybody know what we should do about this please?



*          please note:  a sporting metaphor, unusual for me, though you will of course have realised I’m referring to lacrosse, a game that has its roots in some traditional religious or spiritual ceremonies of the Iroquois**

**        the Iroquois are one of the Native American peoples who are now taught by immigrants that America was discovered by Columbus***

***      whereas we all know the Vikings got there first

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