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22 August, 2008  
London Calling

Despite dotty local councils Britain today is a place in the sun – even though it has been raining constantly since June. The Poms are delirious about beating the Aussies at the Olympics. John Coates doesn’t help

imageSome years ago The Launceston Examiner was reputed to have published an unfortunate misprint in the report of a murder trial.

The accused, an elderly lady, had murdered her husband and then attempted to dispose of the body by pushing it off a large bridge.

She claimed provocation, saying that her husband had demanded ‘anual’ sex.

A colleague’s father, not a lawyer, remarked that the dead man’s behaviour had been far from unreasonable.

In the same vein, from Scotland comes the story, of an unusual punishment meted out by Lord Matthews at the High Court in Glasgow.

Edward Flaherty, 74, strangled his wife Ina after 52 years of marriage, because she refused to give him money to go to the pub.

The accused had no recollection of dispatching his 69-year old wife.

imageThe jury heard that he had strangled her with a tie, but that because her arteries were blocked, only slight pressure could have seen her off.

Experts said Flaherty (pic) was suffering from dementia. The court concluded that a prison sentence would not last long because the prison would be unable to cope with the accused’s condition.

Lord Matthews decided that the best course would be to impose a one year restriction of liberty order, which would stop Flaherty from going to the pub.

* * *

Disturbing news from The Times that criminals regard the police station or the patrol car as an ideal place for rich pickings.

Since 2005 more than £s;1 million of police property has been half-inched, including stab-vests, police dogs and a police benevolent fund charity box.

imageBut the best theft was the disappearance in Dartford, Kent, of the police shrubbery.

Also in the news is Judge Roger Thomas who, like millions of others, suffered a delay in his train journey, but this time it was caused by the theft of metal from the railway line.

Reece Gardener, 41 (pic), from Stockport, Manchester, had the misfortune of appearing before Judge Thomas for nicking copper signal cabling and got three years for his troubles.

* * *


Must be versatile, firm, hard-working, persistent, good at record keeping and note taking, unquestioning, inexpensive, work exclusively for the law firm, able to gain access to the internet, speak several languages, calculate figures and costs estimates, able to contact supervisees at all times of the day and night either by email, SMS or phone, able to be seen and heard and toe the party line. Finally, the supervisor must be indestructible – like a cockroach.

Yes folks, it’s a BlackBerry.

* * *

This week the Tory-controlled Newark and Sherwood District Council sent letters to the homes of kids playing cricket, tennis and football in the street warning them they could be arrested and fined up to £s;100.

The North East Lincolnshire Council wrote to a lady selling cakes for charity in her front garden.

It told her that her success meant she was now a business and that she must take out a £s;5 million policy of insurance.

It has been one of the worst summers for years, raining almost daily since June.

The country is usually deserted in August as people head for the Med. This year the Brits are staying at home and smiling.

The reason is simple: they are beating Australia, and to a lesser extent Germany, in the Olympics.

The TV coverage is classy but hopelessly one-sided (as I expect it is in Australia) and the commentators are still coming out with things only a Brit could say: “Daniel Keatings came a creditable twentieth in the gymnastics”.

The Australian minister who boasted that the Aussies would beat the Poms in the medal tally is still looking foolish.

John Coates, who made the oafish crack about the soap, is simply reinforcing the stereotypical view of Australians here.

The press is having a field day slagging off the Aussies. Can you imagine Pakistanis or Iraqis getting the same treatment?

But the British success is deserved and is being attributed to the National Lottery, which is paid for by everyday people desperate for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

imageThe Olympians are also ordinary hard working people, but they have extraordinary gifts and are a far cry from the pampered oiks who populate the football teams.

The best Brit of them all is Sir Steve Redgrave (pic), who won gold at five Olympics and has been commentating about the rowing on TV.

He has shown all the old fashioned qualities we used to admire: moderation, technical skill, strength, coolness and a refusal to gloat.

Despite the rain and some loony councils, Britain today is a place in the sun.