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10 September, 2008  
London Calling

And did the countenance divine shine forth upon our clouded hills? ... Leverhulme, along with Jeremy Clarkson, asks what in the hell has happened to the green and pleasant Albion?

imageMost of the legal system has been on vacation this month, and good law stories are thin on the ground.

A young mother found herself cleared by a beak or two on a charge of littering.

Sarah Davies dropped a bit of pastry from her sausage roll while giving it to her four-year-old.

Two enforcement officers from Hull City council swooped on the criminal but then so did a few pigeons and the evidence quickly disappeared.

It didn’t stop them charging her though.

In more news, another mum called Marks & Spencer to tell them the Superman suit her seven year old had received for his birthday was missing a belt.

She was told that the Data Protection Act prevented the store from speaking to anyone other than her son, and they needed his permission before she could speak on his behalf.

Debbie Lamb, 30, said:

“It’s madness really. Jacob was very confused. He doesn’t get many phone calls and nobody had ever asked for his postcode before. It’s never featured in his little world.”

* * *

imageSir Ian Blair (pic), the painfully politically correct Metropolitan Police Commissioner, was formally issued with a race claim by his Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur.

He’s also awaiting the result of another punt by Commander Shabir Hussain, whose beef (if that’s the right word) is that he was passed over for promotion four times in favour of an alleged “golden circle of white officers”.

The ridiculous “eye of the beholder” definition of racism, that “a racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person” was laid down by the judge in a report on the Stephen Lawrence murder.

To use the Dentist’s word, it was warmly “embraced” by Sir Ian.

Now it appears that it may have bitten him on the bum.

* * *

imageThe overwhelming feeling these days is that no-one takes responsibility for anything and no-one cares.

In a cracking article in The Sun this weekend, Jeremy Clarkson (pic) is excoriating about modern-day Britain. We accept poor service as normal he says …

“same as we accept late trains, jammed roads, useless banks, a baffling tax system and schools where the kids have to be fat to prevent the knife wounds from reaching any major organ.”

* * *

I took a trip to Leeds Bradford Airport yesterday.

I didn’t go for pleasure. It’s a grubby, unfriendly place and there are scuff marks on the walls. I suppose you could call it a microcosm of modern Britain.

I left home at 7am and was back in my house by 2pm. I had intended to be in Dublin by then.

The aerodrome was heaving with English holidaymakers heading for exotic places like Ibiza and Amsterdam.

At 8:30 in the morning, and excited to be going on their well-earned hols, a large slab (and that’s the right word for it) of the crowd were downing pints of Stella, which is affectionately known in these parts as “wife beater”.

I should have known there would be problems because the airport was shrouded in fog.

At the check-in desk a rather camp young lad with teeth braces declared my non-European passport, which gets more use than a Kevin Rudd cliché, to be a forgery.

This was soon cleared up by his colleague, who thankfully was over the age of 20. The boy told me there would be no seat allocation because the boarding process is a “free for all”.

I bought some breakfast which was served by a gnome of a man with thick glasses and a thin beard who unfortunately had the voice of a five-year-old girl.

imageGoing through security meant removing our belts, shoes, false teeth and titanium hips.

To my delight I heard one middle-aged woman whose bag was being searched say indignantly in a broad Yorkshire accent, “Nobody said we couldn’t take hot drinks in our hand luggage!”

It was announced that our Ryanair flight to Dublin was delayed by 30 minutes but almost instantly a sign appeared on the screen telling us to board at gate 5.

A hundred or so of us scurried upstairs to queue and wait.

During the next hour we heard various announcements, including one that passengers to Aberdeen would now have to catch a bus to the Humberside airport – 80 miles away.

Slowly, almost hesitantly, my queue then began to disintegrate. A woman appeared and said, shrugging her shoulders, “Go to gate 9”.

Like the crowd in Life of Brian who thought Jesus was saying “Blessed are the cheese makers”, the word went round that our plane had gone to Liverpool, some 75 miles away, and that we would have to wait for a bus.

Half-an-hour later, with passengers in a state of utter confusion, it was announced that the flight had been cancelled.

We were told that if we wanted to collect our baggage we would have to go through the international arrivals gate and register with passport control.

The “Welcome to England” immigration officer eyed my passport suspiciously and asked, “Where have you flown from?”

She didn’t like it when I said, “Upstairs”.

* * *

imageTriple cycling gold medal winner Chris Hoy (seen here) was asked at a press conference:

“In the last 24-hours everyone has been offering an opinion on Chris Hoy. But what does Chris Hoy think of Chris Hoy?”

Hoy: “Chris Hoy thinks that the day Chris Hoy refers to himself in the third person is the day Chris Hoy disappears up his own arse”.