Thursday, 25 December 2008

aaahh Christmas!

A time of good cheer where family, friends and colleagues gather together, eat, drink, get tipsy...

And discuss confidential information loudly in Very Public Places.

Last month I wrote about an incident involving the area manager of a well known high street retailer and an open window. Those of you who missed it can catch up <here>.

Well, it seems that the young lady on the receiving end of that rather unfortunate misunderstanding is in fact working with the company's security department to investigate significant losses relating to lottery scratch cards. Furthermore, the principle suspect in this investigation is none other that the real culprit responsible for the incident which led to last month's hullabaloo. A fact she is well aware of.

All of which suggests a rather different motive for her actions.

I’m reminded of an espionage case in the US where the mole’s handlers panicked and arranged for a message to be sent implicating someone else, thus proving conclusively that the Soviets knew that particular communications channel had been compromised and that the investigators were on the right track.

Oh Grandmother, what a big mouth you have.
Yes my dear, all the better to put my foot in it!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

It's just a mobile phone officer

Last Friday I wrote about the PRS attempting to extort money from yet another Dover business on the obviously specious grounds that their radio could be heard on an extremely busy road below.

Well it seems that my title implying the use of an artificial aid was rather closer to the truth that I realised.

I am indebted to a group of local amateur radio enthusiasts for drawing my attention to a formerly classified radio detection technique code-named "Rafter". Striped of the technical details, of which there was a considerable quantity - Thanks Guys - Rafter enables anyone with the proper equipment to detect an operating radio receiver at a distance and is the basis of the T.V. detector vans which once prowled our cities in large numbers.

The modern digital equivalent is a hand-held, portable device not much larger than an old style mobile phone and just as easily concealed. It is capable of detecting an operating radio or television receiver at up to twenty metres and can identify precisely which station - radio or T.V. - is being received.

Now all I need is for someone to email me a copy of the receipt and/or delivery note showing how many of these things the PRS have bought and where they got them from.

Friday, 12 December 2008

If you stand on the table and use these binoculars

If anyone needs further proof that the Performing Rights Society are running what amounts to an extortion racket then the case of a Dover business threatened with prosecution for having a radio on in a private office should be sufficient.

The PRS rep claimed that he could hear the music clearly as he passed underneath the open window. Quite apart from the rather dubious claim of an open window in this weather, anyone who knows London Road can testify it is often difficult to hear what the person standing next to you is saying, never mind music from an allegedly open window fifteen feet above the pavement.

Most of us are now familiar with the PRS’ increasingly bizarre interpretations of what constitutes a ‘Public Performance’, there’s certainly been enough media coverage of it recently. From a group of school children singing Christmas carols at a private function, to Kwik-Fit staff playing a radio too loud and a police canteen to which members of the public are rarely, if ever permitted access.

So what's next - my neighbour's summer barbecues? His son's birthday party? I'm fairly certain I will be able to 'hear the music clearly' from my side of the fence on both occasions.

Even more worrying, how long before we have to pay a license fee to listen to music in the privacy of our own homes? Will we have to switch it off before answering the door or pay an increased license fee because the caller can 'hear the music clearly' through the open door?

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Peter Mandelson

The Guardian published an interview with Peter Mandelson, now Lord Mandelson of Foy, on Saturday in which he suggests he was surprised to be invited back into the Cabinet in October.

Not half as surprised as some of us in the local party were I can assure you!

Getting caught taking a bribe to sidetrack an investigation – sorry, interest free loan from a friend who's business dealings were, by pure coincidence, under investigation by Mr Mandelson's department – is usually by itself quite sufficient to exclude one from the Cabinet, but Tony went ahead and re-appointed him anyway. Then our Peter got caught attempting to arrange a British passport for one of the Hinduja brothers who's involvement in the Bofors scandal was under investigation by the Indian government.

Being unable to re-appoint him to the Cabinet a second time, Tony sent him to Brussels as EU Trade Commissioner where, a mere five weeks later, he spent New Years Eve 2004 on the luxury yacht of Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft – which, by a strange coincidence, was the subject of a major EU investigation.

Does anyone else notice a pattern developing here?

So why did Gordo invite him back into the Cabinet? Who is under investigation and needs our Peter to rescue them from the consequences of their own greed and stupidity?

But then again, Gordo also appointed Ms. Waccy-Baccy to the post of Home Secretary despite her known 'eccentricities' which would, in anyone else, be referred to as 'Mental Health Issues'.

So perhaps the forthcoming list of businesses which should be rescued in the event of insolvency is simply that...

Friday, 28 November 2008

Well what did they expect?

I see from today's Times that Essex Man has once again demonstrated not only a complete disregard for the law but also common decency as well.

This is the case of Simon Cremer who tied up one of his employees and marched him through Witham town centre to the police station, with a hand-lettered sign bearing the word "thief" around his neck.

Mr Cremer and three members of his staff have been charged with false imprisonment.

Do you know who I am?

I saw a truly remarkable piece of ‘Street Theatre' in Canterbury yesterday afternoon.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was doing a ‘walkabout’ in the town centre during which he approached a woman with a small toddler and attempted to ‘lay hands’ on the child. The mother gently drew the child away from him and told him “Don’t you dare touch my child!”

The Archbishop drew himself up and arrogantly demanded “Do you know who I am?” to which the mother replied “Yes I do and don’t you dare touch my child!”

Then in an incredible display of arrogance and insensitivity he completely ignored the mother’s wishes and stepping forward, attempted once again to 'lay hands' on the child. The mother reacted to this by shoving a large travel buggy between him and the child to prevent him doing so, at which two of his bodyguards quickly hustled him away followed by the rest of his entourage.

Absolutely Priceless. His Eminence, the Archbishop of Canterbury behaving like a complete idiot in front of dozens of people. You simply couldn't make this stuff up.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

A Real Life Hotel from Hell

An old family friend was a member of a group who attended a 'Country and Western' themed short break at the Burston Hotel in Folkstone last weekend. They had been promised all the usual amenities including 'three fun-filled evenings of entertainment' which, on the face of it, sounds fairly reasonable even to a confirmed C&W-Phobe like myself.

To say that they were disappointed with their break is one hell of an understatement. In fact they're quite angry about the whole thing, describing it as an "Unmitigated Disaster" and a "Complete shambles". For some the phrase 'Bloody Furious' might be a far more accurate description of their mood.

Yes. I know. 'Holiday' brochures etc. But this is not simply a case of a glossy brochure overselling the event or the reality not matching up to expectations.

The first hint that 'all was not well' was the very poor condition of the corridor leading to the rooms. This had an ageing false ceiling with a number of tiles missing and many others cracked or broken. The only bright spot in this dismal passage was a new-ish looking carpet which one guest suggested would be more appropriate in a Las Vegas casino.

The rooms were also in a very poor condition. None of them had been cleaned properly, perhaps for weeks, while some did not appear to have been cleaned at all. One member of the group was eventually forced to scrub her own 'facilities' before she could use them. Housekeeping staff were apparently "Too busy" to deal with this within a reasonable time frame.

The dining room, while considerably cleaner, was only in a slightly better condition and resembled a self-service cafeteria of the kind now out of favour even with Public Sector Organisations.

The food was absolutely appalling. Cold, improperly cooked, etc. The fish and chips served on Friday evening appeared to have been prepared from the previous days leftovers with the batter oozing rancid oil over the plate. The chips were shrivelled, hard and completely inedible.

Even the entertainment fell far short with performers wearing traditional Hawaiian costume on Friday and Saturday evening. Yes, that's right. Grass Skirts etc. with Country and Western music. Can you imagine how ridiculous that looked?

To paraphrase Queen Victoria, the group were Not Amused!

Then on Sunday afternoon while waiting in reception, one member of the group observed the arrival of another guest who told the receptionist that he had seen two men "Trying car doors" in the hotel car park. Only to be informed that all vehicles were left at the owners risk while having his attention drawn to a small, discretely placed, 'No Liability' sign. It seems that he was not impressed by this callous disregard for the safety of guest's property and cancelling his reservation, promptly left the hotel in search of somewhere more congenial.

While he was undoubtedly the quickest to leave, he certainly wasn't the first as some of the 'C&W Weekenders' had already left on Saturday morning after the fiasco with the fish and chips. Others waited until Sunday morning in the vain hope that things would improve.

The fact the that entertainment on Sunday evening finally lived up to the promises was little consolation for a much anticipated weekend break which was thoroughly spoiled by bad accommodation and even worse food. The group were unable to give a clear picture of staff attitudes or behaviour as they were "Conspicuous by their absence".

A week later the group are still divided on what action to take with some in favour of legal action against both the tour operator and the hotel for "Misrepresentation and endangering their health".

Whether the latter refers to the general state of hygiene or the food is unclear...

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Bang! Aarrgh me foot!

The run-up to Christmas is a busy time for most retailers. Some of them will gradually extend their opening hours to cater for the pre-Christmas shoppers while others will wait until the last week, or even the last weekend before Christmas to take advantage of the last minute rush.

There is no doubt these extended opening hours are of mutual benefit to both retailers and busy shoppers, many of whom work long hours themselves.

Yet with just six weeks until Christmas the Dover branch of W. H. Smiths is reducing its weekend opening hours. This started last Sunday and further reductions, including shorter Saturday opening hours, are planned for three weeks time if this change is successful.

Which rather begs the question. What on earth will they be using to measure this success - A DIPSTICK?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Up Shit Creek

There have been quite a few stories in the media about the loss and/or leaking of confidential information over the past few months. Everything from a relatively innocuous list of customer names through sensitive personal and financial information to highly classified intelligence documents have been stolen, lost or simply left on a train.

However none of these have caused the same degree of panic in some circles, amusement and a certain amount of school-boyish sniggering in others, as the online publication of the British National Party's secret membership list.

The entire list, which contains nearly 13,000 names along with other sensitive information such as addresses and phone numbers, first appeared yesterday and was quickly removed following legal threats from the BNP. But as anyone with an I.Q. larger than their shoe size could have predicted, it soon popped up again on Wikileaks, the Pirate Bay and a multitude of other places.

Naturally this has not stopped the BNP from trying to suppress the leaked information despite the obvious futility of their efforts.

A brief wade through the sewer which passes for a discussion forum amongst these vermin - followed by a stiff drink to calm my nerves - turned up a number of comments suggesting that the leadership of the party might be at risk from some of their own members. However most of them are simply panicking over what will happen now they've been 'Outed', particularly those in 'proscribed' occupations.

I'm reminded of a cartoon which appeared in the Evening Standard many years ago. It showed the Guinness executives of the time in a leaky canoe drifting in the centre of a small river. The caption said "I'm sure we had a paddle here somewhere Ernest."

I suspect many of the BNP's membership may be feeling the same sense of despair this evening.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Toeing the Party Line

I was approached by a television news crew in the town centre yesterday afternoon. They wanted my opinion on the tragic death of Baby P. and naturally I 'Toed the Party Line'.

"Terrible Tragedy, blah, blah, blah."

Complete Nonsense of course apart from the first bit, but to say anything else risks far more than just expulsion from the party. Like so many other people with children I am not prepared to risk speaking out against Social Services for one simple reason.

Fear of Reprisals.

Anyone who thinks this view is itself nonsense or paranoia are invited to examine the case of Lisa Arthurworrey, a former Haringey Council social worker convicted of waging a prolonged campaign of harassment against a neighbour which included falsely accusing her of being involved in a pedophile ring.

Nor is this an isolated incident. Every year there are literally hundreds of complaints alledging harassment and threatening behaviour by social workers. Very few of these are ever upheld and even fewer get to court for exactly the same reason. Fear of Reprisals.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Microsoft's contribution to 'Rip-Off Britain'

Like most PC users my age I actually know very little about computers. I use mine for word-processing, email, research/web browsing and playing computer games on those rare occasions when I have some spare time.

So you can imagine my reaction when, after nearly three years with no more than the usual problems, it suddenly started claiming that I am running a pirated copy of Windows XP.

So I phoned Microsoft's customer support number only to be told by some egotistical twat based god-only-knows where, that this is because the 'Volume License Key' originally used to install the operating system has been blocked. Whatever the hell THAT means.

However if I can provide proof that this is a legitimate copy he will issue me with a new product key and guide me through the procedure to change it.

Ok. So how do I do that?

He needs the serial number from the windows installation CD.

After checking the material which came with the machine I inform him that I don't have a windows installation CD.

"Oh of course not!" He says. "It's got a Recovery Partition instead."

Erm... Ok. So what do I do now?

He then starts wittering on about something called a 'Genuine Advantage Kit' and what it's going to cost me.

Which is the point where I start to lose patience with him and try to point out, politely of course, that this was their mistake and I shouldn't have to pay for it.

He then informed me that he couldn't help any further and put the phone down on me !!!

Fortunately I have a friend who is a REAL computer technician - not some undereducated call-centre clown - who has agreed to come round this evening and fix it for me. I paid a lot of money for this PC and I'll be buggered if I'll pay Microsoft to fix a problem they caused.

This led me to wonder how many other honest PC owners are getting caught in the same trap and having to pay someone to rectify the problem for them?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

It's Official

Barack Obama will be the 44th President of the United States of America.

I must admit I hadn't expected him to win. To be honest I didn't think he could win, not with America rapidly sliding into a new Dark Age of bigotry and repression. Not only is he an 'African-American', a label not used much amongst the majority of white 'middle-class' Americans, he is also of 'mixed race' having a white mother and an 'African-American' father. Something which that particular demographic despises even more than 'African-Americans'.

But perhaps now with a Democrat occupying the White House we'll see an end to America's bloody ridiculous war on Islam.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Erm... Did you know the window was open?

Last week's Olympic Gold Medalist in the Leaping to Conclusions event is the area manager for a well known high street retailer who was seen, and heard, shouting abuse at a female member of staff on Friday morning.

It turns out that not only was the poor girl innocent of any wrongdoing, but had in fact been deliberately 'setup' by another member of staff. I suspect the consequences of this are going to be far more serious for the area manager than for the real culprit as this is not the first time she has 'crossed the line' in this fashion. It is certainly no coincidence that the previous manager of this particular branch was forced into early retirement by a stress induced heart-attack within three months of her being appointed to the post.

To behave like this in front of other staff was rather stupid to say the least. But to do it in front of an open window above the front entrance in full view and hearing of members of the public passing underneath...

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Town Councillor Chris Precious

I've been catching up on local news since I got back which includes reading up on the 'doings' of the Town Council and Councillor Chris Precious in particular. I must admit that I was one of the many who expressed some surprise that he had actually managed to win the election and some concern about how well he could do the job. I hasten to add that I did not, unlike certain other members of the local Labour Party, descend to somewhat personal and inappropriate remarks.

Well... It seems that we were all wrong about him. He's not only done a good job despite fierce opposition from both Conservative and Labour councillors, he's done a Very Good Job Indeed.

Time to apologise for those rather unfortunate remarks guys.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

DoverWatch - The Resurrection

It's been more than two years since DoverWatch was forced offline after I posted a video showing Dover District Council staff inhaling rather large quantities of Peruvian Marching Powder at a staff social event. Staff which are still in the paid employ of Dover District Council despite it having a well publicised and, allegedly, very strict anti-drugs policy at the time.

Well it seems that the problem is much larger than previously thought. So much larger that in order to avoid crippling essential services, the council was forced to adopt a more lenient Drugs and Alcohol policy earlier this year despite objections from some councillors who felt it was too lenient.

So, Zero Tolerance for Dover but not for Dover District Council and it's employees.

So what's prompted me to resurrect DoverWatch after so long? Well now... That would be getting back from a business trip to hear the news that the often sarcastic and sometimes unbelievably spiteful Viviane Revell had won the local election for the St Radigunds seat on the Town Council.

Ms Revell is also District Councillor for Maxton, Elms Vale and Priory ward where she sits on both the Licensing Committee and the Licensing Advisory Committee. Which, we are led to believe, takes up a considerable amount of her time as she works so very, very hard for Dover and it's residents.

So where on earth is she going to find the time to take care of her Town Council duties and much more importantly, which one is going to suffer in the inevitable event of a clash between Town Council and District Council?

I expected we're going to hear a lot of 'apologies for absence' from Ms Revell in the future.