Is the Met. Office facing relegation ?

Snow at Heathrow

Is it possible that everything we do is dwarfed by the moods of the star that gives life to the world?  The Sun is incomparably vaster and more powerful than any work of man.

Well, folks, it’s tea-time on Sunday and for anyone involved in keeping people moving it has been a hell of a weekend.  Thousands have had their journeys wrecked, tens of thousands have been delayed getting away for Christmas; and for those Londoners who feel aggrieved by the performance of any part of our transport services, I can only say that we are doing our level best.

Almost the entire Tube system was running yesterday and we would have done even better if it had not been for a suicide on the Northern Line, and the temporary stoppage that these tragedies entail.  Of London’s 700 bus services, only 50 were on diversion, mainly in the hillier areas.  On Saturday, we managed to keep the West End plentifully supplied with customers, and retailers reported excellent takings on what is one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

We have kept the Transport for London road network open throughout all this.  We have about 90,000 tons of grit in stock, and the gritters were out all night to deal with this morning’s rush.  And yet we have to face the reality of the position across the country.

Continue reading Is the Met. Office facing relegation ?

On the existence of God

Does He exist ?  Do gods generally exist ?

This article is contributed by Pericles, not by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London ;  in particular it is not a reflexion of the Mayor’s view of the subject.  Let us therefore pray, having issued this disclaimer, that we not see headlines such as ‘Mayor confirms/denies existence of God’.  (Fret not, best beloved :  I might come up with the winner of the 13.45 to-morrow at Catterick but do not seriously expect to determine on these pages the question of the existence of God.)

The search for truth

Tony BlairChristopher HitchensAt the end of November, in Toronto, as part of the series of Munk Debates organized by the Aurea Foundation, former British Prime Minister and recent convert to Roman Catholicism Tony Blair and journalist and self-described anti-theist Christopher Hitchens wrestled with the motion ‘Be it resolved, religion is a force for good in the world’.

(Photo :  Mark Blinch/Reuters)

(If you’d like to hear the whole debate, follow the link at the foot of this article.) 

Their subject is really only tangential to ours but the debate (which included a session of questions from the Toronto audience) raises a relevant point :  the distinction between God (or gods) and religion.

Continue reading On the existence of God

Snooty Europhiles should eat dirt

The Bank of England
The continent is a collection of different languages and labour-market traditions and individual approaches to deficits and inflation. ... Angela Merkel is plainly facing significant unrest from a growing constituency who see no reason to pay ever more in their taxes to finance ... the periphery of Europe.

I think we deserve an apology.  By “we” I mean all the Euro-sceptics, Euro-pragmatists, Euro-realists and Euro-hysterics who were alarmed by some of the optimism that surrounded the birth of the single currency.  Do you remember the disdain with which we were treated?  We were told that we were boss-eyed Little Englanders.  They used to say we were a bunch of xenophobic, garlic-hating defenders of the pint and the yard and the good old bread-filled British banger.

Whenever we protested about any detail of the plan for monetary union, we were told that we were in danger of stopping the great European train, boat, bus, bicycle or whatever it was.  We were a blimpish embarrassment to our country, a bunch of idiot children who had to be shooshed while the grown-ups got on with their magnificent plans.

So it gives me a tingling pleasure to report that everywhere you look on the map of Europe we have been proved resoundingly and crushingly right. Continue reading Snooty Europhiles should eat dirt

FIFA is beyond our control

The trick of happiness is to know how to master your rage and turn it into something useful. I don’t know if there is some eastern sage who first said that, but it is the kind of thing that could easily be expanded into one of those airport-bookstall business management best sellers. You know the kind of thing. Lao Tsu and the Art of Useful Rage. I might have a crack at it myself. In chapter one we would discuss the concept of Useless Rage.

This is when you appear naked on the heath, after experiencing some cosmic injustice, and come up with all sorts of impractical ways of taking revenge.

Let me give you an example from the past few days. On Thursday afternoon I was standing in a conference hall in Zurich when I heard an elderly Swiss lawyer inform the world that football had been invented in China. My hackles rose. He then went on to say that it had been “developed” in Scotland, when we all know that it was begun and codified in London. By this stage I was fit to be tied. But when he announced that the World Cup was going to Russia and then Qatar, dashing English hopes of hosting the competition for at least 20 years, I am afraid I had a kind of seizure. Continue reading FIFA is beyond our control