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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Column, November 29, 2005

WINTER draws on (drum roll, cymbals, I thank you) and once again we are breathless with excitement as panto season is upon us.
Excuse me while I’m away to a darkened room with a bottle of whisky and a loaded revolver, I know what I have to do.
I know complaining about panto is akin to shooting Santa from his sleigh, or taking an axe to your Christmas tree, but it’s not all pantos I’m against, just modern panto.
I’m as keen as the next man on your traditional panto, who can complain about a thigh-slapping principal boy winning the heart of his true love. As long, that is, as the principal boy, is a girl.
That’s one of the problems with modern panto, they cast men in the role of principal boy, usually some outcast from a recently defunct boy band.
They can’t do this to panto, to have a boy kiss a girl in the final scene is against nature. In its traditional form it is the only moment in a panto that you can rely upon the dads in the audience paying any attention whatsoever.
But that’s not my main objection. My big problem with present-day panto is the tinkering with the plot and cast that the ‘writers’, for want of a better word, seem to feel they have a right to do.
Here are stories which can trace back their origins for centuries and now you get some jumped-up impresario who thinks he can improve on a plotline that has entertained millions.
They do this in a vain attempt to keep the adult audience engaged and in the foolish belief that it somehow makes panto ‘relevant’ to modern audiences.
And so my predictions for this year’s panto season are as follows:
· Some character somewhere will do a ‘yeah but, no, but’ line a la Vicky Pollard of Little Britain
· Another one will do a Ricky Gervais-style dance routine, thinking that it’s still current, and worse still, that it’s funny when someone other than Gervais does it
· Someone will use the line ‘Am I Bothered Though?’ to utter silence as the youth of the audience and the age of their parents leaves them blissfully unaware of Catherine Tate
· Were it not for the eagle-eyed lawyers protecting the Harry Potter brand he would be swooping on his broomstick into every panto in the land as all pretence of a traditional plot flew out of the window

Hilarious no?
No.
If you are one of those writers slaving over a last draft of your script save yourself the time, stick to the original plot and characters.
But then for many of the writers, tinkering with the plot is unavoidable because of the cast they have to accommodate.
And this brings me to the other affliction of modern-day panto.
Local radio DJs.
What it is that makes them think a few minutes of inconsequential twitter every day between the pop pap they play gives them any stage presence I’m not entirely sure, but there they are, top of the bill every Christmas.
And there’s so many of them, panto writers are left with no option other than to invent characters with daft names like Razzmatazz, just so local DJ Zak Moron can slap on the greasepaint and puff a little more hot air into his already over-inflated ego.
I have a little experience of these characters and my theory is that somewhere back along the evolutionary tree, just after we came down from the trees, one particularly vain set of monkeys started fiddling with a record deck and stopped developing around about there.
But, Lord help us, at least local DJs have a day job and there are only so many hours a day they can take to the stage.
But they are not the worst thing to appear on the panto stage, oh no, not by a long chalk.
That title belongs firmly to former reality TV contestants.
How did that happen? A bunch of people who have excelled at revealing just how nasty, brutish and thick they really are, get to entertain our kids at Christmas.
You may as well stand outside Walton Prison and wait for the next inmate out and give him a pixie suit and invite him into your home.
The only consolation is that when these buffoons fail in a third-rate theatre, with half an audience, on a rainy January night, perhaps it might just penetrate their numb skulls as to just how talentless they really are.

WHY all the howls of indignation at the prospect of an all-Wales police force?
There are lots of reasons why you need local accountability of your police service – individual communities will have differing crime problems that they will want to raise with local commanders.
But who has suggested that an all-Wales force would change that? You will still have local divisions with senior officers who are answerable to the communities they police.
One senior officer I was talking to about this last week was all for the idea because he was a detective involved in cracking serious crime.
As far as he was concerned the regionalisation could not come soon enough.
He explained that while there are plenty of officers who can pound the beat, ther are fewer detectives who have the mental resources and the experience to deal with serious crime like murder, rape, armed robbery and drug dealing.
Big regional forces, he said, would have access to more of those specialised resources to deal with serious crimes.
As for the rest of the objections, all I can see so far is petty North-South rivalries. It’s also true that an all-Wales force might involve fewer committees overseeing the force and perhaps that might explain some of the squeals of protest.

IT wasn’t long before I was set right by a supermarket worker after I blamed them (supermarkets, not their workers) for society’s ills last week.
One, Miss CJ, wrote in saying: “I have been working in Tesco for just over a year and a half now, I started off in the cafe and now I’m a semi-skilled baker earning £6.15 per hour, time and a half on a Sunday, plus on a bank holiday I’d get time and time and a half, which to me is a good wage.
“Prior to Tesco I was working in hotels earning around £4.50 an hour, no extra pay for working Sundays, bank holidays and Christmas time.
“I look back now and think how did I survive? The North Wales coast is an area in which a lot of jobs do pay the minimum wage, but thanks to Tesco I can take home a decent wage each month and gain more experience.
“I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels the same and could I just remind you that Tesco actually pay the most wage out of the supermarkets.
“I hope they do get to build a store in Prestatyn as this would help a lot of people who are on the minimum wage to gain more experience and have a better wage.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hello Sweden

Someone from Sweden, using the Bostaden-net ISP, has spent a staggering 3 hours 14 minutes here, apparently after searching for 'Banksy' and 'napalm' on Google.

That's three hours 14 minutes of your life you'll never get back, so perhaps it's time to meander to pastures new. But thanks for improving my visit length stats.

Column, November 22, 2005

ON hearing of a battle between Somerfield and Tesco for dominance of a North Wales town you might see little to choose between the contestants.
“A plague on both their houses,” the Shakespearian scholars among you might be tempted to say, if it were not such an appalling analogy.
The Montagues and Capulets at least gave birth to the beautiful couple of Romeo and Juliet.
Tesco and Somerfield cannot lay claim to such beautiful connections, the closest they got to beauty is three for one on the cosmetics aisle.
Instead of Shakespeare we have to look to pantomime for a more apt comparison – two ugly sisters, and they are fighting to win the heart of Prestatyn’s shoppers.
Tesco wants to build a grand store there, Somerfield didn’t want them to and lost a legal battle to stop them.
But Tesco’s plans have been delayed because they need some land owned by Somerfield if they are to proceed.
The dispute is grinding on like a Jarndyce and Jarndyce of planning applications and now Tesco wants the start date to be put back to 2007.
If I were living in Prestatyn I’d be backing Tesco all the way – put it back to 2007, no better still, all the way back to 2012, in fact, why not never come here at all?
Can anyone say that their life has been infinitely improved by the arrival of a supermarket on their doorstep?
I’ll accept that they bring a slew of jobs with them when they arrive in town. Set against that is the fact that the majority are relatively low-paid, low-skilled jobs. And you also have to weigh against them the numbers of jobs lost from shops that have to tighten their belts or close in the face of overwhelming competition.
A truly depressing statistic that came out this year was that one pound in every three that is spent at a supermarket is spent at Tesco. This accounts for the fact that they posted profits of £2bn this year.
“Every little helps” they claim on the advert. How would they know, there’s nothing little about them.
And I know that Tesco, Somerfield and the rest will claim to save you money,. But do they really?
Of course they’ll sell you a tin of beans for less that you would pay at the local shop, but who goes to a supermarket for just a tin of beans. More to the point, who goes to a supermarket for just a tin of beans and manages to come out with just a tin of beans.
They’re not really saving you money if you go in for a tin of beans, but come out with a tin of beans, a pair of jeans and two CDs that you didn’t really need but couldn’t resist at the price they were charging.
And another thing, those loyalty cards they make so much of are a marketing scam. They keep a record of each and every thing you buy and then they target you with more and more offers. Offers that will all, of course, save you money. Except for the money you use to buy them that is.
You might not mind so much if supermarkets just sold groceries, but now they sell you everything from nappies to pension plans – and the Co-Op will even sort out your funeral.
They are a malign influence killing our high streets and convincing us that all our needs can be catered for under one roof.
I haven’t got time to get into their effect on the price of food. But consider how expensive lamb is in supermarkets and how little farmers get paid for it at market. Somewhere in between someone is making a mint out of lamb, and sorry for the unpardonable pun.
Everyone supplying them has to dance to their tune whether it is farmers growing veg in Kenya, or raising sheep in Wales, if their product isn’t up to supermarket standard then they’re scuppered.
They are also a malign influence on the way we shop. Shopping was once a sociable experience, where a relationship was struck up between the shopper and the butcher, baker, fishmonger.
Supermarket shopping is a solitary almost hostile affair to be endured rather than enjoyed. A Saturday morning ordeal spent marching up and down soulless aisles which sell the same no matter which store you are in.
They recruit their celebrities to charm us in whether it’s Jamie Oliver, Prunella Scales or, God help us, Sharon Osbourne. I’m sorry, but just how demented do you have to be to decide where you’ll do your weekly shop on the basis of a recommendation from Ozzy’s missus?
Prestatyn’s economic well-being is depended on the arrival of Tesco, according to the town council. And that is the saddest comment of the lot, that the future of yet another Welsh community is dependent on it becoming yet another town, with yet another Tesco.

“JP” writes in with a few remarks about my column last week, in which I bemoaned plans to extend the national curriculum to newborn children and the headlong rush to shove them into nursery so parents could get back to work.

“My last job was working for the NHS and they had a scheme called Career Break, the employee could take a break for anything from six months to - it was either 5 or 10 years. Of course this would be without pay but the employee would be guaranteed a similar job when they decided to return to work. Out of approximately seven women with children only one took up the option.
“If you ask any woman working whether they would rather be at home looking after the children, the answer might be "yes" but if they are perfectly honest the answer would be "no". It's hard work being a housewife and mother and you can get very bored. A lot of the modern generation are aware of this and hand over the reins to the Grandparents. We haven't got Grandchildren at the moment but I would not want the responsibility of looking after a young child five days a week. Been there done that!
“The opportunities for women in the work place are manifold and quite rightly too. And in my own experience older women in the workplace are valued far more than in the past. That has got to be an improvement even if along the way hard decisions must be taken, it was ever thus.”

INSTEAD of entertaining knee-jerk calls for the return of the death penalty after the murder of PC Sharon Beshenivsky we should note the fact that we are still shocked by such events.
The killing of a police officer is still one of those crimes that causes us all to pause and mark the sacrifice that they make as an unarmed service.
We are still, predominantly, a peaceful people and the reintroduction of the death penalty brings back a barbarity that we did well to consign to history.
To start executing murderers again, no matter how judicially sanctioned, brings us one step closer to the level of those who killed PC Beshenivsky.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Column, November 15, 2005

“IT is a wise child that knows its own father, and an unusual one that unreservedly approves of him,” according to Mark Twain.
Precious little chance of approval nowadays, when it would seem we spend most of our time disapproving of anyone under the age of 20.
Society’s ills can be laid at the door of anyone who has not yet had a hand in shaping that society. As long as they are young, they can bear the blame.
Unsurprisingly then, Wales’ children’s commissioner, Peter Clarke, has said that the nation’s youth are a bit cheesed off at being blamed for everything.
UK politicians, Mr Clarke said, should be ashamed of the way they have conducted the anti-social behaviour debate, which has marginalized young people and made them feel they are a problem.
Young people, he said, felt they were not respected by the adult community. And quite right too, the day you’re respected by your elders is that day any teenage coolness evaporates in a puff of cheap aftershave and breath mints. If I were a teenager again, respect if not what I’d be looking for, bewilderment tinged with fear is the effect I’d be after, it’s much more rock’n’roll.
But is it entirely surprising that adults have so little respect for their juniors when they hardly know them at all.
We are reaping the results of a decision by successive governments that when it comes to bringing up children the state knows best.
Mum and Dad can, no, not can, must. Go back to work, slinging their newborns into whatever childcare they can find or afford.
Some of that childcare is, I’m sure, very, very good, where children are given lots of stimulation and learn to play with their little friends.
Some of it will be indifferent and some of it will be very bad. Unfortunately, you put children in these places when they are too young to tell you what a miserable time they are having. Then parents wonder, after such an atrocious start in life, why their children grow up with problems.
In these days when everyone has a right to a career come hell of high water it is rather unfashionable to point out that the best person to look after a child is that child’s parent. Furthermore, the latest research into the subject suggests that the best parent to look after a child is its mother.
Now, before you unsheathe your pens, I know, I know, I know there will be plenty of men out there who are just as nurturing as their female partners, but the research shows that as a whole, a baby responds better in its very early years to its mother.
That might be unfair, misogynistic, chauvinistic, or just plain offensive. Hard luck, it’s nature. You can tell me all you like how much a six-month-old loves being left in a nursery full of strangers – if it could talk it would tell you you can stick your nursery where you put the dirty nappies, hand me back to mum.
We are told that it is our choice whether we go back to work or stay home to look after our kids, but how many families can afford that? And how many men or women relish the ‘choice’ of going back to a battery farm call centre job just to make ends meet when they would rather be at home with their kids?
The fact that children thrive in the care of their parents is no great secret, studies have shown this time and time again, as has, well, evolution. Our primate forebears did not manage to descend from the trees by abandoning their offspring to the nearest ape.
So what does government do with this knowledge? Encourage both parents back into full time work by providing them with a range of childcare ‘options’, that’s what. Because they want as many of us in work as possible, all paying tax, a tiny bit of which they’ll hand back in the form of child care options.
The problem is that once you create a market for childcare options you find some are very good and some are awful.
And you can’t really blame the parents when you have made it economically impossible for one of them to stay at home and look after the children can you?
So that’s why, last week, we had the farce of a Labour government extending the national curriculum to 0-3 year olds. They are just trying to get a grip of the mess they’ve created in the first place.
They literally want a say in how your child develops from the moment its head crowns.
You do have to wonder whether there is any aspect of our lives that they do not feel at ease tinkering with? What happened to children just playing?
The age of three should be a time of untrammelled joy, not a time to be weighed in the balance by the government inspector.
Why they’ve stopped there I don’t know. Earlier and earlier is obviously the way forward, not back, and can it be very long before the Home Secretary announces the first in utero asbo for an unborn baby they know is going to be trouble?
I am hoping that Wales’ education minister Jane Davidson will treat this piece of Westminster tripe with the contempt it deserves and refuse to foist it upon the children of Wales.
I have to say though the noises she is making are not promising. Launching ‘Flying Start’ recently she enthused about free, ‘high-quality’ childcare for two-year-olds.
“International evidence has shown that supporting our children when they are very young gives them a better start in life and helps their development in the longer term.”
Quite what ‘support’ means I’m not sure, but I’m willing to bet it’s not support for a parent to stay at home.
And then after a lifetime in childcare and school, we wonder why the teenage rebel scaring the wits out of us is such a stranger. We used to scoff at the upper classes who dispatched their children to boarding school at the earliest age, and look at us now, we’re all at it.
But if you’ve endured one more surly episode from a truculent teenager and despair of ever understanding them, remember what else Mark Twain had to say on the matter: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Column, November 8, 2005

WHATEVER happened to Guy Fawkes?
Well, I know what happened to him, he was hung, drawn and quartered, a fate that would make gently roasting on a bonfire seem like a breeze. What I mean is whatever happened to guys?
Has the march of political correctness finally stormed the bastions of our national Catholic-baiting festival?
It’s just that I haven’t seen many of them recently. Time was that every year you could trot along to your local municipal display to see the original fall-guy burnt in effigy.
Happy that we had once again commemorated the knavish, Papist plot to blow up Parliament you could toddle home.
But suddenly it’s no longer Guy Fawkes’ Night is it. Now it’s just Bonfire Night and that’s all you get, a big bonfire, nothing else.
No overstuffed effigy sitting atop the motley collection of flotsam and jetsam whose head inevitable falls off when the first flames lick around his toes to the oohs and aahs of the crowd.
You can perhaps just about understand why your local council display has decided that burning a guy is as inflammatory as making the Satanic Verses compulsory reading in primary schools. So perhaps you can be charitable and forgive them their abandonment of tradition.
But now everyone’s at it. There were kids going round asking for a ‘penny for the guy’ last week – with no guy. Why not abandon all pretence of history and just say: “Give me money for fireworks.”
Even the village bonfire has abandoned its guy and was just a bonfire this year, not the recreation of the immolation of the nation’s most hated traitor.
But why? Everyone knows it was a set-up, Guy was just a patsy and it was orchestrated to foment anti-Catholic feeling.
If we burn a guy nowadays we’re doing it ironically aren’t we and no, we don’t really hate all Catholics and everything they stand for do we?
But I blame this abandonment of tradition for the two-month long expenditure of ordnance that follows what used to be Guy Fawkes’ Night.
There was a time when November 5th would be preceded by the occasional banger and then the whole lot would be expended in one glorious night filled with the smell of gunpowder.
After that Rover and Tiddles could be let out safe in the knowledge that high explosives would not illuminate the skies for another year.
Not now. Oh no. November 5th is just the first salvo in a display of rocketry that lasts until New Year’s Eve.
Either they are making more gunpowder nowadays or people have more money to send up in a puff of smoke because every evening is punctuated by explosions that would raise a few eyebrows in downtown Baghdad.
And while we’re about it can we have a word about people’s aim when they’re setting the damn things off?
There was a point on Saturday when the village bonfire resembled the closing scenes of Apocalypse Now. Banks Junior was fortunately too young to know the danger he was in as the incandescent phosphorus fell around us.
“Ears daddy, ears,” he said, complaining that my hands which had been hitherto protecting his delicate eardrums from the sound of the explosions, were now occupied carrying him out of No Man’s Land and to what we hoped would be a place of safety.
Can we return to the days when Bonfire Night meant just that – one night? Set off your fireworks now or keep them until next year. If you let off as much as a banger on November 6 you get locked up.
And if we’re not going to have a guy on the top of our bonfires can we at least have some acknowledgement of the historical significance of the day?
What about burning the Houses of Parliament in effigy? A neat reminder to its present occupants of what might have been.


IT is often said that barristers do not ask a question in court that they don’t already know the answer to.
The theory being they like to know where the questioning is going.
Perhaps AMs would do well to take a leaf from their book.
Conservative Mark Isherwood has asked for an independent review of AMs’ workload after remarks made by Peter Hain.
Be careful what you wish for Mr Isherwood, you just might get it.
As a soft-handed journalist I’ll cast no aspersions about workload, but voters might think that an AM’s workload compares very favourably to their own.
And come to think of it – you asked for the job and all you need to do is ask the voters to sack you if you don’t like it.


I’VE figured out why we lost to the All Blacks.
Too much singing.
Not in the game that is, you can never have enough while the match is on to raise the spirits and so on, and boy did they need raising on Saturday.
But all this singing at the start.
First you get the New Zealand national anthem, which is fair enough, then the Haka, which, again is part of the grand occasion.
I do think it’s got a bit testosterone-driven though. If you see archive footage of its origins it was no more threatening than a bout of pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
But I digress.
Then we get Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and there can be no more rousing sound than the massed choirs of the Wales fans singing that.
But then, instead of getting on with it when everyone is fired up, we have yet another song. Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer, led from the stands.
Just get on with it.
The great beauty of ‘Bread of Heaven’ as a rugby anthem is, like You’ll Never Walk Alone at the Kop, the way you just catch the first hints of the melody spontaneously starting in the crowd. Usually it’s when Wales are at their lowest ebb and need all the encouragement they can get.
Then gradually the rest of the crowd pick up the theme until it is being roared around the ground. Now that is inspiring.
They shot their bolt on Saturday before the match had even kicked off.
The next Six Nations looms, next time we should keep our powder dry until we need our best songs.

Banksy and Graffiti

Apologies to those of you who have arrived at this site expecting to find the graffiti artist who also goes by the name of Banksy.

I'm not him.

The little counter thingy in the bottom right tells me what people have searched for to get here and lots of them appear to be trying to find him, but instead they pitch up at the site of an intemperate, middle-aged Welsh hack.

The latest viewers looking for my namesake arrived here from the Kent Institute of Art and Design. I'm guessing that Welsh blather was not what they were looking for, which might explain the 0 seconds they spent here.

Anyway, I'm sorry, but I'm older than him, and Banksy was my nickname first, so the site's name stays.

Oh, and I thought his stuff on the wall in Israel was very good.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Column, November 1, 2005

IT is a good job that we have someone as hard-faced as Dr John Reid as defence secretary.
Only he could claim high employment was the real reason that army recruitment was at an all-time low and that the ongoing scandal of Deepcut barracks and a highly unpopular and vicious war in Iraq were mere sideshows.
Still, at least he couldn’t keep his face that straight and had to admit that the deaths of four young recruits, including Cheryl James, of Llangollen might have something to do with the fact that the infantry is now 1,859 men under strength and the Territorial Army was 6,000 below target and at its lowest point since it was founded in 1907.
Dr Reid may well have the figures at his fingertips, but I’m guessing that between 1907 and now there were other times of high employment, and yet it is now that the forces are struggling so badly.
And is it that much of a surprise? No-one joins the Army thinking they might not have to get involved in a fight. The British Army has not stood by idle when there is fighting to be done and has thrown itself, with the exception of Suez, pretty successfully into everything that has been asked of it since the Second World War.
Even in retreat the British Army has covered itself in glory, witness the renaming of an unknown hill in Korea after the ‘Glorious’ Gloucester Regiment who withstood the might of the Chinese Army, fighting to the last bullet an when the bullets had run out making do with fists.
Whether it is putting a stop to the brutality of drug-crazed militias in Sierra Leone or winning back the Falklands from a murderous military dictatorship, there has been nothing beyond the capabilities of our armed forces.
Which is why Deepcut should have been taken more seriously from the very beginning.
It is a stain on the good name of the British Army. Something was rotten at the heart of that establishment. Something that should have been cut out with the efficiency for which the army is so famous.
It was not and now it has become a festering wound. A blot on the roll of honour otherwise occupied by men and women who have given their lives for this country.
But let’s not pretend that the Army is a bed of roses, it’s a tough life. The men and women who join need to train hard so that when they go into battle they are as well prepared as they can possibly be. They need to be able to look after themselves, their mates and what’s more they need to get the job done.
It’s the Army’s job to train them up to do just that. That is going to involve a regime which toughens them up, gets them used to physical and mental exertion and yes, sometimes, discomfort and pain.
Some people can cope with the demands of being a soldier, some cannot. It is the Army’s job to find those who can and make them into good soldiers. It is also the Army’s job to find those who cannot cope and train them so they can, or else come to a parting of the ways in an honourable manner.
It is not the Army’s job to bully people who are barely more than children.
Next week we will mark Remembrance Day and the Remembrance Sunday when we pay our respects to those who gave their lives so that we would be free.
Do you think that they died on some foreign field so that 60 years later some bully boys in training barracks could drive young recruits to such a point of despair that they took their own lives?
Do you think that they would think their memory is being well-served by the Army in which they served?
I think they would be ashamed.
And I wonder whether they would allow their children or grandchildren to enlist in an Army that, at Deepcut, seems to have forgotten the traditions and values it has defended for so long.
I think they would tell them to do anything other that join an Army that had sullied its name.
Unless and until the Government ends the scandal of Deepcut Barracks by having an independent public inquiry then Dr John Reid does not deserve one single recruit more.


THE thing with brainstorming sessions is that their success, or otherwise, rather depends on the brains that are being stormed.
If the storms are not illuminated by flashes of lightning brilliance, and instead you get a lot of drizzle and murk, then its unlikely that such sessions will produced anything of any value.
No great surprise then that the product of the government’s latest brainstorming is to tackle the all-pervading evil that is alcohol on trains.
Something must be done, they say, after a meeting chaired by Tony Blair, which came up with 40 bright (as in cheap, 40-watt bulb) ideas to tackle anti-social behaviour.
Now, as someone who travels by rail every day, I have to say that the worst drink-related incident I have seen so far was four squaddies burping their way to the town that was home of their barracks. The language was a little fruity too, but otherwise we managed to survive the journey.
Once again a government that has run out of ideas comes up with something that penalises the many for the offences of a very, very few.
This is an example of a brainstorming session that has just got out of hand. They’re tackling a problem that simply doesn’t exist.
And they also fail to see the fairly obvious irony in banning drinking on trains while creating a Wild West free-for-all on the high street.
So you can drink 24 hours a day in a pub, but you can’t get a beer or a glass of wine on a train.
Makes a lot of sense doesn’t it? No. Welcome to government by New Labour. It’s back-of-a-fag-packet policy-making, or it would be if they hadn’t banned smoking.
They’re quite happy to see teenagers tanked up on alco-pops making our city centres a no-go area, but they want the railways to be a temperance zone, take the pledge as you buy your cheap day-return.
Because, of course, no-one intent on getting tanked up will think of doing so in the plethora of bars that have sprung up on every major station concourse in the country will they?
And just how are they going to police this anyway – search your bags and sniff every drink container on the way onto the train?
I don’t know what is more depressing about all of this – that there seems to be no-one in a once great party who has the courage to stand up to the intellectual pygmies in command, or that the Tories in the face of such idiocy still have not managed to put together a credible opposition.