Trolling Wee Brave: Scottish Unionism at its Lowest

The shameful face of British Nationalism, which you *won’t* read about in the MSM, because (supposedly,) Unionists “don’t do that sort of thing”:

Random Public Journal

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By Jason Michael

DefiAye is in hospital today. She has been the victim of homelessness and ‘Austerity Britain.’ She has always known who was to blame, but the online BritNat trolls who hounded her are only now showing us how low they can go.

DefiAye, a brilliant young artist and a star of the independence movement, posted on Twitter yesterday: “I’m so sorry. I had to do it. I’m being accused of benefit fraud. I can’t live in this world as it is.” Within the hour her friend Simone called the Police. She was discovered at her home and rushed to hospital, where she is now recovering in intensive care. Those who know DefiAye and follow her on social media will know she has only recently gotten out of homelessness and into a house of her own, and that, as a sufferer of a chronic and debilitating illness, she…

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Welcome to Tory Britain

This. Exactly this; an honest, searing account of life in Tory UK:

Wee Ginger Dug

The alarm goes off and you drag yourself out of bed. Drudge, trudge, nursing a grudge against the alarm clock that rules you. You got through another sleepless night, tossing, turning, sitting upright at every sound at every creak at every voice in the distant night. The nightmare of fire burns in your mind. You open the blinds and the fire risk rubbish remains piled up against the side of your block. You’d reported it to the council and the woman in the housing office shrugged her austerity shoulders. We all have to tighten our belts said the Tory MP, as his party tightened its belt around the neck of the poor. We need to free up business he said, as he slashed through the regulations that keep us all safe. Chances for the rich to make more money are more important than the opportunity of the poor to rest…

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An open letter to Magrit Curran

WGD speaks for us all. Brilliantly written as ever. Totally encapsulates the betrayal many of us feel, and a determination that the Red Tories will be wiped out in Scotland.

Wee Ginger Dug

I wasn’t going to blog anything today, but I read in the Scotsman that Magrit Curran is to head a British Labour party commission which plans to visit the 10 areas of former British Labour support which returned a high Yes vote in order to discover why we turned our backs on Magrit’s beloved career ladder. British Labour is asking us to put our trust in them once again. They have no shame, they have learned nothing, and now they look to us for answers to a problem of their own making and expect us to solve it for them so they can get back to business as usual, so they can pretend that nothing has happened.

No doubt the commission will operate as British Labour always operates, behind closed doors and talking to no-one except those who have been pre-approved. It is a window dressing exercise, a sham with…

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“Bl***y Foreigners”

(Headline copyright The Daily Mail)

Post written Weds 13th May.

A passing acquaintance of mine, who’s had the pleasure/misfortune (delete as appropriate) to listen to me wax lyrical about the Pochards & the Grebes, came chasing after me in the street yesterday (when I really needed the distraction) – “Rob help me out. I’m sure I saw a parrot the other day, am I going mad, seeing things or what?” I’m happy to say that with my (very far from) encyclopaedic knowledge I was able to set his mind at ease.

The Ring-necked Parakeet (Psittacula krameri,) another non-native species, is far more exotic yet paradoxically more populous & widespread in the UK than the Red-crested Pochard, outnumbering them by something like 50-1 or thereabouts. As with all “alien” species, it is thought that the first birds in the wild were escapees from careless owners.

Parakeet

They did not waste any time in becoming feral, and the population grew exponentially, to the effect that there are now anything from 12-20 000 birds resident in the UK. Personally, I think that either by massive coincidence or good ol’ synchronicity, (or maybe there was some kind of Parakeet sleeper cell waiting for a sign…) hundreds of them escaped at the same time – how else to explain the sheer numbers?

They are to be found even in the inner city – while my local park falls within the sound of the Division Bell (rung in Parliament to call MPs to a vote) there is a small population; I had thought only 2 or 3 but the other day a flock of 7 flew over, and today I found a 2nd nesting hole (see last para. :-))

Peekaboo!

The further out of town you travel, the greater the number of birds to be found. Some good friends and I used to visit a park beside Sidcup Golf Course, where one day I counted at least 2 dozen. Of course it goes without saying that, as they are very vocal, the greater the number of birds the greater the noise. With their unmistakable “squawking screech” they are easy to identify, and impossible to ignore!

From what I had read online, their mating is both very noisy & rather agressive. From my own observations however, nothing could be further from the truth.

Their courtship ritual is really quite sweet, with the male spending a great deal of time preening the female before “getting down to business”:

Courting Keets

Whilst mating the male may (as with most, if not all, bird species) hold the female by the neck but, as the image below shows, that is not always the case:

MatingKeets

Afterwards of course, as with all creatures (homo sapiens included :-)) there is very little post-coital contact, not even so much as a cuddle!

I have had the privilege of witnessing these birds mate no fewer than 4 times this year which, given that they are natives of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and I’m a Jock living in south London, is pretty amazing! And now that I’ve identified 2 different nesting holes the chances are that I may well be on hand to see the fledglings emerge from at least one of them. In fact from what I saw today I think the bird in the 2nd nest may have already laid.

Watch this space…

Spot the Difference

(Written Sunday 12th May)

Lord, this no Internet access is killing me. Apart from a couple of hours in the library (which was spent checking my email – who knew that mail to my de-activated account would still be forwarded to my “temporary” gmail address?!) I haven’t been online for a week, and it’s driving me up the wall. Whatever did we do before T’Internet came along to waste countless hours of our lives on?

Of course it frees up time for other things, so I was going through some old images to clear a bit of space on my hard drive when I came across this shot from last September, which I had totally forgotten about:

PlainGrebe

Pretty nondescript don’t you think? At the time I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at, and something else (probably the heron, of which more another time) must’ve caught my eye – I can be very easily distracted sometimes – so never got round to checking. Of course I know now it was a young Great Crested Grebe

Nothing “great” to look at; not back then anyway. Fast forward a few months and have another look:

Check out that fancy hairdo!

Quite a difference I’m sure you’ll agree! Done up in all his finery he’s a totally different prospect. (Of course I’m being a little presumptuous here; there’s no way to tell the sexes apart as they’re identical.) He looked a little lonely for a while, then out of nowhere a partner appeared on the scene:

PairedGrebesWith the dearth of wildfowl around the lake recently – the harsh winter, late spring, and a lack of cover near the water are a big part of the problem – it looked like we weren’t going to see any chicks at all being born this year, so I was delighted to see the Grebes nest building, as they only do that for one reason!

NestingGrebes

I made a point of going down to check on them every day, just to keep an eye on things, which is how I know they always mate around the same time every day (around 6.15 – 6.45 pm if you’re wondering,) so I was distraught last Friday to see that the nest looked deserted, and there was no sign of the Grebes anywhere.

I was worried that, whatever had caused them to desert a nest they’d taken such care in building together, they had gone for good.

However come Saturday I saw that, rather than flying off, they had decided to move home and set up on the raft in the middle of the lake instead:

NewNest

They are nothing if not resourceful, and seem keen on recycling: on the Sunday morning (when I was up & out at 6 am) I saw that the male (sorry, being presumptuous again) was dismantling what was left of the old nest to build the new one.

On a side note, this yielded the following image:

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Bold as brass, and around the size of a (smallish) dinner plate, 2 terrapins basking in the early morning sun! I (almost) got a great shot of one of them coming up for air the other evening, but I was a tad too slow & ended up with a very bitty image of it just below the surface. Still, something else to keep an eye out for.

My big worry now is that the raft may not be the safest place to try to raise chicks; it gets very busy on there, especially with Herring Gulls, and I’m afraid the young may be predated on by some of the other birds. As it is, mum’s already having to tell the neighbours to keep the noise down!

NoisyNeighbours

As far as I can tell she hasn’t been off the nest in the last few days (at least not while I’ve been there) so fingers crossed she’s laid already. I really hope it all goes well for them.

A quick postscript:

When I was over at the lake today I was surprised to see the 2 male Red-crested Pochards together (although one didn’t seem too happy at being followed around everywhere!) and no sign of the female. Is it too much to hope she’s nested up somewhere to lay? That would be so cool.

Time to Refocus.

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Strange as the timing might seem (my phone & broadband get disconnected @ midnight [as far as I know]), I have decided that it’s time I used this blog for the reason I started it in the first place – to share with you some of the photos I’ve taken over the last year (well, not quite a year, but who’s counting?)

The first picture I’d like to share, while perhaps not one of my best, is nevertheless very special:

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Red-crested Pochards (Netta rufina)

When I first saw this beautiful pair (2 weeks ago) I was mesmerised by the male’s vivid colouring, and by how “soft” the female looked. Over time I’ve seen a few species that I didn’t recognise (although I’d perhaps seen them before without realising) and have had to look them up. From this limited research I could tell this pair were likely to be related to the common Pochard.

As soon as I got home I consulted my Collin’s Bird Guide – well, I say mine, it’s actually a library book that I just keep renewing! 🙂 – which told me it was a Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina). I was slightly puzzled by the distribution map, as it barely registered a hit in the UK. A quick bit of digging showed that it was not a red list species (ie it’s not in danger of becoming extinct in the very near future.)

I then had a look on http://www.rspb.org.uk/ (which I should’ve done in the first place!) When I looked at the distribution list on there I literally started shaking; there are only 29 breeding pairs (plus around 320 wintering birds) in the entire UK!

This sighting also made me a firm believer in synchronicity; I’d spent the entire day up in hospital having a bone scan, and was so fed up that I’d decided just to go home, rather than walk through the park to pick up the newspaper, which I normally do Monday to Friday. Still don’t know why I changed my mind, but boy am I glad I did!

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The following day of course I went back to see if they were still there (I’ve visited the park almost daily – including Christmas & New Year’s days – since it re-opened last year, but I had latterly spent my time shooting a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, as well as stalking some rather elusive Jays) and was glad to see they were.

Now, given that the previous day I had seen the Pochards for the very first time, what were the chances of catching this shot?:

DSCF7245Edit

Yep, not 24 hours after seeing these uncommon (if not exactly rare) ducks for the first time I managed to get a shot of them mating! Talk about luck.

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I have many more images I want to share but, given the broadband situation, I’ll only be posting every few days (although I might “cheat” and post 2 at a time…) I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I did taking them.

Aside

Birthday Wishes (aka Pipe Dreams)

As I have a not insignificant birthday coming up in less than a fortnight (and one that, twice in the last decade it looked likely I’d never see,) I thought I’d amuse myself by making a list of what I’d like to treat myself to, tempered by a wee dose of reality, ie what I’ll really buy. Consider it more an exercise in self-flaggelation than self-indulgence.

So without further ado, and to gales of laughter the length & breadth of the country (and beyond!) I give you:

The Wish List

Fujifilm Finepix SL 1000 camera – with a 16mp sensor, massive 24-1200 (50x) zoom & 10 frames/second continuous shooting, this really is THE camera nonpareil for an amateur photog like myself;

A reconditioned (cos who needs new?) desktop PC with a bit more than the 374Mb RAM & 40Gb hard-drive than this piece of sh*t I’m using (which crashes at least twice a day);

&/or a portable hard-drive (Damn you PC World for advertising a 1 Tb drive for £60!) cos the 500Gb is full:

A  broadband deal cheaper than B-bloody-T (gone any day now!);

A new DVD player, cos mine gave up the ghost many moons ago;

A bike so I can go shooting somewhere other than Burgess/Ruskin parks;

A “new” washing machine cos hand washing my skivvies is just too much of a chore:

Last, but not least, a new mattress for my futon, as I had to chuck the old one out.

Now for that dose of reality.

What I’ll really buy:

New boots (cos I’ve walked out of mine) & some cheap camo gear — but only if Southwark pay the £50 compo they owe me;

A packet of Haribo Tangfastics (cos why not?)

Eh, that’s it…

Ain’t real life a bitch?

Anyway folks, as I hurtle headlong towards this particular landmark day, think of me only this:

“Bloody Hell, he looks young for his age” 😛

To my family, Fb friends, Twitter & flickr followers

(I apologise in advance for some of the language below)

Dear all

Due to the increasingly dire financial situation I find myself in (fuck you very much ATOS/DWP/IDS/The ConDems) which is of course a consequence of the Tories idealogical desire to not so much dismantle as totally destroy the Welfare State (including the NHS,) with their feed the rich/fuck the poor policies, I am having to make more & more drastic decisions about what I can/can’t afford.

By far the biggest outlay beyond rent/electricity etc is the outrageous amount I pay BT for my broadband so, as early as tomorrow (actually later today) I will be cancelling my contract.

As a result of this my already sporadic online presence is set to become even rarer than usual, given that it will be restricted to library opening hours (unless one of my neighbours is daft enough to have unsecured wifi!)

This doesn’t mean that I’ll be disappearing altogether (though God forgive me it sometimes feels like the only option.) Not yet anyway.

In the meantime all my accounts (facebook, twitter, flickr & wordpress – the last 3 under the rabthecab nom de plume) will still be on the go, but obviously they’ll be updated even less frequently than at present. And, if anyone needs to email me I can be reached @ rabthecab@yahoo.com or the “temporary” (haha) account I set up several years ago, sherbitdab@gmail.com.

The FTT Appeal and “Minor Clerical Errors”.

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Below is a short post I started last Sunday ( 3rd Feb) but, due to my “butterfly mind” I have a tendency to be easily distrac…oh look, a squirrel!…sorry about that, but you see what I mean! A great deal of my time is taken up by a newly rekindled passion for photography so, by the time I returned to finish it on Tuesday evening (and until then unbeknown to me,) HMRC had been granted leave to appeal the FTT Decision, much as many people (including myself) had predicted it would.

(Given that this is the case, will the nay-sayers, the deniers & decriers now apologise for the abuse & opprobrium heaped upon our heads for daring to point this possibility out? I’m not holding my breath. Besides, they mostly appear to have gone very quiet all of a sudden.)
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It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice last week that things were slightly different down Ibrox way; 1st of all we had an unheard of silence (I know, I know) from Charles Green; when was the last time he “ran his mouth” (before this week anyway)?

0n top of this the mouth-music changed ever so slightly; we’re still hearing claims that “Rangers won the FTT” or, as a certain ex-journalist (no laughing at the back!) cum nouveau PR supremo put it, “Rangers are innocent.”. However there is an unspoken, almost imperceptible, not quite there yet acknowledgement that, as has been repeated a great many times by a great many voices (again including my own,) the FTT ruled that 5 of the sub-trusts examined were in fact liable for PAYE/NIC.

Of course the 5 ruled offside were, according to informed sources (what did I just say about not laughing!), no more than “a handful of administrative errors”, “a technical breach.” “a minor clerical error,” etc etc. But were they?

To understand these terms in context, we need look no further than the Spartans situation.

Many of us were labouring under the misapprehension that Spartans were thrown out of the Scottish Cup simply over a missing date but, thanks to Duplesis posting the original link (which can be found here: http://www.spartansfc.com/2011/11/10/sfa-hearing-outcome/) on Paul McConville’s always excellent blog, it soon became clear that it was slightly more complex. But only slightly.

For those who can’t be bothered clicking on the link, it can be summarised thus:

When Spartans sent off the registration documents for Keith McLeod there was indeed a form which hadn’t been dated properly. This, I’m sure you’ll agree, is the very definition of “minor clerical error.”

The documents were then returned by the SFA to be completed properly. However, while we may never know the reason why (and there has been intense speculation about it, understandable given historic events, as well as further speculation as to whether an SPL club would have received a courtesy phone call) Spartans didn’t receive the return letter so were unaware there was a problem.

This being the case, McLeod was played in the Scottish Cup match and, following an SFA disciplinary hearing it was decided that, because he wasn’t registered, this was a “technical breach,” and Spartans were subsequently expelled from the competition.

It should be noted that, following their expulsion Spartans, rather than spitting out the dummy, took full responsibility, accepted their punishment with good grace, wished Culter well in the Cup, and made a heartfelt & sincere apology to their fans. In short they acted with the utmost dignity throughout.

So, is this what happened at RFC? Did they really just make 5 “minor clerical errors”?

I am of the opinion that anyone who makes this claim is being either naïve or, for those who have access to all the relevant information, thoroughly disingenuous; they should have their eyelids taped open & be locked in a room with nothing more than a copy of the FTT Decision, specifically page 10 lines 30-39, until they fully comprehend the mechanics of how EBT “loans” were made.

Here’s the problem with their argument:

The Trust was (allegedly) arms-length; however “Rangers would indicate the name of a suggested beneficiary and the amount to be contributed to the Trust (originally managed by Equity Trust Jersey Ltd, who were later replaced by Trident Trust Company Ltd for having the gall to (shock horror!) question the validity of some of the “Loan” requests), with the suggestion that a sub-trust for that individual, or rather his family, be set up.”

The player would then “submit a Letter of Wishes in relation to the intended beneficiaries of the Trust capital, and a Loan Request.”

These loans were never refused, and after Trident taking over never even questioned.

The “loans” were therefore advanced to the player by the Trustees from the Trust account, not by RFC.

So the “minor clerical error” would need to consist of the RFC payroll manager, rather than writing a cheque from the wages & salary account as would be the norm, but instead for RFC/MIH to deposit funds in the Trust & instruct Trident, as detailed above. Not just once either, but regularly.

Just a mistake (or rather 5 at least) then? An administrative cock-up? As the greatest armchair cynic in television history would say, “Minor clerical error my arse!”

The Upper Tribunal should be fun, if God spares us that long!
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Of course since I finished writing the above we have had the Orlit/PR catastrophe, and the position at Ibrox has changed once again; the language used in their ill-advised official statements (or at least the 2nd, as this is as far as I’ve read to date) returning to the same old sabre-rattling, rabble-rousing belligerence as before.

I guess some things really do never change.

AN OPEN LETTER TO CAMPBELL OGILVIE & STEWART REGAN

Mr Ogilvie, you stated recently that “If I am asked I’ll resign” from the SFA.Well, on behalf of all right-minded fans of Scottish football I am asking you, please resign now, before you do any further damage.

 

You must surely by now see how untenable your position has become; Not only were you a Director of the former Rangers when EBT payments were being made & signed off accounts “In good faith” (thereby tacitly admitting that you did not scrutinise them at all, which may yet have legal ramifications) but you were also a recipient of an EBT payment in the sum of £93 000 when you left.

 

When Rangers’ dire financial straits became widely known the reaction was in the main total surprise; apparently no one had seen it coming. Why not? I know for a fact one person who had been saying for over a decade that this day would come: my father. Of course he couldn’t say when it might be, just that it most definitely would happen.

 

Let me explain: Between mid-1996 and April 2003 I was unable to visit my family in Glasgow, and was only an occasional reader of Scottish newspapers. I relied on TV/radio for the scores, and my dad for match reports & general football gossip.

 

I can’t remember exactly when he told me that Rangers would some time in the future come badly unstuck, probably around the time of the Tore Andre Flo signing. While he didn’t express it as such, his thinking boiled down to this simple inequation:

 

Big-name signings + concomitant high wages > gate receipts + sponsorship + prize money.

 

I mean absolutely no disrespect in any way to my dad, but if he (a welder by trade, not an accountant or mathematician) could see this so clearly, why couldn’t the mandarins charged with running Scottish football? I can only put this down to either negligence or wilful ignorance.

 

Now that the SPL Members have cast their vote & refused the transfer of RFC(IA)’s share to SEVCO (despite your & Mr Regan’s machinations) the spotlight falls again on the SFL. They have recently been subject to intimidation/bribery, to threats of losing the settlement payment & facing dire consequences if SEVCO are not parachuted into SFL Div.1, rather than having them apply for SFL membership along with other clubs who actually fit the criteria of having 3 years audited accounts etc (which SEVCO do not,) to fill the space that will be created in SFL Div.3.

 

As a former Director & shareholder in RFC(IA) you must see the huge conflict of interest inherent in your position & have nothing whatsoever to do with this process. You have done enough already.

 

Mr Regan, as well as your complicity in the above, in an interview which appeared in the Scotsman newspaper you made what can only be described as shocking comments about what will happen if SEVCO are not parachuted into SFL Div.1, and describe how Scottish football will suffer a “slow, lingering death”.

 

You then go on to say that, if they do not survive then “Without Rangers, there is social unrest and a big problem for Scottish society,” Apart from being akin to Enoch Powell’s infamous “Rivers of blood” speech, and surely as reprehensible, it is a disgraceful slur on all decent supporters of RFC(IA).

 

I have no idea whether you were too busy looking for new ways to subvert SFL rules (as you have already tried with SPL) to notice but, Newco/Oldco/history arguments aside, with the SPL’s rejection of the plan to allow RFC(IA)’s SPL share to pass to SEVCO, Rangers as a football team have now very much ceased to exist. I have not as yet heard of any riots going off in the Glasgow area. I don’t believe I will anytime soon.

 

With this outrageous & shameful diatribe you have lost any last shred of credibility you may have been clinging to and, as with Mr Ogilvie above, for the good of Scottish football it is time for you to go.

 

I look forward to an announcement in the very near future.