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Trade deals by Philip Smith

I keep hearing folk arguing about the difference between 'a Customs Union' and 'a Free Trade Area' and the impact of one or t'other on prices.

Customs Union
Countries which are members of a Customs Union usually increase prices for their citizens, by adding the same taxes as one another to the prices of most goods imported into member countries, from non member countries.

A Customs Union tends to be a price increasing, and therefore trade SUPPRESSING, policy adopted in relation to the outside world, by members of that Union.

Outside the European Customs Union, the question as to whether or not imports are taxed would be decided in London, and subject to our democratic processes.

Outside the European Customs Union, Britain could import food (or anything else) from anywhere in the world, INCLUDING European countries, WITHOUT imposing taxes.

Untaxed food (or anything else) is cheaper than when it is taxed.

Free Trade Area
Countries which are members of a Free Trade Area keep prices down (not up), by NOT imposing taxes on goods imported / exported between members.

A Free Trade Area is a PRICE SUPRESSING, and therefore TRADE PROMOTING, policy adopted by members of the Free Trade Area, towards one another.

Britain's decision
Get OUT of the EU Customs Union, to decrease prices and promote trading with the wider world.

Arrange Free Trade with ALL European countries, whether or not they are members of the the EU. This will keep prices down.

Trade deals with the rest of the world, negotiated by London.

World Trade Organisation trading arrangements with other countries, until trade deals are set up.

Project Fear
What is there to be afraid of?


The Season of 'I Think We Could maybe' beginneth - by Philip Smith

"I think we could maybe put up fence posts along ... ".

Everyone knows rings get put on fingers, but in the case of men and other domesticated creatures, the rings get put through their noses.

It makes them easier to handle, you see!

Lugging fence posts from B&Q, I must have looked like that man who'd been told,

"If you come home pissed after midnight again, I'll crucify you!"

I'd have been living that poor man's nightmare.

Of course, I wasn't gonna be punished after carrying lengths of wood through the streets. I was gonna be worked.

It's twenty years since I last sank a fence post. I'd no big mallet and a sledgehammer was available at a mate's house, miles away.

Wanting to get the job behind me, I used half a flagstone as a hammer. The posts sank into the ground to the rhythm of ten whacks, then a very short breather, then ten whacks more.

The posts were 'in' and firmly so, but I thought I'd whackem summore. Ten whacks each. I managed four whacks on the final post, when my hitherto sturdy half flagstone decided to have a breakdown and become Mr Victim. It suddenly became not a half flag, but two ill shaped stones, one in each of my hands. They slipped away and fell to left and right.

The demise of my flagstone meant the end the 'I think we could appen' portion of the day. That Ring Through The Nose Feeling evaporated. I slipped my lead and scarpered pubwards and it was Grand (National).

I suppose the commencement of, "The Season of 'I Think We Could maybe' " is just as much a part of the English calendar as the Grand National, Boat Race and Cup Finals.

We mustn't moan! The Year is coming alive.


Navigation Square by Philip Smith

The newly pedestrianised area at Archway, at the bottom of Highgate Hill, has been named, "Navigation Square", in memory of the Irish navvies who built the canals and railways of Britain.

I fear we're being sold a fantasy.

Were the navvies of the C19th and earlier mostly Irish? I think not!

Navigating, in the sense of making making navigable stretches of water, started early. The Exeter Ship Canal was built in the time of the first Elizabeth. Irish workers back then? I doubt it.

The Weaver Navigation was built early in the reign of George 1. Locals again.
In the two canal booms, later in that century the labour seems to have been taken from the deep pool of sturdy local farm labourers, who welcomed better wages and a chance to escape the near servitude of rustic life.

The building of railways started in places like Northumberland, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, South Wales and Cornwall. The necessary skilled labour was developed locally, at the pace the technology developed, on local lines.

The really heavy rock and muck shifting work required people trained-up. It's said it took a year for an English farm labourer to acquire the strength and techniques required from fully competent railway navvies.

The teams of navvies (they had names) started from where railways came from and radiated outwards. Newcomers were seldom welcome. If they were lucky, they might be taken-on to cook and brew tea.

Anyone turning up weak from famine, unskilled and unable to speak English as well as the locals, if at all, was shunned.

There were a lot of Irishmen on the Motorway sites. I remember them. They were great machine men. There were lots of Englishmen and Scots as well.

However, I fear we're looking at myth history, a sort of backdated fake news, if we think the Irish built the railways in the nineteenth century.

They didn't. They didn't develop the technology. They didn't acquire skills, completely new to mankind, as the techniques of locomotion and construction developed. They didn't have the technical terminology. No railway contractor would have risked industrial strife by employing foreign labour.

It's easy to forget just how far ahead of other countries' technology was the British.

The French didn't build their railways. They couldn't. They employed British contractors. The French local labour wanted to work on the railways. We read they even brought their own spades ... made of wood. They weren't taken on.

The Irish didn't build Britain's railways.

The Brits did!

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Doggie do by Philip Smith

The Council wants Dog Wardens to fine dog walkers found without poop bags.

Presumably, the Dog Wardens must have an accompanying right to stop people and (somehow) oblige them to show the contents of their pockets and bags.

Dog mess is obnoxious and dog handlers ought to pick it up, but there's a wider issue, here.

How does imposition of penalties in respect of offences people MIGHT commit fit in with the Common Law?

I won't drone on with examples. We can all think them up, I'm sure. The answer is that it doesn't. It's a damnable racket.

Some jackinoffice dreams up a Regulation and says we can be fined and hey presto, there's another revenue stream and we're all supposed to put up with it.

The government is on the edge of giving Serco and S4C powers of arrest on a par with the police.

I try to avoid clichés like the plague, but one has to ask,

"Where's it all going to end?"

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The Teacher from Hell by Philip Smith

We had a nightmare teacher, at my skool.

People say,

"You couldn't make it up." too readily.

This fellah, you really COULDN'T make up!

We'd walk into his room never knowing what to expect, even unto the supernatural. Once, we kids walked in to find him standing tall and brimming with importance.

"You lot had better watch yerselves, today. I've got Jesus on my side. Haven't I Jesus?!"

Straight away came a voice from a storeroom.

"Yes, Sir!"

There then followed a conversation between teacher and the disembodied Divinity, until teacher decided who, amongst we bemused lads, was deserving of punishment.

I must point out that it wasn't necessary to misbehave in order to bring down punishment. The mere coincidence of being nearest to hand was sufficient to bring down wrath.

The punishment I dreaded was preceded by the announcement,

"The tooth, the tooth and nothing but the tooth!"
Whereafter, teacher would put the 'culprit' into a headlock and then dragged his canine tooth across the scalp of the struggling kid.

Of course it wasn't really a visitation from Jesus, brought down in unholy, mistaken allegiance with Sir. It was an older lad, awaiting The Call from teacher.
It was Time.

The victim was chosen.
Oh no! Jesus was Coming for Me!

The storeroom door flew open and a 4th Former loomed over me ... carrying a mallet. He lifted the mallet, as if to hit me.

He DID hit me: square on the top of my head!
Fortunately, Jesus proved merciful. The head of the mallet had been made (by teacher?) of cork, not wood.

The mallet head split in two. The halves fell one at either side of me. Oh dear!

"You've broken my mallet!" exclaimed Sir. Guess the rest ... You're right!

"The tooth, the tooth and nothing but the tooth!"

That teacher held a job for years!

A nightmare? A daymare! A neverforgottenm

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It's a Pub Holocaust by Philip Smith

I think there are sinister people at work, actively trying to kill off pub-going as a national pastime.
Apart from demographics, the usual reasons for the demise of pubs is the (rightful) demonising of drink driving, the smoking ban and the rise of sophisticated home entertainment systems. Whilst these are all significant, the really big influence is price. 
Publicans have always been a greedy breed, notorious for overcharging, adulteration and cheating customers whenever they can. The public have been putting up with it for centuries. Medieval Guilds and Courts punished crooked ale sellers severely and banned the addition of thirst inducing salt to ale. In our own time,  everyone knows stories of slops being recycled. 
Present day publicans don't pay to put salt in the ale. They're craftier. They sell us salt in the bags of crisps and nuts they flog-off at massive mark-ups.
The drinking public has been putting up with publicans' crap for countless generations. 
We put up with it, because we like booze and we like to talk and socialise.
And there we have it: the reason why pub beer is taxed so heavily that the industry is fading away. People talk in pubs!
Pubs were the first social medium!
Those in governments, be they monarchies, or a hamstrung fraudulent excuse-for-democracy like we endure, do not like people talking, because people talk about ... government.
Far better for them if people were to sit, compartmentalised at home and gormless, in front of BBC propaganda machines, sipping cheap supermarket booze. 
A people without pubs is a controllable people.
That's the agenda.

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Beer Economisers by Philip Smith

Here's one from a-down (bad) Memory Lane.
In olden time, in Yorkshire, there was a beer engine called an 'Economiser'.

The beer came into the glass as foam. The glass filled quickly with foam and a stratum of beer formed at the bottom of the glass, which deepened with every successive pull of the pump. It took at least 10-12 pulls to get a full pint. During the process, foam flowed out of the top of the glass, down the sides, over the barkeeper's hand and into a tray which was a designed-in component of the pumping system. The tray drained the foam back into the flow of pumping beer.

In those days, people kept the same glass throughout their time in the pub. Indeed, customers insisted upon it. A fresh glass would be provided, if requested, but only eccentrics did that.

So, foam flowed down the glasses of any drunk who hadn't washed his hands after visiting the thunder house and his microbes were every drunk's. By the end of a session, everyone had shared more than anecdotes. If anyone was ill, later, they blamed the beer!

Economisers were banned in 1971-2. People complained (dare I say this?) bitterly!

They complained of being constipated, after drinking the post-economiser beer.

They said the beer didn't taste the same. You bet it didn't!

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Power stations by Philip Smith

I was asked if the different power stations, around London, formerly generated electricity for immediate localities and specific uses?  

I think the existence of historically fragmented electricity supply makes sense.

The trams and underground began in an era when electricity and even gas were supplied on a small scale.

There's a plaque over a door in Hoxton Market which tells of the power station set up there by the Select Vestry which generated electricity, from 1897, for local use, by burning refuse.

Lots Road power station at Chelsea Wharf (Chelsea Creek, when I was a lad) generated power for the London Tube.

The National Grid only started in 1926. Before then, it recalled pre-railway time, when different places had differing clock settings. Before the National Grid took control, every little locality had its own plug sizes and the traveller needed an electrical equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife, to make kit work in different towns.

It's amazing to think the National Grid, so taken for granted, is not yet a century old.

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