Two things agitated my cynical eye in this morning’s reported news. One was a glaring headline in a comic called the Daily Mail that all the ills of the housing market could be laid at the feet of selfish old-timers and the second was a related story about Sajid Javid demanding squillions more be spent on building houses all over the place.
I’m somewhat offended at being termed a selfish old so-and-so by some clueless gang of journalists who seem to think that because some of us have reached a certain age we must all be wealthy, privileged, land owning, mansion owning capitalists who don’t give a monkeys about everyone else and stir up NIMBY arguments to frustrate those wonderful developers building marvellous homes for the needy. My goodness, if I’d realised life was so good at this certain age then I’d have long since liquidated my millions in the Cayman’s and brought it all back to dear old Blighty. It just goes to show what tosh some newspaper hacks turn out. They are clearly short of some new scandal to snuffle around when they resort to such absurd claims. The irony of this little outrage is, of course, that this blog has ever argued for the rights for a liberal freedom of speech - so I suppose I should just grind my teeth, mumble and grumble a little and scowl at young people -‘cos that’s what older generation folk obviously do.
As for Sajid Javid, our highly respected Communities Secretary, he wants developers and builders to brace themselves for an even mightier assault upon our urban and semi-rural spaces with tonnes of concrete, bricks and hideous designs being stockpiled as I write. I accept that there probably aren’t enough affordable houses around, particularly for the young, but that hasn’t in any way deterred developers from building indiscriminately across the land with projects and houses that no first time buyer would ever likely afford. Developers have cynically (yes, that’s me the non-cynic talking) ravaged the countryside with ugly, spaceless and expensive piles of brick by exploiting the widespread deficiencies in many local authorities over inadequate and incomplete local and neighbourhood plans - a loophole that developers have egregiously taken advantage of. More to the point, many of these brick piles have been dumped on perfectly usable arable land, on green belt and in locations where there is no significant employment opportunity - causing - guess what ? - endless streams of cars trying to commute back and forth along roads that were never intended to carry such weight of traffic and amidst communities creaking at the seams with overwhelmed schools, surgery’s and community facilities in general. Now tell me whether I’m being Nimby’ish on this. It’s true that I don’t like much of what these developers are doing to our villages, towns and cities but I do accept that more houses are needed for those wanting to get a roof of their own over their heads. But why build all this often horrible stuff in the wrong places, charge horrendous prices for them and in the process ruin both semi-rural countryside and local communities ? Am I the Luddite here or are they - the developers - just marauding bands of pillagers ? Someone tell me before a gasket blows in some vital place.
Elsewhere we see Mugabe reaching the end of his nasty little road. The unpleasant face of everything that Africa does not need has been - rather civilly - displaced (unusual in most parts of Africa) and is awaiting an official vote of no confidence in his continued ‘leadership’ to presage new elections. Let us hope his ambitious and equally unpleasant wife doesn’t get the opportunity to replace him.
Now what would you do if you saw a rather nice Range Rover poddling around your local town with no driver at the wheel ? You might notice it purr up to a zebra crossing or politely stop when your grannies motability scooter suddenly swerves in front of it or you might be entertained by it parking itself neatly at the kerbside. All amazing stuff and real if you’re an inhabitant of Coventry where such road trials have been underway for some weeks. It’ll no doubt be a while before it’s commonplace but it is bound to come to a street near you before much longer. With some measure of trepidation I’m all for it. The ingenuity behind this sort of technology is extraordinary and it gives me some small hope for the future of mankind (sorry, I briefly entered my God mode for a moment or two there).
An improbable picture of Ivanka Trump pulling her own luggage along a railway platform in the US is either very much a staged shot or a side of this much commented about young woman that we haven’t seen before. Or maybe she’s a doppelgänger too ?
And finally, a doggy tale ! Mali the Belgian Malinois has been awarded the canine VC for devotion to duty above and beyond. Wounded and badly hurt he still carried out his explosive sniffing duties to save human lives. Truly mans best friend.