Murdoch on the Nanny State

Rupert Murdoch, billionaire and publisher of The Sun and The Times has put the cat amongst the pigeons in a radio show over the weekend.   Speaking to The Daily Telegraph’s Jeff Randall on Radio Five Live, he said: “I think it has been a pretty good government in many ways, but it has extended the nanny state, the welfare state and gone a long way to destroy this idea of personal responsibility for people’s lives”.

“It is up to people to get on and the Government to get out of their way and to tax them less and give them more incentives.”

Hear Hear.  And before it is too late too.

News International have supported the Labour administration since 1997.   Seems as if they have just fired a warning shot across the bows of Toni and his chums…..

To Russia with with warm underwear…

Spare a thought for the colleagues I have sent over to Moscow on business.    The cold weather in Blighty may be unwelcome.   But it was -30deg celsius in the Russian Capital last week.

The Kremlin

So much for the sightseeing visit ….. this has certainly cooled my enthusiasm for a return trip to take in some of the sights.   Definitely need to wait until Spring.

Wilson Pickett – Soul singer

Wilson Pickett, the soul singer best known for the hits Mustang Sally and In the Midnight Hour, has died of a heart attack, aged 64.

Pickett had been suffering from health problems for the past year and died in a hospital yesterday near his home in Virginia.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, the same year that his career was revived as a result of several of his songs being featured in the Alan Parker film The Commitments. Pickett, who is survived by his fiancée and four children, will be buried beside his mother Lena in Louisville, Kentucky.


One of the most popular black singers of the ’60s, Wilson Pickett helped introduce the aggressive style of rhythmic style of soul music. Aided immeasurably by the excellent studio bands backing him at the Stax Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, and The Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals Alabama, Pickett scored a series of R&B and pop hits on Atlantic Records between 1963 and 1972 that included “In the Midnight Hour,” “Mustang Sally,” and “Funky Broadway.”

Raised in Prattville, Alabama, Wilson Pickett moved to Detroit, Michigan at the age of sixteen and made his professional debut as the lead singer of The Violinaires in the late ’50s. From 1961 to 1963 he was in The Falcons, writing and singing their 1962 hit “I Found Love.” Pickett then went solo and signed with Lloyd Price’s Double L Records, where he wrote and recorded “If You Love Me” and “It’s Too Late.”

In 1964, Pickett signed with Atlantic Records and did his early recordings in the Stax studio in Memphis, Tennessee with Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper of The MGs. Cropper co-authored three of his early hits, “In the Midnight Hour” and “Don’t Fight It”.   (Cropper, with friend Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn is part of the band in The Blues Brothers). from his debut album The Exciting Wilson Pickett that established him as a major soul star. The album also included “Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do),” “She’s So Good to Me,” and “Land of a 1,000 Dances,” (covered by The Revillos in the early ‘80’s)  all recorded at Fame Studio in Muscle Shoals.

I think I’ll be watching The Commitments again over the weekend.

British Day – 1066 and all that

A recent government wheeze intended to unite the Brits in a ‘British Day’ seems to have stumbled at the first hurdle.


An initial suggestion was Remembrance Day, November 11th.   Cue cries of outrage and horror.   Rightly so too.


Next, one of the less bright in the House suggested 14th October, the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings in 1066.


Not a particularly sound choice as, if I recall my history correctly, that particular battle didn’t go well for the English.   King Harold II of England lost to Duke William of Normandy.   It was the last time any foreign power was to conquer Britain.


Really well thought out choice then.

The Lamborghini Miura

It is said the reason Ferruccio Lamborghini created the orginal Miura in 1966, was because he did not like Enzo Ferrari.   Apparently Lamborghini owned a Ferrari and complained that the gearbox was noisy.   Enzo allegedly responded by suggesting he stick to making tractors – which had made him a millionaire – and leave the manufacture of sportscars to Ferrari.   Ferrucio was a tad miffed so decided to have a go himself….

Whatever his motives may have been, it’s a great story, an amazing car and it rewrote the rule book for supercars for ever.   Sure, GT’s can have engines at the front, but to be a sportscar the motor has to be in the middle.  OK, or the back in the case of the 911, but that really is the exception that proves the rule.

In dazzling orange or lime green, the original Miura epitomised the swinging Sixties, with black eyelashes around its headlamps matching the false lashes of skinny, white-faced models.  Twiggy’s manager, Justin de Velleneuve, bought the one above (with her money) to squire her around London’s night spots.   One of my friends bought said car a couple of years ago as an investment.   I could barely get in – god knows how you would actually drive one – let alone park it, it was awful.   But it looked amazing.

The Muira also set the standards in scary supercar handling. Super-fast, its screaming quad-cam V12 engine was mounted across the back; that mass would pull the car into lurid oversteer if you lifted off in a corner and the sharp nose would lift at speed as air got underneath it.

And now, as retro is the new new, it is being reborn.   This new version sports a barrage of aerodynamic splitters and winglets to keep it on the ground. So will it be less scary than the old model? Bentley’s chief engineer, Uli Eichhorn, thought so. “I don’t think we know how to make a car that handles that badly any more,” he grinned.

True, but you still know how to make them gorgeous!

I think I need another lottery ticket.   Or two.

Friday 13th – Bollinger Record broken

Following on from my post on Friday about celebrating Friday 13th’s with Bollinger champagne, I have a report from Special Correspondent San Fran Sean on the events in the London Wine Bar that night:

It was absolute chaos and tremendous fun!!!… All I know is we had 70 champagne glasses and they were all being used…


I arrived about 6.15pm and the place was crowded… then my mates behind the bar started clapping and cheering and everybody else joined in… it was a trifle embarrassing…


Opened the 1st bottle of Bollinger at 6.30pm… rapidly followed by bottles 2-10!!!!… Then the 1st magnum… I was so busy pouring champagne… I have never been hugged and kissed by so many strange women!!!!… I don’t think it was me… must have been the Bollinger…


At 10pm my mate Gary (owner of the London Wine Bar) informed me we had just poured the 51st bottle… the record from Hong Kong was 52…


I opened a magnum which made it 52 and 53… a new record… we carried on to a final count of 52 regular bottles and 5 magnums (1.5L bottles)… The 5 magnums will all be signed and go up on the wall to join the other 186 magnums surrounding the entire bar…


The new Friday 13th World Record is now 62 bottles of Bollinger set at the London Wine Bar in San Francisco on January Friday 13th 2006…


Needless to say, the rules were adhered to… although… We didn’t run out of Bollinger… I didn’t run out of money… and I didn’t expire… We actually ran out of people!!!!

Wonderful.   So remember, next Friday 13th, have a bottle of Bolly.   Or two.

Top Gun

Had a splendid day out in the country yesterday at The Shooting Ground, run by Holland & Holland near Ruislip.   Invite courtesy of Rocky at Connum, Grabbit and Run (law firm – there’s a clue in the name – sorry chaps).

The day started well as I managed to navigate my way there across London without getting lost and wasn’t even late.  Result.

A small group, divided into three teams, we went off with an instructor and smacked a few clays at various stands.   Some good tuition – keeping both eyes open was the best advice I had – rather than both closed as one of the other chaps said…very witty.

After coffee we went out again – this time with a scorecard – and then had a final flurry with 4 guns at a time and a mass of incoming birds.

All good fun.   Top gun was 29 points.. I managed 28 (tying with a team member) and was happy with that.   Looking forward to testing my newly acquired skills on the 21st – our last shoot of the season.

Computer induced stress

Now it is said that to err is human, but to completely stuff something up requires a computer.    Regular visitors will have noticed a few changes to the blog this year.   First I changed the layout and colour scheme and then managed to figure out how to add pictures.

Then the font started to go funny.

Then the edit did not work properly.

And the preview has a mind of its’ own.

So I’ve been a little stressed.   Graphically illustrated by this little animation….

Aston Martin Rapide

One of my abiding passions is of course cars.   And the latest Aston Martin – to be announced at the Detroit Motor show this week – is the gorgeous Rapide.   Building on the success of the DB9, Vanquish and new Vantage (which is stunning) and having had their first profitable year in years, Aston head Uli Bez has given the go ahead for a 4 seater model.

Aston Martin Rapide

And it’s gorgeous. Designed by Aston’s new design director, Marek Reichman the basis is a DB9 with a 9.8in stretch between the wheels. It uses the same 450bhp 5.9-litre V12 engine and six-speed ZF auto gearbox, and with better aerodynamics it should beat the coupé’s 186mph top speed if not the 5.4sec dash from 0-60mph.

It should also give Porsche a run for their money with the new Panamera.

Porsche Panamera photo gallery

Ah, the future of motoring never looked so good.   Now where’s that lottery ticket?