Saturday, 5 October 2013

Almost Like They Listen, Or I Know Stuff #1

Good evening hockey fans. May I divert your gaze to a blog I did at the end of the '11-'12 season? The reason I get straight to the crux of the matter is I don't want to do another blog with ten bullet points. I can now do a shorter one based on the ten previous gripes. Yay. So, if you haven't read the linked text, here's the basics, based on each bullet point from the previous season, factoring in the post-season and summer decision making.

1) Ditch the "Bilingual coach" nonsense.

We didn't. We hired and ex-coach, and I wasn't happy. In fact almost all of the staff we hired were bilingual. But the coach was one I thought presided over an utter shower of shite when he was here before, and I was prepared to give him a shot after my initial disappointment. And he did not let me down.

2) Let the skilled forwards be skilled forwards.

It wasn't always there, but it was a great start. Prinicipally, the emergence of Lars Eller as an offensive threat, the proof that Alex Galchenyuk was (at least initially) a good first pick, and Brendan Gallagher demonstrating he is a direct replacement for Captain Brian Gionta by playing like our "C" did in his prime and being nominated for the Calder Trophy. For the first time in a long time the Habs could roll two scoring lines without looking desperate. We even welcomed Michael Ryder home, let him play his way, and he served us proud.

3) Have some defensemen who look like they could get served in a bar.

PK Subban won the Norris Trophy. He was, as far as I was concerned in 11-12 the only healthy NHL defenseman we had apart from Gorges. Yet we have ended the season with PK as the agreed elite NHL d-man. Gorges was solid. Markov practically came back from the dead. Diaz matured, and we added Davis Drewiske and Doug Murray for the sort of solid, dependable depth we need. My wish for last season was for Jarred Tinordi to get a shot at cracking the line-up, and he did not disappoint. All looks well on the Habs blueline, and the farm doesn't look too shabby either.

4) A General Manager prepared to take risks.

Holy shit! Drafting Alex Galchenyuk, an American recovering from a serious knee op? I don't think you can get a lot bolder than that. Unless you want to insert a 5'9" Giontalike into the line-up. Who then becomes the aforementioned Calder candidate playing alongside that 1st round pick. Marc Bergevin has taken the bull by the horns from the farm up, and openly admitted he uses the Chicago Blackhawks as an example of "how to do it right". I trust the guy. I didn't think I would, but I do.

5) Media acceptance that it's the 21st century...

Oh well, you can't have everything. Montreal is still Montreal...

6) Nail down Staubitz, and for gods' sake sign someone vicious.

Okay, we haven't got Staubitz, but we have signed someone better: George Parros, an undisputed heavyweight and arguably the best enforcer in the NHL these last 5 years. During the season, much of the "bouncer" work was left to the brilliant signing Brandon Prust, who is skilled enough to chip in offensively. We just weren't bullied like we have been for quite some time, and with the drafting of Michael McCarron and Connor Crisp in the spring, we're starting to look a little bit Bruins. And like it or not: that's a good thing.

7) Decidng what to do with Patrick Roy.

Meh. Back with the Avs. I'm quite happy with the Habs front office right now. All they have to do for me, the city, and the worldwide fanbase is improve on last season, and the previous six points all head in that direction.

8) Take the Old Yellers out back and shoot them.

I named Gott Slowmez: he's gone. Matthew Douche: he's gone. Brain (sic) Gionta: he's proved to be the leader the kids need, rather than the must-score must-assist guy he only is in EA NHL-world. Oh, and there was that other guy. The defenseman. Used to be a Laff. Tom something. Tom Cabinet? Something like that. Well, he's gone. Job done.

9) Take a bloody good look at recent Stanley Cup winners.

Done. By a GM with the inside track on a proven formula. And though things in all sports are prone to change, they don't change that much.

10) Not giving me a post-season with 10 bullet-points to rip the team on.

And they didn't. Result. Move along now...

So, to 2014:

I have no real expectations for the season other than an improvement on the last. What the team achieved, from ownership down, was 5-star, and although the end of the season and the brief playoff experience had the press raising their eyebrows and pointing a horrified finger at Carey Price as usual, I consider it a remarkable turnaround; a success.

So, beyond game 2:

You may have guessed now this is a blog I've "held fire" on posting. I really wanted to see how game one went. I didn't think it would go well, to be honest. Playing the Leafs in the first game of the season is always going to be more of a media circus than a true test of either team. Passion and rivalry on display is one thing, but a "game one" situation I think is always a bit like thrashing a car engine first thing on a freezing winter morning. It might be good to hear it's going, but you're not quite sure what damage is really being done.

George Parros got knocked out fighting Colton Orr. By George Parros. No one saw that coming, least of all George!

But losing didn't bother me that much, because one of the things that was quite positive in the press was how we could, technically, roll three scoring lines. The big "?" was apparently putting the youth movement of Galchenyuk-Eller-Gallagher together. Well after game one it seems to be a good decision.

There were obvious questions about defense, but when you look around the league's scorelines I think it's safe to say that the teams that showed good defense didn't really show much in the way of good offense. The fact remains it's really really early for all 29 NHL teams and the Calgary Flames.

I think this might be the tightest season in years, and I'm absolutely certain the Habs have a top 16 team, but the fact remains there are 27 other clubs chasing and studying the Blackhawks franchise. Dammit.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Weather annd the British Public: Kill! Kill! Kill!

I remember when all of this was fields.

I remember, when I was a kid, Spring was a time of crisp morning showers when bumblebees fought against the raindrops to do their randomly organised duty to nature, only for it to brighten up as I pattered home from school to play in the cool afternoon sun under a silver-lined cloudy sky. I remember the Summer that followed, with long hot days filled with water fights, uninterrupted Wimbledon, the raucous call of the often-spotted ice cream van, and the terror of trying to sit comfortably on a Hillman Avenger's vinyl seats wearing short shorts. Autumn brought with it the kicking of rustling leaves, a range of hues to make a Technicolour dreamcoat jealous, and stiff breezes that made kite flying a joy as we wrapped up to prepare for winter. And winter came, often unannounced, with Jack Frost drawing his eerie sketches on single panes of glass, alerted us to the impending days of sledging, snowball fights, candlelit evenings and endless Christmas card scenery.

Of course, none of that actually happened. They're just the bits I remember, because we remember the good bits. We talk about the good bits. Life with Britain's seasons is a lot like an Adam Sandler film: you remember the good bits, and sometimes it's full of good bits. But you can't remember how many good bits there were in a year, and you can't remember what year was particularly good. Apart from Happy Gilmore. Which is probably 1984 for me.

Now? Now we have a Spring where it rains a lot, and everything is damp. Summer comes, and we have two days of brilliant sunshine before it rains a lot, and everything is damp. Autumn is when we accept it rains a lot, and everything is damp. Then winter hits, and it rains a lot. Everything is damp, and occasionally frozen.

So stop moaning about how hot it is right now.

I've put off writing this blog because we are now a definite week into temperatures of 25+°C. I'm now officially sick of people complaining about how hot it is. This is the sort of weather my brain has filtered into my memory that weather should be like as August approaches. As I write this at 7 in the evening I can feel the sweat beading on my brow, despite the lovely can of chilled cider beside me, and the breeze from every window in the flat being open. This is how it is supposed to be!

Us British, we are never satisfied. When the summer is a miserable washout, we complain that it is. But when the following summer affords us the luxury of venturing out without waterproofs and an umbrella, it's "too hot".

Oh, and by the way, working Britain: there is nothing wrong with being "too hot". If you're too hot, then buy a desk fan. Drink lots of water. Take breaks to avoid dying if you work outdoors. Wear appropriate clothing if you know your indoor workplace is going to cause you issues. Don't pass out, because I bet 90% of us now don't get paid to be off sick. Or dead.

That said, a hot summer is dangerous. I know from experience that it can directly affect you not only physically but also mentally. Only last week I lost concentration and almost crashed due to the sun. A lass in a low-cut top was walking in my direction with far too much cleavage, and I didn't see some brake-lights until the last minute. Then a couple of days later I completely forgot what I was saying as a couple of women jogging in ridiculously short shorts passed by me.

Seriously, I think summer is probably the time men have more car accidents at low speed than any other time of the year. I'm surprised insurance companies haven't latched on to it. If they can say "Haha! You're under 25 so you are prone to being shit at the wheel!" then they can as easily say "Haha! You have a penis, and the weather's nice! We know you don't even notice road signs in town centres!" and they'd be right.

Women are no different, a lot of the time, I assure you.

So, here are my  tips for surviving the hot days in Britain:

  1. Wear loose fitting clothes wherever possible. Wear no clothes, if it won't get you fired.
  2. Drink plenty of fluid. I recommend anything made by Westons or Shepherd Neame. Or water. Yeah. Water. (Turn the tap off after use, or I may actually kill you.)
  3. Worship Cthulhu.
  4. Don't leave your pets in hot cars. By "hot" I don't mean a Subaru Impreza WRX STi V4G 1nA with mag alloy wheels and 35 profile tyres, a full 12-point rollcage and surgical grade crank and pistons. I mean physically hot.
  5. If it's too hot outside, and too hot inside, you need a fan. A fan can easily be constructed out of a sheet of paper, corrugated. If this is too much bother, or not effective enough, you need a big fridge to get in. Go do that.
  6. If it's "ridiculously" hot, move to Arizona, or Kenya, or outback Australia. Get a job digging drainage trenches there, or building new infrastructure. Do it for about £1 an hour, or maybe at gunpoint. Do it because there's literally fuck-all else you can do to support your family. Yeah, do that. Don't just flick over to BBC News on your 900-channel Skybox to see when some other weather is coming along for you to complain about. Just go. Shit, if I had the money to kidnap you and drop you off in Somalia, I would do.
  7. Dampen your clothing to aid your body's natural ability to regulate its internal temperature.
  8. Remember that if the environmentalists are right, this may be the last year you experience this weather.
  9. Eat a raw habanero pepper when the weather "gets on top of you" to take your attention away from the heat of the day. Especially the next morning. When it will probably rain.
  10. Seek professional climate advice rather than reading misleading blogs.
  11. Remember that if the environmentalists are wrong, this may be the last year you experience this weather.
  12. Convert to conservative Islamic ideology to minimise road traffic accidents.
  13. Discover a way to make it rain only at night, and maintain a constant 19.45°C temperature in the daytime. This is the Office of National Statistics agreed ideal temperature of British citizens who remember The War.
  14. Take up tennis. Make your kids do the same. Sooner or later Andy Murray will have to retire, and we can't leave it all to Laura Robson. That's sexist. We need something to complain about come June, whatever the weather.
  15.  Wear sunscreen. When the weather gets warm, you girls like the same thing as us boys do. So...
Thank you for reading. Now go and enjoy this brilliant summer. It's 1984, right?

Friday, 21 June 2013

How To Run Everything Smoothly In Modern Society

I know I shouldn't laugh at certain things in this day and age, but I always will.

Knocking the NHS is really easy, and I know capitalists and ultraconservatives do it frequently. I myself do it, although this has been largely when I've had a loved one on a ward staffed by one nurse, one doctor, two consultant golfers practitioners, a ward manager, a customer interaction manager, three H&S managers, a HR representative, and their team of 6 essential clerical staff. Because Angry Birds won't play itself.

I laughed at the news about the Care Quality Commission. It would appear that not only did the organisation cover up some serious issues with the management infrastructure and staffing levels of (a) particular hospital(s) but they also thought it appropriate to shred the evidence. Worse still, it transpires that the people initially responsible for suggesting everything was "okay" have no medical background other than how to buy paracetamol and Google "NHS". Yes, the CQC admitted that people involved in the decision-making and analysis of our dedicated medical professionals had no professional experience or qualifications to perform the role they were in.

I'm not surprised. It's a bit like appointing a bit-part actor and tabloid journalist as, for example, Secretary of State for Education. Or, perhaps, having major child welfare issues and assessments determined by data entry clerks and HR managers as opposed to seasoned, professional social workers with a background in psychology and field experience. Maybe it's even like having a major engineering company that the nation depends on run by people with massive experience in accountancy and banking... who can't change a lightbulb.

So, bearing all these brilliant decisions in mind, I think we can further improve the infrastructure and management of the entire nation by making the following appointments:

  • Foreign Secretary: Jim Davidson. Comedian Jim has a wealth of experience in detailing foreign people. He understands not only "wogs", but also "poofs". In a time where Britain is coming to understand that radical Islamists don't like people from their culture, and that they also don't like women being able to do as they have every right to, not to mention having a distaste for homosexuality, there can be no better person to send out - at massive taxpayer expense - than a violent racist homophobe under suspicion of being a sexual abuser.
  • Work and Pensions: Spongebob Squarepants. Although not a real person, or in fact a real species, Spongebob would be the ideal candidate to deal with affairs related to both the infirmity of the elderly and work-related issues. Having no concept of old age, Spongebob is one of those characters (like Top Cat - future Justice Minister) that has a broad appeal to all ages. In this age of fast-paced animation and government-fuelled nonsense media hype there is no reason why the public can't have trust in a square with no clear morality, who talks nonsense, and appeals to the lowest common denominator. Right, London? You twats.
  • Transport: This is a tiny island in the big scheme of the world, right? How hard can it be to determine when you can be somewhere, and when? Not difficult at all! So, as pretty much everyone I have ever met will testify, the best people to run our transport infrastructure are London Cabbies. They know everything. It doesn't matter if it's related to someone broken down on the M9, or temporary traffic lights because of a burst water main in Chelmsford. You can guarantee a 45-year old Cockney would have managed the situation better from the driver's seat of a Ford Mondeo with no MOT certificate and no insurance than anyone else on the entire planet. And he will only charge you £80 for every mile he has to travel.
  • Children's Welfare: This week we saw a Nabokovian nightmare made real by the imprisoning of a man for abducting a child and forcing her to have sex with him. Or we saw the imprisonment of a misguided and stressed professional teacher for having an illicit relationship with a young woman. I don't know any more. I won't pretend to. No one even knows what a paedophile is. I know, but then I read Lolita when I was 19. So I know what a hebephile is, but I've not heard it mentioned in the mainstream media once. So in light of recent news there is no better candidate for determining the welfare of children than Rolf Harris. Find me a proven fault with Rolf for the job.
  • Finance: Barry Scott. "The dirt is gone" indeed. Firmly in the same field as Squarepants, Robert, Mr. Scott has touched the lives (although not genitals) of thousands of Britons. His marketing portfilio alone is enough to warrant him the role, although his evident charisma and ability to read a script may overqualify him for the role. Anyway: it's him or Keith Chegwin.
  • Home Office: James Gandolfini. Because he was a topical anorexic homosexual, and that's what our understanding of current Britain is all about. Apparently he was great in the Sabrinis.
  • Governor of the Bank of England: Mamoud Ahmedinoujad seems perfect. We complain about what he does overseas, but like most foreign investors in the UK, as soon as he looks for the cheap dollar and gets it from privatisation he's quids in and the press go quiet. Iran is about 200% less of a threat to the British way of life than British Governments selling off British industry is. Seriously: name me a British company you're proud of. I certainly can't. Professionally, at least.
  • King of England: Olly Murs. But only if he delcares war on the USA to impose the Glee Extermination Act. Because even a hippy liberal* like me can see the need for extermination camps. Honestly. Now, go discuss. And that's not an Olympic event, Mail and Sun readers.

    *Note to Americans and other aliens: find the actual worlds I meant there and win £10 worth of game credits on an online game of your choice! Find the words you think I fucking meant and win £1 of the same, over a timeframe that suits me and your hopeful treatment.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

10 Reasons Why I'm Proud To Be British

Sometimes, I hear people say "You know what? You can't even say you're proud to be British anymore, because it makes you a racist!" I usually reply with something like "Well I'm proud to be British, and like most immigrants, I have good reason to be."

You should see the look on their faces. I've said I'm an immigrant. I'm white, I speak with an Ingerlish accent, and I'm not praying to Allah. How can I be an immigrant?

The fact is, I'm not an immigrant. My family tree is largely English recently, although my Grandpa Henderson researched our family tree so extensively its roots extend across most of Europe. So, in a wide timeframe, I'm of immigrant descent to the sort of Brit who at a positive mention of immigration suddenly finds themselves confused or apprehensive or in denial. So here's why I'm a proud Brit.

1) Take a Look Around.
Our cities boast some stunning architecture. We preserve it well, and it forms landmarks for people from all over the world to set as journey landmarks and meeting places, as well as photo opportunities and history lessons. Move out into the country, and you have some of the most luxurious landscapes you could imagine. Personally I love Snowdonia and the Peak District, but there isn't anywhere in rural England you can't go and find something beautiful.

While we do have a habit of spoiling the terrain with quarries and roads, and Monopoly-board new housing projects, as I've watched the world for forty-plus years I see that over time nature seems to lay claim to what it sacrificed. The new roads are tree-lined and picturesque. The quarries are spent, now a haven for nesting birds and the adventurous. The housing estates are no different to the new housing estates of fifty years gone. They are homes, they are communities, and they are divisive. They're just very British.

2) Taking the Piss out of Ourselves.
There's a reason the British Isles boast comedians as diverse as Billy Connolly, Jim Davidson, Frankie Boyle, Ben Elton, Bob Monkhouse, Frank Carson, Lenny Henry, or (dare I say it) Michael McIntyre: diversity. You see, many a Brit will call themselves a Scot, an Englishman, a Welshman, or Irish. And the associated little islands like the Isle of Man, Jersey, and Shetland aren't overly keen on being lumped in with a general consensus. It's why jokes based on regional culture are so much a part of our Britishness. Even in England you have a North-South divide. In the North you divide it by accent, as in the South. You can even find regional divisions of piss-taking isolated to a county, a town, a suburb. A street.

No one can present a public image of rotten-toothed, thieving, upper-class chav pomposity quite like the British. Foreigners just don't get it. And that's why we're the funniest people in the world.

3) Not Letting Anyone Take the Piss Out of Us.
We are one nation, united in the isolation of being an island. One nation united in conflict both personal and physical, in basic principles of identity, and in knowing that we are the only people with a right to take the piss out of us. We will allow our own idiot government to pass a law that is stupid, but God(s) forbid Europe pass a law that we think is as stupid! Europe passing it makes it more stupid! And that Sharia Law? You know? The ones the Muslims talk about us all having to stick to so we have to stop drinking and allow women to be stoned to death? Well that's taking the piss! We're not having that!

Well no. But then the Bible commends stonings, human sacrifice, and dying in the name of God, and very few of those faiths do it now outside the US Army. I, like many free-thinking Brits who have long since realised that all religion in bullshit, don't let any of these morons take the piss out of me. If it were left to me, any written text professing to be an article of faith that had passages condoning or promoting murder, torture, rape, oppression, or subjugation would be completely banned. But that makes me a communist, apparently, so...

4) Freedom of Speech.
I've never been big on this, and I'm not now. Freedom of speech seems to be a blanket term for sayin ort writin whateva the fuckya like wi out considrin consiqinces o yaction or chekin what ye say 1st b4 u say or rite it. The ability to be able to speak freely does not mean that speech that enables mass negative action should be done without rationalising it first, or understanding the consequences.

As I said to a black friend a few years ago, who was defending free speech: "So, if a white supremacist moved in next door and started leafleting the neighbourhood with BNP propaganda, you'd be okay with that would you?" "Of course not," she said. But that's free speech for you.

Nevertheless, it's a classically British trait that I'm proud we still have. Because as much as I hate its interpretation, I know how much worse things could be without it. Because I know when most people say "communism" they mean "Stalinism". Discuss. Because you can.

5) British Industry's Influence on the World.
Oh my word we have quite a track record, don't we? Regardless of what we actually did or didn't invent, for a very long time what we did was so bloody good that rather a lot of people copied or consulted us. Not only did we invent something as incredible as the Harrier jump-jet, no one ever bettered it. A steel industry that's the envy of the world? Check. Giving birth to the American industrial revolution? Check, my home town, check indeed.

We don't have a lot of that now. Industry is something we sell to investors in the name of global market economy. Our electricity is French. Our gas is German. Our water is Saudi. Even our language, on the keyboard I type on, is American by default. But this is all okay, because we spent the 80s and 90s ensuring that British people benefitted from this development of the Britsh way of life. What we have is a respected and powerful financial centre center that will never be usurped because wages in the key sectors are ever increasing.

And so...

6) The Welfare State.
Where would we be without doctors and nurses, and the horrible, heartbreaking hours they put in? Where would be be without a system that sustains us throughout hardship and crisis? We'd be in the Third World. That's where we'd be. Like it or not, the ability to be able to pay into a system that means your unemployed and disabled neighbours can enjoy a standard of living similar to your own is something to be incredibly proud of. Okay, we all know someone who leeches the system, but that's what systems are about. There are flaws. That neighbour who has never done a day's work in their life is fundamentally no better or worse than the banker whose off-shore bank account and legally registered business in Monaco funnel income that should be paid in UK taxes. Systems will always have scammers, and I think we all know deep down the smarter you are, the better educated you've been, the easier you will find it to cheat.

I love this country. I love the fact some poor sod from a war-torn faraway hell-hole can come here and we can support them, while we complain that we can't, reading these words on a £500 laptop or £200 smartphone paid for on the never-never. Don't like it? Move to where they came from.

7) Beer.
With perhaps the exception of Belgium, no smallish nation knows quite how to do beer like we do. For all the annoying Carlsberg, Guinness, Coors, and Fosters ads there are on TV, you know one fact of Britishness: most of our beers don't need that level of advertising because they sell themselves. Real ale is a self-propagating entity, and quite a classically pompous one at that. Proper brits don't drink Stella and WKD. They drink John Smiths and Bells. The discerning British drinkers won't stump for a Kronenbourg and Smirnoff chaser when there's a chance of an Exmoor Gold and a Lahphroaig.

Never mind the Weekend carnage of the binge-drinking modern age. That's a fad. We'll get over it. For every pissed-up 20-year old knocking back 20 pints of club-piss in a weekend, there is a 40-something like me who will drink that volume, of British booze, in a week, for less money, and still put more into the nation's economy than we'll take out of it in A&E and the court system. And I say this as an ex lagerboy who's been in both A&E and court, who drinks about 20 pints a week.

8) Integration of Culture.
We were short on men-folk come 1946, that's for sure. We'd been short of them before, and that's historically evidenced by our conquests and being conquered. Britain, as I mentioned earlier, is easily divided. What we succeeded in doing, sadly with a hefty dose of racism or ignorance, was rebuilding the nation to become something that not only could we be proud of, but that people could aspire to call "home".

But we did it. It hasn't always run smoothly, as best demonstrated by the invading Vikings or Normans, but we've always settled in the end, and it's no different now. Britain's favourite dish is from Asia, and many of our national sports players are descended from ex-colonies. That's what you get from integration. Never mind the horrendous and xenophobic concentration on the worst any culture might present in our daily newspapers. If you care that much about this sort of issue with your "Britishness" then do some genealogy. Find out where you're really from. You might get a shock, like someone I know, who is "whiter than white" with Roma and Hindu ancestors.

We're the archetypal melting pot, and we do it better than anyone.

9) (Not) Mentioning the War.
"The" War. Like there's only been one. That iconic moment from Fawlty Towers might just have inadvertently defined modern Britain for far too many deluded people. We don't mention it because America doesn't like being reminded it came into wars late. We don't mention it because the French were cowards. We don't mention it because we kicked Germany's arse, and they're outwardly our mates now.

Until we're pissed. Then we mention it a lot.

But I'm a proud and studious Brit, and I know without America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Free France, Poland, Russia, and the Colonies we would have been screwed by 1941. You only have to study the input of the RAF personnel (a personal study of mine) during the Battle of Britain to see just how cosmopolitan we are when we face the worst. We haven't truly faced that since, and I am sure that's why the shortsighted amongst us so fear any seemingly sanctioned change in our culture.

10) Music.
This is our best export. I was told recently it started with The Beatles, but I know for a fact it started with with folk music we took to faraway lands. That music was what we think of as "folk" and it bastardised tribal music across the world until it finally amalgamated into modern music, with no specific genre other than people making music. Only time and education has changed musical taste and understanding, and that's probably why Ray Davies isn't richer than Paul McCartney.

I probably like more American bands as favourites than British bands, but what makes that interesting for me is how faithfully those bands talk about British bands as their inspiration. Never German, Spanish, Swedish or Czech bands. I love Pearl Jam. They don't ever sound like Led Zeppelin, right? And Gods bless Black Sabbath and Therapy?. And New Model Army. And Ultravox. And XTC. And Napalm Death. And The Beyond.

I could go on. But I won't. I've made my point: I love Britain. I have 10 very good reasons for loving it. If you can find 10 reasons for loving Britain that contradict what I've said here, then have at it. I'm British, and that makes me open to reasoned debate. If you're not open to reasoned debate, you've not read this far, or you get the Daily Mail delivered.

And to summarize:

In an overpopulated, war-torn world, where the talk has been of mutually assured destruction and environmental catastrophe, terrorism and the New World Order, I can camp at the foot of a mountain in Wales, drinking a bottle of Spitfire, listening to Sondura, while the Singh, Litvinjenko, Despres and Oladijawale families - who all speak my language - enjoy this very British experience themselves. We're all in this together. We can't afford a 5-star hotel in Dubai, like our government masters. But that doesn't matter...

Britain is better than anywhere, and we all know it.