Wednesday 13th June 2012

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So we reach the half way point of this project for 2012 and probably the nicest Ides so far.  The weather recently has been awful, very unseasonable in our little corner of the world, and not in a nice way.  Again, this Ides finds me at work and for once I was forced to wear my sunglasses for the drive in.  Only the day before I had driven in with full headlines, window wipers and demister on.  The beauty of an English Summer.  At least my village wasn’t flooded and I did not have to employ a canoe to travel down the high street.  A busy day at work when really we should be a little quiet but 17 years of experience at this company has taught me that it is never quiet.

So what happened in the world at large?

Our coalition government is split over whether there should be an inquiry over the conduct of Jeremy Hunt.  Nick Clegg (The leader of the Liberal Party) has told his MPs to abstain in the Labour lead Parliament vote on whether there should be an inquiry by the ministerial standards watchdog into the Culture Secretary’s handling of News Corp’s proposed takeover of BSkyB. Labour’s call was rejected by 290 votes to 252 despite Jeremy Hunt admitting that he may have ‘inadvertedly misled‘ the Commons, however this apparently is not the same as lying to the Commons.  In related news Rebekah Brooks was remanded on bail on charges of conspiracy to pervert the course of Justice as part of the inquiry into the News of the World phone hacking case.

After three months of heavy rain the majority of water companies that supply water to the South East of England have announced that they will lift the hosepipe ban.

In the latest of her Jubilee celebration trips around England the Queen visited the East Midlands accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  The Duke of Edinburgh was supposed to be accompanying his wife on this trip but he is still recovering from the Bladder infection that he succumbed to the night of the Jubilee River Pageant.

And finally  Danny Boyle’s vision for 2012 London Olympics was revealed. The opening ceremony will start with an anarchic pastoral vision of Britain’s green and pleasant land, featuring real animals, fake rain, a mosh-pit in tribute to the Glastonbury Festival and a ‘posh-pit’ summoning the spirit of the Last Night of the Proms but rumours that the Olympic flame will be lit by a flaming sheep launched from a trebuchet are sadly made up by me.

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Old Moore’s Almanack: World Event Predictions 20th May

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Apologies but due to personal commitments I am writing this up 2 weeks after the event so therefore please excuse anything I miss out.

This set of predictions revolve around the new moon on the 20th May (which just happened to be an eclipse).  Let us see what was predicted:

  • There are strong indications of buoyancy in the property market for the third month in a row.
  • The government will bring in fresh education reforms with new encouragement for independent schools and home-schooling.
  • The United States economy is entering a difficult period and it will experience foreign-policy reverses as it is forced to compromise in the Middle East and central Asia.
  • Egypt is experiencing deep instability and a threat from Islamic fundamentalists.
  • Severe weather conditions could predominate in the Southern Hemisphere.

Let us see how these predictions panned out:

  • There are strong indications of buoyancy in the property market for the third month in a row – Across all housing market indices there are no signs of buoyancy.  At best one could say they are stable but in most regions of the UK they are declining with only the London market bucking the trend and skewing the overall average.
  • The government will bring in fresh education reforms with new encouragement for independent schools and home-schooling – There doesn’t seem to be anything of great significance in the news except for a speech by the opposition leader Ed Miliband bemoaning vocational qualifications but no governmental reforms.
  • The United States economy is entering a difficult period and it will experience foreign-policy reverses as it is forced to compromise in the Middle East and central Asia – The US economy (as is the whole world) is definitely looking precarious, with poor jobs and output figure it certainly looks like the US will go for QE3 to attempt to stabilise the dollar in the maelstrom that is the current marco-economic climate.
  • Egypt is experiencing deep instability and a threat from Islamic fundamentalists – Egypt is still struggling to come to terms with the fallout from the Arab Spring and the overturning of Mubarack (who as I write this has just been sentenced to life imprisonment) on its steps to democracy.  Egypt is looking at its first free presidential elections in 30 years but the choice is not necessarily what one could hope for. The two leading candidates are Ahmed Shafiq who is tied to the Mubarak era regime and Mohammed Mursi leader of the Muslim brotherhood.  However Egypt is currently experiencing severe unrest and there has been accusations of voting irregularities so there may be a delay to the official announcement of candidates for the 16th June elections.
  • Severe weather conditions could predominate in the Southern Hemisphere – There does not seem to be anything in the news.

As I always say if there is anything you think I have missed or have been unfair in my representation of the news then feel free to comment.

Tuesday 15th May 2012

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For the second time this year, the Ides of the month do not fall on the 13th of that month, rather the 15th, so we avoid talking about the most exciting finish to an English Premier League season in the history of the English Premier League.  Nevertheless both the 13th and 15th would yield the same result from a personal point of view, I was at work.

Tuesday 15th May 2012 starting with the six o’clock alarm, as it usual does on work days.  A glance out of the window confirmed that we were still in drought conditions, leaden skies and heavy rain.  Since the South East of England was declared in an drought at the beginning of April we have had but 3 dry days.  Rain gods are nowt but ironic!

So what was happening in the world at large?

Although I awoke, in the South East of England, to heavy rain parts of the country, notably Staffordshire and Shropshire woke to snow!  The middle of May and snow in central England.  This is not unprecedated, indeed there was snow at the beginning of June in 1976 and that summer has gone down in history as the hottest summer with 15 days (from 23rd June to 17th July) of temperatures about 32°C a heatwave a mere three weeks later.

The current economy gloom is spreading with Greece being if not a pivotal point in the plan certainly a destabilising piece.  Therefore it was worrying news (if not unexpected) theta they were unable to form a government with the current selection of MP’s and that finally came to a head today meaning that the Greeks will have to go back to the polls in a few weeks to attempt to see if the new crop can agree on what the Greek nation can do to prevent their withdrawal from the Euro.

It appears that Virgin Airways are going to let passengers use their mobile phones onboard Virgin Atlantic flights.  This is despite Lufthansa and Qatar airways suspending the same on their flights after complaints from other passengers that like the haven of a mobile free zone.

Feel free to add any other news stories that you think I have missed…

Friday 13th January

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Welcome to the first of the Ides summaries.  Hopefully none of you suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia as not only is this the Ides of January it is a Friday!  If you do suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia then 2012 is probably a bad year for you as there will be 3 this year!

So what happened on Friday 13th January 2012?

Awoke to a fine frosty Winter’s morning, the first of note of this winter (which just goes to show how mild this winter has been!), which meant that the car’s windows needed scrapping before I could take my oldest child to school.  And so began a usual Friday day in the Bagnall household.  After the school drop I headed into work (shades on – frosty morning caused by lack of cloud cover overnight; lack of cloud cover overnight means that the low winter sun can be seen in its full glory; I drive East to work means that the sun is in my eyeline for the majority of the journey hence the shades!).

Again a standard day at work with its usual spread of delights and frustrations with one of the better delights being a surprise lunch from one of my suppliers.  Just as I was walking out of the door to head to grab a bit to eat, I bumped into the supplier heading in for a spontaneous chat with me, so we killed two birds with one stone and headed to the nearest pub.  Who says that Friday 13th is unlucky!

Back home for Salmon Stir-fry and an evening in front of the box with the missus.  Not the most awe-inspiring ides that has ever been lived but a true reflection, a snap-shot of one person’s life on Friday 13th January 2012.

Globally, what was the news?

Obviously that is an enormous question but here a few little snippets:

  • The Hammersmith Flyover (A4 – West London) re-opened.  It was closed just before Christmas after serious structural defects were discovered during an inspection.  This is one of the major arteries for traffic heading into London from the West and so has had enormous ramifications on traffic on the alternative routes.  The flyover re-opened on Friday 13th January 2012 but with only one lane in either direction and only to light traffic.
  • A small (unconfirmed) number of people died and thousand were rescued when the Costa Concordia (a luxury cruise liner) ran aground and began to sink off the coast of Italy.  Obviously news agencies begin to make comparisons to the Titanic (especially considering it is the 100th anniversary of that disaster in 3 months time) mainly because they have to ramp up the fear factor when reporting the news or they believe that the general populace is too think to understand what a ship sinking looks like without referring to some Hollywood blockbuster.  The Costa Concordia incident and the Titanic disaster have nothing in common apart from they are both ships.
  • France lost its triple A rating from Standard and Poor adding to the on-going economic woes in the Eurozone (and the world in general).  Eight other European countries were also downgraded (Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta).  Cyprus and Portugal are now classed as junk status and Italy are on a par with Kazakhstan!  With talks in Greece about another bail out package (without which the country will default in March) it was a bad day for the Eurozone with stock markets reflecting those worries.  There are only 14 countries left in the World with a Standard and Poor AAA credit rating and only three (Canada, Germany and the U.K.) of the G8 with that highest of ratings.  Interesting economic times lie ahead.
  • And finally The Royal Navy captured 13 Somali pirates in the India Ocean.  Remind me which century we are living in.  Unfortunately Somali pirates (as far as I am aware) do not have wooden legs, eye patches and a parrot!

So not the most exciting of ides, especially from a personal point of view but a true and honest view of Friday 13th January 2012.  Here are three photos (and I aim to take the same photos each Ides if I am in the area).