THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Bad law corrupts
Merry Christmas

In the deep mid-winter

Cranmer: Where is Lord Adonis?.

I am far too jolly to blog. My new job is going to be fun. It has taken a year to set up the venture I am going to head and my sense of achievement is deliciously combined with the glow of new challenges ahead (and the anticipation of Christmas cheer before it all kicks off). Perhaps I may even hope in 2010 for:

...the stern joy which warriors feel, In foemen worthy of their steel.

Time will tell. Certainly Shanghai seems a great place to live. My new home is splendid. I have been welcomed warmly, enjoying warm Canadian hospitality at my neighbour's Christmas Party on only my second night. Now I am off again to spend Christmas and New Year with my family in England. I am looking forward to it as I used to when a boy. Last year's Christmas was not cancelled exactly, but - with Mrs P. recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness - it was certainly muted. This year, the threat dodged (d.v.) we Paines are determined to make merry.

I found myself walking down West Nanjing Road today whistling a happy tune. I know that doesn't sound like the disgruntled, middle-aged libertarian you know, if not love. Bear with me, I am sure it will pass.

It's hard not to laugh, in such a mood, at the climate chaos in England, but there is a serious point. Pace those fools for whom the state can do no wrong, it is incompetence that has the country on its knees, not Mother Nature. For all the decades of my father's career in construction, the local authority had a deal with contractors that, in return for modest standby payments, they would agree to deploy their men and equipment to clear the roads when harsh weather struck. This saved the state the cost of maintaining heavy machinery that would stand idle most of the time. It provided supplemental income to local businesses (just when the weather prevented them from doing their usual work). In short it was sensible, practical and cheap. It was also an informal public-private partnership before that concept was lawyered to death.

The Health & Safety culture has put a stop to that. Untrained amateurs (i.e. the tough guys driving the trucks and diggers and manfully wielding the shovels) engaged in such operations might get hurt. If they got hurt, they might sue. Only operatives specifically employed and trained for such activities can now carry them out. So only designated workers using specialised equipment can clear the roads. It's far too costly to maintain fleets of equipment for such occasional deployment. So the economy grinds to a slushy halt. At a cost in GDP which (impoverished as we already are) we must try not to think about.

The only fools bigger than the fools running our country are the fools who voted for them. Except perhaps for those bigger fools who couldn't be bothered to vote at all because "it doesn't matter." Yes it does. These idiots are in charge because you idiots allowed it.

I may seem to have blogged the spring from my step and the song from my lips, but not really. I am jolly still and looking forward to my flight home. Ten or more hours in the air lie ahead and a man must sleep, so this may be the moment to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. Unlikely though it may seem with such clowns in charge (and clowns with different costumes warming up in the wings) I hope you also have a prosperous new year.

If you have been, thanks for reading. My blogging this year may have done nothing to aid Mrs P's recovery, but it has helped to preserve my sanity. Thanks for the therapy and here's to better times ahead for all - except those clowns.


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Let me echo the above sentiments and wish you and your family the best for Christmas.


Merry Christmas wishes from Cambridge. Will you be able to catch up with the King's College Carol Service in China? It sounds like you have a wonderful year ahead of you, and I'm sure it will be a great success.

Young Mr. Brown

"it is incompetence that has the country on its knees"

That, and namby-pambyism, and litigiousness - (as you say "If they got hurt, they might sue.")

I am in one of the less snowy parts of the country, and our local high school has been closed for three days on account of about 2 inches of snow. It beggars belief.

Oh, and a happy Christmas to you, sir, and to your family.


How great to read such tangible optimism in this bleak weather.

Interesting times are not a curse for adaptable people.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and an exciting New Year.


Now you bring me down just a little. You are right. I always vote... but it will not change things any really, maybe just make them a bit less worse for a while.

Merry Christmas


Your post reminded me of a particularly harsh snowstorm in the early 80s. Being young, foolhardy and a member of a music group that had a booking in a working men's club on the other side of the county on a Sunday night, the prospect of blizzards seemed nothing but a potential irritant along the road to fame, fortune and the mastery of the 4th chord.
We all piled in the van and set off. The journey took a lot longer and the snow was beginning to drift when we arrived at the venue. It turned out that the locals had more sense and stayed indoors, so they let us go home at 9.30. By this time the snow had settled into deep drifts and two of the three roads out of this town were blocked. We set off on the only road that was said to be open and made progress for a couple of miles until we were halted by a drift about 30 yards long and two feet deep. We tried to drive through and failed. We tried to dig our way through (we had brought shovels with us)and failed. It was way past midnight by now. We wondered what else we could do when a local farmer turned up driving a tractor with a bucket scoop. He cleared the road in minutes and we resumed our trip home.
Your post reminded me of what we've lost.

Merry christmas and keep posting


Merry Christmas Tom, to Mrs P and your young ladies, my plane to sunnier climes is waiting on the 27th, I am seasoned enough a traveller to steer clear of BA. 2010 is to be an interesting year.

Wes Thu Hal!


Merry Christmas to you TP and your family. May your good humour long continue despite the "clowns".

Snow brings us to a temporary halt in this part of the world too and it is foolish to have on hand a lot of unused equipment when we do not often get significant snow. They do have enough to keep the bus routes open however. Last year over Christmas we were snowed in for five days as an unusual blizzardy snowfall hit so we are all hoping for rain this year as usual.

May the New Year bring solutions to all the problems, not only those faced by the UK.

Peter Whale

Merry Christmas and the best of health to you and your family.
Take the slow boat back and spread a little more scorn on the morons in charge.

Bendy Girl

A very happy Christmas to you and your family Tom. Such wonderful news that Mrs P is doing well :)

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