I have received a number of complaints over the months to the effect that the ‘Email subscription’ facility on my blog does not work, but it was only when I tried to subscribe myself the other day, by using a different username and email address that I realised that there was indeed a problem.
I too had difficulty in getting registered, so I contacted WordPress support and between us we have discovered the problem and I have now come up with a solution.
The problem was that the yellow strip (input field) on my main blog page, immediately under ‘Join 55 other followers’ and above ‘Sign me up’ was not visible as the background colour of my blog was the same colour as the strip.
This yellow strip (field) is where subscribers are required to enter their email address in order to subscribe, and as it wasn’t visible, very few have succeeded in subscribing.
I have solved the problem by changing the background colour of my blog and now the email address field is clearly visible.
So please feel free to use this facility. If you are a regular follower of my blog, you may find it quite convenient to receive any new blog posts by email..
I had a couple of nights alone earlier in the week as Noo had to go back home to Nong Khai to sort out a few things.
What things? Well to cut a long story short, a couple of weeks back she went to the local district office, here in Pattaya, and obtained a legal divorce from her long estranged husband.
I have done it several times myself, so I know exactly what is involved. Provided that neither party has any asset disputes or claims on the other, (there is no such thing as alimony or wife support), then both parties sign a load of papers in front of the duly authorised official and a ‘divorce certificate’ is issued.
It looks much like the Thai marriage certificate, except marriage certificates are red and the divorce certificate are black – I wonder why?
Armed with their divorce certificates, the divorcees then have to start the laborious task of changing their names and getting all their myriad legal documents changed to reflect their new, single status names.
This is why she went back to Nong Khai. First on the list of documents to be changed was her ID card and her name on the house registration document, (Tabian Bahn).
(All Thais are required to be registered on the ‘home paper’ at a legal address – usually their family home, or their own home if they happen to own one. It is supposed to be the place where they are living, but rarely is – so a vast majority of the people living in Pattaya are in fact registered on the home papers of their family homes, throughout the length and breadth of Issan. Thus, nobody has the slightest idea of what the true population of Pattaya is.)
She achieved all this in one long day and the next morning drove back to Pattaya – which was just as well, as there was three days of washing up in the sink. I should add that her older sister accompanied her and shared the driving as it was too much for one person to do alone, unless they are suicidal – like me.
Now she has to do the rounds back here: to the vehicle licensing office where she must change the name on her driving licence and vehicle ownership papers, then to the banks to change her name on her bank accounts, and so on and so forth. It is never ending.
Noo has taken the opportunity to change – slightly – her first name, (which is not only spelt differently, but also the way it is pronounced), and she has now taken the ‘given’ or surname name of her real, (blood), father.
Considering all the hassles they have to go through to change their name, you would think that Thais would keep this process to a minimum, but on the contrary – it has almost become a sport for Thais to be forever changing their names – legally. The main reason for this aberration is the proliferation of greedy, charlaton fortune tellers
Thousands, if not millions, of naïve, superstitious Thais visit their local fortune tellers, (‘Maw-doos’, which literally means the ‘seeing doctor’), and ask them for a propitious new name that will bring them better luck and good fortune. The fortune- tellers, ever willing to oblige for a small fee, dream up a brand new name and this ridiculous practice has now spawned a flourishing business at the district offices.
I well remember the last time I went to a district office to obtain a divorce from one of my previous wives, and we had to sit there queuing up for many hours as the place was jammed full of young Thais getting their names changed before the Sonkran Holiday – Thai New Year – which apparently is an auspicious time of year to change your name!
Last Wednesday, Thailand celebrated the annual festival of Loi Krathong – the Thai water craft festival, which has its roots in a Brahman festival to worship Gods- Siva, Vishnu, and Brahma but was later adapted by the Thais to honour Buddha. It is held at the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar which means it usually falls in November.
A ‘krathong’ can be best described as a lotus shaped floating crown, which is usually home made and is floated on the water in the rivers, canals and lakes throughout the country. The floating of the krathong symbolizes the letting go of all one’s hatred and anger.
It was during the Loi Krathong Festival, two years ago, that Noo first moved in to live with me at my house, and we have been together ever since. So Loi Krathong is a special occasion for me and will always be a time for giving thanks to all those wonderful ‘Gods’ out there who brought Noo to me.
Is Cameron Bonkers?
As a child, and up to my early teenage years, I lived through a very long period of Conservative (Tory) governments; (i.e. Churchill, Eden, Macmillan and Lord Home – pronounced HUME!!), so it was hardly surprising that in my late teens, I became a strong supporter of Harold Wilson’s Labour governments.
After all – anything for a change, and like most young adults, I tended to have a rebellious and socialistic view of things and resented the patronising attitude of the upper class toffs who peopled the Tory party and had been running things ever since I could remember.
I guess I remained pretty much a left leaning political animal until the advent of the Thatcher government in the early 80’s, when, like many others , I embraced the right-wing, Thatcherite band-wagon.
Thatcher finally ran her course and along came smiling Tony. The advent of Blair gave me pause for thought, and again like many, I was at first swept up by his charming, handsome young countenance and his seemingly convincing rhetoric. But again like many, admiration of the labour governments soon gave way to disillusionment and even hatred, which became even more pronounced when Tone finally fell on his sword and the terrible, half crazed Gordon Brown took over.
So we all breathed a sigh of relief when the Tories finally had another chance of running the country – albeit with the Liberal Democrats in tow. Yet again, like most Brits, I initially thought that Cameron may be the answer to all our economic woes.
After all, he seemed to know what he was talking about and he was educated at Eaton so he must be pretty smart – he had to have been – just to emerge in one piece from his all-male school days with all his pieces in tact. To be honest, when I look at the alternatives, I still nurture a 0.5% hope that Cameron may yet surprise us all….
But the facts simply don’t bear this out, as he continues to make blunder after blunder, putting his un-informed, ignorant foot in it at every turn, and arrogantly failing to admit that he may just occasionally have got it wrong. He has shown an appalling lack of sense and vision in his appointments of key cabinet and other staff roles, and quite often appears to be totally incapable of keeping his rebellious colleagues in some semblance of order.
I could write thousands of words to add substance to this view and quote example after example to back up my contentions, but most of you who follow British politics will be aware of what I am talking about. For the others, please take my word for it – I ain’t wrong –and that’s coming from someone who, in my dotage, has political beliefs that are often somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun.
Today, I only want to write about Cameron’s response to the Leveson Report which was published a few says ago. The Leveson report, for the benefit of those of you who live on the Moon, is a 2,000 page report on ‘What has gone wrong with the British Press, and how to fix it’.
It is a very meaty document, in which a great many complex issues are raised, and upon which many duly considered pronouncements and recommendations have been made, by one of the most learned judges in the realm.
I don’t particularly wish to join the band of thousands who are ripping the report apart and are giving us the benefit of their particular point of view. In fact, I don’t particularly care whether the government does or doesn’t accept and implement the report’s main recommendations.
I can’t help feeling that at this stage of the proceedings – after all the press abuses that have taken place over the past decade or so – that any regulatory regime will probably do a half-way decent job, be it voluntary, or one enforced by statute.
Let’s face it –the press as we know it is on its dying legs. I doubt that it will exist in ten years’ time, and any attempts to regulate the ‘internet news’, that will inevitably replace it, will surely fail at the first hurdle. So the whole affair is rapidly becoming academic.
But yet again, Cameron has unnecessarily gone out on a limb by taking a foolish and unpopular stance which will only result in a further drop in his already dangerously low voter support. He has announced to the world that he has grave problems with the proposal that ‘independent self-regulation of the press should be ‘underpinned’ by legislation’.
Supporters and critics of the report have fallen into two predictable camps; with newspapers rubbishing its proposals and victims of phone-hacking mostly praising it. There were exceptions however as the Guardian editor welcomed ‘a bit of statute’ to set up an arbitration arm in the new regulator, and even the Daily Telegraph has been making supportive noises; while Gerry McCann – father of missing child Madeline – criticised the report for not going far enough. Early indications are that a vast majority of the public do support some form of ‘statutory underpinning’.
Before the report had been published, Cameron made it pretty clear that he would implement it in full unless its recommendations were “bonkers”. In spite of this clearly stated position, he has now come out with statements such as:
‘For the first time we would have crossed the Rubicon, writing elements of Press regulation into the law of the land.
‘We should, I believe, be wary of any legislation which has the potential to infringe free speech and a free Press.
‘In this House, which has been a bulwark of democracy for centuries, we should think very, very carefully before crossing this line.’
‘The danger is that this would create a vehicle for politicians whether today or sometime in the future to impose regulation and obligations on the press, something that Lord Justice Leveson himself wishes to avoid.’
So Mr Cameron, you would have us believe that future, democratically elected governments might be inclined to impose more controls on press freedom than that envisaged in the Leveson Report?
Well firstly, if they had a mind to, and if they had a majority so to do, what would stop them doing it? Why should any press regulation that may or may not be on the statute books, influence them one way or the other? They could just easily pass new legislation – as opposed to amending current legislation, and if they had a will to do it, it would be done – no matter what.
As for the notion that once legislation is on the books it would be ‘the beginning of the end to press freedom’ – well frankly the idea is just total hogwash. Has Cameron never heard of bad or redundant legislation being repealed by future governments?
Whatever happened to the’ window tax’ that used to be levied on the size of windows in Shakespeare’s days? Did the tax get amended by subsequent parliaments so that taxing the walls and floors and even ceilings of houses is now the order of the day?
And how about the law that required that red flag must be carried in front of every motor vehicle? Did that law get so transmogrified over time that today we are faced with the situation whereby every single vehicle requires a whole marching band to accompany it down the road?
On a more serious note, whatever happened to the law that made homosexual acts illegal and punishable by imprisonment? Did that law get expanded by subsequent parliaments to make all sexual acts against the law?
If the answer to all the above is ‘No’, then why on earth does Cameron suggest that some terrible fate awaits a law on Press control? Who gave him this line? Murdoch? Paul Dacre?
And then on top of this nonsensical scaremongering, we have another personage – no less than our esteemed Foreign Office minister, William Hague, who also has decided to jump into the ‘Leveson fray’.
(Yes – that’s’ right – the very same William Hague who told the Ecuadorians that if they didn’t release Julian Assange from their embassy, that he would send in the SAS to seize him).
Hague is now saying that:
‘The introduction of new press laws would fundamentally undermine British foreign policy’, and that the ‘Press laws would justify human rights abuses abroad!’
We are further informed by this fount of all diplomatic knowledge that apparently ‘the Russian Government was preparing to use the introduction of statutory press regulation in Britain to justify “human rights abuses” such as the jailing of members of the punk band Pussy Riot.’
I mean, you really couldn’t make this stuff up, could you?
While all this hot air and dire predictions are being bandied about by Cameron and Hague, let’s just take a couple of moments to see exactly what Leveson has to say about his prosed legislation.
I quote from his report:
“It is worth being clear what this legislation would not do.
“The legislation would not establish a body to regulate the press: it would be up to the press to come forward with their own body that meets the criteria laid down.
“…The legislation would not give any rights to Parliament, to the Government, or to any regulatory (or other) body to prevent newspapers from publishing any material whatsoever…”
“What would the legislation achieve?
“First, it would enshrine, for the first time, a legal duty on the Government to protect the freedom of the press. Second, it would provide an independent process to recognise the new self-regulatory body and reassure the public that the basic requirements of independence and effectiveness were met …”
“Despite what will be said about these recommendations by those who oppose them, this is not, and cannot be characterised as, statutory regulation of the press. What is proposed here is independent regulation of the press organised by the press, with a statutory verification process to ensure that the required levels of independence and effectiveness are met…”
After Cameron had voiced his opposition to statutory regulation, his media Secretary, Maria Miller, was interviewed by John Humphrys on BBC’s radio 4.
(Yes, the very same John Humphrys who destroyed a certain Mister Entwhistle’s career a couple of weeks ago – you know, the one that got half a million quid for 56 days work…).
She was repeatedly asked whether she thought the report was “bonkers”, given that Cameron had previously pledged to implement it in full unless its recommendations were “bonkers”. She repeatedly refused to answer.
It now transpires that Cameron has enraged both Mr Clegg and Mr Milliband by suggesting that a draft Bill to be drawn up in line with Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals would merely be a wrecking device to show how difficult it would be to turn them into law.
He had previously promised the draft measure during talks with the two other party leaders and at the time, Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband thought the Prime Minister had made a genuine offer. They were subsequently dismayed by No 10’s suggestion that Mr Cameron would use the process to undermine the case for legislation.
So just who is it that Cameron is sucking up to by insisting on this totally untenable stance? The press? Probably, but who knows the way his Eton-trained mind is working?
One thing’s for sure – he certainly isn’t sucking up to the electorate.
Maybe he’s just plain bonkers?
‘Me Dear Old Dutch…y.’
It seems that the country’s favourite granny – none other than Queenie Lizzie ‘erself – has, amongst her billions of pounds worth of assets – a nice little real estate business known to us commoners as the ‘Duchy of Lancaster’.
This liddle ‘ol ‘Duchy’, (as it is affectionately known), would appear to be a ‘good earner’ as it owns no less than seventy thousand square miles of prime UK real estate and is valued conservatively at 400 million pounds. It funds the ‘official activities’ of other members of the Royal family’, (which means it pays for the ‘excesses and wasteful extravagances’ of all the royal hangers on), as well as providing the doddery Lillybeth with a ‘private income’.
As if she really needed a private income – given that she is paid a cool 32.2 million pounds annually by the long suffering tax payers, for her to occasionally wave her royal glove at the plebs whenever she attends yet another garden party, or is entertained by her fawning minions at some naff show in the west end.
So what naughty games has Lizzie’s favourite Duchy been up to lately?
Well, amongst its countless land-owning activities, the Duchy’s Crewe estate has, for centuries past, owned 15 farms which have been held by tenant farmers, and which have been kept within the same families for generations. (Those of you who have seen ‘Downton Abbey’ will know what I mean).
But recently, the Duchy announced plans to build up to 4,000 new houses on its Crewe Estate, which would “destroy the village” of Barthomley, and at least eight of the tenant farms will be ‘erased’ by the development, depriving many farmers of their livelihoods.
The proposal includes an option to “release” several hundred acres of green -belt land to the east of Crewe.
A tenant on the estate whose family have farmed the same land for generations, said the Duchy was: ‘Selling out to the highest bidder. We’ve been long-term tenants. We and two other tenants have been put on notice or had the length of our tenancies shortened, he said. “A lot of relationships between the Duchy and their tenants have broken down. ‘The Duchy used to behave like a parent and now they act more like a pimp. We’re always told that the Queen is supposed to care about her tenants.’
Barthomley, the site of an 11th century church and home to the award-winning White Lion Inn, is a popular visitor destination.
The chair of the local action group has said that people come from outside to visit the pub, cycle and horse ride in the country lanes. The bowling club and the footpaths across the field would all disappear.
Residents in Barthomley say, ‘The Duchy seems far more interested in profit these days than it does in preserving the countryside, (heaven forbid!!). We expect them to sell the land to developers – they will be able to sell green-belt land at a premium.’
So it would seem that our beloved, caring monarch, is using the kind services of her estate owning Duchy, to build ugly housing estates on England’s green and pleasant, legally protected ‘green belt’ land, and kick out tenant farmers who have been there for centuries, and destroy an 11th century village.
This is all in the name of needing extra income to pay for her hundreds of lazy, privileged, patronising, in-bred, bastard relations.
All I can say is that she doesn’t know how lucky she. If she had been ruling over a population of angry, rebellious surfs, as her Romanov relatives used to do back in the early 20th century, then who knows where we – or she – might be today?
I doubt we would have been watching a flotilla of boats and barges sailing down the Thames, to celebrate her diamond Jubilee and cause poor old Phil the Greek to wet his pants.
“We’ve been together now for sixty years,
An’ it don’t seem a day too much,
There ain’t a lady livin’ in the land
As I’d swop for me dear old Dutch”
(with apologies to Albert Chevalier )