Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Escape - and (in)competence

I succeeded in driving out of Little Hampden today - and getting back home. First time since Sunday week. Driving round Gt Missenden and Amersham it’s difficult to believe that we still have so much snow: there’s hardly any on the ground there. I did manage to get out with a neighbour in his 4x4 on Saturday to do some emergency shopping for neighbours. But even today our track was barely passable with the car grounding in places because of the deep ruts in the snow.
As reported before, the community spirit up here in Little Hampden has been great. We had an offer of free sausages and chips at The Rising Sun on Friday evening - about 20 residents turned up and had a great time. We’ve all agreed to try to repeat the village get-together again soon - not with free food, of course.

Being stuck at home for over a week was an interesting experience. While it was a good opportunity to catch up with all sorts of things, I don’t feel I achieved a lot. Perhaps this is what house arrest is like. But the countryside under the snow was wonderful when the sun came out.

Competence - and incompetence

Potty training at 3500 miles - Neta reports she was helping potty training of her grandson via Skype: the grandson was camera shy so went offscreen to perform but encouraged by his grandmother reported success. But most of the news today is about appalling incompetence. First there was the bank directors before the select committee admitting they were totally out of control (I paraphrase). Then a report looking back after 30 years of the end of the Shah’s reign in Iran. Eight months before the he fled to be replaced by the Ayahtollah Khomeni in the bloody revolution, the UK ambassador cabled London ‘I do not believe there is a serious risk of an overthrow of the regime while the Shah is at the helm.’ Earlier he has reported ‘There has been little or no evidence of unrest among the urban poor’ and someone in the Foreign Office had written on the telegram ‘A very prescient despatch.’ The ambassador went on to represent Britain at the UN during the Falklands conflict. So public and private sectors seem to reward following the process regardless of the results.

The Times reports on the same page that Foreign and Commonwealth Office paid nearly £2.5m in bonuses last year - an average of nearly £8,500 to each employee who received a bonus. Do you think the FCO has changed so much in the last 30 years?

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