Farm Accidents and Red Tape

 The hazards of working in the agricultural sector were highlighted this week after the tragic death of Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence at his family’s farm in Ireland. In England and Wales there is almost one death per week in the agricultural industry with 56 % of all fatalities being self employed farmers . Only  1.5 % of the population are employed in Agriculture yet the sector is responsible for 15-20 % of all work fatalities  . The main causes of fatal accidents are from the use of vehicles on farms , falls from height and being struck by falling objects such as hay bales. 

Nevin Spence  died alongside  his  brother and father following a rescue attempt when the family dog fell into the underground slurry pit on their family farm. Slurry is basically cow manure which is washed in to the pit to be recycled on to the farmland at a later date . It lets off a mixture of poisonous invisible gasses such as methane , ammonia and worst of all hydrogen sulphide which can knock out your sense of smell.  One tried to rescue the other before seemingly they all were overcome by the gasses .The Health and Safety Executive in Ulster described the number of farm fatalities in recent times  as being continual and unrelenting and commented that people were no longer perceiving risk the way they used to. Why is this ?  Most farmers work for themselves with family and perhaps a few employees. 

courtesy of thedesignspace


 The HSE puts the financial squeeze on farming as one of the causes  of high fatalities.However the main issue appears to be cultural with health and safety not being valued high enough up the list of farming priorities. The most effective defence against death and serious injury is common sense according to the HSE. 


What price common sense when this month is also the month the Government announce  an intention to lower health and safety thresholds in small businesses as , apparently , a way to free small businesses from unnecessary red tape.  If its a cultural shift they are after then it’s not the cultural shift the Health and safety Executive are talking about.

Murray Mint

Firstly let me clear one thing up for Britain’s journalists. Andy Murray is not the Pub Landlord. Al Murray is the Pub Landlord and is a professional comedian whose job it is to laugh loads, smile a lot and crack jokes. Also although Al Murray has a terrible backhand he should not be criticised for this.

And on the subject of journalists – well if you want dour just tune into those sports hack forums that Sky uses as fillers between adverts on Sunday morning – and see what a bunch of boring glumsters they are! Which of course makes them hypocrites ….

Andy Murray on the other hand is a professional tennis player and as it turns out a rather good one and what we should be talking about is his magnificent triumph against the never say die Serb Djokovic in New York Guardian US open, making him the first Brit to win a Grand Slam in a lifetime or more! It must be great for the young man to have finally got the gibbon of his back.  As the second best tennis player ever to have left Scotland – I am still celebrating my magnificent triumph in the Peebles Hydro Mixed Doubles final from sometime in the 1990s and I don’t mean with a lemon soda either – people still ask me why I didn’t go on to better things so I know how Andy feels …

It was of course a wonderful night even though after another 5 hours of overtime  on the sofa, a visit to DFS beckons – are these Sofa boys Britain’s luckiest retailers after the Olympics and Paralympics??

Murray has already been asked about knighthood and more importantly the Beeb personality of the year. We pride ourselves however in this blog on tackling the elephant in the room which is the polo shirt question.

It is time for the Sir Fred laurel to be renamed? Should Andy bring out his own line of sportswear – what better than the prickly thistle as a logo?

What … oh that’s been done before….Perhaps the right emoticon would do it…

It could all turn nasty at the BBC Personality of the Year with Wiggins supporters turning up in Fred Perry gear and the Murray Mob sporting their own proud logo …………..

London 2012 – the final chapter

It may be bizarre to begin any freshly cooked retrospective of London 2012, by starting off on the streets of Manchester -but that is where my personal Olympian odyssey began. The Olympic footie of course began before the official ceremony and along we went to the inaugural GB v Senegal Match at Casa Ferguson.

On a balmy summer’s night – remember those – we arrived at Manchester Piccadilly en route to the match to be pleasantly accosted by a sea of beige and purple our first encounter with Games Makers – not only were these people pleasant – they were everywhere and almost as incredibly knew exactly where the gratis buses to Old Trafford departed from.

The Beige and Purples


Already we were in a good mood – amazing what good humour and decent logistics can do – and David Gill take note – better than they are on United Match days!



Inside the ground, frankly the crowd were at a loss about what to sing, or chant, or do because the only GB footie song seemed to be GB GB GB GB …  Fortunately the national anthem rescued the situation and I have never heard  Queenie’s song being some more lustily at any sporting event – clearly something was stirring! The football was unremarkable save for the unique spectacle of an Old Trafford crowd going bananas when Craig Bellamy, then a Liverpool player, scored the opener! Something stirred again!

After Danny Boyle’s wackily British opening ceremony we headed down to London for some Volleyball – a day trip made possible by late trains being laid on until 1:30 in the morning. The same good humour marked Games Makers in the South, and with most of the security being handled superbly by our chaps and chapettes in Khaki, spectator life could not have been made more easy, although some of the boys and girls in camouflage fatigues were a bit more difficult to find. Inside the Earls Court complex even though none of the teams were GB, Union Jacks were borne and worn with pride, and I felt that for the first time  in a semi generation we the people had at last reclaimed the Union Jack from all manner of right wing thuggeries.

The People’s Flag

It is impossible to do the Sport justice but having talked so far only about volleyball and scratch football here is my PB attempt… For me the ones that resonated most strongly were Sir Brad’s populous win, Laura Trott’s second “on fire gold”, Gold Ahoy, celebrating Mo’s second Gold with close friends at home, golden girl Jess delivering, Kath Copeland’s stamp moment, Nicola Adam’s ground breaking uppercuts, Jade Jones joyous celebration after taking   Taekwondo gold, dressage crowds going ape, Ben Ainslie’s Dark Knight moment, Andy Murray’s moment of tennis epiphany when he and we knew he would, the tears of Ellie Simmonds, Sarah Storey’s equalling of Dame TG’s records , the Weirwolf’s pack of medals and Jonnie Peacock’s triumphant  sprint victory, not to mention the madness of murder ball …..Doubtless you have your own…Boris Johnson in his closing speech at the London 2012 Parade brought  “the tear sodden, juddering climax” to an appropriate end Boris Speech

Outside of the pure sport the biggest moment of transmogrification was the acceptance at last of Paralympians as merely athletes with additional challenges. It was great to see too that all our golden Nlympians were commemorated in stamp and post-box too…Find a Gold post box


The Wiggo Mailbox

London 2012 the moment when we Britons became Great again!

Apple-Samsung Trial

Well as a blawg we are compelled to write about legal issues from time to time so here’s our take on the Apple Samsung patents infringement trial. Should you be bothered to read this article? Well if you own or use an iPhone or its Samsung equivalent or an iPad or its Samsung equivalent you should be. In the interests of journalistic balance, and for our many South Korean readers, you should be interested if you use a Galaxy Smartphone or its Apple equivalent or a Galaxy tablet or its Apple lookalike. There …

Unless you have been living in a cave for the last two weeks or more likely been isolated for treatment in one of the new UK weather depression clinics that have recently flooded the UK market here’s the story….

In a Seoul Central District Court – in a magnificent fence sitting exercise – both cyber giants were allowed to emerge only mildly bloodied  – Apple lost out to the tune of 40m won and were barred from dealing various iPhones and IPads in South Korea and Samsung were also fined 25 m won  and told to stop selling the almost obsolete Galaxy S2 in South Korea. So both companies have won but still ended up as losers. The key fact perhaps is that 40m won equates to £22,000 …….so why the excitement? For more read here The Guardian – Apple and Samsung in Seoul

Well at almost the same time in a court room in San Jose the same issues were debated with a slightly different result with the American jury finding in favour of Apple with a whopping $1 billion dollar fine for the Korean boys and girls – yes that’s a trillion won! As Samsung are a major supplier of Apple components it will be interesting to see what happens with the next Samsung invoice! The Beeb says BBC on San Jose Apple v Samsung

There is nothing new about tech companies sueing one another – in fact it’s a way of life in the “Valley” – one of the debating points in the US trial was over who thought up rounded corners on rectangles – haven’t these people seen beer mats for heavens sake ?? So in short it’s about money although some people claim it may increase innovation.

The elephant in the room in all of this is of course Google.  The Google mobile operating system Android is what drives all the Samsung Phones and, HTCs for that matter, and is an integral part of the User experience, which is what the Apple case has been all about, so it also potentially hampers Google’s increasingly powerful strokes in the Smartphone Ocean!

What will happen next? Well Samsung have just won a patent case against Apple in Japan and surprise surprise have appealed the US decision – expect more!

I am Pho

North South Beers

Unlike London, where there is a burgeoning Vietnamese community and restaurant scene, Manchester has yet to achieve Viet Vet status so I Am Pho(IAP) in the centre of   China Town is a welcome addition to Downtown Manc. Thanks to La Feld for the tip Kate Feld


It’s in a bright, white basement, with Radio Vanilla bouncing off the walls, and IAP is definitely more Diner than Dining so may not be everyone’s bowl of Pho. However the two young knowledgeable guys who run it rightly focus on efficient, friendly, relaxed service, and delivering vibrant fresh food. Although IAP décor nods slightly in the direction of Vietnam, with the odd print of Ha Long Bay, it wisely avoids the trap of going for mockney colonial at the expense of the food.



So the food – we had three starters below which left to right were Thit Nuong – barbecued pork, Goi Cuon Tom – Vietnamese or salad rolls of shrimp, rice vermicelli and fresh herbs wrapped in rice paper, and Bahn Cuon – steamed rolls of rice pasta containing minced pork and wood ear mushrooms. You get a couple of dipping sauces   – a sweetish one – and a satay style one based on peanut butter and hoisin. All three dishes worked for me but the Bahn Cuon – although the right side of gelatinous – probably only appeals to Dim Sum lovers, and Peanut Peanut Satay in my view would work better with the pork skewers but hey its different ….


Thit Nuong – Goi Cuon Tom – Bahn Cuon


No point in going to IAP without giving the Pho a go, although actually it’s pronounced Fuh and yes it is fun to eat!  My media naranja went for the classic Pho Bo Tai – beef and flat rice noodles – and I opted for the Bun Bo Hue – a pork beef combo with rice vermicelli. As with most forms of cooking the key to great flavours is the stock which as its centre stage here is outstanding, piping hot, densely flavoured, aromatic and lots of it! The PHOnomenon is further enlivened by a plate of red chillies, bean sprouts, lime, saw-leaf and Asian (Sweet) basil. There is also a selection of season- it- to-taste table condiments many of which are home produced including fish sauce, hoisin sauce, beef paste, chilli oil and sweet chilli sauce which allow you to achieve your own personal yin and yang!!

Bun Bo Hue


Chopsticks in one hand and soup spoon/ladle in the other seemed to be the favoured technique of the regulars but its free format dining really. Drinks wise we savoured a few Viet Beers – if you prefer malty go for Hue or Hanoi and Saigon for something Pilsnerish. As we also plumped for a mid ranking Australian red our bill came in South of £60 but the food cost is half that.

It will be interesting to see how the Vietnamese scene develops here and whether it morphs in the direction of Haute Indochine as it has done London and San Francisco. In the meantime I am Pho, rather like its country’s flag is the Lone Star in Manchester Zentral, and very definitely worthy of a go!



44, George Street, Manchester M1 4HF and 0161 236 1230.

No website but they’re on Facebook and Twitter IAP on Twitter

Olympics 2012 Quiz – key words and phrases of London 2012

  1.  Usain Bolt – the best ever ambassador for ladies handball in Sweden.
  2. Spike – a smash at Volleyball
  3. “Take it up to 38” – what our brave rowers have to do to win gold in terms of stroke rate
  4. Lactic Acid – the acid of choice for most 2012 athletes making it the most drug free of recent times – well apart from that bloke  that was thrown out of the women’s shot putt.
  5. Chimp – the emotional part of our brain that needs to be trained/fought/controlled in order to achieve elite performance – see BBC Steve Peters whose theory it is, or in less erudite form, in one of my earlier blogs. He’s “Head Coach” to Wiggo, Sir Chris, Pendlebum and many others.
  6. Piaffe – we’re very good at doing them and its something to do with prancing horses and a major reason why we gold medalled in Dressage. For real pub bores courtesy of Wikipedia it’s   a dressage movement where the horse is in a highly collected and cadenced trot, in place or nearly in place. The piaffe was originally used in battle to keep the horse focused, warm, and moving, ready to move forward into battle.
  7. Derny – the funny little motorised bike used to pace cyclists in the Keirin –that’s the race Sir Chris won Gold Medal 6 in! The reason the chap in the priest outfit sits upright is to create low wind resistance to allow the cyclists to slipstream. You might have thought that Keirin was the name of the first “priest” to ride a Derny – in actual fact it’s a Japanese word as this style of racing first originated there! For more BBC – the Keirin
  8.  “There’s one very good “obscure nation of your choice” in lane 7” – a phrase used to demonstrate inside knowledge normally in athletics – good names to insert would be Tajikistani, Vanuatuan, Nice Korean or Naughty Korean. The person using this phrase probably also knows a lot about Piaffes.
  9. A bullet – first place in a yachting race
  10. To Di World  – a Jamaican dancehall move that has become the Swedish Ladies Handball Ambassador’s signature celebration

10 Best Olympic Commentators

My aim here is to achieve as many sporting clichés and bad puns in as short a space as possible….

1. Hugh Porter – the patrician doyen of cycling managed to perfectly capture the hothouse (well its 28 degrees C after all!) atmosphere of the velodrome! The Scotsman – Hugh Porter

2. Chris Boardman – the “Professor” of cycling provided a suitably balanced and intelligent foil to Porter’s splendid gusto.

3. Mark Cavendish – a late addition to the cycling team who added a refreshingly chirpy presence in the cycling pundit box. His best tale? How teammate Jason Kenny lent him one of his gold medals in Beijing so he could cop a free upgrade on the flight back with BA! Daily Mail – Mark Cavendish

4. Garry Herbert – suitably bravura performance as Britannia ruled the Wakes in rowing at Eton Dorney.

5. Dan Topolski – gold medal in the posh commentator class – he’s the other rowing voice – in a somewhat crowded field involving La Balding and anyone on the equestrian team…

6. Steve Redgrave – well he has to be on any Top list because he’s Sir Steve but his predictions were unerringly accurate and delivered with less bullsh*t than anyone else! BBC Sir Steve and Sir Chris

7. Clare Balding – probably usurped a lot of bigger names as best “front of house” for her performance at a very flat GB swimming pool. We could forgive her, her occasionally luvvie moments at Greenwich, as seemingly all of her horsey mates won all the medals. It is her first love after all – Daily Telegraph Clare Balding

8. Ian Thorpe – the Thorpedo wins the gold medal for quirkiness both in his somewhat offbeat pundit style and his anti-Lineker dress sense. He also touchingly, as a thank you to GB, went down to Tooting Bec Lido to give some freebie swimming lessons.

9. Jake Humphries – probably his coming off age as a presenter as he dovetailed perfectly with Lord Cav, Jamie Staff and Messrs Boardman and Porter. Anyway they won more gold medals than any other team so they probably deserve more plaudits! An important link in the cycling chain.

10. Richie Woodhall – almost restrained by standards elsewhere but you could sense deep pride as Britain with three golds delivered its finest knock out performance in a generation as well as the first Woman’s gold – ever! BBC Sport


10 best 2012 Olympic Quotes and Tweets

Our personal bests so far:

1. “We’re  gonna be on a stamp!” Kath Copeland after winning Gold The Guardian

2. The “Head Coach” our elite athletes’ nickname for the teams senior Sports Psychologist Dr. Steve Peters The Indy

3. “Great to see some genuine Olympic legacy today. A whole generation of Eton schoolboys will get to enjoy those improved rowing facilities @barneyronay” Barney Ronay

4. “ We’re hurting so much inside right now but it means so much hearing how these guys are cheering. It’s going to be the highlight of my life.” The Guardian  Iain Percy on the Gold medal being snatched from them at the death.

5. “This is the way to come back from the Wimbledon final. I’ll never forget it. It’s the biggest win of my life” Andy Murray after thrashing Roger Federer in straight sets The Guardian

6. “ Now I have to go to Rio and go for five” an insatiable Bradley Wiggins The Mirror

7.  “I am one step closer to being a legend” says Usain Bolt The Indy

8. “ I want to enjoy the moment…” Jessica Ennis Daily Telegraph

9. Chris Hoy Thanks Chemical Brothers And Hot Pants For London 2012 Olympic Gold Medal” Huffington Post

10. It’s times like this you are supposed to come out with something clever but I can’t think of anything,” Ben Ainslie wins the prize for honesty BBC


Fighting the Chimp

Doubtless there will be many people who rightfully claim to have been working in “tandem” to Wiggo’s brilliant ride yesterday in his Golden time trial.

One of the more interesting is the Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters Steve Peters BBC who works closely with Wiggins and many other elite athletes.

It’s all about training or controlling your chimp brain which is emotional versus your more rational adult and human brains. He has worked closely also with Victoria Pendelton and Sir Chris Hoy. Here is a longer discourse in Dr. Steve’s interview with   British Cycling British Cycling Steve Peters

Let’s hope the Chimps are kept in tonight………….

Why we should stop bashing the bankers…

In one of his many trumpetings, to establish himself as the next Conservative party leader, Boris Johnson launches a missive aimed at the Tory Party faithful in his personal mouth piece the Torygraph Stop Bashing the Bankers . His article starts off with a relatively sane championing of London as a technology hub – something I will return to in future posts – and then uses that to springboard into why we need banks so we should stop bashing them – duh?

How stupid does Boris think we are? It is screamingly clear – if not to Boris and his gilded chums – that Banks have become bloated to a point of inefficiency and incompetence further compromised by serious doubts over their honesty. In short banks who do not or cannot lend money with integrity have failed to function – as banks. Banking reform should therefore be seen not simply as end in itself but as a means to stoke economic growth – imagine building societies who start to offer mortgages , banks who lend to small business ………….again. News like this could have made it into the Olympics opening ceremony!

You know we are in trouble when even noted free  marketers like Alan Greenspan – the ex Fed chairman – have been calling for banking reform for some time, as he does here in Bloomberg  Greenspan Says U.S. Should Consider Breaking Up Large Banks

As I have mentioned previously you don’t actually have to be Nouriel Roubini to believe we are heading for a “Perfect Storm” although it probably helps. Here is the great man in both video and print in the Telegraph Nouriel Roubini. If anything like this comes to pass we can all expect to have to pony up more public money to bail out the banks again.

I could go on but that would be bashing – about the spreading of the LIBOR scandal as RBS appear to be putting their hand up too in the Indy – RBS could face Libor fines, admits Hester – Business News – Business – The Independent. And then there’s weak corporate governance, bankers pay – did you know that 238 code staff in Barclays took home more than £4m in average pay as Aditya Chakrabortty stated in his excellent piece in the Guardian recently……..

So let’s stick with the core problem which is banking reform – why can’t we split the casino operations – that’s investment banking – and retail banking? And why can’t we do it now when so much public money is underwriting our Banks? The conditions are set perfectly for banking reform. Although good things may come out of the Vickers report it is already clear that there are moves to adulterate some of its proposals The Guardian and timing also matters.

Time to stop bashing bankers and start bashing those who lobby for inaction or those refuse to take the right actions on the big issues of the day ……..