Some policies are directly targeted to fix a problem, other policies maybe aimed at indicating a direction of travel. I think the measures in France to ban domestic flights on short routes is the later.

Internal routes that can be flown in less than two-and-a-half hours, are prohibited[1]. That can be done because high-speed rail transport offers a means of connecting certain French cities.

The calculation being that greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by this control. There had been many calls for even stricter restrictions on flying in France. Lowering carbon emissions is a priority for many European governments. Sovereignty is primary in this respect. A State can take measures to control domestic flying much more readily than they can internationally. Connecting flights will not be changed by this new legislation.

High-speed trains do take passengers from airlines and take cars off the roads. Where a mature rail network exists, there are significant benefits in focusing on rail transport between cities. Often rail and air are complementary, with major high-speed rail stations at airports.

Given the rhetoric surrounding the “climate emergency” these restrictions are a modest measure that will make only a small difference to carbon emissions. The symbolism is significant. It’s a drive in a transport policy direction that may go further in time and other States may do the same.

Flying between Paris and Lyon doesn’t make much sense when a good alternative is available. Flying between London and Birmingham doesn’t make much sense either. However, changes like these need to be data-driven transformations. There needs to be a measure reduction in greenhouse gas emissions because of their implementation. For example, displacing travellers onto the roads would be a negative outcome.

The imperative of greenhouse gas emission reduction means creative and new measure will happen. It’s far better for aviation to adapt to this framework of operations rather than push back. The direction of travel is set.



Brexit “outrage” as The Express newspaper put it. Headlines like this are signs of shear desperation. It seems every time something goes wrong, which it regularly does, the call comes out from Brexit supporters – it must be Remainers or the House of Commons or Lords or civil servants or large corporations or lefty liberals thwarting the great Brexit plan. Noting, of course, that there never was a plan in the first place.

“Take Back Control” has become the hollowest political slogan in British history. Rather than dimming the light of fervent Brexit advocates these repeated setbacks just pump them up. This kind of thinking is both sad and dangerous. It has a deep flavour of paranoia.

This month, shocks from the Conservative Party’s council election meltdown are another trigger for the political right to agitate. Shouting: bring back Boris Johnson is unsurprising. The dreamy magical thinking is that because he delivered a big parliamentary majority in 2019, somehow, he, and he alone, can do the same in 2024. Other conservatives are positioning themselves for the next run at being Prime Minister.

I’m not one to totally dismiss the Johnson proposition. Naturally, it would be calamitous and beyond reason but that has not been an impenetrable barrier since 2016. Brexit, as a happening, delights in causing chaos. There’re political thinkers who invite chaos and disruption to free potentially creative energies. They’re not a bit concerned about the impact of that approach on the average person.

Brexit continues to hobble aviation in UK. A large percentage of the people who worked in UK aviation, before the COVID pandemic, were EU nationals. A lot have gone. Now, it’s often the case that when EU nationals apply for jobs in the UK, the aviation industry must turn them down[1].

The legislative proposal to remove retained EU laws has created yet more uncertainty for UK’s aviation sector. The threat remains regardless that it may be in the process of being watered down. Debates in the House of Lords focused on democratic scrutiny of the process where significant changes are planned[2]. Ministers continue to wish to use arbitrary powers to make changes. There’s ambition in the policies advanced while, at the same time, there’s a wish to look all ways at once.

For a lot of aviation topics, the UK has stated it will continue to use European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) rules and guidance. Although, this is eminently sensible in an international setting it does suggest that Brexit benefits, if they exist at all, have been greatly overstated.

Given the tabloid media jitters seen in recent headlines, it’s perfectly clear that Brexit is a million miles from being “done”. A bad idea remains a bad idea, however it’s dressed up.

Expect turbulence right up to the next General Election. Change is not assured. People will have to campaign hard to make it happen. In comment on the change of the crown, “The country is in a waiting room” said historian Simon Schama.

[1] One major airline – We have had to turn down a huge number [8,000] of EU nationals because of Brexit. Another has blamed the British government’s post-Brexit immigration constraints on the labour market for fuelling staff shortages.


Eurovision – the result

Time for a bit of post-match analysis. We can have all sorts of theories about what entertainment is but last night it was very much on the box[1]. It was Liverpool. It was in solidarity with Ukraine. It was Europe and beyond. When Reith put it that the BBC’s role is to: inform, educate, entertain, he must have had Eurovision in mind. Connecting broadcasters together, in unity across Europe is a wonderful achievement. Every year we are reminded of the things that draw us together.

For all the devices we carry around and snap five second glimpses of the world, they cannot compete with a large scale, live, in the moment experiences, shared with millions of other people. Especially when that massive event springs positivity from every direction.

Not only that, but the talent on displays in Liverpool this year was astonishing. Fine that one or two acts tipped the balance of the crazy scales to the limits. The bulk of the acts were briming over with enthusiasm, excitement, and electricity.

To the technical staff who made the staging work – what an incredible job. The ability to create impact and spectacle is a great gift. And no doubt, extremely hard work.

Eurovision has taken place with a war raging in Europe. Lives are being lost. Communities are being devastated. This is a good reason to remind ourselves that the world can be a better place and that better place is worth fighting for.

As per previous years, the voting system is a mysterious concoction of strange machinations. As complex and opaque as a social media algorithm. As the votes roll-in so expectation builds. It’s cruel too. Sudden leaps from single figure votes to hundreds of votes can be seconds away.

It was sad to see the UK entry fall by the wayside. To me it was a good song, but it peaked at average.

I was converted to Sweden. It’s not easy to put into words. The story telling wasn’t overblown. However, the act drew my attention like a powerful magnet to a chunk of steel. As the staging ascended so the song climbed. Its pacing didn’t race. It burrowed deeper into my mind.

Sweden’s Loreen had a magical attraction that captivated both judges and the public. Commiserations to Finland. Loreen is a worthy winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023. 

For me the star of the show was a song. A song that is so inspiring in difficult times. Singing this song is open to everyone and the moment you sing the song, the words become true. You’ll Never Walk Alone[2] with hope in your heart. Thank you, Gerry & The Pacemakers.  Thank you, Liverpool. 

[1] Or on the tube as we once said, when it was a tube. It’s TV. 



Eccentricity, excess and exuberance. That’s entertainment. Eurovision is a big mark on the calendar. Each year it’s getting bigger. It has songs and it has a contest and much more besides.

This year’s coverage is a bit OTT. Now, I like the occasional bacon and eggs for breakfast, but I don’t want it for lunch and dinner too. And for supper I’d like anything but bacon and eggs. Media’s May menu is a video age version of Monty Python’s Spam sketch. That’s how I’m getting to feel about the wall-to-wall coverage. Yes, you can have too much of a good thing.

That’s what’s special about Eurovision. It comes but once a year in a blaze of musical colour and preposterous lyrics. Then it’s gone only to rise like a phoenix in the year to come.

This scribbling is no criticism of the massive stage set and inventive use of every form of graphical illusion. Even some music. Liverpool is proving to be a number one venue for this extravaganza. The stage set and the mastery of its technical complexities are outstanding.

Please, no more Beatles illusions. We get it.

Earlier this evening, BBC Radio 4 gave us proof that Artificial intelligence (AI) has a way to go. It’s attempts at writing funny jokes are beyond a joke. With that in mind, maybe the writers of the hosts scripts for the semi-finals were using AI. I’d cringe even if I didn’t hide behind the sofa. I know British humour doesn’t always translate well but it’s better if it’s aimed at real humans.

Musicality is all well and good, it’s the weirdness that makes an act stand out. Staging a whole song around Edgar Allan Poe[1] is mind bending. Well, you might say, why not? I wish Austria well with their catchy use of Poe, Poe, and more Poe.

Australia is not in Europe. Who said that? It doesn’t matter. They are 100% welcome. Especially when they bring a regular rock rampage to the stage. Their efforts are not going to win. That much doesn’t matter. Their stadium rock show number is still going to do well.

I not sure why but my soft spot goes to Belgium. That guy has got a star quality that shines bright. Is he a contemporary version of Boy George? Not sure. Then there’s Cyprus. At the other end of the scale, he’s auditioning to be a Greek God. Thunder and lightning. Very Very Exciting (to quote Queen).

Sweden has the drama. It’s a mega blast that dominates the arena. She could be the winner.

Saturday evening should be a memorable triumph. Let’s hope it is for the sake of unity and good fun.

POST: Liverpool is twinned with Cologne in Germany. I’ve always found that a good match. Two major cities with a strong sense of their identity and place in the world.



Even in the early 1980s the “rubber bumper” MG sports cars were viewed as not quite authentic. The original MG Midgets had a cute simplicity. I had two MG Midgets. Both were of the 1500cc Triumph engine “rubber bumper” variety. The bumper was a change to meet regulations for export to the US car market. To some enthusiasts this was an ugly and unnecessary adornment to a much-loved traditional British sports car.

The Midget was an affordable little sports car that was “modern” for the 1970s. It was fun and straightforward. Nothing complicated. Eminently repairable. The car was made for the twisting and turning back roads of Somerset and Dorset. Those hidden single-track roads with grass growing down the middle and shaggy green hedges that overhang.

Both with the silky yellow one and the sharp black one, I had a couple of incidents.

One was hurtling down a road with steep dirt banks on either side. Now, that’s fine when there’s plenty of visibility and the roads are dry. In this case the narrow lane, linking farms and villages was regularly plastered with mud. Cows were herded up and down the road on their way to and from milking. When applying a car’s brakes hard on a surface like that the results are likely to be not what you want. Slipping and sliding is going to happen, and it did.

My cherished yellow MG hit the bank and didn’t stop immediately. It slid along the road on its side slowly soaking up its energy and leaving me watching the sky go by through my side window. Not a nice feeling. As the car stopped, hanging on my seatbelt, my adrenaline kicked in. I was out of there like a shot. Pushing the driver’s door up into the air, I climbed out and surveyed the damage.

Both my pride and the car were wounded. Fortunately, not as much as I feared. Surprisingly, the car was relatively easy to push back onto its four wheels. It drove without a problem. What was a problem was a nasty rash of scrapes and piles of mud. Yes, I was lucky. Such an “incident” with a soft-top car could have been extremely unpleasant if the car had gone all the way over. My MG didn’t have a roll bar.

Another incident that was a real heart stopper happened on a motorway. This time it was unavoidable. Driving west on the M40, late one night, what I remember is a bright light to my left. This was the car’s headlamp beam reflected off a running deer that bounced off the car’s wing. There was an instantaneous flash and then a loud thump. At the time I had no idea what I’d hit. In shock, I slowed and stopped the car on the motorway hard shoulder. It was a cold drab wet night. Much the worst of times to be stuck on the side of a motorway. I got out and walked around the car. Despite the drama of the event the car looked relatively unscathed. A dented left wing.

By the time I’d stopped I was well ahead of the place where the impact took place. My instinct was that I needed to tell someone what had happened. Maybe there was a dead or dying animal on the embankment way back behind me. Seeing the car was drivable, I set off to find a telephone. No mobile phones then. Eventually, I got to inform the police and get the car patched up to continue my journey westward to Cheltenham.

There was a lot of enjoyable happy driving of my little sports car. However, I have to say, for all the fun a 1970s MG Midget is not a good car to have any kind of serious incident. Those were different times and I have been lucky.

Head in Sand

Well, it’s happened. A debate. Are we any wiser? Well, not much. So many good points are raised but so many good points are dismissed by current Government Ministers. So deep are they in a mess of their own making.

On Monday, 24 April at 16:30, a UK Parliamentary debate[1] took place on the impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU). This was consideration of e-petition[2] 628-226 relating to the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU. On the day of this debate this petition had attracted over 178 000 signatures. Petition debates are “general” debates which allow UK Members of Parliament (MPs) from all political parties to discuss important issues raised by the public.

The petition reasons that the benefits that were promised, if the UK exited the EU have not been delivered. Not at all. Although this fact might be self-evident it never-the-less warranted a timely debate. Public support for Brexit is falling as every day that goes by.

The petitioners called upon the UK Government to hold a public inquiry to assess the impact that Brexit has had on this country and its people. Given that other less impactful events have been subject to a public inquiry it seems only right that Brexit be investigated.

The call for an independent public inquiry, free from ideology and the opinions of vested interests is only fair, right, and proper in an accountable democratic 21st Century country. Transparency is a mark of good governance.

Today’s, Brexit is damaging the UK’s economy, opportunities for young people and rights of individuals. It’s well past the time that the people of the UK were told the full story. There needs to be a way out of this mess.

In the debate the point was made that the two biggest Westminster political parties continue to be committed to Brexit despite the harm that it’s doing to the UK. A long list of disbenefits were rattled off as speakers paced through the evidence. A long list that is growing.

The Government’s current approach is to ask UK Parliamentarians to stop talking about Brexit. It’s the ultimate ostrich with its head in the sand[3]. Brexit is a gigantic strategic mistake. Unfortunately, there remains a significant number of English politicians so entrenched in the mythology of Brexit that change is slow in coming. The public are way ahead of the politicians.

Stereotyping people as being in one camp or another, with the aim of continuing to divide the public is the unscrupulous tool of those people without a rational or coherent argument to make. It’s clear, progress will not be made until Ministers recognise that Brexit was a mistake. We may have to wait until after the next UK General Election before a real change is possible. Let’s hope that day comes soon.

POST 1: UK Press reports on the debate MPs debate consequences of Brexit for first time | The Independent MPs debate Brexit impact ‘for the first time since leaving the EU’ | The National Brexit: MPs call for public inquiry into impact of leaving EU – BBC News

POST 2: Brexit is a drag on the UK Sunak Grins And Bears It As Boss Hits Out At Brexit’s ‘Drag On Growth’ | HuffPost UK Politics (



[3] It’s a myth ostriches bury their head in the sand. Though this isn’t true, Ostrich Syndrome is a popular belief. It’s avoidance coping that people use to manage uncomfortable feelings or rather, not deal with them.

Cider pigs

Out the back of the farmhouse was a scruffy orchard. It was through the east facing garden, then over an awkward cobbled together fence. The orchard was an L-shape with a soggy wet depression in the middle. The trees at the top end of the orchard had long since gone by the time of my childhood. The lower part of the orchard was populated with the most venerable but neglected cider apple trees. Never pruned with that crusty, mossy look of years of struggle against the elements.

There was no money in growing cider apples in the 1960s and besides the ones that still stood were probably originally grown for homemade home consumed cider. The orchard was a piggery.  Several well-made timber pig huts stood in the field. Except for one. In a corner there was strange construction made of used railway sleepers, arranged vertically, and covered with a round tin roof. It was the only hut that was not moveable. A rough concrete floor kept the railway sleepers in place.

Now, that was a good set-up. There’s a thing that most pigs like and it’s ripe cider apples. Trouble is that they don’t know when to stop. So, when they fell, we had to find something to do with them by the bucket load. For us boys, that wasn’t a problem. Cider apple[1] wars were a feature of the autumn.

If I’d taken a shine to farming in those early years, it would have been keeping pigs. That orchard was always as carved up as a fresh battle ground. Nothing more satisfying to a happy pig than rooting through the dirt. In good weather making our way across the ground was easy. In bad weather getting stuck in the sticky clay mud was guaranteed. The thick mud was ideal in the summer. Wallows would form so the pigs could do what they do best when it gets hot.

All that said, I can’t imagine domesticated pigs in any other setting than outdoors. As I drive around, it makes me pleased to see so many examples of outdoor reared animals. Pigs are inquisitive and intelligent animals that deserve the freedom to roam around in an open space.

At one time or another, I kept a British Saddleback[2], a Landrace[3], and a Large White[4] pig.  The Large White pigs could be a handful if the pig took a disliking to you. Saddlebacks were the best when it came to temperament. Agreeable, content, and excellent mothers.

My brothers and I were being tutored in animal husbandry from a young age. The principle aim was not to pamper a pet but to look after the pigs with the aim of having as big a litter of piglets as possible. That’s where profit lay. We kept records of the cost of the pig food, bedding needs and everything that went into our mini farming enterprises.

Encouraged by my parents, my brother and I were often in competition.  I remember once sitting up late into the evening with a sow and being so proud of having helped 14 piglets into the world alive. This could be a hazardous business in a confined space of a small pig hut. The job was making sure the piglets found their way to their mother’s teat and didn’t get squashed on the way. If they let out a loud squeal the sow could move and could unwittingly squash one of the litter.

In my mind, Somerset cider is tied with pigs. The two go hand in hand.





Light touch folly

Light touch regulation. Now, there’s a senseless folly. It’s a green light to bad actors wherever they operate. It’s like building a medieval castle’s walls half as thick as planned to save money in the belief that enemies are too stupid to work it out. Saying that the public good far less important than the speed of developments is unwise to say the least.

The INTERNET arrived in the UK in the late 1980s. Now, it seems strange to recount. Clunky Personal Commuters (PCs) and basic e-mail were the hight of sophistication as we moved from an office of typewriters and Tipp-Ex to the simple word processor[1]. Generations will marvel at the primitive nature of our former working lives. Getting scissors and cutting out paper text and pasting it into a better place in a draft document. Tippexing out errors and scribbling notes in the spaces between sentences. Yet, that’s what we did when first certifying many of the commercial airliners in regular use across the globe (Boeing 777. Airbus A320). Desktop computers took centre stage early in the 1990s, but administrations were amid a transition. Clickable icons hit screens in 1990. Gradually and progressively new ways of working evolved.

Microsoft Windows 95 and the INTERNET were heralded as the dawn of a new age. Not much thought was given to PCs being used for criminal or malicious purposes. No more thought than the use of a typewriter to commit crime. That doesn’t mean such considerations were ignored it just means that they were deemed a lower-level importance.

In 2023, everyday there’s a new warning about scammers. Even fake warnings about scammers coming from scammers with the aim of scamming. Identifying whose real and whose a fake is becoming ever more difficult. Being asked to update subscriptions that were never opened in the first places is a good indicator that there’s some dirty work afoot. Notices that accounts are about to be blocked referring to accounts that don’t exist is another.

In 30-years the INTERNET has taken on the good and bad of the greater world. It hasn’t become a safer place. In fact, it’s become a bit like the Wild West[2].

Our digital space continues to evolve but has nowhere near reached its potential. It’s like those great western plains where waggons headed out looking for rich new lands. In any towns on the way the shop fronts are gleaming and inviting but if you look around the back there’s a desperate attempt to keep bad actors at bay.

Only a fraction of the suspicious, emails, texts, and messages get reported. People unconsciously pile up a digital legacy and rarely clean out the trash that accumulates. A rich messiness of personal information can lie hidden to the eyes but just bellow the digital surface.

When politicians and technocrats talk of “light touch regulation” it’s as if none of this matters. In the race to be first in technology, public protection is given a light touch. This can’t be a good way to go.

[1] Still available – Tipp-Ex Rapid, Correction Fluid Bottle, High Quality Correction Fluid, Excellent Coverage, 20ml, Pack of 3, white.


Pointless Brexit

Democracy’s malleable frame. I don’t recall the people of the UK being given a referendum on joining a trade block in the Pacific. Nice thou it is to have good relations with trading nations across the globe it seems strange that the other side of the world is seen as good and next door is seen as bad. It’s like a person looking through a telescope through the wrong end.

Back on 23rd June 2016, voters in the UK were asked if Britain should leave the EU. No one really knew what “leave” meant as all sorts of, what now turns out to be blatant lies were told to the public. The words “customs union” were not spoken in 2016. If they were it was in a tone of – don’t worry about all that, we hold all the cards, nothing will change.

Today, UK sectors from fishing to aviation, farming to science report being bogged down in ever more red tape, struggling to recruit staff, and racking up losses. Sure, Brexit is not the only trouble in the world, but it was avoidable unlike the pandemic and Putin’s war.

We (UK) became a country that imposed sanctions on itself. A unique situation in Europe. If some people are surprised, we have significant problems the really ought to examine what happened in 2016. It’s a textbook example of how not to do thing. The events will probably be taught in schools and universities for generations to come as a case of national self-harm.

Democracy is invaluable but when a government dilutes a massive question into a simple YES or NO, they dilute democracy too. It’s the territory that demigods thrive in. Mainly because this approach encourages the polarisation that then drives ever more outlandish claims about opponents. The truth gets buried under a hail of campaign propaganda, prejudice, and misinformation.

What Brexit has stimulated. A growth sector, I might say. Is the blame game. Now, when things go wrong, UK politicians can always blame those across the other side of the Channel. Standing on the cliffs in Dover its easy to survey the mess and point a finger out to sea.

If some people’s motivation for voting for Brexit was to control borders and stopping immigration the failures are so obvious that they hardly need to be pointed out. Yet, politicians persist with they myth that a solution is just around the corner if only UK laws were made ever more draconian. A heavier hand, criminalisation and the blame game are not solutions. These acts will merely continue the round of calamities and failures.

Brexit has unlocked a grand scale of idiocy. The solution is to consign this dogma to the past.

Radio on the hill

We take radio for granted. I’m listening to it, now. That magic of information transferred through the “ether[1]” at the speed of light and without wires. This mystery was unravelled first in the 19th century. Experimentation and mathematics provided insights into electromagnetics.

The practical applications of radio waves were soon recognised. The possibility of fast information transfer between A and B had implications for the communications and the battlefield.

It’s unfortunate to say that warfare often causes science to advance rapidly. The urgency to understand more is driven by strong needs. That phrase “needs must” comes to mind. We experienced this during the COVID pandemic. Science accelerated to meet the challenge.

It wasn’t until after he failed as an artist that Samuel Morse transformed communications by inventing the telegraph with his dots and dashes. There’s a telegraph gallery with a reproductions of Morse’s early equipment at the Locust Grove Estate[2] in Poughkeepsie. I’d recommend it.

The electromagnetic telegraph used wires to connect A and B. Clearly, that’s not useful if the aim is to connect an aircraft with the ground.

The imperative to make air-ground communication possible came from the first world war. Aviation’s role in warfare came to the fore. Not just in surveillance of the enemy but offensive actions too. Experimentation with airborne radio involved heavy batteries and early spark transmitters. Making such crude equipment usable was an immense challenge. 

Why am I writing about this subject? This week, on a whim I visited the museum at Biggen Hill. The Biggin Hill Museum[3] tells the story the pivotal role played by the fighter station in the second world war. The lesser-known story is the origins of the station.

It’s one of Britain’s oldest aerodromes and sits high up on the hills south of London. Biggin Hill is one of the highest points in that area, rising to over 210 metres (690 ft) above sea level. 

It’s transformation from agricultural fields to a research station (south camp) took place in 1916 and 1917. Its purpose was to explore the scientific and technical innovations of that time. Wireless in particular.  141 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was based at Biggin Hill and equipped with Bristol Fighters.[9] RFC were the first to take use of wireless telegraphy to assist with artillery targeting.

These were the years before the Royal Air Force (RAF) was formed.

100 years later, in early 2019, the Biggin Hill Museum opened its doors to the public. It’s a small museum but well worth a visit. I found the stories of the early development of airborne radio communications fascinating. So much we take for granted had to be invented, tested, and developed from the most elemental components.

POST 1: Now, I wish I’d be able to attand this lecture – Isle of Wight Branch: The Development of Airborne Wireless for the R.F.C. (

POST 2: The bigger story