Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Lord Taylor of Warwick: a fall from grace to disgrace

I am sad to hear that John Taylor, Baron Taylor of Warwick, has been convicted of fiddling his parliamentary expenses to the tune of over £11,000. He apparently falsely claimed for a home in Oxford that was not his main residence (which was in Ealing) and for related travel and subsistence expenses.  It is hugely embarrassing for Lord Taylor who was a committed Christian.   I knew him when he used to attend the Home Office Christian Fellowship when he was a Special Adviser to the Home Secretary and Ministers of State (1990-1991). In 1996, at the age of 42, he was created a life peer, "the first black Tory peer".  ( David Pitt, Baron Pitt of Hampstead, was the first black peer in 1978.)

As a former barrister at law (who was called to the Bar in 1978) he cannot claim to be ignorant of the law, which is no excuse. Lord Taylor argued that he had been acting on the advice of colleagues, which means that fiddling parliamentary expenses must be common practice.  Lord Taylor, however, was caught and found guilty.

Some have sympathy for him, as parliamentary peers are not paid a salary for their work. Others are not sympathetic at all because they do receive a generous daily attendance allowance and such blatant dishonesty should be punished with a custodial sentence, like the dishonourable former MP David Chaytor (18 months) and perhaps Eric Illsley who awaits sentence.

I am also sad to learn that his marriage to Katherine ended in 2005 after 24 years.

Lord John Taylor has his troubles, trials and temptations but he still has his precious faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who will provide him with grace sufficient in this time of need.  Before the throne of grace John can receive help, forgiveness, mercy and comfort.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Alastair Cook, a credit to his country and his county

Alastair Cook, the England and Essex cricketer, has played so well above expectations in the Ashes series in Australia. He was deservedly named as Man of the Series after scoring 766 runs with an average of 127.66. (Only Wally Hammond scored more for England, when he scored 905 runs in 1928/9 series.) AC made 235 not out in the Test Match at Brisbane, the highest individual score on the ground beating Bradman's 226 in the 1930s. AC batted for 10 and a half hours to achieve this record total. He spent more time at the crease (2,171 minutes) than any other player in a 5 match test series, beating the record previously held by Chanderpaul.

Alastair Cook is a fine role model and has been used as a fashion model by the outfitters Austin Reed.
There is no doubt that he will be winning honours and earning a good deal more from advertising/sponsorship as his success continues.

Roy Hodgson leaves Liverpool FC

Roy Hodgson has now left Liverpool FC, which was expected after some poor performances by the Merseyside club.  Football journalists had been predicting his imminent departure. The writing was on the wall (literally at the training ground where "HODGSON OUT" had been daubed by a disgruntled fan).  LFC was in decline well before Roy came on the scene. They won nothing last season and did not qualify for the Champions League.  He inherited a rather mediocre squad that needs strengthening and the players he brought in did not produce the required quality after 20 Premier League games. Liverpool players must take a lot of the blame for the nine defeats, with only seven wins and four draws out of the twenty matches under Roy Hodgson's management.  Mark Lawrenson said today that Roy was not a popular choice among the supporters, so he was the wrong man who came to Anfield at the wrong time. Gareth Southgate made similar comments. Roy went from manager of the year at Fulham, taking them to the final of the Europa Cup, to scapegoat at LFC. From hero to zero.

Many fans, it seems, have been granted their wish to see Kenny Dalglish return as manager. He will take over for the rest of the season, but it is unlikely he will see much improvement with the current squad.  They really miss quality players like Alonso and Mascherano, and there are obvious defensive frailties so now they are not good enough to break into the top four in the Premiership or to win any of the main trophies.

The King's Speech, a film well worth watching ****

The King's Speech, directed by Tom Hooper, is enjoying deserved success at the box office and among critics.
The cast, which includes Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Sir Michael Gambon, Anthony Andrews, Sir Derek Jacobi, Timothy Spall and Claire Bloom,  is very strong and the acting is superb.
There are some excellent cameo performances. Colin Firth will be undoubtedly nominated for an Oscar; he has already won awards, including a BAFTA, for his role in this fine film.

The subject of a stammering king trying to overcome his speech impediment would seem to have a limited chance of commercial success, but the film is utterly charming, moving and uplifting.  It is very sympathetic to King George VI (Colin Firth) and his Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter), showing Edward VIII (Guy Pearce) and Mrs Simpson (Eve Best) in a bad light as odious, selfish and shallow hedonists.

Friday, 7 January 2011

England's Test Team win the Ashes beating Australia 3-1 in the series

England have won the Ashes in Australia for the first time in 24 years and the Barmy Army are celebrating.  In the fifth and final Test Match in Sydney, England emphatically beat Australia by an innings and 83 runs.  It was the third time in the series that England won by an innings. Alastair Cook was the man of the match and also the player of the series.  He scored 189 at Sydney (766 during the series) and averaged 127.66, his highest score being 235 not out at Brisbane.

England's bowlers deserve credit:
James Anderson took 24 wickets for 625 runs.
Chris Tremlett took 17 wickets for 397 runs.
Graeme Swann took 15 wickets for 597 runs.

For Australia:
Mitchell Johnson took 15 wickets for 554 runs.

Summary of the Ashes:
1st Test - Brisbane. Match drawn.
2nd Test - Adelaide.  England won by an innings and 71 runs.
3rd Test - Perth. Australia won by 267 runs.
4th Test - Melbourne. England won by an innings and 157 runs.
5th Test - Sydney. England won by an innings and 83 runs.


River Stour