To Comet 67p & Beyond..

Scenes of jubilation in the Rosetta control room located in Grand Fenwick in Central Europe as the team greet the news that the probe has landed on Comet 67p with great relief. 

Of course, it was somewhat unfortunate that the Rosetta craft missed its original target of the moon ten long years ago and has been hurtling through dark space since, looking for a place to land. The good news is that not only has it landed but its landed on a gas emitting comet which no one, absolutely no one has managed before and that's a first for Europe so ya boo sucks Yanks. Not only that but Comet 67p is 500 million miles away.

Project manager Tully Bascombe, Remote Pilot Norman Puckle and Head of Research Professor Simon Peach.

The UK has played a full and meaningful role in the project. Its never fair to highlight individuals but we must. Project manager Tully Bascombe, Remote Pilot Norman Puckle and Head of Research Professor Simon Peach.

This isn't the end though; far from it and back home the United Kingdom Rocketry Association are pushing on at full tilt with their R&D programme. 

Meanwhile, the curator down at the Bletchley Park museum took a funny turn when he heard German speakers discussing rockets on the television in German. Having got the wrong end of a rather improbable stick he was later found dusting down an old Enigma machine with a can of 3-in-1 in hand. He's had his medication and has since calmed down.

Starving Baboons on South West Trains

Now, I have no idea who this chap is. He must though be a man of fortitude and self reliance for given the way he was gorging on that giant burrito thing, and gurgling from his water bottle like a dehydrated water buffalo, on the 19:30hrs to Portsmouth last night, I have to think that he had just returned from 2 years in the Serengeti or 6 months up the Limpopo without a paddle or bag of chips to his name. Oblivious to all around why wouldn't you buy the messiest, smelliest food available and then proceed to eat it in the close confines of a railway carriage like a starving baboon? He did and to keep him company the girl in front was wading her way through  some Asian creation just opposite the American girl who was yapping away on her telephone while glugging her bottle of red wine (large). 

The thing is, individuals can mostly do what they please in the confines and privacy of their own homes. Why though, can't they wait on returning home to make their call or wolf down some street food?

Given they display zero consideration for their fellow commuters we need to change the rules, or in fact impose some rules. Travellers should be made to sit a test in front of a board of senior commuters to ratify that they are fit and proper citizens before being allowed to acquire a season ticket. They'll be questioned on platform etiquette, enquiries to the guard etiquette, attitudes to adopt in moments of severe disruption and delays, allowable snacks and refreshments, courtesy to fellow travellers (including use of electronic devices and allowable films), and correct use and storage of umbrellas.

Bravo Charlie Webster!

The television presenter Charlie Webster has resigned as patron of Sheffield football club as a result of their decision to allow convicted yet unrepentant rapist Ched Evans to train with the team following his release having served half of a five year sentence. Two further patrons, sixties pop star Dave Berry and health expert Lindsay Graham have also resigned during the course of the day.

Have the board of this "family and community orientated," club completely taken leave of their senses or is their moral courage so diminished that they have folded like a wet paper bag to the demands of the contemptible Players Football Association? The head of the PFA, an odious individual called Gordon Taylor, has a somewhat original view of the world, ‘If he earns money he'll pay taxes. Those taxes will go to help people who maybe can't get a job.’

Seriously? These people don't think so.

The statement issued by the club is jaw dropping. Are they really suggesting that there is a fair and reasonable case for a convicted rapist to return to a role as a public figure? Read the statement yourself and judge.

I'm absolutely speechless. 

These are the culpable men although news reports suggest that among them there are those who are uncomfortable with the decision. They should simply resign and walk away forthwith. For the others, what exactly would your mothers say?

Owners; Abdullah bin Musa'ed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (50%), Kevin McCabe (50%)

Co-Chairman (Group);  Kevin McCabe,  Jim Phipps

Chairman (Football Club) ;  David Green

Director (Football Club);  Scott McCabe

Vice President; Mike Blundell,  Ian Cameron,  Martin Green,  Andrew Laver,  Martin Ross, Christopher Steer

Operations Director;  Dave McCarthy

Head of Football Operations;  John Stephenson

Finance Director;  Craig Burns

Commercial Director;  Steve Coakley

Head of Group Coordination;  Carl Shieber

Director (Plc)

 Prince Abdulraham Bin Abdullah

Director (Plc);  Selahattin BakiJeremy Tutton

All of you are utter cowards. What's next, a goalkeeper from Broadmoor and a couple of ABH's on the wing? I hope your wives, girlfriends, golf, masonic, wine and gin clubs, sling you out on your ear. You've proved yourselves not to be responsible people acting in the best interests of your club and community. You are morally bankrupt and your actions reflect badly on your town, your sport and indeed yourselves although its evident that you long since stopped caring about any of those things. You had better be quite sure about your actions because on these rest your legacy for it is this for which you will be remembered.

Charlie Websters fund raising effort earlier this year.

Light shines through though in the form of Ms Webster. Others should follow. Some of those men will be decent family guys; they need to prove that; to themselves more than anyone.

“This has come as a complete surprise.”

The Met Office have issued their quarterly contingency outlook, advice which is designed for long term planners such as councils rather than the general public, with an outlook for above average rainfall for November to January. That in itself is bad news for those with waterlogged gardens and trees standing in increasingly weak soggy soil. Anyway, that’s theirs, this is mine.

There is a theory out there that early snowfall accumulation in Siberia signals a cold winter for the rest of us. Unfortunately, about 14.1 million square kilometres of snow covered Siberia at the end of October. According to the boffins at Rutgers University Snow Lab that’s the second most since 1967. Ominously, the snow has fallen at the fastest rate since 1998. Moreover, this year’s Atlantic sea ice maximum was 1.54m square km’s above the 1981-2010 average; that’s 4 standard deviations off the mean. That’s a lot of cold air.

Another snow guru, a Mr Judah Cohen who is the director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Lexington, Massachusetts, who developed the theory linking Siberian snow with winter weather said, “A rapid advance of Eurasian snow cover during the month of October favours that the upcoming winter will be cold across the Northern Hemisphere...... this past October the signal was quite robust.”

So what exactly happens?

Cold air builds over the expanse of snow, strengthening the pressure system known as a Siberian high. The high weakens the winds that circle the North Pole, allowing the cold air to leak into the lower latitudes. The term Polar Vortex actually refers to those winds, not the frigid weather. When the winds are extremely strong, they can lock down all the Arctic cold in the po­lar regions, allowing most of the North­ern Hemisphere to have a warm winter and spring. When they are weak, the cold plunges south. In 2012, they were very strong and spring arrived six weeks ear­ly. They have shown no sign of being very strong this year. That’s a bad thing.


Something else out there to watch is the North Atlantic Oscillation, which often acts in tandem the Arctic one. The oscillation is a shift of high and low pressure systems over the ocean that can influence storm tracks and the location of the jet stream, and affect the weather over the eastern U.S. and western Europe. Just for fun and giggles our Mr Cohen has started a blog to track these changes.

In the here and now, the different systems, (Arctic and Atlantic), are likely to bring cold weather to the Eastern US and warm weather to Europe. Problem for us is that Eurasian snow covering may turn the Atlantic oscillation from it’s current positive to a negative state. That’s when we start complaining about the roads not being gritted and cue relevant government minister on News at Ten to say, “This has come as a complete surprise.”

Just to add some spice and intrigue to the mix, and not to be left out, the Pacific is likely to toss in an El Nino event this winter, (well, a 60-65% probability). Whilst no certainty it would have implications for regional planting and harvests. As a very rough rule of thumb, California and Southern Brazil could expect much needed rainfall while Australian farmers would face drought conditions.  El Nino impacts the tropics much more than the northern hemisphere which have the weakest geographical correlation but again, as a rule of thumb is usually leads to colder and wetter conditions in Europe. Certain conditions still need to be met for an El Nino event to be declared and the event usually has a shelf life of about seven months.


The wild card for us is the eruption in Iceland. The eruption is vast but has stayed off the front pages because it hasn’t been particularly explosive. The eruption though has haemorrhaged lava and gas emitting some 20,000-60,000 tons of SO2 a day compared to the whole of Europe that emits 14,000 tons a day.  Historically, large eruptions, and this is the largest in centuries, add to cooling and acid rain as far south as the UK. If this puppy became more kinetic, the impact on us would immediately intensify.

So what?

It may transpire that nothing much happens except an unusually wet and muddy winter. Indeed, we have Big Rain this week with more flood warnings being issued by the hour. That pretty much was the view of my cab driver yesterday. The conditions exist though, and are growing, for a pretty chilly outlook. Snow Zero is likely to come in January.  At the minimum, expect more volatility in temperatures and wind. For us in the UK whatever happens we can guarantee that central government and local councils will be blissfully unaware of the consequences of perpetual inaction until its too late which is pretty much why Mrs Flashbang has been dispatched to the Cash & Carry. That is, prior preparation, (emergency fuel, light, food), may stand you in good stead, especially in rural areas.

Am I being a drama Queen?

Perhaps.  The European Energy Markets Observatory though recently warned that the risk of blackouts in Europe is growing as thermal generating capacity has been hosed in favour of renewables, (23.5%) which, we’ve seen before, don’t work well, if at all, in extremes. The Icelandic volcanic activity won’t help here either given the acidic moisture in the air can damage the exposed elements of wind generators. Part of the issue here is that the generating industry’s capacity to meet surges in demand is degraded with a greater dependence on renewables. Problems with Russia won’t help one wee bit, (think we all see this one coming), and a number of nuclear reactors in Europe, (3 in Belgium), have recently been shut down because of safety or engineering concerns. Indeed, the National Grid has already told us that their winter capacity will be at a 7 year low with spare capacity at 4% compared to 17% three years ago, (we’ve shut 15 plants since then).

The energy secretary, A Mr Davey, told us last month that "there will be no blackouts. Period." Well, Mr Ed Davey obviously believes he has the powers of the Almighty. His civil servants don't though. They quickly moderated the comments by telling Channel 4 news that what he meant was the "UK was not going to run out of energy this winter." Mr Davey will now endure a sleepless winter because blackouts are likely to = "minister fired for being a stupid person." Obviously, you get to make your own choice here, believe the minister or listen to Crumble; your call.

One last point to ponder because we mostly like to cover all the bases. May I direct your attention to the letter to the Telegraph above from a Mrs Margaret Higgs. (I spotted ladybirds last weekend in the corner of my bedroom by the window. How spooky is that Margaret?).


In summary, the bad news has arrived for the mid west of the US already, (today in fact). We’re most likely in the clear in respect of heavy snow until after Christmas but at Crumble Towers, I’m taking no chances.In the meantime expect rain, and lots of it.

"Every man once before any man twice"

The "Silver Badge," given to all returning veterans became the badge of the British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers

Today, the 11th November, I’m going to step to the side and invite you to remember one pretty extraordinary ordinary soldier, a Lance bombardier Tom Lister from Lancashire.

You, like me, may have grown up believing that Earl Haig  started the British Legion and indeed, he was responsible for creating the environment which led to the amalgamation of disparate charitable efforts for ex-soldiers to form the Legion after the Great War. In fact, after he finished active service Haig devoted the rest of his life to the welfare of ex-soldiers and remained more popular among them until his death than revisionist historians would have us believe, (although his reputation has been recently somewhat restored with the publication of some more balanced biographies).


Back to Tom Lister. At the end of the Great War not a family in Britain was unaffected by the loss of 888,000 souls and the 1.75m who suffered some form of temporary or permanent disability. The Government was unable or unwilling to alleviate their physical and financial distress so Tom Lister rolled up his sleeves and decided to set about improving their lot. He himself was invalided out in 1916 and after the war started to raise funds to buy tables and beds. He convinced landlords to let their dilapidated buildings to ex-servicemen and widows conditional on him attending to repairs and maintenance and he persuaded Burtons to supply suits for the men to use for interviews. He also gained access to old drill halls to use as soup kitchens for his British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers.

Subsequently, Earl Haig persuaded Lister and other organisations to meet and discuss consolidating their efforts into what was to become, in 1921, the British Legion. The Unity Conference was held at the Queens Hall in Langham Place where a draft constitution was adopted. On May 15th, 1921 at 9am at the Cenotaph, the shrine to their dead comrades, the ex-Service men sealed their agreement. The Legion was born.

The Legion was formed with the amalgamation of four associations:      

The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers (1916).

The British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers (1917).

The Comrades of The Great War (1917).

The Officers' Association (1920).

Men of the British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers marching on the occasion of the Armistice in 1918 before such events became formalised.

The amalgamation of these four diverse bodies can be attributed largely to Field Marshall Earl Haig and Tom Lister By the time of the Legion's formation in 1921, the tradition of an annual Two Minute Silence in memory of the dead had been established. The first ever Poppy Appeal was held that year, with the first Poppy Day was on 11 November 1921.

Lister became chairman of the RBL until 1927, was appointed CBE in 1927 and was knighted in 1961. He died in 1966. As I said, an extraordinary ordinary man and I’m proud to say, a fellow Gunner.

Moreover, we are a country that throws up Tom Lister’s in happy abundance, not just working for ex-servicemen, and there are a great many indeed that do,  but throughout the charitable universe. Something we can all join in giving thanks for and to be proud of. It’s one of the things that we actually have left that binds us together and that politicians have no claim on.

Price at the Pump

The Chancellor this morning followed up comments by the secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, on fuel prices by saying in an interview that “Our message is very clear -- the oil price has fallen and we expect that to be passed on at petrol stations as people fill up their cars,” Osborne says. “We will be watching very closely to make sure they do.”

Suddenly, Tesco, (who no doubt have been in receipt of a telephone call either from the Treasury or their PR bunnies), have this morning reduced prices by 1p a litre. It's a start.

Don't though expect much of a reduction, regardless of what politicians say in interviews. You see, they simply can't afford it. They are in fact complicit in draining your bank accounts and wasting billions of tax payers money in ploughing money into renewable energy projects, and raising more taxes in the process in a sector that is falling rapidly into administration. It's in the interest of self interested government officials and civil servants to allow oil companies to cover up the disparity between the 31% drop in oil and only modest falls in heating oil and fuel. A 30% drop in end user fuel prices would drive the renewable program into buffers at high speed.. Either way high fuel prices are here to stay, either from profiteering by energy companies or the governments who will raise the tax duty to maintain their white elephant vanity projects.

The sad thing about this is of course that we have a fleeting opportunity to give respite to the hard pressed consumer as we head into winter and toward Christmas and simultaneously give the economy an adrenalin shot; not through the central banking Keynesian madness of printing but through markets finding their natural level.

We'll miss the target again though. Just enough will be done to quieten down the headline writers and local constituency chairmen and we can then add it to the list of missed opportunities to boost the economy from the bottom up.. 

Watch & Learn John Lewis

The new and much anticipated John Lewis Christmas advert is out and bloggers and news sites up and down the country are shamelessly reposting it in the hope of picking up some stray hits; oh look, where did that come from?

And we're disappointed to find what a load of schmaltzy, sickly drivel it is. Completely unrecognisable to any family in the land. That is, unless your boy happens to be suffering from psychosis, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Most parents spotting similar behavioural traits would have their dearest hoiked in front of a child psychologist in quick time; mostly before the van marked "Child Care Protection," drew up outside. I liked to think that the John Lewis advert was conjured up every year in a convivial after lunch setting with port and cigars after a robust board meeting. Obviously, the board left it to some creative Johnnies from Hampstead this year. Big mistake. 

I'm here to help and lets just remind ourselves of what made giving great with one of the greatest tear jerker toy adverts ever devised. Watch and learn John Lewis, watch and learn. As for the rest of us, are you like me left with the lingering hollow thought that we've lost something in our lives with the t'internet? Some of the magic has definitely gone forever.


Au contraire Mr Junker

has the average Frenchman ever had it so good?

So, Jean-Claude Junker, the European Commission President, has been slamming David Cameron in response to the jaw dropping incredulity with which No 10 greeted the latest bill from Brussels, "please pay £1.7bn by Christmas."

So Mr Juncker, as I understand it, we the British have landed this whopper because we have a growth rate higher than have others in the EU. 

I'm a simple man so in simple terms, let me get this right. I get to pay more tax to subsidise a French 35 hour working week and the rest of the nonsense that they've conjured up in the dying days of their 200 year old experiment in raging socialism.

Sure, while I'm getting my sad, tired body out of bed at 5am every morning my average French opposite number is probably just drifting home from seeing one of his mistresses and that's his god given right as a man and a Frenchman. Just don't ask me to pay for it because here's a reality check.... we're not going to and if you push the point we'll remove our northern Presbyterian troublesome selves and our dull work ethic out of the whole rotten farce.



Action This Day Mr Fallon Please

We learn from his website that the Defence Secretary spoke at the British Legion reception at the Conservative party conference recently, described thus,

"Michael spoke at the Royal British Legion’s reception at the Conservative Party Conference recently.

Referring to the Armed Forces Covenant he said:  “It is particularly fitting, in the 100th year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, to reflect on the importance of the Covenant.  Our armed forces today, like those of a hundred years ago, embody the best of British, and it is right we honour all that they do for our country.  We must never forget the willingness of our armed forces to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Importance of The Military Covenant
“The Military Covenant recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the armed forces and their families. This isn’t just about Government – it is about society’s commitment as a whole.”

“I am proud that this Government has enshrined the following principles in law:

  • that no current or former member of the armed forces, or their families should be disadvantaged compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services;
  • and that special consideration is appropriate especially for those who have given most such as the injured and bereaved.”

“Never again can the Covenant cease to be honoured.”"

Just one question Mr Fallon, I appreciate you run a very big department with multiple responsibilities but just in passing, why is there a four month waiting list for non urgent PTSD referrals in the Tidworth Garrison?

Action this day Mr Fallon, action this day please.

Crumble's Dad Helpline

This'll make you look good in front of the Missus

Ever had one of those moments when one of the kids has asked for help with maths prep? Making an excuse about the kettle boiling and scarpering is no way to treat these weighty matters of fatherhood. It's been a long time for us all and frankly, I don't think most Dad's got their heads much round the subject then never mind now.

As usual I'm here to help and with a flourish allow me to introduce the game changer. Download the free PhotoMath app from the App Store and technology will take up the slack.

Just point the scanner at the fiendishly devilish sum in question and Photomath will solve it in a heartbeat and, showing your new found enthusiasm for maths it will walk you through the solution. Watch the clip above in open mouthed astonishment and reflect on the humiliation this puppy would have saved in years past.

We've all been there....

We've all been there....

Straight Up With A Traffic Cone

Markets have been somewhat tricky of late even if it was somewhat predictable and some practitioners have obviously endured a rather trying time. I like to empathise with my clients but I doubt that any of them had a day worse than was mine yesterday but you’ll nonetheless get the analogy. Let me tell you kind people, the last thing any of you need to hear, as you’re lying on the doctors bed, on your side with your knees tucked up, is the snap behind you of surgical gloves being put on, dipped into petroleum jelly and the words, “now this won’t hurt.” Oh my sainted aunt, this won’t hurt? It felt like he went in there with a traffic cone. As soon as he said, “ahh, Mr Crumble, I see you’re ex Army; well I’m ex RAMC so we can cut out the nonsense and get on with it,” I knew then the sketch was going to more resemble a demented Gordon Ramsey in a bad mood stuffing a turkey than me experiencing the caring fluffy side of the NHS. Still, all’s well they tell me which is a token comfort after being violated. I don’t suppose you needed to hear that on a Thursday morning but its good to share and to remember, “however bad it is…………………….”

Cycling to Costa Rica

Which Dreadnought has more firepower??

Good morning and many folk are currently enjoying a no doubt deserved autumnal half term break. Should any of you happen to be passing through Nicaragua or Costa Rica this week and see a serene figure on a bicycle, gliding past like a Dreadnought over the mountains of those countries then do stop and say hi to Mrs Flashbang who is doing her bit for charity. I am happily abandoned at home. I did a couple of these charity bike rides years ago in the Middle East and at the end of them would cheerfully have seen them all melted down into paper clips. My nadir was unthinkingly running into the Dead Sea at the end of a particularly tough days cycling in Jordan, (great country btw). Unfortunately, I hadn’t stopped to reflect on what the salt would do to my rather chaffed nether regions. I found out pretty quickly. Oh how I screamed.