One Year On From A Narrow Escape

An anniversary, some thoughts about autism, the London Mayoral elections and diplomatic immunity and a lot of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

I have various things to mention besides the main subject of this post, and a few links to share. First up, in accordance with this blog’s “reverse tabloid” policy regarding such matters comes…

AN APOLOGY

I recently suffered a problem with my email settings that caused two things:

  1. I missed some of your posts because they were going to my spam folder.
  2. A couple of commenters waited longer than they should for a response from me because due to the same issue I did not initially see the comments.

I have now resolved the issue, and all should be back to normal.

THE NARROW ESCAPE

Exactly one year ago, on October 8th 2018 I was so ill that I had to be given a half-size saline drip and a lot of further assistance to get from the flat I was then living in to an ambulance that took me to Queen Elizabeth Hospital. I will be visiting that hospital under my own steam today for a hearing appointment. I have written various posts about the illness that nearly killed me and my subsequent gradual return to health and fitness.

COFFEE MORNING

There is a coffee morning taking place at King’s Lynn Library tomorrow between 11AM and 1PM. At this time of year various shops and businesses have an “autism hour” during which they make particular efforts to be more accessible to autistic people. Of course many of the changes they make could and should be made permanently anyway – are such things as ultra bright lights and loud “music” really necessary to attract allistic customers?

Talking of which, Pete Wharmby, an #actuallyautistic autism advocate, posted a splendid thread on twitter last night about employing autistic people.

LINKS AND PICTURES

Just a couple of links before the pictures…

  1. The London Mayoral election campaign is now in full swing. There has been much entirely unmerited excitement about the decision of Rory Stewart, who knows precisely nothing about London, to stand. If I lived in London my vote would unquestionably go to Sian Berry, once again the Green Party candidate, with a second preference for the incumbent Sadiq Khan (they use STV for the London Mayoral elections). Here is an article in inews inwhich Ms Berry takes aim at Mr Stewart with (IMO) deadly accuracy.
  2. Autistica have produced an excellent guide to writing about autism, which I recommend you to read in full.
  3. Jerry Coyne at whyevolutionistrue has put up a post about Anne Sacoolas’ abuse of “diplomatic immunity” after she killed Harry Dunn in a hit and run accident. She is very probably going to escape unpunished for killing someone because neither of the two countries has a leader who can even be hoped to do the right things. For those who use social media look up #JusticeForHarryDunn. My own view is that diplomatic immunity should be waived, she should be done for causing death by dangerous driving and hit with the maximum possible punishment for that offence (on the grounds that her attempted use of diplomatic immunity counts as the absolute reverse of co-operation).

PHOTOGRAPHS

First up, a warning to arachnophobes – there is a spider coming up. Now, my usual sign off…

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A bug of some description exploring my spectacles (four pics)

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The first of a load of pictures during a journey to and from Addenbrookes

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Walking home from King’s Lynn station post Addenbrookes…

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…this poster produced by school students impressed me (sadly the weather overnight was dreadful, and I had to pick up a couple of badly damaged copies the following morning when on my way into town).

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Marxism 2018 Day 2

An account of Day 2 at Marxism 2018 (now a week ago).

INTRODUCTION

There has been a hiatus in my coverage of Marxism 2018 because I had no opportunity to blog on Sunday, due to the tight meetings schedule and my subsequent journey home, was working on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and travelling virtually all day yesterday (getting from northwest Norfolk to southeast Cornwall by public transport takes a long time). I have plans for several more posts about Marxism 2018, a batch of posts about Cornwall, and at least one work-related post in the near future. 

FIRST MEETING: JAN NIELSEN ON THE POLITICS OF FOOD

This was a good though very disturbing start to the day. Some of the things that the speaker revealed about what is done to our food were quite shocking. There was an excellent discussion.

PostersDisplay BoardPlatformThe speaker and booksJan gives her talk

MEETING 2: WHY DOES CAPITALISM LOVE PLASTIC?

I will be covering this meeting in a later post along with several other environment related meetings. For the moment here is a photograph from the room:

Plastics meeting just before start

MEETING 3: MARXISM AND RELIGION

The thrust of this meeting was that we are always willing to work with people no matter what their religion, or indeed whether they have one or not. Most people at this event are not religious themselves but would always consider arguig against religion to be a waste of time.

The Religion MeetingSpeaker and chair, religion meetingPostersBooksMaxine giving her talk

DEMOLITIONS TO SOCIAL CLEANSING – THE CLASS WAR ON HOUSING

This meeting, excellently chaired by Moyra from the Justice for Grenfell campaign, began with a small disappointment. One of the scheduled speakers, Emma Dent Coad MP, was unable to get away from parliament to make her contribution and sent her apologies. The other two speakers were housing campaigner Eileen Short and London Assembly member and housing expert Sian Berry from the Green Party. I was particularly pleased to finally get to here Ms Berry (have a look at my coverage of the 2016 London Mayoral Election and my “Fantasy Cabinet” post for more about my opinions of Ms Berry).

She made an excellent speech, searing criticism of current housing policy and some good suggestions of her own. 

Eileen Short was also excellent, and there were some great stories in the discussion. 

Housing meeting - chairSian Berry and Eileen ShortMoyra opens the meetingMoyra introducing the meetingMoyra hands over to the first speaker...

Sian Berry
The first of a number of shots I got of Sian Berry in action.

Sian Berry speakingSian Berry speaking IISian Berry IISian Berry Close Up

Eileen Short speaking
Eileen Short

Eileen ShortThe scene as Eileen addresses the meetingA contribution from the floorSian Berry summing up ISian Berry summing up II

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Outside the building after the meeting.

Student Central Main Entrance

INJUSTICE AND THE BRITISH STATE

This meeting, which took place at The Venue (in it’s third incarnation, having started life as Manning Hall and then had a few years as Room 101), featured Sheila Coleman from the Hillsborough Campaign, Brian Richardson and Gareth Peirce. It was a superb ending to the day.

The Venue before the big meeting on injusticeThe Venue looking towards The Gallery BarThe Venue looking towards the front rightPostersBrian Richardson ready for his part in the meetingPosters IIChurch frontagePosters IIIChurch ViewBooksGareth, Sheila and BrianSpeakers and ChairSpeakers and chair II

Almost showtime.
Jill from South Yorkshire chairing the meeting.
Gareth Peirce speaking
Gareth Peirce spoke first
Sheila Speaking
Followed by Sheila Coleman
Brian Richardson speaking
Brian Richardson was third to speak.

Super Sharing Saturday – Transport and the Environment

Some links relating to transport and the environment and some pictures.

 INTRODUCTION

As my first post of today indicated I have a lot of stuff to share, and I am breaking it into sections. In this post I deal with stuff that relates to transport and the environment (linked by the fact that how one handles the former can have huge effects on the latter). 

TRANSPORT

I start this subsection with two links from the…

CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER TRANSPORT 

The first of these links, to a piece titled “What is the chancellor’s plan for transport” provides some detail on what the recent spring budget offered in terms of transport. Please click on the Campaign for Better transport logo below to read this piece in full.

CBT

The second piece from the Campaign for Better Transport is titled “show the love to transport”, which gives some detail about both the actual and potential threat posed to Britain’s transport system by climate change. Please click on the image below, which shows those London Underground stations under threat from flooding to read the article full. 

Image of tube map with green hearts to show stations at risk of flooding

To finish off the section, a link to the TFL “report it to stop it”page about unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport, which I have already posted about on my London transport themed website.

THE ENVIRONMENT

Three pieces in this little section as well, starting one from Sian Berry titled “Mayors Guidance Won’t Stop Estate Demolitions”. To read this excellent piece in full please click the image below:

Sian Berry with residents at Central Hill Estate

Next comes a piece from livescience.com titled “Carbon Dioxide is Warming the Planet (Here’s How)” which includes a short video, as well as the excellent text and the image below which I am using as the link.

My final piece in this section comes from the Guardian on how climate change battles are increasingly being fought and won in court. To read it click on the image below…

Campaigners outside South Africa’s Pretoria high court during the country’s first climate change lawsuit

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some pictures to finish…

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This is lot 1251 in our March auction (27th, 28th and 29th).
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Lot 975, same auction (two images)

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Lot 967, same auction
HH
Hanse House as viewed from the riverside.
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The explanatory plaque.
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A pied wagtail neatly framed by yellow painted lines.
Moon
The moon in an early evening sky (taken on Thursday).

 

Dream Cabinet

INTRODUCTION

This post is my response to Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK’s challenge to come up with a dream cabinet. I do not quite have a full  cabinet here but I do have names, positions and explanations and/ or justifications for all my choices. I will start by listing the names and positions, and will then go into a little more detail in the next section about my reasons.

THE SELECTIONS

These are the positions I have managed to fill:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

Environment – Caroline Lucas

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran (askpergers.wordpress.com)

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

Arts – Anna Bohlin

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon (@legsidelizzy)

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Disabilities – Paula Peters (DPAC)

Science – Patricia Fara

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Defence – Emily Thornberry

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

We now move on to the the….

EXPLANATIONS/ JUSTIFICATIONS

I will take each position in the order in which they appear above:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Debbie Abrahams has impressed me ever since she entered the shadow cabinet to the extent that I was determined to put her in a top position, and in the end I opted for the top position for her.

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Another who has been consistently impressive since her promotion to the front bench. From what I read of her performance on Question time when she had to contend with three very right wing fellow panelists, a Liberal Democrat and the mloderator, Mr Arch-Establishment Dimbleby (I was not able to watch for myself as I refuse to let the BBC have any of my money) she seems to have done a fine job of further underlining her credentials.

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

We need his kind of economic vision as a matter of urgency, and how better to get it and than have the man himself as chancellor of the exchequer.

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Editor of The Canary and author of many splendid articles. I am sufficiently impressed by what I have seen of her that I have no doubts about putting her straight into one of the four so-called “great offices of state”.

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

He was always going to feature somewhere in my dream cabinet, and I have decided that this is the right role for him.

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Someone else who has said a lot of the right things since joining the front bench.

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

The Labour Party candidate for Northwest Norfolk (my constituency) at the last general election, active in many roles and a passionate supporter of the NHS. Exactly the right kind of person to take on the formidable task of repairing the ruin caused by the likes of Lansley and Hunt.

Environment – Caroline Lucas

I want environmental policy in the hands of someone who is committed to protecting the environment, and to me no one ticks that box more definitively than Ms Lucas.

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

I am aware that it is always risky for selectors to pick themselves, but I believe I can justify this one. I have a lifetime’s knowledge of and commitment to public transport. Although I am creator of a London transport themed website, London would actually be at the back of the queue for attention from me is at it is less badly off transport-wise than the rest of the country. 

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran

Paddy-Joe is autistic, the author of several books about autism and also writes the askpergers blog. Having decided to revive the idea of this post (see here for more details) it was a question of who to select for it. I wanted my Neurodiversity Minister to be neurodiverse themselves and in the end I went for Paddy-Joe.

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

He would bring a lifetime’s knowledge and passionate commitment to the post. Education in this country would improve massively with Michael Rosen in this role.

Arts – Anna Bohlin

I do not know whether we could persuade her to come over from Sweden, but I am sure that she would be excellent in this role and would work well with her cabinet colleagues. For more details about her consult her blog

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon

Also known by hew twitter handle – legsidelizzy. In addition to her cricket writing and commentaries she has made some very sound political points. 

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Always assuming Scotland have not yet declared indepence, I would want Mhairi Black, who is the youngest but also one of the most impressive MPs currently in the house, in my cabinet, and this would seem the ideal role for her.

Disabilities – Paula Peters

I have gone for someone who is disabled and heavily involved in DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) for this important role.

Science – Patricia Fara

Author of a book on the history of science, a scientist herself and an impressive speaker (I have heard her give a talk here in King’s Lynn). She got the nod ahead of Brian Cox because I decided that I wanted a woman in charge of science policy.

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Author of the Vox Political blog, carer and very knowledgeable about the misdeeds of the DWP under the Tories he would be an excellent person to undertake the task of putting this area back on track.

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Like several of my other choices she has impressed ever since taking her place on the front bench, and she would be well suited to this role.

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Occasionally sounds too excitable for her own good, but says a lot of good things, and I believe would do them in this role.

Defence – Emily Thornberry

As shadow defence secretary (before being moved to shadow foreign secretary) she was quite impressive.

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

She ran an excellent campaign for Mayor of London which deserved better reward than third place (in particular, it was a travesty that she ended up behind Goldsmith after he ran such a disgraceful campaign, but also for my money Khan could have had no complaints had she won outright). This is a position I would definitely want in the hands of someone thoroughly committed to protecting the environment. To reuse a remark I originally made as a comment in response to one of Anna’s posts

Preservation of nature needs to be at the heart of planning decisions, not an optional (and often despised) extra. Your battle in Trosa is a battle for all of us everywhere.

PHOTOGRAPHS

After all that text here are some photographs for a bit of light relief…

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The first seven pictures are from yesterday – this is the East Rudham (my parents’ village) egg shop

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Starting with this one my remaining pictures are from today.

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Cricket Classic

An account of the finish of the Nottinghamshire vs Surrey game in the county championship, some quality photos and some important links.

INTRODUCTION

As well as an account of a classic finish in the county championship match between Surrey and Notts I have some photos and a few links to share.

SURREY’S UNAVAILING FIGHT BACK

Thanks to Kumar Sangakkara and Arun Harinath in their second innings Surrey came into the final day with half a chance of completing a Lazarus like come back. Surrey’s second innings ended on the stroke of lunch with them having built a lead of 168 – just enough that things might get interesting…

Opener Greg Smith played a solid innings for Notts, but when he was out the score was 152-7 and an upset was definitely possible. However, nos 8 and 9, with a pair of genuine tail-enders to follow saw through the danger to get Notts home by three wickets. There was no play anywhere else in the country.

PHOTOS

Owing to the nature of the day (cricket in the middle thereof), I took two walks, one in the morning and one in the evening and I have pictures from both to share…

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Shot through the window of a bus yesterday.
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All Saints Church
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The side of All Saints Church – note the checkerboard panel.

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These butterflies were enjoying the sun and the dandelions near Old Boal Quay

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This pic and the next have gone down well with my twitter followers.

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These three shots of the Brunel £2 set demarcate morning and evening pics.

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LINKS

My first link is to a piece in the Mirror which shocked me. This is a story of a school using leg gaitors to restrain a six year old autistic child.

My second link is a thunderclap “#Kidsneednature

My next three links all relate to:

ACCESSIBILITY ISSUES

The folks at disabledgo have put out a top 10 of fully accessible attractions in London which has led me to create:

  1. A new page on my London transport themed website, called “Attractions” and
  2. The introductory post to what will be a series based on the disabledgo piece.

My remaining links also belong together, constituting

THREE MORE REASONS FOR LONDONERS TO
VOTE FOR SIAN BERRY IN THE MAYORAL ELECTIONS

Sian Berry has been running the best campaign of all the contenders for London Mayor by the proverbial country mile, and today she has responded as a potential decision maker to not one or even two but three change.org petitions that I have signed. I have links below to the pages that show her very detailed and very positive responses to all three.

  1. The first is a call for a statue of a suffragette to be placed in Parliament square.
  2. The second calls for mayoral candidates to invest in youth work.
  3. Thirdly and finally is a call addressed by the creator of the petition to Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan, but today answered by Sian, to protect independent shop owners in the capital.

 

 

 

Many Things

Some pictures, a mention of a DPAC public meeting in Norwich, some stuff about the London Mayoral Elections, and some autism related stuff.

INTRODUCTION

I have many things to cover in this post and some photographs to share.

KING’S LYNN PICS

The first few pictures I shall be sharing are from earlier in the week, but yesterday morning, with Saturday being treated as Sunday because my mother is travelling to Tonbridge today for an 11-week return to teaching, I went for a walk before going to my aunt’s for the journey to East Rudham, and that is where the rest of the pics in this section com from.

 DPAC PUBLIC MEETING IN NORWICH

DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) are holding a public meeting in Norwich on Thursday 21st April. I shall definitely be attending. A jpg of their official poster for this meeting is below:

DPAC Poster

INTERLUDE – EAST RUDHAM

A few things caught my eye while at my parents house for lunch, and here are some pictures from there…

THE LONDON MAYORAL ELECTION

Although it is nearly 17 years since I last called the city home, I have been keeping an eye on the London Mayoral Elections (after all, the fact that I run a London transport themed website is evidence that I still retain some interest in the place), and there have been several interesting developments. The full list of candidates looks like this:

London Mayoral Elections List

Of these, seven have done nothing  to merit being taken seriously, namely David Furness, George Galloway, Paul Golding, Lee Harris, Ankit Love, Sophie Walker and Prince Zylinski. Of these seven, I would hope that Furness and Golding finish at the bottom of the heap, and a severe kicking for Mr Galloway would be no bad thing either. Now to move on to the big five:

Candidates

Peter Whittle is as despicable as one would expect a UKIP candidate to be. Caroline Pidgeon has some good ideas but is standing for a party whose credibility is utterly shot after a disastrous five years in cahoots with the Tories. Sadiq Khan, the bookies favourite, also has some good ideas, and a win for him would be a good result. Sian Berry has run by far the best campaign to date, and has lots of good ideas. To borrow some terminology from the great bridge player and writer of the distant past S J Simon, a win for Sian Berry would be the best possible result for this election, while a win for Sadiq Khan would be in the category of a best result possible. I have left to the last Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative Party candidate. He and has team have run a despicable, divisive, negative campaign and deserve to have a disastrous result. I have two links relating to Mr Goldsmith’s failings:

My first is to a New Statesman piece in which a long-standing Conservative Party activist gives a crushing analysis of everything that is wrong about the Goldsmith campaign. The other link is to a Huffington Post piece regarding a spectacularly inadequate performance by Mr Goldsmith when quizzed about the city of which he wants to be mayor. Goldsmith achieved a risible 5 out of 9. When I took the similar quiz that Huffington Post produced to for  people to measure their own performance I managed 8 out of 9, with the one question I got wrong being about a TV program set in London that  have never watched. Those who follow the link and take the quiz are welcome to comment on their own scores.

IMPORTANT UPCOMING EVENTS

This Friday, April 15th, is the day of NAS West Norfolk’s Positive Autism Awareness Conference, at which I shall be presenting a photographic display. Thursday April 21st as already mentioned is when the DPAC public meeting in Norwich takes place. Wednesday April 27th is James and Sons April auction, for which a full catalogue can be viewed online. On Saturday April 30th I will be attending a training session at the National Autistic Society’s London HQ. This is base closed to Angel station, and therefore within walking distance of King’s Cross, as the map with which I finish this post demonstrates.

NAS

 

A Varied Day at James and Sons

An account of today at James and Sons, featuring the construction of a press release, a bonus explanation of the origin of the phrase ‘bent as a nine-bob note’, and at the end a couple of important links.

INTRODUCTION

I have some old images to share, some new images to share, and a press release to talk about. Additionally I have a couple of important links that I will be sharing at the end of this post.

THE CREATION OF A PRESS RELEASE

There are several stages involved in creating press releases/ bulk emails. Stage 1 is working out what to cover, which in this case involved two aspects:

  1. The success of the March 30th and 31st auction, with large numbers of internet bidders, and…
  2. Advertising the April auction, complete with a link to the online catalogue listing.

Each of the foregoing for maximum effect needed to be accompanied by an appropriate image. Hence:

IMAGE SELECTION

For the March image I was looking for something that had sold for well above estimate, and would look good in an email. Thus my attention focussed on lot 720, which I recalled as being both interesting visually and spectacularly successful in the auction room. Thus I needed to view the full image gallery and select from within that…

I decided, given the shape of image I was looking for to combine the shot of the four coins and the ingot and the close-up of the ingot into a composite image (I considered the four reverses on their own, but wanted both parts of the image to have the same colour background).

720-pr

The composite I created for the occasion.

For the image to accompany the text advertising the April auction the task was easier – I went for the front cover item for very obvious reasons.

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Incidentally the above denomination of banknote provides the origin for the phrase “bent as a nine-bob note” – ‘bob’ was a colloquialism for a shilling, and as shown above, a ‘ten-bob’ note was kosher while a ‘nine-bob note’ would absolutely not have been.

ASSEMBLING A MAILING LIST

Coming up with the text for the press release is a straight-forward task, and assembling a mailing list is a simple matter of noting which categories of items are prominent in the upcoming auction, selecting the appropriate lists from the database and combining them into one big list. In this instance there were almost 400 names on the final list. As a security measure (and a guard against people hitting the ‘reply to all’ button) I am the designated recipient of the emails (my James and Sons email address, not my personal one) and the true recipients are bcc’d. Thus, given that our system can handle approximately 100 people being bcc’d at a time, this one involved sending the email four times.

THE FINAL PRESS RELEASE

I have a jpg of the final press release, and also a link that will enable you to view the document in its original word format.

INTERNET INTEREST SPARKS JAMES AUCTION SUCCESSpr

SOME LATE ARRIVALS

In addition to the above, some work on the database and some fetching and carrying there were also a few items that had been catalogued but had not previously been in our possession so still needed imaging…

A COUPLE OF LINKS

First up, courtesy of WEIT comes a horror story about a secular blogger being hacked to death in Bangladesh.

Finally, to end this post on an upbeat note, a story from the New Statesman by way of Prides Purge about how badly the Tory campaign for London Mayor has come off the rails (attentive followers of this blog  and my London transport themed website, www.londontu.be, will know that if I had a vote in that election I would be using it on Sian Berry’s behalf, but whoever ends up benefitting – most likely Sadiq Khan – bad news for Tories is good news for me!)