16 February 2020


Yesterday was Reggie's annual checkup and his booster jabs. Everything is covered under his VIP plan except the kennel cough booster that cost £31.



Refreshed from their winter break in the sun and sand of the Emirates, we had expected a rejuvenated Arsenal to be taking the game by the scruff.

And so it seemed for a few minutes until Newcastle found their feet.

In fact they could have gone ahead but a save from Leno saved the team from the agony of falling behind.

0-0 at half time didn't give any clue to the second half. 

Steve Bruce, the Newcastle United head coach must have been the happier man though. Arsenal had been marginally the better side but hadn't made the breakthrough. 

A cross from Pepé was headed home by Aubameyang and we waited for VAR to confirm.

VAR has been such an intrusion into games that it is difficult to know if you can celebrate straight away.

Pepé doubled the lead when he shot in from inside the box.

Arsenal then dominated the game before Özil and Lacazette added the icing on the cake in the closing minutes.

On a day when Storm Dennis was disrupting the country it was great to get back to winning ways and in the "Arsenal Way".

10 February 2020

Flood Alert.

Not a great sign when the Environment Agency sends the automated flood alert warning to you.

It warns of flooding along a 25 to 30 mile stretch of coast. We live about half way along that stretch and about 400 yards from the sea.

All that is between us and the beach is a flat army firing range made up of shingle and then a road...

The warning is for the remnants of Storm Ciara and the high spring tide mating together for mayhem.

High tide due at 0015. Or about an hour's time.

More fingers crossed.


It didn't happen. We moved bank and that sort of stuff upstairs and I sat up until nearly 1am 'just in case'. 


Bought my ticket today online - Oldham Athletic away at Leyton Orient.

It's at the end of my week off for half term and so I need to weigh up whether to buy my weekly season ticket to include Saturday or travel on a cheap day return.

There was a note on one of the supporters pages that there was an allocation of 256 tickets.

It only opened to non season ticket holders today, and I have ticket 120....

We'll see when we get there. It's February 22nd and a 3pm kickoff.

MAG News - Motorcycles in bus lanes set to improve air quality in Cambridgeshire

MAG has welcomed a Cambridgeshire County Council move to consult on Motorcycle Access to Bus Lanes as part of its proposals to improve air quality.  A tireless campaign by a local MAG activist has seen the Conservative leader of Cambridgeshire County Council pass a motion proposing a consultation on motorcycle access to bus lanes.

MAG has mounted a sustained campaign to get the role of motorcycles recognised in Cambridgeshire and particularly for motorcycle access to bus lanes.  Having gained the support of local MP, Daniel Zeichner, engaging with Councillors and officers and making formal representations to the Highways Committee, confirmation was finally received that "the Council Leader announced in December that [Cambridgeshire County Council] will be consulting on allowing motorbikes in bus lanes as part of the climate change strategy action plan."

In a motion passed by the Council on 19th December 2019, the council committed to a raft of measures being incorporated into its environmental strategy consultation proposals.  One of those measures was "Consulting on the use of bus lanes for electric vehicles and motorcycles and scooters."

A local activist, who has been closely involved with the process, commented "I am delighted by this progress and look forward to the consultation being released in the near future.  What is particularly rewarding is the fact that the policy proposal has been recognised as part of the wider environmental strategy plan, not simply as a road safety issue."

The motion, brought by Cllr Steve Count, did face an amendment brought forward by Liberal Democrat Cllr Lorna Dupré.  The amendment would, amongst other things, have totally removed the bus lane access clause, but was not passed by the assembled Councillors.  The motion was therefore passed without amendment.  The motion also caused controversy for its stance on charging motorists in clean air zones.  Cllr Count said the Labour and Liberal Democrat controlled Cambridge and South  Cambridgeshire councils "seem obsessed with charging motorists" as the "only solution" to poor air quality.  The remarks were made on his blog ahead of the motion being brought at Cambridgeshire County Council on December 19.  The motion as passed states that the Council is opposed to "pursuing charging proposals at this time".

MAG's Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, said: "This recognition of the wider benefits of motorcycles and the need to support them as a sustainable transport mode is wonderful.  The proposal for motorcycle access to bus lanes specifically promoted in this way, as part of the council's climate change strategy, is a first to my knowledge but, I hope, not the last.  Local authorities and the national government need to recognise the fact that single track vehicles, be they human or mechanically powered, are a truly sustainable solution. Simply grouping motorcycles with cars is lazy thinking that neglects the potential benefits of this transport solution.  If reducing emissions by promoting modal shift to motorcycles as well as pedal cycles can avoid the need for charging motorists as well as motorcyclists, this is a win for everyone."

Book Review: Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

Dark Sacred Night (Renée Ballard, #2; Harry Bosch, #21; Harry Bosch Universe, #31)Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As soon as I saw this book appear on the Kindle list I had to have it. I am a commuter reader. I have an hour on the train in the morning and again in the evening.

I have to admit I have read all the Bosch books and have seen all five series on Amazon Prime. A bit of a junkie but with limits to how much I'll spend...

I wasn't disappointed. The cold case "hobby" stories mixed with Ballard working live cases goes together well.

In his old age Bosch is starting to make mistakes and stepping even further over the boundary. The only thing I thought was missing was some closure on the SFPD corrupt cop stream and Harry's future....

View all my reviews

9 February 2020

RBLR Non-Attendance Rally 2020

This year's Non-Attendance Rally is open for bookings.

All proceeds to the Poppy Appeal.

This year I booked early and managed to get the booking number down to 56. Must do better next year.

Fred Hill Memorial Run

Today should have been the annual MAG run to honour the activist and refusenik, Fred Hill.

Fred had been against the imposition of the mandatory crash helmet law when I was introduced in the UK in 1973.

He was imprisoned several times for failure to comply and for refusing to pay the fines imposed by the courts.

He died in Pentonville in London in February 1984.

The run was cancelled for the first time in many years due to the possible danger from 80mph winds care of Storm Ciara battering the UK and the South-East currently.

It was a blessing in disguise for me as the bike has no MoT and can't be legally ridden on the road.

I have been several times and once actually led the group from the Ace Café to Pentonville.

The new date is March 1st. 

This appears to be the only picture of Fred astride his Honda with the copper close by.

Fred Hill and Copper

8 February 2020

Illegal Eagles

What better way to spend a cold winter's evening in Folkestone.

The Illegal Eagles at the Leas Cliff Hall. Once again in February!

Another superb performance from what has to be the best tribute band in the world.

They don't try to dress or look like the Eagles but can sing like the original band members. 

Each of them accomplished musicians in their own right.

I didn't take any photos this time as I was more interested at listening to the music.

Back in 2021?   

7 February 2020

MAG News - Motorcycles not in 2035 ban

On Tuesday 4th February, Boris Johnson launched the UK-hosted UN climate summit and announced that he would bring forward the end to the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040 to 2035 - or earlier if possible - and include hybrids for the first time.

As with all such long range, broad announcements, it was not clear what the detailed policy would be and how it would be implemented.  As such, the announcement caused a flurry of speculation and guesses for motorcyclists, with conflicting conclusions drawn.

As always, MAG has taken the sensible approach of seeking clarification.
Speaking to Phil Killingley, Deputy Head of the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) at the Department for Transport, MAG's Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, received confirmation that the 2035 ban does not apply to motorcycles. 

Colin commented "We are pleased to hear that the ban from 2035 will not apply to the sale of petrol-powered motorcycles.  Our membership consists overwhelmingly of petrol-engine bike users who do not wish to see the very thing they love banned.  Yet it is clear, speaking to the Department, that the threat remains. It will not surprise anyone that the debate over electrification is also taking place in MAG, with a range of views expressed.  The task ahead is to plot a sensible, evidence-based approach in a subject area that ignites great passion and emotion."

On Tuesday 4th February, Lembit Opik, MAG's Director of Communications & Public Affairs, attended a key meeting in Parliament where Visiting Professor at Oxford and Imperial College London, Gautam Kalghatgi, explained why petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles cannot, in reality, be banned by the 2035 deadline.  

Professor Kalghatgi argued that the largescale adoption of electric power creates enormous and, as yet, unsolved problems.  Lembit said "this is a highly complex issue in which all factors need to be weighed and the impacts fully understood before decisions are made.  The answers for motorcycles are different to those for cars regarding readiness for electrification and impacts on users, so it's vital motorbikes are considered separately to cars and vans."

The government is consulting on the 2035 proposals, telling stakeholders: "We are aware that stakeholders will have a diverse range of views on this subject and both Ministers and senior officials will be engaging closely to understand what those are." 

The subjects that they want feedback on are: the phase-out date; the definition of what should be phased out; barriers to achieving the ambitions set out in the consultation; the impact of these ambitions on different sectors of industry and society; and what measures are required by Government and others to achieve the earlier phase-out date.'

National MAG Chair, Selina Lavender, added: "MAG is on the list of stakeholders and will be engaging fully with OLEV so that the views and opinions of our members are fully represented."

23 January 2020

Push The Boundary - Oldham Athletic Fans' Group

I joined this fans' group to push for some action at the club where I saw my first ever football match as 4yo way back in 1959. This season is the 60th since I started to go.  Let's hope it ends better.

I used to go with my Dad, Claude Devall, who was one of the blokes that kept the supporters' club running.  In a small scrapbook we have pictures from the Oldham Chronicle of him painting the stand during the summer break.

He used to go and sit in the stand with his buddies from the club, John Hartshorn and Vinnie (I don't know his surname) and leave me to stand behind the goal, often with my Aunt Linda (Shaw now Johnstone) and her friend Anne.

In those days the club was about where it is now, near the foot of the fourth tier, then called the Fourth Division.  A few years before the two regional third divisions, North and South had been merged into Third and Fourth.

After the highs of being in the Premier League when it started in 1992/93 and staying for two years before bombing out they eventually find themselves in League 2.

Several ownerships later and things are on a knife edge.  As an "exile" I try to get to as many games in the South and East as possible. I have to fit these in with being an Arsenal season ticket holder,

League Tables for the first Paul Devall season as an Oldham Athletic football fan.

The link is to the report from PTB on a meeting they had with the owner and a couple of directors: 

22 January 2020

MAG calls for fair treatment in charging infrastructure

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced a doubling of funding for on-street charge points on 21st January.  The Motorcycle Action Group has welcomed news of this funding, but raises concerns about the suitability of provision for owners of electric motorcycles.

Speaking on Monday 21st January, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We want to make electric cars the new normal, and ensuring drivers have convenient places to charge is key to that. By doubling funding again for charge points on streets where people live, and opening up data we are helping drivers easily locate and use affordable, reliable charge points whether at home or on the road."

The Motorcycle Action Group, whilst welcoming the announcement, has, however, raised concerns that national and local government thinking is demonstrating a blind spot when it comes to the provision of charging infrastructure that meets the needs of motorcyclists. MAG's Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, commented "I have had many conversations with local authorities, infrastructure hardware suppliers and other bodies that reveal little, if any, consideration of the needs of motorcyclists when it comes to charging infrastructure.

We support and promote the use of electric motorcycles just as much as conventional internal combustion versions, but if we are to see progress in the electrification of the motorcycle fleet, then some serious debate needs to be had on the specific needs of motorcyclists when it comes to the question of charging.

With the constant threat of motorcycle theft at the forefront of most riders' minds, owners will need provision of facilities that allow secure parking at the charging locations.  This is before we even start to question the technical and ergonomic aspects of charging facilities. To date, I can see no evidence to suggest that these questions are being asked or addressed.

I am calling on the charging infrastructure industry and government to take a long hard look at the needs of motorcyclists when it comes to charging infrastructure.  We cannot afford the option to switch to electric to be denied to motorcyclists simply because no thought was given to charging these machines."

18 January 2020


Home to Sheffield United on a Saturday at 3pm. If that isn't a rare occurrence I am the President of the US....

Once again due to our position in the table we are playing a team above us.

At least the train was on time at Folkestone West.

The game. We played better and started well. Scored almost on the stroke of half time and then late on conceded the equaliser.

No home games for a month. Great.

17 January 2020

MAG looks forward to more motorcycles in Cardiff

This week, Cardiff Council launched a Transport White Paper, which lays out an ambitious 10-year plan to reduce congestion and improve air quality in the Welsh capital.  Proposals include a congestion Charge which is expected to exempt motorcycles, a move that will inevitably increase the prevalence of this transport mode.

When London introduced its Congestion Charging Zone back in 2003, it too exempted motorcycles from all charges.  Modal shift to motorcycles is universally accepted to help reduce congestion and thus also emissions. Studies show that a 10% modal shift from cars to motorcycles will reduce congestion by a staggering 40%.

MAG'sDirector of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, commented "We broadly welcome the approach of a universal congestion charge on all larger vehicles as opposed to complex emission-based charging schemes when it comes to solving the urban congestion problem, and improving air quality.  The logic of an exemption for single-track vehicles is obvious when starting rom a congestion perspective, enabling a much simpler policy approach that achieves the same results as the confused and administratively burdensome emission charging model which revolves around the complexities of Euro ratings.  An important additional bonus to an increase in the prevalence of motorcycles on the road was also observed in London, where collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles significantly reduced.""

We look forward to seeing an increase in motorcycles in Cardiff and will be engaging with Cardiff City Council to ensure that the benefits of motorcycles are fully embraced, supported and encouraged."

Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Lembit Opik, added "This is a great news story to start a new decade.  Let's hope we see many more as MAG pushes to get motorcycles put back where they belong: at the heart of transport policy."

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