Blog Archives

NO LICENCE FOR YOU: Man fails driving test five seconds in

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King’s Lynn, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via TANVEER MANN and Metro.co.uk

A British man has probably set the world record for quickest time in flunking a driving test after failing it five seconds in, reported the Metro newspaper yesterday.

Craig Barraza, aged 33, originally from Portlethen in Aberdeenshire but now living in Norfolk, crashed out of his driving test after pulling out of the centre of the wrong side of the road, according to Metro. The hapless learner told the paper he had a ‘complete mind blank’ once he got behind the wheel and largely forgot everything the driving instructor had taught him over his lengthy and expensive preparation lessons.

 

 

Barraza, who appeared for his exam at the King’s Lynn test centre, immediately pulled out and began driving down the wrong side of the road. Vehicles in the UK drive on the left. His error was so obvious that even the examiner who was in the front passenger seat with him at the time exclaimed “You do realise you’re on the wrong side of the road?”.

Despite immediately failing his test, Barraza still had to continue driving for another forty minutes, where it is alleged he actually drove so well that he would have passed had it not been for the ghastly error he made at first. The examiner, and Barraza’s driving instructor, Steve Fletcher, said that it was the worst blunder they had seen in 50 years of instruction.

Barraza, who is employed as an operative on a wind energy farm, is said to have spent £1,000 in total on forty lessons with Fletcher, as well as the multiple-choice question ‘theory test’ that all new British drivers are required to sit in addition to the practical.

He said: “I was only just leaving the centre to get out. We were literally just five seconds into it. I was approaching the junction to exit it and I had an absolute mind blank, questioning in my head: ‘What side of the road do we drive on?”

‘I had a 50/50 chance, and I chose to exit it in the right lane. Instant fail. Had I not been so stupid I’d have breezed through.’

‘My examiner with 20 years experience, and my instructor with 30 years both said they have never witnessed anything like it in their careers. I hadn’t even left the test centre car park.”

He added: “I’ve avoided driving because when I was 17 I stalled at a roundabout which just completely put me off. But I was more confident now.

‘I think it’s when you get older you get a bit wiser but that’s rich coming from me after failing like that. I’ve lived in the UK my whole life so there’s no excuse for not driving on the left.

‘Honestly, who fails a test quicker than that? I didn’t even get to the junction.”

Despite his huge messup, Barraza has received supportive messages from his friends after posting about the calamity on social media, however it is not mentioned if he will retake his test.

SOURCES:
Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/
“Guy fails driving test in just five seconds after pulling out of centre on wrong side of road” – Tanveer Mann, Metro – News – UK/Associated Newspapers Limited (4 February 2017) http://metro.co.uk/2017/02/04/guy-fails-driving-test-in-just-five-seconds-after-pulling-out-of-centre-on-wrong-side-of-road-6426532/?ito=facebook
Rabia Ali.
IMAGE CREDIT:
“Jan 9 : The Driving Lesson” – Dawn Sajn, Flickr (9 January 2012) https://www.flickr.com/photos/dawnps/6664634135/

 

BREXIT: EU nationals in the UK to stay after country leaves union

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London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via Press Association & The Guardian

 

 

The Home Office, the UK government agency in charge of immigration and settlement matters, has announced via various reports that European Union nationals currently residing in Britain will be permitted to continue living there, ending a dilemma for hundreds of thousands of continentals worried about their status post-Brexit, the Guardian reports.

After the July referendum which saw the shock decision by just over half of British voters to get their nation withdrawn from the EU after forty years, European Union citizens were left in the lurch, unsure of their futures, as new prime minister Theresa May refused to give a final definition of their status. Her manoeuvre consisted of a criticised attempt to guarantee the rights of the 1.2 million British emigrants living in Europe, mostly in France and Spain.

It is expected that 80 per cent of the EU citizens currently in the UK will be allowed to stay after Britain triggers Article 50 on membership and leaves the union, widely expected to be in 2019. The 600,000 remaining will be offered an amnesty, the Guardian says. At one point, reports suggested that EU nationals who settled in the UK before the referendum would not be asked to leave. There are believed to be 3.6 million EU nationals working and living across the UK.

Home Office calculations were reported as saying that five out of six EU nationals could not be deported after the country leaves the EU.

SOURCES:
‎Sergio Mourão‎.
EEA visa.. EU free movement, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/groups/650212281695959/?fref=nf
“EU nationals living in UK will be allowed to remain after Brexit – report” – Press Association, The Guardian – home – politics/Guardian News and Media Limited (8 October 2016) https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/oct/08/home-office-says-eu-nationals-living-in-uk-can-remain-after-brexit
IMAGE CREDIT:
“brexit” – portal gda, Flickr (25 June 2016) https://www.flickr.com/photos/135518748@N08/27612677760

 

TRUMP: British actor lays into US presidential candidate

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Windsor, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via ITV News

As the presidential campaign in the United States heats up with only a month left to go before elections on the 8th November 2016, a well-loved voice from the other side of the Pond has made a few choice words about the controversial Republican candidate Donald Trump, the UK’s ITV News service reported yesterday.

Actor and voiceover artist Brian Blessed, famed for his distinctive booming vocals, rounded on the billionaire during a video interview with the ITV channel, in which he described Trump as a ‘total, complete utter moron’ in what ITV News described as an ‘extraordinary outburst’. 

 

Blessed has long been a feature of British television screens, renowned as much for his imposing chestnut brown beard as for his voice. He was born in Mexborough, Yorkshire in 1936 and first appeared in the programme Z-Cars in 1962 and has made a living appearing both behind the screen and on stage, as well as doing voiceovers and bit roles for television adverts.

In the interview, the actor told ITV how he could not understand how a nation that has produced so many brilliant minds now has a large part of its electorate backing a man whom he felt was ‘gormless’ and ‘tasteless’. Blessed also personally addressed Donald Trump in the interview, picking on his blonde toupee-like hairstyle by saying that the candidate should ‘get a haircut and scram’. Blessed also saidAmerica’s full of such brilliant people – brilliant professors, brilliant scientists but you have an appalling, gormless, tasteless, individual like Trump, who really [fart sound] is that, isn’t he?”

“An appalling creature.”

“What they hell are they doing with him? He’s a total, complete utter moron.”

Blessed made the comments shortly after he collected an OBE (Order of the British Empire) royal honour for services to the arts and charity in a Birthday Honours ceremony presided over by Queen Elizabeth II at her residence Windsor Castle. He is a patron of the Hopefield Animal Sanctuary and of PHASE (Practical Help Achieving Self Empowerment) which is a network of NGOs and charities working to improve the lives of people in remote parts of Nepal.

Currently in the US presidential race, both Trump and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton are neck-and-neck, and hotel magnate Trump has repeatedly found himself in hot water over a series of disparaging and racial comments, including selling off welfare services, proposing a wall separating his country and Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants and banning all Muslims from settling in America. The US elections are been keenly followed in the UK with most people aware of the main issues and contenders and hours of news time on British television dedicated to the election coverage.

SOURCES:
ITV News, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/itvnews/
Helen Mutton.
” ‘He’s a total, complete utter moron’ Brian Blessed delivers his damning verdict on Donald Trump” – ITV News (7 October 2016) http://www.itv.com/news/2016-10-07/hes-a-total-complete-utter-moron-brian-blessed-delivers-his-damning-verdict-on-trump/
“Brian Blessed” – Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Blessed
IMAGE CREDIT:
“Toy Fair – Brian Blessed” – Hot Grill, Flickr (28 January 2009) https://www.flickr.com/photos/grill/3255741274

 

 

PHOTO MOMENT: The BT Tower

 

A window view of the BT Tower, in Fitzrovia, central London. I took this picture on the 28th of August, 2012, on the first day at my new office in Tottenham Court Road, after my company relocated there from our old site in Bressenden Place, Victoria which was scheduled for demolition.

The BT Tower, formerly known as the ‘Post Office Tower’, was first built in 1961, with construction completed in 1964. Standing in at 191 metres (627 ft), it was initially devised by the then General Post Office as a means of ferrying telecommunications traffic from London to the rest of the UK. It was the tallest structure in London up until the 1980s, and had its own rooftop restaurant which sadly closed in the same decade.

ADDITIONAL SOURCE/IMAGE CREDIT:
“BT Tower” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BT_Tower
Vijay Shah via Facebook.

HUMOUR MOMENT: The Looter’s Prayer

Here’s a little something that I posted on Facebook way back in August 2011 (five years ago). To give you some context first, at that time riots and widespread looting was happening across the UK. The riots first started in my city, London, after a man was shot dead by police in questionable circumstances. The riots soon spread to other major cities. I posted this as a tongue-in-cheek joke and was not intended as a slur against any age or religious group.

It is the Lord’s Prayer reimagined for the rioting classes, and here we have…. the Looter’s Prayer. May the (police) force be with you!

 

The Looters Prayer

Our father who art in prison, my mum knows not his name.
Thy rioting done, you’ll read in the Sun, in Birmingham as it is in London.
Give us this day our welfare bread & forgive us for looting, as we forgive those who give Asbos against us.
…Lead us not into employment but deliver us free housing,
for thine is the petrol bomb, the plunder & all it’s glories,
forever & ever,..

 

 

IMAGE CREDIT:
“A chavvy Christmas: Mary and Joe turn burglars in school’s Nativity study” – Press Team, Mail Online News/Daily Mail/Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group/Associated Newspapers Ltd (10 December 2008) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1093148/A-chavvy-Christmas-Mary-Joe-turn-burglars-schools-Nativity-study.html

PHOTO MOMENT: In memory of Princess Diana

 

A photo shared by an aunt of mine here in the UK, honouring the late Princess Diana of Wales. Yesterday would have been her 55th birthday. A genuine and warm person, much involved in charity work and so adored by the people of Britain, that she was called the People’s Princess, Diana married Prince Charles of Wales in 1981, and had two sons, Princes William and Harry. Born in 1961 (a year before my mother), Diana was the darling of the Royal Family, widely respected for her humble attitude, heartwarming smile and ability to get on with people from all walks of life. However she also suffered from being in the public eye and the eventual dissolution of her marriage to Charles. She tragically died in a car crash in a Paris tunnel in 1997, while her chauffeur Henri Paul was trying to get away from a gang of paparazzi that were pursuing them for pictures.

 

IMAGE CREDIT:
Woman’s Own, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/womansownmagazine/?fref=photo
Marie Hiles.

UK EU REFERENDUM: Brexit or Bremain table

(c) Stephen Hill

With only a week to go until the UK holds a nationwide referendum on whether to remain in the European Union or go it alone, a Remain campaigner have put together a handy little table on Word of prominent leaders, British politicians, economists, historians, scientists and other significant people and organisations and their preferences for Britain to leave or stay. A quick perusal of the Leave side of the table does reveal some rather unsavoury supporters.

I should hasten to mention that as a news blog, the Half-Eaten Mind remains neutral in the debate, and supporters of both sides are encouraged to comment on this table. This is simply something to provoke discussion on a very sensitive and history defining topic, which will affect the UK and its people for a very long time.

The EU referendum takes place on the 23rd of June, 2016, with a similar format to a normal election, albeit with a simple two-question choice rather than a selection of candidates.

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDIT:
Stephen Hill via Ali Hassan Besher.
Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/

 

EDITH MUNRO: Newham pays respects to WWI nurse

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London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via The Newham Mag, KAY ATWAL, IAIN BURNS, Newham Recorder and contributors.

 

Military veterans and members of the Jewish community paid their respects this month to a Newham, east London nurse who gave her life in active service for the country at a special memorial service this past week, council magazine The Newham Mag reports.

The nurse, Edith Hilda Munro, was born in a well-off household in Hackney, the daughter of Scottish engineer John Munro, and local Leah Nathan, and had three brothers and sisters. She first began her illustrious career in the Albert Dock Seaman’s Hospital of Custom House, in the south of the London borough, before finding work with the Voluntary Aid Detachment shortly after it was founded in 1909, a group which sent nurses to treat the injured in war zones. Upon the outbreak of World War I, Munro tended to soldiers injured in the battlefields of Europe.

First World War recruitment poster for the Vol...

First World War recruitment poster for the Voluntary Aid Detachment . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tragically, Munro contracted acute bronchopneumonia, a dangerous lung disease. She then developed heart failure and passed away at the tender age of 23, on the 12th December, 1916. She was then buried by family in East Ham. Sadly she was not regarded as a casualty of war and her grave, in East Ham’s Plashet Jewish Cemetery, laid undiscovered until a research team led by Harold Pollins and Martin Sugarman, with the involvement of AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women) discovered her details and began to piece together Edith’s story.

Her gravestone was eventually reconsecrated and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gave Edith her long awaited and deserved recognition as a war casualty.

The special stone-setting ceremony at the ancient Plashet cemetery was officiated over by Rabbi  Livingstone, senior Jewish chaplain to the Armed Forces. Also in attendance were Newham politicians, members of London’s Jewish community and representatives of St. John’s Ambulance. Also paying their respects were three distant descendants of Edith Munro.

Wreaths of poppies, a symbol of the World Wars, were laid at Munro’s grave while the military theme The Last Post was played. Local historian Stan Kaye, who also contributed to the research team’s efforts, said “It was a very emotional service,”

“I kept thinking what it must have been like 100 years ago when she was buried in this cemetery – cold, and in the middle of the war.”

Newham Council‘s chair and civic lead, Cllr. Joy Laguda, herself a former nurse, who attended the reconsecration ceremony and laid a wreath on behalf of the council, commented: “The stone is a lasting legacy to Edith’s valour”

The Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) was founded in 1909 by the UK armed forces alongisde St. John’s Ambulance and the Red Cross. The VAD nurses, virtually all women, treated battlefield injuries and became renowned and respected for their courage under fire. Many were killed in action from bombing or contracting infections. Hundreds were killed in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, and relatives of VAD nurses who died in the call of duty have long struggled to get their contributions to the war effort properly recognised.

Edith Hilda Munro

Birth:  unknown
Death:  Dec. 12, 1916
West Ham
Greater London, England

She was a VAD nurse, died aged 23.Deaths Dec 1916 Munro Edith H 23 W.Ham 4a 173
 
 
Burial:
Plashet Jewish Cemetery
East Ham
London Borough of Newham
Greater London, England
Plot: plot M.24.35
SOURCES:
“Brave nurse is saluted” – The Newham Mag, Newham Council [Issue 337] (8 April 2016)
“Nurse buried in East Ham was ‘war casualty’ ” – Kay Atwal, Newham Recorder/London24 news network/Archant Community Media Ltd (14 April 2012) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/nurse_buried_in_east_ham_was_war_casualty_1_1348254
“Silvertown war nurse remembered century after dying aged 23” – Iain Burns, Newham Recorder/London24 news network/Archant Community Media Ltd (20 March 2016) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/silvertown_war_nurse_remembered_century_after_dying_aged_23_1_4458309
“Edith Hilda Munro” – Geoffrey Gillon & Stanley Kaye, Find A Grave (25 July 2013) http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=114347036
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:VAD poster.jpg” – Voluntary Aid Detachment & Lumos3, Wikimedia Commons (13 June 2008) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VAD_poster.jpg

UK TERRORISM SCARE: Four-year-old threatened with ‘counter-terrorism measures’ after mispronouncing word

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Luton, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via DAVID BARRETT & The Telegraph

A British four-year-old child was allegedly threatened with counter-terrorism measures after mispronouncing the word ‘cucumber‘ as ‘cooker bomb’ as a wave of hysteria permeates the U.K. in the light of ongoing terrorism threats, national newspaper The Telegraph yesterday. 

The unidentified boy was at nursery when teachers overheard him say ‘cooker bomb’ instead of cucumber during play and workers at the nursery have said the child should be referred to a de-radicalisation and counter-terrorism project, despite the fact that many children of his age regularly mispronounce longer words.

The boy, said to be of ‘Asian‘ heritage, also allegedly drew a picture of a man chopping up a cucumber, technically a fruit, but used widely as a vegetable in both British and South Asian cooking, with a large knife, which triggered further concerns in the worried nursery workers.

Staff at the nursery in Luton, Bedfordshire, around 33.5 miles from central London, spoke with the boy’s mother and said he commented ‘cooker bomb’ when asked about the subject of his picture. They also expressed a wish to refer the incident to the ‘Prevent’ deradicalisation scheme, run by the Home Office government agency. Instead the case was referred to police and social services, who decided no further action would be taken, according to the BBC Asian Network.

The little boy’s mother, who was not named in the Telegraph report, told the newspaper “[The member of nursery staff] kept saying it was this one picture of the man cutting the cucumber, which she said to me is a ‘cooker bomb’.

“I was baffled. It was a horrible day.”

The mother also expressed fears that her child would be taken away from her into care once social services became involved. The case echoes that of a 10-year-old boy, also British Asian, who was visited by police at his home, after he wrote ‘terrorist house’ instead of ‘terraced house’ for a school assignment, triggering a radicalisation alert from his teacher.

Since July 2015, as part of the UK government’s strategy to combat extremism and radicalisation among young people and the voting in of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, teachers have been required to report any incidents alluding to terrorism and violence amongst their pupils, but this has led to numerous mistakes, many almost farcical, as teachers complained that the reporting rules were not clear enough. Many teaching unions have said that the government measures have been poorly laid out to the educational community. 

Alex Kenny from the National Union of Teachers said: “Teachers are scared of getting it wrong.

“They think Ofsted is going to criticise them if they haven’t reported these things, and you end up [with] the boy making the spelling mistake, or the boy saying something in Arabic – that then gets reported on.”

Figures published by the Telegraph state that just under 2,000 under-15s were referred to counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation initiatives such as Prevent in the period between January 2012 and December 2015.

SOURCES:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
AsianWorld Newspaper, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/AsianWorldNews
“Four-year-old who ‘mispronounced the word cucumber’ threatened with counter-terrorism measures” – David Barrett, The Telegraph – Home – News – UK News – Terrorism in the UK/Telegraph Media Group Limited (11 March 2016) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/12191543/Four-year-old-who-mispronounced-the-word-cucumber-threatened-with-counter-terrorism-measures.html
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

LONDON HOUSING CRISIS: Bedding down in a van

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London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via JIMMY NSUBUGA & Metro

As London’s housing crisis spirals out of control, and both house prices and rents became more and more painful for the city’s 8 million inhabitants, one enterprising worker has taken a peculiar, if somewhat desperate, solution to keeping a roof over his head, the newspaper Metro reported yesterday.

Alex Hill, aged 24, is an IT worker who emigrated to the UK’s capital from the small town of Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire county, England. Upon arriving in the big city, he found the price of renting beyond a joke, with single bedrooms in flatshares and houseshares now costing an average £550-750 per month. Buying a house would have also been just a dream, with the average London house now selling for around £500,000. There was no way, even in his relatively well-paid career, that Alex would have been able to purchase outright.

English: Boscombe, blue van A nice touch of se...

English: Boscombe, blue van A nice touch of self-parody, I’m sure! Looking up Westby Road towards Sea Road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Instead he set up home….in a large blue commercial van. Hill uses the van as a place to sleep, parking it in side streets. While this seems makeshift, the IT employee, who works in the City, is able to save £1,000 per month on rent and utilities. Unfortunately the van has no running water or WC facilities, so Hill is forced to avoid drinking fluids after 7:00 pm to avoid having to use the toilet in a city where public urination is illegal.

He installed a bed in the vehicle, which also comes equipped with a solar powered generator for electricity and a small heater to keep Hill warm during this month’s cold winter nights.

“I was planning to cycle around Europe for a few months last summer and had already handed in the notice for my flat,” he told student newspaper The Tab.

“The plan was to stay with friends until I got another flat, but I decided to try out living in my car for a few weeks and showering at work.”

He often parks his unusual mobile home in hip places like Clapham, Brixton or anywhere in Islington where he can visit friends and camp outside after, and surprisingly with such a large van in a city notorious for its scarcity and expense of parking places, Alex Hill says he has no trouble with parking.

He added: “I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone.

‘The most important thing for me was that I could still shower every day at the office, but it depends what you feel you need.”

It is not illegal in the UK to sleep or even live in your vehicle. Many homeless people often live in their cars in preference to being on the streets, and thousands of British holidaymakers often go on camping holidays in caravans, but Alex’s situation is also a sad example of the difficulties in finding safe and affordable accommodation in the capital, even for those in well-paid jobs.

Hill has been sleeping in his van since September 2015. The Metro article does not say whether he has any plans to move into a des res less mobile and four-wheeled.

SOURCES:
Metro, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/MetroUK/?fref=nf
“IT worker saves £1k each month by living in a van in London” – Jimmy Nsubuga, Metro/Associated Newspapers Limited (4 March 2016) http://metro.co.uk/2016/03/04/it-worker-saves-1k-each-month-by-living-in-a-van-in-london-5734100/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Boscombe, blue van – geograph.org.uk – 1277393.jpg” –  Mike Faherty, geograph.org.uk via Wikimedia Commons (29 April 2009) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boscombe,_blue_van_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1277393.jpg