There’s no doubt that we’re in the middle of what journalists call the silly season (where news is short and oddball stories take centre stage). But I couldn’t resist a chuckle when I read a collection of stories about policing in Britain where you get the impression that the cops are not going to investigate anything anymore – that is unless they get a sniff of historical sexual abuse. They’re facing cutbacks in funding and have to find economies. Forces may have to merge to reduce manpower but that means only one chief constable and that’s going down like a lead balloon. And when it’s suggested that there should be UK-wide purchasing of things like police helmets, handcuffs, etc, there’s criticism because it takes away local control, even though costs could be cut by half. And now comes the most absurd proposals yet:-  people living on odd numbers of streets won’t get “minor” crimes like attempted break-in’s investigated but people living in even numbered houses will;  and that folk will be invited to e-mail in pictures of incidents to save police attending. It’s amazing how much police time, effort and money can be devoted to certain things and not others. Consider the witch-hunt against journalists paying for stories – called chequebook journalism. It was suggested the money was bribery, but thankfully, common sense prevailed and investigative journalism is still alive and well as the cases were thrown out by juries, but only after millions of pounds were wasted in an attempt by “authority” to crack down on the Press. I don’t think the public really want to know whether former PM Ted Heath was having sex with boys – after all he’s been dead for 10 years. What’s far more important (in addition of course to the trauma suffered by the youngsters) is whether there was any official cover-up and by whom and to bring prosecutions against them, because, no doubt, if there was a cover-up, the culprits are still alive. The trouble about historic sexual abuse and the police going public with names, it encourages all manner of oddballs to make spurious allegations, all of which have to be followed up and many end up wasting police time – diverting them away from what the public care more about – like assaults, robberies, burglaries, law and order offences and real sex crimes happening today.
As the newspaper silly season progresses the stories get sillier, and here’s a few more examples.
An Algerian bridegroom agreed to marry his bride in an arranged marriage. All was well during the ceremony, when he presumably was satisfied with what he saw. However, it all went wrong the following morning when he looked upon his bride’s face for the first time without makeup. Apparently it was so bad he failed to recognise her and even accused her of being a thief who had broken into his house! He decided to take her to court – accusing her of inflicting ‘psychological suffering’ on him by ‘cheating’ him with her make-up and is seeking £13,000 damages.

Silly season matrimonial stories have come out of India too. There you can get a divorce for non-physical abuse; the problem however, is determining whether that abuse is bad enough to warrant the court ending a marriage. A sailor claimed his wife’s love of going out partying constituted non-physical abuse. However, the court concluded that the husband also liked parties, and so what was good enough for him was good enough for her. Divorce application failed. But one application which did succeed was that of a husband who accused his wife of being far too demanding in bed. He said she had an “excessive and insatiable appetite for sex” ever since their marriage two years prior. He alleged that she would force him to have sex, even at times when he was sick, and threatened to sleep with other men if or when he refused. She failed to attend court, which led the judge to conclude the husband’s story was true! In another case a man sought a divorce from his wife on the grounds of cruelty in part because of her dress sense. The man, in his 30s and married since 2009, was reportedly anguished by his wife’s decision to often wear shirts and trousers to her workplace instead of traditional Indian clothing. This divorce was granted, but overruled by a higher court.
In another arranged marriage, a husband won a divorce because he discovered pimples and boils on his wife’s face when she removed her veil and this prevented him from consummating their marriage during their honeymoon. The court decided her “repulsive” skin condition was undoubtedly tragic for her but also traumatic for the spouse. Finally a man won a divorce because his new wife refused to make tea for his family.

If you are in the UK and spot a man dressed in camouflage and hiding in bushes there’s a very good reason. He’s lying in wait in the hope of catching dog owners in the act of not clearing up after their pets!  Andrew Hawes, from Leiston, Suffolk, plans to take photos of the culprits and publish the pictures online if they refuse to clear up the mess. And he will pass the details to police once offenders are identified. We need the same public spirited action here in Spain – if only the police would take the appropriate action and take offenders to court.

Those hotel staff in Sousse, Tunisia, who formed a human shield to prevent the madman extremist from killing even more holidaymakers than he did were nothing less than national heroes. The death toll was 38 people, 30 of them Brits – but it could have been far higher had it not been for employees at the Bellevue Park Hotel. How sad it is to hear that despite their brave efforts, the resort’s staff are now set to be sacked because terror warnings issued by the Foreign Office have left the hotel empty and forced into closure. Those staff would have been getting good pay and loads of tips at the peak of the summer season. Instead they now face life on the dole and in Tunisia being unemployed is far, far worse than in the UK, because that country has no benefits system.  A total of 100 staff are due to lose their jobs on August 20th, and sadly in many places in the world there is scant justice – here is an example where there is none.

Too many Brits are living on a financial knife-edge and an interest rate rise could easily tip them over the edge. Bank of England governor Mark Carney says Britain suffered a deeper recession and took longer to recover because families were crippled by personal debt. Banks had gone lending crazy and people had over-stretched themselves. And what has happened since is that instead of people paying off capital while interest rates are at rock bottom levels, many have actually built up more debts, and that doesn’t bode well when rates start to rise. Mark Carney says the one redeeming factor is that wages are rising, and this will allow most to cope with higher mortgage repayments.
But the danger of that is that we will go into a wage rise interest rate rise spiral creating increasing inflation. It really is a tricky call economically. Carney wants Brits on one hand to keep spending to avoid the recovery stalling, but has sent out a clear warning that Brits should prepare for interest rate rises. And that cannot come soon enough to help the many pensioners and ex-pats trying to live on appallingly low interest rates on their savings.

Did’nt you love what England did to the Aussies by thrashing them at Trent Bridge to get back the Ashes last Saturday, and of course skittling them out for 60 last Thursday?  How many of you Brits heard this on the news, or watched live as Australian after Australian made their way back to the pavilion and had an amazing feeling of true national pride?  Come on, be honest, it made you feel good to the British – and even better to be English. I found myself whistling Rule Britannia.