|LETTERS FROM LONDON
|REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
10 March 2018
|Name Your Poison
Remember Alexander Litvinenko poisoned by radioactive polonium in London in
2006? Of course you do. And you know how ‘appalled’ the government was. Oh
right. They weren’t, were they? “Litvinenko who? Oh right. That Litvinenko.”
The government’s response with the poisoning of double-agent Sergei Skripal
and his daughter? First it was not sending Wills to the World Cup. Ohhhh. Now
there’s a really scary threat. Do we hear Putin laughing? We do have Boris don't
we? Laughing or not, he said Russia would be “punished” if found responsible.
“With our American friends (laughing here), we are making the case that it is
time to bring the Russians firmly to heel. There is no doubt that there is a great
deal of anxiety about what is now happening”. All bullying and no specifics, eh
Boris? Do you suppose Putin has been watching reruns of Midsomers Murders
Next fierce and fervent Boris called Russia a “malign and disruptive force” and
threatened that British officials would skip the World Cup in Russia this summer
if the Kremlin were linked to the Skripal’s apparent poisoning. Be afraid, be very
Sergei Skripal and his daughter are in critical condition after collapsing on a
bench in Salisbury. Putin has called the attempted poisoning of Skripal a “tragic”
situation – that he isn’t dead yet? Skripal was pardoned by then president,
Medvedev in 2010, after being exchanged at the Vienna airport and given refuge
We know Skripal’s wife Lyudmila died aged 59 in 2012, before his son
Alexander at aged 43 in 2017. OK so far – perhaps – but naturally mystery
surrounds the cause of death for both, with his wife's death certificate claiming
she died of cancer while neighbours saying it was in a car crash. Cancer- car
crash. The only thing in common is alliteration. As for Skripal's son, he is said to
have been killed in a car crash in St Petersburg last year – but the family's
cleaner said he had actually died from liver problems. Hmm. So, the typical
Kremlin explanation is death-by-car. Right.
Back to Putin: “If someone makes a decision to destroy Russia, then we have a
legitimate right to respond.” Hmmm. He met with senior FSB staff – you know,
what used to be called the KGB – sounds less threatening don’t you think? - to
offer praise for “uncovering 397 spies”. No really. Evidently in 2010 the deified
dictator warned: “Traitors will kick the bucket – trust me.” Is that a popular
Russian phrase taken from the US? ‘Kick the bucket’? Euphemism for poisoned
then? Putin passed a law to permit the FSB powers to execute ‘enemies of
Russia’ on foreign soil.
If Russia comes under a nuclear attack: “The decision to use nuclear weapons
can only be made if our early warning system not only detects a missile launch
but clearly forecasts its flight path and the time when warheads reach the
Putin boasted of an array of new nuclear weapons, bombers, as well as the
usual spy planes and submarines. He said: “Yes, it will mean a global
catastrophe for mankind, for the entire world. But as a citizen of Russia and the
head of Russian state I would ask: What is such a world for, if there were no
Russia?” A world without Russia. I think we could manage. Hmmm. RAF fighter
jets intercepted Russian bombers eight times in the past two years.
A friend of Litvinenko, Alexander Goldfarb has said any assassination of a
defector could be part of Putin’s re-election campaign with the first round of
elections. As if he needs one. “The majority of Russians would perceive it as the
right thing to do and boost Vladimir Putin’s image as a tough nationalist leader.”
He said the UK had been guilty of “appeasement”. Oh right. Creating it as the
unsurpassed country for laundering money in the world. Since 2010 when the
Tories came into government, they have pocketed ‘donations’ of at least £3m
from Russian lobbyists and billionaires. Clandestine corruption? Never; and for
example, the wife a of a former Putin minister paid £160,000 to play tennis with
CallMeDave. Really. Aren’t we proud?
If you haven’t been following the various activities of Russia to achieve world
domination…Georgia, Crimea and Ukraine, Estonia and Syria…. And let’s not
forget all those Russian journalists, human rights, all dead and 14 other
Now Britain is preparing to expel dozens of Russian diplomats and spies in
retaliation for the nerve agent attack. However, Home Secretary, Amber Rudd
warned that when Britain “takes ‘action’ you may not hear about it all”. Uh oh.
Covert operations. Sounds like Russia doesn’t it?
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told ITV that “some action we take may of
course be in the arena of cyber warfare”. Oh dear. “The UK will not be pushed
around.” Oh OK. And Theresa? Hmmm. Not acquiescing yet again?
Before we finally seal the deal to be Little Britain, the government thinks it can
play tough. Indeed. Channel 4 News quoted a Russian exile saying Skripal was
still working in cybersecurity, as well as with MI6. The plot thickens.
Don’t Make Me Laugh
Goodness me, is Amazon laughing at you? Well, of course it is as it sells you
everything you don’t need, but it has Alexa doing it for them.
There you are, asleep when you are rudely awakened by a laugh you can’t
identify. Really. Evidently Alexa suddenly and inexplicably laughs when it’s gone
silent. No joke. I know, sorry. In fact, no one has told a joke. It hasn’t been
revealed what Alexa is finding so hilariously funny.
People have also reported that their Alexa refused to let them turn the lights off.
"They kept turning back on. After the third request, Alexa stopped responding
and instead did an evil laugh. The laugh wasn't in the Alexa voice. It sounded like
a real person." What? Others have reported: “She has three or four
laughs…one really creepy.” And who at Amazon programmed this exactly? More
descriptions such as: “witch-like”, “bone-chilling”, “creepy”, scaring little children.
Amazon: The company said it knows that Amazon Echo devices with its voice-
enabled assistant Alexa are randomly laughing, and it’s “working to fix it.” Oh,
how many times have we heard that standard line. “In rare circumstances, Alexa
can mistakenly hear the phrase ‘Alexa, laugh.’” When everybody is asleep?
Really? The solution? They’re disabling the command and changing it to “Alexa,
can you laugh?” Wait. Does any Alexa owner actually want it, or excuse me, her
to actually laugh? And what kind of laugh? Is there a choice? Let me help here:
giggle, guffaw, hysterical, titter, twitter, chuckle, chortle, cackle, creepy, sinister,
scary, loud, soft…so many to choose from. I know. What if Alexa could imitate
your own laugh? Actually, I really don’t care. I have no plans to let laughing
Alexa into my life to – erm – gather personal data along with my phone, telly,
email, ad inf.
Talking to a Brick Wall
You seriously could not make it up. Theresa bricked in while making a speech
on creating masses and masses of houses. You know, the masses and masses
she has promised over and over again to deliver personally?
She naturally blamed cash-poor councils and greedy developers – per usual.
Lest we forget: Theresa admitted she “opposed a number of new developments
in my own constituency.” Actually ‘a number’ was dozens of building projects in
the South East. Her very first speech in the House of Commons promised to
fight “the threat of development.” Hmmm. Poor Theresa clearly has such a
continuing memory issue. Oh. Right. Commonly known as inaccuracies. OK.
And all those empty house? No problem for Theresa. She simply ignores them
and the councils by refusing to give them the power to crack down. and to think
- not even a plan or a review. Tut tut. I’m thinking brick up the wall now. Oops.
Just couldn’t resist. Ian Duncan Smith told Theresa to stay strong and stable
against the evil EU by watching The Great Celebrity Bake Off or possibly Food
Unwrapped. “Could she remind them that cake exists to be eaten and cherries
exist to be picked.” Sigh. “Exist”? How did we not know cake and cherries
existed to exist? Is English his first language?
Gosh. The brilliant Gary Oldman thanked his 98-year-old mum in his Oscar
acceptance speech. “…get the kettle on. I’m bringing Oscar.” Later he thanked
– America. Huh? “I’ve lived in America for the longest time and I am deeply
grateful to the loves and friendships I have made and the wonderful gifts it has
given me. My home, my livelihood, my family and now my Oscar.” Hmm. What
British actor doesn’t then? Just asking. See. You are having a problem thinking
of one who doesn’t aren’t you? Piers Morgan responded with: “he basically
stood there and was like, ‘I’m so grateful to America’. Wait, it was this country
that empowered you, Gary Oldman.” His darkest hour then or simply nil by
The Mothers of Invention
Have we already forgotten International Women’s Day? As a little reminder that it
should be celebrated – hmm – well, possibly not ‘celebrated’ per se considering
all the appalling statistics with regards to the status of women in the world –
nevertheless, let’s recall just a few who have should be celebrated.
Surely you know about Hedy Lamarr by now? Really? You should if you have
WiFi. Extraordinary life, but not the point. At the beginning of WWll she and
composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied
torpedoes which used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to
defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. The navy did not adopt the
technology until the 1960s. Frequency hopping went on to be the basis of both
WiFi and Bluetooth.
All this with no formal training and being self-taught she improved traffic
stoplights, a tablet that would dissolve in water to create a carbonated drink, and
re-shaped aeroplane wings. She threw herself into the war effort, she
assiduously campaigned for fair pay for women. Meanwhile considered the most
beautiful woman in the world. We can of course add one of the cleverest. Are
you saying ‘who knew’? Hmm. Wonder why….
As for the stars in the sky, nameless women are responsible for their
classification. So when you look up to a clear star-filled sky – all right, if you are
not in London, but do it anyway as a sort of homage to the women who were
hired to classify the stars. They calculated positions. One woman calculated half
a million. Oh you must be star-struck with that one. They discovered that stars
were not made of same material as earth, but actually 75% hydrogen and 25%
helium. They applied quantum mechanics to the knowledge of the stars. People
And let’s kiss the coffin of Mary Wollstonecraft (in Bournemouth if you need to
know) on the anniversary of her birth every year I’d say. I know, I know, you
could celebrate her death, but why?
All those brilliant women in the world dead and alive who have changed the entire
course of culture, science, economics, humanity, history, – nameless and
buried as it were. Nice. Really. Just think about where would you be without your
mother? Happy Mother’s Day all round.