Human Rights?

Not many people know this but a few years ago I went to Nottingham Prison.


I went for the day – as part of programme which let prisoners ‘adjust’ after a long period of being “banged up”. It was eye opening!

I came away with a very different view of such people. I know I was only allowed near a few chosen inmates – these were not Anthony Hopkins characters. The ones I met, it seemed to me, had probably been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or had been at the wrong end of complex love triangles. Or simply drunk. They were lifers.

Last week was story though which deserves attention! A triple murderer has challenged the “life means life” following a bonkers decision in the European Court of Human Rights. They have determined that some tariffs which force convicted murderers to die in Jail are “inhuman and degrading”.

The man bringing this case? Arthur Hutchinson – convicted of – 1. breaking into someones home. 2. Stabbing the couple who lived there to death (on the eve of their daughters wedding). 3. Killing one of their sons. 4. Raping another wedding guest.

Whilst I can have some sympathy with the drunken fight that went horribly wrong (and the inmates I spoke to accepted their crime and punishment) – am I alone in wondering just what this Court in Strasbourg are thinking?

They have certainly lost sight, in Arthur Hutchinson’s case, of the Human Rights he lost when he destroyed at least four peoples lives. In some cases – life needs to mean life. After all “Life” was introduced to appease the British Public when the Death Penalty was abolished…

I cannot imagine on what ground this man can ever be let out of prison.

What happens in May 2015?

I’m involved in a couple of professional matters where there is a possibility of some Government wonga – from two different agencies.


In each case the process is fairly tortuous – in one case more so than the other. Sticking needles in your eye is more fun. Meetings with the agency concerned are life sapping. These people would make great Business Prevention Officers. “Process” remains their middle name. “Due diligence” and “more information” are a lifestyle choice – their sentences are sprinkled with such joy.

Ordinarily you would walk away – but they are giving away free money. Even if it takes time.

But time is an interesting construct in this world. On the one hand the process takes time – and a lot longer than you can conceive. Two months is generally ‘quick’. Certainly for them to read all that they have to read. And ask more questions. “Further and better particulars M’Lud”, they utter.

But the second date -which is cast in stone is March 2015. All free wonga must be spent by this magical date. It has to be out of the door, and washed through the system. Ideally, in my industry, you need to have a building up – open and the lights on. And a sign saying, “Built By The Warm and Loving Tories”.

I have put two and two together and cynically wonder if this is a ruse to convince the voters at the election in May 2015 that the current encumbants have actually done something. Or perhaps this is just coincidence?

But – just a thought. What happens after May 2015? Will the money have run out? Is it back to austerity measures? Because the March 2015 drop dead date suggests there is nothing beyond there?

(Note: All names and characters are fictional to protect the innocent)

The joy of Lex

I was amused to see that the Oxford English Dictionary have decided to water down the meaning of the word ‘literally’ last week. Literally they’ve blown it apart. And that’s the reason; we have been incorrectly using the word for long enough now that the OED need to change the definition.


Apparently it has now become accepted that “The man has literally been to Hell and back” doesn’t quite do what it says on the tin. “He literally exploded in rage” is a fairly messy end. So literally is not as literal as it was…

And then I saw the new programme on Friday night, “Big School” – which I thought was really funny – although the critics disagreed (I generally regard programmes or films as brilliant if the critics hate them!).

It included David Walliams and Catherine Tate – who crossed swords over two other everyday phrases – Tate suggested she always gave 110% - Walliams pointed out that this wasn’t quite possible mathematically. Tate then went on to say that she would do a 360 degree turn – again Walliams helpfully pointed out she needed to be working on 180 degree – or she’d be back at where she started. Both explanations were lost on her!

I liked the OED explanation that language evolves. They simply reflect those changes…

How green are trams?

The works outside my office continue to provide fascination – the construction is quite intricate. We also have a Banksman – whose job it is to keep asleep at the entrance to the tram work area.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 23.19.10

In reality the mess is fairly horrendous. The traffic routes change frequently and we have temporary – and rather silly traffic lights (which people generally ignore). The lanes are narrow in part. It’s just an accident waiting to happen.

I guess that there are probably 1,000 cars which use the NG2 business park each work day. We have some big users – Speedo, Geldards, Experian and the like.

But from next week we have a new menace.

You can currently turn right and left into the park – but the wise people that run the system have decreed that there is to be a left turn only. Those of us wanting to turn right as we usually do must now turn left – after a diversion. The diversion is 2.2 miles.

So if we assume that 50% of the traffic comes into the estate turning right – that’s 500 cars twice a day (most people go out for lunch) doing 2.2 miles extra. For four months! That could be 80 + days..

500 x 2 x 2.2 x 80 = 176,000 extra miles!

I tried to get a carbon calculator to work this out – but they think it silly that you would do 176,000 miles – but you can see from the picture the effect – if you times the figures by 1,000.

Or in English – that’s like driving round the earth 7 times…

How green is the tram?? Especially as it’s not running yet?

And don’t start me on the fact that we have to pay the Workplace Parking Tax (Levy) for the pleasure of this.

[I do realise that this is a very unscientific approach for those of you with maths degrees - but I'm #justsayin]

The Squash starts here …

You might have spotted that my blog has been a bit quiet over the last few weeks – I have been a bit busy!

Fantasy Squash .com hi res

My ‘work’ at Nottingham Squash Rackets Club has, over the last few months been very challenging. Partly as a result of a difficult financial situation but also be cause some people who I thought are real supporters turned out not to be. But the Club is bigger than a few individuals.

I blogged early in July that we had assembled a PSL team – you can read about that here.

And next week we see one of the first tournaments of the 2013/14 season – when Nottingham plays host to the $5,000 Mantis Fantasy Squash Nottingham Open tournament. The great thing is that two of Nottingham’s Pro’s are in the draw – Ollie Holland (ranked 231 in the world) and Dec James (ranked 104 in the world) have some tough matches in the first round – but they are both tenacious and talented players. The top seed is Jan Koukal from the Czech Republic (ranked 70 in the world).

Ollie and Dec play on next Thursday 22nd August – from around 6pm.

If you want to see some world class squash – in the best squash club in the world – feel free to come down. On Thursday entry is free – we’d love you to see the facilities and we’d love you to see this amazing game. If you do come down – come and say hello!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Nottingham Tagged Dec James, Fantasy Squash, Mantis, , , Ollie Holland, The park

Robin Hood – relevant to Nottingham

Over the last few weeks I have been trying to defend Nottingham! It is hard to bring someone here and show them all positives. I then saw some comments about the relevance of Robin Hood to the City today. Rather I saw a question as to whether Robin Hood was relevant in 2013.


And I came across a document produced by my good mate John Lyle. He wrote this back in 2009 – when we were part of the proper Sheriffs Commission. We were both binned when a new broom swept clean – but we’re not bitter!

Back to the plot – John wrote this about the relevance of Robin Hood. These are his brand values. It is brilliant.

Social Justice

Perhaps because he was a victim of a major injustice himself, he fought the cause for others – there is a very strong case that his role was never simple robbery, but always more based on a theme of social justice.

Green environmentalist

The green colour so strongly associated with Robin Hood has become a perfect one for the brand.

He lived amongst the trees of Sherwood Forest and described the major Oak as the ‘council tree’ of his outlaw band. At that time the forest was over 100,000 acres compared to 450 acres now. They saw the Forest and trees as a place of safety and lived off the land, raiding the kings ‘larder’, by poaching his game.


Robin hood is a romantic in two senses of the word. Firstly, his story cannot be separated from that of Maid Marian – even though it appears clear that their ‘relationship’ is born from a combination of individual British and French stories.

His hopeless romanticism is also portrayed constantly, in that he is fighting a battle against a tyrannical state, that he can never really win in the long run – but he keeps striving for what he believes is right.

Clever and brave

Robin Hood could rarely win in a head to head fight, unless it was in an archery competition, where he was world class. He was nearly always portrayed as using positive trickery and cunning to win through. Often with the help of disguises and sleights of
hand he used his brains before he used his brawn to defeat the succession of enemies he faced.

Part of a team

He was also very much a team player. His band of merry men and women are very much part of the myth and legend.

Courteous and humorous

There is strong evidence that he was both humorous and courteous. All of the stories relating to his meeting with Little John show the two fighting and laughing in equal measure.

©John Lyle 2009 – genius.

Not a fashion show …

Not A Fashion Show will be held in Exchange Arcade this Wednesday – 14 August.


It’s a fashion show with some very unusual models. Judges, clergymen, senior police people and civic dignitaries – including the Sheriff of Nottingham – who will all be sashaying down the catwalk to music of their choice, showing off their finery. They will be joined by some of Nottingham’s own “style makers” recruited by city model spotters, who have been signing up style stars from the streets for the past few weeks.

We can expect some extreme styles – and some highly individual clothes, make up and hair styles. Although perhaps a judge in his wig would be hard to beat in the extreme style stakes!

Not a Fashion Show will be happening in Gateshead and Liverpool too. Held in conjunction with NYAS, the advocacy service for young people, it is the start of a national campaign for equal rights for the 66,000 young people in care, held to mark National Youth Week.

Not A Fashion Show started in Nottingham as a pilot project 3 years ago – it’s the brainchild of international designer Daniel Hanson, who is based in Nottingham. You may know that Daniel designs dressing gowns for companies in London and New York, including Burberry and the leading Saville Row tailors, as well as having his own brand in Harrods – and doing bespoke designs for celebrity clients that we probably shouldn’t name – but he might be able to!

If you get a chance – go along – it starts at 6pm in the Exchange Arcade.

Blogging and abuse?

I have been blogging for nearly 4 years. In that time there have been a couple of instances where there’s been a little storm in a teacup and a lively debate has ensued. But I never quite got to the level of abuse of my good mate Johnny Lyle – who I was with in Boston back in 2009 – we jointly blogged (here) about our trip and seemed to upset the locals (here)…

ft and J Prichard compose a reply...

ft and J Prichard compose a reply…

I get lots of comments on blogs (just over 2000 to date). Most are constructive in adding to the debate. I also get lots of comments when I meet people – it’s all a bit of sport.

But last week I was left two abusive and personal comments. Fair play – these two people (‘ft’ and ‘J Pritchard’) are entitled to a view about me if they wish. I haven’t published them – as the language is fairly choice. I did try to email them both – but they have dummy email addresses and you just get a delivery fail note. I wondered how I had managed to upset them to the extent that they went to the trouble of writing the diatribe they felt necessary.

This is not a complaint about the comments – but rather a reflection on the downside of the internet.

In the last week the trolls on Twitter have attacked Mary Beard – threatening her with a Bomb attack and Caroline Criado-Perez with the threat of rape for campaigning for Jane Austen to be pictured on the new £10 note. Some of the trolls have been arrested – rightly so. This mornings papers are full of the sad story of Hannah Smith who commited suicide after cyber-bullying.

It seems that I also have some troll followers. If you really wanted a debate ft and J Prichard you would be brave enough to leave your name and email address?

Control Freaks…

In general terms I agree with there being some control in place; it makes for civilised society. They guy caught speeding on Merseyside last week at 165mph might have been unlucky (it was 5am) but he was probably pushing at the boundaries of sensibility. In fairness he was driving a car capable of the speed, but nonetheless it was a bit quick.


I was watching a great video on YouTube a couple of weeks ago called ‘Stand Your Ground‘. It follows a group of photographers in London two years ago. If you have 15 minutes to spare it is worth watching. The level of paranoia is astonishing – but so is level of ignorance of the law. Some of the no-neck security guards sound so convincing they even believe the lies themselves. Just for the avoidance of doubt:

* You can take pictures of anything from the pavement.
* Under s.44 of the Anti Terrorism Act the Police can view images if they believe they are connected with terrorism.
* The Police Cannot delete your images.

I was in Nottingham on Friday and was waiting to meet someone. If you know Nottingham an identifiable place is ‘by the Lions’. In the Market Square.

I was minding my own business but watching a pair of pretend Policeman asking people to move off the steps of the Council House. For ‘security reasons’. It was hot – people were eating ce cream and drinking cold drinks. Hardly a security matter?

But what really appalls me about this is that this Council House – and it’s steps – belong to the people of Nottingham. It is our Council House. I understand keeping a route clear for visitors, but I’m struggling with this level of control.

We need to stop this creep of power. This is becoming more Orwellian by the week?