* Posts by Sceptical Bastard

566 publicly visible posts • joined 16 May 2007


Vanilla Ice to tackle panto Captain Hook

Sceptical Bastard

What has this story taught us?

1) Vanilla Ice is an ageing wigger knobhead

2) Chatham, Gravesend and Stoke are generally considered to be shit-holes

3) We should NOT mess with The Moderatrix

Air NZ safety vid provokes terror in the skies

Sceptical Bastard

Horrible ...

... Just horrible!

If I saw that vid on my seatback I'd be heading for the emergency shoot pronto.

The Professionals set to abseil into cinema

Sceptical Bastard
Thumb Down

It was godawful then...

... and it'll be godawful now.

The Professionals seemed to have two principle locations: Southall gas works for the 'industrial' scenes and Black Park (near Slough) for the 'countryside' scenes (plus a few streets in west London for the 'town' scenes).

The acting was similarly limited. And as for those naff Ford Capris...

Gone but not lamented.

Portsmouth redefines the Olympic-sized swimming pool

Sceptical Bastard


Hang your head in shame, Portsmouth Council! As if your town didn't have a bad enough reputation already...

Stephen Fry cans Japan trip over nuke survivor quip

Sceptical Bastard

Not a Fry fan but...

... WTF are the Japanese complaining about? Surely not Fry's innocuous observation itself?

It's self-evidently unlucky to get nuked twice; but equally lucky to survive both bombings. I reckon it is much more like that the Japanese are hyper-sensitive about the bombings per se (which, I suppose, is understandable) just as they tend to be a tad touchy about us mentioning their pre-war treatment of Chinese civilians and wartime treatment of both civies and PoWs.

I never thought I'd find myself standing up for Stephen Fry (who, in other respects, I regard as a smug pompous oleaginous celebretard) but in this case I cannot see how any one would take offence at his remark.

Mexican woman gets litigious on Top Gear's ass

Sceptical Bastard

As bad as each other?

While I agree that the Mexicans seemingly can't take a joke - albeit a piss-poor one - it is hard to champion the sort of deliberately confrontational oafishness of Top Gear and the trio of excruciatingly bloke-ish Neanderthals who present it.

Ask yourself this: would you rather be stuck in a pub with a 30-year-old female jewellery designer or Jeremy Clarkson?

Mine's the blanket with a hole in it

Boney M frontman checks out at 61

Sceptical Bastard
IT Angle

@ ShaggyDoggy

"This is beyond weird"? No it isn't, it is merely a coincidence. Get a grip, man.

Like other commentards I can't see any IT angle in that press release about the death of a minor pop performer.

Captain Beefheart (a much more significant, talented and influential musician and artist) died last week and I didn't see anything about that on El Reg.

Civil servants touted ID cards to friends, family as flop loomed

Sceptical Bastard

Totems of illiberality

So 13,200 issued cards wasted £292m? Unless my pocket calculator is malfunctioning, that is approx £22,121 - TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND QUID - for every card issued. Not exactly great value for money in a time of economic crisis was it?

It might be tempting to dismiss the punters who paid for cards as fools or dupes. But even so it is disgraceful that a government effectively sold those poor bastards worthless goods and then refused to refund them.

That creep Burnham still thinks that the failed ID card scheme was a 'good idea' eh? Perhaps he and the rest of his discredited and loathed colleagues still don't understand why we booted them out even though the only alternative was Cameron and his cronies.

Labour moots using speed cameras to reward law-abiding drivers

Sceptical Bastard

Epic fail

Ludicrous illiberal unworkable 'ideas' like that remind us why we gave that bunch of lame freaks the boot. Trouble is, we then elected another bunch of lame freaks.

Alan Sugar's 'cockup braindead in call centre clueless' BT row

Sceptical Bastard

I remember Amstrad's call centre

Sauce for the goose, "Lord" Alan.

Back in the day I used an Amstrad (a PC 1640 if I recall) and it was a dog of a machine. I had to call Amstrad "tech support" once or twice. The call centre was based at Brentwood, Essex, and I remember it was one of the earliest occasions I encountered a premium rate phone number. Needless to say it was pretty much useless as a helpline but the BOFHs there were very good at keeping you on the line as long as possible.

It is beyond belief that such a bombastic egregious opinionated bullying jumped-up barrow boy ever got to be a 'celeb', let alone front a television show. A truly hateful spiv.

Minister 'C*nt' promises £50m to get fabtastic fibre for all

Sceptical Bastard

@ Blofeld's Cat, nickrw, Steven Jones et al

OK, OK, so a 'proper' spoonerism of "Jeremy Hunt" is Juremy Hent. OK already!

But Naughtie didn't say "Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture" - he said (or tried to say) "Jeremy Hunt the Culture Secretary"

So the confusion of initial consonants was between the words Hunt and Culture. That is a Spoonerism in my book or as near to it as makes no difference.

Still damn funny whatever you call it.

Sceptical Bastard

I heard it

Yup, Jim Naughty definitely did a spoonerism and pronounced Hunt with a C. He spoilt it rather by apologising profusely a little later.

As to the government's announcement, as there is no new cash (just shuffling existing money around) and as previous targets have proved more aspirational then actual, I hold out little hope of the UK ever having the "best broadband in Europe". Hunt's glib assurances are unlikely to become reality.

So I'm not sure why Naughtie felt the need to apologise - like most of our political overlords Jeremy is a c*nt.

Researchers bypass Internet Explorer Protected Mode

Sceptical Bastard

Shock! Horror!

Internet Explorer not secure? IE vulnerable to exploits? Surely not!

BTW, it's depressing how this comments thread has degenerated into the entirely predictable flamewar between fanbois of various OSs.

@ Deadly_NZ: "...linux fanbois have no life ... me i'll take my missus to the beach" Well, whoopy-do, aren't you the clever one.

Mass mind control artist condemns El Reg to obscurity

Sceptical Bastard

Sorry, Rush who?

An obscure commentator on an obscure station in an obscure backward country - who is this Rush Limbaugh?

My Droid EXPLODED mid phone call, says Texan

Sceptical Bastard

Sod the story

"Man says Droid exploded mid phone call" has got to be the best El Reg headline in years!

This year's comedy Xmas No. 1 contender: Silent song 4'33"

Sceptical Bastard

@ Code Monkey,

I don't care who it's performed by or whether it's an accurate rendition of Cage's meisterverk. All I want is for it reach number one.

I don't want that because " some wonk on Facebook told you to." I want that because it sticks it up that bog-brush-haired smarmy scumshite Cowell and the trite synthetic garbage that fuels his rich-boy life while impoverishing the culture the rest of us live in.

I intend to put my 79p (or whatever) where my hate-filled mouth is even though I obviously don't want a 'recording' of silence.

Christmas? Bah. Humbug.

Defence Minister 'to big up electropulse threat' - report

Sceptical Bastard

Anyone remember .,..

... the Millenium Bug?

Obviously the terrorist threat from electro-magnetic pulse 'bombs' is just far-fetched FUD. But I suspect that e-mp threats from solar winds will prove to be the next 'millenium bug' - a threat that sounds plausible and frightening in foresight but which will prove largely unfounded.

Either that or all the lights will go out and we'll all die.

IE and Safari lets attackers steal user names and addresses

Sceptical Bastard

Read The F**king Article

RTFA - mmm, nice one!

Sceptical Bastard

Moral of the story

Why is the "myth that web surfing is largely an anonymous act" still so "widely held" when, for the last decade or so, it has been so evidently false?

This articles illustrates a fact of online life: all web browsers have flaws, all flaws can be exploited. It also highlights the age-old issue of 'security versus utility' - for example, autocomplete might be convenient occasionally but storing unencrypted indentifying data self-evidently compromises security (even it's just YouPorn popping up as the missus starts to type in YouGov).

The moral is that *all* browsers are vulnerable to exploits if used with default settings so users should set them up to reduce exposure - turn off autocomplete, never store any unencrypted information, delete session data (including cache and cookies) on exit, never checkmark "remember me on this computer" features, don't bookmark any site you don't want the world to know you visit, and install reputable security add-ons such as NoScript for Firefox.

However, those precautions will only reduce, not eradicate, exposure - so don't be lulled into a false sense of security just because you've zapped a few cookies.

Anonymous online? Yeah. Right.

The Register comment guidelines 2010

Sceptical Bastard


I quoted Sarah when, in fact, it was Drew's post - sorry, must be the new glasses (or a fixation with Ms Bee)

Sceptical Bastard

Fair enough

Getting back to the topic - Guidelines - they all seems fair enough to me. The medicine as before, in fact. As you say, it's *your* site.

I presume we're still allowed to take the piss out of the poor fools suffering from the Great Jesus Phone Delusion?

Are we still allowed to slag off know-nothing politicians? Is Jim Gamble still fair game? Is the dancing sweatmaster Balmer still the incarnation of Lucifer?

And does outrageous flattery (and a smattering of innuendo) still work with El Moderatrix?

New Jersey car prang woman blames carjacking

Sceptical Bastard

Darwin ...

... obviously had the right of it.

Branson's SpaceShipTwo rocketplane gets off ground

Sceptical Bastard

If he wants to impress us ...

... the egregious hirsute money-grubbing bastard could try sorting out his appalling over-priced Virgin Trains. The man's a hateful robber baron, a self-aggrandising publicity junkie and a first class shit.

Loud sex ASBO woman back on the job

Sceptical Bastard

@ The Other Steve

We may have been warned - but it's still a pretty gruesome sight, wouldn't you say.

She may be no oil painting but her hubby looks like a (very) poor man's Bruce Willis. What either of 'em see in each other is beyond human understanding.

There are other equally disturbing images available to anyone with strong nerves and Google. I think her chances of starring in any grumble flick are about as good ss my dog's... oh, wait a minute...

Muso turfed off train for 'suspicious' set list

Sceptical Bastard

I couldn't resist writing to Stagecoach...

... and here is the transcript of the email I sent to their PR chief.

Dear Steven Stewart,

I refer to a statement you allegedly issued to The Register online IT magazine.

Speaking as a poacher-turned-gamekeeper - I'm a former broadsheet journo and now work in PR and IT - I am rather surprised that, having reached the dizzy heights of Director of Coms for a major public-facing business, you could act so ineptly. I was taught that half the skill of good PR is knowing when to keep shtuum. There are times when by far the most effective comment is "no comment". And to compound your failure in this case no comment had even been sought. Tie down that jerking knee, my dear fellow.

To get a measure of your own goal I suggest you read the 90 or so comments which readers have appended to The Register's story. Needless to say, you - by which I mean Stagecoach - do not come out well.

Instead of badgering The Register perhaps your time might be better spent trying to persuade your security staff that they, too, have a responsibility to protect and uphold your company's good public standing. Reputational management involves every single employee (and that includes outside service providers).

Sorry, old boy - you get a big 'F' for fail.

Toodle pip

DoH splurges £2.72m on Adwords

Sceptical Bastard

@ Adwords v SEO

Nice one, AC. says it all really.

Sceptical Bastard


Quote: "The Department for Work and Pensions said such information could only be provided at disproportionate cost."

I wonder if the cost of supplying information is as 'disproportionate ' as the £2.72m their sister* department spent with Google? And I wonder how effectively that 'combination of robust techniques' establishes the actual real life benefits of that spend?

I'm not sure if rank-chasing and SEO is what I want the Dept of Health to spend my tax on. I think, on balance, I'd prefer it to go to doctors and nurses. Well, nurses anyway ...

* 'Sister' because the two departments used to be united in the former Dept of Health and Social Security (DHSS).

Safer Internet Day fights online foolhardiness

Sceptical Bastard

Witch-hunting crypto-fascists

I heard the witchfinder general (aka Jim Gamble) bleating on BBC Radio 4 this morning. This bloke is the sort of nutty obsessive that gives nutty obsessives a bad name, the sort of ranting bigoted Ulsterman who gives... well, you see where I'm going there.

His line reminded me of Bush's "You're either with us - or you're against us". Gamble seems to think that any website or organisation that doesn't fall over itself to do CEOP's bidding is somehow in league with the paedophiles.

The only value of CEOPs latest outburst of Microsoft shill-ery is that a few more people might upgrade to IE8 - not ideal in itself but a damn sight better than leaving them swilling around in the cesspit of IE5.5 and IE6. But that's an IT win, not a child protection benefit.

"Oh won't you think of the children!" No, Jim, because I'm not neurotically obsessive about children - mine or anyone else's. They can look after themselves by and large - just as they've had to do for millenia. What's more, I don't want to fuck the children either. Nor do most other people. You, however, seem to think most people do. That is alarmist wolf-crying.

This morning, I listened with incredulity as Gamble boasted about educating five-year-olds about the danger of online grooming. Eh? Which kids would those be? The five-to-seven year-olds who can conduct fluent lucid IM 'conversations' using developed skills of typing and reading? Christ, at five they can barely point-and-click let alone type and read. I know: I've watched the little bastards. Or maybe, Jim, you mean that the perve hordes are skyping their prey or using voice chat? In which case it aint the kids who need 'educating' it's the parents who leave their little darlings unsupervised with a computer and headset.

The trouble with crying wolf - as the fairytale teaches - is no-one listens to you when a real wolf comes along. In that regard, Gamble (and the rest of the cynics and fanatics who make a good living out of hyperbole about endangered child) do more harm than good. Far too much of the child protection industry is a racket, not a service.

Give us reliable information, Jim, not hysteria. Some impartial, properly-researched, evidence-backed authoritative statistics would be a start. And I don't mean "information" from Esther Rancid or the even madder Lucy Faithful Foundation. Oh, wait a minute - evidence is the last thing Jim and Co want because it simply doesn't support the Daily Mail / CEOP scenario of an ever-increasing army of perve strangers murdering and raping our children.

Forget social networking. Forget stranger danger. Keep it in the family, Jim. Any plans for a browser with a "My step-dad's been fiddling with me" button? Nah. Thought not.

New cig peril: Third-hand smoke coats puffers in poison

Sceptical Bastard


Third-rate scientific minds peddling third-rate science. Still, they got themselves in the news (which, I suspect, was the aim).

As to the slyly inserted "The biggest risk is to young children...", here we go again! It's the pernicious hand-wringing "Oh, won't anyone think of the children" mantra which the child protection industry exploit to impose their fanatic paranioa on virtually every area of life. Did anyone hear that nutter Jim Gamble on Radio 4 this morning? I rest my case.

As to Paul Murphy (above): "The above is my opinion". Yes, and a particularly intolerant priggish self-righteous one so keep it to yourself.

Brit kids failing to fall out of trees

Sceptical Bastard

From Sir Herbert Gusset

Dear Sirs,

What on earth is wrong with children today? My generation gave Johnny Foreigner a trouncing in two world wars and we were made of sterner stuff. We spent our happy childhoods breaking arms, legs and skulls by falling out of trees, being run over by motorcars and playing with unexploded bombs.

There is no discipline today, that's the trouble. If we were caught scrumping, there was always a good old British bobby to clip us round the ear with his trusty truncheon: far from complaining to the IPCC like nambie-pambies, our mums and dads laughed off the resultant brain damage. And, for any sissies who blubbed, there was always a smiling priest on hand to take them into the vestry for a good sound buggering.

Today's mollycoddled young people don't know they're born!

Yours against the Hun,

Sir H Gusset (Rtd)

The Old Charnel House, Lesser Frogmarching, Somerset

Ubuntu Firefox shuns Google for Yahoo! search

Sceptical Bastard

@ Steven R

Oh, and what's so wrong about being a tragic lonely geek? ;)

Sceptical Bastard

Yes, "What's the big deal?"

Quote: "As is typical with Firefox, users will have the option of changing the search box default. This means they can change it back to Google"

So not much of a story really?

FWIW, I get better faster results from Google than I do from Yeehaw so I use Google. However, though I always found MSN/Live piss-poor, I now find Bing Maps (especially the aerial function) slicker and more to my taste than Google Maps. Horses for courses: use whatever works for you.

Entire UK will be on ID database sometime in next 3 millennia

Sceptical Bastard

@ Graham Wilson

Respec' to that man! An excellent stream of invective. Rant on, man, rant on.

Sceptical Bastard

If we're all going to die...

If we must look forward to "humanity being wiped out by an unexpected asteroid" as the article states then there's fuck all point in shelling out £30 for a soon-to-be-obliterated ID card.

However, faced with such an apocalypse, I *can* see the point of spending that thirty quid on booze or drugs. So that's what I'm going to do. In fact, I'll spend a couple of hundred and get really mashed. No, fuck it, I'll go the whole hog, sell the house, and get a smack habit.

Steve Ballmer defaces fanboi MacBook

Sceptical Bastard

Missing the point...

I think that, by and large, Ballmer is an obnoxious belligerent knobhead.

But not on this occasion - he signed his autograph for a (possibly star-struck) student and added an inoffensive humorous aside. He did it with good grace.

So why the vitriol? Save the vituperation for when he acts like a bullying ranting sweatmonster (or dances).

RockYou hack reveals easy-to-crack passwords

Sceptical Bastard

It's all a 'fail'...

Rock You, you fail on all levels - SQL injection, clear text storage, no password policy

But the debate here is about the analysis. Some commentards are gloating that lusers are morons. Yes, yes - we know that. (Actually, of course the majority of computer users may not have finely-honed security skills but they are no more moronic than the population at large... oh, I see what you mean!)

The problem is not stupidity per se - it's practicality. As others have noted, people can remember words and phrases in their own language better than they can remember meaningless character strings. So we end up with dictionary words. FWIW, substituting numerals for lowercase letters is better than nothing but not much use against a decent Rainbow Table.

Length, of course, is important (if my passwords were as short as my willie they would have been pwned years ago). The way Windows LAN Manager hash split passwords (until Vista, I believe?) meant that 16 chars became the minimum for the really paranoid and that attitude seems to have stuck among sysadmins. But it's counter-productive if a helldesk instructs lusers to use 16 random chars - virtually no-one has a clear idea of 'random' in this context and virtually no-one can remember 16-char strings.

As to horses for courses, of course it makes sense to use stronger passwords for banking or business than for wanking about on FaceAche or on Twatter (I wonder if Stephen Fry's password is 'Fat Smug Know-all'?). But human nature being what it is, people simply can't be arsed to remember more than a couple of passwords.

The taboo against writing down passwords is not always helpful. Obviously in a non-secure office environment sticking a post-it note to the screen with 'Passord: Bgx1#dw"£$' written it is insecure: having it written, perhaps back-to-front, unobtrusively in the back of your pocket diary is far less so.

So what are my solutions? What insights can I offer you? The answers are 'none' and 'none'. IMO, crap password security is a problem we are stuck with for as long as ordinary people (as opposed to geeks) use computers - in other words for ever

PS: I recently had to advise a home-office-computer-using client that having their pet's name as a password for everything from log-on to email to online banking (where, to be fair, the bank insisted on other characters as well) *and* as their security question answer was probably not a good idea.

Discrimination warning over airport body scanners

Sceptical Bastard

@ Mike Richards

"Do immigrants cause cancer? Melanie Phillips investigates." I nearly pissed meself (or PMSL as they say on IRC). Well said, that man :)

On reflection, a lower level of personal privacy should apply to people who travel in flying bombs (aka civil airliners) than to people doing less potentially dangerous things.

British government ignores MS browser fears

Sceptical Bastard


Eh, MarkOne? You sound suspiciously like a Microsoft shills with that unqualified and meaningless scattergun assertion.

Quote "Internet Explorer is the default browser on government computers."

Unsurprising as well. But let us hope they at least run IE8 and that browser, OS and apps are kept fully patched. Let us also hope that staff are given basic security instruction. Little chance of any of that though - for some reason the civil service still doesn't seem to 'get' IT.

World braces for Lindsay Lohan sex tape

Sceptical Bastard


Moderatrix, we saddoes love it when you talk dirty - even if it's only by innuendo :)

As to that 'particular sex act' perhaps there's a clue in the next paragraph... "Lindsay was desperate to start 2010 off on a good footing..." Ahhh, Fergie enjoyed a good footing didn't she? No. It can't be that because El Reg reveals that "it's Lohan who gets the eyeful."

Hey! Have you guys *seen* the clip?

Survey outs Britain as nation of tech twits

Sceptical Bastard

What's the date?

Oh. It's not 1 April after all.

Why give this risible rubbish the oxygen of publicity? Until now, I'd never heard of Lewis PR (which, it seems, is a "Global Public Relations Agency, offering SEO and Social Media PR"), Now I have. But I didn't want to.

My advice to the compilers of the survey (and to so-called search 'optimising' businesses) could be summed up as "Why don't you either just FOAD or get a proper job doing something that's actually of use to society, you parasitic leeching wankers."

Anyway, who the hell does Tim Berners-Lee play for?

'Google' crowned word of the decade

Sceptical Bastard

@ Rattus Rattus

Fucking brilliant, Rattus - made me spit my coffee out :)

Word of the decade? What about 'jjihad'? Or 'islamist'? Or 'Al Quaeda'? Or 'tsunami'? Or (in Britain at least) 'Maddy'?

Or how about 'fat egregious know-all fucker on twitter' - spelled F-R-Y

IPS in cunning 'get an ID card, get crucified' scheme

Sceptical Bastard

Beggars belief

It's the dickheads at IPS who seserve crucifixion - a bunch of complete tossers!

Guinness to hit three quid a pint

Sceptical Bastard

In shock

Sod the ID card scheme, sod the NHS system, sod trojans and card scams, sod terrorism... Guinness at three quid is the most upsetting headline I've ever read on El Reg.

Mine's the black mourning garb

Angels can't fly: Official

Sceptical Bastard

I suspect....

... some of you people aren't taking this very seriously. I reckon Michelle Knight has the right of it (above).

Anyway (given that to any rational person a religion is simply a set of imaginings), surely a made-up god can have made-up acolytes exhibiting made-up powers and attributes without some dipstick academic going off on one?

BTW, are angels strictly a phenomenon of Judao-Christian religions? Or do winged female humanoids feature in other world faiths? Just asking ...

Happy Christmas, all

Existence of 'Sea of Krakens' on Titan confirmed

Sceptical Bastard

@ Mike 140

Nelson's Column???

Surely the UK unit of depth is St Paul's Cathedral? In 'Murrca it's the Empire State Building. So there are 3.42 St Pauls to one Empire State. A Nelson's Column would be just under 0.5 of a St Pauls - too short for anything except small extra-terrestrial lakes. (In France, they cling to a unit of depth called the Eiffel Tower but, it being French, no-one else in the world gives a toss.)

As to units of area, I'm sure El Reg published a rundown of these some while ago. I distinctly remember a Wales in the list but not a Windermere. There was also a measure for the volume of Bulgarian airbags IIRC.


Firefox 3.5 wins top dog browser crown - sort of

Sceptical Bastard

Did I read that right?

Quote: ",,, IE 6, meanwhile, retains 13.89 per cent of the market..."

What *are* these people thinking of? Oh, sorry ... they're not thinking at all.

Several commentards are saying 'so what'. The 'what' is that ten years ago Microsoft had the browser market more or less to itself and could foist any old shit on us (ActiveX anyone?) and now Microsoft doesn't and can't - not by a long chalk. That seems a significant 'what' to me.


UK mobile networks line up to bash net snooping plan

Sceptical Bastard

Scary for four reasons

One: it's Orwell's '1984' coming true - or, rather, truer than it is already

Two: it is all but useless as a crime prevention measure

Three: government and its agencies are incapable of using it either wisely or effectively

Four: any costs will ultimately be borne by us users

Cheer up. There's an election coming at which we can consign the current bunch of neo-fascists and their Stasi to oblivion. Except, of course, the other lot will be just as bad (if a tad less Scottish).


Billie Piper hooks up with Belle de Jour

Sceptical Bastard

Actress and call girl to 'bare all'

OK, we know that Brooke Magnanti is (or was) a call girl but there's certainly no actress in this story. Oh no, you can't mean....

@ sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

You think WHAT? You poor deranged individual :)

Home Secretary unmoved by last-ditch McKinnon protests

Sceptical Bastard

The reason I'm concerned is ...

... less to do with the hapless McKinnon's individual case (though the glib Mail-esque heartlessness of some commentards is stomach-churning) but more to do with the obsequious sycophantic toadying to the USA by Blair and, now, Brown that led to this lop-sided and draconian extradition treaty being signed in the first place.

To those who think we should roll over before the world's biggest bully and abandon McKinnon to his fate, remember "First they came for..."

Police moot pop-up social network warnings

Sceptical Bastard

@ Chris Parsons

Yeah, and come that revolution, Gamble and his CEOP Stasi will be the first ones against the wall.

Oh, sorry, I forgot -they'll be behind the 650-odd MPs and as many Peers at the front of the queue (behind Blair, of course).

If zealots like Gamble had spent a bit more time looking into the murky reaches of the Catholic church instead of obsessing about the internet, dozens - probably hundreds - of children could've been spared from a priestly fiddling. Not to mention all those Uncle Ernies who like to keep it in the family.

When Thatcher ruled the roost, many of us naively thought things couldn't get any worse - how wrong we were!