I noticed a few minutes ago that “#snowinginlondon” was trending on Twitter. Last night the mayor of Tirana in Albania tweeted that there was snow there for the first time in 32 years. Coincidentally, the average of the population of Tirana is 32 years. it prompted me to look at pictures of the city.


I was in Tirana with the university just before the fall of the communist regime of Ramiz Alia (successor to Enver Hoxha).  How the country has changed since then. There was no private transport. You walked or used a bus (unless you were a senior official in the Communist Party).




Back then it was another world. There were flights into Tirana only from East Berlin and Zurich and then only once a week. For the international airport of a European country it was strangely and eerily quiet. The customs people confiscated magazines as innocent as Women’s Weekly because their advertisements for bras and the like were considered to be pornographic. They also confiscated Bibles, Korans, Toras, etc, and any symbols relating to religion.

Symbols of communism and the people’s struggle were everywhere. You could get a beer for around 1p, and a bottle of wine cost a similar amount. There wasn’t much in the shops, as Albania had trade agreements only with China, no one else. More or less everything that they had was made in Albania. The only books available for sale were the various and sundry works of Enver Hoxha. No one spoke English. It was Albanian or French if you wanted to communicate.


Interestingly, we were told, the biggest salary in the country was four times the smallest. I was paid 50 Lek, if I remember rightly, for doing an interview for Radio Tirana. I left it in my hotel room as it was illegal to take money out of the country and I had a job spending what I had changed. I seem to recall that I actually spent about £10 in the entire week. (Something that changed dramatically when we had a 10 hour stop over in Zurich on the way home.)

People were incredibly shy and avoided us (tourists and very obviously so because we had western fashion clothes) for fear that the Secret police would be watching.

We travelled over the country from North to South, East to West on narrow little roads, in an air conditioned Swedish bus, but with almost no other traffic except the odd donkey cart. It was perhaps one of the most interesting trips of my life.




So, this is a tweet from Simon Paterson. Of course, I’ve no way of authenticating it, but it does kinda go some way to explaining the strange figures that are quoted at us by unionist parties.





Of course, politicians don’t always agree about everything, but it seems to me that these two don’t agree about anything. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Rien. Dad!

Kezia, according to her boss, is trying to sell us a union where the best possible redistribution of wealth comes in at the “worst levels” of most of the OECD countries.

Really, Kezia, try to stop treating us like morons. If you have something really positive to say about the union with Britain, then saying it. If you don’t, if all you have are tired old platitudes, then could you move over and make way for someone who’s bothered to do some actual research.



It’s not an unreasonable interpretation, and I don’t doubt that it’s true, particularly when you consider where the majority of Leave votes came from. But, as you may remember, there were no questions on the ballot paper about levels of general satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Just a simple “Leave” or “Remain”. bexit10

What Mrs May is saying, it seems to me, is that in England and in Wales, with administrations run by the Tories and Labour respectively, people are fed up. Britain doesn’t work for them. They are not listened to. No one cares. Queens live in palaces, MPs get pay rises, Lords continue to be paid for sleeping while pensioners have to pay the bedroom tax, kids are hungry, and people sleep in the streets. They are dissatisfied, and because the tabloids have told them for years that everything,


that was wrong with Britain was wrong as a result of the UK’s membership of the European Union, and foreigners/immigrants being here, they chose to vote to leave.


Mrs May might like to take a lead from the administrations in parts of Britain which did not vote to leave the world’s biggest trading block: Gibraltar, Northern Ireland and Scotland, if she is looking for inspiration on how to make things work for people who didn’t go to Eton or Oxford; maybe those who don’t have titles, aren’t royal or indeed who hold other “celebrity status”.

And given that both Northern Ireland and Gibraltar have close cross-border ties with their “foreign” neighbours, and therefore have a desperate need to stay attached to Europe, if I were her, I should concentrate on how things are done in Scotland.


Mrs May indicated yesterday in a nervous jittery stammering tv interview that there was little chance of the UK remaining in a single market with Europe, the result of which was that the pound lost 1% of its value. This may be seen as another disappointment for people who haven’t been listened to.


You see, that WASN’T what folk were led to believe, at least by the ever hopeful Mr Davis.

And you could understand, given the current mess of the English Health Service before the worst of the winter has actually happened, that people may be wondering where the £350 million a week that it was promised on the side of that bus, has gone.

If I were Mrs May I’d start delivering. Reducing tax for the better off and imposing bedroom tax on pensioners, allowing people to die after 30+ hour waits on trollies, having to depend on the Red Cross for medical care isn’t what folk were expecting. And frankly, an extra few million for mental health issues that apparently affect 25% of the population, is a slap in the face to the sufferers and clinicians alike.

Oh, and for those that thought that all would be well with their workplace, here’s a little reminder of the way the trade secretary’s mind is working (if you can read that without choking with laughter).


Aye, that’s your job that will be deregulated. Enjoy!