Cold Calls Welcome

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Book Review: Oliver Bullough ~ Butler to the World: How Britain became the servant of tycoons, tax dodgers, kleptocrats and criminals (2023)

The ‘City of London’ is short-hand for financial wizardry and is, allegedly, the ‘powerhouse’ of Britain. What the ‘City’ wants the ‘City’ gets in terms of legislation and government assistance. They are free-market warriors until things go sour. Once the gravy train derails they become Socialists. During the Banking Crisis, 2008, banks were deemed, ‘Too big to fail’ and so the Labour Party bailed them out. At a cost of £137 billion.1

If you find this repugnant then the idea the ‘City’ is, in many ways, a criminal organization will nauseate. It comprising financiers, accountants, lawyers, estate agents and various hangers on all of whom are incredibly wealthy. The sums of money are astounding. The corruption of the Conservative Party by Russian oligarch financiers is well documented with a future Chancellor of Exchequer, George Osborne attending a party of a Russian oligarch.2 The Conservatives subsequently made the son of a Russian oligarch a member of the House of Lords.3 The ‘City’ is used as short-hand for every financial organisation in Britain. They share common values.

Try this

“Somehow, a group of criminals stole a billion dollars from banks in Moldova, vanishing with their loot without leaving a trace to show where the money had gone4…. [but] The final owner of the billion dollars from Moldova turned out to be based in an ordinary residential house in Pilton, a gritty Edinburgh suburb …”5


1 2008 United Kingdom bank rescue package – Wikipedia

2 Russian billionaire yacht affair shakes UK politics | Reuters

3 lebedev house of lords – Search (

4 p126 Bullough

5 p128 Bullough

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A Groucho Marx quip

‘She got her good looks from her father. He’s a plastic surgeon.’

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Should Geriatrics be Imprisoned?

A 91-year-old man [Eric Grant] has been sentenced to ten years in jail for his sexual offences against a young girl almost two decades ago.1

In 1990, a Conservative white paper concluded: “We know that prison ‘is an expensive way of making bad people worse’.”1

Judge Hurst sentenced 91-year-old Eric Grant to ten years imprisonment for sex crimes. He rigorously applied sentencing guidelines. Yet! It feels like a tragic lack of imagination. Perhaps Grant’s sentence could have been more nuanced?

The primacy of prison as the default option began in 1823. Prior to then punishments were quick and brutal. “In 1823, Sir Robert Peel abolished the death penalty for over 180 crimes. Further laws in 1832 and 1861 reduced the number of capital crimes to just five:”2 Transportation, as an alternative to prison and execution, ended in 1868. For foreign nationals’ a form of transportation has been reintroduced. Nowadays ‘transportation’ is used against some asylum seekers and foreign criminals. “A foreign criminal is defined as a person who has been convicted of an offence and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment in the UK”.3

Judge Hurst may have wanted to avoid imprisoning Grant but every available option had significant constraints, limiting his freedom of action.4 If the judge had failed to follow sentencing guidelines, his sentence could have been appealed against. This unwelcome adverse publicity might have damaged his career prospects. Therefore, Grant got ten years.

Germany is still dealing with aftermath of the Holocaust. A 97-year-old woman was sentenced for complicity in mass murder. She wasn’t imprisoned despite being found guilty. A German district court sentenced, “Irmgard Furchner [to] a two-year suspended sentence for aiding and abetting the murder of 10,505 people and the attempted murder of five people…”5 Grant’s offences are on a different scale to those of Furchner who was complicit in mass murder. If Germany acknowledges age as a factor in sentencing why doesn’t Britain?

More dramatically an Iranian woman exercised her right to pardon the man convicted of murdering her son as his public execution was beginning.6 She pardoned her son’s killer. Britain’s Victim Impact Statement7 doesn’t compel sentencing action. A victim asking for a criminal to be pardoned won’t succeed. Victim statements contribute to sentencing as one factor. In Grant’s case the offence was intensely personal and the victim statement should compel but doesn’t. Did she want Grant to get ten years in prison, or, was she satisfied with his post-trial vilification?

Blood Money8 is an ancient mechanism for compensating victims and their families. It is calibrated according to the offence. Rolf Harris was a geriatric, 84, rich criminal when he was imprisoned. Paying Blood Money would have had a lesser impact for him than for Grant. Harris’s wealth can be gauged from this, “In late 2020, RHE Investments Ltd., a firm set up by Rolf in 2012, reported a bottom line of 2.6 million pounds.”9  His victims would have benefited but he wouldn’t have been financially inconvenienced, which feels unjust.


Imprisoning 91-year-old criminals is a waste of money10 but society needs to support victims and geriatrics can’t be allowed ‘to get away with it’. The concept of proportionality is an important element in justice but shouldn’t constrain creative thinking. Geriatrics should be punished. There are elegant options, which should be explored. And justice won’t be compromised.


1 91-year-old jailed for 10 years for non-recent sexual offences | Essex Police The second quote comes from Hard evidence: does prison really work? (

2 Retribution and deterrence from the 19th to 21st century – Attitudes to punishment – WJEC – GCSE History Revision – WJEC – BBC Bitesize

3 What is the UK’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda? – BBC News See also Deportation of Foreign Criminals From The UK & Their Human Rights (

4 Suspended sentences – Sentencing ( For electronic tags see Tagging | Prison Advice and Care Trust For parole see Parole – Wikipedia Here Judge Hurst would have had to sentenced Grant to prison and then strongly suggested he be paroled immediately.

5 Former concentration camp secretary, 97, convicted of Nazi war crimes | Reuters

6 Iranian mother who spared her son’s killer: ‘Vengeance has left my heart’ | Iran | The Guardian

7 Victim Personal Statement – GOV.UK (

8 Blood money (restitution) – Wikipedia

9 Where is Rolf Harris now? He enjoys a secluded life – TheNetline

10 Revealed: the cost of living in prison – insidetime & insideinformation On average costing, “taxpayers around £45,000 to keep a person in prison for a year, most of this money goes on staffing.” Grant’s life expectancy is four years implying his imprisonment will cost about £180,000

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Cricket Obsessive Meets Reality

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Bob Dylan’s put-down of George Harrison, 1971

George said to Bob [Dylan], ‘Do you think you could sing … “Blowin’ in the Wind”—the audience would just love it’ …

and Bob looked at him: ‘You interested in “Blowin’ in the Wind”? … Are you gonna sing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”?’

George Harrison’s concert for Bangladesh, August 1971 Heylin, Clinton. Behind the Shades: The 20th Anniversary Edition (p. 330). Faber & Faber. Kindle Edition.

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Ricky Gervais: Wisdom

The world began to crumble when feelings started over-ruling facts.

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Bertrand Russell on saving money: 1932

One of the commonest things to do with savings is to lend them to some government. In view of the fact that the bulk of the expenditure of most civilized governments consists in payments for past wars and preparation for future wars, the man who lends his money to a government is in the same position as the bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers. The net result of the man’s economical habits is to increase the armed forces of the State to which he lends his savings. Obviously it would be better if he spent the money, even if he spent it on drink or gambling.

In Praise of Idleness, by Bertrand Russell (

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Beware very literal people: They’re dangerous

Fred and Jim were hunting when Jim collapsed. He rolled over gasping for breath with his eyes glazing over. Fred whipped out his phone and called emergency services. He told the triage nurse what had happened.

“Jim looks as if he might be dead! What do I do?”

“Calm down. First, make sure he’s dead.”

A silence was followed by a gun-shot.

“OK. Now what?”

Ray H.

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Film Review: The Awakening of Motti Wolkenbruch (NetFlix) (2018) (Jewish Swiss comedy – subtitles)

This Jewish comedy piles cliché on to cliché, which should ruin the film. It doesn’t. It is a clever well-balanced comedy where the principal characters hang together and form a coherent whole.

The storyline is basic Jewish humour. An over-bearing mother, an Orthodox household and an unmarried 20+ year old son. Because he isn’t married and resists all the candidates which are brought to the house he’s a ’Bad boy’. Although he’s a university student he also helps run the family insurance company and his mother’s corner shop.

He falls in love with a non-Jewish woman and the comedy takes off. He’s sent to Israel to cure him and get a good Jewish wife. Obviously he has an affair but with a strictly non-marrying woman. He returns to Switzerland and begins his affair with the Shiksa.

If you can handle sub-titles this is a terrific film

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