Friday, 30 September 2016

I have become a Europhile

Although I voted "Remain" I've long been a Eurosceptic, albeit one who thought the EU might be able to resolve its problems and that we would probably be better off in, with all its frustrations and bureaucracy, than out. Post referendum, I've become convinced that we have to leave and make the best of it. But today I'm ditching Euroscepticism totally and I'm fully behind Europe. Indeed, today I feel totally European.

But then I would as Britain is at the heart of Europe, at least this weekend, with 7 British players in  Darren Clarke's 12 man Ryder Cup team.

So it's "Go Team Europe". Normal service will be resumed on Monday.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Big bullies

Crikey, Jake Humphrey's colleagues in the media turned on him for saying that Sam Allardyce was brought down by a combination of "greed, naivety and our poisonous press". Humphrey retracted that tweet, then rephrased his next effort, saying the press had been "ruthless".

The Daily Telegraph, full of self righteousness, is maintaining that its sting was part of its fight against corruption. Given that the worst thing Allardyce said from this point of view was that the rules on 3rd party ownership could be "circumvented", I'm really struggling to see that this amounts to corruption at any serious level.

In practice Allardyce was damaged goods and had to go because otherwise this story would have kept coming up. Just as the chap I heard on a phone-in saying Glen Hoddle was the only sensible candidate didn't seem to realise that his fruitcake remarks about karma would just keep being regurgitated if he was reappointed, whatever you think of him as a coach.

But, as Allardyce said, it was entrapment and pretty shabby too. I think Humphrey got it right and the bullying that followed - for that's what it was - proved his point; the press can be poisonous. Poor Jake stepped outside the established groupthink and, perhaps acting as naively as Allardyce, told everyone on Twitter.

Having repeated the News of the World's fake sheikh sting but without the robes, the Telegraph obviously aspires to take over the mantle of the defunct Sunday redtop rather than undertake serious investigative journalism on topics of real importance.

Like how corrupt UEFA is, frigging the club coefficents by taking account of ancient historical success to ensure that, from 2018, clubs which used to be good but aren't any longer, like AC Milan, can get a ticket to the group stage for the foreseeable future while also changing the financial distribution to keep teams like Bayern Munich competitive in Europe even though the German league has been turned into a boring perpetual one horse race and is theefore commercially unattractive. Golly, Leicester have got them terrified....

Deja vu

Students of the European banking scene - and readers of my 18 July post (Mamma Mia here we go again) - won't be surprised to see banking problems in the eurozone, especially Italy and Germany, hitting the headlines again. The stories have got a bit more panicky since 2 months ago.

For example "Germany's banks are a timebomb. And if they crash, it'll be 2008 all over again" was the headline over an article by the Daily Mail city editor, Alex Brunner, on 28 September. He explained that Germany is averse to bailouts because they don't want to help bail out banks from across southern Europe, Italy having  £300billion of bad loans for example. So they haven't restructured their own banks including the focus of this weeks headlines, Deutsche Bank.

DB's shares have falken 50% in the last year and it has now been hit with a £10.8billion fine by the US regulators for mis-selling derivatives stuffed with rotten loans. (In passing I note just how hard the American regulators like hitting non-American firms, like BP. No wonder the EU is after Amazon and Google after hitting Apple). DB has a reserve of £5billion to pay the fine and is currently loss making, but say they won't need to raise money from shareholders. Reporters are wondering where the rest will come from. Mind, a shortfall of £5.8 billion doesn't sound much to me - not nearly enough to cause Armaggedon, you'd have thought. And small beer compared with £300 billion.

But I guess that's the point. Germany has an uncomfortable problem to solve. But the obvious solution - a Lloyds/RBS style bail out - isn't open to them because of all that dodgy debt in the EU's south.

So as usual the EU nations and institutions will prevaricate and kick this can down the road, none of which helps get EU economies back on a sound footing.

Which was and remains one of the strongest arguments in favour of us leaving the EU.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Big Idiot

So Sam Allardyce leaves the England job with a 100% win record (1 streaky win from 1 easy game) in strange circumstances, the victim of a Daily Telegraph sting with reporters posing as businessmen. But arguably he was primarily a victim of greed and ego. Big Sam was very foolish and careless. But, I would say, so were the Football Association.

After all, England managers making an idiot of themselves is not new. Sven Goran Eriksson was the victim of the News of the World's "fake sheikh" sting, causing him and the FA discomfort in the run up to the 2006 World Cup. Eriksson had his agent, Athole Still (yes, I've typed the first name correctly), with him , just as Allardyce had his with him this time. These agents might earn a lot but they only seem to have a nose for money, not trouble.

And Fabio Capello collaborated with a commercial company to produce a player performance index which was due to be published in the run up to the 2010 World cup until the obvious penny dropped that this would cause embarrassment, so it was delayed until after the tournament. When it caused embarrassment as the ratings for England's players in their disastrous campaign were published, while Capello was still England manager.

So you would think that the FA would have sat down with Sam and possibly some PR gurus and say "Sam, we know you're a very experienced guy but just be careful. This is the job you always wanted - so ask yourself in any situation 'what's the worst that could happen?' If people approach you wanting things and making offers, why not just tell them you're fully occupied with England but you'll be happy to talk with them once the England job is over and done."

Indeed, I'm surprised the FA didn't have clauses in Allardyce's contract saying that he'd give the England job his full attention and not get involved in any arrangements with third parties without prior agreement from the FA. Well, maybe there were such clauses, as they would be pretty standard in such a contract I would have thought. Crikey, even I had such clauses in my employment contract for a management role a dozen years or so ago. And Allardyce did say he'd need approval from the powers that be to commit to any of the deals that were discussed.

Though I've never been an admirer, I feel sorry for Allardyce at his dream job ending in this way. The crass and ill judged things he said seem rather trivial reasons for his dismissal - for that's what it was, as I imagine he wouldn't have left by agreement if he hadn't been told he would otherwise be sacked. And the Daily Telegraph is saying that he might yet face "further disciplinary action" from the FA. That would be very careless indeed of Sam, if he's quit without getting it agreed that there would be no such action. Meanwhile the Telegraph is getting praised for its "investigative journalism", when it seems to me rather sly and for no great principle. It's not exactly thalidomide, MPs expenses, or charities bullying old folk out of their savings, is it? Rather, it's a surprisingly naive fool slagging off his predecessors and saying there are ways of circumventing a rule.

The reason the whole things seems needless is that Sam's most damaging comments, about how to get round third party ownership issues, could easily have been rephrased as "I can advise you how to live within the rules" if the FA had wanted to stand by him. So I can only assume they were actually embarrassed by things like the sending up of Roy Hodgson's speech impediment. None of this seems to me to warrant any more than a telling off. I feel that if his employer had taken more care to brief him it needn't have happened.

But you could say he's a big boy and he should have known how to look after (and behave) himself. And realise that the next time the fake sheikh might not bother to wear any robes.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Picture This

Blondie is one of my favourite bands, though I haven't ever thought of their lyrics as cutting edge. But Picture This.....

Blondie's Parallel Lines is a classic album and generally regarded as their best, with its 4 hit singles, including the number ones Heart Of Glass and Sunday Girl.  The latter is one of my least favourite Blondie tracks, just too much saccharine, even sung by my favourite female singer, Debbie Harry. I fondly remember Harry appearing on Top Of The Pops in a black dress that appeared to be a bin bag with the corners cut out for sleeves (picture that - though I'm sure it wasn't). Actually, I've always preferred the previous album, Plastic Letters, but Parallel Lines has a bunch of great tracks, including my favourite Blondie song, Fade Away And Radiate, featuring some sublime guitar by Robert Fripp (another of my musical heroes). And it has Picture This, which preceded Heart Of Glass in the charts and features one of the most inane lyrics ever sung:

Let me give you my finest hour, the one I spent watching you shower"

But it also has the remarkably prescient lyric:

Picture this, a sky full of thunder
Picture this, my telephone number
One and one is what I'm telling you
Get a pocket computer
Try to do what you used to do, yeah

A pocket computer? Wow. This was 1978 and, while there were some rudimentary personal computers, the first pocket sized phone was 8 years away. The 1980s also saw the emergence of pocket calculators that had some programmable functions and the modern mobile phone that is undoubtedly a computer was preceded by varous types of PDAs. I checked all this out because "Picture This" was an answer in my wife's crossword puzzle on Sunday. I knew the lyric and found myself singing the "pocket computer" line but I hadn't ever really thought about it before. I certainly don't remember thinking about it 1978. Double wow. I can do no better than repeat what a Yorkshire IT website, Hull Digital, says:

"... I am struck that in my pocket sits a computer with my telephone number (but regrettably not Debbie Harry’s).  Picture this; it holds a local gallery of my personal photographs, a camera to take more and access to Flickr etc. to browse further millions. All the power and flexibility to do what I used to do and so much more besides… including listening to Parallel Lines whenever I feel the urge. I seamlessly switch between my pocket computer, my slate computer and my laptop. My content, my knowledge, my entertainment, my friends are accessible from all of them. The tools each contains are unimaginably capable; the capabilities are limited only by our imaginations."

Well, whichever member of Blondie came up with that line (3 are credited with the song writing), they certainly had imagination.

So, one of the dumbest and one of the sharpest lyrics in the very same song.

Friday, 23 September 2016

January Man

At about this time two weeks ago tonight in Manchester I saw a 75 year old man lose control of his emotions. And very touching it was too. After a 2 hour, 14 song set and faced with a standing ovation from an audience of over 2,000 people at the Bridgewater Hall,  Roy Harper, despite all his hard bitten experience in some 50 years of gigging, found it hard to speak. From our position in the centre of the front row we could clearly see the tears running down his face.

Harper's an old soldier and he's been in a war over the last 3 years, having been accused in a historical sex case by a sole complainant. The jury threw out most of the allegations but couldn't decide on two. The judge gave the CPS 2 weeks to decide on a retrial but they took 6 months to drop the case. The complainant (I refuse to use the term "victim" in any of these situations unless there is proof the events actually happened) recalled Harper's bald head (it is now but it wasn't then) and his blue penis (!) Harper's partner from the time testified, not surprisingly, that it wasn't blue.

Three years is a long time to lose out of your career at any time, but especially difficult when you are in your 70s. And galling when you've released your first album in 13 years to critical acclaim, leading to the most positive publicity you have received in 40 years, plus a BBC Folk Awards lifetime achievement award, before the court case killed his profile and, potentially, his career and legacy.

Harper sensibly didn't mention or even directly allude to the case, but two songs acquired special meaning.  Hors D'Ouevres, which starts "The judge sits on his great assize..." (er, yes, of course that's a play on words about his backside) is about the way society is all too quick to condemn. It was originally written about music critics but it fitted the circumstances.

And Hangman, written from the perspective of an innocent man about to be hung, fitted even closer. Harper's mood had been light at the start, with quite a bit of laughter (er, maybe a small spliff beforehand? It would have been a large one back in the day). But he sang this song with passion and anger. You can see an amateur video of it here (our seats were much better!)

Harper is clearly not young or strong anymore, but he still sings and plays convincingly.

Backed by an eight piece mini-orchestra and a supplementary guitarist, the set was accomplished and included songs released from 1969 to 2013. I particularly liked the double bass player ditching her bow and giving it some skiffle style slap on "Don't You Grieve", Harper's intriguing (or blasphemous, depending on your viewpoint) take on "the gospel according to St Judas". (Harper has no time for religion in any form). You can see an amateur clip here. (Scroll down to Dave Whittaker's post on 14 September at 21:03). Here is Beth on the double bass (Roy on the right, Bill Shanley the left):

Harper eventually managed to say "I'll try to see you again" (I'll See You Again being another song in the set) before waving and looking back as he left the stage. I've seen him play at least 10 times - all good gigs - and humble isn't a word you'd use about him, but humbled is how he seemed looking at us all standing there giving it large. And speechless, which I've certainly never seen previously.

Before the court case Harper had mused that he might have 3 or 4 albums left in him. Only time can tell where we're going to, but maybe now he'll still get to make at least one of them.

Or even, as he suggested in response to a shout out, bring the 1969 song McGoohan's Blues out on tour : an 18 minute long piece from the album Folkejokeopus - that would be worth seeing.

Either way, Roy, the memories are dear and you've always made us think.

Thanks a lot Roy, man.

Footnote: Of course there are several barely concealed references to Roy's songs above.

January Man is about a 70 year old man trying to keep passion alive. It includes the lines "I lost control of my emotions in the oceans of your eyes" and "I lost control of my emotions in the notion of your grace, I lost control of my emotions - a tear ran down my face".  From the 2013 album Man and Myth, I think it rivals the work from his halcyon years in the late 60s to the mid 70s.

There are at least 4 others but I'll leave experts out there to spot them.

For a review of Roy's gig a few day's later at the Royal Festival Hall, by Opher Goodwin (author of 45 books) see here. "We feared we might have lost him for good. But we haven’t. Roy is still there delivering something unique and exceptional. Nobody does it better. Nobody has produced songs of such beauty and magnitude. This man is England’s finest! It is about time he is recognised as our foremost Singer-Songwriter – up there with the likes of Dylan and Cohen."

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Fashion faschists

I've been pondering clothing and fashion since the French courts saw sense and overturned the ban on burkinis on beaches. This came after French police were seen taking action against a woman on the beach in Nice wearing Islamic garb recently. Well, I saw the pictures and she could easily just have been covered up to protect from sunburn, with leggings and a headscarf. There was something deeply unpleasant about her having to take clothes off until her dress was deemed appropriate for the beach, with four male police officers standing by:

I understand why the French feel they have to do something, or be seen to be doing something, about Islamic extremists after the various terrorist attacks. And I get banning covered faces in public places, which strike me as every bit as sinister as balaclava helmets or masks. But taking this fight to the beaches was daft and I don't see how it was meant to help.

The Mayor of Cannes had said that burkinis were "not respectful of good morals and secularism". Dominic Lawson, writing in the Sunday Times, pointed out that there is something gloriously silly in the mayor of Cannes complaining about women showing their lack of morals by their choice of beachwear (actually, it's sillier than that - by choosing to cover up!)

I'm all in favour of secularism and I find burkas and burkinis deeply distasteful. OK, maybe they just make me uneasy, as they seem strange and oppressive. But banning headscarves on the beach is problematic for me. After all, what about an old lady dressed like Nora Batty? And the Mayor of Florence tweeted a picture of nuns in habits delightedly paddling in the surf, a sight that presumably would offend some French mayors or even be deemed illegal.

Risibly, the Deputy Mayor of Marseille has brought elf 'n' safety into the debate, claiming that a burkini is unsafe if you put your head under water. He doesn't seem to have noticed that most people on the beach don't actually go for a swim and many are wearing clothes unsuitable for swimming.

I think there is a real difficulty in defining  any dress style as offensive. The French mayors went for what I'd call the golf club formula (i.e. clothing intended for the golf course is accepted) hence they said something like "clothing intended for wear on the beach". Well, you see all sorts of clothing on the beach - and why not? It's a beach!

Nevertheless, Nicolas Sarkozy launched his presidential campaign by calling for the burkini to be banned as the garment is a "political act, it's militant, a provocation". I'm struggling a bit to see how Nicolas would legislate for the spectrum of clothing between a burkini and a wet suit with a face mask.

Basically, I don't think the authorities should tell people what they can and can't wear. It offends my hippie streak. As Jimi Hendrix sang in If 6 was 9 (used in the counter-culture  film "Easy Rider", in which two travelling bikers become victims of small town oppression and prejudice - as well as taking on board a cocktail of drugs and alcohol):

"Dig, 'cos I got my own world to live through,
And I ain't gonna copy you."

Notwithstanding all of that, I think the treatment of women in many Arabic and Islamic countries is a disgrace. I've been saying since the mid 1990s, following the fall of communism and apartheid, that it's the last remaining major human major rights issue. (Er, ok, North Korea, China etc excepted maybe!). My hero Roy Harper was banging on about it even earlier, singing in 1990:

"And women in veils walking paces behind
Doesn't sit easy in my kind of mind
It speaks of oppression and no other choice
Than rigid compliance with the loudest voice...."

You can see the full lyric of this angry polemic - well, rant actually - here

Harper cuts to the real point here: you should be free to wear what you want and free not to wear what others want you to, whether there is a daffy French mayor or a chauvinistic husband trying to tell you otherwise.

To avoid any doubt, I don't like any strongly religious garb in an everyday setting. I can't imagine why anyone would want to wear a burka and I admit I feel uneasy when I see one. I thought it wierd to come across a family in full Jewish orthodox garb 1500ft up a Welsh mountain recently. I'm not even fond of seeing an Anglican dog collar in social setting. It makes me feel mildly uncomfortable, even though it is culturally familiar. But I still don't agree with the fashion police who want to dictate what people can and can't wear. To paraphrase Voltaire, I disapprove of what you are wearing, but I'll defend your right to wear it. Not to the death, of course and as long as you don't cover your face.

P.S. Just checking the above quotation, I found another pertinent Voltaire saying: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Radicalisation clearly isn't a new concept.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Boom or bust?

There have already been many stories about whether the economy is doing ok or tanking, or is going to do ok or tank, after the referendum. Most of this is noise rather than data, as the reliable data always lags by months. However, there are some "leading indicators" which tell us about what is happening in near real time. One is the Purchasing Managers Index, based on a survey of private sector companies and what they have actually just ordered. An index of 50 means steady, higher means growth, lower shrinkage. The first post referendum index, published in July, plummeted from 52.4 to 47.7 as buying was put on hold. The services element of the index recorded its sharpest reversal in its 21 year history. But, to put it in perspective, the record low for the index was 40.1 in November 2008. Nevertheless, it was mainly on the basis of this startling figure that the Bank of England cut interest rates. However, the next month's figure bounced back to 52.9.

So everything's going to be ok, then? Well, the British Chamber of Commerce is predicting a sharp slowdown on the basis of a slump in business investment. They are predicting 1% growth next year (the Bank of England forecast is 0.8%). This is all on the basis of "sentiment", so don't get too sentimental about it yet. The BCC expect business investment to fall by 2.2% next year and 3.4% in 2017. The previous forecasts were for growth of 4.5% and 7.4% respectively.

So it's all going to rats then? Well, David Smith noted in last week's Sunday Times (4 September) that an economist at Liverpool University had spotted that there has been a post-referendum spurt in the money supply, a measure which brings together all the different ways of calculating it ("divisia money") going up at 10.2% in July its fastest growth since current records began in 1999. Strong growth in this measure is normally associated with robust GDP growth. If that were to prove to be the case, then business sentiment would rapidly switch.

So, as usual, pick your indicator, or crystal ball gazer, and you can forecast boom or bust.

I simply note that the Purchasing Managers survey and the money supply figures are real, post referendum data on leading indicators, i.e. ones which tend to indicate what is happening rather than what has happened at some time in the past. For real post referendum growth figures we'll have to wait a few weeks yet, I expect till we get the July-September quarter, sometime towards the end of November. And even that will just tell us what has been happening recently, while we are still in the EU and, more importantly, the single market, which may not be that meaningful for the future. Other than affecting that all important "sentiment".

Whether we all keep buying stuff as businesses and individuals, giving the economy momentum, might be critical in setting the tone for the Brexit negotiation since, if the UK economy is doing well, there will be a stronger incentive for the EU countries to want to trade. Teresa May, like all PMs, needs to get lucky because, if the economy is sliding, then the opposite will hold and her negotiators will be in a weaker position.

So I'll do my bit and keep spending!

BCC forecast covered at

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The benefits of putting babies in boxes

New mothers in Scotland will be offered a box containing nappies, clothes, toys and a built-in mattress. The idea is based on a long running scheme in Finland which has significantly cut the infant mortality rate. So why is the Finnish infant mortality rate significantly lower than ours?

The big post war improvements in their statistics came after all new mothers, rather than just the poorest, received a box containing baby clothes, various baby goodies and a mattress which, placed in the box, makes the baby's first bed. The improvement, no doubt not just due to the boxes, was startling. From around 60 deaths per 1,000 births at the end of the 2nd world war, the rate had fallen to about 45 by 1949, when the use of the boxes was extended to all mothers. This coincided with an almost vertical line on the graph from 45 to 35, after which it fell steadily to about 13 by 1970 and 3.4 now. Our rate is around 4.5, about 30% higher.

The Scottish boxes will cost about £100 each. Apparently lots of other countries are following Finland. Experts say the main benefit is providing the baby with somewhere to sleep other than the parents' bed, thereby reducing the number of deaths linked to suffocation.

Infant mortality tatistics on just about every country can be found at

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Word for the day

English is a rich language, partly because we are good at incorporating words from other languages and cultures. But there are some words we use which haven't really been incorporated but there is no equivalent single word, only a phrase. Like the wonderful German word (and emotion) schadenfreude for example. (As it's not really English it's often put in italics like I just did).

My word for today is Finnish: myötähäpä.  It is pronounced something like mew-oh-ta-happier (with short a sounds) and means the sense of shame or embarrassment you feel on behalf of others, say from watching The Office or a friend or relative embarrass themselves.

An emotion I'm sure I have engendered in those close to me many times!

4 of the 5 vowels (the o's and a's) in myötähäpeä have those double dot things above them. Now what's the word for those? It seems to be umlaut in Finnish as well as German.

The Finnish alphabet has two umlaut vowels: Ä (a-umlaut) and Ö (o-umlaut). I understand the letter Ä is not the letter A pronounced differently. They are different letters and have nothing to do with each other. They are listed as separate letters in the Finnish alphabet (on almost opposite ends of the alphabet), they are pronounced differently, they act as completely different and independent letters in words, and they are not interchangeable. Just because they happen to look similar (with the only difference being the two dots on top) doesn't mean that they are the same or even related! The same applies to Ö and O. They are completely different and separate vowels, have nothing in common and are not in any way interchangeable. Removing the two dots from the letter changes it to a different one. Changing an Ä in a Finnish word to an A is no different than changing eg. an E to an U: The meaning changes completely. Whereas in German the umlaut produces a different pronunciation but not a totally different character or meaning - maybe just plural (I think, happy to be corrected).

Now don't forget this and confuse an a with ä, or you could cause a degree of myötähäpeä!

PS My skill for the day was to learn how to type umlaut characters on an android keyboard....

PPS We'll probably have to get better at this stuff to sell to Europe post Brexit. I wonder if English will remain an official EU language? After all, it's the one nearly everyone speaks.... and they will want to sell to us (a blog for another day...)

Saturday, 3 September 2016

I'm honoured - Bill Bryson agrees with me

After considerable thought, Bill Bryson has decided that he doesn't agree with the British honours system. Writing in his book "The Road to Little Dribbling" he notes that there are two ways in USA to receive formal adulation: be a military hero and win Congressional Medal of Honour or buy society's admiration by donating money to get your name in front of a hospital, school or library, rather than letters after it. You don't add something to your name, you add your name to something. He explains that the advantage of this approach is a legacy of a hospital, school or library, whereas in Britain we just get another "knobhead in ermine". (Yes, Bryson said that - I didn't know he used such language).

He recognises that he might be accused of hypocrisy because he accepted an honorary OBE himself a few years ago. He rationalises this by saying he has always made it his practice to put vanity before  principle.

He also notes that, while his citation said it was for services to literature, it should have been for services to himself, because he hadn't done anything he wasn't going to do anyway. Which is part of the problem with honours - people get rewarded for being themselves. As I put it in my post of  21 August, in most fields those honoured have already been rewarded, either by being paid for the activity or in recognition within their field (e.g. sport). And so politicians can bask in reflected glory.

Anyway, the quote about "knobhead in ermine" may have become my favourite Bryson quote. My previous favourite was a little longer:

"Nothing - and I mean, really absolutely nothing - is more extraordinary in Britain than the beauty of the countryside.
Nowhere in the world is there a landscape that has been more intensively utilised - more mined, farmed, quarried, covered with cities and clanging factories, threaded with motorways and railway lines - and yet remains so comprehensively and reliably lovely over most of its extent.
It is the happiest accident in history. In terms of natural wonders, Britain is a pretty unspectacular place. It has no alpine peaks or broad rift valleys, no mighty gorges or thundering cataracts. It is built on really quite  a modest scale.
And yet with a few unassuming natural endowments, a great deal of time and an unfailing instinct for improvement, the makers of Britain created the most superlatively park-like landscapes, the most orderly cities, the handsomest provincial towns, the jauntiest seaside resorts, the stateliest homes, the most dreamily spired, cathedral-rich, castle-strewn, abbey-bedecked, folly-scattered, green-wooded, winding-laned, sheep dotted, plumply-hedgerowed, well-tended, sublimely decorated 50,318 square miles the world has ever known - almost none of it undertaken with aesthetics in mind, but all of it adding up to something that is, quite often, perfect.
What an achievement that is."