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CRÉME DE LA KЯEMLIN — Rifkind & Straw

This blog was founded originally to flush out the creepy-crawlies in our local midst, of which, alas, there are many.  That shall remain its overarching aim.  Keep it Local. There being plenty better venues for analysing national and international topics.

However, in the following case we’ll make an exception to that locality rule. The national scandal below is being thrust offensively in our faces by the local media. Who’ve dressed it up with the barest local slant to get us biting, and to keep the story alive.

The article below was published today in the Ludlow Advertiser (12 Mar).

STING OPERATION:  Targets - Malcolm Rifkind & Jack Straw

STING OPERATION: targetting Jack Straw & Malcolm Rifkind

MEDIA CARTEL: controlling what you think

MEDIA CARTEL: controlling what we think

For those outside Ludlow, The Advertiser is a media sewer-hole output for this district; one of the many local rags published in Britain by Virginia-based media giant Gannett Corporation.

Gannett has a deep and long-standing relationship with the hawks in the military-intelligence apparatus on both sides of the pond. In fact, the apparatus runs Gannett top-down.  [1]

Taken at face value, this story – about Rifkind and Straw – might seem like a common-or-garden political sleaze scandal. Evidently that’s how Adrian Kibbler, editor of the Advertiser, was ordered to hack it out for his local readership.

Superficially, what we have here is Malcolm Rifkind MP, a veteran Tory, and Jack Straw MP, a veteran luvvie of “New” Labour, both caught up in a media sting operation. Busted for trying to secure bungs or kickbacks for themselves. Secretly arranging dodgy contracts for what turned out to be a fictitious company. Silly billies. [2]

A classic sting that has the hallmarks of intelligence community handiwork; an exercise in statecraft. Further, an operation relying on the connivance of assets in Channel 4 TV. Those media con-artists who cruelly lured in these two sticky-fingered halfwits. Capturing them on camera in flagrante delicto, secretly shaking hands to seal their dodgy non-deals.  Kerr-ching!  Not!

Recall that C4 is state-run; the Government selects its board; making it Britain’s second state broadcaster.  Her Majesty’s intelligence community effectively ordered and ran this entire operation.

But why pick Straw and Rifkind for the sting?  What do those two gentlemen have in common? Other than being a pair of sleazy parliamentary has-beens?

On those questions, the counter-intelligence work has already been done for us by cold-war turncoat Peter Pomerantsev.   Pomerantsev writes in the London Review of Books, in an article titled “Friends Like These”.   [3]

The answer is Rifkind and Straw are both long-standing friends of Russia. Or they were until rudely interrupted by this sting. Both men had been warmly extending the diplomatic olive branch towards the Russian Federation.  The Kremlin openly acknowledged them both as friends; assets even.

In the current clime, it’s not surprising that Moscow is cultivating all the friends she can get in the West. Relationships with the likes of Rifkind and Straw are key to halting the relentless march for war on Russia;  sabre-rattling that emanates largely, it has to be said, from London.  Perfidious Albion, as ever. Bless her.

Malcolm Rifkind was honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Russia. A group now known by a more bipartisan title of the Westminster Russia Forum.  Same agenda, but today drawing Friends of Russia from both Left and Right.

For his part, Straw recently gave a speech to that Russia Forum. Profusely thanking Russia for her involvement in Syria, and calling for an end to gunboat diplomacy from all sides.  The speech, Pomerantsev notes, went down well with the Russians in the room.  But evidently it annoyed the huffing-and-puffing militarists in the West.

So there’s the motive for targetting Rifkind and Straw with this sting. They were both in the way of the war machine; irritants of the military-intelligence apparatus which today pushes Europe dangerously towards a military confrontation with Russia.  As with most British-inspired conflicts, this would be a war fought through proxies. The blood-letting happening far from Blighty’s shores but using costly British hardware. Kerr-ching!




DUKE OF YORK: “we’re now back in the thick of playing the Great Game…And this time we aim to win!”

Like the 1980s conflict in Afghanistan, we witness today the same “Great Game”. [4]     As ever-so-randy Prince Andy so ineptly put it.  [5]

A Great Game which lures Russia into an inescapable quagmire. The aim, once again, to bog Russia down in a military offensive to internationally isolate her, and then destroy her. This time in the Ukraine.

Dragging out the agony until Russia finally expires, militarily and economically, from exhaustion.  Allowing the Empire to march in, re-define the spheres of influence between East and West, and then loot her natural resources – those vast fields of oil and gas.


Wiesbaden-based Helga Zegg-LaRouche, founder of the Schiller Institute, provides us with further useful intelligence background.  [6]

This media sting of Rifkind and Straw must be understood in context, says Zepp-LaRouche. Read in parallel to the countless earlier provocations towards the Putin government.  Psychological warfare operations which have been ongoing for years now. A downright tedious hate-fest for those who’ve seen through the obvious perfidy.


LITVINENKO: a Bell-Pottinger production

The Litvinenko Hoax is perhaps the most glaring and enduring example.   A phony polonium poisoning psyop run out of London by Lord Tim Bell, chief propagandist to Baroness Thatcher. Bell, an old-school Tory, notorious for taking his willy-waving far too seriously.  [7]


According to the Litvinenko narrative,  Putin ordered the poisoning as a birthday present for himself!     Who writes this stuff?!   Silly question. Lord Bell does.  Put it away, Tim!

Back here on planet earth, Helga Zepp-LaRouche, analyses the latest alleged assassination of one of Putin’s critics, Boris Nemtsov.   Nemtsov was deputy PM during the Yeltsin presidency.  Mysteriously gunned down this week, with seven shots, in broad-daylight, in the shadows of the Kremlin.  While Putin “pissed himself laughing” (phsl) obviously.

Zepp-LaRouche chalks this one up as a false-flag job;  a brutal slaughter carried out by rogue elements desperate to incriminate Putin and start WWIII.

Let’s be more daring and call it out as an outright hoax;  one in which no one died.  A hoax in which “murdered” Nemtsov, a burnt-out ex-politico with no chance of a political come-back, was secretly spirited out of Russia; possibly to live out his days as an “officially dead” exile in London.  With the staging of his fake murder scene – and nobbling of the “investigation” – left to rogue apparatchiks embedded within the security-intelligence apparatus of the former Soviet Union.   Footsoldiers of those hawks in Russia also pushing for war.

Much the same gameplan plays out today in Argentina, aimed at overthrowing—if not killing—the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. [8]

GENERAL SMEDLEY BUTLER:  war is a racket.

GENERAL SMEDLEY BUTLER: war is a racket.

At this point let’s remember Smedley Butler‘s warning that war is a racket in which a handful of oligarchs – on both sides – make a fortune at the expense and ultimate sacrifice of the many.  General Smedley Butler was the most decorated Marine in US history. So he should know what he’s talking about!

Months later we are still being dosed up with that god-awful Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 narrative – another provocation.  Did beastly Putin really order the airliner to be shot down over Ukraine?   Killing all those innocents?  Demonising himself throughout the world media, as you do?  Or was it maybe an engine failure after all?  Or perhaps a “remote-controlled crash” with none aboard; the so-called “Von Bülow Theory” ?   Or maybe airplane debris was scattered across the Ukrainian “crash site” to look like a plane disaster?  Or was it just another photosloppery job?  A photo-fraud by some spotty-faced “media student” sitting at his Apple iMac Pro, and trained in the art of deception?

Stop!  More than enough chatter on this “load of old fanny”, as one wag puts it.


BRICS LEADERS:  grounds for war?

BRICS COOPERATION: grounds for war?

Zepp-LaRouche’s article is well worth a read;  she briefly covers the BRICS Agreement which is rapidly taking shape between the component nations of Brazil – Russia – India – China – South Africa.

The participants in BRICS aim to build a new, just world economic order.

The advent of BRICS is important for understanding why Russia is, today, permanently in the cross-hairs of the Anglo-American financial-military empire.  The BRICS Agreement gravely threatens the empire’s continued hegemony.

As BRICS grows more teeth there’s more trouble for the empire. If BRICS pushes ahead with the ratification of a $200bn New Development Bank; a New Bretton Woods agreement pegging currencies; New Glass-Steagall laws separating retail banking from speculative finance, and further collaboration on “New Deal” infrastructure works, not least that New Silk Road plan for a transcontinental rail route linking Russia’s Pacific coast and China with European seaports —  then the hegemonic grip of the whole Anglo-American financial system is seriously jeopardised.

In fact, BRICS could leave the entire financial future of the City of London-Wall Street nexus in a state of irreversible ruination.

Yet there aren’t really many options here.  The Anglo-American empire has almost completely de-industrialised us.  The US, and more so the UK, have no physical economies of their own any more. The cancerous Empire produces nothing. Instead it thrives on looting raw materials from foreign lands, and from plunging the world ever deeper into debt. The City and Wall Street – the modern Venetian Empire – has survived only until now by plundering other nations on all continents, as well as its own hosts. And today it is essentially bankrupt.  The Empire desperately needs this war with Russia just to survive financially.  [9]

If there is any ‘local slant’ on this story – it is the palpable failure of all election candidates, including our sitting MP – the War Minister Philip Dunne – to be candid about these provocations on Russia, and their real purpose – to start a war to save Wall Street and the City of London from collapse.

BRICS:  a new, just economic world order

BRICS: a new, just economic world order  [10]












SUPERMARKET SLUGFEST — snobbery in the hotseat


[photo credit: Daily Mail / Wonkypedia; 2014]

No surprise, plans for a new supermarket at Rocks Green Ludlow are polarising townsfolk into two distinct camps. With little common ground to be found between the two.  [1]

This is a straight bun-fight between the progressives from the suburbs, and the dinosaurs of Ludlow Old Town.

The humble folk from the hinterlands yearning for just a little more choice and better economy to their modest weekly shop. Versus the knuckle-dragging neanderthals of Ye Olde Ludlowe Towne who reject any and all ‘change’ as a filthy word, goddamnit!


What we have here is a noisy and noxious army of musty old relics; angry old dragons trapped mentally within the medieval town walls.  Breathing fire on progress of every shape and form.   A wheezing and whooping zimmer-framed generation wedded to the shopping habits of a bygone day. And Be Cursed!, they warn, to any seeking more!

Starkly contrast that decrepit old bunch with their vibrant young neighbours: poor but proud young families in and around this town.



Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; youthfully embracing progress in this deprived rural district; moving harmoniously with our times; seeking a better future for us all. Hear their heart-felt pleas for a modern new supermarket, to meet the modern shopping needs of today’s modern family.

You’d think that between those two camps, this supermarket slug-fest would have been ruled a ‘no contest‘ long long ago; thrashed out months back to greatly benefit the wider masses. But, alas, within the old town walls of Ludlow is where we still find the influence, and affluence, in our rotten borough today.

snobby1b_Screenshot - 060215 - 18:59:16


Ludlow, the painfully awkward town-within-a-town. Controlled by a snooty shower of bombastic and bumptious incomers. An obnoxious cabal of pompous retirees drawn to Ludlow by its infamous Snob Factor.

This is a town for boasting openly of having a different missus mop for every day of the week. And, as usual, the cabal’s hidden civic power wielded through the usual terrible troika  (the Tory Party; the Brotherhood; and the Church.)

A town run by modern-day anachronisms. Bursting with human absurdities. The Charles Pooters from Victorian England polluting our civic life, to this very day. An angry land army of real-life Hyacinth Bouquets selfishly fashioning our town to their own exclusive liking. Sanctimonious old toads imposing their will and their wants on the gentle native folk.

snobby2b_Screenshot - 060215 - 18:49:55


We’ve all crossed their paths and regretted it. Leaping aside as they thunder by on their electric trolleys, barging arrogantly along our narrow town streets; pounding our pavements in their ludicrous plus-fours; bee-lining between their hoity-toity luncheons at The Feathers Hotel; copious cognacs in the Conservative Club; monocles in, and eyes down, mopping-up their daily dose of snobbery from their Torygraphs.   Before a well-earned snooze ready for Afternoon Tea at De Grey’s.   Thence to the Assembly Rooms for the week’s captivating lecture. Where Sir Humphrey will indulge them all with a riveting talk on The Churchill Papers. Quite fascinating, no doubt!  Yawn!   And, finally, so to bed. Another busy day indeed for the fossilised relics of Old Ludlow town.


As true Ludlovians, why do we put up with this nonsense?

Why tolerate these daft old duffers dictating the future of our town for decades to come?

This town is long overdue a nice new supermarket; we must settle for no less!





METAL MINING — from pigs of lead to pockets of gold

The Stiperstones range

The Stiperstones ridge, south Shropshire


ACCORDING to the history books, South Shropshire has been known since Roman times for its rich lodes of lead, deposited deep underneath its rocky terrain.

In the late-19th century, at the height of the British Empire, this area of Shropshire was purportedly, “the most productive lead mining region in the whole world.”

Certainly our mining industry was a profitable affair, at least for a lucky few. But was it ever a productive one?   Not likely, it would seem.


SHARE ISSUE: The Central Snailbeach Mining Company Ltd   [click for full size]

In the late Victorian era, money flooded in to the new Shropshire mining companies that were springing up with each new month.

Led by mining pioneers claiming to be eager to work those precious lead veins hidden far beneath our hills.

Where ores could yield weight-for-weight an unrivalled 20 or even 30 per cent lead.   Or so the mining stock promoters would claim to any who’d listen!

Over just a few years, countless new mining ventures were advertised in the press, near and far.

Attracting interest from genteel Bath and Edinburgh, to the industrial boom towns of Bradford and Birmingham.



SHARE ISSUE: THE BOG LEAD MINE    [click for full size]

New investors lured in by the promise of financial returns on an unprecedented scale.

Promises, however, that would ultimately prove to be wholly unfounded.






Was Shropshire’s heritage of lead mining, stretching back at least 2,000 years (or so some claim), nothing but a giant financial hoax from the very start?

A phony bonanza founded on little more than rudimentary, yet ruthless, sleights of hand?   Relying on time-worn scams well-known to those versed in the tricks of the trade?

Was there ever any real evidence of Roman mining in this area?   Was much lead, if any at all, ever mined commercially in south Shropshire?

Could the entire industry have been just another fraud from those notorious days of industrial capitalism? The heyday of industrial plunder.  Get-rich-quick tricks played out on an industrial scale. In an era rife with financial swindles of one form or another.


"Roman" pig of lead

“ROMAN” PIG OF LEAD — Curious Latin; use of genitive case (HADRIANI) instead of  nominative (HADRIANVS) as found on all coinage of Hadrian

Shropshire’s history of lead mining dates back, so it’s said, to the Romans.

Evidenced, we’re told, by the discovery of “Roman” ingots of lead known as “lead pigs”.

In not so many years, no less than six ingots were supposedly discovered. All within a few square miles of rural south Shropshire. [1]


Illustrated London News (oct 4 1856) - an excursion to the roman lead mines at shelve, etc. (two page montage)

ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS  (Oct 4 1856) – “an excursion to the Roman lead mines at Shelve”, etc.   [click for full size]

Several of those ingots were supposedly found actually inside the “old” mine workings!  [2]

Each ingot bearing the impress of IMP HADRIANI AVG.

Surely dating their manufacture, unequivocally, to the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD)?

Irrefutable proof that the Romans were mining here all those centuries ago?


A promising place indeed to start mining for lead once again?

Yet before we accept these claims without question, should we perhaps apply a sceptical critique?

HADRIANUS AUGUSTUS (117-138AD in Scaligerian chronology)

Hadrian must be the most famous emperor to have ruled Provincia Britannia (Britain).

Ask any child today to name a famous Roman, and he’ll probably name Hadrian; recalling that legacy of Hadrian’s Wall, the 70 mile monolith across our land.

In Britain, Hadrian is one of the most emblematic Romans, even now.

Appropriate that these ingots of lead, unmistakably date by their inscription alone, to the reign of “Hadrian” – the nation’s favourite emperor!

Insightful, too, that the ingots should surface so providentially at the zenith of Shropshire’s mining eldorado!

And perhaps even more telling, not a single “Roman” ingot, of any imperial dynasty, has been discovered here since!



THE GIMMICK – a tricky or ingenious device for attracting publicity

At the time, those ingots served as effective devices for the mining stock promoters.

Persuasive ‘stage props‘ for those men in the City reeling in an endless stream of would-be investors.  Punters eager to secure their stakes in the new mining bonanza of deepest Shropshire.  An area “known since the Romans for its rich lead deposits,” or so they were told!

Those ingots were the lures to draw in the gullible;  gimmicks for fleecing their wealth, in that den of vipers: the City of London!

Missing "Roman" ingots


Now here’s where our scepticism grows even stronger.

At least four of those six “Roman” ingots of lead purportedly discovered at the time, all disappeared sometime afterwards.

Mysteriously vanishing after their public exhibition.


The sixth, last surviving ingot remaining hidden away, in safe keeping at Linley Hall, near Bishops Castle. [3]

“ROMAN” LEAD PIG AT LINLEY    [photo credit: P. Stamper; 2003]

Photographed in 2003 by former county archaeologist, Paul Stamper, is a rare image of that last existing “Roman” ingot.  [4]

Yet there’s a problem with it — where is its patina?

Over time, lead reacts naturally to the atmosphere and starts to tarnish.


In a complex three-stage chemical process – which is difficult to reproduce artificially  – the dull grey metal slowly develops an off-white coating, or patina, of lead sulphate.  [5]

NATURAL LEAD PATINA: early 19th centruy musket-balls

NATURAL LEAD PATINA: early 19th century lead musket-balls  (compare against the “Roman” lead ingot at Linley)

Even lead musket-balls lying in the ground for just a century or two develop that dusty white patina.

Thus, that ingot, after two thousand years of lying in Shropshire’s sodden soils should have gained a very rich patina of its own. And yet it hasn’t.  Why not?

That “Roman” ingot at Linley Hall looks fresh from its mould.  As if preserved since manufacture in a warm, dry display cabinet.  As if kept well away from the brutal elements that raged outside during its “2,000 year” alleged history.  How so?!


Perhaps it’s no surprise that those “Roman” ingots have gone astray or else remain out-of-reach.  Today’s forensic metallurgists might otherwise have a field-day, analysing them all.

Applying, for example, modern techniques of mass spectrometry. To determine their exact elemental composition; matching their chemical structure to their alleged geographical locale; confirming their method of casting; and ultimately their true date of manufacture.

Were these really Roman ingots from 117-138 AD?   Or, more likely, modern Victorian fakes from the latter half of the 19th century?

Counterfeit “Roman” ingots  used in a series of grand share-ramping scams?   Devices of City conmen, for selling worthless Shropshire mining stock to the naïve masses?





Back though to Linley Hall where that last ingot was “found”.

Linley was the country seat of the Mores; a prominent family of country landowners, barristers, and parliamentarians.  [6]

Over the years, the More family produced several Members of Parliament for Ludlow and South Shropshire, both Liberal and Tory.

Not surprising, the Mores, wealthy by any standard, had a vested interest in hyping these schemes.


LINLEY HALL NOW (2014)     (Google Street View at [7] )

With influence in the City, the Mores doubtless enjoyed a share of capital from the mining stock issues; and through land-rents and royalties from mining prospects opened up on their estates; with lucrative insider share-dealing and metal-trading to be had in between.


MORE’S TOURS OF ROMAN FAKERY?   [click for full size]



To promote these stock market ventures, the Mores even gave local history tours to visitors from as far as London.



On display at Linley was that infamous “Roman” ingot. Together with other, equally impressive “Roman” artefacts.

Wooden “Roman” spades,  pottery, and even “Roman” tallow candles, abandoned by miners way back in Hadrian’s day, apparently!

Only to be discovered by the Mores two millennia later in remarkable condition, and just in time for the mining bonanza!

Though not everyone was quite so convinced of that Roman provenance.

The incumbent at Linley, the Rev. T.F. More (Oxon), received a sceptical reception from Thomas Wright Esq., a well-known 19th century antiquarian scholar.

When shown the “Roman” exhibits, Wright could scarcely conceal his disbelief.  Politely challenging the “extraordinary preservation” and thus the true antiquity of these “Roman” relics.   [2]

Wiser then than now, it seems!



Invariably the financiers behind these schemes had little interest in whether the miners struck it rich or not.   In fact they were expecting failure!

By the time a mining prospect was formally declared barren and bankrupt, the promoters were long gone; their fortunes secured years before.



Though even before that inevitable collapse, the really audacious swindlers would take several bites at the same cherry.

Launching further raids on their victims’ capital; tapping the same investors in multiple demands. (see press article, right)

Appealing in desperate pleas for more “emergency” funds. With threats that if extra cash were not forthcoming, the venture would go bust, and investors would lose the lot. Which they always did anyway!


In practice, the capital actually spent on these (fruitless) mining enterprises was minimal. Funding just enough work to convince the casual observer of productive activity. Generating just enough bustle to assure any doubting investors; those demanding to witness the workings for themselves.

Even so, there were occasional reports of disgruntled shareholders ordering meetings with the “captains” of these mines; skilled conmen who worked in collusion with the financiers themselves.

In angry confrontations, distressed stockholders would put the managers on the spot. Ordering them to demonstrate, there and then, that their finances weren’t being squandered or stolen.

The scams relied heavily on the credibility of a tight-knit team of confidence tricksters.


CALCITE: worthless mineral used for pebble-dashing and as grave chippings

CALCITE: worthless mineral used for pebble-dashing and grave-dressing

Typically, at several of these “mines” were incidental stone quarrying operations; making work for the miners when their mines lay idle(!)

Calcite, an almost worthless white mineral used in decorative stonework for pebble-dash and grave-dressing, is found throughout the Stiperstones.

Along with roadstone aggregates it was recovered and processed for minimal profit, all supposedly secondary to the metal mining itself.

While generating negligible returns, quarrying for base minerals nevertheless provided tangible evidence of human activity. Visible proof to show any mining investor that their cash was at least paying for some activity of sorts.

While the real money was being quietly siphoned off in the City by the financiers behind these schemes.



 For example in 1873, the promoters of “The Stiperstone’s Consols (Limited)” — one of many such scams — sought £35,000 from investors – around £3.5m in today’s money – through a single share subscription issue.







Prospectuses were placed in the London and provincial presses to attract hapless investors.

The capital raised from the stock issue, the promoters said, would be used to work Disgwylfa Hill near Lydham.

To extract its “well-defined lodes” of lead (as well as copper, ochre, barytes, and nickel!), they claimed.


Yet at Disgwylfa (Squilver) today, there’s no evidence at all, beyond that 1950’s Tarmac quarry, that any workings were ever undertaken.

So what became of the investors’ £35,000 from the Disgwylfa prospect?   Need we ask?!

These share issues were replicated in numerous scams which sprung up to purportedly mine the Stiperstones over a decade or two, from the late 1850s onwards.

£110,000 TANKERVILLE SHARE ISSUE    [click for full size]

£110,000 TANKERVILLE SHARE ISSUE  (equivalent to £13 million today) [click for full size]

Interestingly, the directors chosen for each new mining company were usually different in each case.

More often gentlemen drawn from outside the area.

Given the fraudulent nature to all these schemes, that was surely no accident, and likely expedient!

There was nevertheless a plentiful supply of peers, baronets and honourable gentlemen, willing to lend their names as directors of each new venture.

Strongly suggesting that the mining scams were coordinated by powerful hidden hands in the City.   Those directors lending credence through their association were just expendable puppets in the frauds.


White Grit "engine house"

WHITE GRIT “ENGINE-HOUSE”  [photo credit: John M 2011]

That distinct lack of industrial activity at Disgwylfa is evident throughout the so-called mining district of south Shropshire.

There’s very little tangible proof of any workings, except for a few ‘prospect’ shafts, and those romantic yet conspicuously odd “engine-houses”.

Structures which rise so prominently above the rolling pasture land.


Otherwise, though, precious little proof that extensive mining activities occurred anywhere here.

And notably, of those “engine-houses”, why do they look like they’ve never housed an engine?!

Stand inside one. Take a studious look around. Try and determine where the engine mountings would, or should have been; and where the drive-shafts might supposedly have secured to the stone and brick walls.

It would seem from their internal configuration that these buildings could never have housed an engine!

LADYWELL ENGINE-HOUSE  [photo credit:  Ian Castledine 2012]

LADYWELL “ENGINE-HOUSE”   [photo credit: Ian Castledine 2008]

Furthermore, those ‘engine houses’, while standing so prominently on the skyline – appear as if they were sited foremost to be seen.

Why are they so far from any signs of underground workings?

The Ladywell and White Grit engine houses are perhaps the most obvious examples here. Very obtrusively placed.

And where are the accompanying stacks to these “engine houses”?

A steam engine needs a stack!  And what about the access roads to and from these buildings, for delivering coal to fuel the furnaces? And where is all the combusted clinker?

For a really obvious example of a fake set-up, study the above-ground workings near the (redundant) Lordshill Particular Baptist Church.   Google Street View of it here. [8]



Where is the “engine house” at that site? Why isn’t it adjacent to that splendid stack which dominates the skyline?

And why is there a stack but no engine house?

Further, why build the stack there, on the precarious sloping hillside (except to be seen)?

Why not build the stack (and missing engine house) at the bottom of the hill?

Why wasn’t it sited next to the “Chapel Shaft” and the lane? Surely that would be the most practical place; where one could easily service the (missing) engine with coal and water?

Just imagine trying to haul coal right up that hillside!

And please examine for signs of a track up to that engine-house site. There are none.

It looks very fake!   Built just to fool any curious investors.

At the very top of Lords Hill, Snailbeach is an even taller stack.

This stack supposedly had a kilometre-long brick flue running up to it!   Not remotely realistic nor practical.  Surely much simpler to build a taller stack in the right place?    Of course, building the stack at the top of the hill made sure it was seen from afar.  That was critical for the scammers.

TOP STACK: with kilometre-long flue!

BEST STACK OF ALL:   with its “kilometre-long flue” !


Perhaps the clearest hallmark of this wholesale fraud is this lack of any remains of industrial endeavour. An obvious indicator today is the near total absence of “tailings” at any of the supposed mining sites. Sites where underground hard-rock mining had purportedly taken place on a grand scale over some years.

Tailings are worthless piles of ‘gangue – unwanted rock by-product, devoid of any valuable mineral content.   The debris dug from deep underground and the discarded output of the milling process. It should be present as large heaps of crushed stone, found piled nearby to every (genuine) mine working.

The tailings are always found nearby to the mine and the ore-dressing plant, since moving the tailings elsewhere costs labour and capital, which eats into profit.   Back then environmental obligations were unheard of. So any genuine commercial mine operation simply left its tailings as is.

The scale of the tailings is thus an obvious indication, a reliable gauge, of the extent to an underground mine workings. The more tailings there are, the larger the workings there once were.


TYPICAL MINE TAILINGS — Comstock Gold Mine, CA (c.1885)

In the gold and silver mines of the American West, even mines deep into Death Valley, there are always extensive tailing piles; including at the earliest hand-worked mines from the days of the Forty-Niners.

And yet by contrast here in South Shropshire we find almost no mine tailings.

How can that be? In what was apparently the most productive lead-mining region of its time?

Just where are all our tailings?!


LEGENDARY: double entendre

Again, by way of explanation, the history books tell another bizarre tale.

Some have it that the (defunct) Shropshire County Council of the late-20th century “removed” (to where, and how?!) the tailing piles from the Stiperstones area, where most of the lead mines were supposedly worked.



Those tailings described, curiously, in one “photo” caption as “legendary”.   A double entendre, maybe?!  [9]

Certainly there’s a tall tale of tailings to tell. (sorry!)






Mining scams like these go back centuries; perhaps as far back as mining itself. Scams were commonplace in the feverish Gold Rush era in north America, decades earlier. There again, the smart money was rarely if ever made in mining, per se.



The real riches from the Gold Rush were reserved to those on the East Coast.  The money-men on Wall Street who secured the initial capital for prospecting ‘Out West‘; and who manipulated the mining stocks and metal prices thereafter.

Mining intelligence” reports, like the one to the left (for “Ritton Castle Lead Mine”) were planted in the press, to enable profiteering from the distorted or “cornered” markets they created.

With a plethora of confidence tricks, frauds and misrepresentations used, then as now, to draw-in and deceive the hordes of new investors.





As mining cons go, the simplest, and yet one of the hardest to detect is “salting“. That is when an ore sample from a mining prospect is sprinkled or “salted” with grains of a desirable metal, before being officially assayed. Fraudulently boosting the ore-to-metal ratio, the potential reserves, and the overall worth of a mine.

Surprising indeed if Shropshire’s mining promoters didn’t engage in at least a little “salting” of their own, to help along the bubble!

Let us turn now to perhaps the most important aspect of these scams: how things worked in the City of London:





Not coincidentally, at the dawn of this mining bonanza, lead was becoming an increasingly valuable commodity. Today, lead remains an important industrial metal, used mainly in the battery industry. [10]

But back then, it was prized for its malleability; an ideal material for use in ‘modern’ plumbing.

This was the era of the great Victorian public health programmes when domestic plumbing was finally coming of age.

The seamed copper piping used commonly today was not yet invented. Instead, lead piping was the best there was; a crucial metal in that public health initiative.

Empowered by the new Public Health Acts, local authorities were ordering sanitation for slum neighbourhoods where poor hygiene was the cause of disease. Installing running water and flushed water closets, reliant on pipework of lead. [11]

That public health programme, and that new demand for lead, ensured tremendous profits for those controlling the metal market. That, it would seem, was one of the key objectives behind the Shropshire lead mining scam.


ENGROSSING: dictionary definition

This was a scam to leverage control and manipulate the underlying metal price; possibly through a practice known as engrossing.

Publishing exaggerated figures for lead mining output to depress the metal price in the City. Causing lead to be dumped on the market in desperation by genuine mining operators, at rock-bottom prices.

The market manipulators could then snap up that cheap lead and stockpile it. Before turning the market around with bullish press reports – claiming shortages and surges in demand for the metal. Enabling them to re-sell that warehoused lead at great personal profit!


Falsified production figures for the sham lead mines of Shropshire could be used to leverage the lead price across the whole country and beyond; particularly the lead imported from Spain and Italy; which amounted in the 1870s to a significant 100,000 tons a year.  [12]

That manipulation could work the price up or down, as required by the speculators.

Similar to the world oil market where control is wielded through the “spot price” of Brent Crude oil, also set in London.

The Brent oilfield in the North Sea is just a tiny contributor (0.4%) to global oil production. Yet the Brent spot price nevertheless determines the price of crude for most of the world (60%).   Market leverage at work!    [13]

In the 1870s, trading of commodities was done semi-privately, absent any official exchange. Metals including lead were bought and sold by profiteering middlemen in dingy London coffee-houses like The Jerusalem in Exchange Alley, an old district of the City.

RING TRADING:  London Metal Exchange  [photo credit: Daily Telegraph 2013]

RING TRADING: London Metal Exchange [photo credit: Daily Telegraph 2013]

Shropshire’s sham mining bonanza foreshadowed, and was perhaps even a precursor to the founding of the official London Metal Exchange (LME) in 1877.







That Exchange is today the hub for a £14.5 trillion a year global market where strategic metals including lead are traded on a futures-basis.

With forward delivery of contracts to any number of domestic warehouses, foreign ports and entrepôts around the world. [14]



The LME is a key instrument of the real British empire – the City of London – an omnipotent cartel monopolising the world trade in strategic commodities – metals, minerals, hydrocarbons, and even raw food stuffs.  [15]



Today, the City oligarchy relies heavily on the derivatives trade to truly gouge out its fortunes (and/or fend off collapse!)

Derivatives – those so-called futures and options – are an entire layer of casino-like speculation in the City. This is commodity trading that exists on paper alone! [16]

In the oil market, derivatives traders even deal in “paper barrels!   Pure gambling where rarely a barrel of oil, or an ounce of metal, is ever delivered from seller to buyer.





“THE CLUB OF THE ISLES”: A LONDON-CENTRED RAW MATERIALS CARTEL   (see [15])    [click for full size]

Derivatives are a wholly speculative financial market that sits precariously atop the (barely) tangible metal-dealing and mineral extraction industries.

Derivatives are a trade created explicitly to manipulate the price of an underlying physical commodity, while rarely taking delivery of it.






The sham lead-mining bonanza of the 19th century, focussed on deepest south Shropshire, was likely a progenitor to the shenanigans of the commodities trade we witness today.


Let’s finish with a quotation from Petronius, a Roman courtier from the reign of Nero, apparently:


Which roughly translates to “In his hands, lead became gold”!    Perhaps that should be the latter-day motto for the financier-alchemists who gave Shropshire her “legendary” lead-mining heritage:

In his hands, lead became gold!























SHARE ISSUE: Perkins Beach Consuls Limited  [click for full size]































215 HOME ESTATE PLANS — back on the agenda

Controversial proposals for 215 new homes off Bromfield Road, Ludlow were roundly thrown out on July 22, 2014 by Shropshire Council’s south planning committee.

REFUSED: multiple grounds

REFUSED: safety and other grounds

Fears for the safety of future residents, particularly children, were cited as the main grounds for refusal. [1]

The Committee considered the site’s proximity to the River Corve, the busy A49 trunk road, and the nearby railway line — which has an 80mph speed limit through the site — all rendered the proposals totally unsound.




The plans were blasted as “absolutely bonkers“, by Councillor Robert Tindall (Brown Clee ward).

The Committee was also concerned over the flood risk; much of the site is on a major flood plain.

In addition, councillors noted the dreadful accessibility to the site, especially for pedestrians.

RISK:  River Corve

RISK:  River Corve

The potential loss of prime pasture land was also criticised; a quite unnecessary issue when so many brownfield sites are available for development nearby.

However, as expected, the Applicant (now known by a completely different name) has submitted nominally new plans.

At first glance, these new plans are indistinguishable from the original proposals; the modifications being wholly superficial.

None of the earlier grounds for refusal have been redressed in any meaningful way (nor can they be).

All previous objections are now ignored by planners; they need resubmitting again, along with any new objections, here: [2]

In addition to lodging these “new” plans, the Applicant — now incorporated as a new company – Tesni Properties Ltd — but with the same directors as the previous Applicant, West Coast Energy (WCE) Properties Ltd — is threatening to appeal to the planning inspector, if they are refused again.

NOTHING (MUCH) HERE TO SEE!: Controversial £50 million development of 215 homes

Just as worrying, is the brevity with which the “new” application is reported in the local press.

Just a fleeting mention, tucked away on page 8 of the South Shropshire Journal! (Oct 10, 2014). Blink and you missed it!

And just one (erroneous) sentence about the hideous footbridge to Fishmore View. An aspect that – contrary to the paper’s report – is STILL very much part of the plans, and a huge issue for local residents.

What a thoroughly pathetic effort of the press at reporting such a controversial £50 million proposal. A development that would, if approved, be hugely damaging for an entire community!

By contrast the rag devotes much of a whole page in the same issue, to one of its famous puff-piece reviews; this time fawning over the ubiquitous new Tasty plc chain restaurant just opened in town! (Eye passim!)

The naked priorities – of serving big business – brazenly on display here by the Journal‘s owner. We despair!


T&CPA STATUTORY NOTICE:  no longer published locally

STATUTORY TCPA NOTICES: no longer published in Ludlow

Finally, for others wondering why there are never any statutory Town & Country Planning Act (TCPA) notices published in our two weekly local papers any more — it’s because Shropshire Council has decided not to bother. Ostensibly “to save money”.

Instead, statutory notices from across the county – like the one to the right – are collected together and on certain days; currently Tuesdays for TCPA notices, they are published centrally in the Ketley-based Star newspaper, in Telford.

No TCPA Notices are published in either of our two weekly local newspapers. A mean-spirited and arrogant attitude from the Unitary Council.

By contrast, Malvern Hills District Council, the local planning authority for nearby Tenbury Wells, continues to publish its own TCPA notices in the weekly Advertiser.

While residents in neighbouring Powys County Council also get to read local TCPA notices, which are published in their weekly locals, e.g. in the Mid-Wales Journal, for the benefit of the rural communities of Knighton and Presteigne, and so on.

Once again, we see the folly of ever centralising powers; the outcome of that odious unitary control imposed on Shropshire by sycophantic, self-serving politicians. Who, in voting for Unitary, acted in flagrant disregard for the wishes of the local electorate, who voted against it!

Planning meetings deciding hugely controversial issues – like this one – are held at a moment’s notice at the other end of the county, ensuring that few locals can ever attend.

Predictably, through that loss of local accountability, that absence of local knowledge in decision-making, and from that contempt towards local participation in the democratic process — all obvious and inevitable outcomes of Going Unitary — the chickens are coming home to roost for those in Ludlow.

Ludlow, a town located on the absolute periphery of Unitary Shropshire’s noxious new empire; a town neglected and maltreated just because of that.









HOSPITAL LEAGUE OF FRIENDS — or is the enemy within?

How mysterious!



In shop windows across town are posters advertising a new NHS campaign group.  Yet it’s all rather odd. The posters don’t say who printed them, there are no contact details; no email addresses, no website, no phone numbers, nothing.  [1]

The new group is calling itself “Ludlow Campaign for Fairness”. In its own words, it was “set up to campaign for and foster a fairer society“.







The posters, which were also delivered door-to-door, advertise the first event of the new group.

Promising a “stimulating and motivating” talk on “The Demise of the NHS” – How did we get into this mess and what can we do about it?  With guest speaker Professor Patrick Pietroni.  [2]

What’s not clear about this new group is whether it has anything to do with “Shropshire Defend Our NHS“, a long-running local pressure group.

An oblique mention by the Advertiser’s Adrian Kibbler, fudges that question.  Implying that, on the NHS, the two groups, and the local LibDems, are all supportive of each other, at least ideologically.  Yet with local LibDems still calling for a privatised PFI hospital for Ludlow, that union just doesn’t ring true.



Shropshire Defend Our NHS” was founded by Joyce Brand and Gill George, two veteran campaigners determined to safeguard the NHS, and retain it in public ownership for future generations; both of whom are well-respected former NHS nursing professionals.  [3]

Joyce and Gill have been commendably frank in their campaigning; no hidden agendas; always willing to clarify their position to any who ask.

By contrast, this new “Ludlow Campaign for Fairness” group remains something of an enigma.  Just who is behind it? Why are they so tight-lipped? What is their overall objective?  Any ideas, Mr Kibbler?! Councillor Huffer?!

If the background to their inaugural guest speaker, Patrick Pietroni, is anything to go by, this strangely secretive new group seems to have a very different ethos to Shropshire Defend Our NHS.

PATRICK PIETRONI: NHS sale-and-leasebacks

PATRICK PIETRONI: NHS sale-and-leaseback fixer

A brief google search for Professor Pietroni unearths his long-standing commercial background in NHS “sale-and-leaseback” deals. These notorious schemes are renowned for causing immense financial harm to the NHS.

Pietroni is an unlikely fellow, then, to invite as a guest speaker on “The Demise of the NHS” (and what we can do about it) !




Until late 2005, Pietroni was a director of Primary Health Properties plc(PHP).  [4]



PHP is a real estate investment trust (REIT) which today holds a £1 billion portfolio of healthcare properties.

PHP has acquired hundreds of GP surgeries, health centres, community hospitals, pharmacies, across Britain. Many of which were bought from the NHS at firesale prices through dodgy “sale-and-leaseback” schemes.  NHS privatisations by another name.   [5]

PHP is co-managed today by private equity firm, Nexus Group, and JOHCM, a subsidiary of Hambros.  Hambros is one of the City’s top banking dynasties which funded and “advised” Mussolini‘s corporatist government in Italy. Hambros was also a member of the powerful Rhodes-Milner Round Table Group. [6] [7]

Pietroni’s PHP was founded in 1996 by City wide-boy, Harry Hyman. In 2006 Hyman was cited for political corruption. The Mail-on-Sunday, the BBC and The Guardian all reporting that Hyman had been holding secret “breakfast meetings” with a key NHS policy wonk to Downing Street.



Cherie Booth was also fingered for facilitating those shady meetings. Meetings in which Hyman and PHP lobbied the Blair Government for more NHS “sale-and-leaseback” contracts.   Kerr-ching!

Naturally, both Booth and Downing Street denied any wrongdoing, claiming it was all a “misunderstanding“. Well they would say that, wouldn’t they?! [6] [8]


Fortuitously, Professor Pietroni resigned from PHP shortly before the lobbying scandal blew up publicly.

These notorious “sale-and-leaseback” schemes work as follows:

The NHS sells its own buildings to a commercial property company (called a PropCo) like PHP.  The PropCo then leases those former NHS buildings back to the NHS, which becomes the tenant. Rental terms of 10, 15, 20, or even 30 years are not uncommon. Often with separate, yet equally lucrative contracts for buildings maintenance, e.g. charging the NHS £200 for changing a light-bulb!  The PropCo typically domiciles itself in an offshore haven to avoid corporation tax and financial scrutiny. All very seedy.

In the short term, sale-and-leasebacks appear attractive to cash-strapped NHS trusts. The sale of public buildings releasing welcome capital to spend on front-line services. However, these deals invariably turn sour. The sale-and-leaseback contracts, crafted by the PropCos themselves, are heavily skewed in their favour.  One-sided arrangements allowing the PropCo to impose onerous rent rises, fees and charges. Over the years, crippling the foolish and short-sighted trusts that originally agreed to them.

Little different to the City of London scams known as PFI and PPP, equally rotten forms of privatisation.  Many PFI (“private finance initiative”) deals signed recently are already turning toxic. Poisoned chalices that are bankrupting NHS trusts right across Britain.

The new University Hospital North Staffordshire (UHNS) is a prime example of a PFI hospital going rapidly bust. The hugely over-budget PFI-built Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham is on the same precipice to disaster.  See “The last straw: soar-away costs undermine UHNS PFI scheme“. [9]

PFI FACADE: "the new £27m Ludlow Hospital"

PFI FACADE: “the £27m Ludlow Health Village”

The proposed “Ludlow Health Village” (which thankfully never came to anything) was another dodgy £27 million PFI/NHS privatisation deal. Agreed behind closed doors with the funniest of handshakes, and promoted locally by sleazy Coalition shysters.

The City bankers behind the Ludlow PFI scam were Amber Healthcare, part of the Amber Infrastructure Group, a phoenixed protégé of the Babcock & Brown looting operation. [10]

Parasitic banksters Babcock & Brown who went belly-up in 2009 were legendary for swindling the Ozzy taxpayer in a rash of privatisation scams throughout Australia.  Creaming off billions for their bondholders from piss-poor-value PFI-privatised hospitals, schools, railways and roads, ferry- and air-ports and leisure facilities. Babcock were at the forefront of the obscene PFI feeding-frenzy, Down Under.  Exiting Oz in a cloud of controversy, Babcock were reborn as Amber Infrastructure, re-locating to low-tax Dublin, before turning their cross-hairs to privatisations in Britain.  [11]

Ludlow had a very lucky escape.  Today, we may have a shabby old hospital in desperate need of a makeover. But at least it’s all ours; all bought and paid for. 100% Debt Free.   No thanks to City banker and town MP Philip Dunne, Peter Corfield and other sockpuppets of the City, who (for the murkiest of reasons) were heavily promoting this dreadful NHS privatisation scheme for Ludlow.  With “Hospital Friends” like them, who needs enemies?!

Returning, finally, to “Ludlow Campaign for Fairness”.   Let’s hope there’s at least something noble to this new group; even if the people behind it are strangely reticent to reveal themselves.

And perhaps on October 1st, Professor Pietroni can truly illuminate us. Telling us all about those dodgy NHS sale-and-leaseback deals struck by his company in secret “breakfast meetings” with the wretched Blair Junta!   We can hope!



ROCK’S GREEN — a new shopping mecca?

County planners will shortly hear proposals for a new supermarket and petrol filling station at Rock’s Green, Ludlow.     See planning application (14/04052/SCR) at [1]

PLANNING PROPOSAL: new supermarket and petrol filling station

PLANNING PROPOSAL: new supermarket and petrol filling station

Great news for the town, is what most of us are saying.   At last some proper competition in food- and general retailing!

For more than a decade, Tesco has been the dominant retail force in Ludlow.  With that grip further tightened through Tesco‘s buyout of our two “One Stop” convenience stores.  Ludlow is now just another “Tesco Town”.   And that’s bad for consumers, and needs remedying.

But alas, the usual suspects – the local traders and the chamber of commerce – are spouting off, rallying against these exciting new plans for a retail revival in our disadvantaged rural town.

No businessman should need reminding that we live in a free market economy. Not the place for a protectionist, anti-competitive, anti-choice attitude.

Have a look at the £20 note, guys. Whose face is on it (other than the Queen’s)?  Yes, it’s Adam Smith!   Father of laissez-faire, free market economics. [2]

£20 BANKNOTE:  Adam Smith, "one of the fathers of modern economics"

£20 BANK NOTE: Adam Smith, “one of the fathers of modern economics”

Smith (1723-1790), the leading economist of his time, was famous for his economic policy of “non-interference” by government.  A policy followed, more or less, to this day.  A policy in which the market rules; with minimal taxes, subsidies and regulation.

This town is crying out for retail competition. And if this new store (my money’s on it being a Sainsbury’s) can bring competition to the non-food sector as well – with more choice in clothing and footwear, stationery, gardening, kitchenware and electricals – then all the better.

PHILIP DUNNE: free market economist, or leaden-handed statist?

PHILIP DUNNE: free market champion, or not?

Oh, and someone please have a quiet word with the town MP (and dashing City banker) Philip Dunne.  He’s jumped lately on to this anti-competitive bandwagon.

Yet when Dunne founded Ottakar’s, his own nationwide chain of stores, he knew he too would be going head-to-head against many small independent shops.  Tough, he said to them; that’s the nature of the game. And he was right.

Those businesses that won’t rise to new challenges are swept aside. That’s business.


Yet with his profits banked from selling Ottakar’s, how different Dunne’s tune is today!  Really! What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, Philip!



soldout1The existing 22,000 sq ft Tesco store in Ludlow has been operating at 115% capacity since it opened. With perishable goods, intended for the store-room, left, for want of space, on trolleys in the shop aisles. Quite unacceptable.soldout2

And so often those fast selling lines and special offers are all sold out.  “Sorry Out of Stock. Not available until xx date” say all the shelf notices. Tsk! How annoying!

While Thursday through Sunday, the Tesco car park is often choc-a-bloc. The number of spaces quite inadequate for all the customers using the store. We need another supermarket, pronto!

As for petrol competition, or lack of it, that’s a very sore point for local motorists, and for those passing through.

In the last 10+ years, this town has lost three petrol filling stations (Gravel Hill, Corve Street, Temeside) leaving just one on Foldgate Lane, which obviously realises its monopoly!

SORRY!:  no fuel

SORRY!: no fuel

Have we forgotten the last fuel crisis when tanker drivers were threatening strikes?

Remember the frenzied buying and rationing at the pumps?


Not just inconvenient but in this rural area, downright dangerous, too.

When the country had many more petrol filling stations (PFS), their underground storage tanks served, in times of shortage, as ‘strategic reserves’.    The closure of two thirds of our PFS has introduced further volatility to the pump price.

Previously, PFS were able to play the oil market; stockpiling fuel when the price was low, and so on.  But with so few stations left, that can’t be done. While that price volatility is great for oil speculators, it’s very bad for motorists.  [3]

South Shropshire is already one of the most expensive places in the West Midlands to fill up the car. [4]  A new filling station, operated by a supermarket giant, may well alleviate that.  More good news for Ludlow.


THE THREE STOOGES   [photo credit: Gannett Corp. 2014]

Say No!  to the bullying small traders in the high street (and harp lane!)

Thumbs Up! to a new supermarket & petrol filling station from this household!

To Mr Simon Hoare (supermarket developer) we say:   Bring It On!








WALCOT HALL — “Shropshire matriarch dies”


WALCOT HALL, Lydbury North, Shropshire. SY7 8AZ

There are many interesting stories about Walcot Hall, and its owners past and present. The Hall near Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire has, for example, a curious link to Emperor Haile Selassie, King of the Ethiopians.

WALCOT GUEST:  His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings of Ethiopia, Elect of God

NEGUS GUEST AT WALCOT: His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie, King of Kings of Ethiopia

Selassie (1892-1975) and his family were guests at Walcot shortly before WWII; living there in exile after the 1936 Abyssinia Crisis, fleeing Africa when Mussolini’s forces conquered the lands of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia.

Decades later and Emperor Selassie was re-born as the new messiah of Rastafarianism;  a modern-day religious cult dominated by marijuana-smoking and the hypnotic reggae beats of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.

Perversely, however, the true roots of Rastafarianism are found not in Addis Ababa, nor even in Kingston, Jamaica, but at the Tavistock Institute in London.

King Rastafari  was a product of the mind-benders in the Tavistock Network; manufactured posthumously into a counter-culture figurehead, to steer the impressionable youths of the Ganja Generation.

EMPEROR HAILE SELASSIE: Messiah of the Tavistock's drug cult Rastfarianiasm

EMPEROR HAILE SELASSIE: Messiah of the Tavistock’s drug cult “Rastafarianism”

The social psychiatrists of the Network, taking their instructions from Dope Incorporated (the Drug Trade), used Rastafarianism and reggae music to promote the popular use of cannabis to our youth. Initially targetting 2nd and 3rd generation British-West Indians – hence the reggae link. The manufactured drug counter-culture soon absorbed indigenous white British youngsters, too. Kerr-ching!

Perhaps later we can explore that largely undiscovered nugget of Shropshire history – Walcot’s links to Selassie, one of the spiritual kingpins from that foggy-minded era of “turn-on, tune-in and drop-out”.


BOOTS THE CHEMISTToday’s owners of Walcot Hall are Clement (Robin) Woodbine Parish and family.

Reportedly, Robin Parish, a fund manager (more on him later), is descended on his mother’s side from Jesse Boot, founder of Boots the Chemist, the high street chain of dispensaries; now in private equity hands. [1]

Robin Parish‘s mother, Elizabeth Campbell Parish (née Boot), apparently died a few days ago at the age of 87.    The Shropshire Star dutifully ran an obit, describing her as the “Shropshire Matriarch” of the stately home, Walcot Hall. [2]

As is often the case with the Star, the photographs (if that’s what they are) are more illuminating than the article itself. Pictured below is The Hon. Mrs Elizabeth Campbell Parish with her husband Major Michael Woodbine Parish. [3]

Since Michael Parish reportedly died in August 1994, nearly 20 years ago, the image (if genuine) would have to be film, rather than digital.

No comment, then, on the idiosyncratic white banding along the chin-line of the late Mrs Parish. Nor indeed that out-of-place 8×8 block artefact in the JPEG, between Mr & Mrs Parish.








DUNNE WATCH — ‘Shopping in Kuala Lumpur?

Flights from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur take a gruelling 13 hours and cover a staggering 3,597 miles.  Our intrepid MP Philip Dunne knows that only too well.

Reportedly back in April, the globe-trotting minister jetted off to Malaysia, for a cuppa and a chat with the country’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.    There’s even a photo to prove it.   A photo.  Singular.  Just the one. Which Mr Dunne proudly tweeted out to his fanbois.   Here it is below;  Prime Minister Razak to the left, and War Minister Dunne, of course, to the right:

TEA FOR TWO: Malaysian PM Najib Razak and Philip Dunne MP

Folks, take a good look at that “photo”.   Study the furniture – the settees, that little table – the china on it,  and the window and cityscape beyond.

Now compare with a very similar picture.   This time, showing the Malaysian PM with Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gota Rajapaksa:

FAMILIAR SCENE?: Malaysian PM Razak with Sri Lankan Defence Secretary

Now let’s overlay those two images, to see what we find:

TEA FOR TWO: Malaysian PM with Brit & Sri Lankan war ministers

Obvious anomalies:

  • skyscrapers grow taller in Mr Dunne’s presence (don’t we all?!)
  • red skirting board jumps up (for joy?!)
  • cups and saucers are unmoved (re-used?!)
  • table shrinks in height (Alice in Wonderland!)

Yup, it’s another Photoshop Fail!   Or is it?!


EDIT:  It has been suggested that the rising/falling skyline is explained by the cameraman (if there was one) taking a different position in the two images.    An expert at agrees that this is a theoretical possibility; but he wasn’t going to be drawn – “it’s just not clearly evident one way or the other (to me).

In Mr Dunne’s favour, three more “photos” have surfaced, purportedly showing him somewhere in Malaysia, where he’d reportedly travelled to attend the Defence Services Asia 2014 Forum in Putrajaya.  That’s not to say Mr Dunne wasn’t in Putrajaya for that Arms Fair;  suspicions here are limited to the first “photograph” above, apparently showing him with the Malaysian PM.    And do believe,  there is form for photo-shoppery!

The narrative in its entirety is dubious.  According to Jane’s Defence Weekly  (the in-house magazine at the M.O.D.),  Mr Dunne has been milking the alleged disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370, a few weeks earlier. Using it to promote British-developed equipment for tracking and surveillance of commercial airliners.  [1]     Indeed, Inmarsat of Old Street London announced just this week that, in light of the mysterious vanishing of MH370, they will be offering ‘free’  “satellite” tracking to all long-haul carriers. [2]

The MH370 story is in itself highly dubious. See here [3]. And for the skeptical star-gazers among us, the idea of tracking airborne vehicles using telecommunication “satellites” seems even more far-fetched.  See here.  [4]   Nevertheless, there’s a lot of money at stake.

Back to the imagery of Dunne though.   What strikes as especially odd is that we can find just two images in this particular setting.  Shouldn’t we expect to find many similar photos? Especially as there were reportedly countless other foreign dignitaries in Malaysia for that Arms Fair?  Wouldn’t it have been rather rude for the Malaysian PM to invite just the British and Sri Lankan defence ministers into his office, for formal photos?   What of all the other defence chiefs left out in the cold?  Not exactly diplomatic; it could have started a war!  Perhaps that was the idea?!  Kerr-ching!

Seriously, though, why don’t we have dozens of virtually identical pictures showing umpteen foreign (and domestic) dignitaries in the exact same setting with the Malaysian PM?  Looking out from his office onto that impressive vista of the Putra Bridge and downtown Putrajaya?   Or why didn’t the Malaysia PM meet all the visiting defence chiefs at the Arms Fair, held in the Putra World Trade Center?  A lot simpler, surely?

A bit more background on the two “photos” above. They were supposedly taken from the central semi-circular window of the Perdana Putra, the magnificent building below.

The Perdana Putra – the Office of Malaysian Prime Minister in Putrajaya

Malaysian Prime Minister in his office window of the Perdana Putra (apparently)

It’s perhaps prudent  to exercise caution here, and file this one under “suspicious”, rather than under the heading of “glaring fake”, as was the earlier case with the “faux-tograph” of Dunne and NA$A ass-tro-not Buzz Aldrin!  (google it!)





LORD HILL’S COLUMN — cracks in the truth?

They often say that a picture is worth a thousand words. But some piccies can be priceless. Take, for example, Lord Hill’s Column, and the close-up “photos” of it. How much are they worth? Millions of pounds in the years to come? Ridiculous? Read on!

Standing 133 feet 6 inches tall, the statue of Lord Hill towers over Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, where he casts his all-seeing eye on the shenanigans in nearby Shirehall.

PRICELESS “PHOTO”? Lord Rowland Hill

Lord Rowland Hill was famous for commanding the troops at Waterloo; the decisive battle in the Napoleonic Wars.

In 1819, with pint-sized Emperor Napoleon safely banished by the English to the island of Saint Helena, county Freemasons erected a monument to their war hero Lord Hill, and, voilà, here he is:

Nearly two centuries later, though, and Lord Rowlie ain’t looking so good. At least, that’s what the “photos” of him seem to be telling us. [1]

Shown riddled with deep cracks in his facade, heavy chunks of render breaking free, Hill, we’re told, is structurally unsound, a hazard to passers-by. In need of urgent and costly remedial work, stresses Shropshire Council.    With regular maintenance required every few years in perpetuity.   Ouch!

And guess who’s to pay for all this? Yup, that’s right: us!    We – the cash-strapped county taxpayers!

That’s the narrative, folks, but before we tease open our wallets to bankroll those bumper repair bills, hadn’t we better check the damage for ourselves?

Since Hill has his head high in the clouds, and is enshrouded (fortuitously) of late in scaffold, we must rely on others’ imagery of his supposed damage.   Here’s the clearest close-up picture of Lord Hill. It was published 30 April in the Shropshire Star. [2]

The BBC attributes the “photo” to Taylor Pearce Restoration Services Ltd of Lewisham, the conservation specialists who were commissioned 2013 by Shropshire Council to inspect and repair the lofty monument. [3]

 So let’s give their image the forensic once-over, folks!   What can we deduce about it? —-

ANOMALIES:  Lord Hill's Column


Well, the “photo” bears those tell-tale signs of a composite fake; a composition of several images bodged together! Fancy that!

Note, firstly, the extraordinary depth-of-field to the image focus. Lord Hill is just a few metres from the camera, and in clear focus. And yet Shirehall and houses many hundreds of metres beyond are ALSO in clear focus! Some camera lens! An incredible optical anomaly? Or our first clue yet of composite fraud? A photo fake in which a war-torn Hill is pasted digitally onto a separate background? [4]

Now note the SHARP focus to the houses on the LEFT, and then note the BLURRED houses and cars to the RIGHT. Those two areas are about the same distance from the camera and should have the same clarity of focus. But they don’t. That’s another hallmark of a Composite Fake. Could two or more images have been cobbled together to form the background? More proof of a cut-and-shut scam?

Now note the semi-transparent wavy lines, quirky compression artefacts, that run parallel to the “cracks” on Hill. Evidence again of Photoshop skullduggery? We shall see.

The image is a JPEG. That’s an image standard which uses lossy digital compression to reduce file size. Every time a JPEG image is saved, compression is applied uniformly. When a genuine photograph is stored as a JPEG, all areas of the image should remain at a similar compression level.

ERROR LEVEL ANALYSIS: Lord Rowlie reveals all

ERROR LEVEL ANALYSIS: Lord Rowlie reveals all

One technique in Image Forensic Analysis is to shift the image entropy back to the frequency domain, to visually identify any compression abnormalities. Using an online tool called, that’s what we’ll do. It highlights the variations (errors) in the compression levels of an image. The technique is called Error Level Analysis. [5]

This is what Error Level Analysis shows us: [6]

As mentioned above, those two areas of background – left and right of Lord Hill – are now obvious as composites. The left area is at a lower compression level (finer detail) than the area to the right. It looks like a fake, guys!

And the “cracks” on Rowlie are at a much lower compression level than Rowlie himself. Indicating that the “cracks” are artificial digital additions. The cracks too are fabrications?! Cooked up with image manipulation software (eg Adobe Photoshop) for maximum visual effect?!

COUNCIL LEADER KEITH BARROW: just another contract!

Why fake it though?    Maybe because head-honcho at Shirehall, Keith Barrow, is on the brink of signing a multi-million pound contract for the repair and maintenance, or even the entire replacement of this ghastly effigy!

And, as my late Aunt Olga from the Upper Volga used to say:

следовать за деньгами!”   (Follow The Money!)

She’s right! The worse condition the statue appears to be in, the bigger the repair bill!












TOLLGATE COTTAGE: Grade II Listed. Circa 1850.

Late 2013, controversial plans were submitted for a new petrol filling station in Ludlow. It was to be built next to the pretty little Tollgate Cottage on Bromfield Road.   There was strong local opposition despite an almost total news blackout. But at the eleventh hour, the applicant suddenly withdrew his plans, to great relief.

However, early last month (Feb 2014) those plans were quietly re-submitted. [1] And yet again there’s been a total news blackout! Not a mention in the Journal or the Advertiser!

And our hopeless local politicians are staying mum too! Not a word at all in their election propaganda! Are the four councillor-wannabes already asleep on the job?

The proposed petrol station would be sited on the rustic piece of land between Coronation Avenue and Bromfield Road. Google Street View here: [2]    An attractive entrance to the town, close to the secondary school. It would become an eyesore and a hazard. Moreover, the area floods regularly. Toxic petrochemicals from a filling station would leach into our rivers. Quite the wrong place for it.



The South Shropshire Journal, in its briefest mention last year [2013] said the applicant was Mead House, a pension fund from “the Isle of Skye“.   How mysterious!   Why would a business, so far away, be interested in little old Ludlow?

Well, the mystery is finally solved! And we must ask WHY the Journal and Advertiser – and the clown councillors “representing” us – are so reluctant to reveal the truth!

The secret applicant behind the petrol filling station is Mr David Delves of Churchstoke.    Delves, anyone?    Yup, David Delves is the son of Roy & Ruby Delves of Mead House, Churchstoke! Grandson of the famed Harry Tuffin!

LAND REGISTRY:  revelations

REVELATIONS:    Land Registry

With sales of £68 million a year, Harry Tuffins was in the top 50 independent retailers of petrol and provisions. Then in a shock move 2012, the Delves family, owners of Tuffins since 1955, cashed in. Selling out to the Co-operative for “an undisclosed sum”. Kerr-ching!

However, the Delves have spoken since of their wish to build a new empire. Another chain of petrol stations and convenience stores!   Paul Delves (David’s brother) told The Grocer magazine that they were “looking at a few more sites“, adding that the family wants to “get back into the Top 50 again” ! [3]

MEDIA MYTH: Applicant from Skye

MEDIA MYTH:  the Applicant from Skye?

So now we know who’s behind these contentious plans for a filling station on Bromfield Road Ludlow! Forget that rubbish about mystery bankers from the Isle of Skye.

It’s Tuffins of Churchstoke after all! The Delves have already bought the site at a cost of £560,000. [4]

They must be very confident that the Ludlow planners will nod it all through!


Such a pity we can’t trust the press to inform us of these goings-on. What’s to be gained from keeping us in the dark?! We may well wonder!

UPDATE 03/15  

At last!  More than twelve months after this Application was first submitted, and our controversial Shropshire councillor Andy “Bodders” Boddington has finally come clean; admitting that the Applicants are the Delves family!



Forget that old nonsense about the Applicants being “from the Isle of Skye”!

That was a myth that Bodders and his Press buddies were putting about, to keep us dumbed-down. While the wheels of government in his grubby planning department were greased to ease this one through.

To be exact, the Delves / Tuffins family, live just up the road in Churchstoke, Powys.  That’s Wales, not Scotland!   A fact that Councillor Boddington has known full well for a long while now.

In fact, since March 2014, readers of this blog were fully aware of the Applicants’ true identity – the Delves/Tuffin family.

Since “Bodders” is an avid reader of this blog – and plagiarist of it – we must wonder why he’s been staying schtum for so long!

Does controversial Councillor Boddington have a ‘special relationship’ with the Delves family?  And precisely what form might that take?  Do they do loyalty cards at Tuffins?!  If so, Bodders certainly deserves one, for maintaining such a sustained conspiracy of silence!

What other secrets has old Bodders got up his sleeve?!

FINALLY THE TRUTH OUTS -- 12 months late!

THE TRUTH FINALLY OUT – over 12 months since plans were first submitted!