Archive for September 2012

Young love

As we know from that bit of the media which isn’t still raking over the Andrew Mitchell non-story and the waste of time which was the Liberal Democrat party conference, a 15-year-old girl has eloped to France with her maths teacher.

Cue much wailing as well as pleas for her to come home and him to give himself up.

As she is under 16 the word ‘paedophile’ as well as various slang terms have been used online, if not by the media. It is, of course, the wrong word to use as she is, in terms of sexual development anyway, mature. If the teacher really does prefer partners in this stage of life then the term is ‘ephebophile’.

A teenage girl being attracted to an older male is not a story. As a general rule they tend to prefer older boys and men simply because the boys of their own age are usually behind them on the maturity curve.

Given then that developing teenage girls in the UK (and the developed world) tend to spend a significant part of their lives in schools and that schools will likely have at any one time several young-ish male teachers, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that sometimes the object of a girl’s affections will be her teacher.

Most of the time it will remain just a crush, one that the teacher may well be unaware of, and will go nowhere. There are times though when it will go further and I’d be surprised if there is a secondary or upper school in the land in which a relationship between a pupil and a teacher hasn’t taken place at some point.

I can think of one definite example from my days in the sixth-form* attached to my secondary school and there were persistent rumours about one of our humanities teachers*** involving a number of female pupils. In neither case, to the best of my knowledge, was any action taken against the teachers concerned.

Some will rail about the age of consent and how, because the law has imposed a legal age of 16, sexual congress with anyone under this age is an issue whilst waiting until the day of their 16th birthday isn’t. What they forget is that they themselves were young once and that the idea of the law telling you on which day you were able to make the beast of two backs with your partner may well have been as meaningless to you as the laws about when you could drink and/or smoke. Or perhaps, depending on personal preference, even the laws surrounding narcotics today.

Indeed the Telegraph has reported that the French police aren’t actively looking for her because the age of consent on the other side of the Channel is 15 and thus there is no crime taking place.

(Across Europe the age of consent is generally between 14 and 17 years of age, with the outliers being Spain at 13 and Turkey at 18.)

The sin in such circumstances is not that girls involved are 14 or 15 but that the teachers, who are In loco parentis, breached the trust placed in them by the families of the pupils and their employer.

By involving himself so comprehensively with Megan Stammers, Jeremy Forrest has destroyed whatever life he might otherwise have hoped to build in the UK. Assuming he does come back to these shores he can look forward to a criminal record, an entry on the sex offenders register, potentially some gaol time and the inability to ever work or act as a volunteer in any position which requires a CRB check to be performed. And, I would suspect, speedy divorce from his jilted wife.

Megan, who is unlikely to be an entirely innocent party, will likely get away scot-free.

* We were both going through 6th form together and he was one of our maths teachers. Barely out of university himself, he was no more than 8 years older than us and the relationship between the two of them ran for a couple of years or so. The first that the rest of the students knew about it was when we were in pub celebrating the end of our lower-sixth** and they spent a reasonable part of the night tonsil tickling. We certainly didn’t tell anyone about it and they kept it discrete (he didn’t show up on the 18th birthday party circuit for example). She showed up at my 18th wearing an engagement ring whilst only 17 herself at the time (she was the only person in the year younger than me IIRC) and my mum pestered me for sometime to say who it was. I eventually told her after my younger brother left the school 3 years later.

** Obviously none of us were 18 but we were all drinking and no-one was asked for ID.

*** The closest I got to the truth was over a beer with a mutual friend some years later when I found out tha he’d got married. Jokingly asked if it was to one of his former pupils, my friend smiled and said no.

Pick a sport, any sport

Telegraph sub confuses swimming with football


Pick a country, any country

Telegraph sub confuses Afghanistan with Bangladesh


What’s in a word?

Nothing, it seems, if you are Richard Murphy. Always looking to attack those of us who believe in a smaller state and lower taxes, Murphy sent these tweets which purport to show that the think tank The Adam Smith Institute is government funded:

Which, to anyone who knows even a little about the ASI, seems odd… especially given that they don’t disclose where their money comes from.

If we read the (Gruniad) article to which Ritchie links we find this (my emphasis):

Attention has focused on the activities of Adam Smith International (ASI), a “leading international advisory firm” that is dedicated to promoting the “benefits of competition, good government and individual liberty”. Over 70% of ASI’s income now comes from the Department for International Development. The ASI’s managing director, William Morrison, received £1.3m in total pay and dividends in 2010.

Would it be libel to accuse him of deliberately lying to his followers?

The Duchess and the Photographer

Apparently the woman formerly known as Catherine Middleton has breasts.

Shocking, eh? I could scarcely believe it myself but from the feeding frenzy which has accompanied this ‘discovery’ anyone would think that she was the first post-pubescent female to have them rather than being just one amongst several billion.

Quite frankly I really don’t understand what the fuss is about. At some point we’ve all seen someone elses’ boobs – whether they were our mother’s, our partner’s, our girlfriends’, by the pool or on the beach, on the internet, on page 3 or in any other situation. The size varies, the shape changes (even on the same body) and some are more attractive to look at than others but in the long run breasts are breasts. If this is an issue for you then I suspect you have other problems to deal with first.

Where then does the ‘blame’ for this business lie?

According to Anne Diamond on BBC News 24 on Friday morning*, the Duchess of Cambridge has only herself to blame as she dared to bare them somewhere other than behind closed doors with the curtains drawn and the lights off**.

Since this is clearly ridiculous, we need to look further out. Should we therefore blame the Peeping Toms hiding behind their camera a kilometre or so away? They are certainly an easy target but they would say that they are just doing a job – as (at least in my opinion) distasteful as it is.

How then does this come to be a job? If there was no money to be made then it is unlikely that there would be hordes of people with cameras chasing the rich and famous around the world all day and all night.

So where does the money come from? It comes from the publishers of the likes of ‘Closer’, ‘Hello’, ‘OK!’ etc who know that they can make more money selling their glossy, large print magazines containing images of the aforementioned celebrities than it costs to buy the pictures from the photographers in the first place.

Why? Because a significant number of people apparently like to do nothing better than pour over the minutiae of other people’s’ lives and then gossip about it afterwards around the water cooler.

And that, right there, is the crux of the matter. Until our species grows up and stops caring about the private lives of people we will continue to get this sort of thing happening.

I would like to be around when that finally happens – if only to breathe a sigh of relief – but I suspect I’ll be dust long before then.

* I was in the gym, I didn’t have my iPod with me and the other option (besides silence) was Jeremy Kyle.

** Ok, she didn’t mention curtains and lights but the prudish inference certainly was there.

“Do you wanna see me do the shimmy again?”

Sandra White MSPThe latest prohibitionist to come to my attention is one Sandra White, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin. Ms White, it seems, has a bit of a bee in her bonnet about lap dancing clubs. In fact she dislikes them so much she would like to give councils in Scotland the power to close down each and every one of them without fearing any legal come back:

Glasgow MSP Sandra White is calling for laws to ensure all Scottish councils are given powers to refuse applications – and to choose to close down all lap dancing clubs.


Ms White, who believes lap dancing is exploitative to women and that it is a front for the sex trade, will propose clubs should be subject to a strict licensing regime.

This would let councils set the acceptable local number at zero. The SNP MSP is ready to lodge a Private Member’s Bill, which will then go to consultation.

She said: “I feel so strongly about this and that is why I’m going down this route. This would give councillors the choice to say if one lap dancing club is too many.

“Under this legislation they would be able to decide that and not risk being taken to court by lap dancing club owners.

“It would not be mandatory and the decision would lie with each local authority.

“I am hopeful this legislation will be passed eventually.”

Yes, that’s right, apparently we can make the lap dancers safer by driving their places of employment* underground. Could someone please remind me how that approach made the lives of prostitutes and drug users safer?

This isn’t Ms White’s first go either. Her last try, two years ago, was rejected by 76 votes to 45 despite being backed by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. The Scottish Government has signalled that it will back her again.

The only crumb of comfort that I can see is that she didn’t try to claim that ‘it is for the children’. Perhaps she’s saving that for the next attempt (assuming that this one fails)?

* My understanding of the matter is that lap dancers are typically self-employed and pay a sum to the club owner to work there. In return they keep what money they make from the punters.

Crawling out of the woodwork

Australia’s crusade to make their country more attractive to smugglers whilst trying to stop people using the product of the tobacco plant continues with the news that, as of now, people entering the country will only be allowed to bring in two packs of smokes under duty-free rules. Bring in anything more and you have a choice (ha!) between having your cigarettes stolen or your wallet looted.

Moving (physically although not spiritually) away from the convicts, it appears that the recent antics of the tobacco control fools in Tasmania has led to their real goal becoming more and more transparent – not that it was well disguised to the more realistic members of the proletariat.

Whilst it is perhaps no surprise that the government of Singapore* is considering a similar legislation to Tasmania, it seems that the Finns are also thinking about it as well. To someone who hasn’t kept as close eye as some on the tobacco control lobby this was more surprising but some googling reveals that Finland is something of an early adopter when it comes to controlling tobacco.

Lest however you think that this mania is just something Johnny Foreigner is getting himself worked up about, news emerges of something closer to home:

GUERNSEY is set to demonstrate ‘similarly bold measures’ to a potential ban on cigarette sales to anyone born after the year 2000, the Guernsey Adolescent Smokefree Project chairman has said.

GASP (how original!) is, I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear, at least partly funded by the Guernsey taxpayer

This silliness though isn’t just confined to a group of islands too close to France for their own good.

Senior doctors and anti-smoking campaigners have told Sky News they are working towards making the UK a no smoking nation within the next 20 years.

Leading specialist Professor John Britton has called on the Government to back the goal, describing it as entirely realistic.

“Andrew Lansley could make himself a legacy greater than that of almost any other Health Secretary in history,” Professor Britton, who chairs the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group, said.

Yes folks, things have come so far in recent times that the ultimate goal of the tobacco control lobby is now openly admitted to after so many years of pretending otherwise whilst they incrementally shifted the goal posts just that little bit closer to their destination with the passing of each piece of dictatorial legislation.

I would say that alcohol will be next but that campaign, along with the one against the wrong types of food, has been underway for a while.

Forget the various bastardisations of the Pastor Niemoller quote, they have (unless you are a non-smoking, teetotaller who has never eaten anything unhealthy in your life) already come for you. Do you fight as they drag you off for re-education or do you meekly surrender and become the drone that they want you to be?

* Pretty much a dictatorship in all but name.