Iran's Melli Bank on the 11th Floor ...

Preparing for my upcoming cultural visit to Iran, I needed to go to The Iranian Melli Bank at the London Wall. And, that I did. Inside the Melli Bank, I saw costumed female bank officials dressed in Islamic clothing while the males were unconventionally dressed in Western attire of suit and tie. What struck me most was arriving minutes before the BBC-TV 24 News report live at 14.07 from Washington, D.C. with U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, declaring the "Iranian regime is the most dangerous one in the world." More fresh economic sanctions against Iranian banks were to be imposed to further curtail and severely restrict banking transactions of any kind by such banks in the USA and elsewhere. With US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at his side, Henry Paulson singled out the Iranian State-owned banks Bank Melli, Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat. Treasury officals say such banks are "supporters of global terrorist groups for their activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East. Along with Bank Sepah, which was already under U.S. and UN sanctions, the institutions account for more than 50 percent of Iran's banking sector," noted US news reports.

As I turned from the huge TV flat panel, I saw two bank officials with a smirk on their faces as if to say it was all so 'deja vue' and so what's new America? I had expected a glum look on their faces at least or even an angry look, but there was none. An Iranian male bank official also stood close to me as he, too, was watching the same news report. He didn't blink an eyelid, he didn't. For me it was strange to be seeing such a live news report about Iran as I stood for the first time inside the elegant Melli Bank of pure Persian stock. And knowing I was also heading soon for a once in a lifetime adventure by visiting Iran itself ... Will the Yankees bomb Terhan while I'm there? And, if so what will the Iranians do with foreign visitors like me?

But more sensationally, what will Iran do to retaliate for such a bombing if and when it should take place? I now am of the view that it's no longer a question of "if," but rather a question of "when" will George Bush order such a major strike and attack against the Islamic Republic of Iran? Nuclear weapons or not, I personally oppose any American strike on Iran. The cost will
be catastrophic to America and Iran, especially if Putin's Russia decides to come to the military defence of the Islamic Nation. I believe, too, that George Bush is somehow seeking revenge against Iran after the holding of all those American hostages at the U.S. Embassy after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Many American have still not forgiven the Iranians for that and I guess Bush being the revengeful type he is is among them. He was then in his 30's when Jimmy Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980 as a result of the hostages still holed-up in Tehran with the Shah
of Iran then dead as a door nail at Washington, D.C. While the Ayatollah Khomeini then reigned supreme at having established the new Republic State of Islamic Iran over the tyranny of the shah. The Shah's Pahlavi Family is still living in America and London some 28 years after the Islamic Revolution in Iran , I am told ...

As for myself, I have no fear if such an American strike occurs while I myself may be inside Iran. Life is to live to its fullest and although I have no desire to die I also have no fear of death ... So to Iran I go not to see and hear Yankee bombs, but rather to see the incredible culture and history of one of the world's oldest nations. The Melli Bank will survive no matter what George Bush may do or say. As Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing remarked the other day, "George Bush is a world calamity." So again I say, watch out Iran ... And all the rest of us ...
The Guardian stated that President Vladimir Putin of Russia criticised the latest Bush sanctions
against Iran by declaring: "It's not the best way to resolve the situation (between the US and Iran) by running around like a madman with a razor blade in his (Bush's) hand." The problem
Vladimir is that George is hellbent against everything and anything to do with Iran and so he'll
act out his own hatred against the rise of Iran as an Islamic powerhouse no matter what others
say to try to stop him ... The only thing that Bush and America understand is when they see the raw military power of another nation against America's own military might. That's why the US doesn't militarily mess with China and Russia. Or threaten to bomb them or to use airstrikes against them because they know that, China and Russia, can do almost as much damage militarily against America than America can do to them. America always picks on weak nations
like Vietnam, Panama, Iraq, Grenada, and Japan, to get its own way ... But, Iran may well prove not to be such an easy piece of cake for Uncle Sam when it finally comes to shove to push or push to shove. Beware America!! Your "might" against Iran may prove to be your biggest undoing and stupid folly ever! Such will make the mess you've made in Iraq look like paradise
after Iran has finished with you ... Mark my words, by george!!

Another comment for now on what Bush's murderous America might also do to Iran. It could
well do what I call an "Hiroshima/Nagasaki Repeat" on Tehran and wider Iran as the Yankees did so to Japan some 60 or so years ago by their use of the world's first atom bomb and their second bomb three days later that ultimately killed 152,000 people and injured 215,000 people. America now hypocritically talks about some 3,000 dead due to 9/11!! And within months of 9/11 more folkz were gunned down, murdered, and stabbed on the dangerous streets of America than the total number actually killed by the attack on New York's Twin Towers.

Nothing surprises me anymore about the unmitigating propensity of America to wage war and to settle scores against other leaders and nations it doesn't like by its use of calculated violence and savage death ... So again I say, watch out Iran and the rest of us ... the Yankess are on their way to somewhere to kill and to get their own way at the expense of everybody's peace and safety in the world. Read: Timothy Garton Ash's article on Iran in today's The Guardian at
Take care everybody, Monty. +All Saints Day, 2oo7.


The Big Issue's Award Winner Richard Mortimer

Richard Mortimer, 42, was voted the winner of The Vendor Award Scheme, which was presented by Cadbury's chairman Sir John Sunderland at the Oct. 15th, 2oo7, special ceremony that was held at the company's London HQ.
The first award of its kind, Richard is a Big Issue volunteer co-ordinator at Victoria Station. Prior to this,
he was a regular vendor at London's Farringdon for around five years.
On a personal and street level, Richard Mortimer has now kicked his heroin habit and has been clean for the
past three years. Good for him ... Known for his friendliness and politeness, Richard sported his clean shaven head at the award ceremony that also saw Big Issue's Paul Joseph and John Duffy lapping-up the happy event.

Congrats to Richard from "The Vendor's View," too. The next quarterly winner will be announced this December, 2oo7, at Cadbury's Birmingham Home Office and at where the next awards ceremony is set to
take place ...

Ironically, almost two year ago, I had suggested to Big Issue's Mark Brennan at the January 14th, 2oo6, Vendors' Party, that a "Vendor of the Year Award" would perhaps be a nice idea to implement for the street
vendors to compete for such an award. I even wrote the idea down at the prompting of Mark. I think he thought it was a neat and useful idea for The Big Issue to consider. Nothing came of my idea after their so-
called "street expert" John Duffy told me it wasn't good for the vendors since it wouldn't work for most of them ... He wasn't enthused with the suggestion, obviously, for whatever reasons best satisfied his "expertise."
Then lo and behold, there I suddenly see the grand announcement of the "Vendor Award Scheme" in The
Big Issue of two weeks ago ... And, almost two years after my award suggestion had been nixed by Mr. Duffy
himself to me ...

>>> Now let me go from the good news of Richard Mortimer to the bad news of vile 44 year-old scumbag Steven Gordon ...
This is the black bloke and scumbag who savagely attacked and blinded a white 96-year old pensioner on the Croydon tram last December. He was found guilty was Steven Gordon of causing grievous bodily harm and was expected to be jailed for his vicious attack. Instead, the Croydon Crown Court sentenced him to three years of supervision but no jail time or monetary compensation for the elderly pensioner was imposed on
the scumbag Steven Gordon .

So the 96 year old pensioner is still blind in one eye based on the deliberate and unprovoked attack by the
criminal, who lashed out because he couldn't get by the very old man to grab presumably a tram seat.
One wonders if the attacker had been a white 44 year-old bloke attacking a 96 year-old black guy on that tram
that all hell would have been let loose demanding the "racist attacker" be severely punished and imprisoned.
As the research shows, black minorities are always given the benefit of the doubt by the courts no matter whatever their crime (s). I think the scumbag should have been put in solitary confinement for him to think
about his dastardly outburst and have been made to publicly apologize to his victim. I don't care if Steven
Gordon is black, white, pink or blue, he should have been clobbered by the court. But no, he wasn't. While some other poor devil who shoplifts is shipped off to jail for pennies at the drop of a hat ...

STEVEN GORDON, I hope they ship you off to where you came from so that you can never attack another
old man like you did in England. I suspect it wasn't the first time the scumbag has lashed out to get his own
way. Looking at his ugly face, I am almost certain he will use violence again on someone else who cannot
defend themselves like that fragile 96 year-old gentleman ... I only wish, too, that I could have been a magistrate for an hour again, like I was a few weeks ago, so that I could throw the book at the bastard. I would have sentenced him to six months behind bars where he belongs, impose a 1,000 pound fine, make him pay all court costs, and made sure he was ordered to make compensation of another 1,000 pounds to his victim who is only four years off being 100 years old ... By the Croydon Crown Court's leniency towards the thug Steven Gordon it says it didn't want to make an example of him to prevent other like-minded thugs doing exactly the same thing to some else. We hear of black-on-black crime, but black-on-white crime seems to be

hushed up or treatedly lightly by the Crown Prosecution Service and/or the Croydon Crown Court ... at least if the sentence outcome is any guide in this case ... What a pity? And what luck for the scumbag, who should also have been ban from riding any public transport while under his three-year supervision order ...

As for the Big Issue trek to The Himalayas by John Duffy, Sam Woolock, et al, to raise
£50.000- or $US100.000- for the homeless, the trek is now underway from Oct. 25 - Nov. 4, 2oo7. Also, I have been told that John Bird is now going to fly away from The Big Issue according to one of my customers who says she saw John on TV explaining his departure. So
far I have heard nothing official about such an odd story. But, if I hear anything to confirm or deny such a story, I will update whatever the facts are one way or another ...

On a more positive note, I have just received official notification from the Homeless World Cup head-
quarters stating: "The Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup will take place from 1-7 December 2008. "
I will be there for sure, like I was at this year's 2oo7 Copenhagen Games ...


An Evening of Rhythmical Charity

To hear in person the gorgeous singing of noted Christian rhythmist Helen J. Hicks was a sheer rhythmical treat. Dressed in gorgeous folk-style dress of iridescence that matched the beauty and range of her sweet voice, Helen was obviously no hick singer ... Rather she was a vocalist
of some note as she sang her outstanding song of "Love's Not For Sale" among her other songs from her latest album.

The select audience was rivetted more and more by her careful and enticing presentation of perhaps 15 songs of her own making that she sang for us at the magnificent evening's major CHASTE - Churches Alert to Sex Trafficking Across Europe - charity event that I was so please to attend at Soho Square last night. Helen J. Hicks was singing to raise further funds against sex trafficking of women and children around the globe of which CHASTE leads the way against such evil trade ...

Aside from meeting Helen personally at the close of her almost two hour charity concert, I talked with Carrie Pemberton of Ely, who I thought was rather mechanical and impersonal in her professional persona ... An Anglican ordained minister she is, too. She is CEO of CHASTE.
I'd have rathered perferred to talk longer with Helen Hicks than with the Rev'd
Dr. Carrie ... And incidentally in my mailbox the next day, I received a thoughtful message from Jules Blick of LoudMouthMusic thanking me for attending Helen's rhythmical concert. It was my pleasure ... As it was for me to take some upfront photographs of Helen herself. I did one rather silly thing, however, by first asking her if she was married, which I should never have asked since it was an out of place question that for some inexplicable I felt compelled to ask. Helen graciously answered me by saying she was already married ... Oh, deary me ... It should also be noted that she was voted "The Best New Comer" at the 2oo5 Marlborough Jazz Festival, where Helen J. Hicks received rave reviews. What was odd for me was the she reminded me of the compositional-style of the late American singer Eve Cassidy ...

Go online and key in her full name - helen j hicks - on google and read what comes up about her.
You'll be pleased you did ... Kudos to Helen and CHASTE, Monty. +Ember Day, 2oo7.


Black Friday in Winchester

This is the Anglican Cathedral City of Winchester at where The Knights of the Round Table once assembled and where King Alfred The Great once reigned at now centuries ago and he then made Winchester the capital of All Albion ... So steep is its pure English history that to start to describe it would take ages to fully tell. It is so deep that the very core of our being as an English people can be traced to this extraordinary city of sheer historic beauty, ecclesiastic depth, and royal blood.

With the Mayor of Winchester and even BBC 2's Allan Titmarch present, the crowds all gathered at noon at the steps of the magnificent 11th century Cathedral at where I witnessed the degree ceremony of Winchester University graduates in their hundreds at procession after having been blessed by the clergy. Sadly, the consecrated bishop of Winchester - The Right Rev'd Michael Scott-Joynt - I did not see there among the presiding academia. No hint was given, either, of it being late autumn as the Indian summer day gave its open warmth and enveloping joy to one and all.

Oh Winchester, why did it take me so long to first visit you on this Black Friday?
Forgive me!! I simply don't know other than I was once told as a boy of sixty years ago that "ignorance is bliss." Well, let me now put away my past ingorance of Winchester and tell of my sheer bliss of having finally found you ...

It's the birthplace of English criket, I found out, and the final resting place of author Jane Austen. It is here where the one and only 12th century Winchster Bible is found and preserved for future humankind. The awesome and impressive bronze statue of Alfred himself greets you on Broadway! That's Winchester Broadway, please. No the musical Broadway of New York, obviously. Although church music and choral evening song is far older and richer to me than all of Yankee Broadway ... As for the statue I could not find out how high it was. But it's high. I'd say perhaps 50
or so feet high or foot high. Without King Alfred the Great, Winchester would be a dreary little place at best and at worst a no-nothing town. Thankz Aflie!!

Winchester is above all else a bishopic seat of major ecclesiastic importance from bishops like St. Swithun to Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626). My visit to St. Lawrence
Church was testimony to that at where Bishop Andrewes is enshrined in the ancient window of post-Medieval strained glass. Then there's Jewry Street, too, that was once Winchester's Jewish quarter. While on the other side of town, it's the complete antithesis with the Gurkha Museum at the Peninsula Barracks. If the autumn day meant
anything to me, it was here where poet John Keats composed his poetical presentation of "To Autumn" while staying in Winchester during the year of 1819. The Arthurian
Almshouse of the Hospital of St. Cross is still active and giving today to the city's homeless and needy along with it's "Wayfarer's Dole" that is still offered to today's travellers after 800 years of doing so ... Marvellous, I say!! The Black
Death" also came to Winchester during the winter of 1348-9 and savagely wiped out three quarters of the city's population. I visited the old SPCK bookshop and found
William Maxwell's 1948 book "Concerning Worship" and John Baillie's "A Diary of Private Prayer." Baillie's book had almost 20 reprints from 1936 to 1960. He was
also a Professor of Divinity at Edinburgh University. He held an S.T.D, too -
Sacrae Theologiae Doctroate.

I also checked out the local charity shops. Most had little or nothing of interest to me, except at The Cloisters charity shop that directly supports old Winchester Cathedral. I rummaged thru a few boxes of stuff and only to find to my utter surprise a handsigned and framed photograph of His Grace, the late Robert Runcie (1921-2000)as the Archbishop of Canterbury (1980-1991). The photo was a mere £1.25!!
How could an Anglican cathedral charity shop almost throw away a signed image of Robert Cantur and dumped it ignobly in a box of basic cheap bric-a-brac? It must have been meant for me and my interfaith collection of images and things ...

During his Canterbury archbishopic, Robert Runcie was noted especially for welcoming the 1982 pastoral visit of the great John Paul The Second to Britain that saw him as the first pope to our protestant shores since the 16th century Reformation and the historic schism of us from the Holy See. The kidnapping of Runcie's Special Envoy
Terry Waite in 1987 was said to have personally hurt him deeply. His Grace died at
age 78 in 2000 at St Alban's at where he is now buried.

I will now explain why today is called England's "Black Friday" and why I was in Winchester for my first look at the place ...

Due to the severe traffic congestion and the high
number of road fatalities and vehicle accidents that takes place on this Friday, which we're told makes it the most dangerous and crowded day of the year on the roads of England. It even beats summer holidays, Christams, and New Year for huge crowds and major accidents and congested motorways like M25, M3, and what have you. In other words stay off the roads altogether on Black Friday, if you can ...

And the reason I was in Winchester was simply to get a break from the maddening crowds and pepetual buzz and constant incivility and open aggression of London.
Winchester has a calm and friendliness and Englishness that London has since long lost to the new masses of multi-cultural transplants that makes one feel one is oftentimes nothing more than a bloody foreigner or another immigrant in one's own land ... The England I once knew is now lost forever. And, it will never be seen ever again. The inter-breeding and alien mix of today will ultimately destroy our past history, our language, our identity, our heritage, our institutions, and our very being as a nation. Social dislocation and urban warfare will come to Britain
and street battles between the races and religious entities will rage violently like nothing we've seen before. The pavements will be blood-soaked and masses of dead bodies will fill our cemeteries. Our neighbourhoods will be without neighbours other than filled with urban gangz and street armies. Schools will no longer exist except as open training grounds for the alienated and disaffected and violent youth. The police will be totally militarized and armed courts will be open 7/24 and huge pre-detention centres will be open at such places like Wembley Stadium and the Millinium Dome to cope with mass preventive detention arrests. London will look more like Beirut or occuppied Palestine than an English capital city. If we think the Black Plague was truly grim, just wait for the coming "Black Anus" to hit us.

I ended my visit to Winchester and I now plan to visit other parts of Britian and
the world ... Cheers for now, Monty. +Ember Day, 2oo7.


Simcha on the Square

In celebrating 350 years of the establishment of Anglo-Jewry in London, the festival last Sunday of "Simcha on the Square" landmarked the historic Jewish event with fascinating music in the idiom of Chassidic, Sefardi, Klezmer, Yiddish, and Hebrew. Along with the ancient Shofar Blowing or blowing of the ram's horn. And not
to also mention Synagogue Songs! Added to such was Greek and Turkish Romaniote music of the diasporas that included "Yehme Levovi or My Heart Groans - a poem by Israel Ben-Moshe Najara (1555-1625) as sung," so stated the Simcha programme, "in the Maftirim tradition to music by Ottoman composer Neyzen Yusaf Pasha (1821-1884). This tradition began in the 17th century and represents a remarkable encounter between Sephardi synagogue and the Mevlevi dervishes."

A number of noted Jewish organisations like B'nai B'rith, The Jewish Renaissance Magazine, Rabbinic Conference of Liberal Judaism, etc., were naturally represented at the festival that was held at London's
famed Trafalgar Square at where about a 1,000 folkz gathered in rapt attention that also included me.

Next year in 2oo8, the Diamond Anniversary of the State of Israel is also marked. What surprised me, however, at the Simcha (or Celebration) was seeing no Israeli national flag at the festival mast. I saw
plenty of Judaica and so I bought my first Yarmulka or Jewish skullcap to add to my collection of interfaith
memorabilia. I tried some good Kosher food, too.

But aside from the public fanfare of the Simcha festival, all wasn't really sugar and spice and all thingz
nice for today's World Jewry. At least not from what I read in the 46-page British weekly called The Jewish News (TJN), which was given away as gratis by the newspaper to all at the festival. TJN was replete with condemnations, accusations, complaints and criticism against non-Jews.

It was disheartening for me as a Gentile to first read such a condemnatory story, as reported by TJN's Marc
Shoffman, against South Africa's beloved Nobel Peace Laureate and Anglican Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu of Cape Town. I read that His Grace, the archbishop, has been ban from speaking at next year's American PeaceJam at St. Thomas University (the Jam has now been moved to Minnesota's Metropolitan State University) because an un-named Jewish group has objected to his statement that he was "deeply distressed" by his visit to Israel. At that visit, His Grace had roundly condemned what he believes are serious political and military problems "between Israel's policies and those of Nazi Germany and between Zionism and racism." Next, they'll ban the Dalai Lama from speaking for something or other won't they? And to read TJN, one would almost think the Gestapo was standing on every street corner ... My impression was TJN seems to thrive and survive on portraying Jews through the spectrum and prism of victimology.

Today, I think Jews are overwhelmingly safer than they were 50 or 60 years ago despite the rash of anti-semitism, from time to time and here and there, and some heated debates between Gentiles and Jews due sometimes to pure misunderstandings between them. When I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau Nazi Camps in Poland last year, I was moved almost beyond words to see, some 60 years after the Jewish pogrom, the utter starkness and diabolical presence as I stood at what was once a Fascist enclave of raw iron bars, concertina wire, medical torture, human expriments, wicked starvation, gruelling deaths, and hideous gas chambers.

After that shattering experience in Poland, I now believe that our Jewish friends need to look forward and not always see evil of the past as an indication of others' intention to repeat evil against them in our modern age.
I think Jews have many more friends than they realise or even frankly appreciate ... They don't need to apologise, but neither do they need, either individually or collectively, to condemn non-Jews at every turn
satisfy their deep-rooted sense of victimization and self-inflicted paranoia. If you feel you're a victim, you begin to behave like a victim even when perhaps you're not a victim, except in the figment of one's own
imagination or false memory.

I was so glad I made it to the "Simcha on the Square." Just like I was when I was invited to this year's Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture held at The Imperial War Museum at where I also first met and photographed Ben Helfgott, 78, a Polish survivor of two Nazi Death Camps. Ben was the first ex-concentration camp inmate I
had encountered and for him to then share some of his thoughts and life experiences with me was a treasure
indeed as an avowed and avid Anglican that I am. Oh, the only country I have been to that stated it officially has no Jews -- not even one -- that lived there was at North Korea's capital of Pyongyang that I visited earlier this year ...

Immediately after Simcha, I then went and visited Brian Haw at Parliament Square as we discussed the issues
of war and peace under the shadows of the House of Commons and Big Ben that chimed at 2:00pm.
Brian, who I have personally known now for close to three years, was surrounded with plenty of graphic
anti-war posters and degroatory signs aimed at Gordon Brown and, of course, Anthony Blair the archtypical warmonger of New Labour. Since Blair's departure as PM, the sick joke is that he's been made International
Peace Envoy to the Middle East. I've never known a warmonger to be a peace activisit let alone appointed
a "peace envoy" that's an insult to true pacificist wherever they may be. As for Brian Haw, he looked alot better than when I last saw him over a year ago outside Bow Street Magistrates Court, where the British cops have constantly hauled him into for something or other to help disrupt his permanant peace camp across from the Houses of Parliment that no longer truly represents the people to which it claims to represent! Hardly! Since Brian won't budge from his ant-war stance, some Members of Parliament have complained about his "eyesore" and "obnoxious" display against the New Labour's present British Government that shows more and more contempt against the wishes of the people. From the Iraq War to the denial of a referendum
on the major national issue of the new European Treaty, New Labour has been truly been foul in its aggrogance to dismiss or ignore the will of the British people. Gordon Brown is a cloned clone of hideous Anthony Blair - nothing more and nothing less in my opinion. And what they've done against Brian Haw with
vicious police raids and harassment against his British anti-war campsite is the shame of the nation. They might as well have committed disphendonamena against, I guess ... Asinine Bush and Blair will live forever
in ignomy, I believe, for the murderous, illegal, and brutal invasion and occupation of Iraq that is now being seen for what it really is - an ill-conceived and misadventure of American military might to grab oil and further the stranglehold of the Neo-American Empire on the world. Like the Nazis, perhaps one day Bush and Blair will br tried for war crimes no matter what they now say in their ignorant and chavaliar self-
justification for attacking weak Iraq ... and now destroying its very fabric and core in the name of imposing Western democracy and American say so!
UPDATE: Just three days after I visited Brain Haw, cocky Westminister officials, with 10 Met police constables standing guard, forcibly removed the sleeping tents used by him and his supporters at Parliament Square under the guise of enforcing the council's local by-law that prohibits such tents to be there. On my way to Winchester the day after the latest raid, I saw from the coach how Brain's tents were now left on the concrete sidewalk or pavement for him to sleep instead of on the green grass to where the small tents had been. Westminister Council is perhaps one of the coldest and most callous councils in England today. They treat the homeless like dirt and their predatory traffic wardens are notorous and vicious to which the council has extracted over 63 million pounds (or more than $US125 million) in fines and penalties against motorists of every kind within the past year alone. Like Parliament, Westminister Council officials have no shame in what they do. They lower the quality of life for all, except for themselves. Sorry, Brian, that the bastards have attacked you again all because you seek peace of the kind they obviously hate ... Take care for now ...


To Be A Magistrate For An Hour, Like I ...

There are thousands of British Magistrates trying hundreds of thousands of cases each year at every city, town and village across the United Kingdom. The cases are petty for the most part like taking an 11 year old boy to court for stealing a nail worth one penny!! Or another stealing half a pork roll at age 13. Such has become the all-embracing propensity of the police to take even the pettiest offense to court to meet the ever-growing demands of government targets to be met for this or that. While children cannot be spanked or caned like they should be for minor misdeeds, today's philosophy is to drag such kidz to court and spend thousands
of pounds each time in determining what to do to them for such petty infractions of stealing a nail or half a pork roll. Or locking up old age pensioners who cannot afford to pay the rip-off council tax increases every year. It's alot easier for magistrates, also known as lay judges or justices, to jail gentle pensioners than violent young punks ...
Yet at the same time, the criminal justice system in England survives only by the widespread use of magistrates who are not trained lawyers but just plain English middle class for the most part. And while they busy themselves imposing their punishments on the people for petty crimes, the same government cannot keep tabs on illegal aliens, foreigners and immigrants that have committed such major crimes as molesting our children, raping our women, and breaking into our homes!! Many get lost in the system and although recommended for deportation in such major crime cases, they slip through the dragnet and live happily evermore in Great Britain until they are caught again for some other criminal offense (s).
In the mean time, the British prison system is close to collapse under the weight of so many stuffed inside the walls of private run prisons. No, for-profit, private business or enterprise should be allowed to be in the business of incarceration. Reliance and Serco are two such companies that have a vested interest in profiting more and more at garishing more numbers of those being imprisoned at the drop of hat in all too many cases it seems to me for petty crimes. White trash are those more likely to be imprisoned than the richer, middle
and upper classes, under the Magistrates court system. Essentially, too, the so-called minorities who commit crime tend to be given the benefit of the doubt.
So with this in mind, I was more than delighted to be a magistrate for one hour at the behest of the Magistrates Association during the forum3 major charity event just held today at Islington's Business Design Center.
With Ellie Thompson and Paul Drakakis (not their real names!), we sat on the bench together to determine two real cases that had been handled by the Magistrates Court of recent date. Terry Ball, 27, plead guilty to actual bodily harm of bus driver Martin Smedley after a fracas took place on the bus in which Terry Ball was drunk with his three friends at 10:30 in the morning. A father of two kidz and living in a new, detached house, after working full-time for the past 6 years at an established IT company, he admitted to the police what he had done. He'd been identified by the ubiquitous CCTV after he and his buddies had ran off the bus, but not before Terry Ball had verbally abused the driver and then pushed him that resulted, so we as magistrates were informed, in a slight concussion and four stitches for Martin Smedley after he fell. "What's your sentence?," we were asked in dealing with Terry Ball's admitted offense.
As we sat together to decide what we as magistrates for an hour would do,
I determined that the offender should be fined £500-, £250- compensation, and made to pay court costs. I was curious that he and his friends were drunk at ten thirty in the morning on what I assume was a work day for them. He had no previous criminal record did Terry Ball, but he and his friends had earlier, on the same bus, been very abusive to three girls who went downstairs to complain to the driver. He in turn
stopped the bus and order the four drunks off the bus. That's when the driver got pushed and then he fell.
I had no sympathy for Terry Ball and his gang of drunks. In fact, I would support the complete ban on drinking in public places. I am sick and tired of seeing drunken spew all over the sidewalks or pavements in London thesedays. There's way too much binge drinking, too. I oppose all drinking and alcohol, personally.
I cannot stand the smell of drunkz or the way they behave so obnoxiously. They're a disgrace, frankly!!
The other case was of 18 year-old Gareth Marks, who also pleaded guilty to actual bodily harm. He had been
in the pub with his girlfriend when four young guyz came in and started making suggestive and abusive remarks directed at Gareth's girlfriend and him. As magistrates, that was still me, Ellie Thompson and Paul Drakakis, we were then informed of how Gareth Marks endured 45 minutes of constant rude comments from the young turks!! He finally snapped and lost his temper and then punched the alleged ringleader, "who suffered a split lip and bruising the jaw" from Gareth's anger. We were not told if his girlfriend had "egged" him on, but my sympathy lay with him. What kind of guy could be expected to take such verbal abuse and insinuations about him and his girlfriend from four troublemakers (that, I'm sure they were) without reacting after such three quarter's of an hour provocation and degradation unless he was some kind of whimp or simple coward? No, I wasn't as a magistrate going to send Gareth Marks down, but rather I sentenced him to a conditional discharge. Unlike Terry Ball, Gareth Marks was more sinned against than sinned in my view. I could imagine his anger and how he lost his temper. Almost justifiably, I felt, based on the facts of case we were given to determine our sentence.
Usually there are three magistrates on the bench with one of them being made chairman (or chairwoman) during court hearings. On points of law or procedure, the magistrates consult legal counsel to the court and there upon act accordingly in determining the outcome of the case against the accused or defendant. If the alleged crime is a serious one, the court can remand the case to be handled by higher judges with greater sentencing powers beyond that of what magistrates can impose.
To be a magistrate for an hour, like I was, was fascinating and educational for me. "Magistrates in the Community" promotes such realistic encounters for those who might well want to become full-pledged magistrates at some point. At West London Magistrates' and County Court, 181 Talgarth Road, London W6, on Saturday Nov. 3rd, from 10:00am until 3:00pm. They'll also have an OPEN DAY for you to come and judge yourself like I did with the Magistrates Assocation. At the open day, Floella Benjamim, OBE., will open the proceedings. You can take part in mock trials, have photos of you in the dock or police cell, and you kidz can even put your parents in the dock!! While this is a fun way to learn about the justice system, it is also deadly serious since the life and freedom of the accused is at stake by the actions of those we entrust with running our courts not matter at what judicial level they act.
What I learned today that even with such imaginary power to convict and sentence, I felt I was some how
so important in deciding the fate of those standing accused of crime(s) in my midst. It is so easy to think
of what you would do if you became a regular magistrate, week in and week out. I think we want to look tough against the criminals, but the real question is who are the real criminals anyway? And are magistrates' courts becoming obsolete and relics of the past in our modern society that need to be replaced by new types of justice models? But then, what is justice? Is there really such a thing as "justice" no matter what we say?
I personally have little or no faith in so-called justice. It's simply a mindset or mental condition of folkz who believe there is such a thing as justice no matter how elusive in reality it is ... I order the close of this post
of mine here and now as your resident magistrate for the past hour. Kudos everybody from your
"Magistrate Monty." +St. Gertude, 2oo7.

Now this word from the United States of America ...

Attending, like I did, the UK's largest recruitment and volunteering event for British and overseas charities, hosted by forum3, I found it was quite clinical in its representation of about 130 exhibitors from Raleigh International to Terrence Higgins Trust to The Jesuits to Servite Houses and anti-sex trafficing. There's an old saying that "charity should begin at home!" True, but Britian is awash with 190.000 registered charities that has a combined income of £40 billion per annum. There are also over 900.000 charity trustees of various kinds involved in voluntary trusteeships for such charities.

Are there too many charities in the UK? Of course, there is!! The UK must have more charities per population than any other country in the world. And what are some of these charities really doing other than I suspect "doing" or "making charity" to feed themselves first and their paid underlings. Unpaid volunteers simply provide more profit for these so-called "not-for-profit" entities that, I feel, are more or less manipulating and exploiting government charity rules and regulations to their own profitable advantage. Everywhere I go in London there are those "chuggers," I think they call them, rounding on you for you to give to their particular outfit that claims charity status. They get handsome commissions I understand and they get paid well above the hourly national minimum wage as an added bonus.

Millions and millions of pounds are raised for every conceivable cause no matter how dubious or sallow some of them are. Where does all the money go? All too much of it goes into the pockets of charities to pay their overcosts, wages, administration expenditures, and fancy transport expenses, before a dime of it reaches the people or program the money was intended for by the giver.

Charity shops are also a racket in the UK or what are called "thrift stores" in America. A few weeks ago I was in a SCOPE Charity Shop on Walworth Road. I complained about the price of the small bookcase at £35.00 that was almost identical to one I had bought at the same charity shop just a year ago for 5 quid! Yet, now they wanted 35 quid for pretty much the same thing. The woman at SCOPE berated me for complaining saying that as a charity they needed to raise all the money they could. I was a "cold and disgruntled customer" according to her for daring to say I thought the bookcase price was a rip-off. She spouted out about how they were helping disabled children afflicted with blindness or whatever it was and that she had no intention of apologising for such prices "to help the sad children." I told her to stop hiding behind such tear-jerking about such kidz in order to extract more money from the duped public. She became livid, especially after I told that I was a "two-legged, walking, talking charity all of my own" since I sell The Big Issue as a vunerable person to raise needed funds to live. She then stood with her mouth ajar and said nothing further to me ... Then there is the true rip-off charity shop of the British Heart Foundation on Old Kent Road. There I was charged 40 quid when I desparately needed a fold-up bed for my then new sheltered housing. Days later I found the same bed for a mere 15 quid that the BHF charity shop had charged me 40 quid for. They even had the nerve to try to charge me an extra £12.50 for delivery!! I rolled the bed back to where I was with the help of two friends. When I asked if they had any plastic to cover the bed due to the heavy rain outside, we waited almost twenty minutes before the charity shop worker came back with a piece of plastic with holes that covered just the head board of the bed and nothing more ... How charitable was the BHF smelly skunk! I vowed from that day on I would never buy at thing more from any BHF charity shop no matter what ... And, that's what I have done!

So the forum3 event demonstrated the growth industry that is charity. Just like poverty is also a growth industry where profit comes first to those who are so-called fighting poverty at the expense of those who give and more tragically for those who are actually suffering from poverty itself. The bumper sticker that I saw in San Francisco a few years ago stated: "Hospital Are Dangerous For Your Health"
and how so true that is, too! I think then I should now design my own bumper sticker that states: "Charities Are Dangerous For Your Financial Health." Your's, Alex Albion.


More Religious Figures ...

As promised after some delays, I'm now posting more religious figures that I have photographed in three countries under my pen name of Alex Albion. I posted the first series of my clergy figures here on my blog on Sept. 21st, 2oo7. Just scroll down to view them if you wish! Here then are four more clergy figures to share with you:

At Fez, Morocco, is seen the old rabbi who I gladly photographed at the hidden Synagogue in the Medina of the Islamic city. I was the first Anglican to visit there, I was told by the rabbi!! And the first to be granted access to photograph inside the Synagogue itself ...

The Catholic Bishop of Lancaster.
The Most Rev'd Patrick O'Donahogue.

At The Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral of The Faroe Island,
the Head Pastor I photographed in his traditional clergy black
frock and white Elizabethian-style collar at Torshavn.

This is my all-time favourite priest who is called Father Alexander
Sherbrooke of St. Patrick's Church at Soho Square, London. This
man is so worthy of being called to the Episcopacy, in my opinion,
to serve as Bishop and Prince of the Church.
I'll also have more to say about Gordon Brown, who is the son of a Scottish Presbyterian minister, and his disgusting con game of the British electorate on messaging a snap election he'd engendered as likely to occur and for all to think he was actually going to call one. But what did he do? He said "NO" he would not call one! He feared losing his shirt and his PM office, so he dodged his own political bullet. Worse still, he "bottled it" goooooooooood, didn't he? You bet!!


THE VENDOR'S VIEW. Vol 1. No. 4.

What Wonderful Thingz Folkz Zay ... "It never fails to amaze me what people say or ask of me as a Big Issue vendor ..."
:: One guy recently came up to me at my Big Issue pitch and said - "Why don't you get a real job?" I answered him ... "If you've got one for me I'll take it, right now, my dear siiiiir!!" And so off the idiot went with his bushy tail between his two hyena legs ... So never be fazed as a vendor and always try to be ready for the unexpected and sometimes even the truly bizarre ... :: "I'm trying to find the Queen," asked the eccentric with his fly WIDE open. Pardon me? He repeated himself. I then jokingly said: "Well she's a personal friend of mine, so can I help yooooooou? "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO," he spewed like a potbelly pig and rushed off towards Bow Street ... That was, thankfully, the last I saw of him. :: "Good morning, I would very much like two copies of your Big Issue," stated the buxom lassie. She then pulled out a £50 banknote to buy her two copies. "Sorry, my dear, but I cannot change a fifty ..." She takes a horrified look on her face and said to me: "It's terribly inconvenient for me to have to go and get change." We're standing right outside of Caffe Nero and so I suggested she go inside and change the fifty quid note. She took a big gulp of polluted air and then she turned on me like some sort of Leona Hemsley, the once American "Queen of Mean," who also left $6 Million to her beloved dog! "Aren't you in the business of selling magazines, young man?," said she, contemptuously and loudly to me. "Most certainly I am," I said, "So how many copies would you then like from me, my dear?" ... Now like a big arse banshee on the loose, she squelled ... "Oh! And you're cheeky, too!!." She then angrily crumpled up her crisp, brand-spanking, new 50 quid note and turned on her high heels like she was doing a misplaced pirouette at the Royal Ballet School. She rushed off along Long Acre and turned around twice to give me her dirty looks and to make daggers at me with her puffy face now boiling hot red ... and her piggy eyes bigger than her big banshee gob! I was glad to see the back of her, wouldn't you be, too? :: "You should be ashamed of yourself for writing the drivel you do," said one critic of my writing. "Well, I'd say you should be ashamed of yourself for reading the drivel I've written." So ended our critical and literary repartee!! Other than that, I've now seen more weirdos, freaks, and crackpots in London than in New York or San Francisco ... or anywhere else. :: Folkz from everywhere always ask vendors for street directions. That's fine. But when a foreign worker from Eastern Europe wanted to know how to get to London, I became almost nonplus on the spot. I laughingly told him he was already in LONDON!! "Me no understand," he sputtered. I told him curtly, "Neither do I ..." :: Do you have a name? No, I just have a number! So, no name but just a number? Yes, no name but just a number. What is that? My badge number is 236. Is that your rank at Big Issue? No, it's my bank not my rank! What is your bank, but not your rank? My imaginary bank account number 236 with eight zeroes making my number 23600000000. That's very long-winded, wouldn't you say? Yes, I would, it just like you ... you long-winded bugger ... :: She was gorgeous! I mean gorgeous!! She stood at my pitch for awhile and wanted to know all about The Big Issue - its whys, ways, and wherefores. I tried to give her a brief overview and she listened intensely. I then asked her what kind of career she'd had thus far, before she'd recently become homeless. She looked at me blank in the face and then slowly opened her sexy legs and declared "her bag" was doing nude photography and "soft porno for ladz' magazines." What? "You must be joking?," I said to her both with intrigue and disbelief ... Yet also with a pinch of disgust. Pornography of any kind is a scourge on our society just like those vicious British gun-toteing and violent kidz, binge drinking, dope pushers, unprotected sex, and predatory traffic wardens ... She almost bit her own tongue while she also now seemed at a loss for what next to say to me ... I think she was looking for a rich sugar daddy ... which obviously wasn't me! Nor would I want to be ... However, I couldn't help mistake seeing her again as she jumped into a swanky red car with a dark male or two near Aldwych some days later when I was walking there to catch my bus No. 1. Who knows now where she is? And, who cares? Who cares that nobody cares? Nobody! :: My name is Henry! What's your name? My name is Monty. My dad's name is Jim. What's your dad's name? He's dead. Mine is also. My mom's name is Minnie. What's your mom's name? She's dead. Mine is also. My sister's name is Mildred. What's your sister's name? She's dead. Mine is also. My brother's name is Timothy. What's your brother's name? He's dead, too. Mine is, too. So let me ask you a simple question: "When are you planning on dropping dead?" Latest News: My two-day visit to Oxford last week >>See below my story "Oxford Now On My Mine"<<>
:: Let Me Say Thank You To One & All of The Following ::
It's time again to express my many thankz to more of those wonderful folkz and friends who have helped me out by their personal care and generosity ... Here are a few more names! Jill Ferguson is a prime example of a kind and educated lady who has befriended me and we have enjoyed each other's company, too. We've been out together and had a jolly time bantering between us and talking tittle-tattle about my beloved Contessa ... A former Scotland Yard operative, whose name I cannot reveal, is among those who has taken the time and interest to help me when I needed furniture and bedding for my then new sheltered housing ... thank you, my friend!! Now I want to point out Attorney Jackie McDowell, who commutes to Long Acre once or so a week and she always brings me my favourite bakewell tart from Wing's and hot chocolate! Thankz a million, Jackie! Another person by the name of Jan Mol of the Netherlands - who I call "Mr. Ambassador" or "Mr. Netherlands" - has done for me what even the best social services couldn't or wouldn't do. He's shared his wisdom, compassion, and gifts with me that even my own compatriots could or would not hardly emulate or freely give to me ... on the streets of London. Thousands go by every day and don't ever give a penny even at Christmastide, let alone say a kind word all year long ... It takes a gentleman like Jan Mol to restore my faith in the best of humankind ... And, if "Mr. Ambassador" is such a fine example, then my American friend - a noted US financier - Joe Smallman of Knoxville, Tennessee, is definitely one, too. Everybody loves Joe, just like me. Kudos, "Mr. Joe" and hope to see you again on your way back from America!! And whenever I see her, I know Sion Turner will bring cheery news despite her long personal battle with breast cancer. We pray Sion will be all right. Her kindness to me as an administrator at King's College Law School speaks beautiful volumes. Juliet Scrachen is high on my list of good people, too. She and her lovely daughter Megan never come by my pitch without smiles written all over their happy faces. My love to them!! At one time he made world news and today he lives quietly at Somerset far from the media spotlight to which he was so accustomed to. But he now shy's away from such. He was very surprised that I knew who he was despite his concerted attempts at anonymity ... He never realised that I always read the American press ... In any event, I can say he's given me a number of old English coins -- a few dating back to 975-1066 of the late Anglo-Saxon Period -- in the past year that he has thoughtfully brought with him to give to me after he discovered that, like him, I'm a serious collector of old and rare coins ... He gives me his duplicates! Thank you, my once famous friend! Then there is elderly Shelia Aarons of who I am especially fond of. She's been buying The Big Issue from me for ages! When she attended last year's "Commemoration Service for the Homeless Dead" - which is held annually at St. Martin-in-theFields that has just re-opened after millions have been spent to restore the Church to its rightful Anglican glory -- Shelia was quite moved by it all. What I like especially about Shelia is her open Yiddishness and our shared love and respect for each other's faith ... "Shalom," Dear Shelia!! How could I not forget Pat Carney and Ida Negri, who both work for Masonic Rite organizations at nearby Great Queen Street. Ida and Pat are of "the old school" and where vulgarity has no place with them. Each of those kind ladies have treated me royally with nice gifts. And yet another lawyer deserves my thankz. She's Agnes Bonnet, who is Head of European Policy. She says I have an honest face. That's true of you, Agnes, too!! Hard working is she and her warm words and helping hand I've seen most weeks for quite awhile now ... I'll have more good names on my list like Agnes' in the next issue of "The Vendor's View." This 4th issue is now published online and in hardcopy for Oct. 1-31, 2oo7. Please request your free hardcopy, if you'd like one. And, do enjoy!

+ THE 15th ANNUAL "COMMEMORATION SERVICE FOR THE HOMESLESS DEAD" WILL TAKE PLACE AT ST. MARTIN-IN-THE-FIELDS, AT 11.30AM, ON THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8TH, 2OO7+ It is an interfaith service and all are welcome. The Homeless Street Opera will be present, too. They will sing for us all! Light refreshments will be served after the service. Please attend this annual service, if you can ... I will be there for this my third annual service ...


Glad To Post Your Post ...

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "FLOGGING THE BIG ISSUE ... NOT ALWAYS PRETTY!!": Your reference to Poles is a bit off, Monty. Your country welcomed us (yes, us!) with open arms when we joined EU (unlike most European countries that don't allow Poles to go to work there)It was your choice. You needed cheap workforce and not so cheap one - doctors! So you opened your borders.And as far as I know most Poles work their butts off here for little money (I am lucky enough to have a well paid job).If you have an issue with that - have a moan at your goverment.Oh, and nobody sends money home via post any more - it's done electronically. So your £50 notes shortage has nothing to do with that. Posted by Anonymous to thebiggerissue.org at 10/03/2007 12:14:00 AM