August 20 2009



My son and his wife are flying in from Vancouver tomorrow for a two week holiday.
So, Old Grumpy has been busy making sure everything is shipshape before they arrive.
Some of the little jobs have needed doing for for some time, which causes a problem.
If I complete some minor repair in a few minutes, I am likely to be met with: "If that was all that was required, I can't understand why it wasn't done months ago."
Fortunately Grumpette is away all day at a meeting in Carmarthen, so when she gets back I can catalogue all the snags I encountered when it came to replacing that washer in the ball valve.
My aversion to small jobs is a family joke - Dad would rather build a house than change a light bulb is how one of them puts it.
Many years ago we lived in a house in Broadhaven that I had built.
We had been there about six years when my late sister in law made one of her periodic visits.
Noticing that the two missing rails on the roadside fence had at last been fixed (a ten minute job at most), she turned to Grumpette and observed "I see you're putting the house on the market".

Upper crusts

Old Grumpy is grateful to a reader for drawing my attention to an article about our old friend the Hon Rhodri Philipps (aka Baron Strange of Knockin) in the Sunday Times business magazine.
According to the S T, Barclays Bank has gone to court in an attempt to gain repossession of the 3.6 million home counties pad that Philipps shares with his wife.
At the heart of the case is the allegation that he owned the house and other assets and that he made large payments to various parties when, as a bankrupt, he was not supposed to have any money.
Mr Philipps has made several previous appearances in these pages (Rhodri update) (Living it up) (We seek him here . . .) (Polo neck) so much of the story will already be familiar to regular readers but what is new about the latest revelations are the amounts of money involved.
The Sunday Times' reports: "In 2003, while bankrupt, he arranged to set up an offshore financial structure, at the top of which was a “special purpose vehicle” — in effect a trust — called Aubach and based in Mauritius. The trust controlled LII and Hans Brochier. Within this offshore network was a Seychelles company, Optional Systems.
Documents seen by The Sunday Times show that during this period, none of Optional Systems’ assets was divided up among Philipps’s creditors and substantial sums of money flowed into an Optional Systems’ bank account in Mauritius from LII and Hans Brochier. So where did this money go?
A string of payments — each of several tens of thousands of pounds — were channelled to his wife, interior designer Sarah Butcher. Some £70,000 went to Philipps’s father, Viscount St Davids
[Cllr John Allen-Mirehouse's chum (Read all about it)]; £57,000 was paid to James Purdey & Sons, gunmaker to the aristocracy.
Account details also show payments of up to £100,000 a time to Philipps’s polo team, The Prodigal. The money went via fellow polo player Jack Kidd, brother of former model Jodie Kidd.
Unfortunately, my IT skills have again let me down and I am unable to provide a link, but for anyone who is interested in reading the full article the URL (get that!) is
The Hon Rhodri also owes Pembrokeshire County Council in excess of £100,000 in respect of the lease of the former Mine Depot in Milford Haven which he used as a base for the ill-starred Crownridge Steel venture.
Despite a cabinet resolution instructing officers to pursue this debt, nothing seems to have been done.
Indeed, the last time questions were asked about this back in 2005, the Mercury was told "Attempts by the council to trace the whereabouts of Mr Philipps have proved unsuccessful." (We seek him here . . .)
Though, as everyone else seems to know where he is, if the county council was a racehorse trainer it would, more than likely, be up before the stewards for turning out a non-trier.


That's all for this week - that ball valve really was a pig to fix.
I am taking a two week break while my son and his wife are over.
That will also give me time to consider my position regarding the Ombudsman's investigation into Cllr Malcolm Calver's website (Above criticism).
If it is the case that making comments on a website that are both "critical and derogatory" about the council and its members constitutes a breach of the Code of Conduct, then I'm really in the soup.
I'll be back on September 10 when I hope to publish some of the material I came across during the recent public audit inspection.

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