Issue 115:2017 07 27:Week in Brief Financial

27 July 2017


NEWS, the word in pink on a grey background

BANKING THE CASH: As had been widely predicted, Metro Bank, one of the leading and certainly most visible of the so-called challenger banks – the regiment of small banks that sprang up after the big bank failures and retrenchments following the 2008 recession – has announced a rights issue, to raise to £278m.  Metro has been opening a network of high street branches in a bid to capture a dominant position among middle income middle wealth customers – not the nil cost minimal service mass market, nor the high net worth private banking market which has become intensely competitive.  That strategy appears to be working – the bank has well located branches and has created high levels of service and low levels of bureaucracy (by banking standards anyway).  It has also been fairly aggressive in its lending approach, building a personal loan business, a small business unit, and going into the mortgage market.  But all this takes time and the costs of running a full services banking business are high, even though the bank has bought-in business – the latest and largest being a £600m mortgage portfolio which it acquired last month from Cerebus.  That gives Metro a mortgage book of around £4bn, making it a fairly significant player in the mortgage market, and providing a useful base for selling other banking services.  Results for the first six months of this year show a profit of £4.4m against a loss of £18m for 2015 and a loss of £13m for 2016.  The chairman and founder, Vernon Hill, says things are going well; over 130,000 new accounts were opened in the first half of 2017 and he expects to achieve a return on equity of 14% by 2020.  But that, although perfectly respectable for a retail bank, is below his target of 18%, which he now expects not to hit before 2022. One of Metro’s problems is that faced by all banks – customers continue to expect more service for lower or even no cost, and at the same time lending margins remain low, and currently falling rather than rising.  And banking costs continue to rise, with bankers seeing more and more regulation and reporting which squeezes both income and capital, as the regulators keep capital ratios high.   At least Mr Hill is happy with his business model – he says he will be putting £10m of his own money into the rights issue.

EXPERIENCE TELLS?: But if Mr Hill is confidently building his residential mortgage business, one of his competitors is not so sure.  Jayne-Anne Gadhia is chief executive of one of Metro’s bigger rivals, Virgin Money who also reported their first half results this week.  They were impressive, with profits up to £124m, a rise of over 30%, from (mainly) a mortgage book of £32bn which was up 7%.  The bank’s other main source of profit is its credit card business which has footings of about £3bn.  But it was Ms Gadhia’s comments which caused some alarm – she expressed concern about the state of the London residential market, and that of several other large cities, where house price rises have more or less ceased and prices may even be falling.  This especially applies to London, and is backed by recent statistics which show that the number of people permanently relocating from London to other parts of the UK is rising rapidly; although the population of London continues to rise overall the incomers are mostly on short term contracts or here for study, so the number of houses to sell is increasing.  Ms Gadhia says that Virgin will be taking an increasingly cautious approach to its residential lending, looking at affordability and leverage issues to be sure borrowers can cope even if prices come down.

FLYING LOW:  Both EasyJet and RyanAir have reported on trading in the past few days; they may be great rivals and often do not agree on much, but this time they certainly agreed on one thing – air fares will fall later in the year.  There is an ever increasing amount of capacity in the short haul (European) market – perhaps not surprisingly as both airlines are busy increasing their fleet sizes with orders for new jets now being delivered.  Both have had a good run recently, with turnover up over 2%, most of which should go through to the bottom line, but that continuing strong performance has alerted rivals to opportunities; the available capacity at a number of regional and tourist focussed airports makes it relatively easy to set up or expand to such locations. The number of travellers is going up, but they are price conscious and they are willing to try new airline brands; on the cost side the price of jet fuel has increased sharply recently and airline chiefs think that that is a trend which is likely to continue.  So both airlines’ shareholders were pleased by the past performance but nervous about future expectations – and both fell to reflect that rather depressing outlook.  Better a passenger than a shareholder for now.

READY MADE INVESTMENT: In an age where many peoples’ weekly cooking is limited to putting a ready made meal in the microwave, few give a thought to where it was made. Often the answer is in Lincolnshire, especially for those more up-market feeds from Waitrose or Marks and Spencer.  Bakkavor, a business founded to process fish, has been through various vicissitudes but is still owned partly by its founders, Agust and Lydur Gudmundsson, who have built it up to be one of the largest makers of ready meals in the UK.  Not only does it do that, but it also makes many other things you eat when in a hurry – sandwiches, pizza, and ready prepared vegetables.  The Gudmundsson’s got into a spot of difficulty in 2009 and now have Baupost, an American hedge fund, as their majority shareholder.  It wants to cash in some of its investment, which suits the founders who also would like to take some money out – though they want to keep running the business.  So floatation is likely to be coming soon – and it could be pretty big, turnover is around £1.7bn and the valuation of the business is likely to be around £1.4/1.5bn.

KEEP IT SHORT: But not sweet.  Mike Ashley, this column’s tycoon of choice, does not waste time on platitudes.  It was his principal business interest, Sports Direct, shareholder presentation last week and Mr Ashley had bad news – profits were down 59% on the previous year.  The company is suffering from the impact of the weak pound on the largely imported stock which it sells; and also the cost of the new strategy to mitigate that of repositioning slightly more up-market.   It intends to expand its direct property ownership, especially of key retail units.  Mr Ashley used 17 words to deal with that, saying the strategy was working – and then shut-up.  His shareholders are used to the style and applauded enthusiastically. To be fair to Mr A, he later spent an hour in a question and answer session with his shareholders.


(as at25th July 2017; comments refer to changes on last 7 days; $ is US$)

Interest Rates:

UK£ Base rate: 0.25%, (unchanged): 3 month 0.29% (unchanged); 5 yr 0.77% (fall).

Euro€: 1 mth -0.37% (steady); 3 mth -0.33% (steady); 5 year 0.14% (fall)

US$: 1 mth 1.23% (steady); 3 mth 1.31% (rising); 5 year 1.87% (steady) 

Currency Exchanges:

£/Euro: 1.12, £ weakening

£/$: 1.30, £ steady

Euro/$: 1.16 € steady


Gold, oz: $1,252, slight rise

Aluminium, tonne: $1,890 slight fall

Copper, tonne:  $5,999, rising

Iron Ore, tonne:   $65.59, slight fall

Oil, Brent Crude barrel: $49.53 rise

Wheat, tonne: £1443, rise

London Stock Exchange: FTSE 100: 7,446 (rise).  FTSE Allshare: 4,074 (rise)


Copper gets ever close to the 6,000 mark; in fact it could not much closer.  Wheat too is moving up a little which reflects not the UK harvest which looks good, but very mixed reports from the rest of the wheat world.  Other than that, a pretty steady week; even iron ore is now marking time again after its recent fast recovery.


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Issue 106: 2017 05 25: Contents

25 May 2017: Issue 106


The week’s news –

your chance to catch up:

Image of elliptical decal with £$€ and Financial News caption


The Care Blunder by John Watson

The need for Jekyll and Hyde.

It’s Behind You by J R Thomas

Politicians should watch their back.

“I Don’t Understand Anything Anymore” by Richard Pooley

Where do French voters now stand; to the Right or to the Left?

The Only Way Is Ethics by Frank O’Nomics

Investors with a conscience can reap additional rewards.

It’s My Party by Neil Tidmarsh

I’m the leader, I’m the leader…

Propaganda and Lies by R D Shackleton

How can we combat “Fake News”?


Bath Brouhaha Prompts A Look At Rubbish And Recycling by Lynda Goetz

Global recycling day scheduled for 18 March 2018.

My Nobel Prize by Chin Chin

Thank goodness for the ban on cultural appropriation.


The Magic Flute

The Kings Head, Islington.

reviewed by John Watson

Puzzles Cartoons and Calendar

Cartoons by AGGro.

Crossword by Boffles: “Leisure Activities”.

Solution to the last crossword “Opera Festival”.

What’s on in June 2017 by AGGro

Earlier EditionsLarge 600x271 stamp prompting the reader to join the subscription list

Issue 101: 20 April 2017

Issue 102: 27 April 2017

Issue 103: 04 May 2017

Issue 104: 11 May 2017

Issue 105: 18 May 2017

Issue 105:2017 05 18:Tree planting, topography, timber and toxins(Lynda Goetz)

18 May 2017

Tree Planting, Topography, Timber And Toxins

Do we need to plant more trees? How to get one planted.

by Lynda Goetz

It is believed that around 3,000 BC some 50-60% of the UK was forested.   But, that being said, any belief that forest cover has been in continual decline since then is totally erroneous.  A fascinating resource here is the Forestry Commission timeline, which evidences clearly how events, and in particular wars, have influenced the way we have used our timber supply throughout the centuries.  Today’s cover at around 10% in England (13% in the UK owing to greater cover in Wales and Scotland) may not be as much as the Government had hoped, but it is double the percentage in 1300, when war and massive clearances for animal grazing had taken their toll; far higher than at the end of the 16thC after the increase in housebuilding, shipbuilding and use of charcoal in various processes (including gunpowder production);  more than twice that in 1815 when timber usage in the Napoleonic wars had reduced woodland cover to an all-time low and 1900 when cover once again down at  5%, shortly to be made worse by the advent of the First World War, led to the founding of the Forestry Commission in 1919.

In the light of this, are headlines referring to ‘an all-time low’,  words like ‘appalling’ and ‘shocking’, and expressions such as ‘drastic decline‘ and ‘prospect of deforestation’, really appropriate or necessary?  This is the sort of reporting which greeted the release of figures last June by the Forestry Commission and also this year’s quarterly report.  It is true that these comments mostly refer to tree planting rather than forest cover and also that between 2011 and 2014 there was a great deal more creation of woodland than there has been over the last two years.  Is this a problem and if so, why, and what can be done about it?

It is a fact that the Government’s aim was to achieve some 12% cover in England by 2060.  This is of course still possible, but it will require planting at a much higher rate than the current one.  This is partly because we are also using more wood.  As our population increases, so the demands for timber increase with it.  Over 80% of our timber is imported.  Use of wood has changed through the centuries.  Wood is currently being used again for heating our homes and hot water (wood burners and wood-pellet boilers); it is being used for furniture, as a clothes fibre and for medicines (e.g. yew for docetaxol and paclitaxel chemotherapy drugs) inter alia.  Not only is there actual usage to consider, but the environmental value of woodland is now much more understood and appreciated.  Many people derive pleasure from being able to access woodland, but as most now know, trees have an important environmental role as well.

Only this week, the academic scientific journal Atmospheric Environment has, according to the BBC environment correspondent, produced an article suggesting that not only should we be planting trees, but that hedges are also essential for absorbing harmful pollutants from the atmosphere.  Lead author Professor Prashant Kumar suggests that where possible in towns and cities, councils should plant low hedges between pavements and roads to help trap harmful toxins from vehicle exhaust pipes.  He is not suggesting that they should stop planting trees, indeed he feels that many more should be planted, simply that hedges could provide a further defence against our increasingly polluted air.

Woodland is also important in reducing flooding; increasing water absorption into the ground, preventing soil erosion and reducing sediment going into rivers, as well as creating a physical barrier to floodwater.  Studies into these ‘soft engineering’ aspects of managing flood risk have shown ‘significant scope for using woodland to reduce flood risk’, although it needs to be part of a ‘whole-catchment approach to flood-risk management’ (Woodland flood control: a landscape perspective)

Part of the problem, it would seem, is that the current regulation of forest in this country is shared between four separate Government departments; Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs Agency (DEFRA), the Forestry Commission, Natural England and the Rural Payments Agency, all administering the Countryside Stewardship Scheme.  In addition, last November the Government opened the Woodland Carbon Fund to encourage more large-scale planting.  The grant scheme for landowners wishing to plant forest changed in 2015 and there have been delays in processing contracts and payments.  Negotiating the complex bureaucratic procedure appears to be something of a nightmare and this, combined with the uncertainty around what correlation, if any, exists between tree planting and EU agricultural subsidies, may have led many farmers and landowners to avoid new tree-planting altogether.

Austin Braby, a spokesman for the The Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest woodland conservations charity, said last June that “there have been lots of really interesting and well-informed conversations… but the system… is not matching up with the fine words.  It is not fit for purpose.”  It may be that the system has needed time to bed down, but as Countryside Stewardship is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, which of course will not be available after Brexit, it may take some time before it really does and we can get back to the planting rates needed to meet the Government-declared targets.

In the meantime, some of you may be interested to know that as an individual who is not a farmer or a landowner, you can still ‘do your bit’ and get a tree planted, although of course there is no EU grant attached.   You do not however need a spade or a garden.  All you have to do is to sign the Tree Charter.   As 2017 is the 800th anniversary of The Charter of the Forest ( a separate dedicated charter of all the rules contained in the 1215 Magna Carter relating to forests), some 50 organisations led by the Woodland Trust have got together to promote the importance of trees.  Just by signing the charter you ensure a tree is planted on your behalf.  If only everything were so simple!


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Issue 104: 2017 05 11: Quiz – Answers

11 May 2017

Quiz – Answers

by Boffles

  1. Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington.
  2. PayPal.
  3. Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American engineer and scientist (1856-1943) who invented the alternating current (AC) induction motor.
  4. The Ottoman sultan, Mehmed II.
  5. Bosphorus comes from classical Greek and means cow passage (or ox-ford) and the name refers to the myth of Io who was condemned, after she had the misfortune to attract the attention of Zeus, to wander the earth as a cow until she crossed it.


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Issue 104:2017 05 11:Week in brief Financial

11 May 2017


NEWS, the word in pink on a grey background

CAN’T GIVE IT AWAY: It’s not easy owning a bank nowadays – but it is even more difficult getting rid of one.  Readers will remember RBS’s struggles to get rid of its Williams and Glynn’s arm, Barclays has struggled to sell some of its peripheral operations, and the Coop Group has been trying to sell its bank – the Cooperative Bank – for several years.  It looked as though a deal was done earlier this year, with rumours that Virgin Money was the buyer, the latest suitor in a little list, which included Clydesdale Group, and JC Flowers – no relation to Paul Flowers, the bank’s former chairman whose extraordinary lifestyle brought the bank’s problems to the public attention in the first place.  The difficulty continues to be two fold – firstly the complex ownership structure which reflects the original rescue plan by the Coop Group which brought in a group of hedge funds to recapitalise the bank, Coop itself being too light on capital to do that by itself; and secondly the troubled nature of the bank’s loan book. Apparently, although nine years have passed since the banking crash, the bank has only made slow progress in sorting out its portfolio of bad or non-performing loans.  The bank has a concentration of business in the North West, with much credit extended to small business owners and particularly the smaller end of the property industry, including development finance.  These have proven difficult to work through, and the North West has been slow to recover from the recession.  The bank is no minnow; it has nearly 1.5 million customers, many private individuals with great loyalty to the other parts of the Coop Group – now principally its retail food business and a very strong funeral business.  Shutting the banking operation down is not thought to be an option although the shareholders have considered splitting it into two to get the non-performing loans into a “bad bank” where they can be dealt with, and leaving the retail bank as a clean and private customer focussed business.  It is understood though that the banking regulators are not keen on this because of the weak capital base of the bank, and its very complex pension plan, which covers the whole Coop Group and is in deficit.  If the bank cannot be sold, then further capital will have to be introduced – which is a problem for the Coop because neither it nor the regulator want to let that shareholding go below 20%.  The current talk is that £750m will have to be injected soon, the Coop part funded, at least in part, by forcing bondholders to convert their holdings to equity.  But the hedge fund shareholders cannot agree whether that is the way forward or how much can be injected.  Which may yet mean that a buyer just has to be found…

FEELING SICK?  The problems of the NHS are well publicised but not so often commented on is the rapid growth in the private healthcare sector in the UK.  The public, if they can afford it or are insured – as many office workers are under employer-provided healthcare insurance – increasingly take health issues to private hospitals or care centres, to such an extent that the business in the UK is said to be worth over £6bn and growing fast.  In fact it has grown so fast that it is said that there is over capacity in the private sector, with specialist machinery and operating facilities standing out of use.  The sector does contract with the NHS to do some work, but pricing is of course an issue there.  One of the biggest private healthcare treatment businesses in the UK is currently up for sale – Aspen Healthcare which owns six private hospitals and two cancer treatment centres.  The price is said to be around £150m, and the vendor is Tenet Healthcare from Texas which is under some pressure financially because of a large fine imposed following a bribery scandal in its US business.  Tenet only bought the business in 2015, from a private equity group, for £144m.  Revenues are thought to be running at around £120m and have shown only modest growth over the last two years.  Even so the price seems modest and reflects both the demand and revenue issues in the UK private sector, and Tenet’s need to raise cash.

FLYING LOW:  Ryanair was once said to be the world’s least favourite airline, but it remained the one every budget conscious traveller flew, with super low fares and reliable schedules, and a fleet of modern jets.  If it flew to some pretty obscure places (Frankfurt-Hahn, anyone?) it opened up new destinations and brought prosperity to some modest towns across Europe.  In recent years the airline has sought to improve customer loyalty by being generally nicer and cutting out some of its more controversial charging supplements.  But if it is improving passenger opinions, it will now have to work on doing the same with investors.  Seven pension funds have just announced that they are selling their holdings in the airline, because they are concerned about labour relations at Ryanair, which is involved in a series of disputes in continental Europe about locally employed labour.  Ryanair argues that its staff are subject to Irish employment law – staff say that if they work exclusively in one jurisdiction they should be subject to the relevant law in that jurisdiction (when it is more beneficial to them, unsurprisingly).  The pension fund investors say that this is not acceptable and think Ryanair should do the right thing by its people.  They also worry about the long term effect on the business model if staff become too restive.  Michael O’Leary, CEO and a major shareholder in Ryanair, is famous for his plain-speaking.  He commented that he does not care if the pension funds don’t want to invest in his business, calling them “idiots”.  The Ryanair share price has risen 10% so far this year.

IRON ORE:  We have added iron ore to our commodities list.  Iron ore is a still a key component in many manufactured goods and its price movements are an insight into industrial production, especially in the eastern growth economies.  Last August the price was $60 a tonne, from which point it climbed as output from mines was cut and investors expected Chinese industrial production to recover fast.

Recently there have been further dramatic movements in price, back now to $60 from over $90 in late February this year, which reflects that industrial output in the Far East is modestly improving – but mine output, responding to that peak, has enormously increased – and there are suspicions that some users have big stockpiles which they bought as the price rose so fast. That means somebody is sitting on some ever growing losses. As there is not much speculative trading in iron ore – not easy stuff to handle if you have to take delivery – the main traders are mines and manufacturers. So it is almost certainly steel manufacturers that are sitting on the losses.

KEY MARKET INDICES:  (as at 9th May 2017; comments refer to changes on last 7 days; $ is US$)

Interest Rates:

UK£ Base rate: 0.25%, unchanged: 3 month 0.32% (steady); 5 year 0.77% (rising).

Euro€: 1 mth -0.37% (steady); 3 mth -0.33% (steady); 5 year 0.13% (rising)

US$: 1 mth 0.99% (steady); 3 mth 1.18% (rising); 5 year 1.98% (rising)

Currency Exchanges:

£/Euro: 1.19, £ rising

£/$: 1.29, £ rising

Euro/$: 1.09, € steady


Gold, oz: $1,225, falling

Aluminium, tonne: $1,878, falling

Copper, tonne: $5,465, falling

Iron Ore, tonne: $60.72, falling

Oil, Brent Crude barrel: $49.43 falling

Wheat, tonne: £149 slight fall

London Stock Exchange: FTSE 100: 7,343 (rise). FTSE Allshare: 4,031 (rise)


Last week was pretty quiet; this week certainly wasn’t. Commodities all fell; gold a bit, oil and iron ore a lot – oil dipping below that key $50 a barrel price to, as we write, $49.43 (it was lower at opening). But the LSE likes this – prices rose, with the All-share again breaking through the 4,000 mark. Long term interest rates continue to edge up and the pound strengthened a little.

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Issue 102: 2017 04 27:May Calendar (AGGro)

27 April 2017


 by AGGro

1st MON:Early Easter Bank Holiday (aka May Day) – International Workers Day.

2nd TUES: 35 years ago: Falklands War – Argentine ship, General Belgrano torpedoed by British submarine HMS Conqueror.   320 Argentine crew perished & 700 rescued.

Football:- Champions League semi-finals, first legs until 3/5.

3rd WED: General Election:  Parliament to be dissolved 25 working days before polling day.

Polish National Day:there are an estimated one million Poles in the UK.

Equestrian: Badminton Horse Trials until 07/05.

4th THURS: Local Elections: 4,851 council seats being contested in England, Scotland and Wales.  6 new Metro Mayors.

Football: Europa League semi-finals, first legs.

5th FRI: Cricket: 1st One Day International – England v Ireland, Bristol County Ground.

Cycling: Giro d’Italia until 28 May.

6th SAT:  UK compliance with European Directive (SI 2017/554):  DVLA to provide vehicle owner details at time of certain traffic          offences when requested by another EU country within 12 months of alleged offence.

Horse racing: 2,000 Guineas, Newmarket.

Tony Blair: is 64 today.

7th SUN:  Cricket: 2nd One Day International – England v Ireland,  Lord’s.

French Presidential Election:Second round takes place after first round of 23rd April.

2 years ago: UK General Election 2015: Con 331, Lab 232, SNP 56, Lib Dem 8, DUP 8, Others 14.

8th MON: VE Day: WW2- marks Allied victory in Europe 72 years ago (Eastern Europe celebrates on 9th May).

75 years ago: WW2 – Battle of the Coral Sea – US aircraft carrier victory over Japan navy.

Eddie Butler: TV Rugby commentator is 60 today.

9th TUES: Football: Champions League semi-finals, second leg until 10 May.

Vince Cable: is 74 today.

11th THURS: General election:  Deadline for parliamentary candidates to file their nomination papers.

Football: Europa League semi-finals, second leg.

12th FRI: Horses: Chatsworth International Trials, Derbyshire until 14 May.

13th SAT:100 years ago: Catholic Church: Our Lady of Fátima, Virgin Mary appears to 3 Portuguese children.

Eurovision Song Contest: 2017 Final (62nd) Kiev, Ukraine. 43 entries – not including Russia.

Rugby Union:  European Rugby Champions Cup final, Edinburgh.

Football: – Women’s FA Cup final, Wembley.

14th SUN: Formula 1:  Spanish Grand Prix, Barcelona.

Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook founder is 33 today.

15th MON:Birthdays: Zara Tindall is 36 and Andy Murray is 30.

17th WED: Film: Cannes Film Festival until 28 May.

20th SAT: Football: League One Play-off Final, Wembley.

Rugby League: Magic Weekend, Newcastle until 21 May.

Rugby Union: World Sevens Series, Twickenham until 21 May.

21st SUN:  Smoking: Changes to legislation effective following law change on  20/05/ 2016.  Cigarettes to be sold in plain packaging, withdrawal of smaller packs of 10 cigarettes and packs of less than 30g of rolling tobacco.

Football: Premier League and Scottish Premiership seasons end.

22nd MON: General Election:  Last date to register to vote.

Tennis: French Open, Roland Garros until 05 May.

23rd TUES: Flowers: RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Royal Hospital SW3 until 27 May.

George Osborne is 46 today.

24th WED: Football:Europa League final, Stockholm.

Birthday:Dominic Grieve is 61 today.

Cricket: 1st One Day Internationals – England v South Africa, Headingly, Leeds.

25th THURS: Schools: Half term  (London maj) until 05 June.

Ascension Day: 40th day after Easter – commemorates the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven.

Hay-on-Wye: Book Festival until 04 June.

Birthday: Alastair Campbell is 60 today.

26th FRI: Sailing: America’s Cup qualifiers, Bermuda until 03 June.

27th SAT: Ramadan: Islamic time of fasting & spiritual renewal until 25 June.

Football: FA Cup Final 2016, Wembley Stadium (and Scottish FA Cup in Hampden Park).

Rugby Union: Premiership final, Twickenham and  Pro12 Grand Final, Dublin.

Cricket – 2nd One Day Internationals – England v South Africa, Southampton.

35 years ago: Falklands War – Battle of Goose Green.

Birthday:Paul Gascoigne (footballer) is 50 today.

28th SUN: Tennis: French Open.

Formula 1: Monaco Grand Prix.

Rugby Union: England XV v Barbarians, Twickenham (Old Mutual Wealth Cup).

Football: – League Two Play-Off Final, Wembley .

Birthday: Mary Portas is 55 today.

29th MON: Late Spring Bank Holiday.

Table tennis: World Championships, Dusseldorf, Germany until 05/06.

Football: Championship Play-Off Final, Wembley.

Cricket: 3rd One Day International.  England v South Africa, Lords.

75 years ago: WW2 – Reinhard Heydrich assassinated in Prague by British trained resistance fighters.

100 years ago: John F. Kennedy  (1917-1963) born.

Birthday: Noel Gallagher (Oasis) is 50 today.

30th TUES: 75 years ago: WW2 – 1000 British bomber raid on Cologne.

31st WED: General Election: Deadline to apply for a proxy vote.

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD): to encourage abstinence from all forms of tobacco around the world.

Birthday: John Prescott is 79 today


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