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Mrs. Monk's Would-be Diary should have been written by Mrs. Monk, since she is the "Writer" in the family.
However, since she is a writer only in the conceptual sense, I have undertaken to fill these pages on her behalf
If not by her, these pages will certainly be about her, and other important matters of the day         Leslie Monk




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1 January 2014


Happy New Year

In recognising an immigrant, physical appearance counts for nothing.

Christmas Day 2013

Mrs Monk’s Phone Pic

Christmas Eve

......... is the peak of man-torture.

Both Monks, man and woman, are incapable of avoiding the rush before Christmas by doing what needs to be done well in advance.

I look upon others with envy and annoyance. The first Christmas Card received is usually from the same source; how could that person be so organised and how annoying to be reminded once a year about our organisational shortcomings.

Mrs Monk has forbidden me to buy her a present and has already purchased my gift to her and it sits beneath the tree. However, I have learnt to ignore such negotiations between us, or otherwise face bitter repercussions. Today would be the day I normally wander about town and solve this dilemma in a panic-buying way.

Mrs Monk was the first to rise this morning. Following the storm at 3 a.m. through which I slept peacefully unaware, Mrs. Monk told me as I awoke from my slumber that our tree had fallen in the back garden.

Since she asked the day before, if we were insured if the tree would fall, and this morning she spoke calmly about this calamity, I had assumed that she was teasing me.

Sadly, she was not joking and the tree had indeed fallen into the fish pond.

I was therefore obliged to become a lumberjack for the day and have been spared the final day of panic shopping.

I’m a lumberjack, and I’m OK.


Watch this space.

Merry Christmas

Britain is not broke

22 December 2013

IDS, looking like and behaving like Ebenezer with his sly lurking

Christmas 2013

17 December 2013

Lord Hanningfield has used the David Amess argument to defend his abuse of allowances and expenses exposed by the Daily Mirror.

Amess claimed that his abuses were "All Legal", and now Hanningfield claims that his “clocking-in” to the House of Lords to receive his 300 daily attendance allowance is not only "All Legal", but common practice, and in his case essential, because he has to pay his gas bill.

It would of course be less of a burden on the tax payer if they paid Hanningfield 300 per day to stay at home because the tax payer would not then have to pay his daily travelling expenses from Hanningfield to Westminster and back.

16 December 2013

It is now official.

Andrew Murray is not only a brilliant tennis player much admired on these pages, but he is now defined as BBC-popular. And not just popular, because the BBC poll has now determined that Andrew Murray has a much coveted, BBC approved, “personality”.

I have never had a problem with the man, his tennis, or with his “personality”. Why on earth would anyone want to assess his “personality” anyway?

Is it me or is this BBC event becoming ever more tacky?

Well done Andy Murray nevertheless.

Hints have been made about his book, which ought to be under the Christmas Tree by now.

Vocation or Vacation

15 December 2013

MP’s PAY, a free lunch and a subsidised bar.


10 December 2013

“Mandela freed the gaoler,” said Obama today, “and made me want to be a better man.”

You are the gaoler Mr. President Obama.

 Free Chelsea Manning.

9 December 2013

Wherever there be a an elegy, there will be a politician.

Some will have a right to be there and some will not.

The Tories have been in overdrive this week to rewrite history.

 Norman Tebbitt felt compelled to get out of his chair to defend Thatcher but when we were singing, "Free Nelson Mendela" same Tories were mute.



4 December 2013

Nicky Morgan MP Tory Economic Secretary to the Treasury has written to me and says that Geoge Osborne is about to announce tomorrow a spending spree of 375 Billion.

How unsurprising to learn that Britain is not so broke after all, or have we been sold down the river.

3 December 2013

Jeremy Hunt today repeated his assertion that NHS staffing levels are rising when they are falling.

The HSCIC provide the latest stats published in November 2013 that tell a different story.


3 December 2013

Sajid Javid MP
Conservative Financial Secretary to the Treasury has written to me and asked me to distibute lies about the fall in unemployment. This graphic does not make sense unless the reader is a complete fool, and this is an assumption that Aajid Javid MP is happy to make about the British electorate. Spot the BS.

3 December 2013


We entered the Chapman Brothers art show cautiously and found the same comedy Klansmen.

The day they laughed when these millionaires cut benefits AND corporation tax on the same day.

One Year Ago

1 December 2013 Today George Osbourne announced on Andrew Marr programme, that he will water down, if not abandon green election pledges and pay for it without raising taxes.

Unconvincing BS?

Why despicable?

28 November 2013

“Surely they should be hailed like the Stakhanovites of Stalin's Russia”

And now we have the phenomena of Zero Hours Employment to contend with. Zero Hours and Zero Employment Rights.

Two Years Ago

Dear Vince Cable

humping and dumping bad employers have the most to gain from your proposals

The Crystal Methodist

24 November 2013

Those who have greatest cause for guilt and shame
Are quickest to besmirch a neighbour's name.

If the Reverend Paul Flowers is a pantomime hypocrite, then what is Cameron?

24 November 2013   Michael Gove on Andrew Marr said that some unqualified class room teachers have had an Oxbridge education. That does not make them capable teachers of course, nor does it convince me that Gove has a grasp of the scale of the problem he is charged with solving. Just how many class room teachers have an Oxbridge education on Planet Gove?

 12 November 2013 This Francis Bacon Triptych made $142.4 M. at Christie’s,  a record for an Art Auction. The Monks had a strange encounter with Bacon in 1971.

Francis Bacon and the Monks

13 Novemberr 2013

When Mrs. Monk discussed David Amess’ Expenses  on Twitter last year, he responded somewhat lamely asserting that it was,  “All Legal , look at the rules book."

This story has attracted a lot of attention and the Evening Echo is on his case. Amess has been seen sneaking into a ladies hairdresser to avoid questioning.

Mrs Monk received some abuse on Twitter from one of his illiterate supporters, in the right wing “Politics of Envy” brigade.

Apparently the troll and Amess both think anyone who complains about MPs fiddling their expenses are simply jealous of Amess being able to fiddle his expenses.

These people are beyond redemption, and Mrs. Monk was forced to deal with the troll in the spirit and the manner of Django Unchained.


Planet Gove Academy Prefects

One Year Ago


OF THE DAY 19 November 2012

the revolution begins in your heart, ....not up your arse... saramo

Left and Right commentators just love to put down

Russell Brand’s call for “revolution” possibly because nobody likes a smart arse.

His proposed peaceful revolution seems to be no more than a call to show contempt for the political elite by not voting.

I am someone who has voted dutifully Lib Dem all my life with no prospect of being represented by the candidate of my choice, (because of the rigged non-representational voting system.)

Both Monks support the smart arse for different reasons.


This song came about after a weekend in Newcastle where Helen showed us around and we sang Bee Gee songs to amuse ourselves. We teased Helen about her Waitrose reproduction artwork for her new home. and her charming Geordie way of adding an additional syllable to some spoken words, "ear-ers" for example. Helen also had a strange theory that girls with very large ear-ers were Lesbians.

Rebekah Brooks and Helen of Troy were not on my mind when I wrote and recorded this song some time ago, and long before Rebekahgate. Rebekah Brooks has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Cuckoo Spit

This would be a new vimeo music channel where you might find the "music" created by Monks. aka “Cuckoo Spit”
Cuckoo Spit by name, cuckoo spit by nature.

 5 November 2013

Tory Southend Council has made an undertaking, (published in council minutes), that these spy cam vans shall not be used in residential streets, and has in the past apologised for spy cams parked on double yellow lines as they ply their trade selling pictures of other motorists doing the very same. Twice they have inconvenienced the Monks as set out on these pages, and found to be incompetent by the independent adjudicator. There is no penalty for incompetent Southend Council, who choose to ignore correspondence on this subject. I watched the spy cam twist its periscopic camera to face me and take my picture as I took its picture.



Rebekah Brooks wrote to Andy Coulson, "I tell you everything. I confide in you. I love you."

Rebekah Brooks wrote to David Cameron, "Let's discuss over country supper...... Professionally, we are all in this together"

David Cameron's lawyer brother is about to defend Rebekah Brooks, professionally speaking, as her lawyer, as it were.

"Does that help?", asked David Cameron.

I believe most sincerely that the judge is unrelated to, or has not shared bodily fluids with, any of them?

31 October 2013

Today began by chance watching Rupert Murdoch’s Fox TV. I noted that yet another British pundit has been employed by Murdoch to undermine ObamaCare, Daniel Hannan style. Both British Murdoch hired “pundits” would not dare speak in such a way in front of a British audience. Even UKIP would be embarrassed.


29 October 2013

Gove’s Empire

"We are going to part company"

The least informed are the most opinionated.



22 October 2013

This morning Nick Clegg seemed to go off the Liberal Democratic message by equivocating about Free Schools providing reassurances to BBC viewers about checks and balances and about the profit free motif of privatised schools.

The naivety of the man is staggering. Just how do these Academies and Free Schools find the cash to pay staggeringly high salaries to their Directors, and Head Teachers and their multiple Deputies, not all of whom are qualified or experienced as we have just had confirmed by recent events?

Privatisation is now a dirty word. Nick Clegg is not a Liberal Democratic.

22 October 2013

The Monks finally made it to the Paul Klee show at Tate Modern and this is perhaps the best show this year. Mrs Monk "took a line for a walk" as Klee famously put it, in her sketch book as we made our way about the Klees.

Room Ten and Klee Critics


21 October 2013

Fresh Porkies

On the other hand, if it is all so obviously made up, who gives a monkeys.


21 October 2013

Nick Clegg has finally found his voice on the subject of “Unqualified Teachers” and this subject has now found its way onto the front pages which is a very good thing.

However, this is not a new problem as you will know if you follow these pages.

It is not at all uncommon for a majority of teachers to be unqualified in some schools.  Academies and Free Schools may well like it that way, and for the wrong reasons.

19 October 2013

Backless Toothless and Harried

Toothless knows his stuff, and not so fresh fisherman's  yarns

19 October 2013


Tweets of the Day

“Get cremated”

tweeted Saramo


“Frack Eric Pickles”

tweeted John Prescott



7 October 2013

Feckless In Need

bankers were found short of competence in charge of pension contributions

30 September 2013

The Conservatives leadership did not like the idea of AV, for it was far too democratic. AV would have given them another “unworkable” coalition and they wanted absolute power, and continuing access to a chauffeur driven car so they may carry on in the manner, to with they have now become accustomed. 

Now the right wing vote will be split between UKIP and the Tories who have a lot in common and that will help Labour get back in at the next election.

The following page from 2011 and on this subject, is the most popular page on Shoestringonline. For some reason readers keep gong back to Colin the Goldfish. Strange but true.

3 May 2011 Goldfish AV and Amnesia Colin Firth has complained that the name, “Colin,” is the kind of name you now give a pet gold fish....................................



25 Sep 2013

Again today Grant Shapps has written to me asking for cash.

Yesterday, he was boasting about all his cash rich millionaire  Tory supporters.

Labour conference today pointed the finger at Tory dismantling of the NHS, and Energy Company profits.

Shapps panics and asks me for support? He must be desperate.

24 Sep 2013

Stifled Spin

You will have heard Ed Balls volunteer to have his spending pledges assessed by the Treasury.

21 Sep 2013

Bedroom Farce

Google “BEDROOM TAX”, and not that other name whatever it was. If you want to Google the other name, I advise to Google “BEDROOM TAX” to find out what that other name might be.

Lloyds Mark Down Sale

17 Sep 2013

Import the debt, export the profit.



Early Signs?

14 Sep 2013

George Osborne’s recurring signs of hypocrisy.

12 Sep 2013

The coalition government has “impressive successes” says Fraser Nelson. Really?

Nelson, has provided this analysis of George Osborne’s performance as chancellor. With friends like this, by George....... ?

Steve Bell on the

The Bedroom Tax

11 Sep 2013

The Bedroom Tax

The government response to the charge that The Bedroom Tax is an unfair tax on the poor, is to blame Labour for the banking crisis, yet again. They managed to find a tax cut for millionaires of course, and in spite of the Banking Crisis.

It seems obvious to me that The Bedroom Tax is a blunt instrument that will cause hardship, and I believe The Bedroom Tax is intended to cause hardship. This official from the United Nations agrees with me.

The Bedroom Tax


7 Sep 2013

First Post

This is the first post made on Shoestringonline. Coincidentally, Mrs Monk complained this morning about what she thought was the unnecessary pulling of cat's teeth to make money for commercial Veterinary Practices.

5 Sep 2013

Today Iain Duncan Smith referred to the Welfare Programme as “their programme,” referring to the civil servants he fired, and not “his programme.” Some might say “his” ideologically motivated flagship policy has been a waste of money designed to appeal to Daily Mail readers.

He said this morning that he fired the people responsible and he brought in the commercial operators, and they will not add to the cost of his pet project.

Since when do I.T. companies work for nothing?

4 Sep 2013

Two Years Ago Theresa May fired the man “responsible” for “failures” of UK Border Control.

She then took personal charge of this issue to make sure it would not happen again. It has now happened again, so who will get fired this time?

Two Years Ago

the following was written on these pages......................

16 November 2011 “How 'rogue' borders chief DID go behind minister's back as controls were 'eased 164 times”  This Daily Mail Headline, is based on a leaked draft of the in-house enquiry set up by Whiteman  into the Suspension of Clark by Whiteman. Apparently, conclusions have been made and leaked, by the in-house enquiry and by the Daily Mail before the evidence has been presented. Meanwhile Emails and minutes supporting Mr Clark, are not leaked.

How Daily Mail is that?

Theresa’s fall guys

15 November 2011 PM No”, he said without hesitation.

Who gets the blame and who gets the credit?

8 November 2011 PM  Theresa May has now said that she will not resign, but so did Liam Fox at this stage of his demise.

28 August 2013

Unqualified Teachers

"We was doing all right last year", I heard a Head of an Academy say, not so long ago.


23 August 2013

Tory Pork Pies

HM Treasury values my would-be vote for Tories at 9,665.


20 August 2013

The government has increased the maximum age of jury service from 70 to 75. Age discrimination is illegal but much ignored in employment law. Age is no measure of competence, but two BBC TV journalists were heard today speculating that old jurors might be prejudiced against younger alleged offenders. They were apparently prepared to believe in age discrimination by the old directed at the young.

Ironically these two middle aged BBC TV journalists unwittingly demonstrated a degree of age discrimination by them, directed at anyone in the age range of 70 to 75. Furthermore I would suggest that their lack of objectivity demonstrates that all news presenters would make incompetent jurors and should not be eligible, unless they have a beard..


20 August 2013

Strange kind of independence.

Theresa May has at last spoken, and confirmed her opinion belatedly, that the Police independently decided to detain David Miranda at Heathrow, but not before they consulted her, and she expressed her opinion that they should do so.

Earlier today a police spokesperson suggested that the British police “would have” acted on a “ping” on their computers provided by American Government Agencies  alerting them to detain David Miranda.

Strange kind of independence.

A shifting story.

I predict a hell of a row.

19 August 2013

The US government were consulted about the detention for nine hours by police at Heathrow on Sunday of

David Miranda.

The allegation is that this is a means of bullying a journalist in pursuit of the truth told by whistle blower Edward Snowden. The allegation is that politicians are only prepared to defend whistle blowers that they might exploit for political advantage, and none that might disgrace the so called liberal democracies.

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows police to hold someone at an airport for up to nine hours for questioning about whether they have been involved with acts of terrorism. Nobody apparently thought that David Miranda. was engaged in an act of terrorism, so we might just need to get to the bottom of this.

It has been suggested that it is very unusual for someone to be held for the full nine hours at Heathrow but then I remembered the story of Varindra when we Monks travelled to New York last year.

As follows ..........

Ten Months Ago


11 October 2012

Neo Nazis are apparently free to roam the world but what of Varindra? Theresa May should be so proud.

18 August 2013

Earnest-Lee (a blackbird)

I am happy to recommend this Flickr feed that I have followed for several years. Here you will find vintage photographs and abstract paintings, from this prolific and accomplished artist.

17 August 2013

Mrs Monk has been photographing the Serpentine Gallery Pavilions every year and that is recorded on these pages.

This year the pavilion was designed by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. His objective was to create a transparent cloud on the Serpentine Gallery lawn.

Inside the Gallery we found multiple homoerotic sex dolls looking out over Kensington Gardens, that being part of the show by Elaine  Sturtevant, who deals with Pop Art and repetitive imagery, resonating with Warhol, but intending to ask the usual question, about what ART might be.

The ultimate rhetorical question

Pictures taken today at the Serpentine.

17 August 2013

The Dent

the grumbling grandmother standing by with folded arms

13 August 2013

Dear Sajid Javid MP

Economic Secretary, HM Treasury

Thank you for your letter. I'd like to help you out ........

7 August 2013

How to be Smart

Smartphones and “heft”, a measure of suitability and not of heaviness or smartness.



29 July 2013

This story from June is still doing the rounds and remains the most read story on Shoestringonline

17 June 2013

Pick & Mix

Whistle Blowing

What is good for Jeremy Hunt, would be good for Michael Gove.

If shoestringonline is  being monitored by spy catchers, I would like to reassure Big Brother that this is a story about lying about why people were dying in NHS hospitals, and not the story about lying about why people are spying.

On your watch president Obama. I bought your tee shirt and wore it today, to play tennis. My favourite shirt was in the wash.

Hello CoOp, Tara Halifax

25 July 2013

HBOS banksters got away with more than the small time crooks that climbed up into our skylight.

It’s a Boy

22 July 2013

I have to empathise with this boy who has before him a lifetime of dealing with sycophancy, already beyond the sick bucket, particularly on the BBC News.

21 July 2013

Birdsong Ice Cream Chimes

Birdsong, yes please.

Neighbours playing their Radio One in their garden broadcasting it to the neighbourhood, no thank you.

17 July 2013

The RSPB is asking people to help wildlife in their gardens this week, as the hot weather shows no signs of cooling down.

17 July 2013

How to impress with hand writing, type faces, and other strategies. Part 1 1968


7 July 2013

Murray and Bartoli are my two favourite players on the Tennis Tour. Now both Wimbledon Champions. Both are awkward, and brilliant mavericks. Both are intelligent and amusing off court. Neither conform to stereotypical easy TV BS. 

Now they must dance at the Wimbledon Ball. Hope they go for it and start a conga.  Joy!

3 July 2013

Pick & Mix

Whistle Blowing

David Cameron claimed today in PMQs  that Labour gagged NHS Whistleblowers.  Does this mean that Mr. Cameron is going to ungag all whistleblowers including gagged teachers and other public sector workers.

That we doubt, because they Pick and Mix their Whistlebowers.

27 June 2013

Here Be Music

This day this page is born with music that we Monks play a lot to each other and rarely disagree about. Music may well be the secret of an enduring marriage, and certainly not the disorderly keeping of the toothpaste tube. Hope my thesis stands the test of time. We shall see. Watch and listen to this space. Here Be Music. Here be shit in a plastic bag.  Loudon Wainwright.

This is my pick. What follows will be Mrs Monk’s pick.




Monkfry's Selected By Others photoset Monkfry's Selected By Others photoset


These pictures were chosen, for whatever reason, by readers of these pages and not by the editor, nor the photographer, Mrs Monk.

More 2013

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3 Most Read Stories  2013

All Legal

4 December 2012

"It is all legal, look at the rules book."

19 May 2012


High street giant Currys are not honouring Extended Warranty contracts.

Hannan, the Deluded

24 November 2012 Whether or not Daniel Hannan, MEP, should be expelled from the Conservative Party.

Daily Mail

Exploits Manslaughter of Children

two arrogant ill informed naughty grammar school boys