The Uxbridge connection

The last time I met the sitting MP for Uxbridge was in 1988 while a politics student at nearby Brunel University. Michael Shersby, the then Parliamentary representative for our local constituency, generously hosted Brunel’s annual Government Society dinner at the House of Commons, and arranged an array of guest speakers.

One year, we were fortunate to have the Speaker, the then Bernard (later Lord) Weatherill, who came to talk about democracy and the importance of being actively involved.

On another occasion, sharing the evening with the local Conservative Association, we were slightly less impressed by Minister of Education Angela Rumbold. Possibly labouring under the misapprehension that we were the University’s Conservative Students Group, she decided to lecture us about how the Tories were ‘good for education’.

We listened politely and then gave her hell in the Q&A session that followed. My particular contribution to the debate was to ask her to square her comments with the cuts to our courses, the fact that we couldn’t any longer combine politics with modern languages studies, and remarks wrongly attributed at the time (and since retracted by The Guardian, as reported here) to her colleague Norman Tebbit that ‘no one with a conscience votes Conservative’.

This went down rather badly, the Minister clearly knowing better than a callow university student that Tebbit had never uttered the words as reported. I was listened to and then put in my place. When we came to board the coach back to Uxbridge, the blue-rinse brigade from the local Conservative Association could barely disguise their anger at my supposed cheek.

“Disgraceful behaviour, no respect, ought to be ashamed,” came comment after comment.

As students, we all found it rather amusing. And Michael Shersby, awarded an Honorary Degree by Brunel in 1994, clearly thought nothing of it, inviting us back the following year.

So cut to 2019 and a chance meeting at Zurich airport with the current Uxbridge constituency MP, none other than Boris Johnson, he of the fairly unassailable 11,000 majority and equally strong leadership ambition.

Fresh from allegedly trousering €30,000 (£26,500) to tell the Swiss Economic Forum (not the WEF, for you Davos watchers) that Britain will leave the EU on October 31, ‘with or without a deal’, a slightly untucked and dishevelled Johnson was easily spotted in the Swiss airline lounge, scoffing a large plate of chickpea salad by the food counter.

“Jolly glad of your support,” he mumbled, while agreeing to shake my hand.

Another Uxbridge MP who’s mistaken me for a fan, I thought. But I held my counsel this time.

DW results now published

The organisers have published the full results for the 2019 Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race.

Prizegiving is on Saturday 1 June at Newbury Rugby Club at 2pm. The event is preceded by a buffet lunch at 1pm. Entry is free, all competitors, their supporters and support crews are welcome.

Click here for the full results booklet.

Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race: news


The annual nonstop Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race (“DW”) concluded in London today (Easter Sunday, 21 April).

For only the second time in the race’s history, the event was won by a mixed pair, Dan Seaford and Alexandra Lane (pictured)
of Reading Canoe Club. The duo saw off intense competition from international athletes and military canoeists from numerous Army regiments and the Royal Marines to win the DW race, often described as one of the toughest endurance events in the world.

Due to issues with the event website only a partial amount of content can be displayed there. As a result, press releases are hosted here at

A full list of results from the DW Canoe Race can be found here.

If you need high resolution images of any of the competitors, please inform Guy Dresser, Head of Communications for the DW International Canoe Race.

Contact Guy on 07713 066 986 or email

News releases issued on 21 April 2019:

Hundreds finish 125 miles Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race despite scorching Easter – Press Release 21 April 2019

Mixed crew overturn the odds to win 125 mile canoe race epic – Press Release 21 April 2019

Injured military veterans defy weather to finish 125 mile canoe race epic – PRESS RELEASE 21 April

Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race PRESS PACK.

Picture credit: Peter Burbridge

Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race 2019 PRESS PACK

Below are useful documents for journalists/photographers following the 2019 Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race.

MEDIA ADVISORY. Click here to download (PDF).

BACKGROUNDER. History of the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race. Click here to download (PDF).

BACKGROUNDER. The 40 year old nonstop Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race record. Click here to download (PDF).

DW 2019 course times – where will competitors be and when? Click here to download (PDF).

PRESS RELEASE: 650 competitors set for annual Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race. Click here to download (PDF).

PRESS RELEASE: Fowey Canoe Club poised for success in annual Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race. Click here to download (PDF).

PRESS RELEASE: Injured Military Veterans take on all-comers in 125 mile Easter canoe race epic. Click here to download (PDF).

PRESS RELEASE: Team GB paddlers aim for win in Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race. Click here to download (PDF).

High resolution images are available on request. 

Samantha Martyn and Bronte Holden of Wey and Fowey Canoe Clubs

Peter Wilkes and Dan Palmer of Fowey Canoe Club

Peter Wilkes and Dan Palmer of Fowey Canoe Club

Keith Moule in front with Tom Sharpe behind

Competitors in a training race leading up to the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race 2019

Offshore, out of sight, out of order

My fifth call of the month from an offshore financial adviser. These are the people who lurk outside the highly regulated ambit of UK financial services industry legislation, in just about every place where Britons work abroad – Hong Kong, Dubai, Guernsey, Malta, most major European capitals.

What’s wrong with them? Well, how long have you got? They’re usually unqualified, mostly paid by commission so hugely incentivised to sell unsuitable, cost-loaded products. Oh, and they’re also unregulated. Or at least not registered to give financial advice – with no onshore financial regulator bothered enough about checking up on what they do. In some countries it’s worse – they’re often self-regulated. All of which amounts to much the same thing: there’s no protection available for consumers when it all goes wrong. And it does go wrong, frequently. Continue reading