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Wednesday, January 31, 2007


i confess i have no idea why i persist in buying the evening standard, but i do. it might have something to do with the fact that i generally read it on the bog, so the spasms of anger it induces mean i have a good solid shit.
it is a right wing paper that has a few left leaning writers such as diane abbott (oh ok she has sent her kid to a private school, so not that left wing) and nick cohen (who seems to come over all lifestyle in the standard unlike his columns in the observer).
for the evening standard all that is ill in the world can be left at the feet of new labour. no more so than transport.

now i will be the first to admit that the transport system in london is not what it could be. the rot started in the thatcher era, while blair did not help with his insistence on stick with many of the tory plans when he came to power and then with his fetishistic love of private public finance.

public transport should be funded publicly, and it should be cheap for people to use. it shouldn’t be organized for profit.

for londoners one of the great advances has been the introduction of the oyster card . now i wasn’t keen on it at first, but i have come to love my oyster card. it makes travel that much easier. you can get an annual one, or you can just top it up and use it as you want. and it lasts and so it is good for the environment.

in the main they have only be usable on tubes and buses.
but the good news is that rail companies who serve london have now given in to consumer demand and are planning to install oyster readers. the various firms have accepted ken livingstone’s, the mayor of london, offer of £20 million to help install the machines. the companies will also spend millions of their own money as well.
mmm that is nice of them.
but lets look at that again.
these are companies that make whooping profits and generally do it not because they provide a good service, but because they hike up the prices to people who have no option but to use their services.
capitalism, according to smith, would through the mechanism of the hidden hand match demand with supply. for this reason it was better than a planned system. it was this sort of thinking that motivated the tories to privatize the rail in the first place.
what the rail companies seem to have been very good at is making a large profit for their shareholders, while dipping into the public purse for subsidies, and just to bang the point home the bosses of these companies will be the same people who complain about rising taxes – but are in fact taking tax payers money.
what they don’t seem to be very good at is making the trains work.
but never mind now with £20 million of londoners money they will begrudgingly bring in the oyster card readers.
naturally enough the standard hail this as a wonderful thing, not once pointing out the money grabbing antics of the rail companies (i am sure they would do though is one of the companies was polish…)

but there is more…

the standard has a
which calls for the end of the “cattle-truck” condition that commuters have to endure on their travel to work.
now can you guess where the petition is going?
can you guess what the aim of the petition is?

if you said – it is being delivered to the rail companies you would be wrong.
if you think the aim of it was to make the rail companies use some of their profit to invest in their own companies in order for them to efficiently meet demand (remember they are for profit organizations and this means they are the most efficient – it is the argument that is always used for when a public service falls into private hands, so just once you would like to see this actually work that way. go on admit it you would).

i am sure you guessed what the answers are.
the petition is going to downing street and the prime minister, tony blair. the purpose of it is to put pressure on ministers so that they will “provide more funding for rail operators, allowing them to run longer trains and more frequent services.”
even the tory shadow transport secretary chris grayling has gotten involved (you have to wonder if the man has no shame).
quite why they are turning to the government is a mystery – it might be because actually working out who is to blame in the rail operator quagmire is too hard.
now i have to do a double take here as this is the evening standard who are saying that the government and the state should get involved in the running of a for profit organization. surely that would be the return of the mad bad days of old labour?
obviously not, because what the standard and the rail operators are saying is “we want more money as we are shit. bail us out please.”
i must be missing something here.
if we are subsidizing them, but they still make a profit then there is something amiss. given businesses clarion call to be freed of government red tape you would think they would at least have the decency to put their own house in order before asking for more money.
quite why the standard is on their side is beyond me (i am sure it will be something to do with common shareholders).
while everyone is having a pop at mr. reid for the home office debacle perhaps we should cry out that the rail operators are not fit for purpose and do the sensible thing and privatise them again.
if blair needs to do one thing to restore his credibility this is it.
he won’t listen, nor will brown. so the directors of the rail companies will get richer and the service will get poorer and we will continue to have to pay taxes in order to grant them subsidies.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


i confess i am a fan of tony blair. he successfully built on the work of neil kinnock and john smith and turned labour from being a perennial also ran into new labour and a powerhouse election winning party.

it all went wrong when blair gave unconditional support to george w. bush’s war on terror. this seemingly unquestioning following was done at the cost of many lives, cost of blair’s reputation and for little recognisable gain.

then blair dropped the bombshell: he wasn’t going to contest a fourth term. at that moment he became a lame duck prime minister.
from that announcement on it seems that it has all gone sour for new labour.
cash for peerages, ruth kelly and david blunkett (walking disaster zones), the continued death toll in iraq, id cards, continued questions on what is britishness (and sad to say it looks like david cameron has it pegged – but we will have to see if he is the same in power as he is opposition), the internal strife between the blair and brown camps, the prisons debate and much more.

the latest “idea” to come from the “think tanks” of new labour is x-ray machines in lampposts in order to track potential weapons carrying terrorists.
leaving aside the question of whether or not such street x-rays are possible, there are a large amount of questions of the ethics of such surveillance.
the uk is the most watched country in the world; some of us can be filmed upwards of 300 times a day. the majority of the cctv cameras we are caught on are property of private companies and not controlled by the state.
the current trial of the july tube bombers show that in the main such cctv is reactive, it can help piece together what has happened it is not necessarily good at highlighting the immediate risks.
(oddly this is also one of the major arguments against the introduction of the id card – if all the card is going to do is tell you who it was after the event it is hardly the biggest deterrent in the world.)
we also know that at some point that such instruments will be offered out to private companies to build, run and maintain. all in the name in “balancing the books”, though what this really means is that the state underwrites a private company, guaranteeing their profits and protecting them from any loss – it is the third way of capitalism.

anyway it isn’t that i object to. it is the fact that the idea has even been suggested. it is one of those so blue sky out of the box thinking things that someone should have said lets not even bother to make a not of this one.
in a sense this is an example of how much new labour is floundering. it has painted itself into a corner over law and order and the issue of terrorism. rather than approach the subject in a calm and sensible fashion it dreams up headline grabbing initiatives that might sound good around the table but in the cold light of day are obviously the thing of desperation.

part of the trouble comes from the fact that new labour is approaching 10 years in power, with blair as the uncontested leader for all that time.
i don’t advocate the american situation where the president can only serve two terms, as that means there is a big chance that the president will be treading water, as they become a lame duck.
what strikes me as being a sensible option would be that the leader of the party has to face regular elections within the party. this means that they have to pay attention to the members of the party, they know that they will be accountable for their actions or lack of actions and more importantly it means that they do not become complacent and start behaving as is they are untouchable.

blair needs to go soon. gordon brown needs to be his own man.
more and more i think cameron has a good shot at becoming prime minister, and to be honest that scares me.

Monday, January 29, 2007


looks like i am heading back to new york city in february.
wooo hooo.
oh well there is the excitement over. lets start the panicing.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


i love the newspaper industry. mostly i avoid the red tops as i know they are not going to provide me with much in the way of news and in the cases of the sun, the daily mail and the daily express they are likely to have my head explode in a rage.

what were once referred to, as the broadsheets comprise of four newspapers.
the daily telegraph, still a broadsheet. very much a right of centre paper, with a libertarian streak.
the times, now a tabloid (or should that be a “compact”). right of centre, but written in such a poor style it is hard to care what it thinks.
the guardian, this has moved to a berliner format. left of centre. maturely written.
the independent, tabloid or compact (they decided on the compact description to avoid being called tabloids…). left of centre but trying very hard to be the angry young man or contrarians of papers.

it is the guardian and the independent that exercise my contempt at the moment.
both papers have published pieces in support of the arguments for their being an issue of climate change.
the indie giving over their front pages to questions of waste on the part of our consumer society. the indie spending time using the freedom of information act to see if they can find out about the carbon footprint of government ministers as they fly about the globe.

now i have to admit i err on the side of caution and will do my best to recycle, i will do my best not to leave lights on if i don’t need them. computers will be turned fully off, blah blah. i do this because it seems sensible to do it. it seems obvious to me that the weather has changed drastically in my lifetime and that the most likely reason for that is because of man’s intervention. i freely admit i probably will choose the articles that back this belief up.
but more importantly the people who seem to be spokesmen for the profligate abuse of carbon fuels and such like are people like jeremy clarkson, george w bush, dominic lawson, the possibility that i could be on the same side as those guys means i am a believer in climate change.

but lets return to the independent and the guardian.
good for them for bringing climate change to our attention. good for them for being such constant champions of the cause.
except they are hypocrites. each weekend the supplements of both papers will be wrapped in cellophane – ready to go into landfills. they can come with more sections than most people will read so more paper to be recycled (or more likely binned). during the week there will be at least one insert that slips out of the paper as you read it. the lovely glossy dell advert skidding across the road – quite way it can’t just be a page in the paper escapes me, but look now it is litter and more for the bin. lets not mention all the travel supplements.

oh i haven’t forgotten the indie’s interrogation of minister’s use of flights. it appears that they are not quite so open about their own carbon footprint. while johann hari is keen to tell us how he has flown to palestine to have a face to face with a freedom fighter. he seems to get about quite a lot in order to get a few a soundbites.
it is good that we are reminded that there are things that we can do in order to protect the environment.
but i am not sure it is beneficial that the papers end up becoming like parents in which they tell us to do as they say not do as they do.
never liked it when my parents did it, don’t like it when the papers do it.

the papers never see the irony of what they do.

Friday, January 26, 2007


this is a quick hello from the apple store on regents street.
using a widescreen display and it is funky.
i want one.
sorry i mean to say i need one.

well that is is back to watching a quick time tour of aperture 1.5

the apple store loves you.
and i love you.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


this picture was taken while i was on a ramble. because i was using the macro setting the flash kicked in and has given it an oddly painterly hue to it.

and then this is what it is like with a bit of playing around on photoshop.
now it looks like a tacky carpet your mum has bought and is proudly showing off to all the neighbours. while you cringe internally.


canary wharf as from puding mill lane dlr.
i think it is a truly beautiful building.
psychogeographers tend to disagree seeing it as a nexus of evil, or at least i remember reading that somewhere. try to find the information on the web means you have to enter the mind set of some of the psychogeographers and frankly boys and girls that is some uncharted territory i am not yet prepared to investigate.

anyway just look on with wonderment and joy in your heart at this wonderful building.
(if you are really lucky there will be a series of photos of canary wharf.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


jack is back and the clock is ticking…
in the pat’s pantheon of tv there are a few programmes that stand head and shoulders above the rest.
there are the programmes of steven bochco, there are the programmes of glen a larson, there is “game on” and there is “24”.
24 is a whirlwind, edge of your seat 45 minutes of action packed tv.
jack bauer is the man who will save the day.
jack is the rugged do or die guy we all want to be. just as happy to shoot someone in the kneecap in order to get information, as he is to confess to his girlfriend that he loves her. jack is willing to do the right thing no matter what the cost is to him or those he loves. jack knows that sometimes sacrifice is necessary.
over the course of the series jack has been to hell and back in order to protect the united states of america. all he gets in return is the chance to kill lots of bad guys, torture some lowlifes and whisper menacingly “just trust me”.

the new season has started. already it is at a fever pitch and i know that over the next 24 weeks i am just going to be thinking about the show.
it is a show that is totally engrossing and when you step back from it can be very silly. but guess what that is what makes it so special.

jack returns to the usa after nearly two years of being tortured in a chinese prison. the president and his advisors have negotiated his release (which implies that for the bulk of the time they were happy to let him have his short and curlies singed) in order to sacrifice him in order to catch the leader of a suicide bombing ring.
the situation is explained to jack.
does he say fuck off?
no on your nellie.
he says can i get cleaned up before you ship me off to get tortured some more before they kill me.
everyone tries to find the words to express their gratitude to jack. he just shrugs it off. eventually he tells one of them it is the difference between dying for nothing and dying for something. and that at least this way he is going out for a reason.
wotta man.
as he is getting tortured he discovers that everyone is barking up the wrong tree, and that his death would be meaningless. not only that it also means the bad guys get to wreak havoc. and that’s something jack can’t have.
so what does he do.
he makes like a zombie and bites a chunk out of a bad guy. escapes. warns the president and his team that their plan is wrong.
what do they do? considering jack has saved the day 5 times before this, they say shut up jack what do you know? and continue with their plan.

i tell you what jack knows. jack knows how to do the right thing. and he does it.

it is awesome tv.
and the president is right the situation is going to get worse, but we know jack is there to save the day.
jack is back, the clock is ticking and i am hooked (again).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


and here i am at 700 posts.
has taken longer than i thought it would do.

lets see if i can make it to 1000.
i know you all want me to.



from the moment the brass section starts playing the iconic theme we know we are in a familiar place. just over 30 years ago sly played a down out luck pug who was given a one in a million chance to make something of his life. he does. the first of the rocky films turns rocky balboa from underdog to everyman hero.

the latest film, cunningly called “rocky balboa”, takes up the story several years after rocky has quit the fight game, his wife has died, his son is distant from him, his best friend no longer wants to live in the past with rocky. all rocky has is his restaurant in which he entertains the clients with well-rehearsed stories of his years in the fight game.
two chance incidents conspire to get rocky back into the ring. firstly he meets a barmaid, marie, who reignites his love of life. secondly a computer simulation claims that rocky at his prime would beat the current world heavyweight, mason “the line” dixon.

to be fair the plot is not overly complex. it doesn’t need to be. this is an old fashioned film. it is a character study. it is rocky proving that he is still alive and he is still worth something to himself and to those who matter to him.
it pretty much follows the format of previous rocky movies. here is rocky in the community trying to make his life work, here is being dismissed in some form or another, here he is in the gym and then he is in the ring battling his demons and earning respect and redemption.

the fight when it comes is silly and the result is never really in doubt, but somehow it still has you on the edge of your seat as the two boxers whale into each other in way that has rarely ever been seen in a boxing match.

sylvester stallone has been a much maligned actor, true he is no sir larry but he mostly provides very watchable performances. with rocky he excels.
burt young’s misanthropic turn as paulie is priceless, he gets a few class lines and he provides the shade to rocky’s upbeat view of life.
one of the key aspects of the film is the gritty urban setting of the film, a shabby run down inner city location, that still shows its proud past and pointing towards its possible future.

this is a film that will play well to the 40 plus male viewer. this is our film; this is our clarion call that we still have it in us. as rocky says it is “not how hard you can hit, it is how hard you can be hit and still keep moving forward.”

the character of rocky is a complex one: an uneducated bruiser who has a complex worldview and a broken heart. a man who has an iron will but still has doubts about his place in the world.
at its heart it is a film about achieving your dream regardless of the obstacles in your way. when rocky stops and raises his arms aloft to accept the adulation of the crowd, you know it is also an acceptance by sly of the cheers of the fans as he, for a short time, re-establishes himself as a hollywood a-lister.

i enjoyed the film immensely.
i am not ashamed to admit there were a few moments when i teared up (of course it was in a manly way), nor am i ashamed to admit that the film reminded me that there are still things to be done, and i need to get doing them.
(no worries come tomorrow i will have forgotten that…)

Saturday, January 20, 2007


well i am having a bad day.
started with me misplacing my front door keys, a fact i only realised once i had closed the door.
but a big phew as i have a spare set at work.

got to work late - nothing new there.
some of the stuff i was looking forward to being delivered wasn’t going to arrive thanks to the wind in the north. now that was a bit of a pisser.
then had to try to rewrite some guff for a sales kit. in the end i replaced american hyperbole with english hyperbole. in the end we decided not to bother with it all…

left work early, in case the spare keys didn’t work. they did.
have a quick shit and then off to tate modern. but first i will give them a call to discover where my tate magazine is. oh lucky i did that they have my address wrong again. for years not a problem. decide to pay for my membership by annual direct debit and the first year it all goes wrong. no card sent me. so when i was last there i get them to check. oh look they have a completely different address and name for me. excellent. i get it changed. days go by. still no tate magazine. i check again and they still have the wrong address. fuck.
now it is sorted. now lets get out of here.

mmm hold on the mortis lock key on the spare ones doesn’t work.
better look for the first choice keys.
not there. or there. maybe over here? no. perhaps in the front room. no. bathroom? no. fuck, fuck. fuck.
oh well not going to the tate modern.
well i can see balboa – i know i am going to like it as i loved the original rocky and this is going to be the same.
just need to find those keys.
where are they?
nope not there either.

tick tock tick tock.
there goes the balboa start time. too late.

oh there they are. how did i miss them.
mmm if i rush i can see the return, the new sarah michelle gellar (who didn’t want to make a buffy movie in case she got type cast as a horror actress appearing in her latest horror movie…) will need to get some cash, but if i do my impression of an olympic walker i can get there in time.

no one at the cashpoint. result.
get £50 out so i can get the monthly cinema pass.
tip tap. card comes out. no money comes out. what?
try the other cashpoint. tap tip. money comes out.
but hold on i need to make sure that i am not being done for the other £50.
phone bank. usual security questions, didn’t get them wrong this time (though why the ask me what my address is twice i don’t know…)
apparently only one lot of £50 taken out. phew.
but then they want to sell me a credit card. i say no as i am in the car park of sainsburys.
well that is the return missed.

i’ll go home and watch a dvd. there is a godzilla one i just got. fuck it is the wrong region.
well that caps off the day.

Friday, January 19, 2007


so beckham is off to the states to find more fame and more fortune.
the deal that takes him there is reported to be worth £125 million over 5 years. two things about this huge sum of money – it is his on target earnings, rather than guaranteed and that in terms of american sports such as baseball, basketball and the nfl it is not that outrageous.

rather than cheer the fact that the boy done good, beckham is described as a sell out, just interested in the money and not worried about his footballing legacy.
some have said they will never build a statue to him.
i say so what.
some say he will never be remembered for his achievements in football, but only be remembered as celebrity. which when you consider he has to be one of the most decorated english footballers in recent years is a bit harsh.
but again i say so what.
bobby moore got a statue, but his wife had to sell his medals to make sure his children had a secure future.
george best has a statue but in the end was someone who pissed his life away.

so i say good luck to beckham for making sure that hs family never wants for anything.

david beckham's crime is that not only has he been successful in his chosen career but he has also made a decent fist out of being a celebrity icon.

victoria (posh spice) beckham is blamed for beckham’s fall from grace, yet even before she came on the scene he was mocked for his silly voice. while posh may not have been much of a singer she has transformed david from being a footballer and turned him into a successful brand.

throughout their relationship the media has been keen to see them fail. even when beckham was a genuine role model: a good husband, a good father and a true professional sportsman (no drugs, no rowdy nights etc). none of which makes for an interesting story.
even his remarkable reinvention and rehabilitation after the argentina incident fails to get the praise it deserve.
so when the rebecca loos story broke the media had it’s field day and they have never really stopped.

we are told beckham has gone in search of money rather than glory. which conveniently forgets he didn’t want to leave manchester united – he was pushed. he still wanted to play a role for the england squad, but he was discarded. it appears he wanted to play a role at real madrid but they wanted shot of it.
so who can blame him for walking away from it all to go somewhere he will not only be appreciated but also very well rewarded.

much of the attacks on beckham seem to grow out of the politics of envy. we don’t want to celebrate success we would much rather get behind the tim henman’s and jenson button’s of the world. there is resentment that beckham does have it all: the looks, the skills, the wife, the kids and the lifestyle.
we create them as celebrities, we expect then to act in a certain way, we want them to fail, we want to be able to say “see they are no better than we are” while all the time envying them, and living life vicariously through them.

yet for all of this david beckham comes across as a nice bloke and unlike so many in sport he has done something to give back to the sport that has made him so successful, with his footballing academies.

i hope that when he is in states plying his trade he sends a few postcards to the press and some of his fellow professionals “wishing you were here.”



so the globe is gripped with an argument about racism on big brother.
and hey who am i not to get involved.

so let me a few things clear. i have never seen big brother, when it first started i didn’t think it would be something i would be interested in. hearing my colleagues talk about it i realised that i made the right decision. no matter what endemol say big brother is cheap car crash television entertainment.
other things to make clear: racism is bad. bullying is bad.

ofcom has had 36,000 (and counting) complaints about celebrity big brother. i suppose i should cheer that so many should care, but the cynic in me sees it as more about victim culture, (but that is for another blog).

as ever people in the office have been talking about this series of big brother. yet i only found out about the racism of big brother when radio 5 lives breakfast show hosted by nicky campbell and shelagh fogerty (a superb double act) were interviewing people about the furore over the treatment being meted out to a bollywood film star.

now it is radio so all i got to hear were snippets of dialogue from the show. what shocked me was how dull the snippets were. yet i was told that they were all examples of overt racism.
cue the concerned media maven who went on about the racism, when questioned by nicky campbell he couldn’t actually point to a specifically racist comment. a quick change of tack and it was no longer about the comments, but it was in the tone and the body language.
when asked why wasn’t it racist when jade’s mother was described as “white trash” the media luvvie had to fall back on the tired it isn’t the same and whites have the power in britain.

it is about this moment when i can’t help but lose patience with all the commentators on this. if racism is bad then it is bad no matter who perpetrates it and who it is aimed at.

but surely as a left thinking individual i should be against any hint of racism, and it is true some of the women i most want to sit on my face are black (see what i did there?) the situation in big brother seems to me to be one of nasty playground style bullying, rather than racism.
as we know from big brother history no one cares about bullying, as there was not such a “groundswell” of public outcry when it was jodie marsh being bullied by the men in the house.

hold on pat you put “groundswell” in quotation marks, why? i have to admit i am a little suspicious of the sheer amount in such a quick time, so rather than it being one of concerned citizens getting involved it smacks of a concerted effort on the part of interested groups.

now we have everyone jumping on the bandwagon, everyone desperate to be seen as being an anti-racist, calling for the head of the bosses of channel 4, to condemn the ladettes of the house. so much so the big brother molehill is turned into a media mountain. true this is an easy story for all the media to run with, there are clear lines drawn and an obvious side to be on.
it is taking up time in parliament, started by keith vaz, again allowing people to spout their platitudes. all of the language highlighting how brutish certain sections of (the word white is the elephant in the room that no one wants to mention) british public, while in india protests take the form of the more civilised burning of effigies. gordon brown is in india on official business but has had to field questions about big brother. the indian government had said it will investigate the situation, so it seems that slights offered to a very well paid bollywood actress outweigh the casual racism that is offered up to indians on a regular basis in the uk. it is nice to see that the indian government is just as keen to be seen to do be doing something as the media savvy politicians are in the uk.
the media wrings it hands and complain about channel 4 making money from this racism, all the while splashing it across their headlines. opinion pieces bemoan the popularity of the show, while all the time giving it the oxygen of publicity.
carphone warehouse milked their announcement that they would be abandoning their sponsorship of the show. after all they wouldn’t want to be seen to be making money from racism, but they can string it out in order to get their name mentioned several times over several days.

racism is a malicious evil, but seeing it everywhere and accusing everyone of it at the drop of a hat devalues it. racism does need to be combated and stamped out, but it has to be seen for what it is: not something that occurs by just one section of the community and aimed at just one section of the community. if you will excuse the pun, it is not a black and white issue.

what has happened in the big brother house is bullying and for that alone the people involved should be pilloried and examples made of them.
if what has occurred over the last week or so means that there are sensible debates about racism and bullying then it will have provided at least some service.
if it means that big brother and jade are never seen again – then we can all celebrate.

sadly though the real winners of this will be the endemol bosses and shareholders who must be rubbing their hands in delight as they think of the windfall they will get from the phone calls that will decide the next eviction.
but capitalism is colour blind it just sees the money.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


the start of an infrequent series.

i was at the recent holbein exhibition at the tate britain. it was a wonderful example of how uplifting art can be (it is a shame that the turner prize, also showing, was utter pants and more interested in being clever rather than “artistic”, grim rather than uplifting, vacuous rather than engaging).

one of the lesser
holbein’s on show (a man on an unbridled white horse) carried the following: e cosi desio me mena or more commonly “and so desire carries me along”.

they are words that i wished characterised my life; currently i am a slothful lump, looking for a bit of desire.

Friday, January 12, 2007


stunned, dumbfounded, astounded, flabbergasted, gobsmacked, shocked, staggered, astonished, taken aback, surprised, shell-shocked, amazed, bewildered, dazzed, startled, flummox, nonplussed, mind fucked and so on

this week we were all told we were being given the option: relocate or redundancy (in the scheme of things not as bad as march or die! but it has made the office a place of grim dark humour).

most of us can't quite make a decsion just yet as we have not been given the full details. it is doubtful if many will make the move. so the company saves a lot of salaries but loses many years of experience.

none of us should be that surprised it happened, and for several of us we have had a good long innings.

still waiting to find out what my options are.
so expect me to be even more miserable than normal.


and this is what it is like to stand out in a crowd....

Monday, January 08, 2007


i love this image.
more luck than judgement on my part, but hey ho.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


it is an impressive building.
it is the curve - a hotel in the docklands.
it is made more impressive because of the reflections in it.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Friday, January 05, 2007


running a shop should not be hard to do right, it may be tough to make lots of money and be successful, but doing the basics of retail should not be hard.
at this point i have to say i admire all the retailers i know, if only for the fact that they have to deal with the general public on a daily basis. in the main the retailers i know seem to be able to run decent successful shops. mostly they are all small to medium independent operations.

so i have no idea that when you become a large, prominent national chain it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

i won’t go on about sainsbury, my local is a store so bad i am sure it is one of the rings of hell that dante never got round to writing about, even now he is struggling to find where they have hidden the quorn slices (oh yeah in the meat cabinet… the first place a veggie would look…)

no this is confined to hmv. hmv is one of the largest record and dvd chains in the country, famous for having lots of sales throughout the year.
the start of the year one is the biggie. amongst the perennial favourites of titles that are always on sale (godfather boxset, magnificent seven boxset, dune dvd, armageddon dvd etc etc) there are the occasional gems. (no i don’t bother to look in the cds to see what is on sale – like the dvds there are the same old same old titles and never anything that appeals).

hmv have a lovely website that allows you to see what they have on sale and plan your purchases.
i don’t want to buy from them on-line as it means i have another online account, and the temptation to check it out to buy from it would be too great. the plan is simple: check the website. decide on a few items. go to store. hunt them down. buy them. be a happy bunny.
fucking simple.

website checked. two goodies found. two goodies wanted. yes nypd blue series 3 and series for £17.99 each. bargain.
trip to store: no nypd dvds found. disappointment.
oh well come back another day.
ask a friend to check out the stratford store during her lunch break (cheers lesley). no luck.
back to hmv at the trocadero. still no sign of the dvds. i ask an assistant. oh she says we have them but they are full price and they are in the stockroom.
(now here is a pat tip for budding retailers – if you don’t display it, you can’t sell it.)
no worries i think to myself i will check out hmv at oxford circus – they are bound to have them there.
get a call (cheers paul) they are available in the croydon hmv at £24.99 each. still cheap, but £7 dearer than the website.
no i will check oxford street.

i get there. sale stuff piled so high that a 3 day eventer would have trouble getting over them. mmm not in that pile, or that pile, nor the pile over there…. fuck getting annoyed now.
oh look there they are. one copy of each boxset at £24.99 each. not what i wanted to see.

so i go and see another assistant. he gives me the story about bits and clicks versus bricks and mortar (thanks i needed that explained to me). but he could see that was holding no water with me so added in the “oh well we might get them from somewhere else and so have to pay more for them in the store than we do online”. hey i am sure it made sense to him.

just to clarify. the two nypd blue boxsets appear to be the only ones that are not priced as they are on the website, and they are from a major company.

but to be on the safe side he goes and checks. he confirms the prices.

so my simple plan lays tattered on the floor around me.

i decide to complain.
hmv’s site has a little email facility which allows you to do just that. i give it my best shot a balanced mix of sarcasm and fact. i go to send it. bugger me sideways it is too long. have to edit it. finally get it so i can send it.
it goes off.
the answer comes back: oh we are not the same company as hmv stores we trade under different terms and a different model (someone has been to business school!). the email continues it clearly states that the prices might be different between the online store and the shops.

and it is true it does indeed say that: if you go looking for it.

now my dander is up. they are perfectly right in what they say, except that although they maybe two companies they are branded to appear to be exactly the same. even more so during the sale period: same logos, some product and virtually everything at the same price (well except for what i want).

they can have their different business models, they can have their differential pricing, and they can be as many different companies as they like, but why not, for the sake of clarity make that abundantly clear on the website. other places do – oh look this is a web deal, only available if you order online. you see it often.

but not hmv.

at best i tolerated hmv because i could get the occasional treat there.
now i hate them.
now fopp will get what little money i can afford to spend.

rant over.


some pictures from around the place.

obviously the cameras are covering some very important premises....

the cockney stonehenge

this is just me being an arty farty bastard


it is confession time. for many years i have had a thing about oprah winfrey. i have liked fat oprah, i have liked thin oprah and i have liked all the oprahs in-between.
oprah is blessed with a great smile, a sensual voice; she is sexy, powerful, intelligent and phenomenally wealthy. i mean what isn’t there to like?
why have i waited so long to confess this attraction to oprah? well after the trauma she must have faced from tom cruise’s outburst i thought i would spare her the need to get organise a restraining order. (see i do care about people).

but i am not here to lech over oprah; i am here to give her a little love, a heap of praise and a ton of respect.

oprah is one of the most successful chat show hosts ever, she is a successful magazine publisher, a major philanthropist, a moving force behind getting many americans reading, an oscar nominated actress. for some she is the most influential woman in the world.

just recently she has opened the oprah winfrey leadership academy for girls in south africa. the first 152 students have been admitted it is eventually hoped to have 450 students at the school. the aim of the school is simple to teach the girls to be the best that they can be in the fields that they choose (and i confess to a wry chuckle that amongst the computer and science labs, the theatre and library, the gym and sports fields there is a beauty salon). for this to occur oprah has already spent $40 million of her own money and with more to be spent.
(it was pointed out in an interview with gavin esler on the bbc’s newsnight that her contribution to the school is equal to the aid spending of the usa for the entire african continent.)
the girls who go through the school (who have been chosen on academic ability and the fact they are poor) are expected to become the future leaders of south africa, whether at a national or a local level.
it is a noble idea and as oprah herself says it is a demonstration of what one person can do, and she pointed out if this is what she can do what can others who have more resources than her and what could institutions achieve? her call for a return to the philanthropy of the great and the good rather than a clarion call to the governments of the world is the only sour note in all of this.

when you compare this to what madonna has done, it is easy to see the wide gulf that separates the ideals and goals of some people. madonna’s adoption smacks of a publicity stunt that will benefit one boy and her career. oprah has created what has the potential to truly change the life of many.
i must add here that while i am slagging off madonna, oprah praised madonna’s act of adoption saying that it took great courage and that people who criticise should be aware of the fact that there are still many many children dying in africa.

it is at times like these that the power of celebrity is a thing of good. not just because oprah has stumped up so much money, because through her eloquent and powerful commentary on the situation more people will become aware of the problems and more people will act, on that basis alone i suppose i should cut bono some slack.

as oprah pointed out in one of her interviews about the opening of the school “to whom much is given, much is expected”. this week oprah has delivered in grand style. she deserves our praise.

all that and a fine booty, oprah what a woman!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


there is probably no one who doubts that saddam hussein deserved to be hung.
regardless of whether of not he was a pawn of the west, a useful tool that was quickly dropped only to be turned into a global bogeyman, he was still a murderous dictator who thought nothing of killing, torturing and maiming the citizens of iraq for his own benefit. he had little concern for the rights of others and was so obviously guilty of crimes against humanity that it somewhat makes a mockery of tariq ali’s argument that the trial was a mockery and rigged.

in most circumstances i am not in favour of capital punishment but saddam was one of those exceptions where i would be hard pressed to make a case for him not to go to the gallows, as i would have liked to see pinochet swing.

it is true that there are many legitimate reasons why saddam should not have hung at this moment. there were still many crimes for him to answer for which would allow for various iraqis and kurds to have closure.
additionally there are still the issue of complicity of the west in the actions of saddam. many have made the argument that saddam may have been rushed to his death to avoid the embarrassment of the west, which given that we all seem to know about it seems a little odd.

again i have to disagree with the tone of ali’s comment “but what is
conveniently forgotten is thatmost of his crimes were committed
when he was a staunch ally of those who are now occupying the country.” this seems to be saying as long as you can point to someone letting you commit crimes you do not have to pay for the crime if you get caught.

but this is a digression from what i was going to talk about.
when i heard on the radio that saddam had hung the announcer mentioned how calm, almost dignified, if a little bemused saddam appeared as he walked to the gallows.

it transpires that for saddam his dead man walking moment was not one of calm but one where he was subjected to taunting and being secretly filmed. in the end saddam was taunted, baited by the witnesses.

questions have to be asked about how and why this could have happened.
john prescott, the deputy prime minister, has described the actions that occurred as being deplorable. david cameron said it was “quite wrong”.

why do i care if someone who i was happy to see hang was treated as an animal in some bear pit?
for the simple fact that we should be better than that (and yes i am aware of the irony of saying this while endorsing the hanging).

we were shocked by the outrages of lynndie england and co at abu ghraib, not because we were surprised that such abuses of human rights could take place, we know they could and did, but it was always somewhere else. we were outraged because this time it was, if you will forgive the crude phrasing, one of our own that was doing it.

if some of the rhetoric of the war in iraq and against terrorism is to be believed then one of the key elements of it was the establishment of noble ideals. ideals that we cherish in the west and that are absent in the rest of the world. evidently this aspect, like so many others, of the war on terror has failed.
even as the liberal freedoms and safeguards we promised to iraq are not there, at home we are becoming more and more used to the occurrences of “rendition” flights and the curtailing of previously held civil liberties (not to mention the imbalance of power in terms of information and detail that must be provided to the usa, but is not reciprocated).

the scenes at saddam’s hanging made it very clear that the new iraq may not be very different from the old iraq. the reactions from the west demonstrate how difficult the situation now is. the west has created a new democracy in iraq and so cannot be seen to interfere. much of the west has to balance their disapproval of the death penalty with their support of the iraqi.
the occupying forces cannot participate in the hangs, as that would be interfering in the business of a sovereign state. instead we have the distasteful scenes that took place at saddam’s hanging.

yet the west is so obviously the paymasters of the new iraqi state that all the diplomatic phrasings that amount to more than “it is their country, it is their decision” are as mealy mouthed as a clarkson column.
the previously tenuous situation of the iraqi state has become so much worse because of the hanging; it has served not to heal but to inflame.
the west’s desire to withdraw from the situation it has created has more than likely strengthened but its ability to do so has been weakened.

there is no need to shed a tear for saddam, as in the words of margaret beckett, he has been held to account. yet i fear the time for crying has not passed as the situation in iraq and surrounding areas will get worse, while the usa will find itself stuck in the quagmire of its war on terror with no clear idea of the direction it should be going in, while trampling on the rights and freedoms of friend and foe.


says it all really.


it will come as no surprise to many of you that i don't cook.
i am a dab hand with the microwave when i can be arsed, but cook not really me.
(i have been known to do the washing up when a meal has been cooked for me, so i can be a nice polite guest.)

i am working late and i am dreaming of food as i have nothing but chocolates (and lots of them) to eat in the office.
i am contemplating which takeaway to visit.
except now i am assailed by the smells of cooking.

the office next door is being rebuilt and turned into one of those "colleges" that take a lot of money of you and provide you with a dodgy bit of paper, but helps young europeans stay in the country longer as they are "students".

but i have to say the smell is not an attractive one.
it is putting me off my chocolates (a tin of roses if you must know).
whatever it is they are making it smells like a cross between a dead tramps socks, brussel sprouts and 3 day old baby pooh. not nice.
not only has it singed my nose hairs, but my eyes are watering.

how i suffer for work.

maybe i will pass on that takeaway tonight.


i could wax lyrical about the streets of london, all the while doing it a film noir style.
but the pictures pretty much say it all.
the clouds tried to hide the moon, the rain had washed some of the sins away, the streets echoed with forbidden promises and i walked alone...


Monday, January 01, 2007


clarkson is a hero of jay’s
and he is a bit of a cunt really (no not jay, though he has his moments, no i mean clarkson is a bit of a cunt).

there i was in the wonderful coffee@ in brick lane. enjoying a lovely cup of coffee (well there is a surprise!) and i decided to flick through the pages of the sun newspaper, it is something i like to do on the odd occasion, mind you if i do it too often i feel like i have sullied my soul. well this saturday i was on for a treat there was a clarkson piece.
in this particular self-opinionated column he was lambasting the bbc executive who said he a made a comment that was likely to cause offence.
it all came about because of some complaints the beeb had received because he had with an audience member.
clarkson: would you buy a daihatsu opel?
audience member: no it’s a bit gay.
clarkson: yes it is a bit ginger beer.

now i have left out clarkson’s oh so witty deconstruction, and justification, of this exchange.
to be fair i partly agree with clarkson that po-faced pc brigade are perhaps too quick to jump to be offended at something that most will find mildly humourous.

now clarkson paints himself as an outspoken man of the people, and of course he is a bit of a right winger (he is probably still wearing black pants as a mark of respect for the passing of pinochet) so the problem i have with clarkson’s explanation in the sun was that instead of standing by what he said, his piece was an attempt to use weasel words in order to pretend he hadn’t said what people thought he said.
a sad and, very, feeble attempt to try to have it both ways.
instead of appearing clever and funny he just came across as one of those smarmy brown nose public school boys who probably spent a lot of time blaming others.

the “voices of the people”, who are of the right, have it very easy when they do opinion pieces as they can go for the lowest opinion, pick on the easiest targets and use the crudest humour. yet when they are criticised pretend that they are either being censored or they are being deliberately misunderstood.

i would have had more respect for him if he had said: yup i said it, it was a joke, people laughed, no one died, end of.
but he didn’t.
instead he was mealy mouthed about it all.
so all in all he is not all that tough talking.

but give him credit he did manage to get another homophobic reference in another piece on his sun column. in a little comment on the liberal party he dragged up the phrase “pillow-biter”.

perhaps the bbc executive was right.


2007 started early for me.
i am awake at a stupid o'clock in the morning.
radio 5 has been entertaining me.
the rain has been falling - i suppose i could make lots of allusions to washing the old away but i shan't (even though i sort of have...)
i am not a morning person, but i have to say i do love watching the sky lighten. because i am lazy i am not planning on going out to take photos, maybe tomorrow.

so here we are in the new year lots to look forward to. lots of plans and lots of projects. i have to be honest i suspect i won't do as many of them as i want to, but hey ho.

romania and bulgaria have joined the eu, no doubt jay is happy.
the age of smoking is about to be raised to 18 (well in october) me i think kids should be banned until the age of 18, that would make life that much more pleasent.

2007 sees me giving up the bus as my main means of transport as i go back to the tube. expect loads of tube stories. never fear the 25 bus will still remain an integral part of how i get to and from work.
2007 is also the year i discover the future of my job. where i work is affected by the olympics, the office we are in is to be closed as yet we have not been told where the new office is going to be. all good fun.
2007 is supposed to be the hottest year ever - joy.
2007 sees the release of die hard 4 - woooo hooooo.

2007 is here. bring it on.