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Tuesday, July 31, 2007


i am beginning to feel sorry for david cameron.
there he is trying hard to make the conservative party electable again, trying to get them to be the party of the centre ground, a small patch of the political landscape that during the blair years moved ever rightwards as he consistently marginalised the moderate tories by forcing the tory party to move ever more rightwards.
yet cameron has moderated their tone, he has made them appear compassionate and caring, under cameron they have been incredibly successful in the local elections.
yet some how it isn’t enough, the poor man must be wondering what he has to do.

bruce anderson describes it nicely thus: “they are willing to be led, in the way that henry viii was willing to be married.”

because the conservatives are behind in the polls, thanks in part to the “brown bounce” some of the more vocal tory rank and file are calling for the head of cameron.
it is that calm, clear headedness that endears them to the country. it is that steadfast loyalty that reminds us that we can trust tory promises.

graham brady describes cameron’s policies as "… not been making the same impact further away from london - in the north, in the midlands, in places which really are an absolutely key electoral battlefield if we're going to win a general election.” which does seem to fly in the face of the local election results – but why let the fact that 165 local councils are now tory controlled, a gain of 39 councils and over 900 councillors. for most people that would be evidence that cameron’s compassionate conservatism is getting converts, but to brady it is just more evidence that cameron just appeals to the metropolitan liberal elite – such as the thriving mertropoles of the cotswolds and norfolk.
(one can only assume that for people like brady the middle england of the tories are all living in the shires and hold somewhat bigoted and blinkered views. could that be why david cameron is trying to appeal to another group of people? i think it might be).

cameron instigates wide ranging policy reviews in order to sensibly develop policies that will allow him to present the conservatives as more than a party for the rich. “breakdown britian” (chaired by iain duncan smith) is hailed as a great piece of work (ok the fact the solution to every problem under the sun appears to be marriage is neither here nor there, i suspect fairly soon ids will publish a follow up claiming that regions who suffered from the floods were areas where there were too few married couples!)
the other reports are all due to be published shortly.
even so cameron is described as someone who is about smoke and mirrors, all gimmicks and no substance.
"i'm disillusioned because i think substance has been replaced by pr.
"what i'm asking for is some substance and some credibility and not box-ticking and gimmickry. “says ali miraj.
saatchi and stuart wheeler, a major tory donor, chip in with it should be about the economy, i.e. tax cuts, and being tougher on europe.
while everyone thought that under gordon brown we would get more of the same, we have all been surprised by some of the policy changes and announcements brown has made.
cameron was hoping to be in a position to relaunch the conservative party, as a party of the future, but he is being forced to fight the old internal battles once more.
proving once again it is very much new tory, old story.


at my time of life i shouldn’t be finding zits. yet i seem to have 2 on the forehead, one on the nose and one on my shoulder.
trying not to squeeze them, but the temptation is far too much.
looks like i am going to have to pay attention to the acne advert.
and here i was thinking i was too old for this kind of zit (groan……)

Monday, July 30, 2007


at last i have downloaded day 6 of 24. yay.
so now i am watching day 6 of 24, just finishing covering the episodes i had already seen. now for the new stuff! jack is great. you’ll have to trust me on that. dammit.


it is baltimore of the early 1960s and one fat girl has a dream: she wants to be a performer on the hippest daytime tv show around. not only does she achieve her goal but she also helps break down segregation on tv.
i was going to pass on seeing hairspray – most of the reviews were so so, i am so glad i went. it is a bubbly, joyous, foot-tapping treat of a film. filled with great songs, slick dancing and strong performances by everyone in it. from the opening song of “good morning baltimore” until the final number i was smiling.
while all the stars such as john travolta (in drag and in a fat suit), christopher walken, james marsden and queen latifah (who gets to sing some great songs) deliver the film is carried along by nikki blonsky as tracy trumbald. blonsky is short and fat but an infectious presence on screen and she is blessed with a great smile and a belting voice.
hairspray is her movie.
if there is one thing wrong with the film is that she is marginalised in the films closing number.
doubtful we will see much more of ms blonsky, which is a shame.

do yourself a favour go see this film. it is a treat.


fashion makes victims of us all. at some point or another we have all tried to wear something that wasn’t us but was in style at the time. most of us soon learn that we can’t carry it off and find “the look” that makes us comfortable.
while i am not a dedicated follower of fashion, after all i don’t need to be slobbishness is timeless, i understand the need for some people to fit in. so while i think low slung jeans are among the most stupid fashions going i can see why you might want to wear them in order to be at home with your posse/gang/set/crowd (or whatever the hip term is).
in my pantheon of stupid fashions is the wearing of baseball caps at jaunty angles – call me old fashion but they should be worn with the peak at the front or at the back, anything else is just plain stupid and makes most of the wearers look like window-lickers. but like i say what do i know about fashion?
i do know that there is a time to be “fashionable” and a time to just wear the item the way it was designed to be worn.
there i was the other day walking by sainburys and watching a traffic warden at work doling out tickets. he was hard at work, diligently checking each and ever car trying to discover an infraction that he could book them for: uniform equals power.
now i would like to say the chap in question looked smart in his uniform, well he did until you got to his cap. there it was in all its glory the shiny peak pushed over to the left, to make the wearer look so cool. all he did was remind me of a benny hill character.
it has to be doubtful if the trendy street youth who may have saw him thought he was the bees knees, if they paid him any attention they probably thought he looked liked a very silly traffic warden. lets be fair nothing you do to a traffic warden’s uniform is going to make you hip and trendy, once you put it on you just have to accept that for the rest of the working day you are going to look like a bloke in a uniform.
though for this one chap his ability to move the cap to a jaunty angle proved that once again fashion makes fools of us all.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


the day of reckoning fast approaches. we will soon have to say yea or nay to the move up north. while i think most of us know what our answers are going to be, there is still a feeling of denial. this will soon become a feeling of clutching at straws.
i also have the sinking feeling that whatever i choose will be the wrong choice - i am already have a sense of pregret.

so who has some winning lottery numbers they can let me have?

Thursday, July 26, 2007


the, somewhat, freakish weather we have had (and i blame those gas guzzling soccer mums in their suvs - but it is ok we know what the solution to that is: marriage (oh well it made me laugh...) may have caused major destruction for those in flood areas (and it has not done my roof much good...) it has also created some awesome cloudscapes.
i share a few with you here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


i am just bone weary tired.
i am getting old.
sleep is what i need and sleep is what i am going to get.

Monday, July 23, 2007


i like this photo. it doesn't make up for the one i missed of the aeroplane over canary wharf (which would have been fantastic), but it will do.
sometimes the view west from blackfrairs bridge can be spectacular.

just before i had taken this pic i had been to the tate modern where i was confronted with a display of amatuer boxing. lots of people enjoying the pugilistic skills in what seemed to be a very odd setting. judging by the number of wine glasses around the place the tate bar did very well.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


i was never much of a transformers fan; the toys came too late for me to get hooked on. not that i was allowed to escape them as the ex’s kid was a fan, so we had some toys, comics and books and there were times i had to do the voices (ah the joys of being a parent…)
the job i do has meant that transformers have been a constant in my working life, well not including the time i did filing for tower hamlets council.

tonight i went to see the live action transformers movie. michael bay, director, has been a bit hit and miss with his movies, on the one hand he has directed one of my favourite films, armageddon, and on the other he has directed the folly that is pearl harbour. no matter what the quality of the films you know they are going to look good.

transformers does indeed look great.

there are two types of transformers: autobots (goodies) and decepticons (baddies), their world is toast and now they are on our world. both groups are looking for the allspark, a cube that can create life.
first to strike are the decepticons who attack a usa army base in the middle east. their target is the base computer. they are searching for information. although they are prevented in their quest they destroy most of the base.
meanwhile sam witwicky gets to buy a second hand car, he gets a yellow camaro. although his first drive in the car ends up with some peculiar goings on, it does mean he gets to ride with the girl, mikaela, he has a crush on.
seeking more information the decepticons infiltrate air force and once again downloads information. we discover “project iceman”, and we find out that captain witwicky (sam’s grandfather) has something to do with all that is going on. now they have a new target: sam.
meanwhile sam gets to see his new car transform. the autobot is sending a signal into space.
the decepticon’s strike at sam and are only thwarted by the heroic efforts of his camaro, the autobot bumblebee.
form then on the plot gets thicker and thicker.
sam and mikaela meet the rest of the autobots and their leader, optimus prime. they learn why the transformers are on earth and why sam is so important, his grandfather not only found the frozen body of the decepticon leader, megatron, but his glasses also have the engraved map of the location of the allspark.
sam has the glasses.
all back to sam’s place to get the glasses. a bit of slapstick ensues as sam tries to find the glasses while trying to persuade the autobots to remain in disguise. it doesn’t work. sam’s parents get involved in what he is doing.
over at the pentagon they are trying to discover what attacked the base. all they have to go on is a signal. all attempts to decode it haven’t worked. one of the analysts decided to copy the signal and take it to a hacker friend. just as they find out about sector 7 and project iceman they are raided by the fbi.
with glasses in hand sam and mikaela are about to go to the autobots when they are apprehended by the mysterious agents of sector 7. first they are rescued by the autobots and then they are recaptured by sector 7.
now that sector 7 have them they are involved in attempting to solve what is going on. they are brought face to face not only with a frozen megatron but also the allspark. naturally the decepticons turn up and megatron is free.
sam, mikaela, bumblebee and some soldiers have to get the allspark somewhere safe while autobots and decepticons fight.
big fight.
we win.
sam and mikaela get to make out while being watched by the autobots who are going to hang around and protect the earth.
close curtains.

there is a lot to like in the movie. the special effects are top notch, the transformers look awesome and when they are in action it is spectacular. shia lebeouf gives a terrific performance as sam. the action is well done and is fast and furious.
personally i liked the fact that there were lots of helicopter scenes (i am a sucker for helicopters). i liked the fact that the soundtrack was mostly bereft of urban sounds and was mainly rock there was even a quasi-military march tune at one point (another thing that presses the right buttons with me). i also liked the idea of sector 7, but that is because all secret divisions of the government or secret societies are entertaining film fodder. there are some funny moments.

there is a lot to not like about the movie as well. it is a shouty movie with anthony andersen (normally very watchable) being one of the main culprits; he is closely followed by john turturro, in a role he will soon hope to forget.
much of the comedy in the film seems forced, especially the scene where the autobots “hide” from sam’s parents, at this point you didn’t hold out much hope for their chances against the decepticons. the humour and tension were poorly balanced and sometimes seemed to trip each other up.
the film runs just shy of two and half hours and there is sufficient padding in the movie that you wonder why they were not more vicious with the editing.
the only character in the film you care about is sam. his relationship with mikaela has little spark (megan fox being an identikit cutie) while his friendship with bumblebee is well done. because of this lack of connection with the other characters you don’t really cares who wins or loses you just want to go wow when the big stunt happens.
there are plot holes galore, but lets be fair we don’t go to see films like this to make sense – just that they get from the start to the finish while entertaining us. but if i had to choose one plot point that left me confused it would be: why didn’t the autobots just contact the relevant powers that be and alert them to what was going on.

all in all an entertaining movie, but to misquote, in the end “less than meets the eye”.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


perhaps i should preface this by a warning: do not read if you are eating or have a nervous disposition (or more importantly: if you have taste).
most of the time when you hear the word floaters it is in a tv series such as “csi wherever”, and it is when a dead body has been discovered in a river or washed up on the beach, hence “floater” (though in some cases it would have been better to say “beached” but perhaps that is a moment of too much semantics). generally the floater is a disgusting thing the water and amphibious creatures having taken a toll on the dead body.

there are times when floater is used for a much more intimate experience.

i confess i have no idea what has caused it, but recently i can’t take a dump without leaving a floater behind. just in case you have no idea what i am going on about, a floater is when you after you have done you job and flushed you are greeted with a log that has been left behind.
it bobs in the toilet bowl just mocking you: “is that the best flush you have?”
mostly a second flush gets it.
sometimes even the second flush is ineffective.
even worse is when you flush and wash and leave only to return that night to discover a floater soup in the bowl.

i don’t think i have changed my diet. i don’t think that the toilet flush is weaker, all i can think it is i am doing much bigger poohs than normal.
if i was of a david icke like persuasion i might think that there was a global conspiracy to bring down modern society by creating blockages in the system or that this recent development of large stools is to do with global warming.

for the time being i am winning the war against the floaters, but for how long?


there was a time when i had a desire to play rugby for england. for a short sweet period of time i thought i had what it took to be an international then genetics and laziness combined to ensure the best i would achieve would be a semi-regular place in the local club’s fourth team.
but i was a contender…
i have never forgotten the dream of proudly pulling on the white jersey of england, striding out at twickenham and scoring the winning try against wales (who at the time regularly beat england…)
back then rugby was am amateur game and there were was something pure about it, and nowhere was this made more evident than in the international team colours. england – white. wales – red, new zealand – black and so on. see pretty darned simple.

it might be true that the age of professionalism brought with it a vast improvement in the standard of play (though with less of the style), but what professionalism has done has brought about a new era of kit sales and kit sponsorship. for such a thing to work you need to change the kit on a regular basis.

the recently revealed english kit is truly horrid.

the swoosh is an echo of nike (the kit maker), the cross of st. george isn’t really a cross and almost looks like a stylised version of the puma brand (surely not what nike want me to think!) in short i think it is an ugly and busy shirt. in fact it could almost be a rugby league shirt.
but as bad as the white one is the red one is awful. lets ignore the fact that red is the colour of wales and pretend that this is a harkening back to the glory days of 1966. let us even forget that there is a red swoosh on a red shirt, we’ll ignore the fact that the “cross of st george” is now white after all while all these things are bad they are not awful but i have to ask what the fuck is going on with the one white sleeve? was it done as a bet?

nike has managed to produce something that is both very camp and very shit.
apparently the practical design of the top is calculated to help england, it is just a shame that the aesthetic look is bound to have opposition players just laughing themselves into a hernia. mind you if that means that england can successfully depend the world cup then it will be job done.

in the meantime the players have to don this rather camp top
one of the results of professionalism is that the making of money becomes crucially important. one way this is raised is through kit sponsorship, and one way you recoup you costs if you are a kit manufacturer is by releasing as many kits as you can. who would have thought that nike would have given the design job to a hyperactive child?

a number of fans have called for a boycotting of the kit. other fans have said it doesn’t matter what they play in as long as they improve on the games they have recently been having.
the kit will sell and nike will be happy
me? i am already missing the plain white top.

Friday, July 20, 2007


i would just like to congratulate the conservative party for their success in the two recent by-elections.
third in sedgefield.
third in southall.
new labour held both and the liberal democrats came second in both.

about the southall result cameron said, “our vote held up.” which might be a sensible approach to take – except that the conservatives went out of their way to win the seat: cameron on the ground campaigning for the local candidate, a local candidate who was put in place not because he was the best the local party had to offer, but he was a respected local businessman who joined the conservatives in order to stand. (it later transpired that his company gave money to new labour… ooops). when you go to that much effort you just have to be disappointed with third place.

about sedgefield graham robb says, “we are still in business in the north-east and as we regenerate our party, we will be back in business even more”.
while i think robb has mangled english in a way that prescott would have been proud of, i think he would have been better served with the following assessment would have been “we are still hanging on”.
robb’s complacency makes you wonder whether or not the conservatives are ready for power.

considering their success at the local elections these two by-elections have to be a major disappointment for cameron and the conservatives.
it seemed like cameron had it made blair had left a bad taste in the mouth of the electorate, while brown was just not as nice as cameron.
not only has brown managed to appear both personable and competent but he has also drawn a line under much of the blair years while outlining a new(ish) direction for the government. all of this means that there is a brown honeymoon period.
result of this?
cameron’s conservatives came third.

cheers all round.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


not quite the wizard of oz but here are some things on journies on some yellow lines. i wonder what they will ask for when they get there?

somewhere nice to sit and watch things go by.


there is a similarity between being the author (i know it is a grand word) of a blog and a newspaper columnist. in both cases the writer is trying to get an idea across to the reader, trying to inform and entertain. in both cases 99% of the authors are shit (i include myself in that 99%) and only a few are any good.

the main difference is that newspaper columnists get read by many more people and boy there are times when they can’t stop themselves but point out that they are much better than anything that appears on the internet.

nirpal dhaliwal has recently fallen into that trap with his evening standard column (july 18th edition). he makes the point that the internet was supposed to enable our species to share meaningful ideas, but most people use it to watch porn…
now nirpal can get on his high horse because he is a published author, his “bad-boy” lit book “tourism” made waves when it was published. (though it could be argued that his book was only published because of the long-term publicity he received because of the coverage his marriage to liz jones received in national newspapers).

but it is only his column in the evening standard that i am familiar with. he tries to be witty and confrontational, dishing it to the establishment from a youthful asian perspective. only problem is (like me) he is not funny and not interesting.
but that alone doesn’t single him out when the world of the columns is filled with people like mark steel, nick curtis, david mellor and many others who think that they are funnier and cleverer than they are.

but the reason nirpal gets a mention today (and i have to say that i have no sympathy for his ex, who is also a bore) is for the following “my marriage hit the rocks when my wife found text messages between me and another women”. now i am making a leap here and would guess that messages were of a rude nature.
it might be me but it seems there were already problems with the marriage long before his missus found the text messages. so it only hit the the rocks when she caught him!
though what can you expect from a bloke whose book “tourism” seems to be about someone who shags around.

i give you nirpal dhaliwal: wanker.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


ho ho ho ho ha ha ha ho ho ho ho ho ha ha hah ha bwahaa ha ha ho ho.
dabbing tears away.
metronet is in administration. there is justice in the world. let us give ken livingstone three hearty cheers for not bailing metronet out by pouring public money into a private company.
metronet was one of the many public private partnerships (ppp) that were to prove that the market is the best way to solve all problems. except that the ppps are just a way for private companies to guarantee profit without the risk. how so? because they know that the state would always underwrite the project and step in to make sure it is carried out.
that is until ken livingstone said: no!

we shall not miss metronet.
i am still laughing.
i still hate ppps, lets hope that metronet is a vision of the shape of things to come.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


and to round off this recent splurge of photos are ones i call arty (the farty is silent..) now if i were to be a serious artist i would have to speak in knowing (and glowing) terms about the meaning of the images and how, perhaps these colours and shapes reflected the conflict between the natural world and the zeitgeist of the city. luckily i am not, so i don't have to.
no dubt everyone is breathing a big old sigh of relief.

normal cynical serive will be resumed shortly.


more pics - i told you there would be more....
these are of the union jack. i love flags, not sure i have done these ones justice though.

the last one is a feeble attempt at photoshop.

Monday, July 16, 2007


this lot are almost linked by the theme of statues, almost but not quite.
still that almost link gives it a postmodern postart neoconceptualist feel, or then perhaps it doesn't.
since hearing that mr. d. hirst is about to sell a load of work from his most recent show for £130 millon i have decided that i need to talk more bollocks and pretend i have a theme to my work.
(the recent hirst was ok. the diamond encrusted skull was bland, pretty in a glittering sort of way, but nothing special. some of the stuffed and mounted animals were good, i loved the biopsy paintings but thought the paintings of the birth of his child purile. but what do i know, just say it again £130 million....)

it may be with this one that the sculptor could have left this to the imagination....


been a while since i posted some pics (i know for some of you it was not long enough!)

Sunday, July 15, 2007


will he?
won't he?
boris johnson for mayor of london? have to say i like boris johnson, he is one of the few conservative mps you can really like. one of the reasons he is so likable is that he appears to care about what he does and he seems to be his own man, never quite being on message. he doesn’t seem to have been made over to be telegenic. he comes across as a friendly buffoon whom you would love to share a meal with.
except we all know boris isn’t a buffoon.
in fact he stands a good chance of beating ken livingstone for the position of mayor of london.
boris has said he isn’t sure he can do the mayoral role because of his role as member of parliament for henley, though it is more likely he is concerned about his even more lucrative media jobs, which pull him in a lot of cash.

the conservatives must be hoping against all hope that boris decides to run as they have no one else. they have tried to get people who are not part of the party to run against ken (greg dyke and digby jones) and they have been turned down by several others (lord seb coe, nick ferrari (radio dj – who i believe withdrew because of potential loss of earnings in the run up to the election) and lord stevens the ex metropolitan police chief).

the nominees have to be in by monday 16th of july (today in fact). so unless they have a surprise waiting to be unleashed or boris decides to run it looks like ken will be mayor yet again.

i hope boris doesn’t run as i would hate to see him get beaten.

but hope is at hand for the tories. i won’t be doing anything in 2008 so i could run as their mayoral candidate. go on you know it makes sense, a vote for me is a vote for london.


well that was a weekend completely wasted. aside from reading some comics, a lot of self-love (i was king onan for a weekend…), buying some second hand paperbacks and seeing a little bit of art i did nothing.
i hate it when i do nothing at the weekend.
roll on next weekend, but first the drudgery of work…

Saturday, July 14, 2007


the conservative party have gotten themselves all excited with the publication of iain duncan smith’s “breakthrough britain”. i have yet to read it (but that has never stopped anyone commenting on anything…), but from the reports it is a substantial document.
the iain duncan smith highlights a number of reasons why there is a social breakdown in britain, and the tories see themselves as being the people who will repair britain.
the, current, main mantra of the tories is about social responsibility and that how it is the duty of the state to help us live our lives the way we choose.
but of course such social choice must include the family and marriage. the decline of marriage is one of the reasons for social breakdown and the reason why we have “feral” children roaming the streets.
one of the consequences of this is the growth of drug usage.
the unspoken accusation is that social breakdown and reliance on drugs occurs where there is a welfare benefit dependency and single mums.
(you know where i am going with this, but let me continue anyway..)

the recent tragic case of a young woman being stabbed by a drug crazed neighbour seems to be exactly what iain duncan smith is going on about except that the murderer, william jaggs, (who has been convicted of manslaughter because of diminished responsibility) was a student of harrow school, his dad a master there, he was also a student at oxford university.
the father of his victim, lucy braham, is also a master at harrow school, has described jaggs as being the perfect prey for the drug dealer and that he fitted in well “into the despicable drugs fraternity at oxford university.”

these are not parents who are stupid or ill prepared to raise children, but somehow drugs still entered the family life. jaggs is not someone who suffers from social deprivation. it appears he was let down by the establishment institutions he attended.

the daily mail
also carried another story of a well off student getting involved with drugs while at school. again demonstrating that a “good” social background and “good” family is no guarantee that your children will grow up to be good citizens.
the insistence that marriage may prevent social breakdown is rendered a little impotent when those from such a background end up off the straight and narrow.
but perhaps when it is the children of the middle classes we are only talking of a youthful phase that will pass and allow you to become the leader of the conservatives (allegedly), while if you happen to live on a sink estate and smoke a bit of weed you are a danger to society.

the more the tories change, the more it seems they stay the same.

Friday, July 13, 2007


“my own view, however, is that the real threat comes from continuing government pressure on the universities to admit students from underperforming comprehensives who gain access to our most competitive universities because of who they are rather than what they know. this must damage standards severely.”

so says chris woodhead
in answer to a question about foreign students taking up british university places. chris woodhead was the chief inspector of schools, he is now the chairman of cognita, a company that owns a number of private independent schools that champions “the values that are important to millions of parents across the country.”

looking at the quote from the sunday times one is struck by its elitism. unless things have changed drastically since i went to university (well in my case it was a polytechnic) you had to get a number of set grades in order to get into the university of your choice. hence the reason i never went to oxford university.
so if everyone is sitting the same a-level exams all that should matter is the result and not where they come from or who they are.
except we know that in some cases the who and where are important, especially when the who you are is the offspring of an old boy or if the where you come from is an independent school.

perhaps what chris woodhead is more worried about is that if working class children are getting into university from a bog standard comprehensive it becomes obvious that the need to go to a cognita school, with their lovely high termly fees, is not as necessary as originally thought.
so it is all about the money, still that is better than the other possible reading of the quote which is that pupils of comprehensives really shouldn’t be allowed to go to university: they might spoil it for the rest.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


one of the things i enjoy about my job are the occasional trips i get to make around the country. when i do travel i let the train take the strain. there is something civilised about being on a train. now i am not getting romantic about the train experience, as there is always a good chance that any journey i make is going to have a problem.
but what can i say i just like trains (and no i do not train spot).

one of the, many, things that we can probably never forgive the last conservative government for was their half arsed privatisation of british rail. one of the, many, things we can be disappointed about with the current new labour is their continuation of the privatisation policy.

one of the major arguments in favour of privatisation was the simple one that a private company could run the railway more efficiently and even profitably. this was going to happen because of the power of entrepreneurs, those skilful risk takers who know how to drive a hard bargain and see a golden opportunity. they are the giants who stride across the battlefield of capitalism.
ah the dream. how quickly it turned to a nightmare, and what a long running nightmare it has been.

it seems some new franchises have been awarded on the railways. arriva has beaten virgin trains to the cross-country line. good for them. now it might be me but one of the criteria i would have used in order to choose who should have gotten the nod to run the line would have been value for money. simple really.

how odd that arriva are now talking about raising a range of fares at a rate over inflation. still it is not like they are alone stagecoach and go-ahead are also planning on hiking up prices.
if that was not bad enough arriva will be getting a subsidy of a £1 billion over the duration of their contract. so money from the state, more money from the travellers and still they can’t provide us with a service that is good.

what a great idea we get rid a nationalised industry that was underperforming and we sell it off to thrusting capitalists who provide an underperforming service (trains late, trains over crowded, ticket prices higher…).
but don’t feel too sorry for the arrivas of the world they make a profit and for all intents and purposes they get to do all of this at no risk because they know that the state will always be there to bail them out.
truly they are the kings of capitalism.

thanks for this maggie. thanks tony for not facing up to it and re-nationalising the railways.
tories you just have to hate them.


a recent review of conrad black’s biography of nixon contained this quote about henry kissinger: that he was a master "of scraping the barrel with his obsequious memos and asides".
in a previous book i had read (a crime thriller by the very competent peter robinson) there was a little bit about how brown-nosers never succeed and that at some point they are found out.

when i read the kissinger piece it reminded me that over the years i have had the privilege to work with some of the finest brown-nosers ever. in fact there has been an almost unbroken line of them since i started.
not only do they survive, but they thrive.
i am surprised at just how well they do, and how easily people who you wouldn’t think would fall for it do.
the real classy brown-noser is also teflon, so not only do they have their tongue planted firmly up the crack of someone who is more important than they are but nothing every goes wrong for them and when it does it just slides straight off.

i doff my cap to the brown-nosers those that i have worked with and those that i am currently working with. they play the game much better than me, it is not about the work you do it is about the sucking up you do.

(sorry i know i am going over old ground here – just blame the guardian review for picking at the slowly forming scabs of bitterness…)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


she is dead. she is not coming back. it really is time to move on. but it seems we can’t. we all expect the daily express to find ludicrous reasons to feature the people’s princess. over the last several weeks we had to expect interest to flare up due to the anniversary of her death. but enough really is enough.
ignoring the “news” reports of fayed’s continuing campaign to have the windsors put on trial there should be nothing about diana in the papers. oh how i wish.
there i was reading the independent today and there is yasmin
alibhai-brown on the diana bandwagon (part of the piece has that odd journalistic tic of complaining about everyone who writes about a subject writing about it. a bit like i am doing (shit caught on my on petard).
it is the usual stuff. diana the saint, the bastard windsors, diana the loving mother, diana one of the people, the bastard windsors blah blah.
to be honest not the sort of thing i normally expect from yasmin.
especially as she is one of the people who believe that the royals had diana bumped off. which at a stretch i could believe (if only because david icke tells me it is so and he is the man. like so many icke compared diana with jfk (yup i know they both have so much in common) but icke does go onto say both are done in because of the babylonian brotherhood) but then bizarrely yasmin seems to indicate french and american involvement: “even lord stevens, last approved arbiter on the matter, agrees the hotel was infiltrated by french intelligence; us intelligence was continuously bugging diana's phone calls. why? why? why?”
as i recall stevens also said it was an accident, but we’ll skip over that. whatever reason they were bugging her phones i doubt it was because they were involved in a conspiracy to murder her.
the simple reason why there will never be a satisfactory answer isn’t because of a cover-up it is because diana has moved from being a person and has entered the world of being a brand, of being entertainment. there is too much at stake for too many people, who want to make a name or make money from diana. it is in their interests to keep the conspiracy flame burning.
it means that the genuine supporter of diana just ends up with a tawdry spectacle and an ever-diminishing legacy, while for those who profit it just means they trouser more.
so why did she have to die? so charlie could marry camilia.
oh and because (in reference to her relationship to dodi) “she even fell in love with one of ours. and that was another reason she had to die.”
phew yasmin saved it at the end….


there are several skills i admire in people i have worked with over the years.
there is the ability some of them have to remember names and faces of people they have been introduced to in a meeting and then 6 months later greet them as if they were long lost friends. there are times when i have forgotten someone’s name during the meeting i meet them.
i also admire the skill a few have had to indulge in mindless small talk with people. this isn’t to say i don’t indulge in small talk, but i can only do it with people i know. i have watched people just strike up conversations with strangers, true much of the conversation is two people puffing themselves up and trying to convince the other person how important they are, but it is still a conversation. see me at an opening or a function and i could be auditioning to replace an easter island head.
but if there is one skill i admire and wish i had: it is the blag. the art of blagging – the getting of something free just by asking for it. it is true that over the years i have received a number of freebies, but i just don’t have the barefaced cheek to ask for it. i know several people who just ask, they don’t always get what they want, but they have no problem with the refusal nor do they have a problem with having to appear needy when they ask.
yet this weekend i sort of semi-indulged in a half-hearted attempt at a blag. what happened you ask?
well first of all i have to say it was a thing of beauty the item i was after: a fing fang foom heroclix figure. yowsa! but it went wrong. instead of a “you must be joking mate” (the long form version of no) or a “we might have one back at the office we can spare you” (which roughly translates to: no). no what i got was a monologue about how the company the guy worked for was unhappy with the company i work for. so the only thing i got was a snotty bollicking on behalf of the company (and my thanks? oh yeah i am being made redundant – but i am not at all bitter….. )

i wish i could say i don’t do the blag out of pride, but i have to admit i don’t do it because i can’t stand to be thought of as greedy.
i am so shallow.
but at least i know it.

Monday, July 09, 2007


i have lots of trouble buying sensible things. ask me to buy clothes and all i can think of is going to tescos to get cheap jeans and peacocks to get new t-shirts. ask me to buy trainers and it is where is cheap that sells more than nike? household goods? what are they and even then it has been awhile since i bought anything for the flat, who needs furniture…

but books i have no trouble buying. in fact the real trouble i have is not buying books. oh look cheap books in tescos. no no no put that back you haven’t read the last 5 novels you bought, but they are cheap. oh look here i am in the eastside bookshop and there is a gorgeous book about london buildings, only £33 and here is one about the history of the east end, only £30 and look a study about family life in east london only £16… put them down now!

oh that nice chap in spitalfields market has several penguin books i can add to the collection. only £2 each, oh ok get a few.

marxism 2007 lets see what they have there. oh a book by john pilger. get it. oh that one from terry eagleton looks good. get it. mmm there is an interesting book by a hip new commentator whose name i can’t even say, oh what the hell add it to the pile. must stay on budget. ooops passed it a book ago. but there is this one and that one i need.
escape from here now, run to the tills and pay for what you have and leave.
more books in the pile to read.
(thanks go to cliff for helping that pile grow.)

flick through the weekend review section. bugger me that john gray book sounds interesting. so does the new hobsbawn one. they can go on the list of books i should check out. mmm the badly written review of conrad black’s biography on nixon has me tempted (though why i am not sure it is not like i have had that much of an interest in nixon…)

shit ali campbell’s diary comes out this week, gotta get that.
noooooooooooo stop me now.

about the only thing i buy more of than books are tins of diet coke….

my name is pat and i am addicted book buyer. please help.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


i seem to have developed a worrying new skil: the ability to make the wrong choice. it is unerring. it is scary. this weekend there were only a few things i needed to do. go to marxism 2007, go to birmingham, see some art. not much, easily doable.
but made harder when you decide for no good reason to stay up all night friday on the computer, and try to snatch a few hours sleep.
bad choice.
so the plan of saturday disappeared. no going to birmingham first thing. new plan. go see some art in the west end. some dithering saw that one go up in smoke.
i will read some of my book. i start and then fall asleep.
bad choice.
the day seems to have pretty much disappeared when i wake up, again.
a quick shower. a trip over to brick lane. a coffee.
good choice.
over to marxism 2007. have not planned it well this year so no talks, just book buying.
home. sleep, eventually.
good choice.
sunday and it is off to birmingham. my departure is delayed by me finishing off reading a graphic novel.
bad choice.
confirm that the train is not making a straight journey to birmingham international, works on the line. change at rugby and catch the coach.
jump on train just as it is leaving. it is going to birmingham new street. that’s odd i think.
ticket inspector comes round and i ask “can i take this to new street and catch a train to international?” yes he says. sorted.
pull into rugby. do i get out here and catch the coach or continue on train? stay on train.
bad choice.
get to new street. pleasant and quick journey.
no connecting trains. works on line. bastaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaards.
have to get coach from new street to international.
do the event. dull, dull, dull. the only thing i really wanted to buy was a fing fang foom heroclix figure. i couldn’t.
get ready to go. catch the coach. which way. to rugby or to new street – either way i can catch a train to london.
coach for new street arrives few people getting on. on i hop/
can you tell what it was?
bad choice.
coach gets us to new street. train is on time, and not overly packed. i get on. should be home in a few hours. joy.
train diverted.
4 hours later i am in euston.
whole day bad choice.

none of which augers well when it comes to making (oh hell i know what i am planning on doing) the choice of london and runcorn (what a fucking choice that is…)
oh well maybe i will win the lottery… except for the bad choices i make with the numbers.

Friday, July 06, 2007


some pics from a recent walkabout.
since the messed up rotator cuff i haven't taken the camera out. but have no fear pat pic fans i will be out and about with it again this weekend.
can you wait?
i know you can't.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


and lo it came to pass that pat saw die hard 4.0.
and the pat beheld die hard 4.0 and thought it good.

hell it was so good i had to see it twice. once the 6pm screening was done i scooted out got some chips. stood in the street eating them, and thought should i go see it again? for a few moments i debated the wisdom of seeing it a second time. once the chips were finished i stopped kidding myself and joined the queue to see it again.

the anticipation of die hard 4.0 has meant i have invested a lot of expectations in the film, there are times when films can’t carry that sort of weight. die hard 4.0 carries it with ease.
i wasn’t expecting it to be as good as the original die hard, after all what action film can ever match that classic? but i was hoping it would be better than die hard 3, it was (and to steal from another classic bruce movie) and then some.

so what do you get in die hard 4.0?
guns, helicopters, explosions, french baddies, quips, car chases, sexy kung fu chick, jets, car crashes, free-running, more explosions, more quips, more guns, computers, smirks.
most importantly you get a story and some good interaction between the cast.
you don’t get the smoking (bruce was the coolest smoker of ciggies in die hard and die hard 2) and the swearing is at a minimum.

this time john mcclane has to save more than building, more than an airport, more than new york. this time he is saving all of america from cyber terrorists, and let me tell you his solutions to computer crashes are much better than the ones the guy who repairs my computer ever comes up with.

i am not going to tell you anything about the film itself.
just go see. i know i will see it again.

“that’s enough of that kung fu shit…”
truly words to live by.

"yippi-kay-ay, motherfucker!”

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


this is the start of an occasional series where i celebrate a current wanker. however i am not talking about inventive self lovers but the people who just irritate and annoy and leave you thinking: “wanker!”

now i can’t speak from experience but i suspect that some of the qualities to being a sports star would include: talent (natch – just thought i would state the obvious), drive, dedication and focus. even more important than all those would be the unerring self belief in your ability and your right to be at the top. this belief sometimes tips over into something that can be called the “youniverse” where everything is about you or is for your benefit alone.

so step forward jamie murray to take the first of the “pat’s wanker awards”, but to his credit jamie is not just accepting it on behalf of himself but also for his brother, andrew. the murrays are british tennis stars, jamie lives in his brother’s shadow, and andrew is currently 8th in the world. i confess that as a failed sportsman (hell i have more failed potential behind me than most people even dream of… though is it something to brag about?) i can only admire someone who has the skill to get to be the 8th best player in his sport in the world, but any standards that is pretty awesome.
that said i find it incredibly easy to dislike the murrays, it is not their arrogance (it goes hand in hand with what they do, but the true sports icons are generally those who let their performances do the talking for them).

but why am i singling jamie out? i hear you ask.
be quiet in the back and i will tell you.
i was having a coffee in the incomparable coffee@ in brick lane after an interesting viewing of student art. i found myself scanning the guardian’s sports pages.

at this point i should make it clear that the only real interest i have in tennis is thinking about the williams sisters and martina hinges rolling around in baby oil.

anyway the headline of the piece screams, “murray
slams britain’s love of first-round losers.” he has a dig at those who have made television careers out of the fact that they were heroic first round losers at wimbledon. while i can understand what he is getting at i doubt many casual fans can name many of those who have had heroic defeats and if they have made successful careers on tv it is either because they are good at it, or that they are not as bad as everyone else who is trying it.

he goes on to say: “everything is set up for all british tennis players and, if they fail to reach their potential, it is their own fault.”
while you are nodding in agreement and thinking to yourself here is a man who speaks some sense

but then he ruins it all when he defends the fact that his brother’s coach, brad gilbert, is paid for by the lawn tennis association.
"andy is the potential wimbledon champion that the country so badly craves and brad could help him achieve that," says murray. "it seems a small price to pay, especially since andy winning wimbledon would bring thousands more kids into the game and help us find more champions.
"coaches like brad charge what seems like a lot of money for coaching tennis but, if you are the lta and he's taking your top singles player to no8 in the world, and probably much higher in years to come, then isn't he worth every penny? some people have even suggested that andy pay the money back, which i just don't agree with. andy's giving plenty back to this country by being eighth in the world."

the lta are a cash rich operation and they have the right to spend their money how they like. the irony of it all is that the lta are rich because of wimbledon, even though there has not been a british winner since the 70s, so it is not like they need a british winner to make money.
but it is the galling presumption on the part of murray that they should be getting the money by right and the grasping greed of someone who is rich not wanting to spend their money on their career.

i always have this problem with the funding of sports, and with the 2008 olympics fast approaching you can probably expect me to mouth of more about it.

i am all for aspiring athletes getting a degree of funding, but then i would also say everyone is entitled to get a state grant to study at university. yet we live in a topsy turvey world where someone who wants to run fast or play tennis expects to get money in order to help them follow their dream, but someone who wants to be a lawyer, scientist, doctor, academic has to take a loan out to pay for their education and then they have to pay it back.
why can’t the same be true of elite sportsmen.?

to get back to murray the interesting thing is that he is number 8 in the world. tennis is a sport where the prize money is pretty good. so lets scoot over to the association of tennis professionals ( atp
) site and see how murray is doing. so far this year to date he has won $544,000. while his career to date winnings are $1,450,000, (we’ll ignore income from endorsements).
so andrew murray certainly sounds like someone who should be going around with a begging bowl in order to pay his coach.

but as jamie says, andrew is giving so much back to the country by being 8th in the world.
lets look at that shall we. giving back how? because people enjoy watching him play? i am sure lots do get excited at watching him play. they will also pay to watch him play. so the enjoyment is paid for, the pleasure is bought.
he gives back because he encourages lots of others to take up the sport. i concede that point. good for andy. still not sure it is worth the cost of an expensive coach.
what makes the claim of “giving back” such trite bollocks is that murray has chosen to play tennis for his own benefit, for his own glory and his own riches. when he finally wins wimbledon i doubt very much he will be singing the praises of the lta. nor do i expect that the state of the nation will change that much because one man has covered himself in glory.
nor do i expect the mood of the nation to change drastically if he wins. i doubt if my local community will be moved to have street parties, nor do i expect that my love life will improve because he has won. at best there will be some sore heads from people who drank too much and a lot of dull conversations about tennis in workplaces around the country the next day.
importantly murray is pursuing his dream and luckily he is making lots of money at it and is also getting other people to pay part of the costs of his dream. if he never wins another tournament he has already had a great result there.

i admire someone who has managed to make their living from their dream. i just wish they wouldn’t keep expecting me to be grateful to them for their success.

for that reason jamie murray get the pat wanker award

Sunday, July 01, 2007


wednesday can't come quick enough.
for most of the united states of america it is a holiday: july 4th. independence day.
but for me it is the day die hard 4.0 opens.
already have the afternoon booked off. the plan is: into work early. get everything done in double quick time. leave, running, not looking back. catch the 25 bus. urge it forward with my mighty pat power. hop off at the genesis cinema. rush across the road. get my ticket. get a magnum lolly (will leave the choice of white or black chocolate till then). sit down and wait.

die hard is back. bruce is back. talking tough, shooting witty one-liners as quick as he shoots his gun. he probably won't be smoking, but that is what the new pc world has brought about, but he will have the john mclane smirk.
all is right with the world.
am i excited? right now i am as jittery as a virgin about to have his first shag. i am so excited i could shit a rainbow.

bring it on.
i want it now.

i have to admit to a little bit of embarrassment as it was only when my japanese pen friend mentioned that the 4.0 must be because of the cyber terrorist angle that it clicked for me. oh well i never said i was the smartest cookie in the jar.

so i will watch the previous die hards, i will mouth the key lines, i will laugh at the jokes, i will be amazed at the action, i will sit back and love them just as much as i did the first time round.
the clock is ticking and wednesday afternoon is what it is building towards. then i can see it again on thursday, friday, saturday... well you get the picture.

yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker.