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Wednesday, April 30, 2008


c'mon ken.

yeah i know it is pretty incisive, but what else can i say?
for all his faults ken livingstone is not a tory - that should be enough to get everyone voting for him.
fingers crossed that boris doesn't get in.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


david cameron has “fessed” up to the fact that he has not been able to pursue the quiet politics he had promised he would do.
he believes that prime minister question time is adversarial and that commons is designed for such antics.
cameron sees himself as being robust and that if you do not take that approach “…you lose out."

of course it helps the robust performances of cameron that gordon brown is not the most gifted speaker in the world and in fact would probably appreciate a more detailed discussion of questions in prime minister questions, but that wouldn’t suit cameron.

a little like a bully cameron keeps up his one or two lines of attack “ditherer” “never answers questions”, regardless of the fact that brown and labour may have made a decision and did answer the question.

cameron is aware that the whole point of prime minister questions is not to debate the issues it is to get some soundbites.

they still remain the nasty party.


there i am on the train. i’ll get a first class supplement, why not i say to myself – it is not like i need to save the companies cash! so i plonk myself down in the quiet zone carriage. i get my book, my paper, my m&s sarnies and my coffee arranged and i get comfortable.

boy do i feel good that i managed to buy some supplies at the station as the train manager make the announcement that due to staff shortages there is no shop opening on the journey.

i sip my coffee and smile thinking “i don’t care i am sorted!”

the train rocks on. i read my book (it is a patricia cornwell book, a bit of a disappointment and i won’t be reading any more of her books). i am happy.

train manager comes round.

“can i get a first class upgrade please?”
“no that service isn’t available”
“can’t give you the upgrade…”

he walks off. i finish my coffee. pack my bags.
then wander along the train to find somewhere to sit.
through two almost empty first class carriages.

the first standard class i come to is packed, not a spare seat. same with the second one. at the end of the third one i find a space i can sit in and spread out a little bit. i go back to get some of my stuff. i make the treacherous walk along the train trying not to bump into people or fall on to them and all the time trying to maintain some cool. get to where i was sitting. pick up a couple of bags.
trudge back to the standard class.
plonk the bags down.
walk back.
other passengers thinking “what is he doing?”

back in first class i see the train manager. i have a bit of a fume on. we don’t complain enough. darn it i am going to complain.
i decide to ask him his name. he gives it and then asks why.
i tell him i am going to write a letter of complaint that he wouldn’t sort me out an upgrade.
“we don’t have the staff for the service” he says.
“how does that matter? you have the machine there you can bill me?”
“no staff for the service” he repeats his mantra.
“that’s madness, besides the rest of the train is packed”
“i never said you had to move, i just told you i can’t bill you…..”

oooooops bright red, major embarrassment, jaw dropping, blood throbbing in my ears not quite hearing the rest of what he was saying
“…shouldn’t assume….”

well my apologies were craven and profuse.

to make matters worse later on in the journey the train manager has arranged to get some free drinks out for the passengers based on the fact that the shop was closed and the train packed and warm.

what a bastard, making me feel even worse for my earlier faux pas.

to that train manager i doff my cap at you for just being good and sensible at your job and to publicly apologise for making such a tit of myself.

now i know why we don’t complain as often as we should – because sometimes we look very very silly when we do.

but i did learn a valuable lesson – no jobs for me where there is contact with the general public as i might end up having to deal with an idiot like me.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


with friends like these who needs enemies – so goes the old saying. gordon brown must really understand what it means.
for a few months gordon was the saviour. the serious politician, the change maker, the man with the vision thing. all it took was a stupid decision to tease the electorate that he was going to go to the polls and now brown and his party look to be ditherers and incapable of giving a straight forward answer.
more and more there is a real chance that cameron will actually when the next general election (london’s mayoral election will give an indication as to what will happen when the whole country goes to the polls.).

recently lord desai commented that the whole point of brown was to remind us how good blair was when he was in power.
now lord levy is on the attack. he claims that brown is a weak leader and this has lead to the squabbles that take place within the ranks of the labour party. levy says that brown was aware of the cash for honours (of course while implicating brown, levy makes it clear that he himself was against accepting loans). furthermore levy says that blair as commented that brown could not win against cameron in an election. this assertion has been denied by a blair spokesman. this alone is quite interesting. you can well believe that blair thinks that brown is a dead duck and has probably said it in passing to a few of his closest confidants and it is likely that levy was one of them, how it must please blair to see it out in the open like this.

it is all right though levy is very keen to point out that:
"firstly i'm a labour man, always will be a labour man, always have been a labour man.”
"my parents were, my family are, and i will never change my political viewpoint.
"i absolutely had total belief in tony blair, and i felt it was a privilege to help in any way i could both he and the labour party.

indeed levy wants to help so much that he is having his memoirs serialised in the mail on sunday newspaper (a paper that is notorious for the support it gives labour, that would be irony on my part), that he is publishing his memoirs at a time that is likely to cause the most embarrassment to the government

yes lord levy i can see you are labour through and through.

we can all take heart that lord levy is “saddened” by the bickering that is going on in the labour party. not that anything he says or writes while his memoirs are being discussed are likely to create any problems for the labour party.

lord levy is obviously a man of integrity and very trustworthy so his recent outburst can’t be about publicising his book – after all he is very wealthy and so doesn’t need the money.
it could be because he is still irked because brown replaced him as a middle east envoy
it is possible that lord levy wants to alert gordon brown to weaknesses in the labour party ahead of the local elections and to give labour time to restructure in order to fight the good fight in the forthcoming general election. because such a devoted labour man as himself would not want to give succour to the opposition, would they? in fact any of the pain that labour might feel in the polls because of what levy had written is worth it because it will make them stronger (and sell more of his book).
that is what it is. there it was in front of me all the time. lord levy is a caring parent of the labour movement and he is indulging in some tough love.

it is either that or he is just a spoilt tosser who doesn’t want others to play with his toys.

you decide.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


there i was skipping through the channels when i hear the authoritative tones of jeremy paxman declare: “has lap dancing become socially acceptable?”

i was dumbstruck.

i must have missed the memo that told us that lap dancing was socially unacceptable.

live and learn.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


and on this fine proud st george's day all that needs to be done is for me to just post this:

and did those feet in ancient time
walk upon england's mountains green?
and was the holy lamb of god
on england's pleasant pastures seen?

and did the countenance divine
shine forth upon our clouded hills?
and was jerusalem builded here
among these dark satanic mills?

bring me my bow of burning gold:
bring me my arrows of desire:
bring me my spear: o clouds unfold!
bring me my chariot of fire.

i will not cease from mental fight,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
till we have built jerusalem
in england's green and pleasant land.

blake's fantastic poem, set to music by hubert parry, is one of those songs that makes the hairs stand up and puffs the chest out with pride. as i type this i am listening to billy bragg version and thinking that it is a near perfect song.
it has helped get me through both my parent’s funerals.
strangely it is a hymn that has been “banned” from several of the nation’s churches because it is not devotional enough or it is nationalistic (how easy it is to confuse nationalism with patriotism), this is most notable in southwark cathedral.

where is my cross of st. george when i need it?

later on i will be doing the st. crispin’s day speech.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


the latest stage in the, seemingly, never-ending political struggle between hillary clinton and barack obama to see which of them will run as the democratic presidential candidate is being played out in pennsylvania. the fight between them has been getting rather dirty.

today hillary attempted to show she was macho enough to lead the american people. when asked what she would do if iran launched a nuclear attack on israel her reply was "if i'm the president, we will attack iran... we would be able to totally obliterate them."
whooosh rock hard there hillary.

but a sneaky attack is being planned on iran. it is an attack that is worse than a nuclear strike, worse than a biological strike, far worse than boots on sand. this attack is going to hit the iranians hard and will probably change their way of life forever.

it is looking likely that tehran is going to host a chris de burgh concert. the simpering and anodyne pop singer famous for “the lady in red” is going to sing to iranians. he will be the first western musician to play in iran since the 1979 revolution.
chris may have to tone down his act for the iranians.

what i don’t understand is that in iran you have to have a permit to perform and yet chris is getting permission to play. why? how?
obviously someone is trying to undermine the regime from the inside.
once the local population begins to hum chris de burgh songs then cultural decline is not far behind.

hillary show the iranians some mercy and nuke them now before they have to listen to “the lady in red”.


i can’t deny it i have enjoyed all 6 of the star wars movies. i still have fond memories of seeing stars wars on its opening day at the odeon leicester square with monty (and hearing for the first time the immortal utterance “brainblast”) or seeing it several times with adam at the granada cinema in harrow.
i never became a total star wars geek, but it was a close run thing. i could quote very large chunks of the film at the drop of a hat. i could (and would) discuss the metaphysical nature of the force. i was excited about the idea there were to be 9 films in the series, i devoured the film tie-in novels and worked out hidden histories from the hints in those books that never made it to the screen (ah the innocent days before video and dvd).
yet i never became a star wars geek.
comics. comics were my first love and not even a lightsaber battle was going to change that.

it was a lucky escape.

in 2001 the jedi religion was recognised on the census. some 400,000 people said they were jedi.
presumably barney jones was one of them. barney, or to give him his jedi name of jedi master jonba hehol, was making a documentary about being a jedi in his back garden. in a break of filming a man dressed in a bin bag with a darth vader helmet on jumped into the garden and attacked jedi master jonba hehol and defeated him (the dark side winning again!).
darth appeared to be under the influence of drink.
barney, jedi master jonba hehol, was not amused declaring that "this wasn't a joke. this was serious."

to be fair to barney he knows a thing or two about serious not only is he a jedi master, not only is he a hairdresser he is also the founder (along with his brother) of britain’s first jedi church.

in a radio interview today barney said of his attacker: “he is clearly demented.”

pot and kettle.

Monday, April 21, 2008


now i am on record as being a fan of the monarchy. i think they provide value for money – after all where else are you going to get a key public figure in nazi uniform (well maybe formula 1), where else are you going to have the heart warming story of a boy so besotted with his girlfriend he just drops into her parents field in his military issue helicopter?
gawd bless the royal family is what i say.

but in a case of pc gone mad the royal family are under attack from equality legislation.
back in 1701 eldest daughters were prevented from becoming the monarch if they had younger brothers.
but if vera baird, the solicitor general, has her way all this will change and women in the royal family will the same rights as their brothers – so it will be first out of the womb first on the throne (unless you marry a catholic – but that is another matter…)
as “unfair" and "a load of rubbish".
she went on to say "i have always thought that what we have to do with the royal family is integrate them as far as possible into the human race."
we all know that there is a glass ceiling for women in the economy and perhaps changing such a venerable institution as the royal family may encourage businesses around the country to give women equal pay and equal opportunities in the work place. but i doubt it.
let’s be fair we have had a queen on the throne since 1952 and still the situation for women lags behind that of men. we have even had a woman prime minister (though most of us are still trying to forget those harrowing years) but look at parliament and look at the make up of the parties. look closely and you can see some women.
even with major examples there is much resistance to giving women equality so playing around with the royal family just seems to be no more than gesture politics.
but what really makes the whole thing, to quote ms baird, “a load of rubbish” is that the royal family by its very nature is unequal, it is a hereditary institution there is no equality in it – you have to be born into. it is not about ability, it is just about being there.
the exercise would make sense if people showed respect to the royal family, but as it stands very few people care about the status of the royal family, they are just interested in their antics.
perhaps ms baird would be better off looking at parliamentary institutions first.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


it has been coming for anew months now. although there were a few twists and turns at the end i am now looking forward to some serious changes in my life in the next few months.
my notice has been accepted and sometime soon i will take my redundancy package and move on.
have to say it is a very scary thing i am doing, been doing this for 20 years and perhaps i am too old to be changing careers. i can feel some twinges of regret and fear.
the short term future is going to be interesting, i suspect it might be my brown trouser period (and if i can sell those skidders for the sort of money picasso’s demand then i will have nothing to fear).
ah well i only ever wanted to work for them for 6 months….

Saturday, April 12, 2008


this weekend sees the running of the london marathon, one of the great modern sporting events.
each year it is run i promise myself that the next year i am going to run a marathon, each year that promise gets less and less likely to ever come to pass (especially as i recently ran for a bus and then had to spend the whole of the journey panting to get my breath back….)

even though i have not been in training for the marathon i do seem to have one thing in common with many of the runners. i have chaffed nipples.
yes even though i have not run any sort of distance it seems my nipples have been rubbed raw.
how can that be?
well the sad (but true) answer seems to be that i have piled on a few pounds recently and that instead of going to my hips that have gone to the nips. yes i have developed man-boobs. i have moobs.
it seems that the reason i have chaffed nipples is to do with the jiggle jaggle of my man-boobs as i walk to and from work. this has been made worse by the recent cold weather making my nipples stick out like buttons.

sore nips.
ooooowww is all i can say.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


he shoots. he scores.

gordon brown struck gold today as it was announced that he would not be going to the opening ceremony of the olympics.
good for gordon brown.

except it appears he was never going to go to the opening ceremony, his intention all along was to go to the closing ceremony. when he had told people this back in march he had also mentioned that he was planning on meeting the dalai lama, guess which part of that press briefing made the news?

even though it is not a change of plans for brown he is now embroiled in a row as to whether or not he is boycotting the olympics. so the guardian writes: “despite the complication of other european leaders not going brown has continued to commit himself to being seen at the olympics.” which would be good other than the fact all they have said is that they will not attend the opening ceremony none of them seem to have said “there will be no official representation from us in beijing”.

you have to say who would want to be the leader of the country when there is such a rush to criticise anything that they do.
my sympathy is with gordon brown on this as no matter what he did he would have been criticised. while we have a chance to win a few gold medals gordon brown really has to work hard for his few victories.

Monday, April 07, 2008


just thought i would jump on the bandwagon and see if chucking diana’s name in the title gets me a lot of people dropping by.
so the inquest comes out and says what we all knew: car crash caused by reckless stupid people. fantastic. worth every penny.
hopefully that will be it.
oh no al fayed is still going on about it being murder. as al fayed has shown himself to be less than balanced (oh ok teetering on the edge...)
but the biscuit has to go to kelvin mackenzie (ex sun editor) while he agreed that the paparazzi were to blame (he was at pains to make sure everyone was aware that it was french and italian paparazzi who were responsible and not the good old jolly sensible british paparazzi) but he followed that with the veiled accusation that this was all because of the readership of the papers they demand to know everything about the various numerous celebs. it is our appetite for lurid details that caused this. rather than the fact that the tabloids spend a lot of time building people up only to spend a lot of time breaking them down.

will that be the end of it?
you don’t need me to answer that.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


today was the day the olympic torch came to town.
not a good day. we had snow and the london streets were wet and cold. the weather meant that the turn out along the route would be sparse, and as i went past whitechapel that seemed to be the case, only a few straggling policemen on the high street.
when i returned a little later there was a fair sized crowd. a nice buzz of anticipation.
there didn’t seem to be too much of a protest.
on come the joggers with the torch (have to say i couldn’t see the torch).
as they approached there was a mix of cheers and boos.
then a certain amount of surprise and disbelief as we all registered that the torch runners in their blue and white tracksuits were flanked by a troop of police. some dressed in yellow tops, some decked out in action man boiler suits, all of them looking pretty much shagged from having run along with the torch.
just as the procession exited the whitechapel high street to go into the mile end road it came to a stop. double backed and hopped onto a bus to continue on.
fantastic the protest for a free tibet forced the torch to continue the journey on a bus.

there is a part of me that believes that sport and politics should not mix.
i find myself in agreement with steve redgrave who argues that sport is an easy target because you don’t see the protesters outside the offices of companies or government departments who deal with china. nor do we see the protesters outside of stores who sell chinese goods.
the olympic torch is an easy target, which allows people to make their point and get maximum publicity.

where i disagree with redgrave and the like is that in the main the competitors we send to the beijing olympics will have been funded by state money so there is validity in the protest. it is our money and perhaps we should have a say in where we send our national squads.
the problem is the demonstrations against the torch are no more than feel good actions. tomorrow nothing much will have changed, other than the organisers will be accused of not planning and preparing the route much better and tightening the security.
the business of dealing with china will continue, at some point during the week some of us will buy something that is “made in china”. come the summer we will try to avoid it but somehow or another we will watch some of the games.
but right now we can feel good for making a bit of a show to embarrass china.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


i was asked the other day if i had lost my blogging mojo. sad to say i had, but i think i have come through one of my periodic lets pass on the blog phases and i am back to join the fray.
it is not that i haven’t had things to say but more to do with the work situation just grinding me down and making me a duller person than normal, more on that at a later date.

so here is a little snapshot of what i haven’t written about (don’t worry the nature of things is that these subjects are likely to pop up again allowing me to vent my spleen…)

the brothers peter and christopher hitchens have provided me with hoots a plenty recently. peter’s column in the mail on sunday always provides a laugh or two. his desire for a freer country is admirable but that has to be tempered by the fact that he really only means freedoms for some people (and they would be the white middle classes) and not everyone. it is a little like his claims for the keeping on national identity (part of the mail on sunday’s campaign to keep britannia on the 50 pence piece), it is a very specific identity that should be protected.
meanwhile christopher has obviously decided that peter’s problems stem from him being full of faith so chris has attacked faith in is most recent book “god is not great”. now i declare an interest here: i was raised a catholic and while like many catholics i am fallen i still have faith. like eve and the apple i was tempted to buy the book but a quick flick through it made me stop and consider.
did i really see that? double check. blimey, i did!
in order to score a point or two against christianity christopher has cited dan brown’s “da vinci code”. fantastic. you would have thought he would have at least quoted the book that brown stole from (sorry referenced) “holy blood, holy grail” (or perhaps christopher thought that was just cod history…..)
as for mr. hitchens book i will wait for it to be remaindered or given to me.

technology: been having trouble with my ipod, for the moment it just wants to play the almighty, acid mothers temple and bauhaus. getting a little boring.
then there were the problems i had with flickr, partly of my own making, partly thanks to their (un)help desk. but all sorted now. off you go and check out some of my pics (and, paul, i am sure that there are a few happy ones there for you…)

sport: the media went into hyperdrive about the beckham circus completely ignoring the fact that they could avoid the “circus” by talking to someone else instead, but that doesn’t sell newspapers.
dwain chambers a successful british sprinter, got caught with drugs, was banned, did his time, has come back. the powers that be have tried their best to keep dwain out of the sport, but their own rules are against them. in the end it looks like dwain will be driven out of the sport because he won’t be able to earn lots of cash on the athletic circuit. so he can be prevented from running in commercial events because he just doesn’t get invited, but a national association can be taken to court so that he can run in the national colours. makes sense to me.
dwain has now moved on to rugby league, at least for this week.
for the time being i’ll pass on the olympics, 2008 is going to be a year of sport and politics claiming that never the twain shall meet, but we know different.
so britain won a lot of gold medals in the bicycle world championships. as ever it will be a flash in the pan of the nation’s consciousness. which is a little bit surprising as several of the women riders are quite hot, they should be celebrated, raised up as superstars and then be given a custard rub down…. sorry that was me having a bit of a fantasy there.
we really don’t like celebrating winners.

politics: looks like there will be changes coming. i really wanted hillary to win (but then i was also hoping for a cat fight between her and condi, but again that is another of those personal fantasys that i shouldn’t share). now that hillary has misspoken or, more accurately, lied she looks somewhat less presidential.
the battle between her and obama has shown just how bizarre the american political process is. if i hear another american tell me how anyone can become president i will slap them silly. unless of course they add the caveat “as long as they are very very rich or know very very rich people”, and then i will believe them.
back home poor old gordon can’t buy a break. he should never have contemplated the early election, but once he started he should have followed through. he would have won. instead he gave cameron a weapon to hit him with, now gordon is a ditherer. it has stuck. now everything is his fault.
in london it looks like it boris has learnt from cameron and is running a campaign that means he stands a very very good chance of winning. ken livingstone is being attacked from all sides even the observer recently carried a piece by max hastings that basically said ken’s time is up. it also had the lovely moment where hastings pointed out that ken’s administration was corrupt even though ken himself had not benefited from it (so ken is useless on two counts – can’t keep his administration in check and he can’t make any cash out of it).
if boris wins then cameron will be a happy man as it means he will probably be the next prime minister.

there was talk about making kids take a pledge of allegiance when they graduate. it was about building a sense of community. my only real problem with this is: why just when they graduate? just once is not enough to build a sense of anything (well except in some cases like where you break a bone – then you know not to do it again). my long rumination on community will wait for another day.
can’t help but notice it has dropped off the radar.

the cbi still annoys me. their one strength is that they do have the answer to all the world’s ills: business should pay less tax and have much fewer rules and regulations. we can see how successful that is with northern rock. oh sorry that was gordon brown’s fault.

amazon still disappoints, but i still seem to spend far too much on books, cds and dvds when it so obvious i will never get around to watching or reading them all…. oh well at least i am not buying shoes.

oh and in this very brief round up of things i might have written about i just have to mention that my bowel movements have not be very regular i have gone from being constipated to pebble dashing the toilet.
ah the mojo is back.
you lucky people.