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Tuesday, August 25, 2009


i am of an age where zits should no longer be an issue.
mostly this is the case.
currently i have two zits. very irritating they are too. each one is located in the centre of my bum cheeks. all of which makes sitting a bit of a pain. quite looking forward to squeezing them.

just thought i would share.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


the nhs is evil.
sarah palin said so.
it must be true.
she also said 'death panels' so that must be true as well.
she is american and so right wing that she is playing out of the park.
aha nothing to worry about then.

except you have the 'eccentric' (according to david cameron) daniel hannan, a conservative mep, who describes the nhs as a "60 year mistake" that he "wouldn't wish on anyone". even worse the slimy little toad made his statements on american tv, and not in front of his electorate. (i wonder why he hasn’t said it on the hustings and saved it for american tv? could it be he wouldn’t have been elected and wouldn’t be earning taxpayers money – oh you like the taxpayers money when it goes into your pocket daniel, just don’t like it going on the health of others.)

mr. hannan is likely to get a ‘stern talking to’ – crikey i bet he is shitting himself – still we owe him a vote of thanks as he has given us a glimpse of just how secure the national health service is in the hands of the conservatives: not very.

there is little to like about either mrs. palin or mr. hannan, palin edges it because she hasn’t hidden her views from the electorate. palin is quite tasty and appears on the pat top tory totty list, but that is me being terribly shallow
neither quality can be applied to daniel hannan; still we can rest easy knowing he will be given lines and made to stand in the corner.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


we live in a fame obsessed culture. the media report on the lives of the rich and famous. it could be argued that this has always been the case in the age of mass communication – we have always been interested in knowing more about the stars that entertained us. the difference now is since the advent of the internet and 24 hour news we not only want to know more we need to have more people to know about.
people will do anything in order to get their moment in the media gaze. some will take the traditional route of hard work and paying their dues to earn their fame (and then ungratefully complain about the pressure of fame). most take the easy route and appear on tv shows making spectacles of themselves, with the vague hope that they might be spotted and turned from a nobody into a somebody. a desire to live the jade dream.
then there is that even more fleeting glimpse of media stardom that is very peculiar to modern mass communication. the voracious appetite of the modern media has led to a variation on the old kiss and tell stories, a variation on the citizen journalist concept.
the other day three people were granted a different type of celebrity: infamy. the murderers of baby p have been named in the press, this now puts their lives in danger. given the nature of their heinous crime i can’t say i am too bothered. they are unlikely to ever be reformed or redeemed and no one is going to shed a tear if parole after parole is refused.
their actions mean that they will never be safe if they are ever released. in a country that, rightly, does not have the death penalty there can be no rational argument that allows them to be released from jail without protection. to do anything less is to agree to the law of the jungle and advocate vigilante justice (if the state is not prepared to execute them, then it can not be left to the public to do the deed).
luckily for me i won’t be the politician who has to deal with this question (not unless the country really does go to the dogs).
journalists have been busy digging up the dirt on the three people in question.
it is that dirt that brings us back to the kiss and tell element of fame. we have seen it with the michael jackson when friends rush forward to tell their sordid tales rather than do what friends should do: keep secrets and honour the memory (yes mark and uri i am thinking of you).
then there has been the growth of the man in the street quote. it used to be something along the lines of: “he was a nice boy”. now they are given more time and more space, their opinions given credence.
the men in the baby p murder have previous form; it appears that they were particularly nasty towards their grandmother (nothing was proven as she died before the case could come to trial). still her neighbours have been quick to jump in with their comments. they have talked about how that whenever the men visited the granny was bruised.
on the radio we heard how the granny was very nice, a friend, how they lived in a close community, a quiet community. this quickly became a commentary about the low sentences that have been handed out, how the state does not do enough to protect people and how something like this will happen again. the implication being that the public has been let down by the state and people have been murdered because of it.
yet the irony of their close and quiet community life, their regard for the granny is lost on them. as one of them said in a piece in the metro newspaper “every time they came she was bruised.”
so you managed to see these bruises but you decided to wait until journalists arrived on your doorstep before saying anything? couldn’t go to the police or call social services? doesn’t seem like you could. yet you can go on national radio and pontificate about how the state is letting people down. perhaps some of the blame can be laid at the feet of caring concerned, but ultimately, quiet communities who only care in the spotlight of the media.
yet as many in the public gaze have found there are times when it sees just the worst of things. the desire to have that moment in the spotlight, that moment to be heard sometimes ends up just reminding us that we are not always worthy of the attention we crave.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


i have been on a quest; epic is too small a word to describe it, to clear my flat. over the years i have accumulated lots, hoarded more and collected loads.
but enough is enough.
time to make a move in on the books. sort them out. move them on. should be easy, oh how i wish that was the case.

the plan is the break the books down into various categories.
keep - because i liked it.
keep - because i will read it (some day).
maybe - i might read it and i do quite like it.
give to friends - books that might appeal to friends now that i have declared them free to go (the books not the friends).
give to local charity - books i no longer want, but are not going to appeal to friends can go to the local charity shop.
give to local charity level 2 - books that i don't want, but for some odd reason i don't think are suitable for the local charity shop so they go to the book bin at sainsburys.
recycle - books which fall into the categories of "i must have been in a muddy thunderstorm when i read that one" or "i have no idea why i would have bought that in the first place and surely no one in their right mind would ever read it".

so in effect we are talking about three piles. keep, get rid of and i am just not sure.

such a simple plan. it falls down the moment i start looking at the books. the obvious ones are not the problem (though the ‘i think i will read that one next’ pile is getting very large). it is the ‘to keep or not to keep’ books that are causing the problems. i look at them and wonder will i miss this book once it has gone? the obvious answer is no as i haven’t looked at it in years, but you never know when the need will crop that i need to research drugs in sports, or how drugs create visions (no idea why i have them), maybe i might want to go back and read some of the slipstream stuff i have, i doubt it but i never know. true crime, maybe (i seem to have a large amount of such books, i have no idea what possessed me, perhaps the same demon that had me getting several crowley and magik books). perhaps i will dip into those popular science books i have, same with those current affairs titles (of course in both cases they are now woefully out of date, but that is not the point.

looking through my bookcases i can find things that interested me in the years gone by. i get all misty eyed remembering the thrill of buying those film theory books, ah if only i had read them then.

even worse is the discovery of a title that looks like it would have been really good to read at the time, but now the moment has past, or has it? (put them on the maybe pile).

scarily as quickly as i am cleaning space off the bookcases i am just filling them up with the books that have been lying around the flat in teeter tottering piles.

at least now i know i really shouldn’t be buying books until i have read a few more of the ones i have. except i have a hankering to read (well i mean attempt to read) james joyce’s ulysses and i would have sworn i had a copy of it somewhere, but seems i don’t. oh well i will read another doc savage novel – just as good.

one book i won’t be reading is liz jones’ ‘exmoor files’, see what she did there? for those of you lucky enough to have never read liz jones she is one of the many confessional columnists who populate the papers. she spends a lot of time telling people how miserable her life is, but how much better it is than the life we are leading. i confess that as part of my ‘daily mail’ addiction i do occasionally dip into the liz jones life. i never feel very good afterwards.
anyway the reason i mention this is because her book gets a review in the latest private eye. as you can imagine it is not that complimentary.
however one part made me chuckle.
“one of the problems with confessional hackery, though is that you quickly run out of material. there is only so much you can confess to, even if you are fred west.”

mmmm perhaps i should have kept those true crime books.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


let me be the first to wish you a happy christmas.
in the world of retail there are many people who have been working on their christmas purchasing strategies for months, while others will have been planning their christmas displays. for those hardy types christmas is an all year thing.
slowly but surely it is becoming an all year event for the rest of us.
recently i saw an advert for a well known chain highlighting their christmas line. the other night i was watching bid-tv, look i really don’t understand what the attraction is of the bid-tv channel is, but i am hooked. feel free to judge me. so there i was engrossed in the patter of the presenter desperately selling some piece of tat when he pipes up that this would be a fantastic item for christmas and that a christmas gift special would be airing soon.
still fortnum and mason’s take the biscuit when it comes to early christmas coverage. in fact they take the hamper.
yes those of you who were thinking of treating me to the snow queen hamper have waited too long, as this £25,000 hamper has been taken off the market. so where will i get my goosedown powder puff, my silk opera scarf, my magnum of 1990 veuve clicquot or that 4lb tin of beluga caviar? (if you were to press me on that i would hazard a guess that i could pick them all up from fortnum and mason.)
it is not just the £25k hamper that they have taken off the market, but also the downmarket £5,000 hamper. they have kept a shoddy £1,000 hamper available for the cheapskates out there.
the reason why fortnum and mason have taken these hampers off the market because in the current climate they are “probably not appropriate”.
after all with unemployment approaching three million it makes sense that fortnum and mason show a more socially aware and more caring side. i am sure the fact that they get some press coverage for this move is just a happy by-product of the move, though i am betting they are kicking themselves now as they read that the banks have no such qualms about current climate and are about to splash the cash when it comes to bonuses.
let me be clear here.
there has never been a time since the establishment of fortnum and mason (1707) that is has been ok to drop £25,000 for a christmas hamper. for a large chunk of the population that is more than they earn in a year and that is a situation that has always been the case.
true the current financial climate is not a good one, but for most of the three million who are unemployed and the millions who are existing on the breadline what is being sold in fortnum and mason is the last thing on their mind, they are more concerned about the price of bread and milk in their local supermarket.
the only people who are going to be put out by seeing a £25,000 price tag on a christmas hamper are those city whiz kids who now find themselves surplus to requirements. my heart bleeds for them. call me scrooge.

still if you have a few thousand pounds burning a hole in your pocket and you really need to get a christmas hamper there is always harrods, although they dropped their £5,000 hamper are offering to have a personal shopper go around with you to fill up the trolley for you. i am sure you will be a few (hundred) pounds lighter after that. while harvey nichols has decided to stick with their £2,500 christmas hamper.
i’ll have three please.
by the way merry christmas.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


funny thing about politics when you are in opposition it is easy to score points, in fact it is very hard not to. the joy of being part of the opposition is that you can pretty much criticise anything for any reason.
take education.
every year when the gcse results are posted the conservatives are there trumpeting on about how standards have declined and how the papers are so much easier than they were in the good old days. their can be no confidence in the results is their cry. surely though this can’t be true as most of the top grades come from public schools. do the wealthy middle and upper classes really spend all that money just to get qualifications that no one has faith in? that can’t be right.
so it must be the state sector schools whose results we cannot believe. those estate kids who go to the local comprehensive must be getting a dummies guide to exams paper each time they get to sit an exam. that must be the answer.
unless of course the real benefit of the public schools isn’t so much what you learn but who you learn it with.
so the bottom line seems to be that it is all too easy for children to pass their exams. they need to be challenged. they need to be truly tested; they have to prove themselves in the heat of the exams.
fair enough you might say.

yet when the sats (that is standard assessment tasks to you and i) results decline in english for the first time since the tests were introduced (1995) what do the conservatives say?
step forward michael gove and tell us: "we have seen a historic drop in english results, the brightest students are not being stretched, and the weakest are being failed the most. it is deeply worrying that english results are in decline."
from that you would think that the drop had been from the highest mountain and into the deepest abyss. when in fact the decline was from 81 to 80%, a big, a very big 1%, disaster.
i believe mr. gove has entered hyperbole corner.

hold on a second haven’t the tories been complaining that standards are too low, that it is all too easy.
now call me stupid (and many do) but if you are planning on making something harder you are expecting to see more people fail because if they don’t then the tests are the same as they were before.

really all this shows is that in opposition over education the tories have their cake and they have eaten it.
oh we want things to be harder to reward those that work harder.
oh no fewer have attained the standard this year it goes to prove education system is wrong.
all the conservatives are really complaining about is that too many oiks are passing too many exams. if someone from the local comprehensive is getting those results it just makes the private sector look a lot less attractive.

for all the talk about them being caring and compassionate the tories never really change. problem is this time next year they will be in power,

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


it looks like my internet problems are solved.
it looks like i am back.
it looks like i will be writing more rants.
it looks like you lot are going to be suffering my poor prose and even poorer puns.
it looks like the rain has gone and we can all see clearly now.
(have no idea where that came from.)