Monday, December 31, 2007


Thanks to The Devil's Kitchen for pointing out this particularly terrifying device.

* exits room clutching groin in imagined pain *

Never gona 4get...

The father of the 13 month old child killed by a family rottweiler has left a tribute to his dead son on their Bebo site.

“Never gona 4get ya lil man, RIP 4eva n always, miss ya so much, ur mummy sez i can ave ur iggle piggle, so gna keep him in car wi me xxxxx.”

The grandparents have said a 16 year old should not have been left in charge of the 13 month old child. The mother was soon to celebrate her 18th birthday, so must have been 16 when she gave birth, which I guess, means 16 is an acceptable age to bear children, but not necessarily an acceptable age at which to care for them.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What Happens When the Police Go on Strike?

Would the same thing happen here? The following extract is taken from Steven Pinker's book The Blank Slate and describes his experience of a police strike.

As a young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960s, I was a true believer in Bakunin's anarchism. I laughed off my parents' argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose. Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00 A.M. on October 17, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike. By 11:20 A.M. the first bank was robbed. By noon most downtown stores had closed because of looting. Within a few more hours, taxi drivers burned down the garage of a limousine service that competed with them for airport customers, a rooftop sniper killed a provincial police officer, rioters broke into several hotels and restaurants, and a doctor slew a burglar in his suburban home. By the end of the day, six banks had been robbed, a hundered shops had been looted, twelve fires had been set, forty carloads of storefront glass had been broken, and three million dollars in property damage had been inflicted, before city authorities had to call in the army and, of course, the Mounties to restore order. This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Songs in an Off-Key

I've pilfered this meme from The Girl with The Golden Mind

1. Put your music player on Shuffle
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER WHAT (this is in capital letters, so it is very serious).

1. IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY? Out of Focus - Mick Jagger


3. WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GAL? If There's a Hell Below, We're All Going to Go - Curtis Mayfield

4. HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY? Take it Back - Pink Floyd

5. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE? So Many Things - Francoise Hardy

6. WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? Let Me Light Your Fire - Jimi Hendrix

7. WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU? Rhumba de Burros - Ignatius Jones

8. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR PARENTS? Let Me Go Lover - Dean Martin

9. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN? Harder Better Faster Stronger - Daft Punk

10. WHAT IS 2+2? Did You Hear What They Said - Gil Scott-Heron

11. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND? Irish Blood, English Heart - Morrissey

12. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE? Music to Watch Space Girls Go By - Leonard Nimoy

13. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY? Don't You Feel My Leg - Maria Muldaur

14. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? Lullaby - Jake Thackray


16. WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU? Praise You - Fatboy Slim


18. WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL? Trouser Freak - The Bonzo Dog Band

19. WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST? In My Own Words - Craig Armstrong


21. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS? The Dope - The Dandy Warhols

22. WHAT SHOULD YOU POST THIS AS? It Ain't No Fun - Shirley Brown

Friday, December 07, 2007

Muffin Man, I Hate You

On days when I work in The City I take the bus from Crouch End to Finsbury Park and then the train from Finsbury Park to Moorgate. I usually travel at about 7.30 - it's busy but bearable and it's only a short journey - 15 minutes or so.

This morning I was a little later than normal so I knew it would be crowded. It was. Very. At Drayton Park, a bloke had to muscle his way on the carriage forcing us all to pack ourselves even tighter into the standing section. It was rammed. This bloke then decided he needed something out of his bag which was on the floor. To the great inconvenience of others around him he started squatting down to shuffle around in his bag and then stood up with a chocolate muffin in his hand. He then proceeded to try to eat the chocolate muffin. This train was packed. Most people were wedged in so tight they could barely lift their arms which were clamped firmly by their sides and held in place by other surrounding bodies and there was this bloke holding a chocolate chip muffin about an inch from his face and only able to eat it by crooking his head forward and nibbling off bits off it. As the train jostled and he struggled to eat his bloody chocolate chip muffin crumbs and chocolate chips fell, landing in the folds of the clothing of people around him. As the train stopped at each station there was the usual exchange of bodies and people jostling or squeezing past each other to get in and out of the carriage. More muffin detritus was distributed and spread over people's clothing. As the journey continued I could see the flecks of soggy brown dough and half melted chocolate discolouring and staining people's lightly coloured clothing.

Just how fucking hungry do you have to be to be so fucking inconsiderate that you cannot wait less than 15 fucking minutes to get to your destination, walk to your desk and eat your fucking chocolate chip muffin there, perhaps even with a nice cup of tea?

I dearly hope this gimp was a diabetic or something and therefore absolutely had to get his sugar jolt at that precise moment. I suspect he wasn't and he was simply an inconsiderate, weasily looking, good for nothing, little scrote.

Of course nobody said anything.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Armed and Extremely Dangerous

This is the feelgood song of the day. Yet again, Danny Baker surprises his listeners with another crackin' tune.....

Monday, December 03, 2007

Teh Early Years

This is in response to Slaminsky's suggestion to post embarrassing, childhood photos. I think these two shockers fit the criteria.

Crime and Punishment

I've been somewhat vexed by the whole teddy bear naming Gillian Gibbons story that's been all over the media for the last week and will, I expect, continue to be so for the rest of the week I guess. There have also been some really quite vitriolic comments made about pretty much everyone involved in the whole thing. So, I'm going to have a go at my take on the whole event so far.

To me, this appears to have been a primarily political act by the Sudanese government. Discrediting Westerners seems to be a fairly solid plank of government policy. They know it will run well with the people and shows the government to be asserting itself against the old colonial powers. This is a government that tells its people that Westerners are kidnapping Sudanese children and using them as organ donors for rich Westerners. Wrapping this anti western sentiment up as an act of blasphemy only serves to ramp up the severity of the crime perpitrated.

A lot of people have commented that the logical response of Western governments should be to remove the financial aid that Sudan is currently enjoying from the West. That'll teach 'em, say the commenters. As I understand it, the aid is not being given with the suggestion that it supports the Sudanese government or the oppressive regime that it operates. The aid is given purely for humanitarian reasons. The people being helped by what little aid that gets through are refugees of political acts by their own government. If it were not for those acts the people would not be displaced. fleeing, or starving. Sudan, if it chose to, would be capable of supporting its own people. It just chooses not to for political expediency. So, removal of aid would not hurt the government but certainly would hurt people who are already victims of their country's own oppression.

Our own Foreign Secretary has suggested this is a delicate situation that must be handled carefully to avoid offending the Sudanese religious sensibilities. Well, I guess that would wash if this was simply about an offence against Islam but it palpably is not. Treading carefully may be expedient in gaining the release but it looks horribly like appeasement to me. We should be criticising not only the politics of the act but also the fundamentalist Islam back story that is propping the whole thing up. The UK government has got the support of British muslims who have said this is a grotesque misinterpretation of their religion and the government, by failing to overtly criticise this misrepresentation only reinforces many people's view that Islam is a religion that is out of control.

Some other have commented that in the UK, we have recently introduced laws that could lead to similar prosecutions in the UK. That is so wide of the mark it beggars belief. Whilst many people, me included, are very uncomfortable about having any law that specifically suggests a crime against religion is wrong, it could never be used against someone who chose a religiously inappropriate name for a teddy bear or suggested idolatry. We should have a law, I believe, primarily against inciting violence or hatred. I don't really think any law should specifically mark out religion as being a special case. A crime is a crime. Inciting any sort of violence against another is a repellent act and there should be a law against it. Proving it might be difficult but religion does not need to be a special case and the religious lobby is powerful and sufficiently vociferous and well supported to fight its own battles, even in our own supposed secular state.

As a side issue, the UK government must be absolutely loving it as this "touching human interest story" is managing to keep some very uncomfortable stuff about our own government out of the headlines and shows our politicians favourably as they exert their diplomatic skills. Skills that have been sadly lacking of late in many other areas of the world. Lets face it, the release was always going to happen, the Sudanese government just wanted to see Westerners coming to them, cap in hand and begging for clemency.

So, Gillian Gibbons will return. I dearly hope she maintains her stance so far, that she was happy to be in Sudan doing something she wanted to do. Any reaction should be directed against the government of Sudan and not against its sadly misinformed population or desperately blighted refugees. If a proper reaction to the government of Sudan, under the auspices of the UN (please, no more military interventions) was not to happen, now that would be a real crime.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Give 'em Enough Rope......

Protesters appear to have stopped Nick Griffin (BNP Leader) and David Irvine (holocaust denier) from taking part in a debate at The Oxford Union this evening. Whilst stopping people whose views you find offensive from speaking publicly may seem a just cause, there is a flipside. Both Mr. Griffin and Mr. Irvine are so off the scale in the offensiveness or sheer ridiculousness of their opinions that I'm inclined to believe you should let them speak. Only this way are people able to see their views questioned and ultimately denounced. Muscling them out of the public eye just means that they can justifiably claim that their right to free speech is being denied. Let them speak and let their views be confronted and I'm sure, as the title of this piece suggests, they will hang themselves. That is, ultimately, the point of free speech; a principle many of the protesters outside The Oxford Union are busily practising. I can't imagine The Oxford Union would have given them an easy ride as nobody would really expect this to be the natural habitat of their typical supporter.

It's a tough one isn't it. You worry that their views, if given a platform, will become popular or accepted but that does a disservice to the intelligence of the people they are speaking to. Sure these guys do have support, but it is small, poorly organised and generally speaking, extremely bad at expressing its views without frothing at the mouth.

Let them have a go at getting their views across. They won't succeed and next time fewer people will be so vexed by their presence until ultimately, they disappear up their own you know what.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

More X-Factor "Drama"

Oh for fuck's sake, look at this bollocks.

This manipulative piece of crap television continues to do its utmost to give the pretence of being a platform to develop new talent, whilst actually being just a vehicle designed primarily to fleece a gullible public and to further the careers and bank balances of the judges and presenters.

Consider the evidence.

It's already admitted it's heavily staged with supposed spontaneous events being edited or re-enacted for more dramatic effect. Another example here.

They're heavily mired in the phone-in scandal where highly lucrative income from phone lines continues to be collected after the winner has been chosen or voting deadlines have been passed.

Some, if not all, the judges have a financial interest in the winner's future recorded output and career.

There is absolutely nothing new or original about the performers or their material. Most of them are deluded, wannabes without a scrap of talent. They perform cover versions of material that would have made their parent's generation cringe, even in its original form. Most of the audition stage of the programme seems primarily designed to humiliate the contestants. At worst it will do some of the contestants permanent psychological damage. At best it may produce a small number of third rate cruise-liner singers.

On numerous occasions the judges appear to have apparently irreconcilable disagreements which usually result in tears or one of them walking out and refusing to have anything more to do with the show. They're always back the following week after some melodramatic reconciliation where they vow to go on for the sake of the contestants or some other bollocks excuse.

And finally, the most damning piece of evidence of all. It's TOTAL SHITE.

All the above I have gathered without actually ever watching the programme.

A Few Things Football Can Learn From Rugby

The Rugby World Cup Final illustrated everything that can be good in sport, and shows football (again) how players, coaching staff and supporters should approach their game. Here are a few examples.

Be maganimous in defeat. Not a word appears to have been said by the England players or coaching staff about any injustice they might have been subject to, even when asked directly. Likewise of the South Africans. Only courteous and gentlemanly acknowledgement of their respective adversaries good performance. When the England coach was asked after the match if he thought the best team had won, he gave the perfect answer - "The best team always wins."

Accept the decision of the officials without question and move on.

Don't feign injury. After a South African player was deliberately pushed by an England player into an advertising hoarding which then meant he collided heavily with a substantial camera unit the South African saw in the body language of the English player that it was an impulsive, heat of moment incident and accepted his apology. The referee saw it the same way. No punishment, no histrionics, they all just got on with the game. If the same had happened in a game of football, the player, whether injured or not, would have stayed down and acted as dramatically as possible, probably being stretchered off the pitch for more dramatic effect.

When interviewed the supporters on both sides were, before and after the game, grateful to the hosts and courteous about the opposition. No segregation of opposing supporters in the crowd was needed - nor is it at any game of rugby.

Congratulations to South Africa. The best team won.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pies and Prejudice

Living in London, as soon as you mention in conversation you're a Northerner you'll usually get the "Eeeh ba gum it's all flat caps and whippets oop there intit...ho ho ho" so Stuart Maconie's latest book, Pies and Prejudice: In Search of the North, is a welcome response to the flat cap and whippets mob. A funny, passionate hymn to the North. Loaded with references as to why the North has so much to offer it'll probably only appeal to expat Northerner like myself because anyone who's not from the North who reads it simply won't believe it's true.

I don't have a problem with living in London, I choose to do it and I like it but ill-informed, cliched criticism grates after a while and trying to defend your position to someone who's never been there invariably ends up making you just sound like you've got a chip on your shoulder or something.

Written as part travelogue, part humourous and good-natured polemic, it made me want to go and visit the places he went to that I don't know. And being of Yorkshire /Lancashire extraction I've visited quite a few - but not all - of the places he talked about.

Good on you Stuart. I think it's a vain hope that you think that non Northerners will buy/read it unless they actually know something about the North of England but it's helped remind me of why my heart skips a beat when I hear a brass band, why at least half dozen people I went to school with over 20 years ago I still count as good friends, and why I know, that one day I will return.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This (h)as upset me today.....

I have a colleague at work. I shall call him Dave (for that is his name). He's a nice bloke, we look at each over a partition all day, every day, and if you spend that much time with someone you soon work out whether you like them or not.

Our work involves being presented with technical problems via an online system, to which we are required to write technically precise responses, which will allow the person at the other end to hopefully progress with their task, happily enlightened with the wisdom that we have imparted. All good stuff you will agree.

But as always, there's a fly in the ointment (isn't there always). Dave is from the West Midlands. This means in normal speech he has tendency to speak in a rather monotone manner and drop his aitches. I don't mind this. I love that in the UK we have so many accents and that despite the increasing amortisation of society, our accents continue to survive, evolve and invent new colloquialisms to entertain us. Some accents I like more than others but I will also accept that's just personal preference.

However, and here's the rub, Dave has unilaterally decided that the letter "h", when used at the start of words is no longer required in written speech. This means he regularly will write sentences such as "You ave to update the table as it as an index." or "Your colleague needs to apply the patch to correct is problem" or something similar. Granted, that sentence is an accurate representation of how he would speak but it is not how it should be written. Dave, to my eternal frustration, also agrees what he has written is incorrect, and even more frustratingly, he also agrees that in certain contexts, it will render what he has to say completely meaningless but he continues to do it. He just doesn't think it's that important.

I lost my rag with him today. I'm still shaking. Am I being unreasonable?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

In the News Today....

This is going to sound like a rant from Barry Beelzebub (just not as good) but so what. As far as I can tell, the news today has been dominated by two stories. The morning news - top item on BBC Breakfast - was Jose Mourinho no longer being manager at Chelsea. It's news I s'pose. It would certainly merit top billing as a sport related item but I'm not sure it should be top of the heap in the main news broadcast. Chelsea, a club with a chequered history at best, is in most people's immediate memory, best known for the psychopathic and aggressive nature of a proportion of its supporters. They have recently been better known for buying limited league and cup success through priapic but wholly unhealthy injections of dubiously gained Russian cash. Mourinho also managed to scare the bejeesus out of Alex Ferguson for a while for which he should be congratulated but recent form suggested he'd somewhat lost the plot. But it ain't real news.

The afternoon news seems to dominated by the crooked goings-on of a children' television programme and the fact that despite holding a poll of their viewers they decided to name their new on-screen cat Socks instead of Cookie. Of course we're told it's the principle of the matter, a breach of trust blah blah blah but come on, get real here. Is this really significant news? Apparently so. Doubtless some poor production assistant will get the sack as the BBC flops around trying to shut up some spittle-spouting, faux-indignant tabloid columnist.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What's in a Blog?

This blog will never amount to much. The competition is just too good. I have neither the time nor the imagination to produce something of a similar standards to the blogs I read day in and day out. I'm sure there are lots of published lists about how to blog well, but rather than look them up I thought I'd have a go at writing my own top ten list of what constitutes a good blog.

1. Write about something you know. That may simply be yourself but the ill-informed blogger will soon run out of steam trying to talk about something they are not passionate about.

2. Post regularly. At least daily seems to be the norm. This is where I fail the test. People get hooked on the minutiae of what you have to say and hang on your every post. It's a voyeuristic thing.

3. Answer all comments personally. This is a tough one - but the best bloggers always answer each and every comment. I wish I was smart enough to have an answer for everyone.

4. If you get an abusive comment, be polite or be funny in your response. Online abuse between two people can be funny for a while but it gets boring. The best bloggers defuse the abusive commenter with humour. They seems to realise answering abuse with abuse just doesn't work but a witty put-down will almost always subdue your protaganist.

5. Have an understanding of grammar, punctuation and spelling. Blogs are usually read by other bloggers or people who have an interest in reading - slovenly writing will lose you your smarter readers. The occasional mistake is acceptable, but persistent poor work will not be tolerated.

6. If you're going to write about yourself, include a good degree of self-deprecation. Nobody likes reading about what a smartarse you are.

7. Be honest. The best blogs are clearly written with complete honesty. Maybe it's a cathartic experience for the blogger. I try but I always bottle it at the last minute.

8. Link to other blogs you like and comment regularly on other people's blogs. They will appreciate it and come and visit you in return.

9. Sorry, single issue blogs about your triumph over a terminal illness just don't do it for me. You may think you have a story to tell but it will have to be exceptionally good to sustain a regular readership of people who have not had a similar experience. Writing about your illness may help you through your experience but don't expect everyone else to be interested. For the passing reader, these blogs are just too self-analytical and bleak.

10. Read and/or comment on my blog and I promise to comment on yours and link to you. All abusive comments will be answered by me personally in a civil and humourous manner.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Colin Read

Via The Devil's Kitchen I've seen this. I'm not an advocate of corporate or capital punishment but sometimes you think there just might be a case for it. If I was in favour, this despicable scrote would be high on the list.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Isn't it satisfying, that warm glow of satisfaction one gets when a large corporation makes a huge mess of something. It's a chance to get the thesaurus out and start playing with words like hubris and schadenfreude.

Corporate cock-ups take many forms but I think they can be put into two (possibly three) basic categories.

Firstly, there is the cock-up that involves delivering a product to the market place that people simply look at bemusedly, and despite the inevitable marketing and advertising onslaught, say to themselves "Why the hell would I want one of those?"

The second is the update to an existing product. This is where the company already has a succesful product but decides that, after years of success and money-making of the hand-over-fist variety, that they can improve it. A risky strategy.

The third and slightly ancillary category is the useless but invaribly expensive enhancement or add-on that the punter generally sees for what it is. A manipulative ploy to cash in on something that really should've been part of the product in the first place and now we're expected to pay for it as an accessory.

However, it's not just commercial organisations that do this. Rather disappointly, governments that we elect and pay for do this sort of thing equally well and often on an even grander scale that any mere multi-national could manage.

So, in the spirit of schadenfreude and hubris, here's my list of the top ten corporate/government/political cock-ups:-

1. Coca Cola and the Dasani tapwatergate scandal
2. The Ford Edsel
3. Collectively, the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and numerous other UK TV broadcasters and the scandal of the dodgy phone-ins
4. Coca Cola (again) and Classic/New Coke
5. The Post Office and Consignia
6. IBM OS/2 - I guess you had to be in IT in the 80s to know about this one
7. The Millennium Dome
8. Neil Kinnock - alllright, yeeeaaaahhh, alllllright.
9. Reality show winners. The music business is a notoriously hype-driven industry that is utterly dependent on scamming people as quickly as possible before they realise the transparent dreadfulness of the product they're being expected to buy. Almost all reality show winners really only belong on a cruise ship knocking out show tunes to grannies and, in a just world, both they and the record companies that promote them to make a quick buck would realise this, and not build up these poor deluded individuals only to sack them after their first album takes a dive.
10. And finally, my tip for the future - climate change. I predict this will be forgotten within a generation and thoroughly upstaged by a religiously provoked armageddon between US Christian fundamentalists and their equally loopy Islamic opposite numbers. A bit of a long-range bet I admit, but watch this space. Check back here in twenty years time and I think you'll find I was right. If I'm not, then you can start using words like hubris and schadenfreude yourself.

I've just googled tapwatergate as I thought of it myself and I can happily say that there are only five hits and none are in the context large companies trying to flog us bottled tap water which makes me rather pleased that I thought of it myself.

I'm sure there are other bigger ones I've forgotten. Contributions please....

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mr. Slater's Parrot

I don't get it (nothing unusual there). Yet again, the hoary old subject of whether the Tories should try to get elected on a policy of promising tax cuts is being discussed.

Every day we see examples of the current government wasting money, or boasting about how much more money they can spend (which by extension means they have to raise taxes to get that money), but suggest that if you get elected you might actually try to spend less money is seen as utterly unpalatable.

We now appear to have a system where the government has the biggest take from people's wages in history. They take this money, launder it through an increasingly complex, labour-intensive, and bureaucratically terrifying system only to parcel it back out, mostly to where it came from in the first place (with administrative costs removed of course.)

We're constantly told that the only way to deal with a problem is to buy our way out of it. This was how to fix the NHS. What we've ended up with after all the money was sunk into the NHS is better paid staff (good thing) but the same staff have never apparently been more pissed off with the system in which they work. One bad set of stats. that are almost inevitable after periods of major upheaval and the government feels obliged to jump in and spend more money redesigning a system that barely had a chance to bed in and prove if it made any sense or not.

I guess my argument is simplistic but I just no longer see the connection between more money being spent equalling an improvement in the services provided. Politicians seem locked into a mad scramble where to get elected you have to boast about how much more money you can sink into a problem. There's rarely any sense of the money being spent wisely. Invariably they will just spend years building another multi-billion pound database that won't work and can't talk to any other systems. I'd have thought if you want to keep a record of all the paedophiles in the country, a half competent secretary could knock something up on a spreadsheet in a morning and that would do the same job - it would certainly do 90% of the job almost immediately and give you a system to start with whereas usually we seem to go five years down the line and some outsourcing company has blown billions on the project before everyone agrees the idea appeared to have been fundamentally flawed at the outset.

So, there's been no apparent improvement in healthcare in the last 10 years. Education is visibly worse. Crime? Well it's difficult to tell because the way statistics regarding crimes committed against crimes detected is such a statistical hellhole of smoke and mirrors that anything could be happening out there and the government no more knows the answer than you or I. Pick any other state provided service and it's the same story.

I don't think the Tories neccesarily have have the answer and I'm pretty sure they won't get my vote because they're just as obsessed with touting bullshit as the current government. The Lib Dems are non-starters as well, they're so obsessed with not offending anyone that they'd never get anything done. Shirley Williams crackpot logic, recently touted on Question Time, regarding Salman Rushdie's knighthood proves she, and you must therefore assume, the party she represents, appear to have lost all touch with reality as they would appear to want to delegate the responsibility of deciding who gets a UK knighthood to a random collection of flag burners in Islamabad.

I guess government logic is that money cycled through the State is better than money flowing around outside it. Of all the people the government hires and has to pay, they know they're going to get 50% of that money straight back into the system through PAYE, VAT, car fuel taxes, speeding fines, Lotto etc. etc. The problem is you need a bloody big system if you want to control all that money and keeping it all balanced and justifying taking it in the first place requires an ever expanding bureacracy to control it all. If our system of taxation was more transparent it would scare the bejeesus out of the government because we might finally see how much less was needed to pay for the services people need and how little was needed to run the machinery of state.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

London Calling

Driving home this evening on the North Circular, I passed beneath the railway bridge at Stonebridge Park. At the same time a Cotswold Rail Class 47 diesel loco. (yes, as a much younger man, some say boy, I was a train spotter) was passing overhead. It had a name. I checked when I got home - I wasn’t imagining things – it really WAS called Joe Strummer. Upon further investigation here, I find not only have they named one of their locos after the late Clash frontman, but they have also named trains after John Peel and Captain Sensible.

Strummer yes, Peel absolutely, but how Captain Sensible got on the list before a host of others I do not know…..although I admit am rather fond of the Captain’s tune Glad It’s All Over.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Good Life Awaits

Senor Sanchez Rodriguez, Foreign Service Manager at the Santalucia Service Company has just written to me today and has rather wonderfully informed me I have won 615,810 euros in the Loteria Primitiva - the Spanish lottery. What good fortune. I simply have to provide copies of several forms of ID, all my bank details, and send them to his Yahoo email address and, and after he has secured some funds from my account (for important and essential administrative purposes no doubt) he will send me my winnings. Assuming the bounty has been deposited by Friday, I shall be in Crouch End this weekend buying champagne (no, make that cava actually, it's the Spanish lottery I've won) for anyone who fancies a tipple. Failing that, what would you prefer, mineral or tap?

Friday, June 01, 2007

If Only I Had One....

Your Love Life is Like Annie Hall

"A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies."

You believe that love (if you even believe in love!) is a very complicated thing.
Maybe love is pain. Or maybe it's all a big therapy session. You're still figuring it out.

Your love style: Brainy and a bit neurotic

Your Hollywood Ending Will Be: Realistic and reflective

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Thanks to an idea from The Great She Elephant, ten things about Budgens in Crouch End that make me irrationally angry....

1. The Tesco Metro next door has failed to put them out of business

2. I hate Tesco but I sometimes go in there in the hope of contributing towards achieving #1

3. Pavement logjam

4. Having to hesitate and break stride when approaching the automatic door because it doesn't open quickly enough

5. Miserable instore promotions featuring tastings of the most unappetising looking and unhygenically presented foods you could possibly imagine

6. Why is the fruit and veg. section so fucking gloomy?

7. Putting a picture of some ruddy-faced farmer on meat products in the hope that might be interpreted as giving it some organic credentials

8. Running out of staple foods by 3pm EVERY Sunday

9. Miserable staff - although I would be if I had to work there

10. It smells funny

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A mighty WAH! to Ling Valentine

If anyone saw Dragon's Den a few weeks ago I'm sure you won't have forgotten Ling Valentine pitching to the The Dragons and then unreservedly turning down their miserly offer. They were gobsmacked but she knows the value of her business and she also knows the value of good publicity. Like many people, I immediately tried to log on to her site but it had obviously been overwhelmed due to her terrific performance on the show - watch it here.

Reading her website today I discovered Ling won an award last year - The North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. As Ling was unable to attend she sent a colleague, Lina Liang, to accept on her behalf. But, in a stroke of genius, Lina spent the evening working underdcover as a waitress at the awards ceremony until Ling's victory was announced. At this point Lina ascended the stage to receive the award. This was meant to illustrate that not all Chinese people should automatically be assumed to be waitresses, cockle pickers or working in a take-away. Good point well made. Mischevious, humourous, perceptive, and not remotely offensive to the people who were running the award.

However, it seems the people running the award took a slighly different perspective and chose to airbrush Lina out of the award photos and remove links to Ling's website from their own webpage. This bizarre action was later corrected and the unedited photo was rightfully published. What could they possibly expect to achieve by doing that? Perhaps they'd only nominated Ling as some sort of misguided tokenism and didn't expect her to win, and when she did they were embarassed by the way in which the award was accepted. Hell, Ling winning WAS the best thing about their awards. To airbrush out the only ethnic winner of the award was a spectacular and depressing own goal by the organisers.

Ling is, without doubt, an exceptional person. Arriving in UK eight years ago, she's now running a successful business in the North East of England. I'm from there originally and know how difficult it is to start up a business and make money there. She has an uttely original approach to the business of selling cars. She's undercutting the opposition because of her shoestring operation which is run with a strong emphasis on customer service, humour and forthright honesty. She even suggests how you might avoid catching bird flu from imported Asian cars - "A damn car cannot sneeze on you. Unless you are pervert who performs sex act on exhaust pipe, or snogging aircon vents, I cannot figure out how customer would infect from the car. Of course, how do I know what my customer does in dark garage? Some customers really strange. But that would probably break terms of contract hire agreement anyway. Maybe I should introduce Police Check on my proposal form?"

I wish to send out a mighty WAH! to Ling and hope she turns the UK motor industry on its head with her hilairious and original website and eccentric ways of publicising it. My old Audi A4 just clocked up 200,000 miles last week and I'm going to have to replace it soon. Ling will be the first place I go. With any luck I might get an introduction to the beautiful Lina as well.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Your Vocabulary Score: A

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Super Casinos

I don't what sort of a hellhole area you must have to live in to think that it will be improved by having a "super-casino" built there but this is the fate of Manchester.

If that wasn't bad enough, then finding out that the current government has still yet to decide what legislation they can come up with to make it even less enjoyable must be a worry. Culture Secretary ("culture" and "casino" hardly sit comfortably together except in the oddest of sentences) Tessa Jowell has said "Las Vegas is not coming to Great Britain... British casinos will be subject to new controls, which will be the strictest in the world."

So, whilst New Labour will expect to cash in on whatever revenue this place generates you can be sure that it will be a soulless place lest people contemplate a return visit at which point they will surely turn into some sort of deranged gambling addict which of course is what we must avoid.....or so the government rhetoric will have us believe.

Remember the Dome. Flush with 750 million quid they managed to try and canvass every do-gooders opinion about the what it should contain, and what was supposed to be celebration of the millenium and to highlight everything positive about Britain (and also, shock-horror, an enjoyable experience) ended up being a mish-mash of compromises, political correctness and pseudo-educational displays which the British public was smart enough to see for the hopeless scam that it was.

Quite how The (now even more hopelessly redundant) Dome didn't get the contract to house the "Super Casino" is surely a story that has yet to be told. The current custodians of The Dome must have lined every pocket in Whitehall and Westminster to get to the front of the queue to host it so will be mightily pissed off that they haven't. Expect another scandal similar to the current cash-for-peerages fiasco when they take their revenge on New Labour for failing to deliver the contract to them.

So don't expect to enjoy yourself - Gordon will see to that. It'll deliver a ton of minimum-wage jobs which will help no-one in what will be a pale shadow of anything you see in Las Vegas. Emasculated beyond comprehension by foolish legislation in order to placate local objections, people will walk in, stick a pound coin in a slot-machine, not win, get a lecture from the legion of obligatory, onsite counsellors expressing concern lest the hapless numpty who has stumbled in has his fiscal prudence addled by bright lights, he'll toddle off into the night, and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Having made his exit, the unimpressed punter will realise there was never any point in going there in the first place......which is why next year, he'll have two weeks in Vegas and get treated like an adult, human being, with free sandwiches and a bit of sunshine.

A few years on, the government will realise what a rickets they've made of it all and revoke the tranche of silly legislation they brought in, that was never enforced but they love to think up believing the majority of the population is somehow wilfully stupid with its money.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Up Er Mei

Happy New Year everybody.

I'm trying to quit smoking today. This wasn't a conscious decision, I just noticed I was going to run out of snout sometime around the New Year so I thought this might be a prescient moment. I had my last cigarette at 11.00 am today. It's now 8.30 pm and I have the pain behind the eyes, pins and needles all over my body, a skittish nature, I'm grinding my teeth, I keep trying to eat my tongue, I'm biting the back of my hand, and numerous other intensely irritating symptoms.....I probably won't be able to last but it's the first step. I CAN quit, I've done it before, for a while, and I know the physical side of quitting is actually the easiest bit. It's the mental side and right now, I am mentally challenged. Right now I would kill......but as long as I stay home I can't do anything about it. If I go that's another thing......have another drink, that'll take my mind off things.