Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A Review Of The Year - 2010

The human perception of time is a strange phenomenon. Looking back over the past year, it seems like aeons ago when we celebrated the turn of the new year, and looked forward to 2010 being somewhat better than the total rubbish that was 2009. So much has changed since then. Not least the abolition of optimism.


It seems incredible now, but back in January the nation was covered in snow, airports were closed, and even the replacement bus service between Ilford and Braintree was struggling to negotiate mini roundabouts. And look at us now. How far we have come. Er, covered in snow, flightless and trainless, and blaming the Government for not stocking up on their grit supplies. 'Twas ever thus.


The General Election campaign began in earnest, and to be quite frank, bored most of us to tears and/or bigotry. We all knew Gordon Brown was about as popular as a fart in the confessional booth, but we also knew that David Cameron only had to turn up in order to win. Provided they didn't do anything mindnumbingly stupid, like (say) order a massively expensive run of posters that were too easily satirised, an overwhelming Tory majority was pretty much nailed on.

Conservatives and right-wingers often like to tell us that Government is useless, while they rapidly dismantle the state's ability to support its most vulnerable citizens. And this lot were so keen to prove that point, they couldn't even wait to be elected to show just how useless they were. The lies and personal abuse reached levels that only residents of Alaska wouldn't be shocked at, and the Tories' number 2 man George Osborne seemed to go missing down a Chilean mine for several months, in the hope that people might not realise he would imminently be running one of the world's largest economies. Off the edge of a cliff.


The world turned. Stuff happened. Nick Clegg was still, back then, an anonymous posh man that most people had never heard of. Greece still had an economy, and English fans generally still believed we had a chance of winning the World Cup.

Me, I blogged matters canine in a vain and fruitless attempt to gain more hits. I have no shame. Or talent, to be fair.


Three explosive events captured the world's attention over the space of just one week. On April 14, newsreaders across the nation cursed their luck and came into work an hour early to practise pronouncing Eyjafjallajökull. On April 20, BP executives around the world cashed in their shares as Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing eleven workers and making the Gulf of Mexico the world's second oiliest entity, after George Osborne's personality.

[I never thought I'd use the the word "personality" so close to the words "George Osborne". Never let it be said that blogging doesn't introduce you to all sorts of new and unforeseen experiences.]

I said three explosive events. Of course the third, and by far the most inane (and therefore the only one of the three that I blogged), was the first in a series of three leaders' debates in the UK general election campaign. (It was three, wasn't it? I honestly can't remember now. Nor do I care.)


And finally, with a sigh and a whimper, it was over. Gordon Brown returned to Fife, and the evolution of Nick Clegg's short political career from zero to hero to villain began in earnest. It all began so well. It's difficult to believe, now, but back then the phrase "I agree with Nick" was so popular that some people actually discovered who Nick Clegg was. Then the election happened; the Tories snatched a best-loser position from the jaws of an easy victory; and one sunny day two well-scrubbed former public schoolboys joshed happily in the garden of 10 Downing Street. The electorate outside looked from Liberal to Tory, and from Tory to Liberal, and from Liberal to Tory again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.


The world watched in awe, amazement and ennui as a collection of highly paid men in brightly coloured shirts kicked a leather ball to the soundtrack of a swarm of angry bees. Yes, it was time once again for the quadrennial ritual of British tabloids printing bizarre xenophobic chest-beating articles about how "our boys" would thrash the mighty Hun, followed shortly by "our boys" being righteously thrashed and humiliated by, er, the mighty Hun.

In retrospect, I believe this is also the only month of 2010 which didn't involve the wrong kind of snow falling on the Southend Victoria to London Liverpool Street line. Although I may be wrong.


Was there a July this year? Are you sure? Can't say as I noticed. It just goes to show - if you didn't blog it, it didn't happen.

Oh yes, one thing did happen of some note. Wikileaks - you may have heard of them - published the Afghan War Logs, simultaneously scoring a major coup for free speech and openness, and also proving what we already knew: that we are losing the war. Somewhere just across the border in Pakistan, an old man with dodgy kidneys pissed himself laughing.


Actually, I'm beginning to wonder whether I was in a coma this summer. Apart from a short holiday, I can't remember a single thing about August. Not a thing.

I'd like to think that, while I wasn't watching, the new coalition Government finally decided to properly regulate the banks, that Simon Cowell was imprisoned for crimes against humanity, and that a keyboard-playing cat was elected Prime Minister of Italy. At least one of these events will probably happen in 2011. Yes, it's the cat one. But you knew that didn't you.

What actually appears to have happened - according to a short and decidedly lazy bit of research on my part - is the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Lungwort Wells. Now I'm beginning to wish I had paid more attention.


The year, rather like this blog post, limped wearily into its latter stages. The actor Tony Curtis died, triggering the first of two occasions this year when Twitter was dominated by the #IAmSpartacus hashtag. Showing FIFA how it's done, Britain staged the Bognor Birdman Competition and the World Gurning Championships in short order, and without a vuvuzela in sight.

Elsewhere, 33 Chileans went to hitherto unseen lengths to avoid having to watch the X Factor.


The Chilean miners re-emerged in designer sunglasses to cheers from around the world. Incredibly, there was some good news on the telly for once. Right in between reports about natural disasters in countries that Americans can't find on a map, and reports about the disappearance of the British welfare state. And manufacturing economy. And money.

In other news, I turned 42. Much gin was consumed. Canny hedge fund managers could have made a small fortune on the temporary shortage of Bombay Sapphire.


Are you still there? Good. Not long now.

What a cracking month November was. Aung San Suu Kyi was finally released from house arrest in time to watch England's surprisingly competent start to the Ashes series. Apparently she had some other business to attend to, but I can't remember now what that was. Something to do with dictatorship and genocide. Details.

Researchers at CERN trapped antimatter for the first time in human history, unless you count the accidental meeting of the Lib Dems' manifesto with the harsh glare of reality. In homage to the Prime Minister and his old Bullingdon chums, thousands of students converged on London to trash the gaff. Amazingly, this time no newspaper vendors were killed.


Don't ask me. Look out the bleedin' window.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Too Many Blacks

Last week the inevitable happened - England failed in their bid to host the World Cup in 2018. Far more interesting than the story of the bid, though, is the story of the post-bid recriminations.

Since the Panorama broadcast which highlighted FIFA corruption, just before FIFA's decision was announced, it is hardly surprising that most of the blame has been directed at FIFA as their apparent corruption has been exposed - although, more shamefully, some have blamed the BBC for daring to broadcast their allegations at such an inconvenient time. How dare they? Without going into this well-trodden debate too deeply, suffice to say that I would far prefer a free press to a World Cup.

For me, though, there was one angle on the bid failure that almost all news outlets failed to pick up on. All but one - the Daily Mail.

In a quite extraordinary article entitled "Was this the video that cost us? The very un-English presentation screened to FIFA delegates", the blackshirts' favourite daily (through the medium of the hopefully-made-up "Paul Harris") decided that the bid failure was entirely down to - you guessed it - Political Correctness Gawn Mad.

In an article peppered with sarcasm, and liberally sprinkled with screengrabs from the England 2018 bid video (one hilariously subtitled "A clip from the part of the video depicting a Muslim country" - gasp! Muslims! RUN!!), the Daily Fail employs the usual code, not quite racist enough to prompt a complaint but plenty racist enough to make most sane people feel ill.

This, remember, is the same paper that arguably started the process of the bid failure by exposing Lord Triesman's affair (and his off-the-record allegations of bid corruption) some six months ago - including this classic pair of 'articles' praising Lord Triesman's mistress and pointing out TWICE that it is not hard to see why he might find her "ivory skin" alluring. God forbid that a man might fancy a girl with some colour.

They didn't even bother trying to rewrite the sentence:

The woman who cost Football Association chief Lord Triesman his job is revealed as a flame-haired 37-year-old with an impressive academic background.

As the Labour peer reflects on his speedy exit it is not hard to see why a man of 66 might find Melissa Jacobs with her slim physique and ivory skin alluring.


It's not hard to see why a man of 66 might find Melissa Jacobs attractive.

With flowing flame red hair, a slim physique and ivory skin, she looks younger than her 37 years and has, it seems, an impressive academic background to boot.

Note to journalism students - clearly if your work to date comprises lazy stereotypes, and liberal use of copy/paste, there's a career out there for you somewhere.

So. Anyway. Back to the bid, and why it failed. It's not so much the article itself that is staggering - although it is, particularly with quotes like:

Selfless, that's us. Doing it for the greater good of the world. You could see it in the faces the film featured from locations all around the planet.

They've got the wrong kind of faces, you see. That's the problem. We failed because we used "ethnically diverse figures" (ie black people), or "African and Asian spectators" (ie black people), featuring fans including a "Caribbean family" (ie black people). To be fair they also point out that "close-ups of the players further underline the multinational diversity of our favourite Premiership icons" (yes, it seems even the team itself has been infiltrated by... black people). Terrifying, isn't it.

Well... no. No, it isn't. Not as terrifying as some of the comments, anyway. Here is a selection.

Britain has "multiculturalism" and is frightened to death of "offending" anyone.
- But at least we're not frightened of "superfluous punctuation".

Silly me thinking England was predominantly a white, christian country. Shows How wrong I was then.
- Or, perhaps, it just shows how racist and intolerant you are. Silly you indeed.

How disgusting that whoever organied this shambles of a bid chose not to portray England as English.
- Did we portray England as Fijian? I missed that bit.

Of course the good thing about losing the bid is that we wont have thousands of "spectators" claiming asylum.
- The bad thing is, you already live here.

The way we are going England is going to look like that before too long anyway.
- Yes, that's right. Because THEY breed, don't they.

Until the english start having some pride in Englishness instead of constantly living their lives through the cultures of other ethnic and national groups, they are simply not going to get themselfs out of the social malaise they're trapped in.
- This from a reader in, er, New Zealand.

Dear oh dear. We seem determined to PC ourselves out of existence.
- I think this one was looking for an IT helpline.

Maybe if England had done more to promote the Englishness of football and a little less multicultural ribbish theyd hVe had a better chance. Sucking up being all PC obviously failed miserably
- And this from a reader who loves England so much he lives in, um, Canada. Where apparently they say 'ribbish' a lot.

Once again, an example of how we are too scared to celebrate our national identity for fear that the PC brigade will come along and moan that there are not enough different cultures and minorities represented.
- Now I'm getting images of the PC Brigade, sort of like the Light Brigade, but with black people instead of horses.

This is the problem with multi culturalism...everyone loses their identity amidst the racial and cultural mash.....
- Bloody hell, even the potatoes are multicultural.

toe curlingly embarrassing, the insincere simpering and whimpering, the extraordinary, and weird obsession that this country has developed for multiculture
- Yes, it's us that's obsessed with multiculture isn't it. Yes.

Our heritage has been sold down the river, what remains is a hotchpotch that few people feel any connection with. England I am afraid is dead and soon even its history will be rewritten!
- Branching out from a World Cup bid to a complete rewrite of the school history curriculum. Because of these fools, we lost at Agincourt and Waterloo.

In this film Britain looks like a foreign country, which increasiingly it seems to be
- Based on last week, that foreign country is Greenland. Brrr.

It makes me feel sick to the stomach when we have this 'multicultural' rubbish rubbed in our faces. We should stick to traditional values and celebrate our heritage.
- Yeah! We want traditional values! Like xenophobia! And bigotry! Yay!

Final proof our identity, heritage and history have been whittled away!!
- You read it here first, people - England is now just a sharpened stick.

I want to see a video of GB, not Africa!! It's about football!! Not multiculturalism!!
- No!! It's about exclamation marks!! Lots!! Of!! Them!!

We are hardly the country we used to be. We have been watered down to much by uncontrolled immigration and folks wanting asylum.
- Ah yes, the purity of our gene pool, watered down by... oh I can't be bothered.

Typical. Hijacked by the PC loony left multiculturalists.
- Loony left? Who, exactly? David Cameron?

This country is dying because of its own generosity. Anyone can come here, be what they like, pray how they like, behave how they like.....no worries, the natives will pay, the natives will tolerate. It doesn't surprise me that our promotional video was full of foreigners; even if it had only been filmed in England it would still have been full of foreigners. Did I say this country was dying? yes, we had an Empire but it was largely taking good things to the world.
- I don't know where to start with how wrong this statement is. I just hope this person doesn't live near me.

well i am pleased, it will keep some of the scum of the world trying to get here more easier on the back of being a football supporter.
- Er, I'm pretty sure we've got plenty of our own scum right here...

And my personal favourite:

Well done Daily Mail for having the courage to speak up and say the things the silent majority are thinking!. It's about time we took pride in OUR culture for once.

If only Diana were here to see what this nation has become. What would she say?

Now, ask yourself. Honestly. Do you want to host a World Cup, and find people like this welcoming fans and players from around the world (ie black people)? Neither do I.

Disappointed kids wondering what Diana would say

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

More Tea, Vicar?

I have been inundated with requests to resume this blog.

Oh, alright then, I got two requests.

From my father and my sister, if you must know.

But hey, who am I to decline. So here goes.

There has been much focus recently on the 'success' of the billionaire-funded ultra-reactionary Tea Party movement in the US mid-term elections, followed by today's release of George W Bush's memoirs, in which he claims (inter alia) that torture helps prevent terrorism. I'll leave the staggering wrongness of that assertion aside - for now, at least - and just copy below a series of comments written by Doug Offenhartz, which I saw on the Twitter feed of Ayelet Waldman.

Hey, tea bagging pricks! NOW you're mad?

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy and push us to invade Iraq.

You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us.

You didn't get mad when we spent over $800 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn't get mad when Bush borrowed more money from foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.

You didn't get mad when over $10 billion in cash just disappeared in Iraq.

You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn't get mad when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Osama Bin Laden.

You didn't get mad when Bush rang up $10 trillion in combined budget and current account deficits.

You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed Hospital.

You didn't get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans, drown.

You didn't get mad when we gave people who had more money than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion dollars in tax breaks.

You didn't get mad with the worst 8 years of job creation in several decades.

You didn't get mad when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their lives because they had no health insurance.

You didn't get mad when lack of oversight and regulations from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12 trillion dollars in investments, retirement, and home values.

You got mad when a black man was elected President and decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick.

Beautifully put, Doug. It just makes you wonder how people's memories can be so short, that Obama is now taking the blame for all the ills that the US is currently suffering. Given Bush's total lack of remorse for the damage he did, the above comes as a useful reminder of just how far we have come in the past two years. Now it's up to the American people to make sure we never go back.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Short Announcement

This blog has been suspended/discontinued due to lack of interest/talent.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes...

The most closely fought and unpredictable election of my voting life is now drawing to a fascinating denouement. Here's my take on the past few weeks' campaigning, starting with the losers. And, just to make me look even more silly after the count on Thursday night, I've also added my predictions.

Labour - Gordon Brown

Yes, I know we are all voting for candidates, not parties or leaders, but such is the way the campaigns have all been structured - particularly with the new leaders' TV debates - that UK elections are becoming ever more 'Presidential' in style. Which has been a massive blow for the incumbents, given that they have no personalities to push forward in a personality-driven environment.

Poor old Labour. Thirteen years after the heady days of 1997 when they rolled into Downing Street on a wave of euphoria, Labour are about to be unceremoniously kicked out, despite their achievements. The past 13 years have been a mixed bag, but there is no denying that Labour has done extraordinarily well with policies such as SureStart. Sadly for them, their party and campaign are led by Britain's most uncharismatic man. With the possible exception of Piers Morgan.

Staring defeat in the face, and unable to afford the sort of massively expensive campaign the Tories have been able to roll out, Labour are limping to the finish line with ever more desperate attempts to woo the wavering voters. Calling a potential supporter a 'bigot' was supposed to be a low point, but still they kept digging the hole ever deeper, culminating last week in the reappearance of Tony Blair. Surely they're playing to lose, now. (In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they've put a massive bet on themselves to get trounced, and thereby refill the party coffers in one fell swoop. I call this 'John Higgins' fundraising.)

Overseas readers of this blog - if there are any - may be amazed to find that Tony Blair is now considered to be a political liability. His popularity in the USA remains very high, but here in the UK we have this quaint old-fashioned thing where we still dislike politicians for lying - even though hating a politician for lying is rather like hating a dog for licking his own balls: it's unsightly, but it's an integral part of who he his. (And we all wish we could get away with it.)

Incredibly, given the massive unpopularity that is inevitable for the incumbent party after three terms and amid a crushing recession, Labour may not actually do too badly. Psephologists worldwide are no doubt scratching their heads as to how Labour can be polling 28% just two days before the vote, which is actually several points higher than they have been polling for most of the current Parliament. You've seen it here first, people - millions of votes earned purely out of sympathy for a dying animal. Labour are, in fact, the political wing of Jedward.

My prediction - 215 seats

Liberal Democrat - Nick Clegg

The LibDem campaign has been a game of two halves. Prior to the first leaders' debate, hardly anyone knew who Nick Clegg was, and the LibDems were still polling below 20%. To be fair to Clegg, I think a major reason why so many people were unaware of his existence was down to the almost total lack of coverage of the LibDems in much of the (Tory) press, but his strong performance in the debates earned him an instance bounce in the polls up to almost 30% - and, creditably, this is a position they appear to have sustained to date.

This brings me to the second half of the LibDems' campaign, and possibly the most surreal part of what has been a pretty topsy-turvy few weeks. Once it became apparent that Clegg was a real threat to the status quo, the press reaction was instant and vicious. What began with some mild digs about nobody knowing who Clegg was - patently no longer true after the first debate - quickly descended into more desperate obloquy and ad hominem attacks. Not surprisingly, this is my personal favourite:

How can anyone seriously try to get any laughs out of the LibDems when you're up against this calibre of comedy?

When the Daily "Hurrah For The Blackshirts" Mail starts falling foul of Godwin's Law, you know you must be doing something right. Unfortunately for Clegg, far beyond these pathetic attempts to scare the electorate, he is still hampered by the same ball and chain he always was - a vote for the LibDems is statistically worth around 10% of a vote for another party, in terms of seats gained. Unless they are able to overcome an electoral system strongly skewed against them, they will never get the chance to change it, and so they will remain effectively irrelevant.

So, Cleggy, it's back to "my home town Sheffield" for the public-school educated Eurocrat. But look on the bright side. You might still be irrelevant, but at least people know who you are now.

My prediction - 84 seats

Conservative - David Cameron

Anointed as the winner as long as two years ago, Cameron and his motley band of homophobes and Bullingdon chums are now limping across the line. If you had just arrived in the UK and read the papers today - mostly heavily biased toward the Tories, of course - you would think that Cameron has run a spectacularly successful campaign, and is about to win a resounding mandate from the British people.

What seems to have been forgotten is that, just one year ago, the Conservatives were polling consistently over 40% (now seemingly stuck in the mid-30s), and had a lead over Labour of over 20%. Months of 'articles' like this...

3 Sep 2009 ... DAVID Cameron is on course to win a sensational landslide general election victory next May, an exclusive Sun poll reveals tonight.

27 Jul 2009 ... Get ready for a Tory landslide. That is the prediction of a new and sophisticated electoral forecasting tool...

Stephens Scown snap poll predicts Tory landslide ... David Cameron's Tory party will sweep to power with a massive 64% of the vote...

... have been quietly shelved in favour of bizarre attacks on the opposition parties, and (unwittingly) hilarious puff pieces about Dave the normal bloke. Meanwhile, the Tories are stuck on the level of support they had when Michael Howard royally buggered up the 2005 election.

For the immensely wealthy banker's son, educated at Eton and married into aristocracy, trying to come across as a regular member of the human race must be a massive task. So I suppose Dave deserves some credit for success in this regard, in that at least fewer than 50% of the electorate believe he breathes with the use of gills. (Note: this result was obtained from a non-scientifically conducted poll, and may not be an accurate reflection of public opinion.) Nevertheless, no matter how it is spun, this election is almost certain to end up as a failure for the Tory party, even if they do form the next Government.

Some of the best entertainment in the election campaign - despite Gordon Brown's best efforts to insult his way to the top - have come from Dave. His appearances on the leaders' TV debates have been must-watch stuff: from the rabbit in the headlights in the first debate, through to the more confident (but still appearing to look like a face drawn on a thumb) in the final debate. Cameron and his would-be ministers, particularly the hard drinking Billy Hague, have been zooming around the country in private jets kindly loaned by their 'ordinary hard-working family' friends to marginal constituencies flooded in leaflets by their 'ordinary hard-working' non-domiciled tax exile friends, in a chaotic attempt to achieve the victory they all thought was absolutely guaranteed.

The tactics have been brilliantly awful. Remember promising to give tax breaks to married couples, only to withdraw the policy, and then resurrect it in a form that punishes widows of military casualties while simultaneously pretending that £2.88 a week is going to make the blindest bit of difference to anyone's marital status? Remember the "great ignored" and the "big society", just two of their bizarre poli-speak anodyne slogans which vanished as quickly as they appeared? In any other year these would rightly be seen as the shambles they are, but somehow these people are going to be running our country for the next five years.

God help us all.

Prediction - 317 seats, one term of Government, three summers of civil unrest and the total destruction of the country

Friday, 16 April 2010

Take Me To Your Leaders

Three things stick in my mind after last night's historic first-ever UK party leaders' debate. Some or all of these may be utterly irrelevant, and as far from policy as it's possible to get. So if you're looking for a serious analysis, try a proper blogger.

The Missing Billions

About half way through the debate, Brown and Cameron's bickering about National Insurance Contributions (now known as "jobs tax" in Toryworld) reached a nadir with this exchange:

If you were elected, in a budget in July, you've got to take six
billion out of the system, other than health and defence.
Where does that money come from? You've promised you'll
take six billion out. It can only end up with the loss of
thousands of jobs, including teachers. You will not back us
and support us on keeping education. Why won't you support
educational spending, as we do?

I think people can hear that this is a complete invention of a figure plucked out of the air. We're saying the government
could save one pound out of every hundred it spends. Now,
what small business, what large business, what family, frankly,
hasn't had to do that during this difficult recession?

David Cameron responded to Gordon Brown's claim that the Tories plan to cut £6 billion by stating that the figure was a "complete invention". I have italicised the relevant sentence above. (Incidentally, I can think of one family that probably hasn't had to cut their expenditure by 10%. Step forward Mr & Mrs Cameron of Witney, Oxon.)

Now if that were true, and Gordon had just plucked the figure out of the air, imagine my surprise when this happened:

How certain can you be that your party's policies will deal with
the budget deficits without damaging economic growth?

Mr Cameron?

This is an absolutely vital question, and I'm glad it's been asked, because we've got to get this economy moving. We've
got to get this economy growing. What we say is save £6
billion in the coming current year
in order to stop the jobs tax
which we think will derail the recovery.

Now I'm a little confused. If this six billion was a "complete invention", where's the money coming from? Oh, I see:

These two constantly argue about waste as if we can
create...or we can fill the black hole in public finances by
saving money on paper clips and pot plants in Whitehall. Of
course we can get rid of a bit of waste. But that isn't the big...
That doesn't really address the big questions we need to ask
ourselves. I think we need to be clear with you, open with you,
straight with you. We've tried to do that. We've set out £15
billion worth of savings. I've listed some of them.

... it's because the six billion is in fact FIFTEEN billion. "Some" of which Dave has listed - yeah, paper clips and pot plants. Thanks a million. Or, actually, thanks fifteen billion.

Serving Your Country

All three of the leaders used the tactic of anecdotes about 'real' people. Here's an example. This man has served his country above and beyond the call of duty.

I was in Plymouth recently, and a 40-year-old black
man made the point to me. He said, "I came here when I was
six, I've served in the Royal Navy for 30 years."

Now, I may be wrong, but I have my suspicions that this man does not actually exist. I'm pretty sure the Royal Navy no longer uses ten-year-old boys on their ships. Unless Dave thinks the forces are still in the age of Horatio Hornblower.

Cross-Party Consensus

I couldn't resist. I tried, really I did, but I couldn't resist. So here it is - the (completely un-)official "I agree with Nick" count.

Gordon Brown - 4 (plus a "Nick also agrees with me", which Nick rebutted)

David Cameron - a very disappointing nul points

And I thought I even heard Nick Clegg himself say it at one point.

All quotes are taken from the BBC website, who kindly posted a full transcript in pdf format.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


This is still a young blog, and it doesn't get many readers. So imagine my surprise when - having already blogged on the BNP, the snow, and toilet roll dispensers - the number of hits on my blog quadrupled once I posted a few photos of my dogs.

So, in a shameless attempt to increase the hits yet further, I am eschewing political comment and taking the easy option. (Although I do appreciate that I may also get hits from people Googling "Nick Griffin dogging", and I hope they get over their disappointment swiftly.)

It has been almost a year now since Azul and Blackie arrived from the dog rescue centre in Spain.

Prepare for close-up...

Generally speaking, the boys have settled in well. Probably their biggest shock since arriving in England has been the snow. They absolutely loved it. Not having to commute through it probably helped.

I can only guess that they had never seen snow before. First time out, they just barked at it. The snow seemed relatively unimpressed at this display. Eventually their curiosity took over, and they got pretty excited about the idea of playing in this new stuff.
("Excited" generally means, for Azul, spinning round and round like a gyroscope with ADHD. Blackie is more sedate - excitement generally manifests itself as circular tail-wagging. Blackiecopter.)

They are still best mates, as you can see here. Playfights are a major part of their daily routine, apart from barking at ice cream van jingles. They never seem to get bored; there's always something valuable around to bite. Including eachother.

Like most dogs with husky DNA, Azul likes to counter-surf when we're not looking. This tactic has worked (he once scored half a Beef Wellington) as well as backfired (he once chewed up a whole box of dishwasher tablets). Blackie's dining tastes are somewhat more esoteric: he's quite happy eating the cats' food. Both before and after the cats have.

Surely the greatest ad ever for taking in a rescue dog, no? No? Oh.

To the victor, the spoils.

Monday, 15 February 2010

True Colours

I've been watching the general election campaigns warming up with some interest, particularly with respect to what appears to be increasing desperation in Tory ranks.

Just recently we've had lies about crime figures, lies about who attends Cameron's speeches, crass interference in the Northern Ireland peace process, lies about teenage pregnancy, lies about Tory funding donors, lies about Labour's tax plans (which also scuppered a cross-party consensus) and Cameron making personal attacks on Brown.

But this is what really struck me as to how low the Tories, or in this case one of their chief bloggers, will go.

These three tweets were posted last night on Twitter by a blogger who calls himself "Tory Bear". His tweets, and blogs, are generally a series of childish personal insults, smears and innuendo, but even he has sunk to a new low here.

Perhaps I am wrong, but I always felt that mocking politicians was fine, but mocking disability is just cheap and nasty.

Similarly, I think it's reasonable to hold a politician to account for his actions, but to deliberately repeat smears about drug dependency is not only desperately vicious, but also seeks to trivialise what is a serious issue for thousands of people.

And finally, just in case you thought the above wasn't tasteless enough, there's always the last resort of the utterly vile scoundrel: label your opponent as a paedophile.

Jolly well done, Tory Bear. Cowardly enough to tweet this disgusting abuse, and cowardly enough to try to delete the evidence when called to account for yourself.

Yep, the offending tweets have now been deleted. Classy.

No doubt he'll get away with it, and be free to continue his trivial vendettas against other people, but I for one think this spokesman for the Nasty Party has shown his true colours. Vote blue - fight dirty. Just the sort of people we want to ru(i)n our country for the next four or five years.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Snowing Me Snowing You (A-Ha)

In case it has escaped your attention, it's been snowing a bit in the UK.

Quite apart from the usual snowy Britain experiences - cancelled trains, slushy roads and over-excited weather forecasters - I've also learned a few slightly more esoteric things about life, which I am generously sharing with you, dear reader. Never let it be said that this blog doesn't enrich your life. Even if it is self-evidently true.

A new respect for ungulates

Being as I am one of those weedy people that can't feel their toes once the mercury drops below 4 Celsius, in the past few weeks I've taken to wearing two - or even three - pairs of socks at once. One of the unforeseen side-effects of this additional insulation is that my shoes no longer fit, and I end up tottering down the road like a satyr that has had a few too many sherries (albeit without the perpetual erection, I might add).

I never gave much thought to what it must be like to have hooves before, but now I realise how ungainly they are, I say 'jolly well done' to all the sheep, pigs, horses and Satans out there.

Panic buying can get surreal

I went down to my town's supermarket over the weekend to get some supplies, only to find the store resembled a scene from a nuclear holocaust movie. No bread. No tinned food. No milk. All the staple items had been bought en masse by people presumably expecting to be sealed off from civilisation like Ernest Shackleton for the next six months.

I guess this is to be expected, particularly with the newspapers enjoying stories about how Britain has returned to the Stone Age, but there was one particular item that I did not expect to see people fighting over - cat litter. Yes, cat litter: those absorbent little pellets are apparently the best substitute for road grit available. Now the pavements are strewn with cat litter, I do wonder if the local feline population just thinks the town has become one enormous toilet.

No change there, then.

A sholley is a weapon

There is a fairly high proportion of retired folk in the town where I live, which adds a little extra spice to the snowy scenes. I was expecting to see carnage in town - old people flying all over the place, broken hips aplenty... but in fact the cunning old codgers seem to have worked out that their sholleys act as an extra foot, giving them the stability of a tripod.

Unfortunately this is also allied with the braking and steering ability of a supertanker. Anyone walking within 20 yards of a sholley-wielding pensioner is therefore in imminent danger of being swamped by a phalanx of tartan-clad shopping bags.

Believe me. It's no coincidence that the more pointy parts of the sholley are exactly at testicle height. You have been warned.

There is good money in plastics

Sales of non-essential items have plunged during the cold snap. Perhaps that's not surprising, that people are postponing the purchase of large items when they can barely walk. But there are still some items flying off the shelves, and it would appear that none are selling faster than sledges.

Not those nice solid old wooden sledges, like Rosebud. Oh no. This is 2010, so our wee kids have to have a pink slab of moulded plastic to sit on. At £30 a pop.

Even Russell Brand is at it. I'm clearly in the wrong line of work.

I am not ready for Canada

Here we are in the third or fourth week of the Big Freeze (TM), and it amazes me that not only has the country not ground to a halt, but I also currently still have a full quota of toes and fingers. Nevertheless, if there is much more of this sub-zero ice-fest, I may have to go into hibernation. I would not last five minutes in Calgary. Especially walking like I've got hooves.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Noughties & Teens

Another year has turned - another decade, too, according to some (but not all) - and traditionally one tends to look back at the year just gone, and look forward to the year to come, which might make one look like Marty Feldman for a moment (I've actually got a headstart on that one). This blog entry is made in something like that spirit, only without actually making any sense.*


Well, what a year that was. Last year I:

Saw the G20 demo in London

I was working that day, but did manage to see at least a little bit of egregious police brutality. Mostly because a riot kicked off right outside my office. A highlight has to be the demonstrator dressed in a pink Star Wars Stormtrooper outfit. At least I assume he was a demonstrator, he could have been FIT undercover...

Got married

Actually that's not quite true, I got married in 2008. But I stayed married in 2009, which I consider to be equally momentous as an achievement. Yay me. (And yay my wife, obv.)

Met Paul Watson

Somewhere in the bowels of HMS Belfast, I managed to grab a few words with eco-legend Paul Watson. Watson is currently in the Southern Ocean, chasing down Japanese whalers with a view to ramming them, throwing rancid butter at them, and casting aspersions on their parentage. Good man. Me? I got a signed book and a hoodie. You don't actually expect me to DO something, do you? Sheesh. It's cold down there, you know.

Got dogs

For some reason, my wife obviously thought there wasn't nearly enough farting going on in our house. Believe me, there was no shortfall on my account.

Gor blimey that's a fruity one...


This year I hope to:

Start a revolution

Frankly I'm fed up waiting for the Iranians. Clearly they're just not putting the effort in. I therefore propose to combine my 2010 holiday with some good old-fashioned revolutionary fervour. This may include executions at football grounds (I currently favour Fratton Park, starting with that idiot with the sodding Pompey Bell), extraordinary renditions (again, Fratton Park comes immediately to mind as the most unappealing place I can think of, offhand) and brutal suppression of the media. Actually, bringing down the apparatus of the State takes a secondary priority to eliminating the world's most annoying campanologist. The revolution can wait.

Rename the year

Twenty-Ten, or Two-Thousand and Ten? Such is the current debate on naming the new year. Well, let me tell you something - you are ALL wrong. It's twenty hundred and one-oh. Or possibly the square root of Forty-Forty-One-Hundred. I hope that helps.

Make better use of similes and metaphors

It's as clear as beer. If I can hit that bullseye, then the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. I speak with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

Start training for the Olympics

Bearing in mind that I am both British, and hideously unfit, I need to select an event carefully. One that involves sitting down, ideally. And one that involves almost no physical exertion. Currently I'm torn between going for the PS3 Call Of Duty event, or the 4x400 spliff-rolling relay. Either way, I'd better get my thumbs in condition in time for London Square-Root-of-Forty-Forty-Eight-One-Hundred-And-Forty-Four. Hup hup hup... aaaaand relax.

Happy New Year!

* Should all or any part of this blog entry actually make sense, please disregard. This is clearly an unintended side-effect. Please ensure all jars of peanut butter are kept at a safe distance until the effect wears off.