Monday, November 30, 2009

I’m sorry I didn’t have ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’

Am very angry with Radio 4 for not adequately advertising the new series of my favourite show. I’ve missed the first two episodes, although the second is available on iPlayer. Until early this evening.


If anybody knows of some dark but preferably legal corner of the interwebs where this stuff lives on, I’ll be very grateful. (NB this is not an invitation to every passing spambot. You know who you are.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tom 1, Ikea 0

I’ve not been posting much lately, and what I have been putting up has mostly been short ‘ooh, look at that’-type stuff.

This will carry on for a while; I finally moved into my new flat this week and I’m currently wrestling with the many things that still need sorting out. No internet yet, but luckily the block reception area has WiFi for residents.

I just wanted to brag about today’s DIY triumph. This photo shows both the inadequacy of the parts supplied in the flat pack and my brilliantly improvised solution. Huzzah for British ingenuity and yah boo sucks to shoddy Swedish mass production!

I now have a perfectly constructed kitchen trolley. Just don’t put anything heavy on the bottom shelf, alright?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

An exercise in point-missing

Robert Wilson, chairman of the British Association of Homeopathic Manufacturers:

If these products don't work beyond the placebo effect, why do people keep buying them?

Racy tennis

Garry Richardson, the Today programme sports correspondent, this morning:

What would happen if Andy Murray were to win a Grand Prix tournament, or even Wimbledon?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Spiderman’s secret identity revealed!

I watched Spiderman 3 last night, which I cannot in all honesty say was a good use of my time.

But I did notice something about geeky young star Tobey Maguire in relation to geeky young Foreign Secretary David Miliband:

No wonder he wasn’t available for that EU job.

Then again, maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree and Miliband is actually an entirely different superhero...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On ‘on’

Norm Geras notes with less than total agreement the idea that, in order for something to qualify as a blog, readers should be able to post comments on it. Norm himself offers no such comment-posting facility.

In response, I would like to post a comment on Norm’s blog. Here it is:

Jolly good.

There. I like to post comments on all sorts of matters, and this is one of them.

(In other news: the wall of the gents in one of my local pubs has now been designated as a blog, thanks to its much-used comment-leaving facility. ‘Blog’, of course, is a contraction of the term ‘pub log’.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Platitude of the day

I have been given a 186-page report to proofread.

Page 8 insightfully tells me:

Knowledge was lowest amongst low scorers on the knowledge quiz

I think this is going to hurt.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Waters of Britain

Ah, good old Doctor Who.

Wonder how many kids refused to go out in the rain this morning?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

5 years' jail for handing abandoned gun to police

Is this as deranged as it sounds?

Paul Clarke, 27, was found guilty of possessing a firearm at Guildford Crown Court on Tuesday – after finding the gun and handing it personally to police officers on March 20 this year.
The jury took 20 minutes to make its conviction, and Mr Clarke now faces a minimum of five year's imprisonment for handing in the weapon.

The court heard how Mr Clarke was on the balcony of his home in Nailsworth Crescent, Merstham, when he spotted a black bin liner at the bottom of his garden.
In his statement, he said: "I took it indoors and inside found a shorn-off shotgun and two cartridges. I didn't know what to do, so the next morning I rang the Chief Superintendent, Adrian Harper, and asked if I could pop in and see him. At the police station, I took the gun out of the bag and placed it on the table so it was pointing towards the wall."
Mr Clarke was then arrested immediately for possession of a firearm at Reigate police station, and taken to the cells.

Prosecuting, Brian Stalk, explained to the jury that possession of a firearm was a "strict liability" charge – therefore Mr Clarke's allegedly honest intent was irrelevant. Just by having the gun in his possession he was guilty of the charge, and has no defence in law against it, he added.

Judge Christopher Critchlow said: "This is an unusual case, but in law there is no dispute that Mr Clarke has no defence to this charge. The intention of anybody possessing a firearm is irrelevant."

(Hat tip.)

"The Tory party is less popular than heroin"


Friday, November 13, 2009

A picture of remembrance

Gordon Brown hasn’t been the only party leader to blunder during armistice week.

David Cameron last night stood accused of exploiting the war dead for the sake of a set of Armistice Day publicity pictures.
He took his personal snapper into the Garden of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey yesterday to pose for carefully-choreographed photographs. The Tory leader slipped in by a side gate at 10.15am, 30 minutes before dignitaries including the Queen arrived for a First World War commemoration service.
Mr Cameron had clearly been instructed on how to behave and moved briskly from pose to pose, often bending down to read the names on crosses as he was snapped.
Within hours the carefully-vetted pictures were released worldwide.
Ron Watt, chairman of the Suez Veterans’ Association, said: “It seems very much like he’s using this for political gain.”

Out of left Field

Mike Smithson wonders whether Frank Field, who has written yet another gushing newspaper column about David Cameron, is about to defect to the Tories.

Of course he isn’t.

He’ll wait until he’s been securely re-elected to his safe Labour seat.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sadie retires from blogging

And the world becomes a little duller. Her sharp wit and bloody good writing will be missed, but her reasons seem fair enough. Best of luck to her back in the real world.

The Times and autistic insults

A French minister this week described the Tory policy on Europe as manifesting a “very bizarre sense of autism”.

The Times has seen fit to devote a leader column to the subject:

To use the term “autism” and “autistic” in a derogatory or flippant manner can cause deep hurt to those affected by the condition. To use the term as a criticism, for dramatic effect or to try to gain political advantage, perpetuates the misunderstanding of this condition and is, as the National Autistic Society said yesterday, “extremely unhelpful”.

I agree with every word.

But what puzzles me is that the editorial makes no mention of the only noteworthy use in recent years by a British politician of the same term “in a derogatory or flippant manner… for dramatic effect or to try to gain political advantage”. I mean George Osborne’s suggestion in October 2006 that Gordon Brown was “mildly autistic”.

Anyone who follows politics reasonably closely, as Times leader writers most certainly do, will remember this. Yet not a mention of this episode.

And back in 2006? Well, the Times found space to cover the row that resulted. It found space for not one but two columns by Mary Ann Sieghart, the Times columnist who originally elicited Osborne’s comment and who then sought to excuse the episode:

It felt like an innocent, if slightly tasteless, joke, and I thought no more of it.

What, precisely, was the problem here? Were genuinely autistic people offended to have been compared with the Chancellor? And why should it be such a sin anyway to be “faintly autistic”?

But there was not a peep of disapproval from the paper’s leader column. Perhaps they’re now making amends.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Arbeit macht frei (‘At work, you’re free to be on the make’)

David Wilshire MP, who used his parliamentary expenses inventively, is right:

The witch hunt against MPs in general will undermine democracy. It will weaken parliament - handing yet more power to governments. Branding a whole group of people as undesirables led to Hitler's gas chambers.

Because MPs have indeed been forced to wear portcullis emblems on their clothes been criticised pretty harshly, been herded into concentration camps been told that they’ll eventually have to rent rather than buy second homes on expenses, had their gold fillings ripped from their mouths been instructed (often non-bindingly) to repay some of their claims, and been gassed been forced to stand down with comfortable pensions.

Oh, and since last year they control the banks. So basically they’re Jews.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A question for Peter Oborne

You claim:

I remember that within months of [Tony Blair's] winning the 1997 General Election, his aides were confiding that his long-term aim was the then non-existent post of European President.

You have never liked Blair, you have never liked the EU and you have always had a good eye for a scoop that your like-minded readers could enjoy getting outraged by.

So, did you report this story back in 1997?

You can’t cut your way out of a recession

I’ve been very taken with Giles Wilkes’s writing before, so I expect that his latest piece, ‘Slash and grow? Spending cuts and economic recovery’, should be well worth a read.

A couple of quotes that stood out from his summary:

Public debts have risen largely to allow private indebtedness to fall without producing catastrophic consequences for the economy.

If the next British government proceeds upon the basis of deficit reduction before growth, it risks achieving neither.