Sunday, 28 June 2009

Hating Summer

A heatwave has hit India and temperatures are hovering around the mid 40s (113F). Weather forecasters here in the UK are warning of the same thing next week, only our highest temperatures are going to be around the low 30's (90F).
Now i know that compared to what India is suffering, it sounds pathetic to moan about the heat but dammit, to me 32c is uncomfortably hot.
I know summer is meant to be all about birds twittering, lots of sun and long, lazy days. But let’s be honest, it’s actually about wasps, sunburn, and the sun rising before you even get to sleep.
The worst part is is that the lack of sleep and heat makes me awfully cranky and moody. I swear when i wake up with my hair plastered to my face with sweat and pretty much keep it up till i finally drop off again for a few hours before starting it all over again in the morning. I keep my best cussing for the weatherman who gleefully informs me that it's going to be another glorious day. He wouldn't think his warm front was quite so glorious if i got to decide where to shove it. The sun doesn't shine there apparently.
Hot car interiors, the smell of armpits in the lift and more bugs than should be allowed to congregate in any one place at one time which is usually my bedroom ten seconds after i throw open the window.
I think it's about time us summer haters made a stand and got the UN, or whoever makes rulings on these matters, to make it illegal to ask anyone if it's 'hot enough for ya?' or to say 'bit hot 'innit' when you are drowning in your own sweat. Weathermen must stop saying 'another beautiful summers day' and call it 'another oppressively hot day where you will sweat if you so much as blink'. War must be declared on anything that bites or stings and men in tight speedo's must be declared a natural disaster area and cordoned off with bright yellow tape.
Roll on autumn and winter and showers, crisp cool days, fresh winds, chilly evenings and a cup of hot chocolate in front of a crackling fire and when i can just be naturally cranky and moody and it isn't heat assisted.

Armed Forces Day Con

Yesterday was the first Armed Forces Day, an 'opportunity for the nation to show our support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community' according to the Government.
What it actually appears to be is a cynical ploy to recruit youngsters to the Armed Forces because for some reason, young men and women are choosing not to sign up for a career in the Army, Navy or Air Force.
It seems unthinkable that anyone would sign up for a career where you get inadequate training, are not handed the right equipment to do the job and your safety is jeopardised due to cost cutting. You wouldn't stand for it in an office but this is the conditions you are expected to work under if you sign up to 'defend' the nation.
Not that there will be much defending, the emphasis seems to be much more on pre-emptive attacking against countries that are no threat to us.
If you are content to become little more than cannon fodder in either of the current Governments misadventures in the Middle East then go along, wave your little flag and be taken in by talk of 'doing your bit for your country'. Ask about your pitiful pension, the second rate care in case of injury and heaven forbid the way your family will be left to hang if you are killed in action. Most importantly ask yourself why the former recruits are leaving in droves at the first opportunity.
My advice is to take it for the cynical, disturbing and exploitative move of our armed forces by a Government desperate to drum up recruits for its questionable wars.
Go to college or University, start up a business or go work at a factory, do anything except be suckered in by these callously calculating and devious tactics.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Best Band In Heaven Revised

In light of the recent demise of Michael Jackson, it might be time to update a former post concerning the best line-up of dead musicians in heaven if St Peter ever decided to give Jesus a Happy Birthday concert.
Harking back a few years, i had Ron Wilson of the Safari's on drums purely on the strength of the excellent drumming in the song 'Wipe Out.
The bass player was Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzy, rhythm guitar was handed to Joe Strummer and lead to Jimi Hendrix with a warning to not do any of that weird feedback crap or he was out.
It was the choice of Freddie Mercury as front man that caused the debate. If it was down to me i would have told St Peter to go with the ultimate in cool Kurt Cobain but Freddie was undeniably more of a showman and had a great voice so i grudgingly handed him the mic and mumbled things about Sun City under my breath.
By all accounts they have been doing quite well, with the songs 'Sympathy for the Devil', 'Highway to Hell' and 'Friend of the Devil' being particular crowd pleasers but the question has to be asked, should Jackson now replace Freddie as the man front and centre of the best band in heaven?
Jacko had the dance moves while Freddie seemed to just run about a lot in spandex and do that trademark punch thing and vocally, the mustachioed one wins hands down so i wouldn't change the line up at all.
Maybe as a welcome gift to Jacko we can get them to play his 'Heaven Can Wait' single for him. I'm sure he'd appreciate that.

Bruce Is Back

When i think of Bruce Springsteen, admittedly not very often, i think denim and Courtney Cox in that Dancing in the dark video and Bruce's god awful dancing with her. In my mind he is safely back in the 80's along with Cyndi Lauper, ZZ Top and dayglo yellow leg warmers.
I always thought that he would be the sort of person who wore dusty cowboy boots and would put these abominations against fashion on the coffee table. Maybe he does, i don't know for sure but it might be safe to move it away from the sofa if he pops around.
Apart from a brief spell in the mid 90s with the song 'Philadelphia', the Boss and his hideous boots were a fading memory but now he pops up again in 2009 headlining the Glastonbury Festival.
I don't recall a time when Bruce was ever considered 'cool', maybe in America where songs like Born in the USA i presume resonated more, but as a teenager when he was at his height in the mid 80s, I just don't remember anyone demanding Springsteen at the school end of term disco.
He must have a wider appeal than i give him credit for because he is one of those artists who has been around for decades, albeit under my personal musical radar. It is good that the old acts get a chance to recapture their golden days although i hope that he doesn't drag anybody up onto the stage and dance with them because he may have been born to run but he certainly wasn't born to dance.
And for the last time, GET YOUR FILTHY BOOTS OFF THE TABLE!!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Michael Jackson

Shocking news reports that Michael Jackson has died from a suspected heart attack.
It is interesting how he is going to be remembered and whether it is the music, plastic surgery or his court cases that will be his legend.
He undoubtedly was talented but it was the events outside of music that drew the most attention.
The plastic surgery that made him look so freakish and the accusations of child abuse that saw him making appearances in court will probably overshadow his music and video's.

Looking Anything But Safe To Me

I take the rare position regarding Iraq that i bitterly opposed going in but take the stance that we are performing an equal injustice by now pulling out.
The sad fact is that car bombings and killings are an everyday occurrence in Iraq but it is only when scores are killed that it makes any sort of headlines now.
The 72 people killed and 127 injured in a bomb blast at a Baghdad market yesterday hardly got a mention at all, as if we have pulled out now so it isn't our problem anymore.
Same as the 73 people who died in a truck bombing outside a mosque last weekend, or the string of blasts that killed 27 people across Iraq on Monday.
In April, 60 people were killed outside a Shi'ite shrine just days before twin car bomb blasts killed 51 people in Sadr City.
The facts are that it was because of us that Al Queada poured into the country to perform their carnage. Now we and the Americans have declared Iraq safe enough to leave to it's fate. That's safe?
As i have said many times before, we owe the Iraqi's. We broke their country and we should have the backbone to stay until it is fixed. Anything else is morally abhorrent.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has told Iraqis not to lose heart if insurgent attacks increase as the imminent US military draw down creeps closer but he is probably in the safest place in the country. He, nor Brown or Obama, are going to be blown to kingdom come while browsing a market and if they can just brush off the high number of deaths as 'safe', then i fear for their sanity.
Iraq is not safe, it was a duck shoot when the troops were there and it is only going to be worse when the insurgents and terrorists get a free hand to bomb and kill at their leisure. We screwed the Iraqi's twice, once going in and again when we left.

The East Europeans Are Coming!

When it came to sport it used to be simple. Europe ruled football, America took the plaudits in boxing and Britain floundered around looking to blame everyone else when we did rubbish at everything except darts and snooker.
Now in the Confederation Cup, the USA football team have not only overhauled World Champs Italy in the group stages but have just knocked out Europe's best team in Spain to reach the final.
In heavyweight boxing it is the East Europeans now ruling the roost that America formerly claimed with all 4 of the Heavyweight titles firmly in the clutches of a couple of Ukrainian brothers and a Russian.
With Wimbledon dominating the TV schedules there is a very good chance that if you watch a woman's match, there will be an East European woman involved because suddenly woman's tennis seems to be swamped by them.
In the top 10 World female rankings, 8 hail from Eastern Europe, 5 of them Russian, with the 2 American William sisters making up the number.
A common criticism of the new breed of Champions from that side of the continent is that they are perfunctory, robotic and humourless which is in complete contrast to the razzmatazz and arrogance that Americans especially bought to sport events. It was this that made it especially sweet when they then lost. It seems that when one of the new breed of Eastern Bloc sports personalities win or lose, they keep it all under control which gets kinda boring.
I'd like to see one of the Klitchko's jump over the ropes, cartwheel around the ring and then recite a couple of rhyming couplets along the lines of that old joke about knocking his opponents teeth so far down his throat he will have to stick the toothbrush up his zhopa to clean them.
Can't see it happening though. Hard to find anything to rhyme with zhopa.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Leave It On The Shelf

I once made a comment about 'The Catcher in The Rye' not actually being that good and pondered if it was one of those things where people are afraid to say so because everyone else seems to think that it's a classic. Turned out people were not afraid to say i was some sort of dullard.
I'm about to say the same thing about a film that i haven't deliberately gone out of my way to avoid but have heard constantly is the high water mark of sci-fi, so when i saw the DVD in a supermarket bargain basket for £1.99, i threw it into my trolley.
I'm not much of a fan of sci-fi movies anyway but i was willing to give 2001: A Space Odyssey a chance, especially as it had Stanley Kubrick's name on the credits and he generally turned out good, if eccentric, films.
The initial 'Dawn of Man' sequence i understand but it went on for far too long and that set the precedent for the rest of the film. Docking sequences and space walks that just dragged on forever and added nothing to the film except to make it twice as long as it could have been. It felt like a 90 minute film with a thin plot dragged and stretched out to fill 140 minutes.
The part of the film i had heard about most was the HAL computer killing the crew when faced with being disconnected. Loved that idea but by the time that event comes about, it is two thirds through the film and i was numbed by scenes of spaceships floating painfully slowly through space to loud classical music.
I can appreciate what Kubrick was trying to do, showing the vastness and emptiness of space but i just found it tedious and i rewound the ending twice and still didn't understand what went on at the end.
Maybe it was me, admittedly almost everyone else i spoke to about it today just told me i 'just didn't get it' and maybe that's the case but i wouldn't recommend it to anyone very highly. I'd give Catcher in The Rye a wide berth also. Neither of these classics live up to their hype.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Blair Demanding Secrecy

I don't guess it comes as too much of a shock to anyone that Tony Blair wants the Iraq Inquiry to be held in secret. The obvious question is why would he want that? The only answer is that because he is unable to get away with this, as he seems to have got away with 'accidentally' shredding his expenses.
According to reports, the former Prime Minister has urged Gordon Brown that the long-awaited hearings should be held in secret to avoid becoming a 'show trial'.
Mr Brown faced heavy and sustained criticism for announcing that the inquiry would be held behind closed doors and was immediately pressured into a re-think by an array of senior political and military figures denouncing the decision.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: "If this is true about Blair demanding secrecy, it is simply outrageous that an inquiry into the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez is being muzzled to suit the individual needs of the man who took us to war - Tony Blair."
So if Blair is urging Brown to hold the Inquiry into the invasion of Iraq, be held in private, it simply reinforces the belief that he has something to hide and as he once replied when answering questions about his over zealous anti-terrorism laws: 'Those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear'.
Remember that line Tone? Feeling a tad uncomfortable about the whole thing?

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Wimbledon Fortnight

It's mid-July again so time to start the annual game of building up the chances of a British tennis player winning Wimbledon.
As Andy Murray is the only one anyone here knows, can i save some time and point out now how Andy Murray battled his way in a typically brave British manner to the latter stages before losing like the bottling Scotsman he is. There, now where's my strawberries?
Hang on, it seems that Britain's brave and talented Andy Murray has actually got a chance this year according to John McEnroe and a few other experts, especially now that Rafael Nadal has hobbled out of the tournament.
The English contingent of the British Isles does seem to have a bit of a love hate relationship with the dour Scotsman which wasn't improved when he said that he would "support anyone but England" at the 2006 World Cup. Canadian Greg Rusedki was never really accepted as a Brit, especially as we had 'Tiger' Tim Henman who was rubbish but was as English as afternoon tea and the Queen Mother while Greg sounded like he had just taken off his Mountie uniform and was stroking a Caribou.
So as fickle as us English are, whether Murray is a heroic Brit to cheer or a miserable faced Jock depends upon him lifting the trophy in two weeks time.
My money is on Roger Federer to win the thing and for Murray to stomp off court mumbling och aye the noo in the quarter's or semi's.
As for the women, Anne Keothavong is British number 1 which doesn't count for much as her number 49 World ranking underlines. Serena Williams to be handed the Women's Trophy by the Duke or Duchess of Kent.

UK Government Most Evil?

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared that the UK is the most evil Western Government during his Friday prayer sermon. I do wonder what he based this outrageous slur upon. Where's the evidence Mr Ayatollah?

Is it the couple of iffy wars that this Government has waged upon two countries either side of Iran?
Was it the bit where Tony Blair lied through his teeth to us to get the war he promised to George W Bush?
Could it be the nuclear power stations that we have but won't allow them to build, on pain of a bombing raid?
I don't believe it's the way our Government backs Israel and turns a blind eye to its murderous raids on Palestine.
Maybe he takes exception to us berating the lack of Democracy in his country by our own unelected leader.
Could it be the condemnation of the Iranian police handing out beatings and killings while dealing with the demonstrators while our own inquiry into Police brutality and unlawful killing at the G20 demonstration is going ahead?
Was it the bit where we defied the will of the International Community such as at the United Nations?
Has he taken offence to us leaving huge swathes of the middle east covered in depleted uranium?

See, you have nothing on us Mr Ayatollah. Most evil indeed. Pfft.
Now if you had said the most incompetent Western Government instead...

Friday, 19 June 2009

Obama And The Fly

I don't know if he did say it but the advice 'pick your battles wisely' sounds like something Machiavelli would have come up with. I am pretty certain that 'The Prince' is not on the bookshelf of many PETA offices but maybe they should keep a copy from now on with that particular sentence underlined and highlighted.
President Obama seems to have been on the end of a finger wagging from PETA for his slaying of a fly that was buzzing around him in a TV interview.
Now as i have previously stated, i throw things (my husbands things actually) at crane flies with the intention of killing them like some sort of shoe/newspaper/pillow flinging murderess. Usually i miss but the intention is there, damn my blood lust.
I can't get too worked up about Obama whacking a fly and nor should PETA because it just makes them look silly.
PETA should just forget it, move on and continue it's excellent work targeting the real villains. Keep the vitriol for the more deserving cases such as the hunters, animal abusers and fur wearers of the World who deserve it.
Anyway, if anyone should be wagging a finger at Obama it should be the writers of Bob the Builder from who Obama nicked his catchphrase.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Let's Have A Trial, Not An Inquiry

At long last Gordon Brown has initiated an inquiry into the Iraq War and we all shout 'yeah and about time' but what's this? It is to be held in private, by people with ties to the Labour Party and it will not apportion blame. What sort of half arsed inquiry is that then?
I can't speak for everyone else but i want blame apportioned and shouted from the rooftops and those blamed, metaphorically hung, drawn and quartered.
I don't want to see the likes of Sir Lawrence Freedman who wrote a memo on which Blair based a speech proposing war and Sir Martin Gilbert who stated that Blair and Bush may be seen as "akin to Roosevelt and Churchill" sitting on an inquiry team. I want experts such as top brass military, judges and human rights lawyers with no links to the Government passing judgement on those who made the decisions.
I want the full enquiry into how, why and when decisions were made to be made public and those responsible held accountable.
Unfortunately, looking at how Gordon Brown has set out his stall to hold this inquiry, we all know full well that we will not be told the whole truth and that there will be no accountability. It will just be another whitewash affair at an enormous cost to the taxpayer just like the Hutton inquiry.
So why are they bothering to have an inquiry at all? Let's hold a public trial. Put Tony Blair and the rest of them in a court, slap a Bible in their hands and let's hammer out who is to blame, whether it was legal and study the timeline of events before, during and after the invasion.
As has been proved time and time again, we can't trust the politicians to do the right thing and this is far too important for Gordon Brown to be allowed to hand over the whitewash to his friends on the inquiry panel.
Let's use good old British justice and do it properly.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Why Super Fast Broadband?

I expect my Internet story is the same as everyone else's. It began in the late 90's with a 56k modem which not only occupied the phone line but introduced me to the web and allowed me to hunt for pictures of David Boreanaz. Five years on and we upgraded to 1mb Broadband which significantly increased our ability to find bigger and better pictures of David Boreanaz at super speeds. Last year i paid the extra to double the Broadband speed to 2mb but saw no discernible increase in anything much. Pages and the David Boreanaz pictures still loaded in an instant, the blue download bar continued to move along with satisfying speed and Internet video's and radio played uninterrupted same as ever. I did wonder exactly what i got for my extra 1mb apart from a larger bill from Virgin media and the answer was that my pages loaded and downloads came down the wires nano seconds quicker.
This may be important to some impatient people who want their pages loading in 0.3 rather than 0.5 seconds but i don't mind having to wait the time it takes to blink for mine so i have to think what would we gain from rewiring the country so we all get super-fast broadband speeds?
It does seem to be a common theme that we apparently demand faster broadband and the Government have listened, acted and propose charging households with landlines an extra 50p a month to subsidise it.
"This shows how seriously the Government is taking this idea of a broadband roll-out to as many people as possible" some Government wonk muttered today before adding 'investment in the information and communications industries can underpin our emergence from recession".
The only people who i can see benefiting from it is those who download large files and those types seem to be the ones using Utorrent and Pirate Bay to get illegal films and software which the Government is promising to crack down on.
Am i missing something here or am i not with the times in demanding that my google search for David Boreanaz naked and rolled in marmalade is not coming back to me at the speed of light?

Vegetarian Day

Back in the 60s there was a rumour that Paul McCartney was dead and had been replaced by a look-alike. Apparently there were clues to this hidden in Beatles songs that became audible when played backwards but it quickly become clear after the Beatles split that it was only his song writing skills that was pushing up the daises.
To anyone under 35 he is probably most famous for dying his hair, singing that terrible frog chorus song and divorcing that one legged woman but he is also a well known vegetarian.
He is now one of the names putting their weight behind Meat Free Monday, which aims to persuade people to go veggie once a week to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the world's livestock.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, meat is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions which is more than all the cars, trucks, planes and ships in the world combined.
There does seem to be a movement towards vegetarianism after the Belgian city of Ghent announced its commitment to the cause by going vegetarian for one day a week rather than fiddle about with changing some light bulbs.
I'm a vegetarian so of course i agree with the message but people are not going to give up meat, even for a day, just because some scouse bass player asks them to even if it is for saving the planet.
We need sensible, grown up debate to bring across the masses so remember that you are what you eat. Enjoy that big, fat pig won't you.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Netanyahu's Stalling Tactics

Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will recognise a two-state solution to the Middle East peace process with the Palestinians. That's nice of him or so you think until you listen on.
"In any peace agreement, the territory under Palestinian control must be disarmed, with solid security guarantees for Israel," he said and that's fair enough as long as the solid security guarantees flow back the opposite way. Israel has a long history of not being able to keep its helicopters and soldiers out of Palestinian land.
Another condition was for Palestinians to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, effectively giving up the right of return for Palestinian refugees forcibly expelled from their homes by the Israelis in 1948 and meaning they must return to an already densely populated and rapidly shrinking Palestine.
This is the first time the Likud leader, Mr Netanyahu, has accepted the idea of a Palestinian state since becoming Prime Minister.
Thanks to American pressure which was been sorely lacking down the years, Netanyahu has been forced to ignore the line in the Likud manifesto which states quite clearly that 'the Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river'. Or so we are made to think.
Israel has history of speaking out of the side of its mouth when it comes to dealing fairly with the Palestinians, the usual trick is to drag their feet, make impossible demands while continuing to build the settlements on a sizable chunk of Palestinian land and then bleat that the Palestinians are not keeping to their side of the bargain, throw their hands up in the air and walk away and move Israelis into their shiny new settlement.
Netanyahu didn't mention the settlements despite them being the most contentious point in any discussions.
Back to the Likud manifesto which actually makes it clear that any Israeli settlements on Palestinian land will become the property of Israel, thereby reducing the amount of land they will actually hand over to any Palestinian Government when the two states comes about.
"The government succeeded in significantly reducing the extent of territory that the Palestinians expected to receive in the interim arrangement. The government will insist that security areas essential to Israel's defense, including the western security area and the Jewish settlements, shall remain under Israeli rule.'
That's pretty clear and explains why a year after the US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in Annapolis 2008, where Israel made a commitment to freeze settlement building in the West Bank, has actually seen a surge in construction since the meeting with work beginning on building another 1,223 private and state-backed housing units. The more they can grab before any agreement, the less land the Palestinians actually get to call home.
I don't think this is anything other than yet another ploy by the Israeli Government to drag things out as long as possible while continuing to chip away at what is rightfully Palestinian land.
Hopefully Obama will be wise to these tactics and not be taken in by the ruse, telling the Israeli Prime Minister that any negotiations include Israel not only ceasing settlement construction but dismantling the ones already illegally there and handing the Palestinians back what is rightfully theirs, not just a small part of it.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Iran Election Result

The problem with Democracy is that other countries, quite rudely, don't always elect who we want them to.
Iranians woke up today to find that the man they expected to be President, Mir Hussein Mousavi, has been surprisingly beaten by the incumbent President Amhadinerjad.
More than a few eyebrows have been raised by the speed at which the vote counters went about totalling the tens of millions of voting slips as to be able to give the nod towards Amhadinerjad having an unassailable lead mere hours after voting ended.
Mr Mousavi issued a statement dismissing the election result as deeply flawed and suggesting that there was a shortage of ballot papers and election monitors were not allowed enough access to polling stations.
With more than 90% of results in, the commission said he won 64% support in an election marked by high turnout which should have been more of a help to the opposition against a President blamed for many of Iran's problems at home and on the international stage.
Unless Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei steps in to force a re-election, and the chances of that happening are negligible, then we have another 4 years of Amhadinerjad which nobody expects to be any different from the past 4.
What's important now is that the three main players in the Middle East have been shaken and the dust has settled with a new American president, a new Israeli prime minister and a new mandate for the Iranian president.
It is even more important now that the pieces are in place, as objectionable as these pieces are in Israel and Iran, that America reigns in Israel and Iran accepts the hand of friendship America is offering because for the next four years the Middle East is going to be as volatile a place as ever unless the hardliners in Tehran and Jerusalem change their thinking.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Glass Houses And Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay and a carving knife. One is a large kitchen tool and one is just a large tool in the kitchen.
It was a very strange thing for the ill-mannered Scottish chef to attack the Australian TV female news presenter by questioning her sexuality, considering how he is the one with the caution for gross indecency in a public toilet.
Ramsay was arrested with two other male chefs in a toilet at London's Green Park Tube station in 1993 and cautioned for gross indecency. Oops. Was it a courgette in their pockets or were they just glad to see you Gordon?
On 5 June 2009, Ramsay started trading insults with Australia's Nine Networks journalist Tracy Grimshaw.
Ramsay questioned Grimshaw's sexuality and her looks saying a picture of a nude woman with multiple breasts on all fours with a pig's face resembled Grimshaw. Grimshaw hit back, calling him an "arrogant narcissist bully".
Very true Tracy, and yet he is so much more. Such as a lying, drink driving serial cheater who doesn't even cook his own food.

Lies: Ramsay makes much of being an 'ex-footballer'. He claims he was scouted whilst playing for Oxford United youth team although there is no record of Ramsay ever playing for Oxford United at any level. He also claims to have played twice for Rangers before a combination of injury and a premature release by first team coach, Archie Knox, put an end to a promising career. At the time, Knox was the manager Dundee. Ouch.

Drink driver: Ramsay was breathalysed, arrested and charged with driving under the influence of excess alcohol in London, 2002.

Serial cheater: Ramsay markets himself as a devoted family man but in 2008, the News of the World published details of a seven year affair between Ramsay and Sarah Symonds. Symonds then told of how Ramsay had been seeing other women behind his mistresses back as well.

Cheating Chef: It was recently revealed that Ramsay's restaurant, Foxtrot Oscar, used pre-prepared food that was heated up and sold with mark-ups of up to 586 per cent.

The sound of stones hitting his glass house must have been deafening which is probably why he issued a grovelling apology to the journalist, claiming it had been "blown out of context" and was "just a joke".
With the amount of skeletons rattling about in the Ramsay closet, he would do well to keep his big, obnoxious mouth shut. And stay out of tube stations toilets.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Thomas Paine? Never Heard Of Him.

The British don't talk about their defeats in war. We especially don't mention the American War of Independence although the part where we burnt down the White House tends to get a mention.
What many people here don't know is that it was an Englishman who was a major player in stirring up the colonies to refuse to pay their tax and throw our tea into the sea. The turncoat.
There are statues of him in Paris and New Jersey and a monument to him in New York and Napoleon Bonaparte said that 'a statue of gold should be erected to him in every city in the universe.' Those crazy Frenchies and their gold statues.
Thomas Paine died 200 years ago today but the name would be met with blank stares by the majority of the British population despite him being named as 'possibly the most influential writer in modern human history.'
Born in Norfolk, in 1737, Paine was a corset-maker, school teacher and excise officer before penning a pamphlet that demanded better pay and conditions for his fellow workers. Benjamin Franklin got wind of it and persuaded Paine to cross the Atlantic where he threw his lot in with those Americans calling for independence from Britain.
He published another pamphlet (weak wrists?) called Common Sense which put the case for democracy, against the monarchy, and for American independence from British rule which riled the colonists to demand independence.
One war and a charred White House later and Paine was bought into the early American Government and dashed off a few more pamphlets, including one stirring things up in France as the revolution there took hold.
He sailed to France and discussed with Napoleon on how best to invade England and wrote two more of those pamphlets, one with the snappy title 'Observations on the Construction and Operation of Navies with a Plan for an Invasion of England' and the more to the point 'The Final Overthrow of the English Government' in which he promoted the idea of 1000 gunboats carrying a French invading army across the English Channel.
He returned to America but when he wrote another (you guessed it) pamphlet attacking religion, the Americans took offence and the powers edged him out of the picture and sent him off to write all the flimsy pamphlets his quill wrecked wrists desired far away from the seat of power.
When he died his obituary read 'One by one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him. Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred – his virtues denounced as vices – his services forgotten – his character blackened. Death, almost his only friend.'
I would suggest that whether he is a man of vision who changed the World or just a pamphlet writing nancy who betrayed his country would depend upon which side of the Atlantic you are sitting on.

Die Crane Fly, Die!!

No matter how bleak the outlook, there is always a silver lining to every situation. Our liking for churning harmful chemicals into the atmosphere may well bring catastrophic weather conditions but at least if the human population goes, so will the hated Crane Fly.
Research from the RSPB leads them to conclude that because of global warming, the peat bogs are drying out and since the Crane Fly larvae need moist conditions to live, their numbers are falling dramatically.
I can't think of any other living thing that i would happily wipe out, but i would send the metaphorical rolled up newspaper into action without a moments thought to these critters.
As far as i know they are not dangerous like a mosquito or wield a sting like a wasp but they are just so damned clumsy and they fall apart at the drop of a hat.
Apparently, having detachable body parts is a defence measure which probably comes in handy in the garden but it doesn't do it much good against my husbands size 9 when i send it cartwheeling across the room. Not like i'm going to throw one of my own. Dead crane fly on the sole is not a good look.
The RSPB report also goes on to say that the Crane Fly has been around for over 50 million years but it seems they have met their match in big business and face a rapid decline. Not that much different to the rest of us come to think of it.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Tracing New Labour's Demise

The Thatcher years ended with her tear stained face peering out the window of the car as she was driven away.
The Blair years came screeching to a premature halt, removed by his own party for his insidious deception, but neither, as loathsome as they both were, faced the daily onslaught that Gordon Brown is having to endure.
I can't remember a time when British politics was such a must-see event with sackings, resignations and plots to take down the leader coming with such regularity.
It's not that i think Gordon Brown is a bad Prime Minister, not that i think he is a good one either, but he has spent his entire time firefighting ever since Tony Blair was forced to vacate the position.
Blame for the debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan lays squarely with Tony Blair but as his number two at the time, Gordon Brown also takes responsibility and that is where the Labour Party's, and Gordon's present problems, began.
The Labour Party swept into power in 1997 amid much cheer, the New Labour project being welcomed and the introduction of the tax credits system and minimum wage seeming to herald the beginning of a great and prosperous time where the growing inequality of the Conservative years would be bought back into balance.
The Conservatives were in disarray, Labour had a seemingly unassailable lead in whatever poll you cared to look at and even the scandal over the Bernie Ecclestone donation was forgiven with Blair performing his 'trust me, i'm a straight kinda guy' speech.
Then came the September 11th attacks and that can be traced to the day when Labours star began to fall and people began to openly question the Blair, Brown partnership and their actions.
The willingness to slavishly follow George W Bush into Afghanistan and then Iraq set half the country against Blair and his party. The polls fell with the Iraq inquiries dismissed as "establishment whitewash" by most of the media, Dr Kelly's suicide, Trident, stealth taxes, ID Cards, the growing surveillance society and the unelected Gordon Brown replacing the disgraced Tony Blair.
In his short time in charge, Brown has presided over the expenses scandal, 10% tax rate debacle, billion pound payouts to the financial markets, the non-referendum on the EU Lisbon Treaty, a recession and the 42 day detention bill.
Barring a miracle, the Labour Party are destined to spend a minimum of two terms on the opposition benches while the Conservatives take over and stick us with their right wing agenda and Brown would have every right to blame Blair for the mess he inherited but it is a mess that he was party to and was as much his own making.
I would be lying if i said i wasn't enjoying every twist and turn of the Labour Party's demise as much as i would hate being ruled over by David Cameron, until Labour removes all remnants of the old guard who so compliantly allowed Blair and Brown to lead us into illegal wars and took our tax payments as a personal cashpoint, then Labours only hope to continue as a force in British politics is to allow New Labour to whither and die and take the time to rebuild themselves, with the next generation of MP's, as the fairer and morally ethical party we thought we had elected in 1997 and been so thoroughly let down by.

Air France Flight 447 Conspiracy

There are some people who could be regarded as rather cynical with the things our Governments say. Roswell, 11th September attacks, the moon landings and JFK's assassination all have conspiracy theorists studying them and smelling something fishy and such is happening with the case of Air France flight 447.
I admit that it is an unusual case that the plane and its passengers has just disappeared without trace although the news is reporting that they have now retrieved 5 bodies, one of which luckily had their Air France tickets about their persons. That was a stroke of fortune because apparently the Atlantic is chock-a-block with junk from downed aircraft's. Original reports from Brazil that they had discovered seats from the wreckage were quickly dismissed as simply sea junk.
It also doesn’t help the mystery when 12 other planes, who were flying the same air route around the same time, did not report any problems with weather conditions.
There was also no distress call and Air France have confirmed 24 error messages were sent as the systems closed down one by one. As usual, we turn to the Internet to find out what the people think may have happened.

Terrorist attack. Unlikely as normal practise is for some group to claim responsibility almost immediately and as yet nobody has came forward.

Struck by lightning. Every expert and their dog has been on the television ruling it out, stating that modern planes can easily withstand a direct strike.

A series of unfortunate events. Unless it was almost immediate, there would have been time to send a distress signal.

Assassination. I am not aware of any big wigs among the passengers but this theory will grow some legs if it later appears that a person of dubious character was among the passengers.

Living on a desert island. Fans of 'Lost' really need to get out more.

The most unusual thing for me is that no wreckage has been found. Things float and an aeroplane the size of an airbus would leave a massive of debris and bodies bobbing about in the Ocean. I find it hard to believe that the plane hit the water and sank in one piece so where is it all?
It certainly is a conspiracy theorists dream.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Tiananmen Square 20 Years On

Twenty years ago today this picture was taken. A hunger strike by 3,000 students in Beijing had grown to a
protest of more than a million as a nation cried for reform. For weeks the people and the People’s Republic, in the guise of soldiers dispatched by the ruling Communist Party, warily eyed each other as the world waited. When this young man simply would not move, standing with his bags before a line of tanks, a real hero was born. The tank driver refused to crush the man, and instead drove his machine around him.
For a moment it looked as though the oppressive Chinese regime would follow the wave of other totalitarian regimes that were folding at that time in the late 80s.
Soon this dream would brutally end, and blood would fill Tiananmen. Two decades on and China has had something of a public relations make-over and everyone wants to be its friend but as it showed in Tibet not too long ago, not much has really changed.
This picture remains such an inspirational and powerful symbol of one person trying to make a difference against impossible odds.

I'm Actually Leaving Because...

How many ways can you say i got caught with my hand in the till so i'm resigning/being sacked in shame? With the rash of MP's being deselected or ordered to remove themselves from whichever political party they belong to, we have had some corking excuses from politicians lately, strangely, none of which seem to mention how they have been forced out after getting caught fiddling their expenses.

Nicholas & Ann Winterton, (claimed over £80,000 in rent for a flat that was owned by a trust controlled by their children) are actually resigning because of 'the hectic pace of political life and wanted to spend more time with the family'.

Douglas Hogg (claimed £2,000 for the moat around his estate to be cleared) is leaving because it was "time to select a new candidate to best represent local and national interests.'

Ben Chapman,(over-claimed payments for interest on the mortgage of his house by £15,000) is calling it a day because 'The publicity has been hurtful to my family, friends and local party members.'

Ian McCartney (claimed more than £16,000 for furniture) is off because 'My family have taken the brunt of the worry over my health.'

Andrew MacKay (double flipped his home with fellow MP Julie Kirkbride to claim double allowances) fell on his sword because 'I believe I could be a distraction at a time when David Cameron is working to get elected as prime minister'.

Julie Kirkbride (Double flipped with her husband & employed sister as her secretary despite her living 140 miles) is going because 'I must take into account the effects on my family.'

Margaret Moran (Claimed tens of thousands on decorating, repairing and furnishing 3 separate properties, switching between them in turn) is resigning because the scandal was "having a bruising effect upon my friends, my family and my health'.

Christopher Fraser (claimed £1,800 in expenses for 215 trees and fencing to surround his second home) explained that "My wife's health problems and the operation that she had last year have made it difficult to juggle my family life with my duties as an MP'.

Elliot Morley (claimed £800 a month for 18 months after his mortgage ended) is actually going because 'The last two weeks have been traumatic for me and I have to think of my family and my health, both of which have suffered.'

Jacqui Smith (designated her sister's home as her main home and claimed 2 porn films on expenses) is going because it is the "right thing for her family".

David Chaytor (claimed £13,000 for a mortgage that he had already paid off) is leaving his job because "I do not want my problems to be a distraction to my party's campaign as we move towards the general election.'

Beverly Hughes (claimed thousands for furniture) is off because of "a number of personal and family issues'.

Hazel Blears (claimed for 3 properties, flipped her homes in London 3 times in one year to avoid paying capital gains tax) citing a desire to "return to the grassroots, to political activism, and to the cut and thrust of political debate'.

My favourite has to be Anthony Steen who made a brave defence of his claim for over £87,000 for rabbit fencing, tree surgery, woodland consultants and bore hole maintenance. "I've done nothing criminal, that's the most awful thing, and do you know what it's about? Jealousy. I've got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral. As far as I am concerned and as of this day I don't know what the fuss is about. What right does the public have to interfere with my private life? None."

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Joining The EU

It's election day tomorrow but not the good one, it's the EU one which nobody seems to care much about seeing as the Conservative Party will remove us from it the day David Cameron gets his hands on the number 10 front door keys.
It seems that my fellow Brits don't much care for closer ties with Europe and i am very much in the minority when i say that we should join Europe lock, stock and barrel.
What the anti-Europe brigade don't seem to understand is that the United States of Europe is going to happen, it is inevitable so we have a choice. We can become part of the process and have a voice in the decisions that shapes and defines who we are and what we are doing or we can stay outside and be swept along with what others decide in our absence.
The next century will be dominated by China and America and the voices of countries likes Britain will be ignored as inconsequential. Europe has to be in there swinging as an influential major player on the big decisions that effect us all from future conflicts to the Environment and that means us Europeans joining together to become a global force of 800 million people because the alternative is Britain becoming that small island off the Coast of the Superpower withering to a painful demise.
We can kid ourselves that we have the required influence to go it alone and compete with the three massive blocs of a billion Chinese, 250 million Americans and 750 million Europeans but any politician who bangs that drum is misleading the voters because we can't and we would only be cutting off our noses to spite our faces to try.
The choice is to stay outside and let the likes of France and Germany decide the direction and we join a decade down the line when everything has already been decided or we climb aboard now and have a say in the direction we want to steer it.

Answering The Call

Any column that starts with the wise words 'Women - why aren't you running the world yet?' has got to be worth a read or rather, once we have finished the ironing and getting dinner ready that is.
Charlie Brooker may write a brilliantly funny column in the Guardian but he has come up with a humdinger of a plan.
'We don't need a few women in conspicuous positions of power scattered here and there - we need a 10-year prohibition on all forms of male power. A decade in which men don't get to control anything, from the remote control upwards' Sense at last from someone with a pair of testicles as he continues 'We've made a testosterone-sodden pig's ear of just about everything: politics, the economy, religion, the environment ... you name it, it's in a gigantic man-wrought mess.'
You can't argue with him, men truly have made a huge stinking mess of everything they have touched and we expect them to get us out of it? Ain't gonna happen so i fully back Mr Brooker's call for a mammary led revolution where women take the reins of power and lead us into an era of worldwide peace, love and friendship.
'Please, women, for all our sakes: we're just too bloody stupid to save the planet. Looks like you'll have to clean up our mess. Mankind's depending on you.'
Ok Charlie, we accept, but we had better make it after the weekend though because i got a nail appointment Saturday morning and I've got a pile of washing to do.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Taking The Blame For Susan Boyle Meltdown

The Susan Boyle story seems to have taken a nasty turn as she is taken to a clinic after concerns for her mental health and blame is being apportioned appropriately.
The media who hounded her, the Britain's Got Talent organisers for not protecting her and Susan Boyle herself are all being accused by each other for her meltdown.
I can't see how any blame can be attached to Susan herself. She had a dream of becoming a singer and went on a talent show to try to fulfill it. The fact that she has well known mental issues due to lack of oxygen at birth should not have stopped her from chancing her arm in the contest but it should of alerted the Britain's Got Talent organisers that Susan should have been handled with care.
Instead, they seemed more than happy to push her into the glare of the media and that is a dangerous game for anyone, let alone an unprepared woman with mental health issues from a small Scottish Town.
The media glare, as they well knew, and especially in Britain, is a double edged sword and maybe they thought that the good publicity would outweigh the inevitable bad when journalists started digging into her background.
When it all began to turn sour last week, she should have been removed from the spotlight and kept away from the pressure surrounding her.
Judge, Piers Morgan, said Boyle had told him that she had "spent most of the week crying, throwing up, not sleeping and generally feeling the weight of the world’s pressures on her" and Psychologists were warning prior to the shows Final that she risked suffering from mental harm following her amazing rise to prominence.
Despite reacting to her defeat calmly on screen, she apparently ran amok backstage after the contest, screaming and attacking a floor manager who tried to calm her down.
The blame has to fall squarely on the shoulders of the Britain's Got Talent team who shamelessly exploited Susan Boyle to publicise their program and maximise the lucrative telephone vote and now owe it to her to make sure she gets the long term help needs as a direct consequence of appearing on their programme.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Happy Birthday Alanis Morissette

There are some singers that hang around for years not doing very much and then suddenly they have one massive hit where they punch all the right buttons before inexplicably slipping back to near obscurity again.
Even worse is when the first album is the big one and then everything that follows is a disappointing pale shadow and that's exactly what happened with Alanis Morissette.
Her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill was a barnstorming debut album. The brilliantly angry 'You Oughta Know' and the belting 'Ironic' were gems in a not very inspiring time for music.
The likes of Madonna, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion were doing their pleasantly innocuous thing at the time but Alanis came along and for a few years blew them out of the water.
Unfortunately, her next effort 'Supposed Infatuation Junkie' was so far removed from its predecessor that it was hard to believe it was the same artist. 'Under Rug Swept' continued the slide and it became obvious that she had peaked with her first album. Her latest effort limped to Number 15 in the UK Album Chart before tanking and the single "Underneath" reaching number 99.
She did do a great MTV Unplugged session but i can't help feeling that Alanis is yet another singer that initially seemed to offer so much but ended up producing so little of worth.