Wednesday, May 31, 2006


The Wonderful Wit And Wisdom Of Kevin, Part 1

I'll be honest with you, I've had a bit of block again. I've got about ten ideas for posts, some of which are already written, but they're a bit mmmmmmmnnnhhhhmmnnnhh.

As a consequence, in an attempt to keep this blog tiding over, I'm going to provide you with some wholly unoriginal work. There may end up being a few of these if I remain bereft of inspiration.

Nobody is as much of a master at the sporting comment faux pas as former England manager Kevin Keegan. Glenn Hoddle was famously sacked from the England job for some rather unfortunate things he said, but compared to ol' Kevin, he was a model orrator and a bastion of PC cautiousness.

So, anyway, take it away Kevin:

'In some ways, cramp is worse than having a broken leg. But leukaemia is worse still. Probably.'

Monday, May 29, 2006


My Feet Hurt

Had a tough weekend this weekend, since I've been out on two long nights at Sankey's, Manchester's finest nightclub. As a result, my feet hurt. Badly. I'm thinking of ringing 118888 and seeing if they can get the number of a farmer who could lend me a pony or something.

Great time I had, too, especially at Jeff Mills on Friday, who was extra-wonderful, so I'm in happy places at the moment. Had to be, 'cos they're closing for a while soon. Adding a 'cinema'.

What, a real one? No idea. Probably just TV screens inside. I once went to a club in Madrid called Joy that had television screens inside. It was quite bizarre, watching all these Spanish people doing Conga lines with a silent Charlie Chaplin film playing in the background. Then - and I think you'll agree, this is a stroke of genius - they put on a video of 'Birdman of Bognor'.

For those poor foreign readers who have never experienced the delights of 'Birdman', it is a competition in which contestants attempt to devise a human powered flying machine. The prize is awarded to the person who glides for the longest distance after running off the end of Bognor Regis pier. Of course, all these wannabe Icaruses end up in the briny drink, usually after about twenty metres. Here they are in action:

This, I have to say, filled me with no end of patriotic pride. I wanted to stand up and yell, 'EVERYBODY - THIS IS MY COUNTRY!' Fortunately, I didn't.

Anyway, there is no point to this rambling. Feel free to insert your own narrative if you wish.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Big Bollocks-Up

Well, I sure am thankful that I don't work on 'Big Brother'. It's beginning to look like the show is in meltdown. Two people have gone in the first week, before even the first eviction, and the housemates have clearly begun to cotton on to the fact that if they don't want to face the vote, they can just bugger off and ignore the indignity of it.

Clearly, the awarding of whatever clothes they could remember to Bonnie and Glyn is just in order to get them through until tomorrow night.

Rather more seriously, you have to question some of the contestants they've picked this year. Via Dave Weeden, we learn that at least three of the housemates have a somewhat questionnable past:

Shabhaz: was beaten up in an 'honour' attack by his own Dad. He allaegedly also sexually pestered people at his local gym.

Lea: has body dysmorphia, and has tried to kill herself twice.

Nikki: lied about coming fourth in Miss Hertfordshire 2004. She never entered. Like Lea, she also had a breast enlargement because she felt bad about herself.

On a personal level, I really can't stand the sound of Nikki's voice. She talks like a ten year old, and she's so credulous it's embarrassing. If you told her 'gullible' had been taken out of the dictionary, she'd believe you. Except that she probably doesn't know what gullible means. Imagine living with that voice - it really would drive me mental. Didn't know that she had a lesbian lover, though, or that she'd cheated on her with that deadbeat of yesteryear Pete Doherty.

Nikki's former girlfriend.


Poor Form

God spare me from these trendy companies and their application forms. I applied for a job today, and the first question on the form was:

'What is the naughtiest thing you have ever done?'

I have little idea how to answer that. I don't even know why they care. I struggled since most of mine have been illegal in some shape or form.

One of the others was:

'To what lengths would you go to get this job?'

Again, how do you answer that? I told them I would pay them a small fee for it. In retrospect, that might have been a mistake, but I'd had a few drinks when I filled it in. Let's hope that they aren't actually allowed to follow through on that. I think they were hoping applicants would write something about taking their clothes off and doing star jumps outside the entrance, but bugger that.

Feel free to tell me how you would have answered those if you like.


Channeling Charles, Part 2

The thinking about Dickens here got me thinking about a passage from 'Hard Times' that I always think of when I consider identity cards:

"'Girl number twenty,' said Mr Gradgrind, squarely pointing with his square forefinger, 'I don't know that girl. Who is that girl?'

'Sissy Jupe, sir,' explained number twenty, blushing, standing up, and curtseying.

'Sissy is not a name,' said Mr Gradgrind. 'Don't call yourself Sissy. Call yourself Cecilia.'

. . .

'. . . Give me your definition of a horse.'

(Sissy Jupe thrown into the greatest alarm by this demand.)

'Girl number twenty unable to define a horse!' said Mr Gradgrind, for the general behoof of all the little pitchers. 'Girl number twenty possessed of no facts, in reference to one of the commonest of animals! Some boy's definition of a horse. Bitzer, yours.'

. . .

'Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.' Thus (and much more) Bitzer.

'Now girl number twenty,' said Mr Gradgrind. 'You know what a horse is.'"

'Hard Times' is the most widely derided of Dickens' works, unfairly in my opinion. It is true that it lacks subtlety, that its characterisations are broad and that no solutions are offered to the problems the narrative identifies, yet it provides an effective social commentary that resonated strongly at the time of its release. It was immediately succesful, and the serialisation format was, at this particular time, a help rather than a hinderance in disseminating the product. As a consequence, it is worthy of study.

So, why does the passage above remind me of my objection to identity cards? Mr Gradgrind's obsession with facts, facts and nothing but facts, to the extent that he treats the children in front of him as mere numbers demonstrates his contempt for them as people. Sissy Jupe is not a rounded individual whose story interests him, she is a repository for the knowledge that he believes she needs. In such a manner, Gradgrind reduces her humanity to a set of manageable figures. Even after knowing her name, he still calls her 'girl number twenty'. Sissy has lived with travellers all her life, she knows perfectly well what a horse is, and she has no need to reduce the horse to its bare attributes. By contrast, Bitzer has little concept of what a horse really is other than as a list. Contrary to Mr Gradgrind, it is Bitzer's knowledge that is unnatural and problematic. I still don't know what 'graminivorous' means, yet I know perfectly well what a horse is. This is because people have an instinctive knowledge for comprehending the natural world, of which we are, after all, a part, and that knowledge need not be expressed in words - indeed, it may well not be possible to fully express it in words.

Identity cards attempt to achieve a similar goal to Mr Gradgrind's teaching style. The government wish to collate facts about our lives, more facts than ever before, yet these facts must inevitably be taken out of any contextual framework. The government already possesses endless details about every small aspect of our lives - the one saving grace of the current situation is the sprawling, inneficient bureaucracy that makes any actual use of all that data in any co-ordinated way difficult. Since I both believe that the government will do more harm than good with such a variety of data, and that that bureaucracy should be reduced, it is only inevitable that I believe the amount of data the government collects on us should be correspondingly reduced. Ipso facto, identity cards are a step in completely the wrong direction.

This is my primary reason for objecting to the introduction of the cards, yet it is far from the only - and frankly, far from the best - reason. A much larger list can be found here.

Worth fighting against.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


'These Voices, These Voices, I Hear Them, And When They Talk I Follow'*

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following post about 'Big Brother' was written after tonight's show but - crucially - before I knew the big news. I have to say, I'm somewhat surprised that Shabhaz walked, simply because I presumed he was too much of a drama queen to avoid 'attempting' several walkouts before he actually did it. When Jack Dee left, he had to climb the fence. Shabhaz just strolled out. The reason, I suspect, that they didn't try and prevent him is his bizarre veiled suicide threats. Maybe he really is more confused than I give him credit for below. Sadly, his departure makes some of the content below a bit redundant, and some of it downright wrong, but I rather like this post so it's going up anyway.

'Big Brother' now faces a problem. With the man who was clearly the largest personality in the house gone, they have to fill the void with a bunch of people who suddenly don't seem terribly interesting without their feud with Shabhaz to fuel them. Bonnie's imminent eviction is a step in the right direction. Bonnie has been so cosmically dull that she has only mustered four pieces of news in the last four days on the website. She hasn't even followed through on her promise to get her kit off. However, even with her gone, the house is going to struggle this year. Entirely by the by, I think the Big Brotherhood is the worst idea that they've ever come up with, because it has meant that over half of the housemates simply don't need to form alliances and double-deal with each other. I hope it never returns.

Richard made a couple of interesting comments in 'Big Brother' today. In one, he opined that Shabhaz had gone 'completely mad'. In the other, in the Diary Room, he said that he wanted Shabhaz out not just because he'd been acting like a twat, but also because he was damaging the nations' perception of gay men, by fulfilling every negative cultural stereotype that we have.

I can see where he's coming from on both counts. Shabhaz has acted in a manner that the word 'strange' doesn't begin to cover, yet I don't believe him to be mad. Instead, he has three problems. Firstly, he mugs to the cameras all the time, concentrating upon audience perception rather than housemate relations. The truth is, however, he's a crap actor, and anyway the programme would collapse if all the housemates simply played to the cameras and not to each other. Secondly, he vocalises every thought he has the minute it comes into his head. This is inevitably going to lead to trouble. Finally, he just doesn't learn from his mistakes. If he pisses someone off, he'll sort of apologise, wait ten minutes and piss them off again. It can't work as a long-term strategy.

Instead of being mad, I actually believe he's very clever, and somewhat cynical. His profile on Channel 4 reads:

'In the words of Oscar Wilde 'Know thyself' - I do and I sleep well at night for this knowledge'.

Either this is true, and he is just acting the goose for the hell of it, or else he is in deep, deep denial. The truth is that he has to be reasonably well read to know that quote, and he doesn't actually seem lacking in any factual knowledge in the way that, for example, Nikki most definitely is.

So how about Richard's second allegation. I believe that here there really is a case to answer. There is an idea in sexuality studies called 'queerying the discourse'. This, essentially, concerns the attempt made my by gay rights advocates over the last twenty-five to thirty years to 'reclaim' negative words applied to gay people and gay culture. The most obvious example is the word 'queer' itself. Queer is an inherently negative adjective, alienating a group from an apparently defineable social norm. Yet the word 'queer' is now celebrated by gay culture - so we have Queer Studies, 'Queer As Folk', etc etc. Queer has come to be seen as defining gay men and women in a postive way - the social norms they are outside of are those that are negative, crime and violence and so forth.

This idea is somewhat controversial, particularly when applied to race. I seem to recall a media argument between Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino at the time of the release of 'Pulp Fiction'. The argument concerned the free and easy use of the word 'nigger' in the film, and the argument was over whether, by frequent repetition and humorous usage you remove any polemical value from a derogatory word, or whether that usage simply perpetuates currently residing racist attitudes.

Of what relevance is this to Shahbaz, you ask? Well, Shahbaz has spent most of the last few days, including in his entrance video, describing himself as a 'wacky Paki poof'. He continues, whether deliberately or not, and I believe it is the former, to make it seem as if he is trying to prove a political point by being in the House. So, when people disagree with him, he makes a sly suggestion that homophobia is a part of the reason. In a conversation with Dawn, he claimed that seeing someone like him in the house would challenge British peoples' attitudes.

I'm sorry, but I'm with Richard on this one. Shahbaz fulfils every negative stereotype about gay men that used to exist, and might have done more to damage the nations' perception of gay men and gay culture than anything since AIDS. He is flighty, touchy-feely to the point of perversion, catty, argumentative, silly, too willing to mug to the audience and he has mood swings that would make a pregnant woman blush. All of which would be annoying anyway, but it's elevated to an importance so much higher than that because of the manner in which he has made his appearance into a moment of political poignancy.

Richard is right - Shahbaz is a fount of negative stereotypes, and he should go as soon as possible. Sadly, this daft Big Brotherhood idea means he can't be evicted this week, so unless he follows through on his threats to walk out, which I believe he won't do, because they seem just a part of the act, then we have him making headlines for another ten days. Joy of joys.

Richard seems an altogether nicer man. I quite like him really. The sort of bloke I could imagine being friends with - though frankly, Sezer the geezer makes all of them look nice.

*Eminem & Dr Dre, 'Guilty Conscience'

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Channeling Charles, Part 1

This is a very intelligent post, and not just because the writer praises me (though obviously that helps!)

In dealing with the subject raised here, he or she points out the following very pertinent Dickens extract (from 'Great Expectations'):

'"Estella thinks I’m a nosey busybody,” said Ms Havisham. “But I’ve seen her walking on the street holding hands with a boy, and I’m not about to take advice from a whore.”'

This rather neatly skewers the judgementalism that ASBO TV promotes. Suddenly, it is possible for people to know much more than is desirable about their neighbours. Ms Havisham would love ASBO TV. She could make all the judgements she so relishes with much more ease. Instead of relying on what little she can see without leaving the house and gossip, she could just turn the telly on and the world would be at her fingertips.

Matt, a couple of weeks ago, drew a parallel between my post on ASBO TV and the one on 'Big Brother'. That parallel certainly exists in the personage of 57-year old Jan Ashby, who admitted to the 'Telegraph':

'I must admit I have watched it every day since I have had it'.

Ms Ashby also admits to being a 'huge fan' of 'Big Brother'. Sadly, my rather bludgeoning attempts to make her seem like a despicable voyeur are bound to struggle with the fact that one of my next posts will be about 'Big Brother', of which I too am a 'huge fan'. Make of that what you will.

The writer of the first link points to a book I'd never heard of, let alone read, called 'The Transparent Society' by David Brin. Per Wikipedia:

'He argues that it would be good for society if the surveillance is equal for all, and the public has the same access as those in power. He bases this argument upon the claim that the most dangerous and corrupt abuses of power go hand-in-hand with a lack of accountability and transparency.'

He may wish to correct me if I misrepresent him here, but this seems to be similar to SafeTInspector's comment to my post:

'The reason this might be better than 1984 or Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany is that the power is completely decentralized. Everyone knows that everyone is being watched and everyone is allowed to partake of the watching.'

I'm glad he made that comment, because I do like a bit of Devil's advocacy. What's more, it is a perfectly reasonable position. Brin appears to argue that leaving surveillance up to 'them' only (where 'them' inevitably means agents of the state) means granting more power to our rulers than is desireable - consider how much they fuck up with power they already have.

On one level I actually prefer this viewpoint to my own - surveillance is here, perhaps it would be best if we try to live with it, and as a libertarian, it would surely be better for the private individual to have a hand in policing matters than for the state to monopolise it. However, I remain committed to my position for two reasons: firstly, while this government has done everything it can to remove accountability from the criminal justice system (particularly by the pernicious removal of trial by jury), CCTV evidence still has to be judged in a court of law, and for as long as Blair has to compose speeches attacking judges as obsessed by civil liberties, then the courts are still doing their job. Secondly, on a less practical and more ideological plane, adopting that position would mean accepting defeat. However, I am an eternal optimist (ha!) and I refuse to lose my idealised vision of a society with drastically reduced surveillance (or better still, none at all).

However, there is good news. Debuting at the Cannes Film Festival is a British film called 'Red Road'. This is exciting for two reasons. Firstly, it is allegedly really good. Secondly, its director recently had this to say:

BBC News: 'Cannes director urges CCTV debate'

This is happy stuff. The article reveals one staggering fact - Britain allegedly has 4.2 million CCTV cameras. This is 20% of the worlds total for about 0.1% of its population. One camera for every fourteen people. How has this come about?

Does this film represent a silver lining for the cloud?

Monday, May 22, 2006


Not Earning Their Stripes

This is Ally McCoist and Andy ('a few bad results and they are staring down the barrel of a sack') Townsend pitchside at the half-time interval of the Champions League Final:

Ignoring for a moment the fact that Townsend looks as if a pigeon has just flown up his nose, who the hell thought it would be a good idea to send them out in non-matching pinstripes?

By the way, I have cursed England: counting the FA Cup final, the UEFA Cup final, the Champions League Final and the Championship Playoff final, I'm 0 and 4 for the teams I've wanted to win. England will timidly exit in the quarter finals.


The Worlds Longest Meme!

Matt of the ever excellent Saving The World (blogroll it now!) has tagged me with one of these meme things.

I am very ticklish.

I want Franka Potente to know that I'm not mad she still hasn't emailed me for a date.

I wish my beard didn't grow.

I hate CCTV cameras. So there.

I love the first gulp of a can of cold lager.

I miss out on whispered conversations because I'm going deaf.

I fear nothing. Except that Gordon Ramsay might get yet another show, because I can't stand him.

I hear worryingly little these days. Particularly quiet DVDS since my stand-by TV is mono. It may actually be an antique.

I wonder whether or not Alex Ferguson has any blood vessels in his nose that haven't burst.

I regret getting a credit card. The fuckers have had £200 off me in late fees this year alone. This is part of a gigantic conspiracy against the disorganised.

I am the proud owner of a Tsingtao beer glass, courtesy of one of my commenters.

I dance with too much clicking. Gotta stop the clicking. And clapping.

I sing so out of tune that you wouldn't believe.

I cry with laughter when I see newsreaders fuck up. I don't know why, I just do.

I am not a forty year old male who lives in Carbondale, Illinois with a pet giraffe.

I make with my hands nothing. I'm shit with crafty stuff. I can't cook either.

I write about three words every week on the world's most slowly advancing novel.

I confuse - dunno. I suppose I'm confused about just what it is that people see in R&B music.

I need a shag.

I should try potatoes again, but something about them just puts me off. So sue me.

I start arguments too often.

I finish badly, with little to say.

I'll be fucking amazed if anybody read all that. If you did, congratulations, though I'd think about finding a more productive use for your time. I'm not going to bother tagging anyone specifically - I'd only get it wrong, and anyway this one takes fucking ages, but if you want to do it, go ahead and use me as a referrer.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Animal House

Well, that time of year is upon us again, Ol' Nick has arrived, and he's brought us, for the next thirteen weeks, 'Big Brother'. This programme is arguably the only thing in the whole world that is both more annoying than Gordon Ramsay and more addictive than crack cocaine. The number of times last year I found myself lying, prone and half asleep at half past two in the morning watching a bunch of people I couldn't stand get their forty winks, it's just not even funny.

The seasons pass, and times change, but 'Big Brother' hasn't changed with the times. The contestants (subjects) are as dippy as ever, although already Shabhaz is clearly going to the single memorable character. He is intriguingly mental. It takes quite something for him to be considerably more hyper than Tourette's sufferer Pete, but there you go, he's managed it.

The other contestant who is particularly noticeable is Lisa. Dear oh dear. You look at her, and she isn't the most beautiful person who ever lived, but she does look reasonably elegant (read: I wouldn't say no). Then, however, she opens her gob. Imagine eating a really tasty salad, and then finding of dollop of pig shit in the middle of it, and that's Lisa's voice. How can anyone sound that rough? I mean, I live in Manchester, but even I can't stand her guttural screechings.

I have one single hope for the series, which is that Richard and Shabhaz have sex on-air. I'm not generally to be found looking for man-on-man action, but were it to occur, it would be fun to watch Mediawatch's collective heads explode, or see them packing their cases and moving to Alabama or Iran.

Normally I express hope for lots and lots of female nudity, but I don't know, I don't even think it seems very likely that we'll have much this time. Dawn is too old, Grace is too posh, Nikki, if she has any sense, which she probably doesn't, ought to realise that appearing naked would make her damaged goods for the Premiership footballers she so desperately wants to marry, and that leaves Imogen, who is too good looking, and anyway Miss World contestants never strip off, and Lea, who is too frightening to contemplate. That leaves Bonnie and Lisa, who are sure bets.

As to who will win the bloody thing, who cares? It matters to the contestants because there's money in it, but it hardly matters to anyone else. It's not even as if the contestants impose upon us very much when they leave any more. Who has heard from last year's contestants like Mary and Derek since their eviction? Not me. Meanwhile, those that do get media exposure (the winner, basically) invariably fuck it up so badly - see Anthony presenting CD:UK - that they make even Vernon Kaye look talented. That's quite an achievement.

Maybe at some point in the next thirteen weeks I might share with you my plans for a re-design of the 'Big Brother' house. I say maybe, because I might send them off to Channel 4 first. You never know, there might be money in it.

Certainly a talking point.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Censor And Censorbility

I have been drinking all afternoon (surprise, surprise) and I have been punished. I have an absolutely horrible headache. Consequently, you can imagine my delight, when, upon perusing yesterday's copy of 'The Metro', I found in the mail section a letter from Y Wallner of Kent who is clearly trying to inject a bit of humour into Britain's dry censorship debates. God knows it needed it.

Sadly, however, 'The Metro' doesn't have the letter on its website, so I'm going to have to reproduce it in full. I hope you appreciate my commitment here.

'The Government's discussion of whether or not to teach citizenship at schools (Metro, Tue) has rekindled the debate over the nature of British values.'

'These values are clear to everyone of the 40-and-above age group, for whom a certain level of behaviour is acceptable. To go beyond this level is wrong. As these people were growing up, the British media had a huge influence. Magazines, TV, and films portrayed - primarily - respect, family, wholesomeness and, most of all, the innocence of youth. But it has taken only one generation to replace these virtues with coarse, vulgar and anti-social behaviour, binge-drinking, bullying, football hooliganism and the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe.'

'You only have to watch the television programmes such as EastEnders, Big Brother, Catherine Tate and Little Britain to see atrocious behaviour and language. Of course, irresponsible broadcasters will say they're only mirroring the world - while hooligans think it is acceptable because they saw it on TV.'

'Something must be done now to turn this around. If broadcasters and parents are unable or unwilling to act, then the state must. To re-instate important values, may I suggest we start with the basics? Make civic and citizenship education a subject from pre-school through to primary level. Children should be taught respect for every aspect of life and good values. This dreadful situation won't be eradicated overnight but if it took one generation to create it, then it can take just one generation to turn it around.'

This is so stupid I half believe it's a parody. However, just on the off chance that it isn't, or that there is some cretin reading this who was nodding sagely while reading it, let's give it a good seeing-to. From the top:

'. . . the debate over the nature of British values.'

As you will recall, there is no such thing as 'British values'.

'These values are clear to everyone of the 40-and-above age group. . .'

These absurd generalisations are clear to everyone of the 40-and-below age group.

'As these people were growing up, the British media had a huge influence.'

Uhm, aren't we supposed to be chiding the media for having too much influence now?

'Magazines, TV, and films portrayed - primarily - respect . . .'

Ah yes, all those old classics that were based upon respect. Like 'Fawlty Towers', 'Porridge' and ''Allo 'Allo'.

'. . .it has taken only one generation to replace these virtues with coarse, vulgar and anti-social behaviour, binge-drinking, bullying, football hooliganism and the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe.'

Actually, the reason I've been drinking all afternoon is because there's fuck all on telly, not because I was inspired by it.

Oh, yeah, and another thing. People are learning football hooliganism off the telly? I don't think so. A film promoting hooliganism is one of the few films left banned in Britain. Meanwhile, Cockney 'ard man Ray Winstone is busy admonishing us to be nice to the Germans. (By the way, that article contains the following brilliant line about a character Winstone played recently: 'Winstone degenerates into a swearing, gibbering, paranoid lunatic - a cross between King Lear and Peter Reid'. Comedy gold!)

'You only have to watch the television programmes such as EastEnders, Big Brother, Catherine Tate and Little Britain to see atrocious behaviour and language.'

Yes, if there's one thing that's for certain, it's that Britain's hooligans have been inspired by 'The Catherine Tate Show'.

'Of course, irresponsible broadcasters will say they're only mirroring the world - while hooligans think it is acceptable because they saw it on TV.'

Because the news never criticises hooligans, does it? Presumably the nations murderers were inspired by the coverage of Fred West and Harold Shipman.

'Something must be done now to turn this around.'


'If broadcasters and parents are unable or unwilling to act, then the state must.'

Oh no you don't, you horrible statist sod! Get your fucking government away from me!

'Make civic and citizenship education a subject from pre-school through to primary level.'

Baby Brian: 'Goo goo gaa gaa!'
Nursery Nurse: 'Bad Brian! It's goo goo gaa gaa, pretty please! Now go and do forty press-ups in the Naughty Corner.'

'Children should be taught respect for every aspect of life . . .'

I believe this is a repressed call for much more nudity and plenty more fart jokes on television.

'This dreadful situation won't be eradicated overnight but if it took one generation to create it, then it can take just one generation to turn it around.'

Dad: 'Here, Steve, why don't you drop one of these pills, have a line of coke, wank off to a porn movie, make a teenage girl pregnant and then beat up a Wrexham fan on the street?'
Steve: 'Oh no Dad, I don't want to have fun like you did when you were young.'

Mr Fletcher is ready to begin your citizenship class now, children . . .

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Commercial Breakdown

Decided to catch 'Slither' tonight. Since it's a comedy horror, I figured I'd make it as close to a midnight movie as possible, and caught the last showing of the day, which is how God intended horror films to be viewed.

When you think about it, cinema-goers are in the best possible position for people to sell you things, which is why the ads and trailers now go on for up to twenty-five minutes before the film. However, tonight, I was in the screening all alone. Consider: I now have my own back on all those companies, particularly those who paid for that space to advertise a product I'm just not interested in. This is just about as liberating and radical as I think you can feel today - seriously, try it some time.

So, for instance, I'm not going to buy a Toyota Yaris on the basis of this advert. What's more, I question whether you can actually fit even a baby elephant into the boot of it. Similarly, I'm not going to buy a perfume from Emporio Armani on the basis of an advert featuring a woman so thin I hear several Sudanese refugees are trying to stage an intevention for her.

On to the trailers, and I have some problems here. To whoever made the trailer for 'Stay Alive' - congratulations for producing a trailer that apparently contained every single plot twist in the film. Maybe next time, try making a trailer that actually makes me want to see the film, not believe I've seen it already. Although, of course, now I don't need to see it, and that's reputedly no bad thing. Also, I should like to point out that I may have seen 'Half Light' before too, since it's trailer makes it look like an exact copy of 'The Dark'.

What of 'Slither', I hear you ask? Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it, which is to say I felt ill most of the way through it. I'm sorry, but body-invasive alien slugs are an unappetising proposition. Great stuff. Also, how could anybody dislike a film where the town's saloon is called Henenlotter's? To be honest, there's not much more to be said than that. If you like comedy horrors, you'll love it, if you don't, you won't. The only other point worth noting is that the films apparent box office failure stateside has allegedly caused some of the studios to re-think whether more horror comedies is a good idea. Well, at least we went out with a bang. Or a gurgle, more like.

The one thing Janine found off-putting about Ray was the size of his spermatoza.


It's just occurred to me that surely 'Half Light' can only be like 'The Dark' if you're normally used to double-light.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Eden For A Moment

'Tis sad, 'tis sad, 'tis sad. After just four episodes, the latest series of 'Wife Swap' has ended. I am, to put it bluntly, distraught. If you will recall, I am something of a fan of 'Wife Swap'.

This series has been particularly inspired. By far the best episode featured a former American serviceman named Brian who insisted on having his wife vacuum the rug in his living room every day and never let anybody walk on it. He was a classic.

The trouble, of course, is that there are only so many people out there willing to have their family life dragged over the coals for the prurient entertainment of people like me. As a consequence, they have had to start begging for people to sign up at the end of each programme. Channel 4 seem to have a bit of a problem with running out of people/contestants/subjects for these programmes - 'Grand Designs' was reduced to pleading as well. So, on behalf of couch potatoes everywhere, let me say: please, please, please, nutters, do sign up! Where would we be without you?

There was once a rumour on the internet, which I can't find any more, that the producers were aiming to do an episode with naturists and religious fanatics. It hardly needs saying that I think this would be the best idea ever. Unfortunately, a search for the relevant webpage on google with the terms '"Wife Swap" naturist religious' just brings up millions of links to pages containing videos of choirgirls taking it up the arse, which are diverting in their own way, but not terribly pertinent.

As ever, I shall live in hope, but I'm begging Channel 4, please produce more of them as fast as possible. Without my shot of family swapping mayhem, I'm an incomplete man.

What we now have to look forward to is 'Big Brother', which starts on Thursday. Cracking! With any luck, I shan't be watching the opening night, as I aim to be getting pissed instead, but I'm hopeful that they will produce as eclectic a selction as possible. Sadly, Channel 4 shut down more or less everything else during the course of BB, which rather puts paid to the 'King Of The Hill' re-runs I've been enjoying lately, instead to be replaced by the sight of some illiterate cretin snoozing. Still, such is life, and it only goes on for about seven months.

Jo, on the left, who was on tonight, seemed like a fairly typical woman from the Midlands. You don't realise how terrible Brummir accents are until you leave. It's all, 'so I told her, I said, 'fook that then''. In Stourbridge, my home town, women who sound like this can usually be found at the bus station dropping fag ash into their kids prams. Still, I rather liked Jo, who was pleasingly laid back about things. We need more though!

Sunday, May 14, 2006


An Admission Of Failure

I have to admit it: after a week of almost no posts, I have become rather disillusioned with this blog. When I set it up, I wanted to make people laugh. Then I changed my mind, and decided I wanted to change the world. The truth is, what I want to provide is what you want to read, and I'm gonna need some help discerning what sort of posts you want to read, and what sort of blog you want this to be. Then, maybe, I will be able to move myself out of this bloggerblock malaise I'm in at the moment.

To that end, there is a temporary poll at the bottom of the sidebar (or will be very shortly). If none of the options of the poll suit, please tell me in the comments or feel free to drop me an email. If truth be told, I mostly write this blog for the comments, and I want to provide a bit better service.

I'm very much obliged.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


The Vacuousness Of Politicians' Moral Leadership

Sorry for the absence, and the political content of the following - I'll try and have something a bit more fun up tomorrow.

In the meantime, consider the following news story.

BBC News: 'BHS Boss In Cameron Clothes Row'

'One of Britain's best-known businessmen has attacked David Cameron after the Tory leader accused him of selling a "creepy" line of children's clothes.'

'BHS boss Philip Green told the BBC News website it was "bizarre" Mr Cameron had chosen to criticise the products as they were withdrawn three years ago.'

'Mr Cameron mentioned the Little Miss Naughty underwear line as an example of the way sex was used to sell products.'

'But Mr Green said the line had been dropped as inappropriate and "burnt".'

On one level, it would be nice if I could just dismiss this as irrelevant political bombast, and an attempt to connect with the 'Middle England' voters the Conservatives lost years ago. However, as is pointed out here, in an extremely sensible post, it is impossible to separate the views of Cameron the man and Cameron the politician, and in the guise of the latter, he is expressing not just disapproval but official disapproval of parents choosing to buy 'sexy' clothes for primary-school age children. As it happens, I personally wouldn't buy clothes like that for my daughter (if I had one), but crucially, I don't believe it should be a matter to be decided by the state.

This is fundamentally the problem with the Conservative party - that, deep down, they pander in more or less the same way to the same moralising, and indeed controlling, instinct that the Labour party do. It is a tired and formulaic observation to make that Britain is as far as it ever was from having a truly libertarian party, and the Conservatives under Cameron show no signs of changing. They're always seen as the party in favour of the free market, yet whenever they smell the chance to take a 'moral' stand, they are as against it as anybody else. Consider. Or. Just for starters.

The truth of the matter is that, in cases like this, the market will simply produce the 'right' result. The handful of parents who want to dress their daughters like hookers will be able to, and everyone else will form pressure groups, write to bosses, suggest boycotts, and eventually the clothes will either be withdrawn or not, based upon the commercial evaluation the company will make - and, crucially - all without the intervention of the state.

Monday, May 08, 2006


No, No, This Time I Actually Want You To Stop Proving Me Right

In a tiny item on Five Live's midday news today, we learnt that the residents of Shoreditch in London will soon have the option to watch, from their living rooms, the content of CCTV cameras set up in the nieghbourhood.

I'm not sure why we were being told about this today, since the BBC News website filed the story on Jan 10th, but there you go:

BBC News: 'Rights Group Criticises 'ASBO TV''

'Civil rights campaigners have voiced concern about a new channel allowing households in east London to monitor local CCTV cameras, dubbed "Asbo TV".'

'The project will enable Shoreditch residents to compare suspicious characters with an on-screen "rogue's gallery" from their living-room.'

'Viewers can then alert police to anyone in breach of an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) or committing a crime.'

Wow. Just wow. You think you've seen it all, but then it turns out that you haven't seen anything. It's as if people today have mistaken 'Nineteen Eighty-four' as a how-to handbook on crime control. The idea that it might be just a wee bit creepy having citizens spy on each other, and the fact that this has been one of the most notable facets of most totalitarian governments, appears not to have occured to anyone behind the project.

'Is this a nosy neighbour's charter?' asked the interviewer.

'No, I don't think so' replied one of the people behind the project.

I have to question, then, exactly what a nosy neighbour's charter might involve, if the possibility of being able to spy on your entire neighbourhood in a distinctly paranoid manner without even having the inconvenience of twitching your net curtains doesn't count.

What sort of people, I wonder, are actually going to watch this channel? Do you think, maybe, just possibly, it might be nosy neighbours, and, say, nobody else? I'm just conjecturing, but it seems to me a possibility that most normal people are going to carry on watching normal television, and that the only people who will make use of this sort of technology are the curtain-twitching vigilantes who, frankly, should think deeply about just why they so enjoy prying into other peoples lives.

In this post, I linked to a page containing the 'panopticism' section of Foucault's 'Discipline and Punish', a book that seems with every passing day to have more and more relevance to how crime and criminals are referred to in this country. One of the features of the Panopticon that made it such a useful model for the structure of societal institutions, up to and including society itself, is its inevitable result of converting the 'watched' into 'watchers'. It goes without saying that law enforcement authorities will love the idea of people sat at home doing their work for them, and those who watch ASBO TV will be doing precisely that.

People always laugh if you say you're worried about the direction dialogue about crime is being taken today, but go ahead, laugh at me, because I am. The distrurbingly illiberal attempts of today's politicians, particularly at the Home Office, to turn people into suspects before they have done anything wrong is reprehensible, and in a second twist, they are now giving vigilantes the technology to spy on their neighbours. I'm really sorry, and call me a civil liberties wacko if you want, but I am disturbed.

We're watching you, and so is Rosie at number 74.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Why Shouldn't I Be Allowed To Join In?

I haven't much time, but I would like to flag your attention to this article:

BBC News: 'Competition for 'Big Brother' place'

Basically, they're giving out Wonka-like golden tickets in Kit-Kat bars, with which the bearer is entitled to join the 'Big Brother' house. I found this quite interesting. Getting accepted on 'Big Brother' clearly does require a certain amount of a specific talent - that talent being not making an utter fool of yourself on your application video. One of the continual moans that you hear these days about people demanding - nay, expecting - their fifteen minutes of fame is that they no longer feel that talent, ability or skill should have any impact on whether or not fame does, eventually, reach them. The makers of 'Big Brother' appear to have caught on with regards to this, since you now dodn't need to be anything other than physically able to purchase a Kit-Kat bar to join in.

Personally, I hope that the 'lucky' winner is old and boring - that'd teach the programme makers, wouldn't it?

Contestants with less talent and personality than usual - surely not!

Friday, May 05, 2006


Snorting At Charlie

I see that Charles Clarke has been sacked.

Bang bang, we shot you down, bang bang!

What's that sound I hear? Is it bells pealing? People rejoicing? I think so.

Yes, this is really happening outside my window.*

Being genuinely serious, I don't think I've been this happy for quite a while. I'm going on a big night out tonight, which no doubt Mr Clarke would hate too, the joyless puritan, and seeing his career in tatters is a vicarious pleasure I just can't help having.

Let's think about his record, shall we?

1) Pushed the identity card bill throught Parliament, which is Officially The Worst Idea Anyone Has Ever Had, Ever. Not only does the Bill set out to collate at least 50 fields of data upon every adult citizen of Britain, to be accessed at the touch of a key, this data will be retained long after people have died. It is absurdly overcomplicated, unproven technology that will put people's lives and finances at risk while the flaws are ironed out of the system. Worst of all, it is an insidious attempt to complete the surveillance state by a man who is the true heir of Bentham.

2) Wanted to silence justifiable criticism of religion. His record was a constant attempt to curb the right to free speech.

3) Was involved in pushing a bill - still not dead - that would allow S&M pornographers to be imprisoned for up to 3 years for staging consensual images.

4) Has been behind 'control orders' on suspected terrorists, that don't require the CPS to actually prove that anyone is guilty of anything, or even really suspected of anything. Despite the fact that these control orders were deemed illegal under Labour's own Human Rights Act, the control orders are still in place.

5) Decided to cut the amount that people wrongfully convicted of crimes they didn't commit receive in compensation. He started this awesomely illiberal and breathtakingly inhuman proceedure in order to save a paltry £5 million, less than the taxpayer's subsidy for the Commons tearoom.

6) Oversaw a system in which over 1000 violent foreign offenders who should have been deported were allowed loose into the community, over a quarter of those after he had been alerted to the problem, and kept this information to himself. It has subsequently emerged that one of those released, Mustaf Jama, who has now fled the country, is wanted in connection with the murder of policewoman Sharon Beshinevsky, and another, Caliph Ali Asmar, is currently in questionning over charges of stabbing a man and raping a fifteen year old girl. Unbelievably, the day the scandal broke, Mr Clarke wrote the following:

'However, as democracy has advanced so powerfully across the world, other rights become important too. The right to go to work safely on the tube. The right not to be killed by someone who has served his sentence for violent crime but remains dangerous.'

What a delicious sense of irony the man had.

Of course, the new Home Secretary is bezzie mates with a man on the run from the police. I was going to make some snarky comment about it being our politicians who should rightly be on the run from the police, but instead I've actually decided that perhaps Mr Reid's rather shady compatriots might give him a healthy lack of respect for ideas like Identity Cards.

Fat chance.

Fat chancer.

*Don't be so fucking stupid.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


It's Like Living On The Continent

Apart from the smell.

Granadan boulevard

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Failure To Grammaticise Correctly

The tagline of the film 'Failure To Launch', a romantic comedy currently limping out of a multiplex near you:

'To leave the nest, some men just need a little push.'

That's not right, is it? God knows that I'm crap at grammar. I'm particularly bad at apostrophes (or should that be apostrophe's?), and anyone wishing to check this statement need only look through my archives to find several dozen examples of this. However, I'm fairly sure that sentences shouldn't be structured like that. Wouldn't 'some men just need a little push to leave the nest' be better? Help!

It's a shit tagline anyway. Having spent an absurdly large amount of time pondering the question today, I've come to the conclusion that the best film taglines work by engaging your curiosity, not giving you a plot précis. I'm rather ashamed to admit this, but I once went to see a film purely on the basis of its tagline. That film was 'Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events'. Now, before you take the piss out of me, let me defend myself. Consider the two taglines I saw it advertised with:

'Don't say we didn't warn you', and my favourite

'We're very concerned'. (More here)

I can't quite explain why, but these stuck in my head, particularly the latter. Who, I wondered, are 'we'? What, I pondered, are 'we' 'concerned' about? After a while thinking about such things, and I always spend too long thinking about everything, questions like these take on a special significance. I had to know what was so concerning. In the end, we needn't have been concerned, whoever 'we' were, because I rather enjoyed the film, which was surprisingly Gothic and threatening for a kids flick.

By contrast, the 'Failure To Launch' tagline put me off even before I read its shitty reviews. In just eleven words, it tells you every significant twist that there will be in the plot. Why should I see it, then? In particular, I have a strong objection to the word 'nest', as if humans were birds that are biologically conditioned to have buggered off by a certain age.

So, to give this post a summative tagline:

'You're better off puzzling me than exposing yourself'.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Top Banana

I was shopping in my local Sainsbury's today, and they had ten packs of bananas for 5p. That's 5p for all ten, not each. That's nine cents - for ten bananas. Crikey. Now, I'm sure people may accuse me of robbing Thirdworldsters of a decent income, but, not meaning to sound heartless, sod 'em. For that price, I feel like I should be doing some of the farming myself.

The trouble with this sort of thing is, per the Mitch Hedberg joke, you run the risk of getting carried away. I was thinking of ringing my friends and advising them, as if I were their stockbroker, to 'buy bananas - that's where the money is!' More worryingly, I was considering buying armfuls and then sidling up to people on the street saying 'hey - just 15p for ten - top quality gear, though, mate, I only sell good shit'. I reckoned I could easily make a couple of quid if I managed to sell twenty packs.

So, dear readers, I made a mistake. You see, I bought rather a lot. An injudicious amount, you might say. Here's where you lot come in - I need some banana-based recipes. Bear in mind, they're pretty ripe, so time is a factor here. Of course, you might argue that having eaten two of the bananas already, I have at least got my money's worth on just that. After all, from the fruit shop up the road, a single banana is 35p. Still, I don't want to sound like a maniac, but if I can find a way to eat all the bananas, then I shall have made a killing. It'll be the Saving Of The Century!

I bought considerably more than this, and they were riper as well. Come on people, the clock is ticking!

Monday, May 01, 2006



I'm getting a bit tired of YouTube. The number of times I've gone on that site looking for a wee bit of amateur porn to tide me over, and been disappointed, it's just not even funny any more. You look for something good, but no matter what search terms you enter the video that you end up getting consists of three Hells Angels with ridiculously long beards, at some beer festival in Milwaukee, shouting , 'Aaaaaaah, wanker!'.

I would like to proposed the following - from now on, you can no longer use tags like 'sex', 'porn', 'jessica alba', 'auto-erotic asphyxiation', 'lesbian', 'naked' or 'footbangers' unless the video actually contains one of the above. I mean to say, can't we have some consideration for the average wanker here?

Leave me alone!

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