Friday, October 29, 2010

Tracey Emin Forger and La Biennale di Venezia

In 2007 we visited La Biennale di Venezia. The experience was unforgettable with artists from around the world displaying in national pavilions, unforgettable outdoor areas and some unusual buildings in the grounds.
The lowlight for us was the British Pavilion.

Now we don't claim to be 'art experts' Mrs B and I, but let's face it, it really boils down to what you like, and what you don't like. The problem for us was that Tracey Emin had been responsible for the British Pavilion and she seemed to be obsessed with drawings of male and female genitalia in the style of a 4 year old. It wasn't good, and certainly not dignified, sums up Tracey Emin really.

So I was shocked to read today that somebody called Jonathan Rayfern has just been found guilty of forging Tracey Emin's work. Worse than that he has been sentenced to 16 months in chokey.

I can only think that the sentence was punishment for wanting to forge Tracey Emin's work.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Support us - Fundraising for The Royal British Legion - The Royal British Legion

Support us - Fundraising for The Royal British Legion - The Royal British Legion

European Union and the Poppy Appeal.

The European Union is worse than a bad idea, it is stinkingly corrupt, immoral and can never work. We in the UK have never given our consent to successive British governments handing over our right to self government, and it's time that the British people woke up and stood up for themselves instead of standing on the sidelines whining and whinging.

If you had any doubt that we have handed over our right to self government then look at the current EU budget discussions. I don't say negotiations because negotiations implies reaching agreement. With the EU budget we can discuss as much as we want, then we have to accept what they say whether we agree or not. Cameron is completely powerless.

If an alien body can snatch an extra £900,000,000 from our exchequer, without our agreement, then obviously our government has handed over power, our power, to that alien body. Or if you want to deny that, then you have to accept that the EU is nothing more than a highwayman or bank robber. If I helped myself to somebody else's £900,000,000 I'm pretty sure I would soon be eating porridge at Her Majesty's Pleasure. Especially if it was government cash, and I wasn't an MP or Lord!

Today the Royal British Legion launches its 2010 Poppy Appeal. What would all the old soldiers make of the state of our country today, powerless to even stop an alien body raiding our tax money. Because that's what they are doing, government money is your money, hard earned and handed over to government via the taxman. Our government is telling you to tighten your belts, cutting budgets for your services, reducing your benefits, raising the taxes you pay, then turning a blind eye to the EU doing what the Coalition accuses the previous Labour government of doing: squandering millions and millions of your hard earned cash.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FC United on BBC North West Tonight

Jeremy Clarkson Yet Again

I heard yesterday that Jeremy Clarkson was in lumber, yet again, for causing offence. I also heard that some poxy daytime TV show had been running a poll as to whether or not Clarkson had gone too far this time. That did it, I had to find out what he had done or said that was so evil.

The following, from Yahoo News, is what he said about the Ferrari F430 Speciale:
Comparing it to a newer model, he said the car "was a bit wrong - that smiling front end - it looked like a simpleton - should have been called the 430 Speciale Needs".

Charities criticised the remark, with the National Autistic Society saying it perpetuated "the prejudice and bullying which people with disabilities have to cope with".
So I continued reading, and searching the internet to find out what had caused such great offence. But that was it. I wasn't surprised that the National Autistic Society jumped into the row for some cheap publicity, after over 20 years working for charities they seem to have been infiltrated by special needs senior managers with no sense of proportion.

It seems that Ofcom, the broadcasting equivalent of the Gestapo, "investigated" the remarks after two (2) people complained to the BBC. I suggest that those two people, and the senior management of the National Autistic Society, be put into nice padded rooms with no sharp objects, shoe laces or belts and leave the grown ups without special needs to get on with life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FC United of Manchester

I have followed FC United of Manchester since the club was formed in 2005, largely as a protest against the Glazers taking over Manchester United, but also in protest at the general direction and greed of top flight football. Yes I have occasionally ranted against the political position of elements within the club, but it s a democracy and the members own the club. I can't not watch FC United.

Below I have reproduced a message distributed by the board in relation to our first ever appearance, next Friday, in the FA Cup 1st round away to Rochdale. Please read it and compare it with the utterly immoral nonsense going on with Wayne Rooney and Manchester United last week.  Credit is also due to Rochdale FC and their board.

We would like to advise supporters that our FA Cup 1st Round Proper tie against Rochdale will take place on Friday 5th November, kick off 7.45pm

On the morning after our victory over Barrow (Monday 25th October), the Club was informed by Rochdale AFC that the FA had contacted them to say that ESPN had requested our game be shown live on their channel on the evening of Friday November 5th. Each club will be paid £67 500 for the game to be shown, a sum of money undoubtedly valuable to both clubs. We were asked by Rochdale if we had any opposition to the game being switched. It was reassuring to learn that such a switch is not enforced by broadcasters and that we had a choice, but nonetheless this presented us with an immediate decision to make.

We recognise that playing such a high-profile, important game on a Friday evening is not ideal, not least of all for those supporters who live outside of the Greater Manchester area. It is an unfortunate consequence of our democracy that any decision the Board takes will not always meet with the approval of every FC United supporter as there are a wide range of circumstances and opinions to take into account, not all of which can be represented by the final decision. However, by accepting this offer the Board feels they have acted in the best interests of the Club as a whole, both in the immediate and long term, as it increases awareness of what we’re doing in Newton Heath and removes some of the enormous pressures of running a football club whilst playing at Gigg Lane.

In reaching this decision the Board took into account a number of factors including the financial incentive, the impact on the team, the overriding goal of reaching Ten Acres Lane, and most of all the impact on supporters.
With these considerations in mind the crucial factor which guided the Board towards the final decision was the previously held members vote on FA Cup participation. At this meeting members voted for the Club to enter the FA Cup on the precondition that progression into the 1st round proper and beyond may invite offers to play our games live on television. It was the view of the Board that this ‘yes’ vote constituted a steer to consider this offer from ESPN. Of course we had the power to decline their offer, but in the absence of any overwhelming opposition when the issue was debated, the Board felt we had a mandate to accept.

The Board always strives to avoid making unilateral decisions and always acts in the interests and according to the wishes of its members. We believe we have again done so, but of course the beauty of our democratic structure ensures that if there is opposition to this decision then members can submit resolutions on future participation, votes can be taken and any future decision be influenced accordingly.

That democratic input should be cherished and held dear by all members, because as much as the decisions themselves it was the lack of a voice, a lack of an influence in decision-making that led to the disillusionment of many before our formation. FC United members will always have that voice and can therefore continue to make strategic decisions and dictate the direction of our club.

We would also like to advise supporters that Rochdale, mindful of the affect it may have on both clubs’ revenue, asked us if we had any opposition to prices being lowered from their usual prices of £20 for adults and £14 for concessions to £12 for adults, £8 for concessions and £5 for under 16’s. We had no hesitation in accepting this fantastic gesture, which helps us to meet our constitutional aim of providing affordable football for match going fans.

We hope that as many people as possible can make it to Spotland for what will be the biggest game in the Club’s history. Regardless of the result, the impact of this fantastic run in the FA Cup will be felt long after the final whistle on November 5th and evidenced in our onward march to Ten Acres Lane, Newton Heath.

The Board of FC United of Manchester.
If you were unaware Manchester United began life as Newton Heath in 1878 before becoming Manchester United in 1902.

Pilgrims of Love at Pantasaph

Before Easter I went on retreat to Pantasaph in North Wales. I was introdued to the Pilgrims of Love who have now established a presence at Pantasaph supporting the work of the Franciscans already established there. On the right side bar is a poster for their youth retreat on November 5th and 6th, click on it to get full details.

To give you a flavour of what the Pilgrims of Love are all about below is a short film. Founder of the Pilgrims, Marino Restrepo is interviewing Father Keith and others about their work at Pantasaph and their prayer festival that took place in July:

Monday, October 25, 2010

UKIP's Mike Nattrass MEP on UKIP's Nigel Farage MEP

I always knew that Mike Nattrass would come good, and he's done it in style.

I ran Mike's Crewe and Nantwich by-election campaign in May 2008 and had known him for some time before that. Even as a Lancastrian I was impressed with his honesty and bluntness, you see he's a stubborn Yorkshireman. In fact I only mentioned Mike in an earlier blog post today.

So I wasn't surprised today to learn that he had told the truth about UKIP's famous spiv and charlatan-in-chief, Nigel Farage MEP. In the eternal words of the wonderful Morrissey:  'there'll be blood on the cleaver tonight'.
Here's what Mike had to say about Farage:
Dear All,

It may be too late but after all these years I can no longer stay silent.
In the previous Leadership Election I, together with all candidates EXCEPT LORD PEARSON were rubbished by Nigel Farage on TV and elsewhere. This ensured the election of Nigel's puppet Lord Pearson and allowed Nigel to continue to be the face of the party. That is Nigel's view of the election rules and I think it is only fair and high time that his methods were exposed, USING HIS OWN RULES.
Nigel already Leads the parliamentary Group and when he is also elected Leader this will amount to total control. Increasingly I am hearing the word "Spiv" used to describe him, from people who are not members but see his image. I am concerned that the UKIP party brand will be tarnished, even holed below the water line, by his monopoly of power.
Whilst Nigel is a very good speaker, he is also a control freak. He grabs all UKIP publicity to the detriment of any other UKIP spokesperson or MEP. He employs assistants with the MEP's budgets without allowing those MEPs any say. This, despite the fact that UKIP MEPs demanded a chance to interview those who were being employed with their money. Nigel agreed, then totally ignored that promise. Consequently he has his own "group funded" team around him and all "hiring" takes place via his close friend Godfrey Bloom MEP (this person is said to be banned by 4 hotels for urinating in the corridors)

Nigel's lack of experience in good staff management and his refusal to allow MEP consultation is complimented by the morals of an Alley Cat (and I will not go there). I have always said that this does not matter, because so long as we are all in the trench together with guns pointing at the enemy all are welcome. But he shot Nikki Sinclaire in the back when she became an MEP, for no Party reason, while she was giving all the effort she could give. She was expelled as a UKIP MEP for pointing out the Group facts. He does not like truth or competition.

I have put a lot of money, time and energy into promoting UKIP in the West Midlands and I watched it wrecked at the General Election by Nigel's chosen people (Lords Pearson and Monckton) who appeared from nowhere and failed to understand our basic strategy or even comprehend from where our votes are derived. Worse, Nikki, who has vast energy at election time, was stopped from being a UKIP MEP by Nigel and has not been given a chance to defend herself or to state her case (legal matters are pending). She and I were told by Lord Pearson not to get involved in the election and not to fund the campaign. In fact you will see that we both made considerable financial contributions but our campaign was deeply damaged. Also the subsequent enquiry into the campaign, requested by the WM candidates, was "dealt with" by Monckton (who thought I was behind it) and because of this we have had resignations from very keen activists.

All this West Midlands destruction because Nigel hates Nikki and wants to rubbish me!! Do you know how much money Nigel has contributed to this to nothing.

I found allegations of fraud were brought against me when I stood for Leadership. These were in the Sunday Times. They melted away afterwards and had no foundation in truth, but they did the job intended.(My legal case against the Times is pending) Nigel has had a number of very real cases against him.. funny how that word does not get out.

My first major annoyance with Nigel's manipulations stem from the time when I was first elected in 2004 and all UKIP MEPs had a meeting to agree three very basic points. One was that we could not employ wives (other Parties did) and this was agreed. In fact my wife comes to each Parliament and does not get paid (not even travel expenses) and I said that she wanted to contribute any proper payment to the Party, but no, rules were rules and she could be paid nothing. It was then later exposed that Nigel's wife was being secretly paid out of his budget, breaking this rule. He did not seek any permission (to change his own rule) from the MEPs. He was simply "caught out" with both hands in the till. I fear that the whole Parliamentary Group in the EU is run for Nigel's financial and public image. I left that ugly group.

Nigel has derailed every leader since the very first, except peacemaker Jeffery Titford (under whom I was Party Chairman). He is therefore hated by them all (except JT). plus never to be leader Kilroy Silk who must feel that Nigel gave him a wrong prospectus.

I expect that Nigel will be elected leader as no one else is effectively allowed to stand without a spin campaign against them. I can see less MEPs in the UKIP squad when he does win.

There is a false attack on Tim Congdon from Boggers 4 UKIP, this must mean he is a real threat! Good.

Interesting to see Mike's comment about Farage's poodle Godfrey Bloom MEP. Farage really should get his poodles house trained.

More on this at:

Rosie's Forum

Junius on UKIP

Everything About UKIP

Wings-Band on the Run

I'm not over keen on Paul McCartney but have to say that Band on the Run was a class album by Wings. They have quite rightly been recognised in the Q Awards:

Once an Extremist

Last month I heard about a Polish couple. They were part of a neo-Nazi gang but they discovered that both were actually Jewish. Not content with accepting their Jewishness they have now both become ultra-Orthodox. Extremism does seem to be in some peoples' DNA.

Below is a CNN video about them:

European Union Referendum Campaign

Probably the only politician actively campaigning among the populace at large on the European Union is Nikki Sinclaire MEP. I spoke to Nikki last night and got the distinct impression that she really phoned to gloat about being at Anfield yesterday to witness a rare Liverpool win. But, as FC United beat Barrow to reach the FA Cup 1st Round for the first time I didn't mind. There's a diabolical photo of her on her blog, taken yesterday at the game.

You may remember that Nikki was thown out of UKIP earlier this year for refusing to sit in the group of homophobes, racists and anti-Semites that form the EFD Group that UKIP MEPs are part of in Brussels. Another MEP I have a lot of respect for, Mike Nattrass, has also now left the group. As I have worked as campaign manager for both in UK parliamentary elections in the past, I am relieved that they have both shown such decency and principle by leaving the EFD Group.

Now sitting as an independent MEP Nikki is campaigning for a referendum on whether or not we should remain within the  EU. Mike Nattrass is supporting her campaign as is Tim Congdon, one of UKIP's leadership candidates. As an indepndent she has cross party support and I would urge you to visit her campaign website Campaign for a Referendum.

As well as cross party support the campaign is attracting some support from those wishing to remain in the EU. After all, before the election in May the Lib Dems were in favour of an in/out referendum. One way or the other a straight in/out referendum would finally put the question of Europe to rest.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


So, you think some of our politicians are mad, and I wouldn't argue with you there. But this fella from Tokyo takes some beating. Although I do admit to the occasional wave of sympathy, and a morsel of admiration for his courage, as I watched the video.

Ok, abusing the voters, calling for their annihilation and ending by giving them a middle finger isn't going to win you an election. But unlike Chaytor, Morley, Devine and others, this fellow does raise a smile, as well as a middle finger.

Big Brother: Still Watching You!

From today's Mail Online:

Hugely controversial ‘Big Brother’ plans to store details of every internet click, email and telephone call that we make are being revived by the Coalition, it emerged last night.

Police, security services and other public bodies would be able to find out which websites a person had visited, and when, where and to whom a text or call was made.

Security officials insist that monitoring communications data is vital in the fight against terrorism and serious organised crime.

I was talking to a fellow history enthusiast yesterday about the sad demise of history teaching in our schools. Inevitably I suppose, the old quote from George Santayana came up: "If we do not learn from the mistakes of history, we are doomed to repeat them." Although I believe the original version was: "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

The Coalition might do well to remember the above quote in its urge to be progressive. But the electorate might also do well to remember it, especially those who thought in May that voting Conservative or Lib Dem would make a jot of difference. The continued building of a police state in the UK shows that under this government little will change, the state will just creep over our lives at a slightly slower pace. It's always been like that with our current system of electing the big two, and a little bit of the other this time.

Big Brother Watch is well worth visiting on a regular basis if you value our freedoms and liberties.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Educational Totalitarians

Having followed the case of Katherine Birbalsingh, the teacher forced from her job for criticising the education system at the Tory conference, I can't help comparing today's comprehensive system to my schooldays in the 1970s. When I do it makes me feel angry at what the state has done.

I was fortunate to pass the 11+ and go to Xaverian College, a school that was 'direct grant', meaning free from the mithering interference of the state, largely meaning Manchester City Council and Labour governments. Furthermore it was a Roman Catholic school run by the Congregation of St Francis Xavier. I'd love a quid for every time somebody has said "oh dear, that must have been bad" when they find out. Actually, I loved school and count myself very fortunate. And no, I never witnessed, or heard of, homosexual activity in the school.

Most of our teachers were Brothers, but we did have lay teachers too. The school encouraged freedom of thought and encouraged us to question. I questioned religion, and the existence of God, to such a degree that I didn't take religion 'O' Level. The first pupil in the history of the school not to do so I was told at the time. Even so I was allowed to continue in classes and to argue my point, as long as it was done properly.

It was the same with politics. We studied politics and history and no argument, put reasonably, was beyond the pale. We were encouraged to defeat those with outlandish views by reason and force of argument, no matter how outrageous the views expressed. The teachers practised what they preached, and treated us like reasonable human beings, most of the time!

Likewise with sex education. Yes, monks in an all boys grammar school did teach sex education, and they were very good at enlightening us about it too. But there was a strong moral element to it, not just teaching about procreation and what to do if you got a girl pregnant.  We were also taught, at the same time, responsibility and respect, not just from a catholic perspective, but towards ourselves, others and our families as human beings.

There are times I look back and think things were better a few years ago, and I wonder if I'm getting old. Then I read about Katharine Birbalsingh and think no, actually it isn't me. Education was, and should still be about, questioning, debating, criticising and developing. But it seems to me that this case shows that totalitarians, who can't bare any criticism or opposition, have taken control of education and are only interested in social engineering rather than developing young minds.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ice Hockey, A Man's Game

Last week I went to see Manchester Phoenix for the first time this season, and it was a great night. The next time you see a Premiership footballer rolling around clutching his leg or head, remember the video below and laugh. I wonder how long a team of footballers would last against a team of ice hockey players? I reckon the footballers would run a mile before even getting on the ice.

The fight below is not just a great fight, but is two brothers fighting!

Think I'll gorge myself next weekend and go straight to the Phoenix game after watching FC United.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Nazis and Socialists

Yesterday I Tweeted that Manchester City Council is still run by lunatics as the Lord Mayor turned up to full council in leg irons and shackles to mark anti-slavery day, which is on October 18th. I also wrote about this kind of juvenile tokenism in yesterday's blog post which you can read below.

For the record I have been involved in many awareness days and weeks over the years and am ambivalent towards them at best, think they are a waste of time and money at worst. Most of the awareness days/weeks I have been involved in have been with charities. They are tokenistic and take away from people who work extremely hard all the year round.

However, I find the theme of socialist paranoia a recurring theme at the moment. My criticism of the Lord Mayor prompted one loony socialist Labour Party supporter to Tweet accusing me of being a 'Dumb Ass' who 'regrets the abolition of slavey'.

I retorted that he was juvenile and paranoid, or similar. Which prompted him to call me a 'Right Wing Nazi' followed by a 'Dumb Ass something or other', I can't remember exactly.

I defy anybody to read my post below, or indeed anything in this blog going back three years, and point out anything that could be construed as Nazi or anything similar.

Words like 'Nazi' and 'fascist' are now so overused as terms of abuse, usually by socialists if you disagree with them, that they no longer have any impact, I'm certainly not offended by morons who overuse these words. But I think those who throw those words about belittle the suffering of millions of people at the hands of real Nazis and fascists.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Manchester City Council-Still Slaves to Political Correctness

Today in Manchester the Lord Mayor opened the full council meting wearing leg irons and chains to mark anti-slavery day. What a pathetic and patronising gesture. Anti-slavery day is apparently on October 18th, but I suppose Manchester City Council just  couldn't wait.

It's about as pathetic as their statue of Abraham Lincoln on Brazennose Street. It bears an extract of a letter from Lincoln to 'the working men' of Manchester thanking them for their support during the US Civil War. But of course, the City Council know better than some old Yankee and have changed the wording on the staue to 'the working people' of Manchester.

Still, as long as the nitwits of Manchester vote Labour the world will continue to get an occasional laugh at the stupidity of Manchester City Council and its voters.

Peter Kay in Warrington

The joy of Twitter. I follow Peter Kay and he Tweeted, or 'his people' probably did, that he is doing two warm up shows next week in Warrington before starting the next leg of his arena tour. The theatre only holds 200 people so it will be what you might call intimate. Tickets went on sale at 10-00am and had gone before 10-05.

Two tickets purchased for yours truly and my beloved. Get in there! Here's a clip of the great man at work:

Can't wait.

Proceeds from the two Warrington shows (Mon and Tues) go to the Madison Allan Appeal.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Germaine Greer

If you ever doubted the insanity of loony wimmins' rights campaigner Germaine Greer, she has now proved herself to be totally and utterly stupid, idiotic and mentally unstable beyond any doubt.

She wants a website set up so that wimmin can publish the names of men they claim have raped them, so all the world can see. She claims that not enough men get found guilty of rape, so the sisterhood should take the law into their own hands.

I wonder how the first woman to enter the details on the website will feel when she gets sued? Or how the first woman will feel whose claim, rightly or wrongly, leads to a mob of the self-righteous ripping the accused apart? Or how the first woman whose accusation leads to a suicide will feel? What does Ms Greer propose to do about the malicious wimmin who make false accusations about a man for all the world to see?

After all the fuss last week about a teacher confirming that the education system is a shambles up pops Ms Greer to prove the point. A friend of mine has just waved his son off  to Warwick University, where Ms Greer spews forth her nonsense. I bet he wishes he'd chosen another university now.

Vauxhall Viva

My second car was a Vauxhall Viva, a clapped out old banger I bought from my sister for about £100. The other day I got thinking about that one and some of my friends old cars in the late seventies and early eighties. Unlike the Viva on the left, mine was dark green, and in pretty poor condition.

What strikes me now is how even kids' old bangers look new compared to old cars a few years ago. I remember the Viva not having a radio, so I had a friend fit one that sat on brackets we screwed under the dashboard. Wires then went to speakers we screwed onto the back shelf. Clumsy mates getting in  the back would often disconnect the radio when their feet caught the wiring.

It didn't have a heated rear window either. So we had to buy a piece of plastic that we stuck onto the back window, about 2' by 1', that we then wired up to the electrics somewhere under the dashboard. It then heated up and thawed the window. Every small car spares shop sold them, and there were lots of them too, before Halford's put most of them out of business.

When the radiator sprung a leak we bought stuff called Radweld. Gunk that you poured into the radiator that found the hole and stuck onto it, thus sealing your leak. We also had gunk to plaster over the holes that appeared in the wings and other parts of the body, holes that appeared when even the rust had rotted away.

There was also a kind of first aid kit for exhausts. When a hole appeared you put some mesh over it, wound a bandage type thing over it then some tape over that. You then started the engine so that the heat of the engine melted the tape to secure the repair. Hey presto, good as new.

But the most frustrating thing about my old Vauxhall Viva was when the engine cut out if I drove through a puddle. That really was annoying.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

State Oppression

Today I read a cracking article by Rod Liddle about the barrister, Mark Saunders, who was murdered in London by the Met Police. But the investigation has found that 79 armed officers, and a helicopter, turning up to deal with a drunken depressive, albeit with a gun, is fine and not an over reaction. To then shoot him dead is not unlawful.

I'm instinctively against euthanasia because, as the anti war campaigners don't want war waged in their name, I don't want the state approving of putting people down in my name. Neither do I approve of suicide as a practising Roman Catholic, but suicide, or helping somebody to take their life, should be a private thing, don't ask or expect my approval.

But I now see a way around it. If you want to end it all pop down to London, get drunk, wave a gun about and hey presto, the Met will blow your brains out and it won't be anybody's fault. Well, the state won't blame you or anybody else, you may have to face up to some tough interrogation at the Pearly Gates though.

Then I went shopping and we went out down the back garden and out into the alley to the rear of our property. For ten years we, and our neighbours, have parked our wheelie bins in the alley against our garden walls. Our neighbours have made nice little platforms to rest our wheelie bins on. It really saves clogging up our garden and the alley is a dead end. It is also unadopted, in other words nobody owns the land.

But now, today, we went out the back and found that the council has slapped stickers on all our bins warning us to store them in our gardens or face a £100 fine. Try it you bureaucratic deviants, just you try it. Not as dramatic as poor old Mr Saunders admittedly, but state oppression works on numerous levels. The smaller measures can be the ones that drive you over the edge.

Then Mrs B has forced me to have diet coke with my Bacardi tonight. She reckons the calories I save will offset the calories in my bottle of wine. I refused point blank to go caffeine free too, that would be too much.

So let's drink before the state stops us doing it, for our own good.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

X Factor versus The Apprentice

A young girl from Zimbabwe, who appeared on the X Factor, is about to return to her own country as her mother's visa to stay here has expired. It's a shame but that's life. I can also appreciate Simon Cowell putting his lawyers on her case to try and help, he's made his wedge and he's spending it looking for a legal root for somebody he knows to stay here, that's his right. But why do people think that she should get any preferential treatment because she appeared on a TV reality show?

That got me wondering why The Apprentice, another reality show, gets treated with a respect by so many people that they don't afford to the X Factor. Let's analyse it.

A panel of egomaniacs who have made a packet of cash in their chosen fields.

A group of wannabes who think they've got what it takes, but haven't been able to do it on their own. Most seem to be held back by severe psychological disturbance, a complete lack of talent or ability and a degree of egomania that makes the panel look modest.

That, to me at least, describes The Apprentice and the X Factor. Virtually identical formats.

It strikes me that the reason The Apprentice is treated in the media with more respect than the X Factor is sheer snobbery. There are still people in this country, and elsewhere no doubt, who think that making a mint from entertaining people is still slightly cheap and lower class. Whereas making a wedge from producing dodgy computers is socially superior.   

If I had the choice of a night out with two millionaires, let's say Rod Stewart the entertainer or Alan Sugar the businessman, there's no choice. I'd be out on the razz with Rod.

Perhaps if I had the choice of watching the X Factor or The Apprentice I'd plump for.............a good book!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Socialist Paranoia

Driving home quite late last night I was listening to an interview on the radio with a couple of chaps from  the Human League, a bit like a poor man's eighties tribute band even then. It was quite revealing of the socialist mentality.

Apparently they thought that around the late seventies and early eighties we were all walking around on the point of nervous breakdowns. They reasoned that the hated Thatcher and Reagan were in power and were building more and more weapons, as was the USSR, which would obviously lead to mutual destruction.

Well I thought Reagan and Thatcher were superb leaders and never once felt in a panic that the bomb was going to finish us all off. So they were wrong for starters in their basic premise. It seemed obvious to me that the threat of mutual annihilation would ensure peace. Furthermore that Mrs T and Ronald Reagan's belief in standing up to tyranny would keep the USSR in check.

Now then, who was right? Not only did they keep tyranny in check, but they brought to an end the tyranny of communism in Europe. But, being small minded paranoiacs I don't expect socialists to ever give Mrs T and Ronald Reagan credit for that.

And that nuclear holocaust never happened did it? Indeed, thanks to nuclear weapons, we have had relative peace in Europe and the world since 1945 and Hiroshima.  Yes, there have been small scale conventional wars including Vietnam and Korea, but nothing on the scale of World War I or World War II. Now that's not a coincidence.

Socialism, when you look closely at it, does more and more resemble a form of paranoia rather than a political philosophy.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Sentimental Fool

I've had some really interesting conversations over the years with people about the past, whether it has ever really been better than the present, why so many people remember what happened fifty years ago but not what happened yesterday. Why your first 18 years drag on like centuries, then suddenly you are in your 50s and wondering where the time went.

Half of my family are sloppy sentimentalists who can sit around, usually after a few drinks, and start getting all maudling about the past and people long gone who they probably never actually liked. Or about places they visited or lived that, at the time, they loathed.

I remember Billy Connolly once talking about longing for the Gorbals. So he went back after years of pining for the place only to realise it was that time of his life he pined for, his childhood and youth, not the physical place. It was actually a real dump.

Some time ago I wrote a story about 'crossing the great divide' and below is how I wrote one of the last paragraphs:
They finished the last dregs of their tea before granddad asked whether Sam wanted to go out through the back door or the front door. It was something Sam had often wondered about and now the time had come, he had no problem making his choice. It was definitely the back door, the very same door granddad had stepped through that first day at work. There was no real choice for Sam, the past reassured him but the future was full of terror and uncertainty, you never knew what lay ahead. But the past was there, it was certain, it comforted and reassured. It had to be the back door, he had made that decision weeks ago when the doctors told him.
But then again, you can't beat a bit of classic Roxy Music. From their album Siren I give you, Sentimental Fool

So occasionally I now pine for Gorton, Glossop, Edmonton, Plumstead and Zamora. But never Nicaragua!

Youth Defence

For as long as I can remember I've been a member and supporter of the Society for the Protection of Unborn ChildrenThe right to life, from conception, is the most fundamental human right and a country that fails to protect that right, lacks credibility when it speaks about any other human rights.

Sadly there are continuing attempts to force Ireland to legalise abortion, including pressure from the European Union. I was really heartened  then to find the campaigning organisation Youth DefenceYouth Defence is a youth organisation campaigning to preserve the right to life in Ireland. Below are their aims:
It's simple really, our aim is to keep Ireland abortion-free. Educating people, helping mothers, lobbying, campaigning; all our objectives are undertaken with that aim.

We began protecting life in February of 1992 when seven young people came together in Dublin to organise against abortion.

It happened mostly because at that time, the X case posed a very real threat to the unborn child. Pro-abortion opportunists, who are always only too happy to jump on cases like this to push their agenda, were shouting for abortion as an immediate priority. If it was not legislated for before it was too late, babies would be born!

The media, who, lets face it, have a little of a leaning in that direction anyway, lapped up the drama.

There was pretty much a strained silence from the rest of the country who, even if they are totally passive about it, are pro-life. Their silence was sold as consent. If you were living in say, Paris, and got the Irish Independent every morning, you would think that the country was bristling with pro-abortion multitudes who were just on the verge of a rebellion to overthrow a backward and out of touch junta.

So, we said "hold it there for one second". It was time for young people to make their voices heard against abortion.
The group are holding a pro-life conference, Viva la Vida! , in Dublin early in November. I wish them well for their conference and in their continuing campaign.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Conservative Party Conference

I thought I'd sat through my last tedious training seminar by some grey, demotivational management consultant. Wrong! Today I endured the start of the Conservative Party conference, and I see why they cocked up in May and ended up in coalition with the Lib Dims.

The ministers spoke as if they'd been on mogaddon since May 6th, not trying to put right the wreckage left behind by the shower of idiots that is the Labour Party. If I were recruiting staff and they had to do those ridiculous presentations that are vogue in recruitment at the moment, I would have stopped them all, halfway through, and told them to bugger off and not to come back if that's as much enthusiasm as they can muster.

Having said that Boris Johnson was extremely engaging, entertaining as ever, and actually sounded like he enjoyed what he was doing. How refreshing. I particularly liked his dig at the French when mentioning how few bikes the London cycle scheme has had stolen compared to the Paris scheme. Unlike the other speakers today Boris seems happy to speak from the heart, and often without his prepared speech. Good on him.

It was particularly bad for TV viewers, the electorate in reality. The speakers kept introducing short films that had the sound blacked out by broadcasters who had to endure muzak for minutes at a time. Do they not realise that there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of TV viewers to convert to their cause not just the few hundred hard core Tories in the hall?

Then they kept introducing, during their speeches/presentations, odd characters who sat on sofas or armchairs to answer a couple of questions before scurrying off looking nervous and embarrassed. It was like an even blander version of breakfast TV, but for people who have overslept. In fact it was worse, it was cringe inducing.

What I expected was a series of enthusiastic government ministers, boasting about their achievements since seizing power after May 6th and telling us how they intend to put right the damage they found after taking over from Labour and what a positive and vibrant future we could all look forward to. Instead I felt like I'd been slapped in the face with a wet cod, that's how it feels being governed by a coalition including the Lib Dims I suppose.

So I turned the telly off at around 3-00pm to concentrate on swotting up on intestacy and estate residue. Much more interesting.


Sunday, October 03, 2010

Homophobia-The New Blasphemy

The Pope's recent visit prompted a vile outpouring of abuse from a tiny minority of militant atheists in this country, many of whom seemed also to be militant gay campaigners. I don't have a problem with people being critical, that's life, but the obnoxious abuse was ill mannered at best, disgustingly unnecessary and vulgar at worst.

Today Paul Daniels is the target of their bile and venom. So what has he done to warrant the vile personal abuse being directed his way by the militant, gay, angry brigade? He apparently told Craig Revel-Horwood, a judge on Strictly Come Dancing, not to give up his day job tasting sausages. Blue touch paper lit and bang, within minutes it seems a torrent of pink fury had been unleashed and complaints went into the BBC. The mighty keyboard warriors on Twitter went into overdrive too it seems, calling him foul mouthed names and demanding that terrible things happen to him, including death. Of course, those who cry most to be tolerated are often the most intolerant and bigoted towards others.

So why was this torrent unleashed at Daniels? Because the judge he aimed his comment at is gay. But, more relevantly, he is this year's frontman for British Sausage Week. It says it all about today's apparent lust to be offended that both men have today had to issue statements to try and calm the situation. Even when Revel-Horwood, the 'victim', has questioned what there was to be offended about the angry bigade have declared that Daniels was probably being homophobic anyway. When they are determined to be offended and angry they will find something to offend and anger them in anything. How sad.

So these last few weeks we've seen vile abuse directed at religion and a religious leader, and vile abuse directed at a man on the telly for mentioning tasting sausages, which apparently is homophobic. It's a funny old world.

Friday, October 01, 2010


Latin America has held a fascination for me as far back as I can remember. At a tender age I could identify the flags of all the Latin American countries and name their capitals, populations, biggest industries and all the bunk you can absorb, if you're so inclined, from encyclopaedias and the Pear's Cyclopaedia (1968 Edition).

Then in 1990 we decided to sell up and spend some time travelling in Latin America, a bit of a delayed gap year. We ended up teaching English in Mexico. As we arrived in the town in the Sierra Madre mountains where we were to begin work, our bus from Mexico City was buzzed by helicopters and the streets were crammed full of soldiers. First thoughts were that we had arrived in the middle of a coup. But no, the President, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, was speaking at an open air rally in the town. He was hugely popular at the time, but now lives in almost voluntary exile after leaving office in disgrace.

We were in Guatemala when Mrs Thatcher was deposed. It took some effort to convince our friends in Guatemala City that Britain hadn't actually had a coup. They found it hypocritical that they had been lectured on democracy by Europeans only to see the democratically elected leader of the UK ousted by a cabal. We eventually explained how our quaint form of democracy works, but it came to look even more absurd as we explained it. Mrs T was so admired they offered to drop their claim to Belize if we could arrange for her to take charge of Guatemala.

We also briefly knew the nephew of one of Guatemala's presidential candidates. The uncle seemed to be a decent, honest man and we were given the opprtunity to return for the election and follow his campaign. Foolishly we had so much of the continent to see, the Amazon, the Andes and so much more that we declined. He was elected but the last we heard, a couple of years later, he had been put under virtual house arrest by the military then sent into exile in El Salvador.

The early days of Violeta Chamorro's presidency of Nicaragua saw us surveying the shambolic state of anarchy that the Sandinistas had left behind in Nicaragua. Glad to be out of the hell that was Nicaragua we fled to Costa Rica, arriving as an earthquake struck.

But enough of my ramblings. It was the sight of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa standing in a hospital window shouting to the crowd of police and other demonstrators gathered below, that if they wanted to kill a president, there he was and they were welcome to take a pot shot. It could only happen in Latin America. He wasn't shot and, yet again, a Latino president was saved by the military after a gun battle between them and the police.

I can't help thinking that here in Britain Cameron would stand in a window, probably behind bullet proof glass, shouting: "Come on then, you want to heckle a Prime Minister? Then jolly well do it!".

The crowd would look up at the window, look at each other and mumble: "Stuff this, let's go for a curry. Who is that pillock?".

I still do miss Latin America.