Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bottom of the Class

University of Cambridge
World Class
Political Apathy
Among the things that popped up in my news feeds this bank holiday weekend was this from MSNBC, a story that also appeared in the New York Times. Cambridge City Council as elected the first ever transgendered Mayor. It wasn't a particularly interesting story really, the Mayor will do a crap job not because she is transgendered, but because she is a Liberal Democrat. It was unusual though to see Cambridge pop up in political news, especially from overseas sources, because other than the tenure of Michael Howard as Conservative party leader both the town and university have had a very low political profile.

It doesn't surprise me really. When I was at the university, political apathy was the order of the day. I don't know about the other student bodies, but the Conservative Association always felt more like a social club than anything else, despite the number of high profile guests. One year it did manage to have a local NUS president elected on a Conservative ticket, at the time a unique achievement. The only problem was she looked like a stereotypical POL and sure enough soon defected to the University Left; nobody really cared. The Left seemed little better, amounting to one tiny stall near the Guildhall on a Saturday, it it was sunny enough, to exhort us to drink, or not drink (I can never remember which) Nicaraguan coffee.

The only time things got exciting at a college level was when a ballot was held over disaffiliation of the college-level student union, the JCR, from the University and National Level NUS. The rallying cry was that the danegeld paid to these suspect organisations could be better spent 'supporting social activities at a college level' - in other words subsidising the bar prices. A few posters went up, there was a poorly attended hustings held in an unusually deserted bar, and the pro-disaffiliation lobby carried the vote. Predictably, apathy dictated that the vote fell well short of the required quorum for any change to be made.

I don't know if things have changed, so I took a moment to check out the academic institutions that have educated today's party leaders. I looked at all parties that achieved a national vote of over 100,000 at the 2005 General Election and included a factor from the recent Scottish and Welsh votes to give some weight to their relatively increased importance in the political scene above and beyond their Westminster representation.

So here it is, the league table of political influence of higher education bodies by number of alumni in party leadership positions, ties broken by 2005 national vote, with 2007 regional vote factored in.

  • 3 - Cowley Poly: Tony Blair (Labour), David Cameron (Conservatives), Siân Berry (Green)

  • 2 - Queen's University of Belfast: Reg Empey (Ulster Unionist), Mark Durkan (SDLP)

  • 2 - None: Nigel Farage (UKIP), Gerry Adams (Sinn Féin)

  • 1 - Edinburgh University: Gordon Brown (Labour)

  • 1 - Glasgow University: Menzies Campbell (Liberal Democrats)

  • 1 - St Andrews University: Alex Salmond (SNP)

  • 1 - Barry School of Evangelism: Ian Paisley (DUP)

  • 1 - Liverpool Polytechnic College: Ieuan Wyn Jones (Plaid Cymru)

...and propping up the table...

  • 1 - Cambridge University: Nick Griffin (BNP)

Hmmm...not the greatest cause for pride there, perhaps I need to change the entry criteria so I can get Dr Richard Taylor (Clare, Cambridge), leader of the mighty Independent Kidderminster Hospital and Health Concern party, into the list. B******, that would just push the revolting Griffin in to a more prominent position so perhaps I won't.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Paradise is...

...on the clinging, humid heat of days like these, a haircut like yesterday's where I feel like by body temperature has dropped by about ten degrees. A proper haircut done in in a barber shop, not at some poncy hairdressers. I'm from a part of the country where men don't really do hairdressers; boys do, but only when they are forced to go with their mothers and sisters for reasons of practicality, and even then very rarely and under sufferance. I always preferred the quick trip to the barbers with dad, if only because there was compensation of a bag of monkey nuts as compensation for the trauma the trip caused.

It doesn’t change much in adult life. For the ninety percent of men who stick to variants of the usual half dozen basic themes it’s just simpler. All you have to do is quote a number, rather than deliver an hour long verbal design brief, it only takes twenty minutes, there will be change from a tenner and you don’t even need to tip.

To be fair the occasional trip to my mother’s rather upmarket salon did have benefits. These extended beyond the ranks of rather pretty girls who worked there, maybe saving me from some of the more negative stereotypical northern attitudes.

I always had my hair cut there by a guy called Paul, who was rather cool other than being a bit of a Goth albeit in an understated way. He'd always talk about the then undulating, rather than nose-diving, fortunes of Leeds United and when he saw he was getting no traction on that he would segue effortlessly into the Leeds (now Rhinos) rugby league season.

It was only when he started commenting on how much nicer my hair was than my infinitely more attractive sister's that I realised that behind most stereotypes there is an element of truth, but also that the first openly gay person I'd encountered was still pretty cool. To anyone who might want to criticise this reinforcement of a stereotype I'd simply have to say sorry, I've never met a male hairdresser, outside an old style gents barbers, who isn't very entertaining, but nor have I met a straight one.

I think a lot of prejudices are rooted in early encounters. If the first gay man I had met was one of the more outré than out guys, who formed the backbone of the amateur dramatics groups that one on my former girlfriends was involved with, then I could too have been a typical northern homophobe.

Cock Ring
An Anniversary Present
These guys made Little Britain’s Daffyd seem straight as a die, having little conversation outside theatre matters apart from just how gay they were. Even so I could get on fine with them, even if did sometimes need me to thrust (non-literally) my heterosexuality in their face in a mocking, ironic way to get them to move on to another topic. I had a bit of a spew at one who grabbed me somewhere I really would rather he hadn't, which he deserved - it was out of order in any context, but genuinely laughed when another bought me back a cock ring from a gay pride rally to celebrate my then girlfriend and I’s first anniversary.

I think the same principles work on a broader stage too. I’ve always had my doubts about some of the many pressure groups claiming to represent one minority group or another, regardless of the fact than in many cases their ultimate goals are laudable and their grievances against bigotry and ignorance are fair and reasonable. Too often though their approach is too focussed on the faults of those whose minds they wish to change, too obsessed with whipping up indignation within their own communities and those whose instinct is to support them, and all too often loses sight of the boundary between equal and preferential treatment.

A number of well-loved actors and even MPs who are at ease with their sexuality have done more for gay rights than Outrage ever will. Successful Muslim business men do more to offset any negative images of Islam than the MCB has ever done. Monty Panesar does more to promote a positive image of multiculturalism in the celebration of a single wicket than any sermon of the part of the CRE.

These organisations claim that they were needed to allow these positive role models to prosper, but I think they overstate their own importance. I think most people with some of these prejudices actually know they are wrong, but their attitudes become entrenched when lectured by the pressure groups. What they need is to want to change, not to be battered into it. There are honourable exceptions of course, but too many such groups seek to constrain behaviour through the law and if that doesn’t work they will seek to limit speech or even thought. It’s not to say that there are not certain egregious examples where the law needs to intervene, but when it does is should only do so after the greatest consideration, as it can actually make the battle for hearts and minds harder to win.

Anyway, time to go and face more abuse over my new supposedly neo-Nazi skinhead (it isn’t), and to look forward to the bank holiday chill which will doubtlessly have me missing my thatch.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Second Front

Top SecretMacLean's bill is in trouble, but the backup plan is already rolling
The blatant self-interest in David Maclean's Freedom of Information (Amendment) bill was what first really got me interested in the attacks on the public right to know, so much so that I'd almost forgotten about some of the other attempts to restrict the FOI act's use.

In fact for some time the government has been looking at changes to the scope of the legislation based, allegedly on the number of vexatious requests and the costs of fulfilling them. The principle they are looking at is to factor in more realistic costs of official's time in responding to the requests. This seems to have been floating around even longer than the Maclean bill, but I initially took less offence at these proposals. I suppose that I spend enough time factoring costs like these into proposals I put out it seems reasonable enough and certainly there does seem to have been some abuses of the system, most of which could be described as FOI spam. As with other types of spam, FOI spam seems to be divisible into the malicious, where the sheer number of the requests seems designed to jam up the operation of the system, and the frankly daft (some examples have included questions about the number of hot, single police officers in some county or another).

The problem is, once you realise that there are ulterior motives behind attempts to limit the use of the act in one way, you can begin to see that even sensible sounding changes may have a similar underlying agenda. It becomes all too easy to see how these changes could be used almost at will to deny requests whenever the government saw fit, highlighted on many blogs and on the BBC. Knowing the way some of these things work, and the way real costs of employees time can add up, it would become very easy to block any request on the grounds of cost.

I doubt that there is a simple way to make the changes to the costing model without shattering any faith in the integrity of the system. Surely, what should be tried first is a basic filing fee, perhaps just £20-£50, with exemptions for certain key organisations such as professional bodies, and organisations like Citizen's Advice Bureaux (if these still exist??) that may be acting on behalf of individuals who may find even this relatively small charge impossible to bear. That alone should be enough to deal with most of the spam. After that would be up to the government to make a real case for further restrictions which, with the silly headline grabbing stories out of the way, they might actually find quite difficult.

Of course a few frivolous claims will still go in but, just like some of the characters who can scrape together the deposit to stand in an election, most will just add a bit of colour to the grey processes of goverment without causing any real harm. I would love to know the type of questions the late Screaming Lord Such would have asked of our lords and masters.

The Truth Will Out...

...if only when it gets leaked. The claim that the proposed amendments to the Freedom of Information (FOI) act, removing both Houses of Parliament from its scope, are purely to protect communications between our esteemed parliamentarians and humble constituents lie in tatters tonight. At the same time the the reason that there has been such strong support from the government front bench, despite their officially neutral position has become crystal clear.

According to a leaked letter from Trade Secretary, Alastair Darling, to the Lord Chancellor, the BBC tells us that:
'The Trade Secretary is concerned that it [the Freedom of Information Act] does not sufficiently protect advice from officials to ministers.'

Naturally he does not go on to explain the dangers such releases, even they passed the public interest test, could pose. He does not discuss the prospect of his colleagues spending some of the retirement in substandard government provided accommodation with addresses beginning 'HMP' rather whatever grace and favour prestige homes they can cling on to. Instead he opines that the fact that the is, in his mind...
"a discernible trend within the Information Tribunal that decisions on the public interest test have not been falling in the government's favour in key cases"

...that this is...
"placing good government at risk"

"If we are to live under constant threat of publication, this will prevent MPs from expressing their views frankly when writing to a minister. We need urgent advice on what the position is."

So this is what it is all about, it is not about protecting communications from the man in the street coming into the public domain. It is about preventing the man in the street knowing what the people we pay to represent us are saying to each other.

It's not the battered wives or public spirited informants whose identities and information need protecting, what needs hiding away is the type of thing the BBC highlights:
In March, Treasury documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act which showed officials warned of the effects of abolishing dividend tax credits, saying it "would make a big hole in pensions scheme finances".

Anyway, frankly, if this is the kind 'good government' that the FOI act threatens, I'm more than happy to give the alternative a go.

The Laws of Blogging - No.1

Blog RuleThe Laws of Blogging
OK I've only been doing this for a week, but even so I'm starting to realise that beyond the rules I set myself there are certain immutable laws that the real world constrains you with. I looked for a complete list so I would know what I was in for but was unable to find one. It looks like I'll have to discover them for myself.

Today was a good example of one of these laws asserting itself. Due to cancelled meetings and missing documents I had absolubtly nothing to do today. I scanned every news source that I normally use as a source of outrage and thought about everything that I normally rant about down the pub, but the only thing I could come up with was a minor musing about Welsh politics. I went for a haircut and came back to find all my news feeds buzzing, just when I was about to head down to the pub.

This has happened nearly every day so I shall entitle this my first rule of blogging:
'The amount of blogworthy news or events in your life is inversely proportional to the amount of time you have to blog about it.'

Its not quite Newton Law's of Motion, but its just as true and seemingly universally applicable, unless you live in the strange quantum world of professional blogging I guess.

A Lucky Escape?

Talks to form a 'rainbow coalition' government in the Welsh assembly, consisting of Conservative, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dem AMs appear to have run into the sand. As someone who is no longer a member of the Conservative party but is hoping with some degree of enthusiasm that they displace the current shower as soon as possible, I can't believe this is anything but good news.

I should say firstly that I think Wales is a fantastic place and I've no real desire to see anyone suffer more years of NuLab misery than they need to. On the other hand, with the relatively limited (though growing) powers of the Assembly and the difficulties NuLab will face in getting anything even vaguely damaging through, my thoughts turn unavoidably to the bigger picture.

It might be political naivety, but I really cannot see any benefit to the Conservatives in getting involved in a setup like this. Even if you accept the dubious proposition that such a rickety construction could have survived the mildest of political storms without collapsing in acrimony, it could only ultimately be bad news for the Conservative cause. There is no need to speculate, you just need to look at the last term of the Scottish Parliament. Every success was down to the Lib Dems, every failure was Labour's, at least in the general public consciousness. I'm not even sure you can say that it was the Lib Dems position as the junior partner in the coalition, their particular policy initiatives or clever marketing by them that led to this perception. For a long time the Conservative and Labour parties have been the big beasts of government and I think it's almost inevitable that, in any government in which they are a partner, the tendency will be to lay the blame for failures at their door. Smaller parties, like the Lib Dems, not having held solo power at anything other than local government level, are somehow awarded some form of political virginity that seems to render them above reproach for the same failures in the minds of many.

The even better news from the end of the 'rainbow coalition' talks is that it was the Lib Dems who ultimately blocked it, so there can be no suggestion of the Conservatives (or Plaid Cymru by the same token) ducking the responsibility of real government. Moreover, while it isn't explicitly stated on any of the on-line coverage, there was enough coverage of 'No deals with the Tories, ever' attitudes of many Lib Dem activists in recent months to make it clear what the sticking point was likely to have been. At the next general election it is essential that this rarely voiced shibboleth of Lib Dem though is brought to the fore, that a Lib Dem/Conservative coalition is unlikely to be the way that the reins of power are seized from NuLab's hands.

There is a part of what the Lib Dems stand for that I personally endorse wholeheartedly, but once you move beyond the libertarian part of their philosophy they are as bad as, if not worse, than NuLab and even their libertarian instincts are often compromised. The point I am trying to make is not in the least new or original, but moments like today need to be seized to underline what the consequences of voting for the Liberal Democrats really are.

It's true that there are issues like grammar schools and PFI where there is a disconnect, in the Conservative and Labour parties respectively, between the leadership and some of their activists, and more importantly their natural voters. It always seems to me though, that these disconnects are vastly more numerous and wider when it comes to the Liberal Democrats, especially between their activists and their casual supporters.

I am sure that there are areas where this is less true, but not where I live in the south-western yellow/orange splodge on the political map of London. Here Labour simply does not exist; they have been wiped off the face of my borough council, and don't even bother standing in my ward at most elections. Elections are basically fought over a group of voters who drift from the right of the Lib Dem standpoint to the left of the Conservative one but would never dream of voting for the Labour party. The result for me locally was a very able Liberal Democrat MP, who I, and many others here of a Conservative inclination, would actually hate to see lose his seat should he stand at the next general election. What is at stake though is too important for sentiment. The message has to rammed home, that in areas such as this, and every other Conservative / Lib Dem battleground, a vote for the Lib Dems, as nice as they may be, is functionally a vote to keep NuLab in power. Their activists would not allow it to be any other way, even if the party leadership was to move away from its, now rather explicit, 'No deal with Tories' stance.

Update 6:47PM
It looks like the Lib Dems have cottoned on to the fact that they are coming out badly from the way things have worked out according to the BBC. They are going to have another look on Saturday at whether they really can pass up on the chance to f*** up in government at the Conservatives expense. They'd be out of their tiny warped minds if they didn't. It would be like the multi-cultural, vegan turkey collective not voting for the abolition of Christmas.

Update 7:04PM
18DS had another take on the whole affair on Up Front, from a slightly different angle, pointing out the intrinsic limitations and internal contradictions of the Lib Dems which was pretty amusing. The only worry I have is that the Conservatives would even contemplate coalition with these muppets.

Update 1:30AM, 25th May
It seems, if you believe the BBC, which I don't usually, but they are grinding a new axe so I'll give them some leeway, it's pretty much all over bar the next few years of shouting. I hope they are right for once. The BBC only mentions the Conservative involvement once in its summary of the f***ed up situation.

We have the Dhimmies being largely blamed from left and right for the lack of a meaningful government for Wales. This is due mainly to their actions in recent days, but let's be honest the situation only arose because of the ironically named system of 'proportional representation' (and their inability to organise a piss-up in their own family brewery), just about the only policy you can get two of their party activists to agree on once you get their nose out of their tofu biriani. It's stunning...their preferred voting system produces a mess, so they go and have a meeting to resolve the mess and not only end up with a tied result but did't even have the foresight to plan for a way of breaking the ties that will inevitably result when you get a couple of dozen people voting on contentious issues. Some of our recent Home Secretaries have had more foresight.

Labour has raised a solitary finger to the electorate by trying to cling desperately to power when any sensible party would have called it a day and let some other grouping take the flak. Anything bad that happens in Wales will be their fault, and their fault alone in the mind of the electorate at least. Fine by me.

I only really have sympathy for Ieuan Wyn Jones and Plaid, unfortunately I've got a feeling they will be unfairly tarred with the Dhimmie brush. Like the nats from the land of my mother they generally seem like decent, driven people even if I don't like a lot of the specifics.

By a country mile though, the best comment on the whole thing though is from Glyn Davies (via the talented Mr Dale). It's one of those off-beat commentaries that will stick in your mind long after the specifics of the situation that inspired it have gone forever.

Once again, I'm sorry that this creates a mess for Wales. The Lib Dems had to be exposed somewhere and sometime. I'm glad it's now, and yes I'm glad it wasn't where I live, but it really needed to happen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It Doesn't Happen Often...

...but I will be pleasant about the round ball game for once.

I know a lot of good Liverpool supporters (as I do of many other clubs), so I'll be out cheering them on tonight and won't even criticize a goalless draw if they go on to win on penalties. As well as their supporters the club also seems to feature a much higher than normal number of players who seem to genuinely care about the club, from Gerrard on down, give it 100%, and even seem pretty keen to get on with the game most of the time rather than messing around on the floor. Even more remarkably the same players don't seem to throw away this ethic the second they pull an England shirt on.

I've got a pretty good idea what the pubs of the Village will be like. I'll probably opt for Base Camp as it tends to be free from the likes of the Village Idiot and the Toxic One. Most people will get behind Liverpool; they are just that type of club few people can genuinely dislike. There are a couple of Italians who go in there and I guess their different sympathies will add to the atmosphere rather than be the source of agro; it's just that kind of town. I've no doubt there will be the usual bunch of morons who would probably support a Taliban XI if they were playing any other premiership club from that which they disgrace by their support.

Update 8:15PM: Getting the hang of this football supporting thing. If your team is going forward you either make a lot of noise or seize up in absolute terror of them making it a mess of it. When the other team goes forward you shout 'offside' a lot.

Update 8:35PM: Half time tragic goal from a free kick for the Italians to leave it 1-0 to them, despite Liverpool doing most of the little that happened.

Update 9:20PM: One of those moments I love to hate about football. A bit of a clash between Liverpool and Milan player, for which the Liverpool player is, on balance correctly, penalised. The Milan player is lying on the floor clutching his forehead (untouched in the collision) trying to upgrade it to a yellow card. What would happen in Rugby is certain; the referee would reverse the penalty and yellow card the Milan player for play acting. They really should have a citing process after the game in which any player on TV evidence shown to have behaved so unsportingly should be sentenced to start each of the next 10 games effectively on a yellow card, as well as wearing a pink shirt with 'CHEAT' across the front and back to warn future refs.

Update 9:27PM: Disaster, a (pretty good) goal to Milan for 2-0.

Update 9:30PM: Liverpool get one back for 2-1, but only a couple of minutes left on the clock so it looks like consolation only.

Update 9:40PM: It's all over what a shame, but not in anyway disgraced. I've been hearing about some of the shenanigans in Serie A of late and have to agree that if true, it's not sour grapes - Milan really should not have been there tonight. Good try anyway Liverpool, the better team lost.

Normal service will return shortly.

How Do They Do It?

There are many reasons why I could never be an MP. High up this extensive list is that I could never show the relative restraint and civilised conduct that was displayed today in the attacks on the hapless Patricia Hewitt during what was, in effect, a no-confidence motion on her performance as Secretary of State for Health.

It is not that I think she is a complete idiot like some of her colleagues, she evidently from some of her more considered contributions that she is not, which makes her frequent piss-poor performances harder to understand. Lots of things have fallen apart on her watch, but then the running the NHS will probably always be a case of perpetual fire fighting. According to her Wikipedia entry, she was even once a Conservative, though it does appears that adult-onset leftism is a disease every bit as damaging to higher brain function as the more typical version which manifests itself first during student years.

That said her hectoring, holier-than-thou delivery drives me absolutely nuts. At least listening at home I can only fume. If I was in the chamber the temptation to grab the mace, Heseltine style, would be too strong, only in my case I would know exactly what I wanted to do with it. You'd think, with the number of apologies she has had to deliver recently, that she would now be able to make one sound, well, apologetic.

She will also be causing me to have a more expensive than usual month shortly as I up my cigarette contribution to celebrate her introduction of the health Nazi's smoking ban.

Mixed Messages

EU Observer carries a very interesting report on two opinions from advocates general of the European Court of Justice, both relating to the way national trade union rights may impact on the functioning of the single market. The issues involved are potentially very significant, but a little bit complicated so as usual the BBC doesn't even report the story on its 'Europe' section, but prefers to headline the more easily digestible cap on mobile phone roaming fees, and even there forget to mention that it's the many of us whose bill is primarily for domestic calls who will subsidise the few who roam a lot.

The usual health warning needs to be quoted,
'The advocate general's opinion is not binding but in the majority of cases the final ruling, expected in the coming months, is similar.'

Well, perhaps, but there are a pattern, which these opinions fall into, of the final ruling not being at all similar where the original opinion actually suggests a limitation on EU powers.

On the surface it all seems like pretty small beer but, looking at the kind of precedents being set, there are clearly some very important principles at stake. I'm not sure though whether the advocates general position represents a further reason for me to condemn the whole EU project, or a faint glimmer of common sense.

To take a positive view of both opinions, which are on similar subjects, the position taken has been that the 'functioning of the Internal Market' (the replacement for 'Health and Safety' as the EU's preferred democracy bypass mechanism) cannot be used to override national settlements, such as those on trade union rights, that the country in question sees as being intrinsic to its social model. So far, so good. I find the Swedish and Finish principles that were under threat a complete anathema, being a collection of backward looking collective agreements, and rights to strike that can only be harmful in the long term. That said, they are what Swedes and Finns in sufficient numbers clearly believe work for them and everyone else should accept that, even companies wishing to operate in the respective countries.

I was therefore tempted to take issue with the Conservative MEP, Richard Ashworth, quoted in the article as saying,
"The court must not allow trade union blockades to dictate the terms of the EU single market."

My first reaction was to say, 'no it should not, but it should just keep its nose out, which is pretty much what it is doing'. I'm sure my views on trade union blockades are pretty similar to Mr Ashworth's, but would be loathed to see the ECJ grabbing powers over trade union rights. Wasn't the possibility that the incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights into the proposed European Constitution would lead to ECJ judicial activism on trade union rights, one of the many reasons put forward by Conservatives that the appalling document should be ditched? My personal feeling is that you need to be consistent and that, even if the ultimate outcome is not one to my liking, I should welcome the refusal of the court to act in this area.

All of that said though, the overall tone of the opinions is rather worrying.

There is an undertone that suggests that, if the cases before them had held the possibility to extend the rights of trade unions through ECJ action, the result might have been different. It seems that the POL brigade in the parliament have read it this way which is worrying in of itself.

The article quotes German green MEP Elisabeth Schroedter:
"the advocate general has indicated that cross-border service provision cannot result in a race to the bottom in terms of wages."

Well, as it happens the advocate general hasn't quite indicated that, but I understand the POL need to retreat from the reality which has so brutalised their ideology, and I'm pretty sure at some point a future advocate general will try to ram more union rights down our throats.

It is pretty significant that on other areas, where national settlements surrounding particular social models have been challenged before the ECJ, the court has been more than willing to act to enforce a European model, such as in it's ridiculous pronouncements around the working time directive.

I think it's time they came clean and admitted that in addition to its written rules in the existing treaties, and the well know de facto rule, that the there are no rules when it comes to extending EU 'competencies', that another fundamental principle is applied in rulings such as this. I think that a simple statement that,
"The ECJ shall act to eliminate any form of national independence wherever possible, other than in such cases where a greater level of left-wing stupidity can be preserved in a member state through inaction."

...should be made public. We know the rule is already in place; it's only fair they be open about it.

Update 10:52AM 24th May: Someone at the BBC obviously got mummy or daddy to explain the opinion to them in simple terms last night, so, doubtlessly after a quick pro-EU spin cycle, they've just managed to get it up on their web site.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Another Hard Day on the Lash

Too depressed to blog. The poison dwarf was out in the village, yet again. As if his usual crap wasn't bad enough he went off on one one about how he prefers Speedos over shorts on holiday, so obviously I had to spend the next ten minutes on the porcelain telephone emptying my stomach.

Oh god this is now a four day bender...better shape up.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Road to Hell...

Pint GlassGood Intentions
I heard so much blogworthy things today that I actually felt guilty that I bumped into a friend right off the train and went to help the Village out with its beer lake. I had built up a good head of steam when it came to (very) righteous indignation, but went out and got slaughtered instead. If I suffered from leftism, I would doubtlessly suggest a ban on having public houses being open at times when people alight from London suburban commuter trains, in order to protect me from myself. Unfortunately I am free from this especially debilitating condition, so simply have to admit it is my own weak will.

So in brief...
  • Cutty Sark...very sad...sympathies to those who I know work so hard on this project and care a lot. Wait for the people happy to pump the best part of a billion into NuWembley to bitch about even spending 20p on the restoration process (imperial past? elitist? who knows which flavour of b/s they will use for this one)

  • Grammar Schools...Yawn, number about 9 on my list of serious educational issues that need dealing with

  • Ghengis... didn't do heros and zeros on 18DS, very disappointing, you miss his moment of rapture just before that moment when he knows he is about to offend some POLs badly
  • Guinness...why don't they offer 'the one that won't make you s*** tarmac the following day' as well as 'cold' and 'regular'

For what is the first, but will probably not be the only time....I will try harder next time.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Real Cup Final

So, it was down to the Mother Ship to see the second meaningful cup final of the weekend, after yesterday's European Challenge Cup final. It wasn't quite the game yesterday's was, but pretty intense nonetheless. I was a bit worried I wouldn't be able to pick a side to support, with what would normally be a slight inclination towards Wasps balanced out by the possibility of the Tiggers making a bit of history. In the end the better team definitely won, and I was definitely pleased with the outcome, having become increasing partisan as the game went on.

Firstly it was great to see Dayglo leading from the front, perhaps not back to his best but an impressive display nonetheless after what, by his standards, has not been a great season. Lol gets a lot of stick from many corners of the rugby world and not much of it seems entirely fair. For some reason he often seems to be the one member of the world winning cup squad, who is still playing, but gets none of the general respect afforded by the general England rugby community to the others, when he turns in his club, rather than national shirt.

It is possible to point out the odd bit of foul play down the years, but its hard to class him as being worse than the average when it comes to the dark arts of play up front. Certainly the likes of Neil Back and Martin Johnson pushed the envelope even further without attracting the same hostility from opposing fans, anyway not everyone can be as truly beyond reproach as HRHRH(!!!) I suppose it might still be connected with the regrettable circumstances that surrounded his loss of the English captaincy, but surely this is ancient history, even if it was ever the story it was made out to be. At his peak he was a truly great player in a great team who always plays with his heart on his sleeve.