Monday, November 28, 2005

Should have been Cook

Can't help thinking that it should have been spotty teenager Cook taking the field for England instead of Collingwood tomorrow. It's a real shift about to accomodate PC and he just doesn't feel like a 4 to me. Cook would have been an ideal slot in for Strauss and Derek Randall the Bedford School coach has said consistently that Cook steps up to the big occassion wonderfully well.

Having said all that I wouldn't want to go against Fletcher and Vaughan, no one can say they don't know what they're doing.

Blog hijacking

Heard a very interesting piece on the Julian Worricker show yesterday. I like Worricker, but don't really get to listen to him that often, as we're normally off out doing something on a Sunday.

Anyway, he had what I suppose you'd call a Sunday review section with 3 guests, none of whose names I caught (jesus this is flimsy isn't it - my friend knew this bloke down a pub, who had a mate...). Cough. start again. Worriker had Tim Worstall on, author of '2005 Blogged: Dispatches from the Blogosphere'. Basically he's charted UK blogs through the year chronologically event by event. It's interesting enough, despite the fact - as someone pointed out - a book seems like an odd medium to conduct his review.

What really pissed me off though was the sniffy journalistic discussion that went on afterwards. It basically took the line - 'oh, well it's all very well these bloggers with their news sites, but you have to realise that it's completely unverified opinion, no one cross-checks the facts.' then there was the tangent 'oh and of course there's an awful lot of flim flam (paraphrased)'

Well fuck you, whoever you ivory tower teeterers were:

First - no one thinks that one source of info. is necessarily the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The reason however that we're here is that we can post what we like, at our own risk and if people choose to come and read, then they can believe what they want to. We know we're not immune to libel laws. In short we're not fucking stupid, how dare you treat us as if you are the media gods.

Second - not all of us are frustrated journalists. I'm not going to be restricted by some sort of amateur journalistic integrity. I'll carry on with the flim-flam and every once in a while I'll post something serious. And guess what it'll be my opinion and whoever comes to read it will take it to be that (I hope).

So on that note as a little test. Can I ask anyone who reads this to go out and punch the next person they see. Please report back, I'm interested to find out if I really do have a cultish following of drones.

Friday, November 25, 2005

How many bands can you spot?

This is quality. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Be warned however once you start you will be there for about half an hour.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More Freddie worship

Sorry another gratuitous freddie post. The man is on fire. 2 in 2 balls to put england back in the 2nd test something that was completely improbable at the start of the days play

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Aaaaaahhhh sleeeeeeeeppp!!

Well to everyone who gave me advice last week, we seem to have cracked it - how do you touch wood on line? - Ebs has now gone down at 7.30 and woken at somewhere between 6.45 and 6.55 for the last 2 mornings and the 2 before that he'd woken at 6 but one visit to his bedroom and he was back down for an hour.

Funnily enough we're all in a better mood.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Never trust old people

I was reminded of a lovely family story over the weekend. My mother-in-law has a friend who told it.

Her family were all round for Sunday dinner a few years back and she was cooking a ham. As she transferred the meat to the roasting tin, she cut the end of it off and threw it in the bin.

Once it was in the oven, her daughter asked 'Mum why do you always cut the end off the ham?'. To which she replied 'Errrr, I don't know, Mum always used to'. Her mother was in the next room so she and her daughter asked her mother, but her mother had no idea either 'However' she remarked 'my mother used to do it'.

Now great grandma was dead however, the family line lived on in the form of her younger sister, my mother-in-law's friend's great aunt. So when my mother-in law's friend's, mother saw her aunt she asked 'You know Mum used to cut the end off the ham when she cooked it. Do you know why she did it?'. 'Yes dear' replied the elderly relative 'it would never fit in the pan'

So there you go. The moral is:

Never trust your elders it could result in years of wasted ham.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Open the box

A friend mailed me this link last night. Basically you click on the link and then type in whatever artist or music you like and it will go and search out a suitable internet station for you. Absolutely magic.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ooooooo tired!!

4 days in to sleep training. Pheewph. Not in the evening. Eben goes out like a light at night now, but he's started waking at between 4.30 and 5.30 in the morning. We made a rod for our own back by bringing him in to bed with us for the first couple of weeks. As an excuse Nic's exhausted with the pregnancy and has had a sinus infection that she can't treat with antibiotic's so for the extra couple of hurs we got it seemed worth it.

But, on Monday morning we took the plunge. Controlled crying. Go in after 5 minutes, then 10, then 15 etc. Monday went on for 2 1/2 hours, with everything thrown at us. Throwing bedding out of bed, saying he wanted milk, plaintive crys of Mummy and Daddy.

There's something about your own child's crying that is designed to tug at the core of your soul. I'm not so bad although I do count the minutes. Nic though finds it complete torture. With any luck we'll get him to fall back and start sleeping through till 6.30-7, he definitely needs it he's knackered when we finally get him up.

We have everything crossed.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cor it's good today

Tresco 135 NO.

England close Day 2 of 1st test in Pakistan on 253 for 3 trailing by 24 runs

Flintoff is a God yet again 4 for 68, Harmy chips in with 3 for 37 and Hoggy 2 for 55

Owen scores another 2 against Argentina in 3-2 win in Geneva

Rooney scores opener - this boy is a legend already. World Cup 2006 could be his

Big Ben Cohen scores in typical style on come back to England set-up. England grind out a 26-16 win.

Prediction for February 2007.

England complete trouncing of Aussies in their backyard to retain Ashes and climb to No. 1 in world rankings. England hold World Cups in both Rugby and football. Oh yeah and the Aussies swimming team collapses under the supreme power of the GB team.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The anonymous Google illustrator

Today Google had a great logo illustration. The 'l' was replaced with a remembrance poppy. I've often wondered about the Google illustrator. His or her artwork is probably seen by 10s of millions of people on the day however it goes completely uncredited. Anyway Google have an archive for all the previous holiday illustrations. Some are brilliant.

Personally I really like the WaterAid one from March 22nd 2005, partly because I think it's such a fabulous charity. I have a friend who works there who explained to me he chose to join them as they provide the absolute foundation of life. i.e. you can have all the aid flown in that you like, but without sanitation and clean water the community will collapse within days. It's very simple, but pretty compelling really.

Georgie Bush is falling down, falling down...

...falling down, Georgie bush is falling down, my fair lady

Click above, click above.

Have or Of? The metamorphosis of language

Went to the pub with Nic last night and at one point when she took herself off to the Ladies I sat earwigging two South African girls at the other end of our table. I wasn't really listening properly but at one point heard one say 'I should of...'. It was so clearly 'of' that she used that I was quite taken aback, it grated. It's a common mistake in the written form, but it struck me that the way she articulated 'of' while technically incorrect, it sounded far more comfortable. Now Nic would hate this she's a real stickler for correct usage of English, me I'm much more keen on the adaptation of language.

I'm a big fan of the way that language has been impacted by text messaging. I heard Stephen Fry interviewed the other day a big advocate of the adaptation and chameleon like nature of the English language - he's currently promoting a Christmas book called 'The Ode Less Traveled' about the construction of poetry. The premise for the book is that people need to be taught how to write a poem in much the same way as they are taught to play an instrument - anyway he relayed a story about his 12 year old nephew. He had recently given him a present to which he received the reply 'Heh that's book'. Being perplexed by the term, he asked his nephew what he meant. 'You know book, cool' his nephew replied. Fry looked perplexed, so his nephew pulled out his phone, flicked to text (predictive of course) and spelt out cool which of course actually spells, book when the predictive function is on. And there we have it the birth of a new term, the natural metamorphosis of language.

Thinking on the South African's use of 'of' rather than 'have' it struck me that it has to be a front runner as a term that will become acceptable in time. The tipping point will come some time in the future and of course the purists will hate it but personally that's what I love about the English language, it's great adaptability.

Come on Boys

I've set my alarm for 4.10 tomorrow already. First cherry (hopefully Hoggard) thrown nee arrowed down the track in Multan against Pakistan. Despite losing the match and Michael Vaughn to Pakistan A this week, I'm convinced we'll blow them away.

Come on Tres take us home boy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What is British?

Anyone who knows me from the Five live messageboards will be aware of some of my feelings on this subject already.

My preoccupation as with many of my recent preoccupations comes from having had a child. It's forced me to think about a great many things in my life. There are obviously the practicalities of education, health and so on, but also more macro issues. One of these more nebulous issues is that of being British and what it is to be British in 2005.

When I fill in a form asking for nationality, my first thought is invariably to state English, of course that gets pinged as you are always data captured as British. However, I do feel more English than I do British. I don't have anything against the other nations in the union, but frankly it comes down to sport. I support England, I know it's the English and Welsh cricket board but for me and pretty much every other Englishman I know it's England pure and simple.

So that's a personal take, Englishness and Britishness are pretty much inter-changeable and I think if you asked the average Scotsman or Welshman most would agree with you, if you are to take the traditional view of Britishness/Englishness and this is where my argument springboards.

There seems to have been a lot of talk recently about Britishness and what it is to be British in 2005. It seems to me that most often Britishness is perceived as tradition, history and democracy and freedom of speech. However I feel this is far too anchored in the past to be relevant to modern society and I feel this is leading us in to an identity crisis.

This post comes today following yesterday's defeat in the House of Commons on the 90 day terror detention bill. Sir Ian Blair recommended to Tony Blair that this should be the number of days we hold terrorist suspects without trial while the police and security services gathered evidence to build a case to take them to trial. The bill was defeated and a 14 day extension to 28 days has been agreed (Subject to the Lord's approval)

There are two interesting aspects to this particular period in our history in the context of what it is to be British.

First was the way that Tony Blair took Ian Blair's recommendations forward without change. I've been criticised for using the term police state - I realise it's an emotive term but until yesterday I had never used it in the context of Britain. However, when the police have this much sway over government I feel it's the most appropriate term, the cap fits so snugly. I don't think we live in a police state yet, I don't even think we're getting close to it, but, these things start somewhere and this piece of legislation is the thin end for me.

Second, is related to the first, but concerns our approach to the constitution. It seems to me that some of the most vehement supporters of the 90 day bill were the very same ones that would quote Britishness as being about tradition, democracy, free speech, the rule of law, fair play and so on. But isn't it a contradiction in terms to feel being British is about tradition and democracy and freedom of speech and then wanting to defend that by destroying those very principles.

I can't help but think that we are increasingly becoming an elastoplast nation, mending the wounds as they are inflicted without ever looking at why they're inflicted. I realise that we have a fluid constitution built over hundreds of years, but this has relied on conflict and upheaval to ensure it remains dynamic and relevant. I would argue that we have undergone such a long period of relative stability and prosperity since the Second World war that actually we've started to lose our way, the constitution isn't moving on as it has in the past.

Of course this loss of direction and struggle is true of a lot of North West Europe, I can't think of a much safer place to live your life, but cracks are starting to appear, the French riots, Germany's continuing struggle to get back on it's feet following re-unification with it's high unemployment, Holland's approach to law becoming increasingly tough. We're all struggling in our own way.

And of course globalisation has it's role in this. It could be argued that Britishness is less relevant now because we have a more global economy. Tony Blair often appears to spend far more of his time on international issues than domestic, but maybe international is where it's at. After all we are hosting Prime Minister Hu of China currently in an attempt to strengthen our global position, but funnily we're pulling out all the traditional old favourites, horse drawn carriages, silly dressy banquets and so on to welcome him in. (Oh yes and that great British tradition of ignoring the human rights nastiness). However, it's all very well being global and it's all very well freeing up trade and lowering barriers but what are the consequences of this.

Now I'm a South London boy and I grew up with a lot of black and brown faces. I had a fairly liberal upbringing, so people's issues with immigration and multi-culturalism were something I came to quite late and I found very difficult to identify with. I grew up with in a very rich and diverse environment so it's something I've been used to all my life.

My personal opinion is that multi-culturalism is the way forward. I am an advocate of letting anyone in, open the borders. Not completely uncontrolled, but if they bring skills let's have 'em, whoever they are. However where multi-culturalism is falling down for me comes back to our sense of Britishness. It's failing because we cannot convey what it is in 2005. What do immigrants in the UK cling on to, what do they aspire to. Why should they want to buy in to our culture? This isn't the case in the US.

My view of America is thus. Great to live there. Great to travel there. Great to be there. Shit, if they come to visit you, because invariably they're after something. So ignoring foreign policy, I'll concentrate on the domestic 'American Dream'. It's a simple concept really that has both a cultural and economic aspect, it's easy to understand and most importantly it's always contemporary. It's as relevant today as it was in 1776. For an immigrant in the US it's aspirational it oozes from every pore of the average American and it appears tangible, something to hold on to something to buy in to, something entirely egalitarian in it's principle, if not perfectly egalitarian in it's execution, but heh everything has it's flaws.

In Britain we have no discernible comparative aspiration. As I have stated already we have the tradition, the history, the democracy, but then so do most other countries and each of those countries could claim the same. Those concepts were fine in 1945, we had won a war we were a nation on high and we were still an imperial power, but as we get further away, most of the empire has disappeared, the Great in Great Britain looks increasingly outdated and our identity is completely anchored in the past a vision of Britain from the 1950s. So what's our USP in 2005. Why should people want to come here. The answer is the economy. We're strong, we have high employment, we have a huge service industry and that is attracting immigrants, bring 'em on I say it can only strengthen us.

But hang on all I can see is multiculturalism failing and it's because people are failing to integrate. Not as some of the haters would argue, because they want to be with their own, but it's because the international image that we convey which is largely based on everything I have outlined above in reality is hugely nebulous. It's not tangible, it's not something that seeps from every pore of an Englishmen as the American dream seeps from an American.

If you landed at Heathrow by plane tomorrow, or pulled in at Waterloo on the Eurostar, or landed at Dover by Ferry and walked in to the newsagents what would you see. Newspapers full of sensationalism, celebrity magazines, lads mags, tits arse and empty heads. This is modern Britain. A Britain that takes solace in vacuousness that pins it's nationalism to the Football team or the cricket team. This apathy and lack of identity shows in so many different ways.

Look at the last election turn out. We returned a government who received 25% of the countries vote. Politicians are unable to galvanise the electorate to even bother to drag their fat celebrity loving arse 200 yards to scrawl an x on a ballot paper. Why? because they fail to inspire. They fail to take the electorate with them with a bold vision of modern Britishness. What we get is the media veneer of Cool Britannia. A Blairite PR job based on a few musicians having champagne cocktails at No. 10. This isn't modern Britain, this is a few designers getting pissed for free and pretending that the late 90s were as cool as the swinging 60s. Oh how quickly it all disappeared. Do you think we're going to see Noel Gallagher hob nobbing with Cherie Blair again. No I didn't think so.

So here I am.

Are we strong economically? Yes and we are maintaining relatively well

Are we strong globally? Relatively bit of a lapdog

Are we at threat from terror? Yes, but not enough so to erode our entire rule of law

Are we being taken over by immigrant cultures? No. It's just that we appear to be, because our own identity is so weak that when we play host to a culture that has a strong identity it puts ours in the shade.

I want to live in a strong-multicultural society, but if we are to do that we need to get a fresh modern vision of what it is to be British without that we will simply become a mish-mash.

Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to what that vision is, but I'm definitely going to have a damn good think.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Zebedee was always the coolest one off magic Roundabout

'I'm knackered'

'Yeah me too'

'Listen do you want to go outside and sit down?'

'It's pretty cold out there'

'What's the time?'


'Who's on after Van Dyk?'

'Dave Ralph'


'I dunno, Jim says he doesn't play over here very often works with Oakey over in the US, listen we'll blow through come on I'm still well up for it'

She laughs. I love that laugh, it's reserved for me, kind of despairing, but means I've got away with it.

'Yeah alright' she says

We headed back into the tent which seems weirdly empty considering Paul Van Dyk's omnipotent presence everywhere this summer. The Crasher kids are still at it, all whirly glowsticks and contorted faces. I couldn't help but laugh when I heard about the poster that appeared up at Republic last month 'I'm drug free like PVD'. Fuck knows who that was because this lot are gurning like gooduns.

'The others have gone to the front' I shout

'Yeah yeah let me grab Kate'

Nic disappears and I shimmy down to the barrier. Van Dyk's whirlwinding to a close. A thin dark guy's bobbing around maniacally behind him. Watching the decks. Checking the crowd. Bounce. 'For an Angel' starts to segue in, those soaring synths washing over you. PVD is a crowd pleaser, the place is going crazy. The whoops that accompanied people really coming up around 2pm have gone and been replaced by a chugging crowd, and the mass has the space to dance, the kind of dance you only get at that time of the morning, rythmic, measured, totally going with every beat. Every movement synchronised after 6 or 7 hours of trying to really get with it and here we are we've all arrived and PVD's coming to a finale and taking everyone with him.

And then, the guy on the spring again. Checking the crowd. Bounce. Checking the decks. Bounce. Suddenly he disappears. Then he pops up with vinyl in his hand. He whispers to PVD and then slaps the 12" on the deck and suddenly God swaps places with Zebedee. Shit.

'Hi ya' I look down and Nic's bobbing about with Kate stood behind. I have a smiley nod at Cath and she grins wide and throws herself into a music box ballerina 360. I grin back and she throws her arms round me.

'You having a good time' she shouts

'Best ever'

'Is he on next?'

'I hope not'

'What do you mean?'


Three people stare across the barrier at Zebedee, he has the 12" back in his hand, checking the crowd, jumping, bouncing, checking the crowd, jumping, bouncing, check the decks, checks the levels, bounce, bounce. Jesus christ maybe I should have gone outside.


...he slaps the vinyl back down, grabs the phones, swings the arm, smashes the cross fader across and sucks every last ounce of bass out of the tent.

Everything holds it's breath.

Zebedee looks up and grins. A wicked knowing grin. What the fuck does he know...

... a tune from the heavens crashes in.

Oh my fucking God, a tingle spreads down from the top of my head and through every part of my body.


15 yards away I spot Simon and Jaack pogoing. Jack doesn't pogo. Ever! But we clock each other and all our arms go up and we bounce.

Enter stage left, Jim comes running out of nowhere 'It's Ralph, it's Dave Ralph I told you he was fucking good. How fucking good was that'

We're all, all over the place, Jim's grinning, Kate and Nic are laddering away behind me. Ed, Jack, Simon, Meg and me are swaying (where did Meg and Ed come from?) And as we look back to the decks so's Dave Ralph, he's climbed out the back of the box and run about 20 yards out, arms windmilling. That's the kind of DJ you want, basically just one of the crowd. When they're part of the crowd they know exactly what to play next.

Viva Creamfields 2000

Sunday, November 06, 2005

In the Hell of Tournantes - Samira Bellil RIP

Samira Bellil died on September 4th 2004 aged 31 of Stomach cancer.

This diminuitive French Algerian immigrant was a modern day Emmeline Pankhurst and it is arguable the stand she made was possibly a far more courageous act than that of the Suffragettes.

In her book 'Dans L'Enfer Des Tournantes' (In the Hell of Tournantes) she laid bare the endemic culture of patriarchal oppression in the French ghetto. Her story was underpinned by her own gang rape at the age of 14 at the hands of 4 men known to her.

Gang rape was known in the ghetto as pass-rounds. Her boyfriend handed her over to his 3 friends who brutally raped her all night and then made her breakfast in the morning. This happened to her again when she was dragged by one of her previous assailants off a crowded train while the passengers looked the other way.

Her story is not uncommon of her peers growing up in the Banlieu many of her friends suffered the same fate and women are often forced to hide, stay inside and if they are seen to be in any way deviating from the norm they can often suffer the same fate at the hands of disenfanchised, angry and voilent young men.

Her book galvanised a women's movement in France that spawned countless marches across the country attended by thousands of women who had been terrified of voicing their opinions and the action she inspired forced the French Government to look seriously at the issue of pass-rounds in particular but also the oppression of women in the gheto. She instigated the set-up and implementation of women's refuge to protect some of those at gravest danger with a particular focus of attention on the estimated 70,000 who were believed to be in danger of enforced marriage in a heavily fundamentalist islamic honour culture.

Her impact was so great that the government were forced to recognise the changing ethnic fabric of French society and a department was set up to look at the issues. The French government honoured Bellil’s achievements, and those of 13 other women from the projects, by hanging their portraits outside the country's parliament in recognition of the profile they had created.

The reason I post this today is that we are on the back of the 11th day of rioting in the Paris ghettos particularly, but also all over France. It's something I'm sure Bellil would not be in the slightest bit surprised by, the depth of poverty and disaffection has been there for years, mixed with the overpowering macho patriarchal culture. Personally I hope it proves the catalyst the French government require to really tackle the issue of the ghetto and the way that they have been used and ignored for years. The ghettos have been allowed to descend to a hellish existence that breeds the worst type of fundamentalism religiously, patriarchally and violently.

Friday, November 04, 2005


I think the terrible twos are upon us. All previous strategies are useless. My lovely little boy has turned in to a little git. No amount of cajoling, bargaining, deal making, 1,2,3ing works anymore. We have to now just leave him to scream it out on the floor until he decides to eat, put clothes on, come out to the car, whatever. I very nearly resorted to chocolate last night, but managed to resist. I can understand why people give in though.

Of course I've got it easy, I can escape. Nicky on the other hand said she could have merrily thrown him at a wall 2 or 3 times the other day. She didn't, but boy this is challenging - to say the very least.

I can't wait for March when no.2 arrives.