Monday, May 31, 2004

It's all over now, baby blue

So, after months of speculation, Chelsea Football Club has sacked Claudio Ranieri. What a contrast between the dignity of Ranieri (never disputed a referee's decision, never moaned about 'bad luck, always had a smile for the cameras, win or lose) with the despicable crawling creeps Kenyon and Abramovich who employed him. All the best Claudio, you should have been Sports Personality of the Year... if it hadn't been for this one serious bloody error!

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Residents in Abbey Ward were out this morning protesting about plans by Blue Chip Casinos to turn a pub near their homes into an all-night casino.
And this is the monstrosity they want to turn it into!

Friday, May 28, 2004

Everything passes, everything changes

At a time when a lot of good friends are telling me they won't vote Labour because 'they're the same as the Tories' it is with great sadness from 4Glengate I learnt of the death of Jim Marshall, MP for Leicester South. If you want to know why I'm sad, and punch a hole in that daft theory, check out Jim's voting record.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

"I ain't Sofisticated"

I blagged this off Pete, who got it off Plep. A time consuming and wonderful history of Punk at Punk '77. It's sites like this that get you the sack!

Don't miss this

Tonight at Channel 4 will show a drama reconstruction of the Omagh bombing by the Real IRA which claimed the lives of 28 people and injured over 220 others. The worst terror attack of the conflict in Ireland. It happened under the current Government. Under Tony Blair's watch. For five and a half years the relatives of the victims of Omagh have been requesting a meeting with the Prime Minister. Although he has "felt the hand of history on his shoulder", and his government have introduced a Terrorism Act (which does not outlaw the Real IRA), it would appear that our PM has been too busy pursuing The War Against Terrorism (T.W.A.T.) to donate any of his precious time to meet with these families.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Another badge kisser moves on

Glory Hunter

Who's fooling who

Tony Blair and his partner in the coalition of the willing seem to be at odds about who will control military operations after the 'transfer of sovereignty' takes place in Iraq. Will Blair now, having been reminded by Colin Powell about what he should have said,have a change of heart? As that old fixer Jim Callaghan used to say when he was reminded Party Conference had voted on contradictory motions, "If you can't ride two horses, get out of the bloody circus".

The new Juve

BykerSink, who is always worth a read anyway, is also contributing to a site supporting the development of a team in Peru, on the banks of the Amazon, in a city called Iquitos. In Iquitos there is a small parish called Bellavista which has a local under-21 football team called Bellavista Juventud. There is a North-East connection and the good people up there have set up a supporters club, and you can follow the events at The Bellavista Social Club. It also appears that wee Nobby Solano is also lending his support, so that's another good reason for backing them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean

Now I'm no great art expert, but I know what like, and I love this picture by Edward Hopper. Anyone who follows US crime novels from a line through Dashiel Hammett, Phillip Marlowe etc. will surely identify with the guy at the bar on his own. And who are the other two punters?

Hopper's first exhibition in this country for 20 years is due to open at Tate Modern on Thursday.

Anti-Casino Demo

On Saturday local residents in my Ward are preparing to demonstrate against the obnoxious Blue Chip Casinos' plan to open a round-the-clock gambling house from a pub right next door to their homes. Pictures will follow next week.

Where's Tom gone?

Suddenly, with no warning, Tom Watson MP seems to have vanished from the blogosphere. In some of his final postings before he vanished Tom was talking about Fathers 4 Justice somehow attacking his site. Has Tom been kidnapped by blog terrorists?
Questions must be asked in the House!

Monday, May 24, 2004


BykerSink last week posted a reference to Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Co-incidentally, this morning I have received an e-mail from the folks at Philosophy Football who do a neat Zapatista t-shirt in their 'dissenters' section, and the proceeds of the sale have raised $700 to assist the Zapatista's. The e-mail carried a message of thanks from the Zapatistas:

"Thanks ever so much for this donation. This really is tremendous and will help
support much of the work that we are doing now to get satellite internet and
wireless connections into the caracoles. Three of the five now have internet
and one has a wireless network setup that Indymedia, Promedios and Comppa have
helped to set up. This will also be hugley helpful for upcoming forums for
which we have been asked to help coordinate an alternative media space and a
communications table.
Thanks again and a huge hug of solidarity to all of you there,
Timo and all of here at the Chiapas Indymedia Center."

So, you not only get a cool t-shirt, you're giving the money to someone a damn sight more constructive than Nike!

Shock - Tory tells truth about public spending cuts!

Conservative Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin has let the cat out of the bag about Tory plans to cut public expenditure. In spite of continual denials of Labour's accusations that the Tories would slash public expenditue, Letwin revealed they would cut £23bn a year in their first term and a further £135bn if they won a second term of office. All we need Oliver to own up about now is which areas of education, health, policing, the armed forces etc he would axe. Don't just say "bureaucracy" Ollie, we had 18 years for you to sort that out.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Another one bites the dust...

Yet another Conservative sees the error of his ways. This time it is the Party's only elected Muslim who has quit the Party claiming a "number of his fellow politicians and senior party figures are racist!"

'scuse me while I kiss the sky

We went to see Birmingham's very own Steve Ajao last night. Terrific. Steve plays superb guitar a la Jimi Hendrix. In the little back room of the Church Inn, volume cranked up to maximum, Batham's bitter flowing freely. Great, great fun.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

You cover up the truth with lies.

As someone who opposed the invasion of Iraq, I deeply regret the fact that this might mean being associated in some way with the political chameleon that is the Liberal Democrats. As I posted on Thursday, in spite of saying they would not use the war in their local election materials, that has been revealed as yet another Lib Dem lie. Tom Watson refers you to Lib Dem Watch which reproduces their gutter leaflet.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Let's have more like Harry

I sympathise with Mr Harry Sas of Clevedon. One of the first things I raised when I was elected was that a chap with a little sweeping machine came down the road every week, about 7.00am in the morning, when all the cars were parked in the street. He swept the white line in the middle of the road, did a quick about turn, and swept the white line again going the other way. An exercise in total futility because the gutters were still as clogged up with litter and leaves as they were before he came, and the white line was wearing thin.

I wish we had more people as keen as Mr Sas though. The councillor with responsibility for the environment reckons he's got 33 people picking the litter up, and 33,000 dropping it!

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Liberal Democrat Principles. A contradiction in terms

When the Liberal Democrats launched their election campaign for the local council elections, they pledged they were going to concentrate on local issues. "War is an issue, but it is not an issue for local elections" said their spokesperson, probably aware that Charlie Kennedy was hovering about whether or not to back a call to send more troops to Iraq.
As ever though, you can rely on the Liberals to show their firm principles...are a load of opportunist crap.

Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)

I've had an e-mail from Gina who berates me (and my comments people) for not including anything by the legend that is Otis Redding in my sad songs. Very true Gina. Otis could have his own competition, 'A change is gonna come' 'Try a little tenderness' and my very own heartwrenching favourite 'I've been loving you too long'. Sublime.


My car exhaust fell off as I was leaving home this morning. I've had to wait hours for the repair people to order a new 'back box' as they term it for the mechanically illiterate. So instead of sitting in a sweating conference room arguing with curmudgeonly management, I've been lounging in the garden, reading the new Pelecanos novel with the Test Match on in the kitchen. I would thank the Lord above (of any religion you like) if it wasn't for the fact that they have just 'phoned me to OK the £250 bill for the new exhaust (and to replace a ropy tyre). I'll repeat the old John Cooper Clarke adage... tyres are knackered, knackers are tired!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Sharon back on the White House lawn

As Steve Bell sees it.

Tenants say NO to housing sell-off

Congratulations to the council house tenants in Kingston Upon Thames who are the latest group to have voted to remain with the local authority and resist the threats/bribes to transfer their council houses to a so-called social housing company. Well done to the local Branch of UNISON which campaigned with tenants against the privatisation plans. In Walsall in the West Midlands the Council succeeded in 'persuading' tenants to vote for stock transfer of the Council's homes. 'Jobs are Safe' boasted the Council's Tory Leader when he was desperate for a 'yes' vote, regrettably backed by the New Labour housing spokesperson. Within weeks of the ballot result this was revealed as a cruel hoax and the newly formed Housing Association said it was aiming to cut up to 50% of the 1,000 housing staff who transferred from the Council.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Ask them!

David Aaronovitch, once a left-wing radical, now in favour of War in Iraq and student top-up fees, wonders in his latest Guardian column "Why do they hate Blair so much?" Perhaps instead of quaffing wine in Kensington he would like to plod the streets of Bearwood with me and ask "them" himself. It may not, of course, be unrelated to the war in Iraq and student top-up fees!

Monday, May 17, 2004

Welcome back

One of my mates and election canvassers, Jim, has just come out of hospital after a couple of weeks treatment and has blogged entertainingly about his 'time inside'. He's up and about now so the warm beer sessions after canvassing can be resumed.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Its my party and I'll cry if I want to

BBC Radio 4 is running a poll to discover the nation's favourite sad song. Having just left Villa Park where we were pipped for Europe by Newcastle, I thought I was in the right mood to put forward some of my own suggestions.

Judy Collins - In my Life
Maria Callas - La Mamma Morta
Leonard Cohen - Alexandra Leaving
Joni Mitchell - The Last Time I Saw Richard
Phil Ochs - When I'm Gone

I'm sure I could think of some more... late entry..( Tom Waits... Tom Traubert's Blues ?)

The riot squad are restless, they need someplace to go

It was obviously a very quiet day for crime in Hokkaido, Japan.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Honest man quits Tories

A leading Tory has quit the Party in Redditch claiming he didn't fit in because he is "an honest bloke."

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Chelsea, Chelsea

Someone was whingeing over at Tom Watson's site because I had described David Mellor as a " fat slug". I wasn't sure whether they objected because it was sizeist, which it was and I unreservedly apologise, or because I referred to him as a slug. Again, I accept that I should apologise... after all, this could be deeply offensive to your common (or) garden slug. Anyway, some people do find the things revolting. (Slugs, I mean, but I suppose the same thing applies to Mellor).  Posted by Hello

They'll stone you when you're walkin' down the street...

Nearly two weeks into the election campaign, nearly 2,000 house visited between us, and, as John Cooper Clarke used to say, "tyres are knackered, knackers are tired". The campaign isn't as bad as I thought it would be. There's quite a bit of anti-war, anti-Blair feeling, but people seem to be making the distinction between what Labour in Sandwell is, rather than Labour in Government. All three seats are up in my Ward because of boundary changes, and the Liberals are putting up a single candidate to try to benefit from the anti-war vote, and I can't say I blame them. Hopefully though we've done a not bad job over the last few years and they'll come out on the day. I suspect the voters are lining up a shock for the Euro candidates as a way of sending a message to Blair. Will he listen? Don't suppose so, he hasn't done so far!

Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Given the Thai Government's record on human rights (I know, glass houses and stones etc) I do think this headline lacked a bit of tact.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Now that's what I call ironing!

Over at Supermum, Christine is of the opinion, with some justification I would guess, that the reason women are disinclined to stroke the male ego (or anything else on offer) is because they are too tired after working all day and ironing all night. Now I must confess... I hate ironing, and I also get vertigo standing on a chair to change a lightbulb. So I don't think I'll try this!

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Thanks Neil

I am indebted to Neil of German For Beginners for his patience and effort in helping me to re-design the masthead. Neil did it with a click of his fingers, whereas I have been peeing about half of the day 'experimenting' and usually getting it wrong.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Wanted, graduate, must be sensitive soul , apply within

I blagged this courtesy of Supermum. Presumably the existing postholders have been made redundant and a major recruitment exercise is underway. As one of the comments added, knowledge of digital photography a distinct advantage.

Friday, May 07, 2004

I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now

There are some things that people of a certain age will identify with. This post (courtesy of Normblog) is definitely one of them.

We'll raise a glass...

Off to the Civic reception to celebrate The Baggies promotion. They're not my team but I'm pleased they're being promoted, and its good for Sandwell. Geography isn't my specialist subject and I know its woeful but given a map I could only make a stab at pinpointing the whereabouts of Chorley, Kirklees, Wokingham or Redcar. They don't have a football league club, you see. I can, however, precisely locate Preston (North End), Crewe (Alexandra), Blackburn (Rovers) Hartlepool (United) and Dagenham (& Redbridge). Having said that, when I put this post through the spell checker it suggested I should 'change Sandwell to Sandal'.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin'

Please read UK Today and follow the link to Me and Orphelia... and spread the word.

I'm backing Claudio

Whilst I have no particular interest in the affairs of Chelsea Football Club and its manager, and if multi-millionaires fall-out, why should I care, when I hear on the radio that the fat slug Mellor thinks Ranieri should be sacked, I'm definitely in Claudio's corner.

It was 23 years ago, today.

At a time when the Tories are wetting themselves in an orgy of nostalgia for their matriarch, spare a moment or two to remember one of those who paid the ultimate price for resisting her.

Modern Times

It is said we live in modern times,
In the civilised year of 'seventy nine,
But when I look around, all I see,
Is modern torture, pain, and hypocrisy.

In modern times little children die,
They starve to death, but who dares ask why?
And little girls without attire,
Run screaming, napalmed, through the night afire.

And while fat dictators sit upon their thrones,
Young children bury their parents' bones,
And secret police in the dead of night,
Electrocute the naked woman out of sight.

In the gutter lies the black man, dead,
And where the oil flows blackest, the street runs red,
And there was He who was born and came to be,
But lived and died without liberty.

As the bureaucrats, speculators and presidents alike,
Pin on their dirty, stinking, happy smiles tonight,
The lonely prisoner will cry out from within this tomb,
And tomorrow's wretch will leave its mother's womb!

And you could also sign this petition.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Here we go, here we go, here we go...

...Or as my daughter used to say when they started that chant, "Why are they singing about earwigs?" The local election campaign starts moving into full swing today (you can tell by the weather - its peeing down in Sandwell). Due to boundary changes the whole council is up for re-election, and as I am the newest Labour councillor in the Ward, and alphabetically the last of the three, my seat is the most vulnerable. So, from June 11th onwards I might have more time to do this blog... but the title may have to change. Optimistic? Moi?

Monday, May 03, 2004

Never mind 25 years ago... remember 1997

Whilst all the Tories are out waving their union jacks and remembering the day that wicked old crone won the general election of 1979, we also need to commemorate the day we threw the buggers out! OK, so Blair hasn't fulfilled the expectations of many of us who lived through the dark 'grabbit' years of Thatcherism, but I only have to look at my own small corner of the world to appreciate the difference. Two of my local primary schools have new classrooms (one is replacing 'temporary' huts which have been there for a dozen years), and we now talk about giving every child computer access at home instead of worrying about whether we have to make cleaners or caterers redundant. We have more police patrols, including new cycle squads, the main shopping street is swept every morning, constituents praise the hospitals and we are having new street lights fitted. I know, I know, I know, people will say what about the war in Iraq. But the Tories would still have done that as well as spent another seven years squeezing the worst off in society.

I hear what people like BykerSink say when they say they won't be voting for Labour because of the damage Blair has done to Iraq... but think of the damage a Howard Government would do to the working class in Britain. So I will raise a glass to seven years of a Labour Government... now its time - in immortal words of Adam and the Ants - to Stand AND Deliver!

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Nice and sleazy does it

I see Tone managed to give a Peerage to businessman Paul Drayton who had donated £100,000 to the Labour Party in 2001. Not to be outdone the Tories showed they intend to maintain their sleazy tradition, Michael Howard nominated five new Peers, four of whom were major Tory Party donors. Irvine Laidlaw has coughed up about £1.5million to the Party, and Sir Stanley Kalms (the boss of Dixons - who two days earlier announced plans to close 106 shops and sack god knows how many workers) has given the Party £600,000. Lord Steinberg and Greville Howard make up the numbers, and they must have been lucky to be included because they had only bunged about £100,000 each. If people are allowed to buy a Peerage for this sort of paltrey amount it really will lower the standards in the House, don't you think?