Thursday, July 29, 2004

What's the difference?

Q. What's the difference between an MFI flatpack wardrobe, without the adhesive... and Charles Kennedy?

A. One's a glueless kit....

Sleepin' in the woods by a fire in the night, drinkin' white rum in a Portugal bar....

Yes, tomorrow, the family Piper will be heading of to Lagos in Potugal for the annual bookfest and steady intake of alcohol that is otherwise known as a holiday. This could be the last time... (as Mick and Keef once wrote), because eldest one is off to Liverpool University in September, and you never know what happens after that.  The brother-in-law has packed his cases and is coming up to stay in our house in sunny Sandwell... I'll think of him (but not often, I suspect...) oh, and if you're reading this mate, mow that spare patch of grass outside we call 'the lawn'.

I think I'm going to be sick. There can be few more disgusting stories in the news than this.  At least (I assume) they will not be pursuing Paddy Malloy's family with an invoice for his porridge whilst he was being tortured and abused at Her Majesty's pleasure. These people were held hostage in degrading and inhuman conditions for 18 years by the British Government. Those responsible should be begging for forgiveness on bended knees instead of behaving in this way. Whatever next... perhaps Bush could charge Cuban holiday rates to those imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, and the people who kept Terry Waite chained to a radiator in Beirut for nearly five years should pursue the Archbishop of Canterbury for the outstanding board and lodging fees. Have we all gone bloody mad?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


I know you've all probably read this at bloggerheads, but for those who haven't, this from b3ta made me laugh.

The BBC website points out that there is absolutely no connection between John Prescott officially running the country while Tone slums it at Cliff's gaff, and the Government decision to issue a leaflet advising people how to cope with disaster.

On a more serious note, Prezza could spend sometime on the day job. George Monbiot makes a compelling argument for a sensible transport policy. The figure of 3,500 people killed on the road is about the number who perished in the World Trade Centre on September 11th, although they attract less media attention, and re-occur year-on-year, ... but there's not much likelihood of a government in this country doing anything about it.

Driven mad

There was a time, before bus deregulation, that Sheffield had a public transport system that other cities used to look up to. Now, we've got this shambles!  I don't suppose in all the lovey-dovey exchanges between Ministers and Trade Union leaders at Warwick University they gave any serious thought to achieving an integrated transport system by bringing the busses back into public ownership... and I strongly suspect there was no bucket collection organised for the Sheffield bus drivers either.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

As easy it was to tell black from white, it was all that easy to tell wrong from right.

A couple of interesting articles I picked up on this week over at ZNet. Apparently John Kerry has discovered the strength of the black vote in the US, having got the message that in the crucial Florida election in 2000, "95,000 African-American votes were dumped in the Florida swamps, marked as spoiled."

Writing in The Guardian, Michael Meacher (the latest of the ex-Blair Cabinet to rediscover his radicalism only after he stopped struggling up the greasy pole) asks some pertinent questions about Dubya's favourite Military leader, Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, and the links to TWAT (The War on Terrorism).

If there was a socialist honours system, instead of the current elitist nonsense, the ever brilliant Steve Bell would be high on my list of nominees.

90% of white people have no black friends apparently. I make no apologies for referring you again to this hysterical site dedicated to a couple that have lots.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

BykerSink is on the move

Those of you who regularly follow the comments in this blog, and many others, will be familiar with the socialist PR man from the North East (no, I don't mean Peter Mandelson) BykerSink, whose blogsite Its Wrong to Wish on Space Hardware is consistently provocative, occasionally very personal, and always excellent reading. Well, after months of prolonged agony, Byker has finally got his VSO appointment and he's off to Vietnam. He will carry on posting on Space Hardware, but because of the political content of many of the posts, and the sensitive political nature of his VSO position and the Vietnamese government, Byker is starting up a new blog detailing his Vietnam experiences at Our Man in Hanoi. If you haven't already done so, link to the new site and keep a dialogue going when Byker moves on September 3rd... we don't want the lad getting lonely now, do we.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

The stars are beginning to hide

The WMD argument rapidly descended into farce as it became obvious to everyone that the reason Scott Ritter and Hans Blix had such doubts was because Hussein did not actually possess any WMD. Determined to justify the war on humanitarian grounds, Blair shifted the emphasis to the 'hundreds of thousands" of Iraqis slaughtered and buried in mass graves, as witnessed by his special envoy, Ann Clywd who told of "over 60 mass graves" and her distress at visiting one site where "up to 15,000 bodies" were believed to be buried. Blair himself told the Labour Party website that the remains of "400,000 bodies" had been discovered in mass graves. All very good emotional responses to those who opposed "regime change" on legalistic grounds. Unfortunately, it would appear there has been a more than a bit of "sexing upwards" of the body count too.

Should I change my blog title?

I've always wanted to go into academia, and now, thanks to this reference from Tim, I've found out that from this day forward I will also be known as:
Professor Dances with Chipmunks.  However, as he also directs us to this, I feel I must issue a government health warning: Watch out, Blunkett's about!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Feather Brain

A loving tribute from Hornsey Girl to her Lib Dem MP, Lynne Featherstone over at Meusli Hill. Well worth popping along to.

God's teeth! (via Bloggerheads & ultimate insult)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Paul Foot, tributes

I once resigned my Labour Party membership, and briefly thought about the International Socialists, the chief reason being Paul Foot. Intelligent, articulate, a magnificent and tireless campaigning journalist, particularly on behalf of those who had suffered a miscarriage of justice (Hanratty, the Bridgewater 4 for example) and rare for a Swerp, a cracking sense of humour. Tributes and letters in The Guardian highlight this sad loss at only 66, and the BBC website has some nice personal tributes. No doubt the likes of British Spin will sneer and blame him for all of today's problems, whilst making lame excuses for the New Labour consensus. Tonight I'm very sad.

Bell... Blunkett, Blair

You cover up the truth with lies

It wasn't just the tabloids that told blatant lies in the run up to the war in Iraq. As the lie machine went into overdrive the Guardian, Observer and Sunday Telegraph all repeated ghastly lies as they jumped into line behind the Murdoch gutter press and the Mail. As George Monbiot points out, The Observer has a lot to apologise for.

Welcome back... its been too long

The blog world took a massive turn for the better today... because he's back and spitting bile as good as ever!

Not very PC

Yesterday morning on the Today programme, presenter Jim Naughtie said to David Blunkett that ..."people say, Mr Blunkett, that you have turned a blind eye to drug taking." With no hesitation at all, Blunkett proceeded to answer the question. Should he have done? Is it just a figure of speech? Or should Blunkett have taken the time to correct a very un-PC phrase?

Tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of Blair's succession to the Leadership of the Labour Party and no doubt we will see the balance sheet of the Blair years all over the media. When he made his acceptance speech, Blair said: "I will make the central priority of party organisation the creation of a genuine mass membership party, with roots in our local communities speaking up for those communities because it represents them and their aspirations." Over the New Labour years party membership has fallen drammatically, and the impact of the war in Iraq is still shaking out. So, that was the first failure eh?

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Dubya Blogs

Nice to read that Dubya has started a blogsite. The image of Laura massaging his chaffed nipples, caused by an extremely tight-fitting bullet proof vest, will be always in my mind when I see him now.

Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late

The whispering would appear to be turning into a growing rumble of discontent in the ranks, and you have to wonder if Prescott's plates are beginning to shift. The Cabinet members who urged Blair not to resign are probably those most vulnerable under a Brown leadership. Nothing wrong with a bit of enlightened self-interest I suppose. Everyone assumes Brown, but I suspect the anti-Brown lobby, including the most rabid Blairites, will be looking for the Straw man as an alternative.

Thursday, July 15, 2004


From left to right; Right Honourable Sir John Scarlett GCB, Right Honourable Scarlett Johns MP, Lord John of Scarlett KG GCB CVO (Chair), Right Honourable John O'Scarlett MP, Field Marshal Lord Scarlett KG GCB DL

Courtesy of The Butler Review as is the excellent Spot the WMD game

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth

Apparently in a documentary to be broadcast this evening on BBC, BNP Leader Nick Griffin confesses that he could get seven years in prison for making the sort of speech he was making to his followers. Given the behaviour admitted by BNP members in the film, perhaps the police would like to test Mr Griffin's theory for him.

I know he didn't get seven years cold porridge, but look who else has decided to publicly confront the race issue on TV

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

News Management

When a couple of dozen drunken yobs have a punch up in Portugal it is blazed all over the front pages of our newspapers. When over 800 troops suppress a major riot involving thousands of people in Belfast as the bowler hatted bigots assert their democratic right to intimidate Irish catholics... its mostly tucked away on the inside of the broadsheets and ignored by the tabloids. Obviously the attraction of the bars of the Algarve proved more popular than a pint of the black stuff.

Steve Bell

Monday, July 12, 2004

We did it!

Yes... Yes.. Yes. We did it. we managed to get a result to prevent them converting a local pub in our Ward into this bloody monstrosity...

The Planning Inspectorate have rejected Blue Chip Casinos appeal against the Council decision to refuse them permission to convert The Barleycorn pub into an all-night gambling house. A fantastic victory for people power. We succeeded in making the case that this Planning Application was offensive and disruptive to people in the locality. I'm so pleased I think I'll go and have a pint to celebrate!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

And the words that are used for to get the ship confused will not be understood as they're spoken

A few weeks ago I highlighted a problem my mate Dave Hallam was having on his website because Us search engines were wrongly interpreting his use of the word faggots to describe a traditional (and vile) Black Country dish. Now it would appear the barmy Ofcom have become equally dotty.

Talking of barmy... is the Michael Howard who demanded the Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi should not have been allowed into Britain for making statements justifying the actions of Palestinian suicide bombers, in any way related to the Michael Howard who criticised the Government for detaining Thatcher's mate, the mass murderer Augusto Pinochet?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

You're an idiot babe, its a wonder that you still know how to breathe

Thanks to Left I on the News for this reference to the United States Government's latest piece of lunacy and spite in respect of Cuba. Granma International reports that a programme whereby 80 US medical students from deprived backgrounds learn to become doctors is to be shut down by the Bush administration because it breaks US laws about trading with Cuba. According to Granma "The scholarship program for young U.S. citizens arose in 1999, when Democrat representative Benny Thompson asked President Fidel Castro for help in finding a solution to the lack of doctors in his Mississippi Delta district. One year later, the Cuban president offered a plan of study for individuals unable to pay to study for a medical degree in the United States."

Whilst on the subject of Cuba, if you go to your local branch of Sainsburys and they don't sell Havana Club rum, you can fill in a customer feedback form and ask them to stock it. I persuaded my local store and now they have a supply on display. Most shops sell the imitation Bacardi brand, which claims to be genuine cuban rum but is distilled in the Bahamas. The Bacardi company are very close to US government departments and are heavy backers of the boycott Cuba lobby. So, get your own back, boycott Bacardi and have a Mojito or Cuba Libre made with genuine Havana Club Cuban rum.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Nobody has to think to much on Desolation Row

La Ramblas in Barcelona is endlessly fascinating. Nearly a mile long and for about 16 hours a day full of pavement cafes, street musicians, acrobats, jugglers, and thousands of people wandering up and down. There are dozens of young people who dress up in a wide variety of costumes and stand as still as statues until someone drops a few cents into their cap, and then they switch rapidly to a new pose. I was enjoying one such act whilst quenching my thirst nearby. A chap about 18 years old and a woman slightly younger, coated from head to toe in silver paint and holding various romantic poses, almost totally still. Everything was real pleasant until a small group of youths approached down La Rambla, obviously a few drinks for the worse. They started taunting the kids. Initially just pulling stupid faces and trying to get them to laugh or move. Then, slowly turning nastier as they started to push each other into the two ´statues´. With the sickening realisation that as their voices got louder... they were bloody english, I really feared for trouble. Fortunately, an impressively muscled young American black guy intervened and advised the yobs it was in their best interests to move on quietly...and they did. Britain in Europe? There´s a long way to go.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

How very appropriate

It must be being away from home I suppose, but I tend to check out the sports news (OK, I mean the footie) more often than I would back home. I spotted this headline at the BBC site... but it turned out to be a bit of a let down.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Homage to Catalonia

What a fantastic City Barcelona is. Me and Mrs P. have walked our legs off, and there are wonderful things to see round every corner. Took a tour of the Camp Nou stadium and the sense of importance of the football club to the Catalans seems to breath out of the walls. The Museum and Art Gallery in the main stand has got Dali originals for christ sake! It´s baking hot and I´m going to soak me plates of meat in the bath and get ready for a visit to the Museum of Catalan History before a night on the Sangria.

Is this news?

Apparently, according to a columnist for the Springfield News-Leader, who just so happens to be a woman, men get more pleasure than women from snake whacking. Can you believe it?

Also, for those who thought the US did not enter (and win) the war until after Pearl Harbour, according to On This Day (click next to the date above) today is the 63rd anniversary of the US invasion of Iceland... a full five months before Pearl Harbour. However it doesn´t give any details of the Iceland resistance movement´s response, nor whether an Interim Icelandic Government was established.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

At least Tom knows where it is!

Thanks to Tom Watson for pointing out that one of Sandwell´s two leading Liberals (the other one´s his missus) doesn´t actually realise the election is in Hodge Hill. The poor sod has been desperately searching the map for Hidge Hill. The only other reference I could find for Hidge Hill in Google was on the Liberal Democrats for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Action website, so perhaps there is a Hidge Hill by-election the rest of us haven´t been told about, or the Lib-Dems are preparing for defeat by claiming they won in Hidge Hill!

Monday, July 05, 2004

Be afraid... be very afraid

If you want to look at the sweet side of what is laughingly described as 'President Bush's Compassionate Agenda' just take a look at these comments about Independent journalist Robert Fisk.
Will the last one off the planet please switch the lights out.

And there are no sins inside the Gates of Eden

How much is a limb worth do you reckon. How about £13,000?

Though you might hear laughin', spinnin', swingin' madly across the sun

OK... after working my tabs off all weekend, and presenting a case in a hearing for hour upon hour, in an ungodly hot box of a room all day to-day... it's time to relax. Mrs P. won two airplane tickets in a raffle, and, leaving the sprogs behind, we're heading off to Barcelona for four days rest and relaxation. So, I'll try to track down an Internet Cafe and keep an eye on my blog mates... but for now it's Hasta La Vista, Baby.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

'Nokia' Davies put on silent mode

Lib Dem Watch reports on the latest embarrassing episode in the Nokia Davies mobile 'phone saga. Local residents in Winchester have issued the following:

Press release from Byron Avenue phone mast protesters. 2 July 2004


The row that has erupted over the Lib Dem choice of candidate in the forthcoming Birmingham Hodge Hill by-election comes as no surprise to Winchester phone mast protesters. Given the large number of ongoing Midland phone mast campaigns, they were amazed to learn of the selection of Nicola Davies, Council Liaison Officer for the Mobile Operators Association, whom they got to know well in her previous job with telecom giant Orange.

The long running battle to prevent the company erecting a thirty-nine foot mast in Byron Avenue, a leafy Winchester cul-de-sac, close to a primary school, will be approaching its fourth anniversary when campaigners head back to the High Court in November. They will be hoping to overturn last year's appeal decision in favour of Orange. Ms. Davies appeared as one of the chief witnesses for Orange at the public hearing, which lasted for nine days in total and spanned eight months.

Winchester MP, and Lib Dem frontbencher, Mark Oaten has supported campaigners from the start and spoke on their behalf at the hearing. He has not had a happy relationship with Orange, who had rebuffed his numerous attempts to get the company to find a less contentious site. Byron Avenue campaigners are not expecting him to be rushing up to Birmingham to endorse Ms. Davies' campaign. They believe that Ms. Davies' continuing involvement in promoting telecom companies is at odds with Lib Dem statements about tougher controls on the industry.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

People talk of situations, read books, repeat quotations, draw conclusions on the wall

John Pilger offers some summer reading which balances the scales weighed down by those who have been eulogising about Clinton and Reagan in recent weeks, finishing with a plug for "Heller's satirical masterpiece Catch 22 which tells us something about the madness of America in Iraq."

On the subject of Pilger, from next Sunday, 11th July, ITV are starting a series of documentaries by Pilger, kicking off with "Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq" first shown in 2000, and moving on to films about Vietnam, Burma, South Africa, Palestine and others.

The Godfather is dead. In my opinion one of the greatest acting performances in one of the best movies of all time.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

O.I.L. (Operation Iraqi Liberation)

There's gold in them there sand dunes. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA - not to be confused with the CIA) certainly knew how to find it.