Thursday, August 31, 2006

Ride On....

This morning a package arrived from Amazon containing a real gem... the new double cd by one of the planet's greatest living Irishmen, Christy Moore. 35 songs, mostly from his extensive back catalogue, performed at The Point in Dublin by Christy with Declan Sinnot, and bloody good it is too. Not so long ago it seemed as if we had lost the man permanently as a consequence of years of alcohol (and other substance) abuse, and it is tremedous to hear him in such terrific form. One of the highlights is the old Moving Hearts classic, Hiroshima Nagasaki Russian Roulette... and the whole lot for less than six pounds fifty via Amazon.... I'm sending off for the dvd tonight!
I don't know whether this is true... but someone told it to me at the weekend and it made me laugh. Bono is at a U2 concert when he asks the audience for some quiet. Then in the silence, he starts to slowly clap his hands. Holding the audience in total silence, he says into the microphone... "Every time I clap my hands, a child in Africa dies." A voice from near the front pierces the silence... "Well, f***ing stop it then!"

10,000 Reasons Civilisation is Doomed

This is a list that is started by the people, aggregated by the people and an offering to all people everywhere that want to take solace in a list that proves that we are not being fooled. Rather, we are on to all the bullshit out there and want to make it clear to anyone that adds to this list that you, too, can take comfort in like-minded individuals that have come together to express the 10,000 Reasons Civilization is Doomed. Perhaps if we are heard, some of the doom can be deterred.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Keep the faith

A letter in The Guardian:
"It won't only be the bookmakers queuing up if Peter Wilby is prepared to put his money where his mouth is. Most of us can work out that the Cameron position is false, as he has been given an easy ride by a media obsessed with its own self-appointed role in ending the Blair premiership. Wilby makes much of Labour's lack of cabinet talent post-Blair, but who does he think Cameron is going to offer us beyond a small group of old Etonians, tired Thatcherites and Boris Johnson? Does Wilby really believe that the hundreds of thousands of us who have benefited from a stable economy are going to recklessly pass it into the hands of an untested unknown? But the biggest argument against his prediction is that out here in the sticks the Tories are still the same bickering, small-minded group - much more Howard than Cameron."
David Wotherspoon
Downholland, West Lancashire

Just to emphasise the last point... there is THIS... and THIS.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Not so much a bang as a whimper

I've said this before... but I think it is worth repeating. In the late 1970's there were a group of, comfortably off, largely middle-class, often trotskyist and frequently law students or journalists, who advocated a Labour defeat in 1979. A Tory victory, they argued, would mobilise the working class, give rise to a militancy in the trade unions, and allow Labour to refresh its ranks and renew its strategies. Well, a bloody fine strategy that turned out to be. We had 18 years of reactionary Conservative rule, pit closures, closure of the steel industry and our manufacturing base, decimation of the national health service and savage attacks on education and public sector investment. I only repeat all this because of this twaddle in The Guardian today.
"A period in opposition, far from being a disaster, will be the final test of the durability of Blair's historic transformation."
Particularly for former editors of the New Statesmen with comfortable bank accounts to rest on, no doubt.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

A wag in the crowd.

The new owner turned up at Villa Park today and the crowd on the Holte End burst into a chorus of "Randy, Randy give us a wave, give us a wave, give us a wave". To hilarious laughter the chap sitting in front of me stood up and waved towards the crowd behind him!


The DeThatchification of the Conservative Party continues apace as David Cameron administers another 40 lashes to the old witch by admitting they were wrong to support the white racist regimes in South Africa. This will have the old Major-Generals and landed gentry vomit over breakfast as they react in the same way as that old duffer Ingham who says... 'I wonder whether David Cameron is a Conservative.' Bernard, get with it, Cameron is trying to drag the retards into the 20th Century, get on board or leave the bandwagon.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Getting to grips with business

As NHS Trusts gear themselves up for Foundation Trust status the Government are placing a great emphasis on the need for 'business' skills. Presumably the thinking is that if you are going to throw the NHS to the markets, you need to ensure that the Chairs and Non-Excecutive Directors have got a grounding in how markets work and how private companies are run. The argument continues, the existing non-execs with a base in the community have presided over record funding deficits, and the new commercially orientated non-execs will steady the ship (based on their stunning successes in running British industry). So... this little article made me chortle.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Thursday, August 24, 2006

His Masters Voice

Conservative blogger and media luvvie Iain Dale has got his boxers in a twist over remarks made in The Sun yesterday. Iain gets all precious because Blunkett suggests that the Tories were using him to play the race card for them on a tv programme watched by one man and his dog on Sunday night. Blunkett clearly implies that because playing the anti-immigration card does not befit the, warm, cuddly, New Tory image that the boy Dave wants to cultivate, they used Iain Dale to do it for them. I suspect the allegation is untrue... and I have no reason to doubt Iain's word that he had not had any contact with Cameron, nor even his old boss David Davis. But interestingly, in the heat of his righteous indignation over Blunkett's remarks, Iain says... "After all, it was you who reassured us that only 13,000 Eastern Europeans would come here. Remind us, what was the final number? 600,000, was it?" Now, where could Iain Dale have got this 13,000 figure from? Well, it was a figure thrown at Blunkett in 2004 during a debate on the enlargement of the EU... by none other than his old mukker David Davis. In reply, Blunkett said... "I have never said that there would be only 13,000 people... We published independent research on the website last summer, with its methodology. The figure of 13,000 has never crossed my lips. We will not know the situation until people apply for the vacancies that exist in our economy."
That didn't stop Davis from repeating the allegation 8 months later in another debate... nor the independently-minded, entirely unconnected 'conservative commentator' continuing to peddle the untruth 2 years later.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Steve Ajao at Bearwood Jazz

For those Midlands based bloggers who are not trekking off to the centre of the universe tomorrow for the Bloggers4Labour bash... you can see the excellent Steve Ajao Quartet at Bearwood Jazz. Steve had a really serious accident last year when he was mowed down by a car and spent days in intensive care with head injuries and fractured bones. He still has problems with mobility (will we ever see his hendrix-style guitar work again) but at least he can now play the sax without the aid of a barstool. It promises to be a good night all round.

(Steve Ajao - photo courtesy of Russ Escritt)


Legofesto - Israel in Lebanon: "If You Haven't Left, You're Hezbollah" Hat tip to Blairwatch.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

You've got a lot of nerve...

On your journey through hell you will meet the avaricious, just past them you will come across the greedy, they will be followed by the downright mean, money-grabbing selfish bastards. Then, when you think you have sunk so low it can get no worse.... you arrive here!

And believe it or not, there will still be some lamebrains who wander around twittering... "He did a lot of good for the club." "He put a lot of money in when we needed it." "He had the club at heart did Mr Aston Villa!" Cobblers! It has been take, take and take again, right to the very last day!

Right wing voting fraud?

There are some very sad individuals out there.

Cameron's Tories are revolting

With an interesting analogy, James Cleverly thinks David Cameron could be grabbing the arse end of the snake by trying to get more women Tory MPs. The old Tory comes out in James though...
"I am not convinced women, especially mothers, are as willing as men to put their families into second place to fight an election."

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I've been tagged...

I don't normally do these things... but I've been tagged by Iain Dale, so, here goes...

The Meme of 3

1... Things that scare me
Bats and rats

2.…People who make me laugh
Peter Kay
Buster Keaton
Tony Hancock

3...Things I hate the most
Birmingham City Football Club

4...Things I don't understand

Foreign languages
How pictures come down that wire on to my television screen
People who are enthusiastic about DIY

5...Things I'm doing right now
Typing this
Listening to 6.0.6
That’s enough… I don’t do multi-tasking

6...Things I want to do before I die
Read the obituaries of Margaret Thatcher and Doug Ellis
See Labour elected and carry out a socialist manifesto
Write a novel

7... Things I can do

Ride a bike
Be a little tactless

8. Ways to describe my personality

(I’m told)

9. Things I can't do
Climb mountains (or stepladders) See Q.1
Give up drinking

10...Things I think you should listen to
Charlie Gillett, BBC London 8pm, Saturdays
Bob Dylan
Jazz, live at Corks, Bearwood

11...Things you should never listen to
My wife snoring (or don't let me catch you)
Norman Tebbitt
Gangsta Rap

12...Things I'd like to learn

To keep my big mouth shut
To draw
To play guitar

13...Favorite foods
Fresh French bread
Blue Stilton

14...Beverages I drink regularly
Timothy Taylor’s Landlord Bitter
Batham’s Bitter

15...Shows I watched as a kid

Bill & Ben the flowerpot men
Champion the Wonder Horse
Dixon of Dock Green

16. People I'm tagging...
Lobster Blogster
Mike Ion


David Grossman, the celebrated Israeli writer, publicly urged his government to accept a ceasefire. And then...


As I said I would, I have spent much of the weekend (in between watching endless re-runs of Olof Mellberg's towering header) crawling around in the loft, sifting through hundreds upon hundreds of vinyl LP's in order to convert selected albums and tracks into MP3 files for the ipod. Well, the good news is... it works! Even someone with my limited technical knowledge has been able to do it, and I'm currently listening through the ipod to....
Man Kind - Misty in Roots - Live from the Counter-Eurovision, 1979.

The following quote from the intro to that track was played at Peel's funeral:
"When we trod this land, we walk for one reason ... to try to help another man think for himself. The music of our hearts is roots music, music which recalls history, because without the knowledge of your history, you cannot turn in your destiny: the music about the present, because if you are not conscious about the present, you're like a cabbage in this society."
Too true mate... and good news for anyone from the South Wales area... Misty are coming there next Saturday!

I'll list my favourite vinyl to mp3 selection later this week.. but for now I'm going to start downloading.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I will be spending most of this weekend scrabbling around in the loft sorting through the 2,000 or so vinyl albums stashed away up there. I haven't owned a turntable for about 7 years when the CD finally won the war and I had to resort to sorting around the shops to recreate the back catalogue. Obviously not everything got replaced. Some were so obscure that they were not translated to CD, and some albums had just one standout track but didn’t warrant the exorbitant price being demanded for the whole album. Then, as the mp3 revolution arrived, the prospect of vinyl became even more remote... although folks down the pub were always passing on highly technical, and as such, useless advice about transferring vinyl to cdr and then on to the ipod.

But today… this arrived in the post and my life can be complete again.

The BIG kick off

OK, just two days to go to the start of the football season proper. Yes, I know, the bluenoses and yam yams around here think it has been going two weeks already, and they are busy pretending that football is much more fun, cheaper, contains less diving and cheating etc. etc. outside of the top division. It makes you wonder why they were in such depths of despair last season as the tumbled the first steps to hopeful oblivion. Still, people in Colchester, Southend and Plymouth can look forward to their weekend being invaded by neanderthal brummies telling everyone how the sleeping giant is about to wake up.

So, for all of them who have already forgotten what life is like in the fast lane...

Alternatively, you can have even more fun HERE.

(PS - this smug, boasting piece of arrogance is written in advance of the opportunity we have been given to allow the gooners to inflict their usual brand of homocide on our defence in celebratation of the opening of their new stadium)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ask the powerful 5 questions

1. What power have you got?
2. Where did you get it from?
3. In whose interest do you exercise it?
4. To whom are you accountable?
5. How can we get rid of you?

Only democracy gives us that right.
That is why no-one in power likes democracy.
- and that is why every generation must struggle to win it and keep it.
Including you and me - here and now.

You can read more here.

An offer of help....

Apparently, Walsall Illuminations need a new name! I could suggest a few things, but I bet they don't ask me. You can e-mail your suggestions here.

No depth charge

My online dictionary definition of the word vacuous states:

1. Devoid of matter; empty.

2. a. Lacking intelligence; stupid.
b. Devoid of substance or meaning; inane: a vacuous comment.
c. Devoid of expression; vacant: “The narrow, swinelike eyes were open, no more vacuous in death than they had been in life” (Nicholas Proffitt).

3. Lacking serious purpose or occupation;

There can be no better description than the word vacuous to describe the performance by the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition, David Cameron, on the Today programme this morning. I have crticised Tony Blair more than most over the last decade... but the very notion that this silly public schoolboy Cameron could lead the country is barely credible. Thatcher was brutal, Major was boring, Hague and IDS were joke figures, Howard had substance, though people just didn't like his substance, but Cameron is just.... well, vacuous!

It certainly seems like the old duffers at The Telegraph are getting worried:
Mr Cameron's ill-judged sally gave John Prescott the opportunity to wallow in righteous (and wholly artificial) indignation, describing the Conservative leader's remarks as "beyond belief" at a time "when we should all stand united". Political sanctimony from Mr Prescott is hard to stomach, but it has to be said that Mr Cameron left himself wide open to the attack. We trust his future musings on these complex issues will be both more thoughtful and more memorable.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Private Farr (8871 - 1st West Yorks) was found guilty of "mis-behaving before the enemy in such a manner as to show cowardice". Private Farr simply refused to return to the trenches while suffering from "shell shock". After two years on the Western Front he was so badly affected that he spent five months in hospital. Despite this he was found guilty at the court-martial and executed in Northern France. Well done Des Browne, Andrew Mackinlay and most of all, Gertrude Harris (now aged 93) . Now it seems... John Reid may soon arrive at the same opinion. It would have been even better if Gertrude Harris had been given that peace of mind 8 years ago!

Nice and sleazy does it...

Bloody hell! This bloke is not even having the decency to wait a while before he dips his hands up to the elbows in the sleaze bucket. Coming on top of this it seems Cameron and co. are vadvertising the fact that they are 'open for business'. No doubt aspirant Tory MP Iain Dale has already started his Book of New Tory Sleaze.

Coming.... and going

A comrade of my for many years has started his own blog - just before he goes on holiday, perhaps not the best time to start - and today he explains why he is no longer a member of the Labour Party.
"Well I finally got my reward for this unstinting loyalty - I received a letter saying that because I had failed to pay my membership fee within the first six months of this year (having never missed a payment for the last 31 years) I WAS NO LONGER A MEMBER. Nice to be wanted eh?
My thoughts on this - thanks for nothing and goodbye!!."

More takeover talk

Lerner bid for Villa is apparently not a done deal... yet.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The world's greatest lover?

I can ass-ure you... this guy is hot!

Oh happy day....!

I detest the notion of Football Clubs being taken over by US (or Russian) billionaires to use them as their playthings, or even to asset strip them. But given the fact that Aston Villa Football Club has been in the hands of one of life's most malevolent creatures for a quarter of a century... today's news must be regarded as a blessed release. I despise the very air that a very small group of people use, (Margaret Thatcher, Ariel Sharon... and Doug Ellis?) so today I will raise a mojito to Randy Lerner (whose very name conjures up an image of a student called Sean who I once shared a flat with).

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Lubbly jubbly

Our local curry house, the always excellent Haweli in Bearwood... actually gets a little feature in The Guardian Weekend magazine, including a rather good illustration (which unfortunately doesn't appear in the online edition).

Stomp the dirt down!

Should we honour the mother of a convicted terrorist... or should she burn in hell for eternity. Your chance to vote.


You probably don't have time in the week when you're pinching a few minutes at work to surf the blogs... but relax, it's the weekend. Take your time, put this on in the background and let 'Trane and Miles blow while you surf.

Missing it

I now know why people who go to Tuscany want to go back. Sunset over Bearwood is delightful... but it just doesn't compare.

The ego has landed

Is there a football manager with a more inflated reputation than Terry Venables. For over 20 years he has beed feted by the London based media as if he was the best football coach on the planet, with just the right combination of the cheeky cockney chappie with the coaching skills of Marcello Lippi. I just cannot believe the hype he has received this week. Eriksson is castigated and dismissed as a failure because he 'only' got us to the quarter final of two World Cups and a European Championship... El Tel is the Messiah who got us to the semi-final of the European Championship with every game played at Wembley! His achievements in the last 20 years appear to have been to help to avoid relegation with Middlesboro with a Chairman with more money than sense (sufficient qualification incidentally to enable his new boss to get the main job), winning an FA Cup Final with Tottenham (on that basis John Sillett or Bobby Gould could claim the job) and contributing towards getting Leeds United relegated... oh, and that Euro 96 semi-final. Not to mention, of course, conducting a business career which would make Del Boy Trotter look like a pillar of the community.

Anyway... this is no major prediction... but I suspect the FA will be writing out the P45's for El Tel and his boss sometime in the next 18 months... and McClaren will carry the can whilst Tel Boy will go with his media image untarnished.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Labour Conference Blogger? Moi?

Innovative, fresh, enthusiastic blogger wanted. What gives me the impression that they are not thinking of me?

Lords Reform

Elect the Lords. "The power of political patronage has to be protected. Preferment and promotion are the levers the party whips use to coerce loyalty from recalcitrant MPs, and it is alleged that party fundraisers sometimes dangle peerages in front of prospective donors."
Billy Bragg on commenting on the hint that only 50% of the reformed house might be elected is the feeble admission that hard choices are being evaded.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ceasefire Now

Tony Benn and others calling for a Ceasefire Now in the Lebanon.

Essential reading

The Independent has, until now, tended to make Robert Fisk's superb articles on the Middle East part of their subscription service. They appear to have decided now we can all read them. Crocodile tears of leaders as city burns.

Monday, August 07, 2006


This was the stunning view across the pool and the Tuscany hillsides from the patio of our holiday apartment in Tuscany. I'm not going to bore you with the complete set, but I will post some other pics on the Flickr site as soon as I can get round to it. There is also more about these wonderful, peaceful apartments on Jules and George's website. (Thanks to George for towing me out of the ditch last week when I went off the road - only joking if you're reading this from the car hire company).

Legover time

I'm sure Inzy didn't join in the laughter... but this was just the moment for Jonathan Agnew to recreate his famous "he just couldn't get his leg over" remark, although without Jonners being reduced to fits of hysterics alongside him, it could never work again.

Role Reversal

Tony Benn in Media Guardian writing about his forthcoming interviews with interviewers. Should be worth watching.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Home Thoughts

Well, I’m back, and at least I’ll be able to follow the news a bit easier now, and as far as I’m concerned the appointment of Martin O’Neill is only part of the job. As I posted a number of times when he was up for the England job, I’m not half as convinced of O’Neill’s qualities as he, or his mates in the media are. He won a couple of League Cups with Leicester (even Big Fat Ron has won that for us) and finished first in a two horse race in Scotland. But compared to the job he has got on at Villa Park, they were easy-peasy, particularly whilst that scrote continues to run the club. Still, I wish him all the best (Martin, that is… you really don’t want to know my wishes for Doug Ellis), but as my curmudgeonly old mate Ernesto texted me in Italy to say… “Yippee! We’ve got a manager who thinks Robbie Savage and Alan Thompson are footballers!”

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mug of the Month

The Tories have been scrabbling around all sorts of useless characters to stand instead of Nobber to get a bashing from Ken Livingstone in the London Mayor elections. Ian Dale, bless his little silk socks, has come up with a cracker! Ken will be shaking in his boxers when he reads this.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I have not shared a bed with Neil and Christine Hamilton (yet)

In this modest Tuscan cottage we are staying in, beaming down from the top of the stairs is a signed photograph of the fragrant Christine Hamilton smiling lovingly at her weedy husband Neil. At first I thought I was going to be able to post a blog headed "Councillor Piper shares a bed with the Hamilton's" but I thought I had better confirm that in advance of another missive from my old friends at Carter Ruck. A good job I checked too, because it turns out that Neil and Christine had not in fact stayed here, but the owner had appeared alongside them in the 'Rocky Horror Show'.

Wolfie goes for it!

It would seem that the Labour heirarchy are running scared that Wolfgang may win a seat on the National Executive Committee. I am assured in my holiday hidey-hole that the panic is not because Blairites are now deciding to switch to Wolfgang because of his insistence that Jack straw was talking rubbish!