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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Quotes of the Week

"How can a guy with gold teeth sell toothpaste? It's like a bald man selling shampoo."

So says Johnny Depp of the proposal - subsequently rejected - that he should advertise "Captain Jack" toothpaste, the silliest tie-in yet to his Pirates of the Carribbean character. Well done that fabulous man.

Less fabulously, Conrad Black is even more deluded than we thought. Himself facing an almost-absurd 101 years in jail for theft and fraud and other associated nasties, he has written a book on Richard Nixon, in which he claims the shamed former President was merely misunderstood.

"Had it not been for his legal and ethical shortcomings", he says, Nixon would be ranked as one of America's greatest Presidents.

Similarly, "if Conrad Black wasn't such a blatant fraudster, he would be heralded as the best businessman that Canada has ever produced".

Or perhaps, "If the Arctic Circle wasn't so cold and covered in snow and ice, it would be one of the world's most popular sunshine holiday destinations".

Hurrah.

Unequal Rights

Did anyone see the joke at the weekend about the Equal Opportunities Commission (apparently, "working to eliminate sex discrimination in Britain today") paying their male staff more than their female staff?

What do you mean, it's not a joke?

"SEX discrimination watchdogs have been caught out breaking their own guidelines—by paying men MORE than women.
Red-faced bosses at the Equal Opportunities Commission, which campaigns to make sure employers treat men and women the same, have admitted that male staff earn on average nearly £2,000 more than female workers.
The revelation is a major embarrassment for the government-funded body, which has just launched a major three-year campaign to close the national pay gap of £2.41 an hour. It also gives advice to female workers on their rights and fights legal battles to get them equal pay.
Yet it has now revealed that the average salary for its male employees is £26,962...while women get only £25,128. Tory MP Philip Davies, who forced the commission to disclose the figures said: "You really couldn't make this up. This organisation can't even practise what it preaches to everyone else."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Mental Nurse

I’ve checked and double checked, but no: it’s not April 1st. This really is a plan to introduce “robot nurses” into hospitals (Charing Cross Hospital apparently already has one). According to Lord Hunt – who is a HEALTH MINISTER, by the way – the removal of human interaction and communication from the drugs distribution process “will reduce errors and free up staff time”.
Give me fucking strength. How can a man that believes this bullshit is needed by our overstretched NHS system (full as it is of woefully underpaid staff and plagued by MRSA outbreaks and cleaning crises) actually be in charge of making ministerial decisions?
I wouldn’t let the bloke buy me a plaster.

‘ROBOT nurses could be bustling around hospital wards in as little as three years. The mechanised "angels" - being developed by EU-funded scientists - will perform basic tasks such as mopping up spillages, taking messages and guiding visitors to hospital beds. They could also be used to distribute medicines and even monitor the temperature of patients remotely with laser thermometers.
Lord Hunt, the health minister, said: "These robots will reduce errors and free up staff time which can be better spent caring directly for patients. We would like to see more of this kind of innovation in helping to transform patient care."

Saint Bob

Bob Geldof has been having a pop, to anyone who will listen, about the rather daft Live Earth concert being staged in July, apparently to raise awareness of global warming, or something. (Presumably it will do this by using the same amount of power to stage as a small town the size of Telford might use in a week, thus neatly demonstrating what “energy wastage” actually means... but I digress).

Bob’s problem is apparently not – I repeat, NOT – the fact that the name Live Earth is strikingly similar to the name given to a couple of concerts he’s been involved with over the years (his role seemingly restricted to bellowing “give us your fookin’ money” at the nation’s pensioners, which is always a nice message to receive from a multi-millionaire) and the mortifying fact that he will nonetheless not profit from the venture. No, that's not it at all.
Bob’s problem, he insists, is simply that everyone “already knows” about global warming, so why bother?

Well, Bob, everybody “already knows” that you’re a hideously inflated, talentless, self-righteous and hypocritical soap-dodging c**t: does this mean we don’t have to listen to you either?

Not so fine dining

Frank Bandura, the financial director of the restaurant chain Carluccio’s, says that the company’s policy of paying staff £1.60 an hour below the national minimum wage is fair because, “the way we remunerate encourages [our staff’s] best efforts”.

Well, Mr Bandura, how about I halve your wages for a year? You know, just to make sure you’re performing to the best of your abilities?

Mr Bandura also says that several members of the chain’s waiting staff actually take home salaries above the minimum wage, thanks to the tips staff are given by paying customers.
I think it’s less important who pays,” he opines.

Is that right? So it is the job of restaurant diners in London – already one of the most expensive cities in the world in which to eat out – to tip staff NOT because of the good service they may provide, but in order to compensate the restaurant management for paying its staff near-illegal wages? And this is on top of the already grossly inflated prices we’re meant to pay for the actual food itself?
Righto. I’m glad we’ve got that sorted.

Course, for anyone keen on Italian food who happens to find all this rather distasteful, the food at Strada is cheaper and just as palatable as at the disappointingly-average Carluccio’s. Funnily enough, the staff seem happier, too….

Good Lordi

Gosh – I REALLY must visit Finland, it is clearly a most extraordinary sort of a place:

'Former Eurovision Song Contest winners Lordi are making their first film, an English-language horror movie called Dark Floors.
"Lordi goes to the twilight zone is what you can say," said the singer, whose real name is Tomi Putaansuu.
The Finnish band are famous for wearing gruesome latex masks on stage.
Shooting began earlier this month, and the group expect to release the fright feature in Finland by the end of 2007.
But the movie venture is not the first extra-curricular activity for the hard rock band.
Following their Eurovision success last year they opened a Lordi-themed restaurant, Rocktaurant, in their hometown of Rovaniemi.
Items on the menu include the Lordi Burger and Rudolph's Last Journey - a reindeer sausage.'

Friday, May 18, 2007

3-2-1

Right. I realise I’m a helpless pedant in STILL managing to get my knickers in a twist over this, but frankly it’s getting ridiculous. We’ve had 9/11, and being as the Americans (or rather their media) needed a way of describing the event, and being as they legitimately use the month/date order system, their position is basically acceptable. (Our adopting it as well is far less forgiveable, but that’s not the point just now).

But honestly: 7/7? That was just a bit sad. When did it become OBLIGATORY to refer to terrorist bombs and other atrocities by some peculiar ‘trendy’ numeral shorthand? And for the love of God, why?

Does it work retroactively, I wonder? Must we now refer to Eniskillen nonsensically as 11/8? The Guildford Bombing as 10/5? Or Bishopsgate as 4/24?

Apparently not. Because apparently, though we’re following the US example, we’ve actually turned it around to a UK date order. Hence (and I kid you not) 21/7. This apparently is how we refer to a terrorist plot for a bomb attack that never happened.

So does that make 9/11, in actual fact, 11/9?
Anyone?

I need a lie down.


‘21/7 accused 'is absolute liar'

A defendant has been described as an "absolute liar" during heated exchanges in the 21 July bomb plot trial.
Yassin Omar, who set off a device on a Tube train at Warren Street on 21 July 2005, has claimed it was a hoax aimed at highlighting grievances about Iraq.’

Rabid nonsense

You’ve got to love Jose Mourinho. I mean, we knew the man was supremely arrogant (he’s a multi-millionaire, sexy Portugese boss of a successful football club, so that’s hardly an earth-shattering surprise) but I love the fact that his arrogance is of the tongue-in-cheek, comedy “f**k you” variety. Particularly when he’s taking on knacker in the truly delicious ‘terrier-gate’ saga.

‘JOKER Jose Mourinho teased cops who wanted to take away his dog — saying he had sent it to St Tropez. First the Chelsea boss sold police a pup by telling them he needed to make a phone call — and instead carried the family pet to his garden.
Then, said a source, he hopped over a neighbour’s wall to hide the Yorkshire terrier and got a driver to pick it up.
Last night he sensationally admitted HIDING the dog.
Police and animal experts had gone to his mews home on Tuesday night after a vet said he believed the pooch had been abroad and back without vital jabs.
He revealed the bitch was NOT named after former Holland and Chelsea star Ruud Gullit. Its real name is Leya. And he said he was STUNNED by the police action.He went on: “How is it possible that I had eight police officers at my house because of a dog? It’s a disgrace.”

Preston Don

I do love a good Friday story, and nothing beats a tale of a Mafioso godfather being dramatically brought down by the police….in PRESTON.

‘A wanted real-life Mafia godfather has been arrested in Preston on suspicion of four murders.
Gennaro Panzuto, 32, went on the run a year ago following a bloody mob war between rival clans in Naples, Italy.He was traced to a flat in Preston, Lancashire, following months of undercover work by Italian police, working with the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency.
Vittorio Pisano, chief of the Naples Flying Squad, said: "Panzuto is a very senior Mafia member and his arrest is of great significance. He was the head of the Pincirillo clan which he took over from his uncles of the same name when they were arrested two years ago. Panzuto is also wanted for extortion, illegal possession of firearms and Mafia association."
He added: "Preston seems a rather unusual place to hide out as mostly these criminals prefer the South of France or Spain.
"I have never heard of a Mafia man being held in Preston before."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The non-fight club




‘Prince’ Harry isn’t going to go to Iraq after all, because there’s the danger he might get his wee self killed or injured.

Now there’s a surprise.

Wonder what would happen if other military service folk went to their superiors and asked if they could stay at home, due to the unacceptable potential risk to their health and wellbeing of being shipped out to a warzone?

Headline of the Week

Unsurprisingly, from The Sun.

The Story: A woman has been charged with organising a £1.8m benefit scam, from a secret office "accessed only by a door at the back of a wardrobe".

The headline?

"The lying witch in a wardrobe".

I thank you.

Jailhouse Sucks

According to today’s news, drug-addled human vacuum Paris Hilton is only going to serve half of a sentence she received for drunk driving (or as they call it in America, “an alcohol-related reckless driving case”). Not only this, but the silly bint will stay in a ‘unit’ as opposed to a proper prison, which houses 12 two-person cells that are actually reserved for “police officers, public officials, celebrities and other high-profile prisoners”.

Think about that for a second.

If you break the law in America, you go to jail. If you break the law in America and you’re poor and black, statistically you’re going to jail for a fair while longer. If you break the law three times – even if yours is a non-violent crime, such as growing marijuana – you will go to jail for life. And, you probably don’t need me to tell you, they take the phrase “life sentence” a hell of a lot more seriously in America than they do here.

However, if you’re vacuously blonde, stick thin, come from an extremely wealthy family and have been rendered famous by releasing videos of yourself (badly) shagging your boyfriends on the internet, you can drive around “dangerously” on the streets of a major city while out of your tiny mind on booze and drugs, violate your subsequent parole and get no greater punishment than a few weeks in a “celebrity” Hilton-hotel-a-like prison cell as a result of your apparent good behaviour. (Good behaviour in this case simply means showing up to court, apparently.)

And I’ll bet you every penny I have that her little stint inside will do no harm at all to sales of her watches, her perfume, her soon-to-be-released ‘Paris in Prison’ lesbian ‘romps’ movie and its accompanying (no doubt already in the pipeline) “My jail time nightmare” autobiography.

Long live the American dream.

Paris Hilton will serve about half of her 45-day jail sentence and will be separated from the general inmate population, authorities say.
The party-loving hotel heiress will spend about 23 days in a "special needs housing unit" at the Century Regional Detention Centre in Lynwood, Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
Her sentence was shortened after jail chiefs gave her credit for good behaviour, Whitmore said. Officials considered several factors in calculating the credit, including that she appeared for her latest court date, he said.
Hilton will stay in a unit that contains 12 two-person cells reserved for police officers, public officials, celebrities and other high-profile prisoners, he said.
The 26-year-old socialite was sentenced to jail this month for violating the terms of her probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case.’

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Childminding

Now, here's a thing that is going to make me extremely unpopular, but which I (and apparently a fair few other people not gripped by tabloid-fuelled hysteria) feel ought to be said.

A pretty little four year old kid has gone missing in Portugal's Algarve region, and so far - almost two weeks on - there has been no further sign of her.

I'd like to say from the off that this is a terrible, awful and horrible thing to happen to any child and her family, and I hope she is found safe, unharmed and untraumatised.

However, one thing struck me about this when I heard about it in the initial reports: am I right in understanding that this four year old child's parents went out for dinner that night, leaving their three children (two of whom are a mere two years old) asleep, alone, in their unsupervised hotel room?

And am I right in thinking that low-cost babysitting services were offered as standard by the family-oriented holiday company they were booked with?

And am I right in thinking that the parents are both employed as GPs?

Because you see, I find it astonishing to think that any parent would put their child in that sort of position. Before any Daily Mail readers start getting the idea that I'm endorsing some sort of biblical justice bollocks, OF COURSE their neglect doesn't mean the child's parents are at fault over what has happened, and OF COURSE nobody deserves what has taken place.

What I AM saying, quite simply, is that I am very surprised that any parent would leave their three very small children alone in an unfamiliar hotel room in a foreign country without an adult present. Not because they ought to expect their kid to get kidnapped (not really the kind of thing you can protect against I suppose) but how did they suppose their kids would react if they'd woken up feeling sick, or scared, or having had a nightmare, and discovered mummy and daddy nowhere to be found? What if there had been an electrical fault, or a fire?

The rules are simple: you don't expose small children to unnecessary danger, therefore you don't leave them alone to pop out for paella.

I hope they find this kid alive, I really do, but equally, I hope that such "we popped back every half an hour to check" parenting behaviour is as thankfully rare as the child-snatching behaviour under investigation.

On Target

On a day when the police (not unfairly, as it happens) complains about their work being stymied by a pointlessly 'target-driven culture' (apparently the crunch - so to speak - came when they found themselves arresting a teenager for 'throwing a cucumber slice') we ironically find ourselves looking at a 'target' story that is actually cautiously positive.

According to Cancer Research, "by 2020 two-thirds of people diagnosed with cancer should still be alive after five years."

I'm the first to concede that this figure will come as little comfort to those already affected by or suffering from cancer, and frankly, what we really want and need is an out-and-out cure. However, in a world that so often seems unnecessarily, unrelentingly cruel and harsh, the fact that there is hope and optimism for the future being voiced by those people working at eliminating the evil bastard that is cancer should be celebrated as an important step in the right direction.

"By 2020 two-thirds of people diagnosed with cancer should still be alive after five years, say Cancer Research UK.

The goal is one of ten ambitious targets set out by the charity for the future of cancer care.

It comes as figures show a patient with cancer now has a 46.2% chance of being alive ten years after diagnosis compared with 23.6% 30 years ago.

The Department of Health backed the targets and said work was needed to further improve cancer prognosis.

Increased survival over the past three decades can be attributed to earlier detection of cancer, greater use of specialist surgery, cancer screening programmes and advances in treatments.

A team from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that for all cancers combined the ten year survival rose by 11% in the past decade and five-year survival rates increased from 39.7% to 49.6% over the same period.

But survival ranges from just 2.5% for pancreatic cancer to 95% for testicular cancer.

Two-thirds of patients with breast cancer are alive 20 years after diagnosis but there has been no improvement in survival for lung cancer.

Professor Michel Coleman who led the study said within the figures there were success stories and disappointments.

"We don't generally use an overall survival figure for cancer, partly because it is not a helpful number to individual cancer patients anxious to know their own chances.

"But since the new goals relate to cancer as a whole, we feel it is important to define a simple baseline for watching progress."

Nil Points




Now, I will confess to being a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Firstly, if you are over the age of 12 and actually remember a world in which Ceefax was the height of technical innovation, you will be interested to know that, as I once discovered, you can actually read the translated lyrics of all the songs performed if you switch on Teletext. I urge anyone who has not had the joy of this form of semantic entertainment to give it a whirl next time around.

Secondly, and more importantly, there is Terry Wogan. The man is an extremely funny old bugger at the best of times (hence his being by far the most popular DJ on national radio – learn from this, Mr Chris “dirty old whores” Moyles). However, once a year, Terry is given several bottles of Scotch and a microphone, gets locked in a dark room and is asked to give a running (rambling) commentary on a frightening array of Europop performers. It is then, truly, that Mr Wogan comes into his own. He starts well, sniggering well-meaningly at the costumes of the Swiss and Finnish performers, and making “Come in, Orson” jokes about the female presenter’s earrings. By the end of the evening, however, Terry usually gives up altogether on any notion of formality and simply resorts to snorting, chuckling and helpless laughter, while muttering the odd “Jaysus, wouldya look at the state of that?” that duly gets beamed to his grateful British audience.

Without the man and the legend that is Terry, in effect, there would BE no Eurovision audience in Britain, that much is a given. Without Terry, nobody in this country would watch it, much less give a shit who wins it. Eurovision to a British viewer is a kitsch novelty, a secret trashy pleasure, like reading Barbara Cartland and watching “Sunset Beach”.
We don’t really care about the perennial toys-out-the-pram grumblings that we, as a Western European nation, pay more than our fair share to stage a competition that we don’t do well in. It’s not that we’re getting in preparation for our part in the London Olympics, it’s simply that, to us, it’s almost embarrassing that Britain actually takes part at all (it’d be even more enjoyable laughing at Heidi the Singing Goatherder if we hadn’t actually put forward an act in the competition ourselves, let’s face it). Frankly, while we love to point and laugh, actually doing well in Eurovision would be nothing short of mortifying.

Naturally, then, as ‘missing the point’ seems to be a common pastime for our nation’s MPs, the Liberal Democrat Richard Younger-Ross appears to be getting his knickers in a twist over the fact that the United Kingdom doesn’t….well… win it. Apparently, Eurovision voting panels “vote for their neighbours rather than the best songs” ! For SHAME, the SHOCK of it!

Richard Younger-Ross, a word in your ear if I may: if you force the voters to vote ‘properly’, Terry won’t have nearly as much to be slurringly comical about over his third or fourth livener. The programme wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining, the United Kingdom (and all other “we’re above this, really” participants) would be forced to take it seriously, and the whole thing would have the humourous life sucked clean out of it until Eurovision became as much fun as a late-night televised theological debate with the Open University.

Europeans like laughing at each other, Richard. We enjoy it, we’ve been doing it for centuries, and quite frankly, we’d prefer it if you just concentrated on politics (that is, after all, your job) and left us alone to get on with it. OK?

‘The Eurovision Song Contest voting system needs to be changed because it is "harmful to the relationship between the peoples of Europe", an MP has said. Countries voted for their neighbours rather than the best songs, Liberal Democrat MP Richard Younger-Ross said.
And the BBC should insist on voting changes or withdraw from covering the contest altogether, he added. Serbia won Saturday's contest, while the UK was second from bottom, only receiving votes from Ireland and Malta. Mr Younger-Ross said the present structure was a "joke", adding that votes were based "largely on narrow nationalistic grounds".
He has tabled a Commons early day motion, which has been backed by fellow Liberal Democrat Colin Breed plus Labour MPs John Robertson and David Drew. Derek Gatherer, who has spent years studying Eurovision voting patterns, thinks suggesting the current system is a joke is a bit "heavy".’

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Social Design

'Britain's Prince William's ex-girlfriend Kate Middleton has been promoted,' says the headline on an Australian 'Royal News' story.

Apparently, 'The brunette beauty - who split from the prince last month - has won a junior position in Jigsaw's design department, after just six months of working as an assistant jewellery buyer for the popular high street fashion chain.
A source told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper: 'A lot of people have been moved as part of a major shake-up. Now she might even design her own line. That would be exploiting her name, perhaps, but they would make a fortune.
'I don't think they would have done this if she's still been with William, because it looks like favouritism.'


Riiiiight. If not 'favouritism' (what a beautifully quaint term that is to describe nauseatingly toadying nepotism towards the modern aristocracy!), does anyone want to tell me what this DOES look like?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Californispeak

This is the American actor Will Smith's wife Jada Pinkett Smith, apparently talking about Tom Cruise's missus Katie Holmes (about who I am saying nothing, by the way. NADA. There's two groups of people I don't mess with in life: estate agents and Scientologists. Reasons are obvious).

Anyway, here are some choice excerpts from Jada, chuntering away quite happily to PEOPLE magazine:

"There was one incident when I turned to Will – we were in their dining room, just the four of us, we were sitting and talking – Kate made a comment, and that was the moment I was like, "You know what? I can ride with her."

"I can see how people wouldn't see this, but when you look at Kate now [compared to] when she first met Tom, she's more confident and more knowing who she is than ever before... I've watched that metamorphosis – how Kate has blossomed into this woman. Because her life changed very quickly, she moved from one person into another."On reports that Holmes is a 'prisoner':
"It burns my soul – I see her in the house with Tom; he doesn't have that on her! It kills me. 'Tom's this monster and he's got her chained up in the basement and he's forcing Scientology down her throat' – it's bulls---. Let me tell you: Kate ain't no little wimpy kitty cat. It's not that ballgame. For real."

"She very much carries the idea that people better not [mess] with my family. She gets fired up. When she gets to that mode, it makes me step back. I was like, 'Okay!' And Tom looks at me and goes, 'See? See? Did you see that?' And I go, "Yeah, I saw that – hell yeah.' It amazes me."

She's got a quiet thunder. When she walks into a room, or you see her in a magazine – it's a thunder that people are attracted to. It's quiet and it's very subtle, but it's extremely powerful."

"They are a happy family. And they're strong. The forces they have right now are amazing. They're like any other loving family that just wants peace and harmony and to be able to thrive in a nurturing environment, in an energy that supports their union."

"If you think about the transition she's done, with as much grace she's had, and on top of it with the attacks – I don't know how she does it. Nobody really looks at that."

"Tom don't run nothin' in that house! It is Katie's house. It's her world! The devotion that Tom has to his wife, and the places he'll go to make her happy – spiritually, where he will go as a man for his woman."
Now then. I realise that:

a. The woman is an actress, and so is clearly insane
b. She lives in LA, and so is clearly insane
c. She hangs around with people who truly believe they are the reincarnation of aliens or some other putty-headed theory, and so is clearly insane

but really: what in the BUGGERY FUCK name of JESUS is the silly troll on about? I can 'ride with her'? Unless you're actually auditioning to play a part in the world's least palatable porno, what ARE you vomiting on about, woman?

I think we should scrap celebrating 'Talk Like a Pirate Day' this year (September 19th, in case you were wondering), in favour of 'Talk Like an American Actor Day'.
It'll be a hell of a lot more challenging.

Shiver me timbers.

Drunken semantics

'Actor David Hasselhoff has said footage leaked on TV and the internet, in which he appears drunk, shows him relapsing from treatment as an "alcoholic".'

Erm....relapsing from alcoholism treatment?

So, drunk, then?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Boulton brilliance

I thought it was worth copying this GEM of a piece of journalism from SKY’s Adam Boulton (written in last week’s Sunday Mirror) because it really is quite special.

Talking about Africa and the need to elimimate poverty across the continent, Boulton says that certain nations – specifically Germany and Japan – should be doing more to honour their G8 Summit pledges to commit more money to Africa aid. Fair enough.

However, he then goes on to address the sticky problem of African political corruption – something which even the most na├»ve of political observers would have to concede is at least partially responsible for many of the problems suffered by African nations. With the best will in the world, it simply isn’t always sensible to throw millions of pounds worth of charity at corrupt administrations, even if their citizens are desperate, sick and poor. And even if you (not unfairly) believe that the needs of stricken people are great enough to do precisely that, it can’t be said to be the fault of the aid-giver if the money mysteriously fails to reach its needy intended recipients.

Unfortunately, in today’s bushnblairbaiting media world, it simply doesn’t do to suggest that every last one of the world’s problems might not be ENTIRELY the fault of the big, bad nasty Western democracies. (Even, apparently, if you work for SKY News. Make of that what you will).
In this article, Boulton genuinely appears to be suggesting that African governments have absolutely no obligation to behave in a democratically accountable, fair and legitimate fashion towards their electorate, because – steady yourself – why the hell should they when we don’t give them the money we promised them?
Well, quite. I mean, why should any government autonomously behave with moral and ethical integrity? That the Nigerian government - a full 12 years after the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa – continues to show contempt for human rights, moral decency and the structure of democratic rule…well, that’s not their fault. It’s ours.

Adam Boulton is the Political Editor of Sky News. He is 48.

‘For all the warm words and posturing at the UN Millennium Summit and the Gleneagles G8 meeting, rich nations such as Germany and Japan have not yet deigned to put their money where their mouths were.

The panel launch was in Germany because Angela Merkel is this year's G8 president.

At least Frau Merkel had the decency to look embarrassed as she claimed Germany still had time to make good on its pledges.

Bob Geldof thinks otherwise. He says we will miss the goal of eliminating world poverty unless payments are back on track by 2010. Scornfully, Geldof pointed out that Germany's failure to meet the UN aid target of 0.7 per cent of its gross national income came to £375million - the same amount raised by "a single British man, Richard Curtis" on Red Nose Day.

The deal in 2000 was that we'd give Africa the help - and in return they'd try to govern democratically. As this week's corrupt Nigerian elections showed, the Africans are struggling to deliver on their side of the bargain. But if we don't honour our pledges, why should they?’