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Monday, November 17, 2008

70% Genius

I love that the tabloids are obsessed with this dead baby - and are particularly obsessed with giving a platform to the startling number of the dead child's relatives that are now coming forward to declare with righteous outrage how they themselves had “warned” the council and its social workers that the child was in mortal danger.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but: OF COURSE a doctor who failed to identify that anything was wrong with a clearly bruised child with broken fingers, missing fingernails, 8 broken ribs and a broken spine (otherwise known as a ‘paralysed’ child) should be brought to tribunal. Of COURSE a social worker who failed to identify the gravity of the situation with regard a child who had been seen 60 times for over 45 acknowledged injuries should not be allowed to work with children again.

But can you tell me what moral right the grandmother/cousin/neice/absent father of ANY small child has to even the smallest IOTA of outrage if they themselves did not do anything to remove the child from danger? And not just talk about how they “tried” to remove the child but were forced to hand it back. If any child of mine or my family was having its fingertips removed with a Stanley Knife as a piece of home theatre entertainment, there is no social worker, no court, frankly no WEAPON in the land that would persuade me to relinquish that child back into the care of those that had inflicted the harm.

“Oh look, my 18 month old son/grandson/nephew/fill in as appropriate appears to be being beaten senseless on a regular basis by its parents and carers, I simply must take action. I know, I’ll call the council to complain. After all, the welfare of my family is their sole responsibility, isn’t it?”

No, blame culture c**ts of Britain, it really isn’t.

And talking of blame culture, I heard probably THE best example of a person absolving themselves of personal responsibility the other day (and as this one doesn’t involve beaten-to-death children, it’s a lighter note to end on, frankly).

In a piece on the ‘credit crunch’ (it may have been local news – I dunno, maybe I was waiting for Coronation Street) there was a chap being interviewed about his nigh-on insurmountable debts and the “anguish” they had caused him and his wife as they were chased by credit companies. These companies, it transpired, were after him for the return of a grand total of £65,000, which he had spent.
On credit cards.
On cruises, five-star safaris and other “lifestyle luxuries”.
He said, and I quote, “The fact is that I now owe £65,000. And at the end of the day, I’m not completely a victim [!!!!!!!!!!!!!!] because it was me that took out the loans and I spent the money, so I know that I am partially responsible. So I’d say that I’m about 70% responsible, but the banks are 30% responsible because they shouldn’t have lent me the money knowing I couldn’t pay it back”.

Absolute genius.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Political Heavyweights

Right. Well. While I've been too busy doing tedious things like working, it appears the world has gone even more fucking mental than ever.

While America celebrates it's own political events of historical significance (or if you're a newspaper journalist, revels in a never-before-seen event of monumentous, near-indescribable proportions that directly affects everyone on the face of the earth, as well as absolving the nation of its racist past, particularly the rather pesky murder of Martin Luther King, oh dear, I'm welling up), senior politicians in THIS country have been busily occupying themselves with similarly poignant and vital events of major national significance.

By this, I am of course talking about the random and entirely unexplained reference to the 'voting off' of a reality television programme singing contestant named Laura White (which apparently took place this week on a tedious 'reality' music programme on ITV called X Factor) by Andy Burnham. In the House of Commons.

No, really, I meant to put that: the Culture Secretary Andy Burnham gave a speech to the House of Commons about this programme, telling his bemused (and one can only hope, drunk) colleagues how sad he was that Ms White had failed in her quest to become a talentless music industry puppet. Sad, sad sad, he was. No, REALLY.

'Even the Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, had something to say about the show in Parliament.
He said White, who lives in his constituency of Leigh in Greater Manchester, was "wonderful and talented" and the decision to axe her was "very harsh".'

An explanation for this absurd mockery of the democratic process is seemingly, if the BBC is anything to go by, deemed depressingly unnecessary.

Meanwhile, in other political news, the former (and formerly-respected) political journalist John Sergeant is apparently not doing very well in his bid to make cash as a cheap media whore by ballroom dancing badly on a BBC programme hosted by Bruce Forsyth, RIP (1807-1983).

Excuse me, I'm just off to boil my head in a vat of glue.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Supermodels’ undercarriages

Story on the BBC today about ‘designer vaginas’, in which a London-based urogynaecologist told a conference, in Canada (somehow you knew it would be) that the trend for women to get their lady gardens ‘fixed’ to look purdier is “worrying”.

Perhaps more worrying is the quote she gives to the BBC on the subject:

"Women want to emulate the supermodel. It's part of a trend,” she says.

Erm… have I missed something, or aren’t supermodels generally known for the slenderness of their bodyframes and the uninspiring prettiness of their faces?

Since when did the poor underfed minxes become women with well-documentedly tidy labia?

P.S. The designer vagina operation is called a labiaplasty. What kind of a sense of humour bypass must the plastic surgery industry have had not to want to call it a labotomy?

'A leading urogynaecologist has spoken out against the growing popularity of cosmetic vaginal surgery.
Professor Linda Cardozo, of King's College Hospital, London, says little evidence exists to advise women on the safety or effectiveness of procedures.
These include operations to make the external appearance more "attractive" and reshaping the vagina to counter laxity after childbirth, for example.
She discussed the issues at a medical meeting in Montreal, Canada.
A Google search showed over 45,000 references to cosmetic vaginal surgery, yet on medical databases such as PubMed or Medline there were less than 100.
Professor Cardozo said the most established vaginal cosmetic procedure was reduction labioplasty - a procedure to make the labia smaller - which is requested by women either for aesthetic reasons or to alleviate physical discomfort.
"Women want to emulate the supermodel. It's part of a trend. But they should know that all surgery can be risky.
"Most of the procedures are done in the private sector and it's totally unregulated."
The exact numbers of procedures carried out are unknown.
In the past five years there has been a doubling of the number of labial reductions carried out on the NHS from 400 in 2000/1 to 800 in 2004/5.
Growing trend
The evidence from existing case studies shows that the procedure, which costs about £2,000 at a private clinic, does have positive aesthetic results but it is unclear whether it resolves feelings of psychological distress or improves sexual functioning, she said.
And there was little evidence that "vaginal rejuvenation" - the surgical repair of vaginal laxity, with a price tag of about £3,000 - improved symptoms and was any better than doing simple pelvic floor muscle exercises.
She said robust research was needed so that doctors could properly advise their patients. In the meantime, she urged surgeons to remain cautious and operate only as a last resort.
In her presentation at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 7th International Scientific Meeting, Professor Cardozo said: "Cosmetic vaginal procedures raise a number of serious ethical questions.
"Women are paying large sums of money for this type of surgery which may improve the appearance of their genitalia but there is no evidence that it improves function."'

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"My heart just broke for the terrorist cause"

So here we have another dippy American actress glamourising the IRA and its illustrious work of the 1970s-1990s.

I UNDERSTAND that the IRA are, by virtue of being Irish, intrinsically cool to some in the US.

I UNDERSTAND that the IRA are OK because their targets were the English and not their good old friends in America - that nation that saved them from the potato famine, saved them from British oppression, and in which (obscurely when you think about it) huge numbers of people identify themselves as being 'Irish' because they come from Boston or New York and have great grannies from Tipperary.

And I UNDERSTAND that the issue of Irish Republicanism looks terribly black and white, terribly David and Goliath, and terribly easy to unravel in the eyes of people who can't be bothered to understand it properly: think Mel Gibson and his interpretation of Scottish nationalism for a nice wee comparison.

But it's still all a bit tiring, isn't it?

Many in America have tended to think of members of the IRA as being, in reality, much as they portray them in the movies: good looking (Daniel Day Lewis crossed with Brad Pitt crossed with Aiden Gillen with a soupcon of Colin Farrell, if you like), passionate and troubled souls who are perhaps misguided, yet glamorously violent and - here's the key thing - JUSTIFIED - freedom fighters. And as long as the knees they were capping and the children they were blowing up were located in Derry, Birmingham or London, they could continue funding the IRA to their hearts content and no harm done (Angelica Huston, you stupid bitch, I'm looking at you).

Interestingly, after America found itself the victim of a major terrorist incident (seven years ago today, in fact), many of those same people who had been quick to sympathise with the IRA's 'cause' (they have a cause, see, not like those pesky towel heads) found that, actually, they weren't really all that fond of terrorism after all.
It's no coincidence that the IRA's demotion to 'yesterday's terrorists', with funds drying up quicker than they could blink, happened at much the same time as Al Qaeda started to take violent action against what it saw as an internationally oppressive US.

Which makes these remarks by actress Rose McGowan (me neither) particularly surprising and particularly hilariously misjudged. Because while she might think she's on safe ground staying off the topic of Middle Eastern politics on September 11th, and promoting her movie by chuntering about the once-again-cute-but-dangerous Irish brand of terrorists, all you have to do is replace the phrase 'IRA' in the story below with 'Al Qaeda' and 'Belfast' for 'Kabul' and you realise just how completely she has got that wrong.

'Hollywood actress Rose McGowan has said she would have joined the IRA if she lived in Belfast during the Troubles.
McGowan stars in Fifty Dead Men Walking, an adaptation of IRA informer Martin McGartland's autobiography.
"My heart just broke for the cause," she told a news conference ahead of the film's world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"Violence is not to be played out daily and provide an answer to problems, but I understand it."
The film also stars Jim Sturgess as Mr McGartland and Sir Ben Kingsley as his British handler.
It tells the story of how Mr McGartland joined the IRA at 16 after he was recruited by RUC Special Branch to infiltrate the group.
It chronicles his four years in the IRA between 1987 and 1991 before his cover was blown and he was kidnapped.
He escaped by jumping out of a window but was later resettled with a secret identity in Whitley Bay, near Newcastle upon Tyne.
However, his new name emerged after he was prosecuted for a driving offence, and in 1999 he was badly wounded in a gun attack, blamed on the IRA. Since then, MI5 has given him another name and moved him to another location.
Mr McGartland opposed the film for months but he now says he is happy with it following negotiations this week, which according to Reuters, included a £20,000 settlement whereby he agreed not to pursue legal action.
"The producers gave me a copy of the DVD and I watched it again ... and the more I watch it, I just love it," he said.
Canadian director Kari Skogland said Mr McGartland initially found it difficult to understand the film based on his life was not the same as making a documentary about him.
She said during filming in Belfast, advice from former IRA members on how to make a bomb and techniques for torturing informants helped to add authenticity to the project.
"I had many secret meetings in dark places. We were being watched by all sides, phones tapped, that sort of thing," she told the Hollywood Reporter.'

P.S. LOVING McGartland's quote about the movie he'd apparently hated until they bunged him £20 grand to shut up. "The more I watch it, I just love it". Anyone would think he was taking the piss.

Friday, September 05, 2008

"I started to explain Coffee Mate..."

Quite, QUITE the funniest story I've read in a very long time. Indeed, I have copied it in its entirety from the BBC website because it made me smile such a lot.

(Is it worth my asking whether anyone other than a British MP would be daft enough to consider it sensible to carry a large unmarked jar of white powder around Columbia on holiday? Probably not. Hey Ho.)

'MP's gunpoint Coffee Mate ordeal

An MP has described how he was held at gunpoint by guards in Colombia who mistook a jar of coffee whitener he was carrying for cocaine.
Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant had been on a trekking holiday to South America last week when he said he was held by armed soldiers who searched their bags.
He said one pulled out the unmarked jar of Coffee Mate and accused him of smuggling raw cocaine.
The MP said all he could do was to eat "mouthfuls" of it to prove otherwise.
Conservative MP Mr Fabricant, who was with a friend at the time, was eventually released and allowed to continue his holiday.
He said he ate several mouthfuls of the coffee whitener while M16 guns were pointed at him to prove it would not have any ill effects on him.
He offered some to the camouflaged guards, thinking that if it was pure cocaine it would be poisonous.
Mr Fabricant, who is now safely back home, said: "They started to speak to us in Spanish and unfortunately I don't really speak any Spanish at all.
"They started looking through our bags, and came across this container which was unmarked which contained this mysterious creamy, white powder, and they started shouting, 'cocaine, cocaine' or something that sounded like that in Spanish.
"I started to explain Coffee Mate and I don't think they understood because they were going, 'no coffee, no coffee'. I was saying I knew it wasn't coffee, but they were a bit bewildered."
Mr Fabricant said that although Colombian coffee was "really very, very good", he did not trust trying the local milk, which is why he had brought the coffee whitener with him.
He added: "I started tasting some of it and the guards insisted I had more to see if I was going to trip out.
"When it became obvious it wasn't happening, they started giggling and one tried it on their tongue.
"Mind you, I felt pretty ill after trying some. By the time you've had several scoops of Coffee Mate, and of course it expands in your stomach, it's not very nice."'

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Free will - BURN IT

Apparently, British schools are getting into book burning these days.

A response, or so it says on today's news, to the fact that a few inner city urchins think it's clever to stab each other of an evening instead of watching Eastenders, developing obesity or shoplifting.

Carol Ann Duffy is not the only writer affected by the cull on independent thought, however.

Children are being barred from reading the autobiographies of other such literary heavyweights as former Spice Girls Geri Haliwell and Victoria Beckham, for fears that reading about eating disorders will cause young girls to ditch their lunchtime sandwiches and pick up laxatives instead, while teachers can do nothing but look on, helplessly. The work of Grace Nichols, the author of 'Fat Black Women's poetry' and a long-time favourite of the inner-city teaching establishment (see title), is similarly affected, as teachers fear Nichols' enthusiasm for body fat may also lead youths to develop an unhealthy body image.

The obcenely violent collective works of literary gore-mongerer Geoff Chaucer have been banned outright from all schools, and a major question mark now hangs over the work of one Bill Shakespeare, whose writings include incest, images of racial and sexual bigotry, extreme violence and several incidents of knife crime.
Happily, these are moves that will have little effect on state schools in inner city areas, as they stopped teaching literature by dead white men years ago.

Elsewhere in the country, Argos is thinking of withdrawing kitchen knife sets from its shelves in case such deadly weapons should find their way into the hands of anyone under the age of 24.

And perhaps most shockingly, Copydex 'pyres' are being lit from coast-to-coast, like a modern day Armada, as teachers, ever wary of the intellectual frailty of our nation's youth (after all, they're largely responsible for it), fear access to glue may lead teenagers to a life of misery and drug addiction.

'An exam board is removing a poem about a knife-carrying violent loner from its anthology for GCSE English because of fears over teenage knife crime.
The AQA exam board has decided to withdraw the poem Education for Leisure written by Carol Ann Duffy.
The exam board is writing to schools to advise them to destroy the copies of the anthology - and says it will send replacements not containing this poem.
The poem begins with the line: "Today I am going to kill something. Anything."
It describes the thoughts of a disturbed, isolated individual who feels underappreciated and undervalued and who kills a fly then a goldfish. The poem concludes with this angry loner going outside with a bread knife.
Some teachers have been complaining for years about the poem's inclusion in the anthology.
In 2002, English staff at a school in Hull, East Yorkshire, refused to teach the poem and said they would even tear the page from the book if they had to.
The exam board said the poem had been a "popular choice" for pupils - allowing GCSE English students to debate issues about the state of mind of the poem's narrator.
But a spokeswoman said the board had received a complaint and against a background of fears over teenage knife crime had now decided to drop it from the anthology.
"People will have different views on this - but we have to make a decision in the light of what is currently happening," she said.
The exam board said the decision had not been taken lightly but that the selection of poems had to respond to current "social issues and public concern".
Carol Ann Duffy's literary agent, Peter Strauss, told the BBC's iPM programme that the poem was not a promotion of violence.
"This poem is pro-education and anti-violence. It is not glorifying violence in any way," said Mr Strauss.
"Carol Ann Duffy is a vocational poet for the young. She gets children fired up about language and verse. She talks to more schoolchildren than I've ever met. She's encouraged more people to have a love of words and a love of education than anyone else I know," said Mr Strauss.'

The Waste Land

Thought it worth mentioning this, as it's the first I've heard of this preposterously-titled 'Cultural Olympiad'.

Anyway, the jist of this story seems to be that, in the run up to its hideously ill-judged application to host the next Olympics, the 'London 2012' organisers realised that London was a veritable cultural wasteland, with nothing of artistic or literary value going on with which it could commend the city as a site for a sporting contest.

"We need to put on some culture to win this, that's what we need to do. You know, pictures n that", said Seb Coe.
"What about some pretty lights?" said that lesbian runner woman who won a few medals that time in Greece.
"BRILLIANT!" said everyone.

So is born the Cultural 'Olympiad'. Superb. The BBC online news bunny tried valiantly this morning to give this story due prominence, she really did, but is it just me or is it not rather telling that one of the 'highlights' of this historically-important, £40m (that's £40 MILLION) cultural epoch appears to be changing the lighting scheme at the Queen's gaff?

'A William Shakespeare festival and 12 new public works of art will form part of a 'Cultural Olympiad' planned for the run-up to the 2012 London games.
Set up to showcase Britain's arts and culture, the four-year programme will comprise 500 events designed to involve and inspire people at home and abroad.
Details are being announced on Thursday by 2012 chief Lord Coe at the National Theatre on London's South Bank.
The scheme was a key factor in London winning the bid to host the Olympics.
The Cultural Olympiad will co-ordinate the opening and closing ceremonies at the London games, as well as local and regional events.
It will begin with an open weekend, to be held later this month - between 26 and 28 September - for which hundreds of events have already been planned.
One of these will include the illumination of Windsor Castle and Blackpool Tower in pink, blue, orange and green - the colours of London 2012.
Future projects include Film Nation, a digital film competition for young people, and Unlimited, described as a celebration of disability arts, culture and sport.
There will also be National Singing Day, held as part of the BBC-backed Sound strand, dedicated to "celebrating music as universal language".
When London's selection as the next host of the Olympics was made in July 2005, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell described the Cultural Olympiad as "absolutely central" to the vision of what could be achieved.
However, many of the original plans have reportedly been scrapped, with some people questioning the value of the scheme's reported £40m price-tag.'

All hail the "small town mom" itching for power

'Mrs Palin - who supports drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - said that while drilling "will not solve all of America's energy problems", that is "no excuse to do nothing at all".'

Hmm. I wonder whether Mrs Palin has ever considered the possibility that the solution to "America's" energy problems (nice to see the rest of the globe features so prominently in her thinking) might just be for Americans to stop greedily sucking up so much fucking energy?

Anyway, Sarah Palin. With one son off to fight America's war, the other living with Downs Syndrome as a result of his mother's opposition to abortion - where the hell did they find someone so fucking perfect?

Personally I can't decide whether Palin is a comic genius or just the physical embodiment of misogyny in action in politics. Consider the facts: she called her daughter Bristol. (Yes, she's a hicksville teenager up the duff, which should qualify her as evil and worthless to her dear mummy's hyperventilating religious right, but it's OK, see, cos she's getting married. At 17. So that's all fine then. Keep up.) (Insert joke about enthusiasm for drilling in Alaska here, if you can be arsed).
Bristol, though. BRISTOL! Maybe she went there once on holiday and thinks its a dead sophisticated choice, like Brooklyn or Chelsea. Hmmm...

See, that kind of a sense of humour is to be commended. On the other hand, the fact that Palin appears to have been hired to "appeal" to female voters who are disappointed not to have Clinton in the running any longer, well that's less funny when you consider it's not meant to be a joke.

This is a pro-war, pro-environmental destruction, pro-guns, anti-abortion Nut-Nut from Fuckwit, Nowheresville we're talking about. And yet the popular media seem entirely happy to reiterate the puerile and offensive line that female Democratic voters and Clinton supporters will tick her fucking box entirely because she does not possess a penis?
Yes, of COURSE. Because that's how women vote, isn't it? We don't actually know a fucking thing about real politics, or understand complex things like economics, education or foreign policy. We vote for whoever's got the PURDIEST handbag. God forbid that women should actually be considered capable of voting according to their political beliefs. Nice to see that the same argument that was being used against female suffrage in Britain in 1912 is still as relevant in America today.

Still, on the plus side, Palin sounds a perfect candidate for a Republican government to me. Look:

'It has also been revealed that an attorney has been hired to represent Mrs Palin in an Alaska state ethics investigation involving alleged abuse of power.

Mrs Palin told US network CNBC she had "nothing to hide". Her deposition is expected to be scheduled soon.'

Friday, August 29, 2008

The (too much se) X Files

This is rather lovely for a Friday.

Apparently, David Duchovny has gone into "rehab", claiming to be addicted to sex. (Bleurgh. No, really, Duchovny? BLEURGH).
Anyway, the actor's agent asks us to "respect his family" or some such guff at this "private time". What the hell is private about publicly announcing to the world that your client can't control his undercarriage, like a mangy dog with worms?

Anyway I'm with Joan Rivers on sex addiction: "What they mean is, they're addicted to screwing people who aren't their wives"...

'US actor David Duchovny has entered a rehabilitation clinic for sex addiction, his publicist has confirmed.
In a statement released through his lawyer, the X Files star said he had entered the facility "voluntarily".
He added: "I ask for respect and privacy for my wife and children as we deal with this situation as a family."
The 48-year-actor, who has been married since 1997 to actress Tea Leoni, plays sex-obsessed character Hank Moody on the hit TV series Californication.
The couple have two children together.
Cable network Showtime, which broadcasts Californication, released a statement: "All of us at Showtime wish David and his family the best during this very private time."'

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eye for an Eye

Well, thank you very much, NICE. It seems that you've finally "decided" that it's a wee bit unfair to offer sight-saving drugs to people in Scotland on the NHS, while allowing people in England and Wales to go blind, forbidden access to the most up-to-date (and therefore prohibitively expensive) AMD drugs. "We'll give you the treatment after you've already gone blind. Seems logical to me," you said.

This is the kind of fucking blood-vessel-burstingly upsetting nonsense that sick people in England have to deal with all the time, of course, despite the fact that taxpayers in this country heavily subsidise the vastly superior NHS treatment available to the Scottish people, who repay us not with gratitude but by...erm.... hating us.

Still, AMD sufferers in this country might just get a fair deal now, and that is a good thing. It's just a fucking shame for all those people who've already GONE blind in one or more eye, isn't it? Because let me tell you, they're REALLY NOT VERY FUCKING HAPPY TODAY.

Now let's see if Gordon's government can come up with an even VAGUELY logical or sane reason why Scottish people are given their higher education for free, while the rest of us have to pay for it...

'All patients in England suffering from a disease which causes blindness are to get access to a sight-saving drug.
Lucentis treats wet age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of sight loss in the country.
The drug is already available in Scotland, while Wales and Northern Ireland have said they will fund it.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) had originally said patients should wait until they went blind in one eye.
The suggestion, made last summer, caused an outcry from campaigners and doctors, prompting a U-turn by the NHS advisory body in December.'

Stupid White Men

"If any middle class white male I come across says he wants to enter television, I say 'give up all hope'. They've no chance."

So says Jeremy Paxman, internationally famous political journalist and television presenter, who hosts the anchor, prime-time current affairs show Newsnight on the BBC. His salary in this role is over £800,000 per annum.

In his spare time, Mr Paxman hosts the long-running, much-syndicated programme University Challenge, which goes out weekly in a prime-time spot, also on the BBC. For this, he receives in the region of £240,000 per annum, the equivalent of £7,741 per show.

Jeremy Paxman is a white middle-class male.

'Jeremy Paxman, the veteran presenter of BBC's flagship current affairs programme Newsnight, has rounded on the corporation's apparent prejudice against white, middle-class males. The grand inquisitor made his remarks at the Edinburgh Television Festival when he disputed claims that it is an industry dominated by men - and pointed to a string of powerful female executives.

"Do I think it's a man's world in television? That is the most ridiculous question I have been asked all week," he said. "The worst thing you can be in this industry is a middle-class white male. If any middle-class white male I come across says he wants to enter television I say 'Give up all hope'. They've no chance."

Paxman named Jana Bennett, the director of BBC television, and Jay Hunt, the controller of BBC One, as examples. However, his apparent contradiction of former BBC Director General Greg Dyke's remark that the BBC was "hideously white", has not impressed fellow broadcaster Mariella Frostrup, who was once told by a producer on Stephen Fry's show QI that there were so few women on the programme because "there just aren't any intelligent women out there".

"He lists women because he couldn't possibly name all the men in positions of power in TV because he would be there all bloody day," she says. "He talks about middle-class white men being a beleaguered species on television. Well, excuse me, but... look at the Today programme, Have I Got News for You, Newsnight. It seems to me that TV is a fantastic place for middle-class white males."'

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Prison: like rehab, only cheaper!

I opted some months back to refrain from comment upon the activities of the mangy, cretinous little crack hound that married Amy Winehouse, or the self-indulgent and deluded torrent of effluent that seems to pour forth, in a neverending fashion, from both his parents and hers, but I felt moved to draw your attention to this....

Georgette Fielder Civil - the mother, or possibly step-mother of the rat-faced husband - was in the paper at the weekend, to tell us that Amy Winehouse should be in jail instead of snorting coke in public view in Camden pubs (I bet the landlord of The Monarch was overjoyed when s/he picked up the News of the Screws and read about that...).

Now, 'Amy Winehouse does coke' is clearly of virtually no interest to anyone. This remark, on the other hand, was rather revealing:

'Mother-of-three Georgette, 45, told how she was overjoyed after visiting Blake for the first time in his new Category C prison near Newmarket on Sunday.
She revealed: “Blake’s been given his own room with an ensuite shower.
“He also has a TV, CD player and a shelf full of books in his room.
“He even has his own key so he can lock himself in if he wants privacy.'

So what you're saying, Mrs Civil, is that prison is a great place to send your irresponsible wanker offspring for an all-mod-cons little spell at rehab (we'll overlook the fact that the nasty, grubby little c**t is actually in there for nearly KILLING a man)...?
Prison 'works' because it is plush and clean, and because drug-addled fuckwits like your son get the best medical treatment available, but best of all, because it comes out of the taxpayers pocket rather than out of your own?

Friday, August 22, 2008

A quick lesson, because I only plan on saying this once.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are often grouped together with other dog breeds under the 'Pit Bull' moniker.
In the media, the term is vague and may include - alongside the English and American Pit Bull Terrier - other breeds with similar physical characteristics, such as the Perro de Presa Canario, Cane Corso, Dogo Argentino, Alano Espanol, Japanese Tosa, Dogue de Bordeaux, Cordoba Fighting Dog, Bull Terrier, Antebellum Bulldog, Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, American Bulldog, Boxer, Valley Bulldog, Olde English Bulldogge, Renascence Bulldogge, and Banter Bulldogge.

These breeds are rarely listed by name in breed-specific legislation, but they are sometimes included when the term is defined broadly and based on physical appearance.

In shelters worldwide, Pit Bulls or dogs that appear to be Pit Bulls comprise a large portion of the shelter's population and may be destroyed due to the stigma associated with the breed (or because of overcrowding). In the UK alone, it is estimated that over 100,000 Staffordshire Bull Terriers are killed every year.

Where a dog is genuinely dangerous and aggressive in its behaviour, it is almost always the fault of the dog's owners - staffies, along with other bull terrier types, are unfortunately very popular among people who do not behave as responsible dog owners, and who are specifically looking for dogs with aggressive characteristics to enhance their own 'image'.

It is those owners' lack of proper socialization and training of their dogs that is most likely to result in a dog with aggressive tendencies. Under the care of an overly-permissive or uneducated owner, with a lack of proper exercise and a poor diet, 'Pit Bulls' can become dangerous dogs - as can ANY BREED of dog when mistreated. Indeed, only this week it was reported in the newspaper that a rottweiler was killed after attacking a child. It was reported that the dog's actions were a result of it being 'a dangerous dog that never should have been sold'. Only later in the report are we told that the dog had received NO EXERCISE at all for 5 MONTHS. Who's at fault there: an intrinsically 'dangerous' animal, or a completely irresponsible and cruel owner? The owner of the dog that was put down was not, in that instance or indeed in many others like it, punished or even held to be responsible.

As a result of ignorance, a lack of preventative action and widespread misinformation around these facts, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a target of breed bans. This mistaken belief that staffies are dangerous dogs is, as stated earlier, due to many people branding Staffordshires under the same name as pit bull type dogs. The German government tried to ban the breed in September 2000 across the EU, but were stopped by representatives from the British Kennel Club.

Since the 12th of August 1991, Pit Bulls - 'Specific breeds and similar cross-breeds' - have been the subject of a ban under the Dangerous Dogs Act:

'The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is a piece of UK legislation that was introduced in response to various incidents of serious injury or death resulting from attacks by aggressive and uncontrolled dogs, particularly on children. These incidents received heavy tabloid attention, causing widespread public concern over the keeping of dangerous dogs and a resulting legislative response.

Under the 1991 Act (and as amended in 1997) it is illegal to own any Specially Controlled Dogs without specific exemption from a court. The dogs have to be muzzled and kept on a leash in public, they must be registered and insured, neutered, tattooed and receive microchip implants. The Act also bans the breeding, sale and exchange of these dogs, even if they are on the Index of Exempted Dogs.[1]

Four types in particular were identified by the Act:

Pit Bull Terrier (a description which has led to some confusion, as the "Pit bull" is not a breed in and of itself but encompasses a range of breeds)
Japanese Tosa
Dogo Argentino
Fila Brasileiro
The Act also cover cross breeds of the above four types of dog. Dangerous dogs are classified by 'type', not by breed label. This means that whether a dog is prohibited under the Act will depend on a judgement about its physical characteristics, and whether they match the description of a prohibited 'type'. This assessment of the physical characteristics is made by a court.'

Staffordshire Bull Terriers are, in fact, extremely good natured, non-aggressive and social animals by their nature, with a natural intelligence and great affinity with humans. It is known to have a character of indomitable courage, high intelligence, and tenacity. This, coupled with its affection for its friends, and children in particular, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes it a foremost all-purpose dog. It is one of only two breeds named as 'Good with Children' in their breed standard by the UK Kennel Club, from over 190 breeds. It is THE ONLY BREED OF DOG that has been classified as 'Totally Reliable' in it's breed standard.

Here endeth the lesson.

Asda - bunch of twats

'A children's book by Dame Jacqueline Wilson is to be altered after parents complained it was inappropriate.
Publisher Random House says it received three complaints about a vulgar term used in My Sister Jodie, which is aimed at children aged 10 and over.
In future editions, the offending word will be altered by one letter and replaced with "twit".
Dame Jacqueline, creator of Tracy Beaker and a former Children's Laureate, has sold more than 30m books. She is known for tackling gritty social subjects such as teenage pregancy, domestic violence and failed suicides.
The decision to alter the text came after supermarket chain Asda announced it would stop selling the book.
Their move followed a complaint from one shopper in Stanley, County Durham.'

I've long been fascinated by the work of the silverhaired elf that is Ms Wilson. I think she's a very clever lady and she's undeniably one of the country's most popular writer for kids, but her books ARE a wee bit ridiculous and unrelenting in their 'kids in care, mums with tattoos' motif. It illustrates very well how fascinated children are with 'dark' themes in their literature: almost as well as Roald Dahl's books, in which there's barely a single parent who isn't dead and a child who isn't orphaned and horribly mistreated (and, in some cases, is forced to take themselves off and live in a peach as a result).

However, I digress. The fact that Asda were planning on dropping one of Jacqueline Wilson's books from stock because it contained the word TWAT, while happily -and agressively - pushing sausages that cost 2 pence each, that are singlehandedly helping to destroy the British pork industry and that are made of substances unfit for human consumption strikes me as the worst kind of hypocrisy.

"We'll act as guardians for your children's psychological and moral welfare, but we'll feed them virtually inedible shit that will one day kill them. Every little helps! Oh no, hang on, that's not us".

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The World, according to Max Clifford

Jade Goody is a not-especially-interesting woman from Bermondsey who appeared on a reality television show a few years back.
Having been demonised for the entire duration of the original show ("Kill the Pig" was, I believe, one particularly glorious Lord of the Flies-esque Sun headline) for being working class and lacking intelligence (her type are allowed on telly, you understand, but only if we can perform the televisual equivalent of poking sticks at them through the railings), she was latterly 'taken to the nation's bosom' after the News of the Screws' finest sobered up and realised that they might've gone too far.

Fast forward a few years, Jade's done alright for herself: she's found a lucrative niche putting her name to a rags-to-riches autobiography and selling the obligatory weight loss DVDs, alongside featuring in yet more reality television nonsense where she parades her stupidity and perceived lack of social grace for the public's entertainment, in a modern take on the Victorian freak show. She's got a couple of kids, a big house and all is going far better than she'd ever hoped.

Riding the wave of - if not affection - then certainly the public's bemused tolerance, Jade returns to the reality television format that made her 'name' (it brought serious cash, after all, if dubious public merit) and during yet another interminable run of 'Big Brother', took part in a little bit of light afternoon bullying against another grubby, fame-hungry glass-eyed contestant.
Unfortunately for the unsuspecting Jade - whose inane and preposterous public utterings had, up until that point, brought her nothing but pitying applause, a "gawd luv er" pat on the head and a banana - the ringleader of the nasty little bitching trio of which she was part - one Danielle Lloyd - was, while an utter guttersnipe, younger and considerably more attractive than Jade was, and not quite so unforgiveably and uncompromisingly 'common', despite making a living as a tit model. A scapegoat was needed and Jade, too successful for anyone's comfort by this point, was never going to come out of it well.
Oh, and to make matters far worse, the 'victim' in this case was Indian, and therefore Ms Goody's typically ill-thought-out jealousy-induce 'popadum' comments, fit only for a 1970s playground, were taken by the press to be a transgression of modern social values akin to that of Robert Mugabe's.

Jade's fall from grace was perceived, then, to be complete and irreversible. Jade herself didn't quite understand what she'd done wrong (let's face it, she'd done nothing differently) but she figured that she'd enjoyed the barely-earned fame and riches while they lasted.

But, people, Jade had one very powerful tool at her disposal, one that will never accept surrender, even in the face of unsurmountable odds, and/or Kerry Katona: step forward, Mr Max Clifford.
Nobody but nobody, rises to a challenge quite like Max Clifford. The man could publicly rehabilitate Stalin, given half a chance and the collusion of the tabloid press.

This week, Max scored the best - and truly the most tasteless - coup of his career. Knowing as he does that there's nothing the public loves more than a sob story, Max has apparently used Jade Goody's cancer diagnosis to shoehorn the poor cow back into the hearts and affections of the bovine-like British nation. Cancer, in celebrity world, is the trump card that beats every hand going: where once you were a filthy degenerate scrubber, suddenly you are 'vulnerable' and 'brave'.
As if that weren't perfect enough, the carefully stage-managed setting and manner of the relevation were positively fucking taoist in their circular perfection: Jade Goody apparently 'learned' that she had cancer, on the INDIAN VERSION of the same reality television programme that both made and broke her. Front page sympathies all round.

Max Clifford: You truly are an evil genius, adrift in a cynical world without anything approaching a moral compass. I would salute you, really I would, but I really, really don't want to.

'FRIENDS of cancer-stricken Big Brother star Jade Goody told of her terror last night.
Jade, 27, was said to be “very upset and frightened” as she flew home to London.
The reality star arrived at Heathrow in tears after the flight from Mumbai where she discovered her cancer bombshell during India’s BB-style TV show.
Jade, who returned for cervical cancer treatment, sobbed: “I don’t want this.”
Earlier her publicist Max Clifford said: “She’s very upset and frightened as you can imagine.
“The most important thing is to get Jade back and get her with the right people so they can take care of her.”

Jade had tests at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Essex, earlier this month after mysteriously collapsing four times.
She was given the diagnosis in a call from her doctor in the Bigg Boss Diary Room on Monday, as we reported yesterday. In footage obtained by The Sun, she is seen running into the main house to tell contestants that she had been given “bad news”.
Jade sobbed: “I have cancer. It is bad, needs urgent treatment. I immediately need to go home.” Jade then packed her bags before leaving the house. The scene was shown with her permission.

She knew there was “a strong chance” she had cancer before flying to India — but said she needed the £100,000 show fee to support her two sons.
Before entering the house, she said: “I have to pay my bills. And if I do face cancer, I need to make sure I can support the boys.”
She even offered to go back on the show after surgery. Jade wanted to make amends for alleged racist jibes at Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity BB in 2007.
Jade had been on Bigg Boss — hosted by Shilpa — for just a day.

Sun readers left messages of support for Jade on our online forums.'

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hanky Spanky indeed

Now look. I'd be the first person to defend a man's right to dress up as a Nazi and have his arse walloped by a bemused gang of prostitutes if that's what floats his boat. He's not harming anyone, the women in question were all being paid handsomely, and frankly I've heard of less palatable, considerably more offensive sexual quirks that pass under society's radar unquestioned. (Clearly, it doesn't help if your name is Moseley in these sort of circumstances.)
But really - if you've BEEN caught, and the world's most hypocritical journalists (step forward, News of the World's finest) have had a good belly laugh at your expense, and you've kept your job and the majority of your professional colleagues publicly on side - SURELY the thing to do is to take a wee step back, have a cup of tea and wait for the fuss to die down? The fact that the man didn't really do anything that terrible is precisely the reason why it would all have been forgotten in a month or so had he have shut up and just got on with his life.

If anything, Mr Moseley has shown us what a proposterous, arrogant kinky old tit he really is by his response to this 'scandal' rather than his participation in it...

'Motorsport boss Max Mosley has tried to make his sadomasochistic sex session sound like "nothing more than hanky-spanky", the High Court has been told.
In his closing speech, Mark Warby QC, for the News of the World, said witnesses had attempted to make it sound "like a worthy activity".
It alleged a "sick" Nazi-themed orgy had taken place, but he disputes the paper's portrayal of events.
Mr Warby said witnesses talked of "meetings" or "parties" and were uncomfortable using the word "brutal".
He said in the evidence for Mr Mosley there had been an attempt "to present it as some kind of worthy activity attended by the most strict health and safety precautions as though it was all being carried out under the guidance of the Bondage and Sadomasochism Regulatory Authority.
"It was even compared with cowboys and Indians, as though it was nothing more than a dressing-up party for grown-ups.
"There was an attempt, we suggest quite deliberately, to turn it all into some kind of farce, or to make it sound like a tremendous giggle."
The newspaper's case was that the events were "truly grotesque and depraved," he added.'

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is Carla Bruni an alien?

I mean, I know she was once a highly paid, very successful model and all, but look at her: isn't there something slightly strange, slightly (may I say?) sinister about the woman's physog?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Education - how to get a glowing report

And in a further rant about academy schools...

The government has just unveiled the sponsors for its latest round of academy schools. There are 51 'new' (I use the term loosely, given that more often than not we're referring to formerly-state schools that the government has highjacked for its vanity learnin' project) academy schools opening this September, all of which have received a paltry £2m in funding from private business, in exchange for the control of young minds.

As yesterday's Daily Telegraph succintly put it,

'Teaching unions criticised the scale of the expansion, saying that companies with no track record in education were being given control of state schools. For as little as £2 million investment, organisations gain overall control of the governing body, dictating teacher's salaries, the curriculum and policies on admissions and exclusion.'

Course, the government wouldn't be so crass as to allow companies to force their own educationally biased agenda on state educated youths, would it?

Hmmm. Unless you consider that the vast majority of academy school sponsors are religious organisations which, historically, have never been all that shy in pushing their own agenda - think Spanish Inquisition and the burning of heretics at one end of the scale, and Vardy's creationist-led academy schools at the other.

Academy and Trust schools were, let's not forget, brought in by a man whose religious beliefs dictated his decisions as the head of the UK government, and who now - following an indecently hasty conversion to Catholicism - now believes he's going to sort out the 'problems of the Middle East' as head of a faith organisation. Tony Blair, your audacity is breathtaking. Shockingly, frighteningly, delusionally breathtaking.

However, I digress: the shining light of this round of academy sponsors? Step forward, Sellafield Ltd. That's right - the folks that brought you the warm, cuddly and educationally-relevant Sellafield Nuclear Plant.

The school they're sponsoring, the new West Lakes Academy, with be formed by the merger of two existing secondary schools and will specialise in science and business enterprise.

Question: what do you suppose the school's budding scientists are likely to be taught about sustainable, environmentally-friendly energy resources and their future viability by this non-biased, nuclear energy-sponsored centre of scientific excellence?

I for one would love to know.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Final Word on the Matter of Coldplay


'Coldplay singer Chris Martin has walked out of a BBC interview while promoting the band's new album.
Nine minutes into the pre-recorded interview for Radio 4 arts show Front Row, the 31-year-old asked to leave the studio as he was not enjoying himself.
The band's drummer, Will Champion, was left to answer questions from presenter John Wilson until Martin returned for one final question.
Coldplay's new album, Viva La Vida, was released on Thursday.

Martin appeared uncomfortable with the interview from the outset.
When asked about a speech he made at a music awards ceremony in 2005 where he said the band would be away "for a very long time", Martin said: "I always say stupid things and I think Radio 4 is the place that will most remind me of that."

Presenter Wilson questioned whether the new album - full title, Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends - was a morbid reflection of the band's lyrical obsession with death.
"I wouldn't agree with you there at all, no," said Martin.
"I'd say you're journalistically twisting me into saying something I don't really mean."
A few minutes later, Martin said he was "not really enjoying this" and that he did not really like "having to talk about things".
Champion answered the remaining questions before the frontman returned to answer a final question, about finding new musical territory, with the response: "Um....yes...yes, yes....exactly..."
Sales figures released by the Official UK Charts Company confirm Viva La Vida sold 125,000 copies in its first day on sale.
It looks certain to be number one in this Sunday's album chart despite only being released towards the end of the week.'

I figured it was best to repeat this nonsense in its entirety, as there is really nothing more to be said.


So this is quite bizarre. Kevin Spacey has been appointed a ‘Professor’ at Oxford University.
First surprise: that a University can appoint someone as a university teaching Professor who is not….well… a professor.
Second: That Spacey is apparently replacing Patrick Stewart in the job. Yes, that’s Patrick ’baldie’ Stewart. Curiouser and curiouser.

But that’s not the bizarre bit. Because it turns out that Spacey has been given the job in order to ’promote interest in contemporary theatre at the university’.

So, that’s an Oscar winning A List actor, being hired to increase an interest in a middle class cultural pursuit among the wealthy middle class and educationally privileged?
For why?
Perhaps when he’s finished doing that, some bright spark could see whether he fancies offloading some snow, ice and reindeer offcuts to the Inuits?

‘Double Oscar winning actor Kevin Spacey said it is an "honour" to be named as a University of Oxford professor.
The American Beauty star will be the next Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre at St Catherine's College, Oxford.
Spacey, who is also artistic director of The Old Vic Theatre Company, will succeed actor Patrick Stewart when the next academic year starts in October.
His role will be to promote interest in contemporary theatre at the university.
Spacey said: "It really is an honour for me to have been invited to follow such illustrious names and take up this role at Oxford.
"The university is steeped in tradition and has a great heritage in the arts and I look forward to working with the students and staff.
"I relish the challenge ahead and am excited for term to begin."'

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shame Academy

Wonderful news this morning. The government is (once again) threatening to close the country’s ‘failing’ schools if they don’t buck up their ideas and improve their exam results:

Almost one in five secondary schools in England is to be given a warning to improve exam results or face closure.
The government is targeting 638 schools, in which less than 30% of pupils achieve at least five good GCSEs including English and maths.
The £400m standards drive, which will create up to 70 new academies, is to be launched by Schools Secretary Ed Balls.
Academies in deprived areas could "break the link between poverty and attainment", said Mr Balls.
The National Challenge, to be launched on Tuesday, will require every secondary school in England to have achieved this GCSE benchmark within three years.

This appears, on the surface, to be the same tired routine this haven’t-a-fucking-clue government has been churing out for the last couple of years. In the face of a total lack of voluntary interest from schools (run by people who actually work in the teaching profession and therefore tend to know better), this is its not-particularly-subtle way of forcing them to sign up to one or the other of its wildly unpopular academy and trust school programmes (which, taken together, effectively amount to the privatisation of state education). After all, they can’t just abandon them as a bad idea, given that central government and the DfES have backed the programmes and several billion has already been spent.

“If you don’t sort yourselves out, we’re going to turn you into academy schools! Yes we are. Look at us, and our tough no nonsense approach to education. More money over here, throw more money on the fire! That’s the ticket!”:

There are 27 secondary schools in Birmingham, 33 in Kent and 13 in Manchester facing this exams ultimatum.
The improvement plans will mean the acceleration of the academy programme, with 313 of these independent state schools set to be running by September 2010.

Look a little closer, though. The list of schools in question, released by the BBC today, actually includes 26 ACADEMY SCHOOLS. That is, those schools that have ALREADY been strong-armed into adopting academy status, and for which the move has made ABSOLUTELY NO POSITIVE DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER. What a heart-stopping surprise this must have been to everyone except the schools, their teaching staff, everyone at the DfES and the cuddly Ed Balls himself. Or not.

What are they going to threaten to do with the academy schools that are failing, turn them into ‘Super Academy’ Schools? Extra Strong Academy Schools? ‘New’ Academy Schools? Or will they just raze them to the ground and be done with it, safe in the knowledge that no child of a ludicrously-overpaid Education Dept MP will ever set foot in a ‘failing’ school?

So the long and the short of it is, they’re going to close down a load more schools, knocking a few of them down and rebuilding them at a cost of millions for the sheer hell of it (well, if you’ve got the budget you may as well spend it, eh?), and reopening them as all singing, all-dancing academy schools, part-sponsored by mad right wing christians, second-hand car salesmen-turned-creationists (Google VARDY and ACADEMY SCHOOLS, I haven’t the heart to go into it this morning) and anyone else with a raging ego problem, a desire to control malleable young minds and a spare two million quid. (The bulk of the cost of this continuing farce will be shouldered by you and I, obviously, but don’t expect to be greeted warmly when you propose that all the children in YOUR chosen school should be taught that Jesus was made of blancmange and all French people are actually descended from Ghengis Khan. And you can forget about the knighthood, as well, since you ask).

This, people, is the end of state education in the United Kingdom, as exercised by the stinking remains of what was once the Labour Party. If I still had any energy left from having tried in vain to explain this to people over the last few years, I’d weep from anger and, frankly, from the sheer sadness of the situation. But the fact is, nobody’s noticed what’s been going on in our country’s education system, and those that do don’t seem to care, so what’s the point?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Misery Porn

Now then.
Please tell me that it's not just ME that finds this whole 'misery memoir' business quite sick? You know the kind of stuff: I was abused as a child, I adopted abused children who abused me/abused others, my husband was an abuser/paedophile, I was made to eat dog food, my dog was abused, my parents were evil, I was driven to drugs/booze/crime/sexual depravity by any and all of the above.
The kind of barely readable pap that can be niftily shorthanded as 'This is evil, this is dirty, look, look' literature.

It all started with Dave Pelzer, who has so far managed to make for himself a VERY lucrative career by writing increasingly (and increasingly suspiciously) lurid accounts of abuse at the hands of his mother, without once in several hundred pages of his first book 'A Boy Called It' even attempting to speculate as to what might have driven his mother to her actions. It's not the psychology of it the readers are interested in, you see, any more than the consumers of hardcore pornography are interested in the reasons WHY sexy young sluts love c**k (oh come on, don't act shocked, you get the same spam messages as me...).

Isn't the voracious reading of books with titles like "Please Daddy No" simply the barely-disguised ambulance-chasing 'acceptable' face of paedophilia?
If you get your jollies reading about children being abused in a book you bought from Amazon, is that REALLY psychologically all that much more depraved than getting your jollies from an account of child abuse you picked up, wrapped in brown paper, from a back street shop in Soho? (And, obviously, I do mean psychologically on the part of the consumer, I'm not suggesting that the sale of paedo porn is fine and dandy with me).

Do you really need to read about little girls being sold to dockers for sodomy purposes to know that child abuse is very unpleasant indeed?
Of course you don't.
So what are so many people (they're DISTRESSINGLY popular) reading these books for, if not vicarious enjoyment?

The perplexing thing is how upset people get when you suggest that their reading these books is a mild form of sadistic voyerism. Though that fact is plainly true, people see themselves as such sensitive bleeding hearts for reading this guff, that it never actually occurs to them that they're not sensitive wee flowers at all but that they're getting something out of it. Somehow, like other forms of pornography, the whole thing would be less offensive if people just admitted that they like it because it turns them on. Grubby beggars.

Or am I just too cynical for words?

Hot House

Look! It's a big pink hash house. And apparently this isn't a trailer for a new children's telly show (oh how I wish it were). It's actually a 'new technique' being used by police to detect "cannabis factories" through thermal imaging.

How many 88 year old grannies 'feeling the cold' do you think will be arrested by knacker in riot gear before they realise this plan might have a few flaws?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Australians: they LOVE a foreigner

What I find so eternally amusing about Australia - a place where some (myself among them) would argue that racism is more ingrained and more widely tolerated among general society than most other nations (except perhaps France) is just how pointlessly and passionately they claim the opposite to be true. Australia WANTS to see itself as a place where everything is fair dinkum, where everyone gets "a fair go", and where there really honestly isn't a mountain of ill-informed prejudice against all brown folk festering just beneath the surface.

See, for example, the desire to prevent the opening of a new Muslim school in suburban Sydney is NOT an illustration of the society's knee-jerk Islamaphobia, it's about planning issues:

Councillors for Camden, a small town on the outskirts of Sydney, unanimously voted against the proposed school for 1200 pupils. The councillors said they based their decision solely on planning grounds, citing an internal report about its environmental impact.
The proposed development had met with fierce local opposition. Camden's authorities received some 3,200 submissions from the public about the school and only 100 in favour.
Camden's mayor, Chris Patterson, stressed that the decision to reject the proposals was not made on religious or nationalistic grounds. "It is a site issue, clearly a site issue," Mr Patterson said after the vote.'


'Tensions reached their height last November when two pigs' heads were left on the site of the proposed school...'

Family Fortunes

It really is so nice in situations such as these to see that troubled, unhappy and dangerously ill people can rely upon the dignified, discreet and unwavering support of their loving families....*

2nd June 2008, BBC Online:

''Agitated' Gascoigne is sectioned

Former England footballer Paul Gascoigne has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Hertfordshire Police confirmed he was taken to hospital on Sunday following reports that he was acting strangely in Hemel Hempstead.
A police spokesman said he approached a member of the public and appeared to be unwell and in an agitated state.
He was previously detained under the Mental Health Act in February following an incident at a Tyneside hotel.'

2nd June 2008, The Daily Star:

'THE sister of troubled football legend Paul Gascoigne fears he has less than four months to live.
Anna Marie Gascoigne fears her brother may not survive to be at her wedding in October.

And she said she only discovered how bad his addiction to booze was when he necked an entire bottle of gin in front of her – in one go.'

* for further evidence, see any and all articles written in the past 18 months about Amy Winehouse featuring "her worried father Mitch"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blue Peter Badges

So, according to this morning’s Currant Bun, “brave” ‘Prince’ William just took a long weekend trip to Afghanistan, to “experience a war zone”.

Sorry, did I say long weekend? I meant a 3 hour, heavily guarded pit-stop.

Which, in the grand lottery of conspicuously egomanical faked displays of bravery, puts him somewhere like 1000 notches below Bob Hope, and a good 250 notches below Marilyn Monroe, both of whom at least took the trouble to entertain the troops in Vietnam and Korea when they got there. (Lindsay Lohan apparently “wanted” to visit US troops in Iraq, but I have been unable to confirm whether she actually bothered).

It’s lovely for young William that he’s being allowed to play soldiers in every division of the country’s armed forces – meanwhile, let’s all try our best to forget what a pitiful and absurd waste of time and money the whole preposterous puff actually is, and gloss over just how inconceivably insulting it is to REAL service people.
Cos look, he’s having such jolly japes! Last month William earned his Velcro wings, and promptly adopted a £15,000 an hour Chinook helicopter as a personalised taxi service (employed for stag do attendance and visitations for leg-over with the approved royal bird). In a few weeks, I understand, they’re going to give him an ickle inflatable Navy badge, proving that he’s capable of fucking about in a dinghy for six weeks or similar. One can only hope he doesn’t get any ideas about dislodging HMS Belfast from its moorings and taking it for a jolly old spin down the Thames, like any good hooray might.

However, he’s still got a long way to go before he gets anywhere near to his dad’s utterly NODDY military record. By 2006, having last seen active service over 30 years previously, ‘Prince’ Charles held a ‘four star rank’ in the armed services. Believe it or not (and it might be less painful not to), the bogus-medicine-touting, general-public-robbing snivelling little buffoon is officially a general in the Army, an admiral in the Navy and an air chief marshall in the RAF. And he wears his medals with pride.
At last count, Charlie had 31 decorations in total (mostly given to him by his mum. Which, frankly, is about as underwhelming as you or I stitching our cycling proficiency badges to our work uniform). These included, according to the BBC:

1: Order of Merit, civil version
2: GCB
3: Queen's Service Order (New Zealand)
4: Queen's Coronation medal
5: Queen's Silver Jubilee medal
6: Queen's Golden Jubilee medal
7: Canadian forces decoration
8: NZ commemorative medal
9: Knight of Most Noble Order of the Garter

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Government drug pushers

Oh, and as for the government whacking another 11 pence on the price of a packet of cigarettes, thus effectively increasing the money they make from smokers, a group of people who they insist on treating as social lepers for indulging in their habit, well I for one see nothing hypocritical in that.

If they want to effectively ban people from smoking - essentially forcing them into quitting by preventing them from smoking except sneakily in their own homes (or, for those with children, guiltily out the window), then fine, go ahead and do it. It's a ridiculous habit that kills you. But you can't impose the most rigid anti-smoking legislation in Europe on people and then expect - in the same year - to make bucketloads of extra cash from the very same drug habit you so haughtily and publicly condemn.

Oh no, wait, you're the government. You can do what the hell you like.

Moving on!

Budgetary Bullshit

So, as a tokenistic 'worthy' gesture for this year's budget, the government has decreed that supermarkets are allowed to charge customers for the use of plastic bags.

How thoroughly decent of them.

Don't suppose anyone has bothered to point out to them how typically greedy and hypocritical it is of our nation's cuddly supermarkets to charge YET ANOTHER premium (along with the premium you're charged if, say, you like you buy fruit that has a chance of ripening before 2012) to its customers without doing a damn thing to improve its own environmentally and socially despicable behaviour?

Because, obviously, it is the ignorant customer's ignorant adoration of the mighty Asda bag that is the sole cause of environmental damage from throwaway plastics, and absolutely nothing at ALL to do with the supermarkets' continuing hateful habit of wrapping its food in grotesquely excessive and unnecessary packaging.

It's enough to make a person weep.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Mature thinking

Erm.... Jacqueline love, as one of the most popular children's authors in the country, who writes on subjects like children living in care, children with troubled tattooed mothers and children with dead mates that they talk to... do you not think there is something a WEE bit hypocritical in complaining that kids are maturing too quickly?

'Children's author Dame Jacqueline Wilson has expressed concern that youngsters are growing up too quickly.
"I think children act like adults at an alarmingly early age," said the Tracy Beaker creator.
"It's good that we want the best for our children nowadays, but perhaps we should remember they are only children and need a little loving guidance."
Her remarks came as a poll suggested that more than half of parents believe childhood is now over by 11.
The 62-year-old author, who has been writing for more than 35 years, said: "Nearly all the children in my books want to wear make-up and dye their hair and pierce their ears. Because I write in the first person people often assume that this is my point of view - but I'm actually pretty strict and old-fashioned.
"I know girls are desperate to look cool.
"But I wish they didn't all want to wear very high heels and inappropriately tight, trendy clothes."'

"Nearly all the children in my books want to wear make-up and die their hair and pierce their ears".

Hmmmm.... Wonder where our prematurely maturing pre-teens get the idea from?

Gullibility Goulash

Lovely story, this.

Man cons Americans into giving him work and money and fame by claiming to be a big mate of the Queen. Surely as old as the hills. Except this story is particularly hilarious for the sheer implausibility of the man's claim - among other things, he said that he had made Charles and Diana's wedding cake. At the age of 16.

The fun is not in the fact that the man is such an out and out fantasist (he liked to be known as "Sir Robert Irvine, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order"), merely that he appears to have been given his own television show, his own kitchenware range and a lucrative publishing contract before anyone actually twigged. Splendid work.

'A British chef who reportedly invented his knighthood, gifts from the Queen and stints in the White House has been dropped by his US TV employers.
Cable channel Food Network says it will not be renewing the contract of TV chef Robert Irvine, from Wiltshire, because of "inaccuracies" in his CV.

Mr Irvine told a Florida newspaper he was "truly sorry" for the errors.
He said he had made up parts of his work history because he had felt under pressure "to keep up with the Joneses."

Mr Irvine, 42, is host of a popular US cooking show, Dinner: Impossible, where he and his team of chefs work against the clock to produce food in challenging circumstances.
He has also written an autobiography, Mission: Cook, published last year - as well as heading a company that sells his own-brand cookware.
He said there were five levels of knights, and KCVO is the highest level of knight you could be. The Queen handpicks you.

According to the St Petersburg Times a Florida socialite, Wendy LaTorre, recalled that when Mr Irvine arrived in Florida, he told her he had a castle in Scotland.
He reportedly also claimed to have cooked for US presidents in the White House, was a friend of Prince Charles and had been knighted by the Queen. He also apparently helped to make the cake for Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding.
"It was an English fruitcake that weighed over 360 pounds," he told the Toronto Sun. "I worked on these elaborate side panels, which told the history of the royal Windsor and Spencer families - in icing!"
When asked by Ms LaTorre how he would like to be introduced, Mr Irvine said he would like be known as "Sir Robert Irvine, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order."
She told the St Petersburg Times: "He said there were five levels of knights, and KCVO is the highest level of knight you could be. The Queen handpicks you."

"Sir" Robert's impressive CV helped him secure wealthy backers for ambitious plans to open two upmarket restaurants in St Petersburg.
But, following his exposure in the local paper, the restaurants remain vacant and Mr Irvine's contract for a fifth season of his TV show has been cancelled.

Mr Irvine, originally from Salisbury in Wiltshire, admitted to the St Petersburg Times that he had had made up parts of his CV because of social pressure.
He said: "When I first came down there and I met people down there with all this money, it was like trying to keep up with the Joneses. I was sitting in a bar one night and that came out. It was stupid."'

Sunday, March 02, 2008

'If you think about it there's thousands of troops out there'

'Prince Harry insists, "I'm no hero".'

That is correct. Well done. Give the boy a lollypop.

Still, it's encouraging to see what young Harry can figure out all by himself when he "thinks about it".

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A condender, surely, for preposterous understatement of the year?

'The man accused of killing teenager Sally Anne Bowman has told a court he regrets having sex with her corpse.
Mark Dixie claimed he did not realise she was dead until after he had sex with her body, the Old Bailey heard.
Mr Dixie, 37, denies murdering the 18-year-old in Croydon, south London, during a sex attack, in September 2005.
Giving evidence, he said: "I don't know what went through my mind. I took full advantage of someone and I should not have done it."'

That's right, Mark. You had sex with a murdered (almost certainly by you) teenage girl who had been stabbed repeatedly and was covered in blood. Your insight is remarkable - you should not have done that.

'The court heard Miss Bowman was found in a pool of blood in the driveway of her home in Blenheim Crescent. Prosecutors allege Mr Dixie stabbed her seven times and raped her as she was dead or lay dying.
But Mr Dixie has told jurors that he found Miss Bowman's body after a drink and drugs binge. He told the court: "I have gone over it during the last three years. I don't know what went through my mind.
"All I saw was a pair of legs... shirt put down to the waist and I took advantage of her. Anthony Glass, QC, defending, asked if he thought she was dead or unconscious.
Mr Dixie said: "I would not have expected to see anyone dead in that street. I thought she might have passed out or fallen over."
But he admitted there was no reaction during the sex attack, even when he bit Miss Bowman.
Anthony Glass, QC, asked Mr Dixie, "Did you, in fact, realise she was dead?"
To which he responded: "After a while. I panicked. I stood up. I looked at her. I did not know what to do."
Mr Dixie described how he then placed cement dust and concrete from a nearby skip on Miss Bowman's body to conceal his DNA.

The trial continues.'

Fear for Hire

The old "always use black cabs instead of mini cabs, they're massively expensive, but they're safe" line taken by Transport for London is starting to look a little thin, if you ask me.

And is it just me, or is it faintly depressing – if predictable – that as many as 30 women who were sexually attacked by a black cab driver hadn’t thought it worth their time to go to the police?

‘A taxi driver has been charged by police investigating a series of attacks on women in black cabs. John Worboys, 50, of Sovereign Crescent in Rotherhithe, south-east London, is charged with rape, sexual assault and administering a substance with intent. The charges follow an investigation into five attacks in which victims were picked up in a black cab near Oxford Street, Kings Road or London Bridge. Mr Worboys will appear at Sutton Magistrates' Court on Tuesday. Following appeals, a further 30 women have come forward. Many of the women said they had been entrapped by a cab driver who pretended to have won money, then gave them drugged champagne or wine before attacking them.’

Raining on Jay's Parade

Upon reading the Guardian at the weekend (well, I am technically middle class, even if I DO live on a council estate) I came across this rather lovely, typically-Guardianesque defence of supermarkets from none other than Jay Rayner (food critic and offspring of Clare “with wings” Rayner, last seen in the Observer rubbishing a £250 per head lunch he’d eaten on the paper’s pay a few weeks back).

According to Jay Rayner, supermarket dominance in Britain is not a bad thing really. He does concede that they use bullying tactics to force small businesses into bankruptcy, that they sell overpriced shit food that makes us obese, and that they have turned our high streets into a monotonous wasteland (he doesn’t go into the catatrophic effect their sourcing practices have had on the food chain, but we’ll add it to the mix for luck). He does so rather eloquently, as you can see:

‘“We know that massive supermarkets have been squeezing producers for years, slicing margins which, in turn, has had a knock-on effect on the quality of produce. The excesses of industrial food production in this country are a direct result of the buying policies of the supermarkets. We know that the big out-of-town stores have been wiping out independent retailers and turning high streets into deserts of boarded-up units. More recently, the march of the smaller, local outposts of the big four, particularly Sainsbury's and Tesco, has made them look like rampaging armies. First, they operate a scorched-earth policy. Then, they invade and occupy the wasteland they have created. Job done.’

However, despite conceding all that, somehow Jay has nonetheless managed to conclude that, actually, rejecting supermarket dominance is simply a sign of middleclass, liberal pomposity. Of which he is not guilty, naturally; despite being of the Guardian-reading liberal classes, he himself is clever enough to see past his own prejudices, you understand.

According to Jay, the general public (i.e. people what are poorer and less discerning than him) need supermarkets because they’re too busy slaving away down coal mines and pushing their kids up chimneys (and whatever else he imagines the working classes do between the hours of 9 and 5) to actually shop for their products in hopelessly outdated institutions like fishmongers and greengrocers.

He goes further to inform us that, actually, supermarkets are a FEMINIST concept. Yes, that’s correct. Jay Rayner gleefully tells us that, if it weren’t for Tesco, women across the country would be unable to go out to work:

‘To extrapolate from all of that to the equation that supermarket equals bad is not only a mistake, but dishonest. Almost all of us use them and for one simple reason: they are bloody convenient. Not simply convenient as in that's more time for leisure pursuits. They are convenient as in they enable us to keep family and work life on an even keel. Why, in the years before mass retailing, did one parent stay at home and the other go out to work? Because keeping the house supplied was a full-time job. Whenever I have to listen to a full-on rant from my foodie brethren about the evils of supermarkets and why we should all shop only at local independent retailers, what I hear, unconsciously or otherwise, is an argument that is distinctly anti-woman.’

Lovely idea, Jay, but it probably comes as news to women like my 86 year old grandmother who, after being widowed at the age of 21 in 1941, had to work, bring up three children AND (gasp!!!) buy her sausages from her handy local – sorry, evil and misogynistic – butcher, all without the help of an Asda hypermarket.

I suspect it might surprise most people to learn that the women of Britain didn’t go out to work before 1960, come to think of it. It seems extraordinary to me that Jay Rayner can pronounce in a national newspaper that women “before mass retailing” stayed at home en masse to cook the family tea without anyone challenging such an absurdly misplaced notion. He’s Clare Rayner’s son, for Christ’s sake, surely his schooling was expensive enough to learn him better….?

But Jay’s not done. He goes on to rubbish the journalist Felicity Lawrence, who wrote the 2004 book Not on the Label. Why? Because apparently the only reason she stopped going to the supermarket and shopped locally instead was because she was a bored, spoilt middle class mother with nothing better to do:
‘Alongside her detailed investigation into the way the likes of the chicken industry worked was a knee-jerk anti-supermarket rant. 'I began to look on the supermarket raid with dread,' she wrote. 'When my second child arrived, I knew I couldn't face loading two children into the car each time I needed something. Besides, we wanted somewhere to walk to pass the day so I started shopping locally on foot again.'
Lucky old Felicity. She needed something to do to pass the time. Here in the real world, of crippling mortgages and rising utility bills, two salaries aren't a luxury. They are a necessity and anything that eases the pressure on family life is a godsend. Is this ideal? No, but it is the reality.’

Why thank you, Jay 'Feminist Icon' Rayner, where would women be without your sisterly solidarity? Oh yeah - in our local shops. But still - still - he’s not finished. As well as championing the feminist cause, apparently supermarkets also do a fabulous job of promoting inner-city racial integration – the supermarket is “the one truly integrated place in the local community”, enthuses Jay.
I for one would never have guessed it, but Jay says that Tesco in Brixton sells products targeted at black people. Proof positive, people.
(The inclusion of this extraordinarily revelatory point has nothing to do with Jay’s desire to shoehorn in a reference to shopping in Brixton, you cynics – his experience is quite obviously an authentically gritty and urban one, even if he does feel it necessary to inform you that he is wealthy enough to shop at his local deli as well as stocking up on Tesco’s basic range shampoo and tinned tomatoes):

‘The social aspect goes further. As I pointed out to the reporter who was shadowing me that day, the supermarket where we shop is the one truly integrated place in the local community. Its customer base crosses ethnicity and class in a way that nothing else in multi-ethnic Brixton manages to. The glorious if often unreliable covered market in the centre of Brixton doesn't do that and nor do the food boutiques to Brixton's south, where people such as me are able to spend the extra income they are lucky enough to have on prime ingredients. As a result, the supermarket responded directly to that clientele. Ours has shelves full of ingredients targeted directly at the Afro-Caribbean community.’

Incidentally, Lawrence’s book, for anyone who wants to read a proper analysis of supermarket retailing, is a good place to start. Not on the Label gives a frightening but necessary outline of just what supermarket practices do to our food (read the chapter on chicken and you’ll never be in the same room as a battery chicken ever again – Fearnley-Eats-it-All has nothing on her). It was also one of the books (along with food writer Joanna Blythman’s series) that convinced me to stop shopping in supermarkets altogether.

Stopped altogether, you say? Yes indeed. My home has been blissfully supermarket-free for over a year now. I buy all my vegetables from the local greengrocer, all my fish from the local fishmonger (I’m one of the very, very few people still lucky enough have one, thanks to Jay’s cuddly supermarket chains) and all my meat from my local butcher.
And no: I’m not an overpaid city worker living in Chelsea. The irony – as Jay would know, if, like me, he lived in Hackney – is that it is actually the POORER areas of town that tend to be the best served by local retailers (although curiously, Jay has decided that Brixton market is not multi-ethnic like what Tesco is, so maybe he just hasn’t twigged yet). The reason? We have a very socially and culturally mixed population, and our local shops have been established by local people to serve the local community, which includes Brits, Turks, a large number of Poles and Kurds and a whole mix of other folk. My greengrocer has bundles of ripe and edible fruit and veg that you can’t find (anaemic, vacuum wrapped and rock hard, naturally) on the supermarket shelves. It works for me (a local resident) and keeps him (a local businessman) in operation, despite what Jay says about Tesco and Asda better serving the needs of inner city working folk.

My local shops are also just around the corner from my flat, which means that it’s no trouble at all for me to fit in shopping around my full-time job, picking up just the right amount of unpackaged food I need a couple of times a week. It takes less time than traipsing round a freezing cold soulless box of a supermarket, it’s much more tactile and pleasurable, it involves virtually no food waste and it’s quite markedly cheaper.

I can honestly say I’ll never go back to supermarket shopping again. Unless of course I move somewhere more upmarket, obviously: in those sort of neighbourhoods, there’s no reasonably priced, friendly, small local stores to be found (only the overpriced delis and grumpy 'Costcutter' type merchants of Jay Rayner’s experience). The numbers of decent local stores have been steadily decreasing since the 1960s and now, for most people, supermarkets are not a choice but an obligation.

Just don't try and explain it to Jay - I don't think he'd quite understand.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cheat Eating

Delia Smith has released a new cookbook. I like Delia Smith. She's quite down to earth ("Come and 'ave a go if you think you're 'ard enough") and she seems to know a thing or two about food. I like food very much, and I like people that don't hypocritically lecture me about what I should eat (I'm looking at you, Oliver). Therefore, stands to reason I should like Delia.

Except today I discover that Delia's 'new' cookbook, How to Cheat at Cooking (which, by the way, is not new at all, having been released in the early 1970s - albeit with slightly crappier cover photography) contains a recipe that involves frozen mashed potato. (They tell me the recipe is for cupcakes but I simply cannot believe that madness... I know Delia likes a drink but I doubt she's on crystal meth, which would be the only explanation for such a culinary abomination.)

Seriously, though. Delia, what's happened love? FROZEN MASHED POTATO? You're supposed to like food, woman! I'm all for taking the snobbery out of food and reintroducing the concept of cooking as an egalitarian activity, but for f**k's sake, what's next? Super Noodle Stew? Scotch Egg and Walnut Whip Surprise? Frozen mash is cookery 'cheating' in a league of its own, Delia; frankly it is criminally deceitful to the tastebuds.

The idea of the country's best cookery presenter and writer putting together a book like this is, frankly, depressing in the extreme. When our national lack of skill and interest in the kitchen and the preparation of food has reached such critical depths that even Delia Smith is forced to admit defeat, when even she has conceded that there simply is not point in trying to help us cook properly and resorts to writing a book designed only to boost the coffers of the supermarket chains, it's time to weep, it really is.

Canine Whine

Oh for god's sake. Only in the Antipodes could a musical track THAT ONLY DOGS CAN HEAR reach number one. Effectively what that means is that vast numbers - a group of people in its thousands, let us not forget - actually went out and spent their money on a recording of what, to them, was effectively silence.

Holy Moly might think that the mad Welsh couple who're being violently harrassed for changing their names to Victoria and David Beckham are "the stupidest people alive", but surely this proves that competition is fierce?

'The makers of a chart-topping song only audible to dogs say they hope it can become a global hit. A Very Silent Night - a Christmas number one in New Zealand - raised money for the country's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A spokesman admitted he did not know how the CD - recorded at a frequency inaudible to humans - sounded to dogs. The track, which raised NZ$22,000 (£8,900), could now be released in the US and Australia, the spokesman added.'

Monday, February 11, 2008

Grammy Grotesque

"Alicia Keys opened the show with a "duet" with Frank Sinatra"

Hmm? What? She did what?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Bye Bye Mr Hillary

Now, I like a mountain climber as much as the next woman, but it says a lot about a country’s dearth of celebrity when the funeral of an octogenarian mountain-shimmier lies IN STATE prior to his funeral being broadcast in the capital city’s main park.

(LOVE the portrait though.)

'Hundreds of New Zealanders paid their respects to Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber to scale Mount Everest, ahead of his state funeral on Tuesday. Mourners gathered at Auckland's Holy Trinity Cathedral to file past his body as it lay in state.
Prime Minister Helen Clark, who attended a short ceremony at the cathedral, described Sir Edmund as "New Zealand's greatest hero". The renowned climber died of a heart attack on 11 January at the age of 88. Tuesday's state funeral will be broadcast across New Zealand and shown on a giant screen in an Auckland park. Early on Monday, Sir Edmund's flag-covered coffin was brought into the cathedral, where he will lie in state for 24 hours. Local Maori offered a traditional welcome as military personnel carried the casket.'

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hospital Filth

If I told you that Leslie "the ugly blowfish" Ash was capable of earning £5m from 'acting' roles while resembling a startled truck tyre, would you believe me?

No, I didn't think so.

Unfortunately, the irresponsible c**t that was presiding over Ash's negligence case against the NHS was considerably more gullible than you and I. He actually believed that Ms Ash was no longer able to work as an actress because of her inability to play the “attractive young blonde characters” for which she was known (erm....HELLO??? I don't think that transformation can be blamed on the fucking NHS, do you?!). As a result, Ms Ash has received £5 MILLION of our money in compensation for her having contracted MSSA in a Chelsea hospital, in an out-of-court settlement.

Now. I take a dubious view of sueing hospitals in most cases (and yes, of course there are exceptions). If you're the victim of hospital error, it's a horrific experience for all concerned. But I'm afraid it does happen. That's life, and that's death, I'm afraid. Shit happens, and it sucks when it does. Hospitals and medical workers will do their best to save your life if you find yourself in need of treatment, but they can and will make mistakes. If they have to pay out millions every time they make those mistakes, where does that leave the healthcare system? If everyone who's ever suffered from having contracted MRSA or MSSA sues the hospital in which they've contracted it, what will happen? We'll end up with a healthcare system similar to that in place in the obscenely-litigious US, where poor people in certain parts of the country no longer even have access to fair medical assistance. (If you don't believe me, read Gavin Esler's United States of Anger).
Maybe, instead of paying out millions in compensation, we should use the cash in the NHS's litigation contigency pot to start paying full-time cleaners instead of hiring minimum wage contract staff who couldn't give a monkeys about the cleanliness of hospital wards?

Every time you sue the NHS you are taking money out the healthcare budget that could be used to provide a better service, and ultimately, to save lives. It is really that simple.

All of that aside....according to close members of her own family, who went on the record in national newspapers to this effect - Ms Ash was only in hospital in the first place because she was beaten up by her husband.
I'm not a fan of domestic violence, and I don't make a habit of blaming the victims of domestic violence for their unfortunate situation either.
But - but - the fact is that Ms Ash not only denied that she was being beaten up by her partner, but went further still to claim that her injuries were a result of "rough lovemaking". Hmmmm. I don't know about you, but I can't think of many occasions on which my own sexual activity resulted in broken ribs and a punctured lung. Suffice to say the word "lovemaking" doesn't seem too appropriate.
So Ms Ash very publicly protected her husband rather than use her position in the public eye to make a difference to the victims of domestic violence, to let them know that there were alternatives to living with male aggression in their home. Sorry, I mean "rough lovemaking". I mean, given that she was apparently capable of independently earning MILLIONS, she wasn't exactly forced back into a rough-lovemaking situation through poverty, was she?

You might say that the reasons for her being in hospital in the first place are irrelevant. But frankly, I don't care. Why should a woman who ended up catching a bug in hospital because she was drunkenly rough-loved by her fella receive more compensation than everyone else? (Ash received more in this one payout than all the MRSA-infected compensation recipients between 2002 and 2006). It DOES make a difference why she was there, and I'll armwrestle anyone who says otherwise.

Secondly, MSSA - which is NOT the same thing as MRSA, despite what cretinous Sun journalists might tell you (try looking up the definition of the word 'resistant') - is NOT "caused by poor cleanliness in hospitals".
Yes, cleanliness or a lack of it is a major contributory factor to the rise of superbugs in hospitals, but it is by no means at all the only thing that causes it. Anyone that wants to understand a bit more about how drug-resistant nasties like MRSA come into being might want to try learning a bit more about antibiotics and their uses and abuses - particularly within the human food chain. (John Humphrys' The Great Food Gamble has a frightening but interesting chapter on this subject). It isn't all the NHS's fault, people.

This £5m payout, by the way, comes on top of a £250,000 payout that Ms Ash had already received in June this year. So that's Leslie Ash set up for life - she can now stick sufficient botulism in her face to cause her to MOO should she wish to.

For the sake of the National Health Service, though - and to protect it from greedy f**kers like Ms Ash - I for one hope she goes private for her next bout of elective surgery.