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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.

Model Behaviour

Deary me. So much to annoy me this week, I barely know where to begin.

A good a place as any, however, is the story about the child modelling agency which stuck a 'Madeline McCann' lookalike on its books, in the (remarkably naive, it must be said) hope that the kid would earn fortunes. Presumably by hawking her 'talents' out to Crimewatch UK or something. Anyway, apparently the story is true. Astonishing.

'The boss of a Streatham Hill model agency which planned to hire out a Madeleine McCann lookalike has received death threats.
Shona Adams, who runs Juliet Adams model agency, had hoped pitching a Maddy lookalike to movie makers could land the tot £9million per day and a 20 per cent cut for her.
Ms Adams discovered the missing girl's lookalike, three-year-old Kelsey Lynn Kudla, after Kelsey's mum emailed her from the US.
Kelsey's mum explained the pair had been stopped seven times in one day by people pointing out how similar her daughter was to missing Maddy.
Ms Adams said she had received approaches from more than 100 would-be doubles.
The 41-year-old shrugged off critics who said it would hurt Maddy's parents Gerry and Kate arguing there was nothing they could do about her plans in a democracy.'

Friday, January 11, 2008

Who knew incest could be funny?

Hilarious story on the BBC today. Hilarious in a kind of “only because it’s not happening to me” kind of way, like when other people’s children fall off swings and suchlike.

Apparently, a set of twins who were adopted separately at birth ended up married to each other without realising.

Altogether now: ewww.

A court annulled the marriage after they found out the truth (wouldn’t want to have been in the room for that discovery), and the two unfortunate folks meandered away, mentally bruised and feeling slightly wrong in a way they couldn’t explain.

Except that’s not the end of it, because naturally, this is cue for lots of chin-stroking bullshit about the nature of genetic relationships, about “being drawn” to one another, about the rights and wrongs of adoption, and so on until the coma sets in.

The High Court judge in the case (always got their fingers on the pulse of modern living, that lot, don’t let the wigs fool you) said that the two had felt “an inevitable attraction”.

Oh really? REALLY? I don’t think so. I don’t think that what these poor folks felt was “inevitable”, any more than it’s inevitable that drunk women wearing short skirts end up getting raped (sorry, a strange tangent, I was just trying to follow the thinking of a High Court judge for a second there). What happened was simply an amazing – and for those involved, shitty and highly unfortunate – coincidence.

I mean, think about it, what are the chances? Seriously – what are the chances that such people are even going to MEET in later life, let alone fall into bed and marital disharmony with one another? Where do they live, the Isle of Man?

In real life (and/or major conubations), the chances of people meeting their genetic relations and falling in love with them by accident is so slim as to be irrelevant. And that’s it. All ill-informed “truth will out”, the “importance of biological relationships” social worker-stylee analysis is just so much pointless guff.

Yes, adopted folk should know who their biological parents are, because it’s important to them and they have a right to their own genetic history. But – and here’s the key thing – not because there’s a chance in hell they’re going to SLEEP with their genetic relations. To suggest as much is just to confuse (and add an entirely unhelpful layer of pseudo-smut to) an entirely valid debate.

By the way, one of the talking heads approached for this article was one Pam Hodgkins, chief executive officer of the charity Adults Affected by Adoption (NORCAP). Shouldn’t someone tell Pam that, when you change the name of your organisation, it’s generally considered sensible to change the acronym that goes with it?

‘A pair of twins who were adopted by separate families as babies got married without knowing they were brother and sister, a peer told the House of Lords.
A court annulled the UK couple's union after they discovered their true relationship, Lord Alton said. The peer - who was told of the case by a High Court judge involved - said the twins felt an "inevitable attraction". He said the case showed how important it was for children to be able to find out about their biological parents.
Details of the of the identities of the twins involved have been kept secret, but Lord Alton said the pair did not realise they were related until after their marriage.
The former Liberal Democrat MP raised the couple's case during a House of Lords debate on the Human Fertility and Embryology Bill in December.
"They were never told that they were twins," he told the Lords. "They met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of the marriage that they entered into and all the issues of their separation."
He told the BBC News website that their story raises the wider issue of the importance of strengthening the rights of children to know the identities of their biological parents .
"If you start trying to conceal someone's identity, sooner or later the truth will out," he said. "And if you don't know you are biologically related to someone, you may become attracted to them and tragedies like this may occur."
Pam Hodgkins, chief executive officer of the charity Adults Affected by Adoption (NORCAP) said there had been previous cases of separated siblings being attracted to each other.
"We have a resistance, a very strong incest taboo where we are aware that someone is a biological relative," she said. "But when we are unaware of that relationship, we are naturally drawn to people who are quite similar to ourselves. And of course there is unlikely to be anyone more similar to any individual than their sibling." ‘

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The consummate politician

Christ. Just how many shades of wrong is this???

David Cameron, paying ‘homage’ to Morrissey? While I’d be the first to admit that la Moz himself appears kind of blue these days – the right wing, white supremacist witterings stopped being ironic in about 1997 – there is still something that sticks in the craw about this.

Once again, Dave proves to us that there is no bandwagon he won’t join, no people-pleasing nonsense in which he will not indulge in order to further his own cold, hard ambition.

And once again he proves just how far removed from reality he actually is: The Smiths is hardly cutting edge, zeitgeist stuff, is it?

‘Tory leader David Cameron is paying homage to his musical hero Morrissey by visiting the club which has become a place of pilgrimage for Smiths fans.
He will go to the Salford Lads Club in Manchester where the band were pictured for their 1986 album The Queen is Dead.
Mr Cameron, who chose the Smiths song This Charming Man on Desert Island Discs, is expected to meet volunteers.
But Salford MP Hazel Blears said Mr Cameron's visit would remind people of "the dark days of Thatcherism".
Mr Cameron said, during his Desert Island Discs appearance, that Morrissey's appearance on Top of the Pops was "an iconic moment for people of my age".’

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Account for Clarkson, if you please

I love Jezza Clarkson - despite his starting-to-look-a-bit-silly attitudes towards environmentally-friendly modes of travel. I have done ever since I saw him on telly years ago refusing to pay a toll to drive in France on the grounds that, as a Brit, "he'd already paid for the road", before running into a Spanish fish factory to "steal back" a huge crate of freshly-caught fish.

What's not to love?

I digress.

Anyway, despite my fondness for the man, I did suspect that printing his bank details in the News of the World was probably arrogance on an ill-advised scale. I have been proven right in a hilarious - if entirely predictable - way.

(Oh, and see if you can spot Jeremy's second mistake in the story below...)

Clarkson stung after bank prank

TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson has lost money after publishing his bank details in his newspaper column.
The Top Gear host revealed his account numbers after rubbishing the furore over the loss of 25 million people's personal details on two computer discs.
He wanted to prove the story was a fuss about nothing.
But Clarkson admitted he was "wrong" after he discovered a reader had used the details to create a £500 direct debit to the charity Diabetes UK.
Clarkson published details of his Barclays account in the Sun newspaper, including his account number and sort code. He even told people how to find out his address.
"All you'll be able to do with them is put money into my account. Not take it out. Honestly, I've never known such a palaver about nothing," he told readers.
But he was proved wrong, as the 47-year-old wrote in his Sunday Times column.
"I opened my bank statement this morning to find out that someone has set up a direct debit which automatically takes £500 from my account," he said.
"The bank cannot find out who did this because of the Data Protection Act and they cannot stop it from happening again.
"I was wrong and I have been punished for my mistake."
Police were called in to search for the two discs, which contained the entire database of child benefit claimants and apparently got lost in the post in October 2007.
They were posted from HM Revenue and Customs offices in Tyne and Wear, but never turned up at their destination - the National Audit Office.
The loss, which led to an apology from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, created fears of identity fraud.
Clarkson now says of the case: "Contrary to what I said at the time, we must go after the idiots who lost the discs and stick cocktail sticks in their eyes until they beg for mercy."

Did you spot it? Did you? The bit where Jeremy reveals, again to an audience of millions, that "The bank cannot find out who did this because of the Data Protection Act and they cannot stop it from happening again."?

Good good.

These people are better than you


Oh dear lord.

I've just looked further into the 'alternative medicine' story and I am no longer angry. I am now bordering on sociopathic rage.

It SEEMS (intake of breath) that the Prince of Wales Foundation for Integrated Health - which will be running the council for regulating alternative treatments - is setting up the council using public money.

Yes - the Department of Health has given money (apparently around £2 million) to Prince Charles, non-tax paying, non-elected son of one of the world's richest women, the equally unelected Queen, to set up a governing body for fucking homeopathists.

I have always been a republican but I'm now starting to feel like the guillotine is too good for Charlie - too quick.

Now I'd like him to contract ebola or African trypanosomiasis, say, and die slowly. Course, if he follows his own advice on treating sick people, he inevitably would.

This man must never - NEVER - be given any semblance of real power. Or even be made King, for that matter.

Before I leave to go and punch a wall somewhere, a few points to think about next time you say "ahh, the Royals, they're harmless"

Last year, Charlie's Duchy Originals company - sorry, 'charity' - reported a profit of £1.2m on annual sales of £53m, and has generated £7m in profits since its operations first turned a profit in 1999.

The Royal family receive tax exemption from the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster - they do not pay corporation or capital gains tax. Prince Charles gains the majority of his income from the Duchy of Cornwall. In 2005, the public accounts committee called on the Treasury to justify why the duchies were exempt from corporation and capital gains tax. The taxpayer loses tens of millions through this exemption, from which the prince personally benefits.

In 2005, Prince Charles was given £1,584,000 grants-in-aid for travel and property maintenance and £489,000 from Government departments for other expenses, such as his PR team and official communications.

During that same period, his income increased by around £800,000 - he 'earns' around £14m a year, on which he pays around £3.3m in tax.

The Duchy of Cornwall is now valued at more than £551 million, after growing in value by nearly £46 million in 2005-6.

Oh, and one more for fun: when the Queen's mother finally kicked the bucked a couple of years back, Charlie and his lady wife moved into 'her' house, Clarence House. Unfortunately, thanks to the recently departed old dear, the soft furnishings smelled faintly of piss (I assume) and so he had to redecorate.

That redecoration, people, cost the British public (i.e. me and thee) four and a half million quid.

Angry yet?

Snake Oil Salesmen

The 'alternative' medicine industry is to be regulated for the first time under a new law to come in in April. This can only be a good thing. Frankly, that conventional medicine (or, as I like to call it, 'medicine') is obliged to prove its effectiveness before trying itself out on people while the alternative lot wave their crystals about willy-nilly without having to deal with pesky concepts like 'truth' or 'effectiveness' is nothing short of scandalous.
So, all good so far - if you can overlook the fact that this council is to be self-regulated (always a highly effective way of implementing change, that is) and is backed by the clearly mad but nonetheless meddling Prince Charles. On this occasion, I think we should overlook.

However, reading the following nearly caused my eyeballs to blister:

'Millions of Britons currently spend £130 million a year on complementary treatments and it is estimated that this will reach £200 million over the next four years. Among the practices to be covered by the scheme would be aromatherapy, reflexology, massage, nutrition, shiatzu, reiki, naturopathy, yoga, homoeopathy, cranial osteopathy and the Alexander and Bowen techniques.
Research also shows that more than two thirds (68 per cent) of people in the UK believe that complementary medicine is as valid as conventional treatment.'

A majority of Britains believe that AROMATHERAPY is as valid as 'conventional treatments' like radiotherapy, you're telling me?

That makes me very angry. Very, very angry indeed.

Tell you what would calm me down a bit, though: if the government passed another new law requiring all 68% of those who believe in the validity of medicinal snake oil and the like to opt for crystal healing or Reiki as treatment when they get sick, or, say, run over by a large truck.

When my time comes, believe you me, I'm getting it scanned, cut out, burnt off, irradiated, lasered, you name it - whatever the terribly-untrendy medical establishment can throw at me, I'll take it. I quite like being alive.

And if the other cretinous 68% of the general public is off being massaged, sniffing oils or looking for fairies at the bottom of the garden at the time, it stands to reason there'll be no waiting list.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

And that’s why mums go to the Job Centre

And finally, some semblance of (albeit twisted and myopic) sanity has returned to the world of frozen vegetables.
I was beginning to think that the grotesque parody of a human being (sorry, I meant ‘Celebrity Mum of the Year’) that is Kerry Katona was going to actually have to smoke crack through a Heinz babyfood bottle, on Lorraine Kelly’s breakfast show, naked but for a couple of Iceland frozen sausage rolls strapped to her grotesquely inflated breasts and singing ‘My Way’ before she’d actually get the sack.

'Kerry Katona is reportedly being dropped from the Iceland television commercials because she is no longer seen as a model mother.
The 27-year-old former Atomic Kitten singer used to use the catchphrase "That's why mums go to Iceland" in the ads.
But Katona, who is expecting her fourth child this May, has been branded a poor role model after continuing to smoke while pregnant.
Iceland marketing director Nick Canning confirmed there would be less need for the former star in future TV commercials.
He told the Daily Mirror: "It is clear we have been hiring different staff including Jason Donovan and Coleen Nolan over Christmas.
"I'm not sure what contract we will be able to offer."
A source told the paper: "When Kerry was first hired she was perfect for the demographic of Iceland shoppers.
"But her reputation has gone before her, and she is no longer seen as the model mum she once was."
Katona's popularity with the public appears to be in decline.
She was voted the second worst celebrity mother in a poll in September, and was forced to deny being on drugs following an unusual appearance on GMTV in October.
In November, she was voted the most irritating individual in Britain.'

By the way, she isn't actually giving birth whilst Hello magazine capture the happy event for posterity (and cash), though it may look that way from the constipated expression in the picture. She's having the name of her latest offspring tattooed to the back of her neck. It's like the ASBO equivalent of a Christening. Bless.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Being a fashion stylist - in the words of a stylist

The Emperor didn't pick out his own clothes, apparently. A stylist did it for him.

'For Katy England, who works with Alexander McQueen, her job is absolute perfection, but she insists, it is not rocket science. 'I didn't know what a stylist was when I left college,' she says. 'Now, with the celebrity culture we have, it seems as though everyone has to have a stylist. Most people could do the job to a degree. Magazines like Heat and Hello! show you how to do it. You can go into Topshop and put a look together.' (The Guardian).

If only I'd known years ago that the key to fabulous wealth lay in following a career path of abject pointlessness and vapidity. I'd have skipped college and screwed a popstar. Or topped myself as a result of misanthropic, impotent rage. Whichever came first.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Ban Philip Pullman. Ban Atheism.Ban children’s literature. Ban thinking.

'A children’s fantasy film that stars Nicole Kidman and features a little girl on a quest to kill God has some Christian groups upset over what they believe is a ploy to promote atheism to kids.
The movie, “The Golden Compass,” is adapted from the first novel in a trilogy called “His Dark Materials” by English author Philip Pullman, an outspoken atheist. Critics fear that the film, due out in December, will encourage children to read the anti-Church series.
"These books denigrate Christianity, thrash the Catholic Church and sell the virtues of atheism," said Bill Donohue, president and CEO of the Catholic League.
The film itself is unlikely to offend — because New Line Cinema has tried to keep religion out of it, focusing on the story of a little girl named Lyra and her journey within a strange, parallel universe.
"'The Golden Compass' is an entertaining fantasy about love, courage, responsibility and freedom," a New Line spokesman said. "We look forward to the Dec. 7 opening."
But the removal of the Godless themes from the movie has some Christian organizations seething.
"They’re intentionally watering down the most offensive element,” Donohue said. “I'm not really concerned about the movie, [which] looks fairly innocuous. The movie is made for the books. ... It's a deceitful, stealth campaign. Pullman is hoping his books will fly off the shelves at Christmastime."
Some atheists and fans of the books aren't happy, either. They say the studio has caved to pressure from the Christian right by sanitizing the tale for the big screen.'

“Pullman is an outspoken atheist”. I love how they make that sound like he’s a kiddy fiddler or similar; I mean, the fucking Pope is an outspoken Catholic, or so I’m told – can we do something about him too, please? I think he's on a stealth campaign to convert women into childbearing drones whose major life choices are dictated by decrepid old men who live in the Vatican, but nobody's listening to me.

Anyway, Pullman. Well now JESUS, we’d better make sure those evil atheists never get anywhere near creative expression in the future, just THINK of the effect they’ll have on our INNOCENT – or, as we are doing our damnedest to be sure of, unthinking – children.
How DARE an atheist write a book! How dare it become one of the most popular books for children of all time! How dare he encourage freedom of thought in the minds of the young before we’ve had a chance to mentally batter all the questioning out of them!

It never ceases to amaze me how god botherers insist that theirs is an all-powerful, all-seeing deity, capable of making and destroying whole worlds, but yet can’t take even the wee-ist, the icklest bit of criticism. I reckon if your god is capable of striking me down and plunging me into the depths of hellfire and damnation for being a non-believer, he’s probably a tiny bit above your common-or-garden “God, mate, you’re a bit of an arsehole” name-calling.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Corporate annoyances of the year - and so it begins

C and* A launches 'We CandAre'* eco plan

We C and are? Eh? That doesn't really work, does it? First person who guesses the size of the obscene pile of cash paid to a branding consultancy for that grammatical freakshow wins a copy of 'U R Gr8: Txt spk for the new generation'.


Music and entertainment-related fashion brand Hard Rock International has launched the Bono Signature Series, which includes a T-shirt featuring the U2 musician, with the proceeds going to a cotton initiative in Africa.

Wrong. Wrong, I tell you. Does nobody see the irony in making a whole pile of cotton t-shirts that nobody wants nor needs, or indeed (discounting those padded-cell dwellers deemed too 'special' to qualify for care in the community) will EVER be able to wear without being beaten senseless, and then giving the 'proceeds' to cotton workers?

*(that should be an ampersand, but for reasons known only to itself, blogger doesn't allow them. You can stick up all the child pornography and pictures of women shagging horses you like, but an ampersand? SHAME on you).