Friday, September 29, 2006

Conference Bingo

The Conservatives hit Bournemouth next week and it's the time for all Shadow Cabinet Ministers to brush up their speeches. Or more accurately dust them down. I've attended several conferences and noticed that the same phrases crop up over and over again. So let's play conference bingo. The first person to identify all the phrases gets a nice shiny penny.

1. It's been a great week here in Bournemouth hasn't it....
2. Let the message go out from this hall today....
3. So join with me....
4. The time for apologies is over....
5. We made mistakes and I'm sorry .... (bonus points if in the same speech as number 4)
6. We know the Liberal Democrats, the dirtiest fighters in British politics.... (true, but hardly a political revelation)
7. Random idiocy about Europe (multiple occasions)
8. Random idiocy about Thatcher (ditto)
9. Isn't it awful in Darfur? (rare, but may be time for it's annual appearance)

Bonus Points also available for the appearance of Topolduring the financial appeal - If I was a rich man, yadda yadda yadda ya

Have I missed any?

All About Me

From Paul Burgin

I'll leave it to you all to make your own comments - there's just too many to work out where to start!

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Louise!

  1. Most bottles and jars contain at least twenty-five percent recycled Louise.
  2. Over half of Americans are officially Louise!
  3. The National Heart Foundation recommends eating Louise at least three times a week!
  4. Worldwide, Louise is the most important natural enemy of night-flying insects.
  5. The only planet that rotates on its side is Louise.
  6. Louise was declared extinct in 1902.
  7. About 100 people choke to death on Louise each year!
  8. The pupil of an octopus's eye is shaped like Louise.
  9. Louise was first discovered by Alexander the Great in India, and introduced to Europe on his return!
  10. Louise can not regurgitate.
I am interested in - do tell me about

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Obnoxious Chelsea

On our way to Hampton Court Palace on Sunday we passed the Chelsea training ground in Cobham. On the fence there is a sign which says "Attention. Footballers will not give autographs here" (Or something similarly obnoxious. It set me off on a rant, and three days later I'm still stewing over it.

Why won't footballers give autographs? Why can't they take the time to spend perhaps half an hour a day signing autographs for fans, particularly children.

Footballers are highly paid, highly adored - yet they won't spend time with their fans. I'm not totally opposed to the high pay that footballers get, the market allows it and the clubs are private businesses who should be allowed to pay the going rate. As long as everyone pays their taxes then how much any companies pay their employees doesn't bother me at all.

But when these highly paid footballers can't take time out of their days to sign a few autographs for fans. Or as they're otherwise known - the people who pay the wages. The folk who spend hundreds of pounds a year on season tickets (£330 for the cheapest child's season ticket at Chelsea) or £25 on an infant's kit, the same again on the away infant's kit and then there's the £6.99 for the scarf and £5.99 for the cap. Oh and the range of DVDs, clocks, pictures, soft furnishings.... you get the picture.

Fans spends a hell of a lot of money on football clubs. The least they can expect is a little appreciation in return.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Desperate Sugababes

A story appears in today's Sun about the Sugababes offering to sing at Richard Hammond's bedside.

There must be a new album or something due. People really do just jump on any bandwagon for their own publicity.

Sad bints.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A busy weekend

Had a great weekend, very busy but good.

Friday - went for a pub meal and to see The Queen. Never have Caeser Salad which is just piles and piles of lettuce - very unsatisfactory.

Great film. I had concerns that it was going to be a lefty hatchet job on the monarchy and the Queen in particular. I was wrong, while it wasn't a fawning fluff piece, it was by no means a bad portrayal. I think it showed the Queen as a "human" - someone who makes mistakes, but hell, don't we all. It wasn't a hatchet job on Blair either - although I don't think Alistair Campbell came out of things well. And Cherie will have appealed to people who agree with her opinions.

Saturday - bought furniture for our new house. We decided last week to move to a bigger place so have decided that we really need new furniture, so have bought a couple of sofas and chairs. Very very excited. Violin lesson. And then to Ikea. Which was less than exciting. I used to love Ikea - couldn't go without spending lots of money, but not this time. It just annoyed me.

Sunday - a very nice lunch then a wander round Hampton Court Palace. Definitely didn't spend enough time there, but will go back and see more. There was a real sense of history there and could almost see the Tudor ladies walking round the gardens. I love visiting houses and gardens and do think it's important to take advantage of the wonderful tourist attractions we have here in Britain.

Chris has some nice photos from the visit up.

There we have it - a weekend that wasn't just about long lies and slobbing around the house all the time.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Hamster's Progress....

Things appear to be looking up slightly - Richard Hammond has been released from Intensive Care and placed into a High Dependency Unit. The situation is still serious, but looking a little better for him.

My thoughts remain with him, his family and friends.

Congratulations to readers of who have set up a JustGiving page for Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Over £32,000 has been raised so far, mostly in small amounts from over 2,000 Richard Hammond fans. If you can afford something please think about giving to YAA (or your local Air Ambulance) who do a great job and save lives in Britain every day.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Good Luck Hamster

I was really shocked and upset by the news last night that Richard Hammond (the gorgeous one from Top Gear) has had a serious car crash. Last night his condition was described as critical, this morning it is serious. My thoughts are with him, his wife and children.

Hope all goes well and that he's back driving great cars at silly speeds again soon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Is Nicol Stephen Stupid?

Nicol Stephen has said that he won't do a deal with the SNP while the SNP have a policy of offering a referendum on Scottish independence. So far, so Lib Dem.

He said to BBC Scotland "It's a question you might want to put to Mr Salmond about why he is putting one policy against all those other policies that the SNP talk about week in, week out, in the parliament.

Let me put this simply so that even our Lib Dem readers understand - it is the policy that is at the core of the SNP. It is why the SNP was established. If you look at the SNP website it says "The SNP is a democratic left-of-centre political party committed to Scottish Independence."

If Nicol Stephen doesn't even understand the fundamental beliefs of all the other parties in Scotland then he just isn't paying enough attention.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Arrr Arrr Arrr

Tomorrow, September 19th, is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. How cool is that.

Avast me hearties, have at you - scurvy cur etc etc.

I shall be doing all I can to enter into the spirit of the day, particularly the grog drinking bit. Look out the Surrey Yeoman quiz night.

Thanks to Dizzy for pointing this out.

Spooks Is Back

Series 5 of Spooks began last night. I admit to being very excited, it is one of the best programmes on TV at the moment and proof that British TV can do more than costume dramas and soaps.

It increasingly appears to be following the example of 24 - make the stories that bit far-fetched so that it is sheer escapism. But put that little bit of truth into it that makes you think.

Another couple of similarities - not all politicians are portrayed as craven slimeballs and they aren't afraid to kill off characters that we all like in shocking and upsetting manners.

Welcome back Spooks. It's going to be a great 10 weeks.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I'm gonna go to hell for finding this funny. How to insult the major religions in one fell swoop.

Yip, Satan is just waiting for me....

Well Done Madrid

A big well done to the organisers of Madrid fashion week who have taken the bold and brave step of banning waif-like models from the show this year. More here.

The Spanish Association of Fashion Designers has become the first major fashion organisation to recognise the problems caused by the constant use of stick-thin, anorexic-looking models in their showm. Women, and especially young women and girls, should be encouraged as often as possible to build their self-esteem (as should men and boys!) but far too often the people who are held up to us as role models do more to damage self worth than aid it. Every time a major fashion show uses some girl who should be in hospital being treated for malnutrition as a symbol of beauty and aspiration they are sending out the message that unhealthy appearances are in fact beautiful.

This is not to say that some very thin models aren't naturally skinny and aren't beautiful. I always thought that Jodie Kidd was a particularly beautiful model, even though she has described herself as a "bag of bones". But how many of these girls are making themselves skinny through poor eating, and more worryingly, high drug use?

I accept totally that fashion designers want to make their clothes look as attractive as possible - but why does that include modelling them on girls whose ribs are showing through the clothes? Surely a good way to sell clothes is to make them attractive to the women who will buy them - the majority of us not skinny girls.

So, well done Madrid. Hopefully we'll hear of more of the same from other fashion shows.

Clooney at the UN

Sometimes, just occasionally, celebrity can be a good thing and can be put to good use.

Read this:

BBC News Story on George Clooney at the UN
Elie Wiesel on the situation in Darfur
Day for Darfur

Remember, it isn't just the President's watch, it's our watch too.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering Yin Ping (Steven) Wong

Today is the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Flight 93. 2,996 innocent victims from across the world and of many religions lost their lives that day.

I am joining with other bloggers in marking this day by remembering not the terrorists but the people killed that day.

Yin Ping Wong, known to his friends as Steven, was born in 1967 and left his native Hong Kong for the United States when he was 12. He was the sixth of seven children in his family.

Coming to a new country and learning a new language was difficult. Time made things easier and Steven held onto his own culture - being a fan of Cantonese pop music helped.

Steven worked for Aon Corps whose offices were in World Trade Center 2.

My thoughts today are with Steven and his family.

If you are participating in this tribute, please leave a link in comments.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things I like about myself

From Denise's challenge.

I hope these are all true, if some waver I hope I at least aspire to be or do these things.

1. I have strong opinions about many things - political, social and nonsensical.

2. My interests encompass many areas - I'm not too serious about life, but it's not all a joke either.

3. I care about what happens in the world - not just in my own life.

4. Although flying terrifies me, I will never let it stop me going on a great holiday.

5. I have a job that I like a lot and I care about doing it well.

6. I am generally very happy in my life and have a great home life.

7. I am a good friend - and even if I don't call, email or write for such a long time I will always be your friend and will always be there for you.

8. How much I love reading - sad, but it's a key part of my life and I like it.

9. My nose - don't laugh, I like it, even though it was broken about 20 years ago and has a bump.

10. How I feel as though, having hit 30, I am starting to do more with my life which I would have been scared to do 5/6 years ago eg learning the violin. Still have some way to go - but I will learn to ride a horse and scuba dive too.

11. The holidays I go on - probably a shallow thing to like about yourself, but I'm glad that we are able to go on nice holidays. I want to go back to Barbados.

12. I have never been in fashion. If I have ever worn anything fashionable it has been completely accidental.

13. More things in my life make me smile than make me upset.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!
1. (leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tick Tock Tick Tock

The knives are well and truly out for the PM now. 7 government members have resigned today, and there are surely more to follow - an ambitious Brownite secure in the knowledge they will be re-promoted back to Government when their man takes over perhaps. Of course 6 of them are the most junior, unpaid PPSs, but in the media whirlwind that won't matter in the slightest.

The perception is, and probably fairly accurate, that the Government is disintegrating before our eyes. The worst thing to happen to a Government has happened - the internal machinations of the political party have taken precedence over the Governance of the country. It's what happened in 1990 and pretty much throughout the entire 1992-97 parliament. Blood has been drawn, it's now only a matter of time before he has to go. How much time? I wouldn't like to guess. I've been sure he was going to go a couple of times before and it hasn't happened. It doesn't actually matter - he's now officially a Lame Duck Prime Minister and none of the Cabinet will give their full throated support because they will be too busy jockeying for power.

Interesting times ahead.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Save the Hospital Chaplains

I managed to listen to most of the Jeremy Vine show today without ranting. (Well I did bang the desk and shout Right On Brother Sheridan at Tommy). But I was really disturbed by the story about the NHS Trust which is saving £100,000 by cutting 6 out of 7 chaplains. More here

This disturbs me quite a lot. I'm not religious in the slightest, but I can see the benefits of a strong chaplaincy system in the NHS. I may not be religious, but many people are. Speaking from my own religious background it is important for Catholics to have the last rites, and I don't know that I could say now that when my time comes I won't feel that I need that. We must respect the strong religious faith that many people have, particularly at such a sensitive time in their life and possibly end of their life.

Chaplains also offer support to relatives and to staff. It can't be easy for (as an example) a nurse on a children's cancer ward - surely it is good staff management to offer support to people who do a difficult job.

And is this really going to save money? £100,000 isn't a lot of money in a Trust's budget. We are always been told that a strong mental attitude will speed recovery and aid early release. Surely the presence of a supportive person who can perhaps spend time with a patient, helping them through a stressful time, when a nurse can't spare that time, will ease recovery?

This seems like a very easy option which has been taken by just looking at a balance sheet. Perhaps there should have been more examination of saving money by cutting management and people who roam the wards with clipboards.

I hope the publicity makes the Trust reconsider.