...a blog by Richard Flowers

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Day 1943: Doctor Who: SCHOOL REUNION


I enjoyed this episode a LOT because K9 was very CUTE. Almost FLUFFY. Anyway, here is what Daddy Richard has to say:

Almost bizarrely, Russell T Davies has gotten in a new writer this week for the fanboy-pleasing one. And yet, in so many ways, this was not so much a story about the ‘kisses to the past’ (©Philip Segal of Paul McGann movie fame) it was about the future, specifically Rose’s future as in ‘life-after-the-Doctor’.

This all turns out to be a horrible development for the character of Rose, in another terrific turn from Billie Piper, as she suddenly realises that not only has there been a “last one” but there is inevitably going to be a “next one”. It’s an interesting new take on the Time Lord, the lonely curse of the immortal. Very Anne Rice.

Which brings us to the Vampires. I’m sorry, that’s Krillitanes. Riiight. Interestingly, this series has run episodes one, two, three with zombies, werewolf and now, er, bat people. And everyone knows that Cybermen are the Mummy, don’t they. Is anyone else thinking gothic horror era, Philip Hinchcliffe and ooh, Sarah Jane again.

But really, this is an episode about the guest stars.

There are so many reasons for choosing Sarah Jane for this story. I mean, obviously because she is the companion for the Russell T generation, but also she was the companion left most abruptly, shockingly and not to the traditional ‘happy-ever-after’ romantic step out but because the call to Gallifrey came. Oh, and she’s the only one with a robot dog.

The first time the Doctor meets here, she doesn’t know who he is but he is so delighted, so very delighted to meet her and his love (or David Tennant’s) shines out so bright it’s almost neon: “my god, you’re Sarah Jane!”. There’s a near perfect mirror in the scene that night when she does know who he is, and she’s… appalled that he is suddenly back in her life, right in front of her: she looks like she’s seen a ghost… and thanks to the director and the lighting, so do we.

And Elisabeth Sladen is simply perfect. It’s not just like she’s never been away, it’s like she has been away and has been hurt by that and that she’s living her life without the Doctor because she has to, not because she wants to. She’s still a strong woman, but she’s also got a vulnerability. She so nearly agrees to go with the Doctor again at the end, and she’s so strong that she can let him go because it’s what he needs. He has to explain it to Rose, but Sarah knows. Ah, at least he leaves her another robot dog.

Ah, the tin dog: Mickey Smith. Noel Clarke has done so much to bring Mickey on from “Rose” to the present and he so much deserved to be promoted to “full companion”. Although quite what Mickey will make of adventures in time and space. And of course it neatly turns the episode on it’s head: after the Doctor is caught between “the ex and the misses” now it’s going to be Rose’s turn. As she realises all to clearly from that roll of the eyes.

And then there’s Tony Head. You know, I’m telling myself that (enormous explosion aside) we don’t know for sure that he died when the other Krillitanes got the gloop. Because he was marvellous. It was a wonderfully precise villain, and very smooth and charismatic. Like he’s been waiting all these years to say: “No, Joss, this is how a Vampire Master should be played.”

How compelling was that scene at the swimming pool? And David Tennant really stepped up to match him. Two aliens of enormous power facing off, and the Doctor this time really taking on the mantel of all the Time Lords. Perhaps because Sarah reminded him of that: everyone else died and now he has to be there.

Still, the story of this Krillitane Brotherhood and their intended apotheosis is secondary to the real story of the Doctor and Sarah and Rose. Which makes the triumph of blowing them up secondary to the tragedy of Sarah left behind.

Heavy stuff for a Saturday night.

Dragons live forever, but not so little boys. Or girls.

Oh all right, yes I cried.

Next week: France, frocks and freaky clockwork robots.

Day 1942: Tom Baker


It is the end… and he says in “Logopolis”. Tom Baker will no longer be doing the VOICE of TEXT MESSAGES for the telephone people.

My Daddies say that I sound like Tom Baker.

This is NOT TRUE.

HE sounds like ME!

Especially when he does the Vauxhall Vectra advert: “A car for the next Millennium” That’s ME to the tee! Only a bit deeper than me.

And I don’t say RUDE things. Ever.

Anyway, if you want to hear what I sound like by sending text messages to yourself: YOU’RE TOO LATE.

Start the petitions now: get my voice reinstated!

Day 1941: Feeling Sorry for the Labour


I do NOT mean that I feel sorry for the shower who are currently splashed over the front pages like an ungainly accident involving parachuting rhinoceroses. No, they are the people in charge and they entirely deserve it when they turn out to be RUBBISH at doing their jobs.

Mr Safety Elephant: should have TOLD parliament about the problem when he FIRST heard about it. What he DID was to keep quiet and stay in charge in order to fix it. SO NOW when he says he’s going to stay in charge and fix it… TOO LATE, you already DID THAT.

Mrs Nanny Hewitt: should NOT be trying to gloss over the PROBLEMS that are happening in the NHS. If she says that 50% of the problem is in 7% of the trusts one more time, even I will want to SLOW HAND CLAP her!

Mrs Beckett of DEATHRAY: should be grateful that she has gotten off so lightly, as her department STILL hasn’t managed to pay SUBSIDIES to farmers EVEN THOUGH Mr Frown is TAXING farmers for them!!!

Mrs Jowell and Mrs Kelly: should think themselves very lucky that they seem to have gotten past their own crises. For the moment.

And the Minister for Magical Accidents: should probably reflect long and hard on all the times he TOOK THE MICKEY out of the Conservatories who were caught WITH THEIR TROUSERS DOWN and maybe apologise. Also, having a big go at the secretary for selling her story is, shall I say, UNGALLANT. Going to Max Clifford for oodles of MONEY ought to be enough for people to make up their own minds about her.

No, I don’t feel sorry for ANY of them. But it really cannot be much fun being an ORDINARY member of the Labour this week. I remember how Daddy Richard and Daddy Alex both felt so POWERLESS and OUT OF THE LOOP when Mr Charles Kennedy had to step down as leader of the Liberal Democrats. The ordinary members of the Labour certainly didn’t sign up to the party in order for THIS sort of a week.

Of course, my Daddies felt a lot better once the Liberals got their act together and chose a new LEADER.

Maybe there is a lesson for member of the Labour there.

Now, who is going to tell Lord Blairimort?

Day 1940: She’s NOT back!


Well, I am VERY confused now. I was expecting to see more of my friend the Lady from Upstairs on Newsnight and it turned out that she wasn’t there.

Mr Paul kindly put a link to the Newsnight website on my diary the other day and there are two clips to play. Unfortunately, my Daddies do not have BROADBAND at home and Daddy Richard’s work computer has too fierce a firewall to let him watch it there either. So, we cannot tell what the clips are!

Did anybody else see what happened to Mr Luntz? Or has he been bounced off our screens by the “Attack of the Safety Elephant” saga that had Paxo (the Rooster Booster) interviewing the man who misplaced a thousand people who should probably have been deported?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Day 1939: Harry Porter and the Conscience of Lord Voldemort


Mr Balloon has taken to wearing a PALE GREEN TIE.

Apparently he COULD have had one that was GREENER, but he preferred the more EXPENSIVE one.

Anyway, on to today's diary – cue the twinkly music Daddy!

Eleven years ago, it was a dark time for the wizarding community: grey ghosts and zombies and mummies ruled the land and made everyone's life a general MISERY until KINDLY Lord BLAIRIMORT appeared with his DEATH EATERS, Crabbe, Goyle and the much feared loved LUCIUS MANDLEFOY.

Lord Blairimort banished the Creatures of the Night with his GOOD MAGICKS of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, The Serious and Organised Crime Squad and The Cruciatus Curse.

There have been MANY wonderful improvements: HOGWARTS School of Magic has been privatised upgraded to the Reg Vardy City McAcademy of Christian Values and Burger Flipping; AZKAHBAN PRISON has been given to GROUP FOUR under a Public-Private Partnership scheme to replace all prison guards with evil DEMENTORS; and the Department of MAGICAL ACCIDENTS has been put in charge of all Government Ministries.

This week, a young boy wizard, called Henry Potter, has been exchanging OWLS with the Dork Lord himself, Lord Blairimort.

It would appear that Lord Blairimort and his berserk elephant, Death Eater Charles Clarke, have chosen this week to go on a COUNTER OFFENSIVE against all the people who say that they are TRAMPLING ROUGHSHOD over the civil liberties of Great Britain.

Clearly, Lord Blairimort is starting to feel that his reputation is SUFFERING because of this. However, being Lord Blairimort, his response is NOT to reconsider his actions and wonder if maybe the people criticising him have a point. No, he thinks that if he uses his MAGIC SPIN it will make all his troubles go away.

It seems to me that Lord Blairimort's responses can be summarised by just three of the things that he SAYS:


"You say I have 'pared down our liberty at an astonishing rate', then list a whole lot of fundamental rights, as if these had all been drastically curtailed."

Translation: we've only done it a LITTLE bit.

Perhaps Lord Blairimort needs reminding what the meaning of the word FUNDAMENTAL is. Either a Right is Fundamental or it is NOT. If you believe that you can "pare it down" even slightly then you DO NOT believe that it is fundamental.


"When we talk of civil liberties, what about theirs, the law-abiding people; the ones who treat others with courtesy and good manners and expect the same back? Don't theirs count for anything?"

and again

"The question for me is: whose civil liberties? Of course the offender has rights; but so has the victim"

Translation: only CRIMINALS want civil rights.

The problem with trotting out this old favourite time and again is that it is LORD BLAIRIMORT who is taking away the civil rights of LAW ABIDING PEOPLE.

You do NOT need to be "an offender" to have lost the right to silence or the right to trial by jury or the right to protest to your government or the right to protection from undue arrest: we have ALL lost these rights. If you are INNOCENT of any crime, these rights were there to PROTECT YOU from the Government just locking you up at random. Now they are – some in a small way, some in a big way – GONE.

And Third:

"If the traditional processes were the answer to these crime and law and order problems that are an age away from Dixon of Dock Green and the stable communities of 50 years ago, then we wouldn't be having this debate. But they're not. They've failed."

Translation: you can only be SAFE if you do it MY way!

What is ASTONISHING is that after EIGHT YEARS in charge, Lord Blairimort is so keen to say that he has FAILED.

Particularly when it doesn't even seem to be TRUE!

If we are failing to punish wrong-doers, how can it be that our prison population is the HIGHEST per-capita in Europe? If wrong-doers are going unpunished WHO are all those people in our OVERCROWDED jails?

If we are failing to prevent crime, why are the figures for TOTAL crime falling? Why have they been falling for YEARS AND YEARS?

Most crime is crime against PROPERTY: theft and burglary and this is DOWN. (Probably because many more people are in WORK.) A very small amount of crime is crimes of VIOLENCE: assault and worse and it is true that this is UP. (Probably because many more people are in WORK and so many more people can afford to get fighting DRUNK.)

I have a THEORY. (It ISN'T "bunnies".)

Back in the days that the Conservatories were in charge, Lord (then Mr) Blairimort decided that although people trusted the Labour on health and education, they trusted the Conservatories more on keeping them safe from crime.

So Lord Blairimort decided that to stop it costing him the election, on every crime issue he would OUTFLANK the Conservatories on the RIGHT.

If the Conservatories wanted stiff sentences he would make them stiffer; if the Conservatories wanted people locked up, he would lock up even more; if the Conservatories broke the law on corruption he would break it even worse (er, that can't be right?).

Every crime, every failure would be blamed on the home secretary whether it was his fault or not.

And it worked!

But it has led to a kind of MADNESS, an ever-rightward ARMS RACE on law and order and no-one can ever, ever say "hang on a mo" or they will be called SOFT ON CRIME (© all anti-Liberal Democrat leaflets ever!).

Another thing that I have NOTICED is that although Mr Harry Porter makes a case and then offers various evidence to support it, Lord Blairimort does NOT make a counter case. Instead he uses a DEBATING TACTIC of picking SOME (but not all) of Mr Harry Porter's points and knocking them down and then RUBBISHES the case as a whole as a "mishmash of misunderstanding, gross exaggeration and things that are just plain wrong" where "We enter the realm of fantasy" and serious discussion can be dismissed as it only "shows how far out of touch much of the political and legal establishment is today with the reality of people's lives".

It SEEMS that Lord Blairimort's reply boils down to:

"How DARE you say I DON'T care about Civil Liberties. I DO I DO I DO! Everything you say is RUBBISH! I've only taken away a few rights; that's not as bad as the criminals; and I've got to be tough. It's for your own good, you know. And anyway… I know where you live!"

LOOK, only an idiot or a fluffy elephant would portray Lord Blairimort as some kind of black hearted evil villain intent on ruling us with his dark magick powers and flinging anyone who opposes him into a dark dungeon.

That's LUNACY.

Or possibly SATIRE.

What is MUCH more important is how LITTLE Mr Blair actually CARES that our Civil Rights and Laws were there to PROTECT US, to PROTECT THE INNOCENT.

None of us are perfect: not the police, not the courts, not the government, not even – though it is probably news to him – Mr Blair himself. We all make mistakes and THAT is when we need our Human Rights.

The LAW used to make a difference between ARRESTABLE and NON- ARRESTABLE offences precisely so that a policeman could NOT just lock people up on any pretext.

The LAW used to say you couldn't draw any inference from silence precisely to protect people from being tricked into a false confession.

The LAW used to let you have a lawyer with you precisely because it is COMPLICATED and not everyone can understand every law, especially when Mr Blair is churning them out at a rate of more than one HUGE Criminal Justice Bill a year for the last eight years! It is an OUTRAGE that people can be subject to ANY sanction by Mr Blair or ANY government without even the simple decency of BEING TOLD WHY!

The OLDEST established Human Right IN THE WORLD was HABEUS CORPUS. That is the right to not disappear into the king's dungeons and never be seen again. Mr Blair has made repeated efforts to ABOLISH this!

A wise man once said: "Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?"

Well, Mr Blair… did she?

PS: following on from today’s news – Daddy Richard’s saying of the day.

"Construct a popular phrase or saying from the following words, not necessarily in this order:


Isn’t he MEAN!

Day 1938: She's Back



The nice Lady from UPSTAIRS has told me that Mr LUNTZ will be BACK on NEWSNIGHT on WEDNESDAY night.

Apparently MR FROWN is in for a BIG doing over!

I will report more once this has been on the telly.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Day 1937: Faction Paradox


Daddy Richard and Daddy Alex went to a BIRTHDAY PARTY for Daddy Richard's NIECE who is called HOLLY. She is THREE. Which means I am TWO years older that Holly and she has to do what I say! Except on her birthday. SHUCKS!

As it is a long drive in the car to where Holly lives, they listened to a CD on the way called "The True History of Faction Paradox: Coming to Dust" and ANOTHER CD on the way home called "The True History of Faction Paradox: The Ship of a Billion Years".

This may SOUND like overkill, but in fact they are like PART ONE and PART TWO of the same adventure.

These CDs were written by Mr Mad Larry who also wrote ABOUT TIME. They are LIKE Doctor Who, except that is a big SECRET and you must not tell ANYONE or else Mr Mad Larry will get in TROUBLE.

The first part is set in NAPOLEONIC times and has dumb idiots from ENGLAND summoning up Justine and Eliza, the last survivors of FACTION PARADOX, in order to help them with a SCARY APE, that is actually…

Well, you see AGES before this ISLA BLAIR who was a Time Lady, oops, Agent of the Great Houses who comes face to scary masked face with SUTEKH from Pyramids of Mars, er no, the Osiriyan Court and Egyptian Mythology. He makes her into a Vampire, no, no, no a Malakh.

Anyway, the Time Lords, pardon, Great Houses couldn't cope with SUTEKH so they sued for peace and he buggered off back to Phaester Osiris, sorry the Throneworld of the Osiriyan Court leaving the Malakh right in it.

So, back up to date (er if you’re a mad Franco-Sardinian Dwarf Emperor) now Isla Blair wants to summon SUTEKH back to Earth to finish the job. So she's gotten a sarcophagus with a space-time tunnel in it. Yes, just like the one in "Pyramids of…" well that thing. Off the telly. With the same sound and everything. But obviously completely different. And she needs to do in something gooey to get it going.

Anyway, the FACTION discover that the something gooey is actually made out of some of what SHOULD have been their children if SUTEKH and the Tim… them fellows hadn't mucked about with it.

This made Justine a BIT CROSS so she jumped into the space-time tunnel with the intention of DOING IN SUTEKH.

End of Part One.

This was all very thrilling but also rather confusing. Isla Blair was REALLY JOLLY good and the little bits of GABRIEL WOOLF as SUTEKH are absolutely fabulous. In a CHILLINGLY evil kind of a way. (He was in "Py…" you don't need to know that though, do you?) On the other hand, Justine and Eliza not only have NEW VOICES from the OLD Faction Paradox audios, their ACCENTS have almost SWAPPED OVER. Which, no offence to the new ladies involved, is a bit confusing at times. I miss their old voices.

Having said all that, Part Two is a BILLION times better. This is partly because it makes a lot more sense on its own, and partly because it ties up and explains a lot of what was going on in Part One but is mostly because it stars Isla Blair's MRS who is called MR JULIAN GLOVER (who is in JAMES BOND as Kristatos, and also something called "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".) He's been in Doctor W… no, no it's really not important. He plays Lord Upshe

[R: it's actually, Lord Upuat, Grey Jackal-headed son of Anubis. Apparently. Oh, and Upshe is from COUNT DUCKULA.]

Be quiet Daddy.

He plays Lord UPSHE and what with being totally godlike (and so is the character he is playing) he has enslaved silly Justine in the blink of an eye. He takes her on a tour of the place where she has ended up, which is the travelling vessel of RA and the rulers of the Osiriyan Court, called THE SHIP OF A BILLION YEARS. If I say it's like a DYSON SPHERE that really doesn't do it justice, because that is just too… TECHNOLOGICAL a description. This is the cruise ship of the gods. Even the swimming pool is divine!

The Ship is protected from the T… Great Houses by the DIVINE SHIELDS, who are basically OSIRIS and SUTEKH (because they're good at it and everyone else is RUBBISH, even though LORD UPSHE gives it a go, later).

The power of the Osiryans is derived from RA, an ENORMOUS maybe-living SUN! (Though remember, there are SOME FOLKS about who draw their power from a BLACK HOLE!)

Anyway, it turns out that OSIRIS has gone missing and SUTEKH wants to be in charge now. No prizes for guessing what's happened to OSIRIS. Think "pushing up daisies" and you won't be FAR wrong.

So there are LOTS more exciting CONFRONTATIONS between SUTEKH and the other Osiryans, which means LOTS more Gabriel Woolf. And it has a real sense of huge "war of the gods" epic STUFF!

Sutekh ALMOST wins but is stopped by Huge Ra and Upshe Rises…

[R: groans]

…rises to the occasion and saves the Ship.

A long time ago there was a Doctor Who Missing Adventure by Justin Richards called "The Sands of Time", which is not a BAD story, but manages to make the Osiryans a bit SMALL and WEEDY.

"The Ship of a Billion Years" is COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE. It is FANTASTIC and really makes you feel like a small fluffy elephant listening AGHAST to the super-being DUKING IT OUT. And VERY cleverly, if you KNOW the Egyptian myths of Osiris and Sutekh and Isis and Horus then you SHOULD be able to work out what's coming… but STILL find it a satisfyingly CLEVER and very FACTION PARADOX outcome.

This would have been the BEST bit of new Noooo, not Doctor Who at all really! in ages… if we hadn't listened to it the day after "TOOTH AND CLAW"!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Day 1936: DOCTOR WHO: Tooth and Claw


It has been a couple of days since my last diary. This is NOT because I have been hiding behind the sofa. NOT AT ALL. I am NOT scared of werewolves. It is just that my cuddly zebra, Mr Stripy, ACCIDENTALLY fell down there and I have been getting him out. THAT IS ALL.

Here is Daddy Richard's review of episode two: "Tooth and Claw".

That was awesome.

In the few weeks before the series returned, there were rumours circulating that the creative team had given serious thought to swapping "New Earth" and "Tooth and Claw" in the running order, so impressed were they with the way that the second episode had turned out. For several reasons, I'm rather glad that they were clever enough to leave them in the order that they did.

Firstly, this was very much a "boys" episode – Kung-FU monks and soldiers and a werewolf for heavens sake! – and if anything was going to grab the FA Cup semi-final audience before they switched off it was that pre-title sequence. Last year, people were perhaps a little harsh about the direction of Keith Boak, but it was obviously a step up when Euros Lynn took the reins for "The End of the World" and "The Unquiet Dead". I don't know what he's been taking in the intervening year but someone seriously needs to give this guy a James Bond film to play with as his talents have gone stratospheric.

(And not just with wire-fighting monks and ramping the pre-title-sequence: other beautiful moments included the shot down the TARDIS central column to the Doctor and Rose enjoying their flight to 1979, oops 1879; the Doctor and the wolf separated by only the library door; the beautifully composed push-pull on Queen in the observatory, holding her cross with the telescope framed behind her; and the beautiful final "come to Scotland" shot of the TARDIS dematerialising from the highland moor.)

Secondly, there's the almost magical way that the Doctor Who production office can give the media just the right story to keep them plugging the series. As season opener for the most talked about series of the year last years and this, "New Earth" was bound to get a lot of the papers' previews. But a lot of those reviews came in the form of "well, this week's is pretty run of the mill, but next week's will blow your mind". Two plugs for the price of one.

And then the werewolf itself – and its above movie quality CGI rendering – managed to attract a lot of media coverage, carrying the series into another week of coverage and keeping up the public awareness. It was a unique hook that was pretty obviously stronger than any one individual thing in "New Earth", even the return of Lady Cassandra. Ironically, it was used in much the same way as the string of "monsters" (the Forrest of Cheam, the Mox of Balhoon, the Face of Boe, and all the rest) had been used last year to carry over the initial publicity rush from "Rose" to "The End of the World". (Of course, that was before Christopher Eccleston provided his own media hyperdrive.)

And thirdly, it's the question of ratings. Last week, "New Earth" pulled in a very respectable eight million viewers, and the BBC were delighted enough that it was making the news bulletins and Ceefax. In spite of this there was much griping from "the fans" that the series had gone off the boil and both the Mail and the Sun were running with "Doctor Who doomed" scenarios on the slightly ludicrous premise that the series hadn't achieved as many viewers as it had on Christmas Day. But the real test for an ongoing series is not just how many viewers it gets on the night, it is how many viewers it draws back the following week.

This week the viewing figures went up. Up by almost a million on the overnights.

Now pre-publicity about the werewolf might account for some of that, the carry over audience from the football might account for some of that, but clearly the majority of it is down to the fact that people who watched "New Earth" liked it enough to come back.

If "Tooth and Claw" had been first, then it would easily have overshadowed "New Earth"; this way around it's much harder for the knockers to do "New Earth" down; clearly it got a lot of things right.

So what about the actual story?

I think it was Jane Austen who first said, it is a fact universally acknowledged that a Doctor Who story in possession of the very best plot is in need of a base under siege. The remote Scottish retreat of Torchwood House, only one blocked railway line away from Balmoral, was perfect: all gloomy panelled corridors, period library, chains in the wine cellar and mad, deceased Laird McLeish's observatory in the roof.

Anyone familiar with Chekhov's Gun will have been immediately wondering "how is the Doctor going to use that big telescope?", but the resolution still didn't disappoint thanks to the clever twist of the Doctor solving not just the immediate problem but also deducing the existence of the trap-within-a-trap reason for there being a great big telescope up there in the first place.

Stir in the bit of historically true fluff about Prince Albert's obsession with getting the Koh-i-noor Diamond just right for extra flavour.

For the third adventure running it is the Doctor who solves the problem. He does do that ninth Doctor thing of bringing out the best in people around him, even if it costs them their lives: in this case Sir Robert gets to redeem his treason by taking on the werewolf with a sabre. But for the first time we get to see David Tennant be the Doctor for the whole episode with no post-regenerative trauma or body swap possession to distract. And wasn't he really rather marvellous? Just take the delight on seeing a real werewolf in full transformation, and again later when he and Rose take a moment to celebrate this in spite of their predicament. Or the strength when throwing on his glasses and declaring the library to be the best arsenal in the world. And the light moments too – "och aye" "no, don't do that" – played off well, coming naturally and unforced.

And, of course, there is Queen Victoria. Alex, who has just read Roy Jenkin's biography of Gladstone, was so cheered when she turned out to be a proper cow at the end. And of course, she sets up the Torchwood Institute. Explicitly, Torchwood House is a trap for a shape-changing alien set up by Prince Albert; and the Torchwood Institute is a trap for another shape-changing alien set up by Queen Vic.

Torchwood being rather more out in the open than last years Bad Wolf (nice nod to that as well, by the way) works better, I think, because we know this year where it is pointing and can add to – and play off – our expectations.

The Queen was played (by Pauline Collins) with charm and dignity, icy wit and a good about of steel. "The correct form of address is 'Your Majesty'," was brilliant. Pulling the trigger was even better. Yes, this was a Queen Empress who you believed could take down an assassin if she had to. People forget, I suspect, that Queen Victoria was no figurehead and considered herself absolute ruler of a quarter of the planet. That makes her a much less cuddly figure than last years "celebrity from history" Charles Dickens, no matter how much "we are not amused" larking about Rose and the Doctor thought they could get up to.

Oh, and did I mention the stunning werewolf? It is said that the Mill wanted to do better than the werewolf Professor Lupin from "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban". Do I really need to say that they succeeded? But also worth a mention is the pre-transformation wolf, doing the exposition thing to Rose, but such well written dialogue it was in no way clunky and, gosh, the villain actually has a cunning plan that makes a kind of sense. Lure the Queen to isolated castle. Bite her and possess her. Take over world. It's like Ghost Light, only somehow plausible. The Empire of the Wolf sounds terrific, it's almost a shame it died stillborn.

I hardly like to mention it, but there's a breed of Doctor Who fan (if I can use the word) who have had it in for Russell T Davies almost from before the word go. Never mind the fact that he is a genius, he didn't bring back Paul McGann / the Frock Coat / the Loom of Rassilon's Mouse etc. (delete according to taste.) Eager to fall on any plot hole, or any fall in the ratings, as proof that he has "Ruined Doctor Who For Everyone ™" with his "Gay Agenda ™" and "Soap Opera ™" scripts.

Just six words: Don't you think they're completely nuts?

This was Doctor Who right at the top of its game. Again, I'm reminded of the New Adventures where the series felt like a series of, not-so-much peaks and troughs but more peaks with only slightly less high averages in between. This was a peak.

Next week: Sarah Jane Smith. And company.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Day 1935: WikiQueen


In celebration of this special day, here is the Wikimeme represented on behalf of Mrs Her Britannic Majesty, Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Chief Perkin of the Pixie People of Patagonia, Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe, Order of Merit, Order of the Garter, Order of the Elephant (I’m not making this up!), Defender of the Faith, Gawdblessyew Ma'am.

On this day in history

Three events:

1. 753 BC: Romulus founds Rome. Remus helps.

2. 1944: Women in France get the VOTE. IRONICALLY.

3. 1994: The first planet OUTSIDE the Solar System is discovered by Polish astromoner Aleksander Wolszczan.

Two famous birthdays:

1. Mr James Newell Osterberg Jr. better known as IGGY POP who is in an episode of STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE as an ALIEN. No really.

2. Mr GERALD FLOOD who in in an episode of DOCTOR WHO as a ROBOT KING JOHN. I'm not kidding.

And a famous death
1. King HENRY TULIP, who oddly enough was also in Daddy Richard's Wikimeme.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Little Old Lady!

PS: Very lots of THANK YOUS to everyone who has been SO NICE about yesterday’s diary.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Day 1934: Blimey! It's the Upstairs Neighbour!


Daddy Alex had already conked out, and Daddy Richard was on his way to bed last night and I was watching NEWSNIGHT, like I do sometimes, but paint me stripy and call me a zebra if I didn't see the lady who lives upstairs, on the TELLY!

Unfortunately, she was in the audience for another turn by second-rate STAGE MAGICIAN Frank Luntz, who was doing his "AMAZING" mind reader act again.

So I have been upstairs to ask her what it was like!

The first thing I learned was that everyone there arrived with pretty strong opinions, angry about being let down by the government, whether it was over crime or education or the health service. Mr Blair and Mr Frown were going to be on a hiding to nothing with this audience right from the start.

In spite of what you might have seen on the telly, the audience was not REALLY that positive for Mr Balloon. They were open minded, and willing to listen to what he might have to say, but so far they don’t know what to make of him as he hasn’t got any policies. What they wanted to say was that they were being shown Mr Balloon at the start of his career – and they all remembered how they had felt much the same about Mr Blair back at the start of his career. AND they remembered how BETRAYED by Mr Blair they feel now. So they were wary of him as well as open to him. Though on the whole they were pretty certain that he WAS a TRUE BLUE Conservatory. Just like Mr Blair.

The NEWSNIGHT piece kept SUSPICIOUSLY QUIET about Mr the Merciless. But there in the room, apparently he got a very strong response: he was very much the man that the people in the studio TRUSTED, and he was the man they thought would be BEST for LOCAL GOVERNMENT (not, I have to say, for NATIONAL government, where they felt – interestingly – that they wanted more of a “PARTY” politician). They also felt that the LIBERAL DEMOCRATS were the party most trusted to get things sorted out locally.

I hope I have represented their views properly.

I think that this is all very interesting because it shows that NEWSNIGHT put QUITE a different SPIN on what they really said.

Oh, I forgot to ask her: would it make a difference if she knew that Mr Luntz was at University with Mr Balloon and his little gang of friends?

For those of you who don't know, Mr Luntz CLAIMS to be an expert in polling opinions and then "AMAZINGLY" convinces the audience that they THINK that his old university CHUM Mr Balloon is best. Last year he pulled off this trick at the Conservatory Party Leader contest and along with Mr Nick Mate-of-Dave Robinson helped to get Mr Balloon his job.

Mr Luntz is a bit of a DODGY GEEZER as these people have noticed.

His TECHNIQUE involves playing clips from the TELLY to the audience and giving them a KNOB to twist.

At the risk of upsetting the MAGIC CIRCLE, I will now tell you about the FIVE rather obvious ways that he can TRICK them.

Number One:
He gets to choose the audience.

The people in the studio are described as "SWING voters", but that COULD mean that they are voters who swing between Conservatory and one of the other parties.

Something like between SIXTY and SEVENTY percent of people WON'T consider voting for OPUS DAVE – they prefer to choose between the Labour and the Liberal Democrats or one of the other parties like the Nationalists or the Greens (NOT Mr Balloon's Blue-Greens). And they are all KEPT OUT by Mr Luntz's TECHNIQUE.

So, he could actually pick an audience with a subtle Conservatory bias and still describe it in a way that sounds (to coin a phrase) FAIR and BALANCED.

Number Two:
He gets to choose which clips to play.

Oddly enough if you play the audience ten minutes of MR FROWN droning on about exponential growth in targets for widget straightening, then the audience is going to start thinking that MR FROWN is a bit BORING. If you follow that with Mr Balloon getting lots of applause for making one of his snappy speeches about how he likes NICE things then the audience will quickly feel more positive about him.

Number Three:
He gets to choose which bits are seen by up people watching the telly.

If he shows the audience in the studio a ten MINUTE selection of clips, but then only picks out ten SECONDS to broadcast on NEWSNIGHT then it is EASY to pick and choose the bits that make it LOOK like Mr Balloon is getting the popular response and Mr Blair is going down the plughole or Mr the Merciless is flat in the middle.

(You can see this from the fact that the clip we saw of Mr Balloon was of him getting APPLAUSE and at that point the lines were going up. Well DUR! Speeches are written so that the audience response goes UP at the points were you're meant to clap!)

Number Four:
He controls the lines that appear on the screen.

The lines on the screen are SUPPOSED to represent the responses that he is getting from the studio audience TWISTING their KNOBS. But how do we KNOW that their KNOBS are connected up to anything at all? And even if they ARE, it is not difficult to FAKE the line going UP and this ENCOURAGES the audience to dial UP or to FAKE the line going DOWN and this ENCOURAGES the audience to dial DOWN. People LIKE going with the flow: if the MOOD seems to be "this is BAD" then people start to AGREE that it is bad and will start to say so. Even if the line is FAKE to begin with, people can remember that they AGREED with it afterwards.

(Pollsters see this after ELECTIONS: more people will SAY that they voted for the WINNER than actually DID vote for the winner because people like to be IN with the CROWD, especially the WINNING crowd.)

Number Five:
He gets to ask the questions afterwards.

At the end of Mr Frown's go, he can say "Oooh, you all seem to find Mr Frown very BORING – why do you find Mr Frown BORING?" This means that people are ALREADY thinking in terms of how they JUSTIFY saying that Mr Frown is BORING. People who DON'T think he was boring are more likely to keep quiet because the MOOD of the room is against them and they don't want to stick their neck out. So it LOOKS like the whole room is AGAINST Mr Frown. (And if anyone says anything positive, then Mr Luntz can edit it out before it goes to telly.)

Then he can ask: "Now, the response to Mr Balloon was REALLY AMAZINGLY POSITIVE – why are you so positive about Mr Balloon?" And the people who can think of positive things will answer with those positive things. It is like being back at school and KNOWING THE ANSWERS: it gives you a GOOD FEELING to tell teacher what he wants to hear.

He also uses some more SUBTLE psychological tricks.

In his Tory-leader bit last year, he had photos of the five candidates up on a board at the front, but a bit to the right of the middle where the telly was. I think it was Malcom Rifkind on his own at the top, then on the first line were Mr Balloon on the left and Mr Davis David on the right and then Fatty Clarke and Fantastic Doctor Fox on the bottom. This may sound like a really SILLY thing, but it is actually a basic PR TRICK: the first one you look at is Mr Balloon and you associate him with left, nearer the centre, and first. Mr Davis David then looks like the man who is right, extreme, and second. Mr Rifkind is isolated and also looking down on you, the others are losers because they are second rank. It is a GIMMICK that PR people use to PRIME their audience: it doesn't work on it's own but it is there to make them EASIER to LEAD.

For last night's piece, the walls of his studio were decorated with portraits of the party leaders in a variety of different colours: I saw Mr the Merciless in Red and Blue, for instance. The aim here is to BREAK UP the usual party/colour associations so that it EMPHASISES the "they're all the same" feeling in people's heads. AND probably to undermine the Labour's new "Dave the Chameleon" campaign by making ALL of the leaders be chameleons too.

His last question was "I'm just a dumb American: you all seem pretty angry about a lot of issues but you re-elected this government last year. Why did you do that?"

You can tell he is being DOUBLE CLEVER here because he claims he is being DUMB!

This is CLEVER (in the sense of INSIDIOUS!) as it puts the studio people on the back foot: it makes them look for SOMEONE ELSE to BLAME for the things that they are cross about (because otherwise it's THEIR OWN fault!)

So you could pretty much guarantee (which is JUST the way that a STAGE MAGICIAN does MIND READING) what they will say: "We hadn't got a proper choice" and "All the parties are the same."

This is all to ADD to the TRICK of making people think that Mr Balloon is NEW and therefore DIFFERENT, even if it is the ONLY difference, while everyone else is OLD and part of the SAME old failures.

Add to that the TWIST that you are SAFE to vote Conservatory because the other parties are not so different. This is just the same as Mr Balloon's current "Vote Blue Feel Green" (translation: "be selfish; I'll cover for you") campaign to make people THINK voting Balloon is OK.

Of course this is a GREAT BIG FIB.

In the first place, we did NOT re-elect this government last year: they ONLY got 35% of your votes. But the SYSTEM is RIGGED so that Mr Blair STILL got a majority that he DOES NOT DESERVE.

(It is in the interest of Mr Blair AND Mr Balloon to keep the RIGGED SYSTEM because otherwise they might have to listen to what PEOPLE actually WANT, rather than using FOCUS GROUPS like Mr Luntz's little trick gathering!)

And in the second place, the parties REALLY ARE NOT that similar.

(Although, to be FAIR, Mr Balloon has NO POLICIES at the moment, so he MIGHT be identical to Mr Blair or he MIGHT be identical to GENGHIS KHAN, he just wont tell us. Which is NOT VERY HONEST, really, if you THINK about it.)

If you want a party that will try to control everything, to fix everything, govern from the centre, do everything for you, nanny you from cradle to grave so long as you fill in all the right forms and feed all of your life into an INSANE COMPUTER in exchange for a bit of plastic card and don't mind paying huge taxes to be spent on checking targets (and they might also bomb a Middle Eastern country or two, but don't mind that as they won't ever ask you for a mandate to do it) then you have Mr Blair's gang.

If you want a party that will try to give you the best start in life with free education to university level and the most dignity in old age with a proper pension and free care when you need it but then expects you to take some responsibility for the environment and for your local services because they will hand power down to the local level and want to change the system so that it isn't rigged in anyone's favour (even their own) then you can vote for Mr the Merciless and the Liberal Democrats.

Or if you want a party that, er, employs a STAGE MAGICIAN, well I suppose you've got Mr Balloon

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Day 1933: DON'T beam me up, Scotty!


Thank you to Mr Joe for showing me this long wibble about TELEPORTATION, which is Greek for the carrying of televisions. My fluffy brain aches now!

It seems to me, though I AM only a fluffy elephant, that the way that STAR TREK's transporter works is VERY DANGEROUS. It looks to me like it is just one of their copy-stuff-machines [R: replicators] with a PHASER GUN stuck to the business end.

So poor old Mr Spock is SHOT DEAD every time he goes down to the orange planet and a new copy of him is made at the other end!

Because the new copy has all of Mr Spock's MEMORIES up to the point where HE GOT SHOT! Then copy Mr Spock does not realise that he is only a copy. But the original is still a pile of SMOULDERING ASHES waiting for Mr Scotty to dust the transporter pads!

If you think this does not work like this, then think about the episode where the transporter – which should properly be called the DISINTEGRATOR-COPIER-KILLER MACHINE!! – produced TWO Captain Quirks for the price of one. That is a special offer that even ASDA don't do! Where does the second Captain Quirk come from if the machine is not a COPIER???

There is ALSO an episode in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (or the REALLY BORING ONE as I call it) where DOCTOR PULASKI (who was MUCH better than Doctor Beverly Spaniel) gets REALLY OLD by mistake, but they use the DISINTEGRATOR-COPIER-KILLER MACHINE to make her young again. If it wasn't LETHAL this would be instant IMMORTALITY for everyone in the Federation! Just remember to keep your old hair! Clearly the only way this can work is if it makes a BRAND NEW Doctor Pulaski and just makes her THINK she is the same as the (way) old one. Who is now fried as well as old.

Anyway, the WHOLE principle behind the Star Trek transporter is IMPOSSIBLE because of QUANTUM MECHANICS. Actually, if you want to see my Daddy Richard go a REALLY funny colour, just say "Heisenberg Compensators" to him!

[R: you might as well talk about the "switch off physics" button froth, foam, gnash etc]

A much safer way to travel would be to use WORMHOLES. Not ones made in the ground by actual WORMS (though you can if you want too!) but bits of SPACE-TIME that are folded up like Chinese Origami or Swedish Self-Assembly Furniture. Essentially this means building a kind of tunnel or bridge through the fifth dimension (or HYPERSPACE) so that you have a short-cut from point A to point I.

Of course, in practice this tends to need spinning cylindrical black holes the length of the solar system. This is a BIT difficult as there are not many of those lying about the place. But like most things I expect that they will get smaller and cheaper once people start working on it. wormPOD nano will be all the rage one day, I BET!

I used to think that this was how the STARGATE on, erm, STARGATE worked, but they have talked about breaking you down into energy for the journey and putting you back together at the other end as well. Which makes it just a DISINTEGRATOR-COPIER-KILLER MACHINE which fires your copy through a wormhole.

A third way, avoiding all of that tedious mucking about in HYPERSPACE, would be to use a property of Quantum Mechanics called Quantum Entanglement. (This is NOT anything to do with Mr Blair and cash for peerages.) There is this thing where PARTICLES and ANTI-PARTICLES form pairs so that even if you separate them, if you affect one it also affects the other. Because there is REALLY only one set of information that describes the pair, then the second particle "knows" what happens to the first simultaneously and this does not break the famous rule that no information can travel faster than light (because no information has).

What you need to do is persuade all of the information that makes up YOU to stop being recorded in your particles and switch simultaneously to your quantum-entangled anti-particles and you will instantly be somewhere else. In fact there is a very small probability that this could happen to you anyway!

HOPEFULLY this does not involve killing you since it is almost exactly the same as your particles NOT deciding to suddenly move the information that is you to somewhere else and that happens ALL THE TIME.

However, you WOULD need a way of controlling QUANTUM PROBABILITY to make this work, and for that you will need a BRAMBLEWEENY 57 Sub-Meson Brain. And a REALLY strong cup of TEA.

Day 1932: I can sing a Rainbow


Colours seem to be very POPULAR with the politicians today.

In the MORNING, Mr Balloon was on the RADIO saying that if you want to vote BLUE you'll end up feeling GREEN (or something like that).

I have had a bit of a look at Mr Balloon's claim that his team are best at RECYCLING. (Real, environmental recycling, that is – not what Mr Frown keeps doing with Liberal Democrat Policies.)

I found this press cutting from the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (or DEATHRAY as it is sometimes called): clicksy

It looks like Mr Balloon does have some cause to be pleased with his team: six of the top ten are under Conservatory control, and another three are run by the Conservatories with support of Liberal Democrats or Independents.

Only one council in the top ten is run by someone else, and that is Liberal Democrat Harborough in the East Midlands, and they are also the most improved Council in England. Well done Harborough!

Looking further, though, I noticed that there is a list for Best Recyclers (not including COMPOSTING). And on that list, Mr Balloon does not do quite so well. Instead of nine there are only six Conservatory councils on that list, and rather than just one there are four Liberal Democrat led councils.

So, although Mr Balloon is probably right about his team being good at recycling, you need to watch out for when he is talking COMPOST!

I cannot pass on by without mentioning the LIST OF SHAME: the ten worst councils for recycling. I am VERY SORRY to have to report that there IS a Liberal Council on that list. Boo! In fact, Mr Balloon and Mr The Merciless should share equally in the shame because they both have the same number of teams on the list.

Of course both of them can be considerably less CHAGRINED than Mr Blair, who controls no less than six of the councils and is also stiffed for the three-party-control of the Wirral.

To be FAIR, the results may be more influenced by GEOGRAPHY than by who is in charge of the council. It is probably a LOT easier to meet your recycling targets in a nice leafy suburb peopled by the well to do than it is to persuade people to recycle in an urban hellhole ruled over by NEWTZILLA.

Anyway, later in the evening, the Labour were on the telly with their new advert for DAVE THE CHAMELEON.

Is Mr Blair opening a PET SHOP, perhaps? If so, he should remember that the PET SHOP BOYS have gone off him, what with him being bonkers in favour of I.D.IOT cards.

You have to admit, that Mr Balloon does leave himself A BIT open to this sort of criticism by having NO POLICIES and Dave the Chameleon is PRETTY FUNNY. If this was someone's comedy blog…

[R: don't look at me like that, my elephant]

…then it would be considered COOL and maybe even FROODY.

On the other fluffy foot, this is being produced by the people who are supposed to be RUNNING the COUNTRY! If you are the sort of UNDERGRADUATE who finds TELLYTUBBIES a bit too taxing, is GOVERNMENT really the best place to employ your talents?

Maybe you should go out and do some RECYCLING and then Mr Blair would not have so much to be ashamed of!

Day 1931: Happy Oyster


Today, Daddy Richard made us watch The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.

WHAT a WASTE of life THAT was!

To start with, I was VERY confused because I thought the big bad lion was the BADDIE!

Here is the evidence:

I am an ELEPHANT: Lions are BAD. Even the one at the start of the JAMES BOND films.

Peter and Susan were bullying Edmund: they might be posh, but they were still bad – they were on the Lion’s side. Lion bad.

Edmund met the White Witch and she gave him SWEETIES (even if they were YUCKY Turkish Delight). Lion. No sweeties. Bad.

Also, aren’t WHITE witches supposed to be the GOOD ones?

[A: Yes, but this is called ‘propaganda’.]

And the Lion was played by QUI GON JINN from STAR WARS: he thought it would be a good idea to let DARTH VADER be a JEDI and look at all the trouble THAT caused!

So on the whole I was a bit surprised that we were supposed to be SAD when Qui Gon Lion who we’d just met five minutes ago got himself killed by the White Witch.

Although I was even more surprised that that wasn’t the end. Then he went and played his get out of being dead card and the film went all LORD OF THE RINGS lite.

Actually, that was a REALLY unbelievable bit: the reason KING ARAGORN can whip the butts of fifty TROLLS is because he has been training to be a SUPER-HERO for, like, eighty years and also he wasn’t TWELVE!

Daddy Alex has explained to me that most of the things in the book are METAPHORS; that is, they are made up things to make you think of something else. So in the BOOK the METAPHOR battle is REALLY about Peter finding COURAGE, which is why if all happens OFF.

The main problem it turns out is that this film is missing the most IMPORTANT character of all: the narrator, CS LEWIS himself! The book is written in a much more CHATTY style. It is like a COSY story told to you by a FAVOURITE UNCLE.

(No, NOT the one with the WERTHER’S ORIGINALS: he’s CREEPY!)

This is why we do not care whether Qui Gon Lion gets the chop: in the BOOK, the narrator has lovingly built up a PRESENCE for him while he is still off-stage by telling us lots of lovely things about him and telling us how even his name makes the good people (and/or Peter and Susan) feel WARM AND FLUFFY inside.

Daddy Alex mutters the word “insidious”. But also “comforting”.

Narnia is NOT about some great sweeping epic goodies versus horrible-mutant-orc baddies, no matter how many sweeping HELICOPTER shots over the landscape the director throws at you. Sweeping HELICOPTER shots are GOOD for huge historical narrative, but TERRIBLE for this sort of PERSONAL journey and only EMPHASISE that you are missing the COMFY narrator.

Without “Cuddly Uncle Clive” this FILM turns into a horribly PO-FACED attempt to do Tolkien on the CHEAP.


Day 1930: Scary Story


I have heard in the news from Mrs MARGARET HEDGEHOG, Barking MP and Queen Mum lookee-likee. She is saying that some of the people who used to vote for HER have been TEMPTED by the BNP. (The BNP are the BRITISH NASTY PARTY, but do not be confused this is nothing to do with Mr Balloon.)

The media LOVE this, because for them the BNP are like having our very own bunch of the KU KLUX KLAN rather than a bunch of SAD LOSERS who have nothing to say but:

"It's {insert who we hate today here}'s fault".

The papers can then re-run all their exciting stories about GOOSE-STEPPING Nazis and how PLUCKY BRITAIN (© all newspapers) doesn't stand for THAT KIND OF THING. Oooh, aren't they NASTY, but don't the uniforms look kind of KINKY (full story with pictures pages 2-12).

The real story, though, is that the Labour are ALWAYS pulling this stunt. Whenever the Labour think that they are in trouble in elections they play their own version of the race card: "ooo-OOO-ooo vote for us of the HAIRY HOB-GOBLINS will come and get you/your family/your sort". Which, if you THINK about it, is JUST as much putting people into a box labelled by their COLOUR.

Of course, all that they ever achieve is that they give the BNP a shot in the arm of free publicity. Of course, that is part of the plan – if they extra publicity means that BNPeople are elected then the Labour can say "we were right! We warned you and you didn't listen" and then they get a big warm rush of support at the next election, to GET THEM OUT (even though it was really the Labour's fault they got in in the first place!).

The Labour and the BNP actually have the SAME problem. (No, not Mr Blair this time.) It is that NEITHER of them can think of a positive reason to vote for them. So instead, BOTH of them come up with someone SCARY who is supposed to be SO FRIGHTENING that you have to vote for them because NO ONE else will come and SAVE YOU.

REALLY, you should be able to ask people to vote for you because of the GOOD THINGS that you stand for, things like: working hard for the community; listening to people (yes, ALL of the people, even those who spoil their nice cars by sticking UNION JACKS to the radio aerials); getting things sorted (like taking the poor dead cars away to the dear car cemetery); or helping to clean things up with better RECYCLING and GREEN SPACES.

You should not need to blame other people. You should not need to be SCARY!

Of course, it does not help that the Labour have been doing the BNP's job for them by trying to make out that POOR HOMELESS PEOPLE (who only want to come here so they won't be MURDERED by their OWN governments and/or Mr Blair's friends in the US army) are some kind of RAMPAGING GANG of killer zombies.

It suits Mr Blair down to the ground to have people be scared of immigrants and refugees (even though we live in the richest safest nicest country in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD!). The More SCARED you people are, the STUPIDER you seem to get – almost stupid enough to believe some of the GUFF that Mr Blair and Mrs Hedgehog come out with!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Day 1929: DOCTOR WHO: New Earth


Hooray, the New series of DOCTOR WHO is here at last. This means that my Daddies will stop fretting about it and buying lots of copies of the RadioTimes and can watch it instead.

Here is Daddy Richard’s first review:

Future generations will, probably, view David Tennant’s first season as beginning with “The Christmas Invasion” and more happily watch this as a comfortable second episode, bridging to the greater thrills that we are promised next week. Alright, they’ll call it a filler. But this year “New Earth” bears a heavier burden that future viewers may not expect of it as it is the 2006 season opener. Charlie Brooker in the Guardian speaks of the dangers of anticipation. My thought is that people will be harsher critics for just this reason, and in the future it will be ripe for that favourite verb of the Doctor Who fan: re-evaluation.

Because if it has a fault it’s that it’s not total genius. So, overlooking that, there are lots of good things here: first thing to notice – the Doctor solves the problem himself. That may not sound much, but I suspect that it means someone has listened to the critics of the first season and the ninth Doctor’s back-seat-driver approach.

Second, isn’t Billie Piper cracking as the Lady Cassandra. “It’s like living inside a bouncy castle.” Dialogue and character are Russell’s great strengths but doesn’t Billie just shine. In fact, she’s rather better than David Tennant. It was great to have wicked Lady Cassandra back, and I’m rather sad to see her passing. Mind you, we had that last year too, so you never know…

And the army of plague zombies, one touch and you’re dead, were creepy and yet sympathetic as well, deadly just because they’ve never been hugged, marvellously Doctor Who in concept. And it brings us back to the Doctor’s solution: cure rather than kill.

We do have a bit of the (sadly) usual Russell T Davies glossing over the hard details. If the Sisters of Plenitude have cured every know disease, why do they still have their plague-zombie-powered machine; if they haven’t cured every disease, then how is the Doctor able to do so using a cocktail of their serums?

[A simple fig leaf occurred to me: if the Doctor had given the solution a stir with his finger and so added a hint of Time Lord DNA – wink to Rose/Cassandra – and so his own regenerative powers help to power his instant magic cure.]

The presence of the Face of Boe was, unfortunately, a bit anti-climactic. Not just that we copped out of delivering the “great secret” that he’s promised to impart, but his telepathic voice was something of a sci-fi cliché: I’d have preferred maybe some subtitles over an alien arpeggio (the nun earlier spoke of his “singing”).

And for a story called “New Earth” it wasn’t very about New Earth: you could have made the planet itself a dark honey-trap, or perhaps done a piece on nostalgia. Still New New York looked gorgeous, proof that the BBC can do George Lucas on one millionth of the budget and that at least someone watched Futurama.

As with all superior Doctor Who, there is a more complex moral message to think about inside the comic run-around. The Sisters of Plenitude here are BAD because their miracle medicine is based on experimenting on living people. On the surface, this is the, if not original, at least very Doctor Who message: if the happiness of many depends only on the suffering of a few IT IS STILL WRONG. A Liberal, and not very Socialist message, at that.

However, thinking deeper about this, the idea seems to be that it is BAD to conduct experiments on living beings (or at least certainly intelligent ones). The irony, then is that this seems to be exactly what the Sisters were trying to avoid: their machine is set up to use clone tissue to generate human simulacra on which they can experiment without harming any “real” people. The fact that the simulacra are in fact intelligent appears to be cock-up rather than conspiracy. The evil of which the Sisters are guilty is that they didn’t check properly that their creations were not sentient, in spite of increasing evidence. That’s still pretty bad, but it’s bad in a different and more complicated way that necessarily comes across in the episode.

[Incidentally, my first guess was almost the exact opposite of the way it turned out – I thought that the Sisters were growing clones of their patients and then using the mind graft machine to put the dying victims mind into the new healthy clone body: the twist being that the machine copies minds rather than transfers them, so that the originals were still suffering and dying in the huge green vaults while a copy was bouncing around in their place. This would have tied nicely to Cassandra’s story too, as she would have come to realise that she too was only a copy and that she’d accidentally let her “real” self die without even noticing.]

Anyway, this reminds me of the Virgin New Adventures: when this is “average” is it is only because the series has set the target of “good” so very, very high already.

Next week: a werewolf and, more terrifyingly, Queen Victoria!

Day 1928: Mr Balloon’s Gone Very Quiet


Speaking of missing links, we haven’t heard from Mr Balloon since he said he was going faster, broader, deeper.

This is probably because he has said he has a mountain to climb and has gone off to climb it.

Someone probably needs to tell him that you do not climb mountains by going faster, broader, deeper.

Usually, it is better to go higher.

Day 1927: Missing Links


Today we learned that scientists have dug up some bones that they think is the last missing link in the family tree of HUMAN BEINGS. This is jolly good news as maybe it will stop the CREATIONIST TWITS from talking about the missing link as though it proved that people were not descended from monkeys.

Of course, the really interesting thing is that there is not really any such things as “missing links” because this assumes that you have one species and then you have the next and they are completely separate. This is often expressed as “which came first, the CHICKEN or the DINOSAUR EGG?”

But REALLY each species sort of blurs into the next one. You can look at monkeys from a million years ago and easily say that they are from a different species to people. But if you took someone from now in a time machine back in time a thousand years, then you would expect that they could get out and happily get married to anyone from a thousand years ago (give or take having to learn ye olde Englyshe). Then if you took seomone from a thousand years ago back to two thousand years ago, you would also expect them to be able to get happily married to anyone that they met then. Then take someone from two thousand years ago and take them back to four thousand years ago… and so on and so on.

As you go further back, you would probably realise that the passengers that you are picking up and dropping off are getting a bit PRIMITIVE and probably a bit SMELLY. But they are still quite happily able to get together in a BIBLICAL sense with people from a thousand years earlier. In fact after you have done this about a hundred and fifty times, then the people you are ferrying in your time machine stop being modern human people (called homo sapiens by scientists or saps by The Tomorrow People) altogether!

But there is never a definite point where the species change, and never a point where the people from a thousand years later are “incompatible” even if you realise that YOU would be incompatible with your latest passenger… probably because they would rather eat the loo roll than use the toilet properly!

I guess what I’m actually saying that there ARE no missing links, and there NEVER WERE!

Day 1926: Zimbabwe


Daddy Alex often asks me “Are you an African Elephant or an Indian Elephant, Millennium?” and I have to remind him that you can tell an Elephant by his EARS: if he has BIG ears he is an AFRICAN elephant; if he has SMALL ears he is an INDIAN elephant. I have PLUSH ears because I am a FLUFFY elephant. This ought to be EASY to remember!

Anyway, all this is by way of saying I hope that if Mr Blair’s stormtroopers catch me they are NOT going to deport me to Africa.

However, the odds do not look good as this week, Mr CHARLES CLARKE, Mr Blair’s FOGHORN in the Home Office has won in the court to send some poor people back to ZIMBABWE even though they have the DEATH PENALTY for VISITING ENGLAND there.

This does NOT seem very good.

After World War Part Two was over, the UNITED NATIONS was set up and they agreed an INTERNATIONAL agreement called the CONVENTION ON REFUGEES. This says, basically, if someone has had to run away from their own country because they are in fear of being PICKLED LIKE A HEWWING or otherwise DONE OVER by the local “ministry of justice” then they should be looked after by OTHER countries.

(This is because people SHOULD have done that during and before World War Part Two, and they didn’t and so rather a lot of people got MURDERED!)

Nowadays, Mr Blair’s government wishes that they had never been saddled with the obligation to look after PEOPLE IN NEED! And they are doing everything they can to PUT A STOP to people in need getting here. They won’t let you in without a passport and they say you are not in danger if you do have a passport. They fine aeroplanes and lorries that carry people into the country and they force refugees into the hands of PEOPLE SMUGGLERS and then say people are BAD for using the people smugglers!

This is a SHAME for two very important reasons.

First, Britain used to have a very good reputation for being a place where HUMAN RIGHTS and JUSTICE were very important and we could be PROUD that people WANTED to come here. This is the sort of reputation that Mr Blair has lost by INVADING random Middle Eastern countries on the say so of a pet monkey.

Second, people do not lightly move all the way around the world and those who do are pretty HIGHLY MOTIVATED and usually the well educated middle class (i.e. what DICTATORS call political troublemakers!). These are the sort of people who work hard if they were given the opportunity and contribute to a community that welcomes them. This makes it DOUBLE STUPID that Mr Blair WON’T let them work but instead gives them silly vouchers for not enough money to feed a GERBIL let alone a persecuted person and STILL cost more to run than giving them a living amount in proper money would!

Zimbabwe is NOT A VERY NICE PLACE to live.

Also, it is run by their own version of Mr Blair, so you can see that people would rather not live there. We should not be punishing people because they happen to live in a nasty place, especially if they only want to come here to make a living.

Mr Blair talks a lot about RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES. Someone needs to point out to him that HE has RESPONSIBILITIES too – and he should stop trying to WRIGGLE OUT OF THEM!

Day 1925: Italian Elections


This is a story about the Italian Elections which have just taken place between a friend of Mr Blair’s called SILVIO BERLUSCONI and someone rather less dangerously exciting called ROMANO PRODI whose name is funny enough that I will leave it up to you to make up your own joke.

It seems that Mr Prodi won the election by a very narrow margin. However, since Mr Berlusconi made the rules this means that Mr Prodi gets lots of bonus seats. This is NOT called Proportional Representation, it is called HOIST by your own PETARD.

Unfortunately, Mr Berlusconi is NOT a very good loser and has said that he has heard what the people have to say and he does not believe a word of it. He is therefore going to stay Prime Minister and has locked himself into the loo in the Prime Minister of Italy’s house and isn’t coming out.

To be FAIR, he has said that he does not believe the election because he thinks that there were “irregularities” in the election proceedings. The BBC asked the observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and they said “YES, Mr Berlusconi is RIGHT! There WERE irregularities!”

The first thing was that the change to the electoral system was only introduced by the governing party in December last year and that is not enough time for the opposition parties to get ready to fight an election under the new system, so that favours the governing FORZA ITALIA party!

And then, the changes were only passed by a simple majority in the Italian legislature, when it would be preferred to be passed with a two-thirds majority to indicate that opposition parties are in proper agreement with the changes that the governing FORZA ITALIA party want to make.

Thirdly, there was the matter of television coverage, that although the free television adverts for all the parties were fair and as agreed under the new system, the current affairs and news coverage of the major Italian broadcasters (prop. Sr Silvio Berlusconi, no relation. Well, not quite no relation.) might have favoured the governing FORZA ITALIA party rather a bit.

So it is hardly fair that Mr Berlusconi should lose just because FORZA ITALIA were trying to cheat!


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Day 1924: David Lloyd George


Last night on the TELLY, my Daddies came across a thing on BBC4 about Mr LLOYD GEORGE who was PRIME MINISTER during World War Part One and for a bit afterwards. He is not to be confused with Mr HAROLD LLOYD even though he too appears in black and white films and has a funny walk. Also, it was the other one who had the moustache.

This programme was a personal essay for television by the newsreader Mr Huw Edwards, a self-confessed fan of Mr Lloyd George. This meant that it concentrated a lot on the GOOD bits and tended to forget about the BAD bits, or at least to skip over them and then afterwards refer back and say, like, "well, obviously some people think he STABBED Squiffy Asquith IN THE BACK but Asquith had had it anyway. It was a MERCY KILLING!"

(Fortunately, Daddy Alex was too busy with his new DALEK to have a total conniption.)

Nevertheless, it was quite a GOOD thing. It is not very often that you hear a newsperson being NICE about a politician. (Even one who has been dead for sixty years!) Normally Mr HUMPY or Mr PAXO (the ROOSTER BOOSTER) only want to make politicians look rotten. It is quite encouraging to have Mr Huw say that they he thought someone was GOOD!

He thought that it was a SHAME that most people have forgotten Mr Lloyd George's contribution to the nation – particularly when compared to the LAUDED memory of Sir WINNIE the CHURCHILL (Greatest Britain of All Time TM).

Mr Huw spoke of how Mr Lloyd George transformed the nation's approach to old age, infirmity and unemployment. He overturned the VICTORIAN attitude of self-reliance and introduced the idea that the STATE could, indeed should intervene with it greater powers to support people when they were laid low. With his PEOPLE’S BUDGET of 1909 and later with the NATIONAL INSURANCE ACT of 1911 Mr Lloyd George very much laid the foundations of the WELFARE STATE.

Because of this Mr Lloyd George was INCREDIBLY popular with the people, in much the same way that Mr Blair ISN'T. So much so that when he took over as Prime Minister in the bad bit of World War Part One everyone was actually cheered up and this may have helped to turn the tide of the war. Or at least helped plucky Britain hang on until Kaiser Wilhelm sank enough of their ships that America noticed there was a major war going on in Europe.

Mr Lloyd George's other achievements include Mr Blair's VERY FAVOURITEST piece of legislation (not written by himself and/or his master Darth Cheney) namely THE PARLIAMENT ACT of 1911 which means that my chums in the House of Lords club cannot block legislation passed by the House of Commons only revise it and delay it for up to a year (LESS if Mr Balloon CAVES IN as usual!).

And also the REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT of 1918 which let POOR people vote and even LADIES (although not if they were under thirty or without property!). This was a BIG step towards Britain becoming a proper democracy. One day, you will get there if you PERSEVERE!

Mr Huw also told us that Mr Lloyd George was slightly strange in that he had TWO wives (at the same time): one to take away with him and one to keep at home for BEST. However, I have TWO DADDIES and frankly how people maximise their WORK/LIFE balance is no business of mine so long as no one gets hurt!

Looking to the bad side for a bit, Mr Huw then said that one of Mr Lloyd George's biggest mistakes was going to see ADOLF HITLER in 1936. Well, to BE FAIR, it was 1936 and not everybody had realised Mr Hitler was an EVIL NUTTER by that point. The Daily Mail took another FIVE years to work it out – and we were at WAR for two of those!

People say that Mr Lloyd George's other biggest mistake was to flog off loads of peerages to people who gave him a big pile of dosh, a bit like Mr Balloon's new peers, apparently. However, you have to REMEMBER that in the first place he had total contempt for the House of Lords and thought of this as people paying him to let them sit in a big red leather prison for VANITY and in the second place by that point he HAD been sitting with a bunch of CONSERVATORIES for quite a long time and so was probably getting very CONFUSED.

It all came to an end in 1922 when the Conservatories decided that they had had enough of Mr Lloyd George and BETRAYED him. This is why the Conservatories were run by the 1922 committee and it was the beginning of the MODERN CONSERVATORY PARTY – which ironically also ENDED in BETRAYAL in 1990.

[Incidentally, since the Conservatory Party is now really OVER, this is why Mr Balloon has been looking for a NEW NAME for his gang. The current "hot picks" are either "BLUE LABOUR" or "OPUS DAVE".]

In the end, Mr Huw hoped everyone would remember the good things as these were really more important than a few bad things that didn't have much effect.

The last word should go to MR FROWN who hopes very much to EMULATE Mr Lloyd George by being a MUCH RESPECTED Chancellor who KNIFES his doddering Prime Minister in the back in order to succeed him resulting in his party TEARING itself to pieces and LOSING POWER for a hundred years.


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Day 1923: Happy Birthday Emma!


Today has been the birthday of Daddy Richard’s sister.

We got her WILL YOUNG.

It won’t do her much good, as he not interested in girls, still that’s what she asked for!

Day 1922: Okay, I give in…


Here is Daddy Alex’s Wikimeme: clickity.

Here is Daddy Richard’s Wikimeme:

On this day in history

Three events:

1. The opening of THE DIET OF WORMS in 1521, leading to the creation of PROTESTANTISM

2. First publication of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE in 1813 leading to COLIN FIRTH as MR DARCY

3. Lord HUTTON of WHITE WASH’s inquiry into the DEATH OF DAVID KELLY publised its REPORT in 2004 leading to the resignation of MR BLAIR and… oh, well it SHOULD HAVE!

Two famous birthdays:

1. HENRY TULIP aka KING HENRY VII who beat RICHARD III in the Wars of the Roses to be KING OF ENGLAND

2. Mr FRODO who beat SAURON in The LORD of the RINGS

And a famous death (or rather seven)

1-7. The CREW of the US Space Shuttle CHALLENGER.

Never stop reaching for the stars.

Day 1921: Faster, Broader, Deeper


So, the Conservatory Conference is having a Party in MANCHESTER (or is that the other way around?)

They are having it there because they left it TOO LATE to book and all the SEASIDE places are now full for the EASTER HOLS. Still, Mr Balloon is putting a good face on it and saying that he wanted to come to Manchester all along.

My Daddies come from near Manchester and so they can spot that this is a fib, but it is only a small one, like “yes it’s lovely I always wanted fluffy ear warmers”.

Mr Balloon’s warm up man is called Mr FRANCIS MOD – he is the Conservatory Party Chariman and replaced Lord NORMAN ROCKER. Mr MOD says that they may not win the next General Election. Hooray!

Also on the radio was MR OILY LETWIN who is supposed to be in charge of the Conservatory’s policies. Unfortunately, he appears to have let them escape. Six months into their eighteen month “policy review” he says that they may not have any policies for a couple of years. Erm, MY maths may be a bit FLUFFY, but then I was never trying to be CHANCELLOR.

But the REAL news seems to be that the NEWSNIGHT show appears to have stopped being in love with Mr Balloon. They did a survey (probably by licking a finger and hoding it up to the wind) that says that the Conservatories might actually LOSE seats in the local elections.

NEWSNIGHT sent their reporter Michael Crick to talk to Mr Balloon: Mr Balloon gave him the brush off. He did it better this week than last time – when he told him to, er, depart at haste – by making a joke of it. But it’s still probably not a good idea to try and take the Mickey out of Michael – he might be an annoying little terrier but he is a jolly TENACIOUS once he’s got a bee in his bonnet. Mr Balloon should just ask LORD ARCHER of FORD OPEN PRISON!

After that, Kirsty Waaaaaaark (the SNP leader) talked to Mr BOY GEORGE who had special permission to stay up late. You could tell he wanted to be in bed, though, because he was very cross-patchy.

Kirsty Waaaaaaark asked him: “Mr Boy George, how do respond to our survey that says you are going to lose seats in the local elections?”

Mr Boy George replied: “Kirsty, we’re here in Manchester to go Faster, Broader, Deeper.”

So Kirsty Waaaaaaark said: “Er, okay… but what about our survey? Would that be a DISASTER for the Conservatories, to lose seats?”

To which Mr Boy Gerorge responded: “Kirsty, the important thing is that we’re here in Manchester to go Faster, Broader, Deeper.”

Then Kirsty Waaaaaaark asked: “Moving on then… if Mr Balloon is against PUNCH & JUDY politics, what was that BUDGET respose all about then?”

And Mr Boy George said: “Remember, we are here in Manchester to go Faster, Broader, Deeper.”

So Kirsty Waaaaaaark said: “Riiiiiight… so in that case is calling UKIP nasty names not another example of PUNCH & JUDY politics.”

And Mr Boy George said: “We are in Manchester to go Faster, Broader, Deeper. Plus UKIP smell!”

At which point Kirsty Waaaaaaark said: “oh, go to bed!”

Day 1920: The Da Vinci Cod

…or “something fishy happened on the way to the publishers”


The High Court has discovered that Mr Dan Brown’s book “THE DA VINCI COD” was NOT a copy of an earlier book “THE HOLY COD and THE HOLY GRIPE, by DA VINCI”.

Neither of my Daddies has read the DA VINCI COD, on the advice of the sainted MR STEVEN FRY who said it was “bottom water of the first order”! However, Daddy Alex has read “THE HOLY COD and THE HOLY GRIPE” and says that it was “compelling but barking mad”!

Here is the PLOT: the man who started Christianity who was called JESUS (and NOT FATHER CHRISTMAS) was married to MARY CHRISTMAS (ho ho ho – that is an OLD joke but this IS a history book!) and there has been a plot among lots and lots of famous people like LEONARDO DA VINCI for thousands of years to keep this a secret.

In order to keep this secret hidden, the church has arranged for the DA VINCI COD to be made into a HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER movie staring TOM HANKS.

This is probably a CUNNING DOUBLE BLUFF. Or they think that if TOM HANKS is in it no one will go and watch it.

Anyway, the people who wrote “THE HOLY COD and THE HOLY GRIPE, by DA VINCI” are called Mr Leigh and Mr Baigent and they wanted their share of the POTS OF DOSH that have been heaped on Mr Dan Brown so they took him to court to say that he stole their story.

Now on the one fluffy foot, they were claiming that their book was NOT a MADE UP STORY but TRUE, in which case they shouldn’t really be saying that Mr Dan Brown stole their idea. Unless they want the REAL WORLD to sue them for knicking the idea from IT!

But on the other fluffy foot, Mr Dan Brown said that he had NEVER heard of Mr Baignet and Mr Leigh before they sued him – which would be a BIT more credible if he hadn’t made up a CHARACTER in his BOOK called LEIGH TEABING which is an ANAGRAM of “I DID IT: IT RIPPED OFF ALL THE IDEAS FROM “THE HOLY COD AND THE HOLY GRIPE”!”


Funnily enough, after the court had said he didn’t copy ideas, Mr Dan Brown said it was good that this meant that people could write books using other people’s ideas.

Still this story has a happy ending.

The books sales of “THE HOLY COD and THE HOLY GRIPE” have gone from 7,000 a year to 7,000 a WEEK, so Mr Leigh and Mr Teabing will no doubt be able to pay their lawyers the ONE MILLION POUNDS in legal fees!

Day 1919: Taxing


The 5th of April is the last day of the tax year.

Since my Daddy is an accountant he has told me about this and I DO NOT SEE why I should be the ONLY ONE who is BORED RIGID by it.

A long time ago, it used to be the case that EVERYONE had to pay their rents and taxes over to the KING or the local LORD or whatever version of MR FROWN they were saddled with at the time. And they had until the QUARTER DAYS to do this.

The QUARTER DAYS were (basicaly) MIDSUMMER’S DAY and MIDWINTERS’S DAY and the SPRING EQUINOX and the AUTUMN EQUINOX, which in practice meant: June the 24th (or Midsummer); September the 29th (also called MICHAELMAS – say “ooh!”); December 25th (guess!); and (and this is the BIGGIE and, as it happens, LADY DAY) March 25.

HOWEVER! In September 1752 Britain changed the calendar from the JULIAN calendar to the GREGORIAN calender (which keeps better time and give you leap years!). In order to catch up, they skipped out eleven days – people went to bed on September 2nd and when they woke up again it was September 14th.

And you thought YOU had it rough when the clocks went forward a fortnight ago!

Now, you won’t be remotely surprised to hear that SIR PIGBY JONES of the CBI immediately complained very loudly that this was horribly unfair on the hardwoking British businessman as they would have eleven less days in which to gouge their taxes out of their serfs.

So, and finally we get to the punchline, the King agreed to move the payment date back by eleven days from March 25th to – you guessed it – April 5th.

And a HAPPY NEW TAX YEAR to all of you at home.

Of course, what happened to those eleven days is another matter entirely!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Day 1918: Bonkers, Bladders and Balloons


It is BAD news in the polls today for Mr Balloon with the SHOCK news that he has been voted "worst-dressed man in Britain"!

(Oh, and also his Conservatory team seem to be doing worser in the opinion polls again.)

And then to make matters worse, he has gone and put his foot in it by calling the UKIP party people nasty names.

This seems very odd, as the ONLY policy that Mr Balloon actually HAS at the moment is to quit the European Peoples Party group in the European Parliament because they are not NUTTY enough and join the UKIPPERs on the Outer Fringes!

I suspect that Mr Balloon has done this DELIBERATELY so that the UKIPPERs will make a fuss, then people will think "Ah, that Mr Balloon – he isn't AS nutty as those boring old so-and-sos from UKIP!"

(ACTUALLY, I THINK that UKIP might be the British SLEEP party and their name is short for "yoU Kip". Certainly, droning on about Europe being BAAAAAD is very BORING and always put ME to sleep. I wonder if MR FROWN is in UKIP too?)

Maybe he is hoping that everyone will forget that he wrote the Conservatory's VERY nutty manifesto last year: we all know that HE wants to forget that.

I do not think that calling people names goes well with his "I'm So Nice" image, though.

In other news, SCIENTISTS say that they have found a way of growing BLADDERS in their laboratory, as this YUCKY PICTURE shows!

This is NOT NEWS.

Mr Blair has been making BACKBENCHERS in this way for YEARS.

Later on today, Mr Blair and Mr Balloon will be getting together in order to fix the loans for peerages party funding row.

Now call me OLD FASHIONED but doesn't this sound just a little bit like AL CAPONE and EAST SIDE GANG getting together to sort out all the racketeering in Chicago?

Mr Balloon said : "I am the only leader of a major political party that has actually come up with sensible proposals for reforming political party finance in this country and for cleaning it up"

Oooh, he is SUCH a FIBBER!!!!

Mr the Merciless said all this LAST MONTH and Mr Balloon is JUST COPYING!

Someone should check that Mr Balloon does with his MOBILE PHONE in EXAMS as well!!!

Day 1917: Local SOCA league


It is a good job that we did NOT try to go to MONGO, as it turns out that His Imperial Supremacy Grand Panjandrum HRH Sir Mr the Merciless was not at home.

Instead he is here in Britain, launching his campaign for total conquest the May local elections.

Local Elections OUGHT to be more important to people, because they are for the THINGS that you use MOST OFTEN. (After all, you want to use the PAVEMENT every day, but HOW OFTEN do you want a SMALL WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST????)

Unfortunatlely, people do not seem to see things that way. Because the local council deals with the everyday STUFF (read that as BORING!), then people do not think that they are that important and so do not pay proper attention to them. This means that even if Mr Blair and the Labour get SPIFFLICATED at the local elections they will just laugh it off.

On the other fluffy foot, it also means that people might vote for Mr Balloon just in order to stick one on Mr Blair. This means that he will probably do very well INDEED – and be very pleased with himself – even though he has not got any policies yet. In fact IRONICALLY, if he doesn't do VERY WELL INDEED, then it might look bad for Mr Balloon. Which is VERY confusing.

Meanwhile, I have found out where Mr Blair's stormtroopers went when they stopped hunting me down LIKE A DOG!!! Ahem. They are off playing SOCA.

Appaerntly this is to be like the American FBI and they will investigate X-Files like: do Aliens exist? where is the Loch Ness Monster? and how did Mr Blair make all those loans vanish?

In a funny way, the SOCA team are connected to the problem of local government.

If there is a PROBLEM that is big enough to make the NEWSPAPERS take notice, then it makes the GOVERNMENT in London want to take charge so that they can (if it works) take all the credit and look lovely OR (if it doesn't work – which is, lets face it, rather more LIKELY) then they can LOOK like they are doing something to fix it.

So this SOCA team is NOT really to make organised crime go away (because organised crime has got a bit of a bit bigger budget than Mr Blair's SOCA team) but to make exciting NEWS STORIES that will look good for Mr Blair and take some of the heat off him for the WAVE OF HYSTERICAL CRIME STORIES (copyright all newspages) that newspapers keep printing because they sell lots more papers even though it makes it look like Britain today is at the mercy of crime that is totally out of control rather than Britain today REALLY being one of the safest countries in all the world and in all of history.

Why is this like local governemt? Because big government has taken over all of the EXCITING bits so that they can LOOK like they are fixing the problems (or at least so that they can make it all look as LEAST BAD for them as they can).

On the plus side today, ROBIN HOOD is coming back.

Assuming that Mr Blair's SOCA team doesn't duff him up.

Day 1916: Sausage and Mash


We have gotten safely back to Earth.

I tried to persuade Flash Gladstone to clip a bit off of BIG BEN (like the SLITHEEN did last year in DOCTOR WHO) but he said "No!" because he got into enough trouble when he winged WEMBLEY STADIUM a couple of weeks ago.

No sooner do I get back than I discover that my Daddies have been inviting people to dinner in my absence! How rude is THAT!

Daddy Richard has been using MY recipe for SAUSAGES AND MASH, and if HE can use it, then so can you.

Here is what to do:

Buy some NICE SAUSAGES and MARIS PIPER potatoes. Use lots because this is yummy.

Start by chopping up the POTATOES. Chop them up QUITE SMALL and bung them all into a STAINLESS STEEL pan. Put water in the pan too, so that it covers the potatoes. Add a pinch of salt to help them boil.

Put the pan on the COOKER. Heat it up to that the water boils and then let it SIMMER. KEEP an eye on it – if it is too hot it will boil over and you will get an INCREDIBLE potato mess to try and clean off your cooker before Daddy comes back!

Put the SAUSAGES under the GRILL. You CAN fry them if you MUST, but this is already BAD ENOUGH for you with all the starch and butter in the MASH!

Remember to turn the sausages or they will turn to CHARCOAL on one side and taste YUCKY!

After about quarter of an hour, TEST the potatoes with a knife – the one you chopped them up with will do nicely. Spear one of the bits of potato. If it stick onto the knife then they aren't done yet. If it slides off then they are ready.

Drain off all the boiling water. Put the pan back onto the hot hob and leave it there for a bit in order to steam off the rest of the water. DON'T forget about it though, or the potatoes will BURN.

Take the pan off the hob again and add BUTTER, Daddy chops three or four thin slices off of the end of an ordinary sized block of butter. Stick the butter slices into the potatoes and let them melt for a moment or two.

Then get an ELECTRIC MIXER and PULVERISE those potatoes.

This is why you must use a stainless steel pan or your pan will be RUINED! The potatoes should smear into nice creamy mash quite quickly. DON'T do it for too long or you whisk lots of AIR into the mash which makes it taste all thin and watery.

Don't forget to do GRAVY!