...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Day 2249: Mr Frown applies for Citizenship


Mr Frown has decided that he should VOLUNTEER to do some COMMUNITY SERVICE before he can be a citizen of Middle England.

We all know that he is particularly PARANOID about being seen to be an ALIEN MIGRANT (well, Scottish, anyway), but this is still awfully generous of him. I hope that we will soon see him cleaning the graffiti off the back of the Treasury, or sweeping up the litter in Whitehall.

Today is an especially good day to volunteer, as the Conservatories have just proposed a special police force to keep him out of the country!

This seems to come back to playing politics with nationality.

Personally, I do not REALLY understand what all of this fuss about nationality is about anyway. The Scottish Nasty Party keep on insisting that all the woes of Scotland are down to the wicked English and everything would be much better if only they had independence. It seems to me that things in Scotland are actually BETTER now than they are in England – thanks in no small part to the Liberal Democrats having a share in government – and the Scottish Nasty Party do not know a good thing when they're onto one.

The people of Scotland have their own Parliament to determine Scottish issues, and also get to share in the government of the whole of Britain too. This seems to be an ABUNDANCE of self-determination, and for some strange reason one that the Scottish Nasty Party would like to TAKE AWAY!

Is it not better to all share in working together, rather than putting up unnecessary barriers? (And border posts!) As Liberal Democrat Mr Danny Alexander (NOT Daddy Alexander) says:

"Nationalism is about building up barriers between people – Liberalism is about breaking those barriers down."

Of course, if you DO want border posts then claymore-wielding Scots Nasty leader Mr Salmon and St George-flag-wrapped toff Mr Balloon are in agreement. Besides, Hadrian's Wall might give Mr Balloon's border cops a place to stand!

The Conservatories know that their great WEAKNESS is that they only really get support from a small bit of England these days. But because they are DEVIOUS and CLEVER, they think that they can turn this WEAKNESS into an ADVANTAGE by pretending that they are supporting the "poor put-upon English" against the "terrible tyranny of the Scots".

(This is VERY IRONIC, since it was the terrible tyranny of the Conservatories under Mrs Thatcher that made most Scots want to have their own parliament in the first place!)

In particular, the Conservatories think that they can make Mr Frown UNPOPULAR by trying to paint a picture of him as an UNLOVELY FOREIGN INTERLOPER, who can only gain power over the oppressed peoples of England with the unfair support of those Scottish MPs.

This is of course NONSENSE. Mr Frown is ALREADY unpopular, because he is Mr Stealth Tax and Mr I'll-Stick-with-Lord-Blairimort-even-though-I-hate-him-as-much-as-everyone-else.

Making an issue of his Scottishness is just playing dirty and dangerous!

Having said that, Mr Frown could really help himself by not playing into their TRAP. It is silly to try and pretend that you are more ENGLISH than SCOTTISH, Mr Frown – everyone can tell that you are a Scotsman as soon as you open you mouth.

Trying to pretend that you are some kind of turn-the-immigrants-away supporter of the British Nasty Party is EVEN WORSE. It only exaggerates the worst sort of prejudices. Remember that Britain is a GREAT COUNTRY that WELCOMES people from all over the world and greatly benefits from their contribution and commitment. The very fact they've made the effort to GET HERE should count very strongly in their favour, and that they are often times willing to do the hard work, poorly paid, that people born British take for granted but don't want to do for themselves! That's a COMMUNITY SERVICE already.

So stop it.

English people will be perfectly happy with a Scottish Prime Minister so long as you treat us all fairly. That means addressing people's concerns about the DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT – not saying that your favourite footballer is GAZZA.

Mr Balloon's idea of FIRST and SECOND CLASS MPs is a real STINKER. The Minister for Magical Accidents managed to make a right old pig's ear of REGIONAL GOVERNMENT and rather put people off the idea.

Perhaps there would be some mileage in having elected Mayors in towns and Sheriffs in the shires to bring local power back to the people.

Anyway, what people want to hear is that you are LISTENING to them, Mr Frown, not trying to IMPERSONATE them.

I would say that Mr Frown was his own WORST ENEMY... were it not for Lord Blairimort… and Mr Millstone… and Mr Safety Elephant Clarkeand Mr Millipede… and three-hundred-and-fifty other names I could mention if I had a directory of the Parliamentary Labour Party to my fluffy foot.

Day 2248: MILLENNIUM'S MANIFESTO: Green Power – It's The Future


Mr Tristan asks – with some justification – that I make sure that my plan is for PROPER green power, not just power stations painted green!

He is RIGHT.

We should stop being all DOOM MONGERS too. We do not want people to be put off!

The ability to take advantage of naturally renewed sources of energy shouldn't be a burden heaped upon us by the fear of climate change, but the most exciting new opportunity in a hundred years!

We should seize this opportunity right now to get a head start on THE industry of the new millennium.

We need to have a plan that will lead the world and transform the way we make our power.

This means both direct government investment in some of the really big projects, and also using the tax system to give people incentives to go green. Yes, that means skewing the market a bit – tilting the table towards our favoured outcome.

People can get too excited about things like CARBON CAPTURE – which is one way of painting our current power stations green – but that is really just burying the problem. Literally. It is a very typical solution – hide the problem somewhere a long way away and hope it disappears. Like building taller chimneys for clean air or dumping sewage further out at sea for clean beaches, it is a problem that will come back to haunt us in the end.

Instead, the twenty-first century is when it all has to change – the industrial revolution was the CARBON revolution, the age of power from coal and oil. We have to leave the carbon economy behind now, and start a new revolution, a HYDROGEN revolution, generating power no longer from finite resources but from elemental powers of the wind and the sun.


Britain is exceptionally lucky in that we are amply provided with open windy landscapes and seas well able to support extensive wind farming. Why should we even be thinking about buying in gas from Russia or nuclear power from France when we have it within our grasp to generate limitless free clean green electricity?

People's main complaints about wind power are that the wind doesn't always blow when you want the power; the machinery is expensive and not as efficient as comparable conventional power stations; and they are an ugly blight on the landscape.

In the first place, the wind is not nearly so unpredictable as people suggest, particularly at sea, and anyway the answer is obvious: storage.

Storage: 1 large scale - Hydroelectric
    Use off-peak electricity to pump water up to higher reservoirs where it can quickly be released to drive turbines to create extra power for additional demand at peak times, like Dinowig Power Station, Llanberis, Wales.

    These are huge scale projects, requiring government investment, but the rewards in jobs and energy security will last for lifetimes. There are plenty of mountains in Wales and Scotland where additional energy reservoirs could be built, with the additional benefit of seeing the government invest in the regions.
Storage: 2 small scale – Hydrogen Fuel Cells

    Use platforms floating out at sea, no longer to mine for oil but to gather wind energy and use it to split sea water into oxygen and hydrogen.

    Liquid Hydrogen is no more dangerous than the petrol that we use at the moment, and when used in a hydrogen fuel cell (or even just burnt) gives off clean water as the only by-product. (It doesn't even use up extra oxygen, because you released an equivalent amount of oxygen when you made the hydrogen in the first place!)

    Hydrogen powered cars already exist and even if they are not yet as efficient or convenient as conventional petrol driven ones it can only be a matter of time and investment. We need to make hydrogen refuelling available with the convenience of petrol refuelling so that people who want to buy hydrogen cars will have that choice. Once we have overcome the "barrier to entry" of the hydrogen car it will compete with the petrol car and then the market will drive the industry to produce better more efficient models.

    And remember, if we are making OUR OWN Hydrogen in the North Sea, then we aren't paying a fortune for our petrol to some barely post mediaeval Middle Eastern dictatorship in the middle of the Monkey-in-Chief's war zone.

As for the aesthetic argument… Anyone who has seen a field of majestic wind turbines turning on the horizon must realise that they are far more attractive than the alternative. No, I don't mean a nuclear power station, hideous dangerous concrete cubes though they are, I mean huddling around a candle in the dark because President Putin is in a bad mood with us this week and has turned the gas taps off.


While modern solar cells are so much more efficient that it makes investment in micro-generation a serious possibility for houses up and down the country, we have to admit we just don't get enough sunshine in Britain to make large scale solar generation worthwhile.

But there are large parts of the Earth where that isn't true, particularly Saharan regions of North Africa, and – especially if global warming carries on – much of Southern Europe.

Looking to create partnerships for investment in those countries where sunlight is abundant should be a top priority, enabling them to turn unproductive land into a valuable "cash crop" of electricity.

Work and trade have always been the Liberal answer to poverty around the world – and it works! Access to the markets of the European Union has transformed the likes of Spain and Greece not just into vibrant modern economies but also free, open, democratic societies, and is already having the same effects in Poland and the Baltic.

A fair trade means both sides benefit, and means that we have an investment in supporting each other. Rather than seeking to barricade out the people of Africa, we should be giving them the opportunity to make their own countries as rich and free as we are in Europe. Africa should be the richest continent in the world, not the poorest.

And diversifying our suppliers of energy has got to be good for security too – if one breaks down, then not only do we have a back-up but hopefully they can help each other too. And strengthening the ties of trade and support between different countries helps with another sort of security too.

Entrenched poverty is a breeding ground for the terrorists who plague our world; limited resources make it easy for dictatorships to control those resources. We can give people the opportunities to get themselves out of poverty, rather than relying on our handouts forever. It is the "give a man a fish/teach a man to fish" principle on a larger scale.


These should be by no means the limit of our green policies. These are "big ticket" items, eye-catching initiatives to get people excited and get people thinking, they are "what is a Liberal Democrat Government for" answers.

We should not forget all of the things that we can do personally and locally, from low-energy light bulbs to recycling to improving cycle paths.

Now go and put some GREEN ACTION on a Focus Leaflet!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Day 2246: Sir Mr the Merciless in Naughty Anniversary Shock!


I hope THAT got your attention!

I've been writing my diary for one whole year now.

I have learned many things.

I've learned the definition of the words VACUOUS and BALLOON, and the words MENDACIOUS and BLAIRIMORT. And IRONY.

And I've learned that the best way to get to the top of the Lib Dem Blogregator is to mention Sir Mr the Merciless AND/OR something smutty in your title.

(Daddy says I should look up the word CUNNING!)

Because what I REALLY want you to read is this:


I have said several times that we need to have some BETTER ANSWERS.

So, I have put all of my fluffy brainpower into coming up with some suggestions, things that I think would be JOLLY GOOD IDEAS.

But I am NOT SURE. After all, I am only a fluffy soft toy and NOT on the Federal Policy Committee (unlike certain Daddies I could mention).

My idea is to come up with some actual "to do" things – not vague woolly feel-good aspirations like Mr Balloon, and not target-setting nannying like Lord Blairimort. Just things to say: "we would like to go out and do this".

I do not think that we could do ALL of them: they are probably lots too expensive. And I may have got some things WRONG or forgotten something REALLY IMPORTANT.

Please, please tell me.

(But please do not be too harsh or you may make Daddy Richard CRY!)

The Liberal Democrats exist to build a free, fair and open society… in which no-one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.

Your government should only be there to serve you. We exist only at your sufferance and neither you nor we should ever forget that. Our job is to do only the things you need and leave you free to live your life for yourself.

    You need – food, shelter, warmth
  1. Green Power: it's the future
  2. More Houses and Better Houses

  3. You need – security: protection from ill-health; from poverty; from crime

  4. A health check at the doctor's and an appointment you can get to
  5. Reduce the levels of debt
  6. Police Stations: Keep them open all night
  7. End the War on Terror

  8. You need – your family

  9. Raise the minimum wage so working families aren't on benefits (and cut taxes on business in return)
  10. Just STOP telling people how to live their lives

  11. You need – to be trusted

  12. Lower Taxes, you should decide how you spend your money
  13. Fewer Laws: you don't need us to make something else illegal every single day
  14. No I.D.iot cards!

  15. You need – to be the best you can be

  16. Everyone deserves a free education
  17. Let's Build Rocket Ships

Friday, February 23, 2007

Day 2245: Look Out Behind You!


A WARNING: If you do CANNABIS and COCAINE you will end up like HIM!

Posted by Picasa

Hug a Hoodie? For once, Mr Jonny doesn't think so!

Speaking of people whose threat to Mr Balloon may be a touch EXAGGERATED, I notice that Mr Farrago and his UKPnuts are back in the news.

This week they are in danger of joining the Labour and Conservatories in BANKRUPTCY!

Clearly this is behind their decision to become the PNuts Party – they are having to SELL OFF the other letters!

This edition of Sesame Nut Street is brought to you by the letters "U" and "K" and by the number "367,697".

It seems that they made a bit of an ELEMENTARY BLUNDER in checking out one of their donors.

Farrago: "We believe that only the people of the United Kingdom are fit to decide on the destiny of our Great Island Story! Are you of the United Kingdom?"

Donor: "Errr…"

Farrago: "Oh never mind that then, sign here."

In fact, the man in question, Mr Alan Brown, probably WAS a UK resident for the year in question and just forgot to fill in the form making sure he was on the Electoral Register. Making the UKPnuts pay back the money seems a bit EXCESSIVELY HARSH. They should get the rap-on-the-knuckles fine for not filing the proper paperwork and be made to come up with some decent evidence that their man WOULD have qualified to be on the register if he hadn't forgotten. (Like he wasn't doing a tax-exile thing or anything; spending a year French for tax reasons, say.)

We can hardly punish UKPnuts just because one of their donors is a bit SCATTERBRAINED! Who would they have left?!

Mind you, Mr James has some compelling reasons for not not having a good laugh at them.

It would seem that BROWN is a REALLY UNLUCKY name for anyone to do with party FINANCE. Lucky for the Labour that their Chancellor is called Mr FROWN, then, isn't it!

Day 2244: Iraq – Time to Go, Lord Blairimort


"In my view, we will beat them when we realise that it is not our fault that they are doing it."

That was Lord Blairimort sharing his WISDOM on the Iraq insurgency with the House of Commons.

This is one of those times when SATIRE cannot compete with REALITY, isn't it.

The GOOD NEWS is that our troops are coming home. Well, some of them anyway.

The BAD NEWS is that Lord Blairimort still won't say sorry for the war he started.

Or as Lord B would put it:

"No, I am sorry, we should not apologise"

Lord Blairimort has set out a TIMETABLE for the gradual reduction of our presence in the Middle-Eastern WAR ZONE.

Sir Mr the Merciless reminded Lord Blairimort that LAST MONTH the Liberal Democrats had called for a timetable to remove our troops from harm's way.

Lord Blairimort had RUBBISHED the idea then… and rubbished AGAIN today:

"I cannot for the life of me see how it can be right, when those elements are conducting themselves in such a way, and the alternative has been voted for by the Iraqi people and backed by the UN, to say that we should walk away and leave them to get on with it."

said Lord Blairimort AS HE WAS ANNOUNCING that we would be walking away and leaving them to get on with it.

Does anyone else think our Prime Minister may be TOTALLY LOSING IT?

(Answer: YES – his own former SPECIAL ENVOY TO IRAQ, for starters)

Sir Mr the Merciless pressed the PM on a number of points:
  • The government has supported both the Iraq Study Groups recommendation of a phased withdrawal of US troops AND the Monkey-in-Chief plan to SURGE in a whole lot more. Which is it?
  • Is he going to agree that there should be more engagement with Iran, or will he be going along those Neo-Cons in Washington who say it's time to start bombing Iran too?
  • Has any thought been given to what the terrorists might do if you put a lot more troops into Baghdad and take a lot of troops away from Basra? Does he have a plan in case the obvious occurs?
  • And, perhaps most importantly, has anyone remembered we we're supposed to be using diplomacy to settle the Israel-Palestine conflict since before this whole 'let's have a war' thing kicked off?
Lord Blairimort's reply was: look, the important thing about what the Americans are doing is that Prime Minister M'lackey has been told to give their strategy his full support and that's exactly what he's doing. And so would you if you were in Prime Minister M'lackey's position, i.e. trapped in the green zone with a hundred thousand heavily armed Americans telling you what to do.

As for the Baker-Hamilton report, I'll say no more than I've already said to Mr Balloon, namely, yah boo sucks to you.

Lord Blairimort popped up again this morning on the The Today Programme. The BBC describe him as being DEFIANT, but I would say he was just using as many TWISTY WORDS as he could to avoid having to say he was SORRY!

"I don't think we should be apologising because we are not causing the terrorism."

Well, except in the sense of smashing up Iraq; destroying the forces of law and order that might have kept the country intact; allowing in the foreign terrorists who had got away because we didn't bother to finish the job in Afghanistan properly; sacking the entire Iraqi police force so that they had to start accepting Iranian money or corruption; sending the whole Iraqi army home – with their guns – in order that they might set up the insurgency…

Hang on, Lord Blairimort's thought of that:

"There was no way that the Iraqi police force that was there under Saddam was going to be able to keep order in the country properly. [It was] an instrument of Saddam's dictatorship and therefore you were always going to have to build the Iraq police and army from scratch."

Right! So if you knew that you were ALWAYS going to have to replace the police and the army, you must have had a PLAN for what to do in the meantime, yes?

"These forces that are operating in Iraq at the moment, it's not a fault of planning or administration, it is a deliberate attempt by external extremists, like al-Qaeda"

So it was a COMPLETE surprise to you that al-Qaeda might be operating in Iraq? Didn't the Monkey-in-Chief have some big bee in his bonnet about Saddam being bestest buddies with Osama?

And didn't the CIA originally set up al-Qaeda anyway, back when they wanted them to fight the Russians… and we backed the Taleban when they were beating the Soviets in Afghanistan too. Mind you, we supported Saddam when we wanted him to fight the Iranians for us.

I must remember to look up the word FICKLE.

So, Lord Blairimort was accepting no responsibility for making terrorism worse, then.

"There is no justification even within their own terms for saying that when you remove, for example, the Taleban... it somehow justifies or excuses them blowing up wholly innocent people on the London Tube.

… Of course we shouldn't alter our foreign policy as a result

What was that SHOCK AND AWE all about then?

Were you throwing HIGH EXPLOSIVES into HEAVILY POPULATED areas of Baghdad in order to TERRORISE the Iraqi government into changing its policy or were you just EXPLODING PEOPLE for FUN?

Didn't this all come back to the fact that in 2002, you and the Monkey-in-Chief just decided you were going to get rid of Saddam and hang the consequences, Mr Humpy asked.

"Look, if we'd decided it back then, why would we have gone back to the UN and tried to get the second resolution?"

Why does Lord Blairimort ALWAYS use this as though it proves he HADN'T already made his mind up – it proves THE EXACT OPPOSITE! Yes, they went back to the United Nations. And the United Nations said: NO. And then Lord Blairimort and the Monkey-in-Chief INVADED ANYWAY.

Doesn't that look to YOU like they'd made up their minds already?????

The REAL TRAGEDY is that we probably WON'T be able to get Lord Blairimort on the WAR CRIMES charges that he clearly deserves. We may have to settle for the AL CAPONE option of seeing him dragged off in chains for the lesser crime of PERVERTING THE COURSE OF JUSTICE.

Oh dear, his nice Director of Government Relations, Ms Ruth Turner, has been grilled by Inspector Yates again.

Incidentally, in spite of the impending HAPPY DAY when Lord B finally goes (willingly or otherwise), there was bad news for his apprentice evil emperor, Mr Frown (or Darth Gordo, Dork Lord of the Smith Institute, as he prefers to be called*): a COLOSSAL GIANT SQUID has emerged from the depths of the sea off New Zealand and is going to challenge for the Labour Leadership!

[*] for reasons of BALANCE, this gag requires that we mention that Dale Winton is a trustee of the Pets Win Prizes Exchange.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Day 2243: Don't You Just HATE It When You Click REPLY ALL By Mistake?


So there was Lord Blairimort having a little natter over the e-mail when, whoops, he goes and spams 1.8 million people. Oops!

That Blairimort e-mail in full:

"Tidy this up for me would you … Inspector Knacker's on his way round… I don't have time to deal with it… tell 'em to sod off and then double the road tax on anyone with an e-mail account."

Okay, Lord Blairimort's REAL e-mail was rather more fulsome… as in full of some of his usual GUFF.

I will try to pick out the IMPORTANT bits, and explain them:

Thank you for taking the time to register your views

[Your e-mail address has been added to the Labour campaign database; a note has been made on your MI5 file.]

…this is not about imposing "stealth taxes" or introducing "Big Brother" surveillance.

[those are just handy side-effects]

We are, for now, working with some local authorities… And funds raised from these local schemes will be used to improve transport in those areas

[remember this for later]

One thing I suspect we can all agree is that congestion is bad.

[also puppies are cute, trees are pretty, apple pie is yummy, and motherhood generally to be approved of]

Congestion is predicted to increase by 25% by 2015

[How do you compute "congestion" anyway? Is it the same as "traffic"? DO you count the cars on the road? Or is it some measure of how cars on the road are having no fun? Count the cars on the road that are not moving, perhaps? Count the complaints to the National Cone Hotline, maybe?]

Part of the solution is to improve public transport… We're also putting a great deal of effort into improving traffic flows

[statistics blah blah blah… Lord Blairimort loves to pad things out with random figures showing how much MORE he has done than anyone else and how much EVEN more he is going to do in the future]

…we have a difficult choice to make…

[not actually a useful part of the e-mail, but Lord Blairimort always likes to get this in somewhere]

One option would be to allow congestion to grow unchecked… congestion could cost an extra £22 billion in wasted time in England by 2025, of which £10-12 billion would be the direct cost on businesses.

[Surely congestion would check itself eventually? If you build more roads you get more traffic on them because it makes it easier to go by road than find an alternative – wouldn't the REVERSE be true as well? As it gets more expensive to spend your time waiting in a traffic jam than taking another alternative then don't people start to switch? Isn't that what you want?]

A second option would be to try to build our way out of congestion… Tackling congestion in this way would also be extremely costly

[Lord B is WARMING to his theme: if we do not tax you, it will cost you!]

It has been calculated that a national scheme - as part of a wider package of measures - could cut congestion significantly through small changes in our overall travel patterns

[this sounds promising – but what are the "small changes" that are required and might there be some other way of getting people to make them? This is the area that needs explaining!]

any technology used would have to give definite guarantees about privacy being protected

[well, Lord Blairimort's idea is that you should have a bleeper in your car that tells a little box by the roadside everywhere that you go so that the box can send you a charge for using that road. And people are worried that the government would find it just tooooo tempting to use those bleeper boxes to start tracking your car around. But there's an easy answer – swap the system around. If there is a bleeper by the roadside that sends out a price to a box in your car that records them like a taximeter, then the government only needs to know the final price at the end of the year, say when you have your MOT! As a bonus you can see what it is costing you to drive the way you do, and have a better incentive to change your behaviour!]

I know many people's biggest worry about road pricing is that it will be a "stealth tax"… there could be a case for moving away from the current system of motoring taxation.

[unfortunately, earlier on Lord Blairimort said that congestion charging schemes would help pay for more local public transport – I told you to remember that. That IS raising more tax in order to have more SPEND. If you want to change what people choose to do, they have to see the benefit – and cash back in their own pocket is the way they like to see it]

The public will, of course, have their say, as will Parliament.

[There's a first time for everything]

Yours sincerely, Tony Blair

[Strictly speaking, Lord Blairimort, you should sign off with "yours faithfully" if you are not addressing the recipient by name at the top… of course, you've always preferred the way your SINCERITY plays to the perception of your FAITHFULNESS.]

I think cars are LOVELY.

But Daddy has told me how very BAD they are.

But I still LOVE cars.

Maybe we could just wait for TOTAL GRIDLOCK and have all the cars PARKED then they could all sit there NICE and SHINY and with no pollution… no, no, no, that would never work.

Rather than trying to CRISIS MANAGE all this traffic, why not ask ourselves about the ROOT CAUSES. Or ROUTE CAUSES. Why are people travelling more and more, and what is clogging up all the roads that we have already.

The problem with road pricing – the problem with ANY tax that's supposed to change how people behave – is that people have to have an ALTERNATIVE! We have to give people a CHOICE so that they can feel GOOD about it, rather than just PUT UPON.

With one HUGE exception – which I will mention in a moment – we CAN do that. Our towns and cities could have a CONGESTION ZONE each, each with a nice big CAR PARK where people could sit and admire the shiny vehicles leave their cars and travel to work by BUS or HORSE and TRAP or even on FLUFFY FOOT (Daddy carrying me)!

The exception that I mentioned is of course LONDON. London is TOO BIG. Actually, that is just TRUE on its own. But it is also TOO BIG for Daddy to carry me anywhere on foot.

But our public transport is ALREADY stretched to capacity: trains are overpriced and overcrowded; buses are stuck in the same gridlock as the cars; and the London Tube is a many wheeled machine for squashing the happiness out of people.

Too many people are trying to come to London to WORK so what we need is to get them all nice jobs somewhere else.

Mind you, everywhere else people are travelling more and more too – to giant SUPERMARKETS and out of town retail parks where TOYS 'R' US is the size of STANSTEAD AIRPORT. (Which means the walk to the STAR WARS LEGO is too long!)

And all of these supermarkets mean loads and loads more goods on the roads.

What is clogging up the roads?

Well for a start there is LORRIES. Lorries do almost all of the damage to the road surface too, so lorries are the cause of all the resurfacing roadworks which mean even more traffic jams. So for a start you need to think about cutting down on all the STUFF that we are hauling all over the country and shifting as much of the rest off the roads and onto the railways as you can.

Of course, that means you've got to have railways that actually WORK.

It does not help that public transport does not go where people want it to go. Most of the railway lines, for instance, go to London – so you have to go to the capital to go back out again.

Then there are all those BOTTLE-NECKS caused by single-tracking. That was when they were making lots of railway CUTBACKS and the railway lines were turned from double-track (where trains can go both ways at once) to single-track (where you have to wait your turn like ladies at a tea-dance) in order to save half the maintenance. Doesn't half interfere with how many trains you can run on your line though.

And of course, there's the fact that it's almost impossible to make a profit from running a railway thanks to the BONKERS way that the Conservatories privatised it in the first place. Rail operating companies have to pay most of their money to "rent" the trains that they are operating from a train owning company. And then "rent" the track for a slot to run their train on. So no one has any incentive to try and IMPROVE the network – they're all too busy trying to make a buck from THEIR bit of it.

At the moment, it is CHEAPER to drive than to take the TRAIN. (And it is CHEAPER to FLY than to DRIVE!) That has GOT to be BACKWARDS!

What we need is a bit of JOINED UP GOVERNMENT. What we need is a better answer.

If you're REALLY SERIOUS about spending A HUNDRED AND FORTY BILLION POUNDS then why not spend it on something that might REALLY make a difference: build a proper railway freight network to move goods from factories to shops, from farms to markets, from ports to cities, from where things are made to where they are sold. Make it so that no lorry need ever go on a motorway again.

Or failing that, invent the TELEPORTER.

Day 2242: Advice to the American Anglicans – Get Out Now!


It's a twap! It's a twap! as flappy, fishy fleet-commander Admiral Akbar would say.

Today the leaders of the Church offered their American branch a DEAL: stop behaving like CHRISTIANS and we'll let you stay in our GANG.

The idea that the Episcopal Church should let those members who want to HATE GAY DADDIES set up a "parallel" church organisation within an organisation is NOT a compromise. It is the first step towards kicking the NICE Americans out WITHOUT having to let them take all of their church buildings and all of their money with them!

Yes, that's right – it is a PROPERTY SCAM!

It ought to be OBVIOUS to anyone who thinks about it that the Anglican Church has a CASH FLOW problem. The problem being none of the CASH will FLOW into Africa.

The Church of England IN England is clearly VERY RICH indeed. But unfortunately, it is rich because it OWNS large bits OF England, and they are not very portable. Plus the Church Commissioners rather lost a lot of it in financial scandals in the 90s. Most of the International Anglican Communion's ACTUAL CASH MONEY therefore resides in… ta dah!... AMERICA!

So the Americans have all the money and the Africans have nothing except their PATHOLOGICAL HATRED religious convictions.

So, if they kick the Yanks out TODAY, then all that lovely lucre goes with them. Bye bye lovely money! No, can't have that. So instead, they have decided to set up a RIVAL Anglican Church inside the Church in America so that when the time comes they can go to COURT to get hold of some or all of the DOSH!

Imagine the scene in court now: "We've been the Anglican Church here for years and years, sir. And we put all of this money into the collection." "Ahh, but, your honourship, WE'VE got the shiny purple BADGE from the Archpillock of Canterbury saying WE'RE the PROPER Anglican Church. Case dismissed."

Here are the other details of the deal:

  • No more BLESSINGS for couples who love each other if they happen to be of the same GENDER.
  • No more promoting Gay Daddies to the rank of Bishop… sorry, that should read no more promoting Gay Daddies who are HONEST about being Gay Daddies.
  • And smile and say thank you as we hit you with this stick.

Dr Rowan Williams, less spiritual leader of the world's Anglican Communion, more Womble that has turned to the DARK SIDE, described the deal as:

"A challenge for both sides."

Yes, the CHALLENGE for one side is to see if they can hold off RANTING about Gay Daddies until they’ve got their hands on the loot, while CHALLENGE for the other side is to see if they can grin and bear it while their done up like KIPPERS!

Dr Williams hopes to "provide a way of moving forward with dignity", which is obviously rather easier for HIM to say than the people he is expecting to GROVEL on their knees.

So, MY advice to the Americans is GET OUT! Get while the going is GOOD! Keep your churches and bank accounts and gay daddies and women bishops and STAY TRUE to your belief in a religion of LOVE and KINDNESS.

Do not worry about leaving the Church of England with NOTHING. I am SURE that I remember SOMETHING about poverty being A GOOD THING in the Christian Church. Something about a ROLE MODEL.

For some reason the Archpillock of Canterbury seems to have forgotten who that role model was.

Perhaps someone can remind him for me!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Day 2241: He was for Rumsfeld before he was against him


Senator John Oven-Chip (Replutocrat, Arid-zone-a) has come out strongly in favour of things that that the American electorate LIKE and stated his firm opposition to whatever it is they DON'T LIKE.

This is BOUND to win him the Presidency in 2008!

Unfortunately, it turns out that Mr Oven-Chip's BEST MATE, the Monkey-in-Chief, is TOP of the list of things that the American people DO NOT LIKE. Still, that's no problem for an operator as SKILFUL as Mr Oven-Chip, oh no!

Just because he said that sacked Defence Secretary Mr Donald Rumsfailed was due RESPECT and GRATITUDE does not mean that there is any CONTRADICTION in saying that sacked Defence Secretary Mr Donald Rumsfailed was one of the WORST in HISTORY.

We can all respect a man who – when he needs to – is willing and able to turn on his allies and trash his own reputation for consistency and staunch support.


Is this nimble soft-shoe shuffle down to his FOOTWEAR? Surely not FLIP-FLOPS?

I am SURE that Mr Oven-Chip can rely entirely on the support of the Monkey-in-Chief to see him though his difficulties. It is not like the Monkey would come up with his top five reasons why Senator Oven-Chip is UNFIT TO BE PRESIDENT.

Okay, maybe not AGAIN.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Day 2240: DOCTOR WHO: Human Resources


Lord Blairimort was on Mr Andy’s breakfast show, and was asked whether he was ever SORRY for all the people who were dying in Iraq. Lord Blairimort said how very DEVASTATED he was, but that it wasn’t British or American soldiers who were killing them.

Look Andy… clean conscience, carefree laughter, sociopathic twitch… not my fault, guv,

And then he got to sit on the comfy sofa with one-time credible anti-war songmeister Art Garfunkel and joke about doing a duet together.

I think I can suggest a song for them…

[tune: “Mrs Robinson” Simon&Garfunkel; lyrics Millennium Elephant]

Lying to the Commons on a Monday Afternoon
Would you like a Peerage with your cupcakes
Laugh about it, cry about it, if you’ve got to care

While the rest of us despair

What’s that you say
Mister Blairimort
Conscience says it wasn’t down to you
Woo woo woo

But people died
Mister Blairimort,
Abu Grahib just will not go away
Hey hey hey
hey hey hey

Or maybe we’ll stick to “The Boxer”

Lie la lie
Li la lie lie lie lie lie
Lie la lie
Lie la lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lieeeeeeeee

Meanwhile, I will get Daddy Richard to review another duet: the final two episodes of the (we all hope) first series of Radio Doctor Who.

Take "The Office", "The War Games", a soupcon of Monty Python and an army of Cybermen: stir liberally and serve. In spite of what you might think, the result is a spectacular and occasionally hilarious triumph, with special credit to Roy Marsden. Whoever would have expected Commander Dalgliesh to do such brilliant deadpan?

As you may have gathered, Big Finish's series of audio adventures for the eighth Doctor on BBC7 digital radio has come to something of a top conclusion. Nicely wrapping up the story arc concerning Lucie, the Time Lords and the Headhunter brings us back, most unexpectedly, to Lucie's first day at work. If that's not got you confused then the escalating sequence of ever more bizarre revelations will soon have you totally bamboozled. And yet also engrossed.

The Doctor's story begins completely separated from Lucie, with a meeting with a perfectly charming Time Lord called Straxus, but he swiftly weaves himself back into the tale, rather marvellously establishing himself in a position of authority while remaining fairly baffled as to how he's doing it.

The logic of the story actually makes it all seem to unfold perfectly naturally – like a well written Douglas Adam pastiche – and the pace and charm keep tugging you along, enjoying the ride wherever it takes you.

Between them, Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith really carry this story along, the repartee between them, the relationship that they have built over this series between the Doctor and Lucie, working like a pair of jugglers to keep the disparate and perplexing plot elements all moving and all in the air at once.

As the Doctor probes further, it becomes apparent that all the seeming oddness is actually a pretty dastardly plot by Roy Marsden's Mr Hulbert to exploit a lot of ambitious office workers as, er, unwitting interstellar mercenaries. With giant robots. Obviously.

Equally obviously, the Doctor decides to put a stop to it, just in time for the cliffhanger ending to part one: oops, Doctor, you should have checked to see just who Hulbert's mercenaries were fighting against! It's…

…no surprise to anyone who peeked at the cast lists for the CD releases! It's the Cybermen.

Having expected the cyborg baddies to tie in with the opening story – if you recall, the colony of Red Rocket Rising having just beaten off the Daleks were about to be rescued by saviours from planet Telos… no luck there then! – it actually was something of a relief that this story had no connection to "Blood of the Daleks" after all. Instead it's set in a previously unheard of by-water of Cyberman history, between the destruction of their first homeworld, Mondas, and their conquest of their second homeworld, Telos. Oh all right, third homeworld it'll have to be now.

The Cyber-voices are… er… interesting. Alex spotted at once that they were a blend of the Mondasian sing-song from "The Tenth Planet" and the bleeping deletes of the new series. (Points deducted for smugness when Nick Briggs said as much, in the same words no less, on the making of after part one!) Actually, they worked rather well, adding personality to what can be otherwise robotic villains. Oh and they've got the new series stomping march too – which is great as it really gives the Cybermen an identifiable sound and a presence that moves through the action, adding to the soundscape. We're not quite sure how it fits with their "we don't reference the new telly series" rules, though.

Having the Cybermen familiar with Planet 14 but not with Telos is a tiny touch naughty, too, as there's a reasonably good theory that they are one and the same planet. And the rowing and politicking between the Time Lords' High Council and the Celestial Intervention Agency is perhaps a little bit too comic given the dignity that the television series and the Time War has miraculously managed to restore to the Doctor's people post "Arc of Infinity". (Or you could say it plays into the idea that the CIA are going to do a runner, hiding out as the Celestis, as soon as the Time War breaks out.)

The all out warfare that breaks out during the second episode is remarkably effective, not least because of the excellent sound design and a real sense of how the Cybermen's strategy is working and advancing relentlessly. The resolution is rather delightful too – very Time Lord in its execution and (again it's Alex's thought) very satirical of the TV series' rabbit-from-hat endings. Basically, it's a machine that always pulls the right rabbit from the hat. Delightful.

Enough threads are left open at the end – about the Time Lords, the Headhunter, and just where Mr Hulbert got his technology from in the first place – to give a second series something to get its teeth into. Or not. There's no need if they've got other ideas as inventive and absorbing as this. Though I do rather hope that Mr Straxus doesn't end up having to regenerate – Nickolas Grace is always such a pleasure to hear.

I earlier accused this series of being rather up and down. I'm happy to say that I've been proved wrong: there are a couple of glitches early on – okay, really only "Horror of Glam Rock"; "Phobos" only problem was being just a bit average – but this ending (following on from "No More Lies") has really lifted the arc as a whole. And they've rapidly grown into the fifty-minute time slot. It seems so natural now; it's surprising how the traditional old four-parter, which we all loved so much, has so easily been superseded.

I'm very much warming to Lucie – she's just so bubbly you can't not like her, but she's shown increasing depth too, especially in the scenes here when she thinks her life has been totally messed with but would have been even worse if it hadn't been.

And McGann continues to give great Doctor: vivacious and wise, but also old and cranky, the characterisation Chris Bidmead wanted as early as the fifth Doctor: old man in a young body.

These radio adventures have really filled a gap, specifically that gap between the Christmas special and the start of the series proper (yes, yes, there's another month to go, but it's no longer so… impossible). Here's hoping they've been a huge boost to BBC7's ratings and that they'll commission another run to fill the same gap next year.

Wadda ya mean they've not announced next year's Christmas special and fourth series yet?!

Next time… meanwhile, in his tenth incarnation and with no Rose at his side, how will the Doctor cope? Enter Miss Martha. "Smith and Jones". 31st March.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Day 2239: Happy Chinese New Year of the Pig


Both of my Daddies are Pigs.

I am not being rude; I am reading this Chinese Horoscope Calendar and it says here that the Year of the Pig was from the 27th of January 1971 to the 14th of February 1972 and that include BOTH of their birthdays.

Mind you it also says that I am a RABBIT.

That is STUPID – I am an ELEPHANT! Where is the Year of the Elephant, then?

Never mind all that: we have been celebrating by listening to Year of the Pig, a Doctor Who adventure from the Big Fish people! (Not to be confused with the Year of the Cat by Mr Mad Larry!)

It was really jolly good! It only has a small cast, but they are all very special stars, including Mr Colin as Dr Who and Ms Nicola as Peri along with Ms Maureen O'Brian who travelled with Mr Billy when HE was Dr Who; Mr Michael Keating who was Vila in Blake's Seven; Ms Adjoa Andoh who used to be a nurse in Casualty and was also a nurse – and a cat and a nun – on New Earth in Doctor Who; and Mr Paul Brooke who has been in almost everything but you probably remember him as the RANCOR KEEPER in the Return of the Jedi.

One or more of these people turned out to be pigs too!

Although the cast is small, the script is very, very good, and very funny and clever and SURPRISING too. Especially when the COWS land on the BEACH. It uses lots of clever playing with words to tell a story that is lots and lots of fun. And also rather SURREAL!

It has two episodes, like in Mr Colin's first proper season but they are REALLY GINORMOUS – one whole CD each! But do not worry! They trip along at such a merry GAVOTTE that you hardly notice all the time passing.

Plus it is good to hear Ms Peri and Dr Who having a GOOD TIME together. Even if it involves picking a fight with Marcel Proust, receiving an unwanted stuffed monkey or getting sauna'd to death (nearly). This is more like the NICE relationship that they have by the time Dr Who gets put on Trial. If you add this to which theme tune they use [R: it's the Dominic Glynn, season 23 remix] then I think you should IGNORE what the sleeve says about it being set "after Timelash" and replace with the words "before The Trial of a Time Lord"!

Those Big Fish people are having rather a good run at the moment, what with the exciting conclusion to their series of adventures for Mr Paul (more on THAT story tomorrow); several good new adventures in their regular line (we have only recently got round to enjoying "Memory Lane" and "No Man's Land"); and a new idea called "The Companion Chronicles" that enables them to do some new stories for the first four Dr Whos, and to work with several former friends of the Doctor. Ms Maureen was back for the first of those too: "Frostfire" by writing GENIUS Mr Mark Platt and THAT was jolly good too! It was a Victorian Ghost story and legend of old Araby and Doctor Who story all rolled into one, and jolly nicely read and performed too. I hope that the rest are as good: we are really looking forward to them now!

And apparently Big Fish SUPREMO Mr Jason has said that there will be another series soon. Hooray!

We were QUITE WORRIED when the wonderful Mr Gary T Russell – super-producer for Big Fish and also JAMES BOND STAR! – ran away to find his fortune making TELEVISION in CARDIFF. But it turns out that – as so often in Doctor Who – a change is as good as a rest, and the audio adventures seem revitalised with a different set of new ideas.

The Year of the Pig is supposed to be very AUSPICIOUS! I hope that it is going to be good for the Big Fish people – and I hope that it will be good for YOU TOO!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Day 2238: Innocent Druggie's Life Ruined By Publicity


A man who was only wanted for POSSESSION OF CANNABIS had his mugshot published by police when he failed to attend a magistrate's court is now complaining that it made him look like a CRIMINAL.

Therefore we beg of you: stop using this photo!

You are ruining this man's life!

(and the rest of us have had enough of him, too!)
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Day 2237: "Something has gone clearly and radically wrong"


Not, it has to be said, entirely the BEST words to hear when you are discussing ATOMIC REACTORS!

The people from GREENSLEEVES have been to Court in order to call Lord Blairimort to account. Obviously, Lord Blairimort was found GUILTY.

This goes back to last year when Lord Blairimort announced a FULL CONSULTATION into whether we should build new nuclear powered terrorist targets all over the country or whether there might be something a bit cleaner, greener, safer and cheaper that we could do instead.

"Right… we're going to have these power stations. You lot… talk amongst yourselves," said Lord Blairimort, speaking at the start of the consultation. "I'm a busy man. Important haircut, radioactive glint in the eyes, melanoma cast to the skin."

Funnily enough, the judge thought that maybe… just maybe… Lord Blairimort DIDN'T ENTIRELY MEAN IT when he said it would be a proper discussion.

The judge has discovered that the government – you will be SHOCKED – did not give FULL information to the people on the consultation! In fact, they were asked to choose between:

A: pure atomic energy from this lovely shiny completely 100% safe, guaranteed by Lord Blairimort's personal word of honour, sparkling (no, that IS safe) nuclear reactor


B: methane from this cow farting in a tent

Fortunately, our LISTENING PM has ENTIRELY taken on board the judge's criticism.

"Look…" he said, "I told you… last time. We're having these power stations… now you can go and do it all again… but you might as well… go whistle."

Good news for all those people voting on Lord Blairimort's CLICKBOX then!

Of course, things have moved along a little bit since last year: it is not only the atomic reactors that are in danger of MELTDOWN! It ought to be clear to the soon to be ex-Prime Minister that he will have a harder time railroading this through a second time with Mr Frown waiting in the wings and probably a good bit less keen on starting his own Premiership with RADIATION on his hands.

"My… ahhh… decision to… ahhh… axe Lord Blairimort's… ahhh… plan is entirely… ahhh… entirely down to the… ahhh… ex-pensive, imm-prudent and indeed… ahhh… ex-horbitant nature of these… ahhh… atomic deathtraps and… ahhh… nothing to do with… ahhh… kneeing him personally in the… ahhh…" as he might say.

Fortunately, there is BETTER NEWS to be had from the world of POWER, with the announcement that the plan to build one-hundred and eighty one GIANT WINDMILLS on the Isle of Lewis has been given the go-ahead.

(And a larger ALCOHOL powered power station will be built on the nearby Isle of Morse! Sorry!)

These 181 wind turbines should be able to generate up to 543 MWe of electricity – or 375,000 houses worth of electricity.

In comparison, a single modern nuclear power station produces between 600 and 1200 MWe – 400,000 to 800,000 houses worth.

Ah ha, say the sceptics, but the wind does not blow all the time! True, but neither do you have to turn it off in a hurry to avoid the CHINA SYNDROME. You may not have noticed this, but we actually get quite a LOT of wind in this country – especially in north Scotland – and it almost never ever stops blowing EVERYWHERE in the country at once. And – handily – it blows MORE in winter, when it is cold and people turn on their electric blankets more.

I am a big fan of windmills!

I know they are not to everybody's tastes. Some people prefer the gentle blue glow of a large concrete cube as it merrily IRRADIATES the local children, but I think that windmills look very LOVELY turning majestically against the horizon. Thonking the occasional passing seagull out of the sky.

Okay, SORRY, yes they do kill a few birds – but only about one or two a year per windmill. More than ten MILLION birds a year get killed by flying into someone's CAR – windmills don't do for NEARLY so many; we are hardly likely to build FIVE MILLION windmills, now are we?

(Not least because that would be enough to power the ENTIRE COUNTRY more than a HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY times over!)

I am particularly CHARMED that the two other complaints raised against wind farms are
  1. The whirring sound can cause noise pollution
  2. They get in the way of low-level aircraft training
Is it just me or does the DIRTY GREAT SCREAMING ROARING of the jet aeroplanes going past cause just the eensiest bit more NOISE?

It is even said that offshore windfarms might interfere with the nation's RADAR DEFENCE! Well, yes… if you assume that there IS an enemy capable of mounting an air attack on us any more AND that they are mad enough to fly their aircraft THROUGH a field of windmills! (see complaint 2 above!)

On the other fluffy foot, wind power is CLEAN, ABUNDANT, RELIABLE and AFFORDABLE. And it works! Oh, it also creates lots of new jobs (not just in construction) and at the end of their life they can be quickly and easily taken to pieces again. And they are popular – people LOVE windmills.

Saving the world can be FUN!

Still, if you don't think THAT is going to work, there will always be some other POTTY scheme along in a minute. Like THIS plan, clearly inspired by too much KATE BUSH, to float ocean going CLOUD MAKING YACHTS.

You couldn't make this stuff up, you know.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Day 2236: Valentine's Day Massacre



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[*1] après manger

[*2] yum yum yum, in some translations

Romance was also in the air for Mr Millipede today, when he received this LOVE LETTER from Mr Frank Failed, the former Minister for the Unthinkable in Pursuit of the Inedible.

"Oh Millipede, how I love you…" writes Mr Failed "… Mr Frown is besmirched by a decade in power, toiling in the workshops of that vile Lord Blairimort, he cannot have kept his hands clean, and verily, t'was the fiend Frown what did nobble me when I said let us sell off the NHS.

"Oh, Millipede, thou are not so base and undeserving as that dreadful Frown, who has done nothing all these years except sulk and run the most successful British economy in a hundred years. You have done nothing and less, but at least you did so without sulking. Or treading on my dainty toes. Come buy a pension insurance scheme with me!

"Frown may be a man of great achievement, high office and worthy CV, but does not the great book of history tell us yea 'tis the crappy little underdog what steals the great man's bone and pisseth it away. Verily, oh Millipede, art thou not that pissant underdog? Oh love of mine, thou art!

"Debt, sweet Millipede, debt in abundance and yea more debt upon debt and indeed our fortune lying in the hands of the governor of the Bank of England, what reckless gambler he, and what fool did knowingly thrust the levers of macro-economic manipulation from him: Frown, I name thee with my Scorn! Oh Millipede who has not yet had the time to Balls up in any way mighty or otherwise – saving only your pitiful performances on Questionable Time and that pathetic 'tache – Millipede, come to us and make new our mistakes all over again.

"Look ye at the NHS, what I did think we could get a fiver for down Camden Market, and yet into which Frown, loath'd Frown, has poured all that the nation could raise and then some. Oh, would but there were some challenger – that meaneth you, Millipede, so stoppeth looking shifty – someone that would slay this Dragon, bell this cat, rid me of this turbulent pest…

"Millipede Millipdede, thou art the man, and I am thine all thine.

"And no, Lord Blairimort didn't put me up to it!"

Awww, isn't that sweet?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Day 2235: Well Done, Lord Woolsack!


I have ESP, you know – Elephant Special Powers – more on this story later…[*]

It is not often that I get to say something NICE about the Labour – it not often that they get something RIGHT! – so I will seize the opportunity with both fluffy front feet!

Lord Blairimort's chum the Lord Woolsack, also known as a proper Charlie, has been doing some GOOD for once, by deciding to stand up for the HUMAN RIGHTS ACT. And he is to be CONGRATULATED for it.

He has started with a Blitz on this "human rights nonsense" and now is saying how Human Rights help fight terror!

A LONG time ago, in 1950 in fact, Great (as we were then) Britain was one of the founding members of the Council of Europe and together with other nations of Europe agreed that there should be a UNIVERSAL PROTECTION of the Human Rights of all people.

And they set up a Court and signed a big long declaration to say they meant it.

Ever since then, ever since 1950 remember, you and me and every other person living in one of the nations who have joined the Convention have had our Human (and Elephant) Rights GUARANTEED and we have been able to appeal to the Court in Strasbourg to get those rights protected.

1950 is IMPOSSIBLY long ago! The Prime Minister and his goons are fond of saying that it was a DIFFERENT AGE. They could not have imagined the threats that we would face today, says Lord Blairimort.

Yes, he is RIGHT: just five years after fighting a WORLD WAR against all the might of the Axis WAR MACHINE which cost MILLIONS of lives, I think that the Council of Europe would have found it VERY DIFFICULT to imagine a time when the richest most powerful countries on the planet totally secure from the threat of conventional war, were nevertheless wetting themselves because they had been threatened by a sick old man hiding in a cave.

I think they'd find that VERY DIFFICULT to imagine INDEED!

Incidentally, Article 17 says specifically that you CANNOT use one of the Human Rights to try and limit or abolish another of the human rights. Possibly worth remembering every time one of those Labour Ministers starts saying "we must limit this Human Right to freedom from being flung into a dungeon without trial in order to secure the Human Right to not be blown up!"

They are BREAKING THE LAW when they say that!

Going to Strasbourg, though, is a LOT OF TROUBLE. It would be much easier if the Court in THIS COUNTRY could save you the bother by guaranteeing the same protections much closer to home. Well, in 1998 Lord Blairimort did something GOOD (he was very young at the time) and passed the Human Rights Act so that the Court in this country could do exactly that. Hooray! Save everyone a lot of time and bother.

(Actually, he did say that judges could not overturn those Acts of Parliament that are in conflict with the Convention, but only say "bother, that's in conflict with the Human Rights Convention" so sometimes you might STILL have to go to Strasbourg.)

Since then, though, the Human Rights act has become a bit of a CONVENIENT thing to blame when there is a COCK UP. Not least by, er, Lord Blairimort and his ministers.

The Conservatories too are very keen to pretend that all our woes flow from what is supposed to be the government making a promise not to abuse the people it works for. Blaming the Human Rights Act is the new POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAAAAAAAD. It is a MYTH, based on URBAN FAIRY STORIES and MISREPORTED anecdotes.

But it isn't half handy if you've got no excuses (if you're Lord Blairimort) or no policies (if you're Mr Balloon) and want a handy SCAPEGOAT.

In fact, Mr Balloon says he wants to abolish the Human Rights Act altogether. That would be RATHER POINTLESS, unless he is going to ask Mrs the Queen to tear up the treaty that she signed. We would still have those rights and the right to go back to Strasbourg and get them.

It makes you wonder about his commitment to civil liberties, when he says he won't stand by a promise to defend them, doesn't it!

Meanwhile, Lord Blairimort is keen to lock people up without trial on the say-so of trying so hard not to be out of his depth Home Secretary nice Mr Dr Reid.

"Lockses them up, my precious, in chainses and ironses." That sort of say-so.

It's about this point that someone trundles out the usual excuse…

"Oh, won't somebody think of the CHILDREN!"

…but it turns out we might not be very good at THAT either!

[*] In other news… the American's ESP lab to close!

…I bet they didn't see that coming. I did!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Day 2234: New ITV Game Show


As we were watching Mr CHARLIE BROOKER doing his Screenwipe on BBC4, explaining how the television ratings are worked out, an idea for a brand you game show struck me!

It would be for a ONE MILLION POUND cash prize and it would be called:


Four teams are sent out in NINJA COSTUMES, given cryptic clues and a TV detector van and told to track down as many BARB ratings boxes as they can find. Each team is equipped with a sack full of electronic GIZMOS with which they can "tag" each and every box they discover.

And here's the clever bit: the gizmos automatically jam the ratings box onto one of the four ITV channels: ITVnone, ITVsame, ITVagain and ITVrude!

At the end of the week, you can tell the team that has WON by which ITV channel has the highest ratings!

This idea is COPYRIGHT © MILLENNIUM DOME, ELEPHANT – before Endemol comes along and steels it!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Day 2233: Mr Balloon and the Open Goal


Oh, come on you didn't think I was going to let THIS one go past, did you?

Mr Balloon says that recreational cannabis use should be CRIMINAL.

Unless it's HIM, of course.

That'd be one rule for him and one for the rest of us the? Or is he going to go and check himself into the local BIG HOUSE to pay off the debt to society he'd say anyone else has incurred?

Obviously it would be too much to except the Conservatories actually to have a policy on this, but here is their BLUE SKY THINKING on the subject.

Basically: "Cannabis BAAAAD, government sending MIXED MESSAGES BAAAAD."

Good job Mr Balloon's not sending a mixed message then. Oh.

Still, he argues that his life before entering politics should be PRIVATE.

Good job he's not told any FUNNY STORIES about, say, the KGB trying to recruit him during his gap year then. Oh, hang on: he has!

Maybe this "no talking about my life before parliament" is ANOTHER rule that applies to other people and not to HIM!

Mr Balloon entered parliament in 2001, so that SHOULD be quite a bit of his life to keep quiet about.

This is what the Conservatory Party website says "about David":

"I was born in October 1966…" BEFORE he entered parliament…

"…and live in London and West Oxfordshire, where I've been the MP for Witney since 2001.

"I'm married to Samantha…" 1 June 1996, so BEFORE he entered parliament…

"…and have three young children, Ivan, Nancy and Arthur," born 2002, 2003 and 2006 so that's FINE.

In fact, the rest of it is all aspirational GUFF that tells you nothing about his experience or qualifications to run the country.

So it misses the privileged silver-spoon background, expensive education at Eton, the Oxford dining societies, that gap year in Russia (best not mention that), the time working for Mr Norma Lamont on Black Wednesday, that time working as special advisor to Mr Something of the Night, the PR job helping ITV digital crash and burn…

You know, suddenly this whole "I want to keep my life before politics quiet" seems to make a LOT of sense!

In fact, doing drugs may be the least of Mr Balloon's problems!

Day 2232: DOCTOR WHO: Primeval


Daddy Alex is warning me about this, but I am going to let Daddy Richard do another review.

Cross my tusks and wish for luck!
For the last couple of weeks I have been walking through Bank tube station, on my way to work, past a couple of posters for "Coming Soon" ITV drama Primeval. On Friday, the day before the series was due to launch, and with the immaculate timing that only ITV seem able to achieve, these posters were replaced by ones of a woman in her knickers.

So was Primeval really pants?

Well, no… but it tried really hard to be.

Like last years ITC-wannabe pilot The Outsiders, it really struggled against its ITV-ness: a need to have rather bland, demographic-friendly characters who interact in entirely predictable ways and use dialogue as though it comes straight from a manual.

Although billed as "ITV's Doctor Who" it's really ITV's Torchwood – the small team of slightly anti-establishment "characters" investigating their own little magic door in time. (Add to the list of Star Trek crimes the introduction of the phrase "time-space anomaly" to the English language). But where Torchwood's problem is that all of the characters are turned up to eleven, Primeval has everyone set to mute.

There's the ruggedy slightly older one (leading man Professor Cutter); the nerdy one; the thinks-he's-so-cool one (actually, tragically, I suspect the writers think he's genuinely the cool one, rather than just the wears-the-leather-jacket-with-all-the-hair-care-products one); the not-too-threateningly-attractive-career-woman one; and the ditzy-but-brainy blonde one (who would actually be quite endearing if she wasn't paired with the "cute" flying dinosaur discovered by obligatory cute kid, Ben).

The basic premise – man meets dinosaurs coming though mystery door from the past – is good, and sets up plenty of room for spectacle and set-piece action especially since the special effects are up to the challenge.

The choice of monsters from the Permian, a Gorgonopsid and a Scutosaurus, seemed rather peculiar, though. If your USP is "Look! Dinosaurs!" you should stick some of the "classics" into your episode one. It may be clichéd, but there's a reason for that: people love to see those creatures. Why not a Stegosaurus and an Allosaurus, or – if you're feeling more Cretaceous than Jurassic – a Triceratops and everyone's favourite Tyrannosaurus Rex. It's almost as though the decision was dictated by the latest CGI models being the "Walking With Monsters" ones. Surely not…

But there seemed to be a basic sloppiness to the thinking about how to translate this idea to the screen.

Rather than sending, say, a group of game wardens or animal experts to investigate sightings of a "monster" in the Forest of Dean, the Home Office appears to have sent a single female civil servant whose strategy appears to be to wait in the hotel and see who tries to chat her up. So, on the whole, it's lucky for her that Professor Cutter arrives.

Mind you, Professor Cutter and his chums seem woefully unprepared for tracking a large and aggressive wild animal too. (They might not know it is a Permian-era therapid reptile, but they can see the damage it can do to truck and fencing). They aren't armed – which you could say is fair enough – but neither are they carrying any equipment with which to document the animal, in fact their only camera appears to be the one on the nerdy one's mobile phone.

We're told that the thinks-he's-so-cool one is a world class animal tracker, which maybe he is, maybe he isn't. But if he is, surely he'd resist the nerdy one being along with him to scare off all the animal life with his flapping around and complaints? Though, to be honest, why would a palaeontologist have an animal tracker as his assistant? It's not like the bones he's looking for a likely to go walking. (Well, okay, the premise of the series is that they do, but isn't it just too astoundingly handy that Cutter is tooled up for live dinosaurs in advance.)

Someone really needed to think about the logic of all this.

Surely it would have made more sense for lady-from-the-Home-Office to come to Cutter and say: "look, we think there's this thing that needs finding, and yes we know you're an expert in things that have been dead for millions of years, but we have reason to believe that you're still the right guy for the job. Oh did I not mention it's in the place your wife disappeared eight years ago."

Then the Home Office are behaving sensibly, and the coincidence-a-tron is not set to overload.

Cutter brings along his student – hence the nerdy one – and our animal tracker is supplied by the government as an expert hunter or possibly ex-army type. You can even play off that as an excuse for some internal tension in the team: Cutter and Mr thinks-he's-so-cool could play off each other rather than be improbable best buddies.

But we're thwarted again by the lazy stereotyping: the guys from the Home Office have to be bumbling civil servants™ and the rogue, independent team have to be the get-go guys.

The government ought to be in a position to throw resources at a problem like this (something that was another of Torchwood's problems – why are there only five of them?) and to be fair to Primeval they do seem to be getting this across towards the end of the episode, with a largish camp and soldiers surrounding the time portal. Of course their investigation technique seems to be a little slapdash: oh, let's just let a couple of guys wander though. Something a bit more methodical surely should be in order – try sticking a camera though first, perhaps? Establish that you can go though and come back. Set up some sort of camp on the other side and only then let the professor go wandering around looking for his wife.

Oh, and when the nerdy one realises that the doorway is closing, did no one think to stick their head though and shout "come back!"?

Ah, but Prof Cutter was on a quest to find his lost wife by that point. Cutter says that he'll do anything to find her. Except, you know, hang around in the Forest of Dean at all for the last eight years. How long did he spend looking for his wife the first time? Not very long it would seem. We discover at the end that this time portal thing comes and goes – clearly wifey went though and the door closed behind her. But then it must open up again on a fairly regular basis or there isn't going to be a series. So why wouldn't Cutter have found some evidence of something – not necessarily from the right time, but something – to make him keep searching until he found the portal?

Unless, of course, the portal is not a natural phenomenon at all, and someone is controlling it. That's plausible, from the way that his disappeared wife was able to leave him a little present and slip off into the night again at the end. Either that or she has impossibly good timing.

There were a couple of terribly weak comic moments, both derived from the "adults don't believe children" school of laughs: Ben's bedroom is torn to pieces by the Gorgonopsid and mum comes in and demands he tidy up the mess – "hello: half the wall missing and the bed chewed up!"; later it may be Ben or a different boy is in detention and sees the monster tracking towards the school – "There's a dinosaur in the playground miss!" (The fact this visual "gag" is a direct steal from Godzilla, down to the beast's tail flicking out of view just as the teacher turns her head, should tell you everything you need to know.)

And both of those moments lead into the other major failing: no one died.

Have you seen what the body count is in many episodes of Doctor Who? People get slaughtered and exterminated left right and centre. Primeval really pulled its punch on this.

There are in fact three deaths in the show: one unfortunate cow, discovered half-way up a tree; one unnamed gentleman, conveniently skeletonised many years before being discovered by the Professor on his jaunt to the Permian; and the unlucky Gorgonopsid itself.

But no people. No one we've met gets munched on. When the Gorgonopsid attacks the boy's bedroom, no one on the street comes out to see what's happening and get eaten for their troubles; the school is conveniently empty of tasty screaming children and teachers. Most improbably, even Mr thinks-he's-so-cool survives. When the hungry Gorgonopsid is trying to get into the classroom – and golly, don't they make those school doors tough these days – he lures it away using himself as live bait only to be cornered, knocked through a door and knocked unconscious. At which point the hungry monster that has been hunting him… loses interest. Phew.

But I'm painting you a picture that this was no good at all, and that's not right.

There was a lot of potential here, and much to enjoy. It's got a great deal of verve and does (just about) manage to overcome the ITV drag factor. The pacing was good, or at least it kept ticking over, though I'd have rather had more monsters for my buck (and your average Doctor Who episode would have left it standing). The directing of the action sequences generally top notch (give or take: the Gorgonopsid may have been changing size to enter the school, but the smash and grab raid on the boy's bedroom was Jurassic Park quality).

Several of the actors are worth mentioning for giving us something worth watching. Ben Millar is always watchable, even when required to be crapped on by an extinct species, and he invests his government trouble shooter character with a twitchy cynicism that is charmingly creepy. And there is also kudos for Andrew Lee Potts as "the nerdy one" (it's easy to say he's just Shaggy from Scooby Doo, but he invested a dumb script with some enthusiasm) and Hannah Spearritt as "the ditzy blonde one" (it needs a lot of natural charm to rise above having to be the one who acts with "Godzuki", especially when the script works even harder to make her look dumb: look, it tells her to take the rare and precious reptile she's just discovered out into the forest so she can lose it. Inspired!)

And the effects, as I said, were terrific. The CGI monsters looked great, hardly ever cartoon-y (except when running, really), and if you'll forgive the whole "pet dinosaur" thing, at least it looks convincing.

And the monsters are really what this is about so far, so tissue thin backstories about mysterious missing wives and clichéd motivation that has people doing things because it's the TV thing to do rather than because a real person would do them is really neither here nor there. It did, mostly, what it said on the tin, and I'm sure I'll give it another go next week, even with the prospect of giant creepy-crawlies.
Though, of course, it's rubbish compared to Doctor Who.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Day 2231: Big Beasts


Former BERSERK SAFETY ELEPHANT, Mr Charles Clarke, has given a speech to the LSE saying it is time to start charging for the NHS.

Has he gone MAD?

Has he got BIRD FLU?

Or has he been HIT BY A CAR and sent BACK IN TIME to the EIGHTIES?!?!?!

At the other end of the Labour food chain, captain of the CREEPY-CRAWLY club, Mr David Millipede, was on Questionable Time last night, being badgered by Mr David Dimbledonkey.

Watching Mr Millipede talk down to the audience it was clear that he was trying to recapture some of the MAGIC of the young Lord Blairimort. Compassion. Concern. Conscription. That sort of thing. The slightly pained expression at the terrible suffering that the government is inflicting. If only there was something he could do. It might work too, if it weren't for the fact that Mr Millipede works for the man responsible!

The first question was all about the huge media attention given whenever that nice but hard done by Mr Dr Reid calls down a terrorist raid in order to get himself out of a tight spot in the headlines keep us all safe in our beds!

Why DOES it need the Home Secretary to arrive in person, surrounded by a dozen armed police people surrounded by two dozen photographers and journalists to hear him muttering:

"We've caught them, my precious, caught them we have. Live and plumptious, like juicy fisheses, my precious…"

Lots of people get arrested without the Home Secretary turning up to take the credit personally.

Liberal Democrat Mr Hugs was on the panel, and he pointed out that this sort of LARGING IT UP in the limelight does incredible damage to the relationship between the police and the public.

And, he said, of nearly a thousand arrests made under the government's Terror Laws, only a hundred and twenty-some have been charged and a mere twenty-five convicted. If there are so VERY, VERY FEW actual convictions, why make such a VERY, VERY BIG fuss about all the arrests? Surely it is not just to TERRIFY THE BEJEZUS out of everyone!

Slowly and patronisingly, oozing sincerity like snake oil, Mr Millipede explained that the reason the government was sending in huge armies of TERROR POLICE to tear up local communities was because the most important thing was to protect those communities on the ground.

"Get on the GROUND! Get on the GROUND!" as the terror police shout at any terrorist or bookshop worker they happen to apprehend.

"Squish them and squash them, my precious," the Home Secretary may choose to interject, should he be around for a photo-op.

Mr Millipede tried on the sorrowful look that Lord Blairimort used to use when he was going to say something particularly outrageous.

"Mr Hugs ought to think on the fact that we can't have liberty and security," said Mr Millipede like he didn't know this was a cliché in the time of Benjamin Franklin.

Fortunately Ms Salma Yaqoob was there to point out that this was total piffle. Security only comes through liberty, she said. Giving people freedom reinforces the ties of community that are the only real route to security.

"The more you tighten your grip, Governor Millipede, the more star systems will slip through your fingers!" added, er, Princess Leia.

Huge applause for Mr Hugs and Ms Yakult. Dead Silence for Mr Millipede. I'm sure it didn't used to be that way for Lord Blairimort.

Still it was SIGNIFICANT to see that Mr Millipede is clearly trying to turn on the CHARM. Perhaps there is some sort of LEADERSHIP CONTEST in the offing, who can tell? He has even allowed someone to persuade him to shave off that BUM-FLUFF beard his has been trying to grow for the last twelve months!

Mr Dimbledonkey, on the other hand, had a completely different tree to bark up. He was convinced that he had caught Mr Millipede in some nonsense "gaffe".

(Even though my chum, top Liberal Democrat party animal, Mr Councillor Stephen Tall, has got there first with this story, I DID write my diary BEFORE seeing that!)

The question was whether it wasn't long past time that Lord Blairimort had been put in prison out to pasture. Mr Millipede was saying that a lot of the stick that Lord Blairimort gets is only because he is the man in charge, and a lot of people will feel the same way about Mr Frown for no better or worse reason than he has taken over.

"People will be saying 'wouldn't it be great to have that Blairimort back because we can't stand that Gordon Frown'."

"Ah ha!" says Mr Donkey, "so you think Mr Frown is as bad as Lord Blairimort!"

This is just a game of trying to trip up the politician. It is playing with the words he used to try and get some other meaning out. And it is the sort of thing that makes parties turn their politicians into ROBOTS.

Journalists are the FIRST to complain that our politicians are all the same, bland and boring, and that there are no CHARACTERS any more. Well if you journalists are going to jump up and down on the heads of anyone who express themselves in poetic or colourful or just FUN language then WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN?

It is QUITE CLEAR that Mr Millipede meant that Lord Blairimort gets a lot of flak JUST for being PM and the same would apply to anyone.

OBVIOUSLY that means that MR Millipede is DELUSIONAL.

But the point to put to him is that lots of people have COMPLETELY LEGITIMATE reasons to think that Lord Blairimort is a liar and a criminal and not fit to serve COFFEE in the House of Commons.

You should challenge Mr Millipede on his BLANDISHMENTS; his sweeping ASSERTIONS that seek to excuse any faults of the PM; and his apparent preference to blame the ELECTORATE for Lord B turning out to be as trustworthy as Jeffrey Archer, as honest as Jonathan Aitken and as incorruptible as Neil Hamilton. All in one.

But don't try and imply he was making some coded criticism of Mr Frown.

Just as BOGUS was the whole idea of privatising the NHS, which was the kite that the retired safety elephant was flying on the Newsnight show.

Could it be that he really thought it was a good idea to start letting people going into hospital pay to be upgraded to FIRST CLASS?

My fluffy brain is not very good at thinking about these WEIGHTY ISSUES. So I have concentrated very hard to think about a simple example.

Some people have suggested using money as a way to discourage FRIVOLOUS use of the NHS's limited resources. The idea is to get people to pay a deposit, say a tenner, if they want to make a doctor's appointment. Your GP can refund you your money when you attend.

It MIGHT stop some people skipping appointments, I suppose. But it also seems that it would need a lot of stuff to make it work – how can you get a deposit over the phone from a person without a debit or credit card? You can't go having doctors handing out tenners, that would be a risk to them, not to mention silly. Not to mention the way that people often don't so much MISS their appointments but – what with being sick AND having to cope with public transport – arrive five minutes late and are told that they've lost their place.

Of course if you just CHARGE people a tenner, that's a lot easier… except of course it is BASICALLY a tax on being ILL. A bit like those eye and dental check up charges that we want to abolish.

Mr Clarke had a wheeze about getting the money off of people's insurance. So that would be people who've paid their tax for the NHS already AND paid their insurance too then get an insurance hit so their premiums go up AGAIN – that's pretty much triple taxing the people who are being GOOD and insuring themselves. Nice plan, fatty.

Had the safety elephant thought all this through?

No of course not: this was an exercise in creating HEADLINES not policies, and – ooh look – mission accomplished!

"Clarke backs NHS charging" wails the Grauniad.

"Let's charge for NHS and schools" trumpets the Hellograph.

Just like Mr Steven "Pants on" Byers last August floating the idea of abolishing Inheritance Tax, all this unspeakable in pursuit of the unthinkable is about putting Lord Blairimort on the front page and putting Mr Balloon in a real BIND.

Deftly, Mr Clarke slipped his size-twelve stiletto in:

"The Labour are willing to consider all the options to keep Britain's services working. The Conservatories don't have any policies at all."

This is Lord Blairimort's defence against TRIANGULATION. What is Mr Balloon supposed to do? If he comes up with a nice, tame, safe, non-barking health policy – okay, BIG if, if he comes up with a policy – but if he does, people will say: but why are you being LESS RADICAL than this person in the Labour? And if he comes up with something to the right of the safety elephant, well he's a nutty nut-nut Conservatory again, right?

From Lord Blairimort's point of view it is WIN-WIN. The media cannot attack HIM for being bonkers-in-the-nut. Yet he has succeeded in outflanking Mr Balloon on BOTH FLANKS. SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Cunning, eh.

What does Mr Clarke get out of engineering this apparent train wreck? It is CRASH for PEERAGES?

Or does he believe that Lord Blairimort can use his MAGIC SPIN to conjure up the 41 signatures it would need for the safety elephant to challenge Mr Frown for the leadership?

"Look, Charles… you make yourself look an idiot do me a favour and… you know… I'll allow you to make yourself look an idiot do me another favour… how does that sound?"

"Will there be pies?"

"Well, uh huh, of course."

"Count me in, Lord B!"

BEASTLY, isn't it.