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October 4th, 2009


11:30 am - At last...the truth!
Once in a while you read something and keep going yes, yes, yes...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/oct/04/sel-help-books-boom-cadwalladr

Highlights:
Alain de Botton's comments on how 'elite culture' has lost the plot
Oliver James' attack on neo-liberalism
Ben Goldacre's comments (hilarious)
and finally the author's own conclusion about what really CAN improve your life.

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October 3rd, 2009


08:43 pm - That Dinner Lady/Skipping Rope scandal - missing the point
There's been a lot written in the papers about the case of Carol Hill, the sacked dinner lady. If you remember, Ms Hill was fired by the school governors after telling parents that she'd intervened to help their little girl, who'd been tied up to a fence with a skipping rope by some boys in her class. The parents had merely been told that she'd been hurt in a 'skipping rope incident.'
Clearly the whole case is appalling, and my sympathies are entirely with the wronged Ms Hill. But the tone of the press has all been about 'the death of common sense' and 'political correctness gone mad'. They are missing the point. It's nothing of the sort - its just a nasty old-fashioned cover-up due to vested interests.
It is also about the increasing power that governors and parents have over school policy - a process started by by the Tories back in 1988. The simple and sordid truth is that one of the bullies was the child of one of the parent governors. It was the governors - who dictate school policy and budgets, and do the hiring and firing - that hushed up the initial assault and subsequently sacked the dinner lady. The head teacher, meanwhile, was young and inexperienced, and was not able to stand up to the board.
And ironically, it is same commentators now shouting about the inquities of this incident that also tend to clamour for more 'parent power' in schools.
In my experience, both as a child and as an adult, this would be a disaster. The chilled, normal parents are normally far too busy with their own lives to poke their noses into school matters - its the busybodies and frustrated tinpot dictators (grown up playground bullies, in fact) that bustle down to the school hall of an evening to throw their weight around.
If there's one lesson that Skipping Rope Gate should teach us, it's that the old ways of local authority control might not have been so stupid after all.

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September 12th, 2009


11:59 am - Opinions sought...
Who has read Stieg Larsson? If so, what did you think?

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August 31st, 2009


11:30 pm - Getting It Really, Really Wrong...Woof!
Ok, so my dad is a professor of medicine...big science dude, in other words.
And, one night recently, at a big family supper (during a discussion about ligers and tigons) it emerged that he had always believed...that lions belonged to the dog family.
Not only that, but he had taught this Fact to any number of students.
Jaws dropped all around the table, even his tiniest grandchildren gazed at him in stunned amazement. Luckily we had the internet to back us up, he's a stubborn old cuss and he would have taken a hell of a lot of convincing otherwise...

So, who has found themselves in a similar situation?

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July 12th, 2009


10:19 pm - Is it so much to ask?
I'm looking for a good girl-group compilation to buy as a present.
As far as I'm concerned, it's *got* to have, at the very least, Be my little baby (Ronettes), Will you still love me tomorrow (Shirelles) and at least two tracks by the Shangri-Las (ideally including Give Him A Great Big Kiss).
Dumb Head by Ginny Arnell is a long-shot as she wasn't a group, but obviously a tremendous bonus. It's awesome, take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJKkxJqEaYc

Anyway, I can't even find anything that includes both the Ronettes and the Shangri-las. WHY?
I can't do a download compilation as it's a present. Grrr.

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July 11th, 2009


12:00 pm - Nature is red in tooth and claw but parents never forget
Let me tell you a family saga of domestic tragedy, drama and horror that has been unfolding over this balmy west London summer.
It all began a few weeks ago, when we were woken at around 6.30am by frantic squawking - it turned out to be a young fledgling blackbird that had left the nest too early, and was lying prone in the road unable to fly away. The parents were fluttering around, terribly upset.
We picked it up (or it would have got run over) and as we were all leaving for work/school, gave it to a neighbour who was at home that day. On RSPB advice, he put it in his front garden for the parents to find...and all seemed well, for the parents happily began to feed it again. But then, at around 4pm, another neighbour heard a terrific kerfuffle. A magpie had got the baby and was eating it; the parent blackbirds were desperately divebombing and attacking, to no avail.
All the people in our street who had united to try to save the baby were distraught but of course that was nothing compared to the bereaved parents. They have stayed together, at least, but their grief has made them lairy and reckless: they are constantly getting into fights with other wildlife and we often see one or the other looking battered with head or tailfeathers askew, after yet another back-garden brawl.
But what really gets them going is the magpie. After all these weeks, they still have not forgotten. Every time he comes anywhere near the neighbourhood, they go completely beserk. Last Saturday they spent the whole day fighting him off, dive-bombing him furiously and making the most enormous racket.
I have to admire their courage and spirit, and I hope they live to see another spring and build another nest.

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July 9th, 2009


08:21 pm - How embarrassing...
...I only realised, when I read it in the paper two days ago, that Torchwood is an anagram of Doctor Who...

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June 27th, 2009


05:45 pm - What would Lord Peter say?
Any Wimsey fans out there might remember that Lord P sometimes used to take lucky ladies to Le Boulestin...it was one of the most fashionable restaurants in London in the late 20s and early 30s...it was still around until the mid-90s, I went there on my birthday once, had some fantastic smoked haddock I remember.
Anyway, I was up in Covent Garden last weekend and happened to notice that it is now a sodding PIZZA HUT. I mean, even Pizza Express would have been slightly less depressing.

Note to self: intermittent blogging has been very moany recently... resolve to make next post a Pollyannaish, cheerful and upbeat one.

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June 8th, 2009


05:30 pm - 943,598
That's the total number of fucking racist bastards in this country who voted BNP. Unbelievable. I'm so angry. I don't care if there's a recession, I don't care if people haven't got jobs, that's still no excuse for racism. Some milquetoast Tory was making mealy-mouthed excuses for BNP voters last night. "Oh they don't really agree with the racist policies, it's just a protest vote," blah blah bollocks.

And another thing. So, you're a voter, and you're quite understandably furious with the corrupt and greedy politicians, bankers and capitalists who caused this recession in the first place. So what do you do, do you turn your back on it all by voting Green. No, you vote in the bankers' bessie mates in the Tory party. You know, the rich ones with the directorships and the floating duck islands on the lovely clean moat that you paid for. WTF?

....at least the swing to the right in the late 70s and 80s could be explained as a reaction to the reactionary/luddite tendencies of trade unionism. This time, it's totally irrational. It's not just here, all over Europe this was happening.
AAAAAAAAAAARGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH. I'm too old. I already had to put up with this right wing crap in the 80s. Why is it happening again?

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June 7th, 2009


11:29 pm - 120,139....
The number of people who voted BNP in Yorkshire and Humber, thus sending an MEP to shame us all in Brussels. I thought better of them.

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