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Monday, June 28, 2010

Am I taking crazy pills?

I thought we were all in this together and that Mr. Osborne's austerity budget was sharing the pain equally between independent wealthy baronets (eg, George Osborne), parents with school fees to pay (Diane Abbott) and unemployed single mothers (Fergie). In particular, I thought that we in the private sector would at last see some trimming of the fat in the public sector.

some of Whitehall’s finest are “bewildered” and “appalled” by the appointment of TV presenter and management guru Kris Murrin as head of the PM’s implementation unit. Formerly of the ?What If! consultancy, she co-wrote a book of the same name. It talks about creative behaviours including “freshness, greenhousing and realness”. She also goes in for role playing, where people are asked to pretend they are beansprouts and oil in a wok. Well, you can see why Whitehall is concerned, can’t you?

Taxpayers might be concerned too. Ms Murrin is now a civil servant paid between £82,900 and £150,000 – Number 10 will not be more specific... her pay is probably nearer £150,000 than £82,900 (who says austerity begins at home).

[From / Columnists / Sue Cameron's Notebook - Oil spill threat to Whitehall plans]

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss tra la la la la...

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Standpoint magazine opens with a robust editorial this month, discussing the spongiform amorality of an exclusively liberal elite sustained by the public purse, an intellectual class that has atrophied into a caste.

Indeed, and the ramifications are genuinely terrible, because the behaviour of that elite has been encouraged across society in order to normalise it. If you're a millionaire rock star, television celebrity or politician then having affairs, divorces, children with different partners and so forth really doesn't matter: you can afford to pay and to send the kids to good schools and support them. But for the rest of society it is devastating and it's the taxpayer who foots the bill. I really don't care how many children Mick Jagger has and by how many women -- good luck to him, since command over female fertility has been a goal of the "big man" since we came down from the trees -- but I do care about the countless near-feral children cast into these circumstances up and down the country.

I was thinking about this because of the case of Shannon Matthews. As you will remember, this is a truly terrible case that involved a woman with seven different children by five different fathers who social workers said was unable to prioritise the needs of her children above her own sexual needs. And yet they let her keep the children -- despite the risk of abuse of many kinds -- and didn't provide advice about contraception until she'd had her sixth child. The truly shaming aspect of the case is that...

"We see the kind of parenting Karen provided fairly commonly. We are looking at a fairly common problem."

[From Shannon Matthews inquiry clears social workers | UK news | The Guardian]

How come the liberal elite are enthusiastic supporters of three strikes and you're out for people who download pop songs but not for people who carry out sustained and deliberate child abuse? Surely people who can't provide their kids with a certain basic level of care have no right to keep them.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bleakley house

According to the newspapers, Christine Bleakley is being tempted to move from BBC to ITV by an offer of a million pound salary. For those of you unfamiliar with dreary early-evening television, Christine Bleakley is one of the hosts of The One Show, a dull BBC1 "magazine" programme. Ms. Bleakley is better known as the girlfriend of the noted association footballer Mr. Frank Lampard (otherwise known as the "Where's Wally" of the England World Cup team).

Now, when I read about this proposed transfer, I thought it was a good news story. The BBC would save her salary -- I couldn't care less if ITV want to pay her ten million pounds per year -- and could go out an find another young woman from the regions to take her place (there cannot possibly be a shortage). I was a little disappointed at the end of the story to discover it was mere speculation -- presumably put about by her agents or negotiators -- and that her salary continues to be paid by hard-pressed licence fee payers such as me. Surely it is time to introduce a salary cap at the BBC: if presenters were capped at, let's say, the same salary as the Prime Minister (they'd not starve, as they can make plenty of money writing books, being in Hello magazine, running production companies and that sort of thing) then everyone would know where they stood and there would be a splendid stability to the TV world. Young and cheap presenters would compete to work for the BBC and then once they've become established but want more cash then they can sod off to ITV, thus keeping the BBC fresh and (importantly) performing a socially useful function. Everyone's happy.

[UPDATE] I went back to check something and it turns out the story is true! Well done BBC. The search is now for an attractive young woman with -- I would guess -- a Scottish or Welsh accent and the ability to read an autocue for £100K per annum.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Saturday, June 19, 2010


I was listening to Johnnie Walker's "Sounds of the 70s" on the plane earlier and he said something like "does anyone remember Dylan at Blackbushe in 1978?" Do I!! I can say without a shadow of a doubt that not only can I remember it, I remember it as one of the happiest days of my entire life! It wan't just Dylan, but Dylan and Clapton, a perfect day that finished with us running out of petrol on the M3 at 4am. On the show, when people emailed in their memories, the sttendance was reported as a quarter of a million! Could this be right? They also said Joan Armatrading and Graham Parker were there, which I didn't remember at all so I went and googled it and sure enough they were there, although I genuinely have no memory of them at all. There's a Blackbushe Festival site that has a few pictures and I looked them and began to wonder about how our kids will look back on things like that: not with warm, fuzzy, hazy memories of a great time but through the prism of the interweb, with detailed text, pictures, video on Flickr and Facebook. Isn't it better to -- sometimes -- not be able to remember things properly?

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Acquaintances reunited

Well, I signed up for my 30 year university reunion and I'll be going along in September. It's going to be fun to catch up with people, of course, but I have a slight worry that it's going to be a little sad too, because all of the great memories I have of most of these particular people are of them when they were young (that includes me, too!) and I wonder if seeing them all in their fifties will plunge me into mid-life crisis. It's definitely a risk. Perhaps there's some kind of insurance policy?.

Anyway, having agreed to it, I've realised that I've now only three months to lose weight and get a better job. Oh, the pressure.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]