More evidence in Toryland

Seriously - I am worried now. My mind is closing every day - just more evidence I am turning into a Tory.
Took a trip into Oxford today to have a Sunday stroll around Christchurch Meadow with the family (very middle class and very pleasant) and a visit to the vastly underrated Modern Art Oxford.
But there was a problem. The exhibition by Karla Black wasn't my cup of tea.
No problem with that you might think. But it's not just that it wasn't my cup of tea it was the righteous indignation it stirred within my soul.
As I looked at the pile of pink chalk dust on the floor and the scraps of torn and scribbled paper hanging from the ceiling I had a burst of anger. Then a thought seeped into my brain: "How does anyone make money from this crap?"

Why bring it back to money? I've never felt like that before. If I've not liked something before I've thought 'horses for courses' and trudged away thinking about those sad teenage years when I would fail to see the sailing boat in the magic eye pictures.
Suddenly it's all about the bottom line.
I'm frightened to take my pants off at night in case my pubic hair is turning blue.

Am I coming out as a Tory?

I like telly - it's been the subject of previous blogs. I particularly like sci-fi/fantasy style TV shows in the ilk of BSG, Lost, Harper's Island etc etc. I also have no objection to TV programmes showing the seedier side of life and people making the beast with two backs.
So it seemed only natural to get into True Blood - a series about vampires starring the extremely attractive young lady who played Rogue in the X-Men.

But when I watch it I feel a curious sensation. Is this just too seedy for me?
There is a huge quantity of nooky - most of it rough - but that's ok.
But then there's the misogyny. Women seem to be little more than objects. Not objects of desire even, or even a mark on the bedpost, just something to do - literally most of the time.
I am watching it with unease and sense of moral outrage and it hits me. I am old. I have two children and it has changed my view on life completely.
That the women gain some vengeance by the end and assert their independence meant little to me - I was on a moral crusade by the end.
I am worried I might be coming a Conservative (yes that's right - with a capital C)Worst feeling ever.

Blog Action Day

I have just registered my support for Blog Action Day.
The power of the net and its potential to do good never ceases to amaze me and the more digging I do the more I am convinced that it could become a great tool for positive change.
Of course, it needs a wee bit of tidying up and snagging but the potential is massive.
Anyway, don't just take my word for it, check this out:

and the follow this link

Freedom of speech

It's such an important concept in the modern world. It protects the have-nots from those who wish to take advantage of a position of authority, be it celebrity, politics and finance.

That a major company (Trafigura) tried to twist our laws to prevent a question asked in the Houses of Parliament sickens me. That they succeeded for almost 24 hours makes it even worse.

Thank god for the power of Twitter

One of the foremost Tweeters on this subject was Stephen Fry - yes that Fry. The one from Fry and Laurie, QI, Jeeves and Wooster and Wilde. He has more than 800,000 people following him on Twitter and that is a lot of exposure.

It is a triumph of social networking that a comedian - albeit an extremely erudite and well educated comedian - has the power to overthrow a terrible decision taken to protect a firm that should be open to public scutiny.

Oh Dear George

Let me get this right. We're in a recession, you're planning our way out and yet think that a £3bn error in a £13bn prediction is "presentational". My maths may not be amazing - similar to yours - but I would say that you were about 23 per cent out there.

I'm not confident. Come on Green Party make a bloody effort.

I love YouTube

It has to be one of the greatest inventions ever.
I had a shabby day at work today - problems with my hangover management meant it was hard to concentrate on the easiest of tasks and and the moment I don't have any easy tasks anyway.
So onto the world's biggest video-sharing site for a teeny tickle of the humour bones.

A few clips later and the world seemed a much brighter place. Take this for example:

Does it get any better than people who think their 'ard being silly-billies for all to see?

Or how about this?

The genius that is Eddie Izzard combined with lego animation.

Or last but not least, an amazingly gifted editor posted this

Web 2.0 might have given morons and show-offs a stage but there is a wealth of top material out there too.

It was The Sun wot won it...

..for Labour in 1997. Or at least so they claimed. If I remember rightly the famously Tory paper switched sides just as the election propaganda was drawing to a close and claimed to have been the deciding factor when Blair stormed to Downing Street.

Now they claim to be doing it again for Cameron. But of course, anyone with any brains were putting their money on Labour in '97 - the Tories were tired and on the ropes long before The Sun changed colours. It was a miracle that Major had managed to see off Kinnock four years earlier (apparantly The Sun won that one too) and after four bad years the '97 election was a formality.

The Sun isn't a political leader as it claims, it's a follower but is shameless in its self-promotion. Are the editor deluded or calculated? Difficult to say but I have little doubt that top dog Rebekah Wade is a sharp operator having learned the trade under Piers Morgan and learned from his mistakes.

All I can say is get stuffed Sun. Labour may well not win the next election but that will not be down to your shameless editorials.

Why oh why?

This story caught my attention today for the sheer horrific brutality of it.

As a journalist I shouldn't use adjectives of course but as a parent and, above, all a human being, this has shocked me.

To my eternal shame, I used to work for the Daily Mail. I say shame because I despise the editorial stance of scaremongering and othering but my reaction to this story and what this family had to suffer is right up there with the Mail.

String 'em up I say. And I find myself calling for heads within the police force that failed the family so badly - and that is from someone who rails against the scapegoat generation we have become.

But sometimes, just sometimes, perhaps a strong response is justified. Maybe I'll write to my MP but I'm sure he's too busy rubbishing the Government to do much about it.

Restoring faith

A colleague tried to restore my faith in football and football fans today.

I'm not sure it worked but I had to admire his stance. He holds a senior position, involving countless admin-heavy meetings, and relishes the opportunity to do something so different having been in the restraining strait-jacket of management.

It's a good point. Football is a release - the shouting, highs and lows of support and the camaraderie with all around you can be extremely cathartic.

But he is one of the lucky few. His club hasn't been sullied by the money of the Premier League, which attracts trophy chasers and, as he supports Plymouth, away fans have to be into the football and not just the shouting to go there.

He's lucky but I'm not convinced and I'm planning to be at Welford Road for Christmas and not Pride Park.

All hail David Mitchell

David Mitchell: Pointless studies are the key to evolution | Comment is free | The Observer

This is why David Mitchell is such a welcome addition to our comedy scene.
It is difficult to be on our airwaves every five minutes and remain fresh and, above else else, retain credibility. But our David achieves this and I have the survey results to prove it.


The annoying thing about football . . .

. . . is the fans. They're supposed to be the best thing about the game in England if you listen to Match of the Day or Talksport or any of the sychophants on our airwaves.

Why oh why won't anyone tell it how it is? OK so Adebayor was not clever sprinting to his former club's fans and sliding to his knees in celebration after scoring a goal but then again they had treated him like a paedophile at a school's PGA meeting for the best part of an hour.

Apparently if a former idol slides to his knees in celebration it is then beyond the ability of any football to show restraint. Oh no, not them. It is perfectly acceptable to respond by trying to inflict serious injury on said striker by lobbing coins, bananas and chairs at his head. For God's sake grow up you muppets.

I haven't been to a football match for 12 months after I watched Derby County v Reading. A trio of my own club's fans (for I support Derby) felt it was OK to stand for 90 minutes with their middle fingers extended towards the Hoops' fans. And these guys were in their 40s.

Not for me. Rugby has its problems at the moment but at least the fans can behave like human beings and not a pack of dogs.

I can't help it.....

I love TV. I watch so much.

I love it all. I watch quality stuff like The Wire and box sets of Spaced and The Mighty Boosh and I hard drive documentaries like Man on Wire or Folk America (although they currently sit there unwatched).

But then there's the mediocre stuff I watch like Lost, Waking The Dead and Battlestar Galactica

And then there's the stuff which is enjoyable and trashy like Harper's Island, Heroes and Reaper.

And then there's the stuff I'm hooked on like endless repeats of Scrubs and Friends.

Then there's the stuff my wife is hooked on and I pretend not to enjoy but secretly do like Location, Location, Location, Grand Designs and Property Ladder.

And I haven't even mentioned films.

Last week in a joyous moment I spurned TV and read and lo, it was good. I read The Gargoyle and it made me remember why I love to read and why novels like Cloud Atlas, Jane Ayre, Life of Pi, Birdsong and Catch 22 are an important part of my life.

Hey, telly's good too. Don't get me wrong - I think it's an important part of modern culture it's just that now I'm watching a double bill of Friends while working on the laptop and silently loathing myself for it.


OK - here's the thing. All summer I have had time to both exercise my self into heaven and prepare work for the start of the university year.

It's human nature I suppose to postpone things a little but unfortunately I postponed things a lot and I mean A LOT. So know I am working crazy days - the only respite is the commute to and from work - and atrophying from the lack of exercise.

The only thing that is keeping me going is the knowledge that next year it WILL be different and that eventually I will be allowed to go running again.

Still - a student did introduce me to the foul-mouthed delights of Boro Pat today so I'll share that with you as well (not for the faint hearted)

The future of the country

At last the university is full of students again and it is such a different place already.
Full of hope and fun and enthusiasm. It's great seeing students at this stage and wondering which of them will end up running the country or being the next big tv star.
I had a lecture with some first years today on their first full day and I probably found it more exciting than them. Already it's making the mind-bending trawl through higher eductaion's many layers of beauraucracy seem almost worthwhile. Note the word almost though because I am not sure many things are worth that.

Maybe they weren't excuses

After blogging last night I felt worse and worse and awoke this morning to feel like I'd been beaten with baseball bats.

Maybe my reasons for a poor showing at Woodstock 12 were just that - reasons. It seems I hadn't got over my cold at all and now have a soaring temperature and stiffness everywhere but my legs.

While I feel rubbish it is good to know I'm not as bad at my hobby and passion as I feared.

Still got a shed load of work to do for tomorrow though so I'd best knuckle down.

Blowing up

First blog and already a negative one.

Took part in the Woodstock 12 today - a 12 mile run in the grounds of Blenheim Palace and I had high hopes of achieving about 1hr 30mins but due to plenty of extenuating factors ran 1hr 43. The last mile took me 14 minutes which is a shocker.

The extenuating factors - aka excuses - include having a cold all week, the weather being staggeringly hot for the middle of September, losing a toenail halfway round and being generally rubbish.

After 8 miles I was going like a train and planning a smug blog with tips for successful running. After 10 I was being passed to fat blokes who kept patting me and tell me to keep going.

The only good to come out of this is that it was a Saturday run and I have two days to get over it before going back to work to welcome the students back on Monday. Got a feeling I'll still be hobbling but I hope they'll take pity on me anway.