The Breast Things In Life Are Free Publicity

It's usual for our local free sheets to have fawning restaurant reviews (generous portions, attentive service, complimentary authentic decor) right next to a half page ad for the establishment in question. It's not impressive and unlike the food found in the critique, it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. Yet, it's understandable given the dependence on advertising revenue that such publications don't mention the mouse droppings in the kitchen and the soup like fudge.

For paid for newspapers, however, the situation should be different and journalistic integrity should be to the fore.

Therefore, today's article in the Liverpool Echo by Susan Lee must have been as a result of an in depth probing of the subject of the story, and not as the cynical may say, merely copied from the P.R. lady's leaflet.

The story - I Got New Boobs To Help Me Beat The Credit Crunch - immediately leaps out at the reader. The story centres around one Kimm Barber-O'Reilly (no relation to The Who song), who bares her soul, if not her breasts:

  • “I was made redundant earlier this year and it completely floored me,” recalls the 45-year-old mother-of-one. “I had built a career in the beauty industry and losing my job really knocked my confidence. I had a property abroad and that had to go, too.
So, what did you do, Kimm?
  • “I thought about it, realised I was going to start afresh, and needed to look my best.” She underwent breast augmentation the results with which she says she is ‘thrilled’.
Well, that'll help with the job hunting. After all some men are shallow.

  • She has also started a new job with cosmetic surgery specialists Transform, based at a clinic in Crosby.
Congratulations! Cosmetic, you say?
  • Transform, the country's biggest provider of breast augmentations, has seen a 28% increase in boob jobs in the last two years
Tell me more!
  • A clinic manager for Transform, she isn’t surprised that credit crunches have no effect on bookings.

    “People are feeling depressed. There’s enough misery around and they want to make the best of themselves and improve their lives.

    “Nowhere is that more true than in Liverpool. Women here want to look and feel good and will always want to find ways to bounce back.”

    She says she is seeing a lot of bookings for facial work, either full surgery or work around the eyes.

    “I think we’re all conscious of looking older and, particularly if jobs are on the line, it’s difficult if we feel we’re competing with younger people.”

    For more details on Transform telephone: 0151-931 6930.

That name again, is Mr. Plow.

Confused at Manchester

I thought the intro to Brown's speech - using a soundtrack of Higher and Higher - was bizarre. It reminded me of two things: a Darts match entrance and Jocky Wilson, the Scots player immortalised by Dexys as background to their TV performance of Jackie Wilson Said.

All's Not Well With Attwell

Saturday's result against the Posh of Peterborough (now thankfully free of threats from Mrs Beckham over copyright) was one we would have settled on before K.O. but there's always a disappointment when squandering a 2 goal lead in true Tranmere fashion.

The bizarre happenings at Watford, where the visitors, Reading were awarded a goal when the ball was closer to the corner flag than the goal line. The video was on Youtube but seems to have been removed due to pressure from The Football League, and no doubt the referee, Stuart Attwell (aged 25) will be subject to sanctions whilst the FA and FL make money out of end of season blooper DVDs.

However, it is still here.

What I'm annoyed at is the fact that most of the flak appears to be directed at the young ref rather than the linesman (assistant referee/flag production manager). The Mirror, in its paper edition leads - albeit on page 25 - with ' He doesn't shoot...he scores anyway' and goes on to inform us that Attwell escaped the attention of the tabloid hounds and 'went on holiday.'

Online, Alistair Grant salivates, 'Calamity ref Stuart Attwell and his hapless sidekick Nigel Bannister will be carpeted by referees' chiefs after making one of the worst blunders in football history.'

Well, surely there's some fair play left in sport notwithstanding the high stakes? Ah, no this is professionalism. Remember that when you inadvertently touch the cue ball at pool and hope the opponent didn't notice; it is just the hallmark of a professional.

Steve Coppell, Reading manager, was quoted as saying that when playing cricket he was first to walk without waiting for the umpire's finger. I don't doubt Coppell's honesty. He was a true professional and I am privileged to have seen many of his games for Tranmere Rovers, before he was stolen by the behemoths of Manchester United. He has also suggested replaying the game.

As football fans we are biased; we should not be relied upon to be objective, in the same way as murder victims' families should not be on juries. Our tribal instincts take over. We cast a Nelson telescope to our rose-coloured spectacles and see no offside until we want to.

In 2000, the Mighty Whites of TRFC received a charitable donation from referee Rob Harris in our cup game with Sunderland. Having sent off Clint Hill (not a singular occurrence) we (ahem) forgot to bring off a player as we made a substitution. Did we complain about our breach of rules? No, we sat in the pub praying that John Aldridge would take legal counsel before giving his post-match interview.

Similarly, did the hosts of the 1966 World Cup and supporters demand the upholding of the English sense of fair play when the Azerbajhan (or Russian) linesman, Tofik Bakhramov signalled that Hurst had scored? Who now remembers the name of the Swiss referee?

They won't be erecting a statue for Attwell in his hometown of Nuneaton. Nor will they be doing the same for the actual linesman, Neil Bannister. If you're going to make a mistake, do it big.

Noel is Coming, Mr Blobby's Getting Fat

It's that time of the year. Christmas is Banned stories begin to appear allowing the prophets of doom to shout out about how this once GREAT country has gone to the dogs. (see Enemies of Reason for more).

On top of that we now have the first Noel; the initial salvos from the battle for the sanity of the annoying host of Deal or No Deal and lover of Mr. Blobby.

Not only is he a follower of cosmic ordering (you write down your dreams on a piece of paper like a child writing to santa and those dreams come true), he is now himself followed around by two melon-sized orbs (which are his dead parents). I don't know about you but I do have visions of Patrick McGoohan being chased on The Prisoner along the Portmeiron shore.

This is par for the course with the gnomemeister. On his addictive quiz game for gamblers, he constantly allows erroneous statistical analysis (Student X has had £100,000 in his box for 2 shows running so cannot have it for a third) to masquerade as fact, whilst peddling the belief that using 'positivity' and chanting blue, blue, blue can alter what is in a pre-chosen box. You have to 'believe' like glitter-eyed children urging Tinkerbel to survive.

In a move akin to his fellow ex-Radio 1 Dj Mike Read, Noel has kindly shared his political and moral belefs with us. It may be too late to run for mayor, but maybe Barnbrook is looking for a mini-me to deputise while he stomps around Cologne with his Euro mates.

  • "I'm a very tolerant person and I'm open to new ideas" but.....
  • (the time has come to say) "enough is enough" and bar immigrants from coming to Britain. "I'm very straightforward on immigration. The bus is full,"
  • "We haven't got enough energy, we haven't got enough electricity, we haven't got enough of a health service." (he said from France)
  • (on not paying the TV Licence that used to fund him) "Auntie's put boxing gloves on. I'm so incensed by the idea that I'm guilty of something that I actually cancelled my licence fee a few months ago,"
  • "The politicians – and I'm talking about Gordon Brown – have had their day," he said. "They've had their chance to do it and look at the mess we're now in."
(Perhaps we should send in Noel as Lord Protector.)

Brian Reade in the Mirror echoed my thoughts about cosmic ordering whren he wrote,

  • So how come two years after writing that I wanted all smug oompah-loompahs with sub-Chuckle Brothers' sense of humour, blow-waved hair and trimmed beard, who achieved fame through partnering an irritating, pink blob (Keith Chegwin), removed from our telly screens, it hasn't happened?
I think it was Monty Python that referred to radio other than Radio 1 as radio for those of us that have completed the process of evolution. Look out for Edmonds on creationism in the near future, or a line of stationery for you to write your wishes on......just in time for Christmas - assuming that it doesn't get banned again.

Now, where did I put Oliver Cromwell's mobile number?

One of the most repulsive sights on our daily news is footage of the Wall Street Markets being started by grinning executives and favourites of capitalist's finest on top of the exchanges below.
When the above photo of Lehman Bros glitterati was taken less than 12 months ago, they could be forgiven for smug, self-satisfied smiles. So, what is it with those seeking 15 seconds of fame on rolling news? They stand there like star-struck attendees at the corporate box of a Barry Manilow concert.

Funny how people are still throwing insults at socialists while pleading for state intervention.

Spiders And The Light Near The End Of The Tunnel

Following on from the story about the lightship on the Mersey comes news that the historic one, Planet appears to be have been saved. The Liverpool Echo reports that,
  • Planet’s owner Gary McClarnan has sold her to Liverpool businessmen Alan Roberts and Tom Surtees, who want to keep the ship in her current Canning Dock berth.
The ship cost the new owners around £139,000 and McClarnan has indicated that he did have higher offers but felt that the purchasers were best placed to ensure the ship remained in Liverpool.

No doubt if Liverpool City Council had agreed to purchase this historic maritime vessel, the rentaquote brigade at the Taxpayers' Alliance would be on the case. In one of their latest missives -in the Lincolnshire Echo - they point out that 2,000 hoax and spurious 999 calls in the area, "risks lives, wastes the time of highly trained people and lands the rest of us with a hefty bill." Well done. Today's 'Stating The Bleeding Obvious To Get Your Name In Print To Make You Feel Important' Award is duly on its way to T & A House.

Still, there's no such thing as bad publicity. The TA proudly reproduce an Independent article by Paul Vallely about La Princesse, which name checks the Tory apologists, despite the generally positive tone of the piece.

It may be pushing at open doors like a slobbering Littlejohn by getting your name linked with so-called political correctness gone mad stories such as the fewer salt-shaker holes, homophobic speed cameras, and £5,000 claim for being Polish, particularly give that they seem to be in papers like the Mail and Express, but as people have found to their cost before (The Sun, Boris Johnson, even Ringo), be careful not to upset the Scouse psyche. We liked our spider. Come back soon.

Quite a positive slant today. Even my failing bank seems to be getting taken over by a less failing one. But wait, those 3 stories I referred to. Seems to be more to them than the glib comments from the so-called independent, Taxpayers' Alliance.

Jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe (via The Independent) for the Taxpayers' Alliance:
  • "I love paying tax so much, the sight of a gritter lorry gives me an erection" – Jon Richardson
  • "If Britons were left to tax themselves, there would be no schools, no hospitals, just a 500-mile-high statue of Diana, Princess of Wales" – Andy Zaltzman

Burning ship


Was watching the Mersey Webcam and thought this was a ship on fire. On further investigation it appears to be a lightship - possibly the Galatea - which shows how much I know about ships etc. IT looks like a Turner painting.

Barking Mad

Barking in London has many reasons to be proud: the brilliance of bard Billy Bragg, Bobby Moore, Brian Poole (of The Tremeloes fame), the innate wonderfulness of its punning possibilities, and proximity to the A13. Unfortunately, there is now a new kid on the block: Richard Barnbrook, the BNP representative on the London Assembly.

it's always a tricky question: do we ignore the racists or tackle them full on? I sometimes think a third way is called for - the 'hoisted-on-their-own-petard-or-ridicule' strategem (HOTOPOR).

As I prepare to watch the Liverpool v Man Utd game as a warm up for the real match of the day: Huddersfield v Tranmere, I thought I'd throw in some fun and games from Barnbrook's latest post on his Daily Telegraph blog. As Richard proudly boasts,

Yeh, well, rich, anyone can have a blog there - even Eric The Fish - even people wanting to write about table lampshade patterns. Hardly, breaking down boundaries. He continues his self-delusion:
  • Times really are changing fast.
Not so much that Dylan's classic as there's a foul smell blowin' in the wind; that stench is coming from the lies that Barnbrook tells on his blog. Fortunately, quite a few are on the case. Whilst I make cheap, sarcastic points, others delve further.

For instance, in his latest offering to the world, 'Fiddling While London Burns', Tricky Dicky is on top form.
  • While I have a spare half an hour I thought I would give you the details of today's proceedings during Mayor's Question Time.

  • Obviously, I'm biased, but at 12:22 when it came to my input, I don't think the Mayor acquitted himself at all well responding that he was reluctant to give the oxygen to either the question or indeed the questioner when confronted with this:

    Can the Mayor comment on the shocking level of violence and intimidation directed towards Metropolitan Police Officers during this year's Notting Hill Carnival? Considering the astronomical costs, the policing bill alone exceeding £6 million, which falls upon the taxpayers of London, can the Mayor assure the people of this city that the suspension of this event is an option available to him?

Sounds like a good performance? Surely, nobody would be foolish to claim this when the proceedings are recorded and shown on the web? Step forward Barking's Coeur de Lying (well, if Mail readers can get away with Bliar, why can't I take the piss out of the lionheart moniker his Stormfront supporters have given him.)

5CC is quickly on to him:
  • Cllr Barnbrook:

    You've left a couple of little bits out. Funny that.

    1. As well as saying he wouldn't stop the Notting Hill Carnival, the Mayor pointed out that it isn't in his power to stop it anyway.

    2. You had to have your rant off camera for bringing along some sort of banner or display that broke the rules.*

    3. While there may have been an 'embarassing row' between Conservatives, and the Mayor may have dealt with a question from Mr Qureshi rather swiftly, things were rather more swift and embarassing for you. After you struggled through your sets of figures, the Mayor's reaction was to say 'In the words of the famous Australian judge who said, "That, ladies and gentlemen, was the case for the prosecution,"' and make a toilet flushing motion. Pretty much the entire Assembly were laughing at you. Everyone should see the sorry affair over here, which begins at around 02.16.10 in the video. Priceless stuff. And rather a different image of the Councillor than he tries to paint here.

    *What was the display? Did it have anything to do with Mothers Again... whoops London's Mothers Against Knives? That would be using it to call for something that isn't made explicit on the petition, which would be pretty dishonest - so it can't be that, surely. Are you able to reassure people tempted to sign the petition that it won't be used to call for measures designed to target black people, or are you unable to because that's precisely what you intend to do?
The Fish wades in with the subtlety of a not very subtle thing:
  • As Ronnie Barker said, 'There should be help for those who have problem with their worms.'
    He sounds like a drunken schoolboy trying to ask stupid questions at the School Council meeting because his mates have dared him.

    Boris uses bumbling to great effect; Richard just looks pathetic in the real sense.

    I think it is a shame they did not allow you to show off your new T-shirt. (London's Mothers Against Knives, the hijacked campaign)It makes a change from the sick coloured jacket. It must impress your supporters that you do not give in to mere rules like standing orders. Your orders! I'd have let you have your comfort blanket and do what all good teachers (such as yourself....ahem) do, and get you up in front of the class so people can ask you questions and Londoners can see what a clever boy they voted in.

    Boris said he did not wish to give you any oxygen of publicity echoing Thatcher's policy on the IRA. Maybe you could get an actor (or Simon 'pretty much' Darby) to do your voice over.

    Your extrapolation of figures over the arrests is mind-blowing. Instead of spending money on the Hadron Collider, we should be researching how your neurons are staggering around.

    Love the bit about people being 'hospitabilised' and 'disposal er..dispersal? Dispersal, thank you. dispersal will be at 9.30 am. There in black and white!'

    'I don't remember any St George's Day, I've been on 4 or 5......on the 3 ST George's Days I've been on...'

    Horses were 'humanly friendly'!!!

    '300 people were ambulanced'

    You see, the point of a supplementary question is that it picks up on the initial answer to your original question. A spontaneous response, which is a fine art. To ignore that Boris told you HE had NO power to ban it, shows ignorance and poor debating skills.

    You said in a previous post that you had prepared for this. How long, exactly, did you spend on rehearsing your spontaneous comments?

    I'm so glad that the sessions are recorded. Otherwise we'd only have your unbiased recollection of what happened, which bears no relation to reality. How about a proper transcription?

    And for the apologist who accused others of asking loaded questions - cop a load of the Brown Bombsite's final wayward, attempted hook at the Champion - the Henley Hitman - 'So you're quite happy to see an increase in arrests?'

    The Challenger (challenged?)hurt by the flushing manoeuvre from Boris, reels back on the ropes and the towel is thrown in. As Alan Minter would say, 'This boy don't know when he's beaten, Harry.'
Interesting stuff. The cameras did not show Barnbrook due to his petty gesture in wearing a T shirt with his BNP MAK motif. He then shows how inarticulate he is and is laughed at by all sections of the Assembly. The picture shows Mayor Boris Johnson demonstrating a toilet flushing gesture in answer to Barnbrook's waffled supplementary question. He was, apparently, referring to an Australian Judge who did the same when addressing the jury and saying, 'that ladies and gentlemen' is the case for the prosecution. Priceless Boris!

As I said before, keep up the good work, Agent Barnbrook: destroying credibility from within!

England Defenders

As my paintshop skills are crap, the screenshot above is a bit poor but it can be clicked on for better effect. The story ringed in red is titled 'Brown Tackles Setanta over World Cup Blackout: A Lot of England Fans want answers'

The story is a nothing given that Setanta purchased the rights - like it or not - and if the BBC offered more money, they'd then moan about the licence fee. Has added bonus of allowing the idiots to have a dig at Brown.

No mention of the huge ad for the bogeyman though.

Dogs, Horses, Pigs and Other Animals

The BNP have had a bit of a kicking today. Not that they would agree. Firstly, their much trumpeted 'celebrity' candidate, Angela Reid, daughter of Eastenders actor Mike, has decided not to stand as a candidate for the odious zealots. The Mirror carries the story:

  • Angela Reid cold-shouldered the far-right political party shortly before the midday deadline for nominations.

    Her sudden withdrawal will be a huge blow to the BNP, which had been boasting about hooking up with Mrs Reid because of her celebrity links. Her husband said yesterday: "She has cancelled her candidacy because she is Mike Reid's daughter and people would call her a Nazi and slag her off."

    The BNP has been desperately trying to rebrand itself in recent years as a respectable political party and play down its Neo-Nazi sympathies.

As Simon 'pretty much' Darby explained on his blog of bilge here,
  • Last week I indicated that after the brother of England football legend Stuart Pearce, Dennis was revealed to have stood for the BNP on the London Assembly list by the Sunday People, there would be another relative of a household name who would be standing as a candidate.
  • Speaking to Angela today, she sounds like an excellent candidate with a lot to say about where this country is going wrong.
The Mirror fails to mention - so kudos to the Mail for once - that Mike Reid and wife were living in Marbella, Spain at the time of his death. The Sun helpfully educates its dim readers to the fact that General Franco (or FranKo as they pun) came from Spain!

Sounds like the typical hypocritical ex-pat we hear from in the Mail and Express - how this country is going to the dogs while sipping sangria on the beach. It is not known whether Mike shared his daughter's less-than-t'riffic views on foreigners but Mike was unlikely to say on children's TV show, Runaround, G-G-G-G-G-G-GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM.

Secondly, Simon '2 Wardrobes' Darby was a guest on Asian Network where he refused to accept that presenter Yasmeen Khan, born in Yorkshire, was a native Englishwoman. The conversation can be listened to in the UK on the BBCi site at Nihal at about 30 minutes in. It should be available for 7 days. I'll hopefully have time to transcribe some of it later.

When I heard Obama seemingly refer to Sarah Palin with the 'lipstick on a pig' gibe (as McCain seemingly did with Hilary Clinton) I immediately thought of the oft-quoted BNP mantra as seen on their official site -

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Cooke Retort

There was quite an entertaining debate on this vanity site, I mean blog, regarding Cllr Chris Cooke's slight misunderstanding of a Daily Mail story about hedgehogs. He's another one of those people who don't so much speed-read as sprint past Usain Bolt taking in the headline only before posting their carefully researched words of wisdom.

Nothing too serious, of course, until you realise that this person is an elected local politician. He is supposed to make decisions and read long, detailed documents. No wonder he's friends to the clever people of the BNP as evidenced by the Einstein-like Richard Barnbrook.

The Daily Mail has a strange obsession with the rights of car owners and in particular, the demon speed cameras. Barely a week goes by without the paper allowing its readers the chance to vent their spleen if not their exhaust fumes on stories such as,

"New motorway speed camera blitz means thousands more will face fines" ,
"Indestructible, the speed camera that will defy bombs and bulldozers",
"Speed camera earns £5000 an hour"

The Mail has a symbiotic relationship with many of its readers; they feed off the constant harping on about stealth taxes whilst the paper gets kudos for fighting for the poor motorist. Even behaviour that would normally set Mail-ites gnashing collective teeth such as law-breaking, vandalism and non-payment of taxes is seemingly condoned.

Whilst a lot of us were gazing in awe at the Spider Spectacle of La Princesse, Liverpool was hosting the BA Festival of Science. One of the debates to come out of that was one led by Dr Linda Mountain of Liverpool University on empirical analysis of road safety statistics relating to speed cameras. Unfortunately, I was not present so am not sure how the actual talk went. However, using the Mail as a source (Yeh, I know!) we do see that,

She continues,

'If accidents fall dramatically after the cameras are in place, it could be that the cameras have reduced accidents, but some of the fall may simply show that a run of bad luck has come to an end,' Dr Mountain told the British Association science festival in Liverpool.

'The problem is that, although some parts of the road network are undoubtedly more dangerous than others, there is also a degree of randomness in where accidents occur.'

Anyone who has studied Statistics to A Level will understand the concept of the regression to the mean. I was crap at science as my record in the local Quiz League shows, so I do not wish to go into greater detail for fear of making a prat of myself. However, suffice to say, Dr Mountain is NOT suggesting that the cameras are a waste of time or that they do NOT save lives. It seems to me that it is difficult top be as accurate as say with seat belt safety as we are dealing with actual accidents rather than potential ones.

It is hard to quantify. Perhaps a cheaper solution would be to attach flowers to railings as this tends to have the effect of making drivers slow down. In Greece, I noticed little candles in miniature shrines on winding coastal roads. Similarly it is possible to argue that other factors such as bad driving and even slow speeds can be more of a danger to pedestrians and other road users, but that's a debate for another day.

The important bit comes at the end of David Derbyshire's piece:

  • 'The big difference is that when you allow for the regression to mean effect, you find a 19 per cent reduction in accidents and serious accidents,' she said.

    'I believe that cameras do reduce accidents, but not quite as much as is claimed.'

    Officially, cameras are acknowledged as saving around 100 lives a year. But Dr Mountain believes the true figure is 'around 50'.

The article brings the usual petrolheads out of their pits:

  • The damn things probably cause more accidents than they prevent, as drivers brake suddenly on seeing one, and get shunted up the rear.

    - David Bourke, Rochester, Kent., 9/9/2008 16:48

So, not driving at the correct distance from the car ahead is permissable and if there is an accident, it's the fault of the camera. Interesting interpretation of the Road Traffic Accident by David.

  • They're talking about 50 lives in the whole of the country, a population of roughly 65 million. Chances are if they didn't die on the roads, they'd have died of MRSA in a filthy hospital, or been stabbed by a drunken yob.

    If the money taxed from drivers by speed cameras was used to clean up hospitals or put more police on the streets, you may have had an argument...

    - Sick of Lie-bour, Reading, 9/9/2008 17:03

50 lives? Worthless! Totally logical argument about MRSA and murder on the streets. Imagine trying to debate with this tosser. Even thinks making an unoriginal pun on Labour will be seen as funny.
  • Of course they havent.. these machines are cash cows nothing less.

    - Jacqui Weems, Southampton, 9/9/2008 18:43

No show without punch-drunk Jacqui. This is the woman who berates the Government on education but can't seem to grasp apostrophe use or grammar.

  • - Charlie, Nottingham, 9/9/2008 18:58
I put that one in because often posters say nothing, but Charlie actually manages it literally.

BUT the Eric The Fish Award For Being Certain Without Evidence goes to our friend Cllr Chris for this gem:

  • Actually the "experts" are NOT saying Speed Cameras have saved only half the lives. In fact they are not saying Speed Cameras have saved any lives at all. They were just expressing a BELIEF that speed cameras may have saved some lives - but far fewer than claimed by Government. For myself I am quite certain that the sum total of speed camera madness over the years has actually cost more lives. A recent report in one country without speed cameras claimed a 40% reduction in accidents - so what was that attributable to? Could it be that speed cameras can actually cause accidents and negate the positive effects of better car and road engineering over the years? Not to mention not having proper policing of our roads with people with an eyes and a brain to detect the real dangerous drivers on the roads. The whole speed camera thing was a scam - they should be scrapped.

    - Cllr Chris Cooke, Tamworth, UK., 9/9/2008 19:41

CCC has a dig at the 'experts' though does not seem to possess many qualifications in that field himself. Anyone who has survived the hallucinogenic journey through his own garish website will know that he doesn't visit medical doctors due to some conspiracy and only the real facts can be found on Google!

Still, he shows he's read some of the article this time - perhaps checking that no New Zealand hedgehogs were harmed during the study -and makes a semantic point about what the study's findings are. However, he makes the 'weaker candidate' error of suggesting that there is a difference between 'saying' and (saying what your) 'belief' (based on the evidence of the study) is.

He then makes it clear that, 'For myself I am quite certain that the sum total of speed camera madness over the years has actually cost more lives.'

Keep up the good work Agent Cooke. You and Barnbrook are doing a fine job of bringing ridicule to the BNP.

Post Script: Dr. Mountain was on Radio Merseyside this afternoon confirming that the study found that lives are saved; the only argument is with Government figures.

A Twinning Exercise

This story is either a manipulative attempt to blag free nappies from Tesco, typically shit journalism from The Daily Mail, or a combination of both.

Twin Girls born either side of midnight to be split up in school....

The two girls - named Lexus and Amber - (maybe the parents had just bought the Jeremy Clarkson Book of Baby Names: Fact!) were born on 31st August and 1st September. The school term commences on September 1st.

  • [This name game is becoming quite popular as Iris Hurst, born on the back seat of an Audi, was named in honour of the Toyota Yaris.]

The twins story is unusual maybe, but normally the kind of filler that would make page 7 of the local free sheet opposite a review of Bobbins Bistro.
Indeed, the Northampton Chronicle has the story. Whilst it mentions the parents' desire to ensure they are taught together, the paper appears to employ a decent sub-editor as it headlines it, Twins Born a School Year Apart.

The story continues in The Mail:
  • But the possibility they will be separated for much of their formative years is already hanging over the pair - and all because they were born either side of midnight.

    The girls were born just 45 minutes apart on the the night of August 31, but one arrived before it officially became September 1 and one after.

  • Mr Caldwell, who is also a twin, said they would teach the girls at home or move to Spain if they cannot start school together.
  • 'My family live in Spain and they have a different academic year so we'd rather move out there than split up the twins,' his girlfriend added. .
This may seem reasonable; two new parents concerned about the future. But wait, what does the local authority charged with deciding on such education issues, Northamptonshire County Council say:

  • A spokesman said: 'We will need to look into this nearer the time Lexus and Amber are due to start school as part of their overall application for a school place.

    'Any decision made will be in the best interests of both children as well as taking into consideration the wishes of the parents.'
So, the denouement arrives and all is not as it appeared. No need to disappear to Spain just yet. Surely, not a simple exercise in creating a drama out of nothing in order to bash public servants.

Fortunately, even the Mail commentators see through the charade:

  • By the time these little girls are actually of school age, common sense will surely prevail. There is no law forcing a 4 year old to attend school anyway and the simple solution would be for both girls to start together albeit a school year later. If limited school places are the issue then approaching the local authority about this in good time will ensure the twins are schooled together.

    - LKP, Fleet, 9/9/2008 11:02

  • They haven't even spoken to their Local Education Authority yet, so are rather jumping the gun.

    - Libby, London, UK, 9/9/2008 12:12

However, there are the usual headline readers who just don't get it:
  • Does this New Dis-United Kingdom not have any common sense left as everything is down to figures and statistics?

    Brianless Britian is really going down the drain as we seem to have have lost our grey matter in all the corruption of this past decade.

    - Penny Ward, Harpenden UK, 9/9/2008 10:16

  • What else do you expect from this crazy Schooling systems of today at one time twins were always schooled together unless one was brighter than the other but they stated school together. The Northampton Council needs it heads bang together.

    - Richard, England, 9/9/2008 13:43

(Richard's use of spelling and grammar are hardly a shining example of the education system. Maybe he was born on February 29th and only started school a few years ago.)

Now, this may seem a trivial matter to moan about. However, the Mail has form for this sort of thing. Time after time, the headline bears no relation to the facts of the story or even the actual text contained thereafter. The Mail is not stupid; it knows its demographics.

It also knows that the Press Complaints Commission is a toothless tiger. Take this comment from a complaint upheld this year:
  • 'We need to make people sit up and take notice. Leave some packages around Heathrow. That’ll make them take notice'. This remark appeared to be the basis for the front page headline which categorically reported that “Militants will hit Heathrow”, and a sub-headline which said 'Hoax bombs to cause alerts'. Beyond the comments by the ‘man in his late 20s’ – whose status and identity were unclear, as was whether any plan actually emerged – there was no other evidence for these bold claims.

    This was a matter of concern for the Commission. There was nothing in the headline to indicate to readers the insubstantial basis of the claims. Neither was there adequate qualification in the text of the article.

Despite this, the Mail continues to operate on its usual terms. I do not wish to fetter the freedom of the press, but with this freedom comes responsibility. Failure to act responsibly deserves a stiffer response: a blank front page.

La Princesse - Short Video

Maybe the Taxpayers' Alliance - that self-appointed Tory rentaquote body - would like to tell the thousands of people lining the streets for La Machine's 5 day extravaganza how it was 'an outrageous waste of taxpayers' money' and explain how 'Who on Earth would want their hard-earned cash spent on a mechanical spider? It's bonkers,' does not make them look foolish.

Maybe, people reading their widespread musings in the national press will think twice about the motives and methodology of their 'research.'

If the T.A had their way, very little tax would be paid and very little would be spent on social projects or art, and these areas would only be available for the rich and privileged. People and organisations are entitled to opinions on public funding of such matters, and not everyone considers Damian Hirst to be the equal of Rembrandt, but it is time that newspapers stopped filling articles with glib, ill-thought out comments from axe-grinders like the T.A. and Migrationwatch.

As I've said before, one only has to look at the profiles of members on their own site to see their political bias.

La Princesse in Liverpool - Saturday

La Princesse in Liverpool - Day 2

One of the photos from yesterday has made the BBC website! On the Your Pictures section.

Gordon the Spider

I was accompanied to Liverpool City Centre to see the attempts by French scientists to take the spider that invaded us in our year of culture, by the senior member of Mother and Child Quiz Team (3 weeks without a win) and what should happen? Gordon ' I support another Rovers' Brown should turn up. Your intrepid photographer was totally taken in by the serious-looking people outside St George's Hall with wires extending outside their ears. I thought they were either looking for a dodgy guy on a grassy knoll, or being told the answers in countdown.

I noticed a few people with elongated lenses but I just thought they were pleased to see me. I went on a 10 minute sojourn to glimpse the spider being put on a truck. Upon my return I realised the real reason for this multi-million pound extravaganza: get Eric The Fish away from the P.M.

I came back, only to be informed by the leader of the once-unbeatable Mother and Child Quiz Team that Gordon had been and gone. 'Did you say anything to him?', I ventured.
'I asked him what he was going to do about the arachnid problem', she may have replied.

Anyway, I hope to put some photos up on here and Flickr as the story unfolds.


Of course, there are moaners on parade too. Step forward the self-appointed party poopers of the Taxpayers' Alliance, who seem to get quoted in newspapers more often these days. In the Mail article referred to in the previous post, they end the story with this piece of gloom,

  • The TaxPayers' Alliance has called the artwork an 'outrageous waste of taxpayers' money'.

    Spokesman Matthew Sinclair said: 'Who on Earth would want their hard-earned cash spent on a mechanical spider? It's bonkers.'

Not as bonkers as you lot, mate. It may be a load of hydraulics but the T.A. are a load of bollocks.
This is the same group (about 3 of them) that says of a proposed windfall tax on the profits of the energy companies:

  • A windfall tax is the last thing Britain needs during these tough economic times.
  • A windfall tax would also be a huge risk to families struggling under the credit crunch because utility companies would be under a lot of pressure to pass the cost of the tax straight on to consumers.
Great logic! Don't prod the spider or it may bite you; if it does it's your own fault.

The Taxpayers' Alliance, like Migrationwatch is becoming the source of rentaquotes in the right-wing press, but more disconcertingly, in other papers too. The idea is simple: nobody likes paying tax and these experts hope to tap into concerns about central and local Government waste. So who are these self-appointed experts?

  • Andrew Allum, Founding Chair

    From 1998 to 2002 Andrew served as a Conservative member of Westminster City Council. He left the party in 2003, having lost faith that it represented his brand of free market, individualist and compassionate politics.

    Matthew Elliot, Chief Executive
    In November 2007, Matthew was presented with the Conservative Way Forward ‘One of Us’ award by William Hague

    Florence Heath
    Florence led the student Conservative association at Imperial College for two years as well as the Europe-wide European Young Conservatives, and served on the committees of the local Conservative associations, Conservative Friends of Gibraltar and the cross-party Youth for a Free Europe.

    Matthew Sinclair (quoted on the Spider story)
    He has been actively involved in politics since joining the LSE Conservative Association in his first year at university. This has included fighting the anti-capitalist movement in the Student’s Union and helping out in the election campaign of the Letchworth Conservatives in 2007.

    Mark Wallace

    Before joining the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Mark was the Campaign Manager of The Freedom Association (a union-bashing organisation favoured by Thatcher). Mark has written for a variety of publications, including Freedom Today magazine,,
  • The Freedom Association was founded by Guinness Book of Records compiler, Norris McWhirter, whose campaigns for freedom gave medals to athletes who boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and defended sportsmen who went to South Africa during apartheid. So no bias towards the right there!
Will newspaper editors please insert a caveat when including the views of think-tanks and pressure groups. As Milton Friedman, Thatcher's hero (almost) said, 'There's no such thing as a free fill-up.'

The Mind Googles

I'm sometimes surprised - even by my sick standards - to see what people are searching for when they land on the desert that is this blog. Like the guy on Star Trek never seen before who volunteers to go down with Spock and Kirk, or the plain looking girl in the pre-title sequence of Midsomer murders, their mission is bound to end in failure.

I once had someone from the magical USA who was driven to the site by his predeliction for 'man forces wife to cum' on the oddly gravitational pull of a post which contained the words, 'man', 'armed forces', 'Chorlton-cum-Hardy', and 'wife'. I hope he found his true calling in life.

Today's collector of the ERIC THE FISH: I'M GLAD YOU CAME BUT I BET YOU DON'T RETURN award goes to someone in Oldham (strangely, and somewhat disconcertingly the opponents of Tranmere Rovers on Saturday) for this:

How tall is Fiona Phillips.

Spider From Mars

From the Liverpool Echo

A GIANT spider appeared in Lime Street today.

Stunned onlookers stared in amazement as the 37-tonne, 50ft creature dangled high above the street from Concourse Tower.

The massive arachnid is the first glimpse of the mysterious La Princess, the mechanical creature at the centre of the La Machine extravaganza.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected on the streets of the city, many of which will be closed off, as the five-day street theatre event unfolds this weekend.

The Capital of Culture event will see “scientists” arrive in the city to investigate the creature.

They are due to set up a research base at the ECHO arena.

Hopefully, I'll be able to see this tomorrow as the drama unfolds.

Of course, there's always a lengthy line of moaners in the Mail:

  • It is obscene to waste nearly two million quid on some silly spider when people are being told that they can only have the sight in one of their eyes saved.

    - David Bourke, Rochester, Kent., 3/9/2008 13:50

  • Capital of Culture! If that is an example of it then we are better off without it.

    - ian s, Maidstone England, 3/9/2008 14:27

  • How on earth is this 'culture'?

    - Christopher Hyde, Paris, France, 3/9/2008 13:54

  • That's disgusting.

    - glynis letcher, Newton Abbot, Devon, 3/9/2008 15:42

  • Wow it looks great..!! I wonder who is paying for it...? Sorry to be a party pooper...Good luck to Liverpool ...Tony Blair clutched between its jaws would be even better ...

    - Filmex, London, 3/9/2008 15:44

The last one tried so hard, but couldn't resist a meaningless dig at a ;erson who is no longer Prime Minister. However, the bold Sir Trevor from the Wine Lodge rides to Liverpool's rescue:

  • How bitter some people are! I detect some envy. Most people here are proud of what has been achieved during Culture year. If you read the story properly, you will see that the spider will form part of a 3 day extravaganza. It will move around the city. Anyone who witnessed the sultan's elephant in London will know what a great spectacle this is.

    Some people like to moan at everything. Given that you lot of whingers are from outside Liverpool, why don't you mind your own business.

    The comment about eyesight operations is a cheap shot. Coupled with the other comment from Kent, I wonder why Liverpool was chosen instead of Maidstone?

    Dave - the building is set for demolition. Are you not able to read?

    - Trevor Yates, Liverpool, Capital of Culture 2008, 3/9/2008 15:33