The programme is being shown at 21:00 on 4 May - that's Bank Holiday Monday - and lasts an hour.
Reunion concert by Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood at New York's Madison Square Garden in 2008. The rock legends took the stage together for just three concerts in a highly anticipated collaboration, performing a string of hits that included Blind Faith's Presence of the Lord and Can't Find My Way Home, in addition to Clapton's classic After Midnight and Winwood's Dear Mr Fantasy.
Both Winwood and Clapton have long and prestigious musical careers, with countless honours and awards to their names. Their musical paths connected in 1969 with the formation of Blind Faith, a supergroup that pioneered the fusion of rock and blues into tremendous studio and stage success.
Despite critical and popular acclaim, the band was short-lived with only one album and a brief 1969 tour that debuted on July 12th at Madison Square Garden and ended on August 24th in Hawaii. Since that final show, Winwood and Clapton have remained friends but had only performed together a few times over the years for an occasional song at a charity event.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
The Ludlow & Tenbury Wells Advertiser looks forward to the Bank Holiday weekend:
Once again, Clun will host The Green Man Festival, its traditional May Bank Holiday event celebrating the arrival of spring, with outstanding music, family entertainment and a marvellous craft fair in the shadow of Clun Castle.
Following its successful music programme of last year, Clun Memorial Hall is hosting two major bands: The Popes, supported by Luke Day, on Saturday and the evergreen Wurzels on Sunday, with local band the Whisky River Boys ...
On Sunday, from noon, there will be free entertainment for all the family in Clun Square, and the now-famous Frost Queen’s Street Fair will include return visits from the Rhythm Maker and Swords of Chivalry; theatre from Kaleidoscope Theatre Company; Clun Mummers and, of course, the Frost Queen and Green Man. With street entertainers, food stalls, jazz and more, it’s an unmissable day out ...
Monday, May 4, is Clun Green Man day, with the unique Battle on the Bridge ending the procession through the town, and the Green Man battling with the Frost Queen to herald the arrival of spring in the Clun Valley. Afterwards, visitors can browse dozens of stalls in the castle grounds, courtesy of English Heritage, buy local crafts, watch demonstrating artisans and be entertained by medieval sword fighting, maypole dancing and duck racing. Shropshire folk band Whalebone will play a free gig at the craft fair.
But it is not as traditional as all that. Because the festival is a modern invention: the book The Roots of Environmental Consciousness, edited by Stephen Hussey and Paul Richard Thompson, says it was first held in 1997.
One of the reasons I like Bishop's Castle and Clun is that they do not let their remote situation prevent their having a good time and bringing in visitors. And there is a well-known quip that all the oldest English traditions were invented in the last quarter of the 19th century.
Well, this is one that was invented in the last quarter of the 20th.
The bad news is that research by Sarah Teather, the Liberal Democrat shadow housing minister, suggests that Emma's is the only household to have benefited under the scheme so far. It was announced back in September of last year and given huge publicity when it was launched in January.
As Sarah says:
“Tens of thousands of families will face the misery of repossession and homelessness this year but the Government’s scheme has helped just one household.You can find the the official figures in a document on a Department for Communities and Local Government website.
“This is an appalling failure by a Government that is more interested in headline-grabbing than in helping families through the economic crisis.”
It is hard becoming increasingly hard not to see Gordon Brown as a deluded figure. His numerous announcements bear less and less resemblance to the life the rest of us live outside his bunker.
I don't believe a word of it, but that does not prevent me passing it on to you.
There's an intriguing rumour in European circles. It's that Downing Street has been considering whether Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs supremo, could be the UK's next European Commissioner.
It sounds implausible, but I am told it has been seriously discussed in Lib-Dem circles. Huhne, once a financial journalist, is also a former Euro MP.
There is no suggestion Huhne, 54, wants to quit the Commons, and his office tells me it knows nothing about the rumours. But observers point out he might not be entirely averse, having twice failed to win the party leadership — the second time in a bruising battle with Nick Clegg.
For many, I know, the highlight of the Bournemouth Conference was the arrival of the Gurkhas and their bagpipes. How proud I was, as Colonel-in-Chief of the Queen’s Own Rutland Highlanders, to march at their head!
Besides, it is high time these doughty fighters were restored to their place at the centre of British politics. I can recall the days when I could not make a speech without some fellow from the back of the hall shouting “What about the Gurkhas?”
Mind you, I never went quite as far as the more advanced Young Liberals of the 1960s, who wished to bring about Gurkhas’ control of industry.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
A report in the Times Higher Education supplement suggests that he should have been more concerned for the welfare of the witnesses he called:
An academic at loggerheads with Manchester Metropolitan University after he blew the whistle on alleged grade inflation at the institution has claimed that he was scapegoated by being kicked off its academic board.As I said in November, it was hard to see why Phil was being so bullish in favour of Labour government policy. I asked:
Walter Cairns was ejected from the board following a vote of no-confidence instigated by John Brooks, vice-chancellor of Manchester Met.
The move was made in the aftermath of Mr Cairns' submission to the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee inquiry into higher education standards. It concerned a course he taught in which marks were bumped up across the board following an 85 per cent failure rate.
Mr Cairns told the panel of MPs that the changes had been made without his consent and despite an initial indication from the external examiner that his marking was appropriate.
Surely the role of a select committee chairman is to be impartial and to put those giving evidence at their ease?It seems that Laurie Taylor's satirical column about the University of Poppleton. which also runs in the Times Higher Ed, was pretty much on the money:
Janet Fluellen, our Director of Curriculum Development, has enthusiastically welcomed the news that a cross-party panel of MPs has asked academics to submit evidence of dumbing down in universities.
"We are so committed to this exercise," she told The Poppletonian, "that we have constituted a high-powered dumbing-down committee (myself and the vice-chancellor). Any Poppleton academic with evidence of slipping or falling standards should submit their claim to this committee together with their name, age, departmental affiliation, number of years in service, a recent passport-size photograph, a P45 and a small DNA sample."
As the Guardian says:
Note too this video on the BBC website. Is it just me, or is there more than a hint of Mrs Thatcher about the magnificent Joanna Lumley?
Gordon Brown's authority suffered a blow today when MPs inflicted a surprise defeat on the government, voting to allow all retired Gurkhas to settle in the UK.
Twenty seven Labour MPs voted with the Liberal Democrats and the Tories to back a demand for all former Gurkhas to be allowed to live in the UK, not just those who retired after 1997 and a small proportion of the others.
Although ministers offered a series of minor concessions intended to satisfy the many Labour MPs who signed an amendment attacking government policy, MPs voted by a majority of 21 to back a Liberal Democrat demand for "an equal right of residence for all Gurkhas".
MPs backed the Lib Dem motion by 267 votes to 246.
Her father, Major Jimmy Lumley, was an officer witht the 3rd Battalion of the 6th Gurkha Rifles in Burma during Word War II.
Nettles's DCI Tom Barnaby was the least successful fictional detective in TV history, invariably discovering the killer only when every other suspect had already been knocked off.
My excellent MP, the LibDems' David Howarth, wrote a brilliant article in our local paper.
Alongside some photographs of various senior local government officials and NHS fat cats - all on ginormous salaries for four-day weeks - David posed a simple question: 'What is it they do? All I want to know is what do they actually do?'
Could this be the benchmark for David Cameron's Thrifty Britain?
All those Service Providers and Operative Strategy Target Enforcement Delivery Managers will be forced to answer the question: 'What do you actually do?' Then they can be suspended for six months and we'll see if anyone notices the difference.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Later. Blairwatch points out that Craig's evidence is now on Youtube. The first part is below...
As ever, Leicestershire led the way in library-loving cats. Remember Chloe from Markfield?
Fidel, an eight-year-old black cat, turns up at Deal library almost every day while his owners are at work.
He spends the day on his favourite blue chair, only leaving the building when he sees his owners arriving home.
Conservative Brighton was a pioneer in holding a lottery in places for over-subscribed schools - which worked well. This bill should encourage all local authorities to do likewise.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The Leicester Mercury quotes East Midlands Trains commercial director, David Horne, as saying:
"We're very excited to introduce the first direct service to London from Melton and Oakham in 40 years.It is a normal peak fare and the train runs at a time to suit the business traveller."This enterprising move strengthens the impression that East Midlands Trains are making a better job of running things than their predecessors, Midland Mainline, who were looking at ways of reducing services last time the franchise came up.
We still have to suffer the forest of intimidating signs and unreasonable ticketing restrictions that are common to all privatised railways. But they are largely the fault of the Treasury for trying to squeeze so much out of the franchise holders and, through them, rail passengers.
Whether this service will lure a certain peer away from the Bonkers Hall Branch, which can be seen curving away through the undergrowth somewhere north of Market Harborough, remains to be seen.
A Saturday job at a gents outfitters when I was in the sixth form. Soon transferred to the secondhand book trade, which was more me.
First Real Job
Working for Chess magazine in Sutton Coldfield after leaving university.
First Role in Politics
Secretary of York Liberal Students, 1979-81.
I have never owned a car, but I do have a licence so I am a real man.
The first single I bought, age 7, was Kites by Simon Dupree and the Big Sound, which is pretty damned cool. I am less proud of my first LP - Band on the Run by Wings.
First Football Match
Hemel Hempstead Town vs Harwich & Parkeston in the Athenian League, c. 1968.
My first pop concert must have been a freshers event at York. I can remember The Pirates, Bram Tchaikovsky and Mike Absalom playing.
First Country Visited
Holland and Belgium on a primary school trip in 1970.
First TV Appearance
Apart from being in the audience for the wrestling on World of Sport, it was winning the BBC East Joint Account quiz with my Mum in 1978.
First Political Speech
At my first meeting of Harborough District Council in 1986.
Pauline Walker, when I was 4. She had an impressive collection of Kenny Ball EPs.
First Encounter with a Famous Person
Singing on the stage with Danny La Rue in one of his pantomimes, aged about 8. (For some reason there were not many children in the audience to ask up.)
First Brush With Death
Trying to swallow a threepenny bit as a toddler.
First House/Flat Owned
The one I am in now in Little Bowden, Market Harborough.
First Film Seen at a Cinema
I think it was Snow White.
First Time on the Radio
Interviewed for Radio 4 at the 1984 Liberal Assembly in Bournemouth.
First Politician I Met
John Farr, who used to be Tory MP for Harborough, once toured our school without talking to anyone. So it must have been Richard Wainwright and David Alton when I arranged for them to speak at York.
First Book I Remember Reading
Ladybird Key Words 1a: Play With Us.
First Visit to the London Palladium
That is a pleasure I still have in store.
Iain also asked me to tag five more bloggers to complete this meme. So...
Sunday, April 26, 2009
I have chosen this partly because it is a great song, partly because it is very much of its period, partly because I think I remember it from the time (the autumn of 1966, when I would have been six years old) and partly because it is time I got to grips with Manfred Mann.
Rather like the Spencer Davis Group, perhaps following a jazz tradition, the band was named after its founder, but he was not its most celebrated member. At various times Manfred Mann included the vocalists Paul Jones and Mike d'Abo (singing here), and the musicians Tom McGuinness and Jack Bruce. (This earlier posting will lead you to a recording of Jones and McGuinness discussing the British blues scene of the 1960s.)
Manfred Mann himself is an interesting figure. According to Wikipedia, he was born Manfred Lubowitz in Johannesburg in 1940. He studied classical piano at university, played jazz piano in clubs and formed South Africa's first rock group.
In 1961, strongly opposed to Apartheid (he was banned from South Africa several times), he moved to London, started writing on jazz and adopted his new name.
His group enjoyed great chart success, but he eventually tired of the pop scene and started exploring other kinds of music. He reappeared in the 1970s with Manfred Mann's Earth Band, putting out some more very good singles in an age when they were in shorter supply.
It is with great sadness that I have decided to resign as a Labour PPC and a Labour Party member. My period as a PPC has been difficult to say the least and I have spent much of it wrestling with internal problems in my CLP and attempting to defend government policies which, in my eyes, are becoming increasingly indefensible ...
Unfortunately, I no longer believe the Labour Party is committed to realising the dreams of people like me. The Labour Party's actions and policies today seem to be aimed more towards gaining petty advantages over opponents than towards achieving the ideals of its supporters. Brown's leadership is becoming a depiction of politics for its own sake.
A good end to what has turned out to be Chris Huhne week on Liberal England.
I will leave the Labour Party and I am joining the Liberal Democrats. At the next election I will back Chris Huhne. Eastleigh is a two horse race, between Chris who has a proven record as a progressive politician and a hard worker for Eastleigh or Maria Hutchings, who - whatever her personal qualities - supports right wing reactionary policies on Europe, immigration and local issues.
I want to be a political activist who works for what is right. I have concluded that joining the Liberal Democrats will allow me to do this. Time and again, I have found myself thinking that Chris Huhne is right on issues as varied as Trident, Climate Change, the economy and civil liberties whilst the government is wrong on them.
Rather than standing against him, I will be voting for Chris at the next General Election.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Two Labour peers at the centre of the lords for hire scandal have been found guilty of misconduct by a sleaze inquiry and face suspension from parliament, according to senior House of Lords sources.
Senior peers have concluded that Lord Taylor of Blackburn and Lord Truscott have broken the code of conduct of members of the upper house.
The investigation began after undercover Sunday Times reporters posing as lobbyists found that the two peers were prepared to help to amend legislation in return for cash.
They could now be barred from parliament for up to a year and lose tax-free allowances of up to £335 a day.
A leading Telford magistrate and former Oakengates mayor has quit the bench after being reported for posting details of cases he dealt with on the Twitter social networking site.
Professor Steve Molyneux, an expert in the uses of information technology and a magistrate for 16 years, told fellow Twitterers on one occasion how he sat “in the Gods passing sentence on the criminal fraternity”.
Nadine Dorries, the Tory MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, wrote on her blog this afternoon:
I have instructed and proceeded with legal action.Guido Fawkes speculates on the background.
Obviously, I am not going to say anything at all at this stage, other than that.
Friday, April 24, 2009
On the box
Tuesday lunchtime found me on the train to St Pancras to join a panel of bloggers interviewing Chris Huhne. My mobile rang. “I’m on the train,” I said.
It was Helen Duffett from Cowley Street. The line was bad, but she was saying something about Sky News, MPs’ expenses and the budget. Would I do it? Yes I said, without being sure what I had agreed to.
We assembled in Chris Huhne’s office in Portcullis House. He is the Lib Dem shadow home secretary, but the questions covered MPs’ expenses and the budget too.
What did Chris think of Gordon Brown’s announcement? He said Brown was aiming for the system they have in the European parliament where members are paid a daily subsistence rate but do not have to provide receipts. “We don’t want to see the Brussels gravy train arriving at Westminster,” Chris said.
This new system would not provide transparency. “It’s public money, and the public has a right to know how it is spent.”
Later at Cowley Street, George Crozier briefed me on Vince Cable’s proposals. “They’ll probably ask you what measure you would most like to see in the budget.”
Then Helen went with me to Millbank. I found myself broadcasting from a broom cupboard. A Labour blogger was elsewhere in the building. A Tory was at Sky HQ in Osterley.
The first question was on MPs’ expenses. I said Gordon Brown was aiming for the sort of system they have in the European parliament. “We don’t want to see the Brussels gravy train arriving at Westminster,” I said.
In reply to the second question I said that the new system would not provide transparency. “It’s public money, and the public has a right to know how it is spent.”
Then they asked me what measure I would most like to see in the budget.
I was ready to talk about Vince Cable’s call for a rise in allowances to take low earners out of income tax altogether. The Labour blogger had already talked about the cut in tax relief on high earners’ pension contributions we would use to pay for this. So I attacked Labour for not having done it sooner.
This television business: there’s nothing to it.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Suddenly everyone is talking about coal. On Wednesday last week two of New Labour's brightest young things - Ed Balls and Edward Milliband - took part in a Westminster Hall debate on the future of the industry. So did Paddy Tipping, but he sounds like a practice favoured by unscrupulous Victorian mine owners.Interesting that we were still calling Ed Miliband "Edward" in those days. And embarrassing that I couldn't spell "Miliband".
You can find the full debate in Hansard.
Thrill as Miliband Minor says:
coal has always been seen as part of the environmental problem that we face, but I believe that it has a chance to be seen as part of the solution.
Most of the anti-Tatchell smears in the campaign came from O'Grady - rather than from Simon Hughes, as is often claimed. Back in 2006 there was some discussion on this blog of the extent to which there was Liberal involvement in his campaign.
"Nobody likes a Tory mayor."Presumably some people must like a Tory mayor or Boris would never have been elected.
What Carthy means, of course, is that no one in the circles in which she moves would dare admit to voting Conservative .
It reminds me of an interview with Martin Amis reprinted in Nick Cohen's recent collection Waiting for the Etonians:
A passage from the opening of his 1995 novel The Information presciently captured the conformism of middle-class liberal opinion long before it was arrayed against him. At the end of the long period of Tory rule, Richard, the wretched hero, is visiting the Holland Park mansion of Gwyn Barry, a literary rival who, unconscionably, has become an immense success. Richard’s envy is heightened when he walks into the study to find a sycophantic colour-supplement journalist seeking Gwyn’s opinions on the issues of the day.
Are you a Labour supporter, the interviewer asks Gwyn.
Of course, thought Richard, yeah of course. Gwyn was Labour. It was obvious. Obvious not from the ripply cornices 20 feet above their heads, not from the brass lamps or the military plumpness of the leather-topped desk. Obvious because Gwyn was what he was, a writer, in England, at the end of the 20th century. There was nothing else for such a person to be. Richard was Labour, equally obviously.
It often seemed to him, moving in the circles he moved in and reading what he read, that everyone in the land was Labour, except the Government.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
You mark my words, whoever wins the next election we will be in for years of tax rises and spending cuts. No one believes the government forecast of 3.5 per cent growth next year; least of all government ministers themselves.
Look too for a sterling crisis and rising interest rates.
How shocking is it that I have never heard of it?
Commiserations to Alix Mortimer and Iain Dale.
Personally, I have considerable sympathy with the views of Stumbling and Mumbling on the way the prize was decided.
There was one thing about Maggie that I thought I remembered, but I did not blog about it in case I had got it wrong. However, Michael confirms that when she wanted a break from politics she open an organic food shop in my favourite Shropshire town,
By the time I started going to Bishop's Castle it had already closed, but I think I remember seeing her name above the empty shop.
Maggie was a member of Stockport MBC when she died suddenly earlier this month, aged only 61.
And Millennium replied: "I won him in a raffle."
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Whilst there I met another of the partners - an old friend who generally used to pip me to the coveted title of best chess player in Market Harborough. He told me that one of our team-mates from those days had recently died.
Then it was off to London to interview Chris Huhne. While I was on the train to St Pancras Helen Duffett rang me. Without being to hear her very well, I agreed to appear on Sky News that evening as a Lib Dem blogger.
I have just written up the day for Friday's House Points, but in essence I repeated Chris's answers on Sky News and it seemed to work well. Thanks also to George Crozier at Cowley Street for some expert briefing.
After it was over I had a coffee with Helen and her son by Westminster tube station. The shop was playing a Steve Winwood song and Vince Cable walked past.
What more could you ask?
Chris Huhne has revealed that an Independent Police Complaints Commission report issued three years ago, after the protests against the Hunting Bill in 2004, criticised police for obscuring their identification numbers.
"Three years ago, the IPCC raised concerns that some officers were obscuring their identification numbers during the pro-hunting demonstrations.
"It is deeply disappointing that this problem raised its ugly head again during the most recent protests, particularly when we were given firm assurances that it would not.
"There have also been reports of this unacceptable tactic being used at the Heathrow and Kingsnorth demonstrations. It has got to stop. Senior officers must reassert discipline among those policing demonstrations."
In future I shall most assuredly be voting for the UK Independence Party because it is the only moderate, non-sectarian party that is committed to getting us out of Europe while at the same time encouraging free trade and friendship with our continental neighbours.
Monday, April 20, 2009
This is wrong in so many ways.
The original series was very much of the 1970s, expressing the decade's dawning dissatisfaction with corporate culture and - like The Good Life - offered a way of escaping from it.
Leonard Rossiter was an incomparable actor, always on the verge of going over the top but never quite doing so. The early episodes of Rising Damp defy comic gravity by getting funnier as the years go by.
And when I was in the sixth form we conversed largely in lines from Fawlty Towers and Reginald Perrin.
The new Reggie, Martin Clunes, is bullish about the new series:
But the melancholy of the original series, and of the David Nobbs novel on which it was based, was precisely what made it stand out. This is true of many great comedies. Someone once said, rightly, of One Foot in the Grave that, funny as it was, you had the feeling that something terrible might happen at any moment.
Still, as useless as he finds comparisons in general, Clunes is prepared to make one himself, between the old Perrin and his new one. “I think this one’s funnier,” he says. “There are more jokes. It’s quicker paced.
If you’re measuring comedy by quantity, instead of anything else… But yes, I don’t think it’s as ponderous and melancholic.”
David Nobbs is involved with the new series, which gives it some credibility, but the original producer is not impressed.
John Howard Davies - who also produced Fawlty Towers, Steptoe and Son and The Good Life - told the Daily Telegraph:
"My initial reaction to this remake was the same as quite a lot of people: why? I don't like remakes of programmes anyway. It's unimaginative. It's much better to start afresh with a blank sheet of paper. I think Martin Clunes is wonderful and he may save the day, but I'm pessimistic. I probably won't watch it. Comedy is like wine - it improves with age. And Leonard Rossiter [itals] was [itals] Reggie Perrin. He was the catalyst for the show's success."[The fawlty italics tag is in the original.]
And he agrees about the distinctive quality of the original:
"It wasn't funny ha ha, it was always a thoughtful piece, and I wouldn't like to see that taken away. What made it different from normal situation comedy was that it raised one or two interesting points for the middle-aged man."For a glimpse of John Howard Davies as a child star now read about Oliver Twist.
One local is particularly livid:
Rudi Vis, the Labour MP for Finchley and Golders Green, said McBride's actions were "scandalous, totally scandalous". He added: "Something like this is really important, especially when the government is not doing very well.
"He has done the Labour party an enormous disservice. I don't believe he is the sort of member we should have.
Before you accept Mr Vis as the arbiter of what is and is not scandalous, consider a recent report about his own conduct.
Here is The Times from a couple of weeks ago:
Rudi Vis, the north London MP who is stepping down at the next election, has used his parliamentary expenses to help buy a £520,000 home for his retirement near the Suffolk coast.
Vis, 68, has taken out a mortgage on his London home to pay for the country property. Interest payments on the loan are funded out of his parliamentary expenses.
"within the rules".
The Devil's Kitchen has noticed this story too.
Before the success of Empire of the Sun Ballard was known principally for darkly surreal novels such as The Crystal World (1966), which described a West African country undergoing an inexplicable process of petrifaction, and Crash (1973), in which he put forward the idea that modern society finds traffic accidents erotic. Despising the term science fiction, Ballard never used it, preferring to describe his work as "apocalyptic".
Sunday, April 19, 2009
If the typical beneficiary of the 1945 Labour government was the common man, who returned from war to be rewarded with the welfare state, and the typical beneficiary of the 1979 Conservative government was the aspiring man, who was freed to buy his home and start his business, the classic beneficiary of the 1997 Labour government must be the form-filling man, who was rewarded with a lavish salary for monitoring and chivvying others.
Thanks to John Hemming.
After Harper retired last August, a new team of detectives denounced their predecessors' concerns, skills and findings. Even the 65 children's teeth unearthed from the home's cellars were, the new men suggested, left for the tooth fairy.
Controversy still rages over the provenance and date of materials discovered at the site and police now say there were no murders. None of the three men - two of them former care workers - charged with abuse has yet been tried, and the Jersey authorities have portrayed the alleged victims as compensation-hungry criminals.
Graham Power, the head of States of Jersey Police, has been suspended, accused of illegal spending on the inquiry. Harper, his former deputy, has been ordered to return to the island for questioning about the alleged theft of documents. Two weeks ago, Stuart Syvret, Jersey's former health minister who raised the issue of abuse, was arrested under data protection laws, accused of leaking material to the media.
Today's song is taken from Eric Burdon and the Animals 1968 album Love Is. It is a cover of the Traffic song Coloured Rain from their album of the previous year, Mr Fantasy. It was the song that Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi wanted to release as the band's second single rather than "Hole in My Shoe", which they hated.
For my money Burdon is overacting here and I miss Winwood's Hammond organ from the original. But what is chiefly of interest is the extraordinary guitar solo.
Its player later wrote that it was:
"one of the longest guitar solos ever recorded until this point ... a 'soaring hymn to ecstasy' style solo that is so long that I find it impossible to play in a full trance state and still come out at the right place."For this reason Zoot Money (who was playing keyboards for the Animals following the departure of Alan Price) had to count all 189 bars and signal to him when it was time to finish.
The guitarist also claimed that this solo earned him a "slightly legendary reputation".
And his name? Andy Summers, later to become famous as a member of The Police.
If you watched Red Riding you will believe that life in the 1970s consisted of policemen beating people up in semi-darkness.
And I think I am going to like it.
Because on page 16 David Peace writes:
I grabbed the reels, took a seat at a screen, and threaded through the microfilm.
I let the film fly by:
B Specials, Bernadette Devlin, Wallace Lawler, and In Place of Strife.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Ed Balls, the schools secretary, used Damian McBride, the disgraced spin doctor, to smear ministerial rivals and advance his own ambitions, a Downing Street whistleblower has claimed.Now see what the News of the World has to say.
In an explosive new twist to the e-mail affair, a No 10 insider has revealed that Balls was the mastermind behind a “dark arts” operation by McBride to undermine colleagues.
He claims the education secretary is running a destabilising “shadow operation” inside Downing Street to clear his path for the party leadership if Labour loses the next election.
The insider said: “There is now an operation within an operation at No 10 and it answers to Ed Balls.”
I am enjoying this.
Channel TV also has a video on the story. In it Syvret claims that a number of journalists' numbers have been deleted too.
The politician arrested last week for allegedly breaking data protection laws says Jersey police have erased numbers from his mobile phone.
Officers held Senator Stuart Syvret at the police station for seven hours last Monday after arresting him at his home in Grouville.
Yesterday, they returned a number of documents that were seized in the arrest.
But, when he tried to recall the telephone number of the UK Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, Senator Syvret found it had been deleted from his phone.
He said he believed police had deliberately erased it in order to "stop the political fallout" from his arrest.
"The police had this phone and its SIM card for six hours last Monday. They've obviously taken it out, copied the contents of the SIM card and certain key contact numbers, they've wiped," he said.
Two things are worth adding.
A new email shows that Labour's General Secretary Ray Collins chaired a secret meeting to create the Red Rag website now ensnared in the Smeargate scandal.
The email's existence links the dirty tricks site to the very TOP of the Labour Party.
And it exposes the LIE, put out by Downing Street, and repeated by government ministers this week, that the smears were just a minor aberration cooked up by a couple of renegades acting alone-and which would never have seen light of day.
The first is that, according to a PR Week report I blogged last September, it was Collins who asked Draper to advise Labour on using the new media. And according to the News of the World:
Collins granted Draper a pass to Labour Party HQ in Westminster, and even allowed him a Labour Party email account.The second is Draper's claim in a Guardian interview last Wednesday that he "honestly cannot remember whose idea it was to set up Red Rag".
If - and you may think this a big if - we believe Draper on this, that statement implies that the idea was discussed among a number of people in the Labour Party.
I never watch it myself, but I am sure he is right.
As far as I can tell, which isn’t very far, all children’s television is now policed by committees of single-parent lesbians, nursery assistants, social workers, outreach-policy face communicators and possibly Esther Rantzen.
Everything is made to inculcate simple, short messages about honesty, kindness, inclusivity, cosiness and sensible eating of organic, unprocessed food. The fun is merely there as a coating for the message; the entertainment quality is pretty remedial ...
Kids’ TV now isn’t about good and evil, it’s about constructing the image of a world where there is no evil at all, no sharp edges, nothing but cute lessons without blame, a bland conformity and lots of hugs. And what children learn, I suspect, is nothing at all.
Friday, April 17, 2009
You may also be interested in Austin Mitchell's reaction after reading it:
“Suicide may be the only answer. Though I will bet the bloody Labour Party has prohibited that on health and safety grounds, and that they won't be able to cremate the body because crematoria aren't allowed to smoke any more.”
The Rotten State of Britain
Gibson Square, 2009, £11.99
Eamonn Butler, the director of the Adam Smith Institute, was in Church House, Westminster, doing an interview for a Canadian TV station to promote this book. When he had finished he went outside with the camera crew to do some shots of him walking down the street.
After a couple of minutes a police car screeched to a halt, and two armoured officers got out to ask what they were doing.
Butler says it must have looked pretty obvious. The cameraman had a huge camera on a tripod and the interviewer was carrying a microphone like a shaggy dog.
But the police officer explained that, since they were on at least four different security cameras, he had to go through the procedure. Butler and the crew were obliged to provide identification and fill in forms. Name, address, date of birth, height...
All of which goes to prove the point Butler makes in this book. The Rotten State of Britain is a bit of a cuttings job, and its many claims are not referenced, but Butler succeeds in painting a clear and damning picture of the centralisation and loss of liberty we have suffered under 12 years of Labour government.
Among the facts unearthed in the book are that Britain has a quarter of the world’s CCTV cameras. And that in the year 2006/7 half of the 722,464 DNA samples collected by police came from children. One came from a seven-month-old girl.
Eamonn Butler combines this concern for liberty with a desire to make deep cuts in public spending. In doing so, he is a little unfair to Labour. True, the improvements gained from increased spending on education and health are disappointing, given the scale of that extra spending. But surely there has been some improvement?
But there is a challenge here for Liberal Democrats. We tend to be keen on the good things a strong state brings – like socialised health and education – and against the bad things, like surveillance and identity cards.
Being against nasty things and favour of nice ones is a natural instinct, but does not constitute a coherent political philosophy. We need to do some more thinking.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg rolled up his sleeves yesterday to clean windows at a hostel for the homeless.I'm not sure why this story made it into a Glasgow paper. Anyway, follow this link for a video of the event.
The MP washed two windows at the five-storey Salvation Army-run block in Bristol to see how social enterprise company Aspire provides jobs for the long- term unemployed and homeless.
North Dearne is in Jeff Ennis's Barnsley East and Mexborough constituency.
An ENTIRE South Yorkshire Labour Party branch has been suspended for over a YEAR – after an astonishing in-house row between its members, the Times can reveal.
At one stage, detectives were even drafted into the investigate fraud allegations, amid claims and counter-claims of "bullying and harassment". But no-wrong-doing was found.
The wrangle has resulted in the branch's activities being suspended until 2010 – amid Labour Party fears that the electorate will turn its back on the branch at next year's elections.
Labour chiefs have ordered a news blackout on the affair. An internal investigation report said all concerned should be warned that "speaking with/assisting the press will not be tolerated".
Thanks to The Lone Voice.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Someone photographing decrepit properties in Uxbridge had inadvertently snapped a car containing community support officers parked on a double yellow line. One of them came over and said he must delete the photograph.A report on the Guardian website shows it is still going on:
A 15-year-old in school uniform taking pictures at Wimbledon station as part of a GCSE project was stopped by community support officers and asked to sign forms under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Andrew Pelling (the former Tory who now sits as an Independent) had been stopped and searched on suspicion of terrorism for taking pictures of roadworks near East Croydon station.
Like most visitors to London, Klaus Matzka and his teenage son Loris took several photographs of some of the city's sights, including the famous red double-decker buses. More unusually perhaps, they also took pictures of the Vauxhall bus station, which Matzka regards as "modern sculpture".This report has its origin in a letter Herr Matzka had published in this morning's Guardian (scroll down to the bottom).
But the tourists have said they had to return home to Vienna without their holiday pictures after two policemen forced them to delete the photographs from their cameras in the name of preventing terrorism.
Matkza, a 69-year-old retired television cameraman with a taste for modern architecture, was told that photographing anything to do with transport was "strictly forbidden". The policemen also recorded the pair's details, including passport numbers and hotel addresses.
Easter Monday for centuries has seen local (and not so local) lads fall down the fields in a mass of thrashing arms and legs in order to put a bottle (in fact a small wooden keg) over a stream that runs in a deep cleft to the south of the village.Just an average day in Leicestershire.
This is pagan rivalry, an annual contest of brute force between Hallaton and the neighbouring village of Medbourne, shrouded in ritual and very, very, tribal.
It starts with the cutting-up and distribution of a Hare Pie at the church gates, a blessing of be-ribboned bottles on the Butter Cross followed by a bagpiped parade headed-up by a man in green velvet with a Kit William's style hare on a pole. And a girl looking like an Ovaltine Dairy Maid who throws buns at the crowd from a wicker basket.
Even more beer is put away, and then everyone troops up Hare Pie Bank to where the 'kicking' begins.
Matthew O'Callaghan, chairman of Melton Mowbray Food Partnership, said the deal was significant in two ways.
He said: "First, it shows stilton is becoming much more popular abroad and, second, it shows how the Chinese economy is expanding.
"It is certainly the case that the Chinese are acquiring western tastes. Maybe Melton Mowbray pork pies will be next."
I was more than once the beneficiary of Freud's largesse as he took groups of apparently random students out for boozy meals. For the student charities' campaign he produced The Rector's Cookbook, a collection of recipes that could be cooked in one pan on a single gas ring - in those days a not unusual sole cooking facility for a Dundee student.
He did a promotional piece for STV in a student flat in Springfield, equipped with a fold-away gas ring that swung out from the wall. Halfway through his cooking demonstration the cooking ring collapsed, the pan clashed to the floor, spraying everyone with chilli, and a jet of yellow flame shot across the room, setting fire to the bedclothes.
Freud turned to the camera and said, in the slowest and most deadpan voice imaginable as the room blazed around him: "And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the perfect demonstration of the conditions which students have beed reduced to under the Labour government."
It turns out that the home was described in the book In Whose Best Interests? Unjust Treatment of Children in Courts and Institutions, which was written by, amongst others, Laurie Taylor and published in 1980.
No 2 Abuse has some extracts.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
This was the first I had heard of it, but Pseuds' Corner and Home of the Frustrated Hack has an account of it. The incident took place before the FA Cup semi final between Spurs and Wolves:
Tragedy did not follow that day because, unlike in 1989, the police reacted in time.
in 1981 Spurs played Wolves in an FA Cup Semi Final at Hillsborough, and Spurs fans, like Liverpool fans eight years later, were allocated the now notorious Leppings Lane end.
Spurs fans, like Liverpool fans that went after them, felt that the ends were badly allocated. Leppings Lane was perceived to be the smaller end and should thus have been given to the team with the smaller travelling support. But this was probably just perception, and switching ends would sadly just have switched the suffering from one bunch of fans to another.
Spurs fans were sent through the concourses that led to the various pens behind the goal. And those directly behind the goal were the most popular. So just as pens 3 and 4 filled to dangerous levels in 1989, the same part of the ground filled dangerously quickly in 1981.
People were crushed not because of surging support or bad behaviour, but simply because the spaces between the large metal fences were too small. Indeed there was a feeling even before then, without benefit of hindsight, that the supposed capacity of Leppings Lane was overstated and unsafe.
Most of the films were made in or near Pinewood Studios. "A tree is a tree anywhere," explained Rogers, "And it's only funny if someone falls out of it. It doesn't matter where it is. We went to Chobham for Carry On Cowboy, and sometimes as far as Windsor or Maidenhead."
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Amusingly, The Red Rag is still in place.
The website set up to smear Tory politicians about their health, family and sex lives was registered to the House of Commons, The Times has learnt. The site, The Red Rag, was to be used to spread slurs prepared in No 10 by Damian McBride, Gordon Brown’s disgraced spin doctor.
The identity of its creators remains a mystery but Mr Brown’s official spokesman said yesterday that it was “not a matter for the Government”. A bogus applicant using the name “Ollie Cromwell” paid £8.99 to set up The Red Rag as a campaign blog. The buyer had to provide only a name, address, telephone number and e-mail to create the site on November 4 last year. The address given was the House of Commons, The Times has been told.
It happens that I used to work in the building in the 1980s. In those days it formed part of the headquarters of Golden Wonder, connected to a modern block next door. I never came across anything spooky, though I have heard of someone who saw a lavatory flush all by itself.
This is the spooky moment a ghostly white apparition was caught on camera as it eerily floated through the air.
What appears to be a glowing white orb can clearly be seen emerging from a fireplace in a hair salon that was once a courthouse - and where criminals used to be hanged in the cellar.
The property's current owner, hairdresser Harry Browns, 35, said his customers have been plagued by spooky apparitions for years.
Incidentally, I can find nothing on my shelves to support the claim that anyone was hanged in this building or even that it was ever a courthouse.
Wishful thinking from the Mail?
Monday, April 13, 2009
This short film was broadcast as past of Charlie Brooker's Newswipe last week.
As Sarah Ditum writes:
It reprises several themes from Curtis’ previous documentaries about the problems inherent in using television journalism as a way of interpreting the world. Audiences and journalists have deserted the dissection of complex political and social issues because that’s, well, a bit dull – and embraced instead an emotive interpretation, championing innocent and heroic individuals in the face of monolithic and impersonal ‘systems’.
By Curtis’s reckoning, this trope was born in the 1960s counterculture, came of age in the 80s with Live Aid, flourished in the 90s as a replacement for the east-vs-west certainties of the Cold War, and then foundered painfully on the complexities of the Rwandan genocide.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Back to the late 1980s when I was a district councillor and still bought my LPs on vinyl. One of the LPs I remember from those days is "We Too Are One" by the Eutythmics, and this is a live performance of my favourite song from it.
Because it comes from the David Letterman show, you have to suffer a couple of minutes of banter before you get to the song. You are allowed to skip to about 2:40 for the start of the song.
It is unusual to come across prominent artists singing in such simple circumstances, but this performance shows just how good Annie Lennox is. I always admired the Housemartins after hearing them sing "Caravan of Love" a capella for Mavis Nicholson.
Paul Heaton said he didn't like discussing his lyrics because "it's like having your work read out in class".
Which is why this award goes to Draper for his Life Support: A Survival Guide for the Modern Soul:
You really couldn't make it up.
Psychotherapy helps thousands of people every day: they feel happier, achieve more success and enjoy better relationships. Prominent psychotherapist Derek Draper has chosen to share his tips and tools from the therapy room to help exactly those people.
In this groundbreaking book he explores 40 key issues that impact almost everyone's lives, uses examples drawn from real life to help you gain a better understanding of why things happen, and provides clear insights and advice that will help you think about life's challenges in new, more positive ways.
Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West 1906-10.
The week so far
Saturday, April 11, 2009
An emergency States sitting has been called in the wake of Senator Stuart Syvret’s arrest over data protection allegations.
Using an obscure and rarely enacted provision in the Standing Orders of the States, a group of seven Members have formally requisitioned an emergency sitting.
They say they want the States to consider the decisions taken by the police and Home Affairs Minister Ian Le Marquand in relation to the arrest and detention of Senator Syvret.
From the News of the World website earlier this evening:
Tomorrow the News of the World will reveal the sensational details in the shocking email smears sent by Gordon Brown's top aide.
The PM's spin-doctor, Damian McBride, and Derek Draper, who heads Labour's internet campaigning, outlined a dirty tricks war of highly personal stories about top Tories.
The plan was far more sophisticated than McBride or Draper have claimed and was close to completion.
Emails seen by the News of the World show McBride and Draper schemed to spread false malicious stories that:
- Opposition leader David Cameron had an embarrassing illness
- Shadow Chancellor George Osborne's wife was "emotionally fragile" just because she appeared upset at parties
- A Tory MP used his position to get publicity for lover's business
- Involved allegations about female Tory MP Nadine Dorries and another named MP.
In the emails, McBride says: "We've got to keep up the momentum."
And my own from last September:
A bit of free advice to Labour strategists: encourage Derek Draper to go back to California.
Friday, April 10, 2009
The UK Press Gazette - which, sadly, is now a solely web-based publication - takes a more positive view of the outcome of John Randall's debate. We shall see.
Because I own land there, I take a keen interest in the Middlesex village of Sipson. I was concerned last Thursday when John Randall, the Tory MP for Uxbridge, said police had used anti-terrorism laws to stop someone photographing its buildings.
Sipson is the village that will be destroyed if a third runway is built at Heathrow. And Greenpeace has bought a field there to sell off in small plots (hence my landholding), making it hard for the authorities to arrange compulsory purchase.
Randall was taking part in the Easter adjournment debate. In his speech he referred to a debate on photography in public places he had called in Westminster Hall the previous day. Then, stories of the harassment of innocent photographers had tumbled from Randall and the other MPs taking part.
Someone photographing decrepit properties in Uxbridge had inadvertently snapped a car containing community support officers parked on a double yellow line. One of them came over and said he must delete the photograph.
A 15-year-old in school uniform taking pictures at Wimbledon station as part of a GCSE project was stopped by community support officers and asked to sign forms under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Andrew Pelling (the former Tory who now sits as an Independent) had been stopped and searched on suspicion of terrorism for taking pictures of roadworks near East Croydon station.
And who would dare take a camera to an event involving children these days?
The minister who replied was Shahid Malik. The Independent sketchwriter Simon Carr once said: “It's not that politicians lie, it's that they don't know if they are telling the truth.” He meant that ministers rarely know much about the events they discuss so authoritatively. They rely on advisers and civil servants to tell them what is going on out there.
Just before his time ran out, it began to dawn on Malik that the world he and his colleagues have built is nothing like he has been told. “Anecdotally,” he said “there seems to be a disconnect between what the Government intended and what might be happening on the ground.”
When they hear about that the whips will want to bury him under concrete at Sipson. To stop them, visit www.airplot.org.uk.
It is always pleasing when one can benefit the public weal whilst pursuing a private enthusiasm. As well as being an avid collector of paintings – I number several canvasses by Clement Freud’s niece Lucien amongst my haul – I have long been an accomplished amateur artist myself. My “Sunset Over Bonkers Hall”, for instance, may be found in the National Gallery in Oakham (of which I am a generous patron).
Hearing this talk of “quantitative easing”, I saw an opportunity to hit two birds with one fell swoop. I gave order that the Risograph I keep in the cellars here for the use of passing Focus editors be given over to producing Bank of Rutland five pound notes. I am rather proud of my etching for this, even if I have given the Duke rather a bulbous nose and his monocle features a little prominently for some tastes.
Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West 1906-10.
The week so far
Monday: Shooting squirrels with Lord Redesdale
Tuesday: Giving Jonathan Ross both barrels
Wednesday: Nick Clegg gets a haircut
Thursday, April 09, 2009
The man who introduced the world to Bob Marley and U2 has been named the most influential figure in the last 50 years of the British music industry.I know Sir George Martin produced the Beatles. But that is nothing. Because Chris Blackwell discovered the Spencer Davis Group.
Island Records founder Chris Blackwell received a special honour at the Music Week magazine awards in London.
He was picked from a shortlist of 20 leading UK-based executives.
Other contenders ranged from Sir George Martin, who signed and produced The Beatles, to X Factor and American Idol judge Simon Cowell.
An old article from Mojo has the tale:
Distantly related to the Crosse & Blackwell of soup fame, Chris grew up in Jamaica; after leaving Harrow, he dabbled in accountancy and property before finding success as a music business entrepreneur by scoring his first Number 1 record in Jamaica with 'Little Sheila' by Laurel Aitken in 1960.Now listen to Georgia on my Mind.
Two years later he was back in London and, with a $5,000 loan, set up Island Records to import Jamaican hits for sale to the growing West Indian community, personally delivering records to the stores in the back of a Mini Cooper.
After reaping his share of the six million sales of Millie's 'My Boy Lollipop' in 1964, he never looked back.His prospects improved further on June 1, 1964 when he took Millie to Birmingham to appear on Top Of The Pops. "I'd been told there were two bands in Birmingham I should see. One was Carl Wayne And The Vikings, who later became The Move. They were dressed in suits and very polished. I didn't really like them."
Blackwell moved on to the next club: "When I walked in, Spencer Davis was singing, and I really loved that. Then Steve sang and I couldn't believe it. It was like Ray Charles on helium. Unbelievable."