Sunday, 28 December 2008

Andy Burnham is a wanker

"I haven't started shaving yet, but already I have a really cool job with the, like, Government, okay. No, achtly, it's way book, seriously." - Andy Burnham, just before he broke into tears when a journalist wouldn't give back his new Nintendo DS, even though Andy said he could borrow it 'for just one go, all right'.

When asked in a recent interview with the Telegraph whether Government age ratings for internet sites could be introduced, 'Andy' Burnham, Culture Secretary and girly-looking schoolboy, replied:

Yes, that would be an option. This is an area that is really now coming into full focus.”
The current estimate of the number of new blogs started each day is 120,000. Gosh, the civil servant who's in charge of sticking a government age rating on each one is going to be jolly busy! Thank God HMG's record with IT and data projects is so bloomin' good, and that this government has no authoritarian instincts that would risk it abusing this power.

Sex and cigarettes

A new survey, publicised in the statistician's bible that is The Sun newspaper, suggests that on statistical average I will spend more of my life (four months) on cigarette breaks than having sex (three months).

As I don't smoke, this is worrying news indeed.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Christmas Eve addition: My mother tells me that she and my father were sitting quietly the other day in their livingroom, when George the cat walked in. 'George must be getting old', said she to my pa, 'he hasn't attacked the Christmas tree once this year'. George stopped in his tracks, stared at her, and then calmly strode over to the tree and knocked off a bauble.

If you're spending Christmas with a relative's cat, keep your wits about you, that's all I'll say.

Ultra-left quote of the millenium

One Nathiniel Mehr discussing the 20th anniversary of Band Aid, and the work of Bono et al in fighting famine and poverty in Africa, in the Weekly Worker four years ago this week:

As such the philanthropist is a reactionary in the tradition of the SS death-squads and the tanks of Tiananmen Square - he is, if anything, more of a danger because of the moral legitimacy - and hence popular credibility - afforded to him by the apparent humanism of his cause.

What, binge-drinking isn't good for you?

Regret the Error (a site dedicated to journalistic corrections) has a fantastically entertaining 'corrections of the year' page up.

There's lots to enjoy, but I particularly liked this -

The West Australian:

Binge drinking: Deakin University professor of psychology Robert Cummins points out that neither he nor his research said that binge drinking could be a good thing (Professor sees positive side of binge drinking, page 17, October 23). He said although his Wellbeing Index research found that the feeling of wellbeing in 18-25 year-olds remained high even after three drinks, this was not a good thing and made it difficult for policy-makers to devise controls for binge drinking. Moderation was the key to the link between alcohol consumption and happiness.

and this -

Best Photo Error

A report from the Press Gazette (UK):

The Eastern Daily Press has apologised after confusing the Bishop of Norwich with serial killer Steve Wright, known as the “Suffolk strangler”.
The paper printed a letter from Rupert Read of the Eastern Region Green Party calling for brothels to be closed following the Ipswich murders saying: “Surely that is the best memorial to the women who died at the hands of Steve Wright (pictured)..”
But the EDP printed a picture of the Bishop of Norwich, the Right Rev Graham James, with his dog collar clearly visible, instead of Wright.


Piss off, Pontiff

So, the Pope has said, in his 'end of year address to senior Vatican staff', that mankind needs saving from homosexuality.

Or, to put it another way, a bigoted old man in fancy dress has told a group of closeted men in dresses, who have all vowed never to make love to a woman, and who collectively run a secretive, powerful organisation that quite probably employs a higher percentage of abusers of young boys than any other in the world, that the biggest threat to mankind in a world facing environmental and financial catastrophe is...The Gayers.

And this is a man charged with spreading Christ's message of love and peace to the world.

What a blethering twat.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Classy, classy, classy

You may, or may not, be familiar with the delightful Lindsey German, SWP stalwart and 'Left List' candidate for London Mayor. After her infamous comments, when courting the votes of the Islamist far right, that gay rights shouldn't be a 'shibboleth' for the Left, she has, now the Respect experiment has failed, turned her back on her erstwhile Asian colleagues in a quite extraordinary manner:

"If white socialists had been elected in 2006 in Newham and Tower Hamlets (as they very nearly were) then the balance of forces and level of politics in those areas would have been raised.

Not 'good socialists', you notice, or 'revolutionary socialists'. No, the word she chose - in a closely argued article, not on the spur of the moment in conversation - is 'white'.

The SWP is imploding over at Socialist Unity, as its Central Committee lash out at each other. Goodness knows what foul creature is slouching towards Bethlehem, out of the wreckage, to be born. But unless you have a tin ear to history, you won't like the sound of a white socialist workers party.

Something fishy

From the television listings for Christmas Day (Christmas Day!):

National Geographic Channel:

4pm Monster Fish Caught Redhanded
5pm Megafish
6pm Fishzilla
7pm Monster Fish of the Amazon

Sinister. I just hope the authorities are keeping an eye.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Christmas cocktail

Hans still hasn't returned from last night's clubbing - in a brief muttered phone message, with Erasure playing loudly in the background, he has told us that he is 'a bit tied up' somewhere in Vauxhall - and so cocktail hour is left with me. Don't worry, it's not going to be some ghastly concoction involving cranberries (what's so festive about bloody cranberry juice? Keep it for when you have that thing that makes you pee a lot, that's what I say. And cranberries should not be allowed anywhere near cheese. Marks & Spencer, take note).'s the morning of Christmas Day. From down the stairs, you hear the voices of family members doing whatever terrible, terrible things your family members do on Christmas morning. The only way to approach matters is by heading straight into the Bucks Fizz, made 50-50 with very cold Champagne and freshly squeezed (there and then) orange juice. Refreshing, oh-so-healthy (my dear, it's positively dripping with Vit-C), it gives you what you need on Christmas morning when you're facing the grotesque annual novelty of breakfasting with your extended family - a controlled, elegant morning buzz. Red Harriet makes it a rule, she tells me, never to get out of bed on Christmas Day before she has heard the pop of the first Champagne cork, which is surely the right attitude.

Incidentally, I saw a litre of something calling itself Bucks Fizz (4% alcohol) on sale in our local shop the other day for £2.49. Good God in Heaven.

Saturday, 20 December 2008


If any of JMP's crack squad of readers have experience of keeping chickens, please let me know, either in the comments or by email at our new shiny email address in the header. I thank you.

Finbarr Saunders Corner

In further proof that this blog is a different beast from Normblog or the London Review of Books, we introduce an occasional immature, double-entendre filled and generally disreputable zone of JMP, unpopular with sensible girls and teachers: Finbarr Saunders Corner. Quotes are wholly innocent and come only from utterly un-risque sources.

The champagne breaking over the bow of FS Corner takes the form of the Blessed Delia discussing Brussels sprouts, in her essential "Delia Smith's Christmas" =

" any event they should be tight and firm and not too large."

Altogether now: fnarr fnarr!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Campbell foresaw Mandy back under Brown

"13 May 2003
We [Piers Morgan and Alastair Campbell] discussed my Mandelson show. 'Yes it was interesting. I agree with you he was right to be sacked first time, but not the second, with hindsight.'

'Could you have him back again?'

'I don't think so, no. Everyone would just slate Tony for taking a risk again. But if Tony ever stood down, and Gordon took over leading the party, for argument's sake, then he'd be mad not to give him something.'

- The Insider, Piers Morgan's vastly entertaining 'memoirs in diary form'

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Gordon 'gets on with the job'

Gordon Brown this morning 'pays tribute' to Fiona Phillips, who is leaving GMTV.

Luckily, there are no pressing matters of state at the moment, and no other group of people to whom tribute could more usefully be paid, and this was generally clearly an obviously sensible...oh, you fill in the sarcastic slagging off.

An outrage in a world of outrages

I refer, of course, to 'Gentleman' Ed Stourton's sacking from the Today programme, for no apparent reason, and in a deeply unprofessional way.

You're wondering, of course, how to express your quivering indignation. The young people tell me that there is a Facebook petition, which FB cognoscenti may sign. For the more mature blog reader, we have the Telegraph's online petition here.

I tell you, if Greece-style protests spread to our shores, it will be over this. The Today editor does not know what righteous fury he has unleashed.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

SWP smaller than the BNP

According to an internal SWP document posted on Socialist Unity, the SWP's membership earlier this year was 6,155. The leaked BNP membership list had over 10,000 names on it.

The SWP thought their revolutionary dreams had come true when their leaders addressed the vast Stop the War demos of 2003, many of whom were holding their vile 'We're all Hezbollah now' banners. Now they're smaller than Griffin's gang of misfits. What a joke.


You want cuteness? Zooborns have it in spades.

Poshness and lateness

While in London, it occurred to me that being late, in all manner of things, is posh. It's posher to eat at nine than at six. It's the done thing not to turn up bang on time for dinner at someone's house. The Karen Matthews's of this world have their first children at 18, the middle classes somewhat...later. The posher you are, the later you get a job; and of course, if you're really posh (or really not) you don't get a job at all. And so on. Something to cling to on days when you're running excruciatingly late.

All this talk of poshness reminds me of the story of Tim Sainsbury, a Tory MP whose family founded the supermarket chain, meeting Nicholas Soames, descendant of the dukes of Marlborough, when the latter was kitted out in his hunting gear. "Going rat catching, Nick?" Sainsbury asked, surprised. Soames replied: "Fuck off, you grocer: you don't tell a gentleman how to dress on a Friday."

"You don't tell a gentleman how to dress on a Friday." Words to live by.

Royster Vasey

Gosh, what a long time without posting. Sorry. An enjoyable weekend in old London Town left your blogger feeling rather jaded. It's possible that there was over-indulgence. Blogging in the run-up to Christmas was always going to be patchy, I suppose.

Anyway, Hans, JMP's mixologist, is very excited by a new cocktail to which we were introduced in the big smoke, the Royster Vasey.

Take one oyster, a small amount of chopped shallots, and some horseradish vodka. Mix a bit. Take a deep breath, and swallow. Chewing optional.

As Hans says, while it's something of an act of faith, it's a fascinating texture sliding down your throat, and it's a perfect sharpener!

Update: Hans has reminded me, in the comments, that lime juice and Tabasco are also essential. Trust Hans to remember the tart and spicy side of things. Still, I stand chastened and corrected. I am increasingly of the view that Jeeves served something very similar to Bertie on occasions when his master needed a pick-me-up, saying on first serving it (as you'll remember):

"If you would drink this, sir. It's a little preparation of my own invention. Gentlemen have told me they find it extremely invigorating after a late evening."

Thursday, 11 December 2008

December's 'ouch that's gotta hurt's

In what I am tempted to make a JMP regular feature, first up in this month's bizarre accidents we have Liu Cheong: Chinese schoolboy, archer, and dedicated King Harold impersonator. Shot through the eye by mistake by a classmate, the arrow went all the way through to the back of his skull, but somehow missed his brain.

Ouch. Apparently the girl who shot him had to be treated for shock. I bet she did.

And I have also enjoyed the story from Vienna of the actor whose character commits suicide in a play by cutting his throat...only on Saturday night the prop knife somehow got swapped for a real one.

He didn't kill himself, but did cut his throat on stage, and, in mum-speak, did himself a bit of a mischief. Apparently, there is now talk of foul play, and of a brilliantly Agatha Christie-esque murder attempt. In fact, I'd be amazed if this entertaining method of murder hasn't already featured in a Poirot...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Santa's been on the piss

The Radio 4 Event Horizon

will be reached when the excellent Listen Against is featured on Pick of the Week. I don't know what will happen when that occurs, but I hope it involves Peggy from the Archers falling down a well.

Ah. So that's what it means

Thinking people have for some time wondered what 'compassionate conservatism', the apparent credo of George W Bush, actually, you know, means. Now, in the course of an interview with National Review Online, he sets it out. Clearly and categorically.

"Compassionate conservatism basically says that if you implement this philosophy, your life would become better. That’s what it says."

Marvellous. Sounds great. Now, let's hope that's cleared that up, and that we'll hear no more about it.

Amazon and Christmas

Mark Steyn reports that the US Amazon site is running scared of the dreaded 'C' word (Christmas), and running a '12 days of holiday' promotion*. Bleurrggh. A reader emails then to let them know how wet he thinks this is, and gets this reply:

Please accept our sincere apologies if you were offended by the use of the word "Christmas" on our website. Our intention in referring to Christmas is to give specific ordering guidance for a specific holiday, not to exclude other faiths.

Reminds me of the letter in Private Eye a few years ago from a man who wrote to Virgin Trains Customer Relations Department to say, look, I know you get a hard time, I just wanted to say that I had a really good, efficient and cheap journey to and from Manchester last weekend. In reply he got a letter along the lines of 'We are sorry that on your recent journey you did not experience the high levels of service that Virgin Trains customers expect. We enclose a £10 voucher towards the cost of your next journey with us...'

*Interestingly, Amazon seem to have changed this to the 12 days of Christmas since Steyn commented on it. The power of the blogosphere...

Monday, 8 December 2008

Quote for the day

"Illness is one of those things that men do to women." - Dr Rose Marie

The forgotten tragedy

I have thought intermittently for a few months about the crash of an American Airlines plane into a neighbourhood of Queens, New York, in November 2001, killing over 260 people. So shortly after 9/11, the immediate thought was, of course, terrorism; and when it turned out to be a more prosaic mix of engineering failure and pilot error, it disappeared from public consciousness, in my memory at least, almost immediately. This is remarkable considering that this was an airliner that plunged into the streets of New York - almost as cinematic an image as the Twin Towers attack itself - and in view of the chaos that ensued, with all of New York's bridges and tunnels, and all three airports, being shut.

But this was a time of emails being exchanged swapping breathless, and mostly untrue, accounts of "the Stock Exchange being evacuated because a bomb has been found", and so on; and a disaster that wasn't the result of terrorism somehow simply didn't count.

This was probably natural and inevitable at the time. But I find it interesting that this event hasn't seeped back into public consciousness. It has just been lost.

The Wiki entry on it is here.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Lewis Carroll

"Lewis Carroll" is, at time of typing, number 12 in Google Trends' list of top American search terms for today. I have no idea why, but what a charming thought that more American internet users just might be interested in this classic Victorian children's author than, say, Britney. 

And don't tell me that Lewis Carroll is the name of the latest hot porn star, I don't want to hear it.

Sex in Paul's bedrooom

Hans, JMP's resident mixologist, has come back from his residential training with a twinkle in his eye, ready to deal with all our Sunday cocktail hour requirements. His latest discovery is 'Sex in Paul's bedroom' which, he tells me, is surprisingly satisfying. 

Ingredients: 1 ounce each of raspberry liqueur, Malibu and pineapple juice.

Method: pour ingredients into a Martini glass. Garnish with a glace cherry. Do not mix.

And, as Hans says, bottoms up! 

Saturday, 6 December 2008

A people's Woolies..for local people

That pus-filled spot on the face of the body politic, George Galloway, has come up with a slightly less objectionable idea than normal. Taking a break from shilling for the gay-killing Iranian regime, Gorgeous George suggests on the comrades' blog, Socialist Unity, that the Government should buy the stricken chain Woolworths. As economically sound as ever, he points out that it is a real bargain, as it's for sale for only a pound - "although", he bathetically if honestly points out, "there would be additional costs to keep it as a going concern". But then it does get a bit Royston Vasey:

"...the government could turn it into a people’s Woolies, employing local people, buying from local producers..."

Buying from local producers. Bless him. George trying the middle class language of localism and  sustainability - let's face it, it sounds like he wants Woolies to be a socialist farmers' market for hoodies - is like watching a dog riding a bicycle. It's eye-catching, though not done very well, but the miracle is that it is done at all.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Worst. Speaker. Ever.

Q What do you call someone who blames his subordinates for failures which are his responsibility?

A Mr Speaker.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008



Mr Speaker's statement in full

It's not my fault.

It's the Serjeant at Arms' fault.

And the police's.

But not mine.

So, just to be clear: it's not my fault.

Mumbai and the T-word

Good analysis here at the WSJ of the language used to decsribe the attacks and attackers by various journalists and news outlets. Is it really true that Jon Snow on Channel 4 News called the terrorists 'practitioners'? Insert your own George Orwell reference here.

Disturbing stuff, and enough to give one a little flush of the 'Mad Mels'.

Mumbai: "The service was immaculate"

You may have missed this nice little story about a group of Britons, Irish and Indians who barricaded themselves in a restuarant in the Taj Mahal hotel when the attacks took place. According to Nick Hayward, a Brit who was there -

We all decided that even though we had alcohol within reach we wouldn’t touch it because it seemed like a bad idea to get drunk. But come 5am, we were fairly confident the police were going to get us out, so I marched over to the bar and found a bottle of vintage Cristal champagne and opened it and began pouring it into glasses.

Then the head waiter came rushing across to me and said, “No, no, you can’t do that!” and I said, 'Well we’re going to' and he said, 'No sir, those are the wrong type of glasses. I shall find you champagne flutes.'

And he did. The service was immaculate.


Hmm..perhaps some training is in order

This is a photo of a member of the Indian security services taken during the attacks. Now I'm not an expert, but is that really the right way to fire a machine-gun?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Ooh, how refreshingly...retro

From the always entertaining Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) blog ("Welcome to the CPGB-ML's weblog. We are for communism and against imperialism." is the cheery heading), an excerpt from a speech by one Joti Brar this year on the anniversary of the October Revolution. It provides a rare example to read the words of a modern day, unrepentant Stalinist:

Stalin’s name is a swear word; you can’t use it, it’s synonymous with fear and loss of liberty, with the evil KGB, and with a Big Brother culture, so that even those who’d understood in theory that yes, socialism is a good thing, and think that probably what happened in the Soviet Union might have been alright, they couldn’t find the enthusiasm, they couldn’t overcome this barrage of propaganda that had been instilled into them – all this prejudice – to find out for themselves, and to actually stand up proudly and say ‘You know what? This is nonsense! This is not the truth about socialism; this is not the truth about the Soviet Union.’

But we do need to understand the significance of the Soviet Union. We need to read works of literature produced in the Soviet Union. They bring to life life under socialism like nothing else can. And we should read books about the years when socialism was being constructed in the Soviet Union. Novels like How the Steel Was Tempered by Nikolai Ostrovsky, The Zhurbins, Ivan Ivanovich, or books like Soviet Democracy or The Stalin Era; books that describe the life of ordinary people at a time when the Soviet Union was going from strength to strength.

From the time of the revolution up until the time of Stalin’s death, if you read these works of literature, if you read the works of eye witnesses, [you find out that] the Soviet Union was the most incredible place to live, and the Soviet novels illustrate really beautifully how socialism can unlock the tremendous creative powers of working people, imbue them with a spirit of enthusiasm for their work and with a feeling that they really can achieve anything that they put their minds to.

And later there is praise for the wonderfully enlightened North Korean administration. On the grounds that there are no adverts there!

Like the Soviet Union before it, if you go to the DPRK today, something that hits people when they go there (and I’m sorry to say I never have yet, but it’s something that’s always related to me when I talk to people who have been) is that there are no advertisements on the streets. Can you imagine a life free from that bombardment of rubbish?

Well, it's a life free from liberty and enough to eat too, of course, but hey-ho, swings and roundabouts I suppose.

At a time when the glamorous parts of the far Left (if that's not an oxymoron), like Galloway and the SWP, have, unforgivably, embraced the grim, racist, communalist politics of Islamism and anti-Semitism, it is really quite cheering to come across a good old fashioned Communist.

Mama Mia!

Surfing several miles behind the rolling wave of the cultural zeitgeist, your humble blogger finally watched the DVD of this at the weekend. As you'll know if you've seen it - it's bloody brilliant, and Meryl Streep a revelation as a gutsy belt-it-out musical star. It seemed to me it had the air of a sixth form end of term review, or a school play, where everyone involved is having the best time.

If you don't watch it with a stupid grin on your face throughout, you're clinically dead, and should check in to a morgue right now.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Damian Green: it gets worse

A few days into this strange saga and, despite the huge amount of coverage it has received, I think the significance of it has still not properly sunk in.

Jacqui Smith is sticking to her 'I knew nothing and am proud of it' line. Is she lying? Is she incompetent and didn't ask to be kept updated about a criminal investigation into her own department? Or is the Met out of control? None is a particularly comforting thought. 

La Smith has been stressing how she respects the 'operational independence' of the police. This is a red herring. First, she is politically accountable for them, so she can't sidestep responsibility for what they do. Second, say the West Midlands police began an operation in the aftermath of a terrorist incident of swamping Muslim areas and using all available powers to stop, question and search Muslim youths, apparently indiscriminately, causing a huge upsurge in ethnic tension. Would she stand idly by and refuse to comment on the grounds that it was an operational matter? Of course not. It is right that Smith cannot say anything that would prejudice an ongoing police investigation. But that does not mean she has to enter into purdah on this matter. She can comment in general terms on the privileges of Parliament, on the circumstances in which anti-terror police officers should undertake searches, and so on, without prejudicing the police's inquiries.

When the question is not 'who knew before?' but 'what was their response afterwards?' there is no comfort to be gained either. Only Harriet Harman seems to have found this disturbing, and God hep you when she is the conscience of your party. All the rest take refuge behind the old 'ongoing operational matter' shield. Phil Woolas on Friday went so far as to imply that the action that was taken happened because there is more to the story than we know about. Well, now we know there isn't. No security or intelligence information was involved, only material that was embarrassing to the Government. Woolas was not only refusing to express any disquiet at this extraordinary action, he was taking advantage of it to smear Green further.

Oh sorry, the police have let it be known that there is more to it. Green not only received leaks, he is being investigated for encouraging their making. Crumbs. In the language of the statement, Green is thought to have 'groomed' - 'groomed!' - the naive, innocent, boyish 26 year old civil servant at the heart of the inquiry. The dirty fuckin' old Tory! 

If this incident wasn't politically directed, then it raises huge questions about the Met's judgment, and not just because of that extraordinary and inflammatory choice of verb. When the security alert level remains at severe, when Londoners are told to phone 999 only when the burglar is actually in the house, what do we make of an organisation that decides to tie up nine counter-terrorist officers for a day, along with all the back up and all the manpower needed to read and analyse all the private constituency correspondence that has been seized, in the course of an investigation into whether an obscure 18th century non-violent common law offence has been committed?

Bloggers have been in the forefront of those who claim that this is a genuinely authoritarian government, and the reactions of senior figures to this, more than anything else, illustrate why so many feel such disquiet. Labour have lost the instinct for liberty. Brown once gladly, brazenly accepted non-security sensitive leaks, and celebrated doing so as a vital part of the democratic process. Now he makes no comment in relation to a Member of Parliament being held for nine hours by anti-terrorist officers, and having his home searched, for doing the same thing.

Fuzzy Britain

This is a composite of 14 representations of Britain on 14 different world maps, adjusted to scale.

Sorry, I can't do the necessary technical malarkey to shrink it down to fit properly, but you get the drift.

Ben Terrett, a graphic designer who blogs at the trendy looking Noisy Decent Graphics, created this image. He became interested a few years ago in different cartographical representations of Britain. He began with the rather standard expectation that Britain would tend to be represented rather bigger than it really is, especially on older maps, because he expected a correlation between Britain's power and importance in the world, and its relative size on maps. So far, so ho-hum. What he didn't expect was significant differences in the shape of Britain, not only in older maps but between modern maps too. Mr Terrett comments -

"If you look at all the maps (separately), they all look kind of OK. When I put them all together, it looks like madness. Like people taking liberties with the truth.”

Madness seems a bit strong...but it does seem odd. I mean, isn't this stuff supposed to be standardised by now?

Still, as the Strange Maps website, which linked to this, reminds us -

"All maps are lies."