Sunday, October 21, 2007

So it turns out there may be gay characters in Harry Potter after all

I wrote a post after the final Harry Potter book came out speculating about the backlash there would have been from the christian right if JK Rowling had included an openly gay character in her books. Some, of course, choose to read my post as general whinge about a lack of representation, but hey that's their hang up not mine.

Well I guess we are about to find out. And could JK have chosen a more emotive figure to out? Well maybe Harry, but the idea that the strong father figure who had hundreds of children under his wing (and by all accounts was pretty handy in a fight in his day) was a friend of dorothy is going to send some bigots head's spinning.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


15-6 was a fair enough result and I do think Cueto's foot was in touch, but it still hurts to have been close for so long and for it all to slip away because of a couple of silly penalties.

Oh well, at least Quins won.

Its the hope that gets me.

So here we are, World Cup final day. I'm sure I'm not the only bloke (and quite a few ladies too) who has woken up with a knot of apprehension in his stomach this morning. In fact its been building for several days. It is fair to say that for once the taxpayer did not get their money's worth out of me this week.

This week has been different to the last couple. Having witnessed our thrashing to South Africa in the pool stages, and our less than convincing win against Tonga, I didn't give England a prayer against the Aussies. Last week following the dramatic scenes in Cardiff I thought there was no way the French would let their own World Cup slip away from them. It wasn't until Jonny slipped over that drop goal that I believed we could do it.

And now? well now I have hope. After winning two games we should have lost, one must have hope.

On paper we shouldn't stand a chance. Man to man its probably only in the front row that we have an edge, and South Africa play the kind of territorial game that looks to score off mistakes well suited to beating us. With Habana and Pietersen on the wings any loose kicks, a perennial problem for this England team, or turnovers, Paul Sackey I am looking at you, and Phil Vickery will be giving another inspirational team talk under the posts.

But you could have said similar things about France and Australia, so there is hope. Throw in every Jonny Come Lately spewing forth their opinion about how Saint Jonny is going kick us to glory (he isn't, a 60% success rate is not acceptable for a club let alone an international place kicker) and you can't help but think we can do it. There is hope, and I'm afraid come around 10 o'clock this evening that hope is going to get crushed. And that is going to hurt. A lot.

At least I'm not in SA.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Is it a bad sign if you can't remember the play's name? (Moonlight & Magnolias - Tricycle Theatre)

I feel that it is probably a bad sign when 24hours after seeing a play I had to look up what it was called. That unfortunately is the case with Moonlight & Magnolias.

Not that it didn't leave an impression. After a couple of hours with my knees rammed into the seat in front and my feet twisted underneath me by the lack of legroom in the Tricycle I doubt my legs are going to be pain free for a while. Unfortunately what was billed as a comedy had too few laughs in it to distract me from the growing numbness in my extremities. And don't even get me started on accents, one character regularly went from Brooklyn Jew to Home Counties BBC announcer, via comedy German, and back within a single line. Unfortunately I think he was supposed to be from Chicago.

I would have left at the interval if I hadn't been wedged into my seat!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Heaven knows I'm miserable now (Control)

Trip to the cinema this evening to catch Control the Ian Curtis biopic. Its been praised to the heavens by the critics, and for good reason. Even if it starts slowly by the second half it has dragged you in to such an extent that the ending, even though you know what's coming, is devastating. It is the closest I've been to crying in a cinema since I blubbed through the last 15mins of Boys Don't Cry.

Sam Riley is a revelation, with a mere shrug of his shoulders and a downward roll of his eyes he communicates the absolutely devastating depression Curtis suffered in the last months of his life. And Anton Corbijn's direction, although sometimes a little by the numbers in terms of plot progression, is never less than visually stunning. Even the credits are a joy to look at. Go and see it.

PS the advert below, which was part of the trailer reel, tickled my funny bone which probably says about as much about me as anything else.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Time for Ming to go?

So with the threat of a snap election out of the way the rumblings against Ming have begun. At times like these it is tempting to circle the wagons, mutter darkly about media agendas and cling to the evidence that we always slump during the mid-term. As a natural loyalist I honestly wish I could drink the kool aid too.

But, I can't get the image of a slowly declining yellow line out of my head.

The line that tracks our seemingly inexorable decline in the polls.

I can't shake the memory of a candidate in one of our key target seats reacting with derision at the idea of Ming coming to visit during a recent local by-election. In years past a visit from the leader was something to be trumpeted, spread across the front of a tabloid, and the picture reused ad-nausium. Now? If you were a local resident you would never have known he was there.

I can't forget the feeling of tramping round the streets in the last couple of weeks knowing that whatever we did on the ground the national position meant we were toast.

Others, more experienced (more disciplined?) caution us against playing into the media's agenda. I have sympathy with Stephen's position. It is clear that some in the media have an agenda they wish to push; and others are willing to follow the narrative rather than the truth. Maybe we shouldn't feed it. Maybe we should put our head in the sand and hope it goes away.

I can't.

I don't blame Ming and his team for being lumped with a media that had taken against him before he had chance to establish himself. As I wrote in May, we have Charlie Kennedy to blame for that. If he hadn't clung on when it was clear that his position had become untenable there wouldn't have been the need for such a botched assassination.

What I can blame team Ming for is not being able to change that narrative. Sure the media is against us, sure it must be like pushing water up hill, and sure, I couldn't do it. But suck it up! Its your job. If you can't deliver get out of the way.

Not that I would, or could, argue that the Ming Dynasty has been a disaster for the party. Far from it. It is clear that after the chaos of the later part of the Kennedy era the centre of the party is much more professional, and I think we are slowly groping towards a coherent policy platform. One that is both traditionally liberal, but also potentially popular. I suspect that if an election had been called this autumn I would have had less problems defending our 2007 manifesto on the door step than the 2005 edition.

That is what makes the current situation so annoying. We have policies that could be popular, if only we could present them. But we can't. A strong spring conference speech is overshadowed by ill considered briefing about coalitions with Labour. Our brief opportunity to sell our plans to cut income tax by 20% is drowned out by talk of “hammering the rich”. For Christ's sake this 2007 not 1977. We are supposed to be Liberals not the bloody Socialist Workers.

I respect Ming immensely. I voted for him last year because in a political world dominated by spin and sophistry I thought that he would stand out as a straight shooter. Unfortunately at times it seems like he is shooting straight at his foot.

All true, some may say, but what is the alternative?

Another bloody coup and all the damage that would do to us. Followed by a jump into the unknown with either Chris or Nick. How can I know that that would solve our problems? I don't. But I do know that for Ming the die seems to have been cast. We have choice. Hunker down with Ming and hope to minimise our losses at the next election. Or take a chance that a new leader would drawn a line under the last two and a bit years and gain us enough space for us to put forward our alternative to this tired Labour Government and an intellectually bankrupt Conservative opposition.

In May after the disappointing local elections I thought that realistically we had until the end of the summer to change the narrative or risk losing much of what we have gained over the last few years. Well summer has come and gone, and things (if you believe the polls) have only got worse.

So, with regret, and a fervent wish that the world was fair, I think its time to call for Ming to fall on his sword. Go now Sir Menzies, please. For I suspect that we all respect you too much to do what is necessary if you don't turn this round.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Favourite headline of the day.

I know Schadenfreude is generally a bad thing, but headlines like "All Blacks plead for mercy" can't but fail to bring a smile to your face.

If they felt under pressure this time round (and from reading the New Zealand papers on the web it appears that a day of national mourning is about to be announced) imagine what its going to be like in 4 years time when the tournament returns to the Land of the Long White Cloud?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Oh such a perfect day

Yes! Yes! Yes! and Yes! (I know we were supposed to be well up for an election but lets face it we dodged a bullet on that one).

Monday, October 01, 2007

Labour are going to have fun with this...

it may be an indication of how debased our political culture has become that my first thought when I saw the headline "Drug Dealers are Victims too says Letwin", wasn't "interesting point" or even "the man's talking bollocks " but "the Labour attack monkeys are going to have fun with that quote!".