Monday, 15 December 2008

Diana Watch

I was 2 and a half when I was born. Can you imagine my disappointment this morning when I got up and went to the kitchen, turned on the radio and the only working channel was Planet Rock and the tune that they were playing was Bon Jovi, it wasn’t the finest start to my day if I’m honest.
I’m sorry it’s late but I was going to do it yesterday afternoon but I had a surprise work instead, it seems that most of our staff are off sick with flu. I’m told it is very unpleasant, significant other has had it for over a fortnight now and is only now starting to feel better, so far no sickness in me, annoying smug I think you’ll find.
I have decided that I am deliberately obtuse. Monday was supposed to be the busiest internet shopping day of the year so I decided not to buy anything on purpose. On the subject of Christmas shopping we have an update, I have found a Transformers Megatron for my nephew, which is nice, but I now have another problem. What on earth do you buy a 96 year old for Christmas? If you’ve lived that long the likelihood is that you have most of things that you need yet I have to think of a present for my Nana’s 97th birthday on the 20th and then a Christmas present for 5 days later, it gets harder with each pressing year. Many, many years ago (about 8 or 9 to be honest) she asked for a 5 year diary, “that’s a bit optimistic” I said to her but which of us now has egg on our face? That would be eggy faced Martyn.

There have been some news stories around this week but they are all a little dull, repetitive or depressing but this seems to be a sort of news blog entry type of thing so let’s give one or two of them a go.
Two stories from the EU were quite entertaining, the first one involves those nice people in the Republic of Ireland, that’s the bit in the south that didn’t plant bombs everywhere that does seem to have been forgotten in our “War on Terror”, who said “No” to the EU constitution in a referendum many months ago and since then the whole constitution project has been dead in the water as all member states have to ratify it but now the brilliant minds that hide somewhere within the EU have come up with a plan of such staggering genius it makes you wonder why these people are not out curing cancer or doing something else worth while. There plan is so simple, why didn’t we think of it? The plan is this; ask the Irish if they are sure. That’s right, the Irish are going to get another go at getting the answer to a very simple question, would you like an EU constitution, right. They got it wrong last time so let’s see if they’ve learnt anything. The likelihood is, of course, that in asking a second time and making themselves look a bit silly that those who support the “Yes” campaign will loose by even more because you just annoy people be saying, “are you sure?” “no, really, are you sure” “is that you’ll final answer”
The other story is not so much about the EU but more about European politics in general. The German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck criticized Gordon Brown’s plan to save the economy in an interview say that the VAT cut would make no difference and that we would have levels of government debt that would take a generation to work off. Whilst both of these things are true the funny thing was the statement from the German Government offering “Clarification”. The statement said “it is not about criticizing our British friends,” really? Because that really is what it sounded like to me. The statement went on to say, “the Finance Minister simply made very clear…….. why a limited drop in VAT is not an appropriate instrument for Germany or for the fight against the Global recession.” Uh huh. Whilst it wasn’t about criticizing you, your idea is rubbish. It must be nice to be in politics, you can say one thing and then some one in your department will issue a statement for you spelling out what you meant to say in a special form of civil service double talk, nice.

A quick mention for assisted suicide, told one of the stories was depressing, as it came up twice this week. The first time was when the Crown Prosecution Service decided not time press charges against parents who help their 27 year old son take his life in Switzerland earlier in the year. This leaves us in an interesting legal grey area because helping someone to end their life in illegal in this country, helping them include enabling them to travel to another country where it is legal i.e. Switzerland, but, as far as I’m aware, the CPS has never pressed charges against anyone who has done this and as our legislators flatly refuse to even discuss the subject we are left with this situation were whilst it is illegal you won’t get prosecuted so it is sort of legal. Not the best way to leave this very complicated and emotive issue I think you will agree. Personally I am in favour of assisted suicide, if it was necessary I would like that option please. I would like to choose the manner and timing of my death if I was that ill. Obviously the problems would come in the legal framing of this so that people couldn’t be cajoled into doing it or people who felt that they had become a burden on their family etc but still I would like that option. You would put an animal out of its suffering, so why would you not help some one you love. Suffering is not just physical pain, it is the knowledge that at some point in your life the time is going to come all you can do is blink, you are feed by a tube, a machine breaths for you and all you can do is see this happening. The counter arguments are strong and persuasive but when they involve quality of life arguments the person best placed to make decisions on that is the person suffering.
The other mention of it was because Sky showed a documentary about it midweek. A couple’s journey was shown as they decided what they were going to do and then the final act as the man took his own life. There was shock and outrage in our papers, “how can they show a man die?” was the line taken by most of them. It’s a terrible thing, a new low, etc etc, oh and here are some pictures of it! I’m sorry? What now? Television is bad for showing it but it’s ok for you? No, fine, just so that we know where the line is. Many groups, mostly religious, were appalled that this program would be shown because it would “glorify” assisted suicide. Two points here, I am assuming that most of them hadn’t seen the film because very few people had; I don’t think they were at a press screening so they weren’t really making a well informed point and “Glorifying” assisted suicide? Glorifying death is very difficult with several thousand years of religious fundamentalism behind you. Simply showing some people making the most important decision that anyone can every make and then carrying out that decision isn’t glorifying anything, it shows how hard the choice is. It shows that these choices are not hurried, rash or flippantly made. No one was forced or persuaded. 2 rational people made a well informed decision. No more, no less. Many people just upset about a film on television showing death it’s self. I’m sorry; do you not watch the news? It is wall to wall death and suffering. Was it because it was a real, actual death and not a television entertainment death? It was not a Hollywood film or and HBO series, it was not news-atainment, it was real. It was a real person dying and that is hard to watch I can assure you.

A quick mention for the BBC’s Sport Personality of the Year, an amusing concept for me as most sportsman don’t seem to have a personality, but well done Chris Hoy, he was my choice, and well done Ben Geyser from Dorchester who won the Unsung Hero award for his work with local boxers.

And so to the awards,

The Award for Wuss of the Week,

This goes to the “comedian” Alan Carr who felt it necessary to apologise for a joke he made BACKSTAGE, not during the show, at National Comedy Awards. He said that he originally planned his Celebrity Ding Dong sketch to feature Rough Women not Fashionistas.
"It didn't work out because they couldn't cast it. I suppose it is a bit difficult to find rough women. I suppose Shannon Matthew's mum was busy," he said.
"Oh yeah, she would be my dream guest. I think she's a gay icon. People like a bit of rough don't they?"
Carr added: "I must be obsessed with her actually if you look at my Google searches. So I should dedicate this award to her."

My problem is not the joke, although it isn’t that funny, it’s the speed at which he apologised. It took him less than 24 hours because a couple of papers got a bit pissy, good, it’s his job, but clearly he doesn’t believe in the things that he said otherwise he would have stood by his remark.

The Award for Shaping My Formative Years,

This goes to Oliver Postgate, co-creator of Bagpuss, the Clangers and Ivor the Engine to name but a few who died this week. As a mini tribute here are a few little clips from some of his programs,

Bye for now.

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