Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Christmas Number One

What have we done? What have we done? It seems that we may have killed the charts. Forgive us father for we know not what we do. We only did it because we didn't want another Karaoke Christmas number one but all we have ended up doing is giving more money to Sony BMG and, therefore, Cowell. Who, by the way, is not evil as some have claimed, he is not interesting enough for that. It is banality that ruins through his veins not the dark, slow flowing juices of Beelzebub.

What am I talking about? I am talking about the battle for this year’s Christmas number one. A strangely arbitrary obsession that used to be reserved for novelty records, like Mr Blobby or that slowed down a bit Tears for Fears cover by Gary Joules (It was Mad World by the way, how soon they forget) or Cliff Richard. The Chart is compiled from sales of singles sold in the week before Christmas and is announced my Mark Goodier (does he still do it? It’s been a while since I listened, I can’t imagine that that much has changed.) That was the way it was. It was our little, never fully explained or understood, tradition, like attempting to choke small children by slipping loose change into their Christmas pudding. That was the way it stayed for many years and we were happy with that.
Then something large and dark loomed over the horizon but it was on ITV so we ignored it. Oh the Humanity. Oh our Hubris! Now every year we have which ever easily molded dullington has won the X-factor (other Cowell produced programs are available with similar outcomes. The man has even managed to make Susan Boyle marketable, which is something I suppose. Ignored her mental health but made her marketable) is pretty much guaranteed to get to the, almost mythical, number one slot.

For the last few years there has been some light campaigning to get some other records into this position, Leonard Cohen's original of Hallelujah or, my personal favourite, We're All Gonna Die by Malcolm Middleton. This year however, the campaign has really gained some traction. It started on Facebook and then moved on to Twitter. What is this record that has been chosen to try and take on the might of a Miley/Miley Cyrus cover (say what you like about Achy Breaky Heart but at least you knew how to pronounce her dad's name)? Why, it is a 17 year old rock classic, sort of. It is Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name of. Yes! This is the record for us. Let's ignore the fact that they are on Sony BMG, the same company as the X-factor single, and let's ignore the fact that we are going to tell people to buy it despite the fact that the last 2 minutes of the record is a rather angry, foul-mouthed man with dreadlocks screaming “fuck you, I won't do what you tell me”. Despite these things, it is the record for us!

At this point I need to mention, for the sake of balance that I have encouraged people to buy this song on Twitter, sorry. I have retweeted (oh, I feel a fool saying retweeted out loud) a few messages about it. In fact I have also bought it but, in my defence, I have also bought the Tim Minchin Christmas single, White wine in the Sun, as well, so that's all right then.

So for many years Television has been able to influence/rig, you choose, the charts, especially at this time of year but now social media comes of age by being able to do exactly the same thing that irony free people were complaining about. When I looked at the Itunes chart yesterday, Rage Against the Machine were ahead in the race. Does it effect me in anyway? No of course it doesn't. I'm a 35 year old man who likes Indie music that barely charts. And maybe we haven't killed the charts, maybe we have just helped it on its way, greased the slip way if you like. The Official charts company did a pretty good job in killing it off when they changed the rules so that any single track download counted for the Top 40 (is it still called that?) rather than a song that had been released as a single. In the long run it doesn't really matter, the Christmas number one has nothing to do with music, just look at the number of best of albums clogging up the album charts, it's about Christmas presents.

RIP the Charts and Merry Christmas to everyone.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009


The BBC have removed some stuff from their website because they are being sued for libel by Carter-Ruck for the oil company Trafigura. Luckily the report from Newsnight is on YouTube, so here it is,

Feel free to put this on your website or blog or, maybe link to this from Twitter.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Diana Watch

Hello, how are we all? Good I hope. Busy in the run up to Christmas? I am a bit busy so I don’t think that I have time to do any of this writing nonsense at the moment, well not the usually Sunday one any way. I don’t think that anyone will mind that much will they? We can all come back to this a fresh in the New Year. If anything funny happens or occurs to me, fear not, I will tell you, just not regularly.
If nothing else happens may I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year xx

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Diana Watch

Oh, I've done something a little rash. I am a fan of a podcast called the Pod Delusion and I thought it might be nice to get involved. So I sent in an MP3 and I am on next week’s episode. Now this is a nice thing, someone else thinks that the piece I did was funny, but I've just seen the running order for next week. Oh my, there are some serious topics and some serious people on there and I'm not one of them. Suddenly I'm not so confident. Oh well, what's done is done. It's out on Friday and is available on Itunes. Really, this isn't false modesty; I'm a bit scared now. *SPOILER ALERT* Although if you read this blog regularly you will have already read the piece I submitted, it is the thing about Co-workers with colds.

In a country were being Gay is illegal you would have thought that that countries government couldn't have made it any harder (tee hee) or unpleasant for it's, already scared, homosexual community. But wait, what's coming over the hill, is it a monster? Well yes, kind of. The Ugandan Parliament is debating a private members bill that “prescribes life imprisonment for anyone who “stimulates the sexual organs” of someone of the same sex, with the death penalty for anyone whose same-sex partner is under 18 or disabled. It would allow people to be imprisoned for failing to report an instance of homosexuality.” (quote taken from here) That's life in prison or death. Nice.
I don't think I really need to go on about why this is not the correct course of action, in my opinion, for the Ugandans because if you are reading this then you are probably a nice person. The reason given by many politicians in that country for the introduction of this bill is that they don't want their country to be westernised. That's right, they claim that being Gay is a western problem and didn't exist in their country until we turned up and ruined everything. Now I do feel bad for the way the white man, especially the English white man, used Africa as his own but I don't think that that was our fault. The slaughter of thousands of people on the continent and the rape and pillage of it's resources, yes. Garnering an interest in soft furnishing amongst some of your man folk, umm, no, that wasn't us.
The bill also threatens the sanctity on confession because it states those in authority (A priest hearing confession) who do not disclose to the police knowledge of a homosexual activity with 24 hours of learning of it could face up to 3 years in prison. Now you would have thought that the Catholic Church would be up in arms about this, after all, the Seal of the Confessional is absolute and there are no circumstances (according to Code of Canon Law 1388) were the priest can break this privacy without instant ex-communication from the Church. However it seems that the Ugandan Catholics dislike gays more than they like their own rules as that have yet to make any statement on this issue at all. Also suspiciously quiet on this issue is the Arch-bishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Despite being head of the Anglican Church and, therefore, in charge of those Christians who aren't Catholics, he has, at the time typing this, said nothing on the subject. Members of his church want to put people to death for being gay and he says nothing, which is some great moral leadership right there. And Christians try and paint atheists as moral free.
Oh, and it seems that a lot of the laws count for anal sex between Heterosexuals as well.
The reason that I'm going on about the response of the Church to this is because, well, how can I put it, umm, it was their idea. Uganda is a very religious country. Most of their politicians are religious people. It is also quite poor although doing better then many of their African neighbours. Whilst the Government is spouting anti-Western rhetoric it churches are taking millions of dollars directly from Right-Wing American Churches and Church Groups such as the rather sinister sounding, “The Family” ( I believe that that was the name of a Dr Who baddie). The Family, also known as “The Fellowship”, also seem to have the ear of the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni. They are said to have cultivated a deep relationship with him. Many members of this group and others attended a conference in Kampala earlier this year were this law and other Gay related issues were discussed. One of the people who spoke at this conference was a man called Scott Lively. He is the author of a book called “The Pink Swastika” and he blames the holocaust on gay people. So as you can see he's a nice bloke and this is the sort of person influencing the Ugandan church and their politicians. Oh dear.

So Ofcom have released the list of the top 10 most complained about television programs and it makes surprising reading. The first thing that surprised me was (despite the Daily Mails best efforts) the lack of BBC programs on the list. Only Question Time made the list and that was the one with Dick, I’m sorry, Nick Griffin on. The rest are from commercial broadcasters, as you can see,

1. The X Factor (ITV 1): 5,975
2. Big Brother (Channel 4): 1,154
3. Britain’s Got Talent (ITV 1): 708
4. Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 4): 428
5. Question Time (BBC1): 364
6. Coronation Street (ITV1): 336
7. I’m A Celebrity…. (ITV1): 217
8. FA Cup 4th Round Replay: Everton v Liverpool (ITV1): 205
9. Jeni Barnett (LBC): 195
10 Boy and Girls Alone (Channel4): 183

The second thing that struck me was how few people actually bother to complain. Yes, nearly 6000 people put in the effort to phone or email Ofcom to moan about The X Factor but after that it drops off pretty quickly. In order to make the top 10 you only need to get 183 complaints. That’s hardly trying.
I think that it is entirely possible that Ofcom may have published this list a little early. I have heard that there are going to be some very offensive programs on over the Christmas period.
The BBC are planning on showing an episode of Antiques Roadshow were Eric Knowles goes mad. He smashes the vase that he is supposed to be valuing, rips off all his clothes and runs round attempting to find tin foil for which he can fashion a protective hat.
Over on ITV they have their own controversial programs. There will be a Christmas special of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway in which Dec forces his greased up, erect penis into the unwilling arse of Ant (I don’t actually know which one is which) and the public get to vote as to whether he cums inside him or on his face. (Too much?) You will be able to buy the tie-in game for the Wii just in time for the season of giving. And there is an entire episode of The Thick of It where no one swears at all.

David Cameron has announced changes that he would like to see in health and safety legislation. He doesn't like the culture which has grown up which forces children to wear goggles to play conkers and makes trainee hairdressers use fake scissors when practising.
Whilst he has chosen some slightly silly examples (although see how quickly middle class, Mail reading parents would sue their child's school if they got a bit of conker in little Tarquin's eye) I think what this really is is an attack on important laws that protect you and me at work. Tories don't like rules and red tape that restricts the ability of business to make money, especially if they have to spend some of that profit on making sure their workers don't get killed. If you are an 18th or 19th Century Mill owner then the Tories are the party for you.
Some of their true colours are starting to stick out under the hem of the frock of social justice and environment friendly policy that they have donned in order to get themselves elected.
White Collar crime in general, not just corporate manslaughter, is not taken very seriously in this country. May I recommend the excellent Radio 4 program “Thinking Allowed” which did a very good 3 program series on white collar crime. You can download them from Itunes if you can no longer get them from the BBC website. Listen to fraudsters try and convince you that the lose of their reputation is punishment enough for stealing millions of pounds, it is shocking, the arrogance of these people.

The Award for Story I Care Least About of the Week.

Some golfist called Tiger something crashed his car. Other things may have happened. Is this what our news coverage has come too? As Paul Weller once said “The public gets what the public wants”, do you want this?

The Award for A Continuing Very Dull Argument I keep having With People,

This week a work colleague had a meeting at the new Doctors surgery in Dorchester. I passed comment on the good lookingness of the building, “oh no” she said. When I questioned her, because she is wrong, she said “it's in the wrong place, next to those old buildings”. I was going to shout at her for being a historyless doofus but was stopped by another co-worker.
I have said it before and I will say it again, at one time all buildings were new. Once the Taj Mahal was new. Once St Pauls Cathedral was new. They were built next to buildings that had been there for a while and people had got used too. And look at our new surgery anyway, it's lovely,


I know that one of my readers doesn't like it and that might explain why she moved to Canada (We miss you xx)

We're off to a naming ceremony of our friends first born now. We're not really sure what this entails but we are about to find out. My guess was smashing a bottle of champagne over the poor little mite but let's see.

Have a nice week all, I'm off to build some nice new raised beds for my allotment.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Good People

So finally I have a woman to add to my list of good people. Don't blame me for the lack of ladies on the list, I asked you for suggestions and you said nothing so I assumed that there were no nice females out there. However, yesterday I was reading the Guardian and saw this fantastic woman,

Arianna Huffington

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Arianna Huffington. She is the founder of the Huffington Post, an on-line liberal newspaper, an author, a syndicated columnist and, more importantly, person who refuses to take any crap from Rupert Murdoch. This is the article I was reading when I decided that she should be on the list. She is my new favourite person.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Working with a Cold

You’ve all had it happen to you. You’re sat/stood at your workstation or however/wherever you earn your crust and a colleague wanders in hugging a hot lemsip (or own brand nasty lemon/paracetamol drink) and starts complaining about how bad they feel and how they’ve struggled in although they could die at any point.
There are social norms to be gone through at this point and I aim to go thought them with you.
As you co-worker begins to remove their coat there are 2 courses of action open to you. Option 1; help them off with their coat and encourage them to sit down, after all they are not well. This is the incorrect thing to do. You MUST use option 2. Option 2, tie them back into their coat and start, gently but firmly, moving them towards the door. There is nothing worse then working with someone who has a cold.
It has been proved over and over again (citation needed) that the common cold is the most self indulgent of all the minor infections. Self-conscious coughing, sighing every 5 five minutes until someone asks the soon-to-be-dead “what’s wrong?” to which the reply is “oh, nothing”. The correct response from the asker of the initial enquirer is, and I’ve checked "The Times Book of Modern Manners” here, “Well shut the fuck up then!”, but in a nice supportive way.
If you are the person who has the cold and thinks that going in to work is an act of martyrdom on a level with Martin Luther King, it isn’t. It just makes you annoying. “But the boss will give me a hard time if I don’t go in” is often given as a reason for turning up by those who think inflicting their snot on others is acceptable. I can assure you that you work mates will give you harder time if you do, especially if you infect them.
There are many studies (look them up) that tell us the amount of money sickness costs British business ever year (my favourite studies are the ones that show that Nurses have a higher than average level of sickness. Of course they do. They are exposed to very infectious things every day; some of them have to stick. And think about it, would you want your nurse coughing and spluttering all over you? No, no you wouldn’t) but no one every does a study into how many work days, and therefore money, is lost because idiots have come to work with a cold and spread it about. There you go University of the Pointless Study (that gets us in the paper) you can have that idea for free. Now get into the PR company office or estate agents and start counting the number of snotty tissues left lying about. Did you know that there are 7 million cold viruses in 1ml of infected snot? Think about that when you cough on someone on the bus or someone coughs on you (although that is not a legally strong defence if you punch the cougher straight in their sickness spreading face.)
To summarise, if you have an infectious disease then stay the fuck at home! Watch daytime television, mope around your own home and leave the rest of us healthy people alone. Oh and get well soon xx