Monday, 30 November 2009

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Oh! Oh! Oh!

Now - it appears - it's about to come out at the Chilcot Inquiry (for overseas readers, this is the inquiry into the Iraq war. I thought it would be a rubber stamp exercise by a collection of establishment toadies but so far I've been pleasantly surprised). In July 2002, the then Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith wrote to Blair saying in clear and unambiguous terms that war with Iraq would be illegal. This of course is not what Blair wanted to hear and things got nasty. Goldsmith was gagged, told never to put his views in writing again without Blair's permission and excluded from cabinet meetings. Blair did not tell the cabinet of the contents of Goldsmith's letter and a bullying campaign was commenced against Goldsmith who lost three stone (that's 42lbs American readers). Apparently he was persuaded by his wife not to resign.
A question and answer:

Paxman on Newsnight in April 2005 repeatedly asked Blair if he had seen confidential Foreign Office advice that the war would be illegal without specific UN support.

Blair's reply: 'No. I had the Attorney General's advice to guide me.'

Somehow the word 'liar' springs to mind.

Three days before the conflict began, Goldsmith, one may suspect after a good slapping about by Tony's cronies, announced that war would be legal on the basis of previous (and by then rather elderly) UN resolutions on Iraq, despite having explicitly rejected this argument in July 2002.

Both Goldsmith and Blair are to give evidence before Chilcot.

Could be interesting... (the pic above shows Bush and dog - and poodle).

Hat Tip to the ever industrious Mahal.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Okay - Just one little extra...

Jailhouse Lawyer mentioned Crasher Squirrel in a recent comment. We haven't seen the little fellow for ages. Well here he is again. Or is he a she?

Mostly Atlantic City

With Hat Tip to Jailhouse Lawyer, the above is from a calendar called Ferrets Go Fishing by who produce fun photoshopped animal calendars, cards etc. I've just realised I have the following projects all going on at once (a) continue writing two books, one fiction and one non-fiction (b) do a -free - advice and grounds of appeal for a guy whose case I'm on a mission about (c) prepare two cases for Monday. I ought to make progress on at least two of these over the weekend so only a short posting today. Here is another image from Maverick to be going on with. Oink!

Shorpy (link to left) puts up wonderful historic photographs. Here is one of bathers on the beach at Atlantic City 1906.

Which put me in mind of the first song I ever posted on White Rabbit - Atlantic City by you know who. I think this is the first time I've posted a song twice, but this is a different version. All together now...

Everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty and
meet me tonight in Atlantic City

Friday, 27 November 2009

Gary McKinnon again...

I've blogged on Gary McKinnon (above with mother) before. Now matters are coming to a head. In 2001 and 2002 Gary - who has Aspergers syndrome, a form of autism - hacked into Pentagon computers seeking confirmation of the existence of extra-terrestrial beings, a preoccupation of his. No-one suggests that he intended - or caused - harm to US 'security'. Arguably, he may have done it a favour by showing how easily the Pentagon computers could be hacked into. The UK has an unequal extradition treaty with the USA and there is an application to extradite him to face a likely 8-10 year jail sentence from a maximum of 60-70 years. The inequality is that the US can ask for someone to be extradited from the UK on the basis of 'information providing a reasonable basis to believe' that an offence has been committed, whereas for the UK to extradite someone from the US prima facie evidence of wrongdoing is necessary.

There is no earthly reason why Gary McKinnon can't be prosecuted in the UK. After all, where did he commit the acts complained of? Except possibly that the likely penalty would not be sufficient for the US government's liking. They want the guy's head on a plate, it seems. His mental health has deteriorated gravely. A report prepared by a Professor of Psychiatry has concluded that he has a 'fixed-psychological conviction he will kill himself in preference to being extradited'. His condition, a 'very serious major depressive disorder....aggravated and complicated by anxiety and panic attacks with multiple psychosomatic symptoms on a background of his having Asperger's Syndrome' is so serious he may be sectioned (compulsorily detained) under the Mental Health Act.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson 'stopped the clock' on Gary's extradition to consider the medical material. He's done that now. He has concluded that extradition would not be a breach of the Human Rights Act.

Spineless little creep.

This leaves Gary McKinnon 7 days to appeal to a domestic court or 14 days to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Words fail me. Perhaps we should declare independence. Here is Beau Bo D'Or's (link to left) take on this. For overseas readers, perhaps I should explain that Johnson is the Stan Laurel figure on the left. The Oliver Hardy figure on the right suffers from the delusive belief that he is Prime Minister.

Lightening the mood, this is how definitely not to treat the elderly...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

A quick happy thanksgiving to American readers...

Hat Tip to Daisy for this blatant steal. At least there is no decapitation or 18/19 Century artwork in this posting thus bucking recent trends. Tony mentions Oliver's Army in a cxomment on yesterday's posting, which set in motion a train of thought - and here is the Buddy Holly lookalike...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Charles I insulted by Cromwell's soldiers...

This is quite a good little story in my opinion. The above 'Charles I insulted by Cromwell's soldiers' is by Paul Delaroche (nineteenth century French artist)
It was generally believed that this particular painting was lost forever after a German bombing raid on 11 May 1941 when Bridgewater House (the London home of the Duke of Sutherland was hit by a German bombing raid, and a crater, ten feet deep, opened up in the street. Delaroche’s monumental painting, then hanging in the dining room, received extensive shrapnel damage. It was taken for safe keeping to the Duke's residence on the Scottish borders (as one does) where it was rediscovered this year. It is shortly to be displayed in the National Gallery.

As for the painting itself - it seems to me to be another piety by the now happily largely defunct King Charles the Martyr industry. The expression on the about to be executed monarch's face is that of saintly forbearance. His tormentors leer drunkenly. I suspect somehow that the reality was very different. It ois odd, though, that these matters still preoccupied so much in the nineteenth century (it was originally disoplayed in 1837). Delaroche's other well-known work is the equally sentimental 'The Execution of Lady Jane Grey'. Here is our heroine about to cop a decapitation. It all seems a bit much for the woman on the left who appears to have fainted.

On a completely different topic, I have blogged some time ago about my love/hate relationship with folk music. One thing to love is the wonderful voice of Sandy Denny. Here she is with who knows where the time goes. I defy anyone not to find her voice sumptuous. Sadly she died of a brain haemorrhage aged 31.

Monday, 23 November 2009

the x-crement factor and don't mess with hippos

Explanations are in order. The X-Factor is apparently some sort of talent show on ITV. Simon Cowell comes into it, I think. The Su-Bo woman was on it. I'm pleased to say I've never seen it. Current sensations are some twins known collectively as Jedward (a composite name from their names: Edward and something else beginning with 'J'...). Apparently they can't sing and can't dance, which is unfortunate as that is what they do on the programme. Or rather did. They have just been knocked out. They have fair hair that sticks up at the top.

So far so fatuous. But the advertising agencies for both major political parties have got busy and produced posters showing the glorious leader (a man called Brown, I may have to explain for overseas readers) and his Chancellor of the Exchequer and their Conservative counterparts as - erm - Jedward. Beau Bo D'Or (link to left) has got busy on this barrage of dung from the political parties as is to be seen above. Just how stupid do the advertisers who work for the main parties - and by extension the parties themselves - think we are if they imagine anyone is going to be impressed by these barrages of drivel? Below is a CNT/FAI poster from the Spanish Civil War. Now they're what I call a political poster!

Changing the subject completely, there are some amazing photos of a crocodile meeting its end doing the rounds. They were taken by Czech wildlife photographer Vaclav Silha who had set up his camera when suddenly he struck gold. A crocodile swam too close to a mother hippo and her calves. The hippos formed a protective circle. The crocodile panicked and tried to run over the dense crowd of hippos. No chance! The biter bit. An adult hippo can be seruously aggressive and packs a bite that can - well - destroy a crocodile in very short order. That's exactly what happened.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

some Sunday silliness...

This is a straight steal from Earl (link to the left - still as Bug Eyed Earl - I keep meaning to change it to his current blog identity - The Verdant Dude). The character above is Joseph Ducreux, an eighteenth century French painter. Our man seems to have had a liking for subverting the genre as he did self portraits as above grinning and pointing at the viewer and another of himself doing a dirty great yawn. Various wags have been putting captions on this self-portrait. This is my favourite. Who let the dogs out? reminds me of going to court a few years ago and securing my client's release on bail somewhat against the odds (I forget what he was charged with but he didn't look a promising candidate for bail). After being granted bail, he came bursting out of the cell area, gave an impromptu rendition of who let the dogs out? and then charged out of the court and into the nearest pub with his co-defendant for a spot of under age drinking. They had just been granted bail on condition not to contact each other.

Going back to Ducreux, interestingly he appears to have been something of a royalist and was painter by appointment to Marie Antoinette as well as being made a baron. When the French Revolution happened, he headed off to London at a rate of knots. Things take an odd turn in that he came back to Paris in 1793 where, somewhat curiously given his royalist track record, he linked up with French revolutionary artist Jacques-Louis David. Here is David's Tennis Court Oath. The French revolution is kicking off folks...

David's best known painting must be The Death of Marat. David was a friend of Marat a prominent Jacobin and promoter of the reign of terror. Charlotte Corday, repelled by the terror and fearing civil war went to Marat who spent most of his time in the bath because of a debilitating skin disease. She claimed to have a list of counter-revolutionaries for him. He thanked her and said they would be executed next week. She then stabbed him to death. As one does. Here is our man as per David, presumably with the list. Charlotte Corday was guillotined for her bad behaviour shortly afterward. I always thought that it was Charlotte Corday who said 'oh liberty! what crimes are committed in your name?' but it wasn't but rather someone obscure called Madame Roland. She was about to get her head whacked off too so one can see her point of view.

And finally for American readers - with another Hat Tip to Mahal for his industry in providing me with material, we have Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on global warming...

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Birmingham Back to Backs...

I've been meaning to blog about the Birmingham Back to Backs for ages. As some WR readers know I am now - for the time being and until life takes me, well I don't know where - living in Birmingham. Just round the corner from where I am living are the Birmingham Back to Backs. Back to backs were a type of housing created in the 19th century for the new industrial working class. They were called back to backs because the houses shared a rear wall. They were usually high density and low quality accommodation and were common to pretty much all English industrial cities. They have now all been pulled down under slum clearance schemes and the occupiers dispersed to various new estates. As recently as the 1960s Birmingham had many remaining back to backs.

Now they have all gone except one courtyard on the corner of Inge Street and Hurst Street which has been saved and preserved by the National Trust - the Back to Backs are now Grade II listed buildings. I pass them just about every day and it is fascinating. It's like having a time capsule on your doorstep. I've been around them on an open day. The courtyard has a wash house and outdoor toilets of - ahem - a very basic looking type. I was surprised to discover that these -erm - facilities were installed as recently as the 1930s. On the corner is an old fashioned sweet shop selling old fashioned goodies such as rhubarb and custard and sherbert fountains.

The National Trust has done its research and has discovered something of the history of the former occupiers of the houses and have restored the interiors in accordance with the period. The houses are laid out in various period styles from the 1820s to the 1970s. What struck me was how claustriophobic they must have been to live in with tiny rooms, narrow stairs and the enclosed courtyard. There were also shops along one side. George Saunders, a tailor from St Kitts, ran a tailors shop (it's on the left in the top pic) until as recently as 2001 when he retired. Here he is.

I love the Back to Backs to bits. It's a privilege to live by this time capsule. I discover they're even on YouTube. You can book rooms in them for overnight accommodation! Have a look at the clip. It's worth the annoying commentary.

Oh, and on a completely different topic and with Hat Tip to Mahal for drawing it to my attention, go to YouTube and search for 'Putin being criticised by journalist'. Trust me, it's worth the effort. Annoyingly, embedding has been disabled or I'd put it up here. As my informant comments 'and that man is in charge of the world's second largest nuclear arsenal'.

Friday, 20 November 2009

pink snails and Bananarama

With Hat Tip to Jailhouse Lawyer, here are some pink snails out and about in Milan. Don't ask me why. I promised some Bananarama if you have been good. Trusting that you all have been good, here they are - to describe them as 80s girl band doesn't begin to do them justice - they had ten tons of sass. This is Supremes cover Nathan Jones.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

matters of law...

Keeping up this blog's reputation as a fount of legal wisdom necessitates me drawing to wider public attention one David Holyoak. He is a robber. It is my painful duty to report that he is not a good one as he is - well - so ugly he is easily recognised and keeps being arrested after effortless identification. Holyoak copped three and a half years at Bolton Crown Court yesterday for being part of a gang who robbed a Halifax bank near Preston and threatened the cashier with a sledgehammer. Holyoak was arrested following an eyewitness description of his - erm - ears. Why am I not surprised? The gang generally sound like prize numpties. They drove their getaway car straight into a tree. Doh! A no doubt smirking constabulary have helpfully advised him that he is too ugly for crime.

There is just one nagging thought that occurs to me. Holyoak is from Manchester. Surely Holyoak looks pretty normal for those parts? By further illustration, below is an ugly football XI created by some wag. For the footballingly uninitiated, the two uglies labelled Neville are brothers and come from the same part of the world. I rest my case.

Well maybe not quite - one witty - as opposed to mindlessly unpleasant - football chant is 'Neville, Neville your face is a mess' to the tune of David Bowie's Rebel Rebel. And right on cue...

That's enough ugly people. Maybe if you are all good some Bananarama soon...

Monday, 16 November 2009

theft central

The above is stolen from Catch Her in the Wry. It's amazing what a little bleeping can do. Below was - continuing the recent cat theme - stolen from Android.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Johnny Edgecombe

A story in the Guardian Family section yesterday about Johnny Edgecombe and his daughter Melody caught my eye. Way back in the late 80s and early 90s I had a very good friend who befriended Johnny Egdecombe. I met Johnny at my friend's house - he used to babysit the friend's children - and occasionally visited Johnny at his flat together with aforesaid friend. Melody was raised by Johnny after he split up with her mother when she was 14. I remember her as something of a wild child but she seems to have turned out just fine - she is 28 now and has a son called - erm - Johnny. My friend and his family moved out of London and up to Scotland and so I lost the connection with Johnny Edgecombe.
So why is he of any interest? Overseas readers will need an explanation but the answer will be instantly recognisable to any British reader of a certain age - the Profumo affair. He had a former lover called Christine Keeler. She had given him a handgun for protection against another West Indian (a phrase far more commonly used then) hustler called Lucky Gordon. She wouldn't let him in or drop him a pound for his cab fare. Johnny lost it and fired a series of shots at the lock. Johnny was arrested and then out came the major British political scandal of the twentieth century.

John Profumo (the married secretary of state for war - they didn't pussyfoot about with 'defence' as a job description then) and Yevgeny Ivanov (a Russian naval attache and spy) were both sleeping with the same woman as Johnny - Christine Keeler. Profumo lied to the House of Commons and had to go. I say he had to go for lying - which is true as far as it goes - but the sexual scandal was a huge undercurrent and at the time the idea of sleeping with the same woman as a black man was hugely scandalous to most British people. To cut a long story short things got more and more scandalous and more and more dodgy figures appeared in the narrative. It pretty much was the end of the McMillan Government and not so long after the Conservatives (under different leadership) lost the 1964 election to complete the process. A government report was commissioned and presided over by old lizard Lord Denning. When it came out - uniquely among government reports which largely you couldn't give away - people were queueing round the block to buy it.

And Johnny Edgecombe? He got 7 years as regards the firearms episode. That was harsh. He never fired at anyone or endangered life. He was the fall guy, a small time hustler who accidentally sprung open a Pandora's box of establishment scandal. He believes - and I think he is right - that he payed an excessive price for treading on the toes of the establishment. The film Scandal pisses him off bigtime too. He has been portrayed as a violent man - unfairly in my opinion - and it rankles. He was one of that pioneer generation of men from the Caribbean who had it hard - and in particular were shunned by large parts of white society and moved in the circles that accepted them. Many of those circles - jazz musicians and good time girls were somewhat dodgy. More dodgy were the righteous pillars of the establishment who took their illicit pleasures in those circles but maintained a hypocritical respectable front. Not an educated man, he has written reams on the subject of his brush with notoriety. Let's just say it needs a serious sub-editor but there is a tale to be told.

He's 77 now and seems to have achieved some sort of contentment. I had to laugh at the end of the interview where it is revealed that he was off out for the evening - with Howard Marks! I think he has done us all a favour - Johnny, I mean and not Howard Marks - by helping to end the age of deference by showing our supposed betters for what they are. Oh - some of you reading this may fancy yourselves as stoners. No you're not - you're a lightweight. Now Johnny Edgecombe - there was a stoner!

On a different topic, I saw The Men who Stare at Goats last night at the Odeon, Tottenham Court Road. It has its funny moments but in the round, I don't think it works.

Jus sayin...

Continuing on a 1960s theme - here is the sixth finger part seven (sic) from cult 60s TV show The Outer Limits. Just because.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Away for the weekend...

But to be going on with here is Detective Mittens the crime solving cat. While on the subject of cats, and with Hat Tip to Sarcastic Bastard - here is a very bad tempered one...

Thursday, 12 November 2009

stiff nipples and eating your mother (sentencing cases)

Of course it has to be a London phone number - why am I not surprised? Hat Tip to Candy's Daily Dandy. Research reveal that Stiff Nipples are in Hayes (outer West London) - so to speak. I was in Hayes yesterday - for completely different purposes I say hastily.

Those who complain that I don't do enough law in this blog may be palliated by a helpful sentencing guidelines case. Okay, it's not that helpful because it comes from Russia. But it's weird. Here are the facts: man wants his mother to give him her pension money to spend on alcohol. Mother refuses. Man kills mother by beating her over the head with a brick and then a bit of the old ligature strangulation with electric cable. Man leaves mother on balcony for two days while going on a bender. Finding himself hungry on returning to the flat he - erm - starts eating her. With pasta. He complained he didn't like it much. It was too fatty. Why he couldn't confine himself to eating the pasta is not clear.

Apparently the going rate sentencewise for this sort of thing in Russia is 15 years. Our man got 14 years and 3 months. The discount was explained by the judge as (a) he had pleaded guilty - so far so sensible (b) he needed to eat -ermmmmmm, and (c) 'he was not keen to eat the meat, he was just hungry'.

WHATTTTTTT????? Presumably conversely, if he had pronounced his mother delicious this would have constituted an aggravating feature and resulted in a longer sentence.

Someone commented from New York on the Daily Mail (if you'll pardon the expression) website covering this story 'some people think it's normal to eat haggis, now that's really disgusting'.

I quite like haggis. So throw me in jail.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Fuckin' 'Ell it's Fred Titmus

Half Man Half Biscuit with 'Fuckin 'Ell it's Fred Titmus live at Frome's Cheese & Grain (whatever on earth that is). A double anorak rating for this posting I think. Just being idiosyncratic, peeps...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Continuing lowering the tone...

An interesting photo taken on Westminster Bridge. Dear meeeeeee....... Hat Tip to Charon QC

Ooh Matron!

Informative stuff from Northampton General Hospital, I'm sure you'll all agree.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Pretty Flamingo

Here is Pretty Flamingo by Manfred Mann from when the rabbit was - well - a small rabbit. And an exquisite song it is too. The cartoon accompanying it is - well - pretty bizarre. Random factoid: the guy who wrote Pretty Flamingo - Mark Barkan - also wrote the Banana Splits Song - as in 'one banana, two bananas'... One thing that keeps bugging me about the cartoon is that flamingos are pink and not yellow. As can be seen below. And yet again the 'flamingo' in the cartoon appears to be a hippo and not a bird at all, even a small yellow one. All very confusing.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The muse is not upon me...

So here is a rock classic - J. Geils Band with Centrefold or Centerfold in American. Here also is a stunning photograph with hat tip to Jailhouse Lawyer who posts a lot of wonderful photographs but this is an absolute classic of the Northumberland coast (that's North-East England for the uninitiated) with the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle. Are the colours not exquisite?

This came to my attention from yesterday's Yorkshire Evening Post...

"Police today called for an end to an "unjustified" hate campaign sparked by a soccer thug's behaviour during Leeds United's recent match at Millwall.
A supporter of the South London club was photographed at the game on October 24 wearing a shirt belonging to Turkish side Galatasaray.

The yob's bizarre 'fashion statement' was a sick reference to the deaths of two United fans in Istanbul nine years ago.

The picture ran in a national newspaper the day after the match - and its subject was subsequently named on the internet as Darren Robertson.

But now, in a joint statement, Millwall and the Metropolitan Police have said the person in the photo is NOT Mr Robertson.

The statement reads: "Mr Robertson and his family have been subjected to an unjustified hate campaign from certain individuals and as such, to prevent this from going further, we would like to take this opportunity to confirm that the picture was not (of] Darren Robertson.

"The Metropolitan Police and Millwall FC are continuing their investigation into the true identity of the individual."

Leeds United responded to the statement by appealing for their fans not to contact Mr Robertson".

The background is tragic and the real perpetrator low life but I can't help but nominate the word 'contact' in the United response for euphemism of the year. As an answer to the low life, here is Leeds v Southampton 1971-72 season. Ole!

Monday, 2 November 2009

New Government Drugs Adviser...

Following the ejection of the splendidly named Professor Nutt as Government Drugs Adviser by Postman Pat - sorry Alan - (not to forget his black and white cat) Rabbit Disinformation Services can exclusively reveal the identity of the next Government Drugs Advisor. Talking of Postman Pat...