Thursday, 30 September 2010

Introducing Rachida Dati..

The above person is Rachida Dati, who was formerly French Justice Minister and was recently interviewed by French TV Channel Canal+ Our new friend caused some puzzlement when she announced in the course of the interview 'I see some [foreign investment funds] looking for returns of 20 or 25% at a time when fellatio is close to zero'.

One may struggle for the connection.

The explanation is that The French word for fellatio is 'fellation', which - we are assured - sounds similar to the word 'inflation'. Erm, quite so. Our heroine blames talking too quickly but what can have been on her mind? Christine would not make such an error, would she? Some spoilsport has disabled embedding for the relevant clip on YouTube but here is the link. Hat Tip to Mahal.

And further to the posting on the Titanic, the rabbit has been contacted by a person with very considerable relevant experience who writes...

'Titanic - from one who knows about these things, the two sets of orders gambit is rubbish - hard a starboard (or previously larboard) has always meant that.

The nearest ship, the Californian, had absolutely no real capacity to rescue everyone anyway. The exhibition at Harland and Wolf shows plainly that in terms of survival, money really did talk. The interesting thing is the idea that the ship was unsinkable - what an advertising campaign! So I think this story is worth a look but there have been even more noteworthy disasters in terms of avoidance than Titanic'.

So that settles that. I was somewhat puzzled as previously remarked on that the story took about a century - and the publication of Mrs Patten's book - to see the light of day. Prompted by my informant, I end with the good advice to keep on trucking. Memo to self: must blog on R.Crumb sometime...

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A flying visit...

Informative stuff from Christine above I'm sure all will agree. The rabbit has been time poor of late so a flying visit to briefly break the silence. The rabbit is faintly concerned by his continued interest in US politics - or at least its comedic possibilities and is troubled by information from the Washington Post via Laci the Dog (link to left) to the effect that it is alleged that Christine may not have been entirely - erm - truthful about her academic qualifications.

Say it isn't true!!!

O'Donnell's LinkedIn bio page lists 'University of Oxford' as one of the schools she attended, claiming she studied 'Post Modernism in the New Millennium' - as one does. But it turns out that the course conducted by an institution of the utmost obscurity known as the Phoenix Institute, which merely rented space at Oxford. No doubt as Christine is noted for her truthfulness there is an explanation. Just like no doubt there are explanations for no doubt unfounded rumours that Christine only got her degree last year after a load of unpleasantness in the courts about unpaid fees. Or the other no doubt unfounded unpleasantness about whether or not Christine ever did postrgraduate work at Princeton.

Oh dear! What can a rabbit say?

Well at least all is well in another corner of Planet Republican. The rabbit was pleased to learn that Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul belongs to a doctors’ group that among other -erm - curious beliefs has suggested that President Obama may have been elected because he was able to hypnotize voters.

Ah! That would explain things.

The rabbit is pleased to report that he has been invited to involve himself in the release of the film Conviction - trailer above. There is to be a gala screening at the London Film Festival on 15th October and the plot concerns one of the first cases of DNA being used as evidence. Hilary Swank plays Betty Ann Waters, a woman who devoted her life to earning a law degree to free her brother, Kenny Waters, from life without parole for a murder he did not commit. The film is to be screened in the morning but the rabbit is not quite sure what part he will play, possibilities include meeting Betty Ann Waters in the morning and/or and attending the press conference in the afternoon. The rabbit will report back.

Oh what fun! I wonder if Hilary Swank will be there!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

A new angle on the Titanic story...

Time to change the subject from you-know-who, methinks! An interesting new story has just surfaced (as it were) as regards the Titanic. The story comes from Louise Patten who is the granddaughter of the Titanic's second officer (and also wife of Chris Patten but that's by the way) and tells the following tale: when the Titanic First Officer spotted the iceberg he gave the order 'hard-a-starboard' so as to avoid it. There was a problem. At the time there were two steering systems in operation - the sailing ship system (tiller orders) and the steamship system (rudder orders). Let Patten take up the story: 'a command to turn 'hard a-starboard' meant turn the wheel right under one system and left under the other'.

The man at the wheel - Quartermaster Robert Hitchins - was trained under rudder orders – but tiller orders were still in use in the north Atlantic. So when First Officer William Murdoch first spotted the iceberg and gave the 'hard a-starboard' order Hitchins turned the liner into the course of the iceberg instead of as far away from it as possible.

It took two minutes to rectify the mistake but in those two minutes it became inevitable that the Titanic would hit the iceberg. But it gets worse. It is generally considered commonsense that if you have a crash, it is best not to keep moving forward. After the iceberg struck, the chairman of White Star Line, Bruce Ismay, persuaded the captain, Edward Smith, to keep sailing. The only rationalisation of this is said to be that he may have been fearful of damaging the company's reputation, although I confess that I struggle with the logic of this.

Let Patten take up the story - 'My grandfather described the decision to try and keep Titanic moving forward as criminal" Pressing on added to the pressure of water in the hull, forcing it over the bulkheads and sinking the ship many hours earlier than it would otherwise have sunk. The nearest ship was four hours away. How many of the 1,500 lives lost would have been saved had the chairman not thrown his weight about? The story never came out as Patten's grandfather said he felt duty-bound to protect his employers, fearing it would bankrupt the company and every job would be lost. 'He made the choice to keep it a secret; he thought he had a duty to protect his employers and he never doubted for one moment that it was the right thing to do'.

And why is the story coming out now and not before? Because Louise Patten is promoting a novel she has written around these events. Hmmm....

The rabbit despairs of Team Christine. What do I have to do to get a reaction? It's like trying to get a response out of a field of turnips. The latest is that Christine's pals are all very excited about an allegation that her Democratic opponent, a man called Chris Coons is supposed to be a 'bearded Marxist'. I don't quite follow the story, which seems utterly specious, but made a comment on the discussion forum at Team Christine 2010. I copy and paste...

'As regards the Chris Coons chappie and bearded Marxists, I see he doesn't have a beard any more. Does this mean that he's not a Marxist any more or is he in disguise?
I've done some research and Marx and Engels had huge great beards. Lenin and Trosky had little pointy ones and Ho Chi Minh had a really pathetc straggly puny one. Is it compulsory for Marxists to have beards? Is it some sort of Marxist thing? And what about female Marxists? Most of them can't grow beards. It doesn't seem fair'.

Replies so far? Naff all. They're no fun. I forgot to mention Stalin's moustache, it just occurs to me.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Titter Ye Not!

Oh dear! It is the rabbit's unpleasant duty to report that his latest poster girl, Christine O'Donnell is somewhat in the poo. Some unsporting fellow has dug up a VERY OLD CLIP in which the young Christine admits to having - ahem - delved in witchcraft. Does everyone thank Christine for her frankness?

No. They do not. Shocking though it is to relate, people are mocking her! And the Karl Rove fellow, who strikes the rabbit as the kind of self-abuser that Christine quite rightly takes a dim view of, pontificates that 'a lot of churchgoing people' will 'want to know what was all that about'.

Ever available to come to the rescue of a damsel in distress, the rabbit has posted some helpful comments on Team Christine's most excellent website. I copy and paste...

'I see that a lot of people are geting very excited about so-called 'revelations' relating to matters when Christine was much younger and perhaps a little less omniscient than she is now. Christine apparently fessed up to having a date with a witch 'on a satanic altar - and I didn't know it'. Well really! What on earth is the fuss about? The best of us could accidentally - indeed entirely unintentionally - find ourselves on a satanic altar. There is no way any suggestion that Mr Satan was himself present at the time or that any unpleasantness took place. Christine elaborates 'there's a little blood there, and stuff like that'. Well quite so. The blood was probably from one of those chickens that satanists like to sacrifice and therefore no big deal. They use the chicken's entrails to tell the future apparently. Well that's no sillier than the weather forecast, I'm sure all and sundry will agree. I relied on the assurances of the BBC Midlands weather person that it would be dry and sunny only the other day and went out without my umbrella. I got very wet indeed to my considerable annoyance.

So no more of this witchcraft nonsense thank youuuuuu! As the late Frankie Howerd was fond of saying 'titter ye not!' Did you have him in 'Up Pompeii' in the States? You should have done. He was very funny'.

I await any reaction...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Keep calm and carry on...

It will not have escaped the notice of regular White Rabbit readers that this blog has been under a particularly nasty form of troll attack over the past day or so. The target is not actually this blog in a direct sense but another blogger who comments here from time to time. The immediate cause of the troll attack is my posting congratulations on the other blogger's blog on his engagement. The troll has assumed the other blogger's identity and unleashed a load of twisted, sick bile. I can only wonder at the mentality of someone so eaten up with hatred for another. In any event, I have had to take a step I have never wanted to, namely activate moderation. Sorry people but I trust this will be a short term measure. the troll has been reported to the appropriate channels and hopefully will be taken out of circulation soon. I have a disparate group of bloggers who comment here. I am genuinely grateful that they respect this space - as I respect theirs - and do not exploit it to use the considerable differences in belief systems and world view among them to attack each other. I do believe in free expression and have let comments go that have made me wince in the past but this particular troll has forfeited the right to have his hate laden obscenities heard.

Now let's carry on as usual...

The rabbit is pleased to report that he is now a member in good standing of Team Christine and as such can post comments on her website. As regards her past financial difficulties, the rabbit has already advised Christine to take no notice and quote Oscar Wilde as per yesterday's posting: 'those who live within their means suffer from a lack of imagination'. Whether Christine takes this helpful advice remains to be seen but the comment has already attracted further comment. One person helpfully explains that this is alll the fault of something called the 'lamestream media', which would seem to clarify matters. Sadly, another person reports that people have been posting hate stuff on Christine's facebook page.

Ever helpful, the rabbit has posted the following comment:

"I'm very sorry to read that there have been hateful comments posted on Christine's Facebook page. Political differences are no excuse for bad manners, I'm sure all would agree. Toujours la politesse as the French - or cheese eating surrender monkeys as they are wittily known on your side of the pond - would say. Actually, you are fortunate to have distance between yourselves and the French. The English Channel (or 'La Manche' as the French impertinently call it) is only 22 miles wide at its narrowest. This results in an influx of French onion sellers on bicycles and attired in berets and stripy tops trying to sell strings of onions and garlic. This can be a considerable nuisance as I'm sure you can imagine".

I await a reaction.


With Hat Tip to JoJo for drawing may attention to this deplorable state of affairs, it is my unpleasant duty to report that there has been a march of - ahem - self-pleasuring fellows in Wilmington Delaware objecting to Christine's sensible pronouncements on the subject. A Mr Farger, apparently head wanker or somesuch, stated 'in this economy, masturbation is one of the few simple pleasures people still can afford' and threatens a 'Million Masturbator March'.


As a member of Team Christine, I can only deprecate this sort of stuff. Hands on the table, people thank youuuuuuuuuu...

Moving briskly on and asking American readers to bear with him, the rabbit has to mark the retirement of Andrew 'Freddy' Flintoff from all forms of cricket. The great man's body just couldn't take it any more. Apart from his huge talent, the crowds loved his physicality, wholeheartedness and power. The above clip is Freddy in Trafalgar Square after England won back the ashes in 2005. He's been up all night celebrating and is drunk as a skunk. The crowd are chanting 'you're pissed and you know you are'.

And who could argue with that?

The clip below is Freddy hitting an enormous 6 (that's like a home run Americanpersons) into the stand at Edgbaston. Not just into the stand but straight at his dad. What does his dad - apparently a decent club cricketer in his youth - do? He spills the catch, that's what. Amazing, lovely guy is Fred - I hope he has a happy retirement.

The rabbit has been vegging out on films on Channel 15 of late. Last night had Run, Fatboy Run, which was entertaining enough but somewhat spoiled by the fact that Simon Pegg isn't really fat. On Friday night there was The Untouchables, the 1987 one with Kevin Costner and Sean Connery, that is. It did strike me that the scene in the station when the two surviving untouchables close in on the Capone book-keeper and the pram - with child in situ - goes careering down the steps is lifted from Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin. Here's the original...

And the step sequence in The Untouchables... You need to get about 6 minutes in.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Saturday musings...

The rabbit can attest to the efficacy of the 'chainsmoke yourself through seperation and divorce and all sorts of associated grief' diet. Works a treat. Trust me on this - just watch the pounds fall off. The problem is that on regaining some equilibrium and stopping smoking (stopping smoking is easy - I've done it loads of times - but I think this time it's for real - eighteen months without a single craving) and the pounds pile back on again. So I decided to do something about it. I haven't gone on a structured diet but I eat lots of fruit and veg and very little red meat or bread. Beer has been rationed to two evenings a week and I allow myself fish and chips once a week plus the occasional Tunnocks teacake with a light lunch.

I reckon I'm doing 1,500-1,800 calories a day. I'm also doing some serious gym work. I actually enjoy the gym. Okay I hate the 20 minutes on the static bike but I love giving the weights some humpty. There is of course always canned music. Like I suppose everybody else, I respond to some songs more than others. Today Squeeze's Up The Junction came on. And there it is above. Notice the young Jools Holland. The song reminds me of my spiritual home of Clapham (South London for overseas readers) and the lyrics are a gem. A wonderfully English piece of whimsy.

'I’d beg for some forgiveness
But begging’s not my business'

Me neither. The rabbit being a dreadful old namedropper, he announces that someone he knows (and has blogged about but the rabbit lips are sealed) knows Jools Holland and has a story of an evening spent with Jools and Chuck Berry at the Park Lane Hilton. Ever the soul of discretion, the rabbit is saying nuffin except that it sounded like a good evening and the rabbit would have tagged along. However - oh all right - if you insist...

The rabbit is hugely entertained by Christine O'Donnell and has signed up to join Team Christine on her website. As the rabbit's membership is still pending approval best behaviour is in order - at least for the moment! The rabbit will when duly approved propose setting up Un-Americans for Christine and seek her advice. I gather Christine has had financial problems in the past (thus endearing her to the rabbit - as Oscar Wilde said 'those who live within their means suffer from a lack of imagination' - and am anxious to take Christine's advice as to whether to bother paying my next VAT bill as she evidently also takes a dim view of tax. I also intend to express my eager anticipation of Christine's first speech to the US Senate on the subject of twanging the wire. Sensibly, she is also against that sort of thing. The rabbit will keep the readership posed (posed is a typo - I meant posted - but I quite like it!)!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The rabbit has absolutely no comment... to what may be going on here. Don't think that nice
Christine O'Donnell would approve of this very bad example by Dubya though... Belated Hat Tip and apology to jailhouselawyer.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

A flying visit... Blogland. Here is Bob Marley with Guava Jelly, which was played at the wedding scene on This is England 86 on ITV1 last night - check it out if you can. The original This is England was a dark gem and its successor shows promise. Checking out the lyrics, I found a comment that suggested they may have a sexual content. You don't say...

Below is a clip from the original This is England where Shaun meets the skins. Watch on...

Which calls for some ska... Which is a good excuse to post Toots and the Maytals with 54/46 Was My Number. Those with long memories may remember that I've posted this before but I don't care 'cos it's quality. For the record, 54/46 was Toots Hibbert's prison number while serving a sentence for possession of one joint. There's a superb relatively recent version recorded by Hibbert with Buju Banton but it's not on YouTube or anywhere else I can find.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Woolas, the French and a cat that thinks it's a squirrel

Okay, let's get the serious stuff out of the way before going on to certain French difficulties in the bedroom department and the cat that thinks it's a squirrel. It does occur to me that I may have been treating certain things as self-evident - for example what MP stands for, but perhaps the abbreviation may not be immediately accessible to overseas readers. MP is Member of Parliament - that's like Representative Americanpersons. Okay, having got that over with, the above is Phil Woolas, Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth. His previous claim to fame was having claimed tampons, women's clothing and bibs on expenses. Appearances do not deceive. Phil is indeed a male person.

Go back to the May General election. Phil was apparently very anxious that he might lose his seat to the Lib Dem (Liberal Democrat overseaspersons) candidate, the ever so slightly overweight Elwyn Watkins - and thus be obliged to purchase his own panty liners etc rather than be reliant on public funds for such bounty. Then it got nasty. Woolas's election agent Joseph Fitzpatrick pronounced gravely 'we are picking up the vibe that Phil is going to lose'. The distress among manufacturers of sanitary towels does not bear thinking about. Enter the Muslim bogeyman.

It was decided by the Labour campaign team (on the basis of absolutely nothing at all) that Watkins would be portrayed as a friend of Islamic extremists, whereas plucky Phil would be painted as a fearless opponent of militants. At the risk of repetition, there was absolutely no factual foundation for the attack on Watkins as a friend of Islamic extremists. The next manoeuvre - again an attack with no factual foundation whatsoever was a claim that the Lib Dem was being backed by groups that had issued death threats against poor diddums Woolas.

The next gem was a fairly obviously photoshopped picture of Watkins looking as if he has just been detained by the constabulary. The upshot of all this is that two High Court Judges have hot footed it up to Saddleworth Civic Centre where an electoral court has beeen constituted. This is a rare event and is on the basis of a provision in the Representation of the People Act that anyone involved in an election who 'makes or publishes any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate's personal character or conduct' is guilty of an illegal practice, which may result in fining and disqualification from office.

It is far too early to say whether this may happen to Woolas but I do have to say that, were I a member of the Labour Party, I would not be comfortable at being associated with the stuff that emanated from Woolas and his campaign team.

Now on to sensible stuff - all is not well in the French bedroom, it emerges. A survey has revealed a sorry story of bad sex lives for three quarters of French couples, with one in three women and one in six men pleading that they had a headache. So much for the myth of the French lover, it seems but help is on the way, reports the BBC - erm - from a pharmaceutical company. Hmmmmm... Hat Tip to Mahal.

And with Hat Tip to jailhouselawyer, a heart warming story from Mississippi. A baby squirrel with the distinctly unsquirrel-like name of Rocky fell out of a tree, was placed with a litter of newborn kittens and was adopted by the mother cat. The squirrel adapted so well to his new family that he eventually learned how to purr. As one does...

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The greatest sporting commentary ever...

Bear with me... You don't have to know a thing about cricket to find this hilarious. This is the late Brian Johnston trying to commentate on a cricket match. He loses the plot totally after a certain point.. He's gone... And on BBC Radio too!

Just enjoy.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Saturday musings...

It's a pleasant day in Brum and the Birmingham Back to Backs are having an open day round the corner. Not much summer left, though. The nights are drawing in already. There was a programme on the radio earlier about the Blitz, this being its 70th anniversary. The Blitz - and what people lived through - is worth commemorating. It's hard to put yourself in their place and imagine what our parents and grandparents went through. Things like this, for example.

The first photograph is of course St Paul's which survived more or less intact despite everything about it being devastated. The second photo is Hoiborn Circus. There's something agreeably surreal about the equestrian statue on the right raising his hat to the burning building. A lot of the programme was about the popular music of the time. Tony Benn was on the programme. He was 15 at the time of the Blitz and said his mother liked the song A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. So do I for some odd reason. Here it is. Who else to perform it but Vera Lynn?

Backy the Bactrian Camel (who keeps an eye on the government to save the rabbit the bother) writes: some fellow with the improbable name of Jonathan Djanogly is somewhat in the poo. Djanogly is MP for Huntingdon (as was Cromwell but that's by the way) and something in the sinisterly named Ministry of Justice. It emerges that Djanogly hired a firm of private detectives to conduct an undercover investigation into his aides and colleagues. The subject matter of this investigation: what they thought of him. The answer? They think he is a complete arse. The cost to Djanogly of finding out that people think he is a complete arse: £5,000. Almost makes you sorry for him. Almost but not quite.

Above is Djanogly with his unfortunate wife Rebecca. Looks like a complete arse too.

Friday, 10 September 2010

It is interesting to note...

..that the infamous Andy Coulson Dear Deirdre strip mentioned in the previous posting is no longer available on the Samuel-Dean website. Has poor little Rupert got upset and thrown his toys out of the pram and in the general direction of Samuel-Dean? Well as a rabbit service, here it is again. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough, Rupe...

The bottom right frame is today's Fawkes caption competition. The strangest entry is by streamfisher and reads as follows:

Top bubble: You get off to sleep love while I amuse myself with this piece of roofing slate.
Bottom bubble: OMG!, not another DIY expert

The rabbit is still thinking about that one... Oh and this below quite amused me.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

A few odds and ends...

The rabbit has been busy tearing up and down the country this week - including to places he has never been to before and has no wish ever to go to again - namely Worksop (Nottinghamshire) and Hertford ('Is that Hertford in Hertfordshire' the hapless Indian person in the Rail Enquiries callcentre asked. I was nice and did not let rip with a sarcastic remark concerning Hertford being in - erm - Hertfordshire despite the temptations). So here are a few updates and odds and ends...

The posting on Hague and his - erm - difficulties led to a thread about Welsh spelling in the comments, eruditely resolved by Mahal. This in turn reminded me of the most famous bilingual sign in Wales (above). Th English bit is clear enough. The Welsh bit below translates as 'I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated'. All official signs in Wales are bilingual so Swansea council e-mailed its in-house translation person and assumed the automated out of office reply was the translation sought. Ooops! A certain amount of amusement was called before the sign was inevitably but regrettably taken down.

The above person is Andy Coulson, the Conservative Party's Director of Communications. Coulson is is a spot of bother in relation to his former editorship of the News of the World, an unpleasant Murdoch rag. It emerges that in gross breach of privacy laws (and in breach of the criminal law) the News of the Screws had been hacking into various prominent people's phones in hot pursuit of a story. The question is, as editor did Coulson know? If so - huge scandal and egg on face of Conservative Party and 'Dave' Cameron, a prime minister, who appointed Coulson. The New York Times is doing sterling work on the topic in the face of a News International attempt to smother the story here amid allegations of a cosy relationship between the Murdoch press and the Metropolitan Police. But that's slightly by the by. The really good story is this...

With Hat Tip to Samuel-Dean, it can be revealed that Coulson was formerly a model for the Dear Deirdre agony column in the Sun - another crappy Murdoch rag I say for the benefit of overseas readers. Dear Deirdre has a photo feature for the terminally illiterate of its 'readers' and also as an excuse to show pictures of young women in their underwear. Follow the link and there is Coulson posing as Mick, a somewhat - erm - overexcitable husband.

'My husband demands sex five times a day' announces 'Linda'. Indeed he does, although it must be said that Coulson/Mick's chat up lines - 'You're looking very horny, Linda. How about pulling into that field for a quickie?' and 'Put that book down. I need some attention' - are not suggestive of a subtle or romantic nature.

Perhaps the coalition government ought to clarify its position on that sort of thing. Mind you, Blair's spin doctor Alistair Campbell wrote some pornographic novel in a previous manifestation - something to do with bagpipes, the rabbit gathers. Sounds altogether too disgusting to contemplate...

Sunday, 5 September 2010

I really don't want to go here but...

For overseas readers and the terminally inattentive, the above person is named William Hague, he is Foreign Secretary (that's like Secretary of State American persons!) I say straight away that I have long disliked him from afar as a Europhobic Tory twerp with an annoying voice - okay an annoying everything...
He also has no hair but I digress.

Hague has been in a spot of bother of late and Tory blogger Guido Fawkes is to blame. I have generally viewed Fawkes's blog as a useful outlet facility for Tourettes sufferers (his commenters) to let their condition rip in harmless and controlled circumstances rather than doing it in the streets and frightening - well - everyone. Hitherto, Fawkes's most acclaimed scoop was John Prescott and Tracey Whatsername being at it. Again for overseas readers, John Prescott was Blair's deputy prime minister (purely to massage his vanity and keep the Labour Party - which had an irrational liking for the appalling mound of lard) happy. At one point in the course of his spectacularly undistinguished deputy prime ministership Prescott was having an affair with one of his civil servants, a woman named Tracey Temple. When the story went public via Fawkes, Tracey Temple went public to the Daily Mail - allegedly for a £100,000 fee. Part of the story involved Mr Something-or-the other (a pet name for the Prescott appendage) going to sleep and refusing to perform. Yuck!!!

Here are Prescott and Tracey discussing these matters. A faint feeling of queasiness is taking over...

Anyway, Fawkes has struck again. For as long as I can remember there have been rumours about Hague's sexuality. I say straight away I have no knowledge as to whether or not they are true and couldn't care less anyway. William Hague + Sex = Yuck!!! Part 2. The story concerns Hague's former driver and now also former special adviser, a person named Christopher Myers or 'handsome Christopher Myers' as the Daily Mirror gushingly has it. Two Sunday newspapers had the story but sat on it. Fawkes went public. Hague shared a hotel room with Myers in April

The hotel room was soon in the public arena. 'As our exclusive picture shows, the twin beds and mattresses are usually pushed together and presented as a double room for couples and sold for between £105 and £160 a night' burbles the Mirror, warming to its theme.

Oh yuck!

And this photo of Hague and Myers was suddenly all over everywhere like a rash. Hague was reduced to a cringe making (and undoubtedly inadvisable) statement featuring prominently how his wife Ffion had suffered a succession of miscarriages. Thus explaining their lack of children. Truly awful stuff. Various Tory Bloggers notably Ian Dale have turned on Fawkes (real name Paul Staines) for - well - turning on one of their own. Scroll down to the 1st September posting on Dale's blog to get the flavour of things.

Does any of this matter? Not a great deal. I conclude. There is at the margin a public interest in that Myers was promoted from driver to special adviser to Hague on public funds while seeming to have no apparent qualifications for the job and Hague already having a sufficient complement of special advisers. Cronyism is a legitimate subject for public debate but the rest is prurience. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, prurience has drowned out the legitimate public interest topic. I suppose it was always going to...

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Rabbit Review: Apathy for the Devil

I bought this book using a books voucher given as a Christmas present by a kind cousin and promised to review it here some weeks ago so finally finishing and reporting in on the book has been a slow process. Was it worth the wait?

Yup. Apathy for the Devil is quality stuff. Mostly, it is gossip. But it is high quality gossip. Broadly, it is about rock, rock musicians, the seventies and heroin. Our man was a rock journalist who by the end of that decade was a seemingly hopeless heroin addict. In the interim, he had met the lot and seen and heard most of them perform. The title, by the way comes from a quip by Bob Dylan after seeing the Rolling Stones in concert, late seventies vintage when the drugs were causing serious havoc performancewise.

The story starts with the Rolling Stones in concert in Cardiff in 1964. The 12 year old Kent manages to pull a few strings via a young friend whose father was a promoter. Most of the acts in a rolled up programme were the less threatening, parent friendly early sixties stuff. Then enter the Rolling Stones and cue mass hysteria from the dominant female teenage part of the audience who make themselves busy screaming and - erm - touching themselves inappropriately much to the consternation of the young Kent who had hitherto led a sheltered life. Kent manages to get to meet the Stones backstage. Brian Jones is polite and friendly. The rest take no notice.

The Stones are one of the book's recurrent themes. Kent has a bit of a soft spot for Keith Richards, perhaps born out of a common interest in the ingestion of huge amounts of heroin. Richards is apparently a tolerant host, untroubled when Kent vomits over his doormat after one debauch. Keef is less generous to Eric Clapton, however. The latter found himself seriously in withdrawal when in France for Mick Jagger's wedding. Clapton asked Richards for help. 'Tell him to get his own' pronounced Keef. The sixties were truly over. Mick Jagger comes over as no more than all right, getting a worse press than the equally money obsessed Paul McCartney. Ronnie Wood comes across as a dimwit. The other two don't come across at all.

But I get slightly ahead of myself. The seventies start with Kent as an undergraduate at Bedford College, London, reading English. He isn't impressed. He describes Chaucer rather wonderfully as like a bad 'Carry On' film. He mislays his virginity and drops out to become a rock journalist. He tries very hard, and eventually succeeds, in getting an interview with Bowie. He follows Led Zeppelin around, which sounds as if it takes some nerve - they come across as downright scary. He falls in love with Chrissie Hynde and has a hopeless relationship with her. His musical heart belongs to Iggy Pop. This is a consistent theme throughout the book and Mr Pop is one of the few who emerges at the end of the narrative seeming a decent enough person. He also has a huge appendage, apparently.

Mostly, the story is a grubby one of self indulgence and narcissism by the rock elite. Kent himself hates the seventies by the end of the book. By the conclusion of that decade he is deeply addicted and a general mess. Phil Lesh in about 1968 made the silly pronouncement 'the world would be a better place if people took more drugs'. People did and it wasn't. It took most of the next decade for Kent to recover and become drug free.

The punk era comes across as pretty vile. For a couple of months before they achieved fame - or should that be notoriety? - Kent was an unlikely Sex Pistol. He is earlier a friend of Malcolm McLaren but comes to detest him. McLaren setting Sid Vicious on him with a bicycle chain for the fun of it would tend to put anyone off. Vicious comes over as a pretty appalling individual generally, but Kent's real ire is reserved for Nancy Spungen, who he plainly detested. So much for the Romeo and Juliet de nos jours. The sainted Bob Marley doesn't come across well, either. By the way, Mr Kent, in the incredibly improbable event that you read this, rasclaat is not Jamaican patois for scumbag. It literally translates as 'arse cloth'.

Kent can write though. His description of John Lydon as a 'teenage version of Albert Steptoe' is delicious as is his description of Joe Strummer as having the 'voice of a ruptured seal'. Synthesister music is dismissed as a 'brood (surely gaggle) of geese passing gas in a wind tunnel'. Erm... Quite so. Flared trousers, we are advised 'should be worn only by those unfortunate people with one leg significantly shorter than the other'.

Well, you get the general idea. Go buy! It's worth the read. As an exercise in serial namedropping it has class. There is a discography at the end. Here are a couple from it. Dedicated to Mr Kent for keeping the rabbit entertained, here are the Stooges and Fun House.

More to the rabbit's taste, here is the talented, doomed Gram Parsons with Emmylou Harris and Return of the Grievous Angel. There is a tragi-comic story of Parsons trying to get into a Rolling Stones concert but being so obliterated with drugs he blunders into a cinema instead. Moral: don't try to keep up with Keef.

Friday, 3 September 2010

White Rabbits

Things have been a little hectic of late so here is a picture of some of the relatives to be going on with. Oh and Percussion Gun by - erm - the White Rabbits...

And skipping back a generation and because JoJo prompted me with a recent comment, The Who and Pictures of Lily. I think I may have posted this before but whatever. And yes, I know what the song is about, thank you! Keith Moon, it will be noted, is giving it some welly.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Ian Tomlinson and an idiot pathologist...

Into serious mode, I fear. The above clip is of the G20 protests in London on the 1st April this year. The clip shows a man being shoved to the ground by police. The man is named Ian Tomlinson and is in fact nothing to do with the protest. Tomlinson is seen to be attacked from behind and thrown to the ground by a baton–wielding police officer in riot gear He is a newspaper vendor and aged 47. Tomlinson died shortly after.

The video footage and various witness statements constituted something of an embarrasment to the Metropolitan Police who had previously been spinning that Tomlinson had pre-existing health problems and that his family were not surprised by his death. A Dr Freddy Patel (below) conducted the first post-mortem and concluded that Tomlinson had died of a heart attack. The BBC has claimed that he did not meet the criteria for Home Office Pathologist status. The coroner who chose Patel has consistently refused to say why he was selected. But it gets worse ...

Following the video clip above entering the pubklic arena the normally obliging (to the powers that be, that is) Independent Police Complaints Commission took the investigation of the Tomlinson death out of Metropolitan Police hands and authorised a second post mortem. The second post mortem established that Ian Tomlinson died - not from a heart attack - but from internal bleeding.

Armed with this information, did the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) launch a prosecution against the identifiable - and identified - police officer who attacked Ian Tomlinson?


The CPS explained as follows: it could not bring a charge for assault because too much time had elapsed. A charge must be brought within six months. No such restriction applies to a charge of manslaughter. So why not prosecute for manslaughter on the basis that the officer's unlawful act caused Ian Tomlinson's death?

Because of the conflict between the findings in the first and second post mortems is the answer.

Patel's report found that Tomlinson had died of a heart attack, remember. No prosecution would follow. This is newish Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keir Starmer's equivalent to his predecessor's de Menenzes moment. The family of Ian Tomlinson were deepy upset and angry as may be imagined.

But what do we have in the news today? Patel - the man whose findings were relied on the CPS in deciding not to prosecute 'acted in a way that amounted to misconduct during two earlier post-mortem examinations and his fitness to practise is impaired'.

So there will be no prosecution on the basis of this idiot's 'findings'. A modest proposal to the DPP: why not prosecute for manslaughter on the basis of the second post mortem, give away Patel's report as unused material and let the defence use him if they are - erm - so advised? Here is a picture of Keir Starmer for purposes of identification should any reader bump into him and cares to make this helpful suggestion.