Thursday, February 24, 2005

No Snow

John Gaunt – the fat presenter – was complaining about the lack of snow and the fact that the apocolyptic forecast yesterday appeared to be a kneejerk reaction to last year's failure to predict a massive blizzard cutting off hundreds of people in their cars. And again this morning – the snow has failed to materialise. There were flurries around ten, but then it turned to sleet and rain. The new forecast is that it is pretty unlikely that snow will be a problem in London. I noticed that there was plenty of grit on the roadsthis morning, so I can't see why anyone can complain. Weather forecasting is far from an exact science, and a high probability of snow should be enough to trigger a response from the gritters.

Extinction” – author Ray Hammond was on the Robert Elms show. Earthquakes are doubling every year. – small to middle-range earthquakes – according to Hammond. Extinction is a thriller about global warming reaching crisis point and the puny human response to it. I haven't read it. Yet. But Hammond has done research that suggests global warming has affected the plate techtonics - the raise in temperatures has caused a corresponding expansion in volume of the earth's crust - which in turn has caused more instability in earthquake prone areas. Watch this space.

One of the bizarre things about the Internet is being able to rummage through random people’s photo albums like this:
Family pictures from America
A Scandinavian on holiday you can access some of her other albums too. Notice how many of her pictures are completely out of focus.
This, I assume, is an American. His pictures are pretty awful.
some more here
I’m glad that someone’s doing this a blog made up of pictures of dog signs:

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Finding somewhere to take a piss in this city is not easy. Even though Westminster council have set up pop up toilets or "Telescopic urinals" in Leicester Square starting at 8pm it doesn't help me much. I had to piss on the Sidcup bypass on the way home tonight - and honestly I'd much rather use a proper toilet.

I'm intrigued by these pop up toilets though. They sit in the ground - under the pavement all day and then at eight they pop up out of the ground. My mission is now to see these things rising out of the ground. Or to stand on top of one while it comes up.

Cycling round Elephant and Castle this morning, a van edged in front of me at the give way line and I had to get out of his way before he pulled forward, otherwise his back end would have clipped me, possibly knocking me off my bike.

I had some arsehole pull in front of me yesterday up the road from Tower Bridge (Bermondsey). He pulled right out past the give way line and was waiting; I kept going but as I approached, he pulled forward. I slammed the anchors on and nearly never stopped (snow obviously affecting my brakes). Once I stopped he had stopped so I went forward again. And he went forward too. So I stopped, but now I was in front of him. He kept trying to edge forward, so I asked him to stop. He leant out of his window and told me to cross the road where we could sort it out. Sort what out I wondered? I told him what the problem was and again - he pointed across the road, said we could talk over there. I told him that the only problem was the fact that he wouldn't stop long enough to let me get out of his way. As I cycled off I told him to "f**k off c**t".

I was mad!!

Snow then - it's been snowing for a few days now, but little is laying on the ground, and none on the roads, even though the weather people keep saying that the next one will be a big one, it has so far faded back to nothing.

I've got me goggles just in case.

stuff that happened on this date

on my bike

Blerim Mlloja

When Blerim Mlloja was three, his mother was shot dead after being involved in anti-communist uprisings in Albania. His father put the boy into a children’s home before being shot dead too about six years ago.
After that Blerin was arrested twice and beaten up to gain information about his parents. At 15 he escaped to Britain and was adopted by a couple in Eltham called Mary Watts and Michael Reedes.
Two weeks ago it was his 18th birthday; he was called in to the Home Office’s immigration directorate in Croydon, arrested, and sent to a detention centre near Heathrow.
He’d applied to stay in the country last year, but the application was rejected. His solicitor failed to lodge an appeal, which allowed the Home Office to take the action it did.
Dr Barcroft, Blerim’s psychiatrist, wrote a report for the Medical Foundation for the care of victims of torture, arguing that he should not be deported for health reasons.
Now Blerim says he is suffering panic attacks and has thought about killing himself.
Hooray for British justice!

nothing in particular

OK – I survived. We came home and I watched the Natural History of Europe. It’s quite good – like that Titchmarsh programme on BBC1, about the Natural History of Britain, that was on last year, but without Titschmarsh. A lot of the graphics and effects to illustrate the narration, eg, images of the ice sheet towering over North London, are from that series, and are very good. But with a decent narrator, and not some egotistical nob gibbering on and poncing about in a variety of costumes and locations, the program becomes very watchable indeed. Hoorah for BBC4!
very good indeed

Cycling home yesterday - via Victoria Park, Mile End, Limehouse, Isle of Dogs, Greenwich, past the Cutty Sark, and up the hill to Blackheath - I got told by the grumpy lift operator in the Greenwich foot tunnel, that I had to turn my light off, in a tone of voice that suggested I should already know about this odd new rule, and simultaneously pointed at this notice printed on an A4 sheet stuck up on the lift wall. I'd seen the sign and it said 'no flashing lights' - and I thought, well that must be due to the fact that flashing lights can disturb some people, or maybe be an irritation for non-cycling tunnel users. So I said "the sign says flashing lights and my light isn;t flashing". He said that was a mistake and all lights should be turned off. I didn't like to ask why due to the surliness of the lift operator. But what a stupid rule, and why the fuck did the bloke get so pissed off when I was clearly obeying the sign as it was then; why did he think I could read minds and know that I was supposed to turn my non-flasjing light off when the sign said flashing lights only.

Anyway the signs been ammended this morning, using tippex, to say all lights must be turned off going through the tunnel. I'm going to phone the number to find out why - must remember to write it down next time I go through.

Trying to buy a power supply for S’s laptop. I’ve been trying to find a cheaper alternative, but it does seem that 45 squid is the cheapest I’ll get. On the Smasung site its priced at around 55, but I’ve found a company that sells it at 45. With the VAT and postage though it’s bumped up to 60. Arseholes!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


I am faced with a terrible task. A task that will test all my courage. It’s parents evening at our daughter’s school. S wants to raise certain issues with the school – I have to put my terror and the fact that I am still suffering from lack of sleep aside.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Completely knackered!

I rode my bike slowly after taking (not quite) teenage daughter to school. Power naps became necessary scattered through the day. In the evening I managed to catch the brilliant Radio Four show, Just a Minute, and tidied up the kitchen just in time for S to arrive home from shopping in Peckham.
I watched one programme on the telly this evening; a short documentary about the origins and history of Monty Python – part of the Comedy Connections series. I was only disappointed to find out that even though the Independent illustrated this programme with a photo of Eddie Izzard in drag - as a fairy – Izzard had nothing to do with this programme. The photo was actually from Pythons 30th anniversary reunion in the late 90s.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Ghosts of Dead Cyclists

I was intending to turn up at the Urban75 book group at the Royal Festival Hall. I couldn;t find them, the place was so packed. I hung around for a bit with a pint, and as the place emptied I thought I'd find them, but no. A second pint came and went, and gave up. The bastards were hiding – I know they were. Quite enjoyed being in the RFH though.

I cycled in to Central London on the thoroughly nasty Tower Hill/ Byward Street/ Lower Thames St./ Upper Thames St./ Victoria Embankment road. The scariest bit was where Lower Thames Street links up with Byward St, and I suddenly found myself stuck out in between two lanes of fast moving fuckers – lorries, cars, taxis, etc. and no-one gives an inch on London Roads. I wasn’t expecting it at all, I’ll be ready next time, if there is one.

Cycling round London is not easy. If you do it properly it becomes quite risky. But I have a need to cycle and intend to be taken seriously as part of the traffic.
Vicki McCreery, a woman my age, was killed last year cycling across Blackfriars bridge as a result of a dodgy cycle lane put in by the government. It was a narrow lane that ran between two lanes of traffic used by buses. Now I know how bus drivers drive round here, and they don’t like cyclists much. So it should come as no surprise that Vicky McCreery was ran over and killed by some such fuckwit who wasn’t even looking where he was going. It is some justice that this man has gone to prison for manslaughter, but I’d rather these deaths didn’t happen in the first place.

Then when I got home S found this message on Urban75:
“apologies to anyone who tried to find us and failed last night.. the place was
rammed when we arrived so we ended up hidden in a far back corner behind a large
pillar and a small castle.I am happy to report we had a gay old time. With
Cocktails and canapes, witty banter and only a few accidental proposals of
marriage. we failed to think of a good irish book for st patricks day but I'm
open to persuasion that we take a swing at Flan O'Brien. we did decide that Amos
Oz will be one of the next few books. This one I think.we may have
thought of another book too but i forget what”

The Olympics Rant

The Olympics technical committee is poking round Stratford today. As I went across the Lee Valley I saw blimps floating over various sites. They mark the planned sites for various Olympics buildings/ stadia, so that the nice foreign people in purple fleeces can see how the plans will translate into reality.
But what's being skated over are the views of the dissenters. Businesses will be wiped out. Local people will see developments that they’ve contributed to, campaigned for, helped put together, plans sympathetic to the environment, sympathetic to the needs of the area, being bulldozed over by top-down undemocratic, unfair, unsuitable development, wiping out pockets of wildlife and character in the area.
There's a wider point here too. As politics has been sidelined with the widely hailed death of ideology - ordinary people aren't supposed to be talking politics any more - it’s even a dirty word for politicians. All our politicians stand for the same neo-liberal capitalist orthodox policies. The Power of Nightmares explained eloquently how our governments, now they can't make any grand promises, have decided to scare us shitless with world terrorism fantasies. But one thing they can promise us is sport, sporting heroes and great sports events. We are being distracted by sport, expected to make it part of ambition either to excel in sport or support a great hero/ team. The press join in and the sports pages are expanding; whole channels are devoted to sport. Up to 30% of our news bulletins now contain sport. Sporting heroes are instantly given great honours, e.g., Dame Kelly Holmes, while true greats, intellectual greats, writers, actors, musicians, scientists, have to wait a lifetime for their honours. But while Kelly Holmes is not an intellectual, she does parrot the government line. She toadies up to Blair in a way that musicians, writers and intellectuals won’t. Blair’s government were stung in the early days by the the Brit pop stars, comedians, writers etc, almost en masse turning their back on a government who came to power offering a return to the centre-left, but only gave us more of the Thatcherite dream. So now he no doubt feels safer with fuckwitted daytime tv hosts and feeble minded sports stars.
It's easy to see our Olympic bid fitting into this. Stratford has been whitewashed, cleaned up, palm trees planted, graffiti removed, roads cleared, etc. Banners everywhere scream "Back the Bid". And that's the mantra, Back the Bid or we won't win, the doubters are told. Which doesn't make sense, as the doubters don't want the fecking Olympics anyway. News of the bid's progress helps push other items, less happy items, off the news bulletins. If we are chosen in the summer, there will be no dissent allowed. Top-down plans will be imposed on a very run-down part of the city. In a city that is screaming out for good schools, more GPs, more police stations, more youth facilities, more premises for small businesses, more affordable homes, etc, what we will actually get are sports stadia. And worse, existing sports facilities in Hackney, currently used by ordinary kids, are going to be turned into a fecking coach and car park!!
I’m not against the Olympics. Part of my mind is really looking forward to it. I’m even fairly confident we will win. But I fear that it will not meet the needs of the people in East London; will be completely irrelevant to their needs in fact. It will cause harm to the area. After the Olympics in Atlanta, once the multinational corporations pulled out, the Olympic village reverted to a dangerous high crime area, with entrenched poverty and no jobs. How do the politicians ensure that that will not happen in Stratford?

no chance?;
Official sites:
Official site; LDA; BOA; government
Protest sites:
Against the Bid;;

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I support Ken Livingstone

I had a mini-hangover this morning. Only drank four pints with my friend Keef - down at the Half Moon in Herne Hill, followed by a Kebab each. Everyone is arsey on a Monday night. We were pestered at closing time in the pub, and pestered again in the kebab shop. I hate this fucking country.

S has tidied the flat so it was quite nice to be able to drink coffee and get ready in a calm and orderly environment. This doesn't include the cats who are rarely calm and orderly.

There was a wind again, enough to cause me a nuisance while cycling, but not to slow me down much. There was a lot of traffic over Tower Bridge, which slowed me down too. What cunts some motorists are. They behave as if cyclists are invisible, and jam themselves into improbably small spaces just to gain a foot on the road, which then jams up the road so much that not even a cyclist can get by without mounting the pavement.

I listened to John "the cunt" Gaunt on BBC London while cycling into work this morning. Another debate on immigration - yawn. And that Mayor Livingstone scandal rolls on yet again. He had refused to apologise yet again. Good. Fucking good on you Ken! I support you. He's called the Evening Standard 'fascist scum'. Which is what they are. I agree.
I hope he doesn't apologise. Jewish people claim to be offended by remarks made to this reporter (who happens to be Jewish). He was at a private event, uninvited, harrassing guests, and harrassing Ken Livingstone. If Livingstone lost his temper then he is justified. This reporter who claimed he was offended was in fact fucking delighted that he'd recorded Ken making this remark, and now the E.S. is intent on milking it for all its worth.
I would have gone further. Instead of comparing him to a nazi, I would have compared him to an Israeli marine, murdering Arabs, and bolstering Sharon's evil regime. and if he didn't like it he could have shoved it up his arse. Cunt!!
If Jews are offended by this then they should get real, get their fucking priorities in order. There's a fascist regime in the middle east murdering in the name of their faith. Why don't they get offended by that instead, like I am, and fucking do something!

I thank you.

McLibel Two Win

"Two campaigners should have been given legal aid by British government to defend themselves against libel action by McDonald's, European court of human rights rules." The Guardian.

I've been following this case for the past 15 years or so. I've supported the two in actions and fundraising. I've distributed the same leaflet that they were defending. I've also been aware that the libel laws in the UK are a considerable barrier to a free and open debate on the issues around multinational corporations.

Now corporations might think twice before taking on activists.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Between 10 and 11 last night I heard a huge noise like thunder. But it wasn't thunder. This noise was apparently heard all over London. I still have no clue what it was.

It was discussed on the Robert Elms show today.

Follow up added on Tuesday: A weather scientist brought on to Elms's show today said it was thunder. Small thunder storms form this time of year, and though small, release their energy in one huge bolt. It explains why this thunder bolt was so loud, and why no-one saw a thunder storm.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Save China Town

Went with the famille to Soho's Chinatown, to join in with the new year celebrations. K took a little friend with her. It was bitterly cold, with a biting wind. Masses of people, all wrapped against the elements, were there. Many Chinese, with cameras, kids and waving little Chinese things, dragons, roosters, etc.
We saw the dancers, in Lion and dragon costumes, working their way round Soho, dancing at the doors, and inside, all the businesses in the area. The lions are offered cabbages, which they rip apart and fling in the air.
But the bad news is that Chinatown is under threat. Its a bit from Newport Place to Newport Court, onto parts of Charing Cross Road, known as Sandringham Building. The freehold is owned by Westminster Council. It's full of Chinese businesses - newsagents, jewellery shop, grocery shops, and a fishmonger.
But a property developer called Rosewheel have bought the 200 years lease of Sandringham Building and have served notices to quit to the tenants so a Trocadero style shopping mall can be built there. And then the high street brand names, Tesco, Next etc, will be moving in.
Hence, the Save Chinatown Campaign.
Contact Jabez Lam, 07940 514 268
Save Chinatown Campaign, 14 Featherstone Road, Southall, Middlesex, UB2 5AA.
Go to the above link and sign the petition.

flotsam / jetsam

Things to do in Deptford when you're not dead (plus New Cross and other South London beauty spots). 'Transpontine' was a word invented in the 19th century to disparage the popular culture found across the bridges on the South side of the Thames. We have reclaimed it for the Southlands! EMAIL US: transpont at hotmail dot com

Saturday, February 12, 2005

CIA Out Of Control

The US have been engaged in “systematically seizing suspects and sending them, without legal process, not only to Guantanamo Bay but to authorities in countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Syria.” Some prisoners are sent to secret “CIA hellholes”. The system is known as “extraordinary rendition” – described by campaigners as a “system of torture by proxy”. Britain has been providing the some of the for this operation, and is the operational base for two executive jets used by the CIA to carry prisoners to Egypt and Jordan from countries including Sweden and Indonesia, and uses Luton, Glasgow, Prestwick and Northolt airports.
Both jets are white and unmarked with a US civilian registration – one a 737, the other a Gulfstream Jet. They are owned by US companies that only exist on paper, and act as fronts for the CIA. The Gulfstream is formally owned by Bayard Foreign Marketing; Thomas Bayard’s signature appears on the documents, a fictional identity.
In December 2001 a team of masked US agents arrived in Sweden “to transfer two Egyptian dissidents, both accused of terrorist involvement, to Cairo. Both later complained of torture.” One, Mohammed al-Zery, was eventually cleared and freed.
Yassir al Sirri, an Islamic radical living in London was arrested in October 2001; his computer was seized along with fax records. These were passed to the US and in the following weeks many of Mr Sirri’s contacts around the world were seized too, including al-Zery. Eventually, Sirri too was cleared of any charge.

US Threatening Iran

I got up relatively early considering its Saturday. This was so I could drive to a bike shop some distance away with an old Post Office bike we found dumped - a few years ago - and get an assessment of what it would take to restore it to a useable condition. The guy took one look and said that there was no way he could do anything. So it's down to me to try to source parts for it, and do the work myself.
S and I weighed ourselves. She's lost more than me, quel suprise!
Then we went shopping at Sainsburys and spent a hundred quid.

Despite the diplomatic language, Condoleeza Rice's comments are the latest in a long campaign to intimidate Iran. I suspect that the US want far more than the mere removal of a nuclear programme. The US want an internal revolt and the return to a west-friendly regime in the country. Rice's comments will serve to help bring about this end; US threats will create fear within Iran, which has already began to dispense with reforms it had previously introduced, with moderates being undermined. Rice's threats will help those in Iran who want to take a hardline against the west, and those who oppose tenative reforms.
Then of course the US will use the fact of this backsliding towards dictatorship as a reason for more intervention, sanctions, and eventually bombing and intervention. Somewhere down the line a prosperous and powerful nation will have been turned into another Iraq, broken and impoverished, ready to be invaded and occupied, if necessary, if internal dissent hasn't produced a civil war in the mean time.
Rice is now giving out warnings, just days after it was reported that the US had no intention of invading Iran (with the "for now" comment included in only some reports). She is now warning that the patience of the Bush administration was not unlimited. Clearly not! She added "we believe this is the time for diplomacy", there was "no deadline" and "no timeline" and said a "diplomatic solution is in our grasp". "It is obvious that, if Iran cannotbe made to live up to its international obligations, the IAEA statutes suggest Iran would have to be referred to the UNSC." A repeat of the long campaign against Iraq.

But what about Saudi Arabia? Its election on the 10th allowed no females to vote, and no female candidates to stand. Men will be electing only half of the members to local councils and the rest will be appointed by the Royal family.
All key ministerial posts are held by crown princes and the unelected parliament's role is purely consultative. Less than one third of those eligible to vote have actually registered, and there are no political parties mainly businessmen engaged in self -promotion. Anyone suggesting a change to this system is barred from standing, arrested, imprisoned, and probably tortured using British-made equipment. Marvellous!
When are we going to bring democracy to this oppressive Arab dictatorship then?
So far the US have failed to condemn these elections. They wouldn't dare, knowing full well that if the Saudis wanted to - they could cause US prosperity to collapse overnight.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Airstrip One

After the nice things I said about Wharf Cycles - the bike shop I use on the Isle of Dogs - I went to collect my bike after work and found they'd shut early. I couldn't get my bike back, which left me having to use shitty public transport (a bus, mainly) to get home. The 321 is a truly shitty bus. It's always vandalised, generally filled with Chavy kids, seats in an appalling state, ripped up, loose, with food and wrappers, drinks etc spilled all over and around on the floor.
What I have to endure eh?

I managed to get my bike back this morning though, after another appalling ride on the 321 bus, this time full of elderly types getting on and off at every bloody stop. But at least the repair only cost 6 squid. Wharf Cycles are back in my good books!

The US still has 480 nuclear weapons in Europe, according to a survey by the Natural Resources Defense Council, based in Washington DC. 300 are fitted to be dropped by US aircraft, & 180 by local air-forces. There are 110 in Britain, stored at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk; 150 in Germany at 3 bases; 90 in Italy; 90 in Turkey; 20 in Belgium and 20 in the Netherlands. All the weapons are under US control.
At the height of the cold war, the US had 7,300 short range weapons in Europe, but numbers fell sharply from the late 80s. The US have been giving the impression that only 200 US nukes remained in Europe. The question is now, why do we still have these weapons in Europe, and why do the US continue to lie about their numbers? What are the weapons for: to be used against Syria and Iran?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ads we hate

The “Dancing In The Streets” ad for Johnny Vaughn’s breakfast show. It smacks of desperation, with Vaughn dressing up as all the diferent “stereotypes” he imagines listen to him. But why would people make a conscious choice to listen to that stream of corporate messages, predictable competitions, one line news bulletins and unfunny jokes?

Shitty Brit Awards

Everything was won by white people. The music business is institutionally racist. Forget Jamelia - Joss Stone was apparently the greatest female urban singer. Bollocks she was!
And the “breakthrough” bands nominated – I was listening to over a year ago. Franz Ferdinand, Scissor sisters, Zutons, and some others I knew about, but didn’t like, Keane, Libertines. In fact – there’s a marked similarity with the nominations on last year’s Brat awards.
Robbie Williams’ won song of all the Brits ever, ABOVE Joy Division’s …….
And as for that fuck spud who calls laughably calls himself The Streets...

Bad Cycle Day

I’ve been riding round with just a back brake the last couple of days – which is a bit hair-raising. So today I took the giant step of putting it into the repair shop. I don’t do my own repairs – I’m shit at that sort of thing. I’m getting the gears repaired too – think my cable is stretched.
My ride today took in the Sidcup bypass, the Kidbrooke Estate, Blackheath and Greenwich. All with a strong wind against me. The bike shop I use is on the Isle of dogs, it opens very convenient hours (8 to 7), is pretty cheap, and they seem to know their stuff, they’ve always done me a good job.
S is learning to knit – something she hasn’t done for years. I’ll try to photograph one of her efforts for this 'blog, if she lets me!
She’s at home today, looking after the sprog. Except that the sprog is fine now, running round the house teasing the cat, etc.
China Town is under threat apparently thanks to the high property prices. Robert Elms did an interesting piece about it this morning in the “Round Your Manor” article. We’ll being going there on Sunday to watch the New Year’s celebration, or at least the version they put on for the tourists.

Shoppers ran amok at the opening of a new IKEA store in London. apparently the people who lived nearby were desperate for the discounts being offered as the shop opened - and the ensuing crush injured a few, frightened many more. The store is shut until further notice and the discounts have been withdrawn.

Royal Fuck Up

I was sitting on the toilet this morning, having a crap, when on comes an announcement on BBC Radio Four: Charley’s going to marry Camilla. Oh for fucks sake, another sodding Royal Wedding. I hate it. I’ve endured too many already. Luckily I was in Andorra when he married Diana, so was able to escape, with my dad, into downtown Andorra La Veilla to eat cheese and drink wine. It didn’t stop everyone else in the hotel watching it in the lobby, including my mum and sister.
I've heard the date for the wedding now - it's going to be on April 8th.


Starve The Beast

Noam Chomsky described this process recently in an interview pubished by Znet. It's what Reagan attempted in the 1980's, and this appalling policy has been revived by the Neo-cons running the White House 20 years later. Spend so much money that there is nothing left in the treasury for social policies or welfare.

The realities at home:
Bush budget seeks social spending cuts Poor to pay price of US deficit

The next project:
Iran attack 'not on US agenda

Events in Iraq

A convoy of Kurdish officials who took a wrong turn into a bad area of Baghdad were attacked, three were killed.
An interior military colonel called Riyadh Katei Illawi was kidnapped in Baghdad.
An Iraqi tv correspondent and his six year old son were shot dead. Abdul Hussein Khazaal worked for al-Hura TV - the US funded propaganda channel (Radio Free Iraq?) set up to challenge al-Jazeera.
A director in the Ministry of Culture and Housing was assassinated.
It appears that "insurgents" are getting good intelligence from their former colleagues still working in the security ministries of the interim government.
Iraqi police and soldiers are crying out for decent equipment and vehicles, but the US insist that all they need is yet more training.
Information gleaned from a Patrick Cockburn article in the independent.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Rotters Club

It was the final episode today. I’ve really enjoyed this. It’s set in the 70s, with the kids going to a school very like the one I went to (1978 to 1985). It’s actually set from just before the Heath/ Wilson general election, up to about 1978. So it covers the generation who’d have been leaving High School just as I started in 1978.
I’ve got the whole lot on video, and now want to sit and watch the whole 3 hours from start to finish.

Suicide Bomber

Another suicide attack - this one on an Iraqi national guard base at Muthana airfield in western Baghdad. 21 dead and another 27 people injured in the blast.
“Elsewhere in Iraq, at least five people, including three policemen, were killed. The attacks bring to more than 60 the number of Iraqis killed in the past two days.”
It doesn’t look as if elections have dampened the revolutionary spirit in Iraq.
The US military contradicted Iraqi officials who had claimed that the explosion was a mortar attack.
Also, “three policemen were killed in the violent western Baghdad suburb of Ghazaliyah. Gunmen fired on the car of a politician, Mithal al-Alusi, killing his two sons but leaving him untouched. It was the latest of several attempts on his life. Last year, Mr Alusi headed the De-Ba'athification Commission. He was sacked from the job after protests following a trip he made to Israel.”

“There was conflicting information about the fate of an Italian journalist who was kidnapped in Baghdad last Friday. One group which claimed to have taken Giuliana Sgrena, a reporter on the Communist daily Il Manifesto, said she would be released shortly because it had determined she was not a spy. Another group claimed it had killed her.”

The Empire Strikes Back

The Hackney Empire isn’t very different from when I visited in 1989 to see John Martyn. But I still nearly missed it as we sped by on the bus. But it was night-time, and the theatre was difficult to see, until we were right on top of it.

The show started within minutes of us arriving, with Ada Barr, comedian Chris Green in drag, as a very elderly Music Hall star. She compered most of the show. It was a bit mediocre at first. There was a deaf woman whose act was to sign language to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Shite! And a woman who wore a long black dress in the gothic style, and mimed to opera, while another woman, clad in her underwear, hung on to a ribbon attached to the ceiling, and two blokes came on and had some sort of contraption in their hands, that gave off sparks like an angle-grinder. Hmmmm.
Then there was a female sword swallower, one of only two in the world, she claimed.

And then came Rob Newman. Very political, with a bit of history too. I enjoyed him, but S didn’t so much. Mark Thomas was excellent, of course, and as he ended I rushed off to have a pee, but noticed how clear the bar was so decided to get a drink first. And then an interval was announced.

This fuckwitted girl barged into the side of me as I made my way to the – as yet – clear bar. Then she made some comment like “oh pushing are we” and laughed to make a joke of it – I didn’t apologise as it was she that pushed into me – from behind. Then another girl came in from behind and squeezed in on my left. She commented on the slowness of the bar staff – and then proceeded to get herself served before me. At that point I decided my bladder required more attention than my alcoholic needs – and realised I’d left S alone for same time – she might be wanting to pee too - so I dived into the toilet, and then went back to my seat.

Once the Blockheads were on stage I decided to take a chance at the bar. Again, I failed to attract the attention of the bar staff, and several people were able to walk straight up to the bar and get served while I was waiting. Then one bloke who was about to be served actually mentioned that I’d been there before him and I was able to order a half pint of Stella, which immediately ended up down my shirt and jeans as some wanker danced into me, shrugged, like it wasn’t his problem, and wandered off. I got served quickly after that and with another half pint, was able to get it safely back to my seat. Now I really was stinking of beer.


I was back on the bike again today. I took the digital camera to photograph this rig that has appeared near Tower Bridge. I should be posting the pictures fairly soon.
It’s used to erect off-shore wind generators, apparently.
Then I took other pictures – and had people staring at me, and studying the object in front of my camera. Why?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

27 die as new wave of attacks hits Iraq

“Two suicide bombers struck in Iraqi towns yesterday, claiming at least 27 lives, in a return to the grim familiarity of insurgency just a week after millions of Iraqis flocked to the polls. It was the most violent day since the January 30 elections."
“Yesterday's first bomber struck at the main police headquarters in Baquba, a mixed Shia and Sunni town 40 miles north of Baghdad. At least 15 people were killed and 17 injured. Witnesses said the bomber had tried to drive a car laden with explosives through the gate of the police station but instead hit a concrete blast wall and detonated near a crowd outside.
“In the second attack a man apparently wearing a vest of explosives walked into a crowd of police standing outside the Jumhuri hospital in the northern city of Mosul. At least 12 people were killed and four injured. The blast blew a crater into the ground.
"Four Egyptian telecoms engineers were kidnapped from their house in Baghdad on Sunday.
The Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who was kidnapped in daylight on Friday at Baghdad University, was still missing. Two groups have claimed responsibility for her kidnap and both have threatened to kill her. Sgrena had been to interview refugees from the city of Falluja who are camped near a mosque inside the university."

After the doubts over who kidnapped Margaret Hassan, I can't help feeling concerned about the future of this journalist. If she is in the hands of a CIA black ops group, then I suspect that she's dead already.


Blair announced that strategy to withdraw troops from Iraq, based on replacing coalition troops with Iraqi security forces, or “Iraqi-isation”, was soon to be implemented. “General Luck's assessment, which was sent to the Pentagon last month, is believed to be the basis of an Anglo-American plan to gradually withdraw the 150,000 coalition troops in Iraq.”

And then we'll be able to turn our backs and forget the carnage?

Deep Throat

There was an item on Newsnight last night; some researcher has come to the conclusion that Deep Throat, the unidentified whistle-blower in the Watergate case, was actually George H W Bush, GW's Dad.

It's something I considered just a few days ago. I'm of the opinion that its entirely plausible, but that there is little evidence either way. The journalist, Bob Woodward, isn't going to reveal his source until the source is dead. Will someone finish Bush off quickly, so we can find out?

S thought the name "Deep Throat" was quite rude. We'd seen a documentary about Linda Lovelace on Sunday night; she was known for a completely different sort of deep throat.

S and I going to a Tsunami fundraising cabaret at the Hackney Empire tonight. It looks like a load of circus acts, some 2nd rate comedians, a guitarist, and topping the bill, Rob Newman, Mark Thomas and the Blockheads.
BBC on TinaC
This is a man, playing female characters. The Ida Barr character is a former music hall star, refiving her career performing urban street sounds with a heavy leaning towards the concerns of pensioners. Tina C is trailer trash country singer. I saw Chris Green as Tina C in the comedy tent at Glasto last year. I think he was amusing, but I was tired, worn out and quite possibly not in my usual frame of mind.
not sure how entertaining this will be.

Iraq has disappeared from our television news. Why? Are we supposed to believe that everything is hunky dory over there now?
By the way - there are much more interesting Blogs out there - try this, by someone in Iraq:

Monday, February 07, 2005

Life During Wartime

PAFC's position in the Championship is looking increasingly shakey:
But at last - they've managed to win a point.

S and I have agreed terms and the great Fat Club battle is on. I'm worried though - as even though I've managed to get down to 17 stone 2 lb, S has dropped to a stone less than she thought she was. I don't think I can compete.

Fatty new year

We went to see Ukulele Orchestra of GB on Saturday, at Shoreditch Town Hall; I loved their version of Nirvana's Teen Spirit - excellent.

Well they were supposed to be supported by "Vince Vincent and the Villains", but I suspect we didn't see them at all. Instead we saw a bloke on Ukulele and another on a clarinet performing stuff that even John Peel would have thought twice about playing, I reckon. The Easy Surrealists, Country Teasers

Before the gig S and I sauntered off to Brick Lane to have a curry. Apart from the egg curry it was more than acceptable, quite tasty in fact.
Upon arriving back at the Town Hall we claimed our free champagne and managed to grab a table close to the bar. Then we sat and bitched about everyone around us. We noted the large number of 70s fashions being worn, and in particular a bloke who had hair and sidies just like my Dad did in 1976.
On the way there we saw what must have a hundred or more coppers trying to control a mob of what could only be described as chavs, at London Bridge. At first I thought I thought it was something to do with the Millwall match up the road, but then I noticed that none of the chavs were wearing football colours, only the chav uniform of trainers and baseball cap.

Spoke to K on Sunday and have booked date to visit his new house in Spain, looking forward to it.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Cube 3

S. came back from her night out and complained about smelly sci fi geeks (like the comic shop owner in The Simpsons I assume) and exploitative directors. Cube 3 was shite, and only served as a showcase for the dubious talents of those concerned.

I'm glad I didn't go.

I've had a quiet evening at home. Daughter is ill and went to bed early, and I watched T.V.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Dead prime minister

The prime minister of Georgia was found dead, bizarrely, due to gas poisoning from a heater that had only just been fitted. He had been in a dispute with the president, but this was denied by a spokesman on Radio 4 though.
The following is an edited Guardian report:

Zurab Zhvania, a friend, Raul Usupov, the deputy governor of the Kvemo-Kartli region was found dead in an apartment in Tbilisi.
"Preliminary information indicates there was a leakage of household gas from an Iranian-made heater installed in the apartment," and high levels of carbon monoxide were found in the flat. Zhvania played an important role in the "rose revolution" in November 2003 that ousted the former Soviet stalwart Eduard Shevardnadze as president and led to the pro-American presidency of Mikhail Saakashvili.
The premier was considered by some as a moderate within the administration, spearheading a crackdown on crime and corruption, and negotiating settlements with two of the republic's breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. A former parliamentary speaker, he is survived by a wife and three children.
A criminal investigation and autopsy were under way as a matter of routine, but that biochemical analysis had already indicated carbon monoxide poisoning.
The prosecutor general, Zurab Adeishvili, said the American FBI would also test Mr
Zhvania's blood. More than 40 such accidents have been reported in the former
Soviet republic in the past two years.
One Georgian MP said Russia was behind the poisoning.
I wish it was as easy to get rid of our PM!
But it does seem that in its attempt to stitch togther a new federation of ex-soviet states the Russians are pulling out every stop with regard to dastardly and sneaky tricks. Just look at Ukrainia for a recent example. It's also true to say that our press is failing to make the connections here. No doubt the USA has its evil tentacles winding through these regions too; a reason why the Russian government need to resort to such tactics, reminiscent of the worst excesses of the Cold War.

I weigh 17 stone 4 pound now – that’ a drop of two pounds. S wants to make a bet about who can lose the most weight by June. It’ll be her of course, I’m intending to sustain about 2 pounds a week loss every week, no more.
Bought a copy of “Right Ho! Jeeves” by PG Wodhouse so I can go to the Urban 75 book group meeting on the 17th.
Also reading ‘Stasiland’ by Anne Funder – borrowed from S. It includes true life accounts by people who lived in East Germany, mainly in relation to their experiences with the secret police.

I was highly amused by something that Brian Eno said on Radio 4 today, talking to Alan Moore; he said when he talked to David Bowie they usually took on the Pete and Dud characters. “We could be Heroes, Dud”, “just for a day”.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Iraqi Election

This bit is on construction - information entered as and when I come across it.

The main news here was all about how orderly the elections were, with people praising Allah that they've been allowed to vote. It wasn;t till later in the day that the more indepth news for "clever" people voiced doubts about just how fair or valid these elections in war-torn and occupied Iraq could be.

There was a poor turnout among Sunnis in one of the main Sunni-dominated provinces, Salahuddin, which includes Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit.

Election officials admitted that at least 15,000 people had been unable to vote around Mosul because of violence and a shortage of ballot papers.