Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve 2010 at The Sleaze

Well, today has already taken several unexpected turns, none of them welcome. My plans to spend the afternoon watching a Sergio Leone DVD were disrupted when the DVD player, (which had been working perfectly well yesterday), decided to refuse to play any disc put in it. By the time I'd given up on trying to get it to work, it was past five o'clock and everywhere had closed due to it being New Year's Eve. The only places open were supermarkets. Unfortunately, neither of my local town centre supermarkets sold DVD players. However, I reasoned that if the town centre branch of Sainsburys was open until seven this evening, then the larger one on the edge of town would be too, so I drove there. Luckily, they were open, and they did have DVD players. Of course, by the time I'd bought the new player, got it home and set it up, I didn't have time to watch the DVD, as I had other things scheduled, (which makes me sound more organised than I actually am).

So, with the day already disrupted, I'm left pondering the annual question of whether I'm going to venture out this evening to celebrate New Year's Eve. This year I actually do have a genuine choice - with my local pub now under sympathetic management, there is a suitable venue. Indeed, I spent Christmas Eve there with friends, (technically, as we didn't leave until after one in the morning, I also spent part of Christmas Day there), and had a good time, although it was a bit crowded. The trouble is that I'm sure that it will be even more crowded tonight and, to be frank, I'm getting too old for all this New Year's Eve nonsense. The prospect of spending time in a crowded pub, probably surrounded by people I don't know, because they don't usually drink there, doesn't fill me with enthusiasm. Right now, it's looking like another New Year's Eve in, probably watching that DVD I wasn't able to watch this afternoon. Anyway, whatever I end up doing, it just remains to wish all and sundry a Happy New Year. See you all in 2011.

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Watching the Amateur Detectives

Well, thank God they've arrested someone for that woman in Bristol's murder. Not just because, obviously, justice needs to be done, but because it will hopefully spell an end to the media's own investigation of the crime. As soon as I heard the words uttered by a reporter that 'the police clearly need the public's help to solve this murder', my heart sank, as I knew that we were in for seemingly endless press speculation about motives, suspects, along with reconstructions and re-enactments. All based upon highly dubious 'information' from neighbours, acquaintances and some bloke they spoke to on the bus. When the police say that they need the public's help, they mean that they need witnesses to come forward, people who might not think that something they saw or heard was significant, so didn't initially come forward. What they aren't doing is inviting people to conduct their own amateur, Miss Marple-style investigation.

But that never deters the press, particularly when they're in the middle of the post-Christmas, pre-New Year news shortage. Reporters endlessly go over police statements, interview relatives, and reconstruct the victim's last movements. It gets to the stage that you suspect that there's some kind of race going on between the various news outlets to be the first to unmask the murderer. Mind you, even with a suspect in custody, the media speculation continues, this time focusing on profiling the man arrested. According to The Guardian, he's a 'pillar of local society' - it's that old press standby of seeming amazed that murderers look just like the rest of us: they can even be respectable middle class property owners! I really don't know why the media always seem to think that we should be able to spot potential murderers. Indeed, the only person I know who has been convicted of murder, (a client I dealt with for several years through work), was outwardly one of the meekest people I've dealt with, and never presented any obvious threat either to myself or society. But then again, The Guardian article does keep coming back to the matter of the current suspect's wild hair. Maybe it's all in the hair - a tip to all murderers then: shave your head and nobody will ever suspect you.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Confessions of a Sex Murderer

What a strange decade the 1970s were - whilst the British film industry was busy collapsing and producing the likes of Rosie Dixon, Night Nurse, in Italy they were churning out ever more demented 'Giallo' films, like Strip Nude for Your Killer. I received the latter 'gem' on DVD as a Christmas present and watched it the other day. What can I say about a film which opens with a back-street abortion and culminates with the 'hero' (surely one of the most dislikeable characters ever to grace the screen), attempting to force his girlfriend into having anal sex with him? Quite extraordinary. Oh, and there is lots of gratuitous nudity. Not just of women. The scene in which a naked fat man - clutching a blow up sex doll in one hand and a carving knife in the other - is stalked around his house by a psycho-killer, will remain burned into my mind for all perpetuity. I'm not making this up - you can buy the DVD in HMV, for God's sake!

Anyway, in a desperate attempt to bolster its failing fortunes, the British film industry did, rather half-heartedly - try to ape the Italian product. Sadly, the best they could come up with was Confessions of a Sex Murderer. This barely released 1975 farrago featured the ever gormless Robin Askwith as a window cleaner accused of being a peeping Tom after witnessing a gruesome sex murder. With a bewildered-looking James Mason on hand as a Scotland Yard detective to give the film some gravitas, the production tries hard to come on like an Italian 'Giallo'. Sadly, the drab back streets of Bracknell are a poor substitute for sun-drenched Rome, and Askwith's window-cleaning round (based in a lock-up garage), can't compete with the photographic studios, art galleries and exclusive girls' schools which frequently provide the back drops for the Italian thrillers. The whole thing is ultimately scuppered by the ludicrous denouement, in which the slim and athletic masked killer is revealed to be overweight and wheezing British seventies comedy fixture Arthur Mullard. If you ever have the misfortune to see this rubbish - look out for Arthur Askey as a flasher in the park where Askwith is chased by the killer.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

The Other Side of Christmas

Here we are, on the other side of Christmas. We're in those strange, apparently aimless, days between Christmas and New Year. Personally, I always enjoy this period - lots of long lazy afternoons stretched out on the sofa, drinking brandy, watching DVDs or reading favourite books. However, I apparently shouldn't be enjoying myself, as I'm doing all these things on my own. According to the local news today, (desperate to fill even the meagre five minute bulletin they had), 'nobody should be on their own at Christmas'. Every year I have to put up with this bollocks, (if it isn't at Christmas, it's during those awful programmes ushering in the New Year where, as Big Ben chimes midnight, the presenter patronisingly makes some comment about, 'all those of you at home on your own', as if we're sad, friendless, bastards).

Now, I know that the story in question was about lonely pensioners, it was still making a sweeping generalisation. Many of us, regardless of our age, actually like being on our own at this time of year. Actually, some of us simply like being on our own at any time of year. Bearing in mind that the festive season is the time of year that the most relationships founder, spending several days in close quarters with family at such a stressful time is not a good idea. As far as I'm concerned, Christmas represents the one time of year when I'm entirely selfish, and refuse to allow the rest of the world to make any demands on my time. I always feel a Hell of a lot better for it, too. So, back to the beer, sausage rolls and DVDs.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010 at The Sleaze

Well, it's that time of year again, and I'm finally feeling a bit more seasonally spirited. In large part this is due to have finally shaken off the worst of the cough which has been plaguing me for the past few weeks. It's amazing how much better spending the morning in a warm bed can make you feel. It was also the annual Sleaze staff Christmas party today, which certainly helped get everyone in the mood. Thankfully, we avoided the homemade egg nog shenanigans of a couple of years ago - mainly because Little Miss Strange is still on the run from that horse she punched. She was last heard of in Lapland, violently accosting a reindeer she'd accused of eating her magic mushrooms. Still, in her absence, my cousin Suzie Sleaze succeeded in making an exhibition of herself eating the entire cheese board. I really though she was going to throw up all over my living room carpet after she'd eaten the stilton. She was last seen lying the garden clutching her stomach and moaning.

Thanks to his electronic tag, Big Sleazy had to leave before dark, much to my relief - I could do without his snowman building efforts. Those carol singers from the pensioners' flats opposite still haven't recovered from last year's abomination. I had to out and beat it to bits with a shovel - which sent the neighbours' kids into a fit of hysterics. To this day, when they see me in the street they point and shout "Murderer!" at me. Anyway, getting back to the point - Christmas Eve. For the first time in several years it looks like I'll be able to celebrate at my local pub, thanks to the change in ownership earlier this year. Which will make a nice change. I was going to fire off a load of festive e-mails to various associates this afternoon, but in the end just didn't have the energy. So, instead I'll take this opportunity to say to absent friends, regular readers and fellow online satirists - whatever it is you celebrate at this time of year, have a good one. Happy Winterval one and all!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Oh, Miss Jones!"

Going back to Monday's post, and my ideas for a Hollywood movie version of Rentaghost, I've had a few thoughts as how to translate another British comedy classic to the US big screen: Rising Damp. Now, I know that, technically, there already has been an attempt to adapt the series for the US - there was an unaired CBS pilot with Jack Weston in the Rigsby role entitled Steam Heat, made in the late 1970s - not to mention a UK film version in the early 1980s with most of the original cast, but I'm talking here about a 're-imagining'. You know what I mean - it's Hollywood's favourite buzz word: you take an old TV series or film, throw away everything that made it popular or distinctive, and instead produce a heap of shiny shit. But getting back to the point: Rising Damp - clearly, the key thing here would be the casting of Rigsby, the sad middle-aged sexually repressed and bigoted landlord. Obviously, the late Leonard Rossiter would be a hard act to follow, but I think I've got it cracked - Christopher Walken.

One of my favourite actors, Walken can make just about any character skin-crawlingly weird. His bizarre intonations and wild gaze have enlivened many a totally crap movie for me. Just imagining his delivery of the classic line "Oh, Miss Jones!", whilst drilling peep holes in his female lodger's walls so as to cop an eyeful of her getting dressed, sends shivers down my spine! Indeed, making Rigsby a full blown voyeuristic pervert, is, I feel, key to this re-imagining. Walken could spend his time sat in his musty basement, whacking off as he watches his tenants through hidden cameras. Add to this the fact that he is a traumatised ex-Vietnam veteran, and the recipe for hilarity is complete. You can just see the Christmas episode, where Rigsby forces Alan and Philip to sit around the kitchen table, wearing paper hats from the crackers, and play Russian Roulette. Or how about an episode where the delivery of a Chinese take away to Alan triggers a flashback to the My Lai massacre for Rigsby. Before you know it, Walken is hiding behind the sofa, wearing camouflage face paint and toting an M16, taking pot shots at anyone coming down the stairs, before trying to burn the house down. This one could really have legs!

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back to the Drawing Board

Well, looks like I'll have to think of a new Plan B. I did the calculation today for the pay-off I'd get if I took voluntary redundancy, (sorry, participated in the 'Voluntary Early Release Scheme'). Sadly, despite more than a decade's service, it would still be pretty poor. That said, it was highly unlikely that even if I had applied, it would have been accepted. Apparently, I'm classified as 'front line staff'. Which begs the question, of course, if I'm that bloody important, why am I paid so shittily and frequently treated like dirt by my employer? Anyway, getting back to the possibility of redundancy - why, you might ask, would I be exploring such a course of action? Well, as is pretty evident from my above comments, I'm heartily sick and tired of my present job. However, like most people, I'm simply not in a strong enough financial position to just walk out. If I was to get a decent enough pay off though, it would be a different kettle of fish altogether.

Several options would be open to me: on the one hand, I'd have sufficient funds to live for two or three years whilst I found another full-time job (at my age it could easily take that long), on the other hand I could pay off the bulk of my mortgage, reducing my outgoings and opening the possibility of either taking a lower-paid job, or working part-time. Alternatively, (and this was my preferred option), with a decent redundancy pay out in the bank, I could finally try to use my teaching qualification to actually get into the teaching profession by signing up to an agency and trying to get some work as a supply lecturer. The uncertain income streams involved in supply teaching have, in the past, made this a non-option for a mortgage payer like me. However, as I said, with money in the bank, it suddenly becomes a possibility, and a possible path into full-time teaching. But, as I've already indicated, the kind of money on offer just isn't adequate for me to be able to put this particular Plan B into effect. So, I guess it's back to the drawing board.


Monday, December 20, 2010

We've Got Spooks and Ghouls and Freaks and Fools...

Ok. let's forget about Christmas and the cold weather for this post, shall we? I'm already tired of both of them. Instead, I've become entranced by those weird Hollywood rumours about supposed film projects and alleged casting. Obviously, most are absolute bollocks. One which struck me as such on first sight was that Russell Brand had been cast in a Hollywood remake of the old BBC children's TV series Rentaghost. Now, it isn't the idea of Hollywood turning a crap old British TV series into a movie which marked this one out as a fake. These days they'll remake anything. Especially children's programmes. Damn it, in the States they've just released a big budget Yogi Bear movie mixing live action and CGI, featuring Dan Akyroyd and Justin Timberlake as the voices of Yogi and Boo Boo. OK, I know that sounds completely made up, but, trust me, it's true. So, a Rentaghost film isn't improbable, and neither is the casting of Russell Brand. After all, he's pretty much established himself now as a credible transatlantic star. No, what gave the story away as bollocks was the claim that Brand was to play Fred Mumford. Oh, for God's sake! Anybody who knows anything about Rentaghost knows that Fred Mumford was the really boring conventional ghost. There is no way any competent casting director would put Brand in that role. It's the sort of role you'd give to Bill Pulman, or Kevin Costner - dependable, but dull as ditch water.

Now, if the story had claimed that Russell Brand had been cast as manic court jester poltergeist Timothy Claypole, then I would have believed it. Damn it, he even has the same beard as the original Claypole, not to mention the deliberately archaic speech patterns and propensity for over acting. If anyone was to make a film version of Rentaghost, the main casting problem would be the third ghost, Mr Davenport, who, as I recall didn't actually last long in the original series. He was a pretty boring character, (even more so than Fred Mumford), some kind of effete Edwardian gentleman. maybe they could play him as all out camp and cast Nathan Lane. In the interests of balance, they'd probably have to make Fred Mumford black. Which would at least make him mildly interesting. Eddie Murphy would be ideal casting, but I suspect they'd actually get Sinbad. Or one of the Wayans brothers. All of which leaves the main non-supernatural character to cast - the ghosts' sleazy and grasping landlord Mr Meeker. Who else but Harvey Keitel? I can just see him wearing Meeker's trademark trilby hat and sporting his dodgy seventies 'tache, growling "Get out of here you fuckin' spooks", as he tries to collect the rent. So, there you have it - my formula for a Rentaghost film. If you re a Hollywood producer, my consultancy fees are very reasonable.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Lacking the Seasonal Spirit

I was hoping that my cold would have assuaged enough by today that I'd be able to make a less ill-tempered post than the last one. Sadly, despite an early improvement, this evening it seems to have relapsed. Which really pisses me off as I was looking forward to sitting down with a beer in front of the TV tonight, which is now difficult thanks to the combination of coughing fits and generally feeling shit. I'm not sure whether it's the cold warping my perceptions, but it doesn't even feel like Christmas at the moment. Of course, the fact that my local municipal Christmas lights this year are particularly shite, probably isn't helping. Damn it, even Benny Hill's home town has better Christmas lights than us!

Mind you, I was reminded the other day that Christmas has always been a bit disappointing. For some reason best known only to myself, I recently found myself watching one of those digital TV channels that shows pop videos continuously. They had one of those 'Top Ten' programmes on - in this case Noddy Holder's Top Ten Christmas Videos. Jesus, most of those old time Christmas hits we so warmly remember really were crap, weren't they? Boney M - awful. Cliff Richard - despicable. Is it any wonder that these days the only festive pop classics they ever seem to play are Slade (Noddy's number one video, not surprisingly), Wizzard and John Lennon? They're about the only three it's still possible to listen to without being filled with an overwhelming desire to jump off of a bridge. But I suppose we should be thankful - nowadays the best we get are piss poor covers by X-Factor contestants. Even Johnny bloody Mathis was preferable to that sort of shit.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Post One Thousand, or Why I Hate the Web

Well, here we are at another landmark - the one thousandth posting on this blog. I always feel torn on such occasions - one part of me feels it should just be business as usual, whilst, on the other hand, another part of me wants to mark it by posting something really significant. Sadly, a raging cold which has been afflicting me for the past few days makes neither option likely. I've only just got a particularly violent cough under control thanks to some especially evil-tasting cough medicine. The whole situation hasn't been helped by staff shortages meaning that I've had to keep going in to work - dosed up to the eyeballs with pharmaceuticals - when I really should have been at home in bed. The result is that I've completely lost the thread as to what I'd planned to post here this week - unbelievable though it might seem, I do usually have a vague idea as to what the week's posts are going to contain - and I still haven't started knocking together a new story for The Sleaze.

That said, I seem to recall that I was intending to post something about my growing disillusionment with the web. Nothing new there, I hear you say. True. I've railed in the past about the demise the old 'Wild West' web of the early days, which seemed to be full of innovation and fun, whereas these days it all seems far too commercialised. The gifted amateurs of the 'good old days' have been replaced by cynical professionals interested only in sales, so it seems. But it isn't just this, it's the fact that the web just seems to bring out the worst in humanity which has increasingly got me down. I've talked about this before - just look at the comments on most news stories, catalogues of unrelenting hatred and bile. Now, I know that it has been said that this sort of stuff merely represents what these morons think anyway, and you are just as likely to hear it in the pub, but the fact is that I don't want to hear their ignorant bigotry there, or anywhere else. Indeed, I try and plan my pub visits so as to avoid the type of idiots who spout this noxious shit. However, even if this was simply the result of the majority of web-users being evil cretins, it would be depressing enough, but the sad fact is that a not insignificant amount of these comments are apparently co-ordinated by corporations and shady right-wing groups to suppress reasoned debate on some issues and to try and discredit their opponents.

So, what's the upshot of all this disenchantment with the net? Well, for one thing, I intend lowering my 'web presence' in the coming year. Whilst I have no intention of giving up on either this blog or The Sleaze, I do intend ending my half-hearted involvement with various social networking sites. I've never really 'got' social networking, probably because I'm basically anti-social, and these sites seem to be increasingly dominated by the kind of inane commentary I despise elsewhere. The same applies to my participation in web forums and message boards, for the same reasons. I've found increasingly that I'm visiting an ever more limited number of sites in terms of general web-surfing, mainly because of the death of older, decent sites I was interested in, or the fact that they've succumbed to the infection of bigoted idiocy afflicting too much of the web. I don't see this trend being reversed. Indeed, most of my surfing these days seems to be connected with maintaining and improving my own web sites. So there you have it - a really cheerful thousandth post! What else did you expect?

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas in the Lost City of Atlantis

Christmas, it seems, isn't happening at the OK Corral this year. Instead, the Lost City of Atlantis appears to have surfaced just outside of town. At least, that's what the temporary roadsigns are telling me: 'Christmas at the Lost City of Atlantis'. God knows what this entails. Having Christmas dinner underwater amongst the ruins of the fabled lost civilisation, perhaps? Doesn't sound very practical to me - eating Christmas pudding through a snorkel isn't at all appealing. To be honest, I'm just as bemused as to why anyone would want an Atlantis-themed Christmas party, as I was with regard to last year's OK Corral theme. Quite apart from the fact that it has no connection to Christmas - surely the Atlanteans would have been pagans, anyway, they pre-dated Christ, after all - it would hardly be conducive to a party atmosphere. Unless old movies have lied o me, Atlantis is ruled over by telepathic despots who practice human sacrifice and worship giant octopuses. Not to mention the dinosaurs. I don't know about you, but the last thing I want to see as I eat my mince pies is some young virgin being plucked off of a sacrificial altar by the slimy tentacles of some huge and bloodthirsty invertebrate.

Whilst on the subject of inappropriate Christmas celebrations, what about that Iceland advert, eh? You know the one - with all the can-can dancing housewives and Jason Donovan. What's that all about, eh? And why is Jason Donovan wearing stockings and suspenders in the final scene? What especially perplexes me about this development is the fact that up to this point he has clearly been wearing trousers. At no point do we see him remove them, and no explanation for the women's underwear is ever proffered. Taken together with that dodgy moustache he's wearing during the ad makes me wonder if this is some kind of allusion to those rumours that Donovan is gay? You know, the ones from the 1990s that he successfully took legal action over. I never could see why he got so upset about them, even if he wasn't gay - which, obviously, he isn't, this having been established in a court of law - there's nothing actually wrong with being gay. After all, we're all broadminded metrosexuals, even in the 1990s, secure enough in our own sexuality not to care what others think. At least, that's what I told Donovan as I bounced off the bonnet of his car in Trafalgar Square. Actually, that's a bit of an exaggeration - Jason Donovan wasn't actually driving the car which tried to jump the lights at a pedestrian crossing on Trafalgar Square that I was using - he was just in the passenger seat. And I didn't bounce off of the bonnet - I just smacked it with my hand and glared at the driver. But getting back to the point - are the makers of this ad trying to falsely 'out' Jason Donovan (even though he most definitely isn't gay)?

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Blowing Up Johnny and Poking Camilla

Swedish police have confirmed that they now suspect the suicide bomber who detonated a car bomb in Stockholm, before blowing himself up with another device, was protesting at Sweden's continued investigation of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for alleged sex offences. "It is true - the car which exploded had been filled with inflated condoms filled with highly flammable hydrogen gas," Chief Inspector Bjorn Horne told a press conference. "He blew himself up with a similar infernal device - he was carrying several hydrogen-filled condoms disguised as balloons when he exploded." At the centre of the allegations against Assange are claims that he had consensual sex with a woman using a broken condom. "It is clear that this mad bomber person was making some kind of statement about the fragility of condoms," opines Horne. "Perhaps trying to show how easily they can burst. Who knows, though?"

Meanwhile, authorities in the UK have confirmed that Prince Charles' wife Camilla was 'touched' when their car was attacked by protesters in London last week. "It is quite true that she was touched - Prince Charles apparently took advantage of the distraction provided by paint being thrown over the vehicle to feel her up," junior Home Office Minister Roger Rumpoe told the House of Commons. "Obviously, this is in direct contravention of usual Royal protocols, which forbid groping, fondling, pinching or anything else that could be construed as sexual foreplay, in a public place and before nine o'clock in the evening." Indeed, it has been widely rumoured that part of the Prince's marriage contract with Camilla expressly rules out any kind of physical relationship between the two. "She felt that they were both far too old for that sort of thing," claims top Royal expert Hugh Ropley-Tossington. "Camilla is of the firm opinion that sex should only be for procreation, and that a nice cup of tea is a preferable alternative for people of their age." Whilst refusing to confirm the existence of such an agreement, the government were keen to emphasise that, during the recent incident, Camilla most definitely was not poked, with a stick or any other long stiff object, by the Prince, as some reports had claimed.


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Peasants are Revolting

I am, frankly, exhausted. Having spent the earlier part of the week struggling with the triple threat of working late in my 'day job' in order to catch up with the time I lost attending a pointless course last month, battling a persistent cold and shopping for a Christmas present for one of my great nieces, I'm now utterly knackered. Of course, just trying to stay warm for most of this week was exhausting in itself. All in all, I can barely summon sufficient energy to write a proper post. However, there was one bright spot this week which perked me up considerably - namely the latest round of student protests in London. It really is good to see some people in this country finally embracing the idea of 'direct action' to oppose manifestly unfair and oppressive government legislation. In the past, mass protests only seem to have been mobilised when the middle classes feel their wallets threatened - the protests against fuel duty, for instance. It really did seem that you could infringe the great British public's civil liberties with ID cards and surveillance without protest, but make it more expensive to fill up the tanks of their BMWs and four wheel drives, the God help you!

Mind you, critics of the student protests would point out that they're really about the same thing - predominantly middle-class students protesting at the fact that the government's proposals will hit them in the bank account. Whilst there undoubtedly an element of truth in this analysis, unlike the fuel protests, these latest student protests at least have some kind of principle as their basis - the concept of fair access to higher education. And so what if the bulk of the protesters are middle-class? It's about bloody time that they realised that they aren't exempt from the pain inflicted by the dismantling of the public sector instituted by this government. What got all the headlines, obviously, was the attack on Prince Charles' car. Now, whilst I have nothing against Prince Charles, as Royals go, he isn't too bad, and I obviously don't condone violence or the destruction of property, I have to admit that there's a part of me that is very glad that he was targeted. The establishment of which the Prince is part will never properly understand the inequalities that still exist, and that are being exacerbated by this government's policies, and the anger they generate, until they come face-to-face with it. They can't be allowed to think that these protests are an isolated phenomena - part of a world from which they are insulated by their wealth, privilege and power, and which they can afford to ignore. To coin a phrase - 'we're all in this together'.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Off the Ball

In all the recriminations following England's failure to win the right to host the 2018 World Cup, the area which seems to have been least explored by the media, is the culpability of those organising the bid. Which isn't really surprising. After all, it's always easier to blame Johnny Foreigner for being underhand and corrupt, not to mention the BBC for running a documentary saying that those Johnny Foreigners in FIFA were underhand and corrupt, than to accept that our bid might, itself, have been at fault. (Actually, I love the way that many in the FA condemned the BBC's Panorama expose of FIFA prior to the FIFA vote, but that they are now praising the BBC for uncovering it's corrupt nature!) But hey, we might not have won, but we had the best bid, the press and FA keep reminding us - we should be proud of that, at least. Hell, I should bloody well hope that we had the best bid - it cost £18m, for Christ's sake! How the Hell could a bid to host a sporting event have cost that much? Where did the money go? Not into the Swiss bank accounts of FIFA Committee members, apparently. Although, in light of the BBC programme, it would probably have been cheaper simply to buy their votes.

But the cost of the bid highlights the problem - this misguided notion the FA seemed to have that FIFA could be swayed by glossy presentations and, worst of all, 'celebrity' endorsements. Indeed, the nature of the final presentation was probably what finally scuppered it. Who thought that sending a bunch of public school toffs - Prince William, David Cameron and Boris Johnson - was going to sway FIFA? This really was the worst possible image to project - that we're still a class-ridden society where power lies with the wealthy. Particularly bearing in mind that they were trying to convince FIFA to allow England to stage the World Cup of football - supposedly a working man's game. Their presence just served to underline the fact that football in England is increasingly dominated by money, and that ordinary fans are being priced out of the game. I've little doubt that the presence of these toffs just convinced FIFA that our own FA are completely out of touch.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

From Russia, With Cleavage

Well, I for one think that any suggestion that Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock's Russian aide is actually a spy is quite ridiculous. Look, I've seen enough Bond movies to know that female Russian spies all have amusing names like Ivana Legova. They also generally have bigger knockers than this girl, (judging by that photo of her which all the papers have printed), and throttle people with their muscular - but shapely - thighs. Either that, or they look like Rosa Klebb and go around stabbing people with poison-tipped blades concealed in their shoes. Actually, while we're on the subject, why is it that whenever an alleged Russian spy of the female variety is revealed, the press always seem to have pictures of them in their underwear or swimwear, (unless they look like Rosa Klebb, of course)? Why wasn't this story accompanied by a picture of Mile Hancock in his speedos? Presupposing that he has a pair of speedos. Which he might well have. Apparently he's quite fond of those young female Russian aides.

Of course, if I was of a certain turn of mind, I might suspect that the Mike Hancock affair is another one of those 'Convenient Conspiracies'. Think about it - it diverted the UK media's attention from the embarrassing revelations made by Wikileaks for a while, taking some of the heat off of the government, and allowing them to issue a warrant for Julian Assange's arrest while the press was busy looking at that Russian bird's cleavage. Not only that, but it helps to further discredit a Lib Dem MP who is considered a bit of a maverick and a potential loose cannon as far as the coalition government is concerned. Not only does it call into question his judgement for employing her, but it also allows the media to 'legitimately' bring up those allegations from a few months ago that Hancock had sexually harassed a female constituent. Allegations which weren't pursued by the police, incidentally. Then again, it could just be the media desperate for a story on a slow news day...

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Taking a Leak...

If there is one thing that the ongoing furore over Wikileaks has proven to me, it is that the kind of people currently holding positions of responsibility, (in the US, at least), now appear to be of the same mentality as the lunatics who post on web forums and comment on on-line news stories. Which is very, very scary. When I hear elected US representatives calling for Julian Assange to be executed, then I begin to think that one of the idiots who regularly post bile on my local newspaper website have somehow become a US Senator. And trust me, that really isn't a good thing - last week I made the mistake of reading the comments on a news story about how the local authorities had coped with the recent snowfall, apparently the reason there was no chaos this time was because, unlike in January, we now have a Tory government in power! Then we have Sarah Palin opining that Assange should be hunted down by US Special Forces - an 'opinion' I actually did see being expressed by some moron on their blog the other day. Really, it's like the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

I mean, let's just put this whole business in perspective. The fact is that nothing so far 'revealed' in this latest leak has, in any way, put anybody's security at risk. This is simply diplomatic traffic laid bare. Embarrassing, but not really that damaging. Most of the stuff 'revealed' falls into the category of 'No shit, Sherlock?' The most shocking 'revelation' as far as most people are concerned, is likely to be the degree to which policy decisions and diplomacy seems to be based upon little more than gossip and tittle-tattle. The sad reality is that much classified material held by governments is secret simply to conceal what they don't know. Generally speaking, the really classified stuff is kept secret for the opposite reason - the fact that the other side doesn't know that you know it confers an advantage on you, whether that be a diplomatic, economic or military advantage. Most importantly, of course, revealing that we know it could also endanger the sources from which the information was obtained. Believe me, all the stuff released by Wikileaks recently falls into the former category. Whether releasing it can be justified on grounds of 'public interest', I'm not so sure. Nevertheless, even if it can't, that still isn't grounds for demanding someone's assassination!

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

White Hell

You've probably noticed that I haven't mentioned this hellish weather we've been enduring for the past few days. There's a very good reason for this - I believe that we should deny this weather the oxygen of publicity. If we keep on allowing it to dictate the news agenda it will just encourage the bloody stuff, and it will keep on coming back to disrupt our lives. Ignore it, and the snow might just go away. Sadly, the rest of the media still hasn't adopted this stance, and once again, the weather dominates our news media. The trouble is that beyond telling us that it has snowed, (which I can see from looking out of my window), and that this has caused lots of disruption, there really isn't much else that can be said about the situation. But that doesn't stop the news devoting what seems like of hours of coverage to reporters standing in the snow, telling us that it is snowing.

Why can't they learn from the dark days of the trouble in Northern Ireland, when there was a ban on the media directly reporting the words of suspected terrorists and their alleged sympathisers. Instead we got footage of the likes of Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams giving public addresses, whilst their words were read out over it by an actor. They could do something similar with the snow. Whenever they report on it, instead of the reporter's words being accompanied by pictures of blocked roads and closed schools, there should be shots of sunny tropical beaches. Believe me, this Siberian weather would soon think twice about coming here if it didn't get itself pictured all over the news. I mean, it was a really effective tactic against the IRA, wasn't it? Brought them to their knees overnight.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Are You the West Country Stalker?

As 2010 enters the final furlong, I find my thoughts turning to some of the great unanswered questions which have arisen over the past twelve months. Foremost amongst these is the matter of the 'West Country Stalker'. Whilst this sounds as if it might be some kind of Sherlock Holmes mystery, I'm afraid that it is nowhere near as dramatic as anything that Arthur Conan Doyle ever came up with. It all comes down to my web stats. Now, before you click away, thinking 'he's going to bang on about traffic levels again', rest assured, this isn't a another diatribe about Google and its bloody algorithms. However, it does stem from what many might characterise as my obsession with my stats. You see, when you spend as much time as I do analysing visitors, you start to notice patterns in visitor behaviour, and even begin to recognise certain individual visitors by their IP ranges, locations and page viewing patterns. The 'West Country Stalker' is one such visitor.

I first noticed this individual in the Autumn. What drew my attention was the fact that they had a similar browsing pattern to another semi-regular visitor - they looked at the same two pages (the indexes for both the main site and this blog) on most days, presumably checking for updates, and clearly never used bookmarks, as they always came to The Sleaze by searching for it on Google. However, their IP address and server location was unfamiliar. This visitor's location came back variously as in Dorset, Somerset or Devon. (Tiverton has often come up as the location associated with the IP address). Hence my labelling them the 'West Country Stalker'. Now, I have some ideas as to who this person is, (mainly based on the combination of browsing pattern and the fact that they use Tiscali as an ISP) - I certainly know who it isn't. The only people I know in Devon are my Aunt and cousins, none of whom are even aware that I have a web site, and certainly wouldn't be looking at something like The Sleaze, regardless of whether they knew I was behind it or not. As I say, I have my suspicions, but I'm wary of airing them for fear of getting it wrong and causing offence. So, are you the 'West Country Stalker'? Come clean and put me out of my misery.

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