Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Meeting fellow dyspraxics

Last night I went to a social, organised by DANDA, a group which deal with people with autism, aspergers, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and other similar conditions. I hadn't been to such a meeting before, time and circumstance getting in the way, but after work last night I set off to Central London feeling a little bit nervous.
Normally in these kind of stories, people say "I needn't have worried!" but I did feel slightly unsure throughout, although I am very glad I went and plan to go to similar events. It's simply meeting people with a similar condition and I have not knowingly done that before (save one or two individuals in the past), and in turn that has helped make me face up to what I have, and coming out and publicly admitting to having a mild form of dyspraxia in any way after a no of years is tough.
Hopefully however, this will be the start of something good

Monday, February 26, 2007

James Cameron Claims to Have found Jesus Family Tomb

(Getty Images)
Thing is, how can he prove this by DNA, what is that combarable to? And, forgive me, but aren't Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Judah very common names from those times. It's like someone 2,000 years from now claiming to have found John F. Kennedy's grave simply because they have uncovered the name John!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mitchell and Webb's take on the Nazis

(BBC Online)

From their sketch show series. Slightly disturbing, but very funny

Iain Dale Praises the Economy Under Labour

(Iain Dale)
Yes I know, made my jaw drop as well! but this is what he said on his blog this morning:

"No, most people who don't vote tend to take the 'plague on all your houses' approach and are a very difficult group to entice back into the polling booth. It's even more difficult when there is relative economic stability. "

Now you can't give the credit to the Tories on this one, they have been out of power for ten years. So who else but Gordon is responsible for this! Could it be that in a Post-Blair Labour administration we shall see Iain change sides? ;)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXIX:Chris Burgin

Yes it is a bit of nepotism here, as Chris is the brother of yours truly.
Born in Oxford in 1979, Chris lives in Leicester and helps run a bar, following aspirations of going places with a band.His MySpace account is

What made you decide to start blogging?

Boredom in one word, nothing else to do and it seemed easier to get a large audience for a mundane subject

What is your best blogging experience?

Can't think of any

And your worst?


What do you regard as your best blog entry?

MySpace is a different thing really

Favourite blogs?

Yours and

What is the best thing about helping to run a bar?

Always people around and someone to talk to

Have you changed your opinon of Leicester in the last few years?

No, going to the dogs like the rest of the British Isles

You were recently credited in the acknowledgements on an album cover,would you regard yourself as still being involved in the music scene?

Yes I would like to think so in one way or another

Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

Erm, I don't know. The Pyramids in Egypt would do though

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

Hong Kong or Ontario, esp Torronto

Do you have a favourite figure in history?

Marquis De Sade

Which person has been your greatest inspiration?


Favourite Bond movie?


Favourite Doctor Who?

Sylvester McCoy

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

Led Zeppellin

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?


Favourite national newspaper?

The Guardian

What would you say your hobbies were?

Playing and listening to music, socialising

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?


American Gods - Neil Gaiman
American Psycho - Brett Easton Ellis
Feet of Clay - Terry Pratchet


Deftones - Root
Nivarna - Lounge Act
Grandday - AM 180

Blog Satire

Yes it's official, satire of bloggers exists and first up is Cllr Kerron Cross.
Very funny (except perhaps for the bit about Ann Widdecombe). Clearly, if I am to be interviewed alongside Kerron on the Doughty sofa I will have to either a) wear protective clothing, b) find an escape route or c) dive into the melee, state that I am a mate of Kerron's and yes I am happy to sign autographs etc.. ;)
Oh and BTW did you see Wednesday's episode of Party Animals! Jo's husband and Kirsty were so selfish they were almost made for each other! I was almost wishing for Danny to tactlessly enter Scott's room at the end but that would not have been conductive to a good day at the office :(

The Statue

It seems that even in quiet retirement, Baroness Thatcher still attracts attention from both left and right.
In this case the fact that a statue of her has been put up in the members lobby of the House of Commons, thus joining Clement Attlee, Sir Winston Churchill, and David Lloyd George.
Usually the ruling is that no such statue can be put up until the person concerned has been dead for at least ten years, but for some reason an exception was made for Lady Thatcher.
Now I have no problem with a statue of her in the members lobby (considering Lloyd George is there already :( ), but why the change in the rules and why was the same not done for Churchill? After all he was admired and loved by many across the political spectrum, gave inspiring leadership during our darkest hour, was afforded a state funeral...
But C'est la vie.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Two days ago saw the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Tony Crosland.
He is almost forgotten now, but he was one of the brightest and foremost thinkers to the right of the Labour Party. However his advocacy of Kensyian economics (a brilliant philosophy but unhelpful for the long term) came unstuck in the 1970s and his opposition to Healey's IMF proposals were found wanting
A true Social Democrat though, and more attractive as a politican compared to Roy Jenkins (well at least in my view)

Deborah Orr Tells it as it is!

At last, a newspaper columnist who espouses the philosophy which attracts me to the centre ground

In Deborah Orr's column in today's Independent she states:

"Few people seem willing to face the bloody obvious, which is that neo-liberalism and liberalism aren't opposed at all, and that instead the relationship between free economic markets and free personal choices is both intimately dependent and deeply problematic.

"It's ridiculous to suggest that markets should be entirely free, yet that those involved in making and using them can be entirely governed by strongly embedded moral values. Likewise it's just as ridiculous to suggest that if markets were heavily regulated, then morally relativistic people would find themselves inexorably drawn towards good and sensible choices"

You can read it in full here!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXVIII:Andrew Brown

Andrew is the author of Someday I Will Treat You Good

What made you decide to start blogging?

I was a councillor and interested in being more accountable to my electorate. I'd been lurking for a while, and came across Stewart Bruce's blog, so knew there was at least one councillor blog. I figured that I could start it and no one would see what I was up to for a bit and so if it didn't work out I could stop. Little did I realise...

What is your best blogging experience?

There have been a fair few.By and large I blog about my local community, so the good experiences are when what I write creates debate and where the people taking part are prepared to listen to other points of view. When I lost my council seat in May last year a lot of people wrote me very nice emails because they'd been able to see what I'd been doing as a councillor. These weren't all Labour voters, but they'd appreciated the chance to engage with local politics online. It gave me a real sense of the ability of blogs to inform our political culture. And it was very touching on a personal level. It was nice to be the person that got a range of the Lewisham bloggers together in a pub for an evening. I wasn't sure that others would want to put aside political differences, or take off their masks of anonymity, but they did and we had a lovely time.

And your worst?

I think its the negativism and smearing of people in politics that seems to be the bread and butter of some blogs.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I think the ones I'm currently proudest of are the ones where I've done some research. So for instance I'm interested in why sexual health in South East London is such a problem and have done a couple of posts about that. I also did a posts about knife crime and food miles which taught me things I didn't know. But if push comes to shove I'll nominate the post I did about prison.

Favourite blogs?

Paulie at Never Trust a Hippy for his refusal to accept negativism; I'm pleased that British Spin came back to blogging; the two Toms at Let's Be Sensible and Freemania inspire; and to remind me what being a bag carrier was all about I like The Hamers. And Idiots 4 Labour to keep us on the straight and narrow, and to remind us of the shining light.Outside the beltway I've drawn on David Wilcox, Nancy White, Strange Attractor and Content to be Different.Locally I like Lewisham Isn't Great for Everyone, Last Bus Home and Bob, while Max and I have crossed swords and recipes so often now it doesn't bare thinking about.

What inspired you to get involved in politics?

Nothing different from lots of other people I expect. I come from a family that argues about politics, while essentially agreeing most of the time. I joined the Labour Party after university and didn't really realise that I could do that and not be an activist, and I've stayed active because I'm not just interested in armchair politics.

Food and politics, an interesting mix. Is there a link there at all?

No, not really. The food blogging came about because I lost my council seat and found I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands and I choose cooking over trying to learn how to write the code for websites. Having said that, I suppose it does go along with my general attempts to show that people involved in politics aren't as two dimensional as we're sometimes seen as.

What did you most enjoy about being a councillor and would you do it again?

I loved being a councillor. I had 9 years where I learned a huge amount, about how to work with all sorts of different people, how large organisations work (and don't), how to make a speech in public and the sorts of thing that'll get you in the local press. I guess what I liked most was working with people (my fellow politicians, officers and local residents) who knew what they wanted to achieve and had a "can do attitude". That and the corporate parenting role; where I got to know a number of young people who were being looked after by the council. I won't say never about trying to get myself elected again, but probably not for a while. I've got a young family and it's been lovely not having to give up 3 or 4 nights a week and every other weekend.

Is there anywhere abroad, which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

South America seems like a big place and I've not been there, but the people I know who've seen bits of it say what they've seen is fabulous.

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

Oh lots and lots. But in particular I'd love to be able to go back to Pakistan where I had a long walking holiday in the Hindu Kush which was incredible.

Who, excluding the present leader and Prime Minister, do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?

I've got a lot of respect for James Callaghan, but best British Prime Minister, I don't know.

Which person has been your greatest inspiration?

My mum and dad are a touchstone for me. But in public life I am/was privileged to know Llin and John Golding who taught me a lot about public service.

Favourite Bond movie?

Not all that bothered about Bond.

Favourite Doctor Who?

I'm enjoying David Tennant.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

Oh, that's tough. Maybe you can choose anything from: The Saints, in 1976; Television in the late '70s; Neil Young at any time but in particular during the Weld tour; Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson; Dexy's Midnight Runners before they went Celtic; Otis Reading at any point; or Bettye Swann in the late '60s.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

Barsby looks nice.

Favourite national newspaper?

I've stopped buying them and while I read most that do websites for work I can't say I have a favourite. They all irritate me for one reason or another.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Can't say I've got any, unless the cooking counts.

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books(Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Songs: Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (Fairport Convention); Silver Rocket (Sonic Youth); (My Heart Is) Closed For The Season (Bettye Swann) Books: A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry); Gravity's Rainbow (Thomas Pinchon); Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson).

The Nigerian Problem

This is certainly rather depressing, but for anyone who does not consider themselves homophobic but is against homosexual practice and feels that Peter Akinola is a martyr. The following should be considered:

Do you support the regime in Zimbabwe, because it looks like Peter Akinola does.

Okay, I might seem a bit nasty here, but put simply, even at my most sympathetic, I think that there is something a bit Biblically inconsistent and Pharisseecial going on here!

Bullingdon Drummond

If there was one group of Tories who were loathed by the opposition in the 1980s, it was the Youth Wing of the Conservative Party.
Why? Well the "Hang Nelson Mandela" badges that some of the Federation of Conservative Students wore didn't help. Nor did the pouring champange over each others heads on election night, nor local young activists deciding to hold an impromptu party outside the Battersea Labour HQ on general election night in June 1987 after Alf Dubbs lost his seat (deliberatley rubbing salt into the wounds), as mentioned in John O'Farrell's political memoir. All the kinds of things that are guaranteed to irritate.
It still continues today of course, for example Otis Ferry and his merry chums storming the Commons Chamber during a session and guarenteeing apologist comments that would have been lacking if Labour activists did it during the miners strike, but in the eighties there were a particular breed who thought that they were straight out of Brideshead Revisited.
Notorious among the upper set was the Bullingdon Club. That group of young Tories who wrecked resturants like a gang of sophisticated hoddies and had Mother and Father pay for the damage and hush things up (not a situation your average asbo collector has to help him or her).
Many of these young Turks are now more well behaved middle aged men, albeit rather embarrased and finding that their past has come back to haunt them. As they regret their past and are sorry, a veil should be drawn over their misspent youth.
But this doesn't take into account the following, according to yesterday's Evening Standard Londoner Diary, Bullingdoner James Delingpole has had to face this sceneario:

"...had hoped to write for The Sunday Times about his new book, How to be Right, the Essential Guide to Making Lefty Liberals History, in which he says his old friend Dave is not Right-wing enough to lead the Conservative Party.
But the paper's editor John Witherow and section editor Eleanor Mills were more interested in the drugs story. 'I told them I loathe this sort of thing and they became very angry,' says Delingpole, who wrote a piece about Oxford Bullingdon Club for the current Spectator. 'Eleanor then sent me an email saying John Witherow would not accept any more articles from me..."

Well I doubt in any case that Delingpole'sbooks will sell that much, but it goes to show that if you are involved in that sort of thing in your misspent youth to be very careful. The sins of the Young Conservatives will come back to haunt you, yea even into the Third and Fourth decade.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Labour Deputy leadership. Who has blogger support

Courtesy of Paul Linford :

Hilary Benn

Paul Burgin
Mike Ion

Hazel Blears

Luke Akehurst

Jon Cruddas

Bob Piper
Kerron Cross
Will Parbury
Antonia Bance
The Daily
Newer Labour

Peter Hain


Alan Johnson

Stuart Bruce

Paul then adds:

I couldn't find any blogger who has come out in favour of Harriet Harman. When I first posted this I had thought Recess Monkey was planning to back her but I have since been corrected on this point (see comments.) Sitting on the fence, but leaning towards either Benn, Blears or Johnson, is British Spin, while Tom Watson appears to be flirting with either Johnson or Cruddas.

Incidentally Alex Hilton runs Hilary Benn's blog so there is another blogger who has nailed their colours to the mast.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Potential Doctor Who Spoiler

(BBC Online)
He may not be the last Time-Lord after all (see here if you want to know more, under "Tabloid Press").

Put simply there are a no of rumours about who will appear in the finale and it all points towards that statement.

Teenage Assassins

I am almost lost for words about the events of the past week, apart from the following:

1) We need to toughen the sentences on teenagers with handguns

2) The whole issue is widespread and has it's roots in a variety of areas. To tackle this goes beyong party politics

3) I don't agree with David Cameron. Britain is not a broken society. Scratched, bruised, knocked about a bit, but definetly not broken. If we were we wouldn't be shocked at what has happened. Still I've got to take my hat off to him for being a genius at finding quick and ready solutions to the problem (that is not to say that whilst in some cases he has correctly identified some of the problems, it is not as simple as he has made out and I have the horrible feeling that he is turning this issue into a political football)

Honour and Abuse

The opening paragraph in an article in today's Guardian made me smile:

"A few decades ago any parking valet would have considered it an honour to be punched by the legendary Omar Sharif, but we live in coarser times, and this week the elegant Egyptian actor entered a plea of no contest (a more refined form of guilty) to misdemeanour battery over an incident in 2005."

I just love it when humour and snobbery mix, it reminded me of the bit in Monty Python's Life of Brian when Brian comes across Ben the Prisoner, who would love to be slapped around the face. The thing is, in this day and age the deference has just gone. For example, in another age the Jury at Archer's perjury trial would have let him off simply because he was a fantastic author, a former prominent Conservative, and it would be one in the eye for the red tops.
Er hang on...
But times have changed, and coarse they may well be, but more decent nonetheless
If that isn't a contradiction in terms.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Football Trains

Is this a good idea nationally for the Premiership season?

Given this

Apologies for my blog style being below par, but at the moment I can't do proper links on this computer or photos etc.. My brother is coming down this weekend so will consult with him!

Hepatitis and how little we know

I was shocked and saddened to hear on the news the other day that Dame Anita Roddick has been diagnosed with Hepatitis C.
It just goes to show how little we know about it when part of the shock is that she has had it since 1971 (via a blood transfusion) and was only diagnosed two years ago. She now has cirrhosis of the liver.
A lot of people out there think of Russell Harty when they read about the illness, although he was not the only well known person to have had hepatitis. Brian May and, tragically, Matthew Garber (the boy in the Mary Poppins film) also had the disease. In both cases they were diagnosed some time after contracting hepatitis.
The illness can be transmitted through blood transfusion, contaminated food, sexual contact, and (in some unique cases) alcoholism. Hopefully this latest news will help encourage awareness of an awful and sometimes fatal disease.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Comment Moderation

Only temporary, but whilst I sort my blog out

UPDATE: It's actually my computer at home. For some reason it is taking a while to download pics and the like. I have run a few virus checks and apparently the computer is clean, so maybe it's age. Anyway will try and deal with the situation.

St Valentine's Day

This is what I wrote last year and in one sense it still applies, so whilst today is nice in having recevied a card from S and vice versa etc.. I am aware that today is a miserable day for some and that some of those who aren't miserable but single feel slightly shut out, so a platonic St Valentine's Day to you all with handshakes, hugs, and chaste kisses ;)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

While Kerron's Away...

(Recess Monkey)
Recess Monkey plays . Actually it's Kerron's satchel which connects him with Danny, but maybe this is another thing the guys from Party Animals spotted that they added to the character of Danny .

And as for this. Well what can I say! Fame brings all kinds of attention.

Life On Mars Series Two

(BBC Online)
Back with a cracking bang. The whole thing gets more bizzare and curious with the phone calls to Sam Tyler from"Hyde" tho..

I shall say no more.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Blog Wars

They are horrible, ugly, above all insular, and as my Mum tended to say when I was little and I got into arguments with my sibings "If you are not careful it will end in tears!" (See here, here, and here)

Personally, at the risk of being flippant during an inappropriate moment (apologies in advance therefore), I would have thought that simply being a Young Conservative in the 1980's was enough of a slur, esp simply being a member of the FCS, but C'est la vie!

I agree with Iain Dale that this has to stop. One only has to see the blogosphere in the US to know how nasty and unpleasant this can be in a way which diminishes everyone involved. As Paul Linford has stated, there has been enough nastiness flying around from a few on both sides. In any case, I would far rather get angry with the Daily Mail for their mentioning a member of Blair's family in today's edition of their paper.

I have been around party politics long enough to know how some people have a dislike of some forms of ideology and it's representatives that borders on the pathological. The problem is when all that anger explodes and is aimed towards individuals. Two rules to remember in blogging however. 1) If you write under a pseudonym and your blog is popular, beware, because some people will be out to expose you and it will be relatively easy to do so and 2) If you throw mud and accusations around, be sure that you will p*** off enough people to start to do the same thing towards you. This is not directed at Guido as such, but rather any aspiring blogger, esp in the field of politics.

David Cameron Blues

I was wondering whether to blog on this, but then I decided I ought to really, as this says something about the seedier aspects of our current political and media climate.
You see it would be easy for me to blog about Cameron's less than savoury past, make a few cheap jibes, fuel some old prejudices, and have a sense of Phariseeic superiority, but that would be too easy. David Cameron has said that he has a past he regrets and that it is in the past and is private, and as far as I am concerned if he is genuinely sorry that is the end of the matter.
I would far rather question his time as a special adviser to Norman Lamont, the possibility as to whether the Conservatives are fit for office, and their apparent love of media hype over policy, those are skeletons in the closet that should be taken advantage, and are being taken advantage of by Labour. Perhaps the media should focus on that instead!

BAFTA's Update

Well my hopes were somewhat dashed last night, although my hopes for the winners of Best Film and Best British Film were the wrong way around and I did get it right for Best Animated Feature. Still these were preferences not predictions.
But there were some good wins last night so it wasn't all bad.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

New Link

There is a new group within the CSM called CSM Renewal , which is somewhat timely given the decline in membership and the awful decision to have links with Nestle some months back. And with the CSM elections coming up, some of us feel it is time for renewal.

They have a list of candidates up for election this year, and they are:

For Chair:Rt Hon Alun Michael MP (currently CSM Patron)

For Vice Chair (2 positions)Helen Dennis (currently CSM Exec)Kerron Cross (currently CSM Exec)

For Publications Officer Sophie Harding (currently CSM Publications Officer)

For Treasurer Chris Ostrowski

For Ordinary Member of Executive (5 positions)James Walters, Angela Cheyne, Jonathan Cox (currently CSM Exec), Fred Grindrod (currently CSM Exec), Gareth Gould

For Eastern Region National Regional Represenvetative Allan Davies (Secretary of CSM Essex)

For London Region National Regional Representative Matthew Rhodes

For East Midlands Region National Regional Representative Richard Robinson

Over candidates who are standing in the CSM elections can be found here.
The only organisation affiliated with the Labour Party that I am a member of is the CSM and it is one of which I am proud to be a member. If the concerns CSM Renewal have are met, then it will be an organisation I will have increased respect for.

Who I Want to see win tonight's BAFTA's

Let's see how accurate this is tomorrow morning. For more see here:

Best film

The Last King of Scotland

Best British film

The Queen/Casino Royale

Best actor in a leading role

Daniel Craig - Casino Royale

Best actress in a leading role

Dame Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal

Best actor in a supporting role

Leslie Phillips - Venus

Best actress in a supporting role

Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada

Original screenplay

Paul Greengrass - United 93

Adapted screenplay

Neal Purvis/Robert Wade/Paul Haggis - Casino Royale

The David Lean Award for achievement in direction

Stephen Frears - The Queen

Animated feature film

Happy Feet

The Anthony Asquith Award for achievement in film music

David Arnold - Casino Royale


Casino Royale

Some hard decisions there, so I won't be too disapointed if this is wide off the mark.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ian Richardson 1934-2007

(BBC Online)

One of the best actors of his generation, Richardson became famous in the early 1990's with his portrayal of the corrupt and yet charismatic Francis Urquart in the political drama House of Cards, who, through smearing, skullduggery and even murder, manages to become Prime Minister after being Thatcher's Chief Whip.

He also had one of the best voices in his profession. A mixture of silkiness and sharpness, which stood him in good stead and like other actors renowned for their voice (Christopher Lee, Ian McDiarmid and Valentine Dyall ) was usually cast as villains or authority figures.

Much missed, although I did like the comment his agent made yesterday, whilst still reeling from the shock "He had been due to begin filming an episode of ITV's Midsomer Murders next week"

Now that would have been an interesting guest spot.

Friday, February 09, 2007


(BBC Online)
Seeing as I am planning on voting for Hilary Benn in the forthcoming Deputy leadership contest, I have added his blog to the sidebar

Act of Union

It's a little known fact but this year sees the 200th anniversary of the Act of Union, when England and Scotland essentially merged as a nation.

We already shared the same head of state (since 1603), but this was when we finally persuaded the Scottish Parliament to abolish itself and send representation to Westminster.

This is an issues which brings forward a variety of strong opinions, not least my own. Mine are mixed. I think it was important to strenghten the constitutional ties between these two nations, but at the same time (and speaking as one who is of Scottish descent on my Mother's side) I have always believed in Scotland having a certain degree of autonomy, such as the Scottish Parliament.

Of course, now the Scots have their Parliament, they have the upper hand in the UK Parliament, as they can vote on matters such as English education but the English cannot do likewise because the latter is a matter for the Scottish Parliament and rightfully so.

Perhaps this is the time to renew calls for an English Parliament (with representation at Westminster) which would help strenghten the Union, whilst at the same time giving England and Scotland it's distinctive and independent voices.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Party Animals - Review

(BBC Online)
Watched episode 2 last night.
My thoughts?
Well it's well written, but a bit soap opera like, relying mainly on stereotypes. As for Danny being like Kerron, well I saw some similarities, but I haven't known Kerron to be tactless or as silly as Danny can be. If anything Danny reminds me of me in my early twenties (bar leaving the trainers on the window sill.
I did enjoy it though, although I can't identify with much of it bar Scott greiving over the sudden death of his friend and his reluctance to clear out the said friends room (I never had to do that, but found it very difficult removing Simon, and then Tammy's name and address in my phone book and mobile).
The arguments on policy are also good and the way Jo dealt with a hardline muslim campaigner was inspiring, although I would have taken care to show some empathy with his anger and suggest other ways of making their point.
And the love lives?
Well I can't say I approve of adultery, but I do like all the characters and hope Scott and Ashika end up together. The same goes for Danny and Kirsty ;)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Speed Cameras and Mike Penning

Thanks to Freemania for this post.
Which part of this do right-wing Tories fail to understand? Accidents happen on the roads, sometimes through irresponsible driving, sometimes through drunkenness, sometimes through road rage and the like. Now the reason speed cameras are there is because one person's selfishness on the road can lead to another person's death, but hey let's not spoil the said driver's liberty.
But then perhaps Mike Penning has a point, although I doubt he would explain it to the families of those who have been killed by people speeding on the motorway! Incidentally it was a bit of a bad time to mention such viewpoints.

Bloggers In An Alternative Universe Part I (Or A Bit of Fun)


It was late at night and Iain Dale walked to his car after another evening hosting the Internet radio talk station Westminster Tales (accused by many of being pro-Labour in spite of some of the people involved being Tories). He had a hard time of it tonight, defending the govt over it's current record and just hoping that Brown would soon be PM. One blogger, known as Guido, was busy trying to attack the Conservatives hypocricy over the years on the Cash for Honours, and to cap it all some guests objected to the recent comments made by that Arch Conservative and Countryside Alliance apologist, Kerron Cross.
Earlier that evening, the moderator of Cally's Kitchen was in Westminster Abbey, musing over the recent pronouncements of the Archbishop of York. For fellow anglicans such as himself, there was hope yet for the Church of England.
In Brighton, the Rev Neil Harding was closing his church that night after a late PCC meeting. He was fed up of attempts to curtail his ideas for evangelising the nearby block of streets and plans to lauch a new social welfare crusade. He was looking forward to blogging about it and perhaps get some moral support from that administrator from the "Ship of Fools" website, Andrew West.
In Oxford, right wing libertarians, Jo Salmon and Antonia Bance were watching another episode of The West Wing on DVD. Antonia had just been to another council meeting where they were discussing new ways of dealing with the local trade unions and other such groups.

As for Paul Linford, he was on his laptop, busy preparing the final draft of his contribution to The Little Blue Book of Tory Sleaze.

And in London, SWP member Tim Roll-Pickering was busy writing up a blog post on why banners on demonstartions should be three inches higher than the average size, as well as preparing a review on the latest Star Trek DVD release.
As for Paul Burgin of Mars Hill?
Well that would be telling ;)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Dangers of the Internet

Via Tygerland. It's in German but some messages easily transcend languages. Funny in parts and creepy in others

Monday, February 05, 2007

Fiona Jones

(BBC Online)
I was saddened and rather surprised to hear of her death recently, especially the circumstances.
I vaguely remember the case where she was on the receving end of an investigation into election expenses. She was aquitted, but the damage had been done and Fiona lost her seat at the 2001 general election, adding to the cruel maxim of the electorate; " If you are suspected you must be guilty!"
And already a political football is made of her death, suggested by some as a comparison to the current problems facing the PM over cash for peerages allegations, and by others as the cruelty of what happens when your team are not there for you when the chips are down, for fear of being on the receving end of harsh judgement by our enemies.
As far as I am concerned however, we are all to blame, and I do not mean that in a blase way, or as a metaphor, or as a way of trying to ease any guilt. Those of us who are in the Labour Party should have been there for her, helped her at the very least once she was aquitted, but there was the fear of being attacked by our opponents. The opposition are to blame for not sufficently realising that in these allegations there are real human beings among their opponents, who are flesh and blood, who are vulnerable, and who need consideration rather than condemnation. A favourite story of mine is about a Democrat politician, one of Nixon's most virulent opponents during Watergate, who a year after the disgraced President's resignation, visited him at his home when many were too embarrased to be seen with him and the only people who usually visited were journalists coming to gloat and hopefully get some more flesh.
The politician was asked why, when he attacked Nixon (and rightly so), did he deign to make a social call, he replied "Because he needs to know that someone loves him!"
Now that may be a bit twee for some of you, but this political opponent knew that deep down Nixon was a human being. One who had fallen into corruption, one who held grudges, but a human and one who was suffering distress and perhaps a degree of guilt. I would like to think that I would have the guts to do that and it is a pity many of us don't.
As for the "drinking culture" around Westminster. It does exist and I have seen a tiny bit of it first hand (Strangers Bar, after the 10:30 vote on a Monday evening where a no of Whips from all sides were a little bit happy), but at the same time many Westminster politicians and staff are sober and responsible people and perhaps the problem with Westminster is that, like any Democratic legislature, it reflects the nation at large so we see not only humanity at it's best, but also at it's most painful and failible. Perhaps when we judge such incidents and find wanting, we should condemn a little less and show a bit more humanity

New Blogger System

Finally capitulated and started on the new blogger system today, so apologies for any inconvenience

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Beautiful South

Read on Kerron's blog that they have split up :(
Am not a major fan of theirs but I do like their music, so I am a bit saddened by this, although given their recent lack of chart success I can see why they have knocked it on the head!
Maybe they need A Little Time!

Interview with Hilary Benn

Labour blogger Mike Ion, interviewing the Secretary for International Development and, hopefully, the next Deputy leader of the Labour Party, Hilary Benn.
You can also find this interview on LabourHome

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Trailer for the new Harry Potter film

Hat tip to WongaBlog

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXVII:Jonathan Jennings

Jonathan Jennings lives in Upper Brynamman, Carmarthenshire. He is a voluntary worker for Tenovus in Ammanford and works as a copywriter for Conservative Future's website. He is also a blood relative of film actor Michael York. His blog can be found here.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I decide to blog after reading Jo’s Journal. Although I do not agree with her politics, I was impressed with the production values of her site. This inspired me to create a Conservative equivalent, but it is only very recently that the presentation of my own domain has started to live up to my original vision. Even now though, the visual quality still falls short of the gold standard set by Jo’s work and I think the same shortcomings apply to all Tory blogs.

I got the name for my blog from former WWE superstar Ultimate Warrior’s eBay username!

What is your best blogging experience?

Although it is not strictly a blogging experience (I did though post the piece in question on my blog), I was delighted when Conservative Future published my article “Here Wii Go!” as its website’s headline feature.

And your worst?

I can honest say that I have always enjoyed my time blogging. Some times have been better than others have, but I have never had an experience while blogging that I would consider my “worst”. Blogging has a therapeutic effect on me as it has kept me sane!

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

It has to be “Here Wii Go!” I wrote it at the right time, on the right themes and in the right style. It made a favourable impact on the right people.

Some (apolitical) individuals commented to me that they did not like it because it made Nintendo’s Wii console seem a middle-of-the-road item, instead of a cutting-edge piece of innovation. Yet, I regard this complaint as my article’s greatest strength, as I wrote it with the aim to appeal to gaming novices. I had to make it seem safe for my fellow Tories and non-gamers alike to try out, considering all the lurid scare stories about videogames in the mainstream media. If I had written it to appeal to the gaming community, I would have used a different style of writing.

Favourite blogs?

My favourite blog is Jo’s Journal for it’s production values, comic relief and because it does raise some interesting talking points that are ripe for some serious debate. However, the site has not evolved as much as it should have and it is in danger of beginning to stagnate. In spite of this development, Jo is still light-years ahead of every other political blogger on the planet in what service her domain provides readers.

My other favourites are Iain Dale’s Diary, Istanbul Tory, Mars Hill, Man in a Shed, Oliver Kamm, Theo Spark, A Very British Dude and Shotgun’s swearblog. Prague Tory’s blog also gets better with every passing day. Serf’s Road to EU Serfdom provides a valuable public service, but is very depressing to read because of the situation it is chronicling. The Devil’s Kitchen is very entertaining, but is a pig to load on-screen and Richard Lewis Communications is wonderful to read but rarely updated.

What inspired you to get involved in politics?

I suppose it is down to wanting to take control of my own life and not have decisions that affect me made by others without my input and consent. That and egotism!

I also in despair at both the incompetence and malevolence of our political representatives, whilst believing that I could do a better job than they can. Perhaps I can, but keep me out of 10 Downing Street, as this country would probably be at war with half the United Nations (laughs)!

Jo Salmon likened your behaviour to that of a guest of a house who is rude and insulting to it's owners. Do you ever feel you go too far in your language or attitude and do you feel that you might go further with people if you were more conciliatory?

Jo Salmon is a fine one to talk about rudeness considering the way she has treated some people by bullying and intimidating them at times. I also believe that Jo twists her arguments to fit whatever shape suits her at any given moment. Nothing personal, I am just telling it as it!

Political blogs are not an online extension of a person’s home, they are campaign tools designed with the aim of winning over hearts and minds to a particularly view. When you operate a political blog, particularly one with a comments section, you are going to be asked some tough, even hostile questions from both your readers and your political opponents. If you cannot handle that kind of fire, then you had better stay out of the blogging kitchen and politics altogether, because that is just how life, political life and real life works.

Let me tell you something Mr. Burgin. At my first university (which is incidentally how I personally became acquainted with Ms. Salmon), for the first two years I went out of way to be conciliatory to people. Even when I knew that I was in the right and others were in the wrong, I would always make the first move and reach out with the hand of reconciliation. What I did I get for my efforts? Nothing but grief from other less conscientious and unscrupulous individuals who took great pleasure in trying (and failing) to ruin my good reputation. After that experience, I no longer have any patience for patronising and insincere niceties.

I have always been very intense about everything in my life. I have a short attention span and I am always in a hurry to get on with life, so much so that I find it very hard to switch myself off at night (as Jo can testify to) because I suffer from life-long insomnia. For me, I have always had the philosophy that attack is the best form of defence because in the battle for hearts and minds, people are not going to rally behind the timid and the do not knows. There are times even now where I would like to be conciliatory, but I realise that this approach more often than not causes more problems than it solves. This is more so when you come against powerful heavyweight personalities such as Jo Salmon, George Galloway, Gordon Brown and John Reid who will not hesitate to skin you alive on a point of argument given half-a-chance.

George Galloway encounter. What happened there?

Where do I begin?

It happened when he was invited to speak at student society’s meeting when I was a postgraduate at Swansea. I wanted to humble him and deflate his swelling ego after his propaganda triumph in Washington D.C. a short time earlier. I do not like the way he treats people and threatens them with legal action just for telling the truth about him and his activities. Let us just say I caught him off-guard with my attacks on him, called his legal bluff before he had a chance to use it and broke his spell over the 300-strong crowd. The details are covered in most of my early blog posts.

To be fair to Galloway, although he gave me a look like that suggested he wanted to repeatedly stab me with a dagger, and threw a few rather pathetic insults at me, such as “Rumpole”, he took his medicine like a man. I respect Galloway’s abilities as an orator and political performer, but he has used his talents for ill rather than good. I also was not intimidated by the man as during my life, I have had to face and stand up to some of the toughest, meanest and most formidable individuals around. If I had the guts and moral authority to stand up to my first university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor by comparing to Hermann Goring to his face, then there was no way George Galloway was going to frighten me.

Is there anywhere abroad that you have not been to, that you would like to visit?

Auschwitz, Canada, Israel, the United States, heaven (laughs)!

The two countries that I would like to visit the most are Japan and North Korea. I would love to visit Japan to experience its cultural heritage, visit the Tokyo Nippon Budokan to watch Pro-Wrestling NOAH’s live events and purchase some rare and uncommon videogame consoles and titles. I would really like to enrol on the JET programme and when I can afford it, I need to get a passport. I am often told that I should become a teacher, but it just does not appeal to me. It was hard enough going through the school system as a pupil and I have no desire to go back to it as a teacher, particularly as the children now wield more power in the classroom than staff. Things are different though Japan, because the children there are polite and respectful towards their elders. More importantly, these children actually want to learn and value their education.

As a historian, would-be politician and connoisseur of eccentricity, I very interested about North Korea and it’s communist regime. I suppose this interest can be put down to curiosity more than anything else.

I don’t suppose you could have a word with Iain Dale about my becoming a far-eastern correspondent for 18 Doughty Street? (Laughs)

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

I have only ever visited one foreign nation in my life (what an insular person I am – I have not even visit Scotland and Ulster). I have no desire to revisit Saudi Arabia given the current security situation both within the kingdom and the wider region.

If I was to return to the kingdom and I was captured by an Al-Qaeda terrorist cell, I would never give them the satisfaction of spouting their propaganda on a videotape to the West in exchange for my life. They are going to kill me anyway, so I would rather die for what I believe in as a martyr for Christ and liberty.

Who, excluding the present leader, do you regard as the best Conservative Party leader, and if different, the best Prime Minister?

The Blessed Margaret Thatcher!

With all due respect to Sir Winston Churchill, the Blessed Margaret was the better politician, the better political leader and the better human being as well since Churchill was gassing Iraqi Kurds long before Saddam Hussein was born.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

This may come as a bit of a shock, but it is Sir John Major. While I was on a visit to Saudi Arabia, I had the opportunity to play Sim City 2000 on my now-estranged father’s personal computer. Playing it helped me to appreciate better how difficult it is to run a small city, let alone a nation. I find it astonishing that despite his later-disclosed character flaws, just how ungrateful British public and political opinion across the ideological spectrum has been to Major’s efforts and achievements. He spent eight years of his political career cleaning up the economic mess made by Nigel Lawson, and instead of being remembered as the man that conquered original stealth tax of high inflation and handing over an economy to Gordon Brown that had already enjoyed five years of continually-improving prosperity, what is he actually remembered most for?

Sleaze, or to be more exact, the personal and political misconduct of those on the outer rim of public office. True, there were what proved to be temporary and in hindsight rather minor blips such as Black Wednesday, the usual u-turns that almost all governments perform over unpopular policies and the lingering aftermath of the Blessed Margaret’s fall from office and the legacy of her political dominance. Major inherited an impossible situation, yet when you consider that he won a general election that nearly everyone thought he was going to lose and got the country back into economic shape despite the myriad of problems that plagued him almost non-stop, he was a bloody miracle worker.

Forgot the headlines, the adverse media coverage and the public mood. Look at his promises and what he accomplished. If you do, I think you will find that the record of his second government (1992 to 1997) is one of the very finest in British political history.

Going back to the issue of sleaze, I mentioned that it tended to occur on the outer rim of public office during Major’s premiership. Compare that scandal, to the political and personal sleaze stories about New Labour during the past decade. New Labour is rotten to the core, from Blair downwards. The scale of Blair and New Labour’s corruption puts even Richard Nixon to shame.

Favourite Bond movie?

A bit of a tough question, but I would have to go with The Living Daylights.

Favourite Doctor Who?

Another tough question. I would have to say David Tennant.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

I take it that you are talking about ice cream. I not really into eating ice cream. My favourite ice cream is a Walls Strawberry Cornetto, but if I had to choose between chocolate, vanilla or mint, it would have to be chocolate.

Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

I am not really into music, but I would most like to see Fuel. I would also like to see Fozzy again.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics...?


Favourite national newspaper?

I do not really have a favourite national newspaper, but do enjoy reading The Independent just to see what outrageous things columnist Johann Hari writes each time.

What would you say your hobbies were?

I am a very boring person, maybe the most boring one on the blogosphere. I like to read, to write, going on long walks, collecting things like books and videogames. I also like to take part in pub quizzes (though I never, ever drink alcohol); watch feature films and professional wrestling and playing videogames.

In addition, what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

My three favourite songs are “Won’t Back Down” by Fuel, “Headstrong” by Trapt and “Same Old Song” by Pain.
My three favourite books are all autobiographies; “Growing Pains” by Billie Piper, “It’s True! It’s True!” by Kurt Angle and “I’m Next” by Bill Goldberg.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Mars Hill Blog Stats (Jan 2007)

This is not exactly an accurate picture for January. Tracksy went down and after a while I signed up with Statcounter, so the information here only points to mid January onwards. Plus there are some minor changes in how I review the stats as a result.
I now tend to get well over 100 visitors per day and it is not uncommon for that figure to go over 200, which is a bit of a shock. On Tuesday I received 295 visitors, but I think that is mainly as a result of being on Blogger TV on 18 Doughty Street the previous evening.

Top Ten Cities listed (from where people visit Mars Hill)

London, Northampton, Luton, Prague, New York, Canberra, Seattle, Grass Valley, Leipzig, Swindon

Top Ten Countries listed (In order of most visits to my blog)

United Kingdom

United States

Czech Republic








For those who have started reading my blog in the last month, or who have returned after an absense, a warm welcome to you all!

Top Ten Blog/Web Visitors

1) Kerron Cross - The Voice of the Delectable Left (+1)

2) Bloggers4Labour (-1)

3) (NEW)

4) Iain Dale (+3)

5) Cally's Kitchen (-2)

6) Prague Tory (-1)

7) Freemania (+4)

8) Paul Linford (+6)

9) My (-1)

10) Jo Salmon (NEW)

Out of the Top Ten are Fisking Central, Ellee Seymour, A Liberal Goes a Long Way, and Rullsenberg Rules

New Life On Mars

First trailer of the forthcoming second series (done as a take on Camberwick Green). Apparently this will be the last one, so it will be interesting to see how Sam Tyler's predicament resolves itself and whether he actually is in a coma, or is mad, or has travelled back in time to 1973!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bloggers4Labour Meetup Part II

Well I owed you guys a bit more of a post on this. Like last year it was held at the Lord Moon of the Mall, and like last year I got accosted, albeit in a friendly manner, by Neil Harding, who wanted to know my views on one or two contentious subjects involving the church (One of these days I am going have nightmares where I am some prisoner undergoing interrogation by a German officer who looks like Neil ;-) ). Not only that, but as with last year Kerron was silent when I got pounced on in this fashion, although it was because this time he wasn't present.

But that said, Councillor Kris Brown, Jon Worth (along with his Swedish girlfriend), Will Parbury, and others.
Was great fun and good to put some faces to blogs again. We ought to do this more often and Andrew and I are talking about a B4L social in Oxford. That needs possible discussion with the likes of Jo and Antonia though and I keep remembering when I am away from a computer (until now), so now I have mentioned it here, it will give me the incentive to get something done

Top Ten Postwar Prime Ministers

As I have promised, following Paul Linford's list:

Clement Attlee

Brought forward a radical agenda which included the formation of the NHS.

Harold Wilson

Did not bring us into Vietnam, in spite of pressure from the Johnson administration, founded the Open University, kept things together during the EEC Referendum, and managed to keep the country together after devaluation, although he should have devalued just after the 1966 election.

Harold Macmillan

A stout believer in Kensyan orthodoxy (when it worked) and a firm European and Atlanticist

James Callaghan

Didn't panic once during the IMF crisis and sided with Denis Healey, as opposed to Tony Crossland.

Tony Blair

Low unemployment, national minimum wage, New Deal. Labour since 1997 has presided over them all, although it's best for a proper assesment on Blair after he has left office.

Sir Alec Douglas Home

Nice guy, perhaps the nicest in No 10, but he was only there for 363 days. Scrapped Retail Price Maintenance.

Edward Heath

I am no Federalist, but I agree with Britian joining the EEC and Heath should be congratulated on that. He also realised, albeit too late, the damage an unfettered free market can do, although he brought no real alternatives from the centre, which was what was needed.

John Major

Perhaps he would have been a far better PM in a different time, but he tried to marry Thatcherism with corporate interventionism, as well as not reacting swiftly over Black Wednesday and for that he suffered

Margaret Thatcher

Aside from her dictatorial manner and regarding three million unemployed as a price worth paying, she did redeem her incompetence over the Falklands invasion (although the sinking of the Belgrano was perhaps unessesary) and stood up to the likes of Scargill, although more should have been done to help the coal industry

Sir Winston Churchill

A good consensious PM, but in ill health and past his best. If 1940-1945 counts I would put him at No 1.

More on gays and adoption

Check out Jonathan Chilvers thoughtful and incisive post, which does a better job than I did at trying to get to the root of the arguments.

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXVI: Aaron Heath

(Aaron Heath)
Aaron Heath was born in Nottinghamshire in 1978 into a mining family. Aaron majored in English Literature at Sunderland University, and since graduation has worked in a variety of roles in the food industry, including Production Management, and more recently, finance. Having lived and worked in Tring (Hertfordshire) for a couple of years, Aaron returned to the Midlands four years ago. He is currently employed as a Project Accountant for a large food company.

Aaron lives with his fiancé Olga, and their son Danilo in Newark, Notts. They are expecting their second child in June.

Formerly a Labour Party member, leaving over his opposition to the Iraq War, Aaron writes the Labour-leaning (but decidedly critical) blog, as well as struggling with his first novel.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I have always been interested in politics, and like I assume, so many other bloggers, there was rarely anyone I knew who cared at all about politics. I would read the newspapers, become suitably outraged, and have nowhere to vent my spleen. Then one day while surfing the net I came across some politics forums. I spent around 6-months arguing in these forums before I decided that, rather than give my time to someone else’s site, I could set up a blog and rant on my own site – hence, which is now in its third manifestation.

What is your best blogging experience?

Like many other bloggers I would say that my best experience has been making friends with other bloggers, both on the left and right. However I can see that the UK blogosphere is maturing, and rather than the previous cross-party camaraderie, a sort of pioneer spirit which has existed until now, we are seeing the medium bifurcate between left and right. Bloggers on each side of the political spectrum are becoming more resourceful and aggressive. This in a way is healthy, as our political impact should increase. But some friendships may be strained.

And your worst?

From a personal point of view, I don’t think I have had a terrible experience yet. Blogging in obscurity was no fun, but it wasn’t torture. I must admit I was rather disgusted by the treatment of Bob Piper back in December, but he’s a wily chap and he’s stronger for the experience. I think a lot of left-leaning bloggers learned something during that incident.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I would say my Multiculturalism: the failed experiment and An American Question posts were the best, both were controversial (when produced on a previous version of my blog), and I have been consequently approached to write on both subjects. A good friend once said tPod was my best entry.

Favourite blogs?

Wow: how to lose friends. Bloggerheads and Chicken Yogurt are the best on the left, and The Devils Kitchen is the best on the right. I have recently got very into Ministry of Truth too. Andrew Sullivan is my favourite journo-blog.

Other not-strictly-political ones would be TheYellowDuckPond, The Word Of Zhisou, Dave Hill’s Temperama, Skuds, Bread and Circuses and The Poor Mouth. There are literally loads I haven’t mentioned that I read every day or so…

What inspired you to get involved in politics?

The Iraq War, which was an astonishing, reckless waste of resources, and phenomenally counterproductive in the struggle against radicalised, fascist Islamists.

Blogging or accountancy?

Blogging. I have always loved writing and been interested in current affairs. I never followed my ambition to become a journalist and sort of fell into accountancy by default; but that’s not to say it’s not a good career, because finance is a great career. I feel I have a bug under my skin that drives me to write, but until I am able to earn my keep as a scribe, I guess I’ll not be hanging up my calculator.

Why Barack Obama?

He’s the real deal. A brilliant orator on the stump, and like Kennedy, is able to inspire people and energise them politically. His turn at the Democrat convention back in ’04 was brilliant, but his rallies recently have been even better. The American press have been gushing, and his videos of his speeches have been doing great business on YouTube. But I do fear he has risen too fast, too early. The right are gunning for him and so are Hillary’s team.

But he’s exactly what post-Bush America is desperate for. Born in Hawaii to a white mother and a black Kenyan father. He grew up in Muslim Jakarta (attending Muslim schools as well as Catholic ones), and went on to be elected president of the Harvard Law Review (quite an honour). He is everything America needs to be if it is to face up to the difficult choices it will be posed in the coming years. Bush has accelerated America’s decline, and someone needs to steady the ship, and inspire America to rise again. I believe Obama is the man to lead America into the future.

Is there anywhere abroad, which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

As you have probably guessed, I’m very interested in the US (I minored in American Studies at Uni). So I’d love to travel from sea to shining sea and write a travel log about American culture and politics. Particular places of interest would be NYC, Washington, New England, Kansas, Austin, the Midwest, and San Francisco.

I’d also like to visit Tokyo (could we also arrange for Scarlet Johansson to be in the hotel at the same time? I have a fantasy that really needs to be indulged).

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

Having travelled through Moscow a few times, only ever stopping for a few hours on our way to Siberia, I’d love to spend a few days getting to know the city.

Who, excluding the present leader and Prime Minister, do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?

I’m 28 so I have only known Blair and the Tories. Obviously Clem Atlee oversaw Labour’s greatest achievements, but for all his evident faults, you can’t really choose anyone but Churchill, can you?

Which person has been your greatest inspiration?

Well my grandfather is a playwright and a socialist, so my literary and political instincts come from him. As a writer though, I would have to say the American writer and journalist, P.J. O’Rourke, has inspired me most. Yeah I know he’s a Republican, but his acid pen is just as often turned on the right, as it is the left. He approaches his subject with the correct attitude: contempt and scepticism.

Favourite Bond movie?

Tentatively I’d say Goldeneye, but I very much enjoyed Casino Royale. I suspect the next Daniel Craig movie will be a stonker…

Favourite Doctor Who?

I’m sorry, I know I’m going to be ostracised by the blogging community, but I’m not remotely interested in the tribulations of the good Doctor.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Vanilla milkshake. Mint ice cream.

Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

Too many to choose from I’m afraid. I have seen many of my favourite bands (The Stone Roses, REM, The Verve, and The Smashing Pumpkins) live, so it would have to be someone like Radiohead on the OK Computer tour or The Killers (can’t get tickets!). Oh, and Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen (in the sixties and eighties respectively).

You mean I have to pick one? Errr. Bruce Springsteen with the E Street Band.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

Barsby sounds intriguing, but Mrs. tyger has never been to Oxford, so we’d be inclined to go there.

Favourite national newspaper?

The Guardian. But it infuriates me with alarming regularity (but isn’t that just an example of a healthy reader/newspaper relationship?).

What would you say your hobbies were?

I have the wretched spine of a retired watchmaker, chiefly because of too many mountain biking accidents. When I am fit, I cycle. Other than that it would be reading, pottering in bookshops, arguing about politics and music. Oh and procrastinating (which is why this interview is late).

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books
(Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Songs: Loaded by Primal Scream. Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen. Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack.

Books: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The Bourne Trilogy by Robert Ludlum. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.