Saturday, October 18, 2003

The Timeless Wisdom of Richard Littlejohn

On Michael Portillo. There are an awful lot of careerists in politics who trim their sails to the prevailing wind (90% of the Labour Cabinet to start with), but few who are as open and dramatic about it as the one-time darling of the hard-faced Thatcherite right, now reborn as sensitive bisexual liberal. I've gone more the other way myself ...

"Following the success of his week as a single mum, TV chiefs have come up with a new format for Michael Portillo.
They want him to spend a week as a normal backbench MP, living on his official salary, dealing with mundane constituency problems, attending debates in the Commons, going through the division lobbies and speaking in support of his party leader.

Unfortunately, no one thinks he could cope with the role.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Goodbye Call Centres .....

HSBC are moving 4,000 jobs to the Far East. Service jobs seem to be chasing manufacturing offshore. Losing your job ? Turn misfortune to good account and join a booming industry - counselling. You can start with your (ex)colleagues.

It does make one wonder where it will all end. David Farrar wonders too - pointing out that of the 25 top earners in Scotland, 11 are footballers or managers. Where have all the entrepreneurs gone ?

And Camilla Cavendish wonders aloud in the Times "How many bureaucrats do you need to start an enterprise revolution?", following the news that the government now employs 354,000 more people than it did five years ago.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

BBC and the Guardian - all the news we think you need to know ...

The main Radio 4 news item all yesterday was the conviction of Mohammed Dica for passing HIV to two of his partners.

Yet strangely they don't mention that he's an asylum seeker. Neither does the Guardian, though they call him a "Somali living in Mitcham", whereas to the BBC he's "father-of-three Dica, from Mitcham, south-west London".

Liberal self-censorship at its best. Don't want to encourage xenophobia, do we. Best leave that bit out.

Never thought I'd say it, but we actually need the Sun.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Gay Bishop-Bashing latest

As 38 primates gather at Lambeth, ranging from mighty gorilla Rasputin himself down to the lowliest lemur, the Guardian find yet another cleric who fears the Church of England may be taken over by Christians, who wish to ignore its historic mission to fight the Tories and social exclusion in favour of some ridiculous Bible-based theology.

"Gay Christians are silenced and scared" says Rev Giles Fraser - so scared in fact that he only gives his name, email address, his parish and the Oxford college where he lectures.

"Funded by rightwing extremists in the US, some of whom believe that homosexuals should be stoned, and egged on by the Vatican, conservative evangelicals are exploiting the crisis to mount a takeover bid for the soul of the Anglican communion."

The main evangelical group is Reform. Does he have any evidence for his claim of US funding (never mind being stoned - I've known homosexuals and straights who were permanently that way) ?

After all, only a few months ago another Guardian writer was bemoaning the way the rich Reform parishes were holding the Church to ransom.

And how about the Vatican - any evidence of egging ?

Or is the good vicar over-egging the pudding, to coin a phrase ?
Oh - the pain ...

If the BBC and Guardian are to be believed, one in seven of us suffer excruciating pain which isn't caused by listening to the Today programme.

I think they're right. On my day off today I walked up the lane, and could hardly hear the birds for the moans and screams of the villagers. As the wild geese flew overhead, I noticed that quite a number of them were honking in a particularly agonised manner.

And in the towns the cries of pain are so piercing that sensitive young men are forced to drive with their stereos on full at all times.

Some of the more socially conscious youths even open their windows so that passers-by can get some relief by hearing the latest from the Paedophile Crew or new rapper Fukubich, whose 'roasting' style is all the rage among wealthy young Londoners.

Sorry we ate your great-grandpa .....

I'm used to being told that as a Brit I should apologise for slavery/potato famine/colonialism/Sting albums/Amritsar massacres etc.

So what a refreshing change this story is.

I trust that liberals will be agitating for the unfortunate missionary's surviving boot to be returned to the UK from the Fiji Museum.
Bringing back the Marsh Arabs - well some of them, anyway

I wondered a few months back if anything would be done about this by GWBs boys, hoping the Toxic Texan would be able to give the finger to his green critics, but it looks as if Iraqis are doing it for themselves.

But alas the Euphrates isn't what it was, thanks to the huge dams in Turkey and Syria which divert so much of the water. Come on, Israel - you must have a few spare missiles left over from Hamas to help these people. Or do we need 617 Squadron ?

Monday, October 13, 2003

Come Back Miss Nightingale

Mrs Tall is currently taking a 'back to nursing' course in the UK after 8 years as a full time mother. She trained at Barts under the ancien regime and is puzzled by the 'coursework' she's being given now.

She's currently looking at three set texts

"Nursing Rituals" by Mike Walsh and Pauline Ford

'... the unquestioning tradition of obedience ... Victorian legacy ... this involves obedience to hierarchy and also to men, who, according to Victorian values, are seen as inherently superior to women. It is no accident that most nurses are women and most doctors are men.'

A later work by the same pair 'New Rituals for Old'

'being powerless is synonymous with being oppressed (tough being a baby then - LT) and one of the principal tenets of feminism is that women are an oppressed group. About 85% of nurses happen to be women. It is hard to ignore making a linkage (sic) betwen these two statements, and, in addressing the issues of empowerment, feminist perspectives therefore deserve our immediate attention.'.

The theme of this book appears to be that 'we've thrown out all that stuffy old tradition and we're STILL oppressed'.

And 'Nursing Models and Nursing Practice' by Peter Aggleton and Helen Chalmers.

.. until relatively recently many nurses believed that nursing is best carried out when based on instinct, intuition and empathy, elements that make up 'the calling' ... such an approach ...has since come in for considerable criticism.

It was not until 1967 that Yura and Walsh argued that nursing care ... should be likened to a problem-solving process in which nurse and patient
1. together identify the causes of problems requiring intervention
2. make plans to remedy this problem
3. take the necessary steps to alleviate them, and then
4. reflect on what has happened '

Love that 'reflect on what has happened'. Presumably only if you're still alive. My mother was subjected to this last approach (known as "the nursing process") when she was dying of cancer a year ago - a charade of equality. It was a pity that during this dialogue her night nurses made plain to her their displeasure at having to take her to the toilet several times a night.

When I was studying sociology and annoying my tutors, my wife was learning nursing at the sharp end in London casualty units.

It looks as if the 'return to nursing' courses are not designed to update the returnees in clinical practice, new drugs or techniques, but to reprogram them into a new nursing ethos, one in which the nurse and her status are all-important. All for the patient's good, you understand.
Tony Martin 'I Love America' Shock Horror

Well I'm not sure how Rummy would react to being told that "America is an extension of this country" but I'm sure he'd have loved the rest of Tony Martin's address to the annual UKIP conference, which gave him a standing ovation.

After stating that if we had to have a single currency it should be the dollar, Mr Martin said this :

"The only reason I'm living here today is the Americans and two World Wars.

"It's not an insult to the British people who fought for this country to say that without the Americans help, the world would not be a free place ... it's as good as you're going to get."

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Oliver Bloody Letwin .....

You just had to go and blow it, didn't you. You spoke truth from the heart - such a rare thing for a politician.

Surprise surprise - the BBC and Guardian didn't like it. Wow.

And then you had to climb down.

Why didn't you just make a public statment to the effect that you were sorry if the state schools were upset, that you had great respect for the difficult jobs the teachers were doing - but that you'd still walk on broken glass to send your children somewhere else.

Sometimes form is as important as content.

I can’t ever remember hearing the Japanese national anthem before today’s Scotland game, but the mournful, beautiful version sung by the choir and two singers was deeply affecting. Words like ‘Heimat’ floated unbidden into my mind. Shaven-headed Japanese props had wet faces and some others were only just holding onto it (my observation, based on years of watching Wales, is that players who cry during the anthems are also doomed to cry after the game).

The choir then did ‘Flower Of Scotland’ in EXACTLY the same style. It was bloody awful. Just as if the Mike Sammes Singers (older UK surfers will remember and perhaps shudder) had given it the inimitable ‘Sing Something Simple’ treatment. The players sang along but looked embarrassed.

Yet the tune and words hadn’t changed. It’s just that ‘Flower Of Scotland’ simply cannot be sung like a lullaby - not at a rugby match anyway. It needs to be sung as by a marching army.

If they sang the World Cup version at Murrayfield England would put sixty points past them. When they’d stopped laughing.

UPDATE - just heard a Talk Sport presenter (English) saying that it sent shivers down his spine. Does he mean it or is it a plot to emasculate the song ?

Radio 4 is heading downmarket fast....

Lead by Eddie Mair and Dan Damon, who moved from Radio 5’s ‘Sunday Service’ to PM and Broadcasting House respectively. Mair is essentially a R5 presenter and always will be, a less hideous Nicky Campbell, while Damon’s Broadcasting House seems to be simply a transplant of Sunday Service. I’ve just listened to a studio discussion on who may become the new Dr. Who. Will it be Eddie Izzard ? Perhaps Alun Davies or Bill Nighy - maybe Derek Jacobi - for heaven’s sake - this is Radio Four !

Thank God for Andrew Rawnsley - he may be another public school socialist a la “Andy” Marr but I think it unlikely that I’ll tune in tonight to hear ‘Oasis - when exactly did they lose it ?’.