Saturday, 30 May 2009

Be kind rewind

This morning I was walking back from the shops in the heat, slightly dishevelled, sweaty and bothered. As I crossed the road, suddenly a driver leaned out of the window of his white van. 'Cheer up darlin', it might never 'appen,' he called out.
Suddenly I had been propelled back 20 years, Ashes to Ashes style. I thought the age of White Man Van calling out predictable catchphrases to women as they mind their own business walking along the street had disappeared along with winklepickers, drainpipes and ra ra skirts, but apparently The Specials and Spandau Ballet aren't the only Eighties things making a comeback.

Monday, 25 May 2009

white menace

The other night I received a leaflet through my door. I knew who it was from even before I read it, because it was emblazoned with the Union Jack and plastered with white faces. 'NO to immigration' it stated.
I felt sick, as though my home had been invaded by an extremely unwelcome guest. Sick but not really surprised.
Some years ago I was personally on the receiving end of the BNP's vile messages when I wrote a review of a TV programme about the plight of the Jewish people under the Nazis for a national newspaper. I received anonymous hatemail and a pamphlet denying the Holocaust ever happened from members of the BNP.
When I complained to the Police, I was told there was nothing they could do because it was impossible to trace the senders.
At the time, it was perhaps slightly easier to dismiss them as a bunch of crackpot lowlifes. Unfortunately, since then, support for the BNP has been steadily growing. Many of those who vote for them next week will have convinced themselves that this despicable group have nothing to do with racism, but any of us who have experienced the BNP's bile at first hand know the truth.
I still don't know how they were allowed to become a legitimate political party when their underlying message is so clearly one of hatred, but at the moment that's the situation we find ourselves in, and what matters now is how we counteract this menace.
The biggest scandal of the MPs expenses debacle is that their appalling greed and contempt for the British public is driving voters towards the BNP. They should be out there campaigning and convincing voters why they must turn away from this racist organisation. Instead they are caught up in defending the indefensible.
They have been caught red handed with their hands in the country's till. Time to fess up, pay what they owe, get on with fighting the local elections and obliterate the BNP.

Susan really does have the voice of an angel

She was so nervous she misfired on the first few notes, but once she got into her stride Susan Boyle proved once again why she should win Britain's Got Talent. And her intense vulnerability was perfect for her song choice - Memory, which is about an abandoned cat.
All bets really are off.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Lost Season finale - spoiler alert

The double episode season finale opened with the kind of hook other TV series can only dream about. Finally we met Jacob - who turned out to be incredibly youthful and actually rather charming. He was sitting on a beach, eating fresh fish he'd caught and barbecued himself, talking to someone who we presume was from the past rather than the future, although it was kind of hard to tell. They were watching a 17th century clipper on the sea. Then the camera panned out to reveal a giant Egyptian statue, Wicker Man style, right there on the beach.
Now we were really confused. Was Jacob in fact thousands of years old? How could an Egyptian relic have ended up on a Pacific beach? And how come we'd never seen it before?
Jacob, it turned out, had met all the Oceanic passengers at one time or other. He met Kate and Sawyer when they were cute kids, and Hurley when he'd just come out of jail. He met Sun and Jin at their wedding in Korea - it didn't matter though, because Jacob spoke every language under the sun. And still he didn't age.
Meanwhile Jack was on a mission - and that was to blow up the island with the nuclear bomb, the only way to make everything right. There was a semi-auto erotic fight between him and Sawyer (which might have worked better if they hadn't been wearing those daft Dharma Initiative jumpsuits). Finally Jack managed to convince Sawyer, Kate and Juliet that nuking the island was the right thing to do.
John Locke was still on his way to see Jacob - with Ben, the ever youthful Richard and the others (not the others, just that other group of passengers). Finally they arrived at the spot where the Egyptian statue had been - except all that remained was a giant foot.
Locke and Ben went in to see the statue while the others stayed on the beach and opened a giant box (too complicated to explain) to reveal a body. Locke's body. But Locke was still inside the foot with Ben, talking to Jacob. How could he be in two places at once?
The conversation inside the foot didn't last long before Ben stabbed Jacob and Locke pushed him on the fire. Given his previous omnipresence, I think it's safe to say he probably isn't dead.
Back at the drill hole, things were moving fast. After a gunfight between our lot and the bad Dharma Initiative crew Jack threw the nuke down the hole. Suddenly all metal objects started moving towards it - jeeps, everything. Somehow Juliet became caught up in some chains and then she was being dragged down into the hole. Sawyer tried to hold on to her but it was no use. 'I love you,' he sobbed. 'I love you,' she sobbed back. Then she fell. Just like in Hurley's film script for The Empire Strikes Back, the force was too strong.
A distraught Sawyer, Kate and Jack waited for the explosion. And waited. But nothing happened.
Then the camera took us down into the hole. There was Juliet. She was still alive. The nuke hadn't exploded. But she was badly injured. Still she managed to pick up a rock, and smash the nuke.
Whoosh.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Stop all the rot

The MP's expenses scandal is rapidly descending into a farce of Blackadder proportions. Now we have the Tories and their shadowy expense claims. I'm not sure what possesses an MP on over £60k a year to think it morally or even socially acceptable to 'flip' his second home allowance to claim for a property just outside London (Guildford is only an hour's commute from Westminster, a black cab home would have been cheaper). But by showing such flagrant disregard for voters, Gove and co have proved themselves completely unfit for Government, no better than the squires who used to lord it over the rotten boroughs in the 19th century. Something is very definitely rotten in 21st century Westminster.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

There's nothing like a Dame

Like the rest of the UK, I've always been a huge fan of Joanna Lumley. Not just for her Ab Fab moments, but because she's the very best of British - fearless, determined, and not afraid to stand up for what she knows is right. She also reminds us of why perhaps it's time for a female Prime Minister (because let's face it, the last one didn't really count). Men - and Maggie - have been screwing up the UK - the economy, education, the NHS - for decades. Like the musical number says, there's nothing like a dame - a decent female PM is long overdue.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Appetite for Destruction

I'm not sure why she ever imagined that the rest of us should have to pay for her summer house, shed and pergola, but those are just some of the items Margaret Beckett tried to claim as allowable expenses. They were disallowed, but her fridge, freezer, dishwasher, drier and washing machine apparently sailed through.
Like the rest of the Cabinet, Beckett has apparently been living it up (and then some) at the expense of the rest of us. Hazel Blears claimed for not one, not two but three homes. Alistair Darling did a trolley dash round Ikea and kept changing his second home (four times in total) so that he could keep claiming for it. And so it goes on.
The Cabinet's defence, as voiced repeatedly today by the hapless Harriet Harman, is that the expenses were 'allowable' under the old rules. But the argument that they haven't broken any rules is, really, no defence at all. Because anyone who thought it acceptable to claim for three homes or an LCD TV on the country's balance sheet has shown a staggering lack of regard and respect for the people who voted them in in the first place.
Nor is it really the point that all MPs from all parties have been filing their expenses claims under the same extraordinary rules.

The most important issue is that these particular batch of expenses have been run up by the Cabinet, the men and women entrusted with running the country, and their publication is an unmitigated PR disaster. Now our image of them is not of people we can trust - but of Political Fat Cats no better than the city bankers who broke the economy.
Coming at a time when so many families have been struggling to keep their heads above water and their homes from being repossessed, this will be remembered as the moment when Labour lost the next general election.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Lost in the 100th episode

As usual, it was Sawyer who came up with the funniest line, calling slightly mad scientist Daniel Faraday 'HG Wells' (all that reading must be paying off). In fact, the 100th episode was all about time travel, with Faraday flitting between the Sixties, Seventies and Noughties at an alarming and dizzying rate.
We discovered that he is in fact the son of Charles Widmore/Jim Robinson/Daniel Mead's dad and that his mum is the creepy white-haired woman who played an even creepier ghost in the Nicole Kidman film The Others. (Bizarrely, because of his relationship to Charles Widmore, Faraday is also the half-brother of Desmond's girlfriend Penny, although there appears to be no family resemblance whatsoever.)
Meanwhile back in the Seventies Sawyer had locked up the nasty man who also plays a nasty comedian in Mad Men (one of the perils of appearing in two hit shows at the same time) and was joining forces with the rest of the love quadrangle - Kate, Juliet and Jack - plus Hurley and Miles to get everyone to safety before the impending hydrogen bomb explosion. Faraday tried to warn Miles's dad (scientist Dr Chang) about what was coming, then in a slightly creepy scene he warned the junior version of the red-haired woman he fancied in the future to 'get off the island'. She looked confused and, not surprisingly, more than a little scared.
It then emerged that Faraday's mother was in fact one of the Others (for real), and off he went with Kate and Jack to find her so that she could unlock the secrets of the island. Unfortunately for Kate, Jack and everyone else, his mother, thinking him a deranged intruder, shot him just before the bang of the giant wood block heralding the end of the episode.
Brilliant.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

I predict a riot...

Like most of the UK, I'm a fan of Cheryl Cole. I love her style and her attitude, and she is probably one of the best things about the X-Factor. But ITV's decision to give her a £1million 'golden handcuffs' deal in addition to her reported £1.1million salary at a time when the network is laying off so many talented production staff is in the worst possible taste.