Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ode to Kevin

Ode to Kevin

It would be
To hear you ushered in
Before the black rod for
Question time.

Your glasses,
Steaming up in mandarin diplomacy
While you passionately argue for
Fair Trade

Fair hair
Thick and mousy
I don't mind if you got drunk
And frequented
One of those bars

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A sneaky peak....

I went to Edinburgh on Friday and Saturday to soak up the last the fringe festival had to offer. I managed to blag my way in to the Edinburgh Television Festival, a five hundred quid per head affair. A friend of mine, Claire, was going so I sneaked in to hear some of the lectures and plenaries. I even asked a question regarding my pet interest of micro audiences during the plenary on Who will win the web? The panel for this plenary included TV execs from ITV and Channel 4 and reps from Reuters, the Telegraph and the my favourite daily tome, The Guardian.

I asked them if in the future, a parishioner from a Pentecostal church might download their church's news from the web, where they would receive ten minutes of Reuters news followed by ten minutes of Jesus news. A different person might download the same ten minutes of Reuters followed by ten minutes of union news if they were downloading from the Transport and General Workers Union Website. I asked what impact this would have on traditional forms of news and whether it would be a source of income for news outlets, given traditional methods such as newspapers' revenue was falling.

I couldn't believe my luck at sneaking in to this amazing conference. During morning tea, I scored a lanyard so I thought I didn't have to sneak around anymore. But, an observant usher noticed I was sans name tag and refused me entry into my next plenary, a role play involving news desk editors from the Guardian, the BBC, Sky News and Al Jazeera and a "real time" kidnapping on British soil of a highly decorated Iraq War vet. I was shown the door, but luckily it was via the wheel chair entrance, so I sneaked back in and befriended Conservative MP John Whittingdale, the head of the House of Commons Select Committee on Communications. We had an interesting chat - he used to be Margaret Thatcher's press secretary and was there the day she was dumped by her Party. We watched Terror Tapes - Broadcast or Be Damned together and concluded that we would both seek the resignation of the Sky News editor for showing the live footage of the hostage takers being raided, which resulted in the death of the hostage. Click here to see more.

And then of course, I ate my free lunch, which included fruit kebabs, mushroom tapenade on spinach flat bread and boccini cheese with tomato and basil. And a free t-shirt for both me and Jock and some fair trade chocolate. I didn't eat the t-shirt in case you were wondering...

To show you that the state of television in the UK is all the better for this conference, where the greatest minds in this TV nation get together over a weekend, here are two clips which appeared on telly last week....

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Royal Post - standing in the bread line

If there is one thing the British know how to do well it is form a line. There is a unique order to lining up in Britain. If, for example, there are three ATMs, one single line will form in front of them so the first in line goes to the next available magic money machine.

This is equally true of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Gatwick Airport, places where I have had further opportunity to stand patiently in an orderly queue talking about the weather to British people I don't know and won't meet again.

However, the Partick Post Office queue really doesn't cut the mustard. The floor of this post office is slightly concave where thousands have stood before me, making the once blue, now grey carpet threadbare . There is no banter about the weather, just a sombre line of people, staring forward waiting for their turn to shout through a small window to the post office clerk.

Invariably, I will be behind the person who wants a passport, holding up the line for ten minutes while the clerk checks the list for official justices of the peace ensuring tight personality checks under new terror laws of said passportee.

This is the worst of the wait, for now my iPod would have run out of batteries and the personal sanctuary in my head is now at the mercy of the post office line. I am now hearing a repetitive symphony of ambulance sirens on their way to the western infirmary, the warbling call of the Big Issue seller outside (Biiiiiig issue...tae help the homeless buy ye biiiiiig issue ootside....ah only harve one left, buy it so ah can gae hame") and the bloop te bloop blap followed by Ringo Starr saying "Come on Thomas and Friends" of the coin-operated child's Thomas the Tank Engine ride which hides some carpetless floor boards in the Post Office.

Finally it's my turn. Now I have to make a decision about whether to buy a first or second class stamp - surely Britain is the only country to extend the class system to small sticky bits of paper....

The clerk asks me what I would like. "I loaf of bread" I say. He gives me a funny look. "Well, for the amount of time I've been waiting in this line, I thought I had been transported back in time to a communist Russia bread line.

A wry smile. "A second class stamp for you then?"

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Get Up! Support the ad and vote Howard OUT!

I'm a big supporter of Get Up as you know. Here's the latest venture from the team:

Pass this on to as many friends as possible!

Now, I've been totally slack with the blog lately and it's not just because of (evil) facebook, it's also because I have:
  • been going to the movies
  • getting DJ lessons (what fun!)
  • working way too hard - it really has been insane
  • visiting Grannie
  • going to the Edinburgh fringe festival (more fun!)
  • it's all a bit of a blur
So I'm sorry - I will try and be creative on Monday. The same day I[m going back to the gym...

Thursday, August 02, 2007


DOB DOB DOB. It's the centenary of Scouts this week. I was a Scout once. And a guide and a brownie. I have mostly fond memories of this organisation, but towards the latter years of my involvement things began to change.

Amid the frivolous fun of meeting at the dingy halls in various towns and cities across Australia, singing songs and baking cakes, I recall para military activities such as marching in and out of parade to raise the flag, playing stalking games in the bush (which included camouflaged faces and various native shrubbery stuck in piggy tails) and truly evil commando courses which I never finished because of inferior arm muscles unable to a) pull me over the wall, b) get me across the rope bridge over water - very troubling for me or c) I managed to convince Brown Owl/Akela that as the patrol leader I would be best served making sure the possums were not finding a way into our larder rather than spend the afternoon searching for muscles I didn't have.

As scouts from across the planet gathered in Brownsea this week, the young lad invited to speak at the celebratory jamboree quoted a speech from Baden-Powell where he called for peace, comradeship and cooperation instead of rivalry between "classes, creeds and countries which have done so much in the past to produce wars and unrest". All good stuff from Robert the Powell. However, what he was really saying was "you can't run an A1 empire on C3 men".

This is always overlooked when folk romanticise about the Scouting movement. That it was meant to celebrate the fact that boys could be trusted to run errands during the Boer War, it was really started to give the lower class boys something to do and prepare them for war - and the "unrest" he spoke of was of the lower classes' expectation that they should be socially mobile and question their place in society. He spoke of bricks in the wall being civilisation and if you were a lower brick that was rotten, the wall would fall down and the higher bricks would not be able to look out for the country.

As I look back I can forgive this quasi caring sentiment of the great unwashed, because practically, I got more out of Scouting than the sum of being slightly bitter about the underlying reasons for starting it. I did learn to pitch an A frame tent, tie a bowline and slip knots (v. helpful for tying up protest banners) and later in Scouting life, learned how to chair meetings, change the oil in a car and put a succinct argument forward as to why I had a problem organising Scouts to be waiters at a Masons function, all under the watchful eye of volunteer leaders.

If we all dybbed and dobbed our way through life, perhaps there would be less rivalry among us.