Tuesday, 30 September 2008

RIP Jimmy Sirrel

Jimmy Sirrel
Footballer, manager of Notts County
2nd February 1922 - 25th September 2008

Saturday, 27 September 2008

RIP Paul Newman

Paul Newman
26th January 1925 - 26th September 2008

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Victoria Derbyshire / 5 live in Manchester

Yesterday morning I found myself at the Quaker Meeting Hall in Manchester for a live broadcast of Victoria Derbyshire's BBC Radio 5 live show coinciding with the Labour party conference.

Myself and Marm, who I went out drinking with on Sunday evening at Danish bar/restaurant Kro and geek-bar Fab (Carl Exley! Legend!). Not the wisest thing to do when you end up going to bed four hours before you have to get up to go on the radio, but never mind! Many vodkas and orange were had.

I did feel like death when I got up, but the walk to the venue from the hotel freshened me up no end.

Victoria Derbyshire and my cheesily grinning self.

In the blue shirt we have Ed Milliband, member of the cabinet, Minister for the Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and brother of David. The poor guy looked terrified when he sat down, but I found he came across very well and with sincerity, despite some stock answers you expect a politician to give.

On the right, 5 live political correspondent John Pienaar.

Next up, left to right, Graham Stringer MP, former Home Secretary Charles Clarke, John Pienaar and Victoria Derbyshire.

As one of the few MPs who actually says what he thinks, I went over and shook Charles Clarke's hand. Unfortunately, he does have a rather limp handshake, which is never a good sign. I was a little disappointed. I wanted to ask him a question about why, if nobody in the cabinet has the guts to say what they really think about the PM (as he maintains many cabinet members want him gone), we should think any of them have the guts required to lead the country, but I had my thunder stolen by Fraser Nelson, political editor of The Spectator.

(Victoria herself does have a proper, firm handshake, BTW).

After they left, the MP John McDonnell turned up along with another MP (don't remember her name) to discuss the economy. McDonnell got me wound up talking about curbing 'fat cat' salaries and introuding price-fixing into the energy market. I wanted to ask him how Gordon Brown could possibly be the best person to deal with the economic crisis given that he helped cause it by presiding over an economic boom faciliated by the availability of vast amount of cheap credit and over-inflated house-prices, but before the mic came to me, Fraser Nelson beat me to it again with the same question!

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. Out of picture were her serious looking security detail. I thought about taking a photo of them, but thought better of it, lest I found myself being bundled into the back of a van.

Just after the Home Secretary arrived, so did a group of 8 or 9 boys, a couple of whom can be seen on the left. They left after she did. At the same time, her appearance was filmed, I think by BBC News. I wonder if these two things are somehow related...

Here we have Jacqui Smith, an MP whose name escapes me, another former Home Secretary in the shape of David Blunkett (and his dog, Sadie) and John Pienaar.

If I'm honest, I started to tune out a little at this point. The final hour was largely discussion of knife crime and how to get young people engaged with politics, all very worthy of course, but not something I personally get too excited about.

In addition, my attention became distracted. More of her further on...

Victoria strikes a pose...

There's a scene in Wayne's World where Wayne (Mike Myers) sees Cassandra (Tia Carrere) singing on stage with her band and is lovestruck. The band fades out and Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver" plays. It's cheesy, but effective.

This happened to me when I took this photo. Victoria stepped forward as I took the shot and revealed the beautiful Katie. As embarassing as it is to admit, I quickly succumbed to the kind of crush an 11-year old boy might get on a new classmate on his first day at secondary school. I had butterflies!

Part of Victoria's 5 live team, Katie's job at this event was to carry a mic around to whoever wanted to speak.

Katie again, poor photo, but I found the sign amusing.

Victoria looking evil. She looked like satan until I removed the red eye...

The girl speaking into the mic is Claire Hazelgrove, just 20 years old and Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Skipton & Ripon. Move aside, Caroline Flint.

Sitting on the left is another young PPC, Rachel Reeves for Leeds West.

Apologies to Katie, my photo made is look like she was asleep.

Claire Hazelgrove and Katie.

After the show ended, we all had to clear out quickly because the hall had been booked for another event, but before I left, I summoned up the courage to ask Katie if I could have my photo taken with her.

First attempt, not quite right...

Second attempt, job done!

After this, I packed up my crush in my free 5 live bag and headed for my train home.

Overall, it was a very interesting experience. As a 5 live listener it was interesting to see the show in action, the technical side and so on. When you listen to a show on the radio it's easy to forget that it's not just the person you hear, but a whole team putting it together. Victoria herself is every bit as engaging as I had expected and very much on top of her game, as I guess you have to be in live radio.

On the political side, I didn't gain any great insights, but seeing politicians in such close proximity does humanize them somewhat and the odd party-line soundbite aside, most of them came across as sincere individuals. In a way, I actually found myself feeling a little sorry for them, which was unexpected and a little inexplicable...

Friday, 19 September 2008

Without Angelina

Where to start with this film? I recorded it about two months ago solely because it stars Angelina Jolie and while I fully expected it to be crap, the completist Joliefan within me compelled me to sit through it.

Sure enough, it is indeed a crap film. Super-low budget, wooden acting (ironically, it stars Scott Plank) and, crucially, no ending. It's based on a true story. Michael Francke, director of the Oregon Department of Corrections, was stabbed in a car park and his brother, Kevin, convinced there was a conspiracy covering up what really happened, embarked on his own investigation.

The trouble is that although someone was convicted of the murder, Kevin didn't buy it, which meant that the film just petered out into nothing. Now that's OK where the case if fairly well known to be unresolved, such as with David Fincher's Zodiac. You know there won't be a pay-off at the end. However, with this film, unless you're in Oregon you're unlikely to know anything about the case and will feel rather short-changed by the ending.

Ordinarily though, a film like this wouldn't warrant a mention on this blog. However, after seeing the above DVD cover, I couldn't let it pass without comment. Who's that top-lining? Angelina Jolie! Now that's fine for say, Gia, Mr & Mrs Smith or Wanted, but if you total up La Jolie's screentime for this entire film I doubt it adds up to any more than five minutes. Poor old Scott Plank (RIP, incidentally) gets relegated to supporting actor even though he's in almost EVERY SINGLE SHOT OF THE ENTIRE FILM.

The misrepresentation doesn't end there. Look at that gun he's carrying, a chunky, manly, revolver! Sadly it bears no resemblance to the gun he carries in the film, which is a weedy pistol reminiscent of something a Nazi would carry in a WW2 movie. Then there's that line at the bottom 'AND THE ULTIMATE GOVERNMENT COVER-UP', no doubt designed to provoke images of labyrinthine conspiracies and shocking All The President's Men-style revelations, neither of which are evidenced by the film itself.

To round things off, the BBFC have given it a 15 certificate, something which I can only attribute to grossly offensive acting (Jolie aside) because the film is entirely innocuous, a view borne out by the fact it was rated PG on the Sky EPG.

Monday, 15 September 2008

RIP Richard Wright

Richard Wright
Musician, founder member of Pink Floyd
28th July 1943 - 15th September 2008

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Big Brother 9

I would just like to quote a post I made on the Guardian blogs on 13th June:

"I'm going to stick my neck out (and, indeed, the head attached to it) now and say now that Rachel will win BB9."

I am, like, *so* clever.