Friday, April 25, 2008

Back Tomorrow

On rare occasions making a living has to take priority - and four 11-hour days on the trot has left me somewhat tired. Yesterday I actually arrived home and didn't want to fire up the computer.

But we seem to have satisfied the people who pay us ... so normal blogging will resume after a long sleep.

More Sandy Denny ... a throwaway little song that she never actually released - sung here by the very wonderful Mary Black and the equally wonderful Emmylou Harris.

Or if that's too pipe-and-slippers for you, why not "get on down" with the "teenybop" sound of today (according to my eldest, though to my untutored ear it sounds a little like the teenybop sound of ten or even more years ago), which is apparently "safe, blud". H2O ask, and rightly ask, "What's it gonna be ?".

To which the answer is "A large port". Goodnight.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More Sandy Denny

There's a lot of blogging out there at the moment, but this blog is easily the most researched and knowledgeable. I feel a book will eventually come of this work.

I saw her at Bradford Uni in 1976. Wasn't a great concert - she sang too close to the mike and I was disappointed. There wasn't a good feeling about the show. But it didn't put any of us off her - we just went home and played the records again. And again ... Reading Clinton Heylin's biography it's apparent that she was not a happy bunny at the time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Educashun Agaynst The Facicsts

OK, they may not leave school knowing what seven eights are or the capital of Bosnia, but they'll have learned the important stuff.

Focusing on the rise of the BNP will help students to face the consequences of political choice within a democracy, as well as giving insight into the workings, impact and implications of extreme political groups. It's an intriguing, if challenging, topic, but with sensitive handling could provide a gritty topical issue, suitable for cross-curricular study in subject areas such as English, history and citizenship ...

Whatever happened to the oxbow lake and the difference between a temperate and a continental climate ?

"I'm well hard, me"

Burnley really does have some top underclass tottie. Even Beverley Lunt actually managed to send her down for two and a half years.

A friend reported about 9.15pm Duckworth had been very drunk and couldn't stand. She produced an eight-inch knife and said she was going to stab "Darryl the smackhead."

She wandered off to some nearby shops the victim lived above and knocked on his front door. Mr Hopkins's girlfriend answered and Duckworth asked if Mr Hopkins could give her a cigarette. Miss Statham said the victim went to the door, held out a cigarette and Duckworth thrust the knife into his chest.

Duckworth announced "cockily" to friends: "I have done it. I have done it. It went straight through." She then produced the blood-stained knife and said: "I'm well hard, me."

Duckworth made no comment when interviewed by police. She had 48 previous convictions, many for serious offences, committed her first assault when she was 13 and had been the subject of an anti-social behaviour order.

The defendant had been given a suspended sentence five days before the offence.

As someone said in the comments "Thank goodness we have strong judges like Beverley Lunt who pounce mercilessly on criminals. It's a good thing that Duckworth wasn't up for not paying her council tax, she would have received a long sentence."

Also in Burnley, from the comments I'm not sure that this 'yes means yes and no means no' stuff has quite filtered through to all sections of the community.

On the subject of the underclass, tonight's Radio Four 'Bringing Up Britain', on single parents, started with the usual liberal foolishness - presenter Mariella Frostrup actually asked 'is there any evidence that it's better to have two parents ?'.

But there was an interesting aside by one of the contributors, who'd been talking with a social worker.

'I can't remember when we last took a child into care whose parents are married'.

St George "to be tried for war crimes"

According to Oliver Pritchett :

Today, thousands of people the length and breadth of England will be celebrating Dragon Awareness Day.

This is to draw attention to the blatant slaying of a member of the dragon community by St George, several centuries ago, and to call for a more positive attitude to these mythical monsters.

We also want to highlight our demands for 1) A full apology from the Prime Minister and the Queen; 2) Back-dated compensation for all those affected by the event; 3) Legislation to outlaw the demonising of dragons; 4) A Channel 4 documentary outlining the war crimes committed by St George, possibly leading to a trial, or at least a full public inquiry.

Cry Gord For England and St George !

The Jelly-bellied Flag-Flapper will be flying the Crusader Cross over Downing St today.

Meanwhile, our EU overlords are wiping England off the map while re-establishing the Norman Empire.

The new European plan splits England into three zones that are joined with areas in other countries. The "Manche" region covers part of southern England and northern France while the Atlantic region includes western parts of England, Portugal, Spain and Wales. The North Sea region includes eastern England, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and parts of Germany. A copy of the map, which makes no reference to England or Britain, has even renamed the English Channel the "Channel Sea".

You said it, man !

Commenter osho on a Poll Pot thread :

I came to Britain from India in the early 90s. It became obvious to me early on that the easiest way to appear an 'intellectual' was to claim to read the Guardian and to blame Mrs Thatcher for the appalling poverty of human spirit that I saw in the council estates. The same week that Peter Lilley committed political suicide by claiming that young women were getting pregnant to jump the housing list, I met just such a woman who had indeed done precisely the same and was amply rewarded by the state for doing so. I have since watched with a mixture of amusement and horror as the likes of Polly Toynbee have led the debate on issues that strike at the very heart of a civil society.

Polly I salute you and your kind. To have reduced a country that once ran an empire to a place where victimhood rules, the reciprocal relationshsip between effort and reward, crime and punishment, rights and responsibilities has been dismantled, and a third of the population still wishes to vote labour is an enormous achievement. I wonder if sometimes you have moments of insight at what damage you have wreaked and how you deal with these. I suspect that any such moments would cause so much cognitive dissonance that you probably climb the moral ground a little higher, prepare some more sanctimonious outpouring for the Guardian readers, and pat yourself on the back. But one day, surely, your work will come back to haunt you.

Meanwhile I think Britain is stuffed. I say this with no relish, my Children are British as now am I. We are well and truly stuffed. Like the protagonist in Koestler's Darkness at Noon, we will spend our fading days imprisoned by the almighty state in learnt helplessness.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You Said It, Girl

60s/70s Brit feminist Sheila Rowbotham in the Guardian bemoans those nasty capitalists who have hijacked her lovely revolution. Laban repeats himself.

"Four decades on, we can see that the rebellions of 1968 coincided with capitalism changing gear."

That's one way of putting it. But it was no coincidence.

Your brilliantly successful cultural revolution weakened the old culture to the point where capitalism, flexible by nature and untrammeled by its previous cultural constraints, could flourish on the weakened organism like some opportunistic infection.

"How could we have known that empowerment would be the adman's dream ticket or that the market would zoom in so thoroughly on personal identity ?"

Because you destroyed the old, basically Christian culture, and didn't replace it with anything (although I expect questionnaire will be along at any moment to agree that it was all those nasty capitalists).

It's not as if the signs weren't there from the beginning, either. Remember the Virginia Slims cigarette ads ?

"You've come a long way, baby"

But we have further to go yet. Enjoy the ride.

(Incidentally, ex-smackhead/ex-drunk driver and Spare Rib founder Rosie Boycott has either recanted all her beliefs or she's very short of cash. In today's Daily Mail she argues that the reason there aren't more female CEOs is that biology is destiny.

"because of their biological make-up, most women want to limit the amount of time they spend at work and to find "inherent meaning" there, as opposed to domination - a goal which thrills men but leaves most women disenchanted. As such, women's biological make-up conflicts with making lots of money and rising through the ranks.

These, of course, are the sort of conclusions that used to make my feminist blood boil."

But it's a comment by "millytante" on Ms Rowbotham's piece that really hits the mark :

"You [meaning the Western male] have lost control of your women." Screamed one red faced apoplectic imam at the camera in a bbc docu.

And he is right, and thank gawd for that. But instead of celebrating the release we women are getting from these patriarchs we find the western male too lily livered to protest"

Yup. Lily-liveryness isn't something you can just turn off and on as convenient. Milly, I'd like you to meet an old family friend, Mr Unintended Consequences.

Sandy Denny

It was thirty years ago today, or thereabouts, that she fell down the stairs and died. Indie piece here (ignore the 'British Joni Mitchell' nonsense), and apparently there's a BBC Radio 2 retrospective tonight at 10.30.

She liked the sea. A while back I put together a compilation CD '20 Nautical Greats From A Mistress of Maritime Melancholy'. I'll have to find the track listing.

The Rattlebag

via No Good Boyo, this English translation of the Dafydd ap Gwilym (approx 1320-1360) poem "Y Rhugl Groen". Enough to make you want to read in the original.

George Borrow devoted a whole chapter of "Wild Wales" to him.

It's a beautiful, day, you're out, hope springing, with an excellent girl (Dafydd was a bit of a lad, to put it mildly) - then something totally ruins the atmosphere and your chances. And you're bloody furious !

The Rattlebag

As I was (easiest praise)
one day of summer
under trees between mountain and field
awaiting my soft-spoken girl,
she came (it's worthless to deny)
to where she had promised, an undeniable moon.
We sat together (splendid topic,
a hesitant thing), the girl and I;
I exchanged (before a claim should fail)
words with an excellent girl.

And as we were thus (she was modest)
the two of us understanding love,
there came (a feebleness bereft of nurturing)
with a cry (some stinking feat)
a small ugly noisy (the bottom of a sack making a sound)
creature in the guise of a shepherd.

And he had (hateful declaration)
a rattle-bag, angry, with a withered cheek, harsh-horned.
He sounded (yellow-bellied lodger)
the rattlebag; woe to the scabby leg!

And then without gaining satisfaction
the fair girl was frightened, woe me!

When she heard (breast made brittle by a wound)
the winnowing of the stones, she would stay no more.

Under Christ, there was never a sound in Christendom
(a sow's fame) as harsh:
a bag sounding on the end of a stick,
a bell's sound of small stones and gravel;
a shaking vessel of English stones making a sound
in a bullock's skin;
a basket of three thousand beetles,
a surging cauldron, a black bag;
guardian of a meadow, cohabitor of grass,
black-skinned, pregnant with dry wood-chips.

It's voice hateful for an old roebuck,
a devil of a bell, with a pole in its crotch.

A scarred scab with a stone-bearing gravel-womb,
may it be buckle-laces.

Coldness be on the shapeless churl,
(amen) who frightened my girl !

Y Rhugl Groen

Fal yr oeddwn, fawl rwyddaf,
Y rhyw ddiwrnod o'r haf
Dan wŷdd rhwng mynydd a maes
Yn gorllwyn fy nyn geirllaes,
Dyfod a wnaeth, nid gwaeth gwad,
Lle'r eddewis, lloer ddiwad.
Cydeiste, cywiw destun,
Amau o beth, mi a bun;
Cyd-draethu, cyn henu hawl,
Geiriau â bun ragorawl.

A ni felly, any oedd,
Yn deall serch yn deuoedd,
Dyfod a wnaeth, noethfaeth nych,
Dan gri, rhyw feistri fystrych,
Salw ferw fach, sain gwtsach sail,
O begor yn rhith bugail.
A chanto'r oedd, cyhoedd cas,
Rugl groen flin gerngrin gorngras.
Canodd, felengest westfach,
Y rhugl groen; och i'r hegl grach!
Ac yno heb ddigoni
Gwiw fun a wylltiodd, gwae fi!
Pan glybu hon, fron fraenglwy,
Nithio'r main, ni thariai mwy.

Dan Grist, ni bu dôn o Gred,
Cynar enw, cyn erwined:
Cod ar ben ffon yn sonio,
Cloch sain o grynfain a gro;
Crwth cerrig Seisnig yn sôn
Crynedig mewn croen eidion;
Cawell teirmil o chwilod,
Callor dygyfor, du god;
Cadwades gwaun, cydoes gwellt,
Groenddu feichiog o grinddellt.
Cas ei hacen gan heniwrch,
Cloch ddiawl, a phawl yn ei ffwrch.
Greithgrest garegddwyn grothgro,
Yn gareiau byclau y bo.
Oerfel i'r carl gwasgarlun,
Amên, a wylltiodd fy mun.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Your 79 On Bail Murderers (Minimum) Tonight

One in six murders was committed last year by someone who was out on bail for another offence, figures disclosed suggest. In 79 out of 462 murder cases, the alleged perpetrator was facing separate charges at the time of the offence, according to statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Police leaders said the figures proved that a "systemic failure" in the bail process was undermining efforts to keep the streets safe. Their disclosure follows a string of murders carried out by people who had been freed from custody. Nick Herbert, the shadow justice secretary, said: "These shocking figures underline the need for tighter bail laws. Public safety must come first."

In one county, Avon and Somerset, just under half of all those charged with murder in 2007 were on bail for other offences. Three were on police bail, three on court bail and two on both court and police bail. The statistics came from 34 forces in England, Scotland and Wales but did not include, among others, figures from the Metropolitan police, in whose area the most murders were committed last year.

High-profile cases have included that of Garry Newlove, 47, who was kicked to death outside his Cheshire home last summer by Adam Swellings, who had been freed from custody earlier that day. Last week an inquest heard how Garry Weddell, a former police inspector, shot dead his mother-in-law and then committed suicide while waiting to be tried for the murder of his wife, Sandra. In January, when details of his case first emerged, Gordon Brown promised a review, saying: "If any changes in the law are necessary, we will make them."

However, last month it was revealed 60 murder suspects were still walking the streets after being granted bail by the courts. In manslaughter cases the figures were even more stark with 35 suspects out on bail - 85 per cent of those charged. Only six were in custody.

And an early release double murderer.

A convicted murderer from Teesside has been told he will die in prison after strangling and stabbing his wife. Douglas Vinter, 38, was separated from Anne White when he stabbed her to death at his mother's house in February.

The bodybuilder, who was released from prison in 2005 after serving nine years for killing a workmate, later told police "I had my reasons". Vinter, of no fixed address, admitted murder and was given a whole life sentence at Teesside Crown Court.

Vinter, formerly a railway signalman, was jailed in 1996 for the knife murder of train worker Robert Eden, 24, in a railway cabin.

"A Likeable Idiot 2"

Remember Swindon solicitor Rob Ross and his client Jamie Manderson ?

"Jamie is a likeable idiot, really. Jamie suffers from a very serious addiction to cars. He just can't leave them alone.

"During the 1980s he used to steal cars to order and he made a lot of money.

"Then, a few years ago, he got addicted to heroin, but it's the cars he's really hooked on. He just doesn't understand the words 'don't drive'."
Mr Mansderson has been sent down for eight months (i.e. four months), after his 51st conviction for driving while disqualified.

Former nightclub bouncer, Manderson, who has never had a driving licence, has been banned from driving every year since 1988 when he was just 15.
Unbelievable. Banned from driving every year for 20 years. What's even more impressive is that, according to the local paper, he's spent a total of 17 years in prison. How does he find the time to drive ?

In November 2006, Manderson vowed to give up his bad driving habits. He told the Advertiser he was turning over a new leaf for his son Kaine, after spending 17 years of his life behind bars.

In July 2006 he was jailed for five months after racking up his 48th driving conviction.

Five months didn't put him off, did it ? I'd say detention at Her Majesty's pleasure would be more appropriate. It may be more expensive than paying his benefits, but at least you could negotiate the Magic Roundabout without nervously checking the rear-view for him.

Rob Ross, defending Manderson, told the court: "He still has a problem with motor cars. He always will."
Not if he's locked up he won't.

I Didn't Know He Was A Gypsy

"Walter Smith curses Hampden pitch"

Very Neat

I don't always read politics blogs. Sometimes it's just nice to read 'people's lives' blogs. Road of Entities 2 on Nathan. She does write well.

You've got all this to come, Sarah !

A gleam of hope for Labour

"If the rebels prevail, Brown could be ousted in days"

In other news, Prudence goes on crack cocaine, changes name to "Moral Hazard".

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Incredible Expanding Kilo

Over a hundred years ago, the clever-clogs at the French Academy of Science wanted a better standard kilgramme weight, so they got Johnson Mathey of the UK to knock them up a few.

They've been kept in controlled conditions in different locations all over the world. Every 50 years they have a reunion and compare them.

And they keep changing weight.

At the last major kilogram comparison done in and around 1990, some copies had gained as much as 132 micrograms. A few had lost up to 665 micrograms. The United States' No. 20 was 18 micrograms heavier.

There was no way to tell which was changing: Le Grand K, its copies or both.

Perhaps the platinum in the cylinders was sopping up mercury from the atmosphere. Maybe dissolved gas was escaping from the cylinders. One idea was that cleaning the cylinders with distilled water and ether had altered their weights.

"Nobody has a really good idea why," said Davis of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. "It's all speculation."

"“The workers don’t vote for the Left any more"

I know Italy's always had more of a far-left presence than the UK. But that seems to be changing.

Like the brown bear, the radical Left has disappeared. Communists and greens have vanished, at least from parliament. They do not have a single senator or deputy, or at least that’s how it was looking as the most excruciating, awful night in the history of Italy’s Left drew in. In the stunned eyes of the Rainbow people, the night was made even blacker by the triumph of Silvio Berlusconi, the impressive gains of the Northern League and the hard-to-refute claim of its secretary, Umberto Bossi: “The workers have voted for the Northern League”. Pause for effect: “The workers don’t vote for the Left any more. The Northern League is the new workers’ party”.

It's Poverty What Causes Terrorism

The Daily Telegraph has learned that Mr Ibrahim's father, Nassif, is a consultant pathologist at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. He qualified as a doctor in Egypt. His wife, Victoria, is from West Yorkshire.

The couple have another son, Peter, 25, and live in an £800,000 detached home with a walled garden on a private road in the smart suburb of Frenchay. Mr Ibrahim said last night: "I can't talk about this."

There's no doubt that women make better witnesses. No bloke could offer this description :

"I saw him walking down the road last week in a linen cotton outfit with chiffon sides"