Saturday, 29 September 2012

Saturday Six 7 - The (mostly) Lib Dem Conference edition

This week's selection are mostly related to Politics, the Liberal Democrat Conference, and Conference Politics.

First up, Jennie casts her eye over the Lib Dem leadership runners and riders - and succinctly demonstrates why there is no vacancy.

My fellow Bristol Lib Dem Alex Marsh lists what he feels to be the good, the bad and the indifferent things of the conference. His article contains a link to this interesting story by Patrick Wintour in the Guardian. It suggests that even though we pride ourselves on our party democracy, that doesn't mean there is still some element of stage-management going on behind the scenes.

Following on in that theme - this piece from Stephen Tall suggests we need to re-think the way party democracy works in forming policy.

Away from politics, James Allen is concerned about the future of Formula one.

Finally, this piece in The Sun has, understandably, provoked a mixed reaction amongst Lib Dems. Nick achieving "Hero" status in a Murdoch rag was never going to play that well. My view is that it is gives a glimmer of hope of fairer treatment from the papers and I've few problems with it as long as it isn't a sign that this element of the press is being courted. I'm not holding my breath through and reckon Villain status will be restored soon!


Friday, 28 September 2012

Conference Notes - 2

More notes from my experience at the 2012 Lib Dem Conference in Brighton.

The Meedja

There was a sense, at the start of the week, that the media had a pre-written narrative. Party activists would be unhappy with Clegg, a leadership challenge was in the offing and conference would be in a rebellious mood.

None of the above was particularly evident. Whilst it would be foolish to suggest that there aren't those with concerns - after all, if you get 2,000 politically active people together they are going to be a wide variety of views on how to deal with any given issue - there was not a groundswell of opinion against Nick Clegg who was warmly received at all his appearances on the floor of conference.

On the last day I got accosted by a cameraman and reporter who were clearly on a fishing exercise for party members unhappy with the current direction - particularly in regard to taxation policy and the pace of progress towards greater wealth taxes. Some sort of inner filter kicked in and I'm pretty sure all my answers will have ended up on a cutting room floor - whatever my own views were, I'd be damned if I were giving the press more fodder.

[As it happens, of course, my views on the subject and the awareness of the realities of coalition government meant that it wasn't too difficult to be a loyalist in this regard. I merely said that I was confident that the issues were being raised within Government, the extent to which Nick raised the issues in public was a matter for his judgement. On whether greater Wealth taxes would be delivered by 2015 and if Nick would have failed if not, I was (again) confident that the case was being argued by him.]

Random Ministers

Conference exists within a bubble, with most events taking place in the either the conference centre or the conference hotel. You're surrounded by other Liberal Democrats and a security cordon. And you never know who you'll see next with government ministers, party grandees and parliamentarians rushing around.

Those who are more enthusiastic (by which I mean Liberal Youth) are liable to buttonhole ministers and insist on photos. I merely contented myself with a photo of Nick in the exhibition centre, some on the floor of conference and a few conversations with the Bristol West MP Stephen Williams whom I already knew.

Twitter Friends

One of the best thing about conference was meeting lots and lots of people I've previously only known through Twitter. Many hugs were had.

Like Mindedness

I mentioned this above - but it is fantastic to be around lots of people with whom you share a political outlook and philosophy  Whilst you may still disagree on some issues, they are people  who share your instincts, beliefs and values. People who are (broadly) all pulling in the same direction.

Stand-out Moments

There were so many of these - but here are a couple.

The Medically Assisted Dying debate - it's a difficult and emotive issue but one that will not go away, particularly as medical science advances. The amendment proposed in this debate would have called for a Royal Commission to explore the issue further but conference voted for the party to be in favour of allowing it.

The round of applause that greeted Nick when he said during his Q&A session on the floor of conference:
"Were we right or not, in that agonising moment after that last General Election, to enter into Government at all, in a coalition; which by definition includes compromise. To my dying day, I firmly believe that we did the right thing by going into coalition."
Whilst there may be differences between the activists and the parliamentary party and leadership - the vast majority of conference-goers believe that coalition was the right thing to do in 2010. That's something the media should get their heads around.


Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

Conference Notes - 1

As many of you know, I spent Friday to Wednesday in Brighton at the Liberal Democrat Conference. It was a great experience which I loved from beginning to end. My phone died on the way home which gave me ample opportunity to write notes which form the basis of this post.

I've eschewed too much structure and gone for a disjointed, ad-hoc approach to recording my thoughts. I've included some notes on Nick Clegg's key speech - but intend re-reading and/or re-watching before elaborating. It appears my initial opinion at odds with some of my colleagues in the party.

They tried to make me go to Glee Club...

...and indeed I went. When I first heard about glee club (via Twitter at previous conferences), I was deeply sceptical as to whether it would appeal. Even before I headed off to conference, though, I had put it in my diary - and I'm glad I did. It was immense fun although difficult to describe to the uninitiated. After a week of debates, fringe meetings and receptions it is a chance to let your hair down.

The alcohol flows and songs are sung: Liberal Anthems, National (and Regional) Anthems and all sorts of self-parodic songs are performed. We are not afraid to take the mick out of ourselves - which is a healthy trait when you have to put up with some of the stuff our party has to.

Regular Motions

Whilst conference eating can play havoc with your body's processes, there are no shortage of motions being debated on the conference floor. Or maybe there were - depending on your interests. It was notable there were no motions on International matters or policy, for example.

But regardless, the ultimate purpose of conference is to make policy for the party - not to confirm or rubber-stamp policy but to make it.*

Any member can be a voting member (subject to election through their Local Party processes) and can then vote as the see fit on the floor of conference. Lib Dem conference attendees are Representatives, not Delegates.

The tone of debates is civilised with opposing opinions being respectfully heard and applauded - even when the mood of the floor is largely against. The debate I personally enjoyed most was on Medically Assisted Dying - an important issue on which I think it is important for their to be a truly Liberal voice. Conference voted to retain and strengthen our existing policy that Medically Assisted Dying should be provided for by the state.

Another key debate was on the Justice and Security Bill on which party activists voted against the leadership amendment and demonstrated a Liberal freedom of mind.

Lib Dems: Fiscally Responsible, Socially Responsible

This was my immediate summary of Nick Clegg's end of conference speech. He had started the speech by talking of the values of British people as illustrated over the Olympic and Paralympic games and also as evidenced following last summer's riots and identified with them as common to our values. Values which are required to see us through both the challenges facing the Government and the challenges facing the party.

It was, I thought, a positive speech: not defensive but affirmative. With the monkey which was the apology for the Tuition Fees debacle off hiss back, Clegg went back to basics on our Liberal values and the fundamental belief in freedom of opportunity which defines us as a party.

He contrasted us with both Labour and the Conservatives - decrying the Tory backsliding on green issues and insisted that Growth had to be Green Growth.

It was, as I said, positive and uplifting. True, it may not have been soaring oratory but it was measured,  concise and focused; clear and delivered with feeling. It was refreshingly short on bluster and party-political pointscoring. It was about us - as a party and as a party of government.

As I said above, I am going to re-read the speech and write a fuller post - but these were my first reactions.  


*but see tomorrow's Saturday Six for more nuanced background on this...

K25 Part 9 - Flower

I've been away (of which more later) and so I missed the chance to post this on Tuesday: Kylie's new single, from her upcoming Abbey Road Sessions album.

Those of you who have followed this series of posts will recall that the first two - here and here - already featured two songs from those from the sessions; the album looks set to be a cracker!

The single has been released as the latest treat in the K25 celebrations. It's a beautiful ballad which was originally considered for her 10th studio album, X. It wasn't included but was part of the set on the accompanying tour. 

This new version has a sumptuous orchestral backing, and a floaty, dreamy video. It's simply wonderful!



Wednesday, 26 September 2012

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 51

This week's featured NOW! album features one of my favourite songs of all time - the Stereophonics with their version of Handbags and Gladrags. I really couldn't look past this, once spotted:


Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sunday Sounds 54

I've had this week's song stuck in my head for the last few days (or the last few days at the time of writing - suspect by the time you read this, it'll be Autotune Nick that will have that accolade!)

Anyway, it's the Louis Armstrong version that I'm acquainted with, but I found this version by Ethel Waters. Enjoy:


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Saturday Six 6

This week's selection is 83.33% political and 80% of the political posts are party-political. That's only fair given that the Autumn Conference kicks off later today!
First, Caron brings us the party's booklet of achievements in government.
Next Bristol West's Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams has blogged an excerpt from Hansard with his contribution to a debate on the morals of tax evasion. It's an insight into an important issue but also into the conduct of parliamentary debates away from the "highlights" of Prime Minister's Questions.
With regular reports of disgruntled members leaving the party for pastures new, it's good to see that it isn't just a one way street, as this post from Liberal Youth's The Libertine shows.
Mark Reckons that he can't take the opposition seriously. He has a point, as he does about the conduct of Front Line politics in general.
Neil is absolutely right in his analysis of Nick's tuition fees apology both that he needed to get the monkey of his back and that this was directed as much at the party as the public.
To finish, a non-political post from Stephen. This made me smile a lot - Carpe Diem!

Friday, 21 September 2012

A Quote for the Day

By the time this is published, I shall be embarking on my journey to Brighton and the Liberal Democrat party conference.

It's my first, and I'm really looking forward to it - the debates, the fringes, the people. It's going to be non-stop but I'm determined to enjoy and soak up every last bit of the experience.

It's also my first time in Brighton, but am unlikely to see much of it! Although, I am hoping to got to Fishy Fishy tomorrow evening. An advertised fact which drew a thank-you from the proprietor, a certain Mr Dermot O'Leary:

So Dermot gets added to a list which includes, amongst others, Davina McCall, Christine Hamilton and Colin Jackson of famous tweeters who I've exchanged tweets with. But he really isn't the subject of this post.

No, in a move that wasn't in any way contrived, I wanted to find a literary quote relating to Brighton. Quite quickly, I turned to Graham Greene - and found this quote from Brighton Rock:
“A brain is only capable of what it could conceive, and it couldn't conceive what it hasn't experienced”
In an age of Professional Politicians, it is perhaps an apt quote for the week.


Not Safe For Work : Page 3

Question: Why did I feel the need to advertise that this post was Not Safe For Work when every day, up and down the country, millions of men and woman read The Sun at their places of employment and every one of them will see a comparable image?

Every single one of those readers will see page three. Every weekday, a different topless woman will be smiling out at the reader. Every one of them will be reduced to a first name, an age and a location. Kayleigh, 23, Rotherham. Jo, 19, Maidenhead. Helen, 21, Weston-super-Mare.

Page 3 is a misogynistic hangover from an era that has past. It objectifies and marginalises woman in casual, offhand fashion. Through the "News In Briefs" feature (which is genius) it seeks to suggest that this is all tongue in cheek, a bit of fun, harmless. In reality it is inappropriate in the context of a mass-market, family newspaper.

I've no idea whether the image above - taken from The Sun's website on a page last updated in May this year - appeared in the print copy of the paper or not. For the purposes of this post, it matters little. The headline above the picture was "Honeys 4 nothing, Page 3 for free." It's so achingly clever, you almost overlook the underlying implications and assumptions.

It used to be considered acceptable for workmen to wolf-whistle and shout at woman who passed building sites. Then it became frowned upon before it became totally unacceptable. Page 3 is stuck in the era of builders leaning over scaffolding and suggesting that "you don't get many of those to the pound"...

I believe that even The Sun tacitly accepts that Page 3 isn't that appropriate, or appreciated, beyond it's traditional market. If you read the paper on a Saturday, the page 3 girl normally acquires some lingerie (and often is a "celebrity"). Does this suggest that there could be scope to grow or develop their weekday market without page three? Who knows? Perhaps any change will come down to a commercial decision, rather than as the result of a moral or philosophical judgement.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a prude. I'm not generally in favour of banning things and I wouldn't support a ban on page 3. I do think, though, that The Sun should consider dropping it voluntarily, just as The Mirror did around 20 years ago. If men or woman want to look at naked women, there are plenty of other places where they can find such pictures - places where the news won't get in the way.

For more on this, see the ever-excellent Caron's post on the subject - and consider signing the petition to take the bare boobs out of The Sun. In the words of their current advertising campaign: Get Involved.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Hardest Word

Two and a half years ago, Nick Clegg could do no wrong. A nation took him to its bosom, wooed by his direct and personal approach to the TV debates. He wasn't oily like Cameron or stiff and staid like Brown - he was less interest in cheap political point-scoring and more interest in direct down the camera appeals to the people at home.

So popular was he in that first debate that the Cameron moderated his approach in the subsequent debates whilst Brown famously began to parrot his "I Agree With Nick" line. The Lib Dems rose and rose in the opinion polls and Britain was in the grip of a three-way tussle for power...

...ah, yes, those were the days. Happy days. Where did it all go wrong for Nick Clegg?

Well, not enough people voted Liberal Democrat for a start. Too many people who did, voted for us thinking we were some form of LabourLite; paying scant attention to the bit where Nick clearly said "If there's a hung parliament I'll talk to the leader of the party with most seats first." 

Then there was tuition fees, a totemic issue if ever there was one... if only we could have campaigned as hard on tuition fees in the Coalition Agreement as we did in the campaign. Or not campaigned so hard on tuition fees given the likelihood of a hung parliament. 

Ah, if and only; two small words that together add up to so much. We've all uttered them from time to time. If only I'd done this, if only I hadn't done that. If ifs and ands were pots and pans, we'd all be washing up forever.

Fast-forward to today, and the pre-conference Party Political Broadcast. We could have expected a glossy "look at what we've done, imagine how much worse the Tories would have been on their own, Labour have no answers" video. Instead we had Nick, once more speaking directly down the camera. And saying "Sorry". 

When this landed in my inbox, I wasn't sure what I'd make of it but once I'd watched beyond the first quarter, I was genuinely impressed. Such a public mea culpa is a significant moment - it may not change much at this stage in the electoral cycle but it is significant. In a world where we are used to politicians obfuscating, it's refreshing to hear such directness.

It's true that the issue of tuition fees will be on every Labour leaflet at the next election (despite their own form on the issue). It's true that some people will never vote for the party again because of the issue. But it's also true that we needed to have this on the record so that we can move on to focus on more positive achievements.


N.B. My previous thoughts on the issue (from December 2010, are  here . Hopefully now we can begin to move on...)

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 50

And so we reach the half-century of NOW! albums...

... and this week, a band I used to love and, indeed, saw live once. The sublime Travis with "Sing":


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sunday Sounds 53

Years ago, when I was but a teenager, I borrowed a boxset of LPs from my Aunt with strict instructions that I was to make sure I didn't scratch any of the records. It was the "Reader's Digest Hits of the 50's, 60's and 70's" and I loved it - all six discs of it.

One song which stuck in my head - and which inexplicably popped into my mind this week - was Ricky Valance with "Tell Laura I Love Her". Oddly, though, it is the chorus which has stuck with me for the past two and a half decades - I had completely failed to remember the narrative element!

Anyway, I thought it'd make an ideal candidate for a Sunday Sound, and so here it is:


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Saturday Six 5

So here are the six posts I've picked for your delectation this week:

First, Caron reports on the belated (but so so very welcome) appointment of Jo Swinson to the post of Equalities Minister. 

The "How Upsetting" blog dissects the meme that did the rounds on Twitter and Facebook on the appointment of Maria Miller to the Cabinet post of Minister for Woman and Equalities. I fear I may have been one of those who unquestionably retweeted such a post.

Gareth Epps and Mark Thompson are among a number of Lib Dem bloggers who think that Tim Farron shouldn't be re-elected as Party President without an election.

For a contrast to my own review of Anna Karenina, here's Raybeard's opinion.

Finally, a graphic take on Lord Coe's epitaph for London 2012, courtesy of Stephen. It truly was a great summer of sport - and a summer to make Britain proud.


Friday, 14 September 2012

Three months - and counting...

I may have mentioned this before but I'm VERY excited about the first of The Hobbit films... and there's only 3 months left to wait...


Review - Anna Kerenina

You know what it's like: you take a notion to go to the cinema and just rock up and see what's on. You can never be sure what your choice will be - and you may end up seeing something with little advance knowledge. So it was on Saturday when I ended up at the Cineworld in Fountainbridge in Edinburgh. Total Recall and The Bourne Legacy were both tempting - especially Total Recall in IMAX format - but there was a shorter wait for Anna Karenina and so she won out.
Now, my knowledge of the Classics is limited. My knowledge of the Russian Classics is even worse. That said, I had already decided that a little bit of education would do me good and this is the basis on which Anna Karenina was on my list of things to watch.
I was also intrigued by knowing that the film was set in a theatre - having heard about this on the wireless in an interview with the director who had described his experiences of searching for locations. Visiting stately mansions in Britain he would be told how they had been used for previous Keira Knightley films. Visiting similar properties in Russia, he would be told how they had been used for many adaptations of Anna Karenina already. Anxious not to make a retread of previous films he decided on the conceit of using a theatrical setting instead.
Much of the  film inhabits the sumptuous world of the Russian Aristocracy and has a lavish feel with occasional trips to the more austere surroundings of the Karenina family home in St. Petersburg and the impoverished home of one Nikolai Levin. The revolution which is apparently imminent is hinted at reasonably early on by Levin but as the film continued it became more and more apparent that this wasn't going to actually happen on screen. This is probably because, as I now know, the book was published some 30 years prior to it!
Knightley is good as the flighty Anna, bored at home in St. Petersburg with Alexai Karenin (played impressively by Jude Law, although I had to be informed of this afterwards!) and flaunting herself in Moscow Society with another Alexai - Vronsky. Love and Fidelity are fickle friends, though, and those that spurn the love of others are not immune from being spurned in turn.
In the absence of a broader political background - such as the hoped for revolution - the story becomes just a love story. (At this point, I began to wish I had paid closer attention to the posters which touted it as "an epic story of love".) Yes, it is a lavish, complicated, intense love story, but a love story none the less. For an old cynic like me (who is also not a fan of period dramas) this is not a film I would recommend. If epic love stories, sumptuous costumes and theatrically-shot films are your thing, though, then this is going to be a real treat.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

King Richard III, Leicester and Not So Hidden History

I'm not, it has to be said, a huge history buff - or at least, I'm not interested in History for History's sake. For me to get interested, there needs to be a hook or a narrative - like Radio 4's History of the World in 100 Objects, for example. Historical dates and context-less Archaeology leave me dry.

There has, however, been a story that has aroused my interest lately - an archaeological dig in Leicester. Jonathan Calder over on Liberal England visited the dig site on Saturday and reports on the fortuitous circumstances which have led to the discovery of a monastery and Robert Herrick's 17th Century Garden.

What has piqued my (and, of course, many others') interest is that the dig is also looking for the grave of Richard III. I find it intensely fascinating that the grave - and therefore body - of a King can become anonymous and all but disappear from public consciousness. Today it's been revealed that two skeletons have been found - one of which could indeed be that of Richard III. DNA analysis will take some weeks to complete but it truly is fascinating to think that the grave and body could be discovered and verified some 527 years after his death.
Something else has piqued my interest as a result of reading up on this story - how our land ownership laws have shaped our landscape. We tend to think of our cities as modern, vibrant places - and the architecture tends to reflect the wealthy periods of the past - Georgian and Victorian - or the necessary post-war reconstruction of the 60s and the property boom of the 90s. But scratch the surface and the way our forebears divided the land is still evident - as can be seen in this comparison from the BBC website:


NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 49

A slice of Hip-Hop/Rap this week, courtesy of OutKast. Ms. Jackson was one of those tracks that invaded my world from outside my normal range of musical likes. One of those "I'm not a big fan of... but..." moments.

This was their first big hit, followed some three years later by Hey Ya! and Roses. According to Wikipedia the band have been "On Hiatus" since 2007 - and André 3000 has a solo album in the offing... for now, he is one of the faces of Gillette...

Anyway, here is Ms. Jackson:


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Great Scot, Andy Murray's a Great Brit too...

Sean Connery has been in the news again. Along with Sir Alex Ferguson, he's been in New York supporting Andy Murray in the last major of the year, the US Open.

Sir Sean and Sir Alex interupted a press conference to congratulate Murray on winning his semi-final achievements and to - bizarrely - announce that Scotland had invented the world. (Scots may have invented many things but I'm not entirely sure the world was one of them.)

Murray followed up that win with a five set thriller against Novak Djokovic, coming out victorious after near-enough five hours of play. After four previous attempts, he demonstrated the same steel that saw him achieve Olympic Gold against Federer. 

Over the past few years, we've seen Murray mature physically, become less temperamental and become much stronger mentally. We've also seen him demonstrate just how much he wants to win - whether that be through the tears shed after he lost Wimbledon, or the single-minded play that took him to two Olympic medals.

As he has developed as a player and a person, he has become increasingly liked and respected by the public at large. And, of course, he has increasingly become "British" as opposed to "Scottish". Something which Sir Sean takes umbrage at when asked about his success:
"I always felt he had everything and now it's really come to fruition. I met him for the first time a couple of days ago. It's great for Scotland. We've had a really great landslide victory. And stop saying he's British, he's Scottish. I have to go now because the champion is waiting." (emphasis mine)

But why does it have to be either/or? Murray is British as well as Scottish, Scottish as well as British. It's a false dichotomy which many - on both sides of the border - are all too willing to play up. Why do we feel the need to polarise things?

Of course, polarised stories provide a narrative which real life doesn't slot into. In so many walks of life the media story is portrayed as good v. evil, right v. wrong, moral v. immoral when the reality is infinitely more nuanced. It's one of the reasons I don't blog on politics as much as I want to - but so often when a big issue comes out I can see good points and bad points on both sides of any given argument. Politics thrives on creating a polarisation of the issues - practical solutions depend on a more pragmatic approach.

But I digress - why can't I, Murray and millions of other Scots have a dual-identity. If these past few weeks have shown us anything, it is that Britain can be great - it can deliver international sporting events and infrastructure to the highest standard and it can deliver world class sporting performances. Athletes who can come together and contribute to the success of one TeamGB (and I include in that our ParalympicsGB team).

It has shown that the Scots, the Cornish, the Northern Irish, the Welsh, Manx Islanders, the Yorkshirish* can come together for a common goal while retaining different identities. It really isn't that hard a concept.

I'm happy to see Murray referred to as either or both, as long as it's done consistently whether he's won or lost. [A note to my English readers, though: no matter how much you try and make out you're just joking about him being British when winning/ a Scot when losing, it really isn't that funny anymore (and never was). It's time to move on.]

So here's to Andy Murray - a Great Scot and a Great Brit - and here's to many more Major wins! 


*Made up word, obviously.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Saturday Six 4

Welcome to another selection of six blogposts which have caught my eye over the past week. Here are this week's six:

Stephen shared some pictures of his day out at the Olympic Paralympic Park.

There was an interesting and innovative version of One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful" on Michael's blog.

This piece on George Galloway from The Guardian's Clare Allan is bang on the money.

I'm not sure I'm quite there yet, but Nick Barlow makes a cogent argument for ending the coalition government - the reshuffle does nothing to reinvigorate the core reason for the coalition and rather more to give sucker to the Tory Right. Also in relation to the reshuffle, but specifically in relation to the return of David Laws to the Government, I agree with every word of what Mark Reckons.

Finally, I agree with this post from Stephen Tall - Reshuffle Honours are a grubby feature of our Honours system.


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

NOW! That's What I Call A Tune! 48

I said last week that there was lots of bubblegum pop to choose from in this week's album. And there was, but I went for this!:

Enjoy ;-p


Monday, 3 September 2012

We Could Be Heroes - some already are...

My edition of Collins' Concise Dictionary and Thesaurus has this as the first definition of the word "Hero":
hero (ˈhɪərəʊ) n. 1. one greatly regarded for achievements or qualities
This summer Britain has gained a fair few of those - and a number have seen their heroic status enhanced. Mo Farah, Jason Kenny, Jessica Ennis, Katherine Grainger, Greg Rutherford, Ben Ainslie were all Heroes of Team GB (&NI) whose achievements will live long in the memory... 

Likewise, Nicola Adams, Adam Gemili, Luke Campbell, Jade Jones, Gemma Gibbons, Alan Campbell, Charlotte Dujardin - the list is long, I could go on and on... And that's before mentioning international athletes like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Chad Le Clos, Kirani James and Sally Pearson.

The Paralympics have added many, many more names to the list at the (almost) halfway point. Here are just a few of the heroes for Paralympics GB so far, they may not all have won Gold but they do all meet the above definition:

David Weir

Ellie Simmonds

Lee Pearson

Mickey Bushell

Sarah Storey

Terry Bywater

Some great memories and still a week to go...


Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sunday Sounds 52 - Harder Than You Think...

...otherwise known as the Channel 4 Paralympic coverage theme tune.

It's not, obviously, this blog's normal cup of tea (I much prefer a gentle Darjeeling) but it's got stuck in my head as it is played at each ad break - and there have been A LOT of them!

So, here are Public Enemy with Harder Than You Think.


Sunday Sounds 51 - Hal David

The death of Hal David was announced yesterday. He was 91 and had suffered a stroke in March and died of subsequent complications.

Together with Burt Bacharach, he was responsible for a huge canon of great songs - sung by great singers. Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Perry Como, Gene Pitney, The Carpenters amongst many, many others all had hits with Bacharach and David songs. One of their biggest songs - Dionne Warwick's Walk On By - has featured on this blog previously here

For this post, I've chosen Deacon Blue with "I'll Never Fall in Love Again". This was the lead track on their "Four Bacharach and David Songs" EP (the other tracks being "The Look of Love", "Are You There(With Another Girl) and "Message to Michael"). This EP marked the point at which became aware of Bacharach and David as well as their songs.



Saturday, 1 September 2012

Saturday Six 3

Welcome to the third Saturday Six selection of some of the best blogposts and articles I've read over the past week. As ever, it's not a "Top 6", exhaustive or definitive selection - just six that I've earmarked as interesting or notable.
First up, former Lib Dem President Baroness Ros Scott gains an insight into the workings of the TV and Film Production industry and provides an insight into the workings of Parliament and how members acquire knowledge of outside interests.
Nadine Dorries is not someone I would normally read - but this piece is entertaining in as far as she puts the boot into Louise Mensch.
How do you deal with not being selected to compete for your country? David Roberts does it with grace.
Amazingly, this report on Todd Akin is a spoof. It is worrying that I could begin that sentence with the word "amazingly" though.
To round off this half-dozen, two Paralympic related posts; The Independent reflects on the change in meaning and significance of the Games of London 2012 when compared with the Stoke Mandeville Games of 1948. Jeremy Browne reports on agreement with the hosts of future games to promote Human Rights - and on the Government's work more broadly in this area.
And that's it for another week...