It’s Tin Hat Time


Just a couple of items raised a monobrow today. I notice my beloved Blackheath is to receive some help from a terrorist attack. Which is nice.

BBC: London 2012: Olympics missile sites considered for Blackheath and Shooters Hill


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering plans to install surface-to-air missiles in Blackheath and Shooters Hill during the Olympic Games.The MoD said it had taken military advice to identify sites to base the defence systems to protect the skies over London in the event of an attack.Eltham and Plumstead MP Clive Efford said he was concerned at the “lack of consultation”.

The MoD said no final decision had been made to use the air defence systems.Mr Efford said he had now written to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to complain about not being consulted.The Labour MP said the first he heard about the plans was when half a dozen trucks and trailers arrived at Oxleas Wood, near Shooters Hill in his constituency.

‘Alarmed at news’

“I accept there has to be security for the Olympics and inconvenience but there are proper processes to go through,” he said. “I would have expected a full briefing from the minister. This is a site of special scientific interest so I was alarmed when I heard. I have no idea of the scale of this plan and what damage might happen.”

Whether or not the local MP is a little bit naive expecting a full briefing is a moot point, but if the MOD could point their Exocets towards the heavy lorries that daily get stuck in the Blackwall Tunnel, that would help immeasurably. They’d get a perfect view from the top of Shooters Hill too.

Then there was this in The Guardian today:

As a metaphor for the London Olympics, it could hardly be more stark. The much-derided “Wenlock” Olympic mascot is now available in London Olympic stores dressed as a Metropolitan police officer. For £10.25 you, too, can own the ultimate symbol of the Games: a member of by far the biggest and most expensive security operation in recent British history packaged as tourist commodity. Eerily, his single panoptic-style eye, peering out from beneath the police helmet, is reminiscent of the all-seeing eye of God so commonly depicted at the top of Enlightenment paintings. In these, God’s eye maintained a custodial and omniscient surveillance on His unruly subjects far below on terra firma….

…Critics of the Olympics have not been slow to point out the dark ironies surrounding the police Wenlock figure. “Water cannon and steel cordon sold separately,” mocks Dan Hancox on the influential Games Monitor website. “Baton rounds may be unsuitable for small children.”

In addition to the concentration of sporting talent and global media, the London Olympics will host the biggest mobilisation of military and security forces seen in the UK since the second world war. More troops – around 13,500 – will be deployed than are currently at war in Afghanistan. The growing security force is being estimated at anything between 24,000 and 49,000 in total. Such is the secrecy that no one seems to know for sure.

During the Games an aircraft carrier will dock on the Thames. Surface-to-air missile systems will scan the skies. Unmanned drones, thankfully without lethal missiles, will loiter above the gleaming stadiums and opening and closing ceremonies. RAF Typhoon Eurofighters will fly from RAF Northolt. A thousand armed US diplomatic and FBI agents and 55 dog teams will patrol an Olympic zone partitioned off from the wider city by an 11-mile, £80m, 5,000-volt electric fence.

All this should give walking around London this summer that warm, cosy feeling. It’ll be just like a Richard Curtis movie. Especially the ones he directed starring Wesley Snipes and Liam Neeson shooting the fuck out of everything. The English Tourist Board must be loving it. And all this just to make wads of cash for Seb, Boris and their cronies. Maybe my missing out on tickets for the heats of the Individual Synchronized Swimming was a blessing in disguise after all ? Are they putting frogmen in the pool ? Buster Crabbe sitting at the bottom of the deep end, should the famous Al Qaeda Underwater swim-team decide to invade ?

I’m not sure how much concentration I could manage if I was competing in the Archery or the 1 yard Air Pistol if I could sense either a ground-to-air missile at the other end of the field, primed and ready to go; or the threat of a hooded loony’s AK47 spitting bullets all over the place.  I’d want more than a BB Gun or a bow-and-arrow to defend myself with.

The English Cricket team have got it right: They’re bad enough without going out to bat in Sniper Alley in downtown Lahore. I’m not sure I’d be able to pick a googly if I thought the mad mullahs were using my temples as target practice. So they refuse to play in Pakistan. They’d much rather be humiliated and beaten in the UAE. I wonder how long it will be before Olympic national teams decide not to visit a country marked down in the book by religious extremists as Satan’s Little Helper ?

Maybe not. That would be taken as a huge diss and insult to the Old Country. They wouldn’t dare upset old Dave.

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Flood Warning Update


I am being moved immediately from Kings College Hospital, London to Darenth Valley Hospital, Dartford.

The consultant assures me this has nothing to do with the position of the Thames Flood Barrier at Woolwich and the expected developments in the area of my digestive system.

See you in the Allotment of England.

The Field Trip


They once took us on a school field trip to Greenwich Park to look at the observatory. Thirty 12-year-old kids bored out of our minds with the solar system, although excited to think we were lightyears away from home, when in reality it was more like 10 miles. Looking back on it we must have learnt something, and we must have behaved ourselves because next year we went to London Zoo.

We had a food fight in the Zoo’s lecture theatre and the school was banned from ever returning. Why would you take 13 year-olds to a zoo an stick them in a lecture theatre ? You wouldn’t wanna take them to see the lions of the gorillas or anything, would you ?

Fortunately for them, Kendall wasn’t on that trip. He was busy in a  Montgomery County, Alabama. The bloke’s a natural. Or rather he’s unprocessed and raw.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Taking of Eltham 132


I was all over the place this morning, in every sense. I don’t suppose staying awake for most of the night to watch the latest demolition of the Aussie cricket team will have helped with my fuzziness, though one would have thought having watched our brave lads once again stuff it up em would have brightened my mood immeasurably. Even so, as I left Railway Cuttings around 12.30 this lunchtime I was aware that I was a particularly tired and miserable old Hector.

I needed to pick up something down in North Greenwich at the O2. The Dome. The Millennium Bivouac or whatever it’s called this week. Then from there I needed to go to Eltham to deposit a cheque into my good friends Nathaniel Westminster & Co. It was cold and damp as I trudged up to the village to catch the first of the buses I needed to use to navigate my way around SE London. After twelve steps along the road it started raining with feeling. My mood didn’t improve much.

As I yomped by the infants school on the way, the teachers were yelling at the kids to get inside out of the rain. I don’t remember my schoolmasters calling us in out of the playground to get dry. I’m sure we ended up huddled under a tree in the corner, fatties on the inside, skinnies on the outer (sorry, the phone lines for this week’s quiz question “Where did Bealing stand?” have been closed).

Come to think of it, when we were their age we were never issued sun hats in the summer nor reflective vests when we went on school trips, but the hats seem to be de rigueur whenever the sun peeps through and my train to London is often full of little yellow herberts looking like an Oompa Loompa chain gang. When we went out on school trips we were pretty much left to our own devices. They counted us out and counted us in, rounding up any odd numbers. Or down – no two teachers ever counted us in the same way. We once lost thirteen kids on a trip to London Zoo. Five of them are still missing, presumed eaten.

But I digress.

Up to the bus stop, my coat sopping wet by now, to join the end of a queue of five or six other poor sodden sods. The electronic sign on the bus shelter said the 108 bus to North Greenwich would be 7 minutes. Sure enough, 11 minutes later it arrived. The people ahead of me filed onto the bus, one by one, until it was my turn to take the step up on board. Just as I was about to do so, and with military precision some young, complete cabbage, replete with man-bag and ipod ran up the hill towards us and with one bound leapt in front of me onto the footplate and got on board ahead of me. I was shocked and stunned, and not a little amazed. However, true to form, I kept my feelings of deep resentment and savage anger to myself. My only concession to my fury was to bark at the middle of my voice “Jesus! there are a lot of rude bastards around”. But the object of my disaffections had long since moved along the bus, and anyway his earphones were clamped to his lugholes so he was deaf to my rantings (thank christ: he was a big unit).

Alighting at the Dome, I quickly went about my business and after no more than fifteen minutes I found myself in another queue, this time waiting for the 132 bus to Eltham which, as if to catch us all by surprise, arrived on time. There wasn’t a seat to be had, so me and this rather plump, elderly woman (almost indistinguishable nowadays) carrying numerous heavy shopping bags stood rather closely together in the well usually reserved for baby buggies and wheelchairs. I would have happily sat in either if they were available. The old girl looked knackered and I wasn’t sure she’d make the trip.

Facing us, virtually touching the old lady’s knees, sat a thirty-something couple. He had an accent – either American or Canadian (to my shame I still can’t differentiate one from the other) – and had clearly been in the country a lot longer than his partner as he was going through his shopping bags, minutely detailing and explaining the buys therein. Clearly both the food and toy Departments of Tescos in nearby Bow had taken a bit of a pounding.

“This is Clue” he bellowed at a rather irritating volume “but for some reason they call it ClueDO over here”. She was sitting right next to him. Why was he shouting? “I can’t figure why they’d wanna change the name.”

He pulled out the next item from his jamboree bag. “And see ? They have Peanut Butter Cups here. I didn’t think they had them over here. I looked for them for weeks. But now it turns out they totally do. So I bought some. Awesome. It’s so tough to find anything over here that you really need.”

“Wow!” said the girl, looking as if she was feigning both interest and consciousness. I felt a touch of the Basil Fawltys coming over me. (“I’m sorry if the road wasn’t wide enough, a lot of English cars have steering wheels”)

If it wasn’t for the wilting poor cow next to me, I could have put up with this loud, irritating twat. As it was, I was getting a little concerned that the old girl was buckling. Eventually, remembering my annoyance at the queue-jumper earlier, added to my irritation at this boring git in front of me, I could no longer help myself.

“Scuse me for butting-in, mate,” I was leaning in close to him so as not to make too much of a scene “but you might be interested in another couple of strange things we do over here ?”

“Oh yeah?  Like what ?”. He seemed genuinely interested.

“Well,” I continued “For starters, when we see an old lady nearly collapsing in front of us, we often get up and offer her our seat. We also use phrases like ‘oh I’m sorry’ and ‘excuse me, would you like to sit down?’ ”

He looked embarrassed, as did his girlfriend. He jumped to his feet and hurried the old biddy into the seat. “Sorry, man, I didn’t realise” he offered.

“Don’t apologise to me, mate” I retorted, “apologise to that lady, you ignorant fucker”. I think that one broke down any language barrier ok.

For the remainder of the trip I buried  my head into my phone messages, my work here being done. The rude and boring Canuks/Yanks got off soon after our exchange. The old lady and I swapped knowing glances. Her my Damsel in Distress, me her Shite in Whining Armour. Or is that armor?

I had finally woken up. I was on a roll. And just in time to visit the bank. That was bound to cheer me up.

 

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MOVEMBERADVERT

We’re Putting the Band Back Together


Some Bands Should Never Reform

Do you remember Madstock ? Were you there in Finsbury Park in 1992 when those Nutty Boys took north London by storm with their reunion concert? I was. Bloody marvellous it was too. Madness were supported by Ian Dury who went through the card with hit after hit after hit. The crowd went mad, and I had a little drinky in celebration of my luck.

Morissey, who was also on the card, nearly went through the back of the stage as the Madness fans at the front booed him off, aided and abetted by (mainly) plastic pint pots of lager which they threw at the singer before he made a tactical retreat and exited stage left. I could never work out why anyone would put Madness and Morrissey on the same bill. Perhaps the Smith mistook the skinheads who followed the Magnificent Seven to hold the same long-alleged racist views as he ? I suspect it took him about four seconds to realise draping yourself in the Union flag, and using neo-fascist imagary as a backdrop probably wasn’t the way to endear him to this crowd. He was lucky to get out alive. And we were lucky the set was cut short.

(Morrissey, in his defence, would say he was as racist as the next man. Especially if the next man was Eric Clapton.)

However, when Suggs and co finally took to the stage this drunken, sun-blushed crowd really went beserk. I’d like to report that the band had lost nothing of their lustre, their fun and their sharpness. The fact that I can’t is due to the fact I could here nothing whatsoever over the screaming of the fans around me. I’ve never been in a crowd which exploded in quite such a magnificent, if violent manner, as this news item from the time tells us:

According to the UK’s Health Protection Agency: “One of the most bizarre investigations conducted by British Geological Survey using its seismic network, was in connection with an earthquake reported to be felt strongly in North London in August 1992 when three blocks of flats (8-9-storeys) were evacuated following minor damage that included cracked windows and a cracked balcony. Our seismic network showed that there had not been an earthquake or an explosion, and we were able to deduce that the cause was resonance set up by dancers at a Madness rock concert in nearby Finsbury Park.

There’s something about reunion concerts. Led Zepplin‘s 2007 reunion bash was hailed as something akin to the Second Coming (though not in my house). When The Eagles took to the stage once more in 1994, they sold out huge venues all over the world (that tour is still going on I think). Elvis’s 1968 Comeback Special is rightly lauded as something of a TV milestone. A studio filled with transfixed teenagers, squeal with delight as The King sweats his way through set after set, with big dance numbers, a fantastic unplugged session, and a hit list to die for.

Francis Albert Sinatra, of course, liked a comeback or two.

However, not all comebacks are eagerly awaited, or even successful, come to that. I have reported on these pages (see Because William Shatner) that bands such as Duran Duran who want to relive their youth really should gen up on the words to their hits before going on the road again.

Every few months or so you see a news item that such-and-such are reforming. There are perennial rumours that The Jam are getting back together, and I hear a terrifying account that Mick Hucknall is to lead a re-constituted Faces, Ronnie Wood-and-all.

But among all these rumours and speculation, one piece of news is sure to warm the cockles of any true music fan. After what seems like months out of the picture, Chas and Dave are reforming! Yes, I know, great isn’t it? Anyone who witnessed C&D’s gig at The Blackheath Halls 18 months ago will know that it was like watching Jean Michel Jarre in a vest, such was its enormity. If songsters such as Bono and Jagger only took the time in between numbers to discuss with the audience the growing of beetroot and radishes in their allotment then perhaps their careers may well take off.

March next year sees the comeback gig at the O2, (ok Indigo at the O2), and I for one will be there (I’ll be the fat bloke standing next to Howard). People of south east London are advised to keep their animals indoors, give granny her pills and nail down any breakables: There’s an earthquake a-coming.

45 Year Old Man Gets Hurt


Long before helmets, without a thigh pad, an arm guard or a chest pad to protect him,  45-year-old Brian Close was selected by England to face Whispering Death,  Michael Holding.  Terrifying

Here’s what wikipedia has to say about it:

In 1976, the 45-year-old Brian Close was called up for the first three Tests in England’s five-Test series against the West Indies. In the second innings of the third Test at Old Trafford, Close’s final Test innings, Close opened with the 39-year-old John Edrich. Michael Holding, Andy Roberts and Wayne Daniel, a trio of fast bowlers, pounded them for two and a half hours. It was one of the most brutal displays of fast bowling ever seen. Wisden said, “Close and Edrich defended their wickets and themselves against fast bowling, which was frequently too wild and hostile to be acceptable”.

Close himself said, “It must have been the worst wicket I experienced in Test cricket. The faster the West Indians bowled the worse it got because the balls broke through the surface of the wicket. They exploded and flew at you.” With this innings of 20 runs off 108 balls in 162 minutes Close completed his Test career, under a vicious barrage, standing tall and taking the damage as he had against the West Indies at Lord’s 13 years earlier.

After that, both Close and Edrich were dropped for the fourth Test.

Thanks, chaps.

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Browned Off


“Ooh, you do look well !” she said
“You should see it from my side” I replied, unconvinced
“Been anywhere nice and sunny ? you have a tan”
“Not really”
“Didn’t you go to Amsterdam? Did you get stranded?”
“Yes. No”

I wasn’t really in the mood for idle persiflage. It was my first day back at work and I had more on my mind than how well I looked. The longer you take off work, the harder it is coming back. Perhaps I should take every other day off ? My colleague went back to her desk and I settled down at mine, turned on my pc and surveyed the scene. It was all exactly as I remembered. Same desks, same pile of work on top of mine, same people. Bugger.

Another workmate approached. “Christ you look well ! Where did you get that colour from ?”
“South East London” I said, not looking up.
“Ha ! Yeah, right”

It was partly true. The only real exposure to any sun I’d had over the past fortnight’s holiday was in my garden on Saturday and standing on the touchline on Sunday, watching a rugby match. Last weekend was the first time this year the UK has been blessed with warm sunshine and I decided to get me some of it. It’d been a long while since I’d had the chance to potter in the back yard, tending the plants and chatting with my old mates the blue tits and blackbirds, returning to my little patch of land to make merry, like old mates who’d been away on their hols for the winter. The return of my old mate the sun on my back was more than welcome.

Sunday, of course, saw the return of The London Marathon- a huge event in my part of town as 36,000 runners run around and along the streets, with plenty of vantage points to cheer on the Elite Ladies and the Complete Nutcases. It’s also long been my particular social event of the year and once again I was stood in a bar at 9am, this time with The Incumbent and keen ‘sports’ enthusiast, Shaun.

We managed to get a couple in before the lead women sped by the pub (in truth we missed the leaders as I’d mis-timed my-round) but thereafter we spent the morning, Guinnesses in hand, cheering and clapping on the masses as they jogged by. I met a couple of other old mates, Matt and Andy, who seemed pleased to see me, but neither would come in for a pint, try as a might to persuade them. Maybe it was too early on a Sunday morning for them, or maybe it was simply that they were trying to complete a marathon, I just don’t understand people.

Once the runners had all passed, and we’d taken advantage of a roast Sunday lunch, I suggested we finish off the day down at the rugby club, where there was a chance to meet more old friends, and maybe, just maybe, the bar would be open there too.

I’m happy to report I was correct on both assumptions. The sun shone, the beer flowed (we even watched a bit of rugby) and the gay badinage and repartee with the old gang went long and late into the evening. At least it would have done if our designated driver not been summoned to pick us up at 5.30. It was a fair call. We’d been on the beer since 9am and although a time of 8 hours 30 wouldn’t threaten any record books, our marathon had clearly run its course.

Back in the office on Monday. “Morning Mike, cor! you look well” chirped a happy voice passing.
“Well it’s either the blood pressure or adrenaline” I huffed, already tired of these alleged compliments. That bloke is a crawler anyway.

After a few hours the effects of the day before, coupled with first-day-back blues, had started to kick in. I popped some ibuprofen to clear my head. Ibuprofen is a double-edged sword for me: It’s the only drug that cures my headaches, but there’s something in it which I’m allergic too. Within an hours of taking it I come out in hives. Red blotchy lumps start appearing all over my back, my head and my face. It’s not a pretty sight. At their height, and to coin a popular phrase of the moment, I look like a beekeeper’s apprentice.

The afternoon wound on, with all the pain and sorrow I remembered so well from when last I was in the office, two weeks previously. I was beginning to wilt.

“Hello Mike, CHRIST you look awful ! You alright, mate?” came the assessment from the bloke at the coffee bar. My hives were in their pomp.

“No, not really, I need a holiday”

The Allotment of England


I was born in Erith and went to school in Dartford. If you didn’t, this may not be your cup of tea. However, if either of these places are dear to your heart, then have a listen to this half hour of Mark Steel (Swanley boy, above) on BBC Radio 4 tonight. Very funny. (Unless that offends anyone at all then I retract it, of course)

Mark_Steels_in_Town_Series_2_Dartford

I suppose this will drop off into the biosphere very soon, so many apologies if Auntie Beeb removes it . It’s an acquired taste for locals. The rest of you can jog on.

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The J.R.Hartley Experience


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I used to collect hats.

Now I don’t.

I’ve always had a penchant for a titfer and over the years have amassed a decent collection of bowlers, stetsons, pith helmets, trilbies and the like. There was something rather satisfying in strolling past a market junk stall, or an old charity shop and seeing, maybe, a French gendarme’s kepi or a Soviet forage cap laying there under a pile of old tutt and snapping it up for a couple of bob.

If anyone went away on holiday or assignment, I’d invariably ask them to bring me back ‘an indigenous hat’. Many a mate, family member or colleague cursed me as they lugged a dirty great bush hat, sombrero or headdress through customs, looking for all-the-world like some berk from Barnsley back from Torremolinos, circa 1974.

T’internet stopped all that, or to be more precise eBay stopped all that. There’s no challenge or worth in going online, tapping in “Japanese drinking hat” and being offered 78 different alternatives for sale online, many of them from Colchester or Orpington. Where’s the hunt? Where’s the chase?

So I stopped.

I still have them, hanging on various walls around the house, as part of the décor- in the same way you probably have flying ducks, bonsai trees or horse-brasses on the walls of your little hovel in Dulwich. And there they hang, collecting dust and occasionally comments from visitors, such as “What the fuck were you thinking?”. Most have never been worn in anger, as I have a head that doesn’t suit a hat. If I wear a homburg, I look like a fat tory, wear a Stetson I look like a fat tourist (see above) and so on and so forth.

Every so often I don one for that special occasion, such as the time I wore a white Rorke’s Drift pith helmet to the Oval in 2005 to watch us win back the Ashes from the Australians (ok, the headgear would have been more appropriate had we’d been playing the South Africans, but you get my drift). Having watched the match and drunk South London dry, I staggered back to London Bridge station, slumped on a bench and awaited my train. I was wasted. It was about 8 o’clock in the evening. A fella in a suit approached me. He looked at my attire: Pith Helmet, England replica cricket shirt, khaki, knee-length shorts and desert boots.
“Been to the cricket, mate?” he politely enquired.
“No, you c*nt! I’ve been to the opera!” and off he jogged.

So anyway.

My collection of cookbooks is rapidly rivalling my hat collection, albeit the books are slightly more useful than the hats ever were. I love a bit of cooking and do like a little experiment in the kitchen. Nothing better than trying (and succeeding at) a recipe for the first time, especially when your mum’s in town (always the hardest to impress). One of my favourites is simply called Curries by Mridula Baljekar (usual spelling, no relation). Published in 2006, it previously went under the name of Curry (beware of imitations), and a superb little book it is too. Nicely illustrated, simply designed and dozens upon dozen of simple yet gorgeous Rubies to tuck in to. I heartily recommend it. At least I would if you could go buy it.

curries

The Incumbent (or, for the purposes of this story, the Mehm Sahib) on having been at the sharp end of my culinary experiments for some time, expressed an interest in buying her son a copy of this said book. I agreed: simple to follow, nicely laid-out (that’s the book, not the Mrs) and doesn’t have you shinning up exotic trees looking for odd and unlikely ingredients. Off she popped and logged on to Amazon. Curries by Mridula Baljekar, Southwater Press. MRP £8.99. (it said on the back of my copy anyway). No new copies were available. There was in the Used and New section on offer for- wait for it- £ 144.95, for sale by a bloke in the States. That’s an 8.99 book going for 145 quid! It’s not THAT fucking good !

There were other offerings by the same author, including the aforementioned Curry, but you never know, do you? Curries is what she wanted, plural. Curry in the singular, may be missing that vital Taka Dahl entry, or may not have the nice pics of that Chicken Tikka. In any case, it can’t be the same book or they wouldn’t have re-named it! eBay was no more help. Not even an old copy for 200 quid. Nothing.

So it’s back to the good old shoe leather approach. I shall walk the streets of London through the junk and antique shops of Greenwich, the second-hand bookshops of Soho, or at the very least, Bluewater Shopping Mall until I find the volume I seek. It’s gonna be, I suspect, a long slog but it’ll be a little quest and a test, a hunt and a chase. Think of the thrill I’ll get when I find it?? Much more satisfying to find after Planet WWW tells me it doesn’t exist! I might pick up a hat along the way too.

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Tomorrow belongs to the BNP


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How am I expected to keep up with all this? Truth is, I just can’t. Andrew MacKay and Julie Kirkbride, Elliot Morley and John Maples etc etc etc: You win. I shall revert to rants about cricket and rugby and booze and the police and shopping and gardening. Anything really other than MPs’ expense claims. You lot are much funnier than me on this anyway. The only thing that won’t be funny is that people are going to be so off-pissed with the major parties that the rascists and the loonies will gain ground at the ballot box next time round. You fraudsters and scheisters should hang your heads. And I’m sure they’ll be lots more like you along any minute.

I was once hauled up in front of the beak—a particularly nasty, petty editor— who questioned my claim for a lunch with a friend on another publication who’d helped me/us on a really big story. He’d passed me phone numbers and details without which we couldn’t keep up with the then breaking news. Partly because of his help we looked sensational when we published. I took him out one afternoon and I treated him to a curry and a pint in a local restaurant. The bill came to 70 quid, 35 of which was treating myself (I wasn’t gonna let him eat alone).
An ex-colleague once tried to claim for mileage of 40 miles for a round-trip from Canary Wharf to The Millennium Tent in Greenwich. I wondered if he’d gone via Heathrow? Claim refused. Another ex-colleague tried to put her weekly visit to the hairdressers on expenses. Her ruse was discovered and she was shown the door. I’ve been using my own camera for and at work for 6 years now as I was refused funds to claim the cost of buying it, even though my job requires one. (Guess what’s coming out the door with me when I leave?). That’s ok—it’s dead money, but I was miffed at the time. There are always swings and roundabouts in the whacky world of expenses. All trades and professions deal with this. Some we win, some we lose.
Point is, even those jolly journos who are masters of the Dark Arts of dodgy expense forms, the Shakespeares of the blank-receipt have been left open-mouthed at the scale and brazenness of the Commons’ Claims Chronicles. They’ve been out-Shakespeared and want their pound of flesh. Well they’re getting it now, by the moat-load. But if you listen very carefully you’ll hear the unmistakable sound of the BNP and UKIP Nazis marching in tight formation into Brussels and towards a council chamber near you as the undecided are conned by their rhetoric. Not so funny any more, is it?

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Peter Finch—Network

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