The Sharks go to London

Although we only live about 45 miles north of London – that’s about 30 minutes on a fast train – Mrs Shark and I very rarely venture into it.

However, as we really wanted to go to the excellent France Show at Olympia and had already paid for tickets, we decided to gird up our lions, brave the weather and place ourselves at the tender mercies of public transport.

We left home by bus and after a very quick (some parts of the route were left out due to snow) and uneventful journey, we arrived at Central Milton Keynes Station, just in time to catch a London Express which was only delayed by about 10 minutes. So, one quick train ride later, we were soon standing outside of Euston Station with a cigarette and a cup of coffee bracing ourselves for the Underground.

It was remarkably uncrowded and we had a good journey to West Brompton – the best station to use for Olympia 2.

(Yes, I know this is all very prosaic, but we really don’t go to London much!)

We’d attended the France Show last year, when moving to France permanently was but a germ of an idea, but now, 12 months later, we now had a sense of purpose, having found a buyer for our place (fingers crossed!). We knew what we wanted to find out, so we circled the stands we needed to visit on the program and set forth.

We  managed to find some useful people to talk to and get advice from – Credit Agricole for setting up a French bank account, currency exchange people for transferring money and also property agents for renting and then buying.  Everyone seemed very helpful and we now have some useful contacts for advice. We also gathered a stack of material to read at home.

We saw some celebs there, too.

I almost knocked Jean-Christophe Novelli over in my haste to get to the loo. He was just coming out from ‘backstage’ to demonstrate some sort of seafood cuisine and we almost collided…

Then there was a bookstand, with Carol Drinkwater (now an author, but probably best remembered for her TV role as James’ Herriot’s wife in that vet series) and Kate Mosse (author of the excellent ‘Labyrinth’, set partly in one of my favourite places on earth, Carcassonne).

But the real treat was meeting John Dummer.

John used to lead a blues band in the late 1960s and early 1970s – the John Dummer Blues Band. They were never as big as Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall, or even Chicken Shack, but they were a splendid band which I saw a few times back then. They were slightly lighter than most blues bands of the day and featured fiddle. They had a sort of country and folk tinge too, which set them apart from the rest. They had a big hit in France with ‘Nine by Nine’ which was used for a cheese advert and then released to become a best-seller.

He was also a member of Darts, which had several hits and which people probably remember more than his blues stuff.

Now, he’s an antique dealer living in France and he’s also an author. I bought his book, ‘Serge Bastarde Ate my Baguette’ and he kindly signed it for me. A nice guy and great to meet the leader of one of my favourite 1960s blues bands.

Anyway, laden with brochures, books, nougat, lavender soap and freebies (USB pen drives and keyrings with discs for using in supermarket trolleys) we decided to head back to Euston in case some trains were cancelled.

We got to Euston nice and easily via a still uncrowded tube and, whilst having a pre-journey coffee and smoke outside the station, managed to spot one more celeb. It was Johnny Vegas, leaning against a pillar near the entrance having a smoke and yawning. He looks much smaller in real life…

Having esconced ourselves on a nice warm train, there was an announcement that there would be a delay due to a technical fault. This then led to a series of announcements that an engineer had been called out, the engineer was working on the fault, the engineer was still working on the fault, etc, so we disembarked to find a working train.

We found one, settled in for the journey and then…

“We apologise for the delay, but we’re waiting for the train manager.”

We then heard that he had been delayed on a train from Preston.

About 20 minutes later, the manager must have arrived because the train pulled out of Euston and sped us back to Milton Keynes. Another bus journey and we were home.

All in all, 8 hours out but not bad for public transport, not to mention the inclement weather.

But would I ever give up my car and go fully ‘public’?

Would I fuck…

The futility of the City protests

It was only 3 days ago, but the G20 protests just seem like ancient history to me today.

Two things stick in my mind about them:

1) How the protesters assumed the guy who died last Wednesday was a fellow protester –  he wasn’t – and that he was the victim of police brutality – he wasn’t.

2) A photo of two guys meditating at the Climate Camp on the BBC News site.

The photo amused me greatly and some exploration of blogs has thrown this gem up:

The scheduled activities in the Camp were:

(1) Buddhist meditation;

(2) how to fight climate change with poetry; and

I thought the meditation thing was a bit daft – not to say fucking moronic as even the Dalai Lama himself (and he knows a shitload about meditation) admits that meditation won’t alter climate change – but the poetry thing is even dafter…

e j thribb was there, I hope.

You can only imagine the quality of the ‘poetry’…

It’s too easy to rip the piss out of the climate change lunatic fringe, really…it’s way more sporting harpooning sperm whales in a jacuzzi…

I suppose that the main question is, did the protests actually achieve anything?

Well, to read some of the slightly more outre blogs you’d think that they did, but empirical evidence would suggest otherwise, and the protests just look more ineffective and ludicrous with each passing hour.

Basically a few thousand politically-naive young people had a couple of nice sunny days out and a few of them smashed shit up.

That’s all it was.

If you were a protester and it didn’t quite turn out to be as much fun as you thought it was going to be then don’t fucking take part in protests – they’re not meant to be fun days out for the bored and intellectually-challenged.

So…here’s to the next protest …they’ve happened before and they’ll happen again…

…but they won’t change a fucking thing.

Apologies for the repeat plugging!

I know I only blogged about this a couple of days ago, but I urge you to watch the short film here.

Two students go to the G20 Meltdown on April 1st to see if they can spot any anarchists.

Without giving the game away, they can – but they also get a bit more than they bargained for.

Great film – witty, involved and involving but taking no high moral tone and it gives you a real feel for what went on that day without the BBC’s tactics of always showing you the worst.

Please see it – it deserves as wide an audience as possible!

The G20 death – predictable hysteria

So, someone died at the G20 protests yesterday.

Here’s the story so far according to the Guardian, who seem to find nothing suspicious about the death.

Predictably, people in the anti-G20 camp are now calling him ‘a hero’ when it isn’t even clear whether he was involved in the protests or just going home.

The hysterical response to the rumours surrounding the guy’s death is well displayed by the Twitter feed in an anarchist’s blog:

  • @ahsbenton: i.e thank god we’re all ok, not thank god the poor guy died. I’m sitting in front of the laptop crying. What the hell happened? about 18 hours ago
  • Thank god. Christ, I don’t recognise this country anymore. about 18 hours ago
  • Oh my god. A guy’s just died at the G20 protests.

She really ought to do a spot of research first and not go all Hollywood on us.

After all, she is a journalist writing for…er…why, the Guardian!

This same blogger also commented:

Did you hear that a guy died at Climate Camp? Jesus…

He was nowhere near the Climate Camp…

But back to the main point.

People suddenly die all the time – sometimes after living a perfectly healthy life with no illnesses or sign of illness whatsoever.

I bet someone else collapsed and died in London yesterday.

It happens, not that makes it any less tragic for the deceased’s family, but to ascribe  such a death to something rather more sinister is just a cynical ploy that shits over any respect for the dead person.

Fucking Leila Deen again

Oh FFS…why are they giving Leila fucking Deen column inches at the Guardian?

I’m going to puke soon…’vegan cake’…’social activist’…’revolutionary change’…’popular power’…

I’m totally fucking sick of being preached at by middle class twats trying to champion the working classes and ‘reclaim the streets’ as if it’s some sort of charitable secondment between taking their masters and their doctorate or some sort of bizarre first grown up holiday away from mummy and daddy.

Fuck ’em all – the only reason they’ve got what they’ve got today is because of the very system they despise.

All this, of course, on the eve of the G20 summit and the planned antics of Climate Camp, G20 Meltdown and others.

I sincerely hope it all goes off peacefully tomorrow and that the police, as well as the demonstraters, behave sensibly.

Thank fuck I don’t have to go anywhere near London tomorrow.

Derek Simpson takes the piss

In the interests of balanced blogging, I must mention this recent story.

It isn’t just grasping cabinet ministers and disgraced bank chairmen who’re taking the piss.

To put it into some sort of proportion, every time Derek Simpson checks into his £399 a night hotel, he spends on his members’ behalf over three times the maximum subscription rate of about £120 a year.

The union’s reponse to the revelation in the press that its leader had been pissing away such large amounts of its members’ dosh was that

“Mr Simpson did stay at the Waldorf Hilton hotel on the nights mentioned as this was operationally appropriate for his commitments at the time.

“He is the joint leader of a multi-million-pound organisation, in which capacity he represents our members in dealings with employers of all sizes, including leaders of global companies as well as government.

“It would be undermining to his ability to deliver for those members if the union prioritised cheapness of accommodation above appropriate facilities and location as necessary for the particular event.”

Now, I’m not expecting Simpson to spend the night in a dosshouse, but surely he doesn’t need to blow £400 a night on a hotel?

Here’s a nice looking hotel for a quarter of that and only 5 minutes from his offices in Covent Garden.

It seems quite adequate to me.

If the union is that bothered about what amounts to ‘keeping up appearances’ then maybe it should be less concerned about placing Simpson in luxury accomodation and more concerned about not looking like yet another organisation that allows its bosses to misuse their positions of responsibility and buttfuck the people who put them in those positions in the first place.

Of course, such a volte face would show that Unite’s leadership was more concerned about the feelings of its members than about the comfort of of its leaders…

To judge by the many comments I’ve come across, it seems that many Unite members wish that this was so.

If I was a Unite member, I’d be asking for this former Communist’s bollocks on a fucking plate.

More on this miserable cunt here and here.

Irony revisited

Now that Jacqui Smith has stated that she can justify her trousering of £116 000 of taxpayers’ dosh in second home expenses, let the questioning commence!

If Ms Smith has done nothing illegal then she has nothing to fear.*

Indeed, given that she has a police and Special Branch guard at all times it should be extremely easy to find out how long she spends at her sister’s place in London. Her movements would be very closely logged.

What a good job we have those wonderful policemen watching our every move!

*The pubic hair on the soap in all this is that even though Ms Smith may well have done nothing illegal, it just looks very bad when many people are scrabbling about trying to keep their first and only home…

Twat of the Day

I’m afraid I have to disagree with many people’s opinion that Boris Johnson – the Mayor of London – is a loveable buffoon.

Personally, I think he’s a fucking idiot.

In this BBC interview the floppy-haired cocktard acknowledges that the snowy conditions in the capital are the worst ‘for a couple of decades’ (18 years to be precise, but that’s just a minor quibble), that the buses, if they were allowed to run, would be ‘lethal weapons’ and that the drivers who came into London would have the congestion charge waived.

So far, so good, but after really ramming it home that conditions in the capital are really rather awful, he then goes on to say that he’s been biking about today, and he wouldn’t recommend it to everybody, but that the weather is no excuse for a ‘mass skive’.

Back to those drivers who braved the appalling conditions – the ones Boris refers to as ‘hardy’…

Would they be those people who have judged it OK to ignore the advice of the Department for Transport, the Highways Agency, the RAC,  the AA and other authorities?

Maybe Boris left the ‘fool’ off  ‘foolhardy’, eh?

But that’s perfectly all right with me if wants to reserve the term ‘fool’ for himself only…

Getting the hump

I had to go to London yesterday for the first time in years and I became aware of a phenomenon that was new to me after being so long away from the delights of the Underground.

Backpacks.

Fucking backpacks.

Practical no doubt, but no-one who clouted me going past me seemed to be able to compensate for being Quasimodo for the day.

Henceforth, Boris should give the green light to anyone wearing one to be fucking shot on sight by armed police with bazookas in case they’re a terrorist – if they’re not a terrorist then it’s one less twat who’s going to push you aside with their fucking hump.

Bastards.

Another crock…

I’ve just read this story on the BBC News site:

‘X Factor vote’ for street names

Residents should be allowed to name their streets and parks after their heroes, a think-tank has suggested.

The New Local Government Network says councils should hold X Factor-style contests to find public place names.

The report suggests football hero David Beckham, born in east London, and the Gallagher brothers of Oasis, from Manchester, could be honoured.

It argues that recognising local people will help build community cohesion and civic pride.

The report also called upon London Mayor Boris Johnson to pledge that any British athlete who wins more than two medals at the 2012 Olympic Games will have a London street named after them.

Which is all fine and dandy, but what really pisses me off is that it looks as if we’re to be allowed to choose the names of the streets where we live by voting but when it comes to slightly more important matters of public concern such as whether or not to invade Iraq, join the euro zone, introduce a smoking ban, have ID cards or spend billions on the London Olympics we are denied any choice in the eventual outcome whatsoever.

It all comes down to choice and there’s far too much of it about these days.

That’s not a contradiction  – what I’m advocating is less choice over things that really don’t matter – like street names – but more choice in what’s really significant.

I don’t give a fuck if my street is named Beckham Boulevard but I do care if troops are sent in to invade a sovereign state under false pretences.

It’s just a fucking con – we think we have choice but apart from our chance every so often to vote in General and Local Elections we have very little say in what gets decided about the way we live our lives. Even then it’s often less than 50% of those entitled to vote who exercise that privilege.

I’m not sure how I feel about compulsory voting.

On the upside it would stop all those whinging sods who moan about the results when they’ve preferred to sit at home watching ‘Eastenders’ instead of voting.

On the downside it would be one more prescribed act and we already have too many of those.

Maybe all this is the thin edge of the wedge and all future elections will eventually be held on an X-Factor/Big Brother/I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here basis…you vote candidates off each week after you get Simon Cowell to mentor them and meanwhile they have to eat a bucket of maggots…

I’ll conclude with one small aspect of this that’s been niggling me since I first read the story – what is the New Local Government Network anyway, who decided it was a good idea we should have one and who fucking asked us if we wanted one?

Answers on a crock of shit, please, addressed to G Brown, 10 Downing Street, Westminster, London…