Saturday, 30 December 2006
He explains the origin of the phrase "hangers-on" - not heard this before, but unless anyone can tell me any different then I believe him. And I always believe Damon anyway, he's one of my heroes, big time.
Apparently it's all to do with hangings, so with Saddam's execution this titbit comes at an opportune moment. I can't imagine Saddam had any "hangers-on" though - traditionally, mourners used to cling on to the bodies of relatives being hanged on the gallows at Marble Arch, to help speed up their death.
So the original hangers-on were actually friends you would want. Sort of.
It reminds me that the death penalty was the issue that first started to get me involved in politics, the original reason I joined Amnesty fifteen years ago.
Friday, 29 December 2006
The only exception is the ongoing issue of waste double charging... I'll post more details about that some other time if anyone's interested, but it's something I've been trying to get the Council to address for years now - the one thing where I have consistently come up against a brick wall. Going to have another go at that one in the New Year... I don't like to be beaten!
Being up to date with casework means I have been able to enjoy wasting time. Watched two whole episodes of Dream Team on Sky this afternoon - only ever watch it when I'm home at parents, as don't have Sky myself. It may not be Shakespeare, but it sure does look pretty. Some bits are filmed at Spurs too, and you can switch off most of your brain while watching to get maximum enjoyment/relaxation.
Back to London first thing in the morning, in time to see Spurs take on LFC at the Lane. COYS!
Edwards seemed to be by far the better half of the Kerry-Edwards ticket in 2004 - though you might argue that was no great achievement. If the Democrats had been brave enough to make him the candidate instead of Kerry, might we have been spared another four years of Bush? Who knows.
But with Clinton (Hillary) still likely to run, as well as Obama, there could be a really inspiring campaign for the Democratic nomination. Or it could end up with mudslinging and self-destruction. But is that really likely? Hmmmm...
Visited a few old haunts tonight, mostly through Lytham - the Ship, Queens, Cab and Station. Good to be home.
Thursday, 28 December 2006
Q. How are Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew better known?
One of the possible answers was "the Liberal Democrats". How we laughed.
Of course, they are the NatWest Three - a great example of where we are (in the form of the Extradition Act) being screwed over by America, and yet another example of where only the Lib Dems have been speaking out for what is right. Conservative opposition? Who now, what now?
New Labour has been constantly eroding our civil liberties since 1997 and attempting to dismantle our justice system - and they're so keen on getting this job done they've been only too happy to get America to help.
There were some other relatively witty questions/answers too, surprisingly, but the quiz generally just showed what is wrong with the Daily Mail. All about perceived "scandals", all constantly knocking Labour and all utterly trivial.
For example, I never understood at the time why Cherie Blair's bill to the Labour Party (not to the taxpayer, though you'd think it was from the tabloid fuss) for getting her barnet crimped was news. Let alone why it might make a news review of the year.
Oh well, it's not like anything really important happened this year.
Wednesday, 27 December 2006
The photo doesn't really show the full extent of the problem - and admittedly it was much worse than normal, perhaps because of the lack of overland trains on Boxing Day - but the traffic is really bad after every match. People blame this on poor public transport links (Seven Sisters tube is a fair walk away and the overland stop nearby does not run a massively frequent service). But I've been to maybe 30 different football grounds and most of them have the same problems - constantly referring to poor public transport links is a bit of a red herring I would say...
The other pic I thought I'd post features one of my favourite Spurs players, the awesome Michael Dawson. Also gives you an idea of the view from my seat - tho it was a bit gloomy yesterday!
So thanks to Hot, Ginger & Dynamite who was the first to point out an obvious mistake - I didn't include Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses. Now that is a top notch Christmas tune. And I've not heard it this year! I need to get VH1 on as soon as I get to my parents.
Berbatov was excellent again, as were Michael Dawson and Ledley (tho in truth there wasn't much for them to do). Tom Huddlestone is looking like a pro with years of experience - easy to forget he's only 19... Birthday tomorrow apparently, Happy Birthday Tom.
The one inexplicable thing was Hossam Ghaly's performance - and more to the point why Martin Jol didn't sub him earlier. Now, I do think Ghaly is a good player and has put in some good matches for us. But yesterday everything he tried went wrong and he was a liability. If you take any 5 minute period of the match, he was comfortably the worst player - I don't know why he wasn't replaced at half time. When Danny Murphy eventually came on for Ghaly, he looked good - so didn't seem to be that Danny wasn't fit or in form. Strange.
Most of the other footy results were good yesterday too and went to the pub with my two housemates - for the first time together since I moved in last March! With work and council (and Spurs), just get so busy and there's so little time to find free evenings.
Anyway, I'm safely on a train to Preston, where my parents will collect me to take me home for the next few days. Back to Lytham St.Annes, to the beach where I grew up. I didn't actually live on the beach, you understand, but in a house nearby.
Monday, 25 December 2006
Watched my first bit of xmas tv - saw Pauline die on Eastenders, as my sister likes to watch that, and then watched Little Britain. Is it just me, or is that really overrated? I do still think that Vicky Pollard is genius and usually love the Fat Fighters sketches, but in general it all seems to be a bit more miss than hit to me... Ricky Gervais then on Channel 4, watched some of that show - but as I've got it on DVD and must have seen it 20 times I decided to head to bed.
But just time to leave you with my Top 3 Christmas songs of all time, seeing as I know everyone is desperate to know...
1. Fairytale of New York - Pogues & Kirsty MacColl
2. I Was Born On Christmas Day - Saint Etienne & Tim Burgess
3. All I Want For Christmas - Mariah Carey
Will be hoping to catch them, and more, all over again on VH1 at my parents. Oh, yes.
So do reuse or recycle this year's wrapping paper and try to reduce the amount you use next year - or those poor folk in Jersey are going to be covered in gold foil and santa wrap. I guess they'd need a little extra to actually wrap all the way around the island (as opposed to just covering the surface), if someone actually was planning on giving Jersey as a present.
First set of presents opened, time for a breather and out for a walk in the fresh air...
Sunday, 24 December 2006
Well, Happy Christmas to Les Reed, but he's out of a job now. When he was given a lengthy contract at Charlton after Dowie left it did seem... well, a bit odd. Anyway, Alan Pardew's break from football turns out to be a fairly short one as he now has the unenviable task of hauling Charlton out of the relegation zone. Rather him than me, I was going to say, but I expect he'll be getting paid pretty handsomely for his efforts - likewise, I'm sure that Reed will be leaving with a fair few bob for some extra Christmas presents.
The nearest to interesting political news I could find was that the Italian who was dining with Alexander Litvinenko before he was taken ill has been arrested. Political as Litvinenko lived in my council ward in Muswell Hill and interesting as the Italian is called Scaramella, which would be a great villain name (for obvious reasons). But before it gets too interesting, the arrest is unconnected to the poisoning.
There aren't even any good repeats on.
There was also some good news recently, with a local planning appeal being refused - although of course there are always two parties in each planning case and not everyone will end up happy, so it is unfortunate for the applicants. But the proposal was to knock down two semis, in perfectly good order, and replace them with six new houses, across the back gardens. Backlands development? Apparently not - indeed, the Planning Inspector had no problem with the general concept. He did refuse the appeal on the grounds of the overbearing impact it would have on neighbouring properties, so I was glad that the development will not go ahead. But going forward into the New Year I do worry somewhat for future proposals on similar sites, which could lead to bad "urban cramming".
I have just been thinking again about Fortis Green Clinic in my ward, which is threatened with closure. What I have been thinking about is how New Labour managed to get this sum wrong:
TORY UNDERINVESTMENT + MASSIVE LABOUR SPENDING = BETTER NHS
Actually, I think it's quite simple - what they have done is forgotten the importance of another variable which has left them with:
TORY UNDERINVESTMENT + MASSIVE LABOUR SPENDING - CENTRAL GOVERNMENT MISMANAGEMENT = NHS DEFICITS AND CLINIC CLOSURES
Anyway, will leave you all to enjoy Christmas now. What present am I hoping for most? That after going to the matches against Villa and Liverpool and making the trip to Fratton Park on New Year's Day that the footballing gods of Spurs will have given us 9 points.
Saturday, 23 December 2006
14.18mins: GOAL - SPURS. Chimbonda cross from right, Malbranque missed overhead kick, Murphy volley into ground clipped off Taylor and beat Given.
It doesn't really sound like a goal to remember for either team, does it?
Bit of a disaster at St.James' Park it would seem, Defoe injured in the warm up and so Malbranque playing up front... We are 2-0 down within 10 minutes, doesn't look like being a fun day for us in Newcastle. I remember being there with my mate Matt for a great 2-0 win a few seasons back, but a win today is looking pretty unlikely now. Will try and forget about football for a couple of days now, until the 1pm kick off against Villa at White Hart Lane on Boxing Day.
All the best to everyone for a peaceful and enjoyable festive season - and I'm attaching a picture of the Coach & Horses pub in Tottenham to get all you Spurs fans back in the mood!
Thursday, 21 December 2006
Visitors from all over too - Singapore, Luxembourg, Finland, Australia, Japan, Argentina, probably around 30 different countries. And I'm enjoying being quite a sad statto tracking all this stuff, including how people are finding my blog. Interesting to see what Google searches bring people here - suffice to say that I'll be careful in the future what words I put together in my titles... Look at the title of my post from Nov 28th if you wonder what I'm talking about - I think the random visitors that combination generated will have been pretty disappointed arriving at my blog.
Anyway, it's been a very long day, so time for bed. Last working day before xmas tomorrow!
Spurs last night: painfully embarrassing. And that's no disrespect to Southend - who didn't really look any worse than some Premiership teams we've played at White Hart Lane this season - but we were supposedly on form, playing at home and (I think) over 30 places above them in the league. It took 115 minutes for us to score and seems it was offside anyway, though it didn't look so at the time. To be fair, first half we were in control (Huddlestone was very good) and their keeper had a few half decent saves to make, but from the restart it was just pathetic. It was hard to even celebrate the goal, just too embarrassed by it all... By the way, saw on BBC that Mido was "impressive" - that wasn't what I thought and that wasn't quite what other people were saying in my stand, but what do we know...
Had my last formal council meeting on Monday night - a meeting of Overview & Scrutiny, where we asked the Executive to urgently look at tweaks to the budget they can do to eliminate or reduce their planned cuts to Social Services. No meetings for a couple of weeks now (until Jan 4th), though other council work still goes on.
Tuesday, 19 December 2006
Well, I did promise that I would eventually get around to posting some photos on here... and due to "popular" demand, here I am dressed up as a sardine at Leeds railway station on Friday. The sardine, hopefully pretty obviously, is to emphasise the problem of overcrowding on trains. The overcrowding is caused by a lack of government investment/action to increase the capacity of our rail network.
Overcrowding is a major problem - it puts people off travelling by rail and pushes more into cars. Of course, it's a problem especially - but far from exclusively - on commuter routes, hence the sardine wearing a suit.
These photos were taken just before one of the regional launches of Transport 2000's national Growing the Railways campaign. For full details of what the campaign is calling for, to pledge your support or to join Transport 2000, please visit www.transport2000.org.uk
Sunday, 17 December 2006
And unlikely sources... Calum Davenport, only on for the suspended Mikey Dawson, and the midfield monster that is Tom Huddlestone. Okay, actually Tommy H has scored a few, including two against Port Vale.
If Berby gets the goals I was hoping for as well, then it's going to be a bad one to have missed! Let's just hope for no slip ups similar to that old cup match against City at the Lane...
Front page is the cash for honours inquiry, with doubts being raised about how well Blair's police interview matches up with the evidence given by the donors. By the way, for overseas readers - yes, the sitting British Prime Minister has actually been questioned by police.
The release of the National Childhood Obesity Database (what is New Labour's obsession with databases?) on Wednesday looks to be a waste of time - not all PCTs took part and the government are also saying that parents of fatter children refused to let them be weighed.
But most important of all is the government's interference with the Serious Fraud Office investigation into BAe's deals in Saudi Arabia. If there were any final few believers in New Labour's integrity after the bright new future everyone hoped for in 1997, then this has surely seen them shot down in flames.
And an Amnesty International photo on page 34 reminds us (briefly) of the ongoing scandal of Guantanamo Bay.
On a lighter note, the train I'm travelling on is two carriages short "due to a short formation"... not really explaining the problem, more just repeating the problem - which I think everyone can see for themselves.
Spurs kicking off at City in less than an hour. It's the first time I've not been to our away match at Eastlands (or Maine Road before) for a fair few years, but money and time are both in short supply at the moment. Will be at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night for the QF against Southend. But COME ON YOU SPURS for today, a win will leave us sitting nicely as we hit the hectic xmas schedule.
Saturday, 16 December 2006
Currently still up in Leeds, at my brother's. My two nieces Catrin and Isobel are just upstairs having a bath, giving me a little bit of time to watch some X Factor uninterrupted. Yes, yes, I know it's not exactly inspired television programming, but it keeps me entertained. Have been cheering for Ray since it started, so pleased to see him in the final - Leona has a perfect voice though, so either winning would be good, at least the really awful ones are all long (well, a couple of weeks) gone anyway.
Early train back to London in the morning, need to finish off the CCTV report and do some casework before the working week starts again. Then Overview & Scrutiny on Monday night and a Christmas party at Coldfall Primary School in my ward on Tuesday - they'll be the last two council nights before the holidays, though the emails will continue of course...
Berbatov continued his fine UEFA cup run on Thurs night - and the next round against Feyenoord will be interesting, though possibility no fans will be allowed into the ground because of a ban currently hanging over the Dutch club.
We really need a result against City tomorrow - a club we do have an impressive record against (sorry Sarah!). Still need that first away win... I'm backing Berby to score his first Spurs hattrick!
Thursday, 14 December 2006
Main council work at the moment is the report of the CCTV scrutiny review I’ve been chairing – need to get the final draft circulated around the other members of the group on Monday. Also had our Lib Dem group meeting last night – and there is ongoing work on budget scrutiny as well.
Lee & Michelle, some friends of my mate Dan, are fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support (and doing a trek next year in Peru in the process). They’ve been doing plenty of different fundraising activities, including a pub quiz I went to a couple of months ago – but if you’ve got a bit of spare cash you’d like to contribute straight off then please go to http://www.justgiving.com/take_a_hike_peru
Sunday, 10 December 2006
The Charlatans were absolutely awesome on Friday night. My mate Richard and I were actually seeing them (finally) for the first time. Picking the high point of the gig (Can't Get Out Of Bed, Weirdo, The Only One I Know, just so many) is even harder than picking the low point (Support Act 1, Support Act 2 or paying £2 for the Brixton Academy cloakroom). Came away smelling of beer, sweat and (shall we say) "tobacco", but all worth it to see Tim Burgess on stage - just absolutely immense. Went over to my friend Julia's afterwards, she was having a houseparty, which was good - since she became an MP none of us get to see too much of her... Whatever you might think, MPs (certainly all the ones I know and I expect it's true for the majority from all parties) work incredibly hard and barely get any free time to themselves.
Yesterday's football was just *slightly* better than last week... 5-1 might have been a little harsh on Charlton - well, actually, maybe not, but they didn't really fall apart until the last half hour. Berbatov was excellent again, Lee had another standout game and in fact there wasn't anyone who didn't perform (even if my favourite Mikey D did manage to turn in that own goal).
Only a couple of weeks until Christmas now. But before that have got a trip to Leeds for work (dressed as a giant sardine... don't ask) and while I'm there get to visit my brother and two nieces, Isobel & Catrin. Am seeing my sister tomorrow night, and my other niece there, Tamsin - see them regularly as they're only in St.Alban's, but don't get to see my brother and his family so often, so looking forward to that.
Happy Human Rights Day.
UPDATE: I'm sure you won't have missed the irony of General Pinochet dying today.
Friday, 8 December 2006
Ralph Scott (Liberal Democrat) - 1,093
Green - 812
Labour - 808
Conservative - 198
(I nicked this news from here: http://andymayer.blogspot.com/ - cheers Andy!)
It's always a relief to see the results come in and know that all the hard work wasn't in vain - although for this one I have to confess the only bit I did myself was today's early Good Morning leaflets. This is a brilliant result - remembering that this was a Labour ward until May and the Greens had also done much better in May than today too. The Greens seemed to have run a vigorous campaign - and a negative one too, if the leaflet I saw this morning is anything to go by. So it's good to see the Camden team's hard work paid off.
So, as the Labour councillor who had clung on in May resigned and caused this by-election, the residents of Kentish Town now have a complete team of three Lib Dem ward councillors.
London by-elections have been going very well for us recently: Almost exactly a year ago we got Cllr Duncan MacDonald elected in Barnet - taking a formerly rock solid Tory seat (and getting re-elected this May); the parliamentary by-election was a stunning result with Ben Abbotts slashing the Tory majority to well under a thousand in their Bromley heartland; getting a Lib Dem (Paul Scott) back into Harrow Weald ward; and most recently (before tonight!) getting Irfan Mustafa elected, taking Clementswood ward on Redbridge Council from Labour, the Lib Dems having been in 4th place just six months earlier.
I'm sure there are more I've forgotten, even ones I was out at the crack of dawn delivering for, but it's getting late and it's been a very long day...
Wednesday, 6 December 2006
An early start tomorrow – council by-election in Camden. We took control of Camden in May, having gone from 7 councillors to 20 there. A Labour councillor in Kentish Town resigned not long after the elections, having hung on by just 15 votes – the other two seats in the ward were won by the Lib Dems. Our candidate who missed out last time is standing again and they’ve been running an excellent campaign. A bunch of colleagues from Haringey have been going over to help, as we always do with London elections. Tomorrow is Good Morning leaflets – often we start as early as 4am on polling day, and depending on distance travelled it can mean a pretty knackering start to the day. As Kentish Town is pretty close, it’ll be like a relative lie-in tomorrow! I can’t stay around and help all day, as I have to come in to work, but there will be plenty of Lib Dems out all day right through until polls close at 10pm.
Boro match last night – I thought Berbatov was fantastic again, Defoe actually had one of his best games this season (tho he should have made some chances count) and Lee was really good, one of his best performances for ages. Michael Dawson was a star as always. Boro really didn’t pose much of a threat last night, but we made it pretty hard work for ourselves anyway.
Phew. Three points in the bag and back on track (probably). The atmosphere was strangely flat – maybe because it was one of those games we knew we “should” win but were nervous we wouldn’t. It got a bit rowdier when all the players started scrapping towards the end. But my colleagues who were at their first ever Spurs game loved it and thought the atmosphere was great… just wait until they get to go to a really big match!
By the way, hi to Mark, ex-colleague from Coventry days but who grew up in Muswell Hill and was a pupil at Fortismere. He’s living over in Singapore now, enjoying somewhat warmer weather than we’re getting here at the moment.
Monday, 4 December 2006
Anyway, first things first, home match against Boro tomorrow night. And no clash with council meetings - actually, no meeting tonight OR tomorrow, must be my early Christmas present or something. Meeting up with another Spurs mate of mine, Paul, who lives just over in Essex, and on top of that a number of work colleagues are trooping up to the world famous home of the Spurs... so we'd better put on a good show.
Had a good weekend, football and council stuff apart (some tricky casework at the moment - both some of the time consuming stuff and some of the proper head-scratching stuff).
My uni friend Alastair was having his birthday do on Saturday night - went to a place called Dollar Grills in Clerkenwell. Unfortunately, the food was rather pricier than the name suggests and the service was awful... But it was okay and a good night anyway. Then Sunday went to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum - something I do with a couple of friends every year. Always difficult to pick a favourite, but think mine this year is probably the one that actually won the under-18s category. Go see them all anyway, excellent.
We were then going to go and see the Rodin exhibition at the Royal Academy too - but in the end decided we had done enough culture for the day and went for a beer instead. Well, we went to the bar at the ICA and did also wander through the Alien Art exhibition (quickly), so still cultural. Then up to Camden to see the Zutons live - they're not one of my favourite bands, but I like their first album especially and when I've seen them live on TV they've always sounded wicked. Didn't disappoint (and felt more at home in the company of an older crowd than were at the DPTs!). Zuton Fever in the encore was my highlight of the gig. Support were the On Offs who sounded good and were entertaining enough.
Right, got to get through plenty of council emails so need to go. Adios for now.