Better off read

Editorial mistakes aren’t the exclusive preserve of the hardcopy media. BBC News Online drops the ball, every now and then. Anyone who reads today’s first example from BBCi (below) could, conceivably, be forgiven for thinking that the offender might have got away with his crime in another county. For example, Norfolk. The way some elements of our judicial system work, that might be closer to the truth than we know!

Meanwhile the example below categorically says a couple of men have been making sperm available over the internet:

At least that explains why my internet connection sometimes gets a little sticky.

In need of a weekend

Weekends have, in recent years, become periods of almost mini-holiday; little periods of respite when we would take the opportunity to throttle-back, ease off the pace a little and take some time to enjoy ourselves, right? Almost right. This weekend there’s been no throttling-back and no easing off the pace. It has, however, been totally enjoyable – if tiring.

On Friday evening we visited the Witchwood School of Rock; watched live sets by two young bands and recorded interviews with School of Rock organisers as well as an interview with one of their musicians. We also recorded an interview with internationally-renowned author, Philip Pullman CBE.

Saturday I got up at 4.30am to edit the Philip Pullman interview. A bunch of hours later we did some running around the local area, then we went in to the studio and recorded this week’s show (which includes the Philip Pullman piece) . Then Gemma and Gemma (really!) arrived and we went to the Battstock Music Festival. While we were there we interviewed musicians Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou, Danny Wilson (Danny and the Champions Of The World), and two-thirds of the band The Epstein.  Then we came home, where I began the monster task of editing 8 distinct video clips of stock footage in to a single, sequenced video project, whilst having the world’s most lunatic Skype conversation with Daughter. Ultimately I will edit the finished video project in to the soundtrack of a début – charity – single, that a local band will release with, hopefully, the Prime Minister’s support, as well as the support from Help for Heroes. Then we fell in to bed. Not with Gemma and Gemma though.

Sunday I cleared out the boot of my car (a Herculean task!) and we drove to Family Day/Car Boot Sale at Eynsham Hall. The whole ‘boot’ thing is a new experience to me, but while we were there we met – and interviewed – Georgia Garrett, a 16-year-old vocalist from Essex (and competitor on the forthcoming series of Britain’s Got Talent). Georgia has a surprisingly mature, very pleasing singing style and is an all-round nice person. Right now we’re home for a breather, but this evening we’re supposed to be going to a big night out in The Wheatsheaf, in Oxford.

So for the next few days, I have a ton of audio to edit, I have a daunting amount of video to edit and then compile in to an audio soundtrack and I have a *huge* amount of web-content to write. I also have 3 press releases to write, need to compile a list of industry-specific addressees and write a marketing plan for the band’s charity single. I have also been invited to attend a meeting with the head A&R guy for EMI Records at some stage, I need to come up with a playlist for next weekend’s show and work out where we’re going to slot which interviews in to the audio. And I have three meetings to attend; London, Birmingham and Reading.

And while I’m writing this, the worst James Bond film in the history of Bad James Bond Films is playing itself out with reduced sound on the television: Octopussy (tagline: Neither a Pussy, nor an Octopuss. Just really really shit).

I’m acutely aware I haven’t touched the guitar for three days; my self-imposed ‘song a month’ challenge is already looking in jeopardy!

So, how was your weekend? Busy?

Right wing press, hoist by their own petard

Journalistic standards at the Daily Mail continue to plummet with this latest headline. How ironic, really, given that one of the Daily Mail’s continual battle cries is how nothing is being done to halt the constantly slipping standards of our school-leavers. I can’t help wondering how old the person who wrote this is.

defuse, diffuse, let's call the whole thing off

Putting words into mouths

Journalism and accounting seem not to mix at The Daily Mail, which is a significant problem for Mail journalists, as they often like to examine, in the minutest detail, public finance mistakes – and expose those mistakes to general and widespread derision. Just imagine the glee that the Mail would exhibit as it jumped all over a story where the finances were under-budgeted by 30%. Oh, wait… Someone needs to remind the Mail journalists how many days there are in a week.

click for the big picture

Unfortunately, no-brainers aren’t the exclusive domain of the Daily Mail. I pulled this one off the BBC News website. The clipping shows a photograph of possibly the most hated former British Prime Minister since Sir Robert Walpole took up the title, 289 years ago. As if it were some kind of herculean feat, the BBC asks the question: ‘How do you sum up a life story in two words?’, next to Mr Blair’s photograph.  Oh, in his case, that’s really easy, ‘War Criminal’.

This man is a vagina, but in colloquial terms (click for the big picture)

Sending signals

Journalists, WTF? I know the house style of the The Sun is best summed up as ‘aim for the worst of all that is bad in society and then lower your sights 45 degrees further”, but what, exactly, does this headline in today’s copy of the Sun convey to readers?

Doesn’t it convey ‘gay slayer or foreign spy, meh, they’re all the same’? And what is the divine intervention that The Sun journalist has, to enable him (or her) to *know* that either a foreign spy (not a British spy!) *or* a ‘gay slayer’ (what is one of those, anyway?) did this awful thing? Don’t you just love the British tabloid press and the standards they evidently have? Don’t have, I mean.

Listening to music is one of life’s great enjoyments. I spend huge amounts of my time in a world filled with pleasant sounds. The continually-falling price of personal mp3 players and mobile phones with the same capability, coupled with a decent pair of earbuds, have given all of us the opportunity to have a private, portable place of pure phonic pleasure. (yeah, sorry about that alliterative whimsy there) But when I was in London the other day, there were two teenagers on the tube, listening to music on their mobile phones. Without headphones. Let me use different words. A pair of teenagers, sitting and chatting together, were listening to different tracks of music *aloud* on their mobile phones. Did I mention they were chatting over their music? Hey kids, here’s a message for you:

Planning a magazine cover can’t be an easy job. There must be so many different factors to consider…

There has been a significant amount of traffic and chatter about Mary Bale and her alleged feline-binning proclivities. I can’t help wondering what a person with similar tendencies would do if they came across little Koda…

I’ll tell you one thing, I’d rather be in the company of Koda anyday, than having to sit on the tube in the presence of two teenagers, shouting their conversation over the loudspeakered tinny din of two portions of noise pollution.

Ha-ha, fooled you!

Yesterday Soph and I drove in to London, parked the car at Queensway and caught the tube to Mile End where we met Ash for lunch.

Ash is a unique guy. Genuinely talented and blessed with an abundance of creativity, Ash chooses to spend most of his time working in the public sector; providing valuable services to some of our fellow humans most in need of assistance.

With his free time, Ash indulges his creative talents as a composer/musician of serious worth – we have shared just a fraction of his musical talent with our podcast listeners, under the names of artists ‘Warning! Heat Ray!’ and ‘Unsound’.

And he writes; as a music analyst/reviewer, Ash is one of the few muso-writers whose opinions – and writing – I hold in genuinely high regard.

Lunch, with Ash, was brilliant; that’s a measure of what a genuinely nice guy he is.

Later in the afternoon we went back to the West End, had a meal in an Italian restaurant in Berner Street, then walked to the place where we were to meet up with author Alex Marsh and renowned blogger Jonny B.

Alex Marsh and Jonny B are the same person, obv.

The occasion was an informal launch of Alex’s new book ‘Sex and Bowls and Rock & Roll’, or as Alex put it ‘Not a book launch, just a drink in a pub with a few friends’.

Sitting next to Alex was the deliciously gorgeous Catherine Sanderson (aka internationally renowned author and erstwhile blogger, Petite Anglaise).

So that wasn’t very intimidating at all, was it? Jonny B and Petite Anglaise sitting next to me.

Erm, yes. I may have slipped in to idiot mode.

More people arrived.

Mike Atkinson (aka influential blogger/journalist Troubled Diva) was followed by a pair of very high-profile internet characters: bloggers, writers and podcasters, Cliff Jones and Mr Angry.

Then the gorgeous Girl With A One-Track Mind rocked up.

The very lovely (he once did me a favour by personalising a copy of his book for Soph) Andrew Viner followed on behind.

And there were others!

People whose names I can’t remember; intelligent, articulate people who said bright, witty (if not outrageously funny) things.

It was a fun, funny evening.

We bailed out, leaving the survivors to carry on, around 8pm.

By the time we got home, watched Big Brother drank tea and fell in to bed it was midnight.

This morning Soph and I are teetering around the house like a pair of newly-dead zombies.

Why teetering around the house? Because we are not the grown-up people we pretended to be on two occasions, in front of all those folk, yesterday.

We are a pair of kids  who went out and successfully hoodwinked them all into believing that we were grown-up.

Ha-ha, fooled you!

But not only was it really nice to meet everyone – from lunch with Ash to to the afternoon/evening’s meeting with Jonny B and all of his friends – it was very pleasant to meet such a thoroughly nice group of people.

Is the BBC news department staffed by stupids?

This story from BBC News online says it all really. Well, the headline says far more than the content below it.

Expenses body to cost six times more than MPs’ payback

… screams the headline.

And my response is a massive:

so fucking what?

What a total non-news story this is. I’m beginning to think that The Daily Mail journalists have secretly been shipped in to the BBC News department, because this is absolutely fucking awful journalism.

Here’s why it’s awful.

Are you ready?

Really ready?

It is awful.


It ALWAYS costs more to police things.


Here’s my point:

It costs more to operate the combined police forces of Great Britain and Northern Ireland than the value of the crimes that are committed, detected and people are prosecuted for. Fact!

So is The Daily Mail BBC News Online suggesting something here? Or are they just pandering to the very lowest IQ of their readership?

I thought, qualitatively speaking, that the BBC News output had reached rock bottom last year.

I feel both satisfied and disappointed to learn that I was wrong.

I’m now going out to buy a sandwich for lunch. I’m so angry if anyone gets in my way I may have to hit them.


Oh no, it’s started.

Wimbledon SW19, home of The Wombles and mecca to Very Many Boring People is seeing its annual influx of the near-terminally dull.

And hundreds – I kid you not, absolutely *hundreds* – of hours of television will be freely-given to this grunt-and-groan-and-slap-the-ball event that not even the addition of a new, all-singing, all-dancing sliding roof can elevate to a level slightly north of ‘tedious’.

What, I ask myself, have these tennis-watchers done so wrong in their former lives, to be inflicted with potential bouts of Cliff Richard and hideously overpriced Strawberries and Cream?

I tut, pittyingly, at the woman in the queue behind me in Sainsbury as she talks loudly (on the phone, obv) to her friend about the tennis.

Laura Robinson has been knocked out you know.

No, I didn’t know.

But there is one thing that I can guarantee as a result of this earth-shattering piece of news; tomorrow the newspapers will publish a number of photographs of the young Laura Robinson in her very short skirt and neither the media publishers nor their readers will feel the least bit hypocritical when, the next time it occurs, a so-called ‘sex pervert’ is outed for having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

And it’s not just the tabloids, look at this photograph from today’s Guardian:


And this photograph in today’s Guardian – I kid you not again – is of something that happened in July 1996!

Yes we all know that sex sells (newspapers), but not even sex can sell The World’s Most Boring Sport, surely?

It was twenty years ago today…

Let’s get one thing clear from the start. I detest football. It is, in my eyes, a game played by a professional class, the top players of which, earn more money *in a week* than *double* the national average *annual* salary. This is plainly immoral. Football is also perverse in as much as the folk who, by and large, *earn* the average national *annual* salary put their arses on the seats every weekend to perpetuate the immorality. Someone around here is plainly bonkers. However this, if you haven’t guessed from the heading, is not a rant about football…

I can remember where I was when the Hillsborough disaster occurred. I was watching it on the television. My housemate of the time, a staunch Nottingham Forest supporter, had commandeered the television and I had college work to do. So I sat and watched the pre-match build-up, intending to watch the entire game. Not because I’m a hypocrite but because even watching a game I detest is better than struggling through my revision on International Economics.

It was obvious from quite an early stage that something was wrong. The television producer periodically panned across the crowds from the talking heads in the studio and as the camera traversed the ground one could see the pattern of the crowds was wrong.

And when people began scaling the inhumanly tall fencing to escape on to the pitch from the crush of the terraces, and briefly, the television cameras were allowed to play over the gathering disaster from closer range, we knew there would be serious casualties and we were silent as we sat and watched.

Predictably the television commentary sought to lay the blame for the disturbance at the feet of a hitherto unknown troublesome element in the crowd.

Little did the talking head know that the disaster had been caused and was exacerbated by the rank ineptitude of the South Yorkshire Police Force. And how far have we not come in twenty years, that the conduct and professional behaviour of this country’s police forces continues to fail to meet public expectations?

No matter how one feels about football, ninety six people should not die whilst trying to watch their football team play.

At 15.06 this afternoon I shall be still and silent again.

Even though I detest the game.