30 January 2010


King Charles I was beheaded in 1649.  Cromwell got his own back in 1661.  The Menai Suspension Bridge was opened in 1826.  Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by Hindu extremist, Nathuram Godse, in 1948.

Born today:  Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989), Olaf Palme (1927-1986), Gene Hackman (1930), Vanessa Redgrave (1937), Boris Spassky (1937), Steve Marriott (1947-1991), Phil Collins (1951), Christian Bale (1967), Olivia Colman (1967).

It is the feast day of St. Aldegonde.


  1. Some interesting people born on this date, Barbara Tuchman probably the most meaningful to me. What say Medve?

  2. Boudican: Kindred spirits indeed.

  3. I said, late yesterday:

    Wow, talking of Tuchman, Montana has sneakily put up today's / tomorrow's post without butting into our conversation (Hi Montana) and it includes Barbara Tuchman's birthday!

  4. Yes, Hi Montana, how is the white weather situation? None here, the buds are showing on the trees already. Strange, but certainly acceptable to me. Still colder than an undertaker's grin in Buda?

  5. Sorry, that last question was for Medve.

  6. Boudican: They had to get off the aircraft and are now back in the airport. Big confusion.

  7. Boudican: All of last week it was down to -10C during the day, today just -3C, but the white stuff is still coming down in copious quantities. We've had about 15cm (half a foot) already.

  8. Bloody hell, locked horns with the den of sophistry, MAM

    i think i will post this in a minute:


    So far I have been perfectly happy to help you out with your English comprehension difficulties, but henceforth I would require some financial incentive.

  9. Hopefully, your lady and sons will get through it all. Even the Russians can't control the weather these days, from what I hear,(-:

    Yes, indeed, MaM has hoisted himself---. Fun to watch, but jesus, what we have to endure for the result.

  10. Boudican: The male contingent is here all complete, while the female singularity is off to some conference (weather permitting). Any feedback on my proposed CiF post?

  11. Get in medve !

    Good day to you all. Off to get the Saturdays now and see what they make of Blair's toe curler yesterday. He's got as much brass neck as Thatcher. If not more.

    Th @~&t

  12. Morning Bitterweed, Do you mean that i ought to post it?

  13. Medve-- Stick it in, literally and figuratively.

  14. Thus encouraged, here goes ..

  15. Morning folks.


    What you waiting for? Get it posted. Gangstaista has also been rather terse with MAM.

  16. Morning MsChin, nasty snide post literally and figurative stuck in.

  17. Morning guys

    Sticking this on here for posterity in case it gets zapped, seeing as I have said I believe Blair to be a psychopath and Polly is so touchy about these things:


    You are surely bright enough to realise that using the words "I believe" in the intro of the Dodgy Dossier that was presented to Parliament was a lawyer's weasel-worded get-out clause if anybody rumbled him.

    It might work in contract law; it certainly doesn't work when we realise that it means one of two things:
    1) That he was so deluded that he genuinely did believe that the patchy intelligence amounted to there being "no doubt" Saddam was stockpiling WMD, in which case he needs to be sectioned; or
    2) That he knew all along he was lying, because he had undertaken to support the US in their fight against Gog and Magog no matter what, and supported their position 100%, but knew very well he would have severe difficulties in selling the Team America! Fuck Yeah! gung-hoism to our rather more grown-up and restrained citizens, so he had to make up all the WMD stuff as a figleaf.

    I believe, on the evidence that I have seen, that there is no doubt that Tony Blair is a dangerous, self-aggrandising psychopath who became star-struck by Dubya and his neo-con power-mongers and saw himself standing on the shoulders of giants by allying himself to them, but was too deluded to see that they were actually dwarves.

    No nosepegs this time, Polly. The stench of the bodies of dead Iraqis is such that there is no nosepeg in the world big enough to staunch the smell.

  18. whoops, the testosterone must be affecting my spelling.

  19. Morning BB: OMWTR (on my way to recommend)

  20. LOL medve. Ta

    There is definitely an astroturfing plan going on on the Blair threads though. Too many new posters showing up with the Blair party line.

  21. BB: The last time i read a Polly Toynbee article was when i posted something like: really, Ms Toynbee, what would your father have made of this. However, i was forced to read one now and the whole thread for that matter. Leaving the ATL part aside, my overall impression of the comments on aggregate is that the Blair/Toynbee line has little traction (excepting the astrosurfers as you say).

  22. Morning all

    Radiantly sunny day here so am going to ignore Blair and all his works and actually enjoy myself.

    Trawling through the Howard Zinn obits I was struck by what he said about the difference between a Just Cause and a Just War - something Blair has never understood and given the evidence of yesterday, he never will.

  23. hello all! clearly some busy bee-ing has been going on, well done all. very like 'OMWTR', although 'BTNG' has been rolled out a pleasing amount on a couple of other threads.

    got it all (mostly) out of my system in the pub yesterday - to a couple of mates who, being of a scientific bent, are prone to a logical approach to such things, and greeted many of Blair's reported witterings with 'hang on, but...'.

    Then, as a way of winding down, we got on to homeopathy (the evils of), AGW (the overwhelming case for) and the equation of beliefs for the former and against the latter with religious belief (the annoyance of). So that was all very nice.

    Actually managed not to get hammered, but didn't want to get back on my hobby horse having calmed down, so just watched NCIS when I got home.

    They sell 'homeopathic toothpaste' in France - have you ever heard anything so peculiar? Anyway. Am going to potter off to the PT thread, see if my sense of rightous outrage is still bubbling under the surface...

  24. God, have been dragged in...

  25. Hi All--Still here, barely, got stuck into the Patron.

    BB--Good summation on the psyche of a narcissistic megalomaniac. I've always hesitated to put in my views regarding your politics, as I live in Canada, but, fuck that, it's a world wide problem that he has helped to cause. I'm in.

    sheff-- Howard Zinn was a good man. His legacy is one of courage and integrity.

  26. Morning all recent arrivals

    Homeopathic toothpaste - hehehe. My doc in France was a homeopath as well as a normal doctor. Over there I think you have to qualify as a medical doctor before you can practice homeopathy. But it is big business. The theory is that mint is such a strong substance that it destroys the effects of homeopathic pills and thus should be avoided at all costs.

    I have no strong views about homeopathy really - if people think they are getting better and actually do get better as a result of that positive snake-oil thought, no harm no foul.

    I am an avid supporter of accupuncture though - one of my closest friends is a chinese medicine practioner (although not chinese herself, but she still had to study for 7 years to get her formal qualifications) and has cured me of a gippy gall bladder in the past through accupuncture.

    Boudican - of course you can comment on our politics! The only reason we rarely comment on Canada's is because we hardly ever get to hear what is going on. Is your parliament still in prorogation at the moment?

    Sheff - Zinn was a giant, for sure. We have gorgeous sunshine here too, and a smattering of snow in the night. Beautiful day. Shame I have got to do my tax return today. PHILIPPA!! HANK!!! HEEEELLLLPPPPP!!!! :o)

  27. Boudican: Female singularity back at home, perhaps she can go to Barcelona tomorrow, otherwise no conference for her.

  28. BB - I can pretty much guarantee two responses when I say I'm a tax consultant:
    1) taxi drivers - suddenly become very very quiet
    2) everybody else - "that's interesting - I've got a property that I rent out, anyway, I'm thinking of selling it, and, well, all those MPs seemed to be able to 'flip' things so they didn't, erm, well, so their tax bill was, erm, lower, anyway, er, what's all that about? You know, purely hypothetically. cough."

    Sadly, unless you're a charity, or dealing with VAT, I'll be about as much use to you as picking what to put on the form by chucking darts at a dartboard...

  29. BB-- Yes, we are still in limbo. Our Beloved Leader has not yet divined a new path. He shuffled the cabinet, but that's like shaking stones in a soup tin. A bit of noise, but largely ineffective.

    I'm off to the sack.Night.

  30. Pip

    It's about time I anted up and paid someone else to do it for me. I am pretty good with figures and spreadsheets and can manage fine. I just hate doing it. Besides, I'm sure an accountant would save me money as I am pretty sure I overpay because I am far far too honest.

  31. Afternoon people

    John Cooper Clark is Playing Leicester Comdey Festival at the Musician on Friday 12th Feb.

    Am thinking of checking this out. More info here:


  32. medve
    Yes, have the bastard.

    Right, it's a beautiful day, off out now, back laters.

  33. BB - thing is, that you'd need to find an accountant who'd have the same approach to risk as you - there are a lot of grey areas in 'deductions' and some accountants would throw everything in and wait for a (not inevitable) investigation, whereas others would play a safe game (and wait for an investigation!).

    It's not necessarily about thrashing out the treatment of every single receipt, but finding someone you're comfortable would reflect what you would consider to be reasonable.

    Re: VAT returns, often heard clients saying, in a hurt voice when a visit didn't go well, "but you didn't tell me that wasn't a certainty" - some of them had been told that, of course, but sometimes they had a point. If you do get someone in, ask them to give a view on which category of your costs are safe as houses (ahem), arguable after precedent, and 'a bit cheeky'. And pick where you want to pitch your tax tent.

    And if the amount they come up with is signifcantly different from the previous couple of years, at least have a look into why. If it's due to shifting income / expenditure levels, fair enough, but if they're including or excluding new types of cost, consider whether or not that means either that you should try amending past returns up or down, and whether or not you're happy (in the case of a larger claim) to face an investigation...

    hank probably much more help on this, though...

  34. Bitterweed: thanks

    Boudican: good night

    BB: wise choice methinks. I do that and i reckon the sum of accountant + tax is still less than the true value of the free healthcare and education of the children.

    The peace of mind is an added bonus.

  35. although I'm listening to a rather harrassed woman from HMRC speaking to Moneybox about the tax-coding notice screw up, and suspect that hank may currently be in a bunker somewhere, fielding calls...

  36. Y'know, with constantly shifting the grounds they are arguing, an implacable and egocentric belief that whatever they say is right (even when it flatly contradicts earlier lines they have spun)and their insane refusal to admit intontravertible fact when it proves them wrong (oh and their deployment of 'secret' or unverifiable sources to push their own bullshit) MaM and Tony Blair have rather a lot in common...

  37. Pip

    I always want to pitch my tent in the "fair" ground - quite a nice pun that actually - because I want to make sure I am paying everything I need to. I just get the feeling that I might save myself the bother of doing it myself and come out evens if I got an accountant to do it instead. I certainly don't want to be claiming for "cheeky" stuff though.

  38. I'll tell you how scrupulous I am about it: when I take a taxi I will ask a receipt for what's on the clock, not what I have paid the taxi driver including his tip, because I figure that if I make a choice to make a gift to him or her for their service, the tax man doesn't have to refund me for that as a business expense.

  39. BB - good for you, I'm a 'safe ground' type meself. Mind you, mine's simple (earnings = bugger all, costs = travel / prof fees) - Dad certainly uses someone who specialises in 'vicars' because of all the weird rules. So anoher tip would be to go to someone who actually deals with lawyers, as there's oddities in there, particularly if you're in chambers with central expenses...

    Alisdair - heh heh. So, if MAM is Tony Blair, but GC Millibandi is also Tony Blair, whereas I think GCM is actually Tim Henman, does that mean that MAM should be offline during Wimbledon? Or, week one, at least...

  40. Right. Any Answers. Hmm, wonder what they're going to talk about...

  41. Hehehehe- you taking bets, Pip?

    I'm off to do some accounts. Bleugh.

    Why do I always leave it til the last bloody minute?!!

    See y'all later x

  42. Cruddas honest, and rather admirable for not joining in the 'stone him stone him' chorus.

    Ed Davey doing a good job.

    Priti Patel clearly concentrating on Gordon, which sounds rather mealy mouthed.

    Yup, there she goes again...

  43. Dimbleby raises a good point - there was talk at the time of illegality, so did the Tories do right or wrong by voting for war?

    Why didn't the Tories get their own legal advice? Did they?

  44. Philippa: very interesting point. Parliamentary privilege, sovereignty and all that, so can MPs be held accountable for voting for an illegal war? At a Nurnberg style trial i suspect the answer could well be affirmative.

  45. Priti Patel is really vastly annoying.

    Am growing worryingly fond of Max Hastings.

  46. Medve - interesting. I was actually thinking in more prosaic terms, that if an issue as important as this came up, why didn't the Tories sek their own advice? I mean, any report or set of stats comes out and they bob up with their own report / set of stats. Why in this case did they apparently just accept what the government said its own legal advice was and not seek their own?

  47. Philippa: good point, of course, and let's not loose sight of reality, but by having won against MaM and therefore having once and for all established that the 2003 invasion was DEFINITELY illegal, i feel that i am on a roll. ;)

  48. And, given how central the question of legality was at the time and fobbed off with a single A4 that nobody has seen, perhaps the tories failed in their "duty to provide loyal opposition to HMG" by not seeking independent expert legal advice.

  49. quite right
    (and congrats on the MAM thing, too, if I didn't say that earlier! sterling work...)

  50. Godfuckingdammit. Have just read the account of Blair's testimony yesterday in the Tele, and I am absolutely steaming.

    Fucking lying bastard. Megalomaniac psychopathic cunt. Bloodstained, egotistical, prevaricating superwanker.

    How dare he?

  51. Afternoon all,

    medve. I'll say well done even though I haven't read any of the commenter of the years posts. By looking at yours and others replies only, I can only assume he/she were taken to the cleaners.

    You'll soon find out that using reason, logic and understanding of the topic won't stop it as much like Chorlton and the Wheelies Fenella the Witch, it just bounces up and down, coming up and under the ground mouthing the same old shite.

    Reading through the Thatcher thread. Anyone come across greytiles before? Their posts kind of remind me of those skittery, ineffectual farts which although only slightly odorous, are more the offensive for it.

  52. Oh, and if anyone from the Graun is lurking on here and wondering why I bought the Telegraph, it's because they have a decent fucking puzzle section. On Saturdays I want crosswords and Sudoku, and lots of them!

    I want them on Sundays too, although I buy the Observer even though it's woefully lacking in that department.

    /Here endeth the second rant.

  53. Duke - yes, excellent description of greytiles!

    All - I think Hank is still having puter woes. This morning I found a text from him (he's not happy with Blair either) that came in after I'd gone to bed. Shame, as I'm sure his opinions on Chilcot would be incisive, to say the least.

  54. thauma,

    I hope Mr Scorpio's PC is up and running soon, I was hoping he'd pop on to give his rundown of the whitewash. Same goes for monkeyfish.

  55. Just been listening to Kenneth Baker's Jazz programme - whole programme on Chet Baker - the glories of his trumpet playing and the car crash of his life.
    Almost blue is a all time classic.

  56. Sheff,

    I love Chet Baker, especially 'Chet Sings'. I've never heard a singer who can sing but can't sing (if you know what I mean) quite like Chet.

    A very unpleasant character by all accounts.

    If I am right I believe he died by falling out the third floor window of an Amsterdam flat?

    I keep getting this imsge of him sitting on the ledge playing his trumpet- ''toot-toot-toot-parp-parpa-parpaparp-parp-parp-tooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot..............................................................................bumf.''

  57. If ya'll want a bit of a teeth grinding laugh I recommend Simon Hoggart writing in the paper today on this year's collection of round robin letters

    Hank - if you're around, approach with caution - will give you apoplexy.

  58. Evening all, i had to have a lie-down ((c) Philippa) after all that excitement, but i'm recovered now. Thanks again for all kind words and encouragements, which i need really as i am swimming out of my depth.

  59. Shef heard that Chet Baker prog stunning and tragic.

    Ken comes over as almost human on those programmes, pity about the politics.

  60. Duke - anyone with that sort of drug problem has lost their humanity, his behaviour was unpleasant because of this but his playing was sublime.

    Why do so many musicians pay such a high price for their talent?

  61. Yr Grace

    According to the prog - amongst Chet's other less attractive traits was burglary and he was good with heights, i.e. climbing up buildings to effect entry. They reckon he fell asleep and fell, banging his head on a concrete post.


    Ken B is brilliant on jazz - I find it really hard to put his politics and his huge love of jazz together too.

    Mind you, i once had a landlord who was a real old Thatcherite, Master of fox hounds and ex magistrate who I got on with really well - it was a mutual love of horses and dogs I think, and his sense of humour which was extremely dry - he took the pee all the time, particularly out of me - but kindly. So i guess people can be more complex and interesting than we sometimes give them credit for.

  62. princesschipchops: great post on Greece!

  63. Listen to this folks, for sheer, unadulterated capitalist piggery - it's in an article about Michael Moore's latest film 'Capitalism, A Love Story'.

    " Early on Moore sets out the meaning of 'Dead Peasants' insurance. It turns out that Wal-Mart, a company with a revenue larger than any other in the world, bets on its workers dying, taking out life insurance policies on its 350,000 shopfloor workers without their knowledge or approval.

    When one of them dies, Wal-Mart claims on the policy. Not a cent of the payout, which sometimes runs to $1m (£620.000) or more goes to the family of the dead worker, often struggling with expensive funeral bills. Wal-Mart keeps the lot. If a worker dies, the company profits."

    There is more but its all so appalling I don't want to depress you but if you feel up to it you can read the article here.

  64. Sheff: read that earlier. You are right, but then again, i quite like Michael Moore's work. He is right to expose such stuff and the article also provides some positive points of light.

  65. Sheff: apropos move-on tony The Smirking Poodle on Michael Moore's website.

  66. medve

    Its brilliant that he found the film of the FDR speech which sounds almost socialist! That'll shake 'em up a bit.

  67. Sheff: that was one of the +ve points, also the health insurers being frightened of him.

  68. Evening

    Well all my columns of figures add up but I can't be arsed to do the actual online input this evening. Sod it. Beer, telly and onion bhajis and mini spring rolls to nibble instead.

  69. Your Grice: re earlier, Fenella the Witch, wasn't aware of that, but was actually able to watch the Utube of it (a lot are not available in .hu). I have come across greytiles before unfortunately, but in the future i will be able to smile and think of the skittery, ineffectual farts which although only slightly odorous, are more the offensive for it categorisation.

  70. "Fenella the Witch"..FUCKIN HELL...USED TO LOVE Chorlton and the Wheelies...takes me right back to lying around on someone's floor, off my face and arguing about whose turn it was to go and get the beer and nip to the chippie...afternoon eighties dole-mole delight...used to run a daily 50p sweepstake on the outcome of Wacky Races...word to the wise..don't pick Dick Dastardly.

    Watched "Guys and Dolls" the other day on DVD...what a diamond...I'm dropping 'monkeyfish' and picking something Runyonesque..."Monkey the Fish" or something. Strange thought occurred to me...Marlon Brando..Lee Marvin...Dean Martin...all managed to totally 'steal' at least one musical despite being unable to sing..."mar"...is it significant?

  71. **********advisory notice******
    New Sherlock Holmes film.
    Worth watching if you aren't paying for it.

  72. **********clarification*********
    Not worth watching if you are paying for it

  73. Andrew Marr

    Toss on toothpicks.

  74. @ monkeyfish. Good as Guys and Dolls is, it's not anything like as funny or engaging as Runyon's short stories. He's brilliant with his idiosyncratic use of language (especially verbs)and up there with my favourite overlooked/looked-down-upon by literary types/dismissed a 'light' authors. Up there with saki, Flann O'Brien etc.
    If anyone here hasn't read any of those three's work, do give them a go. I'll bet you'll love at least one of them,or I'll give you your money back (not if you've bought hardbacks,mind...)