"Hello, my name is Peter Tatchell and I am standing for Labour. I am a bit of a rebel, but you can trust me because I am from round here."
"Oh sorry, dear, no. I wouldn't trust anyone from round here."
"Hello, my name is Peter Tatchell and I am standing for Labour. I am a bit of a rebel, but you can trust me because I am from round here."
"Oh sorry, dear, no. I wouldn't trust anyone from round here."
The blast was 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and generated a shock wave that knocked people to the ground 60km from the epicentre.And:
The cause was an asteroid or comet just a few tens of metres across which detonated 5-10km above the ground, 100 years ago today.
Eyewitnesses recalled a brilliant fireball resembling a "flying star" ploughing across the cloudless June sky at an oblique angle.
The effects of Tunguska were not limited to Siberia. In London, it was possible to read newspapers and play cricket outdoors at midnight. This is now thought to have been due to sunlight scattered by dust from the fireball's plume.I shall never make fun of Lembit again.
Welland Viaduct was opened in 1878 as part of a line from Glendon Junction (just north of Kettering) to Manton Junction in Rutland, which was built to shorten the route from London to Nottingham. At three-quarters of a mile long, it is the longest masonry viaduct on a British railway.
It’s imposing, this vast viaduct, but hardly beautiful. In her Shell Guide to Northamptonshire, Juliet Smith tells us how to look at it: ‘It is best seen in dull weather or at dusk, when the ugly materials used by its Victorian builders, an indiscriminate mixture of blue and red brick, cannot detract from the effect of the classical proportions of arch and pillar’. The artfulness of the proportions is enhanced by making every ninth pier (marked with a pilaster) slightly wider than the rest, setting up a rhythm that reduces the monotony.
Proportions are all very well, but what’s really impressive is the way the viaduct takes us on a mental journey back in time. To stumble across this structure is to be transported to the world of the Victorians, and to come face to face with their engineering flair, their determination, their ruthless ability to get big things done. All their major engineering projects – bridges, tunnels, sewers, and the rest – take the breath away with their sheer size and nerve.
I can fully understand that ‘being local’ is a plus. As an agent I have enthusiastically produced Focus newsletters complete with maps highlighting the fact that our candidates live in the ward, with a great big X to mark the spot, and a sometimes vaguely-directed arrow to indicate that the Labour/Tory rival lives “somewhere, out there, far away”. And when our candidate doesn't live in the ward, well I've emphasised their other virtues.
But I have never felt the need to claim a local residency where one doesn't exist, nor do I see the need or purpose to elevate ‘localness’ into the prime – and it sometimes seems the only – necessary qualification for elected office.This obsession with "localness" - and the Liberal Democrats are by no means the only party it afflicts - is one of the factors that is leaching all meaningful content from British politics and thus disaffecting the voters.
Sorry. I had not intended to feature Traffic again so soon, but this clip has just turned up on Youtube. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore introduce "The Traffic", and you can't get much more sixties than that.
The clip comes from Peter and Dud's ITV show Goodbye Again. Four hour-long programmes were made under this title in 1968.
A mere 26 years later, Steve Winwood performed the song again on Later with Jools Holland.
Archaeologists exploring a graveyard at St Pancras stumbled across a coffin containing a mysterious set of bones. They were later identified as belonging to a walrus. An explanation for the animal's dignified burial has not yet surfaced.The new St Pancras Church on the Euston Road, as I understand it, has a crypt but no graveyard. Which suggests that the report is talking about Old St Pancras.
I wish Mr Marshall well, but this has to be the last thing Gordon Brown needs.
A Labour MP is set to resign forcing another potentially embarrassing by-election for Gordon Brown in the wake of his fifth place humiliation in Henley.
The Telegraph can reveal that David Marshall, the East Glasgow MP, will stand down because of ill-health on Monday.
The seat, with a 13,507 Labour majority, would normally be considered safe.
However, the Scottish National Party will target the seat and Labour sources told the Telegraph that they believed the seat was "vulnerable."
Given the mess the UK Treasury has made of things recently, we could do worse than send our own chief official on a similar trip.
Australia's top treasury official is taking five weeks leave to look after endangered wombats...
Mr Henry will be looking after 115 hairy-nosed wombats in an isolated spot in northern Queensland, with no mobile phone coverage and two-and-a-half hours on a rough track from the nearest town.
Traffic’s peak was 1970’s John Barleycorn Must Die, a beautiful mix of folk and jazz that has remained one of the most influential British albums ever made. Paul Weller has based so much of his solo career on it, his album Wild Wood should have been called Winwood.
"In the United States, 44 per cent. of families have access to the internet, whereas, in the United Kingdom, only 18 per cent. of families are connected. However, with today's announcement that Alta Vista will provide free internet access for only £10 annually … the UK percentage is likely to grow."In that debate there was no mention of councils. Everyone talked about the importance of the police being able to decrypt the computers of terrorists and paedophiles. (And quite possibly terrorist paedophiles and paedophile terrorists too.)
The dramatic escalation of child protection measures has succeeded in poisoning the relationship between the generations and creating an atmosphere of suspicion that actually increases the risks to children, according to a new study released today by Civitas.This is an issue that the Spiked set - quite rightly - has been banging on about for some time. Their arguments inspired one of my House Points columns a couple of years ago.
In Licensed to Hug Frank Furedi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, argues that children need to have contact with a range of adult members of the community for their education and socialisation, but 'this form of collaboration, which has traditionally underpinned intergenerational relationships, is now threatened by a regime that insists that adult/child encounters must be mediated through a security check' (p.xii).
The scope of child protection has become immense. Since its formation in 2002 the Criminal Records Bureau has issued 15 million disclosures, but the whole operation has now been ratcheted up several notches by the passage of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. This has led to the creation of the Independent Safeguarding Authority which, when it is rolled out in October 2009, will require CRB checks of 11.3 million people - over one quarter of the adult population of England.
Staff from the Tern Hill Hall Hotel, which is located a short distance from the barracks, say it is likely the lights the soldiers saw were Chinese wedding lanterns, which had been let off at the hotel by wedding guests the same night.Mind you, the paper also reports that:
Hotel manager Stuart Willatt said the lanterns were let off on June 7 at about 11pm, just minutes before the soldiers claimed to have seen the lights.
Dozens of residents from all over the county say they have seen mysterious lights moving across the sky in recent weeks.Now read about the Sun front page that started this story off.
I'm looking forward to highlighting the Tories' hypocrisy on civil liberties.Isn't that what the Liberal Democrats should be doing?
ARMY SPOT UFOs OVER SHROPSHIRE
Soldiers report new sightings of craft
Total Politics will be available free online, at least initially, as a virtual e-magazine. And more than 30 political insiders – ranging from Hazel Blears MP to Tony Travers from the LSE – have been signed up as unpaid bloggers.
Dale also has ambitions to make the Total Politics website the ultimate online resource for information about UK politics.
As well as the controlled circulation, Total Politics will be available on newsstands throughout the country at £3.99, and via subscriptions.
Advertising for the launch issue has already been selling well, says Dale. The commercial proposition is a mixture of display advertising, aimed at the public affairs budgets of companies or organisations with a particular political message to get across, and smaller adverts from those who provide services to politicians – such as speechwriters, conference organisers and book publishers.
The editorial mission statement is, says Dale, to be “unremittingly positive about politics”.Given that Total Politics has been set up to compete with the House Magazine, and given that the House Magazine is so dull, it may do very well.
Levy’s recent memoirs are disappointingly sketchy on the subject, but it is known that Jack Straw, Patricia Hewitt and Dr John Reid all appeared as Wombles at one time or another.
Valerie Singleton in The Lavender Hill Mob? Almost too good to be true. I shall have to watch it again, looking out for her.
Despairing of my academic future, my parents enrolled me in the Arts Educational School, which was near Oxford Street at the time, studying every kind of dance and drama.
This was a revelation and I was soon in no doubt about what I wished to do with my life.
I danced in pantos at the Finsbury Park Empire and the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh. I sang with the Ovaltineys, advertising the drink on Radio Luxembourg. I even had a tiny part in The Lavender Hill Mob which starred Alec Guinness.
I don't know what it is about Canadian singers of the 1960s, but it was when I found I had bought CDs by both Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell that I decided I must be a grown up.
In particular it was when I had bought Mitchell's masterpiece, the album Blue, from which this song comes.
And if you are a real Joni Mitchell fan you will also want to see this clip of her singing as Joni Anderson on TV in 1965.
Has there been a big falling-out between Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems' chief strategist and legendary by-election guru, Lord Rennard?
Westminster is awash with rumours that the pair have clashed damagingly about the future direction of the party.
Furthermore, Clegg's deal with David Davis in which he pledged there would be no Lib Dem by-election challenger to the former shadow home secretary, seems to have been hastily taken without much consultation among senior colleagues.
Val was a little nervous as she explained that her aunt Betty Norton had run a maternity home to the gentry in Oxfordshire during the war and that Unity Mitford had been one of her clients. Her aunt's business, in the tiny village of Wigginton, had depended on discretion and she had told no one except her sister that Unity had had a baby. Her sister had passed the story on to her daughter Val.Incidentally, Unity Mitford was the granddaughter of Thomas Gibson Bowles. This blog isn't just thrown together, you know.
I casually asked who she thought the father might be and there was a short silence on the other end of the line before she said: "Well, she always said it was Hitler's."
I must say I was tempted at this point to put down the phone. Christmas was coming and I was very busy. But for some reason I decided to carry on listening to this bizarre tale. Val didn't sound mad, and she said she was merely passing on a family story.
The child was a boy, she believed, and he had been given up for adoption. She didn't want any money; she just wanted me to look into it. So here was the prospect of Adolf Hitler's love child alive somewhere in Britain - it was either the scoop of the century or completely bonkers. But it had to be worth a few hours of my time, even if it turned out to be a dead end.
This case has gone rather quiet lately, hasn't it?
For years we've turned the other cheek as the LibDems have wilfully broken copyright in order to gain political advantage by misrepresenting our material. Now the time has come to say enough is enough.
Yesterday we provided formal notice that we required the copyright infringement to cease, but were disappointed to note that despite an acknowledgement of our request, they actually continued to distribute their copyright infringed material. We have therefore had no alternative but to ask solicitors to draft proceedings which will be presented when the Court opens on Monday morning.
Under the circumstances we will be seeking an injunction and damages. It's quite wrong that the LibDems don't seem to feel that they should be bound by the same copyright laws as everyone else.
Earlier this week, stallholder Eamonn Fitzpatrick, 58, from Northampton, said he would show rival candidates “what politics is all about” by contesting the seat.
Miss Great Britain Gemma Garrett has also announced her interest, asking whether Mr Davis was “a little crazy” to give up his seat for something she described as “a little bit trivial”.
Another potential candidate is the political writer Neil Glass, who has promised to donate half his MP’s salary to charity if elected.
Blackpool pub landlord Hamish Howitt, 55, who is an anti-smoking ban campaigner, is promising to stand up for working class smokers, while the Cleethorpes-based Generalist Party and The Official Monster Raving Loony Party have also announced their intention to field candidates.
I had intended to illustrate this posting with the dustwrapper from T. H. White's The Master which was set on Rockall. I could not find it on the web, but I did find something far better.
I'm pleased to say the expedition went swimmingly and the beacon was erected courtesy of heroic Royal Marines lowered from a Sea-King helicopter. The next morning, still swelled with pride having watched the event as first item on the BBC six o'clock news, the DTI lighthouse department rang to ask me the date of the expedition to be run the following year. Knowing how the navy chiefs had grumbled like mad, even to do this job, I replied with cries of laughter before asking why such a fantasy event was needed in any case? The beacon, was, after all, established.
'Yes' said the DTI man, 'but how else are you going to change the batteries?
'Batteries?' I yelped, what's all this about batteries?'
'Well, Rockall is a bit too far away to be joined up to the National Grid, you know.'
'Oh I see, yes, well, I'll get back to you on this one.'
The above conversation was repeated several times, complete with pauses and yelps, at various levels in the MOD before it was time for me to leave and work in another section. I later heard that a form of words had been concocted to 'deal with the situation' but I never did find out if those batteries are changed regularly.
it was the first venture for the company into the world of children's drama and kick-started a hugely successful 15-year run of tea-time adventure serials. Southern had so much confidence in the series that they invested a huge £6,000 per episode and introduced it with a full colour feature in the TV Times.
It paid off, and proved a pivotal moment in children's television, mixing elements of standard adventure with James Bond type villains and science fiction.
And then came TB, with the farmers pushing for trials to see whether a pilot badger cull would prevent the crisis.I do not know if culling badgers to prevent bovine TB is good science, but I am sure that it is bad politics. It may play well go down well in a few rural constituencies, but it will go down very badly in many more urban and suburban seats. Like Sheffield Hallam, for instance.
“Everyone seems to be up in arms about a badger being culled but what they don’t realise is that we are culling cows all the time,” Arthur added.
Mr Clegg agreed, despite admitting that it wouldn’t go down well with a lot of people in his party.
“We are completely open to these trials. You are right - Britain’s fascination with animals is curious to say the least. But this issue needs to go forward, even though plenty of people in the Liberal Democrats do not like this position.”
One person who will perhaps be a little anxious at the news that David Davis has been replaced as shadow Home Secretary by Dominic Grieve is Conservative MP Damian Green, who has the immigration brief in Grieve's new department.It is clear that Grieve will fit in well with David Cameron's circle. Meanwhile the parallels between Damian Green and John Mortimer's Leslie Titmuss should be explored by the nation's literary critics.
The two men were at Oxford together in the 1970s, when Green (educated at Reading grammar school) was an undergraduate at Balliol College and his new boss (educated at Westminster public school) was at Magdalen. Green, who a contemporary remembers as an earnest sort of chap, was invited to a black-tie dinner at Magdalen and polished his shoes accordingly, but after dinner - and, sadly, history does not record the reason for this - Green found himself picked up in a display of high spirits and deposited in the Cherwell by a group of Magdalen hearties, including Dominic Grieve.
Something a little different this week: a live performance of Nyman's tune from Peter Greenaway's film The Draughtsman's Contract. The sleeve notes to one of my CDs tell me that it is derived from an instrumental interlude from Henry Purcell's opera The Fairy Queen.
The Draughtsman's Contract is a sort of Restoration Blowup - it has a mystery at its heart that is never resolved, yet you feel that if you watch the film just once more all will become clear.
The slightly manic tone of this music matches the film perfectly. Indeed at its best - here and in Drowning by Numbers - the collaboration between Nyman and Greenaway is something rarely equalled in British cinema.
Returning to the pop world, Nyman clearly had a strong influence on The Divine Comedy - think "Tonight We Fly" - both directly and via the band's arranger Joby Talbot, who was his protege.
As someone lucky enough to have grown up in Blue Peter's Golden Age, I am left speechless. But it least it explains why they were so keen to get rid of John Noakes by sending him off on all those dangerous stunts.
For decades they have helped define a more innocent era of children's TV.
But last night it emerged that two of the most popular presenters on Blue Peter - Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves - may have been more than simply colleagues.
During a special edition of The Weakest Link quiz show both appeared to suggest a romantic encounter in the 1970s.
The apparent disclosure was caused by host Anne Robinson asking Miss Singleton about her relationship with Purves and fellow presenter John Noakes.
During an interlude between quiz questions, she recalled that she and Purves had fallen out once during filming in Mexico and did not speak for three weeks.
Turning to Purves, Miss Robinson asked him: 'It wasn't because you were trying to have your way with her was it?'
The 69-year-old laughed it off by saying: 'It might have been but I don't think it was.'
Miss Singleton, 71, then intrigued the audience by countering: 'That was another time.'
When Miss Robinson asked her what country this had happened in, she replied, with a smirk: 'I think we were in England.'
Senior Liberal Democrats MP Alan Beith has spoken of his delight at becoming a Knight.
The long-serving Berwick-upon-Tweed MP becomes Sir Alan in recognition of his services to Parliament.
A former deputy leader of the Lib Dems and its predecessor, the Liberal Party, Sir Alan, 65, was first elected to represent the Northumberland constituency in a by-election in 1973.
Sir Percy was first elected to the Commons for Harborough at a 1916 by-election. There was an official truce between the parties, but he had to overcome strong opposition from Thomas Gibson Bowles, an Independent candidate backed by Lord Northcliffe and the Daily Mail.Bowles's campaign seems to have been concerned with criticism of the way the war was being fought. But the moral is clear.
A shopkeeper who found a packet of seeds from the 1960s in a drawer said he was amazed when they germinated.
Denis Moore had had the seeds since he moved into the village shop in Cheswardine, Shropshire, 31 years ago.
He initially planted the parsley on cotton wool, but nothing happened so he put them in a tray of compost and left them for another three weeks, but still nothing happened.
Mr Moore said: "My paperboy said 'Have you ever heard the saying about parsley seeds, that they go down to the devil and back nine times before they grow'.
"So I gave them another three weeks and they came up."
Mr Clegg is on fact-finding trip to the county and Herefordshire to find out more about the problems facing rural schools and businesses.
After visiting Lydbury North Primary School near Bishop’s Castle, which Shropshire County Council is proposing should be amalgamated with Clunbury school, Mr Clegg was due to meet with farmers at Much Wenlock.Or as the old joke goes...
My leader's gone to Shropshire.Later: Nick Clegg has just been interviewed on Channel 4 News with Lydbury North Primary School and protesting pupils in the background.
I wish you wouldn't keep dragging up that GQ interview just to get a cheap laugh.
The Portugal manager Luiz Felipe Scolari is to become Chelsea manager following the conclusion of Euro 2008.
The Brazilian was one of the favourites for the job, but was not expected to make a decision about his future until after the tournament.
"He was the outstanding choice," said Chelsea in a statement. "Felipe has great qualities. He is one of the world's top coaches with a record of success at country and club level, he gets the best out of a talented squad of players and his ambitions and expectations match ours."
"Out of respect for his current role as head coach of the Portuguese national team, and to ensure minimum disruption to this work, there will be no further comment from Chelsea FC nor from Felipe about his new role until his employment with us commences."
We know this isn't going to be popular among a great many ConservativeHome readers and 92% of adopted Tory candidates but we ought to publicly nail our colours to the mast and stand up with Ann Widdecombe, Norman Tebbit, Matthew d'Ancona, Melanie Phillips and Frank Field as supporters of the Government's attempts to introduce a period of 42 days' pre-charge detention.Leaving aside the fact that if you find yourself in that company it is probably a good idea to re-examine your conclusions, this tells you a lot about the psychology of Tory activists. They see themselves as the pro-police party, and cannot stand the idea that Labour can be keener to give the police wider powers than they are.
what the past few days has reminded me of was Jim Callaghan's rearguard action in the turbulent late 1970s, no majority at all and often dependent on what could be squeezed from the then-dominant Ulster Unionists to get his legislation through.And the suggestion that the government will pay to compensation to anyone detained past 28 days but not subsequently charged puts me in of a scene from the 1980 British gangster film The Long Good Friday.
The new leaders of Derby City Council claim to have uncovered a £5m budget black hole created by the previous Labour/Conservative administration.
The Liberal Democrat group, which took control after last month's election victory, says the council went hugely over budget in some areas, including £2.7m in adult care.
It claims there is a £120m backlog in the maintenance and repair of council buildings and that the council is in danger of losing £500,000 of funding to expand the city's cycling route network because not enough has been done to increase the number of cycle paths to date.
The Lib Dems also believe that the council has lost about £1m in parking income.
Makes the Shropsire Star look a bit tame, doesn't it?
A discarded cigarette caused a small fire on grassland in Harborough yesterday (June 8).
It is thought that a motorist may have thrown a cigarette out of their car window in Leicester Road near to the Forest Gate Vauxhall garage.
Harborough firefighters were informed but a passer-by had already put the fire out with a bucket of water.
Ann Widdecombe rings, urging me to draw your attention to her website and the section for younger readers in particular. When I investigate it I find the Widdy Web Junior to be mostly about the cats Ann has known through her life.
The first of these was Jimmy, who:
"Used to go and meet my father every night when he came home on the bus from his work and he missed my brother when he went off to boarding school."
A sad tale, redolent of middle-class life of the period. But we can be consoled by the thought that Jimmy will undoubtedly have received a first-rate education.
in the two and a half years since Cameron became Tory leader the Lib Dems have gone through three leaders themselves and still do not have effective rhetoric for dealing with NuCon. What do they say about a party that has surged in the polls and now looks as though it will form the next government?Smithson suggests that the rhetoric used in the "We're Off to a Great Start" e-mail we all received from Nick Clegg a few days ago does not cut the mustard:
Our message of building a fairer society through lower taxes and a better deal for hard-working families is being very well received. Many people are already telling us that we have more substantial policies for local people than David Cameron's Conservatives, who aren't even bothering to spell out what they stand for.As Smithson says, "It just appears so limp." And the need for us to find an answer to Cameron is all the stronger in Henley, as we are in a clear second place to the Conservatives there.
This makes sense to me. Nick Clegg's current Mr Angry, plague on both your houses act in the Commons will soon pale and there is a need for more light and shade in his performance.
My view, which I have argued here before, is for for Clegg and others in the leadership to go with the grain of public opinion and accept that Cameron is sincere in his desire to change his party. The big question then to raise repeatedly whether the wider Conservative party would allow the leadership to follow the path it is setting out. Attack the Tory party not its leader.
When Cameron does something that is broadly “liberal”, like say the stance on gay partnerships, then Clegg ought to be praising him - a move that could accentuate divisions between the leadership and the wider Tory party.
Later: It looks as though this is old news. Suzanne Fletcher had the story a month ago.
The Liberal Democrats have picked a social worker to challenge Labour MP Dari Taylor for the Stockton South seat at the next general election.
The party selected Jacquie Bell as their prospective parliamentary candidate at a meeting at the weekend.
Mrs Bell, who is from Sheffield, has previously challenged William Hague for the Richmond constituency.
Pullman links to the website set up to protest against the move: No to Age Banding.
A month or so ago I had a letter from each of my publishers telling me that they had commissioned some research and that, as a result of the findings, they were going to place an age-guidance figure on all their books, saying that this one was for children of 9+, that one for 7+, and so on.
My immediate response was to say, as vigorously as I could, "Not on my books, you're not." And, to their credit, each of my publishers behaved impeccably - they said, in effect: "We wouldn't do anything without your consent, and if you'd rather not have them there, you don't have to."
However, it soon became clear that other writers hadn't had that sort of understanding, and had been told that it was going to happen, like it or not. Not only writers: one editor was told that she had to put such a figure on all her books in the future, because it was now "an industry standard".