Bit sore

 Hmm. Take two paracetamol and call me in the morning.

Actually, better make that three paracetamol…

How did I miss Richard Hawley?

One of the most difficult things about emigrating is keeping up with things back home. Sure, you want to embrace the new lifestyle and the culture of your new home, but that doesn’t mean that you should completely lose touch with the land of your birth.

And thus, when I find myself watching Sky News and finding out about a musician I’ve never heard of – the surprise nominee for the Best Solo Male at the upcoming BRIT Awards – and he’s from Sheffield, I know I’m letting it slip a bit.

Richard Hawley is 41 years old* and has been working in music for years as a session musician for the likes of REM, Gwen Stafani, Nancy Sinatra, All Saints and Arctic Monkeys.
His first solo album came out in 2000 – long before I left the UK, but he’s achieved little commercial success. His albums to date have all had a Sheffield reference to them, including his 2007 offering Lady’s Bridge, promoted by the release of special edition Henderson’s Relish bottles. Too cool.

But it was his comments on Sheffield’s steel industry that made me laugh. He, like me, gets a little depressed and nostalgic when he goes to Kelham Island Museum. As he points out:

Working in Sheffield’s steel industry was a job that had dignity.
Can you see there being Call Centre Museums in 30 years time?

“Look, that’s where your dad plugged ‘is phone in”
“I can remember, me laptop used t’ sit rate ‘ere”

No, because those jobs don’t have dignity. No-one wants to remember them.  

As for the music – Roy Orbison meets Jarvis Cocker, Morrissey and Nick Cave. Perhaps a little Country/Folky/Pub Crooner for some, but it’s worth a listen anyway. Plenty to watch and listen to on YouTube.

I won’t mention his taste in football clubs. He has none.

* so getting on a bit… (P.S. Hi Ant! *grin*)

Whose rights – who’s right?

Did you enjoy your Valentines day?

Stupid looking pink sparkly thing on your blog? Soppy card? Chocolates? Flowers?
WAIT! You bought flowers?!?

If you’re in the USA (and a fair number of accidental tourists to 6000 miles… are) then your lovely bunch of roses probably came from Columbia or Ecuador and were grown and cut for the love of your life by exploited workers. Still, it’s better than other Columbian crops imported into the USA, I guess. Fairness in Flowers is an organisation campaigning for better rights for cut flower workers. Their page is worth a read.

Human rights organisations and campaigners do a great (if highly subjective) job of alerting us to these issues. However, I can’t help but think that their position is undermined by the odd stupid campaign thrown in, seemingly because some organisations have nothing better to do.

This week was pretty quiet, so Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, dived in to the row over the Mosquito device, dramatically calling it:

a sonic weapon directed against children and young people

and arguing that its use constitutes:

a disproportionate interference with an individual’s right to a private life

Quite a soundbite over a device whose effect is compared to “the level of irritation of going downstairs without turning off your alarm clock – you can ignore it for a couple of minutes but after five minutes it starts to get annoying.”
Woo. That’s infringing my right to watch Vuyo Mbuli in peace right there.  

Evidently, the week in which Garry Newlove was kicked to death in front of his family by a gang of teenagers after confronting them when they vandalised his car, was a little busier for Shami, despite the fact that the anti-social mob had long been causing a “disproportionate interference” with his and his family’s right to a private life.

Shami also missed the death of Mi Gao Huang Chen, beaten to death by a group of teenagers who regularly gathered outside and vandalised his takeaway shop.

I’m well aware that these incidents are rare and far more serious than the usual issue of chavs outside the local chippy, but they are the product of an escalation of that problem – one that can be prevented by using the Mosquito. For example, a South Wales shopkeeper says:

The problem we have is large gangs of youths that congregate in the entrance way – hanging around, drinking, and I know other narcotics can be involved.
It ranges from them being annoying to intimidating customers and staff to outright physical assault.
One customer has been mugged for their alcohol, and in the time I have been here there have been three occasions where someone has tried to stab me.
The problem comes and goes. When it gets bad it generally lasts for three of four weeks.
At certain times before we counted over 40 people outside the shop.

The Mosquito has reduced the problem massively. It still happens, but nowhere near the same amount. It has had a positive effect. Customers have praised us for it.

or how about this:

Gurmes Chatta, 54, runs a general dealers on Chiswick Road, Hylton Castle, an area where teenagers regularly congregate.
In recent years he has seen damage done to his shop by yobs kicking footballs and has suffered verbal abuse. But now Mr Chatta says the problems have virtually been wiped out by his Mosquito device.

I’m also well aware that more needs to be done to sort out the problem of anti-social teenage behaviour than just moving them on from trouble hotspots. But hey, it’s not a bad start.
I think Shami has missed the point. Jumping on the trendy bandwagon of criticising the Mosquito while conveniently ignoring the rights of the thousands of people whose lives are made a misery by anti-social teenage gangs is blinkered. That sort of thing puts me right off listening to anything else her lefty group has to say.
And her doing it in an irritating high pitched whine which annoys people of all ages is somewhat hypocritical.

No. Don’t ban the Mosquito. Use it wisely as part of a bigger scheme to get teenagers off the streets.

And send me one so I can enjoy the footy in peace over the weekend.
Do you perhaps have one that will deter wives from wandering in front of the screen just as a goal goes in?
That would also help.

Constant whining sound from crashed plane

Some people just shouldn’t open their mouths. One doesn’t have to look any further than the excellent (and blogrolled) spEak You’re bRanes to learn that. That site alone shows the dangers inherent in allowing people a soapbox and an audience.

And now there’s example number two: Mark Tamburro.

Mark is from Oxford.
Immediately, that puts him into one of three categories: 

  1. Stuck-up, pompous arse.
  2. Ill-educated druggie.
  3. Cool, good-looking bloke who just works there and will be moving to South Africa soon.

Mark was on the BA038 flight whose engines apparently failed on final approach to Heathrow last week. 
Immediately, that puts him in one further category:

  1. Bloody lucky to be alive.


Great bit of parking

But now Mark is on the BBC website (and many others) moaning about how crap the staff at the airport were, landing himself (if not his plane) quite neatly into the pompous arse group and  reminding us of his disappointing inclusion in the bloody lucky to be alive category.

Mr Tamburro said he and his two travelling companions had to leave their hand luggage in their overhead lockers on the aeroplane and so had no money or personal belongings on them

He said the BA staff who were looking after the passengers rationed water, the only drink which was initially offered to them in the departure area, and did not offer any food.

His story doesn’t quite tally with this post from one of BA’s ground staff at Heathrow though, which makes very interesting reading. And it’s also interesting to note that he seems to be the only one of the 136 passengers that’s whining about their treatment.

A quick google of Mark shows us that he is a little overweight, owns a bit of a racehorse called Cossack Dancer and has a beard. It also tells us that he writes letters to the council  moaning about them setting taxi fares so high in South Oxfordshire. Except that, as any fule kno, the council doesn’t actually set the taxi fares in South Oxfordshire. Oops.

Is this painting a picture for you, too?
People like Mark annoy me. He’s just been fortunate enough to survive a plane crash in which even the pilot thought “everyone on board was going to die” and all he can do is whinge.
I think that Mark might just be setting himself up for a little bit of extra cash from his compensation claim.

Incidentally, since Mark works for Nokia, he may be the perfect person to explain to investigators, BA and Boeing as to why the plane’s computer system didn’t respond, as he’s obviously an expert on crap, bug-ridden software. 

Update: Tues 22nd Jan.

Just read a ~2000 word piece on the BA038 incident in today’s Cape Times, which they shamelessly stole borrowed from The Independent in the UK. 16 passengers interviewed (not including dear Mark) and not one complaint. And that despite being thrust with a microphone. The evidence just keeps adding up…  

Update: Thurs 24th Jan.

Ooh look! It’s back (by popular demand).
Please THINK before you comment. I’m in a particularly “deletey” mood today.

Don’t get in touch

Too many people getting in touch with you from your blog?
Too many frivolousness communications* [sic]?

Well, Mark W Beech has stumbled upon the answer in his brilliantly entitled post, Teach me a lesson:
Make people buy you stuff if they want to get in touch!

I have set up the “contact me” page on this site to include an Amazon wish list full of Very Short Introduction books on all manner of subjects, and encourage people wanting to contact me to buy me one of those books and send me their message as a gift note.

And yes, true to his word, there follows a list of 182 books, each costing about £5.

Yep – that should certainly cut down on the number of “frivolousness communications” he receives.
But that’s not the best bit.

I have – admittedly briefly – scanned his blog back to January 2006 and done some rudimentary calculations and it would appear that his site has garnered a whole 3 (three) comments in that 2 year period.

And two of them were from him.  

I think that if I were to teach Mark a lesson, it would most likely be to not start building that bookshelf just yet.

Please take the time to give him a comment (that bit is still free) and tell him you saw him here.

* 6000 miles welcomes “frivolousness communications”