Friday, 28 November 2014

An experience shared is an experience doubled

I'm off to see Morrissey at the O2 tomorrow, in that there London. It'll be the sixth time I've seem Moz live and I'm very excited, because his recent album, World Peace Is None Of Your Business, has some great tracks. Here's the standout (for me), I'm Not A Man. Warning: it's slow burn, and takes until 2 minutes 43 to hit its stride. It's worth the wait though.

The excitement is tempered a little, however, and not (just) because the venue is an enormo-dome and I'm right at the back, up in the gods. No, no. This will be my sixth Mozza pilgrimage, but the first without my oldest, greatest friend, The Man Of Cheese. And however good Steven Patrick might be, it just won't be the same. Mate, if you're reading this, you will certainly be much missed. This old chestnut is for you - hopefully tomorrow's will not be the last songs he will ever sing.


An old school friend posted his travel map on Facebook. He's well travelled, and I felt inspired to make mine.

I am not well travelled.

Martin’s Travel Map

Martin has been to: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Guernsey, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican. Get your own travel map from Matador Network.

Not that it would change how the map looks, but my country count would at least be healthier if they considered England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as separate countries.

Anyway... dear Father Christmas. All I would like this year, please, is three return flights to New Zealand. I have been a good(ish) boy, and will leave a mince pie out for you (plus carrot for Rudolph) in exchange for the aforementioned tickets. Many thanks and keep up the good work, Martin.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Order! Order!

I went to Parliament yesterday for a meeting. No, DC is not suddenly seeking my views on how to win over an increasingly disenfranchised electorate. It was a work thing involving a company who are a Crown supplier and so were able to get sponsorship from an MP to hold their meeting there.

After the meeting had finished, I thought, "Well, how often am I going to be here? Might as well have a look around." After nearly bumping into David Blunkett, I ended up in the queue to sit in the Commons public gallery. Now Wednesday is Opposition Day in the Commons, which means the subjects debated are chosen by the Opposition. The debate I watched was on the performance of the economy, proposed by, amongst others, Edwards Miliband and Balls (though neither put in an appearance, as far as I can tell). In fact, the debate was opened by the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Chris Leslie. The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Priti Patel, responded on behalf of the Government. So no Osborne either.

Anyway, if you're interested you can watch the debate here and of course the whole thing is written up in Hansard.

So what observations can I add? Well, I joined the debate partway through, by which time the already sparse population of MPs had thinned still further. A good proportion (at least a fifth) of those that remained were on their mobile phones the whole time. I can't be sure (because you're not allowed to take binoculars into the public gallery) but from the way they were mostly stabbing and swiping at the screen, I'd guess that most of them were either checking email or tweeting. In my view, that's pretty slack at best, and disrespectful to those speaking, not to mention those they represent.

Oh, and whilst MPs can batter away at their mobiles in the Commons, the public have to leave their phones outside the gallery. Odd.

What else? Parliament is full of flat-screen TVs. They come in pairs, one with a green screen, one with a red screen. These detail what is going on at that moment in the Commons and Lords respectively. And in the Commons itself, more flat-screens display who is speaking and their constituency, whilst still more display the time and a countdown timer for the speeches (yesterday there was a six minute limit in force on back-bencher speeches).

What I can also tell you is that the whole experience left me wishing I'd been more politically involved as a younger man, because it's probably a bit late now to start trying to be an MP, not least because I'd have to align myself with a mainstream political party, none of which fits me very well.

And if you're concerned that all the above might lead to this blog becoming more political... well, it might. Certainly I've been having internal monologues for some time along the lines of "what I'd do if I ran the country?" And what's that if not a manifesto? But rest assured, I'll try to keep it in check. You might get the manifesto, sometime, but you'll still get the observations, the TV/film/book reviews, the music and the Clandestine Classics. It's just that if I ever enter the world of politics, at any level, you can probably expect to read about it...

P.S. If you can be bothered with going through the security checks, Parliament has a nice café with free wi-fi too.

Friday, 14 November 2014

It's life, Jim, but not as we know it

In our age of Internet memes and instant sharing, I know with certainty that I will not be the first person to make this joke, but presumably this new Coke Life implicitly makes the ordinary red label stuff... Coke Death?

Coke Life. Lower calorie. Not low calorie. It'll still rot your teeth too, kids.
Life. It's got a green label, so it must be good for you.