Saturday, 28 June 2008

Ennobling Stuff

Last night I was privileged to see Lord Levy expatiating on why Gordon Brown should not be PM. I can think of lots and lots of reasons, but none would co-incide with Lord Levy's. His objection to GB appears to be that he hasn't any rich friends.

It was a fascinatingly nasty thesis, and what made it even more compelling was that it had not crossed its exponent's mind that having rich friends - even if a true sine qua non for power - is not a proper basis for power in a democratic society. That Tony has left, taking his rich friends with him doesn't alter his successor's right to be PM. And Lord Levy - a man without democratic mandate of any kind - should put up or shut up. I take it that he is free to take his money away, now that he has got his title. Perhaps he is peeved that some of his mates can't buy one; this is the only interpretation I can put on his objection to the PM's "not having rich friends of his own."

Nobody outside the Labour Party gives a shit that it is £20 million in debt. Although given what GB has done to the country in terms of evil PFS buildings, it is no surprise, it just doesn't matter to anybody but the labour party. People like Wilde and Sheridan made a career out of being fabulously broke, and I personally think that the ruling party going into bankruptcy would be edge-of-the-seat stuff. Rock on, I say.

Friday, 20 June 2008

True Love

Appallingly, I have a crush on somebody called Giles. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking firstly, Bold Move, Krenzle; for all the Gileses you know are even now upping their Yurts and trundling off to Outer Mongolia as fast as their 4X4s will carry them. And secondly you are thinking, Giles Who? Nobody is called Giles. Foden? Brandreth? By all that's holy pray not. Don't be so silly; Giles Coren of course.

Of course, for he is short and kinda sorta fubsy and sports some serious facial fungus. It is all quite perfect, for I could never smooch a somebody beardy. It hurts. I had one mate at University who had very soft and furry designer stubble, but he was exceptional - and looking at Giles Coren, one just knows that his beardiness is scratchy, just like you know about suralun's. Another mate - this one female with the soft beardless skin that that so frequently implies - has a husband of a bearded type, and her face is always reddened and rough around her mouth and chin. "Chronic beard-burn," she explains.

But he bounces about being full of beans and any other nosh he can neck, having far too much energy and eating - really - like a stevedore. Also I think he is really REALLY cocky. Together with his constant limited flirtation with Sue Perkins I find that very comforting.

However, there is no need to stop at Giles Coren - not for me, at least - for it is summer now, and Wimbledon is here, with the great joy that is the international tennis circuit. WONDER at The Great British Hope's hopeless haircut, as he has a wedge at the back and an outgrown flat top at the front. GAWP at the Returning Champion's continuing passion for dark coloured underwear in defiance of the transparent combi of Wimbledon's all white dress code and sweating 2 buckets per hour. LAUGH at the ridiculous behaviour of all and sundry when they are surprised by any form of weather - newspaper hats on hot days, expressions of continuing surprise on rainy ones. I love the summer.

Another way I can tell it's summer is I'm so easily pleased. Everything is great. I like Doctor Who, I can't get over how much I enjoyed a DVD about a pig-faced girl, and indeed another about a group of Americans reading Jane Austen. Must be the Vitamin D. I am even pleased by my friend's choice of name for her new daughter*; just love the summer. Even when it rains.

* Penelope, Jane Austen Book Club, Sasha

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Left Hand, Right Hand

I see there is famine in Ethiopia again. I see this largely because the tv is awash with children in dire need of food, but also because I have started receiving the emails from Concern International, which I get whenever some new crisis pitches up (about once every six weeks or so.) Sometimes I feel there is a point to giving - apparently £50 can buy a whole load of Plumpynut (yes it really is called that - hi-energy nosh for malnourished people). Clearly money well spent (unlike on the Myanmar crisis, where none of the aid was allowed in.) This makes me feel Extremely Guilty about even contemplating the purchase of, for instance, £30 worth of skincare, let alone frittering another £20 on re-rooting Sindy dolls.

However, I do not particularly favour Concern International, and this is why. In the first place, there is the issue of their paying £1000 a day for "consultancy" services. Nobody is worth that much, and I suspect that anybody who earns that much can afford to donate their time for nothing. It also smacks of imposing the Will of the Developed, which always makes me antsy. Having worked with people myself, I am aware that many of them need stuff imposed for their own or their community's good, but it still makes me nervous.

Secondly, Concern do not provide you with the biggest bang for your charitable buck. My faves are Unicef, because they send Happy Stories and pictures of Saved Children Smiling. I know this is shallow but frankly it is also what you want. Concern just carries on finding more and more things wrong with the world and it just makes me DESPERATE. I feel I should sell my house and go and live in a poor place and catch something nasty - which I don't plan on doing, so that the only net result is I feel guilty and resentful.

Resentment, I find, does not encourage generosity. It just means you sit about thinking THERE IS NOTHING TO BE DONE IT IS ALL HOPELESS.

When we come to my great question about charitable giving - how much is enough? A fixed amount? A percentage of your income? Take home or net? Enough to feed your proportion of the LDC population? More, because I am still working and there won't be much to be got from me when I'm living off Mr Brown's 2p a year pension (in a boat due to global warming. Or an upturned umbrella if I can't afford a boat.) ? Apart from more than we are currently sending, how much is enough? Is it measured by what you can afford, or what is needed, or what makes a difference?

Every time I see a Judge on television I have other thoughts about charity; namely that I would happily stump up a few quid a month to sponsor sharp but poor women with a bit of nous and a sense of justice (although The Word is, that this lack of women QCs is due to the age of the Bench, and the number of women employed as barristers 40 years ago. So maybe I should be agitating for a Compulsory Retirement Age for the old codger QCs.)

I am genuinely curious about whether anybody has any answers. Just enough to assuage my guilt would be fine, if only somebody would tell me how much that is and where it should go.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

The Hireling

Many features of the final of The Apprentice are just too heart-warming to be passed over without a little gloat.

It was so very pleasing to see the dream team of Alex and Helene squabble and bicker and point fingers at each other throughout, and highly entertaining to see them ably "assisted" by Kevin. Between explaining how unjust it was that he had been dismissed so early and hadn't won it, he crept round Alex like a cut-price fight fixer, bigging him up and dissing Helene. Having chosen the cherub-faced toxic-bar for their team, there was little Alex could say. Last week Nick described him as "subtle", which I take it is Management Speak for sly and untrustworthy, so he probably didn't want to say anything anyway. That really reduces your chances of successful slyness and untrustworthiness.

After a nail-biting middle portion of show where I gloomily assumed that Glum Helene and Creepy Alex were doomed to success, for the designer had suggested a brilliant (though blatantly expensive) bottle, and it looked like this would swing it for them, hurrah! it was a total fix and the others won. I did wonder what Helene meant when she said she was glad to be working with Alex - was she looking forward to blaming him when they failed (as she did, looking satisfied for the first time in the show)? Or was it that she was too stupid to realise that she and Alex were by some margin the weaker candidates - those who had signally failed throughout to show any real ability? A woman keener on the Good Excuse than the Good Winning, I sagely concluded.

And then Alex wept in the back of the taxi. I found this made me like him for the first moment ever. Clearly still a prize prick, as soon as he cried, I decided maybe he was not all bad. He was back on form on "You're Fired" through, and I remembered I should know better. He was given a pink hairbrush that tells him how lovely his hair is, in many different phrases. The perfect gift, and I was surprised he could resist giving it a go immediately. He should just love it. And deep down, I do like the vainglorious dorks to be happy.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Viva Lucinda!

Time for all good chaps to stand up and say, hurrah that Lucinda won't be Surulun's Apprentice!

We are all too prone to wish for our favourite characters to "win" on tv contest shows, but the truth about The Apprentice is that the prize is one anybody with the full complement of marbles would pay good money to avoid.

Work in a shabby office in Brentwood? With a grumpy little scratchy faced gremlin shouting and harumphing at you? Having to wear ugly clothes and have people say horrible personal remarks to you? For a salary cut? Why would Lucinda want any such prize? Why would anybody?

This probably accounts for the overall repulsiveness of the candidates on the show. Anybody who would want to work in such conditions is clearly wanting in either imagination or common sense - and neither type is somebody you'd miss much down the pub. Or in the office, come to that. Lucinda was too polite and too clever and too amusingly dressed to be part of the gruff little gremlin's business empire. I wish her well, and couldn't combine that with wishing her Viglen. Two of the remaining candidates are quite hideous in terms of morals and manners, and they richly deserve it. They are also eye-poppingly incompetent and cannot identify good practice when they see it. Quick! to Brentwood with them!

All good people say amen.


I just accidentally caught Take That in concert on T4. It was amazing. Gary Barlow sounds exactly like a Alex from A Clockwork Orange - it's like the character has been reincarnated as a Butlin's Redcoat. And I have never seen four people work so hard in my life. Mr Barlow is nearly not a Suet Pudding Boy any longer; though Mark Owen can still find an inch to pinch, it is on Mr Barlow's bum, where anybody should be a bit squodgy.

Jason Orange and Howard did pole-dancing, which was frankly terrifying. It explained exactly why no woman frequents such clubs, as did the remainder of the number where the ladies wore the silver jackets (though disappointingly not the trowsis) and the lads did the lap dancing. Any man opening a club for the ladies' market runs the risks of instance arrest for what looks like some sort of shape-up-and-sexually-harass to music class.

Then they all stood on a piano and made the audience sing, Gary Barlow terrifying people into acquiescence with his bizarre Malcolm McDowall channelling and Howard skipping about like a loose-limbed 6 and a half foot puppet. He's the scariest one to have on your lap.

Gutted I didn't go now.