I am on holiday until mid-way through August, so this blog will not be updated for a while. Indeed my crocked laptop being well broken (as the youth say) means updates are going to be sporadic to say the least for some time yet.

Anyway, while I won’t be here to check on the blog and all its readers (from Michigan to Sri Lanka, from Motherwell to Kuwait, I thank you all for visiting at least once), can I please direct you to some places you may like to wander to in the meantime:

Koopa does very good things with bleeps and beats

This man thought he told you to stay in the car

Dizzy is a geek. And politico. It’s a good mix

David Cameron is not the only one using the word “twat” – I used to chuckle muchly to this blog, if it’s still updated you’ll enjoy it too….

to set

Quite ill last night…tried to get through it, slumped asleep almost the moment I landed home…Dreams quite unusual, abstract, the cutting-room floor situation. A cheque from “Ruth”, or in that name, moral questions running through the thought processes about cashing it in. Railways and level crossings running at right angles to the road. Doubtlessly something else mildly sexual. Woke very early on, remained in a half-asleep state consciously forcing myself awake until around five o’clock.

To set…as in jelly, or bombs. Or is that “to plant”? Our continued bastardisation of verbs. Something must be wrong, there always is something. Jumping to conclusions like stepping-stones only in this instance the water isn’t shallow. Maybe there was deep water in the dreams, too, although I had been staring into the Albert Edward Dock for the best part of the whole weekend just gone…

Later: a holiday. The readership of this blog has recently broken the 1,000 barrier, and thanks to the background programmes I use, I know all the popular towns from which readers come. I thank you all for visiting. For most of August access will be almost impossible but I know you’ll find other parts of the Internet to visit. Right now: need to finish a bit of writing and reviewing. Another course to…well, I suppose, set…

Norwich North – analysis pornography

The by-election result in Norwich North, an election won by the Conservative Chloe Smith following the somewhat forced resignation of Ian Gibson, was blogged and tweeted endlessly throughout the day. I have my own analysis at the end of this blog, but to begin with (although some posts on blogs may well be “trolls” but…) here are some of the current blog comments;

The magnitude of this defeat shows that this was more than just a protest vote and it was more than simply a reaction to the expenses crises – that excuse did not wash after June 4 and it will not wash this time.No, a swing of this proportion – not unlike the one to Labour in the Wirral in 1997 – is a sign of embedded culture change. It shows that the country is ready and willing – if not craving – to vote for a Tory government in substantial numbers.”Alex Smith”LabourList

If, with the government having screwed up the economy for a generation, lead us into the Iraq war and not winning in Afghanistan, got unpopular personnel at the top, were worst offenders on expenses etc and we still can’t beat them, we should be very afraid for the GE. (“Simon R” LibDemVoice)

This was an average by-election & doesnt tell us much except to confirm the softness of the Tory vote & the potential for Labours to collapse. Looking at all the evidence I still see no signs of a Conservative landslide(“plumbus”LibDemVoice

It is utterly astonishing that we were not able to show the electorate what a disgusting sham the Conservatives are on expenses – not having sacked the three ‘flipping’ front-benchers – on top of their overall lack of any policies whatsoever. “RobertC”LibDemVoice

As someone who welcomed a Labour victory in 1997 the wheel has turned full circle and most of us are eagerly anticipating a similarly spectacular comeuppance for you in 2010.”Andrew Webber” LabourList

As for Labour and its future, it certainly doesn’t look good, but I do warn my party not to get carried away with this result. It is tremendous yes, but there is still along way to go to reach government again. “Scott Carlton”ConservativeHome

The result will be recorded in history as a Conservative Gain, leaving the acres of analysis and comment to the archives. Something does need to be said about each of the party performances in turn, not least because this was the first opportunity given to voters to comment on the expenses scandal. Clearly voters who felt that Labour’s “star chamber” had pushed Ian Gibson out for the sake of looking reactive to the expenses mess had their say in capital letters.

I would liked to have seen a better result from April Pond, the Liberal Democrat candidate. Our by-election machine has clearly not been working properly for some time now, as seen in Crewe & Nantwich and now Norwich North. The Focus newsletter onslaughts may need to be re-evaluated, not least the infamous bar-charts showing distorted statistics. Electorates may have fallen for this in the past; the results recently suggest limited returns on such “old standbys”.

Labour have tried clutching at straws since the result was announced, it was like watching a badly written character in an otherwise good play. This seat should not have been lost, but once again a complacent and lazy Labour party have been shown more than just a scant disregard from voters. It is not enough to say that Gordon Brown is working terribly hard on the matters of the day – on June 4th, and now again, his actions have been commented upon in shouts of derison. The country is exhausted with Labour’s destruction of everything it touches: we need Gordon Brown out of office, and a general election held immediately.

UKIP and Green supporters are very happy, and so they should be. Both parties recorded their best ever by-election results. UKIP are probably still riding the high-tide from the European Elections, although continued high results like this could suggest that they really are setting themselves in a position as Britain’s “alternative conservative”. Green Party supporters may have hoped for better than fifth after topping Norwich last month, but to get 10% in this part of the country is nevertheless an encouraging sign.

Now for the also-rans. Craig Murray wanted to “put an honest man in parliament”; his blog suggests he had difficulty in asking the BBC to give him air time and problems with the Post Office regarding his election DVD as standard election communication. To go from a standing start in an election like this, with a media like ours, was always going to be difficult, although some of Murray’s blog posts suggest he has a tendency to make overblown conclusions from simple affairs.

The BNP did very badly. Which is a good thing.

The Libertarian Party made their debut, following months of blogosphere hype, getting less than 40 votes. Just thirty-six. An absolute disaster from a bunch who claimed to be the next big thing in politics.

Bill Holden (independent), Peter Baggs (independent), and Anne Fryatt (NOTA), scored very badly too. Traditional protest vote candidate Alan Hope from the Loonies got only 144, a sign perhaps that even this group have run out of voters.

For this election to have any long-term significance, it needs to be the rock that falls squarely on the roof of Labour as it crashes down the mountain. There is always talk of “Brown’s last chance”: for this to be a genuine observation Brown needs to realise the level to which his party has fallen in popularity. His governance is laughable, his party exhausted, his standing snake-belly low. Norwich North will be spun by Labour’s robotic loyalists as “just one of those things”. Had they any idea of the real world they would be preparing their general election literature and brushing off their CVs.


Right – LibDemmery in a general sense, paying the bank something, anything, getting the High Voltage profiles written, packing for next month’s holiday, getting some food in the house, working out how much monies I have for the next week, reminding myself never to drink “Tennis Elbow” again, work out why someone from the Isle of Man visited this blog recently, remembering where and when I’m supposed to be covering the Tringe, working out when I can get the gas meter changed, working out when I can try BT again for the internets, sorting out a bit of a piss-up next week, sorting out when I can get to Frickley for the first away match of the season as well as Bury for the first FCUM meeting of the season…

I /think/ that’s everything…


Thomas Burridge is the eighteen year old candidate for the UK Libertarian Party at tomorrow’s Norwich North by-election. His age has caused some comment, balanced between “refreshing change” to “way too young”. The law changed on minimum age for candidature some years ago with Thomas probably the first 18 year old to be chosen.

Age limits are one of those great controlling levels Government loves to set, not least New Labour who loves any kind of nanny-state control more than most. Recently boosting up the age at which someone can buy cigarettes to eighteen (although not the age of consent from 16, meaning once you’ve had sex at that age you presumably just roll over to fall asleep…)

The more serious point is that of education, where New Labour are once again in a glorified mess, typified by having no actual Department for Education. Their desire to have 50% of school-leavers going to Uni was based on picking a figure from the air; reality has shown massive drop-out rates and students lumbered with a “mortgage on learning” around their necks if they do graduate. My memory from high school is very clear – at 16 I knew that it was sensible to have a ‘fork in the road’ at that age, not least because so many age limits are placed at sixteen – marriage, joining the army, tax on income. Of course moving the age at which someone stays as school to eighteen is a massive error – it forces people for whom formal education is already unsuitable into endless months of activity pushing them further away from the life they would prefer to lead. This eagerness to micro-manage our lives is typical of New Labour; they would rather force all citizens into school, uni, and work, rather than allow people to go out to see the real world.

It is crazy enough that a 16 year old is mature enough, in the eyes of the state, to have consensual sexual intercourse but not enough to walk into a polling station to vote on the parties allowing their wage to be taxed. It is deeply “unjoined” government to ask 16 year olds to stay on at school until they are 18 and then allow them the vote – what would run through your mind but “Now I can punish the party which stuck me here for so long”.

There exists enough vocational courses post-16 to allow those who have done with school to continue with education. New Labour have once again chased targets rather than followed sensible policy. If the State wants to give some sense of maturity and adult status to people when they turn 16, something with which I agree should happen, then the only change to be made is giving them the right to vote.

Moving up the school leaving age is social engineering gone mental, and should be stopped.


Goosnargh, night. Just after coming home from the beach (sand bank, waves crashing, saving an animal from drowning), “our lot” in a holiday camp type home, listening to music. I spray cola over a far-wall, and can see in intense close-up tiny fragments of paint coming off as I clean…These aren’t just dreams, these are illness dreams….

Actually, my illness turns out to be benign. My throat has the sensation of tasting as I would imagine tree-bark covered in brown sugar would taste, and I sniffle and snort a bit, but whatever knocked me down yesterday has essentially lifted. There was a short while of feeling the same chill down my chest as is often seen in chewing gum adverts, although this was temporary also.

However, whatever it was (okay, so maybe a BIT of manflu, I concede), has lifted without the use of medicine, so I can now say without fear of contradiction that minor colds can be cured by drinking water, Ribena, Yazoo Milkshakes, and cups of tea, whilst the only food you need is Builder’s Breakfast crisps. NHSDirect will no doubt send you down the Tamiflu route but that’s all a vested interest con. Trust me, I’m proof; milkshake and crisps, it’s the future…


Turning my head to one side causes both nostrills to fill with gunk. This is not a good look. Turning to the other side swells washes of dull, aching pain across my head: thinking about anything seems as hard as writing a word into wet sand. Meanwhile my throat seems unable to take swallowing any more frequently than every five minutes or so, while my ears appear to have blocked out sound from a certain frequency to such a degree than walking from my house to London Road sounded as though I was walking in new shoes along a courtroom corridor.

To summarise, then, I am ill. I feel like a character in a computer game who has, against the measures of “health”, almost no coloured-in blocks indicating things being alright. I should stumble to somewhere selling foods enabling a swift restoration of well-being but so far that has only been to the corner shop (one bottle of Yazoo and a ‘paper) and Gregg’s (one ‘steak bake’, the intense heat from which could be tracked down my body but the taste of which was muggy and foggy, more than usual). Like most amateur players of games like World Of Warcraft I appear to use my funds on wholly inappropriate foodstuffs taking my gran’s “feed a fever starve a cold” to mean purchasing anything but, say, medicine. Because, when all things are considered, the typical bloke element kicks in, and this means utilising the medicinal goodness of Yazoo milkshakes, and soups from the work canteen.

Swine-flu this probably ain’t – I am walking about pretty much as ever, just unable to breathe through the nose without sounding like a swamp-based creature. Again, it’s the typical bloke elements – for as long as my legs can carry me from place A to B, then it cannot be serious. Although sneezing once in WHSmith caused everyone else to fall deadly silent for a few seconds – with man-sized pride comes power…

But, yeah, in general terms, I am sofa-bound and grumpy, sniffly and sneezing. Any cake-bakers or tea-brewers are invited to pop round whenever they like….


Gordon Brown is mad. This much we have established. On the subject of helicopters provided to our troops in Afghanistan he is both mad and deluded. Bob Ainsworth – our man at the Defense Ministry reportedly nicknamed “Bob Ain’t Worth It” by senior miltary types – is clearly just as unable to grasp the issue seriously. There are not enough helicopters in Afghanistan, that much is clear. All this “60% increase” nonsense is playing with numbers – the amount of troops and the increase in helicopters do not match.

Calls for more equipment seem to fly over the head of Brown. At the Liason Committee earlier this week – minutes of which do not seem to be easily at hand – he refused even to answer the simple question about whether a request for more troops was made. Any straight answer is seen as a potential trap for Gordon Brown, that much is frank and obvious. He cannot give a straight answer in case the truth trips him up, it’s almost paranoia. Maybe it is.

This time last year the Times reported on one of the Ministry of Defences many cock-ups – £500m wasted on Chinooks stuck in a warehouse in Cambridgeshire warehouse. Are these dust-covered helicopters counted among the increase in equipment supply I wonder?

Gordon Brown was quite rightly put on the ropes by David Cameron on the subject of public spending – everyone but Brown it seems is smart enough to realise that taxes will have to increase to deal with the £700bn (and counting) public debt wrapped around our neck by our one-time Chancellor. Now Cameron, and Nick Clegg, are triumphing over Gordon again.

Brown has never done a decent thing in his entire political career. Just one thing will save his reputation – calling a general election. Everyone – from our soldiers in Aghanistan to low-paid workers suffering under the abolition of the 10p tax rate – deserves better than Labour.

always something

On the train to Burscough, to catch the friendly against Accy Stanley (it’s a 1-1 draw, they scoring with some assistance from our back-four having a collective brain freeze. We pull it level half way through the second half, with the kind of curved freekick-with-rebound-and-triple-Salko movement which suggests all is pretty much as was since I last took the visit to Victoria Park.)

(Oh, no, wait, there’s two un-covered stands suddenly constructed, that’s new.)

A bloke at the Baron’s bar takes a look at Sky Sports News’ coverage of Rhyl playing Belgrade in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League. “How come they’re playing Belgrade and we’re stuck with Accrington Stanley?”. Good question, well phrased, to which one answer would be “Because they’re Welsh” but that sounds insulting and disingenuous so….

Onwards to crazy dreams. The new flat has caused some elements within my deeper moments of sleep to be ever more creative than usual. Miniature trains, song-and-dance numbers, narrative structures far stronger than usual, colour when they’re usual monochrome or an unusual gold-and-black…I assume when all is settled in the real world the same will happen to that which flows through the brain at sleep, but as there always seems to be something going on this could take some time. There’s not always important things, but enough to be going on with. Worries but not of anything important, niggles perhaps. Getting by, making do, terribly and awfully English things.

I should do more with the overheard conversations I pick up when travelling to work on Class 142s juddering along the East Lancashire Line. One bloke having a whinge about swine flu (he was considering with his mate how much of an actual government-created conspiracy it all was). A few days ago I overheard a bloke propping up the bar discussing a recent claim made to him about racist views. “F’cours I’m racist, course I am,” he explained to whoever was listening, “And this bloke says to me, he says, ‘You’re ignorant, you are’, and I says to him, I says, “You’re blind and braindead’.” I’ve been beaten to “Overheard in New York” but there’s always a more local version…

Saying that, I’ve got reviews, LibDemmery, a new reviewing project, interviews, “settling in”, three weeks of work on a limited budget…..Always something. I’d complain if I were bored, I bet….

to pause

Inevitably the dreams on Saturday night were menacing and obscure, the first sleep in a new flat clearly designed (perhaps even pre-determined) to tap pointed fingers through the thin bubble of my consciousness. Basement flats attract very little natural light, but at least the fear of having a downstairs window broken while being upstairs, resting at the back of the mind as it has for years, can be calmed. I am not the only person to have this, am I? The sense of an imminent break-in while being elsewhere, always close enough to force CDs to be stopped or televisions to be muted at the slightest creak or scream? No…?

I cannot fathom how it is so late on a Monday night, actually. It seems the moving-in has occurred with the similar trip-switch rapidity which characterises most of this year so far. It’s like a photo album with a soundtrack remixed by South Central or watching a video tape on fast-forward, images jarring and jump-edited amongst the washes of white-noise. Drinking much in Blackpool folds into eating a seafood lasagne on Mother’s Day which merges into the counting of the votes which somehow takes me to yesterday on a sofa watching Poirot.

To pause, only for a day or so, would be good. Although inevitably there is no pausing at the moment. There are elections to be organised, so eager am I to show the people of Broadgate and Riversway that there is an alternative to the complacent and over-confident Labour councillors. I need to get back into writing and reviewing. There’s a camping trip in Scotland. There’s….house….stuff. The previous owners have donated a wine-rack, which is the surest sign and purest definition of temptation if ever I saw one.

Somebody somewhere asks, “Are you happy, though?”, and I have to respond “Yes”, because the rapid sense of movement is perhaps a case of “careful what you wish for” in reverse. Imagine time going slowly, so slowly, that the days seem to be filled only with the clicking of clocks or the dripping of taps, or the tapping of keyboar…No, er, yeah…Doing nothing all night, that would be unthinkable…