According to viewer polls (and Dunc) it appears that Rupert Murdoch's Fox News channel ("We Report, You Decide") is the American people's broadcaster of choice for information about Little Bush's liberation of the Iraqi people.

Always interested in learning what take other media have on the big stories of the day, I decided to check out Foxnews.com to see why its TV parent has caught the US's imagination.

I must say Rupert's got himself a lovely website which enables people to get real added value from their news.

You can register as a Fox Fan for greater news benefits like wallpaper of your favourite presenters and crucial advice on how to get hold of foreign goods without breaking the boycott of French produce; you can buy media memorabilia in the Fox News shop ("You too can dress like a complete anchor"); or get free jelly beans and other stuff from the site's advertising section - all important for those mid-bulletin munchies; then catch up with the latest on the war in the "Operation Iraqi Freedom" special section. And then there's "Fallen Heroes", America's list of war dead. The names of these last two sections are very important: not only do they make them easy for you to find, they also leave you with no doubt as to who the good guys are. Not like the cheese-eating surrender monkeys at the BBC who refuse to refer to British forces as "our troops".

Not quite so easy to find is any opportunity for users to give their views or enter topical debates on, say, the morality of war. But that's okay because news should be about being told what to think, not as a resource for informing decisions.

So based on all that, Fox News is definitely a source of balanced, impartial reporting then...

Well, that's what I assume. I never managed to get past all the fun and games to find the real news.

N.B. The great John Simpson today used the phrase "shooting fish in a barrel" in a report about Northern Iraq. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...


Few things are quite as glorious as dozing off outdoors on a deliciously sunny day. Hell, I may have got up at 4am body time this morning, but it was worth it for the sense of wellbeing that I had after my 10-minute mid-morning nap at work. Mind you, that's a first - I don't think I've ever fallen asleep at TVC before, even when nursing a grotesque hangover. But not even the five cups of coffee I had before 10.30 could keep me awake today. And aren't I glad?

British summertime is truly here, even if only for a few days. Everyone seems cheery - especially the giggly lad with the lovely Embra accent from MORI who spent the last 20 minutes grilling me about my leisure activities in London, another first.

And besides everything else, it's perfect weather for John Mayer. "Wonderland" has never sounded so good - and that's saying something.

Maybe Dubya just needs a bit of spring sunshine and good old British cheer to help him work through his issues. He and Saddam could straighten out their differences over a couple of non-alcoholic beverages by the Grand Union. Clear up this war nonsense once and for all.

Isn't life grand?
Grr. Bleargh. Bloody clocks. Wish it was winter.


Liverpool fans will not be amused by this. Everyone else should have a good laugh. (Sorry Jen!)


The stupidest quote of the war so far or just the most honest?

From the man leading the fight on the front line, Lt Gen William Wallace:

"The enemy we're fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against because of these paramilitary forces. We knew they were here, but we did not know how they would fight."

Or in other words:

"We were told the towel-heads would run like the curry-eating, yellow-bellied, sons of bitches they are. And when we practised the guys playing the baddies weren't allowed guns, and had to talk really loud all the time to make it easy for the goodies to find 'em. And if they ever found a gun, anyone they shot was protected by special magic which meant they couldn't be killed so there.

"But God damn them, these guys are using tactics, the evil bastards. Bet they bought them from the French. How are we supposed to fight 'em if they don't respect the rules? Don't they know we're killing them for their own good? Don't they know we're supposed to win?"

The most generous quote of the war, from the man in a news facility several hundred miles away in Qatar, Brig Gen Vincent Brooks commenting on his subordinate's statement:

"Our enemy always has a vote in how the circumstances go."

That's big-hearted of him. Who said America wasn't trying to build a democracy in Iraq?

These news briefings are great, if only to see how the different arms of the coalition are treating the war. While Vince regales the media with endless VT of exploding stuff (very Hollywood), the British command seems to be going for the granny vote: Air Marshall Brian Burridge's first major presser on their progress in Iraq (and here I kid you not) was dominated by a Powerpoint presentation of UK troops being cutesy-chummy with smudge-faced little children in Basra. Let no one say they don't care.

Her Majesty's Forces: Compassion in Combat


So having put the nation's health to rights, let me share something about life earlier in the week.

Sunday night found me in the bizarre and wholly unfamiliar position of learning that people had been talking about my personal life behind my back. i.e. Independently of me. Viz gossiping. About my love life. Fools!

I'd invited a colleague along for a drink with Robin, as we'd been on shift together, it was a beautiful day, we were heading in the same direction, and it seemed rude not to. Needless, this drink turned into a six hour session and, naturally, tongues were loosened. Too loose for comfort, but not loose enough for my liking, as it turned out.

Apparently a hot topic among a few of my colleagues in recent months had been whether The Woman had a thing for me, whether I had one back, and indeed, whether our things had met somewhere in the middle.

Of course, this left me feeling like a traffic cop with a fender bender: move along please folks, nothing to see here.

Just the thought that anyone might actually want to speculate about my love life, much less make it a topic for office tittle-tattle, well it's a new one. So of course I had to know: who else was in on this salacious rumour?

It was then that the bastard clammed up. Bloody journalists and their sense of duty to protect their sources. Obviously thinking he'd overstepped the mark, no amount of coaxing, bargaining, or plain shock and awe from me and Robin was going to make him spill the beans. I have my ideas, of course, not that I'd seek to say anything to them if I knew anyway. I was just intrigued that me and women would come up in the same conversation, at least in a romantic sense - or just plain shagging - and wanted to explore the motivation of whichever twisted mind was responsible.

Other people are the subject of gossip. Not me. I've barely done anything to deserve it.

And then at Tuesday's club meeting, Thomsk tells me I shouldn't rely so much on a particular set of people for my social kicks. I don't. Well, not much. No more than he does. But he's just got my interest at heart. Or maybe just my heart's interest. And he's right. Cos despite the fact I'm not comfortable around strangers (they have other more interesting and fanciable people to talk to) I'm doing myself no favours at the moment.

For despite the fact that everyone tells me relationships are more trouble than they're worth, they're shit and not to bother, be happy to be single, I know they're lying. Sure, a relationship's seldom exclusively rosebedesque, but given the opportunity, they wouldn't swap places with me even to save their own mothers. People love to love, with or without the dancing babies.

My job is my life's defining relationship, not so much through professional pride (although that plays its part) but because if it wasn't there my life would feel empty.

It doesn't help that I'm seemingly addicted to Diana Krall at the moment, but the question has to be asked: just what is it about this bike that makes fish so much more interested in other models?


Continuing with our medical theme, there's another piece of good news to impart. As some already know, Jos (a close friend - son of Jane, brother of Robin, and confessed lurker) was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year at the age of 26. It was quickly seen to, the necessary operation was conducted to remove the offending article, and after a very worrying few months everything seemed to be back on track. Happily this was confirmed yesterday when the results of his latest scan showed everything to be as it should.

The reasons for sharing this news (which I hope Jos doesn't mind) are two-fold. Firstly, it's because the news is a great relief, and anyone who knew about Jos' condition will hopefully be happy to hear, have they not already done so.

But just as importantly, it's to raise awareness of the fact that testicular cancer can strike men of all ages - problems with one's wrinklies isn't just confined to society's wrinklies. On the contrary, it's most common among men aged 19 to 35.

According to Cancer Research UK , "more than half of all testicular cancers occur in men under 35 years old while only 15% of testicular cancers are diagnosed in men over 50 years." And some 1,900 British men are diagnosed with some form of it each year. Fortunately, early discovery means a 95% survival rate.

So fellas, check your goolies for anything unusual on a regular basis. Don't know how? Try here for advice.

And ladies, don't be shy to give your man a helping hand. Apparently it's best done in the shower. Just don't get too carried away. Well, not until the inspection's complete... :)


This afternoon brought a small swell of pride and sense of achievement: I received my bronze badge for making a tenth donation to the National Blood Service. It's something I've been looking forward to for some time and actually four months overdue, as today was my 11th time, and they forgot to give me my badge when I last went back in November.

Although I first gave about 10 years ago, I've only been serious about it since moving down to London. This first landmark makes me feel I'm doing something worthwhile. And I know for a fact that I am. When Josh got ill with an ulcer earlier this year, he needed a transfusion of four units of blood. Being brothers, we happen to be the same group (B+). Without the help of regular donors, there may not have been the blood he needed to recover. It's unlikely that he received any of mine, but if people don't keep giving then stocks are going to dry up pretty quickly. For instance, the UK's national stock of B+ (which excludes any held in individual hospital blood banks) is only enough to keep the country going for 12.5 days. And O- (the most useful since it can be given to anyone) only clocks in at just short of a week. Scary, huh? Especially so in this time of war.

So I'd urge everyone who hasn't done it to go do it - even in the US, where they actually pay you for the stuff, whether you need the money or not, do it for the benefit of others. Overcome any fear of needles you may have - it's virtually painless, and you don't have to look (although I can guarantee that just out of curiosity, you will).

Give blood, and you'll end up feeling as chuffed with yourself as I do today.


Listening to Saddam's speech this morning (available in RealMedia here) it occurred to me that Little Bush could have a very simple solution to getting rid of his family's avowed enemy: Slim Whitman's "Indian Love Call".

At the risk of being tarred with the "Don't foreigners speak funny?" brush, it really must be said that Iraq's president sounds just like the Martians from Tim Burton's woefully underrated Mars Attacks. Now they had weapons of mass destruction and no mistake. Saddam's head exploding while he zaps Dubya with a disintegration ray would make great telly. Ack ack ack!


Several stories during this war have led some of us in the newsroom to wonder which side is being more honest about their military operations. Is it the peace-loving and devout coalition of the willing led by the US and Britain, or the duplicitous regime of Saddam's evil empire?

Just consider the following examples:

* On Friday, both the Ministry of Defence and the Pentagon proudly claimed to have swept into the town of Umm Qasr and completely secured the strategically important port. Iraq denied this. And Sunday morning saw US marines still involved in a tense stand-off with Iraqi troops in... erm... sorry, no, Umm Qasr.
* According to Iraq's Information Minister, 77 people died in Basra on Saturday night, and another 300 were injured. The MoD scratched its head and wondered aloud how this could have happened. "Couldn't have been us," they said, "after all, Basra's not a military target." Several hours later, the familiarly sheepish tones employed by British civil servants down the years: "Oh, those bombing raids on Basra. Well, I s'pose..."
* And of course the kicker: despite the months of heartfelt pleading with the UN, there's no evidence yet of Iraq possessing any weapons of mass destruction. Of course, I hope this observation doesn't come back to bite me on the arse.

Of course, propaganda is an essential part of war, but surely the US and UK want their claims to be seen as credible. Draw your own conclusions but given the smoke and mirrors that's going on, I know who I'm more inclined to believe...


Given the appalling "shock and awe" tactics employed by the US-led forces this evening in the miltary campaign, I thought I'd bring this comment from Dunc into a more prominent position:

Driving home from work today I was listening to the CNN Radio reporting and I heard:

"there have been what they're calling 'explosions'"
"these missile attacks have been amazing"
"from here the missiles are amazing"
"the attacks are growingly intense"
"it's like shooting ducks in a barrel"

...all from CNN/US Media people...

From a guy from ITN with a double-barrelled name (so you can be sure he's British) we got:

"...the intensity of the noise of explosions is frightening, we're having to duck under windows to aviod the possibility of being hit by shrapnel and shard of glass"

Okay, not commenting on the CNN people, you guys can do that, but as far as I'm concerned the ITV guy is the only one of them actually reporting...I know the BBC are too, but getting BBC reports on US independent radio is really difficult.

You usually have to listen to National Public Radio for our people, but it must be very difficult to avoid using sensational language when you're that close to the action, and not all your examples of what the US media have said are that extraordinary. Apart from my experience with the Manchester bomb, I've never had to operate in a hostile environment.

Using language like "amazing" and "intense" is understandable as long as you're only using it for colour, and not in place of detail. Hopefully our reporters are being a little more circumspect.

"Shooting ducks in a barrel" is pretty rotten and biased, though, even though I find the mixing of metaphors highly amusing. After all, isn't it usually fish that get shot in barrels?

Mind you, you don't need to worry about CNN eyewitness reports until the end of the war - Saddam's regime kicked them out tonight. Their alleged crime? Being a mouthpiece for anti-Iraq propaganda. This, presumably, unlike the latest "true" reports from Iraqi state radio that the "forces of aggression" have been retreating today.

Funnily enough, CNN.com isn't majoring on the expulsion story. The only mention I could find was about 25 pars into their top story. I've a feeling that if the same were to happen to the BBC, they wouldn't be afraid to bring it to people's attention.

(All opinions are my own and not those of the BBC)
Oh yes. Feel much happier now I'm back at work. Despite my opposition to war on Iraq I felt incredibly left out yesterday knowing that such a big story was going on without me. It was a real exercise in self-discipline to stop myself calling in once the big push started last night. This morning, several colleagues were clearly pleased that I'd thinking just the way they'd expected.

News junkie? Guilty as charged, yer honour.


The strange men on the roof outside my kitchen window are making odd noises and deeply unpleasant smells. This is hopefully due to the fact that they're repairing said roof. For months the bathroom and lavatory ceilings have leaked in the event of heavy rain. Perhaps it's fortunate that they're doing it now with the world teetering on the edge of war. (I wonder whether the new leading will protect us against bio-chemical terrorist attacks?). However, their presence means I'm housebound until they're done. And one's giving the other a right telling off. Wish they'd finish and get knotted.

The not-war got in the way of last night's intended story, namely my first experience of live contemporary dance. Jane (our kid's missus as opposed to Robin's mum) is a student and practitioner of the art form, and it was the first time I was seeing her perform.

There were five separate pieces, the opening one being a comical number in which another of our friends performed. This was followed my a more solemn piece, which I took to be something like a reflection on opposites of people's natures. Third was a strange number, possibly about constraints of structure. Then came what can only be described as a menage-a-trois lesbian tea party - possibly the oddest of the lot. Finally there was Jane's dance in which she wasn't a mermaid, much to the surprise of two young men who caught her (or at least that's what she says). With my little-used art critic's hat on I'd say it was a witty piece, and Jane gave a great performance full of character.

I was expecting to tolerate the evening (having called contemporary dance pretentious wank on more than one occasion) but am pleased to say I actually enjoyed it - for its artistic merit and not just the opportunity to see 11 lithe, toned young women push their bodies to the limit. Although that never hurts.

But, um, basically... you what? I still don't understand the bloody thing or why they do half the stuff they do, when nobody in the audience can really claim to know what the artist has intended. Sure, people nod sagely and talk about the meaning, but they're just clutching at straws.

Still, I s'pose if it's not hurting anyone and it keeps them off the streets. Although it could be a plot to confuse us all so throughly that they enable an alien invasion to take place. I think we should watch them all very closely. Just try not to think about what they're doing.

You may laugh at my paranoia but when contemporary dancers try to take over the world, just don't say I didn't warn you...
So how do you like that for timing? Just 25 minutes after I hit the sack, Dubya pressed the button. Maybe, like Dunc suggests, George was just waiting for me to call it a day.

Whatever, from what I've gathered this morning, what happened last night wasn't really the start of the war proper. It was more like pre-war, military foreplay. Sounds like the CIA knew where Saddam was and tried to take him out in one quick strike. And in the very best tradition of the Agency, they missed.

I'm actually quite sad they failed to kill Saddam last night. Not that I ever wish death on any single person, but if he'd died, this could all have been over so much quicker, possibly saving tens of thousands of lives. And the knowledge of that is more frustrating than anything.

But by looking at our site, and other news outlets, one can tell the war hasn't really started yet. After all, there's room for other news items most everywhere you look, the military aren't briefing, and I've not been called into work despite being on the list of war volunteers. And of course the one statement to have come out of the British army is that "while hostilities have taken place, this isn't the start of the war" - one of the strangest quotes of the morning that only scratches the surface of the story.

Keep your powder dry. There's much worse to come.
Well, Dubya's deadline passed an hour ago and they've managed not to bomb Baghdad yet, so that means they obviously don't want me to go to war tonight. So to paraphrase President Bush, I shall go to bed at the time of my choosing. And seeing as I've been up for 21 hours, I choose now.

Besides, if I stayed up any longer, I'd only be forced to make more observations about ITV News's almost hysterical coverage of the deadline's passing (BBC One was showing 'The Sting' - bless 'em!) and how Heather McCarthy's really let her hair grow out since she left us for the other side.

Let's see what morning brings...


It's a very strange day here at work, one of the quietest weekdays I've experienced for some time. That old cliche about the calm before the storm really is true. We're all poised waiting for the outbreak of war, and with the Corporation's newsgathering operation centred on the Gulf, there are very few other stories doing the rounds. And despite my own opposition to the war, I can't deny the excitement that accompanies the anticipation of the covering the year's biggest story.

In order to keep ourselves occupied, we've resorted to the journalist's favourite pastime of making tasteless jokes about serious situations. There's a sweepstake on when the first PA flash will appear about an attack on Iraq; we're racking our brains trying to come up with a suitably military-sounding operation name for covering the war; and what with so many journos being in the Middle East, I suggested filling primetime with a new reality TV show in which correspondents are set gung-ho challenges and viewers vote their least favourite out of the war zone.

It's not pretty, and I'm not proud, but it's the way the profession copes with being a conduit for so much depressing news.


Big up Robin Cook. Maybe I've been wrong to think everyone in New Labour's government handed over their principles for disposal when they took office. He's gone up a long way in my estimation. (Mum and dad's old friend Bob Marshall-Andrews could be seen sitting just behind Cook as he gave his resignation speech).

It's been a strange day in W9 - there was a crazy bloke shouting abuse at all and sundry on the corner of Elgin and Harrow this afternoon for a good hour or so, and plenty more sirens tonight than we usually get. Throw these kinds of thing in with the health of the world's general psyche and weird stuff like New York's apocalyptic fish and even die-hard non-believers like me begin to wonder whether reality is beginning to unravel.


It's astonishing how simple things can have such a positive effect on one's mood. Earlier this afternoon I was not feeling in the best of spirits, yet again managing to do absolutely nothing constructive with a day off work. This is something at which I've become quite adept in recent months, willing to let the world slip by. At times, I'm reluctant even to leave the flat without coercion.

That kind of attitude in a city like this is not healthy, as it carries with it a self-fulfilling prophesy of solitude - the more you withdraw from social interaction in London, the easier it is to get lost and lonely. Needless to say, this isn't conducive to a healthy state of mind by any kind of yardstick. But the gloom that was descending on me today was entirely symptomatic of that mindset.

My mood wasn't helped by the fact that ever since I got back from the States my bedroom's been in something of one itself. I've never really conformed to the tidiness ideal, but things have really slipped of late. The piles of papers and bags on my desk and the bedroom floor weren't helping cheer me up at all.

In seeking an activity that wouldn't require seeing or speaking to anyone else (for their benefit as much as mine), it struck me - more out of desperation than determination - that a little long overdue dusting would help take my mind off things.

But that initial reluctant trickle of domesticity just served to open the floodgates, and three hours later - with the much-needed help of Ben Folds - I have both a much tidier room and a much tidier mind. Granted, it's still probably far short of some people's marks, and I won't claim it's anything other than a work in progress, but given the fact that the hoover wasn't keen on putting the effort in, and that I still need far more bookshelves, I'm much happier both with my environment and in general. Not even Dubya's 24-hour diplomatic deadline could get bring me down.

Of course, I can't deny that after a good two years I'm beginning to feel stuck in something of a rut, and that I have to solve that somehow unless I want London to end up feeling like Manchester - although this seems to be much more of a personal rut than professional which makes it all the more hard to get out of. (There's much more blogging to come out of that, I can assure you.)

But the main point is that for today I'm feeling much happier. Now I just have to hope that they don't declare war before I'm due back in on Wednesday morning. Don't know about you, but I'm not holding my breath...


Someone at Guardian Unlimited clearly isn't very happy. It's just not cricket, but definitely the funniest piece of sports reporting I've ever read. Even if you've not the slightest interest in the game, you should read it. And then read this one (for which, thanks to Sam) - same disgruntled guy, different day.


Have just been on one of my regular weekday afternoon cinema trips, and saw Adaptation. Less challenging than Being John Malkovich, and also slightly less enjoyable, despite fantastic performances from Nic Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper, but I swore that I wouldn't use my blog as an AICN Lite.

The point of mentioning the movie is that I really, really identified far too much with the dramatised version of Charlie Kaufman to be healthy, especially as it comes hot on the heels of seeing lots of myself in John Cage. Hmm... not good.


They may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's heartening to see the Beastie Boys haven't let all that partying in the 80s go to their head and are completely on the side of peace. Download their choon and play at high volume til everyone gets the point.
Been playing around with the colour and nav and things (as you can probably see). Don't know why. Just fancied a change - after all, this baby's been on the road a whole month now. And I was bored as the day hadn't gone according to plan, and fiddling about here seemed far easier than doing something sensible like reading. The other blogs are random ones I've enjoyed reading, however strange a selection they might appear. If you come across any interesting ones, drop me a line please.

By the way, Thomsk got star-spotted today. He was walking down the road when he noticed this bloke looking at him strangely. "Um, do I know you," he asked. "No, but weren't you on Heartbeat the other night?" came the reply (which of course he was).

Needless to say what with this being his first real experience of being spotted, he's very chuffed. Just hope he can get some more work off the back of the show.

And they ask why America's got a reputation for isolating itself. I'm sure you'll have seen the freedom fries story elsewhere, but I must say it really does make Congress look petty and bigoted. Not what we want to see from the leaders of the world's most powerful nation.


Just had my first drink in a week. And the second, third, fourth, etc.

It was meant to be a quiet night. And considering the difference between what was on offer and what actually happened, it was. I just swung by Thomsk's with a bottle of wine, hung out with him and Joe for a while, and then got a very rare couple of hours uninterrupted quality time with Jane, our kid's longtime lady. (For those few not in the know, this is a quite different Jane from the one who comments here - who is herself a truly remarkable human being, far beyond compare). This was quite special because Jane and I very rarely get chance to talk without Thomsk being there, despite the fact they've been together 2.5 years. So it's good to know we can actually do it.

But like I mentioned, a much larger Tuesday night was on offer. Yup, there's that word. Tuesday. As in Club. As in out 'til three in the morning and very fragile the day after. I don't mind admitting that tonight I wussed out (albeit within the Tuesday Club's charter). But barely 36 hours after finishing night shifts, I'm really not equipped with the level of patience to cope with the silly children knocking about in a club, let alone a four-deep border between me and the bar.

Quite apart from this, though, I'm not yet sure how comfortable I am with the concept of Tuesday Club. Yes, it's all good fun, and just the few of us lads together, but it has elements that unnerve me. And these aren't confined to the fact that the club's just a little Masonic in nature, with its exclusivity, votes on membership and rules ad infinitum. Last week we voted to allow women in as associate members, but not full, thereby deprived of voting rights. I had to push for associate level to be acceepted, but still this never sat easily with me. For a start why would any self-respecting girl want to be in on this lads' drinking night folly? But more importantly, wasn't the fact that they couldn't be equals against everything I was brought up to believe in? Granted, it's just a bit of fun, but I'm sure that's what the MCC was originally, and look at the mess over membership they ended up in. In reality it doesn't matter a damn - it's just the principle.

But even deeper than this is the way I feel about clubs themselves. I've never been the kind of person who's been in a gang. I've always been an outsider or, at best, a member of a group of outsiders, or sometimes the funny guy that one of the established posses tacks on from time to time. So over time, having been so used to relative isolation by the cool kids, I've become so wary of cliques that I've developed an affinity with Groucho Marx's timeless phrase: Time Flies like an arrow. Fruit Flies like a banana. Sorry, I mean: I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member. I start to feel uncomfortable if I'm exclusively with the same group of people for too long, or find myself falling into too much of a routine. To be brutal, I'm not meant to be one of the chosen few.

It's like when I was at university. I had several very close friends, four of whom were a pretty tight-knit unit with a couple of foreign girlfriends from a similarly close group. We knocked about together most of the time very happily. Then came a point where the ladies left the country for a couple of weeks. At first, we thought nothing of it. (Well, I didn't anyway. Can't speak for the chaps who were missing their girlfs). But by the first weekend, I was going stir crazy, what with spending all my free time with these same four men. The lack of diversity was more than I could take, and I had to find refuge in the company of other people. Looking back, I'm fairly sure in thinking that the group initially took this as something of a snub, but it wasn't. The fact was I had to pull back in order to preserve our friendship. While it's good to know your friends as well as you know yourself, too much predictability can take the fun out of a relationship. And by having a wider range of experience I felt I was able to bring more to the whole group, and be in a better position to offer the benefits of what I gained from these close friends to others.

What am I trying to say in sharing this? I don't know other than that I don't want Tuesday Club to reach that point. I don't want to resent the people I'm spending time with, because I love most of them dearly, and the others could well turn into good friends. Yes, I'll turn up and have fun, but on my terms.

So in the absence of anything more tangible, let's leave the last word to Groucho: Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.
Tron lives! Love this game!
Not much gets through the fog of spleen that clouds my view of the world whenever I'm getting back into the day thing, but today a couple of issues came to light that managed to force me out of my foetal ball of rage. Or, more to the point, they were sufficiently strong to harness what little remains of my cognitive abilities after a series of night shifts.

There aren't that many hardships that the British have to put up, especially on a global scale, but those we do are very deeply damaging to our society. Two such cultural monstrosities presented themselves to me today.

Firstly, Joe got back from his fortnightly trip to Wales to announce that he'd been dumped by the young woman he'd been hoping to make a go of things with. Thing is, she delivered the news of his consignment to the waste bin of relationship history by text message. Their thing was in very early days, and even though Joe was in quite deep smit he seems to be taking it quite well, but that's a really crappy way to go. Given the elbow by SMS, rejection in 160 characters or fewer - can you get any more crass? The girl just didn't deserve a gentle bloke like Joe.

And secondly, picking up from last night, I offer you the British doughnut. What's that? You don't want it? It's a pathetic, dry, tasteless excuse for a cake?

Sorry to labour the point, folks, but our doughnuts are bland and uninspiring compared to Krispy Kremes, and many other American vendors besides. And it's not just their fresh ones - I'd rather eat a three-day-old boxed doughnut from KK than any from a supermarket or bakery in Britain. I'm willing to be disavowed of this opinion, but I doubt anyone could do it. The fact that they see the need to cover them in sugar should really tell you everything you need to know about what's wrong with the rest of the product: bloody styrofoam with a meagre dollop of insipid jam (assuming, of course, you don't get one of the 33% that seem to miss out on their intended filling).

For years I've tried to enjoy them, but not any more. Oh, I'll eat them, but they'll mean nothing to me, meaningless encounters to be forgotten as soon as the last of my fingers is licked clean of the unsavoury deposits left there.

The UK is crying out for Krispy Kreme, and yet where's there first store outside North America going to be? Fucking Australia. The Divine Kylie aside, what's so bloody good about Down Under that they get the world's best doughnuts before us? The very least the UK deserves for standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States is to be rewarded with being able to fill our parallel bellies with the same high standard of baked goods. Unless you can deliver that, George, you'll make an enemy of the British people with this damned war. I expect we'll be made to wait our turn, though. After all, Baghdad's just crying out for a KK franchise.

I should really go to bed now if I'm going to stand any chance of getting back into the day thing before the end of the week. Sweet dreams, friends.

(Author's note: It might not surprise some readers to be informed that the soundtrack to this post was Tenacious D)


Final Thoughts about the Night Shift
The Good...
* They give my liver a few well-needed days off
* You can get away with wearing socks for more than one day at a time
* Sometimes sleep during the day can be so much better than most nights

The Bad...
* The kids at the school out back on weekdays - noisy little bastards
* Losing touch with the social world
* The effect they have on one's body

The Ugly...
* My temper while trying to readjust to a daytime routine


Thoughts from the Night Shift
A colleague from today's evening team was handing round doughnuts when I arrived. All very nice and lovely, but what wouldn't I do right now for a couple of hot Krispy Krullers and a mug of good black coffee...
Thoughts from the Night Shift
Happy happy, joy joy! Only one more daysleep until I'm allowed to be irritable and cantankerous during the hours of daylight again.
Thoughts from the Night Shift
Kiefer Sutherland definitely looks better with a beard.


Thoughts from the Night Shift
Mmm... Davina. :)
Watching ABC's World News Tonight (living up to its name for once - a rare enough event in my experience) I noticed one of the journos in Baghdad claiming that people there had thought that world opinion had been behind them, but were now expecting war. I don't know that it's true that people have ever been with Iraq, just that they're against peace-lovin' Georgie Boy's belligerence.

No one can seriously argue that Saddam's a saint, nor that his removal from power would be bad for the Iraqi people. And some anti-war protestors may actually believe that he has weapons of mass destruction. But there's a right way and a wrong way to do things, and killing innocent people with those same weapons of mass destruction is The Wrong Way.

Couple of shouts to people on this issue. Thanks to Brian Jude (must buy you that beer sometime!) for drawing my attention to this very disturbing story - whatever happened to the first amendment, guys? And also thanks to one of his friends for letting me in on an excruciatingly accurate spoof White House website.


Thoughts from the Night Shift
Mmm... Clare Grogan. :)
Aargh! Those muppets in Scheduling have gone and done it this time. BBC2 have pulled out of News 24's coverage of the Blix report to the UN half way through the responses from the Security Council Foreign Ministers, before they even got round to Jack Straw giving Iraq a deadline to disarm (March 17th, as it turns out).

And why did they cut away from this globally significant piece of political posturing? So they could show today's episode of The Weakest Link.

Sure, they were quite happy to give over two and a half hours of their network's time to last week's official enthronement of the new Archbishop of Canterbury (don't get me started), but the possibility of serious conflict in the Middle East is nothing compared to the wrath of the Blue Rinse Brigade that they'll face if the grannies miss their daily dose of that harridan Anne Robinson, poster girl for mediocrity. Sometimes I wonder who poses the greater threat to humanity...
George Bush has effectively just declared war on Iraq via a globally broadcast news conference.

"These are the last stages of diplomacy," he said. "[Saddam] possesses weapons of terror, he provides funding and training and safe haven to terrorists, terrorists who would willingly use weapons of mass destruction against America and other peace loving countries."

"I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons," Bush said.

A de facto declaration of war in the name of peace from a man who knows the world is not with him. Political grandstanding on the eve of the UN report that will force the hand of a simple man who believes in the power of brute force over everything else - dark days indeed.


Good news on getting into work tonight. Last summer one of my colleagues, Ivan Noble - a fairly young man - was diagnosed as having a malignant brain tumour, as many readers of the work site will be aware. It's been a very harrowing six months for Ivan and his family, as he recounted in his online tumour diary, but he's just had word that the tumour has reacted well to the treatment, and he won't need scanning again for six months. It's very good news for all of us here, whom he e-mailed en masse.. I don't know Ivan terribly well - in fact he probably doesn't realise he knows me - but he helped train me when I joined the operation down here in the smoke. I probably should have said more to Ivan than I have over the past two years - especially since the diagnosis - but it looks like I'll have the chance to rectify that now.


This site is new to me, and you may already know it, but it made me laugh so I'm sharing it with you.
Ow. Hurting.

Another Tuesday Club meeting with Thomsk, Robin, Nathan and Joe, plus some irritating hanger-on called Jacob, an Israeli soap writer (Middle Eastenders, perhaps?) who seemed happy to take drinks but not quite so eager to dish them out, however cheap the vodka might have been. Pool followed by bus ride into town (voting on resolutions as we went) to godawful but cheap club Propaganda. That's unfair - not godawful, just loud and packed with pissed 19-year-old foreigners, and older natives hunting them.

Lots of people dancing though. Mostly our kid and young women - separately I should add. Joe going mad to the tunes. And one young thing who didn't move from her space on the floor for two hours - wild, crazy, captivating, at one with the beat, going so hard she must have hurt. The hypnotic effect she had reminded me of watching Vicky dancing whenever we went clubbing at University.

Me, I'm not a dancer, far too many inhibitions, at least until I get off my head. And then it's only the top half. Feet seem strangely reluctant to move, fastened to the floor, which national club guidelines seem to insist is swabbed with a sucrose solution each night before opening. Meanwhile, the top half's pumping away, almost trying to match the bpm. But this girl...

Finally kicked out at three, with Joe and Nathan having acquired a couple of Danish girls. Of course, they come back to mine - the ever dependable, essential fifth wheel (don't get me wrong, I wanted none of it - picking up Euroteens in a club really isn't my bag). Nathan thinks he's onto a winner with Sarah, the more interesting of the two, until her unhinged friend, Christina, drops the bombshell that they all have to sleep in the same room, due to our Geordie friend not being trustworthy. The sitting room consequently becomes West London's largest bed.

This morning... no, sorry, afternoon ... after having finally disposed of the girls, Joe reports they went home untampered with, much to Joe's relief, and Nathan's disappointment.

Never mind, marra, there's always next week.


So having missed the chance to see Adaptation yesterday, due to Weebl and Bob, I wound up watching Steven Soderbergh's remake of "Solaris". Heaven knows how Tarkovsky's original measures up, but if it's anything like this beautiful, beguiling, baffling and brilliant film then I want to see it asap. I recommend it with extreme prejudice to anyone with either the faintest liking for scifi or an interest in George Clooney's bottom.

But it got me thinking about whether it would make it into my SF Top Ten - which is a scary big question in itself. Where to start?

First you've got your old classics such as The Day The Earth Stood Still, Metropolis, Forbidden Planet and (sorry Stanley) 2001.

Then there's the modern landmarks, such as Those Films by George Lucas (but mostly Empire and A New Hope), The Matrix, the first two parts of the Alien series, Blade Runner, Close Encounters, Twelve Monkeys, Terminator and T2, or even ET.

Of course you can't forget films like the wonderful Brazil, or any that hit that scifi/horror border, such as The Thing (either version), Body Snatchers (again, you choose), Predator or Alien 3.

And I might even consider The Wrath of Khan (but that's my one concession to Trekkies). However all calls for Independence Day to be included will be politely ignored.

There are loads I've forgotten, though, and I can't even begin to decide on a "Best Of" list without a refresher. I value your input. In short... help!
Shit a brick! This second series of 24 is even better than the last. It's only midday and already Jack's meaner, leaner and altogether a badder ass than last time out. The boy's got issues and no mistake...


What hope for humanity?
I've spent a very strange morning going through the archives of b3ta. Although much of it is already known to web addicts, I thought people might need reminding of the kind of thing we're using the web for.

Take The Everyday Adventures of Weebl as an example of the new art forms being created online. If you go back far enough in the archives, you get to see real character development between those and the later ones. The episodes Art, Bag and Bob's Week in France Part 7 are particular favourites. I got quite engrossed. And this Tribute to Ray Harryhausen is just bizarre.

Then you've got games like Feed the Nine-Mouthed Baby (scary and tough), Dress your Gay Dog, Yahoo's addictive Alchemy game, and the National Missile Defence test.

And then there are the companies that make use of the seemingly infinite amount of bandwidth to puff their stuff: Semen Test, anyone?

Don't get me wrong, it's all good, but... isn't anyone else a little worried that all this creative effort and technology is going to waste? And what's going on when we're not watching? Answers on a comment, please...

(p.s. I've now missed the movie I was planning on seeing. The web wins again.)


World of Sport
Bad sport: England snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in their cricket World Cup match against Australia. It's all down to bottle and we lost ours.
Good sport: Liverpool trouncing the Scum 2-0 in the Worthington Cup. Well done, la's!
Top sport: Newcastle's first win over Chelsea in almost five years. Howay the lads!


It's commonly accepted that as a blog is one's personal journal on the web, anything goes. It's your right to mouth off about any issue that gets your heckles up. If readers don't like it - tough, that's their problem. They can write a diatribe from their perspective on their own blog, or issue a rebuttal through the commenting system. Everyone's happy.

Except they're not. We all know how good the net is at turning a simple misunderstanding into an unholy shitstorm.

I've been struggling for the last couple of days with the question of whether I should have a particular rant here. It's on a topic that I regularly become exercised about, and would likely cause consternation among some of the people who read the blog. And having practically written the post in my head I've had chance to moderate my language and insert sufficient clauses to make my opinions clear and unambiguous, so that those who disagreed with me would hopefully see the points of my argument rather than react to the raw passion.

But I've decided it's really not worth it.

This may sound strange coming from someone who's both a libertarian and a journalist, but some things are more valuable than freedom of speech.

It's all well and good using the blog for rants about things like the war, the Oscars and Valentine's Day, but some subjects are just too sensitive to raise, cutting to the very core of people. Despite the fact I've discussed the issue in question with friends of all opinions, I know that if I wrote exactly what I wanted, I may well hurt and offend several people I love or care about. And that isn't worth trading for the luxury of opinionated incontinence.

Remembering my first principles of blogging, I feel the need to add:

Sometimes, however frustrating it might be, you've just got to keep your mouth shut.

The sooner I can apply that to real life as well as the blog, the better. :)