Sometimes journalists get so obsessed with news that isn't that they completely forget that which is.

Yesterday was one of those occasions.

We all knew that Alastair Campbell was going to resign this summer. He'd as good as told us a month ago. Yet none of us expected it to happen yesterday. And despite the fact that one of the most important players in rebuilding Iraq had been assassinated along with ninety-odd others, and that an inquiry into Princess Di's death had finally been announced (a natural lead for many papers and programmes on all but the most sensational of news days) the fourth estate only had eyes for Ali once the story broke.

(A News 24 political reporter, Vicky Young, was doing a live interview - what's known in the trade as a two-way - from the News Online newsroom when our central newsgathering people announced Campbell's resignation over the tannoy. The cheer that went up from some of my colleagues sitting just feet behind her would have been enough to rattle all but the most accomplished of broadcasters, but the seemingly unflappable Vicky didn't miss a beat as she calmly finished her sentence and went on to break the news to viewers).

All the journos agreed it wasn't really the day's biggest story. All the editors said it was. No prizes for guessing who won. And so the BBC's giant home newshunting machine zeroed in on Downing Street.

Yes, he's been a central figure in British politics for the past nine years. Yes, his departure will likely have a major effect on Blair's presidency. But we already knew he was leaving. And we knew he wasn't going yet.

The confusion about what the story actually was could be seen in coverage across all media outlets - not just the BBC. A headline or caption like "Campbell resigns" would be immediately followed by a first line reading "Tony Blair's chief spin doctor Alastair Campbell has announced he is to resign."

So had he or hadn't he?

Well, yes, he was going... but not quite yet.

It was an enjoyable enough story to cover, and the media came together to make it feel like something important was happening, but I'm still not convinced that it was quite as weighty as we made it out to be.

After all, what did we know at the end of the day that we hadn't known at the start? Very little really, but that shouldn't be surprising from a government notorious for announcing new initiatives and funding increases several times over. Why shouldn't they do the same with resignations?

It was a perfect final flourish from Campbell showing that, despite the row over sexed up Iraqi dossiers (which was with more than just the BBC) and the Hutton Inquiry (the publication of documents from which his resignation completely - conveniently - smothered) and allegations that the government had spun itself out of control, he still had the British media in the palm of his hand. We were all singing his tune.

No doubt we'll all sing along once more when he finally leave Number 10 for the last time in a few weeks' time.

And you know what? No one will think to ask why.


Dipping into the local corner shop (like many of the best, not actually on a corner) for milk and juice on my way home from work, I found myself in the curious situation of being interrogated about tequila (Nightshift Ben's forte more than mine, as you know).

In short: lovely colleague Serene recently visited Mexico, and very admirably honoured a promise to bring me back a bottle of Tijuana Tummyrotter (I say admirable because it was one of those optional bargains made while under the influence, the kind that even in the unlikely circumstance they're remembered the next day, are never expected to come through).

But today Serene delivered the goods.

So having wisely removed the alcohol from the vicinity of any other journalists, I strolls up to the shop till with my intended purchases, bottle of hard liquor also in my hand. Whereupon the shopkeeper starts giving me the third degree on the etiquette of tequila drinking. How much? What with? Is it good?

Naturally, despite this young chap's ethnic origin (South Asian, almost certainly Pakistani, so very likely Muslim, thus quite possibly teetotal) and a little difficulty with language, I feel it's my duty as a drinker to instruct him in the ways of the shot (salt, tequila, lime... you know the drill) and the tequila slammer. Don't know how much of it got through, given the show and tell was lacking in show, but he seemed interested enough.

Just by way of extra detail, this is also quite possibly the same guy who when confronted with a request from Laura for melons, directed her towards the - now departed - collection of lesbian pornography videos on the top shelf.

(That last sentence could well bring me some unwanted attention, but hey ho, a hit's a hit.)

Now the tequila's made it home, and nestles quite happily with all the other booze that's come to live at my house: the bourbons, the malts, the gin, the metaxa, the brandy, the occasional visiting bottle of vodka. And that's before the impending trip to Duty Free and the Tower offy in Atlanta.

Hmm. Maybe I should have a party.


Sometimes the overly sincere out-satirise even the most accomplished of satirists. It's very sad, but I know thankyoutony.com is 100% serious, aimed at people who want to thank our PM for supporting the US in the invasion of Iraq.

Would anybody like to thank Tony for anything else?



What a downer. What an absolute shower.

But then if we can't even beat a two-bit Serbian club over two hours at the former Fortress St James, then we don't deserve to be even thinking about the Champions League.

It's not been a good start to the season. Although I still have great faith in dear Sir Bobby, I think he was too complacent over the summer. One former wunderkind journeyman cockney thug was never going to be enough. I get the feeling not everyone's happy at NUFC either. Something has to change.

Still, at least now we can concentrate on our league challenge. Maybe.

I need chocolate...


Number of US soldiers killed during the war in Iraq:138
Number of US soldiers killed since the war in Iraq "ended": 139 and counting

Good job we found all those weapons of mass destruction, otherwise some people might start to argue that they'd died in vain. Never mind the economic cost.

Maybe two birds (fish? ducks?) can be killed with one stone by sending the 3million Americans to have lost jobs in the last three years out to colonise and rebuild Iraq. Then their taxes can be used to help stave off that half-trillion dollar budget deficit the US is staring at.

And all this with an election just around the corner.


There's a heaving, honking, booming, whistling, snaking monster in the neighbourhood.

Yes, it's Carnival time again, and this year they've moved it closer to my front door than ever before.

I'm feeling very apprehensive about Carnival because last year's seemed so seedy.

Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was where we hung out, maybe it was the limited intake of booze, or maybe it was the couple on top of a pillar dry-humping their way through the kama sutra while a crowd cheered them on.

Whatever, 2002 felt as far removed as possible from the joyous occasion that was my first experience of Carnival 12 months previously - and that good feeling was despite the fact my wallet was stolen.

Anyway, I get the feeling that what with the continual in-fighting among the organising committee, increasing pressure from the authorities, financial trouble, and its seemingly increasing popularity, that the whole event is very close to imploding. I hope not, but then I also think something has to change about the event. From talking to people who've been to far more than me, it does seem to have lost its way.

As for this year's, I know I'm not going to be allowed to escape it altogether, but I'm most certainly approaching it with caution.


Dear George,

Sorry I've not written in a while, but work's been hectic since you liberated the people of Iraq. Now I've finally got a chance to catch my breath at home, I just thought I'd write to congratulate you on the fantastic job your boys are doing in the Middle East.

First and foremost, it's good to know that with the major hostilities having been over in Iraq for a good 100 days or so, that you're persisting with the mission. Obviously minor setbacks are to be expected, such as today's attack on the UN's headquarters in Baghdad, in which their Special Envoy was among the 15 or more people killed, but you shouldn't see that as a failure. No, just like the 60 American soldiers, half dozen or so British troops, handful of journalists and countless Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives since the war ended, today's mishap only serves to justify the action you took in taking on these savages.

Yes, I know there are those out there who'll be saying they were right when they told you you'd only make things worse by invading a sovereign Islamic state, but they're ignoring the facts. You only have to look at the incidents in Casablanca, Jakarta, and Afghanistan over the last three months to see that this problem of Islamist terrorism is on the increase and to do nothing about it would be wrong. The fact that all this has happened since you went head to head with Saddam is surely just a coincidence.

I wonder whether you've noticed what's going on over here. Government's having a little trouble from the lefty media who seem to be suggesting Britain's case for war may not have been watertight. They're making out the government may not have been quite as on message as yours. But fortunately quotes from Blair's inner circle about the dossier on Iraq's WMDs like "the document does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam" and "we will need to make it clear in launching the document that we do not claim that we have evidence that he is an imminent threat" didn't put Tony off saying that weapons of mass destruction could be deployed in 45 minutes.

Of course, it's mighty strange that no one knows where that figure came from, but you really shouldn't be worried about how they found the right argument when it was needed, just that they agreed they'd come up with something "convincing for those who are prepared to be convinced."

Just before I go, can I just say how sorry I am that you're losing Colin Powell after the next election. I realise how much he's meant to your administration, especially over the past few months. People always seemed slightly more ready to listen to what his honest face had to convey, especially with his reputation for being the more caring kind of soldier with an almost tangible sense of justice. Kind of ironic, isn't it, that the man who makes harsh realities easier to stomach for the rest of the world just doesn't seem to have the stomach for the job any more.

I know Condie and the Wolf Man are both bright sparks capable of doing the job in this tough world, but they don't have Col's human touch for when you need to schmooze before you shoot. A word to the wise, old friend: you may just need that down the line.

Anyway, must dash. Got to be up at five to get back to the old grindstone - after all, who knows what those damn resistance fighters will get up to next?

Love to Laura and the girls,



I don't believe this for a second. Channel 4's latest addition to the world of reality TV would be appear to be called Lapdance Island.

"E4 is looking for 10 hot blooded male contestants to battle it out as 40 professional lap dancers do everything in their power to make it hard for them."

I smell the demented genius of Chris Morris.


The torture has begun.

St Alan of the Gallowgate managed to save us from humiliation at the hands of Dirty Leeds, but it was a close run thing. Sir Bobby had to use his Face of Fury (TM) far earlier in the season than he'd probably hoped, but it had the desired effect. Could also have done with Dirty Thug Lee Bowyer continuing the time-honoured tradition of scoring against his old club, but at least he didn't prove to be a liability.

Good match, though. Plenty of opportunity for yelling "Get in!", "No!" and various obscenities across a half-abandoned newsroom.

Now we just want Chelsea's expensively assembled squad to make Roman Abramovich look like a frivolous fool, and the Red Menace to roll over at St James' next weekend, and it'll be a satisfactory start to the season.


Wilkommen. Bienvenue. Welcome. C'mon in.

The premature death several years ago of Madeline Kahn still makes me sad. She was a supremely funny actress, probably best known for her work with Mel Brooks back when he still had it, but with far more to her repertoire than often given credit for.

Last night I got in from a rather liquid-oriented engagement with a few colleagues and, as is the wont of the drunken fool on a Friday evening, flicked on the TV to see what could distract me in my addled state. Luckily, the perfect decoy was on in the shape of Blazing Saddles, with Madeline as the teutonic temptress, Lili von Shtupp, strutting her stuff for the cowboys of Rock Ridge. Almost twenty years ago, this was my introduction to a strangely alluring woman capable of displaying confidence and vulnerability at the same time. I never quite shook that crush.

Too often, I think, the wrong people are forgotten by the world at large. So I just wanted to say that I miss Madeline and remember her with great fondness. And if you don't know her work, well, you should change that.


What I should write:
Apparently, due to cost effectiveness calculations made by management at some point in the past, our air conditioning system at work doesn't like working in temperatures above 27C. Funnily enough, neither do most of my colleagues. But apparently, unlike the bargain basement AC, we don't get the choice. At least the heat's something like tolerable now.

What I want to write:
What's the point of having a blog if you can't be open? Today I found myself regretting some of the things that I've written in the past: maybe an occasional revelation that took on new relevance once the readership escaped my control, the odd turn of phrase crafted for an audience other than that which eventually read it. Should I now be censoring myself?


This is catharsis. But is it appropriate?

My mother is concerned that I may gain a reputation among my colleagues for being too flaky if I continue to lay bare my soul on this page. But I don't have a problem holding things together at work, though. There is equilibrium. Calm. Things make sense.

I wish the rest of the world was the same.

Why have I let so many of my old friends slip away, almost having willed some of them to? They all have children. Am I trying to punish someone? If so, who?

And how is it that I can be genuinely enthusing about the merits of Pirates of the Caribbean while simultaneously attempting to persuade myself that walking in front of a bus would not be a good idea? Unhealthy. Stupid. Unlikely to happen. I don't have to argue too hard, but the idea is a little intriguing. And it's not like I even feel deeply unhappy. I think I'm mostly fine. Cheerful without trying. Really okay.

But ultimately, what really makes that bus a bad idea? Things like this and this and this and this and this and this, not forgetting this, or this and this, or, dammit, even this.

And especially this.

But damn, I need to find myself.

It just won't be in an air conditioning vent. Or, for that matter, under the number 36.


It's official... sort of: machines are more valuable than humans. At least that appears to be the opinion of my employers.

The air conditioning system for a large block of Telly Centre (including the area that houses News Online) went belly up over the weekend. At time of writing, it still hasn't been fixed. Of course, the banks of servers and digital editing suites have been kept cool. But because there's apparently no health and safety legislation regarding maximum temperatures for the working environment, we disposable journos have been forced to work in an office where the temperature measures 29C/85F. Small portable fans have helped... but not enough to alleviate the discomfort.

I'd been eagerly anticipating getting back into a lovely air-conditioned office after the torture of yesterday's three-figure heat. Now I'm looking forward to a day off just so I can cool down.


Quite how I've allowed the Great British Beer Festival to escape me for so long, I don't know. Having had my plans to visit Yorkshire this weekend scuppered (all the more painful as in this record-breaking heatwave - 100F? is someone taking the piss? - the rain they've had up there would have been most welcome) the discovery that the GBBF was on proved to be nothing short of a godsend.

Robin and I spent a very enjoyable Saturday afternoon in the sweatbox that is London Olympia sampling ales from across the country. And while all the prize-winning brews appeared to have been drunk by the time we got there, we were able to discover several beers worthy of tongue-time. Special mention has to go to Boggart Hole's Angel Hill. Any beer that shares a name with The World's Best Dog has to be good - and this Boggart didn't disappoint. Wentworth Gryphon, Storm Windgather and St George's Paragon Steam were also all notably drinkable. In all honesty, we didn't find a bad drink all afternoon.

I just wish these beers, and others like them, were more widely available. Adnams, Fuller's, Young's and the like are all well and good, and the Porterhouse brews some very special ales, but the variety of beers on offer in the parts of London I'm familiar with is shockingly limited. We need these special beers all over the place. I need these beers in my life. There's only so much London Pride a boy can drink.

Maybe that's why I took the ultimate beer geek oath of allegiance and signed up to Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale. They're doing good work battling the evils of Foster's and Tetley's and preserving the village pubs and independent breweries of Britain. I'll be proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow members, even the beardy ones with knitwear and a penchant for dodgy folk music (and that's just the women). Next year, I plan on making a much bigger deal of the Beer Festival and getting myself outside some Championship Ale.

But while this heat lasts, I'm not doing anything til I've had a nice, cold lager...


Match of the Day is coming back to Saturday nights! This is very exciting news for me, both as a football fan, and as an employee of the BBC.

Although obviously this isn't the official line from my employer, as a viewer I think the Premier League has done the right thing in returning the rights to the Corporation. When Auntie lost the rights to Premiership highlights three years ago, I don't think I was alone in feeling it was a snub to the organisation. I felt personally wounded that the League chairmen wanted to abandon the great tradition of MOTD.

Then to add insult to injury, ITV's replacement show was frankly, in my own opinion, not terribly good. High on innovation, yes, but low on football. The time given by ITV to even the most important matches seemed much less than MOTD, and very often the analysis was asinine. And while it's improved a little since its early days, it's no longer Date TV. When even I lose interest in Saturday night football, something's very wrong: it has to go.

Although the Premier League said that the decision to award the highlights rights to the BBC was based on the fact that we offered more money than ITV, I can't help but feel that quality played an informal part in their decision.

And with the words "No talent changes are planned", BBC Director of Sport Peter Salmon seems to have put Des Lynam's career as the face of Saturday night football to bed. Five years ago I'd have worried if you told me there was to be no more Des, but over that time Gary Lineker has grown so much as a TV presenter, that it'd be wrong to replace him with the old-timer.

So everyone's very happy here at TVC, I think. An institution is returning to Britain's screens. Football will be whole again.

Two years ago Gary's final words as the BBC gave way to its commercial rival were, "We'll see you... after the break." I always knew he was right.


Ugh. Hottest day ever in London. Ever. 35.7C/96F. Yuck.

Too. Hot. To blog.

Wonder if it'll be quite this bad when I'm in Atlanta in 51 days' time (not that I'm counting or anything).


Dreadful news from the other side of the Atlantic which totally distracted me from the far more journalistic entry I've been composing.

But current affairs will have to wait, because... Krispy Kreme is Koming.

According to Jen and Dunc, and confirmed by a quick search, the best doughnuts in the world are finally being given to London.

And the bad news doesn't stop there, because the site for the KK store is Harrods, seat of power for the unpleasant and questionable Mohammed Al Fayed.

So not only are the siren-like American carb merchants taunting me with delicious doughnuts on my doorstep, they're also allying themselves with the Evil Empire of Al Fayed, thus making it seemingly impossible for me to honour my vow never to set foot inside his store.

This would all be a very bad development for both the waistline and spiritual wellbeing of a weaker man than myself.

Well, I won't stand for it. Just you watch. I'll show them "Hot Now". Just as soon as I've had a freshly-made Kruller with a cup of steaming black coffee.


Keeping a blog quite as openly as I do was always going to leave me with the prospect of having to confront embarrassing situations with people mentioned herein.

Now, at last after six months, I've been rumbled. An occasional cast member has learned of the blog and the role they've played. Fortunately they've taken it with good grace. A rare notion of discretion prevents me from going into greater detail.

And I'm not the only one. The author of one of my favourite blogs has already decided to take a break, seemingly in order to reassess what she can sensibly share with the world. And this, just weeks after another of my regular reads came close to quitting altogether after members of her family started sharing their thoughts on her blog. I'm glad the latter chose to continue, and hope the former will overcome her privacy problems and rejoin the blogging community soon.

Nevertheless it's a worrying trend and one, after this revelation, that I should maybe take notice of and could lead me to be more reserved.

But Robin and Jane call the blog their portal into my brain, and I've really neither the intention nor the inclination to row back on discussing the issues that are important to me, not professionally and most certainly not personally. So don't expect a great change.

Still... oops!


Have just returned from a work night out (thank you all - Serene and Lynne safely returned home, and a special mention for the hennaed honey with a knack for making a mean whiskey sour), which although being full of delightful free booze, also contained something of a shock.

In essence, one doesn't really expect one's boss to bring up the topic of one's blog in conversation. Was he serious when he said we should maybe have a chat about what I write here? Hmm, makes a boy think...

Apparently far more colleagues than I'd bargained on are aware of this site's existence. Of course there are the few I'd tipped off in the beginning, plus the one or two that had slipped under the wire before I found them. But it seems I underestimated, and that the blog is something of a fad at work. Despite it's low-key nature, within a den of journalists, it probably shouldn't be that surprising. After all, this place is public domain, and I can't really expect people to keep something like this a secret forever, whether they ever intended to tell people. or just let others discover it by accident. But I won't let this new information change my take on things, or the language I use.

So, in the spirit of loving that I try to maintain: hi folks! Hope you're having fun and that nothing's too close to home. Welcome to my world.