The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Week of 13 February 2012


Demand a basic standard of living, and you're a scrounger. Demand a luxury yacht, and you're a royal.

15 February 2012

Way beyond time for a linksplodge. Indeed, way beyond time for some all-round bloggage here.

So let's begin with a piece of lovely. Danni Orsi, the winner from Candy Bar Girls last year, is making some good out of her new-found fame. Feelgood Pictures aims to ensure people are more comfortable in their own skin, taking real photos of real people.

And while we're in the area, Christina Novelli's singing career continues apace, she provides the vocals to Gareth Emery's tune Concrete angel. The single's had spot plays on Radio 1, and finds itself on MTV Dance's C-list (which, apparently, is A Good Thing) and it's out now. And it's a bit good. Meanwhile, Strange Things appear to be afoot in the Shabby camp; the referent is now ShabbyInJapan, and (being of a certain vintage) we're wondering if David Sylvian is involved. More details are promised for this time next week.

Remaining in the broad ballpark of things feminist, Lisa McInerney writes about rape culture in Ireland. Which, fairly obviously, has the propensity to be a bit triggery. Ask a group of Irish women whether any of them have ever thought twice about walking alone after dark, or tried to convince a female friend not to do so. Ask if they’ve ever been verbally abused in a bar for not engaging with a crude come-on.

Elsewhere, we're surprised and aghast to find that Chris Brown is still making records, that people are still buying them, and that Chris Brown's record of beating up women isn't somewhat more widely reported. That's one of his criminal records. All the CDs he's released in the past three years, they're also criminal records.

Which brings us to an Al Jazeera blog on when the police get delusions of their own adequacy, or, the Oakland Cops: why?

Why oh why oh why oh why? How to spoof the Daily Hell tickled us. We were also entertained by an interview with Sophie Aldred, you know, her off of Corners. And by Newstalk's interview with snookerist Ken Doherty (MP3 link, there).

Concluding a tale we've been monitoring since late last year, the MNA radio stations have been bought up. The only slight shock is the buyer, UTV. The Severn (Oswestry / Shrewsbury / Telford) and The Wyre (Kidderminster) will merge in with UTV's existing station The Wolf (Wolverhampton) to form Signal 107. We'll have to see how this alters the station sounds - The Wolf skews towards adult pop by day, but somewhat younger overnight, as it takes UTV's pop music programme.

Still with news from locally, chuggers are to face restrictions in Wolverhampton, with claims they are putting off shoppers. The charity workers, who stop people and ask them to sign up to give cash, will only be allowed into the city centre for three days a week.

Child rape and skipping bail are "transgressions", according to The Observer's film critic. Readers who tried to point out how this rather underplayed Roman Polanski's crimes were silenced by The Observer's crack team of censors. We wonder if we should continue supporting this venerable institution, or just let film go hang.

No such trouble for literature, where Nicholas Lezard pays tribute to Charlie "Fingers" Dickens. Did I ever have the attention span for Dickens when I was a child? I didn't. This blog didn't read any Dickens until we reached university, and that was the episodic nonsense of The Pickwick Papers.

And finally, some sad literary news, as John Christopher has died. He's best remembered as creator of The Tripods, a thinly-veiled allegory against The System, though it's never quite clear if The System is capitalist or communist or something else. Our favourite book of his was Empty World, in which about 99% of humanity is killed off by the end of chapter four, and the protagonist tries to survive on his own, and after finding others, decided whether to rebuild a society. That, we suggest, is what John Christopher was all about.

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TV and radio notes

We've been playing catchup. Confessions From the Underground (Channel 4, 2 February) should really have been re-titled Allegations Against the Underground, consisting mostly of claims that the Tube was mismanaged, with brief rebuttals from TFL. The he-said, she-said approach doesn't get to the truth. Also caught up with R.E.M. at the B.B.C. (BBC4, 13 January), which reached their breakthrough hit Oh life inside ten minutes, and the turn of the century before half-time. It shows how little they needed the Beeb in their big years, and how much the Beeb relied on them from 2001-4.

Part four of The World Against Apartheid (Clarity Films / BBC4) took us from the early 1970s, where the last two episodes have been bogged down, to the late 1980s. The focus was the disinvestment campaigns, which took about fifteen years to get anywhere, but then an awful lot of companies stampeded for the exits, claiming that South Africa as a country was on the rocks and going downhill and completely doomed. We remember the civil disturbances hogging the headlines from about 1983, but we'd completely forgotten the run on the rand in late 1985, or the negotiations between the SA business community and the ANC just over the border in Mozambique.

Part four of Death of an Empire (Athena Media / RTÉ Radio 1) was the story of the Yeltsin presidency. For the first time, we think they've dropped the ball here: the producers accepted as a given that Russia was going to go cold turkey on its economy, in a way that the rest of Eastern Europe didn't. Nor did they give a particularly good account of the tension during 1992-3, culminating in the October shelling of the parliament. And nor was there any adequate discussion of the 1996 presidential election, which Yeltsin seemed to win in a collective moment of madness. But the show was good, 25 minutes wasn't enough to do the topic justice.

Some notes on what happened after Whitney Houston's death, which we found out about as the lead story on the 9am bulletin. Television channels 4 Music and Magic had very quickly re-written their schedules; 4 Music to play non-stop Whitney until 2pm, and again for two hours mid-evening. Magic was all Whitney all day. VH-1 didn't make its schedule change in time to get on the EPG upload at 6am, but replaced an afternoon of power ballads with an afternoon of Houston. On the wireless, Crapital broke format to play a couple of tunes per hour, Kiss remained remorselessly on target with its tributes. Worst tribute was from Heat Radio, which said it was giving over the 4pm hour to an examination - this turned out to be the obvious big hits, plus people related to the late singer, and some "inspired by" her. As nebulous as it was unsatisfactory.

On this week's Blue Peter

Monday Helen's Antarctic Expedition part 4/9 To New Zealand, with Sarah McNairn Lambury, kite skiier / Cross-country skiing / Trouble going downhill / Day 2 - falling over, smaller kite / Food shopping, size of one meal / Overnight trek out, snow hole

Thursday Naomi - moving sharks into London aquarium / Brett Domino - performance about book awards / Keiron, BMX flatboard champ / Book awards - nominees / Tom Deacon - Emeli Sandé profile and interview / Brief shout-outs Very flat show - the book stuff went on too long, and the BMX stunts managed not to work

On this week's Top of the Pops

Back next week.

Next week's highlights

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This week's news

The UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a negotiated settlement in Syria. It's substantially similar to one blocked by Russia and Red China in the Security Council a couple of weeks back; unless those two countries change their position, the UNGA's resolution will remain of symbolic value only.

Christian Wulff resigned as German president. Herr Wulff has been in a scandal about money and power brokers that we don't profess to understand.

At least 382 people were killed in a fire in a Honduras jail. Many of the dead were locked in their cells, because no-one could find the keys to get them out.

The military regime in Egypt has declined to name the date of the next presidential elections; it's suggested that the army and interim government can't agree on the mechanism to hand over power.

Iran announced that it wouldn't sell oil to the UK and France. This is a symbolic gesture, as neither country actually buys much oil from Iran.

Rangers FC entered administration, anticipating an adverse decision in a tax case that's expected to cost about two years' gross income.

We regret to report the death of John Christopher, chief Tripod.

Westminster (16DEC): C 305, Lab 252, LD 57, DUP 8, SNP 6, SF 5, SDLP 3, PC 3, Ind Lab 2, APNI 1, Ind UU 1, G 1, Spkrs 4. C + LD majority 80 (effectively 85).

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In our private journal this week

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Warmer air arrived on Sunday, and temperatures recovered towards seasonal norms. The mobilising force was low pressure, which resulted in a broadly north-westerly airflow, so temperatures never rose too much, and fell sharply when a cold front passed through on Saturday lunchtime, giving three hours of strong rain. A snow shower crept through the Cheshire Gap in the early hours of Sunday, giving a dusting at this location. We're not going to get lying snow on all four Sundays in February: pressure is building again, this time from the Azores, and that will introduce unseasonably warm weather by next weekend. So don't wrap up.

13 Mo cloud               3/ 7
14 Tu cloud               1/ 8
15 We sunny intervals     6/10
16 Th sunny intervals     5/10
17 Fr cloud               4/11
18 Sa rain pm             7/ 9, 4.5
19 Su snow o/n, sun       0/ 6, 0.5

Rainfall in February: 10mm; monthly average: 54mm

Degree heating days: 505
2010-11: 880/1056
2009-10: 755/1098
2008-09: 736/927
2007-08: 552/810
2006-07: 346/499
2005-06: 475/684
2004-05: 392/556
2003-04: 515/754

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