The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Week of 20 February 2012

Koan

SallyBercow: *note to self* Change my voicemail PIN code before the Sun on Sunday launches.....

22 February 2012
General catchup

Tootling our own trumpet, we've updated our list of living former MPs. For reasons of space, we've only researched members who entered the Commons prior to the 1964 general election. This was prompted by the death of Robert Carr, the last survivor of the 1950 intake, and leaves Tony Benn as number 2 on the list, behind only John Freeman.

Still tootling our own trumpet, we hear that the BBC's shooting a film about Joyce Hatto. It probably explains why there's been additional traffic to our article about Joyce Hatto from 2007, telling the strange tale of the faked piano concerti.

Catlanta. One street artist in Atlanta has set out to create an interactive art project. He paints small, one-of-a-kind Cats and leaves them hidden all over Atlanta. He tweets pictures with very little context and his Atlanta followers will run to find them and be part of his on-going story.

Still with art, and Comics Alliance reports on when over-sexualization kills the story. Thank goodness we don't have this trouble with D C Thompson comics, where there's nothing more happening than Athena and Walter, One Spewsome Pair.

When we spent the evening watching Lose a Million, only to find we'd been watching the wrong comedy show. The Observer remembers the football qualifiers of 17 November 1993.

And now, an update to the World's Slowest Conversation, ostensibly about through Eurostar trains between the continent and Cardiff. It's been running since 2008. A research paper published last year by the House of Commons Library (RP 11/75, fact fans) looked at the UK's experience of high-speed railways so far. Relevant to the topic at hand, we read how

British Rail set out its plans for international through services in “International Rail Services for the United Kingdom” which it published in December 1989. This set out plans for daytime Regional Eurostar services along the West Coast Main Line to Manchester and the East Coast Main Line to Edinburgh; it also proposed the operation of night time Nightstar services to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Swansea and Plymouth.

Of course, thanks to the ludicrous security theatre demanded by interior ministers Michael Howaerd and John Straw, these services could never be economical, and the trains earmarked for Nightstar made their own way to Canada.

On the vexed issue of High Speed to Wales, the paper says,

While the majority of opinions on HSR expressed by public authorities in Wales are broadly supportive in a strategic sense, significant concerns remain. These are not simply in relation to securing access to the proposed HS2 network, but more fundamentally in terms of the effect the proposed HS2 development may have in disadvantaging Wales in the absence of a similar network linking London to south Wales via the Great Western Corridor. Recent indications by the UK Government that a direct rail link between south Wales and Heathrow is under consideration have received broad support in Wales, and should the proposal progress it is likely to address concerns regarding connectivity to Heathrow following construction of HS2. Some comfort may also arise from the Deputy Prime Minister's inclusion of the electrification of the Great Western Main Line among the 40 infrastructure projects to be prioritised by the UK Government. It remains to be seen whether a full evaluation of the impact of HS2 on Wales will be conducted; what steps may be taken to address any identified disadvantage; and to ensure that Wales as a whole is effectively integrated into the planned network.

And finally, The bravest ducks of all. Read the comments.

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TV and radio notes

An iCarly double bill: in iCan't Take It, Freddie's mother finds out he's dating Sam; in iLove You, the two consider going their separate ways. To be absolutely honest, we don't much care for Sam-and-Freddie, it's the weakest part of the triangle, and it leaves too many scenes of Carly and Gibby.

Sinatra Sings (BBC4), we're not convinced by. There's a remarkable recording-studio rendition of It was a very good year, but there's an awful lot of treacle, thanks to the narration by daughter Tina.

The World Against Apartheid (Clarity Films / BBC4) reached its conclusion, with the unrest of the late 80s and the sudden capitulation of the National Party. This last bit felt a bit rushed.

On this week's Blue Peter

Monday Helen's Antarctic Expedition part 5/9 Iceland / Meet Niklas Norman, proposed co-explorer / Survival skills / Tent training / Glacier - windy / Crevasses training / Helen and Niklas need more discipline, stop losing things / 24 hours on glacier - slow going / Kite-sailing Let's get brutal: this series is really dragging, and is probably two episodes too long.

Thursday Princess Anne profile / Stefan Gates - freezing food / Moving the garden - lots of vintage footage / Anne opens garden, plants tree / Jubilee woodlands plug / Animal pics / Jazzing up trainers - image transfer, beads, paint - with Tinchy Stryder / Cher Lloyd PA Want u back Back on form after last week's poor episode.

On this week's Top of the Pops

Next week's highlights

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This week's news

Greece secured a further major bail-out, designed to avoid a disorderly default late in March. Under the plan, bondholders will take a 70% haircut, and the Greeks will have to suffer yet further cuts. It appears that this plan does not enjoy the democratic consent of the Greek people.

The appeal court in London made the remarkable claim that there was no point in considering an appeal on the Occupy camp at St Pauls Domed Tourist Attraction. The judges refused to consider the legitimate complaints about the compatibility of public protest law with basic human rights.

A train crashed into buffers at a station in Buenos Aires. About 45 people were killed.

Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd resigned his office, saying that he no longer had confidence in the prime ministerial skills of Julia Gillard. In response, Miss Gillard has called for a back-me-or-sack-me vote amongst Labour MPs on Monday next week. Mr. Rudd lost his own back-me-or-I-stay decision in June 2010.

Nikki Sinclare, elected as a UKIP MEP for the West Midlands, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud the European Parliament.

We regret to report the death of Robert Carr, Home Secretary in the Ted Heath government, and last survivor of the 1950 general election intake; of Marie Colvin, correspondent on war, killed on duty in Homs; of Frank Carson, comedian.

Eric Joyce (Falkirk) was relieved of the Labour whip, after being involved in a fight in a Commons bar.

Westminster (23FEB): C 305, Lab 251, LD 57, DUP 8, SNP 6, SF 5, SDLP 3, PC 3, Ind Lab 3, 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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Weather

A warm front crossed during Monday; a few flurries occurred on its leading edge, but temperatures picked up sharply as Atlantic air took hold. A broadly north-westerly airflow was replaced on Thursday by a south-westerly breeze, introducing air direct from the Azores and allowing temperatures to soar. It didn't last, not in February, but the weekend was sunny enough to feel like spring. More cloud is in the picture for next week, with rain confined to the north and west. Temperatures will be around normal for early March, so do wrap up.

20 Mo flurries, cloud     1/ 7, 0.5
21 Tu cloud               5/10
22 We showers             7/10, 3.5
23 Th sun                10/17
24 Fr cloud               9/14
25 Sa sun                 0/10
26 Su sun                 0/11

Rainfall in February: 14mm; monthly average: 54mm

Degree heating days: 524.5
2010-11: 902/1056
2009-10: 811/1098
2008-09: 754/927
2007-08: 575/810
2006-07: 359/499
2005-06: 519/684
2004-05: 438/556
2003-04: 578/754

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