The Snow In The Summer or So-So

07/03/2006 - 07/09/2006

Mon 03 Jul 2006

Two Songs a Week, number 9 - Monarchy

Life is sweet, if a little warm, when leafng through the weekend magazines with a glass of ice and bitter lemon, and the sound of the Ira Gershwin songbook playing.

How do we select the Two Songs A Week tunes? To-day's is the result of a trin of thought. What would be nice on a baking day like this? Cold, a very minor 1992 hit for Annie Lennox. She was, of course, one half of the Eurythmics, who managed to sell a lot of albums, and pull out some quality singles, without ever quite making the top division of popular music. Top ten hits coming out of their ears in the early part of the decade, but the well of creativity ran dry after just two albums, and by the time the group split in 1990, they were certainly playing only to their fan base. It's from that era, when the group was effectively two solo projects, that to-day's song comes.

Annie Lennox re-lanched herself with 1992's Diva album, best remembered these days for the Walking on broken glass fantasy, or the lead-off hit Why. Other singes - Cold, Precious, Little bird - all seem to have vanished into the memory hole. As songs go, they're excellent, but the album seems to be less than the sum of its parts. Her 1995 covers album, Medusa, included No more 'I love you's, a sure-fire number one hit that made position 2, and that was about it. She's made just one album since, and the pop popstrels who say Liveight last year must have wondered who is this Scottish woman lecturing them on how to live.

Anyway, it's back to one of the few highlights of 1989's We Two Are One album, and a song that was released as a single early the following year. It's rather appropriate for this time of year.

The king and queen of America, music and lyrics David A Stewart / Annie Lennox, performed by The Eurythmics.

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posted 03 Jul 2006, 18.38 +0100

Two Songs a Week
Michael Jackson does not face this problem

In another place, there is a discussion about the merits of the use of the terms "coloured", "black", and "African-%nationality%" It would appear that there is some offence generated by use of the term "coloured", sufficient to cause synonyms to be found.

What would Susie say?

To refer to African peoples and their descendants, black is the word most generally accepted in Britain today, in preference to coloured or Negro.

Het Grauniad's style guide notes only:

black (race) lc noun and adjective

There's no entry for "coloured". The BBC style guide and Producer's Guidelines don't mention this matter directly, nor does the OFCOM code.

(It should, of course, be noted that "Coloured" has a precise meaning in South Africa, describing people of mixed European-African ancestry who spoke Afrikaans or English.)

The Wikipedia article (currently) suggests

The term "coloured" in particular (along with "Negro") largely has fallen out of popular usage in the United States, in the last third of the 20th century and is now archaic and potentially derogatory... Some find this term offensive because it fixes whites as the benchmark for racial division, fostering an "us-versus-them" view of race relations.

Some struggle to identify with the term, arguing the word "colour" merely refers to level of skin melanin, which defines those who aren't noticeably non-white, or whose racial background includes both races of white and non-white.

Ultimately, if someone is going to take offence by use of a particular word, then it would be appropriate to seek alternatives. The current form propounded by such bodies as the TUC is "Black and Minority Ethnic". I really don't like it - it appears offensive to those who would neither describe themselves as "white" nor "black", intimates that "blacks" form a majority ethnic group, that both "blacks" and "minority ethnics" form homogeonous groups, and that "blacks" are more important than any other group. On a purely aesthetic level, too, the term is a pain.

Is there a better term than "non-whites"? It's defining people by what they're not, rather than what they are, but it doesn't make any other assumptions about people, nor does it promote any particular viewpoint. "Ethnic minorities" has been the standard reference in the UK, and that probably carries less baggage than "non-white".

Given the sizable proportion of immigrants from south-central Asia, the use of "African" as a synonym for "black" is not accepted. "African-British" and "Asian-British" (with the hyphen) are not widely accepted; the latter refers more to business ventures than people. Some suggest that the former term should replace "black" for people of African or Caribbean descent; this is also a rare use.

Finally, I would not care to trust the descriptions as used by HM Government, for these are constructions of a bureaucracy, and may not reflect standard speech in the real world. Furthermore, these constructions would reflect the fashion circa 1999, not the present day - to cite one example, the "black and minority ethnic" formulation appears to have arisen during the current decade.

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posted 03 Jul 2006, 19.11 +0100


Tue 04 Jul 2006

New balls, please

In the Indytab yesterday, this exchange took place:

Q: Why should women at Wimbledon get paid the same as men, when they do much less work?

Tessa Jowell: Does anyone really believe that women players at the peak of their prowess should be rewarded with less prize money than men? Women's tennis is highly competitive and entertaining. So a "prize gap" is unfair and unjustifiable. Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, Venus Williams and many others want Wimbledon to change its practice - each of them is easily the equal of their male counterparts.

More utter nonsense from the Minister of Fun and Not Listening To Your Husband When He's Discussing Your Mortgage, there. The facts are that it's very easy to predict the last four in the women's draw, and most of them will not be tested until the quarter-final stage. Just look at top seed Amelie Mauresmo, who reached the quarter-final, winning 48 games and losing just 14. Or number 3 seed Justine Henin-Hardenne, who is 48-13 going into her quarter. Compare that to the men's draw, where only three of the top eight seeds have made it, and only the indomitable Federer has not lost at least two sets.

Once we reach the last eight, then the women's draw does become as interesting as the men's, and that suggests equal pay for the later rounds would be quite reasonable. There's no way that a woman who is hopelessly outclassed in 35 minutes should get the same reward as a male player who loses 6-4 6-4 6-1. The question is not whether the best female player could give the best male player a game (to which the answer is most likely 6-2 6-2) but whether the top eight women could mix it with perhaps the top 32 men. I think they could.

There has been a lot of nonsense talked about my personal life and my finances in recent months, but none of it has any bearing on how I do my job.

Oh, pull the other one, Theresa, it's got bells on it. If you can't be trusted to read papers before signing them, you may as well submit your resignation now. You're either incompetent or a liar. Or most likely both.

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posted 04 Jul 2006, 18.20 +0100

The results of a normal Tuesday

Coming up: Europe, video games, scandal, grammar schools, and a suggestion for the next search-engine bomb. But first, the wrong sort of hot.

It may not be hot in terms of temperature, but it is a) far hotter than we would normally expect in the UK, and b) significantly more humid than other places. Besides, if it's hotter than we would expect, and hot enough to be uncomfortable, then it is - by definition - too hot.

Many climate experts raise at least one eyebrow at the Faversham site that reported peak temperatures in the 10 August 2003 event. It has a conifer windbreak just south of the site, and has been statistically proven to return abnormally high temperatures. (Stephen Burt's contribution, about two-thirds down the link.) 38.1°C was recorded at Kew Gardens and at Gravesend; the same analysis casts doubt on the latter record. Kew's figure (which translates to 100.6° Freiheit) is the most reliable record accepted without scholarly debate.

The weather forecast for this week is hot. To-day, thunder and 30. To-morrow, thunder and 28. Cooling down thereafter, but perhaps not as quickly as the BBC reckoned this morning. My money's on So-So.

A European writes: The river going to Gorki Park is the Moskva.

Best music magazines? Meeh, they're all rubbish these days. Even the classical magazines have lost it.

Esquire magazine says

there is no major [video games] critic who explains what playing a given game feels like, nor is anyone analysing what specific games mean in any context outside the game itself.

To which we say, Hogwash. Yet again, the damned Yankee meeja is only interested in other wankings of the damned Yankee meeja. The writer is so obsessed with his cronies that he can't look beyond the strip between New Boston and New Amsterdam. Really not good enough.

Better: Diamond Geezer on the real meaning of 4 July. Though anyone who hopes to get through International Jaeda Day without mentioning Jaeda is barking up the wrong tree.

Snouts in the trough as three politicians in Newfoundland stand accused of receiving more money than they were entitled to. The figures involved - around $250,000 (€175,000) - were bilked over two or three years earlier in the decade. The scandal has already forced Ed Byrne to resign his provincial cabinet job.

Matt T looks into the educational value of grammar schools. To cut a long story short, the current effect of grammars is to give middle-class kids a better education, at the expense of others. A word of caution: Matt's analysis assumes that the only metric by which to measure quality of output is performance in GCSE examinations. Other metrics may be available.

Iain Dale notes that Des Browne was unable to make a statement about the death of two British soldiers in Afghanistan yesterday, making the rather feeble excuse that he had constituency engagements to fulfil. We have a deserter for defence minister. And we have a suggestion for the next search engine bomb: deserter.

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posted 04 Jul 2006, 19.52 +0100


Wed 05 Jul 2006

Prescott Working Men's Club

I see that there's to be a celebration of a half-century of great stars of the small screen. What links them? By definition, everyone included in the TVS 50 Greatest Stars must have appeared on screen in the Television South region between 1982 and 1992. Which means ... no space on the list for Antan Dec!

Speaking of comedy northern double acts, John Prescott is desperate. He'll face an inquiry into his close relationship with Philip Anschutz, the man who wants to turn the Millennium Dome into a large casino. The license for the UK's largest casino will not be awarded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, but by the Department of Not Talking About Six Figure Sums With One's Husband and Making Asinine Pronouncements About Tennis. He's been pilloried for his affair with his diary secretary Tracey Temple, and with Sarah Bissett-Scott, but not (yet) for having Rosie Winterton in the back of his Jag.

Now, Prescott and his attack pies reckon that leading blogger Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale are being used by Conservative Central Office in a dirty tricks campaign. No, it's Prescott's complete uselessness that's doing for him. Abuse of power, famously violent, sexist git, arrogant, and utterly crap at what he claims to do.

In other news: Switzerland says Israel has clearly violated international law by imposing collective punishment on Palestinians over the capture of an Israeli soldier.

Jonathan Freedland goes on about the imminent death of the United Kingdom. Some of his subtext is correct - dissolving the UK would be a major step, deserving of careful consideration and reflection by everyone involved. But other assumptions - that the union is worth preserving at all costs, that an English parliament would be an end in itself - show that Mr Freedland is still not capable of coherent debate.

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posted 05 Jul 2006, 20.07 +0100

Civilisation in all its forms

World cup semi final, and Italy shaves past Germany 2:0 in extra time (0:0 in normal time). The game was heading to penalties, but two late strikes allowed the Azzuri to convert their slight dominance of the game into an advantage. The ITV commentators (and thank goodness I won't have to watch them again) suggested this was the best game ever; I say it wasn't even the better semi-final. And the other one's not yet started. Two goals was far more than they deserved, and gives us an excuse to cheer France all the way to the bank.

Playing catch-up: More on the wedding ring cryptography I mentioned last week.

And further to yesterday's observation, a candidate has been marked down for being too clever. Examination boards, it seems, give the highest marks for prescriptive answers containing key words, rather than an exploration of the topic avoiding these words and phrases. Markers reward children for thinking "mechanistically" rather than for thinking "outside of the box".

John Gushue has links to a number of podcasts in his recent column. The Canada Podcast Buffet seems to be quite the resource. Not entirely sure I agree about June Thomas on Stale's Explainer podcast - her voice is a strange amalgam of southern Ontario consonants and Bolton vowels.

The London that's not for tourists. And why afternoon tea is the new black.

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posted 05 Jul 2006, 20.08 +0100

Radio 1 - an update

After last Friday's botched launch, details of the new Radio One Listener schedule have finally dribbled out. Steve Lurpack will host a one-hour show each week, and after twelve years off, there's a return for the Sunday night request show - albeit after the tedious Dance Anthems. Here's the line-up:


7pm CAUTION: Zane Lower (runs Mo-We)
9pm Steve Lurpack
10pm Colin Murraymint (Mo-Th)
12am Rock Show
2am Punk Show - Mike Davies

Tuesday - As Monday except

9pm Rev Tim Westwood
12am Asian Beats - Bobby and Nihal
2am Wunkstra's Homegrown - Rask Wame

Wednesday - As Monday except

9pm Jo Why Oh Whylie
12am Unsigned - Huw Stevens
2am Oneworld Alliance - Gilles Peterson


7pm CAUTION: Zane Lower Than Lowe
(7.30 - Session In The Nations - analogue only in Wales, Scotland, N Ireland)
9pm Pete Tonk
10pm Colin Murraymint
12am Eddie Gerry Halliwell
2am Experimental - Mary Anne Hobgoblin


7pm (?) More Pete Tong
9pm The Wunkstra Showcase
11pm Annie's Mix Tape
12am Wow Fabbio and Grooverider
2am Future Mix
4am Trophy Twins


7pm Judge Julie
9pm Rev Westwood
12am Reggae Dancehall - Goldfinger
2am Essential Mix
4am Trophy Twins


7pm Dance Anthems
9pm Your Show - Annie Mack
10pm Surgery - Dr Mark and Letitia
12am Rob da Bank
2am Annie Nightingale

It's unclear if Annie's Mix Tape is compiled by Nightingale or Mack.

In other radio news, XFM is to get an old friend back. Richard Bacon is returning to London's bestest commercial station, and taking back his old spot on driveltime. The current incumbent, Lurchio, will fill his shoes on the obscure and faintly pants Crapital Adio programme.

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posted 05 Jul 2006, 20.12 +0100


Thu 06 Jul 2006

Correspondence course

Overnight, we've been inundated with as much reader response as Humphry Lyttleton usually gets in six months.

Matttt on tennis:

Surely the answer to the question of equality is a mixed competition? Let the cream rise to the top, etc. etc.

It would, I think, be useful to have a short tournament, perhaps towards the end of the season, putting this idea to the test. Maybe invite four top women, and four men with decent rankings. All gents play all ladies, then the top in each pile meet again for the title.

Jiggers on charity, pace Maimonides:

Highly interesting, though I'm not clear whether those eight divisions comprise what we would consider to be a partition of the world of charity donations.

I think the divisions are collectively exhaustive - I can't come up with a counter-example, a charitable act that falls into none of these categories. However, I strongly suspect that different people would put the same act in different categories, suggesting that the divisions are not mutually exclusive, and hence not a partition in the mathematical sense.

It would be interesting to learn of the current scholarly position - is a charity that gathers together donations from many people less well regarded than one-to-one acts? A couple of examples at random: Southgate have signed up to Make Geldof History, and uses Fairtrade products. Tzedek says that it supports small-scale, self-help and sustainable poverty relief projects, and has also signed up to Make Geldof History.

Quirks on football:

Of course, that first semi-final was notable for a classic 'do we fix the tournament or don't we?' moment, when a very minor challenge just inside the penalty area that should have come to nothing was punished... by a free kick just outside the box.

Italy earned their place in Berlin at least partly due to a blatant dive in the final minute against Australia; France earned theirs at least partly through Henry throwing himself to the ground against Spain, holding his face and letting slip the moral high ground he had claimed in Paris in May. Can we say that either have any right to be contesting the final?

France, I suspect, have a better claim to be there, as the side's match against Spain looked to be a one-way contest. Italy, sadly, owe much of their progression to a jammy break in the match against Australia; that was probably the worst single refereeing decision of the finals. (Yes, I include Graham Poll's balls-up - the third yellow did not affect the result of the match.)

If we were to follow that to its conclusion, would we be down to third-rate teams contesting the final?

Looking back over the tournament, Germany required no particular assistance from the refs to reach the semis. Portugal, of course, needed every trick in the book to beat the Dutch in their achtelfinals. In France's quarter, Brazil might have been a bit lucky to beat Australia, but a draw there would only have altered the group if the Aussies had had the extra two seconds to beat Croatia. Portugal's quarter could have been won by England.

The final four could have been Germany, England, Australia, and France, giving the enticing prospect of the Ashes match being played for third place. Well, enticing for us, but not for the rest of the world.

The final will be an embarrassment, potentially even worse than 1990. I won't be watching.

Looking back, I don't think there's been a decent final (as opposed to late-stage match) since I've been watching. I suspect that I shall watch the match in highlights form only.

But let's be glad that the final isn't Italy - Portugal. We would need to replace the pitch with a swimming pool, with the winner to meet Peter Duncan.

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posted 06 Jul 2006, 18.34 +0100

Two Songs a Week 10 - Mash-up

From the Up and Coming file is a group that featured on Popjustice towards the end of last year, and have rather been vanished since. Genie Queen are a three-piece female group from Liverpool. You'd be forgiven for confusing them with early Atomic Kitten, not least because they're signed to Andy McClusky of OMD's record label. To-day's featured track is from the One Song To The Tune Of Another department, combining the lyric to Monica's Don't take it personal with the tune to OMD's Souvenir. Colin Sell is not at the piano, so the result is rather listenable. If the tune wasn't one of the greatest pop motifs ever, it would be better than the sum of its parts.

What a girl goes through; lyrics, Monica Arnold; melody, Cooper / Humphreys; performance, Genie Queen.

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posted 06 Jul 2006, 18.57 +0100

Two Songs a Week
Prescott: Still shagging

John Prescott should go because he's utterly useless. That he's a sleazeball might help ease him out, but it's not the main point.

The man from The Ministry follows the money back, and finds that if the Millennium Dome becomes a casino, the government will get more money than would otherwise be the case. This doesn't explain why John Prescott should be hob-nobbing with the company's head, suggesting that this might be the scheme to lever him out of office.

Is the Dome going to be the defining symbol of the Blair era? This particular white elephant made everyone involved look completely foolish during construction, and was rightly castigated for being full of asinine crap during its 364 days of public opening. It required huge amounts of public money to keep the structure from collapsing in 2001, and still hasn't been used for any public purpose in nearly six years. Now this tremendous white elephant looks set to bring down John Prescott, and make his leader seem even more wobbly.

The Indytab has a puff piece from the Prescott camp, masquerading as news. It's under the byline of Colin Brown, who is not revealed to be the author of John Prescott's biography.

Friends of the Deputy Prime Minister claim he has been the target of a "dirty tricks" campaign by "bloggers" with Tory right-wing links. They are furious at the use of two Westminster internet sites to name a third woman with whom the bloggers allege John Prescott has had an affair, and a woman civil servant in Beijing who is said to have rebuffed his advances. Mr Prescott's allies have privately urged him to take action to remove the smears or close the sites down. His advisers said he was unlikely to do so, to avoid giving them more prominence.

At no point do any of Mr Prescott's "friends", "advisers", or "allies" attempt to dispute the claims that the sexist oaf had it off with Rosie Winterton, the MP for Doncaster; and was told to go away by Nicola Willey, now a diplomat in Red China.

The tedious article goes on to intimate that Messrs. Fawkes and Dale are having their strings pulled by Conservative Central Office. It does not mention the close working relationship between Mr Prescott and the pieces's author, Mr Brown.

Anyway. If you're quick, you can download a copy of John Prescott avoiding the question on to-day's Comedy Today programme; the interviewer is John Humphries.

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posted 06 Jul 2006, 19.51 +0100


Fri 07 Jul 2006

A question
In memoriam. Fifty-six people died on this day last year. We still do not know why. We still do not know how things could have been improved. We still do not know what exactly happened. Indeed, we still do not have any proof - merely oft-repeated claim - that the four people fingered as responsible were the real culprits.

Can we have some answers? Or will fifty-six people have died for no adequately explored reason?

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posted 07 Jul 2006, 18.49 +0100


Sat 08 Jul 2006

The week's news in brief

Many happy returns to Brig Bother, proprietor of Bother's Bar and all-round good egg. May your flops always be ace(s) and not Shafted.

Even those of us who have no interest in fillum can be entertained by conversation. Mark Kermode's discussion of one of this week's blockbusters is worth listening to - one of the greatest rants ever.

How John de Lorean was stitched up - his defence linguist recaps.

Blurb-o-matic. An unsparing, pulse-racing, picaresque novel in the spirit of Orson Welles. Soon to be a major motion picture, and nominated for the Lemon Literary Luncheon. "I couldn't put dowh this hilarious and moving romp" - Geoffrey Archer.

Ben Metcalfe on the pros and cons of the BBC taking advertising.

Lucy Kellaway on the benefits of cycling.

New size, new shape, new look (1): Libraries of Richmond. It's the last roll of the dice for the public library, thanks to those philistines in central government.

For our overseas readers, yes, it is tradition for players to swap shirts at the end of major matches. It is not unusual for players to pull on a swapped shirt.

Remember Nichola Holt? If you do, or even if you don't, you may be interested in a debate over at Wikipedia.

There aren't a huge number of things I agree with my MP about, but the future of Palestine is one of them. Jonathan Steele rightly excoriates the wimpish European response to Israel's strangulation of the Gaza strip.

New size, new shape, new look (2): CD cases. Cardboard slip-cases will reduce the price of the disk by three quid, claims Universal Music.

Always first to the new trends, the Universal Daily Registertab has a two-page feature on emo kids. Next: how to-day's youngsters are eschewing the tea-dance in favour of moves they call the "be-bop" and "jit-jive".

As one era opens, another era ends; the Armed Forces Network will no longer carry live sportscasts, and will instead have hour after hour of tedious oldies muzak. No longer will listeners across western Europe try to tune their receivers to 873 kHz and curse those Spaniards who also occupy the frequency. A better argument for NASN you'll not find.

The Gulf Stream does not cause warm winters in the UK, claims American Scientist.

Why paintball on television does not and will never work: humans can only process three moving things at once.

A letter to the Daily Torygraph gives good news for the multi-faith ethnic mix country.

I recently flew from London to Jakarta with Qatar Airways for the first time. During the leg from London to Doha, we in first class were treated to a splendid "traditional English afternoon tea", which, according to the menu, included scones with fresh cream and strawberry jam, and a selection of home-made sandwiches, cakes and biscuits, with a pot of traditional leaf tea. A notice at the bottom of the menu advised that the meal was "prepared according to Islamic principles". To discover that a fine English tradition is compatible with Islamic principles was more refreshing than the afternoon tea.

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi will stand trial over fraud charges. Also charged is David Mills, the (estranged) husband of Tessa Jowell, the pitiful excuse for a Culture secretary in the UK cabinet.

£14.3 million will be spent on buses in Warwick and Leamington, according to the Department of Transport. There will also be 10 million for a roundabout in Dudley, and 11 million to improve links between the NEC, Birmingham Airport, and the world's road system. Hurrah.

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posted 08 Jul 2006, 16.06 +0100


Sun 09 Jul 2006

Nineties coming back

One for the nostalgia market - the top 40 from ten years ago. Answering the questions: whatever did happen to Shampoo (33), remember the Presidents Of The U S A (15). Posing the question: where did the sample on Three lions (6) originate? Taking the piss out of Kula Shaker (17) is still funny; knocking Gary Barlow (1) still feels wrong, as Forever love was (whisper it softly) a decent record.

Other thoughts: that Ash song (30) was perfect for the week it was released. Good in any week, but for the back end of June, it's damned right. No, we don't need to hear that Space song (29), though another play of Avenging angels would be welcome. Just the one, mind. Alison Limerick (27) had been the Next Big Diva since the original release in 1991, and remains a two-hit wonder (cf 19, 8). Who the hell were Umboza (14); why the hell was Belinda Carlisle's hit (13) not recognised as a major classic? Chart wonk fact: Los Del Rio (11) set the record for the fastest climb within the top 75 here, soaring 74-11; the mark would be broken by Steps in 2001 thanks to street date violations. I reckon that first day sales or bust came in with the record that knocked the Spice Girls (3) from the top slot, Flavour by Peter Andre (5). Then came Bozone, both acts would turn the trick again by the end of the year, and the stage was set for the massive chart turnover of early 1997. But that's another story...

Girls on top

A small piece of pop history this week; Lily Allen's number one record is the fourth in a row credited to a solo female artist. There have only been two previous three-in-a-rows from solo women - Belinda Carlisle, Tiffany, and Kylie Minogue hit the top in early 1988, followed that autumn by Whitney Houston, Enya, and Robin Beck. Of those six, only Whitney Houston was not enjoying her first top 40 hit.

The record run of female lead vocalists is 15 weeks, which occurred twice in the early 1990s:

21 Jan - Kylie Minogue - Tears on my pillow (1)
28 Jan - Sinéad O'Connor - Nothing compares to you (4)
25 Feb - Beats International - Dub be good to me (4) [1]
25 Mar - Snap! - The power (2) [2]
08 Apr - Madonna - Vogue (4)

[1] Lead vocals Lindy Layton
[2] Lead vocals Penny Ford; also contribution from Turbo B.

29 Nov - Whitney Houston - I will always love you (10)

07 Feb - 2 Unlimited - No limit (5) [3]

[3] Vocals Anita Doth

There have been other runs of 10 weeks or more, but surprisingly few:

Run 1: (10 weeks)

11 Aug - Doris Day - Whatever will be will be (6)
22 Sep - Anne Shelton - Lay down your arms (4)

Run 2: (12 weeks)

20 Jul - Elton John / Kiki Dee - Don't go breaking my heart (6) [4]
31 Aug - Abba - Dancing queen (6)

[4] An equal male-female duet.

Run 3: (10 weeks)

10 Jan - Belinda Carlisle - Heaven is a place on earth (2)
24 Jan - Tiffany - I think we're alone now (3)
14 Feb - Kylie Minogue - I should be so lucky (5)

This was the first occasion on which three solo female acts held the top spot.

Runs 4 and 5 - see above.

Run 6: (13 weeks)

19 Oct - Spice Girls - Spice up your life (1)
26 Oct - Aqua - Barbie girl (4)
23 Nov - Various - Perfect day (2) [5]
06 Dec - Teletubbies - Teletubbies say eh oh (2) [6]
20 Dec - Spice Girls - Too much (2)
03 Jan - Various - Perfect day (1) [5]
10 Jan - All Saints - Never ever (1)

[5] Roughly a 50-50 mixture of male and female vocalists.
[6] Predominantly female vocals. Honest.

Run 7: (10 weeks)

18 Mar - Heraset - Pure and simple (3) [7]
08 Apr - Emma Bunton - What took you so long (2)
22 Apr - Destiny's Child - Survivor (1)
29 Apr - S Club 7 - Don't stop moving (1) [8]
06 May - Geri Halliwell - It's raining men (2)
18 May - S Club 7 - Don't stop moving (1) [8]

[7] Primary vocals Kym Marsh.
[8] Lead vocals Rachel Stevens and Jo O'Mera.

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posted 09 Jul 2006, 16.05 +0100

News of the day

The United Nations has blamed Israel for the worsening humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and demanded immediate access for relief workers and supplies.

The USD 100 (€70) barrel of oil is looking inevitable. Oil prices have basically increased in a straight line from USD 25/barrel to USD 75/barrel since Bush's 'Mission Accomplished' stunt.

From Ukraine: Pro Russian parties form coalition.

We're all doomed, says Interior Ministry of the identity register nonsense.

Also even if everything went perfectly (which it will not) it is very debatable (given performance of Govt ICT projects) whether whatever TNIR turns out to be (and that is a worry in itself) can be procured, delivered, tested and rolled out in just over two years and whether the resources exist within Govt and industry to run two overlapping procurements. What benchmark in the Home Office do we have that suggests that this is even remotely feasible?

No fresh revelations in the Prescott Affair(s). Iain Dale reckons accepting hospitality to that amount is a breach of the ministerial code, but - as we saw earlier this year with Tessa Jowell (or was it someone else? There have been so many scandals this year that I forget) the judge and jury over the ministerial code is A R P Blair.

Distraction therapy? The attorney general won't refer a notorious jail sentence to review. Craig Sweeney was sentenced to 18 years in jail for a sexcrime on a child. His sentence is then reduced by one-third because he entered a guilty plea; he is then entitled to apply for parole after serving half the sentence. Taking time already served into account, he may be free in little over five years. Interior minister John Reid publicly called the sentence "lenient", but has been slapped down. Rather than blaming the judge, Reid might have looked again at the sentencing guidelines that caused this whole mess in the first place.

In defence of hoodies - Dave. Evidently the aspirant school captain is worried that his bestmate Ozzy won't be able to buy academic textbooks from Whetslab (formerly Otter's) without running afoul of anti-hoodie prejudice in the town centre.

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posted 09 Jul 2006, 16.44 +0100

Music in week 27

Most-heard ten.

1. N nelly furtardo       5
2. 2 pink                 5
3. 1 keane                5
4. N zutons               4
5. N feeling              4
6. N kooks                4
7. N snow patrol          3
8. 6 orson                3
9. N lily allen           3
10 9 corinne bailey rae   3

No change in the entire top 10 in Germany this week, an example of chart stasis that has never happened in the entire history of the national chart. Miguel Angel Munoz is new at number 3 in France, Diras que estoy loco is the first summer hit of the year. Be afraid, but be thankful that it's better than the Crazy Frog. Then be afraid again, because said Thing is still number one in France. La Fearne au Coton never has this trouble... A new chart-topper in Flanders, Jij bent de mooiste from Laura Lynn. In Sweden, the Backyard Babies land at number 3 with Dysfunctional professional; there's new Kent in the top 10, too.

North Europe's Top Twenty

 20 20 Depeche Mode - John the revelator
 19 15 Primal Scream - Country girl
 18 re Automatic - Monster
 17  3 Beatfreaks - Somebody's watching me
*16 NE Kooks - She moves in her own way
 15 14 Basshunter - Boten Anna
*14 NE Zutons - Valerie
 13 16 Pakito - Living on video
 12  8 Lordi - Hard rock hallelujah
 11  4 Infernal - From Paris to Berlin
 10 13 Snow Patrol - You're all I have
* 9  9 Annoying Thing - We are the champions
  8 10 Mary J Blige / U2 - One
* 7 11 Muse - Supermassive black hole
  6  6 Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
* 5 12 Pink - Who knew?
  4  7 Feeling - Fill my little world
* 3  5 Keane - Is it any wonder?
* 2  2 Nelly Furtado - Maneater
* 1  1 Shakira - Hips don't lie

All the newies this week are big in the UK.

As referenced elsewhere, Lily Allen is the new number one, with her anti-bloke single Smile. Lily is the daughter of Keith Allen, best known for writing the 1990 number one hit World in motion.... Frank and Nancy Sinatra are the only other father and daughter to hit the top spot. Razorlight climb to number 3, In the morning is perfectly serviceable, but perfectly immemorable. Paolo Nutini is up from 42 to 5 with the full release of Last request, he's an introspective singer-songwriter-moaner. Very popular, but I just can't see the point. Ditto for Bob Sinclar, who enters at 9.

And ditto for George Michael, in at 13. He's been having hits now for nigh-on a quarter of a century, and he hasn't had anything particular to say since 1996. Rogue Traders blast in at 18 with their upbeat Voodoo child (not a Hendrix cover), and Justin vs Simian sample Bowie's Starman on their decidedly mediocre number 20 hit.

We like... Pipettes, whose Pull shapes is number 26, and proves that the Strawberry Switchblade revival is alive and well. Hurrah! Jose Gonzalez covers Kylie Minogue; Hand on your heart was originally a number one in 1989, and is now a number 29. It's still passable but no great shakes.

Elsewhere... Rifles have a top 40 hit at last, Peaches can only make 50, Charlatans 53, Ferry Corstern 57, Mobb Deep 75 - they'll all be pretty annoyed by that. Regina Spektor might have hoped to do better than 60, too. Egg climbs into the top 75 after three weeks bubbling under - Walking away could yet become an underground hit.

Muse have the number one album, with Kooks and Zutons also outselling Keane and Lostprophets. The highest placed foreigner is Nina Simone at number 7, and she's dead. So is Johnny Cash, new at 9. Ray Lamantagne sees a bounce from his appearance on Jules Holland, now number 16. Gnarls and Neyo also bounce up, so does the single-laden Jose Gonzalez. Only other new entry comes from Keisha White, who will surely be a pub trivia question by 2010.

Here's the good stuff on the singles listing:

 1 13 Lily Allen - Smile
 2  1 Shakira - Hips don't lie
 4  2 Nelly Furtardo - Maneater
10  7 Kooks - She moves in her own way
11  6 Automatic - Monster
12 11 Zutons - Valerie
16 12 Pink - Who knew?
17 10 Muse - Supermassive black hole
19 14 Lostprophets - Rooftops
24 17 Feeling - Fill my little world
26 NE Pipettes - Pull shapes
28 25 Kooks - Naive
29 NE Jose Gonzalez - Hand on your heart
30 27 Beatfreaks - Somebody's watching me
31 22 Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway
32 NE Rifles - She's got standards
33 29 Keane - Is it any wonder?
39 40 Primal Scream - Country girl
43 23 Guillemots - Made up lovesong number 43
45 33 Fratellis - Henrietta
46 53 Snow Patrol - You're all I have
49 49 Orson - Bright idea
52 51 Nerina Pallot - Everybody's gone to war
58 72 Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats
60 NE Regina Spektor - On the road
61 59 Raconteurs - Steady as she goes
62 28 Long Blondes - Weekend without makeup
65 56 Sunblock / Robin Beck - First time

permanent link
posted 09 Jul 2006, 19.37 +0100

Weather in week 27

An obnoxiously hot week, in the draft of south-easterlies. Thunderstorms were around the country from Monday, and the Shropshire village of Albrighton was cut off on Tuesday morning following an intense storm event - observers five miles away recorded less than 1mm of rain. In spite of the lower temperatures from Wednesday, the humidity didn't drop below 65% until a cold front moved through on Friday lunchtime - when it passed, humidity fell 8% in 90 minutes.

03 Mo sunny spells        17/30
04 Tu mostly sunny        15/28
05 We cloud, humid        16/24
06 Th sun spls, hvy shwrs 18/23,10.5
07 Fr cloud to sun        15/20, 1.0
08 Sa cloud               11/20
09 Su rain to sun, wind   12/22, 1.5

Degree cooling days reached 140, compared to 91/237 after a sweltering week last year, and 60/184 two summers ago. Thursday's rain fell in two half-hour cloudbursts at around 10.30am and 5.15pm.

The forecast: Relatively strong westerly winds look set to continue into the week, as the Azores area of high pressure begins to establish itself again. Southern areas could become rather warm towards the end of the week, as high pressure builds. However, there's a front pushing at the fringes, which could bring substantial rain to the north and west.

permanent link
posted 09 Jul 2006, 19.39 +0100


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