The Snow In The Summer or So-So

07/10/2006 - 07/16/2006

Mon 10 Jul 2006

A brief history of silence (III)

Following up a post from July last year.

I believe the list below to be a complete list of silences observed by a sizable portion of the British public since the start of 1995; do write in if you have further information. In particular, I'm seeking confirmation of the length of the British Legion's armistice day silences in 1995-7, whether the Legion officially called for a silence on D-day + 60 in 2004, whether there was significant observation of a silence for VE-VJ day + 60 in 2005, and if I've missed a silence entirely.

In the list, ? denotes a time believed to be correct; "circa" is an approximate time, as sources differ.

08.05.95, 8.08pm, 2m, VE-day + 50
13.08.95, 9.28pm?, 2m, VJ-day + 50
11.11.95, 11am, 1m, Armistice
12.11.95, 11am, 2m, Rememberance
17.03.96, 9.30am?, 1m, Dunblane
10 and 11.11.96, Rememberance and Armistice
06.09.97, circa 11.47am, 2m, Diana Windsor
09 and 11.11.97, Rememberance and Armistice
08 and 11.11.98, Rememberance and Armistice (both 2m)
11 and 14.11.99, Armistice and Rememberance (both 2m)
11 and 12.11.00, Armistice and Rememberance
14.09.01, 11am, 3m, Septembereleven
11.11.01, 11am, 2m, Rememberance and Armistice (combined)
15.02.02, 2pm?, 1m, Margaret Windsor (not widely observed)
09.04.02, 11.30am, 2m, Liz Bowes-Lyon
24.08.02, 3pm, 1m, Soham (unofficial)
11.09.02, 1.46pm, 1m, Septembereleven +1
10 and 11.11.02, 2m, Rememberance and Armistice
15.02.03, circa 3.30pm, 2m, Anti-war march (unofficial)
09 and 11.11.03, 2m, Rememberance and Armistice
15.03.04, 11am, 3m, Madrid bombings
06.06.04, 9.30pm, 1m, D-day +60 (?, not widely observed)
11 and 14.11.04, 2m, Armistice and Rememberance
05.01.05, 12pm, 3m, Tsunami
10.07.05, 11am, 2m, VE-VJ-day + 60 (?, not widely observed)
14.07.05, 12pm, 2m, London bombings
11 and 13.11.05, 2m, Rememberance and Armistice
07.07.06, 12pm, 2m, London bombings
11 and 12.11.05, 2m, Rememberance and Armistice

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posted 10 Jul 2006, 17.13 +0100

Two Songs a Week 11 - Pyjama Splits

Yesterday, I wrote about runs of female vocalists at number one. A group that never made it in the UK went on to have more hits than any other all-female group. Bananarama (for it was they!) formed in 1981, and (according to legend) took their name from a combination of Roxy Music's song Pyjamarama and the children's show The Banana Splits. The group took up chart residence the following year, and didn't really leave until 1990. The classic line-up - Keren Woodward, Sarah Dallin, Siobhan Fahey - survived until 1988, when Fahey left to form Shakespear's Sister. The replacement was Jacquie O'Sullivan, and though the trio employed the other golden boys of 80s pop - Stock, Aitken and Waterman - they couldn't quite have the same success again. Just to rub salt into the wounds, Fahey's new group spent much of 1992 in the number one slot. The song I've picked is from the unlikely intersection of Fahey with Waterman, recorded in 1987.

Love in the first degree, words and music Matt Aitken / Sarah Elizabeth Dallin / Siobhan Fahey / Mike Stock / Pete Waterman / Keren Woodward, performed by Bananarama.

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posted 10 Jul 2006, 18.08 +0100

Two Songs a Week

Wed 12 Jul 2006

Faster, higher, more foolish

World cup final; no particular advantage in the first half, France had the game by the balls in the second half and at the start of extra time. Then Zidane was sent off for a head butt for reasons that haven't (yet) been adequately explained (though M Zidane will talk on the 8 o'clock news to-night), and Italy scraped home in the series of kicks from the penalty mark. It's an unsatisfactory way to end a match, never mind the tournament. Taking off one player after 90 minutes, and another if the match hasn't been decided after an additional quarter-hour, would seem better. Learn from the NHL for once.

The Weltklasse athletics meeting in Lausanne last night. It's barely ten years since this event took pride of place on BBC2 television, but now it's relegated to the backwaters of Eurosport. A shame. Particularly when there's a new 110m hurdles record. Liu Xiang of Red China covered the ten hurdles in 12.88 seconds, clipping three-hundreths of a second off Colin Jackson's mark from thirteen years ago. Wikipedia's list of current world records show the following men's marks as pre-dating Mr Jackson's scarpering:

The discus and hammer marks were set by communist-bloc athletes under questionable drugs-testing regimes. The best discus mark by a known-clean athlete was set in August 2000; the best hammer throw just last year.

The death has been announced of John Spencer, a snooker player.

Economics, and an Olympic propaganda roadshow has been visiting town. In addition from the usual platitudinous bullshit from Tessa Two Mortgages, HRH Sebastian Coe blathered on about how "the national roadshow will help to ensure that regional cities and businesses feel part of the 2012 experience and provide them with the information about our plans and the opportunities to be part of the world's biggest sporting event." Odd. Never knew the UK was going to hold the International Wallpapering Championships...

From the department of daft: Swim the Thames. Endurance swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh is attempting to become the first person to swim the length of the River Thames.

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posted 12 Jul 2006, 17.50 +0100

Things we've learned this week

Those who are missing my presence on Livejournal will want to go here. Those who are not, or never were, will not.

Our Football Association, despite spending thousands on their media facilities, conducted everything in the language of Shakespeare and Beckham (it is the same language, just used differently) - Glenn Moore, the Independent.

Janet Daly suggests hoodies don't need hugs, immigrants do. Aren't there enough hugs to go to both groups? Mrs Daly says that cosmopolitan societies are healthier and more dynamic than inbred, inward-looking ones. By that token, wouldn't societies that tried to understand the differences between generations be more healthy than one that, say, assumed all teen-agers were up to mischief?

No longer up to mischief: Shamil Basayev, who spent his life co-ordinating military attacks in Chechnya's independence drive.

If there's one thing we Brits have come to rely on, it's the sheer ineptitude and incompetence of the Interior Ministry. Which other department would announce grandiose plans to merge police forces, then lose their nerve. Even the agreed merger between Lancashire and Cumberland is off, because the local councils can't divvy up the cost between themselves. The previous interior minister, Charles Not In Charge, is livid, but that's hardly news. And then we hear that the identity register won't be launched in 2008 as promised, but has been delayed indefinitely. Wonder if Mister Blair might sell off the ministry to Virgin Trains...

Mat asks: What has John Prescott ever done for us? We asked the Number 10 website. The Number 10 website said, "oversee the efficient development of Government policy." That, and providing support for the car industry, and support for hard-pressed diary secretaries everywhere, and support for Rosie Winterton in particular, and services to the croquet world of Thursday Next. Glad we've cleared that up.

And glad to hear the two ringing endorsements from Mister Blair to Mr Prescott at Who Wants To Be A Premier to-day. We're reminded of the resounding motions of confidence in Mr Sven Goran Erikkson. And in his chief fund-raiser Michael Levy, arrested to-day in the cash-for-peerages scandal. Unusually, Mister Blair says he's not 100% behind the police, intimating that they're abusing their powers.

And finally, spotted in the stores to-day: Mince Pies. It's a very good job I'm not running the Yuletide Countdown any more, because 12 July is too soon by about three months.

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posted 12 Jul 2006, 18.19 +0100


Thu 13 Jul 2006

What is radio for?

One of my good chums has begun listening in to the Home Service, or whatever they're calling it this week. What might interest an educated person with a background in science and in performing arts? I've taken the liberty of sitting down with next week's rusty old Radio Times, and these shows might be up your boulevard.

You said that you liked ISIHAC, which is (naturally) now off air until November. In its place - 6.31 Monday and 12.04 Sunday - comes Just A Minute, in which stars like Paul Merton, Graham Norton, Town Hawkes, and Clement Freud are invited to talk for a minute without hesitation, repetition, or deviation. There's more traditional sitcommery in the other 6.31 slots, I'm particularly liking The Personality Test (Weds), a set of questions about one person. Also of note is the Friday topical show - this week sees the return of The Now Show, starring Punt and Dennis. It's a bit like their Bad Week broadcast on the Light, but far more topical. You might also like Loose Ends, 6.15 Saturday evening.

There's a lot of drama on the Home Service, and sometimes the controller prefers quantity to quality. A 45-minute play each weekday afternoon turns up the occasional gem - a new Rumpole play goes out next Wednesday - but there's an awful lot of dross to weed out. There's a regular 9pm Friday play with a contemporary beat, next week's reconstructs an asylum appeal. Saturday afternoon's playhouse is the biggest gig on the network, this week is Diana Rigg and Martin Jarvis recreating their West End hit "Honour".

In addition to all this new work, there are pocket dramas around a theme each night at 7.45 - next week's theme is "Birthday Girl". There's fiction at 3.30 and 10.45, and a factual book at 9.45 (repeated midnight 30). If it's real cutting edge drama, off to the Third Programme's "The Wire" strand, and their Sunday drama - demands of the Proms mean the drama goes out on Saturday next week.

Your interest in the way the mind works will be tickled by All In The Mind (9pm Tues). There's wider science discussions at the same time on Thursday, and life's big questions are addressed on Start the Week (9am and 9.30pm Monday).

The Home Service is the flagship news station, and there's an awful lot of it about. Avoid the self-important Today programme, especially the depressing 8.10 interview. I'd rather listen to Cliff Evans. The long-form news bulletins at 6pm and midnight are the best summaries on UK radio, as they give the news straight. From Our Own Correspondent (11.30 Sat) is a sequence of five-minute talks by news reporters on site - it's sometimes very revealing. Analysis (8pm Thurs) and File On Four (8pm Tues) are Panorama on the radio.

I should also mention the diversions, programmes that are entertaining without being comedy. On Sunday, Here Is A Box, A Musical Box (1.30) remembers the world of Trumptonshire. If you're going to listen to the show, don't read the Off The Telly article first. Tuesday will see Humphrey Lyttleton tell the second half of the American Forces Network story, and on Friday there's a correspondence from Marin Mersenne, of prime number fame.

The famous quizzes. Ah, yes. We're currently filling in, as Round Britain Quiz isn't airing this year. X Marks The Spot returns on the 24th (repeat 11pm Saturday from 30th). I can't improve on the UKGS write-up, mostly because it's written by the same chap who writes the puzzles, his style is refreshingly youthful. The other shows in rotation are Brain of Britain (nod sagely when they give the answer), Masterteam (shout out the answers when you know them), Counterpoint (a music quiz), and RBQ (if you can understand the answers after they've been explained, give yourself a pat on the back.)

And finally, if you're after a weekly fix of ISIHAC, take yourself over to BBC7 at 7.30 each Monday night. That station is a whole other post...

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posted 13 Jul 2006, 20.28 +0100


Fri 14 Jul 2006

Two Songs a Week 12 - More caffeine

So I was watching Veronica Mars last week, and concluding that this programme really is nothing more than Murder One with a hip soundtrack. Much to my surprise, the hip soundtrack suddenly featured a one-miss wonder band, The Faders.

Who were The Faders? Molly the daughter of Midge Ure (though don't mention this in any interview otherwise she'll go ape), Cherisse, and a drummer called Toy. Before being dropped (I'm not even sure if the album came out), their one minor hit was No sleep tonight, and it's nothing less than Iggy Pop's Lust for life dragged from the neolithic era into the modern day, given a quick coat of glittery eyeshadow, and told to go out and pull.

There is some fairness in the world; Popjustice reported just last week that Uredaughter, now sans the other Faders, will be re-promoting the song later in the year. It had better turn into a Proper Hit this time, else there'll be trouble.

No sleep tonight, words and lyrics, Sara Eker / Parker / Mark Taylor / Jeff Taylor; performance, The Faders.

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posted 14 Jul 2006, 18.16 +0100

Two Songs a Week
Time for an express delivery?

Mystic Mug writes...

Hullo, everyone. You join me in the counting house, where the count has finished counting the copies of every newspaper sold in the UK last month. Count, I'm particularly interested in the sales of the Diana Express, and of The Times. Have you got some numbers for me?

Indeed I have, Mystic Mug. I've got every number in the world, even the ones you can't even imagine. Ha ha.

Er, yes. Can you tell me the result, Count.

Of course, why didn't you ask. The Express somehow managed to sell 844,729 copies to people who thought they were buying the Daily Hell. The Times shifted 656,862 copies to people who thought they were buying the Daily Hell.

Which means the difference is 187,867.

Yes, it is. Grr. Nobody likes a smart mug.

How does this affect the scoreboard? Ah, nothing seems to have changed. Just give me a moment...

Er, Mystic Mug is currently banging the scoreboard with a handle. All done?

All done, Count. The scoreboard is accurate, no-one scored anything, as the highest guess was a gap of just 128,544. The scoreboard has been updated, more out of habit than anything else. When am I back? Ah yes, August's RAJAR figures. Have a good summer, everyone!

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posted 14 Jul 2006, 18.30 +0100


Sat 15 Jul 2006

A lot of news

Sad to hear that The Iconic David Butler is to retire, and enjoy the fruits of his career. We'll not be changing the name of our souped-up swingometer, the bacronymous DAVIDBUTLER.

Which brings us neatly on to the current state of the parties. At the moment, council by-elections suggest that there's a 7.4% straight swing from Labour to the Tories, around a 3.5% swing from the Lib Dems to the Tories, and something like 4% from Labour to the Lib Dems. Now, these swings always come down before an election, but they are creeping up - back in May, the Lab-Tory and Lab-LD swings were around 5%, and there was no measurable effect between Tory and LD. On these figures, and on current boundaries, I'd suggest that the Tories would have around 300 seats, Labour around 245, with the Lib Dems making incremental progress. Big names at risk include Charles Clarke, R Kelly, Glenda Jackson, and Chris Whone. More from DAVIDBUTLER in a month or two.

Those of you who are fans will appreciate an Eddi Reader concert from Australia's Radio National last week. Those of you who are not will probably appreciate the concert as well, just not as much. Also from RN, I appreciated a talk on foreign words in English. Witty, and the book it's notionally reviewing sounds fascinating, too. Why can't the Home Service do this sort of thing?

What is the difference between the radio stations Xfm and Kerrang? The Pipettes. Kerrang's head is so far up its arse that it won't see the rebellion implicit in throwback bubblegum pop. Xfm, bless their cotton socks, can, and signed Lauren Laverne to prove it.

Good grief, is the Mercury prize still going? Indeed so, and next week will see the fifteenth (count 'em!) nominations list announced. In the Indytab, Andy Gill recalls fourteen years of consistently picking the wrong album.

Police abuse anti-social behaviour law shock. The section of the Anti Social Behaviour Act used by the police to disperse protesters against a play in December 2004 did not apply to lawful protest. It had been authorised solely for dealing with "seasonal revellers" and could not be lawfully used for other purposes, such as those objecting to the content of Bezhti.

Want a cab at Neustraße station? You'll have to look elsewhere - the station's owner, Notwork Fail, has imposed a 20p per cab charge to tout for business. The company will be earning thousands a day for doing absolutely nothing, still less ensure that all the escalators in the station work and there isn't an almighty crush when trains arrive.

The death has been announced of Red Buttons, a comedian-turned-actor. He is perhaps best-known for his role in the top corner of screens on most television channels, indicating that interactive content may be available.

The Pete Doh'erty is great club will appreciate Sam Leith's comparison of him with the bloke out of Pink Floyd. The rest of us will roll our eyes in sheer boredom. What did Pink Floyd ever do for us?

Blair's government sleazier than Major's, says poll. With chief fund-raiser Michael Levy and two ministers taken in for questioning in the cash-for-peerages row, and with John Prescott still not able to clarify exactly what the hell it is he does, this can only have been Labour's Best Week Ever! Business as usual continues at Downing-street, Mr Levy will continue in his role as honours-broker fund-raiser in chief.

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posted 15 Jul 2006, 19.18 +0100


Sun 16 Jul 2006

Music in week 28

Thanks to spending the week at home, it's been a huge week for airplay.

1. 9 lily allen           9
2. N kelly clarkson       8
3. 6 kooks                6
4. N automatic            5
5. 8 orson                4
6. N muse                 4
7. N primal scream        4
8. 10corinne bailey rae   4
9. 4 zutons               4
10 N lostprophets         4

Hats off to Reynars and the boys, as Brainstorm have a 1-2 in Latvia's airplay charts, Digitally bright leads Veter. Gnarls Barkley's record has finally been released in France, where it lands at number 3, and consolidates the group's position in Europe's twenty. Obscurity of the week is Denmark's number 10, Boonika bate doba, which was last year's Moldavan entry at Eurovision. You know, the one with the drumming granny...

North Europe's Top Twenty

 20 19 Primal Scream - Country girl
*19 NE Sportfreunde Stiller - 54 70 90 2006
 18 15 Basshunter - Boten Anna
 17 11 Infernal - From Paris to Berlin
 16  7 Muse - Supermassive black hole
 15 re Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway
 14  8 Mary J Blige / U2 - One
 13 13 Pakito - Living on video
 12 12 Lordi - Hard rock hallelujah
 11  4 Feeling - Fill my little world
*10 NE Lily Allen - Smile
  9  5 Pink - Who knew?
* 8 18 Automatic - Monster
  7  3 Keane - Is it any wonder?
* 6  9 Annoying Thing - We are the champions
* 5 14 Zutons - Valerie
* 4 16 Kooks - She moves in her own way
  3  6 Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
* 2  2 Nelly Furtado - Maneater
* 1  1 Shakira - Hips don't lie

Sportfreunde Stiller's was the fan's anthem of the world cup, and they've already re-written it for the next installment. Kelly Clarkson's single spent a week in the top 10 back in September last year; it's finally been given a release as a single in the UK and has been all over the radio. Lily Allen has also been all over the radio.

Two weeks atop the UK charts for Lily Allen, remaining just ahead of Shakira. Rogue Traders move up to number 3 with Voodoo child, with Nelly Furtado and the resurgent Sandi Thom rounding out the top five. Busta Rhymes is the only other newie in the top ten. Highest new entry honours go to Shayne Ward, the winner of last year's X Factor programme has recorded a song called Stand be me which is utterly, abysmally dull, and so is straight in at 14. Where's yer dumper? Where's yer dumper?

James Dean Bradfield, the singer with the Manic Street Preachers, has his first solo single in at 18, two places ahead of the new Dirty Pretty Things track. Gnarls Barkley's second single, Smiley Faces, lands at 23, which is probably behind where the group's old song would be if it wasn't taking advantage of a ROPRA shelter. New at 27 is James Morrison, not the top-strumming Edinburgh bloke, but some dullard who makes Shayne Ward sound interesting.

Remarkable hit of the week is Nylon, whose Losing a friend lands at 29. They're Icelandic, sound like the space between Enya and Björk, and we like. Rooster's new single can only make position 33 - we should have known that they were dumper-bound after finding their calendars still on sale at the end of January for 99 new pence. Missing the top 40, possibly on downloads alone, include the Red Hot Boring Peppers, Sean Paul, and Chris Brown.

Highest album new entry comes from Thom Yorke, the Radiohead solo singer is also taking a brief break from his group and lands at 3. Billy Joel and the Guillemots just about make the top 20, and Wolfmother climb back up to 35. Peter Grant and Regina Spektor are in at the lower ends.

Here's the good stuff on the singles listing:

 1  1 Lily Allen - Smile
 2  2 Shakira - Hips don't lie
 4  4 Nelly Furtardo - Maneater
11 10 Kooks - She moves in her own way
13 11 Automatic - Monster
15 12 Zutons - Valerie
17 16 Pink - Who knew?
18 NE James Dean Bradfield
         - That's no way to tell a lie
20 NE Dirty Pretty Things - Deadwood
22 17 Muse - Supermassive black hole
24 19 Lostprophets - Rooftops
28 24 Feeling - Fill my little world
29 NE Nylon - Losing a friend
31 28 Kooks - Naive
32 NE Milburn - Cheshire cat smile
35 30 Beatfreaks - Somebody's watching me
37 31 Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway
39 33 Keane - Is it any wonder?
43 46 Snow Patrol - You're all I have
44 29 Jose Gonzalez - Hand on your heart
49 39 Primal Scream - Country girl
51 26 Pipettes - Pull shapes
55 43 Guillemots - Made up lovesong number 43
57 49 Orson - Bright idea
60 58 Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats
62 45 Fratellis - Henrietta
70 61 Raconteurs - Steady as she goes

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posted 16 Jul 2006, 19.26 +0100

Weather in week 28

After some drizzle on Monday, it's turned out to be a week of almost unbroken sunshine; high pressure has kept the rain to the extreme north and west. Thanks to some stiff north or north-east winds, temperatures remained decent; the wind fell on Sunday, and temperatures went up.

10 Mo cloud, drizzle      12/21
11 Tu sun                 13/23
12 We sun                 14/24
13 Th sun                 15/23
14 Fr sun                 10/23
15 Sa sun                 10/25
16 Su sun                 12/28

Twenty-seven degree cooling days take the summer up to 167, compared to 137/237 last year, 63/184 two summers ago, and 123/310 in 2003.

The forecast: Warm and mostly calm weather will persist over much of the country until Wednesday, when the winds will begin to pick up from the south-east. A cold front and a shallow area of low pressure will begin to move in from the west during Thursday; winds may come from any direction, and there's the risk of some storms tripped off by the unstable air. The front will press across the UK during Friday, bringing westerlies. The outlook appears to be for more unsettled weather for next week-end.

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posted 16 Jul 2006, 19.34 +0100


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