Thursday, June 29, 2006

Harpo speaks

Harper Lee breaks her silence in letter to Oprah

"Published in the summer issue of Oprah's magazine, O, a rare item by the veteran author of To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee, tells of her discovery of books as a girl growing up in a rural, Depression-era Alabama town." (Guardian)

Osama Al Yoni

PM Cusses Wales (Willesden Herald)

This article displays the new comments layout for linked pages, designed by the indefatig.. tireless Simon Moribund. It is somewhat spoiled by the ignorant twerp who said that Al Yoni was from Scotland, when all experts agree that he was from the Isle of Man. Anyway, he's probably been made into sausages for Royston Vasey by now (Al Yoni, that is, not the twerp, and not Simon Moribund—wait a minute...)

Green agenda - bird power

Letters

Why can bird fanciers not breed ever larger birds, till the birds are big enough to carry people on their backs, or in special baskets? We could then train the birds to carry us to work or overseas for holidays. Simple reins would suffice to guide them, and if we should fall asleep on our way, their innate powers of navigation would return us safely home. A special sling arrangement could be used to catch their droppings, a guaranteed guano bonanza that would more than pay for the creatures' little packets of Trill. Just think, no more noisy, polluting airplanes, and man's dream of flight at last fulfilled. I can't see any downside.

Cyril Pertwee, Stonebridge Park

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

City relocated

Ridley's "Believe it or Not" (No. 2)

The theme park that passes for Dublin at present is not the real place at all. It's a decoy got up to prevent tourists from disturbing the city, which has been moved brick by brick to a secret location. The real Dublin is a haven for all of those thought to be dead who are still alive—James Joyce, Elvis Presley, Lord Lucan, the immortal O'Connell, Freddie Mercury, John Major, Muffin the Mule, the unsinkable Molly Brown, Shergar, Jessie and Frank James and many more.

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Herbert Ridley

Ask the professor

Letters



I remember seeing a program about twins on the television a few years ago in which one twin when he turned fifty, noticed that he had grown a single longer hair on the back of his left thumb above the knuckle. He phoned the other twin and asked him to check and sure enough the other twin also had grown a single longer hair in the same place. Now that I have turned fifty myself, I notice that I also have grown a single longer hair on the back of my left thumb above the knuckle, so it occurs to me that there must be a genetic trait to grow a single longer hair on the back of the left thumb above the knuckle when one turns fifty. Is this the case, and what could be the evolutionary advantage to it?

Mats Kelly, Dollis Hill

Professor Kronk Replies

Yes, you're quite correct, Mats. I too have developed the same thing, curled around in a loop. I can only assume it enables older individuals as they lose their wits, to differentiate their left hands from their right, thus enabling them to sign cheques faster and thereby purchase weapons more quickly than their evolutionary competitors. Those who accidentally pick up their pens with the wrong hand run the risk of being cut down with the newly bought swords of their left-thumb-haired adversaries, before they can complete the purchase of their own swords.*

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Kronk

* Like all great discoveries, it sounds so obvious now. Ed

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Why not a full life sentence?

Three Jailed For Murder Caught On Camera

"He was jailed for life with a minimum term of 15 years. Lynch admitted stabbing 20-year-old Mr Pollen after a night out in Romford last year."

I have seen part of the video on TV and I can't understand why this doesn't deserve a full life sentence. To be honest it severely tests anyone's opposition to the death penalty, even. The sentence is really an insult to the victim and his family, and how can the judge do it when he has the crime on video? There is no excuse.

"[Lynch's] co-defendants, Michael Onokah, 25, and Timmy Sullivan, 19, were each given a minimum sentence of five years for their role in the unprovoked assault."

Well that is another travesty. These guys walked up behind two chaps who were just sitting on a cycle park with their backs to them, and hit them without warning, breaking one's jaw and ultimately murdering the other. In the video we see one of them hit their victim for no reason, so violently that something - teeth, glasses, we don't know what - flies from the victim's face and he is smashed to the ground. Surely be to Christ, they should be the ones getting 15 years and the other absolute rat should be given life meaning life, or a minimum of 25 years.

Imagine if that was your kid sitting waiting for a bus home, and those fucking animals attacked him and a friend like that.

There is no justice in this country, if this is the standard.

Zoz

Friday, June 23, 2006

Suspect or majority?

Tony Blair: "It's no use saying that in theory there should be no contradiction between the rights of the suspect and the rights of that law-abiding majority." (Times Online)

This undermines the principle that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and sets the scene for arbitrary detention and torture. You have a right not to be blindfolded and subjected to loud music through headphones, not to be forced to hold "stress positions" and deprived of sleep, but Blair would like to take those rights away from you. He would also like the option to out-source torture to his sadistic friends overseas, who care even less for your rights.

Feargal Mooney

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Boris watch

Why trial by judge, not by media, is right

"The truth is I know little of Mr Justice Ognall's private life. I don't know whether he is normally a brave or assertive chap, or whether he finds it difficult to get a cab in London on a Saturday night. In fact, I am not even sure of his first name, or whether he is known to his wife and friends as "Oggie". I exalt him today because all other qualities are irrelevant next to the audacity and common sense he showed, 12 years ago..." (Boris Johnson)

Out in the midday sun

Speakers' Corner



A view across the grass to Speaker's Corner, the north east corner of Hyde Park, London, on the day of the Stop the War demo in 2003 (Saturday, March 22nd.)



One of the regular characters, waving a bible and arguing with hecklers who dallied to torment him on their way to the demo. (I don't think the whistles are part of the heckling.) (Listen)



Don't go via the underpass if you can help it. [Is this still the same? Ed]

V. S. Naipaul on Speakers' Corner: V. S. Naipaul arrived in London in the late fifties or early sixties (?). He has published some of his impressions in a short story "Bohemia." Here is a snippet where he mentions his alter ego Willie Chandran's first impression of Speakers' Corner.

"The only two places he knew about were Buckingham Palace and Speakers' Corner. He was disappointed by Buckingham Palace. He thought the maharaja's palace in his own state was far grander, more like a palace, and this made him feel, in a small part of his heart, that the kings and queens of England were impostors, and the country a little bit of a sham. His disappointment turned to something like shame—at himself, for his gullibility—when he went to Speakers' Corner. [...] He didn't expect to see an idle scatter of people around half a dozen talkers, with the big buses and the cars rolling indifferently by all the time. Some of the talkers had very personal religious ideas, and Willie, remembering his own home life, thought that the families of these men might have been glad to get them out of the house in the afternoons."

Text: Feargal Mooney. Pictures: Ossian Lennon. Sound: Ida Token

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

We've got to stop these fanatical maniacs...

...from developing a nuclear weapon

Oh *^(!. It's too late.

Double bill at the Willesden Volta

If you liked Clouds of ink swirled from the pen of Heaven into the bowl of the sky. A pear tree bent in the rushing wind, I'm sorry to tell you the pear tree is no more. According to Mrs Haverty we were conned into having it felled after one of the two trunks split.

Anyway, the afternoon turned to blustery evening after a sunny day, and we still have some wind trees here, so Cinecitta Willesden presents a double bill today: Wind in the Elder / How Dogs get Worms. (QuickTime, 4.3 mb)

Coming Soon: Chancing my Arm (Trailer, PG). The ultimate horror flick, in which a demon battles with a disembodied arm for control of the Orb of Ten. One orb to fetch them all, one to return, one to throw again. (QuickTime, 10.5 mb)

* Script: Ganache. Steadicam: Onion Mbeke

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Secret knights with the Queen

How much and to whom?

You'd think with all that money they'd get a bit more than the garter. Peasants ye are and peasants ye shall remain.

How much and to whom?

Furtive CBE award to billionaire

"According to the Foreign Office list the Queen approved Bechtel's honour for 'services to UK-American commercial relations' on 25 April 2003 - just a week after the company won a bumper £430m contract to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure after the invasion. The honour to one of America's wealthiest citizens, a man with intimate ties to the Republican administration, will reignite the row over the secretive honours process." (Observer)

How much did this guy pay and to whom in order to obtain the title "Companion of the British Empire" and thereby make a prostitute of the British monarch?

Zoz

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Red roses for you



I massacred these wild roses last year, and they've returned sweeter than ever. My guilt is worse than Captain Vere's in Billy Budd. [Don't go all religious on us, for Pete's sake. Ed]



Ganache

Friendly Fire

Cecil         See that, another six Brits killed by the Yanks.

Chancer    It's friendly fire. Only friendly fire, not as bad as being shot by enemies. Somebody slipped on a banana skin and their gun went off, or they put down a coffee cup on a Patriot missile trigger, or they were carrying a ladder that hit a gunner on the head when they turned; nothing sinister at all, just friendly fire. It's like an own goal, one of those things. It makes no difference, because the enemy kills you anyway. At least this is friendly fire. It's not like killing; it's not murder. You may commit war crimes by killing your enemies illegally, but you're in the clear as long as you kill your own (or Allies.) You don't get dragged to the Hague and given life. Not at all! Sure it's only friendly fire; it's only your friends you're killing.

From: "The Shadow of a Conman" by Jude Murphy




Writing Home

Ossian

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Gardening roundup

Great excitement this evening with a silver and opalescent monsoon closing the recent heatwave. The naivest waves of cherry and apple blossom have long spent their weightless beauty and the once fearless lilacs have forgotten themselves and gone to seed. An embarassment of popcorn white mayflowers quickly turned and fell, blushing pink speckles onto the grass.



Our camera crew rushed to capture the drama of a ladybird steeplejack patrolling the dawn white sprays of elderflower in the arboretum. The rampant and fecund elder has conjured these flowers from elaborate multi-candelabra podworks, and its show has only just begun.



The wild rose is everywhere tangled in the tall hedgerow of lilac, holly, forsythia, may and firethorn. And how did I omit forsythia, spring's first resplendent harbinger, from the chronology of inflorescence? Its yellow petals have been collected and made into languid catkins by the genteel laburnum, but-*

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Ganache

* I'm sorry to have to tell you that Ganache has been rushed to hospital with head injuries, after falling victim to a ten kilo soursop from the same tree in the greenhouse that nearly killed Prof. Kronk (caused him to forget the proof of his greatest theorem). As much as we like it, I fear that either the soursop will have to be felled, or the bench relocated. Our best wishes for a speedy recovery go out to Ganache and his long time companion Velvan. Ed

Friday, June 09, 2006

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The power of speech

Guardian Unlimited | Books | Extract

"The voice is one of our most powerful instruments, lying at the heart of the communication process. It belongs to both the body and the mind. It is shaped by our earliest infant experience and by powerful social conventions. It bridges our internal and external worlds, travelling from our most private recesses into the public domain, revealing not only our deepest sense of who we are, but also who we wish we weren't. It's a superb guide to fear and power, anxiety and subservience, to another person's vitality and authenticity as well as our own. You can't really know a person until you have heard them speak." (Anne Karpf)

Ossian

Friday, June 02, 2006

Exclusive: Word Cup - Live commentary (starting today)

with Sean Brijbasi

Ladies and gentlemen, if we could have some quiet please, the author is about to begin.

The

Joe: A solid start. The use of the definite article the, though widely used, has really been known to quiver in this man's hands.

Jack: Yes, we've seen it time and again. A solid opening. Wonder where he'll go from here?

Jim:

The dog

Joe: A formidable connection made here.

Jack: There's something of a firebrand in this man, isn't there? I mean who could have—I'm—pardon me ladies and gentlemen I didn't think I would be at a loss for words already.

Joe: Hah hah. He does that to people, though, doesn't he Jack?

Jack: I'm really speechless.

Jim:

The dog ran

Joe: A verb! A verb! He's really picking up the pace now.

Jack: I've seen him do this before. We might be in for a special treat here.

Jim:

The dog ran into

Joe: Touché. He's using everything in his arsenal now. The preposition is, no doubt, playing all sorts of tricks with the readers' minds. I know it is with mine. Definitely the deft touch of a savvy raconteur.

Jack: I dunno Joe. I might have to disagree with you there. It seems to me that he's gotten himself into a bit of a quagmire now. I mean, where does he go from here? But I don't want to speak too soon.

Joe: No. Not with this guy. How many times has his work been spoken too soon of and how many times has he pulled up his shirtsleeves and just gotten the job done? A tireless worker. Probably one of the least appreciated aspects of his personality. And a role model.

Jack: You might be right Joe. Still, I'll be interested to see where he goes with this now.

Jim:

The dog ran into the

Joe: Oh! Another definite article.

Jack: That was most unexpected. He's going somewhere new with this. Now I've seen it all. Hah hah hah.

Jim:

The dog ran into the yard

Joe: I'm speechless. Ladies and gentlemen, we are witnessing something historic here.

Jack: Oh, he really is pulling out all the stops now. Fantastic stuff. He may be writing on the fly here. I still think he put himself in a bit of a spot with that preposition, but he's recovered brilliantly.

Jim:

The dog ran into the yard like

Joe: Are we going into simile here, Jack?

Jack: It looks to me that he might be, Joe. So far it's been a dynamic performance. He could have ended with yard and called it a day.

Joe: Not this guy, Jack. How many times has he pushed the envelope? I mean the letters are just falling out. Still, he has to be careful here doesn't he? Just last week we saw someone try this and become completely discombobulated.

Jack: It certainly is tricky.

Jim: I'm still here.

The dog ran into the yard like a

Joe: Yes, it looks like he's going into a simile. One can only shake one's head at this. How many times has the average person tried this on the weekend? He makes it look like child's play.

Jack: And an indefinite article. There must be ice water in his veins. Look at the crowd. No one is sitting now.

Jim:

The dog ran into the yard like a cat.

Joe: Oh my!

Jack: The scene has turned into pandemonium here Joe. A brilliant touch. Brilliant. And to leave no doubt he ended it with the period. All in one motion. Unbelievable. Ladies and gentlemen, remember what you saw here today. We may never see the likes of it again in our lifetime.

Joe: Jack, I gotta tell you. I've been covering these things for decades and I have never seen anyone better. I believe that we are in the presence of greatness. Could he be the best ever?

Jim: