Saturday, May 17, 2008

Visual aid required

Gordon Brown was said today to be "relaxed" about the ruling that MPs are required to fully disclose their expenses. I think if his spokespeople want to make that line stick, they'll have to produce an artist's impression of what a relaxed Gordon Brown actually looks like. I can't be the only one struggling to conjure up the image.

Friday, May 16, 2008

There is always someone out there who will eat his words

Has the world just turned upside down? Keith Mills now says that Norway is a guaranteed qualifier for the Eurovision final. The reason is this amazing second rehearsal -

Wow. Maybe that'll persuade one or two of you to vote for Maria in our poll after all. Having said that, I've just seen what Ani Lorak's going to be wearing on the night and it's, well, short...

Forget Esctoday's "Big" Poll - this is the one that counts!

A warm welcome to everyone who's dropped by to take part in our very own death-or-glory Eurovision MegaPoll. So OK, I give in, I'm obviously not going to convince many of you to vote for Maria Haukaas Storeng, but how about voting for anyone outside your own country? Even if it's only a very nearby country? I mean, what hope is there for the human race if not even lust can transcend national boundaries? What terrible future lies in store for our children and grandchildren if as a species we fail to realise...OK, I'll shut up now.

Breaking News : Chicago at risk of nuclear attack

If you're interested in witnessing a textbook example of just how paranoid some of our right-wing, gun-loving cousins across the pond can be, cast an eye over this surreal little debate I took part in yesterday at the Althouse blog with somebody called Revenant (it's towards the bottom of the page). He/she genuinely seems to believe that the only thing preventing the American people from being massacred by their own government is the widespread ownership of guns. It is simply a fact of human nature, apparently, that if a government enjoys a monopoly on the possession of weapons, it will eventually turn them on its own people. So if the government has guns, the people must have guns, and that's the contract that preserves life and liberty in the good ol' U.S. of A. The only slight flaw in this theory is that, the last time I checked, the US government also has a massive stockpile of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons up its sleeve, while individual American citizens most certainly do not. Evidently we should be standing by for a surprise American nuclear attack on downtown Chicago any day now.

And fortunately nobody picked me up on my claim that the murder rate in France is ten times lower than in the UK - I double-checked that later and I was completely wrong! I'm also not sure how I ended up being quite so effusive about the virtues of the European Union - the existence of the Common Fisheries Policy must have temporarily slipped my mind...

My issues with this year's Eurovision contestants - no. 4

Regína Ósk of Iceland

"This is my life"

Life, perhaps, but not quite as we as know it. How else do we explain why a woman now looks like this...

...when just two short years ago she looked rather more like this?

Now try and tell me that's the same person. You can't, can you? It seems to me there is only one satisfactory explanation - that, horrified by her 2006 look, she decided to use up one of her twelve regenerations. On last week's episode of Doctor Who, Catherine Tate posed the obvious question "what do you call a Time Lord who's a girl?" Answer : a caterwauling Icelandic Eurovision megastar, that's what.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Without repetition, hesitation or deviation...

There was a fab new late-night game show on BBC2 tonight, presented by Gordon Brewer. The concept is deceptively simple - contestants have to answer exactly the same question over and over again, but without uttering the words "yes" or "no", while always remembering to work the phrase "no blank cheques" into each reply.

Tonight's impressive winner by a large margin was Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm.

My issues with this year's Eurovision contestants - no. 3

Ani Lorak of Ukraine

"Since I've lived in your shade
Every step that I made
Brought me nothing but zero"

Nothing but zero? That's a helluva lot of zero. Fair dos, the girl's got my sympathy, but there's still no excuse for the display of petulance we see later on -

"Baby, don't call me baby"

Round our way, we'd call that rank hypocrisy, baby.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'll raise your 'no more than thirty'

I read the headline this morning - "Survey : women think Cameron is good in bed". How many women exactly, and how do they all know? Nick Clegg is going to be devastated.

Always listen to the ones you love

It must be obvious by now that I'm no fan of Gordon Brown, and I was certainly cheering Frank Field on during the 10p tax row. I have to say, however, that the tone of Field's latest pronouncement on the Prime Minister's long-term prospects was sanctimonious beyond belief. Any self-respecting Brownite (if that isn't a contradiction in terms) would be fully entitled to say in response, "I think Frank should speak to those he loves most, and those who love him, and heed their honest counsel as he reflects on whether he's let this childish personal grievance fester for just a little too long..."

My issues with this year's Eurovision contestants - no. 2

Ishtar of Belgium

"O julissi na jalini
O julissi na ditini
O bulo diti non slukati
Sestrone dina katsu

O julissi na ti buku
O julissi na katinu
Dvoranu mojani bidna
Marusi naja otcha tu"

Of course, if you're not a fluent Flemish speaker, it may not be immediately clear what my problem with these lyrics is. Indeed, from the way the Belgian audience are whooping in the clip, you'd be forgiven for thinking they're spontaneously responding to some ingeniously inspiring feel-good lyrics. So I've gone to the trouble of providing a full English translation below. It's important to note, however, that in one or two cases a particular word may not be translatable, because it has no meaning as such - ie. it's a nonsense word that does not actually exist in Flemish (or in any other language for that matter). Wherever this is the case, I have simply retained the original word in the text.

"O julissi na jalini
O julissi na ditini
O bulo diti non slukati
Sestrone dina katsu

O julissi na ti buku
O julissi na katinu
Dvoranu mojani bidna
Marusi naja otcha tu"

Are you starting to sense the issue here? The Dutch entry a couple of years ago implored us to realise "there is a way to understand without a language". Whatever that way is, I think we can safely say this isn't it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Labour is United

"No-one is saying Gordon Brown takes an identical position to Wendy Alexander," says Malcolm Chisholm in the Scotsman today. "That's what devolution is all about." What are you on about, Malcolm? Everyone knows their positions are identical. Gordon Brown does not want a referendum, and Wendy Alexander completely agrees with him. On the other hand, Wendy Alexander does want a referendum, and Gordon Brown completely agrees with her too. So now they agree with each other twice over. That's why Labour have emerged from last week more united than ever.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. Labour is United.

And if you're still not convinced, David Cairns is available for further interviews.

There's always someone out there who will care for you...

The rehearsals for the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest are now well under way in Belgrade, and judging by the accounts that have come out from the hall, it seems that Norway was the clear winner from the batch that had their turn on day one (Sunday). We can tell this not only from the people who actually said the Norwegian singer Maria's performance was good, but more particularly from the report of a certain Mr. Keith Mills, who had previously said that it was "clearly the worst song in the contest" and that Maria is a "charmless and robotic performer". Intriguingly, he conceded yesterday that it's not quite "as bad" as before, and then hurriedly changed the subject onto what a large bottom Maria has. Hmmm. I think I've seen this pattern before with Keith when it suddenly dawns on him that he's called it wrong. Norway could be onto something here...

Yet another twist...

The spin in all the Sunday papers this morning was that Gordon Brown had finally won his tug-of-war with Wendy Alexander, and forced her into a humiliating climbdown, removing an independence referendum from Labour's agenda. But then, Wendy appears on the Politics Show for the second week in a row, and basically restates her original position that she is fairly likely to allow the SNP's referendum bill to pass in 2010. You really couldn't make this up...

On the same programme, David Cairns tells us that he's not the sort of politician to pretend that everything is wonderful when it quite obviously isn't. Funny that, because he's done an astonishingly good impersonation of exactly that sort of politician up till now - not least in the run-up to last year's Holyrood election fiasco.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My issues with this year's Eurovision contestants - no. 1

Kalomira of Greece

"An open book, an open book, well I'm sorry I am not..."

Is it entirely healthy to be quite so bloody triumphant about not being an open book? I'm not a slightly ajar door but I don't feel the need to witter on about it endlessly. But the lassie's narcissism doesn't end there -

"Sometimes I'm acting like a lady
sometimes woman, sometimes baby"

Oooh, what an enigma. If it's all the same to you, love, I might forego all this "finding your secret combination" and "winning a destination in the centre of your heart" malarkey and just concentrate on having a chocolate hobnob instead. At least you know where you are with one of those.