Nazareth – still going strong

I was flicking through YouTube the other day and was pleasantly surprised to see several recent live videos of the Scottish rock group Nazareth. They had a few hits in the early seventies but it is marvellous that they are still going strong with two of their original line-up including lead singer Dan McCafferty. My favourite from them is “Shanghai’d in Shanghai”. The original record version is below together with a live version from Norway in 2006.

Nazareth are currently touring over the next few months in Austria, Germany, Norway and Canada.

Fowey….Polruan – It's all the same when you're sat in London

I’ve just sent an email to the Guardian’s Readers’ Editor, for the Corrections and Clarifications column. I’ll let the email speak for itself:

Dear Reader’s Editor

Guardian main supplement Saturday 29th May 2010 Page 27
Simon Hoggart’s week – picture at bottom of column 1

This photo is captioned as “Fowey, Cornwall”. In fact, it is a photograph of Polruan, Cornwall.

With best wishes
Paul Walter

Why do highly intelligent people do such stupid things?

Over the years, the main things I have learnt about David Laws is that he is extremely rich and extremely intelligent. A double first in economics from Cambridge, a VP at JP Morgan at 22 and multi-millionaire at 28. But he goes and does something which is mind-blowingly stupid. If he felt so strongly that he didn’t want to reveal his sexuality, he could have paid his own rent without claiming it. So why didn’t he? Why did he, since 2006, play with fire, relying on a finely nuanced interpretation of the rules which would have taken an extremely expensive barrister to argue successfully?…And that fire turned into an almighty conflagration waiting to burst into flames when he took over the Treasury secretary role. Why did he not do anything about it earlier? It is utterly baffling.

BBC Parliament yesterday repeated Osborne and Laws’ statements when they announcement the £6 billion cuts recently. There was Laws, at tremendous length, describing very precisely what cuts he would demand on, for example, things like rail fares for public servants.

It was then that I realised, with shattering clarity, that Laws had done the right thing, with great dignity, in standing down right away. He could not have gone on cutting jobs and expenditure while having this was hanging over him. It’s tremendously sad and I feel great sympathy for Laws and his friend during this terrible time. It’s a great loss for the country, as David Laws was almost uniquely to drag us out of the deficit in a humane way.

But, one has to say, all the Oxbridge double firsts in the world don’t seem to stop people doing the most unbelievably mind-numbingly stupid things.

And yes, I have changed my tune from yesterday. So there.

And yes, the answer to the question in the title above is that we all do stupid things sometimes, myself definitely included. Unfortunately all the degrees, money and position in the world don’t innoculate us humble humans from stupidity.

Laws resigns – what a waste!

When we finally hear what the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner has to say on the David Laws’ case we’ll finally know the truth of the episode.

I feel intensely sorry for David Laws and his friend. It seems that a desire to keep their private life private may – may – have caused a misjudgment by Laws.

I suspect his resignation was inevitable in the end. I am sure Laws will bounce back.

What is a great shame is that David Laws was almost uniquely placed to pull the UK out of its financial deficit in a humane way.

Don't be silly! Of course, David Laws should NOT resign. #Isupportlaws

Of course, David Laws shouldn’t resign and/or shouldn’t be sacked. This is a most depressing furore and I wager that the Comissioner will not raise any eyebrows over this technicality of interpretation of “treat each other as spouses”. (Their relationship was not known to family or friends, they had separate bank accounts and social lives). Compare Laws’ episode with the thumping great flipping of Labour ministers such as Hoon. There was no question of  Hoon being asked to resign so why the hell should Laws resign over a finely nuanced semantics issue, from which he made no personal gain?

If anyone wants to know the real motive behind all this, just have a look at the front page of the Telegraph today – i.e the hard copy version. A “secret lover” headline with photos of Laws and his friend. It’s disgusting.

A searingly personal issue

I had hoped that the election had drawn a line under Telegraph expense stories. I’m happy to wait for the verdict of the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner on David Laws. The matter seems to boil down to interpretation of the rules, the definition of partner and regarding onesleves as living like spouses or not. David Laws’ explanation that he and his friend had a relationship unknown to friends and family, and that they have had separate bank accounts and social lives, seems entirely plausible.

But I feel as though we are finding out more than we ought to know. I feel great sympathy for David Laws and his friend, having had this thrust upon them. David Laws is obviously a very serious and intensely private person. I can quite understand why he and his friend wanted to keep their private life private.

Quite frankly, I am sick of these expenses stories. They come out and then ten thousand people (yes – including me!) state a view based on the blinking Telegraph report. Then everyone moves on to other stories and the verdict of the Parliamentary Commissioner comes out, one way or the other.

I am mightily fed up with the whole thing, particularly if it has now got to the stage of effectively and very publicly “outing” two decent people.

For deeper thoughts on this matter, see Sara Bedford. I agree with everything she says.

Moisty eyed congratulations to Floella, Meral and Lee

I’m quite moisty eyed this morning. It’s wonderful to see Floella Benjamin being made a peer. I saw her once at a conference discussion on adult education and she was very impressive in both her commitment to and knowledge of the subject. And of course, I seem to remember watching her with my (then) two year old as she (Floella) did an impression of a steam train on the telly.

Also, it is enormously great to see Meral Ece being made a peer. Her blog has provided a very fair commentary on many matters, especially those in relation to equality.  

And if I might go local for my third bit of mosity eyes, many, many congratulations to Lee Dillon on being made the youngest ever mayor of Thatcham. I have known Lee since he was a 17 year old volunteer LYDS-type deliverer. He has a easy-going and affable character. He’ll make a superb mayor of Thatcham.