This is why my parents and grandparents spoke so highly of King George VI…

It’s easy to take simple things in life for granted. Like food and warmth. Sleep is something you don’t realise is so precious until you can’t sleep – night after night. In late 2000 I couldn’t sleep for many nights and it really was sheer torture. I never take sleep for granted nowadays.

After this evening, I’ll never take for granted an ability which I am fortunate to have in spades. …The ability to speak fluently.

“The Kings Speech” is an awesomely powerful film. My parents and grandparents have spoken highly of King George VI. It wasn’t until saw this film that I fully appreciated why that was. It certainly demonstrated how precious is the power of speech. …And one could say about George VI – “Cometh the hour, cometh the man”.

The film is as good as people have said. I was sobbing uncontrollably at the end. And I am a Republican.

As well as perfect performances from Colin Firth and Helena Bonham-Carter, there are also great performances from Anthony Andrews as Baldwin and Timothy Spall as Churchill. Timothy Spall was made to play Churchill IMHO. He has the right eyes and, most of all, the right bottom lip.

"OVERWEIGHT POLICE WON'T BE HYPNOTISED" – sighs of relief all round in Hampstead and Highgate

As a visitor to Hampstead yesterday, this newsstand poster for the Hampstead and Highgate Express took me somewhat by surprise…Seeing it was a bit of a surreal experience really. Are overweight police normally hypnotised in Hampstead and Highgate?

It seems that, as a fleeting visitor, I was missing a bit of a back story. If I had seen the original story, which was presumably: “Overweight police will be hypnotised” it might have made a bit more sense.

After coming home, I found the explanatory original story in the Evening Standard here.

Katie Hopkins' deeply pernicious comment about employees' rights

If there’s one person about whom I could easily be provoked to make a Tweet which could get me charged by the Crown Prosecution Service, it is Katie Hopkins.

Putting my venom aside, I would simply pick her up on one comment on Question Time last night. She said, in terms, that we should get rid of “Choop”.

She meant “TUPE” which I have always heard referred to as “toopee”. But pronunciation aside, TUPE is or are the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations. It/They mean/s, broadly, that if an activity or business is moved from one owner to another, the empolyees in that business have their terms and conditions protected and their employment continued.

Admittedly, TUPE provides many lawyers with a sumptuous living. For every lawyer you can find who says “this isn’t covered by TUPE”, you’ll find another who says the opposite.

But basically what Katie Hopkins is suggesting,  by implication, is that if a business transfers ownership, the new owner can stop employing the employees of the old owner and employ who she or he likes. Or, that the new owner can downgrade the terms and conditions of the employees.

That, effectively, is what doing away with TUPE would do.

It would be a highly retrograde and pernicious step for employees’ rights in this country.

Putting aside all the other stuff Katie Hopkins said on Question Time last night, if we just concentrate on that one suggestion, it is clear that it is the product of a deeply unattractive and reactionary strand of thinking.

The extraordinary transformation of a cool kiddies TV presenter into a sensible sports reporter

When my daughter was smaller, I used to watch CBBC with her. One of our favourite programmes was Newsround and especially Gavin Ramjaun, or “Gavvie” as we used to call him. The geat thing about Gavin was that when he read the news, if you weren’t interested inwhat he was saying you could, instead, entertain yourself by looking at his hair and his T shirts. Here above is a photo of “Gavvie” in his CBBC days.

So we were a little gobsmacked that Gavin has now transformed himself (below) into a sports presenter for grown-ups on Daybreak. Hair all smoothed down and sensible crisply ironed shirts. It’s quite a metamorphosis.

The date of John Nettles' last lead performance as DCI Tom Barnaby on Midsomer Murders

The producer has previously explained that Midsomer Murders’ DCI Tom Barnaby will not die, but simply retire. The reason, he explained, is because there is such a vast (presumably lucrative) industry engaged in showing repeat cycles of Midsomer Murders at numerous times around the world on cable and terrestial TV. If Barnaby died, viewers would be completely confused when they see a repeat a few weeks later showing him alive and kicking.

A press release from the Midsomer producers says:

February 2nd will see the airing of DCI Tom Barnaby’s final case ‘Fit for Murder’ in which, as ever, nothing is as it seems behind the well trimmed hedges of the picturesque cottages in the idyllic English county of Midsomer.

This time a rejuvenating Spa break turns out to be anything but for Barnaby and his wife, as the country hotel soon becomes a murder scene. As DCI Barnaby investigates, he also has personal matters on his mind and his upcoming birthday leads him to question where his future lies.

There have been 2 endings filmed for this final episode however suitably it seems all is going to end well for Tom Barnaby and his wife Joyce as John Nettles joked “I wanted to die in noble fashion in the service of my country and be buried in Westminster Abbey. But Tom and his long-suffering wife Joyce will simply retire”

John Nettles will hand over the responsibility for solving the continuing murders in Midsomer to Neil Dudgeon who plays DCI John Barnaby, Tom’s cousin, who has already been introduced in a previous episode helping DCI John Barnaby on a previous case.

John Barnaby moves up to Midsomer to partner DI Ben Jones, played by established Midsomer Murders star Jason Hughes and although many viewers will be sad to see John Nettles leave his role John himself thinks Midsomer will be in good hands.

The sad case of Lord Taylor of Warwick

What a sad figure Lord Taylor of Warwick is!

Many of us remember the somewhat disgraceful behaviour of some members of the Conservative party in Cheltenham at the 1992 election. Taylor lost and our Nigel Jones won, amidst acrimony based on racist allegations. A friend summarised the election, perhaps unfairly, as “All the Liberal Democrats felt sorry for the Tory and voted for him, and all the Tories voted Liberal Democrat”. However, there is strong evidence to suggest that race played little part in the election and that the Liberal Democrats would have won anyway (Richard Holme had a near miss there in 1987 and we took nearby Bath on the same night).

Taylor then moved to the House of Lords and was a figure of integrity. It is therefore a very sad week to see him found guilty “of dishonestly claiming £11,277 in allowances”. The Guardian reports:

The barrister and sometime television presenter had falsely claimed travel and overnight subsistence by telling the Lords members’ expenses office that his main residence was in Oxford, when he had only one address in Ealing, west London.

…Taylor had never lived at, nor stayed at, the Oxford address inhabited by his half-nephew, Robert Taylor, who lived there with the property’s owner, Tristram Wyatt, a university academic. Neither were aware that Taylor had designated their home as his main residence, and Robert Taylor was “shocked” and “quite angry” when he learned of his uncle’s actions.

One appreciates that the House of Lords expenses/allowances rules have in the past been rather on the relaxed side, but that really is taking the Michael.