David Walter R.I.P.

There have been some very fulsome tributes to David Walter here, here and here (and no doubt elsewhere). I would not pretend to have known the man well enough to pay tribute to him in any qualitative form. But I would just say that I approached him at a Lib Dem conference while he was still an ITN journalist, to excitedly tell him that I shared a surname with him. It’s not often we Walters meet another Walter without the “s” which is, more often than not, appended to the end of our surname (it happens to other surnames which are, or sound like, forenames also, apparently. Ask anyone called “Roger” or “Rodger”).I didn’t have time to enquire as to whether he was one of the Bradworthy Walters (like me) or the, much more elevated, Bearwood Walters.

He was very charming about my approach, but, I must admit, he looked ever-so-slightly bemused.

Anyway, a great liberal, a great journalist and a man who very valiantly tried to hold the seat which has gone in and out of the Liberal/Lib Dem party – namely West Devon/Torridge. After a famous by-election win celebrated in august circles of the party (there is apparently a recently restored stained glass window depicting it in St Asquith’s), it was once held by the none other than Mark Bonham-Carter, grandson of Asquith.

Dick Cheney's heart transplant which isn't a heart transplant

For those of us who remember Dr Christian Barnard and his pioneering heart transplant surgery, heart transplant is a big deal. It is for others, no doubt.

As a fellow human being, with a family, I wish Dick Cheney all the best for a successful recovery from his “heart transplant”. Strictly speaking, he hasn’t actually had a heart transplant. He’s had the installation of an Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) powered by batteries. It’s often described as a “bridge to heart transplant”.

Rachel Maddow on MSNBC explains with the help of an expert below.

There have been lots of jokes about all this on Twitter. Perhaps they can be summed up by the number one Twitter Cheney “heart transplant” joke:

Don’t you need to have a heart in the first place to have a heart transplant?

[Drum roll – Cymbal}

In praise of Earl Scruggs R.I.P.

Earl Scruggs. “Who he?” comes the shouted communual response from the Liberal Burblings reader, as well as “Ed”.

Well, he was quite a man. A misucian, but particularly a banjo player. – Ask Billy Connolly, banjo player extraordinaire.

I was once forced to present a Country Music show or four on Radio 210 in Reading. I struggled. Country Music just isn’t me – even though I do understand the crossplay between it and rock/pop music. But Earl Scruggs was an oasis. “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” can be enjoyed by most people. A sheer piece of beauty.

Here he is with it – Foggy Mountain Breakdown – at the Camp Springs Bluegrass Festival in 1971.

Innovative BBC drama on gang murder

I recommend watching BBC3’s My Murder here on iPlayer. It’s a really accessible and moving drama telling the true story of 16 year-old Shakilus Townsend, who was killed in a “honey trap” gang murder in 2008.

Mixing real CCTV footage and 999 recordings with acted scenes, it tells the tale from the point of view of the victim, Shakilus. For example, at the end, he describes, in chilling detail, the injuries he received. You then see scenes from his funeral, and his (actual) mother speaking tearfully of her lost son. You then see images of the gang who were put away for long stretches in jail for “joint enterprise” murder.

I’ve been thinking deeply about the utter senselessness of knife crime recently, spurred by a local murder. I have to say “Well done BBC” for this superb modern drama which eloquently and powerfully portrays the shameful stupidity of knife crime.

Is Francis Maude competing for the "Prat of the Month" award?

First, came his car crash Today interview, when he tried to defend the indefensible – that Cameron entertaining donors in premises owned by the taxpayer was a private matter.

Then, today the idiot was telling drivers to fill up a “jerry can” with fuel to combat a possible strike. As the words left his mouth, he sounded like a 42 carat plonker, even before you thought about what he was saying. Explosions? Fires? That sort of thing. And is enough fuel for 150 miles of travel (the legal storage limit) really going to help defeat a strike at least seven days away?

Also in defence of Tim Farron

I’m in a minority of two with Stephen Tall.

Need Healing? God can heal today! Do you suffer from Back Pain, Arthritis, MS, Addiction … Ulcers, Depression, Allergies, Fibromyalgia, Asthma, Paralysis, Crippling Disease, Phobias, Sleeping disorders or any other sickness?
“We’d love to pray for your healing right now!
“We’re Christian from churches in Bath and we pray in the name of Jesus. We believe that God loves you and can heal you from any sickness.

For a party founded (largely) by non-conformist Christians, there is a remarkably virulent anti-Christian tendency within the Lib Dems. Just mention the word “Christian” and they’re off on one. Mention an Archbishop and it’s Rantomania Day.

But still, it keeps their blood moving. – All good for the circulation, in moderation.

Tim Farron is perfectly entitled to sign up to protest at an Advertising Standards Authority ruling. It’s not surprising that he did, given that he is a faithful Christian – as was, by the way, our last President but one Simon Hughes.

You can see the “offending” advert above and it and associated material here.

As one of my favourite French and Saunders sketches goes:


Just take out the words “God can heal today” and I think the leaflet (aside from the website) would have been acceptable to the ASA anyway.

Personally I don’t agree with such an advert. Quietly praying for people is much better than going around advertising it. But it’s a free country. The Healing on the Streets group were within their rights to attempt the advertising. The ASA were within their rights to adjudicate on it. The MPs were within their rights to write a letter to the ASA. Various bloggers were within their rights to blow their tops at Tim Farron. And I am within my rights to write this. (Do you see a pattern emerging?)

But what a waste of good blood pressure all round…