….You learn something new everyday

R.F.Delderfield was a great novelist who wrote “To serve them all our days” based loosely on the school I attended, West Buckland School, Devon, which Delderfield went to.

I noticed today, while watching a film about Kenneth Williams, that R.F.Delderfield wrote the first “Carry on” film, “Carry on Sargeant”.

You could have knocked me down with a feather….

Opening ceremony – box ticked

A quite extraordinary opening extravaganza last night. They managed to squeeze everything in there without erring into kitsch. Wacky, yes – kitsch – no.

It was good that the whole thing had a theatrical basis, rather than the military basis of Beijing.

The highlights for me were Mike Oldfield (I am old after all), Tim Berners Lee and Jacques Rogge. In his speech, the Olympic big wig said:

In a sense, the Olympic Games are coming home tonight. This great, sports-loving country is widely recognized as the birthplace of modern sport. It was here that the concepts of sportsmanship and fair play were first codified into clear rules and regulations. It was here that sport was included as an educational tool in the school curriculum.
The British approach to sport had a profound influence on Pierre de Coubertin, our founder, as he developed the framework for the modern Olympic Movement at the close of the 19th century. The values that inspired de Coubertin will come to life over the next 17 days as the world’s best athletes comepte in a spirit of friendship, respect and fair play.

I thought it was a touching, powerful tribute to the UK, which acted as a superb antidote to the pomposity of Seb Coe.

Update: I should add that the top breataking moment of the ceremony was when Thomas Heatherwick’s cauldron came together. It really was/is an inspired work of genius.

My new camera finally arrives

After two months choosing from the vast and baffling array of cameras available, plus another month spent choosing a supplier (tip: don’t get a camera from anyone with their stock outside the UK unless you want to finish the process feeling as though you have been dragged through a hedge backwards), the big day arrived today and I excitedly took possession of a Black (had to be black – I can’t be dealing with silver) camera. – Thanks to my beloved for her support and guidance.

Romney reaches for the dog whistle

From Political Wire:

Romney Adviser Says Obama Doesn’t Appreciate Anglo-Saxon Heritage

Just before Mitt Romney arrives in London for his international trip, a Romney adviser told the Daily Telegraph that President Obama has not been good friend to Britain because he doesn’t “fully appreciate” America’s “Anglo-Saxon heritage.”

The adviser said Romney would be different: “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special. The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.

From the Telegraph:

As the Republican presidential challenger accused Barack Obama of appeasing America’s enemies in his first foreign policy speech of the US general election campaign, advisers told The Daily Telegraph that he would abandon Mr Obama’s “Left-wing” coolness towards London.

In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.

“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.

The remarks ignore the background of both Obama’s mother and father.

His father came from Kenya, a British colony for the firat 27 years of his life.

The disgraceful practice of people talking to camera while driving

What really makes me angry is when TV programmes film people talking to camera when they are driving. OK, they didn’t have an accident. But it really is grossly irresponsible to give the impression that you should concentrate on more than just driving when you are driving.

Talking into a camera, for a programme that will be broadcast to millions, requires focus. To project the supposition that it is acceptable to do that while driving is disgraceful.

On the BBC documentary on Tom Daley this evening, they not only showed him talking to camera while driving, but he had not even passed his test at the time!

Disgraceful! Keep TV cameras out of cars, is what I say.

By the way, BBC guidelines say:

A Presenter talking to camera whilst driving should be avoided if possible, as it reduces their ability to concentrate on hazards associated with the driving itself. This risk can be reduced by careful selection of the road, location and the time of day intended (regarding other traffic). In any case, the presenter should not look at camera any longer than the occasional glances which are made to check mirror or instruments. 

Quote of the week – Andrew Rawnsley on the Olympics

From Andrew Rawnsley on London in the run-up to the Olympics:

It is like stepping into a dystopian future in which Britain is run by a military junta headed by Ronald McDonald.

And here’s some bonus quotes from the excellent “olympiphobic” article:

Limousines swooshing along Soviet-style “Zil” lanes will whisk the Olympic nomenklatura across the city through traffic lights phased to green while working Londoners fume.

For all the blunders during the build-up, I have a hunch that the actual event will be largely successful. I hope so. Even an Olympiphobe doesn’t want to give to the French the satisfaction of being able to crow that they would have done it so much better.

Cloud cuckoo land….

…is where people tweet things like this:

and this:

Another triumph for Market Harborough's famous son

Well, that got Lord Bonkers reading anyway…

Eyelevel is being used as the end theme music for Alan Partidge’s “Mid Morning Matters” on Sky One. That’s Eye Level by the Simon Park Orchestra, and Simon Park was born in Market Harborough, by way of explanation for the title above.

I’m really enjoying the Alan Partridge programmes on Sky One. Along with Billy Connolly and Monty Python, Alan Partridge is “me” or my sense of humour.

Here’s a snippet of the Partridge and that beautiful tune “Eye Level” (both “Top of the Pops” and studio versions):

Why House of Lords reform will probably not happen in this parliament

David Cameron is a weak leader. He won’t deliver enough of his rebels. “Pathetic” – to use one of his favourite words.

Labour won’t help because they want the reform to fail so Lib Dems vote against the boundary changes, which would lose them seats.

So the only hope is if David Cameron shows some backbone, which, at the moment, I don’t see happening any time soon.

Andrew Rawnsley has a typically enlightening article on the subject today, including this fascinating bit:

From my conversations with very senior Lib Dems I have absolutely no doubt of this: if Lords reform does not progress in September, the Lib Dems will respond by killing the redrawing of constituency boundaries which are estimated to be worth an extra dozen to 20 seats to the Tories at the next general election. Moreover, they will veto the boundary changes as an explicit act of payback for Tory sabotage of Lords reform. It won’t be a case of Nick Clegg quietly licensing his backbenchers and peers to work with Labour to vote down the boundary changes. All Lib Dems, ministers included, will vote against.