The sensitive festive subject of the TV set-up….

Some rights reserved by DG JonesThe last thing one wants to do with elderly, much loved relatives is to start a “debate” over the TV remote controls and settings etc. It’s bad enough as it is, with all the choice, recording settings etc.

But I couldn’t help noticing that my parents (who are both mercifully very well sighted) had “audio description” set up on their telly. I ventured to point this out. Firstly, it took what seemed like an age to explain what “audio description” is.

After this long explanation, my mother exclaimed:

Oh, you mean that nice man who comes on and explains everything to us!

Yes. That’s right. You’re sitting watching and he says things like:

James is now standing at the kitchen bench and chopping mushrooms.

I decided that taking things a further step and suggesting that they turn off “audio description” was probably a move too far.

A friendly fifteen year-old quietly did the deed when no one was looking…. I suspect my parents will miss the nice man who comes on and explains everything though…..

At the "Pub with no beer"

Lees HotelSlim Dusty got to Number 3 in the UK charts in 1959 with “A Pub with no beer”. It was also an international hit. You can hear it on YouTube below.

When we visited Queensland last summer, we drove from Cape Tribulation to Airlie Beach. It took two days, but the trip was enlivened by views of sugar cane fields. And more sugar cane fields. And the odd sugar cane refinery and railway. And more sugar cane fields.

When we planned the trip we decided to break it halfway. A town called Ingham presented itself and we booked a hotel there for the night. It seemed an unremarkable town.

However, imagine my glee when I discovered that Ingham is “home to the original pub with no beer”. I had my photo (right) taken outside said aleless hostelry before we left.

There are two nuances. I was photographed at the Lees Hotel, which is on the site of the “original pub with no beer” – the Day Dawn hotel. Secondly, the Taylor’s Arm hotel in New South Wales also lays claim to being the “pub with no beer”.

The song has a complex history. Suffice it to say, it originated as a poem by Dan Sheahan, who wrote it after, desperate to quench his thirst on a hot day, he was forced to drink wine at the Day Dawn Hotel in Ingham, Queensland. The full story of the song is here.

The obvious answer to US killing sprees: More guns

The Blaze reports:

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) on Sunday said he wished the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary had been armed so she could have protected the school when a gunman burst in and started spraying bullets.

“I wish to God she had had an M4 in her office locked up so when she heard gunfire she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, when she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids,” Gohmert said on “Fox News Sunday.”

HuffPo reports:

In the wake of last week’s horrifying tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Oregon state Rep. Dennis Richardson, a Central Point Republican, sent out an email to three local superintendents saying that teachers should be allowed to carry guns on campus, and that armed teachers could have prevented the carnage in Connecticut.

Gawker obtained the email from a source on Monday and reprinted it in its entirety, excerpted here:

If I had been a teacher or the principal at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and if the school district did not preclude me from having access to a firearm, either by concealed carry or locked in my desk, most of the murdered children would still be alive, and the gunman would still be dead, and not by suicide.

[O]ur children’s safety depends on having a number of well-trained school employees on every campus who are prepared to defend our children and save their lives?

Yes. Just what is needed. An arms race. Fantastic.

How Jimmy Savile used a banana to evade questions about his personal life

It is worth watching this YouTube video. It is a programme called “Is this your life?” made by Open Media for Channel 4 in 1995. In it, Andrew Neil quizzes Jimmy Savile on a whole range of topics. In hindsight, it is a remarkable display of the evasion techniques that Savile used to avoid questions about his private life. At a key point in the questioning about his relationship with women, Savile suddenly produces a banana and eats it, finishing by holding the remains in his mouth. Andrew Neil is no slouch when it comes to interviewing. He makes an excellent job of trying to pin down Savile. But he seems a little off-beam at one point (again, with hindsight). The insinuation of his questioning is, in one respect, that Savile had relationships with men and used his allusions to relationships with women as a smokescreen.

Astonishing revelations about Andrew Mitchell bicycle incident

License Some rights reserved by DFID - UK Department for International DevelopmentChannel 4 News/Dispatches/Michael Crick revealed some astonishing facts concerning the Andrew Mitchell cycle incident, now known as “Plebgate”.

You can read a summary of the revelations on Channel 4’s website here.

It is reasonably fair to say that the whole affair potentially appears to have been a complete “stitch-up” of Andrew Mitchell.

No doubt the wheels of justice will turn and finally bring the truth well out into the open.

In the meantime, I offer two observations.

First, one would hope that a post-Leveson environment will put paid to this sort of travesty happening in Britain.

Second, in the middle of the furore about this incident in September, a friend of mine from Liverpool offered the observation that it is often sensible not to completely trust the police. That may turn out to be somewhat prescient.

Don't give to the homeless, call the hotline – are you serious?

Whenever I have money I give to people begging in the streets or even not begging (some fellows in Newbury just sit on the side of the street with a blanket over their bodies).

The Independent reported this week:

Giving money or food to a homeless person won’t do them any good, the housing minister has said, as welfare charities launch a “homelessness hotline” billed by the Government as an alternative to hand-outs.

StreetLink is a new national helpline for members of the public concerned about a rough sleeper in their area. Backed by 500 homelessness charities, operators will pass on information about a homeless person’s location and circumstances to support services in their area, which will then offer them targeted help.

Imagine the scene. This Tuesday – one of the coldest nights of the week. I encounter four men in Newbury’s main streets who were standing out in the cold.

Would phoning a hotline do any good in that situation? “Hello? Homeless Hotline? I have just seen four men standing in the street in Newbury.” What the hell are they going to do about it? Send a swot team around at 90 mph in a van to take them away to a luxury hotel?

Anyway, I have reported one of the men, who I had a chat with (and therefore had sufficient info on), to Streetlink’s website.