Sunday, January 28, 2007

Natural justice.........

Bollywood's Cinderella goes to the Ball in the end.

Congratulations Shilpa...........

So close..........

Sorry to see my preferred contestant out of the house but third isn't so bad.

Dirk Benedict rocks !

Farewell Ian

Nice chap but too nice to win. Too much fence sitting earlier on.....

Farewell Ian

Nice chap but too nice to win. Too much fence sitting earlier on.....

Celebrity Big Brother- final evening

The last of the "baddies" have gone with Danielle and Jack being evicted.

Still backing Dirk although Shilpa still seems the leader. Any of the four will be acceptable winners although Ian is just a bit too "nice" for his own good.

All will be clear shortly.

Go Dirk !

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


The first proper covering of snow in about 3 years came to London today. This was the scene in suburban London this morning.

It had all melted by evening but predictably lead to chaos on the trains......................
Back with tales of badly behaving train passengers soon..

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Back to school

In my attempt to break my addiction to a certain programme over the last couple of weeks I will try and change the subject. I feel it has sapped any creative ability I ever had. I am currently only capable of writing about media and celebrity trivia. They should put a health warning on such programmes !

Anyway, to try and stay slightly ahead culturally of a certain lady from Bermondsey, I have started taking an evening class to study Russian.

Russian is Mrs. Donatella's mother tongue so I have some incentive as well as some exposure to the language.

The evening class is relatively serious being taught by a proper Russian language school.

I therefore had to be "assessed" as to ability before I started, as I claimed some prior knowledge. I was brought down to earth shortly by being told I should go in the beginners class as I had no knowledge of tenses. Not even the "false beginners" class I was aiming for !

Anyway, I am in week 2 as a beginner. This is my first organised study for around 6 years since I qualified as an accountant. Those exams were dull and boring and as a result a struggle to pass. I had come to the conclusion I was unsuited or incapable of studying again. However studying a language so far seems fun. Russian is hard but it is good to be with a group of like-minded people doing something apart from accountancy and auditing.

It feels like being back at school with a teacher and breaks in the middle of the session and I quite like it.

I don't think there is any danger of me writing a Russian blog but some progress is being made.


Monday, January 22, 2007

I know nothing......

Big Head, little brain- Channel 4 Chief Executive Andy Duncan refused to comment at the height of "Jadegate".
Meanwhile back in the house.................
the more Dirk suffers from bullying by the remnants of Jade's gang, the higher his chances. It's all over on Sunday 28th January and as long as either Dirk, Shilpa, Jermaine or at a pinch Ian win, I will not be disappointed.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thank goodness that's over..........

That was exhausting just watching.

The level of manipulation, cover-up and deceit by Channel 4 leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

I don't intend to write much more on the subject of CBB apart from to applaud anyone in there I feel deserves applause.

For anyone who wants better and more comprehensive CBB blog coverage, the best I've found is the Times blogs.

See link

Back with comments on real life rather than "reality TV" in the near future.

However it is interesting that when writing on as something as generally vapid as CBB, I get far more readers than normal ?!

The Future Prime Minister says vote Shilpa

Or so, the London papers are reporting this evening. Gordon Brown is said to be a backer of Shilpa while visiting a Bollywood Studio on his visit to India.

I think he actually means vote Jade as you have to vote for the person you want to be evicted !

"Normal" non-Celebrity Big Brother posts to resume shortly.............

The dangers of victor's justice

Barring a celebrity earthquake of unforeseen proportions, Jade Goody will be evicted from the Big Brother House this evening. This will be the second eviction in her life, two more than most people ever experience.

The media/celebrity/political storm she and her side-kicks have generated this week is quite remarkable. Maybe it speaks of the shallowness of the media agenda and of those (myself included) who follow it.

That Jade's behaviour has been a national embarrassment and her treatment of Shilpa Shetty, truly unpleasant seems almost universally agreed. The debate of "is she or isn't she" racist is less clear cut and no view seems likely to predominate.

However Jade has become the focus for all those disappointed with Britain's international profile, all those despairing of yob culture, of "chavism", of ignorance and of the breakdown in previously certain social orders. Jade is also the focus of many who are against racism. To be such a focus cannot be pleasant.

Jade the hater, has become Jade the hated. Former Tory MP, Edwina Currie last night referred to Jade and her two henchwomen as "those three slags". (people in glass houses, Edwina ?) This was not on a celebrity programme but on the usually more sombre "Question Time" on BBC1. Jade has become fair game for anyone.

If, as is expected, she is evicted tonight there is unlikely to be any eviction crowd allowed to be present. "Media sources" imply she will be kept indoors, given a short interview by Davinia McCall and then taken to a "safe house". This sounds more like the treatment of Suffolk Strangler suspects before Christmas, than appropriate for the Big Brother dimwit. One almost wouldn't be surprised if her agent was asked to collect her belongings before a 6am hanging tomorrow morning.

Things seem to be a bit out of perspective. However I don't think the damage to Jade will be quite as lasting as the media makes out. Sections of the media are exhibiting a crude form of victor's justice before the story is even over.

Maybe some of us need reminding this is only a game.........

Time is a great healer and I doubt the three will be scarred for life by the brief storm they will experience on leaving the house. They are all young enough to have plenty of time to work through this and recover careers etc.

True, it will be a tough time for them but I don't think they should be shielded from the very real feelings and upset they have caused. They may even learn something as a result.

While the Edwina Curries of this world together with some in the media are stoking the fires a little too gleefully, I don't think the same can be said for the public at large.

We are intelligent enough to realise Jade and the coven are not monsters. However we are right to be embarrassed by their ignorance and sincere in the belief that the 3 should be made aware of how their behaviour is perceived by a substantial number of people in this country. If loosing contracts and some income is an inevitable consequence of that, so be it.

None of the 3 will have their lives ruined in the way some are alluding too. However if a pause in their careers gives them and us a pause for thought on the issues raised, we will all be the better for it.

In meantime, end the embarrassment of all concerned and get Jade out of there..............

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The battle of the oxo cubes.........

Here Jade and Shilpa do battle over chicken stock cubes. It's pretty clear who is the aggressor though. Enough said. Goodbye Jade..........

CCB round up: Dirk's Identity Crisis, Jade calls Shilpa a Poppadom

Dirk believes the younger housemates think he is George Peppard. Apparently they said he is the "white haired guy with a cigar from the A-team".
"Yeah, they think I'm the white-haired guy. The dead guy- that's right. Whatever!".

"Face" is not impressed !

Meanwhile the "non-racist Jade" called Shilpa, "Shilpa Poppadom". More work for Comical Ali I think !

High brow this certainly isn't.

Here's hoping that it is near the end of Jade's time on TV..............................

Channel 4 appoints new spokesman to defend Big Brother "Jadegate"

"Jade is a delightful English girl who is certain to win this Celebrity Big Brother"

Channel 4 Spokesman- C. Ali

Jade Goody- a liability

1.58pm- the Sun newspaper is reporting that Carphone Warehouse is withdrawing its £3 million sponsorship of Big Brother in response to the "Jadegate" events.

No doubt this is about the only language the producers Endemol and Channel 4 will understand- it will hit them where it hurts- in the bank account.........................,,2007030016,00.html

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bring on Mr. T !

One solution to the low morale in the Big Brother House could be to stage an A-team reunion.

The A-team still has a strong following in the UK so Mr. T and Dwight Schultz (aka BA and Murdoch) turning up would be popular and bring in the viewers.

Maybe Shilpa's Mother brought to the party also and the tables could really be turned on the dreadful 3 !

The end of Goody in sight ?

Today was an example of how the media can create a storm out of something very trivial. It was an example of how deeper issues can be explored by using something mundane and how stories take on a life of their own.

A couple of days after the bullying of Shilpa Shetty by 3 of her Big Brother House mates (Jade, Danielle and Jo) reached an unacceptable level virtually every British paper and news progamme has given it coverage. This is an extrordinary level of publicity for a "game" between a group of celebrities many of whom have seen better days or are not so well known.

However once the race factor had been introduced it became clear that Jade Goody's celebrity career may die in the same place that it was born- the Big Brother House. Major corporate sponsors like Carphone Warehouse muttered about withdrawing sponsorship understandably nervous about their brand becoming associated with an ignorant band of bigots. They could cope with ignorance but when racial bigotry appeared to be involved the corporates got nervous.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, even commented in the House of Commons although he did not attempt to gain popularity by pretending to watch Celebrity Big Brother. That might have happened 10 years ago, but now he simply condemned the situation involving Jade's gang that was described to him.

Big Brother went global and the London Evening Standard hoardings proclaimed "India erupts against Big Brother". The victim-heroine of this saga is one of India's daughters so the incident caused embarrassment for supposed future-PM, Gordon Brown as he visited India.

The Indian foreign minister spoke of an "appropriate response" to the abuse of Shilpa ? Surely not a war over Big Brother ?!!

Shilpa's Mother was even interviewed on Sky News to speak of her pride in her daughter's dignity. All in all, a steam in a media tea cup but a storm that speaks of race, of class, of culture and of how Britain as a nation treats outsiders.

In the Big Brother House, Germaine Jackson, Dirk Benedict together with Shilpa form the "foreign group" of two Americans and an Indian. They seem bermused by the 3 unpleasant examples of the British female they are forced to live with.

Tonight some relief may be in sight. It appears Jade Goody together with Shilpa have been nominated for eviction. Surely there will be some common sense and we can all say goodbye to Miss. Goody on Friday ?

Beauty or the Beast ? The people will decide....................

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Big Brother, a Bollywood Cinderella and the Three Witches of Elstree*

Never mind Iraq, the London papers tonight have bigger fish to fry !
(* Elstree in Hertfordshire is the location of the Celebrity BB studios)

As is often the way, I seem to be watching a programme or TV series as it approaches the end of its natural life.

I am beginning to wonder if my watching of Celebrity Big Brother for the first time is coinciding with its death knell.

First three of the most interesting contestants walked out at various points.

Now London (and maybe the country) seems gripped (well at least mildly !) by discussing whether three of the remaining contestants are guilty of racism. With such associations it is unclear if Channel 4 would dare run the show again.

The three "accused" are:

Jade Goody- pig-like manufactured celebrity from an earlier Big Brother with an IQ equal to a boiled cabbage

Danielle Lloyd- air head Miss. Great Britain. While slightly better looking than Miss. Goody, I cannot see how she managed to win the title- unless of course she influenced the judges. As a nation we do possess a few slightly more appealling women than Miss. Lloyd

Jo O'meara- has-been singer from folded teen-band S-Club 7. Otherwise apparently a reasonable personality she has been duped into a dubious alliance with the first two.




Together, this trio has formed a gang- the Witches of Elstree. Their unifying purpose seems to be bullying and insulting Bollywood superstar actress, Shilpa Shetty. She has become the heroine of this story. A heroism that is born out of adversity.

The "witches" and their associates have variously called her "a dog", ignorantly said Indian people eat with their hands and are thin due to eating undercooked chicken (Shilpa was responsible for cooking at the time) and generally ganged up and treated her with unpleasantness.

Goody's Mother, when she herself was in the house, referred to Shilpa dismissively as "the Indian" and claimed to be unable to pronounce her name (a la Marjorie from Fat Fighters in Little Britain).

Recently I was writing about a Ballerina who faced the sack over her membership of an extreme political party. Ironically, she had not chosen to express any views publicly but had been "outed" by a Guardian investigation.

Here, in contrast, is a broadcaster, partially supported by public funds broadcasting the unplesant views of 3 ignorant women night after night. Whether they are racist or not is a matter for debate but in my opinion they have come pretty close on ocassion. Jade Goody and her mother are the worst examples as all their recently found millions are based on TV publicity. Goody is gaining further publicity and probably money on the back of her unpleasantness. It is good to hear that an anti-bullying charity today dropped Goody as its representative. Here Channel 4 is not choosing to punish Goody, Lloyd and O'meara for their unpleasantness and vitriole so in a way they are tacitly condoning their behaviour.

It exposes the hypocricies and contradictions in the media, as the unpleasantness of the witches after all makes good entertainment for some.

Of course Shilpa's treatment is not unique. Good looking foreign women can easily become targets for the more everyday looking domestic population. Even in the humdrum world of an accountancy office I witnessed normally pleasant English women turn against a half-Nigerian trainee. Her main "crime" appeared to be that she had done some modelling before turning to the world of accountancy. Some women seem to be threatened by superior competitors in a way men are generally unpeturbed by "finer specimens" . There is an element of that with Goody, Lloyd and O'meara. As a top actress in a land of a billion people there is no real doubt that in terms of achievement Shilpa is superior to the three witches.

In terms of racism I am less clear. The three witches are acting in a completely ignorant way and throwing at Shilpa Shetty anything they can find. Amongst what comes to hand race and culture are easy targets. I doubt however that these witches are calculating with their racism.

Shilpa in contrast is generally coping with dignity and stoicism. The remaining contestants including Dirk and Jermaine can only watch and wonder !

Of course its all a storm in a teacup or a storm in a Big Brother House. This has no real relevance but it is a mirror to a less pleasant aspect of our nation that reacts with ignorance against that which is perceived as being foreign and superior. Foreign and inferior can easily be accepted but when foreigness is put together with superiority, our three witches from Elstree demonstrate the unpleasantness that can come out.

Shilpa Shetty. The dignified heroine of this tale.

No doubt Bollywood's Cinderalla will go to the Ball.

(Announcement in Strong Geordie accent "To complain about Celebrity Big Brother go to

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Free speech, even for ballerinas ?

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"
Would Voltaire allow Simone Clarke to carry on dancing ?
There is controversey in London at the moment over a ballerina. Her name is Simone Clarke. She is 36 years old and principal dancer with the English National Ballet.

Outside of her work, she also happens to be a member of the British National Party (BNP). This is essentially an anti-immigration party that has historically been associated with skinheads and some violence but now under its Cambridge-educated leader, Nick Griffin, is trying to appear to espouse a more sophisticated agenda towards immigration than simply "send them back on a boat".
Many members of London's liberal establishment feel that Simone Clarke should loose her job. Her membership of the BNP, they argue, is incompatible with working at a publicly funded arts body. Her very membership is helping the BNP to gain respectability.
I would disagree with this and I feel Voltaire would too. Mere political views, even if unpalatable, cannot be grounds for sacking someone in a country that claims to value free speech. Of course, free speech has been shown to have its limits in recent years. Those who incite violence or terrorism whether nationalists, extreme muslims or others can now be prosecuted.

However membership of a political party that challenges multiculturism and immigration seems in a different league. Simon Clarke has committed no offence. The fact that she has a child with her her Cuban-Chinese boyfriend, Yat Sen-Chang also suggests it is naive to see her as old style far-right racist.

She simply expresses an opinion. As it is not possible to "tolerate" views you agree with but by definition you can only "tolerate" something you dislike or disagree with, I feel she should be accorded some toleration.

Simone should be allowed to speak freely and dance freely. To do otherwise will not only give the lie to the fact that Britain allows free speech but also make a martyr of her and ultimately boost the BNP.
We should trust that the truth will prevail in any climate of free speech and democracy. Otherwise, we hint that we actually lack faith in the values we claim to support and these values cannot survive unless we silence or sideline any real dissent.
So as Voltaire once wrote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". Carry on dancing Simone.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The tone of recent posts

Mrs. Donatella informs me she has been unimpressed with the subject matter of recent posts and that they will only appeal to a small minority with the outlook of 10 year-old boys !

I acknowledge the comments given offline (!) and assure all readers I will be back with something more "mature" to write shortly when I feel sufficiently able and inspired.

Meanwhile I am in no danger of firing a toy machine gun out of the window, which I did when I was 10.....

The A-Team Theme Music and Introduction.....

Feels like 1986 all over again !

And maybe, if you can find them, you could hire- the A-Team

But where could you find them now ?

(Age has wearied the A-Team but above is a reminder of the glory days.)

For "Hannibal" or George Peppard, I would like to think the answer is - in Heaven.

He succumbed to lung cancer in 1994

George Peppard (1928-1994) RIP

For "Face" or Dirk Benedict the answer is more cheerful. He is currently living in a certain house in Elstree, Hertfordshire.

Big Brother is watching Dirk. He is divorced, has 3 sons and has done a variety of parts in films and TV since the A-Team.

For "BA Baracus" or Mr. T or even Laurence Tureaud, things appear fine. He has just given up his customary jewellery apparently in tribute to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Like the others fame has been more modest since the A-Team but he did make a name for himself in Rocky III. Mr. T is a born again Christian.

"Pity the fool," who gets the wrong side of Mr. T. Even his photo came out big ! This is his post-Katrina version wearing a rather dapper chalk-stripe suit !

And last, but not least "Howling Mad Murdoch" or Dwight Schultz is alive and well. He has done further acting, including much theatre work and a successful spell in Startrek: The Next Generation. Unusually, for an actor he has now been married for over 23 years.

Not such a crazy fool, "Murdoch" is obviously older but has done many successful projects as well as being quite family orientated.

Dirk lives to Face another day

Dirk in his younger days.......
I now feel obliged to follow this series of Celebrity Big Brother to the end. As a committed fan and supporter of Dirk Benedict I took some satisfaction that he survived his eviction vote yesterday. In fact, "the Face", obviously has a lot of supporters out there as the only other candidate left for eviction, Carole Malone got over 77% of the vote to be evicted. Therefore Dirk was easily safe, even if he was not really too bothered anyway. Nonetheless, Carole Malone seemed a pleasant and intelligent character so it was disappointing she had to go rather than one of the air heads.

Sadly a "coalition of the talentless" showed some signs of forming with those of no-discernible talent aligning themselves with the remnants of shortlived manufactured bands. Those of real talent (Dirk, Jermaine and Shilpa) are in a minority and may suffer for this and face further nominations by the talentless majority.

As a Big Brother novice I am not certain how all this works. Can Dirk be nominated again straight away ? If so, he should build a tank out of kitchen utensils and other household objects, to smash his way out of the Elstree based prison. Probably he would like to take Shilpa with him.......

Friday, January 12, 2007

is this Jesus ?

An advert by a British charity suggesting that Jesus can be found in some unlikely places- here apparently in an empty pint of beer.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Saving Face

This evening I learnt with concern that Dirk Benedict is up for eviction from Big Brother.

Surely there is no justice in this !

Anyway Dirk's "wise" words to Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty today remind us all that there is a higher meaning in all life, even Big Brother :-) So if the worst happens, I am sure Dirk will take it like a man.

Still I hope "Face" can be saved for a little longer.

Bollywood star Shilpa benefited from Dirk's wise words on the meaning of life !

Go Face !

This seems a quiet January in London.

So quiet in fact that for the first time ever I have regularly viewed a series of Big Brother- albeit "Celebrity" Big Brother ! Previously I had always viewed Big Brother as brain dead drivel for the masses. Maybe my standards are slipping ?!

This blog is supporting only one contestant- Dirk Benedict aka "Face" from the A-Team.

I grew up watching the A-Team. That was a time when America was "cool" and for 10 year old boys there was nothing cooler than the A-Team ! The A-Team stood for doing what was right even if their methods were a little unorthodox and they were misunderstood by others.

Set against the other "celebrities" in the "house ", "Face" stands head and shoulders above the crowd.

Go Face !(or maybe Hannibal mainly said "Go BA"!)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Conversations on the way to London Bridge

This week London has been slow to get back to work and the papers are reporting that trains restaurants, taxis and offices are all quieter as people take extra holiday into the New Year.

I however have no such luxury and made my way into London on January 2nd.

A minority of regular commuters seem to travel with friends- either genuine friends or "train friends" who they have got talking to after commuting on the same train for a number of years- making friends can be a slow business in the UK !

The majority, including myself, are generally silent. I have been taking my current route less than a year and certainly have no "friends" on the train !

However the silent majority is sometimes forced to listen to the early morning chats of the talking minority. Some chats can be truly banal and limited to decorating, gardens and sales in the shops. I heard one woman tell a "story" of how her the top half of her umbrella had shot accross the room when she had tried to open it.

Others go a little deeper. Animated mothers bemoan the state of schools or children's behaviour in general. More morbid older commuters run through all their family and friends who are suffering ill health (or worse) at present. Shameless girls recount their latest "man fiascos" for all to hear. "Lads" laugh over the latest stag weekend or similar.

At New Year, people were scratching around for material after quickly exhausting the topic of who they had visited on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Most Christmas's were reported as "just family, you know" with reassurance "it was good though".

On January 2, I was trying to read my book while two loud voiced men accompanying a bored looking woman recounted their Christmas's. Once that was exhausted, the main talker, a man in his 30s turned his attention to the progress of his house purchase. House purchasing can be slow and complicated here so there are always "tales of woe" possible.

Once that was done and the train was stopped about 2 miles from London Bridge, the talker turned to current events for inspiration. "So old James Browne died. Did you see that ?". His companion had but there was a disagreement about the date he had died.

"What about Saddam ?" the house purchaser asked chirpily. "Did you catch the old neck break ?". "It was on the web but they may have taken it down now".

His companion had clearly not seen this as a highlight of his Christmas holiday and as a number of passengers peered nervously over their papers to see who this psycho was, the train at last arrived at London Bridge.

There it is, the conversations on the train to London Bridge. Everything from failed dates to nasty videos of "unseemly" (per The Sun), "undignified" (per George W Bush) executions get discussed by someone.

The rest of us can only listen...............

Lock up your toilets.................

Is this a sign that things are getting desperate in the UK ?!!