Wednesday, 30 December 2009

One of the great mysteries of 2009 has been solved

Throughout 2009 I have been asking myself ‘Where are the Tory policies?’
Well today the answer was revealed (much as I suspected) – they don’t have any.

They want you to invent them, and if things go wrong, then you can also get the blame.
They are offering a £1 million prize from tax-payers money for the best web design for a site that will enable all of us to contribute to their policy creation.

Wow!!! - Wiki policies.
Welcome to the new age of Wiki politics.

Well, for a start – how about these suggestions:

1. Nationalize all public utilities, especially the railways – and run them properly
2. Make higher education free
3. Actually have joined up thinking in the NHS and stop wasting so much money on stupid management consultants
Feel free to add you own …

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Cracker facts for nerds

The Christmas cracker was invented by Tom Smith in 1847

Scientists at the University of Surrey have come up with a formula for the perfect way to pull a Christmas cracker:
(It involves a complex equation that looks mind-boggling)
P = the ‘probability’ - between 1 where you have no chance of winning and 10 for certainty that you will win the pull…
J = the ‘jerk factor’ - The ratio of how much you are pulling compared to your opponent. This ranges between 1 where you are keeping dead still - where as your opponent is doing all the active pulling, through to 10, the reverse situation, when you are tugging hard.
T = the ‘twist factor’ - This again ranges between 1 and 10. 1 means you are not twisting your end of the cracker away from the cracker body, and 10 is for the extreme situation when you twist your end to be right angles to the body of the cracker.
Ny and No = the total number of times you and your opponent respectively have won when pulling crackers.
S = the ‘stare factor’- It takes into account how good you are in a psychological battle with your opponent. Rate yourself from 0 if you are useless to 10 if you would always be able to stare them out!
A = the number of units of alcohol you have drunk compared to your opponent. - If you have drunk less or the same you can set A to 0.
Yawn.........This is all too complicated – just pull it

Have a great Christmas!

Sprouts – love them or hate them?

I will be cooking sprouts tomorrow. Christmas is the only day of the year that I have a sprout – yes just the one. I don’t like them, but it is traditional to have sprouts with the Christmas dinner isn’t it?

Apparently this festive delicacy is experiencing a surge in popularity.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall says that the secret is not to cook them for too long.
Xanthe Clay says smother them in butter – no thanks, that sounds horrid.
The bad weather has caused anxiety that there will be a shortage of the green beasts, but no such luck in Shropshire – we have abundance in the shops.
So, to all you sprout lovers out there enjoy, and to those of you who don’t like them, you have my sympathy and understanding.

A very merry Christmas to one and all

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Mandelson screws students for Christmas

This one has been slipped in under the Christmas radar.
£533 million will be cut from the higher education budget. Universities that exceeded their student quotas will have to pay back £3, 700 per excess student. There is talk of larger classes and two year fast-track degrees. These intensive degrees will be a nightmare for students who have to work part-time to pay for their degrees.
All this is on top of the prospect of higher tuition fees.
The Tories have said they will increase the number of university places by 10,000 – but no mention of how this will be paid for (or any sign of policies on anything for that matter).

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


This is the season to be jolly and I expect you will all be having a drink or five, despite the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson’s campaign against the evils of drink.
If you have a bit too much you will soon know about it the next day: headache, nausea, dizziness, feeling weird etc – feel free to add to the list.
According to regular imbibers, the darker drinks such as red wine, whiskey and Bourbon cause worse hangovers than clear fluids such as vodka and champers.

Well, a research project carried out by Brown University in Rhode Island has now proved it scientifically – it is all down to the ‘congeners’.
Bet you are glad you know that now.

If you don’t want to feel awful - stick to water and fruit juice.

Here is a little ditty on the subject of alcohol fuelled festivities:

I wish I could drink like a lady
I can only drink one at the most
Two and I’m under the table
Three and I’m under the host

Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas number one

Which is your favourite Christmas number one hit?

What do you think about this year’s winner, Killing in the name by Rage Against The Machine?

It is radically different. You'll either love it or hate it. It is not very Christmassy, but well done to everyone who made this happen, and raised money for Shelter in the process.
I think people are sick of Simon Cowell trotting out the same mushy ballads and monopolizing the music scene especially at Christmas time. RATM gives a two-fingered salute to Cowell - and about time too.
I feel sorry for poor Joe, he seems a genuinely nice lad, and has been inadvertently caught up in the protest.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Something for the creative writers

I know a lot of you write copious quantities of short stories. If you have something with a Christmas theme then why not have a go at The One Show Christmas story competition.
Last term we did flash fiction, and this story must be no longer than 200 words. Unfortunately the deadline is noon on Monday (sorry – I only heard about it yesterday).
The lucky winner will have their story read out on the show by Bernard Cribbins. He is looking for something to ‘make him laugh and keep him captivated’.

So, fellow writers, if you have something suitable send it in - the link is below.
Good Luck!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Another Christmas treat for you all to enjoy

Carol Ann Duffy does a magnificent summary of the year in this poem.

The Twelve Days of Christmas 2009


a buzzard on a branch.

In Afghanistan, no partridge, pear tree;

but my true love sent to me a card from home.

I sat alone,

crouched in yellow dust,

and traced the grins of my kids

with my thumb. Somewhere down the line,

for another father, husband,

brother, son, a bullet

with his name on.


that Shakespeare loved –

turr turr, turr turr –

endangered now

by herbicide,

the chopping down

of where they hide –

turr turr, turr turr –

hawthorn thickets,

hedgerows, woodland.

Summer's music

fainter, farther…

the spreading drought

of the Sahara.


un, deux, trois –

do not know

that French they are.

Three Welsh lambs –

un, dau, tri –

do not know that Welsh they baa.

Newborn babies –

one, two, three –

only know

you human be.

Only know

you human be.


The Condor calls from the USA.

The Wood Stork calls from its wetlands.

The Albatross calls from the sea,

on the fourth day of Christmas.

The Yellow-eared Parrot is calling.

The Kakapo calls from NZ. The Blue-throated Macaw is calling.

The Little Tern calls from Japan, calls

my true love sent to me.

The Corncrake is calling; the Osprey.

The Baikal Teal calls from Korea.

The Cuckoo is calling from England,

four calling birds.


bankers' profits fired in greed.

The second ring outshone the sun,

fuelled by carbon, doused by none.

Ring three was black gold, O for oil –

a serpent swallowing its tail.

The fourth ring was Celebrity;

Fool's Gold, winking on TV.

Ring five, religion's halo, slipped –

a blind for eyes or gag for lips.

With these five gold rings they you wed,

then slip them off when you are dead.

With these five go-o-o-old rings.


This goose laid Barack Obama.

I bought a magic goose from a friendly fellow.

This goose laid Fabio Capello.

I bought a magic goose from a maiden (comely).

This goose laid Joanna Lumley.

I bought a magic goose from a busker (poor).

This goose laid Anish Kapoor.

I bought a magic goose from a bargain bin, it

was the goose laid Alan Bennett.

I bought a poisoned goose from a crook (sick, whiffing).

This foul goose laid Nick Griffin.


of a broken heart, one half.

The Mersey Swans, flying

for Hillsborough, wings of justice.

Two, married and mute on the Thames,

watching The Wave.

A Swan for Adrian Mitchell

and a Swan for UA Fanthorpe,

swansongs for poetry.

The Queen's birds, paired

for life, beauty and truth.


Two milked voters to float her boat.

Three milked Parliament to flip her flat.

Four milked Government to snip her cat.

Five milked the dead for close-up tears.

Six milked the tax-payer for years andyears and years…

Seven milked the system to Botox her brow.

Eight milked herself – the selfish cow.


But the lady in the Detention Centre does not dance.

But the honour killing lady does not dance.

But the drowned policeman's lady does not dance.

But the lady in the filthy hospital ward does not dance.

But the lady in Wootton Bassett does not dance.

But the gangmaster's lady does not dance.

But the lady with the pit bull terrier does not dance.

But another dead soldier's lady does not dance.

10 LORDS DON'T LEAP. They sleep.


fir 'Royal Bank;

twa pipers each

fir Fred and Phil,

fir Finlay, Fraser, Frank.

Too big tae fail!

The wee dog laughed! The dish ran awa' wi' the spoon…

We paid the bluddy pipers,

but we dinnae call the tune.


banging their warning?

On the twelfth day in Copenhagen

was global warming stopped in its tracks

by Brown and Barack and Hu Jintao,

by Meles Zenawi and Al Sabban,

by Yvo de Boer and Hedegaard?

Did they strike a match

or strike a bargain,

the politicos in Copenhagen?

Did they twiddle their thumbs?

Or hear the drums

and hear the drums

and hear the drums?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A Christmas treat

Here is an early Christmas treat for all fans of costume dramas – especially Mr. Darcy fans.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Excitement on the university shuttle bus

This has been an eventful week, and it was rounded off tonight on the shuttle bus.

The bus had just turned into Lichfield Street, when a man in a luminous yellow jacket and Santa hat hurled himself in front of the bus waving frantically. We just thought it was one of the locals who congregate by the church to indulge in cans of Strongbow and other substances, before forcing copies of the Big Issue onto unsuspecting students. The driver carried on, ignoring him, only to grind to a halt a few yards later at the metal barrier erected over the zebra crossing by the bank in Queen’s Square. Another character in a yellow jacket and Santa hat knocked on the bus window
‘It’ll be about fifteen minutes mate’
That was helpful – What will be fifteen minutes??
We soon found out.
A cloud of billowing smoke appeared near Beatties accompanied by the drone of bagpipes. There was a thunderous snort and the ground began to vibrate as an object resembling the Loch Ness monster trundled up the hill.
This was most bizarre
As it came closer we could see that it was a mechanical contraption, decked out in purple fairy lights. An ambulance followed three feet behind.
A lone piper stood by the bank droning a lament as the monster drew closer.
The chill wind lapped round the piper’s kilt and sporran - the Christmas lights highlighting his varicose veins.
One of the lecturers on the bus announced ‘It’s the ghost of Fred Dinbnah’. The monster turned out to be a steam engine. We were totally bemused. I got off the bus to find out what was going on.
It was Santa, arriving in Queen’s Square, but from a different direction – complete with men in red on stilts and strange characters in blue Lurex and grey wigs. The steam engine seemed incidental and the ambulance a precaution in case anyone was overcome by too much excitement.
I did not get to see Santa - he was swamped by hundreds of screaming kids.
The festive spectacle was rounded off by an excellent display of fireworks from Beatties’ roof.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Here’s something for the boys

If Santa forgets to leave Katherine Jenkins, Cheryl Cole or Jordan in your stocking this Christmas, you might like to consider the tips and strategies for wooing the love of your life offered in The John Bercow Guide to Understanding Women.

Bercow gives tips on how to pick up drunken girls and virgins as well as refined girls. He has another section entitled how to get rid of them, and he advocates lying. (I would have thought lying was a prerequisite for a politician any way).

Apparently he wrote this in a student magazine, and the Metro brought this story to light (what a mine of information the Metro is turning out to be for the blogging community).
Bercow penned this piece in 1986, and published it in Armageddon, a low-budget magazine said to have a “tiny circulation” (It is a magazine for Tory students).

According to Bercow, girls will fall for ‘anything that has a credit card and breathes’

(obviously worked for him then) – so now you know everything you will ever need to know about women - and good luck!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

How to be subversive

I’ve been mulling over the prospect of paywalls for online news (what a saddo, you are probably thinking, this nerd girl needs to get a life)
Well ,I was struck with a thought in the middle of the night, (when these bright ideas usually manifest themselves) what if some bloggers - who were subscribing to online newspapers , when we no longer have free online access– copied and pasted news articles into their blogs, then whored them round the internet for all to read – that would be subversive indeed.

Then I was struck with a moral dilemma.

We do need journalists to expose the evil and corruption in society. Someone has to pay for proper investigative journalism. If the newspaper industry died, we would be faced with the prospect of having a chaotic system in which corruption could spawn unchallenged.
I know I hate greedy capitalists, and that Rupert Murdoch’s mantra is: “Good journalism costs money”, but I would not want to live in ignorance – would you?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

What does the future hold for bloggers?

Things in the newspaper industry are in a state of flux. The circulation figures for most of the daily national and Sunday papers are showing a consistent year on year downturn. Papers have responded to the internet revolution by putting newspapers online. The Guardian was at the forefront of this and has become the most popular site. It has also attracted a lot of readers in the USA.
Media moguls like Rupert Murdoch however are moving to change our free access to the news. Google, under pressure from Murdoch announced this week that it is going to limit the number of news searches we can make. Murdoch is already charging for the online Wall Street Journal and plans are afoot to make us pay for reading online news. This could affect bloggers who like to comment on the news. If papers erect paywalls for news, then the days of free news surfing are numbered, and blogging could become expensive .
I suppose Murdoch is in the media game to make a fortune, not provide a public service.