Sunday, May 31, 2009

A few good men - it seems our MP is one

Our MP is Andrew Stunell, a Liberal Democrat. His website, here, lists his expenses and his stance on MPs pay.

Last year, I was paid a salary of £61,820. In July 2008, the House of Commons voted for what was then a below-inflation 2.25% pay rise, which increased MPs' annual salary to £63,291. I supported this, and voted against a proposal to increase MPs' pay substantially more. There are no increments to the pay scale; every MP gets the same pay regardless of length of service.
A decision in March 2009 by the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) for a further increase in MPs' pay to £64,766 looked out of line to me, and I shall be donating this year's increase to three local charities.


He has donated his salary rise to three local charities, including Helping Uganda Schools (HUGS), which is run by my friend Peter Mount.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brideshead with Stanleys

Went to see Awaydays at the Printworks last night. We risked turning into a three stripes Rocky Horror Show by slipping into our favourite trainers. It was a late start which meant Nige had to bail early to get the "ordinary" to Newton. He missed the homoerotic pinnacle of the film, which had been bubbling along all through the story.

The period look and feel was authentic and clearly done painstakingly. Much will be debated about the type of trainers and Peter Storm cagouls, but I thought the looks of the girls and the non-Pack characters as well, were spot on. Every railways scene had been done on the East Lancashire Railway at Bury Bolton Street - both arriving and departing. There was no reference to Tranmere at any point, maybe for legal reasons, and none of the "wools" they fought were named and the actors were all the same. There were countless pop video shots of Elvis and Carty looking into the distance, brooding, groaning with their inarticulate rage as the deadly potion of male hormones raced around their bodies. But these aren't criticisms, just observations, I've noted before how the whole project has had to be stitched together with string and buttons.

But none of this mattered, as it was all about the lad Carty and his aching, yearning, needy relationship with his mate Elvis.

So, much anticipated and not disappointed. 7/10.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Some more bookmarks for late May

Nick Cohen on the golden age of conspiracy theories

Freebies, junkets and disclosure - Guy Clapperton urges disclosure

New Scientist piece on libel laws - the balance is all wrong.

Going to see Awaydays tomorrow - a positive review is here from the Daily Telegraph.

David Cameron election broadcast looks like Brass Eye - deconstructed on Words Dept

David Ottewell of the Manchester Evening News on the anti-Manchester backlash. Chairman Len makes his point here.

Suicide Bummers

The Word Podcast, which is getting better and better, by the way, had a roaringly good discussion about TV.

Norfolk blogger Norfolk n Good sums it up perfectly:

There is a brilliant discussion of this topic on the Word Podcast 98 called "Monkey Tennis" after the ludicrous suggestions by Alan Partridge for new TV vehicles. A real life TV Producer Aris Roussinos (aged 27) joins the discussion of how pitches are made to the main commissioning stations these days and admits that the whole sordid process starts (and normally ends) with a title. The title is everything and the programme content very much secondary, whether it is "Ten Years Younger", "The Sex Inspectors", "F*k Off I'm Fat" or "The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off" - apparently we as modern viewers are so shallow that we will only watch something with a catchy title.

Roussinos lets us in on the fact thet "nobody watched Living TV's series on a midget psychic but its title meant that the commissioners snatched it up immediately". It was called "Small Medium at Large". He is currently still touting his own series exposing the gay Taliban under the title "Suicide Bummers".

Superb. Absolutely brilliant. He goes on.

Apart from the title, the next key thing is, apparently, the presenter. The secret is to gain the services of a middle aged comedian who tours somewhere, anywhere, on some sort of personal soul-searching quest, preferably in an eccentric or vintage form of transport. If you can add a sense of jeopardy ("and he has just three days to do it!") and is able to break down in tears at least once an episode you are almost home and dry. No matter that most middle aged comedians are less than hilarious without a team of script writers.

When I worked in telly there was NOTHING that some people wouldn't do to get a show made. The ideas I heard touted around and the level of BS was something to behold.

Which is why we're in the state we're in. Utter rubbish on most of the time.

Thoughts on the Champions League final

I would have been "quite pleased" if Manchester United had won last night. That's all. I don't support them or even like them very much. But for the pals who do, I would have been pleased.

But have you ever heard so much utter tosh as has been spouted over the last day. As United fan Jason Isaacs* said today, suddenly according to the callers to TalkSport and Radio5, and to the papers, United are now terrible. That Anderson is the worst midfielder since Luke Chadwick. It's always one extreme to another. They were beaten by Barcelona. And it was 2-0. Not 10-0.

There's a good antitode to this tidal wave of utter bollocks here, on the When Saturday Comes website.

It brings to mind the thought Ed Smith imparted in his excellent book What Sport Tells Us About Life. Most sport is "chaos upon chaos". Sports journalism seeks to bring meaning to all of this and draw conclusions. OK, Manchester United lost a game. The players weren't able to score, but they could have done on more than one occasion. And what if Eto'o's shot had been saved by Van Der Sar?

Same goes for the drooling over Barcelona. This was a team who were a minute away from being knocked out by Chelsea. Chaos reigned at the Bridge. They got through.

* He's a pal of mine who lives in Marple, not this one.

Surviving

Ah, so I'm surviving on my own this week. Missing everyone. Eating well. Got some jobs done. The silences in the house are the strangest. Obviously it's pretty noisy here most of the time, but sat in the garden and listening to the birds is blissful.

And I've been very pleased to have been offered berths around Marple to dock in to watch TV and have a brew.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A review of my footy predictions

In the Pick the Score competition I came 2250th, which is pretty pants.

In my pre-season predictions I got all the big punts utterly wrong. Champions, relegated and European qualifiers. Here's what I said and in brackets how wrong I was.

1 Chelsea (wrong by 2)
2 Man U (wrong by 1)
3 Liverpool (wrong by 1)
4 Arsenal (right)
5 Villa (not quite right)
6 Spurs (overestimated by 2)
7 Portsmouth (overestimated by 7)
8 Man City (overestimated by 2)
9 Middlesbrough (wrong, by a mile, 10 places!)
10 Everton (underestimated by 5)
11 Rovers (overestimated by 5)
12 Newcastle (overestimated by 8)
13 West Brom (overestimated by 7)
14 Sunderland (rightish)
15 Wigan (underestimated by 4)
16 West Ham (underestimated by 7)
17 Fulham (wrong, by a mile, 10 places!)
18 Bolton (underestimated by 5)
19 Hull (underestimated by 2)
20 Stoke (underestimated by 8)

What a good job I don't gamble.

Journalists and expenses tales

George Dearsley, a great journalist and a real character, has started blogging here.

There is a brilliant story about journalists claiming expenses, also mentioned on the excellent Grey Cardigan column on the Press Gazette website.

Legendary sportswriter Peter Batt submitted a receipt for a meal he’d had with his wife and two young kids on expenses, passing it off as a lunch with "contacts in the horse racing world". When quizzed as to why there were two “children’s portions” on the restaurant receipt, a straight-faced Peter said: “They were jockeys”.

There's another good one here, courtesy of the Spectator regarding Tory MP Michael Gove in his days as a BBC hack.

One of the receipts was for lunch with Ken Clarke. Gove's boss said he thought that was very interesting, as on the day of this lunch, he himself had lunch with Ken Clarke. Without missing a beat quick-witted Gove looked up and replied, "The greedy bastard... two lunches!"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our Turkish Delight

While the rest of the nation was pissing itself laughing at Newcastle United, we were hailing one of the most skillful, creative and exciting players we have enjoyed watching (pictured). Tugay, our Turkish delight, was made skipper for the day, got man of the match and inspired a crowd of English football fans to wave hundreds of Turkish flags and welcome a coachload from the Galatasary London branch onto the Blackburn End.

The game itself was nothing special. We should have scored a hatful in the first half. West Brom couldn't score to save their lives, but had a few chances in the last half hour. Paul Robinson was great, Diouf was frustrating, Vince Grella was rubbish and Tugay showed in flashes why he is special. And the contest was ended with half an hour to go when the referee seemed so sure Jason Roberts had done something wrong.

I enjoyed watching the match with my Dad, who reads the game so well. He notices the pattern of a defender's game better than anyone I know. He can tell Givet is a good 'un. And he politely asked: "This Andrews, what's he like in midfield?"

And so, another year over. It's not been pleasant really. We should have won today and finished two places higher, but the table doesn't lie and over the season we've been pretty poor.

So, today would have cost us £43. The running total for the season therefore comes to £834.82. We got our value, I was able to pass the tickets on to friends and offer them as raffle prizes. And do you know the saddest aspect of the whole thing? I only saw them win twice.

Cheer up Alan Shearer!

From the moment Alan Shearer lashed in two goals at Selhurst Park in 1992 on the first day of the new Premier League I knew I was incredibly privileged. I knew then I was watching the greatest ever player to pull on the blue and white of Blackburn Rovers.

And once he had pulled on that shirt for a final time at the Tony Parkes testimonial in 2005, his true place in our hearts was secured forever. The bitterness caused by his move to Newcastle in 1996 was finally excised.

I for one could never boo a player who did so much for us. That's why I'm proud to wear a t-shirt (pictured) reminding everyone that England's greatest centre forward won the league. But asking, "where?".

As the "where did Shearer win the league?" song rung out in the streets outside Ewood after we beat Newcastle last season, a typically one-eyed Newcastle fan sneered at me: "Shame he couldn't have done it in front of a proper set of fans."

For that reason, and many, many more, I hope sincerely that Newcastle United get relegated today. Their fans are no better, or proper, than anyone elses. What wasn't proper about the 3000 who roared Rovers on at QPR on a Tuesday night in the race for the 1995 title, or those that blagged into Anfield on the last day, or raised the roof at Ewood (against Newcastle) on VE night. We are a proper set of fans, with all the good and bad that goes with that description. There may not be as many of us. We may be a small town club, but we love our team with as much passion as anyone else. We also have more kids, more women and a younger average. We also have more competition. Within a 42 mile radius of Newcastle there are two other top clubs. You can drive 42 miles from Blackburn and reach Liverpool, Everton, Man City, United, Bolton, Wigan, Preston and Burnley. We don't have as many leery beer monsters and Clone Island morons as others, but we're a proper set of fans alright.

Newcastle excel in one respect: force feeding the myth of their own moral superiority. The club is a shambles. The owner has embarrassed himself and the supporters, while their treatment of Sam Allardyce was atrocious. Not for them the patient and organic growth of a solid squad to satisfy a large supporter base (like Aston Villa, or Everton). No, the same deluded, petulant and spoilt attitude demands jam tomorrow. There are two clubs in the Premier League where the variance between their position in the wages table and the real table is the widest. Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United. We have consistently punched above our weight. Newcastle, the 5th highest spenders, underachieve more than any other.

Going down will do them good in the long run. It really will. Only Shearer has the well of goodwill to draw from over the two seasons he needs in order to learn how to be a good manager. Anyone else will be hounded out speedily if success isn't forthcoming. A couple of seasons in the Championship is what he needs, rather than joining this endless wave of good English players who are parachuted into top management jobs only to fail through lack of experience (Ince, Southgate, Adams, Pearce, Platt and now Shearer).

So I hope, long term, he does well. But today, he surely must taste failure and the idiotic deluded element of their supporters must learn humility. When they do, other football fans may also afford them some sympathy. But now? I stand with the majority. Come on Villa. Finish the job.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Support the Regent Cinema in Marple

I've been living back round here now for 3 years. In all that time I have failed to support the Regent Cinema. The last time I went was probably about 2004. It is a marvellous civic asset and I am ashamed I haven't been in so long. I am now mildly giddy at the prospect of going on Monday night. That the film is Angels and Demons almost doesn't matter. Da Vinci Code was nonsense, but fun, when I caught it on Channel 5 the other day. You can't beat a bit of Hollywood mush to break up the decorating fun, eh? I may also try and see State of Play this week if it's still on. And it's Awaydays next Friday, both at Multiplexes. And good as they are the experience won't have half the charm of going local.

How the votes are counted and how the Greens can stop Nick Griffin

This video explains how the European election works and why voting Green is a good way of stopping the BNP AND sticking two fingers up at the mainstream.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What's wrong with politics

Last night's Question Time, had four politicians I'd have in a government of national unity. Vince Cable, Will Hague, Ben Bradshaw and Martin Bell. All are straight (well, you know what I mean) and they still got a rough ride off the audience.

The Labour Party broadcast afterwards almost inspired me to rejoin the party, just so I could then resign in disgust again (Jo Moore's "bury bad news" email was the final straw). They are absolutely rudderless, clueless and desperate.

I don't know where this is all going, but the demands for a General Election will grow after Labour are routed at the local and European elections. They have to seek a new mandate or democracy itself is in dire peril. It's that serious.

Gordon Brown should do the one decent thing he has in his power to do. Dissolve parliament, call an election and ban from standing any MP who has breached rules on expenses. Cameron should do likewise. They should stand aside and allow strong local independents (like Martin Bell did in Tatton) to represent a belt of seats across the country.

Some other thoughts:

Create a regional represenative senate in place of the House of Lords.

Reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies to 200.

Give the Scots independence if they want it. Off you go, and take your bust banks with you. Maybe you could merge with Iceland and form a new country - Scotice.

Build a proper government of all the talents. The four I mentioned above for a start. Bring back Digby. Get Greg Dyke in. And Heather Rabbatts, Seb Coe, Jonathan Ive, Sir Howard Bernstein and Theo Paphitis.

Take an axe to local government. Start all over again. Have a mayor and a small team for identifiable communities - I'm up for being Mayor of Marple.

Our own Awaydays crew

While we're in the thick of nostalgia to mark the premier of the new Awaydays film, here's our own proper "naughty little firm" from the summer of 1984, on the village green at Wray following a cricket match.
L-R, top, Carps, Kev, Cotty, Shelly, Monty, Me, Swinny, some girl.
L-R, bottom, Jim's GF, Jim, Tinks, Tosh, Holmesy, Tigger, Tigger's bored GF.

I am happy to report that all the young men in the picture have gone on to lead prosperous and fulfilling lives and many are in senior positions of commerce and public service. Just because they wore the gear didn't make them hooligans.

Links for late May

A rather overstated obituary for Channel M Music in the NME. Rather proves an old adage: music journalism is people who can't write, interviewing people who can't speak, for the beneft of people who can't read.

Daily Mash on the furore at the Palace over BNP invite.

A recently rediscovered classic - Preposterous Tales by I, Ludicrous. We all know a Ken McKenzie, don't we?

Hazel Blears gets a good kicking by the Salford Star.

Blackburn Rovers cheap season ticket offer, astonishing piece of forward planning and pricing. And good press for Rovers for once. Here and here. Cheaper than Barrow.

Kevin Roberts on the natural football museum in Ambleside. Homes of Football.

The sort of thing I used to do when I was a student. Very funny; well I think so.

Roger Cashman is going to be on Secret Millionaire in Burnley. And is organising a drink off between Ricky Hatton and Andrew Flintoff.

Old hat, I know, but thanks to Words Dept and Ear I Am for extraordinary story about BBC news woman bleating out that she earns £92K

Vincent Nichols has made a good start as leader of Britain's Catholics. But he's been turned over by the Times in a shameful way. Child abuse is horrific and he's condemned it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Have an Awayday

Kevin Sampson's novel Awaydays has been made into a film. Link to the site is here. It sounds brilliant and an expedition is planned. According to Sampson the funding for the film was a massive effort. Adidas stumped up a bit for some product placement (check out the shiny trainers), this piece here explains. And this trailer, here.

I liked the book and it should make a much better film than the hoolie porn of Green Street and the Football Factory. Soundtrack from 1979 includes Ultravox, Joy Division and The Cure.

Another local bloke is looking forward to it, preview here. Look it up under Journal.

More links to more trainer and tracky top nonsense etc, here, here and here.

Make your vote count

There's a good piece in the paper today by Charlie Brooker about the BNP. It's a very good reminder of the stupidity of racism and the politics of fear.

Their presence on the ballot paper and the threat that a racist holocaust denier could be elected to represent the North West in the European parliament should motivate everyone to vote to prevent this. This here explains how a mere 8.5% vote could lead to "old one eye" getting elected.

This is a very good video and website, there's nothing British about the BNP.

Only two parties have mailed us so far, the fascists and the Greens. The latter are making a strong play of the fact that they are a good way of stopping the BNP. It's a thought. I can see the Labour vote collapsing altogether. Discontent at the mainstream parties could lead to a low turnout. UKIP are being given a soft ride by the media to draw the disaffected vote. The only posters I've seen around our way are for UKIP (close to a BNP members house on Glossop Road) and one Lib Dem poster in Marple.

As it is a Green vote starts to make an awful lot of sense, and should push the racist rabble down the list. Unite against Fascism were leafleting Piccadilly this morning and making the same point. There is something worth voting for in June. Hope not hate.

Town and country planning

I'm not terribly well organised. I tend to go from week to week vaguely knowing what I'm doing, because I work in a very structured environemt and work with very well organised people. I still mentally only really focus on the next thing I have to do. It doesn't mean I don't prepare for anything beyond that, but realise that it takes time to prepare. The last two weeks, for instance, have been a blur of events, meetings, interviews, driving to Leeds, Liverpool, Preston, Bolton etc etc.

The same goes for personal life stuff as well. I buy tickets for things and unless I'm really revved up for something it might take me by surprise on the week it's happening. I think a lot of it is down to having such a busy family life AND a demanding (and enjoyable) job.

ANYWAY. This is a long way of saying I'm going to be on my own for a week or more from this Sunday. Everyone else will be on holiday and I'll be at work during the day, but that then leaves evenings to chill out and do my own thing and two weekends either side. It's not a busy work week, because of the holidays events are very quiet.

For some blokes this would be paradise. The point is I've been so worried about being at a loose end I've put more planning into the week than normal; gigs, films, football, family, old friends, jobs around the house. I've even got my meals worked out. I still haven't sorted a ticket for the Specials in Leeds though. I was rather hoping Leeds would be in the play offs and would ignite the black market.

And I still haven't organised a game of golf.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sky ruin our weekend

I don't know how this has happened but we're not going to London tomorrow afterall. I'd been given 4 tickets for Chelsea v Rovers. Earlier in the season I accepted the offer and the last time I checked the game was still on Saturday. I even booked the train tickets. However, it's been moved to Sunday. As this is Max and Louis' first Holy Communion we're busy this Sunday. The boys have been really good about it and there have been no tears. Except from me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Too Much Too Young

Anyone got a spare ticket for the Specials in Leeds on the 24th of May?

J'taime Blackpool

While last night's The Apprentice featured the goon patrol rebranding Margate, Manchester's own Suralan - Andy Spinoza - has had a go at sprucing up Blackpool, with hilarious consequences. It's a clever video, but chic French cafe society is NOT BLACKPOOL.

The press coverage says it is about "attracting French visitors to Blackpool. Not it isn't. That would be absurd. It is about attracting attention to a new campaign for Blackpool.

The danger is, however, that the images shown are so far away from the reality of what Blackpool is, it doesn't matter how good the video is, or how much media coverage there is of attempts to change perceptions of Blackpool, it runs the risk of actually belittling Blackpool.

Especially when the story immediately next to it on the Gazette website is this. That's more like it.

Bookmarks for mid May

Ten top tips on business blogging - especially like the point about keeping at it (eh, Chris?).

And another one here from Adam Singer - 19 reasons why you should blog as well as tweet. "I know it’s not as “sexy” anymore but it [blogging] is still far more valuable and should not be discounted merely because the early adopters have shiny new object syndrome."

Words Dept is spot on in flaming Stephen Fry's nonsense about MPs expenses.

Lancashire Evening Telegraph message board
- are the supporters of my team especially moronic, or just the ones who post under here?

The best cliches of the 2008/2009 football season. ie "It may not be pretty, but Big Sam's direct football has saved Blackburn" and "Hull City's demise started in the centre circle at half time on boxing day at Man City, when perma tanned manager...."

Our business finance conference is going to be brilliant. Register your interest here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Home of football

Congratulations to all the supporters and players of Burnley Football Club on getting to the play off final at Wembley. Wouldn't it be great if all the Lancashire clubs were promoted and playing back where they belong?

Sorry, no, I can't do it, can't say it. Don't mean it.

AaaaaaaaaaGGGGGHHHHHHH! Nooooooooooooo! As I type Danny Baker is fuelling the sleeping giant myth.

Hope not hate

Radio 2 today had Cristina Odone and Jonathan Freedland railing at the political class. It was stirring powerful stuff and seemed to capture the mood of absolutely everyone I have spoken to about the moats, the second homes, the tax dodges, Alan Duncan's lawnmower, that prat of a speaker (berating Kate Hoey and Norman Baker and the media), Hazel Blears and the whole shower.

As I was listening to this and Odone was using words like "to the barricades" and "new political party" to sweep them away I was driving along Oldham Road towards Manchester. In broad daylight a campaigning truck decked out in BNP stuff was parked up and getting ready for a day at the barricades. Depressing isn't it?

Time was they wouldn't dare. And a sleazier nastier more corrupt group you could not find. If there is one cause worth voting for, it has to be to stop that lot.

Halls of residence for MPs

There's a simple solution to the row about MPs expenses. Don't pay them anything for second home allowances. Build a serviced apartment block the non-London MPs can live in during the week. If any of the toffs don't fancy it, let them live in their own houses, just don't pay them for it.

In praise of Maplin and Indian call centres (again)

First, apologies for not blogging. I've had massive technology problems. Firstly, my work laptop completely crashed and burned. I got a new one and promised to my wonderful IT manager not to overdo it with non-work stuff. That meant not using it for iTunes, Spotify, social networking, etc. My main technology problem has been the erasing of half my iTunes library (more later).

We've got a new home PC, and a back up drive, but whenever I've tried to set it up there's been something missing. Connecting to the internet hasn't worked. Does it have a wireless card? No. Go and buy one. Which one? This one. Doesn't work. Why not? Is the wireless box in the wrong place? No. How then can it connect. Is the WEP key case senstive? Can I type it correctly twice?

The wireless connector is clearly very good. And once again a young man in Maplin picked the right one for me, talking me out of a complicated rewiring of the house that had been suggested.

This kind of faff has been what I've been doing in the painfully small amount of time I have to do stuff like this at home. Anyway, last night I cracked it. I couldn't work out why the wireless wouldn't work so called the ISP. Once again, like last time, a call centre in India talked me through the whole thing with ease. We are all online now. The printer, the work laptops, everything.

I used a new programme called Media Widget to get my music off my Ipod and onto the PC. Most is back - but there are about 70 still missing, but these were purchases and Apple should sort this for me. Fingers crossed. But what a carry on, eh? This computer lark, it'll never catch on.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

ID cards for Manchester

So, once again Manchester is to be a pilot for an unpopular government initiative. A voluntary scheme to buy an ID card is to be made available to us. Why?

Once again, the people will speak, just as they did when plans for a congestion charge were rejected in a poll. And the reason is the same too. People ask: "What's in it for me?" And the answer is the same: nothing. I will be amazed if a card in one city is accepted as proof of identity. It just doesn't solve any of the issues if it is voluntary and limited, therefore it won't be accepted. It's also an expensive political folly that is doomed to fail. David Ottewell makes the point here.

Lord Peter Smith (him again) says here, that this is some kind of triumph for the city region. And they will "welcome a chance to get an ID card early".

I also note, however:

There will be a marketing campaign to raise awareness amongst the public and business communities in the Manchester Metropolitan area, with a national campaign targeting specific business segments.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Happy memories

Last week I got lost on my way to Sheffield. I went over Woodhead, and went wrong somewhere near the M1. I ended up in Chapeltown and saw signs for Hesley Wood Scout Camp, where I went in about 1978, aged 12, with the 16th Lancaster Scouts. It brought back loads of really fond memories. I do remember feeling achingly homesick as well, but we did canoeing, campfires, piss taking and went to watch Speedway.

Such steps one takes on the walk of life. Tomorrow, my eldest son Joe, who will be 10 next week, goes to an activity centre with school. I'm really excited for him, but will really miss him. I made him a promise a few years ago that wherever I am, and wherever he is, I will speak to him every single day for as long as he wants to. Maybe we won't manage it this week. They're going to be doing canoeing, campfires and piss taking, but no Speedway.

As if it wasn't possible to have too much fun, we all had a great weekend at the Cala Gran caravan park in Fleetwood. The child friendly review of the football tournament is here. As is a picture of two of our brood with some guys from Burnley.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Not easily embarrassed

Embarrassment is such a very English foible. We would rather say nothing sometimes, than say the wrong thing. And if there are any man traps more likely to ensnare an English sensibility then race, sex, death and religion have to be at the top of any list.

Everyone knows the personal journey to hell and back endured by my good pal Angie Robinson. I'm not even going to link to it, or mention it here, because that's kind of the point. But if there is one person who isn't suffering from acute embarrassment it's Angie. She knows she has to carry on despite being portrayed as a scarlet woman and all the rest of it. She did a great job last night at the Chamber of Commerce dinner, speaking at her annual dinner.

That's sex and death, then.

Next year's president of Greater Manchester Chamber will be Moneeb Awan from eSAY Solutions, a very lively, very funny and very edgy guy. He's in a techie business so he has a very moden outlook on life. Last night at the Chamber dinner we chatted about his personal style and what he will bring to the role. My advice, seeing as he asked for it, was: "to thine own self be true." He said he'd like to have a Buzzcocks track as his walk up music when he delivers his presidential address.

Like Angie he's not easily embarrassed either. Good job.

Labour peer Lord Peter Smith, who was sat on the other side of Moneeb from me, asked this: "will this dinner be a curry night?"