Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thoughts are with Brown ...

Ok I'm not the biggest Brown fan at all but you have to feel sympathy for him and his wife Sarah: (I want to say it won't harm his electability either but I'm not that callous)

From the Beeb
Chancellor Gordon Brown says he is upbeat about his son's future after revealing four-month-old Fraser has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.
Mr Brown received messages of support from political allies and opponents, with Tory leader David Cameron among the first to offer his best wishes.
In a positive statement Mr Brown and his wife Sarah said their son was "fit and healthy".
They lost their daughter Jennifer Jane in 2002 after she was born prematurely.
A spokesman for the couple - who have one other son, John - said they were told in late July that Fraser may have the genetic disease and tests had now confirmed it.
'Helping others'
The spokesman said Fraser was "fit, healthy and making all the progress that you would expect any little boy to make".
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening inherited disease that disrupts the way the digestive and respiratory systems work.

Mr Brown's spokesman said: "Thousands of other parents are in the same position.
"They are confident that the advice and treatments available, including proper exercise and, later, sporting activity will keep him fit and healthy.
"The NHS is doing a great job, and Gordon and Sarah are very optimistic that the advances being made in medicine will help him and many others, and they hope to be able to play their part in doing what they can to help others."

Messages of support were issued soon after Fraser's condition was made public.
Conservative leader David Cameron, whose four-year-old son Ivan has cerebral palsy, said: "Sam and I are thinking of Gordon and Sarah and their family at this time and we send them our best wishes for the future."

Housing minister Yvette Cooper, a close friend of the Browns along with her husband, Economic Secretary Ed Balls, told the BBC Fraser was a "happy and healthy little boy".
She added: "They are a very strong and happy family, so whilst obviously, it is the same for any parent, it's not the kind of thing you ever want to happen - but they are very optimistic."
Ed Owen, a friend of Mr Brown's and former political adviser whose four-year-old daughter has cystic fibrosis, explained the treatment Fraser would receive.
A child diagnosed at birth and treated immediately should remain quite well
Rosie BarnesCystic Fibrosis Trust
Cystic fibrosis
"It's a pretty rigorous, heavy duty regime of medication, physiotherapy, regular hospital trips, but within that and alongside that, kids can enjoy a relatively happy lifestyle, and there's every prospect that Gordon and Sarah's son will have that for years to come," he told BBC's Newsnight programme.

Mr Brown, who is widely tipped as the favourite to succeed Tony Blair when he steps down as prime minister, said after Fraser's birth in July: "I love being a dad. It's great fun and there's nothing more important and there's nothing I enjoy better. "
Cystic Fibrosis Trust chief executive Rosie Barnes said while the disease remained a "very serious medical condition", advances meant the future was much more optimistic than it used to be.

Interseting than now both potential leaders of the main parties have disabled children. I wonder how many spin doctors in the westminster village were salivating over those prospects. Probably those with out a beating heart - pretty much all of them in all parties then.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Robinson has gone - and we all breath a sigh of relief..

However better news for Rugby - Robinson has finally jumped before he was pushed.... to the ground and told never to darken twickenham's ground again.
To the future...

Boing, boing Bah!

Tuesday result:

Sheff Wed 3-1 West Brom
Sheffield Wednesday claimed a deserved win over struggling West Brom to give boss Brian Laws his first home victory.
The home side scored twice in the opening 15 minutes with Glenn Whelan heading home and Madjid Bougherra doing the same from Kenny Lunt's cross.
Albion improved after the break and Jason Koumas' strike in the 88th minute gave his side hope.
But a late penalty from Steve MacLean condemned West Brom to their sixth defeat in nine games.

West Brom manager Tony Mowbray"I will take responsibility for this result.
"I wouldn't question my footballers' desire. This group of players are determined to put it right and I've got broad enough shoulders to take responsibility - blame is the wrong word - for these results.
"Football is a confidence game and when you've got a group of footballers whose main strength is their passing - when that starts to ebb away, it becomes difficult."

We have potentially the best side in the division, bring back Robo I say, there is no bloody excuse for that defeat.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

ITV Grade A+, BBC Grade F-

Michael Grade has resigned as BBC chairman and is to join ITV, the corporation's main terrestrial rival.
ITV, which has been struggling with falling advertising and ratings, said the appointment was a "real coup".
Mr Grade said his first priority would be to improve programming at ITV, which he will join early next year.
Analysts say it is a major blow to the BBC, where Mr Grade was steering it through complex licence fee negotiations with the government.

I was genuinely a little disappointed to see Michael Grade leaving the BBC this morning he has been steering the ship throughout a turbulent time. It's also interesting to note that his relationship with Tessa Jowell whilst warm, was decidely icy with the big 2.
I make no apologies for liking the BBC, an inportant British institution. You only have to look at how poor the quality of programming on commercial stations is to apprecaite the quality and impotance of Auntie.

This often put me at loggerheads with fellow Labour colleagues, who criticise the license fee as an unnecessary tax. i completely disagree, when visiting Canada/ America I was always alarmed at the complete control advertisers had over the viewing public. They dictated whether programs should air, be cancelled, be moved, be censored. Frightening stuff when a Toy manufacture can dicate whether an educational programme is suitable for children depending purely on how many Power Ranger figures it can sell. An extreme example but the influence is frighteningly real.

The beeb for all its faults (I'm looking at you Lawrence Lewellyn Bowen) has undoubtedly the best unbiased news coverage (WMD's included), the best lineup of television programmes, great sport coverage, great current affairs programs and of course the jewel in the crown: Neighbours. - gotta love having a TV in the office.

Which is why it's a shame that Grade has gone, especially to ITV, the channel to give us the excitement that is Celebrity wrestling, the current affairs that is - ? oh wait a minute they don't do that kind of show anymore and if they did it would undoubtedly be hosted by Ant and Dec.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Baggies and the Birmingham birthday bash

Quite a weekend, firstly England were destroyed at Twickenham by South Africa. Robinson in on his bike their can be no doubt - Martin Johnson is an untested talent and I have massive reservations about him taking over. That said in the immortal words of Yazz 'the only way is up'.

Likewise both West Brom and the England cricket team were soundly beaten, perhaps it's unfair to compare the two when clearly West Brom have 'champions' written all over them but in both respects there is hope. 'England have a young relatively inexprienced team, burdoned by injury woes the quality is sporadic' not my quote but from Jonathon Agnew last year following England's first defeat in the Ashes which they went on to win.

Regarding the Baggies, if they can maintain their nerve, gain some confidence then their bi-polar display should straighten out.

The hightlight of my weekend as I was predicting last week Ian's birthday bash. I had a lot of fun (cough cough) and it was great seeing Charlie, Ricky and gn himself who is becoming more flamboyant every time we meet. Apparently he has finally entered or is that 'been entered by?' the gay world It certainly doesn't apparently stop the musing and wanderings of that said gentleman at other times of the late hour.

I enjoyed the flagrant hostility towards Chris who I had been likened to by a number of individuals, his arrogance and pretentions of grandiose design made me balk, but then I suppose he's me with money . As predicted we pretty much took an immediate dislike to each other bordering on the feral, it wasn't helped by one of Ian's brothers friends an unlikely Queen called Tom who alongside GN (for ever he will be known, the wanderer makes him sound like a shepherd) teased Chris with gay abandon. He didn't like the quip about his blazer and pumps insisting they cost him more that out net annual income. They still looked like they were from the bargain bin at Primark.
Still money does make the world go around and I like a hearty challenge.

In fairness behind the veneer of pomp and pretention I did warm to him a little as the night continued, made easier by the quips about Charlie and his magical scarf. Ed was also on good form and made some biting quips about Chris, much to my delight.

Just for the record I would like to state that tom is in no way Gay, not even slightly, he might look it, sound it and act it but categorically he likes women, I know this because he wanted to go to a strip bar with da boys grrrrrr! and he's trying to grow stubble.
Glad we cleared that up. I also found that Chris was witty, intelligent and interesting after eight pints and I thank him for his hospitality, tea and conversations about David Cameron in the rather beautiful Radisson hotel before embarking on my night of rest.

Other highlights of the night include Ian's brother Al and friends steadfastly refusing to believe that Tom could be gay, despite his clear preferance for Ian which I think is an absolute pre-requisite for being homosexual in the United Kingdom. Also of course that fact that Tom was camper than Dale Winton at Xmas should have provided some hint.

A good night bordering on the great which will be remembered for all the wrong reasons and the terrible hangoverthe next morning.

Yesterday I spent some quality time with Paul and watched the film Elf with Will Ferrell, dreading it but it seduced me into the Christams Spirit. That was followed by another trip to see Bond with my Dad who thoroughly enjoyed it as did I.

I have been accused by a few friends of being a cinema fascist that is to say people making noise checking phones etc annoys me. Perhaps I am but when a couple sit right next to me and continue to kiss, then as far as I'm concerned they should be stoned then beheaded. The slurping and gurgling noises I made everytime they embraced soon put a stop to that behaviour. I also carefully, subtly dropped ice into her open bag; that'll learn her.

The Assembly is buzzing as Xmas approaches and that means more crazy hours at work. It was nice to speak to Jamie Angus on Saturday who has had similar experiences working in the Labour Party to me, perhaps I should set up a support group for disaffected support staff and manual. I would call it 'passion can only carry you so far'.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Lost .. I certainly am

So the new series of Lost begins in earnest with a double episode on Sky One.
The trouble with T.V shows such as this one, 24, Alias etc is that you really do need to invest a lot of time in the whole show. To completely understand lost ( and really who does) you really need to watch the whole of the first 2 years before last Sunday night. - c'mon now that's uneccessary.

Last night thanks to the marvels of Sky digital I watched the first 2 episodes of Lost Series 3, yes again it was well acted, intelligently written and with more questions than answers.
However I've decided to leave it there, enough is enough firstly I barely watch any T.V. these days and when I do there is much better fayre than Lost, secondly I don't have the committment for another 4 years. sorry JJ Abrahams but that is that.

Actually having just reviewed my telly waching, it appears that all I really watch is the news, Dragon's eye, Question Time and This week - perhaps I too am lost.

Work pressure continues to increase and the news is not all good, with the announcement of Alcoa closing, manufacturing is at an all time low in Wales despite record employment.
However with the big MOD announcement next week news should be better and coverage for AD will also be v good.

I'm off to Birmingham this weekend to see Ian (bandy legs) Angus for his birthday. An early start of 5.30pm should gurantee an excellent night when anything can and often does happen.
I wonder if a ginger nut will be cracked?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Good news, bad news

It really is becoming a job of extremes, today we had the second performance of 'From Cars to Mars' a joint production between Dragon Arts and Swansea City Opera.
It was a very successful event, interactive and very well attended. Over 120 people in the Senedd were there to watch the performance - impressive.

It was certainly a varied explosion of colour and creativity that went down very well. Perosnally I'm glad it's over as it took a huge amount of work to get everyhing ready for the performance not to mention the chaos with sound and lighting.

This was followed by the news of ****** closing in Swansea which is a massive blow to families in the area.

In the space of one hour we've gone from one extreme to the other.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Baggies are bouncing, Torchwood is terrifying and England are exciting....(for ten minutes)

A good weekend for the Baggies with a rejuvenated Koumas leading West Brom to a decisive victory over rival promotion hopefuls Burnley. 3 - 0 at home was very nice thankyou, lets hope this is the start of the Mowbray effect.

Watching the first Sixty minutes of England at Twickenham was like watching your ex-girlfriend trying to pull another fella. Desperate, sad with a little glimmer of passsion that attracted you to them in the first place. England managed to win 23 - 21. The last 20 minutes was all about heart and little skill, their kicking over the game was atrocious and their is no excuse against a second team SA side.
That all said the last quarter was very exciting and they pulled it off, however the stay of execution for Robinson belies the fact that even former fans like Martin Johnson are now calling for him to quit. I tis after all only 10months until the Rugby World Cup.

Finally as an avid critic of torchwood the Dr Who spin off I have to say I loved last nights episode
it was Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the Brecon Beacons. Brilliant!!!

Oh and finally - interesting to note that Wolves are for sale at the cut price cost of £20million, I may go in with an offer of £2.50 and a bag of maltesers, who knows they may consider it??

Review of Casino Royale

A slight departure today, my good friend Nick L has written a definitive review of Casino Royale which I agree with on every level. All I would add is that the superb title sequence is reminiscent of the 60's introductions and the Bond song is not nearly as bad as some were predicting.
over to you Nick...

A review of Casino Royale (2006)

Over the course of 21 films and 40 years, each new cinematic visitation of secret agent 007 has been heralded with the proclamation that “Bond is Back’. Casino Royale, the latest film in the series, begs the question as to whether previously he was ever there at all, for Daniel Craig, the latest actor in the role, has made the part his own, even overshadowing the nonchalant, iconic brutality of Sean Connery’s 60s portrayal.Casino Royale is shorn of all the cinematic devices that have made such an unpalatable character the established family Boxing Day hero of yore. No overelaborate secret bases staffed by lackeys in hardhats and colour-co-ordinated boiler suits, no submersible sports cars, no campy exchanges or Carry On double entendres. Craig’s Bond has been hardboiled, all impurities burnt away, the audience captivated by his cold, merciless basilisk stare, injecting a genuine sense of drama into what had increasingly become a self-parodic, self-indulgent routine of ritual.

This is not to say the film is unrecognisable from what has gone before. The disapproving boss, Bond’s disregard for authority while remaining resolutely of the Establishment, the consumerist fetishism, the fast cars, the easy women, the exotic locales, the physically disfigured villains are all present and correct, but then again, they were in Ian Fleming’s original novels. Casino Royale transposes with surprising ease Fleming’s tropes of a Club-land infused 1950s to a post 9/11 environment of international terrorism, and the back to basics approach of the film makes this transition easier. It is easier to imagine Bond being set upon with a machete than being cut in half in an over-elaborate setup involving lasers that can punch holes in the moon or being fed to sharks in the secretarial pool underneath the villain’s lavish offices (transported there by trapdoor, naturally).In an era where we have all now become James Bond ourselves with our GPS tracking systems, iPods, minute digital cameras and laser-marker pens, the audience has now reached a parity with Bond in terms of his gadgets. Whereas in more recent entries in the franchise had led the filmmakers to stretch the techno-fetishism to breaking point (invisible car, anyone?), 007’s toys in the new film are believable to the extent that you would expect them to be most middle-aged man’s Christmas stocking by 2008. This allows the filmmakers to focus solely on the look, narrative and performances of the film, with one or two indulgent action scenes being dispensed with quite earlier on in the film (although deftly executed) so they can get on with telling what is, at its heart, a genuinely gripping thriller.

Martin Campbell, the director of Casino Royale who was also responsible for the post-Cold War riposte of the series Goldeneye, has accomplished what he has set out to do – make James Bond a credible twenty first century character who can hold his own against the faux ultra-realism of Jason Bourne and Jack Ryan.Ably supported by a great supporting cast (Eva Green is especially good as the best Bond girl since Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service over 30 years ago), Daniel Craig makes the film his own, with an intense performance coupled with a physicality that even Connery lacked. The action sequences recall the bare knuckle clashes of Raiders of the Lost Ark or more adult fare, and this helps the drama no end by making you believe that not only can Bond inflict serious physical damage on an opponent but that he too is vulnerable, easily wounded and at high risk of being snubbed out at any moment.The defining moment of Casino Royale is a quiet scene involving just Craig. Bond has just killed two men with his bare hands, he is literally drenched in blood, his face is lacerated, and he has returned to his luxurious hotel room, propping himself up against the sink in the bathroom, downing shots of whisky as he just stares at himself in sheer disbelief and barely contained horror at the realisation of what he is capable of. Previous Bond films would have tried to denude the brutality of a killing by having it done by gadget or by a mordant post-kill quip (“I think he got the point”). Casino Royale, however, like Bond, forces the audience to stare the film’s consequences in the face, and is more gripping and shocking as a result. Casino Royale, like its protagonist, is a killer.

Killer review (pun intended)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bond is back and it's about time.

I was fortunate to see the Welsh Premier of Casino Royale last night in Swansea.
Wow, Daniel Craig really is James Bond. I’ve always been a Roger Moore fan ‘I’m attempting re-entry sir” and I had a lot of love for Mr Brosnan and Mr Dalton, but simply Craig is Bond.

I loved it; it’s a mix of From Russia with Love, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Licence to Kill.

It’s brutal, emotional, witty (without bad puns), the enemy is believable and it has a cool twist.

When I heard they were rebooting the franchise I was a little nervous, I like the quasi – continuity, but Barbara and Michael have done it. Cubby would be proud.

When the credits rolled and it played the music I cheered inside, a sad fanboy moment.

Definitely off to see it again.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Birthday escapades

Well it's been a very busy 2 weeks, I had a brilliant time in Amsterdam with A.L. chilling eating, smoking and drinking. Boom Chicago as ever was funny, as were the men in the clubs :-)

It's definitely been a rollarcoaster of a fortnight, the highs my birthday celebration whichwas fun. Good to see all my work colleagues as well as Nic, Rachel, Ian and my interns.

Nick Lewis was sober but on ace form his comments were sharp, pithy and too the excruciating point especially to Ian and his choice of nursery age (sorry mate i know you're going to be reading this).

The old rivalry for the affection of old dog Angus was on display i particualry liked Nic and Sandy sizing each other up (pun intended).

Bethan was her usual bubbly and tipsy self her comments inappropriate as always. Moment of the night however must go to Nic showing nude pictures of herself to Nick Lewis and then promptly forgetting which exact ones she had revealed. Mr Lewis's response too rude for here - involved comments about grooming and not just the dogs in her care. priceless

Was bollocked on friday by boss man AD for not following his instructions clearly - I am very much not looking forward to the debate tomorrow as it could cause problems. I personally still feel his current view is the correct one, otherwise he would be massacred at election time. Still he's a man under pressure in his current role and the busiest man in Wales.

Disturbed to see Englandbeing demolished by Argentina (robinson quit now) and the baggies failing to capitalise again... is that bring back RobboI here on the terraces??