distinctionIt seems like ages ago that I finally handed in my dissertation but it’s only been two months. Two months of regularly checking my University email account for notifications while second-guessing everything I wrote in it, until today the maring was done, the exam board had met, and I got my final grade: a distinction for the dissertation, which meant an overall distinction for my MA, so those two years of studying and several thousand pounds of fees weren’t wasted in the end.

Anyway, this is just to say thanks to those of you who read and commented on the posts about my dissertation and other degree-related things as you did help me work through my thoughts and come up with ideas in a lot of areas, and all that helped me get to this point. The title – and the opportunity to flog the phrase ‘politics with distinction’ until it becomes devoid of all potential humour and meaning – is all mine though.

Right, time to start applying for next year’s PhD courses and funding…

, ,

labourlistjobsBrowsing through the W4MP Jobs site yesterday, I spotted a couple of interesting adverts, which made me question if I’m doing blogging right.

LabourList want to employ a staff writer for £21,000 and an editor for £30-35,000, both of which are so many orders of magnitude above what I’ve ever made from this blog that I do question if I’m doing it right. My income from this blog has normally sufficed to pay the not-very-large hosting costs of it, and that’s about it and I’m pretty sure the same is true for just about every other blogger I know.

Maybe I could make more if I hawked myself round the media companies as an expert on the party? After all, given some of the people they use for that role, the bar for it can’t be set too high. Even then, though, I doubt I could raise my prominence so much as to pay for anything more than a few beers now and then. No, I shall have to follow the example of Labour List and find some willing benefactor to pay for me to do this. They’ve got four different trade unions footing the bills, but there’s a lot more of them than there are of me, so just one organisation with a bit more money than sense and willing to fund a job for the boy will do fine. Any suggestions?

Until someone does come forward, I’ll just keep doing it as I always have, but please remember that one of the drawbacks of being in a party that doesn’t cater to the vested interests of unions or non-dom billionaires and encourages people to speak their mind, not the party line, is that there are few, if any, people willing to subsidise propaganda outlets independently-minded blogs. Until such time as they do, you’ll just have to put up with me having my own opinions, and counting the pennies I get from the few of you who don’t use AdBlock.

, ,

(I’d stopped doing these, but then this dropped down through the space-time continuum and I felt NWTW deserved resurrection to share it with you…)

Film Review: Nighthawk (no stars)

Big-screen remakes of old TV series are not uncommon, but there’s a good chance that Zack Snyder’s new film Nighhawk may just have killed them off for good, hopefully along with his career. A terrible script that’s poorly directed is one thing, but I’ve never seen one so horribly misjudged in tone, casting and everything else as this. To some, what follows may count as spoilers, but I choose to call them protectors instead, because hopefully they’ll protect you from any desire you may have to go and see this film.

It begins looking just like a horrendously-miscast version of the TV series it’s based on. It’s World War Two, somewhere in France, and café owner Rene Artois (Channing Tatum) is secretly an agent of the Resistance, working to help fugitive British airmen escape the Nazis. At the same time, he’s trying to avoid his wife (Lea Seydoux in a bad wig) and keep up his affairs with two waitresses (Kelly Brook and Keeley Hawes, neither of whom seem sure about whether they’re meant to be doing French accents). All this is happening under the noses of two inept German officers (Ray Winstone and Alexander Armstrong) and all seems set for an inept farce, especially when SS officer Herr Flick (Adam Sandler) arrives on the scene.

At this point, everything goes so bad you begin to wonder if someone has filled the cinema with hallucinogenic gas. A cackling Herr Flick guns down a field of Resistance women and the priceless painting they are carrying (incredulously referred to throughout the film as The Fallen Madonna With The Big Boobies) is soaked in their blood and things begin going to hell. Literally. Suddenly, Edith’s singing is not just bad, but has the ability to warp holes in reality, and all involved – the cafe staff, the surviving resistance, the Nazis, even an undercover British agent with an inexplicable speech impediment (Paul Bettany) – find themselves on the same side as demons swarm over the French countryside (which looks oddly Californian most of the time) and Great Old Ones prepare to rise from the inky depths.

Several insanities, rendered limbs and buckets of blood later, we reviewers had managed to get ourselves out of the cinema and wondered just what had gone so wrong with our world. At what point does everything – even ‘Allo! ‘Allo! – have to have a a grim and dark retelling in the hands of ‘Visionary Directors’? What is gained by watching Winstone slur his way through a tongue twister about how the drug in the mug and the candle with the handle on the gateau from the chateau are needed to prevent Great Cthulhu from devouring Paris?

I tell you, if Jason Statham’s Fairly Secret Army is as bad as this, I might stop going to the cinema altogether.

(thanks to Jennie Rigg for some of the inspiration for this)

Labour leadership: Closing statements from the candidates

As we finally stagger towards the announcement of the result, the four candidates for Labour leader have been making their final speeches. Here’s what they said:

Liz Kendall: “People have asked me if I’d change anything about my leadership campaign, and I can only think of one thing I’d have done differently. Back in May, I should have decided to spend the next few months catching up on a few box sets and let Tristram Hunt destroy his career instead.”

Andy Burnham: “Throughout this campaign, I have been listening to you, and giving you what you wanted, no matter how many crazed u-turns that required me to pull. As leader, I will continue to give you what you want, and that is why I, Jerendy Corbynham, will be the next Labour leader.”

Yvette Cooper: “Labour needs someone to be a campaigner, and throughout the three long weeks of this election, I have been campaigning as hard as I can. You can be assured that I will campaign just as hard in the 2020 election as I have for the party leadership.”

Jeremy Corbyn: “That was weird. I dreamt I was running for Labour leader, people were publishing books of poems about me and Buzzfeed were running articles illustrating people’s dreams about me. Oh, I see. Right. Shit.”

Many people come here seeking the truth about Balustrade Lanyard – the man, the myth, the lanyard – but thanks to a quirk of Google, they’re merely landing on a page that tells them next to nothing of one of the most important political figures of our generation. Should you wish to know more, it can be found by clicking here.

, ,

A charitable break

london2brightonOld friends and long-term readers of this blog will remember that I spent the summer of 2006 walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise money of brain tumour research. This was in memory of my brother Simon, who died from a brain tumour in 2005.

Now that walking bug has caught on with some other members of my family who are taking on a different walking challenge. Although I walked over a thousand miles in total, the most I did in a day was about 30 miles and that was partly thanks to me not realising quite how far I was going that day.

At the end of May, my brother Andrew, my sister-in-law Julie and my niece Lucie will be walking 62 miles (100km) in a day as they take on the London to Brighton Challenge. It’s a massive distance to walk, and one that I’m not sure I could do in a day even if I got back in training.

Like me, they’re doing it to raise money for brain tumour research and so they’re looking for sponsors. If you’ve got a spare few quid and you’d like to support them, then please pop along to their JustGiving pages – Lucie’s is here, Andrew’s here and Julie’s here – and make a donation. Every bit helps, and I’ll give an update on their progress – and hopefully, their successful completion of the walk – when the time comes.

, ,

Not Watching This Weekend: Eggbound 2: The Powdering

"I still have a very particular set of dietary requirements."

“I still have a very particular set of dietary requirements.”

The Pitch: Following the unexplained success of Eggbound, a sequel was inevitable. With production set to start, no original script was available so another script was press ganged into service, with names hastily find-and-replaced to match the original, and no one really caring that it moved the franchise into a whole other genre.

Brendan McPuncherson, the world’s most inexplicably Irish accented and still egg-dependent CIA agent is on a visit to London to meet an equally inexplicable friend who happens to be a Professor of Science at the Queen’s London University of Sciences. After a scene in which McPuncherson mentions the quality of British eggs (special marketing consideration: the British Egg Marketing Board), his friend is brutally murdered by a group of vaguely Eastern European terrorists (played mainly by actors taking a few weeks off from EastEnders) who want access to ‘the Device’ created by Brendan’s friend. Brendan discovers it amidst his friend’s cluttered office in a castle, and accidentally activates it, which sends him and the chief terrorist back in time to the Blitz. Brendan finds himself hunting London both for Albert Einstein, the only man who might be able to understand the Device and send him back to his own time, and for a source of egg-based protein in a country under rationing. Meanwhile, the chief terrorist falls in with a group of upper-class Nazi sympathisers, ready to use his knowledge to overthrown Winston Churchill and let the Nazis win the war.

Can Brendan find Einstein in a world where he’s weakened by only being able to eat powdered egg that he has to specially prepare every thirty minutes? Will the plucky Cockney girl he meets be able to help him and convincingly pretend to have a sexual attraction to an aging actor while deploying an accent even Dick Van Dyke would wince at? Which actor will get the chance to don the fat suit and carry the unlit cigar to play a curiously cheerful Churchill? How many historians will die laughing when attempting to watch the film and catalogue its inaccuracies? Will the promotions department be able to resist publicising it as ‘Finally, Liam Neeson Punches Nazis!’?

The Cast:
Brendan McPuncherson: Liam Neeson
Chief Terrorist: David Tennant
Plucky Cockney Girl: Mila Kunis
Deputy Chief Terrorist: The bald one from EastEnders who’s not a Mitchell brother
Chief upper class Nazi sympathiser: Tim Pigott-Smith
Other terrorists: That one from EastEnders who used to be in Hustle, Vinnie Jones, A couple of non-speaking Polish extras looking uncomfortable
Nazi sympathising aristocrat who realises the error of her ways, then sacrifices herself to help McPuncherson escape: Someone from Downton Abbey
Albert Einstein: Mark Gatiss
Winston Churchill (and most of the budget, because someone’s got to get the money to keep the Old Vic going): Kevin Spacey

, ,