Friday 21 June 2013

Is this why UKIP's MEPs voted against tacking tax evasion?

Do you remember how back in May UKIP's MEPs voted against tackling tax evasion?

You wonder if the latest news about their leader is the reason why?

Thursday 20 June 2013

Bowls at Midnight

As you read this I shall be out on the bowling green about to START playing bowls. Yes, here as we near the longest day of the year it is possible to play bowls at midnight. In fact it has been possible to see the outline of the roof next door against the sky for a number of weeks at midnight recently.

Kirkwall Bowling Club
This will be a knew experience. I have played bowls at midnight in the past, but most often in some church or community hall somewhere around the country as we were getting toward the point of qualifying for a finals night. I've played to near 10 in the outdoors but in Northern Ireland it was getting dark about then. This will be different.

Update for the record I was playing skip against my third from the previous night's Argo Cup win and beat him by a shot, with a nicely drawn bowl by me in the last end after midnight. With the cloud cover it was worse than one of those late night rearranged games we used to play on the Bangor Irish Cup runs.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Blogged elsewhere: Those who didn't want to redefine marriage try to redefine marriage...badly

Remember how just the other week opponents of equal marriage were saying you can’t redefine marriage.
Well take a look at some of the amendments that they have been lodging in the House of Lords.

Clause 1



Page 1, line 5, leave out “Marriage” and insert “Union”
Looks like a redefinition to me, of course this only applies to those of same-sex couples as can be seen by a withdrawn amendment on the same line:


Page 1, line 5, at end insert “and shall be referred to as “marriage (same sex
But apparently marriage as we know it now is no longer good enough for those that are married. It needs redefined and renamed....

Read the full list of redefinitions and comments about them on LGBT+ Lib Dems Northern Ireland

Friday 14 June 2013

You know you're on the right side of civil liberties when...

...Jack Straw, David Blunkett and Alan Johnson are on the other. These were the men who felt it was alright to hold people for 90 days without trial in this country. A figure that if I recall at the time would have left us only behind Russia, Georgia and China (I stand to be corrected on these facts) and the unfortunates at Guantanamo Bay.

One advantage of having a blog that is almost 8 years old is that I actually blogged about the result of that vote on 90 days back in 2005. It was of course under their successor Harriet Harman that the Digital Economy Bill got rushed through Parliament in the dying days of the last Government.

So the debate now is should we allow a snoopers charter. Or at least publicly acknowledge on as it appears that America's National Security Agency (NSA) has already been doing just that in operation Prism.  Of course the really determined could probably still access information without having to go online, apparently there are places called libraries that have information on all kinds of stuff. As for planning meetings with co-conspirators. A text saying meet you at X, is innocuous. But then I doubt terrorist planners are likely to text

"Gentlemen, meet me at the Duck and Drake Sun 20th, we need to discuss blowing up Parliament. GF x"

or the equivalent.

Just like with tapping phones, police already have the ability to acquire warrants to follow everyone's text and emails. With mobile broadband and wireless connectivity these days it is harder to keep track on individual computers and what they are seeing. Something that the snoopers charter still fails monumentally to address.

Knee-jerk reactions, like the Digital Economy Act 2010 show that Government is willing to blame things on the internet, whether through lack of knowledge or understanding. But at time fails to grasp the complexities and also the fact that those who want to hide can actually do that very well online.

Friday 7 June 2013

It's's farewell to Sharpe, Williams and Walker

It's Friday, it's five o'clock and it's been a while since I did one of these but we have lost a variety of artistic people this week so it felt right.

First on Thursday it was announced that novelist Tom Sharpe had died. He work black comedic novels such as Blott on the Landscape and Wilt. Both were adapted for TV the first as a series the second as a film. But another Sharpe adaptation was the one whose theme tune sprang to my mind when the news came to me that was Porterhouse Blue. Here is a brief glimpse of what sort of dark humour Sharpe could produce.

This morning we heard that Esther Williams had died. In the era of the big Holywood musical she had her own niche in that she was the one that brought synchronised swimming into the mix. Here is a glimpse of
some of her work.


Finally earlier in the week Graham Walker who was one of the original members of The Grumbleweeds. A comedy musical group that also had an impact during the 70s and 80s as I was growing up.

Even then he was the bald one with the long hair, a style I have not subsequently followed with my own receding hairline.

Here are the Grumbleweeds doing a very good parody of another iconic 70s/80s band ELO.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Hey Tatchell, Leave our Jeff Alone

Today has been a good day for the LGBT community the Lord were not content with Lord's Dear's amendment to the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill one that would have stymied progress. But no doubt I'll be hearing Peter Tatchell going on about how this is one small step which needs to go further.

The thing is earlier today I read Peter Tatchell about a spat that Peter Tatchell was having a go at Jeff Dudgeon for remaining within the UUP. Now I'm sure when Peter was up outside the Lords yesterday and today he would have looked around him and seen that there were members of many parties as part of the vigil.

Maybe if he were to look at Northern Ireland and the inequalities that still exist there, far behind where the rest of the UK is, he will notice that the same is true. In fact Jeff and his long-time but dearly departed friend PA McLaughlin were pioneers of the cross-community LGBT politicised community in Northern Ireland. Jeff in the UUP and PA in the SDLP both working away with the moderates on both sides and important step to advance LGBT equality as a whole.

Tatchell says of Jeff  "A high-profile external challenge that shames and embarrasses the party is likely to secure more change – and more quickly." I think that shows how little he understands of how things work in Northern Ireland. The fact that last October the Northern Irish assembly came within 6 votes of actually voting in a majority for equal marriage shows that we are not that far off it. Now is the time for gentle persuasion.

The thing is as Jeff said a couple of years ago when he was sat across the table from me at the Pride Ball with PA also at the table, he could look around that room and see that the fate of LGBT rights in Northern Ireland were in the safe hands of the next generation. Some of who are the suffragettes that Tatchell wants us all to be and some are the suffragists prepared to take a stand whether in our party, with our MLAs or in our churches chipping away. You see Jeff realises that in Northern Ireland you need both to get things done. Those who are ready to explode at anything and those who stoically keep on keeping on.

The one thing that Jeff has in the LGBT community in Northern Ireland that Tatchell doesn't is an almost universal respect, which in Northern Ireland across traditional community divides is something. Jeff put his name to the landmark case to end the criminalisation of us all, and hasn't stopped working for equality since. Tatchell though has a tendency to be more like Marmite you can love him or hate him.

The obstacle that we have left to full LGBT equality in Northern Ireland now is on the Unionist side, so what we do need is people to work alongside their MLAs to persuade them to take that final step. Two of the best Unionist advocates for LGBT rights have left the party for other reasons so they will be a high-profile external challenge to unionism on a whole host of issues including this one. Meanwhile others who have the respect from within need to work away diplomatically, people like Jeff.

Saturday 1 June 2013

Who next?

I seem to remember posting something similar as a title in 2009/10 when David Tennent announced that he was stepping out of the Tardis.

I was also one of those who having watched Party Animals when the answer was finally revealed knew that Matt Smith knew that the new choice then would be a good addition to the eclectic fusion of the 10 previous TV incarnations of the Doctor.

So the question is who next?

Could it be a Ginger Actor?

After all there have been post regeneration comments about 'still not ginger' in the rebooted franchise. So maybe a ginger actor.

Could it be a woman?

When David regenerated into Will, one of the first reactions to the new hair was 'I'm a woman!' before further checks proved otherwise. So there is a clearly now defined the possibility that the gender of a Time Lord is not predetermined to remain continuous for each regeneration.

Now obviously there is one ginger woman who has an intimate knowledge of the Doctor. So could Alex Kingston be the next Doctor? Is there another twist in the River Pond/Melody Pond saga that we do not know yet. Don't forget there are pages in River's diary that The Doctor has yet to know about. So what if River is actually The Doctor in an future form, who merely took on the name of Amelia Pond's daughter in a way to interact with a predecessor.

Maybe too far fetched even for the Moff.

But I'm going to throw some names out there:

Andrew Lincoln - Egg in  This Life and Simon Casey in Teachers. However as he is currently appearing as Rick Grimes in the US series The Walking Dead which was announced as being renewed for a fourth season at the end of last year, so prying the star away, even at the end of that to start shooting might be too big a hiatus for Doctor Who fans who will be wanting new stories by spring of next year.

Russell Tovey - Of course Russell was last seen in the Doctor Who episode The End of Time when Midshipman Alonso Frame (previously seen on the Starship Titanic) was being chatted up by Captain Jack Sparrow. Of course Doctor Who have used actresses who have appeared elsewhere as companions, both Freeya Agyeman and Jenna-Louise Coleman (?) seemed to have appeared as another character before they became the companion. But it is rather out of character for the same to apply for the Doctor him/herself. Update: Overnight a friend did point out the exception to prove the rule Colin Baker had appeared as Commander Maxil in Arc of Infinity during his predecessor Peter Davison's stint in the Tardis.

Paterson Joseph - was in the frame last time and the Peep Show and William and Mary actor was then widely tipped as being the first non-white Doctor. He has of course already appeared in Doctor Who as Roderick in the Bad Wolf and Parting of the Ways episodes so has the same issue as Tovey above of no Doctor has previously appeared elsewhere in the cannon.

Rupert Grint - well he is ginger. The former Harry Potter Actor may be two years younger than Matt Smith was when he was announced as the eleventh Doctor but he has spent ten of the last twelve years in front of some very big cinema audiences while doing other work.

Tim Minchin - not an obvious choice but the comedian and musician does live here (after been born in Northampton to Australian parents). He's another ginger option and could bring a comic turn to the Doctor once again.

Finally if the Alex Kingston option is too far fetched and incestuous, there is another ginger actress who has been appearing a lot in BBC produced series who might fit the bill - Gillian Anderson. She appeared in the Crimson Petal and the White, Great Expectations and currently The Fall. However, while another series of The Fall has been commissioned she is also signed up for an upcoming US TV action/thriller series Crisis which is due to debut in January 2014. So there would be further contractual and scheduling issues to get the former X-Files actress to become The Doctor.