THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain

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Fiona Bruce has no problem with "lookism"

BBC's Fiona Bruce: 'If you look like the back end of a bus, you won't get the job' - Telegraph.


That's big of her. I would have no problem if there was suddenly a demand for tall, overweight, middle-aged TV presenters either. Unfortunately, it's harder to get the people who really need to accept "lookism" with a good grace to do so. Those are the ones who - unlike Ms. Bruce - have radio faces.Their complaints remind me of the silent movie stars with ugly voices whose careers ended with the advent of the "talkies."

Why do people (even the usually sound-thinking Mrs P) get upset about TV presenters being selected for their looks? Why spend a fortune designing a TV show to be visually-appealing; from the sets through the lighting to the attractive fonts for the opening titles, only to spoil it by featuring an unattractive presenter front and centre? TV is a visual medium. It's for looking at. Naturally, audiences favour presenters from whom they do not need to avert their gaze. TV cameras also add apparent weight, which is why so many "attractive" presenters so disappoint when viewed without an intervening lens.

Why does all this only apply to female presenters, you may snort? Any unfairness there, I am afraid, is entirely the fault of women. They have less developed aesthetic standards when it comes to the opposite sex. Such are the rewards of a TV career, however, that any male presenter will give off the attractive aura of the chap of whom, in Ms. Austen's immortal words;

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Are men to blame for such discrimination on the part of women? Is not such an attitude just as "unfair" as (and much less charming than) the male preference for a pretty face?

Antiques Roadshow was a tired, tedious programme well past its sell-by date. It was leavened only by an occasional laugh at a grasping punter pretending not to care how much his bric-a-brac was worth. Since Ms. Bruce took over, it has (at least in parts) become gripping entertainment and once more has an audience outside the old folks' homes. Good for her.

Blue meanies?

The Osterley Times: Abbey Road 40th Anniversary - London.

There was much coverage yesterday of the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' Abbey Road album cover. In some ways it was a classic "silly season" story, but as can be seen from the linked post, many really wanted to celebrate. And why not? It's a great album and the cover picture is one of the most recognisable images ever made.

Two local councillors, however, feel that it's time to end the odd little North London tourist attraction. Both of them, sadly, are Conservative. They won their 15 seconds of Telegraph fame by calling for the iconic zebra crossing to be removed, claiming tourists cause accidents there. The annual rate has risen from 18 to 22 in the course of a single decade; none fatal. Of course nothing else has happened to the traffic in North London since 1999 which might possibly account for a whopping 22% increase in cuts and scratches.

I wonder if they have even heard of the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy?

What is it about politics that attracts joyless, control-freaks? What hope for a freer, jollier, less dour British society if we simpy replace the nannyism of New Labour with the paternalism of the Tories? Will our politicians never learn to let it be?

Here, wearing the faces they keep in their jars by the door, are the Tory ladies in question.

Warner Hall

Step forward, Councillors Judith Warner and Lindsey Hall.

Oh darlings, as loyal subjects of Her Majesty, is there no way we can come together to bring the end to the golden slumbers of liberty in our country? Don't you want to stop having to carry that weight of being a grouch and a busybody? I don't pay council tax in your wards so you may say to me "You never give me your money", but nonetheless I want you to do something for me. As a Tory national victory approaches - I want to cry joyfully "here comes the sun", not feel I have to borrow Maxwell's silver hammer to fend off mean Mr Mustard. Polythene Pam feels the same way and she's your neighbour so does have a vote. You remember her. She came in through the bathroom window last week when she locked herself out. Anyway, here's the deal. I am tired of politicians endlessly interfering in our fun and games. I want to feel like the Sun King in my own country again. I don't want the tentacles of the state all over me, as if I were living in an octopus's garden.

So, please don't be blue meanies again.

Guardian TV poll: let's keep up the pressure

Poll: What's the best TV show of the decade 2000-09? | Media |

Come on, ladies and gentlemen, please click on the link above and infuriate the Guardianistas who are posting such exasperated comments as;

Top Gear is not fit to grace any list that has the likes of the office, the west wing and arrested development on it.

The Wire is catching up fast on Top Gear with one day of polling still to go, so if you want to see Jezza ending the show with the poll results and the words "...and on that bombshell..." you need to get over there and vote. Urging on family, friends and work colleagues, not to mention posting a link to the poll on your blog (and in comments to every blog you frequent) would do no harm either.

Annoy a Guardianista; vote now!

Poll: What's the best TV show of the decade 2000-09? | Media |

The Grauniad is having a poll on "the best TV show of the decade" and the results are annoying its precious journalists.

Monday 2pm: we are aware that there has been some *ahem* multiple voting and we are investigating how to eliminate this. In the meantime, please keep voting - legitimately

Oh, dear. How shocking. I am sure they would never have complained were, say, Andrew Marr's Sunday Socialist Sycophancy Show in the lead. So which show has people clicking so enthusiastically? Yes, there is justice in the Universe occasionally. It's the one they hate the most (click to enlarge). Delicious!

Guardian pain

Please go over there and add to their pain.

Susan Boyle in the Priory

Susan Boyle in the Priory - Telegraph.

In the Priory already? It didn't take SuBo long to get into the pop star groove, did it? I didn't know the famous clinic handled "emotional breakdowns" as well as providing "drying out" and "detox" services to the terminally-spoiled. Boyle may emerge with a heightened political awareness from exposure to emotionally-broken down MPs devastated by having been exposed as the lying, thieving, hypocrites they secretly always knew they were.

Will the Fees Office be as generous as the producers of "Britain's Got Talent" in picking up their bills though? After all, getting their heads together so they can deceive convincingly again is arguably more necessary to the performance of their duties as an MP than the majority of their fraudulent/unethical claims.

For some, it could be the first legitimate claim they have made in years.

A political beauty parade?

¿Quién es la política más linda del mundo? - Listas -




Beauty contests are really quite ludicrous. I have no ideological objection to them, as long as they are consensual, but human tastes are so wide in these matters that almost everyone in the world is beautiful to someone. Happy thought.

Judging by the current rankings, the readers of the tabloid running this frivolous online contest have their own, rather Hispanic, tastes. They are most welcome to them. For my money, the clear winner should be Yuliya Tymoshenko of the Ukraine. She combines severe beauty with intelligence, drive and a life force so powerful I can feel its presence from here in Moscow. A friend of mine used to work for her and has promised to introduce me at some point. That would provide an interesting blog post.

In second place, for my tastes, would come Sarah Palin (the only American politician who would be at home hunting bears with Prime Minister Putin). From the ones I had not previously heard of, I would have to select either Yuri Fujikawa of Japan or the delightfully named Ms Bonk of Germany for third place.

I do rather despair at the poses some of these elected legislators were prepared to strike for a camera. That they assume such frivolity is good for them electorally, says little for democracy. If you still believe in such pointless activities, voting is open at the time of writing. The Croydonian (to whom, a tip of the titfer) couldn't be bothered. Can you?

Head 'em up, move 'em out...

This brought back memories. At five to seven years old I was a devoted fan and Gil Favor (played by the late Eric Fleming) was my role model of choice. Of course, it was also the big break for one Clint Eastwood. Years later, for reasons too complicated to explain (it involved a lot of vodka), I led the assembled throng in a Warsaw restaurant in a rousing rendition of the splendid theme song - not realising that they knew it from the Blues Brothers rather than the TV show. It became a kind of theme song, sung at all the social events of my Polish team.

Thanks to Corporate Presenter for bringing it all back.

Memories are made of this

I was reminiscing with work colleagues today about how my parents banned me from watching The Avengers for a month because, as a fan of Diana Rigg, I complained when an episode was cancelled because of coverage of the assassination of JFK. They say everyone remembers where they were. I was in my bedroom, grounded because of my disrespect for the late President. In fairness, I was only six.

MarilynmonroeHistory subsequently showed my parents' reverence for President Kennedy to have been somewhat misplaced. We can forgive him many things, but surely never for inspiring  such unworthy emulators.

Lotus_elanOne of my colleagues went to YouTube to find out what had so appealed to me about the show. I am not sure it's to be found in this clip. Much as I was impressed by Ms Rigg's undoubted charms, as a confirmed young petrolhead (no-one believes me, but my first words really were "Mercedes Benz") I think it was the Lotus Elan I was actually in love with.

Crazy People (1990)

Link: Crazy People (1990).

Mrs Paine and I were recalling the film "Crazy People" this morning. Older readers will remember it was about a stressed ad executive (Dudley Moore) who enjoys surprising success when his fellow mental patients help him devise such honest slogans as:

"Volvos; they're boxy but they're safe"

We wondered what would happen if political parties took the same approach and over breakfast we came up with:

Labour (pace Sir Bob Geldof):    

Give us your ******* money!


If you like being dumped on, vote for us


We're not nasty anymore, but we could be.

I am sure you must have better suggestions.