Friday, 28 May 2010

The Scheme

"Is all of Scotland like this?" said my intrepid viewing partner, sitting through this in order to make me feel less disturbingly alone.

"No," said I, with a biting sarcasm that was, of course, the reason she was watching with me in the first place, "Only the nice bits."

Yes, it's everyone's favourite reality TV show, "The Scheme", leading a one show rebellion against jollity and promoting what can only be described as a wilfully depressive existence. The show follows 6 families in Kilmarnock, all of whom seem to gravitate towards drugs and jail. And smoking. It may seem a minor point, but I don't think I saw anyone in the show who didn't smoke, which means it's lost its element of coolness, and has become disturbingly symptomatic of "living in a council house".

You see, it's really rather difficult to watch this show without being incredibly aware of your own elitism. It almost exists solely to remind people of our eternal class system, fuelled by torrid existences for youngsters on council estates who will either become adults on housing estates, or be in jail. Which is heartbreaking when you consider that they managed to find the world's single cutest child, and then go "She's going to be like all the rest of them, ahaha", displayed in an agonising realisation about 10 seconds after you meet her. "Aw, she's ADORABLE. And soon, she'll be on drugs or in prison!"

That said, there was the tale of one man, who rose against this, and, despite his drinking and jail sentences, became a rather inspirational turnaround tale. What depressed me (and him) is that he could see his kids going down the same route and he couldn't save them. His eldest was shipped off to prison pretty early on (With the ensuing father-son bonding session on how to smuggle tobacco around in prison), and another (an absolute wanker called Chris) doing battle with drug-dealers over debt and smashing up people's cars. I have never felt more sorry for anyone in my existence, he turned his life around and was trying to help his kids, and they're just unrelentingly stupid.

He's a Professor at the University of Life (Graduating from the School of Hard Knocks with honours) trying to bestow his wisdom onto uncaring students who appear to turn up to about half the lectures drunk, then escape through a window (To explain the relevance of that, at one point, Chris flees the police through a window. They weren't after him, but my GOD, he couldn't scream "Guilty as sin" any harder if he walked into a police station weeping and saying "I never meant to kill him", whilst holding a bloodied knife). Fortunately, his daughter seems in good shape, which pleased me delightfully.

Another note I garnered from watching this show. All of the people have really nice things. The only one I could describe as living with bad things was Marvin, and even then, he had a lovely dog. We had the story of Kay, a former factory worker, now unemployed (And taking in stray homeless people like most people would pick up milk on their way home) who, without any discernible means of income, managed to furnish her house with two televisions about the same size as my bed, a loft conversion and a couple of cars. I'm not saying "There's something fishy there" or "Blimey, benefits are a bit generous", just surprised.

All in all, then, if you want to be reminded there is a very discernible class system in the UK, snuggle down with a mug of nice, warm cocoa and watch this, or go to McDonalds (Any McDonalds) on a Saturday afternoon, around four. Don't touch anything, the vast array of man-made fibres will give you a colossal static shock, but just look and go "Ah yes. The class system in action.". In all honesty, this show will probably be used as evidence of a class system in 21st century Britain in much the same way as the Black Book Exchequer (1186 AD) is used as evidence for Feudalism in 12th century England, but if you feel you can tolerate this, and can either translate the accents (I sometimes feel as though the signer for the deaf would just look at the camera with a bemused puzzlement indicating that your guess is as good as his) or have access to subtitles, then the show is well worth watching.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Junior Apprentice

As I sit here on my Amstrad PC, I'm writing about Lord Alan Sugar's latest venture into the open waters of television armed with little more than a polystyrene float and some neon orange armbands; Junior Apprentice. Of course, I'm not actually on an Amstrad, because I have never seen anything made by the company, which is apparently improbably successful, despite being created by Alan Sugar and judging by my personal encounters with the stuff, manufacturing nothing.

Junior Apprentice is, as it says, The Apprentice. With juniors. Juniors younger than me, as depressing a thought as that is. They're all 16 or 17, despite looking between about 12 and 20-something (I'm looking at Bearded Tim there). The show is like the adult version, in that Big Al sets the teams a task that they'll completely ignore in light of the bigger task: covering their own arses and bitching vehemently about the other contestants, or as the show jovially puts it "Business instinct". Interestingly, none of the kids smiled, because business is apparently as austere as a 19th century family dinner. They'll probably take this footage, edit out the bits with Amstrad Al and show it on channel 5 under the title "The kids that couldn't smile", right before "The Woman who had a beard" as part of their docu-freakshow season.

Obviously, the stars of the show are imbued with that unique brand of self-confidence having no appreciable skills bestows upon you.

Lipstick Zoe opted for the charming introduction of "I am a charismatic and vivacious person", which, by virtue of the fact that it is her saying it and not a good friend putting in a wonderful testimony, makes me think she's lying. Describing yourself as charismatic ranks up there with announcing your modesty in the same sentence as your achievements in the battle against cancer in terms of probable truth.

Anyways, a rundown of the stars, along with key character traits and irritating nicknames.

Bearded Tim, my personal favourite, purely because he's the only male who doesn't look like he fell out of a pram and onto the set. Probably alright at business, who really cares? He owns sheep. Essentially prides himself on domesticating animals, a several thousand year old human achievement. Next week he may invent the wheel or fire, and stop living the nomadic lifestyle.

Lipstick Zoe, charismatic and memorable in much the same way as someone who comes to your wedding purely to urinate on your dress (I probably shouldn't be wearing a dress, but also they'd do it to the bride) and push the cake over sticks in your memory. Seemed to be competent in the art of selling, being selfish and aloof and killing people to turn their blood into preposterously red lipstick (The last one is just a guess, but given her ruthless nature (And the impossibly red lipstick she has, words can't even describe it, link to her profile on the BBC apprentice website), perhaps not entirely far off the truth).

Jordan Norton, already gone after only one week, but his shiny grey suit and Irish campness made me call him Graham Norton for the whole episode, and then disgustingly, he went and turned out to be not very good at business, and lost. I was looking forward to seeing more of Jordan, but alas, not to be.

Senior Prefect Arjun, the maths whizz-kid who is also a senior prefect at school (I know what you're thinking, but no, he can't come for a night out because his schedule is already packed with them) and apparently "Charming people without letting them know his ulterior motives" by "Mirroring them" is a special skill he possesses. Sadly, it's impossible to mirror me through a television, and so this charm failed magnificently. Again, probably alright at business.

Rhys "Tosser" Rosser, singularly the most mutinous team member I've ever seen on any TV show, like watching a person on "Hole in the Wall" leap into the water, then pop up and scream "You pushed me!" at the team captain. Given the nature of the Apprentice, I expect him to go depressingly far. Just watched his interview tape. Either it was edited peculiarly harshly or he said "I don't need to backstab, I can beat them all." as his final words. I laughed at him.

Cockney Adam, appeared to sell stuff. Typical cockney stall owner. Said a gem of a sentence: "Women love cheese." apparently. Not particularly memorable, forgot to include him on this list, then opted to come back and add him purely for that sentence.

Extortionate Hibah, told us she wants to combine her love of business with her love of medicine and start up a plastic surgery clinic and charge "Extortionate prices" (We'll cover that in a sec) rather than, say, helping the world through a combination of business and medicine, by selling simple things to impoverished nation at cost price or something similar. "Extortionate" is the key word that stuck with me from her. Either she openly admitted she wants to charge more than is really fair for plastic surgery, or she plans to blackmail her customers. Either way, it's a pretty poor business practice. Rule 1: Never use the word "Extortionate" to describe your own pricing plans (Unless you're an honest mobile-phone contract salesman, am I right? Eh?). Not a long-term hope, I don't think.

The other girls, Decidedly bland and impressively, average in their mediocrity. Expect to see them occasionally, and rack your brains wondering who they were. Possibly a dark horse winner in there. Possibly not.

Anyways, there's your rundown of the key personalities to find utterly mesmerising in their hatefulness, I hope you're looking forward to the whole sordid affair as much as I am, because if you're not, that means you are looking forward to it to any degree more than "Not at all" and clearly need to get outpatient treatment for the unwanted side-effects of your lobotomy.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

When Chris Moyles Met the Radio 1 DJs

Having sat through Chris Moyles' Quiz Night with, I must admit, some trepidation, but ultimately being rewarded, like a six year old who sits quietly at the dinner table and gets some sweeties and a pat on the head afterwards, I sauntered into Chris Moyles' newest venture, a history of the Radio 1 breakfast slot expecting roughly the same outcome. I sat quietly all the way through the dinner, and at the end, someone smashed me in the face with a cricket bat and stole my juice.

First off, and I would like to make this abundantly clear, Chris Moyles should not be presenting documentaries, be they about radio, or wolfing down pies, or his other areas of expertise. He's decent enough as a radio presenter, but somehow I kind of prefer other documentary makers (Even Louis Theroux, and as far as I can work out he just goes round to a fat person's house and goes "Wow, you're fat!" and "How did you let yourself get so fat?" or an old person going "Wow, you're old!" and "What's it like being so old?", etcetera) to a radio presenter.

Let me make an argument. It may not be very important, but radio presenters are by and large, not very interesting. And those that are refused to appear on the show (Chris Evans being a prime example. I'd like to imagine he refused the call going "Documentary about Radio 1? Sounds interesting, who's hosting? Chris Moyles? Really? I'm terribly afraid I'm busy being successful." and an element of "I don't really want to discuss when I went totally mental") and so we were left with about 8 DJs telling us about their time with Radio 1, all set against a backdrop of Britain between 1980 and about 2003.

We started with Mike Read, who told us a story about playing guitar with Cliff Richard in front of Princess Diana and her kids whilst abroad skiing, but wasn't allowed to say it on the radio because at the time, it was too "Name-droppy", not like nowadays, where it's "Celebrity". Chris audibly gasped, which amused me (if you're watching this show, you have to take a lot of pleasure in the small things), then I realised that he wasn't actually going to say that it is STILL a tad name-droppy, and shouted at Chris Moyles for letting that slide. I mean, I know Moyles isn't exactly Paxman, but even I went "Ha, you think that's not name-dropping?" at Mike Read.

Once Mike Read finished telling the story of the time he and the Pope saved Margaret Thatcher (not really, I made that story up.) we skipped along with a post-interview soliloquy by Moyles, in a manner not dissimilar to a slick radio link, as we went to our next dull Radio 1 DJ: Mike Smith.

Mike Smith (Or Smithy, according to the voiceover) hosted the show for 2 years, and is now completely uninvolved with radio, the only one with the good sense to just pack it in and start a helicopter school (This is a man I feel probably has a few stories to tell, but was limited to talking solely about Radio 1, then coerced into saying "I miss it" by Moyles going "Do you miss it?!" incessantly.) and since he was at the station for 2 years and had a relatively uneventful time there, the interview was padded out with Chris Moyles going in a helicopter, even though he hates flying, and then another soliloquy throughout which Chris is swept away in his car and tells us that Smithy really misses radio, then another swift, smooth link to Simon Mayo.

It was around this time I zoned out, and I genuinely can't remember what happened over the next 40 minutes of the show. It wasn't so suitably dreadful as to be enthralling, it wasn't so suitably entertaining as to be amusing, I ended up watching it to pass the time, another brief moment of dullness snatched from the gaping jaws of possibility. It was decidedly mediocre, no more, no less. If it were on say, the 4-5 slot on BBC 2, I would go "Yeah, that's about right, it's daytime-tastic" (Although, that said, Pointless is a magnificent daytime TV show, as is Bargain Hunters. There's some gems on the telly during the day, I even liked Goldenballs on ITV, but the rules were more longwinded and needlessly complex than a new Mahjong-Cluedo crossover game which must be played only with people proficient in Bridge, as there is some elements from that in there too.) but to put this show, boldly, on at 9 o'clock in the evening as part of a fully fledged "Radio 1 night" (I swear to goodness, I'm not making this up) is essentially madness.

Perhaps my hopes were raised too high by Chris Moyles' Quiz night, maybe this isn't his sort of format, who knows, what I can tell you is I watched this and was disappointed thatit was so bland and mediocre. I prefer outrageous failure and overambition to repetitive drudgery, and perhaps this is where the BBC fails.

Electoral Reform (The PR debate)

For those of you who read what this was before then got to the socio-political commentary and went "Tsk, this has all become a bit serious" (And those of you squeeing frantically, breathlessly whispering "It gets less serious?" in a state of disbelief) there was no way I could possibly have discontinued my ramblings on politics without discussing the latest craze to hit the electorate: Proportional Representation.

There are marches, and letters, and rallies, and there's generally quite the hullabaloo about the whole shindig. People seem genuinely excited about the idea of Proportional Representation, apparently just realising the current system is weighted towards allowing a 2 party system to flourish because of Nick Clegg's policies. The Lib Dems really have the most to gain from proportional representation, due to their middling-to-good vote record and their bad-to-dreadful allocation of seats. There's a delightful statistic about the number of votes each party got per seat. The Tories got 35k votes/seat, Labour got 33.4k votes/seat, whilst Lib Dem got 120k votes/seat. A slight imbalance showing that Lib Dem have the most to gain by proportional representation, whilst labour would lose the most of the main parties (Green would do well too, because they have 286k votes/seat).

So the public thinks proportional representation is the way forward, so I'm surprised Easy Dave didn't sell out the Conservatives in order for votes. As any hung-parliament-scaremonger will tell you, proportional representation rarely delivers the firm, strong majority government this nation needs to not plummet into a chaotic and anarchistic existence where politicians run amok, watering down policies (Some less wilfully horrendous people (as in, people who don't write for the Mail or the Sun) might just say universal agreement is a good idea) and so forth, and these scaremongers would probably be right; no party has won more than 50% of the vote since the Conservatives in 1931, when they got 55%, and the last time before that was before women got the vote.

So proportional representation leads to hung parliaments, but on the upside, it tends to provide a more accurate reflection of the nation's voting habits, because in this election there was no real winner. But in a much more real sense, they were all losers, Cameron didn't win enough seats, Labour lost loads of seats, and Clegg got lots of votes, but the current system gave him very few seats.

Clegg's plight highlights how unfair the current system actually is. Many people would have been voting Labour purely because they didn't want Cameron to ascend to power, other voting Conservative in protest at the Labour government (It's often said oppositions do not win elections, governments lose them. I can think of no greater example than the fact people wilfully voted in David Cameron), but it's generally accepted that a vote for the Lib Dems is a wasted vote under the current system, whereas if proportional representation were brought in, perhaps more people would vote logically rather than tactically, using their vote as an "Anti-vote", a vote against something rather than for something.

Of course there are many PR-systems, the one currently used in Scotland, Wales and London is MMP, other PR alternatives (Such as single transferable vote, another good choice) are available, but I think the key point is people are aware the current system is unfair, and want a review of the whole system, and really, people want change.

Seriousness over. Tonight "When Moyles Met the Radio 1 Breakfast DJs" is on. I'm guessing you can already predict my opinion of the show. I'm excited already.

David Cameron

The man at the head of this Conservative revival is the Rt. Hon. David "Call me Dave" Cameron, MP. He has been the leader of the Conservatives since December 2005. The direct descendant of an actual King of England (William the fourth, not particularly important or memorable, but still, a king nevertheless), he has somehow convinced the nation that he is the man to lead us into a new dawn of success.

The Conservatives are traditionalists with a repugnant air of neo-liberalism about them. They've traded in their ideals for votes in a manner so similar to Tony Blair of 1997, I'm surprised they didn't just call themselves "New Conservatives". The similarities between Blair and Cameron are pretty obvious, both pretty moderate within their own party's views and once leader, opting for things which will no doubt annoy their supporters whilst raking undecided "I would vote liberal but they'll never win" voters in (don't even get me started on the people who vote Lab/Con to screw the other party, rather than voting for the Liberals, as they wish to, but hey, political reform can be an issue for another post). Despite the fact it's been less than 3 years since Blair left, this has been long enough for the people to forget why he was reviled in public, and elect in his Conservative counter-part. I'd be surprised if they didn't come in boxes that Lord Mandelson and Lord Ashcroft buy, then make at home with glue. I'd like to imagine they come in a little box marked with "Just add Oxbridge!" and a little picture of the door to number 10. "Conservative model comes with free Eton-education!".

Unsurprisingly, I'm not a massive fan of Dav-o. If I was in the same room as him, I think I would punch him. I wouldn't make solid contact of course, because my hand would just slip off his shiny, smooth face. It would be like punching a balloon. I'd like to his imagine his eyes glow red then, and he kills me with his bare hands as I rip off his facemask and reveal the robotic features beneath.

That so many conservative posters were (hilariously) vandalised in a manner designed to make him look as disturbingly un-electable as possible I think shows our collective dislike of him.

Of course, his ride to Number 10 hasn't been easy, he's had to give up shooting and hunting, and stamping on commoners and whatever else he used to call a Tuesday. He's also had some clangers as Tory leader, the 2006 scandal where he cycled to work, whilst a car drove just yards behind him, carrying his briefcase. Of course he is a keen cyclist, we know this, because all keen cyclists lock up their bikes properly, and not stupidly, to say, a bollard. That would be the act of an utter imbecile, who has enough money to just buy a new bike, because his old one was stolen because he couldn't lock it up properly.

This is because Cameron is more style than substance, an actor. He is no more concerned with your council tax than he is with the weather. And he only cares about the weather because he plans to go sailing this afternoon. The recent lack of clampdowns on homophobic MPs shows he's acting. "I say Philip, old boy" he pipes. "These homosexuals, could you try not to be so frightfully mean in public? Tell the press I've had a word with you, and you're very sorry. Use 'Repent'. The proles won't know it". The trouble is the voters appear to like actors more than politicians.

Also, I like that Wikipedia boldly has a section entitled "Allegations of social elitism" in Big Dave's page, because if only utilising his old-Etonian friends and Oxbridge graduates in your party is social elitism, those allegations are pretty substantial.

And, of course, he has a face like an enchanted pancake.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Election Results

Well, the results are in, and since I'm young and hip I watched the Alternative Election Show on channel 4 (Channel 5 was the only real alternative election coverage, opting for no coverage whatsoever, interestingly.) which basically involved the first hour being an explanation of the election process, then the next 3 hours involved attempted humour (After 10 the "Purdah" is lifted, allowing coverage to be less impartial) and people discussing the election.

At 1 am, Channel 4's stars had run out of things to say, so I flicked across to David Dimbleby's team of reporters, which was rather exciting. Essential viewing for election coverage, although bizarrely, they seemed to lock Jeremy Vine in a green-screen room. He appears to exist solely in virtual worlds, to the extent I imagine he shipped with the original Nintendo Virtualboy. What a great game that would be. "Pave the road to Downing Street with tiles labelled after constituencies!" is a tagline guaranteed to rope in any budding politicians. David Cameron never actually played, of course, he had a servant act it out in front of him, but what else would you expect from a direct descendant of King William the fourth?

Disappointingly, I spent the evening grinding my teeth, before exploding into a fit of apoplectic rage when the Conservatives got over 300 seats. Secretly, of course, I was hoping for a Tory majority government, because if the SNP fail to call a referendum on Scottish independence now, with an unpopular Westminster party in power which has a single seat in Scotland, they are even stupider than I give them credit for, and looking at the Edinburgh Tram Project, that's a level of incompetence I daren't even consider. I daresay the other Celtic nations would be looking at similar ideas, although the Welsh Plaid Cymru (Their aim is not, apparently independence, at least, not in such a strong term, merely a seat at EU and UN discussions as a full nation.) are not actually in power at the Welsh Assembly, so they cannot use the Welsh Assembly to re-evaluate their relationship with England.

So the Tories are in power, almost entirely due to the English. Conservatives got a total of 9 out of 99 seats in Scotland and Wales, while Lib Dem got 14 and Labour got 67. Equally, Plaid Cymru and the SNP got 9 seats in total in Wales and Scotland (I'm adding them together as "Parties that stand for independence in their nations"), which suggests the people of Wales and Scotland want Independence as much as they want a Conservative government, and that anti-Tory sentiment is much stronger in Scotland, where they recieved 1 of 59 seats.

This is all very well and good, but quite dull and a bit statistic-y. To be honest, the whole election is little more than a statistician's wet dream, crunching vote numbers and gains and losses and so forth. My calculator is moist with excitement.

As a summary then, a Tory-led hung parliament could EASILY lead to Scotland gaining independence if the SNP play their cards right (Mr Salmond, who might possibly read this, should highlight the injustice that our votes were disregarded. With the right wording, we could easily see people in the street demanding a referendum more than the government would really like) and usher in a new dawn for Scotland.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


I feel I can't ignore this for too long or I completely forget about it, the mark of a completely amateurish half-hearted person (Some might boldly claim "Writer", if they were feeling reckless to a degree as yet unrecorded by science), so I bring you essentially an interim report whilst I struggle to consider topics for another post.

I could discuss the election, and the pressing urgency that no-one vote Conservative, but since I'm Scottish, I feel this would be a moot point, and since I've read a bit about the election (Just a tad, it's tucked away in the back pages of the papers, except the Sun, which will doubtless stitch up Nick Clegg like a kipper on the front covers), I assume you have too, and thus, my ill-informed opinion will be useless to you.

So I've opted to write about Charity. "Charity?" I hear you question through the medium (pun not intended, noticed, and left in) of psychic powers, "Charity? But surely, charity is the cornerstone of society, lending a helping hand to those who need it most. You couldn't possibly say anything different about charity without sounding both Scrooge-like and alarmingly dismissive of proles", because you like to cast me fondly in your mind as an aloof character, spending my time between hunting and shooting crushing the hopes of commoners (Insert Conservative MP joke).

To put your mind at ease, and to teach you for jumping to conclusions, I'm not going to badmouth charity, it is, as you said yourself, one of the cornerstones of society. I merely question its methodology, and I was inspired by the recent London Marathon, which essentially involved a collection of people dressing up like fools, and running for charity. Sounds pleasant enough, but I query the fact these people have to dress up as a rhino, then run 26 miles, before you will donate to their charity. I imagine, of course, that it's to show some level of self-sacrifice by the people asking you for money.

"Oi, Dave!" I hear my fictional character Jim yell down the "Local boozer", "Dave, I'm runnin' the London marafon!", and then Dave turns his head and goes "Yeah?" and Jim goes "Yeah! Dave, you couldn't give us a quid for the starvin' kids of Africa, could you, eh?" and Dave, in front of the entire pub, can either go "No." and seem like a heartless git to everyone there and never function normally down there again, eventually having to move pubs and uproot his entire family to move in a different borough, but he'll tell "the wife" it's for the schools, but it's just because no-one in his local likes him. Or he could say "Yeah, sure, course Jim, you only have to ASK!", and be bonded to everyone at the local at a great financial cost, coming home drunk to his wife, who can't pay the bills, and getting kicked out. Homeless, he asks Jim for a place to stay for a while, and eventually leaves Linda for a younger woman, and everyone thinks he's a git for trading in his wife for a "Newer model".

Either way, Dave loses. And I like Dave. I don't want to see him in distress. Why would you force this on Dave?

I'll happily donate to charity for nothing more than the warm-hearted, benevolent image I work tirelessly to maintain, but I'm unlikely to do so because Jim's dressing up as a cat and jogging round a bit. Jim, if I was going to give to Oxfam, I already would have.

So in summary, give money to charity, don't trust people who do silly things in exchange for money for charity, it's essentially a medium of guilting you into it. "I'm running a marathon and you can't even give ONE pound, you heartless old Scrooge!", despite the fact I have no spare money because I'm spending it at the charity shops.

On a lighter note, charity shops are an excellent place to pick up cheap books and DVDs. If you want something to read, I can highly recommend buying a book, and then reading it and giving it back. It's like a library you donate money to charity for every time you use it. Magnificent.

Sunday, 2 May 2010


In recent weeks, people seem to have suddenly remembered that the Liberal Democrats do, in fact, have a leader, in the form of Nick Clegg. This has caused quite the stir in the media, with Murdoch's papers opting for "Nick Who?" until the first election debate, when they opted instead to embrace an openly hostile front against him, claiming his private education makes him unelectable, and we should vote for old-Etonian David Cameron instead. The other papers, in general, started to offer more accurate critiques of his style than "He's Libdem, so we can ignore him", leading to a media frenzy over Nick Clegg.

Nick Clegg, preaching for change in this nation, is vaguely reminiscent of a British Obama, inspiring the youth to register to vote, and to vote Libdem, even getting the Guardian to offer a full endorsement of them (Link), which is the first national endorsement I've ever seen of the Libdems. Change is afoot people.

Part of this is his natural charisma, which leaves David Cameron looking insincere, and since Gordon Brown is about as charismatic as a broken fencepost, Clegg is the only one who came out of the debates as a likeable and progressive idealist with an apparently sincere concern for the voters.

He was of course, aided by the Conservatives and Labour taking political shots at each other all the way through the thing, a fact Clegg showed with his role of exasperated politician, tired of this nonsense and just wanting to represent the common man, while Cameron and Brown were looking likely to break out into fisticuffs.

He has mobilised the youth of the nation out of this apathy, part of which I put down to the current first past the post system which Libdems want changed. If you didn't vote for who won, your vote is essentially disregarded in the grand scheme of things. If you didn't vote for the winner, you might as well not vote, so un-established parties will almost never get a look in, and people will feel their presence voting is wasted if they aren't voting Labour or Conservative. Proportional Representation is a better system, and although mathematically, it's difficult to find a perfect system, it'd be "Fairer" (To use the Nick Clegg catchphrase) if every vote really counted, and incentivised us to vote Libdem.

It's fair to say that politics has descended horrendously into a club, where you come in, you're set for life, then you leave on a generous pension, and in a safe seat, there's no motive to truly fight for your constituents, because who are they going to elect instead? Nick Clegg's promise of being able to kick out an MP is a good one, they are meant to represent our best interests, not their own. Fundamentally I disagree with party politics, it encourages people to look after their own advancement in the party before looking after the people, but the LibDems are promising a different system, hopefully better.

I've become disillusioned with politics, and I'm not really voting LibDem, I'm voting for change. A change to how things are done in parliament. If the Tories truly represented change, instead of their disgusting practice of preaching it in the form of posters, but practicing nothing. They are so staunchly anti-change with respect to the voting system, they seem like time-travellers from 1894. "Another voting system?! There is no such thing, surely!" which could explain why David Cameron was staring at the camera with an air of bemusement in the latter elections. "A moving picture box, you say? How marvellous! Excuse me, I must shoot some things", something his election campaign neglected to mention. "Vote Cameron, great guy, excellent shot". Their hilarious inability to treat homosexuals with any modicum of respect ("Get out of my B&B, you not normal person, and get to a church set up to cure gays!") should demonstrate that.

So a vote for LibDem is a vote for change, and I'm guessing by the numbers polls are reporting, REAL change is what many of us desire.

Vote for Nick, he's just a Cleggular guy! The Libdem campaign should go for the Cleggular, and leave Cameron with Clegg on his face!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Doctor Who

Doctor Who, I have ardently chirped from the branches of superiority, is for children. "It's about a time-travelling hero armed with a screwdriver which appears to solve every problem ever thought of, doing battle with inter-galactic monstrosities" I cried, in a long-winded slogan of indifference towards the whole thing.

In an effort to turn what was a mild apathy about the whole thing into a full-blown hatred of it, I watched this series like an avid viewer might, from episode one through five and I can honestly say I genuinely enjoyed it. Sure there's little niggles about the whole thing, but in general, it was captivating, amusing and generally a worthwhile excursion into the imagination of the writers.

The writing is, in general, pretty good at setting a sense of tension so utterly palpable it didn't glue me to my chair so much as force me down. The last episode was a two-parter about Weeping Angels (Essentially, you have to look at them, or they kill you.) which was so terrifying I had nightmares for days. By the start of tonight's second part, I was thinking "If the Doctor doesn't kill the Weeping Angels, I will never sleep again". I also realised I referenced him as "The Doctor" rather than Doctor Who, and knew I had been taken in.

However, the one region the writing does let me down (And this may only be my complaint) is in what I cheerfully describe as "Assistant's Syndrome". The Assistant inevitably falls wildly in love with The Doctor, that's always a given. Equally, the Assistant has an unerring ability to find the most pressing danger, and immediately offer themselves up like lambs to the slaughter, all while under the misapprehension this shows bravery rather than boneheaded idiocy. This causes the Doctor to divert his efforts away from saving Delta-1 or some other planet, and saving one fairly thick girl. By the end of the episode, I was practically willing her to die in increasingly stupid ways. "Assistant" is a misnomer, given that I rarely see her help. I prefer "Force of unimaginable distraction".

So the writing in regard to the general relationship the Doctor and the Assistant has is pretty formulaic, but I can accept that in respect to the other writing, which is chaotic and inventive, occasionally witty and very engrossing. The whole show feels very tightly put together, like they start with a plan for it then work around that, and whilst at a very obvious level it follows the pattern of "Doctor doesn't want any trouble, is roped in against a group of unknowable evil, appears to be losing, pulls out magic trick, saves day" while we also have the whole assistant thing in the background, the magic trick is usually something you weren't expecting, and the group of unknowable evil is generally pants-wettingly terrifying.

I can't comment on Matt Smith, since I've not watched any other Doctor, but he seems generally efficient at being Doctor Who, I guess. The Assistant I hate, because of her role of "Get in trouble, get saved, possibly save day", but I can't really fault Karen Gillian for that, and since I assume that's the image the writers wanted, she is portraying the part sublimely.

Disappointingly, then, the show is good, the acting is good, it's Saturday night television for all the family which is both interesting and sort-of intellectually challenging, which is why I enjoy it. "It's for kids" still rings true, but that doesn't mean adults can't revel in a few minutes of idle amusement. I heartily recommend it, despite its niggling flaws.