Archive for December 31st, 2006

I am at The Bollo…

I am at The Bollo. It is 8.05 and I feel like a BBC ’embedded’ reporter in a war zone. The mood is tense and expectant. No-one here is sure what is going to happen tonight. Bar crew have been preparing for an influx of drinkers with a precision I was able to witness first hand. I saw the Stella and Champagne bottles being loaded into the shelves. I counted them in..and, later, I will count them out.

We know that there will be a large number of ‘revellers’ appearing later. A Japanese TV reporter I spoke to earlier (a Japanese station appears to be covering the event) told me that he felt they would come over the hill like Zulus…’thousands of ’em’, at about 9.00. In the meantime, we can only wait…

8.25 pm first wave starts…

I am standing at the Bar. In front of me is a small notice board which advertises ‘shots’. We saw the first signs of action a few moment ago… a quick strike… a group of young women drinking pints…

8.45 pm. I have just had a quick drink with Tim Graveney – who popped in for a quick one. He knows about cricket. I shall not, however refer to the cricket, save to report an email (cleaned up slightly) which I received the other day.

A young boy is sitting in class. He looks sad and depressed. The teacher goes over to him and asks “Why are you looking so sad.”

The boy turns to her and says “My dad is a pole dancer in a nightclub.”

The teacher, taken aback, and slightly shocked says “Are you telling the truth?”

“No”, replied the boy “He is playing cricket for England, but I was too embarrassed to tell you that.”

9.00 pm Just a jump to the left.

“It’s astounding
Time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
But listen closely”

The noise of horns and the crack of crackers is like a Turner painting… a snow storm, a maelstrom….. I can barely think. Smoke rises from the tables and the build up to the ‘shock and awe’ of the New Year has begun…

A man dressed in a corset, high heels and stockings, who appears to be commanding the latest group to secure their position in this West London gastropub, told me that it was only a matter of time to a new world… and that he was watching the position closely. He may have been a Navy Seal.. he may have been SAS. It didn’t matter. He seemed to know what he was doing. I turned to ask him another question… but he had gone…

9.30… the power is waning…

I am still at the Bar… the final waves have arrived. It was precise, almost surgical… It has not been easy to report live from The Bollo… I am getting some unusual looks… my battery is dying… I may be gone for some time…

10.11 pm… Returned to The Staterooms

I left The Bollo a few minutes ago… and have returned to my Staterooms in West London. I was a bit hungry – and was fortunate in finding some cheese in one of my fridges – a Red Leicester.. and some Jacob’s crackers. I had, of course, anticipated eating a three course meal tonight – but… that was not to be. So… Jacob’s crackers and cheese it is!

I am now drinking La Rioja Vina Ardanza 1994 – I had a case of it a short while ago, a gift from a good friend. I don’t appear to have much of the case left. It is delicious…and gives one a clarity of thought and exposition… It reminds me of our European history and how we took many hundreds of years to become democratic – to the point where David Cameron can announce today, that he wants the Conservative Party to represent working people… excellent idea…. wonder why Tony didn’t think of it first.

10.27 pm… Romania and Bulgaria join the EU.

It is highly unlikely that I would, in any other circumstance, have posted on this blog that Romania and Bulgaria have joined the EU. But… I just happened to click the BBC website to find something interesting to read or watch and saw this announcement. I understand, given that H M Government miscalculated the number of Polish emigrants when Poland joined, that we are restricting the right of Bulgarians and Romanians to work in the UK? I may have misread a report along the way. I read the BBC story – but just cannot be bothered to analyse it…. so, if you are minded to do so (to see how strict the EU is going to be with the new entrants and learn about ‘waning enthusiasm’ for expansion – here is the story.)

If you a ‘europhobe’… this map will irritate the hell out of you! Great BBC graphic!

I really am off now… to watch Jools Holland, eat Red Leicester cheese and drink a glass or two or Rioja.. Happy New Year.

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I am delighted to see the back of 2006. Curiously, because of a cock up on arrangements, changes of plans, illness and alcohol abuse – I shall be spending New Year alone… well.. I may go to The Bollo for a few drinks – as I still have my table booked and I will take my laptop and blog from there as the Rioja takes effect.

On the other hand, I may just stay in… and read The All England Law reports or Modern Law Review. We shall see.

Happy New Year to all who visit and contribute with comments…

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They hanged Saddam…

On Saturday 30th December, at dawn, they hanged Saddam. The moralo-philosophic issue is clear – at least to the people of nations who no longer use the death penalty and those who are opposed to the death penalty on moral grounds. World reaction has been varied. How did you feel when you heard the news?

I woke at 6.00 this morning – later than usual. The news depressed me because I feel that we have been diminished by this war and the very public execution of a man who brought misery and death to many. (I leave the issue of ‘legality of the war’ to one side for this post.)

The very specific point I make (The wider issues are known to us all – whatever your view) is that it is simply not good enough for The Foreign Secretary to issue a statement that ‘We’, as a country, are opposed to the death penalty, but, at the same time, state that Saddam has been ‘called to account.’ I do not criticise the Foreign Secretary for doing so. I simply feel that our Prime Minister should have made the statement.  Blair took us into this war, with the support of many, and he should represent us as the spokesman of Britain in this very public execution and ‘incident of policy and war’.
Pretty well every other world leader made a statement on the position of the country which they represent – from what I could glean from the net. It is unlikely that the British Government was not informed that Saddam was to be executed this morning. So why was it left to the Foreign Secretary to make a statement? Perhaps I am out of step on this one? It would not have taken much time for Blair to do a piece to camera or send a statement to the ‘apparatus of government’ – he usually manages to get his views through, even, if you will forgive the ‘gallows irony’, he wants to bury the news he is putting out. What was Blair doing today? Sun bathing? Playing his guitar?

What is my position on the execution? I suspect very similar to many…

I am opposed to the use of the death penalty on moral grounds (I am not a religious man) so I cannot condone the use of the death penalty in Iraq – however much I might understand the suffering of those who suffered under Saddam.

If you really want to see how ‘agonising’ it was for TV and Press to cover the execution of Saddam … read this rather tawdry story from the International Herald Tribune..

Here is one quote from the story..

“I didn’t want them to rush into it,” Capus said. “I wanted them to be cautious. I didn’t think there was anything to be gained by being first with the pictures of the body.”
EDIT>>>  Inevitably, a full un-cut version of the execution was on the net within hours – taken with a mobile phone.

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