Stuff that doesn't fit in another category

Back to Normality – ish…

Phew! What a blast NaNoWriMo was! I know regular visitors here will have seen the protected posts kicking around, they’re the temporary storage for the project now formally known as Script WIP. NaNo didn’t so much provide me with a novel as 50,000+ words of basics for a script that I now want to polish up as a TV series for CBBC. There’s a ton and more of work to do on it before it’s anywhere near ready so if I’m not around as much as I could be, that’s what I’m working on.  On top of that there’s still 2 of us doing the work of 4 at work, split across 2 sites and the usual chaos that Christmas throws our way.

Christmas, in fact, is now taking up a lot of time.  And it seems to be taking up more time the more the kids grow up.  We’ve got our eldest in her Primary 7 pantomime on Wednesday, somehow having to juggle 6 of us into the 3 seats allocated – and knowing the space they’re putting on the show, this is going to be interesting as most of the other families going will be doing the same.  Last weekend we had 3 parties in 2 days, just about getting the kids tired of seeing Santa.  And if I hear “Merry Christmas, Everybody” one more time I’m going to hang the DJ.  Aaaaargh!  And all of these parties required presents!  Not content with the pile of stuff we’ve already bought, we needed an extra set of presents for each kid for each party!  Man, our local toy shops do well out of these things!  I’d love to say that we’ll be more organised next year and get some presents in advance but my better half hates having stuff clutter the house – and pre-bought presents apparently fall into the category of “clutter”.  I’m seriously considering going completely Sheriff of Nottingham next year and banning Christmas.

Several of my favourite Apps have had upgrades whilst I’ve been more offline than usual.  Tweetdeck has gone all blue and shiny and I don’t like it.  Fortunately, the CSS hacks I wrote about previously still work and I’ll be posting a complete CSS file to replace the one they’ve given us here as soon as I’ve worked out how I’d like my Tweetdeck to look.

Anyway.  Stuff and things are happening.  I’ll be back to the usual rounds of Galleries, Silent Sundays, Recpie Sheds and Reasons to be Cheerful for the forseeable – doubly so if I can get ahead of myself and write some stuff to go out automatically over Christmas.

Meanwhile, kick back, open a home brew and put on the new Arena album.  It’s very, very good.

Stuff that doesn't fit in another category

Five Finals (for @relucthousedad)

So, courtesy of Keith over here

Five finals.  Interesting.

Final Episode

Towing the TARDIS

“The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End”, the last episodes of David Tennant’s last full series as The Doctor.  This is where it should have ended.  This is where, in my mind, it did.  I’m not sure how the regeneration to Matt Smith would’ve taken place, but it would be a far better end to Mr Tennant’s tenure than the drawn-out-yet-too-rushed Christmas specials with The Master.  Fair enough, it contained just about every single Who companion since the series came back, tied in Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures and was generally incredibly OTT.   But it was incredibly OTT in a good way, a great way.  I’ve gone back and watched them over and again.  These episodes don’t get tired.  And the TARDIS towing the earth home?  Priceless!

Final Album

The Division Bell

None of us really thought we’d ever see another Pink Floyd album after “Momentary Lapse of Reason” but then, years later, along came “The Division Bell.”  The final track on that album, “High Hopes”, is one of the finest musical works they’ve ever produced.  If you do not own this album, then you should go and purchase it immediately.  Then listen to it in a darkened room for hours on end, just like I used to do as a kid when I got a new LP.  Yes, I’m that old.  Actually found the box containing my LPs the other day – there’s some picture discs in there from Marillion, Helloween and Alice Cooper, a Mike Oldfield boxed set that I got for a fiver in a charity shop – I was only after “In Dulci Jubilo” but you couldn’t buy individual songs back then.

Oh, and I got to see Pink Floyd on the Division Bell tour.  The whole of Earl’s Court singing “Wish you were here” is one of those moments I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

Final Book

That’s going to be whatever Jim Butcher uses to finish off his Dresden Files series.  It’s going to be epic.  Or massively disappointing.  I really hope for the epic end of the spectrum!

Final Game

Tome Raider III Cover

Tomb Raider 3.  They should’ve stopped there.  Actually there’s a theme here.  There’s a lot of places where what should have been the final thing, wasn’t.  Matrix movies – should’ve quit after #1.  Star Wars movies – we really didn’t need episode 1-3.  And Tomb Raider.  1: Amazing!  Ground breaking!  Wonderful!  2: Too difficult.  Much cheating involved, especially with those bloody jade Samurai.  3:  Work of genius.  Non-linear, play the locations in pretty much any order you like.  London! 5/4 secrets just by taking a slightly different path!  Area 51!  Such a superb game.  And then along came every one that’s followed.  Like a schmuck I’ve bought and played (or attempted) most of them.  But I still go back to #3 when I want to play for the sheer fun of it.

Final words

The day after Spike Milligan died, the front page of one of the tabloids (The Daily Mirror, I think) had what, in my mind, was just perfect.

“See?  I told you I was ill.”

And that’s what I want.  No long, protracted battle with something you know, deep down, you can’t beat.  If I could meet death on my own terms, at a time of my choosing, that would be perfect.  One of the most moving pieces of television I’ve ever seen was Terry Pratchett’s Dimbleby Lecture, “Shaking Hands with Death”.  You can watch it on Youtube here:

Shaking Hands with Death

By the time it’s my time, I want the world to have reached a place where a person can make an informed choice.

Or, as that noble, wise, charitable humanitarian, Arnold Rimmer, put it: “…that’s more than most of us get. Most of us get ‘Mind-that-bus-what-bus?-splat.'”

So those are my 5.  Head over to to see more!

Stuff that doesn't fit in another category

Sunday Politics – Scottish Nationalism vs. English.

First of all, don’t panic.  I’m not, by nature, a political animal.  This won’t happen very often.  However, I found myself following the results of the elections this week to the regional assemblies (Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and the equivalent in Northern Ireland whose name escapes me) closely because the results directly affect me in my Shetland home.  When I saw that the Scottish National Party (SNP) had secured an overall majority at the Scottish Parliament, I was stunned.  I knew the Lib-Dems would get a kicking over the coalition shenanigans (hah! £5 from anyone who doubted I’d get that word in) in Westminster – which is strange, really, as high-profile U-turns like university tuition fees don’t affect Scotland, it’s a devolved matter.  I did not expect Labour to be given the drubbing they got!

Now I’m not a massive fan of the SNP, for reasons I’ll outline below.  On Twitter, I asked the following:

Why is it that Scottish Nationalism (SNP) is acceptable and yet British/English Nationalism (BNP) is not? Discuss.

[Update] Not talking about British Nationalism here.  This doesn’t concern the BNP[/update]

Now I don’t have that many followers but I know there are the odd random searches that people do which can lead to my tweets coming up on their radar.  Within a few minutes later I had received this reply from a Craig Statham, SNP councillor for Dalkeith:

Scot nationalism is pro-Scottish. English nationalism is anti-pretty much everyone. English version needs to grow up.

I also received the following from another Englishman a few miles from me:

because members of the SNP don’t generally tend to shave their heads, tattoo swastikas all over their bodies and spout white supremacy rubbish.

All of which is, more or less, true.  I have been in bars where, on placing my drinks order, you could hear a pin drop and someone said, very clearly, “I hate the feckin’ English.”  Never have 4 pints of Guinness been consumed faster.  If anyone’s interested, this was in the beautiful Kirckudbright.  That bar was declared off-limits to all personnel from that day to the day I left that job.  Still is, as far as I know.  I’d like to think they’d moved on, I just wouldn’t place money on it.  Here in Shetland things are far more amiable – until you’ve proved yourself worthy (and I’m still not sure I have) they’ll quite gladly hate you for coming from anywhere south of Sumburgh.

My dislike of the SNP stems from the way they have treated my island home.  Do I think the SNP have served the Shetland Islands, a small and (pretty damn) remote part of Scotland, well during the last few years?  No.  Several opportunities to give us a break have been missed.  Schemes such as the Road Equivalent Tariff for pricing ferry journeys have gone to other island groups.  Island groups that appear to have voted SNP.  Co-incidence?  Some days I’d like to back those who claim Shetland is still, technically, Danish.  Or was it Norwegian.

The final tweet, from an English nationalist, came from @stgeorgeiscross today.  It reads as follows:

mind your own fucking business about England. the scotch can’t help meddling in English affairs

Unfortunately for English nationalism, stgeorgeiscross backs up the argument the Craig put forward – SNP: Pro-Scottish; English Nationalism: Anti-Scottish (and Welsh, and Northern Irish) [updated from BNP: Anti-Everyone-Else.  Not talking about the BNP here.].  But he does make a good point, one that hasn’t been addressed in the devolution of powers to the regional assemblies.  Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs have the ability to vote on matters that will never affect them.  I don’t think this is right.  If the subject matter of a vote is one that has been devolved, then MPs from those regions should be barred from voting on it.  If we’re going to devolve matters, do it properly.

Should there be an English Parliament?  Yes.  Definitely.  And let’s build it somewhere sensible, like York.  Westminster can be streamlined into the buffer between the regional assemblies and the might of Europe.

English Nationalism needs to grow up, learn from the SNP, start attracting the right kind of people and going about things in a manner that is pro-English.  Stop hating everyone else and we might make some progress yet.  But I guess we’ve got to work out what it is to be English first.


It’s a day since I wrote the above piece and I’ve had a chance to do a bit more research, a bit more reading.  I now know, for instance, that the issue that hasn’t been addressed has a name: The West Lothian Question. Distilled, it is this:  An MP for West Lothian can vote on matters that affect any constituency in England but not on devolved matters affecting his own constituency.  It was first raised by the MP for West Lothian in 1977.  So this is the Scots pointing out the stupidity of the situation.  A poll carried out by YouGov (as reported in the Telegraph) in 2007, some 30 years later, reveals that the majority of Scots still think it’s unfair.  D’ya think?  Really?  YouGov’s website only appears to go back to 2010, so I can’t see if a similar poll was carried out asking the English the same question.  I would expect the results to be broadly similar.

Greater minds than mine have apparently been pondering this situation for more than 30 years and not been able to come up with a solution.  Unless the United Kingdom is completely disbanded, there will still be a need for a parliament that oversees the UK as a whole.  Someone, somewhere, needs to discuss matters that affect the whole of the UK and that haven’t been/can’t be devolved.  Problem seems to be that, to quote Jeff Beck, “Much is being said, my Lord.  Nothing is being done.”   It was one of the coalition agreement pledges, apparently, to establish a commission to consider the question.

Quote from wikipedia:

Before devolution, for example, purely ‘Scottish’ legislation was debated at Westminster in a Scottish Grand Committee composed of just those MPs representing Scottish constituencies.

So if this worked before devolution, why not put it into effect now?

The main problem afflicting the English nationalist cause is a lack of cohesion.  The Scots have the SNP, the Welsh have Plaid Cymru, the Northern Irish Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (among others).  Looking down the results on the BBC Politics website the first party that fits the bill appears to be the English Democrats.  Their website front page declares their cause thusly:

England has been buried under a ‘British’ identity by the three main political parties.  England is not a disparate collection of Euro-regions, nor is it a cash cow for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Our cause is about trying to save one of the world’s oldest nations from being broken up by a conniving British establishment and Brussels elite.  It’s about giving the 50 million people in England a democratic voice through its own parliament.

We are not left, not right, just English.

This sounds good!  It sounds right!  Dial down the anti-Scots/Welsh/Irish and you’re golden!  So why did they only get 2 councillors elected?  National Identity, I reckon.  The Scots know what it is to be Scottish.  The Welsh likewise.  The Northern Irish are divided over what it is to be Northern Irish but they’ve got a party for each side of the divide so that’s okay.  The English don’t know what it is to be English.  And until they work that out, this isn’t going to be resolved.