The 50 greatest British writers since 1945. A few interesting choices here... the 'novelist's poet' at #1 seems fair enough, but this one, this one and this one?
It's an advert for chocolate. It's a man in a gorilla suit drumming to a track by Philip Collins Ltd. It's been very popular. It's won awards. It's been spoofed. And it's been mashed-up... some bad (Metalica (sic), ACDC, Guns and Roses), some good (Bonnie Tyler, Subsource, A Skillz, Bon Jovi, Deep Purple, Nirvana) and some utterly sublime ('Enders, Bodyrockers, Cameo). But great adverts don't always equal great sales. Bonus: Monkey Drummer. (Previously)
Fairytale of New York... censored! No, not now... Shane will make 50 this Christmas... Sadly not Kirsty.
Hammer films are back! ... The classic British horror film company has returned from the dead with the first new film in 20 years to be first broadcast in instalments via MySpace. This has allowed some news programs to camp it up just a little... See the trailer here. Behind the scenes. [more inside]
BBC launch Flash version of iPlayer The BBC have developed iPlayer as a vehicle for online distribution of its programs. Originally this involved downloading a stand-alone application for windows users only. This application has had a troubled beta launch and has drawn criticism from Linux and Mac users who were unsupported. The Flash version is an attempt to placate these users (though I believe you have to be in the UK)
"'It's been a magical evening,' Joel says as the Great Khali hits the Undertaker with a dustbin lid." Jon Ronson (and son) journey into the world of WWE to investigate the death of Chris Benoit.
Rhino Releases The Brit Box It's hard to explain in 2007 what it feels like for music to be both uniting and important. Having spent nearly three years of the '90s living in London, it's with honest nostalgia and wonder that we examine Rhino's The Brit Box. The set's mission is rather broad: it attempts to examine the whole of UK indie rock from 1985-1999 and devotes a disc each to '80s indie, shoegaze, Britpop, and the late '90s. [more inside]
The Government are clear that there should be no unnecessary restrictions on people's right to protest and it is right to review provisions which have generated such concern. Two years ago, the British government effectively removed the right to spontaneous peaceful protest around the UK Parliament. Now, that legislation is under review, with a public consultation open until mid-January. [more inside]
Mark Wallinger has won the Turner Prize for 'State Britain' his recreation of Brian Haw's Parliament Square peace protest. [more inside]
"My humble efforts to assist in the elucidation of the social condition of a distant and comparatively unknown race."
US has right to kidnap any defendant, anywhere, anytime, says it's UK lawyer. Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects. The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington. [more inside]
Morrissey makes some controversial remarks to the NME. Defensive explanations by the interviewer, attempts at defusing the situation and threats of legal action ensue, as does satire.
"Hello, and welcome to Mainly For Men (part 1, part 2). And, as the title implies, this is a programme, fellas, just for you." Yes, everything the BBC thought the red-blooded male back in the late 1960s would be interested in (ie women, cars and shark fishing). The result was so hideous it was never broadcast until a TV Hell themed night many years later. Possibly NSFW... some brief nudity ('artistic', naturally) and mild swearing. And rampant mind-blowing sexism.
Norman Mailer has posthumously won this year's Literary Review Bad Sex Award for his novel on the early life of Hitler, The Castle in the Forest. He was up against some stiff competition but Norman managed to rise to the occasion (sorry). Safe for work, but you might feel a bit dirty in the morning.
Lucky Soul's 'Lips Are Unhappy' isn't the likliest of contenders for the UK's coveted Christmas number one, but this is the track (from a shortlist) selected by listeners of Last.fm to receive Last.fm's backing. Profits go to charity, as is the norm for Xmas No. 1 entries.
Oops: UK tax collection agency loses discs containing personal details of 25 million Britons in the mail.
You might have thought a six month hangover was bad enough but now in 'binge-drink Britain' there's a reported rise in 'exploding bladders'... safe for work but you might want to read it with your legs crossed. Or a least spend a penny first.
Walter Wolfgang, 82, was ejected from the Labour Party conference and stopped by police under the Anti-terrorism Act, for heckling Jack Straw. But when he spoke in Oxford... a Barbershop Quintet struck a blow for freedom of speech.
ukgraves.info has thousands of photographs of cemeteries and gravestones all over the UK, from City of London to the Kirk of Lammermuir, and random points in between.
TV-Links website shut down, site creator arrested. Says David Rock, who awaits charges, "It was just a hobby." [more inside]
Jon Ronson decides "I'm going to tell my son the worst swearword in the world". His follow up article is also interesting. Incidentally, his "Bad Science" colleague from The Guardian did uncover a list of the worst swearwords from the BBC no less (and previously)
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In 2005, invasive MRSA infections were estimated to have killed 18,650 in the United States alone. This may be a conservative estimate. It is going global. It is changing politics. It may become pandemic. [more inside]
Two recent reports on immigration in the UK, a published study on its economic effects, and an expert panel report on its and public service consequences, paint very different pictures. Not that the press need logic or evidence: they made their minds up about those Poles a long time ago, like people did about the West Indians, Bangladeshis and Jews . Is a rational debate on immigration even possible?
Gentlemen Ranters, a "brilliant compendium of reminiscences of the great days of Fleet Street". Via (check the comments for a more depressing viewpoint).
The World Conker Championships sponsored by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health! Health and Safety gone mad, again? No, they are fighting back against being blamed for taking the fun out of playing conkers. Mine's a fifty-sixer!
“Iraq War Memorial: Death of Prince Harry" features the in fact hale and hearty royal scion "laid out before the Union Jack with pennies placed over his eyes and head rested on the Bible...Prone with his unfired gun still holstered, Prince Harry is represented clutching a bloodied flag of Wales, and holding to his heart a cameo locket of his late mother, Princess Diana, while a desert vulture perches on his boot...a bronze casting of Prince Harry’s 'severed ears' also set for display at the Trafalgar Hotel will be offered on eBay." Via.
In 1967, before "Monty Python", before "The Goodies", and before "Marty", John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Marty Feldman teamed up to create a groundbreaking show that influenced (and provided sketch material and dialog for) much of what we know today as British Comedy. Most of the material was erased when its owner, Rediffusion London, disappeared in England's 1967 TV franchise reshuffle. Here is almost all of what survives of "At Last, the 1948 Show".
New contender for world's worst poem. Yes, the mighty William Topaz McGonagall seemingly unassailable position as writer of the sublime The Tay Bridge Disaster is under serious threat... [more inside]
Ronnie Hazlehurst RIP. Who? Well if you've seen any of the BBC's sitcoms and light entertainment programmes from the 70s onwards, you would have probably heard his work... [more inside]
In the 19th century, English author Favell Mortimer wrote several books describing various countries to children. Apparently she didn't travel much. [more inside]
Exit Music. The King of Tartan Noir, Ian Rankin has retired his detective John Rebus. Ageing him with each novel, Rebus has finally reached the retirement age at Edinburgh CID; Although that may not stop him... [more inside]
Developers plan to build The VTP 200 - a proposed "landmark tower / vertical theme park" - in Birmingham's city centre.
“I’m a singer. I’m a performer.” Accused of taking part in a £1.75m armed robbery Brian Hibberd had an unorthodox defence. Apparently it worked. [more inside]
For the duration of three profanity-laden LPs in the 1970s, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were two disgusting foul mouthed oafs named Derek And Clive. Listen to them here (real); here be transcripts.
For those of us who thought the BBC's mammoth self- marketing campaigns were one of the symptions of modern marketing excess, a trawl on the Internet has turned up this John Cleese-presented advertisment on What Have the BBC Ever Given Us?. And it being the BBC, Spitting Image have the right of rebuttal... [more inside]
Anti-Socials - A brief piece on people living with one of Britain's eerily Orwellian "Anti-Social Behaviour Orders". [previously]
Valentino Rossi is a very successful, well-compensated motorcycle racer and winner of numerous Grand Prix World Championships. He is under investigation by Italian authorities for tax evasion, which The Doctor allegedly accomplished in part by relocating to London and possibly taking advantage of the Non-domicile classification [link to google cache to avoid registration] for tax purposes. According to UK authorities, in 2003, for instance, his declared income was £650. Even a priests is becoming vocally upset at Rossi and the public's reaction. On a far larger scale, the UK was earlier this year identified as an Offshore Financial Center in an IMF white paper [34 page PDF]and there are those who think the purported tax-haven monster should be confronted. The Norwegian government agrees and wants to "facilitate the recovery of assets illicitly stacked away in tax havens" by way of a global coalition, of which the UK is not part.
Animated population pyramids project a steady increase in the median age. England and Wales. United States. Canada. China. Japan. "The number of older persons has tripled over the last 50 years; it will more than triple again over the next 50 years." [pdf] There will be a shortage of workers to support the retired and disabled. The looming crisis has been predicted for years. Proposed solutions include robots and immigration. [previously, previously]
Operation Banner [Wikipedia], the British Armed Forces' campaign in Northern Ireland that began in 1969, ended midnight on July 31, 2007. The period included Bloody Sunday in which 13 civilians were killed by the British Army. The Guardian have published a summary of significant events (and one going further back). In pictures: Guardian, BBC.
Examples of challenges faced: "Negotiating Hyde Park corner by bicycle. Outcome: survival." This and more from Boris Johnson's London Mayoral candidacy application [PDF] to the Conservative Party. thelondonpaper is not impressed that he submitted a handwritten form.
Cassetteboy "record famous people and make it sound like they're talking about sex or drugs. It's a winning formula" but they also bring anarchic political awareness to an already piratical realm. Harry Potter (not for sensitive Potterphiles), Big Brother, Bill Gates, Jeremy Clarkson, Jamie Oliver and The Streets face the wrath of some adolescent humourists with far too much time on their hands while David Attenborough surveys British wildlife and Frank Sinatra sings about 9/11. And for dessert Martin Luther King Jr plays Deal or No Deal. Most links YT, NSFW, YMMV.
Weatherfilter: Widespread flooding in the UK leaves hundreds of thousands of homes without water and power. Extraordinary scenes of the floods command many of the front pages of Monday's newspapers. The Environment Agency has warned water levels are expected to exceed those of the devastating floods of 1947.
In 1840, the Cuerdale Hoard - the greatest Viking silver treasure trove ever found outside Russia - is found in Lancashire. 2007: a father and son find an amazing Viking hoard while metal detecting in in Harrogate. The most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years, it reveals a remarkable diversity of cultural contacts in the medieval world, with objects coming from as far apart as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe.
"Even the greatest cities have further greatness in them. I will stand for a greater London and for putting the smile back on London's face." Boris Johnson announces his candidacy for Mayor of London, though he is yet to be endorsed by the Conservative Party. Though decidedly right wing in his views (this clip, perhaps more than any other summarises his view on Europe, for example) his very English brand of buffoonery lends him unique appeal (though not universally).