Tuesday, 2 September 2014

C & H

Calvin and Hobbes

More Will

Will Self, the novelist, critic and broadcaster, has chiselled a successful career out of being a sesquipedalian. This, as Self noted in 2012, means "a lover of obscure words" and is brandished more often as an insult than a panegyric. Self's engorgement on verbiage is often accompanied by a concomitant commitment to berating dull language. In his latest broadside against the limits of plain speaking and tedious writing, he takes to task that "talented mediocrity" George Orwell.

The centre of Self's objections is Orwell's 1946 essay, "Politics and the English Language", which argues: "Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble." These bad habits include allowing words to become phrases, the unnecessary use of foreign idioms and idle use of "dying metaphors" such as Achilles heel.

Orwell's despair at "the slovenliness of our language" conceals for Self "old-fashioned prejudices against difference itself". In the article for the BBC, he adds that Standard English is a fossil that has long been superseded by African American Vernacular English, which "offers its speakers more ways of saying more things – you feel me?"

Finding more ways of saying more things could describe Self's entire oeuvre (sorry, George). Why use one syllable when 23 might do? As he once said: "I'd observe that English, being a mishmash of several different languages, had a large and exciting vocabulary, and that it seemed a shame not to use it – especially given that it went on growing all the time, spawning argot and specialist terminology as freely as an oyster does its milt."

From the first, quite ordinary sentences would suddenly scoot off the page thanks to Self's striking coinage. "Ward 9", from his first book of stories, The Quantity Theory of Insanity, contained this sentence: "Tom rolled his lovely eyes back in their soft, scented sockets as if picturing the psychiatrist's matitudinal routine." My Kindle and Word dictionaries both drew a blank at matitudinal. Luckily, Nabokov's "matitudinal swoon" helped me discover that the word derived from "matin, an ecclesiastical duty performed early in the morning". In Cock and Bull, another character "stopped and looked at me, slope-shouldered, ectomorphic". Frankly, the online Encyclopaedia Britannica wasn't much help: "A person is classed as an ectomorph if ectomorphy predominates over endomorphy and mesomorphy in his body build..."

Self shows little sign of slowing his pace. In his new novel, Shark, his gush of a narrative flow blends all manner of registers into an unbroken multi-consciousness (or something): "He re-experiences this metempsychosis [transmigration of the soul] now: the hydrocephalic [swollen due to water on the brain] brow of his foetal self, its vestigial [atrophied, functionless due to evolution] limbs, its premature thumb-suck and the neon-blue delta of arteries worming over its fontanelle [the soft spot between the cranial bones of an infant's skull]."

Even Self's blog requires a decent dictionary and set of cultural references. The upthrusting Shard is "a teasing a la recherche de priapisme perdu". The book festival is a phenomenon because "serried municipalities have figured out that, as desperate writers will do almost anything for no money whatsoever, it's a cheap way of inculcating their miserable and isolate burghs with a little kulturkampf".

It is easy to mock Self's mockery of Orwell – ridiculously easy if yesterday's reader comments are anything to go by. "Self suffers from verbal diarrhoea which obfuscates rather than illuminates his meaning," wrote one outraged poster. Yet his exultation in and celebration of English as a living language that swoops from the medical to the Anglo-Saxon, from the Latinate to the phonetic ("Waa-waa-waaa! W'waaa") is bracing at a time when most novels are in thrall to the cat-sat-on-the-mat school of prose.

Perhaps it's because of spellcheck or the exigencies of global business English, perhaps it's because we read on the bus rather than in the armchair, perhaps it's because IQs are falling, but this is an age that misunderstands Hemingway's terseness as simplicity and one in which James Patterson is the world's best-selling novelist: "Dressed now in a black leather jacket, black jeans, black polo shirt, and black harness boots, Marcus Sunday hurried..."

Come on, James. Why not make that jacket obsidian, the jeans melanoid, that shirt atramentous, those boots stygian? Here's to Will.


Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire- 8

1. Yourself

The Lie: We WILL sign someone.
The greatest lie of the transfer window is that everyone will be doing business and that all fans should be tuned in to Sky Sports until well after the 11pm deadline hour. Don’t blink, don’t get washed and don’t dare question the importance of Stoke reserve players moving on loan to the Turkish second division.
But then you wouldn’t anyway, because the single biggest liar involved in any and every transfer window is you. No matter how many times your heart is broken by missed opportunities, or frustrated by seeing targets move to rivals, you lie to yourself every time that this is the year that your club will buy someone right up until the last minute.
Whether you support Wycombe or Arsenal, you believe foolishly that your side is about to do a bit of magic and sign that one player who will change everything. And even when they don’t, you’ll be in the exact same position in 6 months time at the end of the winter window…

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire- 7

2. ITKs

The Lie: “Our sources say…”
Thanks to Twitter, and the unquenchable thirst of football fans for even the flimsiest morsel of information about potential deals, an awful culture of In The Know charlatans has cropped up in the past few years.
Anyone with a keyboard and the brass neck to lie their way to “fame” can now claim that they have their fingers on the pulse and their ears to the doors that matter behind the scenes at clubs. The reality for most is that they bought their first followers, offered fake competitions for match day tickets and are part of a promote-for-promote system that helps them cement their ludicrously valued positions.
And no, there isn’t a single one of them – whether they claim to be an agent or a journalist – who isn’t sitting in their underpants at home laughing at everyone who believes them. The fact that some are now on radio stations proves exactly how horrendously things have developed.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire- 6

3. The Window Itself

Sky Sports
Sky Sports
The Lie: The deadline is final.
The idea of the transfer window was always to protect smaller teams from big teams coming in and poaching their best players at key points in the season – when of course the reality is far from that. It offered unwavering structure, and the rules have always been very strict.
Except when they haven’t.
Almost every year a deal happens after the transfer deadline has passed, with clubs blaming issues with communication – and the dreaded, and frankly ridiculous fax machine – for their tardiness.
On two separate occasions, Zimbabwean striker Benjani saw deals go through after the deadline: first when he didn’t get to Manchester on time for his move from Portsmouth, and then when joining Sunderland on loan when he and his agent couldn’t work the fax machine.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire- 5

4. Jim White

Sky Sports
Sky Sports
The exclamation point was basically invented for Jim White: he’s the kind of man whose only setting is over-loud and who probably explodes with near-orgasmic joy at the wonder of his milk turning chocolatey.
When he comes on screen, literally every development in even the smallest deal is greeted with the pomp and circumstance of the second coming of Christ. “SHOCKING Developments At Manchester United!” he proclaims, as a youth player goes on loan to Antwerp for a month. “Unbelievable News From QPR!” as Harry Redknapp nips out with a cup of tea for the weather-beaten Sky Sports reporter…
And then of course there’s the ridiculous image of him taking phone-calls and receiving text messages from his personal sources – suggesting that he has a personal network that literally nobody else is party to. If you believe that, you probably deserve the disappointment.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire- 4

5. Sky Sports

Sky Sports
The Lie: The hype.
Somewhere in the background at Sky Sports News there’s a white board with a simple mantra:
Everyone wears gold, the channel celebrates itself by showing the inner workings of how they bring all the coverage (which seems increasingly just to be looking at Twitter), and everything is dealt with with such hyperbole that it’s impossible to judge how excited you’re actually supposed to be.
The worst lie Sky Sports tell everyone is that every single club will be doing business: they send 20 reporters out to stand outside training grounds around the country, even when the clubs have said there’s no business to be done, and instruct them never to say “nothing is happening”. Because at the end of the day, if anyone stops watching for even a minute, the world will undoubtedly end.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire- 3

6. David Craig

Sky Sports
Sky Sports
The Lie: Things are happening.
In the North East, Sky Sports’ reporter David Craig has something of a reputation. He was known as “Newcastle’s man” thanks to rumours that he was something of an inside man at St James’ Park and the club knew they could use him as a mouth-piece.
With that in mind, Craig gathered a lot of venom back when Andy Carroll was sold to Liverpool because he apparently played a part in completely fabricating a last minute move for Bryan Ruiz to cover the loss of the big Geordie. Whether his part was over-exaggerated or not, Newcastle fans now view anything and everything he says as similarly untrustworthy.
He’s of course not the only one of Sky Sports’ roaming reporters (who never seem to roam far from the car park gates) to spin news out of nothing, but that’s the nature of the beast, and the majority of his cohorts prefer to exaggerate little rather than falsely reporting in order to whip up some excitement over nothing.
And he can’t pronounce Hatem Ben Arfa.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire- 2

7. The Definitely Not Greedy Players

The Lie: I moved for “football reasons.”
Consider the move Radamel Falcao has just made to Manchester United: touted as a potential signing for Real Madrid, as well as Champions League sides Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal, the Colombian has now joined up with Louis Van Gaal instead.
This is the same striker of course who joined Monaco, and was given a tax free weekly wage of £200k, which had less to do with the move according to the player than his desire to follow in the football steps of his idol Thierry Henry. Which is clearly why he’s just snubbed Arsenal for Man Utd.
Transfer windows are full of players claiming they moved for footballing reasons – Loic Remy did it when he snubbed Newcastle initially (and allegedly when he hiked his wage demands on the eve of his move to Liverpool), and Rio Ferdinand has just done it at QPR. Just don’t ever mention the wages involved.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire- 1

8. Harry Redknapp

Steve Drew/EMPICS Sport
Steve Drew/EMPICS Sport
The Lie: I definitely didn’t know anything about Peter Odemwingie that time.
The QPR manager isn’t adverse to the odd porkie pie, and most of the excuses he comes out with should be taken with a pinch of salt – like his continued assistance that he cannot send a text message, and has the writing ability of a toddler.
The greatest lies of course are the ones that are never really dealt with openly: a couple of years ago Redknapp was involved in Peter Odemwingie’s hilarious attempt to move to QPR, despite his parent club not having accepted a bid. He turned up on Sky Sports, hanging – suspiciously Redknapp-like – out of his car window confirming his excitement at the deal.
And then when he was recalled North with his tail between his legs, of course Harry had known nothing about it. But then that’s the public image of Harry – he’s not the cut-throat businessman he might seem, he’s instead a bumbling, stumbling rogue who relies on the higher-ups to do his business for him. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire- Intro

Few things are certain in life: death, taxes and transfer windows. Every six months the football watching country celebrates its own ridiculousness by having a party to the sound of Jim White shrieking with joy, and Sky Sports celebrating their own importance by introducing the researchers as if they matter.
And just as every transfer deadline day you can expect fans to stand in car parks and abuse roving reporters, you can also expect a huge number of lies. The deadline day is built on the same things as theatre, and as soon as the audience starts to acknowledge reality – or the ridiculousness of the situation – things fall apart.
But for now, that won’t happen. Football fans live for deadline day, flocking to computer screens and TVs, and trading social media “insider knowledge” with woefully unqualified ITKs and opening their ears to the avalanche of bullsh*t that inevitably greets them.
Arsene Wenger has already pulled out a whopper, claiming apparently that he didn’t actually want Radamel Falcao anyway, so there. And you have to suspect that this will not be the last example of suspicious horse manure that is aired before the end of the window…
What Culture

C & H II

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic

No Bad Publicity

Self has called the revered author England's 'Supreme Mediocrity' for prescribing the use of short words and everyday English. Could Self have a new book out, by any chance?
Real name: Eric Blair
Age: 111, if he hadn't died in 1950, but he did.
Appearance: Friendly moustache
Look, I know who George Orwell was, OK? Went to Eton, became a socialist, pretended to be a tramp, wrote about poor people, fought against Franco in Spain, wrote Animal Farm satirising the USSR, wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four warning against state tyranny, died of tuberculosis, became Britain's most revered postwar writer. Have I missed anything? No, that covers the basics. Although you forgot to mention that he wasn't very good.
What?! Yes he conspicuously cared about noble causes, yes he risked his life for them, yes he cleverly noticed that fascism and communism and poverty are bad, but as a writer … you know. He did his best, but I don't want to be unkind.
How dare you even imply whatever you're implying! It's not just me. Will Self dares too, and a bit more directly. Orwell, he says in an essay he has recorded for Radio 4 , is England's "Supreme Mediocrity", a member of that group of people, in his assessment, "who unite great expertise and very little originality – let alone personality".
What possible basis could he have for saying this? Well mostly the basis of Orwell's prose style and his famous essay Politics and the English Language, which prescribes succinct and clear writing at all times and deplores anything that looks like showing off. In Self's view, this is not only flawed advice, but it amounts to just the kind of doctrinaire suppression of human variety and freedom that Orwell and his disciples claim to oppose.
Ooh. Get you with your doctrinaires! Exactly. Orwell would insist I say "inflexible" instead. Self himself of course deploys a famously recondite idiolect. His attack on Orwell contains "lucubration" and "fulguration", inter alia.
I have no idea what you just said, which makes me feel stupid and therefore dislike you. Yes. That's pretty much where Orwell's defenders come from. "Orwell says his aim was never to write anything that an intelligent normal working man couldn't understand," Professor Stephen Ingle told the Independent. "That's a golden rule he sticks to. I'd rather read Orwell than Will Self."
I might read both and ponder the matter. I don't suppose Self has a new book out? Why yes, it just so happens that he does!
Do say: Send Will Self to Room 101!
Don't say: He did it with Paul Merton in 2000 . It was mediocre.

Brit Grub Branding

When pizza was first introduced to a sceptical British public in the 1950s, it was marketed, so the story goes, as "Italian Welsh rarebit" . These days, however, nobody feels the need to describe ceviche as "Peruvian rollmops" or quinoa as "Bolivian porridge oats". The British are, contrary to the rest of the world's stereotype, wonderfully open-minded about food and eager to try anything with an exotically "foreign" name.

However, rather than applauding that endearing receptiveness to other nation's cuisines, many of those who have landed on British shores seem appalled when they discover what's been done to it. The otherwise affectionate blog ofLondon-based Spanish writer Jorge Ruiz , for example, has a section devoted to "atrocities committed under the name of Spanish food" .

Anyone who has sat through a discussion between two Spanish people about whether or not you should put onion in tortilla might think that this is just the pickiness of a nation who, sadly, lack the iron-stomached British ability to eat absolutely anything. However, it soon becomes clear that he has a point.

Paella in a bag might be convenient, if convenience is the important issue here, but paella in a sandwich ? Even Francis Drake would have called that an unnecessary provocation, even if it was invented as a riposte to the equallydelicious-sounding lasagne sandwich . Ruiz reserves most of his ire, though, for the indiscriminate use of chorizo in supermarket "Spanish" dishes. It has long upset many Valencians that Jamie Oliver recommends putting chorizo in paella (it makes the rice turn orange), so you can imagine how Ruiz feels about chorizo soup or the even more inventive "chorizo with waffles ". "There hasn't been a Belgian-Spanish conflict like it," he says, "since the last War of Flanders ."

But it's not just Spanish food that's been given this treatment. Indian food expertNisha Katona , who is about to open her first restaurant in Liverpool , says: "I spend my life in a state of grimace at the nuclear slop they call curry." Among other terrible "fusion" cuisines, she lists "cheddar cheese saag paneer", fruit cocktail korma and, best of all, chicken tikka-flavoured Blackpool rock .

The Italians still haven't resigned themselves to the rest of the world's version of pizza, but MasterChef finalist and York-based restaurateur Sara Danesin Medio , says that, for her: "The horror story starts with spaghetti in a tin." Even worse is the misappropriation of words to mean something entirely different. "Pepperoni," she points out, "is actually peppers. Not spicy salami ." Luckily, she doesn't seem to be aware of the existence of the lasagne sandwich.

You might think that newer culinary arrivals on British shores would be immune to such "innovations" but Robert Ortiz, head chef at London's Lima restaurant , claims to have witnessed ceviche made using vinegar, mayonnaise and, "possibly the worst, ketchup". However, it's not just the British who do this kind of thing. Caroline Bennett, who introduced the first Kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi restaurant to the UK, Moshi-Moshi, remembers seeing "strawberries and cream cheese" on pizza when she lived in Japan. "So, when foreigners do similar things to their food it only seems fair," she says.

In fact these so-called "atrocities" against food are pretty encouraging. Anyone trying to export food from Spain must be pleased that British supermarkets believe that the word "Spanish" can help flog everything from sandwiche, to soup, quiche and even waffles (although the Belgians might not be so happy about the last one). There's a lot more affection in Europe for different cultures than certain newspapers would have you believe. Seen anything criminal of a culinary nature?


Fredo & Pid'jin

Sky Crappers


Fancy Fret Work

Plebgate 2

Scotland Yard has released material from its investigation into the Plebgate affair. The investigation, Operation Alice, examined allegations that police officers conspired to lie and falsify statements against the former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell. Here are the key points:
• Previously unreleased CCTV footage  shows four police officers surrounding Mitchell during the confrontation at the gates of Downing Street on 19 September 2012. The footage, filmed from a camera opposite the gates, also shows three passersby within feet of Mitchell as he is shown out of the side gate by PC Toby Rowland. It is at this moment that Rowland accused Mitchell of referring to the police as “fucking plebs” – a claim Mitchell strenuously denies.
• In logs of text messages released officially for the first time, another of the Downing Street police officers, PC Gillian Weatherley, boasted about being about to “topple the Tory government”. She wrote in a text message to a fellow police officer two days after the Plebgate incident: “This will make you feel better, I’m the officer that stopped the chief whip leaving Downing St in Wednesday. He didn’t swear at me but Toby that let him out the side gate. I could topple the Tory government x.” The following month, Weatherley sent a jokey text to a neighbour that said she would “still have time to bring the government down”.
Andrew Mitchell CCTV 6
Andrew Mitchell (right) shown on Downing Street CCTV on 19 September 2012.Photograph: Dispatches/Channel 4 News
• PC James Glanville, who was sacked after a misconduct hearing found that he leaked details of the altercation to the Sun, maintained in a police interview that he “regretted the amount of media interest that occurred but still believed that the public had a right to know how a senior politician was treating police officers in such a derogatory manner”. Glanville exchanged six telephone calls and 10 text messages with Tom Newton Dunn, the Sun’s political editor, over three days following the incident.
• Tom Newton Dunn, who broke the Plebgate story in the Sun on 21 September, told police in a statement that it was the responsibility of the press to publish such articles and his professional obligation as a reporter to protect his sources. “In my opinion this was an example of good-faith whistleblowing about misconduct by a senior politician, which was rightfully exposed publicly,” he said in an extract of his statement published on Monday.
• In other text messages released for the first time, one unnamed diplomatic protection officer messaged his partner, Emma, on the day of the Plebgate confrontation to say he was “sorting out what could turn into a major prob lol not for me though x”. The next day, he texted her: “One of the cabinet government ministers that I’ve had a run in with before got ump with being told to use pedestrian gate with his pedal cycle, told one of our guys ‘you don’t run the country we do your all a punch of fucking Plebs. In front of a load of public, the officer warned him if he swears again he will nick him! I’ve been told by Friend in the press office of number 10 it will be on the front pages unless they can block and might have to resign lol x.”
• Scotland Yard’s report also laid bare details about Mitchell’s previous altercations with police about access to Downing Street. A former head of security and business continuity at No 10, who is not named, said there were two incidents dating back to 2011 when Mitchell swore out of frustration at not being allowed through a back entrance. The civil servant said he believed Mitchell said “they should have fucking known who I am” after the first incident. After the second altercation months later, Mitchell apparently swore again and said the situation was “becoming ridiculous”. He is also said to have threatened to write to the Metropolitan police commissioner to make a formal complaint.
• Operation Alice unearthed signs of earlier confrontations between Mitchell and Westminster police officers. Patrol reports from 2005 and 2006 described encounters with Mitchell that officers brought to the attention of their superiors, although no further detail was given on what took place.
• The Plebgate affair has “damaged public trust and confidence” in the Metropolitan police, said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan, head of Operation Alice. She said: “The police service is here to serve the public, without fear or favour, with honesty and integrity. Where our staff fall short of those standards they must be held to account. We wanted these discipline boards to be held in public, but legally we were unable to direct that this happened. Ultimately four police officers have been dismissed from the MPS, one of whom was sent to prison. Every serving police officer has cause to feel let down by those colleagues who fall below the standards we all strive to uphold.”
• Investigators took 1,100 statements over the course of Operation Alice, the majority from diplomatic protection group officers, who were on duty on 19 September 2012 and the following days.

Plebgate 1

A group of Metropolitan police officers who were sacked over their conduct in the Plebgate affair were involved in a collusion that made it difficult to uncover the truth about the incident in Downing Street, the former attorney generalDominic Grieve has said.
As the Met released a lengthy report into Operation Alice, its investigation into the incident in Downing Street on 19 September 2012, Grieve warned that the conduct of some of the officers had challenged the workings of the justice system. He told the Guardian: "I think the report is a very worrying document, because it reveals collusion between police officers in a way that makes the truth impossible to ascertain, when police officers should be witnesses of the truth at all times. When one sees officers behaving in this fashion, in whatever circumstances, it leaves one with a sense that if you can't trust them to tell the truth, then the justice system generally, and law enforcement in particular, becomes very difficult. It is a pretty depressing read."
Grieve spoke out after Deputy Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan, who was in charge of Operation Alice, said that allegations that officers had conspired to falsify statements had "damaged public trust and confidence in us". Gallan confirmed that four officers, including one who has been sent to prison, had lost their jobs as a result of their conduct after the incident.
Andrew Mitchell was forced to stand down as Conservative chief whip after armed officers on duty in Downing Street claimed he described them as "fucking plebs" when they declined to allow him to ride his bicycle through the Downing Street gates. The former cabinet minister admitted swearing in the presence of the officers, but insisted that he did not call them plebs.
David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, said: "Industrial levels of dishonesty by police working in Downing Street."
The Met also released previously unseen CCTV footage showing four police officers surrounding Mitchell during the incident. The footage, filmed from a camera opposite the gates, also shows three passersby close to Mitchell as he is shown out of the side gate by PC Toby Rowland. It was at this moment, according to Rowland, that Mitchell made the "fucking plebs" comment.
The report says that Rowland, who is suing Mitchell for libel after the former minister questioned his account, was shown CCTV footage during a police interview and asked to point out which passerby had prompted him to describe onlookers as "visibly shocked". Rowland said he had made eye contact with a man and was aware of two women even though the footage showed the two were looking away from the incident.
The report said: "He maintained that this was his perception of the events as they happened in real time." The Met said of Rowland that there was "insufficient evidence to show that he had committed any criminal offence".
The report found that PC Gillian Weatherley, the officer who initially declined to allow Mitchell to ride his bike through the Downing Street gates, texted a colleague two days after the incident to declare that she could topple the government. Weatherley witnessed, but did not overhear, the disputed exchanges when Rowland instructed Mitchell to wheel his bike through the side gates.
In the text, sent on 21 September to a colleague known as Officer 18, Weatherley wrote: "This will make you feel better, I'm the officer that stopped the chief whip leaving Downing St in Wednesday. He didn't swear at me but Toby that let him out the side gate. I could topple the Tory government x."
In her disciplinary hearing Weatherley explained that she had known the recipient of her text for 20 years and the message was office banter. But a month later, on 21 October 2012, a text message was sent from her phone number to a neighbour called Nick. It read: "Not today but I'm at the front gates tomorrow so I still have time to bring the government down thanks for no graffiti."
The report said that Weatherley said the text was part of a friendly conversation. "PC Weatherley denied that these texts showed any sinister motive on her part in relation to her conduct under investigation," it said.
Weatherley lost her job after she failed to provide an honest account of her role in the handling of an email by Rowland that described the incident. She denied having passed on Rowland's email when she had in fact sent a picture of it to a colleague. This was passed to the Daily Telegraph.
Gallan said of the report: "At the heart of this investigation were very serious allegations that police officers had conspired together to lie and falsify statements against a cabinet minister. I have no doubt these allegations have damaged public trust and confidence in us.
"The police service is here to serve the public, without fear or favour, with honesty and integrity. Where our staff fall short of those standards, they must be held to account. We wanted these discipline boards to be held in public, but legally we were unable to direct that this happened.
"Ultimately, four police officers have been dismissed from the MPS, one of whom was sent to prison. Every serving police officer has cause to feel let down by those colleagues who fall below the standards we all strive to uphold."
The report confirmed that Mitchell had been involved in previous confrontations with police officers when he was refused entry to the back of Downing Street on his bike during his time as international development secretary between March and May 2011. The report said a civil servant claimed Mitchell had said: "They should have fucking known who I am."

TG Speaks

It is two years since the 46-second altercation in Downing Street that was to become Plebgate. Neither the former chief whip Andrew Mitchell nor members of the diplomatic protection group (DPG) behaved well. Mr Mitchell should have swallowed his pride and wheeled his bike into Whitehall by a side gate. The police should have shown the professional discipline and discretion to be expected from those who guard the prime minister.
Neither of them did the sensible thing, and so Plebgate refuses to lie down. On Monday the Metropolitan police published the closing report (the title may prove optimistic) of its investigation into the affair. It is a catalogue of unprofessional police behaviour, and the former attorney general Dominic Grieve is right to point to how dangerously the report damages trust in the police. It shows how officers kept the spiteful spat spiralling, not least by leaking – inaccurately – to the press. The Police Federation, already locked in dispute with ministers, seized on the case to make mischief. One particularly indiscreet officer boasted: “I could topple the Tory government x.” Another wrote: “Don’t mess with the DPG! Hahaha!”
Exactly what passed between the DPG and Mr Mitchell will probably never be known. It may be that Mr Mitchell said worse things than he admits. What is clear, though, is that police, including those in Downing Street, then resorted to what David Davis MP  on Monday called “industrial levels of dishonesty” in their attempts to take revenge on Mr Mitchell. As a consequence, one police officer has been jailed, three more sacked, and a further two have received final written warnings. Three other officers are still the subject of proceedings. This was police collusion. It was designed to damage an elected government. The right word for this sort of behaviour is mutiny.
A plague on both their houses? Let’s leave it all there? Actually, that is not good enough. One officer is suing Mr Mitchell for libel for questioning his logbook account of these events. The Police Federation, part-funded by the taxpayer and with vast reserves of cash, is financing his case. Mr Mitchell may be a rich man, but the costs of defending the libel action approach £600,000, and he is reportedly remortgaging his home to pay for it.
In law, public bodies cannot sue for libel, in part because such a power would deter legitimate public criticism by people who cannot afford it, including campaigners and journalists. And yet a police officer, with the backing of the federation, can do exactly that. Even if Plebgate were a strong case, this would still be a bad abuse of power. Since Plebgate is such a tawdry case, it is an even worse one. The federation has got most things wrong about Plebgate for the past two years. It is not too late to do one thing right, by dropping its action.


Spain has the lowest population density in western Europe (excluding Scandinavia).

Saturated Fat

We're inundated by the affable yet irritatingly illiterate Jamie Oliver on our Food Channel here, with his Ministry of Food, his 30 Minute Meals, his Fifteen Minute Meals, his Sponsor a Crim to Cook, his School Dinners, his Food Wars, his Tour Italy, his Tour of the Rest of the World, his Buy Cheap, Eat Helfie, his I'm The Food Police, Respect My Authority and plenty more to boot.

Yes, I may have made a couple of those up (and he can happily nick my titles) but he must have at least a dozen series on the box all showing concurrently and as with in the UK, we're  extremely "Jamied" out.

But not from his over-exposure, more his incessant Mockney cock-a-sparrah English, his inability to go 20 seconds without reaching for the "A"s (amazing, actually, awesome and of course, ab-so-fucking-lutely) and his under "O" level grasp of speaking properly.

WTF does everything have to be "gorgeous" you fucking retard?  Can't simply be "good" for a change?  And what's all this "kissing" going on, why does something now have a "bark" and who really gives a crap about infusion any more?

This piece pretty much nails it the frustrations.

Comfort food. Isn't that something easy to make (like maybe you just open the packet or the tub), that you eat, alone on the sofa? It might have some kind of sentimental or nostalgic resonance (either personal or cultural), and it cheers you up. One possible downside is that it also makes you immensely fat.
Jamie's Comfort Food (Channel 4) is quite elaborate and is prepared and eaten outside in the sunshine, in Jamie's beautiful garden, with beautiful people, and a gaggle of beautiful geese. There's birdsong and an outside oven, even a picturesque old phone box. Who needs cheering up? It certainly ticks the fat box though – it would pretty much turn you into that sofa, I reckon.
First up: ultimate burgers, which are made with the aid of an affable North American named Christian who sucks on a beer and says "mange" for eat and "radiculousness", and is there mainly to agree with Jamie and to be called "bro" and to "bro" back, and to provide a broad shoulder to flop a casual arm around, bro-ly.
Their chuck steak burgers are encrusted with mustardy bark and smothered with sauces and relishes. There's red leicester, and bacon, and Jamie sponges up the excess fat with his brioche buns. God it looks good; comforting too, but what's it going to do to my buns, my baps, and my heart?
"It's all right to eat messy, yeah?" says Jamie, never a massive fan of the adverb. "You're supposed to eat messy," confirms Christian. "What are you, a wuss?" They chuckle as the juices dribble down their chins.
Jamie is a bit of a wuss when it comes to crustacean murder for his next dish. "If you're not confident of how to kill a lobster then ask your fishmonger for help," he says, probably not wanting the lobster rights people on his back. The ex-lobster is going into a mac'n'cheese. What happened to "macaroni cheese"? Mac'n'cheese sounds like a burger to me, even with lobster. It will, however, completely change any dinner party, says Jamie. What does a dinner party have to do with comfort? Anyway, this dish has three kinds of cheese: cheddar and gruyère plus parmesan for its ability "to season things gorgeous" says Jamie. Watch out mister, the Save The Adverb mob are coming to get you.
Finally a pavlova – "pav", inevitably. Made with marshmallow and love and a little help (licking, mainly) from young Buddy. Then delivered, with more love, and bubbly, to Jools and her mother, who are sitting among pink roses, radiant and backlit by the evening sun. "You're nearly my favourite son-in-law," purrs Jools's mum. Nearly? Ha. She's joking of course, he's Jamie frigging Oliver; he's every mother-in-law's favourite son-in-law. They'd devour him too if they could. They do, and we do. Comfort television.

Quick Reflex

Improving Late London- 3

12. A relaxing on the ‘if you’re asleep, you’re gonna get thrown out’ rule in establishments. Some people just like to power-nap, you guys.

17 things that would make going out in London infinitely better
Drink responsibly, you guys (Picture: BBC)

13. A limit on barmen-turned-‘mixologists’ who will expound at length about ‘the craft’ – one per square mile, total. Oh, and stop ruining our parks with your juggling

17 things that would make going out in London infinitely better
This guy is quite possibly a bit of a tit (Picture: Getty)

14. An upper age limit – mostly for the sake of the poor middle-aged sods who’ve accidentally wandered into The Dolphin on a Friday night

17 things that would make going out in London infinitely better
Bravo for still having a knees-up at your age, but please can it be somewhere else? (Picture: Rex)

15. An unironic appreciation of pop music – why waste it on hen-do hordes? S Club 7’s seminal Don’t Stop Movin’ could be a club floor filler in any establishment if only you *believed*

17 things that would make going out in London infinitely better
Don't stop moving (Picture: S Club 7)

16. A lifetime ban for any university students – especially ‘sports teams’ – caught chanting, downing or otherwise bantering within earshot of actual adults. No one cares about your dirty pint, pal

17 things that would make going out in London infinitely better
Please leave. Immediately. (Picture: Xposure)

17. Air-con. For the love of God, air-con please

17 things that would make going out in London infinitely better
Cool air! Sweet, sweet air.(Picture: YouTube)