Sunday, 31 January 2010

Looking Back

TTimes reviews the Chilcot investigation last week:
Tony Blair saw 9/11 as an attack on Britain as well as the US.
He told the inquiry: “I never regarded September 11 as an attack on America, I regarded it as an attack on us.”

Blair understood there was no link between Iraq and 9/11, even though the US claimed there was.
Blair told the inquiry: “It is true we did not have evidence that Saddam [Hussein] was, for example, behind the September 11 attacks, and part of the difference between ourselves and the Americans was we were always saying, ‘We don’t accept that’.”

Nevertheless when Blair met George W Bush in Texas in April 2002, Blair signed up to dealing with Saddam, by force if necessary.
He told the inquiry he made “a commitment to deal with Saddam ...
I was saying ... we are going to be with you [the US] in dealing with this threat”.
He added: “The US view was regime change ... If we tried the UN [United Nations] route and it failed, then my view was it had to be dealt with.”

From the start the US view was that Saddam was not going to bow to the UN and therefore would have to be removed by force.
Blair told the inquiry: “The US view throughout was that this leopard wasn’t going to change his spots.”

Britain’s armed forces were in favour of war — maybe.
Blair told the inquiry: “The very first thing I do is I ask the military for their view, and their view in this instance was that they were up for doing it and that they preferred to be right at the centre of things.”
That’s not how Alastair Campbell, Blair’s communications chief, saw it.
His diaries record that at Chequers in March 2002, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, then chief of the defence staff, “mainly set out why it was hard to do anything” about Iraq. Campbell said Boyce “appeared to be trying to shape the meeting towards inaction, constantly pointing out the problems”.

Blair admitted he should have corrected the misleading impression — which he allowed to develop — that Saddam had long-range weapons of mass destruction capable of being deployed at 45 minutes’ notice.
Why did he not correct it at the time?
He was specifically asked to explain it in a parliamentary question in October 2002. Blair replied evasively: “These points reflect specific intelligence information.”

Blair and Jack Straw, the then foreign secretary, were advised all along that war would be illegal unless sanctioned by the UN.
Sir Michael Wood, then senior legal adviser at the Foreign Office, warned that military action would be a “crime of aggression” and potentially leave troops and civil servants open to charges of murder. Right up to the invasion, Foreign Office legal experts continued to advise that there was no legal basis for military action.

Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, was blocked from expressing his doubts to cabinet.
More than once Goldsmith, who doubted the legality of war, wanted to communicate his views to Blair and the cabinet. He was blocked by Jonathan Powell, Blair’s chief of staff, and Straw. On January 30, 2003, only weeks before the invasion, Goldsmith was still “unpersuaded” there was any legal justification for war.

At the inquiry Blair dodged the issue of whether the cabinet should have been told of Goldsmith’s doubts.
He said: “The issue is not how many times he [Goldsmith] comes to the cabinet, the issue is whether he is giving his advice to the prime minister and the ministers, and Peter [Goldsmith] was.”
Not entirely. Campbell’s diaries record that in September 2002 Patricia Hewitt, then a cabinet minister, specifically suggested that the attorney-general should come to cabinet “to explain the legal position”. He was not asked to do so.

Goldsmith was largely persuaded to change his view on the legality of war after being sent to the US to talk to lawyers and politicians.
In February 2003, Goldsmith went to Washington for talks. The day after he returned he revised his advice to say a “reasonable case” could be made for war even if there were no further UN resolution.

The military finally forced Goldsmith into making a clear decision.
British military chiefs wanted a simple answer: was war legal or not, yes or no? Despite his doubts, Goldsmith felt “they were entitled to have a clear view”. So on March 13, just a week before the war, he decided that “on balance, the better view was that it was lawful”.

On that day Goldsmith still wanted to tell the cabinet the legal position was “finely balanced”.
Straw asked him not to, according to a document released to the inquiry.

Later that same day Goldsmith met two of Blair’s closest colleagues, Lord Falconer and Baroness Morgan. He denied they browbeat him into changing his mind about the legality of war. He said he had already made his decision.
Goldsmith said: “When I saw them, I, of course, had reached my opinion [that on balance war would be lawful]. . .” Nobody has asked whether he was browbeaten on another issue: whether or not he should still have told the cabinet the legal position was “finely balanced”.

Blair claimed that war would not have happened if Goldsmith had ruled it illegal.
Blair told the inquiry: “Let me make it absolutely clear, if Peter [Goldsmith] in the end had said, ‘This cannot be justified lawfully’, we would have been unable to take action.”
No pressure on Goldsmith there, then — only the fact that British forces were massed on the Iraqi border and the US was intent on beginning an invasion within days.


According to the World Health Organisation the Pacific island of Nauru is currently classified as the world’s fattest country with 94.5% of the population overweight.

Britain is in 28th position, with nearly 64% of the population considered to be overweight.

Not Here!

Britons are missing out on possible savings of £74 billion a year because they would rather lose money than complain, according to recent research.

On average each British household loses an annual total of £2 873 because they fail to demand refunds, good service and discounts on faulty or unwanted goods, the research from, the price comparison service, suggests.

They found that nine out of 10 people always pay what they are asked without question, even if they are unhappy with the deal. One in three people does not even get refunds on goods they decide they do not want or need. Two out of three people will not complain when they receive bad service in a hotel or restaurant, and will even pay a tip.

The top five reasons for failing to demand better service, discounts, or replacement goods include fear of making a scene (90%), not wanting to ask for a discount (88%c), not wanting to appear cheap (82%), not being good at complaining (67%) and not having time (59%). 

Each to their own, but I will never keep quiet if I feel I am getting conned or over priced.  Many have tried and they rarely win.  :o)

From TTel.

Which Prompts

SUPERMARKET chain Asda is targeting its Spring campaign at the shambling underclass looking for bargains in their nightclothes.

The store hopes to win over shoeless customers recently banned from Tesco with its new slogan 'Asda - It's Like Shopping In A Post-Apocalyptic Aldi'.

A new advertising campaign features Sharon Osbourne and Paul Whitehouse having a drunken brawl over a marked-down tin of spaghetti hoops and was described by one industry analyst as 'more soul-destroying than an NSPCC advert by Ken Loach'.

Asda marketing director, Julian Cook, said: "While Waitrose has the aspirational middle class and Sainsbury's attracts people who can look at Jamie Oliver without rubbing chillis into their eyes, we're opening our doors to the shopper with issues.

"We want the sort of person you can imagine shuffling up and down the freezer aisle at 2am, sobbing quietly while holding a bag of flour that is leaking slowly and steadily onto the floor."
He added: "Trust me, when the country finally implodes in about 18 months' time, this is all going to sound very familiar."

Asda say the no-shoe, pyjama code will be strictly enforced though exceptions may be made for social workers and probation officers with a panicked look on their face.

Nikki Hollis, a regular shopper at Asda in Carlisle, said: "Some bloke wearing outside clothes that smelled of clean was in the other day, asking the manager if the jumbo bag of frozen turkey-style gizzards was origami.

"We dragged him behind the bins."


Tesco Bans PJs

Tesco has banned people from shopping in their pyjamas after complaints that underdressed patrons were making other customers feel uncomfortable.  Customers at the St Mellons store in Cardiff, South Wales, are now greeted by signs warning them of the new rules:

"To avoid causing offence or embarrassment to others, we ask that our customers are appropriately dressed when visiting our store (footwear must be worn at all times and no nightwear is permitted)." 

How pathetic.

Feel That Again

taxi drivers applying for their Hackney Carriage licence in Portsmouth are being offered the forms in Braille.

Braille ad in Taxi Driver Application form

The document, issued by the council, makes clear, if you can read, that it is also available in large print or audio format for those with sight problems

Perhaps this explains why we always get taken the long way around- the bastards can't see the road signs...

Disney in the Dock

I've just read a headline (Disney attacked over lack of disabled princesses) about  its new film The Princess and The Frog which features a black princess, but the company is still being criticised for its alleged lack of diversity.

I wonder exactly how many real disabled princesses there are?  Not many I would hazard, so perhaps Disney is accurate in its representations...

Everyone is Welcome

I am always amazed at the laid back attitude Asia has in its cinemas.  There seem to be no age limits in seeing films (we had a father bring his two kids along and they were around 4-5?), people quite happily chat through the show on their mobiles and yesterday, I can add another first to the list.

How about waiter service to your chair as the film is running?

Seriously, we saw a chap deliver to meals on trays to people watching the movie.  Quite excellent.  :o)

Edge of Darkness

I grew out of Mel Gibson after the second Lethal Weapon and haven't seen much of his stuff since.  Yesterday we went to the cinema, our first movie at the pictures of the year and saw the above titled effort with Gibson and Ray Winstone.

Thoroughly enjoyed it and both guys (plus the supporting cast) played their parts well, in particular Winstone doing his stereotypical heavy/fix-it role.

The plot won't tax too many as homicide Plod, Thomas Craven, (Gibson) investigates the death of his activist daughter, who discovers not only her secret life, but a corporate cover-up and government collusion that attracts an agent Darius Jedburgh (Winstone) tasked with cleaning up the evidence.

Good action despite a slow start (necessary to outlining the story) with realistic stunts and some very clever/witty dialogue; again,Winstone landing the best lines.

Worth a visit to the flicks but only if you get to pay IDR 35 000 for extra plush and comfy seats.  That's just over two quid.

Rehearsed, Practised and Utterly Fake

Tony Blair has been accused of delivering a "piece of spin" after claiming that Iran's support for insurgents almost caused the failure of the British-US mission in Iraq. 

Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Tehran, dismissed the former prime minister's claims and added that future government leaders should show much greater integrity when dealing with global security issues.

Meanwhile, Colonel Richard Kemp, a former Army commander in Afghanistan, said the main reason that Iraq began to "unravel" was the lack of post-war planning by the British and American governments.
In his evidence on Friday to the Iraq Inquiry, Mr Blair said that many of the arguments which led him to confront Saddam Hussein now applied to the regime in Tehran.
Mr Blair attacked the Iranians for fomenting the insurgency which followed the invasion of Iraq by British and US forces, and he said that they must not now be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

He said that if action had not been taken in 2003 to topple Saddam, Iraq could now be locked in a nuclear arms race with Iran with potential devastating consequences for the region and the wider world.

But Sir Richard, who is now a fellow at the Chatham House think tank, said: "I thought his description of what was happening in Iraq during his time was a piece of spin.

"It wasn't that the operation nearly failed because the Iranians and al-Qaeda did things that were not expected, it was that there were serious mistakes made, and to say that Iran was the principal reason seems to me to be part of a broader argument he was trying to make, namely that it makes what he did in Iraq look better if he extends it to the future and says the polices then might have to be applied. But Iran is a completely different situation."

Speaking on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, he added: "One result of Tony Blair's intervention on Iran – he mentioned Iran 58 times – is to put the question of confronting Iran into play in the election.

"We need to be much clearer, as voters, with our politicians and with our candidates that we expect a different behaviour and a greater integrity in our democracy next time."

Col Kemp said he agreed that Iran had a destabilising influence in Iraq and was responsible for the deaths of British soldiers.

But he added: "The main reason why the mission started to unravel so quickly was the lack of post-warning planning by both the British and US governments and by their respective military chiefs.
"Al-Qaeda quickly got a foothold in the north of the country and along with disaffected Sunni's quickly filled the vacuum created by the collapse of Saddam's regime. Those events were not predicted and that is why the mission derailed."

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the Army, said that fighting another Iraq-type war could potentially be disastrous for the armed forces.
He wrote: "Please do not place the armed forces of this country in this kind of position again. In risking our lives, we must believe that the cause is just and place our trust in our Government's integrity. Anything else spells disaster."

Auto Rickshaw

The tuk-tuk (or bajaj as it is called here) death machines we referred to earlier.  What's an MOT?

Saving Grace

Where we are located it's a bit barren.  Bugger all here aside from a taxi rank, fancy car show rooms and little shacks flogging all kinds of stuff from food to motor oil.  No night life to speak of and yet there is a HUGE block of flats opposite the hotel, looking depressingly like the Death Star from Star Wars (except it's not round).

It really is massive and one wonders what life goes on inside for the inhabitants.  Where do they go for fun?  Last night we found out as we ventured inside the complex and it was like walking into Aladdin's cave.

The building had an internal square come forecourt and it was buzzing with eateries, bars, and people, all having a good time.  So we stayed, made friends and can report back that a large Bintang was IDR 17 000 (~£1.15 ) all in- the cheapest price to date.  A top night.  :o)

Somethng Missing

As is the norm in Asia, chopsticks and spoons/fork are always to hand for piling food into one's face.  Knives on the other hand are rare.

How does one spread butter on toast then?

They had to send a waiter out to the kitchen to get me one and as soon as I did, the lady sitting next to my table requested one too.

But You Can Sling Your Hook

Getting a good table in the breakfast area is prime if at a business/airport hotel (as Sanno claims anyway) and you need to use your lappie off the mains.

I'm sitting here in flow creative flow (erm...) and starting my egg scran, when I am approached by two chain smoking Chinese men in suits.  Bad English reveals they wish to share my table to get access to the power point, but I politely ask to leave.

They seem affonted, as indeed I am- get cigarettes out of my food and face or put them out.

The penny drops and they extinguish their nicotine dummies and join the party.

Surfing in the Breakfast Room

One advantage of not having access to a wi-fi signal in your room and needing to use downstairs (two, actually, wifey gets to sleep without a tapping noise in the background) is that I can take breakfast.

Ah, my double egg, fluffy omelette and toast has just arrived.  :o)

That Takes Courage

As we were walking around the square, we were approached by a trio of likeable lads.  The ring leader nervously asked (in English) if we would answer some questions for their school project.  how could we refuse?

Producing a mini cassette recorder they "interviewed" us and we all had a laugh answering their list of questions.  We were impressed at their linguistic skills and they loved that we had toured their country more than just as holiday makers for two weeks in the sun.

Good luck in school boys-hope you get full marks.

Petrol Here

Is rather cheap at around fifty pence per litre.   That makes it well under half price compared to the UK.

Jak In Pictures

Merdeka Square

Lapangan Merdeka or Merdeka Square is a large square located in the centre of the city of and it is surrounded by government buildings such as the Presidential Palace, the Supreme Court and various government ministries.  In the middle is the National Monument and that is just about all I can tell you about it.

I'll try uploading some piccies as it really is quite unremarkable...

A Full Day's Sightseeing

And despite seeing nearly all Jakarta has to offer, I'm left with the feeling it's not a favourite city.

Bad smells, poor pavements, rubbish strewn streets, stagnant waters alongside the traffic jammed roads- it's quite frankly a quite ghastly place and after a mere two days, we're ready to jump ship and return home to Bangkok.

Our flight leaves in a few hour's time and we're already packed and counting down the time.


Critics search for ages for the wrong word, which, to give them credit, they eventually find.

- Peter Ustinov 

Once Again In the Last Minute

Tottenham threw away a golden opportunity to consolidate their 4th spot in the Premiership after allowing Birmingham to equalise in the 91st minute.  Sound familiar?  Here we go again; missing out on the points because they can't play to the end of the game.  :-(

Newcastle also slipped with a 0-0draw away to Leicester, while Southend also were held 2-2 at home to Swindon.

No wins for any of our teams this weekend.  Bummer.

Comfort Food

The average household uses a toaster every 3.3 days.

Ours has been laying redundant for a month at the Imm, but tomorrow, my beauty, tomorrow the Marmite shall once again rise.  And it gets used at least daily.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Northern Fairies

PARENTS in the North say they are 'deeply shamed' after new figures revealed their children are lightweights, unable to handle a proper session.

New government figures show record numbers of Northern youngsters being admitted to hospital with 'alcohol-related illness', after consuming as little as four pints of weak, effervescent Australian lager.

Lancashire parent, Tom Logan, said: "Kids these days don't have the commitment or discipline to handle session drinking. They throw up at the drop of a hat, and worse still they often crawl off to bed after being sick rather than just carrying on as if nothing's happened, like you're supposed to.

"Parents are responsible for teaching their children how to drink, and that means leading by example even if you end up losing your job and have to sell all your chairs to Cash Converters."

Drinking consultant Emma Bradford suggested that one possible solution could lie in 'twinning' the under-14s with a borderline alcoholic scaffolder or travelling marquee erector at least twice their age.

She said: "Placing children under the mentorship of an itinerant manual worker, ideally a burly male with a neck tattoo and at least one deeply bitter divorce behind him, creates a great context for experiencing heavy drinking and also a keen sense of how shit the world is.

"I also recommend starting reluctant young drinkers on shorts rather than beer, as spirits offer a higher alcohol content per volume, ideal for smaller stomachs."

Stephen Malley, 13, from Leeds, said: "There's a lot of pressure from friends to study diligently and spend weekends playing cricket or going orienteering, like some fucking poof.

"Personally I'd rather go out Friday and wake-up Sunday in a skip. I guess you just have to be strong-willed."



Iraq inquiry uncovers need for a much better Iraq inquiry

Iraq inquiry uncovers need for a much better Iraq inquiry thumbnail
The Iraq inquiry has uncovered the need for a much better Iraq inquiry after chairman Sir John Chilcot shared his “frustration” at not being able to review classified documents.

After listening and seeing only the evidence that the Government feels it is appropriate for the inquiry to review, Sir John is expected to conclude his inquiry by recommending a much better inquiry.
“We have heard testimony from lots of people with very little to say of any interest, because all the really interesting stuff is classified,” said Sir John.
“At this rate it’s going to be very difficult to justify the sort of public flaying of the guilty parties that we were all hoping would happen at the end of the inquiry.”
“If I didn’t know better, I would say that those questioned are formulating answers in such a way as to divert my attention away from their criminal intent.”
“It’s just not cricket.”


Sir John claimed he had wanted greater powers from the outset, but has been held back by a meddling public who insisted in seeing everything that happened.
“I was quite happy having the inquiry behind closed doors, but you lot, the bloody public, wanted to see it all.  Well I hope you’re happy.”
“How can I put the frighteners on someone in front of the television cameras?”
“I watched two box sets of Law & Order  - back to back - in order to prepare this inquiry, and because you lot insisted on watching, I can’t use any of the techniques I learned.”
“I just hope that when this all concludes and nobody is found guilty of anything, you’re all happy.”


Pedal Power

The city of Copenhagen has become the world's first official bike city.

The award was issued by the International Cycling Union (UCI) because of the way cycling is promoted and adopted in the Danish capital.  Currently 36% of all Copenhageners cycle more than 1.2 million kilometres each day- thanks to the city having 300 kilometres of bicycle paths.

It is also predicted that by 2015, 50% of the city's inhabitants will bike to work or school.


If Microsoft were a nation, its revenue would be the 16th highest GDP in the world.

Getting Back

From the shopping malls to the hotel we are told it's about 15 minutes to walk but as with everything advertised here, it's a little distorted and frankly a load of cobblers.  I'm a quick walker and I'd be hard pushed to make it in under twenty minutes- if I even knew all the short cuts.

So we picked up a tuk-tuk which happily dived into the mad rush hour traffic and somehow managed to get us to the hotel in one piece.  The tuks here are not the same as the usual ones we've used in the past and are smaller and possibly even more dangerous.  (See photos later).

Like a small micro-van at the back and jacked up on tiny wheels, these orange death traps are nimble and kamikaze-like, 2-stroke stinkers, belching out poisonous fumes all around the clock.  We had a ball and even though we got striped at IDR 10 000 (I could have sworn he mentioned just one thousand at the off) it was worth every penny.

Con Merchants

The Sanno hotel boasts a large amount of facilities on its site and as yet proves to deliver either very little or the bare minimum.  One of the extras is a free shuttle bus into town/the shopping malls Jakarta has and so we enquired about it.

A blank row of expressions greeted us from the reception staff and said it all as no one appeared to have a clue- even when we pointed out the notice on the desk, advertising the feature.  Admittedly it was tucked away in the corner under an inch of dust...

Eventually they seemed to magic up a driver who took us into the city in a company vehicle, but you got the distinct impression it was not a daily or regular facility and just a one off.  Shame, they are going to have to do it again for us tomorrow...

MInd You

At least the internet is sound and it's also accurate.  We're entitled to two free hours per day and it's on a timer, so one doesn't have to use the access in all one go.  I have to admit to having had doubts, but having logged on again after my first hour, it's good to see I have around the same amount of time left.  :o)

Made Us Smile

As we were in the car coming out of the airport, I jokingly commented that we had more choice of TV channel there, than we could expect in the hotel.  I wasn't wrong.

Just three English choices with HBO (film), ESPN (sport) and CNN (news).

As ever, the bigger the hotel, the tighter the place. :-(

Hotel Prices

And you can tell you're in the big city just by looking at the hotel price list.  Not only are the cost of items notably high (can of small Coke IDR 15 000 and a large Bintang IDR 32 000/bottle) but the ever present but hidden government tax of 10% has to be added, and another whopping 17.5% "service" charge.

That's almost another third on top of the actual price!

A Quick Look at Jakarta

Wow, what a difference to Bali and the rest of Java we've seen so far.  A massive, snarling, spitting, city that really isn't all that attractive. 

We've only had a brief glimpse of it but so far it's a bit hectic and slightly intimidating; at least the traffic is.

Tomorrow we're off to the river front and to check out the recommended sights and museums with camera in tow, so we'll be able to offer a bigger picture after that.  But so far, it's not the most soothing of places.

Friday, 29 January 2010

That's the American Language

Only 7% of Americans pronounce the second "s" in the word "asterisk".

I wonder how many spell it with "x"s?

'Scuse the Typos and Errors

I'm using the track pad and sitting in the foyer to get my two hours of free internet, hence plentiful mistakes.  Wifey won't be editing either as she can't get access, so it's a case of we'll just have to make do.  Hopefully it won't spoil the Blog too much, but big fat fingers and a smaller than full size keyboard don't make happy bed partners.

And the fact I'm thick doesn't help enormously either, of course...

But The Hotel?

I wouldn't deem it unfair to liken it to a toilet.  A less than new karzi at that.

It was probably quite grand in the sixties- sixteen sixties at that, but now it is tired, old fashioned, worn, shabby and well past it's best before date.  They claim to be under refurbishment but suspect it's like a closing down sale most cheap shops advertise; they just never happen.

Having been promised a non-smoking room, we were promptly give a room which stank of  fags and not only had burn marks on all the furniture, but an ash tray next to the bed.  And this was on a signed "non-smoking" floor.

The next room was marginally better but ash in the dirty dustbin (and more scorch marks) gave the game away and we accepted it as after the air con kicked in, it began to smell OK.

Once again, with artistic impression photographs, touched up shots and misrepresentations on the website, it looks far better than it is but for two nights it will do.  We won't be in much and hope to be out and about shortly to see what's on offer.

Saying that, at round £27 a night in a big city, what else could one expect?  There are grander hotels about, but not worth it as we will be back in BKK the day after tomorrow,  *yay*

Back to This Limo Then

It's not as grand as it sounds but as we've had our fill of airport taxi drivers knowing "exactly" where our  hotels are and then getting hopelessly lost, every time, we let the hotel arrange a collection service for us.

It always feels a little special to see your name held out on a placard and we were picked up by an "executive car" (including leather seats, air con, a charming driver and live TV in the back- he even gave me the remote control to change channels :oD) for the thirty minute (plus) drive.  A bit expensive perhaps, as his meter read just under IDR 100 000and the hotel added another twenty on for their "efforts" but we have his card now if we want to deal directly for the return trip.

We'll probably get a normal cab for half but it's to splurge occasionally.

Smoking in Java

It's quite horrendous as everyone seems hell bent on catching some sort of smoke related disease as quickly as possible.  Nor do they care when, where or what they chuff on, as long as they look cool and can take a break.

Anyway, as an ex-smoker I can hardly preach but the airport made me smile.  The provided a smoking lounge and an open air area for the nicotine addicted and yet, people were still comfortably ignoring the "no smoking" signs and lighting up anywhere they preferred, including the cafes and dining areas.

But The Hard Sell Still Exists

Even in the shops at the airport at 08:00 had sales staff waiting to pounce on you as soon as you set foot in the place.  A polite "good morning" and a smile is great, but do not attach yourself to my shoulder as I browse to kill off time.

More so, if you do happen to ask "can I help you?" at least be able to understand my request in English as it wastes both of our time, repeating it endlessly and with growing frustration.  You asked me, remember?

If the language is a concern (and I don't hold anyone responsible for that) then just lie low and let me browse without shadowing me.  Thanks.

Departure Tax

We were aware it was due but not sure of the exact cost, having read differing amounts.  For domestic flights on a foreign passport, we had to cough IDR 30 000 each, which was a bonus as we had ear marked fifty thousand.

We'll let you know what the fee is for international flights but hope it's the good side of IDR 150 000- that's what we have for that.  :o)

Ngurah Rai Airport

Is the correct name for Bali Airport and it's rather pleasant.

Minimal fuss getting checked in, security was no hassle and hardly any queuing and although we went through two X-ray checks, even that was no problem.  They didn't even ask me to heave out the lappie and we could take drinks through.  Mind you, Asia is far more relaxed about checks and similar and it was an internal flight.

We had access to all facilities for grabbing coffee, a snack, breakfast and some shops to occupy your waiting time and they even offered three free internet terminals (although one was knacked) for people to check up on their emails.

Very comfortable and the time passed by without any hint of boredom setting in.

But Let's Stick With Tradition

And have a quick review of the morning's events, so that anyone following in our footsteps will be able to do so with all available knowledge.

First off, we had to get to Bali airport, which was perhaps a 15-20 minute stroll away from Mandara Bungalows but with rain threatening and luggage, even we opted for the taxi.  Hailing one, even at 07:30 in the morning was a cinch and within IDR 10 000 later, were had arrived.

karTER Has Landed in Jakarta

How long have I just been itching to use that title?  :o)

Anyhoo, one most excellent Air Asia flight (just over and hour and a half) later, we have left the bawling kids and thunderstorms behind (it was a wet, thundery night giving way to an overcast and damp morning) in Bali and are now in Java's; indeed Indonesia's, capital city.

We landed bang on time and were greeted by a hot sunny day and whisked off to our hotel via a limo service. Well, we have to spoil ourselves once in a while, after all.

And That's It For Now

OK, the laptop is going to be packed away as we get set for the off.

There will be patchy updates to the Blog in Jakarta as we only have a limited amount of time available on the internet when we get to our new home- it may be a flash gaff but it's sure tight.  They only include two hours free of charge and then one pays at IDR 45 000 (£3.00) per hour (or something like that).

In our little bungalows, we get 24 hours for 70p!

Why do hotels do this?  It costs them bog all to offer wi-fi to their patrons once the facility has been installed and it is easy to do, yet all the major chains in the big cities hold you up for ransom.  Stupid and short sighted.

Anyway, we're only staying a couple of nights and so will be doing all the sights, leaving us too busy to Blog.  We expect to be back after the weekend, when we land back in BKK and at the Imm.

And we can't wait to come back home.  :o)

More Vit C Required

Canada has the most per capita cases of scurvy of any developed nation.

Meanwhile, Just Up the Road

How convenient is this?

We are within a fifteen minute walk up the road from the airport.

What with taxis rife on the road for hailing and all of them using their meters, this makes for one of the easiest (and cheapest) airports to access to date. Neat.

Good Timing on Departing

Our new next door neighbours, who arrived yesterday, have a young family- including a mobile squawk box.  The delightful little cherub decided to wake up all and sundry at 03:00 and then at 05:00 and is now clearing his lungs once more.

Quite excellent timing for our escape then.

Ain't That Typical?

We're off shortly to catch our flight to Jakarta and as I pick up the lappie to pack it away, the internet connection is the best yet, locking on instantly and first time.  The only time it has done so since our second visit to Mandara Bungalows.  :o)

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Bye-Bye Bali, It's Been Brilliant

Dad's At Home

Fathers will be able to take up to six months off on paternity leave while their baby’s mother returns to work, the Government is due to announce and they will have a legal right to take the place of the mother at home for the last three months of her nine-month maternity break.

Fathers will be eligible to statutory government pay of £123 a week during that three month paternity leave and they would then be allowed to take an additional unpaid three months off, in effect providing families with 12 months of parental leave.

More at TTel.

The Skycouch


After two years of R & D, the world's first economy "lie flat bed" for passengers has been unveiled by Air New Zealand.

From next April, those flying economy from London Heathrow to Auckland will be able to put it to the test on the mind numbingly long 26 hour journey.  It takes up no more space than a conventional economy seat, so the airline will not lose passenger numbers; although a couple will have to buy a third ticket at half the standard fare to be able to lie together.

The bed is activated on rows of three seats, which look like standard economy seating until a button on the armrest is pressed. This raises what looks like an elongated foot rest, which becomes a mattress panel abutting the seat in front. Passengers can then sleep across the cabin, with two adults just about able to lie shoulder to shoulder.

Shame it won't be an option for us- we're looking at Air New Zealand for our transfer from Sydney to Auckland for our tour of New Zealand.  Then again, it's not 26 hours for the flight either.  Thankfully.

More at TTimes.

Smoking Display to go Underground

Cigarette displays in shops and supermarkets will be banned in Scotland from next year after the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Bill, was approved by 108 votes to 15 at its final legislative stage in Holyrood, Scotland.  It will also ban cigarette vending machines, introduce a registration scheme for retailers who will sell from under the counter and create fixed penalty notices for retailers who sell cigarettes to under 18s.

Scottish government ministers claim that the legislation will help to tackle Scotland’s smoking-related health problems and follows the success of the ban on smoking in public places, which took effect four years ago.

And you can bet your last pound that the same idea will head down the border before long.

Full sp at TTimes.

And in All the Excitement

Of moving rooms and losing our connection into the world, I have to mention that Tottenham are still clinging to fourth spot in the Premiership after Tuesday's 2-0 win against Fulham.  *yay*

1 Man Utd 23 34 50
2 Arsenal 22 34 48
3 Chelsea 21 34 48
4 Tottenham 23 20 41
5 Liverpool 23 14 38
6 Man City 21 12 38
7 Aston Villa 21 11 36
8 Birmingham 21 2 33
9 Fulham 22 0 27
10 Everton 21 -4 26
11 Stoke 21 -7 25
12 Blackburn 22 -16 24
13 Sunderland 21 -8 23
14 Wigan 20 -21 22
15 Bolton 21 -13 21
16 West Ham 22 -9 20
17 Wolves 22 -21 20
18 Burnley 22 -22 20
19 Hull 22 -26 19
20 Portsmouth 21 -14 15

That's Going to Smart in the Morning

Duly Noted

275x250.jpgAn individual Chinese banknote, with a face value of just 10p, has sold at auction for a record £80 000.

The extremely rare 1 Yuan note dates back to 1909 and was the first of its type to be available for public purchase after being produced by the Kwangsi bank.

It features 2 black dragons signifying the prowess of the Emperor and Monarch and accordingly named as the "Ooi-Long note", in the middle "Xuan Tong Yuan Bao".

To date, only 3 examples of this rare note have been discovered and as the Kwangsi bank was reorganised in 1911 not many are likely to still exist.

The note, sold at an auction by Spink, was snapped up by a Taiwanese Collector.
From Newslite.

Look, No Hands

A football "freestyler" has set a new world record by keeping a football in the air for 13 hours while completing a 36 mile tour of London.

Dan Magness visited London's five Premier League grounds during his marathon 13 hour keepy-uppy which finished at White Hart Lane. He was watched by adjudicators from Guinness World Records and he was allowed to keep the ball off the ground using all parts of his body, except his hands.


How to Make F1 Interesting

But only briefly...

Money to Burn

A rare Bugatti which was found at the bottom of a Swiss lake has been sold at auction for £226 000.

The 1925 touring Bugatti was pushed into Lake Maggiore by an over zealous tax official in 1936 after the owner abandoned it having failed to pay the import tax.  Since then the Type 22 has been corroding 160 feet below the surface of the water, until its recent recovery.

It was sold for 260 500 € at a Paris auction with the winning bidder saying they will keep it in its present state rather than restoring it.

Toon Pull Clear at the Top

Newcastle beat Crystal Palace 2-0 last night and are once more sitting proud at the top of the league.  :o)


Nottm Forest
West Brom
Sheff Utd
Crystal Palace

Coming Up This Weekend

Saturday, 30th January 2010
Barclays Premier League
The Coca-Cola Football League Championship
Leicester v Newcastle @ 17:20
Coca-Cola Football League One
Southend v Swindon @ 15:00
Bielefeld should be back in "action" after the January shut down in the German Bundesliga.

Bali, The Better Side

We've been quite critical of the beach and rightly so; it's pretty minging if you see it in all it's glory before an army of cleaners (including a couple of bulldozers; I kid you not) give it an airbrush over with industrial brooms.  However, we can understand why honeymooners select Kuta Beach as a place to celebrate their marriage.  Here's why:

Costing Up Bali


- Massive double bed, good quality cotton linen and solid mattress
- Cable TV that includes four film channels, three sports, at least half a dozen news options and well over double figures for documentaries, family, cartoon and general interest programmes.  Not to mention another forty odd local and foreign speaking selections (German, French, Italian, Dutch, Slavic, Japanese, Chinese- the list is endless.
- Unlimited, almost free (70 pence a day) wi-fi internet access (usually reliable and fairly fast)
- Hot & cold water, plus both bath and shower
- Air conditioning
- Breakfast
- Swimming pool
- Beautiful gardens
- Quiet
- Friendly and respectful neighbours

All of that and more for just twenty four quid a night, all in.


- Cost of weekly laundry:  around a pound a week, let's call that 15p a day.
- Eating out:  good quality local food can be had for around two quid a head, with western style available for slightly more.  Call it a fiver per day on grub plus your freebie breakfast.
- Large Bintang beer can be had for IDR 16 500 ++ (happy hour) but we pay around IDR 22 000 all in, any time.  That's less than £1.50.
- Transport:  local taxi (yes, I am plugging cabs!) on the meter from one end of the drag to the other, less than 70 pence.
- Swimming:  free at Mandara or in the sea.  Water is dirty close to the shore due to the grey sand and floating debris, but it's OK further out.

Getting There

- Flying directly from Bangkok will set you back around fifty notes one way with Air Asia if booked long enough in advance.  Bargain.

If you look at it like that, it doesn't seem a lot to pay for a holiday in tropical bliss- provided you pick the right end of the beach to find your digs.

Street Sellers

Again we refer to these menaces who will try anything to strike up conversation and then mug you off with your "prize".  From dodgy Oz and Cockney accents to welcomes of long lost brotherhood, you'll get pamphlets and scratch cards thrust at you from all directions.  It really does get irksome to keep politely smiling while declining their clumsy attempts to extort cash from your wallet.

Today's rebuke came as I was once again accosted and the chap insisted he wanted to give me a leaflet.  I declined as he boldly said that everyone got one and so I asked him to give then to a couple of locals strolling past.  They cracked up as he sheepishly admitted it was just for tourists...

No kidding.

So Long, Nelson

Tomorrow we leave Mandara Bungalows and head off to Jakarta.

I can remember stumbling across the place a couple of weeks ago and feeling quite elated that we had discovered digs that were affordable and offered us all the facilities we need to enjoy a prolonged stay.

I can also remember the relief at thinking we were leaving the grot pit we were staying in the first night we landed in Kuta.

It's been a glorious stay and we've enjoyed ourselves so much that we intend to return at some point, probably next year.  Next time we'll bring company though as it will suit all the in-laws, irrespective of age.

I'll leave you with the view from our bedroom window:

Sound Battery

Having taken plenty of snaps and even a couple of vids (we'll upload some monkey nonsense to YouTube in Bangkok) over the last three weeks plus, the battery has only just given up today.  Most impressed with our Panasonic DMC- FX12.

Strewth, We Win

Mens 3 vs Witham 3                 Won 3-1           Scorers: Pieman, Catchpole, Clarky

MOM:   Cheeky Chappers
JOS:     Kieran Leaver

We had to win this so we did; this was your classic six pointer and although we only got three points it pushed us little closer to survival. With a much changed side again we welcomed debutant Grant (or is it Brant?) Chapman, a sprightly young lad from Shoeburyness; good luck with your hockey career with the club and I’m sure you will do well judging on this performance.

Anyway things didn’t get off too well; Kieran tried jumping the fence only to find it was a gate that swung mid-jump seeing him land ungracefully on his posterior. It’s not every match we have a nailed on winner for the jacket of shame before we even start but Kieran kindly obliged. Next he got flattened by The Ginger One Fessey’0 both going for the same ball gifting the opposition with a goal scoring chance that they duly took. Next came an understated team talk from Pieman, the basic gist of was that he knew we were playing badly but he couldn’t put his finger on why. It did the trick however and we took his advice, had a think and worked out individually the reason; we were rubbish.

So playing a lot better we got stuck into them and after a sustained period of pressure, scored; a Pieman reverse hit goal, scored; a Clarky special, scored; a mini Trunchpole sniffer. Three points and game over with several inspired second half performances from likes of Kieran, Brent and others too numerous to mention, we retired to their clubhouse to gloat.

By way of punishment for an Old Southendian clean sweep over Witham, they served us with the most revolting tea I’ve ever had the misfortune of having; sliced up hot-dog sausages in a bitter tomato sauce served with over cooked pasta. Even the real pigs in the side couldn’t stomach it and left to go down the pub for a nice crisp supper.


Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Bon Voyage to Bruv & Sis-in-law

Sharon & Dave must be getting all excited as they are due to fly out to Goa on Friday.  Have a great time and please say "hi" to Julie.  Here's something to ponder too:

Discounted trips to Goa and Kerala next month start with flights from Gatwick on Thursdays or Manchester on Fridays for six nights’ B&B in Goa, and continue by overnight train to Kerala. An escorted tour in the southern state includes B&B in three resorts and a night’s full board on a houseboat. The 14-night Goaway trip now costs from £699. 020-7258 7800

Burka Banned

Muslim women face a ban on full veils on French transport and in other public services by the end of this year under proposals today from a cross-party Parliamentary Commission.  MPs predicted that a law outlawing the niqab or other face covering in state services would pass into law within months.

More at TTimes.

The Gadgy With the Beret, Right?

More people recognize Mao Zedong than any other person in the world.

More Grim Reading

TTimes offers us a Q & A on the recession:

How bad is it?
The recession is finally over, according to these figures, but the minimal 0.1 per cent growth was well below many economists’ forecasts, fuelling fears that the economy has failed to emerge from the downturn. There are also concerns that these initial estimates could be revised down still further. The main drivers of what anaemic growth there was were retail sales and motor trading, sectors that have benefited from temporary government stimulus packages

Is a double-dip inevitable?
Not necessarily, but it is a serious risk. The Government has little room for further stimulus packages and is under serious pressure to spend less in an attempt to repair the public finances. This would involve cutting public spending and raising taxes, placing further burdens on businesses and consumers. Unemployment is likely to continue rising and companies will not be in a good position to create new jobs until demand picks up significantly. It is quite possible that GDP could fall for one or two quarters this year. Technically GDP would need to fall for two consecutive quarters to be called a double-dip recession, but some economists have coined the term “mini-dip”, signalling a quarter of falling output after an exit from recession
Have we been here before?
Yes. In the recession in the early 1990s, the economy appeared to recover in the final quarter of 1991. After four consecutive quarters of negative growth, GDP rose by 0.1 per cent between October and December and a further 0.1 per cent in the first quarter of 1992, but then sank by 0.2 per cent in the third quarter. Only in the fourth quarter did the recovery get under way as the economy grew by 0.5 per cent

Is this the deepest and longest recession ever?
It is the longest recession since comparable quarterly records began in 1955, lasting for six consecutive quarters. GDP fell for five consecutive quarters in the early 1980s, with several quarters of contraction in 1979. The main falls in GDP from mid-1979 to 1981 showed a total drop in national output of nearly 6 per cent — the same as in this recession

Were we the last major economy in recession?
Nearly. While we are the last country in the G20 to emerge from recession, the Spanish and Greek economies are still in the doldrums

Why were we so slow to come out of recession?
Not only did our economy rely more on financial services than many others, but the problems in the banking sector and the collapse of Lehman Brothers also badly shook consumer confidence. This, coupled with the high levels of debt that many households had accumulated, led to a sharp drop in demand, which in turn took a heavy toll of businesses. The pain has been made worse by the dire state of the public finances

Keeping the Faith

Heavy metal fans are being urged to keep the faith - by lobbying for their love of rock to be recognised as a ''religion''. 

They are being asked to officially register their faith as ''heavy metal'' while filling in the next Census questionnaire.

In the last census, a similar campaign led to 390,000 UK residents listing their religion as Jedi - the fictional creed created for the Star Wars movie saga.
Rock magazine Metal Hammer launched its campaign last week and has already attracted nearly 10,000 followers to a Facebook group.

It has even gained the backing of a metal figurehead, Saxon frontman Biff Byford, whom the magazine says will become the proposed faith's ''world metal peace ambassador'' if the campaign proves successful.

Metal can trace its roots back at least four decades, probably to the release of Black Sabbath's debut album, although many have argued that Helter Skelter by The Beatles may well be among the earliest tracks.

Other acts who flew the flag for the denim and leather-clad metal community over the years and helped the scene to develop include Judas Priest, Saxon, Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Metallica.

Despite splintering into an array of niche genres, the heavy metal community still thrives.

Although the 2001 campaign drew a large level of support, with more people listing themselves as Jedis than Sikhs, the Office For National Statistics pointed out at the time that this did not make it an official religion. In fact, Jedis were actually counted under the category of ''no religion''.

However, that campaign was credited with boosting the number of responses from those in their late teens and 20s.

Alexander Milas, editor of Metal Hammer, said: ''Like a lot of good ideas, this one came about in a pub and the response online has been overwhelming.

''It only reinforces the belief that heavy metal remains strong in its UK birthplace and across the globe. If the Jedi can do it, then we can too.

''The only requirement to join our campaign is that you listen to heavy metal, our commandment: everything louder than everyone else.''

From TTel.

The Metric Way

Reliably Unreliable

The manager of a recruitment firm has been told she could not place an advert for ''reliable workers'' because it discriminated against unreliable people.  A spokesburd for the Campaign Against Political Correctness said:

''This situation is absolutely ridiculous- of course people want reliable workers and of course employers should be able to ask for them.  If they can't advertise for what they actually want then the system is broken. They won't be able to find workers who meet their criteria. In order to have decided that the word 'reliable' can't be used they must have put a great deal of thought and time into it.

That time could be better spent getting the right people to apply for the right jobs - which is what this advert was trying to do in the first place.'' 

I'm laughing my back off over this.  Utterly preposterous.

Whole story at TTel.
BLiar and his ministers went to war in Iraq despite repeated warnings from senior Government advisers that they had “no leg to stand on” legally.

During evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry into the war against Saddam, it emerged that Foreign Office lawyers were “unanimous” in their view that going to war without a United Nations mandate would be a “crime of aggression” likely to damage Britain’s standing in the world. 

So let's try him for his war crimes and stop filibustering.

More at TTel.

As it Stands

The longest and deepest recession since the war has seen Britain's economy contract for a record six consecutive quarters. TTel charts the story of the slump so far:


August: The credit crunch grips financial markets as banks lose trust in assets based on high-risk mortgages and refuse to lend to each other - hitting lending in the wider economy.
September: Lender Northern Rock gets emergency help from Bank of England (BoE) and a run on the bank begins.
November: Nationwide says the average cost of a home in the UK fell 0.8% during the month - the first drop since February 2006 and the biggest monthly fall since June 1995.
December: BoE makes its first rate cut from 5.75% to 5.5%, while central banks worldwide intervene in an attempt to ease money market freeze.


February: Northern Rock is nationalised after efforts to sell it fail.
March: US investment bank Bear Stearns is bailed out by the Government and then sold.
UK manufacturing output begins to decline.
April-June: The UK economy enters recession - declining 0.1%. This ends a run of 63 successive quarters of growth stretching back to 1992.
September: Lehman Brothers collapses - triggering financial meltdown. Lloyds TSB takes over HBOS, while Bradford and Bingley is nationalised.
October: BoE cuts rates by 0.5% to 4.5% in co-ordinated emergency move with other central banks.
UK Government spends £37 billion on shares in Lloyds, HBOS and Royal Bank of Scotland to prop them up.
October-December: The UK economy shrinks by 1.8%.


January to March: the UK economy contracts by 2.5% - the biggest quarter-quarter decline in more than 50 years.
January: Recession finally becomes a reality as official figures confirm the economy is shrinking at its fastest pace since 1980.
The pound falls to a seven-and-a-half-year low against the dollar.
Government unveils more measures to boost lending in the economy and takes a bigger stake in RBS.
February: Royal Bank of Scotland reports a loss of £24.1 billion for 2008, the biggest in UK corporate history.
Nationwide's house price index signals trough of housing market with average prices down 17.6% year on year.
Manufacturers complete 12 successive months of decline - the worst run since 1980 - with output 13.8% lower than a year ago.
March: Rates drop to 0.5% as the BoE votes to create £75 billion to boost the money supply through quantitative easing - effectively printing money.
Turner Review outlines proposals for reform of bank regulation.
April-June: Other major European economies such as France and Germany return to growth, but the UK economy declines by 0.7%
May: The BoE extends quantitative easing to £125 billion.
August: The BoE extends quantitative easing to £175 billion.
Surprise fall in manufacturing output stokes fears of 'double dip' recession after two previous months of recovery.
October: Shock figures for July-to-September period reveal 0.4% decline for UK economy when pull out of recession was expected - although the figure is later revised up to a 0.2% fall.
The UK recession has now lasted for a record six quarters.
November: RBS enters taxpayer-backed insurance scheme with £24.5 billion in extra capital from Government, taking public stake to 84%. Lloyds raises £22 billion from investors, keeping Govt share at 43%.
Both banks ordered to sell off branches and parts of business by European Commission due to competition concerns.
Bank of England expands QE by further £25 billion to £200 billion.

Doom & Gloom

Britain's economic recovery plans were thrown into turmoil after official figures showed that the country had limped weakly out of recession.  Growth was surprisingly low at just 0.1% during the final three months of 2009 . Experts had predicted that the economy would grow by 0.4% or more.

Although the 18 month recession has now technically ended, the lacklustre performance alarmed financial experts and raised fears of a further slump.

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, was forced to admit that the country could slip back into recession and a spokesman for McBroon warned of “bumpy times ahead”.  Britain is the last of the G7 group of leading nations to have come out of recession. 

More at TTel.

Unpaid O/T

British workers are putting in a massive 900 million unpaid hours work per year- while at home, a study of 3 000 office workers has found.  45% of people claim they take files home with them at a weekend to keep on top of their job.

One in five do additional hours to impress the boss and 12% even said they were individually clocking up a minimum of five hours unpaid work per week- that's 260 hours per year or 34.6 days.

And the worst of it is that it all counts for jack as one never gets their just rewards for the extra work or proper recognition. Who's the real mug?

The Wonderful English Language

The "Yeah, but no, but yeah" of Little Britain's Vicky Pollard has been named as the best TV comedy catchphrase, ever.

Matt Lucas's fast-talking teenager took top slot in a survey of over 3 000 TV fans ahead of Homer Simpson's "D'oh!"

"Am I bovvered?" from Catherine Tate's stroppy schoolgirl character Lauren was third with Victor Meldrew's classic "I don't belieeeve it" from One Foot in the Grave fourth.

Only Fools and Horses Del Boy Trotter's "lovely jubbly" completed the top five.

Great News

BRITAIN emerged from recession today as the economy grew by 15p.

The Office of National Statistics confirmed the end of the longest downturn in post-war history thanks to a chubby woman in Doncaster buying a Cadbury's Boost from a Shell garage at 11.20pm on New Year's Eve.

But experts warned the economy could easily be tipped back into recession if the woman buys something cheaper or, in the worst case scenario, decides to stop buying chocolate bars as part of some stupid, pointless diet she read about in Grazia.

Julian Cook, chief economist at Madeley-Finnegan, said: "Her bouncy chubbiness and the tell-tale chocolate deposits in the corner of her mouth should instil some confidence in nervous bond traders.

"Then again that same cuddly porkiness could lead to some form of health kick, in which case the entire country will be a plague-ridden, burnt-out shell by the start of Wimbledon."

He added: "We would like to see Alistair Darling introduce some temporary fiscal loosening to ensure this lovely, chunky woman retains her healthy appetite for mid-priced snacks."

A Treasury spokesman said that unlike the woman, the economy remained fragile, but stressed the recovery would not have been possible without the government's scrappage allowance to encourage owners of pre-1999 Topics and Curly Wurlys to trade them in for a brand new Boost, Double Decker or Toffee Crisp.

Karen Traynor, the chubby woman, said: "I went in for 10 Silk Cut but then I saw the Boost and thought 'may as well'.

"It were quite good."

DMash also getting in on the act.  :o)

Frankly, How I Feel

Absolutely no-one bothered about voting in ‘exceedingly dull’ General Election

Absolutely no-one bothered about voting in ‘exceedingly dull’ General Election thumbnail
Thanks to the wide selection of thoroughly uninteresting individuals to choose from, the number of people who feel a pressing need to vote in general elections is declining, according to a government-backed survey.

The survey of voter intentions showed that almost half the population ‘can’t be arsed’ to vote, mainly as the election organisers made little effort to ’sex it up a bit’.
One potential voter from Bracknell, Shelly James, explained, “I enjoy a good vote, honestly I do.”
“I voted for X Factor winner Joe McElderry 27 times, so nobody can say I don’t exercise my democratic rights as a citizen of this country.”
“But at least they made an effort to get my vote.  There were lots of flashing lights and a shiny stage and they all looked very, very pretty.”
“But this General Election thing sooo boring.  And to be honest, without Dermot or Davina to explain it to me and remind me of the number to call every fifteen seconds it all seems a little bit complicated.”


Labour policy makers are considering a proposal to have Gordon Brown release a pre-election cover version of a Miley Cyrus track in the hope of encouraging traditionally passive voters to make their way to the ballot box.
A Labour spokesperson said, “He can’t carry a tune, obviously, but neither could Jedward and according to the latest figures they’re currently 47 times more popular than Gordon.”
First time voters are particularly ambivalent towards the election, with 19 year-old Tracey Jones telling us, “I’m not sure who I want to vote for to be honest.  I think I’ll wait until I hear what Simon Cowell has to say about the contestants.”
“All I keep hearing about these two main parties, so I’m a bit disappointed I missed the early rounds when they knocked out all the interesting minor parties like the Greens, the BNP and the Liberal Democrats.”
“Is there some footage on YouTube where I can see their ritual humiliation in front of the nation purely for my entertainment?  I really like that.”
“Now, which party is it that Louis Walsh is going to manage?”