It was on August 15th 1999, one year after the Omagh bombing, that I stood with my wife and children outside a mini-market in Oldcastle, County Meath to observe a minute's silence. I remember feeling slightly uncomfortably British: that, and vaguely ashamed of such self-consciousness when I was meant to be thinking only of the bereaved. Today, Sean Hoey, was acquitted of committing the atrocity. The BBC's Kevin Connolly describes what the judge said:
"As we listened, it became clear slowly that [he] was not satisfied with the case. There was strongly worded criticism of how the police had collected, labelled and handled evidence. There was elegantly expressed scepticism at the extent to which scientists have validated a technique called Low Copy Number DNA - essentially the belief that workable evidence can be gathered from microscopic particles of material. Above all there was thinly veiled judicial anger that two police witnesses had 'beefed up' their statements - had lied, in plain English."
Simone Clarke, the ENB ballerina who's done so much to confirm the popular prejudice that the so-called high arts are enclaves of extreme idiocy, is now to marry her fellow nativist nitwit, the BNP councillor Richard Barnbrook. Hope you're savouring this still from HMS Discovery: A Love Story the - ahem - "art film" produced and directed by the Dickhead of Dagenham when he was a student. Not sure if any of these gorgeous Ayran bums belong to him, but I'm sure Simone will be in touch to let us know. Aah, sweet!
I haven't paid much attention to the Lib Dem leadership campaign, so for all I know Nick Clegg laid out a series of breathtakingly original and popular initiatives that will see him carried shoulder-high to Number 10, breaking the mould of British politics and liberating these great nations from poverty, the sub-prime crunchies and piles. But there I was at lunchtime in my subterranean temporary kitchen and someone comes on the radio to say he's appointed a (former) pop star to be his adviser on youth. Does Clegg actually believe that this is going to impress voters? Does he imagine that just because Brian Eno is a "serious" pop musician that people will take him more seriously than they do other other politicians? Is this how we're invited to make ballot box judgements these days? By which party's celebrity advisors project the greatest gravitas?
In the Telegraph, Rachel Sylvester finds a transatlantic parallel:
"Like the [Hilary] Clinton team, the Brownites argue that, when voters feel threatened by terrorism or economic downturn, they will hold on to a 'safe pair of hands' rather than turning to an untested newcomer. Competence, rather than charisma, is the buzz word. Like Hillary, Gordon prefers intellectual endeavour to emotional intelligence. He is uncomfortable with what he describes as 'all that touchy-feely stuff'.
The problem is that the Big Clunking Fist has started to look like a machine politician. Mr Brown's promise to create a "new kind of politics' was undermined by the Donorgate scandal, and his reputation for competence was damaged by the missing child benefit discs and the collapse of Northern Rock.
His decision to call off the election mattered because it gave the impression that he was more interested in retaining power, and destroying his opponents, than in governing Britain well. In his first substantial speech to the nation as Prime Minister, delivered at Labour's party conference, he dealt with a list of Middle England grievances rather than setting out a vision for the future of the country."
I think this underlines the extent to which Brown's strategy in his first hundred days was tailored towards a dash for the polls. It was all going so well up until the ninety-ninth. And since then? Nothing at all.
"BBC Radio 1 has said it will stand by its ban on the word 'faggot' from the Pogues' 1987 Christmas hit Fairytale of New York to avoid offence. The word, sung by the late Kirsty MacColl as she trades insults with Shane MacGowan, has been dubbed out. But MacColl's mother, Jean, called the ban 'too ridiculous', while the Pogues said they found it 'amusing'. The BBC said: 'We are playing an edited version because some members of the audience might find it offensive.' A Radio 1 spokeswoman said the station's management had met on Tuesday morning to discuss the issue. She said they 'had made their decision' and would not be going back on it."
Where to start? In the song, MacColl and MacGowan play the parts of characters who would use those terms of abuse. To enact is not to endorse. Meanwhile, the Beeb pays bully boy Chris Moyles and arrogant Jonathan Ross tons of our money to be offensive by their very presence. I may weep.