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The Glass Box for Friday

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Eddie Mair | 16:58 UK time, Friday, 23 November 2007

Good luck with trying to post a comment...


  1. At 02:19 PM on 24 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Our SERVICE continues.

    A tale of Two Jackasses.

    Life is a game. In order to have a game, something has to be more important than something else. If what already is, is more important than what isn't, the game is over. So, life is a game in which what isn't, is more important than what is. Let the good times roll.
    -- Werner Erhard

  2. At 05:54 PM on 24 Nov 2007, Martin Fordham wrote:

    Being a regular reader and a fan of pm and now ipm - I want to shout and complain about what BBC have done to another favourite prog of mine: HIGNFY...last night (hosted by Anne Widdicome ) was an absolute embrassment. I have one message for the producers of this prgramme: Get Eddie Mair as the permanent host!

    Mart Fordham

  3. At 08:15 PM on 24 Nov 2007, DI Wyman wrote:

    MF (2)

    In total agreement AND Paul woz wearing trousers......................again.

  4. At 01:50 AM on 25 Nov 2007, jonnie wrote:

    It's bloody freezing here! - Why didn't anyone tell me! So much for global warming :-(

  5. At 10:41 AM on 25 Nov 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Welcome back Jonnie and Simon!
    Jonnie, I did warn you - didn't you see my snowy photo?! It was on your own thread!
    Hope you had a great holiday ;o)

  6. At 09:46 PM on 25 Nov 2007, barrie singleton wrote:


    Blair is back to haunt us - the gall of the man knows no bounds. After what he and Hatchet Man Campbell did to the BBC, might we look forward to his utterances being mecilessly scrutinised by you? Take this blairingly obvious manoeuvre that he "did not mention religion because he would be thought a nutter"; when his fear was quite plainly of being tarred a hypocrite! Blair is the man who retained Campbell even though the latter said "we don't do god". Also, he dumped Sedgefield when they no longer served his purpose - very Christian.

  7. At 08:31 AM on 26 Nov 2007, Charlie wrote:


    If you're persuaded to be recruited by either MI5 or MI6 this week, you'll need a decent pseudonym. Not the type used in the PM Newsletter

    Why not a name like Kim Philby or Guy Burgess, Douglas Maclean or even Anthony Blunt..?

    They have, for some reason I can't explain, a certain "ring" about them

    Just think, you could become known as

    "Anthony B, the man who knows FA"

    No, no Eddie, "Fine Art" Oh, do get a grip...

  8. At 09:32 AM on 26 Nov 2007, UptheTrossachs wrote:

    Is it working again?
    Got a pointless letter from HMRC at the weekend apologising for the disk debacle and telling me not to panic. Presumably the same letter has gone to at lease 7.25 million households - how much did that cost?

  9. At 12:22 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Up the Trossachs (8) I haven't had a letter - do you think it might have got lost in the post?!

  10. At 12:35 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Rosemarie Derry wrote:

    Those missing discs......
    Does anyone know why the National Audit Office wanted them?
    What weere they going to audit if the bank details were not shown?

  11. At 12:43 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Martin (2), I thought HIGNFY was very entertaining. Cringeworthy, but entertaining. AW showed herself up, although was somewhat oblivious to the pasting she was being given. Jimmy Carr was surprisingly sexy. (Did I really just type that?)

  12. At 01:46 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I'm with Appy on HIGNFY. It was a good episode. I'm not so sure AW is as oblivious as she makes out, but then I sometimes suspect Jeremy Clarkson of being a closet Green, acting as agent provocateur.

    Namaste -ed

  13. At 02:10 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    I too enjoyed the HIGNFY with Ann Widdicombe.

    (Not been bothering to try much posting lately)

  14. At 02:24 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    At Piss Off Bush Summit.

    Iraq: Majority of Foreign Fighters From Libya, Saudi Arabia And United States.
    U.S. Reviewing Aid to Pakistan
    Musharraf may need additonal funds to suppress opponents of martial law.
    Bhutto Now Free to Move About the Cabin
    But advised to keep seat belt fastened.

    ALSO IN THE NEWS . . .

    Book: Former Press Secretary McClellan Admits He Lied for President
    White House disparages “absurd allegations of admitted liar.”

    Namaste -ed

  15. At 02:52 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Dr Hackenbush wrote:

    Dear Radio 4,

    If I were put on traal, might I end up in gel?!


  16. At 04:05 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    There's been better HIGNFY, but there's also been a lot worse (anyone remember the Currie and Hatton edition or the Piers Morgan edition?). I think it would be good to have a guest presenter per series, myself. Eddie could do it first, then Figlover, Sequin.....

  17. At 05:50 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Thanks to Hugh for his excellent report, as expected.

    Namaste -ed

    Men say of women what pleases them; women do with men what pleases them.
    -- DeSegur

  18. At 05:56 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Francis Hooper wrote:

    Re illegal donations:
    What Mr McShane and all these politicians do not seem to realise is that the public has absolutely no faith in them and the last thing we want to do is to subsidise them from our taxes. If they cannot attract enough donations that are not concealed from the voting public, perhaps they should consider changing their policies to get that support.

  19. At 05:58 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    WOT no new threads today? and no Glass Box? Has Eddie been blocked by the 502 monster?

  20. At 06:00 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Where was the nice lady to say "Mind the gap"? It was a big one tonight.

  21. At 09:06 PM on 26 Nov 2007, jonnie wrote:

    I missed PM but will listen again as the place is full of Panto luvey's as camstreams folk may have noted.

    I'm surprised Eddie has made no mention of this total lack of input on the newsletter?

    What the hell is happening!

  22. At 10:18 PM on 26 Nov 2007, mittfh wrote:

    As well as Eddie and Sequin, a few other people who'd make good presenters of HIGNFY (apologies if they've already done it):

    Jeremy Paxman - treat Paul and Ian like the contestants of his other quiz, and much hilarity should ensure.

    John Humphrys - it'll make a change from Mastermind, and given his frequent quips about the weather summary ("Organised rain?!") he has the necessary GSOH.

    Nick Owen - drag him down from The Mailbox, and watch his eyebrows...very expressive...

    And if you can get away with Boris and Anne, then how about:

    TB - the question is, would he get a word in edgeways between all the quips?

    And in a couple of years time:

    Dubbya - really annoy him by writing the autocue in REALLY LARGE monosyllabic words...

  23. At 11:04 PM on 26 Nov 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    I agree Anne Widicombe isn't quite as oblivious as she makes out, but think she isn't as on the ball as she thinks she is either.

    Mittfh (22), By 'TB' do you mean Tony Blair? Wouldn't that be fantastic? There's an episode I'd love to see. Most of all, though, Eddie. WHEN IS EDDIE GOING TO HOST HIGNFY??? (Sorry for shouting, but it just had to be done...)

  24. At 11:28 PM on 26 Nov 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Well I'm a little surprised that the blog has in no way remembered the fact that it has been exactly one year today (23rd November 2006) that Nick Clarke left us.

    Can we all - blog permitting - raise a glass on the NCMB to Nick - gone but not forgotten.

    It doesn't seem a year Nick.

  25. At 11:01 AM on 27 Nov 2007, silver-fox wrote:


  26. At 11:15 AM on 27 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    That Darned Dictator!!


    Duckies are fun!

  27. At 11:21 AM on 27 Nov 2007, UptheTrossachs wrote:

    502 @ 11:18

  28. At 12:51 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    No threads today
    the fun has gone away
    the blog is very sad
    and Eric's very bad........

  29. At 12:54 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Paul Gledhill wrote:

    Didn't there use to be a blog here?

  30. At 01:31 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Dr Hackenbush wrote:

    Is the dot-cod revolution over?

  31. At 01:38 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Mrs Barnfather. wrote:

    Eddie - come on it's working again. Come on!

  32. At 01:48 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Martin. wrote:

    To PM,

    As a Unionist who stubbornly refuses to refer to our constitutional Scottish Executive by its new and funky, but unconstitutional, name of 'The Scottish Government', the First Minister's behaviour since his victory in a botched election has been appalling.

    His claim that he and his clique are the only group with the right and title to call themselves the government of Scotland is a disgrace; little short of lese-majeste. His consistent interference in un-devolved areas such as defence reeks of the elitism, grandeeism and contempt for the rule of law for which the pre-Union Scottish Parliament was notorious, characterised by Erskine of Grange's comment in 1735 that prior to the Union, 'liberty was a stranger here'.

    Salmond's contempt for the law is so bald, so blatant that it is clear than an independent Scotland founded on the back of his 'Shortbread Revolution' ideology would soon fall back into its old, corrupt, lawless rut. His contempt finds allies in so-called 'Unionist' politicians too timid to call him out and cut him down to size. It's not as if the so-called 'Nationalists' have much imagination.

    We keep hearing about how much like Ireland and Estonia we'd be; what about aiming to be like Switzerland instead? Wha's like us?"

    Scotland, one of the very few nations whose people yearn for ‘freedom’ while they holiday in Dubai, has a habit of producing ‘pretenders’. James Stuart was known as ‘The Old Pretender’, his son Charles Edward as ‘The Young’.

    Salmond’s conduct since the botched Scottish Parliamentary elections of 3rd May 2007 has shown him worthy of the title ‘The Great Pretender’, for his behaviour has had as much in common with that usually expected from a constitutional government’s leader as a very average Elvis Presley impersonator has in common with Presley himself.

    Perhaps his mischief can be dismissed as the immaturity of an intellectually immature nationalist ideologue, aching to blast white noise into The Saxonist Entity’s lug and to outrage ‘Outraged of Tunbridge Wells’. If so, it casts a sad, and telling, insight into the nature of Salmond’s character.

    Few successful nations have had a pater patriae who behaves like a glue-buzzing, Burberry baseball-capped Buckfast-swiller spoiling for a fight with the cops in Coatbridge – yet in terms of the constitutional settlement that he must work within, that is precisely how the First Minister of Scotland behaves towards Her Majesty’s Government of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

    Perhaps he aspires to go down in history with Vaclav Havel, the scion of one of Prague’s wealthiest families whose ‘Velvet Revolution’ overturned Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. If so, then Salmond’s efforts since gaining office deserve to be labelled ‘The Shortbread Revolution’ – twee, sickly, instantly forgotten but undeniably Scottish in character.

    Yet if The Great Pretender and his Shortbread Revolutionaries are actually serious about making Scotland an independent state (the nature of Scottish nationhood being an entirely different can of neeps), then history does provide very clear markers for them on how to go about it.

    The question, however, is whether or not he really is willing to do it; whether he will be able to retain his fire for ‘freedom’ while in office, or whether it will mellow him into a comfortable rut of pay, perks, pensions and privilege; whether or not a lifetime’s habit of fixing all policy around the polestar of ‘independence’ has rotted his critical abilities; whether he possesses the courage of his convictions; whether he has the guts to make unpopular decisions.

    In order to achieve this goal, he would have to learn lessons from some pretty smart people – people who’ve actually done what he says he wants to do and built enduring, successful states from the ground up. Or he could follow what might seem like the easier path; in which case Scotland and all her people would be crippled for years.

    The Great Pretender’s posturing goes down well with his core vote, some of whom might think the expression ‘total strategy’ refers to a Dutch soccer system– but they need to learn that there’s a great deal more to building a state than just sticking one over on the English; and that if you start badly, then you’ll continue badly. We can only hope the nation wouldn’t end badly.

    European states stand or fall by how they deal with the epochal changes they must sometimes face; the establishment of a particular form of government (France), the consolidation of small states into one (Germany and Italy), the change from one form of government to another (Russia) and, in some cases, even independence (The Republic of Ireland). If they get it right, they can power ahead to stability and prosperity in remarkably short periods of time; if they get it wrong, then the problems can take decades, even centuries, to fix.

    The success or failure of each nation is, more often than not, entirely dependent on the vision of the people at the top at the time these changes are taking place. Though separated by time and distance, history’s most successful nation-builders have shared a number of the same economic beliefs, and broadly the same beliefs on the nature of the relationship of national culture to the nation-state; for them, love of home and homeland on their own was not enough.

    In this regard, history has been quite kind to the United Kingdom. Our last great seismic, nation-changing event was probably the Union of 1707; a gourmet banquet to which Scotland brought a meat pie and a can of Superlager. In many respects we are lucky to have largely trundled through history – since the Reformation, the British have never had a revolution that didn’t fix itself in the end; usually with a cup of tea, a Protestant monarch and the maintenance of the class system.

    Although the United Kingdom’s constituent parts have enthusiastically invaded each other from time to time that we have not suffered an invasion from overseas for a millennium has given our affairs a measure of stability that other states have sadly lacked.

    One inevitable consequence of the Union’s dissolution would be that an independent Scotland would require to bend its mind to the question of its own defence; and hoping than an invading army would be repelled by the massed ranks of Scotland’s parliamentarians standing on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle singing metric psalms and Doric folk songs may not be enough.

    It is to the experience of those states that have undergone changes as profound as those that The Shortbread Revolutionaries would inflict on Scotland that Scotland herself must turn to for guidance.

    The experiences of conquered nations, like Germany and Japan in 1945, are of no help to us. Their development since those dates has not been indigenous, but imposed by a conquering power’s vision. We have not been conquered - officially, anyway - so we must make our own way through the traps that history will lay at our feet.

    The seventeenth and nineteenth centuries each produced an outstanding nation-builder, in the persons of Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu and Otto von Bismarck. It is in the footsteps of these giants, The Really Smart Guys of History, that Salmond must walk if he would lead Scotland to ‘freedom’.

    The nineteenth and twentieth centuries provide excellent examples of nation-builders of the second rank, in the shape of the Conte di Cavour and Eamon de Valera. At this stage, it should be noted that, rather depressingly, the nature of the challenges an independent Scotland would face bear greater similarity to those faced by Italy and Ireland in their day than those faced by France and Germany. Unfortunately, as with Italy and Ireland, these challenges would be likely to be entirely of our own making.

    In Boris Yeltsin, a man who equated ‘change management’ with ‘bankruptcy’, the twentieth century provided the definitive example of what a potential nation-builder must not do, or be like. It is of some comfort that as a nation-builder, Salmond would not be as bad as Yeltsin – nobody else could ever be as bad. A second Yeltsin would be a statistical impossibility.

    What made Richelieu and Bismarck so smart? They did three things. Firstly, they pursued their countries’ interests with almost monomaniacal intensity. Richelieu, the author of devout Catholic literature who communicated regularly and said Mass whenever he was able, pursued alliances with Protestant monarchs in favour of Catholic monarchs because he believed it to be in France’s interests to do so, thus moulding the mindset within which France has conducted all its diplomacy down to the present day.

    Bismarck quite deliberately pursued a policy of imperialism, because, surrounded as Germany was by other imperial powers, he believed it to be in the best interests of Germany. It wasn’t very nice; it wasn’t very politically correct; but it was vital to the interests of the state. It is also highly doubtful that Bismarck would have approved of the later excesses of German imperialism, such as the massacre of the Hereros; there was little advantage for Germany in it.

    Secondly, recognising as they did that a wealthy nation is much more likely to survive than a poor one, they encouraged local industry by the use of the same blunt instrument – they imposed tariff barriers. They did not wallow in the shallow orthodoxies of so-called ‘free trade’ (pace Milton Friedman, if lunch can never be free then there is no way trade can ever be free either), nor did they listen to those whom we now call ‘economists’.

    It’s just as well they didn’t – because Boris Yeltsin did, and look where that got him. Mirabile dictu, and contrary to everything the high priests of the secular religion called ‘economics’ consider holy, the skies did not fall on their heads; in the case of France, they didn’t fall on the heads of Mazarin and Colbert, Richelieu’s successors, either.

    There’s a moral concerning the conduct of economic policy in there somewhere; don’t let economists anywhere near it. Thirdly, they were unashamed cultural nationalists. Richelieu’s baby, the Academie Francaise, lives to this day as the ultimate gatekeeper and guardian of French culture.

    Bismarck’s policy of ‘Germanification’, while less liberal than the cultural policies of Richelieu, was essential to the survival of his unified German state; if they were going to be Germans and not Prussians, they would need to think and act like Germans.

    The second rank equalled some of the achievements of the first, but not all.

    In some ways it’s unfair to include Cavour on this list, for he really cannot be faulted for dying a month after Italy was unified. He was primarily a Piedmontese nationalist, and Piedmont was to Cavour what Prussia was to Bismarck – the place of primary loyalty. So much for the toxic words Professor Niall Ferguson spat at his own homeland on 1st January 2006 that, “(Scotland’s) over. Over the way countries are sometimes just over. Over the way Prussia is over. Over the way Piedmont is over”.

    Professor Ferguson either doesn’t know or hasn’t grasped that Piedmont and Prussia are most certainly not over – we now call them Italy and Germany instead.

    Although Cavour dragged Piedmont into the nineteenth century through his massive expansion of its railways, it is doubtful whether wider Italian economic policy would have benefited from having his hand at the controls; he was a committed free-trader, and would have shrunk from the step most vital to ensuring the success of a new state – protecting and encouraging its industries.

    The real curse of Cavour, however, is one that would be visited on Scotland in short order. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry of Benedetto Cairoli, one of Cavour’s successors – “Cairoli was one of the most conspicuous representatives of that type of Italian public men who, having conspired and fought for a generation in the cause of national unity, were despite their valour little fitted for the responsible parliamentary and official positions they subsequently attained; and who by their ignorance of foreign affairs and of internal administration unwittingly impeded the political development of their country.”

    Yup, that’s the Scottish nationalists to a tee. One too many wee drams, one too many folk songs, and not enough time spent on learning how to build nations – a problem already encountered this century in Ireland, at the hands of Eamon de Valera.

    This may seem like a strange thing to say, but Dev was the nearest thing to John Knox that Ireland’s ever produced. Not in the religious sense, of course; but by so successfully battering their national cultures into the shape they wanted them to be, they were most certainly two of a kind. De Valera started governing an Anglo-centric country and stopped governing a foreign one. Precisely the same thing would happen to Scotland, under Alex Salmond.

    Dev, while no economist, gets a bad press for attempting to Smoot-Hawley Ireland from the effects of the Great Depression by the use of tariffs. If he had tariffed Ireland in 1922, the effects might not have been so severe as they ended up being after 1932 – the great lesson of that period being, of course, that the worst mistake to make when thinking of tariffs is to think of lowering them in the first place.

    And so to Yeltsin, Russia’s first post-Communist president.

    The greatest service that Boris Yeltsin performed for Russia during his presidency was the peaceful manner in which he laid his office down. Russia was on the slide from the day and hour he placed blind, unquestioning trust in the ‘shock treatment’ dogmas chanted by Yegor Gaidar.

    It went from being a country where people had money and there were no goods to buy with it to one where there were goods to buy but nobody had any money to buy them with. This was not a success for the free market.

    There are those who may say I’m being unfair to Scottish nationalists as a whole, and point to the vision for Scotland contained in Dennis Macleod’s and Mike Russell’s ‘Grasping the Thistle’.

    Credit must be given where it’s due. ‘Grasping the Thistle’, although not an official SNP document, is an undoubtedly sincere attempt to address the critical question of what an independent Scotland should do to maintain its independence.

    Its authors’ backgrounds are in mining and the arts, so it’s not surprising that the book’s strongest parts are its discussions of, ahem, minerals and the arts. Indeed, their praise of Charles Haughey’s patronage of the arts in Ireland makes him sound like a Medici prince; an unfortunate edification, for sure, for if ever there was an Irishman who thought he was a Medici prince, it was Charlie Haughey.

    However, while reading it I couldn’t help but think I was hearing calypso music in the background.

    Calypso music was famous for being both pleasing to the ear and without much challenging content. ‘Grasping the Thistle’ is two Scottish nationalists’ calypso to the so-called ‘business community’, ‘Tally Me Ma Haggis’ if you like, lilting that when Scotland’s independent it will still be a great place to do business. Although it’s liberally peppered with quotations from ‘The Wealth of Nations’, one wonders how long it’s been since its authors read anything that challenges their worldview; like Correlli Barnett’s assertion that Smith’s views on trade in food were blown out of the water by the advent of refrigeration, or John Kenneth Galbraith’s footnote that in using diamonds as an example of things that have value but no purpose, Smith failed to foresee the advent of industrial diamonds.

    And the book’s greatest flaw is its authors’ blind acceptance of the current global economic order. They have the same faith in ‘The Washington Consensus’ as Yeltsin had in Gaidar; yet with that same consensus possibly falling down on its backside, they might find the Wigtownshire Consensus rather less accepting of the order they so greatly admire.

    Salmond does not possess the vision of a Richelieu or Bismarck. He would immediately swap one Union for another. He would have us become a neo-liberal subsidy junkie like 1980's Ireland, instead of having the vision to turn us into the Switzerland of the North Atlantic. He falls at the very first hurdle - ensuring the nation is independent and can maintain its independence.

    Instead, the best we can hope for is for him to sort of turn out to be sort of another Cavour or De Valera, possibly to the poverty and certainly to the cultural backwardness of us all.

    Over the next few days, I will be posting what I think an independent Scotland would have to in order to survive. It will not make pleasant reading.

  33. At 02:15 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Annasee wrote:

    GM - hahaha. You're a poet & you don't know it.
    Lovely verse. Now format it into a hand-crafted greeting card, for your next project.

    No animals sick today then?

  34. At 02:31 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Martin (32) Please don't take this the wrong way, but I don't think this is the right forum for you to use. You obviously have very strong views about the Devolved powers in Scotland. That much is evident. However, I must say that after about 5 paragraphs I gave up reading your comment. On a blog/forum such as this, you will find that most people try to keep their comments short and to the point. I believe that 43 paragraphs with more promised may be enough to wind up the fellow posters, as well as clog up the servers at the Beeb that are sometimes known to get overloaded. May I suggest that you start your own blog? This will allow you to expand on your views as much as you like. You can also provide the link as the website box that appears just above the Comment box below, and point people to read your blog. That's all fine and dandy. The PM blog is here first and foremost to allow people to comment on the PM programme and it's contents. Yes, there are little oases like the Beach, and the Furrowed Brow, but the general blog entries like this are for commenting on the broadcast or a specific topic. In fact, this thread (the Glass Box) is made specifically for the purpose of letting comment on a specific broadcast programme. Please can we keep it like this?


  35. At 03:04 PM on 27 Nov 2007, jacques wrote:

    Martin (32)

    I only read down to the part where you use the word 'pretender' and skim read the rest I suppose that you are ignorant that this word is from the French 'prétendre', and means ' to claim'.
    i.e. they were (the rightful) claimants to the throne of the united kingdom.

    The rest of you blog was piffle !

  36. At 03:52 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Oh, I see Martin's essay has disappeared. It may well have been a good argument, it's just that over 40 paragraphs is too much to wade through as a comment on a blog.....

  37. At 04:01 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    Annasee - just about to take some tinselly stuff & hair bobbles out of a puppy's stomach! Well you did ask......!

  38. At 04:31 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Frances O wrote:

    jacques, I can't see Martin's post @ 32 or anywhere else. Has it been removed?

    Something about the Stuarts or Jacobitism?

  39. At 04:42 PM on 27 Nov 2007, mittfh wrote:

    Looks as though someone on the team has been reading this - Martin's post has evidently been pulled...


    Meanwhile, my head's spinning with two very fast renditions of carols I heard in "The Works" - "Silent Night" as a waltz (~180bpm) and
    "Angels From The Realms Of Glory" by a soprano in a hurry (~240bpm!)

    And I can't help wondering - did the author of Angels get the idea for the chorus (take one word, stretch it out over as many bars as you think the singer can stand) from the author of "Ding Dong Merrily On High", or vice versa?

  40. At 04:48 PM on 27 Nov 2007, SAM wrote:

    It was sad to hear Dennis Macshane's bad manners to you, and listeners,on yesterday's programme when you spoke to him about the latest "cash for whatever " potitical scandal.

    And he said he "very kindly " agreed to speak to you and was being " patronised ".

    Oh dear.

    Please don't bother us with him again, Eddie, but many congratulations to you on the continued intelligence and grace with which you conduct yourself nd represent the licence payers.

  41. At 04:50 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    mostly about grasping the thistle

  42. At 04:59 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    GM (36) Ewww! How did you get it out? (Or maybe I don't really want to know...)

  43. At 05:21 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Dave Westney wrote:

    After Gordon Brown's declaration that the donations will be handed back could PM invite their faithful toady Denis McShane to give another defence. Then we can compare it to the one he gave yesterday. Let's see if it's possible for him to make a statement without saying the word Tories!

  44. At 05:57 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Frances O wrote:

    Eric, when the frog is behaving, please do post some of the suggested union flags modified to include Wales.

  45. At 06:00 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Nigel N wrote:

    Why hand the donation back? Surely it would be better to either hand it to a charity, or have it confiscated by the state. Otherwise, if there was any sleeze involved, the donor would gain benefits for free.

  46. At 08:17 PM on 27 Nov 2007, sacrebleu wrote:

    Hi all,

    technical problems with the blog? (I've been away).

    How about this... I decide to steal £600,000 and then get caught - so I decide to give it back. Surely that's OK then - no police involvement?

  47. At 09:02 PM on 27 Nov 2007, S Brook wrote:

    Re: Greyhound Racing Industry

    When we first domesticated animals for use by humans, we took on a responsibility. We have an obligation to provide any animal who has been trained to work for us, with a decent retirement. I do not know what funding or support the greyhound industry gives to the organisations, charities and individuals who help to rehome retired or failed greyhound racers, but this cost should be considered an overhead of this extremely profitable sport.

  48. At 09:08 PM on 27 Nov 2007, mittfh wrote:

    I wonder if Labour are the only party to suffer from disguised donations, or if some supporters of the other parties are doing likewise...

  49. At 10:58 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Annasee wrote:

    GM - I hope you washed out the tinsel & bobbles so they could be reused. Terribly wasteful otherwise. And think of the loss to the owner, on top of the vet's fees!

    Btw did you see the first "Cranford" episode, where they tried to whiten the piece of lace that ended up in the cat's stomach? Maybe this puppy was watching & taking notes...

  50. At 11:09 PM on 27 Nov 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    David Abrahams asks why he's being treated like a criminal. I wonder if it's got anything to do with the fact that he's broken the law?


  51. At 01:03 AM on 28 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Indeed, Ben, indeed.


    Fairy Tale, n.:
    A horror story to prepare children for the newspapers.

  52. At 04:11 PM on 28 Nov 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    What does all this bloggage mean for the Advent Calendar?

  53. At 04:11 PM on 28 Nov 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    Appy - yes it was a bit Ewww!

    Annasee - yes I saw that - it was a bit of a rapid response to the remedy in my opinion! I think ni this particular instance the contents were beyond salvaging but I have removed 2 socks & a teddy bear recently which washed up quite well, I'm not sure what they did with them though.. ;-)

  54. At 05:42 PM on 28 Nov 2007, CJ McAuley wrote:

    Upon hearing the name of the friend of Bush, Tuttle, I had a flashback to the movie "Brazil" so unreal was his take in so many ways. When the Palestinians are divided between Fatah and Hamas, I cannot see how they can deliver anything. Olmert has even lower opinion ratings than does Bush. It would appear that a "drive for Israeli/Palestinian peace agreement" is now an official US presidential 7-year itch!

  55. At 05:52 PM on 28 Nov 2007, Jon Schurmann wrote:

    As much as I understand more money has to go into the rail service, how is it that for many years now they have had a more than inflation settlement and have more people travelling on the network bringing in even more money, that it would appear that we are still behind where we were say twenty years ago?

  56. At 05:59 PM on 28 Nov 2007, Jon Schurmann wrote:

    As much as I understand more money has to go into the rail service, how is it that for many years now they have had a more than inflation settlement and have more people travelling on the network bringing in even more money, and it would appear that we are still behind where we were say twenty years ago?
    Earlier today I heard someone on the radio saying (they had come down to London from Scotland or Leeds or somewhere) and it took nearly 2 hours longer than the same journey many years ago - even if it was on time!

  57. At 06:16 PM on 28 Nov 2007, Jon Schurmann wrote:

    As much as I understand more money has to go into the rail service, how is it that for many years now they have had a more than inflation settlement and have more people travelling on the network bringing in even more money, yet it would appear that we are still behind where we were say twenty years ago?
    Earlier today I heard someone on the radio saying they had come down to London (from Scotland or Leeds or somewhere) and it took nearly 2 hours longer than the same journey many years ago - even if it was on time!

  58. At 07:31 PM on 28 Nov 2007, jonnie wrote:

    GM -

    I think it's working aswell as it's ever done by the odd comment I've put through over the last few days - and iPM seems to be working - infact due to a suggestion from Peejay they have Richard Branson on!

    I think Eddie is just enjoying a little break away from the chore of posting pictures and the like?

    I trust normal service will be resumed very shortly and we can have some nice advent calendar pictures in time.

    Fingers crossed :-)

  59. At 07:54 PM on 28 Nov 2007, nikki noodle wrote:

    lets try this thread instead:

    (32) on the contrary Martin, please go on; I for one am looking forward to it. Please dont take Mr E Mair's article about "unqualified loons" in any way except rhetorical.

    Bah. Ironically, I expect this will go straight through now....

  60. At 12:43 AM on 29 Nov 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Oh Nikki - Martin appears and goes away on a daily basis.

    Now - If nothing happens here tomorow I and going to concentrate on relaunching some kind of sustaining service on the Froggers site.

    Still no comments from Eddie about what the heck is going on?

    We have all kept this bloody thing going - and enjoyed it's up's and downs for way over a year now. Even Marc has gone quiet - and he can log on and put us all in the picture even if Eddie has lost the will to blog??

    Fifi has done her upomost to keep 20 regular bloogers happy on Facebook, so come on Eric, Marc, or even the epitomy of every good career woman - Amanda! :-) very tongue in cheek of course.

    Between you and me - Rupert is having his wicked way and wants to promote iPM.

    Seriously - we 'DO' and would 'appreciate' a little word Eddie - and we know damn well you are reading this.

  61. At 10:09 AM on 29 Nov 2007, Gillian wrote:

    With reference to the item about reading - well, reading in school isn't fun any more - text is analysed, disected, scrutinised, deciphered, decoded, defined, interpreted.....the list goes on.... Children can't read purely for pleasure in schools - they have to record and report on what they have written, share the experience with others and have their responses criticised.
    If children spend most of their time in school under pressure to ''perform'' well in these reading tasks, little wonder that more of them are finding alternatives to reading in their free time. They need to give their brains a rest!

  62. At 10:14 AM on 29 Nov 2007, Charles Hatton wrote:

    Hello ... testing, testing ... 1 ... 2 ... 3 ...

    ... ... ... 2 ... ... ... ... 2 ... ... ... ... 2 ... .... ....

  63. At 10:15 AM on 29 Nov 2007, UptheTrossachs wrote:

    Will this get through??
    I've got a lovely set of drain rods if anyone thinks they'll help to shift the bloggage.
    Feels lonely up here today............

  64. At 12:10 PM on 29 Nov 2007, mittfh wrote:

    Is the blog working today?

    Evidently not - my last attempt 502'd after 4 minutes - I'll give this one two then cancel (just in case it gets through anyway!)

    OK, so looks as though it's off to Café 502 on the Facebeach...

    Attempt 2, SB64 (or 65 if attempt 1 survived its 502), timecheck: 11:54

  65. At 02:07 PM on 29 Nov 2007, The Intermittent Horse wrote:

    Eddie - Honestly, it is very kind of you, but there is no need to tailor the blog to my particular needs. I'm not sure that everyone else appreciates this Intermittent Blog.

  66. At 02:41 PM on 29 Nov 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    Well the *Glass Box for friday* will be relevant again by tomorrow!

    Seriously though, it is a bit disconcerting not having any threads at all nor any word of why. It feels as if we're being punished for the blog nor working!!!!

  67. At 02:43 PM on 29 Nov 2007, jonnie wrote:

    At 12:29 PM on 17 Aug 2006, Eddie Mair wrote:
    This is wonderful. Thank you.

    Complain about this comment

  68. At 03:47 PM on 29 Nov 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Whassis? Posts getting through to the Frog?

    (sb 67)

    Just in time for a St. Andrews Day celebration tomorrow!

    Tatties & neeps all round!

  69. At 04:36 PM on 29 Nov 2007, Christopher of Shropshire wrote:

    Wasn't that spat between Harriet and Teresa wonderful this morning. Given the clarity of our Harriet's replies we are witnessing the launch of a new sport - Parliamentary Mud wrestling.

    It should instantly be recognised as an Olympic sport since, as was the case of the Oracles, their interpretation relies on the sooth sayers.

    Nomination please for the England Team Manager. How would we pick the team? Celebrity Parliamentary Mud Wrestling? I'm a Politician get me out of here?

    Eddie - surely you have some ideas.

    See you on the ice

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