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The Glass Box for Thursday

Sequin | 16:53 UK time, Thursday, 1 November 2007

So what did you think?


  1. At 05:06 PM on 01 Nov 2007, R. Whiting wrote:

    Re: Met. Police Trial
    This is more surreal than Alice in Wonderland.
    A man is killed in error so the trial is under the Health & Safety Act !!
    The Met. is guilty and fined 175,000 pounds.
    Who pays the fine? The ratepayers of London.
    Who gets the money?
    We, the taxpayers.
    Who pays the costs?
    The ratepayers of London.
    Who receives the costs? Lawyers?
    Help !!

  2. At 05:19 PM on 01 Nov 2007, David wrote:

    If Trevor Philips wants concrete examples. I can give him some.

  3. At 05:26 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Not sure about Modbury being the first to ban plastic bags. I know they've been doing it for some time in Hebden Bridge.

  4. At 05:36 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Jonathan wrote:

    Not being facetious, but Carolyn Quinn must be one of the few people at the BBC who can pronounce Jean Charles *DE* Menezes properly.

  5. At 05:40 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    David (2) why not show us concrete examples? As Trevor Phillips noted, so far all the bluster in newspaper colmns (usually commentary pieces, rather than factual reports t should be noted) come down to peoples perceptions and chinese whispers, rather than actual factual situations. If you hav evidence, then please share it. Please note I said evidence, not generalisations like "Look at xxxx town, where you just know it happens". The setting up of the EHRC independent enquiry should be welcomed by all as a chance to settle the facts.

  6. At 05:43 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Tim wrote:

    RE: No more plastic bags.

    Can someone please educate the 'green' people on facts and alternatives to plastic bags - I thought PM would have an impartial view.

    It would help if people read this very useful and informative document:


    It's about time facts were used to make educated decisions on the hugely important job of reducing our carbon footprint.

    Just to end on an interesting FACT:
    A Toyota Prius consumes more energy in its complete lifecycle than a range rover.

  7. At 07:00 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Sue Green wrote:

    For goodness sake, where is Eddie Mair?

  8. At 07:13 PM on 01 Nov 2007, jacques wrote:

    Can Tim (5) please give a reference (or references) to support his 'FACT' (The capital letters are his!).

    Can he also check his site reference. I cannot obtain the document.

  9. At 07:23 PM on 01 Nov 2007, eeore wrote:

    I found it interesting that Trevor Philips refered to white families in regard ot the issue of immigrants and housing.

    I seem to recall research that showed that it was not a race a issue and areas in which non-whites were prevelant they had exactly the same complaints about their children being deprived of housing.

    One suspects the report has already been written and the outcome decided.

  10. At 07:27 PM on 01 Nov 2007, jacques wrote:

    Re Sue Green (7) concerning the where-abouts of E Mair.

    I do not know, for he did not have the courtesy of informing any of us. I am quite happy with Carolyne in the chair as she is one of the few people at the BBC who pronounce President Sarkozy’s name correctly.
    [See also Jonathan (4)]

  11. At 07:43 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    jacques: Tim's reference is an advertising brochure for British Polythene Industries plc. I'm guessing his other FACT is probably about as unbiased.


  12. At 07:51 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Charlie wrote:

    Jonathan @ 4, Jacques @ 9

    Just remember, I taught Sequin EVERYTHING she knows...

  13. At 08:15 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    I just wish the Powers That Be would make up their minds about whether to make plastic bags biodegradable or recyclable. I've been recycling plastic bags for decades, and these days some of the ones I put into the container for recycling turn into shards of plastic in my hands when I come to take them out again.

    Perhaps someone might suggest they have which they are written on them? Then I'd know which ones to throw away.

    And perhaps someone might ask his or her mother how we managed before anyone had plastic bags. It must have been possible, before they existed, to do without them -- and plastic bags to line dustbins, too.

  14. At 08:24 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    Jacques (8),

    I downloaded the link successfully. But it is an industry document, so not exactly neutral itself.

    Tim (5), even before I saw this document, I was going to point out that plastic bags have some very convenient properties; for example, they don't loose strength when wet (unlike paper bags); they are waterproof; they can be sealed in various ways, to preserve the contents/prevent contents escaping; lightweight compared to alternatives, so less fuel used to transport....

    I purchased some composting product that came in a paper bag, boasting of it's greenness. Very wonderful when the mice ate the corner, and all said contents poured out. But I also note that clothing moth (well, the maggots) now eats through some plastic bags as well.

    Having said that, plastic bags are overused/abused, and certainly are not recycled to anything like the amount they could. The problem is really people - they don't reuse/recycle, they either throw away or simply dump.

    As for the biodegradable ones, they are made from plant material, ie a crop. Since we're also planning to use plants for fuel (biodiesel etc), where will we grow our food?

    So a small village can manage without "plastic" bags, but note that a lot of them turned to the biodegradeable versions. What's left of industry would find it very much harder.

  15. At 09:10 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Annasee wrote:

    Sue Green (7) - Eddie who?

  16. At 09:47 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Val P wrote:

    Chris Fish - when I were a lad, me mam had a shopping bag because she shopped every day and only bought what she needed (and could afford). As to disposal, I seem to remember that we burned a lot of stuff on the open coal fire. Hmmm, sorry about the ozone layer.

  17. At 10:08 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    Val P (16)

    The ozone layer was not at such risk from your fire, as opposed to the aerosol sprays (underarm....) due to their propellant.

    Who is Eddie Mair?

  18. At 10:24 PM on 01 Nov 2007, Neil Read wrote:

    I am fed up with the predictable way Carolyn Quinn pursued the typical BBC (British Blame Culture) attitude on tonight’s programme, when covering the Jean Charles de Menezes story. All the BBC news journalists ever seem to be interested in is finding someone to blame and/or humiliate! As a national broadcaster, the BBC should be above such tabloid journalism. Radio 4 listeners expect, and should receive, more than the never-ending rush to award blame and extract humiliation, which merely serves to make the interviewer look smug and superior! The main thrust of tonight’s interviews seemed to be to extract expressions of blame and guilt, when it should have been to try to understand why the mistake was made. This is cheap, not informative journalism!

  19. At 01:08 AM on 02 Nov 2007, jonnie wrote:

    re: Neil (18)

    I'm surprised at your point and would like you to quantify that statement?

    Were you getting confused by the view of David Davis?

    Or maybe Rory McClean?

    The whole piece asked the correct questions! (in my opinion)

    I can't spot any place where Carolyn or the PM Editor's questioning or view should be questioned?

    Please give us more feedback so we can comment.

  20. At 01:19 AM on 02 Nov 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re: Sue green (7)

    get a life!

    If you have a proper comment to make - then make it!

    Do not invade our glassbox with meaningless comments.

    If you 'do' need an answer .. then he will probably be back on Monday.

    I dare say you will then post some meaningless comment asking where Carolyn is?

    In future - to keep all of us happy - and to have meaningful chat - tell us what's the problem with Carolyn? - then at least she can apply lipstick and shave her head and morphe herself into Eddie!

    Until then you are 'NOT' welcome on the Glassbox!

  21. At 01:31 AM on 02 Nov 2007, jonnie wrote:

    re: Eddie and Carolyn. -


    Forget any mention of Lipstick.

  22. At 08:45 AM on 02 Nov 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Neil (18), I'm afraid I have to say that I disagree with you completely. The "incident" in question has grave consequences for the population if lessons are not learnt. Hence it is important that the failures of systems and (yes) personnel training must be looked into. J C de Menezes was a man who did nothing out of the ordinary that day. He left for work, wearing a denim jacket (not a thick coat as was originally implied in reports). He got on a bus to the tube station. When he got there, he found that the tube station was closed, so he got back on the bus to go to the next one. He phoned a friend to say he'd be late, as well as sending some texts. He then calmy went into Stockwell station, using as Oyster card to go through the barrier (not leaping over the barrier as was said originally). Then down to the platform, and onto the tube, where he sat down. Now I have done similar actions many times in the past. It is scary to think that these actions that millions of people do every day in London could be considered suspicious. It's beyond reason to me that they were enough to condemn a young man to a violent death at the hands of police officers. For the BBC to report on the latest court procedings is not only right, it is *essential* in showing that the society we live in is capable of learning from tragic errors.

  23. At 10:27 AM on 02 Nov 2007, Susan Orty-Boyden wrote:

    I think dear Eddie is stuck in a lift somewhere, probably between the fourth and sixth floor in that big building the BBC is selling.

  24. At 10:43 AM on 02 Nov 2007, Carolyn Quinn wrote:

    Hello Neil ,

    While I can understand why you make your point, the reason we pursued the issue of responsibility was because most of our interviewees had that as the main question they wanted to raise. I hope you felt that other elements of the story were covered for example with the background package by Rory Maclean.

    And hello Jonnie....how did you know that I swear by a dash of lipstick before I go on air to give me that little extra "boost". Do you know something I don't about Ed's makeup kit?!

  25. At 11:09 AM on 02 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Bad night Jonnie? (20)


  26. At 11:51 AM on 02 Nov 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    I carry a nylon shopping bag in my handbag. It was given to me about 35 years ago, folds to almost nothing, and is still going strong. I wash it occasionally. I also have various other cloth bags, but will admit to accepting the occasional plastic one to take to the allotment to bring back the veg in and to line the kitchen bin.

    Val has a good point about the quantities in which we do our shopping now. All the same if plastic bags all disappeared tomorrow we'd have no trouble finding something to put the shopping in.

    Oh, and food refuse was wrapped in newspaper in the days when most people had a daily paper delivered. But mostly food got eaten. Peelings went on the compost heap, and still do.

    I get some very funny looks from the checkout staff when I decline to have the already packaged fish double wrapped in even more plastic!

  27. At 12:03 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Chris (13),

    As to how our mothers did without plastic bags,

    Small country, few people -
    Hundreds of devices,
    But none are used.

    People ponder on death
    And don't travel far.
    They have carriages and boats,
    But no one goes on board;
    Weapons and armor,
    But no one brandishes them.
    They use knotted cords for counting.

    Sweet their food,
    Beautiful their clothes,
    Peaceful their homes,
    Delightful their customs.

    Neighboring countries are so close
    You can hear their chickens and dogs.
    But people grow old and die
    Without needing to come and go.
    Lao Tzu ~450 BCE
    [translated by Stan Lombardo and Stephen Addiss]

    Yet TAO alone gets things done.


    Cynic, n.:
    A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.
    -- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

  28. At 02:20 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Neil wrote:

    Re. Fearless Fred (22)

    I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said! Of course it’s essential that the BBC should probe and examine why this tragic event happened. On the contrary, I’m arguing that more emphasis should be put on these very issues, but less journalistic energy should be expended on the attempt to apportion blame at all costs – which all too often (I suspect) is designed create a fresh headline and perpetuate the story. It’s the relentless and predictable efforts to win a scalp that I object to, when this avenue is, in this instance anyway in my opinion, not adding any value to our understanding of the event. Such a journalistic approach results in the Resignation issue becoming the story, submerging the far more important issue of helping us all learn from tragic errors in order to stop such a tragedy happening again.

  29. At 02:53 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Eloise Twisk (Edited Thurs PM) wrote:

    My comments are probably too late, I fear the caravan has moved onto Fri's programme already but anyway...

    Fearless Fred I know exactly what you mean about the resignation issue eclipsing everything else. I hope we didn't make it too much about 'heads rolling' but also looked at the wider cause of the shooting, the context of events on that day etc. It was striking when Ian Blair said outside the court that the judge concluded that no individual was to blame, and that's just how it is sometimes (or words to that effect) -- it's just a very hard thing for people to accept, when we do expect the 'buck' to stop somewhere, and like to see people at the top taking responsibility for things that go wrong in their organisations.

    Anyway Eddie's back on Monday -- it's been lovely with Carolyn but at least we can get back on the chocolate... Eloise

  30. At 03:08 PM on 02 Nov 2007, neil wrote:

    Re: Jonnie (19)
    I have listened again to the programme, which I believe presented an excellent summary and analysis of this tragic story. I thought Rory McClean’s report in particular was very informative and enlightening. I got grumpy towards the end, during the interview with Jenny Jones. The whole thrust of the questioning appeared to be to try to get her to call for the Commissioner’s resignation. She made it quite clear at the outset that in her opinion the Commissioner should not resign, and yet Caroline Quinn appeared not ignore this reply and continued with 7 further questions almost all of which relentlessly pushed at the same closed door. (I thought Jenny Jones made some very interesting points, none of which were probed). It is this kind of journalistic tactic, where the aim seems to be to generate a fresh headline rather than examine the issues, which I consider is not worthy of the BBC, and should be left to the tabloids!

  31. At 03:42 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Neil wrote:

    Re. Carolyn Quinn (24)

    Hi Caroline. Goodness, wasn’t I in a grumpy mood! Please accept that my comments were not aimed at you personally, e.g. “smug and superior”, but at BBC journalism in general.

    I must challenge your assertion that you pursued so hard the issue of the Resignation question because that was “the main question your interviewees wanted to raise”. I suggest that under such circumstances it is your job as journalists (and editors) not to give undue prominence to such views, but to pursue your own line of enquiry in order to ensure a balanced report results. Statements such as “many people, such as the Conservatives and Liberals, are calling for resignation” are entirely predictable – that’s politics! Of course you should report these views, but it appeared to me that in your interview with Jenny James your prime objective was to obtain from her a call for resignation, (which would provide you a fresh headline for which the PM programme could take credit)! Whilst this is to be expected in tabloid papers, I suggest that the BBC should rise above such tactics.

    As I have said elsewhere on this blog, I thought the rest of the report presented an excellent summary and analysis of this tragic story, especially the background package by Rory Maclean, for which I was grateful.

  32. At 03:43 PM on 02 Nov 2007, pete wrote:

    What is 'The Glass Box'? I'm new to all this, er, blogging, I think it's called. Oh, and where do I stick the stamp?

  33. At 04:13 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Neil (28); Point taken. I'll have to listen again to see if I agree with you (I was in the car when listening last night, so my mind wasn't 100% concentrating on the radio), but I'm heartened to see we can have a civilised discussion :) Sometimes I find that challenging some people's views on blogs can lead to frightful "flame wars" which does no-one any good. Usually this blog avoids such thinghs, but it has occured in the past. Welcome to a place of reasoned debate, it's nice to meet you :)

    pete (32) I suggest you start by going to the link on the right hand side near the top of this page called F.A.Q. You can find it in the section called Categories. This link will answer a few questions about what the Glass Box is, as well as the Furrowed Brow, and The Beach. Welcome to the blog

  34. At 04:22 PM on 02 Nov 2007, neil wrote:

    Re. Eloise Twisk (29)

    Yes, I agree we do “like to see people at the top taking responsibility for things that go wrong in their organisations”. However, surely that should not automatically and exclusively equate to resignation! In this instance, I suggest that by staying in post and working hard to ensure that such a tragic event does not happen again, Sir Ian Blair would indeed be taking responsibility – but in a constructive, not destructive and wasteful way!

  35. At 04:32 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    "Sir Ian Blair would indeed be taking responsibility –

    Seems more like denying responsibility and holding on to power to me.

    The whole business is absurd, as will no doubt be pointed out in comedy/satire programmes.

    Public Pays Public's Fines, Lawyers Rejoice!

    It was'nae me, Gov! It wuz the system, and I'm only the Boss!


    One day the King decided that he would force all his subjects to tell the truth. A gallows was erected in front of the city gates.

    A herald announced, "Whoever would enter the city must first answer the truth to a question
    which will be put to him." Nasrudin was first in line. The captain of the guard asked him, "Where are you going? Tell the truth -- the alternative is death by hanging."
    "I am going," said Nasrudin, "to be hanged on that gallows."
    "I don't believe you."
    "Very well, if I have told a lie, then hang me!"
    "But that would make it the truth!"
    "Exactly," said Nasrudin, "your truth."

  36. At 06:59 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    jonnie @ 20, hang on, telling Sue Green @7 when he will be back isn't answering the question, which was, 'where is Eddie Mair?'

    Actually, I'd quite like to know too. That and when he puts up the snapshots of where he has been, is the blog going to fall into Hole 502 again?

    Anne P, I seem to have accumulated about ten shopping bags of the fold-up-and-take-with-you type, of various sizes, so I guess that on any trip involving more than two bagsful of shopping (one for each hand) I'd have the carrier bags in a trailer or car, and the bags might as well be cloth or canvas as plastic. Take them with me is the answer, then.

    As for all that packaging, has anyone else had the amusement of giving it all to the manager of the supermarket, summoned by the check-out lady when one did the unwrapping at the till? They really don't know what to do with it. (Well, the local one says 'oh *Chris*' in tones of deep reproach, but the ones who don't know me get *flustered*.) When did four apples start to come wrapped in plastic and in a four-apple expanded polywossit tray? Any ideas what one might use those for?

  37. At 09:08 PM on 02 Nov 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    Since I've taken up using the reusable strong supermarket bags, I've suddenly found myself short of bags to line the waste-bin. (Since I need some container to house my rubbish, and one supermarket bag a week was enough, until local (p/barking) council refused to collect anything other than a large black bag); approx four week's waste chez DT.

    But I know what others mean about excess packing. I'm annoyed by seeing a single fruit in a paper and plastic packing, on the ground that it's "ripe". Bananas are also ripe, but don't get that packing; they are loose, but you are expected to put into a plastic bag.

    I spent 15 minutes "grape-pressing" ie. tramping on plastic chips today to reduce the volume, not for the first time. Grrrr./....

    Jonnie (20),

    I too wondered whether you had a bad night re your answer to Ms Green. It did seem somewhat over the top.

  38. At 12:54 AM on 03 Nov 2007, jonnie wrote:

    Re; Neil.

    Point taken about Carolyn moving on with other questions.

    Thank you for coming back by the way.

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