Saturday 27 June 2009

Brucie's Bubbles

I am sure Bruce Forsyth can afford to buy posh champagne. I am also sure he got given plenty of nice pressies for his 80th birthday. I am not sure therefore that Jana Bennett's gift meant much in material terms but it was a nice thought which after all is what presents are about...or was it? That nice thought goes rather sour when you find out she claimed the money back from the licence payer. Surely a whip-round among BBC executives could have come-up with both a present and a real spirit of giving -- instead of just taking.

Friday 26 June 2009

BBC Bonuses

I can exclusively reveal that I was once paid a performance related bonus by the BBC. It was a little while ago.

About ten years back I spent 6 weeks in the bush in Africa searching out great white elephant hunters. It was hard, uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous work. Most of the hunters quite categoricaly didn't want to be filmed. We zig-zagged from Zimbabwe, to South Africa and ended up by the Namibia-Angola border. Finally we filmed the kill, by an American big game hunter, of a large rogue bull elephant at very close quarters. I came straight back and worked more days and nights to get a programme ready for broadcast. In the end with planning, the trip to Africa and post-production I worked two and a half months straight, 7 days a week and with a few all nighters. No problem. It was tough and I was very tired but a great experience. The finished programme was good and well received by the critics. It was broadcast all over the world. The BBC was able to show its audience something most had assumed had died out a couple of generations ago. The footage of the elephant hunt is still unique a decade later and I often get calls from producers asking to use it. If the BBC has any commercial sense it should have made some money from this exclusive footage.

After BBC executives -- including Mark Thompson -- had sat around a while waiting to see what everyone else thought (which is what they do) they declared the film a success and awarded me a performance related bonus of £250. After tax and NI I got £125 in my next paycheque. I can't remember what I spent it on. It wouldn't have gone far towards replacing Jana Bennett's handbag.

Thursday 25 June 2009

White Supremacists

I have had the odd insulting comment on this blog from self styled white supremacists. I find these people very peculiar. Is skin colour (which is after all one thing none of us has any control over) the only aspect of their being that they are proud of...? Do they have no achievements of their own, no strength of character, no admirable traits? The answer is invariably no. They have very little if anything to feel supreme about, they are sad, ugly, self-loathing bedwetter types. All they manage to do is to direct their inadequacies into the hatred of others.

A typical white supremacist

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Iran and USA

Events in Iran are worrying. Thank God the US is being led by someone with a brain who knows how to handle a crisis. Imagine the previous incumbent and his sinister backroom ideologues...actually I would rather not. As I write the Iranian regime is busy attacking the UK, it seems "Little Satan" is the only target they can have a pop at. I hand over to America's 44th President, wise words :

"The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings, and imprisonments of the last few days. I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost. I have made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and is not at all interfering in Iran’s affairs. But we must also bear witness to the courage and dignity of the Iranian people, and to a remarkable opening within Iranian society. And we deplore violence against innocent civilians anywhere that it takes place...This is not about the United States and the West; this is about the people of Iran, and the future that they – and only they – will choose."

Saturday 20 June 2009

Losing our Marbles

Reading Mary Beard's expert description of the new Acropolis Museum I am almost tempted to get on a plane to Athens. My past experiences of this city in intense August heat with very little money have not been great. Worse still the collosal disconnect between old and new. I had an imagined (no doubt falsely imagined) ancient paradise of democracy, philospophy, poetry discussed amid pristine architecture. I could not reconicle it with the dirty undignified city creaking its way through the late twentieth century that I saw. I went elsewhere in search of my classical dream.

I did however vow to return when the Elgin -- or as I should say the Parthenon -- Marbles had made their way back to their real home. Now at least people are talking about it again. I don't understand the reticence on the part of the British. Why don't we make a big event out of the return. Let's have a party, a festival of classical culture and most important of all why not a big competition for the world's best artists to reinterpret the Marbles. Imagine the stimuli in the Marbles' stories and themes or in our debts to classical Greece? Give them back with bang. It would be a soft power coup for Britan on the world stage. With the new art and good copies of the originals we would have a fabulous, and this time well-deserved, legacy not to mention tourist magnet. Come to think of it why not do it as part of the 2012 Olympic fesitivities?

Thursday 18 June 2009


Nick Griffin

Baboon's Arse

First Fly Swatter

My God is there anything this man can't do...?

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Waterloo Sunsets

I spent two very enjoyable evenings out in London last week. Because of the tube strike I walked everywhere. It was hardly a hardship as the weather was superb. I had forgotten just how beautiful a summer's evening in the city can be. Watching everyone out -- playing, relaxing, socialising or just ambling home -- shows the human scale of a city, which is after all just a big village.

On Wednesday I was out with my friend Steve celebrating the fact that his book is officially a "worldwide bestseller" having shifted 250,000 copies. On Thursday I was saying goodbye to Carlton who is leaving beautiful London for Sheffield. Having said that when I was in Sheffield in the summer last year it was also very fine.

Night Jack

I have written to the editor of the Times - my goodness doesn't that sound important !! However it was for a serious reason. I wanted to know what the public interest was in unmasking Night Jack, the previously anonymous policeman blogger. I have yet to receive a reply.

I really enjoyed and valued Night Jack's blog and completely understood how he needed to protect his identity. Any large organisation these days, public or private, is paranoid about free comment. Only the thought police corrected banalities of corporate PR are permitted. That is a tragedy. It is only by real and uncensored first-hand testimony can we hope to find out what's going on in our country. The Times and Mr Justice Eady have dealt a severe blow to primary sources like Night Jack. Many now will not risk telling the truth for fear of recrimination from their employers or others with an interest in stifling it. It's a step backwards after some real progress granted by new media pluralism. It is grimly fitting that the decison to undermine free reportage in the UK came on a day when the world is learning about the Iranian fight for freedom from bloggers and twitters.

I would have hoped Times journalists understood that Night Jack was a source who deserved protection. When I worked in investigative journalism this was a tenet of faith. I once faced a judge in the Old Bailey who wanted to send me to prison over Christmas for refusing to divulge a source. Instead the Wapping boys and girls went for a cheap story that will last a day or two. What a price?

Ironically Night Jack won this year's Orwell Prize for blogging (the first one ever awarded). It seems the Ministry of Truth had the last laugh.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Leadership II

David Milliband on the Today programme just now... demonstrated in the most eloquent and persuasive way why he should be leader...except that he was professing loyalty to Gordon...or was he?

Monday 8 June 2009

Very Funny Video

That secret camera in the Downing Street bunker has been in action again. Here is the latest recording. The Supreme Leader is receiving a briefing on the European Election results.

Jackboots to Strasbourg

Well it's nice to discover that the lesser known of the two newly elected BNP members, Andrew Brons, not only fits but exceeds the stereotype of the loony far right.

As with most BNP leaders his motivation stems from a mixture of childish infatuation with Hitler and an equally one-dimensional hatred of black or jewish or moslem or gay people (in fact anyone who is not in the ubermensch category like his good self). Brons was previously an enthusiastic member of the National Socialist movement here in the UK; a virulent anti-semite; and purchaser of swastikas and other Nazi memorabilia. Lederhosen all the way to Strasbourg. In his formative years Brons worshipped at the feet of Britain's post-war National Socialist Fuhrer, the peculiar Colin Jordan.

Jordan -- who sadly went off to Nazi heaven or hell in April this year -- was one of the old boys of my college in Cambridge. He didn't get mentioned very often. In a thoroughly disreputable political career Jordan founded any number of batty fascist parties. He loved prancing round in jackboots and in 1975 he was convicted of stealing women's underwear from a branch of Tesco. In later life Jordan declared that Jesus Christ had been an imposter and the real messiah was Adolf Hitler. It's nice to know that our newly elected MEP has such an illustrious mentor.
Loony Nazi Colin Jordan, posing in a rather fetching brown shirt.


We were told Brown would have to go if Labour polled below UKIP. Now they are saying he can hang on...wounded...direction-less... but with the spurious justification of a jerrymandered "new" cabinet. Is that legitimacy or a desperate tactical shunt?

Surely those in the engine room of the Labour machine must realise they are only prolonging the agony.

Fishy Business

I realise I just posted a picture of Omari with some sort tuna fish. I really hope it's not a blue fin. I am very sorry if it is. I don't want to become this week's chief villain given that I don't even like most fish. Unfortunately marine conservation doesn't rank very highly on a Zanzibari's list of priorities. When I was given a swahili language marine guidebook recently all the locals loved it -- they would spend hours discussing which species of turtle tasted best or exchange recipes for exquisite coloured reef fishes. The fish market in town resembles the contents of an oceanarium -- with its hammerheads, manta rays, marlin and barracuda. It's exciting and probably sustainable if left on the micro level practised by the islanders. The problem with tuna is serious and comes from outside. Japanese and other Asian boats seem to pluck them, and much more beyond, out of the Indian Ocean quite unchallenged. Goodness knows where they end up but I am sure our insatiable appetite for sushi and tuna-sweetcorn sarnies has something to do with it. I have never really understood why fish has this "holier than meat" eco-image. It seems to me that raping the oceans is just as bad as anything we get up to on land.

Friday 5 June 2009

Obama and me

We can be very snooty about text messages as a form of communication but sometimes that concision is quite moving. I got a text this morning from Omari, my housekeeper in Zanzibar. I had sent him a present and he was thanking me. He said "Everyone loves you Mr Adam because you are so kind. We all love you like we love Obama." That has made my day.

Omari with local produce

Thursday 4 June 2009


I just looked at Omar Little t-shirts online. I haven't bought one ... yet...only because I couldn't decide which one. Oh dear.

Tuesday 2 June 2009

European Elections

The Maasai are very clear that we should be voting Plaid on Thursday...

Making Hay

Well my Saturday, my week and my Hay were made by the Alan Bennett and David Simon sessions. Alan Bennett was comforting, funny and rather like a warm bath. Simon a sharp wake-up call for those who value journalism and well founded serious fiction. He was more of an ice-cold shower.

Sitting in the Barclays Wealth Pavillion seemed a little incongruous -- listening to stories from the back streets of Leeds and the mean streets of West Baltimore -- but then again tickets for the National Treasure were £25 so perhaps not. I felt the youngest audience member for AB but rather the oldest for DS. The first group was full of chubby literary ladies falling in love with a gay man considerably older than themselves. The second more like Soho with sunburn.

David Simon was inspirational -- not because of genius but actually because his writing is grounded in decades of experience and acres of painstaking hard work. He lived those streets, he knew the people and the city so what he wrote was real. I do wonder if that could happen in TV here. I suspect he would have been be too old, too serious and be wearing the wrong kind of suit to have been listened to in the executive suites at Television Centre.

Rather than regurgiatate what he said I will let his talk inform -- as a primary source -- my further ramblings on The Wire. But there has been a health warning. Simon remarked -- amid the Omar Little T-shirts -- that we might be getting into the field of "get-a-life-ism". He may well be right.

The day itself could not have been more perfect for late May, particularly the drive home with intense blue light in the sky till after 11 pm, badgers and foxes in the headlights and owls flying off inot the hills beyond.