Christmas Letter 2013

Hi there folks,

It’s once again the season of Christmas, a yearly custom of merriment and gift-giving whose true meaning is, as we all know, the birth of Santa. As is now tradition, whether some of you like it or not, I am sat here writing my annual Christmas letter (in lieu of sending Christmas cards because I feel I can waste far more of your time this way) on the train home. It’s not, like. Moving, but I am ON it.

Now those of you who’ve read one of these before know the drill, to those of you who are new I say…You’ll catch on quick. Those of you who make your own tradition of summarily ignoring this correspondence can return to your miserly ways and less amusing pastimes and continue being miserable sods. See, I can call them that, because they’re not actually reading this.

Because they suck.

But you, dear reader, you do not suck. You are someone who does the opposite of suck. Not, you understand ‘blow’, for that would be just as bad. Let’s go with ‘kick ass’ if for no other reason than the fact I have already typed that.

After last year, a corker [not really sure why I’m using that expression, having never knowingly done so before in my life] by any measure I expected the general theme of this year’s letter to be that of disappointment brought on by 2013 being rather akin to the band that had to go on second – after The Beatles.

Instead, as it happens, 2013 was a pretty damn good year. It was punctuated by incredible highlights for our entire country (My Graduation) and for me personally (Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, which also won me the first sporting bet I ever placed!).

Of course there were dark times too, such as Sebastian Vettel turning Formula 1 into a form of torture specifically designed to affect people who like something called ‘drama and excitement’ in sports – AKA, every sports fan in history.

Except baseball fans. Who apparently enjoy mind-numbing tedium. A trait they share with cricket fans, coincidentally.

Meanwhile, closer to home, I left mine to take up employment in London for Britain’s premier pay-TV provider, Sky (™, Believe in Better®), which has been a delight. Even if I still remain relatively dazzled by how big London is.

I mean, it’s really big. You may think it’s a long walk down the road to the chemist, but that’s peanuts to London. Listen…

Oh, I’m sorry, I appear to be plagiarising a beloved work of comedy science fiction. That…Does tend to happen some times with me. I blame the parents. Mainly because it’s my dad’s copy of the aforementioned beloved work of comedy science fiction I read.

At this point, those of you who are new to these letters have likely begun to cry out in despair that this is all a colossal waste of time. A glorious, preposterous, unjustifiable intrusion on your otherwise perfectly adequate free time.

To which I say….

I can’t actually HEAR you, you know. It’s just a letter I’m writing on the train (which, incidentally, is now moving and has been for at least six minutes – yes, it takes longer than five minutes to write this. I take real care with my trivial pointlessness).

If it makes you feel any better, one time when I was writing one of these it started to snow. I don’t see that happening this time, but hey maybe it’s started snowing where YOU are in the seven hours since you started reading this unconscionable wall of impenetrable prose. Run to the window and check.

Meanwhile, those of you who did NOT check, I can tell the sad reality: there’s very little chance it will be snowing when they check.

Ah, back are you? No snow? Shame.

Still…

Merry Christmas and all that…

Your pal
(/son/brother/other relative/mortal enemy/some guy)
Paul Douglas

Christmas Letter 2012

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Seasons Greetings, Letter Recipients!

So here we are again, me writing a needlessly rambling and (allegedly) amusing recap of the year along with seasonal well-wishes in place of sending Christmas Cards; and you, [Your Name Here], rolling your eyes/skimming through it briefly/hunting out any fodder it provides to respond mockingly (Delete as Appropriate).

As you can see, the letter is mildly customisable this year, so…You know…enjoy that, I guess.

2012 sure was intense. I for one was concerned we’d all had it when that plane with John Cusack and Amanda Peet on it was engulfed by the pyroclastic flow from that volcano…

Wait that doesn’t uh…That doesn’t sound right…

That was the movie wasn’t it?

Crap.

Ummmmm…2012 the year was the one with the South Korean bloke dancing weirdly on YouTube, right?

Well that was pretty good too. And in an added bonus, in the year we all get to live, and not just the people who made it to the comically oversized and suspiciously well-hidden ships like in the movie.

And living was worth it, because we got to see Wiggo, Andy Murray, Jess Ennis, Mo Farah et al make this pretty much the best year ever for British Sport. If you’re from some other country you probably care less about that. I on the other hand thought it was awesome and I am clearly objective (he wrote, shamelessly wearing his Team GB London 2012 Tennis T-Shirt).

But if the very British Olympics is what caught our viewing attention this year, our musical tastes were captivated by some very different styles. There was the aforementioned fit of global insanity, Gangnam Style. To paraphrase a great movie, a million record sales isn’t cool. You know what’s cool?

A BILLION YOUTUBE VIEWS.

Oh mankind, your priorities are amazing.

But it wasn’t just crazed Koreans. There was the year’s other ear worm too, the anti-Friday, proving that if 2011 was a year of cynicism then 2012 was going to be about boundless, unashamed joy (perhaps because we were all pretending to believe there was even a tiny chance the world would end in December even though the reality is nobody’s actually that stupid).

Yes, Canadia have finally made up for Bryan Adams (For whom their government has apologised on a number of occasions) with Call Me Maybe. Which seemed perfect fodder for a One Hit Wonder, but then Carly Rae Jepsen did that song with Owl City and we all went “huh, I guess she’s sticking around after all…I’m okay with that.”

Yeah, it was a good year. The Newsroom debuted this year, The Dark Knight Rises AND Avengers Assemble came out over the summer and now we’ve got The Hobbit.

Myself, I turned 21. Which is…Weird. And I also finally made it to Walt Disney World, which is basically like heaven if you’re me, so…Yeah. Good times.

I was a bit worried things might have been taking a turn when the Yellowstone National Park Super Volcano erupted in Woody Harrelson’s face, but it all worked out.

Wait.

That was the movie again, wasn’t it?

…Uhhhh…

Never mind then.

So anyway, here’s to a great year, the year that was (and – for a little while longer, I suppose – still is) Twenty Twelve. I had a blast, so hopefully you did too.

Looking ahead to the new hotness of 2013, I have to go find an actual job using my training in TV Production and my particular skill in drawing attention to myself when in front of a camera.

…Oh boy, 2013 is going to be tricky, huh?

Eep. Well, anyway, to you my family/valued friend/casual acquaintance/random person reading this by mistake (Delete as Appropriate), I wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And, in the interests of multiculturalism, Feliz Navidad.

Hah, you thought I was gonna say something politically correct like “Happy Holidays” or “Have a Happy Hanukkah; Kwazy Kwanza; Solemn, Dignified Ramadan etc.” or something like that didn’t you? Well I didn’t, instead I worked in a way to shamelessly add that I started learning Spanish this year for no adequately explored reason.

…And then I wound up saying all those politically correct bits anyway, huh?

Meh.

Your Pal/Relative/Acquaintance/Fellow Human Being – whether you like it or not (Delete as Appropriate)
Paul Douglas

I leave you with these very important parting words:
¡Por favor, manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Eurovision Song Contest 2012: Semi-Final 2 Thoughts

It’s that time again! After giving my thoughts on Tuesday’s Semi-Final, it’s now time for me to feedback on Eurovision Song Contest 2012 Semi-Final 2, which took place last night. If you want to remind yourself of context and so on, check out the introduction to the Semi Final 1 Post. You might even want to check out those thoughts before looking at these if you haven’t already red the other post.

Now, before we get to the actual competitors’ entries, I’m gonna go ahead and say that last night’s show was much better than Tuesday’s. There were two reasons for this. First, but less importantly, the BBC’s production was much smoother yesterday. Tuesday it seems as if the talent and production team had turned up five minutes before air and had no idea what they were going to be doing more than five to ten minutes in advance. Last night flowed much more smoothly, it felt a lot more planned & considered.

They also made sure Sara Cox was rarely without Scott Mills to balance out her irritating quirks (Cox is much more agreeable playing off Scott Mills than she is trying to be funny on her own).

Secondly, and most importantly, Azerbaijan’s Semi-Final 2 played host to one of the coolest Eurovision interval acts I have ever seen – I’m almost disappointed they wasted it on the Semi, it easily would have been at home in the Final proper. They got the most recent five winners of the ESC onstage together to perform a medley, including the relevant winning five songs and then a fantastic group cover of Waterloo.

It was awesome. The winners put in standout performances, it sounded great and as a Eurovision nerd it was simply cool to see. Plus, it means Lena was at the ESC for the third successive year.

And it’s no secret I adore Lena, having voted for her on both occasions of her entering the Contest. She’s lovely, and I was pleasantly surprised and delighted to find out she was back again.

Anyway, with that out of the way, on to the finalists!

Serbia

Serbia kicked things off with a rather mournful ballad – which frankly set the tone for what wound up being a fairly ballad-heavy semi. Serbia have won with a ballad before, but I’m not really sure it’s gonna work twice. The entry’s not awful, but it didn’t exactly ignite my passions. It did, notably, innovate. Yes, rather than falling into the “pretty lady with a violin cliché…

TWO pretty ladies with violins! Multiple nice-looking women playing lovely sounding string instruments! GENIUS!

Macedonia

I…Wait a minute…

Yep, it happens that quickly. Macedonia went second, and they too put on a mournful ballad (Albeit one which was a little bit more rousing towards the end) with a pair of pretty ladies paling violins. The similarity of the two acts first onstage is frankly hilarious. Luckily they’ve been separated a bit in the Final.

Not much to say about these two if I’m honest. They’re not really to my taste, I’ve only occasionally liked Eurovision ballads (Molitva deserved its win against the finalists that year in my opinion, though Salvem El Móm was the best song in the Contest overall). Still, there are worse songs than these two in the contest. In fact there’s worse songs in the final.

It’s Albania. I’m talking about Albania. That song is baaaaad.

Malta

I was slightly concerned this wouldn’t get through. It’s very good; and it has a suitably epic feel (Definitely plays well as a stadium performance, put it that way); but despite it’s catchy, poppy style it also flirts heavily with the rock music aesthetic. And as we know, rock songs have a history of being streets ahead of other songs in the contest and being left in the Semis anyway (Like Salvem El Móm).

Fortunately for Malta, it appears the maltese entry’s pop music stylings saved it from the rock music curse. It may have helped that there was another entry with more overtly rocky stylings to absorb the curse…More on that later.

Ukraine

Ukraine have been known to send some bizarre acts (Dancing Lasha Tumba? That was the Ukraine entry that year. Yeah), and it seems to work for them. Be My Guest continues that proud tradition:

And indeed, this is a particularly strong example. The song is actually pretty damn good, which always helps make a novelty act worth our attention, the singer is fairly easy on the eyes and the entry as a whole is very Eurovision. Definitely earning a spot in the final, I noted at the time that there was no way this song was failing to make the cut.

Sweden

Behold, ladies and gentlemen, the out and out favourite to win:

Euphoria, Sweden’s latest effort, leads the bookies’ odds and the buzz in the hardcore Eurovision crowd is that this is in with a really good chance of stopping the Russian Grannies (The number 2 seed, buoyed by the novelty factor).

And it’s…Actually not bad. It’s not my favourite song in the contest, but I do like it, despite initially not taking to it. I kind of felt like the verses were a bit incomprehensible last night though. It’s possible, however, that this was a technical thing and not related to the song, so it might sound better on Saturday. At any rate, not my pick, but I’d not be upset at it winning.

Unless it narrowly beats Denmark. Then Sweden can go to hell.

Turkey

Turkey sent a novelty act. Hahahaha, we get it, they made their weird costumes link together in the form of a boat around him. Isn’t that marvellous?

Not especially, no. Annoyingly, the song is actually alright. The problem, as I see it, is that the singer is not…What’s that word…Good? He’s maybe passable. But not good. The song has a relatively catchy hook, but I constantly felt the lyrics and the music were on keys which were not only quite far apart, but also so far apart it seemed unlikely the two had ever met.

Not great, might do well anyway though. Not especially bad either at least.

Estonia

This is an entry which elicits a “meh” from me. It’s in no way bad, but it’s not really my cup of tea (it’s another soppy ballad). THere was some amusement to be had with its singer though, who is Estonia’s answer to Zac Efron (He played Troy in Estonian High School Musical) and perennial nobody Chris O’Donnell.

So it’s a good looking guy singing a ballad eh?

And so it came to be.

Norway

More hilarious lookalike fun to be had here. Take a look at Norway’s entry:

It could also be that this guy is the magic offspring of Kutcher and Taylor Lautner.

Joking aside, Norway put in a solid effort. Nothing much to complain about here. Competent entry, decent enough song, no surprise it made the final. It’ll probably do quite well. I didn’t like it early on in the performance and felt like it might go out, but by the end it had flipped me and I was approving, though slightly concerned about what the judges would do with it. Concerns were ill-founded, since it made it in.

Bosnia And Herzegovina

Bosnia & Herzegovina sent Romana, one time Lord President of the Time Lords (Snark snark her costume is preposterous oh that Bosnia and Herzegovina etc. etc.) to perform an example of my least favourite Eurovision entry type, a weeper – a particularly soppy, miserable and downbeat ballad.

Not a fan, but apparently Europe is because it got in along with…

Lithuania

Who also sent a weeper – though at least theirs became a bit more rousing toward the middle and back half. Still not one of my favourites, and I certainly would;t have been sorry to see it go out. It capped off what turned out to be a very ballad-heavy Semi Final, and I have to say I strongly disagree with the sentiment of some other Eurovision geeks (At least ahead of Semi Final 2) that Semi Final 1 was the weaker Semi. Only a few good songs if you ask me – and precious few of those made it from Semi Final 2 to Saturday’s Final (More on that below).

Lithuania did provide me some amusement though, as 24 year old Donny Montell (4 years my senior) looks about half that age.

Anyway, with the Finalists out of the way, it’s time to move on to the unlucky eight who are going home early (Well, metaphorically speaking).

The Netherlands

See, I’m not sure if Joan Franka realised 120 Million+ People watch this thing. Because it certainly seemed as if she thought it was a little thing down the pub. Her jaunty little love-themed ditty wasn’t awful, but it was by no means good. It sounded weird and she looked high most of the time she was onscreen (She even seemed under the influence in the Green Room).

Still, the netherlands did decide to keep up the theme of innovation with violins from the two acts before them, by changing things up in a crazy new way:

Note for the record though that a male violinist did win for Norway in 2009. He was also the lyricist though.

Belarus

Belarus overturned the result of the national tele-vote to pick their entry because their country’s leadership agreed with the population’s sentiment that the vote had been rigged to prevent this entry from winning.

Well, you know what Belarus? You should have let BTRC rig the result. Lightspeed’s effort was incredibly mediocre. Another bloody Eurovision Song about succeeding against long odds, with clichéd boasts of presumptive triumph thrown in? Jeez, guys, 2007 called, they want their semi-finalist dropouts back.

No surprises this went to, and no huge loss to the Contest.

Portugal

The first big scalp, at least if the hype was to be believed. If you ask me though, a lone woman in a showy dress in front of a crowd of barely moving backup singers (take a shot) singing a ballad? Yeah, like we needed another one of those. Portugal sent a particularly uninspiring effort at a style already being overused, so they were always going out.

Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s entry had a lot of hype behind it because it had one of the least worthless gimmicks of all the gimmicks entered this year (And there’s quite a few of them, as per usual). You should check it out, because it’s actually not bad – in fact I had it pegged as probably getting through, though I did imagine it would endure anonymity in the final. I guess Europe had other ideas.

Slovenia

For my money, the biggest scalp of the night, was this rather enchanting entry from Slovenia failing to make it into the final.I really liked it, and it seemed like a lock to me:

But it seems Europe didn’t want that much variety in the finalists tonight (We’ll get to that) and so they decided the only song tonight which successfully took the “get a lady to sing a song” idea in a direction other than “make it a ballad because real art is sad!” should be shown the door. Kind of a big loss. This was a good one. One of my top five for sure.

Yes, it starts off as kind of a ballad, but unlike the others it quickly builds to something anthemic. The others stick pretty stubbornly to downbeat balladic themes. This one reminds me of Molitva, in that it becomes very powerful and catchy as it builds.

Also, she’s quite pretty.

Croatia

Croatia’s entry opted for an…Ahem…Innovative approach to preparing for the Contest.

Yeah…So that was weird. And not worth it because it didn’t go through. No huge loss, it merely joined the throngs of songs last night which were mournful dreary ballads sung by women. In fact, this one really took the cake:

Still, it did have one thing going for it, the most obvious example of an old friend to all Eurovision fans:

And yes, the Eurovision key Change did lead to it being a bit more upbeat, but enough of it was dreary and miserable that it failed to excite me the way Slovenia did.

Georgia

Baffling. Just baffling.

Not awful.

Just…Baffling.

Not a huge loss, though not abysmal.

Mostly? Baffling.

Slovakia

Simultaneously the biggest scalp of the evening (Semi Final 2’s best song – hands down) and the one I was least surprised was forced out. Slovakia, failing completely to heed my repeated warnings about rock songs frequently being among the best songs in the Contest and yet still going out in the Semi because apparently Europe hates rock music now, entered “Don’t CLose Your Eyes” and…Just listen to it:

How can you not want to rock out to that!? It’s fantastic. This is exactly the kind of song which would be played all over University Campuses.

I voted for it, despite knowing full well it was probably a waste of effort. I had to try. Andorra going out still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth (As you may have noticed). Alas, the curse struck once again, and so another of the top five songs in the entire contest has gone out at the first hurdle.

This was the dog with the best chance of unseating Denmark was my personal voice for winner. But Europe hates rock music, and so Slovakia’s chances are down the drain.

So then, I leave you with this:

Go Soluna Samay Go! Vote Denmark!

Eurovision Song Contest 2012: Semi-Final 1 Thoughts

Ah, the Eurovision Song Contest. Music as sport, with hilarious campiness and snark added for that little extra spice. As you might know, I ADORE it. I watch it every year and blow up Twitter with my ongoing commentary on everything that happens. And now, I’m blogging about it too (Ahead of having a mini Eurovision Party on Saturday for the first time!)

Here then I will be writing up my thoughts on Semi Final 1. I’ll do the same on Friday for Semi Final 2, and Sunday for the Final. Naturally, during the shows, my usual Twitter service will be in full effect. Saturday’s should be fun, as I’m going to be drinking Beer and playing a Eurovision Drinking Game and there’s nothing funnier than drunken live tweets. Now, for context, I take a semi serious approach to ESC. I treat it as a serious competition of musical performance but I’m entirely okay with it being light entertainment. And the fact is, if you take the show slightly seriously, it makes the campy nonsense even funnier to snark about.

With that in mind, I tend to favour serious entries, by which I mean heartfelt genuine efforts to produce a genuinely good song and performance, over the deliberately absurd gimmick entries – though if the song is good, I can appreciate the gimmick. I do, however, have a preference for more upbeat tracks. That said, I’ll support something more akin to a ballad provided it’s catchy enough or what have you.

With that out of the way then, here’s my thoughts on, first, the ten lucky entrants who will join the Big Five & Our Hosts (Azerbaijan) on Saturday.

Iceland

A heartfelt ballad duet song by a pretty girl and a handsome guy. Okay, first of all, take a shot. Take another because the pretty lady has a violin. Second…Meh? There’s almost always a song like this, and I can’t for the life of me recall it winning…Except, last year. Yes, that’s right, Iceland have turfed up as both this year’s cliche storm entry and the entry flagrantly ripping off last year’s winner (Another thing which also always happens – oh you better believe you should take a shot). It’s inoffensive enough like, so it was always getting through, but I predict (and hope for) relative anonymity on Saturday.

Greece

What’s that? Greece have sent a pretty girl with a sexually suggestive song who dances around provocatively giving us a good view of her legs and the occasional panty shot? Take another shot, and I hope you weren’t planning on driving tonight because you’re already wasted. Greece have pulled this exact stunt several times, as have other countries with admittedly less frequency than our cash-strapped Olympic inventing friends. Their best effort in this regard was 2008’s Kalomira, who at least seemed like a lovely girl on top of being pretty (it was also probably the best song they’ve sent with a pretty girl dancing suggestively, which helped). I doubt Greece are going to score big with Eleftheria and her “Aphrodisiac” (Subtelty has gone out the window incidentally), still the girl’s nice to look at.

Albania

Albania’s entry sucks. It just flat out sucks. This is an awful “song”, in a horrible style sung by a woman with what appears to be the weirdest hairdo in ESC history – think about that for a moment. How hard would it be to be that weird? She managed it. It’s mournful, a-melodic screeching and I’m frankly disgusted it got through. I have to imagine the judges are responsible for that (out of some pretentious belief that it’s artsy) because if Europe voted in droves for this dreck, I despair for humanity in general.

Romania

Another meh here. This is a song which left very little impression on me. I predicted at the time it would get through, as it had a distinctly inoffensive blandness, but I’d be amazed if it breaks the top ten in the final. Not much to say really. It’s okay, I guess.

Cyprus

Here we have Cyprus copying Greece’s signature play, which if you think about it is all sorts of hilarious given the relationship between the two nations. Yes it’s a pretty girl dancing about and singing a relatively catchy pop song. But, interestingly enough, it seems Cyprus may just have beat Greece at the latter’s own game. “La La Love” is undeniably a better song than Greece’s entry. And Ivi Adamou, whilst perhaps not quite as overtly sexy as  Eleftheria, is probably prettier than her Greek rival – and pretty girls tend to be more likely to succeed in ESC than simply sexy ones.

Denmark

Speaking of pretty girls doing well, Soluna Samay is very pretty. Although her fashion sense is a bit suspect, as noted in response to me by @SLomasSCFC1883:

Anyway, Soluna has entered a catchy acoustic pop song called “Should Have Known Better”. This song is fantastic. It’s a wonderfully pleasant listen. It’s technically a bit sorrowful if you listen to the lyrics, but it’s composed in a delightfully hopeful manner. This, for me, is the standout song of the Semi, and it’s my favourite so far (I’ve heard all the songs barring those in Semi Final 2 and the UK’s entry, which I usually wait until the final to hear unless there’s a public vote to pick it). I love this song, and Soluna is well on her way to getting my vote at this rate.

Russia

I’m in two minds about the infamous “Russian Grannies” entry. On the one hand, it is delightfully silly and genuinely endearing. Plus, it is appealingly catchy. After all, it’s a cheesy pop song. They tend to be catchy. On the other hand, it’s the Russian entry. This isn’t going to make sense to you if you’re not a Eurovision nut like myself, but we really don’t need or want to be going back to Russia, and the bitter taste of their last victory is still in my mouth. Unfortunately, this could be a lock. It’ll play well with the casual voters Europe-wide. The judges will take a dim view, but that could well not be nearly enough to keep this from winning. Apart from anything else, I’d like to keep it from winning precisely because it’s goofy. As noted above, I prefer genuinely good songs to win. Like “Should Have Known Better”.

Seriously, Soluna is this year’s Lena, I swear.

Hungary

Hungary’s was another entry which had “heading on to certain obscurity in the final” written all over it, with the the added bonus of being another example of those entries which seem to make an appearance every year (Yay for generic entries I guess?):

So, yeah. Not a lot to be said. It wasn’t awful, but I doubt it’s contesting the win.

Moldova

I’m a little disappointed this got through. I mean it’s not awful. And there were worse songs which were deservedly left behind. But I could have done without it (Though, given the choice, I’d pick it over Albania’s shameful waste of a slot any day). It’s a predictably absurd entry from the Moldovans, and I’m starting to wonder if they’re not a bit unhinged. From the weird costumes to the slightly bizarre song itself, it’s just a smidge too goofy for my tastes. And the fact it’s not even full on goofy makes it worse. It’s almost a normal entry. But with absurdity smeared all over it for no apparent reason. I’m not a fan, but it could possibly do well.

Ireland

Yeah, it’s Jedward. Back for another go. Funnily enough I actually like Waterline more than last year’s “Lipstick”. It’s a more sincere effort at a song. And the theatrics onstage with the fountain were pretty great actually, made a nice change to the usual fireworks and props stuff. Biggest mistake? Jedward’s needless shiny spacesuit outfits. Completely out of place with the song and just generally stupid. I know they’re supposed to have this quirky stage persona, but I just think it doesn’t fit this song and it’s possibly hurt their chances.

Incidentally, I’m not sure why, but the press (Or at least, the BBC) seemed baffled by the word “waterline” and kept asking “what is a water line?” of Jedward. The boys were equally baffled by the question. But I would suggest this was not, as it may have seemed, because they didn’t now, but because they weren’t prepared to be asked such a moronic question. It’s the surface of a given body of water. The metaphor, equally, is pretty self-explanatory. I really didn’t understand where the confusion arose from. But there you are.

Anyway, those are our ten qualifiers. Let’s take a look at the eight acts which have crashed out of the contest for the year now.

Montenegro

Montenegro it seems did not make a sincere effort, with their entry coyly describing his attendance at the contest as a “mistake”.

I’d have to assume this is because they don’t want to pay to host the contest next year  – fair enough, other nations have done the same thing. I do wish they had chosen to simply enter something which would just “never win” rather than this abomination of a time waster. I think it was supposed to be funny. But it wasn’t. It was just genuinely bad. Which is not a substitute for funny.

Latvia

Yes Latvia’s bizarrely staged “Beautiful Song” turned heads for the oddly broadway-esque style of its opening moments and the “vaguely attractive in an ugly sort of way” looks of is performers. Unfortunately, the heads turned were treated to an ironically bland and forgettably mediocre ode to a beloved and memorable song (Presumably it was supposed to be shaped like itself. It was not.)

Switzerland

Switzerland made two mistakes. First (technically second, but I’m addressing it first) of all, their lead singer was squinting distractingly in one eye as the song began. The effect was incredibly bizarre and unsettling. Second (really first), they entered a rock song.

And so it proved, as Switzerland became another example of a rock song failing to make it out of the Semis. Personally, I think it’s a shame, I’d like to see more rock songs in the final, even if just for the sake of variety. But alas, the trend continues. Still, at least it wasn’t as disappointing as 2007, when the best song in the entire contest (Andorra’s “Salvem El Móm”) didn’t make it out of the Semis having fallen victim to the rock song curse (Amusingly though, the contest was held in Finland that year because the previous year Finland broke the rock song curse by combining it with a gimmick – the oldest Eurovision trick in the book – in the form of Lordi, the monster make up performers).

Belgium

Belgium had a sweet entry, with 17-year-old Iris rivalling Soluna for prettiest girl performing. The entry was perhaps held back a bit though by the fact that it was a bit boring. The song started off seeming as if it was building to something which never really came. It could have done with an uplifting chorus, final verse or even middle eight to lift things. Instead it came across as a wee bit mournful. This and Switzerland’s efforts though, by far the least deserving of being ejected. I myself would have swapped this in for Albania and Switzerland for Moldova. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles. I originally thought the judges might save it, but it would seem not.

Finland

Finland have fallen a long way from winning six years ago. This year’s entry was a blandly uninteresting cliche storm, which I’ll let my Tweets summarise:

I guess they were trying to do an Iceland, but their effort fell flat. It was never getting through.

Israel

Hooray! Israel knocked out in the Semis! I really am sick of Israel turfing up to these contests and trying to make a mockery of proceedings. This year’s acid trip of a clanger was no exception, and I was not in the least bit sorry to see it go. It ranks in my bottom four alongside alongside Albania and our next two evictees.

San Marino

San Marino tried to enter a song called “Facebook (Uh Oh)” but were politely reminded commercial messages are banned. They renamed it “The Social Network Song” and inflicted it on us anyway. It stank. It’s bad. It’s terrible. It’s musically pathetic, lyrically awful and it falls into the “You’ve Got Mail” trap hard. Some of its apologists are pointing out that it’s meant to be satire. And, okay, yeah, it’s satire. Fine. That doesn’t excuse the fact it’s awful. It’s horrible to listen to. You wanna write a satirical song, go right on ahead, but make it a good song. San Marino’s crime is identical to that of…Ugh…Dustin the fucking Turkey.

Thankfully, like Dustin, this atrocious act of parody was shown the door in the Semis.

Austria

Austria just weren’t trying. From their TV-unfriendly artist name (Trackshittaz is clearly a corruption of Track Shitters, whether you admit it or not, BBC) to the pole dancing, to the awful lyrics to the douchebaggish nature of the assholes performing the song, Austria apparently sought to make a mockery of the contest and were promptly shown the door. Eurovision may be campy and ridiculous, but you will never get far trying to take the piss out of the Contest like this. Didn’t work for Dustin, didn’t work for those idiots who ‘sang’ “We Are the Winners (Of Eurovision)” and it didn’t work for this pair of assholes.

That then is Semi Final 1. I’ll be back Friday with my detailed thoughts on Semi Final 2 (And you can see my Tweets live during the show @TVPaulD). In the meantime, I leave you with my thoughts on the Automatic Qualifiers:

France: Good

Germany: Good

Spain: Okay

Italy: Very Good

United Kingdom: SIGH, I really wanted us to send something with a chance of winning this year, but we did not

Azerbaijan: Meh

Revolution: The Sky’s The Limit

Rupert Murdoch always saw himself as a revolutionary. He blustered onto the scene in the United Kingdom with a singular aim: to take on the entrenched elite – the highly conservative establishment and the liberal elites who went some of the way to keeping the establishment in check – and deprive them of their power. His attack was ruthless, long and, for a time, successful.

But as with all things under his domain, Murdoch singularly failed to see the world change around him when seeing that change wouldn’t suit his vision of himself, and the world. He was all too happy to enjoy the perks of the power he wound up wielding over the UK’s political class – the elite he came to conquer.

But what he failed to recognise was that they weren’t the establishment if they were singing to his tune. He was the establishment. And what goes around comes around.

There comes a time in the reign of any despot when he creates his own worst enemy, and even hands that enemy the weapon needed to beat him. It’s an unavoidable fact. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. And when you’re absolutely corrupted by absolute power, arrogance is unavoidable. And arrogance seeped out of every pore of the News Corp operation. From Rupert’s stubborn insistence that Paywalls online will work (When they patently do not – his own efforts at The Times and sunday Times are laughingstock loss-makers) to James Murdoch, the heir apparent, having the audacity to lecture the media on how the BBC is corrupt, News Corp has conducted itself with unmissable swagger over the past few years in particular.

The news colossus had thought itself untouchable because, rightly or wrongly, it was perceived as the opinion maker. Sometimes the appearance of the ability to sway opinion is as powerful as that actual ability. It’s like when someone says “I’m not saying so and so is a murderer, I’m just saying he hasn’t said he’s not”. The status as the opinion maker was enough to allow them to frame the public narrative their way.

This arrogance spread like a cancer. It started at the top, with Murdoch’s diabolical grip on the corridors of power in Whitehall, and spread all the way down. Until finally, it infected some of the journalists, who saw their leaders picking and choosing whose political careers flourished and therefore assumed their publications were untouchable – Murdoch always got his way. And repercussions were dealt out to those who wronged his people.

And that’s when News International signed its own death warrant. And probably that of (At least part of) its global parent, News Corp.

Which brings us to how the deed was done. It was all deliciously simple. People working for News International – under the watch of James Murdoch, Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks – used illegal means to get their stories. And they did it a lot. And then they made the ultimate mistake: they let arrogance erode common sense and put themselves on the wrong side of certain public outrage.

When it was just celebrities and politicians believed to be victims of the widespread use of illegal investigative tactics, the sad fact is the vast majority of the public couldn’t bring themselves to care. This is pretty understandable. News International has orchestrated a culture of austerity, which has the masses more concerned with their own lives than the whinging of their oppressors (the politicians) and the better off (celebrities).

When you think about it, that was almost the perfect crime. Murdoch got his neo-conservative austerity programmes implemented and was able to use the atmosphere they created to smokescreen the dirty laundry used to get there. But then there’s that arrogance thing. The journalists responsible were blinded by their perceived invincibility.

They did the same thing to the public. Worse, to murder victims and grieving families. They crossed the moral event horizon.

And even more stupidly, they didn’t do a terrific job covering their tracks. Imagine that: journalists dedicated to finding scandalous scoops didn’t properly cover the tracks of their illegal dealings. What arrogance! Did they think that aside from being invulnerable to government and judicial intervention, the rest of the Fourth Estate was beholden to Murdoch just like the corridors of power? Or did they simply forget their power was not the result of superiority over their colleagues?

Whatever the manner of their hubris, they were undone by journalists doing real journalism.

The Guardian blew the doors off the whole thing over the course of a few years (They wanted to move faster, but judicial processes slowed things down). And once they blew the lid, everyone else seized the opening.

And really, it’s also amazing that News Corp didn’t see that coming too. The sheer arrogance of the operation is frankly incomprehensible. They were either so corrupt they were basically blind or else the outfit was run by a bunch of idiots. More likely, both.

For the truth is, News International and its parent have not done a great job making friends. All their “friends” were the politicians. And even they were never really friends. More brown nosers. Perhaps News Corp’s biggest error of judgment was in making rivals like the BBC, Trinity Mirror, Telegraph Media, Guardian Media and more not simply dislike them, but despise them.

Indeed, the enemies of News International in many ways needed to Kill the King to ensure their own survival. News International was the biggest game in town, and if they got a hold of the rest of BSkyB whilst managing to force the BBC – the only legitimate competitor to News International in terms of size – to cutback, scale down…Well the future was bleak for everybody else. Trinity Mirror, the sole remaining truly Left-Wing voice as it was would have been an especially big concern.

After all, what if The Sun crushed The Mirror, and then there was an election where the Indy and the Guardian endorsed the shamed Lib Dems again? All the papers in the UK endorsing the right wing and their lap dogs? That’s a chilling thought.

Meanwhile, what response could Virgin Media have had to the sudden massive escalation in size and power for its entrenched, larger rival – BSkyB? They already have to be in an uneasy partnership with them because of BSkyB’s borderline anti-competitive stranglehold on content. A combined News International-Sky could have snuffed out Virgin Media in a heartbeat. And all this whilst the BBC was thrown to the wolves by the News International attack dogs – the Conservative-led Coalition of the Losers.

So every player in the game had reason to let loose the dogs of war at the first sign of weakness in the King’s Castle. Worse still for News International, they had made an enemy of an old ally: they duplicitously went back to supporting the Tories after Gordon Brown’s (Initially hugely popular) Labour Party made overtures to going its own way on the back of Brown’s initial success. Call a snap election, win, and then be able to lead without Murdoch’s interference. That was the plan.

George Osborne, thinking himself clever, encouraged the ailing new leader of the washed up Tories to take the opportunity to become the new News International golden boy. Cameron went ahead with it. He hired Coulson, came to think of him and Rebekah Brooks as friends, followed their advice, did as Murdoch instructed. But more on the Tories later.

With the News International attack dogs forcing Labour out of power, the new boy came on scene. Ed Miliband. A politician in a mould so fresh the press kept trying to brush him aside rather than bother trying to comprehend it. The press had gotten lazy. They wanted politicians to be artificial people – puppets controlled by the Andy Coulsons of the world lurching from crisis to crisis with spin and PR. Ed Miliband is a straight-shooter. He talks like a human being. He was one of so-called “saints” of the expenses scandal. Murdoch, the epitome of press arrogance, dismissed Miliband because he didn’t understand him. The News Corp top brass didn’t consider this man a threat.

Oh how very, very wrong.

Miliband was the worst possible man for Cameron to face across the Dispatch Box when News Corp blew up in his face. Ed was on the right side of public outrage. Ed was no News International apologist. He wasn’t paying that game. He didn’t need to hop on the bandwagon, because in the political sphere he was the man driving it. Sincerely. And he was surely in no mood to be cautious. News International deposed his Party and assaulted his leadership.

Fitting then that is Ed Miliband who will probably Kill the King this coming Wednesday, by showing the leadership the Prime Minister lacks and leading the House of Parliament into a vote to block the BSkyB takeover bid which has so infatuated the Murdochs.

Welcome to the rise and rise of The Rt Hon. Ed Miliband, MP – The Leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition and likely The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Seventy-Sixth Prime Minister.

But let’s get back to the Tories, they who were the last ones tied to the News International Pole when the music stopped (And, really, the ones who have mostly been in that position – Murdoch is a dreadful right-wing dinosaur and his family are much the same. That’s part of why they hate Ed Miliband, he comes from the core Centre-Left bedrock of Labour, where the Labour activists mostly lie). You’re probably wondering why I’m now so certain Ed Miliband will ascend to the Premiership when last week it looked like a tough ask (At least according to some analyses).

The Conservative-led Coalition of the Losers is held together by duct tape and the fact Nick Clegg is spineless. Had he not made the Coalition pact, Clegg would have been politically finished. Most Party Leaders would resign for doing far better than Clegg did. Gordon Brown did, for example. Many of us gave the Coalition two years at most before collapsing when it was formed. It turned out, Clegg was even more toothless and spineless than we thought. So we revised our assessments: it was going to run to term. Meanwhile, the presumed dissenting voices in the Lib Dems failed to step up to the plate. Rather than voting “no,” they would abstain like cowards.

So the Coalition, with its politically gerrymandered foundations and supports, looked set to rock on. After all, it was politically impossible for the Lib Dems to leave the Tories, they had all the toxicity. The Tories had somehow escaped. The Lib Dems were finished if they rebelled and the Tories would call a snap election they’d likely win.

But now, the Conservative Party’s leader, the Prime Minister David Cameron, has allowed himself to be seen to be on the wrong side of public outrage, whilst the Honourable Gentleman opposite him was The Public’s Voice in Tough Times. Cameron has had to back down, capitulate to Miliband’s demands. And still he has failed to move from the wrong side of public outrage by failing to apologise for hiring Coulson, by failing to call for Rebekah Brooks to be immediately fired.

And we now know there are more awful things about News International’s actions set to come out. So how can Cameron afford to be seen to be standing by any of the Chipping Norton set? He can’t, not really. The time then is ripe for Clegg to recognise his folly last year and bite the hand which has had him by the collar.

The Lib Dems can whack the Tories mercilessly on this, leap to Labour’s side, the side of public outrage, condemn their partner’s actions. And all the toxicity is flung onto the Tories in one fell swoop. Memories are short. Sure, Clegg will probably still lose his seat if he stands at the next General Election, but if he grows some balls and punishes the Tories for the public, some of his failings will be forgiven and he can be safely deputised to Europe by the inevitable Labour Government.

Have the Lib Dems set a date? No. Ed Miliband has though. This coming Wednesday. This coming Wednesday, the Coalition Government will be rocked by the fact that Ed Miliband commands a Majority in the Commons, however briefly. But once the Lib Dems and the factions within the Tory Party who want Cameron out have rebelled en masse once, what’s the point in stopping? Especially if the situation with News International and Cameron worsens. How long can Cameron reasonably expect to command a Majority?

I give it till no later than the end of October at this rate. Something unforeseen may occur to allow them to cling on, or the Lib Dems might be cowards after all. But barring that, the Government will likely collapse once Coulson et. al. are hauled back into the Old Bill. I could see the Lib Dems publicly trumpeting their future independence at their conference, Miliband preparing his Party to return to power at theirs, and Cameron resigning at theirs. It’s so beautiful in my mind.

Of course, it’s just the dream right now. But this is the moment in time we’re at. Revolution. It’s exhilarating, especially for those of us on the left, the progressives. We live for this. And it’s all the sweeter to turn the cannons on Murdoch, a man who once claimed the mantle of revolutionary, only to out-establishment the establishment.

The trouble, as I see it, is that whilst the downfalls of News International and their attempts to ensnare BSkyB are both inevitable (More on that in Part 2), the downfall of the Tories rests with the Lib Dems and Nick Clegg, a man of no political courage or power at present.

Still, the prospect of News Corp losing its 39% of BSkyB (Never mind failing to get the rest) is plenty exciting. We stand at a fork in the road. Ahead lies a bold new future of media plurality here in the UK. That’s down both paths. But down one, the age of austerity continues.

On the other road, the age of austerity withers and dies. Labour rebuilds this country and we all get back on with fulfilling the British Promise.

Remember this moment in time when we eventually do go to the polls, whenever it may be. 2011, 2012, 2014, whenever. It was Ed Miliband at the forefront of the Revolution. Ed Miliband leading for the people.

Turn Left, Go Forth: Vote Labour. A Future Fair for All, Free from News International’s Influence.

Christmas Letter 2011

Season’s Greetings Friends, Family & assorted hangers-on!

It’s that time of year once again where many people choose to send each other nice simple Christmas Cards – short, sweet indications that they’re thinking of you at this, the most wonderful time of the year. And, as has become tradition, I am instead wasting your time with this, my annual Christmas Letter, in which I reflect at unnecessary length on the year that was and, of course, the festive season.

So here I am, sitting in the glow of the unnecessarily large Christmas tree in my bedroom with my (infamous, and only partially accurately named) Xmas in Pompey 2 Spotify playlist filling the room with the sounds of Christmas cheer. Which sounds incredibly cheesy, but I’ve always said* it’s not cheesy if you can think of something either as cheesy, or more cheesy, which is also less appropriate for the given situation. And I have:

A Margherita.

Now, with that out of the way, on to the reflecting on the year. And frankly I think nothing this year says more about our modern era than the way that godawful “Friday” song by Rebecca Black infected every facet of our lives over the course of about a month earlier in the year – and it already feels like it’s ancient history.

Either the years are getting longer or we’re finding more ways to do stuff in them. Luckily, Mark Zuckerberg has come up with a way to find out in Facebook Timeline, whilst Twitter continues to give us an avenue to voice our every trivial thought (And say bitchy things about the way candidates on The Apprentice choose to dress). And I for one welcome our new Social Media overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted (Ahem) TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

Speaking of TV, the has been a great year for TV and I can prove it in just ten words:

The Simpsons has been renewed through its twenty-fifth season.

There have of course been some downsides though. The X Factor has unfortunately not been canceled yet, Big Brother was (Unfathomably) brought back and the BBC decided to hand over half their F1 (More on that in a moment) coverage to Sky Sports, which was probably not the best idea considering that they did so right at the same time as the entire country was furious with Rupert Murdoch, News Corp & Sky over the flagrant corruption & use of phone hacking. As own goals go, the BBC pulled off a belter there.

Oh and while I’ve got you, I still say Germany should have won Eurovision again. Yeah, I’m still bitter about that. And what?

Anyway, I said I’d say something about Formula 1. Ignoring the fact Vettel made the whole season rather dull with his overpowered Red Bull car (I really don’t think it’s fair that he gets a car which gives you wings), this was still a cracking year with some all-time classic races, including the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, the longest race in F1 history (A record it will hold forever as the rules have now been changed to prevent races running as long as that one did).

Also, over the two-year period since Jenson Button joined McLaren, he’s outscored Lewis Hamilton. At the risk of saying I told you so, I TOTALLY FRIGGING TOLD YOU SO.

Ahem…Anywho, I suppose I should say something about some other sports for the sake of balance, but they’re going to have to be eternally true platitudes because I barely pay attention to most of them so er…Manchester United are evil, cricket is dull & tedious, Rugby is vaguely homoerotic etc. etc.

Also if I don’t mention video games, the citizens of Giant Bomb (dot) Com will probably shoot me in the knee with an arrow. I don’t fully get that joke because I never played Skyrim (Too busy playing The Legend of Zelda IN THREE DEE on my 3DS), but they make references to it all the time on Reddit so I guess it must be pretty funny. The biggest thing in games this year for me was probably the return of Pokémon. Oh god how I played a lot of Pokémon.

So then, with that all out of the way, I leave you with this topical reference to both 2011 & 2012 in the form of a brain teaser:

If you ask Siri to schedule “the end of the world” for December 21, 2012, does that make you God if the world does end then**?

Have a
Merry Christmas,
Happy Holidays,
Helluva Hanukkah
Perfect Pancha Ganapti***,
Delectable Dies Natalis Solis Invicti***,
Dignified Quaid-e-Azam’s Day***,
Marvellous Malkh-Festival,
Kwazy Kwanzaa,
And a Happy New Year,

Your Pal,
Paul Douglas.

* Not true. I’ve never said that.
** No, no it doesn’t. That would be stupid.
*** Look it up.

Christmas Letter 2010

Dear family; friends; casual acquaintances; people who I don’t know reading this online and Google Spiderbots,

It’s that time of the year again. You know? The most wonderful one. That one. Christmastime. Yeah? You probably noticed what with all the pretty lights and tinsel and goodwill to all men and sudden inexplicable rise in quality of television. Which also means it’s time for me to write my Christmas Letter, a tradition which – despite the protestations of many –  shows no signs of ending. You know? Like mince pies.

Now for some of you this is your first time receiving one of these letters, and some of you who have received one before have preposterously short atten…Oh hey look, a bunny rabbit!

Where was I? Oh right, explaining the letter.

Every year, I sit down and ask myself a simple question: “What kind of year has it been?”.

Then, in the letter, I ramble on and on, at times quite tediously, in answer. And because I’m a wacky goofball, I usually litter it with jokes. Mostly the stuff I didn’t have time to say in the year that was. Why? Because why the hell not, that’s why.

So anyway, let’s set about answering that question. What kind of year has it been? Well…A damned long one! I don’t know about you, but January 2010 feels like so long ago I can barely remember it. Maybe it’s the quite preposterous number of things which happened this year, or the way everything seems to have changed, or maybe it’s the fact I’m a Student and therefore have consumed what is surely a dangerous amount of alcohol.

No, just kidding folks. The only DANGEROUS amount of alcohol is none.

Just think, this time last year, me and many of my peers were waiting around for the sadistic system known as “UCAS” to let us know our fate. I was in College and almost all my friends were 17, which means there was no nightlife to speak of.

How times have changed.

And look at all the other stuff. This year, amongst the achievements to my name are, sleep (Drunk) in a Disneyland Paris Hotel bathroom; move to University; spend an hour on a stage telling my fellow College leavers how awesome we are; go to Prom with a date AND pass Year 13 whilst basically sleeping through most of the Exam period – thank YOU inexplicably high marks in January Exams*!

*Seriously, I have no idea why they were so high. I thought I’d failed them.

Yes, it’s been one hell of a year. A year in which I, repeatedly, discarded almost all of my hair and started reviewing drinks on the internet for…Some reason. You know now that I write that down, it seems even weirder…Still…Go watch those reviews…

Still, by far the most exciting part of the year was moving to Portsmouth where, to paraphrase a song, I’ve got some friends that I may hardly know, but we’ve had some times I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Man, I hate it when people pretend to be deep by using the lyrics of a song, don’t you? Doesn’t that just make you want to punch them in the face? Well please don’t do that, I’m still typing. It’s hard to type with broken glasses and a black eye you know. I speak from experience.

Also, some stuff happened in the wider world, but it’s mostly very depressing. But…Uh…Hey, Toy Story 3 came out. So it’s not all bad. Oh and they brought Golden Grahams back. Some of you have no idea why that’s amazing, but I assure you, it’s like the best thing that ever happened in the world of cereal.

You know, speaking of Toy Story 3, I saw a lot of good movies this year…So there you go, there’s some good news from the wider world. It was a good year for cinema.

Still reading? Good…A lot of people duck out after the second or third paragraph after they realise I’m just as annoying in writing as I am out loud. In return for your persistence, I have some happy news: IT”S SNOWING! I literally glanced at the window as I was writing this paragraph and it’s started snowing again! on Christmas Eve ! That’s in-freaking-credible!

Yeah, as you may be aware, I never grew up.

I’m still a kid at heart.

Anyway, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time now. Plus I want to get this sent at about Midday. So then…Have a Merry Christmas; Happy Holidays; Happy Hannukah; Kwazy Kwanza; Solemn, Dignified Ramadan and a Happy New Year.

Yours,
Paul Douglas

PS: Okay, NOW you can hit me.

PPS: OW! Hey, it wasn’t mandatory! Jeez.


New Generation not New Labour

I’m not gonna lie to you, I am incredibly happy about Ed Miliband’s recent election as the new Leader of the Labour Party. If you follow me on Twitter (@TVPaulD), you’ve probably seen me Tweeting in support over the past months as the Leadership Election has unfolded. And Ed’s speech on the result being announced touched strongly on the reason I feel I connected so readily with his campaign.

In David Miliband, and Ed Balls, I saw two (Very, very good) politicians. But they were just that, politicians. And what’s more, politicians of an era which I feel has had its time. When the Conservative Party was ejected in 1997, they spent the next 8 years or so pushing essentially the same old Tory orthodoxy.

Then they elected David Cameron, and much as I dislike his politics and generally disagree with him, you can’t argue that he was not a transformative figure for the Conservatives. He remade them into a modern Conservative Party that was much more in tune with what (certain sectors of) the population were feeling. Labour had done the same thing with Tony Blair – much later than they should have.

The risk with putting David Miliband or Ed Balls in as leader was that they would be seen as continuing the old New Labour era (Clumsy a phrase as that is) past its sell-by date. Tony Blair has been bleating that we should not move past New Labour. He’s very attached to it, it’s his legacy.

But Tony is as wrong now as he was when he began to mistake what New Labour stood for to most people around the time of the Iraq War. Ed Miliband characterises it as becoming the establishment, and that’s true. New Labour ceased, partway into Tony’s second term, to be radical or reformative.

This stagnation continued under Gordon Brown, but let’s be clear: the rot started on Tony’s watch. And we lost more voters on his watch than we did on Gordon’s. Gordon is a great man, and he was a great, but (like Tony) flawed Prime Minister.

Ed Miliband is younger than the other Leadership contenders. He’s younger than the Coalition Leaders. It may only be about half a decade, but it’s enough. Enough to signal a sea change. Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson and to a less overt extent David Miliband (Their heir apparent) wanted to continue the New Labour project because they feared going back to the old Labour orthodoxies.

In taking this stance, they forgot the fundamental reason the Labour Party turned to the New Labour project: staying the same is not Labour, will not get you elected and is, in fact, the very definition of conservatism.

Ed Miliband has built a credible case for a new generation. I hate to evoke the Obama cliché, but it applies somewhat here. Under Ed’s new generation of the Labour Party, Labour can be a transformative entity again, we can regain radicalism, we can return to progressivism. Making real changes, bit-by-bit, for the betterment of all Britons, as a collective.

It’s a younger, more vibrant Labour Party, a Labour Party which has turned a page, and shorn itself of the stagnation which got us ejected from power.

It’s what the people wanted, Labour back as the champions of The March of Progress.

And at the head of this New Generation of the Labour movement, we have Ed Miliband. An MP, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, yes. But, crucially, a man who is clearly a human being. The mantra of “Ed talks Human” rings true. Just as Obama captured my personal imagination because he is a stunning orator, Ed captures people’s imaginations and affections (including my own) because he comes across as someone who not only fundamentally gets it, but gets us.

The Conservatives are underestimating the importance of Ed’s human quality, and of the transformation of Labour, over night, into a generationally different movement. They are, wrongly, elated.

My advice to you Mr. Cameron, is this:

Run and hide. Run. And hide.

The Final Stretch

Well today is the very last day of my Easter Holiday away from College. Tomorrow, it’s back to the Sawtry Community College for the home stretch. Three weeks this coming Thursday, I’m onstage wrapping up our official time at Sawtry with the SCC Sixth Form Leavers 2010 Final Assembly. I promise a show like no other. This is going to be one helluva spectacle folks.

A couple of weeks alter, on Friday the 28th of May, at Twenty-Five to One in the afternoon, my last ever lesson at Sawtry ends. After that, all I have there is four exams. The mind boggles that in less than six weeks, it’s all over. Seven years on, as by far the longest-lasting constant in my life outside of my immediate family, my time at SCC comes to an end. Naturally, that means I will have a lot of spare time for some three months. And that in turn means I’ll have more time to spend on doofy crap for this here website.

Then, it’s on to Uni. Which leads me neatly to the other thing which will take up my newfound spare time, the pursuit of money. Yes, it seems I’ll have to pick up at least a few days’ overtime each week as summer rolls around in order to build up a nice lump of spare money to spend on life in Pompey.

Man, writing this all down, it steal feels unreal. I am simultaneously overcome with amazement at how short the time left is and an overwhelming lack of comprehension of that fact.

It’s a weird time of life, you know? Everything’s basically done here but the closing number. We’ve got plans to end it all with a succession of show-stoppers though. The Final Assembly I’m putting together is an extravaganza. It’s a celebration, a variety show, a trip down memory lane, a massive pat on the back and more all crammed into an hour. I’m shooting for the full range of emotions. They’ll laugh, they’ll cry, they’ll cheer, they’ll be proud, they’ll be embarrassed, they’ll smile, they’ll cry & of course, they’ll smile. This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done. And I assure you, I take it very bloody seriously.

Then, a bunch of us are going to tear it up at a Theme Park for the day. Alton Towers is, I think, again the plan. And then we’ve got the End of Year Ball in early July. We call it a ball, but it’s being deliberately organised to allow us to go to the clubs & bars afterwards, so I’m, not certain “Ball” is the word. But it’s going to be one helluva party. Later that month, in a last hurrah before the exam results day, I’m off back to Disneyland Paris with some mates. Imagine the high spirits!

…And there it is again. I’m writing this partly to try and make it all sink in but…It just seems unreal to me.

Oh well, maybe it’ll sink in tomorrow when I hit the College. I’ve got a surprise for everyone which will be immediately apparent, and I have some unfinished business to take care of. It’s the home stretch, and it all kicks off in less than 15 hours. Here. We. Go.