Sunday, August 01, 2021

"It Blesseth Him That Gives & Him That Takes"

From The North favourite, yer actual Jodie Whittaker is to step down from the lead in Doctor Who, the BBC has confirmed this week. The first woman to play The Doctor will bow out of the BBC's popular, long-running family SF drama in Autumn 2022, along with current showrunner Chris Chibnall. Whittaker will star in a new series later this year and then in three further specials next year. In a statement, Whittaker paid tribute to Chibnall and the Doctor Who team, adding: 'I will carry The Doctor and the lessons I've learnt [sic] forever.' This blogger thinks Jodie is great but he has one complain to make at this point. It's 'learned' Jodie, not 'learnt'. Chibnall, who appointed the actress to replace Peter Capaldi in the role, has been in charge of the BBC series since 2017. 'In 2017 I opened my glorious gift box of size thirteen shoes,' Whittaker said in a statement. 'I could not have guessed the brilliant adventures, worlds and wonders I was to see in them.' She continued: 'My heart is so full of love for this show, for the team who make it, for the fans who watch it and for what it has brought to my life. And I cannot thank Chris enough for entrusting me with his incredible stories. We knew that we wanted to ride this wave side by side and pass on the baton together. So here we are, weeks away from wrapping on the best job I have ever had. I don't think I'll ever be able to express what this role has given me. I know change can be scary and none of us know what's out there. That's why we keep looking. Travel hopefully. The universe will surprise you. Constantly.' For her final series, Whittaker will once again be joined by Mandip Gill as Yaz and large-toothed Scouse comedian John Bishop, who will play a new character named Dan, Dan The Time Travellin' Man. Chibnall is currently producing the next series of Doctor Who, which will be broadcast later this year. It will be followed by three specials, the first of which will be broadcast on New Year's Day 2022, with another later in the spring of 2022. Whittaker's final feature-length special, where The Doctor will regenerate, will be shown in the autumn as part of the BBC's Centenary celebrations. Really tedious and ill-informed speculation will now, inevitably, turn to who Whittaker's replacement might be, as Doctor Who approaches its sixtieth anniversary in 2023. Remember this blogger's - lengthy, but considered - advice when it came to this sort of nonsense from four years ago when first Jodie got the gig, dear blog reader. 'On the last three occasions that a new Doctor has been chosen, in all cases the incoming Doctor - Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and Jodie Whittaker - have been mentioned virtually nowhere by any newspaper, broadcaster, website, media speculator or bookmaker until about three or four days before the announcement was due, at which point they suddenly become an overnight favourite ... So, next time there's going to be a change of Doctor here's a tip for everyone; don't bother to speculate and ignore all of the people who are speculating to fill column inches. Rather, just wait until about three days before the announcement is due and then check out who is betting on whom. That will save us all a lot of bullshit.'
Chibnall said: 'Jodie and I made a "three series and out" pact with each other at the start of this once-in-a-lifetime blast. So now our shift is done, and we're handing back the TARDIS keys. Jodie's magnificent, iconic Doctor has exceeded all our high expectations. She's been the gold standard leading actor, shouldering the responsibility of being the first female Doctor with style, strength, warmth, generosity and humour.' He added: 'She captured the public imagination and continues to inspire adoration around the world, as well as from everyone on the production. I can't imagine working with a more inspiring Doctor - so I'm not going to!'
Meanwhile, large-toothed Scouse comedian John Bishop has revealed he was involved in a car crash when he swerved to avoid 'a big chicken.' Bishop said he was driving through Wales on his way to catch a ferry to Ireland when the crash happened. He shared photos on Instagram of his Land Rover smashed into a post at the side of the road with a broken windscreen. Bishop confirmed he missed the ferry and, instead, travelled as a foot passenger on a later crossing. He wrote: 'I was driving to catch a ferry to Ireland when something happened. To avoid a car that was swerving to avoid a big chicken as I overtook I ended up like this. Nobody was hurt thanks to Land Rover being brilliant and no oncoming traffic. I missed my ferry but went on as a foot passenger on a later one thanks to James and Tony from Dyfed Powys Police. Amazing how helpful people can be when you need them and thanks to the other drivers for staying, including Andrew who I think sadly hit the big chicken anyway.'
And, just in case you don't know what one actually looks like, dear blog reader, here is an image of a massive cock.
Speaking of which, ITV have confirmed they have 'no plans' for another series of The X Factor. Because it was shit and, by the end, no one was watching it. The last full series of Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads' pop music lack of talent show was broadcast in 2018, although a z-list celebrity edition was shown the following year. During its peak - in the late noughties - The X Factor was one of the most viewed TV shows in the UK. However, ratings have fallen dramatically in recent years. An ITV spokesman told the BBC: 'There are no current plans for the next series of The X Factor at this stage.' A report in that ever-reliable bastion of truthful and accurate reportage, the Sun, claimed the show will be 'rested' for 'at least five years.' The X Factor first shown in 2004 and judges on the show have included Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh, Cheryl Whatsherface and Nicole Scherzinger. A US version of the show ran for three seasons from 2011 to 2013 before it was cancelled due to lack of interest. In 2019, ITV signed a deal with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads to broadcast Britain's Got Toilets until at least 2024, but did not commit to keeping The X Factor past 2020. The singing competition regularly attracted an audience of more than ten million a decade ago, with more than seventeen million punters tuning in to see Matt Cardle crowned the winner of the 2010 series. But that was a long, long time ago. Ratings fell in subsequent years. In 2018, an average of 5.3 million people watched Dalton Harris crowned the winner, when the judges were Louis Tomlinson, Robbie Williams and Ayda Field (no, me neither). The show was absent in 2019, with the depressingly z-list celebrity edition taking its place and in early 2020 it was revealed that Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads was to give it another year off. Last month, it was revealed the music mogul's attentions have now turned to leading a fresh panel of judges in an upcoming new ITV musical game show, entitled Walk The Line.
A sculpture claimed to be the work of Henry Moore was not made by the renowned artist. The artwork, previously used as a water feature and a door stop, would have been worth up to a million pounds if it had been sculpted by Moore. But, it wasn't. It was assessed by the Henry Moore Foundation, based in Hertfordshire, as part of the BBC's Fake Or Fortune?. Owner Neil Betts said: 'It will go back to being a door stop again.' The piece was found in the long grass of Mergate Hall, near Norwich, when retired dairy farmer Betts was strimming it back for his neighbour. The show saw hosts Philip Mould and yer actual Fiona Bruce visit Norfolk to investigate the sculpture. Betts and his wife Barbara inherited the piece from their neighbour. When she died, she left it to the Betts who subsequently used it as a door stop and to hang a hosepipe on. It was only when a friend suggested it looked 'very much' like the work of Henry Moore they began to see it in a different light - and started to call it 'Henry.' The couple sent photographs of the sculpture to the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green, Hertfordshire. It has the authority to decide whether previously uncatalogued pieces are genuine works by Moore (1898 to 1986), who was from Castleford in Yorkshire and studied at Leeds School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London before finding international fame. They were interested enough in the sculpture to ask them to submit it to their Review Panel. But the panel concluded: 'Unfortunately the panel is agreed the work is not by Henry Moore.' Instead the Fake Or Fortune? investigation pointed in the direction of the - much less famous - Norfolk sculptor Betty Jewson, who used to live at Mergate Hall. Mould said despite it not being a Moore piece he had been 'impressed by its presence and boldness.'
Better Call Saul actor Bob Odenkirk is in 'a stable condition after experiencing a heart-related incident' on Tuesday, his management has said. The actor was rushed to hospital while filming his Breaking Bad spin-off show Better Call Saul in New Mexico. Odenkirk's son Nate also tweeted an update on his father's condition, saying: 'He's going to be okay.' The actor and his family expressed thanks for the support he has received from both medical staff and colleagues. His management added: 'He and his family would like to express gratitude for the incredible doctors and nurses looking after him, as well as his cast, crew and producers who have stayed by his side. The Odenkirks would also like to thank everyone for the outpouring of well wishes and ask for their privacy at this time as Bob works on his recovery.' Bryan Cranston had posted about his friend on Instagram, saying: 'Please take a moment in your day today to think about him and send positive thoughts and prayers his way.' Odenkirk has received four EMMY nominations for Better Call Saul, which was first broadcast in 2015 following the conclusion of Breaking Bad. Filming for Better Call Saul is currently in its sixth and final series and is due to broadcast next year on AMC. Odenkirk was also recently seen in the - utterly superb - action thriller Nobody (a particular From The North favourite), with other film credits include supporting roles in Little Women, Nebraska and The Post. He previously worked as a comedy writer for Saturday Night Live and The Ben Stiller Show.
The son of the late Eric Morecambe has said how 'fantastic' it was to find a missing episode of The Morecambe & Wise Show in the family home's attic. Dating from 1970, the tape of the show had been wiped by the BBC. Gary Morecambe said that he was 'hunting round in the attic' when he found film in a canister. 'It's a huge discovery because it was presumed missing and lost for good,' he said. Morecambe and Wise fronted over one hundred and seventy shows over a twenty two-year television career and in their 1970s heyday regularly pulled in more than twenty million punters every week, with the duo's annual Christmas shows seen as a 'must-watch' by British viewers. You knew all that, right? Whilst looking for paperwork, Morecambe's son found the unlabelled film can at the family home in Harpenden. 'I was looking through other stuff. As the decades go by we hadn't really sorted enough out and my mother said why don't you have a look in the attic,' said Gary. 'I came across five large canisters with spools in them. Four of them were blank or damaged, but the other one had a BBC stamp on it.' The film was checked by experts and the episode turned out to be their first show made for BBC1, dating from 8 October 1970 after they moved from BBC2. The Morecambe & Wise Show began on BBC2 in September 1968. It marked the duo's return to the BBC after thirteen years away, during which time they had found success at ITV with the series Two Of A Kind. Eric and Ernie became the nation's most popular double act and their show became unmissable television, culminating in the 1977 Christmas Day special, which was watched by an estimated twenty eight million viewers. Gary Morecambe, who now lives in Ernie Wise's home city of Leeds, said Eric would always watch the Christmas specials with his family. 'He would never stop laughing. He loved watching the show. And at the end he'd stand up and say "I thought Ernie was really good."' The pair returned to ITV at the end of their career in a show that ran between 1978 and 1983. Eric Morecambe died in 1984 and Ernie Wise in 1999. Gary Morecambe said the episode was one from their earliest days of working with writer Eddie Braben, who went on to script the majority of their most famous sketches. 'There is a lot in the show that will be incredibly familiar to people, showing the Eric and Ernie we came to know and love,' he said.
Laugh-a-minute wacky funster John Lydon has railed against an agreement his former Sex Pistols bandmates claim allows the band's music to be used in a forthcoming Danny Boyle TV drama. Lydon said the band agreement made in 1998 was 'like a total trap or prison,' likening it to 'slave labour.' Paul Cook and Steve Jones are extremely suing Lydon to allow their songs be used. They argue the BMA means decisions regarding licensing requests can be determined 'on a majority rules basis.' Pistol, which began filming in March, is a six-part series based on a 2016 memoir by Jones called Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol. Lydon's lawyer has argued the drama, which is being made by Disney for its FX channel, portrays the singer in 'a hostile and unflattering light.' Johnny Rotten? 'Hostile and unflattering'? Surely not? Last week Jones denied this was the case, telling the High Court the legal action was 'not about slagging anyone off in this TV series.' The estate of the late Sid Vicious has approved Sex Pistols music being used in Pistol, as has Glen Matlock, whom Vicious replaced in the band in 1977. Giving evidence in London on Wednesday, Lydon said: 'I care very much about this band and its reputation and its quality control and I will always have a say if I think anything is being done to harm or damage [it]. I don't want anything I'm involved in to victimise any one of us. It would destroy the whole point and purpose of the band and so I don't understand the BMA ... I don't remember signing it.' Lydon also told the court: 'You can't let your history be rewritten for us by a complete stranger with no interest in it. This is my life here. This is my history. I didn't write these songs [for them] to be given off to nonsense.' He added that The Sex Pistols had, until now, managed to agree how to conduct their business with 'unanimity' since their split in 1978. Lydon said the BMA had not been applied since its creation in 1998 and that 'all decisions' about the use of Sex Pistols music and imagery had been based on 'unanimous' agreement. 'I don't understand how Steve and Paul think they have the right to insist that I do something that I so morally heart-and-soul disagree with without any involvement,' he continued. 'My fear is that they're demanding that I agree to sign over the rights to a drama documentary that I am not allowed any access to. I don't think the BMA applies,' the sixty five-year-old went on to tell Jones and Cook's QC. 'I didn't ask for this court case, it was brought to me, so I will naturally defend myself. There is no point in me being here or ever was if it is the case that I can just be completely outvoted by the vested interests of all in one management camp.' Edmund Cullen QC, representing Jones and Cook, suggested to Lydon that his reference to 'slave labour' was a sign of 'how deeply you regret having signed the BMA.' The barrister also said: 'Given that you regard it as slave labour, you will do whatever it takes to try and get out of it.' Earlier this week, Cook told the court that he and the other members of the band had 'always wanted to work harmoniously,' but felt they had to take Lydon to court so the group's songs could be used in the TV drama. In his witness statement, Cook said Lydon 'can be a difficult character and always likes to feel that he has control.' Cook added that he had never used the 'majority rules agreement' before because 'I thought that our relationship with John would get worse when we used it. Maybe Steve and I have been too nice to John over the years in trying to maintain good relations and that we should have been tougher,' he said. 'I am unhappy that he would behave like this over an important personal project for Steve, particularly as we have always backed his personal projects.' In a Sunday Times interview in April, Lydon claimed that the script for the TV series had been written and an actor selected to play him without his consent and that he had been put 'in a corner like a rat.' He claimed that Boyle had made 'no attempt' to contact him about the project - a version of events disputed by the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, Yesterday, Twenty Eight Days Later and Trainspotting. Actor Anson Boon will play Lydon in Boyle's TV series, the cast of which includes Louis Partridge, Maisie Williams, Iris Law and Talulah Riley. Lydon was previously portrayed on screen by Andrew Schofield in the 1986 film Sid & Nancy, which did not feature any of Sex Pistols' songs. The singer would go to call Alex Cox's movie 'nonsense' and 'the lowest form of life' in his autobiography, accusing it of 'glamorising' heroin addiction.
This blogger had the good fortune early this week to leave the safety of the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House and visit his local cinema for the first time in what seems like forever to catch a preview showing of Edgar Wright's much-anticipated documentary The Sparks Brothers. And, not unexpectedly, quite superb it was too with this blogger coming out of the screening with a grin on his geet ugly mush as a wide as ... a very wide thing. Keith Telly Topping highly recommends this entertaining, amusing and (sort of) revealing work to all dear blog readers. He also recommends you check out Edgar, Ron and Russell's interview with Simon Mayo on a recent episode of the BBC's always superb Kermode & Mayo's Film Review. And, whilst you're there, you can also listen to Mark Kermode's glowing - and entirely justified - review of the movie, available here. Hello to Jason Isaacs. There's also a very good interview with Edgar on David Hepworth and Mark Ellen's excellent Word In Your Attic podcast about his music of choice.
The first image of Imelda Staunton portraying the Queen in the fifth series of The Crown has been released. Netflix released the picture via their Twitter account, saying it was an 'early glimpse' of the new monarch in the royal drama. Staunton takes on the role previously played by Claire Foy and Olivia Colman, as the latest series follows the royal family into the Twenty First Century. Netflix said the drama's sixth and last series will end in the early 2000s. Series five and six of The Crown are set to encompass the 1990s - a decade that saw the Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales split, the collapse of the Duke of York's marriage to Sarah Ferguson, the Windsor Castle fire and Princess Diana's death.
A Wembley steward has admitted trying to sell security wristbands and lanyards to ticketless fans for the Euro 2020(ish) final. Yusaf Amin pleaded extremely guilty to theft at Willesden Magistrates' Court. He posted screenshots on Facebook Marketplace offering two passes, two uniforms and wristbands for four thousand five hundred pounds. A second man, Dalha Mohamad pleaded not guilty to theft. He will go on trial in December. Clashes between fans and members of security occurred when hundreds of people tried to storm the ground before the historic game between England and Italy on 11 July. Amin was arrested outside a supermarket on Wembley Way near the stadium after people saw the post and called police. His post read: 'Steward pass available times two with uniform and pass and I'm outside Wembley. Anyone wans [sic] to get in I have two passes and two uniforms and wristbands for you to go in and watch the game. Looking for serious people only. Detailed brief available. Guaranteed entry or money back.' Prosecutor Edward Aydin told the court this raised security concerns, explaining that: 'You will recall the Ariana Grande concert. You can imagine the security risk of people getting their hands on passes and official jackets. People were desperate to get into that game. You saw on television, desperate people stampeding to try to get in,' he said. Amin will be sentenced at Willesden Magistrates' Court on 23 August.
English Defence League founder so-called Tommy Robinson has been ordered to pay one hundred thousand knicker in libel damages to a Syrian schoolboy. The anti-Islam activist who is, obviously, not a vile racist scumbag, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, published two Facebook videos in response to a viral clip of Jamal Hijazi being attacked. He failed to convince the High Court his claims, such as Hijazi attacking 'young English girls,' were true. Which they were not. Mr Justice Nicklin found in Hijazi's favour after a trial earlier this year. The judge also ordered Yaxley-Lennon to pay legal costs understood by the BBC to amount to about an eye-watering half-a-million wonga. Which, to be fair, was funny. Hijazi was filmed being attacked in the playground at Almondbury School in Huddersfield in October 2018. Shortly after the video of the assault went viral, Yaxley-Lennon made unsubstantiated claims in two Facebook videos that the teenager was 'not innocent and he violently attacks young English girls in his school.' In clips viewed by nearly one million people, the thirty eight-year-old also claimed Hijazi 'beat a girl black and blue' and threatened to stab another boy at his school, allegations denied by Hijazi. 'As was entirely predictable, the claimant then became the target of abuse which ultimately led to him and his family having to leave their home and the claimant to have to abandon his education. The defendant is responsible for this harm, some of the scars of which, particularly the impact on the claimant's education, are likely to last for many years, if not a lifetime.' The judge said Yaxley-Lennon's defence that the 'very serious' allegations were 'substantially true' had not been proved and that he had used language 'calculated to inflame the situation. The defendant's contribution to this media frenzy was a deliberate effort to portray the claimant as being, far from an innocent victim, but in fact a violent aggressor,' he added. At a further hearing, the judge granted an injunction against Yaxley-Lennon preventing him from repeating the allegations. The final damages and costs figures will be agreed and submitted to the High Court at forthcoming hearings to establish Yaxley-Lennon's means and assets. Yaxley-Lennon's repeated jailings down the years - including nine months for interfering with a trial of a sexual grooming gang - have, so far, failed to silence hs odious views. But, a turning of the legal screw on his finances may have a more profound effect. He made a small fortune from his provocative social media channels attacking Islam and Muslims - enough to fund a lifestyle which would be the envy of many, complete with a large country house. The cash, however, began to dry up as he was thrown off Facebook and Youtube and some of his wealthy benefactors in North American backed away. Now his social media reach is a shadow of what it once was. It's never been clear how much coin he has made over the years and, indeed, where it has all gone - and that is why this judgement is so important. Not only does it vindicate Jamal Hijazi - but it opens the door to a court examination of Yaxley-Lennon's finances in forensic detail to find out exactly how he affords to keep his activities going. Jamal Hijazi's lawyers welcomed the judgement and praised Hijazi's 'courage' in pursuing the claim. Francesca Flood, from Burlingtons Legal, said: 'Jamal and his family now wish to put this matter behind them in order that they can get on with their lives. They do, however, wish to extend their gratitude to the Great British public for their support and generosity, without which this legal action would not have been possible.' During a trial in April, Catrin Evans QC, for Hijazi, said that Yaxley-Lennon's comments led to the teenager 'facing death threats and extremist agitation.' She described Yaxley-Lennon as 'a well-known extreme-right advocate' with an 'anti-Muslim agenda' who used social media to spread his repulsive views. His videos 'turned Jamal into the aggressor and the bully into a righteous white knight,' she said. Yaxley-Lennon, who represented himself during the trial, maintained he was 'an independent journalist,' telling the court: 'The media simply had zero interest in the other side of this story, the uncomfortable truth.'
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has grovellingly apologised after saying people should no longer 'cower' from coronavirus. He made the comments in a tweet announcing he had made a 'full recovery' from Covid, a week after testing positive. Labour accused him of 'denigrating' those who followed the - government suggested - rules, while the founder of a victims' group said his comments were 'deeply insensitive.' Javid said: 'It was a poor choice of word and I sincerely apologise.' No shit? 'I was expressing gratitude that the vaccines help us fight back as a society,' he claimed. In a new tweet, the health secretary also said that he had deleted his earlier post, adding: 'Like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus and would never minimise its impact.' Cower, if you were wondering, is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as meaning to bend down or move backward with your head down because you are frightened. The tweet on Saturday said: 'Full recovery from Covid a week after testing positive. Symptoms were very mild, thanks to amazing vaccines. Please - if you haven't yet - get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus.' Nearly seventy per cent of UK adults - including this blogger - are now fully vaccinated, and eighty eight per cent have had their first jab, according to the latest figures. Every adult in the UK has now been offered a vaccine. But, amid a spike in cases caused by the Delta variant, the government has launched a series of appeals in recent weeks to encourage people who have not yet come forward to have their jab. Javid replaced Matt Hancock as health secretary last month after his predecessor resigned shortly before he was sacked and thrown into the gutter along with all the other turds. Javid tested positive for Covid on 17 July and spent the following week in self-isolation. The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group said Javid was 'right' to apologise. The group's co-founder, Jo Goodman, said that the 'flippancy and carelessness' of Javid's comment had 'caused deep hurt and further muddied the waters of the government's dangerously mixed messaging.' Shadow justice secretary David Lammy also questioned Javid's use of the word, saying: 'Don't denigrate people for trying to keep themselves and their families safe.' Lib Dem health spokeswoman Munira Wilson (no, me neither) said Javid's tweet was 'outrageous' and his 'careless words have insulted every man, woman and child who has followed the rules and stayed at home to protect others.'
A California man who had previously mocked Covid-19 vaccines on social media has died after a month-long battle with the virus. Stephen Harmon, a member of the Hillsong megachurch, had been a vocal opponent of vaccines, making a series of online jokes about not having the vaccine. 'Got ninety nine problems but a vax ain't one,' the thirty four-year-old sneered to his seven thousand Twitter followers in June. He was treated for pneumonia and Covid-19 in a hospital outside Los Angeles, where he died on Wednesday. In the days leading up to his death, Harmon documented his fight to stay alive, posting pictures of himself in his hospital bed. 'Please pray y'all, they really want to intubate me and put me on a ventilator,' he said. In his final tweet on Wednesday, Harmon said he had decided to go under intubation. Despite his struggle with the virus, Harmon still said he would reject being jabbed, saying his religious faith would protect him. But, it seemingly didn't. Prior to his death, had joked about the pandemic and vaccines, sharing memes saying he trusted the Bible over top US disease expert Doctor Anthony Fauci.
Supermarkets have warned the rising number of retail workers being forced to self-isolate is beginning to affect the availability of some products. The Co-op said it was 'running low on some products,' while Iceland said shops might have to be shut. Sainsbury's said it 'might not always' have the exact products people wanted, but downplayed fears of shortages saying the problem was 'not widespread.' Iceland also urged shoppers not to panic buy, claiming it was 'not necessary.' The Co-op said items such as soft drinks, personal care products such as deodorant and beer were worst affected. And toilet rolls, obviously. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the government was 'concerned about instances of shortages. I don't want people to get the impression that every shelf in every supermarket is bare - that is not the case but we are certainly concerned about instances of shortages, we are looking at the supply chains of critical industries and we are reviewing that situation,' he added. Supermarkets and other sectors, including hospitality and transport, have said growing numbers of staff have been affected which means they have to self-isolate for ten days. Some companies have reduced opening hours to cope with the staff shortages or shut parts of the business. Firms want people who have been doubly vaccinated or have daily tests to be able to return to work.
An Australian activewear firm has been fined five million Australian dollars for claiming - based on on evidence whatsoever - that its clothing 'eliminated' and stopped the spread of Covid. Lorna Jane had advertised that its clothing used 'a groundbreaking technology' called LJ Shield to prevent the 'transferal of all pathogens.' However, in a ruling, a judge said the company's claim was 'exploitative, predatory and potentially dangerous.' Lorna Jane said that it 'accepted' the court's ruling. Though, to be fair, it couldn't really do anything else apart from prove its claims. The company maintained that it had, itself, been 'misled' by its own supplier. 'A trusted supplier sold us a product that did not perform as promised,' alleged Lorna Jane chief executive Bill Clarkson. One or two people even believed him. Because, as excuses go, 'miss, don't cane me, I was led stray by older boys' isn't really cutting it. 'They led us to believe the technology behind LJ Shield was being sold elsewhere in Australia, the USA, China and Taiwan and that it was both anti-bacterial and anti-viral. We believed we were passing on a benefit to our customers.' The legal action was brought by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission after Lorna Jane began marketing the clothing last July during the Covid pandemic. In a judgement published on Friday, a federal court judge found that Lorna Jane 'represented to consumers that it had a reasonable scientific or technological basis' to make its claims when it had none. The court fined the company 'for making false and misleading representations to consumers and engaging in conduct liable to mislead the public.' And for being a bunch of daft planks. Probably. Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, said: 'This was dreadful conduct as it involved making serious claims regarding public health when there was no basis for them.' He added: 'The whole marketing campaign was based upon consumers' desire for greater protection against the global pandemic.' The company also admitted that its founder, Lorna Jane Clarkson, who is also its chief creative officer, 'authorised and approved' the LJ Shield activewear promotional material and 'personally made some false statements' in a press release and an Instagram video. The judge said that he had taken into account that 'the conduct emanated from a high managerial level within the company.' Clarkson, who was born in Lancashire but emigrated to Australia with her family when she was a child, started the business more than thirty years ago. Lorna Jane, which has stores across Australia, New Zealand, the US and Singapore, has been ordered by the judge to publish corrective notices. It is also not allowed to make any anti-virus claims related to its activewear clothing for three years unless it has 'a reasonable basis' to do so. Last week, the company was also fined forty thousand Australian dollars by the Therapeutic Goods Administration drug regulator for 'alleged unlawful advertising' in relation to Covid. It said: 'This kind of advertising could have detrimental consequences for the Australian community, creating a false sense of security and leading people to be less vigilant about hygiene and social distancing.'
Norwegians have been left pure-dead proper awestruck by a bright meteor that illuminated the night sky in the country's South-East. Footage shows powerful flashes of light over Norway, followed by what witnesses described as loud bangs on Sunday. Norwegian police say they received a flurry of emergency calls but there were no reports of injuries or damage. A team of experts are hunting for the meteorite, which they believe landed in a forest near to Oslo. A meteor is a space rock that burns brightly after entering Earth's atmosphere at high speed. It becomes known as a meteorite if it survives its passage to the ground. The Norwegian Meteor Network says Sunday's fireball was visible for at least five seconds after it appeared at about 1am local time. Travelling at about sixteen kilometres per second, the meteor could be seen over large parts of Southern Scandinavia, the network says. Norwegian astronomer Vegard Rekaa has told the BBC that his wife was awake at the time. She could hear 'shaking in the air' before an explosion she assumed was something heavy falling near the house. Rekaa woke up, he said, to 'fantastic' videos of the meteor, which was 'something very seldom seen' in Norway or anywhere in the world. A team of experts have been sent to the area where the meteor is suspected to have landed, he added. Initial research suggests the space rock may have hit the ground - hard - in a wooded area called Finnemarka, about forty miles West of Oslo. One group of campers reported 'a large explosion just above their heads,' Rekaa said. A female camper told him of seeing the fireball from a short distance but thinking it was her friends playing a trick on her. Analysis of the meteor suggests it could have weighed at least ten kilograms. While not astonishingly large, the meteor was special because so many people either heard or saw it, Rekaa said. His colleague at the Norwegian Meteor Network, Morten Bilet, was among the witnesses. He told Reuters news agency the meteor had probably hit our solar system's asteroid belt as it was travelling between Mars and Jupiter. Bilet described it as a 'spooky' event, rather than a dangerous one. Such meteor strikes are rare, but one did cause widespread damage and injure at least sixteen hundred people when it crashed down in Russia's Ural Mountains in 2013.
The International Space Station was destabilised after engines of a newly arrived Russian module inadvertently fired up. 'Mission control teams corrected the action and all systems are operating normally,' NASA said. This was done by activating thrusters on other modules of the ISS. An investigation is now reported to be under way. US and Russian officials stressed that the seven crew members aboard the space station were never in any danger. One or two people even believed them. The malfunction happened three hours after the Nauka module docked with the ISS on Thursday, following an eight-day flight from Earth. NASA officials said Nauka's jets started firing uncommanded 'moving the station forty five degrees out of attitude.' The Russian Zvezda segment and a Progress freighter then responded to push the station back into its correct pointing configuration. 'What we saw today was just an awesome job by the mission control flight teams,' said Joel Montalbano, NASA's ISS programme manager. 'Those guys were rock stars again and got us back in attitude control. That also shows you what a robust vehicle we have, and our ability to take these contingencies, recover from them and move on,' he told reporters. Communications with the ISS crew were lost for two periods, of four minutes and seven minutes, during the incident. However, the US agency said that the astronauts were safe. They 'really didn't feel any movement,' it added. The mishap forced NASA and Boeing to push back Friday's uncrewed test flight of Boeing's Starliner capsule, a vehicle intended to carry astronauts in the future. 'We wanted to give the ISS programme time to assess what had happened today, to determine the cause and make sure that they were really ready to support the Starliner launch,' explained Steve Stich, the manager of NASA's commercial crew programme. the earliest opportunity would be 3 August. The thirteen metre-long, twenty-tonne Nauka was earlier attached to the rear of the orbiting platform, linking up with the other major Russian segments on the station. The module should have launched in 2007, but the vessel suffered repeated slips in schedule, in part because of budget difficulties but also because engineers encountered a raft of technical problems during development. Even after it launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan a week ago, it experienced propulsion issues that required workarounds from controllers in Moscow. In the end, however, it docked with the station on the planned date. The new module will result in a significant boost in habitable volume for the ISS, raising it by seventy cubic metres. Cosmonauts will use the extra space to conduct experiments and to store cargo. They'll also use it as a rest area, and it has another toilet for crew to use on the station. In addition, the module carries with it a large robotic arm supplied by the European Space Agency. This eleven metre-long device will be able to operate all around the Russian end of the ISS. With the aid of an 'elbow' joint, it will shift position by moving hand over hand. Nauka's installation comes just as Russia has been questioning its future role in the ISS project. Moscow officials recently warned about the more-than-twenty-year age of some of their on-orbit hardware and intimated the country could pull out of the station in 2025. And Russia has shown little interest in joining the US-led lunar platform, known as The Gateway, which will be assembled later this decade.
Jackie Mason, the US comedian and actor, has died at the age of ninety three. The stand-up was ordained as a rabbi before turning to show-business in the 1950s. He was well known for his social commentary, talk show appearances and one-man shows on Broadway. Mason won numerous awards in his career, including a TONY Award and an EMMY for voicing Krusty the Clown's father on The Simpsons. Born Yacob Maza in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in June 1928, Mason and his family moved to New York when he was five. His father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather had all been rabbis and after college he was ordained and began leading congregations in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He would later tell the Chicago Tribune that a lot of non-Jewish people 'would come to the congregation just to hear the sermons' because he told so many jokes. Mason turned to comedy full-time after his father died in the late 1950s. Known for his heavy New York Jewish accent, Mason's humour was based on pun, innuendo and sometimes gloriously politically incorrect humour. 'Eighty percent of married men cheat in America. The rest cheat in Europe,' he once joked. The comedian was a registered Republican and later in life spoke out in support of now extremely former President Mister Rump. He was also staunchly pro-Israel. Mason was hospitalised two weeks ago and died at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital on Saturday. He is survived by his wife Jyll Rosenfeld and daughter Sheba.
Pink (she's a popular beat combo, yer honour) has reportedly offered to pay the fines disgracefully handed out to the Norwegian women's beach handball team, after they wore shorts like their male counterparts instead of bikini bottoms. Good for her. The team was, disgracefully, fined fifteen hundred Euros for 'improper clothing' at the European Beach Handball Championships last week. 'I'm very proud of the Norwegian female beach handball team for protesting sexist rules about their uniform,' tweeted the singer on Sunday. 'Good on ya, ladies,' she added. 'I'll be happy to pay your fines for you. Keep it up.' The Norwegian Handball Federation had announced last week that it was prepared to pay the fines, adding that what to wear when playing the sport should be 'a free choice within a standardised framework.' The European Handball Federation - who are, obviously, all utter vile sexist bastard scum - said it fined the Norway team for its choice of kit during their recent bronze medal match against Spain in Bulgaria because the players' shorts were 'not according to the athlete uniform regulations.' However, the country's minister for culture and sport, Abid Raja, described the ruling as being 'completely ridiculous.'
Pizza for Italy, Dracula for Romania and Chernobyl for Ukraine. These were the pictures and captions used by one South Korean broadcaster to depict nations at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games. MBC has since snivellingly apologised for offending viewers, after complaints the visuals were 'offensive' and 'ridiculous.' The channel claimed that it wanted to 'make it easier' for viewers to understand the entering countries quickly but said it was an 'inexcusable mistake.' At a press conference on Monday, the channel's CEO Park Sung-jae apologised, saying MBC had 'damaged the Olympic values of friendship, solidarity and harmony. I bow my head and deeply apologise,' he said, adding that MBC would be putting 'in all [their] effort to prevent another accident from happening.' A Twitter thread by freelance journalist Raphael Rashid drew wide attention to the 'unique' descriptions where even civil unrest was not off the cards. When Haiti's athletes walked on to the stadium, for instance, an on-screen caption described the country as one 'with an unstable political situation due to the assassination of the president.' And, when the Syrian team entered, a caption read: 'A civil war that has been going on for ten years.' Neither of which are technically incorrect but, you know, here's a time and place for that sort of thing, guys. 'Did they literally just pick whatever the first picture was that popped up on Google when they did an image search for the country?' one person asked on Twitter. Others started trying to guess what images would be used for different countries. Some - like a piece of salmon for Norway - would have been easy enough to figure out. Others like Chad which was described as 'the dark heart of Africa' could not have been. MBC has been in trouble for this very same offence before. It was fined after using similar captions and images at the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It had then referred to Zimbabwe 'as a country with deadly inflation.'
And finally, dear blog reader, this blogger trusts you've all been watching and enjoying the much-delayed Tokyo Olympics which has been jolly entertaining thus far despite the weird cirumstances. And also, appreciating the performances of Great Britain's young men and women in their various sporting endeavours. Which - with a few notable, shamefully inept, exceptions - have been broadly adequate. Mostly.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Oftentimes Excusing Of A Fault Doth Make The Fault The Worse By The Excuse

Someone once, wisely, noted 'blogging isn't writing, it's graffiti with punctuation.' Welcome, you are, therefore dear blog reader, to another weekly batch of yer actual physical graffiti. And we begin, with this: The Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House remains, sadly, as it has been since mid-June, a Facebook-free-zone - in a saga which is now taking on quasi-Shakespearean tragic proportions. Due, in no small part to the seeming impossibility of contacting anyone at Facebook who actually wishes to engage with one of their - currently, extremely dissatisfied - customers. This blogger has received absolutely no help or support from Facebook's alleged 'Help and Support' department each time he has tried to initiate contact with them. Nor, indeed, has he received anything even resembling help or support from anyone else. Which is useful information to future reference since it is at times like these that one tends to find out who ones real beast fiends actually are. This blogger, it would appear, hasn't got any! Which, as previously noted, is useful knowledge going forward. Thus ...
From that, dear blog reader, to this week's really big news. From The North favourite Gillian Anderson has revealed that she has stopped wearing a bra and has no plans to return to using one. Speaking in an Instagram Live Q&A to her 1.8 million followers on Monday, From The North favourite Gill explained how she had become 'so lazy. I don't wear a bra any more,' she declared from her living room in Atlanta. 'I can't. I'm sorry, I don't care if my breasts reach my belly button. I'm not wearing a bra any more. It's just too fucking uncomfortable.' The revelation that Gill has decided to let them both swing free has 'sparked widespread praise' on Twitter, apparently, with a clip of Gill speaking of her new liberated ways garnering more than one hundred and twenty four thousand views and many supportive comments from women claiming that they too had stopped wearing a bra. One commentor said: 'If two-time Golden Globe and EMMY winning actress Gillian Anderson says no more bras, who are we to disagree?' Well, indeed. This blogger, for instance, stopped wearing his some considerable time ago. The Free The Nipple campaign - for such malarkey does, indeed, exist - has been 'gaining traction' on social media for some years, apparently, but liberation from bras reached new heights during lockdown when many women working from home prioritised comfort when it came to their clothing choices in relation to dangling wally jumblats. Another feature of the Q&A was Gillian's dog, Stella, whom she purchased in December of last year. The actress poked fun at the interest surrounding her then-recent break-up with The Crown creator Peter Morgan by introducing her new puppy as her 'girlfriend' on Twitter. 'Meet my new gf Stella [sic],' Gillian tweeted alongside a photograph of herself cuddling the chocolate brown puppy whilst reclining on a sofa. Braless. Both of them. Gillian spoke about what it was like to work with her then-partner in an interview with Harper's Bazaar. Recalling being on set in full costume, she said: 'I smiled at [Morgan], as me, Gillian, smiling at her boyfriend and he said, "This is Thatcher! This smile is Thatcher!" And I'm like, "no! This smile is me!"'
Okay, dear blog reader, hands up whom amongst you spotted Indiana Jones and Ethan Hunt hanging out in the pit lanes at Silverstone on Sunday? Clearly the current filming of IJ5 and M:I7 are going so fantastically well, their respective stars were allowed a day off to go swanning around the British Grand Prix like a pair of celebrities.
Lewis Hamilton for once wasn't being tripped up by his own lip as he fought back from a ten-second penalty after a crash with title rival Max Verstappen to pass Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and claim a dramatic British Grand Prix victory. Hamilton was blamed for a collision with Verstappen's Red Bull at Copse Corner on the first lap, which led to the Dutchman crashing out of the race. Verstappen was taken to hospital for precautionary tests after the accident whilst Hamilton set about trying to win the race. The Grand Prix was stopped after the incident with Leclerc in the lead from Hamilton and the Ferrari driver held that position until two laps from the end, when the Mercedes driver passed him, ironically, at the same corner at which he had crashed with Verstappen. The controversial win, in front of a crowd of one hundred and forty thousand, was Hamilton's eighth in the British Grand Prix and cuts Verstappen's championship lead to eight points. 'It's overwhelming. It's was such a physically difficult race, great weather,' said Hamilton. Of his crash with Verstappen, he added: 'I just try and stay measured in my approach - particularly with Max, he's very aggressive. And then today, I was fully alongside him and he didn't give me the space. But regardless of whether I agree with the penalty, I take it on the chin and I just kept working. I wasn't going to let anything get in the way.' Verstappen later responded to Hamilton's celebrations on the podium, calling him 'disrespectful' and 'unsportsmanlike' in exactly the sort of whinging manner that one usually associated with Hamilton when he's just lost to Verstappen. He added on Twitter: 'The penalty given does not help us and doesn't do justice to the dangerous move Lewis made on track.' The moment many had considered to be inevitable at some point in this battle between Verstappen and Hamilton happened after an intense scrap between the title rivals on the first lap. Hamilton, starting second on the grid after Verstappen's victory in F1's maiden 'sprint' race on Saturday, got away better and was alongside the Red Bull driver into the first corner, but Verstappen held him off. Hamilton nosed ahead into the Brooklands corner at the end of the Wellington straight, but was again held off. Heading down into the one hundred and ninety miles per hour Copse Corner, he dummied Verstappen, feinting to the outside and then diving for the inside. And that was where it all kicked-off, big-style. Hamilton had more than half his car alongside Verstappen as they began to turn in, but backed off slightly as he saw the Dutchman was going to sit it out around the outside - and the Red Bull edged back ahead. Hamilton was a little wide of the apex and his front left wheel made contact with Verstappen's right rear around the corner and the impact sent Verstappen flying into the barriers on the outside. He climbed out of the car and was walking around before being taken to the circuit medical centre for mandatory checks after such a heavy impact and complaining of dizziness. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the impact measured Fifty One G and Verstappen was taken to a local hospital for 'further precautionary tests.' He then went on to whinge like a big whinging whinger on live telly about the manifest unfairness of Hamilton not being banned. For life. Probably. In their written reasons for handing down the sanction to Hamilton, the race stewards said the Mercedes driver had 'room available to the inside' of the corner and 'did not avoid contact' when Verstappen turned in, and concluded that Hamilton was 'predominantly at fault.' Leclerc, who had passed Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas off the line, took the lead out of Copse in the aftermath of the incident and began the re-started race from pole position. The Ferrari showed strong pace in the first stint and Hamilton was not able to challenge Leclerc, who was two seconds ahead when Hamilton made his pit stop to serve his penalty and change tyres on lap twenty seven, dropping behind Bottas and McLaren's Lando Norris. Hamilton passed Norris on lap thirty one into Copse and then closed on Bottas, who was ordered to let Hamilton by on lap forty. The seven-time world champion then had twelve laps to close an eight-second gap to Leclerc and pass the Monegasque for the lead. On the basis of Leclerc's pace earlier, it looked a tall order, but Hamilton was soon going a second a lap quicker than Leclerc and he was on the Ferrari's tail with three to go. He went for the inside at Copse in a very similar move to the one that led to the Verstappen incident. But Hamilton was more cautious, backing off a little more and then Leclerc ran wide on the exit of the corner allowing Hamilton to sweep by and extend his record of British Grand Prix wins to eight. Reacting to the win, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said over the team radio: 'Lewis we never give up! We never give up! This is still on!' Leclerc was second after a superb drive by the Ferrari man, but saying he was 'so disappointed' to come close without victory, despite scoring his first podium finish of the year. Bottas took third ahead of Norris. McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo benefited from a pit-stop problem for Ferrari's Carlos Sainz to take fifth, holding off the faster Spaniard to the flag. Fernando Alonso drove an excellent defensive race to finish seventh, the starting position he earned with a brilliant drive in the sprint race, in which he passed six cars on the first lap in his Alpine. Alonso held off Aston Martin's Lance Stroll for most of the race and the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon took ninth ahead of Alpha Tauri's Yuki Tsunoda.
Mark Cavendish's bid to set a new record of thirty five stage wins in the Tour De France was denied - as Wout van Aert won the final stage of the 2021 Tour. Cavendish struggled to find space and could not come past Van Aert in the final few metres of the bunch sprint on Paris' Champs-Elysees. But the thirty six-year-old had already won four stages this year to equal the Tour record of thirty four set by the great Eddy Merckx. Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar of UAE-Team Emirates won the overall yellow jersey. Cavendish may have missed out on the chance to take sole ownership of the stage wins record, but to have drawn equal with Belgian legend Merckx is an astonishing achievement, given he had struggled for form for several seasons and feared last year his career was over. He was only called up by Deceuninck Quick-Step as a late replacement for injured Irish sprinter Sam Bennett. But, a full five years after his previous Tour stage win, his sprinting dominance earned him his second Tour De France green jersey, awarded to the winner of the points classification. Cavendish was never supposed to be at this Tour. It is only nine months since he proclaimed, through tears, the likely end of his career following a difficult one-day race last year. He has battled the Epstein-Barr virus, several heavy crashes and depression, all since his last victory at the Tour five years ago for Dimension Data. Back then he won four stages early in the race in what was seen as a swansong. After signing a surprise one-year deal with Belgian one-day and sprinting specialists Deceuninck-Quick Step, the team were firm on Cavendish not being part of their Tour plans. But a long-term injury to their young Dutch talent Fabio Jakobsen - who suffered serious head injuries in a horror crash at the 2020 Tour of Poland - and a last-minute knee injury for last year's green jersey winner Bennett left the team and its characterful owner Patrick Lefevere with few options. In many ways, Lefereve and Cavendish are kindred spirits - outspoken and passionate about their craft. But Cavendish is also fiercely loyal, especially to his team. He speaks of Danish rider Michael Morkov as 'the anti-me' because of his unflustered, calm demeanour. And also of the class of team-mates at Quick-Step who have led him out for his sprint victories. Cavendish said last week he has 'no real sentiment either way' about the record - will he back next year to try to extend it? Pogacar has dominated this Tour. Unchallenged in the mountains, he blew away the rest in the first time trial on stage five. The twenty two-year-old did not once look troubled by the pace of the race, or his rivals. This is the polar opposite from last year, when he overhauled countryman Primoz Roglic of Jumbo-Visma on the penultimate stage's time trial to win by more than a minute after Roglic had dominated up to that point. But the demeanour of Pogacar has changed this time around - from a young, respectful rider disbelieving of his own achievements, to one who is happy to make a point of rivals' kidology on the climbs, by aggressively punching the air and pointedly smiling in his rivals' direction, in the same way other legendary riders did in their pomp. Pogacar may have been unmatched, but the fact the French police have been involved twice tells you this Tour has been an eventful one. Day one saw a terrible crash: a stupid woman holding a cardboard sign giving a shoutout to her grandparents caused several horrible injuries and abandonments after she stood in the road with her back to the oncoming peloton to ensure prime TV exposure. Organisers ASO announced they would begin legal proceedings against her and she was subsequently arrested by police, although both later dropped any action, with the organisers hoping that 'lessons will be learned' in future. Some hope. Four-time winner Chris Froome suffered a bad crash on the same stage, struggling to walk as he was helped back to his feet - a worrying sight given his two years of recovery from a near career-ending crash in 2019. He was already resigned to not being competitive at this year's race, despite a multi-million pound deal with Israel Start Up Nation, but it was encouraging to see him at least finish such a punishing three-week Tour. The race was also marred by several of Pogacar's rivals crashing, leading to the abandonment of Jumbo-Visma's Primoz Roglic and Geraint Thomas riding with a shoulder dislocation sustained on stage three. Off the bike, Team Bahrain-Victorious' hotel was raided by The Fuzz late in the race following allegations over doping. For a rider so young, and so good in the mountains, it is not surprising to see Pogacar claim the polka dot king of the mountains jersey and the white young rider's jersey. The only remaining one - the green points jersey - went to Cavendish for his stage wins and intermediate efforts. Although richly deserved, it is worth noting many of his rivals abandoned the race through injury, such as Lotto-Soudal's Caleb Ewan and Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan. Other sprint favourites, such as France's Arnaud Demare of Groupama-FDJ and Nacer Bouhanni of Arkea-Samsic, were eliminated after missing the time limit on mountain stages.
England's spinners squeezed Pakistan till their pips squeaked to claim an emphatic forty five-run victory in the second Twenty20 and level the series at one-one on Sunday. Although Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone - who twice hit sixes out of Headingley - all sparkled with the bat, England failed to post a total that would have put Pakistan out of the game. From one thirty seven for three in the fourteenth over and one sixty four for five in the sixteenth, England lost their last five wickets for thirty six runs to be bowled out for two hundred. However, England's trio of spinners, led by Adil Rashid, superbly exploited a pitch that rapidly deteriorated. Rashid claimed two for thirty, fellow leg-spinner Matt Parkinson one for twenty five and off-spinner Moeen two for thirty two as Pakistan lurched to one hundred and fifty five for nine in their twenty overs. The series decider is at Old Trafford on Tuesday. After the thrilling entertainment of Pakistan's thirty one-run win in the series opener, this was another thoroughly enjoyable contest, played in front of a full house on a baking hot day in Leeds. England stuck with their plan of experimenting with October's World Cup in mind. Captain Eoin Morgan was rested, Jonny Bairstow shifted down the order to number six and Moeen's off-spin employed after he did not bowl at all on Friday. With the World Cup set to be played in the United Arab Emirates and Oman, most encouraging will be the combined performance of leg-spinners Rashid and Parkinson, who lined up in the same England team for the first time. The hosts' total looked no more than par, only for Rashid and Parkinson to stifle Pakistan on a pitch that became increasingly responsive to the slow bowlers. Fresh from his dazzling forty two-ball century on Friday, Lancashire's Livingstone was again striking the ball with awesome power. Buttler, captaining in his first match for a month because of a calf injury, added the early impetus with his fifty nine from thirty nine balls, putting on sixty seven with Moeen, who crashed thirty six from sixteen. But it was Livingstone, himself sharing fifty two with Buttler, who provided the stand-out moments. A first straight six out of the ground, off spinner Imad Wasim, was handsome, but a second, off the pace of Haris Rauf that went over the new stand and onto the rugby ground, was a massive hit. Livingstone was run out for thirty eight from twenty three balls when he failed to respond to Tom Curran's suicidal call, a signal for England to lose momentum against a Pakistan side that held their length with the ball and caught well in the field. Still, England have not lost a T20 when they have posted two hundred batting first, a record that never looked in danger. In hindsight, the way the pitch behaved suggested Pakistan made a mistake in fielding first after winning the toss, but that should take nothing away from the way England bowled. Although captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan reprised their stellar opening partnership from Friday by adding fifty in the powerplay, after Saqib Mahmood had Babar miscue to extra cover the spinners took over. Rashid bowls with a fizzing pace and possesses a dangerous googly. Parkinson is much slower, using his flight and guile. At one stage they bowled five overs in tandem that cost only twenty eight runs and brought two wickets - both to Rashid, one a superb caught and bowled to remove Rizwan. The life had been sucked from the chase. Moeen followed up with two wickets in an over, while Parkinson finally got his reward from the last ball of his spell when Azam Khan was stumped. In all, England sent down eleven overs of spin, the most they have bowled in a T20, before seamer Mahmood nipped in at the death to pick up two further wickets and end with three for thirty three.
The Crown and The Mandalorian lead the charge for this year's EMMY Awards, with twenty four nominations apiece. Netflix's The Crown garnered acting nominations for Olivia Colman, Josh O'Connor and Emma Corrin. It is also up for best drama series, while Disney's The Mandalorian is recognised in the same category. Michaela Coel's critically acclaimed I May Destroy You - a big hit with us here on there From The North 2020 Best Of list - is nominated in the competitive limited series category. The BBC/HBO drama which charts the fallout of a sexual assault will be up against Mare Of Easttown (HBO), The Queen's Gambit (Netflix), Barry Jenkins' Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime) and WandaVision (Disney+). Possible British contenders including Steve McQueen's Small Axe series and Russell Davies's It's A Sin missed out in a tight category which only admits five nominations - whereas comedy and drama have eight each. Coel is also up for best actress in a limited series/movie. The Brits dominate that category, with Kate Winslet and Cynthia Erivo also in the running - their competition is Anya Taylor-Joy and Elizabeth Olsen's superhero turn in Marvel's WandaVision. The Crown and The Handmaid's Tale rule the supporting actress in a drama nominations, with From The North favourite Gillian Anderson, Helena Bonham Carter and Emerald Fennell all recognised for their roles in The Crown. British men are also in a strong position for best actor in a limited series/movie, with hopes resting on Paul Bettany (WandaVision), Ewan McGregor (Halston) and Hugh Grant (The Undoing). They'll be up against Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom Junior - a film of the musical that was supposed to be released in cinemas but changed tack due to the pandemic. In the best supporting actor in a drama series, there are three nominations for The Handmaid's Tale for From The North favourite Bradley Whitford, Max Minghella and OT Fagbenle. Tobias Menzies is also in the mix for his role as the Duke of Edinburgh in The Crown. Star Wars spin-off show The Mandalorian was mainly recognised in the technical categories. Best drama nominees alongside The Crown and The Mandalorian are The Boys, Bridgerton, The Handmaid's Tale, Lovecraft Country, Pose and This Is Us. Horror series Lovecraft Country also earned recognition for its stars Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors in the best actress/actor in a drama, despite HBO cancelling the show after just one season. Other lead actress nominees in the former category alongside The Crown's Colman and Corrin and Smollett are Uzo Aduba (The Treatment), From The North favourite Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid's Tale) and Pose's MJ Rodriguez, who becomes the first trans woman to be nominated for a major acting EMMY. Bridgerton's popular star Regé-Jean Page - who won't be returning for series two - is up for best lead actor in a drama, as is Sterling K Brown (This Is Us), Billy Porter (Pose) and Matthew Rhys (Perry Mason). Black-ish, Cobra Kai, Emily In Paris, Hacks, The Flight Attendant, Pen15, Ted Lasso and The Kominsky Method are nominated for outstanding comedy series. Jason Sudeikis is up for best comedy actor for his turn as the titular Ted Lasso, a US American football coach employed to be a football manager in the England. Wins for Ted Lasso would mark a breakthrough for Apple TV - Netflix has never won a series award at the EMMYs either. Sudeikis is joined by Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method), William H Macy (Shameless), Anthony Anderson (Black-ish) and Kenan Thompson for Kenan. Ted Lasso and Saturday Night Live dominate both the supporting actor and actress categories for comedy series, with Kenan Thompson, also nominated as leading actor in a comedy series in his self-titled show, recognised here too for SNL. Lead actress in a comedy nominees are Aidy Bryant for Shrill, Kaley Cuoco for The Flight Attendant, From The North favourite Allison Janey for Mom, Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) and Jean Smart for Hacks. Smart also gets a second nomination in the best supporting actress in a drama category for Mare Of Easttown. The ceremony takes place on 19 September. Cedric the Entertainer, who stars in the Eye Network comedy The Neighbourhood, will host an awards show with a limited in-person attendance due to the pandemic. Previous multiple winners have included Succession, Game Of Thrones, Veep and Fleabag. The EMMYs are voted for by more than twenty five thousand members of the USA's Television Academy, which represents those in front and behind the small screen.
A legal battle between former members of The Sex Pistols - a popular beat combo of the 1970s, you might've heard of them - has begun in the High Court in London. Guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook are suing yer actual John Lydon to allow the use of their songs in a new Danny Boyle-directed TV series, Pistol. The show, which is being made by Disney, is based on Jones's memoirs. But Lydon has got all stroppy and discombobulated (how unusual for Our John) and said that he is not prepared to approve the necessary licences for the band's music unless ordered to by a court. Hence, they're all up a'fore the beak. The six-part show, based on Jones's Lonely Boy: Tales From A Sex Pistol, has reignited longstanding feuds among the surviving members of the band. On Thursday, Mark Cunningham QC, representing Lydon, said in written arguments that his client believes the book 'depicts him in a hostile and unflattering light.' Edmund Cullen, the lawyer representing Jones and Cook, called the relationship between the former bandmates 'bitter and fractious', noting how there had been failed attempts to resolve their differences. Cullen said that under the terms of a band agreement made in 1998, decisions regarding licensing requests could be determined on 'a majority rules basis.' He said Lydon was the only member of the band who was preventing the songs from being used by Oscar-winning director Boyle. Former bassist Glen Matlock and the estate of the late Sid Vicious both support the licensing, he noted. In a Sunday Times interview in April, Lydon said the script has been written and an actor selected to play him without his participation or consent and that he had been put 'in a corner like a rat.'
There is a splendid piece by Vice News's Cameron Joseph on the reporters who survived the January insurrection and are still covering Congress but are also still suffering from something akin to post traumatic stress disorder which this blogger wishes to draw your attention to, dear blog reader. You can find it here and it's well worth a few moments of your time.
It is going to be 'a difficult summer' with Covid cases in the UK possibly reaching two hundred thousand a day, the scientist whose modelling led to the first nationwide restrictions has suggested. Professor Neil Ferguson said there could be as many as two thousand hospital admissions per day, which would cause 'major disruption' to the NHS. England and Scotland are set to ease restrictions more or less as this blogger is writing this bloggerisationisms update. The UK recorded more than fifty thousand cases on both Friday and Saturday. The last time case numbers were that high was in mid-January. Professor Ferguson, who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, told the BBC's The Andrew Marr Show it was 'almost certain' that the UK would reach one hundred thousand cases and one thousand hospital admissions per day as almost all legal restrictions on social contact end in England and school holidays begin. He said maintaining that level could be described as a success. 'The real question is do we get to double that, or even higher?' he said, though adding that it was 'much less certain' to predict. He said a further five hundred thousand people could get long Covid. Professor Ferguson said that the 'best projections' were that the peak of this wave could occur between August and mid-September and it would 'take around three weeks' to know the impact of relaxing restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described England's approach to easing lockdown as 'cautious but irreversible.' Asked whether restrictions could be reintroduced, Professor Ferguson said there may be 'a need to slow the spread to some extent' if hospital admissions were to reach two or three thousand per day. 'It's going to be a difficult summer for many reasons. I think case numbers are likely to be declining at least by late September, even in the the worst-case scenario,' he said. 'Going into the the winter, I think we will have quite quite a high degree of immunity against Covid, the real concerns are a resurgence of influenza, because we haven't had any influenza for eighteen months.' He added that flu 'could be, frankly, almost as damaging both for health and the health system, by December or January, as Covid has been this year.' Earlier, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said there would be 'some quite challenging weeks ahead.' Social distancing rules will end in England on Monday, although government guidelines advise face coverings should still be worn in enclosed spaces such as in shops and on public transport. 'We will all need to exercise good judgement,' Jenrick told Sky News. And then announced that he would be taking part in the next series of Mastermind with his specialist subject being Stating The Bleedin' Obvious. Scotland will move to level zero of Covid restrictions this week, meaning pubs and restaurants can open until midnight. However, limits on outdoor meetings will remain, the return of workers to offices will be delayed and face coverings will still be mandatory. Most Covid rules in Wales are set to be scrapped from 7 August, but face coverings will still be required in most public places and on public transport. In Northern Ireland, restrictions will be eased further on 26 July, if approved at a review on 22 July.
Ministers decided to ditch mandatory face masks after being warned the UK economy would lose billions of pounds if people were made to wear them after 19 July according to i - if not a real newspaper. Modelling from reviews of social distancing and mass gatherings revealed public dislike for wearing face coverings at sporting, music and arts events. Keeping compulsory face masks could cost the events and hospitality industries more than four billion knicker in lost revenues, the analysis suggested. An alleged - but anonymous and, therefore, almost certainly fictitious - Whitehall 'source' allegedly told the i that the research was 'compelling' and 'the driving force' behind the decision to scrap mandatory face masks when all restrictions are lifted in England. This was despite warnings by scientists from The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies that the Government should keep 'baseline measures# in place. It suggests that ministers are now 'following the economy' rather than 'the science' as the country grapples with an exit wave from the pandemic, the newspaper claims. Probably correctly. The public dislike for face masks in recreational settings such as football matches and live concerts is in contrast to broad support for coverings on public transport, which is regarded as a necessary inconvenience, the alleged source allegedly said.
And finally for this latest, brief, From The North bloggerisationisms update, dear blog reader something properly amusing. That Awful Hopkins Woman has been sent home from Australia for bragging about flouting the country's quarantine rules. Although in one regard this is a shame as she is, obviously, being sent back here. Couldn't you have just kept her, Australia, we really don't want her? She's horrible and nobody likes her. That Awful Hopkins Woman - who has often drawn anger for hideous bigoted and idiotic remarks on a whole range of subjects - had entered the country to appear in the reality TV show Big Brother Australia. On Friday, she posted a video from her Sydney hotel room where she sneered about putting frontline staff at risk. Her comments, of course, sparked widespread anger. In the video, That Awful Hopkins Woman said that she planned to 'lie in wait' for workers to deliver food to her room so she could open the door 'naked with no face mask.' She also called lockdowns the 'greatest hoax in human history.' Australia's two biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are both currently in lockdown after local cases of Covid-19 were detected. The post has since disappeared from her Instagram account. On Monday, the Australian government confirmed that it had cancelled That Awful Hopkins Woman's visa, after the TV programme sacked her sorry ass. Police said she had been fined one thousand Australian dollars for not wearing a face mask and was 'escorted' to the airport (for which read 'shoved in the back of a meat wagon and driven there at high speed') to be sent back to the UK. Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews called That Awful Hopkins Woman's comments 'appalling' and a 'slap in the face' for Australians in lockdown. 'Personally, I'm very pleased she'll be leaving,' she told broadcaster ABC. That Awful Hopkins Woman has not commented on her deportation, but on Sunday claimed - unconvicingly - that she had been 'joking' in the video. That Awful Hopkins Woman was extremely banned from Twitter last year for breaching its policy on 'hateful conduct.' Andrews said that the decision to allow That Awful Hopkins Woman to enter the country had been made by the New South Wales state government 'on the basis of potential benefit to the economy.' Or, in other words' nowt to do we me, mate.' But opponents accused the national government of 'allowing a far-right troll into Australia.' That Awful Hopkins Woman was also detained in South Africa in 2018 for 'spreading racial hate.' 'The decision is particularly painful for the thirty five thousand Australians who remain stranded overseas,' said Labour MP Andrew Giles. Australia closed its borders in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, preventing many citizens outside the country from returning. The policy has prolonged family separations. But dozens of celebrities, sports stars and others with exemptions have been able to bypass the rule.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

"You're Only Supposed To Blow The Bloody Doors Off!"

Sunday saw the final of the socher-ball Euro 2020(ish) competition played at yer actual Wembley Stadium. If you missed it, we lost. Next ...
During the 1980s, in the middle of an Ashes series in which the Australian team were doing especially badly for once, the popular Australian comedian and actor Paul Hogan was appearing on a British chat show. He noted, with some amusement that the English press (particularly the tabloid end) seemed to actually enjoy English sporting defeat far more than English sporting victory, noting that if England were winning at football, cricket or rugby 'there'll be two pages of coverage, if they're losing, there'll be eight pages!' He contrasted this with the ways of the Australian popular press whom, he noted, seemed to have a much more positive spin on things. 'They basically ignore it,' he noted. 'So, they'll say, "in the test match, Australia lost. Meanwhile, in the tennis ..."' Therefore, moving swiftly on from Sunday's bitter penalty-related disappointment (how hard can it be to score from twelve yards?!), England's cricket team pulled off another impressive victory over Pakistan by fifty two runs in the second one-day international at Lord's on Saturday to clinch the three-match series with a game to spare. 
     After rain reduced the contest to forty seven overs per side, England recovered from one hundred and sixty for seven to two hundred and forty seven all out in just over forty five overs. The hosts were unchanged from an eleven that included five debutants in the first ODI two days previously after a Covid-19 outbreak had forced the quarantine of England's entire first-choice white ball squad. England then grabbed the initiative of an entertaining game by reducing Pakistan to eighty six for five with a fine new-ball spell. Fast bowler Saqib Mahmood stood out again, dismissing captain Babar Azam LBW for nineteen and Mohammad Rizwan caught behind for five, while Lewis Gregory removed opener Imam-ul-Haq with his first ball - the seventh delivery of the innings. Saud Shakeel kept the tourists in the game with fifty six from seventy seven balls, while Hassan Ali took twenty two runs from one Matt Parkinson over - including three massive sixes - to energise the vocal Pakistan supporters. But Shakeel holed out to deep square-leg off Parkinson and Gregory claimed the final wicket in the following over, Pakistan dismissed for one hundred and ninety five with thirty six balls remaining and there wasn't quite so much noise or chest beating from the green and whites. Indeed, the crowd went home. All-rounder Gregory, who took three for forty four, earlier scored forty in a crucial eighth-wicket stand of sixty nine with Brydon Carse. England had lost five wickets for forty two runs, seamer Hassan ripping through the middle order en route to figures of five for fifty one, after opener Phil Salt hit an aggressive sixty from fifty four balls and James Vince scored fifty six from fifty two. It resulted in another impressive win for this inexperienced England side, who lead the series two-nil going into the final match in Edgbaston on Tuesday. Forced to play the series without Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Johnny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood et al due to a covid outbreak amongst the squad following the recent series against Sri Lanka, it will have done England much good to realise their impressive strength-in-depth in the shorter formats of the game. This was also the first cricket match in England to be allowed a capacity crowd since the start of the pandemic, althseries without ough the attendance was twenty two thousand seven hundred and four - around three-quarters full. This England success was almost as impressive as the nine-wicket win in Cardiff, given it was a more all-round performance and at times they were put under significant pressure. Asked to bat in damp conditions, Dawid Malan nicked to slip and Zak Crawley was brilliantly bowled by a Shaheen Afridi yorker, both for ducks, but Salt and Vince counter-attacked with a stand of ninety seven from eighty balls. Salt and Vince were bowled by the spin of Shakeel and Shadab Khan respectively and when captain Ben Stokes had his off stump removed by Hassan for twenty two, before John Simpson and Craig Overton quickly followed, England appeared to be in serious trouble. But they responded well. Carse and Gregory had relatively quiet debuts in Cardiff but the pair showed maturity in rotating the strike while still scoring at a decent rate and punishing any bad balls. Without their stand - the highest for the eighth wicket in an ODI at Lord's - England would likely have been well short of a winnable total. Their influence continued in the second innings when Gregory took the first wicket - Imam caught by wicketkeeper Simpson - and the last - Haris Rauf taken down the leg side. Carse ended Hassan's onslaught of thirty one from seventeen balls by having him caught at fine leg for his first international wicket and Simpson, another in his second ODI, caught the eye with a brilliant take off Parkinson. He anticipated a sweep from Faheem Ashraf and caught the left-hander off the face of the bat down the leg side. The fact the result was not completely certain even with Pakistan nine men down showed England's total was not insurmountable. Instead the loss of early wickets cost Pakistan again, as it did in Cardiff. Babar, the number one ranked ODI batter in the world, showed a flash of his brilliance in hitting three boundaries in one over including a perfect on-drive, but he was removed by a good ball from Mahmood, which nipped in and would have hit the top of middle. In contrast, opener Fakhar Zaman made a tortured ten from forty five balls before being bowled by Overton to the relief of pretty much everyone. Pakistan's bowling was improved, with Hassan the standout performer, though Rauf and Ashraf allowed Salt and Vince too many loose balls. Ben Stokes noted after the game: 'The really pleasing thing about that is the inexperienced players coming in and still continuing that mindset that we've produced over the last four or five years. The performance was fantastic.'
Mark Cavendish made history in the Tour De France as he equalled Belgian great Eddy Merckx's record of thirty four stage wins on Friday. The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider won the sprint into Carcassonne by a few inches ahead of team-mate Michael Morkov. 'It's what I dreamed of as a kid. I've worked so hard for it,' said Cavendish. Tadej Pogacar of UAE-Team Emirates remains in the leader's yellow jersey on a day that will be remembered for Cavendish's exploits, thirteen years on from his first win at the Tour. An emotional and physically drained Cavendish embraced each of his team-mates at the finish and cried out 'we've made history' as he hugged Davide Ballerini. Cavendish added: 'I'm so dead - two hundred and twenty kilometres in that heat, in that wind. I went so deep there - the boys were incredible. I can't believe it. For a lot of the day it didn't feel like it was going to happen. I was so on the limit. You saw that at the end [which was] slightly uphill. It is just like my first [win on the Tour]. It was what I dreamed of as a kid and it is what I dream of now. I have worked so hard for it.' If Cavendish can survive the mountain stages in the Pyrenees to come, he could yet eclipse the mark that Merckx, a five-time overall winner of the Tour, set in 1975. The Manx rider should have two more opportunities to take the record outright, first on stage nineteen into Libourne and then on the final day of the race on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, where he has previously won a record four times. The two hunred and nineteen kilometre stage from Nimes was tagged as a day for a breakaway but Deceuninck-Quick-Step largely maintained control of the peloton with Ballerini and Morkov, arguably the world's best lead-out rider, coming to the fore late on. '[Cavendish] knew I was picking the right moment,' said Danish rider Morkov. 'He had a beautiful victory. It is only the second race I have done with him. The experience he has is extraordinary. We went into this Tour thinking, "if we could bring him to one stage victory it would be more than amazing'. Now he has taken four. He told me a couple of years ago that he needed just one Tour De France to tie to the record. Maybe he will beat it.' Simon Yates of Team Bike Exchange was forced to abandon the race following a crash in which several riders fell down a ravine.
Almost twenty four viewers watched England's historic Euro 2020(ish) victory against Denmark on Wednesday on ITV. According to overnight figures, the semi-final at Wembley brought an average audience of 23.86 million. The last five minutes of the match drew a peak audience of 25.71 million - almost five million more than the peak audience recorded during the previous Saturday's match against Ukraine. The game was the most watched non-news event since Croatia knocked England out of the 2018 World Cup at the semi-final stage. That match was watched by 24.3 million in July 2018. England's four-nil win over Ukraine attracted a peak TV audience of 20.9 million, making it the most-watched live TV event of the year up to that point. The most watched event of recent years remains the Prime Minister's May 2020 coronavirus announcement, which was seen by 27.49 million viewers across six different channels.
Meanwhile, a TV audience of a fraction under thirty one million punters watched the tense closing minutes of the Euro 2020(ish) final, overnight figures show. Ratings peaked during Sunday's calamitou penalty shootout between England and Italy at Wembley, which was broadcast on both the BBC and ITV. An average of 29.85 million watched the whole match live. Te combined figure makes it the highest TV audience since the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. Whilst England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saved two of the Azzurri's spot kicks in what was, very much, a game of two halves, Marcus Rashford hit the post with his spot-kick before Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka had theirs saved to hand Italy a, in the end, well deserved victory. 'You can cut ratings in so many different ways and audience measurement has changed over the years, but safe to say this: it is among the biggest audiences in UK broadcasting history,' said Deadline's international editor Jake Kanter. In footballing terms, the highest ratings before Sunday's figures were released came from the West Germany versus England semi-final at the World Cup in 1990, watched by twenty five million viewers across both of the main hannels. That also featured a painful penalty shootout exit for England. The official audience for Sunday's match may rise still further when those who saw it via catch-up services are taken into account. The overwhelming majority of people watched the coverage on BBC as compared to ITV - by a factor of more than four to one.

Historical discoveries could be at risk if government does not put archaeology at the heart of its new planning reforms, experts have warned. Archaeologists, academics and professional bodies have launched a campaign to ensure their work with developers remains a legal requirement. It has the backing of TV academics From The North favourite Professor Alice Roberts and Dan Snow, along with a number of MPs and peers. The government said it was 'determined to protect archaeological treasures.' One or two people even believed them. Boris Johnson first announced his proposals for reform of the planning system in England last year, with the aim of stopping local opponents blocking development in designated 'growth' zones. The Planning Bill was then confirmed in the Queen's Speech in May - with the promise of a vote in Parliament in the coming year. But there has already been disquiet on the Conservative benches over concerns it could side-line locals and lead to a 'free-for-all' for development. Archaeologists are concerned that the current rigorous assessments required by developers - laid out in law in 1990 by the then-Conservative government - are missing and they want guarantees the bill will include them, else heritage in the country could be lost. Doctor Chloe Duckworth, who presents The Great British Dig on More4, co-founded the campaign and told the BBC that without specific mention of archaeology in the Planning Bill, 'we could see some of the less conscientious developers trying to save time by avoiding this route - and that could see an absolute destruction and loss of archaeological heritage.' She added: 'If we don't have those protections in place then we actually don't know what we are going to lose. And, that is the key point really. Until you excavate and survey and look at an area in that level of detail, we can't say what archaeology might be there.' Her campaign has the backing of academic Professor Roberts, who presents the BBC's Digging For Britain. 'I have just written a book about some important burials throughout Britain and actually quite a lot of the examples are things you just wouldn't have known about, had it not been for archaeologists involved in planning developments. One recent one was the discovery of the amazing Pocklington chariot burial - an Iron Age burial in Yorkshire - that was on the site of a housing development, an amazing discovery. What having archaeology built into planning means is heritage is treated in a very careful way that we recover as much as we can before any development happens.' Historian and TV presenter Dan Snow has also joined the appeal to the government to make sure archaeological work is secured in the planning reforms. 'Planning is always going to be a compromise between the demands of the economy, homeowners, industry, towns expanding and those of us who wish to preserve the past,' he said. 'If we wipe out things of extraordinary value in order to create what we think in the short term will be more valuable, it almost certainly won't be.' He added: 'If you look at the destruction of medieval sites in the Nineteenth and Twentieth centuries, it would now bring in billions of pounds of tourism for example. It is a terrible mistake to destroy and disrespect your archaeology and your heritage.' The Conservative MP - and former archaeology student - Tim Loughton already has concerns about his government's planning reforms, but says he has raised this particular campaign with ministers. 'Archaeology is really important in so many aspects of our lives, it is not just slightly strange middle aged men like me wandering around with a trowel in muddy pits,' he said. 'Archaeology is all about showing people their cultural background, it is about education of our children and where they came from. It is a big employer that contributes several billion pounds to the UK economy and it is also a major contributor to cultural tourism as well.' He said the new legislation 'needs to take much greater regard to the cultural and heritage importance of some of those areas which are now vulnerable to development.' Loughton added: 'I shall be at the forefront of the queue to make sure there are amendments that improve the legislation to take account of our culture and heritage assets before they get concreted over.' Rob Lennox of the Chartered Institute of Archaeologists works with the government on legislation and supports the campaign. He said there are 'good noises' coming from Whitehall about the inclusion of archaeology, but the industry has just not had any guarantees. 'The danger is, as we get close to needing to produce a bill and have the wider discussions around the broad shape of the reforms, that archaeology gets lost between the cracks,' he said. 'We just need the message to get across to the highest levels of government that archaeology isn't just a tack onto this system, it isn't something that slows the system down.' Lennox added: 'This is fundamentally about preserving our heritage and making sure the planning system doesn't inadvertently destroy that as it tries to create the housing and infrastructure that we need.' A spokesman from the Department of Communities, Housing and Local Government - which leads of the planning reforms, said: 'We know that our archaeological treasures are irreplaceable and we are determined to protect them. Our planning reforms will build on the strong protections already in place - we will continue to work with key archaeological bodies as we develop detailed proposals for the Planning Bill.'
The United Kingdom's longest ancient monument has been damaged by 'centuries of gradual benign neglect,' says an association fighting to preserve it. A fund has started to help preserve the Eighth Century Offa's Dyke earthwork. Offa's Dyke has 'a lot of catching up to do' compared with other monuments of historic importance like Hadrian's Wall and Stonehenge, according to its association chairman. Dave McGlade said the one hundred and seventy seven mile monument on the Wales-England border is a 'sensitive archaeological landscape. It is also a scheduled monument, protected by statute law and deserves to be treated with the utmost respect,' added the Offa's Dyke Association chairman. The association has said because the scheduled monument exists largely within private land, it has fallen to landowners and local communities to keep it maintained. It said in consultation with Welsh historic environment body Cadw, the National Trail unit and Historic England, the Offa's Dyke Rescue Fund would seek to purchase parts of the monument considered to be under threat. A 2017 survey showed just 8.7 per cent of Offa's Dyke was in a 'favourable condition' and artist Dan Llewelyn Hall has been commissioned for an exhibition celebrating fifty years of the Offa's Dyke Path. He said while it is a 'modest little bump in the landscape,' it is 'hugely important to our identity of Wales,' such as in preserving the language and culture. 'It embodies a border culture between England and Wales and goes beyond that but it encases communities across the border that want to preserve it,' said Hall, from Llanfyllin in Powys. 'For a lot of people the path can seem irrelevant or inconvenient to maintain as it runs through a lot of private land and farm yard but once you lose that significance you never retrieve it.' Offa's Dyke is named after Offa - the king of the Mercians, a warrior tribe from central England, from AD 747 to 796. He ordered it to be constructed in the Eighth Century, probably to divide his kingdom from rival kingdoms in what is now Wales, according to National Trails. The work required thousands of men shovelling mud from one place to another. Which must've been quite a sight. The earth bank in places still stands to a height of twelve feet and sixty feet wide. The one hundred and seventy seven-mile National Trail opened in the summer of 1971 and links Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow with the coastal town of Prestatyn on the shores of the Irish sea. According to Visit Wales, fell-runners take an average of five days to complete it while hikers take twelve days. It passes through eight different counties and crosses the border between England and Wales more than twenty times. It links three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - the Wye Valley, the Shropshire Hills and the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley. The exhibition Walking With Offa will bring together art, poems and music celebrating fifty years of the path and will run through from Saturday until October, at Offa's Dyke Association and Centre in Knighton. Hall said it was a way to persevere and shed light on the 'monument of fragile existence that hasn't really been explored or given so much limelight,' with the fund emerging after he and the association 'realised it needed attention. We are hoping we can press upon people the importance of the monument and hope people will engage with it and absorb the sites and love it,' he said. The Offa's Dyke Path's national trail officer Rob Dingle said the monument is important for the local economy as it attracts walkers from all over the world. 'They call it the breathtaking borderlands,' he said. 'The trail itself brings walkers from all around the world to enjoy our landscapes and when they are here they are staying in Airbnb's, drinking in our pubs and spending in our shops so that money coming into the rural economy is huge.' He said because of the Covid pandemic, getting people to walk the trail and enjoy the area was 'hugely important.'
Media regulator Ofcom - a politically-appointed quango, elected by no one - received a huge number in complaints over the last year, the highest since it started in 2002. The UK broadcasting watchdog received one hundred and forty two thousand six hundred and sixty whinges between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, a four hundred and ten per cent rise in whinges on the previous twelve months' total. Odious oily and hateful twat Piers Morgan's comments on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Oprah Winfrey TV interview on Good Morning Britain in March drew a record fifty four thousand plus complaints. And, very satisfyingly, the old tin-tack for Odious oily twat Morgan his very self. So, you know, out of all this did, at least, come some good. Morgan accounts for three more of the ten most-complained about TV broadcasts. The other instances relate to two Good Morning Britain interviews with social care minister Helen Whately and a third with Home Office minister Victoria Atkin. Morgan chose to leave Good Morning Britain in March rather than retract his criticisms of the Duchess of Sussex and get his arse kicked into the gutter along with all the other turds by ITV. Diversity's Black Lives Matter-inspired dance routine on Britain's Got Toilets in September prompted just over twenty five thousand complaints. From racist scumbags. Ofcom did not launch a formal investigation into the routine, which went on to win the Must-See Moment award at this year's TV BAFTAs. Much, one imagines, to the chagrin of racist scumbags everywhere. So, again, some good comes from the existence of Ofcom. Another two thousand five hundred and sixty five whinges were received after Alesha Dixon wore a BLM necklace while judging the ITV talent show. Again, from racist scumbags. The use of live animals during trials on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) prompted eleven thousand five hundred and sixteen whinges to the media regulator. From people who haven't got anything more important or worthwhile to do with their time, seemingly. All ten of the most complained about TV broadcasts originated on ITV, though only three of them generated more than three thousand complaints. Good Morning Britain accounts for half of the ten, with Britain's Got Toilets accounting for four. Ofcom said: 'In many of the cases above, we did not find the issues warranted an investigation.' So, in other words, the whinging whinges whinged over nowt worth whinging about, essentially. Sounds about right. Ofcom added that on 'some occasions,' where they did decide a programme 'did not raise substantive issues under the code but there was significant public attention,' they published the reasons behind their decision not to investigate. According to Ofcom, the vast majority of the whinges it received during 2020-21 were about 'content that audiences found offensive.' It said there was an 'increase in the number of complaints specifically about potentially racially offensive broadcast content.' Previous research by Ofcom found 'societal norms have shifted in recent years and discriminatory behaviours and language are now more commonly perceived as unacceptable than was previously the case. We're a nation of TV lovers and it's kept us entertained and informed like never before during lockdown,' its spokesperson said. 'From time-to-time viewers see things that trouble them and that's where we come in.' Ofcom said it was 'unusual' to receive such a large volume of complaints about individual broadcasts. Albeit, this is odious oily (and, now unemployed) twat Morgan we're talking about here so, frankly, nothing should be all that surprising. The regulator said it had also received a high number of whinges relating to 'content about the pandemic.' Which proves that what this blogger has always suspected is, indeed, true; that some people will whinge about any old shit given the opportunity to do so. Almost half of the broadcasts Ofcom formally investigated - forty eight per cent - were found to be in breach of its broadcasting code.
Edinburgh-based rocket company Skyrora is issuing a challenge to find a way to retrieve the Prospero satellite. The object was the first and only UK spacecraft to be launched on a British rocket, from Australia in 1971. It is defunct now, obviously, but is still circling the globe on an elliptical orbit some one thousand kilometres up. Skyrora, who will soon start sending up rockets from Scotland, regards the satellite as an important piece of UK space heritage. The company has already recovered part of the Black Arrow vehicle which placed Prospero in orbit. That fell back to Australia in the course of the mission where it languished for decades in the Outback until the firm had it shipped home and put on display. Now, Skyrora is looking for ideas as to how best to approach and grab hold of the sixty six kilogram satellite, whose original mission was to investigate the space environment. It might not be possible to bring it all the way home through the atmosphere intact. For starters, it would need protection from the heat of re-entry, but, at the very least, just de-orbiting what is now a piece of space-junk would be a statement of Britain's commitment to the sustainable use of space. Orbits above the Earth are becoming cluttered with old hardware, which risks colliding with - and destroying - those operationally useful spacecraft which provide us with important services such as Earth observation, meteorology and telecommunications. 'This is a challenge to ourselves, to the space industry in the UK,' said Alan Thompson, Skyrora's head of government affairs. 'Ultimately, we'd love to recover Prospero and bring it all the way down, but we recognise that would be very difficult. The point here, though, is to accentuate industry principles of responsibility and sustainability,' he told the BBC News website. The company held a reception on Wednesday evening to discuss ideas. This took place at the inaugural UK Space-Comm Expo, which is being staged this week at the Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre in Hampshire. Prospero and its launch rocket, Black Arrow, represented something of a false dawn for Britain's space efforts. Even as the lipstick-shaped rocket - which looked like something designed by Gerry Anderson for Thunderbirds - climbed skyward, the government had already decided to cancel the technology development programme. The UK remains the only country to have developed a successful launch capability and then, immediately, abandon it. Half-a-century on, an indigenous capacity is being revived in the form of Skyrora, Orbex and a handful of other start-ups who wish to launch from the UK proper - not, this time, from Australia. Regulations are in the process of being signed off by government with the intention that operating licences will be open for application later this year. Skyrora is determined to pursue its activities in as green a way as possible. Although burning a carbon-based fuel, kerosene, in its rockets, this will be made from recycled plastic. It also wants the top section, or third stage, of its orbital vehicle to not only place satellites in orbit, but be capable of removing redundant spacecraft as well. It has been busy testing a 'space tug' that would do just this kind of work. 'The challenge of removing space debris and either knocking it into the atmosphere so that it burns up, or bringing it back to Earth, is one of the most important and topical challenges in space,' commented Lord Willetts, the former UK space minister. 'It would be great if British enterprise and British entrepreneurship played a role in tackling this challenge.' In order to retrieve Prospero, one would first have to locate it. Although the satellite is no longer communicating with Earth (the las contact was in 2004), its orbit is known, says Ralph Dinsley from space surveillance experts Northern Space & Security Ltd. 'It's in an elliptical orbit around the Earth, coming as close as about five hundred and twenty two kilometres and going out as far as about thirteen hundred kilometres,' he said. 'Not only is Prospero up there, but part of the rocket body that put it there is up there as well. Finding Prospero is all about applying inspiration to what we need to do for the future. There's a lot of discussion about active debris removal, a lot of discussion about the threat of the space junk apocalypse. Wouldn't be great if the UK actually took responsibility for some of that junk?'
Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has successfully reached the edge of space on board his Galactic rocket plane. Pretty cool if you can ignore the fact that The Beardy Billionaire Hippy was ascending the heavens in a craft with the word 'Virgin' plastered all over it. The UK entrepreneur flew high above New Mexico in the US in the vehicle that his company has been developing for seventeen years. The trip was, he said, the 'experience of a lifetime.' Tragically, he returned safely to Earth just over an hour after leaving the ground. 'I have dreamt [sic] of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space," he said in a press conference following the flight. "The whole thing was just magical.' The trip also makes him the first of the new space tourism pioneers to try out their own vehicles, beating Amazon's Jeff Bezos and SpaceX's Elon Musk. So, if you ever about a single by The Sex Pistols, XTC, The Skids or Public Image Limited, this one's down to you. The businessman was accompanied on the mission by the vehicle's two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and three Galactic employees - Beth Moses, Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla. The latter trio and Sir Richard were presented with commercial astronaut wings after the flight by former space station commander and Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield. Branson billed the flight as 'a test of the space tourism experience' he expects to begin selling to customers from next year. These are all people who want to reach a height where they can see the sky turn black and marvel at the Earth's horizon as it curves away into the distance. Such a flight should afford them about five minutes of weightlessness during which they will be allowed to float around inside Unity's cabin. It has been a long road for Sir Richard to get to this point. He first announced his intention to make 'a space plane' in 2004, with the belief he could start a commercial service by 2007. But technical difficulties, including a fatal crash during a development flight in 2014, have made the space project one of the most challenging ventures of his career. Space tourism is a sector being rekindled after a decade's hiatus and it's about to get very competitive. Throughout the 2000s, seven wealthy individuals paid to visit the International Space Station. But this adventurism, organised under the patronage of the Russian space agency, ceased in 2009. Now, new initiatives abound. As well as Branson's approach, there are projects coming from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the California tech entrepreneur Elon Musk. The Russians, too, are reprising their commercial flights to the ISS and there are even those who want to launch private space stations for people to visit. Among these is Axiom, a company started by a former NASA ISS programme manager. Musk travelled to New Mexico to support his friend Branson and following the flight Bezos sent his congratulations. There Is clearly something of an edge in the Branson-Bezos relationship, however. On Friday, the retail billionaire's Blue Origin space company had issued a tweet that took a dig at Virgin Galactic's Unity vehicle. The posting repeated a claim that anyone who flew on the rocket plane would forever have an asterisk by their name because they wouldn't reach the 'internationally recognised' altitude for where space begins - the so-called Kármán line of one hundred kilometres. Which is a little bit like saying that anyone who climbs Everest should've taken a step ladder up with them so they could get just that little bit higher. The US government has always recognised the boundary of space to be at about eighty kilometres and it awards astronaut wings to anyone who exceeds that altitude. Before Sunday, only five hundred and eighty people had ever been above this height. At least, without the use of mind-altering drugs. Unity is a sub-orbital vehicle. This means it can't achieve the velocity and altitude necessary to keep it in space to circle the globe. The vehicle is designed to give its passengers stunning views at the top of its climb and allow them a few minutes to experience weightlessness. Unity is first carried by a much bigger aeroplane to an altitude of about fifteen kilometres where it is released. A rocket motor in the back of Unity then ignites to blast the ship skyward. The maximum height achievable by Unity is roughly ninety kilometres. Passengers are allowed to unbuckle to float to a window. Unity folds its tailbooms on descent to stabilise its fall before then gliding home.