Monday, July 08, 2019

The Gaudy, Babbling & Remorseful Day

As previously mentioned, dear blog reader, this blogger has made a written contribution to Me & The Starman, a highly-anticipated charity volume from Chinbeard Books which includes a collection of essays by both professional and fan writers about yer actual David Bowie and his - considerable - impact upon their lives. Edited by Keith Telly Topping's good chums We Are Cult's James Gent and the Game Of Thrones legend that is Jonny Arnold, From The North's PDF preview copy of the book turned up last Friday and this blogger has spent a thoroughly entertaining weekend wading through a large number of the contributions therein. Like other examples of the acclaimed You & Who range - most notably, 2015's You & Who Else with which this blogger was also involved - Me & The Starman works best as a book to dip in and out of and read a couple of essays at a time rather than study from cover-to-cover in one go. The bite-sized chunks of quasi-autobiography-disguised-as-critique(!) work as a useful (and, always, highly articulate and enjoyable) reminder that, in his particular case, David Bowie meant an awful lot of different things to lots of different people; this is an aspect which is highlighted in the book's excellent Foreword, written by Bowie biographer and chronicler Nick Pegg, author of possibly the definitive reference work on the late singer, The Complete David Bowie. Thus, thoughtful, bright, enthusiastic and often really funny pieces by the likes of Adamski, Tom Jordan, Ann Worrell, Kara Dennison, Andrew Hampel, Rachel Redhead, Elton Townend-Jones, Paul Ebbs, Barnaby Eaton-John, Carolyn Arnold, Ian McCann, Ange Chan, Geoff Wessel, Jenny Shirt, Al No and Paul Magrs detail sometimes painfully personal attachments of various aspects of Bowie's oeuvre to the authors own lives. From an initial glance, some of this blogger's early favourites of the essays include (and, this list is by no means all-inclusive), Lee Rawlings wry appreciation of Diamond Dogs; Ken Shinn's spirited - and, entirely worthy - defence of 'The Laughing Gnome' (Keith Telly Topping is with you all the way on that score, Ken!); Martin Ruddock's tale of the discovery of a copy of K-Tel's The Best Of Bowie at a car boot sale; Nick Lewis's witty appraisal of The Man Who Fell To Earth; Robert Fairclough's impassioned defence of Tin Machine; Janine Fennick's expression of love for Scary Monsters; Tim Worthington's impressively thorough article on David's 'lost' 1960s TV appearances; Sue George's touching David Bowie Made Me Bi and this blogger's old mucker Charles Martin's similarly affectionate Everyone Says "Hi!" But, that list barely scratches the surface of a book containing over eighty slices of prime-cut, passionate and twenty four carat personal Bowiephilia. This blogger's own - overlong - piece, I Still Don't Know What I Was Waiting For & My Time Was Running Wild, in theory about the occasion that Keith Telly Topping bought his first Bowie LP, Hunky Dory, on the Isle of Wight in 1976, actually goes off at all sorts of weird tangents. Taking in, as it does, how David Bowie impacted on Keith Telly Topping's school days; this blogger getting drunk at teenage parties to a soundtrack of Scary Monsters and listening to Station To Station at a friend's brother's gaff and not 'getting it'; being very unimpressed by the Glass Spider tour at Roker Park (particularly the drummer 'sounding like he was putting up shelves') and the thirty seconds that Keith Telly Topping once spent standing next to David in the lavvies at Abbey Road in the 1980s. Yes, that old chestnut dragged into the harsh gaze of public embarrassment for the umpteenth time. With an afterword by Tony Zanetta, Robert Hammond's modishly elegant cover and all royalties being donated to one of this blogger's own supported charities, Cancer Research UK, Me & The Starman is a book that you need in your lives, dear blog reader, if you have even the smallest of spaces in your heart devoted to the life and music of the late David Bowie. It is a thing of beauty, a work full of love put together with obvious care and attention and a project to which this blogger is proud to be associated. Now that it's up on Amazon and extremely availablebuy one, several, or lots. Consider that, dear blog reader, to be an order.
BBC Studios is to release the Doctor Who: David Tennant Specials on limited edition Blu-ray Steelbook. Fans can re-live the action of Tennant's five Doctor Who specials on Blu-ray featuring new and exclusive artwork. It will be released on Monday 2 September and is already available for pre-order from Amazon. Broadcast between Christmas Day 2008 and New Year's Day 2010, the specials bridged the gap between the fourth and fifth series of Doctor Who, marking the end of the era of national heartthrob David Tennant as The Doctor and Russell Davis as Doctor Who's lead writer and showrunner. They included the appearances of a number of one-off companions played by David Morrissey, Velile Tshabalala, Michelle Ryan, Lindsay Duncan and Bernard Cribbins along with returning cast members Catherine Tate, Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman, Noel Clarke, the late Elisabeth Sladen and John Simm. The specials were, The Next Doctor, Planet Of The Dead, The Waters Of Mars and the two-part The End Of Time. You knew that, right? The Blu-rays also includes a number of special features: commentaries with cast and crew, deleted scenes, exclusive David Tennant video diaries, episodes of Doctor Who Confidential, Doctor Who At The Proms, the feature Doctor Who at Comic-Con and more. It also contains a 'bonus' disc including two - less than essential - animated episodes: Dreamland and The Infinite Quest.
The British Museum have recently launched a series of podcasts featuring staff discussing projects and events taking place at the museum. A regular feature in the podcast is an 'Object Of The Month,' focusing on an item of interest in the museum. For June's edition, Project Curator for the Money and Medals Network, Henry Flynn, discusses an exhibit on permanent display in the Money Gallery: one of the ten pound bank notes that originally appeared in the 2006 Doctor Who Christmas episode, The Runaway Bride and featured the image of yer actual national heartthrob David Tennant.
Russell Davies has revealed his most favouritist Doctor Who monster, ever, in the whole world. Bar none. 'I love the Daleks I'm afraid,' Big Rusty told Radio Times. There's no need to be afraid, Russ - just run up some stairs and you'll be safe. Usually. Speaking at the South Bank Show Awards, Big Rusty also said that the return of The Judoon, a rhino-like mercenary alien which he created and which will make an appearance in the next Doctor Who series starring yer actual Jodie Whittaker, was 'marvellous. Because I know about these things before the public; I own the copyright of them, so they have to phone me up and say, "Can we bring them back?" As if I'm going to say "no." And I also get a little bit of money for it, which is very nice - not much, it's the BBC. But I knew that about six months ago. Normally lawyers would do it, but [current showrunner] Chris Chibnall just sent me an e-mail directly, saying, "Oi, could we have The Judoon please?" And I said. "Of course you can. I do love [The Judoon], out of everything I've created. There's something very gloriously daft about them, they wouldn't fit into Star Trek, they wouldn't fit into Stargate and that's a very good sign of a Doctor Who monster, when they won't fit into any other show. So I love them, really.'
The BBC has released the first images of Claes Bang as the eponymous title character in the much-anticipated adaptation of Dracula, from Sherlock co-creators Mark Gatiss and The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE). In addition to Bang and Gatiss, the cast also includes John Heffernan, Joanna Scanlan, Dolly Wells, Morfydd Clark, Lujza Richter, Lyndsey Marshal, Chanel Cresswell, Matthew Beard, Lydia West, Paul Brennen, Sarah Niles, Sofia Oxenham, John McCrea, Phil Dunster and Millicent Wong. The drama's first series will consist of three feature-length episodes in the same style as Sherlock. Netflix is a co-producer and will serve as the global broadcaster for the series. Hartswood Films are producing. The directors have been announced as Jonny Campbell, Damon Thomas and Paul McGuigan. Production began earlier this year at Orava Castle in Slovakia, before moving to Bray Studios.
Fancy catching up on Game Of Thrones but can't be bothered to wade through eight series of the show as this blogger's mate Matt is currently doing - to the constant entertainment of his Facebook fiends? Or, you could just read this blog's own abbreviated version of entire plot. However, if you can't be arsed with that either, a group of people are hard at work creating a viable alternative. A team of volunteers at the Ulster Museum in Belfast are completing a ninety-metre long tapestry that covers the entirety of the events of the HBO show. Done in the style of The Bayeux Tapestry, the long work consists of some of the show's key moments, including the death of Ned Stark and the Red Wedding. The makers have been working on it for two years, having already completed the first seven series - they're now stitching the eighth. No doubt the first seventh-eighths of it will one of great interest to those numbskull bell-ends who signed a petition demanding that HBO remake the final series. The last eighth, however, presumably they'll want an alternative version of. With a happy ending. 'The length of the tapestry allows the story to unfold, so in many ways it's the perfect medium for telling the story of the Game of Thrones project,' Valerie Wilson, costume and textiles curator at National Museums Northern Ireland told the Gruniad Morning Star. 'This tapestry references The Bayeux Tapestry in that it has a series of repeated icons through it,' she added.
From The North favourite Killing Eve is one of the biggest shows on television at the moment - you might have noticed, dear blog reader - so it's hard to believe that 'everyone' in the UK TV industry turned the series down initially. Creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge has spoken about making the critically-acclaimed thriller, claiming that she struggled to get a British network interested when pitching it. 'Killing Eve was turned down by everyone really in this country,' she said on a podcast this week. 'I thought it was a goner. The production company sent it to BBC America [who] came back and said: "Great, we love it." Sometimes you think something is gone - one of the things I thought I would never return to becomes the biggest thing in your life.'
The world premiere for the fifth series of From The North favourite Peaky Blinders is to take place in Birmingham, ahead of its return to the BBC later this year. Fans of the award-winning period gangster drama will be able to watch the first episode and quiz the cast and creators at the city's Town Hall on 18 July. The latest series is set against the turmoil of the 1929 financial crash, with stars Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Paul Anderson returning. Tommy Shelby MP is approached by 'a charismatic politician with a bold vision for Britain,' (that would be Baronet Oswald Ernald Mosley, played by Sam Clafin, then). But Tommy soon 'realises that his response will affect not just his family's future but that of the entire nation.' Cos Baronet Oswalf Ernald Mosley is, obviously, a fascist fucker who could do with a right good punch up the bracket. Creator Steven Knight said that Birmingham was his first choice for the premiere, adding that the cast and crew 'love' the city. Knight, along with the cast, will be in attendance walking the red carpet on the evening and greeting fans. 'Birmingham is the epicentre for the show and it means so much to me to come back here year after year and start the series with a bang,' he said. 'This year we're at the Town Hall, which is a great venue, with more fans than ever before able to see the programme. I can't wait to see everyone's reactions on the night.'
Doom Patrol ended its first series of shit-weird adventures in May but, if you missed out on the critically acclaimed DC Universe series, got curious by this blogger's constant references to it as From The North's current favourite TV show In The World. Bar none, or did watch it and can't get enough of the reluctant misfit heroes and their challenges then you're in luck. Doom Patrol: The Complete First Season is coming to Blu-ray and DVD on 1 October including all fifteen episodes, deleted scene and a - no doubt 'about as funny as a kick in the knackers' - 'gag reel' as extra content. 'In only its first season, the critically acclaimed series has received a ninety five per cent certified fresh rating and scored an eight out of ten on Rotten Tomatoes - and continues to gain momentum,' said Rosemary Markson, WBHEG Senior Vice President, TV Marketing. 'Now is the time to join in on the investigation of the world's weirdest phenomena with these unique DC Super Heroes. We are excited to make this outstanding first season available on all formats – Digital, Blu-ray and DVD - for fans and newcomers to enjoy.' According to the Superherohype website, 'the series has already been renewed for a second series,' news which this blogger has to admit, he'd completely missed but is absolutely delighted about. There is, the website continues, as yet no word on when the second series will be broadcast. DC Universe will be hosting an official panel at San Diego Comic-Con for the show later this month.
Martin Compston has been pictured on set of his new Dundee-based crime thriller. The Line Of Duty favourite will appear Traces, which focuses on three female forensic officers trying to crack an unsolved murder. The six-part series is based on an original idea of author Val McDermid and produced by an all-female team for the Alibi channel.
HN Entertainment has confirmed the filming dates for the upcoming third series of From The North favourite American Gods, based on the acclaimed Neil Gaiman novel. You knew that, right? The series will begin shooting in September in Toronto, with filming continuing until March 2020. The third series was announced in March and Charles Eglee (who previously worked on The Shield and Dexter) was announced as the new showrunner. Other Neil Gaiman shows, of course, include Good Omens and the recently announced Sandman series for Netflix.
Speaking of The Sandman, the news that Netflix have - finally - agreed to do a series adaptation of the award-winning comic was greeted with, understandable, widespread media interest. The news came almost exactly thirty years after DC published the first issue of Gaiman's comic, in which the Dream King, Morpheus wakes up from seventy years of captivity at the hands of a very naughty mortal. The series ran for seventy six issues and has often been described as 'unfilmable,' with previous attempts to adapt it, either as a movie or a TV series, foundering on the rocks of this very unfilmability. The most recent reported effort was in 2016, when the actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt acquired the rights and was due to direct a film adaptation in which he would have also played Morpheus, with a script by Jack Thorne. But, Levitt and Thorne subsequently left the project due to reported 'creative differences' with the studio, New Line. The Gruniad described the news of Netflix's announcement as 'thrilling.' According to The Hollywood Reporter, it will be 'the most expensive TV venture DC Entertainment has made to date,' with Netflix commissioning an eleven-episode series. The Inverse and Bleeding Cool websites immediately produced speculative articles about what aspects of the comics plotlines the series may contain. The general consensus seems to conclude that the initial series will, most likely, adapt the majority of the plot of the first eight issues of the comic, Preludes & Nocturnes. Which would make series two - if they get that far - this blogger's own favourite of Gaiman's stories' The Doll's House - the one that includes fan-favourites like Men Of Good Fortune and Collectors. Whether any possible third series of Dream Country is even feasible - whether something like Dreams Of A Thousand Cats could, possibly, be adapted for telly - is another question entirely and one which only time will tell. But, for what it's worth, dear blog reader, this blogger - who doesn't normally get over excited by the prospect of a new TV show (well, only once or twice an average week) - is, genuinely, proper excited by this.
When the Sandman TV series announcement was made last week, this blogger immediately dug out his very well-thumbed copy of Hy Bender's splendid 1999 book The Sandman Companion. Firstly, because it's a terrific summation of all of the good things in Gaiman's work, obviously. But, also, because he wanted to access one particular quote to share with you all, dear blog reader. It was Neil Gaiman explaining exactly why sneering Gruniad Morning Star-reading, quiche-eating Middle Class hippy Communist wankers need a damned good, hard, eye-watering blow to the Jacob's Cream Crackers on a regular basis. 'Once, while at a party in London, the editor of the literary reviews page of a major newspaper struck up a conversation with me and we chatted pleasantly until he asked what I did for a living. "I write comics," I said; and I watched the editor's interest instantly drain away, as if he suddenly realised he was speaking to someone beneath his nose. Just to be polite, he followed up by inquiring, "Oh, yes? Which comics have you written?" So I mentioned a few titles, which he nodded at perfunctorily and I concluded, "I also did this thing called Sandman." At that point he became excited and said, "Hang on, I know who you are. You're Neil Gaiman!" I admitted that I was. "My God, man, you don't write comics," he said. "You write graphic novels!" He meant it as a compliment, I suppose. But all of a sudden I felt like someone who'd been informed that she wasn't, actually, a hooker; that in fact she was a lady of the evening! This editor had obviously heard positive things about Sandman; but he was so stuck on the idea that comics are juvenile he couldn't deal with something good being done as a comic book. He needed to put Sandman in a box to make it respectable.' Proper good bloke, that Neil Gaiman, dear blog breader. Has this blogger mentioned - more than several dozen times - the occasion that he shared an interview panel with Neil at a convention in the US (and then, made the poor lad waste five minutes of his valuable time signing a bunch of this blogger's own Sandman issues at the end)? He has? Okay, better not do that again, then.
The second series of Roisin Conaty's GameFace will premiere on Channel Four on Wednesday 17 July. The comedy series is produced by Objective Fiction and also stars Pauline McLynn, Francis Magee, Dylan Edwards, Damien Molony, Nina Toussaint-White, Karl Theobald, Dustin Demri Burns and Caroline Ginty. In the opening episode of series two, Marcella passes her driving test and finds her ex, Simon, in a compromising position.
Sally Wainwright has good news about who is returning for the new series of Last Tango In Halifax: 'Everyone's back.' The screenwriter's much-loved comedy drama series was last seen at Christmas 2016, but in May the BBC finally announced that four more episodes of Last Tango were on their way. 'I've just finished writing it,' Wainwright told Radio Times 'We're starting filming in about eight weeks.' The screenwriter also confirmed that the core cast - Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, Sarah Lancashire and From The North favourite Nicola Walker - have all signed up for the new series.
Poldark will return to BBC1 for its fifth and final series on Sunday at 9pm, it has been announced. Based on the novels by Winston Graham and the 1970s television series, Poldark is produced by Mammoth Screen and stars Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Jack Farthing, Luke Norris, Gabriella Wilde, Ellise Chappell, Harry Richardson, Tom York, Beatie Edney, Lily Dodsworth Evans, Kerri McLean, Sofia Oxenham, Vincent Regan, Peter Sullivan and Freddie Wise. Whilst series four was based around Graham's seventh novel, the final batch of episodes will explore the 'gap years' mentioned in the eighth novel of the series. It is a new century and with it comes the promise of a hopeful future, but the past casts a long shadow over Cornwall. Following the death of Elizabeth, Ross Poldark resolves to put Westminster behind him and spend more time with the people he loves. However, when an old friend emerges with a plea for help, Ross is compelled to challenge the establishment again. As the Enyses rally to join the cause, Demelza must contend with dangers close to home, while George (Jack Farthing) courts corrupt powers whose influence spans the Empire.
The seventh and final series of Elementary will receive its first UK broadcast on Sky Witness from Tuesday 16 July. Based - very loosely - on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Elementary was created by Robert Doherty and follows the day-to-day life of Sherlock Holmes, who is now living in New York City with Doctor Joan Watson, as he consults on cases for both private clients and the NYPD. The series is produced by CBS Television Studios and stars Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu, Aidan Quinn and Jon Michael Hill. It's was never as good as Sherlock but, it's certainly had more than its fair share of good moments. In the drama's final series, Holmes and Watson's new careers as consultants for Scotland Yard are disrupted by news that a member of their inner circle has been gravely wounded. As Holmes' stateside legal trouble - the result of a confession to a murder he didn't commit - threatens to keep them from returning to New York, their greatest foe to date, tech billionaire Odin Reichenbach (James Frain), waits on the horizon to test their limits.
For the last two months UK viewers have been gripped by Gentleman Jack, the BBC's drama about the eventful life of Nineteenth Century landowner Anne Lister. Written by Sally Wainwright, the series stars Suranne Jones as Lister, a wealthy industrialist from West Yorkshire who lived a secret life with her female lover. Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle recently said that Jones should 'win every fucking prize going' for her performance. A second series has been commissioned, while Shibden Hall - the house near Halifax where Lister lived - has seen visitor numbers treble. As well as stimulating interest in Lister herself, though, the drama has also given a boost to O'Hooley and Tidow - the female folk duo who sing the song that plays over the programme's end credits. The Huddersfield couple's jaunty composition predates the show, having first appeared on their 2012 CD The Fragile. 'From the minute we started performing it it was our hit basically,' says Heidi Tidow. 'We've been singing it non-stop for seven years. A couple of years ago we did a show at Hebden Bridge and Sally Wainwright was at it,' she continues. 'She was filming Happy Valley at the time and she came up to us in the interval and asked to use the song in a drama she was writing.' Wainwright herself says that she knew the song 'would bring something magical to the closing moments of each episode [and] have a powerful emotional effect on the audience.' Gentleman Jack was the far from flattering nickname Lister acquired on account of her unconventional lifestyle and mannish attire. A dedicated and prolific diarist, she detailed her liaisons in intricately coded entries that were only deciphered after her death in 1840. Lister faced harassment and abuse during her lifetime, which the lyrics of O'Hooley and Tidow's song reflect. 'No one likes a Jack-the-lass,' they sing of a woman who was 'proud and stout and full of clout' and 'played the fellas at their game.' One could say the same of O'Hooley and Tidow, who have managed to plough their own distinctive furrow through the traditional folk world. 'The fact we use a piano initially raised a few eyebrows, so we were breaking the rules from day one,' says Belinda O'Hooley, a former member of The Unthanks who has been performing with her wife Heidi since 2009. 'Also the fact we're visibly a gay couple sets us apart a little bit.'
The second series of Better Things will receive its UK premiere on BBC2 on Wednesday 17 July, it has been announced. Better Things follows Sam Fox, a single mother and working actor with no filter, raising her three daughters, Max, Frankie and Duke in Los Angeles. She also looks after her mother, Phil, an English expat with questionable faculties who lives across the street. Whether she’s struggling to keep her daughters close or trying to push one of them out of the nest, Sam approaches every challenge with fierce love, raw honesty and humour. The comedy is produced by FX Productions and stars Pamela Adlon, Mikey Madison, Hannah Alligood, Olivia Edward and Celia Imrie. FX has renewed Better Things for at least a further two series.
BBC2 has ordered Living With Dementia, a two-part documentary series following six people who are well, basically, living with dementia from independent production company Wonder. The series captures six dementia sufferers at different stages of the condition, revealing what it is like for them and for the people around them. It will explore the complexity of this horribly life-changing illness, how it can vary from day to day and how small shifts in the brain can have an unpredictable impact on people. The documentary is being filmed over a two year period, allowing producers to explore all the complexities of the disease and work with people with dementia and their families to track changes, subtle or significant, over a longer period of time. The two parter-was commissioned by BBC2's Controller Patrick Holland and the BBC's Head of Commissioning for Specialist Factual and Natural History Tom McDonald. Alexandra Fraser is the executive producer.
Kirsty Young is stepping down as the host of Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. She has presented the long-running show since 2006 and has interviewed hundreds of guests including Annie Lennox and David Tennant. And Morrissey though, we shall not hold that against her. Last year, Young took a break from hosting Desert Island Discs because she had  been diagnosed with a form of fibromyalgia. The BBC said that 6Music's Wor Geet Canny Lovely Luscious Lauren Laverne, who was drafted in as cover for Young during her hiatus, will continue to present Desert Island Discs 'for the foreseeable future.' Young has presented four hundred and ninety six episodes of the programme as well as fronting its seventieth and seventy fifth anniversary episodes - in 2012 and 2017 respectively. She called her tenure 'twelve incredibly happy and fulfilling years. Having been forced to take some months away from my favourite job because of health problems,' she added, 'I'm happy to say I'm now well on the way to feeling much better. But that enforced absence from the show has altered my perspective on what I should do next and so I've decided it's time to pursue new challenges.' Fibromyalgia is a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body and can bring on severe fatigue. Young said that she wished Wor Geet Canny Lovely Luscious Lauren 'all the very best.' Wor Geet Canny Lovely Luscious Lauren her very self added: 'Stepping in for Kirsty on Desert Island Discs (which was already my favourite programme) has been an enormous honour.'
Ex-English Defence League leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon has been found to be in contempt of court for his Facebook Live broadcast of defendants in a criminal trial. He was found extremely guilty of interfering with the trial of a sexual grooming gang at Leeds Crown Court in May 2018. Two High Court judges found his conduct 'amounted to a serious interference with the administration of justice.' The court ruled that the thirty six-year-old, from Luton, committed contempt by breaking reporting restrictions. Yaxley-Lennon, had denied any wrongdoing, claiming that he had only referred to information which was already in the public domain. Following the verdict at the Old Bailey, he told the BBC he had been convicted 'for who I am, not what I have done.' One of the senior judges, Dame Victoria Sharp, said that the court will consider what penalty to impose for the contempt - which carries a maximum of two years in The Slammer - and give full reasons for the decision 'at a later date.' She said Yaxley-Lennon breached the reporting restriction imposed on the trial by live-streaming a video from outside the public entrance to the court and by 'aggressively confronting and filming' some of the defendants. The judge said that the content of the video 'gave rise to a substantial risk that the course of justice in that case would be seriously impeded' and the confrontation of the defendants was 'a direct interference with the course of justice.' Contempt of court laws exist to ensure people get fair trials. The idea is that juries must not be influenced by anything but the evidence they hear in court. The rules apply to everyone from journalists to people posting comments on social media and even to jurors. Contempt includes publishing anything which 'creates a substantial risk of seriously prejudicing active criminal proceedings.' Someone could also be held in contempt by actions including taking photographs or film of those involved in the proceedings, recording what is said in court or talking to a jury member about a case. Reporting restrictions had been put in place postponing the publication of any details of the 2018 case at Leeds Crown Court until the end of a series of linked trials involving twenty nine defendants. Yaxley-Lennon broadcast the footage from outside the court on 25 May 2018, while the jury in the second trial of the series was considering its verdict. The video lasted an hour-and-a-half and was reportedly viewed online two hundred and fifty thousand times after being live-streamed on Facebook. He was originally jailed for thirteen months on the day of the broadcast but was released two months into his sentence after winning an appeal. The case was then referred back to Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, who announced in March that it was 'in the public interest' to bring fresh proceedings. Speaking after the latest verdict, Cox said that the court's decision 'reflected the seriousness' of posting online material which risks prejudicing legal proceedings. 'I would urge everyone to think carefully about whether their social media posts could amount to contempt of court,' he added. A provisional date of 11 July was given for Yaxley-Lennon's sentencing hearing.
Kevin Spacey has reportedly been questioned in the US by members of the Metropolitan Scuzzers over The Sex allegations in the UK, according to Variety. The magazine said Scotland Yard detectives travelled to the US in May to interview the Oscar-winner 'under caution.' He faces six allegations of sexual assault in the UK between 1996 and 2013 all of which he denies. Police said that he was voluntarily interviewed and that he was not arrested. While the Metropolitan Fuzz did not name Spacey, specifically, a spokeswoman said: 'In May 2019, a man was voluntarily interviewed under caution in America, by officers from the Met's Complex Case Team. He was not arrested. Inquiries are ongoing.' Spacey was artistic director at London's The Old Vic theatre between 2004 and 2015. The latest development emerged a day after a man who claimed that Spacey groped him in the US in 2016 dropped his civil case. The unnamed man had been seeking unspecified damages over Spacey's alleged 'explicit sexual behaviour' at a Nantucket bar. Spacey still faces a criminal charge in the US and has pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery in January. Overall, Spacey has faced allegations of sexual assault from more than thirty men. The first allegation came from the Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp in November 2017. Rapp claimed that Spacey had made sexual advances to him in 1986 when he was fourteen years old and Spacey was twenty six. Spacey claimed to have 'no memory' of the events, but, nevertheless, publicly apologised. He has since issued an 'absolute' denial of the other allegations that later emerged.
The reclusive billionaire owner of the Daily Torygraph and the Ritz hotel has been ordered to pay damages to an obscure French playwright who wrote a play that allegedly satirised the lives of him and his twin brother. Sir David Barclay unsuccessfully sued Hédi Tillette de Clermont-Tonnerre for defamation and invasion of privacy after the French author wrote a work entitled Two Brothers & The Lions, about the lives of two Britons 'who become cold, selfish monsters in the heart of our democratic societies.' At an earlier hearing, the prominent French lawyer Olivier Morice, who represented the playwright before a civil court in Caen, described the work as 'a satirical fable on capitalism' and told Barclay's lawyer: 'You don't have the courage to plead censorship but you are asking for the play to be banned.' Barclay, who alongside his twin brother, Sir Frederick, is one of the richest men in Britain with an alleged shared fortune of eight billion knicker, claimed the production portrayed him 'unfairly.' He has always fiercely protected his privacy while building up a business empire that includes The Spectator and the Yodel delivery company. The brothers are famous for owning the Channel island of Brecqhou, where they have built a Gothic-style castle and their long-running dispute with many residents on the neighbouring island of Sark. They have clashed with local politicians and other residents in the tiny crown dependency over the decades, while helping to abolish one of the world's last remaining feudal systems. After successfully bringing democracy to the islands they subsequently closed down their businesses when voters failed to back their preferred candidates. Clermont-Tonnerre acknowledged that his play, which does not mention the Barclays by name but features two wealthy Britons who live in a castle on Brecqhou, was 'partly inspired' by the lives of the brothers. In the same way that Titanic was 'partly inspired' by a big ship sinking. But, he defended his right to freedom of expression and said that the play had been commissioned to 'explore the issues around the continued existence of medieval Norman law in the Channel Islands,' while 'ruminating on the nature and future of capitalism.' Barclay had asked for one hundred thousand Euros in damages for libel and violation of privacy and sought to have the work banned from being performed. However, the judges backed the playwright and theatres where the piece had been performed. 'In the text, there are no facts revealed that were unknown, egregious, intimate or even imaginary and pejorative which are likely to constitute a particularly serious intrusion into [Barclay's] life,' they said. The court instead ordered Barclay to pay six thousand Euros in 'moral damages' to the playwright, as well as five thousand Euros to each of the three theatre companies involved in producing the play for infringing their right to show the work. He was also ordered to pay thirty five thousand Euros in legal costs. Barclay's lawyer has said that Barclay is 'likely' to appeal against the ruling, which also - very amusingly - requires him to 'pay to publish a statement announcing his defeat in four French newspapers and magazines.' Barclay and his brother have owned the Torygraph since 2004. Their media outlets have backed Brexit and they held a party at the Ritz in honour of Nigel Farage to celebrate the 2016 EU referendum result. So, frankly, some people - exercising their own right to freedom of speech - may feel that they deserve everything they get. Don't come to this blogger for a definitive answer on that score, dear blog reader. Morice's colleague. Missiva Chermak-Felonneau, said: 'It has to be noticed that this well-reasoned decision is of critical importance for the freedom of artistic creation.' The court case could become an example of The Streisand Effect, inadvertently drawing attention to a previously rather obscure play which has been critically acclaimed but only played in small theatres. Further performances of Two Brothers & The Lions are scheduled for early 2020 in cities across France.
The Bank of Canada is pleading with Star Trek fans to stop 'Spocking' its five dollar bills. Since Leonard Nimoy's death, Canadians have reportedly been 'Spocking' the bills which features a portrait of Canada's seventh prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Sir Wilfrid now has, on certain bills at least, pointy ears, the signature Vulcan haircut and eyebrows and Spock's mantra 'Live long and prosper.' According to the Bank of Canada it is not, strictly speaking, illegal to do this but: 'There are important reasons why it should not be done. Writing on a bank note may interfere with the security features and reduces its lifespan. Markings on a note may also prevent it from being accepted in a transaction. Furthermore, the Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes are inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride.'
An explosion which injured a crew member on the set of the new - as yet unnamed - James Bond film will not be formally investigated, the Health and Safety Executive said. The crew member 'sustained a minor injury' in the blast at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire on 4 June. The outside of the 007 stage was also damaged in the 'controlled explosion.' An HSE spokesman said: 'After an initial assessment, we concluded there was no need for a formal investigation.' Filming for the twenty fifth movies in the official Bond franchise was taking place at the time of the incident at the studios in Iver Heath. The official James Bond Twitter account posted at the time that 'there were no injuries on set.' Which, one presumes, the chap that actually was injured may well have considered, you know, a bit previous. Guidance on the HSE website said it only investigates 'the most serious work-related incidents, injuries or cases of ill health.' A few weeks before the incident at Pinewood, yer actual Daniel Craig injured his ankle whilst filming in Jamaica. He had 'minor ankle surgery' after slipping while filming an action sequence.
For anyone that was wondering, dear blog reader, no yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though tragically unsellable) Magpies haven't been sold to any rich (or, indeed, not-rich) Arabs recently. Nor do they, currently, have a manager after they allowed the contract of the previous - popular, highly-respected and multi-trophy-winning - holder of that office to expire without persuading him to sign a new one. He is now, like The Shop Assistants, somewhere in China. Also, for a club that scored fifty one goals in the 2018-19 season, the scorers of twenty three of those fifty one goals are now no longer at the club. A club which, at the time of writing, have made a grand total of zero additions to its threadbare first team squad since last season ended. So, the summer is clearly going swimmingly up at St James' Park so far, dear blog reader. How about your team?
Not all pre-season friendlies are all that 'friendly.' Charlton Athletic were preparing for their return to the Championship by facing Romanian top-flight side Gaz Metan Medias on Thursday in what was intended to be a seventy-minute game. However, the action didn't even last that long as the match was abandoned after forty nine minutes. George Lapslie had given The Addicks a one-nil lead in the first half when, just minutes into the second period, they were awarded a penalty. This sparked what the club's own report called 'extremely distasteful scenes' and what others described as 'a mass brawl with kids gettin' punched and aal sorts.' Medias pair Valentin Cretu and Marius Constantin reportedly man-handled the referee, Raul Mateo, who showed red cards to both men. But, the double dismissal reportedly 'enraged' Medias head coach Edward Iordanescu, whose staff pleaded with the referee to be allowed to make substitutions instead of having players dismissed. When the referee insisted on their departure from the pitch, Iordanescu got all stroppy and discombobulated and withdrew all his players and the game was abandoned. 'It's disappointing and never nice to see. Rightly so, the referee stopped the game,' Charlton manager Lee Bowyer - himself no stranger to a bit of reet argy-bargy, of course - said. 'It would have been good if we could have got a game that was a bit longer, but overall I'm happy because we got a bit of a run around. Thankfully now, for us, it's better that it's ended this way so we can do a tough double session tomorrow.'
The Argentine Football Association has whinged to South American football's governing body over the 'serious and gross refereeing errors' in their Copa America semi-final defeat by Brazil. Tournament hosts Brazil made the final with a two-nil win in Belo Horizonte. The official complaint to CONMEBOL follows Lionel Messi's claims of 'crazy officiating.' The Argentine FA also accuses Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro of making a 'clear political demonstration.' AFA president Claudio Tapia sent a six-page letter to CONMEBOL in support of the team and Messi, who was particularly aggrieved that his side were not awarded a penalty by Ecuadorian referee Roddy Zambrano before Brazil's second goal. Speaking after the defeat, Barcelona forward Messi said: 'The officiating was crazy. There were clear penalties, on [Nicolas] Otamendi, on Kun [Sergio Aguero]. [The referee] was on their side. In every divided ball or dispute, he went their way.' Tapia said Zambrano 'unjustifiably omitted the use of VAR in at least two specific moves that clearly influenced the final result of the match.' He also questioned whether 'the principles of ethics, loyalty and transparency' had been observed during the match. South American news outlet GloboEsporte reported that Bolsonaro's security team had 'attempted to block signals,' which 'caused interference and communication failure' with the VAR system. However, the Brazilian local organising committee denied the presidential radio was the reason for the cut in communication with VAR and claimed the problem was resolved before kick-off. Far-right politician Bolsonaro - who performed 'an Olympic lap of honour around the stadium at half-time' - was voted in as El Presidente last October. Via, El President! Tapia pointed to FIFA and CONMEBOL rules that 'prohibit political demonstrations at a sports event.' Something the Argentines themselves might like to remember the next time someone things it's a good idea to have the team pose with a flag in support of reclaiming the Malvinas.
Subsequently, South American football bosses said that accusations questioning the integrity of the Copa America are 'unfounded and represent a lack of respect.' The whinging spoiled-brat Messi had claimed that the competition was 'corrupt' after he was sent-off in Argentina's two-one third-place play-off win over Chile on Saturday. 'The cup's fixed for Brazil,' he alleged, with his bottom lip wobbling, alarmingly. Messi was shown a straight red in the thirty seventh-minute, following a clash with Gary Medel, who was also dismissed. 'We don't have to be part of this corruption,' said Messi, stamping his foot and promising to scream and scream and scream until he was sick. Well, indeed, you don't. No one is forcing you to take part. 'They have showed us a lack of respect throughout this tournament. Sadly, the corruption, the referees, they don't allow people to enjoy football, they ruined it a bit.' CONMEBOL later released a statement, which did not directly refer to Messi, but said: 'A fundamental pillar of fair play is to accept the results with loyalty and respect. It is unacceptable that as a result of incidents typical in competitions, involving twelve teams, all on equal terms, unfounded accusations have been launched that lack the truth and question the integrity of the Copa America. These accusations represent a lack of respect for the competition, all the participating players and the hundreds of professionals of CONMEBOL.' Whether the association actually have the guts to now give Messi the kind of eye-wateringly lengthy ban which anyone else who wasn't the world's highest paid - and, most disgracefully over-indulged and pampered - footballer would get for making such comments remains to be seen. But, one wouldn't like a place a bet on such an outcome.
Sheikh Yer Man City's Gabriel Jesus scored once, assisted another goal, was sent off and pushed the VAR monitor to the ground as Brazil won a first Copa America title in twelve years, beating Peru three-one. Jesus set up Everton to volley in the opener before scoring the second. Paolo Guerrero had, briefly, given Peru hope when he equalised from the penalty spot minutes before Jesus struck. Jesus was then shown a second yellow with twenty minutes left but Richarlison's late penalty sealed the win for Brazil. Victory will have been a huge relief for Jesus, who was in tears when he was sent off, kicking a water bottle and then pushed the VAR monitor as he left the pitch. 'I want to apologise,' he said later. 'I could have avoided it and I also need to grow up a lot.' Whether this apparent contrition will save him for a similar pants-down hiding to the one that Mister Messi has coming his way is not, at this time, known. It is the ninth time Brazil have won the Copa America and is their first tournament success since winning a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics.
The Premier League will not be 're-refereeing' the game by VAR and will 'set a high bar for decisions,' according to referees' chief Mike Riley. Video assistant referees will be used in the Premier League from the start of the new season, after clubs agreed to their introduction. Riley and his team of referees have spent the past two years preparing and training all the match officials, including live trial matches and have been encouraged by the progress they have made. However, he stressed that VAR is still 'a work in progress. It will take us two or three years to get this right,' said Riley. He said there had been 'a reaction' to some uses of VAR at the Women's World Cup in France, but across Europe in other competitions it had been implemented successfully. 'You look at the work in Italy, you look at the work in Spain, the Netherlands and in Germany latterly and the more people get familiar with the process and work out how to harness it for the game I think the more comfortable people feel.' The key area for implementation of VAR in the Premier League is the height of the threshold to change original decisions and Riley believes working out when to intervene is the main challenge for the game as a whole, not just for referees. 'Where VAR has been implemented successfully in other competitions it's been a very high bar,' he said. 'We don't want VAR to come in and try to re-referee the game. We actually want it to protect the referees from making serious errors, the ones everybody's goes: "Well, actually, that's wrong." If we keep to that really high bar there is more chance of keeping the flow of the game, the intensity of the game and people enjoying the spectacle of it rather than constantly referring to the video screen for changing decisions.' During their trials in the Premier League last season - up to week thirty three - there were an average of eight checks per game, with the average check lasting twenty nine seconds. Riley stressed that the key to successful implementation of the system is communication. 'The way we get it right is by everyone in the game talking: players, managers, referees, fans, broadcasters. We'll all have an opinion, it's all valid,' he said. 'Between us, let's work out where we set that intervention. If we do that we'll create something that's really good for our game. At the forefront of our minds all the time are two things: minimum interference for maximum benefit and to maintain where possible the flow, intensity and speed of the game, because that's what people want to watch in Premier League football.' Other areas of debate from the Women's World Cup include the new laws surrounding handball, but Riley does not believe it is a problem in England. 'I actually think handball is in a really good place in this country and that's the message that we get from all the clubs - from the managers and the players - when we go and talk to them. We have a philosophy that says we want handball to be something that has an impact on the game. We are not looking for the ball to be striking arms and we do accept, when we are looking for what is an unnatural position for the arm, that arms move. We don't expect players to defend with their arms behind their back, nor do we expect forwards to try and drill the ball to the hand to win a free-kick. The way we've actually implemented handball for the past two or three seasons is the way we are going to continue to do it in the future.' He said, as an example, that the winning penalty for the Netherlands against Japan at the Women's World Cup would not have been awarded in the Premier League. 'We consider that to be a natural position of the hand. You don't expect defenders to have their arms glued to their side, so if the hand is in a natural position then it's not an offence,' he said.
Stevie Wonder will have a kidney transplant later this year, he has announced. The singer told the crowd about his medical condition as he finished his set at Hyde Park. He said that he had found a donor and would perform three more shows before the operation in September, saying: 'I'm all good.' Fans greeted the news with a loud, supportive cheer, applauding the sixty nine-year-old singer as he left the stage. He had just finished playing 'Superstition' when he told the crowd he wanted to prevent 'rumours' spreading about his health. 'I'm all good, I have a donor and it's all good,' he said. 'I want you to know, I came here to give you my love and thank you for your love.' The NHS says that the most common reason for needing a transplant is kidney failure or end-stage chronic kidney disease. It is possible to donate a kidney while still alive as people only need one kidney to survive. Wonder's support act at Saturday's gig was his friend Lionel Richie.
A very strange article publicising a book by Karl Whitney called Hit Factories: A Journey Through the Industrial Cities of British Pop appeared this week in the Evening Chronicle claiming - with very little supporting evidence - that Saturday Night Fever 'had its roots in the 1960s Newcastle music scene.' It didn't, or anything even remotely like it (not, specifically, Newcastle, anyway), but it was an excuse for the Crocodile to dig into their archives and find a really nice photo of the site of The Club A-Go-Go on Percy Street (and, some of the legendary acts that played there). Where have all the Club A-Go-Gos went went, you may be wondering, dear blog reader? Good question.
Jaguar Land Rover is investing hundreds of millions of pounds to build a range of electric vehicles at its Castle Bromwich plant in Birmingham. Initially the plant will produce an electric version of the Jaguar XJ. JLR says that the move will 'help secure' the jobs of two thousand seven hundred workers at the plant. The one thing they didn't explain was why they believe anyone who wishes to purchase a car as inherently beautiful as a Jag would go for an electric one. The news follows January's announcement, when the firm said it would cut four and a half thousand jobs, with the majority coming from the UK. JLR has not announced when it will launch the battery version of the XJ, but it will replace the petrol and diesel versions which have been made since 1968. The company's chief executive, Professor Ralph Speth, called on the government to 'put more effort' into providing charging points for electric cars. 'The current charging infrastructure is not really sufficient to cover the country, nor the hot spots of the cities,' he said in an interview with the BBC. 'The government has to govern the process,' he added. JLR's announcement comes a day after a report showed that in June sales of low emission cars had fallen for the first time in more than two years. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said efforts to sell such cars were 'being undermined' by 'confusing policies' and 'premature' removal of subsidies. In response, the government claimed its focus on zero emission models had 'been a success,' with registrations of battery electric vehicles up over sixty per cent this year compared with the same period in 2018. One or two people even believed them. According to another report, even if the nation switches to electric vehicles, car use will still need to be curbed. The Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions warned that electrifying cars 'will not address traffic jams, urban sprawl and wasted space for parking.' The investment decision by JLR appears to contradict previous warnings by the firm that investment in the UK would be threatened by Brexit and, in particular, a no-deal scenario. However, industry experts say that JLR could not wait to see the outcome of the Brexit, as it needed to update its range of vehicles. 'Given where it is in its product life cycle it [JLR] has to make this decision. The capacity is at Castle Bromwich and there's research and development nearby as well, so they've basically run out of time on this decision,' David Bailey, a professor of business economics at Birmingham Business School, told the BBC's Today programme. He added that without the new investment the Castle Bromwich plant would 'effectively be dead.' The plant also produces the Jaguar XF, XE and F-Type. Investment in the UK car industry fell forty seven per cent last year from 2017 and the country is attracting a tiny fraction of the global investment in electric cars. VW alone is investing seventy billion knicker in Europe, the US and China. A no-deal Brexit would see new tariffs imposed on components and parts moving between the EU and the UK. Vauxhall's parent company said that without a deal it would not make the next generation Astra at Ellesmere Port.
Jodrell Bank Observatory has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has been at the forefront of astronomical research since its inception in 1945 and tracked US and Russian craft during the space race. The site, in Cheshire, is part of the University of Manchester. It is dominated by the landmark Lovell Telescope. It joins the ancient Iraqi city of Babylon and other locations that have been added to the prestigious list. The UN World Heritage Committee is meeting in Azerbaijan this week to decide on the latest sites to be given the honour - awarded to areas considered to be important for the whole of humanity, which will be protected by international treaties. Scientific research began at Jodrell Bank Observatory in 1945 when the physicist Sir Bernard Lovell came to the University of Manchester. The site pioneered the then new science of radio astronomy, which used radio waves instead of visible light to understand the universe. The Lovell Telescope, which was the world's largest telescope when it was completed in 1957, is now the third largest. Jodrell Bank was on standby as the UK's early warning system against any potential nuclear attack during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The Lovell Telescope tracked the first - unmanned - spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon in 1966, printing the first picture from the lunar surface. It is so sensitive that mobile phone use on the site is normally forbidden and the staff microwave oven is shielded by a metal box to prevent interference. The site has featured in the BBC's Stargazing Live series, as well as being used as a location in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and Doctor Who. The site's new accolade marks the end of a decade-long bid to gain World Heritage status, following a 2010 application to be included on the UK's nominations shortlist. Professor Teresa Anderson, director of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, said: 'This is wonderful news and a great day in the history of Jodrell Bank. It honours the pioneering work of Sir Bernard Lovell and the early scientists here, together with the world-leading research that continues to this day.' A University of Manchester spokeswoman said the observatory fulfilled the judges' criteria, which included being 'a masterpiece of human creative genius,' due to its scientific achievements. Jodrell Bank also hosts the headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array, an international project to create the world's largest radio telescope by linking thousands of dishes and receivers across Africa and Australia. The observatory is among thirty two sites in the UK - including Stonehenge, Hadrian's Wall, the cities of Bath and Edinburgh, the Tower of London and the Giant's Causeway - to have received World Heritage status and joins a list of eleven hundred sites worldwide.
Southern California was hit by its strongest earthquake in two decades on Thursday. The epicentre of the 6.4 magnitude tremor was near the city of Ridgecrest, which is about one hundred and fifty miles North-East of Los Angeles. Tremors continued to be felt on Friday, as emergency crews fought fires and provided medical assistance to people. The quake was felt from Las Vegas in Nevada to Los Angeles on California's Pacific coast. It hit at 10:33 local time on the US 4 July Independence Day holiday. On Friday morning at 4:15am, a tremor measuring 5.4 struck. Los Angeles fire officials said that there were no immediate reports of additional damage. There was significant damage in Ridgecrest, which lies South-West of the epicentre, local geophysicist Professor John Rundle told the BBC. He added that it was 'fortunate' the quake had happened far away from major population centres. Roads were cracked and broken and power lines fell to the ground after the earthquake, which also shattered glass and cracked the walls of some homes in the region. The Ridgecrest Regional Hospital was evacuated, the Kern County Fire Department said. The service has responded to 'nearly two dozen incidents' ranging from medical assistance for minor injuries to fires. The quake also struck near China Lake - the bomb testing facility of the US Navy, where weapons and aircraft are put to through their paces. One official from the facility told AFP news agency there was 'substantial damage' - including fires, water leaks and hazardous materials spills. Brad Alexander, a spokesman for California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, said on Thursday that fire engines and search and rescue teams were going to assist in the Ridgecrest area, where he believed there were a number of buildings on fire. 'This may not be over. There could be more earthquakes happening in the area and anyone listening that's in that region should be prepared to drop, cover and hold on,' he warned. Governor of California Gavin Newsom declared an emergency for the areas affected, as concern for potential aftershocks heightened. In interviews, he called on California residents to 'have a plan in place' in case more earthquakes strike. Which, of course, they did - one of them measuring 7.1. The mayor of Ridgecrest, Peggy Breeden, said that some people had been struck by objects falling from buildings and gas lines had been broken. 'We are used to earthquakes but we're not used to this significance,' she said. Los Angeles' early warning system did not send an advance alert to many residents in the region, the LA Times reports - because the forecast 'did not meet the threshold of severity' for Los Angeles County. In the end, the shaking was 'worse than expected for some people.' President Donald Rump tweeted that 'the situation was under control.' Mind you, this was one day after he had confidently stated that the US army 'took over airports' during the 1775 War of Independence so, you know, it might be an idea to take his comments with a pinch of salt. Lucy Jones, a seismologist with the US Geological Survey, told reporters the epicentre was 'in a relatively uninhabited area.' She said there would 'likely' be 'a number' of aftershocks, some powerful. This blogger is happy to report that, as far as he knows, all of his California-based fiends are okay and so are their homes. And their relatives. And their pets. In many cases, they actually seemed to be far more bothered about their pets than either their homes or their relatives. Which is understandable.
The Rump administration has been described as 'inept, insecure and incompetent' in a series of leaked e-mails from the UK ambassador to Washington. Which is pretty embarrassing for all concerned but, also, really funny. Sir Kim Darroch said that the White House was 'uniquely dysfunctional' and 'divided' under the leadership of the Rump. But he also warned that the US president 'should not be written off.' The Foreign Office said that the leak of the memos to the Scum Mail on Sunday was 'mischievous' but, perhaps significantly, did not deny their accuracy. The White House has not yet responded to the revelation of the memos contents, but it could test the so-called 'special relationship' between the US and UK. In the messages, Sir Kim said: 'We don't really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.' He questioned whether this White House 'will ever look competent.' Although Sir Kim said Rump was 'dazzled' by his state visit to the UK in June, the ambassador warned that his administration will 'remain self-interested,' adding: 'This is still the land of America First.' Differences between the US and the UK on climate change, media freedoms and the death penalty 'may come to the fore' as the countries seek to improve trading relations after Brexit, the memos added. To get through to the president, 'you need to make your points simple, even blunt,' he said. Justice Secretary David Guake said that it is 'very important' ambassadors give 'honest and unvarnished advice to their country.' He said: 'It is disgraceful that it's been leaked, but we should expect our ambassadors to tell the truth, as they see it.' In a message sent last month, Sir Kim described US policy on Iran as 'incoherent, chaotic.' Rump's publicly stated reason for calling off an airstrike against Tehran with ten minutes to go - that it would cause one hundred and fifty casualties - 'doesn't stand up,' Sir Kim claimed. Instead, he suggested the President was 'never fully on board' and did not want to reverse his campaign promise not to involve the US in foreign conflicts. Sir Kim said it was 'unlikely that US policy on Iran is going to become more coherent any time soon' because 'this is a divided administration.' The leaked files date from 2017 to the present day, covering the ambassador's early impressions that media reports of 'vicious infighting and chaos' in the White House were 'mostly true.' They also give an assessment of allegations about collusion between the Rump erection campaign and Russia, saying 'the worst cannot be ruled out.' The investigation by Robert Mueller has since found some of those claims were 'not proven.' A Foreign Office spokesman said that the views of diplomats were 'not necessarily the views of ministers or indeed the government. But we pay them to be candid.' He said ministers and civil servants would handle this advice 'in the right way' and ambassadors should be able to offer it confidentially. The UK embassy in Washington has 'strong relations' with the White House and these would continue, despite 'mischievous behaviour' such as this leak, the spokesman claimed. One or two people even believed them.
Three people have been gored during the first bull run at the annual San Fermín festival in Pamplona. Officials say those with injuries are two US citizens and a Spaniard. Two men were also taken to hospital with head injuries and a total of forty eight others were treated by the Red Cross. Further runs will take place every morning through the Northern Spanish city's narrow streets until next Sunday. Those taking part, most dressed in white with red scarves, packed into the course - which leads downhill to the town's bull ring. Six bulls are released daily, along with steers, before later facing professional matadors in public bull fights. Injuries at the event are common and at least sixteen people have died taking part since 1910, when records began. The last person to die at the festival, Daniel Jimeno Romero, was gored in the neck in 2009. A forty six-year-old Californian man gored in the neck on Sunday required surgery, the Associated Press reports. The other injured American is reportedly a twenty three-year-old from Kentucky, who was gored in the thigh along with a forty-year-old Spanish man. The festival attracts thousands of revellers from around the world. It also involves religious processions, parties and concerts and was depicted in the 1926 Ernest Hemingway novel The Sun Also Rises. Bull fighting and running is regularly criticised by animal rights activists. On Friday, they demonstrated on Pamplona's streets - dressed in horns and lying down with fake spears in their backs.
A man caught masturbating on a train to Newcastle reportedly told police that he had been doing it 'on-and-off for an hour-and-a-half' to 'relieve stress.' Jordi Cornelius Yebouet was caught when a female Network Rail staff member sat next to him on the busy service from Kings Cross in March this year. Newcastle Crown Court heard that the 'horrified' witness saw Yebouet making 'slow methodical movements' with his hand on his crotch. Prosecutor Chris Knox said that the woman 'noticed his movements' becoming 'more vigorous' and told him: 'I hope you're not doing what I think you're doing.' But, after claiming that he wasn't doing whatever she believed he was doing - whatever that was - and turning away, the twenty four-year-old 'appeared to start again later on.' The court heard that the woman had to get off the train at York but was 'upset and worried' for other passengers, including two elderly ladies who were sitting nearby. When the train arrived at Newcastle, Yebouet was spoken to by police, admitting that he had been masturbating 'to relieve stress.' Knox told the court: 'He said that he had been doing this for an hour-and-a-half, off-and-on, but said he had never ejaculated.' Yebouet pleaded extremely guilty to outraging public decency. The court heard that he had taken drugs the night before after celebrating a friend's graduation and was 'in some kind of stupor.' Knox said when the witness sat next to Yebouet he was 'wearing shorts and had a sweatshirt covering his crotch. She was concerned that he was masturbating so she tried to show him she had a Network Rail jacket and identity card, trying to dissuade him from what he appeared to be doing. he noted that the movements became more vigorous and two other women were sitting on the same row.' Knox said: 'She thought he was concealing what he was doing although she couldn't see an erection. She had to get off the train but as soon as she left the train at York she contacted the police. She describes herself as being "angry, not least because she had given him the chance to stop what he was doing."' Tony Cornberg, defending, said: 'This was out of character for him, as was the taking of drugs the night before. It was not behaviour targeted at anybody, we even hear about him turning away. It all took place under clothing' "He expresses understanding and empathy for the witness's shock and distress.' Judge Robert Spragg sentenced Yebouet, who has no previous convictions, to a twelve month community order, requiring him to carry out fifteen days 'rehabilitation activity' and eighty hours of unpaid work.
From The North has, once again, been getting a lot of overseas visitors of late - it seems to happen every summer for some unexplained reason. As this handy map of the locations of our lovely dear blog readers demonstrates. Still a significant lack of any regulars from the Federated States of Micronesia, though. Come of Federated States of Micronesia, this blogger knows you've got computers over there.
And finally, dear blog reader ...

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