George Michael

Anyone who has heard Wham!’s Ray of Sunshine knows that George Michael understood the joy that music can bring to people’s lives. I was a teenager in the 80s, and I was a Whamette. I loved other music too, particularly Queen, but Wham! were my teenage love band. I had my first slow dance with a boy to Careless Whisper.

Then Wham! came to a natural end, George went solo, and I stayed a fan. His voice is still the most beautiful voice I have ever heard. There’s a lot being written today about his gay activism, his generous donations to charity and to individuals in need, and, of course, his incredible talent. One day soon I’m sure I’ll be ready to think about all of those things, and to listen to the joyful songs – Club Tropicana, Outside, Amazing, Bad Boys, but for now, all I feel is grief and loss and sadness.

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Who You Gonna Call?

Just back from seeing new Ghostbusters. Loved it. It’s more or less the same plot as the first Ghostbusters (in the same way that The Force Awakens is more or less the same plot as A New Hope), and it’s just as enjoyable. And, the Ghostbusters themselves are four women who are intelligent, funny, brave, loyal, determined, and completely kick-ass while remaining fully clothed and avoiding cat-fights. A film like this was well overdue.

Travel Writing by Women

The Scottish Book Trust have done a recommendation of travel books written by women, and included a link to Bani Amor’s blog where she explores travel narratives by QUILTBAG individuals and people of colour.

I really need to win the lottery so I can spend less time at work and more time reading. The number of books on my “I want to read this” list on my Edinburgh libraries account is into the hundreds.

Everyone’s Entitled to Due Process

As already stated, I’m no fan of Jeremy Clarkson or Top Gear and I couldn’t give a shit if Top Gear is off the air.

I don’t know what disciplinary offence he committed, and neither do any of the public who are clamouring for his instant dismissal or his immediate reinstatement and recommendation for sainthood. What I do know is that in an organisation like the BBC, there will be clear policies and procedures for managing disciplinary matters. Suspension is usually used as a last resort, to remove someone from a workplace so that a full investigation can be carried out without people feeling scared to say what they saw and heard or pressured to say something did or didn’t happen. A suspension isn’t a punishment or a conviction. While the person is suspended, the management team will investigate the alleged incident, get statements from witnesses, and decide whether or not there is enough evidence to warrant a formal disciplinary hearing. After the disciplinary hearing, if the allegations are upheld, disciplinary action would be taken against the person and that might be dismissal, demotion, oral or written warnings or other.

At this stage, Clarkson has been suspended. If the rumours are true and the allegations are that he punched someone, then suspension is entirely appropriate during the investigation. The BBC have a responsibility to keep their staff safe and allowing someone suspected of violence to remain at work would be unacceptable. Equally, Clarkson is entitled to a safe workplace too, and it might not be appropriate for him to remain at work in an atmosphere of tension, until the investigation is complete.

Everyone involved in this incident is entitled to have their views heard in a safe process, and to feel that their concerns have been taken seriously. And all those people clamouring for Clarkson to be reinstated need to remember that it’s not ok for celebrities to be immune from normal disciplinary processes just because they’re famous and bring the money in. Remember how well that worked out with Jimmy Savile?

Call It What It Is: Rape

I have no idea whether or not the press stories about Prince Andrew are true or not. My first thought is that I find it hard to believe anyone in his position would be stupid enough to do what he’s been accused of doing. My right-behind-my-first-thought second thought is that if the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that some men in positions of privilege do what they want without fear of consequence, and that we should always believe people who say they have been abused.

But what is really pissing me off is that the news media keep referring to “sex with an underage girl” and that the girl was “forced to sleep with” the prince. There is a word for “sex with an underage girl” and there is a word for being “forced to sleep with” someone. That word is rape, and refusing to use it doesn’t make the crime any less horrific.

The end of Andy Murray’s Wimbledon is not the end of his world

When England won the men’s football world cup in 1966, they can’t possibly have imagined that the press would still be going on about it nearly 60 years later as if they had an unalienable right to win it every four years forever more, and that subsequent failures to do so would be treated as some great galactic injustice rather than with acceptance of the fact they just weren’t good enough.

So when Andy Murray became the first British man to win the Wimbledon singles title last year, it was obvious that the press would struggle with the thought that he might not win again last year – he’s won it once therefore he should automatically win it again until he decides he’s had enough. He played very well in the first week and didn’t lose a set. Then yesterday he played badly and lost badly, and Wimbledon 2014 is over for him.

The press seem to be taking it as a personal affront. How could this happen? WHY DID YOU LOSE ANDY TELL US WHY DID YOU LOSE HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US WHY DID YOU LOSE? There must be, according to the assorted British press (and by British, I mean based in England), some sinister reason for his poor form and defeat. Accepting that he had a bad day, played badly and was beaten by the better player seems to be beyond them.

And now the doom merchants are trying to suggest that his career is over – he’s lost a tournament and it’s the beginning of the end. Because of course when someone raises our expectations and sense of entitlement by winning something, if they later go on to lose, it must be because they’ve somehow become intrinsically rubbish.It’s not just they played badly, or someone else played better.

Dear England-based British sports media – Andy Murray is a great tennis player. He played really well last week, played badly yesterday, and will probably play really well again in the future and sometimes he might play badly. It’s not the end of the world, or his career. OK?

(and don’t even get me started on the “it’s because his coach is a woman” brigade. Seriously, just don’t).

Jeremy Clarkson did NOT call for striking public sector workers to be shot in front of their families

Look, I dislike Jeremy Clarkson as much as the next person. He’s an embarrassment to Yorkshire. He says horrible things, Top Gear is shit, and he’s just a crap old man in bad jeans who shouldn’t have a media platform. If he was muttering “eenie meenie minie moe, catch a nigger* by the toe,” then the BBC should sack him. But he didn’t call for striking public sector workers to be shot in front of their families.

Jeremy Clarkson on The One Show

I was a striking public sector worker that day. I got up at the crack of dawn, picketed my workplace, attended a radio debate, stewarded the Edinburgh march and went to the rally. I was as invested in, and supportive of, the strike and the campaign as any other public sector worker. And I came home, and I watched The One Show.

The One Show, that evening, had a fairly lengthy report about the strike and the reasons for it. If I remember correctly, they had vox pops with quite a few of the striking workers. Then they went back to the studio, and they let Clarkson talk. He had nothing sensible to say about the strike, but a) it’s The One Show – when do they ever say anything sensible? and b) it’s Clarkson. He might be a man who thinks and feels things very deeply, but his public persona doesn’t give that impression, unless you count his attention to motorised metal and glass boxes. So he muttered for a minute about how the strike was great because London was quieter and it was easier to drive about, which is not a comment on the rights or wrongs of the strike, or on the rights or wrongs of the government’s attacks on public sector workers. It’s just Clarkson doing his shtick of trivialising important events to promote his image as a petrol-headed fuckwit. And then he said “but this is the BBC so we have to have some balance” and then he went on to say that striking workers should be executed in front of their families.

Anyone who believes for a second that he was serious or that he meant it is, somehow, too stupid to watch The One Show without a carer to explain it to them. His remarks, hilarious as they weren’t, were “the balance,” the extreme opposing view to his previous “support” of the strike on the grounds it was easier to hoon it around London that day. His tone of voice was sarcastic (is it still sarcasm if it’s 90% of what you say?), it was hyperbole, and it was clearly not meant to be taken seriously. It was in bad taste, particularly when you consider that in some countries trade unionists are murdered for their activities, but Clarkson is bad taste.

If you’re going to get angry at Clarkson, get angry because he was reported as saying that the people working on the Hyundai stand at the Birmingham motor show had “eaten a dog” and that the designer of the Hyundai XG had probably eaten a spaniel for his lunch. Get angry at Clarkson because during an episode of Top Gear, he made a mock Nazi salute, and made references to the Hitler regime and the German invasion of Poland by setting the GPS system of the car he was looking at to Poland. Get angry at him for calling Gordon Brown a one-eyed Scottish idiot and a silly cunt. Get angry because he suggested the Welsh language should be abolished, or because of his remarks about how to deal with people who commit suicide by jumping in front of trains, or because of his mockery of India and Indian people, or because of his attitude to the Health and Safety laws which protect many people in the course of their jobs, or because of his attitude to climate change, or because he drove a car into a tree to see what would happen to the car, or because he punched Piers Morgan. No, wait, not that last one.

If you don’t like how Clarkson attempted to mock the BBC’s need for balance by going for the most extreme criticism of striking workers his brain could think of, fine. I didn’t like it either. But please stop perpetuating the myth that he called for the execution of workers. He didn’t, it’s obvious he didn’t, and when people say he did, it makes it all too easy for him to claim that all the really horrible stuff he says is being taken out of context too.

 

 

 

 

*I would not say the word, but I see no point in not typing it. Writing it as n*gger or n***** or “the n-word” doesn’t stop people knowing what the word is, doesn’t protect anyone from anything, doesn’t mean the word wasn’t used. The way to stop the hurt and anger caused by the use of the word is to not use it, rather than to blank some of the letters out.

On Chris Moyles

The BBC reported yesterday that a court ruled that Chris Moyles attempted to avoid paying tax he owed. Moyles and two other men were accused of taking part in a scheme called “working wheels,” which allowed its members to say they had incurred large fees while working in the second-hand car trade. They could then claim back against their tax bill.

At the time he was in the scheme, Moyles was presenting the Radio 1 breakfast show, but the tax documents showed him as self-employed as a used car dealer. Moyles tweeted “Upon advice, I signed up to a scheme which I was assured was legal.”

Now, I am not an accountant, or any form of tax expert, but I do know what my job is, and I suggest Moyles knew what his job was at the time – he was a DJ for Radio 1. So why on earth would he think it was legal to claim to be a self-employed second-hand car salesman for tax purposes? Claiming to be a self-employed second-hand car salesman for tax purposes when you are in fact a highly-paid, extremely irritating, Radio 1 DJ is lying.Lying on tax forms is, er, lying. I am surprised that Chris Moyles doesn’t know that.

It seems to me that anyone who says they thought it was ok to lie on tax forms to avoid paying tax is either very very very stupid, or an outright liar.