andrew's blog

Proof that there are more questions than answers, by Katie age 7

"Well, firstly you have the list of questions that have answers. Then you think of the list of questions that don't have answers. So obviously, there must be more questions than answers."

Labour's dangerous strategy

So Labour has a new strategy - try to embarrass the Conservatives. Their preferred weapon of choice is Daniel Hannan, UK MEP and darling of the American right, who has a rather amusing habit of saying incredibly sensible and completely batty things - often in the same sentence. Like so much of what Labour chooses to do, their plan is stupid:

(1) Every time the media refers to the latest thing Hannan has said (today's utterance is that he apparently admires Enoch Powell - yeah, well so what, one can admire someone without endorsing absolutely every statement they ever made), they have to remind us precisely who he is. And Hannan is still most famous as the man who eloquently and effectively made Gordon Brown cry when he tore strip after strip off the one-eyed Jock bastard in a European Parliament speech. So that's the clip they use. Not quite the message Labour wanted to endorse, methinks.

(2) Even worse, Hannan is very useful to Cameron. Hannan's extreme views on certain issues will make him very appealing to wavering Conservative voters who might be thinking of voting UKIP because they think Cameron is a Tony Blair wannabe. Seeing Hannan might be enough to keep them in the fold. Yet Cameron can easily dismiss Hannan as a 'mad aunt in the attic' sort of character. He's not an MP, he's an MEP, so it's possible to pretend he's not a Conservative while quite obviously allowing him to be one.

I rather suspect that in drawing attention to Hannan, Labour are playing with fire. You play with matches, you get burned.

It's Blackheath

So, the site of the Climate Change Camp is Blackheath.

This will truly put all their sustainability rhetoric to the test. They had better clean up every single last piece of litter behind them, or they will be exposed as a bunch of middle-class, pampered, spoiled jumped-up hypocritical brats.

I hereby pledge that if they don't clean up behind themselves to my satisfaction, I shall drown a panda in toxic waste to teach them all a lesson.

That said, I'm also mindful of the awful violence at yesterday's football match between West Ham and Millwall. It's vital that we find a way to neutralise the tensions between these teams' supporters and reconcile their differences.

I propose that we achieve this by finding them a common enemy, against which all supporters can unite. And what do football fans hate more than other teams' football fans?

That's right - hippies. So let's get all the fans down to Blackheath so they can k--k the s--t out of some climate change protesters.

In the name of peace, naturally.

On US healthcare

From an e-mail to a dear friend, but probably also bloggable:

There is much amusement here at the American hysteria over the very idea of socialised healthcare. Not that all the concerns are rubbish, but many of the arguments are. Best of all is the suggestion that we should be thankful that Professor Stephen Hawking doesn't live in the UK, because someone with his disabilities should surely have been left to die on the NHS. Dear SH felt moved to point out that (a) he does in fact live in the UK, (b) he has lived in the UK all his life, (c) he has received excellent treatment on the NHS throughout his life and (d) he was treated only in April this year at the (NHS) Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge! Healthcare is one of those things that is demanded most by the very young, very old and very poor, three groups that, by and large, don't have massive resources to call upon. It would, to my rather unsocialist brain at least, seem ripe for socialisation to ensure that the money is available to these groups when they need it, just as - say - roads are.

The cynic in me suggests that the real concern among the American right is that the US might find a way to cut its overall healthcare costs (15% of GDP) down to the level of UK healthcare spending (8%). Just how we can cover our entire population for about half as much as it costs the US to cover 80% of its population is left as an exercise for the reader. You may also wish to consider what the US might spend the potential $1trn saving on healthcare on!

Bloody bastard Bach!

Well, we finally bought a piano. It's a Perzina 129cm in black and it's gorgeous.

And I'm now playing again. I took ABRSM Grade 4 in about 1982 and was working towards Grade 6 or so when I left secondary school. That was it - no more formal piano playing for the best part of twenty years.

I have a couple of anthologies that I rescued from my sister's - they're both about Grade 5, which should be ideal for working up some new repertoire and getting my technique back.

Unfortunately I decided to work on Bach's Little Prelude No. 4 in D (BWV 936). This piece has a bit of a reputation (see a great little discussion here). Most of the piece is in three parts, which move independently. Howard Ferguson, the editor of the book, really needs to explain what this is doing in a Grade 5 anthology!

The Canadian grade system considers this to be a Grade 8 (of 10) piece. By contrast, the Prokofiev Waltz, which was in my Grade 6 1987 syllabus is Canadian Grade 7. I reckon the Bach should be a tricky Grade 6 here - at least tricky to play well. And in fact, it turns out that the London College of Music has it as a Grade 7 piece in its syllabus.

But will I let it beat me? No way!

[Footnote: I don't know whether the LCM exams are comparable to ABRSM. It has the Beethoven Bagatelle Op 119/3 in Grade 6. I'd consider that a Grade 5 piece, probably, but then again I find my 1987 Grade 6 pieces fairly easy too! I guess I must have practised them more than I remember.]


I don't see Nick Raynsford's name on this list.

He really is a total waste of space. He only ever seems to turn up to Parliament to promote pro-building policies (which then benefit him as a bigwig in the building trade) or when he's being whipped by the party. Can we have an election yet?

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