Robert Hampton

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October 2010

1st October 2010

London? Aye
Posted by at 10.31pm | Out and About, Stage | No responses

Northern Line mapI spent last weekend in London with Mum and my delightful sister Jenny. My previous experiences of our nation’s capital have never been more than 24 hours long. They were digestible, bite-size chunks — enjoyable, but always leaving me wanting more. So when the opportunity came along to book a package trip to London (from that company that advertises in the Liverpool Echo every night) I jumped at the chance. Return train tickets, two nights in a hotel and tickets to a West End show. What more could a person ask for?

I was slightly concerned with the price of the package deal, which worked out at about 200 quid each. Booking train, hotel and show separately would have come to much more than that. Had we skimped on quality for the sake of price? As it turned out, we didn’t need to worry.

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2nd October 2010

Capital Idea
Posted by at 11.35pm | Out and About | 1 response

Part two of a three (or four, depending on how this works out) part story.

On Saturday we were up and ready for breakfast around 9am. Hotel breakfasts are always disappointing to me and this unfortunately didn’t break the mould. It was buffet-style which is a nice idea in theory: it means you can help yourself to as much as you want. However in practice it means the food has usually been sitting out for half an hour on hotplates which fail to keep even a tiny amount of warmth in it, and the germs of the previous guests are all over it. And they ran out of bacon — how can you run out of bacon? It’s a breakfast staple!

Oh well, it was just about edible and set us up reasonably well for the day. Still, room for improvement here I think.

Did I show you my hotel room yet? I don’t think I did, so some pictures are reproduced below. I get ridiculously excited by mundane hotel room accoutrements: yes, there was a Corby trouser press and a little switch to turn on a “Do Not Disturb” light outside, which was immediately switched on. I guard my privacy with the zealousness of a Premier League footballer.

My hotel room 1 My hotel room 2 Your Sky box is about to go into standby

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3rd October 2010

Reunion Square
Posted by at 10.50pm | Out and About | 1 response

The third and final part of my London diary

Sunday was our last day. Just time for breakfast (they had bacon but ran out of orange juice this time) and a last look at the view from our windows. On the left below is the view from my window, whereas my mum and sister had a room at the front of the hotel and had a great view out over Kensington Gardens themselves. JEALOUS.

View from Hotel Room 1 View from Hotel Room 2

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16th October 2010

Just for a change, a rant about transport

A familiar refrain from certain quarters during Labour’s time in office was that the government had declared “war on the motorist”. The phrase originated from right-leaning tabloid newspapers and was picked up enthusiastically by the Tory party as an easy vote-winner with its middle class base.

With Labour gone and Tory Philip Hammond (a man who thinks that trains should stop and wait for cars at level crossings) firmly entrenched in the Department for Transport, the war on the motorist is well and truly over. The final front has been closed, apparently, with the removal of the M4 bus lane.

On its own this would not make much difference: the war on the motorist was about as successful as the war on drugs, the war on obesity and the war on Iraq. However at the same time as ending the war on the motorist, the Government has declared a new war: on public transport users.

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20th October 2010

Another Uninformed Political Post
Posted by at 11.04pm | Politics | No responses

(typing this on a netbook with tiny fiddly keys, please forgive any typos)

I’ve been asked a few times if I feel stupid for voting Lib Dem in the last General Election. The answer I usually give is “yes and no” (a classic Lib Dem position if ever there was one).

“No” because back in May I genuinely believed that the Lib Dems were the best option for the country. This was not as a result of Cleggmania, that (very) temporary hysteria that surrounded the party leader following the televised debates. In fact, I had voted for the Liberal Democrats in every election since I became eligible to vote. I thought they offered something new and interesting, a genuine third way — untried and untested, but that is what’s needed.

“Yes” because the party has, in my view, betrayed the people who voted for it by going into Government with the Tories. At first I was hopeful that a Liberal Democrat presence in the cabinet would restrain the Conservatives and lessen the impact of harsh Tory policies. In fact, the so called “coalition” is really a Conservative government in practice, with Liberal Democrats simply rubber-stamping the policies. A few crumbs (the postponement of Trident, voting reform) cannot make up for threatening the future of the BBC, imposing steep rises in university fees and introducing massive cuts in benefits (and many people who receive benefits are in genuine need, not scroungers as the tabloids like to make out).

The cuts announced today are a case in point. I don’t doubt that cuts need to be made, but these cuts are too harsh and too fast.

I have no idea who I’m going to vote for next time. Maybe it will be Labour, if they get their act together and remember they’re supposed to help the working class, not send them to fight unjustified wars. Ed Miliband is making some of the right noises, so let’s see what happens.

27th October 2010

Meerkat Manor
Posted by at 8.28pm | Television | 2 responses

I’m not sure what to make of the news that “Simples!” has made it into the Collins dictionary.

Some people are speaking about this as if it marks another step in the decline and fall of our civilisation. Really though, it’s just another example of the power of advertising to infect the public consciousness. Aleksandr Orlov could soon in the same league as the Milkybar Kid and the Smash Martians.

To anyone who is offended by the ads (especially that Guardian columnist who claimed they were racist) I say: relax, it’s just a 30 second clip that you can fast forward through on Sky Plus anyway. Just resist the urge to punch those annoying people who say “Simples!” in real life, and everything will be fine.

Having said all that, releasing a book for Christmas might be taking things a bit too far…

I successfully resisted the urge to use the phrase, “calm down dear, it’s a commercial!” — oh…

29th October 2010

Talking Balls
Posted by at 6.57pm | Gay | No responses

Football has never really piqued my curiosity. The offside rule? Penalty shootouts? Meh. But one aspect of the modern game does interest me: when will we see an openly-gay professional football player?

It’s a question that nobody seems to want to address. The FA tried to follow up their successful anti-racism campaign with a similar one against homophobia earlier this year. It fizzled out after no major player would support it. When BBC Radio Five Live tried to survey Premiership clubs about attitudes to homosexuality, nobody answered.

Simon Barnes in the Times pointed out, back in 2006, there is a certain irony that a sport which relies on such close contact between men seems to have an entrenched homophobia. Yet it is there everywhere you look.

The precedents for gay men in the sport are not good. Justin Fashanu came out in 1990, the first (and so far, only) player to do so. Eight years later, with his career in tatters and disowned by his family — he committed suicide. Twenty years later, gay people are accepted in almost every walk of life — but still not football.

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