Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

January 2011

1st January 2011

The Resolution Will Not Be Televised
Posted by at 3.14pm | It's My Life | No responses

I’ve decided to make public my new year’s resolutions and hope that this gives me more motivation to keep to them. There are only three, and none of them are too exciting, but here they are anyway:-

  1. Lose the weight – I don’t need to drop much but this has been on my list every year for as long as I can remember. This year, however, I’m confident that I will actually succeed. Ignore the fact that I’m drinking a can of (non-diet) Coke while writing this blog.
  2. Travel – I made a good start last year with visits to Scotland, Brighton and London. This year I’d like to go abroad somewhere – maybe Paris, Berlin or – if I’m feeling particularly adventurous – somewhere in the USA.
  3. Make a video blog – written blogs are all well and good, but wouldn’t my ramblings be much better if you could actually see and hear me rather than just reading my writings? Er, probably. Anyway, I have a YouTube account which is itching to get some proper content on it. Be afraid, internet, be very afraid.

The secret to new year’s resolutions is to make them achievable and realistic. So this year I have left off “cure world hunger”.

2nd January 2011

Site for Sore Eyes
Posted by at 1.03am | Meta | 1 response

Well, there we go, the new design is now live. If you’re reading via the RSS site feed or Facebook, click through to the site proper to see it.

I think it’s beyond doubt that the site needed a revamp. Frankly, the yellow was starting to hurt my eyes. The last redesign was over six years ago – I found references to Movable Type, the blogging software I ditched in 2005, in the templates.

Some pages buried deep in dusty corners of the site still have the old design and I will get to them… eventually.

There will probably be lots of tweaks and adjustments to be made over the coming weeks. Overall, though, I think it’s a big improvement. What do you think? Comments are, of course, welcome.

If you hate the new look, bear in mind that it can never look as shit as this short-lived effort from 2004.

3rd January 2011

Starr Trek: Regeneration

The house where Ringo Starr was born is scheduled to be demolished as part of a regeneration scheme for the “Welsh Streets” area of Toxteth, against the wishes of campaigners who are battling to save it.

There has been a new development about the redevelopment:-

THE campaign to save Ringo Starr’s birthplace was today given a glimmer of hope by Housing Minister Grant Shapps who has called on Liverpool City Council to allow the property a reprieve while the public have their say.

The question I have to ask is: WHY?! This is a different situation to Lennon and McCartney’s childhood homes, where the pair actually wrote and rehearsed some of their early songs together. Starr only lived in this house until he was three years old, so there is no Beatles history of any significance here.

All this is doing is delaying a hugely important regeneration scheme. I hope Liverpool City Council stand firm under the pressure and press ahead with the scheme, so the people who actually live in the area don’t have to put up with the the grot any longer.

7th January 2011

Hello-o-o, Nurse!
Posted by at 7.29pm | In the News, Stage | No responses

A pantomime starring Jim Davidson has been accused of breaching the Geneva Convention, but not for inhumane treatment of its audience. Says the BBC:

The dress worn by Nurse Poltis in the Pavilion Theatre production of Robin Hood originally had red crosses on the hat and tunic.

These were changed to green crosses after the British Red Cross informed the theatre it was breaking the law and could face prosecution.

Apparently, the Red Cross symbol is protected by law. According to the British Red Cross, depicting its emblem in this context could lead to its effectiveness being diluted. Personally, I doubt many people living in war zones will have a chance to visit Glasgow to see the show.

I’m not sure how seriously the Red Cross pursue infringers, but I think the makers of hen party sexy nurse outfits should be very worried.

According to the Glasgow Pavilion web site, the show also features Colin and Justin. Given Davidson’s previous form, I bet that led to some — ahem — “interesting” backstage conversations.

15th January 2011

Palin into insignificance

The terrible events in Tucson, Arizona last week saw many people leaping to accuse right-wing politicians and pundits of whipping up violence. Sarah Palin attempted to rebut the accusations in an online video which was remarkably tone deaf, even before she used the phrase “blood libel” to describe the attacks on her. Luckily, some enterprising soul edited out all the offensive parts and uploaded it to YouTube:-

Go and read Media Matters web site about the misinformation spread by right wing pundits, not just on blogs and Fox News, but throughout all media. This is the sort of stuff that is coming our way if Murdoch et al get their way and politically-biased news broadcasts are permitted. Be afraid…

17th January 2011

Creamy goodness in my mouth
Posted by at 8.31pm | In the News | 2 responses

My guilty pleasure in life is Starbucks. Many’s the time I can be found in the back of one of their outlets, slurping a Caramel Cream Frappucino.

Sadly even their Venti cup size is too small for my taste, and there is never quite enough whipped cream and little bits of ice to satisfy me. But now, help is at hand, as a new larger cup size is being rolled out. Reuters reports:-

The Trenta is 7 ounces larger than Starbucks’ “Venti” cup for iced drinks, which currently is its largest size on offer.

If they introduce these in the UK, my diet is officially over, for ever.

18th January 2011

Room Service
Posted by at 11.04pm | Gay, In the News | 1 response

Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy wanted to do something that most couples take for granted – spend a relaxing weekend away in a country hotel. However, the owners of the hotel had other ideas, and turned them away because allowing a gay couple to sleep together in a double bed would contravene their religious beliefs.

Today the couple have been awarded compensation by the Court, and quite right too. It is 2011, and this sort of discrimination should be consigned to history, just like the horrible “NO COLOUREDS” signs which could be seen in the windows of many B&Bs not so long ago.

The usual people have been complaining about “persecution” of Christians (yes, the BBC got a quote from the Christian Institute). On Comment is Free, Stonewall’s Ben Summerskill tells them to get some perspective:-

Within the past three weeks, dozens of Christians have been murdered in acts of organised violence in Iraq, Egypt and Nigeria. In Pakistan, Sudan and Indonesia hundreds of thousands more live in fear.

They might all have something to say about the fatuous suggestion that two British hotel owners, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, are also being “persecuted” for their faith.

The rest of the article is well worth reading.

19th January 2011

Local TV for Local People
Posted by at 9.50pm | Television | 1 response

Obnoxious Tory-boy Jeremy Hunt has outlined proposals for new local TV stations which would serve cities and conurbations rather than the larger areas covered by the current BBC and ITV regions.

Hunt was supposedly inspired by America, where city-based TV stations are the norm. But the idea isn’t new: for a brief period in the late 90s, Liverpool was blessed with not one, but two local channels available on cable. This seemed to be a reaction to the perceived Manchester bias of BBC North West and Granada Television, with the Scouse chip-on-shoulder exploited to maximum effect.

Read the rest of this post »

24th January 2011

Angry old woman surprisingly has column in Daily Mail
Posted by at 8.30pm | Gay, In the News | 1 response

Melanie Phillips, not unusually, uses her Daily Mail column today to rail against the “gay agenda”. The inspiration for her ire is a new government plan to make make school lessons more gay-inclusive. She believes the new schools policy is part of a “ruthless campaign by the gay rights lobby”:-

Alas, this gay curriculum is no laughing matter. Absurd as it sounds, this is but the latest attempt to brainwash children with propaganda under the ­camouflage of ­education. It is an abuse of childhood.

Phillips seems to want schools to pretend that gay people don’t exist. However, school children are already very aware of gay people — usually as something to fear, victimise and abuse. The school playground remains a hot-bed of anti-gay bullying fuelled largely by ignorance and intolerance. Education is badly needed to overcome this problem and the government’s plans are a good start. Maybe along the way, these lessons will even infuse gay kids (and many of them will know, or at least be questioning, by the age of 11 or 12) with a tiny bit of self-worth.

It has already worked well for one London school, which claims to have eradicated anti-gay bullying by teaching LGBT history to its pupils. This is not propaganda, it is simply affording gay people their rightful place in society, alongside everyone else.

Melanie Phillips doesn’t stop there, however. She goes on to discuss the recent hotel discrimination case:

The bed and breakfast hoteliers Peter and Hazelmary Bull — who were recently sued for turning away two homosexuals who wished to share a bedroom — were but the latest religious believers to fall foul of the gay inquisition merely for upholding ­Christian values.

Homosexuality is incompatible with Christian values? Someone had better tell the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, who praised the recent Court decision. Excluding people is not a way to uphold Christian values.

Anyway, Phillips has really got the flow going now, and picks up on yet another example of the “gay agenda” — the negative reaction to appointment of an anti-gay doctor to the government Drugs Advisory Board.

For he is also a leading member of the Manchester-based Maranatha Community, which is dedicated to re-establishing ­Christian values in society and which campaigns against gay rights.

Philips makes Dr Raabe sound like a fairly moderate person. However, according to Pink News, he also wrote a briefing document describing homosexuality as “destructive” and associated with disease and drug use. Another paper co-authored by Dr Raabe linked the “gay lifestyle” to paedophilia. In summary, Dr Raabe’s views are not exactly mainstream.

Really, it’s just the same old canard (one that is quite popular with the Daily Mail): the gays are getting special treatment at the expense of others and it is now the “normal” people who are oppressed. If we ever get to the point where heterosexuals are prevented from marrying the person they love, unable to walk down the street holding hands for fear of violent retribution or forced to hide their private life if they want a career in professional sport, then I’ll concede that Melanie Philips has a point. Until then, she is wrong, wrong, wrong.

30th January 2011

Shropshire Star
Posted by at 6.18pm | Trains | 2 responses

On Friday, the UK rail industry said goodbye to the Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway Company, which was killed off after its parent company concluded that it would never turn a profit.

Wrexham and Shropshire train interiorI never experienced the joys of this company’s trains, although I’d hoped to try and arrange a ride sometime this year (procrastination FAIL).

The new Wrexham-Marylebone service was launched in 2008, restoring direct trains to London from Wrexham, forty years after they were withdrawn. For passengers, WSMR promised a railway experience akin to that of yesteryear, using refurbished ex-BR coaches with a spacious, roomy layout. Cooked meals, freshly prepared on board (no microwaved bacon baps here) were served at your seat. All this for far less than the fares of rival operator, Virgin Trains.

Read the rest of this post »