Monday, July 31, 2006

We know what you are against, but what are you for?

Hat tip to Dougal Paver at for his wise words on the war in Lebanon.

It got me wondering why Western liberals and so called progressives find it so easy to condemn the US, Britain and Israel. At the same time they see only what they want to see in the threat to our way of life from the virulent strain of militant Islam that lobs rockets into Israeli cities, flies planes into downtown New York and blows up the London Underground. I was reminded, however, that things were ever thus:

"The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States ..."
George Orwell's Notes on Nationalism in May 1945.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Journalism - a career fit for heroes

Kim Fletcher poses a question in the Media Graun this week.

"The question most people ask when they discover you work in newspapers is: "How do you decide what to write about?" The second question is: "My son/daughter is thinking of being a journalist. Would you recommend it?""

He then considers:
"What if papers are dying? Surely no responsible parent would promote a moribund industry to his child? The two consistent messages of hope are that papers have years in them yet and that no one believes the new digital world can do without journalism. The medium changes but the craft continues. Worryingly, though, papers do not need such big staff and the internet will not match the wage bills of traditional media."

What's fascinating is what he leaves out. The conclusion he doesn't see. It always surprises me that the Media Guardian and Press Gazette have a view of "journalism" that begins and ends with newspapers. Most journalists in this country work for magazines. Everything from Tripe Dressers Gazette to Hello! and Motor Cycle News. And Insider. In my experience there are good and bad work places, but ultimately they are what you make them.

Magazines that cover special interests or professional communities are more likely to be the defining reference points for people than the places they live. Sad, but true. The success of a magazine title is always how it serves a community. The failure of newspapers is always how they do not.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Nostalgia ain't what it used to be

Close your eyes and go back in time...Before the Internet...Before semi-automatics, joyriders and crack...Before SEGA or Super Nintendo...Way back......I’m talking about Hide and Seek in the park.The corner shop.Hopscotch.Butterscotch.Skipping.Handstands.Football with an old can.Fingerbob.Beano, Dandy, Buster, Twinkle and Dennis the menace.Roly Poly.Hula Hoops, jumping the stream, building dams.The smell of the sun and fresh cut grass.Bazooka Joe bubble gum.An ice cream cone on a warm summer night from the van that plays a tuneChocolate or vinilla or strawberry or maybe Neapolitan or perhaps ascrewball.Wait......Watching Saturday morning cartoons, short commercials or the flicks.Childrens Film Foundation, The Double Deckers, Red Hand Gang, The TomorrowPeople, Tiswas or Swapshop?, and `Why Don`t You`? - or staying up forDoctor Who.When around the corner seemed far away and going into town seemed like going somewhere.Earwigs, wasps, stinging nettles and bee stings.White dog shit.Sticky fingers.Playing Marbles. Ball bearings. Big `uns and Little `uns.Cops and Robbers, Cowboys and Indians and Zorro.Climbing trees.Building igloos out of snow banks.Walking to school, no matter what the weather.Running till you were out of breath, laughing so hard that your stomachhurt.Jumping on the bed. Pillow fights.Spinning around, getting dizzy and falling down was cause for giggles.Being tired from playing....remember that?The worst embarrassment was being picked last for a team.Water balloons were the ultimate weapon.Football cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle.Choppers and Grifters.Eating raw jelly. Orange squash ice pops.Remember when...There were two types of trainers - girls and boys, and Dunlop Green Flash -and the only time you wore them at school was for P.E.You knew everyone in your street - and so did your parents.It wasn’t odd to have two or three "best" friends.You didn’t sleep a wink on Christmas eve.When nobody owned a pure-bred dog.When 25p was decent pocket money.Curly Whirlys. Space Dust. Toffo`s.Top Trumps.When you would reach into a muddy gutter for a penny.When nearly everyone’s mum was at home when the kids got there.When any parent could discipline any kid, or feed him or use him to carry groceriesand nobody, not even the kid, thought a thing of it. When being sent to the head’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited amisbehaving kid at home.Basically, we were in fear for our lives but it wasn’t because of drive-byshootings, drugs, gangs etc.Parents and Grandparents were a much bigger threat! and some of us arestill afraid of them. Didn’t that feel good?Just go back and say, Yeah, I remember that! Remember when....Decisions were made by going "Ip Dip Dog Shit""Race issue" meant arguing about who ran the fastest.Money issues were handled by whoever was banker in "Monopoly".The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was germs.And the worst thing in your day was having to sit next to one.It was unbelievable that `British Bulldog 123` wasn’t an Olympic event.Having a weapon in school, meant being caught with a catapult.Nobody was prettier than Mum.Scrapes and bruises were kissed and made better.Taking drugs meant orange-flavoured chewable aspirin.Ice cream was considered a basic food group.Getting a foot of snow was a dream come true.Older siblings were the worst tormentors, but also the fiercestprotectors.If you can remember most or all of these, then you have LIVED.

Monday, July 17, 2006


We all seek it. We all crave it. Few of us achieve it.

Bloody hell, I'm 40 as of last week. And the more I think of it the one thing that I can say makes you happy is this: spend time with the people you love.

Easy for me to say, I've just had a brilliant birthday party. Thank you to everyone that came along. It was wonderful.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The dream is over

I edit a magazine called Insider, or to give it its full name North West Business Insider.

You can link to it and to my company on the link opposite, but this post is my leader column from the July issue, dealing with the BBC's potential move to Manchester.

The dream is over

A fit of pique from an over exuberant member of the team and the writing was on the wall. Once again a bitter defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory. Let the recriminations begin.
Unfortunately, no-one from Ask Developments or Manchester City Council will be sticking one on Cristiano Ronaldo, but there will be inquests and tears about how the City Council lost out on the chance to develop a new hub for the BBC in the city centre and what that lost opportunity may cost the city in the future.

This magazine desperately wishes it wasn’t so, but we have consistently said that the discussion around the BBC’s move to Manchester has been a case of over optimism, false promises and distorted perspectives.

To start with there should be and there probably will be a new home for the corporation. New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road is tired and in need of urgent refurbishment or the BBC should start again. If that is to be in Salford Quays, then fair enough, that’s the choice of the BBC themselves and the determination of the local authority over there and the developer to make the relocation a reality.

But hopes that hundreds of businesses will cluster around the BBC, wherever it is based is a nonsense. The centre of the British independent production and facilities industry is in Soho, central London. The BBC commissioners, for the most part, are located in a white elephant of a building called White City about six miles to the west and twelve stops on the central line.
Put that scenario in Manchester and the chances are new media companies and television producers will still want to be where the action is; the city centre, with or without a big building at Salford Quays.

Secondly, there are honest, good people working to bring more broadcasting output, ore channels and more jobs to the north of England. They include people like Martin Brooks and John Ryan, the head of BBC Radio Manchester. The North West deserves BBC 2, Radio Five Live, sport, children’s TV and a whole lot more. Because of internal resistance and because the BBC is terrible at delivering large scale projects, this will be watered down. The budget for the move has already been cut and the talk inside the BBC now is not “when” but “if” the move happens.

And finally, we’ve said this all along. It would be nice if the BBC came, but compared to everything else that’s going on, the economic benefits are bigger elsewhere. Let’s get some real work done.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

First past the post

Hello, this is the first blog from Michael Taylor at the Marple Leaf. I hope to find the time to post regularly. Subjects will vary from business related subjects to family life, local issues for Marple, where we live.