mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.
No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford."

~ Samuel Johnson ~

On Thursday morning I fly to DC, drawing to a close over nine years in the UK. It seems fitting for such an occasion to delve into the memory bank and recollect how things have changed since I first moved here on a sunny May morning in 2007...

  • Tony Blair was still PM, Ming Campbell was Lib Dem leader and Ken Livingstone Mayor of London.
  • A woman had yet to serve as Britain's Home Secretary.
  • It was legal to smoke in pubs.
  • £1 was worth nearly $2.
  • Kate and Wills had just broken up.
  • Waterloo Station was still the Eurostar terminus.
  • Free newspapers thelondonpaper and London Lite were still in production and you had to pay for The Evening Standard.
  • Steve McClaren was England's football manager and the national team had yet to play at the new Wembley.
  • Portsmouth FC, now in the fourth tier, had just finished 9th in the Premier League.
  • Mourinho was Abramovich's only managerial appointment.
  • There was no equal prize money at Wimbledon between men and women.
  • The Digital Switchover had yet to begin.
  • Britain's Got Talent, Outnumbered, Would I Lie To You & Only Connect hadn't aired; Parkinson & Grange Hill were still on.
  • The iPhone hadn't been released yet.
  • Spain hadn't won a football World Cup or European Championships since 1964.
  • Pep Guardiola had yet to manage Barcelona and therefore hadn't won any of his 15 major trophies to date.
  • Djokovic had not won a Grand Slam yet, Nadal just 3 and there was only one British appearance in a final since 1977.
  • Myspace was the most popular social network, Twitter was just a year old (with fewer than 700,000 users) & Facebook had 20 million active users (it's now over a billion).
  • Justin Bieber hadn't been 'discovered' yet, Lady Gaga hadn't released her first album and Taylor Swift was still unheard of despite having released her first album.
  • Jennifer Lawrence had not acted in a film yet.
  • And finally, a little-known African American senator from Illinois had just announced his candidacy to the US presidency.

I hope I return to Blighty 21 months from now. I'm sure the time will fly. But my life has not quite gone according to plan until now, so who knows what the future holds. What I do know is that my lifelong love affair with The Great Wen and all things British will never diminish. So long Great Britain and its great people, thank you for all the wonderful memories.

Signing out for the last time on this side of the pond (for now), this is That Bloke in the Big Smoke.
mcgillianaire: (India Flag)

The documentary banned in India. If this video is removed then I will try and replace it with one that works.
mcgillianaire: (South Park Me)

"Lottery commercials are incredibly seductive and they're also everywhere. States spend half a billion on them every year and the reason they do that, is [that] the lottery is a massive moneymaker for them. Last year alone, lottery sales totalled about $68 billion. That's more than Americans spent last year on movie tickets, music, porn, the NFL, Major League Baseball, and video games, combined. Which means Americans spend more on the lottery than they spent on America." (Gorra love John Oliver.)
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)

I watched this video for the first time a few days ago and it inspired me to make an entry about the interviewee, Enoch Powell. Little did I know that I'd be posting it here tonight because of the interviewer, Sir David Frost. At the moment I read the news on Sunday morning via a tweet, I felt numb and disoriented. Only a few hours earlier I had watched the latest episode of Al Jazeera's The Frost Interview, with Marc Andreessen, Silicon Valley software pioneer and co-founder of Netscape browser. I hadn't watched the Qatari-based news channel in many weeks, and I wasn't really paying attention to the telly when I switched over to it. Until I thought I heard a familiar voice. As I turned around I realised it was only a voice-over, which made me a tad hesitant that it was really him, but within a few seconds he appeared on screen and removed all doubt. It felt like a reminder to finalise that entry on Enoch Powell. Turns out dad watched the same programme last night as well.

Sir David was my favourite political interviewer, but unlike most Brits, Americans and Australians, who may have had the pleasure of growing up with him in one form or another, I didn't really get to know him until I moved to Montreal for university in 2002. Until then, I had been fed scraps from his Breakfast with Frost programme that was broadcast on the BBC World channel that we received in Oman. However once I had access to high speed internet and the freedom to do as I please, I was able to watch every episode of Breakfast with Frost, in full, via the BBC website. In those days, a number of Auntie's political TV programmes were available internationally. However, by the summer of 2004, several were made unavailable. But not Breakfast with Frost. Those were the heady days of the Iraq War and Frost's interviews with Bush, Blair and other prominent politicians, made for gripping as well as entertaining viewing from across the pond. I was struck by his warm and charming interviewing manner, in which his guests were lulled into a false sense of security, before he delivered a knock-out punch. He was the smiling assassin. He always seemed so interested in what the interviewee had to say. Whether he meant it or not was irrelevant, because he seemed to be at pains to make the participant feel at ease. And he was obviously so knowledgeable. He struck me as a conversationalist with the gift of listening. He could be cocky and witty too.

By the time I moved here in the summer of 2007, I had become aware of the Frost/Nixon play, and thanks to YouTube, I was able to play catchup with what I'd missed. Then came the Frost/Nixon film in the autumn of 2008, and a programme in 2010 on BBC Four, presented by him on the history of satire on TV. As a massive fan of political satire and history, it was more than I could've asked for. But it was not until the satire documentary that I realised his original connection with America, nor how big he became there over the years. In more recent months I came across a YouTube account of TV-am clips from the moment of its inception in the 1980s. Until then I had never realised Sir David's role in it, nor how he was almost solely responsible for introducing breakfast television, which we all take for granted today, into these Isles. I also never realised his connection with Australia as a result of that venture. The more I watched of him, the more I grew to like him. In particular I loved his style in front of the camera from programmes such as That Was the Week That Was. I think it's fair to say he was a lot more cocky and direct in those days, and although he may have mellowed in later years, he never lost that knock-out punch technique which floored many an interviewee. His was a stellar career spanning over fifty years, spread over four continents. He was perhaps the best known British journalist outside these Isles until BBC World arrived in the 1990s.

And then there's the hour-long interview with Enoch Powell from 1969, a year after Powell's explosive speech about immigration. As I watched the interview I was impressed with how well Powell kept his cool, despite Sir David's provocations. I doubt any modern politician or their media minder would allow someone to get away with such style of questioning today, but there was still something charming and witty about it. None of his modern successors are a patch on him. Not Paxo, not Andrew Neil, nor Jon Snow. The nearest equivalent is perhaps Eddie Mair. Frost was certainly one of a kind. A man of many talents, who paved the way and brought new ideas. In his tribute on the radio a couple hours ago, Barry Cryer described him as a practicing catalyst. He was certainly that. And although oft overused, he was certainly a legend too. We may never see the likes of him again and for that, he will be sorely missed. Farewell, good night, and thank you for the memories.
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
Radio 4's Today presenter James Naughtie interviewed the late Christopher Hitchens and his equally feisty brother Peter at the 2005 Hay Literary Festival about their controversial views, the Iraq war and religion. Listen here. There's also a transcript of another interview with the two from the same Festival. And below is an interview with a cancer-stricken Hitchens from last year.

mcgillianaire: (Football player)
I became aware of this a few years ago but most people still think it is. I was reminded of it while watching the latest edition of the newly-instituted, web-only Match of the Day 3 programme on Monday mornings, which featured as its guest the British-based American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel. Neither he nor Lee Dixon (a regular analyst and former England international) were aware of soccer's true origins. Therefore I reckon it's important to spread the word across the length and breadth of this country and beyond. Many Britons (and I've noticed it's not just those who follow the sport!) are quick to dismiss any use of the term soccer as an Americanism, as though it were a dirty word. But as Wikipedia amply demonstrates, this misnomer couldn't be further from the truth. Soccer is well and truly British. In fact it was widely used by the mainstream media until at least the 1970s, but quite what happened after that is somewhat of a mystery. Although interestingly enough, according to the Hansard archives, the use of the term soccer by MPs has increased in recent decades (even as football remains the most popular term in Parliament, the media and certainly amongst the hoi polloi)!

EDIT: It's worth pointing out that according to Hansard, the earliest mention of football in Parliament was in 1824, while the earliest mention of soccer (and rugger) was in 1927.

(Note: Even if you don't like MotD or football in general, that programme is worth watching alone for what is possibly the "best" own goal ever scored... by who else but Lee Dixon himself!)
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
Now that was an incredible programme. I learnt a lot about the early decades of Formula One racing and I never realised how little consideration was given to safety in those days. We've come a long way. A must-see!

(One thing I love about Twitter is doing a real-time search to get a sense of what other people think of a TV programme. With most programmes there are strong opinions either in favour or against it, with at least a handful of critical tweets. But with this documentary I've not found a single critical tweet about the programme itself, merely some dissatisfaction with the title. It really was moving, esp the final scene involving David Purley).
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
I love the fact Aunty Beeb commissions a fairly regular stream of programmes based in India but this one is pretty ordinary. There are some good bits and it is almost saved by the sultry Anita Rani (of The One Show fame) but it's an hour long programme that could've been squeezed into half that. However I'm not really the target audience. I'm sure many Brits (especially those who've never been to or know much about India) will find it interesting and possibly even fascinating. Luckily for me there's only one more episode to sit through next week. I know I don't have to watch it but it's almost worth it for the eye candy alone and besides, it's about India.

(The programme did remind me of another one the Beeb broadcast in 2009 and that I wrote about here. It was titled The Maharajas' Motor Car: The Story of Rolls-Royce in India. Indeed in the new programme Anita Rani meets the Maharana of Udaipur and even gets to drive around in his 1924 Rolls-Royce which featured so prominently in the earlier programme. The earlier programme was much better and possibly more educational.)
mcgillianaire: (Default)

I'm not Piers Morgan's biggest fan but smug little Louise Mensch MP (nee Bagshawe) should've apologised for abusing parliamentary privilege. Mixing Tory good looks with a sexy intellect, she's the ultimate femme fatale.

Ironic that I shared this video just a couple days ago...
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)

A week ago, the odds of David Cameron becoming the next cabinet member to leave ranged between 100/1 at Ladbrokes to 150/1 at Stan James. Ladbrokes slashed them to 20/1 last night after Sir Paul Stephenson's resignation and even further to 12/1 a couple hours ago. Now following his deputy John Yates's resignation the odds stand at just 8/1. They say a week's a long time in politics! Looks like an hour has become the new week.
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
A fascinating insight into the longest-serving consort in British royal history. I must admit I see him in a completely different (ie, better) light now than just an hour ago. And if interested, I'll probably upload it here.
mcgillianaire: (Default)

  • 07:35:39: RT @dafnalinzer: MT @yochiNJ Military source tells me #Seals built full-scale mockup of #bin Ladin compound, spent weeks practicing raid ...
  • 07:47:14: RT @ReallyVirtual Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event). << The IT consultant who unwittingly live-tweeted the raid!
  • 07:57:30: RT @Chobr: BBC reporter says 'very unique' on @r4Today. A sad day...
  • 08:44:44: ‎"Everybody knew he was in Pak except the Pak authorities who were in denial." -Ahmed Rashid, Pakistani journalist on @BBCr4today
  • 08:45:02: RT @tomscott: Bin Laden's dead; some Americans party in the streets. I was thinking "not classy, USA" — then I remembered what's planned ...
  • 08:47:53: RT @CulturalSnow: Super quick Osama Downfall video
  • 08:49:16: RT @simonpegg: There's a slight sense in the more sensationalist media that the world just completed a particularly tricky video game.
  • 08:59:04: Checked Google Earth. Most recent images of area around Pak Milit Acad are from Jun 2005 & Mar 2001. Hmm... #obl #osamabinladen #abbotabad
  • 09:00:45: @CulturalSnow Dude, in the immortal words of Richard Keys - your tweets/RTs this morning have smashed it. Thanks for the entertainment.
  • 09:08:51: RT @dannynic: Waiting for Huw Edwards to tell us all about Osama's outfit....
  • 09:13:16: RT @LFCZA: Rumours of Bin Laden being caught whilst wearing his Arsenal shirt remain unfounded.
  • 09:23:29: "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles." -Proverbs 24:17 (New American Standard Bible)
  • 09:27:37: @ReallyVirtual Read your tweets - v.interesting! Wondered how long you've been in A'bad and if was the 1st time you heard a milit op there?
  • 09:28:30: RT @largeburrito: In the early hours, US special forces attacked a house in Pakistan and destroyed Donald Trump's Presidential campaign.
  • 09:29:05: @pappubahry It's reducing by the dozen every minute so I'll live in hope. :)
  • 09:29:37: @pappubahry Oh and it's back up again. I guess I'll ask him in a few weeks time if he's still online!
  • 09:30:25: RT @suellewellyn: RT @kenyanpundit RT @itsthiz: Obama is now America's hero. Just last week he had to prove he was even American.
  • 09:34:09: RT @LSEpublicevents Expert Anatol Lieven talks about Pakistan at LSE on 9/5 ("Pakistan: A Hard Country") #obl
  • 09:42:10: "Coincidentally or not, Panetta was promoted at end of last week, from CIA head to become the next sec of defence." (
  • 09:50:18: The Pakistani High Commissioner is the most deluded man in Britain. Not surprised but still sickening to hear his ilk spew filth. #bbc5live
  • 10:04:03: @pappubahry I never realised there were so many versions of the Bible. I'd like to pick up a copy. Recommend any in particular?
  • 10:08:31: @pappubahry Thanks. Have you read it in its entirety? Do you still read/refer from it?
  • 10:16:53: RT @tweetminster: Twitter first with news of Osama bin Laden's death via ex-Bush staffer @keithurbahn - The Guardian
  • 17:21:41: Can't blame him but Obama had that "I'm the man" look just now. First Trump, now Bin Laden. Two slam dunks in a good week at the office.
  • 17:54:31: All these references to the good Lord above on #bbcradio4 are making me feel just a little bit ill. #obl
  • 18:12:33: "USA! USA!" is the wrong response - -- Couldn't word it better myself. Death is not something to be celebrated. #obl
  • 18:25:50: RT @nytgraphics: Map and diagram of the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad
  • 18:26:04: RT @ogleearth: CIA confirms location of Bin Laden compound, releases aerial imagery (scroll to end of article) | Ogle Earth http://bit.l ...
  • 18:29:53: RT @LondonHistorian: Handy article in the Indy about UK place names.
  • 20:35:43: @pappubahry Interested in any of the these? Can upload.
  • 20:48:15: @pappubahry Also have (except ep1)
  • 22:52:19: Great to see The Canaries back in the Premier League next season. Let's be 'aving you!!! #norwichcityfc #ncfc #championship
  • 23:00:52: RT @maproomblog: I've updated the Bin Laden compound post with additional links.
  • 23:03:34: So you're in a Norman church. How do you know it's Norman? (pdf)
  • 23:05:51: Can't believe Hazel Irvine is trending but I must admit, it was an insensitive question to ask and worsened only by John Higgins's reaction.
  • 23:06:58: RT @geoeye: New @GeoEye High Resolution Imagery Released of Abbottabad, Pakistan (a walled compound)

Tweets copied by

mcgillianaire: (Portcullis Logo)

Even if I tried, I would never tire of this show. I must've seen every episode at least five times but I could watch it over and over again. Which is just as well because this summer, it returns to the West End! w00t!


Feb. 8th, 2011 09:00 am
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
I nearly didn't give this show a chance because of Matt Le Blanc, but I'm glad I did. It's decent. There's not as much punch as Entourage but it's much better than Joey. And it works well as a joint Anglo-American effort, although the British media response has been mixed.
mcgillianaire: (TV)
Yesterday I posted about India's alleged racist visa rules. Not surprisingly, the article sparked a flame war in its comments section. But to spice things up, the author appeared a few hours ago on what is possibly India's most popular English news channel programme, The Newshour with Arnab Goswami on Times Now. I've yet to watch the full exchange between the presenter and the human rights lecturer, but the regular news broadcast showed a brief clip in which the author refuses to continue the discussion and walks off in disgust. He was connected by video link. It transpires that the author got some facts wrong in the article, and this resulted in an unfavourable response to it by Times Now. The channel highlighted the comparison made between India's anti-British Pakistani visa rules and Nazi treatment of Jews:
    "In 1933, Nazi Germany excluded German citizens of Jewish origin from the civil service. In 1942, the United States arrested all US citizens of Japanese origin living on the west coast, and transferred them to prison camps. It makes no difference that India is practising racial discrimination against British citizens rather than its own. India would object very strongly if Australia, Canada, China or the US made it much harder for British citizens of Indian origin (but not Pakistani origin) to obtain a tourist visa."
Two or three wrongs don't make a right. And even if Prof Wintemute did get some facts wrong and even if he won't apologise for these errors whatever they maybe, it is irrelevant. Because the fundamental principle remains true in that every government, British or Indian, must resist the temptation "to abandon human rights principles and impose sweeping restrictions on the innocent" whenever terror strikes.


mcgillianaire: (Default)

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