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The Blitz spirit

be glad you can't see this! The horror, the horror!

To all those of you who live in London and are having to put up with the current Olympic insanity, I send my condolences.

For those of you who don't, to give you some idea of the sheer cognitive weirdness of LOCOG (who, I swear, could keep a psychiatrist working on new diagnoses to add to DSM-VI for a decade), here's one example of how London (and the UK in general) is responding to these neo-fascist killjoys.

See, the Olympics have two cuddly toy mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville. (Never mind, for now, that these focus-group-tested horrors resemble a bizarre cross between an animated CCTV camera and a dildo with legs: it's the thought that counts.)

Of course, as is always the case with sporting mascots these days, merchandising happens: toy plushies are on sale. And so are much more dubious souvenirs. ("Hello, I'm Wenlock! Don't I look smart in my police officer's uniform? I have the important job of protecting you on your journey to the London 2012 Games ... we can have lots of fun together!")

No, seriously: go marvel at the true Orwellian horror of the product, then read the customer reviews. Especially the one-star reviews.

The Blitz Spirit is still alive and screaming and on display inside's reader feedback!

(Final note for LOCOG rights gestapo: I do not consent to the idiotic terms of use that I have been informed can be found at the other end of that link. If you object to this blog entry, feel free to piss up a rope.)



Testing to see if comments are open again!

(If you can read this, they are.)


Looking at the plushies...I can't conceive of any child or any sane adult I know wanting one of them. At best, they might be useful for some sort of roleplay involving space aliens.

Who thought these things were a good idea?? Is this the ultimate expression of a committee's compromises?


I have no idea who invented these things.

(Whatever drugs they were taking at the time, I do not want!)

I suspect what happened was that a committee threw a lot of money at a high-profile design bureau, who farmed the job out to a star performer, who sat through so many meetings that they had a nervous breakdown and barfed up the first thing they saw -- a picture of a CCTV camera as perceived by someone with a migraine -- and the design bureau then went back to the committee, who were too embarrassed to ask for their money back.

Yeah, that makes sense to me. Bureaucracy in action!


Apart from the intentionally hilarious reviews, there's a few in there I strongly suspect were put in by either LOCOG or the manufacturers. There's simply no other explanation for them - like the five star review that lists shipping details and dimensions.


Oh. Wait. Now I'm getting deeper into more of the product reviews. Forty one star reviews for one of these monstrosities alone! And some of them had me just about spitting out my coffee. "my dog will do nothing apart from stare at it incessantly for hours on end until he collapses from exhaustion," etc. Wonderful.


Shouldn't this post be tagged 'Laundry moments'? Because this things are definitely from somewhere beyond our spacetime.


Actually some of the five star reviews are hilarious as well - particularly like the one that recommends Wenlock for that pesky Cenobite removal problem.


There are so many things wrong with the whole shebang, it's difficult to know where to start. The WenlockCrap is certainly up there near the top, but the one that absolutely sticks in my throat is the VIP lanes ( ) .

It's both an admission that the infrastructure is simply not up to the job it's being asked to do, and a poke in the eye with a shitty stick for the little people who are actually paying for this bloated corporate marketing excercise.

Hateful, just hateful.


Heh. I think the 5 star reviews are a tad tongue in cheek too.


Hilarious: Customers who viewed this item also viewed: "Thumbs up USB missile launcher.."


It reminds me of the aliens in The Simpsons.


What do other customers buy after viewing this item? Iron Sky.

Hosting the Olympics, getting invaded by Nazis from the moon...


PC Wenlock is there to arrest eaters of unauthorised chips.


On the bright side, avoiding the Olympic mess has consoled me for having to put off a trip to the UK to do a PhD from 2012 in 2013 in hopes of rounding up funds in the meantime. I managed to avoid the 2010 Vancouver mess by being south of the border at the time.


Doubtless southern Missouri will be thankful for this further distraction from the memory of "Dogpatch, USA", and the present horror that is, oops, excuse me, those creatures can afford attorneys.


So, Britain doesn't have any cute native fauna to make cuddly mascots out of?

When I first saw that Bobby Wenlock, my first thoughts were something like: Wow! That along with missile launchers on apartment block rooftops = Most Paranoid Olympics Ever. Totally forgot about the CCTVs, they're old news after all.

Now I'm picturing Beijing's Fuwa in Red Guard uniforms. I doubt even the Chinese Olympic Committee would have gone that far.


Wikipedia informs me that: "They have cameras for eyes filming all of their adventures [...]" At least they are consistent.


I think we could have done worse than make cuddly toys representing that very British denizen, Amanita Phalloides. Totally friendly and non-toxic compared to the current Olympiad.


I like the tags, and the fact that it's the first hit if you search Amazon for "dildo"

Tags Customers Associate with This Product:

1984(42) secure beneath the watchful eyes(37) know your rights(30) panopticon(27) imagine a boot stamping on a human face ...(26) cctv toy(24) secure under the watchful eyes(17) dildo(12) eye of sauron(5) olympics 2012(4) see you next tuesday(1)


Those look similar, though larger, to some I've found growing in my yard, but apparently they aren't found in the central US. I have often found Phallus Imudicus growing. Fortunately non-toxic, but a great name.


I note that many of the tags are also applied to works by our esteemed host, and that at least one tag is applied to a work by Gary Gibson (comment 4)... and I conclude that these products have been autopoped (assuming this is the right term to use for the equivalent of a slashdotting launched from this blog).

The reviews surely predate the autopoping, at least in part. And I agree with them. Someone is on very serious drugs to even imagine that this sort of terrifying stuff could possibly be attractive to anyone, even a four-year-old.


I bought one.

But only to do this with it --->


Yes, it is a straight rip-off:

Or maybe those aliens are real and it's a secret invasion with cartoons and toys to soften us up in a first phase.


I'm reminded of the Sydney Olympic Games, and the wonderful expression of the Australian spirit which resulted from them.

To start with, in the year or so leading up to the games, in the light of continual revelations about this or that bureaucratic bungle or attempt to remove the civil rights of Sydneysiders, we had two of Australia's best satirists, John Clarke and Bryan Dawe putting together a wonderful little series called "The Games". "The Games" basically wound up being a weekly, half-hour of "Yes Minister"-style "so truthful it's painful" satire of the sorts of things that SOCOG were getting up to. I believe it's still available on DVD from the ABC shop.

During the games themselves, our national Exclusive Broadcaster had hired in two rather popular sporting satirists, "Rampaging" Roy Slaven, and H. G. "Immortal" Nelson. They created their own unofficial mascot, Fatso, the fat-arsed wombat, who was a bit of a sling off at the official mascots. Fatso, unfortunately, was more popular with the Australian public (and the Australian athletes) than the official mascots as well (Syd, Ollie and Millie were all focus-grouped to death, and really didn't seem to stand for anything other than yet another effort by SOCOG and the IOC to pick everyone's pockets). To the extent that the AOC attempted to stop the athletes from using him. With, as the ancient scrolls say, hilarious results.

Meanwhile, the thing which stuck in my head lately was a teaser headline on a video report from our ABC saying "In the lead up to the Olympics, London is suffering planning issues". To which my brain calmly pointed out that London has been suffering planning issues for at least the majority of the past five centuries, if not longer...


You have to buy both of them; without two cameras you can't run your home Scorpion Stare project.


They are reminiscent of Kang and Kodos, but with absolutely none of K&K's likeability.

Fortunately, it seems Ultraman has saved the day:


TimD is this week's Winner of the Blog!


Mandeville looks like those huge plastic models of teeth my dentist keeps around to show what happens when you don't brush and floss enough. Teeth and eyes &ltshudder&gt!


"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic Olympic Mascot."


Listening to the G4S chap (head honcho/CEO/owner somesuch) on Radio 4 Today gave me a Cheese Shop flashback.


Oh My God! Mr. Stross, others (especially Ralph w/ the link to that hilarious Ultra-man send up!), you made my day!

I had no idea the London 2012 mascots were so f*ed-up! Wow, they've really kept them under wraps. At least, this is the first I've heard about 'em here in Japan. And you'd think they'd love that kind of 'thing' out here. Or maybe not - those 'things' are about as far from Kitty-chan-'kawaii' as you can get!

Now to spend the next hour giggling while reading all the reviews at Amazon-UK...


"Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed [...] The Haunted Vagina - Carlton Mellick III"


Yes It Works ... Ha HAAA! My Creature ... Errrrr, rather, ... YOUR Creature Lives !!!!

On the Oily Olympics that is most of the Forthcoming Circuses without Bread that is the Principle Preoccupation of the City State Polity of Londinium at the moment ...and its many really weird perambulations of Public Relations?

This is EASY Peasy! And another EXclaimation Mark of Joyfull Running Round in Circles and much Puppy Barking ness ...

INTERMISSION .. for an Internet Puppy? ..

We in the UK used to have Novelty TV intermissions that filled in the space between the BBC and the soon to be Commercial Channels ' Potters Wheel ' - that really were novel in the UK back when TV was young in the late '50s early '60s of the last century before reality TV and when the world really was fairly youthful.

So, the Olympics ? And the News that it Generates ?

Its just a diversion from the ' Real World Channel' -which must be in there somewhere betwixt the stations of the innumerable Sat TV Channels that are on my non-sky sat TV box.

THEY, and their Minions, just want US to watch People Running Round in Circles and Girls in Bikinis playing Beach Volleyball on an artificial beach situated on Horse-guards Parade ..

whilst they/we are being protected by Black Helicopters and Missile Batteries so that we wont look for the Real World Channel and thus find out what is actually going on in the Real World and why your Blog is being Continually being attacked by Aliens.

My HB copy of "The Apocalypse Codex" still hasn't arrived from the USA ...what do THEY mean by That?


I'd say the mascots do fit in with the logo that looks like Lisa Simpson giving a blowjob.


Totally forgot about the CCTVs, they're old news after all.

Maybe the rocket-launchers are there because the Basilisk guns built into London's CCTVs aren't powerful enough to kill the Eater of Souls, but if we use the Olympic crowds as bait, we can take him out with the special rocket launchers. If those don't work we can always trigger the oxygen destroyers built into the wharf pilings along the Thames, but then it would be hard to pass the whole thing off as a terrorist incident.

(It will be very important to make sure that certain movies aren't playing when the Gates open.)

Of course, the IOC is a tentacled horror all on it's own... has the Thing in the Pyramid already won?


This is a shipping error right? Surely these mascots were a misguided attempt by Angleton to put a more friendly face on the organization. Or is an attempt to get a warded plushie into every home before the big one?

Sorry. Just finished tAC yesterday.


Did China have Beijing crawling with troops and anti-aircraft weapons, or are we more paranoid than them?


Wendeville looks like he's wet himself with the blue fluid they use to demonstrate absorbancy on disposable diaper and sanitary pad commercials.


OK, so who really believes all this activity in London is about the Olympics? That's clearly only the cover story - so what is actually going on?


Surely these mascots were a misguided attempt by Angleton to put a more friendly face on the organization.

I'm reasonably sure Angleton is aware he's not a Perky Cuddly Artistic Person - and would probably just hire an artist if the Laundry needed one. On the other hand, Pinky and/or Brains might kit-bash something bizarre and then try to persuade folks that nobody would be suspicious of silly plastic homunculi.


Many different tests have show that a large percent of people are afraid all the time. They look for things to be fearful off, and find them. They are mad at people who can't see what their big deal is. Terror gives them something to run wild with. They can't help it, and they vote. See all Right Wingers in history.


A set of terms and conditions for linikng top a website? Now I know the world has fallen to the lawyers and we all have to read their meaningless pap before we are allowed access to some 'precious' jewel.

I am currently working on a product which MUST have a warning page before the user gets to see the login page. Users are warned to click Next only if they are authorised to do so. This is because of some US court ruling which says that having a login/password page is insufficient since a person could type anything as a combination and that could give them access, access which they have not acknowledged they have a right to. Everyone hates the idea but we will do it because our customers will refuse to buy equipment that does not incorporate such a feature.


It's as if they are taunting the BBC into using those abominations as a Doctor Who aliens.

Either that, or someone in the Laundry's procurement department has a whimsical sense of humor when extending SCORPION STARE coverage during the Olympics


Wenlock must be Vexxarr, thinly disguised.


London is on a short list of cities which have been bombarded by ballistic missiles, and, while the blitz spirit is a bit of a myth, London showed that Douhetism is a lie. The fears that bombing could cause a collapse of society were exaggerated

London Can Take It

That 10-minute film was released barely five weeks after the peak of the Battle of Britain. The RAF had forced the Luftwaffe to give up daylight bombing. A month later, the Luftwaffe bombed Coventry. They bombed other British towns and cities. Germany was bombed, with far more effect, by the RAF and the USAAF.

Bombing alone has never won a war. It has always needed men on the ground, rather than impersonal machines.

Today, our politicians are so scared that they have deployed missiles and combat aircraft to protect the Olympics. The Navy has a ship on the Thames. Where there were anti-aircraft guns, seventy years ago, guided missiles have deployed.

If the terrorism happens to you, I don't expect you to shrug it off. But look at what people have done, all through these isles. The only people who don't seem capable of living up to the myths and legends are the politicians. It's a human thing, not exclusively British: when bad things happen, we try to do something.

It's not that London, in particular, can take it. There is something lurking in every city, something that you wake at your peril.


Olympiad... I saw a picture of a supposed gold medal and it did include the word "olympiad". At school however I was always taught that the olympiad was the 4-year period period between games.


Just had a thought: Here in Colorado Springs, we have the US Olympic Committee HQ and training center, as well as New Life Church. I haven't gotten around to "The Apocalypse Codex" yet, but I'm going to assume there's no connection between the two in it. If there is don't tell me!


On Plush Police ..I just can't resist mentioning this here following linked cute copper.

It should be called the Hello " 'ellow 'ellow wots going on ere then ? " Kitty ..


Dave Bell, you forgot to mention the 7/7 bombings, when Londoners managed on the whole a much more pragmatic approach than, to pick a random example, the British government.


As a survivor of Salt Lake 2002 (not nealry as insane as London sounds to be admittedly) I thought I should let you know exactly how tight the olympic security will be this summer.

I did attend one event that winter, and immediatley set off the metal detector. After about aminute of messing around with the wand, the security gaurd just waved me through.

Fortanuatley, I had the foil from a hotdog I'd just eaten in my inner jacket pocket (instead of littering, no wastebaskets in the security line) and not any actual malice, woul dhave been incredibly easy if any terrorsists actually gave a rats ass though.


My thought is regular old lobbyist malfeasance. The defense contractors want to sell whatever bizzare ass weapons (and seriously, they're going to stop terrorist bombs with more bombs?) they're mounting on rooftops, private security contractors are after the security detail money, etc etc. The olympics provide an exelent excuse to get money into the right pockets.


I came to the conclusion that the designers associated with LOCOG got so hacked off with the incompetence and committeeism they were subjected to that they decided to take the piss in what they proposed.

The logo, the mascots, and by all reports the opening ceremony, seem to suggest that someones are spinning a line and then laughing their heads off at the result.

I'm wondering if sniggering isn't going to be the most heard sound at the opening ceremony.


The BBC ran some pictures of the Olympic venues in Beijing. Some are still actively used. Some are not.


Wenlock looks more than a little similar to Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba. Or a bit like the Cyclops from Krull.

Muno images (Yo Gabba Gabba is a kids show, so don't be too afraid)

Nice TOC. If I read it right, they think you're in breach by linking to them.


Thank God, if there is one, I have never been around any kind of Olympics. The main thing seems be to put money ion the right peoples pockets.
"Bombing alone has never won a war." Well if they can't shoot back it has. The old bombs mainly missed. The new ones don't,if they can find it. And now its not to win a war,its to scare people so their government will back off. I've read that many were killed in WW-2 BY falling ack ack. Anybody think it will be different now if any thing happens?
I think the main thing is to be seen doing something,anything. And the truth is it may help.


Megpie @ 23 Unfortunately, that isn't happening here. The main arean is 4km S of my house ...

David @ 37 If we get a "really serious" terrrrrst "incident" then they can declare Martial Law, and suspend what little liberties are left ....

Generally. The olympics are HATED LOATHED & FEARED by the great majority of Lonndoners. But you'd neve know that, would you, from the fascist propaganda. And the corrupt corporate sponsorship [ Dow chemical / Heieken / MacDonalds - for a "british" games - hah! ] Oh, really fascist -look up the happily decesed J A Samaranch, best mates with the revolting Coe (HE is not a lord, since he has no honour, & is welcome to sue me ) And the Zil lanes, and the lies told about the totally fucke-up transport and closed roads and paths and the security theatre and ...... And NO MEANS AT ALL of peacfully protesting. Look up what happend to people trying to peacefully prevent the illegal siezure of Layton Marsh (2.5km from here) if you don't believe me. And th other land-siezures, not even by conventional Complusory Purchase. and... and ......


Kang and Kodos, perhaps; but my thought (as per the reviews page for the wretched thing) is the Binomes from ReBoot.


I think the Home Office realized long ago that G4S, like most private security firms, are perfect for pushing around civilians but useless against any real threat. So they lobbied for these mascots, which will provide the same level of security at a fraction of the cost. No bonuses or overtime to pay!

Anyway, it makes more sense than dropping soldiers fresh from the Helmand Province of Afghanistan into London.

By the way, "Bobby Wenlock" would make a great pseudonym, like "Armitage Shanks" or "Halsey Taylor."


Yes! The binomes made out of three stacked cubes (and thus representing ones whereas the ones made from a sphere represented zeroes) were cyclops, like Cyrus or lieutenant Chauncy or agent six:

However, their angular features place them at a distance from those Wenlock things in my eyes

On the other hand, I have to admit that Kang and Kodos might have too many tentacles.

Anyway, I am certain that any binome as well as Kang and Kodos would make better olympic mascots.


I particularly liked the road sign on the A14, approaching the M11, warning of possible traffic disruption due to the 'Lea Valley Games' - I guess either the Highways Agency hasn't got a license for 'Olympic', or isn't allowed to imply the games might cause traffic disruption!


Perspective - the 7/7 bombings killed about as many people as died on UK roads that week.


Well am psychologically scared for life now ...... I live in the provinces/the boonies/wildlands, yes am from up North (west yorks lancs border to be unnecessarily exact). I also do not own and thus only very rarely view TV ...... I know that makes me sound like a Unibomber alumni, but i am normal and can put forward a concise and rational argument for my choice (but we'd need a different thread for that). As a result of the collective experience modifiers outlined above, i have remained unaware of the cult of Wenlock and Mandeville.

my initial reaction on the sight of these two national moscots .... was to instantly think of Furries .... Now i feel DIRTY ....... Thanks Charlie


I know its wrong ... but i love Youtube!!

Heres another reason why.



On Casualty figures during The Blitz and at other times during various attacks on the U.K. might be worth remembering that these ever so Neutral Statistical Figures were in fact ... people examplified in the very limited casualty lists hereafter ..

or First in List ...

BALHAM 14/10/40

The number of fatalities for this incident vary between 64 (as quoted on the memorial plaque in the station itself) and 68, but the CWGC now records 66*:


It is notable that all the above are stated as having died at the station, with no injured subsequently dying elsewhere.

*For many years this total stood at 65, until Gladys Benbrook was added to the CWGC Register of Civilian War Dead in May 2010, having previously been unrecorded. My thanks to Howard Benbrook for drawing my attention to this omission, and to Terry Denham for raising the case for inclusion with the Commission. "


Seems like there's song in there somewhere...

"WenLOCK, the Orwellian Olympic MasCOT, he's watching over you, everything you do..."

Anybody care to add to the lyrics?



I think you could just run with "Every Breath You Take" by The Police.


" he's watching over you, everything you do..." " Doesn't Really Rhyme and Scan, but, if you were to take " WenLOCK ..and add ' Olympic MasCOT,'revised to OM a COT thus ' WenLOCK the Om a COT ' to the tune of a British Ultra Patriotic Royalist Series whose conection with the actual Richard was Tenuous to say the Least, then to the Tune of ... " Richard The Lionheart !!! wrote a page in England's Book of Fame ".... note the Literary Referance to 'Book '? ...all together Now ...

That faint sound in the background is Our Host Throwing up.


The other thing that really gets my goat (cultists excepted) is the fucking torch relay. As shown Here and here too ... This gaint exercise in conning gullible morons was originated by ... the Nazis (so it isn't a Godwin-violation...) So every single time you see the olympic symbols, or read about the corporate sponsorship (done in 1936 as well) just replace the whole thing with THIS image - but of course, that would be so embarrassing, wouldn't it? Bah.


Hilarious! And according to the good o' infallible Wikipedia entry on Wenlock and Mandeville, they "are animations depicting two drops of steel from a steelworks in Bolton." Apparently, the Lostock firm in Bolton got the contract to build the steel for the Olympic Arena, and um, yeah.

Really. The fact that they aren't oh, glowing orange and puddled on the floor, nor that they look like, say, self-aware semen droplets or fruiting bodies for plasmodial slime molds, has nothing to do with it.

So then, who's the UNofficial mascot, Chav the Pentathlete?


I thought you were joking about the uniformed mascot. Now I've seen it, I know intellectually that you weren't, and that someone went to the trouble of producing it. But I still can't quite bring myself to believe it. I harbour a flicker of hope that it's an elaborate joke.

PS: Thank you for signing my copy of Apocalypse Codex, via Transreal. I enjoyed reading the book.


I'm surprised some fundies haven't pointed out the name is similar to the word warlock, and that they are the obvious result of the Olympic committee's collaboration with polytheists and devil worshipers.


I am obviously a puerile individual, because all I keep doing is thinking about policemen's helmets and giggling. Sorry, I'm sure there's a serious point here somewhere.


And where has my post of yesterday evening gone? OK it included two embedded (pointer) HTML links showing the actual 1936 games Nazi origins of the torch-relay. But, even if "held for approval" it should have shown up by now, surely? But the whole "ethos" if one can dignofy such a specatacle of greed & corruption by such a title is deeply worrying. It's a carry-over from the "jolly team games" lies and bullying that some of us (all of us?) were subjected to at school ( & I escaped from that at age 14 - 1960 - & I still shudder at the recollection.). It wasn't true then, & it isn't true now.


Generally. The olympics are HATED LOATHED & FEARED by the great majority of Londoners.

I'm a Londoner and I'm not sure about "feared", but the rest seems about right. Having the voice of Boris Johnson(*) gargling out a message about Olympic travel every time I take the tube does little or nothing to help.

What I'm starting to wonder, though, is if the corruption, massive overspend, planning cock-ups, social cleansing and police-state security are actually things that happen every Olympics and just don't get reported outside the host nation's media. Can anyone from a previous Olympic host nation comment?

(*) Oafish mayor of London, inexplicably voted in by suburban petrolheads and the profoundly dim - with the help of a newspaper edited by a close friend.


"What I'm starting to wonder, though, is if the corruption, massive overspend, planning cock-ups, social cleansing and police-state security are actually things that happen every Olympics and just don't get reported outside the host nation's media. Can anyone from a previous Olympic host nation comment?"

Abso-bloody-lutely. See the posts above referring to Clark & Dawe's masterpiece "The Games". The really really funny part was that the show was being broadcast as the preparations for the Sydney games were underway, and not only were they feeding off the cock-ups that came to light, but some of the crap that was exposed by the media was simply too over the top for Clark and Dawe to use.

Think about it; that's like Yes Minister (which was largely inspired by reality) being unable to use an actual real-life scenario because it was simply too preposterous.


Hearing about the security procedures in London right now, I can't help wonder about the opportunities being created for enterprising villains. Want to collect passports and credit card details in bulk? Set up your own "security checkpoint" !


The USB missile launcher is probably more useful, in particular for defending "01ymp1c P@rk" against terrorists flying airliners packed with explosives! ;-)


The BBC are showing a similar comedy, which I have never watched (other than trailers which are quite revolding enough thank you) and who's name eludes me.


For instance, when a couple of terrorists tried to suicide firebomb Glasgow Airport and failed, Strathclyde Police took them into protective custody, to protect them from their intended victims!

To end morning postings on a positive note, my copy of TAC is in the post! :-D


Not quite - each Olympiad is the 4 year period in which a given set of games happen, with the first year being that in which the Summer games are held.

The games themselves are held at all sorts of time of year, depending on what country holds them, so there is no exact four year gap between them.


While I have no love for the likes of McDonalds being the "official restaurant" of the Olympic Games (I wonder how many athletes will be eating there?), according to the BBC at least some of this lunacy is thrust upon us by the IoC (as if the local lunatics need any help...)


Sam Dodsworth @ 74 There was, unfortunately, a very good reason why BoJo was voted in - even I voted for him with gritted teeth. Why? Consider the other candidates. Paddick for the Lem-o-Crats - really good idea, no hope of being elected. The "Green" luddites - who are insane enough to want to abolich The Corporation (of the City) - quite mad. And Livingstone. Who was asked, repeatedly to distance himself from Yusuf al-Qardarwi (With whom he had appeared in public) Ken refused to do this, so anyoone who actually believed that women should have equal civil rights, or that killing jewish children was a bad idea, deserted him. Yes, it was that bad.....

Meanwhile, back at the "securty" show ... A "sensible" terrorist (if one can express such an idea) won't even think of attacking the "games" themselves. Unless, of course, they think they could take over one of the starstreak/rapier launchers ... No, they'll go for the very crowded places in town, full of visitors .... and the railway signalling conduits.


For me the defining image of 7/7 was when Tony B.Liar got up and said "These people, who come over here and bomb our cities, kill civilians, and think they're going to make us change the way we do things, well, we won't, we're going to fight and fight".

And I thought "Shit, Tony, did you steal that speech from Saddam Hussein?".

I think the reason Beijing wasn't swarming with missile launchers etc is precisely that they weren't visibly involved in the bogus War on Terror and its associated war crimes. The UK, on the other hand, knows damn well that thanks to psychopaths like Blair they are most definitely in line for a serious slapping, and worse than that: considering that he got re-elected after the point where everyone knew he was provably a liar and provably a war criminal, well, democratic'ly-speaking, the public pretty much voted themselves into the dock with him.

Penalties for war crimes tend to be harsh.


@Ralph: You obviously don't know much about China. They maybe don't have a bogus 'war on terror', but they for sure have their own 'N. Ireland' in some of the western states that aren't thrilled to be Chinese. There were tons of reports at the time about the careful controls China put in place for Beijing.

@Greg you are using a poison the well fallacy to complain about the Olympics because some Nazi's created some of the traditions involved. Hitler was against smoking, does that mean you need to light up? I mean... the terrible things Nazi's did are terrible because they are terrible, not because Nazi's were involved. Make sense?


I suspect that the medal actually has Roman-numerals in front of the word "Olympiad".

Thus, the use of Olympiad would still denote a 4-year span of time, as well as a specific event.


You're thinking of "Twenty Twelve" - most of it is butt-clenchingly accurate especially the meetings of the "Olympic Deliverance Committee" - imagine the worst meeting you've ever attended, populated with the worst, most useless participants....


Greg: A "sensible" terrorist (if one can express such an idea) won't even think of attacking the "games" themselves .... they'll go for the very crowded places in town, full of visitors ....

And the most crowded places outside the games themselves will be the security checkpoints going in to the games.

Seriously, all it takes is two suicide bombers. Bomber A queues patiently until they're at the checkpoint, then goes BANG. Bomber B enters the queue just before Bomber A detonates, and takes out the panicking crowd fleeing for the exit.

The nastiness of this scenario is that it leverages security checkpoints to generate targets. There is no easy work-around other than banning crowds altogether. And how do you do that in central London? Or during the Olympics?


And as Iain Banks pointed out - why bother taking the materiel for shrapnel with you when you can detonate yourself next to those handy bins filled with confiscated nail scissors and pen knives...


Well, I haven't seen that, but have you seen the opening ceremony publicity? So have the conspiracy theorists!


Olympics aside on and onto something really important: Just got my Copy of "Apocalypse Codex" from Waterstones (LATE) Page 28 and Climbing: Thank-You Thank-You Thank-You. (Should have realised you'd be publishing chapters, could have read some earlier).

RE: spam, ever considered a word press Installation you could call your own, there are add-ins that would deal with spams/dos etc + sure you could get a volunteer to do updates and maintenance.



So how do you feel about the Tube announcements?


RE: spam, ever considered a word press Installation you could call your own,

I refuse to run Wordpress. It's implemented in PHP which is a crawling thing of horror and home to more security holes than you can shake a rake at.

This blog runs on Movable Type. Yes, it runs on my own server. Yes, there are anti-spam plugins.

TL:DR; grandmother, eggs, sucking thereof.


Just to be clear, though, when you say "tried to suicide firebomb Strathclyde Airport" you actually mean "set fire to their car's tyres and drove into a concrete wall, after which one of them accidentally lit his own trousers on fire while the other got punched out by a passing baggage handler."

That is not terrorism. That is causing criminal damage, driving without due care and attention and making a complete fool of yourself in public.


Ok Humbled.. thou art a lordly intellect of awesome achievement and one would never presume to give advice. however (dry swallow), nope courage failed.


A "sensible" terrorist ... ... they'll go for ... ...and the railway signalling conduits.

I for one would be extremely pleased if a few of the cable thieves were convicted under the anti-trrst laws, and given adequate sentences.


I was listening to a segment on the radio a week or so back, about the LOCOG/IOC sponsorship and branding lunacy.

Around the olympic park they have what I think is called a brand white zone. Essentially, within this zone there can be NO branding other than that of the official sponsors.

One of the upshots of this is that someone has to go around the whole site and make sure any such branding is removed.

Amongst other things urinals and toilets have to have the makers name removed or permanently covered, similarly washbasins, taps (faucets) etc.

Even more stupidly in areas around all of the provincial venues billboard advertising has to be removed, they were in discussion with RailTrck about making them take down a huge bridge mounted advert for a local Welsh beer in cardiff. The Ricoh Arena in Coventry will completely de-branded and be known temporarily as The City of Coventry Stadium.

London’s O2, named after the mobile company, will be the North Greenwich Arena during the games.


Ian @ 84 I regard the whole "jolly team games" ethos as authoritarian (& usually right-wing, but not always) lying, bullying dangerous tosh. As for fascism, I suggest (again) that you google for Coe's friend, the (now dead, I'm glad to say) but-then head of the IOC, one J. A. Samaranch, member of the Spanish Fascist Grand Council. When I use a label like fascist or nazi, I really mean it, and can usually back my statement with evidence.

Charlie @ 87 Or, Liverpool Street Station, about half-an-hour after a full evening's sport, with well-oiled people going home in the opposite direction, especially if it's a Friday (?). Your "two bomber" scenario would work very "well" there, also, particularly given that L. St is semi-sun-surface, with climbing exits, which culd themselves be targetted. Nasty.

Sam @ 91 AAAARGGGGHHHH! Please don't start me on that subject, I can rant for hours about the 150% unnecessary and MUCH TOO LOUD "announcements" on LUL, without extra verbal shite from BoJo, thank you!

Chris @ 95 Nah - just connect'em to the 660/750/1500V DC live rails - and then watch 'em dance and smoke at the same time! (Not the 25kV AC overhead, you understand - too quick!)


Jake, I was commenting on intent, rather than eptitude. FYI, Glasgow is my local international gateway airport. OK?


Greg@97 I can rant for hours about the 150% unnecessary and MUCH TOO LOUD "announcements" on LUL...

In fairness to TfL, most of the announcements are 150% less unnecessary if you happen to be blind. But it sounds like we agree on the Boris verbals even if we voted different ways. I've taken to greeting them with "shut up Boris", in the hope that others will join in.


I think it’s a bit sad that something that ought to be pretty positive has become such a source of cynicism, both for the reasons for the cynicism and for the cynicism itself.

I find the idea of a bunch of athletes gathering together from around the world to be really, really good at what they do, vaguely with a hope that by competing at running swiftly, jumping beautifully and standing strongly we avoid competing with actual guns, knives and bombs and then going home, having made some friends, and leaving behind them some top rate sports equipment pretty unobjectionable.


Sorry been thinking about your umm spam problem 1 word:


On the other hand, BoJo isn't universally hated - went to the Canada Day celebrations in Trafalgar square, and when the Canadian PM's speech came on the screens, the entire crowd booed him off. I don't even think the UK wannabe polititians get that kind of reaction in public.


Hmm, sudden thought with regards to the G4S security theatre debacle.

The government is saying G4S only recently realised they were going to be short by several thousand security guards. Despite only having what, 3500 out of 13700 expected, or roughly 25% of expected numbers a month out.

What's the bet that they were planning to ship in 10000 cheaper guards from overseas at the last minute, and immigration said no.


In principle I agree, that the Olympics should theoretically be about the beauty of sporting competition. For all the fencers, archers, and other sports that the US doesn't normally win, it's pretty much about that--not that we ever get to watch.

The problem is two-fold. One on side,the IoC seems to have gone for a Soviet/East German model of thought control and evil banality. Couple that with large country's desires to show off how Anti-Terrorist they are and to engineer their athletes to win as much as possible, and add in the commercial desires of IoC members to enrich themselves, while multinational corporations try to maximize profits by co-opting free markets, and what you have is known as an unholy mess. Possibly even a clusterfuck.

In this case, I think the only way for the original Olympic spirit to prevail is to mock and subvert the stupidity at the top, cheer on the athletes who compete in the smallest venues and who really are in it for the competition, and to stay calm and carry on until the corporate blitz is over.


Graeme: before you embarrass yourself further, might I suggest that you use your search engine of choice to find the previous entries (and comment discussions) on this blog where Charlie discusses at length what options he has already considered and rejected?


Here is my review - hopefully they will approve it....

Hello Wenlock. I really wanted to support the games but something is wrong. Chip shops cant sell chips near the venue because McDonalds sells fries. I thought this was the UK, we know the difference between chips and fries - ironically chips are healthier. Anyhow that's not the issue, neither are hosting surface to air missiles on a block of flats instead of, I don't know a disused office or a hill. I also really don't have an issue with the sponsors who have covered 8% of the costs of the Olympics but seem to have been voted in their own laws to prevent pubs saying Olympics shown here or having the torch relay dominated by sponsors running. Anyhow I can forgive all of that. What I cant forgive is buying top priced band of tickets for an event to find I have nosebleed seats on the diagonal. Wenlock who has the best seats? Oh it's the sponsors and the organisers. Organisers? Wenlock surely they are too busy organising and wouldn't want to watch the games themselves, like the man who supplies security and sounds suprised the event is just about to start - whoops he forgot to hire the staff, that's okay he didn't forget to pay his £1M salary though. Wenlock you said you would protect me, well help me understand. The people paid 92% of this event during hard times. Why oh why Wenlock does the games cost 9.3 billion pounds then? Why? it's only a large sporting event really with 300 events in it, like running, basketball etc. Did you know that 9.3 billion divided by 300 is 31 million. Really? 31 million for a 10 second race? 31 million for a bit of boxing. Wenlock how comes Glastonbury is staged for 150,000 people and costs £15M to run. Perhaps Wenlock we should just host 600 Glastonburies instead of 1 Olympics? Help me understand MR PC Wenlock? What was that? oh take my soma pill and eat my solent green OK Wenlock one eyed policeman I will obey.


SOP for 2-stage bombings in recent years (especially using vehicle bombs) has been to hold off the second explosion until first-responders arrive. This results in victims severely injured by the first explosion not getting emergency medical care until much later (as the second wave of first-responders has to take care of the first and beware of yet another explosion), and it reduces the number of first-responders for the next round of bombings. See, evil isn't reserved to large imperialist military forces, it can be asymmetrical.


I shall be cheering on the Spontoonie Beach Volleyball Team.


Personally, I don't see why London didn't go with more traditional Olympic mascots, like, say, Pinthammer the Lion and Chunder the Unicorn. Something distinctly British in any case.


Sure, but why? What symbolic meaning would it have? What nation or group would feel targeted? Who would it awaken from apathy into solidarity?


As someone, who many years ago, actually did Archery & Fencing ... I STILL can't give a [ insert appropriate sexual and scatological insults HERE ] about any of it.

Also, who will cause more casualties? The Terrrrrssssts (if they show up) or the "security"-wankers, whom we know are around, & are terminally incompetent & arrogant.


{pokes head over parapet} I actually knew someone who was in favour of the 0lymp1cs, but her daughter was a toxophilite, and they thought might be good enough to have a loose (used advisedly Greg) at making the GB team!


Who were Aum Shinrikyo targeting?


Why the 7/7 bombings? They happened nonetheless.


Here's the problem with G4S. They accepted people for the job months ago, as far back as last year. In the meantime, they seem to have assumed those people would: a) Not get any other job in the meantime b) Inform them if they did.


Conspiracy theorists really piss me off. While they are foaming at the mouth ranting on about the Illuminati and occultism and Satan, Barclay's bank is quietly rigging global interest rates. They don't need no stinkin Satan to do that - just greed and arrogance.


The defense contractors want to sell whatever bizzare ass weapons (and seriously, they're going to stop terrorist bombs with more bombs?) they're mounting on rooftops

Nah. Rapier Field Standard C is a few years old now (the original Rapier system entered service in the 1970s) and Starstreak arrived in the late 1990s. Selling SHORAD around the world is a shrinking market.

Like it or not, there is a need for an increase in security "theatre" because the Olympics is such an attractive target for terrorism - the oxygen of publicity. Munich 1972 is the obvious example, but London has been the target of several terrorist attacks in the past three decades. Acts of violence have been committed by Irish Republicans, UK Fascists, Iraqi Shias, Islamic extremists, and "just plain nutters". Expecting everything to occur with just a cheery wave and a happy grin from a London Bobby is a tad optimistic...


The other thing that really gets my goat (cultists excepted) is the *&^%ing torch relay

Why? I've watched the effect it had on primary-age children. Yes, having it bussed between villages spoils the "running relay" aspect, but I suspect if you checked the route, you would find that it went past a significant percentage of the nation's schools. Like it or not, it worked - our kids thought it was rather exciting. It's the nearest that most kids will get to "connecting" with the Games other than through the one-eyed babysitter.

Our kids have a Judo teacher who was an Olympic hopeful (didn't make it this time), and have had one who is competing. As a way of getting across an aspirational message of "you can actually do this if you try, it isn't just an unachievable something for distant superheroes" it's good news.

:) Sorry to inject a ray of needless optimism into the bathing rays of cynicism. It's quite unlike me, normally I'm the thrower of the cold water of reality upon the fire of idealism :)


just saw an ad in China Daily for flats in the "Media Village" - yes, 4 years later they still haven't sold them.

The "Birds Nest" stadium is a great tourist sight if you're near enough to see through the fog...


One other comment on different approaches/attitudes: the entire Beijing metro, and train system, is run on a "we xray your bag on the way in" approach. Doesn't seem to cause any delays. Nor does "scan everyone on the way into the Forbidden City".

Whether it works or not, I don't know. But it shows it's possible to have blanket screening without it being a practical inconvenience.

Bet we can't manage it in London.


I saw some of the "excited primary schoolchildren" too, and had this feeling that they were more excited about being "not in school and in front of Tv cameras" than about "The 01ymp1cs". The news presenters came across as "being paid to sound enthusiastic" about "someone just jogged past $place carrying a big gas lighter".


Marin @ 118 Brainwashing the toddlers to lurve Big Brother team games ....... Anyway, did you hear of "promising" young moron (sorry, "athlete") who was turned away from torch-carrying so the local spurts-firm bosses could do the jobbie? Yeah.



...But it shows it's possible to have blanket screening without it being a practical inconvenience

Security that relies on a single rigorous check, and absolute trust thereafter, hasn't proved to be a sensible architecture - as numerous IT systems have found out. Practical security is layered and multiply-redundant; each layer might be imperfect, it's the sum of them that matters.

The probability of detection doesn't have to be 100%, it has to be sufficient to deter an attempt - because failure makes for bad publicity. How many did the Glasgow terrorists deter from signing up for "the cause"? Did the well-publicised news of SHORAD and Typhoons out of Northolt mean that someone crossed "let's use a plane" off their list of evil plans?


or the "security"-wankers, whom we know are around, & are terminally incompetent & arrogant.

I'll agree with you that G4S appear to be both incompetent and greedy, and that you'll find plenty of examples of bad security. None of that invalidates the threat that they are intended to address - my worry is that to me you appear to be arguing that nightclubs shouldn't have doormen, because they are often powercrazed numpties who act unreasonably on a night out. What's the alternative? Assuming that you were running a London Olympics, what's your solution? And "don't host it" isn't an option...

As a result of our foreign policy (whatever you think of it) there are enough angry gullible people who can be persuaded by angry manipulative types to go out in a blaze of expected glory - and are prevented from doing so because of the efforts of the people you appear to class as arrogant and terminally incompetent.

The professional security types seem to do a good enough job of protecting us against the murderous ones - terrorist supply lines have so far been prevented from delivering materiel into mainland UK, and as a result our current domestic terrorists lack firearms and are reliant on home-made explosives.

Until the day of chocolate fountains, sparkly unicorns, and a world free of murderous idiots, we're stuck with security checks, cameras, and having litter bins and postboxes sealed near previously-announced or predictable targets. Sorry for any inconvenience :(


Anyway, did you hear of "promising" young moron (sorry, "athlete")

Oi, I resemble that remark.

There was a period in my sport where I was competing for GB, and had to make the call between "do I make a serious attempt to go for the Olympics" and "do I accept that I'm never going to be a full-time athlete, and scale my ambitions back to being competitive at Commonwealth level".

Unfortunately, I couldn't look at my performance and go for the former, and the arrival of children put the mockers on "take up penury in order to pursue my dream" (although our firstborn did go to a Commonwealth Games, because both parents were competing and he was only three months old...)

I know a few athletes who will be competing. Trust me, if an athlete is serious they couldn't give a monkeys about the Torch relay.


No, No .... Know!!!!!! It's " the Illuminati and occultism and Satan " who are ..Really ARE!!!!! ..Responsible for the various Banking Political Scams, otherwise its just ordinary average Ancient of Days Nepotism and Bureaucratic corruption.

At a High enough level all Political systems are tied together with the razor wire of Family/Clan/ Old School affiliations. Even at the ever so Jr level of Good Ole Boy/Grrl Network the Question is ...Is HE/SHE The Right Sort of Chap? Are they People Like US ? And will HE/SHE give my Sprog/Nephew/Niece a placment - unpaid of course - in BigBucks Merchant Bank/Multi Nat a comfortable remove from the Reach of The Law ?

Do you think that Tony Blairs progeny and their like will ever lack for a Suitable JOB that befits their Station in life ?


Those are just boring old everyday conspiracies that are as old as history. The nuts want something more to be true. It's one thing to be crushed under the heel of Satanic Cosmic Evil, and quite another to be duped time and again by the toffs.


It's one thing to be crushed under the heel of Satanic Cosmic Evil, and quite another to be duped time and again by the toffs.

s/Toffs/Middle classes/

(Note for y'all; the UK implications of upper/middle/working classes are different from the US implications)

Who do you think are partners in law firms, accountancy firms, senior executives in banks? It isn't the Old Etonians (at least, not round here), it's middle class types who made it up the greasy pole. Being a Decent Chap might be good enough for a introduction or an internship, but they still have to earn the law degree, or pass the exams to become a CA or MBA.

Meanwhile, the landed gentry are either struggling to run the estate while worrying about death duties, or spending a few years in a decent Regiment getting shot at while they wait to start struggling to run etc. etc. Upper-class airheads are to be found running bijou little art galleries, not multinationals.

Check where Bob Diamond, Fred Goodwin, and George Mathewson went to school, I suspect that you can't really call them "toffs" ;)


"Check where Bob Diamond, Fred Goodwin, and George Mathewson went to school, I suspect that you can't really call them "toffs" ;)"

Check where our MPs went to school and university:

Over one third (35%) of MPs elected in the 2010 General Election attended independent schools, which educate just 7% of the school population. The proportion of MPs attending independent schools is 3 percentage points higher than in the previous 2005 Parliament bucking a trend during recent decades that has seen the proportion of privately-schooled MPs gradually fall. Less than half (43%) of MPs were educated in comprehensive state schools, with the remainder having attended state grammar schools (22%). 54% of Conservative MPs attended fee paying schools, compared with 40% of Liberal Democrat MPs, and 15% of Labour MPs. There are 20 Etonians in the 2010 Parliament -- 5 more than those who served in the 2005 Parliament. Overall 13 schools (12 of which are fee-charging) produce a tenth of all MPs in the new Parliament. 35% of newly elected MPs for the 2010 Parliament attended independent schools the same proportion as MPs who were re-elected


But what percentage of those MPs are just Lobby Fodder? What power does an individual MP actually have, Etonian or no, compared to the CEO of Barclays, the MD of BAE, to Bob Crow, or to the Lead Partner of Deloittes?

A Minister, maybe, but look at the last Labour Minister of Defence. Look at how desperately the outgoing politicians sold themselves to that newspaper sting; Geoff Hoon held offices of State, if he really had any transferable power he wouldn't have tried to sell himself for a few grand once it was obvious that Labour was going to lose.

Basically, if you weren't PM, forget it - you're little league and either easily bought, or living off the deals you set up while in office. Even given that, it's hardly levers of power stuff.

Sad to say, but most "professional" UK politicians are the losers who couldn't cut it on a real degree course, and spent their time trying to rename the Students' Union or get elected as a full-time NUS official. Spend a few years as a researcher, lose a few unwinnable bye-elections, get a seat, and spend the rest of your time being told how to vote by the Whips' Office. Just the iob for a Chap rather than a Star. Maybe they spent a few years as a junior lawyer, and discovered that making Partner looked too much like hard work...

Unfortunately, I suspect we get the politicians and the journalists that we deserve.


The 7/7 bombings were targeted at the British people. See eg al Zawahiri's statement "Your democratically-elected governments continuously perpetuate atrocities against my people all over the world. And your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters. Until we feel security you will be our targets and until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people we will not stop this fight. We are at war and I am a soldier. Now you too will taste the reality of this situation."

It's an act of vile evil, but it's also a comprehensible political move.

Aum Shinriko, yeah, I dunno, rather less sane I suspect.

Anyway, the security around the Olympics could plausibly be protecting against attacks on high profile guests. Such an attack could have a symbolic meaning, and high profile guests wouldn't have to stand around at security checkpoints. (Plus it's a chance to normalize high security and frame the enemy as incomprehensibly evil. Win win win.)


The difference between a doorman and mindless security theatre is that a doorman has learned to read people instead of frisking each and every person on their way in - much more efficient yet far less intrusive.

However, since this security theatre is managed by a bureaucracy their procedures can only rely on the lowest common denominator to make sure even those screeners who barely passed the "entry exam" can function. Minimum wages only lower the level of expertise.


The point about the ruling class in the UK is that an effective hybrid has been achieved between the newcomers with all the money and the old landed families. Of course many do live in genteel poverty, opening their homes to the public and having trouble sending their children to the right school. But many more have infiltrated the City of London, politics and corporations.
The second main point is that the newcomers have internalised many but not all of the attitudes of their social betters; see Hyacinth Bucket for a comedic example of middle class silliness, but now imagine that sort of approach by someone with millions in the bank and contacts with lots of rich and powerful people.

The end result is rule by money worshippers, which is definitely one of the worse options because of their lack of guiding principles (except more money for me now) and lack of connections to us plebs.


An interesting point about the British class system goes back to the appearance of social immobility among the Victorians. Actually, they were very mobile indeed -- both upward and downward. However, an upwardly-mobile person did their best to spend money on generating the appearance of being Old Money, i.e. of having inherited their rank and wealth; while nothing inspired pity/contempt like someone who was downwardly mobile, so the downwardly mobile kept a low profile. Upshot: a society that, from the outside, looked static.

I'm not convinced that we aren't in the process of creating the opposite, today. We have a lot of prominent people of high ability from humble origins, everywhere from football pitches to boardrooms to parliament. However, the cost of getting an education -- credentialism -- and the inflation in real estate prices have added around £250,000 per person to the cost of achieving a middle-class lifestyle by age 35 since 1979. And that's money that can be obtained only by (a) superstar working performance[*], (b) inherited wealth, or (c) going into debt and paying compound interest on the student loan and mortgage.

If you add the cost of kids on top -- education included, if you want them to get the contacts to be able to get to the top -- the whole middle class dream thing looks dauntingly difficult.

(And now the tossers are trying to privatize the NHS, forcing us to cough up profits to their private-sector healthcare cronies. Truly, "to be rich is glorious"!)

[*] I include "crime", and you have to be a criminal superstar to make a quarter-mil and hang onto it: bank robbery and street-level drug-dealing are terribly badly paid and have poor long-term career prospects.


My two-year old has become very taken with the torch relay and has been re-enacting “running the torch” in our hall.


Security The difference between going into Portcullis House (part of Parliament) - where the decurity was armed police: thorough, efficient, polite, considerate - & no problem at all. And The moronic pivate idiots at (would you believe it) Hampton Court Flower Show was painful, and yes, there was a shouting match.

"Class" is a myth, though the Labour party are doing their best to make it real. And they and some completely wooly-minded useful idiots also, are those responsible for trashing the English Education system. I doubt if somoene could do now what my father (born 1911) did - his dad died when he was 13, leaving my grandmother a "single mom" with two sons. When my father retired he was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemitry... He went to grammar school, the garuanteed way out of the underpaid area for intelligent children, got a scholarship... etc. Couldn't do it now, and we can't have "elitist" (Trans: Doing the best possible) for children in education could we?

Result. The actual opposite of what was publicly wanted - those who want the best for their children will beggar themselves to try to get a private education for their kids. Yet, in 1963, when I left school, the state schools were out-performing (all but hte very best) private ones, in terms of getting pupils into Universities. No, you really could not make it up, could you?

As for class - well - which of my ancestors do you want to pick - one great-grandmothers' family, who had the name "Paramour" (ahem); another G-G's family who were called "Pydd" (very basic Saxon in the fens); the religious refugees who came to England in the clothes they stood up in and whose last surname I use; or the father-&-son who were Lord Chancellors of England (the other half of my surname)? [And whom I look like, incidentally!] Well?


I like your point about the cost of transition between classes, and the resulting increase in size of the social mobility hysteresis loop.

There are stable long-term second-order effects noticeable within Edinburgh - notable for having 25% of its children in private education. House prices in the catchment areas for the better state schools are on average (2 children x six-ish years of fee paying secondary education) more expensive than similar houses near "less attractive" state schools; going to the Royal High School can be just as effective in networking as going to Fettes. Another factor is that private education in Edinburgh is still cheaper than full-time childcare for a pre-school child.

I'd put one big widening of the hysteresis loop down to the loss of the apprenticeship system; it was a way of turning bright youths whose background or outlook wouldn't support "not earning immediately after leaving school", into degree-educated professionals without the need for them to enter debt. We had lots of them at Ferranti; blame the loss of the defence industry and a lowered need for warm bodies in science and engineering roles. Cold Wars are occasionally useful.

Another factor is the shrinkage in the other traditional route that avoids "credentialism"; namely the Armed Services. A chunk of my cohort at a state school ended up passing various commissioning boards, thus entering a system that confers middle-class status without debt (and before we get any cheap shots at the Army, I would suggest those commissioning boards are far more culture-fair than anything else out there in the labour market).

You could always ask Ben Aaronovitch about the effect on the Police Service of lots of middle-class kids seeing it as an attractive job, where their parents' generation might not... and crowding out the working-class kids who would otherwise have filled those spots.


The important thing about our ruling elite just now is not that there are quite a lot of toffs in it, but two related problems.

One, that all alternative sources of authority and power have been consistently trampled into the dust and power ruthlessly centralised. This is of course a long term trend, yet you can see just how far it has gone in the last 30 years. Two, that entwined with this, the governing elite all believe pretty much the same things, as seen by new labours response to the condems slash and burn budget mostly being just "we'll do it more slowly", not "We'll nationalise things and not cut anything at all because our economic model is fundamentally different from the condems". In order to get ahead you have to believe or act as if you believe the same dogmas, no matter where you started from.

This gives us no democratic alternative to vote for, and ensures that we are disenfranchised and left out in the cold. It also means that actual distribution of the spoils of government feed into the global financial system, rather than being used more locally, say to endow a library.


I have a comment in moderation, if someone would be so kind as to free it.


Done (see above).


As a (now) ex-farmer, it is hard for me to think of the old aristocracy as being all that different from me. We were in the same business, facing the same problems. We could be leaning on the same fence, bitching about the same problems. Different scale and that's why I'm an ex-farmer, but we both squirmed under the iron heel of Asda.

No wonder people such as him have been squeezed out of the House of Lords.


Actually, I find Constable Trousersnake to be one of the least hideous Wenlocks: probably something to do with less exposed Wenlock surface area to affront the eye.


Way back Sam @ 99

Sorry, but you have swallowed LUL's lies complete. Look, I'm fully sighted and reasonably mobile, and I find the multiple, simultaneous tube announcements (all much too LOUD) disorienting. If you are blind, relying on audible clues only, it is going to be WORSE, isn't it. "Stand clear of the doors" (electonic moron) every time AFTYER there is an automate bllep. "Stand behind the yellow line at all times (ditto) - if you did that, you would not be able to get on to a train! The ranting, bullying and lying is constant. We managed very well from 1864 until about 2003 without all this, how come it's necessary NOW? Also, announcements hsould be for emergencies, and out-of course announcements - then people will take notice. Now, no-one does, because they are rabbitting on the whole time! Idiots.


Sorry, but you have swallowed LUL's lies complete.

Probably because my wife works for TfL Strategy & Policy. Enlighten me: what is the truth concealed behind these lies?

-- Sam


Re. previous occupations of MP's, some graphs here:

They clearly support the hypothesis of the emergence of a professional political body and increase in middle class-ness.


The relay - which isn't really a relay, relying as it does on getting the bus between photo ops - is going through my city as I type this. The children seem quite excited, but are of an age where they'd be just as amused by a dead seagull. Lots of hi vis clad enforcement stopping me from getting across town, Butchers' Aprons everywhere like the relief of bloody Mafeking. Gangs of attractive (in an obvious way) young ladies and men in Coca Cola shirts. My phone mysteriously switched to another network. No sign of anything resembling an athlete.


Hush Sam, don't go upsetting our resident Mail reader. If he wants to call your wife a liar without bringing along any facts, well, that's his right.


And a hundred years ago, working class MPs were pretty scarce too. You might be missing a shift from the upper class to the middle class, in terms of some measures at least. I wonder if the middle class of today is what it used to be, a century ago. But, after a couple of checks, I wonder if we under-estimate the social mobility there has been. Crofter to Earl in four generations (if I just counted right), for one instance. What about Alan Sugar?

We cannot predict who, leaving school today, can follow such examples. It's perhaps more significant that the starting points in many "professional" careers seem set at a higher point. That crofter, that tailor's son, could they take the first step they did now?


Erm, that's a rather confusing way of putting it, given the last century saw the rise of the labour party and eclipse of the liberals; the existence of cabinet ministers who came from poor backgrounds (yes I know quite a few were rich fabians etc) and so on. IT also depends on which definition of working class you are using. But it is clear that the unions are pretty much spent as a political force, and that as discussed above, alternative methods of climbing into power are pretty much dead.
That today's tailor's son is unlikely to work his way up is what I am arguing as well. To elaborate, my point is that when power is less centralised, alternative methods of climbing up are possible, e.g. through union politics, universities, etc etc. When power is centralised and blatantly beholden to financial interests (In the same way that 200 years ago it was beholden to landed interests), there is only one route into power.

You seem to be talking about economic power though, and the same thing applies there as has already been explicated by our host and others. Note that all measures of social movement have been decreasing since the 1980's, and the gini coefficient rising. You could argue that the post war settlement period was one of unusually high social mobility, and I am sure that to some extent it was, but do not underestimate the effects of the destruction of alternative economic routes to money, the ability of large corporations to crush all possible opposition and the evils of credentialism (Which in the USA means people graduate with impossible to repay debts around their necks).


Sam @ 144 Erm: 80 or is it 90-second minutes on the train describer boards? The repetitive and unnecessary annoucements that "all lines are running a good service" (Then fucking SHUT UP - that is 150% un-necessary?) The constant audible & other bullying of both staff and passengers (Why is LUL's industrial relations so bad? I mean, ASLEF are active on all rail lines, but it seems that on LUL they are especially erm "Militant" - I wonder why?) The insistence that all these announcements are "necessary" which they plainly are not. The difference between travelling in the "tube" and London Overground, never mind an ex-BR TOC? THE "NIH" syndrome that made sure that cooling hot sub-surface stations took at least 5 years longer than necessary? The signs on stations that can't be seen by passengers, because (quote from Diamond Geezer) they are "installed by cretins?"0 Etc ad nauseam?????


For what it's worth, I'm sorry you're constantly bullied by RMT members whenever you travel by Tube. It must be very aggravating. Unless by "bullying" you mean "stand clear of the doors, please".

As for the rest...

The 50% variation on timing is an annoyance, yes, but it's not actually a global '90-second minutes' policy. There's a limit on how closely they can track trains with the existing equipment.

I've not heard anything about cooling solutions beyond the usual complaints that cooling a deep-level system is much harder than cut-and-cover, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Underground had a bad case of "not invented here" - they're notoriously insular within TfL.

IIRC, the "good service on all other lines" announcements are supposed to provide a kind of audio equivalent of the boards at the station entrance. The idea is that consistent regular announcements make it easier for people to get the information they need, and covers scheduled engineering work better than the old interrupt-driven system. I know there was survey work done on the effectiveness so there's a reasonable chance it does what it was supposed to.

I don't know which signs you have in mind as "installed by cretins" and I suspect you don't either. Which is not to say that there aren't platforms that need more signs installed. (The Northern Line at Waterloo, for a start.)

I use the Overground once a month at best, and not at peak times. If it's better then it's probably because it's new and the service operators are still subject to massive scrutiny by TfL. There were a few confrontations between station staff and mystery-shoppers when they started up.

As an aside - the real problem with the Tube is that it's at capacity with no real room to expand, and it's far from the most important part of TfL. Better buses would improve for everyone... but buses aren't sexy and don't carry as many wealthy people as the Tube.


One the overground line that runs through Highbury and Stoke Newington, the signs are a dark purple/blue colour with thin white lettering on them. It's almost impossible to find them on the platform from the train window at night. And they don't seem to put many out, either.

I note in passing that both Beijing and Tokyo manage well air-conditioned trains and platforms. Interestingly, apparently the large companies in Japan have been told to tell their staff that every day is casual day in summer, to reduce the amount of a/c needed (3-piece suits? In summer?) because of the electricity problems Japan still has...


(ouch, 152/153 are accidental dupes after M/T error on first post. Can a mod delete one?)


The Olympic logo reminds me of the Power Point images in one of Charles Stross´ Laundry novels; tapping into the non-Euclidian space the Old Ones come from and designed to make the readers go literally insane!


I also worked on a similar system, but it was a US government web site used for reporting and paying coal mining fees. So the login served as a legal signature.


The 11 plus system was evil, it branded 70% of the population as failures at 11 making it virtually impossible for them to attend university. The evil was the pass rate was determined not by the ability of the pupils but purely by the number of Grammar School places in the area, this varied wildly from place to place. There were few places in the north and working class areas and many more places in the south and middle class areas. There were more places for boys than girls. The effect was a pernicious denial of opportunities to members of already disadvantaged groups. The Comprehensive system serves the pupils better, it is much more flexible at dealing with pupils who develop later and gets better overall results.


Someone started passing around this Dalek Security image - and I cannot think of many ways this approach to the Olympics would be worse. If nothing else they'd probably stay out of the Tube, right?

"Unauthorized logo sighted! Litigate! Litigate!


Brett Dubar WRONG The "evil" couild have been easily fixed by making more Grammar School places available, so there was not a postcode lottery.

Actually, comprehensive education CAN work just as well. Unfortunately it usually hasn't for insane ideological reasons. To make it wirk, one must provide, inside those comprehamsives, classes in which pupils are selected / streamed / setted according to their abilities, and not taught in so-called "Mixed-ability" classes. Which, a lot of the time, they are. And its a disaster.

Sam The bullies on LUL are the management, not the platform staff, even though they are forced to do what they do, on pain of dismissal / disciplinary action. It's loopy. Haven't you got it yet? Most people will automatically listen to the human voice. If the "annpouncements" are running virtually all the time AND they are 150% unnecessary, no-one takes any notice. Those announcements also overlap, so often you have two (or even three) proceeding simultaneously, so you can't actually hear ANY of them.

You are defending the indefensible. Meanwhile I'm waiting for the next bad crowd-crush where the bellowing "announcements" will mke it even worse.


Wrong the system was unfixable. The problem was innate in the basic design of the system. Any system which separates on the basis of an exam and then brands most as failures is evil. The split system was a failure.

Streaming within a comprehensive school system seems to produce the beast overall results, then setting, then mixed ability with the split system at the bottom.

Any exam system where the number of passes is predetermined and not based on the candidates performance relative to a fixed standard is evil.


The real evil of selective education lies in the fundamentally stupid idea that the academic sheep can reliably be separated from the vocational goats with a single test (or other assessment) at age 11...

My cohort (born 1960) had the more or less unique experience of being separated in this way at age 11 and then reunited (as selective education gave way to comprehensive) at age 15. A disturbingly high proportion of those allocated for the "keep them out of sight until they're old enough to go down the pit, join the army, or bolt the wheels onto Ford Cortinas" stream[1] turned out to be capable of matching (and occasionally exceeding) the achievements of those of us on the academic, grammar school stream. While in principal it was possible for late developers to switch tracks after selection on leaving junior school (as it was then), in practice it just didn't happen and if you had a bad day, didn't get on with your teachers, or (as I'm pretty confident happened on more than one occasion) someone had a score to settle with your parents you were screwed good and proper for the rest of your life.

Speaking as someone who was on the "right" end of it the problems of selective education don't lie in what happens after selection, they lie in the act of selection at a single arbitrary point of a child's development itself.

[1] And let's be brutally honest here, that's the purpose secondary modern schools served, certainly it was true of the late, not-at-all-lamented South Parade in my home town of Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire...


Bother, all that's for sale on Amazon US is a Wenlock policemen pin.


For anyone who's still reading this, and thinks the "11 Plus" was a fair, or even good, test, my Mum was a teacher, and a marker for same. Example question:- Q) Name something nice to eat. Correct A) Sweets. Not liking sweets, or answering "chocolate", "dessert" or "fruit" would all have got you a "wrong" for the question.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 14, 2012 11:37 AM.

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