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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Serviski industries

Travelling the highways and byways of England recently, I stopped a few times at motorway service stations. Every time I stopped, I was served by people who appear to be Polish, or least Eastern European of some description. I'm not saying this to complain about it, far from it, but you can't help noticing that the vigorous growth of our service industries seems to be fuelled wholly by imported labour. When I last went to Scotland, every single person who provided any kind of service -- from the hotel porter to the waitress at the Mexican restaurant -- appeared to be Polish. I'm not sure if the metropolitan elite, who are used to the cosmopolitan nature of the capital, understand the magnitude of this transformation in the rest of country.

I'm not bringing this up in order to pass judgement one way or the other, but I was moved to comment on this because the postman called yesterday morning to deliver a parcel and when I answered the door, she was Polish too. I wonder what happened to the previous Seikh gentleman?

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Help, help, I'm being repressed

My youngest son gave his first ever music recital last week. It was only a few notes as part of an ensemble, but as every parent knows, that's not the point. Unfortunately, I don't have a photograph of this wonderful occasion nor a video clip to show Grandma and Grandad. As I stood up to capture the treasured moment for posterity, I was promptly assailed by an official and told that I was not allowed to photograph my own child at a public performance because the performance was in a school and that it was "County policy" that I was not allowed to take either still pictures or a video clip. I asked her if it was an intelligence-led decision (what do you think -- from Surrey County Council?) on the basis that a known pervert was in the audience and if so, under "Reid's Law" if we shouldn't have been informed, but my wife told me to shut up.

Clearly, my behaviour was, to Surrey County Council, beyond the pale. By contrast, some of the behaviour considered perfectly acceptable was allowing your child to spend the entire recital playing on a Gameboy, only pausing for a moment when (I presume) a sibling was centre stage, as well as talking while the children were playing and -- something that particularly annoys me -- leaving as soon as your child has finished their piece. Outright rudeness and a flamboyant lack of respect for other people: no problem. Wanting to record an important event in your child's life: totally unacceptable.

There was a guy in the row in front of me who had a video camera on his lap and was filming surreptitiously when any of his kids were playing. Should I have shopped him? Let's hope the government's plan to have CCTV cameras everywhere, all the time, will put an end to such agonising moral dilemmas.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

My life in politics

I was very flattered to be asked along to a Conservative party think tank about future technology policy. I was sure they had me mixed up with something else, but I wasn't going to miss a chance to hang out with the big nobs, so to speak. Unfortunately, I couldn't go. I wrote a letter instead and I thought it might be fun to show it here...

Dear XXX,

I received an invitation last week from Mr. XXXX YYYY concerning a Conservative Party event on Xth March. Much as I would love to contribute I'm afraid it clashes with [an important event that] I will be attending. I imagine that the invitation stems from our previous conversation about XXXXX?

Incidentally, I read in the Saturday Telegraph a story concerning House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee chairman John Whittingdale. The story claims that he is a Tory and that he responded positively to an approach from Mr. Edward Clarke, a sometime member of the popular beat combo Motorhead, concerning the extension of copyright for song composers.

I mention this not merely because I am an infinitely bigger fan of Motorhead than Mr. Whittingdale claims to be -- as my good lady wife will testify, because I took her to see Motorhead on our first date -- and not because I have anything against Mr. Clarke personally (in fact, I am second to none in my admiration for "Fast Eddie" Clarke's lead guitar playing), but because I was wondering if this is the sort of topic that your Forum might be discussing?

If so, could you please ask them from me my why on Earth it is Conservative Party policy to extend copyright? I realise that the blandishments of producer interest groups are seductive -- and that the glamour of the pop world might temporarily blind MPs to economic first principles -- but if you are to have a policy on this topic it should be to reduce copyright significantly to the great benefit of everyone else in society apart from [pop stars].

Yours sincerely,
Citizen Dave.

In the future, everyone will be famous to fifteen people.
[posted with ecto]

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