I was shocked by an item on ITV’s News at Ten last night reporting on an address by Tony Blair to a group of hand-picked card-carrying Labour supporters on UK politics. Iraq went deliberately unmentioned in his speech, but Iain Wilson, a student who had “infiltrated himself into the audience” with a borrowed membership card, started to harangue Blair about the Iraq issue – only to be physically manhandled out of the room. At the end of the address the supporters gave Blair a standing ovation. Congratulations to Wilson for having the guts to do it, and shame on those yes-men who swallowed Blair’s propaganda.
The Independent ran a story about this on its front page today, with a photo inside of Wilson being “removed” by Tony’s henchmen. Robert Fisk also refers to the incident with approval today in his excellent piece “The wartime deceptions“.
The Guardian ran a story in its Media section today headlined “Furore as Vogue ad hits the ‘G’ spot” about a new Gucci advert which it says shows a woman “being pushed against a wall by a male model”. It goes on to report that the image has caused offence, which given the paper’s description would not appear surprising. I bought the magazine (the first time I’ve ever done so) to have a look for myself and have to say I totally disagree with this interpretation of the image: the male model isn’t forcing himself on the woman at all; he’s kneeling down at the woman’s crotch, gazing at more in awe than desire, as if he can’t quite believe what he’s seeing – and not just because she’s had her pubic hair shaved into the shape of a Gucci “G”. It reminded me of a Leonard Cohen song called Light as the Breeze, in which the narrator kneels “at the delta, at the alpha and the omega … like one who believes”. Apart from anything else, she’s the one who’s pulling her knickers down and inviting him to gaze in wonder at her “G spot”. Ironic, incidentally, that I would never have known about the ad if I hadn’t read about it in The Guardian.
A bizarre story in today’s Times reports that SSL International, the Durex condom maker, saw its shares jump after it won a court case brought after a Chinese rival called Wuhan Jissbon Hygiene Products copied SSL’s website and passed off the firm’s sales and performance claims as their own. Jissbon, which even more strangely means “James Bond” and who sport a picture of the Justice statue from the roof of the Old Bailey on the front page of their website, were found out when they made the classic blunder of including SSL’s own name on the plagiarised site. Well, if you’re going to get caught, you may as well get caught with your pants down, eh?
As part of my job at a London press cuttings agency (he said hurriedly) I have to read through editions of financial magazines, including Professional Pensions. The references to “war” and “potential war” are increasing daily and are not very reassuring. In a story headlined “Schemes urged to invest in equities and catch upturns”, from the edition dated 9th January, Threadneedle Investments’ head of investment communications Helen Mackin says, “An outbreak of peace or a quick, clean victory for a US-led but UN-backed force would be the best outcome [for the markets]. Either could swiftly erase the ‘war premium’ in the oil price … with positive knock-on effects for the US economy.” Shurely shome mishtake… she can’t be both for and against war, can she?
However, this is nothing compared with Mark Dampier of Hargreaves Lansdown’s sentiment in a piece headlined “Between Iraq and a hard place” from Money Marketing of 9th January: “A short war could be good for Isa business.” What on earth is wrong with these people?