Crouch End

I’ve never been to Crouch End but I can say for sure that it doesn’t look anything the hell like it is depicted in the television adaptation of the Stephen King story of the same name.

It was a decent enough Lovecraftian horror story but the location made it nigh on unwatchable as it was so obviously an American town with a few added details like a red phone box (can’t recall the last time I saw one of those outside of a US movie or television show lamely trying to make somewhere look like Britain).

For a better view of the real Crouch End I’d recommend watching Shaun of the Dead, a great movie and apparently it was filmed in Crouch End. Alternatively you could go on a virtual tour of Crouch End with views from the base of the real clock tower there.

Andy McNab and the NNPT

Andy McNab was on This Week tonight giving his take on the week. A week in which the headlines have featured every day the British military in some way from the 90th anniversary of the Somme to the deaths of two special forces soldiers in Afghanistan.

The programme turned to Andy McNab, best-selling author and former SAS Patrol Commander, to answer the following questions.

So what is the role of our armed forces in the modern world of warfare? And do we sufficiently care?

A number of interesting points arose.

Politicians that have never fought in a war have insufficient understanding of the difficulties of waging war and McNab sees this worsening as the next generation of people that have grown up on videogames and the embedded reporting of war from the frontlines grow up and take power in Westminster. He fears that they will believe that war is a relatively easy thing to carry out.

A related point is the lack of clarity of mission and clearly defined rules of engagement. This is especially true for those on the ground in Iraq where they are required to act in a way that they have not been trained to do. With only the vague rhetoric of politicians to guide them coupled with the fear that any action they take may be seen as a war crime the soldiers on the ground have lost morale.

Finally is the fact that the British military is underfunded for it’s purpose. Now I see this more of a problem of funds being spread too thinly as the British military tries to be all things to all people in effect a mini-US rather than insufficient funds being made available.

We have a perfect opportunity to reassess the British military soon as the question of the replacement of Trident is to be discussed (although both Blair and Brown seem to have already made their minds up). At the projected cost of £25 Billion does Britain still need an independent nuclear deterrent?

The Warsaw Pact plan Seven Days to the River Rhine which was recently released by the Polish government indicates that during the Cold War that Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent really was a deterrent. But as the Prime Minister is so fond of saying the rules have changed and we face a new enemy.

We no longer face the enemy that we faced during the Cold War and I believe that Britain no longer needs an independent nuclear deterrent particularly when the replacement of Trident surely would constitute a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which this country signed in July 1968 and which commits us to long-term disarmament of our nuclear weaponry.

It is inexplicable particularly in the light of the British government’s view on that other signatory of the treaty Iran and their burgeoning nuclear program.

How can me maintain our international standing when we don’t respect the disarmament provisions of the treaty whilst insisting other countries abide by the non-proliferation provisions of that same treaty?

So I believe that
1. Britain does not need a replacement for Trident given the changing geo-political situation and the nature of the new threat we as a country now face.
2. In the light that we do face a new threat in the form of terrorism which cannot be deterred by nuclear weapons surely the money could be better spent tackling a threat we do face rather than one we no longer do.
3. Our international standing is reliant on our honouring our commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the replacement of Trident would constitute a breach. We could of course withdraw from the treaty but I believe that would be equally as damaging to our international standing.

Question Time: Israel

Watched Question Time (the show is viewable online here) on the BBC tonight and one of the panellists Melanie Phillips showed her typical restraint on the issue of Israel actions in Gaza.

She basically said that the Palestinian people deserve to suffer as they voted for Hamas and therefore are complicit in the murder of Eliyahu Asheri and the capture of Corporal Shalit.

I cannot but condemn the actions of those militants responsible for those two acts they are disgusting and evil acts but neither can I but condemn Melanie Phillips for her views and the actions of the Israeli military.

Israel vowed to take “extreme action” if the Corporal Gilad Shalit was not released and they have indeed.

Thankfully Israel has halted it’s push into northern Gaza amid reports of new talks aimed at freeing its captured soldier.

The destruction of infrastructure in Gaza such as the bridges and power station was to put pressure on Hamas to secure the release of Cpl Shalit. But how can it be seen as anything other than collective punishment of the Palestinian people for the acts of a militant minority? Surely the actions of the Israeli military will do nothing but cause ordinary innocent Palestinians to become more militant.

Melanie Phillips apparently believes that they are already all extremely militant why else would they have voted for a Hamas government. The ordinary Palestinians just want to get on with their lives and voted for Hamas as a response to the corrupt Fatah government they had previously, who they viewed as being ineffective at securing a free independent Palestine.

I hope that this rumoured dialogue works as otherwise I cannot see the situation failing to escalate and further innocents being made to suffer on both sides of the conflict.

“I was a dad once.”

The Doctor dropped the bombshell that he was once a dad during tonight’s episode of Doctor Who.

I guess this is an allusion to the fact that he had a granddaughter named Susan in the William Hartnell episodes of the TV series and in the Doctor Who movies that starred Peter Cushing.

So it follows that if he has a granddaughter then he must at one time have had a child. The subject of whether he has sex is one that has been alluded to but never really expanded upon and as what is a family show it probably never will.

However I have an alternate theory to explain the existence of a granddaughter, especially given that she appears to be human rather than Gallifreyan. She may in fact be the daughter of a human that The Doctor picked up and adopted as his child much in the same way that Death adopted a child in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of books.

Coincidentally the name of Death’s granddaughter is Susan.

"I was a dad once."

The Doctor dropped the bombshell that he was once a dad during tonight’s episode of Doctor Who.

I guess this is an allusion to the fact that he had a granddaughter named Susan in the William Hartnell episodes of the TV series and in the Doctor Who movies that starred Peter Cushing.

So it follows that if he has a granddaughter then he must at one time have had a child. The subject of whether he has sex is one that has been alluded to but never really expanded upon and as what is a family show it probably never will.

However I have an alternate theory to explain the existence of a granddaughter, especially given that she appears to be human rather than Gallifreyan. She may in fact be the daughter of a human that The Doctor picked up and adopted as his child much in the same way that Death adopted a child in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of books.

Coincidentally the name of Death’s granddaughter is Susan.

Who no Billie

BBC News: Billie Piper to leave Doctor Who

Actress Billie Piper is to leave Doctor Who at the end of the current series, the BBC has confirmed.

But the corporation refused to comment on reports that her character, Rose Tyler, would die in the final episode.

“It has been an amazing adventure and I can confirm it comes to an end, for now at least, as series two climaxes,” the former pop star said.

Not really that much of a surprise as I’m pretty sure it was said that Billie would only be staying on for the second series back at Christmas. It has also been heavily hinted at that something dark and sinister is to befall her character, but I bet she doesn’t die and will make cameo appearances in episodes of future series.

Are you sitting comfortably?

The Idiot’s Lantern, the seventh episode of Doctor Who, was creepy fantastic.

A wonderful episode that was really quite disturbing and if hundreds of thousands of kids across the country don’t have nightmares about ‘The lady from the TV coming to get them’ tonight I’ll be surprised. This one did have the fear factor.

Fabulous bit of writing by Mark Gatiss who also wrote the excellent episode from the first season The Unquiet Dead.

It was perfectly cast I thought. Maureen Lipman was outstanding as the villain of the piece and both Ron Cook and Jamie Foreman were great in their roles as Magpie and Eddie Connolly.

The shots of a faceless grandmother and that of a faceless Rose will stay with me for many days I feel.

Madame Du Pompadour and The Doctor

If last week’s episode was like old school Doctor Who at it’s best then this was definitely new school Doctor Who at it’s best. You would never have had a story like this in the old days which was basically a love story involving the Doctor against a typical time travel background.

The robots would have scared me as a seven year old more than anything else so far this series. Like Sophia Myles said in Doctor Who Confidential they were like sinister clowns. Smiling but deadly, it can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

Madame Du Pompadour was great, she was intelligent, brave, commanding and very beautiful. I could totally fall for a woman like that.

Godspeed my lonely angel

I thought it was heartbreakingly poignant stuff.

Bloody Cybermen next week. Cool.

The Street

Just finished watching the third episode of The Street on BBC One that I’d recorded from earlier. This was a truly gut-wrenchingly powerful piece of drama.

The tension was built so well that I was having my emotional insides being ripped raw along with the characters to the point near the end where I felt that Neil Dudgeon’s character Brian was on the point of topping himself only to be saved by the call on his mobile from his wife with the news that the truth had come out.

Brian has returned home having left becuase his wife Ann (Lindsey Coulson) didn’t believe him, but these events will have altered things between he and his wife. There’s no going back now they only can move on from here and hope to build a new trust.

I’m annoyed I missed last week’s episode because on the evidence of tonight’s and the first episode which starred Jane Horrocks this series is shaping up to be the best drama of the year.

Review: Lost season 1 finale

I was thrilled but also a little disappointed by the final episodes of Lost last night.

We got to see a little more of the nature of the monster in the jungle and yet it is still a mystery in fact more of a mystery now as what I had thought that it was was proved not to be accurate.

We finally got to see The Others and they appear to be just yet another group of survivors but separate from those of Flight 815 and Danielle’s crew. In fact the island seems to have attracted many different groups of people over the years what with the Nigerian drug smuggling priests and then The Black Rock which appears to be a very old ship that somehow ended up 2 miles inland.

So The Others appear to be just a group of survivors that have been on the island for longer than even the 16 years of Danielle. Yet they are are armed and have a boat with a motor plus they seem to posses knowledge about Walt’s abilities.

I was left feeling there wasn’t enough resolution to plot threads and yet more questions have arisen in my mind. But I’m gripped enough to make the wait til spring for the start of season 2 seem almost unbearable at the moment. But I’m worried that due to the nature of US television we’ll never get that final resolution, it will just be dragged out for years and years and then the series will get cancelled.