Friday, August 31, 2007

I've signed the pledge: have you?

It's time we called a stop to it, it's time we called time at the bar. I talk, of course, of our fossil-fuel consumption and that's why I've been quick to sign the pledge.

Good liberals all, you'll have in your diaries 22nd September: 'Streets for People Day'. Previously, it was called 'Car-free Day', but that was too catchy or too contentious (what do you mean, how can I be free without my 4x4?). So, last year, it was 'In Town without my car Day' -- nobody could have accused that of being catchy.

But now we have a name which is clear and an event which is worth supporting. It's nationwide; in Oxford, it's in Broad Street and in Headington (and I'm sure elsewhere). But one day is not enough...

That's why the City Council has launched it's Streets for People Pledge. For many of us urban-dwellers, it shouldn't be so much of a challenge: I walk or bus to work every day; I have a car which gets into first gear once a fortnight. All the same, sign up to it -- and encourage others who might indulge in their car beyond the limit to do the same. Cheers!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

You must read this blog: it's official

I learn today in the press that this blog is a 'must-read'. That's according to a shady character known only as The Insider, the political gossip columnist of The Oxford Mail. I'll take approbation from anywhere.

What particularly caught the eye of The Insider -- who, by the way, I imagine to be a debonair and suave femme fatale (you can tell just from prose style) -- was my poll. But more of that another time.

Considering it's been over a fortnight since I've found a moment to scribble here, I'd say the message is less a 'must-read' to everyone else, but a 'must-write' to myself.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Dark Arts: a tutorial

I'm a novice at the game of politics, I really am. Over the years, I've tried to appreciate the subtle techniques deployed by seasoned maestri (of all parties), but I still couldn't pass Grade One. I realise there are ruses and legerdemains which help your path of action, or hinder your opponent's. But I'll be damned if I can remember them...

This comes to mind because there is a local issue creating some heat at the moment. I won't give details, for the sake of the cosmopolitan audience of this blog. But let's just say that a course of action, envisaged in this year's budget and supported, at that stage, by all parties on the Council, has now become contentious. I might have been given verbal assurances of support, but they don't count when a local member eyes a chance at re-election.

And so, I and the local member (more wizened than wise) sit in a public meeting to discuss the issue. At one point, he says something like: 'I asked for this information a month ago and still haven't got it. I think it's shocking that I and local people haven't been given the information.' The officer next to me muttered that he had only asked last week; I pointed out that last week was actually last month. As it happens, checking the e-mail trail, the first I knew about his request for information was when I saw his message of 1st August (when the relevant officers were on leave), but let's assume he'd meant to send it the day before. So he uses 'a month ago' in the sense of 'last month' (which could, of course, be last week). What a neat line that is: to create a sense of ages waiting, when the request had only gone in as the wheels of the band-wagon began to roll.

I doubt I could ever be so skilled. Then again, I doubt I would ever want to be.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Pseuds' Corner on-line

Saturday saw me off to Stratford for the new productions of Henry IV Parts 1 & 2. This is no place for a review (go to enjoy the second half of 2 HIV, and prepare to be disappointed by the rest, especially by a Falstaff [David Warner] overladen with ennui). But if you don't, and don't therefore see the programme, you'll miss this gem of lovieness, written by Richard Cordery, who was excellent as Humfrey in last year's Henry VI and moves sedately into the role ofanother figure of order, the Chief Justice in 2 HIV. He is not concerned to reflect on his roles but on the delight of being part of an ensemble. The last paragraph begins:

The great Alan Howard once told me that on an opening night an actor produces enough adrenalin to kill an ordinary man.

Alan Howard 'great'? He played a great Jewish gynacaeologist in Cook, Thief, Wife, I admit. But, that aside, I'm glad I don't get much excitement, being an ordinary man.