Just Dead Socialist Watch

Nick and Raj and also Norm have severally informed the World of Blogs that Paul Foot has died. (Perhaps they get up earlier than I do in the morning or something, or live in different timezones.) So there’s another Dead Socialist with which to reckon.

Me, I liked his early stuff best, The Politics of Harold Wilson and, especially, Race and Immigration in British Politics.

The Guardian’s obit is here, though it probably won’t tell you much you didn’t know about him before.

UPDATE [23.7.2004]: The Guardian’s obit is, in fact, here. The link above was just to a news item. I liked the bit about how, from the early 1960s onwards, “Neither his politics nor his hairstyle was to change…” And I should add The Rise of Enoch Powell to the list of really good Foot books, and I’m not sure why I missed it off first time around.

Spam, spam, unlovely spam

Nick‘s been having the same problem with the same spammer that I’ve been having — though I have the further problem that a glitch in the (usually excellent) comments service I use mean that I haven’t been able to conduct a search-and-destroy mission and then ban “Perry” from So apologies for any pollution you come across in the comments boxes: I’ll try to fix it soon.

So la lotta between civilisation and spam continua.

He Works For You

My goodness, I’m glad I signed up for the Tim Collins Email List. Otherwise I’d never have heard about this important event:

CUMBRIAN MP HOSTS COUNTDOWN RECEPTION AT HOUSE OF COMMONS: The Channel 4 quiz programme Countdown celebrated 21 years at a special House of Commons reception hosted by South Lakes MP Tim Collins on Tuesday 13 July. For more on this story, click here.

Sadly, you don’t get much more on the story when you follow the link, just that “Mr Collins, who is also the Shadow Education Secretary, used the reception to explore how the unique Countdown word and number game can be used to promote numeracy and literacy amongst schoolchildren” and that “The South Lakes MP was joined by the show’s hosts Carole Vorderman and Richard Whiteley together with other MPs and guests at the event.” Well, that’s good to know.

Have You Read Them All?

There’s a fine Gregorian Rant, posted yesterday, that reflects on the important matter of owning lots of books.

Greg also provides a snippet and a link to one of Myles na Gopaleen’s funniest essays:

‘Popular Handling–Each volume to be well and truly handled, four leaves in each to be dog-eared, and a tram ticket, cloak-room docket or other comparable article inserted in each as a forgotten book-mark. Say, £1 7s 6d. Five per cent discount for civil servants.”Premier Handling-Each volume to be thoroughly handled, eight leaves in each to be dog-eared, a suitable passage in not less than 25 volumes to be underlined in red pencil, and a leaflet in French on the works of Victor Hugo to be inserted as a forgotten book-mark in each. Say, £2 17s 6d. Five per cent discount for literary university students, civil servants and lady social workers.’

There’s more: just think what you get for £7 18s 3d? Seeing that again after too many years made me very happy this morning.

Bastille Day

It’s only just gone noon (UK time), but I see that Richard Virenque has already led the Tour over the top of three hills as he begins to rack up the points in the King of the Mountains competition.

All I can say right now is that it would be splendid if he won the stage and finished the day in the polka-dot jersey.

UPDATE [Just past 3pm]: Yes, Virenque’s still on the attack, has been first to the top of all nine summits today, and looks set for the stage win. (And the live coverage of the Tour de France is proving much more gripping than the unfolding of the Butler saga…)

Mike Woodin, RIP

Some Virtual Stoa readers will be sad to hear that Mike Woodin, psychology tutor at Balliol College, Green member of Oxford City Council and “co-speaker” of the Green Party (apparently) recently died of lung cancer at the shockingly young age of 38.

There’s a snippet from the google cache here, a piece in the Guardian and a note about his funeral, which took place earlier today, on Oxford Indymedia here.

UPDATE [13.7.2004]: Matt points out in the comments that there’s an obituary in today’s Independent.

UPDATE [14.7.2004]: Caroline Lucas has written an obit for the Guardian.

Apparent Voter Apathy Explained

I was pleased to learn a few days ago that estimable Oxford socialist Ann Black had been re-elected to Labour’s National Executive Committee, topping the poll of party members.

Then I felt a little guilty that I hadn’t voted for her. Then I decided that I had never received a ballot paper.

But now all is clear: the ballot papers come along with copies of the party’s new magazine Labour Today, and since Labour Today is one of those things I get through the post that goes straight into the bin without being opened, so too on this occasion did my democratic rights and responsibilities.

Turnout was apparently 18% in this election.

(Now try to guess what proportion of party members read Labour Today?)

Colonel Mustard in the Library with the… um… iPod?

From today’s Independent on Sunday (p.14):

A woman is awaiting trial in Memphis, Tennessee, for battering her boyfriend to death with an iPod. Arleen Mathers was most put out when she discovered that Brad Pulaski, worried about her illegal downloading of songs, had erased 2,000 of her tracks. So she allegedly took her digital music player and bludgeoned him about the face and chest and estimated 40 to 80 times.

Just below it there’s another fine story about a man who went into a restaurant in Sweden saying that he was the “alcohol inspector from the local council and that he needed to check the alcohol content of each drink they served… Only when his investigations began to involve slurred speech, loss of muscle control and throwing things around did the owners realise he might not be all he claimed.”