Britain and the World: What happens now?

Last night one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever seen happened, an incumbent Prime Minister was defeated on an issue that looked almost certain to get through, if only by the skin of it’s teeth, and despite public opinion being against the idea. What makes it extraordinary is that it wasn’t the opposition who helped defeat him it was his own party. The last time something like this happened was probably Robert Peel, who was defeated by a very minor issue owing to party resentment over the successful repeal of the corn laws. I’m trying to think of a Prime Minister who has been defeated in such a devastating way since but the only one who comes close is Margaret Thatcher, that wasn’t a parliamentary defeat however, only a party revolt (Some say she was stabbed in the back more times than Caesar.). I think Cameron is now in a position very similar to both Peel and Thatcher however. Not only has he suffered a major parliamentary defeat but he has also lost control of his own party and I think, come the party conference season we’ll start to see him being challenged for the party. I can’t see any way how he could survive this in the long term.

But David Cameron’s possible downfall isn’t the main thing here, much as I’d like to discuss that. No… The main thing is what happens now to Britain’s place on the international stage? If you aren’t aware, the whole debate last night was over whether Britain should intervene militarily in Syria and the answer came back as a resounding ‘NO.’ That ‘No’ has quite a consequence as it means that whatever happens, whether the UN finds evidence of chemical weapons or if Obama decides he’s going to take America in there, Britain will not be involved. We have been ruled out of the equation, at least from a military stand point. And this has meant that some politicians (Michael Howard, Paddy Ashdown etc.) have been bewailing that Britain’s relationship with the rest of the world is finished and we’re all doomed and by not going to war we’re appeasing Assad. But they’re very wrong for a number of substantial reasons:

Continue reading

What makes a good villain?

I’ve been thinking; A lot of the best stories, the ones that are really remembered, aren’t just well told or simply have great characters, they have a really good villain at the centre of the story- someone who sticks in your head and has the ability to send shivers down your spine long after the story is over- Someone who strikes fear into the hearts of people everywhere. you know the ones I mean, the likes of The Joker, The Child-catcher, Davros, Miss Trunchbull, Moriarty… I could go on and you probably have your own ideas about the best… But what separates the most memorable and terrifying villains from those that are just damp squibs? Here’s my thoughts:

Continue reading

Accidents In the Cotton Mills: A Solution Many Years Too Late

I was watching something about Cotton Mills recently (The Mill, Channel 4 if you want to know what it was) and it brought a thought to my mind, specifically a thought about children having gruesome and horrifically fatal accidents. I know that isn’t a pleasant thought but then again there wasn’t much about life in the cotton mills that was pleasant. There wasn’t much about the whole cotton industry that was pleasant now you mention it. But anyway… One such job that children had to do would be to pick up all the loose cotton off the floor and from under the machines. These sorts of machines:

Those kids were called Mule scavengers and as you can see those things could be quite nasty if you got caught in one. They wouldn’t be stopped whilst the floor was cleaned either. It wasn’t uncommon for fatal accidents and there is one such story where a young boy had his head caught/cut off in the machinery. There are many more such horror stories about the life of the mule scavenger. The job was one of the most dangerous, perhaps the most dangerous job in all of history. And yet, it seems, nobody thought of the most obvious solution.

Go back to the video. You’ll see that the mule moves backwards and forwards in a regular motion. Why not utilize that motion… Why not place some sort of a brush on the underside of the mule (There does look to be enough room) so that as it moves backwards and forwards it brushes up the loose cotton. It is, I’m sure you will agree, a very simple and elegant solution. It would even be more efficient as the brush could do the thing in one go whereas a child might take two or three. Having a brush underneath would mean those mule scavengers would be in less danger. Their work would be easier, they wouldn’t have to crawl about under the machinery and the mill owners wouldn’t need so many of them, or even any at all… (fewer people to feed + less wages to pay + more efficiency + better safety record = happy mill owner.)

Adding a brush is a win-win situation. The mule scavengers have better working conditions, the mill owners have more efficiency, money and a better reputation as children aren’t being injured all over the place. In fact the only people who lose out are those made redundant owing to the need for less mule scavengers… But at least those redundant children wouldn’t be crawling about under machinery… And maybe, without being mule scavengers, they would have a better life (or perhaps not, considering the period.) It’s a wonder nobody thought about this for a solution when it was actually relevant.

Introducing Dr Who (Part 1: Doctors 1-3)

NOTICE: I’ve removed the comments on this article because I was getting a lot of spam from people trying to sell Trainers and Leather goods and other such nonsense that has nothing to do with Dr Who.

Every once in a while there comes a time when the floodgates of Dr Who open wide and for a while everything is up in the air. And yes, with the forthcoming regeneration that time is now. I’m not going to pump out a list of who I think should get the job because let’s face it I’m never gonna be right. (Although I’ve got a hunch it might be either Ben Miller or Aneurin Barnard.) But now is also an excellent time to start watching. But with 800+ episodes behind you where the hell do you start if you want to catch up? Well, if you’re looking to start you can’t go much wrong with the following:

Continue reading