Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cru vs Stringfellow

Your top blogstress Cruella (that's me) was on BBC Radio Leeds again today. Didn't get much notice so couldn't really advertise. The Liz Green show was covering the Chris Tarrant affair and his suggestion that affairs were just "something men do". My "opponent" in the debate was none other than be-mulleted fake-tan embalmed sleaseball Peter Stringfellow. A couple of cool exchanges took place.

Firstly he said that he'd been unfaithful to his wife back in leeds in the 70s but that thing were different back then. I asked whether weddings were conducted without vows back then or whether he'd just said them for a laugh. He said no-one really thinks about what those vows mean...

Then he said that having affairs was "natural" for men. And I said it was natural to dig a hole in the ground and defecate in it but I didn't want to live with men who did that!

I got the last word on the matter pointing out that I really don't have a problem with people who decide they want to have multiple sexual partners, lifestyle choices, go for it. I have a problem with people who mislead others about what they're going to do.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Premium Rates

There are moves afoot to address the TV show phone-in "quizzes" where the questions are stupidly easy and the cost of entering is sky high. Now of course if GCSE maths were just a little bit more of a hurdle in this country we wouldn't have to worry about there being people out there who don't know these things are a scam. However seems like a case of too little too late to me.

Apologies in advance for quoting chunks of the article but really...

'Broadcasting minister Shaun Woodward said that, even if some channels were running scams, "it doesn't necessarily follow that they are all doing it". '

Depends what you mean by a scam. Are they making a profit from the phone lines far greater than the value of the prize they're giving away? Yes. And all the channels are doing that.

'The government would introduce more regulation if this was deemed "proportional" to the problem, but industry self-regulation would be "quicker, more flexible and more likely to work", he added. '

Industry self-regulation clearly doesn't work because that's what's going on right now. Industry self-regulation is just a euphimism for "I'll turn a blind eye and you make sure you get me a nice Christmas present".

'Mr Woodward said that "realistically, when we take part in these programmes, you know that the odds are stacked against you".'

We? I don't take part in these shows and judging by your shifting pronouns, nor do you Mr Woodward. If people taking part in these programmes are aware that they are paying far more for the call they are making than they are on average going to win then they are gambling, and that falls under much more restrictive gambling law. If they don't know then they're being scammed.

One of the responsible parties, David Brook from Optimistic Entertainment said 'We don't wish to encourage people to make multiple calls'. Now I can't say I watch a lot of these kinds of shows but I have noticed when I do watch them the never-ending urges to call and to call again if you don't get through.

And the proliferation of these shows tells us that people are falling for it and losing a lot of money.

We've also recently heard that victims of Farepak's collapse have been told to ring a premium rate number to register claims. And the same is true of the government's benefits hotline (reposted in Private Eye so no link).

What's needed is something much much stronger than what is being discussed. I suggest a major new piece of legislation to cover premium rate lines and text message services so that they can't be used for entering competitions or providing information which the company or body setting them up should reasonably be providing to it's customers or callers.

What do you think? Dial 0898 YES CRUELLA if you think premium rate numbers should be banned...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

All Shapes and Sizes of Plug

Yes here they come. Brace yourselves...

1) Mr Cru has finally succumbed to the blogging bug and started his own. He has a significant amount of experience as a military journalist so he will be sounding off about Iraq mostly I expect but check him out here.

2) Next Thursday - 30th Nov I am performing in a lovely Christmas singing show at John Lyon Hall, at the City Lit on Keeley Street, near Holborn. The bad news is it's 12.45pm - i.e. during the day so I know some people won't make it. The good news is that it's free so please come along and enjoy our tuneful singing (and the rest).

3) Upcoming gigs:

Mon 27th Nov Soho Comedy Club, Roundtable Pub, St Martin's Court, near Leicester Sqare, 8pm. £5 or free if you mention Cru-blog.

Wed 29th Nov This Week On Earth, topical panel show live at Cypress Grill, Fulham Palace Road (Hammersmith end, just after the hospital), 8.30pm, £5.

Mon 4th Dec Soho Comedy Club as above

Mon 11th Dec Soho Comedy Club Xmas party as above

Wed 13th Dec This Week On Earth as above

Mon 18th Dec Soho Comedy Club Comedy Star-In-Their-Eyes Special, as above except we all do cover versions of famous acts...

Wed 20th Dec Electric Mouse Golders Green

Thurs 21st Dec Larfin Lion King's Cross

Hope to see you all soon!

Comedy Tent

Just found this cool picture of me compering the comedy tent at Fringe Sunday in Edinburgh. My job is so much fun... (of course I say that now, those of you who were reading Cru-blog during August will remember me moaning about being knackered all the time, etc.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Spot the Slime-Ball

I'll give you a clue: HERE. Now what he superficially seems to be saying sounds emminently reasonable. That there is a difference between someone aged 17 having consensual sex with someone aged 15 and a half and someone aged 45 having sex with a 6 year old. I agree with that, of course there is. Three things though:

1) The law already recognises the difference between thse crimes. Both remain crimes but the latter incurs much more serious penalties under UK law.

2) He's suggesting the law should be changed for GIRLS from 13 up. Surely if a girl is capable of binding consent at age 13, so is a boy of the same age. There are countries in the world where the age of consent is different for boys and girls. I think that's a bad idea. I think that's sending out a message that the sexes should have different concepts of sex. And that's unhelpful.

3) He's talking about relaxing the law for men who have sex with girls from 13 up. If he means to relax the law for men and women who have sex with girls and boys from 13 up then I'm prepared to talk. However if he's relaxing the law the I think there a good case for allowing it to be applied up to a higher age limit. Say 15 to 18 year olds can have sex with someone up to five years older than them, no more. Personally I think the law is better as it is but there may be a case to be made there.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bush's latest sneaky plan

If you can't change the law directly, there's got to be a sneaky way of having the same effect. Pass the bucket...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Operation Freedom and Love

The unsurprising news that some US soldiers in Iraq have murdered a group of people and raped a 14-year-old girl is discussed on the BBC. And to think how much of a struggle it continues to be for women who want to to get to the front lines...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Have some pity...

...for Katie Davis. On her way to prison after being convicted of making false claims of rape. Now I know it's wrong to make such claims, and of course it's traumatic for the guy who was tried for the crime, but:

(a) What kind of environment has she been brought up in to believe aged 18 that if she's accidentally pregnant her only option is to claim rape?

(b) Both parties had been drinking, neither remembered what happened fully. If someone is too drunk to remember what has happened I'm unconvinced that they can truly be said to have given consent.

(c) She was 16, only just over the age of consent, he was 24.

(d) The case was dropped because of "discrepancies and inconsistencies in Davis's accounts". Now if I was going to file a false rape claim I'd get my story straight and stick to it wouldn't you? On the other hand if I'd been raped, blocked half of the horror of it out and was trying to piece together the evidence I'm sure I would need to adjust my testamony as time went by.

(e) Even these inconsistencies only cast "serious doubt" on the verdict. No one has ever said that it was fully disproved.

(f) The guy spent 10 weeks in prison for whatever he did or didn't do. For just bringing the case against him she's been sentenced to six months.

And the police wonder why only a tiny percentage of rape victims report the crimes against them!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Fairer Sex and the Beautiful Game

Yet another misogynist idiot has for some unknown reason had his ludicrous ranting reported in the mainstream press. Mike Newell, whose expertise in the world of football has led him to the dizzying heights of being manager of Luton Town has decided that women shouldn't be allowed to work as referees and other officials. His comments come surprisingly shortly after his team lost 3-2 in a game where referees assistant Amy Rayner decided not to award his boys a penalty. Senior referee Andy D'Urso agreed with Ms Rayners decision but oddly Mr Newell hasn't been calling for men to be barred from refereeing...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Baby, Bathwater, Bandwagon and Brown

As if any of us hoped that Gordon Brown might be any more honest a prime minister than Tony Blair. Witness this piece of less-than-joined-up government. Nick Griffin, the nasty little fascist at the head of the BNP has gotten off on charges of inciting racial hatred. Despite the fact that he clearly did (for instance when he said "lets show these ethnics the door in 2004"). To me the issue raised by the case it what's wrong with our law courts? The Times offers a good run-down of this guys offensive views so the failure to convict makes me want to know more about who was the judge, why were the jury not better screened to make sure they didn't hold racist opinions themselves and who was bringing the case and why didn't they get someone competent?

Instead of course Gordon Brown has waded in and said "Any preaching of religious or racial hatred will offend mainstream opinion in this country. We have got to do whatever we can to root it out from whatever quarter it comes. And if that means we have got to look at the laws again, we will have to do so".

Now firstly Nick Griffin's offences date from befor ethe incitement to religious hatred bill came in so we just don't know if the laws we have now would have been enough to get him. As I understand it even the old laws sound like enough to get him, but something went wrong in that process.

Secondly the issue of what should and shouldn't be allowed to be said in this country shouldn't in my view be a matter of what will "offend mainstream opinion". I have lots of opinions which some people may find offensive. For instance I believe that there is no God. Indeed I believe that the idea of cloud-dwelling fairies who can read everybody's minds and make notes and then use those to decide what happens to our eternal soul (I don't believe we have one of these either) such as being burnt in hell forever is absolute nonsense. I think those who believe it in the face of modern scientific understanding are delusional and as such should be barred from public office or going near children. I want the law to protect people from threat and intimidation - not criminalise debate.

But finally what Gordon Brown is calling for is a strengthening of the law on Racial and Religious hatred. And that's really the sneaky thing. More or less everyone I know thinks Nick Griffin should be locked up fr his offensive views on race issues. However religion and race are not the same issue. Saying it's bad to be black or Asian is wrong, because people don't choose their race. Saying it's bad to believe certain things is open to debate, people choose what to believe. Nick Griffin described Islam as a "wicked and evil" religion. Now I think many of it's modern adherents are very nice reasonable people, but looking at the history of Islam and the way it is still used in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and even in parts of the UK to justify treating women like goats, I think there are certainly aspects of it that are "wicked and evil", and believe me, I don't agree with Nick Griffin very often... But to read remarks from Gordon Brown you would think that race and religion were somehow equally weighted in terms of things you can't be judged on. I feel bad for those people genuinely trying to defeat racism that suddenly they're being co-opted onto a whole different movement. To me that feels like Brown doing exactly the sort of sneaky backhanded politics that we're very used to with Blair. Leaving me less than optimistic for the future.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Readers in the South-West?

Are cordially invited to come and see me tomorrow night (well tonight now since it's gone midnight) Sunday 5th Nov at Mirth Control, Havanas on the Quay in Exeter. Doors 8pm, show starts 9pm. Mr Cru (aka American comic David Mulholland) is also doing a short spot. It's a fiver to get in and please come say hello if you're there, I may even be buying beers!

The Red Carpet Treatment

Cru and Mr Cru were joined by Wufnik from BazzFazz (the guy who originally got me in to blogging!) on Friday night to attend the opening of Paul Sellar's latest play 2Graves at the Arts Theatre (it was also the re-opening of the Arts Theatre itself which has been closed for over a year). Paul is a stand-up comic I've worked with many times over the last few years so that was why we got to hang with the stars. Anyway I am really really not just saying this because he's a friend of mine but the play is really fantastic. Not just the writing but also the performance by Jonathan Moore is captivating. It's a one-man piece, all in verse, about a guy from the midlands in the underworld of darts, snooker and gangsters and it's very funny - largely because of the way that it rhymes - and very dramatic and meaningful too. I won';t say anymore as I don't want to spoil it but seriously recommended.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Porn again

Interesting article in The Guardian discussing views on the post-Jane Longhurst anti-violent porn bill. I agree with those in favour - we should prosecute the owners of this stuff. I seem, in this respect to come up against three key arguements:

1) (As voiced by Bonnie Greer) Once we start censoring, the censorship will spread to affect our rights to freedom of speech, etc and be a problem for artists/playwrites/etc.

Well we already have censorship in certain areas. Child pornography is banned in the UK. All we're suggesting is moving the line of what is and isn't censored. If we can't have that debate then we effectively are censored, the decision has to be open to discussion. And no doubt at some point there will be a play that shows an act of child rape which is then debated hotly by the censors and banned in some places amid critical outcry, etc. At the same time I think we have to protect against anyone who wishes to show violent horrific acts for the purpose of tittilation and then cover their backs by calling it art. Good art and good theatre can use symbolism to evoke the situation without having to be gratuitously graphic.

2) (As voiced by Holly Combe) The problem should be solved by stopping such material being produced in the first place.

Well yes that would be an ideal solution, I agree. But the internet is a global network, covering regions where we have no control over the legislation and covering a widely varying region in terms of economic power. If we allow the download and ownership of violent porn, we have to accept that we fund the production of it. Is our aim to end the production of it or just to announce that we don't want it produced. Is it not worth a small decrease in our freedoms to prevent thousands of rapes and murders around the world? Lets be realistic not idealistic. By the same token we might suggest illegalising the sale but not the purchase of drugs, which creates a totally unclear message: if you can get it, ok, but don't let us see you.

3) (As voiced by Mr Cru) But what if someone borrows your computer or you buy a second hand computer and there are files on there you don't know about.

Well sure, some people get wrongly accused of crimes. That's like saying some guy was framed for murder and that's not fair so lets legalise murder. We make the law and then we do our best to enforce it fairly.

As usual Jeremy Coutinho from Object has some great - and to my mind shocking - points to make on the subject, so here he is:

'Obviously these proposals are "a good news day" for women's human rights. They plug a legal loophole whereby the distribution and sale, but not the possession of violent material, was illegal.

Simply closing this loophole, though, does not in itself address society's attitudes towards women, which are still extraordinarily sexist and allow rape, sexual assault and discrimination to flourish. The mainstreaming of a porn aesthetic and outlook is now endemic.

So, for instance, in Virgin Airline's executive lounge at JFK, the introduction of urinals shaped like women's mouths was only abandoned after massive protest. Then there was Zoo magazine's "dictionary of porn" which described abusive porn such as "pink eye" (ejaculating on to a woman's eye ball). Zoo is sold without age restriction as a "lifestyle" magazine, often for as little as 60p.

Or take the Sport "newspaper", which described the sex life of Jane Longhurst's murderer as "an adventurous romp" on a page crammed with graphic adverts for sex chat lines and hardcore porn.

While I welcome this bill, the mainstream objectification of women has to be tackled too if the government is really serious about women's human rights.'

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Gigs tonight, etc

Doubling up tonight at 99 Club Angel (Camden Head Pub, 8.30pm, £3) and Electric Mouse Golders Green (see TO for info or something, I've only just said yes, someone must have dropped out last minute!).

Also the Soho Comedy Club is now running regularly Monday nights at the Roundtable Pub, St Martin's Court (along the side of the Wyndham's Theatre, 1 min from Leicester Square Tube). It's £7 but you can get in for £5 if you mention me. I MC it every week now. It's a dinky little place, seats 25-30 but it gets rammed sometimes, especially when there are good people on. Rich Brophy and Gareth Berliner next week and Nick Coppin, Rosie Wilby and Aaron Barshack on Nov 13th. Mr Cru aka American comic David Mulholland is usually on too. Hope to see you there.