Stupid government

Stupid government, not only selling off the family silver, but selling off the family silver for bugger all!
Here’s a letter I’ve just faxed to my MP (using – which is very very easy to use and FREE!)
Why not send it – or a similar one – to your MP? 😉

Dear [MY MP],

I wonder if you can help me – I’ve been very concerned to read about the privatisation of ‘defence research’ group QinetiQ, which was recently floated on the stock exchange.

I note that the Carlyle Group (which bought the company) paid just £42 million for a third of QinetiQ and management control in the privatisation deal – a deal that cost the taxpayer double that amount in legal and advisory fees. How can this be justified?

Carlyle also managed to avoid any responsibility for expensive environmental liabilities, and immediately started selling off thousands of acres of former military training grounds, target sites, tank lands and air strips for housing, the sale of which has already netted them a cool £227 million.
Can you tell me how it was then that the government was so lax as to sell QinetiQ for such a paltry amount?

But it seems to get worse – QinetiQ’s chairman, Sir John Chisholm, has a potential windfall of £25m and chief executive Graham Love stands to make £22m from shares they awarded themselves, thus making a tidy £42 million profit, at the taxpayer’s expense.

Can you tell me how and why were they allowed to get away with such a blatant rip-off of public funds?

To add to this (and I’m sorry to go on, but this issue is really bugging me) there are the consultants, advisers and other service providers, who between them had also made more than £100m by the time the flotation was completed.

So it seems to me that all the sale of QinetiQ has done is make a VERY small number of individuals and institutions VERY rich VERY quickly at the expense of myself and other taxpayers.

Finally, given the government’s obsession with “terrorists” and “security”, I note that QinetiQ itself has warned that it may not be able to “deter misappropriation of its confidential information”. So it would seem we are not only out of pocket but also more vulnerable to attacks from the products of our own defence research.

Can you possibly confirm that this is the case, or is there some extremely well-hidden benefit to the sale that everyone outside the government is unaware of?

Yours sincerely,


More baby sick

The scene: Millie has just been fed, but is plainly unhappy about something as she is crying quite loudly. Her dad is sat on the sofa holding her to his chest trying to settle her down ready for bed. Dad is in something of a hurry as, having recently discovered he is now officially “overweight”, he wants to do half an hour on his exercise bike before dinner.

MILLIE: Waah! (Coughs) Waaaaaaah!

DAD: (Gently) Come on, poppet, calm down, calm down. All right, all right…

MILLIE: (Even louder) WAAAAAAAH!

DAD: (Gently) No, no, no, no, no, love. Easy now…

MILLIE: (Coughs, looks alarmed)

DAD: Umm…

(Millie vomits a thick white substance down Dad’s front for about two seconds)

DAD: Melanie!

(Millie vomits a thick white substance down Dad’s front for about two seconds)

DAD: Melanieeeeee! Melanie!!

(Millie vomits a thick white substance down Dad’s front for a further three seconds)


(Millie briefly vomits a small amount of thick white substance down Dad’s front)

LOVELY MELANIE: (From offstage) What?

DAD: Can you come in here, please. Quickly!

LOVELY MELANIE: (Entering the room) What?

(Millie vomits a thick white substance down Dad’s front)

DAD: Quickly!!

LOVELY MELANIE: Oh. Hold on a sec. (She leaves the room)

(Dad sniffs, grimaces. He notices Millie’s face is covered in sick where it’s soaked into his top. He sighs)
(Millie coughs, then vomits a thick white substance down Dad’s front)

DAD: Melanie!

LOVELY MELANIE: (Re-entering the room) Stop making such a fuss. I have to deal with this on my own when you’re not here. I think she’s finished now. (To Millie) Have you finished, munchkin?

(Millie coughs, then vomits a thick white substance onto a towel held by Melanie. Millie begins to cry)

LOVELY MELANIE: (Sympathetically, to Millie) You should stop eating if you’re full, Millie-moo. (Briskly, to Dad) Give her to me.

(Dad hands her over to Lovely Melanie, then looks down at his vomit-covered top and jeans; he is unsure how to get the top over his head and off without getting vomit on his face)

(Millie begins to cry, loudly)

But despite all this, Millie still weighed in at a hefty 11lb 14oz earlier in the week.

Quite an increase from 1lb 70z, eh?

Forward roll

So far this week Millie has learnt how to roll over from her back to her front. It’s a great new trick and she’s practicing it at every possible opportunity.

Unfortunately the clever one not yet properly mastered rolling the other way, from her front to her back; and she doesn’t like being left on her front, so has to cry to get one of her parents to turn her over again.

And again.

And again.

Fortunately, she’s also getting even more interested in touching and grabbing things with her hands (although her sense of perspective is still a bit wonky and she’ll often try to touch things she can’t reach – to paraphrase Father Ted’s explanation to Dougal about this kind of thing – these are close, but those are far away). This is particularly nice as it gives us yet more of a sense of interaction with her.

We went to a first birthday party for a certain Jasper Hudson on Sunday afternoon, which was very nice, if a bit weird at times – I’ve never seen so many babies and toddlers and young children concentrated into such a small area since…well, since I was a baby/toddler/young child. Millie took the opportunity to sit in a ball pool (which she quite liked, for a few minutes), to get told how cute she was by every adult within a five-mile radius and to drool over everything within a three-mile radius.

Young Master Hudson’s not actually one year until tomorrow, so happy birthday for Wednesday, young man – I definitely think mum and dad will like your present, although you may be a bit young to fully appreciate its genius. 😉

Belle & Sebastian were very good on Friday, by the way. And even the Hammersmith Apollo being the most unpleasantly corporate concentration camp I’ve been to in a long while couldn’t quite take away from their brilliance.
And what a journey home – I know it’s on the other side of London but it took nearly two hours! Our friends who’d driven up from Swindon (75 miles away) were almost certainly home before we were! And I bet they didn’t have the unnerving experience of continually arriving at tube/railway stations to an announcement of “This is the last train of the evening. The station will be closing once this train has departed.” That message followed us all the way home, like a wolf nipping at our heels!

And a quick question for Gordon Brown – why are you trying to be more like Tony Blair than Tony Blair is in a bid to gain the leadership of the Labour Party? The reason Tony Blair is losing popularity at the moment is because he’s Tony Blair (and his policies are largely crap). Why the hell would we want to replace Tony Blair with someone exactly like him?? But, oh, no, we get the usual bollocks about needing to be tougher on crime, tougher on security, more money for police, fewer civil liberties, bringing back the birch, etc etc etc.
Sigh. We really seem to be heading the way of the US, where the difference between the policies of the two parties needs a magnifying glass to spot it. And I was only more depressed when Menzies Campbell (the senior Lib-Dem leadership candidate) said pretty much exactly the same thing – that they need more ties to business, to be tougher on security, etc. etc.
It’s almost* enough to make you respect the BNP for at least having some “different” policies…

*no, it isn’t, but you get what I’m trying to say

Thursday already

Crumbs, is it Thursday already?

The Millster and I were flying solo again last night while her mum went out boozing in Waterloo.

One strange thing we’ve noticed she’s started doing (that Millie’s doing, not her mum) is getting confused while laughing. She’ll have an hysterical laughing fit, during which she’ll do the Millie “happy dance”, which consists of standing up, flapping her arms about like a frightened chicken, and sort of bouncing from side to side, then collapse in hysterics at anything (literally collapse – she can’t stand up whilst laughing too hard).

At this point, everything you do is just brilliant – you’re the best-ever episode of Father Ted starring Bill Hicks, Eddie Murphy (when he was funny) and Eddie Izzard. But then obviously this level of comedy genius can’t be maintained indefinitely and we start to get a bit confused – the laughter is just as loud but starts to sound more like crying, then back to laughter, then crying, then laughter and then…you can’t actually tell which it is, and then it becomes proper crying – it’s bathos in the truest sense of the word.

Either that or incipient schizophrenia.

I’m probably going to say something about cost/provision of nursery care in this country at some point soon, too – I can feel it building up inside me…

But not just yet – I’m more looking forward to going to see Belle & Sebastian play live tomorrow night. I’ve only heard the new album just the once so far (I bought/downloaded it on Tuesday from Karma Download) and I’m really not sure if I like it all that much yet – but I thought I didn’t like Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant for quite a few listens, but I love that now.

Can’t get too drunk though, as Saturday we’re off to see the in-laws in Hatfield and I’ve got to set up their webcam and sort out their MP3 players (I’m kind of their IT support…)

In fact, I’m actually going to TWO gigs tomorrow – that’s the kind of rock’n’roll dad I am – because there’s some kind of concert at LSE during lunchtime tomorrow (a sitar is involved in it somewhere, and I’ve always been a sucker for the sitar!). Can’t get drunk there either because, a, it’s in the LSE library, which (foolish oversight!) doesn’t have a bar, and b I’ve got to come back to work and do some subtitling afterwards. We’re very, very busy at the moment, since our parent company in the USA sacked all but one of their subtitlers during a dispute with the union, and are now desperately trying to get us to do all their subtitling for them (they do most of the TV subtitles in the USA!)

It’s – almost – hilarious that not a single person in their management thought to ask at any point before the official “please vacate the premises” letters were sent out, “Er, if we sack all our subtitlers who’s going to do all the actual subtitling – WHICH IS 99% OF OUR ENTIRE BUSINESS?!?!?”

The business mind (especially the “upper management” business mind) never ever ever ceases to amaze me. They really don’t think in the same way as the rest of humanity does, do they? Maybe I’ll write a short science fiction story about that one day (ah – almost forgot – I already did!)

Buddha Baby


This photo, taken over the weekend when my parents came up to stay with us, doesn’t actually look much like Millie, but the Lovely Melanie can’t stop looking at it, and I burst out laughing every time I see it, so we figured it was a good’un.

Millie also, it turns out, doesn’t much care for bananas, but does love all kinds of awful vegetable mush – which is the opposite of her dad, so maybe physically she’s mine but mentally she’s her mother’s daughter. My parents brought us up some rhubarb this weekend to plant in our garden; the Lovely Melanie likes rhubarb and we’re hoping Millie will, too, particularly since rhubarb is just about indestructible and grows remarkably quickly… Better get eating, girls!

And finally, with my parents around to make me feel vaguely guilty I got some gardening done this weekend, and we got a load of coving put up in Millie’s room and in the living room. It was a bigger job that took longer than I’d expected (and wasn’t helped by the Lovely Melanie and I feeling a bit ropey on Saturday, having been able to go out clubbing together on Friday night because my parents babysat for us) but now it’s done our house unaccountably feels more like a home and less like a very badly fitted and maintained habitation unit. Which is nice.

That’s a bit of a boring entry, isn’t it? Sorry. We had a lovely weekend, but not an earth-shattering one, and I’m just a bit too busy at work at the moment to add anything much else.