Friday, December 30, 2005

Blizzards and droughts

It's amazing how the tiniest of things can shake the resolve of the British. If Al-Qaeda wants to rile British people they might have realised by now that bombs are futile. In the wake of the bombings of July 7, the phrase "blitz spirit" became a ridiculous cliche, or the "we lived through the IRA" braggadocio. This posturing, if there is modicum of bravery attached to it, is no bad thing. When people put up a fight against Al-Qaeda but cower when a bit of white fluff falls from the sky, the fight or flight genes definitely have a defect.

The media is partly to blame for this. There is no such thing as good news. All news is more or less bad. ITV News has an "and finally" slot which doesn't necessarily report good news, but reports quirky stories from around the globe - the idiosycracies of life. When it comes to weather, snow is always bad news. Imagine if Michael Fish took one last post-retirement job as a weatherman in Siberia (come on Michael, for ol' times sake), the viewers would be getting bad news everyday. "That cold front from the last Ice Age which has long finished everywhere else in the world is expected to continue tonight here in Siberia," he would say.

Some snow falls, and all hell breaks lose. Why is such a fuss made because the snow is hampering people's movements? Because people can't bear for their twenty-four hour consumer lifestyles to be halted for one minute. How is the Tesco delivery man supposed to drop off my latest supply of Appalachian mountain lettuce if there's snow on the road? How am I supposed to meet the boss's target of clocking two hundred office hours in a seven day week if the trains are delayed? How am I supposed to get to Harrods at 3am and have a chinwag with the security guard while I wait for the sales to start? You're not going to do any of those things, so take a chill pill. Any pill. Just relax. Snow is what happens when, "water vapour undergoes deposition high in the atmosphere at a temperature of less than 0°C," or at least that's what Wikipedia tells me. It is a naturally occurring phenomenon, not a freak incident.

I'm working at a building and the good residents run out of water, something to do with the pumps not working. So they call concierge to complain about it. One of them tells me that this is the third time the water machine has packed up this year, quelle horreur, "it's like living in a third world country". I wanted to say, "actually, it isn't sir. In the third world you would have run out of water a long time ago, because there was a power cut and the pumps can't be powered. You could try using the electricity generator, but there is a fuel shortage, after the Buncefield oil depot lit up the Hertfordshire sky and all that good stuff. There is however a stream called the Thames, luckily for you, not too far from where you live. Although to be honest, I wouldn't trust its potability. If you do have a bucket, you could come downstairs and fetch some from the tap here. Bizzarely, the water down here is running. Third world country? Are you kidding?"

Saturday, December 24, 2005


I went home to Nigeria on holiday last year Christmas. It was a kind of boy done good, went-to-university-in-Britain-and-now-has-a-degree homecoming. I was looking forward to seeing family and friends that I hadn’t seen in four years. My mum had gotten emotional about the fact that I had paid for the trip myself, talking about how much her son had grown that she didn’t have to pay for his ticket. Great contrast to this year - stark broke and in London. It was also a chance for me to assess how far down the road of development Nigeria had come in her newfound democracy.

One evening, we were heading back to our house in a suburb in Lagos, my mum was driving, and we had a guest sitting at the back. Perhaps I should have been driving, but I wasn’t about to reacquaint myself with a left hand drive car on the streets of Lagos. I’d heard enough stories of newcomers driving on the wrong side of the road, and trying to change gears with their left hand, but finding the door handle instead.

Approaching a bit of a traffic snarl, locally known as “go slow”, a tall man brandishing a machete leapt in front of the car, shouting “gimme the set, gimme the set”, demanding our mobile phones. He started to walk round the car towards the driver’s side, machete in tow, menace in his eyes. So my mum started winding her window up, after which we heard a smash, and a squeal of tyres, as she found a gap in the traffic and sped off.

As we drove away in a panic, in the opposite direction to our destination, we assessed the damage. The driver side window had been smashed, with shards of glass scattered on my mum’s clothes, and me clutching my chest for fear of my heart popping out of its cavity. Yes, it was beating that fast! We drove past a military barracks and up ahead was a police checkpoint, which we knew well since it had been there for years. We got there only to find two other cars suffering from driver-side-window-smashed-in syndrome, and another two cars behind us.

The sheer brazenness of a machete wielding robber operating so close to Nigeria’s fine police force! The officer in charge of manning the checkpoint was informed of what had transpired, and was determined to do his bit to protect and serve. So he shouted, “corporal, cock your gun, let’s go!” Yippee, the guy who had just traumatised us was going to get his comeuppance. But the policemen weren’t going to head to a dangerous spot in a squad car with blaring sirens, they were going to go there in a more surreptitious manner, in our car!

So I got into the back seat, sitting beside the corporal loading bullets into his gun, while the officer in charge rode shotgun – pun intended. Being robbed is not really a big deal, I can think of places in Britain where I wouldn’t venture after a certain hour. However, one’s car being used a de facto operational centre with a view to attacking a machete wielding robber is in a different realm of reality. I couldn’t figure out which I was more scared of, the man who had just emotionally scarred me for life, or the click clacking of the law enforcement man sitting next to me loading his gun with shiny bullets.

It wasn’t exactly the time to protest that we had neither been trained in body to drive as policemen, nor in mind, to deal with deadly weapons within such proximity to our bodies. All five cars drove in a convoy against traffic, hazard lights flashing, and my mum the police squad car driver at the head of the queue. In case you’re wondering, driving against traffic with hazards flashing isn’t at all an oddity in Nigeria. We got closer to the spot where Machete Man had attacked us, and all the cars started to slow down, before our protector said to my mum, “Ah madam, this is not our jurisdiction. It is the responsibility of...”

There I was warming to the idea of a real life cops and robbers shoot out, no phoney toy guns, no slumping on the ground in false agony, no fake scorekeeping and cheating by the boys from the other street. What I get instead, is a policeman who chickens out when I have just overcome the twin traumas of being attacked by a machete, and become a conscripted member of a gun toting police checkpoint unit.

Maybe next time. Everyone we told the story had something along these lines to say, “That spot, yes. It’s notorious between 7pm and 9pm. I never go there at that time.” Well thanks for the information. I should write a petition to the city council asking them to put up a note of warning alongside the road signs – city centre, 10kilometres, armed robbers, 2kilometres.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

The former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said, "there are three types of lies - lies, damn lies, and statistics". Apply this to people who give feedback on failed job applications. In the past, I used to receive standard rejection letters, "after careful consideration, we regret to inform you...", blah, blah. The letters were more annoying than disappointing. I tend to rip open the envelope and scan the page for the word "unfortunately"; it's a always a good indicator of whether to bin it straightaway. Those letters were lies, because if they had considered the applications as carefully as they claimed they did, they would have conspired for their managing director to meet an unfortunate event and crowned me as supreme leader and messiah of the company. They didn't do any of the above, so I assume they lied about their supposed careful consideration. Liars.

Recently, I've been receiving more subtle rejection letters. They couch the rejection letter in reassuring words, "we were very impressed with your background and achievements, but this position isn't quite for you...", blah, blah. Too many of these types of rejections have landed on my doormat and in my inbox for it to be true. Which makes them damn lies. How many times can they actually be impressed with my CV (and say so) without actually giving me a job? It must a kind of New Labour ploy not to offend me. Instead of saying a child failed their exams, they say the child's success is deferred. Deferred? Until when? So the parents should be happy because their little sprog might perhaps maybe sometime in the unseen unpredictable future get a good grade, or make something of their life. Maybe. Damn liars.

The last kind of rejection has got to be statistics. Not because they are statistics, but because lies and damn lies have already been used. I've been to interviews for print media, and I get the excuse that I'm "too broadcast". But I've also been to interviews for broadcast media, and they tell me that I'm "too print". Sorry, have I missed something? How can I be both at once? I'm either one or the other. I can't be Superman and Clark Kent at the same time. Or can I? Maybe I can. Statisticians.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Transport For London

Today, I received a very exciting letter in the post. At first I thought it was a red letter telling me that the helicopter hovering above was actually the bailiffs training in on my house. Such a letter would've been much lighter, whereas this envelope was heavy. So I opened it, lo and behold, it was a letter from Almex, with 90p in the form of a 50p, and two 20p coins. These were the words of the letter:

Dear Mr Nkem,

Thank you for contacting us about a problem you experienced with a Roadside Ticket Machine recently. Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

I enclose a refund of £0.90 in respect of the money you lost.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and I apologise once again for the inconvenience caused.

Yours sincerely,

All 90p! In cash! Who says there's no customer service in Britain? Last Thursday I was on Whitehall trying to get a bus ticket from the roadside machine, and as is usually the way with all roadside machines (especially the parking ones) it swallowed 90p of my hard-earned unemployment benefit, not a ticket in sight. So I did my civic duty by kicking it and shaking it until an alarm sounded, threatening to embarrass me. But I was going to let a little siren and a flashing red light from the machine stop me trying to get my money back. Luckily there was a telephone number one could call to report the thievery of money by TFL bus ticket machines. I called the number, said my spiel, and told them how much I had lost. I forgot all about it, only to see the letter this morning. They are a very generous lot, aren't they? In retrospect I should probably have told them £100 in coins were stolen by the machine, and given the excuse that I thought it was a fruit machine. Yes I know, it wouldn't have worked.

I was planning on writing a book tentatively titled, "Fare Dodging within the M25, and other saving tips", subtitled "stickin' it to da man". Bendy buses I hear you say? There's a lot more to fare dodging than bendy buses, trust me. Almex's honesty and generosity has caused me to rethink, maybe not all transport organisations are Mephistophelian money suckers. Perhaps they're really fluffy bunnies, and they only charge commuters because Red Ken threatened to drown other fluffy bunnies in the Thames if they didn't charge. Who knows?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Woman's Hour

I like Woman's Hour on Radio 4, hosted by Martha Kearney or Jenni Murray (pictured), who are quintessential Radio 4 female voices. For the record, the last time I checked, which wasn't too long ago, I am not a woman. I can't put my finger on why a programme about the female condition would interest me so. Perhaps to help my pulling power. Maybe not. I've already failed on that front. Anyway, it has gems (I don't use that word lightly) like Makosi expressing regret for not being a better role model while on Big Brother. The idea that people go on Big Brother think they'll become role models is a novel one, and only a programme like Woman's Hour can voice such an idea without sounding ridiculous. On Saturday's edition, Dora Akunyili, director of Nigeria's NAFDAC, talked about her experiences in her current position. She has had to dodge bullets, have her offices burnt, just so that ordinary Nigerians have faith in the medicines they use. Woman's Hour deals with issues affecting women, but the broader context is that of women in society. Unless you're an arch-Thatcherite, you'll agree that there is such a thing as society, and for better or worse we are part of it.

The Guardian was the first daily to have a woman's section in its pages, and it is always a good read. It appears only right that a section of society that has been ignored by a mainstream media run by old white men in suits is represented by specialist sections dedicated to those not catered for. This doesn't amount to misandry, but it is a balancing of centuries of prejudice and discrimination. Just like there is nothing wrong with forms of media aimed specifically at members of ethnic minorities.

I just found a host of columns I wrote years ago for my university newspaper, the Badger. Most of them are woeful, the rest however, are horrendous. And for those reasons , I will torment you with them:

BBC Radio's new digital radio station Asian Network was launched in late October, hot on the heels of BBC's 1Xtra. Asian Network is described as British Asian Radio, while 1Xtra is described as New Black Music. One of the first guests Asian Network had was Home Secretary, David Blunkett. He was blitzed by callers demanding whence he got the his audacity to comment on what language Asian families should speak in the privacy of their homes. More pressing I believe, is the actual legitimacy of the stations, 1Xtra and Asian Network, not their legality but their cultural legitimacy.

There is dissent in the media at the constant expansion of the BBC monolith, encroaching on independent broadcasting terrain, and overstepping the boundaries of its mandate. In the case of 1Xtra, there is the issue of definition of black music and the debate that black music is already mainstream, and the superfluity of a dedicated medium. From the names and descriptions of these stations, it appears that national radio is being divided along racial lines.

The issue of a black music station is somewhat easy to resolve. Having listened extensively to 1Xtra I can confirm that is indeed a black music station, which revolves around the cultures that surround hip-hop, garage, RnB etc. In no way is it exclusive to black people, as the artistes and listeners of music of black origin transcends racial barriers. There are programmes aimed at black communities, but the mainstream popularity of black music ensures that, non-black fans of black music will not feel left out.

Asian Network, however, is concerned with the Asian experience in Great Britain. This invariably excludes non-Asian listeners for several reasons. The station is not concerned with a particular niche of Asian culture that might have the mass appeal of black music. It is not concerned with the mass appeal of Bollywood or Eastern religions. The station is all encompassing, therefore, non-Asians might feel left out unless they have an explicit interest in the Asian experience, or they tune into a specialist show.

Asian Network has cultural legitimacy for one main reason, the ethnically polygenous Britain we live in. The ethnic minority communities generally have extremely strong ties to their ancestral homes, the languages are still spoken (as Mr. Blunkett noted), customs observed, religions practised. But, there is no doubt whatsoever that British culture has contributed to creating the people they are today. People describing themselves as British-Indian or British West Indian is commonplace, an acknowledgement of their Britishness and also a remembrance of their intercontinental roots. Mainstream media caters for the British branch of people's psyches but does relatively nothing for, say, the culture of Asians.

Now, the major gripe of opponents of stations such as Asian Network is this: If people are British, they should listen to British radio and not some foreign malarkey in some incomprehensible language. They perceive that these stations help with marginalising ethnic minority communities. By continually exposing them to something that isn't British, they lose touch with mainstream culture. And if they ignore mainstream culture, they become left out of a community of listeners, watchers and readers, that are predominantly white. This in turn leads to inhabitants of the same stretch of land that have no similarities in their view of the world, hence causing the extreme forms of misunderstanding that occurred in Oldham in the summer of 2001.

The counterarguments in favour of stations such as Asian Network, thwart all others. Human beings are not programmable machines that drop unwanted baggage when prompted. Were this the case, the minority of people who actually swear allegiance to Her Majesty on becoming British citizens would have to renounce old customs and cultures in the same oath. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. Denying people a forum to express thoughts relating to their culture is surely a breach of this right.

Mainstream media should make provision for fringe voices, but financial constraints prevent this, along with the possibility of sidelining the main demographics of a nation. This is where stations like Asian Network are useful, representing the minority life. As for creating a society out of touch with its surroundings, these stations perform the converse, strengthening ties with their immediate neighbours. The BBC have already said that there would be no need to asianise certain news items such as the fire brigade strikes, as I'm sure Asian skin burns in fire the way black, white and purple skin does. However, what Asian Network will do more than anything else, is be a mirror where British Asians can reflect on the Asian experience in Great Britain. And it this self reflection that aids greatly in dictating the manner in which people react to their habitat.

This article appeared in the 05/12/03 edition the Badger.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Alamaramalamadingdong arrested

As I write this, I have my hands and feet fettered with irons to stop me jumping for joy, too much. Alamieyeseigha aka Tina has been impeached and arrested. Who says the wheels of justice grind slowly? Let's see him escape Nigeria's jails dressed as a Benedictine monk with three breasts like in Total Recall. If he tries to use my recommended escape method, they won't get scientists to subject him to tests wondering what a human anomaly he/she/it is, but they'll probably burn him with tyres for being a witch. Jungle justice? You bet.

"World to drown in spit", say celebs and experts.

"Global warming is not only the number one environmental challenge we face today, but one of the most important issues facing all of humanity." Thus sayeth the Lord. Actually, thus sayeth Leonardo Decapitate his arse in relation to an eco-film, 11th Hour, which he's producing and narrating. Leo is no faux environmentalist, the man drives a hybrid Toyota Prius for crying out loud. In Hollywood it takes guts and disregard for one's street cred not to drive a gas guzzling SUV. The man is for real. What confuses me though is why global warming is the greatest threat to humanity. Earlier this week, I was watching the Daily Politics, when Damien Lewis came on to tell us about the lack of access to water in Bolivia being an evil. I also seem to remember the actress, Emma Thompson, say "AIDS is the greatest threat to face the human race ever."

This is whence the confusion stems. Will I die of AIDS after a stroll in the dark on Clapham Common? Will the hairs in my nostrils freeze over in the cold snap ironically caused by global warming. Will I die for lack of Evian from the French Alps? Will I die because my muslim neighbour comes into my house for a cuppa, and then squeezes the red button just as the toast pops up? What exactly is going to kill us all? Perhaps, I'm foolish for listening to celebrities. What the hell do they know? They might be the authority on if black is going to be the new pink in 2009, or if Neil Armstrong wore the wrong shade of white for the moon landings. But threats to humanity? Nah.

Well, the scaremongering endorsment (you can't just endorse Pepsi these days) isn't just a celebrity phenomenon, it is also the so-called intellectuals. The debate about what's going to kill is all is conducted in hyberbole, we're all going to die. Bjorn Lomborg says global warming, global shwarming, his opponents shout, "you lie". Nelson Mandela says AIDS is the real threat, Rumsfeld says it's the War on Terror. Economists say China is the greatest threat (but one we must embrace). Who should be believed?

Not to diminish the small matters of AIDS, and another ice age, but the greatest threat to the planet today is all that saliva coming out of the mouths of people talking about the greatest threat to the world today. We will surely drown in all that spittle. And we won't be able to build Waterworld á la Kevin Costner, not because it'll flop, but because spittle is too viscous, and one can't really swim in it. You don't believe me? Just look out of your window. Can you see that the streets have turned to saliva? Scared? You should be.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lest I bore you...

David Cameron's shadow cabinet reshuffle has missed a trick. There's the obvious emphasis on presentation, rather than substance. Malcolm Rifkind who only just came back into Parliament as the MP of the ultra-safe Tory seat of Kensington & Chelsea, has been vehemently against the Iraq war. William Hague, who's just replaced him as shadow Foreign Secretary, voted for the war. Iraq is still the major reason Labour shed so many votes at the last election, and DC (who voted for the war) could have had Malcom Rifkind hitting the government hard on the Iraq issue. But William Hague is a Tory favourite, Margaret Thatcher without the handbag and bouffant hair, in fact, Hague is bald. But having already given David Davis the shadow Home Secretary, and given his bessie mate, George Osborne, shadow chancellor, there was no way he'd have given Hague something vacuous like health or education. Rifkind would have been a good early attempt to put clear blue Tory water between him and Tony Blair.

Hague though, has not lost his Eurosceptic stripes. And this is probably the main reason DC has appointed him. Hague lost two elections on Euroscepticism, and here he is again, at the forefront of British anti-Europe. Same Tories, new clothes?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Breaking News: Old Etonian to lead Tories!

David Cameron has beaten David Davis to the Conservative party leadership as has been predicted since giving that speech at the conference. There hasn't been an old Etonian Tory leader since Alec Douglas-Home (pronounced Hume) in 1964. Before him there were two Old Etonians, Harold Macmillan, and Anthony Eden. Is the Tory leadership returning to its Etonocracy of old? During the run up to the announcement, the BBC was running some tapes of interviews with Tory grandees, Norman Lamont, Gyles Brandreth, and Nicholas Boles. While Nicholas Boles was being interviewed, Rishi Saha (pictured in background) was sitting in the background (again) "doing research" on a computer. Rishi Saha is the poster boy for Tory diversity and inclusionism. He's been close to the Cameron campaign, and I suspect he took DC to the North London community project where DC said the immortal words, "keep it real". I suspect they did with Rishi Saha what all the parties do to look diverse, a Sikh man in a turban standing at the front, a muslim woman in hijab standing to the right. If political parties could resurrect him, they'd probably have Sammy Davis, Jr*, doing handstands.

After the victory speech, DC was ushered by the head of broadcasting during the 2005 elections, Michael Salter. In the crowd were someone called Gabby who was part of the DC campaign team, and of course, Rishi Saha, who received a special handshake from DC. If Rishi Saha leaves his Brent South seat, he will get to run for a safe Tory seat in 2009/10, that is if he doesn't get a by-election before then. Mark my words, you heard it here first.

*Sammy Davis, Jr, was blind, black, and Jewish.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Cherie has a big bum

The Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Blair, has a big bum. Now, this is no bad thing. Big bums are in, I think... She's just spent one hour on our screens on a programme, Married to the Prime Minister. Channel 4 being the paragaon of tact, decency, and good taste, would have wanted to call it Shagging the PM, or the PM and his Hos, but Cherie probably laid down the law. And Dennis Thatcher being a man would not have helped the image of middle aged women dusting Number 10, wearing nothing but an apron, a pair of knee-high rubber boots, and a smile at the ready. The programme looked at all the PMs' partners since the war, and how terrible the scrutiny was and still is. During an interview, Harold Wilson's wife, Mary, was asked how on earth she could hope to organise regular meals, considering her husband's schedule was so irregular. Oh the travails of being married to the PM! It's a mark of how times have changed that, forty years on, nobody would dream of asking any PM's spouse such a question. They missed out a classic Dennis Thatcher quote: when he was asked by a journalist about who really wears the trousers in the house, "I do. I wear the trousers. And I wash and iron them, too," said he.

I can never understand why Cherie gets so much stick in the media. She appears to me to be perfectly charming, and I like her. Then again, I do like them slightly greying, skin slightly folding, a bag under an eye here, a hip replacement there. But I drift. If not for Cherie Blair, Tony would have privatised our breathing of air. He would have initiated some public private partnership where the right nostril is financed by the private sector, and the left nostril, by the public sector. Deep down inside Tony Blair is a Tory, his father being a Conservative. Cherie must have been his motivation for becoming Labour.

The Cherie/Tony dichotomy makes me think about people's politics and their relationships. Cherie is clearly leftist, and Tony is clearly rightist. Can a house politically divided against itself stand? Arnie married Maria Shriver, a Kennedy, a blue blood Democrat if ever there was one. Now he's the Governator, and she voted Republican during the California state elections. I dread to think that I might be in a union with someone of a different political hue. I have had a Tory girlfriend before, but she was on the left of the party. That's my excuse. I reckon that women will get the man they want regardless of political stripe, it's the men that make noise about politics and all that jazz. Who cares about politics, love conquers all. Right?

How ironic

I was pulled up a by a friend for plagiarising her idea. Idea (b) in the plagiarism post was entirely her idea. The fact that it was ironic that I stole her idea and put it in a post about plagiarism without citing her was entirely her thinking. This thief should be shot!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Music to cry to

My tear ducts are dried up. The last time I cried, it had to do with matters of the heart. It felt like someone had ripped my heart out of its cavity, tossed it into a deep fat fryer, and then fed it to a scavenging fox. Okay, I was heartbroken. I hardly cried before then, nor have I cried since. My tear ducts are not dry because of some macho testosterone fueled resistance to being effete and crying like a good little girl. Au contraire, I'm almost but not quite metro, I'm very in touch with my sexuality. I'd cry at the drop of a hat if I could find reason to do so. But nothing in this world is ever serious enough for tears, except one. Music.

Some music is just so beautiful that it makes one want to bawl one's eyes out, overcome by emotion. I listen to "Ain't Sayin' Nothin' New" by the Roots, and I feel like crying. I listen to "Message in a Bottle" by the Police, and the desert that are my tear ducts threaten a deluge. I listen to "Memories Live" by Talib Kweli & Hi Tek, and I just want to lay my head down and let out little whimpers of joy. To quote Missy Elliott, "music makes me lose control".

These are lyrics from a Masta Ace song, "Black boy, black boy turn that shit down/ You know that America don't wanna hear the sound/ Of the bass drum jungle music go back to Africa/ Nigga I'll arrest ya if ya holdin up trafffic". Fine lyrics indeed, social commentary by what Chuck D called the black CNN, hip-hop music. The sentiment I agree with is the idea of black music being jungle music. Jazz used to be called jungle music when it was still in its ascendancy, and this was because it had infectious Africanesque rhythms. A lot of hip-hop has the same effect, infectious and rhythmic. The jungle element for me though, is the effect it induces in me. When I hear music like say, "Southern Hospitality" by Ludacris, it song makes me want to writhe like a jungle animal high on speed.

Music that makes me feel like an animal in a jungle, is jungle music.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ferris Wheel

Some people think that working in the creative industries is one of the greatest luxuries a person can have. Travel to the villa in Spain, sit by the pool, sip some sangria, fire off a chapter every few days, sip some more sangria, see fifty missed calls from your editor, reply with a text message saying, "the creative process cannot be rushed, dear boy". If this is what you imagine the creative industry to be, think again. I'm a journalist, and perhaps that is my problem, thinking that journalists work in the creative industry. We churn out copy like Ford churned out Model-Ts, you can have any colour so long as it's black.

I spend all my time trying to come with ideas that I reckon will work on television, radio, or print. Every week, the African Shirts Ideas Factory cranks out up to twelve distinct ideas for the media. How many get approved? I'll tell you when I get an approval. The key to getting work approved is to know the different media outlets very well. You need to know and understand them inside out. This gives you better insight into what to pitch to them, and how to pitch to them.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thieves shall still be shot

There are only about two or three politics and news/current affairs programmes and that are allowed to be self-referential. They are: PM and Broadcasting House, both on Radio 4, and This Week and the Daily Politics on BBC1/2. The programmes are so good that they can be, in my opinion, self-conscious entities that can refer to themselves as sentient beings. I love these programmes, so surely they must be alive. Imagine my chagrin and sense of betrayal when I suspected that PM has stolen one of my ideas. I spent a lot of last week hawking the Alamieyeseigha story, and one of the first people I approached was PM. I was told that it was a good story, but "it isn't one for us". This evening, I'm told by someone who was listening to Radio 4 that my Bayelsa story was on PM. So if you listen back to PM at about 55 minutes into the programme, you'll hear the two-way between, Eddie Mair, the presenter, and Mark Doyle, BBC World Affairs editor.

So what do I do? Do I

a) get in touch with the person at PM who turned the story down, tell her that she's a thieving beeyatch, and tell her I know where she works (cos I do)?

b)send her a bill for say, £150, with a note attached saying, "I see you eventually used my idea, nice doing business with you".

c)or do I mollify her by saying that I see that PM used a similar programme idea to mine, that it seems I might know the tone of the programme, and would it be okay if I sent her more ideas?

Well, I'll be plumping for c, and this is why. I have no evidence that the reason PM decided to run the story today Monday, six days after they turned me down, had anything to do with my original pitch. The fact that troops have moved into Bayelsa might have given an additional element to the story and the need to run it. Another reason to run the story might have been OBJ's letter to Tony Blair asking why DSP Alamieyeseigha aka Tina, skipped bail on his watch.

In the media, it's always difficult to claim ownership of an idea. Great minds and not so great minds think alike, so chances are that someone else is thinking up the idea you think is exclusive to you, the very same idea you think will definitely buy you that personal Pacific retreat. Meanwhile, my rottweilers are on the prowl looking for plagiarisers to masticate. Beware of dog.

Sunday Times and all that

I've had my nose to the grindstone over the last few days, and so had to put blogging on the backburner. I was working on a story for the Sunday Times, about our dearly beloved governor DSP Alamieyeseigha, aka Tina. I got an additional reporting credit for the story, which is good, but I don't know if it counts as a proper byline. Does it? My mama is proud anyway, which is always a good thing. Perhaps her hobo son might yet make good. So much more could have gone into it, but there was a huge amount of speculation surrounding the story. Nobody was willing to go on record, and the interesting aspects could have been just mere conjecture. Good sources to corroborate stories were hard to come by. As with many things Nigerian, reliable information was the hardest thing to get hold of. Thanks to all the people in Naij and here who help put the story together. I won't mention names, you know who you are.

It was actually a wonder that the Sunday Times did the story considering it had been done during the week. I know a few paragraphs in the Times, Telegraph and Guardian is not enough, but the sundays don't retread the same ground as the dailies. If it's been covered, it's been covered. There's so much to say about the politics of news reporting, and I couldn't do it justice here. Another time youngblood, another time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Women are like buses

Some are doubledecker, some are not. This is apparently a statement which objectifies women. The sensibilities of my friend (female) were ruffled by it; I wouldn't expect a lesser effect of a quote taken from the teenage pre-watershed soft-porn soap Hollyoaks. She isn't exactly a bra-burning feminista, so I suppose there must be something offensive about it. The remark is neither chauvinist nor misogynist. The remark is a joke making a statement about the size of women's breasts. It takes a well known statement about relationships i.e. women being like buses, none come for ages, then many come along at once, which it marries with a Loaded style pun. Men are objectified all the time, goodness knows how many "men are only needed to change the lightbulb" jokes I've heard in my lifetime. I dislike magazines like Loaded and FHM which reduce women to nothing more than sexual preferences and positions. I'd also like to know who their favourite physicist is, and why they think Kant is of greater import than St. Thomas Aquinas. I might have to wait for the hens in my backyard to grow teeth though, but in the meantime I don't want them taken off the shelves. A lasses mag filled with the objectification of men would be preferable. They'd have the men in the CK boxers asking "so what's your favourite DIY position?", and "how often do you use that razor?" Now that is equality.

Murda da paper bwoi

Indeed. The Bush government apparently laid plans to bomb Al-Jazeera during the Iraq conflict. The government is now brandishing the axe that is the Official Secrets Act if the Daily Mirror continues with the story. If it proves to be true (of which all indications are that it is), it would be the most damning indictment of the neo-con doctrine of spreading democracy via pre-emptive and interventionist measures. Freedom of speech is one of the tenets of democracy, as is the importance of a public having access to information. These are the two things that news stations like Al-Jazeera do. Since 1977, under Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, journalists have been considered civilians and are as such accorded the same level of protection. Targeting journalist amounts to cold-blooded state sponsored murder, the type that the neo-cons apparently went into Iraq to get rid off.

Of course Tony Blair comes out of this smelling of roses, as he was the one who talked George the Younger out of his idiocy. That's the card the government has been playing since the conflict began. It's been drummed into the British public's head that our squaddies are better behaved, that it's the Americans that had no plan for post-conflict Iraq, that Southern Iraq is better governed than Central Iraq because of Her Majesty's forces stationed in Basra. Big hairy bollocks to that. Britain is as guilty as America in its Iraqi adventure, and history will not judge the Brits to be the benevolent half of the invading force. An invader is an invader is an invader is an invader, for emphasis.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Tafa in chains

Tafa Balogun has just been convicted. He was given only a six month sentence which is very lenient. What the sentence does though is present a prominent scalp to Nigerians on charges of dodginess. I cannot remember this ever happening. The picture of him wearing an elegant blue babanriga adorned with handcuffs is a very poignant one. It's similar to the British joke about women having decent knickers on just in case they're involved in an accident and a paramedic ends up seeing them. Dignity must not just be preserved, but ensured. I sincerely hope this is the first of many scalps for the EFCC.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Woman's Hour

I woke up to Martha Kearney and Woman's Hour on Friday. She'd secured an exclusive interview with Liberia and Africa's first female president-elect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. I was impressed by the panel's acknowledegment that leadership among West African women is as strong as ever. Women might not hold political office, but they're indispensible everywhere else, culture, business, law, banking. In areas where merit is put above the ability to employ an element strong arm-ness, women prosper. I remember my grandmother was very prominent in the grass roots politics of Rivers State; Shehu Shagari (who I'm named after) personally thanked her for securing the state for his party.

More impressed was I by Pat Caplin's mention of the Igbo Women's War of 1929. It's widely believed that this was a pivotal moment in the anti-colonial movement, our very own Epsom Derby moment. Yet we were not taught anything about it in school. What our schools do well is force its students to stand in the hot sun Stalinist-like reciting jingoistic national anthems and pledges, words which given the state of Nigeria, obviously mean nothing. I went to a Nigerian business exhibition a few weeks ago, hoping to find someone selling cut-price Stella Obasanjo oil wells, because I'm flat broke. At the stands for the Nigerian schools, there were pictures of smiling children wearing blazers, and Harrow School straw hats. Nigeria's yearly average temperature is 25-28 degrees C. Why would anyone torture these kids so in the name of education? Ah, I see, it's how the British supposedly educate their children. All the schools with stands had a hankering to represent the British public school ethos. Aspiring to educational standards is one thing, but imitating dress shows they know not what the purpose of education is. I despair for the education of our youth.

A funny thing happened

I was talking to a fellow at the World Service's Analysis this afternoon, trying to flog my story on Governor Alamieyesiegha. It's received surprisingly little coverage here in the UK, so I've been hawking the story to Radio 4's foreign documentaries section, Law in Action, and a few others. The mister at Analysis says he can't do the story, sub judice and all that, but he takes my details down nonetheless. Five minutes later, he calls me, and I recognise that it's the Beeb's call sign. So I answer the phone, hopeful that he's changed his mind and he's going to offer me a job to dethrone Mark Thompson to become Director General of the BBC. Then he says, "he's jumped bail". The story had just hit the wires, so I called my mum in Nigeria to break the news.

After coughing up £500,000 of what may or may not have been stolen funds, the Governor slips out of the country. The borders of this country are porous. I don't mind them being porous coming in (I'm an immigration anarchist), but going out, they must be water-tight. Invariably, it's criminals who are trying to avoid the justice of the Crown that have to leave the country. The EFCC doesn't have the teeth to secure sufficiently high profile convictions because of matters such as immunity. The British government seems to be willing to do our bidding for us, Alamieyeseigha of course being the second bail jumper after Joshua Dariye last year.

What Nigeria might have to do is a reversal of the Umaru Dikko incident in 1986. Perhaps the EFCC should hire Mossad trained heavies to drug and smuggle prominent Nigerians out of the country to stand trial for corruption in the UK. The Crown Prosecution Service seems to the have necessary enthusiasm to charge and try them. Besides, it might enhance Britain's already well hewn reputation for international justice - Pinochet, Roman Polanski vs Vanity Fair. I'm still hawking the story, and I suppose I could add "skipped bail" as part of my pitch.

Friday, November 18, 2005

So, how did it go?

The Guardian interview went well. Over time, I've learnt that one's feelings in the aftermath of an interview don't necessarily mean anything. I just forget about it and move on. When the results come, they come. I remember having an interview at the New Statesman last year, a place where I would've felt at home, only to be told I "wasn't print enough". My television experience had overshadowed my print journalism experience, even though I didn't even have up to one hour screen time at this point. This astonished me because at the time, I thought my strength was print, despite my television deviation. The interviewer has since left the NS, and is now a columnist at the Guardian. We might yet become colleagues.

I also recollect going to an interview with one of the independent production companies for a traineeship sponsored by Channel 4. They were the second company that had interviewed me, after the first one, Maverick, turned me down. This indy had made a few controversial programmes about race and religion, so I knew I'd have a lot to talk about at the interview. In what has got to be an exercise in how best to make an interviewee uncomfortable, he said "I don't know why they sent you. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with you. One can't really tell on the strength of an interview alone how you'll do if you're employed here". Gee thanks. That's a paraphrase of what the guy said, but it shows the pointlessness of some interviews.

So, how did it go?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Tomorrow is the initial day of reckoning, before a second day of reckoning comes. The interview I have at The Guardian is with someone in HR and should last about twenty minutes. It's the first interview, the second is likely to be the killer. They'll probably be testing my levels of lentil-eating, sandal-wearing, ethical-living, oh and my journalistic ability and commitment. Some people grow up wanting to see their byline in The Times, I even know someone who's dream was to write for Waitrose Food Illustrated, moi though have dreamed of writing for the Guardian. Since I picked it up in 1998, I've been hooked. During A-levels I used to read the Torygraph and the Times, largely because those were the only newspapers that boarders received. I now see it as a conservative establishment plot to brainwash and indoctrinate me with an alien political bent. I was at LRGS, an all-boys school in the north of England, four black boys in the whole school (I tell a lie, at our peak there were five of us) - I really shouldn't have expected the left leaning Guardian and Indy served with my shepherd's pie, should I?

I always joke about how the Guardian and my Bible jostle for position on my bedside table, the Guardian sometimes winning, and other times, winning still. Some of my friends think the thought in itself is blasphemous. Well, burn me at the stake. I like the writing in Guardian for several simple reasons: it's witty, irreverent (nothing is beyond reproach), has very good coverage of foreign news, and is the only newspaper that regularly deals with black issues in Britain.

The Guardian isn't perfect, no broadsheet is. But it's the best out there. The Indy is just a rabid intelligent people's Daily Mirror, at the forefront of the viewspaper evolution. The Telegraph is just staid and boring, and the Times is smug middle class blandness. Or maybe I'm just bitter that none of them have given me an interview. We shall see what happens, when the day before the day after tomorrow comes. Now for the small matter of ironing my shirt, suit, and tie, and polishing those shoes. As for the hair...

Monday, November 14, 2005

I remember my first...

I remember my first ballet because it was the ENB's Sleeping Beauty on Friday at the New Theatre, Oxford. I went to the ballet for two reasons: 1) Tchaikovsky is my favourite composer, and 2) I saw a televised version of the Nutcracker which blew me away. It was a potent combination of a composer I love and dance to make my jaw drop. To anyone who hasn't seen a ballet and thinks it's pretentious self-congratulatory faux high art, I urge you to reconsider. The ballet was rivetting from start to finish. Then again, perhaps I'm a dilettante and I don't know my hutus from my piroulettes. For all I know, the critics could have done what they do best - pan it from here to Alaska.

Most people know the story of Sleeping Beauty and her Prince Charming. Imagine the story reworked, not by a soporific underpaid nursery school teacher, but acted out in dance form, set to the genius of Tchaikovsky by dancers who looked like they were enjoying themselves on stage, despite the technical difficulty of what they were doing. Watching them, I felt inspired - like I should be on stage also, prancing about in my tutu.

It is easy to see how art such as ballet and classical music become so-called high art, understood and patronised only by an affluent blue blood elite. The reflections are of the pomp and pageantry of a bygone era. A land awash with supine servants, court jesters, sycophantic advisers (almost sounds Blair-like), and a throne whose word was yea and amen. Only people with ties to that era, who feel such art is reflective of their past or present (insular) history, or yearn for a return to that past can appreciate it. Art should make us question our surroundings, regardless of historical context. The only attraction ballet might have for the ordinary man is in its aesthetic beauty, but it'll be a shame for such beauty to lack deeper meaning due to its "high art" leaning. Bring on Nutcracker!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Remember Saro-Wiwa?

Today is the 10th anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nigerian playwright and human/environmental rights activist. Last night, the Royal Festival Hall hosted an event in his memory. On the bill were Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, T.S. Eliot prize winner Alice Oswald, multi-instrumentalist Byron Wallen, and poet Lemn Sissay was the host. I've always thought, like most left leaning sackcloth wearing guardianistas that Ken Saro-Wiwa was a saint. A man executed by Abacha's kleptomaniacal military murderocracy at the behest of big business. He made us laugh with his popular Nigerian comedy Bassey an Co., he couldn't possibly be a bad man. But as I've grown older, I've learned that there is no such thing as black and white, only shades of grey.

Abacha should not have executed Saro-Wiwa, but more curious is the charge sheet against him. He was charged with treason and being complicit in the murder several Ogoni chiefs who were supposedly sympathetic to oil money. There are parallels with aspects of the British Terrorism Bill. Did he know that geeing up the Ogoni youth to stand up for themselves would lead to the murder of the chiefs? Under British law, his activities would have been seen as incitement, and he'd quite possibly have been prosecuted. The government recently won a vote in Parliament. The vote was on an amendment which added a clause that the prosecution would need to show that the defendant had "intent" to cause harm by making his/her incendiary statement. This is they grey area where Saro-Wiwa is concerned. I was pleased that Wole Soyinka mentioned that there might have been overenthusiastic members of MOSOP's youth wing, who took their cue from Ken Saro-Wiwa.

On the issue of treason, we were showed a video of the accusations Saro-Wiwa made against the Nigerian state and the oil companies. He accused the government of seeking to wipe out the Ogoni people, and oil companies being in connivance in this genocide. These are serious allegations, the kind that should not and must not be taken lightly by any government. Should he have been executed? Of course not. Were the charges trumped up? Perhaps. Were the charges grave? Absolutely.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Il a blagué

Which roughly translates as "he joked" in French. It's a bit late to tell the people at the Guardian that I was just joking about my love for rallying, swimming, track & field - just so they would give me a job. Well, they've only gone and invited me to an interview for a trainee sports journalist position. Can I plead the fifth amendment at an interview?

The geeky looking Guardian journalist/sports anorak walks into the freezing cold room. Don't be fooled by the thick rimmed NHS issue glasses. "We keep the room cold to intimidate interviewees. Are you nervous yet? Not to worry, if you're not yet, you will be."

"So Mr. Ifejika," he continues, "rallying eh? We'll see about that". Pause. Then fires three questions in succession, machine gun fire couldn't sound any worse. "Who won this year's driver's championship?* Who won the constructor's championship?** Who's having chemothrapy after the removal of a brain tumour?***"

"Erm, can I google it?" Ifejika stumbles.

"ANSWER Ifejika, ANSWER!" he bellows, nostrils flaring, showering Ifejika with tiny morsels of his breakfast.

Okay, I have to brush up on my sports current affairs (is there any such thing?) I'm only going to be in the interview for twenty minutes. They couldn't possibly ask me enough stuff in that time. Interviews are supposed to be events where one is hung, drawn, and quartered over the course of a day, not a twenty minute chat. I should be happy, I hear you say. Perhaps I should be, but it's at times like this the masochist in me surfaces. Make me bleed!

*Sébastian Loeb
***Richard Burns
ps I'd like to thanks Google for making these answers possible.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Johnson-Sirleaf or Weah?

In a few hours, Liberians vote for a president to take over from the transitional government which ended years of political unrest and civil war. The people will vote for Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf or George Weah. There haven't been any elections this year that I've felt ambiguous about, until this one. UK general elections - Lib Dems, German federal elections - SDP/Greens, Iranian presidential elections - Hashemi Rafsanjani. I err on the side of socialists, liberals, and progressives, but the Liberian question is a tad complicated. Ellen Sirleaf is the Havard educated former World Bank and Citibank economist and politician. George Weah is the high school drop-out former world footballer of the year. Sirleaf seems the obvious choice, after all I sneered at Schwarzenegger in California, cringed at Bush in 2000 and 2004. In my not so humble opinion, both of them are intellectual lightweights, not enough grey matter between the ears to deal with the important business of governance. But what I've learnt from them both is that personalities (e.g. pint sharing appeal) and overarching visions (e.g. cutting taxes) win elections, but advisors run governments.

I'm very uncomfortable with Sirleaf's past support for Charles Taylor. There are some lapses of judgement that cannot be forgiven and supporting a warlord is one of them. When people are desperate for power they cleave to anything, including people who embody the things they hate about their immediate society. One doesn't have to be in political office to make a difference, especially in Africa where politics is a blood sport. Wanting to be in power sometimes means allowing blood to be shed, inadvertently or not. Politicians should be wary of this. Sound preachy? Well, it is.

My mama was gonna to go to Liberia with a contingent of Nigerian women to support the Ellen Sirleaf campaign. Obasanjo's government in Nigeria has created some kind of feminista movement for women's empowerment. A lot of the West's commentary on Nigeria's so called rejuvenation has highlighted the involvement of women in key decision areas - finance, solid minerals, due process etc. There's a lot to be said for women in position of power being a major catalyst for change, not in Nigeria alone, but across the continent. This is obviously a plus point for Sirleaf.

I've watched Weah for a few years. I enjoyed watching him at PSG and Milan, he was part of the Bosman era revolution that created international dream teams in football. More significant is the work he's done with UNICEF, and funding Liberia's football team during the civil war. But most impressive for me was his decision, in 2000, to intervene on behalf of a Channel 4 documentary film crew arrested on treason charges, and his work in disarming and educating child soldiers. He might not have a Harvard degree, but what more would he need to do to demonstrate commitment and ability? Personally breast feed every baby in Liberia?

Now we need a caveat. If the people vote Weah and he's hopelessly incompetent, what do we do? It means we've been taken in by populism, and the power of the satelite dish (Liberians couldn't know about his footballing exploits in Europe without it.) All democracies should have checks and balances, and this is where they should be used. Vetoes and impeachment, methinks!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Friends. Rivals. Sisters.

That is the tagline for In Her Shoes... Were they trying to imitate Mark Antony from Julius Caesar? Shakespeare this is not. I've just sat through two hours of this film at the cinema (under duress), and only my pity for the cleaners stopped me slitting my wrist. I've heard blood stains are difficult to remove at the best of times, cheap cinema carpets would probably be a nightmare. What did I find wrong with the fillum? It has Cameron Diaz, who should have stuck to modelling. It was too long (130mins). There are too many sick bucket moments, "why would anyone want me? I'm fat". That is a sick bucket statement. The dyslexic girl ends up being able to read, all she needed was a bit of encouragement. Puhlease! You know what? The fillum isn't even worthy of my scorn, so I'll save it.

Of greater interest was the blunder of Dogs of War starting and not In Her Shoes. Cue complaining cinema-goers, cue film halted two minutes in, cue apologies and explanations from staff. So as company employees do to compensate customers for such blunders, they break open the glass case and hand out the freebies they'd normally steal for themselves, obviously feeling a pang of benevolence as they rip the free ticket coupons from the booklets. Well, I'm happy for them , but even happier for myself.

I went to a graduation lunch this afternoon. Graduations are one of the most fulfilling events anyone can attend. My graduation was quite possibly the proudest day of my life. I'd put it just below the kind of pride a man feels when his wife gives birth au naturel, sans epidural, sans caesarean. Not that I know how the whole childbirth pride thing feels, but I have a fertile imagination. Our heads of departments called out the names. They were very well practised, because Professor Lister called all five of my (African) names with out choking, biting his tongue, or bringing up the polenta he had for breakfast. The only problem was he took so long calling them that people must thought it was a brief interlude. I came out to a loud roar from my peers, and hugged and kissed our chancellor, Lord Attenborough. He whispered in my ear, "I wish I could pronounce all your beautiful names" (honest). And I think I muttered something like, "I'll only be too happy to teach you, Baron Attenborough. Just send Jeeves round in the Roller, and I'll pop in for a tea-time lesson." Okay, I made up the last bit. But I was so elated, at that moment all my stresses and woes seemed worth it. I won't say late nights studying were worth it, cos I never really did that. But I was proud of my achievements. It didn't matter that I didn't get a first class degree, a second, a third, or a fourth for that matter! I was up there, and my efforts had been acknowledged.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

He wuz briefed!!!

I've just witnessed the PM talk about football on Football Focus on BBC1. He talked about his cult team and it included Malbranque and De Zeeuw, not exactly the most popular players in the world. My conclusion? He wuz briefed! His bank of policy advisers and researchers probably researched everything that was going on in football and then briefed him. He then comes on television to talk about the world's favourite game, and look like a man of the people - yeah right. He's had a torrid time in parliament over the last few weeks, and then he embarks on a media offensive to mollify the electorate. The man sports a grey shirt, top button undone, black trousers, legs crossed. In today's Guardian, he looks similar in an interview with Patrick Wintour and Michale White. Tony Blair is either incredibly lucky, or his advisers are prescient to a frightening degree. These are my politics: start from a position of cynicism and then build towards scepticism, then if the politician is anything close to a 21st century Jesus Christ, mild affirmation.

Last night I played ISS Pro evolution with the boys for a few hours. I started off well considering I haven't got a PS2 of my own, winning about three consecutive games on penalties. As the night wore on, fatigue set in and I started to lose. My not having a console is no excuse, because, it's all in the mind. If you can think a good game, you can play a good game.

Friday, November 04, 2005

All navel lint and no substance

I've just been watching the Question Time debate between the two Davids bidding to become the next leader of HM Opposition aka the Tory party. David Cameron came across as I always suspected, all navel lint and no substance. Cameron was going into this in football terminology 2-1 up. Two points scored from the party conference and another after winning the Commons vote, Davis's point coming from his initial momentum as favourite, which has seen him through till now. Cameron's inexperience showed as Davis gave the audience the red meat they desired, and the meat was perhaps not Cameron's carcass, but his liver or something close. David gave specific examples of what he'd do if he became leader, while Cameron went on about rebranding the Conservative party. Davis made the allusion to Cameron being compared to Blair, saying "I don't mean that as a bad thing". Only ten minutes later for him to say that the country was tired of Blair and what they didn't need was another spinmeister general. Davis said this with two minutes to go, with no time for a proper riposte from Cameron, the third David (Dimbleby) called a halt to proceedings.

If I was dangled off Beachy Head and asked to choose either David, I'd repent of all my trangressions, make peace with my maker, and ask to be dropped. Don't believe in Conservative ideals, they run antithetical to most of my instincts. That said, Labour are no better. I'll slag them off another time.

Thieves shall be shot

I've just finished watching the Culture Show on BBC2. They had a piece about UK hip-hop which looked oddly familiar. As soon as they trailed it, I had the number for Mr. Sue-the-beeb-for-plagiarism QC ready to dial. I thought Auntie had stolen my idea. I contacted the Culture Show some months ago about a hip-hop in the UK idea, but it didn't get approved, because the questions it was asking were already answered in my proposal. If you've already answered the question you'll be posing in a proposal, then it kills the anticipation to watch a compelling piece of tv journalism, not least one about the arts.

I was gonna ask why UK hip-hop sells badly, and posit that competing against the authentic US model has makes it so. ("Make it so" - Jean-Luc Picard). In Western Europe, most countries have had chart-topping rap artists, Solaar, AfroB, Joni Rewind - to name a few. They can't necessarily compete directly with US artists because there's the issue of language, they compete with fellow German speakers etc. In the UK, we have to compete on lyrics, and beats. Double the stress.

Word for journos and media ideas people: don't always conclude that your idea has been stolen by the media devils. A commissioner might receive 10 proposals about a primetime reality quiz show called "how best to put jam on a slice of bread" (I detest jam, btw). The one that will get commissioned (trust me, such a title can get commissioned) is the one which suits the whim of the editor at the time he/she accepts it. You might not be able to spot the subtle nuances in the supposedly similar ideas, but trust me, they exist. The best thing to do is stalk the editor, proposition him/her, this should give you a better idea of how they like their eggs, sorry proposals, in the mornings. In the immortals words of nobody in particular - DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Do as I say...

Every one seems to have a blog. Why? I can't even post comments on people's blogs without being signed up to a blogger thingy myself. I detest having to give any personal details on the internet, and Mr. has made me do it. So now I've signed up to a blog, I might as well start blogging. I shall rant like all the other loonies out there who think they have something to say. I've seen the failings of the democratisation of freedom of speech: Any Thomas, Richard, and Harold can have their claptrap within eyeshot of the sane world in no time. It's the Voltaire maxim about one's right to say summat and dying to defend their right to say it. I'm not dying to to defend diddly. Perhaps they should just shut up.

I am now a blogger. Everything I said in the last paragraph lends itself to hypocrisy. Do as I say, not as I do!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005