Saddam Hanged

Saddam Hussein was hanged this morning (03:00 GMT – 06:00 Baghdad time) for crimes against humanity, following the 1982 killings of 148 Shias in the town of Dujail.

Yes, the killings will continue. Yes, the allies screwed up the occupation of Iraq. Many are warning of increasing violence in Iraq, although it’s hard to see how things could get much worse there.

Video footage of his final moments on the gallows has just been released. He looked calm, and the BBC are making much of this. The opponents of the death penalty are up in arms about his execution. The media are pushing the fact that he may be seen as a martyr. Iraqis have been celebrating in the streets.

Saddam’s defence lawyers have said there has been a great injustice. There can be no doubt that he was guilty. No technicalities were going to save him and he deserved his sentence, which was carried out in a far more humane way than the justice he meted out.

Nevertheless, swathes of people will become apologists just because of the manner of his death. That’s fine – argue against the death sentence, but please don’t try to defend the indefensible.

Warmth again

Yay! The hot water is fixed and the house is warm again. Having seen what the plumber did, I know what to do in future, but I’m still glad we got him in. It only cost us £30 to have the work done, so that wasn’t as bad as I had expected.

Just got to leave the wall to dry for a couple of days and then try my hand at plastering, which is something I’ve never done before. Eek!

Bleak House


Got back home today from Grimsby to a freezing cold house. We’ve left the heating off since I went through the water pipe, as I’m not sure how the whole hot water/central heating system fits together. Boy, do you miss central heating when you haven’t got it!

Christmas Day

When we go to Grimsby, we always stay with Emma’s mum, Joyce, and Ron (her husband, and I suppose my step-father-in-law). We also visit my aunt, who moved to Grimsby in the early 1990s to be near my cousin Rosemary and family. Growing up, my family made the trip to Grimsby every year for New Year’s Eve to be with my cousin Rosemary’s family. Unfortunately, we just haven’t seen them for the last five years or so. Last time we were in Grimsby, we had seen David, Rosemary’s husband, who’d come to pick Aunty up and we promised him that we’d visit next time we were up, so we did this evening, after we’d had a nice Christmas dinner at Joyce and Ron’s house.

It was great to see them all again. All David and Rosemary’s family were there – the three we had looked forward to seeing every New Year – Lynda, Neil, and Peter. Lynda (who was chief bridesmaid at our wedding) was there with her husband, Andy and their two kids, Lauren and Mason, who we’ve never met. Neil came over with his girlfriend and family and Peter was there too.

The atmosphere there was great. They still welcome you with genuine gladness and were roped (gladly) into playing a quick game of Winkle’s Wedding and Bingo – something we always used to do at New Year, albeit not too seriously. David is a keen model train enthusiast and has built an O gauge model railway in the area that was my Uncle and Aunt’s granny flat until they went to live in a retirement home. I’m not into model railways, but I had to admire the sheer amount of work and attention to detail that’s gone into what he’s built with the help of four of his fellow enthusiasts.

David and Rosemary put in a huge effort to making the Christmas holidays special for any visitors, and particularly family. As we left, Rosemary said to me quietly that she was sure that my mum would have loved the scene, with lots of children, pedominantly little girls, enjoying themselves and playing together in a big family get-together. I had to agree, as a lump came to my throat.

Plumbing fun continued and off to the In-Laws’.

Had a bit of a mix-up with plumbers this morning. At 9:00, I opened the door to a plumber and greeted him with, “Hello,Craig?”. He acknowledged me and then followed me through to the utility room, examined and cut the plastic pipe and then went off to get some parts he needed. About half an hour later there was a knock at the door. I opened it and there was a different bloke there, who I assumed was the plumber’s mate.

“Are you with Craig?” I asked.
“Yes” was his answer.

He walked through to the utility room.

“Ah, you’ve made a start then.” he said.
“No. Craig did it.”
“I am Craig.”

The penny dropped. The first plumber I had spoken to had not picked up my subsequent message last night to cancel and had come round and made a start. Craig told me that it looked like the other guy was doing the job just fine and left me to it. No call out charge, so that was fine and he seemed genuinely okay with it.

Just after he’d gone I phoned back the first plumber to see where he was. He said that he’d gone to Coventry, as all the plumbing suppliers around Nuneaton were closed, but he’d got the bits he needed and was well on the way back. I explained what had happened and said that I would rather Craig did the job, as he had committed to 11:00. He was fine about that and said that he would pick up the pipe cutter and dush sheet he’d left at my house when next in the area, so I phoned back Craig and asked him to come back. He said fine and then phoned back at 10:40 to say that all the usual suppliers were closed. At that point, I’d had enough of the situation and told him that we’ll leave it until the 27th when we get back from Grimsby.

Left as planned at 11:00 and took it easy on the drive up to Grimsby. We went the motorway route rather than the usual A46 route, as we took our cat, Paddy, with us and he always throws up on the A46, but was fine the last time we went the motorway route. We arrived in Grimsby at around 13:30 and after a quick coffee, headed off to see the pantomime Aladdin at the multiplex cinema in Cleethorpes. Seems like a good idea using a cinema for live shows.

Joyce (the Mother-in-Law) had managed to get front row seats, so I was expecting some kind of abuse from the performers. Sure enough, the guy playing Wishy Washy came off stage and called out “Here, Mum! Call the police! Someone’s stolen this man’s hair!” whilst giving me a few Benny Hill-esque slaps on the head. Wanker.

I was subsequently squirted with water by the same bloke and resolved to give him a good kicking if he did anything else. Fortunately, he turned his attention to other victims. In the end, it was a good show. At the end they invited a couple of quite clearly cherry-picked kids onto the stage, asking for a coople of volunteers. Philippa wasn’t having any of it and made her own way across the stage confidently to gate crash the party. It was very funny really, because they had to quickly put together another goody bag for her.

Had enough of water today!

Cursed plastic water pipes

I decided to put up some shelves in the utility room in our house today, for which Emma has been asking for quite some time. All went well until I drilled the last hole and hit a plastic hot-water pipe. What followed was a scene of which Michael Crawford would have been proud. In true ‘Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em’ style, the water squirted out. I struggled to turn off the water supply whilst Emma blocked the hole with her finger, the result of which was that the water started to squirt behind the plasterboard wall. Murron also heard me shout ‘F*CK’ very loudly, and came down to chastise me.

I’m not great when it comes to DIY on any utilities, so I called in a plumber, who’s due to come round tomorrow morning. After a conversation with my mother-in-law, it is clear that we will need to leave for Grimsby at 11:00 tomorrow morning (she has booked tickets for a pantomime). Phoned the plumber back to tell him that if he couldn’t finish the job by 11:00, he shouldn’t bother to come round. He only had an answer phone on, so I called a second plumber – one that was recommended by my band mate Andy’s girlfriend. He said he would be fine to do the job for 11:00, so I phoned back the first plumber and left a message to tell him not to bother coming over in the morning, given the requirement to leave at 11:00.

Work’s Christmas Meal

Well, I finished work today for the year, after which we had our staff Christmas meal at The Cross in Kenilworth. The last time I went there was probably in 1992 and it has certainly changed since then. My memory of it was as a pretty dark, typical pub, with some pool tables and a proper pub atmosphere. It’s now become quite a classy restaurant. Ross, Tommo, and I went there on our bikes, which meant a journey home in a pea-souper of a fog that we’ve had for the last three days.

Mike Oldfield’s Blue Peter theme

Found a clip I’ve wanted to see again for the last few years. Mike Oldfield recorded the Blue Peter theme tune in 1979 and I remember the footage of Simon Groom (one of the BP presenters) going to visit him to oversee the recording process.

It’s a great little clip and illustrates the whole multi-track recording process very well to the layman. The video is (unfortunately) in Real Video format, so it requires Real Player.

See the clip at×3&bgc=C0C0C0&nbram=1&bbram=1.