Month: February 2012

Welcome home

Gayusmchomecoming

The UK changed the law to make heart-warming homecomings such as this possible in 1999. Nice to see President Obama sticking to a promise and making them legal in the US last year, only 12 years later than our slightly more advanced country.

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Julio Iglesias

Ignore the gongs given out at the Oscars™ yesterday. They ignored the best film of 2011 and possibly the best acting ever. They certainly ignored the best ending to a film ever.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was wonderful. The performances were spot on, especially from Gary Oldman (who the camera loves and who has screen presence that makes other actors look like painted stage backdrops). The 1970s-look was perfect. The original score was haunting. The direction was taut, spare and gripping. And of course John Le Carre’s original novel cannot be beaten for the web it weaves. And the ultimate accolade: it was as good as, if not better than, the 1979 BBC miniseries.

That it didn’t get an Oscar® is a crime. That Gary Oldman also went home without an Oscar© statuette in his pocket was even worse.

If you haven’t seen the film, go out and get the DVD. You won’t be disappointed, even if you remember Alec Guinness’s version with affection. If nothing else you can see the above ending, which is a work of genius, putting a truly wonderful seventiestastic version of ‘La Mer’ (Beyond the Sea) full of wistful joy over a montage of all the lives destroyed by the spy-in-their-midst – and Smiley’s promotion to head of the Service, the only one to truly benefit from all the horrors that went before.

Needless to say, this video is clearly spoiler-max (being the last 3 minutes of the film) so if you haven’t seen the movie and plan to, don’t press play.

Cymru am byth!

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I’m not much of a sports fan… wait, I’m not in any way a sports fan, but I am a patriotic Welshman, so I do like to watched Wales playing in the rugby. This is often a fun way of spending time – when Wales is good, we’re very very good, but when we’re bad…

The 2012 Six Nations, however, is going very well for Wales this time, helped by Scotland’s team not turning up and Ireland playing like they were carved from wood (we beat the English fair and square). This far in to the tournament, we are very very winning. And that’s a nice thing. It’s also a useful excuse to print the above photograph of Leigh Halfpenny not fully clothed holding the Triple Crown trophy in the changing rooms. Nice.

Pos Team P W D L F A PD TF Pts
1 Wales 3 3 0 0 69 46 23 7 6
2 France 2 2 0 0 53 29 24 6 4
3 England 3 2 0 1 44 40 4 2 4
4 Ireland 2 1 0 1 63 33 30 7 2
5 Scotland 3 0 0 3 36 63 -27 3 0
6 Italy 3 0 0 3 37 91 -54 3 0

This will be the most awesome thing you’ll see today II

Ti Sposer??

A game stab by the Italians at capturing the beautifulness of Australia’s “It’s time” campaign from late last year. It’s not quite as good – the point isn’t quite as clear, there’s no ‘shock’ reveal, the direction is a bit… basic, but it’s still a lovely thing.

The reason for this video existing is because the human rights bodies of Europe haven’t got round to tackling something ridiculous on our continent – that you can move from one country to another and see your rights and the fundamentals of your life change as you cross borders.

When the ball-and-chain and I go on holiday (by train) in the EU, we’re in the odd position of having our status change while we sit quietly reading in the carriage. In the UK, we’re ‘civil partners’, one stop short of married, we can’t be discriminated against legally and we can adopt children (perhaps not while sitting on a train). We pop out of the Channel Tunnel into France, where we are in a ‘civil solidarity’ contract, can’t be discriminated against legally but can’t adopt children.

If we head north in Belgium or the Netherlands, we’re suddenly married and have full equality before the law. If, however, we head south to Italy, when we cross the border we stop being even civil partners and become two individuals with no rights or links to each other at all. If you’re straight and married, you’ve never faced this – you leave one country as a married couple and arrive in the next as a married couple. On one (albeit impossibly circuitous) journey, I can go from being in a civil partnership to being married to being single without leaving my seat and without even exchanging a glance with my life partner.

This clearly needs to change – if only because the next generation don’t want to be put through such nonsense and don’t need to be; young straight people don’t want their gay friends putting up with such absurdities either. This is the opening shot in a campaign to end discrimination in a country once in the forefront – Italy legalised homosexuality in 1890, 77 years before England and Wales managed it. It’s a shame they’ve now fallen so very far behind.

Tear down this Bill, Mr Lansley

The government’s epetitions website is meant to be a place that we subjects can blow off a little steam without actually bothering our lords and masters.

That, however, isn’t to say it isn’t useful for those of us who want to take back parliament from the vested interests that are now running the show. When 100,000 people sign a petition, MPs have to look into having a debate about it – getting our voice into parliament, something many MPs (my own, Fester McVague, in particular) feel they were elected to prevent.

So here’s a petition that can make a difference, even if the result is only to bolster the ineffective opposition parties and shake the smug, self-satisfied consciences of the Liberal Democrat MPs who have let power go to their heads and their hearts.

If you’re a British resident, visit the Drop the NHS Reforms Bill epetition now – at the time of writing, it’s agonisingly close to the 100,000 signatures needed to force a debate, most of which were gained today.

Whatever you vote, and I don’t presume to know what goes on between you and a (secret) ballot box, if you’re British you have reason to be grateful for our NHS. Yeah, it’s not perfect, but it’s ours and it’s run by people who are doing it for love not money, for people regardless of what they can or should be asked to pay. And it is ours, not the government’s, not big business’s, not Lansley’s, not anyone’s. The NHS is ours and we need to stop it being privatised by stealth.

It does get better