Journal entry, 29 Oct 2005:
Thirty years ago, The Times was a broadsheet; the most severely highbrow paper, a bastion of uncompromising intellectual excellence.
Today’s issue is a tabloid, whose front page (in colour!) shows Prince William in a Charlton Athletic footie shirt. Then on page 3 we have ‘So Solid Crew gun killer gets 30 years’, again with a large colour picture of the Rap Group.
And then, on page 6 a fabulous B-and-W photo of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame with her husband Joseph Wilson. She’s in a headscarf and shades, and they’re sat in a convertible Jag; the whole thing looks like a still from a Bond movie.
The story so far: George W Bush, halfwit US President, has gone to war in Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein (good), introduce Democracy (good) and seize control of the oilfields (bad).
In order to justify this military escapade, he claimed that Iraq had huge stockpiles of nuclear and normal weapons all of which were ready to be dropped on London and Washington at short notice.
Joseph Wilson was sent to find out if Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Niger. This couldn’t be proven, but Dubya used the claim anyway, and when Wilson protested about this misuse of info, the lovely Valerie’s covert CIA status was revealed to the press.
Because of all this, Lewis Libby (Chief of Staff to Vice-Pres Dick Cheney) has resigned after being charged with perjury and obstructing course of justice.
Meanwhile, on p.17 of The Times, ‘Church is plunged into deeper disgrace by more sex claims’. Apparently the life of a parish priest in the Republic of Ireland is not as boring and wholesome as we are led to believe.
Lovely cuddly father Ratzinger (Il Papa Nuovo) cheerfully ignores all these claims of sexual abuse and refuses to cooperate with any attempt to bring perpetrators to justice.
Journal Entry, 28 Nov 2017:
Today’s edition of The Times includes articles about the government’s proposed ‘Industrial Strategy’ and the Profumo affair and the Brexit impact papers, which were heavily redacted before being released to parliament. This country suffers from, poor infrastructure and a lack of skilled workers (although we have a high loading of talented PhD call-centre workers) which will delay the economic boom. But who cares about the economy when there are more cheerful things to occupy our minds?
For instance…on the front page, a picture of Prince Harry, the fluffy ginger one, who has announced that he is to marry an American (!) actress (!) called Meghan Markle who was educated in a Catholic School (!) and is divorced (!).
She’s also a bit of a stunner, so hats off to Harry, as they say.
The paper also has an item about Cell Mates, the stage drama by Simon Gray which foundered in 1995 when Stephen Fry fled the cast.
And a report into Ampleforth Catholic College in North Yorkshire claims that sexual abuse is widespread – five convictions since 1996 – but that the culture inhibits disclosure or retribution. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Journal Entry, 2 July ’96:
Sometime last week John (the alcoholic landlord) gave us all an extra key and said that sometime soon the front door lock was going to be changed to stop Iona (the klepto who pretends to be always stoned but isn’t) from getting in.
So I left this key in my room, expecting to be given a day’s warning when the great changeover took place. Last night went to the flix to see ‘The Rock’ (James Bond meets Delta Force meets Indiana Jones) and when I got back the door wouldn’t accept my key. Aaargh!
Rang John on his mobile, arranged to meet, went to wrong pub and ended up sleeping in my car.
Journal Entry, 8 July ’16:
On Wednesday they published the Chilcot report into the Iraq conflict. Lord Chilcot and his friends have been raking it in – they get paid hundreds of pounds every day just for turning up to hear the evidence. The final report runs to thousands of pages. The war started in 2003, but even before then the Emperor Tony had written to George Bush promising to support him in any forthcoming military action.
A central plank of the invasion of Iraq was the idea that Saddam had a huge arsenal of weapons which were ready to be launched against the UK at just 45 minutes’ notice. It turns out that this was very speculative, and the ‘intelligence’ was actually based on the action-thriller movie ‘The Rock’ (pretty glass balls filled with a deadly green potion).
Journal Entry, 27 Apr ’05:
Very odd – went to pigeonhole at work after lunch and found a memo from Rob asking for my name, address, phone number and NI number, to be returned to him by 2.00 today. Why should he ask for info already held by the company?
Tested some white pigment for Kerr McGee – it’s got great opacity and clean blue undertone, but in choke paint it causes high visc, so we’d never meet our NVC targets.
Journal Entry, 29 Apr ’05:
Today at work Rob came into lab with my copy of the new Employee Handbook and the Conditions of Employment Document, which we both had to sign.
My job description now includes the word ‘manage’.
He rang me later and said that he had forgotten to explain that we would soon be getting a swipe-card clocking in system – new hours 0800 – 1645.
I said ‘Well, at present there is no record of my arrival in the morning’ and he replied ‘Yes, I know – I just look out of the window to see if you’re crossing the yard’.
Other things in handbook: the equal ops policy includes no mention of sexual orientation, even though this is Manchester.
Eating and drinking forbidden in workplace (no mention of Kevin’s bacon sandwiches, which he heats up in the oven every day).
Company car handbook – I’ve used the pool car a few times but never signed any insurance papers.
Journal Entry, 3 May ’05:
Yesterday went to cinema to see Nicole Kidman in ‘The Interpreteuse’, v good.
Went to Rembrandt and Outpost for a drink and found them swarming with bears. One guy in a check shirt and Stetson; grrrr! Where, indeed, have all the cowboys gone? The jukebox played ‘Three Times a Lady’, the most inappropriate song possible.
Today at work we’ve started our new timekeeping regime. Both Kev and Darren had to stay til 4.45, which must come as a bit of a shock.
The production department has just made a 700-kg batch of WB stoving varnish. When I carried out the QC test on it, the NVC was very low and the stoved panel had no strength – easily scraped off. Dead matt. Tried adding a small amount of Cymel and Lo! The gloss went up and the hardness increased significantly. So they’ve obviously forgotten to include it.
Went to PC World and bought some Norton security. Got home to find that the disc had been opened, and a page of details from some customer who had viruses swept off her machine.
Journal Entry, 5 Mar ’96:
Last Thursday Alex had to go to the Dental Hospital for some root canal surgery. Kim told him he should have arranged a standard appointment, not in works time. Never mind the expense. And Alex requested a single day off, in ten days’ time, but was told ‘No, you have to give two weeks’ notice.’ Not true.
Also last Thursday, Ken Salter was down in the booths spraying some submission panels. Kim spotted him and asked what he was doing. When Ken told him, he said ‘No, no, you don’t spray subs during the working day.’
Ken informed the rest of the QC staff, who adopted this procedure, and then when Kim was confronted by the production department he denied this totally.