Thursday, June 30, 2005

Flat full of pundits

What are the odds? A second of my flatmates has been invited to speak on the BBC Asian Network. This morning's debate was about the British Medical Association's decision to lower the legal limit for abortion from 24 to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Speaking on behalf of campaign group Abortion Rights, tha Rizzla followed in the footsteps of another of my co-habitors, who has previously represented the voice of secularism as the deputy editor of New Humanist.

If you didn't hear today's show, you missed out on a very interesting and well-argued debate (and props to Ms. R for her über-slick Radio-4-style voice; who knew?). Am trying to find a link to a recorded version, but the Sonia Deol Show doesn't appear to have any archives... Watch this space.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

House party

Don't look for me in EC1 on Friday, dahlings, because I'm going to be on the balcony at Westminster, sipping wine with a glittering array of MPs, animal rights activists, and, er, Bill Oddie!

Well I'm looking forward to it anyway, seeing as I've never been inside the House of Commons as an invited guest before and last time I checked, neither have you. So there. :)


My NUJ press card finally arrived in the post yesterday morning after I finally got my act together enough to take a photo and send away for a pass last week, despite having been part of the union for almost two years. While it's a nice thing to have in your wallet, and gives young journalists such as myself a kind of credibility boost (safe in the knowledge of being certified), I don't know anyone who's ever actually had to use theirs. Except, erm, to blag a free ride on the London Eye when it first opened. Guilty feelings, anyone?

Still, there must be someone out there who respects us NUJ'ers. After having my purse snatched by two kids on a scooter in Bow last month, the only thing that resurfaced and was returned to me was my union membership card. Then again, maybe it was the only thing in there that wasn't considered to be of any use. Personally I choose to believe it was the thieves' sense of class loyalty and social justice that persuaded them to return the union card to its rightful owner.


Restricted blogging

Not been much going on at EC1 Cruise Control lately, for the simple reason that my "real" workload has increased about tenfold over the past couple of weeks. Combine that with entertaining people from out of town, preparing for interviews, packing for a two-week trip and suffering through writing tests done entirely in German, and you get some idea of what I'm going through.

Anyway, the good news is that I got the job! Hurrah! As of 28 July I will officially be back in the realm of published journalism, only this time I'll be getting paid for it and I'll be specialising in something a bit more demanding than pub reviews. Pharmaceutical markets of northern Europe, anyone? Hey, you never know.

My blog will go on, however. You'll just have to forgive the occasional break now and then, when things get too hectic. Still, I'm a firm believer that having a busy job and an interesting blog aren't mutually exclusive. It's just that laziness and general apathy sometimes get in the way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

That Michael Jackson verdict

You know who the real losers were from yesterday's not-guilty verdict and ensuing blanket media coverage (black SUV rolls along highway! Then rolls along highway some more!) ? Really? Destiny's Child. On any other day of the year, the news of their break-up would have dominated the entertainment headlines, as one of the few genuinely talented all-female pop groups to make it big over the past decade. But no, Jacko gets a clean slate and suddenly their big media moment is blown out of the water. The Spice Girls got more coverage when they split up, and honestly, what the hell for? DC's publicists must be really pissed off.

Incidentally, full marks for sneakiness to the Evening Standard, for their damning billboard screamer "I'LL STOP SLEEPING WITH BOYS", SAYS JACKO. Harsh!

Monday, June 13, 2005

It Begins....

At long last, the wheels are in motion for a change of scene at the office. The chance to move to a job that is actually based on writing my own articles rather than merely editing other people's tosh. Getting my name out there, making contacts, going on trips, breaking news.... and most importantly, a much-needed pay rise!! Oh god, could it be? Please please please please please say yes.

The writing test is on Wednesday afternoon. Pray for me, possums. Pray for me.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

My thoughts exactly

From GAUCHE, on the French and Dutch "No" votes to the European Constitution.

Paul Anderson writes:

The Dutch have voted "no" too, which makes it pretty much inconceivable that the Brits will hold a referendum, which means that the European constitutional treaty is dead. Cue sighs of relief all round for Tony Blair and his government, crowing from Eurosceptic chumps
et cetera – but what now for Europe's institutional arrangements?

It's clear that the French and Dutch referendum results were rejections of the institutional status quo as well as of the treaty's proposals (even if they were also about other things). And the key point that everyone sensible in the "no" camp was making was that the EU was
insufficiently democratic and open.

So something needs to be done soon – if not tomorrow – to establish the EU's democratic legitimacy. Part of that must include opening up its workings more to the scrutiny of national parliaments. But in the end I
can't see any solution other than increasing the credibility of the European Parliament. And that means massively augmenting its powers over the Commission and the Council of Ministers as well as clamping down ruthlessly on expenses scams.

In other words, the French and Dutch votes make the case for a democratic federal European polity stronger not weaker.

Couldn't agree more. People complain about not having any influence on decision-making at the EU level, and yet only a small percentage of us actually bother to vote when it comes time to choose our MEPs. And is it any wonder? I remember sighing in despair as I sat through a Structure of Government course taught by Mr. Anderson himself, as he struggled to make us understand the differences between the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Council, the Coucil of Europe and the Council of Ministers. Actually I think those last two are the same, but who can be sure? Not your average voter, I bet.

Right now the EU is seen by much of Western Europe as a bloated, self-important, bureaucratic mess, more concerned with lofty ideology than matters of practical relevance. The fact that it was two EU founder-members with some of the strongest ideological beliefs in Europe that slapped down the Constitution speaks volumes. Simplification is what we need, and I think the real test of success for the EU will be the voter-turnout figures at the next European Parliamentary elections in four years' time. If Brussels wants us to be excited about the new Europe, they'll have to try harder than this.