Monday, October 24, 2005


I have just returned from being interviewed by the 24-hour business news channel CNBC Europe. It was a very short interview about financial results, and given that it was my first "live" interview ever, I think I managed to do a pretty decent job. As such, I was keen to obtain a video or DVD copy of the show to keep for posterity and shameless ego-stroking. Little did I know that I was about to discover a nice little rip-off scheme in the process.

As you might imagine, the demand for video recordings of shows by guests who appear on CNBC is pretty high, so they have to outsource the production demand to another company, Executive Interviews. If this was the case, I figured it probably wouldn't be free, but that was alright by me, as it would only be a nominal charge. Er, wrong! When I received a call from someone at Executive Interviews, I was informed that if I wanted to buy a copy of my interview (which lasted for barely two minutes, let's not forget), I would have to pay £95 for the privilege, and over £100 if I wanted to be able to access it via a secure website.

So, let me get this straight. I agree to go on your show to help fill up your airtime by giving my expert opinion on something... and I'm the one who gets charged through the nose to see it? I don't think so, lady. True, as you say, I can always get my company to pay for it instead. But I don't want them to keep it, I want to keep it for myself. Is that so wrong? Obviously that's not going to happen now, but this sort of thing should definitely be made public. After all, I did ask several people at the station before the show whether I would be able to obtain a copy afterwards, and they all said yes. They just neglected to tell me it would cost nearly 100 quid. Next time I might as well just sign up to Sky Digital for a year and videotape it myself - it'd certainly be cheaper than this bollocks.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Anarchy in the UK

An unoriginal title to describe what turned out to be a pretty unoriginal - if entertaining - evening. The annual Anarchist Bookfair got underway in Holloway over the weekend, and I was on hand to witness some first-class idiocy by a handful of its attendees.

The Coronet on Holloway Road is a smoky, cavernous north London boozer, converted from an old 1930s-style cinema. Except on Saturday night, the place was filled to bursting with sweaty, dyed-haired, multi-pierced, scarrified yoof from the Bookfair rather than the usual old men and Arsenal fans (although a few of them were there as well, looking on in amusement). Being a Wetherspoons pub there's a no-music policy in effect. So imagine the fun when a particularly pissed-up table of "anarchists" began to blast music from a portable CD player hooked up to a couple of humongous old-skool speakers. Long story short, the bar staff refused to serve anyone until the music was turned off, the idiots blasting it ingored pleas from other drinkers to switch it off until one bloke got so fed up he grabbed one of the speakers and hurled it into the crowd, the police were called in, the pub was shut down and everybody (well over 200 people) piled out onto the street outside, resulting in arrests, batons and stretchers.

And for what? Nothing to do with anarchy, that's for sure. Res Publica has a similar take on the evening, but unlike me he actually used to be involved in the anarchist movement, and offers some interesting insights here. For me, the real interest of the evening came once our group had made its way to another pub nearby. I've never been made to publicly announce my political ideology before, but that night, it was all, "So if you're not an anarchist, what are you?", "Whose side are you on?" and, hilariously, "Are you a Sinn Feiner?" Bloody hell, what is this, the McCarthy trials? With a few noteable exceptions, the impression I got was that many of these people hadn't had any social interaction with non-anarchists or communists in years, and that as a result, they just didn't know how to process my existence. Bizarre.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

EC1 Cruise Control's 1st Birthday!!

Dudes! What with all the drama going on around the globe, and the complete opposite in my corner of it, I've forgotten to mention that EC1 Cruise Control is now officially one year old as of October 13th! Happy birthday to me! My very first post was a preview of last year's European Social Forum, and well, where else can you go from there but up, right?

Things have been a bit slack here of late, but reaching the one-year watershed has given me cause to sit back and reflect (for the last five minutes or so) on the direction this blog should take over the next 12 months. It doesn't take a genius to realise that there is more than a bit of navel gazing involved in the mysterious world of blogging. Some of this is necessary, of course; all new media forms need some kind of chronicling and advertising. Norman Geras's Normblog Profiles are an excellent example of this. On the other end of the spectrum, there's the remarkably unfunny Harry's Place spoof column in the Guardian, which I can only imagine must be reinforcing middle-England's impressions of the Guardian as a cliquey, self-obsessed paper trapped in the champagne bubble of the London media left.

Now, the tagline for this blog pretty much implies that I too am one of the hangers-on to said bubble, with its parties, launches, breakthroughs and scandals. But I wouldn't want you to think that I spend all my spare time at these events, because trust me, I really don't. While I do work as a journalist myself, my connections to the left-wing press are precisely that: connections. I happen to have met (and in one case, dated) a few people who work or who have worked on magazines that are liberal in outlook, and as such I get invited to the odd event, contribute the occasional article. When I first started this blog, I was a wide-eyed recent journalism graduate desperate to make it on to "the scene", whatever the hell that was, and decided that EC1 Cruise Control would be all about my brushes with it. One year later, and I'm now a jaded old bitch who frankly doesn't care whether Christopher Hitchens wipes the floor with George Galloway at a debate, when there are more pressing matters like global warming and dictatorships to attend to.

Of course, there are a zillion blogs out there that deal with these topics far more effectively than I do. But I've realised that I can't restrict this blog to happenings in EC1 when, at the end of the day, it just isn't that important. So fromnow on, possums, you can look forward to The View from EC1: my personal take on world events and, er, what can be done about them (god, am sounding more and more like Polly Filla from Private Eye), in addition to the usual slagging/gossipfest of anything media related that comes my way. Next up: the New Humanist 120th anniversary shindig in Clerkenwell Green. Will you be there?

Hey, what did you expect, this ain't IndyMedia.

Rory Carroll kidnapped

Statement from The Guardian
Wednesday October 19, 2005

The Guardian today confirmed that its Baghdad correspondent Rory Carroll, an Irish citizen, is missing, believed kidnapped, in Iraq.
Rory Carroll, 33, was on assignment in Baghdad earlier today when he went missing. It is believed Mr Carroll may have been taken by a group of armed men.
The Guardian is urgently seeking information about Mr Carroll's whereabouts and condition.

Here's what the Guardian had to say about it today.


UPDATE: I'm extremely happy to see that Rory has now been released. Here is the Guardian's report on his freeing. Mr Carroll does seem to be of the "what a guy" school of journalists, reportedly cool, calm and collected, and enjoying a beer within hours of his release. And, as Res Publica light-heartedly puts it, it would appear that Shi'a insurgents are the ones to be captured by, if you're going to be abducted at all.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Tough luck, Africa

Some harsh words from Gordon Brown in the Business section of today's Daily Telegraph. Just before heading to Beijing for a Sino-British trade summit, the Chancellor reportedly said, and I quote, "There is no other way to look at the world but through the response you make to global competition."

Well! If that's the attitude our more-than-likely next prime minister is going to take, then it looks as though it's hello China and tough luck, Africa. Is anyone really surprised?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Eating my words

I take it all back. It was gorgeous. All of it. Didn't want to come back. But here I am. Sigh.