Issue #66 - February 6th - 12th 2004

There is no why
Sleep lifted suddenly. I think it must have been around 4 o'clock. I'm not sure.
By Johan Hugo

The beauty in the way that we are living (installment 3)
"Swooning is more important than studying because contrary to popular belief life is not a leisure time activity". Discuss.
By Dimitra Daisy

The long lost diary of Miss S L Gleaden (part 17)
Its funny how unimportant difficulties can seem when you are amongst friends. For once it was Molly who decided to break the silence.
"It's strange how normal this is," she said quietly.
By Rachel Queen

Butler - Will Wash Whiter Than Hutton or Your Backbench Rebels
Blair believes he has been 'vindicated' by the Hutton report but the public disagree.
By Duncan McFarlane

Show me the Chesse
The Muppet Show speaks for it's self when I think back on it I still find myself laughing. The characters in it were outstanding and I'm sure everybody has there favourites, I personally love Animal, Gonzo, Beaker and The Swedish Chef
By Ricky McFarlane



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There is no why

Dear Jo,

I don't know why I'm writing you this letter. I know it's not to ask for your forgiveness - I do not expect to be forgiven for what I've done, or - at least - for what has happened. Nor is it to explain, because I can't. There is no why.

I wish there was: I know how rough it can be, not understanding. I don't mean it as an excuse, but I don't understand it either. It just sortof happened, and I was surprised as anything else. In a sense it didn't feel like I was doing anything at all, it was something that happened to me as much as it happened to you, perhaps. But I never knew the next step - or whether there even would be one - before I found myself taking it.

All I can say about it is: I'm sorry. I don't know if this was meant to happen in some way; but I do know I was powerless to stop it, once it had started. To stop myself going, that is. The funny thing is - which is quite a terrible word to use right now, I know, but... I didn't want it to happen either. And I still don't. I'm not happy now, if you're wondering (and I do mean "if"). I still wish every moment I could wake up and feel you breathing at my side, but I know I won't, and that I can't come back now. Something has died a sudden and quiet death, and it won't be resurrected. Perhaps it died a long time ago already (although I don't really think so) but the thing is - if so, I hadn't noticed it before, and now that knowledge will not go away again, and I cannot fool myself. Or you. It colours everything. It doesn't stink, but something won't respond, no matter how I prod at it. I can't say it any better, so please forgive the clumsy, stupid metaphor.

Are you still reading, anyway? I don't know whether I would be - probably not. But then, you've always been far more generous than I could be. Just in case, though - and for what little it may be worth now - I don't mean to imply that I'm in as bad a way as I imagine you to be. And that's terribly presumptuous of me, isn't it? It's not that I want, or even expect, you to be unhappy, but I can't ignore the possibility that you might be. Or confused, at least. And I have no right to be unhappy - at least I know what happened, if not why - and I feel I should... tell. I can't do any more.

And I've said it before, but I need to make this clear: I'm not trying to exonerate myself. I'm not, and I can't. I'm perfectly aware that I'm the (only) asshole here. No-one would deny it. I certainly don't. If I've hurt you, I take full responsibility for that. Believe me, it's not easy. I've never met someone like you, and I don't think now I will again. I know that's what everyone says when they lose someone so close, but that is honestly what I believe. Whatever it is that died - it's something inside of me which is gone. If that knowledge is my cross for what I've done to you, then so be it.

As for you, at least I hope you will find someone to treat you better than I have done. I think you will; you deserve it... which is trite again, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart, faithless as it is. So I'll stop this though, and tell you the way it was instead.

That last night that we were together, I had no idea. Please believe me when I say I enjoyed every moment - like I have every other moment that we ever spent together. That's why I too am so puzzled by all of this... And now I'm starting to think that perhaps this letter too is just one more in a long line of selfish things that I have done to you. But I can't stop it now - as with the leaving you, I find myself unable to turn aside, though something inside is begging, begging, screaming for me to stop! Just stop! Something is tearing apart, and still I can't. I watch my hand move like I watched legs that morning, and they're not a part of me. I can't stop. I'm sorry, again, and for always. Perhaps I'll save us both the cruelty of mailing this. It's hard to tell - I'm losing control over so many things.

That night. I never felt more sure of myself, of you; never felt more happy. I've felt that way with you before, often, but never more intensely. I never got bored with you - god only knows that. I was still so much in love with you (I still am). After you kissed me, finally, and we went to sleep, I slept so soundly. A Mongol army could have stormed the bed, and I would not have flinched. You were there beside me, and I could have protected you against anyone, and everyone... The enemy turned out to be inside the gates.

Sleep lifted suddenly. I think it must have been around 4 o'clock. I'm not sure. Anyway, we had not been asleep for all that long, but there I was, wide-awake, as alert and fresh as if I'd slept a week. Although I knew I wouldn't, I just lay there for a while, hoping I would sleep again. I counted seconds by each breath you took. You were curled away from me, your mouth open just a fraction on the pillow, and black lock curling wisps upon your cheek. Your underwear retained a blush of pink by the blue of the moon - your breasts were hidden in your arms - you'd kicked the sheet aside. I put my one hand lightly on your side to feel your breath go in and out, pause, then in and out again. You murmured something, edged a half-inch closer, smiled a tiny curve and slid your elbow down onto my knuckles as we lay there, for an eternity. Or, if only...

I though of all the things about myself I'd never told you yet. I was amazed that there still could be so much. Some of it I thought I'd tell you over breakfast.

I don't know how long I lay there like that, but the dawn had not yet scared away the dark when you moved again, just a little but you drew your arm up to your chin again, and then down again to cover the suddenly cooling spot where my hand had been. It had been long enough for me to confirm that I would not sleep again. I sat up, slung my legs off the bed, and had a sip of water. I stroked your arm once, tucked the lock of hear behind your ear - and never touched you again. It didn't register of course - I would give you a mighty Good Morning kiss the moment that you stirred. You didn't. Stir, I mean - not then.

I got down on the floor, did my usual situps till my breath came hard, my heart racing. I didn't want to shower then, for fear of waking you, but slipped into some clothes - the same one's I'd worn to the movie the night before. Normally I would not have bothered with the shirt, but there was definite early morning chill. No shoes - there didn't seem to be any need for that.

I was going to the other room - I wanted to start on breakfast so long, ready for you when you woke up, so that we could eat together before you went to work. At the door I turned and looked at you again. You must have felt that I was gone, because you groped around for the sheet and pulled it up again. Then you looked so peaceful sleeping there, so pretty... My heart was bursting, but that was it. There was nothing in it. Nothing different, I mean - I've looked at you a hundred times like that before, and it meant nothing except love enough to lose myself in. That's what I felt then, please believe me (I doubt I still get to tell you to believe now, or anything anymore, but know at least it's true.)

I was pottering around the kitchen, my eyes squinting at first from the sudden bright electric light, then slowly getting used to it. First I mixed the muffin dough, while I waited for the kettle to boil. You know how I've always liked kneading sticky dough. When the kettle steamed, then clicked as it switched itself off, I ignored it for the moment. Instead I went about stuffing the little mounds of dough into the holes in the muffin pan, then carefully rubbed the flaky remains off my hands. (I don't know if I really think you could possibly be interested in all this - in fact, it feels somehow obscene putting it all down like this now - but I've been running through these every moments so often these last days that I now find them pouring out of me like a leaking tap.)

By the time that I got through with that, it had been too long, and I had to switch the kettle on again. Of course, it didn't take too long this time round, just long enough for me to spoon some coffee into the mug. The hot water steamed even more vigorously because of the cold air, and I switched in the oven to pre-heat. My feet were cold and a little numb against the icy tiles, but somehow it seemed quite right. As did the way all the sounds came in that curious pre-dawn mix of crisp yet muffled. I took the butter from the fridge so that it would be soft enough to spread more easily, and set about grating some cheese.

It was then I reached for the coffee I'd been looking so forward to, and had an absent sip before I realized that I still hadn't added any milk. I suppose if there was a moment when it all went wrong, that was it, though really it had nothing to do with it at all. It was just a catalyst. The carton in the fridge felt too light, and empty it proved.

Through the window black was fading into blue, but still at this time only the service-station would be open. I'd have to drive, but that was fine - I'd be back before you woke. I poured the coffee down the sink - it would be cold when I came back, and you know how much I hate re-heating coffee in the microwave.

Before I left, I put the muffins into the oven, so they would just be ready when you woke (I hope that they - at least - turned out alright). My wallet still lay fat inside my trouser-pocket; the keys were on the table, so I didn't need to go back into the bedroom. My sandals lay beside the front-door. I slipped them on as I slipped out, clipping the front-door softly shut behind me. It meant, in short, that I never saw you again.

The streets are lovely to drive at that time of the morning. There really was no-one about. Once I saw a dedicated jogger just leaving his house; once a stray dog sniffing at a rubbish-can. The street-lamps still shone, but just above the mountains the sky was already turning white, the darkest part of the sky already richest brocade-blue. Only a few of the brightest stars were out there still, all the brighter for their loneliness. For all the sound the car made sweeping down the streets it was lovely quiet still. Magical, somehow. Though I dreaded how tired I would be later, it felt so good to be up at such a time. I wanted you there beside me then. I would wake you up the moment when I got home, to share this all with you.

I got to the service-station - I thought: why not fill up why I'm here? I handed the keys to the lazy-limbed attendant as he sauntered up to the car, yawning, told him to do so, check the oil and water while he's there. Then I went into the shop and bought a liter of milk, and - on a whim - a cigarette and matches. I stood there by the door, smoking while he finished up. How long is it since I stopped? 15 months, I think. I enjoyed it though. Eventually he finished. He came up to me and I paid, then crushed the cigarette on the concrete and got back in. thinking back on it, I should have worried you would smell the smoke on my breath, but I didn't. perhaps it only started there then.

I drove back to the flat though, absent-minded because the route is so familiar. The first thing I noticed though was that I didn't stop when I got there. I sortof wondered why, but told myself it was just so nice to drive; you wouldn't want to wake up yet; the muffins would be a while yet; I was just taking a little spin.

Half-an-hour later I was still going, although I hadn't thought about it. I wasn't meandering either. Somehow I still told myself I would be turning back. And then I never did. That night, when I found a motel and checked-in, I think, was the first time I sortof realized what I was doing. It should have been so easy to phone you, to just come back the next morning - or even that night. But I couldn't. I don't know why. I don't know what I'm looking for. I don't know where I'm going, or even where I am... I can't go on.

Oh God what have I done? Why?

It can't be undone now - there is no why.


Good bye. (And love you always, everywhere...

Johan Hugo

(More by this author)



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The beauty in the way that we are living, installment three

Because in Athens there are spring days even through the darkest of months. And there are songs that make it hard not to sing along (on the bus, even though people are looking) even through the most boring days.

Because there are also songs that break your heart into a million pieces, and warm winds that do the same. And sights that make you wish you carried a camera with you at all times, and stories that haunt you while you lay in bed waiting for sleep and people you wish you could see twice a week for the rest of your life. And people that make you dream of kissing them in new places -exclusively- and dreams that make you wish your prayers could make things happen.

And because there are countries where you want to go to find which way the rain falls there - or watch the sun stay up on the sky all through the nigh- and feelings that make you wish you were better with words, and moments that make you wish they would last forever.

"What's more important, life or work?" he had asked.
It was a tricky question. He was old, wise. I respected him, even looked up at him.
He was also my boss.

"Well... I'd rather I didn't have to tell them apart, really."
It was not a lie, nor a way to get out of answering the question. There are things for me that are both work and life (the Friends of the Heroes is just the first of them) and of course they are the best. And don't forget that I am an impressionable young dreamer: at that moment, and at several others for that matter, I believed more things could be like this, if only we wanted them to be.

He insisted that I answered, however, so I said that if I had to chose it would of course be life.

I mean, surely...

He started shouting. Not too much or anything but enough to make me feel like a seven-year-old done wrong at school - alone, helpless, wanting to cry. Knowing it's not fair but there will never be anything I will be able to do about it. He went on for a while but the only phrase I remember is "you can't have life without money", which, of course, is true - but surely it's not the right way of thinking?

It broke my heart, this whole thing, it really did. Because of course he's not the only one to think like that (the list is long and it includes teachers, bosses and family members of all sorts), merely the first one to be so eloquent about it. So four months later I haven't forgotten it. (I wonder if I ever will, and if it will only be when we've made our dreams come true to the extend of making a living out of them.)

That doesn't mean I'm thinking of it as I'm sitting at the middle platform of the station having a picnic on my own. I have better things to think about - how last night was magical, for example. Or how getting weird looks from all the people crowding the other platform is kind of fun (I can't believe none of them fancy a few minutes in the sunshine, it's just that going to sit on a platform from which your train is not departing is not something people normally think of doing.) Or how one is never really alone and the presence of a mobile phone in the modern world, because as I eat my lunch (with one hand, using the other to compose and send text messages) I learn that Rachel really likes the Matinee Smiths tribute we she recently got in the post and Ola is trying to study for her exams (she's studying linguistics) but somehow she always ends up swooning over Patrick Wolf instead.

No, I'm not quite thinking about it - it's just that it's one of the reasons I smile as I compose the reply to Ola (biting my lips, alternatively staring at the railtracks and the sky for inspiration). Because I feel like I've composed a manifesto of sorts:

"Swooning is more important than studying because contrary to popular belief life is not a leisure time activity". Discuss.

This train is old and tatty to the point of being horrible. It is also hopelessly slow and the only good thing about it that it's got a corridor with windows on the side, and you can open those windows and stand there watching the scenery change while the wind comes rushing in on your face. Actually it's dark and all I can see are the lights from villages as we pass them by. They look rather poetic I have to say even though I know they would look like the saddest place on earth if I had to live there. If I get my walkman to rewind I will listen to the Tidy-ups promise me that spring is coming closer and summer will be really nice once more and as the train moves on and there's nothing to see but the shapes of trees in the darkness I stare at the stars above, waiting for one of them to fall so I can wish on you - if it doesn't fall, does it still count?

(Yet more to come)

Dimitra Daisy
(More by this author)



Note: this is a diary of sorts. If I've met you lately or I have reasons to be thinking about you (or if your name is Nick or Mina) and you think it mentions you, it most likely does. I do hope you don't mind. Oh yes - 'The beauty in the way that we are living' is a song by Club 8.



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The long lost diary of Miss S L Gleaden

Previous Exploits of Miss S L Gleaden and her diary
|1|2|3|4|5| 6|7|8|9|10|11| 12|13|14|15|16|

The story so far:

The diary of Miss S L Gleaden had peacefully travelled the world with the dippy but loveable adventurer. Its life had been interesting and slightly unpredictable, but no matter where it was S L Gleaden provided a safe corner in her rucksack. Until fate insisted that the pair should part company catapulting the diary into a whirlwind of bizarre and slightly random situations. Eventually though the diary washed up on the shores of a small town in the long forgotten county of Cumbria. Locals were impressed by the story contained within, not to mention the book's ability to wash up on the shores of a landlocked town, and after many hours were able to track down the explorer herself and made sure that the book returned to her but not before they had read it from cover to cover of course...

The Cumbrian locals were suffering a power shortage and huddled around a candle to read the words written with the diary more carefully. Speculations as to whether S L Gleaden and her two companions would get arrested for illegally entering Bangaldesh had almost caused a punch up so they speculated in silence as to how far the of petrol could take the take the unlikely trio of travellers.

Day 20

It was about midday when the car ran out of petrol. The sun was at its strongest and I and E had been talking with his ever-abundant enthusiasm. Molly was staring out of the window and I was fiddling with a thread that had come loose on my t-shirt. The scenery had been rolling by rhythmically all morning and we were making good progress.

The engine died inconspicuously and the car rolled to a majestic halt. For five minutes we sat in a dazed silence, which was predictably broken by I and E

"Maybe we could persuade it to eat grass after all?" he enquired hopefully.

The simple remark lifted the mood slightly. Molly got out of the car and spread a blanket next to the car, which provided scant but welcome shade.
"Its time that we ate anyway" she said brightly. Two hours passed in a surprising state of calm. Lunch had been small but refreshing and we dozed on the red picnic blanket. Its funny how unimportant, difficulties can seem, when you are amongst friends. For once it was Molly who decided to break the silence.

"Its strange how normal this is. "She said quietly.
"For 36 years I have lived in Burma, looking at the same sky, breathing the same air then suddenly I'm here but unless I force myself I forget how peculiar all of this really is.

I and E stretched out his hand and brushed the hair form her face. Uncharacteristically he remained silent.

After some careful studying of my readers digest map of the world along with some optimistic guess work we were able to establish that we were probably 3 miles from the outskirts of Chittagong. We debated whether to leave the car where it had stopped, but it had served us well and didn't deserve that fate. Instead Molly sat at the wheel as she steered the car this way and that while myself and I and E pushed.

We were hot and thirsty when we realised we had reached Chittagong. Greeted by a ramshackle arrangement of buildings and parade of excited children we felt like circus performers. I and E cursed the car while Molly waved her hands enthusiastically. Before long though we were surrounded and it was virtually impossible to move.

"Look this is silly" I said sensibly "why don't we leave the car here and explore?"

I and E looked relieved. Molly looked disappointed but agreed and after two hours of aimless walking later and we found the harbour, which due to the rather circular detour we had taken was 5 minutes walk away from our starting point. By flashing around a Map of India we were pointed towards the most forlorn looking boat in the harbour. Leaning on the boat was a small stocky man who we soon discovered was the owner, reading a glossy magazine.
After fishing out a phrase book the following conversation took place. Please note the conversation was long and drawn out and has been edited in a manner which may imply that both parties understood each other perfectly. Unfortunately this was not the case.

"Nice boat" said I and E
"Not as nice as this car" said the man pointing at a picture of a small car in the magazine.

A glint sparked in I and E's eye as he looked at the picture. It bore a striking similarity to the abandoned mini.
We gestured at the man to follow us. He complied in a rather trusting manner. We pointed at the car. He nodded and smiled.

"Nice car"

"Will you take us to India with you?" (rustling of phrase book, dramatic hand waving)
"Ok but you must have papers." (more rustling and more handwaving)
"umm that's the problem. We don't have papers." I paused dramatically "but we do have that car there"

The captain turned to the blue car where molly and I and E were standing innocently looking upwards.
The captain turned back to me and looked as though he was about to argue. Finally he smiled. "It's a deal on one condition though"

"can you cook?"

I nodded. I and E beamed. Everyone shook hands.

And so dear diary we think we set sail in two hours, we think we are going to India...I hope to goodness that this is the case.

to be continued...

Rachel Queen

More By This Author





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Butler - Will Wash Whiter Than Hutton or Your Backbench Rebels

The Butler Inquiry - Trying to Wash Whiter than Hutton

"You have to be selective about the facts….It does not follow that you mislead people. You just do not give the full information ... It is not justified to mislead, but very often one is finding oneself in a position where you have to give an answer that is not the whole truth." - Lord Butler of Brockwell

Blair believes he has been 'vindicated' by the Hutton report but the public disagree. Polls show that 55% believe Hutton was a whitewash while Blair's personal rating has slipped to Minus 17%. Blair's response is Hutton Mark II - the Butler Inquiry. He'd better hope it works because if Labour MPs decide he's going to drag them out of their seats with him they might just replace him before the next election.

Lord Butler, who has been appointed to head a new 'independent' cross-party inquiry into the gathering, use and evaluation of intelligence on Iraq's WMDs, was cabinet secretary to Thatcher, Major and Blair. He was notorious for justifying government not telling 'the whole truth' during the Scott Inquiry into arms for Iraq and so has a proven record of covering up for his political masters.

Eleven backbench Labour MPs have signed a motion stating their lack of confidence in Butler's impartiality. The Liberal Democrats have rightly refused to take any part in the inquiry since it's terms of reference are, like the Hutton Inquiry's , too narrow to deal with some of the central issues - whether intelligence was distorted in its presentation to the public by the government and senior MI6 staff like John Scarlett of the Joint Intelligence Committee and Sir Richard Dearlove , head of MI6.

The inquiry will take place in secret and it's members have all in effect been appointed by Tony Blair or Michael Howard - leader of the Conservative party.

Blair has laughably claimed that the inquiry cannot look at whether the decision to go to war was right or not since 'That is a decision for which we, as elected representatives, took responsibility and will continue to take responsibility.'. He knows that the real issue is whether he , his ministers , Number 10 staff and MI6 chiefs conspired to mislead parliament in order to get MPs to vote for war - and this is an issue he will not allow any inquiry to investigate. So once again the government will appoint some of its own to investigate itself and unsurprisingly find itself innocent.

Palace Coup at the BBC

BBC staff are furious that their Board of Governors chose to force former Director General Greg Dyke to resign after the Hutton report despite legal advice from BBC lawyers that they could have taken legal action against Hutton for omitting facts which came to light during the inquiry from his final report and against Alastair Campbell for giving conflicting pieces of evidence and misleading parliament. Ten thousand staff backed newspaper adverts opposing Dyke's resignation and demonstrations by staff against government interference in the BBC continue. The move to dismiss this legal advice and force Dyke out was led by the Acting Chairman of the BBC's Board of Governors Lord Ryder - who was once a political secretary to Margaret Thatcher. BBC staff have led walk-outs and protests in support of Dyke across the country. Greg Dyke has released correspondence between the BBC and number 10 concerning coverage of the Iraq war which proves that the dispute between the two long preceded Gilligan's report on the Today programme.

The Acting Director General Mark Byford is a friend of the Minister for Defence Geoff Hoon MP - one of the BBC's main protagonists in the entire dispute. Blair is planning to appoint former Prime Minister John Major or former cabinet minister Chris Patten as the new Director General .Apparently the theory here is that since this will be a Labour Prime Minister appointing a Conservative Director General the corporation's independence will be guaranteed. However it is blatantly obvious that Blair is politically closer on almost every issue to the Conservatives than the majority of his own party - especially on the key issue of dispute with the BBC - the war with Iraq. In March 2002 it was the support of the Conservative Party that secured his victory on the vote to go to war. What's more appointing a former PM or cabinet minister to head the BBC will not secure its independence from government - it will fill it with people with a predisposition to view everything from the government's perspective. The Conservatives have shown themselves totally unwilling to criticise the intelligence services' active collaboration with the government in misleading the public in Operation Mass Appeal. These people are uniquely unsuited to maintain balanced reporting and freedom of information and will damage its independence.

Human Rights Watch - No Humanitarian Justification for this particular War

A report by Human Rights Watch, a US based organisation prepared to support military action to secure human rights, has rubbished Bush and Blair's claims that the invasion of Iraq saved lives overall or was justified on humanitarian grounds. Blair and Bush have claimed that killing thousands of Iraqis by invading Iraq and the continuing killings by coalition and opposition forces can be justified by the prevention of killings on an even larger scale by Saddam. Human Rights Watch concludes that there were no massacres taking place or planned by Saddam in 2001 to 2003 so no justification for the loss of life involved in a war supposed to prevent them.

When Saddam was massacring Iraqis - in the 1980s and 1991 - the US and UK didn't care. The 1988 gas attack on the town of Halabja was part of Saddam's genocidal 'Anfal' campaign against the Kurds. The US and Britain were arming Saddam with conventional weapons and WMDs - and Halabja didn't prevent them continuing to do so.

At the end of the 1991 President George H W Bush had called on Iraqis to rise up and overthrow Saddam. When Shia muslims in Southern Iraq did so not only did US forces not intervene to help them but actually both seized arms depots and prevented the rebels capturing any of these arms and also allowed Saddam's forces to pass through coalition lines in order to crush the rebellion (1).

Offline Sources

(1) Said K Aburish (2000) , The Politics of Revenge , Bloomsbury , London , 2000 & 2001 , pages 306-311

Let's Play Semantics again

Blair claims that he was 'unaware' of the distinction between battlefield and strategic weapons of mass destruction in the 45 minute claim (i.e rocket propelled grenades versus long-ranged missiles) until the day parliament voted to go to war in March 2003. It is truly amazing that the Prime Minister claims he made a claim for 7 months from 24th September 2002 to 18th March 2003 on which he went to war without having bothered to find out what he was claiming - especially given that Minister of Defence Geoff Hoon and the then Leader of the House Robin Cook both knew. Apparently the defence is that it didn't matter - which is ludicrous. Parliament would never have voted to go to war if the supposed 'threat' was from Iraqi possessing chemical artillery or rocket propelled grenade shells rather than long ranged missiles. The fact is that the deliberate impression given that the threat was of an attack within months or years by long-ranged missiles mounting WMD warheads on British forces in Cyprus or the UK itself was vital in getting MPs to vote for war. That impression was given by deliberately not making the distinction in order to mislead parliament. That is why the Defence Minister admitted the government made no attempt to correct newspaper reports on the 45 minute 'threat' from Iraq when he was questioned during the Hutton Inquiry.

As Dr Brian Jones who was at the time on the MoD's Defence Intelligence Staff has put it ' In my view the expert intelligence analysts of the DIS were overruled in the preparation of the dossier... resulting in a presentation that was misleading about Iraq's capabilities'

Blair also claims 'We never claimed in the dossier that the 45-minutes referred to ballistic missiles in this way' Now this is again technically correct but dishonest. The September dossier and Blair himself used deliberately vague language and mentioned both Iraq's supposed possession of and development of long ranged missiles and its possession of WMDs so as to give people the impression that Iraq had or was close to having such a capability without explicitly stating it - but allow himself wriggle room to claim never to have made such claims. This is exactly the same tactic used by the Bush administration when it shamelessly linked Iraq with September 11th and the 2001 anthrax attacks in the minds of the American public by constantly mentioning the two together in speech after speech . When criticised after the invasion when it was revealed that the majority of Americans believed Iraq was behind both the anthrax attacks and September 11th attacks they denied having made any such claims. Again technically they hadn't. They never explicitly said 'Saddam was behind September 11th'. They just repeatedly used language deliberately calculated to make people believe it - and succeeded.

Duncan McFarlane

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Show Me The Cheese

I was watching the telly the other night and I have come to a conclusion we are being bombarded by the same programs on all the channels, cookery, gardening and D.I.Y based crap that is not any good what so ever I mean where do you buy fresh squid, an Afghan melon, fresh venison or a cum kwat if you stay in a council estate in Glasgow. What the hell do you want with twenty square feet of decking if you stay in a tower block in Manchester and what in the name of god is M.D.F and what would I do with it if I found out.

Kids telly isn't much better, we import so much rubbish it's a wonder our kids don't grow up with accents from around the globe. I had the misfortune to turn the telly on one Sunday morning while getting ready for work and there in front of me was a purple dinosaur singing the three times table and dancing with four kids who, must have had there faces stapled into the big grins they were sporting, nobody can smile that wide all the time. Even Sooty has been wasted he now lives in a hotel with Sweep, Sue, a bunch of animals that i don't remember and some odd couple. What ever happened to when Sooty was just a mad wee bear that hung about with his friends and had fun at that camp Matthew fellows expence.

I remember when I was growing up you got good cheesy telly like "Crackerjack"," Tiswas" and for the very young "Play School". Play School was a classic, manys the day I stood in front of the telly pretending I was a tree with Flo Benjamin and Stuart McGoogan singing back songs about growing from an acorn, then we would head off through the round window to find out how they made tooth brushes or something equally as interesting. Tiswas was compulsory Saturday viewing and may I also add the only thing worth watching Chris Tarrent in, it had laughs, cartoons and live music on it and who could forget the Phantom Flan Flinger and his mad cap pie in the face gag's sheer comic brilliance.

After the kids telly you always got decent programs to, good viewing with variety, "The Sweeney", "Allo Allo", " The Dukes of Hazard", "The A-team" and my personal favorites "Starsky and Hutch" and "The Muppet Show". I loved Starsky and Hutch, the big red ford with the white stripe, Huggy Bear, the way the Captain was always shouting all the time and the way the guy's always caught the bad guy it was pure magic. The Muppet Show speaks for it's self when I think back on it I still find myself laughing. The characters in it were outstanding and I'm sure everybody has there favourites, I personally love Animal, Gonzo, Beaker and The Swedish Chef but I must admit they were all great, I must pay tribute to the late great Jim Henson he was a master at what he did and when he died we lost a true genius.

Even some of the other programs that I never watched much were better than the rubbish that is on now. Take "The Paul Daniel's Magic Show", now I know most people would like to take him and throw him off a large cliff and I have to agree he is very annoying but his show was always full of acts and performers from all over the world and he was good at what he did. You also used to get variety shows like "Sunday night at the Palladium" again full of different acts covering all of show business.

Telly SCI-FI was better as well with shows like "Dr Who". I can still remember sitting behind the sofa peeking out watching it when the monster or alien that week would trap the doctor and his side kick and he would always find a way to get out of it and the original "Star Trek" with the wobbly sets, running from side to side when the Enterprise would get hit by an asteroid, reversing the polarity of the fasers and pointing them at the dilithium crystals to start the warp drive and the good old catch phrases like. "It's life Jim but not as we know it", "I canny change the laws of physics" and " For Christ's sake Jim I'm a doctor not a miracle worker".

I have given up on telly at the moment with it's come and cook, garden and fix your house mentality and tend to spend time watching videos and dreaming about the good old telly we used to have. Telly has let me and I feel all of us down. I would like to see some good cheesy telly back on. Channel four and five have been showing some good old stuff now and again, and channel five show some really good cheesy films but I feel it is time for the other channels to do the same. Please for the sake of my sanity SHOW ME THE CHEESE.

If anybody out there can tell me of any old programs that were good that I have missed out and you feel should be back on the telly or any new ones that you feel are cheesy enough please let me know via the message board and maybe we could start a campaign to the bring them back.

Ricky MacFalane

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