Tuesday, September 16, 2014

U2 apparently on a mission to turn cold reception of new album into full-on pitchfork rage

Guy Oseary, current U2 manager, isn't brooking any criticism of the flopped U2 album stunt. He tells Mashabale:

"It’s a gift from Apple," Oseary said. "If someone doesn’t like the gift, they should delete it. ... There are people who are going to be thrilled to get a gift. There are people who are not going to care to have this gift. We knew all of that going in. No surprises here. If someone doesn’t like it, then great, that’s OK, delete it. ... We just want to share it with as many people as possible. If you don’t want it and you don’t need it, delete it."
If it was just as simple as deleting it, this would still grate - because why should it be incumbent upon a person to have to clean up the firm turd left on their living room carpet? True, you can just pick it up and throw it away, but it might have been nicer to be asked in the first place - 'Do you want a free U2 album' - so we could all say 'is it one from the early 80s?' before going 'no'.

But it's not just a case of simply deleting it. Because it's not a firm turd; it's a runny one, and you either can at best "hide" the thing, or have to go to Apple and use a special tool to get all the dribble off your carpet.

A gift you can refuse is one thing. A gift that you have to invest time and effort into just pushing out of sight is another.

Something else interesting from the Mashable Q&A. When asked about how the release had been received, Oseary has a bright side:
A lot of people, from the look of the iTunes chart, are clearly rediscovering the band’s catalog or discovering it for the first time.
But then, asked about if it was disappointing that the record wasn't yet eligible for Billboard:
It doesn’t bother me because I haven’t even wrapped my head around it yet. I’m not looking at the charts as high on my list of concerns.
I mean, who cares about charts, right, unless the information they're giving us is useful for the purposes of spinning the biggest backsplash PR disaster since someone wrote 'New' on a flipchart at the Coca-Cola Company?


What does SXSW do for Austin?

According to the organisers, this year's SXSW festival brought in USD315 million to the Austin economy - although that figure excludes things that take place outside the official banner of the festival. (I don't think they're just talking about the dealers here.)

It also generates getting on for USD80million worth of positive coverage about Austin:

In addition to injecting hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy, SXSW 2014 also provided Austin with extraordinarily valuable media coverage. Since its inception, SXSW has played a critical role in helping position Austin as a place where creativity and commerce are mutually valued, nurtured, and networked.
In other words, SXSW is pretty much responsible for the "well, except for Austin, I guess" rider people will add when they talk, shuddering, about What Texas Is Like.


U2: All that you can't leave behind

The triumphalist parping as U2 "made history" by foisting an unwanted record on people now has a historic counterblast: Songs Of Innocence is now the first record in history to have a special tool dedicated to its removal:

"Some customers asked for the ability to delete 'Songs of Innocence' from their library, so we set up itunes.com/soi-remove to let them easily do so. Any customer that needs additional help should contact AppleCare," spokesman Adam Howorth told the BBC.
Yeah. Apple didn't even stop to think before the release that some people might not want the bloody thing.

Apple did change things last week. Up until last Tuesday, someone in front of you tapping the front of their watch impatiently used to be a sign they wanted you to hurry up. Now, that gesture just means they're trying to wipe U2 off their devices.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Hold on, Bono's found a way to make that unwanted album even worse

As if the whole distribution of the lumpen U2 album wasn't enough to make it as attractive as an open sore while swimming in the waters of Fukushima, Bono's found a way to make it even less attractive.

Talking about it in a self-satisfied manner:

"We wanted to make a very personal album," Bono told Rolling Stone's Gus Wenner the day before the press conference in an exclusive interview. "Let's try to figure out why we wanted to be in a band, the relationships around the band, our friendships, our lovers, our family. The whole album is first journeys — first journeys geographically, spiritually, sexually. And that's hard. But we went there."
Oh, that's so hard, going "there", to a place that has only ever been visited by almost every single writer, poet, songwriter, mime artist, penis puppeteers, copywriters, silver-sprayed statue people and rodeo clown that has ever existed.


Legendobit: Peter Gutteridge

Peter Gutteridge, a legend in New Zealand's underground music scene, has died.

Gutteridge was a founding member of The Clean, The Chills and Snapper, and also had a solo career.

Last year, Gutteridge spoke at length with Mess And Noise's Wes Holland:

Peter was in the kitchen. I could see him wiping out a mug and diluting a soup.

He walked into the lounge, sat down and asked, “So, do you make music?”

“I play in a couple of bands, one’s called The Sand Pebbles…”

“And what sort of music do The Sand Pebbles make?”

Anxious, I uttered a line I thought would get him on-side.

“I guess you could describe it as sounding like the trippiness of psychedelia and the…”

He interrupted. He didn’t like me saying that. “There’s that word! If I had a dollar for every band that I’ve heard in the last couple of years call themselves ‘psychedelic’. Bands think that using a bit of feedback and an effect pedal somehow makes them psychedelic. It’s bullshit.”
Flying Nun have issued a statement:
We are greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Peter Gutteridge today.

Peter was a Flying Nun original, a founding member of The Clean, The Chills and of course his own brilliant band Snapper. A great talent, he was also member of the Great Unwashed, involved in many Dunedin bands and went on to release beautiful solo material across the years.

All of us, and so many people around the world, have been touched and affected by his music, whether it be the swirling fuzz of the guitar or haunting piano melodies, Peter was a true hero of New Zealand music, and will be deeply missed.

Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family and friends at this very sad time.

Thank you Peter for all the music, may you rest in peace.
Still very much an active musician, earlier this month, Pete had played his first ever show in the US.

The cause of death, and even his exact age, is currently unknown. He died earlier on September 15th.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nicki Minaj and her old school: There's a twist

In the comments area on yesterday's post about Nicki Minaj's old school turning her down, Curious Iguana pointed out there's a statement from the school.

No television crews in school. That seems fair enough, right? A clear policy. Can't argue with a clear policy.

The idea of turning down a visit from a camera crew to a school of performing arts sounds a bit like telling Stephen Hawking to keep away from a science academy so as to not distract the pupils. But it's a rule.

Although, oddly, there's a lot of footage of things shot inside the school knocking about the web.

Another quick shake, and the New York schools administration admits it's not so much TV itself, but the type of TV:
“We do not allow reality TV to be filmed on school property,” Feinberg wrote in a statement. “For documentaries, any visit to a public school must be educational in nature and cannot intrude on instruction, and the decision about whether we can accommodate visits from celebrities is entirely up to the principal who manages the property.”
Reality TV. Not TV. Which, again, is fair enough - any sort of rule which stops the idea 'why don't we get the Duck Dynasty guys to deliver commencement' is a good thing. But you wonder if there's a clear definition of what the Department of Education considers reality, and if there's a subsection rule on what counts as scripted reality. Or if all these policies are just being thrown together on the fly.

But you know what? What we really need is something inarguable to explain what's gone on here.

Given this is America, perhaps we could find someone to deliver a 'because of terrorism' explanation, with which nobody can argue. Then we can all go home.

Mom quoted in the New York Daily News, can you rise to the occasion?
One mom said it was a particularly bad week.

“The school would definitely want her, but it was very last-minute, and protocol in public schools is no joke, especially with the Sept. 11 anniversary,” mom Ilene Sofferman told The News.
Of course. If Nicki Minaj had spoken to some kids about working in the entertainment industry, then the terrorists would have won.


This week just gone

The most-read stories this week:

1. Why is there a U2 record in my collection, Apple?
2. RIP: Throb
3. Paloma Faith slightly misses the point of the naked photo theft
4. Watch: The New Pornographers at Letterman
5. Neil McCormick who knows Bono says stop whinging about the U2 album
6. Kate Bush is doing a video
7. Tom Clarke insists he isn't a hobbit
8. Simon Bates eased out by Smooth
9. RIP: Kwon Ri-Sae
10. Nicki Minaj can't go back to school

These were interesting, and released:


Karen O - Crush Songs


Download Crush Songs



Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World


Download The Physical World



Simian Mobile Disco - Whorl


Download Whorl



Mazes - Wooden Aquarium


Download Wooden Aquarium



Interpol - El Pintor


Download El Pintor



Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams


Download Ryan Adams


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nicki Minaj's old school tie forever loosened

You know how schools love a former pupil who's made it. Any chance they have to wheel them in - no matter how slim their claim to fame - and once again that 1996 Olympic fourth-placed canoeist will be on the stage handing out prizes.

Which makes it all the more surprising that when Nicki Minaj offered to do an event at her old High School, the school school said no thanks.

Oh, and this isn't because the school might be thinking that a career in pop music is a bit beneath what they want for their pupils. Minaj went to Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School. The school that they based Fame on.


U2: Why that 'free' album is dangerous as well as turgid

There's a good piece on The Register about why pushing an unwanted U2 album into people's faces is more than just impertinence:

Some have said that the offer would have been more palatable if a band with more "street cred" had been promoted.

But that's not really the point. Days before the U2 push, crooks were spamming fake Apple emails accusing marks of buying the film Lane Splitter on a computer or device that hadn’t previously been linked to their Apple ID. In reality it's not an Apple purchase notification, it's an attempt to trick users into handing over their Apple ID usernames and passwords to a phishing site, as Symantec details. The scam messages are distributed by the Kelihos botnet.

With Apple randomly messing with the contents of people's iTunes cloud libraries, this sort of email alert looks plausible: I just got a free album, maybe I just got a free film, victims may wonder. Celebrities had their private nude images spilled from their Apple iCloud accounts – have I been hacked too, others will ask when faced with an email notifying them of an unexpected purchase.
Apple want to trust us with using their products as an electronic wallet. Proving they can't be trusted with your keys doesn't seem a great idea right now.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Neil McCormick (who knows Bono) says why the Apple U2 'gift' was OK

Neil McCormick, who knows Bono, just popped up on Today to explain why people who are annoyed that Apple has foisted an undeletable U2 album into their personal music collections are wrong.

Neil, who knows Bono, muttered something about how the people complaining were the same ones who let Google serve ads next to their emails. Then he came out with this:

[They're] whinging because the biggest band in the world has put a free album in their box
Firstly, Neil, who knows Bono, One Direction are completely innocent in all this so I don't know why you're suggesting they've done anything at all.

Oh, maybe you meant that U2 are the biggest band in the world, like you're sending a dispatch from the early 1990s.

This suggestion that, somehow, it's okay because U2 are (or rather, once were) popular is fascinating - 'why are you complaining? They've had number one albums'.

Neil then went on to say that it didn't matter any way because it was all somehow in the cloud which also makes it alright, but then I had to go and watch some magpies throwing a mouse corpse around in the street. This isn't a metaphor; it was something that actually happened.


Screamobit: Robert Young

So, no, then: as it became clear yesterday, Throb's death wasn't just a Twitter rumour.

The Primal's official statement, signed by Andrew Innes and Bobby Gillespie:

"We have lost our comrade and brother Robert Young.

"He was an irreplaceable talent, much admired amongst his peers.

"He was a true rock and roller. He had Heart & Soul tattooed on his arm and I'm sure on his heart too.

"He once said to me, 'When we go on stage it's a war between us and the audience'. He never let go of that attitude."

"Our love and thoughts are with his sons, Brandon and Miles, and their mother Jane, his wife Rachel, and his immediate family."
The Independent has marked Young's passing by publishing a large, glorious photo. Of, erm, someone else. And then slaps on a caption that references someone else again.

In other poorly considered tributes, Liam Gallagher tweeted "Live Forever" which, while understanding the sentiment, seems a poor choice of words. Andy Bell, the one who was in Ride and some other bands, managed a better way of saying the same thing:
"That big power chord in Loaded is ringing out on the other side now."
Robert Young was 49; his body was found Sunday in Hove. Sussex Police have said the death was not suspicious, but natural justice says it was way too soon.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throb?

According to a scattering of tweets, Robert Young - original member of Primal Scream; 'Throb' to the band and its fans - has died, although there isn't anything approaching official confirmation. Let's hope its a bad Twitter rumour.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Venuewatch: The Cockpit

Sad news from Leeds: The Cockpit, which closed for "maintenance" at the start of the summer, is not going to reopen:

“It is with great regret that we have to announce the permanent closure of the Cockpit.

“After 20 great years as an integral pillar of the Leeds music scene we have decided that it is no longer viable to deliver you the level of service you deserve with the building in it’s current condition.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank every one of you who came to watch your favourite bands, danced, stage dived, crowd surfed, found your life partner and gave the Cockpit its reputation as one of the best live music venues in the UK.”

It added: “All forthcoming live events will be moved to alternative venues and all original tickets will remain valid.”
According to the BBC report, attempts to make good two decades' worth of skipped maintenance proved overwhelming, closure being the only option.

It's a shame, though. A lot of history in twenty years in those poorly-distempered walls.

Here's Rolo Tomassi playing there:


[Thanks to @CJHutcheon for the tip]


Quick message to Apple

Hi Apple.

Why is there a shitting U2 album in my iTunes this morning?

Why would you do that?

What do you think the advantage to me is of having, hidden amongst music that I actually like and want to have in my collection, a U2 album that I did not ask for, do not want, or would never seek out?

By all means, offer the record in your store. Advertise its availability far and wide. Float U2 on the magma atop a volcano, film the event in HD and book every advertising slot on every TV channel to show the results.

But do not, ever, insert unsolicited bullcrap into my iTunes library. Ever. You're making a Surface seem like a good idea.

I don't even seem to be able to delete the stinking things, either...

No, I don't want to "hide" them. I don't want them in my Cloud purchases. I want no connection with these tossers. I want them gone. I want them deleted.

Please don't ever do this again.

[This reminds me of the time that the BBC shoved unfunny sitcom Dossa and Joe onto Sky+ boxes without asking first.]


Tom Clarke: I am not a Hobbit

Time Out appears to have called Tom Clarke out The Enemy a Hobbit.

Tom - known for his outspoken barbs himself - giggled a little and said 'you know what? I wish I had one-tenth of Martin Freeman's charisma'.

Oh, sorry, I'll just read that again. He didn't do that.

Instead he did this:






Tom, Tom, Tom. They don't use little pens any more. Actually, little pens was people in bookies or Argos; most journalists used normal sized pens. They use keyboards. Although maybe you misspelled penis.

We perhaps shouldn't be surprised that Tom is threatening to shoot people in the face for a mild comment - he also uses his Twitter feed to bang on at some length about his broadband problems.

And there's this:

I have no idea what Tom is referring to. But I'm pretty certain he hasn't, actually, been raped.

Time Out did make a mistake in calling Tom Clarke a Hobbit. It's easy to get confused, but the cave-dwelling fictional creature they were really going for was a Teletubby.


Kate Bush: Filming the filmic live performances

This morning Digital Spy asks a question:

Kate Bush to release live DVD of 'Before The Dawn' London shows?
It's just pondering. Maybe she is, maybe she isn't. Who could tell? How could anyone know?

Unless, erm, they read the story right underneath the headline:
The singer - who is currently performing her first live dates in over 35 years - has sent out a message to fans with tickets for the September 16/17 gigs to say that seats are being rejigged "to film the show for a DVD release".
I'm no expert, but that suggests that maybe there's going to be a DVD. Although who can say for certain with such a typically gnomic utterance?


Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Venuewatch: Vice drives out Death By Audio?

Williamsburg venue Death By Audio is closing. They announced it like this:

After seven years of operation Death By Audio will close on November 22, 2014. Running this space has been an incredible undertaking and a joy since day one. We have been fortunate enough to host bands from all over the US and the world nearly every night of the week. Amazingly, we've hosted in excess of 1000 acts a year for the past seven years. The effect pedal company will remain open and relocate to a temporary space until we find a more permanent home.

When we first moved onto south 2nd street the only things on our block were a used police car lot and several empty buildings. Now there are a half dozen expensive restaurants, bars, a daycare center and a new condo building (that was an empty lot when we moved in). All ages DIY music venues are almost by definition temporary, and we feel fortunate to have lasted in this space for this long. We knew from the beginning that it couldn't last forever and we are extremely grateful to everyone who has preformed or attended any of our shows. We are still weighing options about what happens next and will let everyone know more about the future of Death By Audio as soon as we can.

Our closing party starts Wednesday Sept 10 and we will have great programing for these last 75 days. We are looking forward to putting on some really incredible shows to send off what has been one of the greatest undertakings of our lives. We hope to see you there.

Edan and Matt

P.S. If you're in Hot Snakes please get in touch.
So they're going without rancour, and the tale of 'grassroots venue eventually forced out by the very improvements to their area their presence helped generate' won't be surprising to anyone who follows any music scene in a city.

Part of the reason things got tougher for DBA was Vice's expansion in the same building. Impose reported on this back in July:
DBA manager Edan Wilber also confirmed that they did not have plans to be moving anytime soon, but added, “We’ll see how that goes when our lease is up.”

While it remains to be seen if either venue withstands the test of time (or the more pressing threat of neighbors like VICE driving up the cost of rent), this news means that local music fans will still be able to see shows in two of Williamsburg’s best venues for at least a little while longer.
Only a little while longer in the case of DBA, it turns out.

Obviously, it's not Vice's fault - a successful business needs space, and a rising tide lifts all rents and so on.

But... as Brooklyn Vegan pointed out, Vice got given $6.5million in tax breaks to remain in Williamsburg which, when space is being parcelled out, might be seen as giving an unfair advantage to the already cash-rich media organisation over a sweat-and-love driven local venue.


Embed and breakfast man: The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers did Letterman yesterday. Here, don't take my word for it - here they are...


What is Emeli Sande up to these days?

In 2013 Emeli Sande would appear singing as soon as three or more people gathered, like a Magic FM version of the riot act.

This year, she's been quieter.

So, what's she up to these days?

Erm... she appears to have become the Arthur Daley of music, flogging cars down by the Thames:

Emeli Sandé performed at a secret location on the River Thames tonight (September 8), helping to unveil the [new car].

The singer played a 45-minute set, including a song titled 'Feels Like' which she created especially for the launch of the new vehicle.
But I know what you're wondering now - was there some sort of half-arsed social media campaign to launch the new car?
Using #FEELXE, the public shared words, pictures, sounds and films through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Actually, it looks like mostly "the public" here means 'car dealerships, motoring journalists and PR people', but even DigitalSpy is struggling to find anything to say about it. That line is just 'there was a hashtag', isn't it?

The car is expensive. Part of what you're paying for is the cost of the sing-song by the Thames. But there was a hashtag.


Monday, September 08, 2014

Kpopobit: Kwon Ri-sae

The crash that led to the death of Go Eun-bi has claimed the life of a second member of Ladies' Code. Kwon Ri-sae died on Sunday.

Known professionally as Rise, she had had a career before joining Ladies' Code, both as a participant in the 2009 Miss Korea contest and then on a number of reality shows. Ladies' Code was a change of direction, or at least a difference in emphasis, as she moved into music.

Kwon Ri-sae was 23; she died September 7th following emergency brain surgery.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

Paloma Faith kind-of misses the naked photo point

The myriad of difficult privacy and security issues that fall out from the hacking of the iCloud? Paloma Faith isn't that bothered:

She told The Sun on Sunday: ''I don't feel like I've ever done anything that I'm particularly ashamed of.

''I would rather they didn't see naked pictures of me, but if they did, I can honestly say I've never taken an untasteful one.''
That's a bit like being told that there are burglaries in the area, and shrugging with a "well, at least if they pinch the silver, I've had a chance to polish it first."

Also: why would you even share your thoughts on mobile phone hacking with the the News Of The World? It's like going to Russia to talk about territorial integrity.


This week just gone

Five years ago: The most-read stories from September 2009, in September 2009:

1. Downloadable Los Campesinos tracks
2. RIP: Jake Brockman
3. Lily Allen quits the battle against filesharing
4. The Kings Of Leon want you to be impressed
5. James Blunt rallies behind Lily Allen
6. Wogan announces an end to breakfasts
7. Madonna uses Lourdes to remind people how she used to be
8. RIP: Wycliffe Johnson
9. Phil Collins quits drumming
10. Courtney railing at Kurt's avatar

These were interesting this week:


Esben And The Witch - A New Nature




Blonde Redhead - Barragan


Download Barragan




Peggy Seeger - Everything Changes


Download Everything Changes



Pulled Apart By Horses - Blood


Download Blood



Jennifer Castle - Pink City


Download Pink City


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Linkin Park versus all of Malta

Malta were stood on the pitch, ready to play Slovakia. But first, their anthem.

Except the anthem wasn't played in. Linkin Park blasted through the speakers instead.

Digital Spy reckons less than a second of Linkin Park played before the correct tune was found - in the olden days, that would have been preceded by that 'needle scratching over a record' sound.

To be honest, looking at the Maltese anthem's lyrics:

Guard, Lord, forever, as you´ve done erst and ceasing never,

This land whose name we received, our motherly-named Mother.

Her you have draped with a light whose grace exceeds all other.

On those who govern, sovereign God, bestow understanding,

Grant wellness to those who work, largesse to those employing,

Make firm, make just all our bonds, the peace we are enjoying.
... I kind of wish every time Linkin Park appeared on a speaker they get rapidly preempted by that instead.


How Kate Bush has won music

A handy guide from Ampp3d


Friday, September 05, 2014

Chris Brown: still reeks

To be fair, the full story from the Chris Brown/Billboard interview isn't released until later today, so perhaps it will be less painful than the cover makes it look:

But the 'maybe I was out of control' strapline doesn't give one hope.

Maybe you were out of control, Chris Brown.

Or maybe you're a violent, beat-first asshat who is now trying to salvage some sort of career with a minor concession that perhaps - just maybe you were out of control.

Or maybe you knew exactly what you were doing when you pulped Rihanna's face that time.

Maybe that.


Thursday, September 04, 2014

IPC subeditors no longer dictate our youth; no longer IPC subeditors

IPC is IPC no more. The NME publisher is rebranding as Time Inc UK.

It's unlikely the new brand will ever inspire anything as glorious as this Clinic track, though:


Kpopobit: Go Eun-Bi

Go Eun-bi, member of KPop group Ladies' Code and known professionally as EunB, has died after the band were in a traffic collision.

The band was formed last year and released two albums. They were travelling between gigs when the accident happened; two other members were seriously injured.



Go Eun-bi, a graduate of South Korea's Hanlim Multi Art School, was 22.


See ya, CeeLo

The only disappointing thing about TBS cancelling CeeLo Green's TV show is that they decided to do it because they realised nobody wants to watch CeeLo Green doing a TV show, rather than because of his apparent belief that simply not being awake is a way to consent to sex:

According to screen shots of his Twitter page, Green reportedly wrote, "People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!" He added, " "If someone is passed out they're not even WITH you consciously! so WITH Implies consent."

Another tweet noted: "Let me 1st praise god for exoneration fairness & freedom! Secondly I sincerely apologize for my comments being taken so far out of context."
Yeah. I'm not sure there's any context you could put those comments in which would make them suddenly sound ok. Unless you lived in some sort of society which regularly turned a blind eye to rape.

Yeah, I know. I know.

To be fair, CeeLo did suddenly try again to apologise:
I truly and deeply apologize for the comments attributed to me on Twitter. Those comments were idiotic, untrue and not what I believe.
Although the earlier CeeLo was reportedly furious with this later CeeLo, claiming that later CeeLo's suggestion his comments were idiotic and wrong was taking them out of context. "Later CeeLo just doesn't understand" complained earlier CeeLo. "Why is he treating me so unfairly? Why is he impinging on my freedom to suggest that if someone falls asleep on your sofa they're saying it's okay to rape me? What's wrong with later me? Did I take a panicky call from someone in my management team or something?"

CeeLo, genuinely, is currently working on an album called Girl Power.


Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Gary Barlow would quite like to apologise

It's now three months since Gary Barlow and some of his chums were found to be "avoiding" tax by putting their money into a made-up scheme to allow rich people to shirk their responsibilities.

Gary has finally got around to sort-of-muttering an apology.

After three months. It's true, there are some operations you'd wait longer for on the NHS, but that's partly because rich people like Gary Barlow put their cash into dubious schemes to avoid paying their share of taxes.

Still, three months in the making, so let's hear it, Gary:

Three months. Two tweets. He's been writing his apology at 35 characters a week.

Three months. And what do we get?
I want to apologise to anyone who was offended by the tax stories earlier this year
There's no need, Gary. Genuninely no need to apologise, as nobody was offended by "the tax stories". In fact, we were grateful for the tax stories.

It's your tax affairs you ought to be apologising for, chuckles. The idea of very, very wealthy men investing in a company designed to lose money just so they could keep a few extra pennies out of paying for the police, and roads, and schools - that's what was offensive.

Not that you were found out and some people wrote about it.

And what does "working to settle things with all parties ASAP" even mean? Maybe you're going to write a cheque to the Exchequer - although I suspect if you were, you'd be a bit more explicit about that - but that doesn't "settle things", because it doesn't undo the fact that, when the nation was passing the hat round to pay for things we all share, your first thought was to try and avoid chipping in.

And you can't even bring yourself to say 'sorry' properly.

Leave your OBE on the hall table and sod off back to your mansion, Barlow.


James Blunt does a nice thing

It's not often there's a James Blunt story which everyone can read an enjoy. But here's one.

James Blunt played a festival which gives some of its takings to a local homeless charity, and as a result that charity got twice the size of the donation as the year before.

The charity is Two Saints, who help hundreds of people in the South of England.