As Bryan over at Tyne Dock Green has announced, Brian has now left the building and has set up office across at the Brian Paget blog at wordpress. We're not yet sure if this blog will continue, so please check back from time to time.
It's no surprise to me that Copenhagen was a damp squib. Expecting such, I had hoped that it would fail spectacularly in hissy fit walkouts and bitter recriminations. Instead they patted themselves on the backs and claimed credibility for an agreement which is worth nothing.
I've pretty much avoided the whole Joe thing, despite South Tyneside council being happy playing free and loose with my council tax to encourage the good people of South Tyneside to beef up ITV's bottom line, and line Simon Cowell's pockets. I bet the Taxpayer's Alliance don't touch that one.
Move over Nigel Lawson and Christopher Monckton, there's a new boy in town for the climate change Cult of Denial to pin their hopes on. Introducing Nick Griffin, BNP leader, who will be joining the EU delegation to the climate change talks at Copenhagen. Griffin, who already has form for his denialist tendencies over the holocaust, has hopes of challenging what he considers to be dodgy science in an attempt to suggest to the electorate that his party isn't only about racist bigotry, but that it's also a party of ingnorant anti science Luddites.
South Tyneside is today celebrating being the focus of a grand modern experiment based on Victorian educational values, where those who are considered too thick to work in traditional North East industries like call centres and hairdressers will be given an opportunity to learn valuable career skills like filling out job centre applications.
The modern new South Tyneside Stupido will be based in a state of the art out of date run down school building.
Local councillor Bob Foreskin welcomed the initiative:
"The recession means that traditional cheap immigrant labour is leaving the UK for higher pay in countries like Latvia and Zimbabwe. The Stupido concept means we can plug the market with cheap high quality unskilled kids that no one gives a flying fuck for. And as they're not proper schools, we won't have Ofsted whingeing that the kids can't read."
The new schools, already affectionately known as 'chav academies' will seek to train those children the mainstream system has failed, in useful trades such as basket weaving, chimney sweeping, asbestos reclamation and chemical tank cleaning.
Schools minister Ted Gonads said:
"We need to manage the aspirations of North East children, and children from other downtrodden areas we couldn't give a shit about, to meet the lower expectations we have in order to focus investment in key swing voter areas like the South East. Not everyone can be gifted enough to be on the X Factor, but even X Factor stars need someone to collect their bins."
Local fat cats also backed the idea. A spokesman said:
"We couldn't believe our luck when the government announced the Stupido system. Not only do we get the tax payer to foot the bill for our training, we also get to employ daft kids at cut price rates. It's a win win situation. For us rich folks, that is."
Local Tory candidate Kat Anal commended:
"We are excited that there is a real opportunity be able to alienate another generation of losers from the North East, and welcome Labour's support in bringing back good old Conservative values of profiteering and exploitation of oik kids. Err, and grammar schools. Or something."
The South Tyneside Stupido school will join other Stupidos from around the country in areas the government has decided aren't worth bothering much about except for cheap populist stunts.
I've just spent a very enjoyable evening in a new pub. Bucking the trend of pubs closing, The Rat Race Ale House at Hartlepool railway station has opened with a very clear aim: good beer, good cheer.
I used to work with the pub's landlord Pete Morgan a while back programming old skool IBM RPG, but when he was made redundant from his job as an IT manager he decided to use his redundancy money to provide himself with a future he could enjoy.
A long time and lifetime member of CAMRA, Pete's love of all that is beer has found life in the Rat Race. He runs a free house so he's not tied to anyone or obliged to stock anyone's beers. That means no alcopops, overgassed lagers or insipid identikit beers. Pete is one of those guys for whom the phrase larger than life was invented for, and it comes through in his determination to provide a real pub experience. Many of the ales he stocks and plans to stock are beers he likes and from brewers he knows personally, and he is open to suggestions from customers for future guest ales.
The pub is unique - it doesn't have a bar. You enter and orders are taken at the table and you're introduced to the other customers. Once you have your drinks Pete moves among his customers like a host at a party. This is helped by the fact that the pub is small - it was once the Victorian station's waiting room and holds no more than 20 customers - so the atmosphere is intimate and friendly. The Rat Race is focussed on the beer; there's no jukebox, no bandit or quiz machine. If you do need distraction, there's two boxes of dominoes.
The main show is the beer and it's great. The temperature is perfect - many large real ale pubs and big chains don't get such a simple thing right. I enjoyed a couple of pints of the Kirby Lonsdale Jubilee Stout, about as perfect as a hand pulled stout can get. The Yorkshire Askrigg Ale was very popular and for good reason. The Jarrow Brewery's Rivet Catcher was also on the menu, but as it seems many of the customers were already familiar with Rivet Catcher the unfamiliar ales were getting all the attention. Although the pub's hours are short, the Rat Race also sells the beer in refillable cartons to take away to enjoy at home.
So if you're in Hartlepool, and looking for time to kill before catching the train, join the Rat Race.