15 July 2012

This week we have been mainly having . . . Oh, I used that already.

It may surprise you to know that we had a very pleasant day on Friday, in contrast to the continuing gloom and deluges we have enjoyed throughout the rest of the week. But on Friday, in the early evening particularly, it was very pleasant – the skies were relatively clear, the sun shone and Ms Playchute and I even ventured out and sat on the patio drinking some very pleasant wine from the Languedoc. Opportunities to sit out have been decidedly limited this summer and we had almost forgotten what a pleasant way to round off a busy week sitting out in the sunshine with a bottle of wine can be. Don’t worry – Saturday it rained for much of the day.

I had good fun on Friday with the second annual Bicester Children’s Film Festival, a project I’ve been involved with promoting the use of film-making in the curriculum. For the past couple of months primary school children in and around Bicester have been busy producing films, either a drama or a documentary, on a topic of their choosing. They do the whole thing themselves – they write the script, act the parts, direct and edit the films. The Festival has different categories based on age and the kids who take part are as young as four and five years old up to ten and eleven years old. They submit their films and we send them off to Film Club, a national organisation promoting the use of film in education, and the British Film Institute who do the judging for us.

Bicester Film Festival

Then, on Friday, we had our “Gala Award Ceremony”, an Oscar-style celebration at one of the secondary schools in the town. The kids (and the staff) dress up in their Oscar gowns, tuxedos and dinner jackets – some of the five and six year olds were wearing tiaras – and we spend a morning having a look at excerpts from all the films and then award the prizes to the winners. Everyone has a great time and the films, while they’re perhaps not quite up to real Oscar standards, are a lot of fun.

This year the media were alerted and we had the paparazzi arrive to take photos of some of the “stars” from the winning films and I was interviewed on BBC Radio Oxford just before the whole thing kicked off. The clip below starts with a brief explanation of St Swithun’s Day (which is today) and then, about a minute in, comes my bit. Listen if you dare.

[audio http://befouledweaklynews.co.uk///wp-content/uploads/2012/07/film_festival_interview_13_july_2012.mp3]

The overall winning film was one produced by some six and seven year olds. They wrote the script, did all the filming and editing themselves and, it goes without saying, the acting is sensational. I have to confess, it wasn’t my favourite but that’s why we get some neutral “experts” to do the judging for us.


I ran across a great idea in an article in the Guardian the other day. David Mitchell, an actor, writer and comedian, wrote about what seems to me to be a great idea to eliminate the country’s deficit. Extrapolating from the selling of the Olympics to corporate sponsors (i.e., did you know that Visa has paid a fortune to ensure that it is the only credit card which can be used on the Olympic site – I didn’t), he suggests (somewhat tongue in cheek) that the economy could be saved by selling off other “assets” such as parts of the London underground and other parts of the UK infrastructure. He even quotes existing examples – the Emirates Air Line, a £36 million sponsorship of a cable car between a car park in North Greenwich and a brownfield site at Royal Victoria Dock, and that’s only for ten years. Think how much you could raise simply by selling off the naming rights for well-known London attractions and infrastructure. It’s a great idea.

By the way, what’s the difference between paying someone a considerable sum of money to persuade them to buy your product in preference to your competitor’s (a bribe) and paying an organisation a considerable sum of money to persuade them to use your product in preference to a competitor’s (sponsorship)?

Further to my mini-rant last week about the education secretary, Michael Gove, burying a report about the success of the Building Schools for the Future programme compared with his pet scheme of “Free” schools, an article in the Guardian highlights the extent to which the Free schools are being allowed to open in areas where they are neither needed nor wanted. All the money that is being wasted on their development comes straight out of the pockets of the state schools which are already underfunded. Party politics and ideology instead of common sense. You couldn’t make it up!

And finally, it’s less than two weeks to the start of the Olympics and the government has just woken up to the fact that the privatised firm they’ve contracted to do all the security isn’t quite up to the job. At this eleventh hour they’re having to draft in members of the armed forces (those who haven’t been axed in the latest round of cuts) and begging retired police officers to do basic security (including such essential things as searching through people’s handbags and backpacks) at the Olympic venues. How long have we been gearing up for the Games? Lurching from one moment of incompetence to the next – you still couldn’t make it up.

Different HardwareAnd finally, finally, a friend sent this cartoon along. I’m sure you can work out your own translation.

Love to you all,



One thought on “15 July 2012”

  1. Dear Greg and Penny,
    Pretty soon they are going to pleep the word on British TV as offensive- that R word which refers to,— oh, one can’t even refer to it. Let’s just say the” lack of sun”.
    The video of the kids looked cute, but my iPad couldn’t pick up the audio, so I didn’t quite get the jist of it. The kids are full of shy pride for their video, though.
    The oversight by the Olympic Committee, of having its contracted Security Agency not being able to come up with enough security people hit the BBC World News as well as the US news media. Ah, the wonders of the competent private sector!
    Love your humor! Bunny W.

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