The Questions are as follows:
Political Blog: By Affiliation
Q1: Best blog by a politician (MP, MSP, AM, Cllr, etc.)
Q2: Best Labour Party supporting blog
Q3: Best Conservative Party supporting blog
Q4: Best Liberal Democrat Party supporting blog
Q5: Best minor party blog (UKIP, nationalists, Green, BNP, etc.)
Political Blog: By Alignment
Q1: Best right-wing blog
Q2: Best left-wing blog
Q3: Best centre-ground blog
Political Blog: By Location
Q1: Best English political blog
Q2: Best Scottish political blog
Q3: Best Irish political blog
Q4: Best Northern Irish political blog
Q5: Best Welsh political blog
Q6: Best Foreign political blog (by foreigner outside the British Isles)
Q7: Best Ex-pat political blog (by Brit outside the UK or non-Brit resident in the British Isles)
Q8: Best Local political blog for local people (city / town / provincial)
Political Blog: By Main Stream Media, Organisation or Campaign
Q1: Best Political Blog run from a main stream media website (TV, Radio, Magazine, Newspaper etc.)
Q2: Best blog by a professional journalist
Q3: Best Campaigning Blog
Q4: Best Blog by non-media organisation
Political Blog: By Subject Matter
Q1: Best Election coverage / Polling Blog
Q2: Best Westminster Village Gossip
Q3: Best Holyrood Gossip
Q4: Best Cardiff Bay Gossip
Q5: Best Northern Ireland coverage / Stormont Gossip
Q6: Best Economics Blog
Q7: Best Blog Dealing with Religious Matters
Q8: Best Human Rights / Civil Liberties Blog
Q9: Best Foreign Affairs (including Iraq and Afghan wars)
Q10: Best Constitutional Reform Blog
Q11: Best Environmental / Green Issues Blog
Q12: Best Law and Order Blog
Q13: Best Libertarian Blog
Q14: Best anti-EU blog
Q15: Best pro-EU blog
Q16: Best Political Satire
Q17: Best coverage and analysis of politics and current affairs
Q18: Best English nationalist blog
Q19: Best Scottish nationalist blog
Q20: Best Irish nationalist blog
Q21: Best Welsh nationalist blog
Q22: Best British nationalist blog
Political Blog: Miscellaneous
Q1: Best discussion / Community (which blog generates the best comment threads)
Q2: Best multiple author / group blog
Q3: Blogger most likely to vote for a donkey if you slapped the correct colour rosette on it
Q3: Most vindictive political blogger
Q4: Blogger most deserving of a book deal
Q5: Best Blog design
Q6: Best new blog (a new addition to the blogosphere in 2008)
Q7: Blogger you would most like to share a pint with
Q8: Blogger you would most like to shag
Q9: Blogger with the best sense of humour
Q10: Blogger most desperate to win blogging awards
Q11: Blogger that you never agree with
Q12: Most dyslexic blogger
Q13: Blogger most likely to be suffering from Tourette's syndrome
Q14: Blogger most likely to have bi-polar disorder
Q15: Shouldn't be allowed to own a computer, let alone have a blog
Q16: Most missed (retirement from the world of blogging)
Political Blog: Overall
Q1: The British Isles' best political blog
Q2: The British Isles' most influential political blog
Political Blog: Witanagemot Club
Q1: How often do you read The Witanagemot Club?
Q2: Which is your favourite Witanagemot Club blog?
Cast your vote here by simply typing in the blog of your choice for each category (those fazed by the number of categories should note that the vast majority of questions are not compulsory).
The village of Muff in the Republic of Ireland is included in an article entitled Britain's rudest places:
Muff – from the Irish word "magh" – is a village in County Donegal, on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Over the last decade, Muff has seen a huge growth in population, with people from Northern Ireland moving across the border. The first week in August sees the Muff Festival – and there's a diving club in the village called, yes, the Muff Diving Club.
Also see Shitterton.
|As mentioned previously this lamp-post blew over.|
|Five days later a man with a van turned up and did this. Good use of tax-payers' money.|
A few years ago I was driving through the Salisbury Plains when I passed by an army base. Outside, patrolling in front of the gatehouse traffic barrier, was a soldier dressed top-to-toe in camouflage gear, with an automatic weapon slung menacingly around his neck. Over the top of his camouflage gear he was wearing a yellow hi-viz fluorescent reflective tabard. It was noon on a hot summers' day.
Mrs Toque and I spent Christmas 2004 in Ghana. As I remember we got hammered in a bar with some bemused locals who were wearing England tops, and then we wandered through the muddy streets trying to find something to eat. After much looking we settled on a joint that served fried chicken and rice for Mrs T, and for me talapia flavoured with shito accompanied by a lump of fufu. I'll be honest, it wasn't the greatest Christmas dinner but by Ghanaian standards it was terrific. A short while ago I came across this article on Ghanaian cuisine by A.A.Gill in the Times:
I have at last found a nation that eats cats for pleasure. Stand up, Ghana, and take a miaow. Innocently, a chap I was travelling with in the bush mentioned that he had to get home. “We’re having cat tonight,” he said. “Mmm-mmm.” Cat? Real cat? Moulty, lap-needling, stink-spraying, baby-scratching pretty kitty? “The same,” he said. Is this just you and your wife, or do others eat it, I inquired, trying to keep the excitement out of my voice. “Oh, everyone eats cats – they’re delicious, a great delicacy. We have restaurants that serve cats.” Do you keep them as pets as well? “Yes, of course. We love cats. The children play with them, then we eat them.”
And how do you prepare them? “Have you ever tried to kill a cat?” Sadly, not yet. “It’s very difficult. You can’t just strangle them or cut their throats. They’re all claws and teeth. They hide under the sofa. You can never say you’re going to eat a cat out loud.” Because the cat might run off? “Exactly. And when he goes, he takes the soul of one of your family with him.” Well, I never. “So we put him in a sack and drown him, or bash him against the wall. Then we burn off all his fur with a blowtorch.” You don’t skin them? “No, no, no. The skin is the best bit.”
It reminded me of a recipe that Mrs Toque emailed me when she was living in Accra:
Ghanaian Special Stew
1 cup of chopped oinions
Salt and hot peppers
Knotted cat intestines
To prepare: Kill cat by placing it in a sack ("otherwise it can scratch your eyes out") and beat it for hours or minutes. Alternatively you can drown it in the sack. Pull out its intestines and clean them thoroughly. Tie the intestines into knots and cut between each knot to make bite sized morsels. Combine ingredients and simmer into a stew.
Recipe courtesy of Teteh, our driver.
Just remember this when you are complaining about turkey and chips or turkey curry over the next week.
No prizes for guessing which two Mrs Toque and I are.
I never did get to try any cat - I was never offered any - though I did eat a lot of goat at the dinner party pictured, and delicious it was too, burning hot with spices but delicious.
What has 200 legs and no pubic hair?, went the old joke.
On hearing that the Spice Girls comeback concert has sold out in 38 seconds (faster than it takes Posh to hack up a hair ball) I move that the joke should to be revised to What has 200 legs and shit for brains?
It's bad enough having Take Shat back in the charts, please spare us from a second exposure to Girl Power.
With raised eyebrows Lewes pub regulars ask you "Have you seen the Lewes dancing man?".
With knowing smiles they then tell you "Oh, you will" and "You'll know him when you see him"
For ages we didn't see him, and we didn't know what on earth these people were talking about. Then one day we saw him dancing in a pub. It was unmistakably him.
Lewes Dancing Man dances anywhere, sometimes completely inappropriately, and because of this he has built up quite a fanclub. Here he is in Lewes dancing to a busker:
Sir Andrew Ian of Dodge - Libertarian, Anglospherist, Witanagemoter and bad boy of rock - is on 18Doughty Street tonight (11pm).
He's the first member of the Witanagemot Club to appear on 18Doughty Street (apart from Iain Dale himself).
All the Witanagemoters back at base camp, bivouacked in our freezing virtual reality encampment, are envious of Andrew's new found life of prestige, glamour and celebrity, but we wish him well nevertheless because we know it won't change him.
Unfortunately Andrew's appearance does clash with Made in America (starring Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson) on BBC1. Tough call.
I've been up to my eyeballs in spam recently. This new 3.33 version of Movable Type is great for moderation but not so good on verification (still entirely reliant on Typekey which, for most, is one inconvenience too many).
I tried out Scode which seemed to work fine unless an error was encountered and then it returned the incorrect error message - as spotted by Paul Linford of Belper (nice title should he ever become a Peer of the Realm).
So now I have switched to Jay Allen's Comment Challenge which requires you to type a word to verify that you are indeed a real human. Unfortunately, try as I might, I cannot get this to work with my preview comment form so I have now disabled that function - you cannot preview your comment anymore, so you must get it right first time.
The pressure is on.
Over at the Witanagemot Club there is a poll - Who is the Greatest Englander?
My choice would be Charles Darwin for his Theory of Natural Selection and Origin of the Species, both of which came about following his fantastic adventures onboard the Beagle. Today it is hard to understand just how contentious Darwin's work was, but as a religious man Darwin had to overcome a huge crisis of conscience: a conflict between his faith and science. Even to this day the conflict goes on with Creationists attempting to level the intellectual field by describing evolutionary biology as 'Darwinism' and by doing so implying that it is simply an alternative philosophy rather than established fact, or at least an established scientific principle and discipline.
Other scientists can be credited with a contribution to the sum of the parts (including Englishman Robert Hooke and his observations on fossils, and Darwin's contemporary Welshman Alfred Russel Wallace, who published his own theory of natural selection) but what makes Darwin great is the quality and depth of his work, the crisis of faith that he overcame to publish, and the fact that he almost - we are still working on that - destroyed a central pillar of Rome's teachings.
According to Terry Eagleton of Manchester University Charles Darwin can take his place alongside Pope John Paul II as one of the biggest disasters to befall the Catholic Church:
It was the grotesque irony by which the Vatican condemned - as a "culture of death" - condoms, which might have saved countless Catholics in the developing world from an agonising Aids death. The Pope goes to his eternal reward with those deaths on his hands. He was one of the greatest disasters for the Christian church since Charles Darwin.
It may not be the epitaph that Darwin would have wanted but it is testament to his greatness.
My second choice would be Guy Fawkes, the Guy that failed to blow up the English parliament and who we English now ritually burn effigies of every Bonfire Night on 5th November.
It's worth recalling that Mr Fawkes' motives were not only religious but patriotic too. As background, James I of England and VI of Scotland had promised English Catholic emissaries that if he succeeded Elizabeth I he would ex-tend religious tolerance to the beleaguered Catholics. Instead, once on the English throne he increased persecution to new heights - sowing the seeds of the Gunpowder Plot. Not only that but he imported with him a gaggle of Scottish 'nobility' who, in shades reminiscent of our own time, proceeded to rule England for their own and Scotland's benefit. This provides the context to explain why, when Fawkes was brought before the gloating King James who demanded to know the reason for the Plot, instead of begging for his life Guy boldly replied: 'I wished to blow you and all you Scottish beggars back to your mountains'. Hence: Guy Fawkes, English patriot and martyr. - John Whitbourn.
Back in those days, can you believe, England was ruled by a tyrannical Scotsman that surrounded himself with a cabal of Scots. Guy Fawkes should be considered a patriot - albeit a misguided one - and instead of trying to ban fireworks or impose restrictive regulations on them the Government should make more of 'Guy Fawkes' night, one of the few intrinsically English celebrations that we have left.
In 2004 the UK Government, responding to NIMBY complaints, imposed restrictions on the use of fireworks, with some curfew exceptions:
The curfew will be extended until 1am for some traditional and cultural events, including Diwali Night, the Chinese New Year and New Year's Eve. It will begin at midnight on 5 November.
For some reason the English Bonfire Night festival was given a shorter extension that the Chinese and Hindu festivals.
Bonfire Night is a peculiarly English tradition and I suppose we should be grateful that the UK Government recognise it as such even if they don't see it as important as Chinese and Indian celebrations. But was Guy himself actually great, or simply a great failure and terrorist? We'll probably never reach a definitive answer to that. But his legacy and the myth that surrounds him is great, and, as oft remarked, he was one of the few to ever enter Parliament with honourable intentions. What is certain is that his capture, and subsequent torture and execution, was a great PR exercise for the Scottish King, and probably went some way towards the future cementing of Britain as a political union. Fawkes and his co-conspirators believed that the people of England would welcome the overthrow of the unpopular Scottish king. And they probably would have done, as would Parliament itself which was continuously in conflict with the King, but the English did not take kindly to an attack on English institutions (Parliament and Monarchy) so the plot was probably doomed to failure even if it had succeeded.
William Shakespeare and William Tyndale can certainly claim more credit for enhancing the English language and coining various phrases, but it is from Guy Fawkes' name that we get the word 'guy'. So when Tony Blair says that he is 'a regular kinda guy'....it could be taken to mean that he is a Catholic; a terrorist, and; one who despises Parliament and the Monarch, all of which, to some extent, to some people, he is.
Whatever you do don't take an effigy of Guy to the bonfire night celebrations at St Peter's School in York because the school refuses to burn the effigy of its former pupil (I wonder whether Fettes would take the same stance?) It wasn't always the case that poor Guido was the one that got burnt. In previous times it was traditional to burn an effigy of the Pope on English bonfires [Bone fires] - as they still do in Lewes - but that practice was largely put a stop to in more politically correct times (recent celebrations have seen effigies of Osama bin Laden, George W Bush, Gypsies and John Prescott burnt in celebration/protest). My advice to you is to burn an effigy of Tony Blair this year.
You can vote for Bonfire Night at the Icons of England website.