6 Months, 20 Days – still sober.
Yesterday was good. In the early afternoon, Noo and I drove into Pattaya to do a few things. First stop was the excellent Indian Tailor in Naklua where I went to get kitted out for my forthcoming daughter’s wedding. How do I know he is excellent? Well a few months back, I took my friend Bob there to be fitted up for new suits and work shirts and the guy did a very impressive job.
Not wishing to denigrate Bob’s appearance, he does carry a pretty big pot belly on his ageing body – the very worst kind of shape to look good in anything – let alone a shirt or suit – but this tailor worked his magic and Bob looked the ‘bees knees’. He had at least three fittings and great care was taken at every stage of the process.
So before setting out, I checked my closet to see if any of my clothes, (especially my jeans and long sleeved shirts), still fitted me as I hadn’t worn any for several months, during which time I have put on a lot of weight.
I wasn’t really surprised to find that I couldn’t get into a single one of my shirts and there were just a couple of pairs of jeans in which, after a huge struggle, I could just about fasten the top button. But I looked ridiculous, with my waist scrunched in tightly and my revolting, tub of lard belly, flopping down over it.
So as I feared, I need a completely new wardrobe of clothes for my trip to the UK next month. I made an initial order for a suit, a waistcoat, 7 long sleeved shirts and a pair of jeans, all for the princely sum of 14,300 Baht. We’ll see how it goes, but I have a lot of faith in this guy, he actually travels to Europe every year to get updated on the latest fashion trends and seems to get a lot of business from the German tourist community who are in and out of his shop all day long.
Next stop was my wonderful little Thai doctor that I use sometimes in Jomtien. This time it was for Noo, who has an alarming habit of nearly fainting, and also seems to suffer from low blood pressure and a very high pulse rate. She was in with the doc for quite a while and has to go back on Thursday to get the results of a blood test.
I have been using this doctor for a variety of complaints for years and I have a lot of faith in him. He used to practice in England and speaks wonderful English. Unlike most Thai doctors, he tells you the way it is, no bullshit, and doesn’t dump a whole load of meds on you in the hope that something might work.
Thence to Tuk Com where I still failed to find a ‘mobile’ power supply/ charger for my Samsung Tablet. They have them for I Phones and HTC’s but not for Galaxies. One of the annoying things about Thailand is that they can often sell you the latest products but fall down when it comes to spares and accessories.
I remember a few years back when I bought an upmarket compact Canon camera and wanted to buy a wide angle lens, which Canon had stated in the handbook was an optional accessory for this model. Yet nobody in Thailand stocked it and I had to wait until I took a trip to Australia, where just about every camera shop had the sought after item, plus a lot more stuff which I couldn’t find in Thailand. I guess one of these days Thailand will get its act together.
Our final stop was my favourite pub for a very late lunch before heading back home to my waiting, faithful, three pooches.
It was a very pleasant afternoon and I am redoubling my efforts to stay away from the naughty bars and spend more time with Noo.
Presenting: Rupert Bear, Jimmy the Waffle and the Ginger Wooden top; with special guest appearances of Peter, ‘Marble-Pie’ Pan and Wendi the avenging ninja.
Back home, I had a grand stand television seat to watch the UK parliament committees continue their investigations into the phone hacking scandal. First up, at the Home Affairs committee room, by way of an opening appetiser, were the two top London cops who had recently resigned. I think that both acquitted themselves pretty well and if they are to be believed, it seems that they have done little wrong to justify the opprobrium that has been heaped upon them.
It just seems to me that it was a catalogue of relatively ‘innocent’ mistakes and unfortunate coincidences that let this investigation flounder for so long. It is easy to be wise after the events, and both cops admitted over and over again that if they had their time over, knowing what they do now that the fiasco would never have occurred.
At least those in charge realised that even though they were innocent of any serious wrong doings, responsibility for these far reaching mistakes must be taken and they did the right thing by resigning their positions. What more can you ask of them?
Next we had the all-star double act of Murdoch and son, two people who I doubt will ever resign under their own steam. I watched the entire session in fascination. There have been many reports to the effect that Murdoch senior was a bit befuddled, clearly showing his age but his son, James was all business and professionalism.
I wonder if I was watching the same show. Sure, you can’t expect and eighty year old to be particularly snappy and articulate in his answers, but in this writer’s opinion, he acquitted himself pretty well. He answered all the questions put him succinctly, after sometimes considering his responses very carefully for a few seconds, and who could blame him for that. He also openly admitted his lack of detailed knowledge on a number of key issues.
By contrast, his son was all waffle and bullshit. He too could not answer a number of factual questions, of which he, as CEO should have known the answers to. To questions simply requiring a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, he rambled and stuttered on interminably, and frequently failed to give any meaningful response at all. To the question as to whether he was aware if any of the 9/11 victims or victim’s families had had their phones hacked, he went off on a long dissertation about how terrible the attack was and where he was at the time and what he was doing. If this was an attempt to deflect the thrust of the question, he certainly didn’t fool me, even if he seems to have bewitched the entire media reporting community.
He also showed a great deal of ignorance about whether or not News International was or wasn’t paying the legal fees of two criminal ex-employees /consultants, yet the ‘ginger bombshell’ was able to answer these same questions later without batting an eye lid. It was no use denying it as the truth would eventually come out.
News International was indeed continuing to pay these criminals! On many matters, like the aforementioned, he either claimed very little knowledge of the specifics of his job, (indeed, on a number of occasions he had to undertake to ‘get back to the committee’), or he was simply unwilling to answer.
The worst part of his evidence concerned the Gordon Taylor phone hacking affair. He claimed that the ‘out of court settlement’ of 700,000 pounds was justified as his legal advice was that Taylor could expect a compensation award of 250k, (this, despite the fact that a maximum breach-of-privacy court award of only £60,000 was once given against the News of the World) and that the predicted 250k, plus costs would amount to 700K. So they decided to settle, rather than got to court.
But there is an important point here which seems to have been totally missed by the commentators. You don’t settle for the maximum possible award, plus court costs; you settle for something less than the maximum. If you pay the maximum expected amount, you might as well go to court and take your chances – you might win.
The real truth of the matter is that they didn’t want to go to court at any price as they were concerned at what may come out. The settlement was subject to a confidentiality clause, but James insisted that this was normal and there was nothing really to hide. Yet other settlements had been made by News International without any so-called ‘normal’ confidentiality clauses, and when asked at the end of the hearing whether in view of this, would he agree to wave the confidentiality in the Taylor case? He steadfastly declined. This whole business stinks to high heaven and I doubt if he will succeed in keeping the lid on it.
The media reports today all mention that James tried to come to his father’s aid when Rupert was unable to answer some questions put to him. These related to questions of fact which clearly Rupert was unaware of. However, again what seems to have been missed by these reporters is that Rupert actually came to the aid of his son on a number of occasions. This happened when James was floundering and waffling, as he did frequently, and was unable to provide a succinct, credible response or explanation, so Rupert stepped in and answered for him.
I have just listened to two different reporters on BBC radio. The first stated that James sounded genuinely sorry and contrite about what happened and his father didn’t, the second reporter, on a different programme, said exactly the opposite – that Rupert was the genuinely remorseful one.
And now, more nonsense from reporters about how nothing new has come out at the hearing, and how well James conducted himself, followed, at long last, by one observer, who is representing victims of hacking, who has just pointed out exactly what I have written above, concerning the attempted cover up in the Gordon Taylor case, and the fact that two convicted criminals are still on the payroll.
So I’m not completely crazy after all….
I’ve never been keen on Rebekah Brooks with her bizarre hair and ridiculous name spelling. Can you imagine a male executive sporting an unconventional hairstyle and being promoted to the very top of a publicly listed company? He wouldn’t even get into the recruitment room. Yet, because she is a woman, she is allowed to strut the stage with the most outlandish hairdo since Sinead O’Connor.
So she had a lot to do to bring this reviewer around, but I have to say I was very impressed with her performance in front of the committee, who were all clearly gunning for her.
Considering that she had been pilloried in the press for weeks, had finally resigned her position at news International, and had even just been released on bail by the police following her earlier arrest, she conducted herself extremely well. She was eloquent, suitably contrite, and answered all questions put to her in a professional and satisfactory manner. She didn’t overdo the contrition, like James had done to the point where you wanted to puke, and she behaved in a slightly cowed but still proud manner than could only command respect.
In my opinion, I would say that the two cops, Rupert Murdoch and Ms. Brooks all behaved in a professional manner and acquitted themselves as well as could be expected in the circumstances, but if I hear James Murdoch blabber any more in that excruciating, mid-Atlantic accent, with the slight Aussie twinge, (all his sentences end up as rhetorical questions when he raises the inflection tone – must have been watching too much neighbours), I swear to God I will commit bloody murder!
While I concede that James Murdoch’s intentionally prevaricating style probably helped to deflect some of the most difficult questions, I can’t see how this will help him in the long run and I’m sure the committee was not fooled by his infuriating bluster.
I’m sure that Johnny Marbles with his lovely foam pie must have intended it for James and if not, why not?
Incidentally, what a fucking, embarrassing fiasco! If that’s the best our cops can do to protect the Mother of Parliaments and their high profile guests, with the world looking on, then God help us if the terrorists ever start to get their rag head acts together.
In conclusion, I believe that most media commentators have taken these hearings on a superficial, gut- feel basis, and have simply not paid careful attention to what was taking place. But I don’t believe the commons committee will be adopting the same attitude and they will be going through all the replies with a fine tooth comb, at least I hope that they are.
There is much in this scandal that is still to be adequately explained, and I think it has a long way to go yet before it disappears from the headlines. In this writer’s opinion, the two cops were being pretty honest and Rupert Murdoch was probably telling the truth when he said that he wasn’t aware of all this hacking business at the time, although my guess is that he became aware of it much earlier than he is prepared to admit to. But I am quite sure that James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks are lying through their teeth, as they are bound to do, to protect their careers and indeed themselves from potential jail sentences.
It is highly likely that the three of them and their PR guru carefully planned, over several sleepless nights, exactly how they would handle the key questions and what the extent of their lies would be, so that they never contradicted each other.
We will probably never know for sure, unless Wendy Deng catches her Rupy-pie ‘in flagrante delicto’ with another woman, in which case hell hath no fury than an Asian woman scorned, as we have all seen already….
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot or a holler!