Eric Emms MD + [TV]

Tories, Tottenham, Tattoos and TV

We've already had the discussion – well, my excuses – about why this blog sometimes reaches extreme length, so I won't go into it again. Suffice to say that it's fairly long again today. But I did find, in writing the opening piece about Tory sleaze, that sometimes you don't need to say much to convey a point. Readers are generally bright enough to work out a lot for themselves. I will have to bear this in mind in future. It'll save us all a bit of time.

Same Old (S)Tory
Strictly Come Goosestepping
'Arry Spurs on Tottenham
The leopard changes his spots
Police warned of race concerns



Same Old (S)Tory

Some things never change in politics. At this stage of a post I would normally say that the fall-out of the situation involving George Osborne and Russian businessmen has been interesting, but it hasn't, really, because we've seen it all before.

i) Accusations of Tory sleaze

ii) Labour attacking them for said accusations of Tory sleaze, with appropriate response

iii) The Tories swiftly changing the subject (and, in a fitting tribute to the everlasting stasis of British politics, changing it to the matter of bureaucracy and excess in the civil service – Yes Minister lives on)

iv) A question of right-wing media bias (why would The Daily Telegraph print and drag out this complete non-story of Osborne using a budget airline other than to make him look better?)

v) The public calling for the offender's head...

vi)... and only getting a piece of it

Stop me if you've heard this one before.



Strictly Come Goosestepping

The BBC has been 'rocked' by complaints from, uh, people on its messageboard saying that Strictly Come Dancing's public vote is racist.

It's PC gone mad, I tell ye!*

The BBC claims it has not received any formal complaints about the programme, but the Olympic sprinter (and part-time spokesman for the black community, it would seem) John Regis has spoken out after Heather Small, singer in M People, and Don Warrington, star of Rising Damp and a personal hero of mine, came bottom in the vote, and Warrington was voted off the programme. "It is not like sport, when it's down to performance," said Regis. "Other factors come into play. Strictly is a middle-class kind of show and that possibly could be the area where racism still festers. I feel sorry for Don" (but not Heather Small, apparently – maybe she just really can't dance).

I personally have the impression that Don Warrington would be an excellent ballroom dancer, if only because he has that aristocratic air about him in his acting. Say what you like about actors – they do have natural rhythm.

Whether most of the kind of people who vote on Strictly Come Dancing are racist is a matter known only to God and themselves (and, worryingly, usually not even themselves). One thing is for sure, though: the claim made by John Regis and others is possibly the hardest thing in the world to prove. People's motives aren't questioned on phone-in votes, and if they were I don't think it would help. It's hard enough to get right-wing Texan hillbillies to admit they hate Barack Obama because he's black; try getting an admission of racism from middle-class coffin-dodgers with a paranoid sense of victimhood.

Also, there are no analytical means of measuring this wrongful dismissal, such as it is. Supposedly the show's judges decided Warrington and Small's separate performances were better than those of the three white celebrities competing against them, but is that really enough to accuse the public of racism? Colin Jackson was runner-up a few years ago, and last year's winner Alesha Dixon is mixed-race. This vote could just be a coincidence, or a crap idea of what constitutes good dancing. Who knows? And given that it's Strictly Come Dancing, who even cares?

Actually, I care. Racism is bad. But good luck proving this is an example of it.

*Please, please realise I'm joking. I would never use this phrase with any kind of sincerity.



'Arry Spurs on Tottenham

So, Juande Ramos is gone – and Gus Poyet, and Marcos Alvarez, and Damien Comolli – and Harry Redknapp is in charge of Tottenham Hotspur FC. It's perhaps a bit late for his wheeler-dealer antics to be of much help now, at least until the transfer window reopens, but Spurs will be desperate for anything at the moment, and in 'Arry, they've not gone far wrong.

His appointment's worked already, with Spurs claiming a 2-0 victory over Bolton – their first win of the season, and one that brings the team more points than they

got from the past eight games. Admittedly this wasn't really anything directly to do with Redknapp, since the team was picked by development squad coach Clive Allen, but the catalyst was there for a team knowing now that there's a future. That goes for the fans, too: Redknapp received a fantastic reception.

Tottenham's decline has been nothing short of incredible. Just look at the change in forwards. It takes some effort to move in a couple of years from a choice of Berbatov, Defoe, Robbie Keane and an on-form Mido to having a tired and unsettled Pavlyuchenko, 21-year-old Fraizer Campbell on loan from Manchester United as compensation for the Berbatov transfer (appalling business sense from Spurs) and, well, Darren Bent. It's been tragedy for the fans; comedy for everyone else.

Even so, though, I wasn't sure about The Guardian's coverage of the club's decline – printing an entire page of jokes at Spurs' expense. One or two in a box, maybe, or even a mini-feature in a side bar, but a whole page on Page 3 of the Sport section dedicated to jokes? A tad lazy in my view.

The Redknapp era should bring prosperity for Tottenham, but the task for now is clearly to avoid relegation. I think it will happen, and with a degree of ease (I predict 15th). But I am left wondering why he took the job on. He has said it's an opportunity to manage a big club before retirement, but Portsmouth are a big club – thanks to him. He's taken Pompey from the old Division 1 to being regular candidates for the top 6 and FA Cup winners. Why go to Spurs?

I guess he needs a new challenge. He's definitely found one.



The leopard changes his spots

People are often surprised by my opposition towards tattoos – not towards people having them, but the idea of having one myself. I don't know why they're surprised: maybe with my long hair and beard, I look like the kind of guy who should have questionable life codes inked into his arm. But I don't, and, like many, I simply do not understand what would bring someone to do this to him- or herself. What is wrong with these people?

Anyway, bottom on that list is the Leopard Man of Skye, previously the most tattooed man in the world, and he's moving house. No big story there, you might feel, but this is a man who hasn't really lived in a house for quite some time. He has spent the last 20 years living in a makeshift cabin with plastic sheeting for a roof, no electricity or furniture and requiring a three-mile canoe trip for his shopping. But at the age of 73, he has decided he is "getting too old for that kind of life" and has moved into a one-bed house.

Clearly he's not THAT much of a nutter then. But it is interesting that he has managed to afford this house. He must have had money stashed away during his days of being a hermit

A solution to surviving the recession, perhaps?



Police warned of race concerns

... and the Award for the Most Misleading Headline of the Week, which I should really make a regular feature, goes to the BBC. When I read the above headline, and found it was one of the most popular stories on the news site, I was expecting it to have more to do with accusations of racism levelled against Ian Blair or whoever his successor is.

But no, it's about the Original Mountain Marathon in the Lake District, which saw hundreds of people stranded by flooding and torrential rain. Which is a completely different story. Never mind.

(If you're wondering, the best misleading headline ever was in The Metro just last month. When Helen Mirren admitted to having done drugs in the past, the London paper led with THE QUEEN: I DID COCAINE. Now, that's just not true, is it? Attention-grabbing, though, I must admit.)