World of Chig   

Stupid, stupid public.

You've evicted colourful Kemal over whiney Orlaith. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?! I must say though that Beckster Senior predicted last night that this might happen, and we know why. It's because most people can't spell Orlaith, so all the text votes to evict her haven't counted. There can be no other explanation, surely? Still, at least he gets to sort things out with his parents (who seem lovely) and apologise to ESC Today for not turning up for Eurovision week in Kyiv.

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The Birmingham tornado - more pictures of the T4's damage

This is Pickwick Park in Balsall Heath, on the road where I live, about 100m from my house. It's unbelievable how such destruction could come so close, and all my house has is a few loose roof tiles. I am very lucky.

I realised just what a big story this was, as I took these pictures of the trees and then saw Carl Dinnen from Channel 4 News walking through the park with some locals. The evening before, he had also been in the same place as me, reporting on C4 from the arrest of the bomber in Hay Mills. He is following me around! (Not that I mind.)

Above: Pickwick Park again. There's a house under there somewhere. When I took this last night, two lads were chopping up this tree with axes and saws. The back of this house was completely exposed to the street, as their whole fence had collapsed.

Above: Ladypool Road, Balsall Heath.
The above three pictures were very kindly taken for me by a police officer, as the normally busy Ladypool Road, the heart of Birmingham's 'Balti Belt', was cordoned off last night. It wasn't possible to see these cars from any area where the public was allowed to go. The police told me there was a risk of collapsing buildings and of gas leaks. This cordon was at the end of my road, and it was only when I saw this and the fallen trees that I began to appreciate the magnitude of what had happened and how lucky I had been. It's a miracle that no lives were lost, but many livelihoods have been ruined. Some of the buildings on this road may have to be pulled down, including a pub and a block of flats, according to the police.

I had set out on my bike with a mission. One of my best friends, who lives in King's Heath, had rung me from the South coast, where he is staying with his parents, and asked me to go and check that his house was still okay. As Midlands Today had been broadcasting from the Iceland supermarket, two roads away from his house, which had lost the whoole frontage of the shop, we were seriously concerned. First I had to work out a way to get through to King's Heath, as the road closures were blocking my direct route. So I cycled up the Alcester Road/Moseley Road, which was very strange. Everything was completely normal, and there was no sign of any tornado whatsoever, not even any twigs in the road, and yet this was only one street away from Ladypool Road...

Above: Rooftops in Moseley with tiles missing.

Above: This beautiful house on the corner of Forest Road in Moseley has some decorative tiles, which are going to be really difficult to replace.

Above: Further along Forest Road, the residents of this house had to knock down the chimney stack, as it had become unsafe, as well as chop up the tree which was blocking their driveway. Notice the man coming out of the skylight in the roof. There are hardly any tiles remaining on the single-storey building on the left.

This one's for Beckster Senior, who was living the ground floor flat of this house until last year. The chimney stack has fallen here, and half the roof tiles have gone. The roof of the house on the left has collapsed inwards - see below.

From Moseley, I cycled up Billesley Lane, towards King's Heath. It became obvious that you could very easily trace the path of the tornado, because, although the damage in its path was enormous, you could go around a corner and find no sign of it at all. Billesley Lane had a few branches and twigs lying around, but nothing much more, apart from this one tree (below), which had already been chopped up, as it must have been leaning dangerously over the road. It brought down a telephone line too. In Moseley, you could hear the hum of chainsaws everywhere in the tornado's path. I never knew Brum had so many tree surgeons, but they were all over the place. The irony here is that I have a tree in my front garden which needs to come down, because its roots are undermining my house. Oh well.

My friend Gregster's house was perfectly okay. In fact, there were rubbish bags out for collection and boxes of paper for recycling which had clearly not felt the slightest breeze, or they would have been all over the road. No leaves on the ground either, and yet, only two streets away in Institute Road, the front had blown off the Iceland shop - now boarded up, cordoned off and out of view, so I rang Gregster and cycled up to King's Heath High Steet. From the church downwards, a major section of the street was inaccessible - see the roadblock photo I posted last night (below). Several shops, particularly Greg's bakery, had no roofs and the church had been damaged by trees falling in the graveyard:

Workers were putting up fences to protect the church...

...and this prophetic sign in the churchyard was being eagerly snapped by several photographers:

The tornado has indeed made history. It's been evaluated as a T4 tornado, and although we get an average of 33 tornadoes in this country every year, we've already had 28 this year, and this is possibly the strongest since 1931.

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Left: Ladypool Road, Balsall Heath: Entire roof missing, fire engine and ominous sky.

23:50. Just got in, after cycling around Balsall Heath, Moseley and King's Heath this evening (and then dropping in at a friend's for a cuppa, which ended up with me being fed - thanks Beckster Senior!)

The devastation caused by this afternoon's tornado is far, far worse than I thought. There are numerous road closures still in force overnight. There are streets, including Ladypool Road, where some people will not be able to access their homes, businesses and cars for "several days" according to a police officer. Ladypool Road has been avacuated because of the danger of collapsing buildings and gas leaks. The policeman told me that some buildings might have to be pulled down, including a pub and a block of flats. The park on my road has so many fallen trees I couldn't even count them. This is about 100m from my house, and I realise now how lucky I have been. Having said that, there's something sticking out from a gable at the back, so I think I may have some loose roof tiles. I'll have to examine it from a distance in daylight tomorrow.

Left: Forest Road, Moseley: Fence down, tree fallen on house, roof tiles missing.

In Moseley, Forest Road in particular is devastated. There's a clue in the name - it has a lot of trees, but many of the larger ones were felled in a storm a couple of years ago, leaving me totally unprepared for the mess that greeted me there this evening. Hardly a house in the road doesn't have tiles missing and there are leaves, branches and whole trees all over the place, plus damage to some of the beautiful houses up there (and some of the not-so-beautiful ones too). This blogger has some photos of Moseley here, from earlier in the day.

Left: High Street, King's Heath: Road closure to allow for work to be done on damaged buildings and trees.

I've taken loads of photos tonight. I'll put them on here tomorrow. This is just a sample for now, one each from Balsall Heath, Moseley and King's Heath.

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It's one drama after another here in Birmingham. About an hour ago, I was sitting here at home when I heard an ALMIGHTY bang outside. I thought it was thunder, but it wasn't raining, just grey and damp outside, which made it very odd, and a little bit scary. I wondered if it was a bomb. Birmingham's Central Mosque, which is all over the news today because of the outspoken comments of its chairman, is just down the road. I peeked outside - no sign of rain. Then it very quickly went dark, almost like when we had the eclipse. I looked out of the window and there was rubbish flying high up in the air, covering as much of the sky as I could see. Loads of plastic bags, but also sheets of plastic the size of lilos, all flying up in the air. I wondered again if there had been an explosion. I grabbed my camera, but most of the debris just flew away too quickly. You can see some if it at the top of these photos, taken in my back garden, but the clue to the real cause is at the bottom of the pictures, where you can hardly see the roofs of the houses across the road. I've been scouring Ceefax and the BBC website, and in the last few minutes this has appeared - it was a tornado. Wow!

It seems to have caused much damage up the road in Moseley (and I think those shops in the BBC picture are in King's Heath; the next area South after Balsall Heath and Moseley). There were police helicopters circling overhead a few minutes ago, although that's not particularly unusual these days. The sky has now brightened up and all is quiet again. Terrorists, tornadoes, what next?

Comments from locals here - some of them rather amusing. I've added mine.

Dramatic pictures here.

This is now the lead news story on the BBC News England website, replacing the IRA's historic announcement.



Two of the little kids in my street are VERY excited. Apparently the trees in our local park have fallen over. I'll go and check this out soon
Man in corner shop confirms that the big trees have fallen over. He witnessed the tornado sky from his attic window and said it was dramatic. People have been coming into the shop, showing him cameraphone pictures of the local damage.

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27 July 2012

Today is yet another day when news related to the London bombings and the 2012 London Olympics are both dominating the schedules. Seb Coe and chums launched the fundraising lottery scratchcard today, with its prize of - wait for it - £2,012. Genius. It's launched today because (a) it's exactly seven years from today that the games will start and (b) the first wave of bombs meant that a second celebration of the London win, when the team returned from Singapore, was called off. Blogland's resident 2012 Olympics correspondent (for the next seven years and more), Diamond Geezer, has travelled in time and seen the opening day already (and very funny it is too).

Lord Coe et al will probably need seven years to sell enough scratchcards to finish the construction work that, as they've been so keen to point out today, has already started. I saw Coe himself and various different reporters throughout the day, standing in the drizzle of East London, praying that global warming will really have set in by this date in 2012. There was definitely some tractor dancing going on in the background, so the digging must have started. I mean, it's not as if they would just be there for the benefit of the cameras, is it? I'm sure we'd all like to know who these builders are, who can start a major construction project within three weeks of the go-ahead being given. Trade must be very slack.

I've never bought a lottery scratchcard in my life, and I don't intend to start now. Good luck, my compatriots.

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The atmosphere at the end of Heybarnes Road this afternoon was calm, as if people were just waiting for things to happen, following today's dawn raid and arrest. It didn't help that it's a miserable, grey day, with drizzle in the air, and not flaming July. The controlled explosion that has been expected since this morning still hasn't happened yet, although the army bomb disposal team had raced up from Gloucestershire this morning. You can see their van on the right of the first photo (above). There's a rucksack which was thrown out of a window this morning, which I think the authorities are approaching with caution, as it's rumoured that Omar was wearing it when the police arrived at 04:30.

There were six TV cameras set up at the tape blocking off the road. As I arrived, an ABC News presenter was filming his report. Listening to him address breakfast-time America from a road in Small Heath made me realise just how big a deal this is, and it's all happening 2.4 miles from my house.

There seemed to be a pecking order in where you were allowed to park your OB van, as Central News and Midlands Today had bagged the prime parking places - inside the cordon, no less. Others were outside the exhaust centre round the corner and outside the chippy (which is the one I thought it was - see below) which was closed. Swedish TV and BBC local radio vehicles had to make do with the Asda car park, although that is conveniently situated right across the road (see below again).

Rajesh Mirchandani was there for BBC News, although it was still over two hours until he reported into the teatime shows. There were Scottish, American and French accents amongst the journalists, and a mix of Asian, black and white kids hanging around, some of them trying to get in view of the TV cameras and finding it all quite amusing.

"What ya takin' pictures for? Will they be in the papers?" shouted some child as I tried to look as if I was there for some professional reason, not just curiosity and a blog.

Some enterprising youngsters were taking journalists on guided tours around the field and the streets behind. I asked one thirteen-ish goth/skate kid of unfathomable gender (I kid you not) where they were going. "You can see the soldiers from round the back - you can see 'is garden," said the local, who turned out to be a boy. We chatted for a bit while his mates took a journo for a walk around the block. As I left, I said, "Well, you're doing a good job," and he replied, "I ain't bein' paid for it though - I'm doin' it for the love o' me city", and he punched his chest proudly, like a boxer. Don't it make you proud? I was tempted to point out that it might be considered a bit callous to profit from the arrest of a potential bomber, but I let it lie.

It's funny how quickly you can get used to being in a media environment. After being surrounded by TV crews, I popped across to Asda to get something for tea. At the checkout, I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a furry boom mic further down and thought a crew must be interviewing the checkout staff about their exciting day. When I looked properly, I saw that it was a man buying a mop. There was no TV crew.

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Terrorism's coming home...


Midlands Today reports that a team of scaffolders is going to the house in Heybarnes Road. Chig feels a photography expedition coming on...


Neighbours in Hay Mills tell BBC Midlands Today that the man arrested was from a house inhabited by a family. Some people 'think' they are Somali, but no one seems to know them. The man from the chippy reports that they may have served the arrested man in the last few days, because when he left the shop, someone commented that he 'looked like one of the bombers in the photos'. Hmmm.


Daniel Sandford on BBC TV News says the identity of the arrested man ISN'T yet confirmed. How confusing.


ITN reports that the man arrested in Birmingham is Yassin Hasan Omar, one of the two named suspects (above). He is Somali. It's not clear yet if he is from Birmingham.
Background info: There are 4,000 Somalis living here, including one of Chig's next door neighbours.


ITN confirms that the man arrested in Hay Mills and taken to London is one of the four bomb suspects, and that he was carrying a rucksack when arrested, containing explosives similar to those found in London. Neighbours say that the man had been stripped naked and wrapped in a foil cape when he emerged from the house.


Accounts from residents in Hay Mills.


Bankdale Road is in Ward End, near to Alum Rock, and not quite Washwood Heath, as Five Live initially reported at 07:00. (The confusion is understandable, as Bankdale Road is very close to Washwood Heath Road, to the North of this map.) If any parts of Birmingham could be said to be 'politically Muslim', it is these two areas. Small Heath and Washwood Heath shocked the Labour Party in Birmingham a few years ago, by electing five city councillors from the PJP, the People's Justice Party. This was, to its detractors, a single issue party, focused on supporting Pakistan against India in the disputed region of Kashmir. The PJP lost its last two seats on the city council last year and seems to have faded away, electorally at least. Ward End is also to the East of the city, directly North of Hay Mills/Small Heath, but still South of the M6.


Suggestions now that the solo man was tasered because he had a "device" attached to him, and he was in the bathroom. (The device will probably turn out to be an electric razor.) The man from the local chippy reports that the house belongs to a Somali family. If this is the chip shop I think it is, it's just about the most prominent building in Hay Mills, which is so small it hardly exists. If people know Hay Mills at all, they'll know it as a small 3-way traffic island, which is where traffic coming from my direction (the city) joins the six lane Coventry Road which leads out to the airport (and Coventry, oddly enough). I've never met anyone who claims to live in Hay Mills, but it does have a sign on that roundabout, so it must exist. It's right next to Small Heath, which is a predominantly Asian area, mainly Muslim, mainly Pakistani. Small Heath is mostly parallel rows of 100 year-old houses off one main road, with two other notable landmarks which dominate the area. One is a huge Asda and the other is St. Andrew's; the home ground of Birmingham City FC. Indeed, us Villa fans often 'hilariously' refer to the Blues as 'Small Heath'.


The three other people were arrested in Bankdale Road.


Police are now evacuating Heybarnes Road and moving the cordon back, possibly to carry out a controlled explosion on the package found in the house were the solo man was arrested.


BBC TV News confirms that the man tasered and arrested in Heybarnes Road in Small Heath (it's next to Hay Mills) IS indeed one of the four bomb suspects. He was arrested at 04:30 and is currently at (or on his way to) Paddington Green police station in London.

The other three arrests in Birmingham were in Washwood Heath. They have not been taken to London, which increases the suspicion that the man who has is one of the bombers.


Woke up an hour ago and heard the news that four men have been arrested here in Birmingham under the Terrorism Act 2000. One of them was reported to be from Hay Mills, which is about three minutes' drive from Chig's house. It's thought that this may be one of the four men being sought after last Thursday's failed bombing attempts in London. Chig has dragged himself out of bed and is currently glued to the telly.

More later, no doubt.

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Poor Anthony


Still no chance of sex-pest Craig leaving Anthony alone until at least next week, as it's Kemal and Orlaith up for eviction this Friday. Let's help Miss Northern Ireland (runner-up) out of her misery and keep Ms Turkish Cyprus in.

Incidentally, in case you didn't see last week's Popbitch mailing, they asked if THIS is Kemal at the auditions for Pop Idol 2. I have no doubt that it is. What do you think?


Shall we see how Chig did with those guesses yesterday? Yes we bloomin' well shall, because the results are astounding (although I say so myself)!

Correct guesses in bold:

Anthony: Craig + Makosi - both correct, and in order!
Craig: Anthony + Orlaith - both correct, and in order!
Derek: Eugene + Kemal - both correct, and in order!
Eugene: Derek + Orlaith - one correct.
Kemal: Derek + Makosi - both correct, and in order!
Makosi: Kemal + Eugene - one correct. (Kemal will kill her when he gets out.)
Orlaith: Anthony + Craig - both correct, and in order - again!

Bloody hell! I'm good at this! Twelve correct out of fourteen, and all five correct pairs were predicted in the right order too. Chig is officially more psychic than Scary Mary. (Remember her? It all seems a long time ago.)

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Are you talking to me?

Isn't it nice when you feel like your TV set is addressing you personally? Congratulations then to Newsnight, who hit the nail on the head tonight, just after I turned over for the last 20 minutes, after watching you-know-what on C4. Presenter Eddie Mair announced Newsnight's new broadband 'watch it again' service by saying,
"If you've missed any of tonight's programme - perhaps Big Brother was too much of a temptation..."

They sure do know their audience - in this house at least!

Special mention must also go to another witty line from tonight's programme;

"[The central Kalahari game reserve], which is, in comparison to Wales, as these things always are, nearly twice the size."

They either have new scriptwriters on Newsnight, or it's new presenter Mair writing these gems himself. Either way, it's very good, and so is he.

And while we're on the subject of BB6, Big Brother is messing with the housemates' heads again. Hurrah! Today, instead of nominating the two people they each wanted to evict, they had to nominate the two they most wanted to stay. Excellent twist. This had me wondering who they would each choose, and writing down my guesses. When I added them up, I realised that, purely by chance, I had written down each flatmate's name twice, and twice only. If this turns out to be the same as their real nominations, it will mean that all seven of them will face the public vort (sic) on Friday. Which will probably mean the end for Orlaith or Makosi, I would imagine. Still, they couldn't possibly end up with two nominations each...could they?

Here are my pointless guesses:

Anthony: Craig + Makosi
Craig: Anthony + Orlaith
Derek: Eugene + Kemal
Eugene: Derek + Orlaith
Kemal: Derek + Makosi
Makosi: Kemal + Eugene
Orlaith: Anthony + Craig

Let's see tomorrow how accurate they were.

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What a difference a day makes. It rained and rained and rained in Bewdley today. I only stayed a couple of hours. Most of the rowers were soaked to the skin before they even set foot in their boats.

Compare and contrast:



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What I did today...and what I'll be doing tomorrow

Chig loves this time of year. The end of July usually sees me paying a visit to the Worcestershire Festival of Lycra© or, to give it its proper name, Bewdley Regatta. Today was no exception. In recent years, it has often been boiling hot on this particular weekend, but earlier in the week the forecast for this weekend in Worcestershire had been for showers and worse tomorrow. Last night the forecast was revised though, with the rain removed, and that turned out to be correct. It's been a lovely day with no rain at all. In fact, it was even hot for a few minutes. Bewdley is a beautiful place, as ex-Led Zepper Robert Plant knows. (I believe he lives there.) It's worth much more than my annual visit, or the almost annual news coverage when the Severn floods the town. No worries about that today though, as I've never seen the river level there so low. Indeed, they've had to block off one side of the river near the finish, with straw bales, to keep the rowers in the middle and prevent them running aground. It failed dramatically at least once today though, as the women in the lead crashed into the straw with about 10m to go and watched their opponents cross the line first. Sad for them, but it was quite funny to watch.

I've been admiring the views, but missing Orion, the gay rowing club from London, who aren't there this year. I've met them twice before at Bewdley, and they were a lovely bunch of athletic chaps, and very photogenic. I do wonder though, looking at their website, if they're still going, as the last update seems to be over twelve months old. They row out of Furnivall Sculling Club, but I don't think Furnivall themselves are in Bewdley this weekend either. If you know anything about the continuing existence of Orion, or otherwise, please could you let me know? Even without Orion, there are plenty more views to admire, and I'll be back in Bewdley tomorrow, with picnic and camera, to admire some more of them. :-)

This man has just won a race. As you can see, he's quite excited.

The swans were eventually disqualified, for having three times too many team members.



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Let's get Science off the curriculum


It's not going to happen though, is it? I have a horrible feeling that Big Brother viewers are going to ruin my viewing pleasure for the next week and condemn six flatmates to another seven days of earache by evicting Orlaith tonight instead. I hope not. I can't stand Science, and watching the gobshite this week has done unhealthy things to my blood pressure between 10pm and 11pm every night, as well as give me a headache. I don't think I've ever disliked a BB housemate so much before, and the reason is simple - he never listens, to anybody. It's impossible to have any rational discussion with him, because he starts talking again, as soon as the other person starts. That would drive me round the bend if I had to live with him, and other, reasonable people have said to me that they would have hit him by now. His ego is so huge that he can't understand that there are other people in the world who have opinions too. He deserves to go.

If he does go, I want Davina to ask him the first question and then, as soon as he starts to answer it, ignore him and ask the second question. Or, even better, to sit there while he speaks, put her fingers in her ears and shout very loudly, "Na, na, na, not listening, not listening," until he gets the message. Nasty little man.


Thank God for that. He's out. We can watch Big Brother and enjoy it again from now on. Just need to get the lovelorn, bitchy drama queen Craig out now. The only problem with that is that none of the housemates are nominating him.

Makosi to win!
Oops! Sorry, I've changed my mind this week, after supporting Makosi from the start. Anthony to win!

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So good they used it twice

With a mere 301 days to go until Eurovision in Athens, comes news today that organisers ERT have chosen the venue. Not surprisingly, given the popularity of Eurovision in Greece and the number of venues that Greece built for last year's Olympics, it is one of them. It's the basketball stadium at the Olympic sports complex in Maroussi, a suburb 9km North of central Athens. Capacity is a humungous 19,000 when the hall is used for basketball, but won't be so many with a stage inside. However, no one wants to relive Parken in Copenhagen, which everyone seems to agree was far too big for Eurovision 2001, so I'm a little concerned. This picture makes it look HUGE!

Sources: Apostolos Kourtis & OGAE Greece.

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This weekend's plans:

Tonight: Will Young in concert at Warwick Castle.
So, Ethel, I will have seen Willy by tonight.

Tomorrow: Oxford Pride.

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It was 20 years ago today...

...that Sir Bob told the bands to play.

Saturday 13th July 1985 = Live Aid.
More on this tonight, including a photo of something quite unusual, related to that day, which you will never have seen before.

Unless it's hot and sunny, again.
In which case, bugger blogging - I'll be out in the sunshine, again!
Bournemouth's Bourne Free festival and the beach at the weekend, barbecue and sunbathing yesterday at a friend's house, cycling along the canal towpath this evening. CHIG LOVES THE SUMMER!

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Has anybody seen my little Willy?

The wonderful Gretchen Franklin has died. Not only was Ethel one of the best characters Eastenders ever had, but she and Dot played out possibly the best ever episode, in about 1986, which was just one long conversation between the two of them.

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What a horrible, sad day. We all knew this day would come sooner or later, we just didn't know when. Words fail me tonight. May I suggest you read this instead, written by someone who was on one of the tube trains that was bombed this morning.

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It worked! It worked! Chig successfully put the kiss of death on Paris by saddling them with his endorsement. So now, the UK gets to hold a planned Olympic Games, instead of stepping in to hold them at the last minute, as in 1948. I am really proud, despite everything. It's an amazing result for London, even though I think Paris deserved it more and would have been better. We'll never know. Here endeth the British cynicism from this neck of the woods, at least until we can start moaning that it's costing too much, is going over budget as well and won't be ready on time.

I think the real surprise here is that we finally think today that other countries may actually LIKE us. Yes, we can WIN something, even when Tony Blair is involved! In fact, we may even have won it BECAUSE Tony Blair was involved. With a 54:50 result, it may have been down to his presence and two IOC members that he persuaded in his face-to-face chats. Perhaps the shadow of Iraq is finally lifting from Blair's political horizon. Today's decision won't make Javine feel any better though... Can we really blame politics for our Eurovision failure now, in the light of this fantastic success?

Check out diamond geezer for some excellent, on-the-doorstep London Olympics coverage.

Only 2578 days to go...

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Olympic heresy

Chig wants Paris to be awarded the 2012 Olympics tomorrow, or possibly Madrid, but not London. There, I've said it. For the last six months, I've been wondering if I was the only Brit who didn't want London's bid to win, but this morning the Five Live phone-in was on this very subject. They said the majority of callers and texters were also AGAINST London hosting the Olympics, so I feel safe to stick my head above the parapet and risk being called a spoilsport (quite literally, in this case) or - gasp! - unpatriotic.

Thank you to the five people who responded to my survey earlier today. Including my own answers, in the comments box with all the others, we are evenly split on which city should get the games, with three going for Paris and three for London, despite all six respondents being British. (I could have sworn one of you was South African, but we'll gloss over that...!)

However, four out of six think that Paris WILL win, with just one predicting London and one predicting New York. It's notable that the one who predicts London to win actually thinks it should be Paris.

So, I'm not alone. There are several reasons, but above all I quite fancy going to the Olympics if, as would seem likely, they're going to be held in Europe for the first time since Barcelona 1992. I'd love to go to Paris to see them. The French will do a better job of organising them, Paris will look better, they have the stadia already and their transport network is much, much better already than London's could ever be. We, on the other hand, can look back on the Millennium Dome, the wobbly Millennium Bridge, the Pickett's Lock athletics track fiasco, the rebuilding of Wembley stadium when it should be a new stadium somewhere else, every government IT project ever started, and the row over the ID cards budget. These are all valid reasons why we shouldn't really take on big ideas like the Olympics.

One of the arguments put forward by the pro-London lobby is that UK sport would be given a welcome shot in the arm if London was awarded the games, and that our nation's children will be rescued from their obesity crisis by taking up sport all of a sudden. To which I say two words: United States. They have hosted the Olympics twice in the last 21 years and have the fattest kids (and adults) on this Earth.

Then there's the waste of money for just two weeks of kudos, from which the rest of the country will hardly benefit at all, even though we would pay for it with our taxes. There's the destruction of large parts of the little remaining green space in London, and the inevitable rise in house prices which will mean that the people in East London will be unable to afford houses on their own doorstep.

No, give it to Paris. Madrid would do as a second best option. Then us Brits will have the joy of an Olympics on our doorstep, which is easy to get to, but which we don't have to pay for. Bargain. And an excellent holiday too, in a beautiful city. Who wants to go to Stratford, East London for a holiday?

I also agree with what Joe's comments;
"Paris - just to wipe the smug look off the face of every racist, xenophobic, anti-european, foreigner-hating, UKIP-supporting, british-empire-throwback in the country who can't go five minutes without throwing insults at anyone on the other side of the channel."

Exactly. I can't wait to see how the Daily Mail covers it if Paris wins.

I can't really lose on this one, can I? Because even if London does win, it'll still feel great really (for a few days). Only Moscow (unlikely) or New York winning could really spoil the fun. It's funny how most commentators thought that New York was a shoe-in for this after the terrorist attacks of 2001, when it was assumed they would benefit from a huge wave of sympathy votes, but the sympathy seems to have drained away.

Allez la France!

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A quick survey. I'll write more about this tonight.

Please answer the following questions, in the comments box:

1) Which city do you think SHOULD be awarded the 2012 Olympics tomorrow?

a) London
b) Madrid
c) Moscow
d) New York
e) Paris
f) I don't care.

2) Which city do you think WILL win?

3) What is your nationality?

4) Where do you live? (Town/city and country)

Vote now!

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The Killers – hurrah! Nice to see a man wearing eyeliner. Was that only one song though, or is it because I'm not concentrating?

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As part of Chig's youth opportunities programme, today's picture was taken, on Chig's camera, by 9 year-old neighbour, Mohammed.

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Madge! “She gives me a terrible time,” says Bob. Madonna embraces the woman from Ethiopia and then goes on to give what is perhaps the bets performance of the day, using the London Community Gospel Choir to cover up her own slightly out-of-tube singing, but producing rousing versions of Like A Prayer and Music, with Ray Of Light in the middle. The two sexy male dancers were a welcome distraction too, but I’ll take nothing away from her – that was a memorable performance.

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Okay, forget that last bit. Tearful now as Bob brings out the grown woman who was the baby near to death in the ‘Drive’ video. (She’s the one who was also in the Band Aid 20 video.) She looks beautiful. As Bob says, “Don’t let them tell you that this stuff doesn’t work.” She’s living proof that it does.

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Ah, the ‘Drive’ video is on again, introduced by Bob, shown as it was on 13 July 1985, with the child screaming after the line, ‘Who’s gonna plug your ears when you scream?’ I always remembered that bit the most. I was in floods of tears watching this alone at my Mum’s house twenty years ago. Today, I’m not. Have I become that hard-hearted? I don’t think so. It’s just that it IS twenty years old, and we’ve seen it before.

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More sweariness from Jonny Razorlight, but I think it’s more acceptable to say, “Sign the f***ing petition,” on peaktime BBC One than it is to say ‘M*****f*****’ at any time of day or night. Mr Dogg, please take note.

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Crikey, no apologies from J Ross. I am surprised. Is Points Of View on tomorrow?

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Oh dear again. Jonathan Ross must be rehearsing the apologies already. Has no one told Mr Snoopy Doggity Diggity Doggone Dogg that we're nowhere near the 9pm watershed? He's mentioned the F word, the N word, and, shockingly for a Saturday teatime on BBC One, the MF word, at least twice. He's on far longer than I would have thought his status in this country deserved, but hey, we got to see David Beckham watching one of his heroes, and he was looking gorgeous.

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Philadelphia, can you handle this? Michael Jackson has been sighted leaving Neverland.... Could he possibly....? Heal The World!

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Gulp. I was wondering to myself yesterday what it would be this time around that creates the emotional impact that the ‘Drive’ video created in 1985, and it looks like this is it. Annie Lennox on stage, singing ‘Why?’, with photos behind her of people in Africa who are HIV+, many of them children.

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Brad Pitt! Be still, my beating heart! How dare that man be older than me and look so bloody gorgeous?! And he can still get away with bleaching his hair!
Sorry, Am I trivialising the important message he’s delivering about AIDS in Africa and the shameful way that we don’t let Africans have the drugs that they need?

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Jonathan Ross on Geldof’s choice of song: “What better way to get a crowd going, than a song about a spree killer?”

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Bob Geldof’s on now, doing ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’. It’s his show; I guess he can do what he likes. My jealousy level is high. I really wish I was there. Whatever happened to the rain, which would have made me less envious? I thought Travis were supposed to work their rain magic? I’ve seen them do it live twice before, including getting soaked at one of the V festivals. It really did only start raining when they played that song.

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I’ve signed the Live 8 petition online. You can do it too.

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I haven’t yet heard anyone say, “This one’s for Luther,” but I’m sure someone will, probably in Philadelphia. Luther Vandross’s death was announced in the early hours of this morning, and, within an hour of the announcement, I was quite astonished to hear an American music journalist answer a question quite directly about his sexuality on Five Live. She stated unequivocally that he was gay. I had no idea, although he did have quite plucked eyebrows, which should have given the game away. He apparently lived quite a secretive sex life, which is a shame. It’s amazing what you can get away with saying, moments after someone has died, that you can’t say when they’re alive, isn’t it?

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Shivers down the spine moment, as Will Smith coordinates a kind of audio-visual Mexican wave of hellos from one country’s Live 8 gigs to another. It sort of works, but with the odd microphone not switched on. It’s fantastic to realise there are so many people participating in and watching the same event, right around the world. Will Smith is giving a rousing, emotional speech to remind us all why Live 8 is here.

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Oh dear, that's a shame. They've just shown the crowds watching Live 8 on the big screen outside Birmingham's central library. Lucky I recognised it, as Jonathan Ross said it was Manchester! Doh!

Loving it so far. Had to miss REM and Miss Dynamite-tee-hee as I went back to our carnival. Best performance so far? Stereophonics - a perfect performance. They rocked!

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Just back into the house after taking part in my local carnival parade. I ended up having to wear a fluorescent yellow jacket and pretending to be a steward. The rain has held off so far, but I fear the event in the park will be rather wet later. It's only down the road, so I'll be popping across when the boring acts are on at Live 8. (What time is Dido scheduled for?)

I came back and picked up my mobile, which I forgot to take out with me earlier. There's a message from my sister. She's only AT LIVE 8! She was queueing at Hyde Park, wondering if I was at London Pride. She's somehow wangled a ticket for Live 8, has taken a sicky from work, and is trying to avoid being seen on any TV cameras! So, that's my sister and an ex-boyfriend who are there! To think, for ten minutes on Wednesday night, I had a ticket too, before it was cruelly snatched away.... I'm sooooooo jealous!

14:00 It's starting...

*Kaiser Chiefs are on Live 8 later, opening the Philadelphia show.

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It was 20 years ago today...


I've used that headline, or versions of it, a few times before on this here blog, and today it seems they are to be the opening words of London's Live 8 gig. I imagine Macca and Bono will be singing something like, "It was 20 years ago today, Sir Bob told the bands to play". Of course it was 20 years ago on 13th July, but who's quibbling?

What a day lies in store! Today is a special day anyway - it's the exact middle point of the year; day 183, with 182 days of 2005 gone and 182 more to come after. So, a happy Mid-Year's Day to you all!

Tokyo's Live 8 gig has already happened, with Bjo:rk and McFly. Johannesburg's starts at 12:00 GMT. The British and Irish Lions have already been crushed by the All Blacks 48-18 in New Zealand, losing the series after only two matches. (I woke up in time for the last ten minutes.) Rain permitting, it's the women's final at Wimbledon (and the end of yesterday's unfinished second men's semi). (Stop sniggering at the phrase 'men's semi', you at the back!) In London, I still haven't quite worked out how on Earth they're going to accommodate the Pride March and Live 8 gig in such close proximity (and wondering if George Michael might appear at Pride's rally at long last, as he's in town.) (We don't do London Pride these days, as there are so many other, better, regional Pride events on throughout the Summer, and frankly I think Birmingham, Brighton, Cardiff and Leicester is enough for me, but good luck to them.)

So, a day in front of the TV is in store, here at Chig Mansions. The BBC is doing us proud with all this coverage. Radio Five Live is building up the excitement to Live 8 very nicely, with the Hyde Park soundchecks audible in the background. First though, I have to pop out and show my face at the most important event of the day; Balsall Heath Carnival.

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Get them both out

Chig hasn't voted for either Saskia or Maxwell to be evicted tonight from the Big Brother house, as there's no point. I'm just glad one of them is going. If I had my way, it would be both of them. They're very unpleasant people. If you, the voting public, could somehow engineer a draw in the televote, so they both have to go, that would be great.

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