Something for the Weekend: My lovely horse

Welcome to January’s final Something for the Weekend, which comes this week from a kebab shop in Peckham. Fortunately it has wi-fi. And is hypothetical.

In the Something for the Weekend closet today: the smell of Barack Obama; the fetishes of a Labour MP; the women playing with balls; and more!

» Good Week

Saudi football supporterIt’s been a good week for the Prince Muhammad bin Fahd University’s female football team. They won a rare inter-college women’s football match in Saudi Arabia on penalties in front of a large female-only crowd in the university’s stadium.

According to

The match is the biggest such event hosted by Prince Muhammad bin Fahd University and the first ever to see the home team playing against another team from Riyadh. The University has introduced women football some 18 months ago.

Suggestions that 16 of those 18 months were spent explaining the off-side rule are not to be entertained.

» Bad Week

Before we pick this week’s poor soul, it’s only right we spare a thought for the man who graced this section just two weeks ago. Yes, Peter Hain has shuffled off to spend more time with his lawyers, and has been replaced as Secretary of State for Work and Pensioners by James Purnell, whom you may remember from such blogs as this one. (James Purnell’s reaction to his promotion? Speechless.)

KebabTempting thought it is to give Mr Hain a second starring role, I’m going to risk reprisals from her minder to declare Home Secretary Jacqui Smith this week’s unfortunate. When she isn’t sneaking off to Peckham with her bodyguard for a (donor?) kebab at teatime or labelling a large chunk of the population as not-we, she’s trying to justify bad laws by inventing new words:

It won’t be hypothetical if and when it occurs. We are not legislating now on the basis that we are bringing it in now for something that might happen in the future; we are bringing it in now for something that might happen in the future; we are bringing in a position for if it becomes unhypothetical.

Another one for the New Labour Doublespeak Dictionary.

» Also in the news

David Cameron has jumped another red light on his bike, angering a nearby pedestrian.

Secretary of State for Scotland Des Browne uses the Jacqui Smith excuse (“It’s never happened to me so it doesn’t matter”) when questioned by Lib Dem MPs about English shopkeepers refusing Scottish banknotes.

The British Social Attitudes Survey indicates a more socially liberal Britain.

The story of Three Little Pigs is considered culturally offensive. (Quite telling is the use of “Asian community” and “Muslim community” by the Award organisers involved as if the two were interchangeable.)

» Barack Obama in the pits

Barack Obama’s campaign to win the Democratic nomination for US President continues apace. With lots of supporters making their voices heard via teh internets, the campaign has its own online social networking system. Unfortunately, it’s known as MyBO. It includes blogs, events listings but hopefuly no scratch and sniff section.

With Hillary taking the lead in hairspray voters, Barack will be hoping the key underarm spray constituency (including the usually Republican Right Guard) come through for him.

Hmm. I should really apologise for this whole section, shouldn’t I?

» The law of unintended consequences

Harriet Harman believes MPs shouldn’t decide their own salaries. On the face of it, this sounds like a good idea – hand the decision over to an independent body.

But hang on. As the BBC reports:

MPs have agreed to government demands to award themselves a below-inflation pay rise of 1.9%.

The independent Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) had recommended a 2.56% salary rise from £60,277 to £61,820.

If the SSRB was responsible for taking an “independent” view of MPs’ pay and Members of Parliament didn’t get a vote, their pay rise would actually have been higher.

(See also my prediction that this would happen back in 2006 and Anders Hanson’s thoughts from a couple of weeks ago.)

» MP: “I must have a thousand fetishes”

Blyth Valley’s Labour MP Ronnie Campbell seems to have gone relatively unnoticed in the past, but his announcement this week that he has a fetish for horses raised some eyebrows.

Metro reported that he had given his support to National Fetish Day, saying:

“I must have a thousand [fetishes] but, hand on my heart, I couldn’t tell which is the most important one. Probably the horses.”

After the meaning of the word was explained to him, the former coal miner was a bit shocked:

“Oh my God almighty! I thought a fetish was a worry, like worrying about backing the right horse.”

So that’s cleared that up.

» The old ones are the best

From Friday’s Financial Times Notebook column:

Q: Why do people take an instant dislike to certain members of the shadow cabinet?

A: It saves time.

» Facebook groups of the week

John Humphreys doesn’t seem to have noticed that BBC Three isn’t exactly targeted at his demographic. Join the debate (or one side of it) with Save BBC Three and BBC Four!

Will you be the millionth member of the trailblazing group I bet I can find 1,000,000 people who dislike George Bush!? It’s getting tantalisingly close to succeding.

Leaked Government documents suggest that ministers want to blackmail students into getting ID cards, so there’s a new group: STOP BRIBING STUDENTS. NO TO Forcing students go get ID cards for loans!

» Coming up

Some telly and radio highlights in the near future.

On Saturday, Lord Oakeshott will be on Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster at 11.30am.

Ming Campbell will be on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One on Sunday morning, with Nick Clegg at a similar time on GMTV Sunday. You can hear Lynne Featherstone on The Westminster Hour on Radio 4 on Sunday night.

Also on Sunday evening is the Channel 4 Political Awards at 7pm on Channel 4. Nick Clegg, Evan Harris and Norman Baker each made the shortlists for an award (although some categories being voted for by MPs tends to work against Liberal Democrats winning).

Finally, Nick Clegg is doing an interview on Monday night at 10pm on talkSPORT.

» And finally…

The Guardian‘s Organgrinder has listed his readers’ top 30 favourite TV shows of 2007. Naturally, Doctor Who tops the chart in what is a fairly geeky selection (hurrah!): good taste is demonstrated by the high placings of Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, Peep Show and Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe.

In third place is Flight of the Conchords, “New Zealand’s fourth most popular digi-folk paradists”. That must mean it’s business time.

* Something for next weekend? Drop us a line at [email protected]

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