March 2004 Archives - 3/4 -

You couldn’t make it up. But Bush could…

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Bush Administration Accused of Manufacturing the News (via Ready-made news “packages” were sent to news stations in America, showing pro-Bush reports and using paid actors.
There’ll come a point where the De Niro-based Wag The Dog (tagline: “A Hollywood producer. A Washington spin-doctor. When they get together, they can make you believe anything”) becomes more of a documentary than a film. That time is near, folks…

The End Of Sparky

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“Thank you all so, so much. You have made every night I’ve been here a special experience.”
Sparky, closing speech, 6th March 2004
What a splendid morning it is. The birds are singing, the trees are swaying, and my Student Loan Repayment Notification announced itself on
my doormat.
Still, Saturday night, the Last Encore, was a corker. Over the years, the Open Mike night at the Cranley Hotel has evolved into a one-man show, with others filling in admirably when the main man needs a rest. “Sparky” is that main man, and the emotional end last night was a fitting tribute. We’d prepared for the slaughter – Shunta had made special personalised Last Encore t-shirts for the male half of the group, and rooms were booked in the hotel, so at the end of the hazy night all we had to do was climb the stairs to welcoming beds.

Jac, Shaun and others filled in during the night, while the rest of us (Michelle, Alex, Siobhan, Sophie and Debs) found the alcohol slipped down our throats splendidly, in exactly the same way a set of razor blades wouldn’t. By around ten o’clock, Jac and I were muttering bizarre conversations (“My rooms has a four poster bed, without the four posts.” “So it?s a bed then.”) The climax (as it were) came (so to speak) at around 11.30, when Sparky finished off (stop it with the double entendres, will you) with his trademark chest-thumping acapella version of “Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me A Mercedes Benz”. It was an amazing moment, caught for posterity by Michelle’s new digital camera (videos and pictures will be up soon).
So that?s it. No more Sparky. What will Cranleighans do now of a Saturday night?
Update: Photos are now online.

Chernobyl – A Pictorial

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Years ago, when I was 8, every major change in the weather merited a bizarre claim from my mother: “Must be Chernobyl.” Chernobyl, I eventually learnt at that naturally inquisitive age, was possibly the best illustration of a disaster we’ve had in recent times. The nuclear explosions that blew up the Chernobyl power station in 1986 caused devastation to Russia and its economy and widespread concern for the whole world. This pictorial visit to Chernobyl shows how, 18 years on, it’s still a bleak, desolate place. After you’ve got past the endearingly poor English, you’ll find some of the saddest pictures from the aftermath. (more info on the disaster here)