Thursday, 14 May 2009

Star Trek

I have just seen the new Star Trek film and it was well worth my time and money. I have never really got into the later series (Voyager, DS9, Enterprise), but love the original series and TNG. JJ Abrams clearly has great affection for the Star Trek universe and brought on board writers who knew how to balance freshness with enough reference points to satisfy established fans. It was all just to lively and energetic. Not a spoof, not self-referential, just fast-paced, action-packed, character-establishing stuff. Trying to make space in a screenplay for characters who have been developed over decades of TV series and films without either reducing them to two-dimensional caricatures, bogging down the narrative, or stretching the running time is an unenviable task, but it is handled excellently. Chekhov suddenly knows how to transport a moving target, Sulu leaves the handbrake on but knows kung-fu, Bones confirms that he is indeed a doctor, despite spending more time on the bridge than in sickbay, Scotty succeeds in giving the Enterprise more power, Spock finds time for a mind-meld and a nerve-pinch, Uhuru actually can translate all manner of interstellar communication and Kirk snogs the green alien, shouts, fights and takes his place in the Captain's chair.
Breathtaking special effects, space battle scenes more akin to Serenity or Jedi than the sluggish chess games of previous Star Trek outings, excellent pacing, a coherent narrative (even with red matter, black holes and time travel) and well-performed main roles. Hell, they even find time to fry the guy in the red uniform.

These wretched MP's

I know, I know. It is hardly a novel title, hardly a groundbreaking subject on which to embark into the exciting world of blogging, but crikey. Lembit Opik tried to claim £2500 for a TV, had his claim rejected, bought a £700 TV instead and then claimed it was the system working and he could not understand what all of the fuss was about.
As I understand it, you can only claim for what is wholly and exclusively necessary for the carrying out of parliamentary business. I understand the need to equip and furnish a second home close to parliament. Cutlery, crockery, furniture, even a stereo, TV and DVD player. Everyone needs to unwind at the end of a busy day. But these MP's just do not get it. You do not need a £2500 TV in your second home. You should not wait to see whether you can get away with it, whether the Fees Office will turf it out. Your conscience, your moral compass, your sense of the value of money should cause you to question the claim before you put it in. I have never owned a brand-new TV and currently watch a £100 second-hand tube TV, because that is all I can afford and truthfully, it is all I need. How can any person, let alone an MP who knows every penny he or she claims comes from the pockets of the taxpayer, genuinely believe that these luxury items are necessary to the performance of their parliamentary duties? It feels rather more that they have looked at what they want rather than what they need, then looked at what they can get away with rather than what is genuinely proportionate, fair and reasonable. "I can do it, so I will" rather than, "I do not need this so I will not". I am cross at the shamelessness of it all, the greed, the indifference and if I had a quid for every time I have heard "it is within the rules" for an expense that any ordinary person would consider shamefully excessive, I could afford to have my moat filled in.
I am angry. Here endeth the rant.