Monthly Archives: October 2008

“unfathomable heights” ?

The email trailer for tonight’s BBC2 Newsnight begins:



BBC Comedy

“I only do the radio show to make people laugh and given the subsequent coverage I will stop doing the show.” – Radio 2 comedian, Russell Brand.

As the Ross/Brand furore reaches unfathomable heights, Russell Brand announced this evening he would be resigning from the BBC. In his statement he took full responsibility for the ill-fated comedy sketch and said he hoped Jonathan Ross and the BBC would endure “less forensic wrath”.

There are a couple of expressions there that enrich our language. The one that intrigues Malcolm is his headline here.

  • Is la Maitlis being (perhaps) a little over-clever with her oxymoron?


  • Is it an ill-considered mixed-metaphor?

Will Malcolm arouse himself from his pastoral torpor to sit up beyond an early bedtime in find out? Well, actually, no: he’ll catch the programme on iPlayer later.

OK: for the slow on the uptake, “unfathomed” derives from the use of a sounding line. When the sea was too deep for the leadsman to find bottom (in usual practice, that meant over 25 fathoms or 150 feet), the ocean was “unfathomed”. That’s down, not up. One would not want to chuck a sounding line and its 14-lb lead weight upwards, above one’s own head. For obvious reasons.

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The rest is silence

Two weeks later: absolutely no response from the Met Police or the Mayor’s Office about how one is supposed on-line to report dangerous driving.

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Evenin’, some of you (continued)

The previous posting (see below) had a response, some 18 hours later:

On 15 Oct 2008, at 13:24, Yvonne Peart wrote:

There is an online crime reporting service on the Metropolitan Police Service website:

You can use this service to notify the Metropolitan Police of the following crimes committed within the Greater London Authority area.

Theft – excluding:
Robbery (where you or the person you are reporting for was subjected to violence or the threat of violence.
Burglary (a building has been broken into).
Criminal damage
Theft from a motor vehicle
Criminal damage to a motor vehicle
Hate crimes and hate incidents

For any other type of non-emergency incident please call your local police station to report – telephone numbers are also available from the link below. If you are unable to call your local police station, then you may visit the station during its opening hours.

Yvonne Peart
Information Officer
Metropolitan Police Authority

In other words, Malcolm is vindicated. More intriguing, if it’s not covered by that list, and it’s not reported, then it’s not considered a crime.

Does this have any relationship to “targets”, by any chance?

There is no way of reporting on-line a potential killer-driver without strolling down to the local Nick, hanging around while somebody becomes available to listen, making a complaint (it used to be called laying evidence) and hoping someone else feels motivated to take a bit of notice.

So Malcolm has responded to Yvonne Peart:

Yes: I have read and understood the Metropolitan Police website listing you quote.

I particularly noted and commented that there was no, repeat no reference to car crime, except theft (and I am sufficiently old-fashioned to regard dangerous-to-the-point-of-murderous driving as criminal). Hence my posting to the MPA site.

So, my original query remains:
[Last] evening I witnessed (and noted details) of a particularly
outrageous example of dangerous driving.

As far I can see, there is no means of reporting this event on-line.

If so, where and how?

If not, why not?

Watch this space.

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Evenin’, some of you

This evening, at about 6.10 pm, Malcolm witnessed one of the most execrable examples of dangerous driving he can remember.

It involved the archetypical swarthy unshaven young man, inevitably in an aging V-registered BMW 5-series.

Malcolm noted the registration number and a quick jot of what he could recall.

He then went to the Metropolitan Police website, intending to record the event.

This is what he found:

Online reporting

Certain categories of crime committed in the Greater London area can now be reported over the internet, as long as an urgent response is not required.

This service can only be used for reporting certain types of crime, including:

Theft – excluding:
Robbery (where you or the person you are reporting for was subjected to violence or the threat of violence.

Burglary (a building has been broken into).
Criminal damage
Theft from a motor vehicle
Criminal damage to a motor vehicle

Hate crimes and hate incidents
(Do not report Road Traffic Accidents, collisions or lost property on this site.)

That’s it.

So what site might be a good place to notify a would-be homicide on its way to happen?

Contact Boris?

So Malcolm, fully appreciative of the caring, unsharing approach of the Mayor of London, Chair of the Met Police Authority, etc., etc., has sent the following email to the Great White Wonder:

This evening I witnessed (and noted details) of a particularly outrageous example of dangerous driving.

As far I can see, there is no means of reporting this event on-line.

If so, where and how?

If not, why not?

And now we wait.

Any response or developments will, of course, be reported here.

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And all for the want of a proofreader

Malcolm urges any reader to attend with scrupulous care:


The second bit of history was the ennobling of the Prince of Darkness, Peter Mandelson,  who from heroin in shall be known as Baron of the Black Arts. Or, as he would prefer, Baron Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county of Durham.


That’s Nick Assinder’s wind-up (in more senses than one), otherwise “Closing Prices”, for today’s Politicshome. Catch it before the re-edit.

By the way, Malcolm sees that the bitmap header (as above) is entitled “Closing Pirces”. He hopes that the accuracy of the site’s stories transcends the carelessness of their presenting.

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The unshot messenger gives it straight

Robert Peston has acquired national treasure status in recent days. That prompts three Malcolmian thoughts:

  1. He has been doing what only great journalists can do: telling the story, explaining the details, without promoting his own personality.
  2. For that, he has been consistently abused by the right-wing media and blogosphere. He was causing the flight from capitalism, it was alleged by the vox pop rubbish on the likes of conservativehome, Iain Dale and (to dredge the Mariana Trench of bottom-feeding) Paul Staines’s Guido Fawkes.
  3. This morning’s posting, eight quick-fire points in just 275 words, telling the overnight story so far, is a classic of compression.



Malcolm’s admiration owes nothing to Robert being the son of Maurice Peston, socialist economist and peer, and ornament of many Hornsey Labour Party dos.

Nor to Robert Peston attending the same comprehensive (Highgate Wood School), although over a decade apart, as Malcolm’s two daughters.

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Now here’s an interesting thing

It’s 11.30 pm on a Saturday night.

There hasn’t been a single posting on conservativehome since the half-time footie scores went up at 4 pm.

Not even a mention of the Sunday Times YouGov poll (1,900 quota: Labour up 7%; Tories down 3%).

Not a word. Not a whimper.

Curious that.

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What if …

Malcolm woke up sweating.

He had been in that dream-world, the parallel universe when there had been an October 2007 General Election. Which had resulted in a narrow Tory win.

And then the roof fell in.

“Gids” Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was “in charge” at the Treasury as the temple fell around him.

And then, an angelic voice suspired: “… but think of the opinion polls”.

So he did:

would the Tories be making 25%?

Would Labour be less that 50%?

And so, with a sigh, and a feeling of inner warmth, reassured that it was only a chile-con-carne nightmare and the nation was in really still in safe hands, Malcolm fell back into a comforted, untroubled sleep.

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An iconic insight

Malcolm first went over in his pram, when London was smokier, lower, dirtier and recently-reshaped by the town-planners of the Luftwaffe.

Since then he has been across on foot, by bus and car. He has been around it. Under it on the odd boat trip. Even over it, on the fly-path to the airport. He has seen it up, and down. He has been frustrated by its closure, without equally applauding its convenience when it was open.

But, until yesterday, he had never been on top of it, or within its bowels.

So, for those who have not guessed where he was, he offers a clue:

That’s underneath the south-east control box.

Still not caught the drift?

Here’s another hint:

That’s from the late Victorian hydraulics that powered this monster, which was eight years in the building. And that “Mud discharge” should tell you all you need to know.

And here’s one of the eight great, majestic, now redundant steam engines, still in its original paintwork:

A two-hour tour started on the upper walkways, with spectacular views from 143 feet up aross the Pool of London. Then a descent into the depths, seeing the great vaults into which the counterweights for the two 1200-ton bascules descend. Around one, 31 million bricks, 285,000 cubic feet of Cornish granite and Portland stone, 14,000 tons of Geordie steel and iron.

When Malcolm and his lady emerged into the London drizzle and dusk, their guide “Polish Peter” pointed the way to another local attraction (see later posting). They walked the long way, round Butler’s Wharf and Shad Thames, now squeaky-clean, with more estate-agencies than seems at all necessary, a plethora of coffee houses, and all the trappings of early-twenty-first-century loft living, and viewed the Bridge from another, for Malcolm, new angle:

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Miss Marple of Muswell Hill?

A lazy, undemanding Saturday evening, with a nice Californian Cab and two back-to-back movies. OK, since you didn’t ask: last weekend’s freebie of Local Hero and the re-run of Von Ryan’s Express on BBC4.

Now, what was that about men’s tendency to re-watch old movies being a symptom of an inability to multi-task?

Sinatra had just heroically bought it in the last scene, to Trevor Howard’s approval. Malcolm’s lady was already off to bed, while Malcolm fed the wine-glasses to the dish-washer, turned off the lights, and …

A call from above.

Someone was going up the street, trying car door handles. Malcolm was told to ‘phone the Police. Malcolm knows better than to deny such a diktat, but was wondering what was the point.

Well, there was indeed a point.

Within minutes, the ‘phone rang. A male voice this time: what other information did we have?

Again, Malcolm mentally noted and approved what he assumed was merely a courtesy. This, surely, was as far as community policing could stretch in this day and age?

A few minutes elapsed again. A knock at the door. A quick effort at decency, and Malcolm was down to the front door. A police constable. Again, what had we seen?

The lady descended, rather better presented than Malcolm in his hastily-donned dressing-gown. Full explanations given. And so back to bed.

A further interim.

Then yet another visitation. Thanks from a beaming constable. An arrest had been made. Bang to rights, in possession of a sat-nat which came from a car further up the street.

And so, again, to bed.

Inevitably there ensued something of a post-mortem. Malcolm was more than surprised that the call had been acted on, and at closing-time on a Saturday night; and was delighted that a malefactor had been nailed.

But why?

Malcolm’s lady suggested her interest had been attracted by someone behaving oddly: she attributed it to skills learned over three decades in class-rooms.

Malcolm, however, felt it owed as much to being a nosey Northern-Irish bitch. It is a testimony to the general feeling of good-will the event had created that he was allowed to get away with voicing such a comment.

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