Monday, February 02, 2009

We've moved!

Femme de Resistance and LibertyCat are now blogging at Please change your links.

You can follow us on Twitter at

There are still some teething problems with the site, namely the frame redirect and the rollover links. Suggestions/advice from anyone geeky enough to understand what I've just written will be gratefully received!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Still moving

We're still moving to the new blog. The blogroll, graphics, etc. are now up. We're going to put a few posts up before moving everything across.

I suspect it will still have some teething problems, but hopefully those will get ironed out soon too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hull boy gets good

Prescott's new blog is really good. I'm not entirely surprised since his TV programme about class was great too.

I've no hesitation recommending him even though he lives in Kirkella, a very, very posh suburb of Hull.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Today's big question

Monday, January 26, 2009

Moving on

I'm planning to move from Forceful & Moderate to a Wordpress blog within the next few days.

The new blog will be under my real name. No one will be surprised to learn that Femme de Resistance is a pseudonym.

I'm going to be posting here and at the new blog for a while.

I'll feel sad blogging as something other than Forceful & Moderate since I've been here intermittently since 2003.

I'm just feeling the Forceful & Moderate brand is feeling increasingly claustrophobic.

But there we are - onwards and upwards!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The genius of Polly Toynbee

Guido has a wonderful description of Polly Toynbee as a:
Tuscan redistributionist friend of the down-trodden, the three-house-owning, multi-millionairess toff
I disagree with him, though, where he writes:
With the colourful prose that earns her £117,000 basic
It's not her prose that's making her the money. It's that her columns 'provoke'. One reason is she is unselfconsciously hypocritical beyond the dreams of Anthony 'Tony' Wedgewood Benn (formerly 2nd Viscount Stansgate).

Another is she sounds superficially intellectual, while being totally clueless about, for example, finance. This convinces people who agree with her that she's a great thinker while provoking anger and incredulity in those who don't. Intentionally or unintentionally - she's a genius columnist.

I'd like to reassure Tim Worstall that the purpose of a 'non-expert' column (and Polly certainly ain't an expert) is purely to 'provoke' or 'entertain'. No one with a brain listens to what she says "on matters of political import" since she doesn't have a column because of the quality of her opinions.

Her column is commissioned so people buy the paper or visit the website for purposes of praise or ridicule. While there, they might click or cut out an advert. She's the ultimate example of journalism being the stuff shoehorned between the ads.

If you want rid of her - ignore her. Without the oxygen of publicity, she can't make money for advertisers anymore.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Lynne F and scary London housing: a hair-raising tale of floods and narrow escapes

Lynne Featherstone writes about a Haringey woman who was trapped in a two-room, larvae-invested flat for nine years.

After going in "to do battle" with the council, the lady and her family are rehoused.

Unimaginably appalling council housing is a common problem in east and parts of north London (Haringey is in north London).

While on a placement at an east London newspaper, we were called by a hysterical woman who claimed she had lost all her possessions due to water pouring through her ceiling. She said the problem had been going on for three years, she kept having to buy new furniture, the flat stank and was covered in mould, and she was suffering respiratory problems.

I was disgusted and wanted to go down there, but the editor cautioned me. He said that it would have to be truly, unimaginably shocking for them to cover it. Unfortunately, he said, there was so much disgusting housing in the area that they could fill the newspaper every week with stories about it.

I saw this first hand when I went to an estate in east London to interview people about delays to renovation work. One woman said she had to repaint every month because of the amount of mould growing up her walls. Everyone was unhappy about the state of the housing and worried about drug addicts.

The area where I was interviewing looked quite nice. However, the next day I had to go to find the estate tenants' association. It was in the centre of a courtyard surrounded by low-rise brick buildings. Around half the flats in each building were boarded up and there was rubbish piled in the stairway. Windows were hanging off the hinges of some occupied flats. There was no lift and, while I was there, I saw a milkman lugging a pallet of milk to the third floor. Long strips of black paint hung off the bottom of the balconies.

The tenants' association looked like a prison with razor wire on top of a high fence, bars over the windows and a metal door. The association was locked so I decided see if the manager arrived. While I was waiting, I was told by two burly blokes that they wouldn't hang around since the boarded-up flats opposite used to be a crack den.

I can't even begin to imagine what it was like for families living around that courtyard.

*For those who wonder what happened to the flood lady, it turned out that her flat was fine. There was no sign of flood damage and it looked better than some student flats I've lived in. She constantly insisted the flat was so smelly and contaminated that she couldn't survive in it. I tried to nod sympathetically as she shouted and gestured aggressively about the flat, watched by a silent teenager who looked like he did body building (I'm assuming it was her son). I have never run so fast in my life.

Brilliant link from Dizzy