Saturday, April 21, 2012

Ched Evans, a rape and the case of an increasingly ignorant mob

Your Reaper knows Caernarfon in North Wales quite well. Before upping sticks to go and spend the rest of my life with Miss Reaper, it was a town that he lived some 45 minutes away from. Yesterday afternoon was an eventful one for in the Crown Court for the town best known for its castle. The Sheffield United footballer Ched Evans was found guilty of the rape of a woman known in court documents simply as R, and was sentenced to a five-year stretch inside. His teammate Clayton McDonald was acquitted of the same charge.

Since then, I have been disturbed not only by the number of people who have taken to Twitter to express support for Evans, but those who are referring to the woman in question in some extremely disturbing ways. Call me old-fashioned if you like, but I certainly don't think that it's acceptable to refer to a rape victim as a "slut", an "attention-seeking whore" and quite possibly the most distasteful that I've seen to date, a "money-grabbing cunt". At best, the people who are saying these things are incredibly ignorant. At worst, they're downright offensive.

Your Reaper does not know for sure whether the astonishing ignorance being shown over this story is because media coverage of it is cloaked in legal terminology that most people simply don't understand, or if it's nothing more than people jumping on the bandwagon without doing any research first. Either way, I don't think that the media is doing anywhere near enough to try and explain the verdict in this case properly. As far as I'm aware, there are very few restrictions now in place on the reporting of this case, so it worries me that a humble blogger has to try and dispel some of the myths going around.

All I am able to say by law about the woman is that she is a 19-year old waitress. Her nightmare began last year on May 30th, a Bank Holiday. The woman had been drinking on a night out. Samples taken at the time indicated there were traces of cocaine and cannabis in her system, although it must be pointed out she denies taking them on the night in question. It's understood that she had consumed around two glasses of wine, four double vodkas with lemonade and a shot of sambuca.

Which is where the first criticism comes in. Some have questioned whether the woman in question would have actually been able to get drunk on such a quantity of alcohol. This one is a no-brainer - the answer is, quite simply, yes. Whilst the likes of your Reaper likes to make sure he's well-fed before drinking alcohol, not everyone approaches it in the same way that I do. Let's face it. We have all ended up taking a drink or two with an empty stomach before, and it doesn't do anyone any good. This theory also fails to consider the possibility that one of her drinks was spiked.

Later in the evening, she somehow ended up at the Premier Inn hotel in Rhuddlan. She claims to have next to no idea what happened between leaving a dancing session with friends earlier in the evening and waking up the following morning, so how she ended up here remains a mystery. Whilst here, she ended up having sex with Clayton McDonald. Which leads nicely to the next point, and a chance to answer one of the few legitimate questions that is being raised by the merry band of supporters that Evans seem to have on Twitter.

Why is it that McDonald was acquitted of rape, but that Evans was not? I'll try and explain this as briefly as possible. In the case of McDonald, he most probably ended up in the hotel room with her from the beginning. He may well have paid for the room - we simply don't know. This suggests that the woman in question might well have consented to spending some time with him and to eventually having sex with him - in the circumstances, it is very difficult to see how you could convict a man who was in this situation. Evans, however, was NOT invited to the hotel room - he invited himself over.

The one other complaint that I would like to deal with is the less than kind comments being aimed at the victim of this rape. Although I have seen this accusation made repeatedly over the last 24 hours or so, it was probably put least eloquently by a fellow Sheffield United player Connor Brown, pictured here. In a series of tweets, he claimed that the law was "a load of fucking shit" and that the victim in question was a "money-grabbing little tramp". These tweets have since been deleted and Brown has protected his Twitter account, restricting how many people can access it.

Exactly what these kinds of words say about Brown is not something that I'm going to go into here, but the implication of his words is pretty clear. He appears to be saying that the woman in question wasn't actually raped, but rather, this was a deliberate plan. The men, so goes his narrative, were lured into the bedroom by a knicker-dropping woman who planned to sell her story to the tabloids for a large sum. To say that this kind of thinking is insulting is a given, but it also shows that Brown clearly has no idea how the law works.

Under the law, rape victims are entitled to anonymity throughout the entire process. They cannot be named whilst the men are on trial, they cannot be named in the case of a not guilty verdict and they cannot be named in the case of a guilty verdict. Their anonymity is safe, and any media that breaches this rule can find itself subject to heavy fines and penalties. Rape victims are permitted to speak to the media, although when any form of cash payment is being made - whether to the victim or to a rape victims charity - they lose their anonymity.

Whilst the woman in question might well wish to speak out in order to warn others about the possible dangers of her experience, has anyone considered the fact that she might now just want to be left alone to get on with her life? She is only 19. It would be incredibly unfair and damaging if, at such a young age, she were to be branded and identified according to this terrible nightmare which she has been through. Bear that in mind before making such crass accusations.

I will leave the final words to this tweet from TalkSport Drive, which has been very heavily retweeted in the past 24 hours. It's something that your Reaper takes some encouragement from amidst this sorry saga and words that true sports supporters should think about very carefully.

All these footballers tweeting support for Ched Evans need to have a long hard look at themesleves. What if it was your sister?
22 hours ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

I concur with the sentiments entirely.

* Readers are more than welcome to leave their comments on this post below, whether they are positive or negative. I'm even prepared to host comments which question whether the conviction was right. However, if anyone decides to start posting abuse towards the victim, I won't hesitate to delete your comments.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Actor who's married isn't actually married? (Part 10)

If the actor who likes us to think he's married when he isn't is hoping that the demise of this blog signals the end of this series, he is going to be very much disappointed. I was going to reserve the next part of this series for the new blog, The Grim Reaper's Den, which is coming along quite nicely. I'm hoping it will be ready to launch for April. However, in recent weeks, I have had a considerable amount of new information arrive. This includes an exchange of emails with a woman he previously had an affair with - I know, I know, that hardly narrows it down much.

Oh yes, there's also new details that I wasn't aware of previously. Quite a lot, in fact. The series will continue properly on the new blog. In the meantime, here's some little nuggets about the mother of two in her thirties whom he had arguably his most blatant affair with. I'm told that she is currently trying to save her marriage, and I have no wish to do anything that would harm that. Whilst one could certainly judge her for her behaviour, the behaviour of the man in question is considerably worse. Manipulative, deceptive and aggressive hardly scratch the surface.

However, I had been wondering exactly how she had met this man, and I've discovered some interesting information. Many of them followed a similar pattern, but this one was slightly different to the rest. Most of them followed him on Twitter, said they enjoyed his work, and then chat moved to DMs and emails before eventually moving offline and into often darker territory. Not this one, though. For she appears to have quite a few contacts in the celebrity world.

Here, for example, is a picture of the woman in question meeting Philip Schofield in March 2009. The picture is taken off her Facebook page and at the time of writing is publicly accessible. It probably won't be for much longer, though. I have blacked out her image here for the sake of her own privacy, but I understand this picture was taken after winning VIP tickets for Dancing On Ice, which included a chance to meet some of the celebs backstage afterwards.

Your Reaper has also come across some pictures of the woman in question and her family, but because I consider myself to be a blogger who exercises a sense of responsibility, (not to mention bears in mind his legal obligations under the Human Rights Act and others) none of them will be getting published here. I'm not going to drag anyone's children into this sordid mess.

For the avoidance of any doubt, and also because celebrities are litigious fuckers at the best of times, there is absolutely no suggestion being made here that Philip Schofield is in any way involved in this story.

More developments on this story soon...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's the story, Grim Reaper Bloggy?

This is a question that your Reaper has been getting asked a number of
times in recent weeks. It's a fair cop and I'm not complaining about
such queries. If anything, I rather welcome them. It would be
downright hypocritical if a blogger like myself who demands
accountability of others were to evade questioning himself. Therefore,
I have a few things to explain.

In my previous post, I said that the new blog, which I can confirm
will be called The Grim Reaper's Den, would be starting in January.
Indeed, the new one is being advertised on my Twitter feed. However,
it is now near enough to the end of February - what a short month this
one has been, eh? - and The Den remains nowhere to be seen. What the
hell's going on? Well, it's a combination of a few things.

Ever since I got myself into a very difficult place in my private life
last year, I haven't really been focused on blogging at all. Twitter
helps me to keep up on things, but I must admit I do miss having
somewhere that I can post my own thoughts on the issues of the day -
not to mention a few things that the powers that be would rather you
didn't know. That said though, blogging can be immensely
time-consuming and occasionally quite draining. There's only so much
time one has each day and like it or not, there have been other things
to get on with. Thankfully, I'm now in a much better position in my
private life and am moving forward in a lot of ways.

The other issue has been the template. I have decided that the new
blog will be on Wordpress, partly because it works a lot better on
mobile phones. I'm aware that many of you read the blog from an
iPhone, BlackBerry, HTC and the like, and I want to make it as easy as
possible for you to read it. Plus BlackBerry has an useful app for
updating a blog from your smartphone - a slightly selfish
consideration on your Reaper's part, as he readily admits.
Unfortunately, all has not gone well. A few tests have shown the
current template displays badly, and I'm having to rework it. A
limited knowledge of HTML is proving restrictive, although I am
gradually learning more on that side.

I do hope to be blogging again as soon as possible, I really do. I
have a small team of writers that will be contributing regularly to
the blog, and guest authors will always be welcome. I intend to be the
editor of the new blog, but that won't mean a great deal in practice.
The writers in question are supremely talented individuals. Some of
them will already be known on Twitter and are already blogging. Others
are less established on the blogging scene, but have written for local
and national newspapers. I think it could prove a very useful mix, and
hopefully it will prove more of a success than I suspect the upcoming
Sun on Sunday is going to be...

Incidentally, it's not too late to apply if you want to write on the
blog. Just send me an email explaining who you are and why you want to
write there. Try and provide samples of past pieces where possible.
The ability to think independently is crucial, as is the ability to
write in both an informative and entertaining way at the same time.
This isn't going to be like the Independent or the minefield of tedium
that is Telegraph Blogs.

Oh, and applications from anyone who thinks Ryan Giggs is a cunt are
currently especially welcome. As soon as I have a launch date for the
blog, I shall let you all know. Any questions, just stick them in the
comments.

P.S. Yes, the title of the post is inspired by the Britpop battles of
the 1990s as we were all reminded of last night with Blur's appearance
at the Brit awards. You may decipher from this that I am not a fan of
Blur. I think that would be most mischievous...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Want to write for the new place, do you?

As your Reaper outlined in his previous post, some changes are coming to his blogging career. Most notably, my solo career as a lone ranger is coming to an end. As much as I would like it to, blogging simply does not pay the bills, and I do have other things to do.

Whilst this blog has been successful beyond any expectations I had - over 380,000 views in just over a year have taken place, which I find incredible - it has come at a high cost in terms of time. Maintaining a blog and posting several pieces a day, as well as responding to people's comments and keeping an eye on what's being said on Twitter simply became too much for one man. To a lesser extent, spending so much time on blogging can also be to the detriment of immediate friends and family. It's hard to have a conversation with someone when you're also replying to a tweet - it just doesn't look right, you know?

By this stage, plans for the new blog are at a fairly advanced stage and I'm looking forward to starting it. I'm hoping to kick off in January with a combination of what you're used to now from this blog along with some slightly different material. Which is where some of the people who are reading this post might come in. How do you fancy writing for my new blog?

There are only a few things which I ask for. You need to be able to write and you need to be able to think for yourself. A brain is the only thing which I absolutely must insist on. You'll be allowed to write about any subject that you want with almost no restrictions whatsoever. There will be no hanging around waiting for a post to be published by me either - you get to publish immediately or schedule its posting time without editorial approval.

I want people who know a thing or two about the world, and who are prepared to say what they believe, even if it risks making them deeply unpopular as they do it. I want people who are unpredictable, but not too unpredictable. Whilst it's good that readers know what to expect when they visit a blog, it's also good to give them a surprise from time to time. Though writing something just to shock people in itself is rarely a good idea. I also have no problem with having writers who are members of a political party, as long as they declare that and they aren't shameless tribalists.

I don't care if you already run your own blog and have done so for several years or if you've never done a day's blogging in your life. I don't care if you want to do it for your own entirely selfish reasons, or even if you think I'm a prat. If you're interested in writing regularly for the blog, I'd like to hear from you.

Guest authors will also be welcome at the new place. People will occasionally be invited to contribute something, or people can ask to do so themselves. I have no problem with either. People of all political persuasions and none are welcome to write as guests, but bear in mind that a large percentage of my current readers lean towards the libertarian side of the political scale. Therefore, if you are a far-left communist arguing in favour of renationalising the railways, you probably will get a negative reaction.

Finally, although I intend to be an accommodating editor and probably the one who'll give you the most freedom to write as you please, I do have to impose one or two restrictions on authors. Here they are:

1. You cannot use this as a platform to libel someone or publish blatant untruths. I'm not interested in conspiracy theories about certain politicans being closet paedophiles, for instance. There are plenty of other sites if reading that kind of drivel interests you.

2. Don't even think about breaking a court order or injunction - though feel free to sail close to the wind as this blog often does on such matters, especially when you are dealing with gossip along the lines of who has been shagging who. You are particularly welcome, for example, to write cryptically about the 195-carat actor and family man that is Hugh Bonneville, who is mentioned in passing here for absolutely no reason. Calling him Hugh Bonnefail and using unflattering images of him are encouraged.

3. Anyone - and I mean ANYONE - who holds a critical opinion of Kelly Brook is ineligible to apply. Seriously. No matter how good a writer you are, this is one thing I simply will not tolerate. Regular readers will know why. This blog loves the woman known as Teh Kelly, and this love/infatuation/obsession will continue on the new one. And anyone who comes onto the new blog to slag her off will be dealt with in a similar manner. Here is a quick montage of Kelly Brook pictures before we resume.


Moving on...

4. If you hold positive views on Ed Balls, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband, David Cameron, Vince Cable, Gordon Brown or most other politicians this blog regularly had a go at, you're probably best keeping that to yourself. Anyone who's a member of a political party is welcome to apply, but that is something that should be declared. Us bloggers cannot seriously demand transparency of others if we are not open about our own interests.

Finished reading this and still interested in writing on the new blog? Send me an email from here telling me who you are, why you want to write on the blog and ideally, show me a few examples of anything you may have done in the past. All applications will be considered and feedback given. If you've taken the time to apply, it's only fair that I take the time to respond. There's no formal closing date, but as I do wish to start the blog within around a month's time, it might be best to get in there quickly.

Good luck and see you on the new site!

Monday, November 14, 2011

My future plans for the blog

Recently, some people who have been following me on my Twitter feed (for those who don't, I can be found publishing thoughts, rants, opinions and various salacious filth on @grimreaperblog) have asked me when I intend to make my return to blogging. I thought I would take a little bit of time in order to answer this question, as some of you seem to be harbouring the impression that your Reaper has decided to call it a day on his online journal.

Let's make this absolutely clear now - I haven't quit blogging. Some of you will be relieved to hear it, others will be disappointed by the news, and many won't give a shit either way. Writing is one of few things that I'm good at in life, and I intend to keep doing it for several more years - you won't be getting rid of me that easily. I think the blogosphere in the UK has yet to develop fully, and I still find it an exciting and interesting area to be involved in. After a quiet period following the General Election last year, bloggers are once again starting to find their voices as they adjust to the depressing reality that almost everything is exactly the same under the coalition as it was under Gordon Brown and I take heart from seeing the level of mockery and derision that Nick Clegg receives from the blogs.

Recently however, other matters have had to take precedence, such as sorting out my life after creating one hell of a mess earlier this year. Whilst 2011 has been a great year in some ways, it has been unremittingly dreadful in others. Yet the blog was one of those things that helped keep me going during the darkest days, when I thought all was lost. In a sense, it provided a helpful distraction. Instead of settling into self-pity, I could concentrate on writing up a blogpost or two, then think again about sorting my life out, feeling slightly less worn down. It's not healthy to have only one or two things to concentrate on in life, and the blog often helped deal with the occasional feeling that my life was simply too narrow in focus.

During my self-imposed hiatus, I have drastically increased my Twitter presence, and this is something I've enjoyed. It's a medium which I considered utterly pointless when I first joined it in August last year, but is now a startlingly useful source for news, information and punchy analysis on the issues of our time. The reality is though that I simply wouldn't have time to maintain the blog as prolifically in the past as well as retain my presence tweeting. Something has therefore had to give. Which is why I have decided that I will make a return to blogging, but it's going to be a little bit different to what it is now.

You'll still get your usual mixture of political commentary, showbiz gossip, talk about the latest trends and zeitgeists, all with a large dose of women's breasts, scurrilous gossip and what we think are amusing anecdotes blended into the mix. Fans, detractors and assorted window-lickers would expect nothing less, and they need not fear that the blog is about to become something staid and boring like Conservative Home. That said, some things do have to change.

I've made the decision to launch a new group blog which will be getting off the ground, provided all goes well, in January 2012. As well as myself, it will have a fairly small group of writers, all with their own views and their own writing styles, but all with the same love of politics, cultural matters, sordid gossip and who are also secretly a little too keen to get their voices heard. I would sincerely like to launch it sooner, but I'm simply going to be too busy over the next two months to manage it, so it's just going to have to wait until the New Year. Bills do have to be paid for, as well as the impending wedding.

Although at the time of publication I haven't decided exactly what the name of the new blog will be, though rest assured that the words Grim Reaper will be in it somewhere or somehow. I'm hoping to create something quite distinctive in the process and just like now, the blog won't be slavishly following the news agenda or whatever is currently trending - though they do occasionally influence your Reaper to write. There are also slightly selfish reasons for this change, as there will no longer be as much pressure on myself to come up with the goods several times a day.

Nor have I made any final decisions on who will be writing for it. I have already decided on one person who will soon be receiving a formal request from myself to join the team, and Miss Reaper may well be a writer on the blog, though not necessarily using that name. Miss Reaper doesn't actually like being called Miss Reaper, you may be interested to learn. What ARE you modern women like, eh...

More details on this, and information about how you could have the chance of joining your Reaper's team will be published in the coming days. This blog here will remain in an archived state, but there won't be much else going on here - all the action will be moving over to the new place.

* Oh yes, and to the people asking about the series on the actor who's married but isn't actually married, the next part of the series has been delayed after a woman who knows the man well pulled out of an interview where she could publish her side of the story. Her loss, but if there is anyone else out there who would want to speak to me, just email me on the normal address.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Your Reaper, the Hillsborough Disaster and Kelvin Mackenzie

Earlier today, your Reaper noticed that Kelvin Mackenzie's name was trending on Twitter. Usually, when a person's name is trending on the network, it either means they have done something that is noteworthy for any possible reason or that they have died.

There's also a third, and more rare, reason that occasionally pops up - this is when a person is trending for no other reason than people keep asking why that person is trending. All we do know for certain at this point is that Kelvin Mackenzie was trending on Twitter earlier today. Why would that have been?

Allow me to enlighten you. This week, the Government has confirmed that it will release all the documents that they hold on the Hillsborough disaster. This was a human crush that occurred on 15th April 1989 that resulted in 766 injuries and 96 deaths. All those injured or killed were Liverpool FC fans who had come that day to witness an FA Cup semi-final tie between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The match was abandoned after six minutes of play when disaster struck.

The official inquiry into the disaster, the Taylor Report concluded that "the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control.". One of the consequences of the report was that all standing terraces at major football grounds in England and Scotland were eliminated. Much confusion did the rounds at the time, as the media reported a number of inaccuracies. However, by far the worst of these was committed by The Sun newspaper on April 19th, 1989. They printed a front page headed "THE TRUTH" which contained a number of outrageous claims that were quickly proven to be lies.

The editor at the time was Kelvin Mackenzie, a man whom your Reaper has little time for. He was forced by Rupert Murdoch to apologise for running these stories, and The Sun has also repeatedly said sorry in the paper for doing so. The paper had essentially said that Liverpool fans had contributed to the disaster - the basis of most of these claims was that a number of fans were drunk and urinated on those who were injured or gradually being crushed to death, and that some had entered the grounds without a valid ticket. Lord Taylor's official report found that these were secondary factors, very much in the "They certainly didn't help" category. Accusations of urinating on fellow fans made by The Sun were entirely false.

Many Liverpudlians were left extremely angry by what had happened, and were deeply offended by The Sun's reporting. Whilst I am quick to condemn those who are easy to take offence, this is not one of those instances. People were right to be disgusted, and boycotts of the paper in the city were entirely understandable. I took to Twitter this afternoon to do what I always do - to express my view. I told Scousers and others who were yet again calling for an apology from Mackenzie for what had happened to "get over it" and to move on.

Now, when I look back on some of my tweets this afternoon, I have to accept some of them could perhaps have been worded differently. Indeed, the use of the phrase "get over it" and I apologise if anyone was offended by my use of the term. Given the subject matter at hand, it was a rather crass thing to say. I'm going to take the opportunity here to make one or two points and to clarify my views on this. Regrettably, one of the disadvantages of Twitter as a tool for debate is the 140-character limit.

Let me state from the outset that I am entirely in favour of the government's decision to release papers and documents connected to the event. It has been clear for a long time now that the original investigation into the disaster was flawed. For example, the process of the inquests into the deaths remains a source of controversy. At the time, the official coroner, Dr Stefan Popper, limited the main inquest to events to 3.15 pm on the day of the disaster, a mere 9 minutes after the match was halted and the crowd began to spill onto the pitch. His reasoning was that all of the victims were either dead or brain dead by this time.

Now, I do not doubt the professionalism of Dr Popper at all here, but this decision was plain wrong. The immediate implication of this decision was that the inquest would be unable to consider the response of the police and the other emergency services after that time, who were already drowning under a torrent of criticism. Out of 44 ambulances that arrived that afternoon, the police refused to allow 43 of them into the stadium. That was a decision which could well have ensured more people perished than would otherwise have done, and it has never been properly scrutinised.

Attempts to reopen the original inquest, which returned a verdict of accidental death, have repeatedly failed. Take the case of Anne Williams, who lost her 15-year-old son Kevin Williams on that dreadful day. She went to the European Court of Human Rights on the strength of witness statements that her son was still showing signs of life at 4pm. Her case was rejected in March 2009. Earlier this year, the Hillsborough Independent Panel confirmed they were going to examine previously-hidden documents to determine what took place after the 3.15pm cut off imposed during the inquest of 1991. The Government's decision to release all documents on this relates to them.

People have a right to be angry about these matters. I do not know why the matter was not properly investigated the first time round. It might simply have been in order to keep costs down, it might have been incompetence on the part of the system or it could have been the influence of various groups keen to ensure their own weaknesses and failings were not disclosed for public scrutiny. I, too, am angry at the thought that a matter of such importance has not been investigated more thoroughly. And yet, what gets people more worked up on this subject than anything else?

It's what Kelvin Mackenzie and The Sun newspaper reported on 19th April 1989. Pardon my impertinence here, but is there a slight possibility that people are getting their priorities wrong? Mackenzie has said he's sorry, although he retracted this in 2006, saying "I wasn't sorry then and I'm not sorry now". Calls for him to apologise again, therefore, are rather pointless. If he didn't mean it back then, why on earth would he mean it now? As far as Mackenzie is concerned, little has changed. The only difference is that he used to be at The Sun, whereas he is now a columnist at the Daily Mail, having joined the paper earlier this year.

Whilst editor Paul Dacre will be keen to make sure his paper is not tarnished by Mackenzie's past, there remains little point in demanding apologies. It would be a scene reminiscent of the questioning of some of the big bankers by a select committee two years ago, where bankers queued up to apologise for the failings of their banks. Those apologies were manufactured and completely insincere - and Mackenzie's apology would be just that. Surely an insincere apology would be far more insulting than no apology at all?

I know that he hurt a lot of people that day, and I know that a lot of people feel they have been denied justice. With all due respect however, that is not the fault of Kelvin Mackenzie. His paper may well have printed outrageous lies, but it was not Kelvin Mackenzie that caused the overcrowding in that stadium. It was not Kelvin Mackenzie that refused to allow ambulances into the stadium. And it was not Kelvin Mackenzie who held an inquest whose scope was so limited that it was rendered almost worthless. He is essentially being used as a scapegoat by people who are more interested in having someone to blame than they are in seeing the truth come out. No one is pretending that Mackenzie's conduct in this was anything less than utterly appalling, but he's not the one that caused the Hillsborough disaster.

It has now been over 22 years since the disaster happened. Instead of continuing to pointlessly aim your anger at one journalist who made some breathtakingly stupid and offensive claims at the time, aim your anger at the authorities who have been denying the families and the victims the justice that they truly deserve.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Actor who's married isn't actually married? (Part 9)

Your Reaper had received a few complaints after Part 7 of this unexpectedly long-running series on a certain actor and comedian who has quite a lot he wishes to hide from the public. I was told that it wasn't exciting enough, and for some reason, many people were expecting rather more in the way of revelations that would titillate the masses along with Teh Injunction Cat. So I shall make up for it now with quite a lot more information about this man's extra-curricular activities.

We've all heard of people having an affair - we've even heard about people having two or three affairs behind their partner's back. What you may not have seen before however, and I certainly haven't, is someone having affairs with no less than SIX different women.

That's as many as I have been able to establish definitely happened, and there could have been as many as ten and possibly even more. All of them occurred in the past few years, and the majority of them overlapped one another. He even had a woman in her twenties whom he would often meet up with for BDSM sessions, followed by unprotected sex when he was performing a show - a comedy show, that is - in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Whether he still does is not something I have been able to establish.

He also had dalliances with a number of women who lived in London and other cities which this comedian occasionally attends for either stand-up performances or for various TV work - of which he's had a lot less lately, incidentally. His most recent appearance involved a cameo appearance in a video for a jazz-style cover of an old song. He comes across as a ridiculous old prat who'll do anything for money. Strangely enough, this is increasingly how many people in the national media, who are aware of the truth about this man, view him. He has very little else in the way of work nowadays, and has had several job offers withdrawn over the past few months by employers who don't wish to be tarnished should the truth emerge.

How did he meet all these different women throughout the country? Well, the exact details vary with each woman, but generally speaking, all of them occurred via Twitter and Facebook, on which he used a number of fake profiles. A number of them still exist, showing the man clearly has no idea how to cover his tracks. Most of the women are based in and around London, where the actor spends the majority of his time, but others are based in various cities around the UK where the man often goes to in his lines of ever-dwindling work.

Each of the women had different personalities and characters, and each had different thresholds of pain whilst being whipped. All of whom, however, have a disturbing enthusiasm for unprotected sex. I understand that one of the women claims to have got pregnant with his baby, but I have no way of verifying if there's any truth in this rumour. He also hired prostitutes occasionally, although given that he may face criminal prosecution over one such incident, he has stopped doing so for the time being. Although there is no such sign of him applying such caution elsewhere - he continues to frequent forums under pseudonyms to this day.

However, his most blatant affair took place with a married mother of two children who is in her early thirties. Her husband knew nothing until recently about her secret life with this man. Your Reaper has previously spoken to this woman via Twitter, and she comes across as quite a pleasant person with a fairly distinctive sense of humour. When asked by myself recently about the actor in question, her defence of the man was lukewarm, and I struggled to understand why. After all, I was told that she had fallen in love with the man, and I also hear that the man claimed he would leave his partner to be with her - a lie which she wanted to believe so badly.

In the end, of course, he didn't. The married mother occasionally contacts the actor, but seldom receives any response. The man, quite simply, isn't interested. He has moved on to conquests new, and continues to look for women on a regular basis...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Actor who's married isn't actually married? (Part 8)

Your Reaper regrets the delay in publishing the next episode of this long-running series about a certain actor and comedian who has an awful lot to hide from the public. I was ready to publish one that had a considerable amount of information in it, revealing the true extent of the actor's cheating and lying, but I'm afraid that I have to issue a correction before I continue.

I have tried hard during this series to make sure that everything that I publish is accurate. There are tight legal constraints in place over the matter, and it isn't my wish to end up on a contempt of court charge. I have previously stated that the actor in question likes the world to think that he was happily married to a pottery artist. This mystery got deeper and deeper, and now I have heard where exactly this story came from. It appears it may not have been the actor who was responsible for it after all.

A reader contacts me with the details. As he understands it, the edits to the actor's Wikipedia entry were inserted by someone, presumably female, who had previously edited his page to state that she loved him. Whether this editor had any link to the actor is not known, but the edits were made around January 2010. The claim about him being married was inserted at around the same time and was only corrected a short time after your Reaper started this series. Someone had clearly worked out who the actor was.

Perhaps this was a slip-up by your Reaper and I do apologise for it. That said, I don't think I have done too much wrong here - certainly not from the actor's perspective. The man in question is, according to his friends, quite a vain and insecure person who keeps a close eye on what is written about him online and in the more traditional media. Which makes it all the more surprising he didn't wish to correct the record. Then again, he used to tell the women that he met up with for BDSM sessions and unprotected sex that he was a single, 41-year old man with no children.

In reality, he is a few years older than that, and has been in a relationship, though not married, for almost twenty years and has two children of his own. I may well have made a mistake here, but I think someone else has made a far greater mistake. And as you'll soon discover in Part 9, the true scale of what he likes to get up to has yet to emerge...

This post has been amended since it was first written. The original stated that the actor in question had been married for almost two decades. This is not the case. As pointed out by an eagle-eyed reader, he is not married, but he has been in a long-term relationship for almost two decades with the same woman. Apologies for the unfortunate error.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Actor who's married isn't actually married? (Part 7)

This actor and comedian, who has previously appeared on the BBC and been paid therefore with licence fee money, likes the world to think that he is married. It was the intriguing revelation that he was not that started this series in the first place. Your Reaper has been digging away at this mystery for some time now and has discovered the truth about the actor's marital status.

The reality is that the man has what could be defined as a long-term partner. Although I know the identity of the woman, I cannot reveal it because that would mean that he could also be identified. In order to get to the bottom of this mystery, I have had to dig into the newspaper archives of the past. The woman in question is an actress whom the actor and comedian in question met back in either 1989 or 1990. This was corroborated by an article which I have seen from The Independent way back in 1994 - which is available online, much to my surprise.

Further to the mystery is that the actor's own website does not actually state what his marital status is, and that the actress herself may well be happy with this state of affairs. The actress, with Lark Rise to Candleford connections, gave an interview to a Scottish newspaper in February 2010. The interview notes that she lives in London with her three children - two of whom she had with the actor, and one which was born from a previous relationship. More telling, however, is the publication of her partner's name. Only his first name is published - his surname does not appear - and he is referred to as her "husband".

At the time of writing, your Reaper does not know whether the two are still together - although my understanding is that the woman concerned knew nothing about her partner's sexual proclivities until rumours started to appear on the internet a few months ago. And as I will disclose in Part 8 soon, the true extent of his cheating has yet to emerge.

* For a reminded of previous editions of this series, just click here.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Following England's dismal performance last night...

...against Wales in the football, one has to beg the question - what gives? They may well have won the game thanks to Ashley Young's rather good goal at 35 minutes, but it was more due to luck than anything else that Wales' Robert Earnshaw missed an open goal with only 13 minutes to spare. Capello was reduced to a shambles afterwards, meekly arguing that the England team don't play well when they're at Wembley. Your Reaper would point out in response that England don't play well most of the time nowadays, and that Capello may well hold more than a little bit of the blame for that.

However, might there be a possibility that one or two of the footballers in the team have their minds on matters off the pitch? There haven't been any injunctions granted to any footballers for months - the last major one was granted to CTB, the man named in Parliament as Ryan Giggs. Are we expected to believe that the legions of cash-wielding footballers have collectively and suddenly decided not to have sex with women who aren't their wives or girlfriends?

Just thinking out aloud...

Monday, September 05, 2011

The tragic case of Cecelia Ingraham

An interesting case reaches your Reaper from the USA and reported on Mail Online. It concerns a woman called Cecelia Ingraham, whose only child was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in 2003. Despite having fought it off, it returned in 2005 and she died in May that year. Naturally enough, as a mother who had lost her only daughter, she was heartbroken. What happened next is... well, here it is.

She had worked for Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical since 1994, and kept pictures of her daughter and her ballet slippers at her cubicle at work. She also had a tendency to talk about the death of her daughter constantly. So much so that employees started complaning about the matter. They said she was making them feel "uncomfortable" and causing a "disruption". After leaving the company, Ingraham sued the pharmaceutical company for emotional distress and constructive discharge. The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, found for the company.

This is a difficult one, but I think that the court got it right on this occasion. Now, I cannot begin to imagine just how devastating it is to lose a child, especially at such a young age. What happened was nothing short of a tragedy. However, as someone who is experiencing a difficult episode himself at the moment, I can tell you that there is little point endlessly dwelling over something that happened in the past. Nobody is saying that Ingraham needs to pretend her daughter never existed - that would be a ridiculous and insulting request.

The boss could well have dealt with this better, to say the least. Simply telling a grieving mother to stop talking about something is rather insensitive. That said, something had to be said, because things were clearly going too far. I would suggest that this woman seeks some counselling, not just for the sake of herself, but for everyone else around her.

Badger Brows and his not very interesting book

Your Reaper has never been interested in so-called political memoirs. By and large, I consider them self-serving books which are often full of admissions that should have been made far earlier, and are released simply in order to make a bit of money for a has-been politician. Which is why I have generally done everything in my power to ignore the latest one to come out - that of the former Chancellor Alistair Darling.

In the extracts which have made it into the press so far, he reveals a lot of stuff that we already knew. Apparently, Ed Balls wanted his job. Yeah. And he thought Gordon Brown was very hard to work with. These two things are nothing new, having heard them already a million times before from other sources. Yet people who should know far better are being taken in. Aren't there more important things to worry about right now than what Badger Brows thought of the former Prime Mentalist?

The Grim Reaper suggests that people spend a lot more time talking about present day problems and a lot less about the previous government, even if doing so does make Labour feel distinctly uncomfortable...

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Does London feel like an English city to you?

It's been many a time over the years that your Reaper has heard people saying that certain places no longer feel "English". In a past life of mine, I remember talking to a work colleague about the issue of immigration. His view was that there was far too much of it - to be honest, the bloke was a racist cunt, something which he freely admitted to, especially the second part.

Racism is something I have very little time for, but there was one point he made which I found hard to disagree with. He was talking specifically about the city of Bradford on that occasion. He said that he was in the city a few months earlier, and he couldn't help but think that it was like entering another world. All that he saw were these Asian faces and mosques - or as he put it less eloquently "The city's full of fucking Pakis. It's next to impossible to find a single English person in the place. Didn't stumble across a single one during my two days there".

Perhaps this is how I would feel about London. John Cleese seems to think the place no longer feels like an English city, and this has caused some consternation. I'll be perfectly honest - any contribution that I can make to this kind of debate is extremely limited. London is not a city that I have been to since 2005, when I visited a few times. I'll be visiting the city again in October - the reason being that Miss Reaper is going there on business and she's never been to the capital before. All that I would say is that if it wasn't for immigration, the city of London would stop functioning very quickly.

I honestly don't believe that this is an exaggeration. The last time I was there, I don't think I heard a single Cockney voice. The hotel that I was staying at was being run by an Indian family, and almost all the staff that I came across in the shops and supermarkets were foreigners. Or were they? There's simply no way of knowing. London is probably one of few truly multi-cultural areas of the UK - it's a nonsense to say that the UK is a multi-cultural country, but cities like London most definitely are.

Ultimately, I don't think that the experience of London would be any different to any other big cities, like New York or Paris or Berlin. I think that all those cities and many others I could name would have a United Nations of colours, and that they would be all the better off for it. Finally for now, however, I would have a suggestion to make to the California-based Mr Cleese since he feels this way. If you wish to help make London feel a more "English" place, why not come and live in the city yourself?

Do your bit. Put your money where your mouth is. Or is it not sunny enough in London for you?

Friday, September 02, 2011

Actor who's married isn't actually married (Part 6)

Although your Reaper is currently on a break from blogging, this is something which I have decided to write about. Just when I thought that I had reported everything about this particular man's curious private life, more information comes to light. And the information in this case is quite disturbing. For the man's sexual proclivities and love for BDSM could well be responsible for an investigation by the cops.

It appears that he was taking part in a BDSM session earlier this year, and was whipping two young women. It's alleged that they were prostitutes he had hired, but I am unable to find any confirmation for this. For all I know, it could well be just two of the women he had met through social networking sites under a pseudonym. As is often conventional during the engagement of this sexual practice, a "safe word" has been agreed.

If you don't know what that is, let me tell you. A safe word is a code word which is sometimes used by a submissive partner (in this case, it would have been the two women) to let the dominant partner (the actor in question) know that they were reaching a certain boundary or limit. They may well be reaching high levels of pain, for example. A safe word could be used to stop the scene entirely, though it can be used to indicate a willingness to continue with the practice, but with a lower level of intensity. In the BDSM community, the safe word is very much the equivalent of a Bible. Once the safe word has been mentioned, that's it. You back off.

Unfortunately, this man didn't get the message. According to an account which I have come across, the man in question was in the middle of a BDSM session with the two women, and one of them mentioned the safe word. I don't know what the word actually was, nor do I know whether the other woman proceeded to say it. My understanding is, however, that the man in question committed the ultimate sin by ignoring the safe word. He proceeded not only to continue whipping the woman, but actually increased the intensity with which he was doing so. The woman was allegedly left quite badly bruised by the encounter.

Indeed, it was so bad that the woman in question decided to go to the police, who are currently investigating the matter. It remains to be seen whether any criminal charges are brought forward against this person, but the level of violence must have been very serious for a sex worker to contact the cops about it. Increasingly, it appears that one of the reasons that this man's injunction was granted was because publication of the details at this present time, alongside his name, could well pose a risk if this matter were ever to come to trial.

Whilst this is perhaps understandable, it doesn't explain why he still hasn't told his partner about any of this. As someone who is encountering a period of difficulty himself - although nowhere near as bad as this - your Reaper has some advice for this actor and comedian. Quite simply, you really should tell her about this. She will probably be devastated to find out just how terrible a partner you have been, and it could well destroy your relationship entirely, yet it's vital that you tell her. If you have any respect for her, you would tell her. This is a horrendous burden for any one person to carry. You'd be surprised just how people can respond when you're honest with them.

-------------------------------
Oh, and if you can't be bothered going back through the blog's archives, here is a brief summary of everything else that I have previously written in this series. Links are available should they titillate your interest as much as they do for Teh Injunction Cat.

Part 1: We discovered that the man is an actor and a comedian, working and living in the UK. He wants the public to believe that he is a happily married man, in a marriage which has produced children. How many children is something he has never specified, but he has referred in the past to his "daughters", suggesting there are at least two. In reality, he is not a married man, and has never been one. He's actually in a long-term partnership with a woman that he has no intention of ever taking down the aisle.

Part 2: I reported that this man obtained a strict privacy injunction some months ago in order to prevent allegations about his BDSM activities from being reported in the newspapers. The man in question had been in the public eye discussing a matter of some public interest, but went strangely quiet shortly after the injunction was granted, and cancelled a number of public appearances. Perhaps this was the advice he was given by his lawyers, I do not know. I also disclosed that used a variety of pseudonyms on social networking websites in order to find women to whip and have unprotected sex with, and that he may well have caught an STD in the process. None of which his long-term partner knows anything about.

Part 3: The man has a number of sexual fantasies. There is nothing wrong with the idea of a sexual fantasy, I'm not saying that at all. However, this one would raise several eyebrows if it were to emerge about him. In 1974, an Italian film was released called The Night Porter, starring Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling. In the film, Dirk played the role of Maximilian Theo Aldorfer, a former Nazi SS officer. Charlotte Rampling, meantime, played Lucia Atherton, a concentration camp survivor. The two had what could be defined as an unconventional relationship. Whilst Max could be seen in the film tormenting Lucia, he could be seen in others acting as her protector. Indeed, from what I hear, many of his fantasies appear to be about Nazi pornography and abduction.

Part 4: Despite his increasingly questionable sexual proclivities nearly having been outed in the newspapers a few months earlier, I revealed that the comedian in question STILL frequents internet forums and message boards under pseudonyms looking for young women to beat up and act out fantasies which involve unprotected sexual intercourse.

Part 5: This episode revealed that talk about the actor's extra-curricular activites was beginning to emerge on the internet, something which he has done nothing to quell. A few months ago, a profile appeared on a website which belonged to this man - under one of his several pseudonyms. The profile had not been logged into for quite some time, although that does not necessarily mean he did not frequent the website. The man proceeded to show how little he knows about the internet by simply creating a new profile for himself and telling his friends on the site about his new name. His "new" disguise was uncovered after less than 24 hours.

Behave yourselves in the comments section, please...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Taking a short break from blogging

I thought for a while before picking that title to this post, but in the end, I decided to simply tell it like it is. The blog has been fairly quiet this month and has been even quieter over the past week. Meantime, the Twitter feed has occasional moments of life at best. As you might expect, there are reasons behind all this, and I shall explain as much as I can here.

August this year has turned out to be possibly one of the worst months of my entire life. To make matters worse, pretty much all of the reasons for this month's difficulties are self-inflicted, and caused by my own actions. Without going into full details about the circumstances, I am now paying the price of being less than entirely honest and straight with a lot of people who are close to me. A lot has come out in the past few weeks, and this has turned into an almighty mess which has hurt many innocent people. It's going to take a long time to repair the damage that has been caused, and I do have moments when I worry the damage is beyond repair. It just goes to show that trust can take years to build up, but only a few minutes to knock down again.

This has been a difficult year for a number of reasons. For a decent chunk of the year, I have been unemployed, a state of affairs which is proving highly destructive. Were it not for this blog, I would probably have gone insane with boredom. I've also turned into this person who I simply don't like at all. Instead of being the person I know I am, I've morphed into this horrible man who seems to only care about himself and has little regard for the feelings of others. I've not always been entirely honest with everyone else about my private life either, which has caused a lot of problems this year.

Quite simply, I've hated what I'm turning into and I've got to do something about it immediately to turn things back around. I know I'm not a bad person, but I sure as hell have been behaving like one lately. There are two things which I think are central to getting through this time, but they're two things that I need to get on with doing urgently. The first is I need some work. And not just any work, but stable and permanent work. The reality is that a wedding cannot be funded solely by one wage, and I need more structure in life. Even if
it's just a part-time job to start with, it'll do for the time being. A reason to get out of bed in the morning, even on your days off. I'll take pretty much any kind of work that I'm offered, I'm that desperate for something to do.

The second is I need help personally. Something from my past is holding me back, and it's preventing me from moving forward properly. I've never liked the idea of letting people in and letting them trust me. I'm not sure where it comes from - perhaps it's from being bullied at school over the years. Maybe I preferred to think automatically that people wouldn't like me, and that it simply wasn't worth trying as a result. I'm going to contact my local health centre to book an appointment and I shall see what comes of it. My fiance's granny also gave me the name of someone who she thinks I would benefit from talking to.

I'm now in a situation where there simply isn't an alternative but to see things through and to fight. The alternative isn't worth thinking about. I'm engaged to be married, and I'm absolutely certain that is what I want for the future, but there is a hell of a lot that needs sorting out, and fast. This isn't just for my own sake, but for everyone else's around me. After a difficult episode around a fortnight ago, I had to listen to quite a tearful answer phone message from my mum. She said she couldn't sleep all night and was worried sick about me. There's several people affected here, and it simply isn't fair to put them through this forever more. I have got to sort things out.

I have no choice but to make everything work. Backing out now, in a sense, would be an easy thing to do, but also by far the most cowardly. It would also break the hearts of a lot of people and leave me even lonelier than I've ever felt, and I feel pretty alone as it is. I don't expect sympathy for that, as it's definitely not something that I deserve. Although the next few weeks will probably be some of the most difficult ones that I'll ever have emotionally, it's something that I simply have to do. To put it simply, it's time to step up to the plate and move onto the next chapter of my life.

I've therefore made my mind up that I'm going to take a break from blogging. Now, this isn't the end of this blog. It's not a goodbye post. I love writing material for the blog, and I would simply miss it too much if I were to ditch it altogether. However, it's a question of priorities. Right now, I have to devote all of my energies to sorting my own life out. As much as I enjoy the blog, it does take a fair amount of time each week to maintain, and it's something that I just won't be able to do for a little while. I've got to do things that will pay the bills and will win back the trust that has been severely dented over the past few weeks.

My Twitter account will still be active every now and then. That takes very little time and I don't think I could shut up entirely about politics or current affairs. I'll also still be checking and replying to emails related to the blog, and you'll still be able to contact me in the normal methods. For the next few weeks though, no new material will be going up. The sooner that I get my personal life sorted out, the sooner I'll be back and publishing my thoughts here. It's at least one thing that I can look forward to once I'm through this very dark tunnel.

I shall hopefully see you all at the other end of the tunnel. Farewell for now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My sense of apathy over Andy Coulson payments

The BBC and Robert Peston certainly seem to think there's still legs on the phone-hacking scandal, although they still don't consider it might be an idea to check whether it happened at any other newspapers than the News of the World. Hence why they failed dismally to report on the admission by David Leigh at The Guardian that he himself had hacked into voice mails. The Grim Reaper covered it, along with the likes of Guido Fawkes and Autonomous Mind - whereas most Leftie bloggers and media didn't. Interesting.

Which is why I simply cannot get worked up over the news of a man receiving severance payments, as he was entitled to under the terms of his contract with his former employers, whilst he worked in another job. Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor was paid a severance package worth several hundred thousand pounds when he was the Tory communications director. Yeah. And? What exactly has anyone done wrong here?

News International had to pay him these payments, as that was what their contract with Coulson said. If they had refused to cough up, they would have been in breach of an agreement and been highly likely to be subject to legal action. Coulson had already signed a contract, meaning he was entitled to that money. In other words, payments that were legally justified were made by a company to a former employee who was legally entitled to them. And if you believe Robert Peston and the BBC, this is a scandal.

Fucking hell. This has to be the weakest news story that Peston has come out with for quite some time. Instead of exposing wrongdoing, he's simply reminded us just how close he really is to the Murdoch empire, which really isn't going to do anything to dispel notions that someone is feeding him stories - News International is a vindictive beast, to put it mildly - or that he's nothing more than a Murdoch lackey.

Well done, Pesto. You now look even more of an idiot than you did before you broke the "story". Quite an achievement - and I look forward to discovering if you were paid any severance packages by any previous employers...

Monday, August 22, 2011

What of the Vicky Haigh apologists now?

Many of my regular readers will probably have stumbled across this post that your Reaper wrote about the Vicky Haigh case in early July. I was quite some time behind everyone else blogging about this one, for the simple reason that I had a lot of doubts about many of the facts being put forward.

Whilst researching this one, I came across several websites from people who were determined to flout court injunctions, and who shamefully used the case in order to make often nakedly political points about the justice system. I had the original post on draft mode for about a fortnight before publication, in order to make sure I didn't inadvertently break any court orders.
At the time of originally writing about it, Doncaster Council discovered that the media were about to report on this case, including serious allegations that David Tune, Haigh's ex-partner, was accused of paedophilia. I heard about claims that a tape exists where the daughter points out what Tune supposedly did, and I also stumbled across astonishing claims that a relative of David Tune was responsible for ensuring these "allegations" were never investigated properly. To say that I am angry now is an understatement, for I have discovered that I've been fed a pack of lies.

It can officially be said now that David Tune is not a paedophile. The High Court heard today that Haigh manufactured sex abuse allegations and encouraged her daughter to repeat them. They also heard that Vicky Haigh personally contacted a number of websites about this case and fed them the rumours she wanted to spread - most of whom reported them sycophantically and without a single note of caution. All of this raises serious questions about Vicky Haigh herself. What kind of mother not only uses her child as a pawn in a battle for custody against her ex-partner, but encourages that child to say that their own father is a paedophile?

I had heard allegations that the Garda in the Republic of Ireland were giving Haigh a hard time recently following the birth of her daughter from another relationship. I couldn't quite work out why they would be doing this. Suddenly, everything's a lot clearer. One can only hope that the High Court ensures that the way forward in this case takes into account what is best for the child that Haigh and Tune had together, and also the newborn child - though if it was up to me, if I was her, I'd be rather ashamed to call myself a mother at this particular moment in time.

What, however, is now going to happen to all those people who blindly repeated the accusations against Tune, without bothering to even check first if there was even any truth in them? Are they going to have the decency to own up and admit that they were baseless? Are they going to apologise to the man whose life they have helped destroy? Right now, if I was behind one of those websites, I'd be an extremely worried man.

Are these "threats" all they seem, Mrs Mensch?

Pardon me for not being utterly fawning and full of puffed-up outraged, but I simply can't get myself worked up over the claims being made by Tory MP and shameless attention-seeker Louise Mensch. Apparently, she's received some threats via emails recently from hacking groups Anonymous and LulzSec. These emails supposedly say that they're going to harm her three children, all of which came from her previous marriage to property speculator Anthony LoCicero.

Hmm... your Reaper hates to be the voice of cynicism, but something doesn't quite sound right about this story. Now, I'm not saying for one moment that these emails don't exist, or that Mensch is a fantasist. Unlike certain female Tory MPs - yes, I am thinking of you, Nadine Dorries - she does at least still have some grip on reality. That said, I can't help but think that Mensch is taking these emails too seriously, and that there would be far better uses for police time - the Metropolitan Police say that officers are examining an email at the moment.

This doesn't sound like something that LulzSec would do, in my opinion. Sending an email to an MP doesn't appear to be an attempt to expose poor security under any stretch of the imagination. Nor does it sound like the modus operandi of Anonymous - whilst Louise Mensch, she who believes that the police should be allowed to close down Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger at their own whim, is a threat to freedom of speech, I'm just not convinced that a group of this kind would respond by making threats against the children of MPs.

To me, this sounds more like the work of some demented individual who is attempting to pretend they're more important than they actually are. I'll hold my hands up and gladly admit it if I've got this one wrong, but at the time of writing this, I get the feeling that Mensch is making a lot more of these threats than she actually should be, and possibly discrediting two groups under false pretences whilst at it.

Do I really want a stag party?

Those of you who keep an eye on your Reaper's blog will know that I'm engaged. Some of you have passed on congratulations, others decided to hand me their commiserations instead. Both are accepted, although not necessarily in the same manner by both parties. Preparations are fairly advanced, with a list of guests already drawn up, a rather swanky venue already confirmed, and a budget drawn up which we will not be exceeding.

However, one issue of contention has come up, and it always results in heated debate whenever we bring it up. I'm talking about the issue of my stag party. Now, the problem isn't that Miss Reaper doesn't want me to have one - far from it. She's extremely keen for me to have a stag party, and is even more keen to see me enjoy it. The problem is that I don't particularly fancy having one, for reasons I shall outline here.

When I think of stag parties, pictures that are conjured up in my head include that of men getting horrendously drunk and getting up to all sorts of no good. I have no problem with getting drunk, nor do I specifically object to finding a man who's due to get married a few hours later trying to work out where the hell he is after a particularly messy stag night. Unfortunately, I do have two problems here that very much counts against me. The first is that I am a notoriously anti-social git. The second is that I have hardly any friends.

This may be strange coming from a man, and it feels even stranger to type, but I absolutely loathe pubs. Far from being places of socialising, I just view them as a bloody nuisance. I much prefer getting drunk in my own company, or with the company of close friends whom I know well in a private place where we won't be disturbed by some lager-swilling fucker who can't hold his drink. Where others see fun times, I just hear a lot of noise. It's not just the fact it's almost impossible to have a decent conversation in a pub over all that blasted noise, it's the fact that a lot of pubs seem to reek to high heaven of stale beer.

There might also be the fact that I will always prefer a delicious glass of red wine over a pint of beer or lager any day of the week. When I was at a wedding last year and I kept declining a gentleman's offer to buy me a pint, he gave me the sort of look which could only have implied he was wondering if I was a homosexual.

Am I right to wonder if stag parties are worth bothering with? Or should I follow Miss Reaper's advice by enjoying myself and not being a miserable old cunt for once? You tell me.

Just why does The X Factor format still work?

Like around ten million or so other people in the UK on Saturday night, your Reaper was amongst those who was watching the first edition of the new series of The X Factor. Anyone who's been watching any of the ITV channels in the last fortnight will be well aware that this show was returning - indeed, the promotion was so heavy in the final days that you'd be half-forgiven for thinking that there was nothing else actually going to be shown on ITV1 over the weekend. You can't help but feel that the overkill of promotion was a sign of desperation on the part of the producers, who may be worried that this particular cash cow is starting to run dry.

Ever since these talent shows made their return in the late 1990s, gradually evolving into The X Factor of today, I have never been especially keen on them. It wasn't the fact that most of the judges who were criticising the people in front of them knew next to nothing about music that bothered me. It wasn't the fact that people who are rather stupid were being exploited for the sake of gathering as many viewers as possible for these kinds of shows. It wasn't even the fact that most of the people who appeared on these shows were never seen again not long afterwards. I can't quite pin down exactly what I had against these shows, but I just didn't like them. Even now, I'm still wary of them.

That said, I am full of praise for Simon Cowell for producing such a successful show and he deserves to reap the award of that success. Part of the reasons that shows like Pop Idol and The X Factor did so well was because Cowell was central to the brand. He didn't take any prisoners - if you were crap, he'd tell you that you were crap. But he'd also be prepared to defend you if he thought you were any good. It was a reputation he successfully crafted into a worldwide brand. The big problem is, if you take Cowell out of the equation, does the show still work? That was a question which remained to be answered on Saturday night.

This year, Cowell won't be appearing on the show as a judge, though we are told he'll turn up sooner or later. Chances are that he'll make a few appearances during the live shows in London. In a sense, he was a victim of his own success. He was in such heavy demand that he couldn't physically do everything that was needed, so he has had to take a back seat. Hence why this year's panel is completely different - Cheryl Cole, for whatever reason, isn't appearing on the show this year, meaning that there's room for three new judges.

Tulisa Contostavlos (pictured above), Kelly Rowland and Gary Barlow are all new, meaning that the most irritating judge of the lot, Louis Walsh, is the only original one left. And boy does he like to remind us of that fact. He's already annoying the hell out of me, and there has only been one edition of the show. God knows how high my blood pressure is going to be as Christmas approaches. I can only hope that Barlow remains as dry as he is, and that he doesn't try and mimick Cowell's style too much, becoming nothing more than a parody of himself.

So why does this show actually work? I find the format dull and horrendously predictable. When trying to work out whether a certain act has got through or not, you can tell that the footage has almost had the life edited out of it. Some of the editing on Saturday's show was truly atrocious, making me wonder if quality is being sacrificed without Cowell keeping such a close eye on proceedings. The use of background music is excessive to the point of ridiculous. Whenever there's a gap of about two or three seconds between one judge finishing talking and another starting, they can't just leave a silent gap. Oh no. There has to be another song which has absolutely no relevance whatsoever to proceedings playing in the background. Frankly, I just find it all very tiresome.

I think it's the exhibitionism that works well in the early stages of the show. Being the kind of programme that it is, it attracts its inevitable share of morons. Take Goldie Cheung, who did an utterly bizarre rendition of a "song" called "Copper Bell". Or the rendition by George Gerasimou, a man who had supposedly changed since his appearance two years ago, when he threw the microphone on the floor after telling Simon Cowell to shut up. How did he improve his audition this year? By calling Tulisa Contostavlos a silly bitch. Yeah, real positive change, that.

Thankfully, these were interspersed with moments of real talent, such as the 16-year old Janet Devlin, living in a village in County Tyrone which is probably around an hour away from me. It's these moments, and probably only these sorts of moments, that are the only reason why I bother watching the show at all. If only it gave us more moments like this, and less time for the exhibitionists and airheads.

And a lot less time for Louis Walsh. A lot, lot less.