Thursday, April 28, 2011

In praise of my father

It's often said that becoming a father is the best thing that can ever happen to any man. Your Reaper agrees with that statement, and is looking forward to the day Miss Reaper gives birth to a little Reaper of our own. Now that my employment situation has been sorted out in my private life, I'm finally able to move on after a period of stagnation and fatherhood is something that is now one step closer, I'm pleased to say.

One of the people I have always admired is my dad. He doesn't always have a lot to say, but what he does say is well worth listening to. I imagine a lot of fathers are like that, and I suspect that if I bring up my kids in the same way that Dad brought me up, I shouldn't go far wrong. He's also quite the dab hand when it comes to cars. Earlier in his career, he used to be part of the maintenance team at the council, as a mechanic. He was one of those who had to fix various council-owned vehicles at their garages, whether it be cars, vans or the bin lorries. Therefore, he's a man who knows a hell of a lot about the internal workings of a car.

When I lived back in Wales, every single time my MOT was due, I would always have a word with my dad. There simply wasn't anyone else in the running to have a look at it. He'd have a look at my car, a little Ford Fiesta, and he'd check the entire thing meticulously. Nothing was left untouched. If even the slightest thing was wrong, he'd know how to fix it. In the highly rare event he came across something he didn't know how to fix, he wouldn't let it rest. He'd be looking all over the internet - though not before checking his cherished Haynes manuals - and he'd find the solution. Not only that, but he would get it fixed, and fixed properly.

Many people in the family would take their cars to him to be checked before their MOTs, such was his reputation for thoroughness. It was a well-deserved reputation - every single car that he checked subsequently passed its MOT. Every single one. As I said beforehand, he's not a man who has a lot to say, but I suspect he takes some quiet satisfaction from knowing that.

Your Reaper has been living in Northern Ireland for quite some time now, having made the move to be with Miss Reaper. One of us had to make the move, and I had a lot less to lose were it to go disastrously wrong. Plus a long-distance relationship wasn't going to be an option in the long-term, of course. One of the implications of that is I no longer have my trusted dad to look over the car.

It shows. I had my MOT today in Enniskillen. The car failed the test. Dad would be so disappointed in me...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

About THAT injunction, and THAT injunction, and THAT injunction...

<< To start this rather long post, here is a picture of Father Jack Hackett for absolutely no reason whatsoever. It has nothing at all to do with any of the content in this post and is simply presented here for your Reaper's amusement.

Your Reaper has recently written about a large number of injunction-related posts. It appears that in the last few weeks especially, a lot of people have been caught being very naughty indeed. In typical fashion, they all discover they are about to be exposed by the tabloid press and like good little sheeple, they all run to their lawyers to seek the nearest thing to a total lockdown that they can get nowadays.

They're called injunctions, and super-injunctions. An injunction prevents certain details from being published, whereas a super-injunction prevents me from even revealing an injunction is in place at all.

There are a few I have jotted down recently, and a few that I've missed due to starting a new job recently. The first one concerns a well-known journalist who has his own television programme that airs on Sundays. I shall simply refer to him as AM, which funnily enough are also the initials of the person he had the affair with. In January 2008, he went to court to obtain a super-injunction to prevent the press from disclosing details about his private life. This married man had been having an affair with a female journalist from a newspaper. During the affair, which ended in 2003, the female journalist fell pregnant. It was widely thought that AM was the father, as the female journalist clearly didn't want to reveal that she'd slept with another man at some point.

AM responded by admitting to the affair to his wife, who is a journalist at a Left-wing newspaper, whilst agreeing to make child maintenance payments. Whether this happened before or after the super-injunction was imposed is not clear.

However, rumours soon started doing the rounds, which AM heard about. Was he really the father of this child? In a scene which could have come straight out of the Jeremy Kyle Show, he demanded that a DNA test took place. It revealed that, in words Jeremy Kyle would have used had he been involved - "the DNA test reveals that he is NOT the child's father".

The female journalist in question is rumoured to have slept with a former Labour minister, and rumours are that the child is his - sadly though, I don't know who the name being mentioned is.

According to press reports at the time, (most of which have since been deleted) AM may now be in a position to demand money back from years of maintenance payments to a child he now knows is not his. So who is AM? Well, the injunction remains but is due to lapse soon, so AM has decided to out himself. AM is none other than... Andrew Marr. Yes, it turns out that there are at least TWO women on the planet who find Andrew Marr attractive. Who would have ever thought it, eh? Ian Hislop, editor of the Private Eye, was interviewed on the Today programme this morning on the subject and was scathing about him - it's well worth a listen.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Here's another one. This was an interesting little story which your Reaper originally wrote about last week. Media reports appearing at the time detailed a married man who was working in the "entertainment business" having an affair with a female work colleague, who is also married. The two of them - or ETK and X, as we are meant to refer to them - were working on a popular television programme during 2010 producing a show which aired earlier this year. As it happens, the two worked very closely together, as the storyline at the time consisted of the two characters being in a relationship together. The affair went on for five months, and was an open secret amongst their colleagues on this particular TV show.

Eventually, the phone-hacking... well, hacks at the News of the World were given this information by a little bird, and were going to publish the juicy details. ETK is probably best-known for this particular TV show, and X is probably best-known for a comedy show that is no longer being produced, but still gets shown fairly regularly. X left the show at the end of 2010 after a "difficult year", which she claimed was because of the all the travelling between the location of filming for the popular television programme in question and her home. What she didn't mention was her now-ended affair with ETK, which had made things extremely awkward at work. As one might expect.

Beforehand, your Reaper would have been able to publish the names and all the details. That was until those bastions of free speech, Lord Justice Ward, Lord Justice Laws and and Lord Justice Moore-Bick overturned a previous ruling and subsequently replaced it with a super-injunction. Therefore, your Reaper can't publish the names on this occasion. Sorry about that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Elsewhere, a certain actor has been caught sleeping with a certain Helen Wood. She is a woman known to the world simply because Wayne Rooney's cock has been inside her. Wood disclosed to The Sun newspaper that she had slept with another male celebrity. Apparently, he had paid £195 for a session with her. They were also told that the actor was shit in bed and kissed "like a virgin". This was something I wrote about last week, and has since become the most viewed post I've ever done on the blog.

Now, your Reaper has to admit that certain details in the original post I did about this might be wrong. Two names are doing the rounds on this one. The first is the Scottish actor that I detailed previously, the second is the name of an actor who appeared on a popular television programme - although not the same popular television programme as ETK, I might add.

The actor in question found out that this was about to emerge in the papers, took The Sun to court and managed to obtain an injunction banning all mention of the incident. As far as we were concerned, NEJ (they're just three random letters used in the reporting of this story, so don't infer anything from it) had never done anything. It had never happened. The Sun wasn't best pleased at being told to shut up, so they appealed against the decision. Eventually, the injunction was amended so that they could reveal what happened, but NOT the name of NEJ. In a court decision that seems quite sexist, I am allowed to name Helen Wood, but I am not allowed to name the actor who has behaved so badly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In a case similar enough to NEJ's above, your Reaper hears of yet another story. This one concerns a minor Welsh celebrity called Imogen Thomas. She appeared on Big Brother a few years ago, apparently. She had an affair with a Premier League footballer.

Again, I am allowed to name Thomas, but I am not allowed to name the player. Mind you, that isn't going to stop me from providing a few details about him. He plays for a club which is doing quite well in the Premier League this year. He is a player who has been around for several years, and has been playing for the same team for a number of years. That's pretty much all that I can risk revealing on this one, unfortunately.

As for Thomas, I can only see two reasons to be attracted to her, and they're not that great...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Finally for now, you may have heard of the case about the world-wide injunction. This was granted last Wednesday by Mr Justice Eady, a man who surely now has to rank as an enemy of free speech. He seems to think it within his power to impose something called an "injunction contra mundum". This basically means "never-ending injunction" which applies to the entire world. It's something which is only ever used normally in cases such as protecting the new identities of notorious criminals such as Robert Thompson, Jon Venables, Mary Bell and Maxine Carr. It's quite possibly the first time this has ever been used in a so-called "privacy" case.

It's extremely limited how many details can be revealed. OPQ contacted Carter Ruck and fought with BJM and CJM in front of Justice Eady. OPQ appears to be the man who had the affair, whilst BJM and CJM are the woman concerned and also the newspaper publisher. OPQ appears to be a man who had an affair, during which pictures were taken of him. BJM and CJM supposedly have "intimate" photographs of OPQ and their disclosure could have a substantial negative effect on OPQ's mental health, it was argued. Therefore, an order was granted saying they can never be published.

Not much else is known, although there is considerable chatter going around. Under the court order, I'm not even allowed to reveal BJM's occupation. Also under the court order, their details can never emerge. Only a few days after it was granted though, it's already falling apart. These words from someone who is accused of being a blackmailer may have something to do with this case too, it appears.

UPDATE: Shortly after publishing, your Reaper came across details of yet another injunction, and this one could be of a very political nature indeed. A leading Yes2AV campaigner has won a gagging order which stops the press from revealing his identity, profession or the allegations against him being revealed. They are something to do with indiscretions in his sex life, I believe. As Guido Fawkes says, this person must be feeling rather nervous today...
For legal reasons, all comments for this article are being checked beforehand. Not moderated, merely checked. Positive and negative comments will all get through. Anything which does name names however, won't get through, so don't waste your time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

About THAT entertainment industry man's injunction

Another day, another injunction against the media. It appears that a married man working in the "entertainment business" has been caught out being a naughty boy. The man is currently being referred to as ETK - three letters which almost certainly stand for absolutely nothing - and had a sleazy affair with a married woman, referred to simply as X, that he was working with at the time.

X also happens to be married and also happens to work in the entertainment industry. The affair lasted around five months altogether, and was about to be outed by the News of the World. The Sunday hack planned to disclose the identity of the man and the woman.

However, this gets much more interesting. ETK and X worked together for some time. Their affair was an open secret amongst other work colleagues. In April 2010, ETK's wife had heard of the rumours and wanted to know the truth. He confessed and agreed to tell X that their relationship was over.

Later that year, X was sacked from her job. Whether this is linked or not to ETK, I don't know, but the exact reason behind this was due to be revealed by the News of the World. Not anymore.

Those bastions of free speech, Lord Justice Ward, Lord Justice Laws and and Lord Justice Moore-Bick overturned a previous ruling which allowed the names and all the details to be published and have replaced it with a super-injunction. This means that no details could be published at all about it. As far as we were concerned, none of this ever happened. Even stranger is that ETK, his wife and X all applied for this injunction. What could possibly be going on here?
Yet again, like in every injunction thread that your Reaper posts, I come to much the same conclusion:


More injunction-related postery soon enough, no doubt...

"So who is going to benefit nicely from this? Step forward, the lawyers.
Lawyers who are giving out extremely bad advice at that, and who clearly aren't worth their inflated fees. The reality is that these injunctions just don't work anymore. We've seen countless cases of this before. Chelsea footballer John Terry won a super-injunction last year to prevent the public from finding out he'd supposedly been having an affair with his best mate's girlfriend. When the newspapers went back to court to try and get it overturned, the name got out days before the verdict was announced. It was all over Twitter in the hours before the injunction was lifted, and there is always a danger that this will happen here. All that money spent on legal fees to obtain the injunction - wasted.
Oh yes, and bear in mind that this is coming from someone who hasn't the time of day for sleazy kiss-and-tell stories with the inevitably lurid details. The fact is though, if this was being reported in the tabloids now instead of being subjected to an injunction, it would certainly be excrutiatingly embarrassing, but soon forgotten about. The press tend to move on very quickly these days.
Mind you, this could have avoided all this hassle in the first place. It's what I've outlined in the past - where someone gets an injunction to stop indiscretions from being reported, and the newspapers respond by publishing articles with just enough clues for people to work out the identity of the person without naming them, and then quickly switching off the comments section in the articles in question "for legal reasons". It's a solution that tabloids would hate, lawyers would hate even more, and philanderers would hate yet more again.
Why not just behave better? That way, there's far less chance of the tabloid press getting any dirt on you. They can't report what never happened, can't they? But that would be too easy and practical..."

Hookers and inappropriate advertising

This was spotted by one of my eagle-eyed readers, who flocked to the post published earlier about a world-famous Scottish actor who has managed to obtain an injunction to prevent his name being associated with events detailed by Helen Wood - see here. The Mirror have got a report up from a few days ago about the matter, and it features "one of the most inappropriate placements for an ad I've ever seen", according to the reader's email.


Your Reaper agrees with the sentiments expressed above. Methinks that Cancer Research may want to have words with the Mirror website about that...

People and vocations: a series of mismatches

Sometimes, people have to do things for their crust which they are not entirely comfortable with. Whether it would be the likes of Nick Clegg getting into government with David Cameron, we have to do things that... wait a minute, that won't work. Nick Clegg absolutely fucking loved the idea of getting into government with David Cameron. After all, he could never have done it on his own. The weasel wouldn't have stood a chance of getting power any other way and will say and do anything in order to keep it. It's no wonder the two of them get on so well. Oh wait, your Reaper is ranting again. Back to topic, please.

Sometimes, people have to do things for their crust which they are not entirely comfortable with. There's nothing especially wrong with that - everyone has to do things in life sometimes that they simply don't want to, or aren't happy with. That said, some events are much stranger, and sometimes a lot more inappropriate than others. Here is a little exercise in this - feel free to invite anyone else in the room to play along here. I'm about to provide a couple of examples of various people being asked to do things which they wouldn't really be particularly well-suited to. Some of the examples are obviously made-up, some of them are real and one of them may or may not be about to become real. See if you can spot what fits into which category and remember, it's just a bit of fun*.
- Adolf Hitler heading an investigation for the Government into why there has been a rise in the levels of anti-Semitism.

- Sharon Shoesmith heading an investigation into why so many people failed to save the life of Baby P after so many opportunities were given to them, and why on earth there were so many blunders by the Children's Department at Haringey Council, headed by... Sharon Shoesmith.

- Josef Fritzl compiling a report for the Labour Party whose aim is to provide family-friendly policies that will help make them electable again.

- Tony Blair becoming a peace envoy in the Middle East.

- Robert Mugabe heading a government department whose job it is to make sure everyone is well-fed and not malnourished simply because they don't happen to support the government.

- Gordon Brown heading the International Monetary Fund.

Did you get all six of them right? Answers on a postcard, please.

* Except the one about Gordon heading the IMF. That's not a fun prospect at all. Do we really want to give the former Prime Mentalist a chance to bankrupt the whole world?

About THAT prostitute-bonking actor's injunction

Your Reaper notices that a certain actor has been caught being a very naughty boy. Who the actor in question is though, we're not allowed to know.

This all started a little while ago when Helen Wood - a woman known to the world simply because Wayne Rooney's cock has been inside her - disclosed to The Sun newspaper that she had slept with another male celebrity. Apparently, he had paid £195 for a session with her. They were also told that the actor was shit in bed and kissed "like a virgin".

In the defence of the world-famous actor in question, I ought to point out that he is married and therefore by implication, probably hasn't had sex for the last ten years. Now, The Sun's hacks were obviously very interested in this kind of story, as would their phone-hacking friends at the News of the World.

The actor in question somehow got wind that this was about to emerge and called for the celebrity's first weapon of choice - the courts. He took the newspaper to court and managed to obtain an injunction banning all mention of the incident. As far as we were concerned, NEJ (which doesn't actually mean anything by the way, they're just three random letters used in the reporting of this story) had never done anything. It had never happened.

The Sun wasn't best pleased at being told to shut up, so they appealed against the decision. Eventually, the injunction was amended so that they could reveal what happened, but NOT the name of the world-famous married actor in question. It splashed across several newspapers late last week. Your Reaper would have blogged about it at the time, but I've been busy making some changes to my life, more of which I'll detail in another post.

Anyway, with this being the age of the internet, a name has already got out. Well, I say a name when I mean several names. I have come across the correct name - the person who world-famous married actor with children. Did I also mention that he's a regular Twitter user? In typical manner, clues have been taken from numerous articles written in the media and everyone is attempting to piece the jigsaw together. Some people have managed to work out who the world-famous married actor in question is, others are way off. That said though, your Reaper knows about the stringent libel laws in this country, so he won't be publishing the name of this person here, and nor will anyone else.

As usual with these threads, I have to ask who on earth is really going to benefit from this injunction. Certainly not the world-famous married actor in question - his name has already got out in some places, and he'll live with the danger of this coming out at some point for a long time yet. Certainly not Helen Wood, whose name is being dragged through the gutter, though this is mainly her own fault. So who is going to benefit nicely from this? Step forward, the lawyers.

Lawyers who are giving out extremely bad advice at that, and who clearly aren't worth their inflated fees. The reality is that these injunctions just don't work anymore. We've seen countless cases of this before. Chelsea footballer John Terry won a super-injunction last year to prevent the public from finding out he'd supposedly been having an affair with his best mate's girlfriend. When the newspapers went back to court to try and get it overturned, the name got out days before the verdict was announced.

It was all over Twitter in the hours before the injunction was lifted, and there is always a danger that this will happen here. All that money spent on legal fees to obtain the injunction - wasted. I bet the world-famous married actor wishes he hadn't spend that £195 on a bonk now, doesn't he?

Oh yes, and bear in mind that this is coming from someone who hasn't the time of day for sleazy kiss-and-tell stories with the inevitably lurid details. The world-famous married actor in question hasn't behaved in an honourable way, but it's ultimately a matter for him and his family on the way forward. The fact is though, if this was being reported in the tabloids now instead of being subjected to an injunction, it would certainly be excrutiatingly embarrassing, but soon forgotten about. The press tend to move on very quickly these days.

Mind you, the world-famous married actor in question could have avoided all this hassle in the first place. It's what I've outlined above - where someone gets an injunction to stop indiscretions from being reported, and the newspapers respond by publishing articles with just enough clues for people to work out the identity of the person without naming them, and then quickly switching off the comments section in the articles in question "for legal reasons". It's a solution that tabloids would hate, lawyers would hate even more, and philanderers would hate yet more again.

Why not just behave better? That way, there's far less chance of the tabloid press getting any dirt on you. They can't report what never happened, can't they? But that would be too easy and practical, as the world-famous married actor in question would be able to tell you...

UPDATE 6th May 2011: Since posting this on the blog, it has emerged that the actor in question is not actually Scottish. Your Reaper's usually reliable sources have led him astray on this occasion, so all references to the actor's nationality have been removed. (bar the URL unfortunately, which I can't change) Apologies for the error.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Polticians and the funeral of PC Ronan Kerr

Most of you will probably have heard by now of the killing of PC Ronan Kerr in Omagh on Saturday. He was a 25-year old police officer living in the town, making his way into the car to drive to the station in Enniskillen to start his shift.

After he got into the car, a bomb that had been planted underneath it went off, almost certainly killing him instantly. It goes without saying that my thoughts and sympathies are with his family at this difficult time for them. It's my hope that the perpetrators of this appalling crime are caught as soon as possible and punished to the full extent of the law.

Dissident republicans are being blamed for planting the bomb, although as ever with these things, no one is prepared to claim responsibility. There are also claims this is in retaliation for the Police Service Northern Ireland (or PSNI, as they're known here) taking on more Catholics into their traditionally very Protestant organisation. Around a third of all PSNI officers are now Catholics, compared to the lowly single digit figures seen even as little as a decade ago.

This is a big story in Northern Ireland, and understandably so. People living here are worried that this is an attempt to drag the country back to the days in the past of carnage, violence and murder. Many people here have all too vivid memories from those times, and they are memories they wish to keep to the past. I have spoken to Catholics, Protestants and those of no religion - I fit into the third group, if anyone's wondering - and everyone is saying the same thing. It is abundantly clear that the dissidents have no support whatsoever, apart from a lunatic fringe who have today written in graffiti deeply offensive and disgusting messages on walls in Omagh in favour of Kerr's murder.

The only thing the dissidents have succeeded in doing, so far as I can see, is strengthening the resolve of those who are against them. People who would a few years ago have been divided are now united against them. If this was an attempt to re-open the divisions of the past in Northern Ireland - ones which are slowly but surely healing - then they have failed abysmally.

The funeral of Constable Kerr takes place tomorrow. At this time, the family's wishes are paramount and I have absolutely no wish to intrude on anyone's grief. I certainly have no intention here of doing a Jan Moir and publishing an inaccurate, offensive and incredibly insensitively timed article about Kerr. I'm well-aware that anyone could be reading this, so I'm choosing my words with extreme caution, and the family are foremost in my thoughts. That said, I can't help but have some concerns about some of the latest developments.

I notice that a number of prominent politicians will be attending the funeral tomorrow. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson will be representing the UK Government. The Republic of Ireland will be represented by their newly-elected Taoiseach (that's the Irish term for Prime Minister, UK readers) Enda Kenny. It's a sombre enough occasion to be making the first visit as Taoiseach to Ulster. The First Minister of the Assembly in Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson, will also be present, as will his deputy, Martin MacGuinness.

At the time of writing this post, I do not know if Gerry Adams, the man who heads Sinn Féin, will also be there. UTV (they're the company that run ITV1 in Northern Ireland) reported tonight that Robinson's presence as being especially significiant because he is a Protestant, and he will be attending a Catholic funeral mass.

Unfortunately, this is where I have to take issue with things. Again, I cannot stress strongly enough that I have no wish to cause distress or offence, but I do honestly think that the presence of so many politicians at his funeral is questionable. What exactly will their presence serve? I don't doubt that their feelings of revulsion over this issue is genuine and sincere, and they were absolutely right to express their disgust in the last few days. They are public officials, and we do expect them to tell us what they think. This, however, is not the way to go about things.

I do not mean to sound cruel when I ask this, but just what is it that makes this killing so special? I can't help but think this may be setting a precedent and opening a Pandora's Box of problems that could be done without. Allow me to explain. Hundreds of people were killed and murdered during the years of the Troubles. Yet you didn't see politicians all queuing up to attend the funerals of those who needlessly perished, did you?

I find myself asking simply - why now? Why only in 2011, around 90 years after the Troubles started (and ended within that time) is it deemed necessary for politicians to attend the funerals of those killed in cold blood? Does this mean that there will be numerous political attendees if, God forbid, there is another bombing of a similar nature by dissidents where someone gets killed? Where are they going to draw the line on this?

Peter Robinson claims that his decision to attend tomorrow is an entirely personal one, and recognises that there will be detractors on this. He claims he's not going to try and distract from the occasion, or overshadow events. Now, I am trying very hard not to allow my natural hatred of politicians to colour my judgement here, but I realistically cannot see any way in which his presence will not do that. I don't doubt the sincerity of his words on this occasion, but at the same time, I don't think his presence is for the best. Nor do I think it appropriate for any politicians to be in attendance, unless they have been directly invited or asked to attend by the family.

Tomorrow is going to be difficult enough for Kerr's family, grieving over this dreadful loss. Speaking from personal experience, funerals are emotionally-draining occasions where one can feel a wide mixture of emotions. It's something that we all hope we won't have to go through too often in our lives, though sadly, we all have to go through it. I cannot honestly imagine how hard it would be for the family of someone who had been killed only four days before.

I'm sorry to say this, but by attending tomorrow, politicians will simply be making the day even harder, with all the extra interest in the form of the media that they will inevitably bring with them. If they wish to help the family, their efforts would be better placed making sure that the killers are caught and that Northern Ireland is as well-protected against the dissident threat that it needs to be.

Monday, April 04, 2011

What's going on with the blog? An update

People are probably wondering what on earth's going on as far as The Grim Reaper Writes goes. It's probably a subject of national concern, probably provoking as much interest as the upcoming wedding of two university students, one of whom happens to be a potential future king. Almost no interest at all, in other words.

Your Reaper, unfortunately, is still busy with a number of things in his private life, meaning that there simply isn't the motivation to blog that is normally there. As it happens, I've got a job interview later this afternoon. Without going into too many details, it's for a decent enough job with good hours and a good salary, and to be perfectly frank, it's a job I desperately fucking want. As soon as this situation is sorted out, the blog will be back to something closer to normality.

In the meantime, you'll occasionally be able to find me over on Twitter. That's all for now.