Monday, 11 May 2009


I do wish I had a contacts book as good as the Telegraph. It’s been a pleasure to read their continuing investigation on MPs’ expenses, which just seemed to go on and on in yesterday’s paper. I am very interested to hear that my money has been spent on duck-shaped bath sponges, jaffa cakes and a lemon [right]. As Matthew D’Ancona pointed out yesterday, that’s the thing that’s most annoying - not just the £500,000 claimed by Sinn Fein MPs for a second home in London despite never visiting the Commons. Few politicians have escaped the Telegraph’s investigation, which either suggests they are all dishonest or there is something inherently wrong with the system. In a rare move, I’m going to back politicians and go for the latter.

Put yourself in their shoes. If you had the chance to claim pretty much everything on expenses and nobody batted an eyelid, you would probably go for it. I certainly think I would. But the way in which this scandal has unravelled has suggested public shock every time a new receipt is uncovered - for example; the adult films, gardening and home cinema systems. It’s as if the media are shocked by what they are hearing. But to be honest, this has probably been going on for years and it’s a good job the Telegraph’s Freedom of Information request appeals which went on for years finally got through. Perhaps the MPs and Mr Speaker wanted to keep it quiet, not because they were worried about having to pay it back, but because they knew once the public found out about the system’s failing, there would be uproar. And here it is.

* * *

One of the great things about reading newspapers is occasionally you see a story that you just have to tell everyone about - the ‘Hey Maud’ syndrome, as one of my lecturers puts it. Step forward Sorted, a great Christian men’s magazine on which I’m officially a ‘junior news reporter’ but haven’t actually written anything yet. Anyway, that’s not the point. They recently ran a survey which revealed male churchgoers prefer ‘proper macho songs’, and hate hugging and sitting in circles to discuss their feelings. They also get put off by embroidery and flowers. Read more here:

This is so true! I’ve been saying for years that the church has become too feminised and men do not want to be singing about how Jesus is their best friend - but rather songs like ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ and rousing proclamational tunes like that. The survey also found that men prefer to discuss issues like family issues and money at the pub. This is an excellent point, as women are much better at taking things in from a sermon and then discussing it afterwards, whereas men prefer to rebut points and questions as they come along - maybe over a game of paintball followed by a curry! This may be a generalisation, but it’s important to note.

So here are the Top 10 male-friendly hymns according to the survey: Onward Christian Soldiers; And Can It Be; Guide Me O Thy Great Redeemer; All People That On Earth Do Dwell; Be Thou My Vision; How Great Thou Art; Amazing Grace; Eternal Father, Strong To Save; Our God Reigns; and Forgive Our Foolish Ways. Spot anything sentimental or emotional in there? No, neither did I. Maybe that suggests this survey is spot on! Well done Sorted.

* * *

I’m fed up of iTunes. It’s slower than Windows Media Player, you can’t download anything directly to an external device, anything you pay for can only be put on an iPod and it’s awkwardly sorted. I would use YouTube for listening to music online but again it’s often difficult to find the right thing, and the sound quality is poor. So thank the Lord for Spotify. If you haven’t seen Spotify, it’s a legal program that allows you to stream pretty much any album or single that’s been commercially released over here. Every now and again, you hear an advert in between songs, but these are so rare that it doesn’t bother me at all - especially when you have access to loads of music for free! I’ve now got access to the whole back catalogue of all my favourite bands without having to spend a penny, which is brilliant.

But does the signal the death of music as we know it? Well the fact that I ordered the new Bloc Party and Maximo Park albums on Amazon this morning would suggest not. You can’t download anything for free on this site - it just streams things whilst you’re online. So if you want to put a track on your mp3 player you still have to download it or purchase the CDs. Since I listen to lots of music when I’m on the move, I’ll still purchase albums. But now I can stream pretty much any song I want online, I will be using this program a lot! Make sure you sign up at: Just to clarify, this is not a shameless piece of promotion for Spotify - I do genuinely love it!