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Living Abroad

We’re so focussed on the 1,500 people arriving here every day that no one really focuses on the 1,000 leaving every day. Figures from the OECD show more graduates, 1.3million, have fled Britain than any other developed country (even America, which has five times our population). Of Brits deemed to have “high skills,” 15% have left to live abroad – the highest ratio in the developed world save for the notoriously itinerant Irish and Kiwis.

In Britain, high skills are used as a passport to get the hell out and go make money elsewhere. (Perhaps why every English-speaking country has had better economic growth than Britain since 1997.) An economic exodus is underway, and only mass immigration is covering it up.

Why is this?

Brothers in Arms - Dire Straits

Brothers in Arms is the fifth studio album by British rock band Dire Straits, released in 1985. The album has sold over 29 million copies worldwide. It was the 3rd best-selling album of the 1980s (Behind The Joshua Tree by U2 and Thriller by Michael Jackson), the best selling album by Dire Straits, and the twelfth best selling album of all time.

Brothers in Arms was one of the first albums to be directed at the CD market, being the first full digital recording (DDD). It was also released on vinyl and cassette. This was also the first album to sell one million copies in the CD format and to outsell its LP version. Indeed, when the disc was released, it was said that more people owned a copy of the CD than owned CD players. A Rykodisc staffer would subsequently write, "[In 1985 we] were fighting to get our CDs manufactured because the entire worldwide manufacturing capacity was overwhelmed by demand for a single rock title (Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms)."

"Money for Nothing" first appeared on Brothers in Arms and subsequently became an international hit when released as a single. The song was notable for its controversial lyrics, groundbreaking music video and a cameo appearance by Sting singing the song's iconic falsetto introduction and backing chorus, a borrowing of the cable network's slogan "I want my MTV". The video was also the first to be aired on MTV Europe when the network started on August 1, 1987.

The song's lyrics are written from the point of view of a blue-collar worker watching music videos and commenting on what he sees. To achieve the effect of such a layman making such casual everyday commentary, Dire Straits' lead singer and songwriter Mark Knopfler used a vocal style known as Sprechstimme.

The observations of the character included references to a musician "banging on the bongos like a chimpanzee" and a description of a singer as "that little faggot with the earring and the makeup", and lamenting that the artists got "money for nothing and chicks for free". These lyrics were widely criticised as sexist, anti-gay, and racist statements, and in some later releases of the song the lyrics were edited for airplay; "faggot" for example is often replaced with "mother": "little mother, he's a millionaire". The entire second verse was edited out for content and length for radio and video airplay, and on the 7" single.

The Viking Returns

One of the biggest names in darts, Andy Fordham, has recently returned to the world stage, literally, a different man. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this photo of him on the BBC website (though the majority of the 10 stone seems to have been lost on his head. His arms are still massive!)

Unfortunately, I've missed the chance to get tickets to the darts in January as usual. Rats.

Man of Leisure

I'm now between jobs. My role at Hedra starts on 7th January and I'm planning on taking the time between now and then to finish the Westfield.

I'm planning on posting my thoughts about my last 4 years at TfL in the next day or so, but then after that, blogging will be intermittent.

Film Club

Last Wednesday's Film Club event went well. The showing of The Day of the Jackal was widely seen to be the best yet.

Unfortunately, only 5 people turned up. I have therefore decided to cancel the future schedule.

When I decided to start the film club, it was for two reasons: one, to show old classic films which everyone would enjoy; two, to give everyone the chance to get together, have some fun and catch up over some food before the film started. With everyone always saying they never see as much of their friends as they would like, I thought this would give that opportunity. I'm not sure if people understood this; the film nights always seemed to be at the bottom of people's priority lists, which is a shame. There are a few people who promised a lot but delivered little (you know who you are). There are also people who have a 100% attendance record. To them, I salute you.

All Wight

Claire and I have been over to the Isle of Wight for the weekend. Unfortunately, the weather didn't hold up for long, but that didn't stop fun times. Stayed in the Wellington Arms in Ventnor on the south side of the island. The hotel was clean and well run, and the room had superb views over the sea (the photo is from Saturday. On Sunday the sea was fierce). On Friday night we ate in the Richmond Arms, which is highly recommended - some of the best fish soup I've ever tasted. We were going to eat in the well known Spyglass Inn though I never trust anywhere with laminated menus where the first line reads "our staff expect to be treated with respect".

On Saturday we somehow managed a 9 mile walk over Tennyson Way, completing a loop up over the hills and back along the coast path. We rewarded ourselves with the X Factor and some superb tapas and heavy red wine at The Met Restaurant in Ventnor.

On Sunday we axed our trip to see the Needles due to the dreadful weather and instead headed to the Red Lion pub for a long lunch and some local ale. The advert wasn't kidding when it read "bookings advisable". This place was packed. We munched down on fish pie for 45 minutes but disappointingly had to leave our table early. Even so, it was worth the trip.

A weekend to the Isle is definitely worth the trip, even if the weather lets you down. It's a great place to explore.

Churchill Songs

Went to Churchill Songs at the Albert Hall on Thursday night in honour of the centenary of the Harrow Association. Surprisingly (for me) the place was packed. It was good to get the vocal chords some exercise: all the classic school tunes were rolled out and, as always, the new boy's solo was impressively performed (a 13 year old singing a solo in front of 6000 people. Ouch). Everyone then piled into Soprano's on High St. Kensington for some late night chow. More photos, mostly of the post-show booze up, here.

Billy Elliott

After a pre-theatre filling at Ask, I spent last Friday night watching Billy Elliott, the musical. It was quite simply the best theatre production I have ever experienced. If you haven't seen it, it will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. Elton John's music was OK; the set was impressive; the actor who played Billy was quite outstanding. He was one of the most talented actors I've ever watched: he could act, sing, perform ballet, tap dance... I must be a disappointment to my mother.

Alec Guinness in Star Wars

Sir Alec took a percentage rather than a flat fee for his role in Star Wars and his estate still rakes in stupendous royalties from a movie first released in 1977. The deal has assumed legendary status in Hollywood and has been used as a blueprint by top-earning stars. But it was a gamble at the time, as few predicted that Star Wars would prove such a box-office winner.

Sir Alec's canniness made him one of the highest-paid British actors. But he discounted industry gossip that the re-release in 1997 clinched him the highest fee to have been paid for a single movie. "Some have said that I have already earned £120 million - divide that by 20 and you might be nearer the mark," Sir Alec said. "But the sums keep changing."

He said the re-release of the film would earn him more money. Star Wars was re-released in Britain on March 21 1997. "I still have a contract which says that I earn a percentage cut from the film and, of course, I'm very pleased about it," Sir Alec said. One of Britain's most distinguished actors, he retired in 1995 after 60 years of stage and screen roles.

His agent at the time of Star Wars, Dennis van Thal, is understood to have struck a deal in which Sir Alec would receive two per cent of the gross royalties paid to the director, George Lucas. The director received a fifth of the box-office takings. Star Wars grossed $560 million (£373 million) worldwide. Sir Alec would also have received royalties for the video release and the film's two original sequels, in which his character returned in spiritual form.

His role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, and in the sequels - The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980, and Return of the Jedi which followed in 1984 - will have earned him more than his combined earnings from his 40 other film roles. These include Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), for which he won an Oscar.

"My cut for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi was less than one per cent," he said. "But when you're talking about millions and millions of dollars, it gets very lucrative. I haven't got a clue how much I made from it. I haven't bothered to count it all up, but I did very well out of it, and bought a house and a Mercedes."

Many of the technicians who worked on Star Wars at Elstree studios in Hertfordshire were offered percentages but turned them down. It was a decision they would come to regret. When George Lucas made the first film, few people had an inkling of its future success. His script, for which he was paid £15,000, was turned down by two studios before Twentieth Century Fox agreed to finance it.

Fox was delighted to accept Lucas's offer to swap his director's fee of £250,000 for the serialisation and licensing rights. This was to prove to be the basis of his £1.2 billion fortune.

Mix Up

A schoolboy had a 16th birthday to remember after a stripper ordered by his mother turned up at his drama class.

The boy's mother apparently booked a "gorilla" to mark her son's big day through an agency, but a stripper turned up instead.

The woman even asked her son's teacher at Nottingham's Arnold Hill School and Technology College to film the event so the family could see the boy's reaction.

The stripper, who arrived halfway through the lesson, first walked the unnamed boy around the class on all fours like a dog.

She then spanked him 16 times - once for each year - to the sound of Britney Spears, before stripping down to her bra and knickers.

It was only when she asked the schoolboy to rub cream on her that the shocked teacher called a halt to the show.

The boy's mother reportedly told the school the incident was the result of a booking error.

Chinese Chow Down

18 hours later, I am still feeling the effects of a blow out Chinese at Hong Kong Diner last night. The sudden intake of MSG has severely affected both my vision and central nervous system. My trip with C.E.P. Kennedy Esq. was gluttony defined: pork dumplings, chitterlings with prawns, shredded beef, deep fried squid, pork belly, ho-fun noodles with beef and oyster sauce, special fried rice, all washed down with two flasks of sake.

My left arm is still shaking uncontrollably.

Google Bomb

My favourite Google bomb (an oldie but a goodie).

Go to the Google home page, type in "French military victories" and press "I'm feeling lucky".

The Ultimate Fancy Dress

Take three friends, an operating table and a gown and what do you have? The costume for my next fancy dress party.

Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys

It's time to hit back at the Axis of Weasels.

Knockholt Fireworks

It was the world famous Knockholt fireworks on Saturday night so I went down for my annual pilgrimage. The pyrotechnics didn't disappoint, though unfortunately the evening wasn't a complete success as the local Chinese food stall weren't selling all their goods off for a bargain pound sterling at the end of the evening like in previous years. The arty side of my was on show with these photos.

© 2007 The Edmondson Blog