Archive for March 21st, 2005

I came across this article on a blog about Kilroy-Silk recently and was quite impressed with it.

Yes, of couse I know that you know that I like Kilroy-Silk dear reader, but you have heard my views so it will be nice to hear what others on the Internet have to say.

Whoever wrote it was at the same event as I was, the launch of the Veritas Party a 1 St Georges Street, Westminster. I was one of the photographers there. I can confirm that the writer has the questions by some of the more idiotic main line journalists there, pretty accurate.

Anyway here it is…

What is it about Kilroy?

The man excites the most extraordinary passions and I cannot quite understand why. The comments on this blog are enough to make one’s hair stand on end. When one looks at the ridiculously personalized attacks in the media one is lost in admiration: how can one man get so many talentless hacks quite so excited?

When Robert Kilroy-Silk first announced that he was joining UKIP and standing for the European Parliament, a perfectly sensible friend said to me that it is a bad idea as the British people do not really take to people like him.

Excuse me, I pointed out, but he has run an exceedingly popular TV programme for 17 years. If that is a sign of unpopularity and the British people not liking him then I am the Queen of Sheba. (No comments please about that – I am not.)

Is it the fact that the man is successful? There are plenty of successful people around, though not necessarily in politics or, for that matter, journalism. Is it that he refuses to play up to the prevailing trend and never puts on a “cheeky-chappie” persona? Could be.

Is it that he knows his own worth? Well yes, that is a heinous crime in the British media, unless you happen to be a film actor (of either sex) who comes back from Hollywood, tail between legs, to explain that he or she could not cope with tinseltown’s ethos. (More like they didn’t want you, the reader longs to shout, but this rubbish does get written up solemnly.)

Or perhaps it is the insouciance with which he stands up and rubbishes the entire media-political establishment, a view with which many people out in the big bad world are in sympathy– something that denizens of that world cannot admit to.

Coupled with that is the man’s palpable contempt for the hacks. He, let us recall, was a reasonably successful politician who got out because the Labour Party was being taken over by the Militant Tendency, while many of his colleagues knuckled under.

He became a very successful media personality, journalist and businessman, who was dropped by the BBC because of his opinions. His former colleagues, though, knuckle under. When Kilroy rubbishes the journos before him, he makes it clear that he knows what they are up to as he is one of them himself. Unspoken behind that comment, pronounced with Mack the Knife-type geniality is another one: but I am successful and you are not or you would not be here.

Much of this was obvious at that famous launch that everyone has an opinion about. As I watched the third party launch of my life in politics, I could not help noting the differences.

The biggest of these was the presence of representatives of all the biggies in the media. The place was packed with journalists, photographers, cameramen. Alan Sked, who was rather good with the media could not have managed anything like that.

The post-Sked leadership of UKIP mostly receive publicity when they put their foot in it (vide Godfrey Bloom), with the exception of Nigel Farage and his entirely admirable attack on the new Commissioners’ probity. (Even he managed to get things wrong and has not been capable of moving on to another subject.)

But Kilroy did it. The launch of his party was covered by every newspaper, every agency, every TV channel. And they hated it. The man was attacking politicians and their lies but all his listeners knew that the media has been complicit in those lies.

The journos had come to the launch to write two stories: one was about Kilroy’s tan, the other about Kilroy getting tough on immigration, that is, somehow, necessarily a racist policy.

I shall not comment on the tan – I know nothing about it. But I did think it was a bit silly to keep harping on about immigration as if it was still a taboo subject. Somebody asked Kilroy whether he could compare himself with Enoch Powell and whether he thought Powell had been a racist.

One longed to go up to the little chap or chapess and say: “Powell died some years ago. Get over it.” Kilroy did not put it quite like that but informed the questioner that Veritas intended to look forward and not back. He wondered whether he was going to be compared to Genghis Khan. (Actually, that would not be a bad thing. The man was an extremely successful military and political leader.)

Andrew Gimson of the Daily Telegraph thought the comparison with Powell was perfectly reasonable since both men were talking about immigration. Mr Gimson should get out more. An awful lot of people are talking about immigration.

The subject has become a big topic across the whole of Europe. Politicians in the Netherlands, to mention one country, are grappling with the subject and I doubt that any of them have even heard of Enoch Powell.

Then there was Colm Toîbin of the Times who asked if Kilroy had spoken the truth in his entire career. Coming from a journalist that is quite an interesting question. No, he was told, as a Labour spokesman, Kilroy had had to defend all sorts of daft things, like unilateral disarmament. But he was not going to do that again.

The best moment came when a young chap from PA (I think), one who had clearly gone into agency journalism straight out of college, asked if Kilroy had ever had a proper job, that being a prerequisite for being able to talk to ordinary people.

Even a Kilroy hater must rejoice in the answer, which consisted of a devastating put-down about being “unlike you” and running a company that employed “sixty grown-up people”.

Not only was this a silly question from a journalist (what on earth did the lad think a proper job was?) but it was also an example of “sloppy journalism”. If you are sent out on an assignment, you do your homework first. Kilroy’s career is not a secret. Ten minutes on the net would have saved the boy a great deal of embarrassment.

Where does all this knock-about stuff leave Veritas? Its political future is hard to predict, since much depends on circumstances the party and its leader have no control over. For example, what the Conservative Party will do or say in the election campaign.

It is, however, undeniably true that the proportion of people in this country who bother to vote is going down. The reason is clearly not that electors can no longer manage to work out where the polling station is but that they do not think it is worth their while to put a cross on that piece of paper. Much of that stems from a confused and imprecise but, nevertheless, accurate understanding that the people we elect are not the ones who legislate.

The gap between the people and the political elite in this country has not been this wide for a very long time and there probably is place for another party somewhere in there.

The question is what is the party stands for. The notion that you can campaign on something called British values is silly. What are they? Fox-hunting? Fish and chips? Going to bingo? Getting drunk on Fridays and Saturdays? Tending to your garden? Doing DIY? Warm beer and bad food? Ice-cold lager and somewhat better food? Who knows.

The main problem, it seems to me, is the basic notion of “listening to the people”. Of course, politicians ought to have some idea of what it is people want, but forming policies on that basis and nothing else gives you a bar-room manifesto. Some basic political ideas must be present as well. In fact, that is the problem with the main parties as far as most voters are concerned – they have no ideas and no convictions.

If Veritas is to survive and thrive, it must come up with a notion of what sort of country it would like to see. Yes, we want to get out of the euro-mess. But what do we do afterwards?

Without imitating or stealing their clothes, Veritas could look at the newly announced Conservative fisheries policy, that tries to answer that very question. Then do what the Tories seem unable to do and look at other topics in the same way.

Perhaps, a good starting point would be that we want to see a free people in a free country; a people who are self-reliant in a country that takes its place proudly in the world.

Of course, one has to accept that the journos will not write about it. But we, in the blogosphere, shall.

EUReferendum.blogspot.com

Well there you are folks, I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Andrew

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Abu Dhabi – The Emirates Palace Hotel


The Palace Hotel – Emirates (Abu Dhabi)

Well… this is certainly some hotel. The London Metro states that a night in this Palace of luxury can cost £7,000 a night. However, if you go for a cheaper option, the Observer states:

Factfile

A double room at the Emirates Palace Hotel costs from £300 inclusive of breakfast and 20 per cent service charge (00 971 2 690 9000; www.emiratespalace.com; or book at www.kempinski.com).

In fact last Friday’s Metro goes on to say…

FANCY bathing in champagne, sleeping between scented sheets and cooling off round the pool with the help of hotel staff armed with water sprays?

A single night of such pampering will set you back £6,766 – plus 20 per cent service charge at the new Emirates Palace. [for a three-bedroomed suite – ed]

The Abu Dhabi hotel opens to the public on Sunday and, at £1.5 billion, claims to be the most expensive hotel ever built. Although it has fewer than 400 rooms, the Palace boasts 128 kitchens and pantries, 20 restaurants and 755 plasma screens.

Its 144 domes are adorned with 1,002 custom-made Swarovski crystal chandeliers – requiring a full-time staff of ten to keep them clean.

The hotel is so sprawling that staff will be equipped with golf carts to navigate its endless corridors.

Even when it is full, employees will outnumber guests by six to one. On arrival, guests will be whisked from the airport in a luxury limousine. They will sip cocktails during check-in while a concierge stands by to prepare one of seven perfumed baths listed on a special menu.

If you are prepared to pay a few thousand pounds more, you can get your tub filled with the very finest champagne.

During turndown service, staff put sachets of lavender between the sheets and under pillows.

By the pool and beach, assistants clean sunglasses and supply fruit sticks.

General manager Willy Optekamp says he wants his guests to feel as though they have been whisked away to old Arabia.

`Everyone will be – treated like royalty,’ he added. `After all, they are at the Palace.’


An average bedroom suite at the Palace

To wet your appetite further, here is a snippit from the Sundat Times…

It officially opens on March 7, but The Sunday Times was given an exclusive preview. Last weekend, I checked in to discover just what all that money could buy.

The bare statistics certainly whetted my curiosity: an entrance arch 40 metres high and 36 metres wide, just a shade smaller than the Arc de Triomphe; a lobby-atrium with a dome larger than St Paul’s Cathedral, topped by a two-metre finial made of solid gold — 20kg of it. Just to walk around the place would take almost an hour.

Even so, when I caught my first glimpse of the hotel, I was taken aback by its scale. It is a colossus: the architects describe it as the Taj Mahal of the Middle East, though its dusky-pink granite and rose-coloured marble facade, delicate Arabic carvings, endless domes and scalloped arches are much more in keeping with Granada’s magnificent Alhambra. I hardly noticed its beauty, though — I was too preoccupied with its size.

A few minutes later, it was showtime. As my car pulled up alongside the hotel’s fleet of white Rolls-Royces, a guard of honour of 25 white-shirted bellboys flashed Colgate smiles right on cue.

Meanwhile, four enormous Kenyan doormen, in uniforms created by a former Versace designer, helped me from the car, magicking away my bag and ushering me towards reception.

Inside, an entourage of “international ambassadors” pounced, offering a choice of Arabic kahwa (coffee), German hot chocolate or Moroccan or Asian tea. I opted for coffee. One sip, and my guest ambassador guided me through to the Grand Atrium, the pièce de résistance, where the orgy of excess continued in earnest.

The Emirates Palace has so many biggest and best boasts, it could have its own chapter in the Guinness Book of Records, but the atrium is the whistles and bells, the jaw-dropping big daddy of them all — 60 metres high, 42 metres wide and topped with the largest dome in the world. Staff need golf carts to negotiate their way around it. It is decorated with 13 colours of marble, ranging from sunrise yellow to sunset red (to reflect the many hues of the desert), and lots and lots and lots of gold: 6,040 square metres of gold leaf cover the largest gilded expanse ever created in one building. It’s even in the food. I ate gold leaf on my chocolate cake. Apparently, it aids digestion.

Click here if you want to read the full article.

I decided to find out how much it would cost if I took my wife there for a weekend. First of all, I would need a limousine – definitely a Rolls Royce – to take me from my little maisonnette in West Finchley to Heathrow – cost including gratuity £440.

Then first class flights, leaving Heathrow after work in Friday, and returning to Heathrow in time to get home for a 9:00am start for the week. Gulf Air had just the flights for both of us for £2353.80.

Then, as I would be travelling in first class style, I wouldn’t want anything less than their best suite, now would I?

There are suites of up to three bedrooms but, according to expedia.com, a deluxe one bedroom suite (1,775 square feet) would cost us a total of £3,391.00 including service charge. And, I suppose, if our friends brought camp beds, we could put up a few dozen of them without even noticing!

I guess the £7,000 quoted in the Metro is not only for the larger three bedroom suite, but also, at present, all room charges are being heavily discounted until the Hotel and staff “gel together“.

Anyway, after reflection, I thought paying over £6,000 for a weekend away was a little too much, so we went to Brighton instead!

And who is running this superb property? Read on dear reader…

KEMPINSKI OPENS EMIRATES PALACE IN ABU DHABI

Kempinski Hotels & Resorts, the world’s oldest luxury hotel collection, has been chosen to operate the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, officially opening in March of this year. Geneva-based Kempinski was selected because of its century-long experience managing legendary hotels such as the Adlon in Berlin, the Vier Jahrezeiten in Munich, the Baltschug in Moscow and the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul. “It is a great honor for us to have been invited by the rulers of Abu Dhabi to run this five-star-plus deluxe palace,” says Reto Wittwer, Kempinski president and CEO, “and it is both our Middle East flagship and our newest landmark hotel.”

Considered to be the most expensive hotel ever built, the Emirates Palace is monumental and enormous, opulent and plush, but never garish. The design of the hotel incorporates the beauty of traditional Arabian elements such as the Grand Atrium dome finished in silver and gold glass mosaic tiles, and topped by a golden finial. The color mirrors the shades of the desert. Seen from afar, the Emirates Palace seems to rise from the shimmering sand itself, as if in a mirage.

The building is 1 kilometer in length and has, in reality, three interconnecting elements. It is a 346-room ultra-luxury hotel, complete with private butler service for every guest. It is also the Middle East’s most sophisticated convention center. And it is the official guest palace of the government of Abu Dhabi, with 22 three-bedroom suites capable of hosting as many heads of state and their entourages – without one ever bumping into the other.

The Emirates Palace is unlike any luxury venue in the world, with:

  • 1000 staff members representing 40 nationalities
  • 114 domes, of which the largest – the Grand Atrium – is higher than the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome
  • The Emirates Palace Archway, covered in Italian stone, and bigger than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris
  • 1002 Swarovski crystal chandeliers, including some of the world’s largest
  • Over one million square feet of marble, imported from Italy, Spain, China, and India
  • 200 fountains amid 600 acres of exotic park grounds, home to over 8,000 trees, and the palace’s private heliport
  • A mile-long stretch of Abu Dhabi’s most beautiful sandy beach.

Throughout the entire palace, roses abound: in the rooms, in the public areas, in the private spaces – some 20,000 are used every day. Two extensive landscaped pools are located on the grounds, and two sumptuous spas will shortly be open. By the end of 2005, all 20 restaurants will be operating.

“The United Arab Emirates is home to many spectacular hotels,” observes Kempinski’s Wittwer, “but it is the Emirates Palace that brings a heightened level of opulence, refinement and grandeur to this part of the world.”

Finally, as we have gone on long enough today, here is a link for more photographs of this wonderous hotel.

If you want to go to the hotel’s website, take the link below my sign-out.

Andrew

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