Saturday, February 03, 2007

Polly Is Wrong...But She Has a Point

In this week's Press Gazette Polly Toynbee has a right old go at blogging and bloggers in particular. You can read the full article HERE. However, I thought it would be useful to give you some of her main points

If you are going to report on the world of politics, you need to have a strong instinctive sympathy for the political process and the very difficult task politicians face in getting anything done at all. Even if you lean strongly to the right or the left in your views, you need an underlying respect for the business of politics. If you start out assuming that all politicians are
ill-intentioned knaves and bounders who are all out to feather their own nests, you will illuminate nothing for your readers and discover very little of interest. You will be adding to the dangerous anti-democratic mood that is creeping up on us at the moment where every lazy comedian or chat show host regurgitates the current knee-jerk view that Westminster is a palace of rogues who should all be sent packing. There really is no point in becoming a political
commentator if you despise the business, no more point than there would be if
you became a football writer and you hated football.

Me: So far so good.

The world of media is becoming an ever-noisier and brasher place with ever more competition to be heard among the great cacophony of views. And that's before you even click on the internet and get that great explosion of blogging rawness. The quiet reasoned voice does seem to get trampled under the elephant heard of opinionators. But I'm well aware of the insidious pressure to keep turning up the volume, to shout louder. Editors tend to nod with more approval over a piece that will really get the readers going. People say: ‘What's the difference between a blog and column anyway? Isn't MySpace just as good as the Guardian comment pages?' I think not. There is a skill in crafting a column with a beginning, a middle and an end, a coherent argument and at least three facts readers don't know, preferably information gleaned from talking to the leading players in the case.

Me: I'm not sure why that should necessarily be any different from a well argued blog column

There is a risk that the style of the blogosphere is dragging us all along to shout louder. It may be that the short burst of opinion is all anyone can absorb and the longer column becomes too much of a time-investment. A number of us columnists are anxious about it because it is a different style. It's not crafted, you haven't had the time to ring someone up, they want it now. There's a danger that it becomes more opinionated.

Me: Anxious you may be, but yes, it is a different style. I have never seen my blog as attempting to compete with a newspaper column and have been vaguely amused at the reaction of columnists such as Polly Toynbee to blogs. Yes, we can write quickly and get a piece published more quickly than she can, but she has a massive platform in a national newspaper which bloggers do not. Even the most popular bloggers don't get more than 20,000 readers a day.

I have around 50 arch-enemies who seem to get up at about five in the morning — they have obviously never bought The Guardian, they wouldn't contaminate their fingers with it, and they are right-wingers who hate The Guardian and everything it stands for. Letters used to be quite polite, emails were a bit ruder, but this is of another dimension because you can't answer back unless in public because they're anonymous. I think that's wrong — they should have to put their own names up there. It would make them stop and think twice if they thought their colleagues and families would see what they wrote. Anonymity brings out real mischief in us. It is a debased discourse.

Me: This is where I have some sympathy with her. I too am concerned about the validity of anonymous posters. Often I have considered banning them, but as I believe in open discourse I haven't done so. Most of the trolling on blogs is done by anonymous posters. Not all of them are vicious or vile but many are.

There's an old traditional thing if you're a woman, middle class, middle-aged — it goes right back to the beginnings of the Labour Party. You are a class traitor. They really, really hate me. But if you look at middle class women in the Labour Party like Tessa Jowell and Harriet Harman, these women have had far more personal, harsh, vile criticism of them non-stop from Paul Dacre and the Daily Mail than the men have. It goes with the territory.

Me: I'm not sure using Harriet Harman and Tessa Jowell helps her case. And to say that women get a worse deal from the tabloids than male politicians do is a joke. I am not sure Prescott would have much sympathy with her on that one. Polly Toynbee is an intelligent woman. She knows the media world is changing, and like most of her colleagues is flailing around at those who threaten the status quo. Her comfort zone has been ruptured and she doesn't like it. I don't blame her. The forces of conservatism are being deployed by her to maintain things as they are. She won't succeed, but there's no need to be quite so rude to her as she struggles to come to terms with the New Media World. Is there now?

54 comments:

nadders said...

Remember, Iain, she is part of the Sith

Anyway none of the MSM old timers like her of any political bent like blogging. It destroys theire reason to be

Anonymous said...

I think you do well with us anonymous people ,it's about time we can read as to what's going on,instead of a third party telling us ,and slanting it to there view , be it right ,left or centre

Anonymous said...

You think she has a point so do I that she does not want us ordinary folk rocking her boat with reality. Its the likes of her and her attitudes that we have to thank for how we are now.

Praguetory said...

I like the 50 arch-enemies stuff. She says she can't answer back because they're anonymous, but I reckon she would have a job answering back to 50 arch-enemies if they all had names. This piece shows that she is simply lost for an appropriate response to the new world in which she operates. I bet that this is going to be the most fisked article of 2007.

Anonymous said...

"There is a skill in crafting a column with a beginning, a middle and an end,"

Presumably poly filla will be going on a course at some former polytechnic soon, to learn how?

Anonymous said...

Whoops! sorry! I forgot, Davycham says she's absolutely wonderful. Cancel those last remarks!

Anonymous said...

Iain you put up something for us to shoot at and we fire ,it's called opinions ,how can you give an opinion to a newspaper ,the times they are a changin it's people to people talk now

IanP said...

Polly says: You will be adding to the dangerous anti-democratic mood that is creeping up on us at the moment.

does she conveniently forget that this mood backed by legislation eminates from westminster, her party.

Without the bloggers in their various styles, who challenge and delve, we would be in the world of Orwell by now, where Poly herself would be a total slave to propaganda.

Anonymous said...

If she has 50 arch-enemies ,she has a column what's wrong using that ,oh I forgot she wants to tell us what politicians said her way ,democracy in this country that's a joke

verity said...

IanP - I absolutely agree with you. 1984 was fashioned in Westminster and rammed into laws by the Neo Thought Fascists under the malign leadership of Tony Blair (p'lice be upon him).

Many columnists even on conservative newspapers allowed themselves to be intimidated by vile Alastair Campbell. From there, their independence undermined, it was an easy step to obeying the muslim fascist decree that no British papers must publish the cartoons of mohammad. They capitulated completely.

British bloggers bravely picked up the ball and ran with it. (Magazines in Germany, Denmark, France, Jordan, Mexico and some other brave countries, ran the cartoons. Not Britain.) The commentariat of various blogs did the commenting work that national journalists should have done, but didn't, in condemning this thought fascism (aka political correctness).

Toybee's threatened not by the right, but by bloggers in her own sphere of influence, who have the ability to respond to events quickly.

I think Polly Toynbee is a predictable bore, but I don't think her job is threatened. Bloggers and journalists do two different things. People who wear both hats know that while they both require an ability to articulate a stance, the other skills required are slightly different between the two.

Anonymous said...

anti democratic mood?

ahhh she means the million people that Tony ignored, who dared to raise petitions on the No10 database..

Anonymous said...

The forces of conservatism are being deployed by her to maintain things as they are. She won't succeed, but there's no need to be quite so rude to her as she struggles to come to terms with the New Media World. Is there now?

Why not be rude to Polly? Such concerns do not deter Ms Toynbee from being very rude at times to others, including the Conservatives, in her column. Given the hefty fee of c £140,000 p.a. she receives from that column for a few hours work a week, I'm not surprised that Ms Toynbee feels threatened by the no fee bloggers.

As for the extra integrity Polly Toynbee implies newspaper columnists have, she's barking up the wrong dead tree. There's a whole website, Factchecking Pollyanna, which meticulously criticises her numerous factual errors.
http://factcheckingpollyanna.blogspot.com/

"I think that policy debate should be informed by fact, and that Polly does not deliver that...She is widely read, influential and interesting to read. She also has a reputation for thorough, factual research. I think it is undeserved." (Factchecking Polyanna

IanP said...

verity,

when I first started blogging my views were to oppose things that I felt effected me, personally.

a very narrow view perhaps, but as I began to read more, understand more, began to read all the Acts and Bills raised since 9/11, I realised that every one, without exception has a clause in it somewhere that removes an ancient right, or restricts my right to know, or removes a democratic element.

This is my reason now to continue blogging, to shame both politicians and the press if I feel that are being used, manipulated and bias, and expose fraud, lies and deceit.

In my politicians, of whatever political leaning I expect truth, and I mean real truthfullness not a contrived one for an end, and if that means running a story that exposes that, I will.
I may not be the most subtle of writers, but if the truth gets out there, then I'm happy.

I have no faith at this point in time in any politician, I have not heard one stand up and argue, insist on the rights of the people, one that has promised to reverse this madness.

Until I do, none will get my vote.

Anonymous said...

New Labour's boring and dishonest Grande Dame Toynbee and some other pompous establishment hacks like her don't want their hegemony threatened by what they, in their arrogance, regard as the hoi polloi.

Well tough,Polly, it's happening. Learn to live with it or retire gracefully. Unless you know of some plans afoot, by your friends in Government, to destroy free speech on the internet and restore the old status quo?

judith said...

You get a damn sight more thoughtful argument and factual information on sites like this, Guido and ConsHom, etc, than you do in the broadsheets nowadays.

La Toynbee sees her status being eroded, and as a Labour aristocrat, she shrieking from her tumbril as it rolls towards Madame Guillotine.

t.w.hereward said...

Don't you just love

"...at least three facts readers don't know, preferably information gleaned from talking to the leading players in the case"

What she means, of course, is three carefully-crafted factoids given to her by Gordon Brown's people and retailed by her verbatim, and without checking, in the next morning's column.

Her entire modus operandi

Anonymous said...

Does Polly Toynbee have any idea of what a ludicrous figure she has become, she is little more than a cliche of knee jerk political correctness, pomposity, and Government toadying.

It's no wonder readers have deserted the Guardian in droves.

Anonymous said...

We owe a lot to bloggers and the net in general. If there was still a de facto monopoly on news coverage controlled by the No. 10 Press Office just think what more the Government would have got away with.

Anonymous said...

"If you start out assuming that all politicians are ill-intentioned knaves and bounders who are all out to feather their own nests, you will illuminate nothing for your readers and discover very little of interest"

-oh, I don't know. The first political blogger that springs to mind proclaims that assumption as his creed, and yet he has certainly illuminated us with things of much interest recently!

"There really is no point in becoming a political commentator if you despise the business, no more point than there would be if you became a football writer and you hated football"

-Rubbish. Football is a mere game, and if, like me, you neither play it nor support a team, then it has absolutely no impact on your life. What goes on in parliament, however, affects every one of us, whether we're interested in the mechanics of politics or not. Surely in a democracy everyone has the right to voice their opinions about the affairs of the nation?

Anonymous said...

"There really is no point in becoming a political commentator if you despise the business, no more point than there would be if you became a football writer and you hated football"

You can take an interest in a business while also despising it. There would be no point in being a football writer if you weren't interested in it.

In this phrase Toynbee uses the classic NL technique called "misdirection" to further her flawed argument.

leftofcentre said...

Polly's character assassination of John Reid for the Guardian last year rather undermines her argument, it was vicious and intemperate. If Polly forsakes journalistic integrity in favour of becoming Gordon's groupie she can hardly criticise those of us without a weekly column for trying to express our opinions in the only way left possible.

Anonymous said...

As I dont buy newspapers and cant remember her on tv ,but have just read Iain's header ,she sounds like a Luddite ,not worth bothering about

Anonymous said...

Dear Polly Toynbee,

I understand that you believe that poverty is relative and that no one should live in poverty.

Compared to you, I am very poor and live in relative poverty. I also have to work many more hours than you do to survive, so have no life-work balance to speak of.

So, can I very politely ask you to please send me a few thousand pounds a year to even up the unfair income disparity between us? As that won't make me any where near as rich as you are, can I also spend half the year in your Italian mansion while you cover my job for 10 hours a day?

polly the sith said...

Polly has been a shamless propagandist for Gordon Brown of late . She has inflicted the damage and dishonour upon her own reputation. This article is petulant and disingenuous. She cannot indulge in factionalism and propaganda and then claim the moral high ground.

pull the other one polly said...

I imagine Goebbels portrayed himself as a martyr. Polly and Gordon share the same antipathy for dissent and contempt for their opponents.

morrocanroll said...

Yes, I'm one of the Toynbee baiters at 2.00am. After Boris johnson exposed Polly has having an Italian villa (as well as her Clapham Park castle) and having used private education for her charges, fellow Guardian writer Zoe Williams wrote a defence of Polly and her villa.

I blogged on and the added the bit about the private education, which set a lot of other bloggers off. Then some genius came on to remind us that the fragrant Zoe had also had a private education.

Honestly the shit that was sprayed at those two girls was amazing.

Remember Polly and Zoe - 7 percent of people are privately educated. The great unwashed regards such a priviledge as meaning that you should keep your rarified opinions to yourself.

John Miller said...

Laugh? I nearly started. For dear old Polly to be banging on about how she and other rich, titled and well connected people should be the only ones to have a public voice is risible, but predictable. The really hilarious point is to hold her own column up as a model for all - "Factchecking Pollyanna" was one of my favourite blogs, which exposed her pieces in the Guardian as being inaccurate, ill researched poorly written rubbish.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymity brings out real mischief in us. It is a debased discourse."

Debased maybe, honest definitely. That's the key. Personally, I think Polly's argument is pompous. It's basically saying "we commentators are special, how dare you enter our domain".

Graeme Archer said...

t.w.hereward at 1155 wrote: Don't you just love

"...at least three facts readers don't know, preferably information gleaned from talking to the leading players in the case"

What she means, of course, is three carefully-crafted factoids given to her by Gordon Brown's people and retailed by her verbatim, and without checking, in the next morning's column.

Her entire modus operandi


Completely right mr tw! And not just Polly Toynbee (you'd need a heart of stone not to laugh at her article) -- think of all those BBC Today programme "special correspondents" who line up at 6.15am every morning for their "live" 1x1s with the studio, the point of which is to read out, verbatim, whatever press release the government has faxed to them that day. Some of them can't even manage that without getting tongue-tied but, honestly, the amount of "What the government really wants to do [it says here] is to fix the health service/save the aged/make everyone happy" is nearly funny.

I not so sure she's wrong about anonymity though. There are some occasions on which it is required - eg whistle-blowing. But the widespread use of anonymity is (I think) debasing the currency of some discussion boards. I think about people on CHome who write the most disgustingly venomous attacks on individuals and groups: would they do so if they were not permitted anonymity? I know it's a useful check on myself - try to be kinder Graeme - that I don't hide my identity.

I think it's worth at least thinking about her point on that.

[thinks about it]

I think anonymity works on a lightly-moderated site like this one with an Editor one trusts. I don't think it's such a good idea on un-moderated sites, because it leads to such vicious postings that put normal people off browsing.

Anonymous said...

"If you start out assuming that all politicians are ill-intentioned knaves and bounders who are all out to feather their own nests, you will illuminate nothing for your readers and discover very little of interest"

Hmmm... I wonder if Polly Pot was scribbling around the time of "Tory Sleaze" (Hamilton, Aitken et al).

If she really believes she has "50 arch enemies" she's completely a barking egomaniac. Even the guy who did the Pollyfisking blog didn't spend that much time on it.

Most people just think she's an ignorant twonk, they don't actually *care* about it.

To anyone with a functioning brain, most of her stuff invites ridicule, it's hardly even worth challenging. It must be embarrassing to the intelligent labour voters (ok, query plural there)

e.g. "You will be adding to the dangerous anti-democratic mood that is creeping up on us at the moment"

Yes ...... now let me see, who is it who wants laws without debate and, extensive detention without charge, for example, oh yes, it's the BLOGGERS Polly.

Anonymous said...

An arch-enemy responds?
Mono-Polly on Polly-tical Commentary.

antifrank said...

The abuse heaped on Polly Toynbee on the Guardian by some is a disgrace, and I write as someone who will readily criticise her when she has written one of her dull partisan puffs. She is a serious journalist, who in her best articles thinks carefully about the subject matter. She deserves civility at the very least, even if (as I regularly do) you disagree with her perspective completely.

fr said...

When I was a young boy growing up in the 50s I was told that it was wrong to criticise the Royal Family because "they could not answer back". How nostalgic to see Polly using the same argument.

eddie said...

I don't accept the point about anonymity... because how else does the system work? Who's to say that my name really is Eddie? Why do I have more credibility if I have a blogger profile than if I had simply clicked "anonymous"? Any old fool can sign up to blogger and pretend to be someone they aren't.

We have to accept the problems anonymity brings with it, because the only alternative is a central system which requires one to insert the citizen's ID card into a reader, receive a fingerprint or iris scan for authentication and sit back while Big Brother snoops.

We are all anonymous, blogger profile or not, unless we choose to reveal details about ourselves. And if some of us choose not to do that, then what skin is it off your nose that we don't wish to leave traces of our identity all over the internet? On what grounds can you demand that you have the right to know who is reading and commenting? (these are rhetorical questions; I am not expecting an answer as I'm sure you have some sympathy with my point, Iain)

Just my 2p.

fr said...

It takes a little bit of effort to set up a blog. A committed astro -turfer would have to do it several times a week or a pattern
of comments would emerge.

Anonymous said...

nadders - it doesn't destroy their 'reason to be'. Nonsense.

Journalists have to check their sources, double-check their facts and go for an in-depth discussion, beyond a quick soundbite.

There may be an overlap between our host Mr Dale and columnists. After all, Richard Littlejohn isn't going to give him any sleepless nights.

But to try and argue that Guido Fawkes is a more impartial journo than, say, George Jones is just twaddle.

Anonymous said...

The comfort zone of Holland Park socialists is easily ruptured Iain. Methinks she doth protest too much; who the heck is she to determine who can and cannot post on the internet. Toynbee's aristocratic origins are betrayed in her views; really what she is saying is no more than a anti-democratic statememt, which is that People like Her should be the ones listened to. PTs articles are sometimes very enjoyable, but always, as when for example she goes to live amongst the "poor workers" for a time, always slightly nauseating.

Anonymous said...

I've read and enjoyed the Guardian since the 70s but have always particularly found Toynbee to be rather thick and misinformed. I could never understand why they keep her on; she writes in an inflammatory style and is well below the journalistic standards of a quality paper, which the Guardian has been in the past despite the prejudices of people on this blog. I once saw a late-night BBC talking heads programme where Michael White pretty much had a shouting match with her and made mincemeat of her "points". What on earth is it all about? Perhaps the Toynbee family have a secret entry written into the Guardian Trust company articles or something stipulating jobs for life. The other side of this is the usual journalistic despair over the internet, which is of course murdering their papers. But not the blogs; they are essentially peripheral, so as usual her target is wrong - all the evidence shows that it is the BBC news website that forms the competition. Why buy a paper?

jafo said...

Gosh Polly, those "ordinary people" have not only learned to read (and not the Guardian) but they can write too. and use computers, despite your adored Government's best efforts in the education field.

It's just not fair they don't appreciate all Lady Bountiful Toynbee has done for them in forcing her opinions down their throats.

All the time she was extolling comprehensive education whilst sending her own children to private schools, demanding to know what everyone else's salary was whilst refusing to tell us what she earned - safe in the knowledge that The Guardian would print all the rubbish she produced and not question it.

She's the typical New Labour hypocrite - and in the immortal words of Corporal Jones - they don't like it up 'em!

Anonymous said...

no doubt the accusations will fly, but I particularly dislkie the last paragraph mentioned here.

To say she and other female politicians are victimised becuase they are women is a disgrace.

This is the worst sort of defence, she may as well say it is because she is 'coloured.' If you can't defeat your enemies with argument then stooping to slander is the next step. I note she has no supporting argument for this.

Here's one, which Labour ministers have had More 4 piss-take documentaries made about them? Two, neither of whom are women.

It is nonesense and a disgrace. Perhaps, on relfecting, with such nasty throw away comments like this she may realise why she is so disliked.

So tell me how she thinks still he exists on a higher moral plane than her critics?

Eleanor said...

Polly ,It is called getting your comeuppence.

Anonymous said...

One cannot help but suspect that "Dave" likes "Polly" because of a shared aristocratic hauteur disdain for the great unwashed. I suspect once in office Dave will be more Douglas Home than Margeret Thatch. Anyone for a grouse shoot?

Anonymous said...

"dangerous anti-democratic mood that is creeping up on us"

That would be those awful ordinary people not obeying the Guardianista thought police. Obviously time to legislate for a new hate crime of despising Polly.

P2 said...

" The quiet reasoned voice does seem to get trampled under the elephant heard of opinionators."

Posters write and publish fast, part of why Polly Toynbee objects to them and their raw responses. Even so, their orthographic errors tend to be typos, not this kind of revelatory mistake.

What might be a heard of elephants? Distant trumpeting? "Opinionators' is a made up word, which is fine, but could be better ending in'er' but she would go with the poncy ending wouldn't she ?

If you cannot spell, as a stuck up journalist you can get an editor who can; or pull your head in about bloggers and posters.

no longer anonymous said...

She probably dislikes the rise of right-wing libertarianism and conservatism on the net. If all these bloggers were raving lefties she wouldn't complain.

P2 said...

Libertarianism is neither rightwing nor leftwing; it is anti-statist.

Anonymous said...

My thought would be, she's seen the way things are going Internet wise and has started to do a bit of PR ,it's a good way to get known these days ,ask ch4bb , stir up the blogger you know

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:40, you are right, never underestimate the grasping self-serving nature of journos! Nor their stupidity! How long has it taken her to cotton on to the threat? She must be extraordinarily feather-bedded at the Gruaniad.

However, behind all this assault on Ms Toynperson lies a truth - that the last piece of non-right-wing press in Britain is now crumbling. Everything else belongs to either Murdoch or Dacre, both of them lunatics. Hence their assault on the BBC website recently, which whilst it isn't exactly left is at least not frothing-right as per the Mail, Sun, Times, etc, etc, etc, etc.... the Big Lie is the "media lefties" - now they are all in fact media righties. Simply put, the satraps of big business media will not rest until we have no independent voices left. For all it's chaotic inability to spell, the Guardian Group has in the past been one of the few bastions of freedom we had in Britain. What many of you Tories don't seem to realise is that once Murdoch is in total control, and the government wholly rendered as an instrument of big business as it nearly is, there will be precious little room for the small business. All will work for Tesco! There is an aristocracy to come that will make ancient Rome look like a nice cosy little friendship league. Don't kid yourselves that you have a role in it. The SS will live once more in a new guise.

P2 said...

' For all it's chaotic inability to spell, the Guardian Group has in the past been one of the few bastions of freedom we had in Britain. What many of you Tories ...' writes Anon.2.05.

There is orthography; there is failure to conform to it from ignorance; there is failure to conform to it from incompetence; there is non-conformity from choice;or from rhetorical device; what you will.

But 'its' and 'it's' are not available for choosing (nor are 'heard' and 'herd') , other than choosing meaning.

And the Guardian is not a bastion of freedom either; it's a power house of statist propaganda funded by the Labour Party's vote-buying quangoes, jobs, public service announcements, and their advertisement .

Blairs Paid Ego Parrot said...

You try and shout at Blair!?He's never in public except at staged events.If I actually saw him I'd shout 'liar' at the top of my lungs.I wouldn't feel the need to state my name before doing it!Mrs Toynbee is a lefty through and through.She's worried about her pieces being opinionated?Her opinions are evidenced by the organisations she supports and the company she keeps.visit Guardianlies.com for a view of what the Guardian 'stands for'.When Blair falls and his nails force away the brickwork with him.One of the faces that you will see,exposed behind the removed facade will be Mrs Toynbee's.

Chuck Unsworth said...

Surely no one takes The Toynbee seriously, do they? I always thought her articles were some advanced form of satire. Is this not so?

Liz said...

Yes Iain she does have a point. I hate all of these anonymous contributors - I tend now to scroll through those who are unwilling to put their name to their contribution. I also ignore, journalists and bloggers who name "sources" as the basis of their stories. My view is that they probably made it up for a headline.

Whether you like it or not, I think she has a valid point regarding her being a middle class woman who supports the Labour Party. It is right to challenge some of her opinions but this is often undertaken in a disgraceful and discourteous manner by some. In my humble opinion, strong women with opinions are disliked by many. She also makes valid comment about some of the right wing press whose main aim is to undermine this government. Popping into the Daily Mail site occasionally is illuminating and clearly supports her views. She is also right about how the political process is being undermined by journalists whose editors seek a headline. This does not serve democracy (whatever party is in government) and it certainly diminishes journalists standing in our society. All it ensures is that people will not vote or else vote for a fringe candidate to show their disapproval. Surely having different views leads to debate and is healthy. Why are you all villifying her?

PJ said...

Strange that Pol get's so excited about the New Media.
Back in the days of Maggie Thatcher I don't remember her being so critical of alternative comedy's campaign of vilification against the Tory government and the broadcasters giving it a platform to do so. Nor was she so condemnatory of the 'Red Wedge' circle of musicians following the same agenda. No made up names then of course - doubtless some proud parents actually asked for Captain Sensible to be entered on their son's birth certificate.

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