Memories are Made of This.


Working from home, running one’s own highly successful clothing company gives one the access to the ample cash and leisure time necessary to be able to regularly treat the GLW to all the niceties of life and numerous nights out at the cinema to watch all this year’s Oscar-nominated movies in order to make up one’s own mind as to whose name should be revealed and the winners on the big night in Hollywood.

On the other hand, if you’re like me and you’ve got sod-all business coming your way,  you can make use of any two-for one offers on seats at the local Pictures and stick them on the ever-loving IBS credit card (and no, that’s not a typo). Or some might, I suppose, take advantage to the local hookie DVD-producer and settle down with the Missus on the couch with a bottle of Sainsbury’s own-brand vodka, a carton of orange and a tube of Pringles in front of a film which every 17.5 minutes flashes up the watermark “NOT FOR PUBLIC VIEWING. FOR ACADEMY APPROVAL ONLY).

I couldn’t bear that.

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So anyway, since we spoke on the subject last, we have managed to take in a few flicks, nominated or otherwise.  First up came Sunshine on Leith, a musical treat set in The People’s Republic of Claledonia and based, loosely around the music of The Proclaimers. Nothing bad to say about this one: it has the raw feel of The Commitments, the fun of Billy Elliot, the wit & grace of Alex Salmond (just kidding— I know those don’t exist) and the sensational soundtrack of Craig & Charlie Reid. This brought back so many happy memories for me. Not of Edinburgh (sorry, Embra), you understand—though I have spent many a wonderful wobbly weekend up there— but more clearly of the afternoon eight of us sat in a room attempting to rid a pal of a nasty ganglion on his finger.

There are many different treatments available in the NHS for the rid of these little buggers, and they were all considered at length. However we opted for the ‘patient’s’ wrist being held down by one of our group while others in the party took it in turns to— and apologies if this gents a bit to scientific and technical for you guys— whack the cyst with a copy of a Collins Dictionary (not the travel edition) or any other heavy volume or implement we could lay our hands on. As an anaesthetic we chose Red Stripe, Gordon’s (Green) and Smirnoff Blue (a bottle of which at one stage doubled as a ganglion-whacking tool).

To take the victi patient’s mind off of all this the record of choice was 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. It was played dozens and dozens and dozens of times, at full volume and right up to the cyst was treated/the police arrived/we all passed out (perm any 2 from 3).

The song is indelibly etched into my brain because of that afternoon and I cannot hear the song without recalling that particular afternoon. Unless I think of the time when a bunch of us went up to Shepherds Bush to a Proclaimers gig and, as the boys were singing 500 Miles, the bloke next to me was punching another geezer in the earhole, while a third was trying to insert a can of Tennents Lager into him. Carnage ensued.

Happy Days.

My trip down Livvery Lane was re-awakened as we next viewed The Wolf of Wall Street the other evening. Martin Scorcese’s Gordon Gecko-meets-Goodfellas epic (a movie lasting 3 hours means at least 2 pee breaks for me nowadays). This is again a fun movie, but not fun in the way you’d want to take your auntie Enid to watch it (unless auntie Enid is into cocaine abuse, foul language and group, anal sex. I know mine is.) Leonardo Dicaprio is nominated (in my house anyway) for The Best Jack Nicholson Impression since Heath Ledger played the Joker in Batman Award, which is not a criticism, I just prefer Jack playing Jack and Leo play Leo.

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The action is relentless, each scene filled with drunkenness, drug-taking orgies and the sort of behaviour that was banned from dealing rooms weeks ago. Many of the characters in the movie reminded me of my pals in the London markets whooping it up after a long hard slog in the City in the 1980s and 1990s. They worked hard and played hard. I was privileged to be invited along to many a booze-laced session of mayhem at some dive-bar or other in the square mile. They were generous to a fault and extremely welcoming, although unlike some of the players in this movie, none of those present in London ever offered to let me snort cocaine from their sphincter.

Praise be.

And so filled with warm, nostalgic,romantic glee, (as you know I always try to be), it was with some great anticipation that I settled down to watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.   My parents were card-carrying members of the Dany Kaye Fan Club and I fondly remember several Sunday afternoons in front of the TV watching the original version of this classic movie, with the brilliant Kaye having my father in stitches and therefore, by extension, me in fits of laughter too. I spent more time laughing at Dad laughing at the telly that I did laughing at the telly itself. (also explains my love of Laurel & Hardy;Buster Keaton;Dad’s Army et al).

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And BOY! what memories came flooding back with this new offering from Ben Stiller. As beautiful as this movie looks, as thoughtfully directed as it is by Stiller the Director, as funny as is Stiller the Actor, as epic a journey as our hero embarks on, and as memorable a movie-going experience this is for, I’m sure, many people, it had the teeniest little flaw for me, and I suspect many like me:

Without trying to spoil the movie, (so look away now if you don’t want to read anything about it at all) or giving away the plot too much, or even reading too much into it: the movie opens and we find the titular character working in the Photo Department of LIFE Magazine in the Time Life building, New York. Ivy League 24 year-olds have decided that this Giant of a Magazine needs to be stripped to the bollocks, dispense with the services of a huge amount of staff and be replaced by an online version. What was once a world-respected publication, produced by brilliant journalists & photographers, decent people and experienced & loyal workers will soon be an App to be shred alongside Flappy Birds and Mailonline [aren’t these two the same thing?—Ed].

Walter is plagued by snooty fuckwits, hounding him about photos and even negatives— which they plainly know woefully little about— and who he regularly fantasises about beating to a pulp with his fists, or with dirty great lumps of concrete, or ripping their heads off, or throwing him off the building into the heavy London traffic below. I mean them.  I mean New York..

Seeing my shrink first thing in the morning.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY

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Is that Pounds or Guineas ?


They tell me that, at one stage yesterday, all British national newspapers were interested in buying those photos of the Prince Harry starkers. Then ever so slowly, and one after another they dropped out. A few still published them on their websites, then gradually one-by-one they pulled them from their site. They were, apparently going for 10K a set. I don’t know if that was 10k Exclusive, English Language rights only, or as a share. Seems a lot of money to spend on a set of snaps, knowing that your rivals up the street had exactly the same set of pics.

The Sun mocks-up its own           version of those photos

Maybe it was this high price which made them pull out of the deal. Maybe it was the risk of upsetting Lord Leveson. Perhaps they didn’t want to upset The Palace or the NPA, or whoever nowadays hands out press passes to national events. We will have a couple of funerals in town coming up in the not-too-distant future, I guess, then a coronation and probably a christening or eight ? That’s a lot of monkey positions in the press pen to be giving away for the sake of a muzzy pic of some ginger pubes. Or maybe they didn’t buy the photos because they stopped and thought “Hang-on! Why don’t we respect this guy’s right to party on down. Public don’t need to see these. Stuff the pics ” ?  No, I don’t think that happened either. I do know one journal which did exactly that, but they are not in Fleet St. Anymore.

So you’re looking down the wrong end of a £10,000 deal for a set of not-very-exclusive snaps of a nude ginger bloke. Hmmm… I guess in the world of the internet, it’s rather difficult to keep anything at all exclusive. Back in the day of hard prints, analogue wires and when BBC Ceefax was the source of information 24 hours a day, it was a lot easier to find a set of exclusives.

In around 1985 I was a young freelancer selling photos generated by a very small agency to national newspapers in Fleet St. I was enjoying a beer (no, really, I was) one evening after work with a colleague when a young photographer we’d sent out a few hours earlier “to see what you can find” came and found us at the bar. He had on him a developed roll of colour transparency film which had on it various dancers/strippers, C-listers and Christopher Bigginses which a night photographing London usually threw up. Then as I got down to the end of the of the roll of film, there were two blurry frames of a bloke, who looked uncannily like Prince Andrew, walking next to a fat redhead.

A bun is awarded for anyone who can                       tell me what he was thinking of.

“Who’s that ?” I asked the snapper

“Oh that Prince Andrew and some fat redhead” (I told you it was) “I saw a royal motor outside Les Mis so I hung around to see who was in there”

These were the first photos of Prince Andrew and his latest squeeze Sarah Ferguson. They were with a Royal Bodyguard getting into a Royal Jaguar. This meant she was official. She was Andy’s “One” (if only we knew…), confirming what Buckingham Palace had been denying for weeks – that Fergie was gonna be part of the firm real soon. As odd as it must sound now, this was really big news at the time.

Being a Royalist, I immediately cut off the two frames and got a cab down to The Daily Mirror. For reasons which don’t escape me, I refused to go to Wapping and to Rupert Murdoch’s strike-bound News International (what does escape me is why I lifted that self-imposed ban to go work for those wankers later on in my career), and The Mirror was my weapon of choice.

Up to a point.

I arrived at The Mirror‘s picture desk only to find it deserted. Normally I wouldn’t care less that everyone was in “The Stab” down below (The White Hart pub, known by Mirror hacks as The Stab in the Back” – for obvious reasons), and on any other evening may have gone to join them (it was, after all, one of the reasons I wanted to be a journo in the first place) and sell them the odd snap. But this was different. I had a pic which I knew everyone would want, and I had to get it into a paper NOW. On THIS edition. I couldn’t take the risk of other photographers having captured the young couple together and selling it before I could. I certainly couldn’t wait for the Mirror Picture Desk to sober up. So I took a decision. I went off to The Daily Star.  Ooh Aah.

It wasn’t what I wanted, but I was in luck . Perhaps the Popinjay (Express Newspaper’s version of The Stab) had burnt down that night as both numbers 1&2 on the picture desk had returned from the pub, unaided, and were just about awake. I think one of them could have been mistaken for being sober. At a distance. The other, his boss (a legendary scotchman and a scotch man) could not.

“What ye got, young fella?” the boss asked.

Carefully avoiding the hot, sweet airstream of scotch & best bitter coming from his mouth, I showed him the two frames.

“It’s Andy and Sarah Ferguson at Les Miserables tonight. Our man…..”

But I could have saved my breath, for he was off. Off an a lap of honour of the newsroom. Past the news desk (yes they had one) and the foreign…erm…reporter, past the back bench, the subs and the assorted ‘tired’ journalists and cleaning staff. He skipped, he whistled, he paused to show and tell his colleagues “Look what I got, ye bastard ye”.

Once the Scot and the scotch had settled, he agreed to pay ten thousand pounds for the photo. (What Sarah Ferguson would do nowadays for £10,000 is a story for another time). It appeared on the front page the very next day. The Mirror’s Picture editor, nicknamed “Grumpy” called me, sparrows fart. ‘Why didn’t I sell the pic to him ?’ he wanted to know. ‘Because he was in the pub’, I replied. ‘Why didn’t I call him out ?’ he demanded. ‘Because he was already well and truly out‘ I said. He didn’t speak to me for months and months after that.

As far as I know, that little photo agency of ours never did get the £10k promised to it by the pissed old fart that night at The Star. He sobered up and swore blind that he’d said FIVE not ten grand. The photographer never believed me, I don’t think. It’s all true, believe me. Over the next few weeks we did get some decent money for the pic from American, Aussie and, oddly, German rags, but nothing on the scale of what The Star (should have) paid us.

I wonder if Harry’s “mate” who took the pics of his arse will ever get paid ? It’s out there now. Everyone has it, or at least has seen it. And once everyone has seen it, who will want to buy it ? If the photos had landed in my lap today, would I have flogged them ? Probably not. When I was 21 who-was-doing-what-and-how-to-whom-and-how-often seemed really interesting to me. I’d passed my “smash the state, bring down the Monarchy” phase, but was still walking around with a press ticket metaphorically stuck in the band of my trilby”.

Not now. Now I care little for that shite. Pop and celebs interest me not.  Sod The One Show, give me the World at One. I’m into Big Gussets not Big Brother. Less X-Factor, more Ex-Lax. I’d still like the money, though.

A British All-Conners Record


The Daily Telegraph writes:

Olympic beer to cost £7.23 a pint


Bars at the official Games venues will charge £4.80 for a small serving of London 2012 red wine. For visitors with an appetite for traditional British fare, a portion of cod and chips will set them back at least £8.

The London 2012 organisers, who published sample menus yesterday, claimed the prices were “more than comparable” to catering costs at other sporting events. An estimated 14 million meals will be served to spectators across 40 locations during the Games.

Paul Deighton, chief executive of London 2012, said the organisers had “gone to great lengths” to find “high quality, tasty food that celebrates the best of Britain”.

A 330ml bottle of Heineken lager at the Games will cost £4.20, making the equivalent price of a pint £7.23. This is more than double the national average price of £3.17 for a pint of beer.

Spectators will pay £2.10 for a toasted teacake, £2.30 for a 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola and £2 for a cup of tea. A family of four should be able to buy food and drinks for under £40, according to London 2012. “

They say this last bit without a hint of irony. That’ll be 40 quid on top of the four £450 tickets to watch 20 minutes of the 1m synchronized ping pong. But who the fuck cares any more? We let these robbers get away with it, as we string up our flags and bunting, wave our Union Jacks and remark “ooh hasn’t that nice Mr Coe got old since he took over the games ?”. Of course he looks old. So would you if you had to lug great wads of cash home every night, under the cover of darkness.

Let’s not worry about it. Let’s light up the barbies, sing God Save the Queen for the Jubilee and give thanks that in these harsh times of mass unemployment, crime and poverty, when more and more are driven to stealing to feed themselves and their families, when the southern half of continental Europe is about to go under, we still have a time and the tact to celebrate and wave at a woman who drives around in a solid gold coach.

Let’s shout “C’mon Ingerlund” as the Ukrainian and Polish Nazi Parties beat the shite out of football fans from ethnic backgrounds (well, anyone who isn’t Ukrainian or Polish really), and all this because Michel Platini and his Uefa mafia turn a blind eye to racism and violence within football culture, just as long as he gets his big bucks (or small Euros at the time of going to press). I do not have the data on the price of Heineken beer in Kiev.

Then when a football match breaks out on the pitch and our team loses we can slaughter Roy Hodgson for picking completely wrong 11 idiots, as there were 11 other idiots waiting at home in bed with their friend’s wives, trying to take their minds off of not being selected.

Lets sit back and enjoy the liars of the world: Blair, Cameron, Murdoch (+1), Hunt, Wade, Coulson and the rest of them squirm their way around the questions which would and should bring down the lot of them. But they won’t. You know they won’t. Come the end of Leveson, and save for a couple of minor-ish victims and sacrifices like Brooks and Coulson, the Murdoch Empire, the Fleet St rags and the British Government will still be in place and will still operate in exactly the same way.

Some people moan about it and sites like the one you are reading make a fuss about all this shit now and then, but it doesn’t really do anything or matter in any way shape or form, does it? If it mattered, more than 32% of the country would get out and vote these crooks, thieves and tramps out of office. If it mattered there would be a day of action against arseholes like Andrew Lansley, Michael Gove and Nick Clegg EVERY WEEK, not just once every winter equinox.

So enjoy the next few months. Don’t trip over the maypole or the bunting this weekend; when the football arrives, cheer and clap and the local police, the UEFA officials and the TV cameras ignore the Zeig Heil chants and the Nazi Salutes; smirk and laugh as one-by-one cabinet minister after cabinet minister lies his way out of court; stand and salute and sympathize with the judge trying to get to the bottom of this really sordid scandal, only to be left with the head of the odd PM spin doctor, or Eton old boy to show for it;

Wash that MacDonald’s Olympic burger down with your pint of Heineken. That’ll be well worth fifteen quid of anyone’s money. But not mine. I shall be spending the odd £2.60 on a pint in The Shovel then nip across the road to the chip shop, or maybe the kebab house where I can pick up a large meal for the price of a 330ml bottle of imported Olympic lager. Then I’ll nip home to see if there’s any cricket on to watch. There’s no telly in The Shovel, so it’ll be cans of Guinness on the sofa, in front of the box for me. So keep your over-priced games, your over-hyped jubilee, and your über-alles Championship.
I’ll keep my kebab and a pint. You have your Red-White-and-Blue season. I’ll be happy with my Doner Summer.