Polls Apart


Don’t you hate it when you’re told what to think ? Tune into the 6 o’clock or 10 o’clock news and get bombarded with stories stoking up the ‘excitement’ in anticipation of the Olympic Games and the patriotic revelry over HMQs 60th Jubilee. Everyone’s excited, everyone’s throwing a street party/volunteering to help/ buying a ticket/wearing a funny hat cos THE WHOLE OF THE COUNTRY LOVES IT !!!!!. Really ? Come down my street, mate and test the waters. You could cut the atmosphere with a block of  lard. But there is no doubt that all of us are behind both Brenda and Seb when it comes to this year’s celebrations – well, not according to the force-fed stories the Beeb are putting out. There’s nothing like objective journalism, and this is nothing like it.

If you’ve been watching the BBC’s coverage of the London Mayoral election, you could be forgiven for thinking there were only two candidates – Bonkers Boris Johnson and Honest Ken Livingstone (and by the way, Manchester, Brimingham, Glasgow et all, you ARE interested in all this:cos the BBC TELLS you that you are, that’s why). Admittedly, between them they do make a riveting contest, albeit in the way that watching two grandmothers argue over who’s gonna look after the grandkids is riveting. Mind you, I’ve yet to hear any nan in my family call the other a “fucking liar” as Boris did to Ken after their LBC bust up this week.

With a month or so still to go, I’m sure someone will dig something up on the other one which will tip the balance at the polls, but my bet is both will distance themselves from their party leaders over in Westminster – two of the most loathed men in the kingdom. Ken and Boris are bright enough to employ that bargepole when Dave and Milibean come to town, and who can blame them ?

But there are others involved in this contest. The other coalition candidate is Pc McGarry Number 452. Brian Paddick is gay, a former policeman and Liberal Democrat. (yes I know, Monty Python’s sketch when a quiz contestants hobbies are “golf, masturbation and strangling animals” springs to mind). Paddick came out and admitted his sexuality as a way to divert attention that he was a Liberal Democrat.

As a copper, Brian was and is one of the very few not to currently be under investigation for racial abuse, or arrested for his dealings with News International. So a Copper and a LibDem. The rush of the electorate scrambling to vote for him will be deafening. Nice bum, though.

The BNP triumphantly announced that their candidate was to be  their press officer Carlos Cortiglia. The more alert of you will notice a less than British ring to his name. Carlos was born in Uruguay to parents of Italian and Spanish ancestry then moved to England in 1989, presumably on his never-ending quest to find a someone who doesn’t feel the urge to slap that face. The Nazis see his appointment as proof that the BNP are no racists. As their website puts it “So much for ‘xenophobic’!” British National Party chooses Italian for London mayor“. It certainly has already proved to be a little taxing for the knuckle-draggers in my local pub l as the regulars debate on the merits of choosing between “a bender, a wop and a commie” (I am unsure which one of these descriptions was aimed at Boris ).

UKIP seem like they’ve finally decided to call it a day and not put up a candidate for the post. At least it looks like that when you see the list of candidates. But on further investigation into Lawrence Webb reveals that, although he is standing on the ticket of “Fresh Choice for London”, he is in fact he UKIP candidate. Perhaps they thought having UKIP, BNP and LibDem on the polling card would split the Complete Cvnt vote ? (there’s also a bit of a visual clue to who he represents in some of the photos of him they’re touting about.

Then there’s the token genuinely independent candidate, Siobhan Benita, who is the daughter of an Anglo-Indian mum and Cornish dad (more issues which I’m sure Carlos and Lawrence would dearly love to chat to her about as she’s deported).

Benita has several obvious advantages over her rivals: 1) she’s a woman; 2) she’s not Ken; 3) or Boris; 4) she doesn’t look like a complete bonkeroonee crook (note I said she doesn’t look like one – I stand to be corrected) . She has been accused of playing the ‘babe’ card, but let’s be honest if you look like she does and stand next to any of the above, how can the fact that you don’t make people feel physically ill not be worth promoting.

Which brings me nicely to our final contestant, Jenny Jones, representing the Hosepipe Ban party. Somewhere in East Sussex, there’s a room full of hessian-wearing 70s throwbacks who thought picking a bona fide loony would be a good idea. Jenny wants us all to return to wearing Wode and get our water from droplets left on rose petals. It’s difficult to vote for a political party who’s policies to bring us out of recession start and end at forcing the army to wear British-made organically-grown wicker helmets. She also looks like an explosion in a Scary Spice factory, but that would be too cruel to point out.

Don’t forget to register to vote.  Oooh! me minge.

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Flood Warning Update


I am being moved immediately from Kings College Hospital, London to Darenth Valley Hospital, Dartford.

The consultant assures me this has nothing to do with the position of the Thames Flood Barrier at Woolwich and the expected developments in the area of my digestive system.

See you in the Allotment of England.

How Many Roads Must a Man Walk Down?


You need militants on a demonstration. You need passion and commitment and a sense of purpose. If you’re undecided or wishy-washy your march is never gonna get off the ground. Can you imagine the leader of the Liberal Party (Simon Pegg, I think his name is) organising a demo? It’d be as effective as a solar panel in Salford. “What do we want?: DON’T KNOW; When do we want it?: SOME TIME IN THE NEAR FUTURE, IF IT’S NOT TOO MUCH TROUBLE” is not gonna get anyone excited.

So you need heart. You need drive. Often, some of this passion boils over into violence which is why we see thousands of Plod on the streets of London this morning, having had Knacker cancel all leave. Shame. But we are (up to a point, Lord Copper) exercising our right to demonstrate, and a march without passion or a smidge of violence becomes a ramble— and the Church organises those, complete with kagools and sponsorship forms. No thanks.

I was 13 when my brother took me on my first demo— The Rock Against Racism/Anti Nazi League march from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Park in East London (30th April 1978, for anyone taking notes). Fucking miles! But it was fantastic. Hundreds of thousands (Police estimate:143) of like-minded people marching for a common cause: crush racism in the UK. It was 1978 and the National Front were becoming a little strong for our liking, so we marched in protest. And we sang. “The National Front is a Nazi Front, SMASH THE NATIONAL FRONT We sang it all day. For mile after mile. We ALL sang it. It was bleedin tedious.

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Google Maps tells me the direct route between Trafalgar Square and the park is 5.9 miles. Well we didn’t go the straight route (Plod diverted us away from the posh bits in the City) and my brilliant 13 yr old mind told me we walked at LEAST 15 miles. 15 miles of singing the same song. It was like listening to a Morrisey Album all afternoon: torture. But it was a thrill for me at a tender age: collecting ANL and RAR badges. AND placards, and leaflets and flyers and pamphlets. Oh! Think of the Trees, Mike, all that wood n paper!!! well this was BGB (Before Geldof and Bono) and no-one gave a monkeys about the planet or the rainforest. A witty cardboard slogan nailed to a lovely bit of 4×2 was the weapon of choice for both pacifist and anarchist.

The Author (back row, third from left), prepares to leave Trafalgar Square. Note bad haircut

The Author (back row, third from left), prepares to leave Trafalgar Square. Note bad haircut

I was proud to have my photo taken by the Police snapper when it was my turn to carry the big banner (what DID they think I was gonna do?) waved at the spotters on the roofs, and ran away quickly when some of the bigger boys started lobbing stuff at the police. But on the whole it seemed to me to be a good-natured event, (I swear that copper was smiling as they wiped the blood from his head) and it ended with my first rock concert in the park and my first sight of Joe Strummer and the boys. I was in heaven.
So we had one message and one march. And one song.

Fast forward to today. Sit down, I have something to tell you: One of today’s marches goes from London Bridge to The Bank of England.That’s a distance of less than a mile. I have longer nostril hair than that !!

Come on guys, put a bit of effort in.

And the coalition of beefs these people have is mind-boggling: Anti Banks, Anti War, Anti Welsh, Save the Planet, Reclaim the Streets, Right to Work, Right to Left, Anarchists, Pacifists, Cyclists, Monarchists, Buggerists, Typists the list is endless. What are they gonna sing? Is there a running order? (mind you, by the time the London Bridge mob reach their destination they’d have hardly had time for a couple of lines of We Shall Overcome). As far as I’m aware they won’t be passing a McDonalds, a Shell garage, or a branch of Barclays: all classic targets for the mob (I still mourn the end of South Africa House demos). Perhaps they can get more miles under their belts by marching round and round in circles a la American pickets in episodes of The West Wing, Columbo etc. (Why DO they go round in circles??)

Say Cheese!

Say Cheese!

So let’s hope for a good clean fight today. We won’t throw lamp posts at you if you put away the CS gas and the horses. We promise not to lynch anyone, if you promise not to lie about the numbers attending. AND if you’re gonna single us out and snap potential “troublemakers” at least make the pics available to us, so that years from now I’ll have a copy of the photo for my blog.
Up the Revolution !!

1982 And All That


I was in a pub in Portsmouth. It was 1982 and I was on my first Rugby Tour, with the school first XV. On this particular evening, I decided to pop over the road to the phone box to call the then incumbent Mrs B. When she picked up the phone she was crying. “What’s up with you?” I gently inquired. “We’ve declared war on Argentina” she wept. It transpired that she was terrified that I’d get called-up. After pointing out to her that the Argentine army were hardly up to beating Our Brave Boys (“They’re hardly the bleedin’ Israelis, are they ?” I recall saying) and I saw no way that the draft would come my way, she seemed a bit cheerier, so I returned to the pub to announce to my chums that we were indeed “at war with Argentina”, for which I received a dousing in lager from my mates for telling porkies.

It seems another world away: Phone boxes, The Falklands, School trips. Mobile phones were around, but they were the size of chest-freezers and there were about four of them in the country. In that year, Channel 4 was launched, De Lorean went out of business, as did Freddie Laker. Women were protesting outside Greenham Common and Princess Di knocked out her first chavvy, William. Unemployment reached 3 million and Thatcher was in her Pomp. Colin Welland told the Academy that “The British are coming” when Chariots of Fire swept up at the Oscars.
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In 1982 I looked like this

In 1982 Allan Simonsen, the 1977 European Footballer of the Year, signed for Charlton Athletic from Barcelona. We all thought that he must have made a mistake and thought he was signing for Bobby Charlton. He wouldn’t pass the ball to anyone else. They didn’t look good enough. They weren’t. Aston Villa won the European Cup (honest). Yuri Andropov led the Soviet Union, long before he became the subject of funny bar songs.

Michael Jackson, who was turning a funny colour, released Thriller and we all strutted around parties like Zombies. In 1982, if I was buying a computer, I’d buy the newly-released Commodore 64. The world mourned the death of John Belushi, Marty Feldman and Arthur Lowe. They were replaced by Jermain Defoe, LeAnn Rimes and Gavin Henson. Hardly a fair swap.The price of a pint was 62p and petrol was 159p-a-gallon. That year they completed the construction of the Thames Barrier.

In 1982 Sean Hodgson went to jail for a murder he didn’t commit. 27 years later (today, in fact) a High Court Judge quashed the conviction in the light of new DNA evidence unavailable at the time of the trial. But it also emerged that Mr Hodgson could have been released 11 years ago but for an admin cock-up. I watched open-mouthed on tv as a smiling Plod spokesman took to the steps of the High Court and said the Hampshire Police were pleased they were able to help in the legal process and secure Mr Hodgson’s release. They’re going to look into the case again.

In 1982 I didn’t trust the Old Bill or the system. They scared me. Wonder how Sean Hodgson feels ?
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Sean Hodgson

A Fish Without a Bike


I have a pair of blackbirds in my garden. One’s black with a bright orange beak (the male, remember that) and the other is a sort of brown, speckly colour (the female, very important). This weekend I spent many hours in the spring sunshine pottering in my garden being watched by the black one. He’s very inquisitive and stands on any one of several high vantage points watching me turn over the soil, paint a fence, down a beer etc etc. It’s nice, in a rather odd sort of way to have a relationship with him, and I’m not really sure whose garden he thinks I’m tending, mine or his. Maybe I like it cos, thus far, he’s the only bird I know who doesn’t moan at me (or maybe I just don’t understand Blackbirdese yet)
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In the past I’ve been in the habit of greeting him with ” Good morning Mr Blackbird, how are you today”. Dunno why I do that. Something in the back of my mind tells me it’s good luck, or something. It follows that when I see his GLW hove into view I follow with similar: “Morning Mrs B, how are the kids? ”
Whatever the reason for this idle persiflage, I’m glad I don’t live in Brussels. Yes, you’ve guessed it: The European Parliament has banned the terms ‘Miss’ and ‘Mrs’ in case they offend female MEPs. It’s all part of their “Gender-Neutral” campaign, according to The Telegraph. Now there are many things I say which offend women (see above, and below), often as part of my loveable-rogue persona. But I really do think anyone who gets offended by being called “Mrs” shouldn’t have got married in the first place. And “Miss” is used purely as an act of politeness. I suppose we could use “Madam”, or “Woman” or “Old Bag” but surely “Miss” is merely trying to be polite, and recognises that ancient practise by women of pretending to be younger than you really are? So don’t blame us, we’re not trying to pigeon-hole you, honest.
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Gender Neutral:
Don’t let it happen to you

For what it’s worth (and these really are beyond me) officials have also ordered that ‘sportsmen’ be called ‘athletes’, ‘statesmen’ be referred to as ‘political leaders’ and even that ‘synthetic’ or ‘artificial’ be used instead of ‘man-made’. Just pass me a bottle of scotch and a Service-issue revolver, I know what to do. (I blame Harriet Harperson)

In other news, the French really are having it bad: sales are down at the “Big Eropolis” in Paris, apparently the biggest erotic fair in Europe. The turnover is down 30% on last year, according to Reuters. If the French aren’t sticking it hard to their mate’s wife (sorry, significant-and-equal-other) cos of the economic crisis, you know we really ARE in trouble. It’s practically compulsory over there. Presumably the rubber-clad mistresses (or Whip-wielding-more-confident-and-sexually-demanding-females, as they’re now known) are feeling the pinch. I suggest some extra talcum-powder.

Back in Blighty, if you did catch your partner looking through the rubber section of the Littlewoods catalogue, or he returned from his weekend ‘business trip’ in Paris covered in crème fraîche and whip-marks, you could have attended Britain’s first Divorce Fair, at a hotel in Brighton.
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Coping with divorce can be upsetting

Now I enjoy a good divorce as much as the next man, but under the pretence of ‘helping people start over’ a whole collection of services were available to those who are finding a recent separation tough.

The list of help available, according to The Times tells you all you need to know about this con-fest: “There were lawyers and psychic healers, financial consultants and shoe retailers, chocolate makers and probate solicitors.” as well as four”colour psychologists” to advise you on changing the decor at home. Hmmmm….. NOW do you wanna join my gang????

Mr and Mrs (there, I said it!) Blackbird have no need for such a gathering. They’re too busy watching me dig up worms in my vegetable patch. She looks older than him. And fatter.
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Phwoooaaarrrr!!!!!!!

There’s a Rat in Mi Kitchen Cabinet


There is now five times more litter in this country than in 1963. There are now more rats in the UK than people (Dwain Chambers, Peter Hain and Fred Goodwin count in each column). We’re also told that Britain now has a quarter of the world’s CCTV cameras—presumably to film the rats.

Those of us who don’t feel threatened by the cameras, nevertheless question their worth. Admittedly, they once successfully managed to follow a Brazilian backpacker from his flat to a tube station, but a fat lot of good that did him, poor sod. BUT, you can guarantee that the next time you’re in dire need of a lamp post on the way home, your urinary diversion will be captured on super-8 and be submitted as evidence against you when you’re hauled up in front of the Beak.

Surely if we spent a little less on cameras, and a little more on refuse collectors, we might create a less-threatening, Big Brother environment, get more people in work (I know, it’ll never catch on) and deprive ratty of a ready-meal.

Simples!

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I can’t help thinking that those who jump on the Green Lobby’s household waste-recycling bandwagon are unwittingly contributing to the problem: Most councils are reducing rubbish collection, especially from the green bins, to fortnightly collections, which gives our furry friends more time to sample the delights of last’s night’s chicken korma, or even last week’s nut roast.

Until Big Business stops pumping crap into the ozone, and producing mountains of waste the size of Wales (why is it always Wales?) we shouldn’t be guilt-tripped into helping save the planet. Lord Beaverbook did the same during the war: persuading the women of Britain to give up their pots n pans, their husbands to donate their car-tyres, and schools to dismantle their railings, all to make Spitfires and Lancasters to fight the Germans. The result? Absolutely bugger all. Not a single plane was made and no Germans slaughtered as a result (not even Edmund Blackadder’s famous “daschund with a slight limp”) But it felt like the little people were “doing their bit” for the war effort. Cobblers.

So here’s the thing: start off by forcing Fred The Shred to empty bins 3 times-a-week. No, scratch that. Dwain would do it much faster. Fred can drive the truck. I fear Peter Hain would be harder to catch. He’ll be off looking for another ship to desert with the rest of his rodenty rabble-rousers.