Vote for Jack


It’s sad to hear of the death of Jack Duckworth. Bill Tarmy, the actor who played Jack in the soap opera Coronation Street, was 71 when he was found dead at his holiday home in Tenerife. I haven’t watched the program since Eddie Yeats shared a bed with Stan Ogden. But I do remember the character of Jack – an oafish bore of a man, who had a love of odd turns of phrase and often an abstract use of the English language, who inexplicably thought he was a hit with the ladies, but who often found out he was nothing of the sort.

The Two Jacks: Duckworth and Prescott

The Two Jacks: Duckworth and Prescott

And for some strange reason, I always used to get him confused with the former Deputy leader of New Labour, John (now Baron, or is it Barren ?) Prescott. Apart from the obvious physical similarities, here too is a Nellie Pledge of a character who brought all the wit and charm of a Panzer Division to the corridors of Westminster, not to mention the odd malapropism or 8. There’s nothing wrong with being unable to speak (or indeed write!) in pure, plain English, but when you’re standing-in for the Prime Minister of GB and NI it helps to be able to construct a coherent ….erm….

So imagine my confusion when I learn on the same day that one of them has passed on, and the other is standing for election as Police and Crime Commissioner in his local constituency of  Humberingside, as he may have put it. The man once known as “Two Jags” for his penchant for destroying the ozonery layer, will presumably be putting in for an extra set of bicyclation clips to join the Northern Constabularianry on the beat as old Punchy Prescott becomes crime fighter.

And just in case you don’t think his heart is really in it, and that this may just be a knee-jerk reaction after his triumphantful appearance at the Levesonian Inquisisation, guess who he roped in to back his campaign ? Yep, the old War Criminal himself (not to mention Jack’s, sorry John’s ex-boss and croquet partner) Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, formerly of this parish. Prescott could have slashed the UK there and then if he’d made an arrest and delivered the ex PM to the Hague, it’s only just across the water, after all. And as ,before he started distributing semen to and into friendly women, John used to be a Seaman could have steered the prison ship himself.

"I Arrestigate You  in the Name of the Legals"

“I Arrestigate You in the Name of the Legals”

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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.

 

Now Steady On !


The Incumbent tells me that she was once arrested for calling a Policeman a wanker. On what grounds I’m unsure. I wasn’t even aware that Hendon English classes had reached advance swearing as yet. They’ll be able to write next.

I was listening to Peter Tatchell the other day defending the rights of people to use “insulting language” against others. Quite right too. This page, for example, would be nothing if it wasn’t for the right to call people a wanker when the author felt the need. It may be insulting but surely it can’t be illegal ? It’s an opinion. It attacks no race or religion (although wanking is treated by some as such), but is an outlet which allows people to vent their displeasure at someone without resorting to baseball bats and bricks. Ban someone from calling another an arsehole and, not only would my mailbox be empty, but we start on the route which Herr Hitler, Mr S.Hussein and that nice Mr Putin have already embarked on so successfully. Now there’s three big c*nts if ever I saw some.

Who Do You think You’re Kidding?


Things are definitely changing around here, and some of them not for the best.

I took off this morning on another one of what my doctor, Mr Lansley, calls “life-extending promenades” this morning. I know he means well but I’m not sure Dr Lansley understands just how far “a half hour’s walk” is. Or, come to that, if he understands anything at all about my health. Anyway, the novelty of the yomp to the post office is wearing off already so today I decide to turn the other way into the village itself. This way is a little more interesting as I pass by or through all the hustle and bustle which country life can offer.

I therefore reach the top of the lane and turn left this time, past the school with its newly installed metal detector and courtesy black maria which the children seem to find very interesting indeed. I stand to watch several of them playing a game of Hopscotch (or HopCaledonian as they are told to call it nowadays) through and around the metal detector. I started to reminisce about my time at the school and all the lovely knife-free years I enjoyed there, before I am awakened from my daydream and shooed away by a man pointing a Taser and wearing a flak jacket in school colours. I am a mixture of embarrassed and annoyed, but in any case shuffle off in the direction of the newsagent’s and the football fields beyond.

I no longer use this newsagent. I spent years gleaning from it all the info about the outside world I could. It was a lovely sight. A lovely big sign outside reading “The Village News” above the window was flanked by smaller ones of a bygone day: The News Of the World, News Shopper and even Horse&Hound were all represented in enamel signs down the sides of the shop. Proudly and efficiently run by old Mr Turnbull and his younger wife Susanna, it was a constant source of news, gossip and entertainment.

Sadly, as in everything nowadays, the shop has had a makeover, renamed itself “T’News of T’Village” and is daubed with posters for the Yorkshire Post, Salford Sentinel, and Whippet Magazine. The shop window has been widened, the counter brought closer to the door, and there’s even a space in the background for customers to enjoy a cappuccino or a flat white, run by the serial liar Mrs Kirkwood. (Amazing they haven’t pensioned her off yet.) The company has brought in a whole new staff to help out old Bill. I went in there one Sunday afternoon and found Jack Duckworth and Seth Armstrong serving. I had not a clue what they were on about and left sharply, never to return.

Mr Turnbull takes to the streets to sell the riveting Tameside Express

For your information I now pop along to Mr Humphrys who runs the paper stand on the corner. He doesn’t carry any of the tabloids or the magazines, and is only interested in the broadsheets, but at least I can understand what he’s talking about. And he and his friend Mr Naughtie (“Naughty Naughtie”, my mum calls him) do have a laugh when one of them accidentally mispronounces Mr Jeremy Hunt‘s name.  The only alternative place to get my news from is Holmes’– the convenience store in the high street. But I fear that if the manager, Eamonn, doesn’t stop tucking into the pasties (“well, no-one else is buying them any more”) they’ll be no room for anyone to get into the shop to buy anything. Fat eejit, so ye are.

As I passed them, Old Bill had young Charlie helping him pile up sandbags outside the door of the shop. They looked very sad. Mrs Kirkwood had her sunglasses on, so I knew it was about to rain. I put up my brolly, upped the pace to a stroll and continued up the path.

The school football pitches lay silent, save for the rustling of Ginsters Dwarf packets being blown about in the goal netting, and old Mr Fry, the omnipresent caretaker re-marking out the lines with his trusty, squeaky wheely machine. I’m sure that’s not what it’s called and that Mr Fry would take the time to tell me, at length, what its real name is, but I intentionally don’t catch his eye. I’m getting bored of him telling me everything about everything. It seems like he’s everywhere I go. And he keeps asking me to follow him. It’s creepy, I reckon. Why he doesn’t find himself a nice wife I’ll never know.

A small boy is told that Mr Moon is unable to play at the village concert.

Much excitement was to be had, apparently, up at these pitches at the weekend as two of the immigrant boys did frightfully well in their respective soccer matches. Young Fernando scored three goals. IN ONE MATCH. Putting to bed the fear had by his new PE master, Signor Baldio, that the boy needed to be fitted with calipers to sort his legs and feet out.

Over on another pitch, little Adolf Suarez also scored three times, even though parents were assured at christmas that he was to be expelled for calling some of the other boys “Schwartzers”.  His coach, Mr Kenneth Gorbals (pronounced Goebbels), sadly now blind in both eyes, did offer something by way of excuse, but no-one understood him. And on Pitch 3 John the School Bully amazed everyone by staying on the pitch for the whole of the match, and without abusing or maiming anyone. He got rather excited when he scored a goal, but his dad rushed on to the field of play and administered some pills, which he’d secreted in a little baggie down his sock. After the match ‘Bully’ was seen talking to the nurse, Mrs Bridge who seemed to be backing in to him. A lot.

It’s sad to think that in a matter of weeks the pitches and the ancient trees that surround them will be dug up and tarmacked over for use as an Olympic car park. Oh well, we all have to do our bit, I suppose. What’s hundreds of years of history and a few old Oaks when compared to ensuring the success of a corporate carve-up sports tournament ?

The Terry family takes on the Suarezes in a friendly kick about on Sunday morning.

The school’s newly-appointed Temporary Chief Coach, Mr W.O.T. Wovers (Cantab) said that he was “wery happy with all the boys he’d seen in twaining” and that he was confident in their ability to do well in the tournament this summer “especially against fwance and the Ukwaine”.

On the far side of the football pitches I could see the SBS training in the village pond. Their activity was only hampered by having to steer their boats around the Astute-class nuclear submarine which the Royal Navy have parked, sorry moored in our pond, much to the annoyance of both the ducks and the local flasher.  Sadly, since the local ARP warden, Mr Johnson, announced that our village was a prime Al Qaeda target this summer, the whole place has been a hive of activity, with varying degrees of success and popularity.

The site for the gun emplacement – originally destined to be on top of the Conservative Club – has been moved (thank the Lord) and will stand proudly, perched on top of the ICU building at the local Hospital. Mr Johnson tells us that, not only will this deter the “Mad Raghead Mullahs” from bombing our NHS hospital, but it will ensure the general security and safety of all those waiting hours in corridors to be seen by the woefully short-handed staff”. I can certainly see that no right-minded burglar would want to break into the hospital now.

A crack team of nurses abandon their posts at the gun emplacement as they
remember they’ve left an elderly patient alone with young Dr Shipman

As I turned for home, I paused for a moment and removed my cap as a funeral cortege passed by. They were burying old Mrs Blears who died suddenly and horribly in a freak razor-wire accident. She was wrapping the aforementioned wire around her chimney in an effort to dissuade the Taliban from mounting an attack on her home, when she slipped and fell through the wire to the ground. Only the wire catching her across the neck and in her mop of lovely ginger hair saved her fall. Sadly she died from the injuries sustained. Had she been rescued in time she may have lived. Apparently she hung there for four weeks before anyone noticed she’d gone. One neighbour said “I’m so relieved she’s dead: I thought I’d gone deaf”. Another was quoted as saying “Let’s just remember what she did for us and for herself and enjoy the peace and silence now she’s gone”.

I buy my paper from Mr Humphry’s I see that they’ve decided to allow drug users to represent the village in the summer sports day. That’s good. It’ll give School Bully something to do in the closed season. I did see his dad and Mr Chambers having a good old chin-wag earlier (which is strange, given Mr Chambers’ colour), but I’m sure whatever was said could be easily taken out of context.

Ok, gotta go now. Have to buy one of Mr Coe’s lottery tickets for a place in the Air Raid shelter. S’funny, I always thought there’d be a place for all of us in the shelter when the time finally came, given all the taxes we’ve paid over the years and how long we’ve lived here. Not to mention that many of us had to move out of home to allow Mr Coe to build that big bunker of his. But apparently some seats have to be reserved for special friends of Mr Coe, and their friends and their families. Which is only right, I suppose.

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.

.

It’s Tin Hat Time


Just a couple of items raised a monobrow today. I notice my beloved Blackheath is to receive some help from a terrorist attack. Which is nice.

BBC: London 2012: Olympics missile sites considered for Blackheath and Shooters Hill


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering plans to install surface-to-air missiles in Blackheath and Shooters Hill during the Olympic Games.The MoD said it had taken military advice to identify sites to base the defence systems to protect the skies over London in the event of an attack.Eltham and Plumstead MP Clive Efford said he was concerned at the “lack of consultation”.

The MoD said no final decision had been made to use the air defence systems.Mr Efford said he had now written to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to complain about not being consulted.The Labour MP said the first he heard about the plans was when half a dozen trucks and trailers arrived at Oxleas Wood, near Shooters Hill in his constituency.

‘Alarmed at news’

“I accept there has to be security for the Olympics and inconvenience but there are proper processes to go through,” he said. “I would have expected a full briefing from the minister. This is a site of special scientific interest so I was alarmed when I heard. I have no idea of the scale of this plan and what damage might happen.”

Whether or not the local MP is a little bit naive expecting a full briefing is a moot point, but if the MOD could point their Exocets towards the heavy lorries that daily get stuck in the Blackwall Tunnel, that would help immeasurably. They’d get a perfect view from the top of Shooters Hill too.

Then there was this in The Guardian today:

As a metaphor for the London Olympics, it could hardly be more stark. The much-derided “Wenlock” Olympic mascot is now available in London Olympic stores dressed as a Metropolitan police officer. For £10.25 you, too, can own the ultimate symbol of the Games: a member of by far the biggest and most expensive security operation in recent British history packaged as tourist commodity. Eerily, his single panoptic-style eye, peering out from beneath the police helmet, is reminiscent of the all-seeing eye of God so commonly depicted at the top of Enlightenment paintings. In these, God’s eye maintained a custodial and omniscient surveillance on His unruly subjects far below on terra firma….

…Critics of the Olympics have not been slow to point out the dark ironies surrounding the police Wenlock figure. “Water cannon and steel cordon sold separately,” mocks Dan Hancox on the influential Games Monitor website. “Baton rounds may be unsuitable for small children.”

In addition to the concentration of sporting talent and global media, the London Olympics will host the biggest mobilisation of military and security forces seen in the UK since the second world war. More troops – around 13,500 – will be deployed than are currently at war in Afghanistan. The growing security force is being estimated at anything between 24,000 and 49,000 in total. Such is the secrecy that no one seems to know for sure.

During the Games an aircraft carrier will dock on the Thames. Surface-to-air missile systems will scan the skies. Unmanned drones, thankfully without lethal missiles, will loiter above the gleaming stadiums and opening and closing ceremonies. RAF Typhoon Eurofighters will fly from RAF Northolt. A thousand armed US diplomatic and FBI agents and 55 dog teams will patrol an Olympic zone partitioned off from the wider city by an 11-mile, £80m, 5,000-volt electric fence.

All this should give walking around London this summer that warm, cosy feeling. It’ll be just like a Richard Curtis movie. Especially the ones he directed starring Wesley Snipes and Liam Neeson shooting the fuck out of everything. The English Tourist Board must be loving it. And all this just to make wads of cash for Seb, Boris and their cronies. Maybe my missing out on tickets for the heats of the Individual Synchronized Swimming was a blessing in disguise after all ? Are they putting frogmen in the pool ? Buster Crabbe sitting at the bottom of the deep end, should the famous Al Qaeda Underwater swim-team decide to invade ?

I’m not sure how much concentration I could manage if I was competing in the Archery or the 1 yard Air Pistol if I could sense either a ground-to-air missile at the other end of the field, primed and ready to go; or the threat of a hooded loony’s AK47 spitting bullets all over the place.  I’d want more than a BB Gun or a bow-and-arrow to defend myself with.

The English Cricket team have got it right: They’re bad enough without going out to bat in Sniper Alley in downtown Lahore. I’m not sure I’d be able to pick a googly if I thought the mad mullahs were using my temples as target practice. So they refuse to play in Pakistan. They’d much rather be humiliated and beaten in the UAE. I wonder how long it will be before Olympic national teams decide not to visit a country marked down in the book by religious extremists as Satan’s Little Helper ?

Maybe not. That would be taken as a huge diss and insult to the Old Country. They wouldn’t dare upset old Dave.

The One Where Mike Sees Both Sides of the Argument.


It’s difficult sometimes to know who to shout for, isn’t it ? I mean if you were watching a Rugby match and Wales were playing, well, anyone really you know you’ll be cheering for whoever that anybody is. No contest there, no flipping of a coin. A cricket match between Australia and er…. well, you know you’ll vocally support “and er…”, don’t you ? Equally true if you don’t happen to hail from Blighty and England are playing Football/Cricket/Anything against Anyone Else. The Anyone Else XI will be the bookies favourites outside these shores.

But what if one of the most evil and vile of all football teams goes into administration? What if a side disappear which has harboured and promoted sectarianism, (along with the other lot), succoured and supported everything that is nasty and abhorrent in football and in British society ? How do we feel if they go to the wall ? Happy ? Perhaps. Good bloody riddance to them ? Maybe.

But , in truth, they won’t be going anywhere. They will immediately be docked 10 points for going into administration which will take the club from 2nd place in the league down to …er…2nd place in the league. That’s how far the top 2 are ahead of the chasing pack. (if you take 10 points off them right now, they’ll still be 9 points ahead of third place, such is the joke of the pointless Scottish Football set up).

So they won’t win the league this year, but they probably wasn’t going to anyway. That bunch of bigots from the other side of the tracks are 4 points clear anyway and look set fair to win it. Again. Rampant sectarianism and bigotry aside, (and, no it hasn’t or ever will go away from the Auld Firm) can you be forgiven for feeling sorry for Rangers getting themselves into so much trouble ? Spending more than they could justify in the never-ending effort to beat rivals Glasgow Celtic and win at least one match against European oppo each year ? Shouldn’t we say “oh fuck ’em” and be done with it ?

But what about all the little people behind the scenes who make the club tick, who rely on the club for their wages, the income from the fans on a Saturday, the club shop and the local Union Jack supplier ? They can’t all be Unionist Nutters, can they ? Then again, without Rangers, what’s the point of Celtic ? If Alec Salmond gets his way, there’ll be no hopping over the border for a kick about in the English Premier League so the Bhoys will be left with a dull Saturday at ForfarfiveFifefour Academicals, or a wet Wednesday night playing Partick Thistlenil. That’s no existance for anyone.

But doubtless the Gers will return next season, just with cheaper flags and one or two fewer bowler hats. The two teams will spend the next millenia hurling abuse at each other, punctuated only by a football match breaking out occasionally (well, 4 times a year, if you don’t mind, excluding cup matches) because if this isn’t allowed to happen, scottish football will go the same way its rugby went – bereft of fans or supporters, with the authorities having to give away tickets to primary schools to foster the illusion that people actually want to turn up to watch this shite. So we have to hope the industry that is Rangers FC survives. I know, I can’t believe I’m writing it either.

Meanwhile, another bunch of hard-nosed bastards face extinction and extermination. The poor old tabloid journalist is under the cosh and he does not like it. Trevor Kavanagh, Associate editor of The Sun attacked the arrests of his colleagues by police as “heavy handed” and a “witch hunt” and “disproportionate”. And he would know. If there was ever a witch hunt which could be described as heavy handed and disproportionate look no further than the Joanna Yeates murder investigation, when the paper (among others) hounded and publicly hung Christopher Jefferies for the woman’s killing. According to the paper this was an open-and-shut case of a beardy-wierdy attacking and killing a young blonde luvverly. (And thank fuck she was blonde and luvverly or we’d have never read a word of it).

The paper (manfully aided and abetted by the Mirror and the Mail) were judge, jury and executioner on this case, just one of the many, many occasions where a private individual was hounded out of house and home because a hack didn’t like the cut of his jib. Will anybody shed a tear for these reptiles who have made so many lives a misery ? Probably not. I dunno why these blokes are worrying about anyway. If they’d read their own copy over the years they’d realise that prison is like a holiday camp and that it’s better on the inside than it is out.

But Kavanagh does point out that an example seems to being made of the Sun. Well, that’s as may be. It does help, of course, that my former employers over at News International (d’you know ? I miss them more than ever at the moment) seem hell bent on shopping anyone and everyone that’s come within a gnat’s chuff of this story, just as long as Rupe, James and Rebekah are spared the ignominy of a 4 o’clock wakey wakey call. But all this certainly seems to be buying Trinity Mirror and Associated Newspapers enough time to nip down to Staples and order another half dozen shredders before the rozzers arrive. Trevor is right that, at the moment, it seems like the only crooks in town are Sun journos.

But what of the arresting officers ? Have we forgotten that the coppers waking up shagging Sun journos in the early hours are working for the force which is the other half of the same mucky coin. There are far more bent coppers being questioned and suspended on Operation Fuck They’ve Caught Us Out than anyone imagined – an early indication of the Met Police’s  “Buy One Get One Free” policy, available to all good news outlets up until very recently.

So we have bent coppers arresting bent journos. Now it depends on which side of the fence you sit, but corrupt state law enforcers against privately paid operators carrying out the orders of their superiors ? It’s a tough one, innit ? Rangers or Celtic ?

In a final oddity, Sean Penn has come out on the side or Argentina in the Falklands row. Now then, that’s a teaser. If you were judging Sean on Shanghai Surprise I may be shouting GOTCHA! from the rooftops. As it is, his role as Harvey Milk has saved him in my eyes, so Viva Las Malvinas it is. And if settling a major political military crisis by judging a man’s filmography isn’t the way forward, then I don’t know what is.

Stephen Lawrence. Anyone Really Surprised?


It’s very laudable, even easy to moan about the “Institutional Racism” in our Police Force. You don’t need to be a ranting left-wing loony to know just how differently the ethnic minorities are treated by the police compared to their white fellow citizens. The hilarious “Constable Savage” sketch of Not the Nine O’Clock News in the 1980s doesn’t seem dated, even though it’s more than 30 years later. Racism in the Met didn’t end with the disbandment of the SPG. Far from it. Savage holding someone for “possession of thick lips and curly black hair” would raise a giggle from many were it shown again tonight. (though the BBC wouldn’t now show it – far too un-pc for the sensitive audiences of today.)

Not that Atkinson or Rhys-Jones wrote it as a racist sketch, but as an attack on the (then) horribly racist Old Bill. Everybody laughed though (well we all did anyway), whether at the Police or the racist charges which the characters discuss within the show. But for many in the black community the skit was merely a reminder of the sort of shite they were putting up with every day on the streets of our cities. But the rest of ‘polite society’ laughed. Well it was farhking funny, wonnit ? Like Alf Garnet or Archie Bunker, their humour was often enjoyed by the very racists it was attacking. But that was years ago. Last century. A long forgotten time.

Really ? What about the poor Indian student Anuj Bidve shot in the head in Salford last week by someone with the self-anointed monicker “Psycho”. How about the overwhelming attitude and apathy of the white middle-classes to the news of anyone of colour shot by Her Majesty’s finest. Or John Terry‘s alleged racist abuse of a fellow professional sportsman. “SAVE OUR JOHN ! ” “But he’s England Captain !!!”” You can’t have a go at him !!”

At the other end of society I stood in a boozer a couple of months ago next to two men, ADULTS (and up to then assumed by me to be vaguely educated men) who used on three occasions the word coon in reference to a football player. And it’s not the only time I’ve heard the term recently. I know a bloke (I used to play rugby with him) who still uses the word, or derivatives of it. He finds it funny and has the cheek to presume I do too. He seems oblivious to the fact he is being offensive of the highest order. When you approach these people, protesting that you are offended by such language, they invariably roll their eyes, laugh at you and accuse you of taking it too seriously. (I can hear them doing it now, reading this).  I understand that the Chelsea skipper isn’t denying he used the language against Anton Ferdinand, but that we are in the wrong by taking it the wrong way. Oh I see: He called Anton a Black Cunt out of context. Silly me.

So who are we, the general public, to pin the badge of Institutional Racism on the Police? Granted, it is clear the original investigation was either bungled or was hindered by monumental racist-driven neglect. So the coppers were either criminals or morons. Probably both. But until we refuse to stand by and allow our mates, fellow commuters, drinkers and colleagues to systematically use foul and racist language; until we refuse to accept as a joke or irrelevant trivia the continual stereotyping and abuse of black people who the hell are we to point the finger at the Old Bill ?

The Met Police have a lot to apologise for (wouldn’t it have been nice for Acting Deputy Commissioner Cressida Dick to have taken the opportunity to say sorry to the Lawrence family outside the Old Bailey tonight ?) but they hardly stand alone as a predominately racist institution. They do, after all, take their new recruits from members of the public. It’d be nice to think if it happened again society wouldn’t protect, consciously or subconsciously, the killers as many have done (and are still doing) in this case.  It’d be nice to think, but by no means certain.

Sir, The Gentlemen of the Press are Here


The British, or to be more precise, the British Press, or to be more precise, the English Press don’t like Sepp Blatter, though they’re not exactly alone on that one. They think he takes bungs, fixes elections, is anti-English. Fresh from the “row” about whether the English football team could wear poppies on Remembrance Sunday, and following his insightful views on women’s football (“Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could have tighter shorts.”), match fixing (“I could understand it if it had happened in Africa, but not in Italy.”) and homosexuals (“I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.”) there has been a torrent of outraged copy spewing out of Fleet Street regarding Blatter’s latest decree. The head of FIFA has opined that racism on the pitch should be forgotten with a handshake after the match. A ridiculous opinion indeed, but what a godsend for the hacks of the press ? Immediately headlines such as “Now Beckham and Cameron slam Sepp Blatter over racism in football” (Daily Mail) and Blatter Must Go” (The Sun) have ploughed into nasty Sepp in exactly the way they…er…didn’t attack John Terry when he was filmed calling Anton Ferdinand a f**king black c*nt”.

Exactly the same organs demanding the hated Blatter’s resignation are the ones not calling for Terry to go:  “Terry vows to clear his name in race storm” (Daily Mail) and “Terry is Gagging for Action with England” (Sun). That’s telling him ! Strong stuff, indeed.  The Blatter affair has saved the tabloids from having to chastise the serial-shagging Terry and focus their sights on nasty foreigner Sepp. There’s something quite ironic the Mail labeling someone a racist. But that’s another yarn for another day.

This latest case of double standards pales into insignificance compared to the coverage of the official inquiry into the workings of the press. When not attacking Johnny Foreigner, there’s nothing journalists like better than writing about other journalists. Journos think we, (or rather you) are, like them, equally infatuated with journalism and stories about it. This obsession with their own trade and fellow hacks more often than not supersedes any other story that may drop on their desks. And nothing, NOTHING excites a hack more than when other hacks are deemed to be up Shitestraße, a condition currently afflicting my old colleagues at News International. You may have noticed the absolute glee with which other media outlets have been reporting the phone hacking scandal.  The Guardian clearly has an axe to grind with the Murdoch press and are loving every second of the coverage. The BBC are visibly beside themselves. But they all should be very careful, I reckon.

One can only assume that the thus-far unquestioned members of the press have nothing to hide. Either that or they realise that Inspector Knacker is taking so long over the News of the World and associates, that by the time the law gets round to them the shredders will have been doing overtime and their friendly private eyes will have been shooed out the back door, taking a large wad of cash with them. All evidence of naughtiness will be long gone by the time the rozzers arrive at their door.

Wherever I worked, there was always a deeply held belief in the mantra “there but for the grace of god go I”. The Mail put in the wrong picture ? Poor sods – someone’s due for a kicking. Headline in The Times got a typo in it? Jesus, someone’s for it. We just knew that, sooner or later we’d drop a clanger and it would be our turn to be hauled over the coals. There was always a bunch of annoying hacks giggling about and reveling in the misfortune and the mistakes of other rags, but us photo bods knew better than to behave like that. We’d been there too often to carp.

But the recent events at the NoW are not the result of honest mistakes, no matter what Herr Flick says. This isn’t a case of mistakenly putting a pic of a boy from the wrong school in the paper (guilty as charged- Eton instead of Harrow) or putting a photo in upside down (property page – also guilty, your honour) or accidentally being pissed most afternoons (Happy Days. Oh fuck it, ok, I’d like 173 other offences taken into account). No we’re talking serious, intentionally-undertaken crimes here. As much as we’d like to think that this sort of behaviour was confined to Fortress Wapping, I think we all know that that’s unlikely. If I was the rest of Fleet St, I’d treat the phone hacking story with due reverence and respect. These things have a nasty habit of turning around and biting you on the arse, just when you’re gloating about them.

It only surprises me that all this seems to have come as a shock to most people. How the hell did they think the tabloids (and those pretending not to be tabloids) got their information from ? Through honest journalism ? Concerned readers offering exclusives to those nice gentlemen of the press ? Above-the-table briefings by policemen to reporters?

What will hang Fleet St is the same that has kept the UK tabs thriving for so many years: The ability (thru piles of cash) and the willingness (thru the unique competitiveness of the Street) to work outside the law to obtain ‘scoops’. The Scews was not the most read rag in the world for no reason. It delivered all the tawdry and ugly stories that the British public craved after. Whether the public demand for such shite is reason enough to go get these stories is a moot point. However, they spent fortunes hunting down these yarns, keeping them from the notebooks of their competitors, out-bidding anyone else that showed an interest. So many competing national papers in one small county propagates such a frenzied pursuit of higher readership figures.

The sort of pressures between titles, almost unique to London’s papers, made it almost inevitable that one day they’d go too far in their quest for the best story. What “too far” actually meant was open for debate for a long time. Apparently, if you happened to be successful and obtained celebrity through your work, reporters sneaking around your bins and eavesdropping on your private conversations was truly shocking, but frightfully readable, and understandable.  Gordon Taylor, (“that’s rotten, got any more?”) Elton John (“awful! what else ?”), Hugh Grant (“terrible! love it”). Then the manure hit the air-conditioning system. The Milly Dowler episode clearly was “too far”. Even the well-kept coppers, some of whom passed on vital info to the newspaper,  now displayed the sort of outrage and indignation a guilty party will often show. The mucky business was rife. Everyone knew it, but somehow no-one now admits they did.

A while back I was asked for a colleague’s mobile phone number. This colleague was a reporter who happened to be vaguely connected to someone famous who happened to be in the news at the time. The reporter who asked me for this number had gotten my number from a friend. I gave him a “fuck right off” for his trouble. This reporter was not working for the News of the World. He must have been another “lone rogue reporter” (there’s a lot of them about). I don’t know why he wanted the number. I just had a good idea why he wanted it. He was (and still is) a dodgy, slimy cvnt. I wasn’t playing his game.

Not that I am suggesting that the Mail, Mirror, Express, Guardian etc etc have anything to worry about. This is clearly only an issue which needs to be addressed over at Wapping and Wapping alone.

Nowhere else.

At all.

There’s nothing new here. You’d think that this distaste for and distrust of the press was a new thing. Don’t be fooled. In 1959 Peter Sellers, in “The Goons” episode The Scarlet Capsule had the line:

“Sir, the gentlemen of the press are here. I tried to hold ’em back, but they burst through by putting money in me hands”.

It could have been written yesterday.

…and there’s more…

Back in 1987 Jim Hacker was certainly under no illusions about the newspapers of London – or at least who they were read by.

.

Over 20 years later, comedians Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt updated it. Not much has changed. Apart from the addition to the list of The Independent and the fact that the Express and the Star are now recognised as newspapers – if that is the right word:
The Times is read by the people who run the country.
The Telegraph is read by the people think they run the country.
The Guardian is read by the people who have run the country for the past 12 years and realised they’re blown it.
The Independent is read by people who got to the newsagents after they’d run out of The Guardian and The Times.
The Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country.
The Express is read by Marcus Brigstocke to wind himself up.
The Mirror is read by the people who vote for the people who read the Guardian and have now blown it.
The Sun is read people who’ll vote for people who’ll run the country to suit the people who read the Financial Times while somehow convincing themselves that those people will give a toss about the people who buy The Sun the moment the election’s over.
And The Star is read very … slowly … with your lips moving.