The Wrong Way


I had to make that call the other day. It was one of those moments which happen to me every so often when I call my current cable supplier (Virgin Vince Cable XL) and tell them I’d like to opt out of receiving Sky Sports. I was paying £50 a month for the four or five channels of sport which Rupert Murdoch pumps out every day. I watch these for approximately 2 hours-a-week, unless there is a major golf tournament of an English Test match showing. That was an ok arrangement when Rupert was paying me about 50 quid a month to work for him, but now he’s not paying me any more, the outlay of that sort of dosh for that sort of return is a no-goer.

The sort of high-class sport I'll miss

The sort of high-class sport I’ll miss

And No: I am not unaware that very soon there will be many English Test matches showing on Sky TV which I will want to see, many involving throwing things at Australians. I shall have to listen to the radio or go down the pub to watch them. Not perfect, but it does come with benefits. And no, I cannot go over to You TV’s Sky Sports Day pass as I saw the advert for this three days after agreeing a new 18 month contract with Richard Branson. He came around personally. With that Scotch Dr Who bloke.

I will, of course also miss out on the many cycling races and tournaments which ESPN show constantly (The Tour de Opium Den is on at the moment, I believe) and all the action from the WLTA which British Eurosport and ESPN thrive on. I shall not be going down to the pub to watch those. I’ll be going down to the pub, but not to watch those.

The only thing that really will be missed will be the Crime & Investigation Channel, which is the only station which The Incumbent regularly watches. So me pulling the plug means she doesn’t get to watch “Snapped: Women Who Kill” or “I Want to Stab the Fuck Out of My Husband” and the such like. I can live with that. Hopefully.

But no matter, I am (as you may have read) in a good place at the moment and as the country takes that balaclava off and takes in lung fulls of fresh spring air, what better time is there to sit yourself down in a nice dark lounge and enjoy all the wonders that TV on Demand, Tivo and Catchup TV brings you ? Having gone through the ascent of man’s struggle with recording channels from Betamax, Philips 2000 VCR, Laserdisc, and Video Plus I am finding these latest gadgets just sensational. You’ll never miss a thing !

jvcvcr

I know this “you’ll never miss a thing”phrase has been used for 30 years now ever since the first pine-clad video recorders, about the size of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, were wedged in underneath our 21 inch tellys and three of you had to push five buttons each in perfect synchronization to record The Krypton Factor Regional Finals, but this time, you really won’t miss a thing…unless the Beeb or ITV decide they’re not going to put your favourite up on Catchup cos they’re gonna repeat it at 3 o’clock in the morning on BBC Three Worldwide or ITV9.

But apart from that it is a wonderful toy. For how many years have we yearned for a gadget which replays commercial channel programmes without showing the adverts ? No more fast forwarding at the break, rushing through tv spots for Iceland, DFS, Go Compare, Muller Light and Argos, then taking your eye off it for a moment to open a packet of biscuits only to look up again and realise you’ve gone five minutes into the next section of the programme and have just caught a glimpse, albeit at x32 speed who the murderer was. You rewind quickly, not looking at the Missus who’s thinking “prat. AGAIN” but overshoot the mark in the other direction, so you give up, press play and watch the Argos advert, this time at normal speed.

Not any more though. If you can put up with waiting for a day, many an ITV murder mystery, a Channel 4 spy series or a Channel 5…er….whatever they show on that channel (pass) can be viewed without seeing an Ad at any speed. The advertisers must hate it. Poor them.

If programs clash, you can record 8 channels while watching the 9th, or so they tell me. Somehow though, we never seem  not to have to tape the BBC’s The Village. It’s a sort of Warhorse meets Schindler’s List. Does anyone have any fun at all in that place ? Christ it’s heavy going. Good, but heavy going. I sit there with The Incumbent, struggling manfully not to open up a major artery, longing all the time for the light relief of half a dozen brutal and apparently random murders in Endeavour, currently playing on the other side. But no matter, 24 hours later when on a Monday there’s nothing on TV to watch (unless you have Sky Sports and like Monday Night Football), flick over to ITV Catchup and watch young Inspector Endeavour Morse without adverts. Much better and half an hour shorter too.

But be warned. And here’s the point of writing.

Do not, under any circumstances try to play catchup with the BBC’s latest offering:
The Wright Way. If you enjoyed Love thy Neighbour, Mind Your Language or maybe Bless This House from the depths of the 1970s, then this one is for you. Otherwise, move away from the remote control. You won’t see or hear this many re-hashed jokes, knob gags or sexual stereotypes at a Bernard Manning meets Stan Boardman gig. It is jaw-droppingly bad. Worse than any Mike Bushell sports report, worse than Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox hosting The Brits. Almost in Armageddon league. Almost.

Or as  in his Guardian blog puts it:  Worse than The Life of Riley. Worse than My Family. Worse than Big Top, even, and that was a sitcom about what a circus would be like if it had Amanda Holden in it.”

or Tom Sutcliffe in the Independent : “so groan-inducing that you want to gather a mob with torches and pitchforks.”

F-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-ucking Awful

F-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-ucking Awful

A pal of mine went to see Alexi Sayle in concert the other night. It happened to be the day after Thatcher had died, and Alexi mused that perhaps Ben Elton had died too, seeing as the once “right on” socialist champion made his living out of trashing Mrs T but had been strangely silent over the recent passing.

“Up Yours, Mrs Fatch” you might have thought he’d say. “Ooooh Topical stuff, topical stuff”

The 1980s intellectual leader of alternative comedy. He did, of course, bring us The Young Ones and Black Adder.  But never forget he also wrote “The Thin Blue Line” — that truly shocking Police sitcom which put back Rowan Atkinson’s career several decades. The 1980s intellectual leader of alternative comedy? Well maybe. Maybe not.

Worse was to come.

No, Ben Elton wasn’t dead. He was in the study of  Right On Comrade Towers making the final flourishing touches to The Wright Way.  I am here to reiterate that is was The Wrong Way.  In the opening episodes there was a ten minute sketch involving our hero telling his lesbian (phwoarrrrr) daughter and her partner (fnarr fnarr) how to load a dishwasher properly. Later he was caught by a slow, fat, heavily-accented West Indian toilet attendant drying the fly of his trousers on the blower/dryer in the office loos. TWICE !  I can’t wait for next week when there’s a hilarious skit when he moans about the names of coffee in Starbucks, his trousers fall down for no reason and he’s caught by the vicar apparently mounting a poodle. “ooooh Topical stuff, topical stuff” as Ben might say. And, again, he’d be wrong.

de0c44b572772e11dd74cc9f532b3a0c_ben

Please go back to writing dreadful musicals about “Queen”

Fortunately, thanks to the few remaining channels I have left, I can switch over and watch International Horse Drug Taking from Newmarket on Channel 4. That brilliant Claire Balding’s presenting it….

Maybe I’ll just watch the adverts.

.

norfsarfADVERT

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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.

Total Recall


For those who missed it, we bring you exclusive and unadulterated transcript from David Cameron‘s appearance at the Leveson Inquiry today:

Mr Robert Jay QC (the Inquiry’s lead counsel). “Good morning, Mr Cameron, we thank you for taking the time to appear here this morning, and for submitting your evidence beforehand. It must have taken you some considerable time to put together”

Mr Cameron (Prime Minister of Great Britain & NI and [referendum pending] The Falkland Islands) “I’m sorry I don’t recall how long it took me”

RJ: “No matter, Mr Cameron, it is not important, but thank you anyway.”

DC: “Can I just point out that I have also been thanked by the editors of the Telegraph, Mail, Mirror and the Independent, not just the Sun and News of the World”

RJ: “And now me…”

DC: “Yes, I just wanted to make that point”

RJ: “But not the Guardian”

DC:”I don’t recall the exact details, but no. They never thanked me. Bolshie bastards.”

RJ:. “…… Quite.  Now before we start, Mr Cameron would you like a glass of water ?”

DC: “I can’t recall. I do know, that if I did ever want a glass of water Rebekah Brooks would always offer me a glass of water, as she would any thirsty person. There’s nothing sinister in that

RJ: “Did she ever off you a glass of water ?”

DC: “I don’t recall. But I do recall perfectly her telling me that she had once offered Gordon Brown a glass of water. And Tony Blair. And Lloyd George. ”

RJ: “……………………….!!”

RJ: “Do you remember on the 18th of the 9th, at the Stupid Arse’s Club, Piccadilly, taking water, and indeed lunch with Mrs Brooks, Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch, Andy Colson, Joeseph Goebbels, Jeremy Hunt, General Pinochet, Matthew Freud and Frederick West where, over seven-and-a-half-hours you discussed the BBC licence fee, phone hacking, the planned assassination of Tony Blair, global domination, the BSkyB bid and pasty tax ? You dined on goat curry, ackee and jerk truffles, served by young black men and women dressed in Tongan Marines Outfits”

DC: “hmmmm…..  that’s all a bit vague, I’d have to check my notes in my diary…”

RJ: “ok, Mr Cam…”

DC: “…but I do clearly remember Gordon Brown saying that he had enjoyed many cosy suppers at the Ginger Jock’s Shellfish Bar on the Penge bypass, with John Prescott and all of the above mentioned people, except, of course, Jeremy Hunt. Who was away at that time. With me. Honest.”

RJ: “Now, Mr Cameron you are, are you not, friends and neighbours  with Mr and Mrs Brooks?”

DC: “I can’t recall”

RJ: “You don’t remember going round to their nearby house on several occasions for breakfast, dinner and supper ?”

DC: “No”

RJ:”No ? You’ve never gone round to their nearby house on several occasions for breakfast, dinner and supper ??”

DC: “No, I mean I don’t recall if I don’t remember if I ever went to their nearby house on several occasions for breakfast, dinner and supper ? There’s nothing sinister in that. I do know that Gordon Brown went round. I specifically remember that. And that Blair bloke. I remember saying to my wife at the time (her name escapes me) that that was very sinister. Very sinister indeed

RJ: “So just to sum up before the break, Mr Cameron, you don’t recall any of the 723 dinner engagements you took with the Brooks’ and the Murdochs? or the 19 occasions when Mr Hunt walked around the Cabinet Office handing out Sky Subscription vouchers and News of the World-emblazoned Flags of St George ? Or the 17 week holiday in 2010 which you and your wife, who’s name escapes you, spent on board Rupert Murdoch’s Yacht the Wendi Boat Comes In, moored off the Turks and Caicos Islands ? Even though in his evidence, Mr Hunt states that he acted as cabin boy for you and whassername for that vacation ? You do, however, remember catching a glimpse or Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in 1998 passing brown envelopes, full of cash, to Rupert Murdoch and his son, round the back of the drive-in MacDonald’s, Wapping Highway ?”

DC: “Correct. Especially the last bit.”

Lord Justice Leveson: ” I think it’s time for a short break now, Mr Jay.  Thank you Mr Cameron, we shall resume at 1 o’clock, if that is ok with you ?”

DC: “I can’t recall, sir.”

RJ: “Oh just fuck off”.

What Goes Around Comes Around. But Only Time Will Tell.


It’s been a roller coaster ride, an accident waiting to happen, in some cases it’s been every mother’s nightmare and lots of other clichés which journalists resort to when they can think of nothing original to write.

It seems as if the worm has turned (there’s another one) and this morning feels like the dawning of a new era (ahem). You know something of biblical proportions (ding!) has happened when The Sunday Times calls for a United States of Europe and a single currency as the only way of getting out of the mess we’re  in, thanks to Greekenomics (ping!). Honestly, yes they are. Don’t believe me ? I would say look it up online, but, of course, News International websites require a subscription. Of course they do. Do you really think you could get quality journalism like that for free? No, pop up to your local Tesco express (there’ll be one at the top of the road, I assure you) and pick yourself up a copy (for our younger readers, it looks like several dozen sheets of paper with words and photos printed on them, stacked together and folded in half, vaguely resembling one of those old book thingies. It’ll have the words The Sunday Times written on the front. And they’ll be a lot of unsold ones laying in a pile next to a similar but much smaller pile of something called The Mail on Sunday. Such is the country we live in).

When a Rupert Murdoch title starts eschewing the virtues of a single, fiscal, federal country called :”Europe” as the only way out of the mire you know two things: 1) Some big shit is about to go down and; 2) That is the view of the Sunday Times Editor and his alone and it in no way relates to any view the proprietor may or may not hold.

These ideas would, before now, be a red reg to a bull (beep!) to any right-wing eurosceptic worth his salt. The fact that The Sunday Times is the standard-bearer for your local right-wing eurosceptic makes this all the more worrying. Somehow, somewhere (probably in downtown Athens), something has hit the air-conditioning system and the resulting spray of faeces is landing in the eyes of anyone within a time zone or three.

This call for one, enormous, unified country suggests, of course that it will include every man woman, child and state in Europe, except, of course The UK and our old friends, the former owners of the Elgin Marbles. We surely will be outside the tent, pissing in (bong!), but the rest of continental Europe will be inside pissing out. And all over us. As befits our standing as the awkward bastards of the continent, we will be left with only the USA and Greece to trade with. I hope you like Retsina with your hamburger, cos that’s all there is.
( I was going to write that the Greeks do a nice line in eternal flames, but as the Olympic flame went out as soon as the British delegation arrived recently – no symbolism there – I shan’t)

But I didn’t pick up this change of tack (woop!) by reading the Sunday Times (the restraining order put in place by my doctor – banning me coming within a quarter-mile of a News International title – is still in force), no, no, no. This point of view was first put to me by Mr A Heckler (you will have read some of his nasty little comments on these very pages) while we were en route (ahooowhar) to a rugby match in Twickenham yesterday. While the rest of the passengers in our train carriage were discussing the probable outcome of the match between Ulster and Leinster (no, nor did I until recently), the big man and I were chatting about the state of the markets, economic policy and the collapse of the Euro. God! we’re a fascinating couple to be around, I can tell you.

And such was the vigour and enthusiasm with which we put across our views that we both found ourselves rather thirsty and, as soon as the train stopped at Twickers, we rushed to a nearby hostelry.

(Excuse me for diverting form the subject, but I have just had to pause to switch off the TV. Nicky Campbell‘s Sunday morning program has just started. I mis-heard his opening lines of the show when he said “Is there a difference between a cult and a religion?”. I immediately shouted to myself “Yes there is. One is worshiped in a church and the other is a failed DJ who has a sunday morning program.” It’s ok. TV’s off now. I am back).

…and relax…

Now, what I should have said to the barman was, clearly “Two pints of expensive watery Guinness please, and could you pour them into really flimsy plastic beakers for me, mate?” But not having been in this situation too often as of late, I merely said “Two pints of Guinness, mate,please”. At the drop of a hat (bingbong!), or at least far too quickly to have poured fresh, stout, our man returned with the legend “Ten Pounds, please, mate”. Almost immediately I calculated that him charging me £10 for two pints meant that they were charging £5-a-pint for one. My life passed before me, (whohoo!) I couldn’t believe my ears,(cha-ching) and the ground opened up before me (peep!).

I used what will doubtless becoming a cliché of my own: “£5 for a pint ? You robbing f*cker!”. A pal in the bar checked: A pint of Guinness (before half of Ireland arrived in town for the match) cost £3.80 in this pub. Now you might think that was a big enough markup for any pub. Clearly not. (For the record the pun was The Tup, Twickenham (pictured). Be my guest and boycott these robbing bastards. I’m sure the other boozers in town did/do the same, but this was the one I was in. W*nkers.)

All day I never worked out which fans were supporting Leinster, and who were cheering for Ulster (though the replica strips the all wore could have given me a visual clue, I guess). In the stadium, one half shouted “Leinster, Leinster, Leinster,” while the rest simultaneously wailed “Ulster, Ulster,Ulster”. The result was a constant “Leulster, Leulster, Leulster” bellowed by 85,000 passionate Irishmen. Leulster may or may not be another in a long line of Irish counties I’ve never heard of, but boy, the mob we watched yesterday can sure play rugby. And they sure can drink.

I don’t know what they would have shouted when a barman charged them £5 for a pint of Guinness, and I don’t know how many Euros that converts to, but I suspect the language was blue, either in English or Gaelic. In a final act of stupidity/arrogance/sebcoeism (and you’ll read that word again here until I make it my own cliché), these 80-odd-thousand thirsty Irishmen couldn’t get a pint of Guinness in the stadium because the competition was sponsored by and named after a rival beer. Pathetic, ain’t it ?

Business is business, but if that isn’t a missed opportunity in-the-name-of competition, I don’t know what is. In the end, the bar I was queuing at even run out of the eponymous lager. In the world’s most expensive capital, we hike up our beer to glean 100s of percents in markup, then we deprive 85,000 thirsty Irish rugby fans, not only the opportunity to spend a week’s wages on one of our pints, but we also run out of the alternative too. Well done. Very well, done. Brought to you my the country that organised the ticketing for the Olympics.

It’s no wonder no-one in Europe cares if we’re inside or outside their tent.

These are my pearls of wisdom for today. The writing is on the wall. (Babumtischhh!)


Jobs for the Boys and Girls.


I’ve had a few decent jobs. I’ve had a couple of bloody awful ones too. I spent a good deal of my working life at The Telegraph; then a decent amount of time in London at TIME Magazine. I spent only a few months in the employ of Rupert Murdoch, but I don’t think he misses me. He’s probably got plenty on his plate to worry about at the moment anyway. Mr Dacre doesn’t lay awake at night wondering why I only did a couple of weeks freelancing on his Daily Mail. At least I assume he doesn’t. How much time Alexander Lebedev spends wishing I was still at The Independent, only he knows. When he gets too depressed about it, he goes off and punches someone, I hear. Robert Maxwell fell off his boat before I got the chance of working for him. Pity.

So you’d think that the constant moaning and whingeing from her father might have put a young Bealing off of journalism, wouldn’t you ? Well apparently not.

If you click on the picture above you’ll see an interview with former Tory politician Ann Widdecombe, the first raft of questions being asked by my eldest daughter Lucy (bottom right hand corner of this photo) . The more observant of you will notice Lucy keeps here questions to Ann’s role in Strictly Come Dancing rather than tackle her on political issues. It’s probably for the best: Her dad, whereas he would have struggled to come up with anything coherent or relevant to ask about Strictly, would have ended up on an assault charge should he ever have had to ask Widdecombe about her “struggle against Socialism”. Probably why her dad ended up as a picture editor, rather than an interviewer. You’ll also note that Lu speaks the Queen’s English unlike her father. Another advantage she has over me.

So that’s my eldest sorted out for the future, but the job market is a precarious one. My current job of “Watching Columbo and Printing T-Shirts” is one of my favourite jobs I’ve had, it just doesn’t pay anything like I thought it might. Almost the opposite in fact. On the other hand, I’m working at a place I like (home) with people I like (my mate Rob) and the hours are pretty good.

It could be worse, I could be Andrew Strauss who’s looking particularly precarious in his job as England cricket captain, his team having lost its fourth test match in a row. There’s no disgrace losing in Sri Lanka. The conditions are brutally hot and the pitches are so different from those in England that you’d need to be a particular talent to pull off a win, especially in Galle which has the reputation of being a graveyard for English players, and in particular English bowlers.

Bealing leads off The Fleet St Exiles having taken 6-22, taking them to a
3 wickets victory against the Sri Lankan Airways XI, Galle, Sri Lanka 2005

Then again some people are luckier than others. My good mate Dave has finally ended his long wait for a permanent job by landing a plumb one on a magazine. It’s been a long wait for him and I was thrilled when he called to tell me he’s landed it. Well done, Wavey ! Then there’s rugby’s Stuart Lancaster who has just been given the job which everyone in the country (57 Old Farts aside) thought he should have been given weeks ago. The new English Rugby Coach has fought off seemingly nearly every other coach in the world for the job before the old Twats of Twickenham finally run out of South Africans to turn them down. The RFU were forced to give the job to Lancaster, something they should have done when it was clear he a) knew how to coach a rugby team and b) had no time for show ponies. Celebrity coach he ain’t. And thank fuck for that.

Andy Robinson keeps his job. Yes, really. The Scotland coach had presided over a team which last won a match in black&white but somehow managed to convice the SRFU that he’s the one for the post. Can there be another man in the country (and yes, we can still count Scotland in that) who’s luckier to be still employed ? No, not if you don’t count Francis Maude there isn’t.

The Idiot Saville Row Tory Cabinet Office Minister Maude emplored drivers to fill up their Jerrycans with petrol and prepare for fuel shortages due to the tanker driver’s strike and that “there are lives at stake”. Once people had Googled what a Jerrycan was (apparently not everyone’s obsessed by WWII like me), checked that there is no strike (and won’t be one for at least a fortnight, and even then, probably not) and that the tanker drivers weren’t using Mad Max II technology to threaten people’s lives and protect the remaining gasoline, everyone assumed Maude would be taken round the back by Dave and Gideon and pummeled to death with his own Jerrycan. Sadly not.

“Half a tank of unleaded and 3 lucky dips for tonight’s lottery, please mate.” – a scene from Mad Maude II: The Road Warrior

For starters, Dave was too busy telling us how much he loved Pasties, and about the hilarious incident when he recently bought a pasty on Leeds railway station from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. MMMMmmmmmmm….Yum Yum. Trouble is all the poor sods at the Leeds station branch of the West London Pasty Company lost their jobs in 2007. So all that justification by Dave, all that gettin dahn wiv da prols an da kidz was, ow u say,  a load of old bollocks.

Still, Dave’ll soon have some proper opposition in Parliament to point out all his mistakes, scandals, lies and wrong-doings. George Galloway is back in a job. Sadly, it’s true. The Big Brother Cat Impersonator is back in his job as an MP, this time by winning a by-election in Bradford West, a once Labour stronghold. George won by a landslide by campaigning on one issue: An anti-Afghan War campaign in the predominantly-muslim neighbourhoods of Bradford West. He even intimated earlier in the campaign he actually was a musilm (he isn’t really).

Just fancy that: A tv celebrity, however micro and annoying to you and me, campaigns in a Muslim area against a war seen by many to be anti-muslim, securing a 10,000 majority and WINNING a by-election in a previously Labour heartland. Now who could have predicted that ? Should anyone in Labour be brought to account for this humliation? Should Mr Millipede still be in his job ?

The Fight Starts Now, Right After Mummy’s Made My Supper


You’re reading a blog written by a bloke who seems to be one of the few who has yet to watch the Kony video. I was forwarded it by The Incumbent, who had in turn been sent it by her son. I didn’t watch it. My daughter asked if I’d seen it ‘yet’ (presuming some sort of inevitability about me watching it).  I hadn’t, and I haven’t. She should know me better than that by now.

I dunno if my complete lack of bovveredness about this latest in a long line of bandwagons rolling by is due merely to my growing awareness of my position standing on the wrong side of the age-gap, my long-held and well-founded deep suspicion and mistrust of social networks and their ensuing campaigns, or whether it’s the fact that this really does seem like a very old story indeed to me. Don’t get me wrong – it is a horrific-sounding story, and one which has been covered endlessly by the quality press over the years. You know the quality press ? They’re the lot who’ve been labelled as useless and corrupt thanks to Levenson Inquiry. For those reading this from the Twittersphere, you’ll find the quality press on the shelf in the newsagent ( that’s the shop next to the laundromat) below Heat Magazine and the Glee fanzines.

Maybe it’s because ever since I witnessed those middle class teenage wankers ruin a perfectly enjoyable and effective student demo last year, including throwing fire extinguishers off buildings at the coppers below, I’ve been less than impressed with the present crop of activist. Pater must have been jolly miffed with them when they returned home for evensong.

Then again, it could be my opinion that citizen journalism is a dangerous, un-policeable threat to well-researched, fact-checked and verified copy (this blog aside, of course), or maybe it’s because there are a million other things happening in the world to worry about, starting with Syria, the invasion of Iran, missiles from Israel, Banker’s corruption, and the disbandment of the NHS. Working my way down the list from there, past Scottish Devolution, which colour hat the Queen will wear at Ascot, the Downton Abbey plot and who’s going to win Masterchef until we arrive at the fate of Joseph Kony.

These views won’t of course be universally popular, but there’s something grating to me about the Teeny Tots of the Twittersphere presuming they can change the world cos they know how to shorten an email link and can use the letters OMFG with impunity. Labeling someone a “Douchebag” or calling each others efforts “Awesome” does not a New Model Army make (by the way, that’s the last time you’ll read either word here).

And there my thin and badly thought-out argument rested. After all, I haven’t actually seen the film and you wouldn’t expect one so level-headed as I to attack something I haven’t seen, would you ? Then I watched Charlie Brooker last night, and he has saved me from ever watching the sodding video. I never knew the film-maker was, in fact, an evangelical, bible-bashing, doucheb… there, you nearly got me at it. Turns out there is more to these videos than just saving little children.

Thanks Charlie.  Not further questions, your witness. Oh, sorry, did I disturb your Facebook session ? Oh never mind, let me know what you think if and when you manage to get out of bed. And do hurry up, your mum’s made lunch.

What I Like to Do he Dousin


So they haven’t found him yet, then ? You know the one – old mop-heap – as Jeremy Bowen likes to call him. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, as everyone else calls him, in a brilliantly conceived plan, and showing superb foresight, has “had eet on ees toes”, as they’re saying in downtown Bani Walid nowadays.

How this man, a buffoon by all accounts, made his getaway in a convoy of limos, with barely four months head-start is beyond me. Clearly, too, beyond that lot in the Foreign Offices and Security Services. Daffy’s whereabouts is, at present, unknown. Anyone starting to see a pattern here ?? We couldn’t find our own arse with both hands.


Before they left for a bit of winter sun in Burkina Faso, by way of the Nigerien town of Agadez (as in “Push Pineapple, Shake the Tree” fame) Muammar’s men made sure they left behind a couple of good reads (no space in their suitcases, one supposes). The weighty tomes apparently tell the tale of how MI6 was complicit in the illegal abduction and torture of terrorist suspects – crimes for which, until now, Carlton of the F.O. has laid the blame firmly at the doorstep of Uncle Sam.

Even Tony Blair, who up til now has never been thought as of have been a liar  (subs please check this-MB) said that our boys had nothing to do with what’s known as Extraordinary Rendition and that is was purely an American affair. And I for one believed him. If, after all, one can’t believe the godfather to Rupert Murdoch’s daughter, who can one believe ? I must start buying Vogue – they get all the best stories, you know.

These men (some of whom actually did turn out to be terrorists, honest) were whisked away by the Brits and the Yanks, off to some black hole in Libya where they were subjected to waterboarding, sleep deprivation and were bombarded with hours and hours of non-stop, excruciating noise. One can only believe that somehow the CIA and MI6 had got hold of preview copies of Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film, now being screened on Channel 4. This promises to be 15-and-a-half hours of pain and deep misery, comparable only perhaps to a night at a Morrissey concert, an hour stuck in the lift with Michael McIntyre or maybe the pain suffered when your dentist forgets his root-canal kit and opts for using a desert spoon and a mallet.

But to be fair to Mr Cousins (and I’m never anything but fair) we can use analogies from his own world: His whining tone is that of the noise Harry Palmer was forced to listen to in The Ipcress File when he found himself strapped into an east-European brain-washing machine; After barely an hour I was screaming for Reservoir Dogs’ Mr Blonde to hack off my ears; The Incumbent wanted to shoot him with that gun made from a bicycle pump from the scene in Munich.

Being pretty much housebound, couchbound and eggbound for the last six weeks, how I was looking forward to the definitive documentary on my favourite art form. I imagined it to be the movies equivalent of the Olivier-narrated The World at War, or to do for the US what Ken Burns did with Civil War, instead I got an Extraordinary Rendition of my own, with all the appeal of Jude Law trying to act the Yellow Pages.

Mark Cousins: Pretentious, Moi ?

I can only assume Mr Cousins’ voice is as grating to his native Northern Irish homies as it is to me down here in the soft South East. I can’t believe his pretentious bollox is given much shrift in the bars of Belfast. It’s surely doubtful that when the great Fergal Sharkey penned My Perfect Cousin (perhaps in those very same bars) he was not thinking of this bloke. The far-from-perfect Mr Cousins may think I like listening to him and agreeing with all he says. I Dousin.

I suppose I should have known what was coming. I should have known that something was rotten in Channel 4 when they rolled-out their fledgling coverage of Athletics with the opening scenes of the World’s Athletics Championships from Daegu (apparently we looked for Gaddafi while we were there but found no-one). The Incumbent will tell you that if there isn’t a movie showing on our TV there will doubtless be some sporting event or other. As a lover of all things track ‘n’ field (apologies for the ‘n’) I settled down to soak-up a week’s worth of international running ‘n’ jumping, and not a Boris or Seb in sight. What could possibly go wrong ??

A paid-up BBC-phile, I set aside my prejudices (yes I do have some) that Auntie wasn’t showing the event as usual and sat glued, hoping to see a professional, seamless broadcast, mirroring the talent on the track.

Well one can hope. Remember that young US sports presenter in the Boom Goes the Dynamite clip ? (see Sports..er…News… earlier post). Well forget him. This is real talent:

In what I now know to be a pre-Cousins assault, and in one of the few Channel 4 programs not include an autopsy, the station unveiled the wonderfully hapless and hopeless Ortis Deley.  I have to put out a warning to all those who haven’t seen this man before. You thought Carol Kirkwood was useless? Still under the impression that Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood at that awards show were the worst things ever to appear on TV ? Wait just til you watch Hopeless Deley. He delivers here a quite wonderful British and Commonwealth all-comers record for nervous lunacy in front of a camera.

I never thought I’d ever see Michael Johnson look nostalgic for the gin-soaked BBC studio, where the only real task is keeping Brendan Foster upright in his seat during commentary. This left me fleeing for Eurosport- a first for me and not half as truly awful as I thought. It’s a bit like standing outside a TV rental shop and having a poor-man’s Tony Gubba shout the commentary in your ear, as if he’s really there at the event. So not half as bad as I feared.

But soon I was hurtling back for more of the hilarity that was Channel 4’s coverage. Then the rotten sods pulled him from the anchor slot – bloody spoilsports. We were left with the charming and, let’s be honest, near-professional Rick Edwards. Spoilt the whole show.

So here is your chance to catchup. My personal best is 1min 37.5 secs, during his first Oscar Pistorius quote. I nearly wet myself. Take it away, Hopeless.

There would have been more of the above but those radical fun-loving sheisters at Channel 4 have decided that we mustn’t watch their presenter fuck-up for 20 minutes. We have to thank a rival broadcaster for what’s left.

Jessica Ennis. Goodnight.

The Harper Seven are Innocent


Makes you feel proud, doesn’t it ? All those wonderful politicians putting party differences aside to gang up on Rupert Murdoch. Oh well, good luck to them with that one, then. Rupe tends to be a bit cute when he’s cornered. My money’s on the brains-trust of Clegg, Cameron and Miniband being outwitted by the Dirty Digger. Again.

But at least they’re trying, right? I mean just who the hell does he think he is ??? Think he can just do what he likes and get away with it. Well there are standards you know, cobber !

Fiddling your expenses, claiming for moat-cleaning, buying porn for your partner, fridges and televisions for your second home, repairing your mock-tudor house at the taxpayers expense, false accounting, ghost mortgages, keeping your gay-lover sweet and secretly-housed with our money THIS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Anyone found guilty of such behaviour would surely be deemed unfit for both office and/or purpose? Go get him, boys !!!

Oh, hang on…I may have got some of that wrong.

Anyway, just a quick pointer on how to (and how not to) behave in front of a parliamentary select committee: This bloke used to be a journalist and was found out to be a naughty boy…

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…while this bloke used to be a copper investigating corruption at News International until he stopped investigating corruption at News International when he took up a very nice offer to become a crime correspondent for…er…News International.

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Wot think?  And the BAFTA goes to…

(apologies to all those expecting a piece on David Beckham‘s daughter. My bent copper has been tardy with the info this week).