Much-loved British entertainer Sir Bruce Forsyth died in August 2017. He passed away a few months after he’d undergone key-hole surgery to repair a couple of aneurysms. In case you’re hazy on aneurysms, they are bulges in an artery that could burst and kill you. I know because I had one that almost killed me. Sir Bruce … Read more How I Very Nearly Became Sir Bruce Forsyth CBE (Deceased)
I’ve recently spent time writing sleeve-notes for a Balham Alligators box set. That’s exactly the kind of thing washed-up old hacks like me have to do when they reach a certain age. I was researching “pub rock” when I stumbled on something surprising. It’s seemingly now accepted that the Pub Rock scene collapsed following the Punk Explosion of 1976-77. Legend has it … Read more Pub Rock Revisited: No Sleep Till Kennington Oval
I’ve always been overweight. The “body mass index” seems fraudulent to me because it takes no account of the shape or build of a person’s body. But despite the prevarication, I’ve known for some time I need to drop a few pounds. Losing weight would make me more healthy, I know that. But knowing isn’t … Read more Losing Weight Wasn’t As Tough As I Thought
Anyone seeking out the “authentic curry experience” is on a fool’s errand. Leaving definition aside, everybody’s got a different idea of what makes for a Perfect Curry. There are so many variations it’s easy to boggle the mind as well as the palate. Even narrowing it down to just dishes from the Indian Sub-Continent, there are almost as … Read more The Perfect Curry
Russell Brand has recently been splattered all over the media. He’s advocating radical ideas by the bucket-load. Asked by “a beautiful woman” to guest-edit the left-leaning New Statesman magazine, he gave them the subject of Revolution. He waded in with a 4,500-word article of his own. And a pile of quirky contributions were elicited from … Read more Russell Brand, Revolution, and Promoting The Messiah Complex Tour
Comedy is subjective. So is writing. I’ve just come across a 45-minute video I felt I had to share. It skirts around both subjects and comes up with some savoury little insights. The video will not please everybody. The comments below it are a testament to that. But anyone who shares my vague interest in … Read more Stewart Lee on “Not Writing”
Separated at birth? You tell me… So, what do HM the Queen and Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards have in common? The obvious answer is money. They are both stinking rich, though one more than the other. I’ll let you work out which is which. As you’ll have gleaned from reading my About Me page, … Read more Separated at birth?
It’s hard not to find mentions of Glastonbury on the BBC. Most mornings I rise to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. This morning, sixty-nine-year-old rightwing journalist John Humphrys was at Glastonbury. But why should I be surprised? Every year the BBC turns itself into a massive PR machine for this commercial enterprise. At … Read more Glastonbury on the BBC
I was browsing the BBC News website this morning when I came across a piece about avoidable early death rates. In the UK a premature death is now regarded as one under the age of 75, which is nice to know. Unless you happen to be 74, I suppose. Apparently, a child born in England … Read more Shocking Early Death Rates In England
Here’s a conspiracy theory for all you New World Order conspiracy nuts. Type the word “Bilderberg” into Google search and see what you get. Although the Bilderberg Group is one of the world’s most reviled organisations, when I did the search, all the results on page one were supportive, informative. Or, at the most, mildly … Read more Bilderberg, Blair and the New World Order?
If you heard a barely discernible phut at around 1 am on Wednesday 22nd May 2013, it was very possibly the sound of an era ending. The death of Mick McManus, baddest bad man of British wrestling, closed a chapter in British history that encompassed Morecambe and Wise, frozen orange juice, and the Boston crab. Mick … Read more Mick McManus vs Dr Death
Obama, Guantanamo, torture. Three words guaranteed to start an argument when used individually. Together, they’re like a 50-megaton nuclear warhead. On January 22, 2009 President Obama vowed to close Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp “within the year”. As of May 2013, “Gitmo” is still operational. 166 men still detained without charge or trial. Most of them have … Read more Obama, Guantanamo, Torture
UKIP, or the United Kingdom Independence Party as they’re known to their friends and carers, has become the hottest political topic in the United Kingdom. Well, probably just in England, but let’s not split hairs. But what does UKIP stand for? Nigel Farage is UKIP’s leader, a likeable, middle-aged, middle-class gent. Often pictured with a … Read more What Does UKIP Stand For?
It now appears that the story behind this exchange is not all it appears and that some of the “witnesses” were in fact not witnesses at all. The article remains here purely as an historical record. You can draw your own conclusions from what is said (or not said). The day after two unarmed women … Read more Police State
With the European Football championships diverting attention from racism at home to racism in eastern Europe, it’s time to look again at racism. It might not be as easy to stop racism as we thought. In January 2012, a little-reported but important Scientific study found distinct links between low intelligence and racial prejudice. The research … Read more Stop Racism With A Brain Pill
Charles Dickens‘ characters fall into two main categories: the memorable and the totally unforgettable. I can think of no other author who has created such vivid fictional characters. In no particular order: The Artful Dodger, Smike, Joe Gargery, Fagin, Scrooge. Wilkins Micawber, Sam Weller, Daniel Quilp, Mr Dick, Bill Sykes. Magwitch, Frederick Dorrit, Mr Merdle, … Read more Charles Dickens Characters
Top conspiracy theories? How a run-of-the-mill conspiracy theory gets the “top” tag is interesting enough in itself. But what makes one conspiracy theory better than all rest? Can it be because it is true? Surely some of them must be, just according to the law of averages? Or maybe because it is totally outrageous. Along … Read more Top Conspiracy Theories
Never has an artist been so loved and so loathed. Picasso has been described as the Marmite of the art world. Picasso’s Light Drawings are perfect examples of what I mean. Translation for readers living outside the United Kingdom: it means you either love him or you hate him. This comes from the leading brand … Read more Picasso’s Light Drawings
Stand by for the hard facts about Charlie Sheen’s Roast: Everybody in the USA seems to be obsessing over Charlie Sheen’s Roast – or, to give it its real title, “The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen”. It’s been the biggest search on Google in the USA since early September. But what on earth is … Read more Charlie Sheen’s Roast (or What’s Going on in New York? Part 87)
So, Prince William and Catherine (Kate) Middleton got hitched at Westminster Abbey. Their Royal Wedding Invite List is now a historic document, though not quite up there with Magna Carta or the Abdication Speech. The names excluded from it reveals more than who made it to the “Wedding of the Decade”. First of all, the … Read more Royal Wedding Invite List: Prince William and Kate’s Glaring Omissions
I’ve just been watching Seasick Steve on a Sunday morning cookery programme on BBC Two television called Something For The Weekend. In it he sang a song, drank a cocktail and grated cheese into a bowl in order to make it look like he was making a key lime pie. The presenters oo-ed and aw-ed … Read more Seasick Steve and Key Lime Pie
Is it me, or has there been a sudden outbreak of incompetence in the world? An epidemic of uselessness, a plague of purposelessness. Has the world ceased to function correctly? Everywhere I look, people seem incapable of, or unwilling to do their jobs. From the tele-clerk who won’t believe you are who you say you … Read more Totally Useless
Cooking perfect rice is a skill that can mark you out from the rest of the herd. Either you can. Or you can’t. There is no middle ground. Rice provides one-fifth of the calories consumed in the world today. Or slightly more if you eat at the Wong Kei restaurant in London’s Soho, where servings … Read more Cooking Perfect Rice – Easily
Unlikely as it may sound, psychiatrists recognise a condition called “John Wayne Syndrome”. The Duke’s ailment has since become synonymous with battle fatigue. But originally it described someone who could not come to terms with their own perceived lack of heroism. When he wasn’t campaigning in favour of guns or against Socialism, Wayne was tormented … Read more John Wayne Syndrome: Big John or Big Jessie?
We have a Polish cleaner. There, I’ve admitted it. For a liberal, woolly-minded Old Labour person like me, that’s a big admission. Or, at least, it used to be. Now it’s perfectly normal to have ‘help around the house’, and to justify my actions I’d just say that if I didn’t employ her, she’d be … Read more East Europeans Cleaning Up
It’s all Richard Herring’s fault. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’ll start at the beginning… One major benefit of owning an iPhone is, instead of listening to other people speaking rubbish to each other via their own handsets, you can inflict podcasts on yourself. I subscribe to 63 at last count, ranging from … Read more My Blog Shame
The title ‘Interesting Facts About Europe’ is misleading, but that’s the problem with facts. One person’s truth is another’s lie. As it’s not in my nature to disappoint anyone, I kick off with 5 very Interesting Facts About Europe: 1. The World’s 14 Most Charitable Countries are in Europe. (Official Development Assistance by country as … Read more Interesting Facts About Europe (Can You Trust The Truth?)
Talking about complaining, can I just say that Profile Books has just published a book called Complaint by Julian Baggini. It is claimed that this 224-page paperback is the first to be devoted to the subject. All I can say is: It’s about bloody time! Call yourself a publishing industry, making us wait 568 years … Read more Complaint: From Minor Moans to Principled Protests
Let’s not worry about the true cost of the credit crunch. I’m sure it’ll all come right in the end. Actually, you’ve got to feel sorry for the banks and credit card companies. They sustained us through the good times, barely taking enough profit to carpet their meagre offices and keep their executives and shareholders … Read more Total Cost of the Credit Crunch