Blog 107

I find myself trapped in a time loop.   See there is a movie made in 2014 called “The Edge of Tomorrow” starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt set in the future when most of Europe has been invaded by aliens. Major William Cage (Cruise), is forced by his superiors to join a landing operation against the aliens. Though Cage is killed in combat, he finds himself in a time loop that sends him back to the day preceding the battle every time he dies.  I am trapped in a similar time loop in that I keep watching “The Edge of Tomorrow” over and over again.   Late at night on the 5 Star Channel.  I  never see whole the movie but keep coming in at the bit where Tom Cruise jolts awake for the first time so I still don’t know what he’s done to get falsely accused of being a deserter or why he’s been forced to fight the aliens even though he has no combat experience.  My confusion is further compounded because sometimes I think I am watching “The Edge of Tomorrow”  when in fact I am watching the very similar 2013 Tom Cruise movie “Oblivion” which is also set in the future and is also often shown late at night on the 5 Star Channel where the Emily Blunt hard-ass sidekick role is taken by Olga Kurylenko.   The reason I am trapped in this time loop is because I can’t watch the news anymore particularly Newsnight.  I go to bed at around 10.30 and I used to enjoy watching Newsnight on BBC2 on the telly in the bedroom but now since the rise of Corbyn and the total takeover by presenters who are right-wing establishment media cartel members (in one of those newspaper publicity questionaires in response to the question “who do you call for a good night out?” Emily Maitliss replied “Pier Morgan”!). I find now I can’t stand the lies, distortions and misrepresentations and the 10 to 1 ratio of extreme right-wing to mildly left-wing pundits so I shout “bollocks to this you biased establishment scum” every night and flip around the channels till I come to  “The Edge of Tomorrow” on the 5 Star Channel.  It’s not a bad movie.

Dates for Sandwich Bar season 3 recordings are June 22, 25, 29.


Blog 106

I woke up this morning in the middle of an argument with Tom Watson the treacherous deputy leader of the Labour Party (wonderfully dubbed “Fatburger Slim” by Steve Bell in The Guardian).  The argument must have begun in sleep and continued after waking.  Another Left-Wing friend of mine comes to every morning thinking of Joan Ryan the hatchet-faced, expenses over-claiming, anti-semitism smear-inventing, ex Labour MP and chair of Labour Friends of Israel.   Not a pleasant experience.
The reason for all this agitation is of course the false accusations of anti-semitism crisis in the Labour Party.   There was a particularly dispicable article by John Harris in the Guardian the other day that was extraordinarily biased, lazy and untrue.  I had not paid much attention to Harris over the years, just assuming he was vaguely OK because he travelled up and down the country wearing a Beatle wig and talking to “ordinary” people outside London.  But then during the general election campaign I noticed that he was one of those claiming Labour would be “wiped out” and then when that didn’t happen, while some other Guardian columnists wrote semi-heartfelt mea culpas saying how they had been totally wide of the mark, he wrote an extraordinary piece stating how though he’d been completly wrong he’d been absolutely right all the time.  This made me suspect there was massive ego there that couldn’t admit any fault in itself.  Since then Harris has been an enthusiastic propagator of the Labour Institutional Anti-semitism lie.  Culminating in this article full of anonymous quotes from “a Jewish woman”’ over what she sees as an increasingly “abusive relationship” with the Labour party.   Like in most of this moral panic no evidence is offered.
Then toward the end of the article I noticed something I’ve been aware of for a little while, a new direction the Labour Institutional Anti-semitism smearers have been heading in.   Their wish is not just to do in Corbyn but to make it impossible and racist to say there’s an elite controlling the affairs of the world even though there obviously is.  I’d say the 1% who own most of the planet’s assets pretty much fulfil the standard definition of an elite.  But like that “moderate” Labour MP Siobhain McDonough claimed in an interview with John Humphrys on Radio 4:
“McDonough: It’s very much part of their politics, of hard left politics, to be against capitalists and to see Jewish people as the financiers of capital. Ergo you are anti-Jewish people.
Humphrys: In other words, to be anti-capitalist you have to be antisemitic?

McDonough: Yes.

In the same vein Harris says:  “The Labour party now tends to present the very real failings of modern capitalism not as a matter of anything systemic, but the work of a small group of people who are ruining things for the rest: what Corbyn calls a ‘self-serving elite’, who ‘monopolise the wealth that should be shared by each and every one of us’.”
This is where vanity and arrogance gets you:  to a place where it's impossible to even criticise oligarchs.
I would have posted this yesterday but I had an article in the Guardian myself so I thought it might seem a bit rude.

Check out Jonathan Cook's terrific blog on this same subject


Blog 106a

Here’s a poem by a man called Humbert Wolfe, it is not much quoted these days but I find myself thinking of it a lot.  Especially this week when I see the concerted effort in the media to try and big-up the awful, right-wing, fake-folksy and unintelligent Labour MP Jess Phillips.

You cannot hope to bribe or twist
(thank God!) the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
unbribed, there's no occasion to.


Blog 105

You’re right I should blog more.  So firstly glad you’re all enjoying “Absence Of Normal”. The other stories will be-a new-ish one called Banner Bright, The Minister for Death and Last Woman Killed In the War.

And to answer a few of your questions.  I think the story David wrote after he’d drunk the Mescal was the bit about the guy or is it a couple? avoiding New Years by disguising themselves as a frozen Lasagna and hiding in the freezer cabinet of a supermarket.  I always loved that story but its perhaps too mad to do anything else with it.

Russel I’m a bit ashamed at you spotting the bits I’ve used both in my fiction and in the Memoir. But then not enough has happened to me so  I have to use the same stories a number of times.  The tin of pate down the wall at the garage in La Junquera keeps cropping up all over the place.  Or maybe we could see these stories as repeated themes whose meaning mutates over time like the constant evocation and evolution of geometric shapes in the landscape in the later paintings of Paul Nash.

Rod, which Live at the Comedy Club tape do you mean?

And in other news, I was interviewed the other day by a bloke writing a biography of Jacob Rees Mogg. Again its in the memoir but I was taught at Chelsea by his aunt Ann R-M and as I’ve said elsewhere I think I may have dandled the young Jacob on my knee.  For some reason this makes me think of the novel “Rogue Male” about the guy who fails to shoot Hitler.   I recalled as I was talking to him that Ann came to stay at our house in Liverpool and got on very well with Molly. I also took Molly for lunch at Ann’s house in Wandsworth.  There was a strong family resemblance in all the Rees Moggs so its odd to think of a female Jacob chatting to my mother.


Blog 104

Hi Russell.  Sorry I’ve been away for too long.  Yes much coming up in the New Year.   On Febuary and March Radio 4 will be broadcasting some of my short stories in the 11.30 a.m.slot.  The series is called “The Absence  Of Normal” and it is a dramatisation rather than a reading and there are already some big name actors on board so I’ll keep you all updated about that.  Series 3 of “Sandwich Bar” is also planned for next year scheduled to be transmitted in October and November and I guess we’ll be recording in the summer.  Again I’ll keep you posted.  As to standup I don’t have any plans right now except that I will be doing both the Southport and Chester comedy festivals in 2019 but two gigs really isn’t enough is it? I really do feel I should be doing more standup especially as the few I have done in the past years have all gone really well its just hard to find the right venues.  I performed at a couple of benefits this year and they all went well but I felt like they weren’t quite right for me to work out new material so need to find something better.   Adam Buxton just emailed to ask if I’ll be on his podcast so I guess that’ll be happening in the new year too.


BLOG 104 A
Ten years blimey!  Just a few quick updates then.  Work is going very well on the Radio 4 dramatisations of my short stories.  Like I said the series will be called “The Absence of Normal” and goes out now in the 11 a.m. slot starting in late Febuary.  Many, many big star names are involved.   I’ve also begun writing series 3 of “Imaginary Sandwich Bar” and that will record in the Summer so if you want tickets for the recordings keep a lookout.
I’m probably going to be doing some publicity for the “Absence of Normal” but chances are I won’t be on Desert Island Discs.  Over the years when I’ve had a TV series or a book out the publicist has always said to me “Have you been on Desert Isalnd Discs?” and I always reply “No”.  “Well” they say confidently “I’ll fix that”. “Good luck.” Is my retort.  A few days later I see the publicist and I ask them “so am I going to be on Desert Island Discs then?” and they look at me white-faced and shaking and say “ that’s not going to happen”. Now this has been going on for three decades and there have been numerous changes of management at the BBC and at Desert Island Discs itself but I still can’t get on.    I think there must be some kind of big black book in a secret vault at the BBC saying who can never be allowed on “Desert Island Discs” and I’m in it but the thing is I don’t know what I did to get on the blacklist.  Did I blacken the name of the sacred Roy Plombley, did I go on a date with Michael Parkinson then never call him the next day?  I don’t know but if I ever do get on the show my first disc is going to be “Fuk Da Police” by NWA.


Yes that's right.  I was on Steve Wright today and I'm doing Loose Ends tomorrow and Shaun Keaveny on R6 March 7th.  Publicity blitz! And yes Absence of Normal starts 25 Feb.  11.30. I'll also be doing some Sandwich Bar tryouts at the Museum of Comedy for five nights from March 19th.


Blog 103

There was this couple me and Linda really admired called Roberta and Marcus.  We thought they were fantastic, both were very talented with successful careers, their house was decorated in superb taste and their kids were smashing.  It was a tremendous pleasure to go round to Roberta and Marcus’ for dinner rather than the appalling grind most of our social life consisted of.  On average me and Linda dined at their house once every two months and we always really looked forward to these visits.  On one particular occasion Roberta and Marcus started talking about “Takeaway Saturday.”  It came up because Saturday was the one evening when we were never invited round there.  “Oh no,” explained Marcus, “Saturday is always ‘Takeaway Saturday’ for us.  It started when the kids were young, isn’t that right Rob?”
“That’s right”  his wife replied. “Every Saturday I’d never cook, we’d just order a huge takeaway and have a big messy family meal round the kitchen table.  We still do it to this day, especially if all the girls are home from university or Jason is on leave from Iraq.”
Me and Linda were very taken with this idea, partly because we didn’t need much encouragement to eat a lot of fatty foods but also out of admiration for Roberta and Marcus.  The next weekend we too instituted our own “Takeaway Saturday.” Over the following weeks my wife and I religiously ordered and ate a number of enormous meals delivered from a variety of fast food outlets by men on scooters, some of which were of remarkably poor quality.  We’d forgotten to find out from our friends if on “Takeaway Saturday.” they procured from one favoured place or chose from a number of different options.   We decided that if we knew Roberta and Marcus it would probably be various places, so over the next few months, me and Linda had delivered to our house examples of the cuisines of China, India, Vietnam, Jamaica, Hawaii, Manchuria, old fashioned Eel and Pie shop and Azerbeijan.
It well over two months before we ate at Roberta and Marcus’ again and on that occasion we never got round to mentioning that we too had adopted “Takeaway Saturday.” In fact it was a good half a year before I happened to refer to our adoption of their sacred family ritual at which point Marcus said “Takeaway Saturday what are you on about?”
“You and the kids order a takeaway every Saturday evening without fail don’t you?” I stammered  “...It’s like a big thing in your house.”
Marcus turned to his wife,  “We never had a thing called ‘Takeaway Saturday’ did we Rob?”
“No,” she said, “ I think maybe occasionally on a weekday or something we’d have a meal delivered from that Mexican place up the road but that was back when the kids were tiny.  We’d never do anything like that now. What kind of a dick would have a special day when they ordered a takeaway?”
Linda and I acted all casual on hearing this news but I blame myself, what kind of a dick would have a special day when they ordered a takeaway?


Blog 103a

Wilf's got an article in the Guardian today about Zimbabwe.


Blog 103b

Thank you Anthony for asking about the Juliet Bravo sketch from Stuff which I think is one of the best bits from that underappreciated show.  I would also point out that I’m nether in it nor did I write it but my spirit hopefully inhabits every frame.  The sketch itself was the idea of David Renwick and Andrew Marshall who tended to do the format bending stuff.  It’s also a reminder of how playful and innovative the BBC could be once upon a time.  For those who don’t know it the show starts with the announcer saying “…over on BBC 2 we have Alexei Sayle’s Stuff while here on BBC 1 there’s another chance to see Juliet Bravo…”. Then for something like four minutes you think it’s a genuine episode of that cop show until it turns into a sketch with Owen Brenman playing a policeman who doesn’t know what a woman is and has them confused with a wigwam. I don’t think David & Andrew’s motivation had anything to do with the political orientation of Juliet Bravo more that the former star of that show Anna Cartaret was up for doing it.  But your remarks about how political popular TV dramas were in the 80s are true.  I sometimes say in my standup that the only opposition to Thatcher during that period was Alternative Comedy and the TV show Casualty.  I can recall Nurse Charlie making these long speeches, staring off into the distance as he does, about how the NHS was being wrecked by the Tories.  In all fairness I don’t watch those shows anymore but I can’t imagine the BBC being so brave in speaking truth to power now.  Just as News has been subveted by filling its senior ranks with actual Tories so Drama and Comedy has somehow too become cautious and dull.  Not that all those socially conscious TV dramas and comedies neccessarilly changed anything since we were basically stuck with both a Conservative government and opposition from the 80s to the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party two years ago and look how the forces of evil are fighting to subvert that.


Blog 103c

The BBC documentary Tate Liverpool at 30 I made for BBC1 in the NW is being repeated nationwide on BBC Four on Sunday 16th Sept, 20.30.  I am pioneering a new form-the comedy arts documentary.


Blog 103d

Hi Simon,  my beard is maintained by Vic Johnson 93 Wimpole Street.