Blog 108

Hiya, sorry not to have blogged here for a long time.  I only seem to want to write about the political situation these days and when I do that here the pieces always seem to land with a bit of a thud.  So anyway I’ve got a column on the Left wing news site The Canary now so follow me there.  I was so outraged by right wing attempts to close them down that I wanted to help and I also think there’s a receptive audience for me there.

More news!  Sandwich Bar series 3 starts next week on R4.  I was a bit worried that if the election was in October they’d pull it because of the political content but that threat seems to have receded, phew!   I think this series is the best yet and I’m very proud of it.


Blog 108a

I HEART 1897.

Following on from the late night TV Tom Cruise time loop of me constantly seeing the last two thirds of “Edge of Tomorrow”. Here’s another one.   BBC2 intermittently shows a programme in a series entitled “I Love…” then a year like 1984 or 1992.  The show consists of video clips from each featured year, such as early TV appearances by a heart-breakingly young Take That or news features concerning the launch of the Sony Playstation or the Poll Tax riots, these clips are then commented upon by celebrities, DJs, comedians, actors, singers.  However the show itself  “I Love Insert Date Here…” was, going by the date on the titles at the end, itself made in 2001 so is a historic document in and of itself.  This means you get a hit of nostalgia from watching the clips then you get another shock from whoever is presenting the show, such as “I Love 1987” hosted by Richard E Grant dressed as “Withnail” then another shock from the commenting celebrities because a lot of them are people who back in 2001 bestrode the showbusiness world like colossi but now you’ve completely forgotten about them.  Where now are  Anabel Giles (fashion expert) Anthony Worall Thompson (chef) or Sankha Guha and Kathryn Flett (journalists)?   Where now is Glasgow based ex-Tube presenter Muriel Gray? (well I know where she is, in my spare bedroom because she’s staying with us while on a mini-break in London).  A good few of them are dead, like comedian Linda Smith or poor Michael Elphick and the sarcastic and supercilious opinions the 2001 celebrities express about things that happened in 1987 or 1994 now seem universally banal, dull and obvious.  Then the thought occurred to me as I was writing this “Hang on I think I might be in one of these.”


Blog 108b

A further thought on those TV clip shows such as “I Love 1992” etc.  And I think this is a brilliant idea.  I am going to pitch to the executives at the BBC a TV clip show entitled,“I Love, ‘I Love 1992’”.  In “I Love, ‘I Love 1992’”, those celebrities who were commenting on the clips from 1992 in the show “I Love 1992” made back in 2001 will be invited to return so Stuart Macconie will now in 2019 comment both on his 2001 self and the remarks he made about stuff that happened in1992, Muriel Gray will say whether she still stands by the comments she made about the Filofax in 2001 or if she has changed her mind and so on.   I think it will be poignant, startling, very meta and very cheap to make.  Expect “I Love, ‘I Love 1992’” to be on your screens next year.


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.