Friday, 30 June 2006

Comic Rival

I just had an extraordinary encounter with a boy.

Strolling around the park near my flat, I was overtaken by wave upon wave of children on bicycles. This happened again on the pavement on the way back. Now I suppose I would MILDLY prefer these creatures to break the Highway Code than to crash into a lorry, but only mildly. I find cyclists of all descriptions intensely annoying (although ironically competitive ones are among the athletes I most admire). But the most annoying are those you have to dodge when taking a walk.

As I entered the final straight to the flat, I observed some banter between a bunch of ten year olds. To my astonishment, one of them told me “We go to school”. This was hardly revelatory given their age and their uniform clothing, so all I could say was “What?” He said again “We go to school,” and I responded “Good”. This raised a laugh (always a pleasure), and the child added: “And we’re very eduvacated”.

All in all, the young fellow had something of the comic about him. A pleasing moment in time.

You may have noticed that I do not have a comments section on my blog. I can confirm that this is exceedingly unlikely ever to change. I am fed up to my back teeth of snide and ill-informed comments on other blogs. I also deprecate anything other than constructive criticism of my own. In fact I’m not really interested in criticism of my blog of any sort, though doubtless some would be merited. Read it if you like, enjoy what you can, and disregard what you don’t. It’s the same approach we should take to art and music, and even – to a lesser extent for obvious reasons – politics.

Better Off Out

Philip Hollobone MP has an excellent post on Conservative Home today, in which he argues for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

I’m delighted that a number of Conservative backbenchers have the courage to make this case publicly. It’s been a long time coming.

Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Ann Widdecombe

Why wouldn't an English gentleman link to Ann's website? Why wouldn't he include it in his links?

Ann is a splendid woman. Intelligent, courageous and courteous, she was one of my favourites when I worked in the Conservative Research Department.

http://www.annwiddecombemp.com/

Tuesday, 27 June 2006

A Poem

Colin the bird

I say, have you heard of Colin the bird?
I have not heard of Colin the bird.
You must have heard of Colin the bird.
I do not know the aforementioned bird.

I’ll tell you a tale of Colin the bird.
Is this tale one that I’ve already heard?
No - you’ve not heard of Colin the bird.
Good point, I’ll shut up while you talk of the bird.

Colin the bird came to sit on our sill.
He sat down and stayed there for hours until
A kindly man arrived with a ladder
Climbed up and said Colin, ‘what is the matter?’

Colin can’t talk, of course, being a bird.
Parrots can talk, I think, so I’ve heard.
OK yes, be quiet, that’s hardly germane
To what we all saw through our window pane.

Colin had sat there in terror while we
Sat transfixed for ages, forgoing a pee.
All except one hoped for the best
For Colin the bird, who was far from a pest.

But given the chance to be rescued at last
By a man who is paid to clean shit off our glass
Colin thought he’d fly off all the same.
Perhaps he’s engaged in some devious game.

Perhaps he’s a spy, here to spy on us all
Perhaps he has placed a bug in the wall.
Maybe he’s paid at extortionate cost
By the French, who’re still pissed off that they lost.

I loved your tale of Colin the bird.
It must be the best story I’ve ever heard.
I shall be sure to tell our man Jacques Rogge
When he next shows his face, here at LOCOG.

Friday, 23 June 2006

I'm Not in Love, But I Love This Song

Friday I’m in Love

The Cure

I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday, I'm in love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Thursday doesn't even start
It's Friday I'm in love

Saturday, wait
And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday, never hesitate

...I don't care if Mondays black
Tuesday, Wednesday - heart attack
Thursday, never looking back
It's Friday, I'm in love

Monday, you can hold your head
Tuesday, Wednesday stay in bed
Or Thursday - watch the walls instead
It's Friday, I'm in love

Saturday, wait
And Sunday always comes too late
But Friday, never hesitate...

Dressed up to the eyes
It's a wonderful surprise
To see your shoes and your spirits rise
Throwing out your frown
And just smiling at the sound
And as sleek as a shriek
Spinning round and round

Always take a big bite
It's such a gorgeous sight
To see you eat in the middle of the night
You can never get enough
Enough of this stuff
It's Friday, I'm in love

I don't care if Monday's blue
Tuesday's grey and Wednesday too
Thursday I don't care about you
It's Friday, I'm in love

Monday you can fall apart
Tuesday, Wednesday break my heart
Thursday doesn't even start
It's Friday I'm in love

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Shout Out To The Sisters

Ladies, herewith what Richard Marcinko would call a 'no shitter' - a piece of utterly frank advice.

If you are living with a man, and he has dismissed the notion of marriage on the grounds that 'We don't need a piece of paper', in almost every case he has one eye on the unspoken possibility of 'someone better' coming along.

You can kid yourself that he has religious / philosophical objections to a permanent union. But that's the real reason.

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

Competition

I am entering a stand up competition on Monday 26th June.

It is called 'So You Think You're Funny?' and has been won by some big names including Dylan Moran, Peter Kay, Lee Mack and Rhona Cameron.

My heat is being staged at the Monday Club (yes, really!) on the Tattershall Castle, which is a boat on the Thames just by Embankment tube station.

I'm told, and believe, that audience response has no impact on the judge. However, friendly faces would be very welcome, and bookings can be made on 07932 658895. I'll be getting there for 7.30pm, and the show starts at 8.30.

I should warn friends that most of my material will probably be familiar. But hopefully it'll still be worth it!

Monday, 19 June 2006

(I Just) Died In Your Arms

For music to accompany work or exercise, you simply cannot beat The Very Best of Power Ballads.

Friday, 16 June 2006

My Talent Deserves The Widest Audience

I just called Susie in the office to ask her something, and began by singing the opening bars of 'You've Got A Friend'. (That would be the James Taylor version, rather than Carole King, estimable though Carole is.)

I was on speaker phone, and the whole office heard, and then cheered.

Never Mind Rights, Just Do What’s Right

This article is depressing and irritating.

My hatred for identity politics and the popular obsession with ‘equality’ is visceral and total. Of course Scope should be focussing on providing useful services for people with cerebral palsy, and not concerning themselves primarily with poncing about on the political stage. Anyone decent accepts that each of us is infinitely precious. People who dissent from that proposition are hardly going to be moved by a poster campaign.

Here we see in crystalline form how depraved the political process has become. It is perceived to be more important to subscribe to a set of politically correct principles than to roll up one’s sleeves and actually engage with real people. The Live 8 concert fell into that category too. They would have done infinitely more good if they HAD raised money – to pay for a series of infrastructure improvements in deprived countries. But instead they wanted to preach economically illiterate sermons, and advocate (lack of) trade policies that would ensure that Africa and largely-ignored-by-Live-8 parts of Asia remained poverty stricken for good.

I have an interest to declare here. Last year I was able to raise £500 for Scope thanks to the generosity of friends who sponsored me for a bench press competition. It involved almost no effort on my part, and let me be clear – I’m pretty damn selfish and charity is only ever something I fit in around my commitments to myself.

However, I don’t take the piss with a £150,000 salary in order to bugger up a once proud organisation. I’m not going to call on people to boycott Scope – I have little doubt that many members and supporters are furious with management and continue to do good work – but I wanted to take this opportunity to voice my displeasure.

Headlining Yes, Flatlining Hopefully Not

I shall be headlining (first time I’ve done that) at the Ministry of Mirth on Sunday. Adam has stepped in to organise the night, which begins at 8pm at the Wheatsheaf, on the High Street in Oxford.

I’m going to try to let my personality shine through a bit more at gigs. Where it’s been a bit flat, such at the Capital Radio set, I’ve delivered the material competently, but not let my Tom Greevesness sparkle. I think that, coupled with not holding back or being too reliant on a script, is key.

I Find Peter Franklin Very Taxing

Peter Franklin has a good post up on his blog. Money quote, as Andrew Sullivan would say:

“Morally, taxation should not be seen as a punishment. Rather it should be seen as a commission on wealth-creating activities that are underpinned and made possible by the institutions of society and the state. It is also good for democracy to give government a stake in the freedom and prosperity of the people.”

Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons why I am against the concept of a Tax Freedom Day, i.e. a Bank Holiday that falls on the day of the year when the average punter stops paying tax. We should reduce the tax burden. But we should not bemoan paying tax on those things that warrant it. Celebrating not having to pay tax gives out the wrong message.

Thursday, 15 June 2006

Time To Act

There has been a lot of media coverage surrounding this case recently. Much of it is likely to have been puerile; some of it may have been irresponsible. The finer points of the legal details may have been overlooked. Some profoundly unpleasant people may have read the articles with glee, deluding themselves that this man’s crime somehow absolves them of their own failings. That is all largely irrelevant in comparison to the main point – it is outrageous and absurd that someone convicted of a crime of this nature should expect to leave prison at all.

Many intelligent people - and by no means all of them are of a politically insane persuasion – often question why so many of us reserve a particular revulsion for this particular crime, and these particular criminals. They argue that those who murder do something worse, and that those who defraud hurt many more people. Singling out these people for special condemnation is clumsy and immature in these commentators’ eyes, and may betray a disordered attitude to sex. These crimes may actually be comparatively trivial, they argue. Or else they can be explained away and readily forgiven. It is time to slay this dragon.

One cannot legislate for what others find revolting. And there is something very unattractive about mocking working class people for having the temerity to fear for the safety of their children. A visceral revulsion for this crime is wholly appropriate. The crime distorts that which should be wholesome and healthy – love and sex – and forces children to experience things that no-one should have to experience at a time not of their choosing. I may be deprecated for saying that I would rather take supper with a murderer or an embezzler or anyone else ahead of someone who has violated that rule, but I would.

Nor is it wholly irrational. There is something else that distinguishes this sort of person from others. That is the likelihood of rehabilitation. It is perfectly possible for a murderer to purge themselves of those demons that drove them to that act, and for the embezzler to resolve to lead an honest life. They cannot wipe out their past transgressions. But they can cease to be a murderer or a fraudster. I do not believe that the equivalent can be said of those who commit the crime we are discussing.

Of course if someone has such inclinations and does not act on them then they are morally superior to someone who does act. But if such inclinations are uncovered, we should not presume that we can give someone the benefit of the doubt. And make no mistake – every prisoner released from incarceration is given the benefit of the doubt. There are never any guarantees that someone will not reoffend.

What could we expect from efforts to rehabilitate the people under discussion? One of three things:

1. They are completely cured, and rejoin society as a charming, urbane heterosexual / homosexual. They form normal and healthy relationships, and can be given our complete trust.

2. They maintain their fundamental sexual persuasion, but have the discipline not to act upon it.

3. They reoffend.

Of these possibilities, 1 is sheer fantasy, 2 is too big a risk, and 3 is intolerable (and yet currently commonplace).

I don’t believe that anyone in prison should be treated in an inhumane manner, I dislike mob mentality, and I believe that everyone should be given an opportunity to make themselves a better person. But I also believe, passionately, that some people should be locked up until they die. It is perfectly proportionate and sensible to say that everyone who has or would hurt a child in this way should face such a sentence. It is the law that is an ass.

We can debate what motivates people, what other crimes we abhor, and all other peripheral issues at our greater leisure. We need to seize the nettle on sentencing now. It is high time that there was a cross party consensus on this issue, and a united determination to legislate. Where European or international law prevents us from acting, we should ignore it.

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Ben Rowe

It turns out that my old school friend Ben Rowe is majorly talented.

I always knew it, but I had no idea that one of his talents is drawing. Have a look at www.benrowe.co.uk.

Monday, 12 June 2006

Getting Closer

It is now possible to hear one of my routines on the InterWebulator.

I did this at Capital Radio several months ago when I was very inexperienced. It doesn’t sound great to me, but it would not be courageous to keep it from you.

Please note that it appears that voting for or against me has closed. It's the same number for all of us, so I guess we each had a short window.

I’m doing a gig this weekend which we’re going to film, and we’ll put that up on the Web too.

Friday, 9 June 2006

A Prediction

As we enter the last half hour before kick off in the first game of the tournament, let me go on record with a prediction. A prediction is all it is, all it could be, as you just never know with sport, which is one of its many charms. But here we go:

England will win the World Cup.

We have strength throughout the side. Good keeper, good defence, good midfield and good strikers, and by 'good' I mean world class.

Yeah!

Monday, 5 June 2006

Roll Up For Kebabilarity

There are still some tickets left for the comedy night on Wednesday at which I am performing.

It's at the Cyprus Grill. Kick off is 8pm. Acts include the very funny Richard Brophy, and professional comedian Matt Dyktynski. (I'm not omitting to say that Matt is funny because he is s-t, I am omitting to say it because I've never seen him. My hunch is he'll be great!)

The Grill is at 193 Fulham Palace Road, SW6. The closest Tube is Hammersmith, and it's about 7-8 minutes on foot.

Bookings and information are available on 07768 137910.

I haven't played London for a while, so I'm looking forward to this. And it's always nice to see friendly and familiar faces.

Friday, 2 June 2006

I Ain’t Bovvered

In no particular order, herewith ten things that I am not interested in:


1. Jazz.

2. Cricket.

3. The history of the trade union movement.

4. Motorcars.

5. Buddhism.

6. The views of the wider membership of the Conservative Party.

7. Carbon emissions.

8. Brewing.

9. Psephology.

10. Gardening.
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