Friday, 26 October 2007

Peter Oborne Interviewed

Here’s an interesting interview with Peter Oborne, talking about his latest book – The Triumph of the Political Class – on which I had the privilege of working.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

For All That Follows, Office Space Is Hilarious

I’ve written in the past about the fact that I rather like James Blunt’s first album. It says something quite profound that in many ways it’s been my most controversial post to date.

I don’t doubt that many people have a visceral dislike of certain musicians, or that they can completely fail to connect to a whole genre. Indeed I feel much the same about rap and hip hop as others feel about country (which I love) – it’s pretty much uniformly awful.

But I do think that people sometimes jump on a bandwagon, and convince themselves that something is irredeemably naff without proper analysis. A strong piece of evidence for this is the fact that occasionally an artist is magically rehabilitated in the public eye. Think Leo Sayer, think ABBA.

Well, I would like to make one of the hardest sells of all. The American answer to James Blunt is a man considered massively naff on both sides of the Atlantic. His work is widely derided as the stinkiest cheese. No-one seems to think him loveable and kitsch. His fans have to run the gauntlet of scorn.

But the irony is that Michael Bolton has a superb voice. And this song describes heartbreak – total, utter, hopeless heartbreak – as well as any I have ever heard.

He’s not an oaf, like many of the artists that we celebrate. He can actually sing, unlike some major league British pop stars who gurgle in that absurd mid-Atlantic twang which is the exclusive property of dickheads (and one guy I was at college with who was actually very nice and who had lived in different countries, thus uniquely justifying the voice). And he has the courage to sing songs that speak of real pain.

If you have to look past the hair, do so. Better still, embrace the hair – it’s great. Close your mind to what others have to say, and allow yourself just a moment where you put your cynicism to one side. You may feel a little differently about what good music is all about.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Ming

Please bear the following in mind when you hear Liberal (sic) Democrats (sic) yakking away in the next few days.

At the time of his election as leader of their party, the Lib Dems weren’t saying that Sir Menzies Campbell would lead them into the next General Election and then stand down. Had things gone well, and the polls been favourable, he’d still be in the job. This isn’t an inevitable result of Gordon Brown delaying the General Election.

Before Sir Menzies was a candidate - when Charles Kennedy was riding high - I always feared Ming as a leader. I thought his age was an advantage, and that he exuded the best qualities of a patrician Tory, and few if any of the worst. It just goes to remind us that you can never know how things will pan out.

Upcoming Gigs

I have quite a few gigs coming up.

Tonight I am opening for Reginald D. Hunter at the Free Beer Show. That takes place at the Cellar in Oxford. Get there for about 9:00pm.

Tomorrow I am compering at the Ministry of Mirth. This is at the Wheatsheaf in Oxford. The show starts at 9:00pm.

Thursday sees me travel down to London, to perform at Cedar Comedy. This is at the Cedar Room, 265 Upper Street, at 8:15pm. The nearest Tube is Highbury and Islington. The venue is a two minute walk to the right out of the station.

Then I am performing at a private party on Saturday, so it’s all happening!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Well Done Gareth

Assuming that this story has been accurately reported, I would like to applaud Gareth Southgate.

I am utterly fed up of aggressive charity fundraising, and it’s good to see someone who represents so many wealthy people having the courage to take a stand.

I will never forget being accosted by a bunch of (male) medical students at a Tube station. We were ascending parallel escalators, and one of them asked me if I’d like to put some money in their bucket (they were collecting for a ward on their hospital). This had been going on at the station for several days, and the students’ behaviour was getting increasingly oppressive. I declined.

We got to the top, and another one asked me the same thing. I said ‘No, I want to not be molested’. They found this screamingly funny, and unfortunately were out of punching range. Actually I wouldn’t have punched them, but I would have been seriously tempted to grab the bucket and hurl its contents across the station concourse.

I got out of the station and was waiting – contorted with rage - at the traffic lights when a girl came up to me with another one of the buckets and asked me if I’d like to make a donation. I’m afraid I absolutely bellowed at her ‘NO, I WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE!’

I have never felt particularly guilty about this.

Medical people certainly do a good job, and yes, nurses should probably be paid more than they are. But that does not give their representatives the right to harangue people. The fact is that for all their multitudinous faults, Premiership footballers create enormous amounts of money that would not otherwise exist, much of which finds its way into the NHS.

It seems to be the view of a great many people – especially those in charity or left wing politics – that if their cause is just and the ends are not purely self-serving, then anything goes in terms of the means. It is time for brave people to stand up and say ‘No’.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

See Me Now

Check out the updated site for The World is Watching. If you click on ‘Performer Profiles’, and then scroll down to find Tom Greeves, you can watch some clips of me on stage. (You can go straight there from here, but do look at the rest of the site.) Just click on the links under ‘Videos of Tom Greeves’, down the left hand side of the page.

Life Is Good

Last night everything went right.
We have started the Ministry of Mirth again for the new term, and we are now at the Wheatsheaf in Oxford on TUESDAYS at 9pm. Sorry, I should have told you here in advance.
I seem unable to overcome an infuriating problem of getting an upset stomach before almost every gig, but I often do my best when I've been feeling unwell and mentally flat. It's a comfort (and a warning!) to know that how one feels beforehand is not a reliable indicator of how one will do.
The Edinburgh Effect is really starting to show now. I'm a lot more comfortable on stage, and happier to let there be pauses in the laughter, and indeed less bothered if the audience doesn't go for it. Yesterday's gig was pretty much perfect. I used my material well - and in a way that didn't bore me - and I had great fun with a Fresher whom I hope had fun too! The laughter was sustained, frequent and loud, to an extent I've never quite experienced before. Someone even called out 'You're hot!' during the set.
When it doesn't go so well I'm still glad I've done it. When it does go well, it's an awesome feeling.
I had another fascinating talk to a current Trinitarian called James Synder last night. He's a very bright chap who shares my interest in American politics. It was a reminder that I need to start following what is the most interesting Presidential race in years a little more closely.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Tonight You're Going To Go Down In Flames

You can say what you want about Cher (unless it’s slanderous), but my God, she can sing.

Moreover, congratulations to James, Sarah and Molly Rebecca. Welcome to the world Molly!
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