The illusion of activity at the BBC

Last week, the BBC chose to ignore a protest march against Austerity.

You may have heard of it: 50,000 people marched from the BBC’s new HQ to Westminster, the latest in a series of protests against the agenda of cuts and privatisation which are slowly, inexorably destroying the fabric of the British State.

But in spite of it starting at the BBC’s front door, the corporation chose to ignore the protest. That evening’s news bulletins were filled with 30,000 people having a party to celebrate the Summer Solstice; and the important news that a single Scotsman had cheered for England at the World Cup.

But nothing at all about any views which run counter to those of the coalition. There was (apparently) a 25 second mention on BBC Radio 4, and two days later a 30-second clip appeared on the BBC News website. But that’s it.

This is the latest in a long series of – speaking charitably – inexplicable editorial choices that BBC News have made.

In 2013, they had upwards of 15 reporters based in Manchester to report the Conservative Party Conference, yet felt unable to point the camera at the 60,000-strong march happening outside.

The BBC barely mentions a word about the fact that over 70% of NHS contracts are now in private hands, and that even Tory Health Ministers are confessing that they no longer control the NHS. Silence about that. Yet every story that casts the NHS in a negative light is given hour-long Panorama specials and shouty, scary headlines on the 6 O’clock News.

The Green Party, an actual political party with actual policies and actual MPs, gets nary a mention during the EU Elections. Yet UKIP, which has no MPs and no policies, and which actually lost 6% of its vote, is hailed as producing a magnificent victory and given round-the-clock exposure.

Ed Miliband, who is (at the time of writing) 6-8 points ahead in the polls, and has led polling for 4 solid years, is on track to win the next election. Yet the BBC reports that he’s in crisis, and leaves viewers who are unable to discover facts in other ways with the impression Labour has collapsed.

It’s very difficult to avoid thinking that this is a deliberate choice by the BBC.

But I’m no conspiracy theorist: it probably isn’t planned, and the BBC probably isn’t even aware it’s happening. There is no cabal of evil executives making secret midnight visits to each others’ lairs, and planning how to screw over the Northern, left-wing, working-class and ethnic parts of the country. That doesn’t happen.

It doesn’t happen, because it doesn’t need to.

No: the BBC doesn’t need to plan its bias; it emerges organically as a natural side-effect of becoming enmeshed with the Establishment that the media is supposed to be holding to account.

To hold a decision-making position at the BBC, you need to be bright, talented, educated, based in London, and well-connected. And people who fit that bill are highly unlikely to find themselves at the shitty end of austerity policies. They’ll have jobs. They’ll have property. They’ll have pensions. And even if they lose all of those things, they’ll land on their feet pretty damn fast, because they’re part of the largely privately-educated Oxbridge Mafia which helps out “people like them”, and always does just fine, thank you.

So how can the executives at the BBC have any experience or understanding of what is happening to people who aren’t a privately-educated Baron who attended Keble College, Oxford, like the current head of the BBC?

We all know they can’t understand normal lives. I mean that literally: we know it in our bones, but we know it as a fact, because an independent report by the University of Wales in 2013 found that the BBC has been “pushed to the right” and shows a consistent bias.

Of course, BBC News didn’t report that fact. Of course not.

By “pushed to the right”, the report means that the BBC unquestioningly accepts the views of corporations and the Conservative party, and under-represents countervailing opinions of Greens, nursing bodies, doctors, the Police Federation, local government, the Scottish, the Welsh, Labour-supporters, unions, scientists, charities and churches. Yet between them, those sections of society account for almost everybody who isn’t a current member of the Cabinet.

I find BBC bias disturbing because it under-reports my own (widely held) opinions, but even moreso because it represents an existential threat to the BBC. The BBC and NHS are, to my mind, the alpha and omega of British cultural and social life. Those two great institutions are written into the national DNA. The Heath Service is, as we speak, being ideologically dismantled by short-termist, blinkered, money-grubbing incompetents who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Thankfully the NHS is fighting back hard, in the shape of countless protests and the formation of a political party to defend it.

But the BBC is currently in the process of destroying itself. It needs no help from the Tory Party. It’s on a kamikaze mission if it continues to under-represent millions of people who aren’t former members of the Bullingdon Club, and who don’t approve of privatisation, austerity, the upward movement of assets and finance from the poor to the rich, and the dismantling of the state. Left unrepresented and ignored, those people are likely to stop funding a national broadcaster which has become little more than a propaganda tool for the Establishment.

As a result of being infested with figures from an ever-narrower socio-economic group (and to reduce the risk to its funding model) the BBC has given uncritical voice to every piece of Tory spin. But in doing so, it’s ignored the far larger problem on its left-flank: if we stop valuing the BBC, we will stop paying for it. And an inflation-matching licence fee will be wiped out by only a few thousand of us stopping paying.

It’s a real risk.

I made this very point in a letter to the BBC early this week, and wasn’t much surprised that a few hundred people retweeted the text of my complaint. I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Nor was I surprised that, 4 days later, I still haven’t heard a peep from the BBC’s Complaints department.

What did surprise me was when a nice man from BBC Points of View contacted me, and asked to film me for the programme. We chatted on the phone for 10 minutes, and I expressed, in a fairly eloquent way, the points I made above.

Now, I’m not a journalist, and I don’t habitually record my phone calls. So If Nice Mr BBC feels I’m misrepresenting him in the lines which follow, I apologise and invite him to correct me.

Nice Mr BBC told me Points of View were considering making a “half-hour special” programme about bias and the #NoMoreAusterity march, and whilst I was hardly going to be the star (something I’d dread), I would make a valuable contribution. I’m not someone who seeks fame, which is why this blog and my Twitter feed avoid the use of my real name. So I don’t want to appear in front of cameras: but I thought about all the people who felt strongly about the non-reporting of the #NoMoreAusterity march, and who hadn’t been offered a national platform to discuss the issue. I didn’t feel I could refuse to say something on their behalf.

So I said yes: I’d do it. Nice Mr BBC would travel from London to Stockport to meet me, film me for what was described as a “14 minute segment” of the show, and the results would be broadcast on Sunday. But in the meantime, would I mind drafting out a 90-second statement, which would form the backbone of my comments? He wanted to check it for legal issues, but wouldn’t make any editorial changes: he wanted my voice.

I did as I was asked, sent him a script I’d timed to 90 seconds, which expressed the key points made in this blog: a pattern of bias, the Cardiff University report, the march outside the Tory Conference, the silence about the NHS privatisation, etc.

And late last night, when Nice Mr BBC arrived at his hotel in Manchester, he called me back to discuss my notes.

The content was too long, he said. Although the segment was 14 minutes long, the part about the Austerity march would only be around 3 minutes. And we have to give time for a right-of-reply, which means the BBC Exec who produces bias news broadcasting 24 hours a day would have at least 50% of the segment to make his views. Again. And finally, he explained that Points of View is a current affairs show, so I couldn’t mention anything about previous marches, the NHS or the University of Cardiff report. It all had to be about one matter: the #NoToAusterity march.

I protested: the very point of my complaint was being missed, and I was instead being turned into content-fodder for a minor BBC programme. Nice Mr BBC said it was prime-time BBC1, an important platform, and that the Director General of the BBC would be watching; but I doubt it.

And even if that were true, extrapolating my broad point about a record of right-wing bias is going to be vanishingly difficult from a 30-second sound-bite about one incident: it would be like guessing I’m thinking about Finlandia by listening to me hum a single note in E-flat major. I know the boss of the BBC is probably a wily old bloke (always a bloke), but he’s not that wily. Any criticism I could make would vanish into a single-issue that could be lightly brushed off, and nothing at all would change.

But in spite of my reservations, I agreed to filming: it’s better than nothing at all. However, it does concern me that the BBC is simply making the illusion of change. They produce a programme, and a BBC News executive comes on to do his “right of reply” thing, and everyone goes home feeling like they’ve ticked their boxes: but nothing changes.

It’s the same problem I have with Twitter, even though I’m often pretty active on there. If you write a tweet about Cameron, and it gets retweeted a few hundred times, you feel like you’ve done something. But it’s just an illusion. Twitter is like a valve on a pressure-cooker, and each time an angry person shouts into the digital void, the parasitic elite who are sucking the life out of the country (indeed, out of the world) feel slightly safer. Each spleen vented on Twitter corresponds to one fewer person manning the barricades.

And I fear this Points of View will be the BBC creating another illusion of change. It will be an inverted swan, where we can all see the mad paddling, but beneath the surface everything glides along as it always did.

I was in two minds about filming today. Nice Mr BBC was nice, and professional, and guided me through the (rather unnerving) process very smoothly. He was exactly the shade of bland, unhearing blank that my English reserve required, given that my role in proceedings was to tersely criticise his existence. And he’d come a long way, was sweating profusely in the heat, and seemed very much out of his comfort-zone in the People’s Republic of Manchester. So I wish him no harm. I just wish what he was producing wasn’t merely a cover for the Continuity BBC.

For those who agree with my critique of the BBC: I hope I expressed myself well on the programme.

For those who are outraged by the lack of coverage of #NoMoreAusterity: I hope I made the case successfully.

But more than anything, for those who want the BBC to do it’s job, to hold power to account, and to report without bias: I hope the executives can read between my too-short lines, and make the changes that the corporation demands.

Because if they don’t, the BBC will lose its reason to exist. And that would be a sad day.

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Russell Brand

How can you tell the entire system is fucked?

It’s when Russell Brand – the egomaniacal sex-addict, former drug-addict, prankster, reality-TV host, actor and stand up – reveals more political wisdom and moral authority than the government, opposition, House of Lords, royal family, mass media, financial sector, academia, police, bankers and churches combined.

Watch Russell Brand vs Jeremy Paxman

Fetch the butt-plug Mr Cunterblast

WordPress just told me that I missed our anniversary. That means I’m even disappointing software now.

The 15th of January marked a year since I started writing this bullshit, and tradition dictates that I should have gone out and, in a fit of irony that would even trouble the descriptive powers of Alanis Morissette, bought some paper for my blog service.

Remember paper? Crikey, it all seems so long ago.

So in an effort to make WordPress forgive me, tonight I took my blog out for the evening instead. First I took it my ripped-off copy of Wurd to see how many words I’ve typed; and then off to a word-cloud generator to see what it’s been about. I now know that my blog is twice as long as the novel The Life of Pi, and that I’ve spent an unfeasibly long time talking about cancer, sex and Simon Cowell.

(I also know that I’m likely to get arrested by Microsoft for having a ripped off copy of Word, but I spelled it Wurd, which is bound to baffle even the greatest lawyer. And in my defence, practically everyone else on the planet has a ripped off copy of Word too).

As a result of my research into my own blog, I’ve come up with some findings, and have decided to adapt The Naked Mole Rat into a $100 million 3D Bollywood epic, in which I’m stuck in a boat with a CGI version of Simon Cowell and have to decide whether to have kinky sex with him, or give him an aggressive and painful cancer.

It’s a real conundrum.

Actually, it’s not much of a conundrum. Simon’s getting no sweet, sexy lurve from me, which leaves him with the choice of death or death. A nation grieves. But the reason he’s not getting sweet, sexy lurve from me is because at least one of us (OK, let’s face it, it’s exactly one of us) is a raging heterosexual. And because all my romance is being directed to the lady in my life, who repays it by manipulating my head, as can be seen in this graphic depiction of our relationship.

She's so manipulative.
She’s so manipulative.

I rarely speak about my private life in detail, but for once I’m going to spill my beans and tell you that our relationship is about to go to new places. Specifically, Scotland.

I’m very fond of Scotland, and of all the people from there who I’ve met. I can’t say it’s been a representative sample, or that they’ve liked me very much. But I liked them.

It’s unrepresentative because I tend to meet Stots when, in exchange for a stuffed sheep’s stomach and a night in their bothy, I give them with enough money to buy a small island up there (approximately £78). And that kind of transaction always brings out the best in people.

And it’s hard to say if they liked me because it’s often hard to understand a bloody word they’re saying.

But I still like them. I like their attitude. On a drive up in the highlands once, I stopped at one of the tiny all-purpose stores you often find in deeply remote areas. It was a post office, off license, petrol station, butcher, fishing supplies depot, lumber-merchant and record shop. (Not a greengrocer. It is Scotland after all, and if you want to eat greens they’ll contemptibly direct you to a tuft of thistle by the roadside). The shop had the obligatory wall dedicated to tartan and shortbread, and an entirely startling wall dedicated to Native American Dreamcatchers, which seemed unusual until you realise how many Americans visit Scotland, and how gullible they are.

The shop was miles from the nearest plumbing, and the only member of staff was a short, incomprehensible object of indeterminate sex, radioactively ginger, and with webbed fingers and an advanced case of athlete’s head. So I didn’t hold out much hope when I asked to use the bathroom. It was in a lean-to against the side of the shop, and I expected a wet hole in the floor, at best. But in fact it was a fully fitted bathroom and shower, with soaps and shampoos and fresh towels laid out for anybody who needed them, and, wonderfully, a small pile of socks beneath a sign saying “help yourself”.

The climate up there puts pressures on anyone daring enough to be caught outdoors, and a shower and warm, dry socks can turn a walker’s life around. I’m taking the piss out of Scots because I take the piss out of everybody: but the shower, towels and socks were provided with generosity, and I honestly have no expectation of anything less from people in the top half of the British Isles.

I hate to say it but that open, welcoming, selfless approach to life becomes more common the further north from Westminster you get. Actually, I didn’t hate to say it at all: I like it. I like the fact that true human nature emerges if you simply leave people alone to be people, rather than forcing them to be greedy brutes in a greedy, brutal capital city. Whereas in the wilds of Scotland they have a different attitude: if you don’t hang together you’ll probably hang separately. So be nice.

I’ve expressed this opinion to people in the South of England, and been told that I’m a mad socialist fuckwit who is living in the 70s, and that the Scots are all violent thugs and a drain on the poverty-stricken folks of Surrey. And I’ve reported those conversations to people in bars in Scotland, and been told that the Scots don’t actually hate the English: they just hate the southern English.

Not that I’m any more romantic about Scots than I am about my anniversary with WordPress or my forthcoming week up there with my girlfriend. We’re going to be there on Valentine’s Day, but that’s just an embarrassing scheduling error. We’d both forgotten Saint Valentine existed (because he didn’t – even the Pope who canonised him recognised that “nothing is known about his life”).

Anyway, this 14th Feb there will be no violins or flowers, and I’m not just saying that cos she’ll read this blog, and I want to lay a false trail. The best she can hope for is that I won’t tie the ropes too tight, and will clean the ball-gag before it’s applied. And the best I can hope for is that she’ll apply plenty of lube before she does that thing to me with the object that’s slightly bigger than it looked on LoveHoney.

Other than that, it’ll be the usual mixture of visceral abuse about my hairy back, six-hour fights about how the duvet is shared out, and vain attempts to make her murder look like a tragic accident. I’ll be as cheeky as a 6-foot six-year-old can be, and she’ll respond with a torrent of abuse and profanity, and many, many slaps about the head and neck. I just hope I can persuade her to save her filthy mouth and spanking until we get indoors and naked, where her vocabulary is rich, varied, and remarkably inventive. I flatter myself that I have a wide lexicon and a seedy mind, but she still manages to startle me rigid. It’s a rigidity which comes in handy, when it works.

Damn being old!

I’m not old old, not like the mad racist who lives upstairs and must be avoided at all costs. We popped round to ask if he needed anything from the shops during the recent snow, but after 3 hours all we’d learned was that black people are ruining this country. I’m not there yet, and you have my permission to throw me down a well if I do. But I’ve reached the point at which my body starts to disintegrate, and indeed I got a head-start with the cancer that kicked off this blog a year ago. I’m grateful to the doctors, but have decided to never see one again after accidentally catching an episode of House.

Hugh Laurie, House
No wonder he’s grumpy: he’s wrong almost all the time.

This week, a man went to see House with hiccups, and after getting his diagnosis wrong five times the so-called “best diagnostician in America” finally worked out that the man’s marriage was doomed, along with his liver. He did this in much the same way as the people in CSI solve crimes, and the people in Church work out how the universe was created: random guesswork and a lot of mumbo-jumbo. This week’s patient thought he had hiccups, but apparently he had something which, from memory, had 3000 syllibals and ended in “itis”, and which every actor on set looked proud to have memorised.

I don’t know why anyone goes to see House anyway. He diagnoses patients without even seeing them, is wrong 9 times out of 10, and it’s pretty much always cancer. So House’s oncologist mate could solve the problem anyway, if he wasn’t too busy being slightly cross-eyed and wetter than a turbot’s handbag. And when the guest-star disease isn’t cancer, it’s something you’ve never heard of; so it’s a bit like reaching the end of The Usual Suspects and being told the villain is a Mr Ted Cunterblast, a total stranger who wasn’t mentioned during the previous 2 hours.

Ted Cunterblast is mentioned by Hugh Laurie though, in his previous career as a purveyor of amusing japes and elaborate swearing with Stephen Fry. (If you’ve never seen their terrific sketch show, imagine Armstrong and Miller, but with Armstrong and Miller being replaced by somebody who can be arsed doing a different sketch every week).

My girlfriend could learn a lot from Fry and Laurie, and I fully expect her to call me Ted Cunterblast upon our next meeting. Although part of me hopes she saves her filthy mouth until we’re on our own in a bothy in Scotland, so there isn’t a repeat of that time she loudly called me a twat in the children’s section of Ikea. I don’t think the Scots are ready for her vocabulary.

Of course, it’s perfectly possible the Scots have learned how to swear by now. I seem to remember Frankie Boyle using a bad word once, and Billy Connolly too. Not as bad as the word I used about him today, when I read this article in the Guardian, in which he was given a free £5,000 holiday and then proceeded to bitch and moan about the whole thing. Well don’t fucking go then! Give the money to some poor kids from Glasgow.

The acquisition of large amounts of money seems to turn even the best person into an utter bastard. Take Sean Connery, a man who bestrides Scotland like a colossus… from his home in tax haven of The Bahamas, where he pays not a penny in tax to support the nation for whose independence he vigorously campaigns. Why do so many nationalists have such a strong objection to spending any money at all on the country they claim to love? The Tories are the same, wrapping themselves in the Union Flag and bellowing at Johnny Foreigner for having the temerity to introduce laws to protect British jobs. But ask that noble, blue-rinsed defender of the UK to pay a single penny more tax to fund his own country, and he’ll let his wife out of the kitchen long enough to fetch his shotgun and let the dogs out on you.

I do find it galling to have the Tories “protecting” Scotland from independence at the same time they insist on “protecting” Scotland from the support of Europe. The EU seems to have funded 90% of the bridges north of the border, and if I were a Scot I’d kick England out, get married to Europe, and stay happy. If they do, I’m going to campaign for Manchester to be officially recognised as a district of Dundee, cos I don’t want to be trapped here with David Cameron.

So there you have it: my 91st blog, and the end of my first year as a blogger. Next year it’s the cotton anniversary and I’m going to get WordPress some knickers, but the year after that it’s the leather anniversary. Stick with me, cos then the filthy sex will really start to get interesting!

George Michael at Christmas

A very messy Christmas to you all.

Yes, messy. It’s not a typo. It’s the same with orgies: the invitations should read “the more the messier“, not merrier. Messy is so much more fun. After all, who wants a clean orgy, or a clean Christmas? We may long for a white Christmas, but not a clean one – and we only want a white one so we can piss in the snow. I imagine some orgies end the same way.

I like my Christmas like I like my sex: we don’t have to get up too early in the morning, but as soon as we do let’s get on with the action: tear off the wrapping fast, get as messy as possible, laugh, shout, play with all the toys, and make sure the neighbours have reason to complain.

I probably won’t get that type of Christmas this year, because I’m suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome – and I don’t even have kids! I was hoping to spend Christmas drunkenly practicing the baby-making procedure in every room in my flat. Not too drunkenly, obviously. There’s a perfect amount of alcohol for sex: it should make you able to ignore the carpet burns for long enough to get the job done, but should not make Mr Happy become Mr Floppy. And it should definitely not make anybody accidentally sick into my mouth because they went on top.

That’s the amount of alcohol I had planned to consume – just the right amount to make everyone involved forget how they got those bruises the next day, but not enough to require a trip to hospital. And the moment I reached that perfect level of blood-alcohol, I was going to rip off my girlfriend’s knickers (because they’re really cutting into my hips) and make the beast with two backs.

Or at least the beast with one back and a front that’s bent over the kitchen table with a wooden spoon gritted between her teeth.

But it’s not going to happen because of somebody else’s empty nest syndrome, namely my wobbly old widow of a mother, who has inveigled her way into my flat for three days this Christmas, turning it from a sex den into a …. den. And I’m 42. What do I want with a den?

Actually, I very nearly made a den in the living room last week. The lady in my life has recently been pretty lifeless, and rather unladylike too. She’s had a cold, leading to a small tsunami of snot, a great deal of frustrated swearing, and some justifiable moping. And that’s just from me, cos I’ve had the horn and she’s been very much Out Of Bounds. The only way to make her feel her usual perky self has been to build a den out of the box my drums came in, or to put on a Harry Potter movie.

I did think about making a den, but the result would have been sitting in a small, warm box in my living room next to a plague carrier, waiting for her nose to explode all over me and make me sick during Christmas. So she can fuck off with her den: we’re watching Harry Potter.

I quite like Harry Potter. I’m far too old for it, but it served the same formative function in her adolescence that The Lord of the Rings and masturbation served in mine. You never get over that stuff, and to this day a quick wank over the mental image of Arwen and Galadriel lezzing up is enough to make me feel like a contented 12-year-old again. So although Harry Potter will never mean as much to me as it does to my girlfriend, I’m perfectly OK watching the last 6 movies. The first two… not so much. It says much that they’re amongst the worse things John Cleese has been in recently, and he was in the Liberal Democrats.

I even went with my girlfriend to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which was jolly good fun and rather exciting for a movie buff like me. I wandered around it, amazed by two things:

  1. The level of craftsmanship and imagination involved in making a movie like that (I’d argue the design imagination is at least the equal of JK herself)
  2. Rupert Grint

The mere fact of Grint still amazes me. If he wasn’t famous and I told you I knew a ginger boy called Rupert Grint, you’d say “oh, the poor sod”. It’s like me telling you that the manager of my local MFI store was called Finlay Gentleman (he is – I saw it on a receipt once). You’d wince and laugh, and then wonder why his parents hated him so much. Grint’s name alone is enough to make him extraordinary and dismal. He’s the only person in the movies who has a real name more outlandish than his character.

But beyond his name there’s his face, and his hair, and his voice, and his… there’s no other word for it than this… his talent. You can determine the level of Grint’s talent by measuring it against what his two child-star friends have achieved.

Daniel Radcliffe has appeared naked in a challenging play on the London stage. He’s been rather good in a rather successful horror movie. He made a pretty good fist of being on QI, and has sung a complicated Tom Lehrer song about chemicals on live television. And he achieved all of this in spite of looking like a man who is learning facial expressions from a book. Have you seen him smile? I imagine that’s what Gordon Brown looked like before somebody released the bulldog clip that kept his face tight.

Gordon Brown, aged 19
Gordon Brown, aged 19

Gordon Brown
Daniel Radcliffe, aged 106

Emma Watson went to a top American university where she managed to avoid being killed by an American for 3 years, something few people can do. She then returned to the screen in a moderately good adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, in which she attempted a bold strategy for of shaking off her reputation for being every online pervert’s favourite teenager: she took off her sexy clothes off in a sexy dance while looking sexily at a sexy boy. And all of this despite being cursed with the vocal quality of a distressed and menstrual cookery teacher in the 1950s, and wild and irrational eyebrows that look like they’re attempting to escape her face and run amok across the moors of England.

Rupert Grint.
Milky Grint. Bad at snorting coke, or good at giving blowjobs? You tell me.

Rupert Grint, by contrast, is being paid to smile in an advert for Sky.

That’s all the Grint they want. Thank you. You can leave now.

He’s not invited to do any acting – God forbid! They just wanted to borrow his head for 3 seconds so they could use it to sell things, like a misshapen orange billboard. The Milk Marketing Board pulled the same trick a couple of years ago, leading to a spate of upchucking women as Grint-besmattered busses trundled by. To this day, the term “Milky Grint” can churn the stomach of the hardiest woman. Show your lady-friends this photo, and slowly whisper “Milky Grint” to them. I bet they shudder and make an expression. I bet they do. In fact, I’m off down to Ladbroke’s now to place that very bet.

Yet despite this, Grint’s net worth in 2012 is £24 million. You’d have to work for a thousand years to get that much money, and who has the time?

I’ll tell you who has the time: Grint has the time. After all, his diary is looking pretty empty. I suspect it always did, even during the Potter years…

Grint’s diary, from the set of “Harry Potter and the Ocelot of Disappointment”:

Tuesday: Said “Bloody hell, Harry”. Got paid £3 million. Did double maths. Hated self.

In truth, it’s a small miracle that any of them grew up to become even a moderate actor: they were between 9 and 11 years old when they began their movie careers, plucked from obscurity because they looked less gap-toothed than most of their contemporaries. Americans are, as we know, more terrified of gap-toothed people than they are of 200 million assault rifles, and the Potter movies would definitely have failed if the lead actors had standard British teeth.

But the kids had good teeth. It’s just the rest of Grint which was substandard. And when they started out they just looked like Cabbage Patch versions of themselves, which must be weird for them to look at now. You think it’s embarrassing when your mum shows your new partner photos of you aged 11? Imagine if you had a whole movie series, and every girl you ever meet thinks she knows exactly who you are, and what you can do with your “wand”. Engorgio!

In retrospect, £24 million seems like reasonable compensation for what fate has done to Grint. He can stop being Weasley, but will always be Grint. He will always be awful and look like he knows it.

Mind you, for the first few movies none of them looked comfortable in their own skin. Who is, at the age of 13? Your skin is your enemy at exactly the moment you most need a friend, and fame and fortune are no protection against the ravages of youth. I watched Romeo + Juliet recently, and Leo’s face seems to be undergoing a meteor shower. I think he spent half his salary on concealer. He looks like he’s been coated in Polyfilla in a few scenes, which I’m sure pleases a lot of blokes who were negatively compared with DiCaprio in their teens. Every generation throws up a pretty boy for the girls to idolise, and all the boys hate whoever it is. Right now it’s Beiber. Before that it was DiCaprio. My own nemesis was George Micheal.

In 1986 boys my age were considered cool and attractive if they wore a cross in one ear, strutted around in white jeans and cowboy boots, displayed several days of beard growth, and had bouffant hair with blonde highlights. Hard to believe people assumed it was the dress sense of a heterosexual man, but that’s what Gorgeous George wore, and he was very definitely a heterosexual man in 1986. He said so in Smash Hits, so it must be true.

My teenaged attempts at looking like George Michael weren't very successful.
My teenaged attempts at looking like George Michael weren’t very successful.

I don’t give a fuck about being fashionable now, as anybody who knows me will definitely confirm. But I can remember how ostracised I felt back then for being unable to grow sufficient stubble or persuade my mum to let me get my ear pierced. I want to seek out Darren Gilmore, my college’s number one George Michael lookalike, show him a photo of Wham! and shout “I told you so” into his unrealistically handsome face. Except by now his face is probably like mine: gradually sliding down his skull like a slow-motion avalanche. I can’t really blame him for being fooled by Wham! I was as fooled as anybody else, I just had my ambitions stymied by my mum and some terrible NHS glasses.

More than quarter of a century later, and my mum is still pissing on my chips. My Christmas will be polite, with only moderate consumption of wine, absolutely no spanking paddles or handcuffs; and then bed before midnight on my second-best lumpy mattress.

Thank you Jesus, you absolute twat!

I thought Pentecost was bad (I received the Gift of the Holy Spirit, but I don’t have the receipt, so can’t take it back and swap it for a cardigan). But Christmas is going to be a wash-out. So Jesus, I’m sorry to break the news, but your parties are always shit and I’m not coming to any more of them. I’ve given up on a rowdy Christmas, and all I can say is: roll on New Year. Because believe me, I’m definitely going to roll on someone at New Year.

Brace yourself dear.

Piers Morgan DOES NOT fuck goats

Do you remember that time when the Daily Mirror libelled Frankie Boyle by calling him a racist?

It was fairly recent, and it was a massive story. Surely you remember all these things happening:

  • The managing director, chief executive and head of the Daily Mirror resigned
  • The Daily Mirror’s head of journalism was sacked
  • The Daily Mirror’s entire legal team offered to resign
  • The head journalist of the Daily Mirror did a corruscating interview with his own boss, in which he ritualistically tore him to pieces and was incredulous at the failings
  • The Daily Mirror ran headlines and the first 7 pages of its newspaper with massive coverage of the scandal and crisis for over a week
  • The Daily Mirror made a full, frank apology, as did its board and the trustees
  • Members of Parliament asked questions in the House, and spoke widely about the urgent need to reform the whole newspaper… including offering personal opinions about who should be the next editor and manager of the paper
  • The Chairman of Mirror Group Newspapers appeared all over the media, frankly answering questions about the role of the Mirror, and offering to scrap the newspaper and start again with a completely different team

Surely you remember that? It was very similar to all of those times the Daily Mail has been found guilty of libel since 2001, when all the Mail’s staff resigned in disgrace and the paper spent 10 full days apologising on every single page. As a reminder, these are the libels in question:

  • Alan Sugar awarded £100,000
  • Diana Rigg awarded £30,000
  • Elton John awarded £100,000
  • £30,000 award to Dr Austen Ivereigh, who had worked for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor
  • £47,500 award to Parameswaran Subramanyam for falsely claiming that he secretly sustained himself with hamburgers during a 23-day hunger strike in Parliament Square to draw attention to the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka
  • the former lifestyle adviser to Cherie Blair and Tony Blair, Carole Caplin received “substantial” libel damages

Isn’t that familiar either? It should be, because I definitely remember the Mail spending days and days in soul-searching, and the main stories on every page being about the crisis at the Mail. I remember Paul Dacre, the editor and chief exec, standing down with a humiliating public statement.

Or maybe not. Maybe it’s only the BBC which has to do this kind of self-flagellating bullshit perp-walk every time a member of its staff makes a mistake. To be clear, the BBC fucked up, and they did it in some style. But they did not report that Lord McAlpine was a paedophile: they reported that a member of the public had claimed a “top Tory” was a paedophile, and Twitter and gossip – some of it already circulating – filled in the blanks.

Hands up if you definitely definitely definitely don’t fuck goats.

And yet somehow half a dozen people who have had flawless, exceptional careers in public service have to go. The BBC has to rip itself to pieces for days on end, and go through paroxysms of guilt. We demand it. And it’s an utter fucking nonsense.

In all of this, let’s not forget what we should actually be focussing on – criminals at large, who have cause misery to potentially hundreds of children. Not BBC executives or one wonky report. Yes, it was an error. In fact, it appears to have been about 10 errors, each compounding the last. But nobody died, and in actual fact I’d be surprised if Lord McAlpine could even sue for libel, considering he was never identified. Not even his job was – nobody said “McAlpine” or “Treasurer”. Other people leaped to that conclusion, and they fact that they were able to simply demonstrates that the rumours (albeit false rumour) were already in existence.

Hop on, you sexy thing.

For that matter I could state that a well-known panelist on a popular Saturday evening talent show is an utter cunt who fucks goats and squirts tart lemons into the eyes of kittens while sipping Martinis made from the tears of orphans. But if (and I should state that this is entirely for the purposes of illustrating my point) Simon Cowell or Pier Morgan decided to sue me for libel, it would be extremely hard, because I didn’t mention either of them by name. And I never would.

Not even if it was Piers Morgan.

I’m Batman

Spoiler. If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises, don’t read any further.

I’ve broken my spine. It’s actually broken.

Careful: this kindly old man is going to punch you in your shattered spine.

OK, maybe a bit of an exaggeration: I’ve actually got a touch of sciatica, and it just hurts when I move. I wasn’t slammed over Tom Hardy’s knee like Batman was, and unfortunately I don’t have a dishevelled Tom Conti here to dangle me from a rope and lovingly punch my spine back together.

I never went to medical school, so I’ll take Christopher Nolan’s word for it that this is the correct way to fix a broken back.

Actually I’ve got it worse than Batman, because even though he’s got no cartilage he has, as far as we know, both of his kidneys. So he’s allowed to take Ibuprofen, but I’m not. Sciatica with no anti inflammatory painkillers: it’s a pain, quite literally. I’m not even allowed whiskey, which was my painkiller of choice in the good old days, when I still had a full set of internal organs and a rock hard liver. Ahhh, Glenfiddich, how I miss you. You saw me through the worst of times. You usually caused the worst of times too, but we’ll let that pass.

Anyway, that’s why I’ve been silent for a while: back-ache. I normally just need a subject matter that annoys me, such as Simon Cowell. Just writing his name annoys me. I once knew a Bassett Hound call Simon, and I thought he was lovely. But now the fact that the dog had 50% of Simon Cowell’s name just makes me angry at it, and I want to kick the beast in its saggy, drooly, soppy face.

Cowell infuriates me that much. I should write a blog about it. Oh, hold on, I’ve written about 900 of them.

Anyway, normally I just need the seed of an idea, or something to rant about, and then I can sit at my desk churning out these blogs with nary a care in the world, interrupted only by my body’s demand for coffee and the ever-present allure of porn.

A wanker in 1764

Isn’t it weird that the thing we use to be productive is also the thing we use to sag off work and wank ourselves into a husk? I have a mental image of a sun-dappled meadow in the middle ages, with a hoary son of the soil sucking on a piece of hay as he gently leads his plough up and down the field, cultivating the land and planting seed – and then looking furtively around, dropping his trousers, and having a speed-wank while trying to ignore the back-end of his horses.

Never happened. There’s nothing sexy about ploughing a field, and abslutely nothing sexy about a horse’s arse. If you disagree with my last statement, seek help. But where once we separated work from fun, now they’re blending into one, like the TV, phone and computer and inhexorably merging into a single device. Soon we’ll be watching telly, shopping, working and wanking all at the same time, constantly, through one piece of equipment, 24 hours a day.

This generation is doomed, and it’s all the fault of Sir Tim Berner’s-Lee. What was he thinking? Cunt.

But even without the lure of porn, it’s hard to write blogs (or drink coffee, or spank one out) when you’re flat-out on the sofa, groaning slightly and comfort-eating a hundredweight of Hobnobs.

So I’ve been ignoring my blog for a few days, but this morning I got an email notification telling me that some damn fool has decided to follow me –  I should be saying thank you, shouldn’t I? – and when I logged in to find out who the nincompoop is, I noticed some new search terms.

In case you didn’t know, WordPress tells me what search terms people have used to find my blog. I’ve had some doozies, my favourite being “huge hard morning wood throbbing photo”, which is just so specific. That man or woman… let’s face it, it’s a man… has no interest in huge hard penises at any other time of the day: just in the morning. Brilliant.

But today’s selection takes the biscuit. Here is the full list of terms people searched for when they found this blog during the last 24 hours:

  • my naked girlfriend
  • can you paper mache naked skin
  • naked mole rat it’s fucked basically
  • libido fetish
  • lost my cherry to the black taxi driver

In my mind, it’s one person who wants to find them all. He has a girlfriend, but she won’t turn the lights on during sex, so he’s never seen her naked. Therefore he wants to make a papier-mache cast of her body, but needs to know if it’s possible. Papier mache being what it is, it’ll probably come out looking as wrinkly as a naked mole rat, but he’s going to fuck it anyway; and why? Because he has a libido and likes fetishes. Don’t blame him: he’s been that way ever since he lost his cherry to that black taxi driver.

My only question is: was the driver black, or the taxi? I’m genuinely intriged, and if that person was you, I want to know more. But in the meantime, I’m going to spend an hour trying to put my socks on, which is tricky enough with a bit of sciatica. It makes you wonder how the hell they managed to get Batman out of his rubber costume and half way around the world with a broken back?

Cheers Chris Nolan: you’ve made Batman seem sooooo real.

Olympic report: day… what day is it?

Nobody knows for sure when Robert Falcon Scott died. Not even he knew.

More than a week before he and his men crawled into their final tent, exhausted, frostbitten and out of food and fuel, he lost track of the days. Sometime in the middle of March 1912, gaunt with hunger and his agonized feet freezing beneath him, his focus, understandably, failed him. Suddenly he was unable to even remember which day it was.

On March 29th (by his own hazy reckoning) he made his final entry in his journal. He was trapped by an endless, swirling blizzard, only 11 miles from One Ton Depot. He was demoralised, weakened, starving and freezing; and in spite of the monumental heroism of he and his 2 surviving friends, none of them could countenance that final agonizing trek to their next supply drop, and the hope of salvation.

Lest we forget, within days, possibly even hours, they all succumbed to their bitter fate.

Lest we forget. What lovely words. Lest we forget.

It’s 100 years on, and I’m starting to know how he felt: I’m trapped by the fucking Olympics which swirls all around me; there is no escape, and my only outlet is this lonely journal, which I’m sure will be ignored.

OK, maybe a little melodramatic, considering I’ve also got warm slippers, and a king-sized bed and some illicit Hobnobs. But like Scott, I’m losing track of the days, and I feel like I’ll be here until I die.

Of course, I know it can’t last forever. It will finish eventually. I know it’ll finish…

… I just can’t feel it’ll finish.

So yesterday I took a break. I know, I know: I said I’d do one of these things every day, but you’re not paying me for this shit, so fuck off. Yes you. Off you fuck.

I decided to skive for an evening, and I went out with my girlfriend – who, believe it or not, actually allows me to refer to her as that in writing, in spite of the fact that I just admitted to buying Hobnobs when my stomach is under close scrutiny. Not by her – she seems only slightly appalled by it, bless her. But having seen Tom Hardy with his shirt off for a few hours I’ve realised that I might not be quite the perfect physical specimen I had thought.

“Make it so”.
Or rather, “Ffrrake hish shoooo”

As you might guess, my girlfriend and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises, which is a very good film, only slightly marred by the strange decision to have Tom Hardy play Bane as a sulky, steroidal Patrick Stewart, muffled by a cross between a ball-gag and a radiator grille.

He looks like he’s at a fetish party sponsored by Chrysler, and sounds like he’s had his face stapled to the inside of a bucket of trifle. Hey, we all have our kinks, but leave it at home Tom, there’s a good chap.

But now I’m back; and the Olympics is still trundling on like a £9 billion tank; and I can’t remember what day we were up to. All I know for sure is that when I left, Britain was a dismal failure, and when I came back Britain was a dismal failure with a few gongs.

I was going to call them Gold Medals, but (interesting factoid) the Olympic Gold Medals are made of silver. They’re not even Gold Plated, they’re just coloured using electrolysis. I don’t know about you, but if I’d just completed 10 years of crippling training for the Olympics, strained every sinew, and finally got my Gold Medal, I’d feel cheated.

Cheated twice actually: once because my Gold Medal wasn’t gold. And once because I’d just wasted a decade learning to row slightly faster than the team from Denmark, not quite as fast as the team from Argentina… and nowhere near as fast as a power-boat. And let’s face it, we’re all going to pick a power-boat if we want to go really fast. So what exactly was all that rowing for?

OK, I admit it: even I’ve managed to be a little bit impressed, in spite of my efforts not to be. It’s a jolly good thing to excel at anything, especially in a nation which seems to pride itself on being so mediocre. Some nations are born mediocre; some achieve mediocrity; some have mediocrity thrust upon them. With Britain, it’s all three. Even amongst nations lacking all distinction, we stand out as lacking more distinction than the rest.

And for the last few days it’s seemed like, hilariously, we’d even manage to turn a home advantage to our disadvantage. Assuming we’re spending our £9 billion at a fairly even rate, we had managed to blow two and a half billion pounds on not a single Gold medal. Not one.

The nation that brought the world the longbow even managed to miss out in the archery to a man with one eye, for Christ’s sake.

(It’s not clear whether he had both eyes when he started fooling around with arrows).

Did you know the longbow was the source of sticking two fingers up at people? I know you only come here for my wisdom, so here it is. The longbow was a revolutionary weapon in its day; and in Wales, where it was invented, it’s still considered quite modern. I’m not saying they’re behind the times, but if you showed an iPad to a Welsman, he’d burn you as a witch.

Well, he would if the Welsh had discovered fire yet.

Actually, that’s not fair. Wales isn’t the backwater the English assume it is. In some areas of Wales there is so much traffic now that the locals no longer point at the cars and shriek.

A dignified Olympian sits modestly on a throne and displays the fingers with which he plans to murder Frenchmen.

Anyway, when a Welshman was captured, the French would cut off the first 2 fingers from his right hand to prevent him from firing any more arrows. So as a taunt, uncaptured Welsh archers would wave 2 functioning fingers at their enemies…

… No, not at the French: at the English. The French only stole a couple of fingers, whereas the English stole their entire nation.

But they’re wreaking terrible revenge on the English by waiting until we go into their Post Offices, and then… dramatic music… pretending to speak in another language!! The swine!!

Come off it, you’re not telling me Welsh is a real language. They’re making it up as they go along! The Welsh for the town of Wrexham is Wrecsam. The Welsh for the town of Colwyn Bay is Bae Colwyn.

That’s not a language, it’s hereditary dyslexia.

Sorry, for a moment there I forgot I was meant to be writing about the Olympics, and decided to start a race war. I wouldn’t mind, but it’s my race! I’m almost entirely Welsh, and as proud of that as anybody should be. Which is barely at all.

The Welsh for an ironing board is board smoothio. Jesus.

Back here in advanced, modern, sophisticated and urbane England, there’s a vast, baying mob of people who are presumably unemployed, as they can spend all week sitting by a riverbank, bellowing at passing boats. I assume they’re hoping the boat will do something mildly interesting, but even if it does it will have absolutely no bearing on any aspect of their lives.

Sometimes, for a change, the mob stops howling at men in boats and howls at men on bikes instead. But not at ladies on bikes because, for some arcane reason that I simply cannot be arsed discovering, the ladies have been sent home.

I have to admit that for a long time I thought the menstrual cycle was a lady’s bike. I thought that’s why girls needed pads: uncomfortable saddles. Don’t blame me, I was only 34 and had had a sheltered upbringing.

I’m guessing here, but perhaps that’s why the women had to pack it all in: it was the wrong time of month to sit on a bike, so they had to pop home to have a cry and solemnly devour an imperial pound of chocolate. No wonder women complain about having “heavy days”: it’s all that Dairy Milk.

Meanwhile the remaining Olympians will continue to do whatever the fuck it is that they’re supposed to be doing – running around, throwing sticks, playing in the water or going for bike rides. And the mob will continue to yawp and howl.

When I ran around or rode my bike as a child I got no attention at all, not unless I fell off and got a really nasty grass-burn, or a wasp stung me on the lip. But for some reason the highly paid members of our national media, whose primary purpose is to hold power to account, are busy having a fucking shitgasm about the whole thing, like they’ve never seen a man on a bike before.

What the media have forgotten is that there is a much more important and exciting set of Olympics going on right now, and a lot more gold being splashed around too. There’s the Catastrolympics that’s taking place in Europe; the Kleptolympics that’s taking place in our banking sector; and the Corruptolympics landing actual criminal charges at the door of Cameron’s chum Rebekah Brooks.

And – lest we forget – a complete and utter fucking Slaughtolympics in Syria. And about that, I refuse to make jokes. Want to see a hero? I’ll tell you what: he’s not alive on a podium in London, and he’s not dead in a tent in Antarctica.

Lest we forget, he’s terrified and desperate in a shop doorway in Damascus. Lest we forget.

Whoops. We all forgot.