Plugging & Promo For New Artists: A Few Do’s & Don’ts

Interesting article from Neil March, who manages Demerera Records, presents Trust The Doc on ExileFM and works on Fresh On The Net, as well as working on the Grassroots Music Network with myself  and Sue Oreszczyn.

It’s all about the Do’s and Dont’s of plugging and promotion. One of Neil’s comments is about the lack of artist websites, which is a pet-peeve of mine.  I don’t know how many times I’ve played an artist on one of my podcasts who has no website to direct potential listeners to. Even if you can’t be bothered to manage your own website artists should at least own their domain name and point it at their bandcamp, souncloud or spotify pages.

Artists just need to think like a listener: “Oh I heard that on Pete’s show and would like to hear more” and then find out that there’s nowhere to go to!  Well, that’s not strictly true because I always find something to link to, be it the netlabel, a wikipedia page or a youtube video. But the fact remains musical artists should have somewhere for the listener to listen to their tracks. It seems fundamental, yet so many artists cannot be arsed to do this.

Read Neil’s full article HERE at Fresh on the Net!

Plugging & Promo For New Artists: A Few Do’s & Don’ts2020-06-18T10:13:49+00:00

Virtual Insanity?

There’s plenty to be pessimistic about. We’re all locked up in our homes, many of us have been “temporarily” laid-off, and the NHS front-line staff still has no PPE and have not been treated against coronavirus.

But, as I said earlier, 2020 is going to be a POSITIVE year for me, even if it kills me ….. no wait, that came out all wrong!

I’m used to social distancing. So are many IT, home based, freelance workers. It’s getting out and actually meeting a person that’s weird!  So the last couple of weeks have been no different for me. I’ve been focused on helping a couple of local businesses get their shit online. It doesn’t matter what that shit is, everyone seems to be getting it done online …. especially using zoom or pre-recorded videos.

I’ve been blown away by the way in which businesses (and customers) have risen to this challenge. Older people (yes, even people older than me!) are busy zooming into to their Swoove, Zumba, Fitsteps, Yoga or Pilates classes. They are doing stuff with websites that I did not think possible and my regular get together of Swoovers is just as strong online via Zoom, WhatsApp and other social media tools.

Instructors have been recording videos in their lounges, kitchen and bedrooms for their students … in their lounges, kitchen and bedrooms, and it’s all been tickety boo!

I’m loving being part of this creativity and (hopefully) doing my bit to make it happen! It’s been a blast!

Twitter is alive with the notion that “we will never be the same again” and although I’m still mightily pessimistic about this I do believe it’s clarifies the important people in our society: NHS workers, Bin Men, Delivery drivers, Supermarket staff to name but four. These people are worth far more than they are paid – far more than Bankers, Lousy Chief Executives, Politicians or City Traders.  What will happen when this is all over? Pessimistically, I suspect we’ll go back to normal, but I HOPE I’m wrong.

We’re even being kind to the homeless for once.  OK it may be in our self interest to protect our own species, but at least people now recognise they are the same species!

On the home front I’m becoming adept at the “what can I cook with this…?” shopping model.  Dammit my son’s partner has gone vegetarian and he’s joining in!  These are incredible times.

Sadly we still have The Daily Mail spouting filth.  This week they’ve blaming foreigners for infecting us: Michel Barnier for infecting Boris Johnson, or the entire Chinese nation for infecting everybody! We need to see through this bullshit.

Some things will never be the same until this time next year: My usual festival, The Great Escape, like many others has been cancelled; My usual holiday to the sun will be cancelled soon. But 2021 will be upon us soon and we will recover. At least I’m going for a virtual pint with some mates this evening. I wonder what a virtual hangover feels like?

Stay safe peeps!

Virtual Insanity?2020-04-01T11:26:37+00:00

Panic on the streets of (Enter name of your town here)!

Coronavirus this.  Coronavirus that.  In-out-in-out-sneeze-it-all-about!  The media is fully of the same stories at the moment. The new C-word.  It’s an epidemic, it’s a pandemic, and we’re all doomed!

A few things worry me about this…..

It’s creating panic.  I was at my local Sainsbury’s yesterday and the car park was full.  As I put my usual selection of comestibles into the car the click-and-collect guy was surprised I’d got everything I wanted.  Why I asked?  “Panic buying”, he said.  “The first customer of the morning bought 16 packs of 6-pack toilet rolls.”  Does anyone need that many toilet rolls?  I suggested we’d be OK because we could just re-cycle copies of the Daily Mail – it’s already full of shit, but I didn’t get a laugh. Perhaps he was a Daily Mail reader?  Either way its pointless being so selfish. If you are going to self-isolate for 14 days you still don’t need that many rolls, or hand-sanitizers do you. If you take them, then everyone else will be without them, the virus will spread further and you’ll be surrounded by the infected.

It’s the perfect opportunity for the Government to bury bad news. How many stories have gone unreported in this media frenzy?  How many Brexit problems will now be blamed on the virus? It’s already started with the Flybe airline collapse.

They say the world of work will change forever.  As more people are encouraged/told to work from home a popular daytime political chat show was suggesting that this will change the face of normal work. We will never return to the old ways. What utter bullshit! Once this is over the return to work will be mandatory. Those wishing to remain at work will be labelled ”shirkers” (The shirker-in-Chief Farrage has already started this). Remember when WWII was raging? Women were “forced” into wartime production.  They were required to “do their bit”.  But when the war ended they were required to return back to the home and give their jobs back to the men.  Capitalism decides what happens with the world of work, and once the virus is vanquished, so will working-from-home.  Enjoy it while you can suckers!

Obviously I’m not advocating we just put on our famous British stiff upper lip, keep calm and carry on.  We need to be sensible.  But being sensible is not a panic response.  This is not the zombie apocalypse, and we’re not the walking dead.


Panic on the streets of (Enter name of your town here)!2020-03-07T11:00:57+00:00

Too old to Rock and Roll?

I’ve not written an “opinion” piece for a while. It’s not that there hasn’t been enough to write about. Far from it, The government have been making my blood boil on a daily basis, but it’s just that shit has really got in the way.

My wife and I are now the oldest members of the family. Its taken 11 years, but the last of our parents have now left us and it’s an odd feeling. We keep saying “Mum would have liked this…” or “When do you have to phone your parents…?”  Obviously we still remember them, hear their favourite words, repeat their regular phrases and smile when we think of their reactions to situations, but it’s been a long slog as they all got older and needed more of our time.

“We’ll be next” we keep saying. Duh! That’s obvious innit?  But how do we want to go?  Holding on to the last breath, whilst still saving for a rainy day, wearing old clothes and starting every conversation with the word “Oh my back!”

I don’t think so. It’s time to grow old disgracefully, and I like to think I’ve been working up to that for a while. I still want to be the oldest bloke in the mosh pit (although there’s a lot of competition for this down in Brighton!) and give it up to the max at Swoove, my dance fitness exercise addiction!  I still want to see more cities of the world, meet more interesting people, drink more interesting drinks and eat (and cook) more interesting food. So now is the time to do it.

My parents always seemed old to me, even when they were the age I am now. They never had friends round for dinner. My Dad never wore jeans. The only gig I went to with my Dad was one I took him to (Stéphane Grappelli). But now that I’m older I do realise one thing – they were young in their own heads. Just like I still feel like I’m 15 at my first concert. It’s just seeing the reflection in the mirror that reminds me, perhaps I’m not. Who is that old bloke anyway?

The world at the moment seems a very scary place. The lunatics have taken over the asylum and, in some Orwellian sleight of hand we’ve been reminded that Trump is the best president, Johnson is running the country instead of Cummings, the NHS is not being sold off to American corporations and there’s no such thing as global warming. Is this a good time to be alive? Was it a good idea to bring children into this world? Is it a good idea that Johnson himself is producing another heir?

Well, my parents much have wondered the same thing. Shortly after my birth the US and Russia went head to head over the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. During my years at school we were told about “Protect and Survive” and the 4 minute warning. Was that a good time to bring children into the world?  Didn’t my parents suffer enough with WWII? Were they as scared as we are now?

If we take this point of view we are lost. We give in to doubt and the people that want to ruin the world get their way. We must resist, even though my default position is pessimistic. So I’ve determined that in 2020 I’m going to be more optimistic and engage in optimistic endeavours.

Stage one was joining (or becoming a “fellow” as they say, of) the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) , thanks in part, due to the optimism of my old mate, Peter Clitheroe, who joined to make the world a better place for his grandchildren.

It’s the “encouragement” bit that inspires me the most. Encouraging people to be the best of themselves, to make their mark on society, and not just in the fine arts, but in manufacture and business. This is what I really loved about my working career – encouraging people, teams and organisations to make real change.

And I’ve started with a bang, helping create a new network for grassroots musicians, which is in beta-test at the moment and I will tell you about in due course. It’s been good for me because I found out long ago that I’m crap at creating a “vision” but I’m pretty darn good at helping create and fulfil other people’s visions.  Just tell me what you need and I can help. This plays to my strengths and does create a sense of optimism that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Hopefully more projects like this will emerge!

So, as 2020 is now officially 17% over, I’m looking forward to the other 83% in a positive state of mind. Champion!

Too old to Rock and Roll?2020-03-01T10:50:02+00:00

Paint It Black

Today is the day I’ve been dreading. It’s a black day. Our last day as part of the European Union. Tomorrow are now a “sovereign nation” as the Brexiteers tell us, one free to “take back control” of our own borders and our own government.

So now we make new trading agreements with everyone. Everyone that now knows we stand alone, unsupported, not part of an alliance, without allies and without muscle.
We won’t be getting good deals, we’ll be getting the deals that the far-right want. Deals that Trump wants. Deals that will put America first and the UK much further down the pecking order.

We’ve already seen firms collapse or move their headquarters out of the UK. London will no-longer be the gateway to Europe.

But it’s much worse than that. I have a few predictions:

  • Scotland will vote to leave the UK and re-joins the EU, thus rendering a political swing in what remains of the UK to the right-wing, permanently.
  • A new faction of the IRA will restart the war in Northern Ireland as tensions mount over the border with the Republic.
  • What’s left of the UK signs a trade deal with the US, leading to:
    • Further privatisation of the NHS to American Healthcare and Insurance companies.
    • The influx of genetically modified beef, genetically modified grain and Chlorinated Chicken into the UK.
    • The lowering of European “standards” in safety and employment law.
  • Hundreds of thousands of Europeans will leave the UK rendering the Building and Farming Industries and NHS short of workers, amongst other industry sectors.
  • The pound will fall against the Euro, causing the cost of goods to rise in the UK, leading to:
    • More UK companies go bust as the cost of good and transport goes up and the number of UK citizens travelling goes down.
    • A rise in inflation and the number of unemployed
    • A sustained recession

It will take us years to get back to the level of “prosperity” we used to have, and in the meantime what’s left of the “welfare state” will have been sold off. Perhaps is 10 years time we will be able to hold our heads up high again. The brexiteers will tell us “we told you so” and conveniently forget the years of pain that we had to endure.

Farage and his cronies have waved goodbye to the EU Parliament, making the UK look small and foolish.

I am ashamed.

Paint It Black2020-01-30T11:38:18+00:00

Please don’t let me be misunderstood (Part Two)

I admire Jess Phillips. She seems to be a truly honest politician. She says what she feels, and”speaks truth to power” even if some people call her a “Gobby Cow”.  

Today I read that she’s “been forced” to suspend her aide Salma Hamid for supposedly anti-Semitic messages.

Apparently she said the following (in 2015):

“Because Israel obeys human rights/law? Hilarious! Isis are terrible too. So really there is no difference.’”

 “We must show the world that “Israel” is the murderer!”

“Israel IS inflicting Holocaust conditions on Palestinians! Oppressive, racist and violent!”

She also drew a distinction between Judaism “a faith based on peace and love” and Israel or “Zionists”.

I’ve made all these points myself, so I guess I’d better not apply to assist with Jess’ campaign!

I completely understand that Jess Phillips wants to stand apart from any claims of anti-Semitism in her campaign to be the new Labour leader.  

However I’m saddened that it now seems to be impossible to say what I believe; that these are two different issues.  Jews are beautiful people and Israeli government are pure evil.

Conflating the two issues is exactly what the Israeli government want us to do:  Keep it simple just call everyone that disagrees with them anti-Semitic.  No-one wants to be associated with anti-Semitism so they shut up.

Well, based on what I’ve read, I stand by Salma Hamid , and remain pro-Jew and anti-Israeli.

Here’s my previous blog on this subject.

Please don’t let me be misunderstood (Part Two)2020-01-12T14:23:57+00:00

A Time To Turn?

It’s been a while since I posted in the “opinion” section of this blog.  It’s been a stressful period, culminating in the loss of the final “elder” member of the extended Cogle family.  As the song says, there is …..

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

Certainly it’s been a time for reflection.  So much has happened over that short period. 

In Australia, the wildfires have intensified. More Aussie land is currently burning than exists in the entire country of Belgium. The smoke is causing breathing problems in New Zealand, 2,000km away. Half a billion animals have been killed. Eight people are dead.  The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, seems to care little about the effect on his country.  He even took a vacation in Hawaii during the crisis.

In the US, Donald Trump had bombed Iraq, in order to assassinate Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, who was in Iraq at the time.  There is talk of Iranian retaliation and disproportionate US counter-retaliation. The world waits with baited breath to see who blinks first. In the meantime we hear from Trump that he is “Heaven Sent” and we see US Christian leaders hands-on praying for him. On the flip side he was impeached by the House of Representative.

In the UK, Boris Johnson has taken an extended vacation in Mustique, amongst wealth press-barons and other businessmen; no-doubt to say thank you for the donations to the Tory party and the lies they help spread.  He didn’t even come back early after Soleimani’s assassination despite the obvious implications on UK troops in Iraq.

Whilst he was away his unelected strategic advisor has put out a call to hire a new kind of staff into Downing Street:  super-talented weirdoes, unusual mathematicians, economists, scientists or software developers. People who need to need to commit two years of their time, but who could be sacked within weeks if you don’t “fit” the profile – although he says he doesn’t know what he’s looking for.  Is this a refreshing new take on recruitment requirements, or given his hatred of the UK political machine and a desire to dismantle government as we know it, just a cynical way of trying to circumvent the civil service?

So I have to ask….. Is this the kind of leadership we really want in our world?

Do we just say “well they were elected” and leave it at that?  Do we believe in the political process and accept that those that have the majority can do what they want?

Or is it becoming increasingly obvious that we need to take direct action and state what we want?

A Time To Turn?2020-01-07T14:47:28+00:00

Every breath you take

In 2016 it was a matter of hours after the referendum before the Leave campaigners told that the “Let’s spend £350M on the NHS” slogan on their bus was a lie.

One day after the election Tory MP Damian Green was on LBC saying that we all need to start paying towards an insurance type system to pay for our care.  A couple of days later Tory MP Nicky Morgan has said that the 50,000 ‘more’ nurses will take over 10yrs to reach and none will be in place before 2024.

All politicians tell us lies, half-truths and messages that are meant to make us hopeful and forward looking, but honestly, we’re going to see that the entire Tory list of promises are lies.

I’ve spend the weekend “in reflection” (and also in the pub with Clithers and Ro, which was marvellous!).  I’ve acknowledged that I’m now living in some social media “leftist” bubble that has done nothing to prepare me for such a Tory majority.  I need to get out more.  I need to understand the views of the people physically around me.

Agreed, in my constituency 53.3% of the voters are true blue. But 24.3% are Liberal Democrat with an 11.6% swing, which I helped to create.  It’s going to be a tough story to hear.  There’s going to be a lot of xenophobia and an awful lot more of people that are “good intentioned” and yet still voted for Boris the Bastard.

But as I’ve said before, I’ve always been in the minority, and that will never change. I just need to make sure the people that voted for the Tories see every lie exposed every broken promise shouted from the rooftops.  I want to, hold these bastards to account.  

I was bloody mad and I’m still bloody mad.

Every breath you take2019-12-16T12:23:19+00:00

Start all over again…

Thatcher famously said “There is no society. There are individual men and women and there are families”.  It’s a phrase that has always bugged me.   A fair and good society has always been something I’ve striven for.  Yet the process to “remove” society that she began back in 1979 has now come true in 2019. We have a majority Conservative government elected by individuals that seemingly have no interest in a better society.

This campaign has been the dirtiest in British history, with both Conservatives and Labour employing Machiavellian spin-doctors to turn votes to their advantage. The Lib Dems have tried their best to get us to Vote Tactically and even their own leader has lost her seat.

The left basically ran terrible campaigns and the right brought all of their political and economic might and influence to bear on a witless population who fell for the slogan “Get Brexit Done”.  The end of the beginning of Brexit is now a foregone conclusion.  We may march, we may sing, but with a Tory majority in parliament we cannot stop anything. 

So, prepare yourselves!  We will have years more of Brexit as we tear ourselves apart from the EU and the Union will tear itself apart from within.  It’s only a matter of time before Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland decide they can do better without the English.  Good luck to them, but I doubt it will be true, unless they re-join the EU and get some protection.

So is there really no society?  Did the founders of the NHS and the Welfare State get it all wrong?  Or have we just changed?

Let me tell you now: I have not changed. I still believe in a fairer society. I may be crying into my beer this morning, but tomorrow I will pick myself up, restore my dignity and start the fight again.

Start all over again…2019-12-13T08:48:09+00:00

Should I stay or should I go?

I admit politics has been quite tedious in the last three years.  It’s all been about that one THING. That THING that divides us, that focuses our attention, our passion and our hate.  We don’t agree what that THING is, how long it will take to get it, or whether it will be any good for us in the short or long term.

Quite frankly if I’d put forward a proposal in business to do a THING like this with the same level of data to back it up as the politicians have then I’d probably have been ignored. I saw a video yesterday by Deborah Meaden, one of the UK’s Dragons in Dragon’s Den, saying she would be “out” if the THING was a pitch on the TV show.

It’s the lack of any economic assessment that gets me. There are no published reports that detail how the economy will change as a result of the THING.  No SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and no logical comparison of options.

Ironically, it’s Boris Johnson’s idea of writing two pieces, FOR and AGAINST the THING that actually strikes a chord with me. Do the analysis and make the decision. Make a plan. Right or wrong.

But it’s the way in which the analysis was presented to the people is what annoys me.  I frequently watch documentaries which purport to tell me the science behind an invention or a discovery, but which dumb it down so much, and repeat the headline points after each advert break; we never actually get to the detail. It’s as if the program makers think we’re too stupid to understand it all. It’s looking to be the same way with politics. They keep telling us the FEATURES not the BENEFITS, just like any bad salesman does.

So 52% of people made a decision in 2016 that was ill informed and dangerous.  The campaign that campaigned for LEAVE was been found guilty of breaking electoral law. Yet those that want to leave say we must respect the vote and deliver the THING.

Back in the boardroom, if I was still advocating for the THING after I’d been shown to have broken the law and dumbed down all the facts, I wouldn’t just have been ignored, I’d have been fired.

Which brings us to today’s election.  We, the board members, must decide if the people behind this are an asset to our company or a liability: “Should I stay or should I go?” to quote one of Boris Johnson’s “favourite” bands.

I’ve worked for firms who have done the wrong thing. Nokia’s wrong decision cost me my job and the company everything. If we vote Boris Johnson back in office and he “Get’s Brexit Done” then it’s doing to be déjà-vu for me, all over again.

Should I stay or should I go?2019-12-12T12:26:42+00:00

Father and Son….

Succession planning?  Not very sexy is it?  Planning for the day when you retire, die, get fired or pushed aside in a boardroom coup.  Yet it’s essential.  All organisations need someone to take on the mantle of the person that started, founded or built it up from nothing.

So why do companies chose family members to do the work?  Why is it “Somebody and sons” on the label.  Why do they believe the children have the ability that their parent had?

And it’s not just companies.  Take the Monarchy, the oldest “firm” in the UK.  We’re going to get Charles at the helm of his mother’s “empire” at some point soon.  Sooner rather than later if we were to believe reports earlier this week that the queen was, in fact, dead.  But is he up to the job?  He’s 71 at time of writing; an age when most people would be looking to retire.  But they are well looked after these royals and seem to go on forever.  Queenie is 93 and Phil “the Greek” is 98.  Unless of course they have been replaced by look-alikes sometime in the early 2000s?

But I ask again, is he up to the job?  Sure he’s been brought up to take on the role, with perhaps the longest apprenticeship in history, but all we know about him is he’s a tree-hugger, and critic of modern architecture and an adulterer.  But what is the role anyway?

As an aside, today we find that Eddie Stobart’s trucking business is in trouble.  Eddie gave up the business to his sons in 1989 and since then they have done the usual company shit:  expanded, contracted, sold bits off and floated as a public company. Now we have two members of the family fighting over what is the best plan to stop a collapse. Plans being decided over by shareholders that, typically, don’t give a toss about anything other than their dividend.

Unions have called it “bandit capitalism” and investors have offered to help with a loan with a 25% interest rate. Talk about wanting their pound of flesh.

Perhaps the whole idea of succession planning should not automatically include family members, or whether they want to the same school, or came from the same social class?  Perhaps all positions should be decided on merit alone.

Father and Son….2019-12-06T08:45:57+00:00

I dreamed a dream

I’m in a very lucky position.  I’m not starving.  I don’t have to use food banks.  I don’t have much money coming in, but I have some money put-by when I had better days.  I have a home, it’s warm and I have a loving family.

I’ve just been watching videos from people at food banks asking how they will vote on December 12th.  Their comments are all based on “what can this party do better for me than another party?”. It’s that simple.  Which party can help these poor people?

I don’t have to think this way.  I can think about which party benefits society as a whole.  I can think about which party can give money to help the poor, pay for the NHS, or decide what level of tax people and companies pay.

Some of my friends have lots of income, others have very little.  Some of the high earners save for a rainy day, others spend like there is no tomorrow.  They make themselves “poor” (in their eyes) because of the huge expenses they have to pay out as a result of their lifestyle.  It’s their choice, so who am I to tell them what to do? It’s a free society.

But when my wealth friends (and let’s face it, they are wealthy – they just spend a lot) tell me that they cannot afford to pay a higher income tax, or feel wealthy people (like them) should not be forced to pay for the poor, the scroungers, the benefits frauds, then I get cross. When I hear that they have earned their wages and they should not have to pay more for others that have not worked hard enough, I get very cross.

I have always been happy to pay my taxes.  I’ve declared all of my income even when I could have “kept quiet” about some additional earnings from podcasting came my way.  I would be happy to pay more taxes.  If we can shut down food banks because they’re not needed anymore I would be pleased to know it’s down to my tax – that’s the society I want my taxes to pay for.

So, if you, like me, are blessed by being “comfortable”, then think about what you want society to be.  Think about whether it’s all about YOU, or whether you are prepared to fund a better life for OTHERS.  

If you like that idea, then congratulations, you have become a socialist. Now you can vote Labour and get a caring government, with caring policies. Admittedly I’m voting tactically for the Liberal Democrats again this year, but that’s because I live in a part of the country where there are few people that think like me – and fewer act like me.  Maybe one day my area will be socialist? Nah, who am I kidding.

I can still dream can’t I?

I dreamed a dream2019-12-05T10:59:46+00:00

Lost In The Supermarket?

So Sainsburys would like us to #ShopForOthers. Potentially a great sentiment when the need for food banks is greater than ever. But are they selling this food at cost price? Are they giving some away free themselves? Are they match funding? No. It’s just another way to boost their profits and it makes me sick.

I regularly shop at Sainsburys.  They hever have enough working tills and they keep trying to force me to use the SmartShop App where you basically do eveything yourself.  I just won’t do it. I’d like a human to do the checkout stuff please. Preferably a few more humans so I don’t have to wait so bloody long.  Yes, I can do it myself, but you’ll make everyone redundant and then how will the old non-tech-savvy customer buy their food? Who will they talk to in their lonely lives? I did say this to one of the staff and they completely poo-poo’d my argument.  “Good luck in your new job love, in about 12 months time”, I told her.

Having said that there’s a couple of members of staff in my local branch that have special needs – and you know what? They’re bloody excellent! Hard working, know their job and very, very friendly. I’s a joy to talk to them and they make the older customers feel cared for.

Contrast that with the BBC Documentary Inside the Supermarket, which follows the staff of the grocery chain for a year. The store staff are great, but the CEO, Mike Coupe, appears to be a complete wazzock! He clearly doesn’t listen to his staff and his customers when their views differ from his own.

So, rather than fuel Sainsburys profits, which not trot down to a Food Bank and see what they really need, and work out the best way for them to get it.  Are they partnered with other supermarket chains, like Tesco or Waitrose? Can you (and they) get food cheaper with them?

Yes we should Shop For Others, but do it ethically!

Lost In The Supermarket?2019-11-26T16:14:18+00:00

The Eye Of The Tiger?

You expect all the usual tropes during an election.  Candidates with their shirt sleeves rolled up (“I’m ready to do some work”), holding babies (“I’m a family person”) or shaking hands with supporters (“I’m one of the people).  And there’s the other one – in a boxing ring with gloves on.  “I’m ready to take on the fight and win” is the message of course, but how out-of-place do these candidates look in the ring?

The only politician known to have trained as a boxer was John Prescott and his most famous punch was outside the ring when an egg was thrown at him by a protester.

The others do look slightly ridiculous.  The only one that looks remotely like they have ever punched anyone is Boris Johnson, which is hardly a surprise, given his public school upbringing.

So why do we have these worn-out messages still being played out in 2019. Wouldn’t it be better is they showed someone replying to a facebook message with “LOL. Yeah Totes Babe! ROFL” or taking a selfie with a cat filter?

OK, just leave it to me then……











Update: 27th November 2019 Donald Trump himself sends out this picture.

You can’t make it up can you? Have you been reading this blog Donald?

Trump as Rocky

The Eye Of The Tiger?2019-11-27T21:25:51+00:00

Hava Nagila! (Let Us Rejoice!)


I quite like the daytime show Countdown. A simple words and numbers based competition between two nerdy competitors that has been running since the first minutes of Channel4’s existence. There’s also a night-time bawdy version called Eight Out Of Ten Cats Does Countdown, where comedians lark about whilst trying to do the quiz (usually badly).

Both feature Rachel Riley who is of Jewish decent, now married to a Russian.  She’s been very vocal on anti-Semitic (and anti-Zionist) issues over the last few years. Of course my position on this has been made abundantly clear.

But now she’s done too far. Firstly she has tweeted a photo of herself with a T-shirt saying

“Jeremy Corbyn is a Racist”

and then shortly afterwards photoshopped the message out of the picture.

Earlier in the year someone had tweeted that the Durham Miners Gala Brass Band played “Hava Nagila”, the folk song sung a Jewish celebrations. Rachel Riley then tweeted

“About as tasteful as showing Black Panther at a Klan Rally”.

I’ve already commented that Jewish music is part of my podcast lexicon, and will remain so. I have Jewish friends and would like to think I could enjoy their music as much as they enjoy mine.

There are calls today for Rachel Riley to be sacked.  Others have taken to Social Media to re-photoshop her T-shirt with alternative messages.  Is this the end of her career?

Rachel Riley Rachel Riley Rachel Riley

The fact is she’s due to go on maternity leave soon, and will, presumably, be off our screens for a while.  How long is not clear. I’d be happy with a period of say….. 50 years?

Bye Rachel!  You’ve been cancelled. At least in my house. Bring back Carol Vorderman!


Hava Nagila! (Let Us Rejoice!)2019-11-21T12:41:03+00:00

Dig Your Own Hole

Katie Hopkins, the ultra right-wing columnist and broadcaster recently said in an interview in The Times, that “Speaking my mind cost me my career” and that “her views have left her unemployable and living in the shadows”.  She was forced to sell her last house for £950,000 to pay off a legal bill in excess of £500,000. A bill she could have settled early by giving £5,000 to a migrant’s charity. Something she refused to do.

She is hated by many people and never really has a good word to say about anyone, apart from other ultra right-wingers, and, of course, Trump.

Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote, in a quote often attributed to Voltaire said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it“. This is the foundation of the freedom of speech in a democracy.

But is it true to say she has lost her career as a result of her right to a freedom of speech? She claims that 50% of her income comes from public speaking engagements, so there are definitely some people out there who want to listen to her.

She lost her job at LBC after tweeting there needed to be a “final solution” after the Manchester Arena terrorist attack.  Since then she just tweets words and videos as she sees fit, mostly unpleasant attacks on other faiths, races or people.

But is it OK to say such things? In a free society we all should be allowed to say these things (or the complete opposite) and take the rough with the smooth. This, she obviously has done.  It’s not as OK for an organisation such as LBC to continue giving her a salary to say such things.  Although, that said, they continue to have Nigel Farrage on their station.

My view is she deliberately overstepped the mark, in the full knowledge of what would happen.  Losing a job and a house is a natural consequence of that deliberate action.

Should she be allowed to continue to overstep the mark?  In my view, yes.  We don’t need to silence her. The more rubbish she spouts the less likely she is going to be listened to.  Let her dig her own hole.

Dig Your Own Hole2019-11-19T16:47:01+00:00

Do you wanna be in my gang?

Last night the “Grand Old Duke Of York” told the world that he wasn’t a paedophile and instead of having sex with an under-age girl he was having a Pizza in Woking.  Normally the “Royals” keep their mouths shut in the face of a scandal, but he decided to break protocol and give his side of the story.

It failed spectacularly. Today’s commentary is awash with people saying he failed to give a convincing performance, didn’t have good enough answers and couldn’t explain away the damning photograph of him with the victim.

Before the interview it was made clear the questions had been vetted by the security services, and was not under any oath, so getting to the “heart of the matter” was going to be impossible. The interviewer Emily Maitlis, tried her best to dig deeper, but left no doubt of her own position by looking deeply uncomfortable throughout.

So is it right to brand him as guilty before even a charge has been brought against him?  Clearly he’s lived in a complete bubble throughout his life. He was never the “heir” and just the “spare” for many years until the younger Royals have pushed him down the succession.  He was nicknamed “Randy Andy” by the press years ago and has been under a cloud ever since.  But is he guilty of something?  Can we ever find out? Can a charge of paedophilia ever be brought in a British court where it is The Crown versus …. The Crown?  It seems unlikely. Should we therefore presume innocence until guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt?

But why did he join Jeffrey Epstein’s circle of friends?  Surely he knew what was going on?  Any self-respecting person would run a mile from a situation where they could be linked to paedophilia, wouldn’t they?  Especially after they have been found guilty in a US court.  This is not just bad judgement.  This is someone who was reluctant to give up a lifestyle that they enjoyed.  They stayed friends and hoped that the Royal connection would keep it all hidden.  Being part of Epstein’s “gang” was something that should never have come out.

Scandal is nothing new to the Royal family, or to Britain.  Boris Johnson’s claim that he did not have an affair with Jennifer Arcuri  looks likely to blow open in the next few days.  Little is likely to change as a result of these revelations. Soon it will be buried under new stories in the broadcast media’s frantic search for 24×7 news.

But the big question is whether a “normal” person be allowed to get away with the same level of duplicity and survive unscathed. We really should be holding our “leaders” up to the same level of scrutiny as we hold for ourselves and asking of they are fit to hold the office that we, the country, pay for.

Do you wanna be in my gang?2019-11-17T12:55:43+00:00

So here it is …. Merry Christmas

The John Lewis 2019 Christmas Advert has just been released.  It features a dragon called Excitable Edgar, who proves to be a bit of a liability with anything flammable until Christmas Day when he sets alight to the brandy on the Christmas pudding. Already people are saying how it’s bringing a tear to their eyes, especially with the tag line:

“Show them how much you care”

But of course, it’s the cost of such an extravaganza which also captures the attention.  This year the cost remains roughly the same at £7 Million. The same as last year’s Elton John love-fest (of which Elton got £5 Million), 2017’s Moz the Monster and 2016’s Buster the Boxer.  That’s a cost of £19,178 per day, £799 per hour or £13.32 per second.  Given inflation, I suppose the cost is getting cheaper in real terms, but  given that the store who made a loss of £25.9 Million in the six months prior to 27th July 2019, and have made a lot of staff redundant, it seems a bit strange.

So why do firms do these things? Do they see it as a necessary service to provide? Is it a good return on investment, or is it a terrible thing to do to waste so much money that could be spent on good causes?

In 2018 filmmaker Phil Beastall re-released his own 2014 video called “Love Is A Gift” which he made for £50, which left more people in tears with a simpler, more heartfelt message. Many people suggested he create the 2019 John Lewis advert. Obviously he hasn’t been invited to do so.

Maybe 2019 will give us another alternative video message from a budding filmmaker?  One who understands that the Christmas message is about real people and real love and not about dragons, superstars or other monsters?  

Update 17th November. He’s done it again, and it’s brilliant!

I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but the poor, the elderly, the sick and the homeless could do a lot more with £7 Million pounds than John Lewis.

So here it is …. Merry Christmas2019-11-17T21:14:27+00:00


All of us have bands or tracks that we used to like, but which now seem a little embarrassing.   I have a copy of “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” by Paper Lace somewhere in the Garage.  Just awful.  In my defence, Is was only 13 when I bought it, and later that year I did go on to buy “Dark Side Of The Moon”, by Pink Floyd and “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk.  It was the worst of times, it was the best of times.

But it’s always a shock when someone you dislike ends up liking a band that you love.  When Johnny Marr found out that David Cameron liked The Smiths he said:

“David Cameron, stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don’t. I forbid you to like it.”

No comment from Morrissey on that at the time, but then again his views are appalling right-wing these days, so he may have been happy.

Now we find out that Boris Johnson likes The Clash.  Really?  Did you listen to the lyrics?

Did you really sing along to “Daddy was a Bank Robber” when your Pappa was at the World Bank?

Did you listen to “I Fought The Law” and thought…. actually I have ways to avoid all that?

Will you ever listen to “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?” and think OK, I’ll bugger off then?

What would Joe Strummer think of this revelation? I doubt he’d be happy.

When Joe was asked what he favourite lyric was he “Vacuum Cleaner Sucks Up Budgie” (from “The Magnificent Seven”) probably because it’s the least political and because he was being playful.

Well Boris, I don’t believe you like The Clash. I think its all spin. This vacuum cleaner sucks up Bullshit!


“We will teach our twisted speech
To the young believers
We will train our blue-eyed men
To be young believers”


It’s up to you, not to heed the call up

White Poppy for PeaceOnce again it’s Remembrance Day and I find myself conflicted.  

I give thanks that I live in a free society that I can say what I want, believe what I want and agree to disagree with the government.  That took a struggle, like WWWII. A struggle that cost lives and that probably was the only way to stop global rise of fascism. I fight I would have been expected to join, if I had lived at the time of my father.

Yet I would never fight for such a cause. I would never kill anyone to maintain one nation’s right to rule of another.  I’m a conscientious objector.  I will not pick up a gun because my government tells to do it.

So I would probably have gone to jail, possibly even shot.  Maybe I’d have gone “to the front” as a non-gun carrying stretcher bearer, determined to support the cause but not all of the means? Undoubtedly I’d have been labelled a coward. Afraid to fight. Those that know me well will know that I’m not afraid to fight. Quite the opposite. I have to maintain my anger sometimes to maintain my beliefs. I think all humans are capable of murder.  That doesn’t mean we should do it.

My father, thankfully, never saw active service in WWII. He was always “behind” the action. It’s an interesting story, which I may tell here one day. My maternal grandfather went to war in WWI. He won the George Cross for Heroism, after single-handedly taking out a German machine-gun emplacement after all his friends were killed. But was it bravery or a case of momentary madness.  He came home with what we would probably call PTSD these days. He never got help and was killed in a mining accident in 1928. He was 38. My mother was 4.

But when I see the politicians standing by the cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday I remember that wars are not started by men such as my father or grandfather. They’re started by fools who strive to get their own way at any cost. In the middle-ages Kings used to fight with their men. Not anymore. Now they watch from the sidelines and watch lines move from side to side on a map.

So when our leaders talk about the “sacrifice” that people have made to keep us safe I feel sickened. War is failure. The failure of leaders to give up on peace when more can still be done.  OK, you might not get what you wanted, but at least nobody dies. That’s the kind of “sacrifice” I want.  Compromise.

Remember your dead if that’s what you want to do, but I will be remembering the peace I had today, the peace I’ve had all my life and hoping the politicians will do the same.

It’s up to you, not to heed the call up2019-11-09T15:32:18+00:00

We can be heroes, just for one day

I spent two very happy years commuting back and forth to Berlin between 2010 and 2012. I’d never been to the city before and didn’t know what to expect. I was working in Mitte, the central district that featured The Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz, Checkpoint Charlie and Bernhauer Straße, scene of people jumping out of windows to get to the West in 1961.

It was a interesting place. The history was there for all to see.  Bullet holes still in buildings that had been there since World War II, and which had subsequently been used by the Stasi.  Plaques in the cobbled streets showing where holocaust victims had been taken to death camps. Sections of “Die Mauer” turned into art galleries. Disused factories and air-raid shelters that were used by squatters and turned into clubs, skate parts and climbing wall.  All sat next to a fenced-off railway siding that had still not been cleared of unexploded allied bombs.

During the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, I spent an unscheduled weekend wandering around bits of the city I’d not seen before.  But apart from a short walk through Kreutzberg I never really saw “The West”. After wards people asked me if I’d seen Kurfürstendamm, or if I’d been to The Zoo. I had no interest. The East was more interesting.  More different.  There were still some sad things to see, such as a dreadfully thin, clearly drugged up prostitute plying her trade and the armed guards standing outside the Synagogue on Oranienburger Straße in case of trouble. But, all-in-all, it was educational and emotional.

The other thing about Berlin that fascinated me was the population.  I was told the place was built for 8 million people, but has only housed around 4 million. You could be exempt from National Service if you lived in Berlin, so naturally it was full of lefties, artists & musicians. My idea of heaven. You could walk safely around the streets and see very few people.  Those I did talk to had great stories from the days before the Wall came down.

I know that many of the places I visited have now gone. Mitte was the prize in the eyes of so many real-estate agents and companies, the value of land being so cheap.  These locations will be homogenized into a typically western city look-and-feel. Close your eyes and you’ll have no idea where you are.  This is sad for a city that is as unique as Berlin.

So as 30 years since the fall of the Wall is celebrated, remember that this history will be gone soon, as will the people that lived it. If you get the chance, go and visit.  Experience it or yourselves, if only just for one day.

We can be heroes, just for one day2019-11-09T15:35:42+00:00

An Island In An Ocean Full Of Change

I’ve always been hard-left in my politics. If I believe in something, I tend to be “all-in” or not bother at all. As my mate Rowley says (about music I should add) “There’s only one way and that’s ALL-THE-WAY!”

The Centrist way got us Tony Blair (or Tony Bliar as I usually write it) which was good in parts (The Good Friday Agreement) but not so good in others (The invasion of Iraq). I thought Thatcher was an extremist in her policies, leading to some of the self-centred attitude of modern Britain.  I’d prefer something more socialist, more about the good of all, not just the pursuit of wealth.  But I appreciate I’m in the minority and as such I’ll rarely be heard above the centralist noise.  Until now.

Centralist MPs seem to be leaving their parties left-and-right.  Both say that their parties are becoming dominated by far-left or far-right factions.  All very wall, you might say.  At least there’s a clear alternative between the parties rather than the view that “they’re all the same”.  This is true.

What I suppose I had not considered is that with such polarized positions, the country would send up becoming split in the same way.  I had this hopeful view that common sense would prevail and extreme views would become ameliorated by the majority.  How naive of me.  We now have a divided society, which will continue to be divided long after we “get brexit done” and Britain is “dead in a ditch”.

So I’ve looked at tactical voting.  Can we get a consensus on at least righting the far-right in the Conservative and Brexit Parties?  Several websites have now appeared that suggest they can help you decide which party to vote for.  However they too disagree over the recommendations. suggests I vote Lib Dem. suggests I vote Labour.  Bother argue about their data being more accurate. Both disagree.  Where does this leave me?

In some locations the decision to form an electoral pact may help me. The Lib Dem, Plaid Cymru and the Green Parties are working together to limit competition in some seats.  Sadly, not my constituency.

Maybe the opinion of the tactical voting sites will converge as the campaign continues?  However I feel I will have to “wing it” as usual, hope others do the same and hope The Conservatives lose the election. 

An Island In An Ocean Full Of Change2019-11-07T09:42:59+00:00


I like reading autobiographies.  It always seems that someone else’s life is more interesting than my own.  The last couple I’ve enjoyed were by Elton John and Edward Snowdon.

The first revelation was that Elton John is actually quite funny. I had a suspicion that the book “Me” was dictated from audio conversations and ghost-written, and indeed it does appear that GQ’s former music editor Alexis Petridis did the honours.  That said, both Alex and Elton have produced a thoroughly entertaining book that is funny, sad, and does not hold back anything.  If you’ve seen Rocketman then you’ll be familiar with parts of the story, but the book tells the whole tale without fast forwarding or missing out the later chapters.  He may have “been a cunt since 1975” but he’s not anymore and he’s making amends.

The second revelation is that Elton John is still alive.  The sheer amount of cocaine and alcohol the man consumed, the number of partners he had sex with during the AIDS outbreak, his insane temper tantrums and his struggles will bulimia make you appreciate he’s got an iron constitution (and is bloody lucky).

All-in-all it’s a happy ending for both Elton and the reader. 

This is in contrast with Edward Snowdon’s “Permanent Record”.  Snowdon’s revelations send shivers down your spine.  If you’ve ever thought (as I have) that your political views may have been singled out at some point by the security services then you can rest easy.  In fact everyone’s views, political or not, have been captured by the NSA.  Not just the loony-lefties like me, but everyone.  If you’ve got a computer with an operating system from Microsoft (check), or a Google email (check), have purchased anything from Amazon (check) or entered any details into an Oracle database (hell, I worked for them for 17 years!) then you’re in the system.  The fact that it’s a crime is irrelevant. It’s happened.

It doesn’t mean that they’ve taken an interest in you just yet, but they have collected your data, just in case you do something in the future. Just as the Wayback Machine can show you what a website looked like back in the day, they can recall all your digital history and just like Minority Report your “pre-crimes” will be planned out if you do become a person of interest.

How do you become a person of interest?? According to Snowden if you type in XKEYSCORE into a browser then “then congrats: you’re in the system, a victim of your own curiosity”.   To be honest you’re probably in the system just associating with me.

What gets me is how Snowden decided to sacrifice everything to be the whistleblower on these crimes.  He gave up his country, his family, his girlfriend. Everything, just so we could all know the truth.  I know I couldn’t do that.  My wife is my rock, the only solid piece of ground in a society built on shifting sand.  I could not afford to leave that rock behind.

As it turns out Snowden’s girlfriend followed his to Russia, where he is now exiled, and they are now married. I’m not sure it’s quite a happy ending, but it’s as close as you might expect given the circumstances.

Maybe one day I will write my autobiography. I’m still not sure Gateshead in the 1970’s is quite as cool as you might think!


Dirty Cash

According to an article in the Guardian Super-rich prepare to leave UK ‘within minutes’ if Labour wins election.  Not all of these super-rich will be UK citizens of course, and are free to chose where they want to live based on all manner of things.

But let’s take a look at those that are UK citizens.  Labour singled-out 5 individuals who would be targeted with by a Labour government.  Mike Ashley, the billionaire owner of Sports Direct and Newcastle United, is one of those targeted. Another is Rupert Murdoch, although the “charge sheet” against all of them is pretty damning.

So would the country be worse off without these people?  No doubt they are already practicing tax avoidance schemes already, so the lost tax revenue will be minimal. The real question is whether they will close down their UK businesses?

Personally I doubt it. Ashley needs his Sports Direct Empire to remain in the UK despite any government action. I personally never shop there as I find their good to be crap and their sales staff incompetent (no doubt because of little or no training) so it will have no effect on me.  In fact I’d rather someone else took the business over and put a stop to all the bad practices.

As for Murdoch, his business will never leave the UK.  He is addicted to selling the masses a political fiction in support of the right-wing and that will never change.

But will the country be poorer for having these people move abroad? We’re always told that we need entrepreneurs to make money and let the “trickle-down” effect mean that the money goes into the pockets of the average person. I’m not sure the person on a zero-hours contract at Sports Direct would agree with that,  or the person who’s been evicted by Hugh the 7th Duke of Westminster , to make way for luxury apartments.

No, if these gentlemen (and let’s face it they are usually men) want to leave then feel free chaps. I want a better society where people like you don’t exist anyway, so they will be doing me a favour.  

We deserve better people, with better values who contribute to society, not just their own pockets.

Dirty Cash2019-11-02T13:22:54+00:00

Won’t Get Fooled Again?

It’s not Brexit day (again) but for many it is the first day campaigning for the December 2019 election.  Yet the BBC says that up to 50 MPs are standing down. Some are obvious candidates, such as my MP Nicolas Soames, who lost the whip earlier in the year and is way past his sell-buy date in any case.

Others appear to be standing up for their “conscience” and leaving politics at a time when it’s seen to be at an all-time low. Even Boris Johnson’s own brother, who resigned from the cabinet, has now decided to call it a day.

It’s normal for this to happen, however. The BBC report details that around 90 MPs left before the 2015 election and a whopping 150 left in 2010. It’s got to be a tough job being an MP. Days away from your families, constant travelling, interviews, meeting people you hate and the sheer boredom of the commons chamber sometimes. I admire those that truly do make a difference, like Jess Phillips, and MP based on Birmingham.

But while we a say a fond farewell (or a good riddance) to some MPs we need to be careful what we wish for.  MP selection is a party political process and in today’s climate will be as Machiavellian as possible.  I’m prepared for a complete SHIT to be the Conservative choice for my neck of the woods. Is have no idea who he/she they will be but they will be completely pro-Boris, pro-Brexit and terrifyingly right-wing.

My heart will always be socialist, but they will never win in this location.  So, do I tactically vote for the Liberal Democrats and possibly tip the apple cart, or do I vote with my heart and symbolically “piss into the wind”. I did vote Lib Dem before, in 2010 and Nick Clegg sold the party for a few pieces of silver and suffered the consequences.

My Lib Dem MP put a flyer through my door the other day. The first I heard of it was it hitting the doormat.  No cold call to chat over the issues.  No-one does that anymore.  Instead politics becomes the topic s du-jour of local facebook groups.  Left and Right slug it out, amidst neighbours trying to sell last-years tat in order to give their kids a more extravagant Christmas.

This year my local group has put up a referendum on whether political posts will be banned from the group.  So far it’s looks like a complete ban is likely.  It’s going to be an enormous job for the group admins. Some people will just not take NO for an answer and there are some particularly unpleasant people in the group. I was an admin once. Never again.

Today Twitter have announced that all Political Advertising will be banned globally. Of course they are thumbing their nose at Facebook who recently said they will allow fake-news adverts.  Plus unpaid opinion (like this one) will probably go unchecked.

So where will we get the unbiased news?   The critical comment? The deep dive into the carefully crafted sound-byte?  Well not the tabloids that is for sure as yesterday’s headlines showed. 

Now is the time for us to be critical of everything we read.  If in doubt ask yourself “who gains from this”.  Buckle up. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Won’t Get Fooled Again?2019-10-31T10:15:50+00:00

You’re so vain!

As a Brit I’m naturally self-deprecating.   I say “sorry” when something that is not my fault.  I say “I must not have explained that properly” when I’m talking to someone who is stupid to understand.  I smile politely when someone breaks the rules when I’m driving *.

I don’t tend to like people that are narcissists.  Most of the leaders of the companies I’ve worked with have that degree of self-assurance and self-importance that leaves me cold.  I’m told “It’s OK, they are geniuses”.  Some of the senior management adopt this attitude as well, despite proving that the genius gene has never been observed in any of their decisions. 

Yesterday I read an article about Psychologist Dr Kostas Papageorgiou, from Queen’s University Belfast. It says narcissists have grandiose delusions about their own importance, are horrible people and an absence of shame. However it goes on to say, surprisingly perhaps, they are also likely to be happier than most people. They are less like to suffer from depression

The biggest narcissist on this planet is of course Donald Trump.  He takes credit for things that other people have achieved.  He’s made up stories that make him seem to be a good person.  He’s claimed he’s made lots of money.  Most of these things are unlikely to be true, but he keeps repeating his fake news and some people believe it.  Especially himself.  But is he happy?  Who will ever know?

So why do some people behave this way?  What do they hope achieve?  Papageorgiou suggests this may be an evolutionary trait developed to protect us against attack.  But surely people attack narcissists more?  Isn’t that asking for trouble?

I read Erving Goffman’s book “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life” back in the 1980’s when I was studying for my Open University degree in Social Science.  I was fascinated by the way we all “perform” differently depending on the “situation”.   Following that logic, narcissism is just a way of react to the situation.  Believing you are the best is a strategy in order to become the best.

Certainly it would be nice to have a life where there’s more happiness, where I have more self-belief but I’m not sure if I want to become a narcissist.  There are more people I know who have achieved greatness without becoming one.  

Piers Morgan is perhaps the UK’s most well known narcissist. A pseudo-journalist, implicated in phone-hacking, who is currently on vacation from his stint on ITV’s Good Morning. Recently there have been petitions set up to have him fired, and counter-petitions to keep him working.  He’s provocative, combative, rude and consistently talks over interviewees who he disagrees with.  So why do people like him?  Because he’s “entertaining”?  Because he’s not “boring like the BBC”?  Since when did “entertaining” become more important than the truth?

What irks me most about Trump and Morgan is that they both believe they have a right to say what they want because they are famous.  Because they are famous they must have a more valid opinion than anyone else. Because they are famous they must be right.  

We are living now in a post-truth world.  The world is just a myriad of opinions.  Just like the one you’ve just been reading. 

So what is your opinion?  Are you a narcissist?  Are you happy?

Cup of tea anyone? Well I did say I was British**.  


* Actually that is a barefaced lie.  I shout and use hand-gestures.  I’m not a saint.

** Sorry I don’t really like tea, but that would ruin the ending wouldn’t it.

You’re so vain!2019-10-29T21:30:39+00:00


“You better think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me…..”

So we now have the option of another delay in leaving the EU. We could have a general election before then. We could have a people’s vote to confirm if we still want to do this. We could have both at the same time.

Election manifestos will be written, promises given, hands shaken, babies help and shirt sleeves will be rolled up. But will there be time to think?

There’s been no economic assessment shared with the country as to the effects of leaving the EU. We don’t know the strengths of that position, or its weaknesses. What opportunities will arise if we do it, and what will threaten us if we leave?

I am in no doubt an economic assessment HAS been done but it’s not been released because it will show the stupidity of the move economically, politically, environmentally, technically, legally and socially. So why don’t the opponents of Brexit formulate their own?

Now we have three months to THINK about these things isn’t it time we had these arguments presented, rather than just the rhetoric of “get Brexit done” or “take back control”. I do not think it’s a good idea to jump off a cliff because 50% of the public voted for it. No shout of “get on with it” will help.

Present me with an argument that there’s a lovely warm lake at the bottom the cliff, or that you’ve inflated a great big crash mat then I may consider the possibility. It might be a wild ride. It might even be nicer down in the valley than on the hilltop. But it could be suicide.

So Boris, Jeremy, Jo, Ian, Nigel, Liz and Caroline…. tell me what you think and why and give me time to decide. No headlines. A full essay please, with constructive and critical argument. And no, your dog cannot eat your homework.


Please don’t let me be misunderstood

I believe Israel is a rouge state.  They have a rogue government.  It does terrible things to people in Palestine. It moves Palestinians out of their homes to enable Israelis to move in. It builds on disputed areas of land and moves settlers in. It gets away with murder. Literally.

I believe this makes me an anti-Zionist. It does not mean I’m anti-Semitic.  I have Jewish friends. I love Jewish music. I know the holocaust happened and it was an abhorrent act that should never be repeated, against anyone. I cried when I saw the small plaques embedded into the cobbled streets of Berlin, naming the Jews who had been taken away to concentration camps. The Jewish people need to feel safe in their historic homeland and around the world. Faith-based hate is wrong.

But because I say this out loud I will be branded by some to be an anti-Semite, anti-Jewish, a Fascist.  It’s a knee-jerk reaction. “Well he must be anti-Semitic if he believes that”.  

I also believe North Korea is a rogue state.  As is Iraq.  As is Syria. When Aung San Suu Kyi became Myanmar’s leader I thought that would be a great thing, but then she allowed the massacre of a Muslim minority.  Another rogue action.

Yet, I will not be called out as an anti-Muslim, anti-Communist or anti-Buddhist to the same degree, as I will be called an anti-Semite.  Yet it happens every time, to whoever makes the comment that Israel is bad.  It serves to muddy the waters, make the argument less legitimate and more racist, and make it difficult for decent people and politicians to stand up for the anti-Zionist cause.

Does The Labour Party have an anti-Semitic problem?  Yes it does.  All organisations of people have divisions, based on fear of difference, colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation and wealth, to name but a few.  The Jews have been stigmatised for centuries and the stench of that persecution still pervades today. 

The Labour party needs to root anti-Semitism out. I However, it does not need to stop saying its anti-Zionist.  It should be proud to face down rogue nations – all rogue nations – and those that support those rogue nations, such as the USA and Saudi Arabia.

Hate me for saying this if you want, but don’t let me be misunderstood.



Please don’t let me be misunderstood2019-10-29T21:30:39+00:00

No One’s Illegal

I was born in Newcastle.  In the UK.   In 1961.  On a Monday.  The number 1 on the UK charts was “I Love You” by Cliff Richard.  If I’d been born a few days earlier it would have been “It’s now or never” by Elvis Presley.  If I’d been born 80 miles north I’d have been Scottish.  If I’d been a girl I’d be called Wendy (or was it Sandra, I can’t remember).

Yesterday we found out that the 39 people found dead in a truck in Essex came from China.   They could have come from Syria or Mexico, or from the Moon for that matter.  They were “illegal” immigrants. They were not meant to be here.  Or so we’re told.

Some of the earliest humans lived in what is now Ethiopia.  The “cradle of civilisation” was located in what is now Iraq. People have been migrating for tens of thousands of years.   All of the countries of “The West” were populated through migration.

You can’t see the borders of countries from space. A visiting alien would not know which country was which when they observed from orbit.  The earth is just a beautiful blue globe floating in space. Unless you believe the flat earth theorists, but I’m not going there.

So why do we have to view people as “illegal”. Is it because we don’t want to pay for them?   Some studies suggest that migration is good for the economy.  Is it because we don’t understand their values?  Are our values so much better?  Who decides?

The point is simple.  No-one decides where they are born, when they are born, whether they are rich or poor, powerful or powerless.  It’s a human trait that we want our children to have a better life than we’d had.  So, some people decide to migrate to another location.  Some risk prison, deportation or death to make this happen.  They spend all that they have to some low-life wanting to make a fortune out of their “illegal” status.

So before we make a decision that someone is “illegal” or should “go back to where they came from”, remember it’s only a twist of fate that made you who you are. 

If the sea levels keep rising due to global warming some of the places that we live in may become uninhabitable. It could be you migrating next. It could be you that is considered “illegal”.

Show some compassion.

No One’s Illegal2019-10-29T21:30:39+00:00

What do you want from life?

When I was younger I identified with Marxism in it’s purest sense.  A explanation of society in terms of those that owned the means of production, and those that did not, fuelled by a pursuit of profit.  Was this a good way to run a society? I wondered.  What about the sick, the unemployed, the poor? Why should those that “own” something be the only people to reap the rewards?  Was capitalism the only way forward?

Obviously different models had been tried.  The centrally controlled economies in Chinese and the Soviet backed countries were still strong, and seemed more egalitarian. At least, as long as you agreed with the political doctrine.  Societies could be controlled within borders through news media and the police.  Stay true to the Marxist ideals and you can be as happy (or perhaps as miserable) as anyone else.

Thatcher (and Reagan) said “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families“, and so we became a nation of shareholders in British Gas, British Telecom and other British Institutions.  We put up boundaries between us and our neighbours. They were not us, therefore we did not need to care for them.

It’s a far cry from when National Insurance was devised after WWII. From the founding days of the NHS and the “world fit for heros”.

I’ve spent my entire life thinking differently from those around me.  For those that espouse “Free Markets”, I see the destruction of towns and cities because coal is cheaper from Taiwan, and there is no consideration of the effects of unemployment and poor health.  For those that decide that we need a “War on Terror” I see the underlying “War for resources” that America is really waging to keep the country’s gas-tanks full of Iraqi oil.

And so we come to Brexit. It’s not about whether we should be “in” or “out” anymore. It’s not about “the will of the people” or “honouring the result of the referendum“.  I ask myself “what sort of society do I want now?”  Is it one where we collaborate, we seek solutions, we agree to disagree, or is it one where no MP is safe from being assaulted at their place of work, or no person is safe from being labelled a “snowflake” or a “remoaner” by a narcissistic pseudo-journalist on breakfast television.

British society cannot be controlled within borders anymore. Nor by news media. We’re free to believe what we want, but all we hear is soundbytes of anger, snippets of rhetoric and the carefully crafted marketing terms of shadowy political spin-doctors. Imported new-speak from people who want to “break” the existing structure, before imposing a terrifying new one.

When I was a 16 year old writing essays for my O-Level exams I was encouraged to “compare and contrast” viewpoints. I had to assess arguments for “coherence and consistency”. Later I learned to assess “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunites and Threats”. A failure to recognise and understand an alternative point of view was marked down.

We don’t do that anymore in our society. We should.

What do you want from life?2019-10-29T21:30:39+00:00

Don’t Fear The Reaper

Shortly before his death my Father asked me to end his life.  It was a surprise.  This was a man with a Christian faith.  He’d never mentioned suicide or euthanasia before.  But he knew the end was going to be hard.  He was finding it difficult to eat without coughing and the doctors glibly talked about feeding tubes and thickened drinks that would suppress the worn out valve designed to stop food and drink entering his lungs.

As calmly as I could I told them that a feeding tube would be cruel and it was not to be fitted.  My Dad just wanted a cup of tea, but I was told that was impossible.  No more tea for him.  Ever.

He died a few days later.  He just slipped away in the arms of two nurses during a routine bed-bath.  We had agreed a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order was in place.  No CPR.  No panic.  Just a calm end to a noble life.

Today I read the headline “Paralympic gold medallist Marieke Vervoort ends her life in Belgium” and it all comes flooding back.

I’d never heard of medallist Marieke Vervoort before but it seems she lived unbroken pain from an incurable, degenerative spinal disease and epileptic seizures.  She had signed papers allowing a Doctor to end her life when she said so. That happened last night.  She was 40.

As a person of some-time faith, I was (and still am) angry with a God that allows so much suffering in this world. His/her mysterious ways baffle me. Why is taking your own life such a sin?

I don’t want to endure what my parents endured.  My mother slowly “died” of dementia for 9 years before she finally breathed her last breath.  I want to say when enough is enough. I’m not frightened of dying.

It doesn’t mean I’m ready to go yet. I have plenty more gigs to see, beers to drink, dances to dance and meals to eat.  I’m not sick, apart from the odd bout of melancholia every now and again.  It’s still worth getting up in the morning and trying to help others.

But when I want to go, I want to go.  I don’t want it to be illegal that I take my own life, or have someone help me. I want the same rights in the UK as they have in Belgium.

Will I be judged by my some-time God when it’s over?  Maybe he will come back to me and advise me when the time is close.  Maybe we’ll meet on the other side when I can really see how vengeful or forgiving he is. Maybe I’ll just go to sleep and never wake up.

Time will tell.

Don’t Fear The Reaper2019-10-29T21:30:39+00:00

A Message to you….. Harry

I can see you’re having a tough time at the moment. I’m not surprised considering all you’ve been put through throughout your life. You didn’t want to grow up in the spotlight. No-one chooses who they’re born to, and you’re no different.

Watching your parents’ divorce was hard, as it is for many children. Then to lose your mother so early, and in such a horrific way didn’t help things. Then being forced to walk behind her coffin in full glare of the public, because your Father expected it, was cruel. Watching your Father then marry the woman who broke up your parent’s marriage must have hurt like hell.

Nevertheless things have turned out alright in some ways. You have a beautiful wife and baby a lot of people love you. But you and Meghan knew the British press would elevate and then eviscerate you. That’s what they do. It’s cruel and unfair for anyone who’s remotely a “celebrity”. I want it to stop, like you do.

You say your Brother is on “another path”. That was always the way. There is no way you’re going to be a King. He will also be under terrible stress as will his wife and children. But you don’t need to accept it.

So why are you putting yourself through this? You don’t need to. Meghan has enough money to keep you in a comfortable life. You don’t need the civil list. You don’t need to spend millions of pounds of the country’s money flying around the world hounded by the paparazzi.

Think of your own mental health, and that of your wife and child. Give up on this foolish “duty” that your Grandmother and Father have instilled into you. Do what needs to be done. Resign from the Royal family and move away to America, Africa or somewhere away from the British press. They will follow you at first, but then they will eventually forget you. You will be free to live your own life.

Do what normal people do. Get a normal job. Fly a helicopter again. Save lives in search and rescue. Become the head of a charity. Your CV is impressive. You’ll have no shortage of job offers.

For the sake of your own sanity, walk away.

A Message to you….. Harry2019-10-29T21:30:39+00:00

No Facebook, No Cry

Yesterday I stopped using Facebook for personal postings.  I’ve been thinking about this for a while, especially when I read the bilge written in certain facebook groups. I don’t need this in my life.

I’m still using Facebook for various projects I’m involved in, and for podcast promotions, but no-more pictures of me wittering on about politics. For that please see my Twitter Page or here, on my personal website, where I shall espouse my opinion on all things #Brexit, #Trump, or whatever f-ing stupid ideas I take umbrage with.

No Facebook, No Cry2019-10-29T21:30:40+00:00
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