Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dining with Donors in Downing Street

What's all the fuss about, we may ask, when reading of the Peter Cruddas resignation and the tales of exactly how the UK governing class are said to be interacting with those who finance their hopes of re-election? Isn't that what politicians do? Of course, there may be no defending the attributed comments as to how much cash would be necessary to rub shoulders at the highest level, but it all has an air of farce about it. A tale of merriment for the coming of spring. Which neatly leads into a parody of Poisoning Pigeons In The Park, one of Tom Lehrer's finest works: -

Spring is here, spring is here
Life is skittles and life is beer
I think the loveliest time of the year
Is the spring. I do. Don't you? Course you do.
But there's one thing that makes spring complete for me
That makes every springtime a treat for me

All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon
When we're dining with donors in Downing Street
Every weekend you'll see
My Chancellor and me
As we're dining with donors in Downing Street
When we see them coming
We really should try and hide
But we still go for wallets
With great power to buy inside
The future is bright
Everything seems so right
When we're dining with donors in Downing Street

We've gained notoriety
And caused much anxiety
In ordinary society
With our games
They call it impiety
And lack of propriety
And quite a variety
Of unpleasant names
But we care not a jot for these moaners
When we're wining and dining the donors

So if Sunday you're free
You'll see George, Sam and me
When we're dining with donors in Downing Street
And we'll set a pew
For a tycoon or two
When we're dining with donors in Downing Street
We'll rake in their cash amid laughter and merriment -
The logical sequel to Labour's experiment -
Our pulse will go funny
When we're shown the money
Ignoring the groaners
The whingers and moaners
We're dining the donors in Downing Street!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Born on 19 March - Me and Who Else?

Today (assuming the time delayed posting system works) (PS: no it doesn't) is the occasion of a milestone birthday. Out of curiosity, who shares it?

Of the living, it seems that Bruce Willis and Glenn Close – two distinguished but very different members of the film industry – are the most famous individuals born on 19 March and still alive. Not that I’ve ever been tempted to boil a rabbit, of course, but the Die Hard series has always been a favourite.

Then we have Patrick McGoohan, most famous for The Prisoner and the symbolic cry “I am not a number. I am a free man!” Yes, there’s a good one. An absolute paragon of the nonconformist, maverick, free thinker who would have been a perfect character for Hatred, Ridicule & Contempt if the fictional firm of Thornbury & Summerson had been riddled with control freaks, spy cameras and a managing partner who called himself Number 2.

And just as notable here is the explorer David Livingstone, the first European to view Victoria Falls. Quite a coincidence, really. If all goes to plan I will have just seen Victoria Falls before arriving in South Africa for the day itself. A game drive and a pint - what could be better?

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Hatred, Ridicule & Contempt: The Editor Strikes Back

Black Country Herald editor Bill Holroyd is in the witness box, undergoing cross-examination from Noel Adams QC on behalf of Jonjo Donnelly...

“Please wait there, Mr Holroyd.”

Campbell had finished guiding the editor through his main statement, and the supplementary statement that had been assembled in his name to introduce and explain the press reports on the libel actions that he had seen off at trial in his earlier career. Adams stood up to resume his duties on behalf of Donnelly, and after a few points of minor clarification and historical enquiry he moved on to a line of questioning that had arisen in the course of Tedd’s evidence. Alex had noted that it was unlikely to have been forgotten and hoped that Holroyd was well prepared to meet it.

“Is it correct, Mr Holroyd, that you had a framed quotation on your wall that spoke of embellishing news?”

Holroyd paused, knowing in his own mind that this issue had been almost certain to come up after first seeing the light of day in Tedd’s evidence. He was still left wondering, without any likelihood of an answer, how the manner in which he had decorated his old office had come to the attention of his opponents.

“Yes, I did.”

“And the text of the quotation ran ‘Emphasise the sensational. Elaborate on the facts. Manufacture the news. Use games and contests to sell papers’?”

“That’s correct, as far as I recall.” Holroyd wondered if the issue would be left at that, as Alex had thought it might, in which case he would anticipate a re-examination question from Campbell at the end. But it was not to be. And Holroyd was going to have his moment.

“So these were clearly principles that you set out to follow in your career as a tabloid editor, then?”

“I was only following one principle, actually.”

“And what was that?”

“It was the principle of never antagonising my employer. The owner of the paper brought that back from the Hearst Castle in California and had it framed for my birthday. What you are speaking of is a quotation from a newspaper baron called William Randolph Hearst.”

It was clear to Alex that the editor had struck an unexpected and effective blow. There had been a snigger from the direction of the jury, quickly suppressed with one glance from the judge. Adams waited for silence to prevail again. If he had made a mistake, he did not let it show.

“Let us move on to another feature of your career as a tabloid editor…”

But did Holroyd's success in the first skirmish lead to overall victory in the legal battle? To find out, click here...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Matt Cardle On Tour - with Roxanne Emery

OK, no gratuitous plug for Hatred, Ridicule & Contempt this time. Just a review of a memorable show at Birmingham Symphony Hall, starring a modest, all round nice bloke with what should be a long and successful musical career ahead of him.

So what's special about Matt Cardle? Isn't he just another X Factor clone, some might ask? Well, no. The TV episode when he played the acoustic guitar to "Hit Me Baby One More Time" was clearly just a prelude to his ability to hold his own on the electric with his band - think Bryan Adams. And indeed to dust down the acoustic once more for the unaccompanied encore "When We Collide". And he writes his own songs. Oh yes, and there's always the voice.

Let's keep an eye out for Roxanne Emery too. With all due credit to the many female singers who have also emerged from The X Factor, how many of them are known for their guitar skills when fronting a band? No bored indifference for this support act.

Keep it up, both of you. Modern music needs more people like Matt Cardle and Roxanne Emery.