BUSHELL ON THE BLOG
Jan 31. R.I.P. Sir Terry Wogan, a brilliant broadcaster and naturally funny man whose gentle mockery made Eurovision almost watchable. I witnessed his consummate professionalism up close on a number of TV show and had the good fortunate to be a guest on his BBC1 chatshow in the late 80s. Even when the soothing fog of alcohol had descended (which became more frequent towards the end – and possibly why I got booked), El Tel always held it together. The stand-out Wogan show moments were of course Georgie Best turning up three sheets to the wind in 1990 and the following year when Terry asked David Icke about reports that he had claimed to be "the son of God" a year later. Icke took the audience laughter as approval. "They are laughing at you," Wogan told him. "Not with you."
R.I.P. also Frank Finlay, a fine actor remembered mostly for Bouquet Of Barbed Wire but a stunning Iago. He should have been knighted too.
Is 'Cameron enters son for top private school' really a newspaper splash? It is dog-bites-man stuff. Privileged toff sends child to public school. That's not a story. Toff sends kid to local comp, that's a story. (Alleged socialists who sent their kids to private schools include Vanessa Redgrave, Diane Abbott and Ruth Kelly. They hate selective education unless it suits them, which is why Corbyn's pal Seamus Milne sent his kids to grammar schools. One rule for them and another one for us…)
Jan 27. I'll review the Mad World Of Donald Trump elsewhere, but isn't it odd that TV only singles out populist 'right-wing' politicians for this kind of drubbing? We had Bonkers Brown in Number Ten yet we call Trump crazy. Trump is all wind and piss of course; all bluster and swagger with few concrete policies. When he is asked about the cost of his economic ideas the silence is deafening, which is understandable as the cost his proposed tariffs against China would probably be global slump and World War III. He lacks the nous to make entirely logical policies, such as securing national borders, sound sane and sensible. Trump won't become President, however; Hillary will. What sets apart the Donald – and in their different ways smart libertarian Rand Paul and crusty New York socialist Bernie Sanders – is that he is not part of the US political establishment. He appeals to the angry and disaffected, the everyday working and middle class folk who the system is screwing. Clinton on the other hand is a continuation of the status quo: trade deficits, uncontrolled illegal immigration and a neo-con foreign policy as practised by Bush and continued by Obama; all that New World Order bull that our mainstream politicians have also signed up for irrespective of party. That's why Hillary should worry us far more than Trump. The Republicans' most electable candidate is Marco Rubio, but he's trailing in third and has a mountain to climb. The Grand Old Party looks nearly as fragmented as Syria. Their problem is they can't win with Donald Trump, but they can't win without his supporters.
Donald Trump says he is against U.S. jobs being exported. David Letterman playfully but effectively exposed his hypocrisy when the Donald came on the Late Show to plug his menswear line. Trump's shirts, Letterman noted, were manufactured in Bangladesh, the ties were from China. America first indeed.
Jan 24. What was the hottest new track of 2015? My song of the year show is up now and in the mix are choice offerings from The Spitfires, The Featherz, Iron Chin, Loaded 44, the Graveltones, Amphetameanies, All The King's Men, Alias Kid, the Cundeez, Christine 'Sugary' Staple, the Ming City Rockers and many more... with foul-mouthed and bolshy judges Jonny Wah Wah Taylor and Wattsie Watts calling the shots. Hear the battle play out here.
I recorded another podcast on Friday with Dave Ruffy and Segs from Ruts DC talking about the hefty Ruts biography Love In Vain. The lousy bums still owe me financial compensation for extreme emotional stress caused by an outrageous 3am raid on my hotel bedroom in 1979... I'll let you know when it's posted.
Jan 23. Here's a pukka January sale. I'm selling copies of my last Harry Tyler novel Facedown for just £4.99 plus p&p while stocks last. Facedown has been dubbed "fists-up, pants-down lads' noir", "violent, sleazy and wickedly funny" and "Mickey Spillane meets Micky Flanagan"... (they missed the tender romance completely then, cough). It concludes the Harry Tyler trilogy but can be read as a stand-alone book. You can order it direct from here.
Jan 19. More rotten news. Mott the Hoople drummer Dale 'Buffin' Griffin and Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey have died, both 67. Buffin passed away on Sunday in his sleep after a long battle with Alzheimer's. He was a founder member of Mott and one of the nicest blokes in rock. Glenn Frey 'succumbed to complications from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and pneumonia', according to a band statement. R.I.P. both.
Jan 15. Wikipedia has just turned 15. Hurrah! What an achievement! Although I'm not entirely sure we should believe that as I read it on Wikipedia.
Jan 14. R.I.P. Alan Rickman, a fine actor and a council estate kid made good. Rickman was 69, Bowie was 69... and there was me thinking my wife asking if I fancied "joining the 69 club tonight" was a good thing...
Jan 13. Should England sports teams have an English national anthem? Of course! I've been advocating it since the 1990s and finally MPs have caught up. When Wales and Scotland have their own anthems why should England use the British one? The same is also true of parliaments...
The obvious first choice for an English national anthem is Jerusalem, with I Vow To Thee My Country a close second. But if we want a song that's a little livelier, how about England Belongs To Me by Cock Sparrer, Spirit of England by Jeniera & The Blades or the Gonads' own Line In The Sand: England is in trouble, a nation under threat/They don't care what you believe, they want you to forget/You've been pushed around for far too long/You've been pushed so far, but no further/Yes, there'll always be an England, but it's up to us to make a stand/
Yeah, there'll always be an England, but it's time to draw a line in the sand...
Stock markets around the world are collapsing, much like the credibility of the Schengen agreement and voter confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. Isn't it odd that Labour's dismal leader is willing for his party to debate Trident but not Britain's membership of that corrupt racket the European Union?
Jan 11. David Bowie once sang 'My Death', a cover of Jacques Brel's 'La Morte', but nothing quite prepares you for the shock of it. As I write, the radio is wall-to-wall Bowie - a vast improvement - and TV is going to town about the demise of this giant of English pop. Many extravagant claims will be made, but the proof of David Bowie's genius lives on in his songs. I don't really care too much about who he shagged or what he snorted, it's the music that matters. Classic numbers like 'Heroes' and 'Sound & Vision' still touch the heart. Bowie had the rare ability to marry intelligent lyrics with magnificent tunes. His legacy stretches from the perfect pop of 'Let's Dance' and 'China Girl' to the golden years (sorry) of the early 70s when he churned out anthem after teenage anthem: 'Rock 'n' Roll Suicide', 'Five Years', 'Starman', 'Ziggy Stardust', 'Quicksand', 'Drive-In Saturday', 'The Supermen', 'The Man Who Sold The World', 'Changes', 'Oh You Pretty Things'... how long have you got? He was so gifted he even gave away arguably his greatest song 'All The Young Dudes', which became Mott The Hoople's greatest hit. I won't go on. More than enough commentators will have something to say. But the former David Jones was part of my youth and I'll miss him. Once again, Planet Earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do.
Jan 7. Hundreds of German women have reported being sexually assaulted and robbed by gangs of men in Cologne on Old Year's Night. The cops describe the assailants as migrants of North African or Arab appearance. Ironically the attacks happened while Angela 'Mutter' Merkel was on German TV urging unity and tolerance. About a thousand men had ganged up between Cologne's railway station and cathedral, where the NYE fireworks were about to begin. At midnight, they started to harass and grope groups of young women who were out celebrating. Some were stripped and assaulted, many were robbed. One was raped. Many of the women described their ordeal as "running the gauntlet". Yet shockingly there was a four day delay between the attacks happening and the news breaking. German authorities tried to cover it up. The Cologne cops initially reported that the festivities had been "relaxed". We had same denial of reality here in Rotherham and Rochdale. The truth was suppressed in case the plebs drew the 'wrong' conclusion, that mass immigration (Germany admitted 1.1m asylum seekers last year) might not be in the best interests of the German people. Those who questioned it were described by Merkel in her NYE address as "cold" and full of "hatred".
It won't be long before liberals assure us that the attackers weren't to blame, it was all just a "cultural misunderstanding" - this was the line used to defend the Libyan cadets who sexually assaulted four women and raped a man in Cambridge last year. A cultural misunderstanding! "Yes, m'lud. In Libya it's perfectly normal for cadets to rape weaker fellows and only a small-minded fascist would suggest there was anything wrong with them bringing their home customs here. Now bend over and take it like a man... " One of the Cologne wrong'uns is said to have taunted the cops, saying: "I am a Syrian, you have to treat me nicely - Mrs Merkel invited me!" Now the truth is out, and feminists are rightly up in arms, which is bad news for old Mutter-dressed-as-Sham. Merkel can't dismiss the sisterhood as fascists. If she had any sense, she'd deport any 'asylum-seeker' found guilty, although I suspect German laws are as useless as ours are in that respect. If she had any decency she'd resign. She hasn't and she won't. (Why are the asylum-seekers all men, by the way? Don't women and children need asylum too?). Ironically the attempted cover-up will only feed the German far-Right, making the liberal politicians' favourite bogeyman a reality. As a consequence, many innocent law-abiding hard-working migrants are likely to suffer.
Conspiracy theorists are having a field day with all this. But why has the European Union embraced destructive levels of mass immigration so enthusiastically? Liberal economists would probably argue that the EU needs to import labour because of their plummeting population growth. But there must be more to it than that. Our leaders aren't entirely stupid so it seems likely that for some at least the hidden agenda is the destruction of the things they hate about the West (patriotism, Christianity, free enterprise, free speech, the class system, the family etc). New Labour deliberately opened the floodgates here thinking they could bury the Tories and the old order with millions of grateful immigrant votes. Of course politicians can no more control the outcome of such a mass exodus than they could lasso a hurricane and the consequences are likely to be catastrophic. It's like the fall of Rome all over again.
The long-term solution is not porous borders but peaceful, prosperous homelands. But how confident can we be that Western leaders obsessed with short term goals can deliver a safe Syria? The best response came from CIA agent Quinn on Homeland. Asked by his superiors if US strategy in Syria was working, Quinn snapped: "'What strategy? Tell me what the strategy is and I'll tell you if it's working." No one answered. "Right there is the problem," Quinn said, explaining that Islamic State has a strategy which includes beheadings, crucifixions, and the revival of slavery, and it all derives from "their fucking book, the only book they ever read... They're gathering right now in Raqqah by the tens of thousands, hidden in the civilian population, cleaning their weapons and they know exactly why they're there." Asked why, Quinn replied: "They're there for one reason and one reason only: to die for the Caliphate and usher in a world without infidels. That's their strategy and it's been that way since the seventh century. So do you really think that a few special forces teams are going to put a dent in that?" Asked what he would do, Quinn said: "Put 200,000 soldiers on the ground and an equal number of doctors and elementary school teachers." Told that couldn't be done, he offered another alternative: "Hit reset - pound Raqqah into a parking lot."
JAN 1st 2016. Happy New Year. I'm still working on the new book so this blog won't be back properly for a while. But you can find my awards of the year here.
2015 was an odd year for music. Pop's big sellers were pretty dreary. Sam Smith's Spectre song was a soul-sapping dirge and even Adele can't seem to knock out a tune any more. At least Lunchmoney Lewis made us smile. My favourite album release was Penetration's Resolution, which seems a nostalgic choice but it's powerful, tuneful, provocative - and Pauline's voice is still a joy to hear. I also rate the Graveltones album Love Lies Dying, merciless blues rock that hits like Anthony Joshua moving in for the finish. The gig of the year was the Bar Stool Preachers at Rebellion, a great young band full of energy and tunes with a charismatic frontman in Tom McFaull. There are other promising groups out there: the new Manchester bands like All The Kings Men, The Backhanders and Alias Kid and various young adrenalin-pumping r&b combos such as the Ming City Rockers and Eight Rounds Rapid. I've been happy to play them all on my podcast, The Hungry & The Hunted, and will continue to seek out exciting sounds this year.
We'll hear a lot about punk in 2016 as it's being touted as the 40th anniversary of the scene (even though the Pistols played their first gig in 1975). The Isle of Wight fest has a punk theme, while Rebellion will be perversely celebrating with a job-lot of Yank bands; some very good but I'm not sure what it's got to with London 1976. I suspect most people with a view on what punk was have bought into a vision that has nothing like the reality of it. I still remember the joy of buying New Rose by the Damned on the day it came out that October from a little record shop in Shepherds Bush and rushing home (86 MacKay House) to play it, the thrill of watching the needle drop on the vinyl and hearing that aural assault of pure rock 'n' roll energy. Punk was exciting, it was energising. It wasn't about separateness. All those great bands, the Buzzcocks, The Adverts, X-Ray Spex etc infiltrated the charts with glee - and without ever losing their identity or integrity; it was a world away from tuneless crusties skulking in the shadows and regurgitating old hippy ideas. Give me Gen X on the Marc Bolan show over Discharge or Crass any day. These early bands were the poison IN the machine.
Original punk wasn't about independent labels. The Pistols and the Clash weren't shy about signing to CBS, EMI, A&M and so on. Why not? Orwell signed to Secker & Warburg after all without ever compromising his ideals. They were using the system to popularise their message - "I use the best, I use the rest". I love that whole DIY (small business) ethic but don't buy the argument that as a consequence you have to be anti other businesses, or that indie labels are something morally superior because in my experience they're not. Even the holier-than-thou Rough Trade weren't in it to lose money. Original punk didn't have a left-wing agenda either - punk happened under a Labour government, Labour councils tried to ban it and, before RAR, much of the far-Left were just as hostile and suspicious of it as the far-Right.
Too much of the "punk scene" today is retro and narrow-minded. Too many people who call themselves punk are little Hitlers who want to tell us what we can think, what we can say, what we can eat (Anyone remember being lectured about vegan burgers at the Vortex, the Roxy or the Bridgehouse? Me neither.) Punk wasn't like this. It was a laugh. It was FUN. We enjoyed it, even when the gigs were scary. Punk was and remains a way of thinking, not a way of dressing. That's why it had such a radical effect on everything from art to the mass media via fashion and film making. Punk's real message was: Think for yourself! Challenge everything! Tear up the rules! And never trust a hippy...
A collection of forty of my song lyrics has just been published. When I was asked to put it together, I hesitated. Some of these lyrics are decades ago and the humour has dated. The song 'Pink Tent' for example was obviously the work of a pubescent boy obsessed with the opposite sex, so Simon Danczuk would probably enjoy it. The words to 'I Lost My Love To A UK Sub' probably won't mean so much to you if you're unfamiliar with Charlie Harper's back catalogue. 'Hitler Was An 'Omo' was written to wind up pin-headed Nazis, not to offend gays. And of course 'England's Glory' isn't all my work as it includes quotes from Shelley and Shakespeare. Some songs have taken different forms over the years and in these cases I've chosen the version I like best. I've included one of the numbers I wrote as Prole, one I haven't yet recorded and more than a few old favourites. The collection ranges from 'Whelks' (1976) and 'The Joys Of Oi' (1982) to 'Oblivion' and 'Dogging In Dartford' (2014). As always my desire was to "have a laugh and have a say", although I suspect with the Gonads the laughs usually had the upper hand. Cheers.