Archive for September, 2016

A Song for London

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Let”s face it, the Eurovision Song Contest is an exercise in masochism, we know we’re not going to win, or get anywhere near winning. But we slavishly watch it, usually offering a pretty crummy song,  moaning in defeat as if we’ve discovered a new syndrome – not Society Syndrome, maybe Iceland syndrome, after our infamous football capitulation against them. True, voting can be biased and no one loves us – strange, the Millwall catchphrase has now become synonymous with the nation – don’t expect any sudden change, now we’ve further antagonised close friends and neighbours (sic), by voting for Brexit! We must do better, we have the talent, ability and history to put forward a great song and show what we”re made of. Maybe selection of the song has been under the thumb of the BBC for too long, after all, it is our country being represented, not just them as broadcaster.

More easily sortable – and closer to home, is London; yes the old smoke. The Big Apple has Sinatra’s New York, New York, Alicia Keys more recent belter and many more; what have we got representing the greatest city in the world? Not much, apart from Hubert Gregg’s 1940’s classic Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner. It’s not exactly contemporary – or quite what’s needed in the 21st century.

We’re asking composers and performers to come up with a real show-stopper, one that truly reflects London’s multi-racial, multi-cultural, sporting and social heritage. Maybe it is because I’m a Londoner, I see such an urgent need for it. We’ll be asking Sadiq Khan and commercial sponsors to provide something for the winning entry – but let’s do this for London, we could do with a dramatic, emotional, vital, passionate song to cheer us up, just as Hubert Gregg’s, written to combat war fatigue, showed the world doodlebugs wouldn’t beat us, let’s show everyone we’ll not be frazzled or knocked out by the ludicrous Brexit!

Entries for our Song for London competition will close at midnight on Sunday, 21st October 2018 and be judged the next day. Get composing, start singing, London needs YOU!

Only Connect – nothing vaguely interesting or worth connecting….

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Directed by a brouhaha about Victoria Coren Mitchell’s clothing, I dipped my toe into the tepid waters of Only Connect, barely glancing at her dress, nor the nerdy ensemble of garments worn by self-righteous eggheads exposing their eccentricities in earnest, trying to connect motifs, paradigms and superficial subject matter – or rather, subjects that didn’t matter – but had to leave after twenty minutes of the worst television quiz I’ve ever seen, venturing to more fertile territory for amusement, a 40 year old Dad’s Army repeat on catch-up.

How could commissioners agree to take on such vacuous, sad, rubbish? What was Chris Stuart thinking when he divised it? “What have apples and pears got in common? Oh yes, teeth, people with teeth sometimes eat them.” That sort of supposedly intelligent thing. Great!

We must save the world from clever people, so clever they know almost everything, but understand nothing. Not that stupidity is good, you only have to look at the Leader of North Korea to know that. A quiz show should reflect perception, cognisance, insight…this merely reflects self-indulgence and blandness.

There was about as much atmosphere as you’d find on a lunar landscape, which would have provided more fertile territory for whimsy, wit, erudition and stimulation. This was drab, elitist, nonsense without rhyme or reason. Who CARES if any of the banal clues connected, they certainly didn’t connect with me!

As for Victoria, normally warm, convivial and – when needed, with a poker-face. I really don’t need to think of Michael Portillo naked – I certainly don’t connect with HIM in THAT way – or this tripe in any way.


Thursday, September 15th, 2016

We need a few more bon viveurs, raconteurs and wits, to help make the world a better place – or at least, take our minds off its’ worst faults. Yes, there’s the saintly Stephen Fry, he can’t keep it up (only a metaphor) for ever, he needs help. From all of us. Let’s amuse each other.

Chatshows used to be awash with anecdotes, avid anecdote-tellers and rapacious wit, even politicians once showed commendable good humour: Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, following a bout of illness: “Die, my dear doctor! That’s the last thing I shall do.” Another at death’s door, asked how he felt replied: “Better than the alternative.”

Disraeli, accused of unparliamentary conduct by The Speaker, was asked to withdraw his assertion that “half the House were mad”. “Very well,” he declared, “half of the House are not mad.” And of course, Churchill’s historic riposte to Bessie Braddock, after being accused of being drunk. “Madame, you’re ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober.” Not quite as well known, is the continuation: Infuriated by the exchange Braddock said: “If you were my husband I’d put poison in your drink.” To which Churchill retorted: “Madam, if you were my husband, I’d drink it!”

Suave David Niven and debonair Robert Morley, must have talked the hinges off the Gates of Heaven upon arrival, at this moment, they’re probably regaling some devilish story of demonic decadence to a coterie of listeners, none, hopefully, sporting horns. It’s one place fancy dress is inadvisable.

Wit is different from humour, it is unassuming, almost accidental. Joyce Grenfell: “Happiness is the sublime moment when you get out of your corsets at night” was quick-witted in what was, at the time, very much a man’s world, more recently Julie Burchill reflected: “Sex without using is like eating without chewing”.

On one occasion I complained to a young woman during a visit to Budapest that no one had said anything even vaguely amusing. “Say something witty”, I implored. Looking around, seeing several deposits of dogs mess on the pavement, she responded instantly: “There’s either a lot of dogs here, or one dog with a big problem!” Not bad, you try doing better, though not if it necessitates canine deposits outside my modest terrace.

Mark Twain was a great one for wisecracks: “Man is the only animal that blushes….or needs to” being one. King of wit, Oscar Wilde, said of Twain’s birthplace: “America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilisation inbetween”.

To get contemporary, let’s end with another Fry-up: “It is a cliché,” said Stephen, “that most clichés are true, but then, like most clichés, that cliché is untrue.” Like the snake that swallowed itself, Fry’s bon mot leaves no obvious conclusion. But it’s certainly witty.


Aspiration and Cynicism post-Brexit. How do Londoners compare with those who voted Out in Sunderland?

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

We’re carrying out a Post-Brexit survey on Alienation, Cynicism and Idealism to see how views of Londoners – who voted In – compare with those from Sunderland, most of whom, voted Out.

In our (humble), aspirational opinion, you should want to make the world a better place to live in; do people?

Question to be asked: Do you want to make the world a better place to live in?

We also want to know if people think they can make the world a better place?  Question: Do you think you can make the world a better place?

Finally, do people think they have made the world a better place? Question: Do you think you’ve made the world a better place to live in, in any way, large or small?

Asking similar questions to young people in Kiev before the Maidan Square revolution, there was such cynicism about corruption, dishonest politicians and the all-pervasive untrustworthiness, it’s a miracle anyone got out of bed in the morning! It should be very different here.

Shouldn’t it?

We’ll see.