BUSHELL ON THE BLOG
I’m winding the blog down for a bit to concentrate on new books. You can keep up with any other business via my Twitter account.
May 28. Many thanks for the kind words about the Proper Comedians gigs this month. It means a lot to me. I had a real blast working with stand-up legends like Jimmy Jones (now 85), Jim Davidson, and dear old Duncan Norvelle. New turns like Gerry K (real name Gerry Kyei) and comedy impressionist Danny Posthill were terrific too. I also filmed a couple of Ustreme episodes of a show called Laughter Class that aims to find and train joke-telling comics. The standard was surprising high. I’ll let you know when they’re streaming.
May 27. Call me Mystic Gal. In January 2011, I wrote these words about Phillip Schofield: “This creep has been getting away with his nice guy act for years, but every now and then the mask slips and you spot the satanic intensity in his eyes. If his path to stardom hasn’t involved the selling of his soul…” Schofield’s fall is a huge embarrassment for ITV. Can This Morning survive it? The Devon-raised star was one of the cornerstones of the ITV schedules. A natural broadcaster with a ready wit, Schofield was unflappable live – as he proved in the CBBC Broom Cupboard and BBC1’s Going Live as long ago as the 1980s. He graduated to well-paid ITV prime time presenter jobs, including Dancing On Ice and The Cube, but is best known for his weekday double act with Holly Willoughby. ITV’s “golden couple” hosted This Morning for more than two decades, garlanding a string of awards. What went wrong? I appeared on live TV twice with Schofield and always felt that his smile never quite reached his eyes. His pomposity and self-regard surfaced in his 2012 interview with David Cameron when, in a spectacularly ill-judged stunt, Pip confronted the then Prime Minister about a list of parliamentary paedophiles he’d found on that most reliable of sources, the internet.
More recently he tested public patience with the queue-jumping farce before the late Queen’s funeral. When Schofield came out as gay in 2020, viewers were overwhelmingly supportive, but many people in TV circles saw this as a smoke screen to distract attention from something bigger. His brother Tim was arrested and then jailed this month for paedophile offences. Schofield publicly disowned him, but no amount of clever PR could sweeten the shock for Phillip’s co-workers and bosses; especially as many of them knew that he’d had a secret relationship with a teenage runner on This Morning – which he finally admitted to yesterday. Questions remain about how old the boy was when they first met.
Insiders say Schofield won’t work for ITV again and is “extremely unlikely” to make a BBC come-back. In ITV circles, it is hoped that Holly and Alison Hammond will be This Morning’s next “dream team”, but Hammond’s stint with Dermot O’Leary last week underwhelmed viewers and critics alike. It could get worse though. Former colleague, GB News’s Eamonn Holmes said yesterday that ITV bosses “knew what sort of man” Phillip Schofield was “and never once took action”. They will deny it of course, but if that proves to be the case, it should mean top level resignations and could kill off This Morning for good.
April 8. 11.55pm. STOP PRESS. I’ve just come in from GB News, so rather than waste them, here are the jokes I wrote for the occasion:
On policing. Six police raided a pub in Grays for having the wrong kind of dolls behind the bar – gollies, a real and present threat to public safety, obviously. Six cops! You try getting a single one to turn up for a burglary. It won’t happen. In fact, if you are unlucky enough to get burgled it’s best to ring up the Old Bill claiming to be a concerned neighbour and report seeing a golly in the house. That or a log-burning stove. Or both. They’ll scramble an armed squad in seconds.
First they came for the gollies, then they came for Barbie and Sindy… mind how you go, Action Man.
Is it over for the SNP? No, but at least we now we know what SNP stands for: Search Nicola’s Purse.
The Scottish plod went full Mar-a-Lago on Sturgeon’s marital home, which shows how seriously they take Easter egg hunts up there. It should of course be over for the SNP, not for slippery finances but because of their appalling record in power. Sturgeon had one campaign plank – bash the English, whose tax-payers so generously subsidised her tinpot tyranny, and demand another referendum. This won’t kill the desire for phony independence. Besides the SNP aren’t the only game in town, there’s also Alex Salmond and his Alba Party, so called because he doesn’t know his arse from his… you know the rest.
Should Labour and the Tories form an electoral pact in Scotland? They’d be mad to do so, it would just remind people how close they are across the board these days. The SNP have never looked more vulnerable but what allure have the Tories and Labour got? You’ve got Rishi Rich’s mob waging a war on businesses and Keir Starmer who still doesn’t know what a woman is and doesn’t seem to stand for anything. If the bloke does any more flip-flops he’ll end up in the Cirque du Soleil.
Do you want to live forever? Yes, but only to see Charlton back in the Premiership. The trouble is if you could put your essence into an android body, like on Altered Carbon on Netflix, you know the super-rich would get beautiful healthy avatars while the poor would be lumbered with bodies like mine or Jo Brand’s. These days people worry about elderly drivers, but when this happens it’ll be a case of “Never mind the 85-year-olds, that bloke’s 303.”
Is Brexit putting off tourists from France and Germany? I don’t think so, there seem to be thousands of keen young chaps leaving northern France for southern England every week, some in so much of a rush that they clumsily lose their passports scrambling into the boats.
April 7. Just in passing, here’s my chat with Diane ‘Dee Dee’ Hinds about the musical soundtrack of my life. NOT my favourite songs, just the songs I associate with different periods. And I could only choose six. Had I had more, I would certainly have included Smokey Robinson, The Clash or The Jam, Springsteen, the Rejects and Miles Davies. Maybe even Hawkwind who were the first band I ever saw live. But as it is, the years covered are 1964, 1969, 1979, 1980, 1985, 1996 and 1998… from Millie Small to Oasis. Here it is.
April 2. I’m chatting to Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson about riots, religion, rock flute and reclaiming umlauts in today’s Sunday Express Review and talking telly with ooh Gary Davies.
The joys of Roy on Succession, grating expectations for BBC’s Dickens, bush-channelling on Celeb Hunted & more in today’s Bushell on the Box…
April 1. And it’s out, just four years late! When Britain Rocked packs my memories of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and the early 80s rock revival together in one handy collection. Just one warning note. The book was compiled for export and there is a fair bit of overlap with Sounds Of Glory vol one. Two new volumes of Sounds Of Glory are coming though – all-new punk, Ska & Oi, and all-new rock. Just don’t ask me when!
The News Huddlines is back for one night only to raise cash for the Roy Hudd statue appeal.
March 31. RIP Bernadette Hunt, aka Falcon from the Gladiators, has died aged just 59. I did panto with her in Southend in the 90s. Such a lovely woman.
How's this for a mix? This week album reviews: Pink Floyd's 50th anniversary Dark Side boxset plus Depeche Mode, the Bar Stool Preachers & Evo's Lemmy-approved Warfare, in both the usual places.
March 30. Scrapping internal combustor engine cars by 2030, Shapps? Another reason why no conservative (or anyone else) should vote for Sunak’s spin-driven fake-Tory junta.
March 29. So sad to hear we’ve lost Paul O’Grady. He was one of the greats; warm, funny, and sharp as a tack with a heart as big as most politicians’ egos. Fired by Birkenhead humour, his creation Lily Savage was the finest comic creation of the 90s. Savage was his mum’s maiden name, the Lily came from Shanghai Lil. The obituaries probably won’t tell you that Paul was a full-on socialist, although not quite as red as his manager and boyfriend, the late Brendan Murphy who was in the IS in East London at the same time I was. I filmed with Paul as Lily a few times, once for Bushell On The Box, another time for Des O’Connor. And although I shared his affection for dogs – only John Wick loved his pooch more – I always thought it was a shame he’d retired Lily. Imagine that savage tongue taking down today’s political shower. RIP Paul. Heaven just got funnier.
March 26. Rulers v Grafters – art imitates life in Rise & Fall, the truth that BBC1’s The Gold obscured, an unhappy Mother's Day on Grace & much more, all in today’s Bushell On The Box.
So True… I’m chatting to Tony Hadley about his Spandau days & beyond in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with reggae star Zeeteah Massiah of Sexual Prime and Slide On The Rhythm fame.
March 24. Dance Craze, the 2-Tone documentary soundtrack, leads the charge in this week’s album reviews in the company of Luke Combs, Lana del Rey and Fall Out Boy.
March 23. On the 36th anniversary of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, Ethan Aaron Banks looks back at Ferry Aid.
March 20. Fromage frais! Here’s my Sean Wilson cheese & Corrie chat online.
I’m on Keith Newman’s New Wave & Punk show on Radio Northumberland tonight from 7pm talking Angelic Upstarts, prison gigs, The Clash, the Gonads etc… the good old days. Very nearly the gob on the Tyne…
March 19. Business dreams tank like the Silicon Valley Bank on The Apprentice, cartoon crime on the Costa and Morse dashes off without a dot on his copybook as Endeavour ends. All that and more in Bushell On The Box in today’s Daily Star Sunday.
Martin Platt star Sean Wilson tells me about his journey from the Corrie cobbles to cookbooks and artisan cheese in today’s Sunday Express Review; plus I’m talking telly with waltz king Andre Rieu.
March 17. This week’s album reviews: an underwhelming U2, a maturing Miley Cyrus, mesmerising folk-singer Ruth Angell and rising jazz star Jo Harrop… in the usual places.
March 16. Hunt’s budget went down well with the FTSE 100 then. The London stock exchange just crashed like a self-driving Tesla. It hasn’t fallen this fast since Covid. It doesn’t take a genius to explain why. The chancellor may have been wreathed in smiles but his budget was a deeply flawed, economically illiterate onslaught – typical of Treasury advisors with no link to real-world businesses. Buoyed by this idiots’ agenda, governments have been over-taxing, over-spending, over-meddling and recklessly printing money for two decades. The result, inevitably, is the coming recession. History suggests we’ll be lucky to escape World War III. So well done Jezza. Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t have come up with a smarter plan to throttle entrepreneurs, stifle growth and blow away possible Brexit gains.
PS. Hunt also swerved the Tories’ immigration pledges. Nearly ten years ago Cameron said our immigration system was “completely out of control”. Now it’s a lot worse and the elite couldn’t give a monkey’s toss. Net migration to Britain will be 250,000 a year over the next few years. And that’s just the legal ones...
March 15. This is an interesting new book. Values, Voice & Virtue by Matthew Goodwin looks at the huge divergence between everyday voters and the metropolitan elite whose views dominate modern politics and fuel corporate virtue signalling. Millions are worried about our tanking economy, our leaky borders, the war on motorists, the housing market, rotten schooling, and the elite’s obsession with diversity, gender and cultural self-loathing. The gulf between Us and Them, already wider than Gary Lineker’s ego, will fuel the rise of parties more in touch with public opinion. Our major parties are in terminal decline. But is there time to clean up the mess?
March 13. My chat with Hampshire’s own country music twins Ward Thomas is now online. Yeehaw! Apologies for the “rams to riches”.
March 12. Quo’s Francis Rossi is our cover star in today’s Sunday Express Review, and I’m talking telly with ever-popular Proms conductor John Wilson.
March 11. RIP the great Tom Petrie, my former news editor at the Sun decades ago and at the People in the early Noughties. Newcastle-born Tom was one of the giants of Fleet Street with his office megaphone and eccentric behaviour – when I edited Bizarre with Rick Sky, he once sauntered up and sacked all of the “Rickettes” (including a teenage Jane Goldman, now a Hollywood screenwriter) on a whim. I’m pretty sure the memorable front-page headline “Up Yours Delors” was one of his too.
A great evening watching Thomas Rhett and Jordan Davies at the O2 Arena last night. Country music is booming here, with 1.4billion streams in the UK alone last year, yet bizarrely it’s still viewed by some as a fad. The huge C2C crowds suggest otherwise. Give me a nudge when Luke Combs comes back over.
March 10th. Albums from The Sleaford Mods, Ward Thomas, Gorillaz & London rockers King Cujo are all reviewed in today’s Daily Express & Daily Mirror.
Alastair Campbell is fronting the robust defence of Gary Lineker. That’s the same Alastair Campbell whose boss, Anthony Blair, once agreed to the lift the arms embargo on Gaddafi in return to the Colonel stopping the flow of migrants from Libya to the EU. One rule for you, eh Alastair?
The real argument here is about borders. Many of those who oppose Suella’s plans believe in no borders whatsoever – a policy that would win precisely zero seats at an election but curries favour with the Twatterati and students. But you can’t have no-borders and an NHS, or any kind of welfare state. It is claimed that our approach to illegal migrants is cruel. Isn’t it far worse to turn a blind eye to a dangerous criminal racket that results in substantial numbers of deaths? Tory government go through the motions of opposing illegal immigration while secretly approving of it. That’s why 60,000 are expected to arrive this year, many of them not “refugees” from warzones, but off-the-book toilers happy to undercut union rates…
I once met an Albanian people-smuggler in a Shoreditch pub who described in detail how, to evade capture by Interpol on the Med, he and his mates would cynically sling one of their unfortunate passengers into the drink. The cops would always stop to rescue the poor bod who’d gone overboard while the bastards made good their escape. It was a hugely revealing conversation until the bloke asked what I did and my idiot mate replied “Reporter”. This prompted an explosion of colourful death threats rarely heard this side of a Tarantino film. As part of his rich contribution to London’s cultural life, the Albanian also supplied over-priced drugs to Shoreditch trendies. Not to be sniffed at.
March 9. I’m a Lineker admirer to a degree. He’s a great broadcaster with a questionable taste in crisps who scored more than 300 times in his professional career and, if rumours are to be believed, even more at LWT when they were filming Blind Date in the next studio to Question Of Sport. The fault here is surely with the BBC. Lineker is a freelance who is also one of the faces of the Corporation, for whom political impartiality is the cornerstone of their continued existence. So given Gary’s tendency to gob off, why on earth didn’t they include a clear commitment to respect that hallowed neutrality in his contract?
March 8. Gary Lineker can tweet whatever the hell he likes, but it’d help his case if he wasn’t being so crass and lazy about it. Wheeling out the “Germany in the 30s” slur is ridiculous. It’s unlikely that Hitler would have spent millions putting up illegal migrants in hotels, with the SS on hand to tuck them in and change their sheets. Mismatch of the day, mate. Branding those you disagree with “far-Right” is a gutless ruse to silence debate. The irony is, Germany’s Nazis had more in common with the intolerant far-Left than the conservatives who both extremes despise. And the “red-fascists” are far more of a threat to our freedoms now. Reality check: Britain has accommodated hundreds of thousands from Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Ukraine this century. I’m not sure that France qualifies as quite such a hell-hole. Paris, maybe.
March 5th. I’m chatting to eighties legend and pop philosopher Morten Harket of A-ha in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with barrister turned author Helen Fields.
Matt Hancock wanted to “scare the pants off the public”, reveals the Sunday Telegraph. Presumably scaring the pants off the fragrant Gina Coladangelo was his practice run…
I’m hosting two live comedy shows for Ustreme on the coast in May in a bid to resurrect the spirit of gag-telling comedians. Or at least celebrate the old-school giants who are still alive. Get in touch for details.
March 4th. I wasn’t expecting to be asked about politics on GB News last night so all my scathing outpourings about the Conservatives and Labour were entirely off the cuff. Watching it back, I should have been more forceful in defence of Isabel Oakeshott. Leaking Matt Hancock’s WhatsApp chat shone more light than the Aurora Borealis on Project Fear. Thanks to Isabel, we can see clearly that government ministers’ pandemic strategy was to terrify us into compliance – even though they knew full well that the virus only posed a lethal risk to the old and the very ill. It’s a truism that life can only be understood backwards and must be lived forwards. But this isn’t hindsight. As early as March 2020, Chris Whitty informed the government that the vast majority of those infected would recover, even those in their 80s and beyond. Yet still they ploughed ahead with their ruinous strategy of lockdown and ineffective masks, running up war-time levels of national debt, without any attempt at costing, let alone any thought of the long-term social consequences – mental illness, suicides, kids robbed of education and social skills etc. After abandoning carefully formulated plans on how to respond to a pandemic, they closed schools, sent out drones and helicopters to find heretics, fined joggers for drinking coffee in parks…for no reason other than blind panic.
Hancock branded Lord Sumption “hard-Right” (he isn’t) for standing up for the civil liberties our fake-Tory government were denying. “Far-right” has become code for “someone who disagrees with me”. Sadiq Khan was at it, claiming anyone who opposes his ULEZ madness is aligned with the “far-Right and Covid deniers”. It’s like calling anyone who goes on strike in league with the “far-Left and terrorist sympathisers”. But isn’t irrational name-calling likely to be self-defeating? All old Genghis will do is make the public think that “far-right” means having a degree of common sense.
March 3. Stop Press. I’m on the Mark Dolan Show on GB News after 8pm tonight talking about Ken Bruce and Glastonbury.
Today’s album reviews: Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach (RIP), Philip Selway, Andy Fairweather Low and Madness’s classic, The Liberty of Norton Folgate. All in the Mirror and the Express.
RIP jazz sax genius Wayne Shorter, a multiple-Grammy winner renowned for his staggering work with the likes of Miles Davis and Art Blakey. Shorter was one of the great improvisers. He could take you to more worlds than the Marvel multiverse.
Hatchet-faced civil servant Sue Gray has taken a job with Keir Starmer. Is anyone surprised? The impartiality of the modern civil service is a myth on a par with lizard-men aliens and Nessie. These senior bureaucrats, who effectively rule the country, largely share a desire to harness enterprise, increase the power of the state and kiss the EU’s arse. They’re in charge and we can’t get shot of them.
March 1. Isabelle Oakeshott has leaked thousands of Matt Hancock’s WhatsApp messages to the Telegraph. Hancock, who gave her access when she wrote his book, is outraged. But isn’t he a naive for not getting her to sign an NDA?
Rishi is trying to pull the wool over our eyes over North Ireland. But while he spins like crazy, EU officials are telling the real story. Put simply, Sunak’s proposed deal allows a foreign country to interfere in the UK and leaves a foreign court, the ECJ, as the highest arbiter of disputes. It’s not victory. Just defeatism cloaked in King-size wrapping paper.
Feb 26. In today’s Sunday Express Review, cracking actress Tracy-Ann Oberman fills me in on her journey from Dirty Den to Cable Street, and I’m talking telly with comedian Cally Beaton.
Feb 24. The Labour Party are on course to clobber the untrustworthy Tories at the next election, which is why it’s a shame Starmer is such a tedious drip. Sir Keir’s “five mission” speech today was so stuffed with management-jargon it would have made a whiteboard weep. Frankly it was childish – lightweight banal drivel littered with gibberish, loaded with platitudes and devoid of any hint of costings. At one point, Starmer called on Rishi Rich to be more “catalytic”. Well he certainly needs to be converted, although it’s unlikely Sunak will turn into a Tory before the next election. Rishi’s own five missions appear to be: kill off businesses, sell-out Brexit, turn a blind eye to illegal immigration, pursue insane energy policies and surrender to the middle class woke minority whenever possible. In other words, to give the finger to anyone likely to vote Conservative.
Starmer also backtracked on previous pledges, like scrapping tuition fees and nationalising the energy giants. He’s another one who will say one thing to get elected and then do something entirely different. For real reform, look elsewhere. We also need to challenge the modern belief that it is politicians’ inalienable right to pick our pockets and piddle our cash up the wall. It isn’t. They should be made to justify every penny they spend, every job paid for by the public purse, every junket they enjoy and every quid given away in aid to countries doing better than we are. British people, including ex-military, are sleeping on the streets while we’re wasting millions putting Albanian chancers – not “refugees” – up in hotels. Why?
This week's album reviews – Ocean Colour Scene, Danny Goffey, Rick Wakeman & a-ha, in all the usual places.
Feb 23. John Motson was loved by football fans for his mix of enthusiasm and professionalism. He was passion and preparation poured into a sheepskin coat. RIP Motty.
Feb 21. Odd isn’t it that the ‘Labour’ Mayor Genghis Khan thinks it’s right to target working class people in London, especially in the outer boroughs where there are no tube stations. How can builders in Orpington afford to pay £12.50 a day to drive to work. Only the rich and the comfortably off will be able to drive anywhere. One rule for them, eh Saqiq… No wonder thousands are emigrating to Australia. This country is run by jumped-up Bonapartists.
The Dahl censorship is the tip of the iceberg. First they came for the Oompa Loompas. Next? Big Ears? “Fat owl of the Remove” Billy Bunter, The Fat Controller… watch yourself Hop-along Cassidy.
RIP Dickie Davies, the affable face of ITV’s World Of Sport. With his easy smile and raffish ’tache, Dickie was the perfect host for Saturday afternoon’s mix of “proper sport”, log-rolling and wrestling, with a side order of rallycross. Bliss.
Feb 19. I’m chatting to prog rock legend and all-round gent Rick Wakeman in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with real-life Del-boy turned author Ali Blood… Rick’s online here.
Feb 18. Unionists in Northern Ireland rightly suspect Rishi Rich hasn’t got their best interests at heart. The big clue is that it looks likely Sunak’s deal with the EU will keep a role for the European Court of Justice in the long-suffering province. Why should an often-malignant foreign court be allowed to exercise jurisdiction over any part of the UK? Edward Carson sussed out the Tories as long ago as 1921, saying “What a fool I was! I was only a puppet, and so was Ulster… in the political game that was to get the Conservative Party into power.” Change the ‘get’ to ‘keep’, and ‘into power’ to ‘in power’ and that quote is as relevant now as it was then.
But why should the clapped-out Tories stay in power? Successive Conservative governments have left us with a dwindling military, an NHS on the sick bed, and cops who don’t bother to investigate burglaries but will descend on mass if you tweet a thought-crime or fire up a log-burning stove. Tax is soaring to eye-watering levels, motorists are endlessly persecuted, small businesses are fighting to survive, and free markets are crowded out by monopolies and oligopolies. Our waters are so contaminated that a present-day Lady of the Lake would emerge fully clad in a biohazard suit, and ridiculous levels of wokery are given free rein across our national institutions. There’s nothing Conservative about any of that. Sunak’s shower don’t deserve to be re-elected. The trouble is neither do Starmer’s mob. We’re floating to hell on a punctured dinghy. Don’t blame Brexit. Blame politicians.
Feb 17. I’m weighing up new albums from Pink, Madeline Edwards and Grade 2 in today’s Express & Daily Mirror along with Eddie Piller’s new Mod compilation.
Feb 16. Nicola Sturgeon has tossed her caber. You’d need a heart of stone not to laugh. Judge Sturgeon by her record in government rather than her rhetoric and she’s done to Scotland what Tosh McKinlay would probably have done to Nessie, given half a chance.
Feb 12. The search is over… sixties pop icons The Searchers tell me why their next tour is their last in today’s Sunday Express Review, and I’m talking telly with Duncan Norvelle.
Feb 10. GRRR! Today’s mixed bag of album reviews include the Rolling Stones’ GRRR! Live (it’s grrreat!), plus Raye, Paramore and Sunny War – all in the usual places.
The Yanks have shot down that Chinese spy balloon. What took them so long? Nothing exciting has fluttered over London since Pink Floyd’s giant pig broke free from its moorings back in 1976.
Feb 9. RIP Burt Bacharach. Everything about the Oscar-winning composer said class. Burt and lyricist Hal David wrote enduring classics, including Aretha’s I Say A Little Prayer, Dione Warwick’s Walk On By, Make It Easy On Yourself by the Walker Brothers, Dusty’s I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself and The Carpenters’ Close To You. Bacharach was smooth, sophisticated and a master songwriter, up there with Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.
Give Ukraine all of our planes says Boris Churchill. What, all three of ’em? Seriously, our F-16s are no use to Ukraine, it takes too long to train the pilots. American A-10s would do nicely. And if the twerps want Britain to be taken seriously as a military power, they need to spend billions on defence. Axing HS2 would free up a few bob.
Feb 8. I can’t abide the current Tory tossers, but I like the cut of Lee Anderson’s jib. The new Deputy Chairman told the Spectator: “Nobody ever committed a crime after being executed.” Which is indisputable. Opponents of the death penalty cite historic cases of innocent people being hanged. Three points: 1) many more innocent people died because of murderers re-offending. 2) Advances in forensic technology make the old errors increasingly unlikely. And 3) as Anderson, a former Labour councillor said, “You can prove it if they have video like Lee Rigby’s killers…they should have gone, the same week. I don't want to pay for these people.” Well said. Nor do I.
In other news, anyone else notice how little TV coverage the jailing of ex-Labour MP Jared O’Mara has generated. If a Tory had copped a four-stretch for fiddling his expenses by £52,000 to snort Charlie it would’ve been all over the Six O’Clock News.
Feb 7. Why are council taxpayers being forced to bail out incompetent (and over-paid) councils? Taxpayers in Slough and Thurrock will see rates rise by ten per cent. In Croydon they’ll get hammered by a 15% increase because Croydon Council has run up debts of £1.6billion. Thurrock has managed a mere £450mill. Normally council tax rises are subject to referendums, but our government has given special dispensations to avoid them. The political class seem to think our pockets are theirs to pick whenever they feel like it.
The real irritation is at the next election all that will happen is we’ll get to swap one high-tax party for another. Truss is getting bucketloads but she is right when she says the only way forward is for the government to pursue pro-growth policies. Growth is the answer. The rest is hogwash.
Three things I’m sick of: the unthinking bloodlust of our non-combatant political class, the relentless rise of woke-capitalism and jumped-up civil servants who think it’s their job to remove elected politicians whose views they don’t like.
Feb 5. Here’s one for Strictly lovers, Giovanni Pernice is today’s Sunday Express Review cover star, and I’m talking telly with author Kate Mosse ahead of her one-woman UK tour.
Rishi Rish is said to be “considering” pulling out of the ECHR over the illegal immigrant crisis. I think there was more chance of Boris pulling out of a girlfriend in his wilder days. Tories talk tough on illegal immigration and do the square root of sod-all. It’s kidology, a total bluff. Sunak hasn’t got the guts.
Feb 3. Giddy up! Shania Twain leads this week’s album’s charge, followed by Hamish Hawk, Sam Brown and the mighty Girlschool. All in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
The Welsh rugby union has banned a male voice choir from singing Delilah at their matches. Why (why, why), the nation asks? The virtue-signaling bores say the song is “problematic and unsettling to some supporters because of its subject matter”. And the killjoy head of Powys Old Bill agrees. The much-loved song – a hit for Tom Jones in 1968, and popular ever since – “trivializes domestic violence”, we’re told. But hold on. By that logic you would also ban every Agatha Christie murder mystery, all murder-based comic farces, cinematic masterpiece The Producers, Fargo, and a huge swathe of opera. Carmen, for example, sees a jealous geezer stab his lover to death; and let’s not get started on Blackbeard’s Castle by Bartok. Other great songs now at risk must surely include Jimi Hendrix’s Hey Joe, Rose Tattoo’s Magnum Maid, and Bob Marley’s I Shot The Sherriff. Not to mention, Tom’s other evergreen smash The Green Green Grass Of Home – about a bloke, presumably a killer, on death row. Ignore the WRU, Wales, love Sir Tom and sing it loud.
Fun fact: I once ‘sang’ on the worst ever version of Delilah. Recorded in a drunken evening by me, Max Splodge and Decca Wade, in a session that somehow involved the granddaughter of Lionel Stander, the man who played Max in Hart To Hart, it was released circa 1982 by Razor Records (possibly for a bet) despite being utterly unlistenable. In fact if any one rendition of the song was going to incite violence it is this. That violence being aimed entirely at me and Mr Splodge. Please notify the Powys peelers because I would very much welcome a complete global ban on this plastered abomination.
I should also own up now about my own song, Hey You by the Gonads. Contrary to the claim in the lyrics, I do not have “my CS” canister in my pocket or “my shooter” by the door. Because, like my Harry Tyler books, it is a work of fiction. Research suggests that Mick Jagger never rode a tank and held a general’s rank “when the blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank” either.
Jan 29. ’Allo ’Allo! veteran Sue Hodge gets on her soapbox about the state of TV comedy in today’s Sunday Express Review, and I’m talking telly with 80s singing sensation Sam Brown, daughter of Joe.
Jan 27. He is the pop equivalent of Marmite – and he looked bloody ridiculous in that dress (presumably modelled on a bog roll doily) on Jimmy Fallon’s show this week – but is Sam Smith's new album hot or rot? Find out in today’s Express and Daily Mirror. Also reviewed are: the terrific Elvis Presley boxset, Elvis On Tour, from 1972, Bob Dylan's latest official bootleg Fragments (only Al Capone was bootlegged more) & Steve Vai’s Vai/Gash album. Insert your own “Vi’s gash” gags here.
Jan 26. Even Sir Rod Stewart has had enough of this clapped-out government. But you’re wrong to think Labour are any better, Roderick. Look at Citizen Khan’s war on the London motorist. Khan’s extended ultra-low emission zone means self-employed plumbers and builders will now have to pay £12.50 a day just to work in the capital. Are they supposed to lug tools and supplies around by bike, Mr Mayor, or on a packed tube, on the days they’re running? We see red-faced Labour MPs shouting down women colleagues for daring to have a different point of view, their craven cowardice in the face of deranged fringe activists, their Tory-like commitment to idiotic state spending, the same insane net zero commitment, the chaos caused to traffic flow and local businesses by Labour councils’ LTN schemes, their disdain for the English flag etc, etc. The old Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber joke has never seemed truer. Rod is right, the Tories have let us down enough, but Starmer is not the answer. We need a new party to sweep the lot of them into the dustbin of history. Time for reform.
Jeremy Kyle’s “exclusive” Talk TV interview with Ghislaine Maxwell was 2022 footage filmed by a freelance reporter last year. Nothing to do with Kyle. More fake news.
Jan 25. The Tories are at war over tax. But why is Hunt planning to hit business investment? Growth is the only way out of the colossal debt ten years of “conservative” governments have lumbered us with. Sunak’s job is to do everything in his power to resurrect our economy. So why does his government want to make things worse by clobbering businesses with an eye-watering 25% corporation tax? How will that encourage foreign investors? All it will do is shrink the economy more. It’s the worst idea the fake-Tories have had since HS2.
Jan 23. Rishi Rich has “full confidence” in Zahawi. This bloke is more out of touch than Edward Scissorhands. Sunak should have shown some gumption and made his dodgy chairman quit instead of trying to sweep the tax scandal under the carpet by calling on an ethics inquiry. On the plus side, it’s good to see at least one senior Conservative believes in paying less tax.
Could Rishi go to the country with a slogan of: Vote Conservative to preserve our proud tradition of Corruption, Unctuous incompetence, Nifty back-handers, Tax-dodging and Snobbery? At least we’d think they were honest…
Jan 22. Tina Weymouth & Chris Frantz (of Talking Heads & Tom Tom Club) are the Sunday Express Review cover stars today – read all about it here. And I’m talking TV with Sean ‘Martin Platt’ Wilson.
Great to see my old mate Garry Johnson, the wide boy punk poet, at our Southend gig last night. Gal hasn’t been well for years but for a while he was back to his old fast-talking self. Huge thanks to Carlo Corallini and his missus for the Sextons.
Jan 21. Nadhim Zahawi says his tax problems are the result of “careless error”. Wasn’t that the same excuse the Hatton Garden mob used? “What these, guv? Diamonds? In our sacks? Just a careless error, pal. They must’ve fallen in what with us being so cackhanded…” It was Dennis Skinner who said “half the Tories opposite are crooks”. When the speaker called for a retraction, Skinner replied, “Okay, half the Tories opposite aren’t crooks”.
Jan 20. Today’s album reviews: the great Paul Carrack, The Maytals, the Angelic Upstarts & The Rolling Stones in Mono… in the usual places.
Jan 15. I’m chatting to likeable comedian Lucy Porter ahead of her UK tour, and talking TV with Dancing On Ice contender Darren Harriott in today’s Sunday Express Review.
Jan 13. Today’s album reviews: Margo Price, Gaz Coombes, Liela Moss and Belle & Sebastian – in the Daily Express & Daily Mirror as usual.
Jan 12. So sad to hear that Jeff Beck has died. He was one of the finest and most influential rock guitarists of the 1960s (also the inspiration for Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel). South London born Jeff got his break with Screaming Lord Sutch but broke big in the Yardbirds when he replaced Eric Clapton and branched out beyond pure blues guitar). I was 13 when he had his biggest solo hit, Hi Ho Silver Lining. All together: “You’re everywhere and nowhere baby…”
Jan 11. From Manchester to Mrs Maisel... the rise & rise of Bury-born former model turned US West Coast comedian Christine Peake, online here.
Jan 8. Simple Minds stars Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill tell me all about their punk past in today’s Sunday Express; I’m also reviewing the week’s TV and talking telly with Julian Lloyd Webber… all in the Sunday Express Review. The Simple Minds interview is on-line here.
Jan 6. This week’s album reviews – a stonking return from Iggy Pop, Ringo live, Gabrielle Aplin and the Beach Boys’ latest retro-boxset, all in today’s Express and Mirror.
Rishi Rich wants everyone to stay on at school until they’re 18 and study maths. Is this a good idea? The better people are with figures, the more we’ll see the gaping holes in his economic plans… PS. Keeping kids at school longer won’t make a pinch of difference if teachers and their teaching methods are dodgy.
Jan 1st 2023. Happy New Year! I’m chatting to folk star Suzanne Vega in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with David Barry better known as Frankie Abbott from Please Sir!