BUSHELL ON THE BLOG
March 20. My Rancid Sounds podcast for bands outside the corporate "biz" starts a new life on Second City Radio from 11am tomorrow night – you can listen online or via the app. And next month, I'll be launching a brand new Sounds of the Street show. The latest Rancid Sounds features the Godfathers, Booze & Glory, Neville Staple, Oxley's Midnight Runners, King Hammond and more with studio guest Nick Welsh.
March 18. Chuck Berry, who died today, was the Shakespeare of rock'n'roll. His lyrics, riffs and duck walk defined the revolutionary new music of the 1950s and changed pop forever. Berry's classic songs like Johnny B. Goode, Maybellene and Roll Over Beethoven were charged with wit and energy. The unique merger of country and the blues that he created inspired everyone from the Rolling Stones to the Sex Pistols. And of course he could play that guitar just like ringing a bell. When Keith Richards inducted Berry into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame thirty years ago, the Stones guitarist admitted "I've stolen every lick he ever played." His ding-a-ling aside, carpenter's son Chuck sang about sex, cars and hamburgers sizzling on an open grill. His poetic words summed up the mood and the lifestyle of 1950s teenagers. Chuck Berry was a giant. He helped to define rock at the start and elevated it into an art-form. He's gone, but his influence will last forever.
March 17. To dispel any suspicion that the political elite are too close to the media, George Osborne was today announced as the new editor of the London Evening Standard. Naturally we can expect the BlackRock hedge fund to be covered with the same dignified impartiality that Theresa May has got coming…Osborne will work four days a week at the Standard (salary undisclosed) and one day a week for BlackRock (£650K a year) as well as making speeches for large wads of cash. Talk about Greed All Abhart It. Yet he also intends to remain as MP for Tatton. This is ridiculous. Three-jobs Geo can't possibly do all this and represent his constituents. He's in the wrong place. He ought to be in the Lords.
Happy St Patrick's Day! St Patrick was an Englishman who chased the snakes out of Ireland. You can find them now running the BBC. PS. St George's Day is five weeks away. How will EastEnders avoid it this year?
GCHQ say they didn't spy on Donald Trump. They just fitted his telly.
March 16. Useless Jeremy Corbyn missed another open goal today. Twelve police forces have sent files to the CPS about the Tories fiddling their election expenses and how many tough questions did the Labour leader hit May with yesterday? Nada. You can only assume Labour have been doing a little backdoor spending of their own. Anything to keep UKIP out of Parliament, eh chaps? Vivat democratia, and all that.
March 15. Scientists have found a plant over a billion years old. Yes, they found it at the back of a salad bar in Glasgow.
March 13. After I posted here about the importance of making a will, a bloke contacted me to say that his dad's will had been successfully challenged by relatives who'd been left out of it. So what was the point of making one, he asked?
It's true that wills can be challenged legally, but there is a simple way to back up your decisions. When you make your will you can also write a Letter of Wishes which effectively allows you to speak from beyond the grave and explain why you've cut someone out.
Maybe the relative had become estranged from you, or perhaps you've already provided for them while you were alive. The onus is then on them (the claimant) to show why they feel you had a duty to provide for them.
If they didn't rely on you financially and your Letter of Wishes explains why you've blanked them, then their own lawyer will advise them that their claim isn't strong and that if they go ahead they could face having to pay not only their own legal costs but also those of the people you appointed as Personal Representatives. This could run into thousands.
So why not just explain why you've cut someone out in the will itself? Here's why: once it has been processed through Probate, your will becomes a public document and anyone can pay to obtain a copy. It's not a great idea then to make public declarations about why someone has been left out within the will itself. Making old fall-outs public could wind up someone enough to start a claim. But a Letter of Wishes is private. Only your executors, the potential claimant and his lawyer see it. So common sense tends to rule the day. If no claim is made then no one needs to know what you said. To sum up: there are no guarantees your will won't be challenged but there are sensible ways you can back up your decision. And by the way that Active Wills deal I mentioned before is still available – they're offering wills discounted from their standard prices (£99 and £149) to £19.99 and £29.99 here: *The common reasons to challenge a will are either validity, undue influence or under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
March 11. John Le Carre will be involving in the writing a new BBC series. It'll be a second season of The Night Manager and not, as I'd hoped after the Richard Whiteley rumours, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Quiz Master…
March 10. Finally! The new season of the spell-binding Game Of Thrones hits our screens on 17th July. It's only seven episodes long, but I guess there are fewer cast members left to kill.
March 9. The CIA have used smart TVs to bug people, according to the latest Wikileaks allegations. So Game For A Laugh was ahead of the curve, watching us, watching you…
March 8. Here's my latest Rancid Sounds podcast: with top tracks from The Godfathers, Booze & Glory, Neville Staple, Duffy's Cut, King Hammond, Oxley's Midnight Runners, Assault & Battery, Hard Evidence & of course the Gonads. Special guest is the immortal Nick Welsh.
What a lousy, cowardly, self-defeating budget! By hammering the self-employed, ham-fisted Hammond has declared war on the Tories' natural supporters. So much for May's "conservatism". Who benefits? UKIP – if they can get their act together. Corbyn's response was pitiful.
March 7. I've just recorded a new Rancid Sounds podcast with some terrific tracks from The Godfathers, Booze & Glory, Neville Staple, Duffy's Cut & many more. Nick Welsh is my studio guest. I'll let you know when it's up and running.
March 6. Thirty years on, the images of the Zeebrugge tragedy are still haunting. After the news broke, I had the idea of releasing a charity single. It took just sixteen days to rush out the Ferry Aid single Let It Be which raised £1million for the families of the victims. It was a hell of a job to organise it, and I couldn't have done it without my team especially Sue Humphries and David Nicholson. Producer Pete Waterman was pivotal in all this. CBS came on board straight away and the song featured everyone from Boy George to Gary Moore via Mark Knopfler, Edwin Starr and Mel & Kim (I was secretly in love with Mel, R.I.P.). Paul McCartney not only gave us his blessing – he filmed a special piece for the video. Michael Jackson owned the publishing rights and when he rang from LA with the message "Go ahead, make a fortune" there was no stopping us. The record flew straight to number one and stayed there for three weeks.
March 5. There's a startling exclusive in today's Daily Star Sunday revealing that former London Mayor Ken Livingstone escaped a second assassination bid in the 1990s. The plan, involving a UFF hit-man and a 750-strong mob of football hooligans from various London clubs, are detailed by former London UDA commander Frank Portinari in his newly published autobiography Left-Right-Loyalist. This plot to attack the Bloody Sunday Troops Out march in January 1993 makes troubling reading, but what makes it more significant is that Spurs hooligan Portinari was once a Trotskyite Young Socialist. It was the Far Left's support for the IRA while they bombed working class pubs in England that made him, and many other natural Labour voters, trade in socialism for a violent form of reactionary nationalism. When you throw in the Left's decision to defend the Paedophile Information Exchange, and their bizarre approach to immigration, the reasons why so many traditional Labour voters abandoned the party become glaringly apparent. Current Labour leaders Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were also on that London march.
(Note for the hard of thinking: the fact that I find Portinari's story sociologically significant is clearly not an endorsement of his views or activities).
March 3. Richard Whiteley from Countdown was a spy, according to Ricky Tomlinson. And in a related story Ted Heath was a proper consonant, vowel, consonant, consonant.
It all seems barking to me. I can't imagine the affable Whiteley, R.I.P., in such a role. (Vorderman maybe, she looks like she has more secrets than the Sphinx). Besides if MI5 wanted a quiz-show host on the books surely they would have recruited my old chum the late Ted Robbins. Countdown conundrums may be tough, but the clues on 3-2-1 would have foxed John Le Carré. Still, we have to take Ricky seriously. Countdown needs to be watched with new eyes and Rachel Riley must be debriefed immediately. The woman is not so much MI5 as MI perfect 10.
March 2. Why does Nigel Farage even want a knighthood? Aren't they a) tainted and b) a symbol of the venal political establishment that he has fought against all his adult life? The hostility to Douglas Carswell is equally hard to understand. Carswell as a libertarian may be at odds with the Faragists, but don't UKIP allow different strands of thought now? Have they become some kind of reverse-Leninist, top-down monolith?
March 1st. Get well soon Brucie! Bruce Forsyth was Britain's greatest-ever game-show host and a much-loved all-round entertainer. (I feel guilty now for putting him in a triple with John McCririck and Vera Lynne but, as the great man always knew: you get nothing for a pair, not in this game…)
Feb 25. I've been looking into wills ever since Micky Fitz died, and Active Wills seem to be the best value around. They're currently offering wills discounted from their standard prices (£99 and £149) to £19.99 and £29.99, which looks a real bargain. Why does it matter? Well, if you don't make a will, you'll have no say over who gets your stuff once you're gone. For example, without a will current laws make no provision for your other half if you're not married to them. I've also been investigating related areas such as power of attorney and probate too, and will report back.
DANNY Dyer is accused of asking a woman to send him smudges of her "lills" (breasts), "bottle" (arse) and "boat" (face).
He clearly wasn't interested in her Jack & Danny.
FEB 24. Hard to see how either Comrade Corbyn or Paul Nuttall can last after the latest by-election results, but the smart money says Jezza will cling on like a suicidal limpet. Corbyn's views on the nuclear industry were probably the chief reason the Tories snatched Copeland from Labour. While the UKIP leader scored a disastrous own goal in Stoke-on-Trent. His series of porkies ranged from self-aggrandising fibs (such as claiming he'd played pro football for Tranmere Rovers) to the more serious suggestion on his blog that he'd lost close friends at the Hillsborough tragedy – a claim blamed on a PR. I don't think the tweeds helped either. Nuttall, a likeable down-to-earth fellow in person, called these astounding errors of judgement "mistakes". Unfortunately Stoke voters (and probably everyone else) now see him as Bootle's answer to Walter Mitty. Paul beat the Tories, but the combined UKIP and Conservative vote would have unseated Labour. UKIP believe correctly that there is much sympathy for some of their policies among Labour's traditional base, unfortunately Nuttall blew their chances of translating that into votes. Mainstream politicians have misled us for decades, the last thing Joe Public wants is another Billy Liar.
Clever Tories will now start asking what the point of UKIP is. If Theresa May implements Brexit, they'll argue, then why is the party even necessary? UKIP grew by being more Tory than the Tories, an approach that could still make sense if it fought for genuinely radical policies – lower taxes, less state, less red tape etc. May's Government are not as "right-wing" as the BBC believe and are vulnerable to serious opposition on a number of fronts. A UKIP that challenged vested interests and transnational corporations, and championed opportunity, small businesses and fair play would have a real point. A UKIP that presented itself as Blue Labour, Nuttall's stated direction, would tear itself apart.
It's interesting to note that the new Labour MP for Stoke, Gareth Snell, once accurately dismissed Corbyn an "IRA-supporting friend of Hamas". Yet by winning Snell has saved Jezza's bacon. He's now free to carry on leading the Party to disaster. Labour's vote fell by 2.2% here, UKIP's went up by 2.5%. To make a real difference UKIP have to stop looking like Dad's Army and start shaping up as a modern and radical challenge to the political establishment.
Feb 22. While fanatical Remoaners shrilly extol the virtues of the EU, the Euro crisis has steadily grown to Galactus status. Debtors in the southern states now owe hundreds of billions via the European Central Bank. The Bank of Italy alone owes E364bn in ECB liabilities. As they can't possibly repay this mountain of debt, what will happen to the Eurozone when they inevitably knock them for it? Galactus consumed planets. Defaulting will devour the EU, starting with the Deutsche Bank. Auf wiedersehen, Mutter Merkel.
Feb 20. Isn't it time to abolish the clapped-out House Of Lords and replace it with a second chamber that is elected by Proportional Representation and therefore accountable to the electorate? #ScrapTheLords
I'm shutting the blog down for a bit to concentrate on the new Harry Tyler novel, but I'll drop by every now and then.
Jan 1st 2017: Happy New Year! Let's hope we build on the promise of 2016 when democracy triumphed and the British people voted for independence – yet to be delivered by shifty-eyed Theresa May and her caucus of clowns. The folk throwing their toys out of the pram about last year are either cheesed off because they lost the vote, or because elderly rock stars died. I knew Rick Parfitt and will miss him, and I loved Bowie and Prince, but if you party for decades it isn't too surprisingly if the Reaper comes a-calling. No-one's immortal, except maybe Ozzy Osbourne.
Trump's big win provoked fury too. The Republicans' crap candidate beat the Democrats' crap candidate. Knees are still jerking angrily and the Donald isn't even in office yet. Let's see how it goes. The Trump presidency might surprise us all. For starters it should be great for workers in the fossil fuel industries, for growth, investment, tax-payers and the military. There's no doubt that of the two, clapped-out, scandal-dogged Hillary was the candidate most likely to drag the US, and consequently the world, into more disastrous neo-liberal wars. Trump doesn't want war with Russia, which is surely a good thing; whether he can avoid yet more conflict in the Middle East is another story.