Jan 26. R.I.P. Mark E. Smith of the Fall. I wasn’t a fan of their racket, but he was a gifted lyricist and a proper curmudgeon with a terrific turn of phrase. Of his Dad and paternal grandfather, Mark once said: “Manchester has always produced men like this – hard men with hard livers. Men with faces like unmade beds.” Other great Smith quotes include: “Nuking Russia might not be a bad idea as far as the bleedin’ world is concerned. They’ve plunged a lot of people into miserable lives. You’ve only got to be in East Germany to see it. It’s a horrible way to live. It’s like Doncaster.” What a shame he never did TV’s Room 101. Filming would have gone on all night.

The Presidents Club row has now reached peak hysteria. Yet it wasn’t a bunga bunga party. No-one was sold into slavery. Women of their own free will made money by virtue of being attractive. If any blokes tried it on with them, I’m pretty sure they were capable of saying “No” – or “Yes” if the mood took them. A woman on the news today was asked in all seriousness: “Did these men flirt with you?” Flirting!! The dirty bastards. Men in groups can behave appallingly, but so can women in groups. And even if a few carried on in what would have once been called an ungentlemanly manner, the Club has raised millions for charities. The net result of this “scandal” is the Presidents Club has now been dissolved and Great Ormond Street has felt compelled to return the huge sum that the event raised for it. Rolling news and twitter have swelled a minor story into a moral panic. The campaign to criminalise male sexuality continues. And the only losers are sick kids. Well done everybody.

Jan 24. Now it’s Rorke’s Drift’s turn. Public school rebel Lily Allen went into one yesterday after Transport For London workers marked the anniversary of the 1879 defence of Rorke’s Drift in South Africa – as immortalised in the film Zulu. The message, on a TfL information board read: “On this day in history: On the 22-23 of January 1879 in natal South Africa, a small British garrison named Rorke’s Drift was attacked by 4,000 Zulu warriors. The garrison was successfully defended by just over 150 British and colonial troops. Following the battle, eleven men were awarded the Victoria Cross.” Former pop star Lily accused TfL of “celebrating colonialism”, which is odd as they’d merely supplied historical information. But whatever your take on the Zulu Wars, the incredible courage of the men of B Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot should be celebrated – every bloody year. Oh and by the way, Zulu is on Sky Select this Sunday. Do tell Lily. All together: “Men of Harlech stand thee steady...”

Jan 23. A Winston Churchill-themed cafe in North London is being targeted by infantile protesters. The owners have been forced to remove a giant mural of Britain’s wartime hero after hard-Left vandals repeatedly defaced his image. The words ‘scum’, 'warmonger' and 'imperialist' were spray-painted on the wall of the Blighty UK caff in Finsbury Park. Hmm. Winnie was a mighty war-monger of course, but many might feel that taking down Nazi Germany was a cause worth fighting for. Britain stood alone at a time when the Left’s hard man of choice, Joe Stalin, was happily jumping into bed with the Fuhrer. If you agree that Winston was on the side of the angels, and you’re in the area, please give the Blighty UK caff your custom as soon as possible. I suppose it’s too much to hope that the dozy cops might catch and prosecute the idiot vandals. (P.S. After the war, Stalin went on to carve up Eastern Europe in a nakedly imperialist and colonialist manner. The Labour Party continued to describes these dirt-poor undemocratic vassal states as “socialist” way into the 1990s.)

Jan 22. An anti-racist protester carried a placard saying “No country for white old men” on a demo yesterday. Hating white men doesn’t count as racism apparently. Anyone spot the other irony? The demonstrators were supporters of the Labour Party which is currently led by two snow-white old codgers Corbyn and McDonnell...

Re the Oxfam “capitalism” row: Bill Gates gave more dosh to poor country’s last year than Oxfam has done in 15. Boo hiss the nasty capitalist.

Jan 22. I’ve just been speaking to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. What a lovely man. Bright, interesting, funny...it made me wish I was back on the rock press with two pages to fill.

Jan 20. R.I.P. Walter “Jim” Rodford, another rock legend gone. Jim, who was 76, played bass for Argent, the Kinks and the Zombies. “God gave rock’n’roll to you,” his cousin Rod Argent once sang. But Jim gave plenty of great rock to everyone. A founder member of Argent, he was in the Kinks for 18 years, performing on every album from 1979’s Low Budget to Phobia in 1993. He ended up in Rod’s other band, the Zombies, a combo he’d had helped formed back in 1961 but didn’t actually join until 1999. His last gig was just six days ago at the 30A Songwriters festival in Miramar Beach, Florida.

*Here's my latest Rancid Sounds show on Spreaker if you missed it on Tuesday.

Jan 19. Poor old UKIP look as washed up as half a ton of plastic on a Cornish beach. How did it come to this? Nigel Farage’s desertion, followed by a series of flop leaders, has brought the Kippers to the verge of self-destruction...ending perhaps terminally with love-struck Henry “Lonely Loins” Bolton. To many, UKIP were both a single issue party and a one-man band. Having won the Brexit vote (on paper at least – you know the establishment will bugger it up if we let them), and then lost Nige, many political commentators argued that UKIP had also lost their reason for being. This is an argument that suits the Tories, of course, but it’s logically flawed. There has never been more need of a serious political opposition than there is now. Theresa May is a disastrous surrender-junkie who will betray Brexit at the earliest opportunity. Her brand of “Conservatism” includes giving in to every unreasonable EU demand and running down the armed forces at every turn. Her game-plan, like her NHS policy, seems to consist, as Pink Floyd sang, of hanging on in quiet desperation. The woman is weaker than lesbian tea and only in office because the alternative is worse. Corbyn’s Labour party and the Momentum mob would take us back to state-run economic incompetence, with a side order of censorship, double-think and protectionism. It would be catastrophic for the economy, for civil liberties and for our long-term prosperity. That’s why we need a radical party to reject the tame mainstream “consensus” and advocate the genuinely revolutionary alternative: less state, more liberty; less red-tape, more freedom. A party like that would put a commitment to freedom of thought, speech, choice and trade at the heart of its policies. It would deliver a freer and more prosperous future – because market economies always do. Not insular but global. And once we’d freed ourselves from the clutches of pompous, arrogant Euro-bores like Tusk and Barnier, we could get shot of the equally puffed-up bunch of deadbeats in the House of Lords. Then anything is possible. As Joe Strummer once said, the future is unwritten.

Jan 13. It seems I only come on this blog when people pop their clogs these days. I’ve just heard the sad news that Bella Emberg has died. Millions will remember Bella for playing Blunder Woman in star-spangled hot pants alongside Russ Abbot’s comic TV superhero character Cooperman – half Superman, half Tommy Cooper. Bella, who was 80, was born Sybil Dyke in Brighton in 1937. Her career took off in 1980 when Abbot recruited her for Russ Abbot’s Madhouse which later became The Russ Abbot Show. “Russ said he was looking for a fat woman who could keep a straight face,” she once recalled “That was fine by me.” The show launched on BBC1, and then ITV poached it. It ran for sixteen years, from 1980 to 1996, and at its height attracted 18million viewers an episode. Russ’s crazy gang included Dustin Gee, R.I.P., Les Dennis, Jeffrey Holland, Maggie Moone and Michael Barrymore, and yet even in such distinguished company Bella shone. She was the perfect stooge. But her success had the downside of typecasting her. “It’s my fate to play fat, ugly bags,” she once said, but she didn’t seem to mind. (She played a similar part on my own ITV show, in a sketch where I ‘married’ model Fleur Golding only for her to morph into a plus-sized finger-wagging nag a few years down the line... Bella loved every minute, especially the opportunity to tear strips off me.) Perhaps more memorably she also popped up in the Benny Hill Show, Doctor Who, Pompidou and Mel Brooks’ 1981 comedy movue History Of The World, Part 1. She was a lovely woman, and her comic timing was immaculate. You can still see her and Russ as Sonny & Cher singing ‘I Got You Babe’ on YouTube...

PS. Watch this space for news on the Benny Hill Statue campaign very soon. The blog will be back on a regular basis just as soon as I finish my new novel.

Jan 11. Such a shame to hear we’ve lost Fast Eddie Clarke. He was a great guitarist and a good man – one of the last things he did before the pneumonia took him yesterday was to promise to do “anything I can” for the Make A Wish Foundation which helps sick kids. Edward Allen Clarke was born in London in 1950. He started playing guitar seriously aged 15 and gigged in bands like Bitter End and the prog rock stalwarts Zeus before joining Motörhead in 1976, alongside Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor – the classic Motörhead line-up. I was lucky enough to go on the road in Europe and the USA with them... experiences neither my ears nor my sanity will ever recover from. My liver barely did. Originally Eddie was recruited to beef up Larry Wallis’s guitar sound, but when Wallis walked Ed didn’t need any beefing up. As a guitarist, he was more rock ’n’ roll than metal, a bit like Chuck Berry on meth. Lemmy christened him Fast Eddie for obvious reasons. He lasted in the band for six years, playing on classic albums including Motörhead, Overkill, Ace Of Spades and Iron Fist, and singing on five tracks. But Eddie quit in 1982, horrified by Lemmy’s decision to record a cover version of Tammy Wynette’s ‘Stand By Your Man’ with Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics. He felt this compromised the band’s integrity and refused to play on the single. Instead he formed Fastway with UFO’s liver-wrecking legend Pete Way and drummer Jerry Shirley from Humble Pie. And that was a whole different kettle of chaos. R. I.P. Fast Eddie. One of rock’s true giants.


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