BUSHELL ON THE BLOG
April 30. Starmer can’t wind – let alone wound – Boris Johnson; largely because he’s choosing the wrong battles. Why take on the Tories over wallpaper and stay silent on the bigger issue of Boris’s gutless betrayal of our veterans? Largely I’d presume because New Labour were the architects of this whole Northern Irish mess. On every issue that irritates the majority of voters – cancel culture, crime, absurd woke obsessions – the Labour Party are rooting for the wrong side. Starmer was wrong on James Dyson too – the published texts showed that Johnson was simply doing everything in his power to beat Covid. (The BBC wrongly reported that Dyson was a Tory donor; he wasn’t – so the ‘sleaze scandal’ charge collapsed… although of course they didn’t bother to report that bit).
Today’s album reviews: The Coral, the Dropkick Murphys, Pink Floyd Live At Knebworth and a Howard Jones reissue. Read all about ’em in the Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
April 29. We can’t expect Boris Johnson to live in a skip, says Sarah Vine. Expect? No, but from the Prime Minister’s unkempt Barnet and dishevelled clothing it does seem reasonable to assume it.
April 28. As soon as Tony Blair unveiled his new haircut, a lookalike picture of him and Paul Weller went up on Facebook. Very apt. When it came to All Mod Cons, Phony Tony was the master.
April 25. I’m walking queen of 2-Tone Pauline Black down memory lane in today’s Sunday Express, and talking TV with comedian Steve Royle.
April 24. R.I.P. Les McKeown. I wish I could tell you more about my afternoon with the former Bay City Roller but, over the course of many hours of casual drinking in Los Angeles in 1981, Les introduced me to Green Chartreuse and completely fried my memories. It wasn’t an interview. I was out there with the Mo-dettes (oh, Ramona!) and I’d bumped into Les in a bar near the Sunset Marquis. I remember he liked rock bands and Bowie, and… that’s it. The rock press was distinctly unimpressed by mid-70s “Rollermania” but as we now know the Rollers were a direct influence on the Ramones. Pick the bones out of that.
April 23. Happy St George's Day. As Orwell said, “Nothing ever stands still. We must add to our heritage or lose it, we must grow greater or grow less, we must go forward or backward. I believe in England, and I believe that we shall go forward.”
This week’s album reviews – Tom Jones, The Selecter, Imelda May & the Ruts DC only in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Boris has laid into Dominic Cummings today. What will he do for his next trick? Poke a tiger with a shitty stick?
April 21. Former veterans’ minister Johnny Mercer rightly branded the government “cowards” last night for not implementing their pledge to end “vexatious historical investigations” of ex-soldiers who served in Northern Ireland. Good for him. In an interview on Times Radio, former army captain Mercer described the Johnson government as “the most distrustful, awful environment I’ve ever worked in… Almost nobody tells the truth… I don’t think anyone really can get on their high horse about trust and ethics and all the rest of it in politics, because as far as I’m concerned, most of it is a bit of a cesspit.” Yep. Boris promised to end the politically-motivated persecution of our veterans two years ago, yet next week, ex-paras Soldier A and Soldier C, both in their 70s, go on trial for the murder of the Official IRA commander Joe McCann in Belfast in 1972. I don’t have to remind you that Blair gave the terrorists absolution from prosecution, creating a topsy turvy world where terrorists are pardoned for their crimes while those whose served and protected the innocent are victimised. Politicians who wrap themselves in the Union Jack but haven’t got the backbone to stand up for our veterans dishonour themselves, the flag and our country.
April 18. I’m chatting with former rockabilly rebel Imelda May in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with Doctors Of Madness leg-end Richard Strange…
April 17. Simple, solemn, quietly majestic… the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in beautiful St George’s Chapel, Windsor, was a hugely moving tribute to a good man who hated fuss. Prince Philip planned the event down to the last detail. The music alone – I Vow To Thee My Country followed by Jerusalem, Elgar’s Nimrod and For Those In Peril On The Sea – made me well up. If you weren’t touched by the sight of Her Majesty the Queen, all alone, dressed in black with her head bowed, if you couldn’t share her grief and mourn with her, you haven’t got a heart.
April 16. This week’s album reviews – Greta Van Fleet, The Offspring, McCartney III Imagined and the latest Steve Harley/Cockney Rebel repackage.
It’s St George’s Day a week today. I’ll certainly be raising a pint or two in celebration. But am I the only one feeling increasingly that the England we love is lost – or at the very least on its last legs? Pessimistic? Maybe, but could you imagine our forefathers standing for the police raiding a church on Good Friday? There would have been uproar. Our Keystone Cops recently woke an 82year-old, getting her up from her bed to berate her for the ‘crime’ of drinking a cup of tea in a communal care home garden and no one seemed to care too much. This is the kind of petty intrusion we’d associate with a police state. Where is the opposition?
RIP. Helen McCrory; a fine actress with real charisma. She’ll be remembered fondly for playing Polly Gray – Aunt Polly – in Peaky Blinders, but was also Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films, Rose Fitzgerald in North Square and QC Sonia Woodley in Quiz. She could be mesmerising but there was a naughtiness about her too, a great sense of mischief. McCrory loved life. She also seemed much more down-to-earth than most of today’s puffed-up actresses. My condolences to her family. 52 is no age.
April 15. Things I’ve learned in lockdown: 1) the rules of the road – trivial things like No Entry signs, one-way streets and red traffic lights – no longer apply to cyclists. 2) See also that old rule about riding adult bikes on pavements. 3) People will swallow any old crap politicians tell them. 4) People on motorised skateboards have no concept of social distancing. 5) It’s possible to listen to Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis every day for an entire year and hear something different every time. 6) TV has run out of ideas. 7) So has Hollywood. 8) “Woke” capitalism is the biggest threat to freedom of speech since the rise of Middle East clerics. 9) Given time, it is possible even for me to get bored with take-away curries. 10) My middle daughter is single-handedly keeping Costa Coffee’s evil empire in profit. 11) Few things make me smile more in the morning than a tree full of parakeets. 12) Give new writers a try, there are few things better than finding a great author and realising they’ve got five more books. 13) Never again take a foreign holiday for granted… (continued indefinitely).
April 12. I was at my nearest pub at midday today, sitting outside in the cold – Parka on, gloves on – enjoying a few pints of Paulaner with pals. The sooner they open properly the better. The case for partial opening has never convinced and reeks more of Nannying than science. Pubs aren’t just about drinking and socialising. They’re part of the culture, part of the very fabric of the country; and they’re a much-needed sanctuary too. So do your bit. Drink for England. Save Our Pubs. P.S. As far as I recall we drank responsibly, despite two mates being Millwall and the other West Ham – a potentially lethal combination. Granted there was a goat in my back garden the following morning but that could easily have wandered in of its own violation.
Cameron is a wrong’un. Who would have thought it? The slippery git lied for a living (as Carlton TV’s head of PR), he lied in government and when the going got tough he did a runner; all David Cameron ever believed in was the future prosperity of David Cameron. Sound familiar?
April 11. I’m talking codpieces and prog rock with the great Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull in today’s Sunday Express Review – a concept which would have blown the mind of the 15-year-old me clutching my copy of Aqualung. I’m also talking telly with six times snooker world champ Steve Davis.
April 9. News of the death of Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, hit most of us like a kick in the guts. He was 99, of course, but he’d always seemed a permanent fixture in British life. Our Greek-born Viking Prince – his roots were Danish – was so much more than the tactless buffer he was portrayed as in the popular press. As well as being the Queen’s rock for more than six decades, Philip was a moderniser, a doer and a thinker. A bona fide war hero too, praised for his actions at the decisive battle of Cape Matapan. A naturalised Briton, in many ways he embodied the best of us, combining a sense of duty with a dislike of humbug and bureaucracy. He was funny, bright, inquisitive and self-mocking. He cared too and his Duke of Edinburgh award was a boon for millions of kids, encouraging them to be active, endure discomfort, achieve and to find independence. We won’t see his like again.
Today’s album reviews: the Snuts, Cheap Trick, Fleetwood Mac Live & Patawawa, only in the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror.
April 7. Sorry to hear that Paul Ritter has died. The actor was probably best known for playing splenetic Martin Goodman in Friday Night Dinner (who was based on writer Robert Popper’s own father). Martin’s daft projects and exasperated four-letter outbursts were always the best things about the show. Paul died of a brain tumour aged just 54. What a waste of talent. Life is a bitch. As Martin would have said, “Shit on it.” Goodbye bambino.
Figures suggest that four people per million have developed thrombosis from the Oxford/AZ jab. Compared to the rate of women who develop thrombosis from taking the pill (more than one per 10,000) that’s a tiny risk to take.
April 4. Today’s big Sunday Express Review interview is with Billy Murray – the great Don Beech from The Bill who went on to play villainous Johnny Allen on DeadEnders. I’m also talking telly with glam rock pocket rocket Suzi Quatro.
April 3. Someone tweeted yesterday about me managing The Blood back in the eighties. It’s semi-true, and the memories haunt me to this day. Managing The Blood was like trying to lasso a typhoon. They were utterly brilliant but completely beyond guidance. The stories will shock you. I’ll tell them one day.
Anyone feeling sorry for David Cameron over these Greensill revelations? Me neither. The slippery git is said to have gone into hiding. Let’s hope no one finds him.
Cops disrupting a Good Friday service, so soon after cops got an 82-year-old woman from her bed to lecture her for the crime of drinking a cuppa in a communal garden… and still we’re told we having nothing to fear about the government extending their power to meddle in our lives. The only available solution here in London is to vote for any candidate pledged to restore civil liberties in the Mayoral election. It’s a transferrable vote so you could very easily vote for Laurence Fox as a protest and, to get shot of Khan, pick Shaun Bailey as your second choice.
April 2. I’m reviewing a mixed bag of new albums in today’s Express and Mirror – The Dust Coda, Steve Cradock, Morgan Wade and the Fratellis.
March 28. I’m chatting to country sensation Carrie Underwood in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking TV with Canadian thriller writer Linwood Barclay.
March 27. A bit of bad news. The publication date for my latest Harry Tyler novel has been put back until the 9th September. More details nearer the time.
March 26. Sir Keir Starmer is getting stick for his insipid leadership of the Labour Party, and rightly. At the moment we haven’t got an effective opposition – the only people questioning government policy are the Tories’ own backbenchers. I’ve been asking friends what Starmer stands for and nobody seems to know. I doubt even he does. In fairness nobody knows what Boris stands for either. Bojo lost his mojo when he caught the virus last year and it has knocked all the fight out of him. The PM has turned into the human equivalent of the Ever Given – the perfect metaphor for this government. While the mega-ship is blocking the Suez Canal, Johnson and the Sage doom-mongers are blocking us from returning to normal life. But why exactly? If the vaccine works, and we’re assured it does, then why must society be locked down for yet more months? If every adult has been offered the jab by 17th May, why can’t we travel? We’ve got the Get Out Of Jail pass so why is Boris so intent on crippling the economy further? Unfortunately, Starmer’s risk-averse Labour Party would lock us down even longer.
We have the same lack of effective opposition in the London Mayoral race. Sadiq Khan has been a useless mayor, more interested in grandstanding than in improving the lot of Londoners. While jumping on each and every fashionable bandwagon, Khan has done precious little in the fight against knife crime. He’s failed to meet his house-building target and his transport policies are beyond nuts. It would only take one strong politician to take Khan down. Shaun Bailey, the opposition frontrunner, seems a good guy but is he forceful enough to stand out amongst big personalities like Laurence Fox and Brian Rose who are competing for the free-thinking vote. Sian Berry and Piers Corbyn will split the Left making it all too close to call.
Today’s album reviews: Evanescence, Smith/Kotzen, Carrie Underwood and Suzi Quatro only in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Jane Fonda says she fantasises about younger men. At 83, isn’t every man younger? Especially the virile ones?
Things I hate: e-scooters – on pavements, on roads, going the wrong way down one-way-streets… they’re a recipe for disaster. The EU, but at least they’ve showed us their true colours – disorganised, inefficient, bureaucratic, tyrannical, and utterly useless. And anyone who thinks a Batley schoolteacher should be sacked for showing pupils a religious cartoon. People are free to follow any religion they choose in this country, but one of the many great things about Britain is our freedom to mock political and religious doctrine. Question everything. It’s your right.
March 21. Sting tells all about his new album Duets in today’s Sunday Express Review. The comp took so long to come it must surely qualify as tantric. Plus I’m talking TV with Georgia ‘Toff’ Toffolo.
March 20. Hot news for Gonads fans! We’ve recorded three new songs – Three Chords & The Truth, Promised Land and So Glad To Be Alive. Before that comes out, a brand new GBX single Shona & The Alien will be released on St George’s Day by LA indie label CAR.
March 19. I’m reviewing new albums from Loretta Lynn, Sting, Andrew Farriss and Pet Needs, only in today’s Daily Express & the Daily Mirror.
March 15. So sad to hear that Marvelous Marvin Hagler has died aged just 66. New Jersey southpaw Hagler ruled middleweight boxing for seven years. “Nothing can intimidate me,” the champ said. “I just go out there and destroy. Hagler was up there with the likes of Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy ‘Hit-man’ Hearns as one of the greatest and most thrilling middleweights of the century. A true legend.
March 14. I’m interviewing Lancashire’s leading prog rock eccentric, former Yes singer and Accrington Stanley fan Jon Anderson in today’s Sunday Express, and talking TV with Heather Small from M People.
March 13. The Benny Hill Statue Campaign is aiming to put on a week of fund-raising events in April 2022 to mark the 30th anniversary of Benny’s death. Sadly, the biggest theatre in Southampton yesterday refused to let us stage an event there on the grounds that the CEO didn’t think now was the right time to raise the statue and didn’t like the big name comedians who had agreed to take part. So not only is the guy snubbing the biggest star ever to come out of Southampton, he’s also setting himself up as an arbiter of who is and who isn’t “allowed” to make us laugh. Who does he think he is, the BBC? Here is my vow: the show will go on, at another venue – or venues – and the statue will be raised. Lockdown has made us realise how much we need laughter, and how poor television has become at delivering it. That’s why we should cherish the memory of genuine comedy icons. It also makes me think, if we can have GB News, why not GB Comedy?
March 12. This week’s album reviews: Gabrielle, Thunder, Tiggs Da Author & Uriah Heep’s Ken Hensley, RIP, only in today’s Daily Express & Daily Mirror.
My review on Oprah with Meghan and Harry will run on Sunday, but since writing it, it has become clear that several of the claims raised on the show have more holes in them than a tramp’s pants. There was no special licence granted for the couple to marry privately before their wedding, what they had with Archbishop Welby two days before was a rehearsal. If Meghan’s passport was confiscated, as she claimed, how did she manage to holiday in Italy, France, Ibiza and the USA? The Duchess said that she only left home twice in a four-month period – the official Court Circular records show otherwise. Under scrutiny the headline-grabbing statements fall apart like an over-baked cake. Comics have taken to describing Harry as “the Hostage”. It certainly seems as if he is out of his depth here. He can’t possibly have realised how potentially damaging the racial allegations, deliberately (perhaps maliciously) raised but never properly explored or examined, would be to the Royals. Prince William insisted today “We are very much not a racist family.” Good on him. The Queen’s record demonstrates that beyond all doubt. Could any monarch have done more to support and nurture the Commonwealth than Elizabeth II?
March 10. R.I.P. Sarah Everard. I feel for her family and for what the poor woman must have gone through. For a serving police officer to be arrested for her murder makes this dreadful story even worse. What a shocking betrayal of trust and duty. Sadly, if found guilty, the killer cop can’t hang. So let’s hope someone in the prison service will have the foresight to leave a razor blade in his cell so that he can do the decent thing.
March 9. Tonight’s radio show is a Sounds Of Glory repeat featuring Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Ramones, Buzzcocks, Oasis, the Damned, the Clash, the Baboon Show and many more, including the immortal Charlie Drake.
For my verdict on that interview, see the Daily Star Sunday at the weekend.
March 7. I’m chatting to Gilbert O’Sullivan in today’s Sunday Express and talking TV with Lost Voice Guy Lee Ridley. Here it is online.
March 5. Today’s album reviews: Kings Of Leon, The Alarm, United State Of Mind (Maxi Priest & Robin Trower) and a posthumous release from the late, great Chas Hodges – only in today’s Express and Mirror.
All week people have been asking me if I knew Roy Greenslade. I did, a long time ago, and he was always a slimeball. What irritates most about Greenslade’s IRA confession is the weasel way he tries to justify their murder of non-combatants. He writes of “the killing of civilians, albeit by accident”. If you plant a bomb in a pub frequented by young working-class people, such as the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern In The Town in Birmingham or the Kings Arms in south east London, as the Provisional IRA did then there is nothing accidental about your intentions or the consequences of them. There was nothing accidental about the atrocities the Provos committed in Enniskillen or Tullyvallen either. The ocean-going hypocrite recalls the “painful moment” journalist Philip Geddes was murdered, along with two other civilians and three police officers, when his beloved “freedom fighters” planted a bomb outside that well-known military target Harrods in 1983. The “pain” he felt did nothing to dent his support of IRA tactics. I knew him briefly in the mid-80s (ex-Maoist Roy used to enjoy daily cocaine breaks at work) before he became editor of the Daily Mirror and infamously ran a rigged £1million Spot The Ball competition on the front page. In the Guardian in 2014, Greenslime questioned the testimony of alleged rape victim, Mairia Cahill, great-niece of prominent Belfast republican Joe Cahill, after she’d said she had been sexually abused aged 16 by an IRA member. Unbelievably, by then he was “professor of journalism” at City University lecturing the media on ethics.
March 4. Sorry to hear of the death of reggae giant Neville Livingston, AKA Bunny Wailer, who was one third of the original Wailers with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Listen to Cool Runnings for a taste of his brilliance.
March 3. What a lousy budget. If a Labour Chancellor had delivered that, the Tories would have piled in like jackals on a wounded antelope. In fact, when Labour suggested raising corporation tax to 26% in 2015, it was Rishi who told them that it’d damage jobs and growth. Now he’s pumped it up to 25% himself. Suddenly a Tory Chancellor is a convert to high taxes, and a Tory government is dishing out the highest taxes we’ve seen for fifty years. Tomorrow’s newspapers will say, well he had to raise the money somehow to pay for the furloughing and the lockdown… Except it was a political choice for the Johnson government to shut down the economy, and it’s a political choice to keep it locked down now. It’s also clearly Boris’s choice to push us in the European direction of ever bigger government. Unfortunately Bojo’s Blue Labour are as doomed to failure as Blair’s New Labour. The economic advantages of Brexit will be lost. A real radical would have slashed and simplified taxes. That’s the kickstart we need.
March 2. Here’s Last night's Highway To Hell, heavier than James "Arg" Argent in concrete wellies...
R.I.P. Ian St John. The former Liverpool legend has died aged 82 after a long struggle with cancer. What a player he was. Few fans will forget that jack-knife header that gave the Reds a 2-1 win at the 1965 FA Cup. As Shankly said, “In the beginning, there was St John.” The Saint went on to become a TV institution, alongside the brilliant Jimmy Greaves as the unforgettable double act Saint & Greavsie.