Friday, December 31, 2010

Frinton for the incontinent

Happy new year to all my reader. Take your place at Miss Sophie's dinner table.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 24 part 4

To close the festivities, we return to Marty Feldman, aided and abetted by Tim Brooke-Taylor, in a Punch and Judy show. After this, Marty pays tribute to the unsung heroes of the BBC. About time that someone did, too.

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 24 part 3

Nearly there. The penultimate selection in this year's advent calendar is a festive selection of items from the Fishguard news desk, staffed by Hugh Pugh, a man with an abrasive manner and a microphone that's never plugged in. Watch out for the table of Jesus-related artifacts. Re-watching that bit earlier caused the inhabitants of the Cheeseford living room to burst out laughing in a manner that bordered on indecent.

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 24 part 2

From Danny Baker's appearance on the TV version of Room 101 (Get well soon, Candyman), here's a devastating critique of consumer shows. "Heh heh. Old Joe...".

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 24 part 1

As it's Christmas Eve all day and gremlins have hitherto prevented me opening some of the windows of this advent calendar at the correct time, we end with a bumper rollover jackpot of clips, chosen largely out of pure selfishness. We kick off with Martin Alan Feldman and John Junkin with the George Mitchell singers, rewriting 'The Whiffenpoof Song'. My good friend Gavin Sutherland showed me this sketch during a mammoth session of port and brandy at his luxury Wanstead penthouse flat over a decade ago, and it's been in my pantheon of TV greatness ever since. Not least because the end credit is sung. Take it away, ladies and gentlemen.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 23

Here we see Les Dawson getting a curiously muted response to one of his gags. What's wrong with this audience? Don't they appreciate quality? What's wrong with the audience is that there isn't one. Any laughter you hear is the crew in studio D at the BBC's Elstree centre at the stagger-through for the 1990 live final of Opportunity Knocks.

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 22

Take two grown adults arsing about on a hillside in fake slow motion, an election slogan that we can all stand by and Frank Ricotti's wonderful arrangement of 'On a Clear Day You Can See Forever', and you have my favourite closing credit sequence of any programme ever: the end of the last episode of The Beiderbecke Affair. Alan Plater was a great man and, on the one occasion when I met him, everything I hoped he would be. Funny, interesting and kind. He's missed already.

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 21

On the 21st day of Advent, a nice chap sent to me a tie saying LWT. I don't wear ties much any more, but I have a real need to give this one an outing on some suitable occasion, says the man who graduated from university in a green Young's brewery tie.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar days 18, 19 and 20

Apologies for radio silence (my favourite station) over the last couple of days. I have been away from home, and had unexpected trouble uploading various goodies at various points. So, here's a bumper package. Firstly, the fruits of a recent fact-finding mission in the environs of the remains of ATV Centre, B1 2JP.

Above, we have the back end of this fine edifice. Why does it say 'Accident and Emergency' over the ramp? Ah, well, the derelict building was used as a location for the remade Survivors. Then, slightly to the left, we have some fetching octagonal planters, the honeycomb being very much a motif used in the building's construction.

Meanwhile, the only visible signage linking the concrete hulk with its illustrious past was on the door of the electricity substation by the scene dock doors. Maybe one day, when Uncle Lew's pile is finally demolished, a blue plaque will be erected on the replacement saying "Crossroads was perpetrated here".

The reason for being in the West Midlands at the time was one of the always-excellent Kaleidoscope shindigs in Stourbridge, after which the following artifact was brought forth by one of the revellers and snapped. Layzengennelmen, I bring you a genuine LWT mug. (Bottle Boys something something, the punchline writes itself).

This is not the only item of London Weekend merchandise we'll be featuring in this parade of jollification. Oh noes. Be patient, dear anoraks. Tomorrow will bring hither the one item that everyone should be wearing to the office Christmas party.

Before then, though, another coffee-slurping implement from the glory days of the federal ITV system, courtesy of BBC Radio Norfolk's Graham Barnard, who gets to drink out of it, the lucky so-and-so.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 17

At the risk of peaking too soon, let us go back to BBC1 on Saturday 25 September 1993. The show is Danny Baker After All. The guest is Bob Monkhouse. This was about the time that Monkhouse was emerging from years of being dismissed as just a game-show host, and being recognised as the serious comic contender that he really was. It's Baker, it's Monkhouse. It's Baker and Monkhouse. There's your top of the shop right there.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 16

A few years ago, perhaps conscious of the sedentary nature of many of TV viewers, ITV decided to get pro-active. As part of its 'Britain On The Move' initiative, it doled out any number of these stylish pedometers, all the easier to calculate how close one is to one's required 10,000 steps a day. The nation took the hint, lost weight and obesity ceased to be a major problem. Tomorrow: The Border Television meter-wheel, issued to Cumbrian residents to help them calculate how far they'd walked that day to avoid watching Look Who's Talking.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 15

Welcome to transmission control at Cheeseford Towers. 'scuse the mess. On the right is my trusty late-model GPO 746 (so late it says BT on the bottom), and on the left is my daughter's favourite toy. It's the one in the middle that concerns us. It comes from Kent House (aka the London Weekend building on the South Bank of the Thames) and was part of the communications network between transmission controllers at the various regional ITV stations. Now, with all of ITV played out from two sites (Chiswick and Leeds), the network is redundant, and these glorious red batphones were skipped, apart from those salvaged by staff, one of whom sent me this example. I have considered plugging it in and telling "that cow in Network 1 to shut up", but what if it works? And yes, I know it's BBC, but who cares. Not sure what I'm on about? Show, don't tell.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cheesford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 14

John Dankworth is largely responsible for my love of jazz. It's equal parts him, Duke Ellington and my grandad, who introduced me to both. Obviously I know my grandad well, but I never met the Duke. I did, however, meet Sir John when he played a jazz festival in Guernsey in 2004, which I was covering for Crescendo magazine. He was a delightful, patient man, who put up with all of my anoraky questions and answered them. It was a thrill also on that gig to renew my acquaintance with the great Allan Ganley, a drummer of distinction and a lovely bloke. Passing his Ludwig 400 up to him on stage, I said "Ah, you've got a brass shelled one". He said "Yes, how can you tell through the chrome?". My reply: "Mine's an alloy shell. Yours is about twice the weight." Name-drops over. When BBC4 hoiked out a few clips of the great JD recently, I was knocked bandy by this arrangement of 'Just In Time', and thrilled to see and hear heroes like Kenny Wheeler, Alan Branscombe and Ronnie Stephenson going to town (Ronnie's the drummer - he began life as a tap dancer, and he drummed like one, with great lightness and grace). A shame it was cropped to 16:9 and shown slightly out of sync. I can't fix the former, but I have the latter, and with just over 4 hours to go until day 14, here is 'Just In Time'.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar days 12 & 13

Yes, sorry, I missed a day. However, I feel I have an excellent excuse, a hard drive failure on Saturday resulting in the purchase of components for a new computer, which I'm building right now. It wasn't a whim or a snap decision. Long ago, I decided that the next time something major needed replacing on my nearly 6-year-old Pentium, I'd future-proof myself by getting a new machine with bags of upgrade potential. So it is. Anyway, have a Temporary Fault caption to cover yesterday.

And for today's delicacy, we return to the 1984 Royal Variety Performance for a reminder just how good Dustin Gee was. Now, I love Les Dennis to smithereens, but there can be no doubt who the senior partner was in their act. That wordless Robert Mitchum impersonation is enough to ensure Gee's pre-eminence, to say nothing of the Russell Harty. He went far far too soon, and I'm not just saying that because he smiled and waved back when my grandad and I said 'Hello, Dustin' as we walked past him on the prom at Great Yarmouth at some point in the early 1980s. Note also Les Dennis impersonating Max Bygraves as host of Family Fortunes. Who knew, eh?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 11

This one is inspired by recent events, namely the picture of Dave Gilmour's son swinging from a flag on the Cenotaph. Twitter was alight with amusement and disgust in equal measure. The thing that disturbed me most was that a Cambridge history student claimed not to know what he was swinging from. The act itself reminded me of nothing so much as a charming routine devised by the French humorist Robert Dhery in the 1950s, and made popular over here by the Crazy Gang in their Victoria Palace revue Jokers Wild. Dhery and company came over for the 1984 Royal Variety Performance and revived the routine, which I present for your delectation here. If there was anything this skilful or delightful on the bill at this year's show, I'll eat any one of my many hats. Over to Denis Norden for some excellent context:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 10

Following a request on The Mausoleum Club, here is a brief clip from 14 June 1991 (ignore the Aston) showing Cliff Michelmore unplugging a Link 110 television camera, thus closing the BBC's Lime Grove studios. The sequence is not quite what it seems. The archive listing for the show makes it clear that it was pre-recorded earlier that afternoon. It's still a rather affecting moment, though.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 9

In the days before viral marketing and the Internet, how did the TV moguls promote their best and brightest shows? By postcard. And here's one of them, a charming little notelet sent to movers and shakers to alert them to the return of ABC TV's summer replacement for ATV's Sunday Night at the London Palladium, hosted by the erstwhile brothers Weinstein from the stage of the ABC Theatre in Blackpool. I went round the building before they turned it into a nightclub. There were still camera cable junction boxes on the stage walls. Now where are the photographs I took?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 8

In which I break cover and make a cameo appearance, holding the first advent calendar item from the ganderbag sent by an anonymous well-wisher. Yes, folks, it's a Daybreak mug, which I hope to use for many a day without breaking it. It's a special limited edition. One each for every viewer. You've been a wonderful audience, I'm here all advent, tip your waitress and try the stuffing.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 7

I couldn't leave Johnny Carson and the Tonight Show behind without offering this clip up for your delectation. I've probably linked to it before, but what the hell. Here's one of the world's greatest guitarists with one of the world's greatest TV house bands - the NBC Orchestra - building a heap big new encampment around Cherokee. I'm only a drummer, but friends who play the tuned instruments tell me that this number is a bugger of the first water. They talk of it in terms of a wartime bombing raid ("We only lost eight men on the middle eight of Cherokee last night"). Walking out and taking his seat in the time it takes the band to play its rip-roaring intro (and how classy and nonchalant is that?) Johnny McL begins a little stiffly stating the theme on this one, but once his solo starts, he's away. Would that all musical interludes on chat shows were this gobsmacking.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar

Continuing the Letterman/Carson theme from yesterday, here's the close of that tribute show, with Doc Severinsen, Tommy Newsome and Ed Shaughnessy from the Tonight Show band playing Johnny's favourite song 'Here's That Rainy Day'.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 5

Today's window opens on the Ed Sullivan Theater (sic) in New York in 2005, on the night when David Letterman was paying tribute to his mentor, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson:

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 4

For day 4, we come to a relic from the brief period where LWT tried to wrest control of Saturday nights from BBC1 by Bruce force. Whaddyamean, you don't want to watch Steve Jones and his £1000 Pyramid or the Glums, to say nothing of the world's only voice-controlled video game, Teletennis (shudder), or a woman dressed as the GPO Tower? As it turned out, all they needed to own the biggest night of the week was Duncan Goodhew's scalp in a box. More follows tomorrow...

Friday, December 03, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 3

Moving slightly away from festive greetings, we turn to 1959-ish, and this trailer caption for the BBC's coverage of the Le Mans 24-hour race. It is the work of graphic designer Terence Greer, and represents an early outing for the Richard Levin-designed BBC tv logo which, quite frankly, has never been bettered in terms of corporate identity. I'm a fan of Eric Gill (well, his work), but nothing in the BBC's post-1997 look can hold a candle to Levin's logo.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar day 2

Ah, this is more like it. A relic from the days of the only two-pronged Trident there's ever been. Interesting that it uses the staple 1970s TV graphic colours of blue and yellow, as Tyne-Tees did for its colour ident, but which Yorkshire, very much the dominant half of the partnership, never did.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar 2010 day 1

Another year, another Cheeseford Virtual Archive TV Advent Calendar. There's a bumper crop of clips, pictures and broadcasting ephemera to open day-by-day this year, and we open with this cheery welcome from Auntie, taken from the souvenir programme of the 1973 Royal Variety Performance. A tad mundane compared to the various ads placed in the same publication by the various ITV contractors, as we shall discover in the fullness of time.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Fry's no longer a delight

I am a fan of Stephen Fry. By which I mean that I regard A Bit of Fry & Laurie as one of the high watermarks of television comedy, have read and enjoyed most of his books and find myself relistening to my recordings of his 1980s Radio 4 series Saturday Night Fry on an alarmingly regular basis. I do not, however, follow him on Twitter. A similarly-minded friend put it perfectly the other night. "I don't follow Fry because I am a fan of his and I want to remain one," said my chum. Too right. It's not just Fry. I tend not to follow celebrities of any description. There are a couple of exceptions. Peter Serafinowicz (@serafinowicz) is one. He doesn't babble on about the minutiae of his doubtless very exciting life. He just tries one-liners out, and some of them are fantastic, so I find him very worth following.

However, if you are on Twitter, it's almost impossible to avoid Fry. Even if he weren't all over social networking like shit in a field, people tend to re-tweet his bon mots in lieu of their own insight and wit. So, when he flounces, as he did last week, following volleys of criticism about some ill-advised remarks he made in an interview with the magazine Attitude, the ripples reach even those who shelter from his sprawling online presence.

I'm not remotely impressed by the way he's handled the affair. Flounces are twatty, whether you're famous or a whohe like me. The difference is in the response. When a whohe flounces, the usual reply is "Don't let the door hit you on the arse as you leave". This, generally, is the correct reaction. When a celebrity flounces, though, hundreds, even thousands of people beseech said personality not to go. "We love you, we need you." Really? You need some bloke/woman off the telly posting inconsequential messages about what they're having for dinner and who they're having dinner with? Why? Also, you can only flounce convincingly once. Fry's flounced from Twitter now twice, oddly enough, both times on 31 October. Do trick or treaters annoy him that much?

When Fry typed "Bye bye" last Saturday, the floodgates opened. "Come back, fluffy clever man. We wuv oo". I knew he'd be back. So it has proved. Instead of pretending nothing had happened and carrying on as heretofore, or even (and I appreciate that this is radical) admitting that he said what he was quoted as saying, Fry has returned with a long, blustering, self-justifying blog post, seeming to deny responsibility for any aspect of the whole sorry affair.

"Was it naïve in me that it never for a second crossed my mind that this conversation would be sold on to other papers? That it would be “picked up” and make a disastrous move from being a conversation to some kind of public “declaration”?" Yes, Stephen, it was. Don't come the innocent. You know how it works. By saying that it was "sold on" makes Attitude look grubby and venal, but do we know that money changed hands? Isn't it far more likely that Attitude sends complimentary copies to the mainstream press month-in, month-out, and occasionally the mainstreamers pick up on something within it?

For me, the worst aspect of Fry's bluster is his attempt to besmirch the author of the piece, Paul Flynn. "Maybe I should have guessed that the interviewer wanted not an interview but a story," Fry informs his blog readers. If this stuff was such dynamite, and Flynn wanted to capitalise on it, why did he put it in the sixth page of an eight-page feature? However, the public perception of journalists is so low that this sort of horseshit obfuscation actually works. Fry hammers his disdain home with "You will perhaps say that after nearly 30 years in the public realm I should have known better than to allow myself to have a free-wheeling happy, explorative and silly conversation with any journalist." Countless fans have replied dutifully along the lines of "What do you expect from a journalist?"

Ah, but what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. When the Daily Mail laid into Fry recently and dismissed him as a 'quizmaster', he responded by saying that, with his many contributions to esteemed publications over the years, he was more a journalist than a quizmaster, but that a journalist would never use the word 'journalist' as an insult. At the time, I thought "Good on you, Stephen", but now, I fear that this claim might come back to bite him on the arse. He claims that journalists can't be trusted. OK, but he also described himself recently as a journalist. Why then should anyone trust Fry? You'd think he'd have been too clever to set a trap for himself like this, wouldn't you?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Writers' rights - PLR under threat

As part of Dave and Gideon's bonfire of quangos, it looks like the Public Lending Right administration system will be dismantled and the admin staff made redundant. For the uninitated, the PLR is the payment that each author receives when their works are borrowed from a public library. Currently, it stands at around 6p per loan. At the moment, the PLR payments themselves are not under threat, but is this the thin end of the wedge? Unless you're Katie Price or someone else who earns so much from books that you can pay some other bugger to write them for you, writing isn't a well-paid business, and for most authors, the annual PLR payment is a welcome boost. This year, I received £52.78, which might not sound a great deal, but came in handy for replacing the failing hard drive in my desktop PC. The great and the good fought for PLR back in the 1970s, and it still seems like something worth protecting. The current administrative arrangements have long been praised for their efficiency. As The Writers' Guild points out, placing the administrative centre in an employment blackspot like Stockton does a lot of good for the local economy. I have a distinct and horrifying feeling that whoever takes on the running of PLR won't do it as economically or as well as Jim Parker and his small team have done up until now. I believe that this is one quango that offers excellent value for money, and which should be saved. Anyone else with me?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pope pourri

Very occasionally, I wish I still lived in London. Now is not one of those occasions. Watching the news last night, and seeing all of the streets blocked up with nutters hoping to catch a glimpse of a German in a silly gown, I realised that I'm better off out of it. Meanwhile, the aforementioned German pensioner made comments about religion being marginalised in the modern world. Sadly I don't think it is being marginalised. If it were, that would be progress. Anyway, can someone wake me when he's pissed off back to the village where he kids himself he's 'head of state'? Ta.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nazi Gold - not a new radio station

Have a listen to the clip on this page. It's from Richard Bacon's BBC Radio 5 Live show a few days ago, and features an excerpt of an interview with sacked TalkSPORT presenter Jon Gaunt. Well, I say interview. It is, unsurprisingly, a Gaunt monologue. It's interesting to imagine what it would have been like if a guest had tried the same tricks on Gaunt's show, back when he had one. In particular that hideous, smug "Over to you". Said guest would have been reminded in no uncertain terms whose show it was, I'm guessing.

As it happens, I believe there is a place for Gaunt's style of radio, but I also believe that, to pull it off, you have to be far cleverer than Gaunt seems to be. By all means be contrarian and controversial. Go ahead and wind people up. Feel free to cloak yourself in righteous indignation. Don't, however, lose your rag, whatever you do. You'll have lost the argument, and your job too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Idents World Cup - final results

Well, the votes have been totted up and the result of the Idents World Cup final is as follows:

ATV 4 Thames 2

If it had been a Prodcaps World Cup, the boot might have been on the other foot, but I think that this is a fair and decisive result, and I'd like to thank Sir Lew Grade and Howard Thomas for the clean way in which their teams played. Let's hear that Midlands marvel once again.

Semi-final results and, holy crap, it's the final

Thames 3 HTV 1

Bad luck for LWT in the semi-finals, scoring a lone goal against Sir Lew and the might of the Midlands. Bad luck also to the HTV aerial, the only ident in this semi-final line-up not to feature any vuvuzela-like brass scoring. However, HTV does take back to Pontcanna the 3rd place title. Which means that, live and at the same time as the footballers go at it, we ident fans see a stand-off between the ATV in Colour 'Zoom' ident and the Thames skyline. A few classics have fallen by the wayside, but personally, I think two stunning teams have made it to the final. Now all that remains is to decide the victor. Votes will close at the final whistle in South Africa. Get on with it.

Quarter-final results and semi final matches

No time Toulouse. The results are as follows:

Harlech eye test 1 LWT river 5
Thames skyline 5 Channel 4 original 2
ATV Zoom 7 Westward galleon 0
HTV Aerial 4 BBC mirror globe 3

Oh dear. That means it's:

LWT river vs ATV Zoom
Thames skyline vs HTV aerial.

Votes by 2pm Sunday.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Block of 16 results and quarter finals

Apologies for the delay in getting these results to you. I really didn't expect to spend Wednesday to Friday of this week in hospital. Best be quick.

Harlech eye test 5 BBC Schools Diamond 1
Grampian saltire 1 Thames skyline 6
LWT river 5 BBC2 stripey 2
TSW tree of bras 1 Channel 4 original 5
ATV Zoom in Colour 5 Open University 2
Yorkshire Television Colour Production 1 HTV Aerial 6
Anglia knight 3 Westward galleon 4
Central cake mark 1 1 BBC1 mirror globe 5

So, that means the quarter finals look like this:

Harlech eye test vs LWT river
Thames skyline vs Channel 4 original
ATV Zoom vs Westward galleon
HTV Aerial vs BBC mirror globe.

As we're playing catch up, I'm calling a curfew of 2am on this one, with voting on the semi-finals to follow, running into the morning, then the finals to run at the same time as the football World Cup final.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Group H results & block of 16 matches

And so the group stages of the Idents World Cup draw to a close. Over to Camp Julian in Belfast for the group H results:

BBC1 1974-1981 Futura mirror globe 6 BBC TV bat wings 1
BBC TV bat wings 3 Westward galleon 4
Westward galleon 4 Tyne Tees 1980s 3
Tyne Tees 1980s 1 BBC1 1974-1981 Futura mirror globe 6
BBC1 1974-1981 Futura mirror globe 4 Westward galleon 2
BBC TV bat wings 3 Tyne Tees 1980s 4

I make that BBC1 on 9 points, Westward on 6 points and Tyne Tees on 3 points. Which means that the block of 16 is as follows:

Harlech eye test vs BBC Schools Diamond
Grampian saltire vs Thames skyline
LWT river vs BBC2 stripey
TSW tree of bras vs Channel 4 original
ATV Zoom in Colour vs Open University
Yorkshire Television Colour Production vs HTV Aerial
Anglia knight vs Westward galleon
Central cake mark 1 vs BBC1 mirror globe

Let's be having your votes, in by 23.59 on Tuesday 6 July.

Group G results and Group H matches

Yes, I know the group stages are dragging on longer than the real thing, but I don't have FIFA's resources. I do still aim, somehow, to get this thing finished at the same time as the football shiznit. Anyway, we must move with all speed to the Michael Speake Leisure Centre on Norwich's busy Prince of Wales Road for the group G results.

Anglia knight 4 From the North - Granada 2
From the North - Granada 4 Teledu Cymru dragon 2
Teledu Cymru dragon 2 Central cake mark 1 5
Central cake mark 1 5 From the North - Granada 1
Teledu Cymru dragon 3 Anglia knight 4
Anglia knight 4 Central cake mark 1 3

So, that's 9 points for the Narvicensian silver knight and 6 points for the Central cake. The Granada arrow's lone victory against the Teledu Cymru dragon is not enough to see it through. We can only speculate on how the blue Granada Colour Production card would have fared. And so to H:

BBC1 1974-1981 Futura mirror globe vs BBC TV bat wings
BBC TV bat wings vs Westward galleon
Westward galleon vs Tyne Tees 1980s
Tyne Tees 1980s vs BBC1 1974-1981 Futura mirror globe
BBC1 1974-1981 Futura mirror globe vs Westward galleon
BBC TV bat wings vs Tyne Tees 1980s

We're playing catch-up, so votes by 8pm tonight - Monday 5 July - please.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Group F results and Group G matches

England having given us what we all expected sooner or later, the Idents World Cup becomes the only game in town. ATV flags will be available in all branches of Poundland before the end of the week. And so to the Mike Prince Velodrome in Tamworth for the Group F matches.

HTV aerial 7 Open University 2
Open University 6 Scottish Television spinning lion 3
Scottish Television spinning lion 0 BBC2 Colour 1967 9
BBC2 Colour 1967 4 HTV Aerial 5
Open University 5 BBC2 Colour 1967 4
Scottish Television spinning lion 2 HTV aerial 7

A clean sweep for the aerial, and, in second place, the improvers of Milton Keynes.

Right, let's crack on with the next round:

Anglia knight vs From the North - Granada
From the North - Granada vs Teledu Cymru dragon
Teledu Cymru dragon vs Central cake mark 1
Central cake mark 1 vs From the North - Granada
Teledu Cymru dragon vs Anglia knight
Anglia knight vs Central cake mark 1.

Answers by 00.01 on Thursday 1 July.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Group E results & Group F matches

How remiss of me. I appear to have dropped the ball slightly. Never mind, we go live now to t where they're using Peter Lewis's jumpers for goalposts for the Group E results in the Idents World Cup. The games were scored as follows:

Channel 3 North East 2 Border chopsticks 7
Border chopsticks 2 Yorkshire Television Colour Production 7
Yorkshire Television Colour Production 0 ATV in Colour Zoom 9
ATV in Colour 'Zoom' 9 Border chopsticks 0
Channel 3 North East 0 ATV in Colour 'Zoom' 9
Yorkshire Television Colour Production 9 Channel 3 North East 0

As expected, C3NE got nowhere, and is slinking back to Newcastle as we speak. A fixture against the hated ident gave Border's chopsticks its only win, but the worthy qualifiers are Yorkshire on 6 points and the sheer class of the ATV in Colour Zoom ident on 9 points.

And so to Group F.

HTV aerial vs Open University
Open University vs Scottish Television spinning lion
Scottish Television spinning lion vs BBC2 Colour 1967
BBC2 Colour 1967 vs HTV Aerial
Open University vs BBC2 Colour 1967
Scottish Television spinning lion vs HTV aerial

Another very strong group, I feel. Can monochrome beardies in kipper ties writing quadratic equations on a roller blackboard outclass Paint Along With Nancy? Or will BBC2's first colour symbol bring the trophy home to Pres B? Or will revolving wildlife spin the cup back to Hope Street, Glasgow? It's over to you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Group D results & Group E matches

You join us live at the Tom Edwards Space Centre, Teddington Lock, Middlesex, TW11 9NT, for the thrilling stand-off between some of the greats of identdom. As Tanya Jones of Gypsy Creams pointed out, this was a strong group, but I think honour has been served. The rule of thumb so far has been 'black and white idents don't make it', and this round doesn't buck that trend, with Rediffusion London winning one of its games and drawing another, but failing to overcome the might of the BBC2 stripes on 6 points or the original Channel 4 blocks on 7 points.

And so to group E (the way you like it, really like it). Pick the bones out of this little lot:

Channel 3 North East vs Border chopsticks
Border chopsticks vs Yorkshire Television Colour Production
Yorkshire Television Colour Production vs ATV in Colour Zoom
ATV in Colour 'Zoom' vs Border chopsticks
Channel 3 North East vs ATV in Colour 'Zoom'
Yorkshire Television Colour Production vs Channel 3 North East

I think I know the way this one's going to end up. Can one of the most hated rebrandings of broadcasting history and a still ident with no music overcome the majesty of two of the ITV system's biggest hitters? I'm going to go out on a limb and say no chance. Vote with your hearts and heads, please, and don't just be perverse to prove me woefully wrong.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Group C results & Group D matches

As the chorus of "He's coming home, he's coming home, he's coming...Rooney's coming home" gets loud enough to drown out the Uwe Seelers, as, thanks to Danny Baker, vuvuzelas are now properly known (and if you're the twat who was blowing one in Norwich market place yesterday, a pox on you), we at the Idents World Cup alone give hope. Yes, like the old Home Internationals, it's a contest where the trophy's guaranteed to stay in the British Isles. And so we move swiftly to the Tony Curriedrome in Glesga for the Group C results.

Southern star 2 LWT river 11
LWT river 12 BBC1 COW 1
BBC1 COW 4 TSW tree of bras 9
TSW tree of bras 4 LWT river 9
Southern star 3 TSW tree of bras 10
BBC1 COW 8 Southern star 4

An unsurprising clean sweep for the LWT river, but a sharp intake of breath for number 2. I was quietly expecting the bucolic lilt of Steve Race's jingle to bring home the locally-produced, farm-assured bacon for Jack Hargreaves' Out of Towners, but the sheer barking majesty of TSW's tree of bras nabbed it 2nd place. Sadly, the BBC1 COW (computer-originated world) didn't induce the same "HOLY FUCK IT'S COMPUTERS!" frenzy in everyone that it generated in Mr Nesmith, but BBC1 has another bite at the cherry with the 1981-1985 mirror globe. And shame on you Kecske Bak for suggesting that the BBC COW is now known as Jana Bennett, although the utterly true story of her having to ask directions to TC4 after God knows how many years with the Corporation makes me sympathetic to your cause. And so to Group D. Pick the winners from these stand-offs:

BBC2 stripey vs BBC tv map
BBC tv map vs Channel 4 original
Channel 4 original vs Rediffusion London
Rediffusion London vs BBC tv map
BBC2 stripey vs Channel 4 original
Rediffusion London vs BBC2 stripey

As I have been unable to find a decent copy of the Rediffusion London ident on YouTube, most of them being from multi-multi-gen VHS or terrible mocks by 12-year-old windowlickers, I've taken the liberty of encoding and uploading a recreation of a full Rediffusion startup, made by Kecske Bak and Rory Clark of Farcical Films, who are the Morecambe and Wise, nay the Rolls and Royce, to say nothing of the Dandelion and Burdock of archive TV graphics research. Get your votes in by 6pm, Sunday 20 June.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Group B results and Group C matches

The engineers at London's busy Museum telephone exchange are giving the patch cords a last-minute check, and, any moment now, we should be going over to the Sylvia Peters Continuitydrome at Alexandra Palace for the results of the Group B fixtures in the Idents World Cup (guaranteed vuvuzela-free since last week). The scores on the doors, collated from votes here, on Twitter, on Facebook and on Cook'd and Bomb'd, are as follows:

Thames skyline 11 ABC triangle 2
ABC triangle 5 BBC Schools diamond 8
BBC Schools diamond 11 Ulster oscilloscope on a stick 2
Ulster oscilloscope on a stick 4 ABC triangle 9
BBC Schools diamond 4 Thames skyline 8
Ulster oscilloscope on a stick 2 Thames skyline 10

I make that 9 points for Thames, 6 points for the BBC Schools Diamond, 3 points for ABC and sod all for Ulster. As one commenter said, it may well be that Ulster wasn't fielding its best formation. Better luck in 2014, chaps. I must say that I'm surprised at the lack of love for the ABC chimes, but that's identball. So in Group B, it's a clear win for geography and geometry, and in the next stages it looks very much to me as if Thames will be playing Grampian, with the BBC Schools Diamond competing against Harlech.

This, however, is getting ahead of ourselves, and we must deal with the remaining group fixtures first. And so to Group C, which I believe to be a very strong combination of the iconic and the memorably strange. So, we're looking for scores in the following matches:

Southern star vs LWT river
LWT river vs BBC1 COW
BBC1 COW vs TSW tree of bras
TSW tree of bras vs LWT river
Southern star vs TSW tree of bras
BBC1 COW vs Southern star

While I have, in the interests of fair play, mostly kept ident clips to the bare minimum, I feel that the plucky Plymouth outsider's offering is best seen in the context of first few minutes of the station's gala opening show. Never before have leotards, blacksmithery and rapid-cut vision-mixing been combined to such devastating effect. And that's before you get to a studio full of TSW staffers in party hats being exhorted to enjoy themselves by Lennie 'TV's Mr Punchlines' Bennett. Voting on this round closes at 6pm on Thursday 17 June.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Group A results and Group B matches

Time to go over to the Redvers Kyle Stadium, Kirkstall Road, for the Group A results:

TVS glass revolve 3 Harlech eye test 12
Grampian saltire 9 TVS glass revolve 6
TVS glass revolve 6 BBC2 'Firecracker' 9
Harlech eye test 10 Grampian saltire 5
BBC2 'Firecracker' 8 Harlech eye test 7
Grampian saltire 8 BBC2 'Firecracker' 6

Three idents each won two games, bringing in 6 points, so we go to goal differences to break the tie and decide which two go ahead. Harlech is a clear winner, scoring 22 goals in winning games where its opponents managed 8, bringing a net figure of 14. BBC2 and Grampian each achieved 17 goals in the two games it won, but BBC2's opponents racked up 13 goals in those same games, compared to the 12 scored by Grampian's opponents, so Grampian joins Harlech in the knockout stage. So, Harlech will play the 2nd team to win Group B, while Grampian will take on that Group's winners.

Which brings us neatly on to the Group B matches:

Thames skyline vs ABC triangle
ABC triangle vs BBC Schools diamond
BBC Schools diamond vs Ulster oscilloscope on a stick
Ulster oscilloscope on a stick vs ABC triangle
BBC Schools diamond vs Thames skyline
Ulster oscilloscope on a stick vs Thames skyline

Voting will close at midnight BST on 15 June. You know the drill by now.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Idents World Cup - Group A gets underway

OK, more clips/stills to follow, but let's get this oil-burning pig on the road.

TVS glass revolve vs Harlech eye test
Grampian saltire vs TVS glass revolve
TVS glass revolve vs BBC2 'Firecracker'
Harlech eye test vs Grampian saltire
BBC2 'Firecracker' vs Harlech eye test
Grampian saltire vs BBC2 'Firecracker'

Is that everything covered? Scores for each game in comments, please. Each commenter can award 1 goal per game. Is midnight tonight BST late enough?

Idents World Cup - group draw results

Group A
TVS glass revolve
Harlech eye test
Grampian saltire
BBC2 1990s 2

Group B
Thames skyline
ABC triangle
BBC Schools diamond
Ulster oscilloscope on a stick

Group C
Southern star
LWT river
TSW tree of bras

Group D
BBC2 stripey
BBCtv Map
Channel 4 original
Rediffusion London

Group E
Channel 3 North East
Border chopsticks
Yorkshire Television colour production
ATV in colour

Group F
HTV aerial
Open University
Scottish Television spinning lion
BBC2 Colour 1967

Group G
Anglia knight
From the North – Granada
Central cake mark 1
Teledu Cymru dragon

Group H (vertically polarised)
BBC1 mirror globe
BBC TV bat wings
Westward galleon
Tyne Tees 1980s

Friday, June 11, 2010

Idents World Cup

OK, at the suggestion of that nice TJ Worthington, I'm going to run an Idents World Cup. There will be one TV ident per team, with results to be decided by a combination of my whim and votes from people who give a toss here and on Twitter. We need 32 for the first round. I reckon we have to include: LWT river, BBC1 mirror globe, BBC2 stripey, ATV in Colour, Central cake mark 1, Border chopsticks, Thames skyline, YTV Colour Production, Anglia silver knight, Tyne Tees animated with Roger Limb (allegedly) music, From the North Granada, ABC triangle, Rediffusion London with Widespread World. How many's that? 13? Right. We need 19 more quick-smart for the first round draw. Look lively.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Telly selly time: Kaleidoscope British Independent Television Drama Guide 1955-2010

Having mentioned the Kaleidoscope event below, I've just realised that I omitted to mention the new electronic version of their epic multi-volume British Independent Television Drama Guide 1955-2010. The Music and Variety Guide is one of the most frequently-consulted books in my possession, but I've dithered over buying the paper version due to lack of funds or shelf space. However, at £29.99, the PDF was a no-brainer. Hopefully the PDF of the BBC guide will follow shortly.

Anorak hierarchy

Just back from a splendid weekend in the West Midlands, staying with old friends and attending one of the always excellent Kaleidoscope archive TV events at the Talbot Hotel in Stourbridge. Normally, the audience at such beanos is predictable. It consists largely of men of a certain age, many with beards, most with a sartorial style that suggests that they dress in the dark in a tearing hurry. I'm not being judgmental there, as I have just described myself. Saturday's symposium had a wider appeal, though, being about music programmes. There were even some females attending of their own volition (as opposed to the loyal spouses who attend regularly with their chaps, out of duty, and sit through the delights on screen reading a good book - ladies, I salute you and hope that he's as supportive of your interests).

The most prominent of the ladies in attendance were all too familiar. I'd never met these particular examples before, but, as a Shadows fan, I recognise all too easily women whose main ambition in life is to throw themselves onto a Cliff. At Kaleidoscope events, there's a main screening area, and a secondary screening area in the bar. It was the latter that was playing host to a screening of a 1960 ATV Cliff Richard Show and A Matter of Diamonds, the recently recovered drama starring the erstwhile Harry Webb. Normally, there's a bit of give and take. If the people at the bar are talking while you're watching something, you move a bit closer or turn the TV up. Also, if you're watching the programme yourself, but passing comment on its content ("Oooh, look, it's Mario Fabrizi" and "I wonder if it was Wood Green or Hackney. Elstree wasn't open by this point.") you sit at the back and try to keep your voice at a tolerable level.

Neither of these were good enough for the bachelor boy's biggest fans. Turning around, hissing "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" and then "We're trying to watch, and you're being very rude", before applying a blood-curdling death ray. At one point, they even shhhhhed the rather lovely Pan's Person Dee Dee Wilde, who was being greeted warmly and not too loudly at all by the event's organisers. Now, I have to say that even sitting at the back I had no trouble making out what was being said. At some points, I felt I was hearing too much. Maybe I haven't been deafened by a lifetime's exposure to 'Congratulations'. It really did seem that they felt Cliff required reverent silence. A couple of friends were bemused by the whole display, so I took them out into the hallway and explained. "They're Cliff fans. They've heard about this on the Internet and I bet they've come hundreds of miles. When the Cliff material finishes at 2pm, they will bugger off."

Almost right. They filed into Richard Marson's interview with the aforementioned Dee Dee for the first 10 minutes, but when it became clear that she wasn't going to talk about Cliff any time soon, they buggered off. Anyway, despite everything, I was glad to see them. For once, somebody made the male anoraks look normal.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Seedy? Ahhhh.

I had to burn an audio CD for someone the other day, and it underlined the glacial rate at which I go through CD-R blanks these days. I've got about 30 left, and I haven't bought any for ages, compared to my regular purchases of 50-disc and 100-disc packs of DVD-Rs. It was only 10 short years ago that I got my first CD burner, which came as part of a new PC I bought. The concept and the practice of being able to make my own CDs knocked me sideways, and I used the facility extensively for off-air recordings and backup copies of precious vinyl. Then in 2004, I bought a DVD burner, and since then I've used the larger format discs for archiving, and settled for high-quality MP3s for most listening purposes.

I'm getting ready to abandon another format as it happens. The increasing decrepitude of my small family of portable mini disc machines and an irresistible special offer on Amazon led me to buy a Tascam DR07 solid-state recorder. Early reports suggest that it's a fantastic bit of kit. I'll always retain a massive affection for mini disc, but the ability to transfer my interview recordings to the computer without having to do it in real time will be a massive benefit.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I've allowed myself to become involved in something I don't fully understand, and which I'm not quite sure I want to understand. Back when I was a hack on Publishing News, I spent a lot of fun evenings at book launches in the Westminster bookshop Politico's, run by John Simmonds and Iain Dale. While I regard Iain as a friend and have always enjoyed his company, I'm not sure I really trust him. He's an operator. Normally I fight shy of such movers, shakers, shifters and shufflers, but Iain's love of small dogs and the Eurovision Song Contest have always redeemed him.

A while back, I referred to one of his blog posts about various attempts to smear him. In response, I received a communication from head Bloggerhead Tim Ireland suggesting that Daley, if not an active smear artist himself, was not inclined to help anyone else out if they were being smeared. Ireland was speaking from his own bitter experience, having had to contend with nasty, utterly unfounded allegations that he was himself a paedophile. Ireland suggested that when he asked for Dale's help in refuting the allegations, Dale had been non-committal, then silent. I suspected that Dale didn't want to get involved with something that wasn't in his area, while Ireland seemed to think that there was a more sinister explanation. I'm staying well out of that one, ta very much. Any road up, after a to-and-fro in the comments section of my original blog post, Private Eye journalist Adam Macqueen, a friend and a person I can honestly say that I would trust with my life, weighed in by suggesting that I had made eye contact with "the nutter on the bus".

Adam, it turned out, had dealt with Ireland in the past, and wished he hadn't bothered, a common enough situation when working for the Eye, and sifting the plausible from the deranged. A hack can only say "Really? That's very interesting, but..." so many times before the urge to shout "FUCK OFF YOU FUCKING FUCKWIT" down the blower takes over. Adam's too professional to let it get to that stage, which might be why he gets more work than I do. Anyway, Ireland seemed to think that the "nutter on the bus" comment was a statement of Eye editorial policy rather than an off-duty aside from one friend to another. He's since tried repeatedly to get a retraction from Ian Hislop, who, understandably, wants nothing to do with the situation, because it's nothing to do with him.

Now, I don't want to get involved in the political aspect of this spat or any assessments of Ireland's mental well-being, but I'm pretty satisfied that he's not a nonce. He indicates that some people have been posting his home address and encouraging others to harass him. That's really not on. Also, the original correspondence on this blog has been used by Ireland's detractors as ammunition, which I'm not entirely thrilled about. I suspect that whatever I think of Ireland, I'd be unlikely to want to ally myself with his enemies. The trouble is that the more Ireland blogs about this awful state of affairs, the more he sounds like the nutter on the bus, even if he isn't. So, as a concerned third party, I ask anyone who's perpetuating the smear stories about Ireland's sexual preferences to stop it immediately. Please.

There have also been suggestions that he's been stalking Nadine Dorries. There's a very fine line between dogged pursuit of something worthwhile and obsession/stalking. As an obsessive-compulsive myself, I know that only too well. From where I'm sitting, Ireland's interest in Dorries is a combination of horrified fascination, a desire to see the woman's manifest absurdity exposed as widely as possible and simple mischief. In summary, I approve, and the silly cow should be flattered that anyone gives a tinker's cuss about her.

Anyone waiting for my account of running for Parliament, it's half-written in my drafts folder, and will follow when I can set aside a moment or two. I'm sure you're all desperate to read that.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Direct television from Alexandra Palace

I have an annoying habit of discovering interesting links or revisiting favourite sites just as I'm getting ready to go to bed. The Alexandra Palace Television Society's YouTube channel is one of the worst culprits.

Monday, May 03, 2010


The other day, I linked, rather too gleefully, to a blog that had amused me. In my reverie, I'd failed to notice that the site had connections to deeply unsavoury organisations. I've withdrawn that site's Michelin star, and no mistake.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Schaefer no nonce sense

As a the splendid Jutl said on Cook'd and Bomb'd, when it came to heinousness, did ex-Nazi paedophile, friend of General Pinochet and cult leader Paul Schaefer, who has died at the age of 89, need any more to get a full house? Any overdue library books? Was he a litterbug too?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Party Political Broadcasts - the antidote

Just as it's said imagining authority figures in their birthday suits can help the ordinary man or woman deal with them, so the following might help the same ordinary men and women get party political broadcasts in the right perspective. It's from the great underrated LWT sketch show End of Part One, which should have been out on DVD years ago. Andrew Marshall and David Renwick, we salute you.

Hail hail the Daily Mail

The Daily Mail and General Trust has indicated that it will not be moving to a subscription model online. To support this, it presents some pretty compelling reasons for staying free, and shows that it grasps what the Internet is and what it does far better than News International or the entire record industry. It aims to compete on the Internet's terms, rather than its own, imposed by the best law money can buy, and it aims to succeed. If only the Mail showed the same enlightenment editorially as it does in business, I'd be able to wish it well for its future endeavours without any reservations.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fade up my leader

I wonder if Jake Knott was on the carpet this morning? For those who don't share my interest in the credits on TV programmes, he was the sound supervisor on last night's debate between the party leaders, and he didn't have Gordon Brown's mic faded up ready for the Labour leader's first response. When it happened, I thought "Pity the poor sod mixing this. There'll be words afterwards". The only saving grace for Mr Knott is that the director wasn't the late Stewart 'Keep the DG in shot for Christ's sake' Morris.

By the way, it was great to see all the old 'Granada TV' signs in the news coverage of the debate. When Quay Street closes, the Manchester skyline will lose a little more magic. It's already lost a bit with the removal of the lattice tower on the roof of the main office block. The debate was, unless I'm much mistaken, done in studio 6, more usually home to The Jeremy Kyle Show. It was also where they did Crown Court, Wheeltappers and Shunters and The Comedians. Please supply your own punchline.

As for who won, I couldn't care less. Brown was the most fluent. Clegg appeared to be the most sincere. Cameron ballsed up by maintaining our right to nuke China. Why couldn't I care less? We don't have a presidential system, so this debate was a mere sideshow. I'll tell you who lost, though. Alastair Stewart. Bleeding useless, much as I expected. I know Cliff Michelmore's 91 now, but he'd still have whipped Stewart's sorry arse.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Papers. PAPERS! Read all about the news.

A mention in the Daily Mail. I don't know whether to feel pleased at getting the NOTA/Protest Vote movement its first national newspaper coverage or to feel dirty.

Slightly more worrying is that I'm approaching 40 and still acting the arse on occasion. I feel I should make greater efforts to grow up. Not that I haven't made massive progress over the last decade. Once upon a time, random acts of drunken idiocy were my norm, whereas I'm now a sober, boring, respectable(ish), cardigan-wearing dad 99% of the time.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Brides in the Bath

Another book review from me, this time commissioned and published by the Independent on Sunday, the finest oligarch-owned Sunday newspaper in the UK.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Digital Economy act - the aftermath

So, the Digital Economy Bill is now the Digital Economy Act, and is part of the law of the land. What difference will it make? The main change is that more ordinary people will get wise to encryption and VPNs. Only the record industry and the technical dunderheads in favour of the bill - step forward Parliament's top Roy Cropper lookalike Stephen Timms (look at the picture, Hayley's on the front bench too) who doesn't understand IP addresses, but still feel happy to legislate on them - could have thought it would solve the problem of illegal downloading. Everything will just go further underground, and the futile attempts to pin blame on anyone will just end up costing a fortune. It's like trying to build a defence against a nuclear warhead from plywood. Have I changed my tune? Not really. Fighting the Bill and following the progress of the truncated travesty of a debate was necessary, worthwhile and, let's be frank, a big old shitload of fun. And it led thousands of technically-literate and music-loving youngsters to watch BBC Parliament for hours on end, which can only be a good thing for the future of democracy and political engagement. For every one who thought "What the fuck are those old fuckers playing at? Include me out", another will have thought "What the fuck are those old fuckers playing at? Let's get involved". Right, I'm off to download MP3s of Stephen Timms' Parliamentary speeches. Illegally. Go me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Waveney campaign blog gets underway

Righty-ho, I've started that blog about my NOTA Protest Vote Party campaign here in sunny Waveney.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Book review: 65 - My Life So Far by Jonathan King

Having failed to get a review published in any of the periodicals to which I contribute, here's my honest appraisal of 65 - My Life So Far, the autobiography of music mogul and self-styled vile pervert Jonathan King.


Show business autobiographies are usually more telling in what they omit rather than what they include. One major personality signed a friend's copy of his memoirs with “Try and believe at least some of it”. Very few who tell their life story in a book, ghosted or otherwise, present a balanced and fair picture of the subject, perhaps unsurprising in a business fuelled by ego. Bob Monkhouse's excellent Crying With Laughter is one of the very rare exceptions.

As, oddly, is 65: My Life So Far by Jonathan King, the pop world's equivalent of a disgraced bishop. King is a pariah. His records (and those of Gary Glitter) are noticeably absent from the airwaves, while those of convicted murderer Phil Spector are not. Meanwhile there's an unspoken ban on him appearing on television or radio.

So, he says, he has nothing to lose by telling the truth. However, truth is problematic, as any historian knows. An individual will remember an event one way, another individual will remember it another way. Neither version is contradictory, but there is conflict. So when King says we're getting the truth, what we're getting is King's truth. However, when read with this caveat in mind, there's a lot of value in 65 My Life So Far.

King is excellent when talking about other people and events that he witnessed as a pop personality, which account for 430-odd pages of the 583 on offer (It could be cut by about a third without losing much, and, at this length, the absence of an index is almost a criminal act in itself). Propelled into the charts while still a Cambridge undergraduate, he soon transferred to the business side of music and was on the inside track from the 1960s to the 1990s, ultimately running the Brit awards and the Eurovision Song Contest. It's tempting to assume at times that he's building up his part (he invented this, established that, saved the other from disaster, etc), but the cuttings support his claims. Moreover, he avoided drink and drugs, so his memory of it is unfogged.

He adds credence to the rumours about John Lennon's alleged bisexuality, but that's far less interesting than the stories of wheeling and dealing to get hits made and into the charts. It's also good to read more about Decca chairman Sir Edward Lewis, one of the most fascinating if underwritten figures of the music industry, who regarded King almost as an adopted son.

Perhaps the most telling story in this part of 65: My Life So Far is King's recollection of watching the Apollo 11 moonshot on TV. While others marvelled at the scientific achievement, King's main concern was, rather egotistically, with the copy of his song Everyone's Gone to the Moon that had, through various connections, been placed on the rocket. As Neil Armstrong said “A giant step for mankind”, King was to be found shouting “Enough of these platitudes for God's sake. Play my fucking record!” at the screen.

The last 150 pages deal with King's life since his arrest in 2000. The trial is covered in depth, with some details that contemporary press reports omitted to mention. One of his accusers claimed that he had been 15 when King made an advance on him, pinpointing it at the time of a particular record of King's. King denied ever meeting the lad, but also proved that the record in question had been made 4 years later, when the accuser was 19. Even if a reader isn't persuaded by King's protestations of innocence, as he hopes they might be, there's enough here to bring into question the ethics of those who brought King to book. The apparent pincer movement of police and media, with Max Clifford looming large; and the willingness to move minor details like dates around worked against him, he suggests. It may be that a trial free of these influences would have reached the same conclusions, but nobody will ever have the chance to know.

The relative values at work in the King case are interesting. King is an outcast, while Bill Wyman – who had a well-documented sexual relationship with an underage girl – is welcomed as a guest on The One Show. Is it because Wyman was a Rolling Stone, the epitome of supposed bad boy rock and roll hedonist cool, while King was a naff pop troubadour? Maybe his worst offences were merely those of making daft records and looking a bit too pleased with himself for a bit too long.


With the campaign fund getting to a point where my candidature will be a reality, there's something I feel I should confess, lest any of my opponents get wind of it and try to make political capital out of it. I have a criminal record. One evening in January this year, waiting on the platform at Liverpool Street station for the 9pm train back to the east coast after an all-day consultation with various friends and associates in various central London licensed premises, I was apprehended as drunk and disorderly.

Drunk I most certainly was. The first pint had been despatched by 11.45am, and I had left the last pub at 7.30pm to ensure I caught my last train home. For fear of being thought to boast about my capacity and to avoid any trouble from the anti-binge-drinking lobby, I won't reveal my conservative estimate of how much of my body mass was composed of the products of Messrs Greene King, Timothy Taylor and Fuller, Smith and Turner. However, "lapping against the back teeth" would not be far off the mark.

Disorderly? I was fully aware of how plastered I was, and so, on arrival at Liverpool Street around 8pm (my Oyster card usage shows me to have passed through Holborn tube at 7.51pm), I decided to head straight for the platform that I, as a railway bore, knew my train would leave from, and wait there, keeping well out of everybody's way. I sat on some ducting at the far end of the platform and rummaged in my bag for something to attempt to read.

At 8.05pm, I found myself surrounded by three British Transport Police officers in stab-proof vests, telling me to leave the station, as I was not fit to travel. In a sober frame of mind, I would have found this utterly illogical and baffling, but I would have had the wherewithal to challenge the assertion. Think about it. I'm not fit to travel, but I'm fit to wander around the streets of the city of London. Were they just trying to get rid of me so I'd be some other bugger's problem? In any case, leaving the station was my fervent wish, but only on the 9pm train, upon which I was planning to fall asleep and wake at my terminus station with a thumping headache and a vague worry that I'd made a tit of myself. Unfortunately, I was not in a sober frame of mind, so I told them to leave me alone. They didn't. So then, as I recall it, they tried to manhandle me out of position, a manoeuvre that involved twisting my right arm up my back. In the words of Gerard Hoffnung's bricklayer, it was at this point that I lost my presence of mind. Due to unfortunate occurrences last year, my right arm does not respond well to being forced anywhere. I turned the air blue, and found myself face first on the floor, handcuffed and being told I was being arrested. At this point, I burst out laughing. "What's so funny, sir?" asked the chief plod. "This," I replied, "It's hilarious. It's special". From then on, I became unbearable, taunting them from my prone position, asking if they'd joined the BTP because they couldn't get into the proper police. I was carried over the road to Bishopsgate police station. As we passed the front door, I asked if they were planning to take me up the tradesmen's entrance. Once inside, I asked if they could add numerous other heinous offences to the charge sheet just for fun.

From there, it was off with the tie, shoes, etc and into an overheated cell. All this was achieved by 9pm. Shamefully, it took them until after 1am and a shedload of me being tiresome through the grille before they rang my wife and assured her that I wasn't dead in a ditch somewhere. As I said on the last time I reminded them that they had to do this one thing, making me suffer was fair game, but making a blameless woman have a sleepless night was not. In the morning, I was released and told to report to Horseferry Road Magistrates Court the following week at 10am. I paid through the nose for a walk-up ticket to Lowestoft, my ticket for the previous night having been a pre-booked cheapo.

I spent the next week fretting about fine tariffs and the like, and, at the advice of a friend who has recently qualified as a lawyer (who, amusingly enough, had been drinking with me for much of the day in question), working up a statement of mitigation and completing my means form. I'm eternally indebted to Queen Margot & Let's Look Sideways for putting me up the night before I was due in front of the beak. The BTP and the CPS cocked up and nearly failed to have my case papers at the court in time. Had I not asked to see the charge sheet before going in to plead (I was going to plead guilty all along, but I wanted to know exactly what I was being asked to own up to) there's every chance the papers wouldn't have arrived and I'd have walked. The relevant documents were faxed over hurriedly ("Fax it up?" "Well, it doesn't help, your worship") and I was called in after a few hours of waiting around. The magistrate thought I should have been offered a caution, and said that he'd refer it up if I was willing to wait. As I had research work to do that afternoon and I didn't have any desire to dally in the court any longer than I had to, I said that I'd rather just get on with it. He looked at my means form. It's been a lean year, and I'd brought the bank statements to prove it. Sentence was passed. £100 fine plus £15 'victim surcharge' (why don't they just call it a £115 fine?) plus £50 costs. The night in the cells wiped out the £115, leaving me to pay just the £50. I paid up and went to the pub next door for a pint of Shepherd Neame Masterbrew and some lunch. Never has a session bitter tasted sweeter. When I rang my mum to tell her the result, she asked "Where are you now?". When I replied "In the pub next door", it was as though I'd confessed to every unsolved murder in the book. "Go straight home now," she ordered in a quivering voice. As I was booked on another 9pm cheap ticket, and I had interviews to do between now and then, I said that I couldn't, and that I was merely having something to eat and a very weak beer to wash it down. I didn't think this was the moment to remind her that until an hour before I had been the only member of our family who hadn't so much as a parking ticket to their name.

This is the bit that interests me most. The magistrate thought that it was potentially an offence warranting nothing more than a caution. Failing that, an £80 on-the-spot penalty might have been appropriate. So why did the BTP take it to court? Could it be that I was well-dressed and that, with fines being pegged to earnings, they thought I'd be good for more than £80? They don't benefit directly, but a larger fine would surely count for something in the mass of meaningless performance statistics that measure the effectiveness of our law enforcers? How were they to know that I'm a cash-strapped freelance who nonetheless has at least one nice suit?

You've had my side. Here, for reference, is the official version. I've obscured the name of the arresting officer to save him the embarrassment of being exposed as someone who can't spell the word 'twat', so let's call him PC Charles Penrose.

"JUST GET THE FUCK" should obviously read "JUST GET TO FUCK". Other minor details omitted by PC Penrose include what I shouted as they carried me up the stairs from the station onto Bishopsgate, which was "PUT ME DOWN, I CAN WALK, YOU FUCKERS". There's also the small matter of me being identified as "a male...who has been on the platform for some considerable time drinking alcohol". Firstly, I'd been on the platform no more than 5 minutes when PC Penrose and chums rolled up (My Oyster card proves this beyond doubt). Secondly, I had not been drinking alcohol at any point since arriving at the station. Thirdly, nobody from National Express approached me at any point. And if we're really quibbling, the suit was black pinstripe not grey, and I am really, truly not of slim build. PC Penrose - You carried me. You know how heavy I am.

So, people of Waveney, your protest candidate on 6 May is a drunken criminal. Judge me on my record.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Tanned, fit, rested & ready: Barfe for Waveney 2010

Well, it's looking like a goer. In only a few short hours, friends on Facebook, Twitter and Cook'd and Bomb'd have pledged donations to my election deposit fund to the tune of £344.22. With another donor pledging the final £100 when we reach £400, my candidature as the Protest Vote Party's man in Waveney for the 2010 General Election seems assured. Policy fans will notice a change of party name. This is because a law was passed in 2005, banning the use of the phrase "None of the Above" anywhere on a ballot paper. So, we (party leader Russ Swan and I, plus any other candidates who join the happy coalition before 4pm on Tuesday 20 April) are now the PVP. We will be offering a sane, rational alternative for anyone disillusioned with the big two and the slightly smaller third one. We like foreigners, we like democracy, we like representatives who represent, we don't like corruption and we don't like the clueless legislating on the complex. I will, in due course, be setting up a separate campaign blog.