Sunday, February 6

Here They Come - the Iffy Filth

I've always maintained that under normal circs, in social circles, I've never met a copper I didn't like; but this proposed crackdown on the Crack is so wrong-headed: it's either going to go the way of farce (a police speciality, given their record) or righteous indignation at the intrusion on privacy, and most likely both.

And why stop at Coke dealers and users? I feel a trawl through the closets and living rooms of everyone in the land should be done, to remove (and arrest the owners of) goods that have in all likelihood emanated form a Third World sweatshop. Hey: just about every fucking appliance labelled Made in China (or Taiwan, or India, or you name it) may as well be stamped Made Under Inhumane Conditions.

Get to it, plod!

PS: I wonder where those trucheons are manufactured? I do hope they're ethically clean.

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posted by DD @ 16:58  41 comments

Amis on Colombia

Enjoy.

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posted by DD @ 16:55  4 comments

Saturday, February 5

Pigs Snouting the Trough

The UN is corrupt? Nah!

Say it ain't so, Joe.

Oh you betcha.

It's a glib, trite point - but then I'm in a glib, trite mood about a glib, trite organisation - but one easy way to get some action on sorting out the shithole that is the African continent would be to move the UN there.

Of course, certain sectors of Manhattan's economy would need compensating eg the grand-a-night hookers, but I think New Yorkers would be glad to see them piss off from their patch. (One more glib, trite, indeed tasteless point: had 9/11 seen the incineration of the UN building, as opposed to the Twin Towers, I think our reactions would have been a little different. C'est la vie.)

The UN. Our own cosmic joke. In the last 50 years, billions and billions of dollars have disappeared down its cakehole, and what have we got to show for it? Fuck all.

Its only possible justification is to view the machinations of the world through the eys of Godfather: "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." Yeah. Look at Africa and think Fredo . . .

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posted by DD @ 09:58  9 comments

Friday, February 4

RIP Malcolm Hardee

The man has always owed me a pint, and Up the Creek was and probably still is a great club for comedy (though pretty iffy afterwards - same records played for the last ten years, just about); but he was a great laugh too. It's a cliché but Malcolm Hardee was a real character.

This is in today's Guardian:

Comedian Malcolm Hardee, who has died aged 55, was a familiar figure on Britain's alternative comedy circuit, but it was as much his offstage antics that made him the icon of that anarchic movement. Most famously, in 1986, he stole Freddie Mercury's 40th birthday cake and donated it to a home for older people, shortly before the police arrived to search his house for crumbs.

Hardee was born in Lewisham, the eldest son of Frank and Joan Hardee, and spent his first two years in an orphanage while his mother was in hospital with tuberculosis. His father sailed tugs on the Thames. He was educated at three south-east London schools - St Stephen's Church of England primary, Colfe's grammar and Sedgehill comprehensive. Expelled from all three, he drifted into petty crime.

"When it suited me, I would claim I'd fallen in with a bad lot, but the truth was that I was the bad lot," he observed in the autobiography he wrote with John Fleming in 1996. During his teens and twenties, he did time in various prisons, borstals and detention centres for car theft and burglary. "Prison is like mime or juggling," he reflected. "A tragic waste of time."

In 1978, after completing a prison sentence for cheque fraud, Hardee teamed up with the comedian Martin Soan in an adult Punch & Judy show, which they toured around the west country. Eventually they switched to sketches, including a nude balloon dance and a Shakespearean skit that Hardee had written in Ford open prison. By the time the Comedy Store opened in Soho in 1979, ushering in a new wave of alternative comedy, Hardee's troupe, The Greatest Show On Legs, were already old hands.

They appeared on TV shows such as The Tube, and even played Just For Laughs, Montreal's international comedy festival. However, it was at the Edinburgh festival fringe that Hardee performed his most celebrated stunts. In 1983, he gatecrashed another comedian's one-man show, naked, on a tractor. In 1989, with a little help from fellow comic Arthur Smith, he wrote a rave review of his own show, and submitted it to the Scotsman, under the byline of one of the Scotsman's own reviewers. The paper printed Hardee's self-penned rave, and his show did brisk business. Hardee was also a frequent performer at the Glastonbury festival, where he once did a turn with his testicles daubed in luminous paint.

Between festivals, Hardee played cameo roles in TV comedies such as Blackadder and The Comic Strip, and ran his own comedy club, the Tunnel, which he had opened at the southern end of the Blackwall Tunnel in 1984; it acquired a fearsome reputation as a graveyard for aspiring standups. Hardee compered it in typically idiosyncratic style, performing a genital impression of Charles de Gaulle.

Yet Hardee also had a sharp eye for comic talent. He managed Jerry Sadowitz, helped to nurture the careers of rising stars like Harry Enfield, and encouraged Jo Brand (a former girlfriend) to go on stage. He also worked as a tour manager for his friend and neighbour, Jools Holland. In 1987, he stood for parliament in the Greenwich byelection, as a candidate for the Rainbow Alliance Beer, Fags and Skittles party, polling 174 votes.

When the Tunnel closed, Hardee decamped in 1991 to Up The Creek - a slightly better behaved venue in nearby Greenwich, which Hardee described as "the Tunnel with A-levels". Hardee left Up The Creek several years ago, but the club is still going strong, and now boasts a splendid mural, depicting Hardee surrounded by a dozen of the famous comedians he worked with, in an impudent recreation of the Last Supper. In 2003, again with John Fleming, Hardee edited Sit-Down Comedy, an acclaimed collection of prose by comics such as John Hegley and Stewart Lee.

For the last few years of his life, Hardee ran a floating pub, the Wibbly Wobbly, on a barge moored in Rotherhithe, and lived on a houseboat, the Sea Sovereign, on the Thames. He was reported missing on Monday, and police divers found his body in the river on Wednesday.

He leaves a son, Frank, and a daughter, Poppy, from his relationship with Philippa (Pip) Hazelton, and his wife Jane. On the day his death was announced, Hardee's friends and family converged on the Wibbly Wobbly to pour a measure of his favourite tipple, rum and Coke, into the river where he felt so at home. For alternative comedy's patron sinner, who has been called a millennial Falstaff and a south London Rabelais, it was a suitably irreverent farewell.

- William Cook

Jon Ronson writes: On my first night in London, aged 17, I joined the audience of the Tunnel club, where I was beguiled - and urinated on - by Malcolm Hardee. Later, I approached him on the street. We chatted. Then he suddenly mumbled, "Uh oh."

Within moments a furious woman was frenziedly whacking him over the head with an umbrella. I walked away, turned back, and watched Malcolm effortlessly recharm her.

A few months later I was fast asleep on the floor of a flat in Edinburgh when I awoke to find a completely naked Malcolm Hardee standing over me.

"Urrrup!" he said cheerfully. I fell asleep again.

The next morning he drove me into town. The police pulled us over.

"Uh oh," he said.

"What?" I said.

"It's not my car. It's got no MOT, no insurance, and I'm not allowed to drive it," he said. "Don't worry."

He jumped out, adjusted his Eric Morecambe glasses, and greeted the police with his usual "Urrrup!"

I couldn't hear what he said, but before long they were all roaring with laughter and slapping each other on the back. Malcolm got back in and drove off.

A couple of years ago Malcolm phoned me out of the blue. "Urrrup!"

He invited me on a day trip up the Thames. By now he had, against all odds, married a completely lovely and sane woman. His boat was unbelievably rickety, but Malcolm seemed entirely at peace, sailing away, a faraway look in his eyes, pointing out all the things he loved - disused riverside factories and tyre yards.

"Just look at that," he kept saying. "Just look at that."

I think Malcolm would have felt cheated if he had died anywhere other than in the Thames.

- Malcolm Hardee, comedian and entrepreneur, born January 5 1950; died January 31 2005.

posted by DD @ 13:49  6 comments

Thursday, February 3

Never Trust a Pair of Mutton Chops

The lesson of the Beagle 2 debacle?

Never ever trust a man with mutton chops.

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posted by DD @ 20:29  7 comments

A Mirror of Crack (Part Two)

Being the Continuing Story of Bungalow Pete Doherty . . .

There's more, and there'll be yet more to come . . . and with this newly-announced "crackdown" on social, dinner party Coke-taking (madness; unworkable; an unnecessary political own goal) there is one OBVIOUS poster boy just waiting to be strung up, pour encourager les autres.

What goes around comes around. I'm not going to reiterate old Rees-Mogg's Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel? line, as such presumptions of deluded innocence are long gone, long gone from our world; but I will use Keith Richards' immortal line to the judge back in 1967:

"We have no time for your petty morals."

I say this. Fuck the law of the land: the police have no moral right to interfere with what I ingest in the privacy of my own or anybody else's home. And this government should know that should they back this gross mistake, they're gonna get a whole lot of grief, and lose a whole lot of votes - for there's little that people hate more than being nannied about what they can and cannot do when their actions have no direct effect on anybody else.

How odd it is to see the police approaching society using Chaos Theory.

"Citizen of the world" is an attractive outlook to have, but the reality is that it's impossible to live by taking account of the possible or even the likely consequences of your actions on the other side of the world. Being loud or disruptive when your 85 year-old neighbour is dying of cancer and needs quiet - that's a direct effect people have to allow for, and curtail - somewhat - their desired behaviour; the 9 year-old being kidnapped in a drug war in Colombia is not directly related to my doing lines as fast as Princess Margaret used to along my dining-room table. That's a fact - jacked.

It's sad, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

For the do-gooders, the mean-wellers out there, the means of stopping - to a large extent - the Cocaine turf wars (the bodybags, and the misery) in Central America is to LEGALISE DRUGS - ALL OF THEM.

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posted by DD @ 13:58  6 comments

Wednesday, February 2

A Mirror Full of Crack (Part One)

Part of me is now starting to find the ongoing saga we can call the Death of Pete Doherty quite funny, especially when we get blubber like the stuff that's been filling the Mirror and other red tops of late.

They won't be happy until he's gone.*

Personally, I find the lazy comparisons with Kurt Cobain pretty odious - for the Libertines have written far better songs than Nirvana churned out, and Pete Doherty, unlike Cobain, seems free of that American R&R speciality, anal-retentiveness. Neither is he pea-brained; if we must pick a forerunner it's Keith Richards: like him, in his darkest days with the Horse, it's still unlikely that he'll be checking out anytime soon.

Sure, he loves drugs; but unlike Cobain, you don't get the feeling that he hates the world. There's a difference - an important psychological difference - between a cavalier attitude to mortality and self-hate. Cobain obviously wanted out (and took the coward's option, despite the hypotheses of Nick Broomfield's silly doc on his death).

En passant, great as Smells Like Teen Spirit is as a recording (I think Nirvana are well overrated, but I'm not black and white small-minded about them, or any other band), it does have one of the stupidest choruses of any great song, doesn't it? I can half-convince myself that it's deliberately stupid, to reflect the bulbous smegma lava-lamping inside the brain of the average American teenager, which would then mean that it's not stupid at all - but I'm only half-convinced. I think my problem is that I think Kurt Cobain was a pretty stupid guy, who stupidly took his own life.

In my head, and often when playing it during my private whisky nights, I pair it with Some Might Say by Oasis, as that has the Nirvana song's faults in reverse: a fantastic chorus, but lame verses, especially the second one.

Back to the Death of Doherty. Given the alleged list of previous paramours (Bobby Gillespie?!?) I expected Doherty to do better, find someone a bit more interesting and exotic than Kate Moss. Then again, these are thin times for British culture, thin, thin times. I mean, we're about to anoint Showaddywaddy* as our Best Band.

* Franz Ferdinand, people.

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posted by DD @ 13:28  4 comments

Chokers

"Choke, choke, choke go the Arsenal
Choke, choke, choke go the Arsenal
When the game gets tough
All their Froggies get the huff
Choke, choke, choke go the Arsenal"

- attrib. Anon. A refrain from the Penguin Book of Modern Folk-Songs of England (Compiled by Townshend & Orr)

I should have known that those perennial chokers, the cojones-libre merchants of Highbury & Islington would let me down, though there were some handbags lassooed around at times.

Not that anything has really changed at the top. The moral D, the absolute is ANYBODY BUT THE SCUM - so let Chelsea Chels have their season in the sun.

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posted by DD @ 11:26  3 comments

Tuesday, February 1

The Sean Penn Blues

There's a lot of it about, apparently* - but not round here. Such symptoms as were (and I confess to some back when I wore a schoool blazer) vanished along with my cluster of zits.

So, all is bliss in Strictsville . . .

Hah. Today I had to clean some of my mother's shit up off the carpet. Cue Seven Ages of Man. Of course, were I Sean Penn, I could wallow in my nostalgie de la boue.

In compensation (well, such an event - I fervently hope - is not about to become an everyday occurrence - not on my watch, anyway) I am having some wine - my first for a month, for a whole fucking month. Just the one bottle. And I trust the Arse will entertain me this evening by kicking seven shades of the proverbial out of the Mancunian scum in the big fight.

Otherwise . . . all I'm seeing is cops and ambulances, cops and ambulances. In the middle of the night I lie awake, longing for the dirty old river. But I haven't lost all mirth.

Naturally, Sideways has yet to reach Strictsville. It's gonna be squirmful fun watching myself on screen.

* Here is yet another casualty - Anthony Howard: the old, fat, balding, gap-toothed, obsequious cunt.

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posted by DD @ 18:35  3 comments

Sunday, January 30

Here Comes Nathan Barley

So, in heeding my own mantra, let's get back to the great, the good and the damn fine - starting with the return to our screens of Chris Morris, in a new series called Nathan Barley.

For me, his best work probably always will be Blue Jam - the radio series, containing the apogee of his work, the fantastic monolougues - which were too long for TV, although one of them - which I self-title Rothko Woofed - was the basis for the BAFTA-winning short film My Wrongs . . .

I think it's fair to say (if unfair on Morris) that he's the one holding the candle left by Peter Cook, in that he's the only guy out there producing stuff outside the expected turf patrolled by everybody else. Eddie Izzard is an out-of-left-field performer, but one doing conservative material. OH YES HE IS!

As for Nathan Barley, he's all over "Bohemia": Soho, Fitzrovia, Brick Lane . . .

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posted by DD @ 13:35  18 comments

Shame on the Left

Just a little more bile to add on to yesterday's diatribe: here's Michael Ignatieff on the shallow fools on the Left who seem too timid to condemn the al-Zarqawi's of this world . . . you can, it seems, say and do what you like ie tell Democracy to Fuck Off - and terrorise those that attempt to exercise their rights in its name so long as you're anti-American.

I've had it with the lot of them, and I think I'll just ignore them from now on, to save me time. It's an ignoble act, almost fascistic to do so, but I'm sick of the shits.

It doesn't mena I'll never read or look at or listen to anything such fools do in their day jobs, as it were, but each time they try to open their mouths on anything above their station* eg Chris Martin on Channel 4 last week, I'll just start laughing - and mute them.

And I have my own name for such silence: I am calling it the Pinter Pause, after the antics of the Red Baron himself.

* Typically any area where soggy-hearted thinking is a waste of adult time. That covers the A-Z of political action for a start. How I wish - in vain, I know, in vain - they'd all take to their soggy hearts the admonishing advice given by Peter Cook to one of his wives: "You know nothing; keep it to yourself."

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posted by DD @ 10:50  7 comments

Saturday, January 29

So That's Why Athlete Are a Piss-Poor Band

I thought it was simply another case of bank tellers daring to cross the Talent Moat* but no, it's because they're a bunch of fucking Christians.

And the 'bunch' factor is important. For some reason, I find it easier to deal with - reluctantly all the same - an individual's religious calling eg Sir Nick of Cave, Bob Bobness and L Cohen, but the sweep of a band eg U2 has me reeling with righteousness. A band seems to imply a congregation - 'we lead, you follow' and all that yarbles - as opposed to the lone voice in the wilderness of the solo singer-songwriter.

Fucking Christians. They walk among us, people; even in glorious, secular London, they walk among us. Don't let them get away with any of their sanctimonious waffle.

* I suppose a sorry few may need to be told that the "Talent Moat" hails from an episode of Larry Sanders, the one where various members of the backstage staff are encouraged by Larry to appear on the show, much to Artie (wonderfully played by Rip Torn) the producer's consternation. Of course, tantrums abound. Come the end Artie says, "Lesson learned, Larry? Don't fuck with the talent moat."

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posted by DD @ 10:19  6 comments

Who Remembers the Garden Gnome?

Apolly polly loggies for disturbing yer metaphorical morning wank, but I've just realised that this old ginger turd is still trousering sums for his old worlde opinions.

Yes, we're talking Robin Cook aka the Garden Gnome - and Iraq. Read if you must his yarbles on "post-election sttrategy" ie We Must Get Out, which he's pretty much argued for from Day Two of the military practice session his ikkle ilk called a "war".

The interviews - and pictures - these past few hours of Iraqis enthusiastically voting for the first time should be enough to shut all such fuckwits up - for good. THEY WERE WRONG!

And, sometime in the next decade, it'll be clear to all just how fundamentally wrong thay all were, and why Bush and Blair should have won - hands down - the Nobel Peace Prize for the changes they've wrought in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I could make a pissy point about counting the number of dead Cook allowed on his watch as Foreign Secretary . . . so there, I've alluded to it. You google around and see for yourselves. Then calculate the number of free Iraqi minds - free now, and those not yet born to be free in the future, thanks to the small coalition of the Strong. (I still feel it's shameful that the Spanish lost their cojones, but let's bear in mind that compared to them the US has a mature democracy.)

On a tangent, but still answering some petty anti-Americanism (vide the 'debate' on Third World Debt this past week on Channel 4), I noticed the other day that the US now has a $3 trillion trade debt running; alarming to some, no doubt, but there is a way of looking upon this as $3 trillion of 'aid' that the richest country in the world is 'giving' in its bartering with everybody else, with China leading the rest in the ledger of recipients.

That's a real figure: fluff such as the $10,000 Sharon Stone* slitted out yesterday at Davos is really pissing in the ocean. Had she added another digit to her cheque, and lifted them out of binary code, it may have been a worthy gesture. That figure to her is, by my guessing, equivalent to my throwing a cent at the cause: as a percentage of income, I'd be giving as little as her.

"Now, now, that's okay, thank you; no kudos. No, no. It was nothing. Really. It was really nothing."

* Her motivation? Hmm. Try Fading Career. Or that ubiquitous Hollywood ailment (more pervasive than Hepatitis and Aids in them there hills), Soggy-hearted Idiocy.

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posted by DD @ 10:19  3 comments