Friday, 26 February 2010

Don't be a moron, Gordon - call a General Election

If Gordon Brown has an ounce of backbone he will call a snap General Election on March 25th rather than wait for May 6th. The omens will never be better than they are now for New Labour. The bullying furore has proven short lived. The public seems undeterred by even the Chancellor's admission that No. 10 unleashed the forces of Hell against him for telling the truth about the economy.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


This piece was going to be a light-hearted take on forgetfulness. As I’ve got older every memory lapse by contemporaries or myself prompts a gallows humour remark about approaching senility.
Whenever I phone my mislaid mobile and discover it in a coat pocket I remind myself that I’ve always had a poor memory – I was drummed out of a local amateur dramatic society as a teenager for failing to learn my part.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Tate's Henry Moore exhibition tries too hard

There is a barely disguised snobbism in Tate Britain’s Henry Moore exhibition, which opened in London this week. Until the sculptor’s death in 1986, no public space at home or abroad seemed complete without a monumental Moore reclining figure or mother and child. Whereas Picasso’s modern art would be the target of misplaced ridicule, the public got Henry Moore and liked what they saw. Holes in torsos and all.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Hugh Laurie - the unlikely king of world TV drama

Hugh Laurie’s impact on US television is unmatched by any other talented Brit who decided to cross the Atlantic in the pursuit of fame on the American small screen. It is all the more remarkable that the star of the House medical drama series, who is now 50, should have risked leaving behind a successful career in London in 2004 to play the grumpy genius Dr Gregory House.

Monday, 22 February 2010

It's only rock 'n' roll but I liked it

I’m glad I was never a big fan of Iggy Pop. I would be pitched into depression every time I saw The Stooges former wild man of punk tout car insurance in the current Swiftcover TV ad campaign. Somehow it doesn’t seem to matter that Johnny Rotten plugs Country Life butter; there was always something vaudeville about him. But it’s time to put your shirt back on, Iggy.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

BB (Bully Boy) Brown v Andrew Rawnsley

Who are you going to believe - both cannot be telling the truth? Either journalist Andrew Rawnsley is right that our Prime Minister is a bully or else the No.10 spin machine led by Lord Mandelson who claim Gordon Brown is merely demanding - most of all with himself?
It has to be Rawnsley's Observer revelations every time - especially now that we learn Downing Street staff have contacted a bullying helpline

Friday, 19 February 2010

Old duffer Tory Winterton has a point

Soon-to-retire Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Winterton did no favours to MPs who survive the coming General Election. He’s been complaining that his fellow-politicians faced losing the right to first-class rail travel on expenses – that is, us taxpayers.
Winterton bad-mouthed second-class rail users and said pompously that many lesser mortals than MPs expected free first-class travel as a right.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Milliband must beware hypocrisy over Dubai death

Much of Israel’s own media believes the country’s secret service Mossad carried out the murder of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month. Editorials justify the killing by saying it was one life lost to save many. The main concerns appear to be why the operatives allowed themselves to be so comprehensively recorded on CCTV and forged passports that stole the identity of people living in Israel. But for the efficiency of the Dubai authorities the death would have continued to have been treated as from natural causes.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Zen and the perfect pub

What I need is a good local pub – nothing fancy, a proper boozer if you will. The beer has to be good, the food adequate, the d├ęcor tolerable, and a complete absence of music – both PA and jukeboxes, and no gaming machines. It doesn’t matter much to me whether there are many other customers or not.
I’m not looking for lock-ins or any other special privileges – just a friendly landlord or lady who will have my beer flowing into a long glass – never a mug or tankard (unclean, unclean) – the second I walk through the door.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Come together to celebrate the Beatles at Abbey Road

It is a clear sign of the enduring power of the Beatles that in daylight hours it is rare to find London’s Abbey Road Studios not besieged by camera-wielding pilgrims. The building itself – a short walk from St. John’s Wood tube station - is underwhelming. Its owners EMI have put the studio up for sale to ease the parent company’s massive debt burden. No new owner will want to sever the connection with the Beatles.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Gordon - why did you scarifice your dignity? Part II

Arise Sir Piers Morgan – or perhaps even one day Lord Morgan of Grub Street for services in trying to fan the dying embers of Gordon Brown’s last few months as Prime Minister.
Morgan did an efficient job on television on Sunday night in his attempt to present the human side of his friend, the Prime Minister.
It was pure showbiz and was never intended, it must be said, to be an examination of Brown’s period in Government. So no questions about gold sales, our failing economy, or his role in the Iraq invasion. Instead we learnt from a man, who a few months ago was reluctant to reveal his favourite biscuit, the most intimate details of his private life.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Gordon - why did you sacrifice your dignity?

Something has to be deeply wrong in political life in Britain today that Gordon Brown felt compelled to unburden his soul in front of millions on television this coming Sunday. Questioned by Piers Morgan – the ex-editor of the Daily Mirror and TV talent show judge – the Prime Minister wept over the memory of the death of his 10-day-old baby Jennifer at the recording of the programme last week.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

In praise of curry

I was about 15 when I ate my first curry. My mother ordered – it was her first time too in an Indian restaurant. So she insisted on “playing safe” with a boiled egg curry complete with a watery, tangy sauce, which contained raisins and stained everything it touched a dirty yellow. From such an inauspicious introduction began a life-long love affair.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Come to Camden Market and meet the world

In the space of a few decades the Camden Market area has grown from a modest arts and crafts arena surrounded by a gaggle of shops selling everything from junk to genuine antiques into what is reckoned to be one of the top tourist attractions in London.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Life's lessons in a sentence

There are too many old fools in the world to believe that age necessarily brings wisdom. But as I reach 65 I wonder if I have done enough to pass on to my children concise observations on life that might help them, at least, avoid some of the lessons their dad has learned the hard way.
Looking back I can remember my own father only giving me one actual piece of advice. It was on marriage – and though unlikely to have been original, it was certainly accurate.

Monday, 8 February 2010

London's free museums - a nation's pride

One of the joys of London is that a majority of its museums have free entry unlike many on mainland Europe. Donations are encouraged but there is no arm-twisting. This applies not only to the heavy hitters in the South Kensington area but also to many specialist museums spread across the capital.
This will come as a relief to any visitors who fork out for one of the city’s popular but pricey paid attractions such as the Madame Tussauds waxworks, The London Dungeon, and the giant London Eye wheel by the River Thames.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Greed - politicians pay the price

Britain’s lawmakers have been caught with their hands in the taxpayers’ till. More than half of Members of Parliament will have to re-pay excessive expenses to the tune of £1 million ($1.7 million), it was announced yesterday. Today there came news that four politicians were to be charged with committing fraud.
Leaving aside the instances where the fiddles involved patent deceit – forged invoices and the like – a larger moral debate arises.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Food for thought - today's lovely grub

In any gathering of contemporaries I’m often in a minority of one when it comes to arguing whether life was better way back when. Give me now, I cry. There was never a Golden Age; it only seemed so because you were young. Everything was new and to be relished – often to excess. Time has jaded your appetite for life.
Take food itself. If you’re like me – over 65 and a life-long townie – you can’t tell me that the quality and variety of food isn't greatly improved.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Too early for Mrs Cameron to be measuring the curtains at No.10

It will be an extraordinary reversal of fortune if the Tories fail to achieve the largest number of Parliamentary seats at the General Election, which is widely expected to be held on May 6th. But Conservative leader David Cameron and his team will only have themselves to blame if there is a hung Parliament, which allows Labour to cling to power with the aid of the LibDems.
The present Government's authority has expired - the product of a lethal cocktail of the moribund UK economy, the MPs expenses scandal, and the conning of the public that has already been revealed by the Iraq inquiry.
But Cameron cannot be certain he is headed to take up residence at Number 10 Downing Street.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Penelope Cruz's charms

Penelope Cruz is a beautiful woman and a fine, award winning actress. ‘Broken Embraces’ directed by Pedro Almodovar which I watched on DVD last night is an engaging movie.
My dilemma is that my lasting memory of the film is certain to be that Penelope’s breasts are as lovely now as they were in her movie debut ‘Jamon, Jamon nearly 20 years ago.
How unworthy is this observation? Does it qualify me as a dirty old man? Probably so, at least on this side of the Channel. It must be an Anglo-Saxon trait born of decades of feminism and political correctness to worry about such a harmless thought-crime – if that it were?
Four hundred years ago metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell would have been happy offering Penelope the same deal as his coy mistress in spending 200 years to adore each breast if he “had but World enough and Time.”
And Old Testament Solomon in Song of Songs would have crooned, “Your two breasts are like fawns; twins of a gazelle, that feed among the lilies.”
On second thoughts the day I become immune to such delights, I’ll consider taking a one-way ticket to Zurich and book in at Dignitas.

Monday, 1 February 2010

John Terry - sinner, saint, or both?

I’ve never been big on moral outrage. Experience has taught me that often those making the loudest call for heads to roll have themselves the most to hide. The scandal over MPs expenses comes immediately to mind.
But on the biggest talking point in Britain today – whether Chelsea soccer star John Terry should relinquish captaincy of the English national squad – I do find myself on the side baying for blood.
The allegations surrounding Terry are particular unsavoury relating as they do to adultery, abortion, and abuse of friendship. In the run up to the World Cup in South Africa later this year, it is difficult to see how Terry can be the focus of the publicity ballyhoo which comes with being captain.