It’s been a strange week. Just when I thought I’d got a handle on it all, this happens. Now that’s random, and, yes, it made me do a LOL.
An early start in the morning: I’m booked on the 07.55 Waveney Flyer from Lowestoft to Liverpool Street, in order to attend the Oldie of the Year beano for the (I think) 12th year in a row. It is, quite simply, the best show in town. Sir Terence Wogan will officiate, as ever. He’ll do the same jokes, as ever. We’ll love every last punchline, as ever. The great and the good have their gongs. The Oldie tends to recognise only the good. Long may it continue.
Having such an early start, I should have retired about 10pm with cucumbers over the eyes (not slices, whole cucumbers – I’m a heavy sleeper). Instead, I type at 02.13, having watched a shedload of Tonight Shows with Conan O’Brien and Johnny Carson. Any amount of lost sleep is justified by this 1969 Carson gag:
“On the way here, I stopped to watch a Hollywood funeral. That sounds callous, but in New York, you don’t often get to see a topless kazoo player riding a yak.”
I’m just about keeping my mind on my work at the moment, but it’s not at all easy. The BBC has, rather unhelpfully, put online a documentary that I’ve wanted to see for years. I reckon that after another hour of transcribing, I’ll have earned the right to watch it. It’s part of a tranche of programmes from the rather wonderful history series Chronicle. By Cribbins, I love the Internet.
Even in the pre-Internet days, humorous responses to events showed a degree of uniformity. The “Who let the woman drive?” gag about the Challenger disaster was universal and instantaneous. How did these lines make it around the world? Answer: It was a coincidence. Different people thought the same way about the same events, independently of each other, and shared the result with their friends.
An example of this occurred today on Facebook. Two friends, one a professional comedy writer, one an old schoolfriend with no professional connection to the gag trade, each made the observation that, now that Kraft is taking over Cadbury’s, they didn’t fancy the idea of Cream Cheese Eggs. It’s a great line. And it occurred to two un-connected (unless you count me as a common denominator, which would only work if they knew of each other’s existence) people at roughly the same time. Which is why, unless the plagiarism is verbatim or the concept is so out there as to be instantly identifiable, it’s problematic when comedians accuse each other of stealing material. A lot of comedy is simply a clever reaction to something, and, being human, we shouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people react the same way, completely independently of each other.
With ITV reducing its commitments to regional broadcasting, the BBC has been taking up some of the slack. A manifestation of this is Late Kick Off, a football show that began last night on BBC1. The version we get in the east is produced by Kevin Piper, who presented Anglia Tonight and Anglia’s various football shows for aeons before the retrenchment. Not giving a toss about football, I can’t say whether the show’s any good or not, but I’m glad that Piper, who always seemed likeable on-screen, is keeping busy.
However, with my doctorate in blue cardboard and Letraset studies from the Border TV Academy of Graphic Design, I am qualified to pass comment on his company logo, which, sad to say, is not of the same quality as the Anglia silver knight. While it’s nice to see something on the BBC free of the tyranny of Gill Sans (which I once loved with a passion, but now regard with the contempt that familiarity breeds – meanwhile, the Richard Levin-designed 1958-1997 BBC logo will always be my favourite piece of corporate design, in all its variant forms), the design for Kevin Piper Media (I can’t decide whether I like or loathe the Ronseal naming policy – He could have had something far cleverer with a name like his) looks like something a bored sixth-former might have knocked up on the school’s new Mac in 1990 (that being the last time and place when I knowingly used the Avant Garde typeface for anything). If he’d had the company and logo lying dormant for years, it could be forgiven (just about) but a swift gander at the Companies House database shows that Kevin Piper Media Ltd was incorporated on 20 September 2009.
In fairness, the logo isn’t all bad. The one saving grace is the colour bars, which are obviously a comment on MonkeyMFC’s antics at Millwall Online.
There’s an interesting story on the Daily Mail website about Millwall supporter Rod Liddle and some messages he posted on a football forum. The piece is headlined “Former Today editor Rod Liddle under fire over ‘racist’ posts on football supporters’ website”. Note those single quotes around racist. When used in a newspaper headline, they indicate that the paper’s making it up. As it proves. The hack makes much of Liddle’s forum handle, MonkeyMFC. Why? Maybe I’m being over-cynical, but it appears to have been done largely so that a stupid person reading the story could well come away and say “He called them monkeys. It’s true. It was in the Mail“. For what it’s worth, the word ‘monkey’ figures in the email address Liddle used to return my Merry Cuntmas message. So, it would appear to be his nickname. A term of endearment to which the gibbon-visaged rabble-rouser answers quite merrily. So, its presence in his forum handle is irrelevant, and its use in this story adds nothing except a nasty taste in this reader’s mouth.
Then there’s this: “After abusive comments about [Kevin] Amankwaah by other users, Liddle writes he has heard [Millwall player Neil] Harris’s alleged comment was: ‘**** off you spearchucking African ****’.” Again, a stupid person could come away from reading the story thinking that Liddle had actually said that about yer man Amankwaah himself, rather than quoting what he’d heard. But then, ‘Millwall player shouts abuse in heat of moment’ is a bit dog bites man as stories go.
Helpfully, one of the commenters on the story has quoted the main body of what Liddle said: “There’s thousands of organisations catering exclusively to black and asian minorities. **** ’em, close them down. Why do blacks need a forum of their own? As a power base and cash cow for ****s and in order to perpetuate the myth of widespread discrimination”. Is that racist? Or is it just a broadside against lobbying groups? To be honest, I read it almost as if Liddle’s paraphrasing ‘Melting Pot’ by Blue Mink. I suspect that it all depends very much on whether you’re out to get him or not. While he might be a cunt (as am I), the Mail‘s miles cuntier.
The revelation that a cunt might become a newspaper editor (and people acting like it’s unprecedented) is a minor sideshow compared to the meejah story of the moment that really matters: Jay Leno vs Conan O’Brien over the future of NBC’s Tonight Show. Five years ago, to keep the very bankable O’Brien sweet, NBC got a commitment from Leno that he’d step aside from the Tonight Show and let Coco take over in 2009, which he did. However, Coco’s lost a few of the show’s older viewers, in favour of a younger audience, while Leno’s new show has lost most of its viewers, whatever their age, and has been cancelled. So, NBC proposed that the Tonight Show be moved back 30 minutes to 12.05am, to be preceded by a new Leno vehicle. O’Brien seems to be regarding this as constructive dismissal, and not without reason, as it’s not the Tonight Show at 12.05, it’s the Tomorrow Show. Over at ABC, Jimmy Kimmel has been playing a blinder, including ripping Leno a new one on his own show.
Meanwhile, over at CBS, Johnny Carson’s rightful heir Dave Letterman has ordered in the popcorn and is watching with glee as the rival network tears itself apart, rather as it did when Leno pipped him to the Tonight Show in 1993.
Kenny Wheeler was 80 yesterday. Most remiss of me not to mark the occasion by listening to him tear up Seven Steps to Heaven with the Tubby Hayes Big Band, one of my favourite pieces of anything ever recorded on rust-covered Sellotape. I’ll have to repair the omission right now. Happy birthday, Kenny. I interviewed him once – not easy, as he’s a chap who prefers to speak through music. With a couple of quotes here and there, I cobbled together a piece that made clear my love and admiration for the man and his work. Anyway, here he is in the early 1990s with Gordon Beck on piano, Stan Sulzmann on tenor, Tony Oxley on drums and a bassist I can’t quite identify at the moment, playing an unrecognisably ferocious version of Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debbie in 4/4 time. Oxley’s at his barking best on this one, omitting to bring anything resembling a snare drum to the gig, a decision that I gather drove a massive wedge between him and his long-time collaborator, Beck. I can’t mention him without reminding this blog’s reader of Stan Tracey’s summary of his exceptional, if idiosyncratic talent. “Jazz drummers play ten-to-ten, ten-to-ten, ten-to-ten [the phonetic representation of the ride cymbal swing pattern]. Tony’s more a-round-a-bout-a-quarter-past-eleven.”
If you get an email like the following, ignore it. It’s a scam. Naturally, being just before the deadline for self-assessment submission, a few people might think “Oh dear, better click on the link and see what they want”. At best, you’ll end up with a virus. At worst, you might lose money:
Taxpayer ID: [part of an email address I’ve never used for tax correspondence]-00000472970993UK
Tax Type: INCOME TAX
Issue: Unreported/Underreported Income (Fraud Application)
Please review your tax statement on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website (click on the link below):
HM Revenue and Customs
The aforementioned comment on Woo’s blog resulted in a strange and slightly creepy but highly illuminating stream of communications from Rod Liddle himself. To think that he had time between paid opinions to Google his own name obsessively and give little me a piece of his mind, gratis. Truly I am blessed. In it, I see that he called me a “Typical fucking gobshite public school coward, devoid of talent, wit or interest. Or courage. Hopeless little beardy cunt”.
Gobshite? Almost certainly. Devoid of talent, wit or interest? I’m probably not the best judge of my own attributes. You decide. Courage? I wish they’d bring back Imperial Russian stout. However, like Liddle, I went to a comprehensive. Still, why research when you can assume, albeit wrongly? As for being “beardy”, what’s this I see before me? I reckon that he was just jealous because I can actually grow something other than bumfluff.