29 Mar

Feeling As Hoagy As A Carmichael

Another bad night’s sleep but this time no drawing. For some reason, my heart hasn’t been into it. For a few days (perhaps even weeks, if I’m honest) I keep starting cartoons and I find that my energy just isn’t there to finish them. I blame this throat infection, which feels a little better in so far as it now feels more like a heavy cold but also makes me feel worse because it’s now more like a heavy cold. The Strepsils have been working but I’m not convinced they don’t give me mild insomnia. I find I’m full of energy at about 5am.

Another bad night’s sleep and a lost hour due to the clocks going forward means that I’m behind with everything and especially the news.

Interesting to see the Tory infighting has already started with IDS suggesting the Cameron will be forced to quit early. I thought Cameron’s ‘no third term’ an odd confession to make but because of one point that I’ve not seen mentioned in the media. If Cameron doesn’t intend to stand for a third term, there’s nothing to stop him promising the earth at this election. Politicians are programmed to ensure they never box themselves in. They hate to rule things in or out lest it come back to bite them when next they need the public’s vote. If this really is Cameron’s last election, can it be any surprise that he’s already promising us a 7 day NHS when the 5 day NHS is broken to buggery?

Loved how gloomy and literate ‘Spectre’ is looking: ‘You’re like a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr. Bond’… Great writing. Hated the media attacking Sir Roger Moore for saying something that I believe many Bond fans would say. I think it’s a sign of a largely white paranoia about issues of race that nothing can be debated without immediate accusations of bigotry. It’s precisely why UKIP already have such a strong hold in politics.

Hoagy_Carmichael_-_1947I’m sure the first black Bond will come and perhaps he/she will be a revelation. I’ve never been a fan of any Bond who looks unlike the Fleming model which was Hoagy Carmichael. Much as I love the Craig movies, the blond Bond is not really James Bond in my eyes. So, given I’ve watched and enjoyed movies that have moved away from the canon, would it matter if they changed his ethnicity or even his gender? Hamlet was recently being played by a woman in Manchester and it was supposedly a great success.

I feel too ill to argue otherwise. I’m too ill to argue why we should cherish our cultural icons. Would it matter if in the next adaptation of Sherlock Holmes the BBC turned him into an Eskimo woman? Perhaps not. It depends on the execution but, really, even if it were great (and, oddly, I can imagine it might be great) it wouldn’t be Sherlock Holmes. It would be a pastiche of Holmes, something like Sherlock Holmes but very different to Sherlock Holmes. It I were a fan of DC Comic (I’m not) I’d probably be shocked by the New 52 relaunch of their major titles in which they’ve changed everything, turning Thor into a woman and Superman into an angry young man. The market will ultimately decide these things. We live in a mash-up culture and nothing is sacred except the mighty dollar.

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28 Mar

How Ed Miliband Would Win The Election

My fevers, aches and coughing fits finally eased last night so I finally had the energy and concentration to sit down and watch the Sky News/Channel 4 interviews with the leaders of the two main parties.

The first thing to say is that I thought David Cameron won on the night but it was a hollow victory. All the interesting things that need to be said are about Miliband. Miliband might have come second but that’s purely a political score. If it were a football match, Cameron was Stoke City parking eleven players in front of the net and going through on away goals. Miliband was on the losing side but he played the better football. If you were to follow a team based on just this performance, glory seekers might support Cameron. Fans of good football would want to follow the red team.

But let’s begin with Cameron. Even if the novelty wore off years ago, I’m often surprised at how personable David Cameron can be. He says warm friendly things with such a practised conviction that you’d be forgiven for forgetting that he’s been in charge of the government for the past five years. Over that time, the Tories have lost none of their ‘Nasty Party’ vibe and, in fact, they seem to have enhanced it. In a sense, it’s an amazing skill to develop. I’m not quite sure how Cameron, the Prime Minister, managed to somehow distance himself from the government of Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith and George Osborne. He is, I suppose, the velvet glove disguising the iron fist. I read recently that he considers himself a One Nation Tory yet his idol was Baroness Thatcher. That is a big clue to the man and perhaps explains what has happened to the nation under his watch.

On screen, he’s the smiling face, well groomed hair, with compassionate answers which you know he’s practised ad nauseum in the mirror. He’s one of those politicians trained never to point but to use that strange thumb to knuckle gesture that irritates you once you spot it being used. He’s another politician who believes that his family shouldn’t be used to make political points yet he’s another who happily uses his family to make political points. He also plays the One Nation Tory so well. He’s the Etonian toff who wants to dedicate a few years to the national service of ‘saving the nation’ before he goes off to make his fortune. The reality is that he’s a Thatcherite at heart; the leader of a deeply radical government that believes that the market is the best arbiter for government as well as business. He is the merciless opponent of real standards and that ‘closed shop’ mentality brought about by such ‘outmoded’ concepts as professional qualifications or experience. His government repeatedly helps the rich and uses the poor as the red meat to feed their braying constituency. Paxman’s question about zero hour contacts was the best of the night but the consequences of that weren’t taken to their logical conclusions, exploding the reality of the ‘them’ and ‘us’ culture of government and (I suppose) the media. Miliband is regularly attacked because of the proposed ‘Mansion Tax’ that might hit the super wealthy but Cameron rarely has to defend the real ‘Bedroom Tax’ which is already hurting poor people. Instead, the charm of the man carried him through the evening. He laughed and smiled and said we’re all in this together and let’s jolly well get the chuffing job finished! At the end of the hour, the audience knew no more about him or what the next five years might truly entail.

One of the only things to really note about the first half of the show was that Kay Burley was too sycophantic to the PM. She has a track record, of course. Her career at Sky News has been marked by repeated examples of her allowing her impartiality to slip. She often gives authorities an easy ride, her saccharin interviewing technique landing many one-on-ones with people in power. Yet, to anybody disadvantaged or protesting against the status quo, it’s a quite different style that emerges: she becomes combinative, bullying, hectoring, her interviews laced with tart asides and last word quips, usually all followed by a knowing look to camera once the interview is over. She channels the Fox News spirit into a British sphere and it’s wholly unwelcome. Given her past history, there wasn’t a presenter I thought less suited to this debate and so it proved as she punctuated the Miliband session with editorial judgements such as ‘that’s a politician’s answer’ and the moment she interjected ‘let’s not talk about the conservatives, let’s talk about what you do. I’m sure members of the audience remember about […] the note that was left behind’. Why Sky chose Burley just baffles me when they also have the wonderful Anna Jones.

By the time Miliband appeared on stage, my feeling was that Cameron had set the bar pretty low. Miliband only needed to turn up to win an easy victory. Only, it didn’t turn out like that.

His preparation was Miliband’s undoing. He had a deliberate strategy, which was clearly the product of whatever awful ‘people’ people the Labour HQ are currently employing. He’s clearly gone through the media friendly drills: ask the audience member their name and preface every answer with little lead in phrases such as ‘let me explain why’. It made for a polished performance but, really, it stripped him of his personality. He was attempting to play the game by Cameron’s rules and highlighted the strange dichotomy that exists between what we want of our politicians and what we probably deserve.

There’s a phenomenon in current British politics that’s barely been explained. The rise of the New Right is not simply a seismic shift of political allegiance. UKIP membership is not simply the far right of the Tory party. If it were, they wouldn’t command 20% in the polls. Instead, they’ve eaten into Labour and Lib Dems support. The shifts are fluid, of course, and go many ways. Some Lib Dems might have moved to Labour but a surprising number of old Labour supporters now throwing their votes towards UKIP.

UKIP’s success, I would argue, isn’t merely about a current concern with immigration. It’s surprising to see many people professing their support for UKIP when previously they’d have been staunchly Labour. The explanation is that it’s not simply about policy. UKIP are more Tory than the Tories and many of their votes would never have voted Tory in their lives. Instead, it’s about language and the nature of British political debate which started with Tony Blair. Iraq might be the legacy that most people associate with Blair but, for me, it was the neutering of the political arena. Blair’s government were master manipulators of the message. They used the techniques of PR to convince people that they were right. Ministers were told to remove beards and use key phrases. It led to a bastardized politics that remains to this day. It’s the politics of the coming election when argument will be replaced by billboards, sound bites and cheap smears. We already hear the key phrases such as ‘long term economic plan’ and ‘for hardworking people’. It’s Pavlovian politics, whereby you repeat an untruth enough times that it takes on the permanence of a truth.

It’s a political strategy that suits Cameron immensely and he plays it supremely well. David Miliband would have also played it well but brother Ed is not suited to the game. In fact, not only should he not play it but not playing that game might be his greatest strength.

I contest that UKIP’s success is primarily down to the figure of Nigel Farage, an odd looking man, often seen standing in a pub his huge ugly teeth on show as he laughs open mouthed. He’s graceless, without much sense of fashion. He’s exactly the opposite of Cameron and, here’s the important part, people love him because of that. His virtue is that he’s not cut from the same cloth as David Cameron or Tony Blair. He’s a throwback not just to a bygone England but to a former political style. He appeals to many people who simply feel that politicians talk over them, in cleverly rehearsed rhetoric which never answers a single question. Farage is popular because he’s one of the few alternatives to vanilla party politics. Yet on the basis of last night’s performance, Ed Miliband is about 90% of the way towards having a similar common touch. It’s just that 10% of polish which gets in the way.

For example, at one point, Paxman demanded that Miliband set a figure for the potential population of the UK in the coming years. 70 million? 75 million? 80 million? Miliband tried to play the game. He refused to provide a number and instead tried to move the debate on to the question about our membership of the EU. ‘I haven’t mentioned the European Union,’ waited Paxman. ‘You’re making up questions yourself’.

It was the lowest point of the evening as the audience sniggered. Having been the subject of enough schoolyard bullying in my life, I recognised it for what it was. Somebody asks you to name your favourite band and no matter what you answer, you become a laughing stock to a crowd all too ready to follow the example set by bully. I’ve always liked Paxman but I thought he went too far. Perhaps he knew that himself given that we could faintly hear him ask ‘Are you okay, Ed?’ as the credit’s rolled.

Yet oddly it was the bulling that seemed to break Miliband’s nerve. His temper frayed and Miliband rose to another level. The last five minutes of his interview had more conviction than the rest of the show. Had he been that passionate and informal in the preceding mannered minutes, the night would have been his.

What struck me about the debate was that perhaps Miliband’s greatest virtue might be that he’s nothing like Cameron. Large portions of the electorate are turned off politics because politicians don’t answer straight questions with straight answers. Miliband could turn that to his advantage. John Major did exactly that when he deployed his stupid crate of oranges that everybody thought a ridiculous ploy until it connected with the nation in an odd but meaningful way.

I’m not sure if Miliband need a crate of oranges but I think he simply needs to find that edge. He needs to stop listening to his ‘people’ people and stop being so damn nice. He’s not going to out-nice Cameron. What he could do is galvanise an electorate who are sick of political sock puppetry. He could talk to a nation largely unrepresented by an Etonian elite running the country from the heart of a city that feels ever more remote to the rest of the nation. He should turn the debate from the questions the media want to ask to the questions that the rest of the country want to hear answered. You do not win the country simply by winning London. The only question is how Labour go about doing that. If they play the election on Cameron’s terms, they won’t been seen as a viable alternative. They should instead play the game as Farage plays it: with self-deprecating humour,  spontaneous moments of genuine character, off the cuff encounters with common people even if that means having those ‘media’ moments with dissenters. I caught just a hint of it last night but for the first time I realised that Miliband’s lack of polish and willingness to engage the electorate might be the very thing that just might win him the forthcoming election. It’s only a matter of whether Labour have the wits to realise this.

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27 Mar

Sickbed Doodles, Sickbed Logic

Prince Charles

I drew this one at 5.30am when I’d finally given up attempting to sleep and decided that I might as well do something more productive with my time. I’m not going to claim it’s satire or art when it’s really just the feverish scribbling of a man stick of listening to the dawn chorus. I think I should have spent more time on the chin. It’s too fat, though that’s what I wanted but not to this extent.

All I can say is that at least there are no spelling mistakes. It’s a sign of how little sleep I had last night that the heading to my previous article was ‘Becow’ instead of ‘Bercow’. Sounded more like an abbreviation Bart Simpson might use…

The oddest thing about it is that I actually quite like Prince Charles, though I know you’re not supposed to mutter such confessions too loudly. It’s the old Jeremy Clarkson syndrome: I know I should have plenty of reasons to dislike the man but there’s something that holds me back.

My attitude to the monarchy swings with every argument that’s made. My mind tells me that I’m a Republican because I don’t like systems in which elites hold an advantage at birth. Yet, at the same time, I’m not so naive to assume that all Republics are without their elites. America, our supposed great model of egalitarianism, is regularly ruled by dynasties at all levels but the Roosevelt, Bush, Adams, Kennedy, and Clinton dynasties are the most memorable. A constitutional monarchy feels like a good compromise. If we’re going to have a ruling dynasty, we might as well stick with just one and strip them of all power. You could argue it’s a cruel duty to impose on somebody but, really, there are far more cruel duties that life imposes on all of us.

In that sense, I’m generally in favour of our monarchy and the alternative would be a dozen times more irritating. It’s rare the Queen does anything to piss us off and even if Charles is a little too quick to offer advice to governments, it’s a damn sight less headache inducing that having a system like America where there’d be an elected second trough around which we could line up twice as many high-priced pigs.

Even if you accept Charles’ meddling, there are other reasons to dislike him which I’m sympathetic to but largely choose to ignore. His support for holistic medicine is one. Another is the nonsense about defending all faiths, given that half the world is in flames because of faiths contesting for the soul of every Joe Pigfarm scraping a living out of the land.

So, yes, Charles is a somewhat bonkers relic of an outdated system which perhaps doesn’t represent a modern nation. Yet human life isn’t always run by logic alone. There should always been room for a little craziness in the world. We all have to take a one too many nips of the cough syrup and start to draw pointless things at 5.30 in the morning. Charles is anti-modernity, he’s never been hip in his life, and he wants to be highbrow and believe in highbrow things. He’s a bit like Clarkson: likely to piss of a lot of people who don’t believe in his values. Yet it’s good to know that there are people who still believe in certain things like British engineering and a kind of rebellious swimming against the tide. It might make us uneasy to defend people like that but he alternative would be a rush for the bottom and a wholesale ubiquity.

 

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27 Mar

A Bercow/Hague Cartoon

Bercow

I drew this in the time it took me to watch Question Time last night. I wish Question Time had been longer, though it was nearly 3am by the time it finished. I was up for another five hours, unable to sleep because of the strange sensations going on in my throat. Sleeping sitting up never works for me so I ended up watching random things on the BBC iPlayer. I didn’t have any means of watching the leader’s ‘debate’ otherwise I’d have watched that. However, I understand it was pretty bad (though Paxman was good) and that Kay Burley did her usual stunt of sucking up to the rich and powerful and going all in to hammer the relatively weak or powerless. I have to see if I can find it online. I simply forgot it was on last night. (And, in fact, I was about to delete the comment about Kay Burley since I didn’t see it myself and it was sister (politically pretty neutral) who told me and was really indignant about it. Then I saw this and figured it sounded pretty typical.)

Away from politics, I’m pretty certain I know what’s been wrong with me.  I thought I had a cold. I’m now sure I picked up a viral throat infection at some point in Chester. I’ve had all the symptoms and an absence of cold and flu symptoms. It’s still not turned into a proper cold and I don’t feel as bad as I’d usually feel with a cold and an almost total absence of solid sleep. More amusingly, my Barry White voice has gone because I can no longer string more than two words together before it leaps into the higher octaves, only audible to dogs and Liberal Democrats. Not sure if this is now technically laryngitis but my family think it’s highly amusing.

Anyway, I hit the websites looking for cures. Green tea and honey was supposed to be good. I’m sure it is if you stomach the stuff. The slowly brewed yeast off a mouldy old badger wouldn’t have tasted so bad.

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26 Mar

Bercow

Still a little under the weather but trying to get my eye and hand back into the game. Not entirely sure how to feel about today’s vote in the House of Commons. I’m tempted to write to Kate Emms to ask what she thinks I should think. Ever since I mentioned Kate Emms in my review of the Commons documentary, the name ‘Kate Emms’ has eclipsed all others when it comes to bringing visitors from Google. I’m still not convinced there isn’t another Kate Emms who is a shadowy member of One Direction…

Anyway, William Hague’s ploy did seem a little underhand but it’s Cameron I really despise for trying to destroy Bercow simply because the Speaker dare stand up to the Prime Minister. It’s precisely the same flaw in the PM’s character that has been exposed by the debate about the leader’s debate. Power seems to have corrupted him to the point where he can’t bear to hear dissent but dissent is usually the best barometer of a democracy.

Today’s proceedings did, perhaps, explain why Hague had been moved to Leader of the House in the last reshuffle. Previously, I couldn’t understand the move. Had Cameron planned this all along? If so, it was a nasty little business to pass off to Hague whose career had, thus far, deserved something better. I have no idea why Hague is quitting but that too seems odd except he’s another (like Portillo) whose status increases the further he gets from power. He would have made a fine Prime Minister and would have been Prime Minister had fate not given him that head with that voice. I think exactly the same is true of Ed Miliband as I’ve said before. It’s cruel but a fact about large portions of the voting public who are led almost as much by looks as they are by policy.

As for Bercow (note to self: must draw him for tomorrow), I don’t know what to think. He seemed genuinely moved when the ‘No’s won and that means I was genuinely moved. In his favour, the backbenchers seem (or perhaps tend) to like him. However, I can’t get over the fact that I probably wouldn’t like the man and he can sometimes strike me as a grade ‘A’ pillock, with pomposity his worst (and greatest) quality. He’s pompous to the point that my family spontaneously burst into laughter whenever he comes on TV, strutting alongside the great, good, and powerful. However I don’t have to deal with him and I imagine dealing with him on a daily basis is like trying to manhandle a greased sealion into a golf bag.

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26 Mar

Old Man River… That Old Man River…

The distinctions between colds and flu seem to be terribly arbitrary. I’m pretty sure that I’ve had a cold, though it’s been an odd cold that hasn’t developed how most of my colds develop. I’m not at all snuffly, though I’m now talking with a Barry White voice. Oh yes, baby! You heard me. I say Barry White… Ooh yeah!

Sorry, though I’m not really that sorry. I love my ‘cold voice’ because it usually drops a couple of octaves and I spend my days singing ‘Old Man River’ for no reason other than I can.

Old Man Riveeeeeeer….

But as I was saying… I think I’ve had a cold yet all the literature about colds say that you don’t get aches and fevers. That’s probably why I get zero sympathy. I tell people that I have a cold and they go: oh, right, well keep away from me. No note of sympathy or anything.

However, at 1am this morning, I was curled up in bed feeling really achy, freezing cold and generally crappy. By 3am I was really hot. I didn’t take my temperature for fear of frightening the crap out of myself but I felt hotter than I’ve ever felt yet I wasn’t sweating. Not sweating was the thing that worried me so I knew the best course of action would be a couple of paracetamol to induce the sweating, even though I knew it meant I wouldn’t sleep for a few hours. So, 3.30, I stuck ‘Anchorman 2′ on (yet again) and settled in for the inevitable.

Half an hour late the sweating began and by 4.15am I was wet through. The pillows were wet, the sheets were wet, even the wallpaper was beginning to curl at the edges. At some point, I did finally fall asleep and the sweating continued profusely, to judge by the soggy mess that awoke some hours later. I’m amazed I didn’t wake up a rake; the reverse Captain America process except replace the well honed body of the Captain with my slightly less well-honed body.

Anyway, when I did wake up, I felt better. The aches have gone and my energy is back. Still no obvious cold (a slight cough and feeling a little under the weather) which makes we wonder what the hell I’ve had. I nipped to the corner shop and bought myself some Lucozade, a throwback from my childhood give that illness in the house was the only time we ever bought Lucozade. I want to get back to my cartooning, though I’m a bit worried about my beloved tablet. A sign of how ill I was last night, I accidentally dropped my tablet and watched it bounce down a full set of stairs. It seems to work (no cracked screen, thank god) but I’ve not fully tested it. Losing my tablet would be the spectacularly cruel end to a momentously bad month.

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25 Mar

Man Flu

Christ! I feel rough. I’m told I have ‘a cold’ but I think it’s technically called ‘man flu’ by we sufferers. I get zero sympathy from the women in my life.

What I don’t understand is that a cold isn’t supposed to make you feel so achy or give you such low energy that I’m struggling to even type this. I have both, though my sore throat of last night has eased and I feel the usual symptoms of a cold building in my head. It’s not (as far as I can tell) flu because the really bad symptoms aren’t there. Hence my diagnosis of ‘man flu’.

Anyway, a tip of my slightly infected hat to the BBC executives. I didn’t think they’d do it but they of course had no alternative but to sake Jeremy Clarkson once a bloodied lip entered into the picture. Having a high moral stance it what we want of our national broadcaster, yet I can’t help but feel that something has been lost and lost to Rupert Murdoch.

Here’s my prediction. A new Clarkson/May/Hammond vehicle (no pun intended) will launch on Sky, obviously helping increase Sky’s subscribers and bringing vast amounts of money into the Murdoch coffers which would have previously gone into the BBC coffers where it has been helping them produce more innovative and marginal TV than the old ‘Top Gear’.

Meanwhile, the new BBC ‘Top Gear’ will probably carry on much as before. Against most people’s expectations, I think the BBC will try to keep the jaundiced grumpy middle age vibe, with just a few less racial slurs. It will probably do okay and the Sky one will do okay. I expect to hate the new show because they will cherry pick the most annoying presenters, taking them from my well circulated list of ‘people who make David hiss with fury’. Chris Evans, Danny Dyer, and Stephen Fry. How much more toxic could they get? Oh, I know. They’ll make one of them a woman and the woman will be Caitlan Moran, who I insist hasn’t a funny bone in her body. Of course, the moment you say that, there’s always somebody who’ll say ‘oh, but you’re bound to say that because you’re the kind of man that dear Caitlan has been mocking for all these years.’ To which I’d reply: sod you. I have man flu, remember. I’m not likely to remember my language.

Anyway, I feel too rough to lament Clarkson’s lot in life. How the hell does a man so well off seem to feel like the world is as wrong as he claims. He’s one of life’s winners. He was’t to come view life from this end of the long shit stick.

Pardon my language again. It’s the man flue.

Besides, in a few years, we’ll probably we watching Clarkson, May and Hammond (five years older but looking ten years younger) migrate back to the BBC where the whole ridiculous circus will begin again.

And just what was James May thinking about when he wore that hat for the camera’s today. Made him look like an effete Tommy Trinder.

trinder

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25 Mar

My March Jinx

My internet’s back after about 36 hours of moderate hell trying to figure out the problem. It’s why I resorted to attempting to use my Samsung tablet with an Apple bluetooth keyboard last night. I hate technology. Never works how it should…

The internet always seems to go at the most inconvenient times. Yesterday, I had a really important job to do when it flaked out and it all came down to a frayed cable which, like most bad cables, was in about the most inaccessible place. That’s bad at the best of times but I’m being assaulted on two fronts. Firstly, I had work outstanding from last week which I couldn’t do because of somebody being deliberately obstructive because they refused to communicate with the company I occasionally work. The company I occasionally work for had landed a contract which this person had previously won, meaning he refused to hand over any of the relevant passwords. I watched it all from afar but it’s amazing to see how childish businessmen can behave.

The second assault has come in the form of a last minute gift from Chester. I was in the crowds on Saturday and Monday night I started to feel like I’d caught another cold, which, for me, is typical of this time of year. I read somewhere that you’re less likely to get a cold during spring and autumn, but my experience is that I *always* catch a cold as the weather changes from/to bitterly cold to/from moderately mild.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Dumb, the election is beginning to warm up. I watched with mild incredulity the interview that Cameron did for the BBC or (more accurately) his old Eton chum, James Lansdale. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such sycophancy trying to pass itself off as real journalism. Yet, five minutes later, the BBC were reporting on some small scam at a company training bodyguards, ending with the guy operating the scam running down the street being perused by reporters wielding hard questions. Obvious, the scam was bad but it impacted so few people that nobody cared how much they chased the grifter. Cameron, on the other hand, seems to get away without any hard questions. I’m pretty disgusted that we’re not getting proper leaders debates, especially since Cameron was a beneficiary of them at the last election. I was no fan of Gordon Brown (though I have found myself warming to him since he left office) but at least Brown had the balls to stand in front of the nation, knowing, as he surely did, that it could (and probably did) become his Nixon moment. No Prime Minister had fewer personal skills than Brown but he stood up when it mattered.

I’m not sure what we’ll make of the coming election. This far out, I suspect it might be a pretty dull one, with Cameron doing Tony Blair’s old trick of only appearing in front of heavily vetted audiences. At the moment, I’m feeling too rough to really rouse my anger or to draw a cartoon. March has been a really bad month and I’m feeling spiritually as well as physically under the weather.

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24 Mar

Api fun…

Slightly absent, today. I’ve been racking up the hours programming the eBay API with the result after about four days that I can now create listings. Given that this work was meant to be a little project to help our a friend, it’s become something else. I really need to stop allowing my enthusiasm to take over. I’ve not had chance to write or draw properly since my slightly overlong critique of Chester. I don’t have time to write now. I’m using my Samsung Note with an Apple Wireless keyboard, which I thought would make a great laptop replacment allowing me to blog tonight. However, I’ve just discovered why I didn’t do this before. The Note seems to have a bug with its Bluetooth which means it keeps disconnecting the keyboard every minute or two… That wouldn’t be to… Long pause as the keyboard reconnects… too bad if I could anticipate the disconnections but I can and it’s already driving me mad.

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23 Mar

A Question about the Post Office

I was in the Post Office, posting a parcel so I walked up to the desk.

‘Can I send this second class, please,’ I ask, putting the parcel on the scales.

The woman looked up at me. ‘And can I ask what in the parcel for security reasons?’

‘It’s a book,’ I answer, cursing myself that I didn’t plump for one of the ‘funny’ replies I always have ready. It’s not just the obvious ‘yes, you can ask me what’s in the parcel’ or even the pedantic ‘there’s nothing in it for security reasons’. I mean the answers I have like ‘some frilly underwear that was chafing me when I bend over’ or ‘the Big Book of British Soup’.  There are a few more vulgar that always tempt me. I sometimes wonder what they’d say if I replied ‘a partially masticated butt plug’ or ‘a pair of prosthetic buttocks’. If I could sit down (on my prosthetic buttocks), I’m sure I could come up with some pretty imaginative answers but I haven’t and so I didn’t. Instead I just added a bland:

‘I keep thinking I should give you a silly reply.’

‘Oh,’ said the woman. ‘We get loads of them.’

‘Really?’ I ask, a little surprised.

‘Most people say it’s a bomb.’

I did a double take.

‘Did you say bomb?’

‘Yes,’ she smiled. ‘Most people just say they’re sending a bomb.’

‘Don’t they get into trouble?’

‘Oh no,’ she laughed as she affixed the label. ‘Good job we don’t take them seriously!’

Which made me think. The Post Office are always asking us what’s in the parcels for security reasons, to make sure that it’s not a bomb. Yet when you tell them it’s a bomb, they don’t take it seriously. Which begs the question: what kind of reply would make them really suspicious?

[Addendum. It suddenly struck me that perhaps bombs aren’t actually on the list of objects you’re prohibited from sending through the post. They keep showing me the list and I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a bomb of that sheet. Perhaps it should. I’d even suggest that it should be at the top of the form.]

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