Sunday, 25 June 2017



Image result for iMAGES JEREMY HUNT

Stand aside from my NHS

You’re not a guard, a sentry

You see treatment as a source of wealth

Not free at point of entry.

Stand aside from my hospital

With your greedy, lying grin

Run along to Richard Branson

Who’ll charge to let you in.

Take your credit card to BMI

To Circle Health and Bupa

But when your credit rating’s blown

See if then they seem so super.

Take your hedge fund friends

From my busy ward

I want to see them off it

We’re here to help humanity

Not cash cows for your profit

We are the final vestige

Of what you’ll never comprehend

The underpaid protectors

Of a system you can’t end;

Caring and compassion,

Lives to enhance and save,

And you shall never rule us,

From your cradle to the grave.

Thursday, 22 June 2017



to get off!

In 1961 Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse launched a West End musical entitled Stop the World, I Want to Get Off. They got the title from a piece of graffiti on an East London wall. The musical’s long forgotten, but the graffiti’s back, and after the events of the past few months, it’s hardly surprising that some people still feel moved to write on a wall. However, for many of the victims of Kensington’s Grenfell Tower inferno the wall is one of the main channels for anger.

   The world has turned upside down. This week marks a year since the UK voted to leave the EU. And we’re still in it until 2019. America’s political system left the rails and crashed down a historical mineshaft with the election of a vile, mendacious narcissist devoid of one iota of statesmanship. Maintaining a ‘special relationship’ with Donald Trump is like poking a rabid Rottweiler with a sharp stick.  

    And the UK had an unnecessary election which has probably done us all a favour. The dam of public disapproval for the economic suffering inflicted upon us has finally burst. We’ve had enough.  Yes, Theresa May’s battered, laughingstock of a ‘government’ is hanging on by its fingernails, but this election had only one winner; The People. The ‘strong and stable government’ campaigning by an over-confident May, thoroughly expecting her ‘deserved’ landslide, was stilted, repetitive, lacking any empathy with the public. Stage managed by the Australian Sir Lynton Crosby, it used the same defunct slogans and methods which failed miserably in the last New Zealand elections, yet Britain’s Tories have been happy to pay Crosby’s reported £2.4 million fee. Now they intend sharing power with the DUP, the political wing of the Old Testament.

     The barrage of media hatred against Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn during the campaign was breath-taking. Painted as everything from a lunatic to a terrorist, he never the less battled on. His rallies, compared to May’s Top Gear-style gaggle of supporters standing around her battle bus, were natural events attracting thousands. The rally at Huddersfield looked like the Sermon on the Mount.

    And now, in the richest borough in the UK, the avoidable tragedy of Kensington’s Grenfell Tower fire. In November 2016, on their blog, (Grenfell Action Group) the residents angrily predicted this fire after so many safety recommendations had been ignored.   The inequality and unfairness in our society have been brought into sharp focus in Kensington, as well as revealing the true nature of some of our public figures. Challenged by Andrew Marr on TV, the Chancellor Philip Hammond admitted that he’d voted against a bill last year which aimed to ensure that “all private landlords made sure their homes were fit for human habitation.” Hammond’s response was that “No regulation isn't always bad.”

Mrs. May said she couldn’t visit the Grenfell survivors because of ‘security’ reasons, yet the following day our 91-year old Queen was there talking to distraught residents, as Jeremy Corbyn had done two days earlier. And in the midst of all this, someone has to start the Brexit talks. It seems at last that we, the peasants, are revolting. And as that ex-punk and unlikely Brexit supporter Johnny Rotten said, ‘Anger is an energy’. Let’s use it wisely.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Image result for Images suicide bombs

All we can do is wonder
Over what nefarious force
Gouged that gap to wound the earth
So cheerlessly between us;
An ecclesiastic excavation by your God?

Deep, your carnivorous dark canyon
Wherein you hope our luminous liberties
Might be sucked down in limp surrender,
Harvested or integrated like dead butterflies,
Mere exhibits in your showcase of insanity.

Once there could have been a bridge
Whereupon we may have met half way,
Paused above the stygian depth to talk.
But the tongue is not your culture.
Just the blood-wet swinging of the sword.

Primeval, your vicious visage cloaked behind
A coward’s cowl, a black habit, foul fa├žade
Of anonymity, heartless, cruel, conscience free,
You seek to recreate your Golden age of Guilt
Upon my family’s shattered limbs.

Thus across the chasm do we stand, perplexed;
Your laser beams of spite and hate
The only things to bridge that cretin’s crazed crevasse
Thus strutting backwards beneath your barren banner,
Quoting distorted verse;  human progress in reverse.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Meeting Neddy




As an unknown freelance in the autumn of 1995 I was commissioned by BBC Radio 4 to write a feature on The Goon Show Preservation Society’s Bournemouth Convention, A Weekend Called Fred. As a Goons aficionado, meeting fans from Australia, New Zealand and the USA, plus the show’s producers and sound effects men was an attractive proposition. However, I was disappointed to discover there would be no actual Goons attending. Peter Sellers was dead. Spike Milligan was grumpy and unapproachable. Harry Secombe had been knighted and was busy in West End theatre. So unbeknown to the Society, I decided to write a letter to one of the originals, Michael Bentine.
I was surprised when Bentine phoned me to announce that he was going to California as he was dying with prostate cancer. He told me he already had the inscription planned for his gravestone; "You know I believe in the spirit world and the afterlife?" I said I was aware. "Well, on my grave I'm having "I'm sorry I'm not available just now, but leave a message and I'll get back to you." We both laughed.

     “I wish you well, but I aim to expire in the sunshine.” He died a year later. I looked at other celebrities who loved the Goons to see if I could tempt one to come along. I recalled that Dusty Springfield was a huge fan and could do all the voices. I called her manager, Vicki Wickham.
She said she thought Dusty would love it. But closer to the event, Vicki called me back to say Dusty had a gig that weekend and couldn't make it.

I had one weak option left. It was a long shot, so I wrote an unctuous letter to Sir Harry Secombe. A week later, the phone rang.

   “Yes …who’s this?” There was a giggle.

   “It’s Harry!” Stupidly, I said “Harry who?” Another giggle followed by “How many bloody Harrys do you know man? Secombe! It’s Neddy!” I was bowled over. The legendary Neddy Seagoon was talking to me. “Blimey,” he said, “just sitting here in my dressing room reading your letter. You’re a miserable bugger, aren’t you?”  I told him I was simply pulling out all the emotional stops trying to appeal to his better nature. The fact that the show was still so popular after four decades around the world, and none of us were getting any younger. He listened, and I asked “Will you come?”

   “Oh … all right then, but only for half an hour. I can’t stand those bloody Goon fans - they’re all barking mad, you know. Send me the details, time, venue, and meet me when I get there. You’d better protect me! Don’t tell them I’m coming.”

On the Saturday afternoon, I was instructed to wait for him outside the hotel. Inside, on the stage the Goons producer Dennis Main-Wilson was being interviewed before a rapt audience. Outside a large silver Mercedes, HS1, pulled up. The passenger door was flung open and I was beckoned inside. I guided the chauffeur around the back of the building. Harry shook my hand and told me I needed to go on a diet. He followed me to the stage door. I entered, blundered onto the stage and interrupted the interview, announcing

   “Ladies and gentlemen! A special guest! Sir Harry Secombe!” The crowd went wild, Harry strode up to the mike and blew a loud raspberry, and spent the next two hours talking to fans and signing autographs. Eventually, I found a quiet room, ordered tea and biscuits and sat with the great Seagoon talking about comedy. It was a wonderful afternoon, and a fine piece of radio in the company of a master clown and true gentleman. The following morning I had breakfast with Dennis Main-Wilson, discussing shows he’d produced such as Hancock’s Half Hour. The weekend ended with a batter pudding hurling contest on the beach. Every time I look at that photograph, it makes me smile.