Go Sober- Day One

October 1, 2013

It’s Day One of Go Sober. Go Sober, not Stoptober or any other pretenders: Go Sober! For Macmillan Cancer Support.

I haven’t had a drink since last night, 11.55pm, when I swiftly knocked back a Stone’s Ginger Wine. And ice. Classy like. As an aperitif I had five pints of Amstel. At choir. Normally I only have three, but drastic times call for drastic measures. And you need to have at least three pints before tackling tenor for All That Jazz.

Now look! If I’m nowty it’s because I haven’t had a drink today. Ok? Break me some slack (whatever the hell that means).

I’m livid with Fiona Sturges. She’s written a piece in The Independent today. You can read it here. She’s got a bloody nerve! She says “I want more effort than a moustache before I pay up”.

I did Movember last year. (Shouting, but not doing the upper case thing, just going for polite italics )“Do you know, Fiona, just how hard it is to grow a moustache?”

Let me tell you! It’s quite hard.

It’s easy if you have the follicles; like, say, Magnum. My moustache looked like piss-coloured candy floss.

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can you see it?

Anyway, let’s leave Movember and concentrate on Go Sober. And Fiona.

She wants more effort. She thinks those giving up smoking (in my case, drinking) aren’t doing enough to deserve sponsorship, that they may even be doing it for their own (health) benefit.

“Fiona (I want to shout again)! Not drinking will, possibly, KILL me!”

Here’s some more from Fiona:

In recent years, however, charitable fundraising has become a curiously self-centred affair, in which the focus is frequently more on the fundraiser than those for whom they are raising the funds. The rise of online platforms such as JustGiving have made it easy – too easy, perhaps – for us to work loudly through our  mid-life crises.

You don’t need to go door to door rattling a tin and making a case for a donation. Now you just need a Facebook profile, some willing follicles and, hey presto, you are officially a Good Person.

Easy? Self-centred?… (Oh, ok, you can have that one: of course I’m self-centred, I’ve got a blog.)

Mid-life crisis? Jesus, I’ve had a WHOLE life crisis!

Officially a Good Person? I am officially a Sober Person and that has the power to break me bad!

Anyone can run a Marathon. Anyone can swim the Thames. I’d like to see Walliams lay off the booze for a month! I’d like to see Izzard grow a moustache… no, forget that, he has hasn’t he. I’d like to see Izzard grow a rubbishy moustache like mine!

And Fiona says:

I’m all for a good cause, but if it’s sponsorship you’re after, you’ll have to put some effort in first.

Now I’m furious. I’m upper case and bold: I HAVE BEEN SOBER FOR 16 HOURS FIONA! GIVE ME YOUR FUCKING MONEY!

The polite part:

You can sponsor me, or my wife, or both of us here, here, or here. Thank you.

(Oh, and if The Independent wants to sponsor me £10,000 I will happily wear an orange wig and lederhosen for the month.)

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Big Green Smile

November 30, 2012

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moustache

It’s time to say goodbye to November, goodbye to Movember, and also goodbye to Big Green Smile.

I’ve been writing posts for Big Green Smile for nearly two years now. My speciality? Energy saving, water saving and green cleaning products news.When I started I didn’t know my ‘Big Six’ from my Ecover. Now, I know all about Ecover and Method (and the recent Ecover/Method merger). I’ve become familiar with Bio-D,Alma Win, Faith in Nature, and Earth Friendly Products (take a look at The Earthy Report; a great green blog by the founder of EFP).

I now know that none of us need to stay signed to the greedy ‘Big Six’ energy companies. I’ve urged Big Green Smile readers to swap providers; to go to one of the ones I call the ‘Little Six’; companies such as Ecotricity, Ebico, and Ovo Energy. And have I had the energy to do that myself? Not as yet. And that is both a shame, and shameful.

I’m tying this in with the end of November/Movember because I used my last BGS post to say a cryptic farewell to the site. I jumped from energy saving/water saving/green cleaning news to men’s grooming news, writing about green shaving and saying goodbye (to moustaches, to the month, to the job).

Thank you Big Green Smile, and thank you Sarah and Jenny for teaching me about CMS, hyperlinks, and all that stuff that I know how to do but don’t necessarily understand.

And if anyone reading this works for any of the companies mentioned and wants to give me a job writing for their blog, please do get in touch. Something tells me I won’t be hearing from the ‘Big Six’.

You can find all my Big Green Smile posts here, and you can sponsor me for Movember here.

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take less

December 7, 2011

It’s a shame, isn’t it, that we may lose Yinka Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle to a Korean millionaire. It’s been on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square since May 2010. But in January 2012, like a New Year’s Sail, everything must go.

Where though?

An article in the guardian by Maev Kennedy sets out the dilemma. The unnamed Korean millionaire wants it as a garden ornament (so we’re told – damn those unnamed uncultured foreign millionaires and their fancy private garden desires!) But, there is the chance of saving it and moving it down the Thames to a new home at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Perfect, no?

All we have to do is buy it.

A charity has been set up to do just that. The mystery Korean was willing to pay twice the full price (£650,000), but it’s on offer to us, the public, at a cut price. We can buy it for £362,500. And here’s how; you send a text message and donate a fiver. All we need is 70,000 people to do it and the biggest ever ship in a bottle in the world is ours!

But I’m troubled by something I can’t find an answer too. Who are we buying it from? According to the Greater London Authority website “Yinka Shonibare’s Ship in a Bottle has been commissioned by the Mayor of London and supported by Arts Council England and The Henry Moore Foundation with sponsorship from Guaranty Trust Bank.”  So some money been’s moved around somewhere in the past, and it seems only right that Yinka (and his troupe of workers) was paid at the time for his work. Wasn’t he? So who owns it now?

the guardian article implies it is the artist we are buying the work off. Shonibare is quoted as saying: “This is a bargain price, a huge discount. I did have interest from a very wealthy South Korean, who would have put it in his garden – but I thought I would wait for a better offer.”

The article goes on to state that the better offer is “the chance of keeping it in the public domain, after the Maritime Museum expressed an interest in acquiring it permanently”.

This is clearly magnanimous of Yinka. He could make twice this amount, but he is prepared to sell it at half price just to keep it in this country. That’s good.

But how about this for an alternative? Take less.

Oh, I know, I’m not understanding something.

This work says many things to many people. I’m not going to get into that, I’m no art critic. But I will pinch this bit from the artfund’s site, which enables us to understand part of the artwork’s appeal:

Its richly patterned textiles – used for the sails – are of course a departure from the original. These were inspired by Indonesian batik, mass-produced by Dutch traders and sold in West Africa. Today these designs are associated with African dress and identity. In such ways, the piece celebrates the cultural richness and ethnic diversity of the United Kingdom, and also initiates conversations about this country’s past as a colonial power.

And that’s one of the things I love about art; it does all that, and yet still qualifies as the world’s biggest ship in a bottle!

Let’s keep it.

But Yinka, take less.

You’re an artist. Not a banker, not a Premiership footballer, not an actor or a chat show host. You’re not a member of the Royal Family.

Take less.

Ok, I’m being unreasonable. I clearly do not know how the art world works. Maybe you weren’t paid first time around. Maybe your team, who built the ship, put it in the bottle… the Italians who made the bottle… the people who came up with the air conditioning to make sure the bottle doesn’t look like my bedroom window on a frosty morning… maybe they are all waiting on payment.

The thing is made, eventually sold, we all get paid? Is that the deal?

If not, take less.

Oh, I know… what am I on about? Why should you? But go on, take less.

Would £50,000 cover things?

If you’re short of money (and God knows, we all are… at my current rate it would take me well over twenty years to earn your asking price – and hopefully, before then, I’d be retired or dead), but, if you are short of money… Well heck! Your an MBE! We (the nation) would take care of you.

Give it to us.

Go on, give it to the Maritime Museum.

It’s going to cost a fair amount in upkeep, so go on, be kind. Give it away.

You’re an artist! It’s your calling to not make money! It’s your calling to survive in a mildewed garret, absinthed out of your mind, serving a greater good. Oh, I’m being romantic now; those were the old days.

But go on, take less.

My monkey shame

June 29, 2009

Chump-and-the-chimp

I’d forgotten about this. Jacko wasn’t the only one wanting monkey companionship.

Ok, so it’s an old prop from a sketch we did in 1997. (Made by the BBC by the way Daily Mirror, so please don’t be annoyed with me.) Of course it was a joke, but as Arnie said “no smoke without fire”. In other words, I did it with a monkey.

That’s Stephen Fry being interviewed by Newsnight. And when he says “You have, Course you have” he looks down the lens of the camera. At you. You. All of us. Watch the bow tied nutter here.

For another point of view, from one of the “venal and disgusting crowd of people”, try this piece by Brian Reade in the Mirror.

Time for a fight!

When I was a racist

February 6, 2009

blackjack

Sorry seems to be the hardest word for Carol Thatcher. It’s a sad, sad situation.

The daughter of one of our ex-prime ministers refers to someone as a golliwog and when people express shock and revulsion she fails to be moved. Carol Thatcher will not apologise because in her eyes she has nothing to apologise for. She has done nothing wrong.

When I was a child, at school, in the 70’s, I fell out with a friend in gym class and called him a nigger. I would have been 11 or 12.  I would have picked the word up from somewhere, most likely a sitcom on TV. I understood that it was not a nice thing to call my friend, and I was afraid as I said it, knowing I was breaking a taboo, but not really knowing why. My understanding of the word and its implications would have been slight. It was the first time I’d ever said it (and, I think, the last). I was punished for using the word. I was slapped across my arse by Dr. Dunlop (a trainer our P.E. teacher would whack us with). Coming from a family where I was never hit, this came as something of a shock. Still, at least I understood that I shouldn’t have called my friend that. Why he got whacked as well, I’m not so sure.

As I’ve grown I’ve tried to understand the world I live in. If I offend someone I  try to understand why. I talk, I listen. And when it is right to do so, I apologise.

What world has Carol Thatcher grown up in? Or has she not grown up?

We live in a changing world. Dr. Dunlop’s been retired and teachers whacking kids across their arses is understandably frowned upon. But occasionally, for the children of politicians and royalty, we should make exceptions.

Vintage movie stars

January 31, 2009

groucho

Here’s a picture of me as Groucho Marx. I’d just moved down to London in 1986 and this was one of the first jobs I got, demonstrating a game called Quotations at some toy fair at Earls Court. Sadly, Groucho Marx doesn’t make it into the Queens of Vintage.com poll I have just written a piece for; Which vintage movie star gets your Valentine’s vote? You can read my ramblings on Steve McQueen, Cary Grant, Patrick Swayze, George Clooney, and Charlie Chaplin (! Why Charlie and not Groucho?) here. Oh, and don’t forget to vote.

When I worked at the Toy Fair I was jealous of my friends who were promoting another new toy; Battle Beasts. I loved them. The Battle Beasts that is. Well, and my friends. Battle Beasts Battle Beasts, they battle for fun!

I never got to battle for fun, but then my friends never got to meet Peter Fielding and Gavin Wellman. Peter and Gavin, Peter and Gavin, the’re the Divisional Sales Manager and Marketing Director for Hasbo/Bradley! Hmmm, doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

Queens of Vintage

January 20, 2009

old-photo2No, not me!

This is me just a few years back. Then, I looked like someone from the 40’s. Now, I look like someone in my 40’s. I’ve used this photograph, not just to exercise my vanity (hey, what’s wrong with trying to enjoy a time when I had hair?), but also to help promote a little bit of writing I’ve done for Queens of Vintage. This is another great site created by my friend Sarah, the genius behind greenmystyle.com. Her Empire is growing, and if I keep using words like genius (oh, and did I point out that she’s lovely too), then she’ll have no option but to give me some proper work when she becomes a big media mogul.

So, take a look at my little article all about records. You know, LP’s, 45’s, EP’s. Not those Guinness type of records where someone sits in a bath of bees for hours. Just how do they keep those bees in there? (Voice in my head… stop it, you know they’re beans.) Yeah, well, bees’d be funnier.

coach

Christmas time, misteltoe and wine, children singing Christian rhyme
Unless they happen to be the children of Muslims, or Jews, or Rastafarians, or some bizarre syncretic sect… or atheists, even nihilists (and they’re scary because they believe in NOTHING!)

Ok, it doesn’t scan like Cliff’s effort, but you can’t have everything.

I’m off to California next week to be with my family over the Christmas period. Not that it really exists over there. We have Happy Holidays. And there is no Boxing Day. Just everything back to normal.

I didn’t think I’d get there. I have no money. But I do have credit cards. Credit Crunch? Ha! I’ve got at least 6 months of interest free something or other before I come crashing down. And last night I foolishly went on one of the slot machines at my pool club, JFK’s. Tony, our team captain, nickname The Sniper… because he used to be an assassin for hire… sorry, because his aim is so true… had just spent a few quid on the machine. I said I was going to get all of his money. I put in about £5 and hit a jackpot of sorts. I don’t know how these machines work, but suddenly it flashed like mad, wheels whirred, over and over, and after about five minutes of flashing, buzzing, spinning, shaking, the box spat out £65 in pound coins. Drinks all round and the rest, today, has gone on travel insurance. And the team won too! 8-4 against Nolans. Happy Christmas everyone.

I’m staying over on the West coast for nearly a month. Why not? I have no work to come back to. I might try and get a job in the local Starbucks. Failing that I’ll go for something in the Obama administration. I could be in charge of… pens? Or maybe I could be a dog finder for his kids. Or dog walker. Or pool tutor. Or Secret Service bodyguard. I’ll keep you up to date with my progression through the corridors of power here on this blog. Hey, just realised. I’m in California. I could get a job working with Arnie. Or I could understudy Jack Black as Jesus in the Prop 8 musical. There’s got to be something I can do. Oh yes, got it, help my sister take my niece and nephew to school each day. Phew! For a moment there I thought I was useless.

If any media moguls are reading this and they want me to write anything whilst I’m out there, or make a film, romping around America like Stephen Fry (but in a different class) please let me know. You can contact me here or through my agent, Debi Allen at RDF Management.

moguls1I’ve avoided the use of a pic of Robert De Niro, or Art Linson, or Bruce Willis with a beard, or a bear, for fear of being sued by Hollywood Moguls. So here’s a pic of me and Trev posing as media bigwigs from the 20th Century.

But to the point. I’ve just finished What Just Happened? by Art Linson. The book, not the film. I’ve not seen the film, but I’ve read about it. And I’m left bewildered. What just happened to What Just Happened?

The book is a slight but a fun read, if you like knowing just what happened during the making of a handful of films over the last few years. Take this snippet of dialogue between De Niro and Linson, as Linson tries to persuade De Niro to take one of the lead roles in The Edge, a David Mamet-scripted wilderness thriller (Moguls Wood?) which sees our hero grapple with an irritated grizzly bear;

The bear worries me.

The bear?!… …what part of the bear?

You know, fighting with a fake bear. Might not work.

We’re gonna use a real bear for some of the time.

A real bear is interesting.

Well, then we’re gonna use a real bear a lot.

A beat.

The bear… the bear still concerns me.

Imagine De Niro saying this, and it becomes priceless De Niro. (in the end, Anthony Hopkins fought the bear).

But if De Niro is playing Linson in the film, under another name, then who plays De Niro? It seems the film has decided to use fake films instead. In The Edge Alec Baldwin turned up for filming with a ridiculous beard. Eventually they persuaded him to shave it off. He’s a method actor you see, with a double chin.

In the fake film, Bruce Willis has to be persuaded to shave off a beard. and it seems the bear has been replaced by a dog!

Art Linson’s book details the troubled production histories of The Edge, Great Expectations… De Niro again…

The convict’s gonna be a great part.

It doesn’t have a bear in it, does it?

No bear.

I might get interested.

… and Fight Club. Guess what? The suits didn’t like it. Now there’s a surprise.

But why is none of this in the film? (Note. Reminder. I haven’t seen the film… yet. But from everything I’ve read it’s coming from a completely different book.)

We’re missing a treat here. De Niro arguing over the bear. Baldwin outshouting his famous speech from Glengarry Glenn Ross. De Niro getting interested at wrestling a real live bear… you growlin’ at me?

But no. they’ve thrown the book away and made it all up. Surely, surely, even Art must be shaking his head and truly asking himself what just happened?

Note to moguls; I don’t know what the rules are here. Please don’t sue me for quoting from the book. I like the book. And I have no money.

if you like reading books that dish the dirt on Hollywood forget Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and go straight for High Concept by Charles Fleming and Hollywood Animal by Joe Eszterhas; two of the most sordid books ever written and both great fun.