In praise of Ken Clarke – am I in luuuurrrve?

Oh dear.

I was considering the latest Liberal Democrat Voice survey….as you do.

“What Conservative MPs do I admire?” – it asked.

Well probably none, but I think I luuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrrvvvvveeeeeeeeeee Ken Clarke.

…Sorry to bring this unsavoury fact out into public, but consider the evidence.

There was this morning’s glorious performance on Today when he said the idea of an EU membership referendum was “totally irrelevant” and “silly”.

But, to cap it all, there was this wonderful, superb Guardian front page picture of him enjoying a “day off” at Trent Bridge, an emporirum at which I, myself, have enjoyed hearing the sounds of leather on willow accompanied by the sound of Blofers and Aggers explaining what “Fly slip” is.

Ken Clarke, I salute you!

Great News! Michael Gove wins the OBN award!

The Order of the Brown Nose, that is.

And this is for his marvellous announcement, coming live via satellite from Arslikhan:

(Rupert Murdoch) is one of the most impressive and significant figures of the last 50 years

…and, for afters, he says of Paul Dacre:

I respect him as one of the most impressive editors of our age

The most gorgeous piece of nostalgic escapism

This is a wonderful film, on YouTube courtesy of Film Australia.

It’s a very skilful archive mash-up of film clips from the 1940s to the 1970s which show summer in Australia. Backed by the most wonderful soundtrack it shows an escapist sun-drenched paradise where everyone is drop-dead gorgeous, the surf is always “up”, and life is marred only by having to eat Christmas dinner on the beach in 90 degree heat and by the odd bush fire which everyone jolly well joins in to extinguish.

This is what us Poms paid ten quid for. And just think, we thought we were punishing the ancestors of some of these folks… (JOKE!)

And there is this little gem in a school room:

Teacher: I know it’s hard to concentrate in this heat children but we must try.

Wayne: Could we go for a swim, sir?

Teacher: You know the rule Wayne, nobody is let off school until the temperature is a hundred and ten. What is it now?

Wayne (disappointed – looking at thermometer): A hundred and eight, sir.

Teacher: Now, as I was saying…

(And there is, I believe, every possibility that the Wayne in the black and white schoolroom wanting to go swimming is the same Wayne who, in colour, later gets shoved into the swimming pool by the girl who says “Look Wayne, you’re sex mad!”)

The film is called “Another Sunny Day” and is the work of archivist Richard Carter:

My best and worst Beatles songs

I have realised that no one really agrees on what the worst Beatles song is.

I have not yet been able to study the whole of Andrew Hickey’s The Beatles in Mono, but so far I see he is not a fan of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” (which I have always loved) and “Long and Winding Road” (Ditto).

Googling “Worst Beatles Songs” brings up a wide variety of choices:

Ugo says “Yellow Submarine” (a childhood favourite of mine and one of the few British Number Ones featuring a brass band (“She’s a lady” by Peter Skellern also did).

LA Weekly blogs reckons “Long and Winding Road”.

NME journalists reckon “Long and Winding road”, “Taxman”, “Octopus’ Garden”, “Lady Madonna”, “While my guitar gently weeps” and “Revolution #9”.

And so the list goes on. “Honey Pie” doesn’t do very well. This blog even reckons “Hey Jude” is their worst song! Heresy!

So I think this subject is fascinating because the Beatles made such a wealth of fantastic records over a huge variety of musical genres. No one can really agree on their worst record because they were so good. It boils down to a question of taste.

Andrew Hickey rates “Being for the benefit of Mr Kite” highly, particularly the lyrics. Well I am sorry, but there is something about this song which drives me round the twist. I think it’s the sterile, annoyingly twangy John Lennon vocal which even (in this case) beats Ringo Starr’s voice for annoyingness. The whole piece makes me want to push red hot needles into my eyeballs.

Yes, “Being for the benefit of Mr Kite” is my least favourite Beatles song. I won’t say “worst” because the Beatles are so good the word “worst” isn’t right for them, not in terms of records they deliberately released before they broke up, that is.

And my favourite? It varies from time to time. “Hey Jude” and “A Day in the life” are normally up there in my mind. I also have a soft spot for the second side of “Abbey Road”, particularly “Golden Slumbers” and “The End”. But at the moment, after being re-introduced to its charms by Andrew Hickey, my favourite is “Please please me”.

That laugh out loud Private Eye moment in public (see what I did there?)

I have a terrible habit. I buy Private Eye on a Saturday and then go and read it in a pub or cafe.

I can’t help it, but sooner or later I read a bit that makes me laugh out loud. Then people look round as if I am certifiable, which is possible.

Today it happened in a very nice cafe in Oxford. I was holding out quite well and got as far Page 7 without a titter.

Then I read a story about Dereck Chisora and David Hayes and the aftermath of their altercation in Munich. Modifying a regular monicker of theirs, PE writes:

It’s hard to think who’s come out of it worse – Dereck Chisora or David Haye,” wrote the Sun’s chief sportswiter Steve Howard in February, when the two British boxers were investigated by Kriminalinspektor von Knacker….

That did it. “Kriminalinspektor von Knacker”…. LOL

Part of me died today…

Donna Summer RIP. A legend passes.

Pourquoi such praise? – someone might ask, if they were reading this.

Well, my mind goes back to the summer of 1977. A long time ago. To give you an idea of how long ago it was, I actually had hair in those days. Yes. Actual hair – lots of it.

I spent the summer at Butlin’s Minehead. I could tell quite a few stories from that time. I was 18 years old. My fellow room mate was a 30 year-old Scouse taxi driver. I was in the lower bunk. He was in the upper bunk. One night he brought his girlfriend back. After reassuring her with “Of course he’s asleep”, they then proceeded to make mad passionate love in a variety of positions which I could only speculate about from the lower bunk. This was punctuated by said Scouse taxi driver getting down at half time to pee in the hand basin before resuming operations.

I digress.

Every night after a hard day staffing the massive washing-up machines for the huge aircraft-hangar-life canteen, I would head to the disco where we danced to the latest tunes, occasionally disturbed by the music cutting to:


Anyway, the song which got us all really going was Donna Summer’s “I feel love” – the hit of that summer. Indeed, I remember Tony Blackburn (pass the spittoon) playing it at the Minehead Radio One Roadshow.

I met a very nice blonde girl from Coventry at the disco. I remember a very prolonged, gorgeous snog with her just outside her chalet. Happy days!

Which all goes to demonstrate that “I feel love” is part of me, and a little part of me expired today with Donna Summer.

When Simon Mayo played “I feel love” on Radio 2 this evening, I put it up at full volume and the goose pimples still burst out 35 years after it first got us all dancing in Butlin’s Minehead.