The stuff of nightmares

Now regular readers will be aware that I have a slight phobia about snakes. I damn near fainted watching the movie Snakes on a Plane even though I know that’s just a stupid film using computer generated imagery. But leafing through this morning’s i newspaper, this little article caught my eye…










Now this is the stuff that gets snakes a bad reputation. Why the hell would a snake want to slither through a sewage system and through a loo’s shit-stained u-bend only to sink its fangs into some poor soul’s dangling and defenceless john thomas? I can’t imagine the frigging motivation other than snake-spite for mankind. It’s like every nations’ hatred for English sporting teams. What did we do to deserve it (other than colonise two thirds of the known world)? Does everyone hate the Etruscans, Romans, Ottomans or Austro-Hungarians for doing the same thing thing (only on a smaller scale)? So irrational.

Back to snakes…I probably won’t sleep for a f*cking week now and I’ll never ever travel to Thailand. Arghhh!



You can take the girl out of Newcastle but…

Well it seems to me that call centres and tv advertisers have embraced regional accents almost completely these days. Listening to Sean Bean as the voice of O2 (or is it Or Ter Sean?) and that maddening bloke on the Go Compare ads with his S Wales accent and you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s no longer possible to market anything with good old Received Pronunciation, except perhaps Crabbies ginger beer. So it was with a smile this morning that I read the article in the i newspaper by editor Simon Kelner, gently chiding TV presenter Donna Air for deliberately softening her native Geordie accent for something a little plummier, now that she is going out with the Duchess of Cambridge’s brother and mixing with an altogether posher set. Whey aye pet. Now you may not be too surprised to learn that Simon is a northerner himself, as indeed am I. Having spent over 40 years living down south I am aware that my accent has gently softened a touch in that time, so I’ll resist the temptation to join the chorus mocking poor Donna for betraying her roots and all that nonsense. Anyway I hope you enjoy Simon’s piece… 

Poor Donna Air. The TV presenter (I know this is her job, because I’ve read it: I have obviously never seen her present anything on television) has been widely ridiculed for shedding her Geordie accent in favour of something resembling Received Pronunciation.

You can take the girl out of Newcastle, but heaven help her if she seeks to sound a little less like Jimmy Nail. She is currently stepping out with the Duchess of Cambridge’s brother, and has felt that, in order to fit in with the posh set with whom she’s now socialising, she needed to soften her regional accent. This is not a story of our times: there is a lineage stretching all the way back to Eliza Doolittle, which illustrates how, in this class-ridden country, the way we speak is indicative of breeding, style and even intelligence.

Only last month, the BBC business journalist Stephanie McGovern, who comes from Middlesbrough, said that her strong northern accent is the subject of disparaging comments from viewers. “Despite being a business journalist at the BBC for 10 years,” she said, “I was viewed by some in the organisation as being too common for telly.” She said that she received letters questioning whether she’d been to university, or suggesting she takes elocution lessons.

Even in these enlightened, politically correct times, there are still pockets of prejudice when it comes to accents. The rent-a-quote numpty Katie Hopkins, who was once on The Apprentice, was given plenty of airtime with her assertion that “if you have a northern accent, you sound more stupid”. I have news for you, Ms Hopkins. You couldn’t sound more dumb if you were from the Planet Dumb, watching Dumb and Dumber, while lifting a set of dumb bells. She went on to be more specific, singling out the Liverpool and Newcastle accents as particularly egregious examples of the country’s dialectic diversity. “For some people regional accents are difficult to understand,” she opined. “This is a London-centric country. The London accent is the best reflection of that.”

A ludicrous observation, of course, but even so, you can understand why Ms Air got out her old DVD of My Fair Lady, and decided that “alreet, pet” might not be considered the most appropriate form of greeting with the Middletons. We are all adept at modifying our behaviour to suit our social environment – the late columnist Lynda Lee-Potter said that she lost her northern accent the moment she got off the train at Euston – but it strikes me as bizarre and depressing that we still feel it necessary to disguise our linguistic birthright.

As a northerner myself, I may be sensitive to the accusation that my accent says something about me. But there is another, more positive, way of looking at it. I have just spent a couple of days up north, in the course of which I had to see a car mechanic. He spoke with a broad Wakefield accent. Immediately, I felt I could trust him. He sounded warm, genuine, down-to-earth and honest. Those are the values I pick up when I hear a northern accent. So be careful, Donna, that you don’t lose that in the battle to be accepted in what’s considered polite society.

If you’ve got any thoughts on the impact of accents in today’s world then do please shout!


A boorish, bungling freeloader…

Oh dear it’s not a very flattering description is it, but there’s more. The comments on this particular person were released this week by members of the diplomatic service via WikiLeaks and the Daily Mail. We learn that the person was described as ‘cocky’ and ‘rude’ by a U.S. ambassador as he carried out his duties as Britain’s special trade representative to the Middle East. Colleagues put this behaviour down to an inferiority complex about being mentally challenged – something of a family trait. This may be a slight exaggeration, but his attitude certainly drew attention to the fact that he was invariably out of his depth at meetings.

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Here’s a question for you, especially if you are English; which country/nation/people do you most, well, dislike? Put it another way, which national team would you most enjoy seeing beaten by England in the World Cup final? I’m guessing that the vast majority of us will instinctively say Germany. Am I right?

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get clegg

It looks like a Welsh language interjection but it’s actually an instruction that might have gone out from the Conservative Party HQ to the right wing press yesterday because look at today’s front pages:

I’ve not been able to show the Sun’s front page but safe to say it wasn’t supportive.

Now I guess you could assume that last week’s no-mark Clegg did huge damage  to both of the leading parties’ prospects following the first debate  but especially to the Tories given this massive press blitzkrieg on the morning of debate day 2. About the only thing they didn’t accuse him of was gross moral turpitude with an alsatian dog. I didn’t see tonight’s debate live as C and I went out for dinner but from the highlights and poll results it seems that marginally Cameron did best, just ahead of Clegg. And yet another poll says that Cleggy did as well as Campo. Poor old Gordo was last on all polls. It’s getting hot this election isn’t it? Tony Blair must be kissing the Middle East sky that he isn’t still there as he would walk this televisual challenge by a country mile. Next week’s debate could and should be a real bare fists fight but Brown needs to get his knuckle dusters out methinks to rescue things.

What do you think?


be prepared; be very prepared….

….for some startling news, reported in today’s Independent. The UK Scout movement is, apparently, more popular than ever with total members nearing half a million with over 16,000 youngsters having joined in the last year, the 5th consecutive annual rise in membership.  Even more staggering is the news that some 33,500 youngsters remain on the waiting list to join due to the need to recruit more adult volunteers  even though the number of volunteers is currently higher than the combined workforce of Mc Donald’s (67,000) and the BBC (24,000).

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tina turner

Regular readers may remember some months ago that I did a guest posting on the Lost Girl’s blogsite. I was just pondering what people who’ve been in the public eye do all day when they retire – especially performers who, I assume, must crave something to replace the adrenalin rush. They must find it difficult to fill the void. I was particularly interested in Tina the burner Turner who, was quite simply the best (see what I did there?) female performer I’d ever seen in concert. By a mile. If you’ve never seen her cover Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love, go get a download or DVD and watch her shake her stuff. In fact I’ll ask my daughter to dig it out for me, that’ll cheer me up! I read that she had retired from the business some time ago, or so I thought…..

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steve harley; cock ‘n er..bull

I’d kind of forgotten about old Steve Harley to be honest. I’d occasionally caught his evening radio 2 show ‘Sounds of the 70’s’ but I found it a bit too self-indulgent – all that me and Charlie Watts were best mates stuff, grates very easily. Tell us something fascinating or even mildly interesting about the characters you’d met or don’t bother and just play the music is my attitude. I’d even caught him being a tipster on some radio show – he’s a big fan of the horses by all accounts. So why this posting? Well the Independent did a 5 minute interview with him this morning – he gets a free plug out of it for his and Cockney Rebel’s upcoming UK tour. It was very short but knee deep in bullsh*t. Continue reading