Lucky Lugovoi?

It’s hard not to have some liking for Andrei Lugovoi. The affable — and unflappable – ex KGB agent cuts quite a figure with his perma-tan and pistol-toting antics the news networks so love to repeat. Add to this a bored insouciance – often approaching but just stopping short of belligerence — concerning the poisoning case which made him famous, and you have just the sort of snook the British love to see cocked at authority. A degree of respect somewhere closer to grudging than unconditional is, I feel, surreptitiously paid him by many in this isle. Read more

The danse macabre of a stuck record

I like reading John Pilger. There’s no denying he’s a big name columnist and when he appeared on World Have Your Say last year it was a big thrill. When the New Statesman comes round every week I always check to see if the Pilge is in there and turn to his column. You don’t have to agree with someone’s politics to enjoy a well-written polemic and JP used to be the best. Alas, with this week’s attack on yet another BBC journo (here’s John last year having a go at Jeremy Paxman, Evan Davis and others for going to the bi-annual piss-up that is the BAP) he’s starting to sound like a stuck record. Poor old Justin Webb gets it in the neck for using the term ‘dizzying’ to describe the US election campaigns, this is evidence, according to Pilger, of Justin Webb’s collusion in the vast BushHitlerHalliburton-conspiracy that runs the world. Justin Webb then gets another kicking for suggesting that president Bush runs the world . . . a view espoused by none other than . . . John Pilger.

Cabbie wisdom

I was getting a cab home early one morning and my African driver was talking about the global stock slump, I asked him if Africans would be affected by the billion-dollar losses felt by the likes of Merril Lynch. His response was immediate:

“When you’re not dining, you don’t care if the table is overturned.”


Accentuate the positive

The World Service has a slightly stuffy reputation for being the last bastion of the traditional cut-glass BBC presenter voice of old. There do exist those voices on air and personally I luv ’em and a lot of listeners depend on them and associate them with a sense of authority, although if you listen a lot these days you’ll hear sooner or later some choice accents especially during the news bulletins at the top of each hour.

moyes_hm.jpgYer a bawbag

Mibbe ah isdalglish.jpg

Old habits do die hard I guess. Just two days ago I was asked to do a voiceover for a programme. Upon hearing my (vastly reduced from what it was) Scottish accent my colleague asked if it could be made to sound ‘as English as possible’.

Lip biting is an art form when you’re a Scot in London and I’m an expert at it, but it was tough going into that recording booth and not delivering those two sentences in a style reminiscent of David Moyes having a drunken conversation with Kenny Daglish. The things we do in the line of duty . . .

Format wars

As the big studios and their behemoth partners in Hollywood battle it out to see who triumphs between Blu-ray and HD DVD it’s worth remembering some of the brutal consequences of the BETAMAX v VHS war of the 70s. Read more

More Musical Misery

 . . . for the big labels that is. Hat Tip to Mark Steyn for this excellent Economist article. Here’s the headshot:

IN 2006 EMI, the world’s fourth-biggest recorded-music company, invited some teenagers into its headquarters in London to talk to its top managers about their listening habits. At the end of the session the EMI bosses thanked them for their comments and told them to help themselves to a big pile of CDs sitting on a table. But none of the teens took any of the CDs, even though they were free. “That was the moment we realised the game was completely up,” says a person who was there.


Beehoover’s unique selling point is that they’re a metal band with no lead guitars. That’s right, when it comes to guitars Beehoover (named after witnessing on TV a bee-bearder’s not entirely cruelty-free method of removing insects from his face) permit only the four-string variety.

beehoover.JPGThe Sun Behind the Dustbin
(0% native) Droney doom rock sans guitar

If the purpose of these Stuttgart lads’ musical mission is to prove that with the right amount of distortion and some funky playing you can make a two-piece metal band with no lead guitars sound like a credible act, then they’ve succeeded and commendably so. The sound is fresh and new but alas for this reviewer, a droning fusion of jazz rock and doom metal is just not his bag. Beehoover’s innovation and sheer laziness in band name selection must though, be saluted.

Clive James — still the master

culturalamnesia.jpgI’ve always shied away from posting book recommendations or reviews on my blog. Along with ‘my wine of the moment’, ‘this is what my pets are doing now’ and ‘CD of the week’ I find such information more than a little twee and avoid it when I see it on other sites. Alas, if I was going to succumb it was always going to be to the Aussie master of dry wit. I’ve been reading, listening to and generally enjoying Mr. James since the mid eighties when I read ‘The Crystal Bucket’ as a kid. His latest book, Cultural Amnesia, is a corker and for today’s lazy readers (like myself) it’s easy to dip in and out of consisting as it does of 106 bite-sized chapters on various historical figures from Charlie Chaplin to Margaret Thatcher. Kudos to The Times for getting the man himself of post online film versions of abridged selected chapters. Here’s a taster: “Somewhere under the quiff and eventually the rug. Tony Curtis weighed a line for its rhythm and melody, and said it as if it could be said in one way only, and no uddah.”

If that’s not your bag then tuck in to Scar Tissue. 41fscdpe46l_ss500_.jpgYou don’t have to be a Red Hot Chili Peppers fan to enjoy this and the fact that Anthony Kiedis’ upbringing is gratifyingly exactly as you imagine it to be doesn’t make the revelations any less fascinating.

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