Scene from a play. (I/Mmature student 4.)

I imagine I’ll regret posting early stabs at stuff up here as things go on. Bugger it. We’ve been asked to write our first wee scene. We were given this start… 

A man enters and finds a letter. He opens the letter, reads it and tears it into little pieces, then leaves.

And then to develop some physical action to follow this and then to produce a scene. I admit this is a bit hack and obvious but hey it’s also about having fun. Any resemblance to real life characters is purely coincidental. Oh and one other thing if you want to see me live I’m hosting Stand Up for Corbyn at The Tyne Theatre Newcastle tonight.

THE CLEANER.

Scene  1.

A man enters and finds a letter. He opens the letter, reads it and tears it into little pieces, then leaves.

A woman then enters. She is cleaning. On the wall are two paintings, one of Winston Churchill and one of Margaret Thatcher. She dusts the Churchill then blows a raspberry and makes a rude gesture towards the Thatcher leaving it uncleaned. She then finds the letter and starts to piece it back together.

Mrs Ribble.  Ee…Someone’s not popular. There must be about two thirds of that shower asking for his resignation. Shower o’ shite the lot of em.

The man re-enters. He finds the cleaner with the letter.

Mr Radisson.   Err…hello. Are you the new cleaner? You really shouldn’t be reading that you know.

Mrs Ribble.     Divin’t worry pet. Your secret’s safe with me. Ah haven’t got that git from the papers lodging in me spare room to cover that friggin’ tax o’ theirs.

Mr Radisson.   You mean Rupert Murdoch?

Mrs Ribble.     No the one that does the gossip column. Piers…something…Anyway he’s gone right doon in my estimation since he was hacking all them phones. How dare they, and Hugh Grant was such a gentleman aboot it all.

Mr Radisson.   Yes but I really must stress the severity of this. If one word gets out…err…Mrs, Ms?

Mrs Ribble.     Ribble. Like rabble but with an ibble as opposed to an abble.

Mr Radisson.   Well Mrs Ribble I really can’t emphasise enough how what you’ve read mustn’t be spoken of outside this room. I have to prepare a statement in response. You do realise this is what we call a political coup? There’s every bit of a chance I might not even be in this office this time next week.

Mrs Ribble.   It must be hard…

Mr Radisson. It was expected. You see I’m trying to take the party back to…

Mrs Ribble.     No I mean on your feelings. It must be hard on your feelings. There’s a lot of people on that list I’m sure you regarded as friends and yet here they are putting the knife in. That must be hard. I reckon a lot of folks don’t really see you as a real person. Just another face off telly. To tell you the truth Mr Radisson I’ve never really been interested in the world of politics but that was because the world of politics was never really interested in me. But then you arrived and I thought you had some nice ideas. I’d like cheaper trains. I have to get the train here every day and it costs a bloody fortune. It’s no wonder they’re called Virgin ‘cos no bugger wants to ride on them. (LAUGHS)

Mr Radisson. (LAUGHS) Oh that really is quite good…

Mrs Ribble.   Ee maybes you could use it at the next Prime Ministers question time.

Mr Radisson. Well… perhaps not. Look, Mrs Ribble that really was the kindest thing I’ve had said to me in months.  I am a person and yes this betrayal is causing all sorts of pains. These ideas of mine aren’t new, if anything they’re quite old fashioned. They’re what this party is supposed to stand for. However much a brave face I put on this I really am not sure this is a fight I can win. Too many of own party have a lot to lose.

Mrs Ribble.     Well I for one hope you take them on and fight this oot. And there’s a lot of folk feel like me aboot you. You’re a proper fresh breath ye are. If it helps there’s a saying we have in my family, I don’t know if it’s become popular, but we say it a lot. It goes, Divin’t let cunts put ye in a mincer.

Mr Radisson.   Err…I think that might be, don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Mrs Ribble.     Trust me pet. I know what I mean. My husband came up with it after he saw that film Frago.  Anyhoo I best get on. I’ve got a pile of overtime on since we did a Brexit. Most of the other cleaners have buggered off back to where they come from. And who can blame them! (LAUGHS)

Mrs Ribble exits leaving Mr Radisson in contemplation.

How I think you can have a Rebublic AND Keep the Royals.

The first single I ever owned as a child was God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols. A song that probably still wins the title of most subversive UK number 1 ever. A period in our history when a bunch of snotty nosed street urchins had the establishment on the run. A period that has never been repeated.

The lyrics to God save the Queen weren’t just considered inflammatory, they were seen as treason. The song shook  up the system so much that when it reached number 1 in the charts it was decided there was to be no number 1 that week. Through one song these young kids managed to induce an almost Orwellian type of censorship. Number one is two, war is peace, truth is lies etc, etc, etc. Eventually in 2001 the BBC issued a statement announcing that the song had in fact reached number 1.

Personally I feel the song and the LP that accompanied it have  been the most influential pieces of art in my, and many other people’s lives.

So am I a republican? Well yes, but it’s not a title I go giving myself out loud. My main problem with the royal family is that they reinforce the class system. As long as they exist they are the constant reminder that there are people who are better than you. In fact their very existence reinforces the class system with such vigour it’s like having Prince Phillips voice on a loop in your head asking, “So who do you sponge off, so who do you sponge off?” A question he did actually put to a bunch of women’s community support workers. Of course the answer is…the same people as you. Your royal twatness.

Saying this I don’t really despise the royals as people themselves. I don’t think you can. And I can feel empathy for them.  At the last Royal wedding as a republican I would have given William and Kate what they really want…their privacy.

There are many arguments for keeping the royals in place. We’re told the Royals are great for tourism. The problem with that is of the top twenty tourist attractions in the UK only one of them is related to the monarchy, Windsor castle at number 17. Ten places ahead of that is Windsor Lego land. So working on that logic if our next monarch was made of Lego they probably would make a fortune from tourism. The real crunch is they might as well be made of Lego. For all that privilege and status that the royals have, all they had to do to earn it was arrive here via the right vagina.

All this leads me to a suggestion. I fully appreciate the Royals are held in high regard by many people in Britain. So how about we reach a compromise? First thing take away is any powers they have as head of state. You may not be aware but the Queen has the power to sack the entire government and have them replaced by the women’s guild knitting society. Yeah but she would never do that…would she? Try telling that to Australians. In 1975 a bunch of rebels came to power in Australia who were making all sorts of unconstitutional noises and like Darth Vader in the name of the Empire the Queens power to sack their entire government was used to get rid of them.  You can read about it here…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Australian_constitutional_crisis

And the second thing we do is take away all state funding. In short…We privatise them. If the argument is they generate a lot of money from tourism then can you but imagine the amount of real lolly we could make from them by putting them into the private sector? Come on you know it makes sense Prime Minister!

And I’m not just talking charging tickets to look at their hats. Let’s get properly commercial here. How popular would an event like The Queens Monster Truck Demolition Derby be? You could fill a stadium at fifty quid a head with an event like that. The grand finale being her royal highness herself comes out in a massive Range Rover Monster truck and drives over  a row of Fiat Uno’s while shouting “Buy British.”

As one we would rise to our feet and finally have a real reason to sing that dreary fucking anthem. In the meantime here’s a much better version…

 

 

 

 

 

Some economic advice.

It’s interesting when you go to the cash machine and one of the options is, would you like an advice slip. The thing is it’s not really advice is it? It’s just the correct information about the precarious state of your financial affairs.

If it was advice it would say something like…ah well…you’re fucked. But it isn’t all your fault.

The reason for your financial distress is our governments have sold themselves out to large corporations.

These corporations are moving cheap labour all around the globe which results in wage stagnation and push down economics.

They have no interest in your financial welfare. They are designed to push for maximum profits at a great cost to human welfare.

These profits are then divided among a small group of share holders and directors while you the worker get pushed further and further into almost slave like conditions.

You have one of two choices in this situation. You can stick your head in the sand until they take the last of your rights from you…or…you can unite, take up arms and tear down your oppressors.

Now that would be advice.

 

OI! Google…pay your frickin taxes.

In 1986 after a four year in-depth and skilled apprenticeship I qualified as a journeyman printer. A good trade. Respected and financially sound due to the training involved. If you told me then that for the next ten years my wages were going to stay the same while the board of directors and shareholders cut of profits were going to rise astronomically. Also as an extra incentive the board and shareholders aren’t going to pay ANY tax and you the employee are going to be expected to cover the loss…well there would have been a national strike of print workers and we would have knocked such ridiculously unfair conditions back to the turn of the century where they belong. But that is exactly what has happened to your average workers wage and conditions over the past decade. With little resistance.

There are many reasons we’ve submitted to such appalling remuneration for our work. I think one of the biggies is lack of housing and everyone being mortgaged up to the hilt. It’s much more difficult to strike with a mortgage over your head. When Thatcher sold off all the housing stock I’m quite certain that was part of the plan.

This week were told Google would pay 130 million in tax in the UK. It turns out that’s about 3% of profits. So as a self employed person I immediately got on the phone to Inland Revenue to see if I could strike the same deal. 11 years  ago when I first became self employed I used to ring the Revenue and after a few rings get an answer, solve the problem I was having and pay some tax. Today I rang the phone for 25 minutes with no answer. You know why? Because there is no bugger to answer it. The government have slashed jobs in that sector. That’s how serious they are about appropriate taxes being collected.

Today at Prime Ministers question time our glorious leader David “piggy” Cameron was confronted on the issue of Google’s tax avoidance. His answer…”It was the same under the last Labour Government.” What sort of moral justification is that?  It’s like smearing the walls of your house in shit because prior to you moving in a psychopath used to live there and that’s what they did.

Bizarrely this week if you type tax avoidance into Google it takes you to articles about Google’s tax avoidance!

And it never seems to end! I was in Starbucks the other day with my laptop buying something on Amazon and it struck me the only person paying any tax in that particular situation was me.

Here’s some interesting figures and estimates from the UKs financial status of the past year.

120 BILLION LOST through tax avoidance and evasion.

16 Billion PROFIT from unclaimed benefits.

1.2 BILLION LOST to benefit fraud.

Out of these three what do you hear most about. That’s right the benefit fraud. That’s where the government are focusing their recourses. That’s why your wages have stayed the same for 10 years, because of benefit scroungers, absolutely nothing to do with a bunch of elites milking the entire country and your household dry . It’s bullshit of the highest order. However, due to media saturation from press barons who are all tax avoiders themselves…this is where the public thinks the blame lies. We’re at a point now where the public for the sake of their and their children’s futures need to wake up and smell the coffee…and make sure whoever is selling you the coffee is paying for the privilege of doing so.

 

 

In remembrance of the departed and the living.

I’ve known several soldiers in my life. I have two uncles that I’m very fond of who served in the 70s. There’s my old work colleague and friend Jim who fought at the Falklands and saw some brutal conflict that can still haunt him now. I also know a comedian who fought in the same war. There’s another Jim I knew after school in the pub who did tours of Northern Ireland and narrowly avoided death on a particular occasion. Then there’s my new comedy pal Gregor who served in Iraq and always reminds me to fasten my seat belt in the back of a taxi because he’s been in vehicles that have been blown through the air.

I’m delighted to say I know all these thoroughly decent guys because they all have two things in common. 1. They’re all from the same working class background as me. 2. They’re all still alive.

Leading up to this remembrance Sunday elements of the mainstream and far right have been highly critical of people of my own political persuasion. They’ve tried to turn this time of remembrance into a propaganda war of selfish and shallow gains. Attacking everyone from Corbyn down to people wearing white poppies for peace. So before I go any further I’ll clear up some views of mine on the armed forces. I’ve always seen troops as workers like me. They come from the same working class backgrounds. Certain areas in the country that have been hammered by consecutive governments that do not care for them can be natural recruiting grounds for the army as it’s the only job available. As a comedian I’ve done gigs for the army.  Just the other week I found myself in front of the Royal Ulster and Scots regiment. Please understand several of my political viewpoints are anathema to some of those guys. But I found some common ground we had a laugh and I was invited to stay back for a drink with them which I duly accepted. I pointed out I didn’t agree with nearly any of the conflicts they’d been involved in and many of them were in agreeance with me on that. This probably wont surprise people that may know someone in the forces.

And that’s the truth of it. Most of these idiots accusing either me or Corbyn or a white poppy wearer of being against our troops don’t actually give one flying fuck about them themselves. They use a dead soldiers name to further their often vile political agendas. From the selling arms to the very people we’re trying to defend ourselves from to inciting hatred of foreigners. And it’s not just in the political arena either. We hear a lot about Help For Heroes these days. But I’m afraid I find that particular organisation just another part of the same hollow propaganda and war machine.

There’s an ex-soldier who sits at the exit of Waverly train station. He’s homeless. He sits there in the winter rain in uniform. He’ll have to use all his training to survive the harsh Scottish weather. He holds a sign telling us he’s ex-military. He never accosts passers-by. He doesn’t ask for money. He just sits there silently, using his trained discipline and self-respect to let the situation speak for itself. Do you know what Help for Heroes will do for him? Nothing. Any money they raise is only ever given to help active service men. Do you know what our photo shopped on poppy wearing Prime Minister will do for him? Nothing. He’s of a political philosophy that says he deserves to be in that position. It’s that soldiers own fault.

I think there’s much truth in the only justified war or resistance to an ideal was World War 2. World War 1 was a bunch of elites having an arms race at the cost of millions of lives. The Falklands was caused by an Argentina despot who’d been helped into power by America to crush socialism in the area. Out own despot Thatcher won an election off the back of that pointless conflict sending working class teenagers to defend our sovereignty while at the same time destroying their communities back home and giving them nothing to come home to. As for Iraq? Half a million civilian men, women, children and pregnant women lie dead under the rubble of Shock and Awe for the price of a barrel of oil. That’s all wars generally are ever about money or strategical power. That’s what my friends and relatives are sent off to fight for by establishment figures who wouldn’t want your average squaddie in the same street as them.

So you can fuck right off with your ideas that my side don’t care for the forces. We care for them a damn sight more than the right. We care enough that we have an ideal that one day they won’t ever have to do what they do for a job. But the right…They’re happy to perpetuate the endless death and suffering. They can go fuck themselves. Remember the living…and fight to keep them that way.

But enough from me. Below is an excerpt from the Owen Jones Book The Establishment (And How They Get Away With It)

On this day we should really look at the words of an ex-soldier…

Joe Glenton was twenty two years old when he joined the British Army. From a working class background in York with few job prospects, he signed up for largely economic reasons. “There are those who buy into the line, the “hero” idea, the idea of the army having a “noble mission”, he says, “but most of it is economics, with soldiers coming from poor communities in the North East, Scotland, poor bits of London, and so on. But the army is sold in a very slick, sophisticated way. If you take a brochure and go into an Army Careers Office, there’s virtually no mention of killing. It’s all “more respect, more mates, more money”, and in quite an abstract, wholesome way, defending your country. He was sent to Afghanistan in 2006 during what he calls the “the big initial re-invasion of the south of Afghanistan” and was one of the first soldiers on the plane.

During his seven months in Afghanistan, Glenton felt his illusions gradually being stripped away. “Over the course of the tour, the rationale we’d been given, helping wee Afghan girls to school, rebuilding infrastructure, was shown just not to be true”, he said. “We’d created an insurgency: it was hubris.” But in part, Glenton blames Britain’s bloody involvement in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on a need to compensate for humiliations suffered by the British Army at the hands of insurgents in the Iraqi city of Basra, which culminated in a pull out in 2007 that even British and US Generals would later term a defeat. “The main reason we were there wasn’t security here in Britain or security there in Afghanistan, “ says Glenton. “It was because of a perception that we’d failed in US eyes.” As far as Glenton was concerned, Helmand was all about the British government proving their worth to the US government after the humiliating failure in Iraq.

It was not until Glenton returned to Britain that his view of the conflict in Afghanistan “crystallized” . On tour he did not have time to think; he had questions, but there was no opportunity to talk about them. “I decided I didn’t want to go back,” he said. “I wasn’t going to sign off, which is like giving notice after leaving a job, but it takes a year to leave the military. But then I had to redeploy, and I told the chain of command that I was not going back. I didn’t even know the process of becoming a conscientious objector, an they denied me the right.” He went AWOL for over two years, and in 2009 was handed a 9 month jail sentence.

F**k Austerity.

PABLO IGLESIAS: “Austerity means that people is expulsed of their homes. Austerity means that the social services don’t work anymore. Austerity means that public schools have not the elements, the means to develop their activity. Austerity means that the countries have not sovereignty anymore, and we became a colony of the financial powers and a colony of Germany. Austerity probably means the end of democracy. I think if we don’t have democratic control of economy, we don’t have democracy. It’s impossible to separate economy and democracy, in my opinion.”

Pablo Iglesias, the head of this new anti-austerity group in Spain called Podemos, which means in English “We can.”

Remember when your high street used to go butchers, independent baker and maybe not a candlestick maker but what was commonly known as the handyman’s, where you could buy candles. But now you look at your high street and it goes charity shop, another charity shop, pay day loan lender, bookies and four Gregs the bakers. Well there are a lot of factors that have caused this but you can bet a weeks worth of foodbank vouchers that austerity has placed a big part in these changes.

To put it simply austerity is class war. It does nothing but make a population suffer. Good old austerity when the billionaires in business tell the millionaires in politics that the rest of us are too greedy.

Austerity almost sounds nice. Like something homely and sensible that your grandparents did during the war (there’s been plenty of them just pick one that suits your age/generation) Austerity is nice and simple like a baked potato and cheese (hold the pickle we’re on an austerity drive here.)

Austerity under recession makes no sense. It just doesn’t work. If we spend the economy gets it back in tax. If we save, or stick money in a tax haven it does nothing. It’s useless.

In the bigger picture of our economic systems the savings we make from the poor are miniscule. And if we keep hammering them then any money we save in shrinking the state will cost us more in crime and malnutrition. Besides this concern about the deficit is a smoke screen. If we went after the unpaid tax in this country we could probably clear it tomorrow.

We’ve had a budget today and it makes for grim viewing if you’re a young person or at the bottom of the social scale. Many of you reading probably think that’s not you…but pause for a second and ask just how easy it could be for you to end up there.

Again this is class war. The so-called welfare state is being eroded. It’s not an economic policy that makes any sense as to end a serious recession. Who runs an economy as a form of punishment? C**ts do…that’s who

So fuck austerity I say. Me and my wife have decided to join the resistance and holiday in Greece this year. We urge you to do the same. Because when this really kicks off they’re going to need all the help they can get…and maybe we’re not too far off being in the same boat as them.

The Crisis with ISIS…or…How we’ve not managed to bomb peace into the middle east.

I’ve got a new show coming to the Edinburgh Festival this year. It’s called Dissent. Here’s a wee segment from it on our wars. This is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s from a comedy show…

Our war on terror is now looking about as effective as our war on drugs. We should probably have a war on Pandas and then they’d be everywhere.

It’s strange how we’ve not yet managed to bomb peace into the Middle East…

Since Ed Miliband failed at the election the Blairites have been back in the news. David Miliband criticised Ed after the defeat.  He said that Labour should build on what the Blair government achieved.  We would David, but we’re running out of countries to invade.

Because the truth is we’ve played a massive part in destabilising the Middle East. I see Tony Blair has now stood down as a Middle East peace envoy. Well that’s a job well done. You can’t fucking move for peace out there. It’s downright tranquil. Is that a tank over there? Err…no… that’s the mobile library.

A lot of middle class kids like to have gap years. Saying that poor people have gap years as well, we call it the dole.

I’m just saying this because I was chatting to a couple of students and they couldn’t think where to go and I said, “Well Syria seems to be the go to place at the moment.”

If this radicalisation of students continues I’m sure the next video they pop up is going to be some middle class student from Edinburgh called Findlay.

“Hullo there Findlay here…or as I’m now called Findlay Mohamed Corstorphine Koran. I’m having a rare wee time on a wee Jihad…I must admit the poolside rules are a bit strict, no running, no undressing but bombings allowed.

But on the bright side the Humus is the best I’ve ever had and I’ve now got 6 wives. Result! Admittedly 2 of them are men but that’s what we extremists call the burka lottery. Och aye the prophet the noo.”

Jihadi John has been all over the news in Britain.  They keep telling us he had no friends, he was a loner, he didn’t mix well.   I don’t know how they expect me to react to that – am I supposed to feel happy for him that he moved to Syria and made some new friends?

There’s also been a lot of discussion about whether the security services were aware that Jihadi John was an extremist.  I’d have thought the name alone would be a bit of a giveaway.

It’s now been suggested British police should all be armed with Tasers to help combat terrorism. Yes because every time I see a bloke with plastic explosive strapped all around him I think. You know what would help this situation….running 50’000 volts through this guy.

I’ve lived for over 20 years of endless war. I worry that this notion of endless war has desensitised a generation to violence….

Remember this incident. This is when Charles Satchi was photographed with his hand at his wife Nigella Lawson’s throat. Now he dismissed this image as, “nothing more than a playful tiff.”

Saatchi

And me have been dismissing their violent attributes like this for centuries. Look at this image of Vlad the Impaler. He described this as a cocktail party that got a bit out of hand…

Vlad impailer

Or what about this. This is the Nazis marching on Poland which Hitler described as A Stag Do that escalated…

poland

Or finally this. Which president Truman described as…just a bit of banter.

Bomb

We’re completely detached to the plight of the middle East. To us they’re just the brown people across the sea….

I went to Egypt. Just as the Arab spring started. Basically I’d booked my holiday, couldn’t get my money back so we had to go. And I was worried. But my wife’s a Geordie. She was unbelievably stoic in the face of things.

We were watching the riots on telly. 4 days into the riots we were supposed to be leaving the next day. My wife turns to me and says, “Have you noticed on the telly. Everybody in Egypt seems to be wearing jackets and long sleeves. I hope it’s going to be warmer where we’re going.”

I was just hoping they weren’t going to be running around with my head on a pole.

But it was actually great we got there and we got upgraded with our hotel. There wasn’t enough tourists to fill certain hotels so we all got shifted into bigger and quite frankly safer hotels.

But British people don’t like change. There was a chap in front of me checking in at the desk. And he says, “I’m not moving hotel I want to speak to someone in charge.”

And the young Egyptian on the desk was brilliant. He just laughed and said, “Listen sir you are missing the point. Nobody is in charge. We’re having a revolution.”

And my wife says to me. “Don’t you get pissed and start banging onto the Egyptians about revolutions.” Because I’ve got typically Scottish romantic ideas about revolutions. But this just ended up putting the idea in my head. By the end of the night I did get pissed. I rounded up 4 bar staff and a toilet attendant. I said, “Come on we’ll paint ourselves blue and take down Israel.”

But the funniest thing that happened….and this will give you insight into what life’s like on a day to day basis for these poor people…

We flew with Thomas Cook and one night there was a hotel about a mile down the road from us, they were Thomas Cook as well and they were having a quiz night. And it was advertised in our hotel. So I said to my holiday rep, “Can we go to the Thomas Cook quiz night.”

And she says, “Yes you can, but half way down the road there’s an armed security checkpoint. Just say your with the Thomas Cook quiz night and they’ll let you through”

What? That gets me unfettered access to the Middle East. Well we could have saved yourself a lot of trouble in Iraq if we’d just adopted those tactics. Just show up on the Iraqi border. “What do you lot want?”

“Nothing, we’re with the Thomas Cook quiz night.”

Really? Well where are going with all that oil….

Err…that’s first prize.