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RIP Sir Diego Maradona – your only crime was not to be born English

1986 World Cup - Quarter Final - Argentina v England - Mexico City - 22 Jun 1986. Diego Maradona scoring the 'Hand of God' goal 22 Jun 1986

Diego Maradona (30 October 1960 – 25 November 2020) was the greatest footballer of all time. He was a true national hero. To mark his death, Argentina has declared three days of mourning. Had he been English, we’d have made it a decade long lament. No, make that 50 years of wailing and gnashing our teeth, the ululating reflecting the many decades since England won the World Cup in 1966.

Maradona was possessed of a sublime blend of rough desire and divine talent, qualities no more in evidence than in Argentina’s match with England in the quarter-final of the Mexico ’86 World Cup. After the “Hand of God” goal, in which he clearly punched the ball into the English net, Maradona scored one of the best goals of all time, slicing and burrowing through the England team at the Azteca stadium to take the game 2-1. The then England manager Bobby Robson called that second goal a “bloody miracle”.

In Argentina, they like the first one best.

Around four years earlier, the United Kingdom and Argentina had fought in The Falklands Conflict, a 10-week undeclared war over two British dependent territories in the south Atlantic. The fighting began on 2 April, when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands, followed by the invasion of South Georgia the next day. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with an Argentine surrender on 14 June, returning the islands to British control.

“In the pre-match interview we had all said that football and politics shouldn’t be confused, but that was a lie. We did nothing but think about that. Bollocks was it just another match!” Maradona wrote in his autobiography. Of the second goal he noted: “I wanted to put the whole sequence in stills, blown up really big, above the headboard of my bed”. And of the first: “I got a lot of pleasure from the other goal as well. Sometimes I think I almost enjoyed that one more. They both had their own charm.”

Two goals. Two fingers. Up yours Inglaterra!

Had he been English saluting the Germans, say, Maradona would have been knighted, feted and hailed a living legend. Maradona, the English national treasure who in media speak had a ‘dark side’, faced ‘his inner demons’ and ‘struggled with addiction’, but who was the best thing ever, the living embodiment of the English bulldog attitude and a ‘great ambassador’ for the spot he loved. He was our hero.

But Argentina had him. And England can only dream.

diego maradona
Diego Maradona with his parents, mother Dalma Salvadora Franco and father Diego Maradona Senior – 1980
diego maradona
Diego Armando Maradona in 2006
diego maradona
Diego Maradona – 1980
1986 World Cup – Quarter Final – Argentina v England – Mexico City – 22 Jun 1986. Diego Maradona scoring the ‘Hand of God’ goal VARIOUS
Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona smokes a Cohiba cigar as he rides a sail boat in waters off Havana April 8. Maradona has been in Cuba since January on a rehabilitation program to try to kick the cocaine habit that almost cost him his life at the beginning of the year. AW/JP
DIEGO MARADONA WITH WIFE CLAUDIA VILLAFANE AND DAUGHTERS GIANINA AND DALMA NEREA DIEGO MARADONA AND FAMILY, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – 1994
DIEGO MARADONA DIEGO MARADONA CELEBRATING HIS BIRTHDAY IN SEVILLE, SPAIN – 1992
DIEGO MARADONA WITH HIS WIFE CLAUDIA AND HIS DAUGHTER DALMAH DIEGO MARADONA WITH HIS WIFE CLAUDIA AND HIS DAUGHTER DALMAH
Diego Maradona and Claudia Villafane Marriage of Diego Maradona and Claudia Villafane in Buenos Aires, Argentina – 1989
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Vittorio La Verde/Agf/Shutterstock (8600031a) Maradona arriving at San Paolo Stadium after signing for Napoli Maradona at San Paolo stadium, Napoli, Italy – 05 Jul 1984
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Shutterstock (77898c) Diego Maradona with his parents, mother Dalma Salvadora Franco and father Diego Maradona Senior DIEGO MARADONA 1980
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Shutterstock (77898b) DIEGO MARADONA DIEGO MARADONA 1980
MB2A55 FIFA World Cup – Mexico 1986 22.6.1986, Estadio Azteca, Mexico, D.F. Quarter-final Argentina v England. Diego Maradona celebrates after scoring the greatest goal the World Cup has ever seen, 2-0 against England. English fans in the stand don’t seem to agree.
HCGTX9 MARADONA, Diego Armando Maradona (right), 2006. ©Exception Wild Bunch/Courtesy Everett Collection

Posted: 26th, November 2020 | In: News, Sports | Comment


The British Library has apologised to the widow of Ted Hughes and withdrawn his name from a dossier of slavery profiteers

ted hughes slavery

The British Library has apologised to the widow of late poet laureate Ted Hughes and withdrawn his name from a dossier of items with slavery links.”We regret profoundly the distress that this has caused, “says the library. “In particular we wish to apologise to Mrs Carol Hughes, widow of the late Poet Laureate”.

British Library chiefs

The British Library has been looking to cement its role as an “actively anti-racist organisation”. It has been making a list of items and people in its collection with alleged links to imperialism and slavery. Humble Hughes made the list because an ancestor born in 1592 benefitted from colonialism. He was Nicholas Ferrar, whose family was “deeply involved” with the London Virginia Company, set up to colonise North America, according to the library. He died childless.


Posted: 24th, November 2020 | In: News | Comment


The Gender Pay Gash

In the Times, talk turns to the gender pay gash, sorry, gap:

If you thought the days of the unreconstructed male needing to rule the financial roost in a marriage were long gone, it may be time to think again.

New research has found that husbands feel a thrill if a pay rise widens the gap between their earnings and those of their lower-paid wives — but women get no such kick if the roles are reversed.

The stereotype of the male breadwinner may still be “bigger than we give credit for”, said Vanessa Gash, a sociologist who co-authored the study of views of income by gender.

Spotter: The Times

Posted: 23rd, November 2020 | In: Broadsheets, Money, News | Comment


Government declares Christmas Truce in War with Covid-19 – virus considering position

“Christmas is saved,” says the Express. It’s “Bubbles with the baubles” trills the Metro – up to four households may be allowed to mix during the festive season. “Ho Ho Homes to Mix,” says the Sun. “Xmas gets go-ahead” is the Daily Mirror‘s lead. The Daily Mail wonders, “Who’ll be in your festive bubble?” The Government has declared a Christmas truce in the war with Covid-19.

As Britishers pop their heads over the parapets, taking part in funerals, prisoner swaps (you mean visiting granny in the care home? – ed), carol-singing and a football match, there is no guarantee that Covid-19 will play along.

As such, fraternising with the enemy should be avoided until a spokesman for Covid-19 – Dominic Cummings, Ivanka Trump or the bloke from Blue Peter who usually does panto but is available at a moment’s notice for other paid work? – tells us otherwise.

Helping to make sense of it all is our resident expert, Mr A. Turkey, who confides: “Whatever they dish up at such a wonderful time of the year, I’m in!”

Lead image: British and Germ(ans)s take a break from the mass killings to get their hair cut and talk about the war.

Posted: 23rd, November 2020 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


You scumbags, you faggots: BBC censors The Pogues Fairytale of New York

‘You scumbag, you maggot /

You cheap lousy faggot /

Happy Christmas your arse /

I pray God it’s our last.’

Prudes at the achingly stiff BBC Radio 1 have censored The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York. Words deemed too strong for the Beeb’s youth audience have been purged. This is of course marvellous news for The Pogues because there is no surer way to blunt the once edgy and hip than to have it endorsed by the BBC. Ban it. And ban it good. The kids will seek it out.

Listeners to Radio 1 will not hear Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan sing “faggot” and “slut”. Instead it’s “haggard’ and “slut” gets beeped out. Oddly, BBC Radio 2 will air the full version and in a sop to further management cowardice 6 Music will allow its DJs to choose the version they wish to play. So if you want to hear the uncensored version, kids, tune into the station once reserved for middle-aged roadkill.

The BBC says: “We know the song is considered a Christmas classic and we will continue to play it this year, with our radio stations choosing the version of the song most relevant for their audience.”

So there it is. The young must be protected from hearing bad words and so remain on the ‘right side of history’. Meanwhile… here’s on Radio 1 is a song about Cardi B’s vagina:

Posted: 19th, November 2020 | In: Music, News | Comment


Labour looked electable for 19 days – then they let Jeremy Corbyn back in

Two newspaper, both broadsheets, lead with news that Jeremy Corbyn has been reinstated to the Labour Party. Were it not for the news media looking for an easy story – Syria is just one horror consigned to the pile marked ‘too expensive and we might catch Covid-19 reporting on mass murder, sex slave markers and Islamist terror’ – you might not have noticed the old stager being excited from the back benches under a yellow cloud. But now he’s back after 19 days in the wilderness (ok, a North London vegetable patch). And you might have missed that too.

The Guardian makes it all about Corbyn, which will surely please its editors and columnists who campaigned for him to be PM and now want to present themselves as something other than enablers and not-all-the-bothered about Jew hatred in Labour’s ranks. The Telegraph makes it about the current Labour leader, Keir Starmer, which is political useful, of course, for the Tory Party’s in-house journal.

More telling perhaps is to head to social media and hear what people who might be Labour voters and members think:

@twlldun on Twitter provide some images. Whether these people support Labour or even if they are actual suers is not clear. This is what we see:

Making Labour electable one day at a time…

Starmer has issued a statement:

Despite a panel of Labour’s ruling body ending the suspension on Tuesday, Sir Keir has taken the decision to not reinstate the party whip in the Commons.

In a statement, the new leader said: “I have made it my mission to root out anti-Semitism from the Labour Party. I know that I will judged on my actions, not my words.

“The disciplinary process does not have the confidence of the Jewish community. That became clear once again yesterday.”

He added: “Jeremy Corbyn’s actions in response to the EHRC report undermined and set back our work in restoring trust and confidence in the Labour Party’s ability to tackle anti-Semitism.

“In those circumstances, I have taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. I will keep this situation under review.”

Hope prevails… Albeit with a caveat.

Posted: 18th, November 2020 | In: Broadsheets, News, Politicians | Comment


‘Got the Bastard!’ Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe is dead

Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe is dead.

I remember the fear and paranoia. Relatives in Leeds getting the photofits – so many of them – and looking at men. Was it that man? That dad? The men who said it was them, who wanted to be the killer? The day the news broke that a copper had spotted something odd in a parked car and got him – my mum shouting across the road to a friend ‘Got the Bastard!’ as she met me at school. It was the story that haunted thoughts and prayers.

Dead now. The victims never forgotten.

Posted: 13th, November 2020 | In: News | Comment


ABC News: England parties likes its 1605 as Joe Biden win triggers fireworks extravaganza

Joe Biden is declared President of the US of A – and the country’s ABC News reports that the skies over London, England, have erupted in an explosion of light and sound to mark the happy occasion. Keen historians with access to big books and bigger brains (or just the internet – ed) will find it uncanny that the celebration for Catholic Biden should coincide with what Englanders call “Guy Fawkes’ Night”, an event that remembers when Fawkes and a group of fellow English Catholics launched a failed attempt to blow up King James I (1566-1625) and the Parliament on November 5, 1605.

Says one American reporter: “I’m getting rumours of a huge celebration on December 24, with bells, tinsel and a play to be performed in all English schools in which Joseph ‘Joe’ Biden and Mary Trump give birth to a new beginning for all mankind.”

Says no-one: “Are those drones?”

Posted: 9th, November 2020 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment


President Senile or President Lunatic – America decides

Can everything you want to know about the US election be summed up in a tabloid headline? The Daily Star achieves no little success with its front page:

President SEnile Biden

President Senile or President Lunatic? Vote now!

Posted: 5th, November 2020 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians, Tabloids | Comment


Voting for Donald Trump is a sign of mental illness – BBC

So whose it going to be: the orange lunk with the hair tsunami or Homer Simpson’s dad frozen in time? Has there even been two more physically conflicted characters contesting the Presidency of the USA? At least whoever paints Joe Biden for any official portraiture won’t have to tell hm to keep his face still. The BBC, as every major new outfit, is pretty much ignoring every other news event – what Covid-19? – and breathlessly reporting on the vote. Good. America is foreign country, whatever they tell you. And most of the coverage can be classed as escapist entertainment.

So who will win? Will it be the orange lunk with the hair tsunami who says whatever comes into his head, likes the sound of it and repeats it (however divisive) or Homer Simpson’s dad frozen in time who thinks his opponent if George Bush? Has there even been two more physically conflicted characters contesting the Presidency of the USA? At least whoever paints Joe Biden for any official portraiture won’t have to tell hm to keep his face still.

The BBC is pretty much ignoring every other news event – what Covid-19? – and breathlessly reporting on the vote. Good. America is a foreign country, whatever they tell you. And much of the coverage can be classed as escapist entertainment.

And as with all good reality TV shows, the BBC has picked a favourite. Clue: it’s not Trump. The BBC’s Miami bureau chief notes that Florida has backed Trump. To her mind doing so is symptomatic of mental illness:

Trump’s appeal with the large Cuban-American population in Miami-Dade county was palpable, judging by the loud and colourful ‘Trump trains’ that have been going through for weeks. The ones for Biden were always smaller.

Latinos for Trump! Why not? No, why?

…the message that Democrats are ‘socialists’ really hit home.

Cubans and Venezuelans, the other large diaspora here, have a kind of PTSD with the S-word, socialism. They both had to flee their countries after socialist governments ran the countries to the ground.

They look to Trump and see freedom. They see State control in Biden. The BBC pathologises that thinking. According to the NHS: “The main treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are psychological therapies and medication.” The BBC’s reporter makes no mention of have taken any medical training – she just think all Trump voters might be ill.

So whose it going to be: the orange lunk with the hair tsunami or Homer Simpson’s dad frozen in time? Has there even been two more physically conflicted characters contesting the Presidency of the USA? At least whoever paints Joe Biden for any official portraiture won’t have to tell hm to keep his face still. The BBC, as every major new outfit, is pretty much ignoring every other news event – what Covid-19? – and breathlessly reporting on the vote. Good. America is foreign country, whatever they tell you. And most of the coverage can be classed as escapist entertainment.

But the Beeb has picked a side. Clue: it’s not Trump. The BBC’s Miami bureau chief notes that Florida has backed Trump. To her mind doing so is symptomatic of mental illness:

Trump’s appeal with the large Cuban-American population in Miami-Dade county was palpable, judging by the loud and colourful ‘Trump trains’ that have been going through for weeks. The ones for Biden were always smaller.

Latinos for Trump! Why not? No, why?

…the message that Democrats are ‘socialists’ really hit home.

Cubans and Venezuelans, the other large diaspora here, have a kind of PTSD with the S-word, socialism. They both had to flee their countries after socialist governments ran the countries to the ground.

They look to Trump and see a free America. They see too much State control in Biden. The BBC pathologises that thinking. According to the NHS: “The main treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are psychological therapies and medication.” The BBC’s reporter makes no mention of have taken any medical training – she just think all Trump voters might be ill.

Posted: 4th, November 2020 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


‘Labour broke the law’ and will now pay for its Jew baiting and anti-semitism

Jews for Jez

The Labour Party is “responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” claims The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Labour, there was, says the commission:

Political interference in anti-Semitism complaints
Failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints
Harassment


The EHRC:

“The equality body’s analysis points to a culture within the party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent anti-Semitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it.”

An EHRC spokesman enlarged:

“The blame for this sordid, disgraceful chapter in the Labour Party’s history lies firmly with those who held positions of leadership – those who possessed both power and influence to prevent the growth of anti-Jewish racism, but failed to act.

“Never before in our collective history has the Labour Party so fundamentally strained the ties that have bound the Jewish community to the British Left.”

Over to you Dame Shami…

Posted: 29th, October 2020 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Hilary Clinton says this time she will beat Trump

The New York Times‘ headline is choice: “Hillary Clinton Says It’s Different This Time.” The 2016 Democratic candidate on why she’s so confident that Joe Biden will win.

What is different “this time” is that Donald Trump not trying to beat Hilary Clinton.

Posted: 27th, October 2020 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Not an Indian, possibly a Jew: The Unknown Soldier might be British says expert

The coffin of the Unknown Warrior in state in the Abbey in 1920, before burial.

The Unknown Soldier is British. He – yes, a it’s a ‘he’ – was shipped back from France and buried in Westminster Abbey on November 11, 1920. We do not know who he was. He is, as the name suggests, unknown. But there’s now a problem. The Telegraph notes:

Unknown Warrior likely to be white soldier because of ‘bias’, research suggests The National Army Museum suggested bias may have influenced the selection of the body whose remains were interred at Westminster Abbey

The British Unknown Soldier is most likely British. A curator named Justin Saddington tells us that he’s found that meeting minutes of the Memorial Committee tasked with creating the tomb “show no mention of Indian and other soldiers”. He says:

“That should be taken as evidence of unconscious bias really, that fact that they’re not discussed. This is a time 100 years ago when racism was much more ingrained, there was in fact a colour bar for black officers.”

But he is British. Black British, possibly. A British Jew, maybe? But not Indian, right? And then in the Mail:

He added that he doesn’t believe outright racism played a part but that those involved in choosing the unidentifiable body may have been influenced by demands for ‘British’ remains.

Over to Wikipedia:

The idea of a Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving as an army chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend ‘An Unknown British Soldier’.

He wrote to the Dean of Westminster in 1920 proposing that an unidentified British soldier from the battlefields in France be buried with due ceremony in Westminster Abbey “amongst the kings” to represent the many hundreds of thousands of Empire dead. The idea was strongly supported by the Dean and the Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

So it’s a British soldier buried beneath the words “An Unknown British Soldier”. Who knew?

CLUE: The Unknown Soldier features this inscription, composed by Herbert Edward Ryle, Dean of Westminster:

Beneath this stone rests the body
Of a British warrior
Unknown by name or rank
Brought from France to lie among
The most illustrious of the land
And buried here on Armistice Day
11 Nov: 1920, in the presence of
His Majesty King George V
His Ministers of State
The Chiefs of his forces
And a vast concourse of the nation
Thus are commemorated the many
Multitudes who during the Great
War of 1914 – 1918 gave the most that
Man can give life itself
For God
For King and country
For loved ones home and empire
For the sacred cause of justice and
The freedom of the world
They buried him among the kings because he
Had done good toward God and toward
His house

Posted: 25th, October 2020 | In: News | Comment


Beneden school discovers black history with confused results

Off to speak to the gels at their posho school. Why do children from wealthy families bother to attend? It’s not for the need to get good scores in maths, work and gain employment, surely. Terribly vulgar all that CV writing. It’s abut social modelling, belonging to an elite and breeding the next genertion of Beneden gels and Eton toffs. So we’re off to Kent, to listen to the headmistress of Beneden explain and apologise for talking about black people:

The headmistress at a top boarding school has “unreservedly apologised” for using the word “negro” in an assembly as a wave of protests by black pupils against “white privilege” sweeps across schools at the end of Black History Month.

Samantha Price, 46, headmistress at Benenden, the Kent girls’ boarding school where Princess Anne was a pupil, was explaining to pupils the origins of the month in 1926. At the time it was, according to Wikipedia, called “Negro History Week” in America, she said.

Some of the senior girls protested about her use of the word, fearing that other pupils would think they were also entitled to use a word some find as offensive as the n-word.

The senior gels think the younger gels will hear the word “negro” and think it’s ok to use it? The n-word is now more noticeable by its rarity of use – its what makes it newsworthy – that it’s use in everyday parlance, especially to demean and abuse.

Note: Samantha Price is not black. But she is studying the matter.

Posted: 25th, October 2020 | In: News | Comment


Nazis and Thunderbirds: Tabloid headlines are as dated as their readers

How do tabloids stay relevant in the digital age? By investing a fortune in quality journalism and attracting newsreaders to paper products, encouraging the hip and youthful to give newsprint the same respect they’ve rediscovered for radio, vinyl and books? Nah. Easier to keep the ageing readership you’ve already got and feed it headlines based on World War 2 (1939-1945) and Thunderbirds (1965-1966).

Time for a rethink…

Posted: 22nd, October 2020 | In: News, Tabloids | Comment


Silent Night: Scotland prepares for a Digital Christmas

Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch says there is “absolutely no question” of a “normal” Christmas being permitted by the State. Leitch says it’s time for people to “get their digital Christmas ready”. Has the ever been a more awful phrase than “digital Christmas”?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is not shamed by the message and says it’s not right to “tell people what they want to hear to make it easier in the here and now”.

So a digital Christmas it is, then – with Carols:

Dongle Merrily On High

The First Comment

Once In Royal Sim City

O Come (on) All Ye Webcams

Do They Know It’s Christmas Time At All?

Shite Christmas

And many more..!

Posted: 22nd, October 2020 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


New Covid Tier Rules Explained: Boris Johnson can meet a tech guru for a ‘working lunch’ in a Manchester hotel room

Manchester covid

How do you report on the pandemic, the confusion sewn by a government with all the nous of a puppy sat by a pile of poo and Boris Johnson air-punching Manchester mayor Andy Burnham on the telly, treating him and the city with all the contempt of a bully thanking his victim for bringing so much lunch money to school.? If you’re the Sun you lead with Meghan Markle in a green dress and pictures of a “takeaway food app addict” being hoisted from his Surrey flat, before presumably being dropped on Salford as an emergency fuel source.

Helpfully, the Express does lead with the Covid-19 story, telling us: “Only National Unity Will Defeat Virus”. Which means: comply or die. Which sounds like a threat. Question the Government and you risk lives. Comply with the Government and your business will go bust, you’ll run out money and die from curable cancers. But you’ll do so in the warm glow that it was for the common good – especially for the NHS which must be “saved” for when we rally need health care and granny, who’s seen neither the outside world not any loved ones for months.

The Mirror says Johnson’s “playing poker with the pandemic”, which makes him sound more fun than fool. Such is the tabloid’s love of betting apps and deals that fill the pages, you expect to see the story sponsored by Paddy Power and a shot of Johnson pulling down his trousers to reveal a pair of green knickers on which are displayed the odds for “everyone dead by teatime”.

The aforesaid Burnham wanted £65m to “prevent a winter of real hardship”. Johnson and his chums offered £60m. They then handed over £22m and forced a Tier 3 lockdown on Manchester. That £60m might still be on the table. But Johnson did his usual bluster and bluff and failed to answer questions about what is on offer and what is not.

We know Johnson thinks Tier 3 is fine and the following venues throughout Manchester must shut or else: bars, unless they serve meals, betting shops, casinos, Bingo halls, games arcades and soft play areas.” You know, all the places Johnson and his Government spend the evening when the lap dancing club is full.

But there is help. The Star brings news: work in the pub. People from different households in different tiers can mix indoors if they are doing work. Call it a “working lunch” and you can mix indoors. “People are permitted to meet indoors for work purposes in high or very high areas,” says an unidentified Government wonk. If Johnson (London – Tier 2) wants to meet a tech guru in a Manchester hotel room, (Tier 3), he can.

Just remember to bring your own pole.

Posted: 21st, October 2020 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment


Mopping up Boris Johnson’s ‘avalanches of passion’

American Jennifer Arcuri, 35, says Boris Johnson bombarded her “with avalanches of passion” during what the Mirror claims was a four-year affair that ran like a spluttering tap feeding a gelatinous fatberg between 2012 and 2016. At the time, Johnson, a serial ‘love bomber’, was married to second wife, Marina Wheeler.

Arcuri has been talking with a sympathetic Daily Mail. Get a lot of “her big smile and effervescent personality”; “she attracts admiring glances from passing male guests”; and “she and Boris had a deep emotional attachment”.

They also shared office space. But nothing untoward occurred. The Independent Office for Police Conduct said there was no evidence Johnson had influenced payments to Ms Arcuri or her companies. Acruri, a “technology entrepreneur”, joined then mayor Johnson on overseas trade missions in 2014 and 2015. The BBC noted:

According to an investigation by the Sunday Times one of her businesses had received £11,500 in sponsorship money from a mayoral organisation when Mr Johnson was mayor and a £15,000 government grant for foreign entrepreneurs in Britain.

A further £100,000 grant was awarded to Ms Arcuri’s company, Hacker House, by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in January.

All legit. So…

Mail: But you did have an affair?

Arcuri: ‘I think that goes without saying,’ she purrs throatily. ‘It’s pretty much out there . . . But I’m not going to talk about it.’

The takeaway part from this grubby story is not Arcuri’s realisation that ‘no comment’ is still a comment, but that UK’s bargain bucket version of JFK and Marilyn Monroe includes Arcuri telling us:

“You’d have to be a fool not to get swept away by those avalanches of passion.”

Strap on the goggles, hold your breath and tell the plasterer to wrap his radio in clingfilm – we’re stood on the edge of crevasse and Boris Johnson’s barrelling towards us with his dripping snow machine proud and primed for a quick Brexit…

Posted: 19th, October 2020 | In: News | Comment


Students of the Dance Theatre of Harlem dancing through the streets of New York City

This video of dancers with the Dance Theatre of Harlem dancing though the streets of New York City is a delight.

Of course what they’re really doing is making their way in the only way they know how towards the UK government’s retraining scheme for ballet dancers. Yesterday, the British State’s CyberFirst initiative told a ballet dancer called Fatima to squash her dreams of working as a dancer beneath the toe of her pumps and get a job in tech.

Funny, no, how dancers and artists are told to retrain but the Government workers under the auspices of the dire and impeccably connected Dido Harding are ok to carry on in the face of the fact they can’t even work out how to add columns to Excel spreadsheets and maintain accurate records of Covid-19 tests.

Posted: 13th, October 2020 | In: News | Comment


Life Apes Friday Night Dinner: Zach Margolin and Josie Singer’s Covid Christmas advert

Zach Margolin says he has “got this year’s Christmas advert figured out.” He’s videoed his grandmother Josie Singer counting down the days til Christmas. Covid-19 has left her alone. She wants to see her loved ones.

It’s a fun advert with a neat take on the end that makes us all feel warm and fuzzy.

And it reminds us of that scene in Friday Night Dinner, Robert Popper’s hit TV show about a Jewish family who, like Josie, live in north west London. (Full disclosure: me too.) Do Jews celebrate Christmas? Is that a Christmas Tree or a Channukah Bush in the lounge? Isn’t Christmas, you know, just nice?

Happy Christmas!

Posted: 13th, October 2020 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comment


Fatima gives up ballet career to retrain as Boris Johnson’s personal webcam model

Downing Street says the advert suggesting a ballet dancer called Fatima should retrain in cyber security is “not appropriate”. Fatima should not limit herself to working in tech but reach out and consider careers as a personal shopper at Ocado, Covid tester or grave digger.

“Fatima’s next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet). Rethink. Reskill. Reboot,” says the advice in an advert as part of CyberFirst, a programme led by the National Cyber Security Centre since 2017. CyberFirst aims to encourage young people to get into tech, and to HM Government. No, not webcam modelling at RedBox.com. Well, not only that.

So here’s to the dancers brave enough to give up all that prancing about and get real jobs in the virtual world. If in the coming days you’re approached by a ballet dancer seeking to broaden their skill base, remember, be kind. These people have spent the larger parts of their lives pretending to be swans.

Note: In real life, “Fatima” is a picture of American dancer Desire’e Kelley, taken by photographer Krys Alex at the Motion Dance Studio in Atlanta, Georgia. Rumours that she now works on the headphones desk at Curry’s in Basildon are unproven.

Posted: 12th, October 2020 | In: News | Comment


Tory TV: Boris Johnson, Allegra Stratton and lifestyle choices

Boris Johnson, Allegra Stratton and lifestyle choices

Allegra Stratton is the Government’s new US-style press secretary. She’ll deliver the Government’s daily televised briefings to the people. This changes the old way of political hacks speaking off camera with the Prime Minister’s spokesman, a politically anonymous civil servant. Hired by the Tory Party, her reported £100,000-a-year salary paid by the taxpayer, Stratton will be free to attacks opposition parties.

So what can we expect to see from Tory Telly and the former political correspondent for the Guardian, political editor of BBC’s Newsnight, national editor at ITV News, co-presenter of Robert Peston’s show Peston on Sunday and director of strategic communications for Chancellor Rishi Sunak?

Stratton is unarguably a high achiever. And with that comes connections. In 2011, she married James Forsyth, the political editor of The Spectator, the conservative magazine which Prime Minister Boris Johnson used to edit. Mary Wakefield, wife of Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings is the Spectator’s Commissioning Editor.

Someone not on that dinner party list is Shanene Thorpe. In 2012, Stratton reported on the government’s proposed cuts to welfare benefits. To the then coalition government, welfare was a “lifestyle choice”. Londoner Thorpe was juggling full-time employment with raising a young child.

“The government is thinking of saying to young people: if you don’t have work, don’t leave home,” said Stratton to camera after the patronising interview ended.

“Immediately after filming I was upset: I felt as if I’d been mugged,” said Thorpe. “I’d been led to believe I’d be defending young people from benefit cuts, not defending my family.” She tweeted: “To set the record straight, I work for tower hamlets council, I’ve worked since 16 and I only get help towards my rent because it is so high.”

Thorpe was upset enough to start an online petition – it was signed by over 50,000 people:

I was approached by the BBC to be interviewed on Newsnight to talk about what it’s like being a working mum struggling to pay rent and housing costs. Of course I was happy to do it, being a working mum is something I’m proud of. It hasn’t always been plain sailing. But I did not expect to be personally scrutinised, have judgements made about my choices and asked why I chose to have my child – a beautiful, sociable and happy three year old girl. I have done my best for her and wanted to bring her up independently. But the BBC has humiliated me and I want them to apologise for portraying me and my family in this way.

It took Newsnight more than three months to broadcast an apology for creating the entirely false impression Shanene Thorpe was unemployed, entirely dependent on benefits and living off the state as a lifestyle choice.

Stay tuned for Tory Telly every day.

Posted: 9th, October 2020 | In: News | Comment


Scotland’s drinkers accept Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid-19 challenge to booze outdoors

Nicola Sturgeon likes things to be short and sharp – and you’d imagine her husband does, too. Scotland’s First Minister (her) says the decree to shut all pubs, bars and restaurants in central Scotland from 6pm this Friday until October 25 is “intended to be short, sharp action to arrest a worrying increase in infection”. This lock out will stop the rise in coronavirus cases.

In other bits of Scotland, licensed premises can serve alcohol outdoors. The people of Scotland accept the challenge:

Brave heart (freezing cold arse).

Posted: 8th, October 2020 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment


Munira Mirza or Dame Shami? Pick your prejudice

Dame Shami of Whitewash

In a story on Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, the Guardian cites the appointment of Munira Mirza to lead a Government commission on racial equality as a bad thing. We read:

Given that the party appointed a woman who does not believe in structural racism to the government commission on racial inequalities, the Tories’ investigation into their issues with race and Islam is unlikely to be a rigorous affair.

Why does she need to believe in structural racism to investigate if structural racism exists? Do you only get a job as an investigator if you know the outcome of the investigation before it begins?

To consider it another way: how did Sharmishta “Shami” Chakrabarti, lead a 2016 Labour Party investigation into anti-Semitism in Labour and find it to be “not overrun by anti-Semitism”. At the suggestion of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a man at the centre of the anti-Semitism in Labour furore, Shami soon became a Dame. Labour, under new leader Keir Starmer, admitted in 2020: “Antisemitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry. I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.”

Posted: 8th, October 2020 | In: News, Politicians | Comment


Madeleine McCann: £12million spent and no confession

By now you might have supposed the prosecution and defence would be deep into preparations for a trial. But months after being named as the chief suspect in the vanishing of Madeleine McCann, Christian Brueckner remains stubbornly innocent. Just as he was when we were introduced to ‘Christian B’, the depraved criminal remains housed in a Kiel jail cell. We know where he is, who he is and that he’s a convicted paedophile and rapist. What we don’t know is if he had anything to do with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in May 2007. German prosecutors “believe” he might have murdered her.

The Star picks up the news that “Madeleine McCann cops hired a prison inmate to gather information on the prime suspect”. German tabloid Bild reports: “Madeleine McCann cops hired a prison inmate to gather information on the prime suspect.” You know the routine: stick an informant into the cell with the suspect and wait for the confession. The Star says we don’t know what Brueckner told the grass, if anything, nor if the grass cooked up a story to make himself look good and secure any deal he’d made with the judiciary.

In other news, British police investing the disappearance of Madeleine McCann with Operation Grange have been given an extra £350,000, says the Mirror. It takes the total invested in looking for the missing girl to more than £12 million. The new cash will keep the Operation going til the end of March 2021.

And then?

Posted: 7th, October 2020 | In: Madeleine McCann, News | Comment