A Few More Podcasts with Steve N Allen

For the 17th year in a row we're told that podcasts are the next big thing. Let's hope so because recently I have been kept busy turning up on the odd podcast.

Should you suddenly be hit by the urge to listen to what I get up to in podcastland here are a few of them.

I was interviewed about comedy and radio by Ben Punter in his "What Have We Learnt" podcast. Fun fact: It was recorded in a pub, which I think should be the location for more of my work.
Hear here

I talked about my theories of how to have a good relationship on the Frank podcast. I'm no expert, and some days it feels like calling myself a "gifted amateur" would be a bit of a stretch, but I give my thoughts all the same.
Hear here

I had an in depth conversation about comedy on Rhodder's "Stand and Deliver" podcast in this episode.
Hear here

I was on a panel of comedians talking about comedy and its role in political discourse and news coverage in this episode of the RedBox podcast from The Times
Hear here

And if all of that isn't enough for you there's my podcast with the BBC, it's called "Steve N Allen’s Week", which you can…
Hear here.

If you'd like to have me on your podcast find a way to get in touch and I bet we can make it happen.



Christmas Election - Get Festive

I hope you wanted a General Election for Christmas because that's what we're getting.

For me, the news was like getting my Christmas wish early. That makes sense because Christmas gets earlier every year, why shouldn't the wishes? As soon as the August Bank Holiday is over shops start to peddle their red-themed tat, but that's a rant for another column.

It's been nearly a century since this country had a December vote. Those who think things were better back in the olden days should be happy.

Christmas is a time for traditions like wrapping up warm to stand in a queue outside a primary school in whatever weather we'll get that day.

Some may struggle to get out to vote. Do a postal vote. Dashing to the post box before to deadline is a Yuletide classic.

Christmastime post isn't known to be reliable but if your postal vote gets lost it will probably turn up again years from now. You'll have voted in the 2034 election, which could easily still be mainly run along Brexit lines.

Will this festive election sort this whole mess out? Maybe not. A General Election isn't the best way to sort out a single issue and due to the first-past-the-post system people living in safe seats will feel like they don't have a say. But this is what we have. Learn to be grateful for what you get at Christmas. It could have been a lump of coal.

The Christmas election comes down to this, which Santa will you want to visit you? Will it be the old man with a white beard who wants to give things away to people but doesn't talk about how much that costs? Or will it be the overweight, jolly man who has been in many bedrooms?

I can't wait to find out.


The Jo Brand Milkshake Joke - BBC Has Last Laugh

Do you remember when people were throwing milkshakes at political figures? It seems to have stopped. Maybe it's the heatwave and we'd all rather drink the milkshake than waste it.

It kind of culminated with the Jo Brand joke. She hit the news after saying on Radio 4's show Heresy, "Why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?"

The BBC has now decided that the joke went too far. But in a classic case of BBC balance, it also found that the joke wasn't inciting violence.

It's another thing in life where the left and the right can read the news and think they're correct.

Even Jo Brand admitted it was "a somewhat crass and an ill-judged joke", which makes sense from the host of The Great British Bake Off: Extra Slice. That's someone who should never joke about wasting sweet goods. When GBBO was on the BBC it received more than 800 complaints when Diana Beard chucked Iain Watters’ ice cream away, so this is serious stuff.

The BBC found that the joke "went beyond what was appropriate" for a Radio 4 comedy show. Here's the tricky thing, the show is about saying the things that aren't appropriate. The joke can be inappropriate for Radio 4 but by definition that makes it an appropriate joke for the show.

Of course, no show should have jokes that incite violence but as the BBC found, the context of the joke made it clear that she wasn't doing that. Exactly. I have never incited violence but I presume you'd do that on social media, not a Radio 4 show. In the Venn diagram of life "people who riot" and "people who listen to Radio 4" probably don't share much of an overlap.

Nigel Farage said the joke was "incitement of violence" but then he said he'd "Don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines," if he didn't get the Brexit he wanted. OK, he hasn't done that yet. Or he has done that and the khaki part of that plan has really paid off and that's why no one has seen him.

He wasn't the only one to complain. The BBC said it received 444 complaints about Brand's joke.

Wow. That's around half as many people as complained about a waste of ice cream.



We're All Becoming Hot And Unfunny

The experts have run the figures and it is now official, July 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded.

This has the double-effect of giving us a temporary break from people who say climate change can't be real because it was cold in winter and also it stops people saying, "Oh, you think this is hot? I remember the summer of 1976." It was nippy by comparison.

I put forward another theory, that August 2019 is the least funny month in the UK. I am currently performing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe called Better Than. This year there are more comedy performers putting on shows than ever before. Therefore anywhere that isn't Edinburgh surely has fewer comedy performers in it than it has for the rest of the year. It's a funny drought.

In a similar way to extreme weather events being part of a larger trend I think the humour deficit in August shows a general decline in people having a sense of humour. When I mentioned climate change earlier someone probably got all upset because they prefer to think it's a hoax and can't take a joke.

Do you remember when you didn't give two hoots about trade deals? If someone brought up the issue of a customs union you'd mock them for being the dullest person in the pub.

Now if someone hears a point of view they disagree with they don't have a laugh about it the take to Twitter is issue death threats.

The world is becoming hotter and less funny. We're all sweating and not smiling. It's like we're living in a gym.

If you need an antidote to a hot, humourless world head to Edinburgh during August. You can see my stand up show and it's Scotland; the weather makes you feel like it's winter again.


Why Do We Hate Clever People

People think being rich is about how much money you have. They are wrong.

That sounds like I am about to go all new-age and say true richness is about having time to know yourself. That's a load of rubbish too.

Being rich is about how much money you have compared to the average person. If you have a million pounds you sound rich but if everyone else in the UK also has a million pounds you'd have to cough up a lot to get that millionaire plumber to come out.

This means that for all the talk of a fairer society it is in the interest of some to keep things unfair and you can see this in the education system.

A new report has found that poorer teenagers are 18 months behind their wealthier peers in their GCSEs. That education gap is largest and growing fastest in parts of northern England.

Part of the problem is that in the working class world we don't value being clever.

On a TV show like Big Brother we vote the smartest ones off first.

It may be different for posh people but when I went to school you didn't want to be seen as keen. Trying hard at school was a sure way to lose friends and when you don't have much other than a little bit of social status you can't afford to lose it.

It's probably impossible to make being clever cool so we should focus on making being dim uncool.

We also know that young people aren't using Facebook these days because older people are. Basically, if grown-ups are doing it young people don't like it.

So we can solve the wealth-based educational gap if old people pretend to be stupid even if they're very clever.

It looks like maybe Boris Johnson will make this country better after all.

See Steve N Allen's Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Show - Better Than
Info and stuff is here


Trump's Ineptitude

It’s been a fun week of seeing how upset Donald Trump got after being called inept by a UK ambassador.

I didn’t realise that was what ambassadors did. Maybe that's why the buy Ferrero Rocher; it's to say sorry.

Leaked emails from Sir Kim Darroch said Trump's leadership was inept. In all of the criticism of this no one has come out to say that Trump isn't inept. It seems the main objections are that secret documents shouldn't be leaked and you shouldn't call inept people inept because that's rude.

I'm sure Donald Trump didn't get upset right away, but as soon as he slammed that dictionary down he was gunning for us.

Since then he has been on the attack, calling our ambassador "very stupid".

It must feel strange to be someone's least favourite man called Kim when you know that man has met the North Korean dictator.

Here is my confusion. If it isn't OK to call someone inept in a message they thought would be private, how is it OK to call someone stupid in a public tweet to nearly 62 million followers?

Some say you should respect the office of president even if you don't respect the person, but Trump didn't do the same when he tweeted a dig at our Prime Minister implying he was happy she was leaving the job.

Is Trump inept? I don't know. But he is being a hypocrite. He can dish it out but not take it.

There's little we can do, however. We need a trade deal with America and we can't afford to fall out with them.

If we do, at least it will only be a war of words. That's better than a real war. No one gets hurt, we attack each other and it all ends when America develops an F-bomb.



[Newspaper Column] Networks

Each week a selection of various local newspapers carry the Steve N Allen column. The list of publications include the Romford Recorder, Ilford Recorder, Ashfield and Mansfield CHAD, Hucknall Dispatch, Eastwood Advertiser, Retford Guardian and Worksop Guardian. More are being added all the time.

Follow @mrstevenallen for updates and get the archive of past ones here.

You can click the image to zoom in on the paper, or read the column below.

You can now change your mobile provider by text. That seems fair. They keep sending me SMSs that I don't want to see, so it's nice it can go the other way.

It is a much needed new rule because we have been ripped off. When you take out a contract and get a free handset you pay a monthly line rental and a monthly fee to pay back the handset.

At the end of the contract term the phone company keeps charging you the same amount every month even though you have fully paid off the phone. You might well throw Gift Aid onto that because you're treating the phone company like it's a charity.

Changing network can seem like a pain, but now Ofcom have brought in the text-to-switch system.

In general that's great but it means you don't get to do that thing where you can call them up and threaten to leave, and they start to beg. They offer you discounts, free handsets, back rubs, it gets a bit needy.

If you are going to leave text, please make sure you send it to the right number. We have all done that thing where we send a text to the last person who messaged you and you forgot it was your other half.

If you sent a message that reads, "I want to leave you. I can get a better deal elsewhere. And they'll give me more minutes," it will take some explaining to your spouse.

Also under the new plans you can change networks within 24 hours, so I suppose that means that when you change network you will only have 24 hours where people can't call you.

And that's the best reason to do this. A whole day where you can't be contacted. Sounds like bliss.


Boris The Bus Man

They say, “A man needs a hobby.” I suppose it’s to keep us out of trouble. If we chaps are spending our time tinkering in the shed we’re not doing the kind of thing that could end a marriage. The increasing divorce rates in recent decades is probably linked to a decline in hobbiests.

So it was interesting to see what kind of hobby the potential future Prime Minister undertakes. When asked in a radio interview what he does with his spare time Boris Johnson said the most shocking thing since the last time he spoke.

He makes small model buses by painting on wine crates.

Firstly, it’s not a man of the people moment. I don’t know about you but I don’t have wine delivered in a crate. Most of my wine gets carried home by me and comes in a box these days. I could paint those to look like buses but I’d get some strange looks when I put my recycling out.

Secondly, how far into that bottle of expensive red would you have to be before painting a little bus on the side becomes a good idea?

More importantly, what do you think this hobby says about his character? Some will see this as one step above making wicker baskets as they used to do in asylums.

Some could see this as being consistent. When he was London mayor he brought in bendy buses that caught fire. Now he makes buses out of wood. There’s a theme.

Some might think he gave such an answer so we commentators focus on this instead of looking at his thoughts on more serious issues.

Either way, we know one thing; even if you have a hobby you can still do things that mean you don’t stay married.

See Steve N Allen's Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Show - Better Than (or see the previews in the South East)
Info and stuff is here


Warning Labels On Alcohol

New scientific research found that smoking is linking to the shrinkage of a rather embarrassing area on men. That will mean the warning photos on the side of the boxes will get worse.

Do warning labels work? Is that why you don't smoke, because you don't want to have a collection of ill organ photos like a sick Panini sticker album?

The Labour Party announced plans this week to bring in a similar system for beer. It's hypercritical because the state of politics in the UK might be the reason you drink.

The plan is to put warnings on beer and wine to cut binge drinking. The problem with this is, after a few, you're not good at reading. You're certainly not good at making sensible decisions about your health. I can prove that with a kebab. Would you you order a greasy unspecified meat and wet salad meal at 1am if you were sober?

If the slightly inebriated can't read too well maybe we should make the warnings pictures of what could happen if you keep drinking. Whether that would be a picture of a diseased liver or a headshot of someone you'd only find attractive in your beer goggles, I don't know.

The problem is, we already know everything the warning label could tell us and yet we still binge. The problem isn't a lack of information, it's the other reasons to drink. It's in our culture.

There is one part of the plan that might work. Along with the warning labels they want bottles of alcohol to say how many calories there are in the drink.

It's around 700kcal in a bottle of wine and over 200 for a pint of beer.

That'll make me cut down on that binge. I need the spare calories for that kebab I have planned later.

See Steve N Allen's Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Show - Better Than (or see the previews in the South East)
Info and stuff is here


Jo Brand And The Acidic Joke

Telling jokes can be hard. As a comedian you get people come up after a gig and say how they could never do what they just saw. We seem to have a fear of trying to be funny and it not working.

I used to think that the biggest worry was getting booed as if you were Laura Kuenssberg trying to ask Boris Johnson a question.

It seems I was wrong. If you make a joke you could find yourself wanted by the police. That's the message from the fallout of Jo Brand's comments on BBC Radio 4's show Heresy.

The comedian was talking about the recent trend of throwing milkshakes at right-wing figures. She said, "I’m kind of thinking, why bother with a milkshake when you could get some battery acid?"

She phrased it as a question and the answer would be, "Because throwing battery acid would be wrong and a lot harder to find on the menu at Five Guys."

Even though the comments weren't explicitly made about Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage he took them personally as he was one of the recipients of a lactose-based protest. While campaigning in the run up to the EU election in May he ended up looking like Big Bird from Sesame Street had been in a tree above him.

Nigel tweeted, "This is incitement of violence and the police need to act."

All of this over a joke. Somehow it turned into a philosophical debate about humour online akin to working out of trees make sound when falling. Using the joke defence caused many commentators to say that they don't find it funny.

So what? You're not in charge of all humour. The definition of a joke isn't that it is found funny by every person who hears it. That can't be the deciding factor or we would have a situation where you could incite violence but only as long as you land the gag well. If you fumble over the punchline or don't use the rule of three you're off to jail.

The audience at the show's recording laughed so it is a joke in that sense. It is also a joke in the sense that she didn't mean it. If you listen to the show there is no point where you think Jo is likely to be shopping for car battery repair kits online.

If you were left in any doubt about if The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice presenter was about to turn to violence she added, "I'm not going to do it. It's purely a fantasy, but I think milkshakes are pathetic, I honestly do, sorry."

Nigel Farage must understand what it is like to threaten something without expecting to be taken seriously. He once said he would, “don khaki, pick up a rifle and head for the front lines” if Theresa May failed to deliver Brexit. No one was calling for the police to look into the colour of the trousers he'd be buying just in case.

A joke, of course, could still be inciting violence but who do we think she'd be inciting? Do we think that some lift-wing lone wolf was almost ready to tip and it was a comedy show on BBC Radio 4 that would push them over the edge?

Is it a funny joke? I don't know, but she certainly has the right to make it. Ordinarily it is the Brexit supporters who will take to twitter to champion free speech, to bemoan the trigger warning requiring snowflakes who take comments too seriously and to rail against those who seek to no platform the pubic figures who say things that may cause offence.

It would normally be the right-wing voices complaining that too much police time is spent investigating online comments when real crimes go unsolved.

Genuine threats of violence are to be abhorred. That's not political. If you have seen some of the online hate directed towards the likes of journalists like Carole Cadwalladr you will have seen how vitriolic people can be. Hate is prescent on all sides of the political spectrum.

Even throwing milkshake at people is a terrible development in debate and that's the point I think Jo was making. Throwing milkshake is pathetic.

It seems that some members of the left think that right-wing views are like heartburn, mainly in middle-aged men and can be cured by milk.

However, it is also pathetic to race to claim offence. Trying to strip out all humour from a comment to frame it in a way that lets you be upset. That makes you look like a bit of a joke.

See Steve N Allen's Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Show - Better Than (or see the previews in the South East)
Info and stuff is here


Tory Leadership Update: White Powder

As the Tory leadership race ploughs on one major theme has been drugs. I don’t mean the ones you have to take to be able to cope with all the coverage. If you have made it through a day without aspirin you’ve done better than me.

There’s good and bad news for Michael Gove. He has received cash backing from the man behind Next. That seems good but it comes at the one time Gove doesn't want people saying he's had a “little bump”.

You see, Michael Gove admitted using a class A substance, and I don't mean big eggs. And it's all kicked off. Some say he should have to pull out of the race. Well, in most races you're disqualified for drug taking.

Others have pointed out that Mr Gove has been honest and his admission has done more to make drugs uncool than many Government campaigns.

Fellow leadership contender Sajid Javid said of people like Gove who "boast about buying fair trade, they talk about climate change and, at the same time come Friday or Saturday night, they're all doing Class A drugs."

To be fair, that's because you can't get fair trade drugs. If you could those people would love to boast about how ethically sourced their stash is. They’d sound like a Marks & Spencer ads: “This isn't just class A drugs. This is the finest boutros boutros from the Colombian foothills.”

I'm glad that's not available. Let's be honest, the kind of people who love to boast about how fancy the food at their dinner party is don't need any help being chatty and self obsessed.

This is becoming a weakness the other leadership candidates are using. So, it seems like the key to a good Conservative leadership campaign is to keep your nose clean.

See Steve N Allen's Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Show - Better Than (or see the previews in the South East)
Info and stuff is here


The Milkshakings

At a time when Jamie Oliver's restaurants are having trouble there is one eatery that must be doing well. Five Guys was known for its burgers but these days it is the milkshakes that are hitting the headlines.

Nigel Farage was the latest in a line of right-wing figures to get covered in the drink. Other milkshake recipients include Tommy Robinson and YouTuber/Ukip candidate Carl Benjamin.

It's almost as if the left think right-wing politics are like heartburn; more prevalent in older men and can be helped with milk.

You may have seen the pictures of Farage. At first it didn't look like milkshake. It looked like he'd been to Sesame Street and stood under the tree that Big Bird was in.

Then we heard that Nigel was trapped on a bus because people were outside it holding milkshakes. He's got the fear now. He'll be having anxiety dreams about the Nesquik bunny.

In the old days people like John Prescott and Ed Miliband had eggs thrown at them. That was protein and fats, these days it's calorie-laden drinks. No wonder we're an obese nation.

It's hard to ignore that there's something funny about pomposity being quenched by a diary treat but it's wrong. There are many things I disagree with in life but I don't show it by making them look like a builder's radio.

Where will this end? Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament will be a series of custard pies hurled from one side to the other. Andrew Marr will be replaced by Noel Edmonds so he can gunk the cabinet ministers.

Why don't we try this, if you disagree with someone, say it, don't spray it? And if you're not going to drink that milkshake, hand it over here, I'm parched.


The Final Straw

If you have a plastic straw in your house, keep it. It could be worth something one day. Antiques Roadshow will feature people's McDonald's straws in the original packaging.

The Government has announced a ban on plastic straws by 2020, which will mean we'll be telling our great-grandchildren what it was like to drink through plastic and they won't believe such fantastical stories.

While I am in favour of stopping this plastic blight getting into our seas I am saddened by the replacement; the paper straw. I used one for the first time on the weekend and they taste like paper.

You might not find that shocking but it ruined the drink. It's much like the reusable coffee cups with rubber lids, they make the coffee taste like rubber. I'm spotting a pattern.

I am all for saving the planet, it's where I keep all my stuff, but we have to do it in a way that doesn't ruin all the drinks.

Here's how I got around the problem of the paper straw. I took it out and drank from the glass. Thankfully I don't need a straw because I'm not five.

That's the real problem here, not the plastic straws but how often they're popped into drinks. You pay for the round, thank the bartender, and then take the straw out and put it on the table. That's not even single-use plastic. All it does is risk poking you in the eye if you forget to take it out.

Some say the straw culture came in when people claimed drinking with a straw is better for your teeth. I think it may have been when we were told if you drink through a straw you get drunk quicker.

Stop using plastic straws, stop cutting down trees to make paper ones and simply use your mouth.

I'll drink to that.


The New Politics Is A Load Of B******S

[Warning: Contains a lot of swearing, but they started it.]

Have you seen the new eye-catching part of the Liberal Democrats slogan? It's bollocks.

That's not a judgement, that's the actual angle. They have put a swear word on their latest campaign. It is clearly a bid to sound more relevant. You get the mental image of a meeting with one Lib Dem says, "OK guys, we need to relate to the younger voters. So, what do you people do?"

Five to sevens minutes of silence pass before one of them says, "Swear?" And a campaign slogan was born.

Will it work? Seeing someone of Sir Vince Cable's age starting to swear more is normally the first sign they're starting to lose it.

My sarcastic analysis is wrong though, and it's proved wrong by its own existence. Without dropping the b-bomb on their posters I wouldn't be talking about it, lots of way more important people in the media wouldn't be talking about it. Every mention of how shamelessly publicity-seeking this is rewards it with the publicity it seeks.

So let's learn from this and come up with other swear-based campaigns. Politics could be more successful and more fun if it includes a little potty-mouthed terminology.

Labour could go with: "For the many, not the poo." (Starting tame.)
Who wouldn't love Theresa May repeating, "Brexit means Brexshit!"
Let's dub video of George Bush saying, "Suck my dick, no new taxes."
Tony Blair would only need three words, "Masturbation. Masturbation. Masturbation."
And how emotional would you be looking at the iconic Obama poster in red, blue and beige sat atop one simple word, "MINGE".

The main downside to all this is that it won't be long before Gordon Ramsay ends up Prime Minister. Still, we have had worse.



Woman Comes Out of 27 Year Coma

It’s nice to find the good news stories in a landscape of otherwise negative stories. This week we heard of a woman who has woken from a coma after 27 years. Obviously it’s still early days but let’s hope that she goes on to live a life she enjoys.

It’s a story of hope and medical success. She had been taken to several hospitals and specialists including one in the UK during her coma.

Now she has to catch up with all she has missed since 1992. That was the year that Bill Clinton became the American President. You’d have to tell her what he did and when she was shocked you’d have to say, “Oh, you wait till you hear about the recent one.”

Until she’s caught up she’d be likely to make some social errors. She’d say how much she liked OJ Simpson or call a radio station and request a Rolf Harris song.

Some of it would be great. She’d get to discover the sitcom Friends for the very first time. Some of it would be less fun, she’d have to watch the third season of Lost and that's a waste of anyone's time even someone who's just happy to be alive.

She has so many firsts that we have all experienced and forgotten. She'll get to see someone using a Bluetooth device and cross the street because she thinks they're talking to themselves.

I know what you're thinking, "As she catches up with all the news that's happened in the last 27 years what will she think when she hears about Brexit?"

To that I say, don't be daft. Some people think that when you're in a coma you can still hear and if she's been in the UK even briefly someone is bound to have gone on and on about Brexit to her. She already knows.


How To Boycott The Dorchester

I have taken part in a protest and I didn’t even know I was doing it.

I saw in the news that, “Hundreds protested against the Sultan of Brunei's new anti-LGBT laws outside his Dorchester hotel."

They have brought in laws that could include the stoning of gay men. That's the kind of news story that makes you check the top of the page to see if we’re actually in 2019.

Some people might not care about LGBT issues, and to those we should point out this new law also includes chopping off limbs for theft and capital punishment for adulterers, so everyone has something to lose here.

People are joining this protest by boycotting some of the hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei. That includes The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane in London.

It dawned on me, I have been boycotting those places all my life. Admittedly, it has been less because of the human rights issues and more because of the "£35 for a single whisky" issues.

In the same way I have been boycotting opening up a bank about in the Cayman Islands. I guess I care about tax evasion after all.

It raises a difficult question, how do you boycott something that most people can't afford?

I have been taking all the overtime I can get, saving up, and when I have enough I am not going to spend it at The Dorchester. Ha! See how he likes that!

Even though it’s hard to make a dent in his fortunes by not going to those hotels, especially when I wasn’t going to go anyway, I like the idea. Deciding where you spend your money on ethical grounds is a pretty good plan. They say people vote with their feet and that's true, especially if they were previously caught thieving in Brunei.


The Mash Report's Steve N Allen

It's good news for BBC2's The Mash Report as it received a BAFTA nomination.

Some episodes may still be available on the BBC iPlayer and many clips from the show have gone viral on social media. A little search can easily find comedy bits on Brexit, Doctor Who, some of the oddities of sports coverage and what really happens in a relationship if we say what we're actually thinking.

With the satirical show set to return later this year here are a selection of clips from the show featuring stand-up comedian Steve N Allen.


Newspaper Columns - The Update

Good news. The Steve N Allen newspaper column is now available in more newspaper. Sorry trees, it looks like Steve won this one.

You can find the weekly topical comedy rants in the Ilford Recorder and Romford Recorder if you’re in those parts of East London and Essex.

Now you can read them in the Ashfield and Mansfield CHAD, Hucknall Dispatch, Eastwood Advertiser, Retford Guardian and Worksop Guardian.

If you live in any of those areas you should be able to get a copy of the newspaper column or find it on the online versions of those papers.

More newspaper titles coming soon.


Podcast ep78: Brexit and Probably More Brexit and Other Stuff

Yep, a podcast.

The Friday night show on BBC Radio Kent that reviews the week's news is now a podcast too. Edited highlights are packaged up into pod-form for you listening pleasure and it's free.

In this week's episode, S01E78 (I'm starting to think series 2 won't happen), we look at Brexit and other stuff. News is becoming all a bit of a blur really.

Subscribe to the podcast now to get it free every week.

Download the mp3.

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P.S. The new eBook is out now. Lasted Another Year is only 99p on Amazon, so get it now.


Brexit Got Worse

I can admit when I was wrong. I thought Brexit had already got as ridiculous as possible. And then Uri Geller got involved.

You’ll remember him from the 1980s when he would turn up on TV and ruin people’s cutlery sets. He could use the power of his mind to bend spoons. I don’t know if that was the best way to use supernatural powers, to harness them to achieve exactly what everyone can do with their hands.

Now he’s back and he has decided to use his gift to stop Brexit.

At first I wasn’t sure how. I had mental images of him stood near Theresa May as she goes to sign the official leaving documents and he bends every pen nib just as she’s about to use it.

It seems odd that Uri would get involved. I knew that his politics, much like all of his spoons, is slightly to the right. In the past he has said he will use his powers to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.

Uri said: “I am ensuring that Jeremy Corbyn never gets the keys to Number 10 Downing Street. I will ensure that they bend out of all proportion to ensure that he never takes up residence there.”

Good plan but they have someone behind the door to open it. You never see Theresa May get out of a car and go through her handbag looking for the keys.

I’m not sure how the ability to mess up cutlery helps you on the issue of Brexit. Surely he should be helping the Government with knife crime.

As it turns out it’s a mass-telepathy experiment, he is asking people to think about Brexit at 11:11 AM and PM. I wish we only had to think about Brexit twice a day. It’s non-flippin’-stop.


Podcast ep73: Sue Parents, Drone Swarms and Seaborne Freight

Yep, a podcast.

The Friday night show on BBC Radio Kent that reviews the week's news is now a podcast too. Edited highlights are packaged up into pod-form for you listening pleasure and it's free.

In this week's episode, S01E73, drone technology gets a really useful use, there's a man suing his parents and you probably won't believe why, and Seaborne Freight, the ferry company that doesn't have any ferries lost a ferry contract. Shocker.

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P.S. The new eBook is out now. Lasted Another Year is only 99p on Amazon, so get it now.



The Labour Defectors

Do you remember where you were when it happened? The seven Labour MPs who split from the party caused the biggest upset in British politics since the last one which was probably to do with Brexit and was probably only last week. It caught on and has taken more MPs with it.

It was like watching the press conference where we heard Take That were splitting up or like hearing the devastating news that Geri was leaving the Spice Girls.

It was also confusing, because it seems the issue is the seven who left were the kind of Labour MPs who’d fit the old way Labour was when it was called New Labour, but now the newer version of Labour is more aligned with the old Labour which was older than New Labour.

No wonder they left.

It was all slightly undercut by the BBC who left someone’s mic on during the press conference. You can find the clip on my Twitter feed. While the MPs were telling us how they were starting solo careers to release a new single (that may have been the Geri one I’m thinking of) we could hear a man giving a very sweary commentary. It was like I’d pressed the Red Button and got Gordon Ramsay’s take on things.

The voice over said, “Between this and Brexit we’re...” and then he said something that needs bleeping.

It’s not the first time Labour have struggled with mics being left on. We all remember when Gordon Brown called Gillian Duffy a bigoted woman after she had said to him, “All these Eastern Europeans, where are they coming from?”

I don’t know if she was a bigot but she certainly wasn’t a phone-a-friend if you have a Geography question.

Where does the Labour Party go from here? I don’t know, why not ask Gillian Duffy for directions?


Podcast ep72: Ooohs and Aaahs, Neighbourhood Watch and the Case of the Missing Hawk

Yep, a podcast.

The Friday night show on BBC Radio Kent that reviews the week's news is now a podcast too. Edited highlights are packaged up into pod-form for you listening pleasure and it's free.

In this week's episode, S01E72, the case of the missing hawk (although it's not missing anymore) experts look at the oohs and aaahs sounds that people make and it all kicked off over the Neighbourhood Watch.

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P.S. The new eBook is out now. Lasted Another Year is only 99p on Amazon, so get it now.


The Bed Issue

Ford are making a “smart bed” that can detect when someone is taking more than their fair share of bed space and then it can tilt to roll them back. This is probably good news for divorce lawyers everywhere.

The problem comes down to human nature. We expand to occupy the space available. It’s true of the planet and our own homes. I have watched enough episodes of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo to know that no one ever has an empty cupboard or drawer. Do you? Of course you don’t.

The same issue happens in bed. As soon as your partner gets out and you deploy the starfish it feels so good.

Put two people in a bed and they both want to starfish. And so the battle begins.

Everything would be fine if we could split the bed 50-50, a two-state solution, but that never seems to happen.

I’m a big lad, 6’2” and certainly not what doctors calls skinny, or even healthy for that matter. I think I could make a strong argument for a greater that half share of the bed territory.

That never seems to cut it with my other half. Actually, seeing as I call her that I have just ruined my own point. She goes to bed earlier and has the “I was here first” argument. I have woken balanced on the edge of that bed like a circus act.

Both sides of a relationship want more that 50% of the bed. So a bed that polices the issue seems like it would solve it. Harmony at last?

You try telling your partner you want to spend thousands of pounds on a new bed because you think they’re hogging it.

You’ll get half of the bed. And half of everything else in the settlement.



Podcast ep71: Facetime, Posh Voices and Vampire Shoppers

Yep, a podcast.

The Friday night show on BBC Radio Kent that reviews the week's news is now a podcast too. Edited highlights are packaged up into pod-form for you listening pleasure and it's free.

In this week's episode, S01E71, there are problems with Facetime, there's bad news if you have a posh voices and the future of retail isn't as bad as we often here and it's all thanks to Vampire Shoppers.

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P.S. The new eBook is out now. Lasted Another Year is only 99p on Amazon, so get it now.


Neighbourhood Watch

Someone has upset the Neighbourhood Watch. It wasn’t me. They haven’t spotted what I have been up to yet.

It was comedian David Mitchell who wrote a newspaper column saying that the Neighbour Watch are only useful for spotting low-level crime. He said they’d only catch a mafia boss 'if he plays music too loud at Christmas party'.

I for one am going to defend the Neighbour Watch. If a mafia boss is playing music too loud at a Christmas party I’m glad they’re going to say something because I wouldn’t. You’ll wake up with a horses head in the wrong recycling box outside your house.

The Neighbourhood Watch chief executive – yep, they have one – John Hayward-Cripps has hit back saying Watch toolkits 'tackle human trafficking and terrorism'.

Yeah, if it wasn’t for Navy Seal Team 6 it would have been the Watch that got Bin Laden.

It has a reputation for being an excuse to curtain twitch, to make people feel better for being nosy, but John says that’s “lazy stereotyping” of his 2.3 million members. And he should know. If anyone if an expert at lazy stereotyping, it’s someone who thinks they can judge what other people are up to.

It’s hard to know if it works. When I see those This is a Neighbourhood Watch Area signs I always think to myself, “I’d love to nick that.” But I never have, so maybe there’s something in this.

One way to measure its success. Since starting a Neighbourhood Watch have you noticed more suspicious behaviour?

I have. A lot of people on my street spend all stood by the windows, looking out and making notes. I’m not sure if they’re waiting for a secret delivery or a visit from someone dodgy but it’s all very suspicious if you ask me.



Podcast ep70: Dog Snitch, Adult Entertainment Pays for the Wall, and Oscars

Oooh, a podcast.

The Friday night show on BBC Radio Kent that reviews the week's news is now a podcast too. Edited highlights are packaged up into pod-form for you listening pleasure and it's free.

In this week's episode, S01E70, we made it to 70. No one thought it could happen. We cover the news of a dog that has a price on his head, there's a way Trump's wall might get paid for and it's sexy, and we get the latest take on the Oscars.

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P.S. The new eBook is out now. Lasted Another Year is only 99p on Amazon, so get it now.


Vegan Paint?

We love news about the royals. We also live TV shows about bad drivers on our roads and recently those two categories of news have overlapped.

Not all the royal news has sounded like an advert for Lawyer4Money, Meghan Markle hit the headlines when reports came out that she is using vegan paint to decorate her ‘gender-free’ nursery.

I’m sure people got upset by the use of the phrase ‘gender-free’, but we have done that for decades. If you don’t know what you’re having you’d paint a nursery a natural colour. We weren’t being snowflakes we just didn’t want the hassle of more DIY when the nappy stuff starts.

The part that caught my attention was vegan paint. We are living in a vegan age. Just before Christmas the turkeyless turkey sandwich sold out from Marks and Spender in record time and the infamous Gregg’s vegan sausage roll was all over the news.

I have tried one. It’s been a few weeks and I haven’t become ill, gender-fluid or a communist, so I don’t know why Twitter was so upset.

I perform stand-up all over the UK and spotted down in Brighton a vegan shoe shop. I didn’t know shoes were edible. I’d have to be really hungry but it’s better than some kebab shops I know.

Vegan paint is in the same category. I didn’t know animals were used in the production of paint. I knew there’s a dog that helps to flog Dulux but it’s not harmed in the making of it. I still don’t really know how animals are used but I won’t buy any more duck egg blue just in case.

I’m sure some people will moan about Meghan going the vegan route but isn’t it about choice? Have whatever paint you like. Just doesn’t get the grandfather-in-law to drive you to the shops.



Podcast ep69: The Early End of Dry Jan, More GDPR and Illegal Kisses

Oooh, a podcast.

The Friday night show on BBC Radio Kent that reviews the week's news is now a podcast too. Edited highlights are packaged up into pod-form for you listening pleasure and it's free.

In this week's episode, S01E69, Toto's Africa has found the perfect home, the legal status of a kiss has been sorted and if you have stuck with Dry Jan you have done better than most.

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P.S. The new eBook is out now. Lasted Another Year is only 99p on Amazon, so get it now.



Brexit Week - Mini-Wrap

Who would have though, in 2016 as we were being asked what we should do about the European Union, just under three years later we’d find ourself here.

We haven’t had a week like this since, well, last December when this whole thing was meant to have happened.

I sat and watched Theresa May, our Prime Minister (correct as of going to press), I watched the news pundits and I even saw the protests outside Parliament. I think there were some Yellow Vest people but it is hard to tell. If you see someone wearing high-viz they’re either protesting or collecting litter. I thought I’d stumbled on a far-right rally the other day but it was just some people doing community service.

I watched the TV, cramming popcorn into my face, as the speaker, John Bercow shouted, “Order, order!” I smiled because he always sounds like a man having a difficult poo.

The vote came in. 202 for, 432 against. In Theresa May’s defence it could have been worse. 201 for and 433 against. But it wasn’t great. Rejected by 230 votes, the largest defeat for a sitting government in history. So, at least Theresa will be remembered for something other than wheat field vandalism.

Where do we go from here? Is Brexit dead in the water? In the Channel probably. Shouting m’aidez just to annoy us.

How long will Theresa May last? She’s already lasted longer than David Cameron would have. He’d have heard the result, stood up and said, “Right, I’m off to my shed in a field. It’s not a pig field before you even start.”

One thing is for sure, it’s three years after the referendum and people are still trying to work out what we should do about the European Union.


Podcast ep68: Doorbell Licking and Brexit

Oooh, a podcast.

The Friday night show on BBC Radio Kent that reviews the week's news is now a podcast too. Edited highlights are packaged up into pod-form for you listening pleasure and it's free.

In this week's episode, S01E68, a man is caught licking a doorbell, the snowflakes get upset and it's good news for certain divorces.

Subscribe to the podcast now to get it free every week.

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P.S. The new eBook is out now. Lasted Another Year is only 99p on Amazon, so get it now.


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