Tag Archives: Royal Family

Travelling hopefully with Tony Green, Michael Gove, Princess Diana, lizards

Sometimes, to slightly mis-quote Robert Louis Stevenson, it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

It’s what happens along the way that is interesting – the diversions and the sidetracks.

It’s a book, not a hairdressing salon…

Celine’s Salon,” Tony Green said to me in the Soho Theatre Bar, back on June 9th, almost exactly two months ago.

“A hairdressing salon?” I asked.

“No,” said Tony. “Celine’s Salon, The Anthology: Volume 1. Poems, short stories, song lyrics, that sort of thing. 

“Celine used to run her ‘salon’ just round the corner from here. Celine Hispiche. That’s her name. I read a few short stories there. At Celine’s Salon. Now it’s going to be a book. Celine’s Salon, Volume One. The publisher phoned me up and said: Could you do a 600 word short story? One of the stories you read at the club? So I did.”

“What’s it called?” I asked. “Your short story.”

Shape-Shifting Lizards.

“Autobiographical?” I asked.

Tony laughed.

How very kind of him, I thought. But then he is an actor.

There are so many sub-cultures in Soho, let alone in London, that no-one can know them all. Tony Green, the comedy performer formerly known as Sir Gideon Vein, knows lots of sub-cultures and people I don’t.

He took me along to Torture Garden late last century dressed as a cricketer – HE was the one dressed as a cricketer – or maybe it was an homage to Sylvester McCoy’s incarnation of Doctor Who – because he (Tony Green) knew Sophie Seashell who was organising the Berlin-Between-The-Wars-type cabaret performances amid the slightly self-conscious fetishism and kinkiness going on in the disused 3-storey warehouse up a back street in Islington.

Celine must have been right under my nose all the time…

I hang my head in shame that I had never heard of Celine Hispiche until two months ago. She started her career as a featured writer at the Royal Court Theatre, progressed to singing duets with Marc Almond on his album Bluegate Fields and playing support to the Human League with her band Nitewreckage.

Then there was touring down the US East Coast with fellow comedians from Saturday Night Live, playing the comedy stage at the Glastonbury Festival, supporting Harry Hill at the Hackney Empire, four consecutive cabaret years at the Edinburgh Fringe and starting Celine’s Salon in 2015 at the Society Club, described as “an arts and culture bookshop in the daytime and a private members Bohemian cocktail lounge in the evening.”

Tony Green in his mask outside Soho Theatre

“So,” I said, two months ago, “Shape-Shifting Lizards?”

“I got the idea,” Tony explained, “because some friends of mine who, at one time were quite well-balanced human beings, have gone… Well, they wouldn’t say ‘Conspiracy Mad’. They would say their eyes have been fully opened to this awful situation…”

“The Covid-19 situation?” I asked.

“Oh no!” said Tony. “Not that! I’m quoting Gilbert & Sullivan here. My eyes are fully opened to this awful situation…

“No, no, not the virus, although they know all about the virus, of course. That’s why none of them are having the vaccination.” 

“Because the world is run by an international cabal of Satanic paedophile cannibals?” I suggested.

“Of course.” said Tony. “I’m not saying this is the truth, but it’s what was told in a pub. You meet some strange people in public houses… So Lady Diana…”

“…was killed by the Cabal?” I guessed.

“Oh definitely,” said Tony. “But this is what was told in a pub… She was ‘nutted-off’ because she found out…”

“…about the Royal Family all being lizards?” I guessed.

“Oh definitely,” said Tony. Prince Philip told her: Whenever you want to see us about anything, always knock on the door first.

“So they have time to shape-change?”

“Of course. And, of course, there was that one unfortunate time she didn’t knock. She burst in and saw and was told If you say anything about this… It wasn’t the fact she was expecting a baby with Dodi Fayed or because the chauffeur was drunk…”

“Whenever you want to see us, always knock on the door first”

“It has to be said,” I suggested, trying to be helpful, “that, in his dying days, Prince Philip did look a bit lizard-like – Did you see that photo in the car?”

“Oh, they’re all lizards,” said Tony with a twinkle in his eye. Well, both eyes. There was more than one twinkle in more than one eye. “On one a occasion, a very well-spoken young actor said to me: Oh, I’ve just heard you’re a ‘Cockney’, aren’t you? I know why all of you Cockney chaps are all so ugly and stunted and stupid. You’re all inbred, aren’t you… And then somebody said: I think he must be confusing Cockneys with the Royal Family.

“You told me you also wrote a novella,” I prompted him.

“Oh – Halfway Up Arthur’s Seat – yes. It’s called that because the story came to me when I WAS halfway up Arthur’s Seat. In Edinburgh. I think it would make a great film, but it would cost a helluva lot of money. It needs 200 extras. It’s an homage to Edinburgh. It ends with what could possibly be described as a supernatural element. My partner read it and she felt it needed more explaining. I don’t think it does.

“A journalist friend of mine wrote a story about a certain notorious serial killer and he said to me: Do you think I made the ending only too obvious? I told him…”

“What?” I asked.

“Have you read any of Jake Arnott’s books?” Tony asked.

“I’ve seen the TV adaptations,” I told him, “but not read them. Have you read The Long Firm?”

“I have. When I wrote my story – Halfway Up Arthur’s Seat – it’s nothing at all like Jake Arnott – but I’d been reading a lot of Muriel Spark stuff. It was reading her stuff that prompted me – that and living in Edinburgh…”

Did I mention Tony spends a lot of time in Edinburgh now? Mostly, he says, “as a result of the bleedin’ virus and the lockdown’s etc.” I met him when he was briefly back in London.

Tony Green in Soho, London, not in Edinburgh

Thus the Soho Theatre Bar location.

I forgot to tell you.

It was two months ago. Other things have intervened.

Apologies.

“The hero of my story,” Tony continued, “is called T. Jellicoe Mungham. He wrote a book in 1902 called Dear Oscar, when he was at Cambridge. He was lauded for this book. He is a mischievous but loveable person in my book but also quite wise.”

“Autobiographical?” I asked.

Tony ignored this and continued:

“Muriel Spark is a hero of mine, like Andrew Marr and my idol Michael Gove. All Scots. All I can say about Michael Gove is that the horror film industry’s loss is politics’ gain. You know he was in a film, playing a vicar? Robert Hardy on one side and Christopher Lee on the other. 

Michael Gove: from movie minister to government minister

“Michael Gove was actually adopted and his parents were Socialists. I can only imagine someone said to him when he was quite young: Michael, you can’t keep backing losers. Conservative is just another name for Winner. You’re a Winner. Join the Conservatives and get rid of that Scots accent… Muriel Spark had no Scots accent either.

“Of course, she left Edinburgh when relatively young and lived in Camberwell in London, for years, virtually turning her back on her Scottish/Jewish heritage and becoming a devout Roman Catholic like her friends and admirers Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh. Funny that she wrote her must famous book The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in Edinburgh in the early 1960s on an extended visit to her parents flat in Bruntsfield Place.

“I think my stories have a very Scottish ring… The reason I wrote Halfway Up Arthur’s Seat was because there is NOT a part in it for me. People accuse me of being up my own anus, but I’ve written a story where there’s no part in it for me at all… Did you know Jake Arnott wrote a book about Alastair Crowley?”

“I didn’t know that,” I said.

Fenella Fielding on her 90th birthday (Photo Etienne Gilfillan)

“Just before she died,” Tony continued, “I saw Fenella Fielding do a reading. She was over 90. The reading she did from her autobiography, for a woman of that age, was A1. It was a perfect rendering. The reading was only a few months before her departure. There was a Q&A afterwards and I said to her: It’s very refreshing to hear someone reading as you read. You don’t give the impression of being a luvvie. As an actor, was there anyone you ever worked with you didn’t like?

Oh, that’s a very naughty question, she said. I don’t think I could answer that here. She was a nonagenarian and a likeable one. She knew even months before her demise that she still needed to ‘play the game’.”

Tony Green has returned to Edinburgh now.

Celine’s Salon is published in the UK on 6th September.

Like Robert Louis Stevenson didn’t quite say at the beginning of this blog… Sometimes it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive. It is the journey that is interesting. The sidetracks. And – hey! – Robert Louis Stevenson ended up in the South Seas Islands, which wasn’t too bad a place to end up at the time.

Leave a comment

Filed under Humor, Humour

ECCENTRIVIA: levitating ships, 3,951 dangerous pets and Meghan Markle…

Hertfordshire has been called a “dull” county…

I live in Hertfordshire, an ostensively fairly quiet county on the edge of Greater London. But it turns out there are 104 dangerous and/or ‘exotic’ pets kept here. And those are only the ones people admit to.

According to animal welfare charity Born Free, 3,951 dangerous wild animals are licensed to be kept privately in Great Britain. They say a total of 210 private addresses across 129 local authorities hold licences to keep dangerous wild animals such as lions, tigers, crocodiles and cheetahs.

In Hertfordshire, the Dacorum Council area – that’s basically Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted, Tring and the western part of Kings Langley – has:

15 venomous snakes 

1 bearded lizard

4 ‘death stalker’ scorpions

1 fat-tailed scorpion

3 gila monsters

2 spectacled caimans

A serval in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

6 servals (whatever they are)

12 serval F1 hybrids (presumably faster than normal servals)

and

1 recluse spider – though I suspect people don’t see much of that one

In my own council area there is, I am relieved to report, only one exotic pet – a Savannah cat.

The East Hertfordshire District Council area goes in for quality, not quantity, with:

3 cheetahs

2 pumas

4 wolves

and 2 Mississippi alligators

But never venture into the North Hertfordshire District, whose 46 exotic animals kept as pets include:

2 bobcats

2 camels

1 jaguar

1 clouded leopard

1 snow leopard

4 lynx

and 10 – yes, count ‘em, 10 – pumas

********

A ship floating… (Photograph by David Morris/APEX)

The most unlikely things are true.

A few days ago, the BBC reported that one David Morris took a photograph of what appears to be an oil tanker floating in the air near Falmouth in Cornwall.

This, apparently, was the result of a rare optical illusion caused by special atmospheric conditions that bend light.

BBC meteorologist David Braine explained: “Superior mirages occur because of the weather condition known as a temperature inversion, where cold air lies close to the sea with warmer air above it. Since cold air is denser than warm air, it bends light towards the eyes of someone standing on the ground or on the coast, changing how a distant object appears. 

“Superior mirages can produce a few different types of images – here a distant ship appears to float high above its actual position, but sometimes an object below the horizon can become visible.”

********

It’s all about perception.

Yesterday evening, for 1 hour and 50 minutes, ITV screened the much-hyped Oprah Winfrey interview in California with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It made me a tiny bit more sympathetic to La Meg, but she still seems strangely naive verging on being a self-obsessed airhead.

Daily Telegraph on Meghan Markle…

One thing it did was highlight the Atlantic divide. The Daily Telegraph‘s front page this morning reports US President Biden saying the Duchess (Meghan) had shown courage. Their other front page story is an opinion piece headlined: They may claim to respect her, but this is a devastating insult to the Queen.

It starts: “Towards the end of her more-shocking-than-you-can-possibly-imagine, even-in-your-worst-Royal-Family-trashing-nightmare, interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, mused, “Life is about storytelling, right? About the stories we tell ourselves, about the stories we buy into”… The story the Sussexes have told themselves about their own behaviour… is perfectly clear. The only truthful lens is their own.”

This morning, a female friend of mine’s opinion was:

“She’s a decent actress and she showed she hasn’t lost the knack.  Quivering lip etc. Knows how to let the camera catch a slight tremble. I’ve watched all of (her TV series) Suits. Loved her in it. This performance was up there. And I take my hat off to any pregnant woman who can wear those heels. Harry sounds like he’s had LOADS of expensive West Coast therapy.”

This morning, I also received a text from a gay acquaintance of mine who said succinctly and rhetorically:

“Is she a drama queen?”

********

OK – You find an image showing vertigo (Photo:Mwangi Gatheca/UnSplash)

Meanwhile, at the risk of seeming slightly drama queeny myself, my supposed vertigo hovers like an oil tanker in the sky.

I have been ever-so slightly unsteady on my feet (which means wobbly inside my head) since January when I had to spend three days in bed/holding on to walls to avoid falling over if I got up.

It recurred for a couple of less-bad days in February.

Three nights ago, I went out about 7.30pm to get some chocolate (I am on a diet, but hey-ho…) and, for the first time in a while, I felt 100% fine. 

Then two nights ago – bear in mind that, since May last year, I wake up at least once every hour during the night with a severely dehydrated mouth and drink lots of water – I got up on one occasion to go to the toilet and had to hold on to the walls and sundry objects to avoid falling over.

During the next day I was fine.

But, last night, again only once, I was again wobbly when I got up and had to touch walls etc.

And today I am OK again.

The Chinese curse: may you live in uncertain times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Animals, Eccentrics

Linked: the Krays, the Blind Beggar shooting and the Queen of England

Micky Fawcett (right) with Ronnie Kray (left) & boxer Sonny Liston,

(L-R) Ronnie Kray, boxer Sonny Liston and Micky Fawcett

So I was talking to Micky Fawcett. He used to work for 1960s London gangsters the Kray Twins.

“The Krays went up to Scotland, didn’t they?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” replied Micky. “The Scots came down here to London.”

Arthur Thompson?” I asked.

“I don’t think he was there, but there was a guy called Richie Anderson. He was on the firm (the Krays’ gang) for a while; I got on very well with Richie. He was a bit scornful of… You know the two Scotsmen who were with Ronnie when he shot George Cornell in the Blind Beggar? One fired the gun up in the roof. They hadn’t been round for long; they were newcomers, but Richie Anderson was very scornful of them:. You know why?”

“Why?”

“Because they came from Edinburgh and he came from Glasgow.”

“That would do it,” I laughed. “Glasgow chaps think chaps from Edinburgh are ponces and wankers, not proper hard men.”

“I was friendly with quite a few Jocks in the Army,” said Micky. “In the five minutes I was there. There was John McDowell. To look at him, you would imagine he’d been brought up on deep-fried Mars Bars. He came from Maryhill…”

“Ooh,” I said. “Buffalo Bill from Maryhill. There are supposed to be lots of descendants of Red Indians around Maryhill.”

“… and there was a bloke who came from Govan,” Micky continued.

“You know all the best people,” I said.

“I like Scotland,” Micky told me. “In the Army, Scotsmen, Cockneys and Scousers all kind of had more in common. There was a good experience I had in Scotland. Me and another guy sold a feller a distillery.”

“Legitimately?” I asked. “Did you actually own it?”

“Anyway…,” said Micky. “We sold him the distillery. We had never seen a distillery. So we thought we’d better go and see one. We jumped on a plane and went to one of these little towns near Glasgow. All done. So we thought we’d go and have a drink in the Gorbals.”

“Oh good grief!” I said.

“I wanted to see it,” said Mickey. “I’m fascinated by that sort of thing. All the windows were bricked up.”

“Which year was this?”

“The early 1960s.”

“You’re lucky to have got out alive,” I told him. “An English accent in the Gorbals.”

“I’ve been up there since and the Gorbals has gone.”

“They’ve blown up the tower blocks,” I said.

“And I’ve been up Ben Nevis and around Loch Lomond,” said Micky. “I saw the Queen up there… On my first visit to Scotland in the 1950s, around 1958, I went to the Braemar Gathering and she was there in the distance.

Princess Margaret, 1965 (Photograph by Eric Koch/Anefo

Princess Margaret in 1965 (Photograph by Eric Koch/Anefo)

“I can’t remember where I stayed; I might have slept in the car in them days – I had a wooden shooting-brake. But, the next day, I’m driving around and I recognise Princess Margaret’s car, because it had been on the television – she had a Vauxhall Victor.

“I saw a couple of soldiers in their uniforms with rifles, just standing around talking and there was the Royal Family sitting on big blankets out on the grass. Just sitting around drinking out of vacuum flasks and eating sandwiches.”

“It was not,” I asked, “Princess Margaret you sold a distillery to?”

“No,” laughed Micky. “I can’t remember the details of the distillery. But we also sold La Discotheque in London.

“I was in the Kentucky Club (owned by the Kray Twins) and there was a feller who had run dance halls. Do you remember Lennie Peters?”

“The blind pop singer in Peters & Lee?”

“Yeah. and because this feller was in the dance hall business, the Twins thought that was exactly the same as being in the music business. It was confused in their minds. So Reggie asked this feller: Can you do anything for Lennie Peters? The feller said: No, I can’t do anything.

“So the feller came over to us – me and another guy who were standing around just having a drink – and said: Make you fucking laugh, don’t they? He’s just asked me if I can do anything for Lennie Peters? How am I going to do anything for a fucking blind man?”

“Later, I said to Reggie: You asked him, did you? And Reggie says: Yeah. The usual thing. I’ll chin him.

“I said: No, no, hold it a minute. We can do something with him.

“We?” I asked.

“Me and the guy I was working with. I had a partner for a long, long time. We worked well together. So we talked to this guy and found out how his dance halls worked and how they didn’t work and said: We can do something for you. Would you like to run La Discotheque? It was the first discotheque in the West End. A feller called Raymond Nash owned it, a Lebanese…”

“Nash?” I asked.

“Yeah. Not the Nash family. He was a Lebanese guy, a top criminal.”

“Lebanese criminal?” I asked.

“Yeah. But in England. He died not long ago and there were big articles in the papers about him. His daughter got caught by Japanese and – oh – if someone wanted to make a good story, that really would be a good story.”

Raymond Nash had also been an associate of slum landlord Peter Rachman.

“So,” Micky continued, “we approached Raymond Nash and said: Listen, we got a feller we wanna do a bit of business with, if you could make all your staff just salute us and give us the run of the place for a night… 

“He said: Alright, you got it.

“He got cut-in for a percentage?” I asked.

“No. No money for him. He just wanted to be friendly with The Twins…

Krayzy Days – remembered as they were

Krayzy Days – Micky Fawcett’s memoir

“So we went back to this feller – Ron Kingsnorth his name was – he had a dance hall in Romford – and we said to him: Listen, we can do something here. We’ve put the frighteners on that Raymond Nash and we can take over La Discotheque. We’ll take you up there, have a look round, see if you fancy it.

“And I forget the figure we got out of him – but it was a few grand.”

“So he bought it?” I asked.

“He bought the running of it from us and then Raymond Nash came along and said to him: What are you doing here? Fuck off!

“We used to do it all the time. That was my job.”

2 Comments

Filed under 1960s, Crime, London, Scotland

Revealed – gay sex scandals of the rich and famous – and the Royal Family?

Someone invited me to have tea with him the other week because he wanted to ask my advice. Yes, I am anybody’s for a cup of tea and some beans on toast.

What he wanted to ask me was: “How do I start a rumour?”

My answer was, “Obviously via the internet, but it is more difficult than it sounds because the internet is full of rumours so it is difficult to be noticed in the tsunami of twittering. Wikipedia probably says that Guy Fawkes was an actor in the Star Wars trilogy, but no-one will necessarily believe that.”

On the other hand, large numbers of people can apparently be convinced by the conspiracy theory that the Americans never landed on the Moon…. Despite the fact that, if so, the Soviets would have immediately revealed the flight and the landing as fake.

Many people believe that, despite the fact al-Queda did admittedly have people flying planes into the Twin Towers, the World Trade Center was actually also rigged with unimaginably large numbers of explosives to blow up when the planes full of fuel flew into them so the US government could blame the Islamic terrorists who were already doing what they were going to be blamed for doing.

Which brings me to sex and Hollywood stars.

A new book Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars is about to be published in which 88-year-old former US Marine and former gas station attendant Scotty Bowers claims that Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn were both gay and their famed ‘secret’ romance was just smoke and mirrors to hide their gayness.

According to Bowers, Hepburn first approached him at a Hollywood party and said:

“I know your reputation, Scotty. When you get a chance, do you think you can find a nice, young dark-haired girl for me? Someone that’s not too heavily made-up.”

Over the next 50 years, he claims he fixed her up with more than 150 women.

One day he got a phone call:

“This is Errol Flynn. That gas station of yours has gained quite a reputation.”

Flynn wanted to be fixed up with women “who both behaved and looked as if they were underage”, but Bowers claims that Flynn would get so drunk that, after saying, “I’m going to make love to you like nothing you’ve ever experienced,” he would pass out and Bowers would have to “oblige the lady myself”.

Why Bowers would have been present at the time is not clear.

I can believe he “arranged voyeurism sessions for Somerset Maugham, found a string of young men for Noel Coward and had sex with Tennessee Williams”.

But I find it very difficult to believe that both the would-be Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson were actually gay and “the whole myth of the great royal romance was a fabrication, a giant cover-up”.

If they were both gay, why would Edward have abdicated over a perceived heterosexual love? He could have publicly dumped her, stayed platonic friends and retained the throne. The reason for pretending to be in love with her might have been to hide gayness… but not at the cost of losing the throne.

Spencer Tracey as bi-sexual and Katharine Hepburn gay, yes, that I can believe.

And Cary Grant, of whom it has often been said.

According to Hollywood Babylon, Cary Grant shacked-up with Randolph Scott for a time. I found that duo a bit difficult to believe but the Hollywood Babylon author Kenneth Anger knew where the scandals were – and he was able to believably explain what the name “Rosebud” means in Citizen Kane – it was allegedly William Randolph Hearst’s pet name for his mistress Marion Davies’ clitoris, so the fact Kane dies with it on his lips has some meaning and would explain why Hearst tried to destroy director Orson Welles’ career.

But I find it difficult to believe the former Marine and gas station attendant turned sex fixer for Hollywood’s story about Edward and Mrs Simpson.

Gore Vidal says: “Scotty doesn’t lie – the stars sometimes do – and he knows everybody.”

But do I rate Gore Vidal’s opinion?

I have never really believed the story which suddenly appeared after J.Edgar Hoover’s death that he dressed up as a woman and attended gay parties. “J.Edgar Hoover in drag” sounded too much like something people who hated him thought-up to destroy his image.

It is a bit like spreading a rumour that Cilla Black is a man.

That was not just a nose job she had early in her career.

Very entertaining, but not necessarily true.

They’ll be saying Tom Cruise, George Clooney and SpongeBob SquarePants are gay next.

Unbelievable.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gay, Hollywood, Movies, Royal Family, Sex

Why is taxpayers’ money being spent helping policemen become comics?

(This blog was also published in The Huffington Post)

We are in an economic recession. Even without that, life is tough enough for the aspiring stand-up comedian without policemen trying to muscle their way into the act.

Yesterday, the Metropolitan Police’s Assistant Commissioner John Yates and former Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman were questioned by the House of Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee about the fact they had claimed there was nothing to investigate when News International papers were accused of phone hacking.

In 2009, John Yates carried out an ‘investigation’ into a previous 2006 phone hacking investigation. His ‘in-depth’ investigation lasted a whole eight hours (presumably including a lunch break) after which he decided there was nothing to investigate.

He had not bothered to examine several bin bags of incriminating paperwork seized from the home of private detective Glenn Mulcaire nor read the 11,000 pages of evidence held inside Scotland Yard which included the fact that both future Prime Minister Gordon Brown and future Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne had been hacked.

His defence yesterday for what, on the face of it, was a breathtaking lack of investigation was that he could not investigate the allegations against News International properly because News International would not co-operate with him.

This is a bit like saying that the police could not investigate the Yorkshire Ripper killings because the Yorkshire Ripper would not send them information incriminating himself. If I ever commit a major bank robbery, I would want John Yates to be the investigating officer.

John Yates is Scotland Yard’s new head of counter-terrorism and Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson says that Yates “currently undertakes one of the most difficult jobs in UK policing and is doing an outstanding job leading our fight against terrorism.”

I don’t know if I am alone in finding that this – far from reassuring me – makes me feel even more uneasy and unsafe. Presumably he would have difficulty investigating a planned terrorist attack if al-Qaida did not co-operate with his investigations.

We value tradition in Britain. The Metropolitan Police appear to be continuing a long tradition of being staffed by would-be dodgy double-glazing salesmen. Though I have to be careful because I would not want to be sued for defamation by dodgy double-glazing salesmen who might object to being compared to the Met.

Andy Hayman – whom Commons committee member Lorraine Fullbrook called “a dodgy geezer” – was in charge of the original phone hacking enquiry at the Met.

While ‘investigating’ the accusations against News International papers of phone hacking, Hayman (who had wanted to be a journalist when he was younger) had dinners with News International executives (one wonders if he would have dinners with bank robbers while investigating alleged bank robberies) and, on retiring from the Met after reported ‘controversy about his expenses’, he was given work by News International – writing for The Times.

An article in today’s Independent describes the Hogarthian scene in the House of Commons’ committee room yesterday:

When Ms Fullbrook asked him (Andy Hayman) whether he’d ever taken money from a paper in return for information, he threw his arms into the air, as in a Feydeau farce: “I can’t believe you asked that!” And: “I can’t let you get away with that! Taking money?” He was gasping; speechless; eyes bulging. Julian Huppert had observed mildly: “Other policemen have.” Hayman cried something about his integrity and seemed on the point of scrabbling at his chest. The whole room was laughing – at, not with; scornful, down-the-rabbit-hole laughter at a figure who not long ago was defending 90 days of detention without charge. He was, in Keith Vaz’s words: “More Clouseau than Columbo.”

Last week, the London Evening Standard claimed that “Assistant Commissioners Andy Hayman and John Yates were both scared the News of the World would expose them for allegedly cheating on their wives if they asked difficult questions of the Sunday tabloid.”

Previously, Labour MP Tom Watson had used parliamentary privilege to say: “John Yates’s review of the (private detective Glenn) Mulcaire evidence was not an oversight. Like Andy Hayman, he chose not to act, he misled parliament.”

In a blog back in February, I mentioned that Margaret Thatcher’s solicitor – a partner in a major law firm – once told me he would never put a Metropolitan Police officer in the witness stand without corroborating evidence because you could never be certain a Met officer was telling the truth.

Likewise, the owner of a prominent detective agency who employs ex-SAS troopers etc, told me he never employs ex-policemen because you can never trust them.

I am not particularly outraged that the News of the World was hacking into people’s phones – they allegedly bugged both John Yates and Andy Hayman’s phones while the dynamic duo were allegedly investigating the News of the World for phone hacking – I am not even surprised that a policeman was flogging the Royal Family’s personal phone and contact details if he was paid enough – but I am outraged that the taxpayer appears to be footing the bill for policeman apparently attempting to build their performance skills for a future career in stand-up comedy should this ‘police job thing’ not work out.

1 Comment

Filed under Comedy, Crime, Newspapers, Politics

Spunky Prince William and the marketing opportunity of a lifetime

“You have to feel sorry for him,” I said to my friend last night.

“No I don’t,” she said.

“But when Prince William was 19 or whatever,” I persisted. “He couldn’t really bonk around indiscriminately like any other airhead student. If he had a one-night stand with someone he didn’t know the background of, she might be more than likely to sell her story to the News of the World or the Sun… You can see the headlines – My Night of Doggie Sex with Wee Prince Willie… There’s some slight chance the British press might not publish it. But she would still get money from American or Italian or German magazines.”

“I suppose so,” my friend agreed grudgingly. “But the problem of Royal sperm is worse.”

“Eh?”

“Royal bastards,” my friend said.

“Ah,” I said. “Yes. I suppose if some one-night stand got pregnant, you couldn’t really suggest an abortion and the birth of a FitzWindsor might get to be a PR problem later on.”

“Then there’s the DNA,” my friend added.

“You could bottle it,” I suggested. “Bottled Royal spunk. I suppose if Monica Lewinsky kept the sperm-stained dress from her President Clinton moment, anyone who had a one-night bonk with a Royal might keep the actual sperm if they could get their hands on the Royal used Durex.”

“You pooh-poohed the whole idea of selling bottled semen last time I suggested it,” my friend complained.

“But that was as a health drink,” I said. “Royal semen would sell in the US.”

“But it’s only 10cc,” my friend said.

“The rarity value would increase the price.”

“How do you get your hands on a Royal willie, though?” my friend asked.

“Indeed,” I sighed. “We’re not going to make our million with this, are we?”

“And it’s not really funny enough for a blog, is it?” my friend said.

“I guess not,” I agreed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comedy, History, Newspapers, Sex

The downside of being a dead celebrity: Liz Taylor, Charlie Drake, Rod Hull, Bob Hope & the Queen Mum

The Queen Mother was 101 years old when she died and she had cost the BBC a fortune by not dying earlier. Her death – codenamed ‘Blackbird’ at ITV where the Transmission Controllers had envelopes containing details of what to do when she did eventually die – was clearly going to be a big news story and her funeral a complicatedly large state event so, to my knowledge, the BBC ran a full rehearsal of her death and coverage of her funeral three times. It cost a fortune.

She must have been well-pissed off when Princess Diana died because everyone was unprepared. There were certainly no plans for Diana to have a big funeral because, at that point, she was not a member of the Royal Family and had no constitutional position. So, when the Royal Family were, in effect, forced by the press and – to my mind – surreal public opinion to give Diana a big fuck-me funeral, they used the plans for the Queen Mother’s funeral.

As a result, the Queen Mother’s funeral itself was a less big-scale anti-climax.

Dying can be difficult at the best of times, but pity the poor celebrity.

Elizabeth Taylor sadly mis-timed her death on Wednesday. On a normal slow news days, she could have expected to be the lead item on TV News bulletins. But it was Budget Day in the UK – economic pundits and bullshitting politicians stretched as far as the eye could see and there were expensive Outside Broadcast and studio links nationwide – plus there was lots of news coming in from Libya and still news report aftershocks from the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear story in Japan, where TV companies had, by now, flown expensive reporters into place and were paying for on-the-spot film crews.

So poor Elizabeth Taylor’s death did not quite get the level of coverage she could have otherwise expected.

This morning, TV scriptwriter Nigel Crowle pointed out to me two slightly bizarre angles to her death.

One was that one of her rivals for the key role in 1944 movie National Velvet – which made her a star – was future Baroness Shirley Williams.

Shirley was pipped at the post by Elizabeth and went on to found the Social Democrat Party while Liz went on to marry Richard Burton twice.

It’s unlikely that, if Shirley had got the role, she would have gone on to marry Richard Burton and Elizabeth would have founded the SDP, but stranger things have happened.

The other odd fact Nigel mentioned is that Elizabeth Taylor’s obituary in the New York Times was written by Mel Gussow who died six years ago.

This is no great surprise – Associated Press wrote the template for Britney Spears’ obituary in 2008.

What does surprise me is that British newspapers seem to have discovered a tone of reverence for Elizabeth Taylor which they never quite gave her in life. Something of a reverse on the situation for dead UK comedian Charlie Drake, who was much cherished during his life.

After his death, veteran TV producer Michael Hurll let rip about Charlie in an interview on the Chortle comedy industry website

Hurll worked with Charlie when he was a holiday camp redcoat: “He was a nasty man then,” Hurll said, “and he stayed a nasty man – a horrible, horrible man”.

Hurll, old enough not to care, went on to call Jerry Lewis (still alive) “a nasty piece of work” and Bob Hope (dead) “the nastiest man I’ve ever worked with”. As for Rod Hull: “He was the most miserable, nastiest man you ever met… Just a horrible, horrible man.”

Dying can be difficult at the best of times, but pity the poor celebrity facing the uncertainties of posthumous reviews.

I still retain memories of reading an Andy Warhol obituary (I can’t remember where) which ended with the climactic words: “He was a short man who wore a wig”.

Ex-gangster ’Mad’ Frank Fraser – not a man to meddle with in life – once told me over a cup of tea that he wasn’t “really frightened of anything but I’m a bit worried what they’ll say about me after I die.”

He seems a very nice chap. He offered me free dental work.

Just don’t ask me about Cilla Black…

5 Comments

Filed under Comedy, History, Movies, Newspapers, Politics, PR, Television