Posts Tagged ‘Private Eye’

Peter Hitchens on Tony Blair’s Stupidity

January 16, 2023

Yeah, I know this ad hominem, but it is funny. Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani interviewed Tory iconoclast Peter Hitchens the other day. The two don’t really have much in common, but Bastani justified the interview saying that if you want to be certain in your political views, you should test them by talking to people who hold the opposite. Hitchen’s is very much a man of the right, and some of his views are odd, if not barking. He believes, for example, that we shouldn’t have gone to war with Germany as it was not in our interests. Perhaps it wasn’t, but we had signed the defence pacts with France and Poland, And if we hadn’t gone to war, I think we would have still lost the empire sooner or later. Plus we would have been excluded from a continent under Nazi domination. And this is not to mention the carnage that would have been perpetrated by the Nazis, with the Jews and Gypsies becoming extinct in Europe, followed by the Czechs and the Slav populations enslaved as peasant farmers supplying produce to their German overlords.

On the other hand, Hitchens has said that he never supported Thatcher’s sale of the council houses or the privatisation of the prison system, because justice, as a principle, should be in the hands of the state. He also states in one of his books that he was shocked into an awareness of how fragile civilisation was after visiting one of the failed African countries as a journalist in the 1980s. The country had descended into vicious gang violence, but walking through its capital Hitchens saw everywhere grand architecture and all the signs of modern corporate development. I think this gives an insight into the basis of his own Tory views. I remember reading in the Spectator years ago that the right-wing philosopher Roger Scruton abandoned the left when he witnessed the rioting in Paris during the 1968 student and workers’ protests. He was alarmed by their ‘anti-civilisational rage’.

Back to the interview, Hitchens described Blair’s spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, as being frightening intelligent. He mentioned people, who really thought for the first few months of Blair’s regime that it was Campbell running the country. He joked that it was probably because of Campbell’s mighty intellect that he was kept away from voters, as he would probably frighten them all away.

But Blair, on the other hand, wasn’t terribly bright and Hitchens doubted that he could have run the country without Campbell. To illustrate his point, he told the story of how he briefly met Blair just before the 1997 election. Blair was in Oxford, travelling in his motorcade. Hitchens was following him by bike, but as the traffic was bad, he got to Blair’s destination before him. After Blair had arrived, he was immediately surrounded by a crowd taking pictures. Hitchens wanted to talk to Blair, and so, after the crowd had finished and dispersed, he walked up to the future Prime Minister. He decided to open the conversation by asking who the crowd were. Blair replied, ‘They’re Brazilians. I’m very popular down there.’

‘Oh, you should learn Portuguese then,’ replied Hitch.

‘What?’

It turned out that Blair thought they spoke Brazilian in Brazil. Hitchens concluded that what Blair really wanted to be was a pop star, and you didn’t need to ascribe any deep ideological motives to him.

There was, nevertheless, an ideological basis to his policies. He was a product of BAP, the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, which was set up by Reagan to influence the rising generation of British politicians from both the Conservatives and Labour. Blair had started out as a supporter of nuclear disarmament, but after going on a BAP-sponsored trip to America and hearing the views of various right-wing think tanks, he came back as an opponent. He was fervently Thatcherite, believing in the superiority of private industry and strongly influenced by the American political system. Private Eye ran several pieces about the American private healthcare and prison companies lining up to donate to New Labour in the hope of getting some of that nationalised action. He took over advisers and staff from private healthcare companies as well as other businesses, and pushed the privatisation of the NHS further than the Tories would have dared. As stupid as he may have been, he set the course for right-wing Labour, and Starmer shows every indication of returning to it.

John Bird and John Fortune Skewer the Iraq Invasion: Yes, It Was All About Oil

January 10, 2023

The satirist and actor John Bird passed away just a week or so ago over Christmas. As well as appearing in the short-lived BBC comedy series Chambers and Absolute Power, he and John Fortune appeared on Bremner, Bird and Fortune on Channel 4 as ‘The Long Johns’, whose satirical dialogues expertly lampooned the rich and powerful. This had the same view Private Eye’s Ian Hislop stated on a radio 4 show some time ago, that satire should also have a serious intent and show what was really going on underneath the surface. It was incisive, witty stuff that revealed the reality behind the fine words uttered by politicians, businessmen and elite bankers to show the greed, double-standards and predatory exploitation underneath. Many of the dialogues had a simple formula. They took turns playing George Parr, who changed his profession to match the topic of the day. One week he could be a general, another an admiral, or a senior civil servant. Other characters included Washington diplomats and the dictator of an anonymous African country, who was happy to see his people mired in starvation and poverty so long as he could take the money from the Chinese building his nation’s infrastructure. The other John would play a journalist interviewing him. The questions would result in bizarre denials from the official, which would show the contradictions in the official’s story or decision and lead to them actually revealing the real reasons for the decision or policy in spite of themselves.

In this piece from 2007, posted on theDossier’s YouTube Channel, the two discuss the-then recent admission by Alan Greenspan, the head of the Federal Reserve in America, that it was embarrassing to have to admit it, but yes, the Iraq invasion really was all about oil. As everyone knew. The official denies that this was the case, pointing out that before the war Blair had passed a resolution stipulating that the oil reserves should stay in Iraqi hands. This was revoked a year later after the war, when Blair passed another resolution saying that the allies should have it for safekeeping or something. As a measure of generosity, the allies allowed the Iraqis to keep 17 oil wells out of a total of 80, and promised to give 20 per cent of the profits from their oil fields to the Iraqi government. Iraq nevertheless contains an extremely large proportion of the world’s oil, whose worth is in the trillions.

The former Guardian journo Greg Palast amply demonstrated in his book, Armed Madhouse, that the Iraq war was an attempt by the American and Saudi oil industries to seize the Iraqi oil fields and their wealth, as well as the Neo-Cons attempting to seize the country’s state industries for America and create the kind of low tax state founded on free trade they wished to see in America. The result was the absolute collapse of the Iraqi economy with soaring bankruptcies and unemployment. Not to mention the chaos and bloodshed caused by the war and the sectarian violence that followed it, and the unrestrained, murderous, Nazi criminality of the private military contractors – read: mercenaries – who were hired by the Americans as part of the peace-keeping forces.

This is political satire at it’s best, and some of the commenters on YouTube have compared Bird and Fortune with the superb BBC comedy, Yes, Minister, which is also still relevant even after all these decades. John Fortune died some years ago, and was much missed, as John Bird will be, for his part in these dialogues. You wonder what they’d have to say about Sunak and the present government. It, and it’s equally incompetent and corrupt predecessors, would have been excellent material for them to send up.

GB News’ Mark Steyn Coming Very Close to Pushing Fascist Conspiracy Theories about Covid Vaccine

January 5, 2023

GB News, the self-proclaimed alternative to the ‘wet, woke BBC’, is in this fortnight’s Private Eye. The broadcaster apparently has overtaken Sky News in ratings, and has taken to pushing stupid, and potentially dangerous conspiracy theories. These include myths that the vaccine doesn’t work, or is responsible for deaths, and that there’s no need for the lockdown. Pretty much staples of the wider right-wing anti-vaxxer fringe. But one of these conspiracy theories comes very close to fascism. Mark Steyn has apparently told his viewers that the coronavirus vaccine is the cause of the falling birthrate in the west of the ‘Aryans’, who built civilisation. Firstly, as the 19th century linguist, who used the term ‘Aryan’ for what are now termed the Indo-European languages, George Muller, it’s a linguist not racial term. A dark-skinned Indian, who speaks Hini or one of the other languages descended from Sanskrit, or an Urdu-speaking Pakistani can both be fairly described as Aryans, because their languages are derived from that introduced by the Aryans, who invaded Indian c. 3000 BC. But both would be targeted by the Nazis over here because of their race. Muller stated quite clearly that conflating Aryan with race was dangerous, and it’s a pity more people didn’t listen to him otherwise the carnage of the Third Reich might have been avoided.

He’s right that the birthrates in the developed west are falling along with the sperm count of western men. This is alarming, as there have been predictions by respectable magazines and newspapers that if it continues, by 2050 half of western men will be considered clinically infertile. No-one really knows the cause of this, but it’s been suggested since the 1990s that a type of plastic, phthallates, may be responsible. Other causes are probably the industrial pollution responsible for the reproductive deformities in amphibians, which Alex Jones notoriously declared were ‘turning the frickin’ frogs gay’. These chemicals are believed to mimic female hormones, hence their damage to those animals. I’ve also seen claims that it’s all due to female hormones from the reproductive pill getting into the biosphere, but I haven’t seen any scientist make this claim. In my opinion, it comes from that part of the right which is anti-feminist and so pro-life as to condemn contraception as well as abortion. I also got the impression that all western men were affected, including Blacks and Asians, and not just Whites.

Steyn’s claims resemble the conspiracy theories that were going around the Black communities in America and possibly apartheid South Africa back in the 90s. These claimed that the government was putting chemicals in Coca-Cola to sterilise young Black men. That was totally wrong, though it was understandable given the persecution of Blacks in both those countries. Steyn’s is a first-world, White version of this. It comes very close to all the stupid and murderous conspiracy theories about the machinations of the Jews to enslave and destroy the White race, although as far as I know Steyn isn’t an anti-Semite.

He is, however, an Islamophobe. About a decade ago he was a partner with late Reaganite bloviator Rush Limbaugh and his radio station out in New Hampshire. Much of the content Steyn put out on his blogs and columns on the internet were attacks on Islam, including some of the weirder rulings made by Iran’s late Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini. He was one of those pushing the ‘Eurabia’ fear. This holds that Muslim birthrates are outstripping those of indigenous European Whites to such an extent that they will become the dominant race and religion and impose sharia law. A friend of mine told me he did some calculations, and that’s simply not going to happen. I don’t doubt that the Muslim population will expand immensely in the next decades, and this will present serious problems if the radicals and Islamists extend their influence over these communities, but it won’t lead to their population overtaking everyone else’s.

Steyn also tried to warn or scare people with the example of Feyenoord in the Netherlands. This is a majority Muslim town where some decades ago the Muslim dominated city council publicly invited the non-Muslim population to convert. I don’t know, but I think their attitude would be unremarkable, perhaps even ordinary in very pious, hardline Muslim countries like Pakistan, where non-Muslims can come under very intense pressure to convert. But obviously in the context of the non-Muslim, secular west, where religion is considered a matter for the individual’s private conscience, it’s totally unacceptable. The problem is, I don’t know how common such political moves by Muslim-controlled local authorities are. As far as I know, it only happened in Feyenoord, although I’m sure that non-Muslims living in solidly Muslim areas are under pressure to conform to their standards of behaviour.

Away from Steyn, the article describes how GB News, like Fox over in the US, threw in their lot with Donald Trump, talking him as US president until it became the ‘MAGA channel’. Their predictions of Trump’s eminent suitability for the Oval Office was definitely born out by the Orange Buffoons massive greed, incompetence and disastrous policies towards blue collar workers – more attacks on their rights, further decimation of their welfare provisions to enrich Trump’s friends and donors, and more outsourcing. As well as attempts to muzzle federal climate and environmental scientists for the benefit of the oil industry. And I could go on.

As for GB News’ attitudes over here, it’s solidly behind Farage and Brexit and resolutely against the welfare state and the NHS. If you’re a member of the working class, GB News is not your friend. But the stupid conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine threaten to do real harm. We’ve already seen instances where people have refused the vaccine, then caught the virus and died. And Steyn’s story about birthrates and ‘Aryans’ threatens to encourage real Nazis and Fascists, who’ll target not just Muslims but Jews.

Simon Webb Reviews Debate Between Patriotic Alternative Fuhrer and Two Black YouTubers

December 31, 2022

Mark Pattie, one of the great commenters on this channel, asked me if I’d seen the video in which Webb debates Mark Collett, the current fuehrer of Patriotic Alternative. I hadn’t, so he kindly provided the link. And now I have. It’s not a long video, just over five and a half minutes long, and isn’t actually a debate, despite its title. It’s Webb’s review of another debate between Collett and two Black YouTubers. And to be fair, Webb actually comes out of it quite well, almost appearing like a normal person of moderate, non-racist views.

The video is a response by him to continued calls by his commenters to debate Collett. They’ve also called on him several times to join the party. Webb begins by saying that he got one of their election leaflets through the post. Patriotic Alternative were planning to stand as a political party and put in candidates to fight seats at the last election. In the event, they neglected to register as a party with the electoral commission, and so couldn’t stand any candidates. But Londoners got their literature anyway. Webb states that it horrified the liberals and papers, but he read their pamphlet and couldn’t see anything outrageous in it. This is probably because Webb shares many of their views and prejudices, and so wouldn’t. I’m reminded of something Millennial Woes posted on his YouTube channel a few years ago. Millennial Woes is a Scots extreme rightist. His videos tend to consist of him sitting in a bathrobe in a darkened room, smoking, reflecting on the decline of the west due to non-White immigration. When the Alt-Right were in vogue a decade or so ago, Woes was one of the speakers at their conference. During it he told the assembled White supremacists that he realised how far he’d left the mainstream when talking to a young man on the train. The guy was intelligent and articulate, and it was a shock to Woes that he still believed the conventional narrative about the Holocaust! This comes from the man, who said his most extreme view was wanting to bring back slavery. It shows how people at the political extremes see their views as normal and inoffensive until suddenly shaken by talking to normal folks.

Webb said that there would be absolutely no chance of Patriotic Alternative winning seats in his area. The BNP tried a few years ago and got absolutely nowhere. And when they did win, they didn’t know anything about the practical business of politics in the council, and so were out at the next election. This is true, and it’s hilarious. According to Private Eye, Derek Beacon and his massive fascist legion elected to Tower Hamlets, all seven of them, didn’t realise that as well as proposing motions before the council, you also had to vote for them. Thus, when surprisingly the council accepted one of their motions for discussion, they didn’t vote for it, assuming it would automatically pass or something. The motion then failed. We are, fortunately, not dealing with men of the calibre of Oswald Mosley. Webb notes that in his area the BNP fielded several candidates, one of which was a Jewish woman. He found this surprising. Unfortunately, it isn’t, not if you read the articles on this by the excellent Tony Greenstein. Greenstein has blogged about how the Board of Deputies of British Jews got very upset with the very respected historian of the Jewish community, Geoffrey Alderman, for including in his study of the community’s history the fact that 2 per cent of the Jewish population had voted for the wretched NF. In London this was because they didn’t want their kids going to school with Blacks. He also notes that one Conservative politico, despite being Jewish himself, used to hobnob at elections with the BNP moaning that it was a pit that the nationalist vote was split between the two parties. There are fascist Jews around, and none of them were supporters of Corbyn, as Starmer and the Jewish Labour Movement would like us all to believe.

Webb goes on to comment that the Black YouTubers were perfectly reasonable, but they had weird, high voices so he found it difficult to listen to them. He doesn’t like Collett, and says that he refuses to debate or have anything to do with him because he blames the Jews for everything, and there are enough people on his site who already think he, Webb, is Jewish. This is because Webb has attacked the various anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, lived in Israel at one point and supports the country, and occasionally wears a necklace with a Hebrew inscription. He states that Collett made quick, chopping motions that reminded him of a little Austrian dictator in the ’30s, and said he could imagine him on a podium screaming ‘Ein Volk! Ein Reich! Ein Fuehrer!’ (One Race/People! One Reich! One Fuehrer), imitating Adolf himself as he did so.

And that’s about it. He describes the electoral incompetence of Patriotic Alternative and the fact that the BNP got absolutely nowhere in his neck of London, doesn’t say anything unpleasant about the Black YouTubers except for the personal comment about squeaky voices, and compares Collett to Hitler, as no doubt many others have done before him. He rejects Collett’s anti-Semitism, and so could even sound an anti-racist liberal. That’s if you weren’t aware of his views on race, and a video he posted today in which he asks if democracy has had its day, and that Britain, and Europe, need a strong leader who will rally them against the threat of militant Islam.

If you want to check the video to see what Webb says for yourself, here it is.

Private Eye Reviews Alex Jones’ Conspiracy Theory Book about the World Economic Forum

December 4, 2022

Things aren’t looking good for Alex Jones, the mad Texan conspiracist theorist behind Infowars. Jones has been using his YouTube channel and website to push some very nasty conspiracy theories about how the world, and especially America, are under attack from ‘the globalists’. These are evil Communist, feminist, trans businesspeople determined to set up some kind of global one-world totalitarian superstate on behalf of evil aliens or demons or whatever. He’s pushed often dangerous nonsense about various prominent and not-so prominent politicians, organisations and ordinary people. He claimed that Barack Obama was the anti-Christ, and was going to use the laws providing for government action in emergencies to force everybody into FEMA camps to enslave Americans. Hilary Clinton was also Satanic, and was some kind of cyborg or robot, at least from the waist down. She was also impregnated with the spawn of some demon or alien or mixture of the two. Quite often this stuff was just so over the top that it’s the subject of ridicule and laughter rather than alarm, as when he claimed that they were putting stuff in the water that was turning the frickin’ frogs gay. But often it wasn’t, and the effects of his rants were dangerous and distressing to their targets. One example is when he claimed that a Boston pizza parlour contained a dungeon, in which children were being kept, to supply to leading Democrat politician to abuse. It was a complete lie, but it resulted in a gunman walking in to free the captive children. After being shown round the business and persuaded that there was no dungeon and no abused children, he put down his gun and gave himself up to the cops. It’s a mercy no-one was killed. Jones has been hit by a judgement for $1 billion in damages for libelling the parents of the schoolchildren killed in the Sandy Hook massacre. Jones had claimed that the school shooting hadn’t really occurred and had just been staged in order to provide a pretext for the government to deprive Americans of their precious guns. The grieving parents were just ‘crisis actors’. The result was years of harassment by people, who had bought this offensive nonsense. They sued, the beak has found in their favour, and now Jones is crying that he’s bankrupt as a result. ‘Oh dear. How sad. Never mind’, as Sergeant-Major Shutup from It Ain’t ‘Alf Hot Mum used to say.

Jones has published a book, in which he attacks the World Economic Forum and its leader, Klaus Schwab, now the target of right-wing conspiracy theories about shadowy organisations trying to create the one-world superstate. Private Eye reviewed it in last fortnight’s edition for 18th November to 1st December 2022. And they very definitely weren’t impressed. This is what they had to say about it

Toxic Schlock

The Great Reset and the War for the World

Alex Jones

According to Alex Jones, the gravel-voiced US conspiracy-monger, the world is facing a “Great Reset”. That reset is, he writes, an attempt by a shady cabal of internationalists “to achieve an unprecedented amount of control over your daily life.” To make sure he has the reader’s undivided attention, Jones warns that the whole thing “is a war to control the future of human development and capture control of the human species.”

These evil internationalists are, according to Jones, a group of technocrats and money men who have swilled around the world stage for the last 80 or so years. These evil plotters have names such as Kissinger, Rockefeller, Yuval Noah Hariri and Soros (and yes, there is an unfortunate pattern to those names. Between them, these men have spawned and sustained a new global elite, at the centre of which is the World Economic Forum at Davos.

For anyone lucky enough to be invited, Davos is essentially as piss-up0 in a posh ski resort. Jones’ view is somewhat different. The man who runs the thing, Karl Schwab, may look like a common-or-garden egghead but, we learn, he is in fact a very evil egghead, bent on global destruction. “Schwab and his Davos gang are interested in wiping out every one of the previously existing social structures that have guided the development of countries and nations,” says Jones.

He quotes from one of Schwab’s books, singling out a passing reference to “more agile forms of governance”. The phrase sends Jones into a horrified tizzy. “What are these ‘more agile forms of governance’?” he demands to know. “Summary execution by firing squad without the demand of a trial?”

The globalists have no moral centre, says Jones, and seeing as “God was the original insurrectionist”, it is up to every decent, freedom-loving citizen to stand up to the evil Davos cabal. They will take away your cars and your petrol, restrict your food supply, invent fake pandemics, lock you in your home, turn all money into digital tokens so your bank accounts can be frozen and — oh but this book is just so exhausting. So, so exhausting.

If you have not heard of the author, lucky you. A preposterous, ranting fatso, Jones is from the internet’s nether regions. Essentially a man with a website – the idiotically named “Infowars” – he’s made his reputation by parping out a vast, toxic guff-cloud of paranoid nonsense about lefty plots. This book is a distilled version of his bizarre world view, in which every government employee is a Hitler, anyone who wants to improve society is a fascist and our future will consist of “Karl Schwab, or his downloaded brain, giving us all orders from his laptop.”

Jones, then, is a maniac. As nice as it would be to pull the lever and flush him into the septic tank of history, he is not so easy to dismiss. A glimpse at the back cover of this book reveals a set of glowing endorsements. “If Alex Jones is just a crackpot,” one reads, “why are the most powerful people in the country trying to silence him?” It continues: “Maybe Alex Jones is onto something.”

That glowing endorsement comes from Tucker Carlson, the star turn on Fox News (prop: Rupert Murdoch). Jones, you see, has powerful fans who’ve noticed the sizeable, Trumpy audience he’s built. They want to keep him onside.

The quote now looks somewhat embarrassing for Carlson – and Murdoch. For years, Jones promoted a vile conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook shooting, during which 26 people were murdered, most of them small children, had been faked. The grieving parents were actors, he said, and the whole thing had been staged to justify a left-wing attack on people’s gun rights. The parents sued and won. The court ordered Jones to pay damages of $1bn. That amount could rise farther.

So Alex, it turns out, is not “onto something”, and no one in their right mind should touch him, his website or this book with a bargepole. But this deranged nonsense does serve one purpose. It is a warning. The Americans are in the midst of a culture war, stoked by odious loudmouths like Jones and his buddy Carlson. The results include an increase in social division, the 6 January Capitol riots and a delusional young man attacking Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer.

There are people in the current Westminster government and on Fleet Street, who have flirted with the culture war – some even whipping off their undies and hopping straight into bed with it. But as this book makes clear, culture war, with its “us-and-them” rhetoric, is an attack on the stuff that holds societies together. As someone once nearly said: trying to win a culture war is like to trying to win and earthquake. Britain should stay well clear.’ (p. 30).

The problem is that there are real issues threatening freedom in the west and around the world. This includes governments and big corporations harvesting personal information from the internet, including our purchases, and using electronic banking to track the way we move our money. Corporations and clandestine interest groups really do exist and attempt to lobby governments to their own ends. The conspiracy magazine Lobster has been documenting all this for years.

Jones and his nonsense points people away from these real threats and replaces them with dangerous fascistic nonsense.

More Sketches of Geniuses of British Comedy: Bob Monkhouse, Rod Hull, Emu, and their Victim Michael Parkinson

November 25, 2022

Bob Monkhouse is, in my opinion, one of the very great figures of late 20th century and early 21st century British comedy. He was not just a comedian, but also game show compering some of the nation’s favourite shows. I can remember him from the early or mid ’70s compering The Golden Shot, for those that can remember that far back. The contestants had to give instructions to blindfolded marksman, Bernie the Bolt to get him to aim a crossbow at a target. If he got it, they won the prize money. I can still hear the words, ‘Up a bit, left a bit…’ and so on. I don’t know if Monkhouse took over from someone else, but there are clips of it on YouTube with a Black presenter with a broad Yorkshire accent. Later on, in the 1980s he presented Family Fortunes. He was asked in one interview what the worse moment from the show was. He replied that it was when one contestant kept replying to each question, ‘Christmas turkey?’ This led to exchanges like ‘What item would you take to the beach on holiday?’ ‘A Christmas turkey’. ‘Interesting answer. We’ll see. Our survey said. -‘ and then the buzzer to indicate that the people surveyed definitely had not replied that they would take a Christmas turkey to the beach’. Monkhouse asked the poor fellow afterwards what happened. He said that he didn’t know, his mind just went blank. In the ’90s or early years of this century he started to come back after a period when he was off camera. I think this followed an appearance on Have I Got News For You, where he displayed his wit. Actually, I think he had scriptwriters with him handing him gags, or perhaps I’m confusing him with another comedian and entertainer whose career was revived by the show.

Monkhouse began his career away from the camera, writing jokes for other comedians and children’s comics. In an interview with the popular science magazine, Focus, he recalled how he nearly created Star Trek. He had been a science fiction fan, and so had an idea about a spaceship, called ‘Enterprise’, whose captain was a Scotsman called Kirk. Ah, that would have been interesting. He also gave praise to the other comedians he believed deserved it for their skill. One on series about various TV comedians, he described Jimmy Carr as ‘the comedians’ comedian’. But that phrase could also easily describe him. He was acutely interested in other comedians and the craft of comedy itself. In the 1980s he had his own show at about 7.30 in the evening, in which he interviewed comedians he admired from Britain and America. One of them, if I recall rightly, was our own Les Dawson. His house was also full of old film and clips of past comedians. He died of prostate cancer a few years. After his death one of the TV channels broadcast his farewell show, with commenters from other comedians. They said they didn’t realise how terribly ill Monkhouse was at the time, and that he was saying ‘goodbye’ to them. Another great comedian lost to us.

Rod Hull and Emu – another brilliant comedy act taken from us by the Grim Reaper. Hull said he was inspired to create Emu while watching a nature programme in New Zealand. This may have shown the country’s national bird, the Kiwi, another flightless bird rooting around on the forest floor. Or it may have shown Australia’s great flightless bird, the emu. Either way, the bird inspired Hull to create this avian monster of children’s television. It was the most terrifying puppet not to come out of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, though some cruel individuals may detect a certain resemblance to the villainous Skeksis in the film The Dark Crystal. Whatever its inspiration, Emus temperament was more like the 12-foot carnivorous Terror Birds that lived after the demise of the dinosaurs. Hull and Emu had a variety of children’s programmes. I remember him from E.B.C. 1 – ‘Emu’s Broadcasting Company’ with Billy Dainty on BBC 1, and then he moved over to ITV and Emu’s World. On E.B.C., Hull and Emu attempt to perform pieces from the Bard, complete with Emu wearing an Elizabeth cap. I also remember a recurring segment where Dainty, another great performer in his own right, dressed in Edward strongman long johns, tried to give advice on getting fit. This was introduced by the 20th Jazz song, ‘Keep fit, take exercise, get fit, and you’ll be wise, whatever you do, keep fit’. The music that introduced the Shakespeare segment, I later found out, was the 16th century German Mohrentanz, played on shawms and crumhorns. Emus also did weather forecasts, which were introduced by the jingle, ‘Weather, weather, all together, what’s it going to do? We don’t know, and so let’s ask, weatherman Emu.’ In addition to his own programmes, he also appeared as a guest on others, most notorious on Parkinson.

Emu’s style of comedy was pure, anarchic slapstick, whether he was on his own programmes or a guest on a chat show. These performances usually started off calmly, with Hull talking quietly and the puppet behaving itself on his arm. If they were being interviewed, Emu would act docile, snuggling up to the interviewer to be stroked. ‘There, he likes that’, Hull would say approvingly. Then it would start to go wrong, the beak would curl up in a snarl and before long Hull, his guest star or the interviewer would be savagely attacked by the thing’s beak, all with Hull screaming, ‘No, Emu! No!’ This would often end up with the three struggling on the floor while the set collapsed around them in a heap of overturned furniture. Emu was a force of pure chaos, bringing down televisual order. And hilariously funny. But it wasn’t all laughs. I can remember my grandmother telling me I was not to get like him with the sock puppets I made, as Hull had admitted he couldn’t control it. I don’t know if that was true, or another reworking of the old fear about ventriloquists and their dummies. I think Emu was also like Sherlock Holmes as the artist’s creation its creator would like to kill off and move away from but couldn’t because of the characters’ immense popularity. Hull himself was sadly taken from us in a domestic accident. He fell off his roof trying to fix his TV aerial.

I couldn’t sketch Rod Hull and the monstrous bird without also including his most famous victim, the chat show host Michael Parkinson. Parkinson’s show, simply called Parkinson, was one of the mainstays of British television. Parkinson interviewed a number of great and famous stars, like Oliver Reed and Mohammed Ali. And then he had the misfortune to interview, and get assaulted, by Emu. This incident has gone down as a piece of broadcasting history. It became so notorious that it was included in a skit in Private Eye commemorating Parkinson being given an honorary degree or doctorate from one of the universities. Whenever a celebrity, actor, sportsman or whoever, is awarded one of these honorary qualifications, the Eye prints a piece celebrating it in Latin, with the title ‘The …. Laudation In Full’. The Latin is easily understood, recognisable from the Latin vocabular in English. The Parkinson laudatio mentioned his interview with pugilist Mohammed Ali, before adding ‘assaultam cum Emu, avis horribilis. Ave, Emu, salutamus Emu, laudamus Emu’. Or words to that effect. Parkinson had his revenge a few years later when he appeared on Room 101. Parkinson naturally wanted Emu to be consigned to the room containing everything rubbish and terrible in the world. He was obliged when Emu was brought on in a miniature guillotine. Parkinson naturally threw the switch or pulled out the block, and one of children’s television’s most comically terrifying puppets was beheaded, with Parkinson shaking his head as if he couldn’t quite work out whether this was appropriate or not.

2000AD and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Artist Kevin O’Neill Dies Aged 69

November 9, 2022

I was saddened to learn of the death on Monday of Kevin O’Neill, one of the great British comics artists behind many of the favourite strips in 2000AD over here and DC Comics and other publishers in America. O’Neill was the co-creator, with writer Pat Mills, of the Robusters, ABC Warriors and Nemesis the Warlock strips in 2000 AD, the galaxy’s greatest comic. Robusters was about a robot disaster squad, led by Hammerstein, an old war droid, and Rojaws, a foul-mouthed sewer robot, who formed a kind of double act. The squad was owned by the dictatorial Howard Quartz, alias ‘Mr 10 Per Cent’, because after some kind of disaster, only ten per cent of him – his brain – was still human, housed in a robot body. The penalty for failure or simply upsetting the boss was destruction, and the pair were always on the verge of being pulled apart by the sadistic but thick robot bulldozer, Mekquake. ABC Warriors was a continuation of Hammerstein’s adventures, first in a world war against the Volgan Republic, and then on Mars and a far future Earth, as the leader of an elite squad of robots dedicated to fighting evil. Nemesis the Warlock was a weird sword and sorcery strip set in the far future. The surface of the Earth had become a devastated wasteland and humanity had retreated underground. Renamed Termight, short for ‘Mighty Terra’, it was a medieval society ruled by an evil order of warriors, the Terminators, that hated and feared intelligent alien. Led by their Grand Master, Torquemada, Earth regarded such aliens as demonic and waged a war of extermination against them. O’Neill’s art, which is angular and geometric, was suitably Gothic and horrific, creating a nightmare variety of alien creatures. His art was so horrific, in fact, that later, when he was working on the Green Lantern Corps, a superhero comic for DC, it put the wind up the Comics Code Authority. This had been founded in the 1950s during the moral panic over comics. It was supposed to judge whether or not a comic was suitable to be read by children. Although it was supposedly voluntary, in fact all children’s comics had to be submitted to the Authority as otherwise the mainstream newsagents over there wouldn’t carry them. The writer, Alan Moore, who also created the cult strip about a future Fascist Britain, V For Vendetta, took the unusual step of contacting the Authority. Would the comic get approved if various changes were made? No, they replied. It wasn’t the strip’s story; it was the artwork. It was totally unsuitable for children. This became something of a source of pride and amusement to O’Neill and the other creators at 2000 AD. So grim was his art that rumours started circulating that he had an occult temple in his basement and drew only at night. These were completely false. On the other hand, a fan once told his fellow 2000 AD artist, Dave Gibbons, that O’Neill’s art gave him nightmares which he could only cure by looking a Gibbons. When O’Neill wasn’t traumatising people with his serious strips, he made them laugh with Dash Descent, a parody of the old Flash Gordon serials. He also drew the Tharg’s Future Shocks strip which a court later ruled had been plagiarised by the film maker Richard Stanley for the film Hardware. This was set in a decaying city in which a scavenger in the radiation deserts finds and brings back the remains of an experimental war robot, the B.A.A.L. His artist girlfriends reassembles it and it then goes off on a frenzy of killing. Hardware is a cult film, which stands up even now, three decades after it was made. Highlights include cameo appearances by Lemmy, as a water taxi driver, and the voice of Iggy Pop as a radio announcer. It’s just a pity Stanley didn’t work out a deal with 2000 AD first. He also contributed in other, minor ways to the comic. He created the look of Tharg, the comic’s alien editor from the star Betelgeuse, and introduced the credit cards telling readers who the writer, artist and letterer were, quite against the publisher’s policy. But this allowed the people, who actually created the strips, to gain the proper recognition and respect for their work.

O’Neill left 2000 AD for work with the American comics companies. He and writer Pat Mills created Metalzoic for DC. This was another robot strip, set on a far future Earth where an ecology of robot animals had developed and taken over, and followed the adventures of a tribe of robot ape men and the human woman they had rescued. It still is one of my favourite strips, but sadly flopped, though it was later reprinted in 2000 AD. O’Neill was far more successful with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, written by Alan Moore. This had the idea that the great figures of 19th and early 20th century SF, Fantasy and Horror – Alan Quatermaine, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde, Captain Nemo and Dorian Grey – had formed a kind of superhero group. It was filmed with Sean Connery as Quatermaine. Back to causing gleeful mayhem, O’Neill and Mills created the violent, nihilistic Marshal Law. This was an adult comic set in a near future San Francisco. Devastated by an earthquake, the city was renamed San Futuro, and plagued by warring superhero gangs. The superheroes had been created to fight in a war in South America. As a result, many of the survivors had returned to America mentally and physically scarred, some turning to violent crime. Law was the member of a small anti-superhero squad, moved by a deep hatred of superheroes. He uttered phrases like ‘They say I hate superheroes. They’re wrong. Hatred is far too bland a word for the way I feel about them’ and ‘I’m hunting heroes. I haven’t found any yet’. Mills hates superheroes and has very left-wing politics and poured that into the strip. It commented on recent developments in genetic engineering and the patenting of GMOs, insane CIA plans to overthrow Fidel Castro and other South American left-wing regimes and how America trained the sadistic torturers for the continent’s Fascist dictators. There was also an overt feminist critique of the genre and the fictional glamorisation of the real horrors of war. The Marshal’s opponents were vicious parodies of various superheroes. Despite its grim premise, it was a hilarious strip, although the humour was pitch-black. It was too much for one publisher, however, and moved from one to another. It has now been collected into a single album, although sadly without the crossover strip featuring the Marshal fighting Pinhead from Hellraiser.

Outside of comics, O’Neill apparently published his own fanzine, Just Imagine: The Journal of Film and Television Special Effects. I also remember him being credited in Starlog for designing the aliens in the Disney film, Return to Witch Mountain.

I met O’Neill extremely briefly at the UKCAC 90 comics convention, 32 years ago. From what I can remember, he was a short, slightly built chap in a T-shirt championing solidarity with Nicaragua, whose left-wing regime was under attack by the brutal Contras funded by Reagan and Thatcher. He was drawing people’s favourite characters for them on badges supplied by the convention’s organisers. But he was an amazing artist, producing very high-quality drawings in a blur of speed. There are a series of videos of him speaking at various comics conventions about Nemesis, Marshal Law and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where he appears as short, jolly fellow with a great sense of humour, chortling over the daft incidents he’s experienced during his career.

In a separate interview, also on YouTube, Alan Moore commented on his art, praising him as one of the greatest British artists of all time. Moore remarks that O’Neill’s celebrated for his robots and aliens, but not for his humans. But Moore considers that he is brilliant depicter of humans as grotesques, and in that sense is one of the best artists since Hogarth. It sounds like something that should go in Private Eye’s ‘Pseud’s Corner’, but in my opinion it’s absolutely correct. Particularly as Hogarth produced sequential art himself as the kind of precursor of comics. I strongly believe that comics artists, or at least the very best, are insufficiently appreciated. I think they can be as good as serious fine artists. Way back in the 90s I submitted a piece to one of the art magazines arguing that comics artists like O’Neill and Jack Kirby were artists, whose styles meant that they should receive the same appreciation as those of the Soviet austere style, Francis Bacon and H.R. Giger. The Nemesis the Warlock strip had scenes of pure body horror. In one of the two precursor strips that launched the character, Killerwatt, Nemesis and Torquemada chase each other down the teleport wires, in which people are transported electrically similar to the telephone. At one point they have to cross the Sea of Dead Souls, a nightmare morass caused when a gooney bird, a massive mechanical bird, sat on the wires. Those unfortunate enough to be there when it happened are turned into a mass of hugely distorted body parts, such as giant feet with eyes. It resembles the scene of the ‘shunt’ in the 80s horror movie, Society, where members of America’s elite class are portrayed as predators who can twist and distort their bodies into any shape whatsoever. The Shunt is an orgy in which they melt down into a similar morass of bodies to feed off tramps and other members of the lower orders. Society’s a great film if you like that kind of ‘orror, but came out a few years after Mills and O’Neill got there first.

There have been a number of great obituaries for him at Bleedingcool and on 2000 AD’s website. These give the reactions and messages of grief and appreciation from the other comics creators. The 2000 AD page gives a full potted biography and examples of his truly amazing artwork.

RIP great man. May your art continue to shock, amaze, amuse and inspire.

Kevin O’Neill 1953 – 2022

https://bleedingcool.com/comics/kevin-oneill-the-man-the-comics-code-tried-to-ban-has-died-at-69/

In Memoriam: Comic Artist Kevin O’Neill 1953 – 2022

American Transpeople Joining Gun Clubs Against the Coming ‘Trans Genocide’

November 8, 2022

This is both weird and alarming. Karen Davis is a gender critical Black American woman, who gives her critique of the trans cult and its excesses on her vlog, ‘You’re Kidding, Right?’ on YouTube. She’s a musician and a music teacher. I think she teaches special children. She’s also been a care worker in a social club for schizophrenics. She has an excellent grasp of the medical literature and frequently cites relevant papers on the damaging side-effects of puberty blockers, gender transition surgery and the mental and physical differences between the sexes that persist despite the surgery and hormone treatment. She’s an important voice in the debate, but I deliberately haven’t posted her here. This is because she has very strong and uncompromising views, expressed in similarly strong language. And I don’t want to offend any of my readers unnecessarily.

Yesterday, however, she made a couple of posts reporting a very alarming development. It seems some American transpeople have worked themselves up into such a state of fear over an imagined coming genocide that they’re joining a set of gun clubs, ‘The Pink Pistols’, set up by gay people in the early 2000s in order to teach them to shoot in order to protect themselves. This came out when she was talking about the reaction among some trans people to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ passage of a law in Florida banning gender treatment for minors. This forbade doctors and clinicians from putting trans-identifying children on puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones or surgery. This is important, as gender surgeons have been performing mastectomies on girls as young as 12. DeSantis is a Republican, and while I generally despise the Republican party, I think he’s done the right thing about this. Children are way too young to be able to make responsible decisions about such life-changing medical treatment. After all, we don’t allow kids of 12 to buy tobacco or alcohol, and over here they can’t buy glue at that age. It’s also the case that 65-85 per cent of children with gender confusion actually grow out of it, usually settling down as gay men or women. There’s real concern among part of the gay community that gender reassignment surgery is being used by homophobic parents as a kind of gay conversion therapy. If this is the case, then it’s as nasty as the historic gay conversion techniques involving electric shocks, isolation, starvation, sleep deprivation and other sadistic tortures. I don’t doubt that there are some people who really need trans therapy and medical treatment, but there are also very many who don’t and for whom it is inappropriate and damaging.

The people on one of the trans chatrooms visited by Davies, however, interpreted DeSantis’ legislation as the first steps towards the trans holocaust. One poster, InnocenceClaire, said that she was having fantasies of killing people. Her partner was in the navy, and she was concerned about having to shoot members of the US military when the state openly began killing trans people. She was also thinking of emigrating to Canada. Someone then suggested she join Pink Pistols, which is the subject of a further vlog post by Davies.

Okay, I’m very definitely someone who believes very strongly in gun licensing and restrictions on firearms possession. But I honestly don’t blame gay Americans for setting up their own gun clubs considering the violent persecution gays have suffered and still do in some quarters. Western society is much more tolerant now than it was when I was growing up. But I’ve been told by American friends that even though homosexuality has been legalised at the federal level, many individual states continue to have laws against homosexuality. And I don’t doubt either that transpeople get their share of abuse and violence. While drag has been part of British pantomime and the Music Hall tradition since the 19th century, it was illegal for ‘men to walk about in the clothes of the opposite sex for immoral purposes’, as the act put it. I don’t know when it was legalised. One of the gobbets we had to read in a book intended to help young people navigate their way into adulthood in RE when I was at school was about a young transvestite bloke in prison. In the 90s Private Eye in its ‘Funny Old World’ column published the obituary of an older transvestite, who had been frequently up before the beak. And the violence and abuse against trans people was covered in the small press magazine Aeon – the Magazine of Transkind. One of the great commenters here has posted a link to a BBC report on the abuse a transwoman received from a mob after an ambulance arrived to take her to hospital in this country.

But from what I can tell, most of the violence, abuse and threats of violence in this controversy come from trans rights activists, who may not be trans themselves, against gender critical feminists. Maria Maclachlan of the ‘Peak Trans’ vlog was the victim of one assault. A feminist protest in Spain against that country’s new gender identification laws had to be abandoned because of the menacing mood of the trans counterprotesters. There has been a lot of argy-bargy from the trans activists at the rallies Kelly-Jay Keen has held in Britain, including Bristol and Brighton. One of the trans rights activists there set off a smoke bomb and another was arrested with a bag of knives. Keen is on a campaign tour of America. She wanted to speak in Portland, but received hostile, threatening messages and was told by the cops that they wouldn’t be able to protest her. She wisely called it off. Now there have been social media posts smearing her as a member of the Proud Boys. Similar threats and attacks have happened to others. There was outrage a couple of weeks ago when Fred Sargent, a senior member of the American gay community and a veteran of the Stonewall riots, was knocked to the ground at a Pride march and had coffee poured on him because he was carrying a banner stating that transwomen weren’t women. And there were any number of posts on Twitter by people posting about how TERFs – Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists – were fascists and Nazis and should be killed.

In fact, the violence actually suffered by transpeople in Britain in America is small. I think in Britain three trans people were killed a couple of years ago, and there have fortunately been no more murdered since. According to Davis, 36 trans people have been killed in the Land of the Free this year. That’s obviously 36 too many, but it’s a tiny number compared to the 1,800 women murdered by their parents, often after they’ve given birth. Gender critical feminists aren’t fascists and there no trans holocaust.

I am not saying this to vilify transpeople, only to make the point that there are parts of that milieu that is violent and abusive. My fear is that this section of the trans community will tool itself up with firearms and bring them to demonstrations, like other armed groups. I can remember a couple of years ago when a militia group turned up to face down Black Lives Matter protesters. There was a stand-off, but mercifully no-one was shot. My fear is that some trans protesters equipped with firearms won’t exercise similar restraint, not if they really believe that TERFs are Nazis. And that would be a catastrophe. Apart from the loss of the life, many gays and transpeople are afraid that the militancy and extremism of the trans rights movement will provoke a backlash against all of them. That could very well come true if someone is shot at a rally. I really hope cooler heads prevail.

For further information, see the posts ‘MTFs ARM IN RESPONSE TO FLORIDA MOVE TO PROTECT KIDS’ and ‘FEMALE IMPERSONATORS GET GUNS WHILE REAL WOMEN GET KILLED’

Sketch of Truss, Kwarteng, Coffey and Friend

October 12, 2022

I made this sketch of the three leading Tories yesterday with a view to drawing a satirical version of them all later on. The figures underneath them is the Butterball cenobite from Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. I included him because I thought there was a certain similarity to Coffey. I based the picture of Truss from a photograph of her on the cover of last week’s Private Eye, which showed her in a pose that truly suggested she was wide-eyed and bonkers. She doesn’t always appear like that, obviously, but she’s still pretty bonkers.

The Pretentious Prose of David Evans

August 13, 2022

I found this prize extract from a speech from the New Labour general secretary in Private Eye’s ‘Pseud’s Corner’ for 2nd – 16th September 2021.

‘… Labour will work ‘collaboratively’ in ‘multidisciplinary teams'[, which will ‘adopt a product-mindset using agile ceremonies, be empowered to make decisions and encouraged to focus on protyping, deployment and iteration.’

Labour List reporting on presentation made by the party’s general secretary DAVID EVANS’.

There used to be an award, the Gobbledygood Award, for awful writing of this sort. They were giving prizes for the worst examples of incomprehensible and meaningless verbiage in order to encourage organizations to writer more clearly. This extract says so much about the general mindset of New Labour. It uttered management-speak claptrap in order to make itself sound dynamic, language that had absolutely no connection to ordinary people and their fears and aspirations. Pretty much like New Labour itself.