The Journey South with Captain Farage. Nigel’s diary of the great March to Leave – exclusive

We arrive in Sunderland. Just one night here before we crack on to London in the morning. I have chosen Tice, Hoey and Jenkyns as my team to make the final long march south. The world is watching. We rest up in our hotel. The restaurant is perfectly decent – a good wine list and the filet mignon isn’t too shabby.

I’ve always loved roughing it.

sunderland
The view of Sunderland from my bedroom window

6.50 a.m.

Dawn breaks over Sunderland but as we set out for the rendezvous point news reaches us that the Remoaners are also marching on London. It is now a race to the South.

The world’s press greet us.

“Good luck in this!” The nice man from Russia Today bids us politely “our President Vladimir Putin stand behind you as you bring about destruction of the EU and West – he give you our personal warm wish”.

Such a refreshing change from the ghastly BBC who clearly think this important and significant expedition is a joke! The MSM would like nothing more than for our voices to be ignored…… as I say every time they invite me on to one of their shows – or in my nightly broadcasts on LBC.

Soon we are marching along a well paved footpath – just next to the A19.

farage
A well earned drink after the gruelling first day

8.45 a.m.

The sky and surface merge into a great sea of paleness as Hoey witters on about her cats and Tice stares forlornly into the distance muttering “I thought more people would turn out” over and over again. We are joined for the first leg of the trip by a man who introduces himself as Chris819173 from Blackburn. He seems to think I should know who he is ‘from twitter’. Apparently I once liked one of his tweets. He seems harmless enough and offers me a sip from the large bottle of Strongbow he’s carrying.

I politely decline and ask him if he’s met Hoey. But neither seems interested in speaking to the other.

Then he produces an enormous crusader helmet from a bag and pops it on his head.

Good chap!

chris
Chris819173 takes a well earned rest

10 a.m.

After a mile or so in the pelting rain Jenkyns starts to complain about a stone in her shoe and we are forced to seek shelter in a bus stop while she empties her boot.

“Come on Jenkyns! This is a race now!” I cry. “Can’t let the Remoaners win”. I also have a luncheon appointment at 12 and the reservation can’t be moved.

Chris819173 is further slowing our progress. As Jenkyns tries to get her boot back on, he starts banging his helmet against the shelter and shouting about Soros and Tim Farron. We can’t hear exactly what he is saying on account of the helmet.

Tice helps Chris pull it off while Hoey tells us about the time she went on holiday with Andy Wigmore.

“Such a gentleman” she says “always opens the door for you”.

“I’m just going into the bushes” Chris819173 interrupts, to the relief of all “I may be gone some time”.

It’s an extraordinarily noble gesture.

I quickly gather the rest of our party together and move on. Chris819173 has sacrificed himself for the greater good of my luncheon plans – much as millions of ordinary Brexiters have – and it is important that we honour his selflessness by getting away from him as quickly as possible. Jenkyns still hasn’t got her boot on and Hoey is trying to tell me about the time her cat Freddy “the cheeky one” fell through the roof of a shed and broke some pots.

By God! This is an awful place.

11 a.m.

“How much further is it?” I demand of Tice as we go up a slight incline.

“Just another 280 miles!” He shouts over the din of the rain and people shouting “fuck off you pointless twats” from their car windows.

“Not to London! To the rendezvous point where I am getting picked up by a bus”.

Tice stares at me incredulously, Hoey is now talking about “Arthur” and the funny things he does with string – she tries to show me photos on her phone despite the unrelenting torrent. And then – to my horror – I see Chris819173 emerging from the bushes 300 yards behind us. He’s lost his trousers and his pants and is shouting about the Rothschilds while swigging his cider.

“Run!” I order – and we pick up the pace – despite Jenkyns still not having put her boot on. Somehow Chris is gaining on us even as we wheeze along the path.

And then – just as all hope seems to be lost I spot the coach.

Thank God.

I climb aboard – and give a hearty wave to the rest of the team as I am driven away. Chris819173 has managed to climb onto the bumper but a couple of sharp turns later and he has ‘rejoined the march.’

They know I will be back and that my heart is with them as they go. In the meantime – God Speed – and onwards to lunch!

lunch
Don’t worry – I made it in time for lunch

To be continued……..

Satirical content – as told to Otto English

How “Project Fear” weaponises stupidity.

Wednesday brought a slough of doom and economic gloom to the scant Brexit smorgasbord. Treasury impact analysis was released that indicated that in a ‘worst case scenario’ withdrawal could cut the UK’s GDP by 3.9% over the next 15 years and Chancellor Philip Hammond set off on an eeyorish tour of TV and radio studios reiterating again and again that in every outcome quitting the EU would leave the UK economy poorer.

That’s the Chancellor of the Exchequer telling you that he and his government are actively pursuing a policy which they believe will be detrimental to the economic well-being of our nation.

To lighten the mood – Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, chipped in warning that Brexit and in particular a ‘worst case’ (those words again) no deal Brexit – would cause unemployment to rise, house prices to fall and quite possibly plunge the UK into the worst economic crisis in modern history.

“Fun, fun, fun!” as the Beach Boys so memorably sang.

The news went down in Brexit circles like an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis on a luxury cruise. Lacking the arguments to counter the report findings, the Brexiteers deployed ‘old faithful’ or ‘project fear’ as it is better known. Sensing perhaps that “PF” had grown a little stale, the trope was upgraded to ‘project hysteria’ and Rees-Mogg and chums spluttered their way around Westminster casting aspersions on Mr Carney, his CV, Canada, people called Mark and the use of numbers in general.

Those with long memories will recall that ‘Project Fear’ was first deployed in the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, but it only really came into its own during the EU campaign of 2016. It is (and it pains me to say it) in many ways a brilliant campaigning strategy because it weaponises ignorance. Anyone can deploy ‘Project Fear’ for the simple reason that you don’t need to know or understand anything if you have ‘project fear’ in your arsenal.

“But this detailed expert analysis shows….”

project fear
Now THAT is Project Fear

“Look!!!! He’s using PROJECT FEAR!!!!”

“But WTO rules will mean hard borders and leave food rotting in containers on both sides of the Channel.”

“Project Fear!!!! Project Fear!!!”

“Look do you really have any idea of what this will do to the pound, your ability to travel, the food on your plate, the value of your home…?”

“Listen to him! What does he know? Did he predict 2008? The ERM? The euro??? I don’t think so. We are sick of experts! Project Fear!”

Far easier to shout ‘Project Fear!’ than to dig into some boring article that lays out the fairly credible economic risks of May’s proposals or the very obvious folly of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. And so you hear it used as near constant background noise. “Is this all just Project Fear Mark 2?” LBC’s Iain Dale and his ilk ask listeners who phone in to tell him that yes it is.

But it is the depressing regularity with which ‘Project Fear’ is deployed by politicians that should perhaps worry us the most. It’s lazy enough when used by journalists but when trotted out by the ERG rump it becomes a smoke screen and a decoy. Far too often they get away with it because broadcast journalists give it a wink, a nudge and a free pass. That is very dangerous indeed. As the UK drives, foot on accelerator, headlong into the brick wall of March 29th – all the shouts of ‘Project Fear’ in the world won’t make up for our collective lack of a seatbelt.

Trollasaurus Brexitanicus – a definitive glossary of Brexit/Libertarian/alt-right twitter terms

Since posting the original list I have been sent dozens of suggestions which I have naturally plagiarised and incorporated in here. You can see the sources under my original tweet and my thanks to everyone who contributed. To friends, foes and sparring partners I’d like to say that there are lots and lots of centerist and left wing phrases and tropes that are ripe for satirising and I would encourage anyone wanting to compile that list to do so – I’ll even link to it if you get in first.

Meanwhile and without further delay here is Otto English’s Trollasaurus Brexitanicus:


All views my own

I’m a racist


Anti-halal

Never met a Muslim but seen them in The Express


Anti-FGM campaigner

Racist who doesn’t like women


Anti-PC

Racist who watches Roy Chubby Brown – on VHS


Atheist

Racist who likes to tell people that Islam isn’t a race


British/US/Canada flag

Dan Hannan – or worse – Dan Hannan fan


Crypto-expert

Racist who has discovered how to buy skunk on web


Enoch was right

Haven’t had sex since the 70s


Flexiteer

Haven’t had sex since the 80s


Tommy is right

Haven’t had sex since the 90s


Infowars

Haven’t had sex at all


Failed EU project

Know nothing about the EU but sad with my life choices


Islam is not a race

So I can’t get arrested for being racist – brilliant innit


Free Speech advocate

Particularly unpleasant racist


70s TV tribute account

Racist with a shit sense of humour


Fluffy animal pics

Misanthrope


Pictures of pixies

Russian bot


Patriot

Russian bot


81917292

Russian bot


Marine A

When I get pissed I tell people I was in the SAS


Soros

Anti-semite who thinks the Earth is flat


Libertarian

Racist with 4 O’levels


Classical Liberal

Racist with golf club membership and a Volvo


Conservative Christian

Racist who never goes to church


Check out my website

Got sacked from MSM for making repeated racist comments


Loves Europe hates EU

Racist twat who probably lives in Spain or France


Sovereignty

Failed history, maths, geography and life


Says it like it is

Racist who objects to being called a racist


Speaks for silent majority

Racist who rarely gets out


Fearless

Genuinely frightened


Your

You’re


Identitarian

The “iden” and “arian” are silent.

Our interview with Susejd Rol – who played Sausage Roll Jesus – in the Gregg’s Christmas Advertisement

Susejd Rol struggled for years in supporting parts, before landing his break-out role as the baby Jesus in this year’s Greggs Christmas advertisement. We settled down to talk to him about Stanislavski, life in the pastry and “that” Trainspotting nude scene

How did you get the job?

In this business, unfortunately, there are still very few meaty parts for savoury actors – so there’s a lot of us chasing very few rolls. It started as any other gig would. I got a call from my agent – went along and the director Steve and I just clicked.

How was the production process?

Steve had a clear vision from the start. He’s extremely collaborative and wanted to evoke the tableau vivant style of the work of people like Alfred Stieglitz. I think you can see those influences in the end result.

Did you expect the reception you got?

I think you have a feeling on set when magic is happening and I’m not at all surprised by the response we’ve received. Some of it has been negative of course but that always happens when you push the boundaries of your art. Much the same happened when Michael Powell made Peeping Tom in the sixties – it was slammed in all quarters – now that is held up as a classic.

Do you think the same will be true of the Greggs 2017 Christmas commercial?

Absolutely. Those criticising it now will hail it as a masterpiece one day. In that I have no doubt.

How did you prepare for the part?

I’m very much of the Stanislavski method school. Playing the inner sausage of the infant Jesus was a big challenge and I spent several weeks in maternity wards, studying babies and trying to capture that innocence whilst also projecting the aura of a child whose destiny is to die on the cross. I wanted to play Jesus the child of a humble carpenter – the Jesus who was born to be King – but also Jesus the swaddled pork snack.

As a sausage roll do you feel you get type cast?

That was much more the case when I was setting out. At RADA I did find myself condemned to play very limiting parts – in Macbeth for example I had no lines and only one scene at Banquo’s feast. It was quite humiliating to be honest but you have to climb the greasy baking tray to survive.

What was your breakthrough?

I started out in the theatre – mostly in supporting rolls – but then Trainspotting came along and I got cast as “meal two.” It was a single scene in which I played a saveloy that got eaten by Renton – but it was all I needed. I got noticed.

trainspotting
Susejd right – alongside Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting

And you went nude.

Yes.

How was that?

Well it was a case of just getting on with it really. I worked out for a month or two beforehand which really paid off – but the film was out there and what was asked of me was hardly like swimming down a toilet or pretending to freebase heroin.

What’s next?

I’d love to get back into stage work. The last decade or so has mostly been taken up with film parts. Calls are coming in. I’ve been talking to Wes Anderson about Grand Budapest 2 – there may be a musical in the offing – who knows. In this business it’s very important that you don’t go stale.

Sesujd Rol – thank you.

Thank you.

Twitter ticks and tantrums – why the alt-right craves affirmation

Twitter has finally woken up to the fact that giving racist wingnuts and conspiracy theorists blue ticks merely reinforces the currency of these bigots, while not enhancing the value of the social media site.

Overnight those magical little hallmarks of authenticity faded away from some big name right wing accounts on both sides of the Atlantic and more will probably follow. American white supremacist Jason Kessler, alt-right punch-bag Richard Spencer, our own Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson) and Laura Loomer all watched in despair as their badges vanished. I’m guessing Katie Hopkins is checking her phone even more than usual.

A monumental moan-fest of outrage followed – which nobody came out of with their dignity intact. Displaying all the backbone of a 3 year old in a shopping mall, deprived of his dummy, Kessler weepily sent tweet after tweet insisting he wasn’t a racist and was just standing up for white people. Not to be outdone, “Tommy Robinson” embarked on an epic snivelling tirade of tweets dotted with inspiring examples of ambitious whataboutery.

20171116_104652

Odd isn’t it that these “rebels” – these “outsiders” – these self-styled warriors against the establishment and the “mainstream media” and the globalists – should be so bothered about a blue tick on their twitter accounts. I’m fairly certain Che Guevara never lobbied the Chinese Theater for a handprint on Hollywood boulevard.

Truth is, Stephen and his friends were very proud of those twitter verifications because they conferred status and respectability upon them. The rise of the alt-right might be a political phenomenon but it is personality driven. These ‘outsiders’ see themselves and are in turn viewed by their acolytes as ‘celebrities’ and because they lack imagination, they seek the same gongs, baubles and acceptance dished out to other well-known luminaries.

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For the most part they don’t aspire to upset the establishment applecart – they want to be part of it. Yaxley-Lennon desperately wants to be on the This Morning Sofa. Richard Spencer undoubtedly drifts off to sleep, fondly imagining that one day there will be a documentary about him on the History Channel. There is no finer example of this peculiar need to be venerated than the ‘anti-establishment’ Nigel Farage, who spent many undignified years trying to get a peerage – that he might sit in the unelected and unaccountable House of Lords. Nigel may have been sent to a very expensive public school but he failed to get any A levels or entry to university. While old school chums went on to illustrious careers he ended up as a spiv MEP in a parliament he doesn’t respect. Deep down in the man – there is a little schoolboy longing to be a prefect.

I don’t know much about “Tommy Robinson” or “Laura Loomer’s” early lives because mine is too short to bother investigating them – but I would bet a hefty sum on both having failed at school and having failed badly. Their politics is as authentic as a Cartier watch in a back street Bangkok market. This is less about the “Muslams” much more about personal failure being writ in political form and a deep-rooted need to be given a ‘well done’ sticker on their homework.

These dangerous idiots are seeking recognition, esteem and notoriety – by removing the trappings of respectability from them Twitter has finally acknowledged that they are not worthy of it.

Who are the real traitors here? The peculiar ‘patriotism’ of the Brexit leaders.

The Telegraph’s front page today paraded the Conservative MPs who dare to defy the Brexit narrative like condemned men and women at a Soviet show trial. The term “mutineers” was deployed – along with dark hints that their perfidious stand was  – well  treasonous.

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Daily Telegraph is owned by the Monaco living Barclay Twins

Since the EU referendum last June, the narrative in the Leave press has trod a similar path. Those who back Brexit are immediately assumed to be patriotic, those who oppose it – aren’t.

It’s a curious idea but one that has gained currency with those who tell us to “believe in Britain.” Most Remainers  already do of course. That is why we oppose Brexit. We want the country to thrive, prosper, be well-regarded and view this ridiculous folly of wilful self- sabotage as an assault on the place we call home.

Oddly, many in the top ranks of the Brexit army don’t – call Britain home.

Take the Barclay brothers – owners of the Daily Telegraph which today denounced the mutineers. David and Frederick Barclay may have been born in Hammersmith, but they live in Monaco and Sark. They give their address as Avenue de Grande Bretagne, Monte Carlo and when once asked why, said that:

“(We) left the UK over 23 years ago for health reasons and not for tax reasons in any shape or form.”

Methinks they doth protest too much.

Billionaire Rupert Murdoch, whose stable of papers (The Times and Sunday Times excepted) fought the dirty end of the Brexit media war isn’t British, doesn’t live in Britain and is on record as saying that he objects to the EU because it won’t do his bidding.

The multi-millionaire owner of the Daily Mail, Jonathan Harmsworth, is a non dom.

Nigel Lawson, Chair of Vote Leave, loves Britain so much that he resides full time in a big house in – France. Leave EU Official bigwig Arron Banks lives for much of the year in Belize. His right hand man, Andy Wigmore, not only lives in Belize but is a Belizean citizen and diplomat who represented Belize at the Olympic Games. Andy loves Britain so much that he is no longer actually British.

Key Brexit pusher and financier Lord Ashcroft – also lives in Belize.

The official Vote Leave campaign was funded by Peter Cruddas who lives – in Monaco.

And this is before we even get to the Brexit talking heads – Louise Mensch lives in America. Steve Hilton – lives in California.

I could go on. And on.

This curious Brexiteer patriotism goes beyond merely living here. The self-appointed guardians of the flame of nationhood, whether they be the owner of the Express or the owners of the Mail have spent decades rubbishing Britain in the pages of their papers.

The ground troops are no better.

Farage might claim to be the UK’s top patriot but he has spent the last twenty years insisting Britain is a shit hole and the last two trying to kiss Donald Trump’s. Hardly a day goes by when the former UKIP leader isn’t popping up on American news networks to say how ghastly everything is, how the UK is being over-run by Islamic jihadists and politically correct liberals. At the slightest hint of a terror attack he is there on Fox talking dismissively of the country of his birth. Farage has hinted more than once that he might leave Britain and is on record as saying he will move abroad if Brexit goes badly. See also Katie Hopkins, George Galloway and any number of right wing pundits and radio phone in hosts.

How much of this hypocrisy are you willing to put up with Britain? When do you take a good look in the mirror and say “enough is enough.” These are plastic patriots. They aren’t interested in the prosperity and well-being of their homeland. They are too busy being concerned with their tax affairs, their media careers, their business interests and their tans. They have played you for a bunch of fools and whichever way Brexit goes they will most likely go untouched by the fall-out.

By contrast, the 15 Tory MPs singled out by Vote Leave and The Telegraph today have collectively served this country for decades. They have lived in Britain. Worked for Britain. Invested in Britain. And for the most part tried in their own ways to make it a better place. Oh – and paid taxes HERE. Perhaps Banks and the Barclay brothers should reflect on that – and even take a leaf out of their book – before branding them treacherous.

 

The Eglinton Tournament – a parable for our times

As the march of industrialisation progressed through the early 19th century many minds turned wistfully back to the long ago halcyon days of chivalry and men in tights doing noble things in discreet cod pieces – while women darned tapestries and looked wistfully out of windows.

Walter Scott’s romantic historical novel, Ivanhoe, appeared in 1820 and was an immediate Victorian blockbuster, sparking a lasting and heavily sentimentalized reimagining of the past. By the 1830s there were six theatrical versions in London alone and as the decade wore on, the general trend for looking backwards showed no sign of abating. As train-lines grew like splattered ink spills, the yearning for a simpler, better, happier, rose-tinted past grew with it.

Ivanhoe
Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe

This Romanticism informed art, poetry architecture, nationalism, notions of identity and political thinking but then a 27 year aristocrat, Archibald Montgomerie the 13th Earl of Eglinton, decided to take things to the next level.

Archibald was an Old Etonian who would later go on to make a name for himself as a staunch Tory opponent of Jewish rights, Irish rights and ordinary people in general. The only things he seems to have been in favour of were the Corn Laws – and jousting.

Archibald loved jousting, the idea of jousting, the thought of jousting and had clearly read Ivanhoe not once, not twice but several times over. Archibald was also fabulously rich and lived in a big castle. And so it was – that Archibald decided to host a medieval tournament.

In late 1838, 150 chums, acquaintances and school friends were invited to “Pratt’s” – an antique armoury dealer in London’s St James’s that they might be fitted with suitable attire. Mr Pratt himself was put in charge of bunting, swords, tents, horses and those big chain things that have a spikey bit on the end. Unfortunately, given that there was only one expert and that the whole thing was being based on a book that had no actual grounding in historical accuracy, things at this very early stage started to go slightly awry. It was noted fairly quickly that medieval people appeared to be much smaller and thinner and despite the number of eager volunteers there wasn’t enough armour to go round.

eglinton castle 1900
Eglinton Castle ca.1900

Things brightened up slightly, when a dress rehearsal was held and the ‘very elite of the most elite’ turned out to watch – along with 2,000 casual observers – eager to satiate their curiosity. Despite only 19 Knights taking part the first tournament was a big success and the Victorians celebrated in classic Victorian fashion. Commemorative Jugs were made.

Anticipation grew. People who weren’t too busy starving could talk of little else. Queen Victoria wrote about it in her diary. Twice.

Predictably, the ‘usual suspects’ refused to get on board and started to moan. The Whigs, the reformers, those libtard Methodists and the relatively new Manchester Guardian adjudged it to be a ridiculous folly. The whole thing was a made up, unnecessary, silly, expensive, dangerous endeavour that would cost upwards of £40,000 (around £4 million today) at a time of desperate poverty and terrible economic and social uncertainty.

Archibald and his associates pressed the metaphorical mute button – and moved on with their preparations.

All through the spring and summer of 1839 they practised – putting on their armour, getting on their horses, falling off their horses, jousting and generally injuring each other and themselves. At Erlington Castle groundworks were in full swing – heavy thrones were carved and a regal stand that could accommodate 2,000 invited guests was erected.

The buzz grew. Cartoonists lampooned the Quixotic endeavour while The Tory press talked of little else. It would be fabulous. It would be splendid. It would be talked about forever. This was what Britain needed. We want our Medieval Splendour back.

As Friday 30th of August 1839 edged closer thousands of people began to journey to the castle – many in the trains the raffish young Earl hated so much. The actual attendance far exceeded estimates and as the day of the grand tournament dawned, as many as 100,000 people had descended on the fairly remote Scottish site – and found a spot to wait eagerly for the marvellous cavalcade that would transport them back to a happier more genteel Britain of old and make everyone forget about all that horrid progress.

There were early signs that things might not go off entirely as planned. The Earl knew a great deal about golf and thoroughbred horses, but it would seem he knew next to nothing about topography. The site he had selected for his splendid parade was effectively a flood plain – and it had rained almost solidly for a month. The crowd began to get wet feet.

Behind the scenes there was feverish activity. Putting on all that heavy armour was taking considerably longer than had been anticipated. Lunch came and lunch went and the 100,000 grew hungrier, wetter and colder.

eglinton parade
Contemporary depiction of the parade

The knights hadn’t practiced getting on to their horses more than they had had to on account of their always falling off when they did and by the time they had, there was a mock medieval traffic jam winding almost a mile down the narrow carriageway to the tiltyard.

Just at the point when groups of day-trippers were beginning to give up and break away, a trumpet blasted and Lady Somerset, The Queen of Beauty, emerged onto the balcony of Mr Pratt’s magnificent grandstand.

Cheers went up from the colossal saturated crowd and at that precise moment, the incredible spectacle of Knights strapped in full tournament armour and their ‘servants’ trotted down into the field.

For a split second it seemed that it had all been worth it after all.

And then, a bolt of biblical lightning – smashed violently across the sky, unleashing a preposterous deluge of rainwater as an enormous thunderstorm engulfed the landscape.

Terrified horses scattered left and right through the heavy mud as unwieldly toffs in ill-fitting armour were tossed like fairy cakes from their backs and dragged off rattling and whimpering through the mire.

The crowd – who had invested considerable expense, time and effort in getting there were now regretting ever having heard of the stupid fucking pageant and tried, in vain and as one, to make their way back past Lugton Water – which had now flooded. Thousands of cold, hungry, angry people were obliged to wade, waist deep through freezing water and then trudge miles through the torrential volley of rain and mud to nearby villages – only to be charged extortionate mark ups by wily locals who could sniff an opportunity when they saw one.

Eglinton had promised his personal guests a sumptuous banquet and ball but both were cancelled. The whole thing had been a colossal waste of time – and money.

Holding such a tournament in Scotland might be considered dicey at any time given the unpredictability of the weather. Choosing to do so, on a flood plain, so late in the summer, without any contingency plan might be measured reckless.

But incredibly – so much faith had been invested in the project by so many people in the press and upper echelons of society that despite all evidence to the contrary – it was hailed a success. Sure – a lot of people had nearly drowned and the whole thing was essentially a comedy of errors – an unnecessary waste of good money – but these were minor drawbacks. Details. No – the main thing was that it had happened and should thus be celebrated.

A local pub, the Tourney, was named after the event. A bridge was built in its honour. Grand fabric panoramas were created and sold. A hundred years later Royal Doultan brought out another commemorative jug set and in 1989 a tribute tournament was held on the same site.

Lord Eglinton himself went on to be the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland before dying at the age of 49, no doubt feeling very pleased with himself indeed.

If this is all bringing back painful memories of Prince Edward’s superlative butt clencher “Royal Knockout Tournament” then I can only apologise.  The Eglinton fiasco was on a far grander scale.

Indeed, in its absurdity, its hubris, its purposelessness and its outlandish futility in a catastrophic pitch at turning back the hands of time – it reminds me much more of something else. Something a little more recent……if only I could….. think Otto….. think.

Lord Eglinton in his forties

 

Hitler, Hopkins and the ‘alt right lit’ phenomenon

Katie Hopkins’ book ‘Rude’ comes out today. Published by Iain Dale’s Biteback, it promises to take us through her rise from reality TV runner up to being the “go to” basher of Muslims, fat people, children, Alzheimer’s sufferers and drowned refugee toddlers. The gushing blurb assures that she will be “as honest in the book as she is in life” which is candid at best. I haven’t read it, but I imagine it will be full of her usual views and particularly heavy on Muslim women in veils and the ‘snowflakes’ who don’t think we should bully them or lock them up.

‘Rude’ is but the latest addition to the growing canon of “alt-right lit” – an anti-Islamic, misanthropic, polemical genre, that has spewed from the laptops of Britain and America’s most familiar right wing bigots over the last couple of years.

Former EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) has been out and about just this weekend, signing copies of his reasoned and no doubt rigorously academic endeavour, entitled “Why Muslims Kill for Islam.” Having now written two books more than he has ever read Tommy is able to add “Islamic scholar” to a CV which is otherwise most notable for those fraud convictions and that time he got arrested trying to illegally enter the US on a fake passport.

Not to be outdone, UKIP’s eternal bridesmaid, Raheem Kassam, very much the “third member of Bros” in the alt-right movement, has penned “No Go Zones: How Sharia Law Is Coming to a Neighborhood (sic.) Near You” (foreword by Nigel Farage)and managed to accrue an impressive 35 reviews – on Amazon.

And so it goes on.

The eager student of hate could pop these works on their shelves next to books by peroxided bore Milo Yiannapoulis, laugh a minute journalist Melanie Phillips(Londinistan)and former Breitbart editor at large Ben Shapiro whose niftily titled “How to debate leftists and destroy them” sounds like something someone might say on twitter just before deploying the block button.

Iain Dale is a successful publisher and a canny businessman who has also knocked out books by such lovable figures as Nigel Farage, Conrad Black and the “Bad Boys of Brexit.” No doubt he knows his market well and senses a hunger for the Hopkins tome. Katie Hopkins after all has not simply built a career out of being hated. There are many, many people who admire her and genuinely believe that she is some sort of alternative voice. No doubt the book will sell well.

My question is this. Will anybody actually read it and if not – what is the point of this publishing phenomenon?

Buying a book is not the same as “reading a book.” My own shelves creak under the weight of words I haven’t got around to digesting and probably never will.

Unread Books, particularly unread political books, aren’t necessarily intended to be read. They are more a bold statement of identity. A prominently placed tome by a well-known author on a living-room shelf can be an act of intellectual validation. Academics have done this for years and it seems that the idea has now filtered down to the “alt right social media sphere.” It is one thing to make meritless xenophobic remarks on Facebook, quite another to make the same comments and then back them up by pointing at a book by Tommy Robinson and saying “it’s all in there have you read it? I have. He’s researched it and everything.”

That is one reason why the market for ‘alt-right-lit’ exists. It is confirmation bias in bound form. These ridiculous books, with their provocative titles, give weight and credibility to the authors and justification of their unrighteous bigotry to the dolts who buy them.

There’s nothing new in this of course, Adolf Hitler’s unreadable Mein Kampf sold millions – not least because – like Tommy Robinson’s latest  – it was also given away free. It made him very rich indeed – around $12 million a year in today’s money – despite very few people ever making it to the end.

Hitler’s derisory book gave him ‘intellectual credibility’ and it worked while making him bundles of cash.

The same thing is going on today. The alt-right isn’t just a movement, it’s an industry and it needs content, product and packaging. The publishing arm is a key promotional tool and I suspect we will see a lot more of these “books” in the coming months.

Hopkins meanwhile will no doubt be on our airwaves and sofas this week flogging her tome. The Sunday Times carried a lengthy and unduly soft interview with her last week in which she reiterated her belief that the picture of Aylan Kurdi, the little 3 year old Syrian boy whose lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach was “set up” before going on to imply it was all the fault of his father anyway because he “wanted new teeth in Canada.”

There was a time – when saying things like that might rightly finish your career and diminish your circle of friends. In modern Britain, sadly, a toddler’s tragic death is now but a tool – used to sell books that nobody will read. There is a case that the best thing to do is to “ignore her” and hope she will go away, but if you ignore Japanese knot-weed it rarely decides to retreat respectfully from your home.

The opening chapter of her book is entitled “I am not a twat” – I for one – would prefer to keep an open mind on that.20171106_105208

5 Greatest Situationist Pranks of all time – can you spot the fake?

Comedian Simon Brodkin caused controversy and momentary havoc at the Conservative party conference this week when he interrupted the Prime Minister mid cough to hand her a P45. The jury is out on how amusing this was but situationist pranks by their nature do not have to be funny. The Situationist International movement was more about surrealism cocking a snoop at capitalism, faith and the conventions of polite society, than practical jokers having larks. It’s a fascinating movement and the  Wikipedia page makes for a genuinely good read.

I’m no purist in these matters. I would hold that at the right time and in the right moment, situationsim, like love – can happen anywhere.

There are those who make a distinction between hoaxes, cons, pranks and tomfoolery but really, any of the above done well, could be considered a work of art.

Here, in no particular order are five personal favourites. One of them itself – is a fraud. Can you spot it?

1: The Dreadnought Hoax:

In February 1910, the Commander of HMS Dreadnought, then moored in Portland Harbour, received a telegram from the Foreign Office, informing him that an Abyssinian Prince and his entourage were on their way to review The Fleet. Later that day, the elaborately dressed dignitaries descended from a train which had been chartered for them in London and were duly treated to a full display by the Royal Navy’s finest ships. Claiming not to speak any English, they had brought a translator with them – who proceeded to decipher their gibberish before the ‘Prince’ attempted to bestow honours upon the senior officers. In fact this exotic bunch were a group of writers and artists, including a young Virginia Woolf and lead by inveterate hoaxer Horace Cole. Their motive doesn’t matter. The bar for subsequent pranksters had been set very high indeed.

dreadnought hoax

2: The Man who sold Nelson:

In 1923 an American millionaire visiting London was whiling away a leisurely morning in Trafalgar Square admiring the 170 foot high column and the lions at its base when he was approached by the “official square guide.” After a little factual introduction and background on the late lamented Admiral the guide went on to explain that at some point in the near future it would all have to be pulled down, as the risk of falling masonry posed a threat to passers-by. Britain, he explained, was broke as a result of the Great War and could not afford to meet the upkeep of her national monuments any longer. Indeed, the guide went on, the government was thinking of selling things off to pay for the cost of war. The American was flabbergasted but at the same time thrilled. This column was just the thing to ornament his garden in Iowa.

“How much?”

“Six thousand pounds.”

A cheque was given, made out to “cash” and an official receipt received and it was only, days later, when the American contacted a bemused building firm owner in the hope that he might help in the dismantling of Nelson’s Column it that the swindle was revealed. Arthur Furguson, the genius behind this con was later to sell both Big Ben and The Eiffel Tower – but this was his masterpiece.

nelson

3: The Spaghetti harvest

In 1957 Panorama  broadcast a three minute item about the booming spaghetti harvest. This short straight faced April Fool remains the high water mark of broadcast tom-foolery and with the advent of google – would now be impossible to replicate

4: The Notre Dame Affair

On Easter Sunday, 1950, mid-way through a live broadcast of mass, the French viewing public were stunned, when a Dominican monk climbed into the pulpit of Paris’s most famous cathedral and began to deliver an extraordinary faux sermon. The friar denounced the Catholic Church for its ‘funereal morality’ before declaring that God was dead with the immortal line:

“Nous clamons la mort du Christ-Dieu pour qu’enfin vive l’Homme”

(We proclaim the death of the Christ-god, so that Man may live at last.)

The monk – Michel Mourre – actually a member of the avant-garde Lettrist movement was arrested along with his co-conspirators but the Police and authorities did not wish to inflame the situation and after briefly being committed to an asylum – he was let go.

notre dame

5: The ‘James’ Ossuary

In 2002 The Discovery Channel and the Biblical Archaeology Society co-hosted a press conference in Washington in which they made an explosive statement. A collector had come forward with a 1st century ‘ossuary’ – a stone coffin used for keeping bones in accordance with Jewish custom of that period.

It was one of several that had been found in the Silwan area in the Kidron Valley in Israel and it had a quite remarkable inscription on the side that had far reaching historical and religious implications. For this simple stone tub claimed once to have held the bones of:

“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.”

The delicate state of the ossuary seemed to confirm its date. Scholars concurred that the mention of a brother would be quite possible “if” that sibling was a significant person. Here was apparent “concrete” proof for the existence of Jesus Christ.

The problem is that you can’t (in the words of Spinal Tap) dust for stone.

When doubts were raised over the authenticity of the antiquity, Oded Golan, the entrepreneur who had come forward with the artefact protested his innocence, insisting he had acquired the tomb in good faith. He was put on trial and after years eventually acquitted. Arguments continue to rage over the legitimacy of the ‘relic.’ Thousands of words have been written and documentaries made but ask yourself this – if it is real….. isn’t it just a little bit too good to be true?

Prank? Hoax? Crime? Perhaps we will never know – but perhaps someone somewhere is reading this – and smiling.

Did you spot the fraud?

“The things we do not need to talk about!” A sneak preview of Corbyn’s Labour Conference speech – (featuring Owen Jones)

Pin Prick offers a sneak peak of how the Labour leader’s speech might come across on Wednesday.

Image result for corbyn conference

RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE

JC:    Thank you. Thank you.

You know people come up to me all the time and say: “Jeremy, what happened? The Tories, the so-called mainstream media and the pollsters all predicted you would lose the last election and yet you pulled off the greatest landslide in post-war history? How did they get it so wrong and you get it so right?” And I say to these people – “Owen, this is the new kind of politics! A politics of the many not the few. A politics that is very different to the intolerant Blair years, for the simple reason that Momentum won’t tolerate those people joining us any more.”

RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE

At the last election the British people sent out a very clear message. They said they’d had enough of austerity politics and the failing Tory government. The people spoke and what they said they wanted was for myself and the Labour Party to lead the country forward with Theresa May and the Conservative party at the helm.

I for one am humbled by the responsibility they have placed in my hands.

RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE

Conference, earlier this week rumours were flying around, that we were not going to discuss ‘something’; that we were indeed scared of ‘it’. Let me here and now address that thing, plainly and honestly, while not mentioning it explicitly in any way. The simple truth of the matter is that while there are issues, they can be compartmentalised into the things we need to talk about and the things we do not need to talk about. The things we need to talk about include ‘should I be a giant hologram?’  and ‘Oh! Look over there!” The things we don’t need to talk about include that thing we don’t need to talk about. And Ken Livingstone’s views about Hitler.

But still the voices of discontent rage. “Talk about the other thing!” they say, “the thing you aren’t talking about!” Well I am. I am doing that now. And in fact I am not sure how I could be making it much clearer. Our policy on it could not be more different from the Tories if we tried, in that our version of “it” will have a nice picture of a rose at the top – while theirs will not.

As Owen put it to me last night: “Why are Blairites so obsessed with discussing this thing we have no need of discussing? If you ask me, all the problems with modern Britain can be put down to centrist Dads on twitter. The country spoke in June 2016. Everyone should move on. And stop talking about it.”

I think he’s quite right.

Don’t you?

 

RAPTUROUS APPLAUSE