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Just jump infront of the car... it'll be fine.

30th January.

I really don't understand why I ever bother driving in central London. The tube is so much easier. I regretted it as soon as I was there, weaving around the high streets looking for the 'secret parking space'. I just liked the idea of being in my own space on the way into work but it wasn't to be.

Whack! Some idiot walks right out infront of my car. I was in a queue of traffic and he just decided to stride out under the front wheels of the Margerrison mobile. Fortunately I was only going at about 8mph so I managed to slam on the breaks and he didn't succeed in getting under the car, instead he just slammed his palms down on the bonnet. He looked surprised that the laws of physics were so unforgiving.

I have a brash self image which doesn't quite tally with my reaction: a squeal and then the intense feeling that I was going to cry. The guy with his hands on my car just stood up and walked off, I'd almost hit him and he didn't seem at all shaken up as he carried on his way.

I drove on and only about five minutes later I had another incident. This time with a couple who ran out infront of the car again. This time I was going about 20mph. Despite the added speed I managed to stop well in time but I was still freaked out*.

The 'secret parking space' was compromised so I pulled into another one and let my frayed nerves carry me to work. After the show I went back and found a parking ticket on it. Ruined.

NM

*Serves me right for driving on the pavement eh? <-- Joke. Obviously.

"Tony B'liar"... "Jail Tony"... "Blair lied - thousands died"...

Terrence McKenna used to describe the news media as “an intelligence test,” and “the way you pass the test is you ignore it”. In that respect, as an insatiable ‘news junkie,’ I’m a huge failure. To me the news is like a film or a soap opera. So much so that I sometimes slip into the trap of forgetting these events are real and the people portrayed in them are not fictional characters. Perhaps this is the reason behind my surprise reaction to Tony Blair’s grilling today at the hands of the Iraq War inquiry: I found myself frequently agreeing with him!

Firstly I was disarmed by the fact that he wasn’t the simpering Shakespearian villain I’d come to imagine. So reviled and demonised is he, that I’d expected to see Iago waltz into view and finally get his comeuppance. Instead I got a man who made a decision, which I still at core disagree with, putting his case forward very well. Without wanting to trivialise it too much I think I’d expected some guy in one of those caricatured Blair masks to walk on and for the audience to gasp when they noticed the blood on his hands. Then he'd be put in the stocks before the jeering crowd. On reflection this made me think that the anti-war movement, of which at points I’ve been an active part, do themselves a disservice by portraying him as a panto villain.

I’m certain that in the past I’ve indulged in this. In my anger at the war and the sense that our voices were ignored I’ve probably called for Blair to be tried for war crimes and so forth, but recently I’ve started to wonder what exactly that achieves? I didn’t realise it at the time but this rhetoric only simplifies the debate. Imagine the consequences if such a fantasy were to be enacted and he really did end up in The Hague. The far reaching consequences for our country are unlikely to be positive.

There was a moment early on during his 6 hour cross examination when he announced that if he were still in power Iran would have to watch their step. I couldn’t help but think that might be a good thing. In the eyes of many Iranians, particularly the ones in power, people in the UK are part of “the great Satan”. They're Zionist collaborators who should be wiped off the map. When they have a nuke the power shift will be huge. If they knew we had no qualms about invading them would that make us safer? This is not a rhetorical question, I have no idea of the answer. The point I’m making is that when I was listening to ‘uncle Tony’ I posed it to myself for the first time.

I’ve already had emails from people accusing me of being a “sell out” and all the rest of it, but I’m just being honest. His performance was good and, when I’d watched it all, I began to question ideas I’ve held for years. It left me feeling conflicted and confused. If I’d have been in that crowd of protestors outside I don’t think I’d have been joining in their chanting with the same zeal I might have done a few years ago. To me they looked like “the mob” who, if they got their way, would get out the guillotine and never stop. Perhaps it’s my naturally contrary nature, or maybe it’s the power of a television broadcast and I’ve just been through a savage pro-war indoctrination session.

Recently I’ve been listening to Aldous Huxley’s famous 1962 Berkley UC speech about the dangers of future tyrannical regimes and the fact that they will have a powerful arsenal of weaponry with which to wage war on the minds of their citizens. One thing he talks about is the then emerging technology of television. He worries about the idea of charismatic dictators like Hitler and Stalin having access to people’s minds so directly via their TV sets. Given what I’ve just written about demonising people I’d like to point out that Blair is not a Hitler or a Stalin but the point remains. For a while he effectively sat in my front room and made his case for war. Words are thought control and he had the steering wheel to my mind firmly in his grip. On reflection I still don’t agree that he made the right decision but, who knows, perhaps if it’d been in HD...

Global war and global warming.

Global War

If it weren't so tragic the story of the war in Afganistan would be almost funny. We pick a fight with a country that had nothing to lose, then act all surprised when they don't. In the midst of losing one we quickly start another in Iraq, for unclear reasons. This left us over stretched as the two wars were fought simultaniously and our soldiers started having to buy their own equipment. Now we've decided the best way to sort it out is to give the enemy a load of money* and hope for the best.

Amongst the moral bankruptcy that is the Iraq war, a lot of people have overlooked the reasons we were told the first conflict in Afganistan was fought. It was waged because our allies, the US, had been the victims of an awful terrorist attack. In order to catch the mastermind of these attacks we went looking for, Osama Bin Laden. In the meantime we've caught the bloke responsible for masterminding the 9/11 terror attacks: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He was in Pakistan. Confused?

Global warming

My first encounter with enviromentalism was during the 80's when we were all being told about a huge hole in the ozone layer which meant we were all going to burn to a crisp. It could never be repaired and was being caused by man's greed. And aerosol cans. I was horrified and came home from school full of indignant rage that my parents used underarm deoderant. Today we read that the fact the ozone layer is healing up is a very bad thing because it could increase global warming**.

During my second encounter with enviromentalism, global warming, I was told, thanks to man's greed, we were all going to be burned to a crisp. The planet was soon going to heat up beyond all recognition. Then, Al Gore, got involved with the global warming equivalent of the thoroughly debunked internet film, Loose Change 2. In fact I remember watching the film "An Inconvinient Truth," in much the same vein and thinking to myself, well that's pretty scary but I wonder if it's true? Add to that the fact he is a politician and I decided it was reasonably likely he was lying. My cynicism was rewarded by a high court ruling in London which found nine examples of factual inaccuracies made in “the context of alarmism and exaggeration”. As with Loose Change 2's factual innacuracies the problems didn't put off true believers but they put me off a bit.

Then it started to get colder***. Then they tried to re-label it 'climate chaos'. Then it turned out that scientists were exchanging emails that suggested all was not quite as it seemed in the man made global warming camp****. Now a court has decided they've been breaking the law in a desperate attempt to stop other people looking at the data they're basing their apocalyptic announcements on*****.

And then this:

"The UN’s top climate change body has issued an unprecedented apology over its flawed prediction that Himalayan glaciers were likely to disappear by 2035.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said yesterday that the prediction in its landmark 2007 report was “poorly substantiated” and resulted from a lapse in standards." The Times.

In logic you cannot prove a negative. I can't prove God does not exist for example. The same is true for man made global warming. I can't prove it isn't happening, there could always be a causal relationship we are unaware of. However I can watch the absurd behaviour of those who think it is and make up my mind if I'm ready to join them yet. For the moment I'm going to give that church a miss.

* Over £80 million has been pledged so far for a "Taliban Trust Fund": Story in The Telegraph.

** The New York Times: 'That the hole in Earth’s ozone layer is slowly mending is considered a big victory for environmental policy makers. But in a new report, scientists say there is a downside: its repair may contribute to global warming'.

*** BBC news article:
What happened to global warming?
Average temperatures have not increased for over a decade

This headline may come as a bit of a surprise, so too might that fact that the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998.

But it is true. For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures.

And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise...
--

Next decade 'may see no warming' BBC news.

**** Hugely embarrasing, not proof of a cover up, but certainly a glimpse into the mindset of scientists who need man made global warming to be true: Telegraph broke the story here.

***** The Telegraph: University scientists in climategate row hid data.

Blog off!

"To read a newspaper is to refrain from reading something worthwhile." - Aleister Crowley*

If you're a blogger like me you will be horrified by the following story...

Compare and contrast the following articles:

A 'devastating expose' of life as a female air traffic controller: CLICK HERE.

The original blog entry, with its emoticons and smiley faces. Overall it seems like she was having a lot of fun as a female air traffic controller: CLICK HERE.

Then go read the words of the same blogger who is reacting to her words being so dramatically taken out of context without her even getting a word of warning: CLICK HERE.

The poor woman didn't get a phone call, an email, or even so much as a tweet, to check the accuracy of the opening article. The first she hears about it is via a sympathetic friend who didn't realise her working life was such hell. The blogger, Melanie Schregardus, has her words used to fit the news agenda and describe her colleagues in air traffic control as "male chauvinist pigs". All this complete with a picture of her grinning away! Which presumably they got from the internet.

In short, they took her blog entry and used it to say that her colleagues were all a##eholes.

The above is an extreme example but it is a cautionary reminder that anything you post online could, in future, return in a form you don't recognise. I've deleted my facebook account but it was only a few years ago that a mate of mine showed me a piece of code which you could add to the address bar when browsing and, according to him, you could then access any part of that site. Recently there were problems with it being hacked so perhaps this is something they've now dealt with. However nothing you put online is private. Keep that in mind, even if you're just twittering.

NM

*Picked this quote up from a great article about this subject which I found here: CLICK HERE.

UFOs are real and the Governments are covering it up

It was some time ago now that I 'converted' to a full blown 'true believer' in extra terrestrial contact. My road to damascus experience came via my now infamous interview with, Edgar Mitchell, who told me the UFO phenomena is real and Governments are covering it up. According to him he'd been briefed by people in the know about this kind of stuff. Beyond that there is the strange case of, Gary McKinnon, a guy who the US government think is so dangerous they want him behind bars. Having met and spoken to the mild mannered and softly spoken chap personally, I'm hard pressed to know what they're so concerned about. He claims to have seen proof of Mitchell's claims online but unfortunately he doesn't have a copy of that proof for you and I to look at.

No matter which way you slice it I'd have thought his extradition claim would have been laughed out of court by now but it keeps being persued with a vehemance I wouldn't expect from a Government who claims there's nothing in these cover up suggestions. Once you get into the detail of the case, and I have sat through some of his hearings at the house of Lords, the less sense it makes that the US are so keen to have him over there.

That said, the nub of most belief in ET contact is faith. There's more testimony than proof. More speculation than evidence. Until I can point to the spaceship and you can see it with your own eyes there's no way I can make this belief of mine seem rational to the casual reader. These days I've stopped being an evangelical preacher and I just accept it as a strange and enjoyable quirk in the way I see the world. So it was with interest that I watched the recent BBC 3 documentary featuring Danny Dyer called "I believe in UFO's" in that his conclusion was equally trite. Neither of us are important enough for our opinions to matter and I suspect he knows that as much as I do.

On the other hand the debate about ETs is not just confined to the likes of me and Danny "f'ing" Dyer*. The Royal Society has just concluded a two day conference on the same subject: The Royal Society, Is There anybody out there. The extent of their speculation is fascinating, including the rather prosaic suggestion from, Professor Simon Conway Morris, that alien life will look very like us: LINK TO STORY. Within the next 48 hours you'll be able to watch one of the lectures online at the Royal Society's website. It's called, "The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in the universe?". I suspect it'll be a little more engrossing than the BBC3 show I've just watched if only because it will surely include a lot less swearing.

*He kept swearing throughout the documentary. It was totally unnecessary. I may have imagined it but I'm sure one or two of his interviewees were shocked at his effin and jeffin. I sort of felt sorry for the guy, he appears to have a complete lack of self awareness.

The Blairs are a symptom of the decline of our civilisation.

I've long thought we peaked, as a society, sometime around 1965-1975. The most obvious sign of our peak would be the moon landings. I can't describe how amazed I feel when thinking about the fact that once upon a time men walked on the moon. That era is very much over now and it seems we're witnessing the gradual decline of our civilisation. Stupid people run this world with their idiotic ideas taking presidence over rationality. Perhaps it was always so but whenever I look at the moon my internal voice complains that it can't have been.

Simple evolutionary mechanics mean the religious world view will soon have a titanic grip on our future. Religious people have more children than rationalists. When I was younger I thought it was set to die out but recently it has become obvious that will not be the case.

When I was working in South Yorkshire it was mooted that I might be a good candidate to interview Tony Blair. He was the Prime Minister at the time and about to tour the provinces to drum up support for the forthcoming election. I thought it would be fun if I could talk to him about his religious beliefs. I was fascinated by the fact he was a Christian and saw it as the key to understanding the guy. It was, in truth, all I wanted to talk to him about. They weren't keen on the idea so in the end it never happened.

If I had been able to speak to him I'd have asked him the following questions...

1, THE IMMOVABLE OBJECT, or, IS GOD BOUND BY LOGIC: If God can do anything can he make a rock so heavy that it cannot be moved? If so, can he then move that rock once it's been made?

2, THE BIBLE IS FULL OF CONTRADICTIONS: Why do you think your God has allowed the truth to be so blurred?

3, Do you prefer people who follow Jesus to those of us who do not? Where do athiests fit on that scale?


This final question seems well met by this recent news story:

Cherie Blair lets a bloke walk free because he's 'a religious man' despite him breaking someone's jaw in a savage and thuggish attack.

The short version of the above story is that, Shamso Miah, 25, was queing at a Lloyd's bank in London when a row broke out about who was next. He went into an explosive rage, grabbed his victim and struck him. Then he scampered off outside, followed by the man he'd just punched, who tried to reason with him, only to be on the reciving end of a whack so strong it knocked him over breaking his jaw.

When the police finally caught up with him he lied and said he'd acted in self defence. These lies were exposed by a very different story, told via the bank's CCTV footage, so he pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

What's amazing is that when Cherie gets involved as judge she lets him walk free from court:'I am going to suspend this sentence for the period of two years based on the fact you are a religious person and have not been in trouble before [...] You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour.'

He got six months, suspended for two years and 200 hours community service.

What would you or I have got for the same crime if we didn't believe in the magic man that lives in the sky? These sorts of judgements belong in the dark ages and reading about them now reminds me the days of the moonwalker are now in the past. The moon, according to The Bible, is an independant light source. Landing on it would be as hazardous as setting foot on the sun. Reaching for the heavens, according to The Bible, is an offence punishable by God. The story of The Tower Of Babel illustrates that, look it up if you're unfamiliar with it. The inevitable rise of a biblical world view means we'll be burning witches and burying criminals at crossroads by 2100AD.

Think I'm over reacting? Read this article here by Christopher Hitchens about religion in the US millitary.

With all of the above in mind I'm pleased beyond measure that this is about to happen: CHRIS MORRIS'S NEW FILM.

Carl Sagan's "Cosmos"

24th January

If you've not yet watched Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" then I think it's high time you did. It's the best value documentary series I think I've ever watched. When I came across it recently I couldn't believe it had been around for so long and yet evaded my eager eyes.



The above is a YouTube tribute to it which I thought was beautiful.

NM

Monster Munch, M&S’s “Yummy” Biscuits and Cheryl's Coles.

If Tiger Woods is addicted to sex then I’m addicted to Monster Munch. I can’t stop eating 'em. They’re like crack cocaine! Granted, I’ve never actually tried crack cocaine, but I hear it’s very more-ish. I don’t think I’ve ever been so 'brand loyal' to a type of crisp. Usually any old crap will do but ever since I tried them again last year I’ve been hooked.

Speaking of food: no, M&S, your biscuits are not “yummy”. Don’t be so patronising when you’re labelling your food. Call them “delicious” by all means but don’t talk to me like I’m a chuffing baby. Be real, you’re a big company and that label was not the idea of someone who has a cute affectation. It was cynically adopted by a committee of bored marketing executives who were sat in a room looking at some market research.

If “yummy,” was their final choice can you imagine the words they will have rejected?*

Finally, on the subject of marketing, Cheryl Cole does many things but she does not rock. I have nothing against the idea of Q Magazine trying to sell a couple of issues by putting her on their front cover this month, but I do think you cross a line when you tell people you think “Sheryl Cole Rocks”. There’s no one in the UK who is under that impression and over the age of ten. We've all got to earn a coin but I'll bet whoever made the decision to run with that headline probably went home after work and had a little cry. Or at least they should have done.

NM

*Heard the very funny Stewart Lee make a joke a bit like this on a rare panel show appearance, so now's as good a time as any to point you in the direction of a genius: STEWART LEE'S WEBSITE.

Blame Alan Moore.



22nd of January.

Alan Moore* is very clever. He once explained to me the reason he took an interest in magick is that Dr John Dee** believed in it. Alan Moore's logic was pretty simple, Dr John Dee was very clever and he believed in it so perhaps there is something in it. Ironic that the reason I take it seriously is because Alan Moore thinks there's something in it...

Now, given my previous experiences with this kind of thing perhaps it's an area I should just leave alone. However, given my previous experiences in this kind of thing it's an area that's very hard to leave alone***. Particularly when you add the fact that I don't sincerely believe in it. These are the reasons I often end up wandering around occult/new age shops in London.

Yesterday I bought and read a book called 'Enochian Vision Magick' by Lon Milo DuQuette. It's a book about how you can use the system of magick described by Dr John Dee to call up angels and demons of your very own. It describes the complex mechanics of the sigillium (pictured above) and explains how to make one of your own, fashioned onto a wax disc. It gives you the enochian chants you'll need to call spirits into your frame of consciousness during a magickal ritual in your very own home. It's stark raving bonkers!

I loved it.

What's so brilliant about it is that the writer**** is, aside from calling up demons, sane. He has a sense of humor and a relaxed style of writing. The way he frames the whole thing is very logical. Part of the thrill was in imagining myself actually following his step by step instructions. Most books on magick have huge sections that are almost incomprehensible, this book was as easy to follow as a Ben Elton potboiler.

Once I'd finished I went off to bed having been thoroughly entertained.

Today I woke up having had a fit of vivid dreams and terrifying nightmares. Demons and Angels taking to me and guiding me through the dreamworld. I'd read some of the chants outloud and that was enough for them, went the dream's narrative. It was like a lucid dream but without it being entirely under my control. There was the ever present threat that I'd forget I was dreaming and take the experience to be real. I was taken through my life story and shown where demons and angels had become involved, for better or worse. Like Scrooge although without the transformation at the end.

Can't tell you how relieved I was to be woken up by my little lady with a nice cup of tea. Firmly back in the real world my first though was, "how funny, that'll make a good blog entry".

NM

*Writer of various brilliant comics, including The Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Promethea, From Hell... in fact he's a genius and everything he's written has at least some merit to it. I interviewed him on Kerrang and there's a good YouTube vid of it here: YOUTUBE VIDEO OF ALAN MOORE.

**Queen Elizabeth I's personal adviser. One of his most celebrated achievements was predicting/causing the storm that practically destroyed the Spanish Armada. Aside from that he's a fascinating historical figure.

***What am I going on about? CLICK HERE for the relevant entry.

****Who I've also interviewed although tragically his interview doesn't yet exist on the net. Perhaps I should post it up?

Cheeky fart fact?

I'm reading a book called "The Interesting Bits (The History You Might Have Missed)" by Justin Pollard who, the book proudly announces, is one of the writers of QI*. In it there's a story about a bloke called Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, who broke wind incredibly loudly while bowing to Queen Elizabeth the first. He was so embarrassed he went into exile for seven years. Only after that time had passed did he pick up the courage to return to court. A silence descended upon proceedings as he went forward to bow to his Queen for the first time in seven years. Everyone leaned in to listen, nothing. Then the Queen remarked "my lord, I had quite forgotten the fart". His shame returned and he never did.

My only problem with this story is that there's one which is almost identical in the play I watched recently. Given that Arabian Nights predates the reign of Queen Elizabeth I by quite some time I think it's almost 100% possible to dismiss this story about the 17th Earl and his noisy bottom.

It's taken the wind out of the book's sails a little, so to speak.

*Never watched it, looks like exactly the sort of programme that would just annoy me. I have of course therefore judged it on aesthetics alone. Is it any good? It looks really smug and annoying. I'm off to polish my glass house and have a little think.

It's stuck in my brainium

20th January

I've had 'The Final Countdown' by Europe stuck in my head for the whole day thanks to this chap:



Someone on twitter pointed out the amusing, inevitable and irellevant arguments in the comments section. They also posted a link to this site which is full of gems: YOUTUBE COMMENTS. It's a quiz where you have to match the comments to the videos. I got 1 out of 10. I then went on to get full marks on the Supporter or Deporter quiz here: AMUSING LINK.

Finally, also via twitter, this site has been suggested to me: SLEEP TALKING HUSBAND. It's quite amusing.

I'm off to drink some water.

My drink problem

Apparently I'm supposed to drink three and a half liters of water a day. I'll be able to cut down when I'm not as fat. I used to enjoy water when I was a kid, so much so that it was remarked upon by parents who would be amazed that I preferred "adam's ale" to fizzy pop. As a child I was also very skinny. Drinking more water makes you less fat, I've been told. Furthermore I have all the classic symptoms of someone who is dehydrated. Big bags under my eyes, skin problems etc.

Currently I'm managing around 2 - 2.5 liters and as I write this I'm chugging down the last part of today's 2.5 liter dosage. Not managed to get that final liter in there just yet. It's too much for me.

As you might expect, I'm also nipping to the toilet a lot more.

Bit of Discrodian nonsense for you...

One of the High Popes of Discordia Robert Anton Wilson used to enjoy casting the following spell: start noticing the number 23, it's important but we don't know why. In my life, 23 is the exact number of letters to appear in my full name "Nicholas Paul Margerrison". It's in the date I first aired the now infamous Edgar Mitchell interview (23 July) where the 6th man on the moon dished out his truth nuggets regarding extra terrestrials*. And the day it was announced I was leaving my old radio station was the 23rd June.

I spoke to my Mother about this a few months ago and she told me she'd always considered the number to be her lucky one. She's not versed in Discordianism. It's just a co-incidence. When you start looking for 23's you'll start to expect them.

Me and a mate went out drinking recently and struck up a conversation with a friendly scottish bloke. He had the number on his t-shirt. This was about five minutes after I'd explained to my mate that 23's have a habit of turning up when you start to look for them.

It's known as The 23 Enigma. The important point to consider if you're going to try looking for this is that it is and must remain an enigma. Any attempts to explain it defeat the point, which must remain an enigma.

In closing I'm aware of the fact that there was even a film made about it featuring Jim Carey. I haven't watched it and unless someone posts a great review of it in the comments section, I have no plans to do so either. Far better to read Cosmic Trigger by Robert Anton Wilson.

NM

*It was an interview which went around the world thanks to our interconnected global news media. Some people might think this was deliberate and that I specially picked the date to make the point.

Proving my geek credentials with a bit of Dr Who crit.

I was getting bored of David Tennant's Doctor. He was just a bit too nice. Now there's a new one I'm quite excited about the series again. This, in case you're unaware, is a 'controversial' viewpoint. There's hot debate on The YouTubes about 'the new guy' which, as you'd imagine, is mainly fronted by kids who are angry that Tennant has left and they've known no one else play the role. I couldn't help but get involved and point out that 'firstly, the Doctor has used a gun previously in Attack Of The Cybermen (first story of season twenty two)'. I then went on to try and enlighten people further with my -ahem- 'wise words' on his regeneration.

The main thing that holds me off criticising the BBC (and the unique way in which it is funded) is the fact they make Doctor Who. The main thing that holds me off ever criticising Doctor Who is that I always have a slight fear they'll cancel it again. I've been a fan of it ever since I've understood words and stories. I bitterly regret slagging it off in the past. Even though the criticisms were fair, back in the days of poor old Sylvester McCoy running around the BBC car park as he was chased by a Dalek made of cardboard and balsa wood.

The final thing that makes me very cautious about Doctor Who right now is the strange relationship between it and Star Trek, which most geeks are painfully aware of. When one of them does well, the other starts to fall. Tennant was a Dr Who fan, he will know of this natural law. They're like night and day, you can't have them both at the same time. It is with concern that I noted how good the last Star Trek film was. We've just been through quite a significant Doctor Who 'golden age'. I hope that film didn't herald the beginning of the end.

SPOTTED: Heidi Fleiss on Shaftsbury avenue, wandering about on her own.

I was with a couple of mates in London near Shaftsbury avenue today when I saw someone I thought I recognised. She had black hair, a pale face and worldly eyes. In an attempt not to be rude I mumbled “hi,” and she looked through me with a bit of a puzzled expression. At that point I realised I don’t know her personally, I just recognise her from that one episode of this final edition of Celebrity Big Brother that I watched*.

She’d already walked on by this point having identified me as a nutter. In fact I don’t think she even stopped when I greeted her. I wasn’t particularly forthright in doing so as there’d been part of me that was worried I was going to have one of those conversations where both sides are politely trying to suss out how they know each other.

“That’s that woman off Celebrity Big Brother,” I announced to my mates.

Clearly neither of them were viewers either as they had no idea what I was talking about.

“You know, the one who used to run a brothel for famous people,” I pressed.

The penny dropped for one of the chaps stood with me and he shouted after her “Heidi!”. The poor woman, who was on her own, turned round and we all waved. She waved back and carried on her way.

Not knowing how she came over in Celebrity Big Brother it’s hard to imagine what she might be expecting from a little walk round the nation’s capital. I’ll hazard a guess that she was booed by the baying mob on her release, that seems to be the norm these days. It’s one of the reasons I’m so bored by the show. I imagine, given that she’s from America, she’s treating this as a little holiday but I was surprised to see her walking about unaccompanied at 10pm**.

It made me wonder what exactly the term “celebrity” really means. Technically she’s one but when I imagine a celebrity I don’t picture them walking about on their own on a saturday night. I picture them at a party in a VIP room all the time, surrounded by ‘their people’ and being chased by the paparazzi. Perhaps I’m mixing up the term “star” with “celebrity”?

Supposedly though we live in a ‘celebrity culture’ where celebrity worship is blighting ‘broken Britain’. If, in my guise as a cultural commentator, I can’t easily define a celebrity where does that leave me? We almost discussed it on the radio show but other news events overtook me and there wasn’t time.

I’ve reached a point in my career where I now know a number of people who have, in one context or another, been described as celebrities. Although this observation seems trite, it’s obvious to me that they are no more or less special than any of the other people I know.

The word only seems to be in such common usage because it decorates a tired title. Come Dancing, Cooking, Singing, Origami, whatever. Add the word celebrity and you can base a magazine article or TV show on it.

I suppose the term means that they are someone whom we, as a society, celebrate. Hence celebrate-ees. What doesn’t quite add up here though is the fact that most of these ‘celebrities’ are not celebrated at all. They’re viciously slagged off and character assassinated on a regular basis. We let them walk alone round London or slag them off for perceived racism and then act surprised when the stress turns to cancer.

It’s not celebrity worship or culture that’s dead, it’s the word itself.

I defy you to define what a celebrity is in the comments section to this entry. Four letter words are not a definition.

*Remember? I vowed not to watch this series and have kept to that promise after this entry here.

**Strangely reminiscent of the time I bumped into Johnny Vegas.

You can't marry Claudia Schiffer and not expect a bit of grief...


Am I the only one who thinks Claudia Schiffer's husband Matthew Vaughn should just admit defeat as regards his hairline? He's done that thing which Phil Collins did where you try to cover it with a long strand of hair going down the middle, the result being that he looks like a classic graffiti style penis.

My girlfriend gave me a withering look when I made the above observation. I think she's getting bored of my childishness. I can only apologise to you in advance.

Furthermore don't call me baldist, some of my best friends are bald so that means I can't be*.

If you care about the news story here's a link to Hello Magazine: CLICK HERE.

*This is a trick I've learned after listening to racists and homophobes. I'm not sure it works but it's worth a go.

An Arabian Night in Stratford

Me and the lady went to the theatre in Stratford tonight to watch "Arabian Nights". You might recognise one of the stories which make up part of it, 'Ali Baba and the 40 thieves', you know, with the cave that opens when you say the magic words: "Open sesame". That story forms part of a wider collection of stories, some of which were performed tonight.

I'm always amazed at how good actors can really draw you in to a piece. The actress who played one of the main parts has been in Doctor Who and Coronation Street recently but I can't believe those roles gave her the scope to do the sort of stuff she does in this.

I'm not a theatre critic and I didn't make notes during the performance but I can tell you it was good. If you get the chance go and see it. And hang about during the interval, the cast come on in character and muck about. LINK TO IT HERE.

'You've just got a generic face' - The Mighty Boosh

13th Jan.

There was a routine in one of the old Boosh radio shows where Vince has a pop at Howard Moon for having a 'generic face'. Today I encountered the reality of that as I went for a little walk to Tescos. It's snowing here at the moment* and I'd wrapped up nice and warm in my big coat, scarf (which I got for Xmas) and gloves. As I trudged back from the shops with my pint of milk and a copy of The Guardian a woman stopped me and said:

'Is it busy today?'

'Err, not really no. I guess it's bad weather.'

'It's not like last Sunday then?'

'Err, not really,' I replied, having lost the thread of the conversation already. This happens to me a lot in real life so I let it pass.

'They'll be all watching Home and Away again,' she added as she smiled and said 'see ya'.

I offered a confused 'bye' and went on my way. She'd been dressed in a coat but underneath she was wearing a Tesco uniform and appeared to be on her way to work. She didn't look unusual but that was an odd conversation. The only explanation was she'd mistaken me for someone else.

This is the second time in recent memory that has happened. I was in a pub not so long ago when a woman stopped me and said 'here he is'. She then dived into a conversation about a party we'd been at last year. I had no idea who she was and the more I chatted to her the more it became clear she'd mixed me up with someone else. The bloke she'd recognised was an electrician by trade and a drinker by nature. I'm not a big drinker and I can't re-wire a fusebox. No matter how many times I pointed this out she just became more adamant and then a little hurt. In the end I sort of laughed it off and said, 'oh well, see you again then'.

My conclusion: I've got a generic face.

*For the international readers. I picked up a small following of Americans during the UFO business last year. It's nice to have you along.

Well that was a strange dream...

I woke from a very strange dream this morning. In it I'd been asked by a major TV channel if I wanted to do a spot on one of their stand up shows. I can't remember which channel it was, something like BBC1 or Channel 4 and it was a prime time spot. They were going to pay me £1000 to do ten minutes. I was really excited and started telling my friends and family. My girlfriend got all giddy at the news. I told everyone I knew about it, what time it was on and so forth. The whole dream was so celebratory it was intoxicating. Me and some mates drove down to the TV studios and went in to the hospitality lounge where we were served drinks and food. Then the time came and it was only as I was about to walk on stage that I remembered I'm not a stand up comedian.

Panic set in and I span round and asked my girlfriend who was waiting in the wings what I should do. She looked as surprised as I was and said "oh no, I'm not sure, just do your old stuff perhaps?". My internal monologue set into panic, "I can't remember any of it ... I haven't practiced anything ... oh god ... what am I going to do?".

Quite an interesting twist on the old 'gone to an exam and not done any revision' routine. I think it's down to the fact I'm reading the new Peter Kay book. It's as good as the last one.

You heard it here first.

I must be psychic:

Islamic group abandons plans for an anti-war march
The Daily Mirror


Sickos cancel stunt
'MUSLIM fanatics last night called off their threatened march through Wootton Bassett after a storm of protest'
The Sun


Group calls off anti-war march
The Press Association


Islamists cancel Wootton Bassett protest plans
BBC


How did I manage to guess that this march would never happen? CLICK HERE.

Spitting image.

I've never understood the appeal of spitting in the street.

I watched someone today, walking along with his little 8 year old kid holding his hand, huck up a fat chunk and spit it on the floor with a sort of sneer. Very odd. I think perhaps it's something to do with football and these 'hard men' are copying their favourite sports heroes. In the same way that the mannerisms of pop stars are copied by little girls.

Last year I saw some bloke walking along with the sort of swagger you can only manage if you're really stupid. He took one agressive look into my eyes, turned his face to one side, drew some mucus into his throat and promptly spat on his trousers by accident. Lovely stuff. His two mates couldn't stop laughing at him.

It's certainly the coolest bit of spitting I've ever seen.

Lets put the 'Bovine' back into Britain.


BOTTOM, SERIES 1, Episode 5:

Ritchie: That's what makes us so great you know? They don't call it "Great Luxembourg", do they? Mmm? Or "Great France"?

One thing that drives me up the wall is when someone announces it's time to "put the 'Great' back into Britain". When I was about twelve I remember being impressed by that rhetoric. When I was about fourteen I'd started to question it and by the time I was getting really stuck into puberty my patience had run out.

There's debate on why exactly it's called "Great Britain" but the most plausible version of events that I've encountered is to do with the union of Scotland, England and Wales. The Romans were the ones who named us, Britannia, and personified our inhabitants with a Goddess. King James VI, who took over in 1603, was already 'The King of Scotland' and he used to call himself 'The King of Great Britain' because he wanted to make it clear he was king of a larger area than his predecessors. I watched a great documentary a few years ago which said that early attempts to make this union possible are where we find the first official recorded use of the phrase. Around 200 years prior to James VI in 1474, in a contract drawn up proposing a marriage between the daughter of Edward IV of England and James, son of James III, of Scotland. The document in question described "this Nobill Isle, callit Gret Britanee."

Despite the historical debate surrounding this there's no serious academic who thinks our nation is called "Great" Britain because it's a place that everyone agrees is really, really, great. Even so, some of the dozy twunts who spout off about putting the "great" back into it actually do think that. As if the world's nations had a meeting and said, 'let's make it clear that Britain is the bestest country in the world shall we?'. By this logic Greater Manchester refers to the superior areas of the city. If you've ever been to Manchester you'll savour the irony.

What do I snow?

I was amused to watch a climatologist explaining himself on the news today. The thrust of what he was saying was: weather systems are very complex and it's supremely arrogant of us to think we can predict how they will behave. When I tuned in I thought he was talking about global warming. It turns out he was explaining why we're so unprepared for the current cold snap. "Climate chaos" is now the official phrase, I think. This is obviously because "global warming" has become a bit counter intuitive.

Unlike most of my colleagues in the media I haven't made my mind up on global warming yet, let alone whether or not we're the ones causing it. It frustrates me that the issue is now so politicised that it's difficult to say you don't know what's going on without being cast as a 'flat earth,' 'denier,' who hates baby polar bears.

Here's a quote from Discover magazine which perfectly sums up the problem:

"It’s bitter cold this week, even for January. Beijing had its coldest morning in almost 40 years and its biggest snowfall since 1951. Britain is suffering through its longest cold snap since 1981 [AP]. The southern United States is in the grip of freezing weather; the Midwest has seen dangerously cold wind chills far below zero. Trying to stave off the inevitable “where’s your global warming now” chants, the AP and other news sources rushed to run pieces trying to get across—one more time—that weather isn’t climate". FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Firstly the tone of the above paragraph is patronising. Secondly the point it is implicitly making is that news agencies are fighting a propaganda war. And then the final four words are, of course, absolutely right. This leaves me, someone who doesn't know, in the position I've been in for some time. As usual it turns out I don't agree with anyone.

I can either side with people who see it as their solemn moral duty to programme the 'stupid' general public into understanding that they're causing the bad weather or I can jump onto the bandwagon of those who either deliberately or ignorantly mix up the facts to make a point.

People used to think that if they behaved badly the Gods would punish them with bad weather. Sacrifices needed to be made to appease them. The ideas behind man made global warming do seem to be inherent in human nature. On the opposing side, why would 90% of the scientific community lie to us about something like this? They can't all have been bought off by grants and funding, can they? That said, most of these environmentalists are really annoying and smug, I don't want to be one of them. I'd hate that as much as I would discovering I'd accidentally turned into a 4x4 driver who wants to put the 'great' back into Britain.

You can see why I was so drawn in by the bloke on the telly who seemed to be parroting my almost unheard of line that: weather systems are very complex and it's supremely arrogant of us to think we can predict how they will behave.

Religion, it's funny isn't it?

I've been a fan of comic books ever since I first read The Beano. The writer Pat Mills once explained to me that for some reason, 'there's something naturally subversive about them'. You can't help but encounter challenging ideas if you spend a little time in a comic book shop. To me comics are sacred objects. Spell books for the mind. Just holding one puts me in a good mood.

This year, Robert Crumb, finally published his take on Genesis. I've been holding off purchasing it in anticipation of Christmas, it's always nice to leave something for my parents to buy me as a present. Now I've got it I can't say I'm even in the slightest bit dissapointed.

Here's the pitch: it's the first 50 chapters of The Bible with absolutely nothing left out. Faithfully reproduced from the most accurate translations Crumb could find. Despite what you might think though, this is not the work of a devout Christian. Crumb is a self confessed Gnostic who is quoted thus: "The Bible doesn't need to be satirised. It's already so crazy."

I couldn't agree more.

There are two major intellectual claims to fame that I can boast. One is that I have read the complete works of Shakespeare, while I was studying at Essex and the second is, I've actually read The Bible from cover to cover. I can't remember either works in full detail but if you tell me the bit you're talking about I can usually pick up the coversation. Of the two, the one I enjoyed the most was The Bible. It is, in a word, bonkers.

As a Discordian Athiest the first thing that strikes me is the fact you only need to get as far as the second chapter and the contradictions start. For example, there's two different creation myths in there, side by side and totally incongruent. Plough on to the story of Soddom and Gomorrah and you've got a comedy sketch that would have fitted into Monty Python.

One of my little party tricks since I was about 14 has been to read to people from the weirder pages of The Bible, a trick which Ricky Gervais pulled off with far more skill than I ever did in his stand up set Animals.

The thing that amazes me is most Christians haven't read it. If you are one of the faithful why not start with Crumb's version? It's very accurate and, as a result, very funny.

Sherlock Holmes gets the Guy Ritchie treatment, whatever that is.

6th January

I watched the new Sherlock Holmes film today. The fact it has had the 'Guy Ritchie treatment' immediately put me off and made me think it was rubbish so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was ok. It's as if the twist in the tale is established by the reputation of the director coupled with the subsequent watchability of the film. However, I fear that by telling you this I'm ruining the film. I've told you nothing of the plot but I've already overhyped it. This is not like the anus of a dog producing a beautiful diamond, it is only like it producing a photograph that doesn't smell too much. We're talking here about a distinctly average film.

There's some real obvious suggestions in the film that there might be a sequel, I presume that will be when normality asserts itself and Ritchie lives up to his hard earned, post 'Lock Stock' reputation.

Facebooks...

I never really got into Facebook. Today I finally deleted my account. I just don't get it. Being a member of Facebook was like being at a party. I felt I should be having fun but was constantly confused by the fact I wasn't. The end result was, I started to wonder if there was just something wrong with me. Everyone else seemed to be having a great time, why was I the exception?

What's so great about looking at pictures of people? I find pictures of people depressing. They either don't look as good as you remember them or like more of a poser than you thought they were. The occasional picture looks good but so what? Furthermore why do I want to be 'poked'? More importantly why do I want to add to a giant database of information that gathers together all of my associates names, their thoughts, my thoughts, tittle tattle etc? Orwell would be spinning in his grave.

I'm also pretty sure I managed to offend or upset a few people by not accepting their friend requests or replying to their 'pokes'. The reason for this was that my first flirtations with the site were a few years back when I registered with the intent of sorting out my profile at a later date. After that I got a series of friend requests from a mixture of people I used to know, people I know and people I've briefly met. This created an odd mish mash of different social circles. Add to that various listeners to the different radio shows I've done and it ended up being quite confusing working out who I knew and how.

After leaving the site alone for quite some time the list of friend requests was in the 250 mark. Then the 'you've been tagged in a picture' malarky started. Que a load of pictures of me getting drunk with friends. Now, I've never been comfortable with pictures of myself. I'm not the most photogenic person in the world and a rare good picture will only depress you in the future. Why I want people to be able to look at shots of me acting like a nob in a pub I don't know. Then finally I realised I'd been 'poked' by people. I think I poked them back, it's hard to tell.

Ultimately I left the party pleased I was no longer part of it. You never regret going home early. If people want to contact me they can use twitter. It's much less hassle. No pictures, no odd bits to the site where you're not sure how private they are. Just a much better site. Although I hear they're adding those sort of apps as we speak...

"Let me tell you about heartache and the loss of God" - Jim Morrison.

4th of January

The reason my religion, Discordianism, is better than any of the others is we can handle the fact our Goddess, Eris, doesn't exist. If the other major religions did the same and admitted their Gods aren't 'real' the world would be a happier place and religion might be fun again.

Most people mistake Discordianism for an elaborate joke whereas in reality it's far more complex and funny than that. Furthermore, people often get confused and think because Discordianism isn't serious about anything it is therefore not sincere. This is mainly because most people who try to understand Eris are too thick to know where to start.

At London Euston a bloke gave me a flyer which looked like it was about global warming. I took it and smiled as I wandered towards the tube. It turns out that the flyer was actually a cunningly disguised piece of Christian evangelism. Inside the leaflet there were some astonishing 'facts' for me to soak up. Apparently God has already covered the world in water during the great flood, leaving only 8 people alive afterward. Also, it's a 'fact' that this whole world will be destroyed by the fiery wrath of God. The good news is that I can escape hell by accepting Jesus and being baptised immediately.

On one level this is quite a neat way of trying to bring people round to your cause but on another it sums up the main problem with many of the principle religions in the world at the moment, Islam, Christianity, etc. They're all so busy trying to pretend that their faiths are rooted the physical world and they've lost the most important part of the puzzle: there is no God, outside of the human mind.

There are two different conceptions of how the world (and wider universe) works*. One version of events is the materialist's perspective where matter comes first and mind arrives second. Here the universe existed in its physical form for many thousands of years prior to consciousness developing in the form of intelligent life. This is the perspective I'm most allied to and one which is widely supported by the evidence. You existed in a physical form long before you had the ability to think. There is no intelligent life present during the 'big bang'.

The second perspective is the spiritual one where mind comes first and matter develops afterward. This point of view is expressed rather neatly in the bible where, you may remember, "In the beginning was the word," or more accurately, the concept. God uses words and thoughts to sing the universe into existence. We descend from the spiritual realm into physical form. The world is made or created like one would build a table or chair. Notice that with those two examples the concept or thought comes first. Chairs and tables are made to a design and are for a purpose. Just as a spiritual person thinks we are.

One of the constant worries of many spiritual teachers is that the physical world in which we are trapped is deceiving people into forgetting their place in eternal spirit. Mankind is being seduced by the pleasures of the flesh, money, power and control over others. I remember watching a Vicar once banging on about how sad it was that nowadays people worshipped money instead of God. Jesus is supposed to be your way out of the physical plane back into the heavenly spiritual dimension once your body dies. Without him you'll rot in the ground your soul lost forever.

I believe the insistence, which has found a voice recently, that says the Bible should be taken literally is actually hampering this escape from the physical world. A religion should be loved because it's not true not the other way round. Only by recognising that Gods and Goddesses are not real but that we still worship them, do we have a chance of asccending from the material plane and entering the one beyond. Only by hailing the merry nonsense inherent in all major religions will anyone benefit from them. Insisting they're true in a material sense locks people into a worse trap than the one they were in before.

I chucked the leaflet in the bin and Hailed Eris as I did so...

I wonder how many blog readers got as far as this final sentence? It's one of those entries that has been burning for ages but probably means nothing to anyone other than a fellow Erisian. Feel free to tick the 'boring' box.

*More about this: here.

Celebrity Big Bother.

January 3rd.

I have an on/off relationship with the TV show 'Big Brother'. Some series are good, others not so much. Meeting Kate Lawler at Kerrang where I worked for a couple of years reminded me of its central premise: people live in a house for a bit. There's something dehumanising about the nature of mass media fame which sometimes causes me to lose touch with the fact that there is more to a celebrity than just a picture and press release. They're human, like me. That might sound a bit trite but it's an easy truth to forget. Even more so with the TV show's spin off 'Celebrity Big Brother'.

As I sat and watched the start of this year's series, through a haze of fatigue and Baileys, I was dissapointed at the reaction of the crowd to the little 21 year old girl called Katia Ivanova. She's a 'celebrity' because she fell into the wrinkly paws of a 62 year old millionaire. She looked like what she was, a confused kid lost on the stage. The crowd booed her.

My dissapointment at the live audience then hit its nadir when famously violent footballer Vinny Jones followed and was greeted by a heroes' welcome. The crowd cheered as the 'loveable hardman' strode about to the cooing of Davina McCall. "He's a Hollywood superstar now" was the message. I remember him mainly because of the 'air rage' incident where he told people he was going to have them killed: CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS. Furthermore I read about him eating someone's face here: NOTW. Hooray indeed.

This is of course presuming that the crowd reactions were spontanious expressions of public opinion. I note, with interest, that Vinnie Jones has been paid the highest fee of all the contestants: DIGITAL SPY. When you've made an investment like that you might be inclined to nudge the audience's reactions a little.

No harm in that, just a bit of showbusiness.

Annoyingly though, as I watched, the point that was made to me by what little I saw of the show (I kept falling asleep on my girlfriend's lap) was clear: violence is to be celebrated and sex is to be ashamed of. Quite a depressing thought but one that seems to run throughout the national consciousness.

I don't think I'm going to bother with this series*. The fact there are people in there is a two edged sword and in this instance it has put me off a bit.

*I wonder if these words will end up being eaten in the guise of a freshly baked humble pie? I'm enjoying doing a daily blog again, it's quite nice to have a brain photo for future use.

Who ate all the mince pies?

2nd January.

On this post I stand to be corrected.

There's a website called http://www.islam4uk.com/ which claims to represent a group of people who campaign for Sharia Law to be introduced into this country. Many of my collegues in the media have reported on their 'plans' to march through Wootton Bassett, a town which is nationally famous for honouring dead British soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

Apparently they want to honour the 'real' war dead with "symbolic coffins" being carried to honour Muslim victims of the conflict. The group’s leader is called Anjem Choudary and he's quoted in the papers as saying the protest will involve 500 people.

The whole story seems to me like an expression of the McKenna media model where exceptional events are exaggerated by the need for a story. To paraphrase The Discordian Bard he used to explain that when measuring an electric current passing through a wire you work out the average voltage over a short period of time. So for example if, over a period of one minute, we measured every second the current passing though a cable and discovered that mostly it's passing 4 volts we'd clock that as a 4 volt current. If there was one second when our meter read 30 volts we'd simply view that as an anomoly to be disregarded. Not so with mass media, if they were involved the 30 volts would be front page news! They'd have an agent and be being broadcast on the 24 hour news channels as their kiss and tell story was prepared for the sunday papers. Soon you'd be watching a reality TV show where it was complaining about the paparazzi and how intrusive journalists can be.

The point being that the media amplifies the unusual and exaggerates the spectacular. After a few enquiries I started to think this Islam4UK operation looked like nothing more than the 40 volt incident.

I'm going to make you a bet that the march itself will never happen.

Here's the news coverage it's had so far:

The Guardian.

The Daily Mail.

ITN NEWS.

The Times.

The Daily Star The Sun.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

I wonder if I'll be proved right?

Oh, by the way, remember those stories a bit back about a protest planned to call for Sharia Law in the UK? Same group. What do you think happened? Nothing.

Sharia Law Protest Cancelled.

Ooo ... looks like that hurt!

January 1st

On the tube last night there was an atmosphere of high jinx. I sometimes quite enjoy it when everyone in London is in the party mood. Some Saturdays are full of positive spirit as I make my way to the LBC studios and if the vibe is right, it’s infectious. Last night was a bit like that. There was a really positive vibe underneath the city.

The mood changed as I got off the tube train at Leicester Square. There was a woman in front of me who, to be fair, had very nice legs. She and her mate were tottering along on their high heels excited about the night out which awaited them. Suddenly some beery geezer bloke stuck his head out of the tube and shouted “whehey ooo! Get ‘em out love! F—king ‘ell!”. His aggressive interruption instantly changed the atmosphere and sent me into a spiral of misanthropic thought patterns. He was totally out of step with the positive vibe. There was an air of menace to proceedings now. The women looked shocked rather than flattered. I shrugged into my MP3 player bubble with a ‘God I hate people’ mantra rattling round my braincloud.

The tube door then closed on his head and broke his nose.

I kid you not.

He’d tried to pull his head in and out of the way of the doors when he heard them moving, without success. The rapid motion of this movement combined with a good solid impact on the back of his head sent the bridge of his nose firmly into the doorway. A little splat of blood landed on the platform. Never before have I witnessed such a neat moment of instant karma. "Arrgh ffuuu**********" came his muffled voice from within the carridge as it trundled off on its way. He was thmuping the door with his fist in anger as well. Oh dear eh? Agressive males wackyness goes wrong.

Happy new year!

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