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The Stewart Lee and liking stuff before it's popular

I'm going to see Stewart Lee soon. It's always exciting to watch him live. I sort of feel like I watched him claw his way back up from the bottom. It's a bit annoying that his success is slightly killing the buzz. Now he's got his own BBC2 show it feels a bit like he's sold out or something.

It's like a band that you've been into for ages who suddenly make it big.

You sort of want to shout at people who like him:

"Doh, didn't you know about him already? I've known about him for years. In fact I invented him. That's how cool I am. Blo#dy hell mate. When I first saw him I fell off my dinosaur. Yeah! A dinosaur. That means I've known about him since at least the Triassic period. It also has huge implications for the theory of evolution because up until now it was thought dinosaurs and people didn't co-exist! Doesn't make sense does it? No. But I don't need it to 'coz I'm so painfully cool."

Then again, on the other hand, I hate it when people do that to me. It's annoying because the obvious question is: "well why didn't you show/tell me earlier?". A mate of mine once actually did do that by having a go at me because I'd not played any, Jimi Hendrix, to him after we'd lived together for years. I had to agree he was right to do so.

However, there is of course the possibility they DID play said music to you earlier and you didn't like it. In other words you're guilty of the crime of liking something because it's popular. I remember at university there was a lad who loved being into cool 'indie' music. Every now and then one of the bands he liked would go mainstream and he'd go through all these conflicting emotions. He challenged me about some band or other that had broken through and that I now liked which he'd apparently played to me years ago only to be told they were s#it.

I can't remember the band in question but they'd had years of artistic and critical success just now they'd become more commercial. In other words, they'd sold out.

Just to see what colour purple he'd go I replied with this:

"Well they were rubbish back then, but now they're really good - that's why they're on top of the pops these days - they've improved".

His head actually exploded with rage leaving only a bloody stump in its place.

NM

New Cult Of Nick podcast hits the internets

I am not aware of this audio being available anywhere else on the net. It's quite early on and formed part of the show's Sony Award entry for the year 2007.

http://audioboo.fm/boos/685700-the-cult-of-nick-podcast-2012-week-9

There's a certain sense of satisfaction I'm getting from watching the number of downloads creep up, very gradually, each week for this podcast. There's quite a little archive slowly building up now.

Best case scenario we'll hit double figures by the end of the year...

In other news I've sent my usual Iain Dale blog entry over and hopefully it'll go down well. The "Defence Of The Daily Mail" article still continues to attract controversey weeks after I wrote it with a BBC producer/journalist arguing on his twitter:

Tim Johns ‏ @timoncheese

What do you think of this defence of the Daily Mail by @nickmargerrison? I think it's worse than the Mail itself. http://www.iaindale.com/posts/in-defence-of-the-daily-mail-and-steve-coogan

He may not have enjoyed my defence of the right wing newspaper but in the same spirit I enjoyed his incredibly right-on lampooning of 'The Sun on Sunday' and Rupert Murdoch's now struggling media empire, which you can see here: http://youtu.be/RzS6T9tF3bU

I think it's important to support free speech and media of all kinds. Newspapers, even if we don't agree with their points of view, are important. It's nice he added to the publicity surrounding The Sun On Sunday. I presume he is also a fan of free speech.

NM

Retelling The Tale Of Robin Hood...

This is a cribbed article from the blog I do on The Iain Dale website which was originally published here.

I kind of feel it got ignored, perhaps because of the title I gave to the original piece which sort of implies it's all about football.

I suggest it's time to return to the story of Robin Hood but this time I suggest a more realistic portrayal of how he might’ve looked in his later years. In this new version our hero Robin could be an aging, fat, paranoid, control freak who rules over Sherwood with a rod of iron. Fabulously wealthy he lives off the money and power he initially stole from the rich. He is protected by the labour provided by aggressively suppressed local peasants, most of whom are required to view him as a kind of quasi-Godlike figure. The rich nobles who used to do business in and around Sherwood are long gone, as are all of the original “Merry Men”. Friar Tuck was killed during ‘the great purge’ when Robin ‘freed’ Sherwood of religion. A similar fate was meted out to, Little John, murdered for being an ‘enemy of the people’, and, of course there’s the infamous, Will Scarlet, exiled from the forest only to be found years later with an ice pick buried in his treacherous head. Drunk on power the bloated Robin is shown in the final episode dying in his bed after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage and lying unattended to for hours because his “Merry Men” were all too terrified to disturb him.

Perhaps we could include a scene where Robin Hood’s idealism is mugged by the reality of his own self interest. Having successfully robbed from the rich he could be seen arguing with one of his “Merry Men” about the next bit where they simply give away their ill gotten gains to the poor. It is after all always that bit which seems to cause the most problems in the real world to people who claim to be inspired by his example. Robin could become aggrieved with the process, “this isn’t fair,” he could complain, “we’ve earned this money by stealing it fair and square, why do these lazy peasants deserve it?”

The point would be that anyone who advocates such a strategy of direct intervention in society places an enormous amount of trust and power into the overly eager hands of the most untrustworthy characters around. Furthermore the politicians who are most keen to carry out this task of wealth redistribution are, like their hero Robin Hood, necessarily in favour of the crime of theft. That they are so keen to take from others what they have not earned themselves should make even a child suspicious of their motives. Elected by the ill informed and simplistic politics of envy it seems almost inevitable that their Governments always end in petty squabbles and financial failure. However, I place the blame for their success partly at the doorstep of the casual unthinking support given to myths such as Robin Hood, feared by the bad and loved by the left.

NM

What's wrong with global Government?

"We are the 99%!" x3

I was excited by the #occupy movement at first. Then I actually listened to what they were saying and realised I didn't support them at all. They are calling for a "global" revolution. This would inevitably bring a "global" Government in its wake. There are a number of problems with this idea. Here they are in bullet form:

1, "Nation states are a firewall against tyranny" - Alex Jones on my old Kerrang Show. He's right of course, a dictator in Germany is a problem for Europe and it can be stopped by Britain and the USA. A dictator in Iran is a problem for the middle east but he can be restrained by other countries. A global government which elects a dictator cannot be stopped, ever.

2, If it were a democracy the MAJORITY of the world is not educated, deeply religious and used to a standard of living people in the UK can't really imagine because they're so poor.

3, The level of power gifted to those who ruled THE WORLD would be beyond anything ever entrusted to any person in the world. We know from our history that power corrupts, this brings us back to point one.

I've lost a number of followers with my opposition to the #occupy movement but it has struck me as suspicious that these characters pop up out of nowhere with their ready made ideas, slogans and agenda. It's all concerned with a "global" agenda and frankly I'm not keen. Not at all.

The individuals themselves I'm sure are lovely.

The ideas they carry I view with DEEP suspicion.

Here's a video someone sent me, related to this post, it's quite interesting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jhRwBzXgGM

NM

Right - so I've paid your six figure salary so you can lecture me?

Ok ... it's rant time!

So, I go to the NHS dentists. The woman there is "obliged" to tell me to stop drinking and/or smoking because I might get cancer. For your information I hardly drink, maybe a few beers (literally two) a week at the most. One of the facts of life when you work weekends, no one to drink with. Also, I don't smoke. I used to.

However for some reason I have been told this information HAS TO BE submitted when you go to the dentists ... and they HAVE TO tell you to stop smoking/drinking "because of the cancer risk".

Well excuse me.

"How about this, you stop doing all the things in your life that you do wrong, yeah?"

"It's not my fault I've been told to tell -"

"Right, well pass that message back up the chain of command yeah? Sort your own sh#t out before you go telling me to stop doing what I, as an adult, choose to do!"

I wanted to say this, instead I went, "no, not going to do that" and smiled.

I know they've been told to pass on this advice. Doctors do the same on their six figure (paid for by the taxpayer, highest paid in the world) incomes. I know they don't really care if I stop smoking or drinking, that sort of makes it worse though doesn't it? It's judgemental advice ultimately coming from the brain fart of some dozy politician who thinks he or she is better than you at living your life.

NM

I just can't cope without my coffee

Today I opted for a cup of tea. Cue me feeling exhausted for no good reason right at the start of the day. I've only just realised what the problem was as I popped into Costa Coffee and bagged myself a bucket full of the stuff. Whoosh! Suddenly I'm awake again.

I remember trying to come off caffine when doing the Atkins diet. It was impossible. I went all shaky and totally lost the plot. The only way through it would have been to sleep for days while the stuff drained from my body. Not entirely practical.

Addiction is a strange thing. My most intense experience with it was with cigarettes. That was a real tough habit to kick. I wouldn't dare have even one go on a fag nowadays.

How did I stop? www.allencarr.com

NM

An idea I've had floating about for some time...

A good metaphor to describe the technology of mass communication is found in the following story.

Picture someone who has never seen their own face and knows very little about what they really look like. All they've got to go on is an imagination of themselves. They find a flat sheet of metal and decide to polish it until it becomes a mirror. Their early success in this slowly allows a gradually visible reflection to be revealed. The blurred picture, at first, can be imagined to be more favourable than the reality it depicts. The lacking detail is filled in by this person's already existing self image, in other words what should be as opposed to what is.

However, the longer and more scrupulously the metal is attended to, a more accurate picture becomes apparent over time. Eventually a reflection is seen which can be described as "warts and all". At this point the polisher might stop and look at this reflection with a certain amount of horror. Do they really want to see more or can they improve upon the reality of their own face instead, making the truth more as it should be? As they thought it was, back in the days of those blurred first images.

As a child there was always, for me, a disconnect between the world depicted in the media and that which I saw all around me. The TV and Radio were studiously politically correct and there was always a sense that crime never went unpunished. Most people spoke correctly and regional accents seemed like nothing more than a kind of novelty trick denoting someone who we could reliably describe as 'a bit of a character'.

I still remember the shock of hearing people on the radio who sounded authentic to me. It was during a phone in show* and I couldn't believe it at first. Initially I thought it was some sort of citizen band (or C.B.) radio channel that I'd picked up by accident on my AM receiver.

Nowadays it's less unusual for "real" people to be featured on both the television and radio. Reality TV and 'sensational' documentaries such as "Gypsie Wedding" make for good viewing figures in 2012. However it is still worth remembering the way in which all of this started. The confusion amongst the chattering classes as "nobodies" became stars. The "experiemental" nature of the original Big Brother TV show. All of this walks hand in hand with the internet which now is capable of making people famous without the sprinkle of stardust given by TV or Radio.

Every time I see a story in the papers about someone who is being shown on video acting in a manner which is contrary to how we think things should be I always think of my little metaphor. As camera phones become ubiquitous and the internet continues to grow I suspect our polishing of the mirror provided by modern technology has gotten to the stage where humanity is being revealed in it, "warts and all". I do hope the inevitable grooming process which follows is not too violent.

References: 'There's black people, then there's n*****s': Teenage girls forced to drop out of school after posting racist rant online

*Scottie McClue, Red Rose Radio. Legend.

New Cult Of Nick, New Iain Dale blog entry...

The most recent "Cult Of Nick" podcast is here. It's a good entry point for anyone who is new to this. Basically I'm posting up old bits of audio from my archive, this episode features Uri Geller. In the back of my mind it's a kind of holding spot for possible future 'unique' content but for the moment it's mainly stuff from the Kerrang show.

There will be no LBC stuff there at any point. You can buy that from the LBC website for a small fee.

I've also finished another article for Iain Dale's blog. The last one I wrote, "In Defence Of The Daily Mail" quickly became the most discussed one on the site and also featured as one of the top rated entries for a while. The new one should appear soon and is, unlike the others, unique to the site. In other words, I've not re-written an entry from this blog. Link here: http://www.iaindale.com/contributors/nick-margerrison

Once bitten ... ah sod it, bite me again!

There's a big advert for Star Wars Episode One in 3D just outside work. I view it with a mixture of sadness and dread. Firstly sadness because that first Star Wars film was so poo. Secondly, dread because I keep thinking I want to go and see it. Is Lucas using "The Force" to make me want to see it?

The same is true for the forthcoming Judge Dredd film. The last one sucked the teat of a poo monster. Now there's another one coming out, they reckon it'll be good and so I'm all geared up to see it. I'll get angry if it's rubbish. Properly upset. The last one still makes me twitch if I think about it too much.

Then of course there's the Hobbit film. Now, The Lord Of The Rings films, they were ace. That has been settled once and for all by a scientific investigation using computers*. I couldn't relax when I watched them first time round though because I kept expecting it to turn into a turd. Now there's this Hobbit film my old fears are back.

I think the best films are the ones that are ace without you expecting it.

Weirdly The Watchmen is turning into one of those films. I thought it'd be a pile of stink, I watched it thinking it probably was and then, over time, I realised it was good.

NM

*I lied about that.

A bad tempered bus driver? An irritating cyclist? Tell me it isn't so.

If there's one thing I hate to see in my rear view mirror it's a cyclist. They terrify me. They all seem so angry. They're also so dangerous, what if they fell off? Doesn't bare thinking about.

I was in Camden this weekend with a mate wandering about looking at the shops they've got there. It really is my favourite place in London at the moment. It feels like a mini-Glastonbury or something.

While there we saw a furious cyclist shouting and screaming at a bus driver. He was right up against the window of his bus giving him some proper abuse. To make things worse this pushy push-biker was as a result blocking the path of another bus just behind which was trying to overtake. The cyclist knew no fear and continued to 'speak truth to power'.

It looked like it was going to kick off so me and my mate did the decent thing and ignored it, carried on walking, best not get involved... if there's one thing I also know it's the some bus drivers have terrible temper problems ...

So, it struck me as an interesting coincidence that when I got in to work I was greeted by this story: 'I'm not angry with him.. it was a moment of madness': Cyclist FORGIVES road rage bus driver who mowed him down

In short the chubby bus driver in question sobbed like a baby in court as he was convicted for dangerous driving and causing grievous bodily harm after slamming his bus into the cyclist and flinging him 10ft across the road. This after they'd had an argument at a roundabout further back. The whole incident was caught on CCTV, which you can watch on the linked to article. Without question the bus driver's temper got the better of him and he deserves the 17 months in jail which has been dished out to him.

However, the bit of the article that amused me was the quote from his wife, apparently unaware of how cyclists are percieved by most road users she is quoted as saying: 'I still cannot believe somebody could do something like this to a cyclist.' That and the fact that the cyclist's attempts to be reasonable do come over as a little smug. I'm sure it's unintentional, I'm probably just guilty of prejudice when I read:

‘It goes to show how one bit of rage can affect so many people’s lives. It has affected me and my family - but also now him and his family now he has gone to prison.

‘He was angry and he let the anger get the better of him. But I do not feel any anger towards him now - in fact I feel really sorry for his family.

‘But that couple of seconds where he lost it he has affected a lot of people for a long time.'

NM

Weird little nostalgia trip ...

Someone's uploaded the final ever live Kerrang Show onto YouTube. I sat and listened to it today as I was mucking about doing this and that. It was a strange experience. Obviously I cut my cloth to fit the station in question and there's a difference in style here but I thought I'd post a link for people who might be interested in what it was I got upto prior to my current incarnation...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kmnRJaCE6A

The audio comes from the podcast which was really a show in itself. I always sort of prefered it, all the music was chopped and you got straight to the speech content.

NM

The unnatural world of the word unnatural

I am against nature. I don't dig nature at all. I think nature is very unnatural. I think the truly natural things are dreams, which nature can't touch with decay.
- Bob Dylan

I remember reading in, New Scientist, a year or so ago that 'everytime you describe something as unnatural you are making a moral judgement'. It was a highlighted quote, I'm not sure of the precise wording, and it really struck me hard. I don't remember what the article in question was about but it will have related to some controversey in science like genetic engineering or cloning. There will have been a load of people moaning about it and saying it was "unnatural".

For somed time now I have suspected the word "unnatural" is in fact a meaningless term which is impossible to define:

The dictionary defines it like this:

un·nat·u·ral

Adjective:
  1. Contrary to the ordinary course of nature; abnormal.
  2. Not existing in nature; artificial.

The first definition isn't very useful. Who is to decide what is and is not "normal"? How do you come to such a subjective judgement? If you substitute "average" for "normal" you get into all sorts of difficulties. Firstly once you have a figure which is 'normal,' say it's related to height, that specification makes most of your sample group either more or less than "average". The end consequence of this is, as Robert Anton Wilson used to say, "the average is that which no person quite ever is". The most famous example being the fact an "average" family is usually described as having 2.4 children. I suspect a ".4 child," whatever that might entail, would seem to most people in some sense "abnormal" and, if they still use the word, "unnatural".

I think things are usually described as unnatural if humans, which are necessarily capable of moral judgements, are involved. For example, most people think of cities as being unnatural but few consider ant hills or wasps nests to be. Just as a dam built by people would be seen as an awful blight on the environment but if it was the work of beavers, no "eco warrior" would arrive to protest it.

The word natural is usually seen as being "good" which makes unnatural things seem "bad" by contrast. If something is made unnatural because it suffers from the 'blight' of human involvement this makes all human influence, and humans by extension, "bad". So, people who shout that something is unnatural are, in my opinion, the kind of person who will opine that people are naturally immoral.

Look to the second definition, "Not existing in nature; artificial". What does this mean? Where do the limits of "nature" end? Once you've answered that question you can look beyond those limits and you've got your "unnatural" world. Supposing we start on the moon. Is that an "unnatural" environment and by extension "artificial"? No. Where is this domain that lies outside "nature"? Nowhere on this planet is outside of "nature" is it? Nowhere in the universe is.

The only thing which can't exist in this universe and is therefore outside of nature would be an imaginary construct such as a square circle. I'd argue that is unnatural, because it cannot exist naturally in the known universe. It can only exist in the human imagination, which is where the word "unnatural" should remain.

NM

Much Ado About Nothing?

I recently saw a poster for a small production of the Shakespeare play it called "Much Ado About Nothing?". The company had taken a controversial decision to add a question mark to the title of the play. It made The Great Bard seem as though he had that annoying vocal tick which some people have where their voice goes up at the end of each sentence like they’re asking a question. I had a couple of flatmates like that at university. It drove me round the bend, they were lovely people?

My brain couldn't help but dwell on this poster as I walked into town. It made me think of one of my favourite philosophers, Robert Anton Wilson, an advocate of the abolition of the word “is”. He believed writing and thinking should be done in what is called E-Prime, where “is” and other derivatives of the verb "to be" are erased from your vocabulary. The aim being to free people from dogmatic thinking and remind them that no one actually knows what the world “is” but only how it appears to be, to them. Most of Wilson's later work doesn't feature the word "is" at all and he occasionally claimed not to use it in speech either.

I’ve recently been thinking about this a lot and the Shakespeare poster got drawn into my internal monlogue. Although I accept the premise, that there is no use of the word “is” which isn’t suspect. Even the in that sentence the word is a bit dodgy so I’ll rephrase it: I accept his premise that, it appears to me the use of the word “is” feels suspect. It's a fact that we cannot ever say what “is”, we can only say what appears to be the case, to us.

However eradicating the word “is” I don’t think is the answer. It's too unwieldy and tricky to un-learn old habits like that. Furthermore it's not essentially the point. Instead, all sentences could be re-written with a “?” instead of a full stop? That way perhaps people will know we’re not sure but only expressing an opinion that we invite them to challenge?

I don’t think in the long run that this idea will work? Then again neither will everyone adopt e-prime will they? Although I also suspect I will not add question marks to the end of every sentence after writing this blog entry I think the point is made? You do not know how the world is? You only know how it appears to be, to you?

Nick Margerrison

Oh no! No mochas...

I've cut out the mocha from my diet. A combination of hot chocolate and coffee, The Mocha, was elected 'King Of The Coffees' in the olden days and has retained its crown ever since. Unforunately I was having about a dozen or so of them each week. You know those massive ones you get in places like Costa? Not good if you are, like me, on a diet.

They'd started to lose their taste a little anyway. I think it's the way they make them in Costa. "Oh, you get better coffee there" people spout as if it's a fact. Really, it's better is it? So how come I prefer Starbucks? Answer me that, with your "oh, the coffee's not as good in Starbucks, go to Costa, it's better". I suspect Starbucks is a bit like McDonalds or the TV show Big Brother: a victim of its own success which people hate because they think they should.

The market leader is always hated and despised, for no clear reason. Apple managed to pull that one to its advantage for quite some time as people flocked to it largely because it was seen to be the plucky underdog. The truth of course is that it is a far bigger company that Microsoft. It's iPhone business ALONE was worth more than ALL of Microsoft in 2010. Ironically, now more people are aware of the size of Apple, and the fact it's a clear market leader, stories which are critical of the brand have started to appear.

I'm still drinking coffee though. Just not Mochas.

God needs you!

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away" Philip K Dick, 1978.

Although I am best described as an athiest that does not mean I don't think Gods exist at all. They are real in the minds of those who believe regardless of my own opinion on the matter. This means, Allah, Jesus, Yaweh, Satan and a whole cast of non-corporeal beings are still part of my reality in the same sense as other concepts such as communism or capitalism are. In other words Gods are ideas but unlike communism or capitalism they are ideas which claim to be conscious.

The Gods make various incredible claims a few examples of which include; the creation of the universe, the possesion of magick powers, the ability to grant wishes if you worship them and that they are the only God around. From my point of view all of these asserions sound like blatant lies, particularly when we look at both the lack of proof coupled with the huge ammount of evidence to the contrary. The world of physical science refutes the creation myths, magick powers and ability to grant wishes. The historical fact that Gods are not new and have existed in many forms throughout the ages refutes monothiesm.

However this declaration to be in some sense "alive" is fascinating and not so easy to reject. A life form which is full of lies is still a life form. Infact the ability to lie has always been seen as an indicator of a certain level of "consciousness" and it is for this reason that biologists continue to investigate it:

When in a tight spot, animals "lie" to their own kind to get what they want, a University of Rochester biologist has found. [...] within a single species, it is possible for some members to deceive others. [...]

By proving that the weaker are able to deceive the stronger to survive, [...]

Biologists have long recognized that deception is commonplace in communication between different species. But most believed bluffing among animals of a single species should be rare or impossible.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE

Notice in this article that "deception is commonplace in communication between different species". Look back into the history of our interaction with Gods and it was always the case that people suspected they were being lied to by these non-human entities. Abraham arguing with God in The Bible is just one example of this ancient tradition. Indeed even the act of arguing is important because it reminds us the earliest humans recognised that, like any life form, a God can change its mind if you reason with it.

Before this article gets too esoteric it's worth pointing out that if Gods are 'alive' they only interact with my reality through the actions of their believers. The laws of physics might limit Gods in some ways but they do not prohibit those who take action in their name. In fact, that's the only physical evidence we have of the existence of these "life forms". Despite not having physical form, the Gods have actual power in the real world. They've, amongst other things, built churches, waged wars, elected monarchs, persecuted gays and set up charities.

There is a debate in society at the moment about whether or not religion is a public or private matter. Baroness Warsi, herself a believer, is warning that British society is under threat from what she calls the rising tide of “militant secularisation” reminiscent of “totalitarian regimes”. There's been the recent "controversey" over Bideford council's dropping of prayers from its formal agenda after a high court ruling and Richard Dawkins's MORI poll which reveals even UK Christians don't want religion to 'influence public life'.

Government is always better if it is "of the people, by the people". A God is not a person, even if it is "alive" in some sense. Personally speaking I think all our formal legal relationships with Gods, which grant them "real world" power, have to come to an end. Extracting ourselves from their control, in a legal sense, will take a while because the roots of it all go so deep. The tax breaks, prayers, public buildings and monarchs that we grant in their name are unlikely to vanish overnight. However once it's done the Gods will still exist, in some sense, and we will be closer to being a human democracy.

NM

My most popular blog entries of ALL TIME so far...

By which I mean they've had the most readers.

#1 Lion-O is my hairspiration

Reason: I think because a political blog linked to my picture, at the bottom, of Alister Darling and a Muppet who he looks like. It means this one has a regular flow of people who look in on it.

#2 It was ever thus

Reason: Some sort of US lads mag linked to this a while ago, I think on twitter. Not a great entry really but it got a lot of readers, some of them were clearly coming to it on email so I'm guessing it got forwarded like that.


#3 Aleister Crowley and The Call of the Second Aethyr


Reason: A number of small occult blogs linked to this one. It's also around the time of The Kerrang Show and I think I mentioned it on air.

#4 Housekeeping Post

Bit of conflict never harms your hit rate. It's the closest to a proper blog fight that I've had on here I think. Listen to the intro to this page and you'll get the idea:

"I've had to remove the comments bit from the bottom of the front page. It all got a bit nasty there without me even noticing. I've upset"


#5 Been ill


Reason: Mystery to me. There are much better entries such as The Awakening that're far more interesting than me having "swine flu".

11th - Saturday night

I do like Camden. I think of all the places in London that's my favourite. There's a nice vibe there, the people seem nice and the market is awesome. It sort of feels like a constant mini-festival.

As I was wandering round I couldn't get the thought of this Eurolottery winner out of my mind. Apparently he and his girlfriend (who have won £45 million) are being wished all the best by his 'estranged' mother. Imagine you had an 'estranged' mother and £45 million. I'm guessing that you'd be thinking, "ah, poor Mum, I guess now we're millionaires we should let bygones be bygones". What's interesting to me about that is it implies that rich people are by virtue of their wealth predisposed to be nicer...

It's an implicit assumption on my behalf that I'm not too happy with. It seems wrong because it's almost like saying that being richer makes you a better person and that conversely poverty makes you bad. That's not true, right?

Source: Daily Mail, EuroMillions: Estranged mother of £45m lottery winner.

Feb 10th ... I have a chapped nose

My short break in Amsterdam left me with both chapped lips and a chapped nose. It was really cold out there and as me and my two mates walked back towards the train station on the last day I could feel my face going wrong under the piercing wind. It looked ok at first but now it's crumbled and I have dry skin peeling off my nose and lips. I've also got a cold. This means it looks like I haven't used a hanky properly.

The thing about a face problem like this is you forget about it and are then only occasionally reminded by people's reactions to you. There's been quite a few double takes.

I've still not gotten round to deleting Facebooks... better do it soon, just not had the time to do it properly yet.

NM

Alan Coogan makes fans cringe on Question Time...

Self declared left wingers absolutely love censorship but practice it so religiously you'll rarely hear them admit this. However, they know there's something "bad" about censorship itself so the game becomes quite complex when they try to argue in favour of a controlled media. Particularly when they're on a format such as, Question Time, with a high profile celebrity who is on their side and it appears they have almost won the argument. It's at moments like that when they berrate and jeer a woman who has dared to express herself in a controversial newspaper such as, The Daily Mail, that you can see their devotion to the idea of a proper Ministry of Truth that would tell everyone what they can and can't say by full force of the law!

It's just a shame for me as a fan of, Steve Coogan, that in this instance he was one of the people full of rigteous and indignant fury as this woman, Ann Leslie, tried to justify having a different opinion to him and his mates. After all, he's a good looking film star who can make funny voices and pull amusing faces, she should have thought more about what he might think of the world when she dared to put her words on the page. It was in the jeering and booing that Mr Coogan and his lefty sympathizers, both on the panel and in the audience, made their censorial urges most apparent.

It’s a strange fact that you can guarantee the audience of Question Time will shout and jeer at the mere mention of The Daily Mail. They clapped furiously after Steve Coogan, in his attempts to defend Islamist Abu Qatada from deportation suggested “it may be that this man is just full of vitriol and hate filled views, in which case he could just go and write for, the Daily Mail”. Alister Campbell’s heckling of her opinion that he’d damaged the country received seven seconds of enthusiastic applause from the audience: “for God’s sake, 40 years on The Daily Mail and you talk about damage to the country?”. All this is unusual because we know that Question Time audiences are strictly cleansed and vetted demographically by the BBC beforehand in the name of “impartiality”.

Sometimes, as with Tony Ferrino, Coogan's solo material is so bad you just have to pretend it didn't happen at all. Thursday's question time will have to be one of those occasions for me. No funny lines, no laughs just a dour looking Mr Coogan who seemed totally out of place and out of sorts.

As usual he was calling for more controls on the press, almost oblivious to the fact that no one wants or needs such a thing. Listen, you and your mate Alister Campbell must surely know hacking a phone's voicemail is currently illegal. What do you want to do, make it a hate crime as well?

Stupid people.

Coogan's skill is making funny voices and pulling amusing faces. Ironically that is the only line I can think of to defend him with. He was, as he appeared to be, a harmless bloke who was out of his depth. The same cannot be said for Al (millions dead in Iraq) Campbell.

NM

Why don't aeroplanes flap their wings?

That aeroplanes do not flap their wings always upsets me. I'd just feel safer if they did, it might make the experience seem less reliant upon magick. As if to add to the weirdness of the experience, a flight from Amsterdam to London Gatwick is precisely the right length of time needed to walk up and down the plane with a drinks and food trolley. It's almost as if they have added a little extra to the journey just to give them enough time to try and flog you things. They sold, amongst other things, perfume and toys. What sort of toy or perfume would make an appropriate mid-air gift?


What about a bottle of Hijack? That'd be fun to order. You could shout it really loud when you asked for it. You know, to sort of show them or something. It'd really teach everyone a lesson about commercialism and stuff.

"Eh, here's one for you then, ho ho, you'll like this, ah... what's that one called with the angels where they're all falling out of the sky from a great height. Do you know the one. It's called like, we're all going to die because people aren't meant to fly or something. Even the angels get hurt when they fly or something..."


Then as you try and describe the advert you can enjoy the excitement your display is adding to everyone else's journey. Time for a change of tack, these people aren't getting the brilliance of your comedy. "Lets bring out the big guns," it's time to shout "... ha, ha, toy ones of course!".


This is sure to make everyone really react to you. In the ensuing chaos I think it's time to make some demands. Firstly blame everyone else for what's happened. Secondly demand they all apologise. Thirdly, be ruthless when the film rights emerge to this. No agents fees are worth getting ---ked in the long run when it comes to your legacy! Tell them that straight from yer ol' pal Nick Margerrison... also er, -

Meh, my mind is waffling ten to the dozen. The plane lands and no one has bought a toy, or perfume. Just a couple of lads have hot cheese toasties that they've realised they may as well eat once they get off the plane.

NM

7th Of Feb The Cult Of Nick Podcast double feature!

These entries are currently being published behind time but there should now be a double bill for listeners of The Cult Of Nick podcast. You now have access to a complete interview with one of the world's most exciting living occultists Peter J Carroll for you there. Good eh? It's all about sigils and stuff.

The complete list of them is here: http://audioboo.fm/NickMargerrison

Amsterdam is cold. Amsterdam's ice is slippery. Amsterdam is fun, as usual.

NM

Words become thoughts become deeds...

In an earlier entry I tried to put forward an old (but still unsourced) quote:

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”

It's a nice harmless little philosophy, right? Just a wee helping hand for everybody. You'll keep on the right track and do the right thing if you don't think too much about the wrong track or imagine the wrong thing. All ideas need a starting point and ultimately for all of them that's always going to be inside someone's mind.

Visualise success and it will follow in your wake. It's a constant mantra from these self help gurus I spend too much time on. So, before a meeting, if you can create and imagine a positive outcome beforehand you'll adopt the personna of someone they want to do business with, or whatever. I'm dismissive in tone but this stuff sort of works.

The unfortunate flip side of this logic is that it provides a pretty seductive argument in favour of censorship! If words and thoughts can naturally become deeds surely it would be better if we tended to those as a preventitative form of crime management? Our police service is already taught, almost as a point of dogma, that prevention is better than anything else when it comes to crime.

If we could censor violence from Television and Cinema screens, for example, surely we'd cut it down in real life as well? People mimick films all the time. They serve as advertisements for a lifestyle of violence. All it takes is one or two percent of their audience to copy their fictional examples and we've got a big problem on our hands.

"Yeah, but, not everybody who watches violent films is violent, I've watched loads and I'm ok". Sorry buddy, your argument is the wrong way round, who was it you thought we were trying to protect here? Those who watch the films or those who are attacked as a consequence? Those who get caught up in a bad situation because they like violence, in films, or those who are merely in the wrong place at the wrong time are two distinct people. The former was always on the "wrong" path where the latter is "innocent".

Imagine a film that portrayed one race of people (Jews, Blacks, Whites, any will do) as fit for nothing other than out and out destruction. All it did was show you how ugly and wrong that race of people were. Everytime one of them was killed a big cheer went out from the crowd. Would you be ok with that playing on cinemas all around the UK every night, to packed out crowds?

What, you'd use censorship in that instance but not when it was something you liked, such as a horror film? Oh dear...

The argument for censorship is very persuasive.

That this is the case is a symptom of all the rot our nation faces when it comes to the boneless zombies who flap about debating such issues. Here's the reality of the situation. Censorship is not something someone else can fairly determine for me, as an adult. What one may find shocking another might dismiss as a picture of a harmless spider. We don't know what sets other people off because everyone is different. That's why what you choose to watch or not watch is your personal responsibility.

This is MORE true of anything I choose to do to someone else. If I think it's time to attack someone physically I must take responsibility for that. It's not their responsibility, or someone else's, it's mine. I hit them.

The need people have to drop their own sense of responsibility is awe inspiring to me. They'd much rather have someone else take the blame, or even sometimes the credit, if they can remain anonymous and inconsequential. These timid fools who advocate censorship do so because they would like their tastes and habits to be someone else's responsibility. Nothing more.

Interesting how an idea can lead to different places, re-read the other entry and you'll see what I mean.

NM

The fifth of Feb ...

The plane takes off about an hour late but there's little disruption to our flight out to Amsterdam from London Gatwick. Ironic that I've spent the last few hours taking calls from people who have had their night ruined by the "travel chaos" of the night before. Mostly though, as became clear to our listeners, the main problem was a couple of lorries that'd come adrift over a few major roads.

Once I arrive I am whisked away to one of the areas infamous coffee shops where I meet my friends. I still can't quite comprehend how the Telegraph's opinion writer, Michael Deacon, believes there is a comparison to be made between smoking cannabis and murder. It astonishes me as I watch the people around rolling it up and smoking it.

The holiday time though was something I really needed. It was nice to take a few days out with friends. I'm also still the best of the lot at Chess. Much chirping about how 'it's a game of champions where only the supreme intellect can survive' made that extra fun.

NM

I've started contributing to Iain Dale's website...

Iain Dale's a nice bloke, I've started contributing to his website here: http://www.iaindale.com/contributors/nick-margerrison

What I like about him is the fact he's variously described as a "conservative blogger" and "right wing" but absolutely fails to conform to the stereotype those labels demand. Softly spoken and always polite his show is a great listen. It also frequently makes front page news in the national papers.

I'm planning to write an entry for him once a week, it'll be sort of cribbed from here as with the current article.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I fly out to Amsterdam to meet some friends and stay in a flat for a few days. This fun little break from the real world will mean fans of The Cult Of Nick podcast will have to wait until Wednesday for the next upload. In the meantime the others are all there waiting for you to download if you should choose: www.audioboo.com/nickmargerrison

The Leveson Enquiry

The modern media as it exists today is a fusion of two polar opposites. Like the twin snakes of the DNA double helix they dance as an uneasy coupling waiting to divide at some point in the future. One half was born ahead of the other. We call it propaganda but it's more accurately heard as the sound of a victor crowing over the defeated. The triumphant holler of a cave man that has beaten the tribe’s alpha male in empty handed, physical combat. The shouting of a knight on horseback who has decapitated a local elder and told terrified peasants he's collecting something called “taxes” from now on. What is his message if not propaganda? The army to which that hypothetical knight belonged may visit that town again in the future to one day to hang an advertisement on the local village hall: “wanted, fine men to defend the honour of King and country”. What is this, if not the media propaganda of yore?

However, to think of the media we have today only in such terms is to sell the rainbow short of its colour. The truth is, there exists a second contrary streak to this double headed beast. The second strand is the bitter supressed snarl of the fallen. It’s sound the snake in the grass which hisses as it leaves the garden whispering thoughts of revenge. It’s the rumble of dissent, ever present when the biggest caveman on the block isn’t there. The questioning voice of the shaman figure who debates a King’s entitlement to “taxes”. The sound of a mother who begs her son not to join the army and be killed in foreign lands. It’s a sound more popular than anyone can ever dare admit.

Our modern Western media is a fusion of both these forms of expression but it doesn’t like to admit it. The panacea of Government patronage guarantees a place at the head of the table but a veneer of consent is demanded in return. The closer to the top of the table you get the more you must hold your tongue to keep your place. However, it serves everyone well to remember that side which is born from the darkness.

The most obvious expression of this comes with “the pamphleteers”. They were a collection of 18th Century rascals, demagogues and religious hotheads who used a new invention called “the printing press” to write some of the most offensive and scandalous pages ever composed by the literate. These characters are frequently seen as creating the right environment for revolution! They didn’t do that by worrying if someone was offended or if their Government grant might be cut next year. The most famous of them was called Jean-Paul Marat. He at one point, almost symbolically, lived in the sewers, so hated was he by the people he attacked in his pamphlet editorials. For good reason, he would frequently publish lists of people who he thought should be put to death.

The legacy of these people comes to us through the ages via their offspring the tabloid newspapers or ‘the gutter press,’ as it is commonly known. "Outrageous" headlines and open political bias are just some of the trappings this heritage leaves.

I personally believe that the comparison between the printing press and the internet is incredibly worthwhile. “What gunpowder did for war, the printing press did for the mind” I would update to “what the bomber plane did for warfare, the internet will do to your mind”. The point is that the intellectual period which is described by the first quote, The Enlightenment, was relevant to a small group of persuasive intellectuals who mostly lived in Europe. This time round it’s an alteration of consciousness that will, in theory, touch most of the minds on the planet.

For better or for worse we’re about to see the kind of change that Europe saw in the wake of the enlightenment and without question the neo-pamphleteers are here. They write blogs, do online radio shows, youtube, tweet, facebook and wordpress. There are thousands of them and collectively they have a huge global audience. If the so called mainstream media is to compete it needs to embrace the less “respectable” side of its heritage. I suggest it claims the legacy of the pamphleteers, the gutter press and the sound of articulate dissent.

It's for this reason that I'm still watching The Leveson Inquiry with interest. It's a real boring media story but it's vitally important because there's a constant subtext to it: that the media by law should have a code of ethics that is written out and agreed upon by politicians. No matter what, this should be resisted at all costs by both those who work in the media as it would ultimately leave our profession barren and irellevant in comparison with the internet where the sharp tongued underbelly of the pamphleteers is more than welcome.

My attempts at small talk "fall at the first hurdle"

I'm in a pub discussing music with strangers. We've hit familliar territory as we discuss our love of the rock and roll produced in the late 50's and then throughout the 60's. "It's a great era for music, like this tune now, you could re-record this for the likes of, Lady Gaga, and it'd still chart and be seen as a classic," I hear myself saying in reference to 'C'mon everybody' by Eddie Cochran playing in the background on the jukebox.

"Yeah, you're right, I love all this stuff, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, they're good aren't they?" says the alpha male of this little tribe in an anonymous pub, located in the back of beyond.

"Yeah, they're alright. Overall it's a great period for music with the level of creativity," I reply a little unsure. The conversation has only just got going and I'm prepared to let a fish or two escape the nets of my trawler. "And it continues today, with the likes of The Travelling Wilburys," he says. This time though, as I try to agree with him, I can hear the crack of hell attempting to freeze over.

"Nah, man, they're rubbish. Awful music."

I couldn't do it. No one who likes music seriously believes that, The Travelling Wilburys, belong anywhere other than on the infamous TV clipshow "When good times go bad...". What is this guy? A moron? I can't agree, even out of politeness, to such a stupid opinion.

A so-called "Super Group" the travelling Wilburys comprised of 60's rock 'legends' such as Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynn. They are liked by idiots who think that artistic endeavor can be created mathematically. All those people did good music once, the argument goes, maybe if we stick them in a room together it'll be like all their abilities to the power of four! This argument is revealed as being moronic in the extreme when you're confronted by the audio evidence to the contrary, which they consistently produced. They became like a nation that makes weapons to be used against itself, each song they performed provided only ammo for their critics and empty hollow enjoyment for their 'fans'.

No one thinks, The Travelling Wilsburys, did good music, they only pretend to like them because they owe a debt to the performers. You bought a copy of their albums in tribute to past glories, nothing more. That's not to say that on their own these artists were incapable of good work it's just that with a collective effort like that musicians hold back the better ideas for use on future solo records. What you end up with is all the ego and non of the talent. "Supergroups" are for people who see their musicians as "superheroes" and everyone knows that the day the gimmick of two superheroes joining forces is pulled often follows a dissapointing 'real world' drop in the respective characters' individual sales and appeal. In other words, it always happens when they and the work they're doing is not what it once was.

This rant mostly played out in my head but even so I've failed.

I've killed the conversation.

The pub goes silent. Me and my companion leave as I'm told in the car that I still have a lot to learn as regards "small talk".

"You should have just said, 'oh, The Travelling Wilburys, that's interesting,' and left it at that," comes the advice.

NM

The start of a new month...

I had one of those weird dreams this morning where you wake up and feel like the film of your life has moved on to part two or whatever. Actually that's a bad analogy. More like it's a soap opera and they've cut to another scene. You know like in Neighbours when they show a bit of footage of Ramsey Street to indicate a new day? That.

The film analogy probably only sprang to mind because most people do that at some point or other, imagine they're in a film. Yes you do, don't deny it*. You've even put together highlights for a trailer. I know I used to, I remember once when I was off round a mate of mine's house and it was his birthday. He was a good friend of mine but his parents were committed Christians. The trailer for that weekend ran something like this ... CUE DEEP AMERICAN VOICEOVER: "He was a nice well behaved Christian, he liked to have fun, but only in small doses ... now it's time for him to meet: Nicky! And learn ... how to party!" At this point there was footage of me and him running and shouting for no apparent reason.

I can remember imagining this so well. At no point did I realise how cheesy I was being in my little mind. It was only years later as I sort through my leftover memories that this one looks so odd.

I have no idea if his birthday party did, in the end, involve me and him running and shouting.

NM

*Ok, maybe you don't. If you don't you'll not be the sort of person that adds their own sound effects when driving either. I pity you.

God rid us of The Queen...

This controversey over "Sir" Fred Goodwin is tiresome. At least he did something to earn his airs and graces. He has not got this title because he was the first born child of the 'right' parents, or because some people think 'God' chose him, or even because he has chosen to stick to the 'correct' religion. He has got it because he's slithered and shredded his way to the top. In other words, he actually did something. He was, in a manner of speaking, elected and not genetically selected. Unlike the woman who gave it to him, The Queen.

Firstly, there is no one who thinks the monarchy is fair. Those who oppose it make this a central plank of their argument. The irony comes when people who are in favour of it try to use this fact as a conduit for royal sympathy. It's a duty not asked for, we must marvel that they accept it. I've taken many callers in favour of keeping this unfair system of Government who will without irnoy ask for sympathy towards The Queen who never asked for this 'heavy burden'. Absolute nonsense. The whole thing is a doddle, you are entitled to a lifestyle no one reading this blog can even begin to imagine and everywhere you turn there are people who flatter you with praise in the hope they'll one day get a Knighthood. One of the world's biggest armies swears to protect you. And you become literally above the law.

"Oh, well, what would you prefer, Tony B-Liar and his kind?"

Yes, at least you can vote the likes of him out.

"Oh, well, err, it's just symbolic anyway."

Symbolic of what? I'll tell you, it's a depressing symbol of how deeply wedded this country is to privilage, pomp, nepotism, the cult of the celebrity, reverence for genetics and the slavish worship of power for its own sake. We marvel at the lack of ambition shown by Englishmen by comparison to the Americans. Compare and contrast our national myths! Theirs is that you can be whoever you want to be, President even, if you just work and try hard enough. It's even written into their constitution that "all men are created equal". What do we tell our children with our monarchy? ---- you if you're not from the right womb.

Ugh.

God rid us of the Queen.

NM

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