Thursday, June 28, 2012


Hello Bristol!

Hello Truro!

Hello Reading!

Hello Cambridge!

Hello St Albans!

Hello King's Lynn!

Hello Cheltenham!

122 gigs done - Edinburgh & Melbourne Festivals included... just 6 more to go.

No Slouch

I'm indebted to @Dellybean for this picture taken in Common Room 11 at the Houses of Parliament where yesterday's Mass Lobby For Libel Reform was taking place.

My Mum's first reaction will be to swoon over the presence of Brian Cox. Her second will be to tell me off for my bad posture. I've always been a sloucher.

Never mind the fact that this was the occasion of my first (and no doubt last) speech in Parliament.

Or that immediately afterwards we headed to 10 Downing Street to hand in a petition. "It's all very well fighting for free speech," she'll say, "but you should sit up straight or you'll get a bad back."

She's right. I should. But we should also fight for free speech. What with it being free speech and that.

One of the problems with having proper celebs like Dara and Brian involved is that some people assume libel is some kind of celebrity issue. They hear the word 'libel' and they think of Elton John or Naomi Campbell and their dealings with the red tops. The campaign has nought to do with any of that. It's about the way in which libel is used to bully people into silence. Rich individuals and corporations are able to silence their critics simply by threatening a libel action... because very few people can afford to fight a libel case.

Matthias Rath is a doctor who sells vitamin pills. Not that much wrong with that. Except that was claiming that his vitamin pills can cure Aids. And cancer. And stuff. Ben Goldacre wrote about him in The Guardian. Rath sued for libel. The Guardian and Goldacre won the case but fighting it cost over £500,000. They will never recover the full costs. Winning a libel case has cost them 18 months and around £170,000. It also means that a chapter about Rath was omitted from Ben's book, Bad Science. (Although that chapter is now in the new edition and online for free here.)

How many people will fight a libel case - defend what they think is right - when the cost of doing so is years of your life and hundreds of thousands of pounds? We find out about the cases where brave people do stand and fight. What we don't see are the books and articles that don't get published because of the fear of litigation.

A young NHS biochemist spoke at yesterday's meeting. He's received a threat of libel for discussing treatments offered by a doctor that seem to be, let's say, outside the norm. He is not a wealthy man. He has no reasonable way of defending his point of view. He can fight and win... and be ruined. Or give in. He won't blog about science and medicine in future. He can't afford to take that risk.

Libel long ago stopped being to do with establishing the truth of the matter. It has become about establishing silence. And in some areas - public health and other areas of obvious public interest - silence is the last thing the world needs. The world needs debate.

The story of Peter Wilmshurst - touched on here - is another that illustrates what is wrong with the law at present.

Yesterday was an optimistic day. It felt like people understood why the draft bill isn't yet satisfactory.

Like many people, I first engaged with the campaign because of the Simon Singh case. The fact that the draft bill that is before Parliament does nothing to prevent a case like it happening in the future (or the cases of Wilmshurst or Goldacre) shows that it is incomplete. It doesn't address the very situations people set out to address.

But there is time. Amendments can be added. And for that to happen, people need to keep the pressure on their elected representatives to keep libel reform on the agenda. Do please write to your MP.  And I'll try to work on my posture.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Libel Reform. Nearly.

I've blogged before about the campaign for Libel Reform.

I first got involved in it when I heard about the plight of Simon Singh who was being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association after writing an article in the Guardian in which he offered the opinion that there was not a jot of evidence to support the efficacy of chiropractic treatments.

I'm able to say that there isn't a jot of evidence for it because Simon was heroic in the way that he stood up for what he believed in, fought the case and eventually won.

I say heroic because it took a huge amount of time and energy and involved spending huge amounts of money. It was risky. If the first judge's understanding of the word 'bogus' had remained he could easily have lost... but even having won he doesn't get all of his expenses covered.

Simply put, libel is a lose-lose situation. If you're accused of it you can give in straight away or stand and fight knowing that if you win you're down tens of thousands of pounds and if you lose you're ruined. Which means it can be used by the wealthy to bully others into silence. It takes extraordinary courage - and an extraordinarily understanding family - to stand up for what you believe in.

The campaign has been successful. To a point. There is a draft bill before parliament. It contains many good things. But not everything that's really needed. Crucially, a case such as Simon's could still happen under the proposed reforms.

The British Chiropractic Association were given the opportunity to have the words used in the article clarified. They turned that down. They were offered the right of reply. They turned that down too.

I can't see why any organisation interested in the pursuit of truth would do that. It is through a process of debate that science moves forward. Instead, it seems they were more interested in silencing a critic than in engaging with that debate.

And that seems especially wrong when it's a matter of health. Indeed for all matters of public interest, libel should not be a remedy. Because libel doesn't result in the truth. More often that not it simply results in the little guy shutting up.

Which is why a Public Interest Defence really needs to be added to the bill. If a subject is in the public interest - and health clearly is - then the subject is too important for debate to be brushed aside in this way.

There is a mass lobby in Parliament today - Wednesday - to try and drive this point home. You can come and join us if you like. There's more information here. Simon Singh will be there, I'll be saying a few words as will Dara O Briain, Brian Cox and others. We'll also be delivering a petition to Downing Street afterwards. (My Mum is quite excited about this. It's not the speaking in Parliament or the visiting Downing Street... it's the meeting Brian)

You can also write to your MP (link) and sign the petition (link)

It's a simple matter of free speech. A simple matter of trying to make the law fair for all.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Young Love

In the window of a London phone box two sorts of Young Love are being advertised: 

Stay classy Jedward!

Absolutely June 24th

The two songs I brought in from home this week were, Greatest Hits by The Mystery Jets:


And No One's Ever Gonna Leave You by Toy Horses (although it wasn't this version... there are two on the album and I went with the acoustic one... I just can't find a link to it online anywhere.)

Michael Legge joined Danielle and me again this morning which means that as well as Ward's Weekly Word, Found Poetry and a second visit to Which Bong Is Wrong - we also had another dose of Michael Legge Is Angry. And very funny it was too.

Our topic for the day was Methinks He Doth Protest Too Much - and any topic that ends up with a tweet about two men turning up at A&E - both with garden gnomes wedged up their posteriors - and both denying that they know one another has got to be worth it.

You can get the podcast here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

What's In A Name?

The other day, after my gig in Harrogate, I saw this tweet from a member of the audience. I make a rule never to retweet compliments so forgive me for sharing this one. I think you'll see that it's not the compliment I'm trying to share:

I never really thought of my audience being that sort... so I retweeted it... as if I was a proud parent, sharing some grand achievement. Sort of.

I wasn't expecting the person concerned to see my tweet... but if they did, well I wasn't expecting them to join the conversation. But that's what happened next... with Mr-I-show-naked-photos-of-myself-to-my-girlfriend chipping in with the following:

To me that only made it weirder. How did he take photos of his back? Do people shave their backs? Why show her something she'd likely see for herself? So many questions! Why join in at all. A moment ago we were talking about an abstract stranger and now we're talking about you!

And then I saw his username.



Methinks he doth protest too much!

Thanks to Ray for giving me permission to blog about this.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Absolutely June 17

Danielle and I were joined by the brilliantly inventive comic, Michael Legge as a guest presenter this week.
Those of you who listen to Danielle's brilliant Do The Right Thing or mourned the loss of Gregg Jevin will already be familiar with Michael.

As will those of you are already familiar with him for any other reason. Obviously.

Anyway. He's brilliant. And he went a full two hours without swearing... so it can be done.

As it was Fathers Day we had a one off quiz - Top Of The Pops - in which our three fathers competed. I'm not sure it played out entirely fairly as the Dad who knew the most ended up losing... but as Michael's Dad cracked the line of the show it seems only fair that he won the title.

It was a busy show. We also had Chris Difford and Norman Lovett drop in to chat about their stage show, It's All About Me.

I love the fact that one of the nation's finest songwriters has teamed up with such a uniquely funny comic and they definitely spark off each other in a funny way.

It's lovely to meet people of such standing and to discover that they're so warm and genuine. Hurrah for things like that.

While Chris is always going to be best known for Squeeze (and they have new stuff coming up) his solo stuff is great too. His the song we played on the show, 1975 from the album Cashmere If You Can:

Meanwhile, the other songs I brought in from home were Flittin' by Meursault:

... and Devil Fool by Be Brave Benjamin:

Which as you can see, has a very don't-try-this-at-home video.
The free podcast, should you be so inclined, is here.

Hello Photos Continued...

This has been quite a week:

Hello Harrogate!

Hello Ipswich!

Hello Belfast!

Hello The Southbank!

Hello Tunbridge Wells!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Broken News

In the hotel I'm staying in here in Belfast there are free copies of the Independent. I picked one up on my way down to breakfast. I skipped straight to the Sport section as I wanted to read about last night's England game.

I was slightly surprised to see that the cover story for the Sport section  wasn't England's dramatic 3-2 victory over Sweden but the fact that rain had delayed the France-Ukraine tie from earlier the same day.

The England game doesn't even feature in the sidebar on the cover. Oh well, I thought, The Independent can be deliberately contrary at times. Maybe this is the Northern Irish edition and they're treating the England game as a minor story out of devilment.
But no. There's no mention of the game inside at all. There's an article about the five best goals scored so far and it doesn't mention Welbeck's brilliantly improvised winning goal. Not even in passing.

It doesn't take long to figure out that the paper was printed before the England game had taken place. I can't quite imagine how anyone thought the sports section of a national newspaper could make sense without the biggest sports story of the day. Wouldn't it be better to have late newspapers than early newspapers without the news?

Here's their coverage of France's 2-0 victory over Ukraine.
Except they clearly printed it before the first goal had gone in:
... and before most of the other details were known...
I bet dddddd's Mum is very proud.

I imagine later editions will be corrected... but what is the point of printing an early edition when it is this scant on detail? Who is buying it, when? And if it's just for the free copies that they distribute in hotels and airports and the like... doesn't it work out as a bad advert for their product?

Is this a problem in general with these Euros? Are other newspapers missing the same details or is it just The Independent?

I know newspapers lose out to the internet when it comes to today's news... to now. But when they lose out to yesterday's news as well...

Like a square peg in a round hole...

Does anyone know why hotel rooms tend not to have electric sockets near the bed?

It's true of about 90% of hotels. It's certainly prevalent enough to suggest that it's a deliberate feature. Or rather, a deliberate lack of feature. Plugging your phone in overnight and having it within reach doesn't seem like a big ask.

The other day we stayed at The Lowry in Salford. It's a swanky kind of hotel. Too swanky for its own good if you ask me. It seems to labour under the impression that convenience is vulgar. Rather than, y'know... convenient. There's no kettle in your room. But they will bring one to your room if you ask. In what way is that better? I mean, it is perfect for all those I think I might want a cup of tea in about 30 minutes moments. But dreadful for all those, Oo, I could do with a cup of tea moments. I know which happens more often in my life.

In The Lowry, there are sockets by the bed. But they're not normal sockets. They have rounded holes. The lamps in the room have corresponding plugs. But nothing you or I own does. That must take a special effort.

Someone somewhere has realised that there were going to be sockets near a bed in a hotel room... and then made a special effort to ensure that their guests can't use them. This is only mildly frustrating. But it is more than mildly fascinating. I would genuinely love to find out why this happens. In what way does it meaningfully benefit the hotel?

Are you a hotel designer. Do you work in the hotel industry? Do you know? Go on... share it with the group...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gimme Shelter

Window BugSo... we've just added an extra date to the tour.

It'll be on Saturday, July 14th at The Bloomsbury Theatre in London and it'll be a benefit gig for Shelter.

I wanted to do it for several reasons - and obviously the fact that Shelter is such a good cause was a big one.

I'm really proud of this show. I think it's where I've really worked out my best way of working.

But what is good about it is also limiting when I step outside of a tour.

A ten minute chunk of the show wouldn't make sense. I don't really have any material that works in a short set. This works to my advantage when it comes to a tour show - because the thing that's making the audience laugh in the 47th minute is informed by everything in minutes 1 to 46 and that intensifies some of the humour. It's not so good in a situation where a short set is called for. In that situation I can either do some very old material... or I can try and patch something together... but in either case it won't be an example of me at my best. This is what I do best. This is what I want people to see.

So often, when I'm asked if I'll appear at a benefit the answer is no. It's not because I don't want to support a cause... it's just that when you appear on a stage, you're representing what you do for a living. If people in an audience know that I'm a comic but have never seen any of my live shows they'll assume that what they're seeing in a ten minute spot is ten-minutes-of-what-they'd-see-if-they-came-to-a-show. That'd be the case for pretty much everyone else on the bill. But I'd know I was selling myself short... but you can't really explain that. "Oh by the way folks... I hope you enjoy this... but it's not really what I do..." doesn't compute in that situation.

One of the reasons people ask you to do short spots is that they think it's easier for several people to do a short bit. But for me it's much easier to do a show. To do what I'm really proud of.

Absolute Radio have partnered with Shelter for a while now, so they're involved too. I hope you can come along. You can get tickets here.

That Flickr Fiasco Concludes...

If you're a regular in these parts you might remember the ongoing saga involving Flickr and their strange policy that led to them unnecessarily deleting content without good reason.

It came to my attention when one of my photos was deleted because a company called Degban had filed a copyright infringement notice against me.

Of course Degban didn't own the copyright to my photo. They hadn't even seen my photo. They were working for a porn company called Wasteland. They had found a link to my photo on a blog. That blog also contained the word 'wasteland'. That was it. There was no other connection. Because my photo had been linked to by a blog that had also mentioned the name of their client's business their system had automatically sent out a Notice of Infringement.

Degban later claimed that their system had been hacked but were so bad at lying that they said the hack had happened several days after they'd filed this particular Notice of Infringement. D'oh.

I ought to add that Wasteland were fantastic about the whole thing. They were appalled to discover how Degban were behaving - there were countless other examples of them filing bogus takedown notices - and they were quick to fire them as a result.

When they receive a takedown notice Flickr are obliged to respond. They are obliged to remove the photo from view. What they're not obliged to do is delete the page it lives on, delete all the comments left on it and render any links pointing to it useless. But that's what they were doing. For reasons they were unprepared to discuss.

All of this meant that when a Notice of Infringement was successfully contested - as in my case - they were unable (or unwilling) to restore the content they'd removed. (Which is their obligation). Every blog that had linked to that photo (and there were many) was now pointing to a deleted page. I still had the photo - I had a copy of the original - but the photo's history was deleted.

I kicked up a bit of a stink about it. Obviously that wasn't my first reaction. My first reaction was to try and politely engage with them and ask them to explain their policies and consider changing them. But when they did their best to ignore any polite enquiries then I made it my business to kick up a stink. And lo the stink was kicked.

And when tech-journalist Jack Schofield started asking questions of their PR team suddenly the unresponsive company were transformed. The Head of  Intellectual Property Rights for flickr's parent company, Yahoo! was on the phone a day or two later and promising me that they were going to look into changing their policy.

It would be impossible to retread the whole saga here, but if you're interested in the grisly details of Degban's weasly dishonesty and Flickr/Yahoo's intransigence you could point your eyes here and read my previous post on the subject. It contains links to other earlier posts too, so if you really have the appetite you could pass an afternoon going back to the beginning and working forward. (There's also a good summary in this Tech Dirt article if you just fancy a quick refresher.)

Anyway... it's taken a while but I'm delighted to say that the story now has a happy ending. 

I'm pretty chuffed about that.  

Hello... Is It These You're Looking For?

Hello Treorchy! /HelĂ´ Treorci!

Hello Dudley!

Hello Salford!

Hello Swindon!

My voice has been holding up better than it normally does on a tour but last night it finally gave in making the Swindon show a tad painful. Hopefully only for me.
Today I am remaining silent. I will recover.
I'll have to because there is an intense week coming up with gigs in Harrogate, Ipswich, Befast, London and Tunbridge Wells. Come on down!

Monday, June 11, 2012

You know when people support their local theatre...

Ejector Seat, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

... and in return they get their name under one the seats?

Well hats off to whoever sponsored this seat at The Plough Arts Centre in Great Torrington. No vanity for them. No recognition. Just a giggle.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cagoule & The Gang

In August last year, while in Edinburgh, I found myself caught in a horrendous rain shower without a coat of any kind. Edinburgh weather can do that to you. I ran for cover and found myself in a high street clothes shop. I was on my way to do an interview that I knew was going to be filmed and so, rather than turning up like a drowned rat, I decided to buy a cheap waterproof jacket from the shop in question.

Here it is:

I have no problem using the word 'cagoule' to describe it. That's what it is. It's a cheap raincoat. I still wear it on occasions. Because it is very light it has been especially useful in the last few weeks of travelling in the delightful British summer weather. I can stuff it into a bag without it weighing me down or costing me space and if it rains - which it frequently has - then I'm okay.
In all the many times I've worn it, I've never had a sense that anyone has ever looked at me and thought anything other than, "oh look, that man is wearing a cagoule." 

 But that changed recently. While I was in Australia the second series of John Morton's sublime Twenty Twelve was shown on BBC4. I loved the show and luckily I had the foresight to set the Sky Plus for it... but it's taken me until recently to find the time to watch and enjoy.

In one episode, the storyline involved a young British hip hop star recording a song as part of an Olympics related campaign. And at some point, that character appeared as a guest on BBC Breakfast.

This is what he was wearing:

Astute readers will immediately spot that he is wearing my coat. So will non-astute readers. If your eyes are looking at the two pictures you can't not realise. (I imagine real hip hop stars are rarely seen wearing coats that cost fifteen quid... so hats off to the show's wardrobe department for dressing their cast so cost-effectively. But that is by-the-by.) What I want to know is how the same coat manages is a cagoule on me, but is cool on him?

But that's not where the strangeness ends. As Mrs G and I returned from our trip to Lewes the other day we walked, dragging a small suitcase behind us, through the streets of East London. As we did so we were approached by two young tracksuited men. They were carrying CDs and flyers. They set about trying to interest us in a gig that night. A hip hop show. When we declined the offer on the grounds that we were on our way home with our luggage they offered us CDs.

"That's odd," I said to Mrs G, when we'd walked a few yards past them. "Why would anyone look at me - a 41 year old man in a cagoule - and think I might be into hip hop?"
We paused. We both knew the answer. It was the coat.

This is the story that inspired this morning's radio show - and I was amazed by the number of people who had seen their own things on other TV shows. Thanks to everyone who sent an email, a tweet, a text, a facebook message or a carrier pigeon. You made me laugh a lot. Which is a good thing because I was knackered after last night's long drive back from Dudley.

Incidentally, the two songs I brought from home were:

Lucky... by Lettie.
She’s one of those people who seems to flit into the orbit of all sorts of other performers without ever quite getting the attention she herself deserves. She’s worked with all sorts of interesting people – including Chris Difford of Squeeze. (I mention him in particular for a reason – because he’s going to be joining us on the show next week alongside comedian Norman Lovett to tell us about the tour they’re currently doing together – I’m looking forward to that.)


Orion's Belt by The Robbie Boyd Band.
I've been listening to them a lot this last week. I'm hoping to get along to The Borderline to see them live on my day off from the tour - June 26th.

I'm rambling a bit. Probably because I haven't had time to stop and reflect. After the radio show - and after the podcast - I had to dash straight to the train station in order to board a train to Manchester because tonight the show returns to The Lowry... and I'm typing this out as we speed our way north.

I imagine the podcast will be out by now. You can get it here. Swindon tomorrow. We have a day off on Tuesday. But then the rest of the week it's Harrogate, Ipswich, Belfast, London and Tunbridge Wells ... and, of course, there's more to come.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tour Photos...

Hello Hayes! (That's Hayes as in Middlesex, not Kent or Melvin)  

 ... and then "ello, ello, ello Hayes!" 
To get to Hayes I took a train and then a bus and then a short cut across some grass to get into the back of the venue. I'd been there for two minutes when these two chaps turned up because they'd seen someone "acting suspiciously" at the back of the theatre. 
Having confirmed that it was me they went on their way with a smile. 
Nice chaps. 

Hello Dartford!
 Where my pre-show darting did this. A good omen. And a nice show too.

While I'm here and posting photos... this:
I wish they'd bloody let it outside.

Treorci tonight. Or Treorchy if you prefer. Dudley tomorrow... then back that night to do the radio show on Sunday morning before scooting up to Manchester for The Lowry on Sunday night... and then Swindon, Monday.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

There's A-Jubilation, A-Sweeping The Nation...

We've had a few days off the tour over this long weekend as it seemed a tricky time to try and get anyone's attention. (We start again tomorrow.)

Mrs Gorman also had a bit of time off - just the Monday - but even so, enough for us to try to take advantage during what is a pretty busy time for us both.

So, when my radio show was finished on Sunday I scooted off to meet Mrs G at a train station and we headed off to Lewes. (As readers of DGvsTRoTW will know, I like it there)

Our train passed over the Thames on the Cremorne Bridge at Chelsea where huge crowds were gathered to watch the flotilla go by. From the comfort of the train it didn't look like a particularly fun day out. The river and sky seemed to be matching shades of grey while the crowd - who had nothing much to look at yet - looked like a cold, wet shivering mass of red, white and blue.

When we arrived in Lewes we found a sunny day waiting for us. It was dry the next day too. We ate and drank well, we played Toad in the Hole (not a euphemism), we walked up a mountain and generally had a fun and relaxing time. As we left on Monday we witnessed our first three drops of rain... but when we got back to London we found the capital was dry once more. We definitely had the best of the weather.

Our motivation wasn't to avoid the Jubilee - we'd have barricaded ourselves indoors and turned the TV and radio off if that was the goal - but it was two days of fun that were completely uninformed by the Jubilee. Which is fine by me because I find it impossible to get into the whole worshipful side of things. I just don't get it. (I don't mind in the slightest - as I've travelled around the country these last few weeks I've loved seeing all the red, white and blue and I'd love it if the public buildings stuck with it when the Jubilee and the Olympics have passed... but enjoying the side-effects and the pageantry isn't quite the same as enjoying the motivation behind it all).

I don't know many people who are ardent royalists. I don't know many people who are ardent republicans either. I don't think most people care all that much. I think most people think the idea of changing things would be all a bit too complicated so while they appear to be a relatively decent bunch we might as well just keep on having them as not... after all it does seem to bring in the tourists etc etc.

I tweeted something along those lines a couple of days ago, saying "never before have so many people celebrated so loudly something they're not all that bothered about really" (or similar) and was most surprised by the reaction.

The majority of people who replied seemed to think they were being contrary when they said things like, "Actually, I think you'll find I'm celebrating the fact that we've got two bank holidays!" - which, of course wasn't contrary in the slightest and only served to underline the point I was making.

But others were angry and told me off. If I didn't appreciate the Queen, I was told, I was welcome to go and live elsewhere. Why wasn't I being patriotic? What was wrong with me?

I had no idea I was being unpatriotic. I don't feel unpatriotic. Far from it.  I just don't think loving your country and loving your monarch are the same thing. It's certainly possible to do one and not the other. And to be perfectly clear, not-loving your monarch isn't the same as hating them. An absence of love doesn't imply the presence of any hatred. I don't have any dislike for the Queen at all. I'm not convinced her job should exist or that anyone should have power bestowed on them by accident of birth but that doesn't mean I dislike her. I hardly even know the woman.

The truth is simply that I feel about the Queen exactly the same as I do about any other 86 year old woman I've never met. Y'know... I wish her well. I'd offer her my seat on the tube if I saw her standing. I'd hold a door open for her if I saw her approaching. I'd carry her bags and happily help her cross a road if the need was there... it's just that I'd do these things because she's an 86 year old woman rather than because she's the Queen.

"Would you rather we were a republic or a dictatorship?" asked one twitter correspondent, as if by offering up two such unimaginably awful alternatives I would finally come to see quite how lucky we are. Well the answer is that if push came to shove and it was easily arranged I'd rather be a republic, thanks. But as it's not easy I'll happily go along with the status quo.

But under any system I'd find the idea of everyone celebrating an individual's existence - be it a President, a Dictator or a Monarch - equally odd. I suppose the Republic is the one least likely to demand it of us. (And that's another reason to prefer it)

But for some, patriotism seems to be fundamentally intertwined with royalism. Our troops pledge an oath of allegiance to the Queen, not the nation - and even our National Anthem is about her rather than the country.

National Anthems haven't always existed. They're a 19th Century thing. The Dutch were the first. Theirs seems pretty woeful too. They sing about being of German descent and pledge allegiance to the King of Spain. Little wonder Spain beat them in the World Cup Final.

The Spanish avoid any such awkwardness by having an anthem without lyrics. San Marino do the same.

The UK couldn't keep the tune but drop the lyrics because the tune isn't ours and ours alone. The same tune is used for the American song, My Country 'Tis Of Thee (which Aretha Franklin sang at Obama's inauguration) and for the Lichtenstein National Anthem, Up Above The Young Rhine, as well as for several other songs.

But the anthems I like tend to be about the country. (You'd think that would be a pre-requisite wouldn't you?)
Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.
Great Britain is girt by sea. We should definitely take that line. The word girt just isn't used enough these days. Or ever.

Compare and contrast:
God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save The Queen
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save The Queen.
O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
God save us all.
Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save The Queen!
(Many people like to go on about the anti-Scottish verse... but it was never a part of the official national anthem. It seems several new verses have cropped up from time to time to reflect the politics of the day and some have become popular. But that doesn't mean they were ever a part of the anthem proper) 

Me? I really do wish that at least one lyric in amongst all that mentioned the country and said something,  y'know, nice. I said as much on twitter and received the predictable response of "well there's not a lot good to say about Britain is there!"

Which of course is nonsense. The country is beautiful. I know - I've cycled most of it. The country is tolerant. It has the NHS. For now.  It gave the world Shakespeare and Newton and Darwin and Tim Berners-Lee. Britons invented tin cans, cats eyes, crossword puzzles, the electric motor, steam engines, light bulbs and the periodic table. It gave the world football and cricket. All over the world time is measured relative to Greenwich. We have much to be proud of in Britain. If we weren't so embarrassed by the idea of pride.

But instead of singing about our inventiveness, our tolerance or our mountains and our rivers we sing about our monarch and how we hope God will look after her. Or him. That doesn't seem very patriotic to me. Just as celebrating the Queen's Jubilee didn't. In fact it seems quite the opposite. We could just as easily devote a June bank holiday to celebrating the UK and all get the bunting out and have just as big a party without having to pretend it's about her maj couldn't we? She could join in with it because, presumably, she's patriotic too. It'd be a bit more us-us-us and less me-me-me. Or one-one-one.

I always feel rather sorry for the Queen when the National Anthem is being sung. It always looks like an awkward moment for her standing there as thousands of people sing a song about her. Surely only Simon Cowell could enjoy that. If we are going to have a monarch - and we are - wouldn't it be nice if we had a national anthem he/she could properly sing along with? Rather than the poor soul having to stand there being stared at while everyone sings about them?

Some people have suggested we'd sound a bit cocky if we had a boastful anthem and while I'd prefer it to the forelock tugging one we have now I can see the point. So I'm suggesting a middle ground. A famous tune. A dance that everyone knows. But with new words that celebrate our okayness rather than our greatness.
Woah-oh the okay UK
Woah-oh the okay UK
Woah-oh the okay UK
Knees bend, arms stretch ra-ra-ra.
It can even be adapted to cope with however the campaign for Scottish independence pans out.
You put Scotland in
Scotland out,
You do the okay UK and you shake it all about,
That's what it's all about, oi!
Not that anyone would want to leave the union if that was our anthem. And how could anyone else hate us? We'd be the first nation in the world to have an anthem that everyone else joins in with.

Absolutely June 3rd...

Our show this week was about mixed-messages and was inspired by this letter:
I love the two lines of text:


which I'm pretty sure we can all translate as:


And you had plenty of similarly confusing mixed-messages to share too.

Of course, the usual features all made an appearance, we had Ward's Weekly Word and Found Poetry and guest presenter, Paul Foot gave us another dose of Paul Foot Explains. If you had any gaps in your knowledge of Summer Sports... well... this probably won't have done much to clear them up. But it made me giggle so that's okay. We also gave what I think was our first dedication away on the show ever. We don't give such things lightly. They must be won. I'm sure we'll return to It's My Birthday And I'll Quiz If I Want To again some time soon.

The songs I brought in from home were:
Pirouette by Stickboy

and Applejack by The Triangles. (Try to ignore the fact that this is a beer ad and just enjoy a nice upbeat summer song)

The podcast, should you be so inclined is here.
See you in Hayes, Dartford, Treorci or Dudley in the next few days, yeah? Not you, obviously... but you... yeah?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hello Photos May 29-31

The tour rolls on... and very enjoyable it's been so far.

Hello Colchester!

Hello Norwich!

and because we did two nights in Norwich... Hello Norwich again!

See you at 10 am, Sunday... on Absolute Radio...