Monday, 16 May 2011

Mayday! Mayday! Does Lady Gaga need help?

OK, the big question:

Does Lady Gaga need help?

I ask because she looks knackered from seemingly trying far too hard. It's not enough it seems for the music to speak for itself. Oh no. She has to ram her 'art' down our throats. Which would be fine - she's an entertainer as well as an artist but in a recent interview with the NME, she showed a distinct lack of humour.
She was even in tears at one point in response to what seemed a reasonable and innocent question. 

Irony, we're told, is something the Americans don't do but they know how to self-deprecate. How else do you explain Kathy Griffin?

But I've digressed - in Gaga's attempts to shock (us into what I do not know) she has become a caricature of herself in a very short space of time.

She has limited her own shelf life.

We know she's "outrageous" so we expect it of her but this doyenne of the digital age has forgotten that our attention span evaporates now before it's had time to get started.

So where does Gaga go from here?

And do we care?

Well my thoughts on it is that once she's realised the game is up, Gaga's alter ego Stefani will kill off the Fame Monster (and remember where you heard it first) and will emerge to write a book about her most successful creation: Lady Gaga; an artificial product manufactured purely to show the world how transient fame can be. Stefani, or Professor Germanotta, will burble on about the trajectory of celebrity, using her own creation as an example of a clinical trial gone mad.

There'll be chat shows (naturally), interviews (obviously) and she'll have a nice little money-spinner to help top up her pension.

If she doesn't go down the "I was fooling witchoo y'all all along" approach then in time the only outfit we'll see Gaga wearing could be one of those jackets with the belts and the funny arms.

My advice?  Lighten up girl and do what you gotta do but enjoy it cos at the moment you look as if you're trying to prove something.

But I'm not sure what that is. It could be that I'm an old fart too unhip to "get it". But music is an energy at its purest form in motion - it moves us precisely because it plays on our (e)motions.

Listening to music shouldn't be hard work but somehow you've turned being a musician - surely one of life's more enjoyable occupations - into a grim exercise where the public are invited to "get" what you do.

As the late great Barry White sang - I don't want to work that hard!

One day it will be over and there'll be someone else in Gaga's place and if she's still around she'll no doubt do what Madonna's doing now - looking on and shaking her head with a knowing and wry smile.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Royal Wedding Day(zzzzz)

Fings ain't wot they used to be!

Back in the day when Charles and Di got hitched, we all huddled around the telly for the marriage-thon of the century.

Unthinkable today but the coverage was on all four stations (four! I know - how the blazes did we cope?) and it ignited the nation.

Today? Well, the world's grown up and we've got better things to do and more important things to worry about.

Aside from the suspicion that Will would rather the public simply...went away, the monarchy ain't busting a gut to get us involved. And why should they?  Despite all the talk it's not our wedding!  If it was we'd be there with our tupperware and a bit of foil ready to tea-leaf the delights of the buffet.

Our role is up (or down) there with the rice and confetti. We're to gasp as we gawp as we wave our little flags so that the royals in passing by can dribble magic dust on our heads.

Although in time will be it fair to say that the world is passing them by?

For Wills' and Kate's wedding seems awfully moribund. Sure the glossies are frothing by poring over Kate's clothing, but anything genuine seems as thin as the heir's hair.

Perhaps the problem is William - for it's my theory that if he was a bit more...fanciable, maybe there'd be more interest.

"How did she manage to tame HIM?" we'd cry or "Look at her lucky cah! Look what she's landed and he's richer than God!"

But we're not saying that at all.

OK, so Wills is no heart-throb. Not everyone can have the smouldering heat of a Jeremy Paxman (grrrrwooof!) but taking into account everything the prince has gone through - why is it that at 28 he looks more like 48? And it's not just the hair. Sean Connery, who's probably 108 and as bald as a desk, is still in fine nick. Even the actor Yul Bryner could hold his own and not only is he totally bald but he's also totally dead.

It's my belief that if anything, most rational smart and sussed young Brits think: "Sweet bubby Moses! Not only is she going to have to sleep with him forever, while she watches with dismay as he morphs into Prince Edward, but every Christmas - without fail - it'll be up to Balmoral for the drambuie and corgi pie."


Oh well. Who cares what we think? We've got our bank holiday so the nobility will thank us to jolly well jog on.

And don't think I'm anti-royal cos I'm not really - rather them than a dictator - but this fawning deference over a "firm" who view the public as plebs and a nuisance is odd.

One question though - what will happen to all the royal mugs? And I'm referring to the clay variety rather than those who bought the tea towels and coins. If anyone knows, mail me.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Liberating Libya: well oil be damned...

There's a war on - have you noticed?

Nowadays when we talk about stuff happening 'before the war', we have to quantify which one. There's been that many we're almost spoilt for choice.

I'm hardly Grandma Moses yet in my time there's been the:
  • Falklands
  • Gulf 1 and 2, Iraq
  • Afghanistan and now Libya
Except we're not really at war with Libya, we're there to take their oil. Oops nope! Start again. We're NOT at war with Libya, we're liberating the people. And this is a good thing.

But I wonder what the British Government would say though if an outside nation swooped into liberate us? But I digress. The coalition forces, as sanctioned by NATO, are protecting the Libyan people from the force of 'mad' Gaddafi.

No doubt he's had a stranglehold but let us not forget who helped him achieve that; for was it not Britain who supplied him with military arms and weapons? The very same weapons he's now using on his people? Similarly, when Tony Blair trudged into the desert to break bread with the crazy colonel, he did so to secure an oil deal worth millions of pounds.

Fine (for us) some would say; his is the world we live in and business means trading with those who we don't agree with. Fine again.

But if it was OK to take his money a few years ago, at what point did we suddenly realise that "holy shit he's really crazy"?

Now I'm no expert but it doesn't add up.

Of course the big question now (that President Obama is desperate to avoid) is what the fug do we do with Gaddafi if and when we capture his stronghold?
Sure, let's have a no-fly zone and show these ruddy dictators that the West don't take no shit! But what the hell do we do if we're successful in deposing them?

Do we slip a noose round their neck in the dead of night as we did with Saddam?To my mind a shameful episode in recent history, or do we turn a blind eye as disposed leaders make a run for it? And where will they run to? The Hague? Hardly.

You see with Saddam now it might have been more constructive (certainly as an example to other political failures) to strain out his days haunted by the ghosts of his memories. I don't know if hanging him achieved very much except to eliminate him from the planet. The people he tormented are still living with their pain and we in the West have to hope that their lives have gotten better.

Will the lives of Libyans get better if we eliminate Gadaffi? Who knows? Who's to say that there won't be a replacement regime that is worse than his!
No wonder Obama's "dithering" according to reports. Who could blame him for thinking: "OKaaay. Now what?"

Because not only is there the problem of what we do with Gadaffi; after 40 years of dictatorship (and he can't have been that mad to have survived so long), who's primed to take over? Like the proverbial length of string, it's a question we may struggle to answer.

Monday, 7 February 2011

OMG! Have you got a shit boss?

If you've got a shit boss how do you survive?

It's all very well 'managing the manager' but what if they're a know-it-all fuck - and incompetent with it - refusing advice and cocking things up?
I've had two shit bosses and both were very very odd.

The first - a male but certainly not a man - we'll call Crapston.

Crapston, bless him, was utterly useless. He had blagged his way into a job assuming it to be a nice little earner, shit-easy and cushy. He was given the title 'Head' (although 'Knob' would have been more appropriate) but was so bone-crushingly backwards that I nearly gnawed my knuckles off through raw exasperation.

What was really un-nerving was that Crapston knew he was shit yet was clever enough to hide it. His own managers never challenged him but then to have done so might have exposed their own failings.

It was a similar sort of story with rubbish boss number two who I think we'll call Shite-Ella.

Boy was this woman rubbish!

Every moment it was if she had something to prove and ended up doing my head in. It was as if I were dealing with someone who insisted the grass was blue and the sky was green. So wrong and on so many levels that I became boss-eyed with befuddlement.

Still, you can learn something from even the most hopeless of managers and even if it's nothing more than vowing to yourself that you will never be a Crap/Ella, some good can come out of it.

So in the interests of public health, let us take a look at some of the habits of the Shit Boss:

(1)    It is never their fault.

(2)    Yet when things go right they're the first to claim credit.

(3)    They're weasels and liars.

(4)    They never play straight.

(5)    They'll hide their mistakes or put the blame on you.

(6)    Their arseholes seize up should you receive some praise.

(7)    They're lazy.

(8)    They're inappropriate and unprofessional.

(9)    They never share guidance yet they'll waste your time giving duff information.

(10)   They're usually wrong.

(11)   You can't trust anything they say.

(12)   They're "forgetful" saying one thing one minute then something else the next.

(13)   And finally, if you listen to them, you'll end up as crap as they are.

If you recognise your manager in any of these descriptions then God help you, you could have a shit boss.

If you recognise yourself in that list then boy you are in trouble. And don't think that because nothing's been said that people haven't cottoned on. They have but because of your seniority (likeability even) or simply because of who you are 'in' with, collegues are forced to keep shtum.

These are desperate times and very few people can afford to lose their jobs. So they'll put up and shut-up. But at some point the truth will out.

Therefore here's my advice if you're working for a shit boss or if you yourself are a pile of pants:

Long suffering staff
If you've got a rubbish manager and there's no-one you can turn to and if you can afford to, don't bother with the A-team, just get the hell outta Dodge! If you love your job and there is someone you can trust, talk to them, they might be able to help. Don't shoot yourself in the foot though. Make sure that the person you confide in isn't going to run back and blabbermouth your name.

Piss poor managers
If you're shit then here's what you do to put your team out of their misery - take early retirement and bugger off.  Or if this isn't an option ask yourself this - what the hell are you doing (quite literally) in your job? If you can't bear the work then fine but at least allow your team to do theirs. You can do whatever you do when you're at work - go to the pub, wank off in the toilets, poke round on Facebook, whatever - but let the competent members of your team get on with it because believe you me, even though no-one might have told you to your face, you're about as desireable as a shoe full of cold vomit.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Why fashion has kicked the bucket

In fact fashion is so dead that even Jesus would have had trouble raising it.

But for those who've invested their lives in it, it's a truth that can never be aired. Why? Because to do so would be to expose a racket that can add substantially to the GDP of a nation.

Let me explain.

If a definition of fashion is to be 'in and of the now', then by its very nature, as soon as something's in fashion, it's already obsolete.

And yet we're encouraged to chase after an elusive 'look' for each season as if it's critical to life.

But how many people really buy into fashion? Once you get past your teens, you wear what's comfortable, what's affordable and what suits. You begin to realise that being younique works better than being a sheep.

Take the shock of square shoulder-pads that dominated last year's look for women.

Yes a shoulder-pad in a jacket can add form and structure but the nonsense that was sold in the shops was a joke. You had big old pointy shoulder-pads on tee-shirts, dresses and even handbags. OK perhaps not handbags but you get my drift.

I hardly saw anyone busting that look - maybe because it was unflattering. Who then decided that arrow-head shoulders would be a good look? In fact where do these things get decided?

Shoes are another befuddlement.

Have you ever seen a woman trying to walk in a 'fierce' shoe? Very few can carry it off. In fact, they probably wish someone would carry them off.

The shoes not only look painful to walk in but they're bogged down in buckles, straps, bits of metal poking out; all adding up to one heavy looking shoe. But it's not just the shoe that's heavy, the price tag can be hefty too. And for what? You're paying the price - quite literally - for wobbling down the road in something that's akin to an instrument of torture.

Why do women do it to themselves? And yet we know the truth because the popularity of flats and ballet pumps shows no sign of abating.

So when we will wake up that fashion itself is now out of fashion?

When we will see that following a look gets you nowhere and that it's much more fun to be an individual.

Have we become so sheep-like, so fearful of being seen as - gasp! - different that we're prepared to play a game where the rules are made-up and arbituary?

I say let's celebrate our individuality. Let's opt for comfort. Let's be ourselves and buy clothes that fit who we are. And if celebrities want to faff around with fashion - let them. After all their job is to entertain us.

Thursday, 27 January 2011


Last night's ten o'clock news on the beeb showed the Taliban's grip on Afghanistan.

Viewers watched clips of a woman being stoned to death for adultery. When she didn't die, she was shot.

All we saw were glimpses but - trust me - it was enough.

To think that we share a planet with people who believe that it's right and OK to stone another human being for the 'crime' of adultery isn't just frightening, it's inconceivable.

We know this and many of those who live under the Taliban's rule know this.

So aren't we lucky to live in a country like Blighty where we can say what we want.

Or can we?

The Anglican bishop who was forced to recant his thoughts last year regarding the marriage of William and Kate will be forever haunted by his public slapping down.

And what did he say that was so terrible? All he said was that he didn't think it would last.

Ungracious perhaps but did he really deserve his verbal stoning?

Look too at the fate of Sky's er, former sports presenters Richard Key and Adam Gray. Their comments weren't flattering but did anyone die?

Whilst denouncing the inhumane in other countries, we need to make sure that we're not heading that way ourselves.

Don't get me wrong, every arsehole deserves to get their comeuppance.

If someone is insulting you and making you feel bad simply because they can, you will live for the day when life dishes to them the exact same treatment, but we have to allow ourselves to be human.

Because if we don't we might one day get bitten on the bum (or worse) by the very things we've agreed to.

How the posh govern Britain

We know the posh govern Britain - it's never been any other way.

And the only reason I say this is because Andrew Neil fronted a documentary last night called: Posh and Posher: Why Public School Boys Run Britain.

It was fascinating and showed pretty much what most of know; that the 'Old Boys Network - what?' is alive and well.

But even if we weren't aware of it, it's pretty much in our face in the form of the Coalition.

Andrew Neil's take on it was why?

How is it, he asked that we have gone from having a (budding) meritocracy where a grocer's daughter (Thatcher) and a circus worker's son (Major) were voted into the highest position in the land to the current stranglehold of the Cabinet which is dominated by Old Etonians.

Well, said Jacob Rees-Mogg, an MP so posh that he lives in a "hice", these people were voted in because the electorate felt they had the aptitude for the job. Which is fair enough.

But that still doesn't explain why Eton and Oxford combined have produced around 24 of Britain's Prime Ministers. Are those who attend there groomed for power?

According to former students Andrew Neil spoke to, the answer was an obvious yes.

Oxford's debating chamber is known to be a mini-Parliament. You're encouraged to not just speak your mind but to stand your ground. There's also a degree in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) which is the starter point to a political career. The programme pointed out that Clegg, Cameron and both the Milliboys took PPE.

So viewers were given a glimpse into the cosy world of those who were 'born to rule' but it's a world, explains Neil, which would be very hard for anyone outside to break into.

But are we surprised and would we want to?

If your parents sent you to Eton, it's not so you can empty bins for a living - of course that's understood. But what is hard to grasp is how ability, talent and determination from the working classes can still amount to naff all.

Mind you, perhaps that's too broad a statement. Tory MP David Davies was brought up on a council estate while Labour's Alan Johnson was a former postie. These guys made it. And of course let's not forget Diane Abbott.

Unfortunately the programme didn't get round to speaking to her. Although she went to Cambridge, it would have been interesting to see if it carried the same 'breeding ground' for power as Eton and Oxford do.

Part of me thinks though - does it matter? I mean if there are those who are desperate for power, let them have it.

Real power is knowing that you're free to do whatever you want in a way that causes harm to neither yourself or anyone else. It's having complete peace of mind.

Although most governments are eager to wrap their tentacles around our lives, why not let them do the hard work while we get on with living.

I know that's a simplistic way of looking at it but if for the foreseeable future we're likely to have some form of government by people who are desperate to govern. Let them.

As long as we maintain a democracy and as long as we have what we need, let's work on a way of living that eliminates the need for government to meddle. That way those who feel they are 'destined' for greatness but who simply want to lord it over us will have been given an empty power.