John Waterworth

A sad story now. Chris’s dad’s mother, Isabella, had Chris’s dad out of wedlock in 1918 and suffered real opprobrium for it from the judgmental folk of Bacup. She was “damaged goods” and no man wanted to “take on” the bastard child of another.

But in 1944 she met and fell in love with John Waterworth. He was also “damaged goods” — he had had polio and used callipers, so no woman wanted to “take on a cripple”. But Bella loved him and he loved her. They married in late 1944.

Six months later, John slipped on the steps to their house after a rain shower. His callipers cut his leg. Penicillin had been discovered but was reserved for our troops or those that could pay for treatment. John was neither a soldier nor rich.

The wound got infected. The infection turned to gas gangrene. He very rapidly died. They had been married six months.

She buried him in a cheap plot behind her parents’ rather impressive monument in Bacup cemetery.

At some point since then, and probably after Bella’s death in 1970, the stone cross on the grave in front of John’s fell — or was pushed — backwards.

Perhaps this undermined his much simpler memorial? Or perhaps there was another reason that his gravestone fell forward and shattered upon the fallen cross? The plinth is still there, but the broken stone has long ago been tidied away.

I feel bad for my step-grandad-in-law (is there such a thing?) being left unmemorialised. I looked into getting a new stone. £600+. Ouch. But perhaps I could save up?

It wouldn’t matter though. The council will only accept gravestones from people who hold the deed to the grave. Bella, I assume. But she died in 1970. Her son Harry? If he had indeed held the deed, it was lost when he died in 2001. No new stone can be provided without it.

John Waterworth will remain without a headstone for the rest of eternity. Everyone he ever loved, perhaps everyone who ever met him, is dead. Once Chris and I are gone, he will be forever forgotten.

Until then, and despite being born 30 years after died, I will keep remembering him.

Sleep well, John Waterworth.

Originally tweeted by Dr Jamiebear 🐻 (@thisisrjg) on January 11, 2022.

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ said Alice

When I was a teenager, my dad went mad.

Yeah, sure, I can put that in a more inclusive way, or allow for the fact that he had Multiple Sclerosis with associated brain lesions so he wasn’t mad mad or something. Nevertheless, he went mad.

There’s no ideal time for a parent to go mad. It’ll scar you for life as a small kid, as a tennager, or as an adult. It’s impossible to deal with, even with a diagnosis (which we didn’t have until I’d fled our house at 16 to get away from it). The person you thought you knew is now a different person. And that different person is mad.

The descent into madness had been so slow – only on TV does it happen over the advertisement break – that we didn’t see it happening. Like a tree growing… you know it’s happening and a glance once a year tells you something has changed, but you can’t prove it, it’s just happening too slowly.

Imagine trying to explain to people that the tree in your back yard was very, very slowly getting larger. They’d either agree with you and dismiss what you have to say, or disagree… and dismiss what you have to say.

So we got on with it: living, going to school, moving house, popping to Gateway or WM Lows, living our lives as my dad went mad around and between us.

There were specific incidents that should – should – have told us that he was mad. He sold my record player to a friend of his without telling anybody else in the family (including me) when I was about 10. When the guy came to pick it up, my dad threw in all my records too. Because I wouldn’t need them any more, since I didn’t have a record player.

My mum and my younger sister and I watched this happen but said nothing. It was weird. Perhaps a bit mad. But, well, what can you say when this type of thing happens? To complain that something is wrong with the picture in front of you when it seems so very mad is also mad, isn’t it?

Four years of this type of madness later, I asked for a dot matrix printer for my birthday, mostly because it would help me pursue my dream of running a (school) magazine. And he bought me one.

Before I opened the box, he put me in the car and drove me to the nearest town. There I went into Lloyds bank and withdrew my entire childhood savings, £250, and handed it to him. He took £200 of it to pay for my birthday present, and then drove me to another bank to open a current account with the remainder. They opened the account, but it was NatWest, and their customer service did then and still does now involve stopping only millimetres short of telling customers to go fuck themselves. The guy in new accounts took the money and my filled-in application, turned away, turned back, slammed the window closed and drew the blind. After 5 minutes just stood there, I left.

My mad dad went mad that I didn’t have anything to show for handing over £50 to the NatWest. Two weeks later I had an account and a card – not the account I’d applied for and not a card I could use anywhere, and sorting this took three trips into town by bus because my mad dad wouldn’t drive me because it was my fault.

Of course, this person, this mad dad, wasn’t my actual dad. (My friends often called him my step-dad, and when I said he was my real dad, because biologically and legally he was, they would be surprised: why would a real dad be like that? He’s obviously your step-dad). My real dad is the one I vaguely remember from when I was little, who tried with no success whatsoever to get me into football, who bought kites and took me to the park to crash them into the ground.

He was the guy who, after my sister was born and it was clear that my mum could no longer cope with the horrors of the side effects of the Pill and neither of them liking condoms, volunteered to have – and got – a vasectomy. Now there’s a good guy. (Seriously, straight men and bi men with female partners: get the snip. There’s no greater present you can buy your female partner/s).

I’ve got the letters he wrote to me when I was a baby and a toddler and he was away with the RAF working in maritime Canada and the Falklands and various other cold and miserable places for months at a time. He tells his “darling Boo-Boo” (me) to be good for mummy and talks about the fun we’ll have when he’s back home, in six weeks or three months or whatever the 1970s MoD had decided.

And yet that’s not the memories I have of him, at least not without really thinking hard. The memories I have are of the guy who sold my record collection without asking me. The guy who made me pay for my own birthday present. The guy who picked up the phone one day when I called from a payphone to tell my mum I was cut and bruised from the (homophobic, although I obviously didn’t say that) bullying I was having at school that day who told me to get over it and then hung up.

I’m glad my mad dad is dead.

Sometimes I miss my real dad.


Header image from, uncredited

Pulling a 180

There’s something that the vast majority of people – especially the media in general, but also all of us on here – don’t understand: the art of the 180° turn by public figures.

It is very hard for human beings in general to change their minds on things. Studies have shown that attempting to persuade somebody to change their mind is more likely to end up confirming their existing opinion.

If you do manage it, the person who has change their mind doesn’t become a preacher for the new opinion they’ve adopted. They change silently, at least at first, or they turn back to their original opinion when your words fade.

Politicians are no different, except everything they’ve ever said is on record somewhere. And when they change their minds, we collectively deride them for it. We call it a U-Turn or a flip-flop or a backflip.

For that reason, when politicians finally wise up that they’re swimming against the tide, they don’t change their words immediately. Instead they do what Jeremy Corbyn is doing now: they try to explain that their 180 is entirely consistent with their previous statements.

This process takes time: announcing the 180 and giving reasons for it to ‘prove’ that it’s not a 180 done closely together are taken as a U-turn. Saying that your views have evolved is also taken as a U-turn. Politicians need to say that their current views are 100% consistent with their previous views, evolution or changes of mind be damned.

The press and the public will crucify any politician or party that does a 180, for good or bad. Most recently, look at the LibDems, the great hope of 2010: their 180 on tuition fees doomed them to 9 years of popular exile.

Any change of mind by a politician or party needs to be seen as being consistent with their previous declarations. If it isn’t, the public will skin them alive. And if it’s too quick, it’s also a U-turn and we’ll do the same.

For Labour, the majority of MPs, activists, members, and voters are Remain. The majority in the party HQ are Leave – even if only pragmatically. But that party HQ majority now have to change what they believe and what they want after Remain’s obvious victory in two elections running.

They can’t do that by simply declaring that they’re now a Remain party and believe in the EU. That would be a U-turn and the press and Twitter would castigate them for it. Instead they need to try to show that their views have not changed while also doing a 180.

Historically, this used to be easier. The time allowed for a change of mind not to be a U-turn was much less, because the news cycle was slower. But now there are 24-hour networks who need content, and all of us here awaiting any gap in the political armour to make retweets out of.

The Labour Party’s top people now realise the they have to do a 180 and become a vocal Remain voice, because otherwise they’re done for. But they need to square this with what they’ve previously said and campaigned for. And it mustn’t be seen as a U-turn.

The media will castigate them for a U-turn. The public, who have deserted them in droves already, will dismiss them for pulling a U-ee, even though the majority agree it’s the right course.

Corbyn has been smart enough – at last – to note this dichotomy and has thrown the party’s change of mind to late September. But the awful No Deal disaster will be upon us, a mere 4 weeks away, by then. More uncertainty. More lost contracts. More lost investment. More job losses.

But I don’t know how Labour gets round this. They *have* to do a 180 or they’ll be destroyed. If they do it too quickly, we, the people, will destroy them for it. If they do it on the proposed timetable – by conference season – the country will be destroyed before they’ve hoisted a single Remain banner.

We live in very interesting times.

He likes me. And vice versa.


Declaration of interest: I’m friends with Philip’s husband Tommy. Nevertheless, the following is my true view.

We buy more music than straight people, we are more loyal to the artists that inspire us than straight people, we are more vocal in our support of tunes we love than straight people… but us LGBT+ people are rarely the target for album releases.

Yeah, there are some specifically gay artists out there – Matt Fishell, who is enthusiastic but not always good; Steve Grand, who is good but not always enthusiastic – who aim for a gay (male) audience. But they do it more through YouTube and ‘going viral’. They leave less of a real footprint because of it. They’re not mainstream.

There are also mainstream gay artists – Cliff Richard, Elton John, Morrissey – who specifically avoid aiming for us directly and look more to selling albums to straight people.

There’s a sub-genre of male artists who take songs usually sung by women and sing them afresh, usually changing the gender of the object of the song. And there are those that leave the gender alone, but turn a happy song into one of frustration and persecution while they’re at it.

Where are all the happy songs, sung by a mainstream artist, where the object of the song and the singer are of the same sex? It’s pretty rare, alas, alas.

For this reason, Philip Chaffin’s new album, Will He Like Me?, immediately stands out. These are (for the most part) happy songs, songs that celebrate finding love. They’re from Broadway/West End musicals, so they’re crowd-pleasers (this is not a criticism, quite the reverse) and we’re likely to already know at least some of them.

And it’s a man singing about how much he loves another man. Songs originally written (often by gay writers) for women to sing about men. And here they are, finally providing some romance, longing and delight to a gay male audience who, just once, would like a gay romantic song that wasn’t all heartbreak and despair.

I couldn’t help but sing along (thus drowning out Philip’s gorgeous baritone with my own wavery caterwauling) with this album.

My husband, who long ago gave up seeking anything useful from mainstream artists that would speak to him personally, was enraptured by this album. It worked for him. He was delighted by it. And not just for ‘gay rights’ reasons – he specifically noted that Philip was one of the best singers he’d heard in years and that the album would’ve worked for him even if the roles were reversed and it was Philip singing about a woman.

Tommy Krasker’s production on the album is spot on. He knows where the music should come first and where the lyrics are most important. He knows when the whole sound should be quiet and refined and when it should blast our ears (in a good way). This seems to be a rare skill these days, and I last heard it used this well in the soundtrack album to the brilliant musical ‘Fun Home’… which Tommy also produced.

I bought Will He Like Me? on CD because I’m old fashioned, and also because that seems to be the way to give the most back to the people behind albums these days – streaming is basically worthless to the artist whilst being lucrative to the streaming company.

Nevertheless, however you choose to listen, it’s worth you listening. Enjoy.

Not waving

I’m standing in the kitchen of my grandma and grandpop’s little house on the Bransholme estate in Hull. It’s about 1985 and I’m 10.

Already a budding historian, I’d been digging around in a junk shop and had found a couple of items that thrilled me. One was a map of British India – the Raj – and the Princely States, dating to the late 1930s.

My grandpop had been in India during the Second World War, so I thought he might be interested and brought it with me on our visit.

Grandpop got up impossibly early. He always did. Every job he’d had – and there were many, none of the permanent, none of them well-paying or respected – had required him to get up early. It was a habit and now, impossibly old to my eyes but actually a mere 72, he wasn’t going to change.

He started each morning by having a full wash in the kitchen sink, lathering up his face and his tattooed arms and his chest, getting himself ready for the day ahead. They had a bathroom in this house, but hadn’t had one before and the kitchen had previously been the only source of hot water. He wasn’t going to change his habits just because there was now a room for such things, not least because he wanted to use the rest of the hot water to make a pot of tea, just as he always had.

My presence didn’t change this. He made us both a cup of tea, and had his wash. I continued to babble on as I always did and still do, filling the potential silence with a stream of inconsequential words. He chatted idly with me as he washed, not really listening but not blanking me either. Your typical grandparent.

I got on to the subject of my Raj map and that he would know all about it because he’d been in India during the war. Was that great? Wasn’t it exciting? What was it like? Was it fun? Did you enjoy it, grandpop?

And then, slowly and quietly, he told me about the troop ship that took him there.

He was conscripted with his best mate. They went through basic training together and were assigned to the same regiment. They were posted to Undivided India together and were both on the same troopship. It was too hot and the waves made them sick but they were young and it was an adventure.

And then the Japanese navy torpedoed their ship.

Grandpop and his best mate were plunged into the Indian Ocean. Grandpop could swim. Not well, but enough to keep himself afloat.

His best mate could not swim. He flailed and panicked and splashed about.

And he kept grabbing grandpop and pulling them both under. His panicked weight around grandpop’s shoulders was drowning both of them. A lifeboat or some other rescue was approaching, but the guy kept flailing and dragging them both under. They were both going to drown before it reached them.

Grandpop held his best mate’s head under the water until he stopped failing. Fifteen, thirty minutes later – a day, a week, a year, it doesn’t matter – and the boat picked him up. Alone.

At least one of you survived, people said when they heard that the other guy had drowned.

At least one of them survived.

I may be the only person he ever told about that.

He finished washing, made us both another cup of tea, and talked about what we were going to do for my birthday that day. Did I want to come with him to The Centre? I did, because the betting shop, where he played 2p bets on the horses was smoky but fun. And The Centre had a supermarket with an automatic door, triggered by standing on a lumpy rubber mat in front of it, something I’d never seen elsewhere.

We’d go to the betting shop and then we’d go to the supermarket and both take turns jumping on to the rubber mat.

Panic room

In 2010, as part of an experiment and learning exercise, we lived on World War II rations to see how it worked and if it was possible with today’s diet.

The answer was, yes, it was possible, but good lord it was dull and hard work.

But the experience is likely to become vital. On 29 March 2019, we will leave the European Union with little or no preparation done to ensure food security. The likely results will be random shortages and hyperinflation, at least in some key commodities.

This is what civil servants in the Department for Exiting the European Union expect; many individuals there have started to build their own store cupboards of food to ensure their families don’t go hungry in the short term.

Obviously, eventually a system to allow for food distribution to begin working again will be implemented. But it’ll take at least six months and the fall of the government to happen. Even then, that system might have to include elements of rationing – if the government decides that ‘fair shares for all’ is something it wants (they’ve shown no sign of this since 2010, preferring ‘devil take the hindmost’ as their mantra).

I’ve started adding items to my weekly shopping list to put away for that particular rainy day, building a brexit store cupboard to ensure that neither of us go hungry, but trying not to panic buy or add too much to our exiting overheads.

The first problems we’ll see after brexit will be shortages/high prices for fresh goods – salads, fruit, meat. There’s nothing that can be done about that – you obviously can’t build a six-month stock of tomatoes and bananas.

But the nutrition of fresh fruit and vegetables will still be required, so tinned goods are our friend here. Tinned tomatoes make up a lot of the storage space because they are so flexible for making meals. Tinned soup, tinned vegetables and tinned fruit in juice are also there, ensuring that, if nothing else, we keep up the supply of vitamin C and fibre our bodies need.

Next up are shelf-stable carbs – pasta and rice, mainly. The average Western European eats far too many of these anyway, to the point that people try to cut them out entirely. Both extremes are foolish. Carbs are instant energy and needed in moderation by everyone. They’re also really tasty and help to bulk out a meal to create a feeling of being full at the end of a meal – useful when you’re worrying if the country will recover at all from this entirely foreseeable nightmare. Flour is there too, but mainly as a cooking ingredient because my cakes and bread are always almost inedible.

Oats and oatmeal are a great addition here, as both can be easily made into both sweet and savoury dishes and absorb the flavours around them, creating the illusion of abundance. During the rationing experiment I made a lot of meals with mince, one third actual ground beef or vegetable protein, one third finely diced mushrooms and one third oats soaked in gravy. Nobody ever realised it wasn’t plain mince beef.


If you remember your Food Pyramid from school (it’s largely almost entirely unhelpful, but it’s a good basis to start from when planning meals; the above 1946 US Department of Agriculture poster is a better option), the next tier is protein. Ours is suppled by tinned fish and meat for my husband and bags of dried textured vegetable protein (TVP) and vegan sausage and burger mix for me. The latter can be bulked out with oats; the former less so. Smaller tins are better than large ones, as wasting food by having it go off is terrible at the best of times and virtually criminal in times of shortage.

The next tier is dairy produce. This is one thing that is likely not to go into shortage in 2019, but it is very likely to jump in price quite dramatically. Dried skimmed milk is awful, but it’ll do as a cooking ingredient. The Americans, no slouches when it comes to shelf-stable awful food, do various long-life cheese powders. By combining the dried milk with a good shake of a strong cheese powder, you’ve got an entirely passable cheese sauce, with which culinary miracles can be made.

At the top of the pyramid is butter and spread. These are not shelf-stable; there is such a thing as tinned butter, but that’s basically unfiltered ghee and is awful in almost everything. I’ve invested in lots of small bottles of oil – olive and rapeseed mainly – for cooking and for dipping and frying bread in. Small bottles because, once opened, the shelf life reduces dramatically. Buy small bottles you can open and go through rather than bulk containers that may perish before you’ve finished them.

There’s a temptation, especially if doing a brexit cupboard shop online, to buy condiments and those little flourishes – sauces, chutneys, condiments – that make food extra exciting. The actual experience of World War II suggests these are foolish buys. During the entire War, Fortnum’s and other such emporia were fully stocked with things like mint sauce and ketchup and stock cubes and all those other bits and pieces, often at very reasonable prices even at the worst of the Wolf Packs in the Atlantic. They were no use whatsoever without the main meal they do so much to enhance – you try having a cheese and pickle sandwich without the cheese, the butter or the bread, or mint sauce on a plate with no lamb or potatoes, and report back to me on how good it was.

We have 290 days, at the time of writing, to build up this cupboard. By adding items to our standard weekly shop, the cost should be ameliorated. If brexit is a success – please, I know already – then we’ll end up with a cupboard full of useable if dull foodstuffs to eat over the course of 2019.

Otherwise, at least we won’t go hungry while we take back control.

The Discovery vs The Orville

Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access US/Netflix UK)
The Orville (Fox US/coming soon to Fox UK)

I had long loved Star Trek in all its forms. As I was growing up, the original series was playing on BBC-1 in prime time (7.20pm on Mondays) and we watched it as a family. In my teens, I paid a friend with Sky to tape episodes of The Next Generation for me. Then I bought Deep Space Nine on sell-through VHS. I got Sky myself partially in order to watch Voyager.


By the time Enterprise launched, however, I had fallen a bit out of love with the series. I’d managed to miss a few episodes of Deep Space Nine and found catching up on the complicated arc to be difficult. Voyager slowly descended into a soap opera IN SPACE.

The later TNG movies left me cold. Enterprise did nothing for me. That was that, I thought, end of the love affair. We had drifted apart.

When Enterprise finished leaving no Star Trek for the first time since the late 1980s, I shrugged. Then came the reboot movies. I didn’t watch them.

Still, that’s not to say the love had turned to hate. I found myself looking forward to the new series Discovery… and then waiting as it became trapped in development hell.

But here it is. Three episodes in and… it’s okay. I’m not in love, but I’m not shouting hate at the creators on Twitter. It’s okay.

The series started badly. The first 20 minutes of the first episode were very badly written and the cast had no chemistry, which didn’t help them to read out the atrocious lines. But that’s the nature of pilots: the exposition required for the new audience almost always fights with the characterisation of the new crew. For the first 20 minutes, the exposition won.

Things then bucked up, with some great special effects and some amazing action scenes. There were still flashbacks, trying to explain how the lead character was a human Vulcan, and they dragged a bit. But the rest was more than just watchable.

There were niggles. Of course there were. Why is this series set between Enterprise and the original series yet showing technology, attitudes and uniforms that clearly place it after Voyager? Why not set it in, say 2470, a hundred years after the most recent televisual events? Why change Klingon appearances and back story so radically if you want to fit it in that tight and much fan-speculated slot between the prequel and the original?

But maybe that’s just me wanting things to be a bit tidier. The two-parter opening establishes some good characters that I can imagine will become firm favourites… oh. Then it kills most of them and takes the lead character away from the ship, accused of mutiny (which is correct) and of causing a war with the Klingons (which is most certainly wrong).

Episode 3 thus becomes a second pilot, introducing a whole new crew and a whole new ship and, thanks to a flash-forward, a whole new Federation now deeply ensconced in the war the lead character apparently caused. She also now caused the massacre in the second episode, the one she mutinied in order to stop that happened while she was in the brig.

A second pilot and a retcon, all in the third episode? It works, but only just. Which, so far, means that it scores “okay” again.

What Discovery is sorely lacking is humour. All series of Star Trek, and the movies, have had elements of sitcom to them. Some episodes were purely sitcom, and this sits well within the genre. It’s what makes Star Trek different. Discovery lacks laughs. It is all Very Serious Business.

Also lacking laughs, and this is far worse, is The Orville, the multi-talented Seth MacFarlane’s latest venture for Fox. Promoted as being a comedy about Star Trek, it turns out to be Star Trek with comedy. But Star Trek has always had comedy, so this is just Star Trek with fart gags.


That said, if this was Star Trek, it would be an excellent Star Trek. The characters are broadly drawn, which was always true of the ‘real’ series. The first four episodes deal with social issues – and some really, really hard social issues – that Star Trek should have dealt with but shied away from to its shame.

The budget is clearly smaller than that for Discovery – the CGI backgrounds don’t bear too much scrutiny – but this has forced the producers to be more clever with what they have. Discovery‘s special effects are gorgeous, but that has led to the director spending a bit too long showing us how wonderful they are at the expense of the story.

But The Orville‘s main flaw is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it Star Trek with comedy or a comedy about Star Trek? Either would work, but the latter would be funnier. After four episodes, it is still drifting between the two, often settling for the Star Trek with comedy, which is just Star Trek, albeit a more crude version.

This is probably intentional – MacFarlane would clearly like The Orville to be a long-runner, and a simple parody of Star Trek would soon run out of steam. Therefore the series has to stand on its own merits as a science fiction show in order to survive.

All of this means that, again, it rates as “okay”. Both series are… okay. Of course, I’d want more than that: either or both series being brilliant would be great as a viewer; either or both series being unalloyed rubbish would be great as a reviewer. But neither are. They’re just… okay.

I’ll stick with them. There’s enough there to make me happy to wait a week to see the next episodes of both. They’re not appointment television, but the non-linear nature of Discovery‘s distribution means that’s not a problem for them. It might be a harder ask for viewers of The Orville when it reaches the linear Fox UK, but we’ll see.

Until then, I’d recommend you try both series out. They’re okay.

Queerer than folk

Eighteen years ago tonight, Channel Four played the first episode of a new 8-part drama series, written by “children’s television writer” (as he was often called in the press) Russell T Davies: Queer as Folk.

The show was a warts-and-all deconstruction of gay life in the late 1990s. It didn’t hold back on the many alien elements of how gay life could be: drugs, an unequal age of consent meaning that the age of consent concept itself was ignored, blackmail, forced coming out, casual sex, loneliness, even bad gay parenting. The world presented in each episode was not a perfect one by any means, and wasn’t the one you’d choose to portray homosexuality in a good light.

But something about the brutal honesty of the show and how the characters remained likeable whilst being flawed struck a chord with an audience that I suspect even Channel Four didn’t think they’d reach: ordinary straight people.

The day after the first episode aired, I went into work buzzing from the programme but knowing I had nobody to talk to about it: I wasn’t out at work and the people I worked with were definitely not the type to be watching such filth.

Everybody watched it. It was the talk of the office for days. Everybody loved it. The straights speculated on the bits they didn’t understand, and before I knew it I was out and being asked to fill in the details (what did he mean “they didn’t tell you about that one”? and suddenly you’re explaining rimming to a 60 year old lady in a cozy cardigan).

Queer as Folk seemed to be a turning point. Casual homophobia at work dried up immediately, as even the most beery men switched from making gay jokes to saying “yeah, just like Stuart in Queer as Folk!” instead. Suddenly, and unexpectedly, gay life was normal real life. It was fine.

After 8 weeks of QaF, society itself seemed to shift. Before long, the unequal age of consent was equalised, the Tory Section 28 that banned discussion of homosexuality was abolished, gays on TV became normal, and we were on our way to Civil Partnerships and eventually equal marriage.

And I put all of this progress down to the after effects of Queer as Folk, and credit Russell T Davies with sparking much of this heady progress. Thanks, Russell. And happy birthday, Stuart, Vince and Nathan.

Both seasons of Queer as Folk are available on Channel Four’s All4 on-demand service, together with Russell T Davies’s later gay dramas for the network, Cucumber and Banana.

Don’t Let’s Be Beastly To The Nazis

A head-scratching part of the recent terrifying rise of the far right into positions of influence in western democracies has been accompanied by various people on the left loudly saying that (a) we have enabled the far right by making them into comedy figures, and (b) we should engage with Nazis rather than punching the fuckers in the face.

To deal with the second point first: famously-punched Nazi scum Richard Spencer, who was punched while in the middle of a live primetime unchallenged interview with Australian national broadcaster the ABC, and later again whilst being give free, unchallenged access to the masses by television, says he is now too frightened to leave his house to give interviews.

I can’t for the life of me think of a downside to this. A man who preaches hate for people of colour, Jews, LGBT+, anybody who isn’t him, who advocates – indeed, argues strongly for – concentration camps and the mass gassing and cremation of people who aren’t him, is now too scared to appear on TV.

Good. About fucking time.

As for “enabling” the Nazi scum by taking the piss of them: the people who complain about this are an unholy alliance of those who dealt with bullies at school by hiding from them and now never speak up ever…

…and those on the ‘left’ who have drifted so far to the left that they’ve come round and met themselves at the other side and are happy and content in the midst of fascists (you know who you are, Laurie).

The Second World War, you remember, the last time fascism was a powerful force in the world, featured just the same type of people wringing their hands and calling for us to be nice to the Nazis. We were nice to them. And then a war that enveloped the entire world and only ended with the use of nuclear weapons happened.

And during that war, we – the not-fascists – continued to make jokes about our foes, even as they dropped tonnes of bombs on our heads.

And it drove them mad. All the counter-propaganda in world produced nothing like the hilarity in the Home Front and the extreme anger in the Axis as the type of satirical and comedy songs we sang to ourselves and broadcast at them.

For instance, this from Florrie Desmond, laughing at Mussolini:

Or this from Spike Jones in the United States suggesting that farting in Hitler’s direction would annoy him (the song annoyed the people in charge of his jamming equipment, and also the remaining appeasers on the board of the FCC at least):

And Arthur Askey had a thing or two to say about Rudolf Hess suddenly making a run for it in 1941:

On that basis… keep taking the piss of the Nazis, it drives them mad. And keep punching the fuckers, just because.

Twitter: home of the clueless

Twitter has a problem with Nazis spouting pro-genocidal bullshit and targeting people of colour, LGBT+ and women with doxxing and all manner of disgusting abuse.

If you report it, Twitter, as “the free speech wing of the Free Speech Party”, tells you there’s nothing wrong.

But if you, as an ordinary human being, reply back with a swear… you get punished.

Slow. Hand. Clap.