So Michael Jackson is dead and the tributes pour in for a man who is one of the most famous pop stars of all time and one of the most famous paedophiles. A true definition of the word dicotomy. I can’t think of anyone who has touched people at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum as Jackson has. Love him or hate him you can’t ignore him.

I’m no fan of his, but I know all his songs. I spent a whole  hour long meeting at work recently with a couple of colleagues trying to fit as many Jackson song titles as we could into the meeting without our manager noticing. We managed 15. His music obviously touched millions of people, but in reality apart from the original soul aspects of the Jackson 5 and “Off The Wall” he produced nothing more than gimmicky pop songs for the MTV generation. While I can’t deny the impact of Thriller, listen to without the videos and it doesn’t even come close to “Off The Wall” with the possible exception of “Billie Jean”. He was of his time and a magnificent user of the media available to him, was he a great musician? No, he had great producer and a good voice and made the most of it. I will accept the “King Of Pop” sobriquet, as long as it remains pop where his challengers were Hanson, Huey Lewis and Back Street Boys. He was no Hendrix or James Brown or even Smokey Robinson. Lots of people brought his records but that’s because he knew how to sell them. Lots of people buy Pepsi but it ain’t the best drink ever made is it?

The well documented dark side of Jackson is interesting because he was never actually found guilty of child molestation, although Jordy Chandler wasn’t paid off because he was lying as he? Apart from the most avid fans which of us can’t imagine this man child finding himself in an uncompromising situation with one of his young male freinds. I don’t think he was evil, but I don’t think he was innocent either. He knew what he did was wrong but it would appear that he didn’t quite belive it. What he found natural just happened to break the law. His fame and presence probably insured that his young victims wouldn’t view his innaproprite behaviour as wrong, “it’s Michael Jackson, it must be ok”. Well no Mikey actually it wasn’t and  I certainly wouldn’t have wanted him anywhere near my children.

I believe his early days with his brutal father and the complete loss of a normal child hood led to his obvious psycological problems and his increasingly weird and unnatural behaiviour. His use of the media turned on him and he could never turn it back on his side. Ultimately he touched people with his music and children with his hands. One will never escape the other and Jacksons legend will grow after his death as stories emerge and conspiracies escalate. He is a true icon and will always be remembered but as the text jokes multiply and line the pockets of the mobile phone companies read what they focus on, it isn’t his music. The King of Pop is dead and he will be mourned, the Paedophile Prince has gone too and he won’t be missed.

My wife loves Russell Brand, she’s female why wouldn’t she? Apart from being funny he is ridiculously handsome, tall, a cad, loved by women and trouble with a capital T.

I in I turn love the wonderful Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser. Apart from being funny books the hero, Harry Flashman, is ridiculously handsome, tall, a cad, loved by women and trouble with a capital T.

Hmmm, I’m sensing something here! Any film producers out there who want a guaranteed success on their hands need look no further than combining the two and making these fantastic novels into a film series with the wonderful Russell Brand playing Harry Flashman, military whiskers and all.

I expect no credit for this idea except an invite to the premiere and for my wife to meet Russell Brand in the flesh!

I’m a man prone to jealousy, not in a nasty way I hasten to add. It’s just that some peoples lives fall in such a way to make my own seem rather dull. I have my health, I have a roof and I have a family that I love therefore I really can’t complain. However Michael Atherton, proffesional cricketer, ex England Captain, Sky Sports commentator and Times cricket correspondant is one of those men that makes a man like me feel wholly inadequate. Yes Mr Atherton I am quite jealous of you.

A brief precis of Athertons life includes a solid family background, Grammar School, Cambridge University, Lancashire CC, England, Sky Sports and The Times.  A more expanded and beautifully written autobiography (by Atherton NOT a ghost writer), fills in the gaps better than I can. I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

As a student he was exceptional, as a cricketer from an early age he was obviously something special. By the time he reached Cambridge the nickname “FEC” (Future England Captain) had taken hold and the inevitable happened in 1993. It was his time as England Captain that Atherton suddenly found life hard there were no great England players, just a stream of uninterested, average club cricketers and older players counting down their days. The exception being Alec Stewart who probably resented being overlooked for the captaincy at the time. Australia were at the beginning of the exceptional period in their history when the Ashes were never to be won by England until 2006, by which time Athertons back had ensured he took early retirement from the game he loved. It is a reflection of Athertons England career that his finest innings was 185 against Alan Donald and Co. in 1998 against South Africa to save a game.

For me two questions hang over Athertons career:

1/ How good would he have been as an opening bat in a strong England team? Too many times he was batting after 2 days in the field trying to control Devon Malcolm and Phil Tuffnell. Then wickets of lesser players continually fell around him.

2/ What would he have achieved as captain under Duncan Fletcher and with the bowling attack of Harmison, Flintoff, Hoggard and Jones? His time as Captain was blighted by a bowling attack that changed every test and never gave hime the control so essential in test cricket.

I only mention the “dirt in the pocket” incident because it was probably the low point. It was really nothing and no different to watching a bowler rub his hands in the dust of his run up and then apply it to the ball. Atherton just put dirt in his pocket, it was a load of nonsense and blown completely out of proportion.

So in essence Athertons career has seen some lows but in context of a man doing what he loved playing more than 100 test matches I’m sure he has coped. He is now a commentator  tailor made to replace Richie Benaud and a genuine journalist worthy of his place on The Times. His report on the Allen Stanford affair is exceptional and well worth a read.

I have enjoyed every aspect of his career so far and look forward to listening to him and reading his thoughts for as long as I am able. Cricket without Atherton now seems unthinkable. Maybe his Lancastrian roots, my father was from Bury, allows me to see a kindred spirit. He (along with Bumble) have convinced my wife that cricket is a game worth watching. So yes he has a dream job, has played for and captained England and I hate him for it out of pure green eyed jealousy he has had the life I was supposed to have! The dicotomy is that he is the type of man I would like my sons to aspire to be.

New Boots and Panties

“Arseholes, bastards, fucking cunts and pricks” screamed Ian Dury in  the opening line of “Plaistow Patricia” from his superb debut album “New Boots and Panties” in 1977. Was anyone offended? I don’t know, I certainly wasn’t as a 12 year old boy listening in my bedroom and turning it down so my mum couldn’t hear. Now she would have been offended but she would never have listened to Ian Dury and to my knowledge Engelbert Humperdinck never swore on any of his albums so no harm done there. That dear reader is the point, the current wave of poor souls complaining to anyone that will listen that they have been offended by what they have seen and heard needs to stop. There is a time to be offended and time to mind your own business.

The analagy I want to use is this. If I heard Gethin Jones say “fuck” on Blue Peter I would be offended. There is obviously no place for swearing on childrens television. Now, if Gethin was on “Friday Night With Jonathan Ross” and he said “fuck” I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Everyone says “fuck” on “Jonathan Ross” I know what to expect. My wife has chosen not to watch Ross because she finds him offensive, choice put into action.

Which brings me to the the infamous Ross/Brand/Sachs incident. What they did was infantile but not offensive in my view but I would choose to listen to Ross and Brand and know what to expect. There were virtually no complaints at the time it went to air and they only started pouring in when people who would never listen to Ross and Brand read about it in the press. They have no right to be offended by the report of an incident that was not intended for their ears. My 79 year old mum listens to Terry Wogan on Radio 2 because she knows what to expect, she would never listen to Ross or Brand because it’s not for her and she knows it, simple. If Terry said “I hope all my listeners over 70 die painful deaths this week” my Mum would be offended and rightly so, if Russell Brand said it she would neither know about it nor care. She loves Paul O’Grady even though he’s “one of them” (my Mum’s words) he’s perfectly safe at 5pm on Channel 4. My Mum would never watch O’Grady as Lily Savage therefore would never be offended by O’Grady’s alter ego, not her business. 

The recent furuore over Carol Thatchers “golliwog” comment, said in private, is ridiculous. I can be racist, homphobic, ageist and sexist in equal measure in my own home mostly without meaning it or really thinking it. Hand on heart who isn’t? Honestly? But I know in public where to draw the line, I know not to offend and I know that if I told an innapropriate joke in the wrong company then I deserve all the vilification that would come my way.

The Dail Mail reported today that on QI comedienne Jo Brand likened Margaret Thatchers name change to Lady Thatcher to a feminine shaving device . That is funny, approprite for the show and completely inoffensive. It has become offensive to those who will now complain because The Mail have brought it to their attention. When I have finished this post I will complain to the press authorities about the Mail persistantly telling me about things I wasn’t meant to hear. I hope you all join me.

In conclusion, if you know you don’t like something or someone, excercise your right not to watch or listen. If you enjoy Last of The Summer Wine on a Sunday night and Russ Abbott is shown full frontally naked, excercise your right to complain. If you read about something in the press that wasn’t intended for you, excercise your right to mind your own business.

As a footnote New Boots and Panties was re-issued as a tribute album a few years ago. Shane MacGowan performed an excellant version of Plaistow Patricia and Robbie Williams performed Sweet Gene Vincent. I’ve often wondered how many parents of young Robbie fans bought the album only to hear “arseholes, bastards, fucking cunts and pricks blaring out of the family stereo. Would they have the right to be offended?


Today I decided to dabble in the art of Zen Gardening. I had a small area in my front garden that was looking rough, so using materials I had lying around plus a newly purchased Japanese Acer plant and some bamboo screening and I was off.

My chi was disturbed when I went to pick up my smiling Buddah and his hand fell off causing me to drop it, I watched as it bounced and the other hand fell off. Some super glue and controlled breathing later and he was back to his glorious self. I did wonder if this kind of mass produced item had a place in my Zen Garden, but I like him, he makes me smile, he’ll do for me!

The stones wouldn’t go where I wanted them, I was searching for their happy side and failing miserably, in the end I went for the ” Where They Lay” option. I added an old bird bath that was kind of Japanese and placed a serene figure on the top where a bird used to be before it broke off. The bamboo screen had a life of it’s own and tested me to the limit.

Then it was complete, I washed it all down with the hose, filled the birdbath and sat in a chair contemplating. My wife wants me to trim the bamboo screen (it’s a bit high) and it still looks a bit too busy but you know what? I could sit, looking at my garden, clearing my mind of the collected debris and generally feeling good for hours.

My final thoughts on my day? I love it.

Peace to you all.

Is Robert Mugabe the only world leader who hopes oil is never found in their country? In my new role as cheif Zimbabwe correspondent, Todays Problem Is reports…………..


News has reached us that a major oil strike has taken place in a downton Harare homestead. Farmer Solomon Bingo, was digging in his yard when he struck black gold. He told me in a secret interview “It was amazing, we can’t afford to flush our toilet anymore so I was digging out a new crapper in the back yard when whoosh I was covered in a black sticky mess. I called my wife and she told me I was a stupid bastard and not to walk that mess through the house. Anyway my mate Dispy Congo told me it’s oil you dickhead and I thought fuck me, what if Mugabe finds out I’m a dead rich man”

Early reports claim Mr Mugabe has denied these reports saying “There is no oil in Zimbabwe, these rumours are an attempt to distabilise my glorious country”.

George Bush has made a statement in which he has said, “The war against terror has no boundaries and our special services have been watching Mr Mugabe for some time and have evidence that he his hiding Osama Bin Laden, employing him as a gardener in one of his mansions. We will immediately despatch 10000 troops and will remove this harbourer of terrorists with immediate effect. I have always believed Zimbabwe was behind 9/11 and this news confirms my suspicions” off camera Todays Problem Is Washington reporter overheard Mr Bush saying “Daddy won’t belive it, I’m gonna get him more oil, where there’s muck there’s brass and guns and death and destruction and me, ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha”

Dave Ross




Petrol station charges £1.99 a litre

Enough now, £1.33 (£1.99 in some extreme cases) for a litre of diesel. An increase this year of more than 30%. If I’m right most oil companies made colossal profits last year charging £1.00 per litre, they would still make a huge profit this year if they still charged £1.00 per litre. Where is their loyalty to us, the long suffering customer? What can we do? Boycott the petrol stations, great idea but how do I get to work? Use another mode of transport? Getting across London on London Transport? No way, it’s more expensive, it takes longer and it stinks? I’m sorry this is 2008 if I want to drive, I’ll drive! Which is where the oil companies have us over a barrell. Most of us can afford the extra cost, in real terms it costs me an extra £ 5-6 per week. The oil companies know this and will keep the rise going for as long as they feel so inclined, it has nothing to do with the extra cost of oil it is greed, does it really matter to them if they make £20 billion this year or £10 billion? It’s the sheer arrogance, the misuse and abuse of a natural resource for enormous personal profit. I don’t want to get all green but while I have no objection to paying a fair price for the efforts of pumping, refining, delivering and supplying diesel I don’t want to be taken from the rear by pump number 4 thank you very much.

Our government stand idly by letting this highway robbery go ahead, where’s the monoplies commission when you need them? Alternatively if they don’t want to upset their greasy benefactors then reduce the rate of tax on fuel by 30% to level things up. The irony of my fuel tax paying for our soldiers to fight a war to protect oil fields to keep down the price of fuel is not lost on me. Thanks for your efforts Mr Brown an opportunity to DO something passes you by again, you really are a waste of skin and bones.

Finally when are the car manufacturers going to role out alternative fuel vehicles that are accessible to all? Fuck the oil companies I’d drive a steam powered car if I could.

This is all part of the biggest conspiracy of all time, the Bush family continue to line their pockets while innocent men, women and children die. Troops are wiped out protecting what? Fighting who? None of us really know the truth we can only surmise at the sheer magnitude of the black, sticky mess on the sole of our collective conscience.

So when I finally pay £2.00 per litre and decide it’s time to by a scooter it won’t matter, no-one cares and nobody can do anything about it. Like a latter day Marie Antoinette, the conspiritors can say “Diesel, let them use unleaded”. Fuck them all, I’m off to get some diesel before the pumps run dry!