Thursday, 29 April 2010

Sir Terry Wogan Eats Whore's Pasta (Exclusive)

You read it here first.

So. Hot on the heels of Davina McCall's Spaghetti, we have Sir Tezza chewing away on his Fusilli Putanesca. I presume he does know what 'putanesca' means and is chuckling away to himself all the while.

Who is to be our next culinary Wenceslas? I invited you to add your suggestions on the Davina McCall post – but was bitterly disappointed at the lack thereof. C'mon, blogprodders. There's still time.

(There's always still time.)

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Nick Clegg succeeds where Neil Kinnock failed

No knee-jerker, he

Plenty o' people talkin' about Nick Clegg right now.

Here's my angle.

The first UK election that impinged upon my consciousness was 1992's. I – mere scamp of a 9-year-old – did not have a spectacularly nuanced perspective on the whole shebang. I thought Neil Kinnock was kind of odd, and John Major kind of boring.

But I remember thinking one thing, as I watched the 6 o'clock news to see Labour trundle out shadow minister after shadow minister to respond to Tory policy and deeds in office.

I remember thinking this: You know, if for once these guys just said, "You know what? This time, I agree with the government", or, "Labour's policy on this is actually pretty similar to the Conservatives'" – if they did that, I'd probably start listening to what they say.

Obviously not all the time. But sometimes.

If they started a conversation, rather than a confrontation. If they seemed to be thinking about the lines they were spouting, not just knee-jerking their way through the interview.

Now, as I've said, my pre-teenage political consciousness was very limited indeed. I didn't really understand the notion that (arguably) the role of a strong opposition is to provide the counterargument (yeah, like Iraq and Afghanistan. Hmm ...). I didn't really get the whole parliamentary shebang.

But I did get this: Jesus, these Labour guys are so bloody negative. They're always complaining and saying how much better they would be.

And this brings me to Nick Clegg's genius. His ability – exercised time and again during the TV debates – to make a transition from adversarial politicospeak to conversational directness. His talent at seeming genuinely to be thinking about things and responding to people in an inclusive 'let's think about this' kind of way, as opposed to trotting out formulae, following the agreed line, defending the camp.

Think of it this way: how different would the Tories' We can't go on like this line have played coming from Nick Clegg rather than David Cameron? It would have come across as earnest frustration. Something like 'We must be able to come up with something better'. Instead, alongside David Cameron's polished jowls, the line read as mildly didactic irritation (rather more like 'I say 'we' but actually I mean you can't go on like this, making the wrong electoral choices, you foolish public.')

I'm not a fool, and I know well enough that Clegg has his own formulae, his own line, his own camp. But he is way, way better at humanising, at blurring the edges, at stepping off the metaphorical podium.

Because both Brown and Cameron are politicians of the Now let's be absolutely clear about this … ilk. They give the impression (however well-schooled their vocal tones and delivery, however monstrously hard they might attempt to smile and adopt a 'man of the people' tone) that they think they know better. Their reflex is to take a position and defend or attack. Even if they aren't sure what they actually think.

Clegg is the only one who gives the impression that he's not a political knee-jerker (some might choose to leave off the 'knee-'). And for me, I find (so perhaps my inner 9-year-old isn't that far away after all) this makes him – instinctively – far more appealing.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Marina Hyde - Best Election Pundit So Far

So, on Monday I wrote about David Cameron's Party Political Broadarse. Today, by way of a chance to take a second slurp at the tempestuous tannins of the UK election (the cup is slopping onto the saucer), may I treat you to a recommendation?

I may? Excellent.

Well, on the strength of current form, I'm endorsing Guardian columnist Marina Hyde as my favourite UK election pundit. Just like I endorsed the lovely Michael Tomasky in the run-up to the US election, way back yonder.

In the last 4 days alone, Marina Hyde has written three absolutely superb pieces on the election, combining (in various ratios) humour and insight.

Of the two more comically inclined articles, the first draws an inspired religious parallel between Cameron's campaign team and Jesus' disciples, whilst the second masterfully skewers George Osborne like a quivering piece of diced chicken thigh, ready for the barbecue. Very funny indeed.

The third, as well as being funny (one standout being a reference to 'Westminster villagers who've spent a decade masturbating to the West Wing box set and rather tragically imagine the debates have finally made them a central character in the UK version of the show') also makes an extremely good point about the political use of wit. I thought the following was an excellent observation (in reference to the dearth of jokes in the leaders' debate):

Yet as time goes on, if you don't "own" the humour, then someone else will. People want to laugh, and failure to provide the laughs means they'll find them at your expense. No matter how righteously repulsed one was by Tony Blair's faux-self deprecation, when Cherie was overheard insulting Gordon Brown at a Labour conference, the then PM still managed to defuse an increasingly toxic story with a simple line. "Well," he said, "at least I don't have to worry about her running off with the bloke next door."

Very true.

So, Marina Hyde. Officially endorsed by the Intellectual Hooligan. Now that's something to perk up her journo-CV, innit?

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Davina McCall Makes Spaghetti That Much More Enticing

Every so often, the Intellectual Hooligan is filled with a primeval urge to howl an anguished, resonant, almighty WTF. We've already – not so long ago – had bile-duct-rupturingly awful logo design. Now, dear reader, I give you —

Davina McCall's Spaghetti Amatriciana

The email above landed in my inbox a while back with an ominous, turd-like thud, courtesy (if courtesy be the word) of mid-tempo-food chain ASK.

Why, in the name of Satan's elbow, did someone think that I'd want to eat Davina McCall's anything?

And the question is begged (YES, DEFIANTLY I USE THE PASSIVE VOICE): what's next?

  • Bruce Forsyth's Toad in the Hole?
  • Ant & Dec's Dough Balls?
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's Turkey Supreme?
  • Cilla Black's Stewed Prunes?
  • Alan Sugar's Big Creamy Sundae?
  • Anne Robinson's Sour Bake?

Over to you, dear readers, for further suggestions.

Monday, 19 April 2010

'Well, at least these guys are giving it to me straight'

This is the new Tory party political broadcast (rapidly conceived, apparently, after the original ad was panickingly binned, following the Leaders' Debate on Thursday). I'm afraid I don't have any insightful political commentary on this, just a bit of juvenile mockery.

(C'mon, indulge me: pretend you're surprised.)

I'd like to direct you to the fuckin' DUDE at 0.24 and 0.46. That's the youth vote in the fucking bag. I nearly soiled myself laughing.

Anyway, I reckon it's a pretty weakass ad. Cognitive dissonance 'n' all. But nice light in Camo's back garden, I must say.

Edit: Has anyone else noticed that David Cameron has the most expressive cheek muscles in politics? He's able to radiate a kind of stern, ever-so-slightly camp aura of we-can't-go-on-like-this concern using nothing but his cheeks. It's miraculous: the man is a Paganini of the jowl. If you don't believe me, cover up the whole of his upper face as you watch.

Man's Best Friend Has Unconventional Way Of Showing It

I've written before about public-transport-related woes. But I was reminded today of another ignominious incident I have hitherto neglected to share with you. An incident in which your beloved protagonist (me) suffered distress and humiliation. You love this stuff, don't you? And since this blog moves ever closer to being merely a vehicle for self-abasement, I have scant excuse not to share the tale.

For one reason or another, I found myself in the splendid metropolis of London. The city where nobody stops, where everyone is in a hurry.

I was tired; it was late. I'd spent a day at work, then travelled to aforesaid metropolis of ceaseless movement to attend a three-hour evening class in typography at St Martin's (highly to be recommended, I might add). Ahead of me I had the 90-minute bus ride back to Oxford.

I was waiting, friends, for that bus.

Imagine me, casual bus-awaiter, louchely propped against the railings of Hyde Park. Looking for all the world like A Man Who Knows A Bit About Typography. Radiating power-commuting nonchalance. At my side, cast there with elegant carelessness, my extremely stylish rucksack.

(I know, I know: 'stylish rucksack' – it's a tautology.)

So, with narrowed eyes, I scanned the horizon for the welcome glow of an approaching bus – half-hypnotised by the crossrhythms of the ceaseless traffic.

Mellowing stuff.

Encroaching gently upon my mellowed consciousness – almost soothingly – came a faint hissing. The sound, perhaps, of distant fountains trickling in a grand, Kubla-Khanish oriental pleasure dome.

Except that this wasn't actually all that distant.

Indeed, it was remarkably close. And it dawned upon your hero: 'My bag is hissing.'

Swivelling my eyes downward, howsoever, I was surprised to see a friendly face gazing up at me. A grinning, happy face. A face that seemed to say:

'I like you, friend. And I think you probably like me.'

It was a canine face.

And that canine face, dear reader, was attached to a canine body. A fully functioning canine body that (it emerged) was the source of that gentle hiss.

Just exactly what is it, precisely (I ask of you), with me and wrong-place-wrong-time nocturnal urinations?

Although I suppose it wasn't so much me that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It was my rucksack.

My modest, functional, porous rucksack.


There are times (we all know) when one really hopes for an empty bus. I hope you will believe me when I say that I have never hoped so fervently as I did that night.

But it was not to be.

I was thus me with a dilemma for which the most meticulous of upbringings could scarcely have prepared me. A dilemma which might be framed thus:

'What is the etiquette for taking one's seat on a crowded omnibus, should one's valise, suitcase or pocketbook happen to be dripping with dog piss?'

Holding the offending, saturated article at arm's length (or as close thereto as could inconspicuously be managed), I shambled and shuffled my way onto the bus. I know not whether I left an incriminating trail of drips as I made my way mournfully up the aisle, finding my way to one of the few unoccupied seats.

As the bus' engine juddered into life, I consoled myself: the bag can be washed. The contents aren't valuable. The journey is not long. And at least – at least – I am the only one aware of the noxious marinade to which my luggage has been subjected.

Such meditations were (once again) interrupted, as I realised that the middle-aged woman in the seat behind me was speaking. And once again, as I turned my eyes in her direction, I was met by a grinning face, its head slightly cocked askance. In lilting accents, as if addressing a child, it spoke to me:

'Did the doggy do a wee on your bag?'

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A Parade Of Old Posts

Bit of a burst of new subscriptions to this ol' blog, lately. Greetings, greetings, my sweets.

(If you were a sweet, which would you be? Ponder that. Feel free to add your answer and accompanying Cartesian rationale in the comments, should you be so moved.)


Yes. So I thought I'd write a post to welcome y'all, newcomers. Long may your feedreaders be pointed in my direction.

An apt kind of welcome would be to tell you what this blog is about. [Insert dry & mirthless laugh].

See, I realise that blogs should occupy a niche. That's how you get traffic – by becoming an authority within your specialism.

But that requires having a specialism.

Now, I thought long and hard. I scoured the recesses of my mind (and, boy, that was a grim and disturbing process). But specialism came there none. I may be nicheless.

But there are patterns to this blog's erratic output, nevertheless. And just as the best way to understand how a family works is to meet a few family members, the best way to comprehend the Intellectual Hooligan is to take in a few posts. They all have something to say, so get to know 'em all. Even Great Uncle Barnabus, who smells a bit odd.

So, without ado, here are some of the (plastic) jewels in the Intellectual Hooligan's crown: posts, you might say, of yore. And I've even put 'em into categories, in a vain attempt to make up for the lack of niche.

Category 1: Mocking the Mediocre

Category 2: Painful yet Cathartic Self-Revelation

Category 3: Lite-erary Criticism

Category 4: Attempts (not always successful) At Having A Grown-Up Opinion

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