20 March 2011

Who's funny?

Over there ---> you'll see my selection of links to funny people. Sadly, though, while I'm sure they're still funny, some of them are keeping it to themselves. Ariane Sherine is, I believe, locked in a convent writing a novel, while Marina Hyde left us in November, with the promise that she'll return to the Guardian "next year".

So, my appeal is this: who else is funny? Please let me know of anyone writing a regular column that makes you laugh, and if I agree, I'll put a link in the list. Thanks.

18 March 2011


Flicked over from the Cheltenham Festival to BBC Parliament, where there was an adjournment debate on access to financial services in southeast London - ie Nationwide's closure programme. I was quite impressed by my MP, Heidi Alexander, but my attention was continually distracted by the Boris Johnson tribute act on the coalition front bench. I tried to capture it but the picture didn't come out too well, but fortunately the internet provides a valuable collection of photographs of the man in question.

This is how he looks now:
, compared to a few years ago:

How on earth do people manage to keep a straight face when he's in the room? 

08 March 2011

In praise of 'cover versions'

I think it's probably an evolutionary trait that as people get older they find more in the world that they disagree with, so that eventually death comes as a welcome release from a world gone unrecognisably mad.

I think I'm a long way off that yet because what's exercising me today is the modern orthodoxy that pop singers aren't really authentic unless they write their own songs. I suppose the thinking is that they can't give the same commitment to someone else's words, someone else's experience. But music - or any art - is all about communicating the experience of one person to another. If singers can't inhabit someone else's words and music, why should we, as listeners, be able to be moved by their experience?

Why, above all, should we expect the best singers to be - by happy coincidence - the best songwriters? And I'm not pining after a golden age of my youth in thinking this, but rather of a golden age before I was born, the days of tin pan alley when professional songwriters wrote a song on spec, or occasionally with a particular singer in mind, and the singers brought it to life.

It's too late to go back now, I know. We're stuck with an imperfect mixture of great singers and rubbish songs (I mean you, Amy - some of your songs are real stinkers) or average singers with superb songs (and my example here is from Brazil: Zeca Baleiro - a great compositor whose songs deserve a much better rendition than he can give).

I'd love to be able to clinch the argument by saying that Frank Sinatra never wrote his own songs, but I bloody hate Frank Sinatra.

Anyway, that's my current annoyance with these times we live in. Fortunately it's trivial (though not too trivial for a blog post - is anything?) and it's not enough to make me want to die, you'll be pleased, I hope, to hear.

02 March 2011

Charlton 1 Carlisle 3

Ditto, if not more so. Horrible defending and disjointed attacking. I think the problem going forward is that Chris Powell is trying to change the way the team is playing and they're not familiar with it yet. He seems to have banned the long hoick, which is a good thing, but the players aren't yet on top of the short-pass game, so are losing possession as often as they used to. Only now they're doing it at ground level, not head-height or higher. I'm such a mug I believe this will eventually come good.

But at the back, oh lord, what problems. Christian Dailly is finally showing signs of his age (37) despite his impressive fitness. Beside him we had Gary Doherty in the first half, 31 but never quick, and Jon Fortune in the second half (surprisingly, still only 30 but looking well off the pace). Rob Elliot had a poor game too, and with that sort of defence behind it the rest of the team can't be relaxed. Basically, there's never been an adequate replacement for Richard Rufus, and although it would be simplistic to blame Charlton's decline entirely on that, that's what I blame it on. Entirely.