Eccentric DJ Andy Kershaw, in his autobiography No Off Switch, said: “A man’s life is not complete until he has tasted love, poverty and war.”



Letter to Guardian, 15/12/2012:

 “We can all agree that the police were incompetent, the club and council negligent, the emergency services badly organised, the victims entirely blameless and that the subsequent cover-up was a shocking disgrace.  But can it be right that the reporting and comment on the Hillsborough tragedy doesn’t at least acknowledge that crowds can be dangerous and that if people in a crowd do not realise this, their behaviour may lead to disastrous consequences?  I would rather not be identified, as this opinion appears to be inflammatory and any expression of it requires an apology.”

Name and address supplied



Sorry to read, 7.1.14, of the death of Simon Hoggart, whose wit and perception I have enjoyed through  the Guardian for many years.  In the first obituaries, I particularly liked the following quote …

“If they ever invent a fat-free lard, it would resemble a New Labour MP.”

Also been reminded that Hoggart came up with a great anecdote involving Bill Stone, an old Labour MP for a northern mining constituency, who was drinking Federation bitter in the Strangers’ Bar when somebody complained that the House of Commons was “full of cunts”.  According to Hoggart, in his book A Long Lunch, Stone wiped the foam from his lips and said: “There’s plenty of cunts in t’country and they deserve some representation.”



Telegraph Mag, 15.12.13, had interview with Robert Hilburn, author of new biography Johnny Cash: The Life  …

“I became a Johnny Cash fan in high school in the mid-1950s in a suburb of Los Angeles.  I just loved Elvis Presley and Carl Perkins.  When I heard Folsom Prison Blues for the first time, I realised Johnny Cash was something different.  He wasn’t singing about teddy bears – he was singing about shooting a man in Reno ‘just to watch him die’.  When I heard that line I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t know you could say that on the radio.”



Tony Joe White, songwriter and singer, on the origins of his song They Caught The Devil and Put Him In Jail In Eudora, Arkansas ...

“I was five and I heard this story when some hunters came by the house one evening.  They said some man had caught the devil in a net and had him in jail up in Eudora, Arkansas.  People were bringing these big blocks of ice from the ice plant to pack around the cell so he couldn’t burn his way out.

“So hearing all this back in the woods, you believe it very heavily.  It scared me to death. A lot of people went to Eudora to see it, driving 38 Fords, mules and wagons, anything. Course, when they got there, it was gone.”

Tony Joe White, born in Louisiana in 1943,  is one of the great country funkers.  Hear the track in question at




A.A. Gill made a famously immoderate attack on farmers’ markets in the Sunday Times a couple of years ago, including the following:

“Farmers’ markets aren’t real markets and those weird, bad-tempered, bobble-hatted obsessives in pinnies aren’t farmers.  Nobody comes here to do real shopping.  This is a play market, a weekend recreation, where you can buy a loaf of birdseed bread or clingfilm lumps of catarrhal goats’ cheese that tastes of farts.  A selection of soft apples and hard pears, a cauliflower from a steppe in Lincolnshire … There are Tiggy-Winkle jams and chutneys that are identical, made in food processors and boiled with a redundant resentment.  And the inevitable stir-fried chilli sauce with an amusing label, called something like Ring of Fire.”

I’ve lost the date of this cutting and the complete article is now locked behind the Times paywall, of course, but most of it is quoted (approvingly) at The FK Word, a chef’s blog, at




In case I ever need reminding of Tony B’s capacity for talking bollocks, I need a record of these extracts for a piece he wrote for the Sunday People in January 2000.

* On his vision:  “I want our children to dream and I want them to fulfil their dreams.  I say to them: have the confidence to follow your dreams.  And be confident, too, that we will remove the barriers holding you back.”

*  On Britain: “There is still no place on earth which has our combination of qualities – our creativity, our determination, our courage, our sense of fairness … These qualities are more in tune with the challenges of the new century than ever before.  It’s why I believe we can look forward to the future with confidence.  And if I have one final hope, it is that this confidence will sweep away a lot of the cynicism which is still holding us back.”

The full blag can still be found at http://tinyurl.com/k6tns55/



Telegraph of 12.5.12 quoted its US blogger, Tim Stanley. on the Obamites:  “The Prez could go seal-clubbing and much of the media would see it as a new epoch for winter sports.  ‘Barack Obama Becomes First President To Kill Six Seals In Under One Minute’, the New York Times would proudly report, while Twitter would be all abuzz with how hot he looks in snow shoes.”



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