Looking for a Hero(ine)

Armando Iannucci got me through the last general election with a number of sharply observed and very funny https://isobelandcat.wordpress.com/tag/aramndo-iannucci/ in The Independent newspaper. But last year he said that British politics had become too bland for humour.

With a general election not due until May, you may be wondering why I am thinking about this now. Well, there’s been a change. We now have fixed term elections. So as well as being so legislation-lite there almost wasn’t a Queen’s Speech in 2014, our politicians started their election campaigns yesterday. Heaven help us, we now have four months, four months, of posturing, bickering and oneupmanship to look forward to with neither Armando Iannucci or Simon Hoggart to leaven the dough. It’s a pretty dire prospect.

Hoggart, easily the most entertaining political sketch writer by several miles, died a year ago yesterday from pancreatic cancer. A friend of mine interviewed him once and found him modest and courteous. He used her surname in a piece published the following day in The Guardian. An ex-neighbour worked with him and admired his wit and intelligence, and loved him as a friend. John Crace is alright, but he isn’t the must read that Hoggart was. Though give him his due, they were hard shoes to fill. Here‘s some more of Simon Hoggart’s writing, this time for The Spectator, in case you are not yet convinced. Continue reading

In Praise of The Grauniad

There are lots of good reasons for reading The Guardian newspaper. The typos are legendary, earning it the nickname of The Grauniad, and I was quite disappointed not to bag any in yesterday’s edition. Still, I have the notice I read in an estate agent’s window in Castlewellan advertising a property for sale with ‘oil fried central heating’ to keep me going.
It’s a serious paper with a light touch, and today I snorted and chortled through the bits of yesterday’s news I hadn’t got around to by bedtime last night. If you had told me at breakfast that a story about debt collectors would have made me smile, I’d have shaken my head, but this firm is far away from the heavies with baseball bats intimidating people who have nothing and no means of repayment. I like their style. Click here and see for yourself.
I don’t know if Simon Hoggart is on twitter, but he sounds as though he’d love hashtagging. Here are some ideas from his readers for place names in songs: I’m in the Mood for Danzig, Sexual Ealing, Clissold Park of Mine. I love Simon Hoggart and hope he goes on writing into his nineties. Like some other good people he has appeared on, and also for a while chaired, The News Quiz. Sandi Toksvig, the current chair, was telling a story about the late Alan Coren, one time editor of Punch and a News Quiz regular. For his birthday she paid for him to have golf lessons. The gift wasn’t a success. “Those bunkers,” he said, “no wonder Hitler died in one.” Continue reading