The Loneliest Jukebox

Graham Barnfield's weblog, being gradually replaced by his Twitter feed -

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Take a Break Man

No, not a new demographic category whose votes will be chased in a sectional way. I'm taking a break for a while to cope with some upcoming surgical demands. But James Bond will return, as they used to say at the end of movies in the franchise. A bit like Vic Godard, whose new Subway Sect I went to see last night. A good gig, even if the resilient frontman sometimes needs A4 jotter pads reminding him of the lyrics these days. My karaoke experiences indicate I would need them too on stage...

Fresh jaded observations as to the state of the world will appear here again when I've made a full recovery; if you use the RSS link on this blog, your browser will tell you when. If you're a new reader whose googling led you to fetch up here, there's a profile here which tells you a bit more about me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Appearance fee free

They say Viz is not as funny as it used to be. It's probably not as funny as Chris Donald's memoirs of editing the comic for 20 years. Anyway, there's a great scene in a recent 'Roger Mellie' (The Man on the Telly) where he's invited to host the 'Children of Bravery' awards and claim expenses: 'Well count me in ... I'm a fuckin' artist when it comes to claim forms ... A blank expense sheet is my canvas ... I once did a three minute piece about a skateboarding toad for Nationwide in 1978 ... an overnight stop in the Holiday Inn, Hull ... claimed eight grand.'

I was reminded of this by a recent Richard Ingrams piece in Sunday's Observer. Ingrams bemoans the shiftiness of the BBC when it comes to paying anyone for one-off appearances (while rewarding its executives and giving Graham Norton a sinecure). Call me a media whore, but I was not unsympathetic to Ingrams (for a change). His complaint confirms my recent experiences: an early morning phone call due to a shortage of guests or experts on happy slapping and I'm in the studio padding out the airwaves. In the past, when I was representing Sheffield CAM or other causes, the honour was its own reward and I would go on the BBC for the exposure. There was no talk of fees and any expenses usually found their way back to the campaigns I was speaking for. But when I'm on as a private citizen for whom punditry has become a part-time job, prompt payment would be nice. Otherwise I'll have to make Roger Mellie-style expenses claims.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Left Behind

Last week Media Guardian (log-in required) ran a piece, by Peter Wilby if memory serves, complaining that former colleague Nick Cohen has sold out and was shifting to the right. Yesterday's Observer ran a grumpy reply from Mr. Cohen, eclipsing other issues of importance from his coverage. "The liberals who say I have deserted the left should ask themselves where they stand on Islamism" rages his strapline.

This blog is no fan of Cohen, but talk about a storm in a teacup. This coverage is a good example of the closed world of the London media and London liberal left. The chances are that 'most liberals' have never heard of Cohen or his antagonists in print, so therefore have yet to notice his alleged rightward shift. When Karl Kautsky jumped ship from the progressive movement, it was a blow: who cares about these pundits, who represent little more than their own prejudices? As the press chases its own tail, or eats its own entrails, depending on your choice of analogy, no wonder more and more readers buy the hype about blogging replacing professional journalism.

What's striking is how much both sides have in common: Cohen's 'liberals' think that London suicide bombers are reacting against the war in Iraq, while Cohen backed the Iraq war so he treats 'Islamists' as the common enemy. In fact, the 7/7 bombers are no more representative of the Iraqi people than I would be if I shot up my local supermarket on their behalf. I never thought I'd find myself using a phrase like 'giving succour to terrorism', but this is what both sides of this parochial dispute do.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Kerry Williams

Monday saw me paying my respects to Kerry Williams, who died last week. Condolences to her family and her partner John.