I have just had an email from WordPress to say they’re introducing an AI Assistant to all their blogs, for ease of content creation. Well, WordPress, you can go fuck yourself with a rusty pitchfork pals, my writing is me, not some fucking ape-me computer and it’s always going to be. If I could rip the very idea out of this site, I would already have done so.


Thirty Years Ago

I was sat in the Pavillion at Old Trafford, side on to the pitch as it then was. It was the second day of the Test, England were batting. They’d not long since lost their first wicket after a good opening partnership, the extent of which is long forgotten with recourse to Cricinfo. Mike Gatting had come in at no. 3, was off the mark. He was on strike at the Stretford End. Australia brought on their spinner, a bleached blond, fairly chunky lad named Shane Warne, who’d been carted about a bit in the preliminary games: one more in the line of Aussie spinners who couldn’t do it in English conditions. He strolled, rather than ran up, turned his arm over. Gatting played no shot. But the Aussies went wild, all of them, keeper and slip cordon,roaring, leaping with their arms up, running forward. Gatting’s standing there, looking like the fall guy who’s about five minutes behind what’s going on. What’s happened? I hadn’t a clue. I doubt anyone in the Pavillion had any idea, given our view of the game. But Gatting’s out, that was eventually clear, he’s walking in our direction. Then they showed the replay on the big screen, that few seconds of footage during which the world turned over and has never been the same since, and I saw what I’d seen happen and for the first time I understood it. Thirty years ago today this became a Shane Warne world and it still hurts that he’s no longer here to enjoy it. Bloody hell.

Thank you Glenn Hauman

In the absence of an e-mail address to say a private thank you, I’m putting this up as a post.

In September 2018 I pledged a Kickstarter created by Drew Ford of It’s Alive Comics, to suuport the collection and printing as a Graphic Novel of the 1960s Charlton Comics series, The Lonely War of Captain Willy Schulz, written by Will Franz and drawn by the superb War artist Sam Glanzman. I had never seen any of the series but was aware of its reputation. The chance to get it was irresistible.

That was September 2018. The Kickstarter was pledged but the book did not appear. It’s Alive was going through terrible financial problems. It seemed the book would never appear and I resigned myself to writing my money off. The final srtraw came last October, with the sudden illness and death of Drew Ford.

But a number of people, primary among them Glenn Hauman of the website Comics Mix, stepped it to resolve the matter, to honour Ford’s commitment, to assist his widow. It’s been a long time and there have been set -backs, not least an email this past week reveaing a Court Action commenced for Garnishment of anything that could be said to be the late Mr Ford’s assets. And not having been outside my pokey little flat at all yesterday, this morning I discovered an unexpected package waiting for me. I am awaiting a kickstarter book, as it happens, but that is from Studio Foglio, and will be a softback book. This was a hardback. It was in truth The Lonely War of Captain Willy Schulz, as promised.

So, lacking a means to say thank you to him personally, I want to thank Glenn Hauman and everyone who has worked alongside him to achieve this. Thank you for honouring Drew Ford’s wishes, thank you for fulfilling his promises, thank you for doing such a bloody good job of producing something worthy of his name, and thank you and I honour you for taking on something that was not your responsibility, simply to see things made right. Thank you, sir.

Citizen Crookall

Today, something is happening that I want no part of.

The last Coronation in this country happened three years before I was born. Things were different them. I grew up accepting, even looking up to the Queen because it was the natural thing to do and nobody gave me any reason to think that it could be any way otherwise. Yet, before I was out of my teens, my instincts kicked in and any trace of Monarchism in me dissolved, for ever.

Legally speaking, in this country, I am a subject of King Charles III. A subject, a vassal, a serf. Not the Citizen of this country that I should be and that I deserve to be. Never in my life have I thought or acted in any way to accept or acknowledge that i am a subject. Someone who belongs to another person, or who can be told to do anything merely by whim.

Earlier this week, it was announced that, during the Coronation, the people of this country, the subjects, will be ‘invited’ to pledge allegiance the the King, his family and successors, in eternity. If that were not in itself a stupid idea, the notion that we ‘can’ do this by shouting it at our television sets renders the whole notion ridiculous beyond belief. No. Absolutely not. Not now nor ever will I say or do anything to suggest that I accept or acknowledge myself as a subject. I will act and speak and stand as a Citizen and nothing less.

Of course it is ironic that this is a completely new innovation in a country that prides and builds itself upon the sacredness of its historical traditions, most of which only go back 150-200 years anyway, instead of time immemorial as we are led to believe.

And whilst I do not want to descend to personalities in this, I cannot avoid the fact that if a person who has the privileges, power and wealth of Charles Mountbattan-Windsor still cannot cope with his role without the unbelievably petty ego-boost of trying to get the entire country to swear a personal fiefdom to him, then he is so psychologically weak as to deserve the allegiance of no-one.

Centenary of a Genius

Eric Sykes was born 100 years ago today. He was a genius. There is nobody today who comes close to measuring up to him. Unless a boy, born today, preferably in Oldham, should be his reincarnation.

We can but hope.

Eric Sykes holding a cigar in June 1986

A Great Glow

There’s a certain piece has appeared on the Guardian‘s website this evening, no doubt to appear in print in the Observer tomorrow.

I’m not going to identify it, nor its subject, because the whole thing is involved in much deeper waters than you’d imagine from the piece, and to be frank than you would believe. But it has given me a great glow of satisfaction to read this, and to read through it to the stuff that will never come out. Not for myself: it is nothing that ever touched me directly, but I am satisfied and I am cheered by this glow on behalf of somebody else.

This person does not read this blog, nor do I believe that anyone who knows them reads it, that is if they understood for one second what I am referring to. But for tonight, they are in my thoughts, and maybe by some kind of sympathetic magic, they will know that I am happy for them. Rest easy, old friend.

Crap Journalism

Haven’t done one of these in a long time, mostly out of indifference, and it isn’t even the egregious Stuart Heritage. Though perhaps I ought to be renaming this one ‘Clickbait Journalism’.

Each week, the Guardian has a feature called ‘Ranked’, in which they take a subject, perhaps an actor’s filmography, or a band’s albums, anything where they can produce a list and then put it in ascending order of whatever importance or quality they assign to it. If it’s someone or something I have at least a passing interest in, I’ll scan it and have a further look at the comments. Usually these are fifty percent accusations that the list is Clickbait, that the true order has been deliberately distorted, something popular downgraded, something obscure elevated, in order to create controversy, show that the compilar is hip or edgy, in short creating a phoney list to provoke responses.

Sometimes, when its a subject I have some knowledge of, I disagree with some of the placings. Not being a full-time conspiracy theorists, I usually allow for the more outre choices by giving credence to people simply having different taste for me.

Today’s features the fashions of Dr Who. Have a look at the order they put the costume choices in. This one’s definitely a piss-take. If you can’t summon up the stomach to look for yourself, if I were to tell you that the No. 1 best costume is awarded to… Sylvester McCoy, I think you’ll get it.

Crap Journalism.

P.S. The new Doctor’s costume is an eyesore!

“We regret any offence these chants may have caused”.

Apparently, during yesterday’s game between Manchester City and Liverpool, chants were heard from the home fans about Hillsborough. Fucking morons.

Not that United fans hands, or rather throats can in any way be said to be clean: morons come in red shirts just as much as sky blue.

But this is not about the fans, theirs or ours. The title of this short piece comes from City’s official statement on the matter. Can you spot the word that’s caused my gorge to raise, my blood to boil? It’s the ‘may’. A chant about Hillsborough, directed at Liverpool, its club and fans, and you think it ‘may’ have caused offence? That’s there’s a possibility, an outside chance, that chanting obscene hatred about the death of 97 people, could be considered offensive? To someone who’s a bit hyper-sensitive, maybe, who takes things too much to heart.

Whoever wrote that line, whoever sanctioned it as the Club’s official statement on the matter, go look at yourself in a mirror. Recognise that you are dead to all human feeling, to morality, empathy, understanding and decency. Then flush yourself down the pan like the shit in human form you are. All of you.

F*cked over by Amazon

It was going to be a glorious irony.

Up till this time yesterday, I was expecting to get a delivery from Amazon today. I’d been waiting for it for some while. Years, in fact. The Intruder, the complete eight part television adaptation of John Rowe Townsend’s novel, broadcast in 1971 and watched avidly by my mother, my sister and myself, because it was mostly filmed in Ravenglass, where my Grandad was born. Themoment I heard about it, I put it on pre-order with Amazon.

But it was delayed. Delayed indefinitely. My guess, which turned out to be wrong, was that there were insufficient orders for it for it to be commercially viable, and it would never appear. I would be wrong about that, too. I never cancelled the order though, leaving it there on the off-chance, just in case. In hope.

And then last year, I was tipped off that the obstacles, the barriers had been overcome, that the series would finally released in 2022. In BluRay format. I don’t have a BluRay player. But at last it was confirmed, a DVD release, release date 27 March 2023. Today.

My Amazon order was still there. I did wonder but they officially notified me, delivery date 27 March, and at the original price when I ordered it. The Amazon promise, the price guarantee. I wasc looking forward to it arriving today, to setting aside the time for a bingewatch, the whole series, start to finish. And the glorious irony, the wonderful icing on the cake, was going to be the delivery of this item exactly seven years to the day that I had ordered it, 27 March 2016.


Yesterday, an email from Amazon arrived, notifying me that Payment had been Declined. I needed to update my Payment Method. I was irritated, but not concerned. As it happened, I started using a new Visa card this month, but I’d not only already updated my Payment Method, I had already bought two items from Amazon using my updated Payment Method. An irritation, but a minor one. So I clicked on the link and clicked on the button to Update My Payment Method and… And, oops. An internal error. Something not working. It’s been logged. We’ll investigate this.

So. Amazon have a perfectly valid Payment Method they’ve already accepted. But they want me to update my Payment Method for this one ite which just happens to have been ordered seven years ago, at 2016 prices, only when I try to do so their system fails’ and there’s no altenative method to do what they are, completely unnecessarily, asking me to do. The odour of Rattus Norvegicus arises. If I do nothing, my Order will be cancelled in five days time. All very neat and hermetic. It seems that the only way i will get my The Intruder is to re-order it at 2023 prices. Which are only half as much again.

Some might say I’m being cheeky, expecting to get a 2023 item at 2016 prices, and on that level I am. But I placed that order in good faith, upon Amazon’s terms that I would never be charged more than that price when the order was placed. They know that. So, instead of accepting the situation, as I have had to do these past seven years, they decide to fuck me over. Nice.

I don’t like being fucked around. I don’t expect the earth, but I expect ordinary, decent service. Play fair with me, I won’t act unreasonable, I won’t create a fuss if there are issues. just don’t fuck me around, because you only do that once. I cancelled the order from 2016. I re-ordered the DVD. Only I did that direct from the company. It’ll only cost me £1.02 more than the original order, which is the best part of a fiver less than Amazon are charging now. The only thing I lose is getting the DVD today: allow up to 28 days for delivery. Oh well, I’ve waited sven years, another month won’t kill me.

I shalln’t be boycotting Amazon after this, much though it’s my natural instinct to do so. But I’ll be doing everything I can to find other sources for the things I want to buy. Fuck me over and expect me to carry on giing me your money? I used to work for someone who would rather rip you off for £100 now tthan make £1,000 off you over the next year. I’m sorry to see that being replicated.


Oldham Colisseum – Cancelled?

It’s at least two decades and more since I last attended a play at Oldham’s Colisseum Theatre, but in the last century I went to half a dozen and more very different productions and always enjoyed myself immensely. They were a brilliant local theatre, a nice, compact, warm venue that neither atttracted, nor needed star talent.

Now it is to close in March, and has no idea if it will ever open again. The reason is here. Compared to all the rest of the shit that’s going on in this broken country, this is the least of our worries, a shame as opposed to a tragedy. But it’s yet one more blow.

Levelling up my arse.