Thursday, 10 September 2009

The world is watching and we are behind you

American president Barack Obama has made a moving and motivated speech to the house of Congress - a "battle cry" as the BBC news service described it - pushing ahead with health care reforms.

It was the Michael Moore film Sicko which first brought home to me the shocking truth that one of the most powerful and influential nations on the planet is still in the dark ages when it comes to health care.

It is one of only a handful of developed democracies that doesn't have free health care. It seems an insane idea, that America, the land of the free, the home of Bart Simpson, the country that asks not what can be done for them, is still in a situation where around 70 million people do not have heath insurance. People who, to quote the president "live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy".

The speech is great, and I've put a link at the bottom to the full transcript on the BBC website. But the problem is not common sense, or common decency, the problem - as always - is money.
The insurance companies make too much money (and fund too many political parties and individuals) to ever let America create a National Health Service.

Over the years numerous presidents and politicians (and even a first lady) have tried to champion reforms to America's health care, and each time the money men have - to put it very simply - threatened to take away the slush funds and everything has quietened down.

I hope - and if I was religious I would pray - that Obama can wade through this stand off. The American people want it, the world wants it.

If he pulls this off he will change the history of the developed world, he will improve the lives of millions of people and he will be remembered forever.

And, Mr Obama, you can't put a price on that.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


I took a train on Saturday out to England to visit a friend. Being the Bank Holiday weekend the train was naturally very full.

At Bristol we were besieged by a large group of pensioners, filling the train to bursting. From snatches of conversation I later found out they were on a trip to see the Tattoo in Edinburgh.

Sat in front of me was a young mother (about 25 years old) with a tiny toddler/baby. She was crammed into two seats with a pushchair, a small suitcase and a bag of bits for the baby.

An older couple got on the train, they were obviously part of the Tattoo gang, but can't have been more than in their late 50s, and looked very fit and healthy. They proceeded to inform the mother that the seats she was occupying were reserved for them as part of their booking. The couple kicked this young mum and baby off her seat, forcing her to stand at the back of the carriage with baby, pram, bags and all.

I was furious! I immediately got up to offer the woman my seat. She declined, thanking me for my offer but saying she only had ten minutes to go to her destination.

I sat back down and noticed that while there were several young people - and even two young men you might describe as 'hoody yobs' to look at - dotted about the carriage, they were all sitting quietly, reading books or newspapers, or listening to music (but quietly enough so that you couldn't hear the tinny noise from the headphones).

The pensioners on the other hand, were talking loudly across the carriage at one another, getting up and down constantly to access their luggage or go to the toilet. They were talking on mobile phones which rang incessantly. They stuffed their faces with food and drink, and I even saw one old lady throwing a wrapper on the floor. They stuck their legs and bags out in the aisle and generally made as much noise and disturbance as they could.

Not that I don't have respect for the elderly, but if they had been a group of young people the attitude towards their 'anti-social behaviour' would have been very different.


Thursday, 27 August 2009

Monday, 24 August 2009

New things I have done this week:

Visited the city of Edinburgh (I have been to the airport three times in my life, but never visited the city until this week)

Watched a comedy show at the Fringe Festival (several actually)

Been chatted up by a hippy

Performed at the Fringe

Had Nepalese food (yum yum)

Had a Subway sandwich (yuk yuk!)

Received a good reaction from my performance at the Fringe

Drank shots in a heavy-metal bar until 4.30am

Been offered more gigs at the Fringe by the guy who runs the Free Fringe!!!!

Been chatted up by a 12-year-old

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Edinburgh or bust

I am taking my comic ramblings to the Fringe Festival next week. I have six half-hour performances scheduled over four days, and also a couple of possible impromptu readings at a restaurant as part of some mates' gigs, and then any other open mic or poetry nights where I can blag, barge and knuckle-dust my way onto the stage.

Although, I'm not sure about the last bit (not the blagging, barging and kuckle-dusting - I am a journalist after all) but about there being open mic somethings, or other random opportunities. You see, I am, as you might say, a virgin.

This is my first Fringe and I'm not too sure what to expect.

I have wanted for years to go, to wander the streets smoking French cigarettes in the sunshine, swigging on my bottle of warm evian and taking in the sights, sounds and smells of people from all over Europe and the world 'being creative'. (Which is usually the smell of sweat, fear, beer and broken dreams.)

I can't quite believe I'm going to be performing though. I feel like a fraud, like I've managed to slip under the radar. I'll turn up at the Fringe office on the first day to pick up my performance pass and they'll go "Oh yes, EW. We've been waiting for you. We're sorry but there has been a mistake, this is the Fringe, and it's for proper artistic people and skilled, entertaining performers. Never mind, we do hope you haven't travelled far."

And I'll be standing there in my costume (yes, I have a costume) with my evian going cold in my bag and my French cigarettes will tumble slowly to the ground, one by one, turning over in the air before scattering their filthy tobacco on the cracked floor of my dreams.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Put right off my, ahem, coffee.

I hate to be a wimp, but; eeeeewwwwww.

Someone in the Guardian newsroom obviously had a little too much time on their hands today when coming up with this gem of a feature:

A whole page (accessible via a picture and link from the website's FRONT PAGE for goodness sake!) about urinating in the shower; the do's and don'ts.

I don't want to read that when I'm tucking into my morning mocha. Quite frankly, I don't want to read that ever.

I don't give a s**t (no pun intended) what some twit at the Guardian thinks is good shower etiquette, I don't care what anyone thinks is good shower etiquette. I don't want to think about people urinating in their showers ever, and it certainly shouldn't be given such prominence on a well-respected news website.

And to think there are eager young trainee journalists out there hungry for a chance to prove themselves and get a coveted byline while the lazy old hacks churn out this sort of twaddle.

Piss off!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The BIG question....


No, you don't have swine flu.