And so, in a change to our advertised programming, it’s time for the tenth and possibly final part of our reel-to-reel tape based mystery. If you haven’t caught up with the previous nine parts yet, then I’d recommend you listen to those before listening to this one, otherwise it won’t really make much sense. I’ll put links to the previous nine parts below.
I don’t intend to spend today’s Dollop on another EU-based rant, but I am constantly astounded by Nigel Farages lack of tact. In his victory speech on Friday, he trumpeted that Brexit had been won without a single bullet being fired, failing to acknowledge the fact that a Remain campaigner was shot by a man who claimed his name was “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” And yesterday, Farage addressed the European Parliament saying, “I would like to see a grown-up and sensible attitude to how we negotiate a different relationship,” before immediately adding, “Now I know virtually none of you have ever done a proper job in your lives. Or worked in business or worked in trade or indeed ever created a job. But listen. Just listen.” He seems to be completely unaware of the irony and the contradiction behind those two statements. If Farage gets tired of “politics,” he could work in the trails department at BBC 5 Live. He’s got the requisite skills: being able to lace everything with irony and contradiction. Failing that, a marriage guidance councillor maybe.
On Monday, I was waiting for someone at Huddersfield train station. A little way off, there was a man shouting at someone, “help a homeless man, brother.” A minute later he’d got a bit closer to where I was standing, and was asking someone else if he could have 30 or 40 pence to get some food. Everyone he spoke to either ignored him or apologised and walked off. Then he approached me and began to speak. I felt bad about just ignoring him, plus the words of that Phil Collins song were going around my head. You know the one: “I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord, And I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, Oh Lord, Can you feel it coming in the air tonight?” Haha, you see what I did there. You assumed that I’d be referring to Phil Collin’s song about homelessness, Another Day In paradise, didn’t you? But I confounded your expectations by choosing a different Phil Collins song, and thus, hilarity was the result. Pick yourself up off the floor, and we’ll continue this anecdote.
“Excuse me,” said the man. Good start, I thought. I appreciate a beggar with good manners. He was doing well, and if he played his cards right, he might well be coming away from this conversation with 30, or even, 40 pence.
“Do you have 30 or 40 pence that you could spare mate?”
I’m not sure why he was incorporating such specificity into his begging. I might have been about to present him with 50 pence, if he hadn’t have been so rash as to underplay his potential bounty. I’ve heard a few homeless people use this approach of recent. In the past, it always used to be people asking if you could spare any change, but now there’s more specificity with the begging. Perhaps this has some psychological grounding, that people are more likely to give you money if you offer a suggested donation, rather than just asking for some change. But where’s this tip come from? Is there a manual for homeless people, full of handy hints about effective begging.
“Tip number one: always approach from the left. We are neurologically wired to respond more positively to people if you approach them from their left, according to a recent Harvard University study …”
Unfortunately, this particular man presumably hadn’t yet fully read the manual, as surely his next line contravened one of its key tenets.
“Do you have 30 or 40 pence to spare mate? I’ve left my wallet at home, and I need to get the bus home.”
Presumably, he hadn’t realised I’d overheard his first two requests for money, in which he said that he was homeless and wanted to get something to eat. I felt a bit annoyed. I know I might have been making light of homelessness a little in the last bit, but in reality I was sorry for his situation and ready to hand him the money. But now I wasn’t sure. He’d said too much, and was clearly lying about his situation.
“I thought you were homeless?” I replied.
“What?” The man seemed a bit taken aback by my challenge.
“You said to the people over there that you were homeless.”
“Did I?” said the man, before adding, “oh yeah, well I am.”
“But you just said you needed the money to get the bus home?”
The man didn’t respond, but just stood there, seemingly surprised by my challenge.
“And I thought you wanted the money for food?”
“er, yeah.” He was sounding rather unsure and unconvincing.
Then he said, “well, I’ve got something sweet to eat, but I haven’t got anything savoury to have before hand.”
I’m not sure how he thought this explained the disparity of his narrative, unless his tactic was to distract me from that line of thinking by saying something unexpected. Now, I know I might be coming across a bit obnoxious here. Obviously I’m sympathetic of people who are homeless. I know it’s only a very small contribution, but I have a monthly donation set up to Shelter. I’m not saying that this gives me the right to make light of homelessness, although, to be honest, that’s the only reason I give to charities, so that I can take the piss out of the people it represents. I mean, surely that’s how it works. So long as I’m giving them money, surely I am allowed to piss-take a bit? That’s why I’m having a go at Nigel Farage so much, because in actuality I’m shelling out loads of money a month to support UKIP.
Anyway, I was shocked by the “homeless” man’s line about only having something sweet, and not having anything savoury to eat first. I don’t want to use the line “beggars can’t be choosers,” but, you know … Plus, a minute ago he was trying to get home because he’d left his wallet in his house, and now that I’d rumbled his wallet-bus story and reminded him that he was menat to be spending the money on food, he’d manufactured a line about needing to buy something savoury to accompony his sweet. Clearly this guy hadn’t read the manual. Surely the rule is that if you’re begging for money for food, you get the savoury first, and then, if it’s a good day of begging, you buy yourself dessert as a reward for a good day’s work? I wasn’t at all convinced that this man was being truthful with me. There was something in his demeanour, and his story just wasn’t adding up.
“OK,” I said, in a friendly voice, “let me buy you something savoury.”
“What? No, it’s all right mate, 30 or 40 pence will be fine.”
I tried to reason with him, explaining that 30 or 40 pence wasn’t going to get him a meal, and I was happy to buy him something substantial to eat. But he just kept saying that 30 or 40 pence would be fine. I tried highlighting that 30 or 40 pence wasn’t going to be enough for his bus fair, and that I’ve been standing on the street now for five minutes, and so far, no one has given him any money. But he just kept saying that all he needed was 30 or 40 pence.
More doubt crept into my mind, but now it wasn’t doubt about this man’s credentials as a beggar, but at whether I was doing the right thing by challenging him. Everyone he’d asked for 30 or 40 pence had refused. Presumably if he was standing on the street asking for money, then he must need it in some way. Yes, his story might keep changing and he might be lying about being homeless, but surely you wouldn’t stand on the street asking for 30 or 40 pence and being continually knocked back, unless you really needed that money for something. And who was I to play judge and jury over this man?
So, feeling guilty for contesting his authenticity, I gave him a pound, and I didn’t even ask for sixty pence change. And then I apologised for challenging him, and wished him a good day. He muttered a thanks and walked off. A few seconds later, he was asking someone else for money.
“Excuse me mate. I’ve left my wallet at home, and I need to get the bus …”
Later that day, back in Sheffield, I had a couple more encounters with some homeless people, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Hopefully you’ll join me, unless you think that this anecdote has shown me to be an obnoxious prick. In my defence, I was the only person, in the ten minutes I was standing there, who gave him any money. I await your verdict on my behaviour.
Today was the first day since Friday that I haven’t been obsessively checking the Guardian and Twitter, trying to compute what has happened and what might happen. But today I’ve had a productive day, haven’t looked at the news or Twitter much at all, and so in my own personal world, things returned to normal; and by normal I mean making dubstep remixes of traditional folk songs. I appreciate that this may not seem particularly normal to most people.
You can hear the fruits of my labour at the very first Young’uns In The Mix, on Saturday 20th August, at the Folk East festival in Suffolk. I’ll also put it on The Young’uns Podcast. Talking of which, I really need to get the first Young’uns podcast of the year released very soon. I said that the new series would be coming in April, but I’ve been so busy that it hasn’t happened. But, you know, it’s not as if it was a promise. I didn’t get a massive poster and emblazon the news all over The Young’uns van, and then pretend I didn’t; although, if I was pretending I didn’t, then I suppose I’d say that I didn’t, hence the pretending element, but, I didn’t, stop trying to trip me up.
Yes, this is what I mean when I say that things have returned to normal: having pretend arguments with myself for my daily blog. Completely normal. Hmm, I think Farage was right about me; I’m not one of the ordinary people. To be honest, I’m not really that decent either. You don’t want to know what I’m doing while I’m writing this; it’s a wonder I can still use the keyboard. Although maybe I should stop. I might give myself an injury, and I wouldn’t want to put unnecessary strain on the NHS. Give it a few months and I’ll be fine doing highly indecent and undisclosed, and potentially danger-inducing stunts, without worrying about putting a strain on our health service. But I appreciate it’s going to take at least a couple of months before all the foreigners leave and the money starts rolling into the hospitals. Then it’ll be amazing. We’ll all be deliberately getting injured just for fun, and also to take advantage of the luxury hospital services. Hopefully they won’t serve caviar for every meal. I mean, it’s nice, but I wouldn’t want it everyday. A bit of satire for you there my friends.
It’s not what you’d describe as “biting satire,” but that’s because I’m aware of the health risks of satire bites, and I think it would be irresponsible of me to give you any, in case it results in you needing to go to Accident and Emergency, thus putting unnecessary strain on our NHS. But in a couple of months when the foreigners leave and the money comes rolling in, etc etc.
Yesterday I watched the England match with Ben and Elsa. It was an odd atmosphere, and we all admitted to each other that we weren’t really that bothered about England winning the match. The political events of recent days, and people’s attitudes to none-English people had made us rather disillusioned with the country. Plus, Elsa is French. Obviously she’ll be leaving soon anyway, in order to free up NHS resources. Am I right Hartlepool? Looking at my Twitter timeline, it seemed as if we weren’t the only people feeling this way, kind of wanting us to lose. As the game went on, and the Iceland goals came in, we started rooting more and more for Iceland. I suppose I wanted it to be a slap in the face to all those idiots I’d heard on the radio and TV, saying things like, “we’ve got England back for the English people,” “it’s time to stand on our own two feet and show the world what we’re made of,” and “now we can make Britain great again,” Obviously, this slap in the face would be a figurative slap in the face. As much as I’d like to give them a literal slap in the face, I wouldn’t want to cause any injuries that might put unnecessary strain on the NHS. Maybe in a couple of months when all the foreigners have left and the money starts rolling into the hospitals. Although, I wouldn’t want to give the stupid, patriotic pricks the joy of being able to live it up in the luxurious hospitals, being waited on hand and foot by their own personal butler.
Again, checking my twitter timeline indicated that others were also getting a weird pleasure from our apparently great nation being beaten by a country with a population the size of Wakefield. Obviously, the truth is that we let Iceland win, to thank them for being the first country to come forward after our Brexit, and offer us a trade deal. England clearly thought that we should be magnanimous and show our appreciation by deliberately playing shit and letting them win. Because, as Farage said, we are decent people.
But anyway, it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts; although, clearly this country has chosen neither to win or take part. We are out. Out of the EU and out of the Euros. Still, who needs the Euros when we’ve got something a lot more interesting happening on our TVs right now, as this parliamentary debacle rolls on. Get a few of your mates round, stick on the news channel, maybe play a drinking game to spice things up a bit: take a drink every time a labour politician resigns, or every time someone reneges on a key pledge of the campaign, or every time someone says there isn’t a plan. Although, actually, maybe best stay off the drink for the time being. You wouldn’t want to put unnecessary strain on the NHS due to alcoholic related injuries or illness. But in a couple of months, once all the foreigners have left and the money comes rolling into the hospitals, then you can drink as much as you want. In fact, we’ll have so much money that they’ll probably serve free booze in the hospital, along with the caviar. A bit of slightly nipping satire for you there my friends.
For the last few months, BBC radio 5 Live have been solidly covering the EU referendum, and they’ve been playing out the same trail for ages. It’s a ridiculous trail, as it chooses a couple of clips which don’t at all back up the whole message of the trail, which is around the tag line, “making sense of the EU referendum.” But no one at 5 Live seemed to notice, and just kept playing it relentlessly.
The music starts, and a Voice Over man says, “BBC 5 Live, making sense of the EU referendum.” There is then a few clips of people talking. One of them is a 5 Live presenter, who says, “now, we’ve heard from our panel of experts, let’s hear from some politicians.” I don’t think the presenter said this deliberately or with any sesne of sarcasm, in order to bash the politicians, suggesting that they are ignorant and unintelligent, but surely the people putting the trail together must have realised that this is how it sounded. I suppose, with the benefit of hinesight though, it is a rather fitting line.
The other clip in the trail, is a man saying something like, “the trouble with this referendum is that no one is giving us any definite answers. And that’s what we need. We want to hear people giving us definite answers about what might happen if we stay or go.” This clip makes no sense at all, and is a complete oxymoron – “definite answers about what might happen?” yet it’s been 5 Live’s chosen clip to wheel out every hour for the last few weeks. And then, just to top the whole ridiculous trail off nicely, the Voice Over man comes back to repeat the line, “BBC 5 Live, making sense of the EU referendum.” Hour after hour, day after day, this trail was played, and no one seemed to have realised how ridiculous it sounds.
The Leave campaign have been telling us not to listen to advice and not to heed the doom mongers when making our decision. And now that the decision has been made, you might be worried about the falling value of the pound and our trading. But there is something that people are overlooking, and even Boris, presumably with the chaos of everything, has yet to placate the British public by reminding us of this all important fact: we have cake!
Boris, in his campaigning, has explained to us on more than one occasion that we will still be a valuable exporter to other countries, even if we leave, because we have something that the rest of the Europe wants. We may have lost our iron and steal trade, and people complain that we don’t make things any more, but that is ridiculous, because we make cake.
“We export cake in growing quantities of a particular dense and glutinous chocolate cake,” declared Boris, coming across particularly dense himself. “We export from Walthamstow to France.” And then, just in case there were still any undecided people who weren’t completely reassured by this statement, he added, “they love our cake in France.” And the fears were allayed. They don’t just like our cake, they love it. If the French were merely partial to our cake, then it might be a tad risky to leave the EU. But Boris clearly said that the French love our cake, and so we can rest assured that they won’t be enforcing any trade tariffs on us, lest the French people should revolt.
“Monsieur président, the people are revolting.”
“Let them eat cake.”
“That’s kind of the problem. They are demanding we import the British cake.”
“What’s wrong with our French cake?”
“Well, it’s just not dense and glutinous enough Monsieur président.” We’ve got our most estemed scientists and chefs on the job to try and recreate the amazing British cake formula, but they’re having no luck at all. It’s either too dense and not glutinous enough, or too glutinous and not dense enough, or too dense and too glutinous, or neither dense or glutinous enough. But we just can’t understand how the British have managed to achieve this ineffably perfect dense and glutinous combination.”
“Well, I suppose we don’t have a choice. Lift all trade sanctions. Damn the British and their culinary genius.”
Now you might be thinking that the French surely could in actuality easily make their own particularly dense and glutinous chocolate cake? There is clearly a gap in the market for locally sourced chocolate cake, yet the stupid French won’t cotton onto this gap in the market, because as President Bush sagely pointed out, The trouble is that the French don’t have a word for entrepreneur, Hang on, was that President Bush who said that or was it Stephen Fry? Hmm.
It is drawing close to midnight, and I’m falling asleep at the computer, so I better end this Dollop here and quickly send it, before I fall asleep and miss today’s Dollop deadline. Thanks for reading.
Yesterday I read an article in the Hartlepool Mail saying that Hartlepool library was running an all day event, celebrating great works of fiction. It’s a shame they didn’t put this event on a couple of days earlier; they could have had a family fun day centred around the promises and statements of Farage, Jonson and the Leave campaign. It might have done some good, and helped inform the voters. Instead they chose to have their Fiction day yesterday, and according to the Hartlepool Mail, it seems as if they’ve opted for a harrowing tale of a dystopian island where everyone’s divided, the economy is collapsing and fascists are rejoicing. No, hang on, this isn’t the Hartlepool Library fiction day; it’s just the actual news.
70 % of people from Hartlepool voted to leave the EU. I’d like to think the majority of these voters made a properly thought-out and informed choice, and their decision to go against all the experts, 90 % of the economists and the vast majority of politicians was an educated one, but if the voxpops from the town are anything to go by, I’m very doubtful that this is the case.
I saw a news report on national BBC TV news, in which people from Hartlepool were interviewed about their vote. There wasn’t a single well reasoned argument from those who’d voted to leave, with people just spouting nonsense about immigration, even though Hartlepool hardly has an immigrant population. “We need to get the foreigners out so we can spend the money on the NHS,” as if there’s a direct link between foreign people and free public health care. How will these people feel when they realise that the foreigners aren’t going anywhere, and the NHS isn’t going to get any more money ploughed into it. Farage and Iain Duncan Smith have already suggested that the whole 350 million into the NHS thing wasn’t actually true, plus Farage has previously stated that the NHS might have to be privatised.
So it seems as if these promises were untrue. OK, maybe “untrue” is a harsh word; how about “white lie?” A nice, white, Caucasian, British lie. Ah, it doesn’t sound so bad now, does it. It was a British white Caucasian lie, for real, ordinary and decent people – you know the type; not like those pretend, weird, indecent folk from London, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Not the vast majority of young people. The ones that aren’t us. The decent people.
How will they feel when they realise they’ve been lied to? I mean, they were bloody livid when they elected H’angus the monkey as mayor of their town in 2002, who, after being voted in, reneged on his election promise to give all school children free bananas. The people of Hartlepool were furious. OK, this isn’t quite as serious; I mean we’re only talking about free health care here, but still, they’ll be pretty pissed off is what I’m saying.
There were a few people on the report who said that they had absolutely no idea why they’d voted to leave, but they just did. Other people said it was to get Cameron out; presumably for an even more rightwing tory government? Because that makes sense. Then you’re voice will really get heard. My gripe isn’t simply with everyone who voted to leave, it’s with those people who didn’t know why they were doing it, or were voting for specious reasons like getting the foreigners out, or as a protest vote. No one sees your vote as a protest vote, there’s nothing that distinguishes your protest vote from a well-informed, educated vote, it’s just a vote, and if they’re more leave votes than remain, guess what, the leave vote wins. It’s basic maths, like one and one equals two, unless those numbers you’re adding up corrolate to British pound coins, in which case it equals 20 pence.
The interviews were recorded at a bus stop, and you could see the 36 bus pulling up, which is the bus that I used to get everyday to go to college and then after that to go to work, but watching Hartlepool on the TV on friday, the town didn’t at all feel like home.
Normally, people who I’ve just met will assume that I’m Geordie, and will ask me if I come from Newcastle. Usually I’ll tell them that I’m from “Artlepool,” dropping the H like all true Artlepudlians do. But, to be honest, so ashamed am I at the ignorance of my home town, that I think from now on whenever someone says, “so, you’re from Newcastle I assume?” I will respond with, “why aye bonny lad, that’s reet man, up the toon.” Or I’ll probably just say “yes,” but you get the point.
In fact, so upset am I with my home town, that I’ve decided that I’m no longer willing to help them with their efforts to get back to the top of the teenage pregnancy league. That’s right, I am so pissed off that I am no longer prepared to have sex with teenage girls, in fact, just to teach you a lesson Hartlepool, I am going to come to your town and have sex with all the foreign teenage girls (of legal age), meaning that there will be an influx of new-born foreigners, so then you’ll actually have a bit more factual weight behind your complaints about “all these foreigners.” Plus, what with all the foreign births, these foreign women will be taking up the NHS’s resources having their foreign children. I mean, really, I’m doing you a favour, Hartlepool. I’m making you look less stupid by introducing more NHS hogging foreign people, so that you’re arguments will actually hold some value. I think this is an even more noble cause than my original teenage pregnancy campaign, and my original cause was pretty noble, I’m sure you’ll agree.
I’ve written today’s Dollop very hastily. I’ll write something a bit more considered and interesting tomorrow; or maybe I won’t, maybe I’m just saying I will in order to get you to come to my website tomorrow, and when you come back tomorrow it’ll just be a recording of me farting; although, I suppose there’s a chance that you might enjoy that more than reading a load of boring words. Oh well, come back tomorrow and we’ll see what happens. There isn’t a plan. I am choosing to adopt the exit campaign’s approach to this blog from now on.
We’ve come along way with this investigation. Today we focus on the owner of the Reel-To-Reel recorder, Ken Cooper, as we go from barely knowing anything about him, to discovering a great deal. Hopefully there’ll be a final part, in which we get to chat with some of the people who were on this recording, made 55 years old, but for now, here’s the penultimate instalment of our reel-to-reel based mystery.
Continuing the investigation into a mysterious reel-to-reel tape recording from the 1960/70s. Does the tape belong to the late Ken Cooper, father of the late David Cooper? Will Steven Mainprize reply to my email and provide us with valuable information? And is Private Frazer a red herring?