Friday, October 23, 2009

Cleanin' Out My Closet ... Again!

Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be ...... Eminem.

Yes I'm cleanin' out my closet. I was deleting some old files when I came across a stack of stuff I'd written for BBC's Have I Got News For You (June 2009). Some of it I said, some of it got cut out and some of it I forgot. Although it's a topical show this material hasn't dated as much as I thought it would - maybe because we're still screwed politically.

Must mention Matt Ross (very talented comedy writer) who worked with me on this.

How is Gordon Brown coping?
Says he’s not going to quit, says he’s best man for the job, says he’s got everyone’s full support ... Isn’t that what football managers always say right before they get sacked?

The Labour Party’s forecast to have its worst results in the local/Euro elections making it the least popular party since Gary Glitter’s last sleepover

Fear of losing to BNP and UKIP ... anyone with initials ... they’re terrified of DFS

He’s refusing to go – I reckon they’ll need bailiffs to get him out – he’ll be claiming squatter’s rights next.

No-one’s pissed away their legacy this badly since George Lucas made the Phantom Menace

On Gordon Brown getting slaughtered in the Press for refusing to go despite calls for him to step down:
He’s like Nero ... everyone’s fiddling while he burns

Things are so bad for Gordon Brown, I hear Susan Boyle’s phoned him to see how he’s doing

I agree with Brown. He should stay on. He’d be stupid to resign now ... in the middle of a recession ... with record unemployment ... how’s he going to find another job?

Alistair Darling
Changed his second home four times in four years – rumour of demotion/reshuffle to Home Secretary:

Alastair Darling is rumoured to being moved to Home Secretary – he’d be good at that, he’s got enough of them.

Darling says he’s going to pay back his expenses ... and then it turns out he’s got the amount wrong ... now I’m no economist, but I’ve got a pretty good idea why things have gone so bad.

Why does he keep changing house? Is he in the witness relocation programme?

Michael Howard’s Garden
Michael Howard claimed £17,000 for gardening costs

Michael Howard claims to be the 31st cheapest MP – it’s meaningless, you’re still in there with them ... it’s like claiming to be the:
31st most safest paedophile
31st most popular Coldplay song
31st prettiest prostitute
31st least dangerous psychopath
31st footballer to go out with Danielle Lloyd
31st bloke Jordan’s been pictured with this week
31st bandwagon Cameron’s jumped on this week
31st most embarrassing STD

Michael Howard’s garden cost £17,000 – bet he didn’t grow any garlic

Michael Howard’s garden got expensive when his labour went back to Eastern Europe ... and those Transylvanian gardeners are hard to find

Michael Howard’s garden cost £17,000 ... fair enough, all those marble tombstones can’t be cheap

Jacqui Smith Talks About Quitting
Jacqui Smith’s expenses now show she claimed for an iPhone for her husband:

Probably to give him something to do with his hands!

It seems the more money she gets the worse she becomes ... I call it the:
Fiona Phillips principle
Michael Owen principle
Robbie Williams principle
Dimitar Berbatov principle

It seems the more money she gets the more slappable/annoying she becomes ... I call it the:
Fiona Phillips principle
Kate Garraway principle
Peaches Geldof principle
Ashley Cole principle

Jacqui Smith Does Quit:
Jacqui Smith always has that fixed grin, it’s like watching a space-hopper talking about immigration

She says she’s resigning as she wants to fight for her seat ... the bailiffs are coming next Tuesday to repossess her furniture

That awful black and white outfit and that fake smile ... she looked like an insincere panda

Hazel Blears Quits
I had the telly on and thought Hazel Blears is looking a lot better these days ... it was ten minutes before I realised it was actually Chesney from Coronation Street.

So now Hazel Blears has turned on Gordon Brown and stabbed him in the knees.

She says she never sought “High Office” ... just as well, she wouldn’t be able to reach it

Does anyone else look at Hazel Blears and think Cilla Black shrunk in the wash?
Does anyone else look at Hazel Blears and think she could be Cilla Black’s mini-me?
Hazel Blears ... she’s like one of those pet chinchillas ... it looks all cute and bouncy, but you know that it’ll gnaw your eyes out given half the chance.
Hazel Blears ... she’s like an evil Oompa Loompa.
Hazel Blears ... the only person who needs a stepladder to stab you in the back.
Hazel Blears ... all short, spiteful and ginger ... she’s like Basil Brush’s evil twin.
Hazel Blears ... all small and nippy ... reminds me of a Jack Russell we used to have ... horrible little thing yapping round your ankles ... it was a nice dog though.
I put the telly on the other night, and thought Geri Halliwell’s really let herself go.
Hazel Blears ... small, ginger and perky ... she’s like Basil Brush on speed.
Hazel Blears ... think about it ... you’ve never seen her and Ron Weasley in the same room together, have you?

Queen Not Invited To D-Day Events
Royal Family invited through Obama intervention, not invited by Gordon Brown

Sarkozy accused of not inviting British:

So what if Sarkozy doesn’t want the Queen at his event ... she should do what all spurned women do if their former partner’s having a party ... arrange one of her own. Hold it at Portsmouth where all the boats set off from and then invite everyone. See who gets the most people turn up ... and seeing as Brown’s already said he’s going to France, I’m guessing it won’t be France.

The Royals weren’t invited but Obama fixed it for them to go on the guest list ... he can fix anything for anyone ... he’s like a popular John Barrowman.

Prince Charles is now going to the D-Day celebrations:
Makes a change, it’ll be the first time the Americans got to a French battlefield before the British ...they were two years late last time

Sarkozy ... he just doesn’t look like a politician ... he’s reminds me of that little Frenchman who used to do Eurotrash on Channel 4

Sarkozy and Obama, both incredibly popular ... both married to very glamorous women ... that’s where Gordon Brown’s going wrong ... but lucky for him, Jordan’s single again.

5 MPs quit on the same day
With so many people walking out around him – Gordon must think he’s at a Coldplay concert / watching Middlesborough ... he’s like the Anti-Alan-Sugar.

Apparently a total of 15 Labour MPs have said they’re resigning – do you think they’re a Lottery winning syndicate?

At this rate, he’s not going to have much left to reshuffle is he?

Swine Flu Hits Eton
4 pupils diagnosed with Swine Flu, Eton closed for a week

Typical, we never got any fancy new diseases at my old comprehensive, we were lucky to get nits

Britain’s Got Talent – Susan Boyle
Gordon Brown likes his telly doesn’t he ... first he gives a tribute to Jade Goody and this week he’s been saying he watched Britain’s Got Talent, and then we find out he’s been calling Simon Cowell. And then I heard him say he wants to clean up the House, I thought “Oh no, he’ s not going on Kim and Aggie”

Gordon Brown/Susan Boyle – two socially inept Scottish losers

Gordon Brown refuses to call an election saying he’s the right man for the job and then he’s phoning Simon Cowell to talk about Susan Boyle – glad he’s got his priorities right!

Gordon Brown refuses to call an election saying he’s busy sorting out the mess the country’s in ... oh yeah, so why’s he’s chatting about Britain’s Got Talent and phoning Simon Cowell! Big Brother’s back this week ... and we know he loves Big Brother, remember his touching tribute to Jade? So don’t expect him to do much for the next 10 weeks

Big Brother:
Big Brother’s back this week, but this year they’re not providing the live 24 hour feed ... which is bad news for Gordon Brown as it looks as though he’s going to have a lot of free time this Summer.

Esther Rantzen MP:
Esther Rantzen has won the support of the people of Luton to stand for Parliament.
Most of Luton seem keen on the idea, the only person not keen on Esther becoming an MP is her daughter who said, “It’s a lot of work — and I thought we were going to plan my wedding,”

Esther is obviously an experienced presenter, so she could be the new Speaker ... accompanied by Richard Stilgoe on the piano.

Katie Hopkins from Apprentice standing as a Euro MEP:
You’ve got Esther Rantzen wanting to be an MP, and Katie Hopkins from the Apprentice standing in the Euro Election ... politics is being taken over by gameshow contestants ... at this rate the next speaker will be Bruce Forsyth.

I think all MPs should be celebrities, then you could feel smart reading “Heat” ... torso of the week, Shadow Chancellor Peter Andre

If celebrities want to be MPs, we really don’t want MPs becoming celebrities ... you don’t want to see Hazel Blears flashing her pants as she falls out a nightclub do you?

Esther wants to stand for Luton, so:

Michael Barrymore, Poole
Jordan, Cockermouth
Geri Haliwell, Barking
Peter Andre, Littlehampton
Jane Asher, Bakewell

Stockbridge Library, Edinburgh

Written for The Scotsman. It really is a great library and after this was published I got extra special treatment from the staff.


For the fourth festival in a row I’m staying within walking distance of my favourite place in Edinburgh - Stockbridge Library.
Yes, whoever said comedy is the new rock and roll wasn’t lying.
Sober or nursing a hangover, I patronise this beautiful and practical building virtually every day during my month in the city.
Stockbridge itself is gorgeous with its village atmosphere of tea houses, cafes, basement pubs and lovely surrounding scenery.
So where can you retreat to when you are already staying in a heavenly part of the world?
For me it is the Stockbridge Library.
Now I’m not sure if my old English teacher, Mr Gilchrist, has followed my career closely but he would be astonished to hear me expound the virtues of a library.
But I may have been able to pass my A-Levels if a library in those days was as an enjoyable place to visit as Stockbridge library.
There are countless interests to occupy my time in a relaxing atmosphere.
I can read the classics while losing £10 playing internet poker.
I can peruse reviews of my show while losing £20 playing internet poker.
I can research the history of Scotland while losing £50 playing internet poker.
I can have a coffee and read the papers while losing £100 playing
internet poker.
And also for a library it has an excellent selection of books.
Although frustratingly “How to win at internet poker” is rarely on the shelves.
But it isn’t money that makes the world go round but the enthusiasm of people. And there are few people less enthusiastic than the staff at Stockbridge library.
They are infectious and helpful and they add to the pleasure of frequenting the establishment.
I’m also impressed that a library can have a WII console – that keeps the under 7s and my husband entertained.
So, I hear you ask - if I spend so much in an Edinburgh library what books would I recommend?
Well, in no particular order, essential reading matter for me to while away my time in Scotland is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, any Ian Rankin thriller, the John Lewis catalogue and the Shuggie and Duggie cartoon in the Daily Record.
I don’t expect it to overtake the Castle as the place to visit while in Edinburgh and it is just as well it doesn’t.
Because to me the Stockbridge Library is my oasis of calm during the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh during August.

Things To Do In Edinburgh

Written for the BBC Culture Show (Oooh! Get me). This is very classy stuff and proves I have 'culture' coming out my ass.



It’s a beautiful building on Queen St, all very Gentlemen’s club like, fabulous staircases, huge windows and high ceilings. But it’s not remotely snobby. It’s perfectly acceptable to get drunk and ask stupid questions about whisky.
The staff make it a real occasion, they basically spend the evening telling you about all the different whiskies and what area produces what type.
Believe me very soon you will imagine you know what you’re talking about and it’s thoroughly enjoyable to talk bollocks about whisky – “Oh yes, I’m getting peat with a hint of caramel”.

I came across these glorious men (and it is all men!) and their model boats by chance in Inverleith Park.
The Park is well worth a look in itself but on regatta day – truly a treat. They had racecourses set up for the boats, which range from miniature warships to cruisers to tugs. They sit drinking tea and race their boats. Times are recorded and it is all very serious in a completely silly way. Many of the men are wearing Captains hats. One member told me how the Swans have to be removed, as they kept attacking the boats.
According to their website the next Regatta will be on Sunday 16th August, there’s also something about meeting in a beer tent on Sun 19th after a boat showing – I’ll going to that one!

A Gay club on Picardy place, opposite the Italian Restaurants.
I have a friend originally from Edinburgh and if ever we find ourselves in CC Blooms we will always text each other. “In CC’s” means I’m VERY drunk and have put aside all plans and ambitions for the foreseeable future.
CC Blooms is unlike any other gay club - well for a start there are very few men that look well dressed enough to be gay.
All human life is here – drunk. Very young gay men who run around as though it’s a school playground – screeching and gossiping, Hen parties doing much the same thing but all in matching outfits, trannies, mannies, grannies, straight men who’re too drunk to care where they are and are enjoying getting in touch with their gayness, people who want to tell you their problems, people who want to marry you, odd men from Fife who stand in their anoraks contemplating ‘coming out’, It’s a wonderful celebration of vice.
In the song “Let me take you to funky town” this is where they would take you.

Even the name of it is like something from Brigadoon. The Water of Leith runs from Leith all the way to Balerno, it’s 13 miles but let’s not get crazy with healthy pursuits. I walk a short bit of it going through Dean Village, where there are beautiful 18th century ivy covered mansions and old 17th century mill cottages, up by botanical gardens and the Gallery of modern Art where you can get that great Scottish masterpiece – homemade soup and a roll. Scotland is king for homemade soups.

A lovely girly thing to do. I met a friend for drinks here and it was like drinking gin in the womb – which I think of as a nice and relaxing thing to do.
The Barman was ancient and completely charming. And like the whisky club although the surroundings are beautiful and very posh – you don’t have to be.
Whilst we were there a lovely old Edinburgh lady got up and sang at the piano. I don’t know if anyone can do that, for all I know she owns the Balmoral, more likely she’d just had too much champagne.

Ok, I realize this sounds like the tackiest ‘McTourist’ thing you can do BUT……..
It’s actually really interesting. The place is huge inside and has mock ups of weaver’s homes and tells the whole story of tartans and tweeds. Also I found the gentle, ‘thwack ‘ of the working looms incredibly soothing.

Go and see someone you’ve never heard of at the Free Fringe. Last year I had a fantastic hour seeing Rob Deb’s show “The Dork Night Returns”. This year I’m going to see his new show “Rob Deb V’s Army of Dorkness” – (do you see what he’s done there?).
The show was in the Jekyll and Hyde Pub – a perfect venue for a meeting of geeks. Rob is a genuine geek, not a trendy geek liking everything in an ‘ironic’ way. No Rob’s the real thing, a joyous enthusiast who dresses badly and lives with his mother.
He told stories of his long love affair with all things Batman. Then there was a question and answer session, which I have to confess I hardly understood a word, having an only basic knowledge of Batman. But it was a show filled with warmth and self deprecating humour that had me wanting to run off to a convention and become a geek.
The Jekyll and Hyde is on Hanover Street.
Tip: the ladies toilets are reached through a hidden door in a bookcase.

Also just to make it ten – The Italian restaurants at the top of Leith Walk (great food served till 2am), The Commonwealth Pool and Duddingston Village.

The Stand Comedy Club
5 York Place, Edinburgh
(Thursday 6th – Sunday 30th August)

Ticket Prices At Edinburgh Festival 2009

I wrote this for someone (was it Fest magazine or was it a website? Can't remember) in July 2009 - it's about the rising ticket prices at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

FEST BLOG by Jo Caulfield

I'm already being congratulated for my show – and the festival hasn't even started yet. Sadly for my ego, I’m not being congratulated on the content but on the price - £9.
Keeping the price low was a conscious decision. Most people who come to see Stand-Up shows at the Festival are big comedy fans and they’ll be paying to see several shows. I think they should be rewarded for investing in the festival. They should get some ‘deals’ for coming and supporting the Comedy. I really don’t think comedy should be about ripping people off - just becausesomeone will pay £14 for a ticket doesn’t make it right for me to charge that.
Edinburgh is an expensive place to come in August, hotel prices are at a maximum, train fares are ridiculous and confusing, even some restaurants put up their prices just for August. If we want to ensure the festival is still here in 10 years time we have to make it more affordable.

It needs to be affordable to audiences but also to comics.
Generally audiences are paying money to see comics who are losing money. It’s simple economics. In the main venues the cost of putting on a show can be so high that only the bigger name comics will make a profit. I’m not pointing fingers, it’s just the reality and it’s a deal that comics do willingly. It’s an investment, there’s no dispute in my eyes; coming to Edinburgh makes you a better comedian. You stretch yourself, you write new material, you grow as a performer.

But we need to get the balance right and stop the excesses that could ruin the Festival. At The Stand Comedy Club Tommy Shepherd seems to be able to somehow please audiences and comics with the way he runs the finances. The man’s a genius. A rich genius that drives a merc, so he’s doing well by playing fair.

I also think the burgeoning free fringe and the £5 fringe are both great ideas. At those prices festival goers are more likely to take a risk on seeing someone they’ve never heard of; that’s great for the performers and the audience
It also brings back the spirit of experimentation and fun that’s being lost in all ‘the business’ of the Festival.

And now just so people don’t think my show will be a lecture on the economics of comedy – here’s a joke

Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?
A. To avoid the comedian handing out leaflets.

Sad but true.