Tuesday 27 June 2017

Pandemonium Pig Travel Ship Whirpool Turtles - comics by kids

Another week of travels to schools far and wide, and a very healthy word count on the titles the kids have come up with for their comics. These two classes from Broadchalke Primary School in Wiltshire give us 16 words between them alone.

I must say Woooo! I can't believe my comic contains this much banter! is my favourite title from a pretty high quality week. These from Ashlyns School in Berkhamsted where, for the second time this year, I found myself arriving at a school that had been evacuated because of a fire alarm. It was, in fact, a hoax bomb email which is, it seems, quite a common thing lately. They are sent to dozens of schools at once, occupying hours of police time, to what end I can't quite work out.

Dean Close School in Cheltenham is the independent school that the Reverend Marcus Morris, inventor of The Eagle comic, went to. It was also a school whose timetabling vagiaries were such that I ended up having to do three classes in a day, which is slightly different from my usual working method. But, of course, I managed it, and the three groups produced these two comics between them.

In Ludlow, on Saturday, I did one class in the library before doing a Socks show that evening. They came up with a comic whose title might not be very original. But by god look at that word count.

The celebrities these 8 classes (yes 8 classes producing 7 classes, see above) chose for my demonstration strip were Simon Cowell, Ellen Degeneres, Kim Kardashian (twice), Donald Trump (twice), Mr Bean, and Michael Jackson.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video 

Sunday 25 June 2017

1000 miles & 28 hours of radio, The Socks tour ends

On Monday, coming home from Broadchalke School in Wilts, I thought I could hear a knocking sound in my car. (My new car, bought just two months ago in April, remember). Better safe than sorry, so on Tuesday morning I took my car into Bristol to the garage to see if they could find anything, and drove off in a courtesy car.

Drove, in fact, all the way to North Yorkshire, so the Socks could play a 90 minute show at Burnsall Village Hall as part of the Grassington Festival. Thanks a million to Gilly & Shaun Hart who arranged the whole thing, having previously had us to perform at nearby Appletreewick a couple of years back. Both gigs ranking high as our most remote rural gigs, and last night's a sellout, with a cracking crowd and a record take on the merchandise (£74).

After a lovely stay in Gilly & Shaun's astonishing self-built house (a converted barn which they have, literally, done themselves. They bought a JCB and everything) it was a drive back in the courtesy car, by which time I'd learnt that the garage could find nothing wrong with my car and I had, slightly fraudulently, put nearly 500 miles on the clock.

From there, after a luxurious day in the studio mending props, printing out DVDs, and relabelling t-shirts (we've been getting through them at a healthy lick this tour), it was three nights in a row bringing the Socks tour to a close.

The Bridge House Theatre in Penge, which hadn't even figured on our tour flyer, was a surprise last-minute booking. So last minute in fact, that I'd thought it was to be a 20 minute slot on a comedy club bill, so was chuffed to find we were doing the whole 60 minute show on an Edinburgh Preview double bill with Dan Antopolski, and were closing. Another lovely crowd who, though they weren't expecting the Socks and who drew a 100% blank when asked if they'd seen us before, gave us a great reception. Why, it's almost like it's a very good show that works with any audience.

Friday was Hertford Comedy Festival, doing the show at 7.30 in the Hertford Theatre, and going down a storm. What a good audience. Stingy gets when it came to the merchandise table (a little over a tenner taken) but not everyone can be Burnsall Village Hall.

And Saturday saw the tour ending (save for two nights at Camden Fringe in August) in Ludlow where I gave them a sold out Comic Art Masterclass in the library in the afternoon, followed by a swelteringly hot ram-packed Socks Do Shakespeare in the Sitting Room at night. A perfect end to our best tour ever.

When I took my car into the garage on Monday it had just rolled over the 6000 mile mark. When I came home on Saturday night I'd added another 870 miles to that. Which, with the 478 miles in the courtesy car, is quite enough driving for one week.

Imagine if next week were anything like that. Well relax, it's all schools next week. In Berkhamsted, Cheltenham, Romsey, Fordingbridge near Southampton, Muswell Hill, and North Herts. Bugger.

An upside of all this driving is that I got to listen to a hell of a lot of radio, live & on iPlayer, and podcasts. Here are the highlights:

The Rolling Stones Story. An excellent documentary, from 1973, presented by Alexis Korner and originally broadcast on Radio 1. It featured an incredible range of interviews, from Mick, Keith and Andrew Oldham on down through engineers, producers, gig owners, you name it. Given that there was little over ten years worth of story to tell at the time, this documentary managed to fill 6 whole hours with detail. I found myself more interested in the Stones than I've ever been, and come away much more informed. Recommended for as long as it's on iPlayer.

On The Town with The League Of Gentlemen. The original radio series from 1999, of which I only heard maybe one episode at the time (remember a time when, if you missed a radio show, it stayed missed?). It's stood the test of time with some sketches much funnier, or rather more comedic and less dramatised, than their TV versions. Still laugh out loud funny, and interesting to hear the characters who would go on to be developed across the TV series.

TED Radio Hour - What Is Original? Looking at the notion of copying and originality, from Mark Ronson looking at sampling and emulating styles, through the reworking of folk songs by Dylan and his ilk, to Steve Jobs and Elon Musk and how they've built on the technological discoveries of their predecessors.

Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Collossal Podcast. He interviewed Rupert Holmes, whose album Widescreen I've loved for 40 years and who I thought, for a long time, only I'd heard of. It turns out that, apart from his brief time as a pop star, he's been a composer and author involved in everything from the early career of the Jackson 5 to best selling Broadway shows, and most things entertainment wise. Great to hear him talk, for the first time.

Also listened to John Finniemore Apparently (his pilot sketch show from 2008), John Finniemore's Double Acts, Dead Ringers, Paul Sinha's History Revision, Mark Steel's In Town, Wordaholics, Cabin Pressure, and the usual range of favourites from More Or Less and The Media Show to Just A Minute and Feedback. With this lot, a bit of Radcliffe & Maconie and the news, I'll have notched up around 28 hours of radio listening.

August 16 & 17 Camden Fringe

Parking Tickets & Only Connects - my Facebook posts

Well done BBC, his name was Roy! (They've fixed it since I took the grab)

June 9: Just filed a challenge against a car parking Penalty Notice. What do we think are my chances? Has anyone ever challenged a parking fine and got off it?

1) Okay, got a Tea-Time Theme-Time for you. What do these 3 songs have in common?

Rock DJ - Robbie Williams 

Tubthumping - Chumbawumba

Guantanamera - The Sandpipers

Reading Giles cartoons of a Sunday morning, as is our wont, stumbled across this gem from the Edinburgh Festival 1955 and, most delightfully, recognised its location. Giles has set the scene at the top of The Vennel in Edinburgh, which is where Hev and I stayed in 2015. Edinburghians should recognise it, the path that leads from Art College to the Grassmarket. Any other Giles fans out there? Ever spotted your street used as a backdrop?

June 10:
Adam West remains my Batman. I mean, you can hear what he says (yes, that's you Whispering Bale), he wasn't better in everything else he did (hello George Clooney), he wasn't hard to work with (oh Val Kilmer, you're surprised you're not in everything these days?), and he wasn't just totally wrong to play Batman (seriously, who cast Michael Keaton?). Adam West, we'll miss you at the Pigeon Toed Orange Peel.

What? I didn't mention Ben Affleck? I did not realise I had not done that.

2) Okay, got an Only Connect for you. What comes 4th in this sequence and why? (Imagine this as a picture round, that'd make it harder)

Dinah Shore

Bill Bailey

Martin Clunes
What comes 4th and why?

Doctor Who fans cover your ears. I was teaching comics to a Year 5 group today in Manchester, and on the flipchart I'd already drawn a character that would be familiar to all of you. "We know who this is?" I said, obviously. The first guess was C3PO, the next was BB8. Guesses ranged from "a alien" to something out of Spongebob. It was at least half a dozen guesses before one kid got that it was something from Doctor Who. Another piped up, "it's a Tardis!". I settled for that.
It was a Dalek! A class of thirty 9 and 10 year old kids in Manchester did not recognise a Dalek! It's the end of the world as we know it.

(Here's that flipchart itself (above). Not the best Dalek drawing ever, but come on!)


Am I the only person who's getting a bit tired of the Lazy Drone Shot that's become a new cliche in film & TV making? 3 shows we watched in the last 2 days - Handmaids Tale, Durrells and The Lobster - all did it, and you've seen it 100 times more.

Once upon a time it used to be hard work and expensive to get an aerial shot - I'm remembering the opening of The Shining for example - or to get the camera to start on high and come down low - that would need a Cherry Picker or a Jimmy-Jib. And film makers used these things deliberately, knowing how they worked within the language of film.

Now I'm worried too many directors are getting on location and thinking "and wouldn't it be cool if we had a drone shot too?" so you get a shot which creates the wrong mood, looking more dramatic than called for, or worse looking like every other film or TV show made since the Drone Boom of 2015. A bit like all those TV shows from the early 70s with experimental (rubbish) green-screen. Is it just me?

3) Okay, got a Teatime Theme Time/ Only Connect for you. What links these four songs?

California Girls by Katy Perry & Snoop Dogg

Thankyou For Letting Me Be Myself Again by Sly & The Family Stone

Back Street Love by Curved Air

Goodbye To Jane by Slade

Has the word Immigration changed its use? I ask because I'm working on a job for the Milton Keynes 50th anniversary, and did a splash referring to "Immigration", as per the brief. The client's suggested I should use the word Migration instead, as people might not understand immigration. And I realised, as we were talking, that I hear people talk of Migration and Migrants, but rarely hear the use of the terms Immigration and Emigration, which have clear and obvious meanings (the thing I'm doing is about immigration into MK, rather than emigration out of it) but maybe not to everyone. Is it a generational thing?

Just caught a Tales Of The Unexpected on Sky Arts and, Googling it as you do, discovered this unknown (to me) gem. Roald Dahl hosted a similar series, for CBS in 1961, called Way Out. Some of the stories in Way Out were re-done for TOTU. Who knew?

Can I recommend this fascinating find, recently broadcast on 6Music, now on iPlayer - The Rolling Stones Story. A documentary from 1973, presented by Alexis Korner, with an amazing array of interviews with people I've never heard speak before, inc Mick, Keith, Andrew Oldman, club runners, label owners, the lot. I thought I'd heard a lot about the Stones, but I knew next to none of this. Do you know where the Crawdaddy club got its name? Do you know who Chancery Lane and Sandy Beach were and the part they played in the Stones success? Want to hear Brian Matthews' candid impression of his first encounter with the band? This excellent doc, which must originally have been on Radio 1, has it all. And it's only Part One.

4) OK, got an Only Connect for you. What do the following items have in common?
A banana
A tin of Heinz Baked Beans
A Topic bar
A black pudding

June 14: UPDATE to my parking ticket of June 9th. This from North Somerset Council today: "I am pleased to advise you that on this occasion the notice in question has been cancelled." Thanks everyone for the reassurance. Let's spread the word, challenge your parking tickets.

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video 

August 16 & 17 Camden Fringe

Only Connect / Tea Time answers:
1 - You only sing when you're winning
2 - eg Pam St Clements (Oranges & Lemons)
3 - Mis-spelled titles
4 - The Goodies

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Warriors Of Moss Side - new comics by kids

My Comic Art Masterclasses have again taken me around the country, and as always I try and represent the kids in the class if I can, when they come up with titles for the comic the class produces together. So we have the Year 5s of St Marys Primary in Moss Side depicted as a hijab-wearing Wasp, and Captain Moss Side looking more like an average kid in the class, in skin tone if not in muscle mass. And I always love having a pastiche to draw, so not only did I have fun with the cover of Avengers No 4, but also the poster for Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.

Oh how drole kids can be. When you have older teenagers - and these groups at Sunday masterclasses in Burgess Hill's Martlets Hall included kids from 7 to 17 - you get the ironic titles. Hence Creatively Named Comic, on which I've depicted the runner-up title, a Kangaroo with a solar panel.

They came up with cats in Burgess Hill and they came up with cats in Guildford, at the G Live Centre. And potatoes. Kids love potatoes, chicken, and cheese. You're never far away from those foodstuffs when you get kids to come up with a random title.

I was trying to make this baby look like a baby, and didn't want him to look totally bald. Call me overly-politically-correct, but my picture research suggested to me that BAME babies tend to be born with more hair than caucasian babies. Trouble is I may have been rushing it, so we end up with a baby who looks like it's been born with creeping alopeceia. I can only apologise. The Planet Of The Apes cover was done in a class spread over two days, so I was able to colour it when it was only half-finished, the pupils having not yet added their contributions, which they do while I'm drawing their caricatures.

The celebrities these groups close for my demonstration strip were Benedict Cumberbatch, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mel B, Donald Trump (three times), and, most original suggestion of the week, Mr Tumble.

Comic Art Masterclasses coming up in 2017:
June 24 - Ludlow Assembly Rooms

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video 

Sunday 11 June 2017

Aaaaaaaargh it's the Edinburgh Fringe Programme

I've just enjoyed the annual treat of reading the Edinburgh Fringe programme. If you've read this blog in the past, you'll know I've had this pleasure almost every year since 1984, and have watched closely the changes in the festival, and of its programme.

Back in 2015 I noted that the programme grew by about 20 pages a year. That seems to have slowed, with it having grown only 18 pages in 2 years, up from 2015's 440 pages to this year's 458.

The comedy section has remained about steady over recent years, weighing in this year at 142 pages. In 2015 it was down to 137 from 2014's 141 and 2012's 143. This compares to the first year I was in the programme, 2001, where there was a mere 33 pages of comedy.

On which subject, of course, I'm missing this year's Fringe, with the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre taking only their second year off since 2007. But it's good to see lots of familiar faces, and tropes of the programme, that carry on without us. Here are some of the choicest bits.

Aaaaaaaaaaargh. Way back in 1984, Malcolm Hardee made it a tradition to be first in the Fringe programme by naming his show Aaaaaaaaaaargh! It's Malcolm Hardee. In those days there were no separate sections for Comedy, Music, Theatre etc, so Malcolm took pride of place in the alphabetical order with this bit of silliness and originality. This year there is not one, not two, not three, but an astounding nine shows that have all named themselves Aaargh...something. From Aaaaaaaargh! The Malcolm Hardee Awards - who, let's face it, can claim some ownership of the idea - to Aaaaargh! Macbeth. There are also two shows that have begun their show title Aaaand Now..., and five that begin AAA. For the record the first legitimate act's name in the alphabetical listing is Sitcom Trials alumni Aaron Twitchen, who you should go see for that reason alone (as well as because he is excellent).

Acts without their name in the title. I don't know if this was a feature of previous year's programmes (I don't have them to hand at time of writing) but it's noticeable that a lot of comedians, with familiar names, don't appear in the alphabetical listings where you'd expect them to. Their show title is there prominently, but in many cases their name is in the subtitle only. So, hoping it doesn't affect their sales too much, have fun finding the shows by Janey Godley (filed in the Fs for For Godley's Sake), Maff Brown (under T for There's Always One), Jarlath Regan (under O for Organ Freeman), or Don Biswas (under L for Left Wing Conspiracy Theorist). They're far from the only ones to have fallen into this trap (into which we fell with our second show in 2008, The Return Of The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre, which was under R in some listings, and T in others!)

Pushing Their Luck With The Title Award goes to the show, Luke McQueen: The Boy With Tape On His Face. Is he banking on the fact that the real Boy With Tape On His Face, who is also appearing this year, now goes by the name of Tape Face? Or is it a gag that's way too clever for me to appreciate?

Wrong Prime Minister On The Poster Award goes, for the second year running, to Newsrevue who had to suffer all last August with David Cameron on their poster and advert, he having unexpectedly resigned a month after the programme was published. This year they have Theresa May on their advert. At time of writing, no-one knows how out of date that will look by August.

Pun titles. Come on, who doesn't love a great pun title. Here are my 14 favourites from this year's programme.

Aaron Twitchen - Curtain Twitchen
Kae Kurd - Kurd Your Enthusiam
Gareth Mutch - Mutch Ado About Nothing
Sarah Iles - The Silly Iles
Georgie Morrell - The Morrell High Ground
Henning Wehn - Westphalia Is Not An Option
Cally Beaton - Super Cally Fragile Lipstick
Gary Tro - SupercalifragilisticexpiGARYTROcious
Adam Kay - Fingering A Minor On The Piano
Ashley Storrie: Morning Glory
Archie Maddocks - IlluminArchie
Lily Lovett Lovett Lovett, I'm Loving It Like That
Nazeem Hussain - Hussain In The Membrane
Mickey Sharma - Sharma Sharma Sharma Sharma Sharma Comedian

And this brilliant question, from the Facebook page of comedian James Cook:

What connects:

Assisted Suicide, Bat Boy, Brexit, Communism, Ouija, Pinkalicious, Scientology, Stimela, Suicide, Thrones and X? (*Answer at foot of blog)

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are not appearing at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe

*The answer is they're all followed by the words "The Musical" in this year's Fringe programme.

2017 TOUR
June 15 - Crescent Arts, Belfast
June 20 - Grassington Festival, Yorks
June 23 - Hertford Comedy Festival
June 24 - Ludlow Fringe
August 16 & 17 Camden Fringe

Saturday 10 June 2017

The DUP Explained - new video by the Socks

After the longest break they've ever taken from video-making, the Scottish Falsetto Socks have returned to the studio with a short piece about the DUP, who are in today's news and, one can only hope, not in it for too long. But, being the day after the General Election, we're learning that not only is a week in politics a long time, every half an hour in politics sees something unpredictable happen. In the half hour that this video was uploading, Labour took Kensington for the first time ever, and Sinn Fein suggested that working with the DUP breaks the Good Friday Agreement. Interesting times.

And this video has proved pleasantly popular. Just 12 hours after it went up on Youtube it's had over 1500 views, while on Facebook it appears to have been even more popular, with 20,000 supposed views, 129,000 people "reached", 300 likes and 450 shares. This is fun, we should do more of this stuff.

UPDATE: 10.30pm Saturday night, our Facebook video is on 73,000 views, 274,908 people reached, 667 likes, and 1467 shares. Original Youtube video on 2847 views, subtitle version on 202.

7am Sunday: Facebook 82K views, 298,028 reached, 708 likes, 1590 shares. Youtube 3150 & 284.

7pm Sunday: Facebook 102,650 views, 343,457 reached, 822 likes, 1921 shares. Youtube 3510 & 353.

4pm Monday: 122,629 views, 393,288 reached, 924 likes, 2201 shares. Youtube 4101 & 434.
7am Tuesday: 131,869 views, 412,607 reached, 965 likes, 2327 shares. Youtube 4326 & 527.
11.30pm Tues: 140,938 views, 429,316 reached, 1K likes, 2459 shares. Youtube 4451 & 563.
11pm Thurs: 148,125 views, 450,078 reached, 1K likes, 2546 shares. Youtube 4710 & 642.

Saturday June 17: 150,000 views (they stop telling you the exact number after that point), 456,533 reached, 1K likes (they long since stopped giving an exact figure) and 2558 shares. That'll do, pig, that'll do.

UPDATE: Many months later, on September 3rd: 154,691 views, 1K likes, 2595 shares (reach unknown). Youtube 5653 (raw) & 1065 (subtitled). So, little movement since its initial week in June, more on Youtube than on Facebook.

2017 TOUR
June 15 - Crescent Arts, Belfast
June 20 - Grassington Festival, Yorks
June 23 - Hertford Comedy Festival
June 24 - Ludlow Fringe
August 16 & 17 Camden Fringe

Friday 9 June 2017

On the side of the angels? My election posts

Delighted as I am with the General Election result (at time of writing it's a hung parliament, Theresa May's nose bloodied, Jeremy Corbyn on top of the world), my Facebook posts over the past couple of months may have suggested I'd be anything but. Looking back over them now, my pessimism and cynicism seems positively doom-laden. What can I say? I'm delighted to have been proved wrong. Here's a selection of dim-witted futurology from yours truly.

May 2
Having slagged off the opinion polls in my last post, I do love a good graph. I've bookmarked this, the Poll of Polls for the election. It looks like it shows you something significant, until you look at the foot of the graph and realise it's effectively meaningless unless the polls are separated out constituency by constituency. SNP on 4%? In Tunbridge Wells maybe, in Maryhill & Govan not so much. Still, enjoy those meaningless upticks stat-fans. Only 7 more weeks of this nonsense to go.

May 2
I made an interesting discovery about the word Stable, while trying to write a Shakespearian "Strong & Stable" tweet at the weekend. In Shakespeare's day, stable just meant a place where you keep your horses. It didn't mean steady. I'm now trying to find out when it took on that meaning. In the meantime, you may still need this Strong & Stable Bingo Card for the next time Theresa May opens her face.

May 2 Independent -  The Tories dropped by 10 points in the polls in the first week of the campaign. That could grow as the public gets to know Theresa May

Uh oh, a headline about an opinion poll that makes a prediction about a future opinion poll. Have these people not heard of regression to the mean? It is much more likely that the next poll will see the graph move the other way. Then the one after that will bounce back up again and so on. But still the lazy journalists will report each jerk of the graph as "closing the gap" or "plunging towards doom" or some other nonsense. Have we learned nothing from the 4 successive votes? Referendum, election, referendum, election, every poll got it wrong in the end. Every exit poll was greeted with "well I didn't see that coming". Nobody knows anything. Still, as this blog attests, you gotta say something.

May 6 
Why are we so surprised when the working classes reject Labour? It is much more surprising when they vote Labour. They've really only done it three times in living memory. Attlee in 1945 (and that took a war), Tony Blair in 1997 (and that took 18 years of Tory rule), and Harold Wilson in 1964 (and that took The Beatles). Seeing this image (and many more like it) since the election result brings back many memories. For I am old enough to remember 1979. They coined the term "Basildon Man" for the unprecedented phenomenon of the working class voter who'd inexplicably shifted their allegiance from Labour to Tory, even though the Tories had spent half of the previous decade trying to destroy the union movement, and were vowing to do the same if they got into power. Plus ca change.

May 2 Guardian -  Tories under fire for banning local paper from filming Theresa May

More Theresa May media mismanagement that will make absolutely no difference to any voters whatsoever. Have you ever met a Tory who wasn't going to vote for someone cos it turns out that person doesn't like common people?

May 3 Guardian -  Brexit could wipe out Welsh farming, say union

Dear Farmer who voted for Brexit. You'll just have to sell a lot more of those Turkeys who voted for Christmas to make up the shortfall.

May 9 Guardian - Corbyn says he will not quit as leader if Labour loses

Of course he won't. He's the Black Knight out of Monty Python & the Holy Grail. "''Tis but a flesh wound. The real fight starts here. "

May 9 Guardian -  With its bedrock smashed to pieces, Labour cannot win

What? There isn't "an obvious alternative (in Wales) like the Scots have with the SNP"?? I hope no Plaid Cymru supporters read The Guardian. Why are Welsh voters going Tory rather than Plaid?

May 9 BuzzFeed News denied access to Corbyn events after interview

What'll he be doing next? Calling them 'fake news'? Way to get the media on your side, Labour.

May 10 
Are Labour throwing this election or being sabotaged? I just realised I haven't seen any of Labour's star players on the telly or in the news. Where's Chuka Umunna? Where's Yvette Cooper? Where's Harriet Harman? Where's Hilary Benn? Where's Caroline Flint? We once had a line up of great speakers, vote-winning charismatic figures who could pop up on Question Time and make you say "go Labour go Labour." Are they all deliberately holding back so that, when Labour lose, they can step back into the fray and rescue the party? Or are they simply being ignored by the media, who've always found Nigel Farage so much more camera friendly?

May 10 Guardian - Labour hints that it will pledge to abolish university tuition fees

Labour hints? "Hints"????? Yes, cos this is the time to be vague! It doesn't matter if it's true, it doesn't matter if you mean it. Write it on the side of a bloody bus and be proud of yourselves! "Hints", my God.

May 12 Guardian article: Labour has a chance if it replaces Corbyn. Look at Australia in 1983

Interesting. Not gonna happen here, but interesting. Did not know this.

May 21
A nice find on today's internet. Whenever the Tories mention Jeremy Corbyn's support for Sinn Fein, remind them there's a Tory councillor in Croydon who was literally, physically, genuinely in the actual IRA!

May 22
Dementia Tax U-Turn. Great name for a band.

May 22 Independent: Recording shows Theresa May is not telling the truth about the Dementia Tax

I hesitate to say we're clutching at straws with this Dementia Tax story, but here I go retweeting it to the choir regardless.

June 2 NME - Jeremy Corbyn cover shoot

Ah the good old NME. I used to read it back when it won the 83, 87, and 92 elections for us.

May 27 Daily Mirror -  Tory slates 'Jeremy Corbyn quote' - then awkwardly realises who actually said it (Boris Johnson)

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha they're still going to win aren't they?

June 1
I'm getting a bit bored with the repetitive echo-chamber that is my Facebook. (In brief, my friends and I are lefties, so we're either grabbing at every straw that suggests the polls are closing, repeating every meme that laughs at Theresa May & the Tories, or moaning because we find not everyone thinks the same way we do.) So here, for light relief, is what elections were like when we were kids. Enjoy (Monty Python video).

June 1 Guardian - BBC have banned a song that calls Theresa May a liar (even though it's number one)

If you need any more reminders of how 2017 and 1983 are, in so many ways, the same year, let's all remember Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

June 1 Independent - London's favourite for prime minister is Jeremy Corbyn

An opinion poll taken in London? Wow! That's so relevant to every other constituency in the country. Said no one ever.

June 2 Guardian - How satire could swing the UK election

I'm reminded of Peter Cook who spoke of "the satirical Berlin cabarets of the ’30s, which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the Second World War."

June 2 Evening Standard - Labour slashes poll gap again as female voters desert Theresa May

Remember polls are there to motivate voters (in this case complacent Tories) not for information.

June 3 Indy100 - Guerilla anti-Tory adverts appear all over London

Anti Tory posters? All over London? Yes that'll do it.

June 5 Independent - Tories will lose out on majority by 21 seats, YouGov results find

Repeat after me, everyone: "Opinion polls are a device for influencing public opinion, not a device for measuring it". And YouGov was founded by Stephan Shakespeare - a Tory candidate and Tory pollster! This news is put out to scare Tories into remembering to vote. If you think it is an indication Labour are going to do well, you haven't been paying attention.

June 6 
Thanks to Ferg Handley for directing me to this website. It shows you the last election's results in your constituency. Here's mine. Hmmm, a 53% vote for Liam Fox. C'mon guys, if we get all the Lib Dems and Greens to vote strategically and, er, grow some new people... https://constituencyfinder.digiminster.com

June 7 The Times - 'Unwell' Abbott caught out after turning down Womans Hour debate

For weeks now I've been suggesting Diane Abbott was unwell, and that her faltering TV interviews were a result of this. Having been told she's ill, the right wing press has now leapt on her because they got footage of her travelling home and talking on a phone. Their argument seems to be you can't be that ill if you have the energy to get on a train and hold a phone to your ear. Enough with the bullying. (God, imagine how much worse the bullying would be if she were female or black).

June 7 - V for Vendetta

Anyone fearful for the future after tomorrow's election might care to remember these words of doom and woe. "It’s 1988 now. Margaret Thatcher is entering her third term of office and talking confidently of an unbroken Conservative leadership well into the next century. My youngest daughter is seven and the tabloid press are circulating the idea of concentration camps for persons with AIDS. The new riot police wear black visors, as do their horses, and their vans have rotating video cameras mounted on top. The government has expressed a desire to eradicate homosexuality, even as an abstract concept, and one can only speculate as to which minority will be the next legislated against. I’m thinking of taking my family and getting out of this country soon, sometime over the next couple of years. It’s cold and it’s mean-spirited and I don’t like it here anymore." - Alan Moore, the preface to V For Vendetta.

(Spoiler alert: the 90s didn't turn out all that bad.)

Gloaty McGloatface - my Election Predictions revisited

So, how did my election predictions from April 18th pan out? I predicted, purely off the top of my head:

Conservative 306 (down 24)
Labour 240 (up 8, inc seats in Scotland)
Lib Dem 36 (up 28, inc seats in Scotland)
UKIP 0 (as is)
SNP 50 (down 6)
Greens 2 (up 1, gaining a Bristol seat)

I also predicted Jeremy Corbyn wouldn't resign, and that Theresa May would form a minority administration not a coalition. Here, trawled from the Facebook archive, are some of the comments that were made on the day.

Gordon Rennie I like how you think Labour will gain seats, when their poll numbers suggest they're an electoral basket case at present.

Tim Read I would love something like this to be true, but I am not hopeful.

Clive Greenwood Nope I predict an overall majority for Tories, Labour will be a wipeout and Corbyn will be forced out- Momentum will be expelled and join with the SWP and pester Saturday morning shoppers to sign petitions for years, LibDems claw a few seats back UKIP ...See More

Steve Bright Labour in Scotland, once THE party, is now deader than a dodo. I see no signs of resurrection under Kezia. The Libdems have one MP and he should have resigned after the last General Election. The one Tory is about as popular as herpes. Libdems do not represent the only Remain party in Scotland - the SNP is the only good bet for that. Walkover!

Jools Constant There will be major protest votes against TM and I see major gains for lab & Lib Dem's with no overall majority for anyone.

Alan Cowsill If only... can't see labours vote improving under Corbyn as a lot of remainders will be switching. The Tory remainers will be interesting.... unfortunately I think may will win by a landslide. The best I can hope for is a resurgent lib dem pact with labour

Rupert Wainwright No way could we LibDems ally with Labour. Labour were collectivist, misogynist traditional racists in the 80s when I first got involved and seem all too prone to go back to tradition now. LibDems are mostly more pro individual freedom and anti-collectivist, than anti-Tory, even if the traditional left has now caught up on more enlightened social attitudes.

Austin Flynn · Friends with Steve Bright
I think Labour under Jeremy will do better than predicted. The SNP appear to be turning into a parochial party, frightened to go for the jugular and concentrating on attacking Labour, which, in itself is funny as they do not appear to appreciate that the Tories are the villains. Strange.

Finlay McAllister I'm torn. I support Corbyn and believe that his wider support has been grossly underestimated, but am sceptical of the either/or Momentum argument - guess I'll vote 'tactically' as I have in most elections, despite the slap in the face I got last time but one :/

Cloodleff Choodlepmoodlen You're probably right, although on those numbers, a three way Lab/SNP/LD coalition wouldn't be impossible.

Allan Toombs · Friends with John Freeman and 2 others
I expect Labour to lose 10-20 seats, primarily to Lib Dems but a few to the Conservatives. Is it also possible that some of the dissenting voices in the Tory party will be replaced with candidates who are enthusiastic Brexiters?

And the actual result? Turns out I was way closer to the mark than almost anyone else thought (Jools Constant got the result closer than anyone).

At time of writing the result is:

Conservative 318 (I said 306)
Labour 261 (I said 240)
Lib Dem 12 (I said 36)
UKIP 0 (spot on)
SNP 35 (I said 50)
Greens 1 (I said 2)

So my optimistic guess underestimated Labour's success, and also underestimated the SNP's fall from grace. Meanwhile the poor old Lib Dems were my worst guess. Nick Clegg's lost his seat and their big bounce back may have to wait quite a while. 

Allow me, if you will, a wee gloat.  

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