Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Posts tagged “Frankie Boyle

Diary Of An Anti-Tory Protestor – Part 3

Margaret Thatcher Goes To Hell, 8th April 2013

Thatcher Maggiedeth

Margaret Thatcher died unexpectedly peacefully, at the age of 87.  I found out about it from a friend who told me succinctly that “Thatcher is dead.” As far as I am aware, Thatcher was dead to Scotland decades ago.

Another of my friends alerted me that “Thatcher has only been in Hell twenty minutes, and already she has shut down three of the furnaces.”

Some of you will remember where you were when you heard the news. I remember where I wasn’t. I wasn’t in George Square, at the impromptu “Death Party.”

This was due to a prior commitment, or rather two (I went to a comedy club in the evening, letting Facebook know that: If you were thinking “I’m only going to Improv Wars at The Stand in Glasgow when Thatcher dies” then TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT.) Otherwise I would have been there with everyone else. I was always taught that you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, and it gives me no pleasure to witness ugly scenes of others revelling in a death, but while I don’t condone it I also don’t condemn it. Had I been there, it would have been to publicise my contempt for the Tory Party and for Thatcherism, rather than to rejoice in the passing of a wee old woman I never met. Nevertheless, I am glad that there was a small gathering and a demonstration of how reviled she was in Scotland.

The parties were roundly condemned by the reprehensible, war-mongering, toadying Tony Blair – whose leadership of New Labour is acknowledged to have broadly perpetuated Thatcherism.

thatcher - my further fb jokes

My own memories of Thatcher are inextricably linked to my childhood; of constantly seeing this cold and heartless woman on the television, and being vaguely aware of her policies. I recall the point when, in the early 1980s, they stopped giving us free cartons of milk at school. Whether this was the residual impact of her infamous “snatcher” actions, or down to various other measures, I cannot now say. I just remember that they started charging us for it, and recall the price gradually increasing.

On that note, a friend went into the nearest pub when the news broke, and asked for a “celebratory post-Thatcher glass of milk.” The barman duly poured it, and said “Since she’s gone, I can just give you this free.” He did.

I grew up in a town near to Ravenscraig – the steelworks that was shut down after the Tory privatisation of British Steel – and, without being at an age of full comprehension, I still personally knew of people who lost jobs and livelihoods as a result. Many of the surrounding communities were irreversibly destroyed. When I was sixteen or seventeen, and increasing in awareness, I discovered punk rock – the soundtrack to a previous generation of disaffected youth. On a Friday night, I religiously watched repeats of “The Young Ones” and its contemporary, one of the finest satirical sketch shows ever aired, “Not The Nine O’Clock News.” I can still quote vast swathes of the latter. These served to corroborate my view of Thatcher as a distant figure who sorely lacked compassion, heading up an inherently prejudiced party. It is, I believe, a mutual lack of compassion that has led to these “Death Parties.” Why should we care about someone who singularly failed to care about us?

thatcher greg hemphill tweet

I won’t mourn her passing, and I am sickened by the eulogising that has gone on since her death. Whoever invented rose-tinted spectacles has been doing a roaring trade this past week. There has been indignation that many of those partying “were not even born when she was ousted from power.” This is one of the weakest arguments I have yet heard, as if none of her legislation, policies, and leadership continue to affect (and disaffect) the people of today. Her legacy is well documented. At the risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, but by way of extreme example, I wasn’t born when Hitler was around – but it doesn’t take much study (or more than a passing brush with the collective knowledge) to know that he was not a particularly nice person. Thatcher does not strike me as having been a particularly nice person. She permanently blighted lives. Regardless of age, that makes her, and her death, relevant to us all.

Thatcher Frankie quote

Rather than celebrate her demise, it seems more potent to me that we use this as a stepping stone to build encouragement for action against the continuing, incredibly damaging, Tory regime. Ding dong, the witch may be dead. But the dead Tory is dead; it is the living ones we need to fight.

On Wednesday 17th April, the government will spunk between eight and ten million pounds on giving her a send-off unrivalled (at least by the attendance of the Queen) since Churchill died. This is the government that tells us we need to cut back as there is no public money available for such basic amenities as housing, health, or alleviating the lives of the disabled. This stunning hypocrisy would be breathtaking, if it were not to be expected from these brazen, self-serving millionaires. Naturally, they will divert funds to see off one of their own. They were already able to claim back nearly £4000 in expenses just for turning up at Parliament during the Easter recess to say nice things about her.

Thatcher Loach quote

During that tribute session, Glenda Jackson MP was the only one who said anything worth listening to, the one to stand up and decry Thatcher for her destruction of working men’s lives and communities.


On Wednesday 17th April, at 5pm, I will be in Glasgow’s George Square. There is a mass protest planned at this vile misuse of money – in memory of her thousands of victims, but also a visible public demonstration against Thatcher, against Thatcherism, and against the sheer bloody-minded vindictiveness of an increasingly aloof Tory government. This time, I have deliberately made no other plans. I will be there.

I don’t care about this dead woman. I care about the country I live in, I care about the fundamental tenets of democracy and society, and I care about the steady undermining of a welfare state that was long- and hard-fought for. If you care too, then I hope to see you there.


thatcher - my fb jokes



If You’re Taking Offence, Take O-Gate As Well.

I cannot be fucked with people who “take offence” or “find that offensive.” Everything has the potential to offend. Everything. Offence is taken, it is not given.

Frankie Boyle says that what he finds offensive is banality. I find it offensive that more people vote for television shows than vote in elections. Who cares? I can deal with it without greeting to the national press or starting a lobby group. I don’t hold the same reverence for Stephen Fry as the rest of the nation, but he does occasionally say some important things.

The true absurdity of “offence” was highlighted to me some years ago, on the back of this Irn Bru advert:


The advert received seventeen complaints because of the final scene, where the woman is shown shaving. It was feared that this may cause offence to transgender people. Whether it was actually transgender people who complained, or merely goody-two-shoes acting on their behalf and without their approval was not made clear.

I remember questioning it at the time. If seventeen negative comments can get something banned, does that mean that eighteen positive ones can get the same thing reinstated? That would demonstrate that more people like it than don’t.

That is the fundamental nature of my hatred of this culture. That a handful of people can ruin something for the rest of us, just because they are not equipped to deal with things internally. As Fry says, being offended is essentially a whine.

There was the controversy, too, when Frankie Boyle upset the parents of someone with Down’s Syndrome. As I believe he said at the time, people laugh at the things that don’t affect them, which are (in his case) no less abhorrent than the other jokes he makes. They just chose to be offended by the one that related to them, rather than by the AIDS and cancer jokes. There’s an intelligent article on it here.

The final word on this is a quote that I got from the Father Ted scripts book. Somebody had complained to Channel 4 about an episode where Father Jack refers to rabbits as “hairy Japanese bastards.” As descriptions go, it is fully in keeping with the nonsensical, whimsical world they created. I think I read the quote sometime in 1998 0r 1999. It summed up what I felt at the time, and something that I have come to firmly believe.

“You can never underestimate the desire some people have to be offended.”
– Graham Linehan

If you do feel offended by something that you see on TV, do remember that there is an ‘off’ switch. Try reaching for it.


Dubious Claims To Fame – 12

In my capacity as a stand-up comedian – wait, I’m going to rephrase that. During the prolonged period in which I’ve stepped on stages with some regularity and attempted to make people laugh, with wildly varying degrees of success, I’ve met a few talented individuals. The scene is so small, relatively, that it doesn’t take long before you are on bills alongside winners of national competitions, people who write for household names, and folk who have appeared in television pilots and sitcoms. Occasionally, depending where you are playing and how things pan out, you can find yourself on the same stage as nationally-renowned comedians.

I was booked to do four gigs in the space of three days last year – a brand new set as a guest in a sketch troupe, compering a music gig, a set in a local pub, and then a spot at Glasgow’s famous comedy club, The Stand. The last two were on the same night, and I left one gig to go and immediately do another. I keep a blog about my experiences of gigs, and documented that last one here.

I got to the venue, flustered and less prepared than my previous appearances there, and scanned the running order to see when I was due on. I always read the running order to see who I know, and have my favourite acts and people that I enjoy seeing perform. This was no different, and I read down the list to see who I had missed and who was on in the same half as me – “I like him, he’s good, there’s me, and then – oh, Frankie Boyle.”

Frankie Boyle had been making regular appearances at the club for a few weeks, trying out new material for his final tour, and sometimes headlined. This particular night, he was just slotted in with all of the other acts – and that is how he ended up following me onto the stage. As it happened, I had a good gig that night, but the pressure was already off – however good or bad I might be, it wasn’t me that the audience would remember.

I doubt he listened to any of my set – at most, he might have listened to the laugh rate – but from the very little I spoke to him beforehand he came across as very grounded and approachable. I don’t always agree with his material,  or the targets he attacks, but I’m glad he does what he does and defends himself rather than just apologise.