Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The Joy of Six 1069

Chris Grey discusses what the Conservative leadership contest tells us about Brexit: "There’s a dated feeling to the entire contest, especially in the constant invocations of Margaret Thatcher, perhaps reflecting the age and political reference points of the selectorate that will choose the next Prime Minister. It’s reminiscent of the way Conservatives still argue about whether Thatcher would or would not have supported Brexit, still vying for the imprimatur of the Iron Lady, or perhaps just for mummy's approval."

Alona Ferber dissects Liz Truss's clumsy attempt to win the votes of Jewish Tory members.

"While celebrities like Elvis Presley legitimized the vaccine in the eyes of a previously sceptical public, a few fervent anti-vaxxers rose to prominence, some using the same combination of fear mongering, pseudoscientific speculation, and conspiratorial thinking common to the smallpox era – and common, once again, in the time of COVID-19." Josh Jones finds Jonas Salk and his polio vaccine were more controversial than we've come to believe.

"The apology offered in anger or frustration will often condemn the other person. The classic example of this is the apology that says, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” This is not an apology, but a condemnation." Ade Mullen on what happens when institutions try to apologise and how they could do it better.

"As the rain turned to sleet it was soon evident this couldn’t go on much longer. Sparks were flying from the electrical instruments and equipment. Manfred Mann were waiting to go on but they never made it. The plug was pulled." ITV News looks back 50 years to Krumlin - Yorkshire's answer to Woodstock.

Marcus Liddell explores Heathrow's pre-industrial hinterland.

A walk to the source of the River Lea

 From John Rogers' blurb on YouTube:

Our hike into the ancient history of Britain starts at Harlington in Bedfordshire and picks up the John Bunyan trail to the Icknield Way which then takes us through glorious countryside around the Sundon Hills to Sharpenhoe Clappers. 

We then head south for the outskirts of Luton and the source of the River Lea at Leagrave near the Neolithic henge monument at Waulud’s Bank, believed to be around 5000 years old.

John has a Patreon account to support his videos and blogs at The Lost Byway.

Monday, August 15, 2022

My MP wants to turn Britain into "the grammar school of the world"

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I think I've found the most Tory tweet ever sent.

And it was sent by my MP - Neil O'Brien, the Conservative MP for Harborough - as part of a thread promoting an article calling for large cuts in immigration he has written for Conservative Home.

His argument is that the government must do this because voters thought that's what they had voted for in the European Union referendum.

Well, some did, but the arguments used to win the referendum were so varied and so contradictory that it's impossible to satisfy everyone who voted Leave.

O'Brien, for instance, is concerned that immigration from the EU had been replaced by immigration from further afield.

But this is what many people arguing for Leave said they wanted. I can remember being told that it was racist to favour immigrants from the EU.

Bangladeshi restaurant owners were targeted by the Leave side and told that if Britain voted Leave then they would find it easier to obtain visas for chefs trained in Bangladesh.

I'll leave others to debate the racial politics of O'Brien's article. What interests me most here is the assumption that the world's brightest and best will want to come to his global grammar school.

People who can choose where they work will go for countries where their rights are protected, where the legal system is independent from the government and where the rivers are not full of sewage.

I fear the brightest pupils will not choose a school with an old-fashioned curriculum, petty uniform regulations and overmighty prefects.

The Harborough Mail's only journalist retires


The journalist's trade website Hold the Front Page has an article on Red Williams, whose ability to inject drama into the Harborough Mail's reporting will be familiar to readers, as he retires.

What he says reveals something sad about the Harborough Mail and about local newspapers in general:

Via the Stamford Mercury, I jumped in to become the Harborough Mail’s reporter in August 2019.

Owner Johnston Press – now National World – had shut the historic weekly’s much-loved town centre HQ in 2012.

And the paper, founded in 1854, had seen better days after being effectively run remotely for eight months.

Working at home as a freelance three days a week, I pulled out all the stops to reconnect with the thriving community here. ...

It’s insane that as a part-time reporter I was trying to replicate what a fully-staffed up team had been doing.

As stalwart newspaper freelances everywhere will know, I’ve forked out for my own notebooks and pens as well as paying for my mobile and broadband.

I was paid less per day than I was earning shifting on a Saturday at the News of the World in London in 1989 – some 33 years ago!

He's right. The editor of the Harborough Mail was a considerable figure in town and would hold court in the Peacock (now Pizza Express), where I worked as a barman one student summer.

For some years now - and it's clearly not the fault of Red or anyone who's worked on the Mail in that period - the local community radio station Harborough FM has provided a better news service precisely because it has a base in the town.

I fear for the future of the Harborough Mail and other local newspapers, which appear locked into a downward spiral of cutting costs and providing a poorer product.

Still, Red is proud of breaking the story of The Great Market Harborough Bungalow Mystery.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Seekers: Cloudy

As I wrote when paying tribute to Judith Durham, her bandmate from The Seekers, Bruce Woodley, wrote three songs with Paul Simon. (Woodley is on the right of the group as you look at the thumbnail above.)

One of them, Red Rubber Ball, reached number 2 in the US singles chart when recorded by The Cyrkle. That band also recorded Simon and Woodley's I Wish You Could Be Here.

Their third collaboration was Cloudy, which appeared on the Simon and Garfunkel album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, where it was credited to Paul Simon alone.

I love Paul Simon's music more than is decent, but it wasn't a wholly a surprise to read that this had happened.

All three Simon and Woodley compositions were recorded by The Seekers, and here is their take on Cloudy.

If I have a criticism, it's that this version isn't cloudy at all. It's pure sunshine - a reminder of how good Judith Durham's voice was and how good the male members of the group were as instrumentalists and close harmony singers.

The tinkly line on the piano (if that is what is being used) was probably played by Tom Springfield, who had much to do with the group's success as a songwriter and mentor. (His own folk-to-pop group The Springfields were the first British group to have a top 20 hit in the US,)

In writing this I came across two great facts about Tom Springfield (who was Dusty's brother):

  • His baptismal name was Dionysius O'Brien
  • Like Alan Bennett, Dennis Potter and Michael Frayn, he was a graduate of the Russian course at the Joint Services School for Linguists.

And that's where he came across the Russian folk tune that he turned into The Seekers' best-selling single, The Carnival is Over.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

The danger of conspiracy theories

James Meek wrote in the London Review of Books (22 October 2020):

The danger of conspiracy theories is not that they promote action to tear down society but that they delegitimise, distract and divert: they divert large numbers of people from engaging in political action, leaving the field clear for the cynical, the greedy and the violently intolerant. 

They distract them from questioning authority about society’s real problems by promoting a gory soap opera as if it were real and the result of "research". And they delegitimise the idea that institutions – courts, parliaments, the education system, the salaried media - can be anything other than malign.

Remembering Stephen Lewis - Blakey off of On the Buses

This video is a short tribute to Stephen Lewis - Blakey in On the Buses - who died seven years ago today.

As he says, Blakey was the only character who cared about the passengers. To the modern viewer, this tends to make him the hero of the series. Not bad for someone who had just one line in the first episode.

The links between ITV comedy and Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at Stratford East deserve more study. 

Stephen Lewis is credited as the writer of the 1963 film Sparrows Can't Sing, which grew out of a play produced there by Littlewood.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Local Conservatives expect to lose Cheltenham to the Lib Dems


Peter Walker, the Guardian's political correspondent, saw more of Cheltenham yesterday than the just the Conservatives' leadership hustings. What he found will encourage the local Liberal Democrats:

In 2019, the incumbent Tory MP, the former solicitor general Alex Chalk, held off the Liberal Democrats by just 981 votes, and one local Conservative conceded they expect to lose the seat by 5,000-plus votes next time.

And that's not all:

Another Tory activist said that while the 500 or so local party members who will help choose the next PM are receptive to talk of tax cuts, culture wars and curbs on immigration, most voters feel differently.

"My guess is Truss is ahead here, though only slightly," they said. "But I think we’re in big trouble whoever takes over. It’s all feeling very 1997 - death by a thousand cuts."

Nor is that all:

David Bartlett, a 49-year-old banker who describes himself as “a massive swing voter – I’ve voted Labour, Lib Dem, Tory and Green” – says he has now turned permanently from the Conservatives. He said: “I was so appalled by Boris Johnson I’ve even stepped back from following the leadership contest.”

I have, you may not be surprised to hear, used the best quotes for us. And you might say that if we can't gain Cheltenham next time then we aren't going to gain many seats at all. Still, this is good news.

What worries me more is the state of Labour, because they are going to have to make substantial gains at the next election if the Tories are to be defeated.

In 1997 Labour had a popular leader, was confident and had the skeleton of an impressive cabinet in place and .

None of this is true of Labour today and, unimpressive as I find Liz Truss, we cannot rely on the Conservatives continuing to sabotage their own chances for another two years.

Charles Dickens on Joan of Arc

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With Joan of Arc is in the news today I thought I would take a look at how Charles Dickens treated her in his A Child's History of England.

It should not surprise me, but I am pleased to find that he is wonderfully compassionate, has more insight into mental health than some modern professionals and is not jingoist in the slightest:

It was natural in one so young to hold to life. To save her life, she signed a declaration prepared for her - signed it with a cross, for she couldn’t write - that all her visions and Voices had come from the Devil. Upon her recanting the past, and protesting that she would never wear a man’s dress in future, she was condemned to imprisonment for life, ‘on the bread of sorrow and the water of affliction.’

But, on the bread of sorrow and the water of affliction, the visions and the Voices soon returned. It was quite natural that they should do so, for that kind of disease is much aggravated by fasting, loneliness, and anxiety of mind. It was not only got out of Joan that she considered herself inspired again, but, she was taken in a man’s dress, which had been left - to entrap her - in her prison, and which she put on, in her solitude; perhaps, in remembrance of her past glories, perhaps, because the imaginary Voices told her. 

For this relapse into the sorcery and heresy and anything else you like, she was sentenced to be burnt to death. And, in the market-place of Rouen, in the hideous dress which the monks had invented for such spectacles; with priests and bishops sitting in a gallery looking on, though some had the Christian grace to go away, unable to endure the infamous scene; this shrieking girl - last seen amidst the smoke and fire, holding a crucifix between her hands; last heard, calling upon Christ - was burnt to ashes. They threw her ashes into the river Seine; but they will rise against her murderers on the last day.

From the moment of her capture, neither the French King nor one single man in all his court raised a finger to save her. It is no defence of them that they may have never really believed in her, or that they may have won her victories by their skill and bravery. The more they pretended to believe in her, the more they had caused her to believe in herself; and she had ever been true to them, ever brave, ever nobly devoted. But, it is no wonder, that they, who were in all things false to themselves, false to one another, false to their country, false to Heaven, false to Earth, should be monsters of ingratitude and treachery to a helpless peasant girl.

In the picturesque old town of Rouen, where weeds and grass grow high on the cathedral towers, and the venerable Norman streets are still warm in the blessed sunlight though the monkish fires that once gleamed horribly upon them have long grown cold, there is a statue of Joan of Arc, in the scene of her last agony, the square to which she has given its present name. I know some statues of modern times - even in the World’s metropolis, I think - which commemorate less constancy, less earnestness, smaller claims upon the world’s attention, and much greater impostors.

To think that for much of the 20th century the most celebrated critics told us we should not bother with Dickens!

I was led to writing this post when I saw a letter in the London Review of Books taking a contributor to task for calling Henry VIII "Victorian England's hero". The writer of the letter pointed out that Dickens had called Henry 

a most intolerable ruffian, a disgrace to human nature and a blot of blood and grease upon the History of England.

Dickens had a more penetrating intellect than most of his contemporaries, but it's fair to say that the Victorians were far less Victorian than we moderns think. 

We'll have to find someone else to blame for our unhealthy obsession with Henry,

Liz Truss pledges to beat the Lib Dems in Cheltenham, but doesn't know which county it's in

Yesterday's Conservative leadership hustings took place in the plum Liberal Democrat target seat of Cheltenham.

During it, Liz Truss pledged she would ensure the Lib Dems did not take the constituency back. (We held it from 1992 to 2010.)

She may have trouble keeping her promise, because she appears to think the town is in Derbyshire. Just watch the video.

Incidentally, she could have saved herself time and embarrassment by dropping that prefabricated answer.

Because it became clear that her honest reponse to any question about what she would do to give immediate help to people hit with colossal fuel bills is "Nothing."

The Joy of Six 1068

"It’s subversive of constitutional democracy. It’s peddled by wealthy and privileged people to discredit reasoned government and distract the disadvantaged. Populism is a powerful poison, with the potential to kill off liberal democracy." William Wallace says we need to work harder to dispel the right-wing myth that Britain has a "liberal elite".

"Outsourcing has ... broken the link between care and local communities, with thousands of children in care sent to live many miles from their families and friends because no local homes are available. Companies maximise returns by locating their business where homes are cheapest - not where children need them." Martin Barrow on the many dangers of allowing private companies to look after children in public care.

Emma John finds that the South Asian Cricket Academy has already shown why it was needed: "The Academy was born out of a conversation between Kabir Ali, the former England all-rounder, and his club teammate Tom Brown, the Birmingham City University researcher whose work revealed that while British Asians make up 30% of the recreational game in England, they constitute only 5% of professional cricketers."

East West Rail, the project to restore direct services between Oxford to Cambridge, is under threat, reports Greg Pitcher.

"The Third Policeman is the perfect philosophical novel and you must read it," says Clare Moriarty.

A London Inheritance tales us on a journey into the city's past: "If you walk past 193 and 195 King’s Cross Road, take a detour into St. Chad’s Place. Walk up to Gray’s Inn Road and you will cross the River Fleet, the original Metropolitan Railway and the site of St. Chad’s Well – not bad for a couple of minutes walk. And with some imagination, perhaps you will also see the waters of St. Chad’s Well still running beneath a small, four hole grating."

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Can the lawsuits against Alex Jones help turn the tide of disinformation?

For years Alex Jones spread the lie that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, were a government hoax and the victims' families were paid actors.

This led to online harassment and death threats for the parents of children who died at Sandy Hook.

Last week in Austin, Texas, a jury ordered Jones to pay $4.1m in compensatory damages and $45.2m in punitive damages to the parents of Jesse Lewis, a six-year-old boy killed in the shooting.

Interviewed for Democracy Now, Elizabeth Williamson of the New York Times says:

The reason why the families have brought this suit, [is] that they feel like Sandy Hook - and I agree, and that’s what I wrote in my book - that this was a foundational moment in this decade-long descent into disinformation and false narratives that our society is undergoing. And the families are raising a red flag, that, you know, this is not only impacting us, this is eroding the foundation of our democracy.

You can listen to the interview above or read a transcript at Democracy Now.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Another glimpse of my own personal Thirties poet W.T. Nettlefold

A search of the British Newspaper Archive finds W.T. Nettlefold at a meeting the London Branch of the Left Book Club Poetry Group held in Hampstead in the first week of June 1939.

Bill Nettlefold was a neighbour of my mother's aunt and cousin in Bexleyheath and turned out to have been a minor poet in the 1930s. I blogged about meeting him when I was 17 - think of it as my homage to Hazlitt's My First Acquaintance with Poets.

There were three reading at that 1939 meeting and the other two - Paul Potts and Randall Swingler - were both names in their day.

But Hampstead News liked our man best.

An electrician, who matured into a poet only two years ago, "Bill" Nettlefold was the simplest writer and for that reason he has a direct appeal to the "working classes".

"Combustion" and "Analogy" showed the influence of his industrial environment. "Spring also Stirs," was a moving and curious piece, with market qualities. It has a peculiar thread of unity; "Remembrance Day" is a bitter, vivid verse.

Nettlefold does turn up in books on the period from time to time. The page is not available online, but he gets a mention in Marina MacKay's chapter on Total War in A History of 1930s British Literature, which was edited by Benjamin Kohlmann and Matthew Taunton and published by Cambridge University Press in 2019.

What we can see is the first subheading in MacKay's chapter, "Purchase the Poppies while You May": the Persistence of the Great War," which includes a quotation from Nettlefold's Remembrance Day. 

You can find the full poem in a comment on my post about meeting Bill Nettlefold.

If there is to be a Nettlefold revival, I am up for it.

Nick Clegg, Roe v. Wade, Facebook, privacy... and Lord Bonkers


Remember when Nick Clegg told us he would defy the law and refuse to register for an identity card? (It was during a Lib Dem leadership election, if that helps narrow it down.)

I thought of him when I read this Guardian story:

When local Nebraska police came knocking in June – before Roe v Wade was officially overturned – Facebook handed the user data of a mother and daughter facing criminal charges for allegedly carrying out an illegal abortion. 

Private messages between the two discussing how to obtain abortion pills were given to police by Facebook, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. The 17-year-old, reports say, was more than 20 weeks pregnant. 

In Nebraska, abortions are banned after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The teenager is now being tried as an adult.

Court documents filed in June and made public on Tuesday show how tech companies including Facebook contribute to criminal prosecutions of abortion cases. 

I've never liked Facebook. I helped run an account at work, but only had a personal account for a few days before I deleted it. I once bought a book on Facebook, and that made me dislike it even more.

Facebook reminds me of the days when corporate social media was a new thing and training courses told you that your ideas about privacy were old fashioned. Young people didn't care about privacy at all: they put their whole lives online.

That bright-eyed approach didn't last long in the real world, but somehow it remains hard-wired into Facebook. Perhaps it's because of its origin in universities. There, making new friends and showing that you have made them, is all.

The Guardian quotes unnamed experts who say this shocking case shows the importance of encryption and minimising the amount of data Facebook stores on its users.

Those experts are right.

As to Nick Clegg and Facebook, I think Lord Bonkers got it right too:

Who should I bump into in London today but our own Nick Clegg? Curious to know what he is doing with himself these days, I treat him to lunch at one of my clubs.

He turns out to be full of his new job, telling me how Satan’s chief operating officer Mephistopheles called him while he was walking in the Alps last summer and invited him to fly to Hell to meet Satan himself. "I said to them, if you're prepared to let me into the inner circle, in the black box, and give me real authority, then I'm interested."

Clegg describes Satan to me as "a shy guy" and "thoughtful", before adding: "The thing that persuaded me to do it is Satan and  Mephistopheles asking the right questions for the right reasons - about things like the barrier between free speech and prohibited content, wellbeing of children, integrity of elections, AI and giving people control over their data."

Let us put churlish thoughts aside and hope that Clegg can do for Satan what he did for the Liberal Democrats.

Former Labour mayor and parliamentary candidate for Shrewsbury joins the Lib Dems


Jon Tandy, a former Labour mayor of Shrewsbury and Labour parliamentary candidate for Shrewsbury and Atcham, has joined the Liberal Democrats.

He told Shropshire Live:

"I'm born and bred in Shrewsbury, I love this town. The Liberal Democrats are providing the community leadership that we need to keep making Shrewsbury a better place to live for everyone. They really care about our town, and I’m going to be backing the Lib Dems all the way to win votes and seats from both the Tories and Labour."

His decision is rooted in disquiet at the left's control of Labour in Shrewsbury, but there is plenty about the Shropshire Lib Dems to attract him at the moment:

Councillor Alex Wagner welcomed Jon Tandy to the party at a meeting in Harlescott yesterday. He said: 

"Having someone with Jon’s experience and talent decide to join the Liberal Democrats is a huge boost to us locally. It is a real honour to welcome him to the party, and I cannot wait to see what he has in store next.

"Jon’s campaigning record is second to none, and I know he’s already getting stuck in, working hard and holding local leadership to account in his local community in Harlescott."

Paul Marsden, who gained Shrewsbury and Atcham for Labour in 1997 and held it in 2001, crossed the floor later that year to sit with the Lib Dems. He remained on our benches until he retired from the Commons in 2005.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Camden Road: Camden's other station

Jago Hazzard chooses Camden Road as his favourite London Overground station. You'll find it on the North London Line and apparently it's a good way of getting to Camden Market without running into huge crowds at the tube station.

When I lived in Kew back in the early 1980s, I brought my bike down to St Pancras on the train from Market Harborough. From there cycled the mile or so north to Camden Road. so I could take it on a North London Line train from there to Kew Gardens.

Anyway, you can support Jago's videos via his Patreon page.

The Joy of Six 1067

"One of the most startling statistics in the report is that there are now eight million younger workers who have never experienced an economy that delivers a rising standard of living through wages alone." William Davies reviews Stagnation Nation, a new report from the Resolution Foundation.

For the next six months, 3300 workers in the UK will work just four days a week. This experiment has captured media and public attention as a record 70 companies voluntarily made the promise of working less a reality for their workforce. Robert Magowan looks at the potential broader social impacts of the trial on society and how campaigners are hoping to seize the opportunity to transform the norms that rule our working lives.

Zoƫ Heller on some new feminist considerations of masculinity.

"The leaked version of the Future Tours programme which reached us last month makes for concerning reading. It provides us with endless contests between the big three of the international game, England, India and Australia, whilst marginalising the rest of the Test playing nations even further than they currently are." Billy Crawford says cricket is destroying itself from within.

"They don't have wolves at London Zoo these days. Were Richard E Grant to perform the 'What piece of work is a man?' monologue in Regent's Park today, it would be to an audience of giant anteaters." Richard Luck finds that Withnail and I has a lot to say about Brexit Britain.

Visit Leicester tells us that more than 175 colourful panels have been installed across the city centre and suburbs to give residents and visitors a glimpse into the hidden histories of Leicester.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Lib Dems get tough with privatised utilities


There are two news stories about the Liberal Democrats and the privatised utilities today.

BBC News reports that we have:

called for October's expected energy price cap rise to be scrapped, with the cost covered by a windfall tax on energy company profits.

Experts expect the energy price cap - the maximum amount suppliers can charge their customers in England, Scotland and Wales - to hit £3,615.

The average bill was £1,400 a year in October 2021.

And the Guardian says:

Water company bosses should be banned from giving themselves bonuses until they fix their leaky pipes, the Liberal Democrats have demanded.

New figures uncovered by the party found that England’s water and sewage company bosses have awarded themselves about £27m in bonuses over the past two years.

Analysis of Companies House records by the party found that executives at England’s water and sewage companies were paid £48m in 2020 and 2021, including £27.6m in bonuses, benefits and incentives.

This is despite reports that they allow 2.4bn litres of water to be leaked in England every day.

I'm pleased to see both these proposals. OFGEM has been ridiculously accommodating to the power companies - any idea that the point of privatisation was that those companies should bear the risks has long been forgotten.

And Ofwat has been no tougher with the water industry. If we hit directors where it hurts - in their pockets - then we may at last see some action on leaks.

We also need to get tough on the pollution of rivers. I suggest we threaten those same directors with prison sentences if they don't clean up their act.

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Watch Michael Sandel on the tyranny of merit

From the YouTube blurb:

What accounts for our polarized public life, and how can we begin to heal it? Political philosopher Michael Sandel offers a surprising answer: those who have flourished need to look in the mirror. 

He explores how "meritocratic hubris" leads many to believe their success is their own doing and to look down on those who haven't made it, provoking resentment and inflaming the divide between "winners" and "losers" in the new economy. 

Hear why we need to reconsider the meaning of success and recognize the role of luck in order to create a less rancorous, more generous civic life.

And here is perhaps the key paragraph of the talk (which I've split in two):

Encouraging people to go to college is a good thing. Broadening access for those who can't afford it is even better. But this is not a solution to inequality. 

We should focus less on arming people for meritocratic combat, and focus more on making life better for people who lack a diploma but who make essential contributions to our society.

Liz Truss's leadership campaign is being run from a Westminster house owned by a former private secretary to Enoch Powell

A couple of week's ago the Guardian took us Inside Team Truss.

The one interesting thing I learnt from this article - and thanks to the reader who pointed it out to me - is that Truss's campaign is being run from a Westminster townhouse owned by the Conservative peer Greville Howard, who was private secretary to Enoch Powell between 1968 and 1970.

Beyond that. it's largely gush. 

We're told of one team member:
"She’s as dry as a pancake but got a great policy head," said one Tory source.
And before we've finished wondering why this Tory source thinks a pancake is proverbially dry, we've been told that one of the two people directing "strategic communications" is a former media adviser to Prince Andrew.

But no political journalist is going to slag off the backroom staff of a possible future prime minister. Because these may well turn out to be, for years to come, the very people this journalist needs to take her calls.

Two weeks on, we know that Truss's campaign has been run in a harebrained manner unrivalled in modern times - unless it is by the campaign being fought by her rival Rishi Sunak.

The Mark Five: Baby What's Wrong

The blurb for this on YouTube says:

The old Jimmy Reed blues number vamped up by Scotland's Mark Five. At a time when the big London-based record companies ignored talent over the border, the lads protest-marched from Edinburgh to London which resulted in a Fontana signing. This one 45 sold so poorly they called it a day. Singer Manny Charlton eventually joined Scots rockers Nazareth.

That's one version of the story. I prefer the one I got from the Scotsman:

January 1963 ...

The Mark Five, featuring Manny Charlton who later plays in Nazareth, walk from Edinburgh to London, hitching a ride whenever photographers were not present. The walk is a publicity stunt to protest about the lack of record companies coming to Scotland to see Scottish bands, and a ploy to demand a record deal.

They are met in Market Harborough by a record company executive and offered a contract. The Mark Five release a version of the Isley Brothers' Tango but are soon dropped by the label.

It appears that Tango was the A-side and this was on the reverse. Anyway, it appears today as a tribute to Manny Charlton, who died last month. He enjoyed success with Nazareth in the 1970s.