FNA 4 Life, Baby

It’s easy to be sniffy and dismissive of the arts. I mean my company is FNA for goodness sake, but it’s not all ponces making pretentious stuff that you need a degree in dadaism to understand. From pantomime to Pinter, from opera to Ozark, from Peaky Blinders to Mrs Brown’s Boys, and from Chernobyl to CBeebies – without regional theatre companies, indie film companies, comedy clubs, and useless degrees like media studies and drama – none of it would exist.

The arts and the creative industries are hugely important to the wellbeing of this country both culturally and economically and that’s before you get into the emotional benefits. All of the TV, boxsets and online content that got you through lockdown? That was created by artists – and they probably started out on a stage in a tiny theatre or tiny comedy club in a tiny town in the provinces.

Our arts are already suffering from a lack of diversity – not just from an ethnicity and gender point of view – but crucially from an economic perspective too. Where can working class writers, performers, directors and technicians learn their craft if this ecosystem is allowed to die? Their voices are already priced out of much of the industry because they cannot afford to live in London and/ or work an unpaid internship for a year.

Like the working men’s clubs circuit before it, once the stand up circuit goes – it’s gone and hundreds of jobs will be lost forever – but because it’s not a fish packing factory in Grimsby or a car plant in Sunderland nobody will care. Almost 78% of comedy venues say they will close next year.

£1.5 BILLION is a lot and it will save a few larger venues, but it’s chickenfeed when you look the size of our sector. The creative industries contribute more to the British economy than agriculture and fishing. Combined.

Small theatre and film companies, and comedy clubs – as well as much of the workforce in the creative industries has been left out of the majority of the support schemes the government has put in place to mitigate the Covid-19 crisis – we are trying to hang on as we realise our value in the ecosystem even if you don’t.

  • The stand up circuit is the training pool for comedy writers and sitcoms.
  • Regional theatres are the training pools the for the West End and for TV and film.
  • Independent films are the training pools for Hollywood films.

It’s very rare for a nobody with no training and no background whatsoever to get a film or TV role, because like in any business (and film is a business) the financiers are risk averse – they aren’t going to hire some bum off the street who hasn’t proven themselves on someone else’s dime first.

Don’t let the government and press convince you that the arts is just some high-falutin’ intellectual pursuit for rich people. Our voices – your voices – and stories, deserve to be heard – when the arts dies, where will the new Sam Fender or Sarah Millican come from? How will the new Jade Thirlwell, Joe McElderry, or Lost Voice Guy hone their craft in order to be discovered? Award winning actor Dave Johns, and perennial favourite Robson Green – both started out on stage in the North East before going on to light up your screens. Just like every ecosystem in nature – it’s all connected and it thrives on biodiversity.


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Cooking Rice

I must stress, this is how my Mum taught me to cook this and she was a Geordie so it might shock purists – but fuckem.

Use Tilda Basmati rice. It is way more expensive than other brands – but it is so worth it.

Allow 2 mugs of rice for 3-4 people.

First off pour the rice into a pan or dish and rinse it thoroughly – swishing it with your hand in water and then pouring the water off and repeat. About 6 times.

Then cover the rice in cold water and pour loads of salt on and leave it to soak for at least 45 mins.

Get a BIG heavy bottomed pan (with a lid that fits) and fill with boiling water (or cold water and bring to the boil – whatever floats yer boat).

Pour the salty soaking water off the rice then add the rice to the boiling water. Add salt. Bring back to boil, make sure you watch because it will boil over. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and also to release the starch.

This is the most tricky and crucial part – and it’s a bit trial and error I’m afraid. After about 5-7 minutes you need to test a grain. Yes 1 grain. Scoop it out and squeeze it between your thumb and index finger. It shouldn’t break (it’s underdone) and it shouldn’t squish completely (it’s overdone). Obviously it’s better to be early and keep testing than be late and have claggy rice. Thing is you’ll see it has expanded – so you’ll know when to start testing. Don’t forget to stir in between tests!

Once it’s passed the squish test, you need to strain it in a colander. Give it a little rinse (removes excess starch). Then stand colander on a plate and clean your heavy bottomed pan and dry it.

Now return the pan to a medium/low heat add loads of unsalted butter (about 50 grams) and a couple of tablespoons of your preferred flavourless cooking oil. Once the butter & oil mixture has melted add about a shot of boiling water, swirl it around to make sure it’s all mixed together. Then pour about half of it off into a jug or something and set it to one side.

Next it’s time to scoop the parboiled rice into the heavy bottomed pan – first covering the bottom (the oil and butter creates the tadigh). You should just be fluffing it in, creating a nice mound. Once it’s all in, drizzle the remainder of the oil/ butter/ water mix over the rice. Put the lid on and turn the gas down to about a quarter – even less – say the lowest plus 2 ticks.

Time it for 8 minutes and then turn down the heat to the lowest setting plus one tick and time it for further 7 minutes.

Finally get a clean tea towel and lie it down on a clean bit of bench near the cooker. Take the lid off the pan and place it into the centre of the tea towel. Wrap the lid up in the tea towel and then pick it up and place it back onto the pan. Turn the heat down to its very lowest setting. Time for 30 minutes.

That’s it. Remember to take all the rice out and the crispy tadigh which should be coating the bottom of the pan. If you leave it in the pan it’ll go soggy.

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The Children Nobody Cares About

See, what sometimes happens is the government makes cuts. Local authority services can’t (or sometimes won’t) provide the support these children and their families need – so the children get shipped to places like St Andrews. These places are often hundreds of miles away from family and friends. At a cost of £10,000 per week! Ostensibly it’s for treatment, but if the child is difficult – or has complex needs in the official jargon – they get locked up. In isolation. Sometimes for years. All because the care package broke down – aka the council refused to make up for the shortfall in a statutory care plan. Or health and social care professionals refused to consider the input of the child’s family – thinking they know better.

Of course the sane and rational among us think – how is spending £10,000 per week more cost effective than say £200 a month? And how is depriving someone of their liberty and pumping them with inappropriate medication treatment? It isn’t. But nobody gives a fuck because chances are these children are disabled.

Until they are in crisis they are seen as nothing more than an entry in a spreadsheet. An expense that can be cut. Until it can’t be cut anymore – so we use and accounting sleight of hand and shift it onto the NHS budget.

A family broken up, a child locked away, at massive expense – usually because of a tiny sum. Penny wise and pound foolish.

Pennywise. Just like the child eating clown in Stephen King’s It.

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The Secret – by Charles Bukowski

don’t worry, nobody has the

beautiful lady, not really, and

nobody has the strange and

hidden power, nobody is

exceptional or wonderful or

magic, they only seem to be

it’s all a trick, an in, a con,

don’t buy it, don’t believe it.

the world is packed with

billions of people whose lives

and deaths are useless and

when one of these jumps up

and the light of history shines

upon them, forget it, it’s not

what it seems, it’s just

another act to fool the fools


there are no strong men, there

are no beautiful women.

at least, you can die knowing


and you will have

the only possible


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This will be my last status on the EU Referendum.
Those of us who were REMAIN, and those of us who are progressives generally, NEED TO STOP TALKING DOWN to the other side, that sows division and there is nothing, nada, zip that those in power like more. UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL. What’s done is done. The people have spoken. The fact that most voted on what you consider spurious reasons is irrelevant. It’s a bit like script feedback, when lots of people identify a problem, it’s because there IS a problem. It may not be the problem they’ve spotted, but nonetheless shit’s not right. The UK has been doomed since Blair decided to invade Iraq against people’s wishes. That coupled with post 9/11 paranoia and the financial crash has seen people lose their faith in our system and every government since Major’s has blamed the EU for our problems. Personally I’m devastated by the OUT vote, but I really don’t see how giving people shit for voting the way they did will make it better, it will just breed more resentment between US when really it is a catastrophic failure of leadership that has led us to this point. My only hope, going forward, is that people continue to engage in the political process, use your vote, hold the Powers That Be to account.

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This started as a DM

I was away over the weekend and so I missed how much things escalated until reading Chris Hatton’s blog. Sorry for being oblivious to irony by DM’ing you when in the throes of an “argument” about transparency, but there comes a point when you must say fuckem.

Here’s the thing, on Saturday my most favourite athlete of all time passed away. Muhammad Ali. The Greatest. The series of photographs of 22 year old Cassius Clay standing over Liston is on the wall in the spare bedroom, a framed poster from the release of When We Were Kings hangs above the mantelpiece. He’s always been The Top Man to me. Always will be. Not just to me though, to all of us. But there’s a dirty little thing regarding Muhammad Ali that is never really discussed,

“Ali has been absorbed by the establishment as a legend — a harmless icon. There is barely a trace left of the controversial truth: There has never been an athlete more reviled by the mainstream press, more persecuted by the US government, or more defiantly beloved throughout the world than Muhammad Ali. There is now barely a mention of this Ali, who was the catalyst for bringing the issues of racism and war into professional sports.” 


How does this relate to the HOOHAH regarding Justice For LB and Mencrap?

Muhammad Ali only become accepted by The Establishment, by *THEM* when he could no longer speak. When he no longer had a voice. When he no longer had A VOICE. I don’t know about your Muhammad Ali, but my Muhammad Ali was a cocky black man who stuck two fingers up at The Establishment and said,

“I got nothing against no Viet Cong. No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger… Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?”

If Muhammad Ali was a 21st Century boxer he wouldn’t have allowed his medals to be stripped from him. He wouldn’t have stood up for his principles (if indeed he had any to begin with) and he wouldn’t have allowed the prime of his career to be destroyed in protest. He would have compromised or more likely he would have lawyered up.

Mencrap are the very model of a 21st Century organisation. They have allowed themselves to be co-opted by The Establishment, that is how they can justify having Stephen Crabb MP as a Patron (*only* of a branch doncha know) in DMs no less – some shit never washes off. And that is how they can have some crappy provision whilst attacking other organisations regarding crappy provision.  This is WHY CHANGE NEVER HAPPENS. Those who should be the Voice Of Change become subsumed by the system and can no longer effectively challenge it.

Elon Musk has  a very powerful phrase “going back to first principles”, when a project or a campaign is challenged and eroded (as happens over time) – do we compromise our position? And where?  Sometimes we MUST compromise our position, we’ll die without it – but, as campaigners, if we compromise our FIRST PRINCIPLES we might as well be dead.

Mencrap has completely compromised its first principles. It was founded by people like us, like Sara Ryan – parents of children with learning disability in order to give their our children a voice. I’ve never met Sara in real life and we actually only connected on Twitter just before Connor died. But Connor could have been my son, in some ways he is my son. He is our son.  Mencrap could’ve been founded by me and you as parents. Would you have allowed it to abandon its first principles? I wouldn’t. Muhammad Ali wouldn’t. You fight for what is right, and if you don’t – you’re either a sell out – or worse, a collaborator. And no amount of pink and purple branding will erase that.

All I know you is can’t be a rebel or a radical and beloved by The Establishment that you are opposing at the same time. Unless you lose your voice.  And just because you do good work in other areas, it doesn’t mean you can’t be criticised.




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Dear Online Site Owners

I get it, I really do. You NEED to make money. Content can’t be FREE – your writers, photographers, plagiarists and other content creators need paying. Fine. But if you use any old shitey ads (or adfarms or aggregators or whatever) then I will continue to use an Ad-Blocker or just not visit your site.

If your ads:

  • Cause your page to crash
  • Track me
  • Distract me from the content I want
  • Autoplay
  • Steal bandwidth

Please sort it out, you dickheads. You’re killing the Internet.

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The Seven Principles of Public Life


(as set out by the Nolan Committee)


Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of public interest.  They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family or their friends.


Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.


In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.


Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must subject themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.


Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all decisions and actions that they take.  They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands it.


Holders of public office have a duty to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects public interest.


Holders of public office should promote and support these principles by leadership and example.

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Crimes against disabled people


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