Seventh episode of my radio show Basement 43. Three weeks without one felt like a long time. Was a bit rusty when I got back to it but luckily I think it went ok. Drove the desk deftly and spoke fairly well I guess.

Always nice to get in that studio. Plus the combined effect of that environment and the influence of the two friends who were there puts me in a nice mood. The discussions we have keep me thoughtful and articulate for hours after the broadcast, which is nice. I find that, when occasionally something does go wrong or awkwardly, the best way to deal with it on-air is to laugh about it. This seems so simple but in practice its remarkably hard to achieve.

Listen here:

David and Tim are joined once again by the ever-eloquent Prithwiraj Ghosh to chew over a smorgasbord of exciting topics including Theresa May’s ‘snap-election’, Donald Trump’s foreign policy actions, the nature of football and others!

Music from Kendrick Lamar, Spector, Migos, Grizfolk, Kodaline, Desiigner and more.

The second appearance of lovely Prith, who always brings the show up into an environment of eloquence and polite discussion.


Had a fantastic but very busy week, hence I have not posted for a few days. So much to write about.

First of all, in the four or five days since visiting Salford Quays, I went to some tutorials and lectures:

As theoretical politics always will do, this one coincided with current affairs while it was going on:

Read something interesting on the economist (why is this happening?):

Visited the amazing Manchester Museum a couple of times:

Went for a night out at a club I like:

Finally recorded my interview with Peter Tatchell:

So pleased to finally have that on record. Have to edit it somehow because – interestingly, and unlike anyone else I’ve interviewed – Tatchell is one of those people with specific, pre-rolled remarks to make. After I said “Thank you very much” summarily, he burst back in with “Can I just say something else”… which turned out to be about the failings of the Labour Party on Syria. So on the spot I had to formulate a question that would get that answer, and now I have to edit the film footage so that it looks like he was responding to my question. Anyway, it’s all part of the learning curve, and this was another really good step in my journalistic education, as you can probably tell.

Peter made a nice point about how the furore about Tim Farron’s homophobia (or otherwise) was essentially a big storm in a teacup. Says Tatchell: what matters to gay people – and, I suppose, to everyone – is his actions and the way he actually votes. on this analysis, Farron’s legislative record stands up very well next to Theresa May’s.

He also had a lot to say about the general election. Don’t want to overlap with my interview too much as it will be posted here, so I will simply say that the words “cynical opportunistic ploy” were used.

Hopefully the footage will be good when it’s completely finished. Can’t wait to share it with people. Such a big name to get so I’m going to be ruthlessly promoting myself with it at any chance I get.Was a bit nervous but it turned out fine – obviously the guy knows how to behave in an interview, and the cameraman was excellent.

After I interviewed him he gave a talk about Syria, during which he fomented at both Labour and Conservative inaction.

I was tweeting live about the event, and hope I captured some noteworthy statements from Tatchell on my feed:

Several interesting points were made by those of us in the audience, including this one about the nature of the Assad regime:

​Went to the park and visited the Whitworth Art Gallery:

Lovely place; always nice events going on.

After that I met up with a good friend and went with him to a football match – Manchester United vs Manchester City:

Had a great time. First match I’d actually been to watch in ages (I’m not a huge fan of football). It made me think a lot. I spoke about it on my Saturday afternoon radio show which you can listen to here:

On Friday I went to Lyme Park in Stockport:

Such an amazing place. Apparently they filmed some scenes fro “Pride and Prejudice” there, and a commercial for Warburton’s is currently being filmed there. Met some really nice locals in the village of Disley, where Lyme is situated.

Showed the friend I had over to the bus stop. It was fun being with him in Manchester.

Listened to a bit of James O’Brien on LBC while I exercised.


About obesity this time. James wonders what is behind the difference in obesity in working- and middle-class kids.

Education, he declared – fairly reasonably in my opinion – was the key aspect. Education enables enlightened reading of food labels, simply knowing what kinds of lifestyles are healthy, etc.

Completed my politics reading: 

Should the boundaries of the demos correspond with the boundaries of the nation state? Well, broadly they should is my answer. One of the best approximations of the principle of “all affected interests”, but definitely requires a couple of important caveats.

Went to my Economics lecture:

The final lecture, so took the form of a long quiz based around questions spanning the whole course. The purpose was revision, but to revise it helps to have learnt the thing in the first place. Luckily I got most of them right, such as this one:

“Floating exchange rates”. Why does academic economics make boring phenomena sound like Caspar the ghost. I think sometimes the ready and rugged intellectual flexibility fostered by university studies is a cause of over-confidence manifesting itself in thoughts like: “it’s fine I can learn the whole course in a couple of weeks”.

After this lecture I took part in a workshop as part of a BBC radio programme. There I am – standard tall guy lurking at the back:

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“BBC Listen Up”. It was a great experience. Really helped me to formulate my opinions on the duties of the incoming mayor of greater Manchester.

Good me thinking about how the new mayor really must tackle those most visible problems that are clear signals of a diseased society, which in Manchester manifest themselves in;

  1. Widespread dangerous drug use – and Im not taking about a little bit of recreational use, I’m talking about the Spice epidemic which has rendered dozens of poor souls in the city centre utterly zombie-like, and creates a huge problem for the police
  2. Widespread homelessness

(Among others). The new mayor really must put these two items on the top of the agenda, before any rubbish about buses. The presenter of the thing, Femi something from something-hood (you know, one of those films) seemed to have quite an issue about the buses. His shock as a southern outsider helped me to come to my own epiphany: it is mad to have so many bus companies, some incorporating several different tiers and rules into their operations, running on the same route. Obviously all the students – a population which basically dominates bus use in my area – get Stagecoach buses, and the First buses roll along shunned and basically empty. Maybe one lonely old woman inside who doesn’t know she’s made the wrong choice. How can that model even be sustainable, let alone simple or correct? Suffice to say, transport will be a big focus for the new mayor.

Although to be honest, the buses really do need massive simplification and regulation by a central body. I imagine they will be subsumed into Transport for Greater Manchester, which will be good.

Being there also got me thinking about how the dual forces of apathy and scepticism are holding a stranglehold from both sides on political engagement. I really believ more political education is the remedy to this huge problem. Why not just teach politics in schools? Just why not? I really don’t understand. It is so important.

I was also observing the presenter, who was delightful, smart and hilarious, but was nonetheless a personage within whom it was easy to observe that the compulsion to be compelling and creative can come off as artificial and a bit lame. He always has to say something funny or worthwhile. Must be difficult.

Since BBC are scheduled to delete it after a month, you can listen to it here on my own page:

The best part about these things is that although they do take a bit of time from my studies, I do not see this as a waste. In my view, the purpose of my degree is to foster certain abilities rather than get me a job or necessarily to learn specific facts.

I’m getting better at appearing on this kind of stuff, but I still seem to suffer from that perennial problem that obviously affects many. No matter how clear and well-argued  and well-rehearsed your opinions and views are in your head, or even when you discuss them with friends, etc. as soon as a camera or microphone approaches, it seems to massively disrupt the process.

Went to my tutorial – pretty boring as always – and to the library, then to eat.

Saw this:

Oh yeah! And in other ‘not going to make a difference’ news: CBBC presenters back Theresa May!

Blimey, they’re actually referring to this tweet:

I thought that was a joke. Surely the implication is that the only way Corbyn will ever get in this year is with the help of superimposed cheat codes which alter reality. Can’t be a serious endorsement.

A blank piece of paper , or a blank screen and blinking cursor – is freat stimulus for the workings of the mindThe visible signs of a diseased society:

Thinking about how to vote in the upcoming elections is difficult, especially as there are so many going on around here. For one, we are supposed to be able to pick our own Brexit, served to taste. But it is hard to declutter and understand which specific policies are involved with these talked-about ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexits when only the catchphrases are used in the public discourse.

Did my philosophy reading:

Was pretty difficult this week – a section from Hilary Putnam’s “Reason, Truth and History”, where strange analogies involving such concepts as Earth/Twin Earth, and Oscar1/Oscar2 are used to examine whether meaning is derived from the external or internal world. In my view Putnam successfully makes a case for externalism.

And went to Salford Quays:

Had an amazing time. This is where a lot of the Manchester media offices are based: BBC, ITV. Had a trip down menores lane when I saw the Blue Peter logo, and then struggle to explain the show to a foreigner.

Saw this mad newspaper story while I was there:

Blimey, just imagine being “condemned by Gove”. The embarrassment. “Condemned by Gove”. Like being called an anti-Semitic by Hitler. I should be more careful with stuff like that- wouldn’t want to be Ken Livingstoned.

Began the new – and final – story in my Will Self book: “Waiting”. Very odd. But I suppose they all are. Seems to be a tale consisting entirely of a series of inner recollections about someone who doesn’t talk a lot sitting in a car with an enigmatic character who talks far too much. Pretty average so far, will continue tomorrow morning.

Falling asleep listening to the new episode of Russell Brand on Radio X:

So it seems as if Tim Farron is homophobe, else why would he so aggressively avoid the question of whether he thinks gay sex is a sin:

Once again, this time on Peston, he failed to give a satisfactory answer. Having thought about it, I still support him. 

It is a choice between either a liberal homophobe who is otherwise basically inoffensive, someone I don’t believe has the strength of numbers or character to run the country, or someone I fundamentally disagree with on almost every policy. You can see why people are despairing. 

I was listening to Majid Nawaz on LBC. Do the hosts on LBC just love the sound of their  own voices, or does this come as part of the training? I know a certain amount of that comes with the nature of the job, but sometimes they are a bit cloying. The formula could be rethought. 

Russell Brand’s Radio X show broadcast today. I will listen to the podcast version later. I never miss the show, but I don’t care much for the music. 

Why is there so much media on Sundays? It’s supposed to be a lazy day, but I find myself feeling guilty for not catching up with the Sunday politics titans: Andrew Marr, Robert Peston and Andrew Neil. 

It’s a lovely day today and my friend from back home has come to visit me so I’m excited. I’m on my way to pick him up. I hope he has a good time in Manchester. I think I know the things he will enjoy. 

Found my friend – after some confusion involving two people who don’t really know Manchester walking in opposite directions – and went to eat.


Went to the park:

Had a strange experience that indicated the future direction of news and journalism content strategy. Was reading some really harrowing stuff about police violence statistics:

Exited the page to send a snapchat and realised I was actually inside the snapchat app. 

Was persuaded to watch the first episode of  the US show Suits. Pretty good. Standard American stuff: sharp, cool dialogue, attractive cast, and overall shiny and glamorous. 

I was watching this video of violence at the Manchester City vs Arsenal game today:

Mad. Imagine getting that worked up about it. A bunch of people kicking a ball around. I suppose to then it means a lot more. But what can it possibly to warrant that? Either it means a great deal, or those people in the video are just more examples of those people we’ve all encountered: the primed and ever-ready pugilist who is basically a walking fight waiting for the smallest stimulus. 

Reading this: 

The Economist has a new Bagehot (political) columnist. I don’t know why they bother putting up the pretence of anonymity in their articles. I easily found out via twitter that it is a chap called Adrian Wooldridge. Isn’t it funny how all the important people often “happened to have been at Oxford” together. Nothing wrong with getting a good education at Oxford and other top universities. Everything wrong with the disproportionate access to these prestigious institutions afforded by private schools. 

Wooldridge says in the article that Theresa May is in possession of an “unpleasant willingness to play to the Daily Mail”. How strange and shameful that “playing to” a national newspaper is a necessary and noteworthy thing. Can anyone imagine a world where politicians act on principle and not because they are influence by a bit of paper people buy everyday? Not I. But wouldn’t it be interesting. 

Reading another story in Will Self’s “Quantity Theory of Insanity” collection: “Mono-Cellular”. It’s very good. The handling of the protagonist’s obvious mental derangement is relayed in an intimate, first-person way that recalls The Yellow Wallpaper. 
Towards the end of the tale, our protagonist decides he must feed his wart – an entity whose satiation he believes can work a magic spell on his master, or business partner, Gavin. He resolves to eat something, but not in any conventional way. “Oral intake is inconceivable”, he tells us. So he proceeds to smother himself in various food substances – from chicken wings to cherry conserve. “…nothing is sticky when you immerse yourself in it” is one notion that stands out in a broken mess of maddeningly immersive prose. 

Finished it. Good story but very weird. Perhaps I even prefer it to Quantity. QTOI is funnier but this one is very well-written and tightly constructed. I will begin the final story: “Waiting”. Enigmatic. Wonder what that entails. 

What the fuck man. 

Reading this new Guardian piece by Nick Cohen:

Cohen says – as we all have been saying – that the only question of interest in this upcoming election is not “Who will form the government?”, but “How large will the Tories’ new majority be?”. This assumption that Labour will lose is something you can already palpably feel, or rather, that they have a chance of winning is a mental object that you cannot palpably feel in any way.

Read this:
Basically saying ‘here is some work I didn’t even do/discoveries I didn’t even find but which I am nonetheless creating content about and getting paid for’. I listened to the original Adam Buxton podcast with Zadie Smith last night. The only possibly function this can serve is alerting Noisey readers to something usually beyond their radar. 

But what I object to more than anything is this:

Listing her achievements, exposing her as a clever person and then saying that people like her are not the ‘target market’ for this kind of rap. I’m sure both Mrs Smith and Mr Desiigner would object to that. I also think that suggesting that clever and talented and relatively older people cannot enjoy hip hop music propagates harmful elements in our culture. 

Watching one of my favourite programmes, Armando Ianucci’s “The Thick of It”:

For me this show has a solid place as one of the best British comedies of all time. It is by no means the most legendary or popular or expansive – unlike the old favourites like Only Fools and Horses, Blackadder, Dad’s Army – but it is definitely one of the best-written and best-produced. 

The scripts for it, I seem to remember, went through a rigorous process involving numerous writes, re-writes and editing. Ianucci et al were such perfectionists that they notably employed one guy simply to beef up the swearing and insults in the show. 

But boy is the product a stellar one. Granted, the show will not be to everyone’s taste. But for anyone who keeps a weary eye on politics – as we all certainly should – it will have ever-relevant and biting satirical resonance. Things which for me were and are multiplied by the frequency with which I keep routinely returning to the Thick of It, understanding more and more each time ever since I was about 15.

Listened to Nick Robinson’s podcast:

This week it features Nick’s commentary on an interview he did with Theresa May on Radio 4’s Today programme, as well as a discussion with William Hague about facing crushing general election defeats by emboldened incumbents. Hague lost to Blair when he lead the Tories in 2001, and Corbyn will, it seems, lose to May in summer 2017. 

Interviews, interesting views and “The Interview”

Today I feel a sense of trepidation about upcoming things. Haha, that sounds like a horoscope.

Im going to be interviewing a legend of British public life in 5 days. I am frightened. At least he’ll give great answers since he’s used to it.

Listened to this interview:

Car-crash anyone? What a terrible embarrassment. It didn’t even have to be that bad. Could have been so easily avoided if Butler kept her cool and could handle the pressure by giving good answers. Why on earth choose her.

Nick Robinson has been accused of compromising his BBC impartiality with this tweet:

Really doesn’t seem especially bad to me… We all know he was – and maybe still is – a very avid Conservative (at 18 he chaired his regional branch of the young Conservatives), but in general he seems never to breach his impartiality.

People need to stop with what Nick Cohen amusingly termed “the cold squint of the heresy hunter” – I.e., those angry people aggressively over-searching for any small linguistic slip-up that in their view betrays bad attitudes. From a memorable edition of his column in Standpoint magazine:

Whether Mr Cohen would agree with me on this particular issue is up for debate (I suspect and hope that he would).

Oh, probably he does:

But looks as though he’s had bigger things to worry about today:

Went to the library to study. Do not feel like studying straight away so reading some stuff about economics which I had open on my browser and was meaning to read. Started reading the “Henry Farrell on economists and austerity” entry from Simon Wren-Lewis’ economics blog.

In it, Wren-Lewis says this:

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 22.31.50

We all know the common thing to say regarding economists and the 2007-8 crash is “Why didn’t they prevent it?” rather than “Why wasn’t it worse?”. Many people – me included – will probably not have looked at it this way around. Wren-Lewis is very good as an apologist for economists, a group towards whom my recent disposition has admittedly been one of intense scepticism, and their policy influence.

This is a great song:

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 22.45.53

I will add it to my playlist. Nice that Lupe Fiasco is one of those few mainstream rappers who still utilises actual storytelling.

Started to read about foreign aid:

Matthew Stadlen is talking about foreign aid and whether we should keep it at the 0.7% of GDP level that it is currently at, on his LBC slot. Perhaps I’ll call in and say this:

The UK is the second biggest spender on foreign aid in the world. Giving however many billions of £ of taxpayers’ money to international life-saving humanitarian agencies is something we should be proud of, and we should not be swayed by the nationalist rhetoric espoused by the likes of Paul Nuttal – who called the number an “absolute disgrace” and said the money should go to the NHS (why do these people always think they can pull on people’s emotional heartstrings for the NHS? We are all still waiting for that promised £350m – but there are two key questions that need to be asked:

  1. do we really need to be giving £180m (2015 figures) to places like India?
  2. are we making sure to give it to the best people, and that it does not go in the pockets of wealthy and greedy bureaucrats?

I did not call in. I will definitely call in to LBC another time. Perhaps tomorrow. 

Watching the movie “The Interview” with Seth Rogen and James Franco:

Fantastic satire. Nicely written. Probably Seth Rogen wrote it with longtime comedy partner Evan Goldberg. 

James Franco is fantastic as the energetic dunderhead TV host Dave Skylark. He has been an incredible performer since the excellent 2000 cult series Freaks and Geeks. 

Coach journeys, Hip-Hop criticism and forklessness – a major problem for London supermarkets

I’m going home today. I have to go by coach – one of the worst forms of public transport known to man – since I bought my ticket late.

I do not like the coach. Thankfully on this one I was able to secure my favourite spot – the seat adjacent to the emergency exit with the biggest legroom – and made friends with someone from Chile.

The coach’s violent to-ing and fro-ing felt like being inside Hegel’s idea of history as dialectic. Luckily I have a fair few items of entertainment downloaded, and I am tired so hope to get some sleep.

Listening to this:

Don’t remember Anthony Seldon sounding quite like this. He is speaking as if he’s tripping on acid. Weird.

Then listened to the same show but featuring Theresa May. Rubbish. Fell asleep.

Got to London.

Bought food. By the time I had got to some park, I realised that what I bought didn’t come with a fork. Well, I wasn’t gonna be defeated by lack of fork, and I had already opened it. I plunged my hand in.

So there I stood. A stranger standing in the middle of Belgravia eating pasta with my bare hands like an animal. It’s a nice earthy animalistic feeling. People should do that more. Though of course people in London would never sink to those depths.

Suited businessman after yellow-jacketed builder after standard issue insipid posh bitch hurried London-ously past me with varying degrees of scorn visible on their London faces.

Why is everything so classified and ordered in London. First it’s not even taken for granted that I need basic culinary utensils to consume my lunch, next I’m not even allowed into empty but beautiful parks. “Private residents park” for “key holders only”? Fuck off. Fuck off and give me a fork.

The Sun is funny isn’t it?

Imagine living in the world the Sun portrays as reality. Everything is so loud and brash. You’re getting shocked by X, Y is exploding over there, while Z is being shot down and torpedoed. Haha. It must actually be pretty fun and easy to write, even if it is complete misleading guff. Its basically an exercise in creative writing, inspired loosely by events in UK politics.

Had nice conversation with my Chilean friend. It’s nice to learn about other languages and other points of view.

Got back to Manchester. Manchester really has this distinctive smokey takeaway smell. Can’t tell whether I like it.

Read this article about Kendrick Lamar’s new album:

Fantastic. I really like the Economist for their news stuff especially. Had not been exposed to much of their arts and culture stuff so nice to find this there. Didn’t know they even covered much hip-hop. I’d love to be able to write about hip-hop in that Economist detached-rationalism way.

I guess Supreme dropped something new today. Seen this ridiculous item feature on various social media today:

What the fuck? Obviously this shit sells, but like… just.. what? Maybe I would think it was cool if I had one.