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Lord Melvin of the Bouffant

A couple of nights ago Our Beloved Lord of the BBC Round Buffet Table (of the Free Drinkies and Nibbles), Lord Melvin of the Laboratoire Garnier (because he isn’t worth it) was asked about the “bedroom tax” on the early evening “entertainment” creature called “The One Show” on the BBC and he wrinkled his erudite brow – for he is an intellectual* unlike you or me.

Oh, he was upset. He believed that the government ought to stay out of people’s homes (unless it is to build HS2 which means he gets to his “Beloved Lake District” ever so slightly quicker whilst fantasising about shagging a young Dervla Kirwan** along the way.

Melvin Bragg was upset…


Housing benefit is an unholy mess of course but this is not the time to go into that viper’s nest which reflects on the British obsession with the ownership of domestic property*** and many other things. But, a reduction in a benefit is never a tax. It may be a bad thing but call it what it is – a reduction in benefits, not a tax. It reminds me of a Green a while back talking of a government “subsidy” to airlines on fuel. What he meant was not that aviation kerosine was actually subsidised as such (it isn’t) but that it wasn’t taxed. Now why might that be? Now you can’t hop into your Ford Focus and fill ‘er up in France that easily but a 737… That is the whole point of flying – to make geography history. If only our finkers and tinkers (and tinkerers) could get up to speed on stuff like that. I mean maybe they need nearly 110 years of controllable, fixed wing aviation to get it… Oh, wait! Been done hasn’t it? Anyway, to conflate tax and benefits like this is a tacit belief in the “pocket-money nation” in which all monies really belong to the state apart from the “allowances” which are “given” to spend off our own bats (and obviously to spend as is seen fit in order to desperately try and re-inflate an insane consumer bubble economy – or else). It must be so nice for the proles to have a coupla quid on the hip. It’s like “voluntary” NICO contributions for the self-employed. “Voluntary” in this context really doesn’t fit with what it says in my wife’s OED or my Websters. Aren’t those two tomes suppossed to be the ultimate repository of the English Language? Try telling that to some fucker kicking your door in at 4am.

At a deeper level the minute you allow government to interfere with housing market then Lord Bragg, The Quiff Pursuivant then you are allowing them into people’s homes. Obviously.

Or maybe he’s just too busy wanking himself into a coma over fantastic dalliances with pretty girls a third (at best) his age in a field with commanding views of Derwent Water. Fine enough I guess (if a bit pathetic) on his own shilling. Anyway I digress…

(Sorry, thinking of Ms Kirwan, again – who is BTW two years older than me. Well fit in that train-wreck of a Dr Who Christmas Special a bit back. Good stuff which failed to gel.)

Anyway, the main point. Lord Bragg of Hair Product (you could launch a Harrier Jet (if we still had ’em) off his cranial dead wombat) said he (he looked like he was about to weep the tears of the crocodile into his last freebee canape – I mean that bad – poor soul – how he has suffered!)…

I mean he Ronald Pickup (seriously!) couldn’t even afford a spare room for his inamorata and had to “do it” on a hill-side. That was the excorable “A Time to Dance” where Mr Pickup stood in for the Braggster in the role of “Randy Old Git #1”.

Enough Nick!

Anyway, the deeply intellectual Lord Bragg of “Presenting a show on ITV that nobody watches but means ITV can claim to do the Arts” was “viscerally” upset by this policy decision. He then apologised and said what he meant was he, “Felt it in his gut”.

Because us peasantry – presumably including the folk on housing bennies – wouldn’t understand “visceral”. Now I may have gone to an ever so ‘umble (fuck that!) Comp in Gateshead but fuck you Lord Bragg and the cunting unicorn you rode down from your cloud on. What really got me is that he wasn’t prompted but autonomously and automatically felt the need to apologise for using a “difficult” word becuse he is so clever and those he (literally) Lords it over are, to him, not. It was the assumption that made me want to forget my education and resort to the demotic (that’s classical too!) Anglo-Saxon and see visions of blood-cured battle-axes and flaming brands and other things too dreadful to state.

Make no mistake. From Prince Charles to Lord Bragg they think of us as pets at best. The simple fact that Lord Bragg of Twatbuggery felt he couldn’t use the word “visceral” to the plebs says it all. He’s not used to BBC1 – bless. Perhaps he ought to be put out to grass on a reservation on BBC4 with Jonathon Miller****.

Seriously though it is like something from Plato. These are the “Children of Gold” (not that they are looking that young mind) who love the poor just as long as they don’t have to stand too close to ’em. Abject poverty to them means flying business class. We are their play things. I had Lego as a kid and bricks don’t mind if they get turned into a space-ship or an oil platform or a land dreadnought or whatever. I have rendered things in lego and clay and paint and code and all the rest. Never people. The arrogance is stunning. I’d go so far as to suggest that they only get away with it because it is so stunning you don’t notice it in exactly the same way you affect not to notice a naked 7′ Zulu warrior with an asagai and a 12″ semi on your commuter train of the morning. He might also have some beads mind and one of the deluded middle-aged ladies might ask if they were Fairtrade because her niece’s birthday was coming-up…

She’d be trying hard not to look at the cock mind.

And failing.

Most fun she’d never had since she didn’t inhale a Clinton during the Vietnam War.

Do anything you want, Mel & Chums, but don’t patronise me or I might liberate some artifacts from Prague Castle and then Your Lordship you might discover a true “gut-feeling” of what “visceral” really means.

PS. This is exactly the same bollocks that keeps alive the idea that Shakespeare couldn’t possibly have written Shakespeare because William was a grammer-school boy from the relative sticks. It must surely have been an aristo and not some young lad charging a groat to stand in the “shouty end” with a flagon of ale and a dubious pie to hurl at the cast if they fluff their lines. The greatest dramas of all time were staged without an Arts Council grant – get over it. Or get a pie in the mush!

*Or given the barnet he looks like an “ageing Ted with a masturbator’s pallor”. I owe that phrase to Mr Smarting Anus who also “Wanks Higher than any in Wome” and is usually more full of shi’ite than a mosque in Qom.
**BBC – A Time to Dance. If that wasn’t taken straight from the Braggadocio’s self-abuse notes then call me a Belgian.
***A massive issue. Forgive me for skirting this here because I’m in danger of “Old toffees blogging”. You know what toffee is like after it has been left out for a couple of days? You pick one up and the rest comes along with it…
****I have a cruel and unusual punishment for Miller. He must speak for a full two minutes without using the word “paradox”. If he manages that then Matron will give him his Horlicks and not spank his botty. Though he’d probs like that. Depending on the Matron so might I but not Horlicks! I mean if it was Kylie, say…


  1. Simon Jester says:

    The greatest dramas of all time were staged without an Arts Council grant

    Interesting piece of synchronicity over on Samizdata:

  2. mactheknife says:

    “… I might liberate some artifacts from Prague Castle…”,

    Crikey Nick, you don’t have to go all the way to Prague. They have some really fun stuff on the top-floor of Hever Castle near Maidstone, and it’s a very pleasant afternoon out… :)

  3. NickM says:

    You should see my shed…

  4. Lynne says:

    Quiff Pursuivant? Quim Pursuivant, surely…

    Excellent rant, Nick. You verbally eviscerated the bastard.

  5. CountingCats says:

    Am I truly the only person who has a little respect for the noble lord? He is quite sound on some topics

  6. JuliaM says:

    “He is quite sound on some topics…”

    Well, yes, and a stopped clock’s right twice a day. The rest of the time it’s bloody useless!

  7. CountingCats says:

    Sorry, but I quite like the bloke. He is a bit more than just a stopped watch.

  8. RAB says:

    He probably would have preferred it to be called “The Left Bank Show” being more in tune with his politics and intellectual pretentions.

    Anyone see his Bragg on Class and Culture three parter? It wasn’t just wrong, it was spectacularly wrong.

    Anyone tried to read on of his novels? And he’s a mate of that man of deep thought, Tony Blair. Nuff said.

  9. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    Sorry, but I quite like the bloke. He is a bit more than just a stopped watch.

    For years he has had a programme on BBC Radio 4 called In Our Time. Each week they take a topic, get in three or four experts in that area and talk about it for an hour. The topics might be anything, from philosophy to physics to history to who know what. There is an enormous number of episodes available for download. I must have 60 or 70 of them on my phone to work through. They’re fascinating stuff.

    Yes, Bragg can be quite pretentious at times, and even a bit of an ass if he thinks he’s losing control of the conversation, but it’s really not about him. It’s about his guests and what they bring to the party. Thing is, I’m struggling to think of anyone other than Bragg who could pull that programme off.

  10. Sam Duncan says:

    I’m with Cats on old Belvyn: he’s definitely not your usual production-line media Lefty. And you can call the SBS a fig-leaf if you like, but it was there, in many ways a vast improvement on the BBC’s competitors, and he fought hard to keep it there after the foundation of Channel 4 more or less shot the can-commercial-telly-Do-The-Arts fox (ultimately failing, leading to his move to Sky).

    But he’s still a Lefty, and stupendously wrong on this one.

    Not that I think that monkeying with Housing Benefit will fix it. The British state welfare system is like a sieve: plug one hole and another ten will open up. The law of unintended consequences will apply to the new régime just as surely as it does to the current one.

    But that’s beside the point. Reducing the amount of money you dole out to people – who, let’s not forget, have been judged by the elected representatives of The People not to need it; isn’t that what socialism’s supposed to be all about? – is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a tax.

  11. CountingCats says:

    Because someone is a lefty doesn’t make every position they hold wrong, nor does it make them a bad person.

    Look, come the revolution there is a fair chance I will find myself on the opposite side of the barricades to Tony Benn, BUT – when the man speaks on constitutional issues I listen, because experience has taught me that on that topic what he has to say is always worth hearing. Depending on the issue, I could even find myself on the same side of the barricade, shoulder to shoulder with the old lefty.

    As to the personal attacks, really, attack the position, not the person. I cannot think of any aspect of Melvyn less relevant to his positions than his hair style.

  12. Lynne says:

    I cannot think of any aspect of Melvyn less relevant to his positions than his hair style.

    The satirical puppet show, Spitting Image thought differently. Although the show had a leftist bent they did, at least, give every royal, politician and celebrity the treatment, emphasising things like prominent facial features, weird hairstyles and mannerisms. It was newspaper cartooning in 3D and it was hilarious.

    Bragg is the Lord of Smug. I don’t particularly dislike the bloke but I’m with Nick on this one. He’s just another ludicrous celebrity who thinks what he says outside his sphere of competence has gravity and ought to be listened to. His gravitational field, adequate presentership aside (yes, he is good t his day job), generates from a black hole of blithering, poorly informed know nowtiness. In short, likableness aside, when it comes to political meddling moonlighting the man is a prat…with a silly hairstyle.

  13. Simon Jester says:

    Spitting Image lampooned Belvyn’s way of speaking more than his hairstyle: “Ooh, it’s that awful Mervyn Bagg. I do wish he’d blow his nose.” One of their running gags involved him snorting from a baby’s bottle (apparently filled with milk), rather than a menthol inhaler.

  14. NickM says:

    Sorry Cats but that really was a stopped clock moment. In the sense that he’s been on the telly for decades and a single slice of an interview is all to be said for him.

    Think about it. What if someone were to say to you, “You’re a tosser Cats, a monger of drivel apart from that one post in August 2009 – that was good”. OK

  15. I think you probably need to up your meds a bit…

  16. CountingCats says:


    These days, they could be right……

    I loved Start the Week.

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