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Monday, 8 February 2016

JACK LEMMON

Jack Lemmon - 1968.jpg

Jack Lemmon was born on 8 February 1925. He died at 76 in 2001.

Extraordinary actor.

I'm pleased to say I have a signed photograph. "To Joe, Best wishes, Jack Lemmon."

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Thursday, 4 February 2016

BEWARE OF THE BULL - NEW BOOK

Out now. Buy at https://www.feedaread.com/books/Beware-of-the-Bull.aspx



Beware of the Bull

The full title of this book is really ‘Beware of the Bullshit’ because bs is all around us. We are swimming, sometimes drowning in an ocean of political correctness + made-up rules by officialdom + opinions shouted, tweeted et al to sound like facts from every Dick and Dora + bandwagon-jumping politicians sounding tough or smarmy + advertising executives scaring us to death in a bid to get us to buy cure-all stuff + daily frustrations and irritations to drive us to the brink of insanity, and on and on and on. We must be on our guard because every second of every day someone is trying to manipulate us to hand over our votes, our loyalties, our personal information and especially our money, or they are just annoying oiks getting in the way of a simple life. Resist this nonsense. Beware of the bull. This book identifies some of it in my humble and, at times, not so humble opinion. But above all else, with a few serious jabs, this is a joke book. Feel free to laugh at my funny random thoughts about modern life. Laughing is still allowed, at least for the time being.
ISBN: 9781786106902
Type: Paperback
Pages: 88
Published: 27 January 2016
Price: £4.99

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

DEAR EDITOR


Freelance commissions/invitations to joecushnan@aol.com

I have written and will continue to write about Belfast (nostalgia, celebrity and personal pieces). Some of this work has been published in the Belfast Telegraph, News Letter and Irish News.

I have written many book, radio, theatre and film reviews for Tribune magazine.

I have contributed to the BBC N Ireland documentary Stephen Boyd: The Man Who Never Was.

I have written my most successful book (steady, not J. K. Rowling stratospheric sales numbers): Stephen Boyd: From Belfast To Hollywood.

I have published humorous and serious poetry in several online and print magazines.

I write about Belfast, the human condition and, when riled, coherent rants about the frustrations and irritations of modern life. (My latest book offering is Beware of the Bull).

I have columns and columns of entertaining and thought-provoking ideas in my head.

I write to order and can turn round 1,000-word articles in hours.

I can be your write-hand man.

joecushnan@aol.com

Monday, 1 February 2016

TERRY WOGAN

I was very fond of Terry Wogan, especially in the early years of his stint on BBC Radio 2. He was fresh, intelligent, innovative, very funny and, for a good decade and more, he was a must-listen-to radio broadcaster. In his twilight years, he was not as sharp but I tend to remember his greatest era when he was a wit like no other. He was much more than a disc jockey. He commanded the microphone with a skill and confidence that eludes many a jock. He was a master of the radio pause, the silence that would provoke a heart attack amongst many a producer. He could tell a great story or emphasise the most entertaining points of a listener's letter with cheek and relish, milking the daft with a natural deftness. He was Irish and he used the accent and the humour accordingly, sometimes for music hall emphasis and sometimes for slapstick effect, sometimes for an intelligent end piece. He  was better on radio than TV but the margin was narrow.

He was a firm family man and his family deserve the praise and prayers of people from wherever it comes. RIP Sir Terry Wogan.You were like no other, in the best possible way.

But the amount of news and general entertainment coverage of Terry Wogan's passing, rather like the David Bowie coverage, is enough to make you want to run to the hills. Celebrate the man, for sure, but don't go on and on and on about his life. Something tells me Sir Terry would wave a lot of this tribute stuff away.

Perhaps, since the death of Princess Diana, coupled with the voracious appetite of 24/7 news, big personalities are bestowed with disproportionate headline coverage that, possibly, tires people after a while. Overdosing is not a good thing, especially when A to Z personalities attempt to hitch their wagons, in this case, to Wogan's star. A simple obituary becomes an epic national period of mourning that taints the gilt that extraordinary people like Terry deserve. Less is more.

Again, RIP, Sir Terry Wogan. A broadcaster and writer to remember fondly. I switched off the coverage, including tonight's One Show, and remembered my own recollections. In the words of Sir Terry in his best radio days, I am banjaxed, malafoostered and reduced to the condition of a pig's breakfast by the media fauning but I do remember a genius who broke a mould and I can't think of many of them on the radio.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

SHORT STORY - SHIRTS


SHIRTS


Kay walked into the kitchen and through to the utility room, as she did every morning, and looked in disbelief at the pile of ironing on the worktop.  “I don’t believe it,” she said to herself, growling with clenched teeth.  “What is it, Mum?” asked Kenny, her son, who had just appeared at the door.  “Oh, it’s nothing.  Actually, it’s very annoying.  I agreed with your Dad that as he gets up and potters about for an hour before going to work that he could iron a couple of his shirts each morning and that would ease the housework I have to do.  But he doesn’t do it.”  Kenny scratched his head: “It doesn’t sound like a big deal to me.”   Kay started to respond but stopped, thinking that any kind of long-winded explanation to a fourteen year old boy about ironing shirts was tantamount to discussing Chinese with the cat – pointless.  But to Kay it was a growing problem causing frustrations and, sometimes, angry exchanges between her and her husband.  Jim did not seem to understand how much a little help would mean to Kay, trying to juggle her role as housewife, whilst doing her part-time job at the bank.
“Look Kay, just chill out about the shirt thing.  I don’t have time,” said Jim when he came home from work.  Kay exploded.  “Chill out, chill out, how dare you say that to me as if I was a skivvy.”  Jim got up off the sofa and stormed out of the room, passing Kenny who was sitting on the stairs with his hands cupped under his chin.  He hated these arguments, but they had become a nightly ritual of shouting, banging doors, stomping feet and then long stretches of silence as his parents refused to speak to each other.
Kay and Jim still slept in the same bed but more often than not it was with their backs to each other.  The love was draining out of their marriage and all because of a few lousy shirts, thought Kay.  She spent most nights lying awake, thinking
about how on earth a relationship can be threatened by trivial things.  Was she making too much of the ironing thing?  Should she back off ?  Shouldn’t she just be content with her life?  She weighed up the pros and cons.  She had to find a way through this silly episode.
One morning, Kay walked downstairs and proceeded to follow her normal kitchen and utility room routine.  She stopped in her tracks when she saw two piles of beautifully ironed and folded piles of shirts on the worktop.  On one of the piles was a note with an X and a raggedy-drawn smiley face.  Kay let out a laugh.  She saw what she saw but she couldn’t believe it. 
Kay played it cool when Jim came home from work.  She didn’t mention the ironed shirts directly but she did give him a lingering hug.  “What’s that for?” he asked.  “Hugging my husband does not need a reason, does it?”  Kay smiled at him.  Jim sniffed the air.  “Hmmm, shepherd’s pie, my all-time favourite.”
Kay, Jim and Kenny all ate together and the conversation was good with everyone talking and behaving like a very happy family.  Kenny looked a little tired, but his Mum put that down to his football activities after school. Kay had the best night’s sleep ever, after thinking about the turning point in what was fast becoming a rough, potentially fatal patch in their marriage.  She should have shown more gratitude about the shirts, she thought, but things seemed to be more relaxed and, anyway, Jim hated fuss.  She was glad they fell asleep facing each other.
In the days that followed, it was like courting  again with flowers, chocolates, meals in nice restaurants, a visit to the cinema, and even shopping together in the same precinct at the same time, with Jim waiting patiently in clothes stores as Kay tried on several outfits.  There were more kisses and cuddles than there had been in months.  Kay was amazed at the change in their lives.  Her colleagues at the bank remarked that she seemed much less drawn and much livelier.  Kay explained that she had learned a valuable lesson in the past week, that trivial things can wreck lives, and that life is too short to argue about shirts.
About a week later, Kay woke up to find a single red rose on Jim’s pillow, with a note saying “I love you”.  He had left for work as usual but these little tokens of appreciation were becoming a feature of their refreshed marriage.  She would find notes on the fridge door, in her underwear drawer and in the latest novel she was reading.  Jim was a changed man, and she loved it.  She walked into the kitchen and was alerted by noise in the utility room.  She went through and saw Kenny folding down the ironing board.  Behind him on the worktop were two neat piles of Jim’s shirts.  “Oh, Mum,” said a startled Kenny.  Kay looked at him, then at the shirts, at the ironing board and then back to Kenny.  “What’s going on?”  Kenny rested the ironing board against the wall and said: “I was a bit late getting up this morning.  I thought I’d have had this lot done before you got up.”  Kay’s jaw dropped.  “You mean, you’ve been ironing the shirts.”  Kenny looked a little sheepish as he nodded.  Kay could feel herself getting angry.  She had been duped.  All this time, she had assumed that Jim had changed his spots and was helping out with the ironing chores.  Kenny could see his mother getting upset.  “Look Mum, I had to do something to stop you two arguing about stuff like this.  It is so upsetting.  I even thought about leaving home to get away from it all.”  Kay let out a gasp and walked over to hug Kenny.  For a few moments they held each other, with Kay saying sorry several times.
When Jim got home from work, Kay had a casserole in the oven, some chilled wine and a bowl of pistachio nuts.  “Let’s sit in the conservatory until dinner is ready,” she said.  “But before we do, let’s raise a glass to our wonderful son for being, well, our wonderful son.”  Jim looked a little perplexed, but clinked his glass against Kay’s and played along with the nice sentiment.
In the conservatory, Jim was working through a handful of nuts as he talked about his day.  “By the way,” he said, “not to make a mountain out of a molehill, but I did notice that my shirt cuff today was very wrinkled.  You must have missed it when you did the ironing.”  Kay held an expressionless face and thought that just over a week ago she could have stabbed him for a comment like that but in her more relaxed outlook on life and knowing what she knew about Kenny’s contribution to the improvement in their lives, she muttered “hmmm” and left it at that.  No point in getting shirty, she thought.


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

NEWS SWITCH-OFF: TRIGGER WORDS/PHRASES

Once upon a time I was a news junkie. I couldn't get enough of current affairs and I had a high interest in what was going on in the world. I felt that knowledge of global events was essential in understanding my place on planet Earth. I watched as much news on television as I could, listened to radio bulletins, devoured several newspapers a day and became absorbed in discussion programmes like BBC's Question Time. I loved it all.

But in recent years, and I can't really put my finger one one specific reason, I recoiled from news programmes and tended to skim the headlines to catch the bare minimum to keep me in touch with what was going on. I watched big news stories as they happened up until the point where repetition and commentator blether wore me down. I was suffering from news fatigue.


So, this week on the blog, I will be mentioning trigger words and phrases that force me to switch off the news and avoid buying newspapers. But, no fool me, I will not fall into the trap of assuming that we live in a world of free speech. There will be a lot of asterisks because a word or phrase can attract all kinds of antisocial media shit and it will be up to anyone who gives a damn to guess what those words and phrases are - without any help from me.

TODAY'S TRIGGER WORDS & PHRASES:

1) NHS

2) ****

3) Iain Duncan Smith

4) ********

5) Peter Andre

6) *** *********

7) Katie Hopkins

8) *******

9) Jamie Oliver

10) Any former army general or long-retired politician

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

NEWS SWITCH-OFF: TRIGGER WORDS/PHRASES

Extracts from yesterday's blog post......

Once upon a time I was a news junkie. I couldn't get enough of current affairs and I had a high interest in what was going on in the world. I felt that knowledge of global events was essential in understanding my place on planet Earth. I watched as much news on television as I could, listened to radio bulletins, devoured several newspapers a day and became absorbed in discussion programmes like BBC's Question Time. I loved it all.

But in recent years, and I can't really put my finger one one specific reason, I recoiled from news programmes and tended to skim the headlines to catch the bare minimum to keep me in touch with what was going on. I watched big news stories as they happened up until the point where repetition and commentator blether wore me down. I was suffering from news fatigue.


So, this week on the blog, I will be mentioning trigger words and phrases that force me to switch off the news and avoid buying newspapers. But, no fool me, I will not fall into the trap of assuming that we live in a world of free speech. There will be a lot of asterisks because a word or phrase can attract all kinds of antisocial media shit and it will be up to anyone who gives a damn to guess what those words and phrases are - without any help from me.

TODAY'S TRIGGER WORDS & PHRASES:

1) Robert Peston

2) Huw Edwards

3) *******

4) ***********

5) ****

6) Austerity

7) Jeremy Hunt

8) Sugar

9) ****** *******

10) *******