Monday, 20 November 2017

Prince Philip's rumoured affairs

Just as the Queen and Prince Philip prepare to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, rumours about Philip's alleged affairs have resurfaced. 

One concerns British actress Pat Kirkwood, whose legs in her heyday were said to have been 'the eighth wonder of the world'. Kirkwood, who died in 2007, always denied there was an affair.

I interviewed her about the story in 1999 for a programme entitled Prince Philip - one step behind the Queen for the American television series Biography made by A&E Network.

She told me the rumours arose because she danced with Philip in a London night club in the late 1940s. As they were gliding across the floor, some people came in, spotted them, and looked rather cross. She continued:

'I said to Prince Philip: "Who are those people that have come in just now? They seem to be awfully disgusted with something." He said: "Oh them. They're the courtiers." Whereupon he started to imitate them, pulling his face into disgusted positions. It was so funny. So I said: "don't you think we'd better sit down now?" He said: "No. And that's an order."'

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Brexitwatch. Parliament: We demand to be irrelevant!

When Theresa May had to hastily cobble together a White Paper to pretend she had some kind of ‘plan’ for Brexit, even she had to admit that while the UK has been in the EU, Parliament has remained ‘sovereign’, contradicting one of the major lies of the Leave campaign.

But now MPs are busily voting that after Brexit, they should no longer be sovereign. Do they want a say on workers’ rights? No, thank you. Animal rights, then? Certainly not!

And remember the 58 Brexit impact studies that Parliament is supposedly forcing the government to publish? Shouldn't MPs make sure they have a look at them before pushing Brexit through? Oh, no need for that, old chap.

Winston Churchill once remarked that the House of Commons would not be a truly representative body if it did not have its proportion of fools. Well, now the fools are in the majority. More than three hundred of them have been found to vote themselves into irrelevance.

You can understand why. I suspect most MPs realise Brexit will be a disaster, but if we complain to them, they will have the perfect excuse: ‘You voted for it!’ So why speak out and go through all the heartache of being abused by the extreme right and the newspapers they control? Better to just nod it through.

The trouble is: if our MPs keep voting that they should be irrelevant, that is what they will become. And the ‘people’ are likely to start asking what is the point of Parliament.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

'Secrets of the Centenarians': BBC Radio Essex interview and Lancashire Evening Post article

Interviewed by Tony Fisher of BBC Radio Essex on my new book: 'Secrets of the Centenarians' - how do you live to 100, what is it like if you get there, longevity myths, why do women survive better than men etc. The interview is here:

And a piece on the book from the Lancashire Evening Post: Britain's oldest killer, debut author and the last surviving member of the merchant navy from World War One:

Monday, 6 November 2017

Brexitwatch: a bad week for the Brexiters

As I forecast in my post of June 21 (Brexit; a game of two halves), things were always going to get tough for the Brexiters once the negotiations began and the wild promises they had made started to hit the rocks of reality. But this has been a particularly bad week.

Theresa May’s Tory government has been desperate to keep hidden 58 studies it has done on how Brexit will affect the UK’s economy. Now Labour has successfully demanded they be published. No doubt May will keep wriggling, but if pro-democracy MPs keep fighting, the reports will surely be revealed.

And after a fair bit of foot-dragging, the Electoral Commission has finally agreed to investigate how the Leave Campaign was financed, just as investigative journalists begin to probe the involvement of Russia in securing the Brexit vote.

Brexit fanatic (and disgraced former defence secretary) Liam Fox had to admit that if we leave the EU, we will have to rip up trade deals with many other countries, leaving about 750 new agreements to be reached according to some estimates.

Then there was what Harold Macmillan used to call: ‘Events, dear boy’. A new disgraced former defence secretary, Michael Fallon, had to quit the government over his inappropriate treatment of women. And question marks have appeared over other MPs. At the moment, a minority Tory government needs by-elections, like a hole in the head or, say, a Leave vote in an EU referendum. 

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Secrets of living to 100 and the world's oldest author

Interviewed this week by Debbie McCrory of BBC Radio Cornwall about my book Secrets of the Centenarians: what is it like to live for a century and which of us will survive to find out? and about the world's oldest working author. Here it is:-

Ida Pollock from Lanreath, near Looe, was reckoned to hold the title when she died aged 105 in 2013, just before the publication of her 125th book. She used ten different pseudonyms to write romantic novels, of which she sold over a million, with titles such as Hotel Stardust and The Bay of Moonlight.

She wrote her first book at the age of fourteen, and became a full-time writer in her twenties. Over one five-year period, she produced 40 titles, and said she could finish a book in six weeks.

Many of her romantic heroes were said to be based on her husband Lt-Col. Hugh Pollock, who had previously been married to Enid Blyton. He died aged 82 in 1971.

Secrets of the Centenarians is published by Reaktion Books.