Monday, 20 December 2010
Let me leave you to enjoy the rest of your 2010 with a song.
According to a TV programme I just watched, this is the most viewed clip on Youtube of the last year with over 60 million hits.
In order for it to make sense you need to be a little patient since the first couple of minutes of the video below explains the background to the song.
It involves a young and slightly peculiar looking man named Antoine Dodson, who in my opinion bears an uncanny likeness to the footballer Ronaldinho albeit slightly less buck of tooth, and who was being interviewed for the news after a burglar attempted to rape his sister. Yes, serious stuff.
Anyway, the clip went 'viral', a song was conjured up by some hi-tech information technology wizard and the rest, as they say, is history:
Sunday, 5 December 2010
1. Relating to, characteristic of, or affected with paranoia.
2. Exhibiting or characterized by extreme and irrational fear or distrust of others
I'm not sure if it is possible for an entire country to be 'paranoid', but apparently Britain is suffering from just such a mental state. How do I know that? Because Julian Assange told me so because a mole in an embassy told him so and because he then informed 2.5billion people by inscribing this water-cooler gossip onto his Wikileaks website.
Since I was up much of the night drinking gin-laced ovaltine and watching England dismantle Australia in the Ashes, I don't currently have the energy to make up any wise-cracks about the name 'Wikileaks' or how they might be Will Smith's favourite vegetables but this is what I learned from that most nefarious of websites. I quote from the Sky News website because they obviously always have their facts spot on - Ahem -
"A German woman has been killed in a shark attack while snorkelling off the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, officials say.
The death comes after four people were injured in similar attacks at..."
oops, sorry. Wrong article.
"Files newly released by the Wikileaks website highlight what is described as the UK's "paranoia" about its so-called special relationship with the US. In one cable, a senior US diplomat describes "excessive UK speculation" after Barack Obama became president, continuing "This over-reading would often be humorous, if it were not so corrosive."
The cables detail efforts by leading Tories, who are now in government, to stress their pro-US credentials. A 2008 cable written by US deputy chief of mission Richard LeBaron describes a meeting with William Hague, then a Conservative frontbencher and now foreign secretary.
When asked at the meeting whether the relationship was "still special", Mr Hague is said to have replied: "We want a pro-American regime. We need it. The world needs it."
Mr Hague then went on to say, "To be honest, I'm not actually sure if the relationship is still 'special' but we've got our best man working on it. His name is Jules Segal and he's asking 500 celebrities to give him their feedback on the special relationship before he sends a Union Jack flag to President Obama.
Ok I made that last bit up, and I'm not reading anything into the fact that I am still awaiting a reply from William after sending him my letter 6 weeks ago.
Meanwhile, according to Wikileaks certain US Embassy staff have also described Silvio Berlusconi as 'feckless' and the Germans as being 'without humour', so you do the maths...
Oh I forgot to mention in my last post, R.I.P Bernard Matthews. You will be sorely missed as will your succulent corn-fed turkeys.
*The 'joke' in the title to this post was brought to you by Jerry Sadowitz circa 1992, the letter 'Z' and the number '4'.
Friday, 26 November 2010
I went to the doctor and guess what she told me? She said "Jules your cholesterol is 6.7 you fat git." - or words to that effect.
Look, the reason I haven't managed to recant any more stories about further celebrities signing my Union Jack for President Obama since Jeffrey Archer, Boris Johnson and Richard Wilson graced my presence in October is because I've been busy trying to garner support for England's 2018 World Cup bid by sourcing a pair rhinoceros skinned stilletos for Sepp Blatter's wife.
I've also been providing voice coaching for Katie Waissel but to no avail.
Well the reason that I'm including a post here, albeit a day late is to wish every American I know including, and in no particular order, my work colleague Parker (yes that's his real name), Ron Jeremy (see photo), a couple of ex-girlfriends, their friends and their friends friends - there's only one girl for me now ;o) - and Barack himself, a very, very happy Thanksgiving!
Enjoy your turkey, pumpkin pie and reparations to the Native Americans.
I will be writing to the other 389 celebrities on my list soon as I have recently recieved a batch of 600 envelopes and would like to put out an S.O.S plea (as ABBA did) since I am currently searching for hardy souls with strong wrists who enjoy addressing envelopes.
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Fortunately these knavish plans were frustrated and David Cameron has again telephoned Barack Obama, presumably to inform him that the Derbyshire area is not worth visiting. He might also have told him that the UK and the US will continue to stand together to prevent angry men from the Arabian Peninsular blowing us all up.
I have also noticed on television tonight, that an American 'Football' aka 'gridiron' match is taking place at Wembley Stadium, or as I like to call it, the Flatfoot Stadium (it has a fallen arch).
The Denver Broncos are taking on the San Francisco 49'ers approximately 5,000 miles away from home. Personally if I wanted to watch grown men hurling themselves around the place in ridiculous outfits I'd watch Ninja Warrior, but judging by the packed stands it seems that plenty of us Brits are fans of this most American of sports and....well, anything that plays it's part in transatlantic harmony is fine by me.
President Barack Obama is soon to discover how popular he is in his home country as the American's go to the polls for their mid-term elections in a couple of weeks time. I'm not sure what the general mood is over there right now or whether the Democrats will be trounced by the Republicans, the Libertarians, the Tea-Party, the Karaoke Mob or anyone else but I'm just hoping that my flag will have 100 signatures by 2012 otherwise I'm going to have to find a new rhyming title for the project.
Anyway aside from all that, may I be the first person to wish you all a very Happy Halloween/ All-Saint's Day/ Samhain or watever else you call it in your own personal coven.
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
And I say 'manifold' because I love using that word.
Richard becomes the first individual from my list of 500 to have come to my aid twice, the previous time was when he tried to help me win a bet against a friend by shaking my hand in 2005 – it’s a long story (which is available for £9.89 on Amazon)
Having recently finished filming the latest series of Merlin, Richard’s agent Deborah, who turned out to be equally delightful, contacted me to tell me that I would be welcome to catch up with him at their offices in Soho where he would sign my flags.
And so yesterday morning following a healthy bran-based breakfast, which is irrelevant to this story, I found myself walking around Soho’s relatively empty streets at 10.45am. I say empty, there were a few burly, tattooed men who were rolling metal barrels towards pub basements, a couple of media types who had presumably overslept and 47-odd builders who were obviously required to dig up a two meter stretch of Berwick Street.
As I was a few minutes early and a little nervous, I toyed with the idea of knocking back a cheeky glass of whiskey in a local pub but then thought better of it, largely because the pub hadn’t yet opened and I didn’t fancy being arrested under section 9(1)(a) of the Theft Act 1968.
And so I made my way to the front door of the agency that represents Richard ie Conway van Gelder – which sounds like the name of an equine surgeon from Ghent but isn't - an unassuming doorway on an unassuming street, where pressing the buzzer had little effect....Three times.
And so just as the capillary in my eyelid was starting to flicker with stress I glanced up the road to see a man in a smart Crombie overcoat, shades and a scarf walking towards me and that this man was Richard.
I momentarily feared that he would suspect me of hovering outside the building on purpose in an attempt to pounce and catch him off guard, so after I had mouthed ‘Richard’ to him and he had responded by stating “aah you must be the man with the flags” in a familiar Scottish brogue, I quickly allayed those fears by apologising for being early and informing him that no one had responded to the buzzer.
He then pressed it himself, again no answer, which was followed by a slightly awkard little conversation between the two of us while we waited for someone to realize that we were there. If memory serves topics included Conway Van Gelder’s office move, Harry Potter films and sleet.
Fortunately, Richard is far more alert than I am since after a minute or so of us loitering around Broadwick Street like a warmly dressed Russian tourist and his son, he spotted the sign that I had missed and which read “During office hours please use the buzzer in the front hallway”.
As a result, I soon found myself in the slightly surreal position of being crammed into one of those gated lifts - a lift where even the shortest Mbuti Pygmy would have been grumbling about a lack of space - whilst standing cheek by jowl to a man whom I had last seen playing an Arthurian magician in a BBC medieval fantasy drama.
We entered the Conway offices on the second floor and Richard immediately displayed his down to earth and playful streak, informing the lady on reception, who clearly recognized him that he was seeking agent representation.
“Have you acted before?” she asked.
“A little bit, I’m classically trained though. I went to RADA.”
“Have you been in anything I might have seen?”
“No” he replied “but I’m very good.”
At that stage I decided to enter the charade
“He is actually very good. I’ve seen some of his work. I can vouch for him,” I interjected but our game was cut short when his agent Deborah appeared and offered to represent him for a nominal commission before offering me a cup of tea which was declined.
The flag signing ceremony was then carried out with the minimum of fuss, I ask Richard for his views about America and the American people and he was broadly supportive, stating that he hadn’t been there as often as he would have liked, always enjoyed trips to New York and wished he could go more often. His view on the so-called ‘special relationship’ between the US and the UK– the subject matter for my book – was that there was an should be an intrinsic bond between the two countries stemming from a share of common language and ideals.
As he signed the flag, he noticed Jeffrey Archer’s message on it and opted for a more conciliatory epigram before moving on to the second ‘Jack’ the one to be auctioned off for charity and simply marked it with his signature as directed.
I thank Richard Wilson whole-heartedly for once again being kind enough to receive me and my slightly odd request and hope that a snowball that has been nudged towards the edge of a cliff will soon start to gather further momentum.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
That is in no way a perjorative poke at SAF's boozing habits, he would be the first to admit that he often partakes of a cheeky glass of Beaujolais Nouveau (or indeed a Beaujolais Vieux), and that reminds me of the birthday card that have I just this very day bought for my dad who celebrates a pretty hefty round number in the next few days.
It is, perhaps, lacking in subtlety somewhat, but will hopefuly make him smile.
Well anyway, whilst a statistically significant number of the 87 or so 'celebrities' that have so far received my letter have not found the need to respond, at least Sir Alex was kind enough to make me aware that he wouldn't be able to help me on this (or probably any other) occasion.
A communication sent to me hot from United's Carrington Training Ground, courtesy of young Rachel, read:
Dear Julian Further to your letter to Sir Alex Ferguson CBE. As you can imagine, we are inundated with requests for Sir Alex to sign items and unfortunately we are unable to assist with your request on this occasion. Yours sincerely Rachel Cxxxxx
I say 'young' Rachel, but that is merely a guess. However, I wouldn't be surprised if one's looks got someone a long way in applying for that particular job. What do I mean by that? I'm not really sure.
Incidentally, the crosses that form part of Rachel's surname above, were certainly not her signing off with kisses.
Just as well as were she ever to clasp eyes on me in some trendy bar in Didsbury, she might choke on her Jagerbomb. I have the sort of face that only a mother could love...and pretty short-sighted mother at that. So no, I have simply blanked out much of her surname to protect the young lass's anonymity.
On the plus side I will, next week, be meeting Sir Richard Wilson (OBE? I'm not sure) as he prepares to become the latest of the 500 to sign the flags.
So it's not all doom and gloom!
Friday, 8 October 2010
If truth be told I don’t really have an encyclopedic knowledge of art, my knowledge could probably be summed up on a small pamphlet, but I do know that the good ‘ole US has had its fair share of revered painters.
There’s that guy who did prints of Marilyn Monroe and soup cans, the one who dribbled paint onto canvass in random patterns and the one who depicted his mum in a rocking chair….oh and someone else did a painting of a man with a pitchfork.
Compare these to an ornate countryside scene by Constable, one of Turner’s roaring seascapes or an original Banksy and I think you’ll agree that we British have the edge.
Damien Hirst was the 95th most popular suggestion out of the several thousand names that were voted for by the GB public on Facebook, and so makes the list and was thus sent a letter by the hero of our story, a.k.a me.
I recently received this reply from a delightful lady by the name of Amie who presumably acts as an organiser of Damien’s affairs and who I quote:
I hope this finds you well.
I am writing on behalf of Damien Hirst to thank you for requesting his signatures for your flags. Unfortunately, Damien is currently unable to offer his involvement. He is currently completely inundated with projects and charitable causes to which he gives huge amounts of time and energy, plus he is abroad a lot at the moment with various projects. He is consequently not taking on any new projects at present.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for thinking of Damien and wish you all the best with your interesting project,
There you go, Damien and Amie find my project ‘interesting’, for which I am, in a manner of speaking, humbled.
I suppose I shall have to get a shift on sending out more of my letters, including to the five other artists on the list although tracking them down might not be that easy as David Hockney, I believe, lives in America, Chris Ofili, when he’s not hanging excrement onto gallery walls, is currently residing at an undisclosed location in the Caribbean and Banksy is a riddle wrapped inside an enigma enclosed in a bandana and hooded top and I've no idea who he is never mind how to write to him.
So I guess I’ll have to try Tracey Emin and Bridget Riley then.
Thursday, 23 September 2010
I thought that the US First Amendment enabled one to label others as the personification of the male genitalia, but evidently not.
I have a feeling that Luke isn't overly bothered about his new-found restriction of movement within the US borders, he's probably too busy learning how to hotwire cars or shouting down the phone at exploited Polish Domino's Pizza workers in Luton for putting to much pineapple on his thin-crust Hawaiian.
I would never be so rude to President B.O. , largely becasue I'm still hoping that he'll agree to be interviewed for my book, where he can vent his spleen about British Petroleum and Luke Angel.
I've often found that Celebrity chefs are a great deal like London buses (they both use Oysters and are usually seen advertising things).
In other words, nothing for ages and then two come at once. I say that because just days after hearing back from Delia Smith, I now have a reply from Jamie Oliver. Well not actually from young James himself.
Bizzarely, I went to the extraordinary length of posting a letter in a post-box no more than 30 metres from his house (as it's also only several hundred metres from mine) - and yes I do know where he lives, and no, please no more emails from anyone asking me for "so-and-so's" contact details, do your own research.
This letter was presumably then whisked off to Mount Pleasant in Clerkenwell before being sent back to the same street where it was dispatched two days earlier.
Well I'd like to think that at the very least I'm keeping some poor member of the Royal Mail employed and so that's one extra postperson who's less likely to go on strike.
Actually yeah, you should all be thanking me for that.
Anyway an emailed response from no-one in particular, a.k.a 'The Enquiries Team', stated:
Dear Julian, Thank you for your letter. Jamie receives letters every day with requests for his involvement with many worthwhile causes, every one of which he would dearly love to support. As we are sure you can appreciate, unfortunately it is not possible for him to support them all.
He is currently involved with several charities, including his own; The Jamie Oliver Foundation, but due to time constraints from his busy schedule he is unable to meet with you with regards to your charitable organization. I am sorry Jamie cannot help you on this occasion, but we wish you every success for your very worthwhile cause.
I was going to respond that I don't own a charitable organization, but considered that to be a bit facetious and so have left it at that.
In any case, once again I am simply grateful to have received a reply.
Meanwhile in other news, I've recently learned how to make a white wine and lemon sauce for fried chicken escalopes. True story.
I'm now learning how to boil peas.
Sunday, 12 September 2010
These lyrics written by Marvin Gaye have absolutely nothing to do with this post, nor with the letter that I today received from the bank of England, but you know how it is when you get a song stuck in your head.
Mervyn King is the name of the current Governor of the Bank of England who was ranked 389th out of the 3,000 odd individuals who voted for me on Facebook. Mervyn King is also the name of an established English darts player who didn’t feature anywhere on the list, but on the bright side, he did win the 2004 World Masters.
Hence the mocked up photograph above of the economist Mr King playing ‘arrers, as kindly photoshopped by my good friend Michael.
I was actually thinking to myself that running a bank is actually a bit like playing darts, nothing to do with pricks sitting on the board or anything quite as crude as that, but to succeed in both you need to have a steady hand, a keen eye and an ability to drown out the remonstrations of the general public.
I received an email not three hours ago from a lady called Alexandra, basically because it was four hours ago. The email, which had an attachment, read:
"Please see the attached letter from Ed Drew.
I opened the attachment which was a pdf adobe acrobat thing and it had a photocopy of a letter that was written to me by Ed Drew.
The letter read:
"Dear Mr Segal,
Thank you for your letter to The Governor regarding the Union Jack for Barrack which he has asked me to respond to on his behalf. He hopes your project goes well, but regrets he is unable to be involved.
With best wishes,"
This seems a slightly roundabout way of informing me of the Governor's decision but perhaps they are saving on stamps.
This reply to the negative from one banker does not fill me with much hope of receiving an affirmative response from the only other bank who scraped into the top 500, a certain Fred Goodwin......
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Not because I once had a horrific dietary experience on a narrow boat as I floated past the glittering jewel of East Anglia but because its football team play in a citron and emerald strip.
As I’m sure that you already know, famous food-preparer and mouth-piece of Waitrose, Delia Smith currently acts as the Chair(wo)man of Norwich City FC, obviously a natural profession for a chef to go into.
A lady called Jane writes:
Thank you for your recent letter to Delia, which I acknowledge.
Delia has recently returned from her summer break and now continues with her commitments to Waitrose, among many other things. Sadly this does mean that we are currently unable to turn to her personal correspondence until her diary allows.
With kind regards
I’m not entirely clear whether that means that her diary may allow us to meet at some stage in the future or not but I don’t want to labour the point so it is probably a case of don’t call them, they’ll call me.
Friday, 3 September 2010
But it was nice of team Robbie to reply.
He ranked 17th out of the 3,121 famous Britons who were voted for and I've got to say that he is my favourite of the former Take That members.
I've 'got to' say it because he's the only one who made the list of 500 and therefore is the only one who is likely to ever stumble across this website although that's probably unlikely itself.
Anyway the email from Sarah read as follows:
Thank you for your recent letter.
As I’m sure you can imagine, we are inundated with requests such as yours and therefore, charitable efforts (including autographs) are given only to raise money for 3 chosen charities; Unicef, Donna Louise Hospice and ‘Give it Sum’. ‘Give it Sum’ is an umbrella organisation of personally selected charities that Robbie wishes to benefit....
We are very aware how frustrating this must be, however we do hope you can understand our position.
We wish you all the very best in the future.
So it was nice to know that at the very least, I got Robbie's contact details correct. I was much pleased to get the response, forgiving the fact that the words 'Dear Julian' were in a different font size to the rest of the email and hence were probably slapped onto an existing standard response.
Despite the fact that I was informed about the three charities that this young man of Stoke currently represents, I know that his fund-raising efforts go over and above this triumverate. I know this because I recently read that he's going to be performing a charity concert for Help for Heroes, the charity that I'm representing, later this Autumn and I have a feeling that he's likely to raise just a bit more money than for them than I do.
As for me, I off for a wet week in Italy. Quite literally 'wet' in fact, since the weather report of the US Airforce's 21st Operational Squadron tells me so.
Oh well, non è l'estremità del mondo.
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Before writing to her all I knew was that she’s a journalist, perhaps slightly left of centre and that she once put the kettle on, but that’s as far as my knowledge went.
I have since done my homework and have suckled up to the bosom of mother Wikipedia learning, amongst other things, that her real name is Mary, in 2007 she scooped up the ‘Columnist of the Year’ gong at the British Press Awards and that she once worked in a burger bar.
Not only has she replied to my recent letter but she also stuffed a £25 quid cheque into the envelope made out to the charity that I am working with on this project, Help for Heroes. What an absolute star!
The fact that she also informed me that she wouldn’t be able to meet me to sign the flags due to her ‘hectic’ life right now, didn’t ruffle my feathers one jot.
I mean how could I be upset with one so benevolent, however outré their political views.
Ms Toynbee, I salute you.
(and hope you got my follow up email)
Friday, 27 August 2010
Question- what do the following ten individuals have in common:
John Craven - Former Newsround host and current discusser of rural matters.
Desmond Morris - Zooologist, ethologist(?), authour, TV presenter and surrealist painter.
James May - TV Presenter and driver.
John Simpson - BBC Journalist and foreign correspondent.
Peter Jones - Entrepeneur, businessman and Dragon.
Lisa Rogers - TV Presenter and siren.
Mervyn King - Governor of the Bank of England and namesake to darts player.
Dave Gorman - Comedian and author.
Gaby Roslin - Radio host.
Fred Goodwin - Much lambasted former bank manager.
No, they’re not all about to be called up by Fabio Capello to fill the troublesome position on the left hand side of the England midfield. The answer is that they too will have all received my letter within the next few days.
It hasn’t escaped my attention that I’m having to pin a large amount of faith on agents, press officers, personal assistants and publicists at the moment. Whether or not they are actually passing my letters on to their clients I have no idea. I frequently envisage some harassed young lady picking up a phone to one of the 500 and saying something like “you’ve just been sent this really weird letter from a guy who wants you to sign a flag….”
At least I hope that’s what they’re saying, they may of course just be chucking my unopened epistle straight in the bin.
I have now sent just under 100 of the 500 letters and replies have been only slightly above the 10% mark which is a little bit disappointing but then I’ve learnt that these things tend to snowball with publicity so that’s nothing that a four page spread in the Metro can’t cure although we'll have to wait until all of these cats in bins stories die down so theres a little bit of space.
Right, I’m off to join the Mary Bale lynch mob.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
It was, of course, spawned from the show Little Britain, a programme headlined by Matt Lucas and the aforementioned Mr Walliams and one that featued other side-splitting catchphrases such as "I'm a lady" and "I don't like it".
Brilliant, how do they think of them?
Anyway, on this occassion it appears that David (see above), doing his worst impression of the Man from Delmonte, also says 'no'.
The email from his assistant Lucy, who was kind enough to reply, stated:
"Dear Julian, Thank you for your letter to David Walliams regarding the Union Jack for Barack. He hopes your project works well, but regrets he is unable to be involved. Best wishes...."
I think it's time to send out some more of my letters.
Thursday, 12 August 2010
From now on I am only going to be eating products that contain "l. casei immunitas" or "ylang-ylang" or "bifidus digestivum" or other words that have been made-up by overpaid advertisers.
I wonder if stage, screen and TV actor Richard Wilson has high cholesterol?
I hope not. I wouldn't wish clogged arteries on anyone, even my worst enemy (aka Darryl). No-one should be forced to suffer jogging or mung bean casseroles. Richard is miles from being my worst enemy, quite the opposite actually because after answering this latest call to arms, I could almost call him a friend. In fact I'm increasingly becoming beholden to him as once again he's agreed to help me in my hour of need.
Let me take you back four years, to a time when Lily Allen was just another unknown precocious teenager and bankers hadn't spoiled the world. It was at that time, on my last project, that Richard was prepared to meet me outside the New Wimbledon Theatre in order to shake my hand, purely to try and help me to win a bet. He was playing Buttons in Cinderella if memory serves. All rather surreal.
Well once again, this extremely genuine and down-to-earth man is going out of his way to assist, his PA Janet phoning to tell me that he'd be happy to do so and I am now awaiting his agent Deborah co-ordinating a date for Richard to sign the flag.
Many thanks again owed to one and all.
Friday, 6 August 2010
I do, but then, I'm old.
He once sung a song called "Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3", which to be brutally frank isn't the greatest ballad of all time, but that's irrelevant, I only mention it because I have several reasons to be cheerful today including:
- The football season (English not American) started this evening, albeit only with the relatively turgid affair of Norwich v Watford, but on the bright side this means that the Premier League will also be arriving in short order.
- Chilli peppers have started to appear on the chilli plant on my balcony meaning that I'll soon be able to save £1.97 on my weekly grocery shop. During these harsh economic times that is something which is not to be sniffed at (a bit like the Glade Plug-in Bamboo and White Fresia© air freshner in my living room, I've learned).
- Boris Johnson has become the latest from my list of '500 Iconic Britons' to sign my flag.
- I have learned how to use the 'bullet point' function on Blogger.
- The Mayor of London only signed one of my two flags ie the one being auctioned off for Help for Heroes and not the one which is going to be sent to Barack Obama. This may be due to the fact there's a little bit of previous between the two men see here or perhaps simply because what I am doing could be termed 'political' and being a politician himself, the Mayor didn't think it appropriate to get involved in that part of my project and
- I wasn't actually present for the signing of the second flag, which probably explains why the pictures above and below are of far better quality than most of the others on here.
Sadly I have a day job that involves finding jobs for lawyers, I'm sorry about that, someone's got to do it, and so the second course of action was deemed more preferable.
It was, though, signed and it goes without saying that I'm incredibly grateful to the Mayor and am equally grateful to his assistants Ann and Rebecca for helping to sort out all of the logistics.
In other news, I was informed the other day by a friend of mine that I have the writing style of someone with Aspergers Syndrome to which I replied that so does Mark Haddon and it didn't do him any harm (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time won the Whitbread prize in 2003).
Sunday, 1 August 2010
Louis Susman, although sounding like a friend of my fathers, is actually the US Ambassador to the UK, or so I have been led to believe, and therefore I am guessing that he lives in that grand central London house adjoined to that huge, verdant garden (commonly known as Regents Park).
Several weeks ago I was informed by Jeffrey Archer’s helpful PA Alison that the author and former MP would be willing to sign my flags (the other one will eventually be auctioned off by Help for Heroes) and so last Tuesday, I made my way to Vauxhall tube station before taking a short mid-morning stroll to Jeffrey’s stunning apartment, narrowly avoiding having my head crushed like a melon under the wheels of a London Duck Tours amphibious vehicle that veered sharply out of an alleyway by the Thames.
On arrival I was directed by the porter up to the penthouse flat where I was met by Alison who ushered me into a gloriously sunlit and cream coloured apartment that had floor to ceiling views along the river and from where one could take in the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, or if you looked hard enough and were that way inclined, the Ferrier Council Estate in Kidbrooke.
Jeffrey entered the room soon thereafter and clearly didn’t remember me from our previous meeting which was at a time when I was engaged on a similar charity-related project – ‘Greeting the 500’.
I’m quite convinced that he didn’t remember me because on asking him “Jeffrey do you remember that we previously met when I was engaged on a similar charity-related project – Greeting the 500?” he replied “No.”
Well anyway I gave him a brief background as to this frolic that I am currently engaged in and it seems as though he has quite staunch views on the subject because after I had mentioned words like ‘Obama’ and ‘Special Relationship’, he mentioned a few choice words of his own which I shan’t repeat here.
So then, as the muted video above displays, we arranged the flag on his elegant white-wooden dining table…ash perhaps…possibly beech, taking care to place a copy of a newspaper under the flag, since my magic marker pen has been the cause of many a staining accident in the past and Jeffrey then signed it with a message to Barack.
Jeffrey’s message was just two words (and not those two words). In my opinion his message was apt, concise and humorous and I’m not going to tell you what they were right now, you’ll just have to by my book if it ever comes out - or else magnify the photograph at the bottom of this post.
I was recently furnished with the home address of Jamie Oliver by my girlfriend’s sister’s husband who once did a bit of handywork for Jamie and his wife, I think he rustled them up a salad or something, so I am now off to prepare one of my standard begging letters for this ‘iconic’ celebrity chef. I will of course keep you, my ever faithful reader (singular) in the loop.
Ok Jacqui :)
PS Here's Jeffrey with the flag taken at a jaunty angle
Saturday, 24 July 2010
A journalist by the name of Alexander Chancellor, writing in the Guardian newspaper (not known for being the most Ameri-friendly of organs) posed this question:
"Britain has only one 'Special Relationship'. The US has many. What does that tell us?"
I appreciate that this headline was rhetorical in nature but I shall answer it. It tells us that Britain needs to get out more. We are, according to the guy I just mentioned, "like the faithful spouse of a philanderer".
Here in Blighty we are fast becoming the Millwall of Europe if not the world. However, whilst angry men in dusty caves burn the US and UK flags, they still drink coke, wear US labelled clothing and presumably yearn for a day where they might be free to live in a place like New York.
None of them drive mini coopers or wear Fred Perry tops. The French don't like us and I don't think the Spanish or the Germans care for us all that much either. The Aussies positively hate us, most people in the third world view us as a monsterous faded imperialist behemoth, we can't even get along with each other over Hadrian's Wall and Offa's Dyke.
So perhaps we should be starting to try and make new friends.
I believe that Mr Cameron was offered the same warm greeting as accorded President Medved several weeks ago when he visited the White House. David was likewise taken out for lunch by his US hosts although it was only to a Little Chef where he had egg, chips, mushrooms, black pudding and a cup of tea.
All in all the trip was a huge success, particularly the bit where the PM stated that the UK should be seen as the 'junior partner' to the US as we were in 1940 against the Nazis (America didn't actually enter the war until 1941).
But apart from this minor fawning and confusion over his dates, he did remain firm on the BP and Lockerbie questions although he made it quite clear that he was totally against Al-Megrahi's release at the time, which would surely have gone down very well with his hosts.
So all in all, bonds have been re-affirmed, and ties re-strenghtened, President Obama again declaring that the US has "no closer ally and no stronger partner" (I bet he says that to all the heads of state).
For now, I shall leave you with the words that our eminent leader wrote in the Wall Street Journal on the eve of this trip:
"No other international alliance seems to come under the intense scrutiny reserved for the one between Britain and the United States. There is a seemingly endless British preoccupation with the health of the special relationship. Its temperature is continually taken to see if it's in good shape, its pulse checked to see if it will survive. I have never understood this anxiety.
The US-UK relationship is simple: it's strong because it delivers for both of us. The alliance is not sustained by our historical ties or blind loyalty. This is a partnership of choice that serves our national interests. Yes, it always needs care and attention, but it is resilient because it is rooted in strong foundations."
He also described himself as "unapologetically pro-America", saying he "loved" the US and "what it's done for the world", great news for me since I am now utterly convinced that he will sign the flag....
Monday, 19 July 2010
Neither did I. Apparently he is the President of the European Union. I wasn't even aware that the European Union had a President.
He is from a country in Europe known as Portugal, a country where national banks go 'pop' in the night and where people like to fry everything in olive oil.
I am aware of the latter since I observed first hand the dietary habits of a young Iberian couple whom I recently ejected from my flat. The lady of the partnership, who was generally in charge of cooking, would fry things on such a high heat that the paint on the wall behind my hob has now blistered off. However, this is not why I ejected them.
Jose Manuel Borroso, whose first name should have an acute accent that I am not sure how to perform on here, has stated that America's "transatlantic relationship" with the EU is not "living up to its potential".
He went on to say "I think we should do much more together. We have conditions like we have never had before and it would be a pity if we missed the opportunity."
I find it slightly depressing that American now has a 'relationship' with the EU too. Hot on the heels of the wining and dining of Russia's President (without the wine) by President O, Continental Europe now suggests that they too have something good going on with the yanks.
I wish everyone would stop muscling on our own cosy little coupling with the US, after all, if we all share the bed and the little one says roll-over, one might fall out, and I fear it might be us.
Hopefully Prime Minister Cameron, or Big Dave C (as he insists I call him), will get everything back on track when he jets over to D.C. next week.
Saturday, 17 July 2010
Right: Amir Khan with a flag (not my flag) I therefore did a little bit of dabbling on Ebay recently, not that I ever understand what to do on that lord forsaken website - I almost ended up with a Union Jack scatter cushion - but lo, it came to pass that after correctly bidding and winning the two items pictured above, 'stella-comm (97499 * )' sent me said items in the post the other day, meaning that Jeffrey Archer will now have something to actually sign on 27th July when I turn up at his apartment...so that's fortunate. More to the point, last night I actually received my first email as a direct result of this website, by someone who had cleverly spotted the 'contact me' tab in the right hand column. Dan, who if memory serves hails from Oxford, informed me that the flag that actually adorns this website left, right and centre, ie the flag that I have just bought and will be trapesing around the country with for as long as it takes, is not actually a 'Union Jack' but is in fact called the 'Union Flag'. He then started banging on about ships or something.
(Left: Geri Halliwell wearing a flag - again not mine, more's the pity)
Well as far as I'm concerned, this flag is the Union Jack, primarily because I'll be damnned if I'm going to spend another £5.98 on an online auction.
Saturday, 10 July 2010
You see once upon a time, not so long ago - six days to be exact - I mentioned that many of the 500 iconic British individuals on my list had not replied to me, largely because they hadn't yet received my letter nor had a clue about what I was doing.
Therefore, as of tomorrow I will be sending out my letters to the following strange bedfellows:
John Cleese Catherine Tate Nick Faldo Gail Porter William Hague John Barrowman Ricky Gervais David Milliband Terence Conran David Walliams Colin Montgomerie Richard Wilson Gary Bushell Kate Winslett Damien Hirst Delia Smith Professor Stephen Hawking Rebecca Adlington Andrew Motion Kelly Holmes Polly Toynbee Bill Oddie David Haye Johnny Vegas Robbie Williams Maggie Smith Callum Best David Mitchell Steve Ryder Julie Etchingham
I'm not going to pretend that this list of names has been arranged in an odd, traffic-light colour coordinated scheme for any particular reason, ie that those in green are likely to reply and those in red aren't....I just think it looks pretty.
And yes I am heterosexual, not that there's anything wrong with blah blah blah
So the important question, other than whether I've spelled 'professor' correctly, is will any of these illustrious 30 actually get back to me.
Who knows or dares to dream.
Well, me actually.
Sunday, 4 July 2010
Other than a slightly mawkish film featuring William Smith saving the world from aliens, Independence Day also signals the day that them over their rid themselves of us over here, for that was the day that they finally cast of their shackles and freed themselves from the yoke of British tyranny, for want of a better cliche.
All rather apt really, as last night I was trying to free one of my t-shirts from the yolk of a hard boiled egg that had seen a toasted soldier forcibly shunted into it.
My project, as you may or may not be aware (you would be aware if you'd read my earliest post) is designed to help me research my next book which will be examining the US/UK 'special relationship' or 'spec ral' as I might start calling it, largely because I'm tired of typing those 19 letters on my blog and am now feverishly trying to cut corners.
Currently 4 of the 500 UK celebs on my list, a list chosen by you the Great British public, on Facebook, have agreed to sign the flag that will be sent to Barack Obama.
I am soon going to send out a fresh batch of letters to some of the other 500, since only 30 or so of my letters have been dispatched so far and I'm definitely of the opinion that one of the things currently preventing some of these British singers, actors, athletes, newsreaders, politicians, magicians, artists etc etc from signing the flag is that they don't have the first clue about what I'm doing...
In the meantime I'd like to wish every American that I know, and some of the other 350 million that I don't know, a very very happy 4th of July!
Well done for getting rid of us and please gain comfort in the knowledge that if you hadn't done so, you too would now be suffering cricket, morris dancers, pot noodles and James Corden.
Thursday, 1 July 2010
I am informing you of this having just received the following email from a kindly lady named Ann who works out of the Mayor’s office. Incidentally, I’m not sure why writing the expression ‘who works out of the Mayor’s office’ makes me think of Gotham City and Batman, but it does.
"Dear Mr Segal,
The Mayor is always happy to sign items for charity. His diary is very full and we are unable to facilitate a specific meeting for the purpose.
Please send or leave the flag at City Hall for signing with full details and we will be happy to arrange to have the flag signed."
So that's all good then, President Obama will at some stage in the future, be reading a message on a flag that has been directed to him by the Mayor of London.
I will have acted as the human fulcrum in this conveyance.
Monday, 28 June 2010
Well I say ‘had lunch with’, we were sat at the adjoining table to Abi outside a leafy boozer in Hampstead. Abi had just been for a walk on the Heath with an extremely cute little dog that turned out to be called ‘Danny’. The poor little fella must have exhausted itself pegging around in the heat of the day and spent part of the time sleeping on my shoe under the table as I tucked into my asparagus and poached egg and lamented what further damage the yolk would be doing to my cholesterol.
Abi, who I might add was an absolute delight, informed us that Danny was a rescue pup and she had just received the results of a gene test to ascertain its background since it was clearly a cross-breed. Apparently the little tyke has no less than 4 different lineages including Yorkshire Terrier, St Bernard, ummm Cocker Spaniel I think, and I can’t remember the other one. So basically somewhere, somehow, a Yorkshire Terrier got frisky with a St Bernard which is something of a neat trick on both of their parts. As a result, Danny is officially more ethnically diverse than Tiger Woods.
Well anyway, enough about Abi Titmuss’s puppy, more to the point I fear that I lost my nerve whilst chatting to her and didn’t mention anything about President Obama, a Union Jack flag, Help for Heroes or her being on a list of ‘500 iconic Britons’ because I didn’t want to harass her mid rocket and celeriac salad. I will, though, use our brief meeting as an opening gambit when I write to her agent Adam in the next few days.
So after the highs of a pleasant lunch at the Wells (pictured above), the lows of a stuttering, stumbling, fumbling performance by Messrs Wazza, Hezza, Bazza, Upzza, Coley, John Terry etc against Germany yesterday afternoon when Fazza Capello seemed at a loss to explain our dramatic loss of form.
For me the tournament is of very little interest now, so whether Brazil thrashes Argentina 5-3 in the most spectacular final ever witnessed or whether Spain scrapes a 1-0 victory over Holland after extra time, Iniesta crashing the winner home on 116 minutes, I personally couldn’t give a flying fig.
Although I might put a little wager on the latter.
Saturday, 26 June 2010
According to Mr Hastie:
"...The First Minister receives a great many requests and which puts considerable pressure on his diary. Unfortunately on this occasion, the First Minister will be unable to sign the flag."
I don't wish to sound overly pedantic here but I believe the word 'and' was somewhat redundant in the first sentence.
Anyway very good of him to get back to me, even if it was another 'no'. This 500 Celebrity flag-signing project is proving quite tricky already. Ok so DJ Mike Mendoza and author Jeffrey Archer will be signing the flag in the coming weeks, but Clare Balding, Mike Leigh, David Attenborough, Paul Smith, and Alex Salmond won't be. That's a 28.571% success rate I have so far from those who have answered, which if replicated across the board, should still see me get the 100 messages to send to President Obama.
Well what was slightly disconcerting, however, was that the envelope in which this letter was sent to me included both my first and middle names. I have no idea how they found this information out, nor why the Scottish Government would want to display to me that they could garner such knowledge, possibly by rooting through my bin bags, but I felt momentarily violated.
Particularly as they were kind enough to return my s.a.e. to me unused meaning that I save 45p from my next letter.
Right I'm off out to buy lunch for my sweetheart.........So Subway it is.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
As of the other day, I am officially not allowed to eat anything enjoyable ever again which basically comprises anything of an animal or anything through an animal (ie excreted from its boob or ovary).
My own personal favourites include salami, whipped cream, pate and fried eggs, which tends to make a bit of a mess on the plate, but all of these are strictly verboten now.
My doctor ordered me to have a cholesterol test the other day and I'm not saying that my cholesterol level is high, but put it this way, when I graze my arm, cream comes out. My reading is 6.8 as I recall, meaning that techincally you could grease a chip-pan with my tears.
Even more terrifying, I have to soon start excercising and I've been told that raising a pint pot to my chubby, buttery lips doesnt count as 'increasing the heartrate'.
Barack presumably has no such problems since yesterday he scoffed an incredibly unhealthy sounding burger with President Medvedev of Russia (who's obviously come a long way since his tennis playing days) as the two attempt to forge out a new, all-improved 'Special Relationship'.
Are we British being sidelined here or what? It's like your best mate and your girlfriend, who don't really know each other going to Brighton for the weekend without inviting you. I mean what is all this?
Pres. O (no doubt cheering on the inside for his table topping football team - well done them), apparently went for a Cheddar Cheeseburger with onion, lettuce, tomato and pickles and an ice tea, the discerning choice for any leader of the free world, whilst his counterpart also had a cheeseburger, although with jalapenos and mushrooms. Medvedev drank a coke.
And they shared some fries.
Aah how sweet.
I would give my right aorta, complete with its sludgy, furry lining, to have a meal like that right now.
PS well done Defoe, more of the same please.
Sunday, 20 June 2010
Ok so I was wrong about the Algeria game and I suppose a flukey 1-0 victory was a little too much to ask for.
In the normal course of events I would now proceed to sharpen my pen and language and berate the likes of Wayne, Frank and Steve for being lame, figuratively not literally, yet I'm writing to all of them in the coming weeks asking them to scrawl on the flag for both President Barack and Help for Heroes, so...best not.
(Not, of course that they're likely to be reading this website, nor actually is anyone other than work colleague Sam and the ever loyal girlfriend 'Jacko').
Most recently out of the hat, I received a reply from fashion designer and Nottingham's favourite son (possibly after Bryan Clough, D.H.Lawrence, Kenneth Clarke or, erm, Jermaine Jenas) Paul 'Smudger' Smith.
Smithy, after learning of my project and giving it due consideration has decided to pass on this one.
I can't actually confirm that his nickname really is 'Smudger', nor why so many 'Smiths' seem to have that strange middle moniker bestowed upon them, but anyway an email from Nicole Abbott who works at the Smithy HQ in.....wherever it is, I can't actually remember where I wrote to, kindly bothered to get back to me by the medium of email. I quote:
Thank you very much for your letter to Paul Smith regarding signing the Union Jack Flags.
We have discussed this with him and although he would love to be able to help unfortunately it won’t be possible on this occasion due to his many other commitments – sorry.
Thank you very much for thinking of him and all the best for the project.
What a thoughtful and well crafted response. Nicole is a consumate professional. I bet unlike me, she doesn't lie on the couch most nights scratching her armpits and belching whilst listening to Alan Hanson deconstruct the Slovenian back four.
Another update soon.
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare - a lovely place, great mini-golf course as I recall -or Jeffrey Archer if you prefer, has agreed to sign the Union Jack flag with a message to President Obama.
Ooh, I wonder what he’ll write.
So yes, a kindly lady by the name of Alison, who acts as PA to Jeffrey, sent me a delightful email in which she mentioned, amongst other things that:
“Jeffrey would be happy to add his name to any flag that will be auctioned off for the Help for Heroes charity” (as will one of mine) and so I am in the process of co-ordinating a suitable time and place to meet said peer.
That meeting will be reported on in an exclusive update on this website once it has happened.
Exclusive because no-one else in the media has the slightest clue about what I’m doing...and you are the only person reading this
Monday, 14 June 2010
You’d never catch him shrieking “Crikey! Look at the fangs on that little fella” or contriving a scene where he got stung on the eye by a hornet for dramatic effect..Sir David is the model of professionalism. He’s the sort of person I’d have love to have had as a science teacher at school. He’s probably got loads of fascinating things in jars of formaldehyde, but more than that, I reckon his serene and avuncular nature would have made learning about the spectroscopic properties of haemoglobin anything but boring.
David was kind enough to pen me a short note in the response to the letter that I sent him the other day, asking if he’d be able to sign the ‘Jack’ for Barack.
To paraphrase it, and forgive me if this is slightly inaccurate, I’m at work right now and in theory should be telephoning Private Equity Lawyers to try and move them from job to job, but I believe that it said:
“Dear Jules Segal, please forgive me but I will not be available to sign your flag….”
I certainly forgive Sir David. He was kind enough to not only write a note, but to put it in an envelope (albeit the self-addressed envelope that I have included with all of the missives to the 500) and to post it in a letterbox..
What a thoroughly nice guy.
Sunday, 13 June 2010
I would like to advance the theory that in the spirit of getting the relationship back on track and in order to thaw out the frosty blanket that has lately been throttling the genteel accord that used to exist prior to ‘slick-gate’, Robert Green was instructed to tip the ball into his own net, Ledley King was instructed to pull a groin and Emile Heskey was instructed not to score.
The latter was achieved with the minimum of fuss.
And the middle one for that matter.
I have been ensured by Fabio Capello, in a late night conversation that I had with him just moments ago, that normal service will be resumed next Friday night and England will eke out a glorious and deserved 1-0 win against Algeria, Wayne Rooney scoring on 89 minutes with a shot that will be deflected in off Frank Lampard’s buttocks.
Friday, 11 June 2010
Best Wishes" Well never mind, a reply at least and I don't begrudge Mike ducking out of this one. He was kind enough to meet me on another foray several years ago (see category 'h' in the right hand column), so as far as I'm concerned, he's done his bit.
Monday, 7 June 2010
But enough about my own weight-gain problems, it seems that BP CEO Tony Hayward is in a spot of bother and will certainly have to come up with some slick manouvres if he doesn’t want to find himself tarred and feathered and run out of Dodge. Tarred and feathered, in fact, like much of the aquatic wildlife in Louisiana right now. I saw a photograph of a black slimy pelican the other day. Pelicans aren’t meant to be black and slimy. It made me sad.
President Obama has been lambasting British Petroleum left, right and centre in response. Tough on oil spills, tough on the causes of oil spills, although whether this is largely a knee-jerk reaction to the chorus of disapproving voices back at home, bemoaning his handling of the affair and his apparent inability to project anger, is unclear.
It seems that he is damned either way, a vast swathe of American’s, even the
On the flipside, when Barack does get nasty, emphasizing the word ‘British’ of British Petroleum in his speeches and spitting it out as if it was a cardamom pod hidden in a mouthful of pilau rice, everyone on this side of the Atlantic sits up, takes notice and berates the poor man. Boris Johnson, for example (who happens to be on my list of 500, so maybe I can question him on the subject if/when I meet him) recently stated:
“The best thing now is not to get into too much name-calling and buck-passing, and attempt to damage the reputation of a great British company, but to work together to sort it out,”
So whether B.O. should get nasty with BP or should cut them some slack, is open to anyone’s interpretation. I suppose his primary duty is to the interests of his nation and countrymen, but whatever one’s views on the subject happen to be, it seems that this is one story that is going to run and run.
….Much like the oil, sadly.
Monday, 17 May 2010
"Really? I didn't have you down as a fan of Gordon Brown." I replied.
"No not him, I mean the other one, Cameron something."
Anyway, no sooner had PM David waltzed through the door of number 10 then he got the obligatory call on the old dog. Nope, not the one from his mother Mary, asking him why he never called any more, or from Sketchleys telling him that they'd removed the gravy stain from his flannel suit, it was, of course, from Barack Obama.
I now quote the Daily Telegraph, not because I read it, but because it was the first result to come up when I typed "Obama" and "Special Relationship" into Google. It suggests that the US President 'reached out' to David Cameron (another tiresome use of that apalling expression) just minutes after he had been installed as the new PrimeMinister:
Mr Obama placed the call from his desk in the Oval Office, before a small pool of news photographers, in what amounted to one of Cameron's first official duties after taking over from Gordon Brown as prime minister.
"Today, I was pleased to call David Cameron to extend my personal congratulations for the successful campaign that he ran and for becoming the new British prime minister," Obama said in a written statement.
"As I told the prime minister, the United States has no closer friend and ally than the United Kingdom, and I reiterated my deep and personal commitment to the special relationship between our two countries - a bond that has endured for generations and across party lines."
Mr Obama said that relationship was "essential to the security and prosperity of our two countries, and the world."
Wow, he's got a pool in the Oval Office.
William Hague has since travelled to Washington DC to meet and greet Hillary Clinton for knee-jerk relationship-clarification duties and the two countries shall, it seems, continue to merrily suckle on the bosom of each other's friendship.
In other news, I have been informed that TV Sports Presenter Clare Balding will not be available to sign my Union Jack flag since BBC policy prevents her from doing so.
I believe it is the policy of the Beeb not to show any form of friendship towards Americans.
(Right: Clare and I in happier times)
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
I did, however, take the liberty of sending a couple of cursary emails to a handful of individuals from my list, well six actually, (so if you suffer from Polydactyly, that figure of speech still applies) and former talkSPORT DJ Mike Mendoza has stated that he will happily sign my flag with a message to Barack, stating in his response:
It will be a Pleasure
So that's one down and 499 to go...