Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Why Am I Doing This?

I'm aware that some people, ADHD sufferers for example, enjoy snappy soundbites and easily digestible information so before I get to the boring explanatory prose, let me first give you an answer to the above question in 6 basic bullet points:

1) I am an author who is writing a book about the USA / UK dynamic - the so-called 'Special Relationship'.

2) I'm doing this because whilst previously being an Ameri-cynic, I've recently become, for reasons explained below, a big fan of that country, its people and culture (what culture you may ask) and I'm interested to find out whether a majority of the British public share or oppose my view. I want to explore this dynamic and write about it.

3) I would dearly like to interview President Obama as research for my book and believe that, by sending him a British flag with the well-wishes of at least 100 of our country's high and mighty and not-so mighty (as voted for by members of the public on Facebook), in a slightly opportunistic way, he might be willing to indulge me in this fantasy. After all, it's not as if he has anything else to occupy himself with right now what with overseeing the policies of the Western world.

4) I've done something like this before and the formula seemed to work.

5) I would like to raise money for Help for Heroes.

6) I would like a Green Card.

And now here's slightly more waffling explanation:

In 1607 one hundred and three Englishmen set foot on American soil for the very first time. By 1775 their ancestors were sufficiently hacked off with us that they started a war that claimed the lives of 55,000 people.

140 years on, the two countries twice clubbed together to defeat zee Germans (and others) in other large-scale disagreements, since which time we have been led to believe that a ‘Special Relationship’ has developed between our two nations....Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, amongst others, have all told us so and therefore, I'm sure you'd agree, it must be true.

Fast forward to March 3rd 2009, and Gordon Brown was meeting none other than Barack Wayne* Obama in the White House where during the course of the conversation the latter announced the following:

"Great Britain is one of our closest and strongest allies. There's a link and a bond there that will not break."

"The relationship is not just important to me but is important to the American people"

"It is sustained by a common language, a common culture, our legal system which is directly inherited from the English system and our system of government, reflected in many of these same values. And, by the way, that's also where my mother's side of the family comes from."

The last line is somewhat irrelevant but what it does go to show, at least in the minds of Barack and Gordon, is that there remains a certain intrisic bonhomie between the Yanks and the Brits. Between our respective populations. I for one disagree and I shall tell you why.

About three years ago I had an Epiphany. I had her quite frequently in fact. That wasn't her real name, but for fear of reciving a writ of slander from the offices of Peter Carter-Ruck, I shall refer to her as such.....Or perhaps just 'E'.

E was an American girl and she was in fact the second American that I had dated in my somewhat chequered romantic past that you're not remotely interested in.

You see as a youngster, I wasn't the biggest fan of Americans. I deemed them to be vacuous, unworldly and slightly oafish, particularly in their strange ritual of wearing sandals over socks on the No. 74 from Putney to Baker Street, or the way they used the word 'holler' for 'shout'.

And for that matter, the way they did always seem to be hollering when you'd come across them, say, in the Aberdeen Angus Steakhouse in Picadilly Circus.

In other words back in the 80's, whilst my friends were banging on about the Red Hand Gang and Kit and how much they liked Nike shoes and Macdonalds and Carl Lewis, I was distinctly unimpressed and didn't see what the big attraction was with, what some angry people now term, the 'Great Satan'.

I have since grown up, if not mentally, and I now understand that it could be considered imprudent or childish, to condense an opinion about 375 million people into one sweeping polemic. As a result whenever I heard anyone espousing opinions such as "I hate Americans" or "American's are such *insert perjorative term here*....... ", particularly when it was within earshot of young E, I tended to get rather annoyed.

This seemed to happen quite frequently when we went out of an evening, particularly if such drunkards at the next table ever heard her speak. I therefore think we've come to a point where, perhaps egged on by the likes of Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Clarkson, there's a great swathe of the British population who don't really have much time for Americans at all.

Well anyway to cut a relatively short story even shorter, from hanging out with E and her friends for several years, I have now come to the decision that personally I love US folk and their shiney-eyed optimism, every single one of them (apart, perhaps, from Bernard Madoff, Charles Manson and a guy called Hector who once threatened me over a poker table in Las Vegas) and that really has been a complete U-turn for me.

I can confirm that they do on the whole get sarcasm and most of them tend to be pretty upbeat, despite what life might throw at them. They just seem to be far more cheerful than us.

We British, like the proverbial kilo of lemons in a blender, are getting ever more bitter and twisted. Take, as an example, this gleeful and complete character assassination of an aspiring 19-year-old travel writer (no, not me) by a bunch of vicious Guardian readers - Max gets severely grilled

We aren't, as some short-arsed French general (left) once said, a 'nation of shopkeepers' anymore, we seem to be a nation of haters.

So anyway, yes I'm now an Americo-phile and I may even elect to live there one day, marriage permitting. I'm writing my book about the 'Special Relationship' because I want to learn the truth about this oft-bandied cliche.

Is their really a deep-seated bond between the UK and the US and if so, why? Will we always fight shoulder to shoulder on the battlefield no questions asked? Can we always rely on each other for support? Will they side with us in the future Falklands War II? What are the rules of baseball? etc etc

I'm fascinated to know what the average Briton and American think about each others respective countries so please feel free to contact me with your views on the subject by clicking on the tab in the right-hand column.

As for my book, well if I truly want it to be a bestseller and to knock Marian Keyes' next offering about a woman who falls in love with a man who falls in love with her best friend, off the number one spot, I believe that I can do no better than to incorporate some quotes from Mr O himself. That would surely paper over the cracks of my literary shortcomings.

I am determined, in the course of my research, to go straight to the horse's mouth if you will, not, of course, that Barack would be at home leaping over fences around Aintree, and hopefully by sending him a 'flag of friendship' containing the goodwill messages from 100 British movers and shakers, I am unrealistically convincing myself that he will be so taken aback that he'll grant me an audience at the White House to answer my specific questions.

And then hell might freeze over.

*At least I think that's his middle name

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


Not many places yet as I've only just started........

View A Union Jack for Barack in a larger map

Monday, 22 February 2010

About Me

Hi I'm Jules, I live in North London and my day job is a headhunter. That doesn't mean that I lurk in the jungles of Equatorial Guniea, it means that I find jobs for lawyers from an office in Liverpool Street.

I used to work as a football journalist until my entire department was made redundant on September 10th 2001. However within 24 hours my own personal problems sort of paled into insignificance.

My first attempt at literature a frothy, lightweight affair called 'Greeting the 500' (currently found in various bargain buckets up and down the country as well as propping up my friend's baby's cot), was published by a fly-by-night organisation that subsequently went bankrupt and I maintain that this was in spite of my book and not because of it.

To date I believe that it remained only the second ever book to hit the shelves at Waterstones with absolutely no editorial input from it's publishers (the other one was Mao Tse-Tung's Little Red Book), as I believe my editor was too busy hiding under her desk from the bailiffs.

Nevertheless it was feted by the media and described as "A Rip-Roaring Rollercoaster of a Romp!"

By me.

I was occassionaly recognised whilst out an about...well once actually whilst in the beer garden of the Steeles Pub and that was by someone I went to school with. In fact once upon a time I had a large gay following.
But I managed to shake him off. (Thankyou. I'm here all week, try the veal)

My ambition is to one day live in America, preferably legally, or failing that in any other country that isn't forced to suffer Strictly Come Dancing, the 'Go Compare' advert and little children carrying large knives and referring to each other as 'bruv'.

Here is some more information.

Dislikes: Tomatoes, bunker shots, speed bumps, finding hair in my food, Frenchmen who love themselves (see T.Henry), 4-wheel drives in NW3, plane journeys, stubbing my toe, running up to a man next to my car who says “sorry the ticket’s already been issued”, noticing tubes in my roast beef, American sitcoms, going clothes shopping with anyone female, mouth ulcers, the Northern Line, ironing a shirt, ‘political correctness gone mad’, anyone who uses the expression 'political correctness gone mad', macaroni cheese, Andie McDowell's acting, having to hold in flatulence, the music of Chris de Burgh, any dog that’s smaller than a loaf of bread, being told by a robot on the phone to “listen to the following options”, being woken by someone clanking crockery in the kitchen, icy pavements.....

Likes: Luxury sherry trifle(Tesco), The Crystal Maze, England (or GB or UK) winning at anything, reading in the bath, general knowledge quizzes, the city of Sydney, making a nut flush on the river, drunkenly singing “the Fairytale of New York”, memories of watching TV on 13th May 1981, reading the column of Victor Lewis Smith, ginger hair and freckles (on women), the murder explanations on Johnathan Creek, being massaged anywhere other than the back and shoulders, any film starring Joe Pesci, the sound of the rain, LOST, Cutty Sark whiskey, using the word ‘discombobulated’, staring at pictures of Scarlett Johansson, the moment of relief after waking from a particularly vivid nightmare, finally dislodging the apple skin from between my teeth, In Bruges, seeing ethnically different people sharing a joke, sneezing.........

Contact Me

....I'm currently writing my second book. At present it's untitled but it will examine the supposed US-UK 'Special Relationship'. As part of my research I'm interested in your views on Americans and their sprawling nation.

If you have any interesting thoughts on our transatlantic bretheren, please let me know at
Is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down for them?

In fact you can contact me for any other reason if you like.

I don't know maybe you're trying to remember who sang 'Turning Japanese' or how to solve a simple quadratic equation for your Maths GCSE paper or perhaps you're upset that your grandaughter never phones or you've just been diagnosed with 'mononucleosis'. Hopefully I will be able to offer you words of succour in any of these instances.

In fact I'd particularly like to hear from you if:

a) Want to help me make a future TV show as I travel around the USA interviewing Barak Obama and other famous Americans about their impressions of the UK.

b) Look like Anna Friel and are at a loose end.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

It's All Just A Little Bit Of History Repeating Itself

Back in 2005 whilst trying to raise money for the RNIB (no not the lifeboat people, the Royal National Institute of the Blind), I wrote to 500 famous Britons to see if they'd meet me for no reason whatsoever other than to shake my hand and to help me prove a friend wrong. I needed to meet 100 out of the 500 of them in 6 months to win a bet.

As a result of this banal project I was labelled a "timewaster", an "attention seeker", a "poor man's Dave Gorman" (who he?), an "unoriginal star fornicator" (or words to that effect) and a "nobody who no-one really cares about", so thanks, mum, for that.

Well anyway, amazingly enough quite a few of the original 500 obliged (see below) and now I'm conducting a similar experiment to raise money for a very worthwhile charity Help for Heroes. However this time, the individuals will be meeting me for a very specific reason.

To find out why I'm doing this, I suggest that you read the posting entitled 'Why Am I Doing This?'

Meanwhile here are some of the kind people who met me for no particular reason last time:
Neil Kinnock - Politician
Nicholas Parsons - Actor

Toby Anstis - DJ
Nick Ross - TV Presenter
John Gordon Sinclair - Actor

Sir Tim Rice - Musicals
Lorraine Kelly - Chat Show Host
Jason Queally - Cyclist
Jamie Theakston - DJ
Chris Martin - Musician
Richard Hammond - TV Motor Expert
Jonathan Ross - Jack of all trades
Tony Hawks - Comedian/Author (not a skateboarder)
Gary Lineker - Footballer
Iain Banks - Author
Fiona Phillips - TV Personality
Alan Titchmarsh - Horticulturalist
Sir Patrick Moore - Astronomer
Bob Holness - Gameshow Presenter / Actor
Edith Bowman - DJ
John McCririck - Horse Racing Pundit

Mike Leigh - Movie Producer/Director
Richard Wilson - Actor
Lesley Garret - Opera Singer
George Galloway - Politician
Gary Bushell - Newspaper Columnist
Joe Pasquale - Comedian
Fiona Bruce - Newsreader
Claire Balding - Sports Presenter
Asad Ahmed - Newsreader
Carl Fogarty - Powerbike Racer
Sir Ranulph Fiennes - Polar Explorer
Bruce Oldfield - Fashion Designer
Lawrence Dalaglio - Rugby Player
Hugh Cornwell - Musician
Cherie Blair - Barrister/ExPM's Wife
John Motson - Football Pundit
Jonathan Edwards - Triple Jumper
John Francome - Jockey
David Suchet - Actor
Derren Brown - Illusionist
Anne Widdecombe - Politician
Tom Baker - Actor
Jeffrey Archer - Politician/Author
Sir Ian McKellen - Actor
Lisa Rogers - Beautiful TV Personality
Jimmy Carr - Comedian
Chris Tarrant - TV Presenter/DJ
Bill Kenwright - Theatre Emprasario
David Gower - Cricketer
Andrew Marr - Political Commentator
Ainsley Harriot - TV Chef