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DIARY Fishmonger, footballer, boxer, gallery curator

These are my retraining choices according to the Tories should my arts career go tits-up. I'm not impressed.

THE MOST poisonous thing about the Tories’ contempt for the arts in that notorious “Fatima retrain” advert is the fact she’s a ballerina rather than a rock’n’roll or pop singer.

A deliberate Cummingsism aimed at his core fodder  — blokes. My kind of age, the kind of people who think they still like the Clash but who have forgotten everything the Clash stood for, if they ever believed it in the first place.

“Bloody posh arty types, stop whining, get a proper job, they’ve all got rich parents anyway ...” To go with the “bloody middle-class students,” the “metropolitan elite,” the “unions betraying the working class by backing immigrants” and all the other shit which causes basically decent people to think and vote against their own interests and, yes, those of their class.

It is very clever. Divisive poison which needs exposing at every turn. There am I, who — sorry— doesn’t like ballet, needing a millisecond to reset my brain and think “Billy Elliot.” In instances like this, the hilarious responses from the arts world quickly got through to all but the most spectacularly single braincelled and it was scrapped. One-nil to us.

Incidentally, I’ve just completed the government’s retraining scheme survey. It suggests I become a fishmonger, a footballer, a boxer or an art gallery curator. And I am not making that up.

OK. Let’s go through these, least completely ludicrous first.


I could definitely survive in a world where it was all about the bass. Growing up in a port town and with more than 55 years experience as a sea angler I do, quite literally, know my plaice. I’m a dab hand with a filleting knife. I could be a sole trader and as I know a few of the local fishermen, I could probably get quite a brill deal.

There would be a ray of hope for me. I’m sure I wouldn’t completely flounder or skate on thin ice and the prospects would not be entirely, for me, grim. But my Robina would think my new career completely pollocks because she absolutely hates the smell of fish.

You should see me trying to get my catch from bag to freezer in our kitchen. It’s like trying to pass a cleanliness test set by a laboratory pathologist.

I love fishing, and I love fish. But I love my wife a lot more.

And I’m a fucking poet.


I absolutely love football as you all know but I’m 62 and have COPD.  At the age of 20, I was a fast, strong, fearless right back with absolutely no footballing ability or sense of co-ordination whatsoever.

It was a truly deadly combination, as my teammates at HSB Lancing (named after Gales HSB beer), will remember when I broke Dippy’s leg in two places and retired from the game for everyone’s safety.

No, Mr. Sunak, No. No to the power of an awful lot of A&E visits.

Sorry, Dippy. Again...


I am the very opposite of a violent person but, on occasions, have reluctantly had to respond to violence. Despite the COPD and the age difference I can relate to this one. If you’re serious, Sunak, I’ll give you 22 years, in the ring next week, winner takes all. You win, I join the Tory Party. I win, I become Chancellor. OK?

Art gallery curator?

In this scenario they are, presumably, shut, you useless, clueless dickheads. But leaving that little detail aside ...

When I told Robina this one she nearly collapsed with laughter. My knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the visual arts can be comfortably accommodated on an amoeba’s left bollock. You should see us in Venice. She’s in the Galleria something or other, I’m in Aldo’s Bar.

Bollocks to the Tories’ philistinism. Every Tuesday night at 8pm at I showcase a different performer on my page, keeping music alive. Next Tuesday it’s New York satirist Dean Friedman, serenading Robina and I on our 20th wedding anniversary. You can thank your lucky stars — he absolutely hates Donald Trump!


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