The viral hit of the last few days is a brilliant, hilarious and biting Brexit mash-up of film and actual words from Jacob Rees-Mogg cut to the backing of the Blur song Common People, written by Jarvis Cocker. Here the hook is Rees-Mogg declaiming, “I want to leave the Common Market, I want to leave the Customs Union too, Want to keep out foreign people like you”. Rees-Mogg even gave it a lofty nod, although pointing out that he’d never say, "alright" for "all right".

Cocker wrote the song about an unpleasant woman he met when he was studying at art school in London and, according to evidence uncovered by my army of sleuths, the subject is Danae Stratou, wife of former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who resigned over the EU-imposed conditions for a fiscal bailout of the country. Varoufakis, who has since denied his wife is the featured target – well he would, wouldn’t he? – is standing in the May European elections for the Democracy in Europe movement.

Consider the evidence. Cocker sings: “She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge.” Stratou is Greek, obviously. “She studied sculpture at St Martin’s College.” She went there at the same time as Cocker. “She told me her Dad was loaded.” Her father owns, or owned, Greece’s largest textile industry. The case ... er ... rests.

Stratou doesn’t confirm or deny being the subject, saying only: “You’ll have to ask Jarvis Cocker.” And he claims he can’t remember who it was about. A gentleman never tells, of course.

What they’d both agree, I’m sure, is that the Rees-Mogg video, created by a genius by the moniker of Joe, is brilliant. Just Google "Rees-Mogg common people video" if you fancy a look.


If there’s a better series on TV right now than Netflix's Sex Education then I haven’t heard about it. Great performances, terrific script, funny, sad and, of course, raunchy.

It’s not the kind of show you might enjoy if you have hormone-exploding teenagers at school, and not, of course, one you’d screen for the servants, to distort that classic line from the Lady Chatterley trial. And it is much more – what would then have been called obscene – than that DH Lawrence book.

Gillian Anderson plays the mother, there’s a scene-stealing performance by Alistair Petrie as the straitlaced headmaster, and the three young stars, Asa Butterfield, Emma Mackey and Ncuti Gatwa, are utterly captivating and compelling. Oh to be young again, with raging hormones.


The great overlooked film set in Glasgow, perhaps the one which suggested the city as a great location for those to follow, is Death Watch, from the great French director Bertrand Tavernier. He insisted in shooting here in the teeth of objections from people like David Puttnam, who told him the crew would be attacked and their equipment stolen at the very least.

Tavernier persisted, fortunately for us and for art, and brought it to town. It featured Harry Dean Stanton, Harvey Keitel, Max Von Sydow, Romy Schneider and a young shaver called Robbie Coltrane. It's set in the future where death from illness is rare and a doomed young woman with an incurable disease, Schneider, becomes a reality TV star, when she is filmed through the eyes of a journalist, Keitel.

It was shot in Glasgow and pairts in 1979 and, apparently, Keitel and Stanton were regulars at some of the city's finest and most disreputable hostelries. The film was largely overlooked then, as it is now.


If this Brexit business pans out the way it’s looking then we’re going to have to make serious adjustments to our eating, which may well have the side-benefit of allowing us to adjust our belts inwards. We’ll be back to a wartime diet (if not with ration books, certainly queues for desirables), digging for victory and thumbing our noses at Johnny Foreigner, particularly that Donald Tusk.

According to most experts the rationing regime was even healthier than beforehand, and certainly than it is now (no nasty chemical additives for a start), and for the poor – and, you'll be startled to hear, there were even more of those then than there are now. They ate better on it than before Hitler invaded Poland (Tusk’s homeland).

Rationing ended in 1954, but what’s not really appreciated it that restrictions became even more severe after the end of hostilities than they had been in the war years. There hadn’t been bread rationing, but in 1946 rain ruined the wheat crop so bread was limited to 9oz a day, which is about six slices. Then, later that year, severe cold weather decimated the potato harvest so tattie rationing began for the first time.

All of which is preamble to introducing that well-known foodie, the James Martin of his day, George Orwell. Shortly after his allegorical novel Animal Farm was published, and while Nineteen Eighty-Four was germinating, Orwell suffered a major publishing rejection, which probably quashed any idea he had of writing the Animal Farm Cookbook.

In 1946, he penned an essay called In Defence of English Cooking, which he submitted, together with a recipe, to the British Council and got a quick knock-back. In it he had described English/British cooking as "a simple, rather heavy, perhaps slightly barbarous diet" where "hot drinks are acceptable at most hours of the day", usually tea because you couldn’t get coffee. But it was his recipe for marmalade which did for him, with the rejection slip telling him it contained too much sugar and water. Seventy years on he’s had a posthumous apology from the council.

Orwell has been lauded as a socialist, a man of the people, and he undoubtedly lived his principles (Down And Out In Paris And London is a must-read), although he clearly had access to supplies the mean folk didn’t. His rejected marmalade recipe calls for two Seville oranges (obtainable only on the black market in 1946) and eight pounds of sugar which, if you were on rations, would have taken 16 weeks to amass.

It probably also killed publishers’ ideas of a famous authors’ recipe book. Mary Shelley’s Foraging Meat Feast, or Charles Lamb’s Rotisserie Roast Pig, and Magic Moments with Strudel by Pellegrino Artusi, all lost.


I was in the pub, which seemed the place to be, when the silent TV screen flashed up a picture of Albert Finney, with the crawler along the bottom saying he was dead. It was as if a piece of my life had also gone.

As a schoolkid I saw him in Pirandello’s Henry IV at the Citizens Theatre in a mesmerising performance, which came on the heels of his breakthrough film Saturday Night And Sunday Morning. He was the hottest actor in the country and could have gone to Hollywood, but he chose rep, and Glasgow. I followed him since.

I loved his directorial debut, Charlie Bubbles, with the brilliant Billie Whitelaw, and Gumshoe is a classic. He was also a real working class hero. He turned down a CBE and a knighthood and stayed as close to his Salford roots as it’s possible to do when you’re an international star.

The BBC News channel slightly spoiled the tribute, the crawler saying that his career spanned five years and amassed 50 Oscar nominations, although the figures were quickly transposed. Albie, for sure, wouldn’t have given a damn.


Not since the excuse “the dog ate my homework” was coined has there been an equal, but last week the driver in Devon who ended upside down in a ditch because he was avoiding an octopus surely achieved it. Just because there was no sign of the cephalopod at the scene and the nearest sea water was over three miles away doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. These chaps can do amazing things.

Remember Paul the Octopus who correctly predicted the result of each of the seven 2010 World Cup Games the German team played? One of the defeated teams was Argentina and, still on the cookery theme, an Argentinian chef then posted a revenge octopus recipe online.

The Devon driver has been charged with driving while under the influence of drugs. I understand in his statement to police he said: “I braked and went into a squid.”