Piers Morgan is a wimp

PLUS: Racist odds, rugby reunions, rubbish Kermits and much, much more

I was once introduced to Piers Morgan in a lift at Canary Wharf.

“I suppose you want a job with the Mirror,” he guffawed.

As it happened, I wouldn’t have said no. But before I could answer the lift doors opened at the 20th floor and Piers strode off to the Mirror newsroom, leaving only a faint whiff of sulphur in his wake.

Soon after he was fired as editor for printing fake photographs of British soldiers torturing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison. Or was it allegedly colluding with his business desk to buy shares in a computer company? Either way my chance had gone.

Ironically, since making my debut as Tuesday mid-morning presenter on Lake District Radio last week (did I tell you that I am Tuesday mid-morning presenter on Lake District Radio?) a number of people have suggested I am a natural replacement for Piers now that he has left Good Morning Britain.

I’m not so sure. The jowls are similar these days, but behind the bluster Piers was only ever playing at being the opinionated, white middle-aged boor. I look at the US network controversialists he has modelled himself on — the likes of Tucker Carlson, Glenn Beck and the late Rush Limbaugh – and wonder if they would have taken a hissy fit after being told off by a weatherman?

In any case, British mainstream TV is hidebound by regulations about what you can say and about whom. When Emily Maitlis launched into a vaguely scathing monologue about Dominic Cummings on Newsnight last year, she was hauled over the coals and dropped from the show.

No, the only true editorial freedom is to be found on internet radio — which is why I plan to become Lake District Radio’s first and only dedicated shock jock. It’s high time the county had a broadcaster who is unafraid to light fires under the wishy-washy liberal consensus that holds sway in places like Kendal and Penrith, and by playing to my base in blue collar areas like Barrow, Ulverston, Workington and Cleator Moor I imagine I will soon be elected mayor of the proposed unitary district authority.

In fact I’ve already been in touch with the Kangol factory in Frizington to get some “Make Cumbria Great Again” caps made up.

The revolution starts here, listeners!


PHIL YOUR BOOTS

It seems one enterprising American bookmaker has already drawn up odds on which of the Royals is the so-called “Palace Racist”.

Like most people, I naturally assumed it was Prince Philip — but for some reason you can get very healthy odds of 15/1 on him, compared to 12/1 for the Queen, Kate at 4/1 and the favourite Prince Andrew at 3/2. Well worth a punt, I’d say.

And judging by William’s icy response this week to the question “Have you spoken to your brother yet?” (answer: “No…but I will be”) there should also be pretty good odds on Harry getting a well-deserved black eye in the very near future.

Meanwhile I’ve been astonished at the affronted reaction of some UK commentators that the Sussexes tell-all with Oprah has somehow diminished the standing of the British Monarchy in the eyes of our colonial cousins.

Unless I’m mistaken, the Americans made their views on the subject perfectly clear when they declared independence in 1775.


RUGGER BUGGERED

One rarely mentioned consequence of Covid has been the total shut-down of competitive school sport. This means sporty kids who have waited all their school career for the chance to play for the first team in the sixthform have been cruelly denied their season of glory.

A trifling consideration, you might think, compared to all the death, suffering and general gnashing of teeth that the pandemic has wrought this past year. But such opportunities only come once in a lifetime, and the memories and kudos remain long after the knees and hair have gone.

More than 30 years ago I was part of a Newcastle Royal Grammar School 1st XV which somehow beat our deadly rugby rivals Sedbergh away from home for the first time in the school’s history.

We’ve bragged about it ever since, to anyone who will listen and many who won’t. Now there are rumblings among the old lags on my WhatsApp group about some sort of reunion to celebrate the famous win. In typical middle-aged fashion we can’t agree on a date, but hopefully it will go ahead sometime later this year.

If it does, we shall raise a glass to the “lost XV”, who will never have the chance to compare notes on their own glory days — however faded they may be now.


SMALL VICTORIES

The ban on competitive grass roots sport does have its upsides, mind you. My friend Colin proudly informs me that he is the first Club President of Novocastrians RFC to preside over an unbeaten season since the war.


FRANKLY SPEAKING

Frank Welker is 85 today.

You won’t have heard of him — but I guarantee you’ve heard him, because Frank has provided the voice of Fred out of Scooby Doo since 1969. Indeed since 2002 he has provided the voice of Scooby himself.

The importance of unheralded voice artistes like Frank should not be underestimated. Despite him, Scooby Doo was never the same following the death of Casey Kasem, who voiced Shaggy. Replacements came and went, but the show should have been humanely put to sleep in 1997.

The same is true of Kermit the Frog. I’ve been watching reruns of The Muppet Show on Disney+ and there is no comparison between the late Jim Henson and those that came after his untimely death in 1990. They sound like somebody doing a Kermit impersonation.

Re-reading this note it strikes me that I should probably get a life. But goddammit, these things matter.