Thursday, 29 January 2015

My @Itwitius Letter Campaign

Typical of the lull I experience between projects, I had trouble getting my mind working yesterday. I have a vague idea about writing some web-related software so I took my first steps in WPF programming. However, late last night, I eventually succumbed to the lure of Sergeant Bilko. There's something about American sitcoms of the 1950s that's unlike anything we've had since. My network hard drive has the entire Bilko, Car 54 Where Are You and, if I can handle the shouting (sometimes I can't) the 'classic 39' episodes of The Honeymooners. It's perfect stuff for doodling.

Not in the mood to draw gag cartoons, last night I attempted a couple of Sky News caricatures. Sky News was at the forefront of my thoughts. My sister had excitedly told me that she'd found this blog when she was herself looking for news about Tim Marshall. 'You're at the top of Google' she exclaimed. I shrugged. I'm at the top of Google for quite a few things but it means next to nothing. Type 'Ed Milliband cartoon' into Google and mine comes at the top of the page. What was stranger, however, was the same thing happened to me later in the evening. I wanted to start drawing a caricature of Anna Jones so I went to Google Images, my preferred source of reference material, and I typed 'Anna Jones Sky News'. I was shocked to see a very old cartoon I'd drawn appear near the top of the page. It means nothing, of course, except I'm probably the only unsuccessful cartoonist with a particular crush on Anna Jones.

Thinking about Anna Jones makes me realise that I was probably a bit too harsh in what I wrote about Sky News last night, though it has definitely slipped to second in my list of most watched channels. I suppose the writing on the wall was to be seen back when I was writing Book 2 of my Stan Madeley letters. I had two successes from Sky News. I had what I assume was a mass-produced letter of apology from Adam Boulton, explaining why he shouldn't have got angry with Alistair Campbell. It was a strange letter because I'd written to compliment him for his passion and I'd demanded more outbursts.
I know you’re not looking to open negotiations with a simple viewer and I suppose you’ll receive quite a bit of grief about your bust up with that toxic toad, Alistair Campbell. However, I wanted to write to say that not a word of criticism will you hear from me! In fact, I might send a note to my old mucker, Quentin Letts, at The Daily Mail. He’s the salt of the earth and knows it. I’m sure I could get him to say a few words in your defence.

My second 'success' was a signed photo of Jeremy Thompson, though I'd never asked for one. What I'd actually written was:
Dare I say that Sky News really misses Bob Friend? Now all the best talent is wasted. There's not a better foreign affairs editor than Tim Marshall and Adam Boulton is top of the political tree. So why the obsession with showbiz? And who is that gormless gnome poncing around film premieres? He talks to actors as though he shared a Jacuzzi with them only last night whilst supping champagne from their publicist's keister. I want news, Jeremy, not promotional guff about a 19 year old airhead struggling with the duel ownership of plastic nipples and a pink Ferrari. I'm surprised you don't choke every time you squeeze the words 'Paris', 'Hilton', 'Osbourne', 'Jordan' or 'Andre' past your epiglottis. And it's all well and good, slapping all of Sky News' resources on one big story each year to win some ruddy BAFTA so your lot can vulgarly push it into our faces at every commercial break. How about giving us more meat throughout the day? The only note of sanity in the whole operation is that you've not started to wear those ridiculous pins they have on Sky Sports News. It makes them look like members of a cult, which I'm not entirely sure they're not. Have you noticed that their female presenters look like Stepford Wives? And, what's worse, so do the men.

My biggest Sky News disappointment was never getting a reply from Anna Jones, though looking through the thousand plus letters I sent in the course of my Stan Madeley career, I can't seem to find the two Anna Jones originals. I'm beginning to wonder if I even sent them, though I'm sure I did. I seem to remember the premise of my letters being my sadness upon hear she was leaving Sky News for a newsreading job in Bolivia.

But I digress.

I can't really write anything better than last night's response to the news that Tim Marshall is leaving Sky News. These things happen. There is a news cycle which cycles not just the news but also the presenters. Yet something about this just doesn't feel right. I don't know the reason for Marshall's departure but in a world where genuine talent stands out, the loss of Marshall is a big one.

Reading around his twitter account this morning, there was little hint about his future. He's talking about a new website but every fool has a website and where does that gets us? He jokingly asks one follower to 'Write to the newspapers, demand that I appear as an analyst.  Pitchforks, burning torches etc.' That suggests that the BBC aren't hammering at his door offering him a place in the foreign affairs department. That in itself is madness. Like I said last night: no journalist so obviously follows in the footsteps of John Simpson.

So, I'm now tempted to write to newspapers (and the BBC) and demand that he appears as an analyst. I'd do it too but I can no longer afford the stamps. If I could sell a few Gag Machines, then Stan Madeley might return for a proper letter campaign. For the moment, he might have to satisfy himself with one or two. I reckon I should begin with James Harding (Harding the Hack), aka the Director of News and Current Affairs at the BBC. It will probably come to nothing but watch this space. It will at least get my brain going on this cold day when a brutal snow is falling outside the window and I can't bring myself to face the thought of two more months of computer programming for zero reward.

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