The Speech

Cheryl’s mother, Joan, is determined to get as many of the Grimaldi family together for her daughter’s wedding as possible. Five months before the wedding she finally tracks down the oldest living member of the family, great uncle Lionel, living in Delaware, and their correspondence begins. As Cheryl’s father is dead, her brother, Richie, will ‘give her away’. But Joan has a problem: who will make the first speech at the wedding reception in lieu of her dead husband? Maybe uncle Lionel? She writes to ask and he agrees.

The wedding goes exactly to plan: the sun shines, birds sing, promises are made, books signed, confetti thrown and photographs taken.

The wedding reception begins.

Uncle Li, in black tuxedo, black trousers and frilly white shirt, stands, and the catering manager hands him a microphone.

The videographer starts recording.

Hi folks. Well, here I am back in Cardiff for the first time in seventy-one years. But hell, this ain’t about me. It’s about the bride. I’m a great judge of character, you have to be selling insurance, so I know what I’m talking about and it’s the bride …. Seldom, in one person, in one woman, does one find such a combination of beauty … intelligence … sensitivity … compassion … fun-lovingness … Godliness … humility … motherliness … and great style.

Cheryl dabs at her tears. The groom, Stu, sits open-mouthed; how will his speech go down with his new wife and her mother?

Uncle Li continues, I ain’t overcooking the eggs, hyperbolizing, or making much ado about something right special – well I am. This girl is beyond compare, someone who’d make her dead daddy real proud if he was here today, and I’m real sorry he ain’t. So, be upstanding, raise your glasses … to the bride, Cheryl! Cheryl!

Food and much drink are taken until it comes to the time for Stu’s speech.

A year passes. It’s half past four and Cheryl is at home – the salon is closed on a Wednesday afternoon. She’s watching the video of their wedding when she hears the front door slam. She pauses ‘play’ as Stu enters their front room.

Uncle Li is frozen on screen.
You’re early, love, she says.
What are you doing home?
It’s Wednesday, my half day off work.
You call doing some old bird’s nails work? You must be fucking joking.
There’s no need to swear at me. I’ve done nothing wrong.
You’re watching that fucking old shit Li again, aren’t you?
What’s wrong with you?
All that bollocks, fucking lies, all of it. Beauty? Huh. Intelligence? Really. Fun-lovingness, crap. You wouldn’t know what fun was if it hit you in the face. Motherliness, you don’t get to be a mother if you don’t fuck, Mrs Bolton.
I just don’t want to do it every night.
Fuck Uncle Li, Stu shouts as he presses ‘eject’.

Cheryl weeps as he rips the tape from the VHS cassette.
Fucking speech! You bloody laughed at mine. Bitch. Humiliated me.


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Blue Blair lost the 2015 General Election not Miliband

It’s May 1997. Tony Blair has led the Labour Party to a landslide victory in the General Election and I’m euphoric. Thatcherism is dead and buried. Socialism will triumph. What a naïve bloody fool I was. I should have known better. But like many others I had forgotten the history of class struggle. I had failed to understand what New Labour and Blue Blair was all about – Power.

It’s May 2015. Cameron and his rich cronies will continue in government. The so-called ‘One Nation’ Tories will continue to mangle and massacre the rights of citizens to a life that is fair equal and just for the next five years. I’m angry and depressed.

Why did Labour lose? Because of Blue Blair. Not only because of his crimes against humanity and the war in Iraq but because his desperation for power corrupted him and corrupted the principles upon which the Labour Party had been founded. The deluded fantasy that New Blue Labour could wash capitalism clean prevailed; look where it has taken us. I say Blair caused this defeat notwithstanding the anti-Miliband campaign run by the Tory press because when you mimic your enemy, wear his clothes, tilt at the same chimeras, you accept the media’s agenda and are doomed to defeat because you are always in the shadow of he who should be your mortal enemy.

We are now at the point where Labour and Tories alike mouth the same inane mantra of being for ‘working people’. We are at this point because Blair and New Labour were Tories in fancy dress, masked in red, closet neo-cons, enamoured of a toxic free market that should have been anathema to them. Capitalism’s acolytes. Devotees of fame and fortune. Thatcher’s beastly bastard offspring.

‘Working people’, ‘Hard working people’, they all mouth. Where are the children? Where the ill beset by sickness in body, soul and mind? Where the disabled? Where the old? Where the poor? Where the excluded? The abused? The oppressed? Where justice and equality before the law? Where the tolerance of difference? They are as nothing. Work is all. Where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Where from each according to ability, to each according to need? Not here. Not now.

At the moment New Blue Labour decided on Blair’s agenda the Labour Party ceased to be a socialist party and became a party of the centre right vying for the approbation of the high priests of the ruling class, the blessing of Murdoch, the friendship of bankers, and the right to sip from the chalice of gold. Since Blair the vacuous and cynical attempt to rebrand New Labour as the Old Labour Party, a party for working people, has failed. It’s failed because it has no heart. No pulse that gives it life. Moribund, mired, manacled inside the Tory’s agenda of the destruction of the state. It is finished. It needs to start anew.

Ed Balls has gone and good riddance! The blustering buffoon’s insistence on being more austere than the Tories was madness. ‘I can be a bigger bully than Osborne,’ he gibbered twirling his conker on a string in the Westminster playground. That’s socialism at its best? I think not. Austerity is a device fabricated to demolish the welfare state. A mechanism to ensure the rich get richer and the poor enjoy the liberty and freedom of choice provided by food banks. Austerity is the glove that clothes the iron fist of capital. But Balls embraced it and has paid the price because it was balls. Problem was, it wasn’t only him but the entire Labour leadership; disgraceful!

Ed Miliband has been accused of lacking the charisma to be prime minister. One would have hoped that the Labour Party might have learnt, from history, that the idea of the ‘Great Leader’ is not a concept guaranteed to produce a good result. We don’t need charismatic Great Leaders – like Blair or Putin! – what we need are great policies that will deliver equality and justice for all citizens no matter how they are ‘classified’. Charismatic policies? Yes. A charismatic party that poses a real alternative to capitalism’s lickspittle sycophants? Yes. Away with the celebrity of ‘leadership’ and back to democratic centralism? Yes.

To do this will fly in the face of the media who are obsessed with appearance. They will ask who will now lead the Labour Party and expect a name, will it be x or y or even z? Will they be pretty? Will they be tall? Will they speak nicely? Will they be media friendly? Can they eat a bacon sandwich? The answer should be that the Labour Party will be led by socialist principles articulated through policies developed by the membership and proselytised by a collective leadership elected by the membership. I could join such a party.

This afternoon I will discover if I’ve been elected as a member of Waddington Parish Council in Lincolnshire. I haven’t stood on a party platform. I’ve stood because there isn’t normally an election for the parish council; those that want to stand are co-opted because no one wants to be a councillor. That’s not democratic. This year, along with an artist friend in the village – Gerard Williams – we have caused an election. My agenda is simple: representation must include consultation. The decisions taken on matters that impact on the lives of the citizens who live in this village need to be based on consultation and not imposed, as they seem to be, by those who believe, wrongly, that they know better.

This latter parish election is trivial in the face of the result of the 2015 General Election but in a way it’s not – no matter how bad the General Election result is, and it is terrible, this is not the time to give up and acquiesce. In fact there’s never a time when it’s right to give in and acquiesce. Before you ask, no, I don’t expect that Waddington is about to become a village soviet – pity.
May 8th 2015

Good and bad news

Well – Yesterday I was going to let you know that my screenplay has been enthusiastically received by the film’s producer and that it was time to celebrate. I opened a bottle of Prosecco and the phone rang. A friend, Dave Manners, had suddenly died leaving behind his partner Sally and his daughter Amy. He was in his mid forties and had been valiant in his struggle against his illnesses over many years. It’s hard to know what to say – I cried instead. But … Dave wouldn’t have wanted that – tears maybe – a fight? – yes – drink the Prosecco – yes – but it’s just not right – he deserved – they deserved – a better shot than this. I have nothing profound to say – I’m just very sad. But … go on or back? Go on. Venceremos! With a little help from our friends.

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The photograph above, that acts as a header, is ©Phil Cosker and called ‘The man in the White Hat’ and was shot in New York, New York. It will appear in a new photo book later in 2014 if all goes to plan.