In this slightly shorter 28 minute Episode 11 the focus is on the environment and government mismanagement. Does that sound a bit too serious? Well, maybe the story about the Queen on the No7 bus to Windsor or my guitarist friend, Mike Britton’s account of life aboard the QE2, will bring a little cheer. Failing that, I did also include a clip of exiled Greta Thunberg singing to the COP26 Climate Conference delegates. The lyrics run along the lines of telling them where to stick their climate crises, and guess what, it’s a place where the sun truly doesn’t shine. This recording is slightly shorter than normal as my hope is to be able to produce them in a more timely manner. Be sure to leave a comment and subscribe – there may be a free bus pass in it for you (provided you are of British Royal bloodstock).
Updated 19th Nov 2021
Al Morton 0:02
Hi, I’m Al Morton and I wanted to welcome you to Episode 12 of my Takeout series. I should also warn listeners of a delicate disposition that it does include an excerpt of Greta Thunberg singing. This month’s focus is on the environment, and to my friends outside of the UK and Spain. Stay with me, as the British Royal Family share their insights on how to counter global warming. Could the new royal yacht and train be powered by good old-fashioned British coal? And as ever, none of this would be possible without this guy:
Let me introduce Britain’s most misunderstood and ‘it’s-not-easy-to-be-green’ prime minister. The name is Bond, Boris Bond, licensed to kill.
Before we go any further, I would just like to remind listeners that a full transcript is available from almorton.com/takeout. In the last episode – number 11 – What Time is The Midnight Buffet? – I did have a rant about Brexit. And I realised afterwards that I talked so much that I had left out a section about the cultural differences between Britain and Spain. So not wanting to let you down, here goes:
I do think that a major cultural difference is that Spanish MPs or Brussels MEPs would never vote to allow raw sewage to be pumped into the waterways and public bathing areas. Yesterday, I saw video footage of effluent floating down the River Avon close to where I used to live in Bristol. It was in an area of natural beauty where a rowing club and pleasure boats operate. I remember having tea and scones next to the water’s edge on several occasions. I don’t know if The Riverbank Tea Shop is still operating, but I’m at a complete loss as to who is going to want to sit next to a river full of **** and spread clotted cream on their scones or scones? Is it scones? I don’t know – Yummy.
So my first question is why is this happening? The beach at Minehead was in a similar state as MPs rejected an amendment to prevent the privatised water companies from tipping raw sewage into watercourses. I suppose it gives new meaning to the phrase ‘going through the motions’. It would seem that a shortage of chemicals needed to treat the waste has precipitated this action, and at the risk of saying that dreaded ‘B’ word, another unwanted Brexit benefit; although personally, I suspect it has more to do with greed than Brexit. Why would you buy expensive chemicals to treat sewage, when you can blame the meanspirited EU then legally chuck the lot in a stream? – more money for shareholders and more **** for the rest of us.
So I don’t know why it is but it just seems to me that the Tory party and the Daily Express and Daily Mail, in particular, are always at war with the EU. I mean, whatever goes wrong in the UK, it couldn’t possibly be down to Brexit, or mismanagement of the economy; it is always someone else’s fault. And if you need an example of this, just take a look at the headlines today. You would think if reading the Daily Express that (you’ve got to forgive me for mentioning the Express because it is such a mine of misinformation), but you could be forgiven for thinking that we were about to go to war with France over some damned fish. It would seem that there’s more outrage over France than there was over a Russian chemical attack in a British city. For an island nation, we do seem to have a lot of problems with water and our neighbours.
Al Morton 4:24
And just before I move on, the last thing I was gonna say about the water thing was that one of the big ironies of all of this contaminated water scandal was that on the day that MPs were voting to just ‘tip-it-on-in-the-rivers guys’, the Department of the Environment and Rural Affairs was reminding the European Commission that they would be putting a block on imported bottled water from the EU until they applied for a licence and paid for the test to prove that the water was of sufficient quality. I mean, you couldn’t make it up. Talking of which, I couldn’t help but be slightly amused by the Sky data map where they were trying to draw a – draw the fishing boundaries of where this dispute is taking place. And it’s quite interesting really because the Channel Islands, Jersey and Guernsey, are very close to France. I imagine that the French do think of the waters around the Channel Islands as belonging to them; they clearly do not. But what tickled me about this was that the boundary lines have been drawn by the Sky graph animator in thick, brown, wide delineations. In fact, the only thing that was missing from the map was the turd emoji.
Al Morton 5:52
And this fishing dispute looks as if it’s going to run and run. And the timing couldn’t be worse for Johnson really, and I suppose, French President Macron knows that.
So the news has been full of Johnson’s ‘levelling up budget’, presented by Rishi Sunak, who was at pains to stress that the economic hit from COVID was the worst in 300 years. Wait until he hears about the long-term economic damage from Brexit:
According to the Office of Budget Responsibility, the financial impact will be at least double that of COVID – so that’s all good then. At the same time, the news was full of information about the green energy company Bulb, which is about to hit the wall. It’s a company that has over one-and-a-half million subscribers. And this is on the eve of the COP 26 Climate Summit, and the main producer of – or the main distributor of green energy is about to go bust. It’s just not a very good look. And my son was looking at this and he said, ‘Do you think they’re gonna go bust because France is threatening to cut the power off’?” I hope they don’t do that.
If I’m honest, one of the things that upset me the most is the ongoing hypocrisy of this hollowed-out government. Johnson keeps telling us about the UK’s green credentials. Yet on the eve of the COP 26 Climate Summit, an event on the world stage hosted by the UK (which Russia and Australia are not even going to turn up to), this event will be taking place only a few days after the budget announcement of reduced taxes on internal flights. That’s before we mentioned the new coal mine in Cumbria and new oil fields in the North Sea. What kind of green message does that send? I note that Greta Thunberg had not been invited either. Well, we all know what Johnson thinks about kids, but perhaps more surprisingly, Nicola Sturgeon had also been left off the list, despite being the First Minister for Scotland, where the COP 26 is taking place. One tweet suggested that it was because Greta would upstage him. To be fair, she does have quite a way with words.
[Singing] You can shove your climate crisis up your arse…
Inside COP there are just politicians and people in power pretending to take our future seriously – [echo] seriously… [fade out]
Other missing females included Her Majesty The Queen, who presumably would be singing a different kind of song. She is perhaps the greenest of all the royals, at the opening of the Welsh Parliament had been overheard complaining about the lack of concrete action on climate.
HM The Queen 8:46
‘It is irritating when they talk, but they do not DO!’
Al Morton 9:05
To my surprise, I find myself in agreement with Her Majesty, but I’m guessing that these rules are the ones that only apply to other people, little people. It was the Guardian columnist Marina Hyde, who wrote that the royals were busy saving the planet, one helicopter ride at a time. This may be a bit unkind, because how else are they going to get about? Her Majesty is not likely to call an Uber or take the Nº 7 bus to Windsor; although I suppose she would be eligible for a bus pass. You can imagine the look on the conductor’s face:
Bus Conductor Sketch 9:46
‘ ‘ear, is that really you Ma’am?’
HM The Queen 9:49
‘Oh, for goodness’ sake, take a look at some money, why don’t you. I don’t carry any myself, but I think you’ll find that it is one’s face that is on the front of the notes and coins.’
Al Morton 10:10
I’m glad we settled that. If you’re a royal or even just a hanger-on and want to apply for the HRH Save-The-Planet bus pass, you can do so on almorton.com/takeout Whilst you’re there, be sure to download the lyrics and the guitar chords to Greta’s climate song – now available as a ringtone.
Al Morton 10:41
Unfortunately, the Queen’s lawyers have been accused of lobbying the Scottish Parliament in secret to exempt her private estates from a major carbon-cutting initiative. Still, at least we can thank Prince Andrew for reducing his carbon footprint by promising never to fly to the United States again.
I could talk for a long time about the climate, but the other thing which I alluded to earlier on is the deteriorating relationship between France and the UK, spurred on by the magnificent right-wing press. We had the pre-summit press briefing by Boris Johnson in Rome from the Colosseum, very gladiatorial – telling us that uncontrolled immigration was the reason that Rome collapsed. I’m not quite sure where he got that from, as I recall, most immigrants in Rome at the time were actually slaves. But maybe that’s what he is harking back to: we should all go back to the wonderful colonial days. And all this relates to doing what I really do think that the Tory party do best, which is stirring the culture war, creating division. I mean, really, that perhaps is the saddest part about Brexit: how divided it’s made us all. And you can see this more clearly than ever on Twitter: lots and lots of posts from people saying,, ‘Well, I’m with the French, and I’m ashamed to be British’. And these kinds of things (there are lots of them), and it is a symptom of the division. But I really get upset when I see people saying,, ‘I’m ashamed to be British’, because really, you can’t choose what country you’re born into. I’m British; I’m not ashamed to be British, but I am embarrassed by the behaviour and acts of the British government. So the problem is that when you criticise the government, and then you go on to say, ‘Oh, I’m with France’, or ‘I’m ashamed to be British’, they actually feed off this division. They want you to say these things, so that the right-wing elements can turn around to you and say, ‘There you go, you see, you’re a traitor’. And we’re not traitors, in fact, the opposite. If you love your country, you want what’s best for your country. You don’t want it to be ruled by a bunch of knuckle-dragging idiots.
Al Morton 13:21
So I’ll give you an example of how this is playing out, at least on Twitter. Carolyn Guse posted a picture of a chicken. It was one of these chickens in a roasting-bag-type thing with added spices. The bag had a great big Union Jack on it. And it said, ‘British chicken with added non-EU salt and pepper’. I’m okay with people wanting to buy British chicken. Why wouldn’t they? It’s got to be better than importing chlorinated chicken. It just seems that supermarkets, (in this case Morrison’s) are trying to cash in on anti-EU sentiment. They’re putting Union Jacks on everything and turning hostility towards the EU into some kind of virtue. Even Walkers Crisps are not immune, because when listing the ingredients in a bag, they state clearly that the salt is British salt. I don’t know what the state of British sea salt is these days, but having seen what’s been washed up on the beaches of Minehead, I wouldn’t be in any hurry to buy crisps that have been dunked in it.
Al Morton 14:37
And this is something that I honestly don’t understand. I mean, it seems very strange from the perspective of living in Spain, because when I go to the supermarket, occasionally I see things that are British products (not so much since Brexit) but there’s no warning or flags on the packet saying ‘This may contain products from the United Kingdom’ – who cares?
Anchor Newsman 15:07
This is not the BBC: Best Before COVID Corporation. The British government has declared the COP 26 Climate Summit to be a massive success. Afterwards, all the delegates signed a declaration stating that they were going to continue to do absolutely nothing about global warming. They were also able to agree that they really didn’t like Greta Thunberg and that she should be fined for playing truant from school. The Summit will close with our delegates gathering for a photocall, where they will be required to sing ‘Strong Britain Great Nation’, before being lined up and given a damned good flogging by Priti Patel. Ouch!!!
Greta Thunberg 15:50
I am watching you Johnson with your big fat carbon footprint.
Al Morton 15:58
You are listening to Episode 12 of the Al Morton Takeout.
In my last podcast, I may have made a few derisory comments about the cruise industry and also Bananarama, who are apparently fab. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the great artistic works of this all-girl 1980s pop group, they were famous for their anodyne tunes, tragic fashion sense, and unison out-of-tune singing, allegedly. It would seem that many of you are fans of this. Oh, well, I do what I can, but with this in mind, I did write to my great guitarist friend Mike Britton, who had played on a number of the QE2 cruises, and he was kind enough to reply. I’m just going to read to you a couple of short excerpts. Incidentally, I should point out that he did play on the final voyage of the QE2, but he wasn’t instrumental in Cunard deciding to end its stays.
Mike Britton 17:13
Hi Al, I hope the world is floating through space a bit more evenly for you. Have all the tourists gone home to their own viruses yet? In your last, you asked about my QE2 experience. Well, at the risk of boring you, here is what the reality was. Your question was about the conditions for staff musicians on the QE2. Well, they were employed under the euphemism ‘able seaman’, and as such were obliged to attend all lifeboat drills, dressed appropriately in life jackets or as instructed for the amusement of passengers. There were about thirty-something of them. They slept and ate below decks in shared cabins. They played for the big band accompanying visiting acts for captain’s tea dances, evening ballroom dances, afternoon teas, cabaret and deck parties seven days a week. In port, they were allowed off for four hours on a 10% rota, which meant that most of them were seldom allowed off the ship. Their movement was restricted to the middle decks during the downtime. Discipline was strictly controlled by fines of 10% of their weekly income. They had contracts of three to six weeks. If you think I exaggerate, there are honestly many impositions and fines, like the dress deemed inappropriate or making obvious errors during playing. They lived lives of luxury, however, compared to the majority of Filipino staff, about 2000 of them who were never allowed off for the full nine-months stint, and were paid a pittance. Being a staff musician for Cunard, I think I would rather have played the banjo on the ****** Burma Railway, he puts in brackets (The Bridge on the River Kwai).
In contrast, and for once in my life, and before I agreed to play on the QE2 jazz band for its last years, I researched conditions and time to pack my terms before agreeing to the position. I formally stipulated my requirements to the New York office. To my great surprise, I, therefore, gained the following conditions set out in a snotty and formal reply. Mine was a visiting artist contract, like the visiting cabaret. I had a cabin, three different restaurants in which to eat passenger food, free excursions in the port, unlimited public-space access, free coffee shop and snacks – a bit of respect, even from the Cunard deck-officer bastards. A favourite moment was failing ‘deliberately’ at an inception cocktail party to recognise one of the rotation captains, a diminutive five-foot, small-penis conceited runt, called McNaught, famous for causing lawsuits against Cuanard for failing to call at more than half of the ports of a world cruise. ‘We want our money back’, demanded rich-idiot QE2 fans, because he was scared of a little swell and a breeze that wouldn’t have put off ‘Three Men in a Boat’.
Al Morton 20:32
Okay, look, at this point, I should just intervene and say that this is just one person’s opinion. And please, please don’t try and sue me because yeah, I don’t know who this character was. He might have even had a large – I don’t know can you say penis? He might have a large willy, who knows…
Mike Britton 20:52
His nickname was No-Ports McNaught. There’s even a berth in Liverpool docks named McNaught if you want to go and look him up. I can’t say I sought acquaintance with many of the staff-musician guys because once heard, I realised they were mostly indifferent players. Can you imagine those days when the best of London players played rubbish dance music for the peasants so that they could go to New York to hear the greats? Those players used to be called Geraldo’s Navy. I hope all that was of some interest. Few of these travel jobs are as glamorous as the public think; air hostesses are simply waitress toilet cleaners, servants in the sky. And package tour couriers are often just punch-bags for the irate customer complaints.
Al Morton 21:41
Well, thank you very much for that, Mike. If you’re an air hostess, please don’t write to me and complain.
Unfortunately, even if I wanted to join the QE2 band, my sight-reading is not good enough. Really, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have me. Actually, that reminds me of a well-known musician saying and that is: How to get a guitarist to turn down: Put a piece of music in front of him.
Around this time, I like to try and lighten the mood. So I thought I would tell you a shaggy dog story. I hope it brings you a little cheer, although at the time, the party involved didn’t seem terribly amused. As the more astute amongst you will have observed, the theme of this podcast has been about pollution from well – poop basically. With this in mind, I thought I would share an observation I made this summer whilst out and about.
Most days, I like to take a walk around the port of the fishing village where I live. The town is always busy with a mix of affluent individuals that like to take in the sea air as they strut along the paseo maritimo, occasionally stopping to take photographs of themselves with their latest fashion chic designer handbags and shoes. I should mention that Spanish people have a name for these types of people. They call them ‘avestruces’ or ostriches, but it literally translates as a strutting bird.
Some, mostly the really rich ones, have designer dogs to go with their designer outfits, perfume and jewellery. These pampered pets will have spent hours at the dog groomers whilst their mistress is being attended by hairdressers. I spotted one such creature strutting along with their chin up, pumped up lips and face plastered with enough foundation cream to render a small house.
Sunglasses gave her the look of a malevolent insect. She tripped along on impossibly high heels, whilst her dog, replete with diamanté collar, pink lead set and bow, scuttled about, a few steps behind. She was clutching what I also believe to be a large Gucci handbag. I imagine that it was Gucci because it had the big G logo boldly embossed on the outside and was fringed with shimmering gold tat. I mean, there’s no point in having a designer handbag unless everyone can see.
Suddenly, and from the depths of her handbag, a mobile phone could be heard ringing. She stopped to answer the call. She seemed oblivious to what was going on around her as she put the bag down to engage in an animated argument with the caller, possibly a divorce attorney. Meanwhile, her dog along with its diamanté collar and pink bow in its hair trotted over to the bag, then sprayed a long thick stream of custard-coloured liquid poop all over the bag. I remember the colour because it was clear from the lady’s apparel that colour coordination was important to her. I became transfixed by the scene playing out before me. The lady continued to chat for a while, unaware of the fashion crisis that was taking place, next to the world’s most expensive stilettos. She finished the call and then bent down to place the phone back in her bag, and then let out a blood-curdling scream. The dog seemed quite pleased with itself and scampered about all happily, as she glanced around to see if anyone had noticed.
I turned away quickly, pretending I hadn’t seen it, but I wondered whether or not it would be a Gucci handbag or a furry former pet that was going to end up in a nearby dumpster that night. This reminds me that there is a Spanish tradition that says it is unlucky to put your handbag down on the ground, because the thinking is that if you do, the money will run away, but this story does seem to bear that out a little.
Al Morton 26:32
It’s almost time for me to go, and I wanted to thank you all for listening. I hope you weren’t put off by my dog story, or unwillingness to embrace the many imaginary benefits of Brexit. On the last podcast, I played us out by listing them, but this time, I’m not going to talk about corruption. Oh, no, certainly not, perish the thought. Meanwhile, back at the COP26 Climate Summit, British Prime Minister Johnson addresses the delegates:
Prime Minister 27:04
Since we’re in an international context and speaking before international colleagues, I want to, I want to say one thing, which I hope is not taken in any chauvinistic spirit, but I genuinely believe that the UK is not remotely a corrupt country nor do I believe that our institutions are corrupt… [raucous laughter from delegates]
Al Morton 27:39
So that’s it for me for now. I’m going to be adding a series of mini-episodes over the next few weeks, so you don’t have to wait so long to hear from me, but until then, bye for now. As always, you can read further details, including a full transcript and credits on almorton.com/takeout/.
This podcast was written, performed and produced by Al Morton.
Music and Production Credits
The Al Morton Takeout was written, performed and produced by Al Morton. Production Editor; Heather Margaret. Podcast artwork by Elliot Morton.
The Takeout Podcast theme and underscored Spanish guitar music is Serenata Española by J. Malats performed by Al Morton.
Life aboard the QE2
Special thanks to Mike Britton.
Episode 12 intro and outro music:
Super Spy Detective – provided by SNC
Latin Jungle – Caribbean Flavors – Royalty Free Music Prod. by Vasquez / Vodovoz
‘You’ve been listening’ to interval music:
Song: LA CALLE ESTÁ CALIENTE Artist: Azabache (ft. Pacheco)