Eric Idle OnlineMy Life

Twitter Not

By , November 28, 2012 3:06 am

I frequently tire of Twitter.  It’s not the reduction of all thought to 140 characters, which is an excellent corrective against unnecessary prolixity, it’s that it gives strangers a chance to be breathtakingly rude to you.   In fact being rude to the celebrated may be the main point of twitter for its adherents.

Ninety eight tweets will say extraordinarily flattering things, and yet it is the two who unexpectedly insult that one remembers.   Why should this be so?  Why should criticism matter more than praise?

I got one the other day, accusing me of being a money-grabbing bastard.  I’m not sure of the context in which they found it necessary to search me out and abuse me, but I know I hated them instantly.  I rarely concern myself with money, and almost never at the start of any project.   Here is the money I grabbed from my last three projects:

What About Dick?      Writing $0

Directing $0

Producing $0

Acting:    Scale.  (Probably about $2,000)

Olympic Games Closing  Ceremony $1

Writing and Singing new Galaxy Song for BBC  $0

(It’s true the BBC gave us about $1000 for recording, but of course we spent way more than that.)

Hardly money-grabbing is it?   But why should I care so much about a careless tweet from internet twits?    I think it’s because their shocking misjudgments of my character and what I hold dear is insulting, and while I can avoid insults and slurs in the newspapers by simply not taking them, or hateful reviews by not reading them, somehow an insult that pops up on your personal computer has come into your home, and my initial response is neither kind nor gentle.

When I foolishly tweeted something about Harry Redknapp (ironically the week before he moved to QPR) ninety percent of responses totally agreed with me but one aggrieved Spurs fan accused me of knowing nothing about football.  Well excuse me!   I have been watching football since 1956 when I began to watch the Wolves become the first team to compete in Europe.   I became enchanted by magnificent football when I watched Real Madrid (with the great Puskas) destroy Eintracht on a flickering black and white screen.  I was at Wembley in 1966 to watch England win the World Cup and there again two years later to watch Manchester United win the European Cup.

I gave away my Season Ticket for Chelsea on Capital Radio in the seventies when they got rid of Osgood, Cook and Hudson, the only reason to watch them, and I have subsequently devoted myself to watching every game I can without prejudice, for I will no longer support a football team.  It’s like dating a hooker:  they’re certainly going to let you down.

So how to counter such rudeness?   Usually a simple fuck off will suffice, but then sometimes people thank me for that, which is perverse.   It also seems rude to the rest of the Twitterverse who get to witness my bad manners.  Somehow it’s setting a bad example.   I have used GFY as a more polite form of response, since anyone who doesn’t understand the acronym can hardly complain, but that too seems unnecessarily bad tempered, and oddly the Glaswegian whom I used it on seemed to appreciate it, and it was quite a feather in his cap to his fellow Glaswegians.  But then Glaswegians have a much healthier attitude to abuse.   Perhaps I need to learn from them….

So, to Twitter or Twitter not?    Tweet me (like a fool).



Liner Notes

By , November 18, 2012 5:40 pm

My friend Jeff Lynne has asked me to write some liner notes for his CD.  In a cavalier moment when he was worried about writing them I airily offered to do the job.

“Oh would you?  You’ll be able to do it easily” he said “Because I can’t.”

“But Jeff” I said “you have done everything else.  All the writing, all the recording.  All the singing.   All the selling.”

“But I haven’t a clue what to do, or how to write liner notes” he said.

“Nothing to it I said.”    But I lied.  My only previous experience was writing liner notes for the second Wilbury’s album, and I think I just copied what Michael Palin had done for the first.  Clearly the thing to do was to find somebody funny and copy them, so my first move was to co-opt Billy Connolly into joining us for dinner.

“Liner notes” he said, “they still have liner notes?   I thought they went out with the Titanic.”  “That’s Liner, Billy” I said.

The story so far.   In a fit of egotistical madness Eric Idle has agreed to write the liner notes for Jeff Lynne’s album, but so far he has no idea what to do.  He is assembling for dinner with Jeff and Billy at an expensive West Hollywood watering hole, called The Expensive West Hollywood Watering Hole.  He has sat with Billy for half an hour and made a bad joke about Shark Infested Waiters at the Peninsular.  They are waiting for Jeff.  He appears.

“How are the Liner Notes going?” he asks.

“Nothing to it” I lie.

But it’s a dilemma. I have Billy Connolly to help me, but he isn’t much help, he just keeps collapsing into a pile of giggles and staring wistfully at the waitress.  The waitress is really worth a stare, but she has no place on these liners notes.   I ask Billy what he wants to eat.  He says “I want nothing bouncy or jiggly.”

“Seems to me”  I say “the waitress falls into that category.”

Billy stares morosely into the distance.   I know that look to mean he’s thinking.  “For the serious collector” he says “the vinyl CD.”

“Oh yes and you can download it” I say.  The idea slips into the sand and drains away.

“I like that” says Jeff.

“How about we say originally it was a Virgin record?  It had no hole in the middle.”

“That’s not funny” said Jeff.

“Alright” I say “we’ll improvise. Its 1932….” I begin.

“I had just woken up and was feeling wretched” continues Billy.

“I was lying in the street next to a donkey.   Nice ass I said.”

“’Listen to this mate’, said the donkey putting on a Jeff Lynne album and a small sleeveless Fair Isle knitted pullover…”

“Adding a small moustache he set off to invade Poland….”

Because he couldn’t spell Czechoslovakia.”

This too sank into the sand.  There was a moment of silence as Billy stared at the long legs of the waitress.

“They’re all strumpets!” he said suddenly and very loudly in his Scottish pastor voice. “Whoors, harlots and strumpets the lot of them!”

“First of all they’re not strumpets,” I said, “One or two of them may be on the sluttish side, but I never met a slut I didn’t like.”

“Put that down” says Jeff, “that’s good.”

“For the liner notes?” I say in disbelief.

“Maybe” he says.

I know Armchair Theater very well.   It’s a lovely album isn’t it?  I mean either you know it or you’re about to, and either way you’ll love it, but nowhere is there anything in it about sluts.  Even I don’t think that’ll fly. We abandon our pathetic attempts to be funny and drift on to other subjects and an enormous amount of food is eaten.

“Are you still doing my liner notes?” says Jeff, as he reaches for the check.

“Oh yes,” I lie.


Jeff Lynne has two new albums out at the moment:  Long Wave, and  Mister Blue Sky, the very best of Electric Light Orchestra. for details and downloads. 


How will you spend Dick Day?

By , November 11, 2012 10:17 am

We all know Tuesday is Dick Day, one of the oldest of all the Holidays, and many of you will be asking yourselves How shall I celebrate Dick?  What has Dick done for me this year?   Should I encourage friends to come over for a Dick Day Party or should I throw a Dick Day Dinner?  The answer is Yes but be careful.   Alcohol and antlers do not mix.

Here are a few “tips” to make your Dick Day go with a Bang.

You may send Dick Day cards, or wear Dick Day Shirts, or dress up and surprise your friends before Dawn with the traditional “Oy mate it’s Dick Day” greeting, where you bare your buttocks to their doorway, but do be careful: antlers can be painful.

If you want some handy tips, Martha Stewart’s “A weekend of Dick in the Hamptons” is a dandy guide to this holiday.  Martha finds Dick “a bit of a handful.   So many people expect too much” she says, “that it can often be disappointing.  The secret is in preparation,” she says and Martha has a secret preparation that helps.

“Spotted Dick is a traditional British food,” says Martha and  “I have Spotted Dick this morning.”

Martha shares this recipe and thousands of others from around the world.  “People celebrate with all kinds of traditional foodstuffs:  Coq au vin in France, Potted Dick in Oslo, Peking Dick in China, and in Spain, Paella with antlers.”

Historians disagree as to the origins of Dick Day, which has been celebrated for centuries with traditional dances, odd songs, and peculiar foodstuffs.  Some believe it was the Vikings who regularly invaded the British Isles in search of a game of Bridge.  “It’s Dick Day Schmucks” they would yell in Vikingese stepping ashore with swords in their other hands; and Dick Day is still celebrated in Scandinavia, by bringing out the Dick Stick, and using it for a dance with antlers.

“Bist du Dik ou Bist Du Doek? “ is the traditional chant which roughly translated means “Are You Dick or Are you Duck?”

If you answer “I am Dick”

Then they will hit you with their stick

But if you answer “I am Duck”

Then they sing “You’re out of luck!”  and hit you with their stick.

Nobody knows why.

In St. Petersburg they dance around a Pole (or Latvian) slapping each other with Dicksticks,  or Schlappeschticks, (thought to be the origin of slapstick.)  Again antlers may be involved.

In Cumberland people race through the streets wearing blue bells and singing the traditional Dick Song: “Bring out your Dick!”

If you have no Richard in the house you must say

“Move along for one thing’s clear

We have no wee Dickie here”

And then you must offer them porridge.

In Poland on Dick Day people hide a spare pair of glasses in a cellar or closet, to keep away short sighted evil spirits.

In Catholic Spain there is a traditional display of Bell ringing followed by hand wringing.

In Iceland people spend Dick Day getting warm. Dick cake is still cooked in Edinburgh and handed out to passers-by willy nilly, while nearby Glaswegians give each other hangovers on Dickmanay, for nothing says Dick quicker than alcohol.

In Norfolk young girls chant

“O I am sick of Dick

Give me a Peter or a Thomas quick!”

before swallowing the traditional Dick Drink (a mixture of Pims Cup and petrol) and playing traditional games like Bobbing for Bananas or Pin The Tail on the Transvestite.

There are too, traditional Dick Day jokes.  These two are my favourites.

1)     Are you a Dick?


Oh.  ha ha.

And the second, almost as funny.

2)     Are you a Dick?


Oh.  Pity.

These jokes never tire.

In Nevada at the famous Burning Dick festival they will torch replicas of famous Dicks.  Here are the most popular from last year

1)      Richard Simmons

2)     “Tricky Dickie” Nixon

3)     Little Richard

4)     Keith Richards

5)     Dick Cavett

6)     Moby Dick

Again antlers can be involved.  But do be careful: Marriage and antlers do not mix.


This week celebrate Dick Day by downloading What About Dick? Eric Idle’s new comedy musical thing with Russell Brand, Billy Connolly, Tim Curry, Eric Idle, Eddie Izzard, Jane Leeves, Jim Piddock, Tracey Ullman, and Sophie Winkelman available for only six bucks from


Big Bird Breathes Again

By , November 7, 2012 9:12 am

Four years ago on Election Night I was in the First Class Lounge of British Airways at LAX waiting to fly to Barcelona to see Spamalot.  There was a tall, rather drunk man standing on a table, waving a champagne glass and cheering very loudly.

It was me.

So though I can’t vote don’t mean I can’t feel, and I feel we all just dodged a bullet.   Big Bird can breathe easily again.  Ethel Mormon has left the building.  Fortunately for us all, Romney was born with a silver foot in his mouth.   Finally, just when he seemed to have the prize in his improbable grasp, his God let him down.  He brought a mighty wind and a tempest to remind us what Obama was good at: governing.  Global Warming, that hype to prevent businessmen freely polluting the planet, had struck again in a devastating way.  “Good job Brownie” echoed through our minds as we watched the Candidate pathetically fake a food drive, handing bewildered people cans of Spam to donate to New Jersey so they could shake his pampered hand for the cameras.

This year I was not quite so rowdy at the bi-partisan Election Night Party held at Café Cordiale.  (And, by the way, expecting politicians to be bi-partisan is like asking Hugh Heffner to be bisexual. )  My wife was extremely anxious.  She had heard me muttering darkly about learning Chinese and moving to Tokyo.  On TV the vast red states like tectonic plates seemed to be forcing the country apart, threatening a new continental divide.  There was a lot of paranoid talk of election rigging.  We should have taken heart from Rachel Maddow, who, as we were leaving, announced that the Romney camp was not taking phone calls.  That silence presaged the end: they knew.  A loud cheer from the bar announced the barely believable news that the nightmare was over.  This Book of Mormon was closed, and over at my table the British were coming, with relief and joy.  So we spent the evening happily listening to Bern, the fabulous twelve piece soul band, with three great singers, led by the incomparable Bernie Dressler, the lead drummer of The Dicktones.  They rocked the night away.

So thank you America, on behalf of the rest of the world.  It’s a nicer country to live in today.  And, mercifully, it’s all over.