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News Commentary: Credit the Band but not MPs

Credit the boys

Image - SYCO/Thames

TV talent shows can do a number of things; the obvious is giving somebody a chance to make it big and there any number of winners, runners-up and even those who never quite got that far, who have indeed gone on to greater things. Olly Murs never won The X Factor but there is no doubt he is an entertaining singer with a decent voice. He is only one example but showbiz is notoriously fickle and even a talent show winner can plunge rapidly back into obscurity after their brief time in the spotlight.

The X Factor does have its critics and so does Britain’s Got Talent, or BGT as it is often known these days. One of the criticisms levelled at it (and this applies to The Voice UK) is that it allows entry from people who are, or have, already starred somewhere else. It is of course, one thing to see somebody spend some time as a star before they fall off the cliff – there have been numerous examples, one being women who subsequently get married and have kids after a couple of years as performers. Then, away from the glare, spend time bringing up their children. Personally I don’t see too much wrong with giving somebody the chance to make a comeback. However, one criticism is that over people currently engaged as performers somewhere, and to a degree at least, successfully so, also appearing on BGT.

Saturday May 12, 2019, saw a band, Chapter 13 take to the stage in front of judges David Walliams, Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell. Four teenage boys, one 14, the other three 15, were, to say the least, impressive. Actually, they were fabulous and it was no surprise that Amanda Holden hit her ‘Golden Buzzer’ to send them straight to the semi-final, thus without having to go through any further selection by the judges.

The four met while performing in the west end musical School of Rock and this has attracted social media criticism as being unfair since they are already performers, with some critics describing them as ‘professionals’. This they are not at 14 and 15. With my mother being a singer herself (she never ‘made it’ in the UK but was quite popular in Germany and, curiously perhaps, Australia for a while) and my father a broadcaster, I spent a fair portion of my time as a teenager in the company of a number of rather well-known people, big name bands included, being behind the scenes and watching concerts from the side of the stage instead of bouncing around in front of it – although I did do a bit of that too. I also learned how to play the drums, getting lessons from a very well-known drummer in an equally well-known rock group – fun times.

So it might probably be fair to say I know a little about show business. Not a lot, just a little but I will suggest that these four boys may well find their careers ending when their time in School of Rock ends (if it hasn’t already). The trade is full of youngsters who have appeared in films, on stage, done well and, er, that’s it.

Chapter 13’s accomplished performance on BGT is explained by their previous experience, but I see nothing wrong with them appearing on Britain’s Got Talent. Its very rare to find kids in their mid-teens who can play their instruments as well as they did (drums, bass guitar, rhythm and lead guitars, with one being a decent singer) and they do rather bring a true meaning to the term, ‘Boy band’.

I hope they make it. I also hope they realise how extraordinarily fortunate they are in having had firstly the benefit of their stage work and, even more importantly, parents who obviously have the means to give their sons the equipment needed to strut their stuff. I’m sure they do, so rather than be critical, let’s give them credit where it's due.

Perhaps KJM Today could get an interview with them - that might be fun.

No Credit to Credit Cards and MPs.

It seems that, among the, usually justified, criticism of Members of Parliament another has reared its ugly head. Not content with the 2015 scandal over expenses, a number of MPs have had their Parliamentary credit cards suspended because they have been misusing them.

Now there’s a surprise. Not that some MPs have misappropriated taxpayers’ money, that’s almost par for the course these days, but that those who have been caught out have actually been caught and something done about it. Actually there are 377 of them, including a Cabinet Minister (twice) and the Leader of the Opposition. With 650 in total, that’s more than half of them.

With the onset of the European Parliament elections – elections that were not supposed to happen – calls for the mass de-selection of current MPs grows ever louder, as can be seen from the letters pages of various newspapers. One such letter was particularly revealing, the writer saying:

‘Their inability to tell the difference between work-related and private expenditure is nothing short of disgraceful. Serial offenders are stupid, deceitful or acting in a fraudulent manner.

They should be dealt with…with fines starting at £500 and increasing for each breach of the rules, leading to disbarment from office for gross misconduct.

Politicians don’t seem to care when it comes to taxpayers’ money. Yet another reason, if one was needed, to vote out these self-serving idiots at the next General Election and replace them with people from outside the world of politics.’

Obviously the writer has been reading KJM Today, since we have consistently called for almost all current MPs to be removed. I would however, disagree with the contention that fines should start ‘at £500.’

MPs are paid just under £80,000 a year (plus expenses), just for being an MP. That’s plenty and a distant, never-to-be-attained dream for most ordinary people. So perhaps the consequences should be more punitive; first offence – fined half their salary; second offence – one year’s suspension with no pay. If the constituency then triggers a recall petition, then so be it. A third offence means instant dismissal and prison for several years with no parole and a permanent life ban from any form of public office.

People are tired of unrepresentative, career politicians who have never done anything else and act with complete contempt for those who gave them their job.

The Travel Price Hike

On the subject of being ripped off, one almost inevitable consequence of four English football clubs reaching the finals of the Champions and Europa Leagues (Liverpool v Tottenham in the Champions and Arsenal v Chelsea in the Europa) is the astonishing rise in prices not just to get to the venues but also to stay even just one night having done so.

There is a long and very disreputable history of greed and ruthless profiteering when it comes to major events and although found everywhere, not least in rip-off Britain. One example is the annual Scale Model Show, held at Telford in Shropshire. At one time the cost of a hotel room was quite reasonable but the longer the show has been held there, the bigger and more established it has become and, significantly, the more well attended also. The show has been held at its present venue for just over twenty years now and a decade ago, hotel prices suddenly quadrupled as it was realised that the show wasn’t just a passing thing, it wasn’t going anywhere else and people wanted to come and stay locally for the weekend over which it is held.

Demand is often used as an excuse for putting up prices but this is just a cover for greed. It is all very well saying that high prices when something is going on makes up for below-cost pricing at other times but the essential point is still valid – if your price is so low when you aren’t busy, putting it up to extortionate levels when there is something happening is still just being greedy. Perhaps a more realistic pricing structure all year round might not be a bad thing.

© Kevan James 2019.

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