“WE came in fancy dress like many England fans have in the past, but these people did not see the funny side at all – they were very nasty.”

Thus spake a nameless England fan interviewed by the S*n after he had been refused entry to a World Cup match because he was wearing a Crusaders outfit. No, not the North Belfast soccer team kit – the chain mail suit and hood and St George’s cross tabard of the medieval religious adventurers.

Bad craic, people in a Muslim country failing to see the funny side of the Crusades. What’s the matter with people? Personally speaking, Squinter finds it hilarious that so many Muslims were put to the sword by Christian fanatics. Clearly we can’t be sure of the figures a thousand years on because when Pope Urban ordered the first Crusade to claim back Jerusalem spreadsheets weren’t a priority, but estimates vary between a million and two million. In the same ball park as the Famine, matter of fact, and we all know how we’d laugh if English fans went to a match in the Aviva wearing Lord Cornwallis t-shirts.

Say it’s a cold and wet Monday morning and Squinter is in need of a wee lift. It’s then that he’ll look up the Ayyadieh Massacre and, boy, is it a rib-tickler. After the siege of Acre in 1190, Richard the Lionheart attempted to organise a hostage-swap in a deal involving Saladin handing over a piece of the ‘True Cross’ – the crucifix upon which Jesus died. It didn’t happen and so in full sight of the Muslim army around 3,000 men, women and children were slaughtered – beheaded, stabbed and beaten to death with rocks. Reading about that is bound to brighten up the darkest of days. And what’s the World Cup about if not celebrating our shared humanity?

The Tory press in Britain were as horrified by the cancelling of the latter-day Muslim-slayers as the bloke in the fancy dress costume was, mostly because they engage daily in an anti-Muslim Crusade of their own. But if the sensitivities of Muslims don’t concern them, they are fiercely protective about the feelings of the Jewish population, as witnessed by their impassioned assault on alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

But the guys with the lances and swords who went off in search of the Holy Grail didn’t just put Muslims to the sword – they dispatched Jews with equal enthusiasm. In a blood-soaked litany of horrors, the Rhineland massacres of 1096 is perhaps the most notorious. On their way to the Holy Land, Crusaders carried out a series of mass murders, wiping out entire Jewish populations in Speyer and Mainz. Some historians view these events as an early  staging post on the path of violent European anti-Semitism that would eventually lead to the Holocaust. But while the Daily Gammon strongly believes that Brits should be allowed to wander about a Muslim country in Crusader outfits, Squinter’s not sure that they’d go in to bat for Nazi costumes in Poland.

Darren starts his latest chapter

AFTER having briefly lost his gig as a GB News presenter and then got it back again, Darren Grimes has permanently lost his gig at GB News. Getting the bullet from Britain’s most mouth-frothingly right-wing channel takes some doing, as evidenced by the fact that the roster reads like it’s an orphanage for traditional media and political has-beens and never-weres.

We don’t know what occasioned the final break, but the TV demise of Gammon Britain’s most entertainingly gormless reactionary must have come as a blow to former DUP leader and GB News presenter Arlene Foster, who considers Darren a chum.
Darren wasted no time in his fight to reclaim his voice, launching the modestly titled ‘Voice of Britain’ wartime, sorry YouTube, channel from a back bedroom of his parents’ house in Geordieland.

Arlene was quick to offer her support and encouragement on Twitter. “What I love about my mate Darren Grimes is that he annoys all the right people. All the best Darren. x.’
Surrendering your affections to someone because they get on the wick of people you don’t like is hardly a soaring testament to the power of love, but poor Dazza needs all the solidarity he can get at this difficult time because even before the exit door at GB News had stopped revolving Darren was back trending on Twitter – and, as ever with his social media adventures, not in a good way.

The noted director Sam Mendes has produced a new Oliver Twist audiobook which is available on the online platform Audible. As you can see from the poster, it stars the multi-award winning Brian Cox as Fagan and newcomer Emilio Villa-Muhammad as Oliver.

QUERY: Darren Grimes has a query about Dickensian England

QUERY: Darren Grimes has a query about Dickensian England

You may have noticed that the young actor playing the title role is black – a fact that was certainly noticed by the usual social media suspects in Brexit Britain, who took time out from popping a vein about Meghan and Harry, Greta Thunberg and Gary Lineker to intone with spittle-flecked indignation that the boy who asked for more is white. Darren agreed, tweeting sarcastically alongside the poster ‘Who knew Dickensian England’ was so diverse?’

Well, Darren, the answer to your question is that anyone who has ever done even the most cursory reading on Dickensian England would know that it was a veritable melting pot. Indeed, the Dickens Museum describes 19th century London as “an incredibly diverse city”.

And a black or mixed-race baby ending up in an orphanage and being sold into child slavery is not only highly possible, but statistically more likely.

Or maybe Darren was actually referring to a Scotsman playing Scrooge.

Not that having been employed by GB News is necessarily a bar to advancement for Darren. The channel may be a Punch and Judy show with ever more extreme neoliberals puppets spouting ever more extreme hard-right talking points, but the BBC has just appointed a GB News former Director of Programming as their new Director of News.

He’ll be in good company – the Director General of the Beeb is a former Conservative Party councillor and its Chairman has donated close to a half a million quid to the Tories.
On second thoughts, maybe GB News isn’t that bad.


HONOUR: Princess Anne handing over Bangor’s city seal to Mayor Karen Douglas

HONOUR: Princess Anne handing over Bangor’s city seal to Mayor Karen Douglas

An ode to the newly-minted City of Bangor.
Athens has its many charms, 
With myth and history it disarms.
The Parthenon and the Temple of Zeus,
The primary wonders we adduce.
Paris has its Eiffel Tower,
Jazz music in a Montmartre bar.
Notre Dame is being repaired
Its glories soon to be unimpaired.
London teems with marvellous things,
Big red buses, Pearly Kings.
Big Ben strikes upon the hour,
Crown jewels adorn its stately tower.
New York’s Times Square neon flashes,
Yellow Cabs honk and Wall Street crashes.
The Bronx and Staten Island too,
A hot dog strolling in the zoo.
But Bangor City trumps them all,
With Poundland in the Broomfield Mall.
 B&M Bargains, High Street Vape,
The tourists stand with mouths agape.
The railway halt, the Translink station,
Treasures that bewitch the nation.
But Bangor’s pride, the World’s Eighth Wonder,
Would fairly tear your heart asunder.
It makes the rest with envy drool,
The pedalo swans in the Pickie Pool.