‘I’m backing the EEC Referendum 1974’ or (as they used to subtitle a Carry On Film) ‘Is that Robert Peston?’ or ‘My part in Kevin Keegan’s downfall…’ or ‘Goodbye and thanks for all the memories…’

Μemory is a fickle friend. I swear I remember the UK joining the EEC in 1974. The referendum on joining wasn’t a big deal in my life as, to be fair, I still had some years left at Primary School. I also vaguely remember ads promoting the Yes campaign, with celebrities like Kevin Keegan and Bruce Forsyth supporting that message. 

So much for childhood memories. The UK joined the EEC in 1973 without a referendum. There was a referendum in 1975, but that was to see if we’d stay in. And the ads with King Kev and Brucie may have been from the ‘I’m Backing Britain’ campaign of 1968!

Was I a particularly politicised or precocious two year old? Not that I remember. And do I really remember I’m Backing Britain? I’m no longer sure. Maybe these events have just morphed together in my mind. As I now struggle to remember my mobile number, that’s possible.   

Aren’t we lucky that many of us now have access to a part mechanical, part electronic, external repository of knowledge? At least there’s NO CHANCE there’ll be errors like these in the future…

And to help set the past right, and avoid any more muddled memories, here’s some pictures from the referendum campaign of 1975. Pictures, of course, can’t lie.

First up are the winners, Spoiler Alert. Jeremy Thorpe, Edward Heath and Roy Jenkins. Only one of these three men would go on to be tried at the Old Bailey. Thorpe, Leader of the Liberal Party, was charged with conspiracy and incitement to murder. He was acquitted on all charges. Click here for a recent take on this story.

To the far right, can you see a pensive and presumably youthful Robert Peston, long before he took ITV’s shilling?

And then, to risk misquoting that master of media manipulation, Donald Trump, ‘These are the losers’.

Is that Barbara Castle sharing a platform with Enoch Powell? And who knew Enoch Powell was the inspiration behind Douglas Adams’ megalomaniac and two headed hippy Zaphod Beeblebrox? To his left, I think, is a youthful and thinner Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party since September 2015.

This picture may lead to a new conspiracy theory. We certainly all need more of them. Does the BBC’s failure to rerun the Goodies really result from their fear that Tim Brooke-Taylor’s short-lived political career would for ever raise questions about Aunty’s impartiality? At least Tim stayed awake, unlike the man sandwiched between him and Tom…

And the result, to quote Kenneth Williams in Carry On Cleo,

Dimbleby, Dimbleby, they’ve all got a Dimbleby…

 

I’m glad we cleared that up.

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What A Difference A Week Makes

Just over a week on from the UK General Election but in this short span of time, much more than just seven days has passed away.

I confess I got completely caught up in the election and followed it in fairly microscopic detail. This election was interesting right from its unexpected beginning. Back then many people, including me, thought it would be a procession leading inevitably to a huge Conservative majority.

Before 2017, and with the benefit of hindsight, Britain has suffered from a series of elections between pale, male dullards. Previous leaders of both the Conservatives and the Labour Party right back to the early 1990s have been as dull and grey as dishwater. Most of the contenders had been so faceless and nameless I don’t suppose you remember them either. They had all offered slight variations on running the country’s public services, with all the charisma and leadership credentials of a centre-leaning middle management accountant. The 2017 election would have at least two women who were likely to be key players.

During this long line of bland identikit politicians, Blair and Cameron were the two who initially looked like they might have real depth. At the time of their respective elections many people (especially them themselves) thought they’d develop into world leading statesmen. How wrong they were! How would you describe the decisions these two Prime Ministers made, for the UK, for Europe and the wider world?

They did both have depth. Sadly, it was a depth of bad judgement that made Gordon Brown’s missed opportunity to go to the country back in 2007 pale into insignificance. Anyone up for planning an event with lots of alcoholic beverages in a drinks factory?

I applauded Theresa May for seeking legitimacy through the ballot box when she announced the election. Her bravery in calling a snap election contrasted favourably with Gordon Brown’s unwillingness to do the same, during his very short honeymoon period. He missed his chance because next came the global economic meltdown. Both Brown and May were in strong positions at the time of their decision. Neither could know the future, any more than you or I can now.

During this seven week campaign, there were a number of stories that grabbed the headlines briefly. Many people would have expected questions about Theresa May’s competence to lead the government compared to Jeremy Corbyn’s. It was just the way it played out that wasn’t predicted by many, including most senior Labour politicians.

Scotland caught the eye. Questions around a second referendum on independence revealed an unbridgeable divide between people who wanted to maintain the union and those who want to rule themselves, often ironically with all the other countries in the EU being allowed a piece of the action as well.

Northern Ireland never got anywhere near being noticed. The long running consensus in the Northern Ireland Assembly had ended before the election was called, and the Westminster Government was threatening to take it over unless the two sides could kiss and make up. What else would there be to say about the election in Northern Ireland? It splits on sectarian lines and is totally predictable from now until what both sides of that divide believe will be the Second Coming. And anyway, the endgame is already clear. At some point in the next twenty odd years, Catholics will be the majority in Northern Ireland, courtesy of their fertility.

There were minor spats in Wales, and to be honest, many other stories bigger or smaller across the whole county. But with 650 constituencies in the UK, who’s really interested in a handful of seats going one way or the other, apart from the national politicians and those directly affected by the results.

UKIP never looked like they had anything left worth hearing. One day the Greens might be proved right that ‘Without a prosperous and thriving environment, there cannot be a prosperous and thriving economy’ as Caroline Lucas said. But in this election, like every one before it, there are always more pressing issues closer to home that people focus on rather than look at long term goals. 

Then through the night after polling day, we had the results and the dramas, the joy and the tears, the oddbods with silly names in silly costumes losing their deposits and the unexpected excitement of the voters’ actions. During the long dark night, Nick Clegg chose to say he was dying by the sword, which in view of recent Terrorist atrocities, showed the same judgement that led to him becoming deputy Prime Minister from almost nowhere in 2010 and then presiding over the collapse of his Lib Dem five years later.

From the following morning, the analysis of success or failure, with its resultant celebrations, recriminations and the like, took centre stage. The Conservatives ‘won’ but seemed lost, Labour lost but seemed to believe it had won.

Then the uncertainty of there being no overall majority for any party. 

And then the chance of some mutually beneficial deal between the Conservatives and their more right wing, socially conservative cousins from across the Irish sea arises. This thrust into the limelight ten DUP MPs who are led by the former head of the Northern Ireland Assembly and also former head of the department responsible for the ‘Cash for Ash’ scheme. This was an environmentally friendly scheme to encourage businesses to change from burning fossil fuels to using renewable heating systems.

Unfortunately, it’s allegedly a flawed initiative as it pays out more money than the cost of the fuel used and the architects seem to have forgotten to put a cap on the total subsidy that can be claimed. So, the more a business spends on burning fuel, the more it can claim back. For every £1 a company in the scheme spends running their new heating systems, they receive £1.60 in subsidies. One farmer has allegedly earned over £1m in public money, heating an empty building. By the time the scheme ends, it’s estimated that it’s going to have cost Northern Ireland about half a billion pounds.

The results since a whistleblower revealed this alleged scandal have yet to be fully resolved. In the meantime, you can decide if the alleged sabotage of the Good Friday Agreement is a greater or lesser issue for the DUP, the Conservatives and the other parties in Northern Ireland.

And then, in the early hours of June 14th the world turned on its head. The most appalling tragedy unfolded. None of the above matters anymore, other than how it affects the inquiry into Grenfell House and the changes that will have to be made to ensure this sort of tragedy never happens again.  

Rob Humphries
17 June 2017

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Huffington Post Blog Pre Referendum: Ask not for what you want for your country, Ask ‘What is best for your mother tongue’…

The arguments used to win over the uncommitted in the British referendum have been so confrontational. They’ve focused on divisive issues like immigration or silly claims that in 13 years time Brits will earn exactly £4 300 less.

You’re losing the ability to rule yourselves, says the right wing press, blinkered by bitterness at their declining control of the people.

Meanwhile those who cry wolf on the Remain side have run such a negative campaign that I’m convinced that if Britain votes leave this week, I’ll wake up the next day and find all my shoelaces have dissolved.

This is an appeal to think along a different line. I’m English. I speak English. I’m not unique in this: so do my fellow countrymen and the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish who currently comprise the UK. Then there’s the other half of Ireland. Jump the pond and those damn Yankees do too…

The ripples of the English language cover the globe. 54 countries have it as their official language. Many of the globe’s biggest organisations use English. Fans of acronyms can note this includes the UN, EU, NATO, ICC, OPEC Etc.

English is big. It’s not just used by Brits abroad to order a Sunday Roast on any given day.  It’s a lingua franca. It’s the medium for speakers from two different countries of two different languages to get along together. All over the world people who’ve learnt English after their own language are talking to others who’ve done the same, in ENGLISH.

About one billion people are learning English now. That makes English as popular as Facebook and as powerful as the seven Google products that have a billion users each day. 

I’ve lived in Spain for ten years. I’ve seen Russians chatting with Swedes, Spaniards talking to Dutch and many, many other combinations. And I’m able to join in the conversation as and when. This is a powerful social tool and it provides valuable opportunities too. My nephew has escaped the lack of decent graduate jobs and the drudgery of the Recession by teaching English to school kids in Asia. He’s having a wonderful time, he’s travelling, broadening his mind and getting paid a bit.

English oils the wheels of commerce, too. It’s the global language of business. More and more multinational companies use English as their corporate language, including Microsoft in Beijing. Computers use an architecture based around English.

This is not the place for a history lesson. It’s not necessary to know that the roots of English lie with the Germanic tribes who  occupied parts of the country from the Seventh Century onwards. But it is right to note that many people who’ve come to England at different times, speaking different languages, have added to the language. Nor is this the time to discuss in any detail how English has reached this position. Chance, the spirit of adventure, trade, the wars, the conquests, the defeats, the good and the bad brought it to here. 

It’s a blinkered view that says Britain has lost the power to govern itself. That focuses on the loss of power of Britain to bend others to our will. But almost none of us ordinary folk have any say in sovereignty anyway. We’re led by unelected elites who manipulate society to ensure the success and continuation of their world view. Plus the odd politician. Darwin was right. Whether this elite is English, British, European or even one day Chinese doesn’t make much practical difference to me.
But I am in control of how I connect to the world. This is a power I have inside me. And the more others who also connect in English, the better off I am, culturally, socially, financially etc.

It’s time to show my hand. I work in Spain for an English language talk radio station. Talk Radio Europe. We talk to Expats, holiday makers, visitors and we have a strong listenership from people learning or wanting to improve their English. I, and my fellow English speakers, benefit from this.

The promotion of our language should be an important factor in our vote. Do you think leaving the EU will aid the success of our language? Do you think our language is successful enough that its global use will see its continuing triumph? I don’t know. I’m not from the British spirit of adventure camp. I’m more a quiet liberal with a lifetime of programming to do the right thing. I can’t not start by seeing both sides of an argument: On a good day, I can find a way to move through that.

However we vote in the referendum, we should bear in mind the importance of the language we carry with us. Think not just of ‘isolated’ or ‘independent’ Little England or ‘in the club’ or ‘bullied’ Great Britain. Think of what’s best for our mother tongue.

As someone from an extinct language once said ‘Carpe Diem’.

Rob Humphries

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The Celebrity Wedding

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I wasn’t allowed to talk about it until it had been in Hello, but I’ve done my first celebrity wedding.


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It was a magical day. If you’ve followed Russell’s story, over the last few years, as I have, you’ll know it’s a miracle he’s alive. Some of the best weddings I’ve ever done have been for family and friends. Because some of Russell’s life is in the public domain, I felt like I was at the wedding of someone I knew, yet we only met on the day of his wedding.

That’s part of being famous, I guess, that people think they know you and you lose some of your privacy. To be fair you gain too: I don’t remember Hello asking to be at my wedding! In Russell’s case he became famous for his wonderful singing voice and what he’s achieved with it.

 

As for me, I played background music during the dinner and DJed at the party.

Talking of fame, I almost got my picture in Hello. You can almost see me in the background during the first dance, almost.

So near yet so far…

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Congratulations to Lizzie Marriage who got to star in two pictures. Jealous? bitter? Moi?

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You can read what the couple said about their wedding here: hellomagazine.com/brides/2015083127016/russell-watson-wedding-exclusive/

I wanted to say thank you to the people I spent the day with. Thank you to Heather at Fiestasol for recommending me to be the DJ. She ran a very smooth operation on the day. As you can see from the photos of the venue, Tara at Fiestasol created a beautiful look for the wedding. It was a pleasure to meet Raffaele Morelli and to eat at Restaurante Valparaiso. He and his staff treated me with great courtesy which, bearing in mind I wasn’t a guest, was appreciated.

And as for me doing a celebrity wedding, as far as I’m concerned, it was BUSINESS AS USUAL.

EVERY HAPPY COUPLE ARE THE VIPS ON THEIR WEDDING DAY.

Every wedding is a unique event. And it’s focused on the two people getting married. I play a role in that day, but it’s all about the two people getting married and what they want.

I’m happy that Russell and Louise got that. We had a ball on the dancefloor.
And every wedding I work at is the same: it’s a one off.

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Your Unique Wedding on the Costa del Sol

It’s almost always a great joy to DJ for a couple at their wedding.

A lot of time, thought and preparation has gone into their wedding day. It’s a unique day and a unique party.

On the day itself, all the ingredients are in place for a truly memorable party: the guests they want with them at a handpicked location they’ve chosen.

For a wedding on the Costa del Sol, many of those guests will have put a lot of time and effort and money into getting here. So they have a bigger investment into it, as well. Most people are out to have a great time. Over the years, one or two guests must have gone home with no memories of what they’d done, apart from what the others can tell them the next day! There is a downside to all those cocktails, the wine and the free bar…

Some of the most special weddings I’ve done have been for family and friends. Special because there´s that extra connection of knowing the couple. But one of my main selling points is that I want the music played at your wedding to be as personal to you as it can be. That makes sure it’s right for the people there.

I can’t know all the Brides and Grooms I DJ for. But we can get to know each other enough. Ideally, we can meet in person, put faces to the names, and I can get a good idea of the music you want and how you see the evening panning out.

We can chat on FaceTime, like I’ve done recently with couples from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Gibraltar, which has been enough to make an effective introduction.

Or we can talk on the telephone, by email or WhatsApp. And, all the way up to the big day, we can use whatever works best.

And the reason why we share information: to make sure you get the music you want on your wedding day. That’s the important thing. The music your handpicked guests would choose, balanced between the different tastes there. 

And the DJ’s dilemma: what to do when one person shouts that you must play Happy Hardcore like Scooter NOW and someone else demands it has to be the latest Justin Bieber single. Maybe that’s why I’m not too worried about Spotify taking over all my work.

Spotify’s never going to drive home at the end of the evening, buzzing that it’s played a set that brought great joy to the Bride and Groom and their guests at their unique wedding. It won’t eat any sweets or cake either, but hey, that’s a different story…

Rob DJ

September 2015

 

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Testimonial from Hayley & Rob at The Lodge, Ronda 2015

Hi Rob,

We’ve just returned from our honeymoon and wanted to thank you so much for DJing at our wedding!

We were so pleased with the music you played and it was such a great atmosphere – everybody loved dancing until 6am! The music you played was a perfect balance of what we requested, some cheesey tunes, early 90s house etc and some oldies. We have some great pictures of everyone dancing away! The music at dinner was perfect too – all the songs we love.

Thank you so much for making our wedding so perfect, and we won’t hesitate in recommending you in the future!

Hope you are well,
Hayley & Rob

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2015 Testimonial From Villa El Soto, Sotogrande

Hi Rob,
Thanks very much for doing such a great job at our wedding at Villa el Soto.

You were so good to deal with before and during the wedding , and when the music had to be stopped after midnight we were so delighted that you moved your set downstairs and kept things going till the early hours.

We would highly recommend you to anyone we know
Thanks again
Stephen and Sarah , Villa El Soto , June 2015

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2015 Season, “Shut Up and Dance”

Finally, time to relax, look back on the start of the 2015 Wedding Season and write a blog about it…

So far this year I’ve djed mostly for Brides and Grooms from the UK and Ireland.

I’ve played at some of my favourite venues and a couple of new ones that I’m already looking forward to going back to.

Caught up a few times with Quike and Roberto. If you want to ramp up the energy on the dance floor you can’t do better than book one or both of them.

I’ve been booked by all the wedding planners that I worked with last year, and have bookings coming up with a couple of new ones.

This year I’ve had more direct bookings than I’ve ever had before. That’s really pleasing, because it shows my reputation is growing. It’s also thanks to the work of my website provider, Karl Smallman at http://www.provision360.com.

Here’s to the rest of the year…

Rob DJ

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Testimonials & Thanks, 2015

2015, “We continue…”

Rob,
What can I say… You absolute legend!! We had such a great time at our wedding and the largest amount of thanks for the awesome party is down to you! Cracking songs, cracking energy and I still find it unbelievable that I had to encourage you to go home at 5:30am!

Haha.  Slightly gutted I didn’t stay up until the sun came up, but what can I say, it was a busy day and I just hit the wall! I’ve had so many guests say how amazing you were and asking where I found you… If anyone plans any parties / weddings out in Spain, I’ll be sure to pass on your email! I hope your drive home wasn’t too tiring, thanks for trekking it the whole way to Gaucin for us! 🙂

Best wishes,
Aimee

Hacienda la Herriza, Gaucin, May 2015

 

-xxx-

 

Thank you so much Rob for helping our special day run so smoothly and your help with Jim and Jordana. Together you made it all perfect.

Big hugs and lots of love XXX

Katie

Hotel Kempinski, Estepona, June 2015

 

-xxx-

 

Hi Rob,

Just wanted to say a massive thanks for DJing at our wedding last week at the Finca, everyone said how great the tunes were and thank you for sorting our dinner play list for us 🙂

I don’t think there was a minute when the dance floor was not full!

Roberto was also amazing on the sax!

Thanks for all you did to help us. It was a great, great night.

Nat and Rich
Xx
Finca La Concepcion, Marbella, June 2015

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