STILLMAN ON SUNDAY is back - 10 years after my column was mysteriously banned, sorry, pulled from its regular weekly newspaper slot.




on Wednesday, September 16, 2015




My big fear with Corbyn is this: what if he’s being set up as a patsy? 

I posted this thought to my Facebook friends recently and now it’s time to elaborate.

They know things are reaching critical mass at a terrifying rate with Osborne’s austerity measures seemingly hellbent on preventing us from spending money needed to keep the economy moving.

Thirty years ago, when I came out of grant-funded journalist college, we had optimism, we had our independence, we had the prospect of buying our own homes.

Now kids come out of loan-funded unis tens of thousands in debt, reliant upon their parents’ pursestrings and with the prospect of having to live at home with mum and dad until they’re 97.

Only this week I wrote a story saying that 70% of 25-34-year-olds do not get a holiday unless they go away with their paying parents.


Coincidence or what?


But this is only the beginning. Throw into the mix:

1) Britain is unable to cope with an increasingly care-needing elderly and disabled population

2) Millions of workers - especially in driving-based and manufacturing industries - will be thrown on the scrapheap as more and more AI/computer-based systems render them useless. (Said in EL Wisty voice): “I don’t know. These robots. They come over ’ere and nick all our jobs”

Trust me. The brown stuff will really hit the fan between 2020 and 2025.

Funny that. This will be Corbyn’s term as PM if he wins the next general election.


But isn’t The Establishment supposed to nip people like Corbyn in the bud?


Yes. It’s a perfect functioning machine.

History teaches us that the good and the principled are prevented from getting to power at all costs and by any means. 

Those unfortunates among us who have been told too much know that every election candidate of every major political persuasion has to be vetted first by a powerful cabal of bankers, oil barons, judges and other éminences grises before they can stand for office.

Corbyn, It is my sincere belief, has been allowed to slip through this net to serve a purpose.

Does this make me a stupid conspiracy theorist?

OK, then. How else do you explain Blair’s constant attacks on Corbyn, something that They know will only help Corbyn’s popularity?

If They get a decent, genuine man in power just before that shit really does hit the fan, they will be absolved, say “I told you so” and have someone to blame. 

Blimey! You might as well put two horns and some hooves on Corbyn – if The Sun hasn’t already – because he sure is going to be the biggest scapegoat since Beelzebub.


As for the Labour Party …


Having had only 20 Labour MPs supporting him in the leadership vote, it’s difficult to see how Corbyn can keep his parliamentary ship afloat.

Hopefully, the upheaval within the party will help us to wake up and realise to whom the Establishment-approved Westminster-based puppets’ allegiances are, in order of priority:

1) perpetuating the Establishment and the richest 1% 

2) their party 

3) other MPs because as Galloway, like him or loathe him, rightly says: “The major parties are all cheeks on the same arse”

The people come a great big fat last.

How can Labour prevent leaving themselves in such an internecine pickle again?

There are many who think it was stupid beyond belief to let anyone pay £3 to get a vote.

You certainly couldn’t imagine the Tories doing anything similar.

It’s a thorny one. 

Because Labour could reform its leadership’s voting laws to exclude anyone but MPs.

But the parliamentary Labour Party needs the support of its members and unions and can’t afford to disenfranchise them.


Life imitates art


Today’s current political climate has uncanny parallels with Chris Mullin’s novel A Very British Coup.

And I urge you with all the gusto I can muster from one so slothful to check out Channel 4’s 1988 adaptation



A VERY BRITISH COUP: Uncanny parallels with today’s political scene


A brilliant performance from Ray McAnally as Harry “Corbyn” Perkins.

Compelling viewing and so relevant now.


Dividing opinion like Piers Morgan, Marmite and Kevin Pietersen


It’s the natural order of things that rich people and poor people alike will usually try and protect their own interests through the ballot box. That is, unless the rich are blessed with an unusual social conscience or the poor were force-fed a childhood diet of the Daily Mail and Express. I know I was. I grew up thinking that Tony Benn was the anti-Christ. 

Every time it looked like Labour were going to win power, my mum’s Daily Mail fearmongers would roll out the Benn bogeyman.

Front-page stories would scream that he was going to scrap the army, the Church, and probably even slaughter the first born of all England.


WHAT MISCHIEF! Can you believe the audacity of some naughty Facebook users?


So you can see why Corbyn now provokes the same terror and devotion in equal measure on either side of the political divide - except even more so, since he has the power of leadership.

There’s a temptation to see the new Labour leader’s rise for what it is. A fairytale. For all people are not created equal. Especially in this country. And They, as They did in A Very British Coup, will make life as awkward as they can for Corbyn with no expense spared, while allowing him to be the patsy. But we can always dream.

At May’s general election an apathetic electorate saw to it that more people vote for no-one than either the Conservative or Labour party.

So. Love him or loathe him, Corbyn has done one thing: he’s made politics interesting again.




I heard of Corbyn’s triumph at the inaugural Hull Local Authors’ Fair.

Nineteen of the area’s finest writers (and my good self) gathered at Hull Central Library to display our books and meet the public on Saturday (September 12).



WROTE THE BOOK, GOT THE T-SHIRT AND OPEN TO OFFERS FOR THE FILM RIGHTS: Hull Local Authors’ Fair attendees resist Stillman’s attempts to turn his debut novel Stalker, Bunny, Saucepan into a bestseller


There I met a reader who confessed to no longer possessing a mobile phone. Which in this day and age makes him some sort of one-man Luddite freak show. 

But he was anything but.

He told me he feels so liberated since and undoubtedly far more connected to what (or who) really matters … his fellow human beings; that is, the ones who bother to avert their glance from their mobile devices to ever engage in conversation.

Hull Book Fair, like the Corbyn bandwagon, I’m sure, will gather even more momentum.

But the former is sure to enjoy a smoother ride.




It is fitting that Brian Close’s death on Sunday (September 13) happened only four days after his beloved Yorkshire retained the County Championship title.

No less an authority than Ian Botham believes that no braver cricketer ever lived.

He not so much played as wore the ferocious West Indian attack in 1976 after being recalled at the relatively Methuselan cricketing age of 45. 

But still he refused to buckle. 

And he didn’t wear a helmet.

Four years later, when the Windies were next in town, I followed the inspirational Close’s example.

I won a national newspaper competition to face the likes of Holding, Garner, Marshall, Roberts, Croft et all. 

And, like Close, I did so without a helmet.

Health and safety would have been having baby cats had this happened today. 

I was only 15.


Close encounters of the first kind


Being psychic, and before Close fell ill, I wrote to him via Yorkshire County Cricket Club only three months ago before it was too late.

The letter expressed my appreciation of all the entertainment he had given us over the years.

Whether he got the letter or not, I don’t know.

I hope so.

The first and only time I met him was at the now-defunct Hemel Hempstead Pavilion, where he was on a speaking engagement.

He happily signed my copy of his autobiography I Don’t Bruise Easily.



I DON’T BRUISE EASILY: My copy of Brian Close’s autobiography


Like friends and colleagues before me, I too discovered that under the granite, dour exterior, Close was actually laughing on the inside. 

Former Somerset colleague Vic Marks described him in his Guardian obit as “selfless, generous, hilariously funny, a wee bit mad and awesomely brave.”



HE DOES BRUISE EASILY: Either you’ve been hit all over by the West Indies pace attack or you’ve been kissed all over by Divine Brown


Add to this, his confrontationalism, passion, unselfconsciousness and almost autistic honesty, and they’re all features which made Brian Close a true human being; features which would make him something to be treated with reservation and fear in many quarters today.


Close to a fetishistic love of pain


But nothing sums up his almost fetishistic, sadomasochistic-like relish of fast bowling-induced pain than the old classic Eric Morecambe joke: “I always know when summer’s here because you can hear the sound of leather on Brian Close.”

It’s impossible to believe that cricket’s most indestructible player has finally been taken from the crease at the age of 84.

It’s even more impossible to believe that he hasn’t come back from the dead to resume his mortal innings - reinforced by a couple of sticky plasters and a stiff brandy. 

But one thing’s for sure: when the Grim Reaper’s final bouncer struck him, I bet old Closey didn’t flinch.