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West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 13 February 2009
Cartoonists weigh in against PM

A dour Scot with Stalinist tendencies or a political heavyweight saving the world from economic meltdown.
What you think of Gordon Brown probably depends on where you get your news.
The PM has become a favourite subject of cartoonists since coming to power. A new exhibition at the Political Cartoon Gallery in Store Street is showing some of the best, with more than 60 original drawings from such greats as Peter Brookes, Steve Bell and Dave Brown and Peter Schrank (see right).
Among his most lampooned features include physical quirks such as the “dumper truck” mouth, the chin drop and his sheer size, part of the bully-boy aura that cartoonists have helped create.
Apparently Brown dislikes his larger-than-life cartoon persona and actually complained to some of the cartoonists that they were making him too fat. It didn’t work though because, as you will see, he doesn’t shrink over time.
Browned Off runs until the end of March at the Political Cartoon Gallery, 32 Store Street, WC1.

Test match fans making a stand against waterboarding

DIARY expected Rory Bremner and his fellow comics to be deep in studious rehearsal backstage moments before the British Library’s one-off stand-up show last Wednesday evening.

To our surprise, we found the four comedians hunched intently over a small radio, listening to the England v West Indies Test match.
“You think we’re listening to the Test Match,” said Bremner quickly.
“But actually this is the closest radio station to Guantanamo Bay. We are working really.”
By complete chance, all the acts for Radio 4’s satirical current affairs round-up Political Animal – Andy Zaltzman, Chris Addison (The Thick of It), Paul Sinha and Bremner – are massive cricket fans.
Although pre-show planning centered on England’s customary wickets collapse, the gig in the library lecture hall still had surprisingly sharp teeth.
Zaltzman, Bremner’s collaborator on Bremner, Bird and Fortune, promised “to bring all the conflicts in the world to an end tonight” before observing that, among the European countries, England has both the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and the greatest support for the war on terror.
Both, he joked, showed a national predilection for easy conquests with no foreseeable end.
Bush, Blair and all the other usual suspects caught flak, and the torture method of “waterboarding” became something of a running joke.
“Like Ebola, waterboarding is not as much fun as it sounds,” mused Zaltzman.
The Asian comic Paul Sinha summed up the night as “having the guts to stand up to brutal, idiotic, bigoted behaviour wherever we see it.”

Instruments good enough for Boris…

WE hear Boris Johnson is on the lookout for an organ donor.
No, all those boozy lunches at the Telegraph haven’t wrecked his liver.
He’s asking for the kind of organ you play in a bid to encourage more youngsters to take up a musical instrument.
The instrument amnesty, as it’s being called, is part of Bojo’s assault on dumbed-down culture.
His aim is to wipe out the patronising assumption that kids just want to listen to hip hop and watch YouTube rather than learn Mozart’s symphonies.
Diary hears that a young Boris was once the bane of his housemaster at Eton for his tuneless piano recitals. He never made it past grade 1, apparently, so maybe he’ll be throwing it into the musical pot.
Mr Johnson said: “I’d like to see a significant improvement in formal and informal music teaching across the capital for the classical violinist and urban DJ, the folk guitarist and rock drummer alike.”

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