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A shower of cuts

Gordon Brown performs at the TUC in Liverpool. But Gerry Corner swears it was an actor who had the X-factor

Written by . Published on September 19th 2009.


A shower of cuts

THE air was blue on day two of the TUC conference in Liverpool – but not Tory blue, obviously.

First, former West End star Graham Hamilton was using the “F” word to great effect on delegates at the BT Convention Centre. Later, the Prime Minister produced a rather different reaction with the “C” word. “Cuts”, you understand.

Frustratingly, he
missed his best
chance of a laugh
when reporting advances in global healthcare: “Five hundred million children to be vaccinated, millions more with free health care”. “And,” he should have added, "we've finally got rid of TB for good – Tony Blair, that is!”

You had to feel for Mr Hamilton, who was speaking on behalf of the actors' union, Equity. His forcefully delivered expletive earned him the ovation of the week from the hall, but a ticking off from TUC President Sheila Bearcroft.

Meanwhile, after Gordon had threatened to cut this and cut that, Ms B thanked him for his “inspiring words”.

Even so, ten minutes into Gordon's address and one delegate was finding more to interest him in a copy of the Congress Guide 2009.

The PM needed to take a leaf from veteran thespian Mr Hamilton's animated script - he had, after all, played Fagin in Oliver!

And then he did. I've got to pick a pocket or two, Brown said, but only those belonging to the highest earners. Applause. Things were looking up. When he laid into the Tories, words like “callous” and “cold-hearted” tripping off the tongue, even the man engrossed in his Congress Guide was looking up.

There was more applause when, following a silent vigil the previous day, Brown vowed to fight racism. Or rather to fight “ray-shism”, for Gordon appeared to have a problem with that soft 'c'. Perhaps he'd been thinking what a soft 'c' Tony Blair was and just wasn't concentrating.

Luckily, he didn't have the same

problem with the 'c' in city, otherwise his attempts to compliment the conference location could have backfired (“When I arrived in Liverpool, I looked around your shitty centre . . .”).

By the end, the packed hall stopped short of awarding the PM a standing ovation, but they certainly weren't booing and, for the Number Ten media machine, that counts as a result.

It was never going to match the approval rating for Mr Hamilton's Equity speech, but then he had several advantages over Mr Brown. For a start he's had years more practice pretending to be something he's not. And he's funnier.

Gordon doesn't do funny. So when he observed, with a grin, that the questions posed to him by young people following his speech were “much better than we get in the House of Commons”, everyone smiled politely.

Frustratingly, he missed his best chance of a laugh when reporting advances in global healthcare: “500 million children to be vaccinated, millions more with free health care”. “And,” he should have added, "we've finally got rid of TB for good – Tony Blair, that is!”

The man from Equity was using humour to deliver a grave message, hence the profanity which came at the end of a very long joke preceded by the words “I'd like to start with a very quick story.” Halfway through he was heckled by the president: “I hope this is part of your allotted time,” she frowned. “Oh, indeed yes!” he confirmed, then pressed on without missing a beat.

In a nutshell: an actor gets a part in a film, he only has one line, “Hark, I hear the sound of cannon”. He practises it, and he practises it (here Mr Hamilton gave full range to his acting repertoire). The big day comes, he runs on set, there's “a God-awful explosion” and he says “what the fuck was that!”

You had to be there. Then came the serious health and safety bit. The sound of a cannon firing, he told delegates, is achieved by setting off a balloon in a steel bomb tank. “Standing too close to that can ruin an actor's hearing for life.”

Despite Ms Bearcroft's rebuke (“we've had more complaints of bad language,” she sighed), shouts of “More!” rang out as Mr Hamilton left the stage. What Gordon would have given for that.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Fruit and cnut caseSeptember 16th 2009.

you would have to be mad to queue up for an hour and listen to this sort of rheroric from gordon brown

Corner's AgentSeptember 16th 2009.

He writes his own headlines, too, you know. Corner, that is, not Brown.

AnonymousSeptember 16th 2009.

I enjoyed reading this. Thanks

Royal CourtSeptember 16th 2009.

That must be why it says Our Day Out is on at the Empire in their arts editor's report.

King Cnut of CroxtethSeptember 16th 2009.

I am fed up with filthy profanities in my headlines.

Tory voterSeptember 16th 2009.

How dare Gordon Brown use that sort of language.

ELSeptember 16th 2009.

You're missing a letter from the headline!

AnonymousSeptember 16th 2009.

Very colourful reportage Mr Corner, You should have been a journalist. But fair's fair, lets have a bit more red.

Echoooooooooooooo!September 16th 2009.

That's nothing the Oldham chronic reporters now have to write their headlines, stories, take the photos, get the letteraset out, load up the barge and haul it to oldham for it to be printed , haul it back to Liverpool, collect the pasties from sayers, heat them up, and stand on the corner trying to flog them.

Night shifterSeptember 16th 2009.

I do believe Mr Corner is one of the Liverpool Echo's finest and most respected ex-staff journalists of recent times. A great piece, I thought Lord Gerry, without fear or favour. made me laugh too

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