There are some people who just annoy the hell out of us. Often for no apparent reason, but often because they are incredibly irritating, supercilious, arrogant and sometimes just not very nice. I'm sure I'd figure in some other people's lists of this nature - in fact, judging from what is said about me on Twitter, I'm sure I would!
Why is that some people flick a switch in us that wants to turn off the TV when they appear? Why do we take more notice of some people than others when essentially they are saying the same thing?
Why is that, given this list is entirely composed of men, women seem to provoke fewer extreme reactions of annoyance and irritation than men? I have no idea.
Is there anyone more irritating than Will Self? I only ever really see him on Question Time, and boy is it a struggle not to hit the off button. He's one of these North London types who appears to believe that he is so intellectually superior, that anyone else might as well shut up. His claim to fame is that he took heroin while on a plane with the then PM John Major. He was fired by The Observer but didn't see it as a big deal, commenting: "I'm a hack who gets hired because I do drugs". Nice.
Nick Rennison said he...
Is sometimes presented as a bad-boy outsider, writing, like the Americans William S Burroughs and Hubert Selby Jr, about sex, drugs and violence in a very direct way. Yet he is not some class warrior storming the citadels of the literary establishment from the outside, but an Oxford educated, middle-class metropolitan who, despite his protestations to the contrary in interviews, is about as much at the heart of the establishment as you can get, a place he has occupied almost from the start of his career.
Quite. He's a Corbyn supporting socialist who sent two of his children to private school. Go figure. He can't be all bad, though. As a hobby he collects vintage typewriters. Marginally up from manhole covers, I suppose.
If you think I've gone a bit over the top, Will Self's ex-wife seems not to be fan either. Read THIS.
Many people in the media are narcissists and egotists. It goes with the territory to an extent. It's pretty clear that to be a radio presenter you have to love the sound of your own voice, otherwise why would you do it? But there are degrees to it. Richard Madeley carries it off to perfection. The man is in love with himself in a way I don't think you can compare to anyone else. If he was chocolate he'd do us all a favour and eat himself.
I am of course jealous. Jealous of his hair. He's 62 years old, for God's sake, and has hair that wouldn't look out of place on an 18 year old. Luxuriant is a word invented for it. He's incredibly proud of it and uses cans of hair spray on it to ensure that not a lock is out of place. He also maintains its his natural colour. If he says so...
I wrote HERE about my last encounter with Richard Madeley in a Good Morning Britain studio a few months ago. I needn't go on...
There's no doubt Madeley is a talented presenter. You don't get the gigs he has had without talent. He's also capable of doing great interviews. But sometimes it becomes far too much about him and too much about how he can shock.
Let me start by saying something nice about Russell Brand. He's a West Ham fan. There, now I've got that out of the way, let's start.
Brand is the kind of celebrity who gives good copy. Whatever he says is reported and lauded by people who ought to know better. Five years ago the New Statesman, for reasons of publicity I imagine, allowed him to be their guest editor. I mean, FFS. As he demonstrated in a cringeworthy interview on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman, he has precious little to say that is worth hearing. He rails against the establishment, comes out with bizarre claims and counter-claims, and rants against the status quo and how awful the elites are to the poor – yet, when pressed on what he would actually do, mutters something about introducing a socialist egalitarian system. Paxman didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. So he sneered.
The attention he got when he came out for Ed Miliband in 2015 had to be seen to be believed. Miliband himself paid court to him and even visited his flat to record a video, which all went rather horribly wrong.
The anticapitalist Russell Brand visits the Occupy protest, while he stays @ London's most luxurious hotel, The Savoy. There's a word 4 that— Iain Dale (@IainDale) October 24, 2014
Brand is someone who knows exactly how to generate self-publicity but precious little else. He’s a pisspoor actor, an unfunny comedian but is apparently a very good shag. If I never see him on TV again, it will be too soon.
I don't know how much of Peter Hitchens' hyper-sensitivity is down to his conversion from Revolutionary Trotskyite to ultra-conservative missionary, but I have yet to come across anyone who is so sensitive to a mild word of criticism. Get one word out of place and he is able to ignore the main point you're making in favour of a minor exaggeration or slightly false assertion. And there's no arguing with him. He. Is. Always. Right.
Peter Hitchens is a very fine foreign correspondent. His writings from Russia, Iran or wherever are gripping. I've never understood why he doesn't play to that strength. And I've told him that to his face. He writes a weekly column in the Mail on Sunday - one of the few to survive the regime change - which is entirely predictable and lacks any form of wit or original thought. Still, at least he's got over the period of years when he just used one word to sum up his contempt for David Cameron and the Tories as "useless". How original. I've always suspected this contempt arose from the occasion when the Tories inexplicably failed to select him as a parliamentary candidate. Unlike us mere mortals, he thought he only had to apply and they would recognise his brilliance and select him. Since then, he's never really forgiven them.
Over the last few years he's continued to plough a lonely furrow in his continuing war on drugs. He has no truck with any thought that maybe the war in unwinnable and we should try a new approach to drugs law. In fact the very word 'liberal' sends him into a frenzy. The permissive society and Roy Jenkins, in particular are to be castigated and blamed for most of society's modern ills.
Hitchens has never forgiven me for having the temerity to reject one of his book proposals. It was a revisionist history of the second world war. I rejected it because it wasn't very good and I didn't think it would sell. I might as well have spat in his eye. This was six or seven years ago. The book was published this autumn by I B Tauris. History does not record how many other publishers rejected it in the meantime.
I've always laboured under the clear misapprehension that comedians are supposed to be, er, funny. And that they are there to make us laugh by telling jokes, rather than lecture us about the latest left-wing fad that's entered their heads. I suspect Marcus Brigstocke is great friends with Will Self as they both emit that inate sense of superiority that infects people who regard themselves as slightly above the rest of us.
When he's on Question Time he is very keen to impart how clever he is and rather than play the part of the 'quirky bloke on the panel' he deliberately eschews all attempts to be funny - probably wise - and tried to become a sort of university professor, becoming oh so preachy to the awful politicians. It should be noted here that after Brigstocke's 12 years of expensive private education he flunked a Drama degree at Bristol University.
I remember his ill-fated attempt to front a late night TV show called The Last Edition, which was supposed to be "Newsnight with jokes" but lamentably failed on all counts and it wasn't recomissioned. The journalist John Walker described it as...
A disastrous attempt" to mimic The Daily Show, which saw Brigstocke descending into "stumbling panic" when required to deviate from scripted gags
Clearly many people like and rate Marcus Brigstocke. Maybe I'm the exception, but if ever I see him come on TV I immediately reach for the remote control. he probably does the same to me if he's got any sense.
Professor A C Grayling
Until 2017 I'd never had the pleasure. Of meeting the nutty Professor, I mean. Until I met him I hadn't really got much of an opinion on him apart from he seemed to belong to that small group of people on the extremes of both sides of the Brexit debate who were beginning to suffer from Brexit Derangement Syndrome. He came into the LBC studio to spend half an hour debating Brexit with Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Jacob Rees-Mogg remained his usual calm self, but I profess to being taken aback by Grayling's words. I also recall being fascinated by his luxuriant locks, which almost rival Richard Madeley's in being acutely coiffeured to the point where they become an inanimate object.
Since then he has continued his rudeness to Jacob Rees-Mogg on Twitter, where he is third only to Alastair Campbell and Andrew Adonis in his anti-Brexit rantings. At least they both are basically nice people. I found Grayling (he doesn't appear to have a first name) to be thoroughly objectionable and rude. Seeing him debate with Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo on This Week did nothing to change my mind.
I rest my case.
President Emmanuel Macron
To achieve lower personal poll ratings than his predecessor Francois Hollande is quite an achievement, but that is what President Macron has done. He represents all that is worst in today's politics. Like Richard Madeley, he;d eat himself if he could. He has no real convictions, just to be popular and to be liked. He has all the failings of a typical 'small man'. He thinks of himself as a new Napoleon, whereas in actual fact he is the man who may well bring France to the point of a new revolution. His every word and every act gives succour and encouragement to the extreme right and extreme left of French politics.
The riots which are taking place in Paris and around the country every week are sure signs of a presidency in trouble. And what does Macron do about it? Go on TV live from the Elysee, preaching the virtues of unity and peace and telling the nation he has poor people at the front of his mind... while sitting at a gold plated desk. You really couldn't make it up.
The man is a shallow charlatan and even his erstwhile admirers in this country - mostly female, it has to be said - are beginning to come round to my view, expressed on the day of his election, that the man is an empty vessel. Good looking, superficially politically attractive, but when you look hard, there's nothing there.
And before you say it, I have enough self-knowledge to know that I would probably figure on many people's lists too!