The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
It was an unashamed pleasure this week to see the Guardian go a small way towards nailing some of the stinky demons at the top of the Murdoch nest, by uncovering the scandal of wider mobile phone bugging.
Nobody interesting will go down of course - that would be too much to hope for.
But after shouting about the need for a serious attack on Britain's deeply damaging right-wing media base a few weeks ago, this feels to me like a great example for anyone thinking of doing some righteous damage for the greater good.
Let's go digging - they are all dirty. We just need to find it, publish it and down they will fall.
"It's funny how the current diaspora misdefines the whole concept of investigative journalism, in the name of back slappery"
It's a rare case where nobody involved in the case will pontificate on behalf of a law change, since everyone in journalism knows that privacy and libel laws are already in a dangerous place in Britain, overprotecting the powerful from the public interest.
But that's no excuse. It's funny how the current diaspora misdefines the whole concept of investigative journalism, in the name of back slappery.
Look at the hay made by the Telegraph in light of their MPs' expenses scoop.
I've read several columns by media observers lauding Telegraph staff for "investigative journalism."
Others, like one desperate twonk at uber-commercialist trade rag Marketing Week, even used the scandal to finesse the idea that print media is not defeated yet.
Without doubt, the truth is that the Telegraph just had someone walk in the door with stolen information to sell.
Nobody went out looking for dodgy MPs' expenses, because everybody knew they'd be impossible to pin down in any detail.
It was a leak extraordinaire, not any kind of ace undercover reportage.
Whoever sold the stolen goods didn't even go to the Telegraph first.
The expenses information was initially turned down by somebody senior at the Murdoch empire, which is yet another source of amusement because it must almost certainly have been someone very senior, probably with the M-word surname.
I read this brief but enlightening piece of background in one of the few places where investigative journalism still thrives - Private Eye.
Of late, Hislop's fantastic satirical fortnightly has been digging holes and uncovering skeletons on a completely different level to everybody else.
The Eye also pointed out that editors at the Daily Mail were kicking themselves that the expenses scandal fence wasn't savvy enough to knock on their door instead, because they would've paid far more for the same discs than the Telegraph could afford.
Yet again, with the battle between digital and conventional media reaching new heights of daily attrition, and the employment-management thing so strained that strikes are inevitable over the next few months, it's the content that ultimately let the side down.
It's not restricted to print media either - this savviness is why digital marketing struggles.
This week, digital trade rag New Media Age included a news item about the company Moonfruit, which hit the top of Twitter's most mentioned words by running a competition to win a MacBook where you had to mention its name in a tweet to enter the draw.
But what NMA didn't mention was that almost every "entry" mentioning Moonfruit was negative, with thousands of people basically slagging it off at the same moment as entering the competition.
I can't imagine the brand boost has actually worked in any kind of serious, positive way.
Suddenly, real people are too media savvy to dick around with.
This doesn't mean that mainstream taste has got any better - the market for celebrity sleaze and the London Lite re-imagining of how bad a tabloid should be is still dominant.
But people can't be sold shit in the same way, and that spells doom. We aren't fooled by the adverts anymore and without that, what's left?
The answer is rich, quality content.
When something is valuable and relevant, as the MPs' expenses clearly were, we'll dive in with enthusiasm and - crucially - pay money to learn more.
But when you try to sell us crap on the back of crap, we're walking like never before.