John Barclay as a pompous government minister

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John Barclay

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The Right Honorable Smo Ken Mirrors MP, Secretary of State for Obfuscation and Spin (pictured above), says that the last twelve months have kept him busier than ever, adding, “Excuses don’t grow on trees.”

Some people are still using the elbow-to-elbow greeting favoured by the Prime Minister. This is dangerous. They don’t realise that mutual bumping of extended elbows brings their faces closer together than one metre.  At least Boris Johnson wears a mask when he does it in front of the cameras

Wareham’s Rex Cinema, after months of restrictions, during which the building was gloriously updated and enhanced, reopened on Thursday 17th December, with a stage show entitled “The Old Man and the Opera Singer”, presented by mezzo-soprano Grace Lovelass, pianist Toby Nelms and “old man” me. Grace included musical parodies with words by me, some of which have appeared on this page. I gave an impression of the amazing Boris. The audience, small in number because of anxieties about the virus, enjoyed this rare live production and none of us became ill.

Meanwhile, another JB parody flutters low in the breeze.


When Britain, just as if it was at Heaven’s command,
arose to rule the azure main,
arose to rule, arose to rule the azure main,
flouting the charter, the charter of the land,
where rights for all were laid down plain,
cruel Britannia brought horror to the waves –
Britons, ever clever, built a trade in slaves.



Air pollution’s
getting worse –
“I can’t breathe.”

Rohingyan Muslims
persecuted –
“We can’t breathe.”

Uighur Muslims,
interned, brain-washed –
“We can’t breathe.”

Corona virus
chokes my lungs –
“I can’t breathe.”

White policemen
on our necks –
“We can’t breathe.”

Hong Kong Chinese,
gagged by fear –
“We can’t breathe.”

Ten thousand British
children slaves –
“We can’t breathe.”


YOU WON’T BELIEVE ME . . . (from the musical “Ryvita”)

It won’t be easy; you’ll think it strange,
when I try to explain how I feel,
that I still need your love after all that I’ve said.
You won’t believe me.
All you can see is the wife you once knew
hacked off and stressed up all the time,
at sixes and sevens with you.

I had to let it happen; you had to try
just to (once in your life) make a meal.
I kept out of the kitchen, I kept out of your way.

You had your freedom,
farting around, seeing what you could do,
but nothing impressed me at all.
I never expected it to.

– Don’t fry for me semolina.
– The truth is I never ate it.
– All through the dark days
– of total lock-down,
– I used to flush it
– all down the toilet.

And as for pancakes and as for pies
I never could understand yours,
though it seemed to your eyes they were all I desired.
That was illusion,
for you never gave what you promised to me,
although you were here all the time;
I’m glad that you’re now back at work.

– Don’t fry for me semolina.
– The truth is I never ate it
– all through the dark days
– of total lock-down,
– I used to flush it
– all down the toilet.

Now I’ve lost a stone!
There is no more I can think of to say to you,
but all you have to do is look at me to know
that ev’rything I’ve said is true.

JB   23.06.20

With all kinds of entertainment on hold because of the Covid lock-down, I am heartened by the number of requests coming in for free comedy material – see my Free Comedy Material page. Some of the sketches contain references that were topical when they were written, but I am enjoying updating them for 2020. Scroll down this page to peruse a paragraph in purple print.


You will have heard Dominic Cummings’ justification and the reaction of many who had suffered under the lockdown restrictions. But you may not have heard the version of “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” that a small group sang outside Mr Cummings’ London home that evening.

Don’t beg our pardon.
We heard you pleading in the Rose Garden,
but there in the sunshine
you gave us all a lot of pain that time.
You just take. You oughta give. We cannot forgive
or let go – oh no-ah no-ah no-ah.
Don’t beg our pardon!



Good morning! We were hoping to talk to the Secretary of State for Obfuscation and Spin but because of all the Cummings and not goings he is unavailable, but I talked earlier with a “Government Spokesperson” and I began by asking him or her, if scientific advice is so important, why the Government won’t publish it.

Because then it would lose its value.

How’s that?

While it remains unpublished, we can use the scientific advice to justify our policies. And when our policies are revealed to be unsound, we can blame the science – whether we’d followed it or not.

And a number of your policies have been exposed as unsound.

That’s right – our only really sound policy was the policy of not publishing the scientific advice.

The Government has announced that anyone entering the Country will have to self-isolate for two weeks. What do you hope achieve by this?

Achieve? Errrm . . . I don’t think the ministers went into achieving anything. It was a look from the Harm Secretary.

Priti Patel?

Pretty vicious.

You seem to be just muddling along.

Well, that approach is good enough for the second-most powerful leader in the world, . . .

President Trump?

At least we don’t gargle in bleach or swallow anti-mammalian drugs like “High-clocks-we-draw-oak-in – or however it’s pronounced.

Meanwhile, many people are suffering terribly.

Are they? They should write to us.  Maybe they did and we missed it. We have been very busy.

Well, they are exhausted, dangerously ill or dead.  I’m talking about the staff and residents of countless care homes.

Do careless homes count?

The residential homes of many of our most vulnerable, elderly people, were sent patients from hospitals – without first testing these patients for Coronavirus.

Maybe the testing tackle hadn’t reached the right quarter – although we’re tackling testing – and tracing (or keeping track of) “Track and Trace” – in case it’s lost without trace. We can test for the virus on dogs in the Isle of Man and in man on the Isle of Dogs. Black people are more likely to test positive but we can’t test black people on the Isle of White –  because the islanders are mostly white not black.

But it’s taking weeks to get the tests to where they’re most needed.

Look, we’re politicians – not delivery drivers for Amazon. And, contrary to public opinion, we are human. We make mistakes . . . . We just don’t admit them!

What can you tell us about Dominic Cummings? Is he going to go?

Well, yes, if his car’s working and his eyesight’s all right. But he’ll be back in the morning to run the Prime Minister as usual.

Thank you.



Thank you, Laura Kuenssberg. I’ll put that point now to the Secretary of State for Obfuscation and Spin, the Right Honourable Smoe Ken Mirrors, MP. Good morning, Mr Mirrors.

We are facing a challenge of unprecedented magnitude, but we are always guided by the Science. Covid 19 is a new virus and we’re learning all the time. I cannot praise our health professionals on the front line enough, while we ourselves are working around the clock and will spare no effort to ensure there’ll be enough intensive-care beds with enough intensive-care patients to fill them.

I put it to you, Mr Mirrors, that after years of austerity, despite alarming warnings, the NHS was ill-prepared to face a pandemic – even in the basic matter of protective masks and gowns.

We are facing a challenge of unprecedented magnitude always guided by the Science David 19 is very young and learning all the time I cannot praise our health professionals on the front line but we are working round the clock and I promise everyone that a packed lorry will be flown over from Turkey to arrive on Monday by 10.45 am.

The Covid testing is one big muddle, isn’t it?

We are facing a challenge of unprecedented magnitude but remain guided by the Science, while David (19) . . .

Mr Smoke ‘n’ Mirrors, you’ve made those points twice already.

Will you let me finish? I cannot praise our health professionals as we are working round the clock I promise that by the next full moon every home in the Country will have a personal testing kit of its own to check whether they have contacted David at any time.

You make amazing promises, Mr Mirrors, but politicians are fully occupied in determining policies and persuading people to go along with them. Wouldn’t it be better to entrust the practical tasks of procurement and distribution to an experienced executive from industry?

As I have said we are facing an unprecedented magnitude in the Science while David 19 is still very young I cannot praise our professionals at the front or the back where the apron strings tie up we’re working 24/7 and 7/24 so that by the second Bank Holiday in May everyone will have what they want whether they like it or not and we will stop at nothing to justify ourselves.

Thank you, Mister Smoke and Mirrors, for coming on the programme!

Stay at home – and spend 20 seconds washing your friends!

But “stay at home” has become “stay alert”. People are finding it confusing!

It’s not confusing – if they want to stay at home, they can move to Scotland!



with apologies to Harry Lauder, who was fortunate enough not to live in these sickly times.

Keep right on to the end of the plague.
Keep right on to the end,
tho’ you’re stuck at home with a garden gnome –
all you’ve got as a friend.
Tho’ you’re bored and dreary, still struggle on
to an outlook that’s grimly vague –
a desp’rate dump and a worldwide slump
that await . . . at the end . . . of the plague.


Whenever a government minister is challenged on the inadequacy of their department’s funding of vital services, they use the old trick of declaring “record spending”. With continuous inflation, it’s easy to spend record amounts. All it means is that they are spending slightly more than in any previous year – not that that they are spending enough. In real terms, they can be spending less than the previous year. Then, they further confuse the issue, by quickly adding, “This year we are spending £y million for a certain item and next year we have set aside a further £z million for a different item.” Thus they hope to duck important issues such as:

“We have been forced to cut the number of police on the beat.”

“We have been forced to cancel surgical operations because our beds are full of patients with nowhere to go.”

“We have been forced to cutback school lessons, stop supporting children with special needs and ask parents to pay for vital equipment.”

So, journalists all, please challenge ministers who try to get out of trouble by record use of this worn-out record.


I now offer a special service to my visitors – free comedy material. I realised that I had written a number of sketches, mini-dramas, song lyrics and so on, and liked the idea of sharing them with people with similar interests to my own. I felt it would be too much work to sell the stuff, so I am giving it away. Nearly all of it has been tried and tested by me or people close to me. Please see my new Comedy Material page.