Tag Archives: inheritance

What The Hobbit says about British society.

6 Jan

2AM Sunday 6 January 2013 Nunhead Heights.

I went with my oldest son, the 11-year-old Mini-Lew, to see The Hobbit at the Peckham Cineplex. I had never read any of Tolkien’s works, nor had I seen any movies based on his work.

When I was Mini-Lew’s age. some of the cooler kids in my hometown of Great Neck were reading Tolkien. I guess it was exotic to them, coming from England. This was many decades ago. I was still into collecting baseball cards and postage stamps and wasn’t part of that cool world. I didn’t know how to be part of that world.

My son, who is English, has read the book and loved the film. He is into that world. 

The essence of The Hobbit is this:

If you get into deep trouble you best have a wizard  following you around to come to your rescue. Otherwise, you’re screwed.

Why have the Dwarves fight or smart their way out of jams when the Wizard will blow up the mountain and crush their enemies? Unfortunately, having your own personal wizard is pretty much up to luck. And my kid, as far as I know, doesn’t have his own wizard.

In  The Wizard of Oz, the Oz Wizard provides no miracles and no salvation. He doesn’t kill Dorothy’s enemies or even gets her home. He only imparts self-belief. One can accomplish what one truly wants, he tells the four of them. Dorothy made her way to the Emerald City on her own and found her way back home on her own.

What is the Dwarves quest?

To recapture their historical home, the Lonely Mountain. It is a place of happiness and culture?  Is it a land of love of one’s fellow man? 

No. It is the bank where their ancestors had greedily hoarded gold and jewels. ‘Now that’s a motive that we can get behind!’ I write sarcastically. ‘Not fighting an Evil Empire, just a lust for gold.’

But Dorothy of Kansas’s home is filled with her lovely family and friends. Decent people. In The Hobbit, the Dwarves are just greedy bastards who invade the Hobbit’s home and wreck it. Rotten people, these Dwarves, on a rotten quest. 

Why is Thorin the leader of the Dwarves? He inherited it. But is he worthy of being followed, as the Wizard says he is?

Thorin is no genius. He is too stupid to know that his kingdom’s neighbors were not his enemies. And then he had expected his neighbors to come to his aid even though it meant they would be destroyed by the rampaging Dragon. And without the Wizard, the Dwarves would have been eaten alive under the command of Thorin. 

Thorin, the King of the Dwarves, is derisively put down by one of his enemies for losing his kingdom. One of the worst thing you can do in Britain is lose your inheritance. To the Manor Born and the Manor must be given to your oldest child.  And there is nothing more laughable than an ex-King. Think of the pompous Kings of Yugoslavia, the foppish Duke of Windsor, or the now irrelevant Mitt Romney.

The motto of the Queen of England is ‘We have held onto more stuff longer than any other British family.’ The Queen of England is President Assad or Mohammar Gaddafi or Assad plus four hundred years.

I grew up believing that ‘A man who dies rich is disgraced’ as Andrew Carnegie said. Carnegie is the man my second child is named after. He gave his money away to build schools and theatres. The Queen hoards her money to give to her children. I am not going to die rich so I have no fear of being disgraced that way. 

The Hobbit is propaganda by the British ruling classes to keep British children accepting the rule of their ‘betters’ and to know their place. 

I hope most Brits don’t believe that rancid ideology. It is so un-American – or the America I believe in – that I almost screamed in the theatre. Not that it would have mattered. We were in Peckham and screaming in the theatre  there isn’t  unusual.  

When the lights came on in the theatre I breathed a sigh of relief. I hadn’t wasted my childhood on that Tolkien garbage.

Sadly, my Mini-Lew has grown up immersed in that pro-monarchy, pro-ruling-class ideology. The ‘know your-place-as-you-don’t-have-a-wizard’ rubbish.  

He loves the Queen. Ah well, I still love him.  

What do you think about this? Tell me. Leave a comment. 

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed 

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio 

Live shows begin 8 January 2013

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow 


Screw Michelle Obama and her lovely family.

5 Sep

3PM Wednesday

Screw Michelle Obama and her lovely family.

Why must every friggin’ American politician announce that their parents didn’t have much money but they grew up with oodles of love, discipline, values and that their parents supported their families with two, three, ten jobs…?*

Insert scream here.

*Except the ones with oodles of money

I tried to watch Michelle Obama’s Democratic National Convention 2012 speech. My eyes caught on fire and I had to turn it off.

Not only couldn’t I stand the cringing rubbish of teachers who are fighting to make it through because the Republican cuts and the blinded no-leg soldiers who are going to run marathons and who would lose their eyes again for America.

But the most cringing is the glorification of her and Barack Obama’s parents. The deification, the sanctification, the glorification, the damned ications.

If it is true – if Michelle and her hubby Barack Obama were given massive love and a safe environment and had incredible role models as children – then they’ve had the same advantage as Mitt Romney, who grew up with money and inherited money.

Having loving parents is maybe a MORE unfair advantage than having just rich parents.

We all know it’s almost impossible to be a success with unearned money. The smartest rich Americans don’t leave their children much. Andrew Carnegie gave it all away and so is Bill Gates. That is very American.

The reverse is true here in Britain where the goal is to hand down the wealth that your parents gave you and then some. That is why Britain’s ruling elite, including the Royal Family, are so ill-suited to taking this country into the future. Britain is one giant game of hot potato. Risk adverse and possessive.

Anyone can be a success with the proper role models. Hard work and discipline is the most transferable and valuable of skills.

I didn’t have a safe environment to grow up it.

My mother was always buggering off into her dream world of anger and medications and depressions and periodic visits to psychiatric emergency wards and hospitals. I learned from my mother to see the sofa as a safe place.

My father was the brokest lawyer in the New York State Bar Association – in one of the most lucrative legal fields – Patent and Trademark Law. I don’t blame him for my failure because he actually worked. I didn’t see him doing it because he slaved in the AMF Building on Madison Avenue and in 15 Park Row, once the tallest building in the world. My mother wasn’t the best role model.

That said: I don’t know how loving Michelle Obama’s childhood was.

I do know that her husband – Barack Obama – didn’t have such a good childhood.

His African father fled his family to Kenya to have another family (or other families?) and Barack’s mother dumped him with his grandmother in Hawaii while she did some other stuff, I don’t remember what.

That isn’t why I don’t like Barack Obama.

Ronald Reagan had a drunken father and I think he was the second best president in my lifetime after Dwight David Eisenhower.

No, I don’t like the President cause he’s got some kind of score to settle. George W. Bush had a score against Saddam Hussein, and look where that got America.

Obama was raised by white people whom he probably believed had something to do with his African father being sent away. Resentment doesn’t make for a good president. Presidents have to get along with other people.

Either way, Michelle Obama is rubbish. Either she’s a braggart or she’s lying about their lovely, lovely, families.

Let me know if anything of this is factually incorrect. OR if any of this factually correct. I had rubbish parents and am doing the best I can.

@lewisschaffer – twitter feed

Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on http://www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday: Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, The Source Below, 11 Lower John Street, London W1F 9TY. Come on down. Free admission. Or reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow

Why English men dress so poorly.

10 May

11:59pm Thursday 10 May 2012 On the Eastern Branch of the Northern Line – Bank

Sherlock Holmes could tell that the old man had lost the love of his wife because his felt hat was caked in candle wax. I guess it was woman’s work back then to remove wax from a man’s hat. Ah, the good old days.

I am on my way to a gig in an ill-fitting, over-worn, unintentionally shiny suit. In New York I would never have gone out of the house like this. Here, I think: No one will notice or no one will care. Or I don’t care. 

Whom can I blame for my degradation?

Old men don’t seem to care how they look. They shave only parts of our faces – mysteriously missing huge growths around their necks and the hair coming out of their noses. They look like an exotic chickens. That’s not me, yet, I still shave nicely, but I have to watch myself. And I am not old! That comes at 59. I read that yesterday: Old comes at 59.

Can I blame England for my degradation?

When I first moved here I searched for a laundry to starch my shirts the New York-way. Hand ironed shirts would not do anywhere in Manhattan. They can make cotton Oxford cloth shirts as smooth as plastic. I couldn’t find one a laundry in East Dulwich/Nunhead to do it. I have to iron my own shirts.

The English, with their distrust of new money, abhor the flash that comes with new money. Flash, as in a new suit. Prince Charles, his Highness [he does look high with that “How long am I going to have to wait for Mummy to die” look.]  wears suits that are 30 years old. One shouldn’t have to buy new anything is the upper class ethos, because one should inherit it. I read that one English politician put down another with the insult “He had to buy his own furniture.”

You can still get points for looking like you don’t care. Take Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.  No one is as foppish or as messy as he is without effort. His hair is of unchanging length and color. Robert Redford is the same with his hair, but Redford makes his hair look amazing at 75 plus which is why he’s never won an Academy Award – he refuses to make himself ugly. [Only the beautiful who make them ugly win the awards.] Not that I can throw rocks when my glass house is L’Oreal Creme Gloss Natural Dark Brown.

English school boys are kitted out in ill-fitting polyester suits with sleeves and trouser legs too long or too short – bought three sizes to large to last and kept long after they’ve reached their right size. And their horrendous white plastic shirts with clip on ties that hang either down to their knees or don’t reach their belly buttons. Children are raised here to be comfortable being poorly attired. No wonder top business people here look like low-paid security guards in New York.

The dressing of a three-year-old in an over-sized black suit, tie, clunky black shoes and carrying a briefcase has the additional benefit of confusing perverts into thinking that’s not a child on the way to school but a small businessman on the way to the office.

Italian boys wear smocks and American children their own clothes to school and look at how amazing they look.

Fashion sense is such a problem in England the road agencies have taken to paint every street corner the words “Look Right!” New York comic Moody McCarthy pointed that out to me.

Okay, my shirts aren’t perfectly starched but I’m fighting going native. My not-perfect suit is making me squirm. My audience doesn’t want to see an mess of me, me thinks. They want to see a strong, powerful American man on stage who represents a strong, powerful America – the America that will come to England’s aid when the Germans come again. And the Germans are coming again – only they won’t be called “Germans” but “Europeans”.

And my audience needs to see a successful Lewis Schaffer so they can fling their derision at me without guilt and feel they are battling the giant and not the victim. My show is a form of panto; only the bad guy is in front of them and not behind them. The audience needs to believe that what I am telling them is probably a joke. “He’s doing fine! Don’t worry about him!”  But will they think that if I am wearing a four-year-old suit?

So that’s why I’m the best comic in England. Because I’m going to go out a buy a new suit even if I can get away with an old one. And I know how to wear one. And I am going clean the wax from hat and look for a new wife who’ll do it next time. You can’t drive the New York out of me. I’m not English yet.


The English are fond of the very subtle insult masked as a friendly joke – the kind that Reg Hunter says takes you three weeks to realise the guy was really insulting you. That kind of insult is called, in British English, “gervasing”. Ironically, it’s not named after Ricky Gervais but after Gervase, the soft French cream cheese. Bet you didn’t know that!

@lewisschaffer on twitter
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Middle Class though skint. More hatred for the English class system.

2 May

3:00pm Wednesday 2 May 2012 Nunhead Heights

Yesterday I was called “Middle Class” because I said I hated the Lower and Upper Classes of this country and today I was called “Middle Class” because I live in Nunhead.

I have a lot to learn about England if I didn’t know that Nunhead is considered “Middle Class” by the English. I think Nunhead is just a place where people who couldn’t afford East Dulwich live. Okay, that is Middle Class. I can’t even afford to live in Nunhead.

I am thinking about this class business  in part because of the wedding anniversary of Kate and William You Know Who. I am not sure of their last names.

I saw Prince William on TV a few years ago handing out the medals at the FA Cup Final – the big football tournament here. He was in his capacity as the “figurehead” of the Football Association. Across this country are magnificent buildings designed and built by the talented people and these buildings have the names of princes and queens on plaques attached to the buildings – figureheads. “Opened by Her Royal Princess, The Blah of Blah”. The guy who made the tea for the builders did more than the princess who turned up on the day it opened. Alas.

Did I just write “alas”, that expression of exasperation?

William was surrounded by footballers who had actually achieved something and he seemed very slight. [I am tempted to write “very slight, indeed” as that is what an English person would say. “Indeed” is the most overused word in England .]  It would have made more sense if he was chosen to give out the medals because he was rescue helicopter pilot and had saved many lives.

I don’t think many English people thought the prince seemed slight. Most English feel William deserves to be handing out medals. Imagine if the Gaddafi family had been in power for a thousand years? After a while the Libyans would be used to having them around and then they’d think they actually deserved to be bowed to. The Prince is just Saif who’s ancestors had gotten away with it.

The difference between class here and class back in America is that it is an ideology here and in America is an economic position. Here I’m Middle Class and in America I’m just broke.

[As blogged by John Fleming: The $10,000,000,000 bill ($10 billion)  given to me by the Zimbabwean girls last night at my show Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous isn’t as exchangeable as I thought. A $50 Billion note can be bought on ebay for £2.85 plus postage so my note is probably worth considerably less.]

How does one attain royalty status here? Well you could buy access to the royals through polo contests and the best schools and then hope your daughter marries into it. Sadly there are few of those winning lottery tickets to go around and Kate got the big one. And even fewer for men.

Anyone can become President of the United States. Being born rich is actually a drawback for Mitt Romney. Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama were all born of relatively modest means. What about Lincoln, Hoover, Truman, Grant and Jackson?

Maybe that is why the Working Classes here work so hard to see the benefits of being Working Class. They are stuck and even if they aren’t there’s a limit to how high they can climb. Yes, they can make money in England – be a Richard Branson or an Alan Sugar – but they will still have to kneel in front of the Queen. If you’re down maybe you need to find the joy in being down to earth.

A benefit of having a royalty is that no matter how successful someone is in this country, they aren’t truly a somebody if they haven’t been anointed by God. That brings everyone down a notch. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, still has to bow to the Queen, same as David Milliband, the leader of the opposition – the opposition to his brother Ed Milliband, the Leader of the Labour Party.

Personally, it isn’t how I would set up a country. It wasn’t how the Founding Fathers of America wanted to do it.  I have to live with it as it is the price I pay for being close to my children. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

It does say something good about this country that I feel free to write all this.  And I do feel guilty because there are those here who I love who love the royal family and think country need them. And it is a bit rude to tell my hosts that the way they run their house is wrong.

Luckily, the English who agree with me will say “alas, it cannot be changed” and the ones who don’t agree with me will think I am just a silly, rude American and very Middle Class, indeed.


Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday at the Source Below. Free admission. Reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow

Why I don’t like the English working class or Manchester City Football Club

30 Apr

8:30 PM Monday 30 April 2012 Nunhead Heights

Tonight is the big match between Manchester United and Manchester City. I am supporting United.

If I had been born in England I doubt I would have chosen to follow football. I found out too late that football is very “working class”. And I don’t like anything or anyone who calls itself or themselves “working class”.

Team sports in America are not class specific. Americans don’t even have classes: We have poor people, people with some money and rich people. If you come from a family who came on the Mayflower but you are broke, you are not Upper Class no matter what accent you have, what books you read or where you went to university. If your father is a patent attorney and you grew up in one of the richest towns in America and went to the tenth most expensive university in the USA but you live in an ex-council flat in Nunhead and barely make enough to pay your heavily discounted mortgage, you’re poor.

The rich and poor Americans follow baseball, basketball and football. The sole team sport that may be an exception is soccer. The middle class mothers – middle class economically and not middle class socially – think that soccer is gentler than the other sports and softer for their children. And the way they play soccer in America, it probably is. American killers don’t play soccer. If Roy Keane were born in Texas he would have been a baseball pitcher with a viscous fastball aimed at the hitter’s head.

All work is honorable and noble and necessary, including being a coal miner or a dishwasher, but surely there are better things one would want to do.  Claiming to be “working class” is nothing to be proud of. You’re making working with your hands a genetic trait, a culture or a religion, or maybe all three.

If you were ahead of the curve you would know the latest place to live, the right technology to learn and the up and coming business to get into. You wouldn’t have been at the mercy of Margaret Thatchers.

The poshest and the most successful people in England don’t follow football. They follow cricket or southern rugby – Rugby Union? Then again, I don’t like the upper class toffs in this country, either.

The posh people are behind the curve too, trying to hold onto to their shit at the expense of moving forward. Look at the royals with their rituals and possessions.

The highest value in England is to pass on to your children the shit your ancestors’ left you or the stuff you made yourself. If you don’t leave the castle to the 16th Earl of Somewhere you’re considered a wastrel. If you succeed you can rest in death. That is why the Queen is so respected. She has held onto her stuff and is secure it will be handed down.

In America you had better give your wealth away before you die because your children aren’t going to want to be known as “rich kids”. Who wants to be seen as inheriting Bill Gates’ money? Believe it or not, Paris Hilton actually made all her own money. And Bernie’s daughter Tamara Ecclestone gets no respect in the USA, I am sure of that. Based on the English ideology I will die a success because I was left nothing by my parents and I will pass on the same to my children.

Somewhere in between the working class and the upper class mentality are the best people of England. People like Simon Cowell, David Beckham, and Christopher Hitchens. Alan Sugar had it before he went all House of Lords.

Back to football.

When I first came to the UK I only knew of three football teams: Fulham – because an English friend had taken me to a game in the late 1980s and I remember being herded through barricades of police horses to Craven Cottage – mental; Nottingham Forest because I noticed the name in when the New York Times printed the old Division One table in the 1970s and thought it’s name was cute and it was in a middle position in the table; and finally, Manchester City. That is the truth. I would look at the tables and think: Where is the London team?

In the mid-90s I befriended a Man City supporter on a boat going down the Napo River, Ecuador, a tributary of the Amazon. Don’t ask what I was doing there. Actually, I was just avoiding work.

The way he explained it Man City was like the New York Mets, my team. City were the second team in town and Manchester United was like the New York Yankees. I used to hate the Yankees and their out-of-town front-running fans in their Yankee hats. Actually, when I was growing up, the Mets weren’t that poor a team but I had inherited my hatred of the Yankees from my Brooklyn Dodger fan father. When the Dodgers were stolen by Los Angeles he switched allegiances to the new team, the Mets.  [After seeing how supporters in Britain relate to other teams, I cannot say I truly hated the Yankees the way Sunderland hates Newcastle or Chelsea hates Arsenal or everyone hates Millwall.]

When I arrived in this country, I kept on supporting the underdog and naturally rooted for Man City. But something happened along the way and it was before I read United’s manager Alex Ferguson’s autobiography.

Why shouldn’t I give full respect for an organization that is well run? Why shouldn’t I support a manager who has won with ostensibly different teams over three decades? Why shouldn’t I support people who made their money the old fashioned way: They earned it?

I had made the mistake of falling in love with football but I could pick and choose the team I wanted. And now I want to support a team that wins fairly and prudently. And I want to love a team because are winners. That team is Manchester United.

And I will support Man U until they start losing. The idea of sticking with something that isn’t working is so working class and so upper class. I am going to dump them. I can do that because I’m not from here.
I could never dump the Mets.


Listen to Lewis Schaffer on the Radio Nunhead American Radio with Lewis Schaffer every Monday evening at 10:30PM on http://www.resonancefm.com and 104.4fm London. Or listen to the show’s podcasts at bit.ly/NunheadAmericanRadio

See Lewis Schaffer live every Tuesday and Wednesday at the Source Below. Free admission. Reserve at bit.ly/londonfreeshow

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comedian

SO IT GOES - John Fleming's blog

John Fleming’s blog: human interest, humour, humor, comedy blog featuring eccentricity, performance, movies and occasionally a few tears

Nunhead Nags

A blog about Nunhead regeneration

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comic

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comedian

SO IT GOES - John Fleming's blog

John Fleming’s blog: human interest, humour, humor, comedy blog featuring eccentricity, performance, movies and occasionally a few tears

Nunhead Nags

A blog about Nunhead regeneration

Lewis Schaffer

Nunhead American Comic