Apologies for the longer-than-expected break, but On the Podium is back, fully recharged, and ready for another shot at picking out the biggest, best, most interesting and daftest things that have caught our eyes this week. If you can find another blog this week that covers both the lead singer of Arcade Fire performing David Bowie’s Heroes through a megaphone, and also SEO funding, then we’re not doing our job properly.

With no further ado, here are this week’s OnthePodium top three.

Third Place: flooding takes the biscuit

There was nothing good about the recent floods in Cumbria. Long-suffering residents were hit by two heavy floods in quick succession, right around Christmas, and it demonstrated very neatly that expensive flood prevention measures have basically failed. The emergency services, though, performed fantastically, as did an army of volunteers who moved quickly to offer help and support.

Despite how grim the news was, we have to admit we we’re a sucker for a brand that is able to retain a level of self-awareness, not to mention a dry (sorry) sense of humour, even when crises are unfolding around them.

United Biscuits, which owns the brands Carrs and McVities, kept its tongue firmly in its cheek when its Carlisle factory flooded, meaning that it had to cease production of its aptly-named Water Biscuits.

The firm took out an advert in the Times newspaper that simply read:

“Flooding in water biscuit factory. Oh the irony.”

Well played, and good luck drying out those ovens.

Second place: Billy Connolly

I was raised from birth on Billy Connolly songs and quotes – the cleaner ones, at least. Then, when I was old enough to figure out how to use the record player at home, would sneak listens to his stand-up performances on vinyl. Two of his jokes in particular – Ivan the Terrible and Football Violence – have stuck in my mind, and there’s no doubt that Billy Connolly played a huge part in shaping both my sense of humour and my view of the world in general.

Billy Connolly this week accepted an Award at the National Television Awards, and in doing so revealed the full extent of his battle with Parkinson’s Disease, with which he was diagnosed four years ago. It’s tough to see your heroes struggling with illness, but he took to the stage with his traditional panache, and even managed a gentle pop at the Catholic Church while he was there.

I can only hope that in my old age, when whatever illness I’m heading for has me firmly in its hold, I can still manage to take the piss like this.

Here’s Billy Connolly in his prime, performing the soundtrack of my childhood:


First place: David Bowie’s last laugh

Speaking of heroes, the loss of David Bowie early last week is proving a tough one for the nation to get over. There’s nothing we can add here to the vast amounts that have been written and said already, so instead here are three fantastic things about Bowie that have emerged since his death:

  1. The last person he followed on Twitter was God. A fairly inconsequential fact in itself, but it’s nice to think Bowie had a smile to himself about that one in his final moments.
  2. He turned down working with Coldplay on a song they had written, on the basis that it wasn’t very good. You can’t say fairer than that.
  3. His death brought New Orleans to a standstill, as the city’s musicians took to the streets to pay tribute to him with his very own Jazz Funeral. Oh, and the procession was led by Win Butler, lead singer of Arcade Fire. He’s the guy in pink. It’s just so cool it hurts.


Finally, the semi-occasional Podium word of the week:

1. money provided, especially by an organisation or government, for a particular purpose.
2. the action or practice of providing funding.