Monday, 26 October 2009

Liverpool's win ... and the down side of football

I know I shouldn't have been, but I was absolutely amazed at the sheer exuberance of Reds fans' celebrations after Liverpool beat Man U (Sun 25 Oct 09).

I saw whooping and cheering and wild dancing and beer spilled everywhere - and that was just people watching on a TV screen in a pub. What must the home crowd at at Anfield have been like?

Professional football, eh? Why does it evoke such passions? The physical reality of the game is this...

A bunch of grown men are paid millions of quid each season to chase a ball around a field and try to kick it through a rectangle formed by three posts while another, usually very tall man, tries to stop the ball.

The sport allows men who would otherwise be undistinguished - being in the main poorly educated and (in quite a few cases) downright thick - to display great athleticism and highly developed balls skill with the head and feet and chest.

And yet those physical skills are, bizarrely, the least significant aspects, culturally, politically and psychologically, of the global phenomenon that is football.

Competitive football is, and always has been, about tribalism, about beating "the other lot".

That, of course, means you usually have to "hate" the other lot.

I'm quite sure that all the tribalism, the passion, the hatred (for example, the widespread and deeply felt hatred of Manchester United) that is in football, is bad for humankind.

And remember, the sensationalised TV coverage of top flight games powerfully feeds and hypes up all that hatred and misplaced passion.

Also, the fact that so much money is now involved in the pro game - with obscenely large wages paid to Merseyside heroes such as Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres - is a highly negative force.

It means that fans are ripped off for their season tickets, and for the catering facilities within the stadia, and for all the naff merchandising that is so relentlessly marketed.

I wonder, when Premier League players gather socially together in their mansions are they laughing down their designer sleeves at the poor sods who put so much hope, so much anxiety and so much hard-earned cash into the game.

Friday, 23 October 2009

The political show trial the BBC just couldn’t resist

Shame on the BBC for giving a platform to people who would deny the dignity and worth of a fellow human being - and trample over free speech.

Yes, the hectoring approach adopted by the Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Tory Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Liberal-Democrat MP Chris Huhne and American writer Bonnie Greer on last night’s Question Time was an affront to decency.

And the BBC top brass should not have allowed the show’s usual format to be hijacked and used as a nasty and counter-productive show trial of BNP chairman Nick Griffin.

I don’t much like Nick Griffin, frankly, and I don’t at all care for his politics, but if he is to be invited on Question Time (and I think it right that he was, as a democratically elected politician) then at least he should have been allowed to properly answer the questions put to him.

It was clear from the start that the BBC intended this show to give Nick Griffin a tough time. That’s fine by me. Everyone who sets themselves up as a politician or a public commentator deserves a tough time.

But the BBC should not have abandoned Question Time’s usual format (of taking questions on various current affairs) and turn it into a bear pit in which Griffin was set up to have his credibility destroyed by a relentless series of sneering comments from both the other panellists and the largely hostile metropolitan audience.

Yes, Nick Griffin has a most murky past. We should not be surprised by that. Almost everyone involved in the queasy politics of British nationalism is tainted by association let alone direct involvement.

But if you refuse to allow such views to be even discussed, or if you shout them down, then you are trampling on freedom far more effectively than any fascist can manage.

Paradoxically, of all the panellists in last night show, Griffin was the only one who showed a semblance of humility.

And when attacked with vitriol and – seemingly at times, hatred – by members of the studio audience, he reacted with humour and tolerance, even though such personal abuse usually attracts censure when directed at mainstream politicians.

An Asian man in the audience proclaimed passionately that he loved Britain, was born and educated here. It was a genuinely moving part of the programme. So, the man asked Griffin: “Where to you want me to go?”

The Asian man suggested that Griffin and his supporters should go to the South Pole, adding: “It’s a colourless landscape, it will suit you.”

The BNP leader didn’t let the insult rile him. He told the Asian guy calmly: “I’m very happy for you to stay here.”

Elsewhere in the programme Griffin was told he was disgusting, and even that he had “slimy arms”.

There was a lot of such childish name-calling, but Griffin didn’t let it get to him. He stayed calm under fire. He kept smiling. Given the scale of the hostility shown him, his calmness was remarkable.

That is not to say I agree with Griffin. He did appear shifty and evasive when asked about the Holocaust, about his association with the Klu Klux Klan, and was curiously old-fashioned about homosexuality.

But other things he said – counter-cultural things about the left-wing bias of the BBC, for instance – will have stuck chords with many viewers.

All the questions on the show (apart from the last one) were used as a hammer to batter Griffin – and that made me every bit as uncomfortable as hearing the man’s views on race, racial identity and religion, which I certainly don’t agree with.

The final question concerned the columnist Jan Moir’s critical comments about the death of the gay Boyzone singer, Stephen Gately. The other panellists came out with the usual “freedom of the press” line, but Griffin chose to add that if you must speak / write about the dead then you should “say nothing but good”. It would be hard for anyone to find fault with that.

I don’t agree with those who say Griffin came out of the broadcast badly. I do think Jack Straw came across poorly though, particularly with his lame attempts to defend the mess the Government has made of immigration and border control.

Frankly, Griffin came across as someone who refused to buckle when under ferocious attack by the nasty, proscriptive liberal establishment.

And that, unfortunately perhaps, will garner him and the BNP considerable sympathy as the bullied underdogs of British politics.

Friday, 9 October 2009

European monsters ...

What a shame the Irish voted for the Lisbon Treaty, thereby allowing “Dave” Cameron – the British Tory leader and probably next Prime Minister – to backslide on allowing Brits a vote on their destiny as an independent nation.

Now we wait for legal challenges to this rotten treaty in the Czech Republic.

And once that “obstacle” is overcome, the undemocratic and corporatist monster that is the EU will be one step to turning itself into a lumbering nation state.

We mustn’t be too critical of the Tories because, after all, it was the New Labour Government that betrayed our country (the UK) by breaking its manifesto promise to allow a referendum on the European Constitution; the forerunner of the Lisbon Treaty (and, in reality, a sinister, back-door version of it).

The British, I feel sure, if consulted in a referendum, would vote ‘no’ to the treaty, and thereby stick two fingers up at the whole despicable European project.

But many people are losing sight of the basics of the argument about Europe. Britain is a nation. And it is only within legitimate nations that freedom under the law can be ensured for the people. That is the crux of the present problem.

‘Freedom under the law’ is very important if we are to live good and civilised lives; if we are not to destroy each other as people by ruthlessly following our selfish desires.

Europe, manifestly, is not a nation. I don’t believe it ever will be or can be.

In recent years the growth in international law has weakened freedom under the law; so has the meddling activities of over-weaning inter-governmental organisations such as the EU.

It is time to roll back those restrictions and reclaim our freedom.

The people who want the EU to be a superstate are, mainly, politicians from individual nations within Europe who want a bigger stage, a grander platform, on which to pose and prattle. That is why the European political class have been so keen to form a “United States of Europe”, even though there is very little appetite for that among citizens.

And in preparing the ground for a new European state, the EU bureaucracy have refused to formally recognise and record the enormous role Christianity played in building our European nations, our great culture and art, our morality, and our justice systems.

So here we are today, poised uneasily before the attempted forced birth of a new secularist empire.

If the Lisbon Treaty is ratified (and it won’t be if the British are allowed a vote) then a President of the European Union will be chosen, in a typically undemocratic way, by EU heads of states and governments.

The front-runner for such a post currently is none other than that grinning ninny Tony Blair. He would love nothing better than to bestride the world as President of Europe.

That must not be allowed to happen.

We Brits have already had a bellyful of Tony Blair.

What we want … is to be a nation once again.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Politicians prattle and pose – but they’re all such nerds!

SOMEWHERE between the purity of the angels and the savagery of beasts – a wise man once remarked – there exists politics.

Meaning … angels can get by without governance and civil regulations and so can wild beasts. But humans cannot.

The philosopher Aristotle put it this way … man is a political animal. He meant that if we were all allowed to act as unfettered individuals, following selfish impulses, the result would be chaos and carnage.

The trouble is so many of us now despise politics and politicians ... and with very good cause.

In the UK, the summer’s scandal of greed surrounding MPs expenses has merely deepened public disillusionment.

And watching first the Liberal-Democrats’ and then Labour’s party conferences on TV, I could see a huge disconnection between life as perceived by ordinary citizens and as perceived by politicians.

Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron all display a huge deficiency of charisma. They are, all three of ‘em, nerds. They dress and speak like third-rate travelling salesmen.

And how I laughed when I heard the conference speech by Peter Mandelson described as “masterful”.

Bollocks! It was rubbish, full of camp posturing, and calls to patriotism which cannot be taken seriously, coming from a man who until quite recently had a top job in the undemocratic and anti-British EU.

Mandelson came across as a bonkers egomaniac in his speech on Monday in Brighton – like a man who shouts at strangers in the street.

And his ranting at the Tories at the end was so predictable. BORING!!

On Tuesday came Gordon Brown’s plodding effort. All that guff about “fighting to win for Britain”. What?! He’s sold Britain down the river time and time again.

And that ghastly warm-up act from his missus, Sarah, describing the dour loser as “my husband, my hero". Urgh!! Nurse, I need my private vomitarium!

Look Gordon, you’re a loser, and as Prime Minister you are unelected anyway. When the election comes you’ll be out on your sorry arse. I’d put money on it.

And anyway, on a very serious level, away from the madness of party conferences, the political system we use (representative liberal democracy involving competing political parties) is hopelessly outdated.

Oh, the men-in-suits, the platitudes, the narrow ideological parameters of moderate consensual politics. It’s all so yesterday.

International capitalism is where much of the real political power resides now – and national governments are virtually powerless to tackle big business.

Also, in recent years, nation states have encouraged their own irrelevance by: allowing international law (mainly run by militant liberal-fascists and backed by vile NGOs) to grow; and letting inter- governmental organisations such as the European Union to boss them about.

Meanwhile, all though its history, the United Nations has been riddled with corruption, and to this day remains a laughing stock.

It doesn’t make me happy to write any of the above.

Humankind needs poltics to fashion a good society, there can be no doubt about that.

Paradoxically perhaps, it is political society, with all its rules and institutions, which enables we mere mortals to live bigger and better lives.

So even if we feel mightily cheesed off with our politicians, for the moment it’s important we stay connected and involved in the democratic process … not least to ensure that some of our basic freedoms will endure.

And in Britain’s case, that we can dump this rotten Labour Government down the toilet of history.

The world is transforming rapidly, and the future is hard to predict, but we all have a duty to keep politics and political debate alive in the interim, not least at the national level, where what’s left of our freedom resides.

And hopefully, before too long, the rotten system of politics we have now will give way to something more relevant and more capable of advancing the achievements of human kind.

Hopefully, we’ll get real leaders again, the heroes who are needed, and not the likes of Brown, Clegg and Cameron.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

My radical solution to work and dole misery

MOST intelligent people have known for a long time that the official UK jobless figure (currently standing at 2,435,000) is big fat lie.

The fact is there are now SIX MILLION people living on benefits of one sort or another, while a good TEN million others (by my estimate) earn a living by toiling for the health service, edukashun, councils, social landlords, and the terrible, sloganising, logo-launching, spy camera-obsessed police “services”.

Then I guess you should count as “employed” have those who earn a pittance slaving away in all the ghastly shopping malls, chain stores and chain “restaurants” that so scar our country.

Plus, there are still a few million left working in old-fashioned manufacturing, agriculture and the liberal professions.

Taken as a whole, the UK’s economic and social system – a terrible mix of capitalism, unthinking consumerism and Liberal-Fascist Statism – is making almost everyone sadder than Mr Sad’s saddest collection of sadness. In his sad cupboard. On a sad day.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. People do need work, yes, but not as much of it as we persist in thinking they do.

The notion of working five-days-a-week is as untenable as it is undesirable - ecologically, politically, economically and culturally. So what’s to be done about things?

Well, in the short term, we might as well accept that we are living in an era of the Big State once again and make its power work for our collective good for once – by bringing about the one very simple, very big change we need. Namely, the following…

The Government should step in and making the FOUR-DAY-WORKING-WEEK the norm – by force of law. Of course, to do so would probably necessitate the UK withdrawing from the European Union and various international treaties but we need to do all of that anyway … and, besides, anything is possible in the strained and uncertain times just ahead of us.

The creation of the four-day-week would bring relief for the employed, many of whom are currently stressed to beyond endurance by their jobs. The measure would also create employment and training opportunities for those currently sat at home all day stuffing their faces with pizza and watching moronic daytime telly.

After a couple of years, the maximum working week, should be reduced further to three days, leading to a further reduction in stress, and more time for family, cultural and sporting life, that so many of us need. Plus there would be much more quality time philosophical musing and the writing of poetry – for those so inclined – and also more jobs for the long-term unemployed.

Taking an overall view of just where Westerns societies are at (technologically, ecomomically and ecologically) such a model of chilled out employment makes a lot of sense.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

My plan to save UK edukashun from disaster

NEARLY half a million young people leave school each summer in the UK without being able to speak properly or think at all seriously about anything.

As well as being staggeringly thick, so many of today's teenagers lack any internal moral compass.

Dysfunctional State schools fail to impart the difference between right and wrong, and so do feckless parents (themselves the victims of pisspoor British schooling). It’s a frightening situation.

Meanwhile, the Government lunges from one crap educational initiative to the next, while teachers remain demoralised and powerless to deal with violent pupils.

The failure in State education is deep and systemic.

So many teachers are off with stress, the situation is a national joke; so many pupils are suspended from schools every year that the authorities simply can't cope.

And the British public is becoming thicker with every succeeding generation.

Because of the situation is so dire, I propose an emergency remedy; a drastic five-point plan of action.

To put the following programme into operation would, of course, involve giving me political control of the UK, but would that be a bad thing?

After all in recent weeks, while that sad sack Gordon Brown has been on holiday, the country has been run first by an unhinged fundamentalist feminist, Harriet Harperson, and, then by an unelected Machiavalian manipulator who wears lilac loafers, Peter Mandelson.

Listen, my country needs me, and the first thing I will put right is the education system. Here's how ...

FIRST: Sack at least half of the teachers currently employed. For sure! They have, after all, proved themselves quite useless.

SECOND: Hire teachers from abroad to make up the shortfall (from the US, Australia and Canada, where teachers aren’t as utterly demoralised and beaten as they are here).

THIRD: Make it legal for schools to reintroduce the cane. Unless kids experience fear of physical chastisement they will never know respect – or wisdom (more of that later). Fear (of God) is, afterall, the beginning of all wisdom.

In order to bring back corporal punishment in schools our country will, of course, have to de-link itself from certain covenants of “international law” we have foolishly signed up to, but so be it. “International law” isn’t really law at all – it is organised liberal repression of national freedoms.

FOURTH: Introduce the new Sir Sam Brady National Curriculum, including compulsory training in…

- Reading, Writing and Arithmetic (absolutely essential, as must be obvious, even to a moron in a hurry)

- Personal Hygiene (because, yes, things have got so bad at home under millions of slobby parents)

- Cooking and Household Chores for Boys AND Girls (obviously)

- Personal Finance for Boys and Girls (because they will have to live in the real world and, at the very least have to understand how the benefits system works or how to wangle a job doing not very much with the local council when they leave school

- British and World History (with 80 per cent of the lessons focused on British history and not the false, sinister, wishy-washy re-written history so beloved of the Liberal-Left Fascists in the teaching unions

- Religious Instruction, with an 80 per cent focus on Christianity, because that’s the faith that very largely built our nation, though we must also include some teaching about the basics of all world faiths, with special emphasis on their moral teaching (because British youngsters are in dire need of moral training, which brings me to…)

FIFTH. Philosophy! I regard this as such a vitally important subject to be taught in schools that I have devoted a whole section of this posting to it. Because, as Epicurus remarked: “Philosophy is an activity which, though discourse and reasoning, procures for us a happy life.”

* The main branch of philosophy that ought to be taught is ethics, because in a world where religious faith is diminished as a backdrop to most people’s lives, we need something else (a back-up, if you like) to help us make choices about what to do and how to behave in a way that is good for us - and good for the survival and dignity of society as a whole.

* I would also teach what the philosophical masters said about politics. We owe it to ourselves to understand what politics is, and how, ultimately, it is the opposite of war and barbarism. We have a duty to be involved in it or at least informed about it.

* Pupils must learn what the greats said about love. It isn’t just about snogging, funsex and condoms. Young people need to know about the different forms of love – eros, philia, and agape.

* And we all need to be taught to think as deeply as we can, philosophically, about death, freedom, knowledge, art, humanity and wisdom.

* It is only by reading and considering in depth what greater minds than ours said about these subjects (starting with Plato and Aristotle) that we can put ourselves on the path to wisdom and happiness.

* The very word philosophy is based on the Greek word philosophia – meaning the love of, or the search for, wisdom.

* And the fact that human life can be so brutal, fragile, precious and dangerous is all the more reason to begin to steep our people in the basics of, and ignite their (hopefully lifelong) interest in, philosophy, as early as possible.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

The rubbishy cult of Michael Jackson

WHEN the story of Jackson’s death broke on Thursday evening (UK time), the response of the mainstream media was depressingly predictable … being mainly hype.

“The King of Pop is dead! Quick, somebody get Paul Gambaccini to crap on and on about it. Yeah, and what about that eccentric fork-bender, Uri Geller, wasn’t he a mate of Wacko? Let’s have him gushing incoherently.”

Then there’s Madonna; she can’t stop crying. Oh, Purrr-lease!!

Even those rent-a-quote political pygmies, Gordon Brown and 'Dave' Cameron, felt the need to lob in their twopenn'orth.

And so it went on. The once reliable BBC Radio 4 Today programme provided sickeningly reverential coverage. Jacko's 'genius' was compared to that of Mozart and Beethoven. How stupid!

Sky News' superficial 'Click' website-oriented news show was desperate to whip up reaction during an interview with a singularly inarticulate paparazzi picture agency boss.

But at least the pap guy touched on reality by indicating that Jacko wasn't really a hot a figure any more, not even by the crude standards of celebrity reportage.

Oh dear, that wasn't at all what the excitable Sky News wanted to hear.

The satellite channel was still endlessly recycling stale speculatation about the pop star by Sunday morning. It sent a tired and washed-out looking Kay Burley to LA do the usual reading of floral tributes and interviews with showbiz nonentities. Zzzzzzzzz.

And the fluffy news bunnies presenting BBC News 24 didn’t fare any better. They seemed to be in a mild panic about the death, having to roll with a showbiz story; how very vulgar!

The BBC News 24 autocue-readers are clearly uncomfortable when they can’t do their usual stuff of introducing safe package reports about Westminster village politics, poverty overseas, how horrid war is, feminism, racial harmony projects etc., plus all those toffee-nosed discussions about the real news gathered by genuine journalists who, of course, work for newspapers!

Let me tell the media wallies a basic truth. Not everybody on the planet was a Michael Jackson fan. Most people, including myself, didn’t care much at all for his music.

Apart from one very good early solo album, ‘Off the Wall’, produced by Quincy Jones and including the brilliant song ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’, much of Jackson’s musical output was mediocre or worse.

Now, I don’t want to speak ill of the man so soon after his death. Indeed, I will be saying some prayers that his soul will now find the repose that eluded him during his troubled life.

But Jackson’s music was aimed at his not-terribly-intelligent and rather na├»ve fans, so it was understandably ropey; lyrically at any rate.

And I remember being appalled by his performance at the 1996 Brit Awards of his overblown dirge, ‘Earth Song’.

Dressed in Christ-like robes and surrounded by worshippers, Jacko warbled thus:

“What about nature’s worth (Ooo,ooo) / It’s our planet’s womb (What about us) / What about animals (What about it) /We’ve turned kingdoms to dust (What about us) /What about elephants (What about us) /Have we lost their trust (What about us)”…etc etc.

The song is total b***ocks!

But the one immensely pleasing thing to come out of that appearance was a successful protest at Jackson’s pretentiousness by Jarvis Cocker, frontman of the British indie band Pulp, who climbed on stage and, literally, showed his arse!

There are lots of criticisms to be levelled against Jackson, as a man and as a parent, but I don’t want to go into those just now.

The singer clearly wasn't comfortable with himself or his appearance; and maybe not even with his racial identity. All of that must have been hard for him to bear.

Was it self-loathing that made him try to turn himself into a white man, or perhaps, more accurately, a disturbing parody of a white woman?

He certainly looked a lot like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? during his final years.

Jackson had a talent for showmanship, without a doubt, though it was at the coarser end of the performance art spectrum.

All that crotch-grabbing during the dance routines, urgh!

Wacko wasn’t the first and won’t be the last person to be ruined by the grotesque pressures of show business.

And towards the end of his life, he was a sort of zombie, such as those portrayed in his ‘Thriller’ video.

May he rest in the peace that he never found in life.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

This cruel show's popularity shames us all

IT is a hugely popular programme but it is wrong, wrong, wrong.

I refer, of course, to Britain’s Got Talent – the shameful cackfest that is pulling in the punters back to the (once great) ITV1, now re-branded especially for this column as The Moron Channel.

I think most reasonably intelligent people (errr, that’s probably no more than a third of Britain’s Got Talent’s viewers) will feel a little queasy about watching this freak-show-come-karaoke kontest.

Let me spell out why that queasiness, that stirring of moral consciousness (at last!) in bubble-headed modern Britain, comes from.

It comes from a residual – and correct – feeling that to showcase people as they are publicly humiliated, for the sake of making vast amounts of money for Piers Morgan, Simon Cowell and other ITV ghouls, is absolutely cowardly - and it stinks!

Take the case of Susan Boyle – the winner of the viewers’ phone vote last Sunday night. She’s a good singer, no doubt about it. But she is being encouraged to distort herself and cavort in a most unseemly manner by the ugly limelight this show has cast upon her.

It is not right to put a woman such as Susan Boyle through that process. I would say it is not good for her mental health. It is not good for the viewers either.

And on the same night Susan won, a 10-year-old girl, Natalie Okri, was rejected by a vote of the ghastly panel of Cowell, Morgan and Amanda Holden.

You could see the torture in poor Natalie’s face as she shuffled off in tears, shamed, and with a feeling of profound rejection rattling round her head, at the end.

No-one was there, in the few seconds when it mattered, to put their arm around her and comfort her.

And no-one was there, when it mattered, to stop her entering this dreadful series in the first place. The show's popularity shames us all.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Reasons not to be cheerful ... (1) Phillip Schofield ...

I SWITCHED on the box, hoping to cheer myself up, but – urrrgh! – the inane cheeriness of Phillip Schofield has the opposite effect on me.

The Moron Channel - ITV1 - now has a "celebrity" version of Mr & Mrs, the cheesy seventies couples’ quiz formerly hosted by Derek Batey, who’s now 103 and living in Lytham St Annes.

These days the show is called “All Star” Mr & Mrs – so of course it is packed with C-through-to-Z-listers from the worlds of acting, modelling, pop music and sport.

The hosts, fittingly perhaps for such mind-rotting awfulness, are now Philip Schofield (otherwise known as the Prince of Blandness) and the increasingly hysterical-sounding Fern Britton (all those diets and gastric bands have send her gaga … and she’s STILL a fat lass).

The contestants on the show included the goalie, Peter Shilton – who I’m glad to see has stopped perming his hair – and his normal-seeming missus Sue.

Apparently … wait for it! … Shilts once bought Sue a fur coat even though she’s an animal lover.

That little nugget of couple-iness had Phillip Schofield gagging for air in shock … then virtually wetting his pants from laughing so much.

Don’t ask me why mainstream TV presenters find everything that’s said on a show staggeringly amazing and funny. Maybe it is something they slip in the tea before filming.

Shilton did describe his wife as “my best friend as well as my wife”, which was (a) an isolated snippet of genuine emotion that somehow got through the editing stage, and (b) sweet, though not necessarily entertaining.

I don’t think there was a prize for ghastliest couple from the contestants – and let’s face it they’d all look quite appealing alongside Phil and Fern!

Also taking part in this nonsensical quiz were: an oaf out of Boyzone; and the giantess and actress of several dodgy films, Brigitte Nielsen , and her “model” husband, a dwarf called Mattia.

I was depressed when I sat down to watch this junk. I was virtually suicidal by the end of it.

Apparently Mattia’s “great in bed”, according to Brigitte. Oh Please! She’d never have been allowed to say that if Derek Batey was still in charge. Maybe they should bring him back. I see from his website he’s still available for after-dinner speaking and the opening of supermarkets – and those sorts of things take much more mental energy that fronting a prime-time cackfest on The Moron Channel.

What gets me is how intelligent people such as Phillip Schofield can bring themselves to take part in such condescending, demeaning rubbish.

Then again, he’s always been up for the gig.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Telly today – treating us all as thickos

YOU used to be able to rely on telly for a bit of light relief and entertainment – but nowadays it offers nothing but wall-to-wall tedium and has become a powerful aid to British society’s increasing stupidity and depression.

On Sunday night I looked in on Hell’s Kitchen (ITV1), expecting it to be crap – and it was.

Some young geezer with a dodgy barnet was complaining about his woman’s meat course being undercooked and that resulted in a bit of a tetchy situation with the highly strung waiter.

The chef Marco Pierre White, who has a reputation for a quick temper (yawn-yawn, how very predictable) had to deal with the young complainant and allowed him to remain in the restaurant.

Marco spoke to the guy in such a cold and arrogant way – playing up for the cameras, no doubt (more yawns, please chef!).

If I’d been the young guy I’d have lamped this imperious cook – who has a penchant for wearing preposterous tea-towels on his head.

This programme is, like all the other telly shows involving chefs, offers the most bland and unappetising of fare.

However, it wasn’t quite as congealed and rancid as a so-called comedy offering on BBC3, Horne & Corden. I think it was a repeat but it is so hard to tell these days – when everything has become contemptibly familiar through damnable reiteration.

One sketch, towards the end of the show, was bizarre, but not in a funny way. Horne & Corden – both over-exposed and overrated – played at being psychic magicians trying to summon horses onto their stage show. Err, that was it.

They got down on all fours and started whinnying like horses. Pathetic. Doesn’t the Beeb have anyone vaguely normal to check these shows for basic quality and comprehension before they are transmitted?

And I see that ITV1 has brought back the moron-fodder known as Beat The Star. This is another example of telly for adults being so stupid and banal in its content that you would think it was aimed at children.

I saw about five minutes of some sub-Gladiators nonsense about an ordinary punter from a sugar beet factory shimmying up a long plastic tube in competition with the rugby player turned telly dancing tart, Austin Healey.

Then I turned off because “after the break” they were clearly going to mess about in mud in funny little karts… like big kids.

The show was puerile nonsense that treated its studio audience like idiots, which to be fair, they probably were … judging by all the silly shrieking they were doing.

I would honestly say to anyone, if you want to improve your life 100 per cent instantly then simply turn your telly off and go out … for a walk … to visit your auntie … to go to the pub – anything but watch the shameful bilge that is modern television.

And if the weather is too inclement for going out, then go to your bathroom and clean the grouting and / or the lavatory bowl – because that will be more entertaining and better for your mind, heart and soul that watching TV.

I am thinking of devoting fewer of these postings to TV-related matter, which I regard as beneath contempt and hardly worthy of the attention of someone with a brain as big as mine.

Besides which, the vapid "personalities" on TV are simply not cool enough to be in my gang.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A twisted anthem to the topsy-turvy values of the BBC

EVEN as a one-off, sugar-coated musical morality play All the Small Things (BBC1 Tue) would have been a waste of time and money.

But it's been stretched into a six-parter. Incredible!

Saucy woman singer with cone-to-bed eyes and the badly dubbed voice of an angel (Sarah Alexander) walks into a happy-clappy local church choir and immediately the weak-willed choirmaster (Neil Pearson) falls in lust with her.

You can tell this is a BBC drama because the main male character (Pearson) is a vain, home-wrecking bastard, while his missus (Sarah Lancashire) is a saintly, loveable mumsy.

In the Nasty Liberal Thought Control Section of BBC Drama: Man = Bad, and Woman = Good. There can be no deviation from that formula. Off-message writers who try to portray social reality will be exterminated. Repeat. Exterminated!

And if that wasn’t enough to have you weeping into your Guardian, this crock of politically correct cack from Debbie Horsfield also had … a black guy with learning difficulties, a dwarf (female), a son with some form of autism, and two Comedy Fatties from Central Casting.

Now look… there is nothing wrong with having people in the cast of all shapes and sizes and social and cultural backgrounds, skin colour etc. But why does the BBC have to be so bloody formulaic about it? Everyone’s intelligence is being insulted.

As for storyline… er, let me see... The saintly Sarah Lancashire encourages her autistic son (Richard Fleeshman, formerly of Corrie) to be lead singer in a rock band – but only after he’s been rescued from nasty male bullies (who, obviously, in the twisted context of the BBC's La La Land, are too thick and insensitive to recognise autism).

Then, of course, in a scene of cheesy optimism, Sarah’s lad and his rock band enter a choral music competition (huh?!) – which they win.

Yes, that’s right. They beat Pearson’s choir to the top prize, after inexplicably getting the middle aged audience and judges literally dancing in the aisles! As if… Must be drugs.

Then there is the sex thang… all done Richard Curtis rom-com style. Flashing eyes, knowing smirks, the meeting in a trendy wine bar, tut-tutting by assorted old biddies on the periphery … you know the drill. BORING!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Early Doors sticks two fingers up to Britain's Smoking Ban Nazis

It’s something to cheer, I suppose, that one of the precious few good shows commissioned by the BBC in recent years is back for a series of reruns.
Early Doors was always a brilliant, poetic, philosophical, character-driven sitcom.
I came home from work the other night, feeling knackered, and slightly down-hearted because, as everyone knows, there is never anything worth watching on telly on Tuesdays.
(EastEnders? I'd rather stick needles in my eyes. It is condescending twaddle about the working classes - clunkingly written in politically correct jargon beloved of middle class luvvies at the BBC.)
But Early Doors is quality. It's a gentle and slow-paced show set in a back street Northern English pub. It doesn't strain for laughs; it often makes you think profoundly about the absurdity of modern life and the lazy and corrupt characters you come across (such as greedy, bent police officers).
Old Tommy, who sits on his own, is my favourite character. His grimace perfectly sums up what I feel about contemporary British society ... utter weariness at the sheer stupidity of it all, occasional disgust, and a sure knowledge that life used to be better. Much better.
Meanwhile, Winnie the cleaner shows a sly wit, and Ken the landlord has much human warmth, masked by a gruff exterior. Though many of the characters are defective in many ways, collectively, you can't help but love 'em.
It is a show that benefits from perfect casting and writing .. .and you can't say that about many.
And watching it again as a repeat on BBC4 I was also seduced by the lovely smoky character of the Grapes pub.
Wreaths of curling ciggie smoke are part of the elegant beauty and the comforting atmosphere of the traditional British pub. When these programmes were made, the hated smoking ban in workplaces had not been introduced.
It made think again how very unfair that blanket ban was – and how much pleasure it has taken away from people.
The ban has also contributed in a big way to the huge wave of pub closures now under way in our country. That’s not good at all.
When a pub closes, you are not just losing a business but a focal point for the community.
Pubs are sacred to our memories. In each backstreet pub so many tender scenes have taken place down the decades: jokes have been told; tears shed; words of love spoken; baptisms, birthdays and weddings celebrated; and precious last cigarettes have been tenderly handed over to mates and loved ones.
To destroy all that with a total smoking ban on dubious health grounds was a hateful and sinister act by our tyrannical Labour Government.
To my mind, the smoking ban isn't even about health.
It's about freedom – which, actually, is much more important.
Because there is little point being healthy if you aren't allowed to be free.
Before the current "Ban It" madness infected our mainstream political culture, the only powerful people to be rabidly anti-smoking were the Nazis under Adolf Hitler.
They are the spiritual inspiration for the proscriptive anti-smoking martinets now infesting the UK Government and National Health Service.
It is strange that such a lovely and quintessentially British programme such as Early Doors should be such a powerful and eloquent reminder of just how beautiful and enjoyable smoking in pubs used to be.
Nearly all the show’s characters smoke. If a new series is to be made, then I suppose the Grapes will have to feature a wretched Smoke Hole in its yard, where the regulars will have to go and freeze their knackers off and get wet if they choose to spark up ... just like we have to do in real life.
A final thought ... three cheers to Coronation Street for not giving in the pressure from Britain's thin-lipped Smoke Ban Nazis to run "positive" stories showing the benefits of giving up the habit.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Are YOU working class and beautiful like old ITV … or Liberal-Fascist like the modern BBC?

IT’S rather a shame that ITV is crumbling to dust and can’t even come up with good new ideas any more. Demons?! How derivative is it possible to be?
In the glory days of British television (the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s) ITV was more than a telly channel … it was a badge of national cultural identity.
In those days, you were either an ITV person (lively, quick-witted, working class, and rather beautiful) or you were a BBC person (stuffy, bourgeois, Pooterish and humourless).
Nowadays, of course, television is much expanded and yet, paradoxically, it’s not nearly such a potent force culturally.
But suppose for a minute we Brits still identified ourselves by our choice of TV network; then I guess an ITV Person would now be nervous, short of money, insecure, bereft of ideas.
And a BBC Person would be a Liberal-Fascist, hideously corporatist and obsessed with racial issues and feminism.
So I guess ITV still represents the majority of British people … just about!
Meanwhile, one gem of quality writing and character-driven humour survives on ITV, thrives even … and that is Coronation Street.
Last night’s episode saw Becky within five minutes end her engagement to thick-as-a-plank Jason Grimshaw, get engaged and move in with Steve McDonald, and have a blazing row with Steve’s ex, Michelle.
We also saw Steve have a bust-up with both his mam and Eileen.
It was entertaining stuff and as ever there was a neat philosophical contrast between all the passion going on … and Roy and Hayley Cropper, just a few feet away in the Rovers, together the epitome of buttoned up propriety and pained humanity.
And that’s before you consider that Roy is a pathological misfit – and Hayley a transsexual.
The actor who plays Ken Barlow, original cast member William Roache, is now on leave as he grieves for the death of his wife.
I hope the weeks ahead go as well as can be expected for William, and that soon he is back at work to continue Ken’s exquisite illicit romance with the narrowboat-dwelling siren played by Stephanie Beacham.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Friendship at first sight

WELL, I hope you and yours had a good Valentine’s Day and evening.
And if you are single, then I hope all the slushiness, sentimentality and the cheesy concentration on couples shown by restaurants and shops didn’t annoy you too much.
It is good to talk of love, and to write about it too. The subject has, after all, enthralled poets and philosophers since the earliest days of humanity.
I wrote a poem for my beloved 'Posh Boots' for Valentine’s Day and placed it in a beautiful Art Deco repro frame as a present for her.
She loved it, of course. Who wouldn’t be delighted to have a poem written especially for you?
And she deserves to have such verses written for her. We love each other; it’s as simple and as complicated as that.
But don’t worry, I am not going to replicate my poem for Posh Boots here; it’s too personal.
Today, in any case, I don’t intend to linger on the subject of love because, for many people in these days of record numbers of single people, love is absent … or painful.
Hardly any of us finds an ideal partner we truly love for the full run of a life-long relationship.
Some of us go for years without a partner, without love, and then find it quite late in life.
Others find love, enjoy it for a few years, and then lose it.
Welcome to life in our fallen world; it was never meant to be easy.
But today, I want to focus on friendship rather more than what we normally understand as love.
Love of the emotional, sexual variety is intense and, at times, all-consuming. Friendship is cooler yet every bit as important and is, actually, itself a form of love.
Who amongst us hasn’t told our friends that we love them?
Never mind that we might be p***ed as farts at the time. In Vino Veritas – in wine there is truth.
There is a fascinating poem by Robert Graves called Friendship at First Sight. That title raises the possibility of friendships that are formed magically at the first meeting or sight of someone.
Here’s what Graves wrote ...
'Love at first sight,' some say, misnaming
Discovery of twinned helplessness
Against the huge tug of procreation.
But friendship at first sight? This also
Catches fiercely at the surprised heart
So that the cheek blanches and then blushes.
Now, I think it is great, absolutely thrilling, to think that love at first sight happens, as many people who have experienced it will attest.
But I think it equally stunning that friendship at first sight can occur.
I’ve not known the privilege of experiencing love at first sight. Love needs a chance to grow … in my heart anyway.
But I think I have, on several occasions throughout my life, experienced friendship at first sight.
And when I think of each of those instances, though they be many years apart from each other, I know bonds were made that will last a lifetime.
How comforting it is to know, when the world is undergoing massive change and considerable distress that something as brilliant and valuable as friendship at first sight can happen. It makes you feel good about being human.
And for all the singletons around in this post-Valentine’s Day period, don’t forget that love, while it rarely comes at first sight, is still in plentiful supply. It may well be just around the corner for you. I hope it is.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Paris Hilton's cackfest / pouting on Sky News

I’M not remotely interested in anything Paris Hilton says or does. Not many people I know are.
And inane, televised chatter from young British people competing to be her best friend is my idea of utter hideousness and pointlessness combined.
Now, I know only too well just how shallow and thick young Britons can be – they have a demented addiction to trashy celebrity and they’ve suffered from p***poor education in our awful state schools.
So perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that some young folk actually volunteered to take part in Paris Hilton’s British Best Friend (ITV2).
This takes reality TV to moronic new lows. Paris sets sad little tests for her wannabe buddies and they, being daft and therefore prone to manipulation and exploitation, are only too ready to jump through hoops.
The cynical TV executives who commissioned this pathetic cackfest of a show should hang their heads in shame.
One by one Paris’ putative pals are eliminated – or walk out, feeling weary and convinced they have made a Big Mistake (which they have, all of them).
I forced myself to watch a slice of it last night (Tuesday 10 February). Hilton – the blonde bubblehead of an heiress who recently had the brass neck to ask Paul McCartney if she could duet with him – sits on a sort of throne while the contestants emote incoherently and bitch about one another … “you’re not genuine!” seems to be the most common charge they put to each other.
Talking of blonde vacuity, I am amazed at the lip-glossed, excitable glamour that the female presenters on Sky News try, and usually fail, to project.
They’re all at it, pouting away like billy-ho, but Anna Botting is the worse offender – with her silly Kathy Kirby-style glittery lipgloss.
It's as if they've all attended the same puckering up classes as queen pouter Kay Burley.
And last night (Tuesday 10 February) there was a new (to me) face up there, a bird who looked like a blonde version of that pneumatic little strumpet Rosie Webster on Coronation Street. All this glamour seems inappropriate on a news channel with serious pretensions. Sky News would be better advised recruiting hefty, plain lasses to read the news, as the BBC News channel does in the main.
It doesn’t matter if the presenters don’t have much in the way of personality, eloquence or brains. We’ve come to accept that.
But as long as they can read the autocue without seeming to peer through fog, and they can ask some half-decent questions of weary politicians / confused foreigners etc, that’ll do us.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Welcome to the Cretin Land that is British TV

MAYBE I’m just a jaded old fart, but I find almost everything I see on telly in this supposedly fabulous, digital age, not just boring but profoundly, worryingly depressing.
The general output across the UK freeview channels (the only ones I can be arsed to receive) convinces me that both the content providers of TV, and the viewers, are just so very thick, and their behaviour juvenile and repetitive.
The only programmes I actually look forward to watching these days are Coronation Street, Scrubs, and Harry Hill’s TV Burp. Perhaps I should add that I thought the Rab C Nesbit Crimbo special was also a blast - as indeed was an old repeat of the subversively philosophical Scottish sitcom which I saw just the other night.
Everything else is… shite, frankly.
Let’s examine the evidence … endless cops and docs pap (YES, including Whitechapel) … hysterical karaoke contests such as the Eurovision confection currently under way … the campfest Dancing on Ice … a ridiculous Pimp My Ride show featuring that idiot maracas merchant, Bez, from the Happy Mondays … and the absolute moron-fodder that is Hollyoaks.
Then there was something I watched about a Scrapheap Challenge which featured middle-aged men behaving like excitable schoolboy nerds ... and the return of Jonathan Ross' chat show with him greasing up shamlelessly to Tom Cruise (wot, no questions about Scientology?!) before asking the actor whether he farted in bed with his wife.
Modern telly, eh? Garbage piled upon garbage.
I was going to say that at least through January we’ve had a rest from seeing those lip-glossed bimbos Girls Aloud prancing around like sex industry workers as they did all over the Christmas period, but then again I’m sure while channel-hopping the other day up they popped again … or maybe it was just a bad dream.
Can anyone remember a single Girls Aloud song? The Women’s Liberation Movement struggled in vain and punk rock was futile if these cheap, tacky, groin-thrusting airheads are considered good.
Contemporary TV lacks the following qualities: good writing; and a different take on life other than that defined by our ailing pop music industry, tired old sex jokes, and the dead hand of a reality TV that's packed with celebrity-lite no-marks.
In future postings I will, of course, continue to have my say on the monstrous mess that is the TV industry, but I shall also be focusing on other weak spots in the culture of our country (Britain) and that of the wider, crumbling, degenerate West.
Keep the faith,