A good week for the Talking of Bollocks with the detritus of Britain’s discredited elite desperate for our attention. Convicted felon and newspaper magnate Conrad Black, freshly released from an American prison, somehow weaseled his way onto every news and chat program in the UK using the opportunity to bang on about his supposed innocence. One wonders if all ex-cons will be allowed such media access or whether this will be reserved for those with royal connections and pots of money.
On Saturday Jeremy Hardy, who makes a living alleging prejudice in others, thought he’d engage in a little of his own during BBC Radio 4′s News Quiz when he suggested that Jimmy Saville should have been suspected of being a paedophile because of the way he looked. “How much more of a child abuser could you look like than Jimmy Saville for God’s sake!” hollered Mr. Hardy to uproarious laughter. But should people in glass houses really throw stones?
Ed Milliband made a speech attacking Jeremy Clarkson for making jokes about depressed people attempting suicide. Why do politicians think that their role is to comment on TV presenters? That’s my job. Attacking accepted hate figures is mere rabble rousing and Mr. Milliband’s patronising assumption that the depressed have no sense of humour is wide of the mark and not borne out by the number of comedians who suffer from this disorder. If politicians are really interested in helping the depressed they might consider replacing themselves with competent leaders with vision and integrity.
On Monday BBC Radio 4′s Food Program discussed food in football and documented how the “pie and pint” mentality had been displaced amongst professional footballers by attention to the nutritional effects of food. However, the supporters still want burger and chips so Islington council’s environmental health team worked with chip vans to reduce portion size and provide salt shakers with fewer holes.
The reporter stated that “Good food is now part of the Manchester City brand” and Head of Sales at Manchester City, Danny Wilson, claimed “ultimately it’s about adding value to a supporters experience on a match day”.
Ah, so that’s what football is about. It’s been said that the soul of football is “passion, community, honour, even beauty” but it seems in 21st Century Britain the soul of football is “added value”. This ties in nicely with Tuesday’s report on the closure of New Scotland Yard accompanied by the elimination of almost half of the front counter officers at police stations in London some of which will be replaced by officers at supermarkets.
There’s a new mobile phone company named Everything Everywhere. It’s a good name and it symbolises what is happening to our society.
Everything is becoming everything else.
In a society geared totally around capitalism there is no room for anything which does not drive profit. We want everything to be about nothing more than efficiency and added value. In my lifetime super markets have gone from selling just groceries to supplying clothes, electrical goods, alcohol, drugs and banking services. Now we are to have a bobby behind the checkout counter and since politicians consider that their role is to “communicate a message” then why not move their “services” to the supermarket too? A Politicians isle? Down the right, the more economic Tory brands and down the left, pay a little bit extra for universal health care from Labour. Stacked at the end are the odds and sods bin for the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Ulster Unionists. Efficiency and technology mean we can vote out the government and report crimes while we scan our meat pies!
Rape madame? Certainly, that’s Isle 5 and we’re doing a two for one offer on Vitullo kits.
A good front page in the FT today which seems to epitomise the uncertain economic spirit of the age. They ran a series of headlines referring to the London Interbank Lending Rate (LIBOR) which Barclays were found to be fiddling earlier in the year:
UK to overhaul benchmark interest rate
US regulator calls for faster Libor reform
Fast Libor reform ‘risks causing chaos’
Or, in layman’s terms, “Fuck, what shall we do? Don’t worry we’ll do something. For God’s sake get on with it, do it now! Oh Fuck! What are you doing? Don’t do that for Christ sake!
The arrival of the head of the British armed forces
It can be no mystery to followers of Talking Bollocks that I abhor sport. Sure I dabble at sailing but mainly for the fresh air and pretty colours. If truth be known, the sound I find most irritating is that of an overexcited football commentator bawling his stupid head off because a man in shorts has kicked a ball into a large net.
Last Friday I arranged to meet some friends at a pub in London and was told that we had a table and could watch the Olympics Games opening ceremony starting at 9pm. My heart sank. The installation of TV in pubs is a disaster to rank alongside the invention of marketing and I anticipated an evening watching boring people do boring things.
I arrived early and we had a few drinks. The ceremony started with a lot of silly shepherds and I mainly ignored it. I shall not bother you with the cliched story of how my interest was, at first piqued, and then enthralled. Early commentary had contrasted the London extravaganza with the opening ceremony in Beijing four years earlier which was said to be a very militaristic affair. I applauded the difference. I loved the anarchic, individualistic, irreverence of London. In short I ended the evening in a state of over-sentimental patriotic idiocy as was, no doubt, the intention of the now God-like Danny Boil.
I am not now converted to the cause of sport but I have been paying more attention than I would normally have done and it seems to be going reasonably well. If nothing else it has achieved something I have long wished for which is the eradication of the surfeit of tourists in our capital city.
I have heard that many Olympic events have left numerous seats unoccupied and and that the army have been called upon to fill the seats. I guess this was inevitable after they were called in to handle security. It does seem to be setting a pattern though especially as The Queen is head of the British Armed forces and was escorted to the opening ceremony by a (fictional) Royal Navy Commander.
I wonder……since the failure to supply adequate refreshment at several equestrienne events, why not get the army in to do the catering too? In fact…..after today’s banning of several badminton players, perhaps we might even start replacing individual competitors with soldiers? Danny Boyle and Sebastian Coe could be given honorary ranks in the SAS and, by the time of the closing ceremony, we might achieve a 100% militarised Games?
The British have a general tendency to drag up The Second World War at the drop of a hat and, now I think back, didn’t I hear the strains of either 633 Squadron or The Damn Busters during the opening performance? Perhaps the contrast with the Beijing games is not so great after all?
Arriving in Shoreham just before 7pm, I drove around looking for what I expected would be a crusty nautical themed building. I stopped and asked a couple who pointed to the modern block of flats towering over me with RopeTackle written down the side. Ah, it’s there is it.
Inside Ms. Eclair was being introduced and when she came on her style was buoyant, irreverent and self deprecating. One feels as if one knows her from her TV and radio appearances. Her colourful speech, embellished with the odd “fuck”, “ball bag” and “Perimenopause” gave the middle class, middle aged, middle Englanders a thrill that had one woman tittering most of the way through. Which is as it should be because, though this demographic is the butt of her humour, it is also where her empathy and humanity seem to lie.
During her introduction Ms. Eclair joked about how she had been discarded from the cast of Loose Women and she seems genuinely to regret this as she used to get a free breakfast at the ITV canteen and could be home by 2pm.
Ms. Eclair then read excerpts from the book. On the face of it there is not much to it. A woman living in London gets called back home to the North to attend her mother who has had an accident. However her prose is peppered with cynical, witty observations about middle classed life and “Women of a certain age” and various asides leads me to think that this is not just a humours book. The story deals with a crisis which any of us might face and the structure has two narrators, one of whom is unconscious. The last time I heard of anyone attempting this was a novel by Phillip K. Dick entitled Ubik.
After the reading Ms. Eclair took questions which set her off on excellent tangents such as revealing that every time she fills her car with petrol she can’t believe they are letting her do this!
Today the national conversion on racism appeared to descend into the depths of absurdity as The Independent and The Sun reported on the trial of England footballer John Terry charged with a racially-aggravated public order offence by making racist comments about fellow footballer Anton Ferdinand on the football field. It seems that the altercation began after they each barged into each other. The Independent and The Sun report the stories differently but it seems to have gone something like this.
Ferdinand claims: “He called me a cunt. I called him a cunt back and he gave me a gesture as if to say my breath smelled.” Ferdinand then said “How can you call me a cunt, you shagged your team-mate’s missus, you’re the cunt”. At this point the prosecutor claims that Terry shouted back: “Fuck off. Fuck off. Fucking black cunt. Fucking knobhead.” but Terry claims he asked Ferdinand if he had asked him if he’d called Ferdinand “a black cunt.” Terry agreed that he had been “stitched up right and proper” as he was sarcastically repeating the words that Ferdinand mistakenly thought he had used.
The prosecutor asked: “You said that your response was to repeat back ‘a black cunt’, or ‘calling me a black cunt?’ How about ‘what?’ Straightforward, ‘what?”‘ and Terry replied: “At the time I was shocked and angry. I had never been accused of it on a football pitch and repeated it back.” and added: “Hindsight’s a wonderful thing. At the time I was shocked, I was angry, you can’t control your emotions.”. He said he would have repeated the word “nigger” back if it had been used.
However, according to The Sun lip-reader Susan Whitewood told Westminster Magistrates’ Court that Terry had said: “You fucking black cunt . . . you fucking knobhead.” though under cross-examination Ms Whitewood conceded that lip reading is not an exact science.
Of course I am interpolating here as both The Sun and the Independent would not print many of the abusive words. Perhaps Ms. Whitewood did err in her reporting as The Independent seems to have changed their earlier version of the story and removed the word “knobhead”.
Since the British elite have fucked up so badly recently, what with the Credit Crunch, MPs expenses and phone hacking, we British seem to have acquired a taste for dragging the great and the good before judges and interrogating them. The Levenson Inquiry seems to be morphing into a version of Big Brother staring bankers, politicians and journalists.
I’m all for it!
However The Levenson Inquiry can be a little dry and lofty. Alright, for broadsheet readers but most of us like to have a quick browse of the Red Tops too. The Terry / Ferdinand controversy fills this gap nicely providing a more accesible insite into the antics of the rich and famous. It seems that Terry and Ferdinand are the comedic successors to Derek & Clive.
I hear that FIFA are at last to allow goal-line technology to help the referee determine the legitimacy of goals. Perhaps they should also mic up all the players and record what they say. It might prove quite useful in enabling a few more court actions and could prove vey entertaining.